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Life in the Tower

Chapter Text

Awkward

The smell of Dick’s body spray wafts down the hallway.  It’s 3pm. Weird time for a shower, but maybe that indicates a post-training, clean-and-slightly-wet Grayson. Kory’s interest is piqued. She finds his door ajar.

“Di-ick,” she sing-songs, peeling open the door with a cheeky smile. What she finds however is not Dick.

“Gar?” she asks, confused. The green-haired teen jumps back from the mirror on the dresser.

“Uhm…it’s not what it looks like?” he peeps, his body hunching in an effort to become smaller, and possibly, invisible.

“Ok, because it looks like you’re using Dick’s body spray.” Kory doesn’t know what to do with this information other than to laugh incredulously.  “Gar, what?”

Gar’s mouths opens, but no sound comes out. His eyebrows knit together. Taking a longer look at him, Kory realizes that he’s wearing a slightly more dressy get-up than his usual skinny jeans and T-shirt look.

“You going somewhere, Garfield?” she asks. “With who?”

Gar laughs uncomfortably. “Can we just pretend that this didn’t happen?”

“Sure,” says Kory. Gar exhales gratefully and starts to move for the door when Kory’s arm blocks his path. “Who with?”

Gar’s head rolls back and he closes his eyes. “I met a girl at the coffee place downstairs, ok?”

“Okay,” says Kory lowering her arm, “have fun, be back for training.”

“Thanks,” mutters Gar speed walking back to his room.

“Wear protection!” she yells after him. Gar let’s out a high-pitched groan and runs the rest of the way slamming his door behind him. Kory chuckles.

She finds the bottle of body spray on its side against the mirror and rights it, the masculine piney smell drifting up to her. She spritzes a little on her wrist and caps the bottle.

*

Homework

Kory leans on the edge of the couch watching the light trails of cars below. She wraps her fingers around a mug of chamomile tea, leaching the last of its warmth into her hands. This is her favorite time of day. All the kids are in their rooms sleeping or at least being quiet. She wishes she could see the stars, but the San Francisco is too bright. The traffic is stimulating enough from up here, she thinks. A Tamaranean travel ballad pops into her head and she begins to hum it to herself.

“Kory?” asks a quiet voice from behind her. She leans into the couch as she turns. The lowlights from the kitchen cast a blue glow over Gar’s tired face.

“What’s up, Gar?” He shuffles over to her with a battered notebook and his laptop.

“Dick is making us learn math,” says Gar crinkling his nose.

“Okay,” says Kory trying not to laugh at his delivery. “Math’s a universal constant, I guess. What can I help with?”

“Does Tamaran have statistics?” he grumbles falling into the couch.

“Yeah,” she laughs taking the notebook from Gar. Gar presses his hands into face and sinks into the couch explaining what he understood about the lesson.

“And then, it’s just, gobbledygook,” he complains.

“I don’t know what gobbled-whatever is but all you need to do to understand this is to use real-world examples.” Kory starts drawing a pathetically juvenile series of pictures to explain the vocabulary and concepts that Gar doesn’t understand.

Gar laughs at Kory’s squiggles, but becomes less irritable about the actual statistics. It takes a solid hour and a half before Gar can explain the lesson back to Kory, but at the end, he’s got it.

“How did you make this make sense?” he laughs triumphantly. “You’re the best!” he cheeps, mashing Kory into a side hug. She chuckles and pats his shoulder.

“Okay I’m gonna get some sleep, he’s got us training at 5am,” says Gar. He and Kory exchange a look that says, “that guy, am I right?”

“’Night, Gar.”

“Goodnight, Kory,” he says bouncing away.

*

Shopping

Kory gasps and giggles merrily. “Yes! Excellent!” she claps.

Rachel’s eyebrows raise and she turns to Kory, the straw of the strawberry banana smoothie still in her mouth. “Are we looking at the same outfit?”

Gar extends his arms making the tassels winding across the shoulders swing.  

“I don’t know you guys, I’m kinda feelin’ it,” he beams. “It reminds me of a creamsicle,” he says admiring the orange shirt.

Rachel shakes her head. “Try this one,” she says handing him a significantly darker set of clothes. Gar disappears into the dressing room. Kory bends toward Rachel and slurps a mouthful of her sugary mall smoothie.  She likes wasting time at the mall with Rachel and Gar. They’re much more fun to shop with than Dick. Gar comes out in black skinny jeans and a large black sweater with ripples of white circles emanating from the armpits.

“I don’t hate this,” says Gar looking at himself in the mirror. “But it’s a little-“

“Dark,” Kory finishes, “Gar needs some color.”

“He’s got green hair,” protests Rachel. Kory chuckles.

“Next outfit!” demands Kory throwing a yellow sweatshirt and button-up with a jewel encrusted collar at Gar.

Kory would never admit it in front of the other kids, but Gar is her favorite. He’s almost always smiling. He’s always game for silliness, and unlike most of the other kids, he enjoys a pop of color just as much as Kory. Also, very importantly, he never insists that Kory change the station from 70s Classics. Best child.

Gar comes out. Kory and Rachel look at one another. He puts up his pointer finger and pulls out a pair of circular sunglasses with holographic lens. His big yellow sweatshirt reads ‘Player 1’ in bold sky blue letters. The disco-jeweled black collar of the button up peeks out and all the reflective surfaces sparkle under the fluorescent lights.

Kory blows a chef’s kiss. Best. Child.

Dick comes around the corner, “Hey! I finally found you guys. No one was answering text. Gar…what?” Everyone looks at Dick like he an interloper.

“Dick can we have these?” asks Kory with a sweet face, motioning at Gar’s outfit.

*

Mom

“Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?” ask Gar coming around the corner, seeing Kory pulling pans onto the counter. She looks at him and his brain replays the words that just exited his mouth. “What? You’re not my mom. That was weird. Hahahaha. Ok I’m leaving,” he says booking it.

Kory giggles.

Chapter Text

Chores

“I don’t want to go,” she says, punctuating each word. She’s wrapped in a fuzzy lilac blanket, back-down on the couch, Real Housewives of Gotham buzzing in the background.

“Kory,” says Dick looking down at her with crossed arms.

“I’m tired,” she mewls rolling away from him into the cushions.

“Unbelievable,” he mutters walking to the fridge. He opens the vegetable crisper and looks back at her. He pulls out the last mango and begins slicing open methodically.

“What are you doing,” she says goffering her head up over the couch back when she hears the thumb of the cutting board.

“Nothing,” he says pointedly scooping a thick, perfectly ripened chunk of mango into his mouth.

Kory gasps, “did you…just…?” She springs up from the couch. “You know I was saving that.”

“Guess we have to go to the store now, huh,” he says holding his ground until she rounds the couch and then running to the other edge of the kitchen island.  Dick narrowly dodges a fluffy house slipper.

-

“I’m sorry,” he says, hands at 10 and 2. “But you know I don’t like going on the weekend. It’s impossible to find parking.”

Kory turns the radio up until the windows shutter as the bass hits. Dick turns it back down. Kory clicks away at her phone.

“Who’re you texting?” he says leaning toward her and glancing at her phone. Kory pulls it to her chest but not before he can see the line of eyeroll emojis Kory just sent to Donna. Dick looks at Kory in her pink sweatpants and leopard print hair wrap. 

“Watch the road,” she says looking out the window.

“I’ve been driving since I was like 14,” huffs Dick. “Hey,” he smiles, “have I told you about the first time I drove the Porsche?”

“Yes.”

Dick awkwardly drums on the wheel.  

-

Kory leans dramatically into the bar of the shopping cart as Dick throws bag after bag of granola, dried fruit, nuts, and cereal into the cart.

“You’re just not going to talk to me for the rest of the day?” he asks dropping a double bundle of kale into the cart.

“I thought you believed in justice,” she says looking at him through her long eyelashes, “turns out you’re just a mango thief.” Dick laughs, pulling the cart toward him.

“No, this shopping cart is holding me up,” she whines, clinging to the cart. “Diiiick.”

“Why are you so tried today?” he asks continuing to clean out the vegetable section.

“Maybe because someone snored all night.”

“Oh yeah?” he says, bags of apples in hand. “It has nothing to do with you binge watching the last season of Scandal?”

Kory kisses out her lips like she’s thinking. “I don’t think so,” she answers.

“Do you wanna get more mangoes while we’re here?” he asks with a smirk.

“Are you going to use them to blackmail me into doing more chores?” she quips examining a mango. Dick pins Kory to the fruit stand, wrapping arms around her.

“I could use other methods of persuasion,” he offers. Kory smiles.

*

Training

Dick pushes the kids hard: hand to hand, blindfolded, one-handed, with weapons, all against one, everyone for themselves, in teams. It’s endless.

Kory knows it’s endless because, not only does she spar with them, it’s literally all Dick talks about. First thing in the morning, “Hey Kory, I think today we should do teams again. I didn’t like the lack of synergy between Rose and Conner,” or “Kory, the bamboo staffs came in the mail today!”

And then there’s the kids. “It’s too early! Do we have to? Ow, goddammit, I’m still bruised there.”

They’re working on building a room that will allow Rachel, Conner, and her to practice their power sets without demolishing the building, but until then it’s boring old fisticuffs. Kory sighs.

It’s early. Dick is in front of the bed stepping through a fight routine he’s tailored for a couple of days. He’s been so secretive about it, that instead of practicing in the training room, Kory’s been watching him work it out from their bed.

“You are so crazy,” she says twiddling her ring and following him around the room with her gaze.

“Evil never sleeps, Kory,” he mocks transitioning a series of slow-motion punches into a graceful spin kick.

“This is really how you have fun, isn’t it, Grayson?” He flashes her the prized Boy Wonder smile. Kory rolls out of bed and heads for the door. Dick bounds out after her.

“Breakfast?” he asks enthusiastically. He’s cute.

-

Kory can’t help it. The potential for schadenfreude is too strong. She waits outside the training room until he’s given his big “training is important, I’ve put together new moves” speech. Kory’s watched the sequence enough to know how many counts it takes to get to the spin kick where Dick will be easiest to knock off balance. She bites back a laugh and wait four more counts. Then she tumbles in trips Dick and runs out.

“WHY?!” he yells from his hands and knees on the floor.

Kory cackles and as she sprints down the hall, breathless as she reaches the elevator. The chorus of hooting and screaming from the kids echoes behind her.

Chapter Text

Dinner 1

“So are we allowed to call you, Mom?” asks Conner casually over dinner. Kory’s eyes widen. “I heard, Gar call you that,” he explains.

Gar is choking on his vegan eggplant lasagna. Dick is so startled that he drops his fork. Connor looks around trying to understand the gape-mouthed faces staring at him.

“Is that a bad question?” he asks. Kory puts a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“You can just call me, Kory,” she smiles. These kids tickle her pink.

*

Out on the Town

It’s more like Krypto is taking them for a walk, but Kory needs the fresh air and the sun’s out.

“You ready to go?”

“Yes,” says Conner perfectly upright and cordial. Kory chuckles, Conner’s so cute. The two of them stroll around the neighborhood, both of them taking particular interest in people watching. They spot some elderly people in the park doing taichi. Kory sits on a bench as Conner runs up to them and is graciously allowed to join. They catch a group of little kids at a game of double dutch—Conner has to join that too. He spends most of the next fifteen minutes tangled in jump ropes. When he’s finally too frustrated to continue he drags himself back to Kory and Krypto.

“I’m hungry,” he sighs, big wibbly puppy eyes imploring Kory to please feed him. Kory chuckles and stretches off the bench, sliding her phone into her pocket.

“Let’s find you some food,” she smiles. Winding their way back through the park, Kory, Krypto and Conner all smell it at once: a drifting, meaty aroma. Conner turns to Kory with a huge smile and points at the cart.

“I would like that,” he says. Kory shrugs and the three of them walk over to the hot dog cart. Kory orders Conner two hotdogs and watches them disappear immediately.

“Would you like one as well,” the vendor asks Kory. She shrugs, not one to pass up new food. When she takes a bite of the pinky-brown meat in its spongey basket she’s surprised at how much she likes it.

Between Conner and Kory, the hotdog carnage is severe. The hotdog vendor however, seems never to have been happier.

*

Dinner 2

Pizza boxes pile across the table like a mountain range.  The kids are sucking down pizza like they haven’t been fed in weeks. Granted, thinks Kory, Dick’s healthy, sustainable, plant-based diet isn’t always the most appetizing. Gar laments for the hundredth time that there isn’t anything noteworthy playing at the movie theaters. He gives another rant about his feeling on re-makes. Rose casually invites everyone to her dance recital. Everyone but Jason is shocked that 1.) she’s taking a dance class, and 2.) that they’d be invited to her recital. Kory, for one, cannot wait to sit in the front row and record every pop, lock, and drop Rose has to offer. She marks it in the Google Calendar Dick set up for her. There’s a lull in the conversation as everyone starts to get food fatigue.

“Can I be invited to spar with you guys at night,” asks Conner patting Krypto, moon-faced and innocent.

“The training room is always open Conner. Anytime you want to spar, you should feel free to, any of us would be happy to have you,” says Dick looking around the table trying to figure out who made Conner feel like he couldn’t spar with them.

“No I mean,” Conner’s brows knit together. He’s blinking softly with his long eyelashes. “When you guys spar in your rooms.”

Dick is perplexed. He looks to Kory who starts to say something when Conner continues.

“Sometimes it’s late and Krypto and I can’t sleep, and I hear you and Kory or Rose and Jason sparring, but then when I knock--”

“Woah woah woah woah woah!” shouts Jason putting his hands up.

Gar drops his pizza in disgust. “Yeah, I’m done.”

“Me too,” sighs Rachel pushes her chair from the table. Kory doesn’t even see Rose leave, but looking up, she’s nowhere to be found. Kory chuckles and takes a gulp of her grape soda. She leans over to Conner, calmly placing her hand on his.

“That’s not sparring, honey, that’s sex,” she says.

“Kory!” Dick wheezes.

“Oh my God,” says Jason laugh-crying. The red rises to Conner’s face like a thermometer.

Chapter Text

Laundry

“Did you even pack street clothes?” asks Kory spinning in to face Jason in the surveillance van.

“No, what’s the point? When we find this guy up we can jump out and kick the shit out of him. No need to Superman it in a phone booth.”

“When was the last time you washed that thing?” she asks wrinkling her nose. Jason makes a face.

“What am I gonna do send it to the dry cleaners?” he mocks. So never, thinks Kory, he’s never washed it. Kory rolls her eyes.

“Jason you reek and I am not sitting in this van with you for the next three hours, smelling like that.”

“Three hours?! What the fuck! Dick said that we were patrolling.”

“No,” corrects Kory, “Dick said you were helping me catch Toy Master.” Jason crosses his arms and sits back with a huff.

“Toy Master?”

“I didn’t name him,” says Kory pulling a jelly-filled donut from the pink box.

“So he’s just in there,” says Jason pointing at the warehouse across the street, “and we’re waiting for him to come out?”

“We’re ‘keeping a low profile’,” Kory mimics. Her Dick impression needs work, but Jason gets it.

“So…we could just go in there, bag him, and go home?” asks Jason. Kory sighs.

“We could be back in time for Real Housewives of Gotham,” Jason says with a devious smile. Kory turns to him mechanically, placing the half-eaten donut back in the box. Her eyes twinkle.

“We’d have to watch it in the Tower lobby, otherwise he’d know,” she says slowly.

Jason kicks open the van door and the two of them run into the warehouse.

*

Safety First

“Nooo, why are we stopping!” whines Jason as Kory pulls into the parking lot of the pharmacy.

“Hush up, Jason,” snaps Kory pulling the keys out of the ignition with a jingle of heavy baubles. “This is gonna take all of five minutes.”

“I have to pee,” he complains.

“Five minutes,” Kory repeats closing the car door.

“Wait, I’m coming,” he says jumping out of the passenger seat. Jason trails Kory into the CVS, hood up, hands shoved in his pockets. Kory pulls a giant tub of protein powder from the shelf of vitamin section and then b-lines for the makeup section.

“Seriously,” grumps Jason as Kory collects various shades of purple nail polish.

“They ran out of the color I liked at my salon, and it’s not happening twice,” she says holding two, seemingly identical purples up to the light. Jason rolls his eyes. After far too long for Jason’s liking, Kory finally picks the bottle on the right. She starts to head for the counter before swerving into the ‘family planning’ aisle. Jason huffs loudly. Kory ignores him.

“Dick wanted me to remind you to ‘practice sexual safety’,” she says enunciating the last bit with complete nonchalance.

“Ughhhh,” groans Jason, “Tell Dick I’m not stupid!”

“Just pick one,” says Kory waiting patiently.

“Wait, is he paying for these?” asks Jason, suddenly interested. Kory flashes Dick’s credit card. Jason grabs several boxes.

Chapter Text

“I told you I had plans today,” she says brushing mascara onto her already long lashes. Dick huffs and falls back onto the pillows.

“Kory?” calls Gar from the hallway.

“I’m coming, Gar,” she yells back. She zips up her bright green windbreaker, and kisses Dick goodbye.

“Are you wearing that?” Dick asks peevishly.

“What’re you asking, I’m literally wearing it right now,” says Kory motioning at the jacket. Dick notices for the first time that her nails are green too. He rolls his eyes.

“What? What do you have to say, Dick Grayson?” she asks planting a hand on her cocked hip.

“Nothing,” he says, “Have a good time.”

“Don’t be jealous,” she says sticking out her tongue and walking out of the room. Dick throws a pillow after her.

-

“I like your jacket,” says Gar as he buckles into the passenger seat of the Titans SUV.

“Thank you,” smiles Kory. “Rose, are you buckled up?” Rose grunts from the backseat, texting away.

Kory’s never volunteered before, but Gar assures her that she’ll like it. She figures it’s good way to rebalance her karma after the damage she did when she first got to this planet, even if most of those men deserved it… Kory and the two kids roll into the Humane Society parking lot right on time for their 10:30 shift. Gar is already grinning; he practically jumps out of the car before Kory can park.

“We’re gonna play with some puppies,” he sings.

“Weee,” says Rose in a monotone, but Kory can tell the blue haired girl is happy to be here as well.

“C’mon!” says Gar shepherding them through the front door. “Ok, so you can leave your stuff in the lockers over here,” he says pointing to the left. “I’ll just sign us in real quick,” he says jiggling the mouse of the computer in the alcove. Rose looks around with a bored expression. This place definitely smells like animals, thinks Kory.

“Cool so, there’s a little breakroom, cantina thing that way,” chirps Gar pointing down the hallway opposite the front door, “but we’re here for animals!” He rushes ahead.

“Hi Dorris!” Gar waves as they walk down the hallway and take a right approaching the reception desk.

“Welcome back Gar,” she smiles, “You brought friends, how nice.” Kory smiles at the older, bespectacled woman behind the desk. She elbows Rose to do the same. Rose lifts a hand in weak hello and returns to the screen of her phone.

“It looks like we could use help with dogs and bunnies today,” says Dorris reading her computer screen.

“Puppies!” cheeps Gar.

“I’ll take rabbits,” says Rose.

“Have you already signed it?” Dorris asks. The three Titans nod and Dorris hands each of them a ‘volunteer’ lanyard. Rose trails away to the small animal ward as Gar and Kory swipe into the back ward where the dogs are kept. This place is a lot bigger than Kory expected. The sounds of foot traffic, cawing, barking and skittering reverberate through the halls.

Halfway down the long, red-painted hallway Gar stops and mashes his nose cartilage against an observation window. “Look at them Kory,” he says hands splayed wide on the glass. Kory steps next to him to look. The puppies are adorable. They have big wobbly eyes and pink chubby bellies. Their big, puppy paws are too big for their little puppy bodies. Awwww.

“They’re the best,” Gar mewls. “Hang in there, guys. You’ll be adopted soon!” Kory looks at Gar in his skinny jeans and red hoodie and wonders how he feels about being adopted. She hopes he knows how much they love him—how much she loves him.

“Let’s go walk some dogs,” she says ruffling his hair. Gar nods, smiling up at her, and they make their way to the next hallway.

Gar is, unsurprisingly, great at handling the dogs. He leashes a bull mastiff that Kory is pretty sure would be taller than him should it stand on its hindlegs. They have similar beasts on Tamaran, thinks Kory, but they are not kept as pets. Kory carrels two curly maned poodles. Much more pet sized, she thinks. The two of them ferry the animals into the walking area letting them run and play and soak up the fresh air. Gar seems to have a calming effect on the dogs in the yard, coaxing them apart easily when the less social animals get out of hand. They walk a number of dogs over their 3-hour shift. Kory can’t tell whether the dogs or Gar is more grateful. She smiles to herself.

She snaps Dick a number of pictures of Gar rolling around on the lawn with the dogs. “He’s one of them!” she texts.

“Excellent,” Dick responds, “I look forward to fighting alongside a green mastiff!” How’s Rose?”

“With the bunnies,” Kory replies. “Will send pic.”

Kory and Gar return the animals and the equipment to their proper wards and then tunnel through the meandering hallways until they find Rose.

At the back of the small animal play area Rose lays on her back under a pile of rabbits, laughing manically. Kory snaps a picture.

Chapter Text

Pool fun

“What’re you doin’?” asks Kory slipping into the motel room.

“Learning why men have a shorter life expectancy,” answers Rachel without looking away from the glass siding door and crunching into an apple. Intrigued Kory walks over to the window. Their motel balcony looks down on the pool where Conner is limbering up at the base of the diving board. Even from here, Kory and Rachel can hear Gar and Jason chanting “Me-ga jump! Me-ga jump!”

Conner climbs up the diving board ladder, walks to the edge of the springboard, and launches himself into the air with an audible crack. Rachel leans closer the door to look up. In the pool, the boys holler excitedly. Several long seconds later Conner cannonballs into the chlorinated water with such force that a third of the water splashes out of the pool flooding the surrounding seating area and subsequent ripples are so strong that Jason is knocked against the pool rim, while Gar is washed out of the pool altogether. There’s a pause where everything is eerily quiet and then a soaked Conner raises his arms victoriously out of the now four-foot-deep water. The three of them hoot.

Neighboring lodgers open their doors to the pool with questioning faces.

Kory turns to Rachel, “If Dick asks, I was sleeping.”

Rachel turns to her equally deadpan and shrugs. “I was watching Game of Thrones.”

Kory chuckles and squeezes Rachel’s shoulder before returning to her own room.

--

Pig Latin

“Kory, I don’t want to watch stupid Housewives of stupid Gotham again!”

“It’s a shame that I have the remote then, huh,” replies Kory.

“Ughhhh!” Rachel complains.

“Ughhh,” Kory mocks, bobbling her head exaggeratedly against the gray couch.

“Rachel, didn’t Bruce get you an iPad for Christmas? You can watch your shows on that,” says Dick chopping his way thru an entire head of romaine in the kitchen behind them.

Rachel rolls her eyes and turns to Kory, "ywhay oesntday ehay understandyay atthay atchingway TVay isyay iterallylay atwhay TVsay areyay orfay?” (Why doesn’t he understand that watching TV is literally what TVs are for?)

Kory snorts, “ecausebay ethay onlyyay owshay icksDay emotionallyyay involvedyay inyay isyay Unsolvedyay ysteriesMay” (Because the only show Dick’s emotionally involved in is Unsolved Mysteries.)

“Ew,” Rachel cackles. The two of them laugh.

“Really?” asks Dick from the kitchen, “You know I can speak 10 languages…11 if you count Kryptonian.”

“owway imyay osay impressedyay,” quips Rachel from the couch. (Wow I’m so impressed.)

“So can I,” shrugs Kory, twirling a curl around her finger.

Dick huffs. “Well, you can only do it because you kissed me, so…”

“Ew,” says Rachel again. Kory flops across the couch onto Rachel making loud kissy sounds at her. Rachel pushes her away as Kory wrestles herself nearer.

“This time on...The Real Housewives of Gotham…” chimes the TV.

“Shhh,” says Kory sitting up and dialing the volume on the TV higher, “isthay isyay ethay episodeyay erewhay aurenLay etsgay erhay ursepay olenstay andyay erhay ihuahuachay isyay illstay insideyay!” (This is the episode where Lauren gets her purse stolen and her chihuahua is still inside!)

“Gar!” Kory yells from the couch.

“Oh my God, didn’t you just shush everyone,” asks Rachel holding her ears.

“I’m not everyone,” Kory says at a normal volume, “GAR!”

“YEAH?” comes his voice from down the hallway.

“IT’S ON!”

“THE ONE WITH THE CHIHUAHUA?”

“YES!” she screams back. The hallway echoes with the hurried sound of Gar’s footsteps. Kory smirks, self-satisfied. Rachel rolls her eyes.

“Scoot,” Kory says booty bumping Rachel into the armrest.

“Gar can sit on the other one,” Rachel whines.

“Leave her alone, Kory,” sighs Dick preoccupied with mixing a vinaigrette. “She’s already letting you watch your show.”

Gar jumps over the back of the couch and wedges himself under Kory’s arm.

“You guys are crushing me!” grouses Rachel pushing against Kory. The three couched Titans wrestle around until Kory is by one armrest, legs draped over Gar and Rachel is nestled in the other. Kory’s fuzzy blanket drapes over all three.  

“Dinner’s gonna be ready in 5,” says Dick turning down the oven.

“Shhh!”, “We’re watching this!”, “Dick c’mon!” they shout back at him all at once.

Dicks rolls his eyes, “Unbelievableyay.” (Unbelievable.)

Chapter Text

Kory kicks off her shoes in the hallway, arms brimming with groceries.

“I got it,” says Conner coming through the door behind her. He easily maneuvers his own armful of groceries to the kitchen before helping Kory put hers down.

“Thanks,” says Kory absentmindedly listening to the sounds of the tower in an attempt to gauge who else is home. It’s weirdly quiet, but then that’s probably because Jason’s not home.

“Will you start to unpack the groceries, I’m gonna do a headcount for lunch,” she says as Krypto nuzzles his head under her hand.

“Sure,” replies Conner.

“Don’t eat all the fruit snacks before lunch,” Kory jokes as she plods down the corridor. Conner puts freshly opened fruit snack box down with a slow reluctance.

“You don’t actually have to fight them,” drifts Gar’s voice from the ajar door of his bedroom. “Here, lemme see… you can actually sneak around them if you move slowly and press this.”

“Oh,” comes Rachel’s quiet voice.

“I know right, you can just quietly collect ingredients for Link’s dinner and evade your destiny forever!” The two of them giggle. Kory’s generally pretty good at respecting people’s boundaries, but this is for official lunch reasons. She pokes a nose into Gar’s bedroom. He always keeps it cleaner than Kory would expect. It’s definitely cleaner than Rachel, Rose, or Jason’s rooms. Conner’s room is clean because there’s not really anything in it yet, Gar’s room is clean because he’s incredibly protective about his collectables. The thought reminds Kory to bring him the swifter duster he asked for…

“Ah! Careful, the bees will sting you!”

“What, oh my god, where do I go?” Rachel says panicked. Rachel is craned over the Nintendo Switch, thumb scrolling away from some digital danger as Gar leans over her shoulder, face lit in amusement. These two have gotten close, thinks Kory.

“Run for water,” Gar suggests, reaching his arm over hers and signaling to the right. Rachel turns toward him, and her face brushes his. There’s a long moment of stillness at the two look at each other.

Kory knocks on the door and the two jump six feet apart. She doesn’t need super hearing to hear their little heartbeats pounding.

“Yeah?” asks Gar in a preternaturally high voice.

“You guys want lunch?” asks Kory leaning into the room. She looks between them innocently when they take a moment to answer.

“Sure, whatever. Whatever’s fine,” says Rachel standing up. “I can help.” The teen hurries past Kory out of the room. Kory’s lips curl into a knowing smile and she winks at Gar before closing the door.

“Kory,” says Gar cautiously from his room.

“I have your dusters,” she smiles continuing her path back to the kitchen.

“I’m gonna take Krypto for a walk,” says Conner shoving something that looks suspiciously like a handful of fruit snack packages into his pocket. The groceries are all neatly packed away.

“OK, be good,” responds Kory, “thanks for helping with the groceries.” Conner smiles and he and Krypto jog out the door to who knows where. (Honestly, probably the park again.)

“Soooo,” says Kory. Rachel just shakes her head and throws a look. Kory starts to snicker.

“Uh huh,” teases Kory.

“What are we making for lunch?” Rachel asks a blush riding up her cheeks.

“Mmmhm,” says Kory opening the fridge, “something green?” Rachel is holding her breath.  Kory pulls out a bag of mixed greens and smiles. Rachel yanks it from her hands and throws it in a bowl.

“You know what, I can make salad without supervision.”

“Is that a euphemism,” asks Kory in faux-shock.

“Stoooop,” begs Rachel.

The door opens and both women turn to look. Dick walks through the door looking at both of them looking at him.

“Hi?” he says. Kory flashes her eyebrows at Rachel. Rachel aggressively starts to chop tomatoes.

“What’s going on?” asks Dick turning from Kory to Rachel.

“Nothing,” laughs Kory giving Dick a peck on the cheek before disappearing down the hallway to her room.

Chapter Text

Bickering

Kory leans against the kitchen counter. From here she can she over Dick’s shoulder as he scrolls through the digital case files Bats sent him. The tower’s been quiet for the last few hours: the kids left to go see a movie. Normally Kory would go as well, but Dick asked her to stay and run through some training exercises. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but she really thought that “training exercises” was innuendo for “stay home just you and me, Kory.”

And it was just the two of them…sparring for an hour on the mat. Kory clicked her nails against the granite countertop, watching the back of Dick’s head. She’d almost gotten him to play, then Bruce called. Kory taps louder. Dick isn’t bothered.

“What do you want for dinner?” she asks, breaking the silence.

“Whatever’s fine,” he says absentmindedly as he clicks open a series of tabs.

“I don’t feel like cooking. Let’s order something,” she says to Dick.

“Yeah,” he says click, click, clicking on his mousepad.

“You feelin’ anything? I’m thinking something easy--”

“Sounds fine.”

“Chinese?” she asks trying to swallow her mounting irritation.

“The good place is outside the delivery radius,” he says zooming into a grainy black and white image of a bald man.

“Ok,” she says taking a deep breath, “Well you choose then.”

“I’ll eat whatever,” he monotones. He’s pulling out his phone now punching geo-coordinates into Google Maps. “That’s not far from Gotham,” he mumbles. He hunches over his computer to scribble something onto the notepad on the coffee table. The kids have been gone the better part of the day and he’s been doing this.

“Dick.”

“You choose,” he says around the pencil that’s now in his mouth. She could really wring his thick neck.

“Pizza.”

“The kids just had pizza,” he says. She has a clear mental image of kicking the laptop off his lap and jumping on it until it explodes into a thousand silver pieces.

“Dick.”

“Anything else, please,” he replies, a hint of frustration coloring his tone.

“…Thai.” He stops clicking. Maybe Kory’s broken through!

“Eh…”

Kory takes off her slipper and tosses it at him. Dick, being the aggravating former Robin that he is, catches it without turning around.

“Kory I’m working, will you just choose something without me,” he says half-turning to glance at her via his peripheral vision.

“Chicago-style, super deep-dish, meat lover’s pizza, with anchovies and pineapple,” she says purposely picking something she knows he won’t want. She picks up her phone and puts the dial tone on speaker to give credibility to the threat.

Dick smacks his laptop shut and swings around to look at her. “Gar is vegan, and no one likes anchovies or pineapple!”

“SO YOU PICK THEN, RICHARD,” she barks barely restraining the urge to chuck her phone as well.

“Kory…I…my head is not in dinner right now,” he says by way of an apology. “Have Jason pick, he likes making decisions,” Dick says opening his laptop again.

Kory lets out a loud sigh and presses her forehead into the counter, “None of the kids are home.”

There’s a silence.

“What?” asks Dick quietly. Kory raises her eyes out of her arms and finds Dick looking at her with rapt attention. “What do you mean none of them are home?”

Kory slowly rises up to her full height before sarcastically motioning around the empty kitchen. She moves to the empty living room and motions at the emptiness with the mechanical grace of a flight attendant. She walks to the empty hallway and mimes listening to the silence.

Dick laughs bitterly. “Wow,” he says.

Kory shrugs at him like she has nothing left to give.

“Ok. Look, I’ll order us some Indian food, you can pick the movie and we can—”

“Titan’s are back bitches!!!!!” yells Jason from the elevator.

“Kory we’re back!” says Gar.

“What’s for dinner,” ask Conner and Rachel at the same time.

Kory laugh-cries.

“What’s her problem?” Rose asks.

Dick stares at the elevator like he’s been slapped. “…Indian food.”

 

Bickering II

“Kory can I show you something,” Dick calls. Kory walks into his bedroom.

“Oooh what’re you gonna show me,” she asks excitedly.

Dick looks at Kory and directs her gaze to the slightly ajar top drawer of his dresser. He pushes it closed.

“…Okay?” she responds.

“I just wanted to show you how to close it all the way. Didn’t look like you knew how to do it.”

Kory’s mouth falls open as she stares at him. “I know you didn’t just…wow…” she stammers.

She nods and walks out of the room.

“If you’re going to take my hoodies, at least close the drawers!” he calls behind her.

“Keep talking Wonder Boy!” she shouts back.

“Why are we shouting?” shouts Conner opening his door.

Dick pops his head into the hallway to look between Kory and Conner. Kory looks at Dick and mouths, “You did this,” before disappearing into the elevator.

 

Shhhhh

“What?” she asks.

“Nothing,” Dick stammers, “just I haven’t seen you smile in a while.”

“You haven’t seen me in a while,” she teases shoving his shoulder.

“I wanted to,” he confesses, finding her hand.

“Yeah?” She’s close now. At last, her scent is more than a memory.

“Yeah,” he admits. Dick is pulled into her like gravity. He waltzes them from the hallway into his room.

“I wanted to see you too,” Kory says. Dick’s kissing her. Her soft, impossibly sweet lips open for him. His blood rushes through him like a flash flood warming his ears, his fingertips, his groin. He sighs under the gentle pressure of her fingers on the back of his neck. The breaths he’s taking feel like the first ones he’s taken all day.

He kisses her again. He’s right here with her, fully in the moment. Everything seems to come into balance.

“Kory!” comes a needy voice from down the hall. Kory draws away from him slowly, her green eyes casting an apologetic gaze. He follows her to door, just behind her heels so that the smell of her hair wafts down at him. Then he can’t help it, he reaches in front of her and presses the door closed with a gentle click. He catches her in his arms as she turns, a questioning look on her brow.

“I think you’re busy right now,” he says in a low voice.

“Mmhmm.” She runs her warm palms over his chest in a way that causes the skin on his back to wake up. “What am I busy with, baby?” Baby.

If you told a younger Dick what a sucker he would be for Kory calling him “baby,” he wouldn’t have believed you. He would’ve rolled his eyes and mutter something about cheesiness.

Dick bucks Kory forward so that her back is against the door. He licks his lips and smiles. Kory smirks, wrapping her hands around his waist. As she trails them onto his butt, the voice comes again.

“KORY!!! You said you were gonna drive me to the bookstore!” It’s Rachel, and Dick loves Rachel, but Kory’s his right now.

Kory leans her head against the door, taking a deep, frustrated sigh. Dick uses the opportunity to kiss her neck. Kory lets out a soft noise that spurs Dick on.

“I know you’re home!” says Rachel from the hallway, “I just saw you.”

“Shhhhh,” Dick giggles as he continues to suck Kory’s neck. Kory muffles a pleased noise. He pulls Kory from the door. Kory kisses him. He kisses Kory. They fall onto the bed.

“Kory!” Rachel yells from right outside. She bangs on the door. Kory looks down at Dick and then at the door. Dick rolls her under him, giving her a quick kiss before pressing a finger to his lips. Kory folds her arms over her chest.

Dick glances at himself in the mirror, quickly smoothing his hair and wiping the dark lipstick off his mouth onto the back of his hand. He clears his throat and opens the door. Before he can say anything—before he can lie about where Kory is, Rachel looks him up and down.

“Oh, ewwww! C’mon… you guys are the worst,” Rachel whines looking at the smear of lipstick still on Dick’s mouth and then down at the open zipper of Dick’s pants. “Tell Kory I’ll be waiting in the car,” she says before storming off. Dick turns around to look at Kory, a little red in the face.

“That gives us like... 15 minutes right?” he asks, tousling his hair.

“Dick,” Kory laughs.

Kory,” he says crawling on top of her. “You promised you’d watch a movie with me,” he says in a mocking voice.

“mmmHMM,” she grunts.

“Kory, what’s for lunch? Where’re my shoes?” he continues. Both of them laugh. “You promised you’d spend time with me,” he says aiming at the same mocking-teen voice as before but slipping back to his own voice.

“When did I make all these promises?” she asks. Her eyes sparkling as they search his.

“I’m pretty sure I saw those on your chore list,” he smirks. Kory pinches his cheek. Dick turns his head to bite her hand.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Gar,” she laughs. She disentangles herself from him. He grumbles. “And with Rachel apparently,” she teases.

“Kory,” he implores, catching her little finger in his. She pauses, squeezing his finger in hers.  She slips off the bed, adjusting her outfit. She bends down to kiss him.

“I’ll be back in 20 minutes,” she says running her fingers thru Dick’s hair. He nods and pressed a pillow over his face. “So dramatic,” Kory jokes under her breath, sliding the keys to Dick’s Porsche into her back pocket with a jingle.

“Take the other car,” he insists from under the pillow.

“The Porsche is faster,” Kory says, a deviant smile painting her lips as she reapplies her lipstick in his dresser mirror. Dick scrambles off the bed, pulls the keys from Kory’s pocket, and nuzzles her in a hug from behind.

Looking over her shoulder he says, “Fine, but I’m driving.”

Kory plants a purple kiss on his cheek. He doesn’t wipe it off.

Chapter Text

“Fuck you guys this movie’s a fuckin’ classic,” Jason admonishes from the edge of, what is usually, Dick’s armchair. Rachel is sitting cross-legged at Jason’s knees painting his square fingernails a deep purple.

“Ok,” says Donna rolling her eyes and taking another swig of her orange soda.

“It’s Shakespeare,” Jason defends.

“It’s Baz Luhrman,” says Gar under his breath. He pours popcorn into the biggest bowl he can find and balances it in one arm, Red Vines and Milk Duds in the other.

“Who?” asks Rachel. Gar opens his mouth to dazzle her with his movie knowledge when Jason cuts back in. 

“This is the best film rendition of Romeo and Juliet—” continues Jason.

“What’s Romeo and Juliet?” asks Connor wrestling Krypto on the rug.

“It’s a story about two idiots that,” starts Donna.

“Wow so you’re comin’ for Shakespeare too?!” says Jason throwing up his arms.

“Stop moving,” snaps Rachel glaring up at Jason.

“Sorry,” he mumbles steadying his hand on his knee. Rachel continues to paint.

Romeo and Juliet is about two people—” starts Gar patiently sitting on the floor between Rachel and Krypto. 

“Two children,” Donna corrects cutting in, “Juliet is 13 and Romeo is what…16?”

“I’m not a kid,” says Rachel from the floor. Donna throws a look, Rachel shrugs at her emphatically. Donna looks around the living room for Kory’s support, but Kory’s eyes are on her phone.

“—about two young people that fall in love,” continues Gar calmly, only to be interrupted again.

Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest love--” yells Jason.

“Woooow,” interrupts Donna.

“--one of the greatest love stories EVER TOLD,” shouts Jason, gesturing wildly with the hand that Rachel isn’t working on. “And Baz Luhrman’s 1996 movie adaptation is the only one to truly capture the passion of the play in an authentic way! Fuck you guys! It’s my turn to pick the movie, and this is my fuckin’ pick!!”

The room gets quiet.

“So wait,” says Kory looking up from the synopsis of the story on her phone, “they both die at the end?”

Connor gasps. He and Kory exchange a look of shocked solidarity, they look to Jason for answers. Sensing a new route to getting what he wants, turns to Donna and says, “Are we going to rob the aliens of one of the most sacred works in the English literary canon?”

“I liked you more when I thought you were illiterate,” quips Donna.

“You never liked me,” bites back Jason. Donna sticks out her tongue. Jason flips her off with a deadpan look and starts the movie. Just as the opening music begins, the elevator into the tower opens.

“Are you guys just starting the movie?” asks Dick peeling off his domino mask. Rose steps out behind him.

“Goddamn it,” she sighs looking at the tv. “This shit was supposed to be over by the time we finished patrol.”

“Rose!” shouts Jason.

“I’m not watching this again,” she shouts striding down the hallway to her room. “...literally the only reason I went on patrol with Dick…”

“Wait is this Romeo + Juliet?” asks Dick holding onto the edge of the couch for balance as he unzips his suit to his waist. “So Shakespearean English is cool, but ABBA songs are off limits?”

“Dude, don’t even put this in the same sentence as Mama Mia,” says an exasperated Jason.

“Why are you in my chair?” Dick asks Jason, hands on his hips. 

“I support the Mama Mia ban,” says Kory stealing a sip of Donna’s soda. Dick turns around like he just got slapped.  

“You get kinda annoying after watching that movie, Grayson,” Kory informs him. Dick is shocked, Donna and the kids nod in agreement. “You sing the mumble-sing the songs all day every day for days and--”

“I’m gonna take a shower,” interrupts Dick loudly, half running down the hall.

Donna sidles closer to Kory on the couch. “You need to call Alfred. He has some great video footage of 'Baby Wonder' performing Dancing Queen.” 

They grin at each other. Jason turns on the subtitles throwing a shady look at the two of them that neither notices or acknowledges. The movie plays interrupted repeatedly by: Kory and Conner with questions about language, Donna with sighs and snorts, Dick with unrelated lamentations about how Kory finds his singing, Rachel and Gar laughing at inside jokes, and Jason yelling for Rose to come out of her room.