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Dealing With Change

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Kory held back a grunt, glaring at the closed door. She could hear the rapping on the wood over the swoosh from the dryer in her hand. Huffing a sigh, she turned it off.

"If you keep interrupting me, it will take me longer," she licked her lips, tension curling them up at the corners, "Dick," she stressed, letting her voice drop a fraction.

She heard him groaning and did not bother to bite down the smile blossoming across her face. At all.

"Come on, Kory," the insistent demand accompanied by a creak, then another and another. She could practically see him shifting his weight outside the door, guessed the creases furrowing his brow. "We really need to get going."

"Dick, it's a charity auction. Run by Bruce, he's the one who has to show up early, not you," she offered casually, dragging her fingers down a strand of hair, assessing the softness.

The faint thud outside made her roll her eyes.

She set the dryer on the counter, right next to Gar's green toothbrush, though she was actually tempted to turn it on again, just to avoid hearing the same boring litany for the millionth time in the span of ten minutes.

She glanced at her reflection in the mirror appreciatively, unclipping a section of springy magenta curls. She hummed, grabbing the spray bottle with a swift movement of her hand.

She crinkled up her nose at the faint pungent smell of the spray. She really ought to buy another one soon, surely that lovely shop assistant that had recommended that amazing shea butter-based leave-in would know how to help her out—


"If you are so bored, you can ask Garfield if you can join him," she prompted, sliding the comb down the section, breathing out a curse at the unexpected knot. "I am told that Mortal Combat game is more fun when playing against another player, not that computer thingie," she declared, with an amused lift to her voice.

"But we should be—"

"You keep delaying me, Grayson," she cut in, before he had time to add anything further.

If the groan she heard was anything to go by, Dick may be close to admit defeat. Her lips curled with amusement at such prospect, and the smile only broadened when she heard the faint shuffle of his steps growing fainter.

Taking another look at herself in the mirror, she got to work, finally undisturbed by a certain overly-impatient boy wonder.

"All set and good to go," Kory announced with an amused edge to her voice, strutting into the living room with the rhythmic click of her heels.

Dick's eyes locked with hers and his mouth went slightly slack. Kory cocked an eyebrow at him, trying to keep that pleasure at his palpable amazement from showing on her face. Though the warm glow flowing through her made her heart sing with delight.

"What— I mean— why—" he stammered, creases plaguing his forehead as the lift of his voice went up.

Garfield and Rachel, undoubtedly curious at Dick sudden hesitating phrasing, turned around, video game unattended. An appreciative grin flashed through Rachel's face as she nodded, while Garfield let out a surprised woah under his breath.

"Yo, it looks so dope," he elaborated further, adding a wide grin to punctuate his argument.

Laughter bubbled in her throat when Dick twisted his mouth at the comment, scowling at him. He rolled his shoulders and rose from his seat and was promptly chiding the two teenagers to go fetch their coats.

Kory strolled towards him, smile still plastered on her face. Dick, fidgeting with the cuff of his tux, didn't look up when she approached, not even when she laid her hands on his shoulders, squeezing it gently over the fabric.

With a huffed sigh, he met her gaze. The creases hadn't ironed out from his face yet. In fact, they deepened when Kory started toying with the locks at his nape.

"What's up with you, bird boy?" she asked, a breath away from his mouth.

Usually, if they were alone and standing this close, Dick gaze would soften as he closed the gap between them, pressing his lips to hers whenever she was being her endearingly teasing self. But not today, apparently. His eyes remained clouded and all he did afterwards was but breathe out another sigh. He lifted a hand to cup her face, his brows furrowing when his fingers dived into her hair.

"You got them off—" his voice dropped, barely above a whisper.

Kory had to resort to every ounce of her willpower not to snort to his face. Truly, he could be impossible sometimes. Cute, she'd grant him that, but still impossible. She settled for pressing a swift soft kiss to the corner of his mouth.

"You do know this isn't permanent, don't you?"

He sighed, "yeah, I know," he said, smoothing down the strands framing her face. "But I like your curls more," his voice had barely been a rustle of air and she almost didn't catch that.

Apparently, her blow-drying her hair to straighten it hadn't sat well with him at all. Which she had to admit was equal parts funny and touching, all things considered.

He cleared his throat.

"But you can do whatever you want to," he added with an edge of nonchalance to the lift of his voice, shrugging the matter off as it did not really matter to him... or tried to. "It's your hair, after all, and I have no right to—"

She cut off his blabbering with another kiss. This time to his mouth. He made a sound in the back of his throat the moment she taunted the seam with her tongue, gently coaxing him to open up to her. His exhale tingled, and before Dick could change his mind, she covered his mouth with hers.

Yet, despite the wild swirl in the pit of her stomach, she kept it soft. Gentle. The brush of his hands sliding down her body suddenly challenged her. He wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her close. She relished in the feeling of tasting his breath mingled with hers as she pretended to deepen the kiss, only to tease him, letting it turn into more of a cheeky caress than anything else.

Dick growled and dipped down, nibbling on her lower lip as retaliation with a light scrape. Her fingers twisted around the soft locks and tugged, pulling him backwards, a rather unorthodox way of channeling and diverting the sudden spark of desire rippling inside her. It earned her a growl and, with a pleased hum, she pulled back trying to keep her face straight when Dick frowned at her. Clamping her lips shut, feeling her cheeks tense, she raised an eyebrow at him as the thumping of steps rang clearer. And closer.

Rachel rolled her eyes when Dick put some distance between Kory and him, averting his gaze in the process.

"Really?" Rachel said under her breath, though still pretty audible to everyone in the room. She pulled a face, stealing a brief glance at Kory, who swallowed her giggle and beamed instead.

A few days ago Kory had feared they may have lost Dick during breakfast. He had nearly choked on his coffee when Rachel, out of the blue and very straightforwardly for having spoken around a mouthful of bacon and eggs, declared he had to stop being so ridiculous about the whole thing.

"You don't have to wait until we are out of the room to make out with Kory, you know."

"Yeah, we already know you're like together together. Like a thing."

Garfield had also said his piece, of course. And by the wary look on Dick's face when he glanced at the two, he might be having flashbacks to that moment —though the color on his cheeks, considerably less red and bright, was due to an entire different circumstance.

He cleared his throat and waved to the door, eloquently asking them all to be on their way out. As soon as the teens were out of sight, the echoes of their argument on the best snacks for the next movie night barely reaching them, Dick turned to Kory again.

His hand easily finding the small of her back, guiding her gait to the door. She tried not to dwell too much on how his palm was a perfect fit to that soft dip of hers —as if it belonged there, as if it had been made for him to fill.

As it turned out, she'd all night to prove that sudden intrusive thought right. Despite Dick's reluctance to showcase too evident displays of affection in public, she'd found his hand practically nested to her back the entire evening.

Guiding her. Reaching out for her. Pulling her close.

Sure, perhaps a hand on one's back was a really small gesture, pretty mundane even. But to Richard I-bury-myself-in-ten-layers-of-awkwardness-and-introversion-when-socializing Grayson was probably quite something, not to mention when it was coupled with that keeping their relationship under wraps scenario—

Though it may have been a tad more... endearing, if that ghost of a sour mood from earlier hadn't been flickering across his face the entire night. It didn't disappear, not even when he had a few drinks on him, it only morphed into a more saddened light in his eyes —which was probably worse, because it made Kory's heart clench a bit, even if the reason behind Dick's annoyance was rather ludicrous.

Kory sipped at her glass of champagne, eyeing Dick appreciatively over the crystal rim. She tipped the glass to rest against her lips, letting the mirth and mischief simmering in her veins to curl them up. He took another step closer. His gaze, softer and softer, as he bridged the distance between them, the mellow light of the empty corridor picking up the warmer earthy hues on his hair. And his eyes.

"Gar and Rach aren't around," she quipped, a ripple to her voice when his fingers closed around her waist.

He made a soft sound in acknowledgment, hands crawling up the sides of her body, their soft brush leaving warmth behind their path, a warmth that coursed right to her chest and deep down below. Soon that familiar, delicious sensation glided against her neck, her cheeks.

It took all her willpower not to press her lips to his. Kory searched for his eyes instead, finding his gaze already shifting between hers and her mouth. Questioning thumb darting across her lower lip. But when Kory reached up to claim his mouth, she felt a gentle tug at her scalp and a surprised heaved jolt spilled from her lips.

Dick's eyes were clouded again, lined with a more precise ghost of that frustration he had showcased in the apartment. His attention went from her lips to the soft strands weaved between his fingers. He worked his lips, his frown deepening.

"It won't bounce back, will it?"

Kory giggled against his mouth for a brief moment. He wouldn't let the matter drop, would he? Perhaps she could think of something to get his mind to focus on more important and urgent matters at hand. So she did not hesitate to swallow his protest along with his exhale. The needier and hungrier she turned the kiss, the more his hands roamed over her body, trailing, slightly tightening and taunting every sensitive curve and spot he knew of.

With her pulse quickening and hammering louder and louder in her ears with each passing second, Kory wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her body into his. A wave of pleasure flushed through her when she noticed the effect the kiss was having on him —he moaned softly against her lips, his arousal brushing against her thigh.

"Still mad about my hair?" she whispered, teasing him, with his panted breathing fanning across her lips.

She got no answer. Not a verbal one at least. He picked her up in his arms and she didn't waste a second to wrap her legs around his waist.

Dick awoke with a stir, limbs still numb and clumsy from sleep, just to squeeze his eyes shut soon enough at the blinding sunlight pouring from the window. Though his slumber-fogged mind did catch the rustle of a laugh—

Fighting the covers and sheets tangled around his legs, he shifted in bed. Kory was gazing at him, her eyes ashone with the smile touching her lips. Dick muffled his groan drifting his head back down to his pillow, and even though sleep was tugging at the edges of his eyes and consciousness he did not miss the welcoming, familiar scrape of Kory's fingers raking through his hair.

Her touch alone could very well make him drift back into darkness, something he was actually not adverse to giving the way her side pressed gently against his, her warmth sinking comforting down to his very bones.

But such a thing did not, in fact, happen at all. Because soon enough Kory was thawing any remnant of tiredness away from him little by little, her warm fingers trailing his face, following the hard lines of his forehead, nose, chin. Then she meandered down to his shoulder. Sternum. Ribs. Then back up and all over again.

His eyes fluttered open. Her smile was wider now, she was gazing down at him this time, propped up on her elbow with chin resting on her palm, staring at him appreciatively from her higher vantage point. Dick found himself easing his lips into a smile, shifting again, but this time to lay on his back and get a better look at her. He reached out, touching the bronze gleams on her skin with the tips of his fingers.

Kory hummed, circling his wrist with her free hand. Staring up at him right into his eyes, she pressed a kiss to his palm. Her delicate touch made him inhale sharply, but he let the air into a long sigh, as steady as he could muster. He felt the faint brush across his skin nonetheless, and guessed her smiling against his palm.

He could have let minutes stretch into hours like this. Alone with her in his bed, softly caressing every inch of her body, letting her do the same with his, finding a solace and quiet comfort in each other. A softer, much more mundane sort of comfort than the one they had drowned into the previous night, but equally as intimate.

Dick contemplated pulling her down on top of him, hug her while he peppered her neck with kisses, coax her into staying there. With him. But before he could put that plan into action, Kory was already sliding away from his grasp and off the bed.

"Kory—" he called out for her with a huff, raising up from the sheets, his voice edging a frustrated whine he was definitely not embarrassed for.

She beamed at him over her shoulder, shrugged and continued making her way to the bathroom. Frowning, he flopped back down onto the bed with a sigh, listening to the distant pitter-patter of water against tiles. He was about to pull the covers up to his neck again when Kory's voice made him stop short—

"For a detective you sure don't get a simple hint, Grayson."

He was in the bathroom and getting soaked under the shower in the blink of an eye, pressing Kory's warm and equally soaked body against his, joining her giggling with a chuckle of his own. It was all heavy with hot air and steam, and he couldn't help but dig his fingers into her waist as he kissed her, deeper and hungrier the more choked back sound he tore from her throat.

His lead didn't last long though. Soon enough Kory was slamming him against the wall. The sharp contrast of the coldness on his back and the warmth in his chest made a shiver down run his spine. That, together with the touch of Kory's hands taunting him sent a bolt of heat straight to his groin—

But his moan morphed into a chuckle and for a flickering second he was breathless at Kory's puzzled frown.

Heaving a pant, he reached up to his face.

"Curling back," he whispered against her mouth, before letting go the strand of wet hair and brushing his thumb along her jaw. "Finally."

Kory smacked him in the chest and buried her face on the curve of his shoulder to smother her laughter. The feeling of her amusement rippling through her chest and into his sent another type of heat coursing through his entire body, down to his very toes, as water trickled down their bodies and their breath quickened with glee. Softer. Lighter. Somehow even deeper.

Determined to keep that thrill blossoming into Kory's chest and spilling from her mouth, he took advantage of the sudden diversion. He pinned her flat against the wall with one swift movement, relished in the surprised yelp that escaped her, and dropped to his knees.

"If this is the reward I get," Kory managed in between heaves and pants, "I am going to straighten my hair more often."

Dick smiled and hooked her right leg over his shoulder.