Very, very slight alternate fic here. This starts out right after Tokyo, although if at Tokyo, Robin never kissed Starfire. "We're heroes, Star. That's all we're ever meant to be." The end. Raven can't read, Beast Boy gets tricked by Nya-Nya, Robin and Starfire don't get together. Tokyo sucked for everybody except Cyborg, who still got to eat lots and lots of questionable food. Another slightly alternate thing that is more a quirk specific to me and consequently, this fic and almost all the ones I write, is that I hate the "Tamaraneans don't know what kissing is" thing. Seeing as she only mentioned it in the movie, and she was being rather cryptic to try to make Robin make a move, it's plausible that she was faking. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. (Come on. "I have heard that kissing is… more." She might as well have said 'Please kiss me, Robin.' If you're still not convinced, I have thirty years of comics on my side.)
Also, this is my very first attempt at first person Starfire POV. Why first person? Because that's the way this story is meant to be told. I tried writing this story in third person, but third person is meant for switching points of view, unless it's omniscient. I don't want switches. I want you guys to get Starfire's side, and only Starfire's side. Third person was wasted on this. So, here is what is actually my second and hopefully last attempt at this fic.
A short warning: The chapters are quite inconsistent! I aimed for at least 4,000 words a chapter and tried not to go over 6,500. Aimed and tried being the operative words, and even that bracket is very loose.
Chapter 1 – Titan Princess Koriand'r
We unpacked the T-ship as soon as we landed, despite Beast Boy's protests about the lag of jets and wishing to eat with a 'real utensil' as soon as possible. Robin was being quite sulky, which I did not understand. Perhaps he was angry with me. Perhaps he thought I was angry with him. I was not, however I did not wish to tell him so. He would have known that if he had spoken to me, which he had refused to do unless it was necessary.
This was my fault, this odd tension between us. I should not have pushed. I never thought it would result in this. Robin has always spoken to me of what is on his mind, at least when it directly involved me. His silence was unnerving.
Raven felt it too, it was clear. She continuously glanced between Robin and me, raising her eyebrows at me in a silent question. A question I would be happy to answer later, if I could. I could hardly make sense of what was going on, myself.
Robin was in the storage pod of our T-ship, Raven taking care of the bags we had stored in our pods with us with her powers. Beast Boy was carting some luggage that Robin had handed to him inside the Tower, and Cyborg was doing inspections of the ship, mumbling reports to himself under his breath. I floated up to relieve Robin of the luggage he was carrying, and he locked eyes with me for many seconds before looking away and handing me bags, all without speaking.
It saddened me, the way he was keeping this up. I did not wish for this to happen. I could only hope that he would speak to me when he was ready.
We all had our own meals that night, as we did not wish to burden Cyborg with making our dinners. Beast Boy made himself the grilled cheese and tomato soup from a can. Robin ate the flakes of corn, as he often did for dinner when Cyborg was not cooking. We have all tried explaining to him that cereal is insufficient for providing nutrients, but he does not listen. He took the entire box and a quart of milk into his office, presumably so he could concentrate on paperwork until he had finished that. Cyborg, ironically, ordered Chinese food for himself, which he ate in the garage, presumably so that he may work as well without worrying about dietary needs.
After Beast Boy vacated the kitchen, Raven offered to make the cheese and macaroni for us both.
It is unknown to my friends, but I am actually a decent cook. I used to make many Tamaranean cuisines and attempt to coax them into trying it. Unfortunately, the Tamaranean palette does not seem very amicable to the human dietary pattern. Some of our foods are harmful, resulting in the aching belly or other forms of gastrointestinal distress, while others simply taste bad. Therefore, my friends are not so eager to eat the things I make. I enjoy making Earthly foods as well, as their cuisines do not harm me, and several of them are delicious, but as a result of my well-intentioned attempts to get my friends to partake in Tamaranean eating traditions, they will not eat even my Earth foods. I am not offended. I made Cyborg sick on at least one occasion, so their wariness is not unfounded.
I allowed Raven to make the cheese and macaroni, however, as I was in too poor spirits to put much effort into looking after myself. I sat on the counter as Raven cooked the pasta, and she very casually said, "So… Rough time in Tokyo?"
Her attention was fixed on the pot in front of her, as she seemed to know I did not wish to talk. That made it easier to be more open. "Indeed. I had an expectation that… could not be met."
I nodded, even though she was not looking.
"Want to talk about it?"
I did. Raven is an amazing friend. I do not think that she was honestly that interested in my problems with Robin, but she was worried about me. She wanted to make me feel better. I gave her the condensed version- about how I was sure that he would kiss me on the roof of that building, about how he insisted that our lives were meant only for superheroics, about how he did not wish to pursue a relationship with me.
"Well," Raven said when I had finished. "That's Batman, for you. You did notice that he said that heroes couldn't have relationships, not that he didn't like you?"
"What does it matter if he likes me if he will not do anything about it?" I asked. Although her words did make me feel a little better.
"Yeah, I know. But maybe he's just… waiting for something."
"Then would it not have been best to tell me that?" I asked, threading my fingers together.
"Yeah. It would. But you know how he is."
"That is no excuse," I mumbled.
Raven poured mix from a blue and yellow box into the pot with the pasta and water. "Of course it's not. But it might make you feel better."
"Raven…" I began, unsure. "Do you… Does he… Care for me? Am I wasting time with him?"
She put the box down and turned to me. "Starfire. You know I can't share emotions."
"I am sorry," I said, hanging my head. "I am confused. And hurt."
"I know you are. Star… Do you want me to help you with it?"
Raven was asking me if I wanted her to lessen the intensity of my emotions. I usually do not allow her to help me in such a way, because Tamaraneans believe that our emotions are far too important to tamper with. But I had other things that needed attention that night.
"Very well," I told her, and she held her hand out, arm straight and palm out. I pressed my palm against hers and Raven took a deep breath in. I copied her and we exhaled at the same time, and I felt cold wash over me. Raven's powers, even though they are well-intentioned, always come with great coldness. Calm settled over me, and my frustration with Robin seemed silly. He would work this out, the way he always worked everything out, and we would continue on as normal.
"No problem." Raven was glad to help, I could tell. I know that Robin never lets her calm him with her powers, and I usually do not. Cyborg seems wary about it as well, although Beast Boy seems the okay with it.
As we ate, Raven informed me that she had decided to study the Japanese language, and I offered my help. After making sure that my help would not include lip contact, she accepted it. Now that I think of it, lip contact with Raven, although awkward now that I know that humans do not acknowledge a difference between a language transfer and romantic kissing, would be immensely beneficial to me. Raven knows several languages that Robin did not, many of them dead or other-worldly.
I did not voice that opinion. Raven would not like to hear it.
Beast Boy and Cyborg had agreed to have a battle of skill on the Gamestation at the clock of eight, and Raven levitated onto the couch to watch. I usually like to watch the others play their games, but as I said before, I had other things that needed my attention.
I flicked the lights on in my room. My beloved Silkie waddled over to me, warbling excitedly. Mas and Menos had been taking care of him in our absence, as it only took them a matter of seconds to zip over to our dwelling from their Tower in Steel City. They appeared to be thrilled that I asked for their assistance.
I did not have time to play with him much, but he was content to lie beside me on the bed as I sat with my laptop on my lap.
"Galfore?" I called into the microphone on my laptop. My video calling application was open on my computer, and he should have been waiting for me. "It is I, Starfire," I said in Tamaranean.
"Ah, bumgorf," he greeted me as he sat in the large chair in front of the screen. "I trust you enjoyed your vacation?"
"Oh, yes. Japan is an interesting place, and its language is as interesting as its culture."
"Good, good." He was not really interested in hearing about my vacation. He would have been, years ago. That time was before the Titans knew anything of my past, back when I felt the need to conduct my calls with Galfore in secret. It was sad, really, that in giving Galfore the position that suited him so well, that was so right for him, I had lost a little bit of my k'norfka. I wondered, not for the first time, if giving the Imperial Headdress to Galfore was an act of selfishness.
"Everything is well?" I asked.
Galfore shut his eyes and sighed, looking exhausted. "Not quite, princess."
I wished then that Blackfire was not… Blackfire. I wished that Wildfire had not been lost to the depths of space during my captivity. I wished that my parents had not died after I was forced to leave Tamaran.
The Grand Ruler always had to hold counsel with the Royal Family of Tamaran. It is why the Imperial Headdress reverted back to the ruling family—my family—my father serving as Grand Ruler before me. Anyone could inherit the Headdress, although it must be earned. If no one earned the position, as often happened, the Headdress was given back to the ruling family, who was then supposed to keep it until someone did earn it. Unfortunately, excepting Galfore, I was the last person to earn rather than inherit the Headdress in decades, and it would have been mine even if I had not.
"The unrest in Tamaran is growing, princess."
For months, the Tamaranean people had been growing dissatisfied. The Citadel attack on our planet, which was ended only by my father agreeing to condemn me to a life of slavery, had wiped out much of our planet's foliage and natural life. The people were having difficulties adjusting to it. Some fought over the thinning herds of trednak, a beast similar to Earthly cattle, and the farmers were having an impossible time growing vegetables. Food was not plentiful enough. Galfore was struggling to appease the people, and riots were a nightly occurrence. Some insisted that I come back, others insisted I stay away. Some preferred Blackfire's leadership to Galfore's, and I was blamed for that.
"We suspected it would, Galfore," I reminded him gently. I took a deep breath and asked, as I always ask, "Do you need me to return home?"
"No," he answered quickly, as he always does.
"Are you certain?" I asked, slowly and deliberately. This was new. I had never reminded him that after asking initially that I could—and most likely should—return to Tamaran.
"No, bumgorf. Stay on Earth. I prefer it that way." His words were strong. It was a command.
"Very well, Grand Ruler," I answer, dipping my head in a quick bow, acknowledging the command.
"Now, my dear Koriand'r, I have a message for you from Karras."
I narrowed my eyes. "Karras?" He was a member of one of the six royal families of Tamaran.
Tamaran is different than Earth. Earth does not have one united ruler, opting instead for rulers of different areas to confer about global issues. On Tamaran, there is the main ruling family—mine—and several other families that rule over what is approximately the equivalent to Earth's city-states—separate entities that come together as a whole. Karras is the prince of one of these city states, the southern states of Kalapatt, and he was always my mother's preferred match for a betrothal for me. My father always wanted me to marry an acclaimed war general. It was one of the rare times I agreed with my father rather than my mother.
Usually a message from a prince to a princess meant only one thing, and that was a marriage proposal. Occasionally the different houses interacted, bestowing favors and recalling debts, but as I am off-world, that is unlikely.
"Galfore?" I asked, nervous. Raven's dampening my emotions did not help me with the new ones I was feeling.
"I have made it known that you are not marriageable, as you are off-world and will not be returning," he told me solemnly. "However, offers still come. This one is unique. Do you wish for me to read to you the message?"
"No," I answered. I drummed my fingers against the bedspread, a habit I had picked up on Earth. "Send it to me. I wish to read it myself." Truthfully, I did not. But if Galfore found it important, then I should see it for myself.
"Very well," he said with a nod.
We talked for a while longer, Galfore attempting to give me only the good news and I giving him the same treatment. I am certain we both knew that details were being skirted over and things were being left out.
After our conversation, I felt tired. It was dark in the hallways, so my friends must have gone to bed already. I desired something to drink, and as I had run out of zorkaberry juice, I had to go to the kitchen for water.
Really, it was predictable. Robin was there, putting the milk he had taken and the box of cereal away. I had not been avoiding him, but it was jarring, being in the same space alone with him so soon after…
"Greetings," I said quickly when I realized that we had been looking at each other without speaking. I flipped the light on, which Robin never bothered to do.
"Hey, Star," he said, looking away quickly. It was almost amusing, how jumpy he seemed. I had only seen him like this once before, and that was when we were stranded. And I had been angry with him then. His attitude was uncalled for this time.
"Have you been working all this time?" I floated up to the cabinets to obtain a glass and filled it at the tap, then leaned back on the counter to look at him. Hopefully, my demeanor would make him realize that I was not angry. I did not like him so tense in my presence.
"Um, yeah. I had to do a whole report on everything that happened while we were in Tokyo, plus I started going through the paperwork Kid Flash and Jinx left while they were covering for us. Jinx's stuff is fine, but Flash's… I think he may have tried to write at superspeed."
"That does not work?"
"No. It comes out looking a little like a heart monitor. Straight lines with sporadic jumps in it."
I giggled. It wasn't particularly funny, but I had a clear picture in my mind of Robin making a serious attempt at trying to read the odd lines of writing. It set him at ease and he smiled at me, a small, relieved smile. X'hal, do I love it when he smiles at me.
"Perhaps you should ask Jinx do all the paperwork," I suggested.
"Are you kidding? She'd blast me."
"She would require compensation," I agreed. "Perhaps if you took the Kid Flash for walks in the morning to work the excess energy off, she would do it."
Robin laughed. "That's how you handle Silkie, isn't it?"
"It is my secret. You should be thankful that I have passed it on to you."
There was a little silence and I took a sip of my water to busy myself.
Robin rubbed the back of his neck, looking at me warily. "Star?"
"Yes?" I answered politely.
"You're… not mad at me?" He asked the question gingerly, as though asking it might anger me, or possibly anger me more, if he thought I was angry already. A small, spiteful part of me was annoyed that he felt that he needed to ask, but I should be glad that he was acknowledging the… incident… at all, instead of pretending nothing had happened as he would have not too long ago.
"No, Robin. I am not."
"Oh. Well, good." And then he seemed content.
I narrowed my eyes at him, but he did not notice. I placed my glass on the counter loudly, and he looked up at me and then he asked, "What?" His tone was so innocent that I almost forgot my anger.
"That is all you have to offer?"
I sighed. He was not making this easy. "'I am glad that you are not angry with me, Starfire. Now we can do the pretending that nothing ever occurred,'" I mimicked, making my voice deep to indicate that I was approximating what he said.
"But I didn't… I don't…" he fumbled, looking helplessly confused.
"Robin," I said softly, to reestablish that I was not angry with him. "I wish to talk about it."
Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say. Robin looked more likely to run out of the room.
"Please," I added, and he visibly gulped.
"Star," he whined, "there's nothing to talk about."
I disagreed. "Why?"
"Why are you hiding behind your occupation as a hero to avoid the relationship with me?"
"I'm not hiding—" he snapped, apparently offended at my word choice.
I did not wish to deal with his denial about that, so I forced myself to say what was truly on my mind. "Is it because of me? I have done something wrong?"
For a moment it looked as though he would bang his head on the counter. Instead, he scratched his neck again and mumbled, "No, of course not."
"Then what, Robin?"
He coughed and finally met my gaze. "What do you want from me, Starfire?"
"I wish for you to be truthful," I told him. "I wish to know what you think of me, so that I may stop wondering."
"I… Didn't we already do this?" he asked wearily.
"That was months ago," I reminded him. "And you did not give me a straight answer." I quickly became less satisfied with his 'I think your starbolts are awesome' speech as time went on.
"I think you're… Starfire, why can't you just be happy with the way things are?" He sounded pleading, and it was making me distressed.
"I do not know the way things are any longer! I thought we were the best of friends, but I am also the best of friends with Raven, and things are different between us." I tilted my head just a little, showing him that I was indeed trying, trying so hard to understand.
"That's different," he answered quickly.
"It's different between two girls than it is with a boy and a girl."
I squinted one eye at him. "But Beast Boy and I, and even Cyborg…"
"That's different, too." I did not say anything, but my expression must have conveyed how confused I felt, because Robin sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "You and me, Star, we're… Ah…"
"Robin, all that I wish is for you to explain to me what our time together is growing into." I was getting exasperated.
"See, why does it have to grow into anything?" he seemed excited that I might be heading to a point he could make. "Everything's great how it is."
"So…" I said, lowering my gaze to the floor, wishing I had not done this. Pushing Robin never works out in my favor. "You do not wish to eventually pursue a relationship with me."
"Starfire. Things need to stay the way they are."
I snapped my eyes up to his. "That is not an answer."
His fingers balled into fists. "It's the only answer I can give you."
I wanted to smack my hand into my forehead. It was an Earth gesture, but a fitting one. "You are not making me any less confused, Robin. I want a straightforward answer."
"Fine. Fine, Starfire. You know what? I can't date you, okay?"
I felt my eyes widen at him. I suppose that was what I had been pressing him to say, but hearing the word 'date' used to describe Robin and me made my pulse jump through my veins, which was rather unfortunate, as he had just told me that he was unable to do so. His tone was rough, and I hoped he was not angry with me. "Why not?" I squeaked, wincing as that made me sound rather desperate. I simply wanted to understand.
"Dating teammates is a bad idea." His voice sounded rehearsed, as though this was something Earth boys learned in school.
He narrowed his eyes at me, and he growled, "You know who."
My mouth dropped open. "You wish for things to stay the same because of the Batman?"
"Starfire, that's not—!" He paused and continued again. "There are plenty of other reasons."
"I can't play favorites."
While that was not as ridiculous as not dating a teammate because of some rule set by a man who was not even present, it was still an excuse. I was growing more confused. Was he feeding me excuses because he did not want to admit that he did not want a relationship with me? I would prefer for him to be truthful.
"And it's dangerous," he blurted when he saw that I was less than impressed with the last excuse.
"Robin…" I said wearily.
We had been standing on opposite sides of the kitchen, but now Robin approached me. "I know you think I'm giving you excuses. I can tell that's what you're thinking. But, Starfire, if something happened to you because of me, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself." As he said that, he put a hand on my arm. It was as though he was attempting to pass his anxieties to me through touch.
I let my gaze drop to his fingers on my arm. I could not help it. Robin was rarely the one to initiate touching. I was open to what Beast Boy referred to as glomps, and Robin was on the receiving end of many of them, and he was open to putting his hands on my back for the duration. And he was likely to catch me, should I ever fall from the air during battle. But that was different. And, of course, he liked the trapeze hold when I carried him in flight, but that was different, too. We did sit quite close together on the sofa when we all watched movies together, but no outright touching was involved there. It was new, him touching me simply to touch me.
"But…" I finally protested. "Slade has already targeted us because of our affiliation with you. And Professor Chang. And even Atlas captured us to antagonize Cyborg…"
"But if only you were targeted… and it was my fault…" He put one finger under my chin and lifted my head so that I was looking at him, then he dropped his hand quickly. "And you'd be a distraction," he added, stepping back.
"A distraction?" I demanded, trying to be indignant.
"Yeah," he answered quickly, like he had thought about it and that was the obvious conclusion.
He still had not answered my question. "Forgetting everything else," I said, making sure he was paying attention before I continued, "do you wish to someday pursue a relationship with me?"
He backed up even more, his back hitting the countertop behind him. "I can't."
"So you have said. But do you wish to?"
"It doesn't matter."
I did not think so, but instead of beginning another argument, I simply said, "I know."
"Yes, okay? I do. But I can't so we won't. And that's all there is to it, Star."
I felt a surge of happiness, and of triumph, before I was quickly jolted back to reality. He did want a relationship with me. He wanted what I wanted. But what did it matter? He would not act upon his desires, and I would not as long as I knew that he did not want to. This was very complicated, and I did not know if his admission made me happy or upset. "I understand."
"Okay. Now, probably, we should go to bed."
"Of course," I murmured, still half in a daze, letting him brush past me and flip off the light. I followed his footsteps down the hallway, as his room was next to mine. I typed in my code and the door opened obediently.
"G'night, Star," he said, watching as I slipped into my room.
"Pleasant shlorvaks," I called as the door slid closed behind me.
I fell on my bed without even bothering to change into pajamas, and I fell asleep very soon after that.
I hope you liked the first chapter! I made it using a recipe of equal parts exposition and setup, a dash of foreshadowing, and a generous amount of unresolved sexual tension. Let cool for ten minutes before serving.
This chapter was really for me to get a handle on the first person POV, and it really was a lot of setup. The next chapter will be more actiony, promise. Not bad on the POV, I think. I'll try to do better with Starfire's inner thoughts, caught myself overdoing the formality a few times and using contractions more than that.
If you are new here, let me introduce you to my good friend, the teaser. I call it a teaser, but you may call it a snippet, preview, or anything else that comes to mind. I put them at the end of each chapter, and it gives you a very limited look at the next chapter. I play lots of tricks, so beware of putting too much faith in the teaser. If the teaser is missing, that means that I either messed up in my editing or that the next chapter is so full of plot that I couldn't afford to give you any sneak peeks.
Updates will be once a week on Saturdays, so keep an eye out.
"No," I murmured.
"Yes," the villain answered.
My eyes lit up. I was angry now. "No!" I shouted back. I fired a volley of starbolts at him.
He fired a shot at me. Purple light, identical to Blackfire's, shot out of the gun. I dodged it, a little frantic.
Not now. I could not be torn between Robin's presence and dodging the blasts from that gun. I did not acknowledge his presence, as I was in the middle of ducking from a new shower of blasts.
I aimed a starbolt at the villain.. My shot landed on his shoulder and knocked him back. As he was in the middle of shooting, the ray shot right at Robin. I felt my eyes bulge in fear and I froze, gasping.