Through the dim evening light emitted from the window, she looked down at his sleeping face, resting peacefully on her chest. With great sadness she realized that she'd probably never be able to claim the heart that went with it hers. They had been best friends for several years, and the small attraction that had always been there quickly grew…but somewhere along the line their real emotions had been lost.
Everything she had dreamed that her relationship with him could be seemed hopeless now. Instead of their friendship growing stronger and love growing deeper, it crumbled and faded away until only emptiness remained. She felt like screaming as loud as she possibly could until her voice gave away. Physically, he was completely hers to explore. The depths of his heart however, remained sealed.
Slender bodies lay together, his head in the hollow where her neck met her shoulders, his arms around her waist, legs entwined.
But he didn't love her. Not like she loved him.
She had somewhat idolized him from the very moment she met him. He was amazing, the boy wonder, who taught her everything she knew about this planet. He always patiently explained everything and was rarely short-tempered when she had many questions. But now, she more or less understood the culture, and she could function on her own. He seemed to be more distant, figuring she didn't need him anymore. He was wrong; she needed him like she needed the sun.
So when innocent kisses had been pushed into something more, she consented. Was this the way he showed love? As she lay there, she wondered whether the breathless declarations he whispered into her ear were true, or only just words used when caught up in the moment and left to die away after it passed. He was never so affectionate outside the bedroom. What happened there stayed there. She grew more and more frustrated when she found that he was keeping himself guarded, even in the rare moments when they were alone. The first time they were together he hadn't even removed his mask. She had anticipated that unveiling... had wondered what color his eyes were, what they looked like, if she'd see her reflection in them, if they'd be full of love for her. She didn't force him to remove it, but in the end she felt cheated.
Later on it had come off in the heat of things, but the anticipation was already ruined. He was gorgeous, as she knew he would be, and had she seen his eyes on that first night everything might have turned out differently. The issue of trust between them had been shaky before, but this had cut the deepest. By the time it had come off, she was already hurting inside. It didn't seem to matter anymore.
She let an unhappy sigh escape her lips. She couldn't deny the fact that this wasn't what she wanted. Reflecting on his actions the past few months, she could only conclude that he really didn't care about her at all. He would spend hours locked away in the evidence room, pouring over files and databases. Even she couldn't convince him to come out. She feared that he was completely turning into a work-a-holic, and felt powerless to stop it. She felt that if he had cared about her at all, he would've listened to her.
She sighed again and shifted slightly, trying not to wake him and get a more comfortable position. Tears began to brim her bright green eyes when she wondered how it ever got this far, or where they had gone wrong. She felt used, but she also hated herself for so readily offering to him the services her body offered whenever he felt the need. She wanted desperately to demand that he love her, but knew it would not be real if she had to tell him to return her feelings. It all had to come from him, and currently he didn't seem to be making the effort. She was tired of giving herself to him when he gave nothing in return. She loved him with all her heart, but it hurt too much to be so close to him yet so far away.
The salty tears finally spilled over and rolled down her cheeks. The thought of breaking it off with him hurt so abysmally that she quickly dispelled the idea. But at the moment, she couldn't stay there anymore, in his room, surrounded by his things, locked in his physically warm embrace. Inside she was cold and lonely, and felt like he was light years away.
She gently lifted his head and lowered it onto his pillow, removed his arms from around her waist and disentangled her legs from his. He mumbled in his sleep and reached out for her as her warmth left him, leaving him vulnerable to the cool breeze on his sweat slicked skin. She floated up from the bed so as not to disturb him any further and gathered up her undergarments and clothing, which had been practically torn off three and a half hours before. She dressed quietly and quickly. Then floating over to the door, she turned and looked at him with a sad rueful smile. She sniffed and brushed the tears off her face as the panel slid open and shut with a hiss, leaving the room with only one occupant.
Showing emotion, admitting his true feelings, was something he didn't do- mainly because he wasn't good at it. His mentor had really been his true model, no matter what he actually thought of the man. Practical, methodical, and rarely a smile. Rarely ever showed his feelings. Impassive. Not a "wear your heart on your sleeve" kind of guy, and usually absorbed in his work. He had slightly inherited that from him, but found it hard to completely suppress everything. He felt emotions quite a bit, he just didn't express them outward.
Which was becoming a problem.
He had a feeling she was misunderstanding him, and he was clueless as how to make it right.
She was becoming more and more sedate, and he began to see her cheerful smile that lit up any room less and less. He couldn't figure out what was wrong, but couldn't work up the nerve to ask her. It meant having a heart-to-heart, and he just couldn't handle that.
Didn't she know that she meant absolutely everything to him? That he needed her smile every day like he needed air? That she was the internal force that kept this team from getting too gloomy at the amount of crime and wickedness in this city? She was their ray of sunshine, the glimmer of hope in a dreary outlook. She kept him from going under. He needed her. He loved her. She was beautiful. Didn't she know this?
Because he couldn't figure out how to tell her.
Hearing his door shut with a swish, Robin finally came to consciousness. There was an empty spot beside him, and the air was chilly on his bare shoulders. He wiped a hand over his sleepy eyes and realized that Starfire was gone. Glancing at the floor, so were her clothes. He knitted his eyebrows in concern. She had never skipped out before. Shifting to his knees and drawing the sheets around his waist, he noticed the pillow had a few wet drops on it. He ran his fingers over it, and then wondered if she had been crying.
But why? Hadn't everything been perfect? Didn't she like it?
Robin shook his head. He'd have to find her. He couldn't just leave her off crying somewhere. He had to find out what was wrong.
He hopped out of bed, dragging the sheets with him, and grabbed a pair of loose gray sweat pants and a white t-shirt. He pulled them on hastily and found his mask, in case the others came home early. Cyborg and Beast Boy had made a reluctant Raven go with them to a huge monster movie fest which was going to last most of the evening, but he didn't want to take any chances.
Walking out of his room, he winded through the halls of Titan's Tower until he stood outside Starfire's door. He leaned in and listened, and could hear muffled sobs. She was crying.
Robin lightly knocked his forehead against the door. What could he have done to make her cry? He stood there and internally debated with himself. The thought of having to face her was making him want to turn around and let her deal with it herself. His conscious though told him to own up and talk to her. If things needed to be fixed between them, now was the time to do it, no matter how much the thought of opening himself up was making him want to run in the opposite direction.
Finally he worked up the nerve to tap on her door.
"Star? It's me."
He heard her footsteps pad closer on the plush carpeting, and her sniffling became slightly louder.
"Are you okay?" he asked, concerned. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"No..." she said, voice strained.
"Can you open the door?" he asked gently.
A sigh was emitted from the other side of the door as it slid open. She stood there, holding her arms across her chest, wet streaks smeared across her cheeks, and her hair was messy.
"Starfire," Robin said worriedly. "What's wrong?"
"Oh Robin," she wearily sighed again, looking down and sadly shaking her head.
"Can I come in?" he asked. She nodded demurely and moved aside. He went in and wrapped his arms around her waist. Starfire wanted to protest but found she hadn't the energy.
"Please Star, tell me what I did," he whispered into her ear.
"Robin, I..." she failed, resting her cheek against his shoulder. Age had finally given him an edge on her height, and he was much more toned after so much training and physical activity that was their daily life.
"Yes you can," he said, anticipating the ending of her sentence.
"Why should I tell you, when you are never so open with me?" she said softly, and he almost didn't hear her. But he did. And he felt like he'd been socked in the stomach.
He could fight monsters and creatures that most people couldn't even bear to look at, take down psychotic villains, and leap from building to building hundreds of feet above the streets trusting that his grappling hook had a good hold. He could lead a team of potentially dangerous now young adults that could destroy the entire city themselves. He was the mediator, and kept tempers and passions under control. He could do all these things. But, he couldn't tell the one girl that meant the most to him that he loved her.
Robin sighed, and thought about Star's face the last time he had opened the door of the evidence room to see her standing there hopefully. Beast Boy had declared a movie night, and she had requested that he join them. He begged off, saying he had too much work. She looked so crest-fallen. He finally realized that every time he turned her down, he had basically implied that he valued work more than her and spending time with her. He had been pushing her away for so long, it was a wonder she kept coming back. It was a wonder she had given herself to him tonight, considering the way it happened:
"Come on Raven! You totally have to come, it's gonna be awesome!" Beast Boy said, flailing his arms in one extremely annoyed empath's face.
"I'd much rather stay here, Beast Boy," she replied, shaking her head.
"I think you'd like it Rae," Cyborg commented. "You don't get out often enough, girl. Come with us."
Beast Boy nodded his head in agreement. Starfire looked up curiously from her stretched out position on the couch.
"What are you talking about, friends?" The three had just entered the living room and Starfire had caught the end of their conversation.
"We're trying to convince Raven to come with us to a monster movie fest the cinema downtown is putting on," Beast Boy informed her. "But Raven's being stubborn, like always." He crossed his arms sullenly.
"Beast Boy," she threatened.
"Do you wanna come with too, Star?" Cyborg asked.
"Did you say 'monster movies?' I do not like those types of movies much."
"Raven, please?!" Beast Boy pleaded one last time. Raven heaved a huge sigh.
"Fine. I'll come with. But you better pay for my ticket."
"Of course," Beast Boy said with a huge grin, grabbing her wrist and dragging her along with him out the door. "It's gonna be sweet, you'll see."
Cyborg followed. "See ya later, Star," he called on his way out.
Starfire waved as he left, then sighed. It was lonely around the tower when her friends were gone. She decided to try and coax Robin out of his lair.
She reached the evidence room and the door slid open before her. Glancing in, Robin was at his desk with papers spread around him, and clicking away on the keyboard of the computer that cast a pale blue glow on his expressionless face. Starfire sauntered in and came up behind him, wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning her chin on his shoulder, gazing at the screen. He barely took notice that she was there.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Checking up..." he trailed off.
"Mm. The others have gone to a movie festival tonight. Might you wish to spend some time with me, and take a break?" she said softly, placing a small peck in front of his ear.
He didn't reply, but continued to pull up various complicated looking maps and data bases on the screen.
"Robin," Starfire said, trying to invoke an answer.
"I'm sorry Star... I'm too busy right now. This is important." Click click click.
"You have been in here all day. Cannot you even take a little break? We are alone, Robin."
He sighed and leaned forward, resting his elbow on the desk and cupping his chin in his hand. Starfire loosened her arms. "I can't. I have to figure this out."
Starfire closed her eyes in defeat, and felt quite rejected. Without another word she turned and left, leaving him to his work.
About an hour later Robin smiled in excited triumph.
"Got it. In two weeks... shipment will arrive at pier 43... a dozen crates of illegal substances and zinothium... And I'll be right there waiting to pick the crooks up," he mumbled to no one in particular as he logged his results. He leaned back and stretched his arms over his head, feeling extremely pleased with himself. Glancing around, he wondered where Starfire had gotten to. Suddenly he felt like taking her up on her offer.
Arriving in the living room, he found the alien princess he sought for lying stretched out on her side on the couch, about to doze off in front of the tv. He sat down and placed his hand on her hip.
"Hey," he smiled.
"You are finished with your work?" she drawled out, yawning.
"I am," he said, leaning down over her to place a kiss on her lips. Starfire lazily responded.
"You said something about the others being gone for the night?" he asked.
"Yes, to a movie fest. Wha-" Robin grabbed her arm and hauled her to her feet. He kissed her with fervor, then dragged her off to his bedroom.
He sighed. Real smooth.
He guided Starfire over to her bed, sat her down and stood in front of her, hands on her shoulders and faced her eye level.
"Star, I'm sorry. I've been doing this all the wrong way."
"It's not your fault, Robin; perhaps I demand too much of you."
"No, Star. You haven't demanded enough. You deserve so much more than what I've given you."
"I'm not good at showing my feelings. I know this. But you didn't know, and you've been suffering because of it. I noticed, Star, I really did. You've been smiling less, you've been looking at me with this sad expression, and you're not as enthusiastic when we…" at this Robin trailed off, blushing slightly.
"I was feeling used, Robin," Starfire finally said.
He lowered his head and stared at the floor, shoulders slightly slumping as well. That was the last thing he had ever wanted her to feel.
"I wasn't using you in the least bit."
"Well it felt like it. You do not say things that people who love each other say. You even seemed to not pay as much attention to me as you used to. It felt more like I was there only to satisfy your physical needs and then I could go back to being ignored." Starfire bit her lip. She had sounded much harsher than she meant to, but her words still would've had an effect. Robin felt ashamed of himself.
"I decided that I was not going to sit around and let you take me for granted. I could not stand it anymore. I wanted you to touch me, but when you did it felt so empty and emotionless that it hurt even more than when you slam the door in my face, claiming you are too busy to talk to me for even a minute."
There was silence for a second as Starfire paused. Robin was looking down at the carpet, and his hands were slipping from her shoulders. Starfire felt a wave of guilt that she had been too hard on him. She cupped her hands on his cheeks and gently raised his head to look him in the eyes.
"I love you Robin," she said with conviction. "And the things I did with you were because I love you with all my heart. But you have never told me how you really feel. I could only conclude that you did not feel the same. My people are different from your culture. I put up with it because I had hoped that someday you might return my feelings. On my planet, arranged marriages are common. People learn to love each other. I had hope that you might learn to love me. But slowly I realized that this is not so. People on your planet are different, and obviously the activity in which we engaged is not always reserved for those who are in love or bound to the duty of reproducing. It seemed that you were merely engaging in this activity with me for your personal entertainment, because you did not tell me otherwise."
"You're wrong, Star," he said quietly.
"Am I?" she asked, a slight bitterness to her tone.
He sat down on the bed beside her.
"Ever since I met you, I've had a new outlook on life. You were always so happy, and I couldn't figure out why. I was completely fascinated with you the very first day I met you. I wanted to know your secret, how you could always look on the bright side of life; you're so optimistic, and I always could only expect the worst. You meant everything to me, Star. When we were kids, I didn't know how to tell you. We were both pretty naïve," Robin said, sighing. He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands in front of him. "And I have to admit, we still are."
"I would have to agree. But I think there is a way to repair this relationship. When we were younger you and I could talk about anything. Do you not remember the nights we used to spend sitting on the roof? We'd converse until the morning hours. That was before the physical aspect got in the way. The communication between us broke down completely, Robin. We hardly say two words to each other anymore. We may be lovers now, but what we lost was the friendship we used to share."
Robin felt a slight panic stab his chest. "Are you implying that we should just be friends, then?" he asked slowly, fearing her answer.
"No, no!" Starfire said emphatically. She smiled. "I could never be 'just friends' with you, Robin." She became serious again. "But we cannot keep doing things the way we have these past months. That is not the way relationships are supposed to be, and it is not how I want our relationship to be. What I am implying is that we open the lines of communication again. You need to not spend as much time sealed away buried in your work. It is not good for you."
Robin felt a wave of relief wash over him.
"And, it couldn't hurt to tell me how you feel about me," she said, looking down. "I suppose it sounds selfish of me, but I am not a psychic like our friend Raven. If you love me, you will have to tell me. Also," she said, now smiling coquettishly, "A compliment will go a long way."
He laughed. "You want to know how I feel about you, Star? Well, this is how I feel. From the very first time I saw you, you were the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and believe me, being a superhero I've seen a lot of girls."
Starfire slowly smiled and she placed a hand over her mouth. Robin leaned in and tiltted her chin towards his face.
"And you still are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. In fact, you've only gotten prettier."
"Robin," she protested, embarrassed, but still enjoying every word.
"And," he continued, "I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I think subconsciously I've always loved you," he said, reflecting. "But I think the first time it truly hit me, or at least the first time I admitted it to myself, was when we all went to Tamaran and I almost had to give you away forever."
She started to cry again, but this time it was through a smile.
"So," he began, reaching up to wipe the tears off her cheeks, "do you forgive me?"
"Yes!" Starfire said vehemently, throwing her arms around his neck.
"I promise that I'll try harder."
She giggled. "That's good Robin," she said, pulling away but becoming more solemn. "But do not think a mere apology and a few compliments can take away the all hurt you have put me through."
Robin's own grin faded. "Star..."
"I demand that you take me out to dinner at least twice a week to a fancy restaurant, not the pizza place, and you must take me to the movies-"
Robin laughed, and cut her off with an affectionate kiss. She responded, but then broke away. "I also demand flowers and chocolate-" he leaned in again and grinned against her lips. After another second, she stopped and raised a finger to admonish him.
"Do not think that your charms will completely seduce me. I need proof-"
"How's this for proof?" He grabbed her and this time the kiss was much more passionate. Starfire relaxed against him and raised her arms around his neck. This time, kissing him felt much more satisfying.
After a few moments he let himself get caught up and lowered her back onto the bed. Robin kissed the corner of her mouth, then trailed under her chin and down her neck to her collarbone. Starfire smiled and ran a finger along the back of his neck and behind his ear. Robin found his hands were decidedly navigating themselves; one tangled in her hair and the other brushed across her skin next to the band of her skirt, then up her stomach to the hem of her shirt.
Robin was about to continue his exploration when they heard the door to the living room slam open and several excited voices. He reluctantly slid off of Starfire and then helped her up. The rest of the Titans were home.
"So, how'd it go?" he asked as the two entered the living room.
Beast Boy and Cyborg were already raiding the fridge, and Raven was standing by the curved couch shaking her head.
"It was like any other monster movie fest," she began. "Stupid pointless horror movies with terrible plots, horrible effects, and cheesy drama."
"Awesome!" Cyborg answered, raising a thumbs up from over the fridge.
"Totally sweet," Beast Boy agreed, bringing out a package of tofu hotdogs.
"Boring and not scary in the slightest," Raven said, crossing her arms and frowning.
"If it wasn't so scary, how come you were gripping Beast Boy's hand the entire time?" Cyborg asked slyly.
Raven's mouth opened a little and she blushed. Quickly she dispelled her embarrassment and glared at him.
Robin laughed. "Sounds like you guys had a great time."
"Looks like you two had a great time too," Cyborg said, eyeing Robin's sweat pants and their messy hair. Starfire's armor plate was missing from around her neck.
Robin and Starfire both blushed a deep crimson. Raven eyed them curiously, then a slight smile crossed her lips.
"We just... talked," Robin said, scratching the back of his head. It wasn't completely a lie.
"Right," Beast Boy drew out in a laugh.
A black aura surrounded one of Raven's books and flew up to lightly smack him in the back of the head.
"Ow! Raven, what'd you do that for?!" Beast Boy cried.
"You were being an idiot again," she dryly replied.
"Come on," Robin whispered to Starfire as he grabbed her hand. "This could get ugly."
They quickly slid out the door and back into the hallway.
"So, where were we now?" Robin breathed, lightly pushing her up against the wall. Starfire smiled and rested her hands on his shoulders.
"Actually, you know what I'd like to do?" she asked.
"What?" Robin replied.
Starfire nodded towards the ceiling. "The roof," she answered.
Robin grinned. "You got it."
Author's Notes: This is an idea I cooked up awhile ago. A look at some of Robin's character flaws, and how it could affect his relationship with Starfire. I was originally going to have it end a different way, being Starfire leaves him, but then I wasn't in the mood for a sad ending. Plus, I like to stay somewhat consistent with the episodes and the known ending for Robin and Starfire in the comics, which actually is rather sad… Anyway, feedback is always appreciated. Should you have any criticisms, please be tasteful.
And of course, standard disclaimers apply: I don't own the Teen Titans, though what fun I'd have if I did.