When Dick awoke, the Tower was still asleep; nothing except the hum of the heating system making a stir.
So when he sauntered into the kitchen area, in full training attire, he was surprised to find Kory there.
She had her robed back to him as she stared into empty space, and her fingers were curled loosely around a cup of coffee on the marble island.
For several moments, Dick just stood there. Should he proceed into the kitchen area? Or should he back out for later? It was 4.37 in the morning anyway. Too early for even him to be up and training.
Besides, Kory needed space. Or at least he told himself that.
Dick had not plucked the courage to face her since Donna’s funeral, but the need to talk still burned in his chest; crowded his mind till it became impossible to think of anything else.
Kory’s sleek curls bounced as she whirled around, her hand to her heart, and suddenly Dick was melting. Under the full power of her blazing, green-eyed gaze he stood no chance of escape.
“You gave me a fright!”
“I didn’t mean to…” Dick trailed off, his eyes doing an unprecedented sweep down Kory’s frame. He spotted something lacy—a dark purple shade—beneath her robe; and now he felt like a jerk for noticing. “I’m sorry,” he swallowed.
“Can I get you anything?” Kory offered, oblivious. Also probably preoccupied.
“A coffee’s fine.”
Quietly, Dick observed Kory fetch a mug from the utensil cupboard. By the time she was tipping the coffee pot over his mug, though, some courage had finally returned to him.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
It was stupid, he knew. They had been all but fine lately and Kory, specifically, had been worse off.
Dawn had told him: how Kory had lost her powers, how she seemed abnormally closed off as if she were hiding a confidential report from state intelligence or something.
But Dick did not need to be told. He knew Kory’s body well, and it could tell him no lies: the lag in how Kory moved, her diverting of eye contact when he looked her way, the not-really-there smiles she flashed in the presence of others just to keep their concern at bay. Everything was wrong with her, and he thought he knew why.
“Kory,” something lead-heavy dropped on Dick’s stomach as he locked eye contact with her, “the disappearing act I pulled on you, Rachel and Gar—”
“Dick, don’t,” Kory cut in with a sigh.
But Dick was not about to let his only chance go. “No, I’ve been an asshole. I’d have said I have Bruce to blame but it’s really all me.”
The silence on Kory’s end stretched for several, anguished seconds; and the suspense of what that meant drove Dick crazy. So when a smile curved into her right cheek, he became confused.
“Someone ever told you, Grayson,” Kory said, “how you beat yourself up too much?”
She cast his coffee and hers aside, ready for him as he was trying to be for her. Their talk was long overdue after all, but Dick guessed with a tower full of broken links and grieving members it had been easier to ignore Kory—if just to avoid the big ‘I-told-you-so’ she would give him.
“I’ve caused all this,” Dick insisted.
“And I’m over it, but it’s not you, Dick.”
“So what is it?” Dick was desperate to know, because being left off the hook did not matter more than doing what…all…it took to bring that sunny smile back to Kory Ander’s face.
“There’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you,” Kory exhaled. “I don’t think it can wait any longer.”
Dick shoved his hands into his pockets, hoping that along with them, his nerves would follow: hidden from Kory’s view.
The last time Kory and he had talked, like really talked, it was to find out that she was not from this planet; and that her primary mission on Earth had been to ‘kill’ Rachel.
Kory exhaled so hard that air hissed through her nostrils. Slowly, while she twisted an imaginary ring around her jewelry-free finger, she began: “You’ve figured out what you’re going to be. So it’s only fair I tell you who I am.” She stopped to fully take Dick in, and never had he felt more scared and uncertain than he was there. “What I was before all of this.”
END OF CHAPTER 1