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"I'm busy."

"You're always busy," Darla whined.

"Weird how you keep bugging me, right?" Billy lined up his shot and fired, blasting the robot to pieces. He blew off one's head and hacked off another's leg with a hatchet, all while trying to ignore the pests hovering behind him. He could see their reflections and the faces they were making whenever the TV screen was dark enough.

Then Freddy's crutches were tapping against the floor, following Darla to his side of the couch. She sat down, Freddy next to her, and reached for the second controller. It wasn't even plugged in. "I wanna play."

"It's one player," Billy said. "Give a guy some space, will ya? There's a boss coming up."

"I picked this game out with Dad," Freddy said, lifting the game case from the coffee table. "It has four players, see? Dad's going to get us two more controllers next week so we can all play together."

In no universe was that happening. "I picked this game out with Dad," Billy mocked, voice shrill like a girl's. "He's not your dad. Stop being such a dork for a week and see what happens. See how long before he throws you back out and reels in some other kid. A little one probably. They're always taking about wanting a baby, I hear them say it when they're on the phone." He knew it was too much. There was a line and he was way across it, but way too far to go back.

"You're a jerk." Freddy's voice cracked at the end. He hobbled away to the kitchen, tap, tap, tap.

Darla was staring Billy down like he'd never seen her, furious. "Shazam might be a superhero, but you're just a bully," she said, more hurt than vicious. She sucked at being angry, but she still made a big show about storming off after Freddy.

"Oh, come on," Billy called. "I didn't mean... Sensitive much?" Neither of 'em answered. "Fine, forget it."

He wasn't dodging fast enough, so the boss killed him in three hits. "Whatever." He fought real robots, and aliens, and he would have fought that edgelord demon jerk if anyone had bothered coming to get him.

Billy tossed the controller on the couch and went to his room. His CASA worker told his newest set of foster parents (same as she had the ones before them) he "liked dinosaurs," so there'd been a poster of a tyrannosaurus above his bed since day one. He had liked dinosaurs, back when he was a little kid. Now liked football, and being in the League when they were actually doing something, and the only reason people thought he still cared about dinosaurs was because of his suitcase.

There were morons out there who really believed foster kids lugged all their stuff behind them in those big black garbage bags. Wrong. Freddy had one of those backpacks with a dozen pockets and Darla had a duffel bag, a purple one. He had a suitcase, a dingy blue one with orange and green dinosaur silhouettes on it and about as many patches of duct tape. It smelled like mildew because it hadn't been waterproof when it was new and he'd had it out in the rain tons of times by now, and the inside was stained all kinds of colors from the junk food and sports drinks he'd hoarded in it. Before his Shazam days, he felt better knowing there was a stash of stuff squirreled away if he ever needed it. Now it was some dumb security blanket kind of thing that happened to be coming in handy: he was hungry, thirsty, and most of all not ready to face the angry foster siblings who were probably still loitering around the kitchen and who had maybe told on him.

Billy dragged his suitcase from under the bed and grabbed a Gatorade and a bag of Doritos from it, then sat down at his desk and opened his laptop. Halfway through some clickbait article about abandoned amusement parks, he heard a muffled voice from the top drawer. His earpiece communicator was stuffed in the back, where hopefully no one would find it if they went nosing through his stuff.

"Shazam, you there?" Flash said. "We need to meet up, buddy. Paging Shazam. Hello?"

Billy turned the communicator off and tossed it back in the drawer. "Pass." That wasn't the enemy invasion voice, that was the we're-going-to-have-a-meeting voice, and those had a lot less appeal when they were outside school hours. On a Saturday? Forget it. He'd already sat through that alien dude yesterday.

There was a new video of Batwoman taking down some guy twice her size going around, shot by some moron who couldn't hold his phone the right way or keep his hands steady. Already had over five million views, though. "Man. Hope he's got a good dentist. He's gonna need it."

The curtains were down, but he knew who he'd find knocking on his window before he pulled them back. "I was hoping you were a child abductor," Billy said sourly, sliding the window open on one side. "Nice stealth. For real, no one's gonna notice the bionic man hovering outside my window."

"They will if you don't hurry up," Victory Stone said, holding his hand out.

It wasn't dark or late enough for Cyborg to be flying him around by the underarms unnoticed, but transforming would have drawn way more attention to them. He'd gotten away with it in the backyard once, but that was when the city was busy being abducted by Darksied — and that slip up was how Freddy and Darla had found out. He probably should have been more careful, but it was kinda cool for them to know.

"This is far enough," Billy said, dangling in the air. His neighborhood was a speck over his shoulder. "Let go."

"You sure?"

"Did I stutter?" Victory let go. He was ready for the fall. "Shazam!"

"Did you not hear Flash calling?" Victory asked, as they avoided some birds that would have smacked them in the face.

"Yeah, I heard 'em. I was busy. Didn't sound like anything important."

"He wouldn't call if it wasn't important."

Shazam shrugged, his arms straight out in front of him. They were soaring over the city and people were starting to wave. "Everybody got by fine without me the last time it was important," he said, before a building split them up. He went right and Victory went left and they met on the other side.

"Nah, barely," Victory said. "Blue Beetle's reflexes saved my ass. Batman about died injecting himself with that nerve toxin. We could have used you and Lantern."

Blue Beetle. That kid with the alien tech on his back. Big freakin' deal. "I didn't have my comm with me. I had football practice."

"Yeah?" Victory said, and he sounded so proud of him. "That's great, Billy."

"It's something to do until the Watchtower's done. Batman already said we could live there if we need to."

"Hey, hold up. Hold on a minute." Victory stopped and grabbed his arm so he would too. "You're not talking about ditching school and your family for good, are you?"

"Foster family," Shazam corrected, crossing his arms, sticking his chest out. "They'll get over it. And if I change my mind, I'll just go find another one. Like how you did."

Victory's hand was on his head and he looked more wounded and human than a lot of fully human criminals they beat the snot out of ever would. "Oh, I get it."

Shazam shook his head and flew past him. He didn't make it far before Victory was in front of him, holding his hands up, saying, "Billy."

"You could've told me before you ran off to another tower," Shazam snapped at him. Or not Shazam. Just a kid who turned into him, who should have known better than to think someone wanted him around. You know, like a family would? Of all times to hear Darla in his head. "Forget it." Shazam was as strong as Superman. Cyborg would move out of his way if he made him.

Or not.

Victory stayed where he was and kept his hands up. Shazam stopped just short of crashing into him. "No, Billy," he said calmly. "We're having this out, one way or the other. You do what you have to do."

He did want to punch something. The thought of that something being Vic's face made him feel sick. "Are you serious? I'm not going to deck you."

"What then?" Cyborg lowered his hands. "You want to join the Titans?" and he meant it.

Why the heck would he want to join the Titans? The League got more stuff, more fame, and most of all, Shazam was an adult even if Billy wasn't. "I still don't want them to know about me," he said. "I want — Why would you want to leave the big leagues for a bunch of losers?"

Victory frowned. "Don't call them that, Billy. They're good people. They're good at what they do."

"Great. Go hang out with them then. I don't need a babysitter."

"You sure about that?" Victory asked, and he didn't sound proud anymore. He sounded like Batman, or Superman when he was angry, or...

"You are just like your old man." Shazam landed on the roof of some rundown building where probably no one but squatters and drug addicts went anymore. "Shazam!" If one of them was going to get teary-eyed like a wuss, it should Billy Batson, not a God. Billy shoved his hands in his hoodie pockets and started for the only door. Hopefully it wasn't locked and the stairs weren't collapsed or something.

"Billy," Victory said from behind him. You couldn't not hear that guy land. He probably weighed like a thousand pounds.

Billy turned around and considered flipping him off, but pulling his hands free was more effort than it was worth. "Stalker much?"

Victory gave him his space, standing near the ledge. "I'm sorry."

He knew this sorry and this silence that came after. Billy had known it for a long time. It was the same kind as when you thought maybe you were home for real, then your new mom reminded you to keep track of where you were leaving your stuff around the house, because you'd need it for when you left; or when your new dad got a job out of state and couldn't take you, so they shuffled you back into the system with your stupid dinosaur suitcase. "You should be sorry." He'd always wanted to say it. This time, he actually did. It didn't make him feel any better.

"I'm not the best adult either sometimes," Victory said, patting his metal chest. "I still do stuff without thinking. This is proof. I should have... I don't know, but whatever all I should have done, I'm sorry for not doing it. I know you don't wanna hear this, but I think this is what they need. Both teams."

Billy's hands felt too sweaty to keep them in his pockets. He wiped them on his pants and looked anywhere but Vic. "How?"

"Who else is gonna keep them from losing their cool when we need to work together? We both know how the League can be. I'm serious, the Titans are capable of holding their own. But you think the guys in the majors are ever gonna see that? No matter what, you and me? We're on each other's team. We're... ambassadors, I guess."

Billy pressed his lips together and let his eyes drift over the dirt on his sneakers. "Never thought of it like that."

Victory got close enough to put a hand on his shoulder. "When this happened to me, I thought my life was over. You were the one who showed me it wasn't. I'll find a way to make this up to you, Billy, I swear."

"It won't be that easy." Billy swiped at his eyes, to make sure they stayed dry.

"Yeah, I got that."

"But I know how to get started..."

It wasn't the first time Billy trespassed on the stadium field and it wouldn't be the last. The next line he crossed was the goal line, leaping and grabbing the football midair. "Touchdown!" he shouted, throwing the ball down and his arms up. "Another for Billy Batson! The crowd goes wild!"

"It's been an hour," Victory called from across the field. "We should probably head back."

Probably, but Billy sat on the home team bench instead. "I didn't have a football game," he confessed, when Victory was next to him. "My grades suck and I skip too many days for them to let me play. I was with my CASA — my Court Appointed Special Advocate. It's a... foster kid thing."

"You get along?" Victory asked casually.

"She's okay, I guess. Really pretty. Not pretty enough I wouldn't have left to fight Trigon. No one is that pretty."

Victory laughed, looking up and down the field. "There's always next season."

"Yeah," Billy agreed. "Aliens." He propped his elbows on the back of the bench, closing his eyes. "Can you tell the League I'll be there tomorrow? There's something I gotta do tonight. And I need another favor before I forgive you."

"Just one?"

"What can I say? I'm a great guy like that."

By time he got home, Freddy and Darla were in his room. Angry, but there. Instead of apologizing, which he should have done too, Billy held up the game store bag and grinned sheepishly. "I got some extra controllers. You guys wanna have a match?"

Freddy and Darla exchanged glances, then Darla bolted out in the hall. "I call first player!"

Freddy tapped, tapped, tapped out after her. "I'm second."

"Hey," Billy called, following. "Want to hear some top secret League stuff?"

They both stopped. Darla whirled around. "What?"

"You know Blue Beetle from the Teen Titans?"

"Yeah?" Freddy said.

"He's actually a zombie," Billy said. "That thing on his back is the only thing that keeps his corpse from rotting."

Darla always found ways to be suspicious and totally gullible in the same breath. "He is not," she insisted. "Really?"

"For real."

Chapter Text

"Cyborg's not back yet? I saw Jaime in the hall." Dick had been talking since he opened the door to Kory's room, had kept talking as it closed behind him, saying as he turned the corner, "Those four are up to..."

Something. The word was something, but he found himself at a loss for it and any others.

Kory had her shoulder to the wall, arms crossed beneath her breasts, wearing nothing but a smile and that red lace set that left just enough to the imagination. His was already running away with him. "Hello, princess," Dick said. The grin that got the better of him halfway through ruined what he'd meant to be seductive, but it never mattered with them. They could go from 0 to 11 on a 1 to 10 scale in the blink of an eye.

Not that he'd dare blink.

"Hello," Kory said casually. She beckoned him with the slightest bend of a finger, and he went, discarding his gloves on the way.

He murmured an apology into her ear. For taking so long, or for nearly dying; she could decide which. His hands trailed the curve of her hips and settled between her back and the wall, pulling her closer.

"How do you feel?" Kory asked. There was practicality to it independent of the fingers in his hair and the subsequent lips against his throat.

His answer was less earnest. "I'm hurting bad, babe."

Kory chuckled, and her hands slid down his arms. They fit so well in his, their fingers interlocked. "Is there anything I can do?"

"I can think of a few things."

The domino he pulled off on the way to the bed. His satchels fell to the floor somewhere along the way. The rest they removed together, some slowly, some not, and when he was down to his boxers and his final, struggling trace of restraint, she kissed him.

The initial gentleness gave way when her lips did and his tongue slid between them. He dropped to the bed and she followed, her knee against his thigh, sinking into the mattress. "Kory," he said against her mouth, apologetic again.

"I know," she replied gently, pulling away, and he got only a glimpse of her eyes before she pushed him back and kissed slowly down his chest. She tossed her hair to one side as she neared the hem of his boxers, and he...

Dick Grayson enjoyed blowjobs as much as the next guy, but... "Kory." She looked up at him. "Come here." She did, and the kiss was all lips. "Not tonight."

"Dick?"

He rolled them over and stood, leaving her sprawled on the bed. "I should have been more careful," he said, reaching over her, towards the drawer where they kept the condoms, because Bruce, King of Hypocrites, had drilled this through his skull time and time again. Not the best time to be thinking about Batman.

"We did our best," Kory said. "You did nothing wrong."

Nearly dying on her felt wrong to him. He could still feel that chill that through his veins, through his very being. "What about you? You're all right? "

"Yes," Kory said, "but I could be better."

Dick tore open a packet and tossed the condom somewhere above them for later. "Yeah?" He hooked his thumbs under her bra and pushed the fabric up, just enough to get it out of the way.

She moaned his name, arched into his mouth as his tongue darting over her nipple. "That's good, babe," Dick said, hushed, kissing up her neck, to her lips. "I missed that sound. I missed you."

"So you've told me," Kory said, and he heard what all she didn't: You're the one who won't stay.

"I'll keep telling you." Dick kissed her forehead, her cheek, her neck. He slipped a hand between her legs and his fingers under the lace of her panties. God, that lace. "You know I'd be here more if I could."

There was always another criminal. Another city. Once in a while another girl, but never...

Kory kissed him hard. Dick brushed his tongue over hers, nibbled on her bottom lip. After fumbling for it a few seconds, he opened his eyes enough to find where he'd left the condom. So much for an easy reach.

He stood and rolled it on. "Thoughts on positions?" he quipped.

Kory grinned up at him. "Must I choose one?"

"You must," Dick said, forlorn. "I'm only human." A human with a schedule. But if he wasn't, he'd never leave this bed, he decided.

He sat on the edge of the bed with Kory in his lap, her legs wrapped around him. She enfolded him in her arms, and he was finally warm again. He lost count of how many times he said her name, but with each he earned a sound sweeter than the last. "I think," he said, finding the breath and the nerve to finish the thought with a smear of a kiss across her shoulder, "I might be in love with you."

Kory laughed breathlessly. "Mmhm?" She rocked against him just right and Dick nearly lost it then.

"Don't laugh," he complained, grinning. Emboldened by far too much faith in his balance, even for a Grayson, he lifted her up and span them around, dropping her the bed. "My masculinity is fragile." He grabbed a pillow. "Lift your head up."

Kory did, watching him, her bangs a mess, down in her eyes, everywhere. He brushed them back before he pulled her legs up and over his shoulders, then reached down to guide himself back inside her.

Neither of them lasted long after that. She moaned his name loud enough he hoped the impressionable youth were out stirring up trouble as he expected, and in the afterglow they stared at the ceiling, his thoughts lost in a blissful fog. He turned his head to her bedside stand and reached for the book there, lifting it up for inspection: Collected Poems of Robert Frost.

"Damian is a fan," Kory said, tucked against him, twirling a strand of his hair around her finger. "I thought it would help us relate better to one another."

"Let me know if it works. I should probably..."

"Yes. Soon." Kory was kissing his neck.

"Eventually," Dick agreed then, and twice more after.