It was raining again in New York and the skyline from the tower looked magnificent. But she couldn't help the feeling that something was wrong. That something was missing. The Titans…they were trying their best for her but after their confrontation with the Justice League, she didn't know what to believe anymore. There were her friends, whom she had countless memories. Real memories. On the other hand, there were the world's greatest heroes, who told everyone that hose memories were planted there by them because she was evil, and they wanted to change that. She didn't know what to do with that either. To them, to Wonder Woman, it made perfect sense. She was created to kill her, and Wonder Woman stopped it. But why did those memories only come back after Wally did? If this life was their doing, how can an unpredictable figure bring all of those memories back? When they didn't even know, didn't remember who he was.
She took a sip from her hot tea, it burned her tongue and she wondered why she even was drinking a cup of tea in the morning.
She was confused, and it was draining her, and the rain did not do anything to help the crushing heartbreak she was feeling. She had delayed it, at least, after their encounter with the Titans. But now that it was all over, she felt the confusion, hurt and betrayal creep back into her system.
"Well, at least the weather gets me," she mocked. Watching the New York skyline from her room in the tower. She was alone again, no matter how much she wished she weren't.
She turned back right away, her hand reaching for her sword in a second, spilling some of her tea on the ground and finding the pocket of her training shorts where her sword should have been. But her worry was short-lived as she saw one of her new friends leaning on her doorway.
"Starfire. Hi. This is a…wonderful surprise," she said laughing nervously, trying to cover for her earlier blunder. She knew she should have been more careful before. She new the Tower was an open target. Starfire was a friend, of sorts, but she could have been anyone else. Anything else.
Perhaps she could have known better, been better if she was truly an Amazon.
Starfire, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind it very much. Perhaps it was because she wasn't wearing her own armor as well. She looked inside Donna's room, wearing a leather jacket, jeans, and boots. All very stylish, but somehow looked retro. If she could be a judge of character on that as well. She smiled at her, warm and bright and for a second, Donna felt her internal confusion reigning back as she saw a familiar face.
"That is good to hear."
For a very short time, Donna didn't know what to do. Was she here to see Dick? They all knew something was there, but Dick didn't say much about it other than the occasional message they sent each other and some of the phone calls he made in the privacy of his room, conversations that Lilith mocked him for because he looked visibly cheery afterwards. She knew they were friends right now. But knowing Dick, seeing him when her name is mentioned, she assumed they had been -and perhaps still were- much more than that.
So, she jumped to the most reasonable conclusion.
"Were you looking for Nightwing?"
"No, I was actually just looking for you."
That was a surprise.
Suddenly, Starfire looked confused as well. That makes two of us, sister.
"The others are not around? I haven't seen anyone on my way here."
Oh, well. Yes, my friends all went to live their own lives while I'm here because I have no life and no identity, thank you very much-
"They all have their things to do."
She raised her eyebrow at that? As if she sensed something under Donn's tone.
"And you decided to stay in?"
No, I had to stay in because the uncertainty of my past is causing me anxiety I do not wish to think about and I wanted to do something I knew, such as train, which was the only thing she was certain of, but the growing concern for my identity and who I am is making me unable and unwilling to do pretty much anything other than be with my friends, who all have lives outside the Tower, perhaps because they weren't made out of clay and planted into others' memories.
But she didn't say any of that. Instead, she just awkwardly pointed to the heavy rain hitting her window.
Starfire just crossed her arms and looked out the window as well the rain calming down.
"Yes, that makes sense. I didn't know the weather was going to be this bad when I started flying from San Francisco."
Somehow, she sensed the don't-bullshit-me tone in Starfire's voice as well. As if she had known her for years and somehow could see that there was more to her words than she was letting on. She felt small, guilty, a little childish as if she was being scolded by her sister for keeping things from her. Keeping things bottled up. It felt familiar, but Starfire had that about her. Seeing her made Donna think of Saturday nights and Italian and Greek food, burned pots and hours of talking, as if they had known each other for years.
A strange feeling. A very familiar feeling.
"Starfire, may I ask what you are doing here?"
"Call me Kory, please."
"Kory. May I ask you why you wanted to see me?"
"Dick said you didn't really remember much about your personal life, your past, when you were Wonder Girl?"
Oh. Thank you, Dick. For sharing something so personal.
"You've heard the story then, huh?" she said, self-conscious again. She wondered how much longer it would take for every single hero would hear about this. Starfire, Kory, didn't say anything else, just nodded solemnly.
"I have. I'm sorry for what happened."
She sighed and bowed her head. There was something about Kory and she could use a friend, today.
"You can come in, if you'd like."
"Thank you. And I want to tell you to not be mad at Dick for sharing such a personal detail, he had your best interest in heart."
Donna smiled and nodded, of course Dick would keep her best interest in mind, that still didn't give him the right to go to other people and share Donna's secrets with anyone. On the other hand, she knew that Dick didn't talk to just anyone and he wouldn't share secrets with someone who was just a friend. He wouldn't call someone every week once a week and talk to them for hours if they were just a friend as well.
"Dick doesn't keep many secrets from you. He talks to you about the missions, about his brother, but he also shares, I didn't really realize that before."
Kory smiled, a warm, loving smile upon that. Donna thought it might be love. It might also be friendship.
"We don't really get the chance to talk like we used to, but yes, to some degree. I think he wants to see a different point of view."
She nodded absentmindedly. Her hand went to cup her tea, finding the warmth of the cup soothing amongst other uncertainty.
"You two were together. Right. I'm sorry that I don't really remember it— It's all very strange, hearing that these memories were implanted there when I know so very well that they weren't. When my friends tell me that they weren't."
"I feel that. I feel so lonely sometimes, knowing that there are pieces missing and I am not to unlock them. If that makes sense?" she asked. It definitely did. For all of them. A part of her wondered if Kory was ever a part of this, or if it was Dick who met her later on. Did she ever know her, had she ever met her before a few weeks ago?
The answer was going to be missing until the Titans could figure out what exactly happened.
"With Wally gone, I think we all lost something."
Kory took off a leather backpack and sat on Donna's bed, as if she was ready to dish out everything that had happened to her that day. Donna smiled, unknowingly, all very familiar yet so very strange at the same time.
"I can't help but think it's more than that, but I got a call two weeks ago from New York actually. From when I lived here?" she asked to see if it brought back any memories. Donna shook her head, no it did not. To be honest, it made her feel worse knowing this.
It should be noted that at this certain moment, Donna had no idea what she was apologizing for. Not remembering her or the fact that she was how she was. Kory smiled reassuringly and shook her hand as if to say that it didn't matter.
"It's okay. Truly. Would you like to sit down?" she asked. It was absurd for her to be asking this while sitting on Donna's bed, but she decided to let it slide.
"Sure. You're here to see me then?"
"Yes. Sorry, I thought that was clear, my mistake." The blunder made her realize once again Kory was literally the alien in the conversation, but she wasn't exactly human anyways. She took a sip from her now mildly warm tea.
"It's okay. What did you want to tell me?"
For a moment, Kory looked at loss, trying to find the words, choosing the right words. Her nature was telling her to just spit it out, but after years on Earth and a lengthy conversation with Dick on the very subject she was here to see Donna for, she felt like she should be delicate and patient. The latter had always been the challenging part for her. She took a deep breath and started with the most important points.
"I got a call from New York, from a warehouse I put all of my stuff when I moved out, apparently. I don't remember much about it either."
Donna's mind, the part of her that was a leader, a warrior, and the part of her that she used to believe was Amazon, went directly to the strategic part of that information.
"Was it related to the team? Was it about Wally?"
"I suppose. I talked to Dick about it, but there are more than just some memories missing. We don't remember years of—" she shook her head bitterly. She also saw the same look of sadness on Dick when they would discuss the stolen time as a team. She wondered how many relationships they had lost in between. She wondered if she had ever been in love, if she had ever rebelled or went out on her own. Or if she was truly a copy like Diana said. Her whole life, her childhood, her adulthood, they were all gone. She just knew her teens, her time with the Titans and that was it.
She nodded and drank a little from her cup.
"Someone is having a wicked laugh about this."
Kory chuckled, bittersweet and silent. But she didn't seem to focus too much on the past, however. Donna envied her for it.
"Anyways, I went there, and I found this," she reached for her bag and took out, what seemed like a big book and held it out. "I think it belongs to you from when we lived together."
Living together? She took out the thick book and opened it.
"What? What's this?"
"A photo album. I think it was you who took them. They are lovely."
Donna looked at the photos before her. An album. From her past. There were countless pictures of Roy, Garth, Lilith, Wally, and Dick. Some of hers. A photo in a cave. A photo in a house. Wally with his face covered in pie. Dick sleeping. Roy wearing a princess crown and Lilith, Donna and Garth making faces. It was the things she vaguely remembered, then she turned the page over.
And her world crumbled beneath her. She put her cup on the floor to look at them.
There was Kory and Donna, sitting on some stairs. She instinctively thought Metropolitan Museum of Art. There were other photos. One of Roy and Beast Boy. Kory, carrying Cyborg in one hand and a green gorilla on the other. Raven, of the Titans, looking at the camera, she looked older, different. Carrying much more burden on her shoulders. There was one of Dick and Kory, looking shyly at each other. On the next page, a party, she guessed from the look of the Santa Claus costumed Roy that it was Christmas, Kory sat calmly on Dick's lap as they were laughing. There was one of Roy and herself, taken from the reflection of a mirror.
She was older in those photos. Not much, maybe a year or two, but definitely not a child
"I don't—I don't remember any of these—
"Neither do I. Dick didn't either. But he scanned them, and they are real. Not edited."
There were more at every page. Some were annotated with her handwriting. Wally in a graduation gown, Dick wearing a best man's suit, Donna with a man she didn't remember. There were photos of the nature, more professional. New York skyline, a shore, a paradise. Diana and Donna. Donna and a younger girl, smaller, younger. Her name escaped her.
Kory pointed a picture on two pages over. Of the Titans as a group, it looked newer than what she remembered with Wally, more crowded than how they were now.
"I don't know what Wonder Woman thinks is real, but I don't think she fully realized who you are either," Kory said. A tear fell on the perfectly kept photos.
"They say I'm made of clay," Donna said as she tried to wipe her cheeks, but her eyes wouldn't stop. Kory gave her a tissue, silk, she wondered if somehow, she had guessed it.
"Perhaps. Perhaps there is more to it than just that."
She continued to look at photos. The following pages were kept to her. Donna and Kory. Troia and Starfire. Sitting in a living room. Them with facemasks. At a party. At a wedding. Photos of Kory, modelling, Photos of them with Lilith. Sometimes with Dick. They looked like they were close. Like they would share everything.
"We were friends," she said. Kory smiled.
"We were sisters."
She shook her head as she looked at the photos. Turned some of them over to see what she wrote. Thanksgiving, Dick's 21st birthday, housewarming party, a life she never knew. A life none of them remembered. A life with Wally. A life with Lilith, a life with the Titans. All of the Titans. She tried to focus on each of them, the faces, the light, her notes, nothing helped her.
"I'm sorry, I don't—" Kory shook her head as she looked at some of the photos herself.
"Neither do I, not really. I think there was something stolen from us, from all of us, and until we find out what it is, perhaps these will help you as they have helped me."
She turned the page to show her something. A dressed-up Garfield and Roy, wearing a slutty orange dress, for Halloween, she guessed. They were holding a sign that said "I shall not mock contribute to a patriarchal view of women and mock them for what they wear for Halloween"
"Oh, god. This photo looks ridiculous." Kory laughed and nodded.
"I especially like this one," she said as she pointed out to another one. There was a photo, a more recent on from the looks of it. A group photo…Wally was next to everyone at the same time. A giant green bear was hugging everyone. Everyone looked shy, but it looked like…family.
She turned to Kory. Someone who she must have shared her most of her thought, someone who she lived together, a best friend she did not remember. But wanted to know more of.
"Thank you, Kory."
She nodded and hugged her, both of them crying tears of joy and sadness. When they parted, Kory smiled brightly at her, her happiness radiating off and since the start of all of all of this, from the moment Diana told her who she was to this moment, Donna didn't feel truly alone.
Together, they continued to look at the photos, each bringing back so many emotions and raising so many other questions. They laughed and speculated on what might have happened at some of the them. She finished her tea and they made more, talking about their lives, who they were today and who they might have been yesterday. Kory told her what she was doing before she began working with the Titans and they talked about Dick and Roy and their craziness.
When the others came back to the tower, they heard laughter coming from Donna's room where it had been so quiet for weeks. Kory re-introduced herself to everyone, Dick sat next to her and looked at some of the photos, occasionally whispering into Kory's ear some things that made her laugh. Lilith then brought in a painting she saw from the pictures that she still had. Roy said that he was glad he didn't remember and they all had a good laugh out of certain events. It was not much, none of them, not even Dick and Wally, wanted to disturb the peace of the night, wanted to keep the happy and fun in their lives a little long. Tomorrow, they would investigate. Tomorrow they would question and try to find answers but tonight, they just wanted to have fun and tried to come up with reasons why, tried to make sense of their lives. Reading Donna's annotations and notes. Looking into concerts and newspaper clips as much as they could. All working to make sense of things, all working together like a family and it felt good. Laughing and making fun of each other. It felt purposeful. It felt like family.
And then it was time to say goodbye.
"Thank you for coming over," Donna said as she walked Kory to the entrance. Dick would have offered, but sensing the importance, he just bid his farewell early. A ten-minute farewell, but still.
Kory smiled. Glad to have found friends over here as well.
"I am glad I did, I think all of us needed this. I have some more stuff, things that I don't think were mine. Perhaps you would like to check them as well?" she offered. But the emotional toll of tonight was still wearing her thin. She knew she would spend a good week looking at all of those photographs.
"I would. Maybe not tomorrow, but I would like that very much," she decided instead. They hugged, a hug of long lost sisters and friends and it filled Donna with joy, knowing that there was more to her past, that there were people like Kory in her past. "Thank you."
Kory took a good look at her friend, knowing that there was a lot more to be uncovered about their past, but feeling joy knowing that whatever they would found would also bring joy and wonder to her life as well.
"Anytime, Donna. Take care." and with that, Starfire took off into the air.
And it felt like the continuation of a beautiful friendship.