Body disposal is never easy.
Dick’s better at it. Kory’s the one who tries to avoid the bloodshed and violence, prefers the manipulative side of this business. After this, she’ll spend an extra five minutes longer than her husband roughly washing blood off her hands, and he’ll gently pull at her wrist before she scrubs her own skin off.
There is more blood on their hands than they can ever properly wash off.
She looks away as Dick pours acid over the naked corpse, stares out into the waste water pool. It’s freezing, has been for the last few nights; she makes a mental note to put extra comforters over the kids beds.
Kory helps him haul the body over, makes an effort not to gag. Dick snorts when he sees her nose wrinkle. “How are you still not used to this?”
“There’s a reason I never went to med school,” she huffs.
Dick rolls his eyes, drops the body into the shallow edge and pushes it out further.
It won’t be found any time soon. Maybe in a few weeks or months, teenagers will decide this abandoned factory is a good place to drink and cause a ruckus - they’ll have the misfortune of stumbling across a decomposing body, probably be too freaked out to alert the police, and even if they do it’s not as if the cops will have much use for a dead defector.
Kory Anders takes her false American name and looks at the stranger she is expected to call her husband.
Richard. Richard John Grayson. Objectively, he’s handsome - around her age, tall, straight features, dark eyes and brown hair that he appears to cut himself. But his mouth seems to be fixed in a downturn, forehead set in a permanent frown.
He does not know her real name, her background, her family. She does not know his. The Colonel had told them it was best they know nothing about their real lives and only the details of Kory Anders and Richard Grayson’s lives, to guarantee they would not have other versions of one another in the back of their minds.
She thought she would be fine with that. She is not sure now.
They are expected to wed, move to a strange country and raise children together. She is expected to spend decades with this man, this stranger.
She thinks, this is the price you paid. This is what you trained for.
“Your accent is good,” Kory blurts out, takes a gulp of too hot tea. It scalds her throat.
Richard raises his eyebrows, small smile crossing his lips. “As is yours. They trained you very well.”
Flatterer. Kory quirks a smile at him. “I suppose, Richard, we should get started.”
“Uh, Dick,” he rushes to say. “Call me Dick. It - it would make more sense for you to know a nickname.”
“Dick Grayson.” Kory tests the shape of his name in her mouth.
The corner of his mouth tilts up. “Kory Anders,” he teases back, and an odd thrill goes up her spine.
Perhaps this won’t be so bad.
“Guys, come on!” Dick calls. “You wanna ride to school then we gotta leave now!”
Kory finishes packing up the lunches, listens out for Rachel’s boots and Gar’s sneakers clamouring down the stairs, holds out a plate of toast when they both barrel in. “Rach, have you done your history project?”
Rachel rolls her eyes, saying “yes, mom,” around a mouthful of food and takes a folder from her school bag to show Kory.
Gar steals two more toast slices while Kory scans Rachel’s work. “Dad, don’t forget you -“
“Need to pick you up after debate club, yes, I didn’t forget.” Dick confirms.
Kory and Rachel share a look. “Remind him when he forgets,” Kory winks, grinning at Dick’s offended look and Gar’s cackle. “Now go, all of you, before you hit traffic.” She drops kisses quickly on Rachel and Gar’s foreheads, accepts one on the lips from Dick.
“You gonna be okay tonight?” He asks once the kids have been steered into the hallway, voice lowered.
Kory taps the crease between his eyebrows. “Nothing I haven’t done before,” she assures him. It won’t be a hard one, she’s certain, just information extraction from some lowly Senator she’s been working the last few weeks. “Don’t worry about me. And for the love of God, don’t order pizza tonight, there is a perfectly good lasagna to heat up.”
He doesn’t look convinced - he hates it when she has solo assignments, almost sixteen years and still hates it - but he laughs anyway. “If you’re sure.”
“Go, I’ll see you later.” Kory pushes him gently.
Dick takes her face in his hands and kisses her hard, as if he’s frightened it’ll be the last time. The look in his eyes when he pulls away makes her face heat up.
“Later.” He repeats with certainty.
He leaves before Rachel and Gar physically drag him out, and Kory stands alone in a silent kitchen, the operation running through her mind over and over again, a sliver of doubt making her stomach twist.
Three years into the mission, they lose their first child.
Kory refuses to sleep in their bed for two months, the memory of waking up to blood between her legs too much.
She sleeps on their living room sofa, Dick folding himself into the armchair beside her.
They have been trained to deal with pain and injuries, trained not to form attachments with fellow agents to be sure the loss of them does not wholly affect their ability to work.
This, though. This was a grief they were never prepared for.
Dick takes the mattress and burns it on the outskirts of town, comes home smelling of smoke with swollen and scarred knuckles. A sob escapes him as Kory is shakily cleaning limestone and concrete off his hands. It’s the first time they cry in front of one another.
As it happens, they do not find Rachel Roth - she finds them.
In the hallways of the rundown apartment building they shared, a sullen little girl with dark hair plays with broken plastic dolls and dirty plush animals, murmuring softly to herself. Any time someone leans down to talk to her, she shrinks away in terror, which Kory learned the hard way.
“Is she okay?” Dick asks quietly, stood behind Kory as she unlocks their door. Kory follows his gaze, looking sadly at the small girl staring at a picture book.
“I don’t think so,” Kory admits. “Hear the yelling?” He nods. “That’s her parents.”
Dick’s face hardens. “Wait here.”
Half expecting him to kick the girls parents door down, Kory braces herself for a fight.
But that’s not what he does. Carefully, he approaches the dark haired girl and crouches down. “Hello.”
Instantly, the girl scrambles to run.
Dick holds his hands up quickly. “Hey, it’s okay - I’m not gonna hurt you,” he says, gentler than Kory has ever heard him. The girl has stopped trying to make her escape, but she’s shaking, frightened eyes fixed on Dick.
“My name’s Dick,” Dick continues. “And that’s my wife, Kory.” He gestures back to her, and Kory waves, feeling ridiculous. “What’s your name?”
The girl still looks like a frightened deer in the headlights, eyes darting between Dick and Kory, but she sits up a little straighter and says in a very small voice, “‘M not sposed to talk to strangers.”
Dick’s chuckles shortly. “That’s good advice. And you know our names now, so we’re not strangers, right?”
Kory wants to groan. Hell of a thing to teach a kid, Dick.
It seems to work, though, because the girl frowns, considering it. She juts her chin out, still staring him down, and says, “Rachel.”
Kory sees Dick’s face break into a smile. He holds his hand out. “Nice to meet you, Rachel.”
After a wary moment, Rachel’s tiny hand becomes enveloped in his.
For the next two weeks, on their way to work and back, Dick talks to her every day. Rachel’s more reproachful of Kory, no matter how gentle she tries to be. It shouldn’t sting Kory as much as it does.
“You’d be a good father,” Kory whispers into the dark. She hears Dick shift in his armchair, reaches over to find his hand.
Dick kisses the back of her fingers. “You’ll be a good mother.” He pauses. “We both will.”
The day they see the bruises on Rachel’s arms, Kory knows what’s going to happen. One look at the rare cold fury on her husband’s face, matching the hot rage she feels, and she knows.
(The next evening, the authorities will find Angela Roth dead from an overdose and her husband with a bullet through his head. The evidence will suggest a break in - Angela coincidentally died in her sleep while her husband was trying to defend his family. Their four year old daughter ran to the safety of their neighbour’s apartment.)
Rachel has no family to take her in, so Dick and Kory offer to. Her first night there, she crawls into the bed they haven't slept in for months, curls up on Dick’s chest and trembles until she falls asleep.
Kory watches them silently, Dick’s hand absently rubbing Rachel’s back and his eyes fixed upwards. Looking at him, you wouldn’t think he’d killed a man three days ago. Wouldn’t think Kory had, either. She supposes that’s the point.
She clears her throat to make him look at her. “I contacted the Center,” she says quietly. “They said they’d be willing to - organise something, for her. Us.”
Dick stares at her, arm tightening around Rachel like a reflex. “You - you want -”
Kory shifts herself up onto her elbow. “You’ve been thinking it, too.”
“Kory.” He looks torn, half desperate and half afraid. “Are you sure? After…” he trails off.
She refuses to look away. “I’m sure if you are. Even if it wasn’t the plan.”
“Little left field.” He’s smiling now.
Dick goes silent, looks down at the little girl asleep on his chest. With one hand he strokes Rachel’s hair; the other he reaches over and squeezes Kory’s hand. “Okay,” he exhales. “Yeah. Yes. We can do this.”
Kory face hurts, she smiles so wide. “We can do this,” she repeats. A reassurance, a promise.
Rachel is small, traumatised and frightened of everything, but she tries to reach out to them in ways only a four year old can think of - crayon drawings, mostly, that she shyly presents to both Dick and Kory. Their refrigerator becomes her tiny art gallery.
She imprints on Dick, latches onto him entirely, won’t let anyone but him close enough to touch her. At night, she sleeps between Dick and Kory, tiny hands gripping them both hard as if she’s frightened they’ll disappear.
The morning that marks three months since all the appropriate paperwork had been filed officially naming Rachel their daughter, Kory is in their kitchen, stitching up a bullet graze on her shoulder when Rachel stumbles in, rubbing her eyes.
“Rachel,” Kory hurries to hide what she’s doing, hopes Rachel is young enough not to remember this. “Sweetie, go back to bed.”
Rachel blinks. “You’re hurt?”
Kory pats the graze with antiseptic, trying not to cringe. “Just a scratch, don’t worry.”
Rachel mouths scratch carefully, and before Kory can blink Rachel is suddenly stood at her feet and hugging her legs.
Kory is frozen, no idea what to do because this is the closest Rachel as ever been to her. Rachel doesn’t budge, head resting on Kory’s knees.
Tentative, like trying not to startle a frightened animal, Kory reaches for her, too.
She closes the basement door with a soft click, too loud in the quiet. Dick doesn’t react, sat with his head bowed, whole body tense.
Kory doesn’t know what to say, where to start. She stays with her back against the door. “Tell me,” she says softly.
Dick forces himself to sit up. His face is wet. “Tell you what?” He bites out, and Kory glares at him.
“They were my friends too, Dick,” she snaps back, tears filling her eyes. “Don’t you dare lash out on me, not now. Talk to me, please.”
“I know, I’m sorry, I just -” Dick runs a hand over his face, exhales painfully. “I keep thinking about that kid, Kory. He had no fucking idea what Hank and Dawn were - who they were and -” he swallows.
“Johnny’s gonna be fine, he doesn’t know anything, they’ll settle him somewhere safe.” Kory doesn’t know if she’s reassuring him or herself. “You’re wondering about Gar and Rachel.”
Dick tips his head back, so Kory moves closer, leans against the table and runs a hand through his hair.
“If Gar and Rachel were in Johnny’s shoes -”
“That’ll never happen.”
“We don’t know that. One of our sources, informers, hell, the Center themselves -”
“Dick,” Kory sighs, sitting on the desk. “Even - even if. They’re not stupid. Gar is smarter than anyone, he can talk people in circles - he can think them in circles. And Rach, she’s young, but she’s got more wits than most kids her age.” She stops, takes in the full weight of what she’s saying - God, this is bad. “They’re gonna be fine.”
In truth, she doesn’t think it’ll ever be fine again. Every time she thinks about Hank and Dawn, - the only other agents in the field they’d known, their tiny support system, the only people other than one another Dick and Kory could talk to about anything - every time she remembers they’re dead, it feels like a tether has been cut inside of her.
Kory doesn’t think she would have been friends with either of them, under any other circumstances. It was situational, because of who they are, what they did, their mission.
But she thinks about all the times she and Dawn sat on the bonnet of their cars and talked about their children, complained about their husbands, marvelled at how different everything in America is compared to back home - a home they’re not sure they even miss anymore - and Kory barely holds back a sob.
“One day it’s coming,” Dick murmurs. “You know it is.”
Kory can’t bare answering.
Two years after their relocation to DC, Kory brings it up.
Dick’s still peeling off his disguise, loose hair piece hanging ridiculously at the side of his face as he looks at her in surprise. Kory tsks and pulls it off.
“Adoption?” He echoes. “Again?”
Kory arches an eyebrow, tossing her own wig into the trunk. “Why the surprise? It’s how we got Rachel.”
“You know what I mean.”
She does. The risk, the uncertainty, another mouth to feed and keep safe. They got Rachel through the Center, adopting another kid through official channels could be dangerous. Except -
“Do you want another kid?” She asks him plainly.
Dick looks at her, and she sees the answer in his eyes. “Yeah,” he breathes. “I really, really do.”
Something giddy rises in her, smile curling her lips. “Me too.”
They share that smile for a moment until Dick looks away. “The Center might not like it.”
The Center can go fuck themselves, Kory doesn’t say. “Well unless the Center can make me unbarren, they’re gonna have to deal with it.”
“Hey.” Dick’s voice softens, but Kory waves him off. She’d reconciled not being able to get pregnant a while ago. And it’s not like it matters, because she loves Rachel fiercely, because Rachel is their daughter.
Altogether, it takes six months for the adoption agency to match them with a child, after checks, registration, training and assessment. Through it all, they’re still given missions - they end up hiding a fair share of bruises and broken bones in meetings with social workers, some worse than others.
They present themselves as a middle-class, working couple; she’s a realtor and he's a college professor with a six year old daughter they so kindly took in after their neighbours in San Francisco died. There’s a tense few weeks of the agency looking into Rachel’s adoption, anxiety that spills into their missions. Dick breaks his hand after almost beating a guy half to death.
“You’re an idiot,” Kory grits out, angrily tightening the bandage around Dick’s wrist.
“You’re distracted and letting your emotions cloud your judgement.”
“Kory, I know.” Dick winces, pulling his hand back. “I’m sorry, alright? It was a rookie mistake, won’t happen again.”
“Won’t it?” Kory hisses. “Because I’ve seen you angry, and this was something else.” She pauses, takes a deep breath. “I’m scared too, you know. She’s my daughter as well.”
Dick brushes her cheek. “I know, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He pulls her in, securing his arms around her as if he can keep them both from falling apart.
Kory huffs into his shoulder, presses tightly against him. “I don’t want to lose her, either,” she whispers, voice breaking. Or you.
“I won’t let them,” he swears, rubbing her back. “Okay? I won’t let anyone take her away from us.” He pulls back as he says it, punctuates his words by staring into her eyes.
The lump in her throat prevents her from answering. All she can do is nod and sinks back into his arms.
Garfield Logan is eight years old and achingly shy, hides behind the social worker the first time they meet him. They had been told that his former foster mother, Rita, died in a toxic waste incident eighteen months ago.
He’s as jumpy as Rachel was, but he seems to take to Kory, always seems to be behind or beside her when she’s cooking or cleaning. Dick calls him her shadow, cautiously pats Gar’s shoulder. He’s not quite there with Dick, not yet, skirts around him like a scared animal. It’s a one-day-at-a-time thing.
The weekend Gar carefully approaches Dick asking for help with his Math homework, Kory almost laughs at her husbands barely contained glee. They’re at the kitchen table for almost three hours before Gar finally seems to realise Dick is awful at Math. Kory ends up helping him finish it, but Dick is still over the moon.
Gar owns more comics than anything else, and it’s the first thing he and Rachel bond over. More than one evening goes by of the two of them lying on the sitting room floor, array of comics spread out between them, Gar talking a mile a minute about every superhero and supervillain featured in them, Rachel’s eyes huge listening to him.
Dick nudges Kory under the table, beneath her paperwork and his essay gradings. He raises his eyebrows, head tilted towards the kids, their kids. She smiles.
Their lives and their work have become dangerously intertwined. They kill men with barely a thought, dispose of the bodies and kiss their children goodnight an hour later, spend long nights on stakeouts with guns in their hands and make it back home in time for breakfast, become entirely different people. There are so many versions of the two of them; the realtor and the college professor, the father and mother, husband and wife, two agents undercover, the lovers.
Kory wonders, sometimes, how different their version of love is from what is considered - normal, the kind they watch in Hallmark movies, the kind she remembers between her parents.
She is certain that she loves Dick Grayson. She is certain he loves her, even if they have never said the words out loud. But she believes, for them, love is an obscure thing; their version of love is a creation of their work - hell, their whole lives. Even from the start, when they were paired together, they were informed that any sort of attachment to one another, while preferable, was not necessary. They were disillusioned enough not to care - something so fickle was of no import, not with the mission.
Kory asked Dick, once, the morning after a mission ends bloody and they were cleaning red off themselves. She was sitting on the corner of the bathtub, wrapped in a towel and watching him shave. She asked him if they were only circumstantial; if they were other people in another life, would they have even looked twice at one another?
“I would have,” he’d said quietly, pearl handled razor half-raised. It’s not said to comfort or reassure her - it’s said as a fact. As though loving her is a fact of his very existence.
Kory hopes she would look, too.
Because even if they only found each other this way, under these risky circumstances were they don’t even know each others real names, Kory loves him with all of that and every overlooked gesture, silent act of respect. Loves him for his brutal honesty and humble apologies, his off-key singing, steady hands tending to her injuries, every poke and pat and hug. Loves him for every one of his bad habits that makes her throw her hands up in despair and say For fucks sake, Grayson.
She believes their kind of love is unspoken, tolerant, a spectrum.
It seemed like an easy assignment, on paper. Retrieve the vial from their insider, get it to their handler to send home.
It wasn’t supposed to get them quarantined in Jillian’s barely furnished apartment, Dick white-knuckling over a toilet vomiting the lining of his stomach up.
Kory sits in the bathroom doorway, desperate to touch him and hating that she can’t. All she can do is pray to God’s she stopped believing in a long time ago that Jillian’s vaccine works.
Dick coughs roughly, shakily wipes his mouth. He slumps back, breathing shallow.
“You look like shit,” Kory comments, trying to lighten the mood, trying not to think about how he could be dead in the next twenty hours.
Dick laughs weakly. “Thanks.” He shuts his eyes. “You call the kids?”
“Yeah. Gar, at least, Rach was asleep. Donna’s gonna check in on them. They -” she bites her lip hard, attempts to keep the panic out of her voice. “Told them you had an emergency meeting with some sponsors in Baltimore, I’m heading up with files.” Not her best lie, but they hadn’t had enough time to come up with a better one. “He’s worried, and she’s gonna be annoyed we had to cancel the Epcot trip.”
“We can go next week.” He looks at her, then, and the weight of all he’s not saying hurts her chest. If I live through this.
“Don’t you dare die on me,” Kory’s saying before she can stop herself.
Dick sighs. “Kory -”
“No.” She’s half pleading, half ordering. “I -” I love you, don’t make me do this without you, don’t leave us and our children like this, is what she doesn’t say, what she doesn’t have to say. One look and he knows.
“If something happens to me -”
“Kory,” he stops her, sharp and soft. “If something happens to me - you take Gar and Rachel and you run.”
Kory’s mouth dries out.
They’ve talked about it, defecting - the first year they had Rachel, when Gar started high school, after Hank and Dawn were killed. In hushed moments of vulnerability when it all feels too much - it’s always too much.
Dick passes out not long after, sweating and shivering on Jillian’s cot bed. Kory’s too jittery to rest, wants desperately to call Gar and Rachel and reassure them that everything’s fine, that they’ll be home soon.
“How long have the two of you been doing this?” Jillian asks from an old armchair, watching Kory adjust Dick’s blankets for the thousandth time.
Kory straightens up. “Almost sixteen years.”
“Long time. Children?”
Kory clears her throat, sits back down. “Yeah, two. Boy and girl.”
Jillian peers at her. “And is everything alright with them?”
Kory sighs, suddenly feeling drained. “Most of the time,” she says quietly. “They’re not stupid, and they’re old enough now to start getting suspicious, ask questions. I see it on their faces every time we come home after something.” She looks down at her hands, fidgets.
“You don’t want them involved.” It’s not a question.
Kory levels her gaze with Jillian’s. “I’d rather die.”
She must doze off in the small hours of the morning, because suddenly she’s being jerked awake by Dick falling off the cot. She’s out of her seat and hauling him back up in a second.
He blinks at her, delirious with fever. “I need to- the kids-”
“Hey, they’re fine, but you’re sick, alright, you need to get back up.” Kory touches his face, combs a hand through his hair in a hasty attempt to soothe him.
Dick goes slack, head lolling back. His breathing is shallow, too fast. Kory’s hands shake trying to drag him back up, panicked sob caught in her throat. She can’t afford to fall apart, not now.
“Dick, listen, I need you to breathe and I need you to get up, think you could help me out here?” She begs, cradling his face.
He’s looking at her, seeing nothing, but something must break through his resolve because he takes a gulping breath and co-operates in being manhandled back onto the cot. Kory makes him drink half a glass of water for good measure.
Kory thinks he’s asleep, turns away when he grabs her fingers and mumbles something in a language she doesn’t recognise.
She frowns, leans back in. “What?” But Dick’s fast asleep.
“I believe that was adje mansa,” Jillian offers from behind her. It sounds stilted rolling off her tongue. “Did your husband travel with Roma in his youth?”
“He was in a circus,” Kory says softly, studying Dick’s sleeping face. "His parents were acrobats." It’s one of the few things he’d told her about his past. “Did you understand that?”
Jillian clears her throat. “Adje mansa. Stay with me*.”
“Did Gar ask you about -” Dick gestures upwards.
Kory looks up from her magazine, eyebrows raised. “Does that translate as wanting to dye his hair? Because yes, he asked me.”
“What did you say?”
“As long as I don’t get an angry letter from his principle, he can do what he likes with it.”
“Good.” Dick climbs into bed beside her. “I said I’d go with him to look at those temporary ones, y’know, scope out what colour he likes best.”
Kory smiles. “Take Rachel, too.”
“Was going to anyway.” Dick winks. Kory notes how tired he looks. She’s probably the same.
He turns the lamp off and they settle in, she’s drifting off, facing him when his voice pulls her back.
“Have you thought about it?”
Kory cracks an eye open. “‘Bout what?”
“What I said at Jillian’s.”
“You said a lot at Jillian’s, not all of it coherent.” Stay with me.
He’s silent for so long Kory thinks he’s fallen asleep, until he whispers, “Defecting.”
Kory swears her heart skips a beat. She thought he’d forgotten. “Have you?” She deflects.
She feels him roll onto his back and sigh heavily. “Sometimes. I don’t know. It’s -” he pauses. “I can’t compartmentalise it, not like I used to. You can’t, either.”
Kory doesn’t disagree - she’s never been able to compartmentalise it. “If you’re asking me,” she says steadily, “where my loyalties lie, it is with you and this family before anything else.”
It’s the most dangerous thing she’s ever said to him, could get her killed, could get them all killed if he said anything to their handlers. But in sixteen years, she bets she knows him well enough to know he won’t.
“We can’t talk about this.” His tone is urgent.
“You brought it up.”
“Listen to me.” She grabs his hands, squeezes hard. “I love you,” her voice shakes. “I love you more than I care about the damn mission and the Center. And I think you do, too.”
Dick’s breathing hard, nails digging into her hand. “Our home -”
Kory laughs, bitterly. “We haven’t seen our home in sixteen years. It doesn’t mean anything to me, not anymore. It hasn’t for a long time.” She knows her hold on his hands is properly hurting him, but he needs to understand. “You, Rachel and Gar - you are my home. This is our home.”
There is a terrible moment in the following silence, listening to him breathing and all at once frightened of him rejecting her, rejecting this. She can feel his heartbeat through his hands.
“They’ll kill us. If they ever find out, they’ll kill us,” is all he says, but it’s enough. Enough to know he feels the same.
Kory moves her hands up, lays one on his cheek. “They can try.”
The final nail in the coffin doesn’t come until a year later, right before summer.
Rumours of a secondary programme had been around for a while, but as far as Dick and Kory were aware there was no real weight to them.
Until Donna Troy dies.
It almost sends them off the rails, Dick especially; Kory knows he and Donna became close during training when they first joined the Center, she was like his sister. When she’d finally been stationed out with them, it’s the first time Kory had seen Dick genuinely happy, just knowing Donna was there.
It’s more than a personal loss - it’s like losing a limb.
The investigation goes nowhere, seems it’ll stay that way. Right up until the moment Donna’s son pulls a gun on Dick in their own house.
“What, you’re saying the Center is recruiting agents kids?” Kory asks in disbelief. Dick hasn’t said a word, tense against the kitchen door frame the whole time Alfred has been talking.
“I assure you, if I had known I would have put an end to it myself,” Alfred sighs.
“Robert killed Donna,” Dick says darkly, “because she wouldn’t let him join the Center.”
“How did someone get to him first without Donna or any of us knowing?” Kory demands. “Losing Donna couldn’t have been their intention, she’s - she was one of their best.”
“Ms Troy had no intention of allowing Robert to join, so the Center attempted to secure him themselves.” Alfred looks warier than Kory’s ever seen him. “Which, I’m afraid, leaves you with bigger problems.”
Kory glances at Dick, frowning. “What do you mean?”
“The Center wants Garfield.”
“Over my dead fucking body.” Dick’s reaction is immediate, anger propelling him forward. Kory grabs his arm.
“Our children are off limits, we have made that very clear.” Kory feels like she’s going to throw up, hand gripping Dick’s sleeve.
“Would you like my advice?” Alfred continues.
“Something tells me we’re getting it anyway.” Dick slumps into the chair beside Kory.
“You have these few months. Gather what you need, take your children, and run.”
Kory stares at him. “Alfie,” she says slowly, “are you telling us to defect?”
“I have been your handler for almost two decades, Mrs Grayson. The job was never supposed to be forever. You two, most of all, have suffered and lost the most. You and your children deserve a chance at freedom.”
They drive home in stunned silence, the reality of what they’re planning to do sinking in. Kory sinks down onto the sofa, arms wrapped around her knees. Dick sits on the coffee table.
“What’s your name?” Kory asks.
Dick looks up, startled. “What?”
“My -” he scoffs. “Where’s this coming from?”
“If we’re about to go on the run and abandon everything we know, I don’t want anymore secrets between us.” She just needs to know. Needs something real.
Dick stares at her for a long minute, opens his mouth several times before settling on some sort of an answer. “The only name I have that matters is the one you know, Kory. That’s the most important one.”
They move to Canada a month later.
It’s sudden. Rachel and Gar aren’t happy. The Center even less. They try to send a message, promising their silence. All they ask is to be left alone in exchange for the seventeen years of intel they provided. They will not be coming home. They’re done.
They hear through the grapevine that Alfred is hauled into questioning, and for two dreaded months they think he’s dead.
Three agents die trying to watch them. They send the fourth back with a message; stop or we kill them all.
The last thing they hear from Alfred is a message simply saying they are protected. It’s six months before they actually start to believe that.
For how much they wanted out of the life, they struggle to settle into a purely domestic life. Kory bakes, Dick goes to the gym. Too much restless energy coupled with paranoia of being watched makes for a very high strung household. If the Rachel and Gar notice, they don’t say anything.
Dick and Kory will tell them the whole story, in time, when both Gar and Rachel are in college, and it will take a very long time for them to fully understand and completely forgive them.
Grar’s the first to talk to them, comes home one weekend with more questions than Dick or Kory have answers to.
“Were we just a cover?” He asks quietly, not meeting Dick’s eyes. “Me and Rach, taking us in.”
“No,” Dick says sharply. “No. Don’t you ever think that.”
“Gar, we love you,” Kory tells him gently. “You have every right to be mad at us right now, but never, ever think you’re anything less than our son.”
Gar drums his fingers on his knee, anxiety rolling off him in waves. “Love you, too,” he manages. “Rachel, she does, it’s just - everything -”
“We know, sweetie. We’ll be here for you both when she’s ready.”
He stays the night, helps Kory clear up the kitchen and put dishes away.
“Do you miss it?”
Gar shrugs. “Wherever it is you came from - you don’t need to tell me where, just - do you miss it?”
Kory considers, hands him a plate to put away. “I miss parts of it,” she admits. “My brother, most of all. But he got out years ago. There hasn’t been anything there for me in a long time.”
“Brother?” Gar repeats, surprised. “We have an uncle?”
Kory grins. “And an aunt, but you wouldn’t want to meet her.”
Gar shakes his head.
She thinks about that first year, newly married to a stranger, living in a strange land.
Dick had asked her on one of their first stakeouts, grimacing at American coffee, under the blanket of night, a promise of privacy that what they said here would not be repeated.
Do you miss it? He had asked in their native tongue. The Motherland?
Kory had answered in kind, perhaps the first honest thing she said to him. No, Richard, she told him. She was no mother to me.