They both stared at it as it lay on the table before them, its face written in a hand Dick had not seen in years. However, now it held more structure and arrogance than it once had. Raven glanced over at Dick, his eyes stormy as they rested on the message that bore itself on the white paper.
Hey Boy Wonder, long time no see. Word on the street is you wanna meet with me. Now normally I wouldn’t even acknowledge this kinda request, but I’m amused so I’ll allow it—on one condition, of course. You have to do me a favor.
You see, there’s a certain clown in Gotham, who has something that belongs to me, and well, I want you to get it back for me.
Now, I know what I’m asking is dangerous, and even something Bruce would consider reckless. But I get the feeling you don’t really care about that anymore—do you?
Well, if you accept this mission, contact X. He’ll fill you in on the details. Also, feel free to rough the clown up a bit for me, or kill him (I’d prefer that). And one last thing, I will not take failure as an option. You want your meeting, you better do the job. Even if you have to pry it out of him.
Well good luck with your decision, Grayson. Either way, I guess we’ll see what kinda metal you’re really made of. Have a great fucking day, Dick.
“That’s a colorful farewell,” Raven muttered sarcastically. “So what are we gonna do?”
Dick looked over at her stone faced, “Well, if we want to move forward, then we have to do it,” he said, picking up the letter and peering down at it. “So the real question is, do we wanna move forward?”
Raven crossed her arms and looked down at her feet, her cloak draped around her small form. It was clear she wasn’t completely sold on the idea, but she didn’t want to say it.
“Do we really need him?” she asked looking back up at Dick again.
He nodded and placed the letter down, leaning his arms on the table for support.
“Jason knows everything about the drug trade, and the criminal underworld. He has access to knowledge and information we can’t get on our own.”
Raven let her hand rest on the table as her body leaned into it, her long glove stretching the length of her fair arm. “What’s the plan?”
Dick glanced over at her questionably, “You still wanna do this?”
“Only if you think Hell’s empty?”
The day had finally arrived, the day Dick and the other Titans thought would never come—Raven’s graduation.
The ceremony had finally come to an end. The team standing beneath the hot spring sun as Dick and Victor looked on trying to find the dark-haired girl in the horribly large crowed. They were of course accompanied by Gar and his girlfriend Jillian, as well as Kory and to some surprise, Donna.
Dick hadn’t seen Donna in months, not since he and Kory’d broken up, but the two actually went back quite a bit. For a while the two were actually pretty close, almost as close as he and Barbara. However, Dick always look at Donna as more of a sister. So it didn’t surprise him when Donna had led him away from the flock.
“So it’s really over?” she asked as they walked through the thick crowd.
Dick let out a heavy sigh and looked back at her regretfully, “Yeah.”
The two kept walking, moving through the waves of people, trying to find their new graduate.
“So what are you gonna do now?”
Dick looked forward, trying keep his eyes hidden behind his sunglasses, “Well tomorrow, Raven and I are leaving for a road trip, but we’re not really sure where we’re going.”
Donna laughed, letting a soft smile stretch across her face, “Just gonna go where the wind takes you?”
“Something like that,” Dick replied, trying to keep his motives hidden.
“There’s nothing like getting in a car and driving away without any idea where you’re going,” Donna said glancing up in a nostalgic manner. “There’s a freedom to not having a destination.”
Dick let a comforting smile take form on his face as he took in the thought. “You sound like you know?”
Donna laughed lightly, “Yeah, before Roy and I broke up, we went on road trip. Just us, a car, and a map.”
“I can only imagine the damage that ensued.”
“It actually wasn’t that bad,” Donna replied, “I mean for all his faults, I always felt really free with Roy. Like I didn’t have to be anything but myself with him.”
Dicked felt his brow crease as he looked over at her, “You don’t feel that way now?”
Donna’s gaze fell from him, her face falling with it, “I haven’t told anyone yet, but I’m leaving Terry.”
Dick felt his jaw fall for a moment, wondering if he’d heard her right, “What? Does Terry know?”
Donna shook her head slowly, but said nothing as she pressed her lips together in discomfort.
“Well if you need anything, I’m here. I’m sure Bruce knows a few good lawyers.”
Donna smiled at the slight joke and tilted her head, “Thanks, I’m just trying to get everything squared away before I make it official, but it’s good to know I have your support.”
Dick placed his hand on her shoulder and gave her comforting squeeze, “Well if it’s any consolation, I’ve never really liked Terry, so I mean it’s not really much of a loss for me.”
Donna laughed, but didn’t say much, as though the words didn’t comfort her the way they were intended to.
“Donna, I’m sorry. I—”
“No it’s fine,” she reassured, “it’s just… I know none of you really ever liked Terry, and you, of all people, just endured him for the sake of mine and Kory’s friendship. But I mean… we have a son together, and house, and… a life—and I’m about throw all of that away.”
The two shared a deep moment of regret that only they could really understand, as nothing needed to be said.
“Does it ever get better?” Donna finally asked, lifting the silence.
Dick looked away trying to find an answer, but there just wasn’t an easy one that came to mind. In a sense, he knew the pain that Donna was going through, but in a sense, he couldn’t begin to imagine her guilt. He and Kory didn’t have any children, so their collateral damage was minimal. They also only had a few assets together that at the end of the day were easy to split. But the thing that really separated their situations was the fact that Kory and Dick never even got married.
This in its own way made it easier to walk away as there were less ties keeping them together. There was no law keeping them bound to one another, or holding them accountable to see it through. There was just the bond they made and maintained. And when the bond grew thin, they cut it, like a ball to a chain.
Dick took a breath and prepared to answer her question, but before he could free the words he’d gathered, they heard a voice call from the crowd.
“There you two are!”
They both turned to find a ragtag group of Titans pushing their way through the crowd of people.
“Looks like we found them?” Donna said with a dull tone.
“Or they found us?” Dick added.
His three teammates were of course followed by Jillian and Sara who both clung to their men with a proud fondness. Raven and Kory both seemed content as they approached. Kory looked stunning in her pink sundress as Raven had already begun stripping herself of her graduation gown.
“If I ever have to wear another one of those things again, it’ll be too soon,” she growled, folding the yellow fabric over her arm.
“I don’t know Rae, yellow’s kind of a good color for you,” Gar said with his arm propped around Jillian’s shoulder.
Raven gave the boy a crass smile and said, “Yeah, I get the feeling you only came so you could see me actually look like a fool.”
“Correct! And mission accomplished!” the green boy exclaimed.
“Hey, the girl may not look good in yellow, but she’s still smarter than you, Grass Stain,” Victor teased, giving Raven a high five.
“Yeah seriously, your Masters degree. I feel like I’m never gonna get my Bachelors,” Sara added, trying to shift the mood in a lighter direction.
Victor smiled and looked back at her, “With the way you study, you’ll have it by next year.”
The two continued their conversation with one another, as though forgetting they were in the company of others. All while Kory and Jillian giggled at Gar’s callow antics.
Raven looked over to Donna and Dick and smiled awkwardly. She hated being the center of attention.
“So how’s it feel to be completely done?” Donna asked.
“Kinda like I have my whole life ahead of me, and I can do anything I set my mind to.”
“You don’t mean a word of that, do you?” Dick asked Raven in a flat tone.
“Yeah, I’m trying to keep up the inspirational spirit, but I just don’t have it me,” Raven drawled with her usual cynicism.
“That’s probably for the best,” Dick laughed, “I’d be nervous if that was somewhat convincing.”
“What? The goth girl can’t be anything but gloom and doom?” She said, looking back at him sarcastically.
“So Raven, are you excited for your trip tomorrow?” Donna asked feeling a little left out.
Raven looked at her with little emotion, “Eh, I mean I am, I guess. However, I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to stand long periods of time with the legendary Boy Blunder?”
The Amazon looked over at Dick and giggled at his expense, “I can see how you’d find that concerning, Rae,” Donna replied, receiving and eye roll from Dick. “So what made you two wanna take this trip anyway?”
The two birds looked at each other a moment, something they’d been doing a lot of when explaining their plans.
“Uh, timing I guess?” Dick said causally, “ya’ know, it’s kinda like when are we ever gonna get the chance to do this again?”
Donna smiled and nodded, “Yeah I can totally understand that, and you’re right, trust me. I know you’re right—”
Just as she was finishing her statement, the three heard Victor’s thunderous voice yell over the white noise of the crowd.
“So who wants to take this party back to the tower? I wanna spend what little time we have together as a family,” he said in a hearty tone, filled with sincerity.
It was something that they hadn’t really called themselves in a while, at least out loud. Dick looked around at his fellow Titans, and though he may not have held that title anymore, he’d always be one of them.
It was hard to think that tomorrow he’d be leaving them, and for something they may not consider noble. But it was something he’d accepted by now, and something he felt was necessary.
“Yeah, it’ll be like old times,” he replied with a genuine smile, staring back at his team.
“Yeah dudes, I can’t wait for you guys to try my tofu casserole! It’s totally bomb,” the green changeling said triumphantly.
“Oh yeah, it’s gonna bomb alright,” Raven said dully, “like a bulimic after Christmas dinner.”
The rest of the team burst out in laughter, some out of genuine humor and others out of a little discomfort. Gar however, looked back at her with little amusement, a listless stare in his green eyes.
“That’s real classy, Rae. I thought you were supposed to be above that sorta thing?”
Raven looked back at him, her expression unmoved from its sharp glare, “Hey, it was cheap, but I went for it,” she replied. “I like to judge things from a similar level of quality.”
“Okay, point taken,” Dick interjected, trying hold back his laughter, but hardly succeeded, “no one likes tofu, and Raven has no problem articulating that she hates it. So with that realization out of the way, let’s go eat.”
“I second that motion, man. Best plan anyone’s had all day!” Victor exclaimed, setting his sights on the parking lot.
He was followed by Sara who laughed as the robotic man rambled on about the stake tips he’d let marinate overnight, and how he couldn’t wait to fire up the grill. Gar of course grabbed Jillian and followed, whining about the injustice of eating animals, earning a, “Shut up, Tofu Breath,” from Victor.
Donna walked over to Kory, calling out that she’d see everyone back at the tower. Dick and Raven greeted the two goodbye, Kory and Dick still somewhat tied to their awkwardness. They still hadn’t really discussed anything that happened between them, both too hesitant to approach it again.
“You need to talk to her,” Raven said as the two women stepped just out of eat shot.
“I know,” Dick replied weakly, “I just don’t know what to say to her.”
He looked back at Kory as she walked away, her red hair getting caught up in the wind as she left. It was a sight he once found great beauty in, but now found its greatness withering into nothing. There was a sadness that attached itself to the feeling, leeching the very life out of it.
“Well you better figure it out,” Raven replied then looked over Dick blankly, “You owe her that.”
Dick looked over at her, but remained silent. He knew he owed Kory a proper goodbye and that he couldn’t leave the bridge aflame, but part of him just wanted to walk away.
“I’m serious Dick, you can’t move on to tomorrow until you get through today,” she replied seeing the reluctance in his eyes.
“What if tomorrow doesn’t come?”
“Then you better hope today means something, because you might regret what came of it.” Raven turned and walked away, not even giving him a moment to reply. She had no patience for his childishness, mostly because she knew he was bigger than it. She wouldn’t allow him to just run away like he wanted to, though he hardly saw it that way.
Dick stood there a moment, lost amongst the crowd, shrouded in insignificance. The world was clearly moving around him, once again not stopping for fear of leaving him behind. He knew how cruel the wind could blow, how hard the rain could pour, and how unfair time itself could be. Life didn’t stop for anyone, and if you couldn’t keep up, it would break you without a second thought. It was something he felt time and time again, that need to break, but the trick was to keep moving, to keep fighting the tide.
He thought about something his father had told him about coping. A deep sentiment of time and duty that Dick always kept with him.
" Someday you’ll be faced with situations that you’ll find very difficult to handle, and you’ll be told to man up. Now, I know you think you’ll be willing to live up to the challenge, but there will be moments you won’t, and in those moments, you may have to make decisions you’re not proud of, but you’ll have to make them anyway.”
Dick could recall asking his father how he’d be able to do that, how he could navigate through such harsh waters. How he could make such decisions?
His father drew back and let his eyes fill with the difficulties he still kept with him, and always would, then he spoke.
" Anybody can endure one moment, and once it’s gone, another moment begins, you just need to take life one moment at a time.”
His father went on to say that one day tomorrow wouldn’t come, but he would always have today, and that the decisions of today would enviably construct tomorrow. Dick thought about his decisions as of late, and the effect they’d had on him, and the tomorrow he faced. Part of him held a cynical view of himself, as though it didn’t matter. But another part of him still questioned if what he was doing and what he’d done was right. But what was done was done, he couldn’t turn back now, he just had to endure it.
“One moment at a time…”
A few hours had passed as the Titans sat around the roof top, blissfully enjoying what little time they had left together. For the most part things seemed comfortable, and for the first time in weeks, things felt less turbulent, both as a unit and individually. It was as if nothing had ever changed. The team once again found themselves laughing together and sharing stories of old times before life had become heavy and complicated.
For Dick, this was a relief, to forget the things that bogged him down, the things that continued to keep him awake at night. For the moment, he was free of that darkness, and that clawing reality, and deep down, he really didn’t want tomorrow to come.
He watched as Beast Boy theatrically retold of the time he’d taken an awful job at Meaty Meats, so he could win a moped.
“I still can’t believe you did that, man!” Victor exclaimed in hysterics.
The green boy smiled wide, “Yeah Dude! And after all was said and done, that piece of crap fell apart!” he laughed.
“Great story,” Raven said hardly amused, as she’d heard the tale told and retold more times than she cared to count, “I’m gonna get a refill,” she said, picking up her wine glass.
“Uh Raven, there’s a nearly full bottle right—” Donna began, until Raven cut her off.
“That’s not the kind I want.”
“That’s awfully picky of you, Rae. Care to tell us what kind you do want?” Gar said with a hint of curiosity.
Raven looked at the changeling a little annoyed, “The kind that comes from the kitchen.”
The rest of the team couldn’t help but laugh at the exchange as a foolish look fell over Gar’s face.
Raven smirked at her victory and turned, walking toward the stairway and made her way down the corridor. As she vanished, the conversation kept persisting, but seemed to be veering off in different directions.
Victor and Gar began talking amongst themselves as Sara and Jillian asked them to tell more funny stories. Meanwhile Dick and Donna retreated into their own conversation.
“God, Raven really knows how to stick it to Gar,” Donna said with a laugh.
“Oh, she can do that to anyone. Trust me, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of it quite a few times.”
Donna laughed a little at Dick’s expense and took a sip of her wine, “Hey, have you seen Kory?”
Raven entered the common room a tad on the tipsy side. However, she was quite lucid, but in the event that she’d have to sit through another one of Gar’s jokes, she’d see to it she wouldn’t remember. She walked into the kitchen and began reading the labels of the various liquors at her disposal.
“Now which one of you is gonna get me to Lushville the fastest?” she mumbled.
“I personally find great solace in the Vodka of Raspberries,” she heard and jumped at the sight of a figure popping up from behind the couch.
“Oh shit Kory,” Raven sighed roughly, “you scared the fuck out of me.”
Kory leaned sluggishly on the back of the couch, draping over it carelessly, “My apologies, Friend Raven.”
Raven looked back at the girl crudely, immediately realizing that something was off, “Uh Kory, are you okay? You haven’t talked like that since you got plastered at Donna’s wedding and cried cause you didn’t catch the bouquet—”
Raven then realized that she’d answered her own question, her eyes growing wide at the discovery.
“Yes Friend Raven, I am afraid that I am what you call the shitfaced.”
Raven’s concern for her friend quickly flooded over her face as she looked on at her from the counter.
“Do you… um, wanna talk about it?” she asked, watching Kory struggle to hold herself up.
“No, I do not want to burden you with my feelings, I know you do not care for the taking it out.”
Her words hit Raven hard in her empathy, making it sound like she didn’t care, but she did. She could just never really bring herself to really voice it out loud.
“Kory, I know I can come off as cold and uncaring—”
“Gar claims it is because you are the reigning Queen of Bitch.”
Raven bit her lip as a crass, yet bitter smile curled across her lips, “and Gar’s the reigning King of Dumbass. The point is, I know I can come off as a cold-hearted bitch, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you guys.” Raven said, trying to reach out to the drunk alien. “So if it will help you, I’m all ears.”
“So you will do the listening of my problems?”
“Oh glorious, Friend Raven!” Kory slurred, throwing her arms up sluggishly, knocking over what was left of the raspberry vodka.
Raven watched the mishap from the counter, feeling a blood vessel in her forehead begin to throb.
“Mother of Christ, I’m not drunk enough for this—just give me a second,” she said pouring herself a generous shot of whatever whisky was available.
Kory clumsily looked back at the young sorceress as she threw back the dark liquid, leaning on the counter as she forced its burning contents down.
“Are you the good?” Kory asked as Raven looked up at her.
“I will be,” she replied, picking up a bottle of wine and an empty glass, then made her way to the couch. “Okay, go.”
Kory looked down a moment as if she were trying to find a starting point, “I suspect that I am having a hard time with the moving on,” she said. “I have spent a long time on this world and I feel as though I still understanding little of it and its people.”
“You don’t understand why Dick doesn’t understand your decision?”
“That is correct,” she said, leaning her head on the couch somberly, “I understand that it is not his custom, and I can live with that, but I do not understand why he uses it as an excuse.”
Raven looked away from her and toward the large window in front of them. Kory really was a lot smarter than most people gave her credit for, and she was far less easy to lie to.
“I don’t think he does it on purpose,” Raven finally said, “he’s probably not even aware that he’s doing it.”
“But how is that possible? How can you all be so oblivious?”
Raven peered down at the rich Merlot in her hand, its scent faint as she inhaled, “Have you ever heard the quote, ′some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them’?"
“I have not, but I understand the concept that you speak of. Is it by that Spear Shaker you are so fond of?”
Raven laughed at Kory’s ignorance of Elizabethan playwrights, wondering for a moment about her interpretation, “Yes it is, but I think that concept is universal,” Raven said taking a sip of her wine, “Some are born into their situation, whereas others achieve it over time, but other have no choice.”
“I do not quite understand?”
“I mean look at Dick’s life and his circumstances. He was born into a life—a culture, that a lot of people don’t understand. Then that life was taken away from him and he was forced into another—a completely different life, with completely different responsibilities and values—that he had to learn to adhere to.”
“What is your point, friend Raven?”
“My point is, there’s a lot about Richard Grayson we don’t understand, and I think part of that is because he was taught by both his parents and Bruce that letting the world in isn’t exactly a noble practice. It also doesn’t help that he’s Romany and Irish. Top that off with Bruce’s jaded view of the world, it’s a shock he’s as well adjusted as he is.”
“But that does not explain why he no longer holds love for me,” Kory said weakly, “I feel as though it is my fault.”
“He still loves you,” Raven replied, “just not like he used to, but that’s no one’s fault, that’s just life.”
“How can life do such a thing?” Kory questioned, disillusion pressing against her heart.
“Life changes us,” Raven replied, “it takes us to places we never thought we’d have to go. Our experiences shape us, they make us see things differently and we grow from that. That’s what people do, they change and it takes a great amount of ignorance to remain static.”
“So he is too complex for me?”
“No,” Raven corrected, “you’re both too complex for each other,”
“You think I’m complex?” Kory perked up a moment, as if the notion was truly a surprise.
Raven smiled as she traced the rim of her glass, “Yes, there are far more layers to you than most people are capable of seeing, Kory. You may not understand our world in its depths, but you understand things about humanity that most people can’t, and that makes you pretty profound sometimes.”
Raven paused and took a long sip of her wine as Kory pulled her knees up to her chest.
“Thank you Raven,” she said sincerely, “I always thought you viewed me as the naiveté?”
Raven looked over at the beautiful alien, a little hurt on her face, but only for the fact her friend felt that way, and she’d allowed it.
“You have every right to feel that way, I haven’t exactly been the friend I should have been.”
“What do you mean, Raven?” Kory questioned with a spark of intrigue, “is there something you have not told me?”
“No,” Raven said with regret, “but I did practically remove myself from your life. I haven’t always been there for you.”
“I always thought you felt I had replaced you with Donna.”
“No, I know you didn’t,” Raven reassured, “and you at least made an effort to include me. I however, always kept the door closed.”
“May I ask why?”
Kory’s green eyes looked up at her with intrigue, but no malice to be found.
“I guess because it was easier.”
“How so?” Kory grimaced with an inquisitiveness.
“Because if I spent time with you,” The dark girl began, “I’d have to put forth effort, I’d have to try things I wasn’t willing to. I’d have to try and see the world through your eyes and well, I didn’t want to.”
Kory remained quiet for a moment as she tried understand such a reason.
“Don’t ask me why, because to be honest, I don’t think I know for myself.” Raven finally concluded.
“I understand,” Kory said, “I appreciate your honesty.”
“Thank you I—” Raven began, but stopped as she heard a ruckus stir from behind her.
The two young women turned their heads to quickly find their fellow teammates come stumbling in (and over each other).
“So this is where you two have been,” the mechanical man said as he plopped down on the couch beside them.
“Finally one of the greatest mysteries is solved,” Raven drawled, finishing her wine.
Gar threw himself over the back of the couch and wrapped his arms around the dark girl, her eyes flaring from the embrace.
“Oh Raven, have I told you how much I’m gonna miss you?”
“No, and you’re touching me,” the sorceress growled slightly, Kory giggling at her discomfort.
“Well… I will,” Gar cued drunkenly, his arms still wrapped tightly around her.
“I as well,” Kory added as she too threw her arms around Raven with Gar still holding her tight.
“Aww bring it in, group hug! I’m gonna miss you too, Rae,” said Victor, joining the embrace.
“Okay, okay, I’m gonna miss you guys too,” Raven groaned, a little annoyed, though she truly did appreciate the gesture. However (physical contact wasn’t really for her). “Now can you guys stop with the touchy feely, I’m starting to freak out.”
“You know you like it,” Victor said in a singsong voice.
“Yeah, I like it as much as I like pestilence and famine.”
As the light-hearted moment between Raven and her fellow Titans went on, Dick and Donna continued their pervious conversation.
“So you and Terry are totally done?”
“Yep, it’s over, and it’s not worth saving,” Donna said rolling the base of her wine glass.
Dick glanced down, each word hitting him like a hard blow. He understood how she felt. That moment where you no longer want to put any effort into saving your relationship, because for you, there is nothing to save.
“It’s a shitty feeling, I’m sorry.”
Donna shrugged, and peered down at her glass, “I tried to ask you early if it gets better, you didn’t answer?”
“I don’t know, I’m not there yet.” Dick looked up at her with uncertainty in his eyes, “I mean, maybe it’s starting to, I guess. It’s hard to say, every day’s a bit different. It’s tough thought, to have your whole identity wrapped up in someone, then without them you don’t know who you are. I think that’s the worst part, not knowing.”
Donna smiled meagerly as she peered up at the sky reminiscently, “How’d you know it was over?”
It was a good question, one he hadn’t really thought about. Dick took a moment to think of where he’d exactly given up, when he’d lost the will to fight anymore, when he just wanted to let go.
“When I realized that we could never get back what we had, that was the moment it hit me, but I think part of me knew long before that.”
A dull, but mournful look took life on his face as the words formed sound and left his thoughts. Donna nodded, understanding how hard that moment hit him—she’d felt it for herself.
“What about you?” Dick asked, “How’d you know?”
Donna let go of a deep breath and straightened her back as she began sifting through the details.
“We’d gotten into a fight, something marginal in all honestly, but it was still enough that I couldn’t even look at Terry. So I left. I took a long walk, trying to clear my head and began going over what I could possibly do to fix our relationship—what we could do.”
“What’d you come up with?”
“Nothing,” Donna replied with a bitter smile, “There was nothing I wanted form him anymore, there was nothing I wanted to fix. I just didn’t love him anymore.”
Dick looked away, hearing a little hatred drip into her voice. He knew how it felt to give up on fighting for someone, but he didn’t know how it felt to hate them like that. To hate someone for loving you.
“So,” Donna said picking up her glass, “how do you get through it? I know you still love Kory, that can’t be easy for you?”
Dick shrugged and took a deep breath, “My dad told me when I was a kid that life is hard, but that you can endure anything for a moment.” He looked up at Donna who seemed intrigued by the notion. “So I guess I’m just getting through it one moment at a time.”
“That’s awfully poetic of you,” Donna said with a little surprise.
“It’s not poetic, it’s just life.”
Donna cracked a smile and said, “You have to stop hanging out with Raven.”
Dick laughed cynically, unable to help himself, “Sorry, I’m in the angry phase of the mourning process and the beer isn’t helping.”
Donna chuckled as she stood up, “The last time you said something like that was right before you left Gotham, kind of ironic, isn’t it?”
Dick resented the statement, though he knew Donna meant no harm by it, but still it hurt to know she was right. Dick’s departure from Gotham came after a string of events, including his first falling out with Bruce and his decision to walk away. He gave up everything when he made that decision, his family, his home, his first love—he relinquished all of it and gave up his life. A lot like he was about to do now.
“It’s funny how everything comes full circle,” Dick said noticing the moon hanging low in the sky, “I left one life behind to build a new one, and now I’m walking away from this one too.”
Donna felt for him, knowing the parallels of his story and how they’d brought him here. She looked down at her watch to check the time and found it was it was 1 am.
“Well it’s officially tomorrow, we should move forward, leave the past to the past,” she said catching his attention.
Dick looked over at her and smiled, trying to take her advice and leave that past to memory. “We should go find the others, God only knows what they’re up to.”
Donna nodded and followed him down the steps from the roof, leaving the moon to her lonesome watch over the world’s indiscretion.
As they walked, they made small talk, leaving Dick to think about how alike they were and how much they weren’t. The lives they knew were both coming to an end, but for very different reasons. For Donna, it was the end of her shiny happy life as the perfect wife and mother she portrayed herself to be. And she’d given up a lot for that life, even walking away from the culture she’d come from to obtain it. Maybe that was why she hated Terry, he took her away from who she was and she wanted it back, or maybe she just wanted to be someone without him?
The two finally reached the common area where they found an odd sight. Raven was sitting up with both Gar and Kory, drunkenly passed out on each shoulder, Victor out cold to her right.
“Raven?” Dick questioned, looking on at the sight a little surprised.
She looked over at him and rolled her eyes with just a hint of submission melting into her expression.
He moved closer to her and knelt down beside the couch, “I never thought I’d see the day…” he chuckled, the light scent of beer rolling off his breath.
Raven sarcastically smiled with a mocking laugh, “I’m glad you’re enjoying this moment, I feel really complete.”
Dick let out a small grunt of laughter, just slightly enjoying her pain, “Would you like some help?” he asked.
But to his surprise the dark girl declined, “No, I’m good. This may not be an ideal situation, but it’s grown on me, literally.”
Dick looked back at her shocked and raised his hand to her forehead, “You feeling okay, Rae?”
He placed his hand on the warm plane of her brow as her eye glaced up at it.
“I’m fine Grayson, I’m just enjoying the moment… I think?” she replied, slightly questioning her emotional response. “I could just be drunk… I’m probably drunk.”
“Well then you’re in good company, I think we’re all a little shitfaced at this point,” Dick mused, taking in the current sight.
“Oh good, I’m not the only lush,” Raven laughed dryly.
“So you’re good here?”
“Yeah,” Raven smiled, “for now. I’ll probably kick them off when I can’t feel my shoulders anymore.”
“Ok, night Rae.”
“Night Boy Blunder.”
The next day came with the rising of the sun. The team sluggishly helping place bags in the back of the forest green Jeep Cherokee, each one moving through different degrees of pain.
The sun was high which (for once) seemed to be working against Kory, who was clearly hungover. Raven suggested earlier that morning that she go back to bed. Adding, that she’d bring her some water and have Vic make her something to eat. However, Kory refused, wanting to see her friends off. She didn’t want to put a damper on those final moments.
Gar (who was also quite sloshed) wasn’t so humble. He made it no secret that his head was pounding, comparing it to a jackhammer pulling up tile.
“Seriously, I’m never drinking again, I can’t even think straight,” the green boy whined.
“That’s nothing new,” Raven drawled as she carefully checked to make sure she had everything.
“Haha, funny Rae” Gar replied unamused, his head too cluttered for humor. “You really know how to kick a dog when it’s down.”
“Only when the dog is you.”
“Oh stop it you two,” Victor intruded on the banter, “these are our last few moments as a team. Let’s not spend them fighting over how basic BB is.”
“Yeah!” Gar agreed, not really thinking. ’Hey—wait!”
Raven raised a brow, clearly amused with how easily Gar stumbled into that joke. “Vic’s right, but in the future, Gar. Next time you drink half your weight in beer, sleep with the air conditioning on high and drink a lot of water. It will spare us the torture of listening to you whine.”
While this was taking place, not far in the distance, Kory looked on at her friends wearily. She wanted so badly to spend those last moments with them, but couldn’t quite lift her spirits. Looking on, she could feel herself becoming quite hot and a sick feeling began to fill her.
“Oh X’hal,” she muttered, placing her hand over her mouth and took off for the bay.
She sprinted for the shoreline, but didn’t quite succeed, doubling over in discomfort, unable to hold back her sickness. She by now, was out of sight of the others, her body voiding itself, unable to take the heat any longer.
“Oh God, Kory! Are you okay? She heard a once familiar voice say.
She hadn’t noticed, but Dick had been sitting on a rock not far off her right, bearing witness to the unsavory sight.
She looked up at him, still hunched over in unpleasant agony.
“I’m fi—” she attempted to say, but was overcome by sickness again.
Dick, quickly ran to her side and pulled the massive red locks from her face, creasing his face at both sight and smell. A long minute passed while Kory’s body continued to purge, her core finally feeling weak from the fatigue.
Dick helped her sit down on a rock as she tried to get some of her strength back, her head buried deep in her hands.
“You really need to go back to bed, Kory,” Dick said, gently combing some of her hair behind her ear.
She looked up at him, tears running down her face from the disorientation. She nodded, not really having the will to verbally agree. He helped her up, and walked her to the tower where he placed her in her old room. Its color scheme still overburdened with purple and pink hues.
Once Kory was safely tucked away in bed, Dick left the room before she could even thank him. This didn’t shock her, as doing the bare minimum had become something of the norm for them. Which Kory had begrudgingly begun to accept.
She rolled over and miserably wrapped herself in her blankets a little diluted, but couldn’t quite bring herself to sulk.
′I am just going to have to get used to him not caring,′ Kory thought disenchantedly, when she heard the door open.
“I am fine, there is no need to check on me,” she moaned, not having the emotional strength to stand any pity one might place on her.
“It’s me Kory,” Dick replied to her surprise.
She looked over her shoulder to find him standing in her doorway with a plate of toast and two bottles of water. He stepped forward, placing the plate down on her bedside table and opened one of the waters.
“You need to stay hydrated,” he said, handing her the bottle then got up and went into the bathroom to retrieve a damp wash cloth. “You should eat something too, even if it’s not much, just what you think you can handle,” Dick added, once again sitting beside her and began cleaning the worn expression on her face.
The look she wore read of confusion and conflict, “Why are you doing this?”
Dick shrugged, placing the cloth down and retrieved the plate of toast, “Because you’re my friend and you need help.”
Kory looked away from him a minute, feeling a little betrayed by his statement. In the last few months they’d hardly spoke, and when they did, it usually ended with one or both of them feeling empty and decepted. They sometimes spoke poorly to each and even questioned each other’s loyalty. So could they really call themselves friends?
Dick’s expression changed as he noticed hers was less than pleased with his answer.
She shook her head, not really sure what to say.
“I don’t know if we can do this?” she finally sighed in defeat.
“Do what?” Dick questioned, not really sure what to think of her realization.
“This,” Kory urged, “you being nice because you feel guilty, me wishing things between us never changed.” There was panic in her voice now, but it was inevitably filled with truth.
Dick shook his head and stood up, “What the hell do you want from me, Kory? I know I fucked up and I’m sorry, but I’m trying to fix what we have left.”
“And what would that be, Dick? Really, what do we have?” Her sluggish voice had become daring and fed up as she looked up at him candidly. “I mean, we can’t have the relationship we did have, and you don’t want the one we could have—X’hal… I don’t even want the one we could have.”
Dick’s jaw tightened as anger and frustration bit at him, that inner darkness begging to come out.
“Fine!” he yelled unable to hold back, “If you don’t want me to care anymore, then I won’t. You never needed me to save you anyways, I’m done trying.”
“What does that mean, Dick?” Kory asked knitting her brow.
“Nothing,” Dick replied abrasively, “that means nothing, it shouldn’t mean anything to you.”
His tone was filled with resentment and even a little hate, as though he hated her for loving him.
Kory grew with discontent, the sick feeling in her stomach driving her to roll over and reach for her bedside table. She rummaged through her purse a moment as Dick stood there awkwardly waiting.
She finally retrieved what she was looking for and sat up, holding out her hand ruefully, “Here,” the brilliance of a diamond ring gleaming softly in her hand, “I don’t need this anymore, nor do I want it.”
Dick felt a cold wave of shock run through him. The image of the woman he’d loved for nearly a decade, relinquishing her love for him with a tongue. A sharp lump caught in his throat and he knew he’d regret what he was about to say, but he said it anyway.
“You should have said that to your husband."
“Get out! Leave!” Kory shouted, unable to take his presence any longer.
“Too late Kory, I’m already gone,” Dick replied venomously, and shut the door behind him.
It took everything he had not to slam it or punched the wall by its fame. His anger hung heavy in his chest, like it would tear him a part at any moment if he didn’t let it go, but how? Before he could come to any conclusion, he turned and literally slammed into someone, both crashing to the floor.
“Damnit Grayson,” Dick heard Raven scoff as she pulled herself to her elbows, “just plow me down why don’t ya?”
Dick didn’t say anything as he pulled himself up, offering the dark girl a hand. Raven took it and rose to her feet, noticing the troubled look on his face.
“You okay Boy Blu—”
“Don’t call me that!” he snapped, no longer able to bite his tongue.
Raven drew back slightly as his tone hit her the wrong way. She let her brow crease in distaste, feeling the inner rage rolling off him like a muggy fog.
“Okay Dick,” Raven said sarcastically, “I’m gonna go say goodbye to Kory, I’ll meet you in the car.”
Dick rolled his eyes and walked passed her, immediately disappointed in his actions, but couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge them in the moment.
“And don’t you touch the radio, that’s a Raven Zone only, got it?” Raven called, watching him disappear down the hall. “I swear to whatever God is out there, that man is gonna be the death of me.”