Pretty – RobStar Week 2021
By Skywing Knights // December 30, 2021
Alright, admit it, you thought it was going to be a one and done type thing from me when it came to RobStar Week. Didn’t you?
But nope! I told you I live – you should trust me more! Alright, alright, all joking aside, I come bearing another gift. Kind of. A new one-shot story for RobStar Week 2021. The Day 3 prompt of “Snowfall” inspired this one. (Yes, I skipped Day 2 and I’ll explain a bit as to why below. Mostly I just couldn’t think of anything I liked for the prompt sadly.) :'(
Overall though, I rather liked this exercise, so I hope you all enjoy the piece too!
“Is it not just so pretty?”
He wasn’t sure why those words of hers echoed in his mind as the cold rushed into him like an injection straight into his veins.
Gotta keep going though.
She was right there…
If only ‘there’ wasn’t so much farther away then he meant for it to be.
When I initially read the prompt for Day 2, which was “Shimmer/Shine”, I honestly was stumped and was kinda annoyed about it. (I was annoyed at myself for being stumped, not at the prompt, mind you). It felt like a freebie (and in a good way!) because considering it’s Robin and STARfire we’re talking about, there’s so much you can do with “Shimmer/Shine”.
So the fact that I was drawing a blank was frustrating. Looking back, I think I was just stuck because all I could think of were cliche ideas, which I wanted to avoid. While I am a total sap for cute cliches when it comes to what I read, I don’t think when I write them that I stretch myself enough. And with limited time to write these days, I wanted what I write to do that for me, particularly with one-shots. Oh writers block though, how thou plaguest me so… (Ironically I have ideas for the prompt NOW but I digress…)
So I passed on Day 2 and moved onto Day 3, which was “Snowfall”… Did I ever mention I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold? Elsa I am NOT, even though I lived in the upper mid-west for a few years. And I can drive in snow. And I can trek to work in snow. But I don’t particularly like dealing with snow. I like the first snowfall and the fun to be had when that occurs, but not when it piles up and becomes icebergs in parking lots. So it would figure Day 3 would be about something that I personally didn’t always find ‘charming’… And that’s when it hit me how to approach the story – starting it from an angle of after the initial snowfall, where the world is just kind of a dirty grey.
From there, I think a lot of the idea for this story came naturally. I thought about how in the upper mid-west it’s common to be Vitamin D deficient, so a lot of people deal with seasonal depression. I thought about Starfire’s excitement and energy in the comics, often on bright sunny days. And I thought about Robin’s observant nature, the final key to the story.
In the first day’s story “Ikebana“, I told the story primarily from Starfire’s perspective. With “Pretty”, I wanted to dive more into Robin’s. I don’t really take Robin, or Dick Grayson specifically, to be much of a ‘sap’ when it comes to romance. Don’t get me wrong, I think he CAN be once he’s comfortable with someone and they’re dating. But when he’s unsure if the feelings are being reciprocated, I think he tends to close himself off for fear of rejection or fear of disappointment. In a way, it’s a way for him to save a particular face. A face he relies on so heavily to be that ‘perfect sidekick’, ‘perfect friend’, ‘perfect leader’, or ‘perfect son’.
But being closed off does not mean he’s not alert or aware of himself or his own feelings. I think he’s VERY aware when he likes someone, especially Starfire, who brings such a warmth into his life.
And I really liked that, that contrast between warm and cold and how snow days often remind us of that. How loneliness can feel like an all encompassing ice cave whereas a relationship can feel like one is being warmed by the sun.
Alright, I’m going to go on a tangent, but I swear this connects to these thoughts. I have a few favorite words in both the English and Japanese dictionaries. In Japanese, I love the words “Kizuna”, meaning “Bond”, and “Nukumori”, meaning “Warmth”. While ‘Kizuna’ is a rather straight-forward word with a rather direct translation, ‘Nukumori’ is a little more complex. Yes, it’s ‘warmth’, but not really in the traditional sense. It’s that ‘warm’ kimochi (気持ち) (feeling) – that warm feeling that you get in your chest, the one that can come with the nostalgia of good times or the one that can come from a sense of accomplishment. But most of all, and the way I most often see it used, it really is the warmth that comes from our bonds with others. It’s those ‘kizuna’, so to speak – that emanate love.
And finally, my favorite word in the English dictionary, is that of “Glorious”. And that’s a little ironic given it is a word often used by our resident Tamaranian on the show. However, it’s my favorite because to me, it’s the best way to describe the sensation of ‘nukumori’ in English. It feels wonderful. It feels spiritual. It’s the kind of feeling, the sense of being completed in some way, which to me, is “Glorious”.
So I thought it was very appropriate to tie that in with Starfire’s character, as well as to what Robin loves most about her. There are many things, yes, that I believe he loves about her. But I’ve always thought that the reason I enjoy him with Starfire above anyone else is because she helps bring out the best in him and reminds him to enjoy the sunlight. He’s always stuck in a cave with Batman or in his room working on cases. But then she’s there and knows he’s working hard because he cares about her and so many other people. And, rather than always dragging him by the ear and forcing him, she gently invites him to experience his ‘whole’ life I think.
So why did I use the word ‘pretty’ instead of Glorious (or Kizuna or Nukumori)? (Well aside for the fact that essentially on Day 1 I used up all of my allotted Japanese references for the week?) Like I said, I wanted this to be Robin’s story. So I wanted to find a way for him to very basically say somehow what he thought of her. And for him, the use of ‘glorious’, ‘kizuna’, and ‘nukumori’ were stretches, at least in terms of a natural use.
I instead landed on ‘pretty’ for its double meaning, but also for its simple honesty. Additionally, it was a word I could see Starfire using and one that could easily be planted in Robin’s subconscious. Guys after all are often not going to use Shakespearan vocabulary with girls they’re interested in. (Hate to be the bearer of bad news, ladies). They can be like a nervous deer in the headlight in those situations. And while I think Robin obviously would have more composure than a deer (this is his best friend after all), I did think he could still be flustered, and so a simple word would be easier for his brain to latch onto and focus on.
Of course the me from 2011 when I wrote a screenplay entitled “Pretty” for film school was throwing tables at the side of my brain yelling ‘NO REPEAT TITLES’ as I typed out the title for this. But I mostly just tried to blink my eyes, avoid eye contact with that past self of mine, and use my imaginary fists to knock that side of me off to kingdom come to avoid facing that OCD part of myself. (And ha! Kingdom Come. That’s a reference, haha. Bring in Nightstar already DC! Jon and Damian need a new friend! My brain is definitely shoulder deep into that side of the DC fandom at the moment. Goodness those reading “Defying Destiny” must be hoping no new fanfic ideas arise for those three to keep me from working on my primary multi-chapter story at the moment…).
In any case, those are my thoughts on “Pretty” and how the idea for the story came to be. As always, I want to thank robxstar on tumblr for planning the week long celebration for my original, always and forever OTP. I love going back to these two and these prompts, even if I can’t produce something for all of them, are a great way to be reminded of not only why I love Robin and Starfire together, but why I believe in the power of love.
Till next time. Happy reading and much love!
~Skywing / Rena