*grovels at the feet of community members, begs forgiveness, etc.*
It COMPLETELY slipped my mind. I mean....oh my GOD. I'M SO SORRY. D; Please forgive your mod!
So. MORE IMPORTANTLY! (Kind of!)
THIS IS THE SUPER-OFFICIAL, SUPER-IMPORTANT, SUPER-CRUCIAL VOTING THREAD FOR THE FANFICTION CONTEST.
HOW TO VOTE!
1. Read the entries.
2. Comment with your first, second, and third place fics out of the four entries. I'd be eternally grateful if you did it this way:
First place: title of fic here
Second place: title
Third place: title
3. That's it! ALL COMMENTS ARE SCREENED.
ALSO! VERY IMPORTANT RULE FOR THE ENTRANTS:
Oh-kay! Here are the entries!
ENTRY 1: Free & Easy
There was something about June afternoons that the little alien girl treasured more than anything. Floating, almost swimming, in the big blue Earth sky made her feel in a way insignificant. The sky was so vast, and here she was, just a little dot among the clouds.
A thought came across her mind and in an instant she had decided – she wanted a cloud for herself. Looking determinedly, she found the closest one was just above her. Raising her arms to the sky, Starfire shot up into the cloud and grabbed it in a big bear hug. For an instant it stayed with her, and she hugged it to her chest, leaning her head onto it with her trademark smile stretched across her face.
Yet as she hugged it, something happened to it – it melted away, leaving her arms and face wet. Confused, she thought that cloud may have just been a fluke. There were others; perhaps that one did not wish to be her pet cloud? Shooting up into the sky, she grabbed another cloud...and this one evaporated, too!
Far below, standing atop a giant T on an island in the middle of a bay, a boy clad in red and green searched the sky for a purple or perhaps orange streak. “She has to be here somewhere…” Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted his target. And she was… grabbing clouds?
Through his binoculars, he saw her indeed grabbing clouds; hugging them? Each cloud was exactly like the last. Starfire would grab it, hug it for some reason, and look dejected as it evaporated. “What could she possibly want with a cloud?” The logic made absolutely no sense to him.
His lip half-curled into a sneer as he followed the streak of orange and purple through the binoculars. “Really, someone should tell her you can’t hug a cloud. Clouds are made out of water vapor, and obviously you can’t hug water or you’ll get wet. I really ought to explain things to her, though I didn’t expect her to one day go around hugging clouds.”
Lowering the binoculars, he wiped a few beads of sweat from his brow. Even from a young age, Robin never could understand that fascination everyone had with clouds. All they were was ice crystals suspended together in the atmosphere. The fact that they formed shapes like puppies and hearts meant nothing to him.
As he donned the binoculars once again, his mind still couldn’t fathom the logic behind Starfire’s actions. “A cloud…”
Starfire began to grow tired of her search. Every cloud was exactly the same! Surely some cloud wanted to befriend her, but where was it? All the other clouds simply melted away in her arms. Surveying the sky, she oriented herself and descended back toward Titans Tower.
“Robin!” Noticing he was watching her, she sped toward the Tower with renewed cheer. “Perhaps Robin can explain to me why no cloud wished to be my friend.”
“So… clouds, Starfire?” Robin’s face passed from indignant to almost amused as he looked at how damp Starfire was as she landed next to him. He really couldn’t understand the logic, but the look of her after her endeavour somehow made it all right. She was just like that, he guessed.
“Yes, Robin! I had decided while eating breakfast this morning that I wished to explore the Earth’s sky. It is so full of colour! Raven explained to me that those fluffy white things in the sky were ‘clouds.’” With each sentence, she seemed to become that much more enthralled in telling her story. “As I ascended, I noted the beautiful shapes the clouds formed, and thought of how cute they were. I then thought that things that cute must surely be friendly, and decided to make one my pet!” As she told the story, she unconsciously leaned closer to Robin, as if to make him pay more attention.
Robin merely stood in a more relaxed position than usual, listening to the strange little alien girl tell him of her exploits above the skies of San Francisco. “And did you find out that they were made of vapor, and not really things to keep as pets?” “Really. Clouds.”
“Oh!” A glimmer of light seemed to illuminate the entire situation for her. That is why no cloud could be her pet! “But if they are made of water, how do they stay in the sky? Surely there is some force keeping them there.”
He almost had to chuckle to himself. The answer was so simple, and yet here she was, enraptured. Wiping another set of sweat beads from his brow, Robin sat on the edge of the Tower, legs dangling over the edge. With a pat, he motioned of Starfire to sit next to him.
“See, clouds stay in the sky because each cloud is made up of ice crystals, which, when they stick together, form water vapor.”
“Oh! This explains my dampness!” Starfire turned to beam at Robin while wringing out her orange hair.
“And when these droplets of water stick together, they form clouds.”
Still enraptured, Starfire leaned back to warm herself on the concrete. The feeling of warmth both from the concrete and the June sun was almost blissful. Turning slightly to her left, she noticed a most unusual cloud.
“Look, Robin!” Bolting back up to a sitting position, she seized his shoulder and pointed in the direction of the cloud. “It’s a Suldervian G’norxack!” The sight of such a creature manifested in cloud form brought an almost childlike smile to her face.
“A what?” Robin had heard of some weird creatures from her, but a Slu… whatever it was certainly had the weirdest name.
“A Suldervian G’norxack! They are creatures from the planet Sulder. I believe they bear a great resemblance to your Earthly Bears. The largest difference is that Suldervian G’norxacks are eight meters tall and have six legs. Children keep likenesses of them as playthings. I myself had …”
As she continued on, Robin merely listened quietly. He still didn’t completely understand the appeal of watching clouds float by, or pointing out what shape or animal they resembled, but this… this was enjoyable.
ENTRY 2: Cirque de Grayson
Starfire pouted. “Please?”
“You are not even letting me finish!” Starfire shouted through the door, crumpling the flier in her hand.
“I’m trying to save you the trouble, Star,” Raven muttered back, barely audible. “I promise you, there is absolutely nothing you could say to coerce me into spending the hottest day of the summer cooped up in a tent with thousands of people watching a bunch of performers try to wow people with cheap stunts and domesticated beasts.”
Starfire made an annoyed face. “Hmph! Very well then! Perhaps the next time you wish me to accompany you on an outing of amusement, I will refuse you!” And she stalked away from Raven’s bedroom door, wiping sweat from her brow as she went.
Raven had been right about one thing: the summer heat was rather uncomfortable. Not that she wasn’t used to it, of course – her Tamaranian sun could get quite intense at times as well – but one thing she had learned in her time on Earth was the difference between ‘hot’ and ‘humid.’ Starfire decided ‘humid’ was one of the few things she disliked about her new home.
She wandered into the Main Room, where Cyborg and Beast Boy were sitting in front of the television, gamestation on, pounding each other into pulp as usual. Starfire approached them casually, smoothing out the flier she held.
“I am the GOD of Superhero Smackdown, BB, you are NOT gonna pull this one over on me!” Cyborg announced.
“Said the tortoise to the hare!” Beast Boy grunted back.
“…Beast Boy, the tortoise WON in that story!”
“Yeah, he…wait…SHUT UP, you’re tryin’ to distract me!”
“Friends?” Starfire interrupted, holding up the flier. “Would you perhaps be--”
“Can’t talk, kicking butt!” the pair said in unison. And after a pause, “JINX!”
“You owe me a soda, bolts-fer-brains, I said it first!”
“Like hell you did, grass-stain!”
Starfire’s face fell. She wasn’t going to pierce their bubble anytime soon. But she still had one last hope…
She found him in the gym as usual, working on his aerial moves. As she entered he was swinging by his grappling hook from a wooden support beam across the ceiling. She watched for a moment as he pulled his legs up mid-swing, and to her wonder, he hooked his foot into the handle, released his hand, and hung upside-down by one foot as he swung. He stretched his hand out at the bottom of his swing, and for the first time Starfire noticed an empty bottle in his path. His hand reached for it…the distance closed rapidly…
At the last possible moment, however, his foot slipped from its hold, and he fell face-first into the mat. He punched the ground with a frustrated growl as he pulled himself to his feet, but he calmed as he noticed his friend, and smiled at her.
Starfire smiled back. “That would appear to be a most difficult maneuver,” she said.
Robin nodded. “I’ve almost got it, I think…just need a bit more practice. What’s up, Star?”
Starfire held up the flier in her hands. “There is a most wonderful show at the edge of town called a ‘circus!’ I have seen them on the television, but I have never attended one in person! Would you like to accompany me, Robin? It would be a most wonderful activity with which to take our minds off of the unpleasant temperature level!”
Robin’s smile slowly faded as he stared at the flier. Along the bottom was the trademark three-ring stage, where costumed elephants and their riders marched. Just above that was a pair of human cannonballs crossing each other in an X-shape in midair. And at the top, frozen in mid-swing…was a trio of trapeze artists, garbed in bright red and green uniforms.
“The people of the flying trapeze seem most similar in appearance to you, Robin!” Starfire said cheerfully, oblivious to his sudden mood shift. “Would it not be most amusing to--”
Starfire halted, her face falling. “You…do not want to go?”
Robin shook his head and turned away. “Sorry…I just…don’t like circuses…”
“I just…don’t, all right?”
Starfire seemed to deflate. “Why does no one wish to go with me? Do I have the body odor?”
Somehow Robin managed to chuckle through the sudden cloud of gloom. “No, Star, it’s not--”
“Have I the cooties?”
Robin chuckled a little louder. “Cooties aren’t real, Star, you know that.”
“Then why do you not wish to go with me?.!”
Robin sighed. “Starfire, it has nothing to do with you, I just…need to train,” he lied.
Starfire did not give up, however. She swooped in front of him again, and took both of his hands in hers. “Please, Robin? I have never seen a circus before, and I wish so much to go…but I do not wish to go alone. Please…please come with me, Robin?”
In the end, it wasn’t her pleas or her gentle touch that convinced him. It was her eyes that clinched it. Those enormous and gorgeous green pools. His own gloom be damned, it was physically painful to think of those eyes full of tears.
“…Oh, all right, I’ll go…”
Her mouth exploded into a grin. “Glorious!” she announced, squeezed her arms around him, and without even thinking about it she kissed his cheek with a loud smack!
“Oh! My apologies!” she said hurriedly. “I simply could not contain my excitement! I shall go get ready immediately!”
And she was gone before he could fill his lungs again.
He took a deep breath. This wasn’t going to be easy…
The crowds screamed and whistled at incredible volumes, cheering for the duo of human cannonballs as they loaded themselves into cannons at opposite ends of the enclosure, waving to the crowds around them. A few moments later, they disappeared inside the barrel of the cannons, a hush fell over the crowd, and their assistants lit the fuses.
“Oh, is this not exciting?.!” Starfire whispered to Robin as she clutched his shoulder. “To experience such things without the ability to fly must require such incredible bravery!”
“Y-yeah…bravery…” Robin muttered, trying to keep himself from bolting out of there and not looking back. He didn’t like it here one bit. There were too many memories…too much loss that haunted him. But he’d promised Starfire that he would come with her, and no matter how uncomfortable he was, he would stick it out…for her.
The two cannons fired together, and as the crowd stood and held their collective breath, the performers inside were launched straight toward each other at frightening speeds.
Starfire gasped and bounced on the balls of her feet. “They are going to collide!”
Robin almost laughed. Almost. “It’s okay, Star…just watch.”
And just as Robin knew would happen, the duo did not crash into each other, but instead high-fived as they passed one another and landed smoothly in the safety nets set in exactly the right place to catch them.
Starfire cheered with the rest of the crowd at the feat, an enormous grin on her face. “That was most exciting, was it not, Robin?”
Robin nodded slowly. “Uh-huh…exciting.”
Starfire turned to him curiously. “Are you quite all right, Robin? You have seemed rather uncomfortable for the duration of the performance.”
“I’m fine, Star, it’s…just the heat,” he lied. God, how he hated lying to her…
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the ringleader announced, her microphone booming, before Starfire could say more. “We will now have a short intermission before we begin the final act…the pride of our pack, and masters of the flying trapeze…the lovely Sisters of the Sky! The final act is in twenty minutes, so don’t be late!”
The crowd stood up to stretch their legs, mob the concession stands, and take bathroom breaks as needed, and Robin stood up with them.
”I’m gonna…go get some fresh air,” Robin said. He dug into his pocket and handed Starfire a crumpled bill. “Why don’t you get yourself some popcorn or something?”
“O-oh…” Starfire said, surprised, and took the bill. “Thank you, Robin, I--”
But he was already gone.
Starfire frowned. He wasn’t fooling her at all. Something was making him uncomfortable about this place, and it wasn’t the heat.
She stood and hurried out of the stands, trying to catch up to the Boy Wonder, but he was nowhere to be seen. She considered flying to try to look for him in the air, but she remembered Robin telling her before they arrived that it would be best not to draw attention to themselves. So against her instinct she stayed grounded and searched on foot.
“Robin? Robin! Where did you go?”
She could hardly hear herself in the crowds, however. There was no way Robin would hear her. Gently, so as not to hurt anyone with her superior strength, she squeezed herself through the crowds and toward the back of one of the smaller tents, where it was much quieter. Maybe Robin had gone this way as well, she guessed. She knew he wasn’t usually one to hang around in large crowds, and this area was quiet and deserted. She made her way forward, eyes searching.
“…the money, you…”
Starfire’s ears perked up at the faint voice. Was it Robin?
She hurried toward the sound, and it steadily grew stronger until she realized there were several voices.
“Look, I told you guys, I’m not interested…”
“Maybe you don’t get the situation yer in, missy…”
Starfire was disappointed to find that neither voice was Robin’s…but curiosity urged her forward. She peeked around the corner of the tent and found three people standing there arguing. Two of them were short, stocky men that Starfire could tell instantly were trouble. They had all the appearances of hired goons: dark clothes, rimmed hats pulled down over their eyes, and the bulge of a firearm under their coats.
The third person was the ringleader of the circus, still in full uniform. Her face was tightened into an annoyed frown.
“I don’t care what you think I owe you,” the woman said. “And I don’t care what your boss has to say. You’re not going to intimidate me into giving you money you didn’t earn for some ridiculous idea of ‘protection.’ This circus has never bought into you gangsters in its entire history, and it’s not about to start now.”
“A shame,” one of the men said to his partner. “Poor dame don’t know da boss too well, do she?”
“No she don’t,” the other man agreed.
“Alright, doll-face…you don’t want Zucco’s charity, dat’s your call. But accidents happen, toots. An’ when dey do…you’ll come crawlin’ back ta us. And we won’t be bein’ quite so generous then.”
The two men turned and left, snickering. The ringleader rolled her eyes impatiently and hurried in the opposite direction back into the main tent. All three were oblivious to Starfire’s presence as she tried to make sense of what she’d seen. The men most certainly did not look like law-abiding characters, but she couldn’t just go snatch them then and there…they hadn’t technically done anything wrong. Or at least, nothing she could prove. But their words…they still sounded threatening…but it was hard for her to make sense of it, she was still so unfamiliar with Earth slang.
She stood there for nearly the whole of the intermission, thinking, until the ringleader suddenly spoke from within the main tent.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the final act is about to begin! Please take your seats!”
“Eep!” she squeaked. She’d completely forgotten about the show. And she never found Robin after all that…
Wait…Robin! Starfire realized. He will be able to make sense of the sight I witnessed! I must inform him immediately! Oh, I hope he has returned to our seats and not run from his strange discomfort!
She hurried back inside just as the ringleader was taking center stage.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, our grand finale! We are proud to present to Jump City tonight, the greatest display of aerial acrobatics you have ever seen! Please give a warm welcome to our beloved Sisters of the Sky…Lilian, Lilith, and Liliet!”
Starfire looked up to where the spotlights shone. Way up at the top of the tent, mounted precariously on a small platform, were a trio of women, each waving to the crowd as the ringleader called their names. All of them had perfectly toned, sleek, and slender bodies costumed in red and green outfits that strangely resembled Robin’s.
“Prepare to be amazed and astounded as these beauties of the flying trapeze perform death-defying acts the likes of which you have never before witnessed!”
Starfire was not paying attention as they began their performance, however. She hurried back toward her seat, and just as she was halfway up the stairs, she encountered Robin heading down them just in front of her.
“Oh, Starfire, there you are,” he said. “Listen…I have to…get back home. You go ahead and enjoy the rest of the show, I just…need to go.”
“What?.! Why?.!” she nearly demanded, and was promptly shushed by the people in the seats beside them.
“I just…it’s complicated, Star…I’ll tell you later. See you back home.”
Robin tried to step around her, but Starfire moved in front of him again. “But Robin, I must tell you something!”
“It can wait until later, Star--”
“It most certainly cannot!” she insisted, and again the people next to them insisted she shut up.
Robin narrowed his eyes. “Star you’re making a scene,” he whispered. “This can wait until--”
“No, Robin, you do not understand! There is evilness and treachery nearby!”
“And now,” the announcer went on in the background, “bear witness, as our sisters enter the most dangerous and difficult phase of their performance…WITHOUT the safety of a net!”
Robin sighed and shifted uncomfortably, and Star noticed his eyes never went near the trapeze performers as their ultimate death-defying routine began. “Okay, fine, what is it?” he said distractedly.
“I overheard two men arguing with the leader of the ring during the intermission,” she said quickly. “It sounded as though they were demanding money from her, and--”
“Money?” Robin echoed, and suddenly he appeared much more interested in what she was saying.
“Yes. She refused them, and the men….I could not completely understand them, but it seemed like they were threatening her…”
Robin’s face was slowly growing pale. “What did they say?”
Starfire wracked her brain, trying to remember the exact words. “They said…that she would come crawling back to them after…after…”
“Accidents happen?” Robin filled in abruptly.
“Why, yes, exactly! What did they mean by--eep!”
Robin suddenly grabbed Starfire by the shoulders, looking her straight in the eye.
“What else did they say? Tell me, Starfire!”
Starfire was thoroughly confused now, and more than a little fearful of this sudden intensity directed at her. But she pressed on. “They mentioned…their boss. I believe they said his name was…Zucco?”
Robin’s eyes widened in sheer horror. “No…”
“Robin, what is…Robin?”
But suddenly he was no longer paying attention to her, but something far above the both of them. Suddenly all she heard was screaming. Starfire looked, and gasped. One of the trapeze cords had snapped in the middle of a swing, and two of the three sisters were hanging on for dear life by the remaining cord while their third sister, clearly the youngest of them, stood safely on the platform, staring in total terror, helpless. The circus staff were scrambling to get the safety net back into place, but they would never make it in time…
“No…” Starfire heard Robin’s voice shake as he spoke. “Not again…never again…”
One of the girls’ grip faltered, and in a split second Robin had fired his grappling hook into the tent’s support beams. He leapt and swung just as she lost her grip entirely and began to fall the hundreds of feet to the empty ground.
Robin blocked out her horrible scream and prayed his swing could reach her in time…
But as he judged the distance, to his renewed horror, he saw wouldn’t be able to reach her…she would fall just a few inches too low…
Like lightning he swung his legs up and hooked one boot into the handle. He released his hand, and swung upside-down toward the girl, reaching his hand for her. He never had mastered the move in training…but now it was the girl’s only hope…
“GRAB ON!” he screamed as he approached.
He had just one chance…this one chance…he reached…
With a loud clap, he caught the girl’s wrist as she grabbed his, jerking the rope hard, but at last Robin managed to keep his foothold, and the twosome hung there, adrenaline pumping, but alive.
“T-thank you…oh God, thank you…” the girl wept below him.
Peripherally he saw Starfire fly to the other girl and grab onto her before she could fall, and deposit her safely on the ground before returning and lifting the sister Robin had caught from his grip. Finally she flew back up and freed Robin from his upside-down position, holding him tightly as she brought him down to the ground.
“Are you all right, Robin?” she whispered.
“Fine,” he managed, and she could tell his voice was choked with emotion. The moment she set him down, he pulled free from her grip, and fled. After only a few moment’s hesitation to ensure the girls were taken care of, Starfire followed.
Somehow, Starfire managed to completely lose track of Robin on the way home…or perhaps he wanted her to lose him. Whatever the case, by the time she returned to Titans Tower, Robin had sealed himself in his room, and whatever methods Starfire used to try to coax him out, he would not open the door for her or anyone else all afternoon and through the evening.
By the time night fell and the humid summer air had at last cooled somewhat, Starfire had given up. She knew something had happened to affect Robin immensely, something that she wasn’t aware of, something below the surface of what happened at the circus that day; and that alone probably made Robin as reclusive as he was being, he was so private by nature. On top of how big it apparently was to him, she realized he probably needed time to sort it all out in his own head, and it would be wrong of her to keep pressing him before he was ready to talk to her about it.
If he would ever want to talk to me about it…
That last thought ate at her as she slipped out of her uniform and into her nightgown. She wanted so badly to be near him, both physically and emotionally. But now she feared he would never allow her to get that close…
She plopped onto her bed with a sigh and decided to let it lie overnight and try again in the morning. She pulled the covers over herself, laid her head on the pillow, and closed her eyes…
She opened her eyes again in surprise. It couldn’t be…
“Starfire? It’s me…”
It was. Robin.
She climbed out of bed and opened the door. “Friend Robin…I had resigned myself to leave you be for the evening…”
“Yeah…” he said quietly. “Sorry about that…”
Starfire glanced down and saw a crumpled paper clutched in one of his hands, folded into quarters. “What is that?” she wondered aloud.
Robin glanced down the hallway in both directions, and then looked to her. “Do you mind if I come in for a minute?”
“N-no, not at all…” she said, and stepped aside. Robin slipped in and closed the door behind him. He gestured toward her bed, and they sat down beside each other.
“I’m…sorry for avoiding you all day…I just needed some time to myself for a while…” he told her.
“I assumed as much,” Starfire said. “But Robin…what on Earth caused you such strain? Surely what happened at the circus is not all that different from what we normally--”
“I know. It…wasn’t that.”
Starfire saw his grip tighten on the piece of paper in his hand, then loosen as he raised it, and handed it to her. Starfire took it and unfolded it to reveal a flier. It was for a circus, though the date was marked several years ago. It looked a lot like the flier she herself had shown him earlier, except for the name written under the feature attraction.
“The Flying Graysons…?” she read aloud.
Robin nodded. “…They’re my family.”
Starfire’s eyes widened in shock. “Your…family?”
“Yeah,” he said, pointing. “My mom…my dad…”
His finger traced from the older woman, to the man beside her…and to the boy standing proud between them.
Starfire stared in wonder at the young boy in the picture, and the name beneath it. “Richard…Grayson…”
Robin nodded. “I grew up in the circus…training with my parents to be a trapeze artist. I was…something of a prodigy, heh…I was matching my parents swing for swing by the time I was nine years old…it was a simple life, I guess, but…we were happy.”
Starfire almost dreaded asking, but her curiosity urged her forward. “What…what happened to them?”
Robin’s expression hardened. “Zucco.”
“The name I overheard earlier?” Starfire guessed.
“Yeah. He…was trying to extort the circus’ wealth…just like what happened today. And when the owners wouldn’t give in…Zucco rigged the show. My parents…in the middle of the show the high-wire just…snapped. I was the only one who was…safe. I couldn’t do anything but…watch them fall…”
Already Starfire was near tears. “Oh, Richard…how awful…”
“That’s…why I was so weird today,” Robin admitted. “Being there, it…brought back memories. And then hearing Zucco was there…walking free and up to his old tricks again…seeing those girls fall…it was like it was happening all over again.”
He looked up at the girl beside him. “I…did a lot of thinking after that…and that’s why I came here. You were there with me…you helped save those girls…and I realized you deserved to know the truth about it.”
Starfire wiped her tears away forcefully. “Robin…Richard…truly, you did not need--”
“I know…but I wanted to. Because I realized something else as well.”
He took her hands in his. “Star…you might not know it…but you helped me a lot today. You made me face a lot of my old demons, bringing me to that circus. If you hadn’t done that…I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself, knowing what would’ve happened. Those girls…they would’ve died today if you hadn’t insisted on going. They’re alive because of you, Star. And knowing that you’re the reason we saved that family from suffering what my family has…I owe you so much for that…”
And before the overwhelmed girl could even begin to muster a response, his arms were around her, holding her tight.
“Thank you, Starfire…” he whispered. “Thank you…”
It was all she could do to hold him in return and try not to let the tears flow.
“You are welcome, Richard…”
ENTRY 3: Summer
Her name was Summer.
Summer as in the season, an eternal ray of sunlight, gallantly fighting off the evening darkness. Radiant, wholesome and pure. A girl like no other that Summer Elvery.
The girl was doubtlessly pretty, with all that blonde hair, flawlessly tanned skin and those huge blue eyes. Her floral sundress hugged every curve of her slim frame in ways that really shouldn’t be possible. Her clear skin seemed to shimmer when it caught the sun, and her feet never appeared to touch the ground.
Not only that, but she was smart and witty and charming. She’d flash those white teeth and boys would fall over themselves to get closer to her…what was it that Raven had said? They were reduced to pathetic, useless dead weights in order to merely feel her radiance on their sickly skin.
But really, one could expect no less from Robin’s – sorry, Dick’s fiancé.
And by God, Starfire hated her.
Starfire had been 19 when the Teen Titans had disbanded.
The friendly bickering had given way to fisticuffs and low blows. Eye rolls and laughter had eventually led to glares and hurtful mutterings and really, it was all wrong.
Cyborg had left in a fit of angry words and wayward fists, however, unlike all the other times he’d removed himself from the team, this time he did not come back.
Beast Boy was next. His departure wasn’t emphasised with commotion, he simply left one day after saying a humble goodbye. On the table, he left a box of tofu, wholemeal bread and a short letter saying a straightforward ‘don’t forget me.’
Raven had left in the dead of the night, not a sound, not a word, not a note.
So for a few weeks it was just Starfire and Robin, fighting together as shadows of the night in Gotham City. But it wasn’t to last, and honestly to Starfire it was no surprise.
His goodbye was sad and bitter, and he held her hand, kissed her cheek and disappeared into the night.
The following morning she had reclaimed her throne at Tamaran, there was nothing left for her on Earth.
A boy stood before her, young and shaking. Eyes glancing around the Tamaranian throne room in something akin to frantic curiousity.
“I come bearing a message, your highness.”
She smiled warmly down at the young man and his heart fluttered in his throat.
“Mr. Dick Grayson…Robin is getting married to Miss. Summer Elvery on the 14th July this year. You’ve been humbly invited to attend.”
Her blood raced through her body as if on fire, whilst her heart screamed in agony.
She landed on Earth again with a thud, her small spacecraft buzzed happily to a halt on the growing grass of a man-made park. It was a strange feeling really, this planet once again underfoot.
“Star! I was hoping you’d show!”
A large green dog leapt at her, a ball of fur licking and laughing.
Beast Boy hadn’t changed half as much as she’d expected. He was still short and lean, with a mess of dark green hair sitting ridiculously on his round head. Big emerald eyes glanced up at her appreciatively.
“Damn, Star. We always knew you’d be hot, but…”
She laughed in good nature, hugging his shorter body close. “You do not look too bad yourself, Beast Boy.”
“Just Garfield now.” His wide smile was sad, lonely and Starfire knew hers was a nostalgic reflection.
“Just Kory now.” She stated, holding his hand in hers.
“Star, BB! What are ya’ll doin’ over there! Get down here.”
Both their grins were refreshed as Cyborg bounded over, tall and broad and strong. His robotic parts were smooth and clean, reflecting the daily sun beautifully. He was still hairless, Starfire noted, but then again, she doubted she’d have been able to recognise him if he’d suddenly sprouted long, curly locks.
The three smiled quite naturally at each other, the relaxed, fun-loving side to the team previously known as the Titans.
“Who’d a thought Robin would be the first to get married, I mean, its Robin.”
“Nightwing now, BB”
“No,” Starfire answered, a sad smile marring her gorgeous face, “The invitation said ‘Dick’.”
The three had headed over to the closest Pizza Hut, for the simple sense of familiarity. Now, as she sat on the sweaty stool, greasy pizza oil dripping down her long fingers, the nostalgia hit a painful chord.
“Is Raven coming?”
Beast Boy flushed, the after effect of unrequited childhood crushes. Starfire could relate.
“Dunno, none of us has heard from her since we disbanded.”
Cyborg rolled his eyes, grabbing another slice of the fast disappearing pizza. “She’ll be here. She loved us as much as we loved her, she wouldn’t miss this.”
Loved. Past tense. Right.
“I’ve got to go to the bathroom, I’ll be back in a second.” Starfire said, picking up her little green purse and walking quickly away from the table.
She had always loved the ‘fast-food’ of Earth, however the toilets at these places tended to…how did Beast Boy say it? Gross the hell outta her. Yes, that sounded right.
Nothing had changed apparently, they still reeked of sweat and faeces and goodness-knows-what. The mirror was still lathered with dust and soap, and the wall-tiles still possessed derogatory graffiti all over it.
The room was empty, other than one lone figure sitting on the bench beside the sink. The woman was pale as death, with long dark hair and brilliant black eyes. She wore a dark dress which hugged her chest and flared beautifully to the bottom of her knees.
“It has been too long, Raven.”
“It has, Kory.”
There were no hugs, no kisses, no tears, no dodgy words of reunion and lost friendship, because their relationship didn’t work that way. The only inclination that they even knew each other, was the barest hint of a smile on either of their faces.
“It isn’t like him to be late.” Raven stated, if she had been any less refined, Starfire imagined she’d be staring at her watch whilst impatiently tapping her foot.
The four of them stood soundly in the entrance to a pricey little café in central Bludhaven. This was the moment they’d all – well, Starfire at least – had been waiting for, the moment they’d meet Mrs. Soon-to-be-Summer-Grayson. Only, they were due at six, and it was quickly nearing six thirty.
There was a giggle somewhere behind them, deep and rich, and that was when they saw her. Tall and beautiful, in that slinky red dress, with golden blonde locks tumbling neatly down her exposed back. Next to her, stood the very man Starfire had fantasised about meeting again for the past ten years.
Like his fiancé, he was tall and beautiful. His eyes were the deepest of blue (she’d never known that), his skin was creamy and his hair was so dark. He looked absolutely dashing in that black tuxedo, with the barest of grins on his face.
“Everyone, Summer, Summer, everyone.” And Summer’s smile dazzled the whole of Bludhaven, causing Cyborg and Beast Boy to stumble blindly just trying to introduce themselves. Robin – no, Dick laughed, arm around the girl’s waist, and Starfire’s smile was so fake it hurt.
“They seem happy.” Raven states, leaning across the table to murmur in Starfire’s ear.
Summer grinned at them both, moving to sit closer.
“Y’know, Dick hasn’t stopped talking about you!”
Starfire stared; she hadn’t really been expecting that. “Really?”
“Yeah, ever since he proposed. He kept saying how well we’d get along! But with the way he was talking about you, someone’d think it was the two of you getting married!” The blonde laughed, before grabbing another glass of wine. “You and Raven simply must come to my hens’ night, you have to tell me all the adventures you and Dick got up to as kids.”
“Of course.” Starfire said, before she could stop herself. Raven’s eyes were on her, curious and watching. “It will be fun.”
Summer giggled happily, before getting up to go talk to the boys.
“If she giggles one more time, I can’t be held accountable for my actions.” Raven stated, taking another sip of her tea.
“She is rather…”
“Irritating? God knows what Robin sees in her.”
“It’s Dick now…”
Raven gave her a strange look, tugging a lavender lock behind a pale ear. “He’s been staring at you all night.”
Starfire sighed, eyeing Raven bitterly. “So have you.”
“Your reactions are interesting.” She shrugged.
Across the table came another giggle, Dick’s voice low and kind.
“He doesn’t belong with her.”
“I do not quite understand this ‘hens night’.”
“It’s just the bridal party becoming drunken idiots whilst gossiping about the joys of fridges and future children.”
Starfire stared oddly at Raven, the other girl was quite clear in her displeasure of the whole ordeal.
“You should be happy for Ro-Dick.”
Raven gave her a blatant stare, before a mocking eye-roll. “So should you.”
“I…I am trying.”
They entered the nightclub with obvious unease, starting at the familiar giggle. “I was starting to worry you girls wouldn’t make it!”
“I never could resist the pull of a good party.” Raven said, sarcasm thick in her voice as she moved to the side of the room.
Starfire nodded, moving to follow her friend, before Summer grabbed a drunken hold onto her arm.
“Come dance with me, Star! Dick said you were good at it.”
“We only danced once.”
Summer didn’t really pay attention, her eyes glazed from the effects of various vodka cocktails. “For real? The way he said it made it sound like that was all you did.”
The blonde’s hold on her arm was desperate, and her blue eyes were searching for answers to questions she hadn’t asked.
“What were you and Dick?”
“We were very good friends, he helped me a lot on this planet.”
“Don’t bullshit me.” Her voice was needy, “What were you to him?’
“We were frien-“
“Stop bullshitting me!” Summer screamed, but thankfully it was drowned out by the steady beat of the DJ. “Did he love you?”
“You should sit down, you have had too much to drink.”
Summer batted off her concerns, nails clawing at the taller woman’s arm. “Did he love you?”
“I-I do not know.”
The blue eyes were on her again, evaluating every square millimetre of her face. “Do you love him?”
The silence was painful, even with the party screams and the blood thundering through both of their ears.
“Well,” Summer gave a little shake, “Do you?”
“Yes.” And with that, Starfire threw the other girl off her, and promptly left the club.
She was three blocks away, when she saw a familiar form hunched over the park bench.
“Haven’t heard that name in a while.”
His skin glowed in the night, and his slight stagger as he walked towards her showed that he was about as well off as his fiancé in the sobriety department.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at Summer’s hens night?”
She glared stonily, “Are you not supposed to be at your bachelor party?”
He shrugged helplessly, flashing her a sad grin, “Needed some air.” He tripped as soon as he’d said it, causing her to leap to catch him.
“You are as drunk as your future wife.” She stated, moving him back to the park bench.
“We’re a match made in heaven.” He said, his tone joking.
“Yes, well when you have children at least, I’d recommend staying away from such intoxicants.”
“You haven’t change, y’know. You’re still so strong, innocent though, and still so beautiful.” He moved to touch her face, but he didn’t seem surprised when she batted his hand away.
“You are getting married.”
“Do you…do you know what my greatest regret was, after leaving the Titans?”
She shook her head, still clutching onto his limp body.
“It was leaving you behind.”
Maybe the moment would’ve been romantic, if he hadn’t promptly vomited on her dress.
She took him home, undressed him, and put him to bed.
And for the first time in years, Dick Grayson awoke tired, cold and desperately alone.
Three days later, Starfire found herself in front of one of the most elaborate, intricately designed cathedrals she’d ever seen. White and yellow lace was moulded into every corner, every banister, every loop, and lilies were laid down at every footrest. Maybe it would’ve been beautiful, maybe.
Raven stood by her side, striking in a flowing black gown. Her face was expressionless as she stared at her friend. Beast Boy and Cyborg stood tall, chattering happily whilst every so often tossing looks of concern in Starfire’s direction. She wondered if they could possibly comprehend what she was going through.
Music started playing, as people made a mad dash for their seats. Three flower girls, eight bridesmaids followed, leading the way for the Summer bride, in her huge, snowball dress.
Raven was at her shoulder again, “Don’t let him do this.” She muttered into her ear.
Starfire looked over at her friend in surprise, “Pardon?”
But Raven didn’t repeat herself, merely tucked a dark lock of hair behind her ear. “How old were you when you were betrothed to the sludge-thing?”
The red-head didn’t say anything in response, opting to instead watch Summer waltz her way up the aisle.
“Robin didn’t rest until he could stop that wedding. He couldn’t stand the thought of you making the mistake of being with…”
“With that horrible being, I know, Raven.”
“No…of being with anyone else but him.”
Star closed her eyes tight, tears welling unpleasantly. Beside her, Raven sighed, “You said you would follow your heart always…”
“This is different, Raven.”
But she didn’t have a real answer to that. Robin had been so determined for her not to marry that thing, he worried about her happiness, but really, at the time he had been most concerned about his own.
“Be selfish, Starfire. For once in your life, be selfish.”
And suddenly the words of the clergy rang loud and clear in her ears.
“If any man can show just cause as to why they may not be wedded, let him speak now or forever hold his peace”
“I-I do not concede.” Starfire stood, face flushed, fists clenched. “I do not.”
Summer’s eyes welled as she stared at the woman in the crowd, this was so wrong. She turned to see Dick, but he wasn’t looking at her, nor the girl in the crowd, no his eyes remained solely on the roof of the Cathedral, face blanker than she’d ever seen.
The Tamaranian headed to the aisle, rushing to get to where the bride-and-groom-to-be stood.
“I am very sorry, Summer. You seem kind and beautiful, but I can not concede to this. I can not stand by and let you take him away from me.”
The bride flushed, clawing madly at Dick’s arm. But still, he would look at neither of them.
“Robin,” Starfire started, eyes huge and anxious, “Dick, I…you said…you and this woman were a match made in heaven, and maybe you are. Maybe she understands you better than I could ever hope too, maybe she will lie back and let you obsess over villains, maybe she loves you, but she could never love you, in spite of all your flaws, as much as I do.”
“I do not know what will happen if you choose me. I do not know where we will end up but…your greatest regret was leaving me behind, my greatest regret was that nothing ever happened between us. So please, do not marry Summer…let us try. Let us…”
“Star…” Robin said, fingers over his eyes, “You had me at I do not concede.”
And Starfire was right, she did not know where they’d be tomorrow, or next week or next year. She didn’t know what the extent of Summer’s love was for the boy, and really, she never would. But at least now, she thinks, there will be no regrets.
ENTRY 4: Victorious
The sweet summer air shimmered above the cracked pavement, dancing with the warped sunlight. Though the temperature was a low 80 the lack of clouds in the crystal sky and the scarcity of wind aided the sun’s rays as they beat down mercilessly on Jump City. The rarity of such undisturbed heat seemed to have brought an unprecedented pause to routine life, keeping all the city’s occupants, including criminals, at bay.
After pacing the entirety of the tower fifteen times and staring imploringly at the Titans’ comm. screen, Robin had finally taken his fellow teammates’ advice and decided to use the free time to his advantage. And so, fifteen minutes after lunch had ended, Robin found himself outside, standing before his mud encrusted R-cycle; hose, rags, and a bucket of soapy water in hand.
Robin sighed. He had put this off for far too long. Whereas Cyborg retuned the T-car after every use, Robin was always too preoccupied with reviewing the current case’s file to always keep his motorcycle in perfect condition. Yet he couldn’t remember the last time he’d allowed it to fall into such a disgraceful state. “Guess there’s a first time for everything,” he muttered. He set the bucket beside his R-cycle and begrudgingly dropped to his knees. He’d only just connected the nozzle to the hose when a hovering shadow obstructed the unrelenting sunlight.
“Robin?” A voice lilted above him, “Perhaps you require some assistance?”
“Hey, Star,” Eagerly welcoming the distraction, Robin dropped his hose and smiled at the alien girl. “I’m just washing the R-cycle, it’s really not that hard.”
“Oh, but I wish to commence in the ritual of bathing of your vehicle!” Her eyes gleamed with excitement. “I have often asked Cyborg if I may participate in such a ritual but he is reluctant to have anyone touch his ‘baby’.” She giggled at the term of endearment.
Robin couldn’t help smiling at her enthusiasm. “You really want to help?
She nodded, “Oh yes! Unless you feel the need to protect your mechanical youngling as Cyborg does.”
“Nah, I trust you.” He spoke with more confidence than he felt. Though he would trust his life in Starfire’s capable hands without so much as a second thought, he wasn’t certain his R-cycle could withstand her unbridled enthusiasm. Yet he tossed her a soapy rag, knowing that, on some level, her happiness meant more than a mechanical object. “Here, you can start on that side and I’ll work over here.”
Starfire let out a squeal of delight and eagerly began running the rag across the exterior of the motorcycle. Robin attempted to work as diligently on his side yet he was finding her presence to be incredibly distracting. She had an expression of intense concentration etched into her soft features. Her eyebrows were knit together, creasing her pale forehead. She absentmindedly bit down on the right corner of her lip, only relenting to let a giggle escape every now and then. Robin hadn’t even noticed how he’d been staring, mouth hanging slightly open, until Starfire floated over to his side, dipping her rag in the bucket of soapy water. “Is something the matter, Robin? I am doing this wrong, perhaps?”
“No, no, you’re doing fine,” he hastily reassured her.
“Oh,” she looked down at the rag in her hands, “I am sorry to have disturbed you, then; I merely came for more soap.” She let out a barely noticeable sigh, shaking her head as though trying to clear her thoughts as she placed the rag in the warm water. Suddenly, her face lit up as she brought her cupped hands out of the water. “Bubbles!” She exclaimed joyously, blowing into the soap suds. Unlike the bubbles she was familiar with the suds exploded into the air, landing haphazardly on a shocked Robin. Starfire giggled at the Titans’ leader, his jet black hair dusted with snow white suds that dripped sticky remnants down his face. “Um . . . oops?” she borrowed her favorite phrase of Beast Boy’s. But despite her feigned apology, Starfire was having a difficult time restraining her laughter. “Forgive me Robin, but you look so amusing.”
When Robin didn’t respond, Starfire dropped her eyes to the ground, peering demurely through her lashes with innocent concern. “I truly am sorry, Robin. Please do not be angry with me.”
“Starfire?” Robin gingerly touched his head, scraping the bubbles from his hair.
“Yes?” She looked up, eager for forgiveness.
“Head’s up,” he pulled his arm back and let the bubbles fly. Starfire looked to the sky as the bubbles made an impressive arch before landing on her forehead. It was Robin’s turn to laugh as the Tameranian Princess stared, wide-eyed, while mild shock flitted across her delicate features. Before Robin could even think of something sensible to say, a malicious grin had replaced Starfire’s previous open-mouthed surprise. Her hands were fumbling behind her back, but for what, Robin could only imagine.
“Robin,” she smiled sweetly at him, “I believe it is your turn to lift your head.” She dramatically brandished the hose in front of her, the nozzle pointing, gun-like, at his chest.
His eyes widened behind his mask. “Starfire you wouldn’t- ” he was cut off as the stream of water hit his chest, spraying up into his face. “Dare.” He shook the water droplets from his face, his usually spiked hair damply clinging to his forehead. “Hey Star?”
“This means war.” Robin flung a soap soaked rag at Starfire who let out a squeal as it slipped down over her bare midriff. She giggled in delight and reached into the bucket, splashing Robin as he neared her. As Robin wiped the suds from his eyes Starfire pulled back, finger brushing the ground behind her, and grasped for the hose.
But Robin, realizing her motive, was too fast for Starfire. Before she had time to aim the hose Robin had hefted the bucket into the air and upended the contents over Starfire’s unsuspecting head. She gasped and spluttered as the water seeped into her clothing, trickling over her skin. Fingers finally curling around the hose, Starfire whipped it in front of her and pulled hard on the trigger. A jet of water curled in the air, raining down on the two Titans.
Robin tried hard to ignore how Starfire’s already tight uniform clung to her every curve as she twirled under the cascading water, strands of flaming hair plastered in alluring curls to her forehead. Involuntarily, Robin felt himself inching forward, closing the distance between himself and Starfire. Still laughing at their game, Starfire teasingly danced out of the way, only for her foot to slip in one of the many puddles of soapy water. Gasping, Starfire flailed her arms wildly as she tried to maintain her balance. She felt herself falling backwards and she braced herself for impact against the concrete – an impact that never came. Instead, Starfire felt two strong arms wrap securely around her stomach, breaking her fall, and her head snapped back against a broad chest.
“Are you all right?” Robin whispered.
Starfire nodded as she found her footing, and she turned in Robin’s arms so that she could face her savior. “I am fine, Robin. Thank you.”
“It was nothing,” Robin murmured, but he didn’t let go. Instead, his hands slid down to her waist, fingers playing lightly along her damp skin.
Starfire inhaled sharply, “I believe you are v-victorious?” The words were barely audible as they fled her quivering lips.
“Yeah,” he smiled, pulling her towards him, “I guess I am.”
END! Okay. VOTE!!!