I've noticed while reading a number of Raven-centric fics that the writers often show Starfire in a negative light, which saddens me as I love both girls (and because so often when there are multiple female characters, shows/stories fall back on the catty, love-triangle dynamic, which is a lousy stereotype to perpetuate, especially with otherwise complex, well-depicted women). So, I decided to have fun with a Starfire-Raven conversation and address some of the shipping issues at the same time. Hope it does them both justice!
"Are you sure you don't want to come with us?" Robin asked.
"Yeah," Beast Boy popped up over Cyborg's shoulder. "I mean, Blood Monster's Revenge is supposed to be the hot movie of the summer. They're bringing back the Soul Sucker from Blood Monster Unchained and everything!"
"Plus I've got a coupon for an extra-large popcorn," Cyborg added.
Starfire smiled at her friends. "I am sure. You boys go and enjoy the movie of monsters. I am happy to stay here."
Robin rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "Just asking, because Raven decided to stay home too and she's probably going to want things…quiet."
"I have activities I need to do around here as well," she insisted. "We will be fine. See you after the movie!"
Robin hesitated in front of her, clearly wanting to say or do something more, and shot an embarrassed glance at Cyborg and Beast Boy. Beast Boy seemed to catch on and rested his head on his fists with a mischievous expression, raising one eyebrow expectantly. However, Cyborg took the hint and headed for the T-car, Beast Boy groaning from his perch on his friend's shoulder.
With them gone, Robin took her hand. "If you need anything, I'll have my communicator on. I can be back within ten minutes of receiving a call."
Starfire smiled at him fondly. "Everything is fine. Have fun and tell me everything about the movie when you return."
"All right." He paused again nervously, then leaned forward and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
The horn of the T-car blared through the moment. "Dude, previews start in fifteen minutes!" Beast Boy yelled. "That's part of the experience!"
Robin's hand tightened briefly on hers. "Any time. Feel free to call. For any reason."
She giggled as he headed off to join the others, then stayed to wave farewell as they departed.
When the garage door closed again, her smile faded away and her feet settled on the ground as her mood sobered. Turning in silence, she pushed the button for the elevator and rode it back upstairs.
She had been dreading this conversation for several days, but knew she could not put it off any longer. Another opportunity was not likely to come around for some time, and the longer she waited, the worse things might get. No, it was time to be brave and deal with whatever consequences it brought.
The elevator doors opened on the common room of the Tower. As she had expected, Raven was already hovering near the plate glass windows, legs crossed, facing the sunset. Starfire swallowed hard. Interrupting Raven during meditation was not going to get this conversation off to a good start.
As Starfire walked toward her friend, she found herself wondering why Raven liked to meditate outside or near a window whenever she had the chance, considering her own room was likely to be a more ideal setting for concentration. Did the feeling of sunlight on her skin energize her the way it did Starfire? Or perhaps she simply longed for a change of pace from the darkness and gloom she typically preferred.
All of this was irrelevant, but it did take her mind off the subject at hand until she finally reached the raised level by the windows and stopped a few feet away from her friend. She gathered her courage and spoke.
"Yes, Starfire?" Raven said without opening her eyes. Her voice suggested she was making an effort to sound patient, but a sincere one.
"I am sorry to bother you during your quiet time, but I need to ask you a question. An important one."
Raven's eye slitted open now to look at her, then she fully opened both and focused on Starfire curiously. "What's wrong?"
Starfire lowered her gaze and rubbed her arm, fear making her stomachs dance as if filled with metamorphosed insects. Best just to get it out.
"Did I steal Robin from you?"
She jumped as Raven dropped out of her levitated position in surprise. Starfire moved to help Raven up, but the other girl waved her off, adjusting to sitting cross-legged on the floor. "Sorry. Did you what?"
Starfire sank onto the floor across from Raven, twisting her fingers nervously. "Since our trip to Tokyo, Robin and I have begun exploring a courtship. But I realized I never even considered until recently that you might have been interested in him as well, and I do not wish to be a wrecker of homes or hussy who stabs the backs."
Raven arched an eyebrow. "You've been confusing reality TV with documentaries again, haven't you?"
"The distinction is difficult, but I do believe this particular program made an important point. I have been focused on my own interest in Robin and did not think to check with you before attempting to go out with him."
"Starfire, when you like a guy, you don't have to get a blessing from all his female friends first," Raven said, with a slight edge of amusement. "You just need to ask him."
Starfire nodded. "I simply did not wish to go stepping on your toes."
"You like him. Robin likes you. He has since the day you met. Everything's fine." Raven closed her eyes to resume meditating.
Starfire knew she should take the words as a blessing, whether Raven thought she needed one or not, but her mind was still not at ease. "It is just…I have seen how close the two of you are, especially during the battle with your—with the Trigon. You have a bonding."
Raven's brow furrowed slightly. "It's easy to mistake kindness or a good friendship for attraction," she said after a barely-noticeable pause. "But that is all it is. Robin is a good teammate and a true friend. But there is nothing more between us."
Starfire thought she heard a hint of regret in Raven's voice, but couldn't be certain if she was just imagining it herself. Instead, she nodded, accepting the answer. "Thank you, friend Raven. It gives me comfort to know that you are not opposed to our pairing."
She looked up to see Raven watching her with one eye filled with puzzlement. "You were seriously worried about that?"
"I do not wish for there to be discord or resentment within our team of friends." Her head drooped slightly again. "Either from you or from Robin."
Both of Raven's eyes were open now, focusing fully on her with unmasked concern. "You think Robin's not happy? He's been crazy about you for years. I don't even need my powers to see that. Teenage boys aren't exactly subtle."
"I believe he has the crushing on me in return, but…I do worry for the future," she admitted. "Robin and I are very…different. Our personalities, our interests… One day, I fear, those differences may be too great. Perhaps he would be happier with someone like you, with whom he shares many of the same characteristics."
Raven sighed and her pose gave up any semblance of trying to return to meditation. "Being too similar can be a bad thing too. We both know Robin tends to get…obsessive over his work. He takes his job very seriously, sometimes dangerously so. He needs someone like you to make him turn it off and have fun. You, well, remind him to be human."
Starfire felt hope rising in her again. "I can do that for him. I am good at turning him off!"
A strange expression passed through Raven's eyes. "Good. Um, maybe just don't phrase it that way."
But Starfire was too relieved at this possibility to wonder what English slang she had said incorrectly. "I am glad to know our differences complement each other that way. I feared that he might consider me too…silly."
"Happy doesn't mean silly," Raven said seriously. "It's a good thing that you can enjoy life so much. And that you can share that with Robin." Her focus seemed to shift inward, that edge of regret slipping into her voice again. "Even if he and I were a couple, as you suggested, that's something I could not do for him. And not just because of my powers. Ever since the battle with Trigon, I think a part of Robin will always see me as that little girl who needed to be rescued. Who is always afraid of her father, or what that side of herself might do. I know he cares about all of us, but I think…he worries about me. I'm another person he feels the need to protect, which would not be a good basis for a balanced partnership. It is probably for the best that he sees me as more of a sister."
Starfire stared as Raven trailed off. It was a rare event for her friend to speak so candidly of her relationships with the rest of the team. Starfire wished she could reach out and touch Raven's hand, as she would have with one of the others, to show she appreciated the openness, but she knew the unexpected contact would only startle Raven and make her draw back into herself.
Instead, Starfire smiled and said softly, "Then I guess Robin and I do have something in common."
Raven's eyes snapped back to focus on her, color flushing her cheeks. To spare her having to respond, Starfire floated into the air with a nod. "Thank you for giving me so much of your time. I will let you return to your meditations."
"Glad to help," she said, still sounding thrown off.
Starfire smiled again and glided back toward the doors to their bedrooms, her mood giving her buoyancy once more. Partway there, though, she stopped. She knew she had already been fortunate to have such an honest conversation with Raven and she shouldn't push her luck, but that tone of regret lingered in the back of her mind.
"Yes, Starfire?" There was slightly less patience in her voice this time.
Starfire hesitated. Well, in for a flagtar, in for a bornomf… "If it is not too personal of me to ask…what do you need?"
Though backlit against the setting sun, she thought she saw a faint ripple of dark energy slip around Raven's levitating form before she controlled it again. "Right now, some peace and quiet."
Starfire waited, hoping her expectant presence would coax a more serious answer out of her friend, but it was fairly clear that Raven was done sharing for the day. Starfire accepted this and headed to her room to enjoy her newfound peace of mind, leaving Raven to take in whatever warmth and light remained before the darkness settled in again.