Pairing(s): past Kory/Dick, Kori/Jason

Rating: T

Disclaimer: All characters belong to DC comics and are used without permission. No profit was made from this work. Mild spoilers for RHatO #4.

Warnings: Non-graphic mentions of sex

A DCnU!Starfire character study, because she deserves better. Note: this fic had to be reuploaded due to the summary not being rated G. Sorry for those who reviewed; just know that I read them, and enjoyed knowing you cared enough to tell me what you thought. =)

It isn't like she's trying to be a self-absorbed bitch; really, she isn't. She knows that Red Hood's real name is Jason, and that Arsenal's is Roy, not Ray, or Rick, or whatever else she happens to call him at the time. She wasn't lying when she said she did not know the list of names that were rattled off to her; it's just that she felt something else instead. She feels more than recognizes the people she should know, spine-tingling sensations and short snaps of images racing through her mind with every name. Some mean more than others, the different qualities setting nerves alive, sparks of lightning racing through synapses, as she tries desperately to grasp hold of her thoughts.

Her mind, these days, is fragile, weak, her memories tangled up and strewn about like- what is the Earth dish? Something long and thin and made of wheat, twirling on a utensil... ah, yes, the humans call it "pasta". Like a bowl of cooked pasta that has been dropped on the floor, the pieces dirtied and mussed but still undeniably there. There are times, when she has curled up in whatever the Outlaws choose to call a bed for the night, that she will reach out and take hold of one of those pasta strands, and just let the feelings crash over her for as long as she can, wave after wave of nameless emotion, until she releases it, frightened, overwhelmed.

She has many of these pasta-memories, most of them too sullied to understand, but the strongest are that of a man; a kind, handsome, truly wonderful man whom she knows she should feel something for. But there is nothing in her heart, empty and cold as it is, a fireplace, elegant though it might be, that has never known the warmth of a flame. It is pure, untarnished of soot, and she so very wishes for a heart that is positively filthy. The yearning claws at her orange skin, burns an acidic path down her spine, until, anguished, she knots her fingers in her long red locks, tearing at the strands as if they are the memories themselves. Rip the pasta-memories out, gouge them from mind... better this way, so much better, better to have nothing than not enough, never enough, getitoutgetitoutgetitout!

Lying in bed with Jason after sex, she can feel the ghost of His touches on her skin; not Jason's, but that of The Man, or so she has dubbed Him, nameless as He remains. The aura exuded by The Man is nothing like what Jason gives off; her friend (Can he even be called that? Have I even the right?) is a troubled soul, the aches of so many not-pasta-memories weighing him down. Jason is tormented, maybe even more so than she, afflicted not by the lack of love, but by the loss of it.

But this is what plagues me too, is it not? Her mind tells her one thing, that she is an unsullied hearth, but the pasta-memories, the half-feelings, they tell her the opposite. She feels The Man, feels His hands fondling her breasts, feels Him release inside of her, feels the heat of His breath as He whispers words of adoration, words of love, in her ears. She feels Him if she thinks too hard, tugs too hard on that single pasta strand, and knows that to do so just a little harder would pull it loose, set it free.

But to do so would be dangerous, so very dangerous, would it even be worth the risk? Because then she would know, and knowledge is a frightful thing. She would finally know The Man's name, know their history, know the depths of their love, know why those words in my ear eventually stopped. And to know that, well, it might just be too much.

So, now she lies here, a beaten victim, while Jason and Roy rush about playing hero. Crux, the cowardly bastard, whispers in her ear, and she feebly wishes to hear the tenderness of The Man's voice instead. Welcome to the human race. "Princess". What a cruel joke! She was never truly a princess, nothing but a spare child, willingly given into slavery. The only princess of Tamaran is Komand'r, beautiful Komand'r, beautiful elder sister whom I could never be, no matter how hard I prayed to X'Hal.

This is it, she realizes, this is her doom, this is how she dies, not a princess but a runaway slave, with pasta-memories and a fireplace-heart pure from love; and she cries, each tear shed for all she has once known but no longer does, and yanks on the pasta-memory, tears it from the mess with all her might. Rather than the chaos she expected her mind would collapse into, she is once again overwhelmed, this time by peace, as she watches Crux fly away into Earth's bright blue sky. She draws a trembling breath, and then releases it, The Man's name on her lips.

"R-r-r-r... Ich'ard?"

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