The Unbearable Solemnity of Being (Fifteen).


Not only have I only sporadically written romance, but I have never written Rob/Star before, and, in fact, I have never written either Robin or Starfire as the main characters of anything before. So this is going to get exciting.

Everyone pays attention to how romantically bumbling Beast Boy is, but it is important to keep in mind that at least he got a girl to go out with him without waiting five seasons and a movie. (She tried to kill him, but that is entirely beside the point.) So have a little Awkward Robin.

Dick Grayson was not inherently a romantic. Not really. Sure, he got the basic concept, but he'd always figured himself to be too... clinical, too meticulous.

But Kory made him want to hold her in his arms and murmur to her in French (and now he was regretting taking German, and regretting even more that the only German phrase he could produce on command was wo sind meine Dudelsäcke). To stand up at a karaoke bar and sing Savage Garden songs that she'd know he was singing for her (did she like Savage Garden? That was probably worth finding out, just in case). To stand underneath her window with a bouquet of roses and a boombox (and if she didn't like Savage Garden, then he'd play that one Dire Straits song- the one that went 'you and me babe, how about it?' Or, failing that, some Tupac. Everyone liked Tupac. Possibly not the one where he went on about fucking Biggie Smalls' wife.)

Sure, he was only fifteen, but he'd seen several thousand hours' worth of romantic comedies (Victor and Gar must never know), read Pride and Prejudice all the way through (never know), and once read Barbara's entire stack of Teen Girl Magazine back issues when he was bored (never. know.), and as far as he was concerned, that was a pretty solid grounding in affairs of the heart.

Of course, the trick was getting her to realise he liked her without any risk of looking like an idiot.

Enter the great leveller: alcopops.

Dick was feeling pretty good about this party. He was wearing his nicest shoes, his coolest shirt, his least obnoxious deodorant, and his hair was so meticulously spiked that headbutting someone would probably count as Assault With A Deadly Weapon. He was, in his not-precisely-humble opinion, looking pretty smooth.

Which was good, because that meant he could get away with leaning against the wall looking too cool to say anything, which was in turn good because while when it came to looking cool, he was a master, when it came to sounding cool... well. There was a reason why he carefully cultivated a reputation as Too Cool For Complete Sentences, and it wasn't just because his voice had been in the process of breaking for about six months now.

So he was just leaning against the wall, bottle of something lime-green and carbonated in his hand, just... watching. Watching her move.

Elegant didn't even begin to describe it. While the ability to travel from the kitchen to the dance floor (which was thoughtfully placed in the living room- i.e. the crossroads where everyone had to pass through to get anywhere) with a full glass without spilling anything was a valuable skill, and one every budding partygoer did well to master, Dick was certain nobody had ever managed it quite like Kory. She flowed like water around Victor's (terrible, terrible terrible attempt at dancing the) robot without even seeming to notice he was there. She moved through the throng of frantically flailing teenagers, and Dick couldn't be sure but it looked to him like she never even touched anyone- just slid and slipped through with what Dick was forced to describe as catlike elegance.

His eyes never left her as she half-turned towards the conservatory- at least half the guests were standing on the patio at this point (Garfield among them, which was one reason why Dick wouldn't be going out there. If he knew Gar- and, for whatever reason, he did- then he would have drunk enough by now to collapse on Dick's shoulder and mutter something along the lines of 'I loveyaman, yer my bessfren' in the whole worl' but don'- don' tell Vic or he'll ge' stroppy', and Dick hadn't drunk enough to think he could deal with that)- but his throat suddenly seized up as she noticed him, and changed course.

Oh hell here she came.

Dick tried desperately to bolster his cool. He had good shoes, check. Nice shirt, check. Awesome hair, check. Athletic physique? He was a trained acrobat, so he was pretty sure that was a check. Dark and mysterious past? Check and double check. Vast wealth (not that he was really sure that Kory would really be impressed by that, but it could hardly hurt)- well, technically it wasn't his wealth, but yeah. He lived in a mansion. Not too shabby. And last thing- brooding coolkid persona?

"Richard!"

-Yeah, he'd get back to that one in a second.

She was calling to him, happily drunk (and that made two of them, he guessed)- her cheeks were flushed and her head was tilted slightly as she weaved over to his little patch of wall, so she was peering out from behind a brilliant curtain of hair and she might as well have just punched him in the face.

'Hnnagh', said Dick's brain.

'Hnnagh', said Dick's dick.

'hurtle flurtle', mumbled Dick's liver, chiming in.

"Hey Kory, what's up?" said Dick's gall bladder, seizing the only chance it could see at not being stabbed with a kitchen knife by a very angry Kory Anders.

He though he saw her glance at the ceiling in consternation, but chalked it up to drink.

"I had something I wanted to tell you," she said, her normally-precise diction turned absurdly deliberative by drink, "but now I have forgotten what it was." She giggled slightly, and Dick joined in, just so she wouldn't feel awkward.

Before he could think of anything intelligent to say, she looked over her shoulder at a knot of people- and Dick noticed with a sudden thrill of terror that Kory's older sister was among them, and he knew that nothing wholesome could be happening if the older Anders sister was involved- with an expression of almost irritation, almost defiance on her face.

And two tenths of a second before he realised what was going on, he was distracted by Kory turning back to him.

"Richard. I believe I have remembered why I am here." There was something odd in her voice that he couldn't analyse because right that second she was leaning in and kissing him.

The kiss was brief- a sudden flutter of her lips against his, and by the time his heart remembered to beat again, it was over.

It was, to be frank, a bit of a disappointment. She pulled away, and for a second their eyes met and Dick felt a moment of electric terror flash between them, but before he could think of a damn thing to say, Kory was turning and fleeing with her head held high. Back to the knot of people she had left, who were looking at her now in a kind of vicious approval.

Oh.

Dick shook his head, and pushed himself up from the wall with sudden purpose. He knew exactly what he was going to do.

He was going to get himself another drink, and then he was going to go outside and talk to Gar. That was the only sensible response he could think of, which just went to show how incredibly confused he was right now.

In every group of teenage boys, the one that first manages to get a girlfriend is always treated with the awed reverence of an explorer- a pimpled Cortés, bringing back to their social circle wild tales of mysterious treasures- of wonderbras and nylon tights, hickeys furtively displayed like battle scars.

Unfortunately for him, in this metaphor, Gar Logan was Ferdinand Magellan. His two-month relationship with Tara Markov had utterly obliterated Victor's previous record of Karen Looked At Me In The Cafeteria, but given the way it had all turned out, Dick found it hard to envy him.

Apparently, nobody had known she suffered paranoid delusions until thirty seconds after she tried to kill Gar with a pair of compasses. Headmaster Wilson had seen the girl shipped off to some institute for the criminally deranged (or something) before the afternoon was out, and that was pretty much the only decision the Head made that Dick had ever agreed with.

And that was that- it looked like a resolution, if you ignored any of the details.

But still, it was enough that he might actually have something useful to say in this situation. Possibly.

Dick found Gar standing in the garden, observing a rose bush with the attentive eye of an art critic

"Gar. I need to talk to you."

He gave as dispassionate a summary of his quandary as he could, while Gar nodded attentively. Or perhaps he was just swaying in the breeze and waiting for Dick to shut up so he could pass out properly- Gar's scrawny vegan constitution was so notoriously susceptible to intoxication that he got tipsy every time he used mouthwash.

But wonder of wonders, it seemed that he was actually about to contribute. His face screwed up, and he raised on finger, in an unsteady attempt to appear as though he was making an important point.

"Dude, your problem is you're overthinking it. Maybe... maybe she just likes you? 'Snot that far-fetched, yannow?"

"You really think so?"

"Yeah. Yeah! Of course I do! And you know what you've gotta do now, dude?"

"Yeah!"

"Yeah!"

"...Wait, what've I gotta do?"

"Dude. Find her. Talk to her. Trust me, if she likes you, you'll know. Worst case scenario..." Gar's eyes unfocussed as they travelled back in time. "Okay, maybe I'm not the guy to talk to about worst-case scenarios, dude. Still, chicks dig scars. Although I should probably find a better story about how I got 'em."

Dick nodded, sombrely. Gar had needed a lot of stitches that day.

"So," Gar said, after a moment. "You know what you're going to do?"

"Yeah. Just... talk to her. I can manage that. Yeah. Easy."

But he didn't find her again, instead deciding to pass out on the sofa at about one in the morning.

These things happened.

Monday morning hit Dick like a truck. Sunday had come and gone with Dick barely conscious, marinading in a hangover and- if he was entirely honest- brooding. The confidence he had felt after Gar's impromptu pep talk had evaporated with his failure to find Kory again, and by the time school began again he was once again convinced that everything was going to be terrible forever.

Even lunch was mocking him- Alfred had packed him ham and dijon mustard sandwiches, and Dick knew for a fact that those were Kory's favourite sandwiches in the whole world. All he wanted to do right now was sit in a cave on the top of a mountain and fight bears until he forgot that Kory Anders even existed.

And that was going to be completely impossible if he kept running into things that reminded him of her- he'd just bumped into her sister at the entrance to the cafeteria, and she'd given him this look that he couldn't decipher and didn't really want to- and it was going to be completely impossible to forget her when she was right there, sitting right there at a table all by herself.

This was it. This was his time. If he cocked this up, he was pretty sure Garfield would be bringing it up at Dick's funeral.

He hovered on the precipice, clutching his lunch in front of him like he was about to slay a gorgon, and the brown paper bag of sandwiches was his mirrored shield. He inched forward, toes stretching as though he were making his way up to a very deep drop.

Fortunately, Richard Grayson was intimately familiar with yawning heights, and he knew the best thing to do was jump. Or at least fall with some style.

He sat down next to her, and was rewarded with another flash of those brilliant eyes, shyly coming up to meet his. A small smile flicked across her features, as though it wasn't quite certain it belonged there, and Dick felt his own mouth tug in response.

So their first moment had been a little less than magical. That just meant there was nowhere to go but up.