“Could I share a room with you, friend Raven?”
The day had been long. Extra long. The Titans had gotten into a scrap with something called Exterminator, or Exhaultor, or Ex-something, and it had taken nearly all afternoon to deal with. Then, Mad Mod had shown up, which meant time travel headaches. So, by the time everyone got back to Titan’s Tower, nobody was really up for hanging out. Raven, in particular, wanted nothing more than to sleep.
But then, Starfire had stopped at Raven’s door, rather than continuing to her own room.
“What,” Raven said, squinting in frustration at the taller girl.
“I have had… difficulties sleeping lately. After battle,” Starfire admitted. “I was hoping that similar to when I was a child, shared company might...” She glanced away, spinning hair on the end of her finger.
A small part of Raven registered that something in this situation was not quite right. Starfire wasn’t being very Starfire, and Raven should have asked why. But Raven was very tired and she just. Wanted. Sleep.
“Fine,” Raven said, admitting her into her room. “I don’t know how comfortable you’ll be on the floor, but it’s all yours.”
“Thank you, friend Raven! I am most grateful for your aid!”
Raven changed into her sleepwear, then helped Starfire set up a comforter and pillow next to the bed. They traded “goodnights,” and Raven waited for exhaustion to override her latest bout of insomnia.
As usual, it took a while. When Raven heard snoring, she glanced over the edge of her bed and saw that Starfire was out like a light..
Raven sighed, rolling back into her sheets.
Is this weird? she thought, focusing on the oddly hypnotic rhythm of Starfire’s snoozing. I know we’re both from different planets and cultures, but this feels a little weird. Maybe it’s me.
To Raven’s surprise, the snoring was surprisingly soothing as she finally started to ease into sleep.
No, it’s kind of weird. She yawned, her eyelids drooping. I’ll have to talk with her about it… in… the morning...
Raven never got a chance. The Titans burst out of bed to deal with back-to-back emergencies that ran them thoroughly into the ground. So, when Starfire showed up, again, the next night, Raven just let her in. And the night after that. And the night after that.
After the fourth night, Raven decided that the situation had officially gotten a little weird, but it seemed that she had already passed the point where she could turn Starfire away. Starfire was a friend, even if she was behaving oddly. And as a friend, Raven couldn’t throw her out. She could, however, deal with the uneven sleeping arrangements.
“Look, let’s- you can’t keep sleeping on the floor, if this is going to be a thing,” Raven pointed out.
Starfire cocked her head. Raven thought she looked a little silly- nested in a bright, purple-pink comforter on the floor and wearing her pink PJs, patterned with little white bunnies.
“I do not understand,” Starfire replied.
“Let me see if Cyborg has a cot you can borrow, okay? You’re making me feel guilty.”
Cyborg did have a cot, but it squeaked every time Starfire even breathed, which didn’t help either of them sleep.
The next night, Raven oiled the cot, and both girls sank into blissful slumber. But, the next morning Raven banged into the cot, and tripped over Starfire as she got out of bed.
“Are you alright?” Starfire asked, as she leaned over the edge of the cot to peer at the undignified heap of a faceplant that was Raven.
“We’re moving the cot,” Raven growled into the floor.
The next night, they moved the cot along the foot of Raven’s bed, and both girls sank into blissful slumber, again. But, in the middle of the night, Starfire stole Raven’s comforter leaving the other girl to wake, freezing.
Once Raven recovered her blanket from a freshly woken Starfire, Starfire sat meekly on her cot, looking nervous. Raven studied her like a high level spell.
“Okay,” Raven said, rubbing at the bags under her eyes. “Do you plan on sleeping here tomorrow night?” Sweet Azaroth, she just wanted one full freaking night of sleep .
“Yes, if it is-”
“Yes, it’s fine, Star! We’ve been over this!” Raven snapped. Starfire cringed, slightly. Raven sighed. “I’m sorry. It’s just…” And it came to her.
They’d shared sleeping space on missions, before. Starfire’s cot was already right against the bed. Maybe. Just… maybe...
Raven sighed, again, and pulled Starfire’s comforter up onto the bed.
“Raven, what are you doing? I do not-”
“You’re coming up here,” Raven said, simply. “The cot’s not working out and I can’t leave you on the floor, so we’re doing this.”
Starfire smiled brightly.
“But this isn’t permanent,” Raven said, shooting Starfire an even look. “We’re just… doing this until whatever’s going on with you is resolved, okay?”
Starfire nodded. “Okay,” she said, floating up onto one side of the bed.
“And stay on your side, alright? I have enough problems sleeping. Being touched just makes it worse.”
“I will strive to honor this request,” Starfire replied.
Despite the assurance, Starfire’s arm was draped across Raven’s chest before an hour passed. Raven was going to shout Starfire awake, until she saw the other girl’s serene expression.
Raven paused. She’d seen Starfire asleep on the floor, and in the cot. She slept restlessly, with a furrowed brow. During the day, she never looked fully rested, for all that she spent enough hours in bed. But, now… she looked relaxed.
Raven remembered when she had finally relaxed. It was a week after she’d banished her father, Trigon, and she realized she wasn’t Apocalypse Girl any more.
She’d been in the commons room, and Beast Boy had gotten on her nerves. Again.
“Get it?” he teased.
Raven glared at him, annoyance burning in her gut. She stood up, marking her place in her book.
Go to your room, meditate this away. Don’t let it get away, don’t let- Don’t let what? Raven halted mid-motion, which made Beast Boy squint at her.
She didn’t need to meditate her annoyance away. Father- Trigon was defeated. She wasn’t a portal for his power any more. She wasn’t the Apocalypse Girl. Sure, her powers were still tied to her emotions, but…
She arched an eyebrow at Beast Boy, and then slapped him upside the head.
“Ow!” he shrieked, rubbing the spot quickly. “Guess you didn’t-”
Then, she hugged him. “Thank you,” she said.
“Uh… I’m confused,” Beast Boy said.
“It’s okay,” Raven said, smirking at him. “I’m annoyed. And that’s okay too.”
Then she patted him on the shoulder and floated back to her room. She hadn’t meditated after the incident, just let her annoyance fade away as she read the rest of her book.
Recalling her own ease, and the content expression she’d seen in the mirror, could Raven deny Starfire her own hard-found peace?
With a resigned sigh, she left Starfire’s arm where it was and closed her eyes. So used to waiting out her insomnia, Raven didn’t notice how quickly she fell asleep, nor when Starfire moved in the night to pull her closer.
Raven didn’t really let herself think about what was going on with Starfire until a few weeks later, when she remembered to return the cot to Cyborg.
“So, Star’s done crashing in your place, huh?” he said, taking it back.
“No, she’s still with me,” Raven replied.
“Whoa,” Cyborg said, cot dangling in his hand. “She’s on the floor again?”
“No, she’s…” Raven coughed, suddenly aware of what she was about to say. “We share a bed.” She rushed to add, “She stays on her side. Mostly.”
“Uh. Huh,” Cyborg replied. “And that’s not… weird? For you?”
Raven made a face. “I don’t really know any more. It just kind of happened.”
Cyborg shrugged, shoving the cot into its storage space. “Well, as long as y’all are cool with it, it’s cool with us.” He smirked as he turned back to Raven. “I won’t tell Beast Boy.”
“I appreciate that.”
As she left Cyborg’s shop, Raven realized two things: 1) the statute for asking Starfire about this had really, really lapsed, so 2) she needed a Starfire expert.
That night, Raven waited until Starfire had completely nodded off, then slipped out of bed. She moved a pillow in reach of Starfire’s midnight-cuddling habit, then floated noiselessly out of her room.
She found Robin in the commons room with his cape draped over the back of a chair. He was sitting at a personal computer, talking with someone on the other end.
He looked up from the screen.
Raven caught a glimpse of a Bumblebee from Titans East on the screen. She smiled and waved at Raven. Raven waved back.
Robin turned back to the screen. “I’ll get back to you, Robin out.”
Bumblebee mock saluted, and the screen went blank.
“Hey Raven. What’s up?” he said, turning fully around in his chair.
She floated to a nearby chair, where she sat, cross-legged.
“Do you mind if I ask you something?” she asked.
“Sure,” he replied.
“It’s kind of personal.”
“Okay,” he said, shoulders visibly tensing.
“What happened between you and Starfire?”
He went still, save for his eyes widening slightly behind the mask. “Wow, uh. Yeah. That’s personal, alright,” Robin said.
“Look, normally, I’d stay out of it. What happened to you two after Tokyo is your business. But she’s... kind of staying in my room.” Raven skirted the fact that Starfire was also staying in her bed. This conversation was already awkward enough.
Robin blinked. “Oh.”
His gaze slid sideways as he thought. She knew not to rush him. The Boy Wonder tended to fight when he felt cornered, either literally or figuratively. After a few moments, he nodded and looked back at Raven.
“So, yes, after Tokyo, things between us were good. We were on a very positive slope. But after a few weeks, it was clear she wanted something I couldn’t give: my secret identity.”
“Initially, that wasn’t an issue. We were a good team. We… cared for each other. It was helpful. But after Tokyo…” He leaned back, arms crossed, gaze sad and a touch nostalgic. “Look, we’re teammates and I consider you guys my family on a lot of levels, but… I still need to keep a bit back. The mask for one.” He tapped it. “Stays on. All the time.”
“You know, we could probably work it out, if we wanted to,” Raven said, Spock eyebrow in full effect.
“You say that now...” Robin smirked. His expression cooled after a moment. “But, yeah. Starfire wanted to know my true identity. I wasn’t prepared to cross that line.”
He sighed. “That decision... I really hurt her,” he said, shoulders hunching slightly, his voice a touch raw. He shook his head, straightening up. “So, we decided to call it off and put some distance between ourselves.”
Raven nodded. Even Beast Boy had noticed the tension thrumming between the two. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to affect the team in action, or if all the Titans were in the same room together. But if any one of the Titans were caught in the same room as Robin and Starfire- the awkward vibe was memorable.
“And then she ended up in my room,” Raven said.
Robin shrugged. “That’s between you two. I can’t give her what she needs. If she finds that with you...” A small, but sincere smile blossomed on his face. “Well, then I’m happy for her.”
It was Raven’s turn to blink at him. “What?”
“Look, I’m not gonna be a jerk or anything. I’m already the reason we broke up. You two have seemed closer lately. Kind of like how she and I were... Um. Ahem.” The boy detective had the grace to look away.
“So what? I’m her rebound cuddle?” Raven asked, more confusion than hurt in her voice.
“I don’t think it works that way for her. Look, she’ll tell you, and I can assure you, she will tell you when she’s worked it out. For now, I think she just needs a friend.”
“She couldn’t be friendly with Silkie?”
“You ever own a dog? Or… alien caterpillar thing?”
“Then trust me, having a pet is nice. Having a person is way better,” Robin said, smiling.
He rose, starting to do up his collar. Swirling the cape, he attached it, then offered a hand to Raven. Gentlemanly, calm, totally-did-not-just-talk-about-his-ex: Robin, the Boy Wonder.
“That help?” he asked, as he assisted her out of her chair.
“Um, yeah,” she said, unsure of exactly how it helped.
Another day, another bad guy off to jail.
Maybe I could figure out this whole Starfire thing if we had five minutes of actual downtime, Raven thought, as the team returned to Titans Tower. I’ll see if I can meditate on what Robin and I talked about. I just need to find my center and-
“You were most impressive!” Starfire declared, knocking Raven’s thoughts over.
“It was just a fight,” Raven said, pulling back her hood.
“But, what a battle! Neither Cyborg nor I could break through his defense. You are a truly gifted warrior, Raven.” Starfire was practically beaming as she wrapped herself affectionately around Raven’s arm.
Against her better judgment, Raven blushed. But only slightly.
“I’m just doing my part,” she replied, turning down the hallway that led to her and Starfire’s rooms. She looked back at Starfire. “I mean really you-”
That’s when Starfire kissed her. On the lips!
Before she could fully register what was happening, Starfire pulled away and unwrapped herself from around Raven’s arm. She smiled a shy little Starfire smile, which only distantly registered with Raven. Raven’s thought processes were still very much hung up on Starfire kissing her. On the lips!
“Uh...” Raven said, intelligently.
“A… gift,” Starfire said, her voice softer. “For doing your part. If you wish to think it that.”
She then turned on her bright, purple boot and flew down the hall, to her own room, for a change. Which was just as well, because Raven was having trouble with English at the moment.
Raven remained rooted in the middle of the hallway, staring after Starfire, until the boys caught up with her. Cyborg leaned around, waving a hand in front of Raven’s face. She blinked.
“What?” she asked.
“Starfire?” Cyborg replied, smiling.
“Uh, yeah,” Raven said, trying to get her head back on straight.
Cyborg nodded sagely. “She tried to get me to sing her post-battle victory song, once, too. I felt the same way.”
Somehow, Raven thought. I doubt that.
Despite rushing off after… the kiss, Starfire didn’t seem hesitant about returning to Raven’s room that night. As Starfire once again rested against Raven’s shoulder, snoring softly, Raven decided she needed more outside help than Robin had been able to provide.
Slipping out of bed, she once again slid the pillow into Starfire’s arms. Opening a portal to her Realm, the in-between place where she drew upon her strongest magics, she slipped into it and came back out dressed in her uniform.
She checked Starfire one more time, pulling the comforter up, making sure Starfire was holding the pillow… Raven shook her head. She was stalling.
Once again entering her Realm, she focused on who she needed to talk to, and felt the usual rush of dark energy as she teleported.
The local Starfire expert hadn’t yielded the answers she needed. And the… kiss changed things. She didn’t know how to talk about this with Cyborg or Beast Boy. Especially Beast Boy. And while some of the girls in the other Titan teams might be able to offer insight, Raven was a founding Titan. That made her more of a leader than a teammate in a lot of their eyes.
So, she opted to go outside her usual circle of superhero acquaintances. Robin may be reluctant to speak to the senior heroes, but Raven didn’t share his reticence.