This is a really long chapter...long for me, anyway...
"Mari? Oh, my little bumgorf, you haven't left the house for ages. You look tired. Are you alright?" asked Kori, concerned. Mari blushed as Richard glanced over.
"I'm fine, just...thinking. I just...don't...um, I mean...I don't want to leave now that we're all back together?" she said. She found that her parents bought every cheesy thing she said, though it humiliated her to no end to say it.
"Mari, go out tonight. Have fun. We'll be here when you get back," Kori said, smiling.
"But what about the wedding plans? It's in a week! Don't you need help?" she asked, wanting more than anything to stay away from the outside world.
"We'll be fine, Mari. Really. Besides, you've been more a nuisance than a help. Your mind is always elsewhere." She kissed her daughter on the forehead and Richard on the lips before leaving the room. Richard watched as she left, a dazed look on her face. Mari had never seen anyone so hopelessly in love. When Kori was out of sight, Richard turned to her. Just by the look in his eyes, Mari knew he figured out why she didn't want to venture outside. She changed the subject before it began.
"What are you writing?" she asked.
Richard grimaced. "Food. We have to incorporate Gar, Vic, Rachel, and Kori. It's difficult." Mari laughed.
"You should get food from the hospital. I heard it's good."
"Sure. We'll have IV tubes there for the water, too."
Mari laughed again. "You never told us about the hospital, Richard." Big mistake.
"I don't remember any of it. I was always thinking about you two...when I wasn't unconscious." He gazed at her strangely. "It's funny how when you mess up with someone you love, your mind won't focus on anything but that."
Mari, slightly paranoid, took a step back. "I don't!"
"Don't love Dylan!"
"I never said anything about Dylan, Mari," said Richard, grinning. Mari plopped into a chair and groaned, burying her head in her hands. When she looked up, Richard was still smirking slightly.
"Okay, maybe I like him. A little bit."
"I messed up so bad! We were just talking, and then he said 'they need you to help them, Mari' and I said 'well I can't do that by myself' and he said 'well then I'll be there to help' and then he..."
"Aren't you supposed to be the overprotective parent who puts a stop to any sort of interaction between his daughter and any guy?" she asked flatly. Richard chuckled.
"Definately not. After what happened to me? I'm not stopping you, all I'm asking for is to meet the guy--Dylan--and make sure he isn't some fling that's gonna last two days."
"WHO SAID IT WAS DYLAN?"
Mari threw her hands up in the air. "I give up."
"Good. You never did tell me what he did after that," said Richard.
"You know, I do have both parents now. You don't have to take the part of my mom."
"I'm not. Kori's never going to ask you, so I'm never going to find out unless I ask you myself. What did he do?"
Mari rubbed her eyes and glanced at her watch. "Oh, will you look at the time? Gotta jet." She was about to leave the room when Richard grabbed her arm and sat her down. He put down his pen and gave her his undivided attention.
"It can't have been that bad."
Mari looked away. "Well, maybe it was. Look, he's really confused right now. I'm not taking anything he does as what he really wants to do. His girlfriend broke up with him, and he was really mad, something about that fact that he wasn't mad at the fact that she dumped him."
"Confused is an understatement."
"Tell me about it. Then, he just kisses me. And the worst part is, I know he didn't mean it. I don't want to see him, because he'll just tell me about what a big mistake that was and he never meant it. And then, maybe ten minutes before you came home for the first time, he kissed me again, that's what was telling you about before. And now I just don't know. I mean, he obviously doesn't care enough to come and sort things out."
"He could be thinking the same thing, and he's probably more embarrassed about it than you are." He had a point.
"I guess," she said tentatively. She got up. "I have work tomorrow. But, thanks, Richard. Really."
He smiled at her, but she saw a flash of something else. She hadn't called him "dad." Maybe she should start.
"Mom, are you ready?" asked Mari for the millionth time. Kori smiled and touched her arm.
"Mari, I've been ready for twenty-three years. You are more nervous than I!" she laughed. Kori looked gorgeous. It was her wedding day, and, dressed in all white, her hair and eyes and skin seemed more vivid and full of life and color. Her jewelery was simple, but made her look all the more beautiful. Her dress whispered and flounced around her. For good measure, Kori jumped and spun in it, making it flare out. She laughed, and Mari caught the happiness in the air, laughing as well. Kori hugged her.
"Mari, I...you are the most wonderful daughter in the world. Thank you so much for bringing Richard to me again," she said. Mari pulled away, smiling.
"You'd have done the same for me. I think everyone's waiting, though." Kori nodded, not in the least nervous. Mari was sure Richard could have turned up in a mini-skirt and Kori would not have minded.
Mari smoothed out imaginary wrinkles in her sapphire-colored dress and walked into the crowd. Kori had insisted on her being the "girl of flowers," but she had point-blank refused. After all, there were people in the crowd (coughDylancough) that she would do much better to avoid.
And so the wedding proceeded. Mari cursed at herself for not being able to pay attention to her own parents. She was constantly looking for Dylan, oblivious to anything but her search. The priest mumbled something about kissing the bride, and that was all she saw: Richard pulling up the veil to reveal a so-happy-it-was-brightening-up-the-whole-room Kori before he kissed her. The crowd gathered (consisting mostly of former Teen Titans that Vic had managed to call in) cheered so loud the hall actually shook.
The reception was unlike anything Mari had imagined. It was held in a beautiful hall with a stage, and on that stage was a seperate table for the bride and groom. behind that table was a wall, but there was a medium-sized square cut away to show a whispering waterfall. The entire room was bathed in pinkish-orange light from the ceiling, and tables dotted the room except for a large floor in the middle, just in front of the stage. The best part, or so Mari thought, was the single, huge chandelier in the room. Mari had never been able to place why she loved chandeliers so much, especially ones that looked like it was raining bright diamonds. This one was crafted like the braches and leaves of a weeping willow tree, with little glass shards that not only reflected the light inside of the chandelier, but also the colored lights, making it look like it was giving off rays, like a setting sun. For what seemed like forever, Mari could only stare at it in awe.
Richard and Kori were already seated, talking quietly and holding hands. Kori was blushing at something, and Richard looked out at the people, smiled, and leaned closer to her to talk. Mari felt a stab of jealousy. Just seeing them together...it didn't seem like she would ever find someone like that. Someone who'd give up everything for her readily, who feared so much for her protection their mind completely left them. The only love life you've ever been involved in is your parents', and even that didn't work out! Now one of them's in a freaking coma and the other one's insane! Dylan's words rang through her head, and her happy facade dropped for a second. He was right. She was hopeless.
Well, at least one thing had worked out.
Soft, mushy love music, which Mari and her mother had always hated, started to play. Richard stood up and offered a hand to Kori, saying something that made her giggle and blush again. She gave him her hand, and he pulled her on to the floor. As they slow-danced, Mari wondered if perhaps she wasn't as hopeless as she had originally thought. Her jealousy and bitterness faded away. Watching her parents together would make anyone happy, leave aside themselves. It was a perfect picture.
In her dreamy state, she didn't notice someone walk up beside her until he spoke. "Mari?"
She jerked out of her trance, turning her head toward him. She tried not to groan. He was the last person she wanted to see right now. "Dylan. Hi."
He looked uncomfortable and pulled at his collar. "Mom made me wear a tux, even though dad said I'd look fine in jeans. She got mad." Enough said.
Mari didn't feel like making conversation. She went back to watching her parents. Her mother had started to cry with happiness, and Richard was chuckling gently, wiping away her tears. Mari felt tears in her eyes as well, but refused to let them fall. Dylan cleared his throat.
"Mari, we need to talk."
Mari avoided his gaze, but tried to make her expression as indifferent as possible. "About what?"
Dylan sighed, running a hand through his long hair. "Mari, you don't have to make this harder than it already is." She turned around, glaring at him. If looks could kill
"Well, let me make it easy for you. I don't know what you're getting at, and whatever it is, though I have absolutely no idea what it is, I don't care, even though I don't know what it is." Dylan raised an eyebrow.
"You know. And you're telling me you don't care because...?"
"Because I don't. I think I made it obvious when I didn't kiss you back. Seeing as it's too hard for you, though, let's just forget it."
Dylan grinned mischievously. "And who said that's what I was talking about?"
Mari exploded. "Stop playing games with me, Dylan! Just spit it out already!"
But Dylan wasn't done. "I thought you didn't want to hear it?"
That was the last straw. Mari glared at him one last time and walked away. A crowd of couples had started to assemble on the dance floor, and Mari pushed her way through it. She felt Dylan grab her arm.
"Geez, Mari, I was just joking."
She whirled around to face him. "If you had been paying attention to absolutely anything these last few weeks, you would know this is not something to joke about. Look at my parents. Do you think I want something like that to happen to me?"
"I never said it would!"
"Yeah, well, it could! And I'm sick and tired of being your little...plaything! That day when your girlfriend broke up with you..."
"What about it?"
"How could you possibly be so dense? You kissed me for absolutely no reason, and I try to help you, and then you insult me and my family! Explain that!"
Dylan gazed calmly at her. "I can't. I don't know what I was thinking then. You wanna recreate the situation? Then I'll be able to tell you why I did what I did."
"I AM NOT YOUR GIRLFRIEND!"
He laughed. "You sound like my mom when she's angry. Except nothing exploded. Hey, you know your eyes glow when you're mad?" Mari gave a strangled yell of exasperation before turning away. I hate him! I hate him, I hate him, I hate him, I hate him! Why does he have to be so frustrating? Or so funny? Or so smart? WHY AM I SMILING? I'M SUPPOSED TO BE MAD!
"I knew I could make you smile. When I count to three, you'll start laughing. One..."
Mari didn't know why in the world she was so happy. Before he got to "two," she had cracked up. He smiled affectionately at her and grabbed her by the waist. "Let's go dance." It wasn't a command, but she went along with it anyway.
Richard looked over at Mari and Dylan, smiling. He nudged Kori and pointed. She giggled. "I have been thinking about that for a while now. But they never actually looked like they were anymore than best friends..."
"Maybe..." grinned Richard. Kori gasped.
"What did you do?"
"Nothing! I swear! He told me about his little...crush, if you will, and I just gave him a nudge in the right direction. Do you think I would hurt Mari? Don't tell me I haven't had experience in the field of ignorant best friends."
Kori laughed and Richard held her closer. "No, I suppose I can say nothing about that."
Mari picked up her purse, about to go pick up Dylan so they could carpool to work. It was about a week after the wedding. Richard sat on the couch with Kori, talking to her in a low voice. Kori shook her head and glanced in Mari's direction. Mari raised her eyebrows. "Something you guys want to tell me about?"
Richard cleared his throat nervously. "Well, I was thinking...I wanted us to move into Wayne Manor. It's been really quiet there with Alfred and Bruce gone, but I just think..." Mari brightened.
"Really? It's humongous! And right next to the Gotham Times! When are we moving?" Richard and Kori looked at her, surprised.
"Are you sure you want to, Mari? We've been in this house forever, and it will be away from Rachel and Gar and..." Kori said uncomfortably. She still hadn't gotten used to the idea that her daughter was dating her best friend's son.
"Actually, I thought about that, too. See, like I said, it'll be pretty quiet. So we can ask Gar and Rachel and Dylan and Vic if they'd want to stay, too. It'd be like old days, you know?" Richard said. He glanced over to Mari and gave a little half-smile. "But with kids."
Kori first checked with Mari for approval, and then squealed and hugged Richard. "I love you."
"I love you more," he answered, grinning, before he kissed her. Mari politely turned away, shaking her head. They acted even younger than her.
Kori seperated herself from Richard after a few seconds. "I suppose lunch will not make itself." She pecked him on the lips one last time and left for the kitchen. Mari picked up the keys. The calender caught her eye. She glanced at Richard, who was now reading the newspaper.
"Hey, Dad?" she asked. Richard started, still adjusting to that title. Then he smiled widely. He had done that the last few times she had called him that, too.
She took a deep breath, the thought of what she was about to say unfamiliar, but something she had missed out on her whole life.
"Happy Father's Day."
It's done! So, what do you think? I already know Richard was a little OOC, and that the wedding scene was horrible. (I've never been to a wedding, does it show? LOL) But besides that...