Disclaimer: Teen Titans and its counterparts are not mine.
Written to prove to Kater and Airdrie I haven't lost the RobStar feeling. Honest. Set somewhere in season one.
Some of these chapters are oneshots, some are part of a sequence of events, but they're all in the same 'universe'. Appropriately named. Sometimes I push the T limit.
Broken Record moment: I am Australian, thus all spelling and slang will be different. I am also still working from an Ipad. Bare minimum formatting and no grammar checks. Doing my best.
There is a hidden flower in most chapters.
Earth was amazing, Starfire decided within days of arriving. Copious amounts of multicellular life, or 'animals' as they were called, the varieties and species present, air, water, earth, even little beings which lived in fire. The planet teemed with life, much like Tamaran of old. The ability of the humourous green boy to turn into every animal, whether it still existed or not was incredible and he spent many hours showing Starfire the various life forms he had seen and she marveled at each and every one of them.
Strange green and stationary beings which were embedded in the ground that Robin told her were named trees. Different shapes and styles of tree, different races, ferns and fungus and algae, it was all so incredible and fascinating to learn.
It was interesting how humans classified objects. So generalised in their thinking. That was a tree, this was a tree, even thought they looked nothing alike. Clearly, they all had similar characteristics, leaves, trunk, the root systems which embedded them into the ground, but Starfire couldn't understand why they all just insisted they were trees. Then she discovered just how many species of tree there really were and understood why they generalised everything.
So much life.
Most of the plants were edible in one form or other too. More generalisation, this was considered vegetable, that was a fruit, the seeds of this one could be cultivated and then ground to produce a powdery substance which was used to create other food forms, this one had seeds and they were called 'nuts' but Starfire quickly learnt she had to remove the tasty and crunchy outer-shell before she ate them in public or the humans around would have the most odd expressions on their faces.
And that was just the start of it. All their foods could be combined into a meal. It wasn't just dumped on the table in its natural form to be devoured and battled over, hoarding and growing at the other combatants to get a fair share. Humans had so much food, everything was so... mundane. Small bites, one plate each... did they not enjoy their food? Why did they not feel the need to proudly announce how much enjoyed themselves with a hearty belch? Why did they not engorge themselves on their food, hands and faces, why did they insist on using the 'fork' and 'knife'. Miniature weapons that were used to daintily cut and slice the food into bite sized morsels.
Starfire quickly learn the utensils themselves weren't supposed to be eaten when the meal was complete. Also, licking a plate clean was considered rude. Getting food smeared on her face was also rude. Sitting on the table to eat was rude. Everything she did seemed to be impolite and rude and had the four people she had become friendly with staring at her in disgust.
Which was most hurtful and confusing. She was different, she knew that, but why did they not accept it? She certainly didn't mind that they wasted so much food, leaving scraps and bones on their plates. The calcium skeleton of a creature was often the most delicious part, why did they just ignore them? Skinning their fruit before they ate it, leaving the 'core'.
And it wasn't just food. Clothing, strange garments called 'underwear'. Weapons couldn't be carried in public. A wolf whistle was not a request for a duel. Shopping, Starfire couldn't just take what she wanted, things needed to be purchased with small odd rectangular things with pictures drawn on them. And not just any pictures, they didn't accept the paper she had so painstakingly copied to present and Robin had to explain money and laundering and how they fitted together.
Not to mention how much they insisted on touching her.
Robin was the worst offender. Hands on her shoulders or upper arm. Combat practice which involved some form of human wrestling which he quickly discarded after she had nearly broke his arm. Fingers that would brush as he handed her something. How he caught her in battle if she fell, didn't he know she was quite capable of protecting herself? Asking to be lifted and carried if they needed to get after a criminal quickly. Why did his contact with her fluster her so much and not in a 'Unhand the Princess' way. His contact made her feel... nice.
Beast Boy curling up on her lap as he slept in the strange yet cute feline form called a 'cat'. Cyborg and his elbow nudges and knee bumps and one arm hugs. Thank X'hal Raven did not share the same affliction, this necessity of contact as the boys did. Starfire was a princess, not that she told them that. Off-worlders were not supposed to touch her.
Except, she was the off-worlder here. She needed to abide by their rules and humans touched each other. Even on the street, they shook each other's hands, slapped each others back, pressed their lips to cheeks... and... lips...
Starfire had to change herself so much in those first few weeks to be acceptable. Not all of the changes were good. She felt like she had given up a part of herself to live on Earth. So she accentuated other parts of her culture. Blorthog. Trying to get her friends to try the foods she had specially shipped in from Tamaran. Comparing things to Tamaran, the phrase 'On my planet...' quickly became a common expression. A constant reminder she was not like them.
But some of the changes...
The touching, for example... She'd never been allowed to just touch another being whenever she wanted. Never been allowed to express affection so readily by hugging another, Raven aside because the last thing Starfire wanted was to be blasted again. All her taboos about how inappropriate it was to touch someone outside a family circle -and not in battle- quickly became superseded by a more hands on approach. Perhaps she overcompensation but Starfire found she didn't care. It was glorious that she could express herself so freely.
Interaction with the opposite sex... Robin. He was so different than a Tamaranian male, and yet so similar. His niceness... his smile, a curving of the lips that depicted happiness and not battle and for some strange reason her lips curved in response. It was infectious. And then she couldn't stop smiling.
The concept of friendship was another human trait she was quite willing to embrace wholeheartedly. How it wasn't weak to accept help and find comradery. Niceness and caring. Things that had been missing on Tamaran and Starfire had simply accepted it, but now she had experienced something different, she knew she could never go back to the way she was before.
In her own way, Starfire knew she was becoming human. Or at least, as human as a Tamaranian can be.
Robin truly had turned her universe upside down. The niceness he showed, not just once, not because he wanted anything from her but because he cared. Constantly. It was something she had only ever experienced from her k'norfka Galfore and Galfore never made her feel this way.
Yet, she couldn't find a way to express her appreciation for everything he had shown her. A way to say 'thank you', because every time she tried, he just laughed and said there wasn't anything to be thankful for, he was just being a good friend.
The concept of politeness sometimes still escaped her.
Earthlings had traditions, however, when it came to saying thank you to someone.
Cyborg told her the way to express gratitude was to cook him something nice. Guys loved food, it was a perfect token. As Robin pried the wustlepus suckers away from his face and scowled, suddenly food seemed like a very bad idea.
Beast Boy said everyone appreciated pats, but Starfire discovered that no, that was possibly just Beast Boy himself. Robin was most particular about his hair and patting his head just made his arms flail.
Raven... Starfire turned away from Raven's door without even voicing the question.
The television held some promising ideas, however. Starfire stared bright eyed at the advertisement on the screen. "Say it with flowers," it promised.
What, exactly, could be said with flowers confused her.
Starfire went to the computer to run a search on the 'internet', a central database which held many of Earth's wonders, as well as copious teenage rantings, opinions, drawings, falsified information and... the porn... which had been locked out of the Tower before it had even finished being built.
Flowers, she discovered, had many meanings, many traditions involved in them.
Carnations had different meanings depending upon their colours and Starfire discovered a lot of flowers had the same effect. Roses. Tulips. Poppies. Lillies. It was hard to chose a single one.
The cactus meant endurance. The daisy depicted innocence. The daffodil had many different meanings, from respect to unrequited love. The coriander flower meant lust, which Starfire found interesting since her Tamaranian name was so similar to it.
Hydrangeas meant 'thank you for understanding', but it could also mean heartlessness. The sweet pea meant 'thank you', but it was also a departure. Mistletoe meant 'kiss me' and Starfire stored that particular thought away for later. Aster was a flower of love, buttercup was of cheeriness. Orange blossom meant innocence and eternal love, the orchid had multiple meanings, love, beauty.
The pink rose... Appreciation, grace, perfect happiness, admiration, affection.
It was perfect. It summarised everything she felt in one little flower.
Finding a pink rose was easy. So was purchasing a bunch of them at the florist, despite the giggling of the girls behind the counter. So was carrying them through the town carefully instead of flying so she didn't damage the petals. But standing outside Robin's bedroom, she lost her nerve.
Starfire shifted her weight from foot to foot. She clenched the flowers, the plastic covering crinkled against her palm. She didn't have any idea what she was going to say to him. Getting the flowers had been easy. Finding the words, now that was hard.
But she was a warrior, bravery was in her blood and if this was truly the wrong approach of saying thank you to Robin, she could simply hide behind being an alien and not knowing better. X'hal knew her heritage had gotten her out of plenty of embarrassing moments.
So, she knocked on the door.
"Yup," Robin called from inside his room. "Sec, Beast Boy. On my way."
"It is Starfire."
"Oh... um..." She heard Robin cough, before his footsteps headed to the door. "Hey, Star," he said, smiling as the door swished open. "What's up... is someone sending you flowers?" he asked, his voice strange.
Starfire glanced at the flowers in her hand. "Oh. No, these are for you."
Robin sighed heavily and scrubbed his face with his hand. "Gah. Fangirls," he said, his voice dripping sarcasm, then he scolded, "You should've left them outside."
Starfire blinked in surprise. "No-"
His hand closed around their stems. "I'll get rid of them."
She did not release them, suddenly hurt. "But-"
"We shouldn't accept gifts," Robin said, stern. "Remember what happened with the puppets? It got us into a world of trouble. I thought I'd tightened up security around the tower so we didn't get any unregistered gifts."
"-probably dangerous," Robin continued, tugging. "In Gotham, we had someone who could manipulate plants. She used to hide toxins in innocent flower bouquets."
Starfire held firm. "But Robin, there is nothing wrong with these flowers."
He tugged further. "You don't know that, Star. Please let go."
"How could you destroy something so beautiful?"
"They're just flowers."
Unwillingly, her grip loosened and Robin was able to pull them from her grasp. "Just flowers?"
Staring at him, Starfire protested, "But the internet said flowers had meanings-"
"The internet says a lot of thing, Star," Robin said, walking toward the incinerator shoot in the corner. "Most of it is bogus."
Starfire watched, appalled and hurt as the flowers disappeared down the hatch. Her thoughtful Earthen gift to show how much she appreciated his friendship, gone like it didn't matter.
Robin shook his head at the shoot and brushed his hands together. "There."
Her hands dropped to her sides, dejected. Anxiety and hurt knotted in to a ball in her stomachs.
"Now," Robin said, turning back toward her. "Beast Boy, Cy and I are having a gaming marathon, did you want... what's wrong?"
Everything within her screamed to cover up her mistake with the 'stupid alien' act she employed to save herself for embarrassment, to be a warrior and not allow this to effect her, but one tear betrayed her.
"Starfire?" Robin asked, really concerned now.
She swallowed and turned away. "They were from me," she whispered as she fled to her room.
Silly, stupid alien. She flopped on her bed face first, then covered her head in her hands. She thought she was doing something nice, meaningful, human, but Robin hadn't seen it the same way. He had been completely flippant and disregarded her gesture completely.
She was never going to fit in here.
Why did Earthlings have to be so confusing?
Starfire must have wallowed for at least an hour before she decided it was not worth it. She would just blame it on what she usually did, her lack of understanding of Earthling culture. Clearly, she had not thought through her gift enough, or thought it through too much, in whatever case, she had been wrong. Her gift was not well received and she would just have to find a different way of expressing her thanks to him.
Rolling onto her back she studied the roof. Perhaps she should brave Raven's inner sanctum and ask her opinion. Surely there must be some way of showing her appreciation for Robin. What other things were appropriate gifts on Earth to do so? Was there anything he would accept?
There was a soft knock at the door, followed by, "Star?"
Starfire sighed and sat up, keeping her back to the door. "Yes?"
"Um... Can I come in?"
"If you must."
"Well, that sounded ominous," Robin said as the door swished open.
"My apologies," Starfire replied with a sigh, looking at the ground. "I do not feel particularly social at present."
"That's my fault," Robin responded. "I'm sorry. I didn't... I mean... I wasn't... I'm..."
Starfire shook her head, preventing his further babbling. "I was... ill informed. Our cultures are not the same, I should not be trying to imitate yours when I know so little."
"No, you weren't," Robin insisted and the bed beside Starfire depressed as he sat down. "Flowers are a good way of expressing yourself. And you tried to do a nice thing and I didn't see. Just... girls don't normally buy guys flowers, that's all. It's usually a present a guy gets for a girl. And... wow... I never realised just how much they could say."
"Like... the ones you got for me... happiness and appreciation, right?"
Starfire nodded again. "And admiration."
"And affection. Pink roses say a lot."
Starfire nodded a third time. "I just wished to say thank you for all for the niceness and patience you have shown to me while I adjusted to life of Earth. I do not think I would have stayed if you had not demonstrated how glorious it is here."
"You could've just told me how you felt."
She offered him a weak smile and dropped her eyes from his just as fast. "It is difficult, I never know what is appropriate to express on Earth."
"Do you know what yellow tulips mean?" Robin asked, changing the subject.
Starfire lifted her head, staring at the yellow upside down bell shaped flower he suddenly held in her eyesight. "I... cannot recall."
"It means 'there's sunshine in your smile'."
Starfire's stomachs gave a little flutter. "It does?"
Robin nodded and placed the flower in her hand, then presented her with a bushel of little white ones. "Orange blossom for innocence," he said, placing the sprig in her hand, then offered up another flower. "Dandelion for happiness."
She stared at him.
"Daffodil for respect. Purple hyacinth for 'sorry I was a jerk'."
Starfire giggled as he placed that one in her hand.
"Iris for 'your friendship means so much to me'," he continued, placing another flower in her now cupped and overflowing with blossoms palms. "A gladioli for 'give me a break, I'm new at this'."
She giggled some more and Robin grinned in return, then held up one last flower. His cheeks went a little pink as he placed it in her hands. "And lastly a jonquil."
Starfire blinked. "What does that one mean?" she asked when he didn't say anything else.
Robin smiled at her, then tapped the side of his nose, a gesture she knew meant it was a secret. "I'll never tell." He plucked out the tulip from her cornucopia of flowers and then gently tucked it behind her ear. "Earthlings are just as bad at expressing things too," he mentioned.
"Then it is a good thing we have flowers to tell us."
"I'm glad you're my friend, Star," he mumbled, a little bashful.
Starfire smiled. "I am glad too."
He coughed, embarrassed and tugged the collar of his cape. "So. Um. I'm about an hour late for this game marathon we're supposed to be having. Did you want to come?"
Starfire nodded. "Of course."
Robin nudged her shoulder with his. "Those need water. I'll... um... see you in the common room." He stood and walked toward the door. "Oh. For future reference, don't buy me flowers if you want to say thanks... or anything else for that matter. A box of chocolates is fine, I can share that with you."
Starfire nodded and stored the information away for later. "Chocolates. Very well."
Starfire smiled as she watched him leave. With a delighted sigh she fetched a small cylindrical glass vial, filled it with water and carefully arranged the flowers in it, then floated for the common room.
"Nice flower," Raven commented, looking up from her book as Starfire entered.
Starfire beamed and gently touched her fingers to the tulip behind her ear, her eyes flicking over to Robin, who was astutely trying to ignore everything else but the game on the screen. "Yes. It is."
Different websites have different meanings for flowers, even florists can't really agree on their meanings anymore. Some flowers have different interpretations, but they really say what you want them to say. Everything mentioned here is a commonly accepted meaning for a particular flower.