Disclaimer: I don't own the Titans.

Author's Note: Set in the E'ara universe between Orange Coloured Cliffs and Locked Hearts. A snapshot of Dick and Kori's trip home.

'D'anthe l'ani' means 'Keeper of my heart' in Tamaranian.

Also, once again, I'm Australian. Spelling and slang is different.

Chocolateoverlander (aka Katergator) has done the most marvelous picture on deviantart of the Titans in xhandal gear. Link is on my author's page. She's also done a picture inspired by this story.

Edited June 2010 - Review and changes of grammar and spelling.


Chocolate and Strawberries

The sun dipped lower into the sky, peeking through grey clouds.

The lonely road curved its way through hilly pinelands. Tall majestic evergreen pines arched toward the heavens, their branches burdened with snow. Every now and then there was a break in the forest and a hilly paddock filled with sheep appeared. A light snowfall floated down from the grey sky above.

A small flock of sheep and trotted their away along the deserted road, herded by a man on horseback and two sheepdogs.

The roar of a motorcycle sounded in the distance.

The horseman whistled for his dogs, calling for them to herd the sheep off the road.

The roar of the motorcycle got louder, before the motorcycle rounded one of the many corners along this stretch of road and saw the sheep trekking along. There was almost an instant decrease in noise as the bike slowed.

The horseman urged his horse to the middle of the road, making sure to keep between the sheep and the bike, not wanting them to be spooked by the noise of the bike. Travelers along these parts were uncommon and usually inconsiderate, revving their big fancy cars and beeping their horns loudly in an effort to pass.

The motorcycle purred softly up before a pair of legs came down to walk the bike quietly beside the horseman.

"Excuse me," a voice said and the horseman turned his head. It was a dark bike, with strange blue wings on the front. A young man rode it and he lifted the visor of his dark black helmet while he spoke. "We're a little lost. There's supposed to be a town around here somewhere, can you give us some directions?"

The horseman gave a small grunt. City folk. "Y'all be lookin' for Rosebery, I gather."

"I believe that is the place," a soft voice said and the horseman had to look again. A young woman peered out from behind the man, a purple helmet with a star on it over her head. "Can you please tell us how far from our destination we are?"

"Not too far," the horseman muttered . "She's about twenty miles down the road. Just keep followin' it along, take a right 'bout ten miles down. Can't miss it; there'll be a sign."

"Thanks," the young man said , walking the bike a little faster so that he could slip by the sheep without scaring them. The horseman was surprised at his consideration.

"Richard," the young woman said. "What are these creatures? They look so delightful and cuddly and they are making such wonderful noises."

The horseman raised an eyebrow, before turning his head and spitting on the ground. Definitely city folk.

The young man she had called Richard chuckled. "They're called sheep, Star."

"These are the sheep?" Star asked, her expression delighted. "Oh, how glorious. Please, sir, may I pat one?"

The young man glanced over his shoulder at her embarrassingly. "Er, sheep aren't really pets."

She looked deflated. "I apologise."

Richard chuckled again. "Don't worry. Thank you for the directions, sir, we appreciate it."

The horseman chewed his lip. "Y'all wanna be careful," he called to the back of the pair as they continued moving past the sheep carefully. "There's a dropped tree 'bout a mile ahead. Half the road's cut."

The young woman swiveled back to face him. "Will you be able to move your sheep past the tree?"

The horseman shrugged. "I'll keep. Got me some good dogs. Tree's been there for years, folk around these parts just move 'round it now."

She bobbed her head, before giving him a bright smile and a wave.

The black motorcycle slipped past the sheep as they bleated and moved along the road, but still Richard did not rev his engine and roar off. The horseman tipped his hat slightly to scratch at his head while the young man continued walking the bike down the road until he was a fair way from the sheep, before he slowly began to drive it once more. In fact, they were a considerable distance away before the horseman heard the roar of the engine.

The horseman silently thanked the pair for being considerate enough to not spook his sheep and called for his dogs once more, allowing the sheep to spill back over the whole road.

He hooked his foot over the saddle, slouching on the seat as he daydreamed of the warm cup of rum waiting for him once he'd gotten these wayward sheep back to the field on the other side of the fallen tree.

He daydreamed for so long that he almost didn't notice the tree trunk that usually spread across half the road was gone, somehow moved to the side to allow for easy access both ways. There was a smiley face burned into the wood.

The horseman stared. Just who were those two?

TTTTT

Dick revved the bike, enjoying the sound of it humming beneath his legs as he shifted his hips to turn the N-Cycle around a corner. She really was an amazing bike. He'd remembered how he'd felt when his father had given him the R-Cycle, so many years ago, but the feeling of this one eclipsed that altogether. He still hadn't had a chance to test out some of the features that had been installed. And it didn't really matter that if anyone saw the N-Cycle, since Nightwing had not yet made the scene in Jump City, no one would make the connection. They'd change back to Starfire and Nightwing once they got closer to Jump City, but on these back roads, it was easier just to be Dick and Kori.

He had, however, already tested out the speed of her. He and Kori had managed to find a long stretch of open road yesterday and had a race. Kori had won, of course, but then she was also capable of faster than light travel when required. But the N-Cycle had a power within it and he could reach speeds previously unattainable by the R-Cycle. Her acceleration rocked. He was seriously in love.

And she was so smooth. She handled the twisting curves and the dips of this hilly stretch of road with ease. He let out a small sigh of delight as they rounded another winding corner.

Is something wrong? Kori's soft mind voice asked quietly.

Dick blinked before he frowned slightly. No. Why?

That is the fourth time you have sighed in the past few minutes.

Dick smiled. Nothing's wrong, Star. I just like the way the N-Cycle handles that's all. Are you sure you don't want to have a drive?

He felt her giggle slightly, her hands rubbing his stomach as she pressed up against his back. It is your 'baby', Richard. I am quite content to cuddle your back. Besides, Beast Boy would never forgive me if I was allowed a turn and he was not.

He chuckled. I won't tell him if you don't. How far along did that horseman say to go?

Ten of your miles and turn right at a sign.

Ahh, that's right. We should be there soon. I'm pretty sure we'll hit Rosebery before dark.

Remind me again why we could not take the 'freeways' home?

He shifted his shoulders, snuggling into her slightly. Where's the fun in that? This way takes longer but it's prettier.

And you are certain we will make it home by the eve of New Year?

Of course I'm certain, Star. I planned the route remember?

You did not plan on becoming lost.

Dick snorted. I'm not lost!

Indeed? Then what were you?

Uh… misplaced! Yeah. Rosebery was a little further down the road than I thought it would be. I just wanted to make sure we were still heading in the right direction that's all. Besides, I had to slow down so that I wouldn't spook the sheep.

She chuckled slightly in his mind.

He wrinkled his nose and glanced over his shoulder at her. I've booked us a cabin in Rosebery. We'll have to eat the rest of the food that Alfred gave us tonight, I doubt it will keep much longer. There should be a grocery store here too; we can restock tomorrow. Ahh, here's that sign. He slowed the N-Cycle, checking for traffic before zipping down the right road.

Good, I wish to stretch soon, my bottom is getting sore.

Dick grinned. Are you sure it's not from all that time falling over while learning how to ice skate?

She whacked his stomach lightly. That is not nice. I am doing much better now. It is your fault from your continual distractions.

Dick chuckled and concentrated on the road ahead.

Rosebery was a sleepy little town nestled amongst a hilly region of pinelands. A row of cottages adorned the road into town, before several small lanes branched off the road, leading to other houses and shops. The main street was nothing more than a hardware store, a service station that doubled as a post office, a takeaway shop/café and a grocery shop. Still, it had a homey feel about it and the air was fragrant with the scent of pines.

Dick pulled the N-Cycle up near the motel called 'Rosebery Cabins'. He pulled off his helmet, shaking his un-gelled hair loose and running his fingers through it to get rid of helmet hair. He waited for Kori to get off the bike before lifting his leg off.

Kori stretched like a cat, arching her back and extending her arms above her head as she moved around trying to stretch her muscles once more, before she too took off her helmet and shook her wonderful mane of red hair free. Dick stifled a sigh, although he liked the colour of her hair as Kori, he wished that she didn't have to wear that hologram ring that dulled the shade of it and hid her alien skin tone, eyes and eyebrows. Didn't matter though, they would be home soon and Starfire would return in all her glory.

"Wait here," he said, placing his helmet on the bike and touching her hip briefly. "I'll get the key."

Kori nodded and smiled at him and continued to stretch her limbs.

The office of the motel was bright and cheerful and the scent of lavender lingered in the air. A plump woman smiled at him from behind the counter. "Welcome to Rosebery Cabins!" she said cheerfully as the bell attached on the door tinkled as it shut behind Dick.

"Um. Hi. I have a reservation. Mr Grayson." He'd deliberately booked under just his last name in all the towns they were planning on staying in and had enough cash to pay for everything. He didn't particularly want the press finding out what he and Kori were up too.

"Ahh, Mr Grayson, yes I remember talking to you on the phone. We don't often get actual bookings, so we have the room all nice and spruced up for you." The woman pottered around behind the counter, sorting out paperwork. "Sign here, dear," she said, handing him a piece of paper.

He nodded and signed the paper, before handing over money to pay for the cabin. He got a small copper key on a tag in return.

The woman stood with a map and showed him where the cabin was. "You can park your bike right outside the cabin, dear," she said, pointing in the direction. "We do room service if you want it. There is also a small tavern about five minutes walk from here that serves hot meals."

"Er, thanks."

"Enjoy your stay."

"We will," he said over his shoulder before heading back out to Kori.

Kori was talking to a strange boy and by her posture and the way she was keeping the N-Cycle between her and the boy, she was uncomfortable with him talking to her. Dick narrowed his eyes, wondering if her hesitation was a result of still being uncomfortable around strangers, or that she didn't like the boy. Not that he liked him talking to her either.

She looked at him in relief as he approached, while the boy looked somewhat angry at his appearance.

Dick swung the key to their room around his finger as he swaggered up to them. "Ready, babe?" he asked, looking at Kori.

Kori blinked at him in surprise. Babe?

Just go with it. If this guy has been saying things to you that you don't like, say 'sure thing, hun'.

"Sure thing, hun," Kori replied with a surprisingly pouty smile and Dick wondered where she'd learnt that.

Dick draped an arm around her neck possessively, before glancing at the boy and raising an eyebrow. "You gotta problem there?"

The boy eyed him up before shaking his head and slinking off.

Dick snorted, before shifting his hand from Kori's neck to her hip. What did he say?

He spoke of me falling from heaven and whether or not I damaged myself. They are the 'pick up lines', yes?

Pretty corny one at that. He gave her a cheeky grin. Can't take you anywhere can I, Star? Two minutes in a town and you're being hit on. C'mon, lets head to our cabin. He lifted the stand to the N-Cycle and began walking the bike in the direction of their cabin, Kori falling in on the other side of the bike.

If the falling from heaven is a corny pick up line, what is a good one?

Dick laughed. I don't think there are any good ones Star. They're all rather lame.

Oh. She eyed him. Have you ever used any?

He cast her a disbelieving glance. And just who would I use them on, huh? I tried on you, remember?

She blinked. You did? When?

Christmas day. Wooing? Remember? Shall I compare you to a summer's day?

Oh… that was a pick up line?

One of the oldest.

Kori giggled. I am sorry, Richard. I thought you were being silly.

He staggered, placing a hand over his heart playfully. I'm wounded! Imagine, me, the great Nightwing, being silly. Oh, my world will never be the same.

She ignored his dramatics. I find it strange that you can compare anyone to a summer's day. They are so lovely and warm, all of the animals are so happy and cheerful, the trees have such exquisite leaves and the sun shines so brightly. The air always smells so fresh and the wind dances around me when I fly. It all makes my heart sing with happiness.

Dick simply looked at her, small smile playing on his lips.

Comprehension dawned on her face. Oh. She glanced at him, a blush spreading across her cheek. You believe me to be like that?

Of course, Star.

She fell silent before she placed her hand over his on the handles of the bike. That is a good pick up line.

He grinned at her cheekily. I'm glad you approve.

She rolled her eyes at him, before she pointed. "Is that it?"

Dick followed her finger. A small white cabin nestled amongst medium sized pine trees. It had a very small porch with a table and chairs perched on it. Not that they would be sitting outside. It was too cold for that. He eyed the wood stacked up against the outside of the cabin and glanced at the chimney in the roof as he stood the bike at the front of the cabin. "Cool, it has a fireplace." He passed Kori the door key. "Star, if you open the door and grab our stuff, I'll bring some wood inside."

Kori nodded, trotting up to the door to open it for him, before returning to the bike. Dick went around the side and grabbed a hand full of logs, carrying them into the cabin.

It was a nice cabin, very cozy. A large bed in a bedroom at the back, a small kitchenette, a decent sized bathroom with a bath, a small table and chairs beside a bench that separated the kitchenette from the rest of the room. A sofa with a patchwork quilt draped over it sat pointing toward a small television in the corner and there was a rug in front of the fireplace.

Dick dumped the logs in the box beside the fireplace, before tossing several logs into it.

"Would you like me to light that for you, Richard?" Kori asked and he turned to see her placing their bags on the counter in the kitchen. She'd already removed her leather riding jacket and gloves and kicked off her boots.

"Yeah, sure, thanks. Did you set the alarm on the bike?"

She gave him a long-suffering look. "Of course. I even put the cover over it so that it would not be snowed upon."

They switched places; Dick moved into the kitchen while Kori knelt down by the fireplace. He pulled off his gloves and placed them beside hers, before also removing his leather jacket. He remained in the red and yellow sweater that Kori had knitted him for Christmas as the room still had that chilly bite to it. He pulled off his boots to place them beside hers before rotating his ankles to stretch them.

Dick's communicator beeped and he reached into his pocket of his jeans to open it.

"Hey dude!" Garfield exclaimed, appearing in the small circular monitor. "Just checking in. How's the trip going?"

"Fine," Dick said. "We just stopped for the night. How's things back at the tower? And why are you still hologramed?"

Garfield went red. "Er, we sorta made a small side trip."

"BB," Victor's hissed voice. "Shush."

Dick raised an eyebrow. "Side trip? Where exactly are you?"

"Um…" Garfield said slowly.

"We're in Disneyland," Rachel's voice droned quietly.

"Rae, you weren't supposed to tell him."

"What are you doing in Disneyland?" Dick asked sternly.

"We're, er, having loads of fun," Victor's said voice.

"Oodles," Rachel's deadpanned voice.

"I asked you to head straight back to the Tower."

"Yeah, we know," Victor said sheepishly. "It's just, you guys won't be arriving for another three days, so we figured we'd have some fun and head back there the day after tomorrow."

"They figured they'd have some fun," Rachel's droned voice in the background.

"Hey," Garfield complained casting a glance off screen. "I saw you smile today."

Dick frowned. "And don't you think Bee and the rest are going to be a little put out that you didn't invite them, too?"

"It's not like they can all fit into the T-Ship dude," Garfield said.

Dick gave Garfield a bland look. "Herald."

"Oh, crap," Victor exclaimed. "We forgot about him."

"I'm sure he'd be happy to hear that." Dick shook his head. "Was there a reason you called?"

"Um…"

Dick rolled his eyes. "Have fun guys, we'll see you in a few days."

"See! Told ya he'd be okay with it," Garfield's exclaimed voice as he clicked off.

"And they can look forward to some intense training when we get back," he muttered.

Dick heard a quiet giggle from Kori and he smiled and shook his head, turning his attention to the cooler on the counter.

"Looks like we have some chicken for dinner tonight, or we could just hit the tavern," Dick said, rummaging through the cooler, before he grinned. "Ooh strawberries. How'd we miss those last night? How Alfred got his hands on these during winter I'll never know." He dug around in the cooler more. "I wonder if Alfred gave us some of his homemade chocolate sauce, too."

Kori looked up at him from the now crackling fireplace. "Why would he give us chocolate sauce?"

He looked at her in surprise. "You've never had strawberries and chocolate before?"

Kori shook her head.

"Aww, d'anthe l'ani, you've been missing out! Ah, here we are. Stay there." He rummaged around in the cupboard for a minute, snatching up a bowl. He quickly washed the strawberries and removed their stems, placing some of the chocolate sauce in the bowl before carrying it all over to Kori.

He slouched down on the floor by the fireplace beside her, placing the bowl between them. He took a strawberry and lathered it in chocolate, before holding it up to her lips. She cocked her head at him before opening her mouth. He placed it on her tongue and she nibbled on his fingers as she closed her mouth around the strawberry. He watched delight sweep across her face and she closed her eyes as she chewed.

"Oh," she said, the word almost sounding like a moan. "Richard, that is glorious. It is so sweet."

Dick grinned. "I suppose you'd like another one?" he asked, reaching for another strawberry and dipped it in the chocolate.

She blinked open her eyes and smiled that alluring smile he loved. "Please."

The grin on his face grew wider as he fed her another one, watching enthralled as she savored the taste of it. He teased her with a third, holding it tantalisingly out of reach of her mouth, making her work for it. She let out a muffled giggle as she managed to bite only half of the strawberry, coating her mouth with chocolate. He ate the remainder of the strawberry, reaching for another one as Kori licked her lips.

He teased her with the fourth too, this time not allowing her any as he placed the chocolate covered strawberry in his own mouth.

She pouted at him, reaching for the strawberries and he smacked her fingers lightly. "Naughty," he said wickedly. "You have to wait."

She huffed, before looking at him through her eyelashes.

"And that won't work either," he said. He reached for another strawberry while she waited expectantly. He slowly swirled the strawberry around in the chocolate, teasing her, before he offered it to her.

He pulled it away just as her mouth closed over it, only allowing her half again and effectively coating her lips and chin in chocolate, before propping the rest in his own mouth. She licked her lips clean once more, but missed several spots on her chin.

A wicked thought crossed his mind and he cupped her cheek with his hand and slowly edged closer, making it seem like he was moving in for a kiss before he licked the chocolate from her chin.

She sucked in a startled gasp of breath and he pulled away, acting indifferent, reaching for another strawberry, watching her out of the corner of his eye. She flushed prettily and he suppressed a smiled, before dangling another chocolate-coated strawberry before her.

She snatched it up before he could move, licking her lips in delight and he grinned at her cheekiness, looking back at the strawberries. They were nearly gone, so he'd have to be careful with the remaining few. But there was still a lot of the chocolate left.

He dipped his fingers into the chocolate, before licking them clean. He loved Alfred's homemade sauce, had loved it ever since he was little.

Kori's hand snaked out and she dipped her fingers in the chocolate before he could stop her. Her fingers didn't make it back to her mouth though; he snatched her wrist, drawing her fingers into his mouth before he sucked the chocolate off them, making sure he kept eye contact with her.

Her eyes went wide with surprise and her breath hitched.

Dick released her fingers and wrist, reaching nonchalantly for another strawberry and lathered it in chocolate. He placed half of it in his mouth and waggled his eyebrows at her.

She smiled at his cheekiness, before she leant in and placed her mouth against his, sharing in the bite of strawberry. She pulled away to chew the strawberry and he followed her, swallowing his own mouthful to kiss her.

She almost immediately opened her mouth for him and he snaked his tongue in and stole her piece of strawberry, moving away again, holding it in his mouth for safekeeping.

She blinked at him incredulity before she tackled him, forcing him onto his back. "Give that back," she said as she straddled him.

He shook his head at her, making a small noise to indicate that he wasn't going to since he couldn't actually talk with his mouth full of strawberry.

She narrowed her eyes at him. She grabbed onto both his wrists and forced them above his head, holding onto them with one hand before tickling his ribs.

His mouth dropped open in surprise and he snorted with laughter. She quickly dipped her head and stole her strawberry back, grinning at him mischievously while she chewed.

"That wasn't fair," he complained.

She shrugged, before swallowing the strawberry. "It was mine."

"Are you going to let me go now?"

Kori smiled alluringly and shook her head. She bent over him and he closed his eyes as her mouth settled over his, arching his head up to meet hers.

She made a small soft purring noise in the back of her throat as he slipped his tongue into her mouth once again. He wriggled his wrists slightly, however futile it was to try and break her grip, but he hoped she would loosen up enough for him to slip his hands free. She took the hint and he was able to get one wrist free and wrap it around her waist, sliding it up the back of her shirt. He felt her shudder slightly, goose bumps spreading over her skin from beneath his fingers.

She pulled her head away with a gasp, her other hand going his on her back to pull it away from her skin.

Dick frowned. "What's wrong?" he asked, slipping his hand out from her shirt.

"You have cold hands!" she complained, releasing his other wrist and sitting upright.

He grinned wickedly, surprised and pleased that she could actually feel it. "Really?" he drawled, sitting up as much as possible. One hand snaked up the front of her shirt to cup her breast while the other pressed against her back to prevent her from moving away. She eeped and placed her hands on his shoulders, pushing him away gently but he held fast. He nuzzled her neck, placing light feathery kisses up toward her jaw line. The fingers around his shoulders flexed slightly and she dipped her head toward his. He took the hint, capturing her mouth again.

He pushed against her, coaxing her off him to lie on her back by the crackling fire, settling his body over hers. Clothing slowly melted away as he lost himself in her embrace and before he knew it; she was writhing naked beneath him making those wonderful whimpering noises that sent a tingle down his spine and a heat to his groin as he caressed her body.

A naughty thought crossed his mind and he broke away from her for a moment to dip his fingers back in the chocolate sauce and allowed it to drip from his fingers onto her stomach and breasts.

Her forehead creased. "Why did you do that?" she asked curiously.

He grinned at her. "So I could do this," he replied slowly licking the chocolate drops off her skin. She heaved in a startled gasp of breath as he coated her nipple in chocolate before his mouth closed over it to suckle it off.

"I did not realise chocolate could be used in such a way," she murmured softly, as he continued to kiss and lick his way around her breast and belly, hunting for chocolate drops.

He chuckled lightly. "And I never thought we could couple against a roof."

Her giggle shifted into a groan as he licked her belly button. He dipped his fingers in the chocolate again, drizzling more over her warm skin.

"I am sure we can find other places to coat in chocolate," Kori said with a wicked gleam in her eye.

"Oh?" he asked, shifting lower, before he kissed her inner thigh. "You mean here?"

She sucked in a startled gasp of breath as he licked her between the legs, giving her a small suck on the small nodule of flesh before her passage before he shifted back up to her belly.

She swallowed and licked her lips. "I was actually referring to your body parts."

A jolt of pleasure and anticipation surged down his spine, creating an excited tingle between his legs. "Um…" He cleared his throat to prevent himself squeaking. "Maybe later. We have more than enough chocolate."

She smiled alluringly, her eyes glazed as he continued to lick and suck the chocolate, nuzzling his way back up to her mouth. He gave her a searing kiss on the mouth as he sheathed himself inside her. She groaned into his mouth, her hands clenching on his back and her legs wrapped themselves around his waist.

She lifted them off the ground slightly, as she often did during sex and it gave his hands so much more freedom to caress her back and fondle her buttocks as he thrust into her, stroking them both toward climax.

God, he loved her like this, the way she writhed beneath him, her breath hot against his neck, the clenching motions of her hands as she coaxed him deeper, the way her hips would shift and rock in time with his.

Her moans changed pitch, becoming higher and he knew she was close. His loins gave an excited throb as she threw back her head, that strangled cry of climax caressing her lips and he felt her pulsing around his length. "Oh X'hal… Richard."

He buried his head into her neck, his hands grasping at her buttocks as he spilled into her with a throaty groan. "Starfire."

He gave her a few more gentle strokes before settling on top of her, kissing his way back up her neck before reattaching his lips to hers. Love you, Star.

Hmmmmmm, I do believe chocolate and strawberries are my new favorite food.

He pulled away, pressing his forehead against hers. "Better than mustard?"

She smiled sensually, running her hand through his hair. "Better than mustard."

Her stomachs gave a quiet gurgle and he smiled at her. "Why don't we get dressed and hit the tavern for some dinner? The lady in the office said they serve hot meals. We can play a few games of pool or something if they have it while we wait for our meals."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Will you cheat at pool again?"

He huffed at her. "I didn't cheat the first time. Not my fault I'm better than Wally is. Besides," he said, giving her an Eskimo kiss. "You have a rather effective way of distracting me."

She giggled. "Yes, that squeak was delightful."

"I don't squeak."

She blinked mildly at him. "Yes, you do."

"I do not! And… um… just because you think I may have emitted a sound that you mistook for a squeak doesn't mean you should do that again. You scared me half to death."

She laughed at him in delight. "You cannot tell me you did not enjoy it, Richard."

He wrinkled his nose at her. "What sane guy doesn't like his bottom touched by a sexy girl? Just… please don't do it again. I could have ripped the table."

She pouted at him.

He kissed her nose before he pulled out of her, sitting up. She made a small mournful sound at the loss of contact, before rolling over and gathering her clothes, disappearing into the bathroom.

Dick grinned and pulled his clothes back on, before reaching for the remaining strawberries and chocolate, stashing them in the fridge for later. He washed his face and hands in the sink to remove any unwanted chocolate.

Richard, can you pass me my hairbrush?

He turned toward her bag and rummaged around in it for her hairbrush, before passing it into the bathroom to her. I think you look better windswept.

There was a soft giggle before Kori came out, brushing her hair. "You also say I look better unclothed, but I am certain you do not wish others to see me as such."

He grunted at her, pulling on his boots once more. She placed the hairbrush on the bench and slipped her feet into her own boots. She eyed her jacket and gloves before sighing and pulling them on.

He grabbed his jacket and checked to see that he had his wallet and keys and making sure there was nothing that could start a fire before he pulled her out of the cabin, locking the door behind them. It was dark already and he hoped that this tavern would not be too difficult to find. He slung an arm around her waist before they began walking in the direction that the lady said the tavern was located.

"This is a very quiet town," Kori said softly, looking up and down the empty street as they walked.

"Mmm-hmm," he hummed noncommittally. "Most country towns like this are. It's kind of nice to get away from the city for a while, but I think it's a little too slow for me."

She nodded.

"That looks like it," he said, pointing to a sign a little way down from them that read 'Tom's Tavern'. There were a few scattered cars and motorbikes parked outside it. "Locals must be coming in for dinner and whatnot."

A man looked up at them from behind a long wooden bar as they entered, carefully cleaning a glass in his hands. It was a nice, rustic looking tavern, wooden tables and chairs, and a dark wooden floor. There were large barrels scattered around, stools perched against them and there were two currently unoccupied pool tables in a corner. A jukebox against the wall emitted some country song that Dick failed to recognise. There were several patrons sitting against the bar, cradling drinks in their hands.

"Hey," the bartender said , gesturing them over. "You two would be underage then. I won't be serving you alcohol."

"Good," Dick said as they approached the bar. "We don't want any. We heard you served food."

"Nothing fancy. Gotta stew brewing."

"Sounds great, we'll have two thanks. And some cokes if you have them… Also, do the pool tables work?"

"Sure do," the bartender said, pulling out two cues from behind the bar. "I'll bring your food and drink over when it's ready."

"Thanks," Dick said, taking the cues from the man and passing one to Kori. "C'mon Star."

They headed over to the pool table and Kori removed her jacket while he quickly racked up the balls. He eyed her. "I suppose I'd better let you go first."

She looked at him coyly before leaning over the cue and tapping the white ball gently, giving him a very nice view of her behind. He had to fight the urge to smack it. There was a soft thunk as a ball hit a pocket.

He raised an eyebrow while she smiled gleefully. She missed her next shot however.

Dick grinned to himself, making sure to stand on the other side of the pool table from her while he made his shot.

"Isn't your girl cold?" the bartender asked as he brought over the cokes Dick had asked for. "We don't have much heat here."

Dick shook his head. "She doesn't get cold easily."

The bartender shrugged, placing the drinks on a barrel by the pool table. "Stew won't be long."

"Thank you," Dick said taking a sip of his drink before lining up another shot.

"You are doing the cheating again, Richard," Kori said sternly, one hand on her hip as the ball went thunk into a pocket.

"No I'm not," he replied indignantly. "I let you go first and everything."

She narrowed her eyes at him; while he grinned cheekily and lined up for another shot. She moved around the table, coming directly into his line of sight and bent over, resting her wrists against the table, giving him a lovely view down the front of her top and the hidden cleavage beneath.

Dick gulped, fighting to keep his eyes on the ball, his hands going sweaty. "Now who's cheating?"

She cocked her head at him and smiled innocently. "Is something wrong?"

"Star," he said warningly. "That's unfair."

Her fingers caressed the collar of her shirt, tugging it open slightly. "I am sure I do not know what you mean."

He groaned, hitting the white ball at an angle. It wobbled around the table, hitting one of her balls first. He rubbed a hand over his face while Kori giggled gleefully and clapped her hands. Kori was, simply put, deliciously evil at times and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Okay, okay, fine. I'll play fair. Just don't do that again."

She gave a small sigh. "Yes, d'anthe l'ani."

He headed over to the barrel for another drink, sitting on the stool standing beside it. "Hey Star?"

Kori looked up from where she was lining up the white ball. "Yes Richard?"

"Would you teach me Tamaranian?"

She stood up straight, looking at him curiously. "Why?"

He shrugged. "I like languages. Alfred said I have a knack for them. I already know Russian, French and Spanish, and Alfred's got me started on Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese. Plus, it's yours."

She regarded him. "You wish to know more than just the mean words?"

He nodded, remembering that Cyborg had only learnt Tamaranian so he would swear in another language. "Of course, Star."

She beamed happily at him. "I would like that very much."

Their meal arrived shortly after that and although Dick tried to play fair, he sunk the eight ball before Kori could down more than four balls. He did admit that she was getting better, but then she'd always had very good aim. She just had to stop hitting the white ball so damn hard.

They enjoyed their meal chatting amiably about the things they would see tomorrow and what they would do when they got back to the Tower, before playing several more games of pool.

Dick sighed as he finished off his drink.

"You know I'm going to have to put some serious hours into paperwork when we get back, don't you, Star?"

Kori smiled at him, tilting her head slightly. "Of course, Richard. And we must begin training again, we do not want you to lose the skill you gained from the xhandal."

He groaned. "More soral practice? I hoped never to have to look at that thing again."

"You still have much to teach me about your martial arts. It does not have to be soral training."

He smiled. "I think you're just using it as an excuse to get me out of my office. But you're right, there is still a lot you can learn." He yawned. "We probably should head back to the cabin. I'm feeling jetlagged."

She nodded, finishing the last of her drink before standing and pulling her jacket on while he went and paid for their meals and drinks.

A light snow had begun to fall through the night sky as they walked back to the cabin, covering the road in a thin blanket of snow and Dick hoped that it wouldn't turn into ice overnight.

He checked on his bike while Kori just chuckled and shook her head, before heading inside. By the time he'd done that and collected more wood for the fire in the morning, Kori had already turned the heater on in the bedroom, changed into her bedclothes and was sitting by the fire banking it for the night. He headed to the bathroom to change into his bedclothes and brush his teeth.

"Coming, Star?" he asked as he headed to the bedroom. He pulled the covers down the bed and fluffed their pillows.

"Richard," Kori called playfully from the door and he turned to see the bottle of chocolate sauce in one hand and the remaining strawberries in the other. "We still have dessert to go."

A grin erupted on his face as she closed the bedroom door behind her.