Chapter 1: Hopeful
Hello and thank you for joining me on my second multi-chaptered story. As indicated in the summary, this story begins as the Trouble in Tokyo movie ends and follows the next great adventure of their lives.
I will focus primarily on RobxStar, but there's a heavy emphasis on BBxRae which begins in chapter 2 and Red X will be introduced eventually.
Anyway, thanks again and enjoy!
"This has to be one of the best moments of my life," Robin thought. He waved enthusiastically to the thronging Tokyo crowds gathered to celebrate the Titans' victory over the deceitful Commander Daizo and the legendary Brushogun.
Robin grabbed Starfire's hand and held onto it tightly, ignoring the blush that crept over him as Starfire returned the pressure and flashed him a dazzling smile. His new medal, courtesy of Tokyo's appreciative mayor, weighed satisfactorily against his chest; his friends surrounded him, safe, unharmed and similarly elated; and somewhere, he knew Bruce would be watching, proud.
Robin had originally planned on leaving as soon as the Titans had showered Brushogun's ink off of their bodies, but Mayor Tsukino had wanted them to stay for an award ceremony in their honor. Robin gave them his standard speech about putting duty ahead of frivolity, but the words sounded perfunctory in light of his excitement. "I guess they caught me at just the right time," he reflected. After all, he'd reclaimed his rightful reputation, defeated Tokyo's big bad with the help of his team, and finally summoned the courage to kiss Starfire.
"And when we go back home, there'll be plenty of time for more," he thought, then cringed inwardly as another consideration struck him."Along with a million questions from the both of us about what the kiss means for the future-hers, mine, and the Titans-why it didn't happen any sooner and how we'll balance this new relationship with pre-established team dynamics." He sighed and brushed away the thought. "But that's still a ways away. Here in Tokyo, we don't have to think about it, yet."
A prearranged signal from the mayor sent Robin and his friends shuffling obediently to the side of the stage where a line of five chairs had been set up for them to enjoy the rest of the ceremony. "A little more of this and we'll be on our way," he grinned at Starfire and tried to ignore Cyborg's waggling eyebrows, "And me and Starfire can resume what we were doing earlier."
Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans
Two hours, three speeches, and one J-Pop performance later, the streets were still filled with groups of people, and Robin was ready to leave.
He appreciated the cheering, the adoration-except from the fan girls who kept trying to swarm the stage-but his patience for all the cameras and crowds had about run out. He'd played the diligent diplomat when he accepted the Mayor's invitation to the award ceremony, then obliged the request to make the event public. He even agreed to let Starfire speak a few words in Japanese on the Titan's behalf to express their enthusiasm and accept the city's warm welcome. He had stopped at the parade, much to Beast Boy's chagrin, but wasn't everything else enough?
Robin perked up as the colorfully dressed singers left the stage with enthusiastic waves and farewells, their band mates' instruments left behind them for a later pickup.
"Finally," he griped to himself and glanced over at his fellow teammates. Robin couldn't see Raven's facial expression beneath her shadowy hood, but knew her crossed arms would reflect a cross expression and cross attitude; Cyborg kept licking his lips and tapping his toes, suggesting hunger and boredom; Beast Boy looked energized and excited, but Robin could tell by the drool on his uniform that he had probably just woken up, "But how he managed to fall asleep in a crowd full of people is beyond me." Starfire looked cheerful as usual. She'd applauded with the crowd in between speakers, gasped and nodded sagely at appropriate intervals during speeches, and whooped with the screaming teens during the surprise concert. She giggled when she caught him staring at her and pointed to the Mayor as he walked to center stage.
Mayor Tsukino spoke a few words into the microphone and beckoned to the Titans with a grand sweeping motion. The crowd cheered raucously.
"I don't think they want to let us leave quite yet," he thought mournfully. "Hey, Star," he yelled loudly, "What did he say?" At that, the other three Titans tuned in.
"He declared it is time for the citizens to meet their newest heroes," she explained joyfully. "We are to engage in the mingling."
Conscious of the cameras focused on his every muscle twitch, Robin kept his expression neutral, but he knew Raven could sense his dread, and a single glance at her confirmed she looked forward to 'mingling' even less than he.
Beast Boy and Cyborg exchanged looks as well.
"What chu' think, B?"
Beast Boy jerked a finger at a group of young women blowing him kisses. "I think I can handle it." He indicated the food stands in the background next. "And if you work it just right, there should be something in it for you, too."
"I'm sold!" Cyborg jumped to his feet and followed Beast Boy to the stairs.
Starfire tugged on both Robin and Raven's hands, but only the empath would allow herself to be budged. With a pout, Starfire turned back toward the Boy Wonder. "Will you not come, Robin?" she pleaded.
He sighed and waved her away, "I'll catch up in a minute," he assured her. She brightened and bounded forward to kiss his cheek, thankfully angling her head so that her mass of hair shielded them from the cameras. He barely caught Raven's conspiratorial smile before Starfire whisked her away.
Robin stood there for a moment with his arms crossed until Mayor Tsukino approached him. "Go on," Tsukino encouraged him in accented English, wearing a practiced, plastered smile. "Give them a show."
"Okay," Robin smirked, then took a few steps forward to ensure he had enough space before executing a series of back flips and back handsprings to cross the expansive stage. As he neared the stairs he pulled his arms in around his legs for a back tuck and extracted some smoke bombs from his belt. He landed a single step before the end of the stage and launched off again, setting off his smoke bombs as he reached the apex of his jump. The entire area engulfed in thick smoke, he made a mad dash beneath the set.
He sniggered to himself as he crawled on his stomach to one of the crisscrossing support beams beneath the stage and settled to wait-out the crowds.
Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans
Approximately twenty minutes later, the rush of performing had faded. Robin sighed, draped his legs on either side of the wood, and continued to observe his teammates through the wooden slats that surrounded the platform and hid the beams.
Cyborg stood amidst the food carts that had been erected at the back of the crowd, content with the unending supply of food from his fans. It seemed that as long as he had an edible gift in front of him, he had the energy to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
Starfire and Beast Boy positively basked in the spotlight, surrounded by people. "I guess Beast Boy was right—the ladies do love the ears."
Starfire had connected with the populace immediately. She'd greeted them with shy salutations, but the warm welcome she'd received inspired her to boldness, and she had been kissing babies and shaking hands ever since. Robin had prepared himself for the inevitable onslaught of male suitors who usually surrounded the Tamaranian beauty, but they seemed to prefer Raven instead.
Based on what Robin had seen during the Titans' stay, the sorceress's ultra-pale pallor and diminutive stature matched Japanese beauty ideals, and it earned her a myriad of admirers from both sexes. Not that she appreciated the attention. On the contrary, Raven seemed likely to disintegrate something after all the poking she'd endured from women jabbing at her skin and chattering away at her about who knew what. Then there were the men, who looked at her suggestively and tried varying tactics to attract her eye, some with the cloying subtlety of curious suitors, others hitting on her with the intensity of a battering ram against a castle door. Unfortunately for the men, Raven rammed back, and the first time one of the men grabbed her for a hug, Raven shoved him to the ground and extracted herself from her fans by summoning her soul-self and disappeared with an indignant shriek from her raven.
"Now's my chance!" Robin thought. He sat up on the beam and snatched up his communicator. "Maybe she'll come back and rescue me."
Raven answered the call looking somewhat annoyed, perched on her bed back at the hotel. "What do you want? I finally found a book I can read."
"How about a pick up?"
"Sick of hiding beneath the stage?" she snickered.
"How did you know-"
"You couldn't have gotten far dressed as a traffic light."
"Are you going to help me out or what?"
"You're the one who agreed to this torture," she droned, "It's fitting you should have to endure it to the end."
"Are you really just going to leave me here?"
A corner of her mouth lifted; the ghost of a smile. "You abandoned us, it's fair I do the same," she teased, then hung up on him.
He grunted and prepared to make another call. "I can't deal with this much longer," he said to himself, and waited for his remaining teammates to recognize the vibrating of their T-comms.
Cyborg answered first, his face stuffed full of sushi and looming over the built-in console. "'Sup, Rob, finally get bored'a all them boys drooling over your girl?"
Starfire's video feed appeared beside Cyborg's. "I believe the only drooling done has been by you over the vast offerings of food I see surrounding you."
Beast Boy's answering guffaw sounded as he popped up on the left, sharing an even third of the screen with his friends. "Good one, Star!" he shouted over the din of clamoring voices.
"Titans," Robin called out to get their attention. "Prepare for a quick extraction."
"Sick of crouching under the stage?" Beast Boy teased.
"How did you-" Robin started.
Cyborg interrupted. "Crouchin', BB? Nah, short stuff pry has room to spare standing tall."
"Come on, guys, we need to get ready to go back home," Robin complained.
"Shall we pick you up behind the stage?" Starfire asked politely. "There is an empty space of about five of the feet between it and the wall where we might make 'the getaway."
Robin smiled. "I guess my hiding spot wasn't as good as I thought it'd be."
"Dude," Beast Boy smirked at him and crossed his arms. "You wear Christmas colors on your uniform—we don't expect you to be subtle."
Robin ignored him. "Thanks, Star. See you soon?"
"Very," she answered and signed off.
"Beast Boy, will you grab Cyborg and follow?"
The green teen's face crumpled. "But...the ladies!" He pouted.
"This is not a vacation, Beast Boy. We have duties back home."
"S'alright, man," Cyborg interjected. "We'll go trollin' back home."
Robin doubted that—flirting made Cyborg nervous—but Robin appreciated the support.
Beast Boy seemed to see through Cyborg's offer as well. "Deal," he said enthusiastically, but with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
Movement caught his eye and he turned in time to see Starfire's boots touch down on the pavement behind the stage. She knelt down and waved emphatically.
"Hey!" he grinned and crept toward her.
"Greetings," she whispered when he reached her and held out her hand. Robin took it gratefully and allowed himself to be pulled out into the open.
"Are you taller than usual?" He asked, frowning.
"Oh," she exclaimed and looked down. His gaze followed hers to her feet which hovered several inches off of the ground. "I cannot seem to ground myself," she explained.
His heart fluttered at that. "That should make it easier to take us back to the hotel then, right?" he asked.
"It would be the pleasure of mine."
Starfire grasped Robin's hands and propelled upward. They spotted a green pterodactyl as soon as they popped up over the stage, Cyborg held firmly in its claws.
"Robin and Starfire sittin' in a tree," Cyborg sang at the top of his voice.
"Stuff it, Cyborg," Robin yelled back.
"I mean it! Beast Boy, Starfire, back to the hotel."
They did as asked, but Cyborg only yelled louder.
"First comes love-"
"Beast Boy, drop Cyborg," Robin commanded.
"Then comes marriage-
"Now, Beast Boy!"
"Then comes the baby in the ahhh!" Cyborg screamed as his teammate released his grip on his metal shoulders and he began plummeting to Earth.
"Robin, you should not abuse your leadership role simply because Cyborg annoys you," Starfire chastised him laughingly.
"But he said-"
"I heard him, it is no excuse."
"Alright," he sighed in mock exasperation. "Beast Boy, go get him."
Beast Boy morphed back into his human form just long enough to give a salute and an "Aye, aye, Captain," before cannon-balling toward his charge.
"Happy, now?" he pouted.
Starfire giggled and Robin couldn't maintain his frown any longer. "I will be once we achieve our head start," she replied, and flew off with a burst of speed.
The pair entered the hotel still holding hands from their flight. "I cannot believe you ordered Beast Boy to do the dropping of Cyborg!"
Robin laughed. "He was getting on my nerves. I know we have a lot of teasing coming our way, but hopefully if we start if all off with threats of bodily damage he'll lay off sooner rather than later."
"Azar!" Raven called from her room. "Robin, if you continue to interrupt my concentration I will threaten you with bodily damage."
The couple exchanged wide-eyed looks of astonishment before breaking out into quiet laughter. Robin embraced Starfire in an effort to settle her quaking giggles, putting his hand over her mouth and holding her against him.
She let loose a few more laughs and folded against him with a contented sigh.
Robin gulped and moved his hand from her mouth to catch a strand of red hair and placed it behind her ear. He wrapped his other hand around her waist and gently rubbed his index finger in lazy circles at the base of her spine, just above her skirt's waist line.
Starfire's eyes closed to half-mast and Robin leaned forward-then stopped as he heard a maladroit clomping outside their door. The door burst open and Cyborg stumbled in, clutching his heart and wheezing.
"Man that was so not cool," he huffed. Beast Boy followed in behind him, cackling. "Having BB scare the livin' daylights outta me 'cause I made a little-" his head snapped up and his eyes bulged. "You two at it again?"
Robin jumped away from Starfire and started spluttering an explanation, but Raven hovered into the room-her cloak flapping dramatically and her hood flipped up—saving Robin from having to answer. "What did I warn you about interruptions?"
"Cut the attitude, Raven," Robin snapped. "You'll have plenty of time to read on the trip back."
Raven stopped. "Fine by me," she grumbled. She dropped a few inches to the floor and resumed walking normally; even her cloak followed her more meekly than before.
"What?" Beast Boy wailed from across the room. "But my fans! They'll riot if I'm not here to fulfill my promises to them about my book and picture signings tonight."
"What are you talking about?" Robin asked, unamused.
"Yeah, you haven't written any books for them to sign," Raven added.
The changeling stuck his tongue out in Raven's direction and looked back at Robin. "Dude, you saw how crazy the ladies were for me at the award ceremony. They asked me to meet them tonight for a signing."
"How'd you know what they said?" Cyborg asked skeptically.
Beast Boy brandished a pocket-sized pad of paper from his belt and proudly raised it into the air. "Phrasebook, baby."
"I don't even want to know how badly this turns out. I'll be in my room packing if anyone needs me," she deadpanned and walked back out.
"Don't give me that look, Beast Boy," Robin sighed as he spotted the green retriever mewing at his feet and looking up at him with a sweet, pleading gaze. "It only works on Starfire."
She tugged on his tunic sleeve and he turned to find her wearing the same expression, her eyes wide and her lips quivering. "I'm going to have to be careful," Robin realized, "her puppy dog eyes are considerably more persuasive than Beast Boy's."
"Please, Robin," she purred. "With our Titan duties, I rarely have time to learn about Earth's cultures and X'hal knows when I might obtain another opportunity to explore Japan again."
His mind blanked. "Why did we need to leave so badly?" he asked himself. "Titans East is taking care of..."
"Titans East!" he blurted out loud.
"I can check with 'em to see if they'd give us an extra day, Rob," Cyborg offered.
"Um," Robin stalled lamely, but Cyborg had already accessed his built-in arm console to call Bumblebee.
"Bee!" he yelled in greeting. "What's happenin', girl?"
"Nothin' much, Sparky," Bumblebee answered. The city's been pretty quiet with the Brotherhood Baddies still on ice. Red X came to say 'hi,' but the little snake slithered off before we could bag him."
"We ain't done any better, Bee," Cyborg said, shaking his head sympathetically. "So I can't hold that against you."
"When you coming home, anyway?" she asked, changing topics.
"That's why I called. We saved the day alright-'cause that's how we roll-but we were hoping if Jump didn't prove too troublesome you'd be willing to keep watch over it 'til tomorrow night."
Bumblebee let the silence stretch out, as though pretending to hesitate. "Yeah, I suppose we could do that."
"Thanks, Bee," Cyborg grinned.
"Don't thank me yet, Sparky; you'll owe me for this. We got some equipment over in Steel City that needs your attention."
"You got it."
An alarm sounded in the background.
"Sorry, Sparky, but that's my cue!"
"You be careful, girl," he warned.
"Ain't nothing we can't handle, babe," she said playfully.
Cyborg looked up from his console. "Well I guess we're off the hook for the night."
"I don't know," Robin said uneasily, rubbing the back of his neck.
Starfire yanked on the green sleeve of his tunic. "Robin, I implore you, do the relaxing for one night; Titans East has provided their support, and Beast Boy will lament this missed opportunity for months if he cannot attend his signing."
"Yeah," Beast Boy agreed. "I'll lament so hard-you'll really regret it."
"You could accompany me on my adventuring," Starfire offered.
Robin gulped. "I could?"
"Yes, I have heard there are many beautiful places to visit, and delicious foods to eat. Perhaps we could enjoy dinner and then visit the shoreline and compare how the ocean looks from this side of the hemisphere."
"Is she asking me out on a date?" Robin wondered. "That sounds great," he agreed.
"Glorious," she smiled back. "I should like to avoid attention tonight, so I will dress in the clothes of the civilian. Will you follow the suit?"
"Yeah, I'll wear a suit-er, follow suit."
"I shall meet you back here in an hour, then," she said, and floated off to her room.
Beast Boy and Cyborg fist-bumped. "Nice," the changeling whispered.
Robin gave him a pointed look. "Don't push it," he warned, but failed to look intimidating since he couldn't stop smiling.
"Yeah right, dude," Beast Boy smirked and let out a cackle as he and Cyborg backed into their rooms.
Robin stood alone for a second, then tensed. "Civies!" he remembered. He looked at the clock on the wall. "I have to go shopping!" he panicked, and rushed for the exit.
Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans
Starfire opened her bedroom door exactly sixty minutes later to find Robin on the other side of it, his fist raised to knock on the wood, his mouth open in preparation of calling on her. His eyes widened beneath his mask when he saw her, and his hand fell limply to the side of his black dress slacks.
"Does the grishnik have your tongue?" she teased. She smiled sweetly and smoothed out the silk material of her new dress, which looked like a modernized Japanese kimono trimmed in violet, sleeveless and shortened to her mid-thigh. She had picked it up on a whim during one of the Titans' rare free moments in the city after the lavender cherry blossom print had caught her eye in a merchant's window. She had hoped she would have a reason to wear it eventually, but had not dreamed it would be this soon.
"Grishnik?" Robin normalized his expression with a shake of his head. "Ah no, um, are you ready to go?"
She nodded enthusiastically and stepped into the suite's living room area.
"You look nice, by the way," Robin mumbled, and reached up to unbutton the top of his blue dress shirt.
Starfire's smile faltered. "Nice?"
"Whew buddy where'd you find yourself such a gorgeous lookin' model?" Cyborg questioned from the couch. He grinned widely and walked over to them as Robin fumbled for a response, then clapped a hand on the Boy Wonder's shoulder.
"Now y'all have a nice time out there tonight and don't stay out too long," he said, looking at Starfire. His smile turned to a mocking frown as he turned his attention to Robin. "Remember to treat our girl like a lady, Bird Boy; don't try anything fresh with her."
"Fresh?" Starfire questioned.
"Ignore him, Star," Robin told her and extracted himself from the larger man's grip. "We'll be fine," he reassured Cyborg and headed for the door. He opened it for Starfire and directed her through it with an 'after you' motion of his hand, but paused before venturing past himself. "I'd better not spot any rocket propelled arms with finger-mounted cameras while we're out, by the way."
Starfire could not see Cyborg from her vantage point in the hallway, but she heard his deep-throated chuckle. "Shoot, I don't have time for chaperonin' tonight; I'm off to find a souvenir for my baby back home."
"Bumblebee?" Robin guessed, grinning wickedly.
"The T-Car, you spiky-headed little-Hey!" Cyborg's insult was cut off when Robin shut the door behind them.
Robin continued chuckling as he offered Starfire his arm. "Shall we?"
She looped her arm around his. "We shall."
Tokyo greeted Starfire and Robin with a rush of sound and neon lights when they exited the hotel. At dusk the streets were clogged with traffic, the sidewalks congested with pedestrians walking alongside the buildings that stretched for miles around them and many stories above them. The chaos of the scene comforted Starfire in its familiarity; but for the foreign roads and ubiquitous kanji symbols that painted every surface, she could almost be home again.
She squinted her eyes against the setting sun as she searched for the picturesque Tokyo Tower. She had been taught at a young age that the best way to orient oneself in a foreign place was to identify a landmark that could be used to navigate the land or sky—the taller, the better, because visibility was key. In Jump, she used Titan Tower as her reference point; in Tokyo, she used the 1,093 foot tall tower in Shiba Park. Modeled after Paris's Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower had been built to aid broadcast signals, and had since then become a major tourist attraction—or so the brochure she had read had told her. She saw it everywhere in Tokyo: on the cards of post and television, in commercials and even on the mugs of coffee—she had even purchased a mug the same day she had found her dress, and had stowed it away in hopes it would serve as the 'souvenir' Beast Boy insisted she should buy.
Her eyes soon adjusted to make out the distinct shape of the city's second tallest structure hiding in the setting sun's rays. It sat on there on the horizon like a needle set to puncture the bloated underside of the melon-shaped star resting at its tip. She blinked. The image reminded her of a tapestry that hung in the royal chambers of the Grand Ruler on Tameran. It depicted a group of people laboring to build a structure tall enough to reach the sun. Legend held that the architects sought to climb into the sun's sphere and steal all of its light. The Tameranian architects wanted to keep their planet forever enshrined in life-giving light that would grow their crops tall and healthy; the Gordanians working alongside them hoped to be rid of the searing light that kept them in their caves during the daytime, which took many sleep cycles to pass.
When the architects grew close enough to touch the sun, it melted the tower's stone, and the structure began to collapse. The Gordanians turned to ash as their scales contacted the shining rays, but the Tameranians swallowed the sun and used it to fly, escaping their deaths and earning the eternal hatred of the remaining Gordanians, who became convinced the Tameranians had betrayed their people.
So had begun the feud that began countless years before.
Starfire had never put much stock in symbolism. Most likely, the racial tensions that existed between their people originated with the Gordanians' deplorable habit of slaving other races—particularly from their neighboring planet of Tameran. Still, the sign of a pierced sun remained a double-sided portent in her culture: it meant that good things would come, but at a terrible cost.
"Stop being superstitious," she chastised herself. "All it means is that Earthlings are fond of constructing needle-shaped buildings."
"Do you know where you'd like to eat dinner tonight?" Robin prompted her. "I got a couple of referrals for restaurants in the area—"
Starfire gasped. "Robin!" she chided, "This is our last night in Tokyo; we cannot waste any of the time sitting down to eat. There are too many things to see."
Robin rested a hand against the back of his neck. "Are you proposing we skip dinner?
"No," she giggled. "I propose we eat and explore simultaneously."
He joined her in her laughter. "Okay, we can try that. What do you say we check out one of the marketplaces nearby? We can grab some food from the stands and check out the sights."
"That sounds delightful," Starfire agreed. She held out her hand and floated a few inches off of the ground. "Let us go."
Robin lunged forward and wrapped his arms around Starfire's shoulders, pulling her down. "We're incognito, remember?"
Starfire giggled. "You are wearing a mask and I have gold-orange skin, it is difficult to remain in the 'cognito,' but I concede to your point."
"The closest market is only a few blocks away," he assured her and grabbed her hand, "Let's walk there."
They caught stares as they made their way towards whatever destination Robin had in mind. As Starfire had pointed out already, both of them garnered attention and their celebrity statuses made them easily recognizable, but living in Jump City had long desensitized her against inappropriate gawking.
The final corner they turned revealed a wide alley-like space filled with brightly covered tents of metal and heavy fabric. The inside wall of the tents opened up to the streets and extended cover to customers by forming a partition above the road. Neon signs and yellow lamps lit up the area at this time of day, chasing the shadows away for a few more hours and lending a friendlier tone to the otherwise cacophonous atmosphere of merchants hawking their wares to hungry patrons.
Robin glanced at her and jerked a thumb at the marketplace. "This okay for you?"
Starfire squeezed his hand reassuringly. "Yes," she said.
They advanced toward the market together.
Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans
"Do you see anything that entices you?" Starfire asked as they considered the myriad choices the market place offered.
"That's a double entendre," Robin thought as his eyes drifted from the backs of Starfire's tan calves to the shadows her dress created on her thighs... "Stop staring!" he admonished himself for the umpteenth time that day.
He forced his attention back to the displays that lined the tents on either side of them. The selection of squiggling, wiggling, recently wriggling sea foods did not look appetizing, and he grimaced inwardly. "Don't they have pizza here?" he wondered.
Even as a young trapeze performer traveling on the road with his parents in Hayley's Circus, he'd had a limited diet. In addition to the usual vegetables most kids despised, the youngest Flying Grayson habitually refused to try the local cuisine of the towns they passed through, and he virtually lived off of macaroni 'n cheese and hot dogs. It had taken the Batman to change his mind by making it a condition of their partnership that young Master Grayson always eat whatever meal Albert placed in front of him. Dick had agreed with one exception: seafood.
And now he was surrounded by it.
"Is something wrong?" Starfire asked. Only then did he realize the scrunched up expression of distaste he'd been wearing.
"This looks like Tameranian food," he answered absently.
Starfire's face broke out into one of delight. "My thoughts exactly," she agreed. She pointed to a counter serving fresh squid. "That reminds me of the mirnik-except mirnik have more tentacles and move through our desserts instead of oceans. And that-" she directed him to a tent with bowls of steaming, thick udon noodles, "-looks like perklish."
"It looks disgusting," Robin thought. "Like…worms or something."
"Deedon?" Starfire whispered. She rushed up to a display of rice-themed dishes that looked like flattened California rolls.
Robin chuckled and stood beside her. "I think that's sushi. Want to try some?"
"I do," she answered, and directed her attention to the merchant manning the counter. "Konnichiwa," she said and bowed.
"Konnichiwa," he repeated, blushing furiously.
Starfire said something in Japanese and gestured toward the sushi to which the merchant responded by began piling a generous portion of the thick rolls into a paper bag. Starfire pulled her wallet out from her skirt pocket but the merchant shook his head and waved away her money. At first she seemed confused, but after hearing the merchant's response, she smiled, bowed and bid him farewell, then walked back to Robin with her free dinner in hand.
"I take it you have a fan?" Robin asked as she rejoined him.
Starfire's cheeks flushed. "He wished to express gratitude for our actions in the city," she explained. "And asked that I accept this futomaki as a humble tribute. Now we must find something for you."
Robin's stomach churned at the thought. "I'm really not that hungry."
Starfire frowned. "Surely you can find something. What all have you eaten since you arrived?"
He smiled sheepishly. "Breakfast muffins from the hotel and fast food from the American-themed restaurants nearby, mostly."
Her frown deepened.
"What can I say," he shrugged. "I'm not big on trying new foods."
She grabbed his hand and levitated a few inches off of the ground, which drew more audacious looks and prompted louder commentary from those who already had been staring at them.
"Come, we shall explore," she declared and started dragging him behind her.
They bounced from cart to cart, asking questions about the food offered and accepting occasional samples, all of which Starfire loved and Robin hated. Starfire surprised Robin with her knowledge of his tastes; for every question he managed to answer, she answered two before he had a chance to reply.
"You do not care for the fish that has been filleted, so we will avoid that, but what of the fish fry?" she asked as they approached a stand piled with fresh fish. The smell wrinkled his nostrils. Without looking at him, Starfire began shaking her head. "No, no of course not, which rules out the eggs of fish as well," she decided, glancing at the beds of jelly-like marbles at the end of the counter.
"Fish of the shells?" she mused as they neared a shelf of mollusks, "Too messy with the..." she paused to consider the word, causing Robin to almost slam into her back. She looked back at him. "Slurping?" she tried.
"Yes," he confirmed.
Starfire became fixated on something past his ear. Her eyes narrowed to a squint, then widened. She dashed toward whatever had caught her eye, whirling Robin around and dragging him to it.
His eyes fell on the cardboard containers filled with fist-sized portions of spindly brown sticks. He looked at Starfire uncertainly.
"I should have remembered this earlier," she said excitedly. "I ate it our first day here-tempura: deep-fried pieces of food of the sea and vegetables."
Robin perked up. "Deep-fried?"
"Yes. Deep-fried is good, correct?"
He grinned. "Deep-fried is always good."
After Robin selected from a good-sized portion of mushroom- and vegetable-themed tempura, the merchant gathered everything into something Starfire called a 'bento box': a small cardboard tray with tall siding whose sections were separated by small compartments.
This merchant had no qualms taking the Titans' money, but bowed to them consistently throughout the transaction.
"Arigato," Starfire thanked him and returned a bow. Robin repeated the phrase and action and together they waded through the street crowd to the market's end.
"If only we could find a place to sit," Starfire said. She picked a sushi roll out of the bag and looked dismayed as some of the rice grains crumbled away. "This is not the finger food I had thought it would be."
"I just wish we could find some privacy," Robin muttered. "They'd picked up quite a following during their walk through the market, and as he and Starfire exited onto the street, their growing fan base poured out after them.
"Hmm," Starfire tapped her chin thoughtfully. Again her eyes drifted to an object unseen in the distance. Her lips curved into a smile. "I have a solution for both of our problems. Would you hold this?" she asked and held out her sushi bag. "You may wish to place your tempura in with it." He did so and looked at her curiously as she wrapped her arms around him. "Hold on," she whispered, and bolted into the sky.
Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans Teen Titans
Starfire knew exactly where to take them when Robin requested a place to escape: Tokyo Tower, her North Star, and the spot of their first almost-kiss.
Maybe they could continue where they had left off the last time.
The Tower, modeled after its mother in the Paris of France, was even more spectacular at night time than during the day, it's myriad lights lit up so it looked to be covered in a glorgl of lightning-bugs. The firefly lights surrounded her and Robin as she touched down on the observation deck level, set immediately beneath the broadcasting equipment that sent TV waves from the spire's tip far above them.
"Will this suit your purpose?" she asked.
"Definitely," he answered, gazing out at the sea of buildings below them. "It's gorgeous here, Star."
"I am glad you approve," she smiled. "However, I must beg your forgiveness for...exploding the cover?"
He snickered. "I think we 'blew' our cover as soon as we walked out of the hotel. Besides," he dropped his gaze to the railing he had his arms crossed upon. "I've been looking forward to some alone time with you for awhile."
"I have as well," she replied with a soft smile.
"By the way," he started, and flicked his eyes over to her for a second before fixing them ahead again. "You look beautiful in that dress."
"I mean, you look beautiful without the dress too," he gushed, then shook his head. "Not in a naked sort of way-ah, I didn't mean to say that. It's-"
She put a hand on his arm and he trailed off, horrified. "I understand what you are attempting to communicate, and I am flattered."
"Thanks," he said. He inhaled deeply, stood straight and faced her; she rotated slightly to do the same. "Starfire, you-no matter what you are wearing-are beautiful, inside and out, but especially tonight, in that dress, looking at me the way you are."
Her breath hitched in her throat.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you that earlier," he fidgeted with one of his belt loops, confidence dimming. "I keep forgetting I'm allowed to say those things, now."
"Now?" she questioned, blushing.
"Yeah, uh, now that we're-since what happened earlier and all."
"I appreciate your new found candor," she assured him.
He grinned and laid his hand out on the rail; it looked awkward sitting there, palm up. Did he need to stretch his arm out?
"You know," he started, breathless, "You have no idea how many times I've had to stop myself from saying something to you or touching you in ways that-that friends don't do, and now I don't have to worry about it anymore. Really, it's a huge relief."
"Oh, his hand," she realized, and wove her fingers through his.
"I have a confession of my own," she giggled nervously. "I feared I may have offended you earlier when I asked you to accompany me tonight."
"Really?" he asked, surprised. "Why's that?"
"While preparing for our outing, Raven informed me it is the 'faux pas' to ask the boy to dinner. Apparently, according to Western culture I should have waited for your invitation."
Robin peered at her skeptically. "Raven told you you should've waited for me?"
"No," Starfire answered carefully. "She expressed pride in my initiative."
"And?" Robin prompted. "It's Raven, there had to be more."
Starfire blushed. "And she said you would have never 'made the first move' anyway."
"Ouch. So little confidence," he chuckled. "But I can see why she may have thought that." He leaned closer and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper. "For what it's worth, I'm really glad you asked me out tonight. There's nowhere else I'd rather be right now."
"Nor me," she agreed.
She raised her free hand to his bicep and leaned her head against his shoulder. A sigh of contentedness escaped her, and they stood there in comfortable silence, staring out at the city.
After a few minutes Robin shifted his weight to his other foot and the paper bag with their dinner rasped loudly against Starfire's hip.
He pulled away and presented her with the bag. "Um, you might want this back," he said.
She took it and withdrew his tempura. "And you may want this." He reached for it but she held it back at the last second. "Allow me to warm it for you?"
"Sure," he agreed. "Thanks."
She summoned a spark of green fire and welled it in the palm of her hand, then brought it to hover over the cold tempura. She released a bit of heat, controlling it so as to warm the food without igniting the carton that held it.
"That's still amazing to see no matter how often I see it," he said when she finished.
"I thank you," she said and handed back his food. He took it and tried a bite of deep-fried broccoli. "And may I say, it is flattering to hear my abilities have risen a step above 'awesome' in your mind," she teased, her eyes twinkling mischievously.
He choked, then coughed to clear his throat. "I wondered when that would come up," he said sheepishly. "But really, it wasn't my fault."
"Oh? How is that?" she giggled.
He took another bite to stall. "You ambushed me," he said laughingly. "I so wasn't ready to have that conversation."
Starfire chuckled weakly and clutched at the railing.
"Did I say something wrong?" he asked,
"Oh, no," she rushed to assure him. "It is...that night. I was angry at the time, but looking back on it brings me shame for my reaction." The mood immediately darkened between them, and Starfire realized too late she should not have mentioned anything. "My apologies. It is bad..." she searched for the phrase, "luck? To bring up moments of past distress during new beginnings."
"Wait-what were you talking about?"
Starfire sighed, silently pleading. "Let us discuss more cheerful subjects on the first of our dates, please? You may tell me how you amused yourself beneath the stage earlier, or how you reacted when I engaged in lip contact with the Japanese boy." She grinned impishly while waiting for his reply.
"No," he pressed, concerned. "What were you ashamed about?"
She pursed her lips, resigned. "My reaction to your reaction to Cyborg's teasing."
Robin rotated to face her fully, his head cocked in confusion.
Starfire continued. "I never explained myself once we arrived back on Earth. You were uncomfortable with the subject of 'the girlfriend,' and I did not wish to push you by bringing up the conversation once more." She stared out at the ocean of neon lights below them. When she began again, her voice sounded smaller, self-conscious. "I thought, perhaps, if our relationship progressed, we would discuss the rest then, but nothing happened until...and now we are here but it is not the time to talk about such matters. I never apologized for overreacting however. I wish you to know I regret not being able to 'keep my cool' during such a calamitous situation."
Robin set his tempura down by his feet and cleared his throat. "There's nothing to explain, Starfire," he said. "You're a lot better at emotions than me is all."
She snorted. "Lack of emotional control is what led to my uncooperative behavior, so I would not say I am 'better' at the emotions. I knew it would not be appropriate to talk about the 'girl friend' on that planet, but my emotional instability left me powerless in a foreign place and I panicked. I only knew of two ways to resolve my confusion: reconcile the matter with you or fully ignore it and find emotional stability on my own."
"You're being too hard on yourself," he offered awkwardly. "You wanted to talk to me but I kept freezing you out-"
Her eyebrows shot up in confusion.
"-Avoiding the topic."
"Mostly because our lives were in danger," she added.
"Well if I'd known you were grounded because of it I would've made a stronger effort to get over myself," he laughed shyly.
"I did not wish to tell you of my groundedness at all," she admitted. She fixed him with a serious look, hesitant.
"What is it, Star?" he encouraged. He laid a hand on one of hers wrapped around the rail. "You know you can tell me anything, right?"
"Just as you tell me anything?" she blurted out. His hand slid off. Her eyes widened. "I apologize. I did not mean it like it sounds. I only meant that we both keep secrets to ourselves that we share with no one-for our own protection."
"Mmm," he grunted.
"I resent that an emergency forced me to divulge the impetus of my powers."
"I know, he said brusquely.
She tried again. "To compare, it would be akin to your mask falling off during combat."
His face softened, and he reached for his mask, as if to ensure it was fixed firmly to his cheeks.
"That is not how you imagined you would share your identity with your friends," she smiled sympathetically. "Personally, I would have preferred to share this information in my own time, but I wonder if I have been guarding my privacy too closely."
"No, it's okay. I understand."
She slowly shook her head back and forth. "I fear you do not. But if you would permit me, I would like to help you understand.
He swallowed, suddenly nervous. "You don't have to-"
"I do," she interrupted, firm. "After we came back to Earth we quickly resumed our normal interactions and I convinced myself I did not need to tell you, but after 'the kiss,' I believe it is important that you know the details.
He licked his lips, as though they were suddenly dry. "Okay, like I said before, you can tell me anything."
A/N: I conducted all of my research through Wikipedia and other internet sources so please forgive any cultural inaccuracies I may have made and feel free to correct me in a review if you feel so inclined.
Up next: Beast Boy and Raven kill time in Tokyo.