This has to be the longest oneshot I have ever written...yes, that includes 'Dear Starfire'...this is longer than some of my CHAPTER stories...
So, our History class is covering World War One, and our English class is covering World War Two (Diary of Anne Frank) and I'm kind of caught between wars right now, so I figured, why not, the idea just kind of hit me...Anyways, I know that Tamaran is a warrior race (women included) but from what I've gathered (with my rather intermittent attention span) I guess that's not how it worked in the World Wars. Women were at home...so that's kinda how it's set here. I know Starfire/Kory would probably be fighting, but yeah. I didn't exactly create a time period for this, I guess it's just Teen Titan time...
Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans, France, the USA, any other country that I mention (even though it would be awesome to own a country...back to the disclaimer)
Kory's eyes scanned her garden, making sure no weeds threatened the precious vegetables. This garden provided almost all the food her family ate, since the war had caused everything to become rationed. It was small, since only herself and her sister lived in the tiny house. Occasionally they gave food to the neighbors who's vegetables had been eaten by wild animals, after all, no one could survive on the meager portion the government saved for the citizens. The rest went to the army abroad, where Kory's brother and uncle were.
"Kory!" her friend, Lya, called. "Did you hear? A regiment is arriving here. From Am-air-ikka!"
"North America? Or South?"
"North! The United States, yes?"
"Interesting..." Most of the locals on the island of Tamaran could only speak Tamaranian, a dialect that was closely related to French. Kory happened to know quite a bit of English, as it was the second language she chose to take in high school. It would be very interesting indeed, listening to the stories of the Americans. They hadn't had soldiers on Tamaran since the Great War.
"Anyway, my mother thinks you will be of much help. Goodness, Kory, are you the only one here who speaks their language? It was such an unpopular class...I do not think a single person passed it, other than you!"
"Lya, that is absurd! Of course there is someone else who could translate...like...well...what happened to the teacher? She moved away, I believe..."
"And all of the men have gone off to war, so before you name any of them..."
"Well...when are these Americans coming? I would like to meet them, and perhaps make sure they know that this land is not theirs for taking. They have a history of doing that, yes?" Kory asked dryly. She was completely confident that the strong women of Tamaran could hold their ground, if these foreigners tried anything, but she should probably warn them that Tamaranians were not to be messed with, first.
"'Morning. Private Richard John Grayson, at your service." A black haired, blue eyed young man held out his hand, the corner of his mouth tweaking up into a lopsided smile. Kory shook it, beaming back at him. When was the last time she had met a man quite so handsome? She couldn't remember. The thought sent her stomach into backflips.
They were at the marketlace, a once-busy section of the town that had been all but abandoned after the war had started. It was very close to the port where the American ships had docked, though. Most soldiers were still on the ships, milling about and helping to get set up for the time they would be here.
"Good morning. My name is Kory Anders. I am the only English-speaking local of this island, so, should you need anything, I will be happy to help."
"Good to know. Actually, you'll probably have to talk to a commanding officer about that. I'm just here for translation, actually, in case you spoke French, German, Spanish, Italian, or Russian." He smirked. "You don't speak any of those, do you?"
"Well, I suppose it depends," Kory stuttered in awe. "You are very learned."
He shrugged. "I've had to go to school for a long time...but that's why everyone wanted me to join the army, so..." Richard Grayson straightened, nodding. "We'll be here for two months, about. We have a base just off the coast, here, so I don't think we'll be too much of a bother." That heartmelting smile again. "It's good that you speak English, we won't have much of a problem, then. Do you know a good place to buy a very large amount of food?"
Kory helped him as best as she could, leaving with a promise to meet him the next day.
"Were they nice? What did they say? Who did you speak with? Was it a general? Why were they here? Did they say anything? Did they--"
"Sorry, Kory. I cannot believe--here on Tamaran! How many men are there? Are there any--"
"Okay, okay. Speak."
"I met a very nice man. His name was Richard Grayson and he could speak so many languages! Not Tamaranian, of course, but he would probably be able to put it together if he knows French. We talked for quite a while. He told me that he enjoyed martial arts. He likes to--"
"Did this man only talk about himself? What about all of the people THAT ARE COMING TO LIVE ON THE ISLAND?"
"Shhh! He did not choose to talk about himself, I asked him! And do not worry, they are stationed off the coast. Remember that old fort on that tiny island from the first World War? Yes, they are rebuilding it. They believe that Gordonia will try to seize Tamaran from France, and they are here to prevent that from happening. Would you believe that terrible country is trying to attack us because they believe all the men from Tamaran will be forced to switch their sides? They think we are so weak! They--"
"Goodness, Kory, I am not the one rambling anymore. We have heard this so many times before. I say it is better this way, then we have a secret weapon when they underestimate us," Lya giggled. "Tell me about Richard Grayson again. Does he have a family?"
"I do not believe so. He could not have been much older than us, at most twenty-five--"
"KORY! This changes everything! No wonder you were talking about him! How romantic would it be if you fell in love with a soldier who lived across an entire ocean!"
Kory blushed furiously. "I do not even know him! He is no more than an aquaintance!"
"Ah, but my mother was once 'just an aquaintance' to my father, you know. And now look! They have been married for over twenty years! When are you meeting him next?"
"Tomorrow," Kory mumbled quietly.
"Wonderful! I shall come with! And no, there is nothing you can do to make me change my mind!"
"Good evening, Koma. How was your day?" Kory greeted her sister, who was patching up old clothes.
"Terrible as always. We will starve before this war is over. I didn't even have lunch today!" Koma growled, grabbing her cane and lifting herself out of her chair. Her crippled leg dragged sickeningly behind her as she moved to the other end of the room to find more thread.
"Why ever not? The tomatoes in the garden are riper than last year!"
Koma huffed, mumbling something about 'sick of tomatoes' under her breath.
"Have you heard about the Americans stationed just off the coast? I met one soldier today, he was a very nice person," Kory continued, tying her hair up to get it out of her face while trying to find the tomato basket.
"No, I didn't. I wouldn't go near them if I were you, little sister. Strange people, they are. But you're the only English-speaker here, aren't you? I told you being a goody-goody in school and learning all of that would just get you into trouble. Now you're stuck with that barbaric crowd, trying to translate so normal people can understand them. Hmph."
Kory said nothing more. When her sister was in a bad mood, nothing would coax her out of it.
"Good morning, Private Grayson. Do you remember me? Kory Anders," Kory told him, meeting up with him at the marketplace again. Lya waved to him, unable to speak in a way that he would understand.
"Call me Dick. Of course I remember you, it's hard to forget someone so beaut--I mean, the only person I've talked to so far," Dick corrected himself hastily. Kory tried to pretend she hadn't known what he was about to say. She didn't think she looked much different from the next Tamaranian. Most had red hair and green eyes, with the exception of her sister Koma, who'd dyed her hair black in a strange 'I want to be unique' phase. But still, the compliment was flattering.
Lya nudged her. "He's so good-looking! I can see why you love him so much."
"What did your friend say?"
Kory shrugged it off, her blush becoming harder and harder to hide. "Nothing at all. She is actually a bit touched in the head, so she rarely makes sense."
"Oh. Are you okay?" he asked her in slow but impeccable French. It was close enough to Tamaranian for even Lya to understand it. And a rather embarrassing conclusion dawned on Kory: Dick knew exactly what Lya had said, he'd been asking to cover up. Running away right now would probably be a good idea...especially since more than half of the statement Lya had made wasn't too far off.
"Fine. But you see, my friend Kory is so--" Lya began, a mischievous glint in her eye. Kory stepped on her foot, cutting her off.
"So! Was there anything else your company needed? At all?"
Dick chuckled, a twinkle finding its way into his sapphire eyes. "Do you want to get rid of me that bad?
"I--no, well--you see--"
"It's okay, don't knock yourself out. We needed some brick, you know, to rebuild that new base, but we got it from France. And a shipment of food and money's coming over from America, so I think we're good. But...ah, are there any seamstresses on this island? We've got a few clothes that need patching up, but there isn't a single one of us that can sew."
Kory was frowning, having had no intention of causing herself bodily harm, but ignored the statement for now. "Yes, of course. Lya's mother is actually a very skilled seamstress. By 'a few' do you mean two or three or over a hundred?"
Dick grinned, avoiding the question. "Lya? Nice name."
"Why, thank you."
Kory ignored the ridiculous jealousy she felt and beckoned them forward.
As it turned out, the amount had been a few dozen, enough to keep Lya's mother sewing for quite a while. Dick could speak to her directly, in French, and rarely did they come across a word that was unfamiliar to one or the other, but those were the only times Kory helped out. She and Dick left Lya and her mother at their home, and stepped outside to head their separate ways.
"I believe it is good-bye for now," Kory started.
"Yeah. I guess."
Neither made any move to leave.
"You don't get any tourists here? It's a really nice place...like Jamaica or something..."
Kory shook her head sadly. "Our country is often caught in between...ah, 'conflicts.' You see, Gordonia is intent on conquering us, while France does everything they can to keep us safe. Gordonia is...not a very nice country." Dick nodded.
"I'll say. You're under constant threat here...but I honestly wouldn't mind having this island, either. You guys are lucky."
"It is truly a wonderful home," Kory agreed proudly. "How much of the island have you seen so far?"
Dick shrugged, leaning against a tree. "Not much, just the--WHOA!" THe tree crumbled behind him, and he landed hard on his backside. Kory giggled, helping him up.
"That is the Kuhrr'ah tree. It is very fragile, far too weak to support the weight of a human."
"Thanks." Realizing she was still holding his hand, Kory let go quickly, and giggled again as he dusted himself off, wincing every time he tried to straighten.
"That was not a very pleasant fall, yes? Sit, regain your breath. It would not do to have an injured soldier before there was any sort of battle."
"Nah, I'm fine, it's nothing bad. Are there any other lethal plants I should know about?" he joked.
"Only a certain species of posion ivy. It is rather rare, but, should you choose to venture in the forest on the other end of the island, it grows abundantly."
"I'm hoping we don't go there anytime soon..."
"No, you do not. I was inflicted with it once, and it was not very much of the 'fun.' Perhaps, tomorrow--if you were not busy, of course--I could show you the island?" Kory asked him hopefully.
He smiled. "Sure. I'd like that."
I believe I would, as well, she thought happily as she went home to make lunch.
"And this," Kory explained, "is the only poisonous animal to be found near the island, a marble cone snail."
Dick paled. "Then why are you holding it?"
"Do not fret, it is dead. It would not be on the beach otherwise, it mainly lives on the reef. I am merely holding the shell, not the body. It has a marvelous shell, does it not?" She put the shell back where it had washed up and wiped her hands off on her skirt. "Normally, there are many large shells around this part of the island, but I cannot find any. Perhaps they are deeper in the water." She was definitely not dressed to go swimming, but Dick considered it.
"I think I can find one." He took off his shoes and socks before unlatching the heavy belt around his waist. Then he pulled off his shirt, revealing rippling muscles that Kory couldn't stare at for fear of drooling. He was amazingly toned...
Dick sighed with relief as soon as he hit the water. "It's so much cooler here, Kory. I was getting fried. You sure you're okay out there?"
He grinned wickedly. "Come on." He splashed water at her, a few lukewarm drops hitting her in the face. Kory shrieked and stumbled back, laughing along with him. "See? It's nice in here..."
Kory rolled her eyes, sitting down and watching him swim perfect strokes until she realized she probably looked pretty creepy. "Have you found it yet?"
"Found what? Oh, yeah." He dove under for a few seconds and came back up, holding up a ten-inch-long shell. "Look at this thing! In California, you can't find anything even a third of this size!"
"Truly? That is rather small, actually," Kory said, delighted at his amazed reaction. Dick swam back out, shaking his head wildly. Drops of water flew everywhere, and Kory ducked to get out of the way, laughing and yelping with surprise. "Thank you for getting me thoroughly wet. Perhaps I should have swam after all," she pouted.
"My bad," Dick mumbled, smiling sheepishly.
Oh no, thought Kory. He will want to change out of his wet clothes, and then I will not see him for the rest of today while he is at the base...She didn't really feel like separating just yet. "Would you like to dry off? My house is very close..."
"I...uh, sure." Kory barely gave him time to gather up his belongings before running off nimbly, with Dick yelling for her to wait up. She was in an awfully playful mood, skipping over rocks and sidestepping tree roots. She didn't hear Dick's footsteps behind her, though, and twisted around. He had stopped, and was in a daze, or something.
"Are you coming?" Kory asked worriedly. Dick snapped out of whatever his problem had been and flushed a bright red.
"Yeah. Wait, slow down!"
Kory, who'd just about figured why he had been zoning, had no intention of doing so.
"Koma! This is Dick Grayson. He is staying off the coast, in the old fort," Kory called into her house.
"Great, you've brought a soldier back with you? As if we didn't have enough trouble--"
"I am sorry," Kory apologized to Dick before Koma could say any more. "She is almost always in a bad mood, please do not take it personally."
"Of course not," Dick replied in French. "It's very nice to meet you."
Koma sniffed. "At least he can speak properly. Just don't expect us to go out of our way and wait on you all the time."
Her sister paid no heed. Kory retrieved towels from the bathroom and they wiped themselves off. Dick left not long after, uncomfortable as it was to be in Koma's presence, but Kory had already told him where to meet the next day.
"And this is the Temple of X'hal. It is the biggest building on our island," Kory said proudly, leading Dick up the steps to the temple. Originally, she'd started out showing him how not to get lost here, but Dick had shown a great interest in the culture of Tamaran.
The church itself was not gigantic, only about three or four stories high, but sported intricate carvings of a goddess, X'hal, and her creations. The building must have cost a fortune to make, because the shrine inside was made entirely of gold, and the floor, of marble. Golden statues of X'hal dotted the sides of the main room, and the ceiling was covered with a giant painting of the goddess. The stained glass windows cast colorful patterns all over the floor.
"On the summer solstice," Kory explained, "at six o'clock in the morning, when all of Tamaran is required to attend the mass, the windows produce a likeness of X'hal on the floor. It is truly a moving sight."
"Oh wow," Dick breathed. He could see it, a little, but the picture was slightly broken. He could only imagine what it was like on the actual day.
"Come. It is rather quiet in here today, but our temple is nearly always a place of joy. Perhaps you could see it on Thursday, when everyone will be here. But there is so much more to see. We have only just constructed a movie theater here!"
"Really? You should come to America. We have a theater every few miles." Kory's eyes widened. "I'm not kidding. What movies do you have here?"
"Only one so far, but many women are pleased with the main actor."
"Oh? Who is it?"
Kory frowned. "I do not quite remember. However, the words do not exactly match the way his mouth is moving..."
Dick raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, they talk over it, because otherwise the movie would be in English."
Kory got the feeling that he was annoyed, for some reason, and quickly changed the subject. "It is a wonderful day for...I believe in English, it translates to branch-diving."
"I will show you!" She turned right, towards the forest, and led him to a corner. "In a previous war, the people of Tamaran had to evacuate, but there was nowhere to go, as this is an island. One found this jungle path, and it led to a large, underground cave. It is hard, though, to get there. I will show you as best as I can." She tied back her hair and stepped up to the edge of a small river, shaded by trees. Long vines hung down, not even touching the surface of the water. The river had carved a deep enough route that jumping into it would hurt pretty bad. Kory beamed at Dick, and then took a running leap.
He grabbed for her and missed, but he shouldn't have worried. She caught the first vine, and then swung herself to the second one, and then to the third, until she was all the way across the river. Kory laughed at his shocked demeanor, and then gestured for him to do the same.
Dick gulped and reached out, his fingertips almost brushing the first one. He jumped a little, grabbed the vine, and held on for dear life. Kory laughed, beckoning him forward. Dick swung himself experimentally, and then grabbed the next vine as soon as he was within arm's reach. It wasn't so hard.
Finally, he landed on the opposite bank, exhilarated. "That was awesome!"
"It is mostly a game for small children, but adults do not tire of it either. There are, however, a few more challenges ahead. This is good training, yes?"
"I'll say. What's next?"
"Come." They walked deeper into the forest, with Kory cautioning Dick to avoid any plants that were brightly colored. "It is a warning," she told him, "that they are not safe to touch or eat."
Finally, a huge, natural wall of rock stood in their way. Kory ran her fingers over the surface, frowning. "It has worn away, but I believe we will still be able to climb it."
"Yes." Kory reached for a jutting piece and hoisted herself up, her foot searching for a foothold. Then she climbed like a monkey, with Dick unable to believe his eyes. Suddenly, a foothold of hers broke, and she slipped in surprise. She was falling.
Dick ran under and held out his arms, catching her perfectly. "You okay?" he asked, or rather, mumbled into her hair.
"I...I believe so." She distangled herself from him, trying to regain her breath. "Let me try again."
"Kory, you fell!"
She waved it off. "I was nearly at the top. And look, I have created another, sturdier foothold. Do you see that hole where the rock had broken? I will be fine." Again, she clambered up, making it to the top with ease. Dick came after her, making sure she wouldn't fall again, first. He went much slower, and his arms were shaking by the time he made it, but he was relieved to get there.
"I think I liked the vine-swinging better," he admitted.
Kory giggled. "It is now time for the branch-diving. It is the most difficult part, for most. Do you see that tree?" She pointed at a giant behemoth that Dick couldn't have possibly missed, which was overlooking the ocean. "We must climb it."
"All the way to the top?"
"Oh no. Follow my lead." Again, Kory looked for footholds in the trunk of the old tree, climbing up to the first thick branch, which was a good ten feet off the ground. "Are you in need of assisstance?"
"Nah, I'm good. Hold on a second." To give him credit, it must have been hard to climb with all of that army gear he was wearing, but Dick managed to do it. He was soon on the same branch as Kory. Carefully, she walked to the edge of the branch, like a gymnast on a balance beam. Dick followed, trying not to bolt in the other direction. He didn't really like heights, and this was a good fifteen feet above a dark colored spot in the ocean, most likely a cluster of underwater rocks.
"Now," Kory said simply, "we dive."
The edge of this branch was right over a dark blue stretch of ocean. Dick's eyes widened. "What about those rocks?"
"They are not rocks, Dick. It is just deep there. Trust me." Kory dove."
"Wait! Kory!" She splashed underneath, and she did not come up again. "Kory!" Should he call for help? By the time he got back, would Kory have come up? Was she drowning right now? Dick saw no other choice. He dived in, as well.
Opening his eyes, he saw a strange sight in front of him. It was deep, where he was treading water, but the eleveation was rising. And not far away was Kory, waving to him. He approached her, his lungs starting to burn. Kory swam up, and Dick followed. His head broke the surface.
"What...what is this?" They were in the largest cave Dick had ever seen. Coral dotted the walls, and water dripped from above. Kory swam over to the edge and climbed on to it, sitting down on the stone floor. Dick came, too, soaked to the bone.
"This is the cave I had told you about," Kory explained. "The people of Tamaran stayed in here for three days. After finding no one on the island, the invaders left. Apparently, they had been looking for slaves." She tried to peel off the shirt that was sticking to her like a second skin (a sight that Dick really didn't mind all that much) but left it alone after it resolutely clung to her. "Rest now. We still have to return."
Dick groaned. "You're kidding. We don't have to build a training course, we can just use this thing!"
Kory giggled. "Do not complain. You may need it later on."
"Yeah, you're probably right." Kory got up and squeezed the water out of her long hair. She shivered, not knowing if it was from the cold or from the fact that Dick's eyes were on her the entire time.
And so, it fell into a pattern. Kory was a huge help to the stationed troops (indirectly), many of whom had never been to an actual island before, only in the continental countries. The only person she ever talked to was Dick, and he relayed most of her messages to the rest. But she wasn't complaining. He was very different from the natives of the island, always astounded at the exotic plants and animals he saw, and eager to share stories and wisdom from North America, and a wonderful companion. In their free time, he and Kory explored the corners of the island, where Kory showed him all there was to see of the beautiful country.
"I've never actually been to war before," Dick admitted one day, as he swept his hands through the clear water of the ocean.
"No. I was actually going to start running a company, my adoptive dad's company, when I got out of college. But then, this war came around, and...I would rather be out protecting the country than sitting and doing paperwork, you know?"
Kory nodded. "Many men on our island feel the same way, but most of the women believe that raising and supporting the family is much more important. This is what happens with nearly every war. The island becomes populated with women and children alone."
"But I guess they--and me, too--can't just sit around here and do nothing. I mean, don't get me wrong, this is the best place a guy could ever get stationed, and I don't think many soldiers come across people as amazing as you've been, in all of those other countries"--He grinned at her, and she blushed--"but I want to go...I shouldn't be in paradise when there are people dying out there, Kory."
She rested her hand on his shoulder, her face now solemn. "Dick...war is a terrible thing. Once you have had an experience of it, you will never want to go again."
"What do you mean?"
Kory sighed sadly, kneeling on the sand. Dick sat down next to her. "War killed my parents. War has crippled my sister. War has taken away my brother and uncle several times. I have not seen them in over a year. And I cannot even imagine what they are facing on the battlegrounds, how much pain they must be in, how terrible the experience is for them. They do not talk about it, when they come home, but you can see that it hurts them." She looked up at him. "No one should wish for that."
Dick slipped his hand into hers. Despite the seriousness of the situation, Kory could feel herself reddening again. She seemed to be doing that a lot whenever Dick was near. "I can't promise you it'll be okay, but I want you to know that I will do anything I can to make sure you don't have to lose someone again."
Her smile was slight, but it could have lighted the world. "Thank you."
"Now come on," Dick murmured laughingly, tugging her up. "We're gonna get yelled at. I was supposed to be back at the dock twenty minutes ago..."
A month passed abnormally fast. Kory saw Dick nearly every day, but almost never talked to any other American stationed there. They didn't seem to want to talk to her, for some reason, but waved occasionally, mostly pretending she wasn't there. The cause of this was soon revealed, when she found a man standing in front of a grocery store, trying to bargain with the shopkeeper in English. The man spotted her, and in his exasperation ignored the shopkeeper completely as he made wild gestures in the air.
"How"--he made a questioning expression--"much"--he spread his arms out, indicating 'many'--"is this"--he pointed at the item he wanted to purchase, a pair of socks--"in American money?" he finished, pointing to a stack of dollar bills in his hand. Kory frowned.
"I understand English. You need not flail. Dick did not tell you to come to me for all of your shopping needs?"
The man looked relieved and even more confused at the same time. "You speak English? Oh, thank God. I've been trying to talk to this guy for two hours. I can't believe Dick didn't tell me, dude, he must've thought it was some joke!" He took off his cap to reveal dyed green hair, and grinned widely when he caught her staring at it. "Do they have a discount for hunky customers?"
Kory giggled quietly. "They do. You have seen such a customer?"
"...Wait a second...aw man! I just got dissed in a completely different country!"
"Hehe. I apologize, I was merely jesting. Hold on one moment. Good morning, Mrs. Birian. How much is this?"
"I know what he was asking," the annoyed shopkeeper hissed. "I was trying to tell him that they were one dollar and fifty cents in American money, but would he listen? No! For two hours! I tried everything, but these American people--
"It is fine. He is rather slow on the uptake, but not all of them are. He is quite amusing, truly. I will settle the matter. Perhaps a nap would be best for you."
The shopkeeper grumbled away, leaving Kory with the confused soldier. "This is a dollar and fifty cents with your money, Mr...?"
"Logan. I'm Gar. And you are?"
"I am Kory. It is very nice to meet you. Please tell your company that there is an English-speaking native on this island, and I will take care of the yelling at Dick. I hope to see you again soon!"
Kory found Dick immediately afterwards and demanded to know what he was playing at.
"Sorry, it...slipped my mind?" he tried pathetically. Kory rocked back on one hip, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at him. "Come on, Kory, so I was a little selfish, but can you blame me for wanting to keep you all to myself?" He gave her a lopsided smile, leaning awfully close.
"You, Mr. Grayson," Kory muttered, turning away so he couldn't see her pleased smile, "are nothing but an enormous flirt."
"Only for you," he teased, grabbing her arm to pull her back. Does he know? Kory thought anxiously. Surely she didn't show how he always seemed to make her smile and laugh, and how she always had butterflies in her stomach whenever he was near. Goodness, Lya should be a fortune teller...I AM falling in love with a soldier!
Kory pulled away from him, heat rising to her face, and rushed away.
"Sheesh, Grayson, a month on this island and you're already hooking up with a girl?" the booming voice of a tall, African-American soldier sounded.
"What can I say, Stone? She's too pretty to leave alone," she heard Dick reply cheekily.
Kory hurried into her house and shut the door, slumping against it and finally squealing out her happiness. Koma rolled her eyes.
"What's your problem?"
"Nothing, sister!" Kory hugged the older woman, laughing. "Everything is wonderful!"
"Fine. Go ahead and keep secrets from your best friend, see if I care. As if you have not avoided me enough already," Lya huffed, stalking away. Kory immediately felt terrible, she knew it was true. When was the last time she'd spoken with Lya?
"It is not a secret! Merely a...thought."
"What KIND of thought?"
"A passing one." Kory hopped off the bench. "I merely think that Dick is--"
"So you finally see my point of view!" Lya cried joyfully, throwing her hands up in the air. Kory rolled her eyes at her friend. "You are in love with him! This is wonderful! When, if I may ask, is the wedding?" Lya joked. Kory waited until her best friend decided to calm down before answering.
"As I was saying, it is merely a crazy notion. I do not even know him very well."
"I am sure that will change soon..."
"I am kidding, Kory! X'hal, you are so touchy!"
"Good morning," greeted Kory shyly. Dick grinned at her and casually put an arm around her shoulders.
"Morning. So, you're not mad at me anymore?"
"Mad at you? Why would I be?"
"You know, for not telling the guys that they could talk to you? I already got pretty beat up about that when I got back. Gar can't keep his mouth shut about much." Dick shrugged, releasing her. "They've all had their fair share of problems trying to communicate here. I've been yelled at all day."
"Very well then. I believe you have been punished enough for that, yes?" Kory teased. Dick didn't smile.
"Some of the guys are...well, they aren't the greatest people you'd want to meet. I kinda heard them talking yesterday...just thought I'd warn you. Gar's okay, and so's Stone, but some of the other ones are pretty bad. And they'd be worse, Kory, to a girl..."
Kory smiled at him. "I thank you, really. But it is not necessary. The women of Tamaran are much stronger than we appear." Dick still looked doubtful, and Kory laughed. "I am able to prove it to you, if you wish. I will beat you at any test of strength you can think of. And yes," she interrupted before he could say anything, "this is a challenge."
Dick smirked. "You're on. We're going to need an open space. And it has to be somewhere soft, too, just so it won't hurt as bad when I beat you," he taunted. He has no idea...Kory thought gleefully.
She led him into the forest, but not very deep. Surrounded by moss-covered trees, a circular clearing filled with foot-high grass and white wildflowers sat. It was rather small, only about twelve feet in diameter, but it was all they needed.
"We're going to wrestle," Dick explained, taking off his belt again. "Do you know how?" Kory shook her head. "What happens is, the first person to throw down and hold down the other for ten seconds is the winner. Nothing besides pure strength. Three rounds should be enough, besides--" The corner of his mouth twitched up again. "I don't really like hurting a girl."
"Goodness, Dick, you're cockiness will be your undoing," Kory cautioned him.
They moved around in a circle, Kory finding this all highly amusing. Dick was wary, wondering exactly how strong she meant when she had tried to explain to him that she wouldn't be taken advantage of. He soon found out.
The next thing Dick knew, he was on the floor, nearly out cold, with Kory on top of him, counting to ten. He was so surprised, he could hardly say anything, let alone try and throw her off. It wouldn't have worked anyway--she could have been a pro.
"Ten! I did this correctly, yes, Dick?...Dick? Have I damaged you? I apologize!" Kory quickly got off and helped him up, worried.
"Huh? Uh, I mean, yeah, you did it right, I guess I just wasn't expecting that..." The back of his head throbbed. "Let's try again, you just caught me off guard."
"Very well." Again, they circled. Dick lunged, and Kory caught his shoulders. They engaged in a moment's struggle--or rather, Dick was struggling, Kory just giggled, obviously not trying at all.
"Damn, Kory, what do you eat?" Dick gasped.
"I told you, I am not to be messed with," she answered smugly, throwing him down yet again. Dick found himself in the dirt and shocked for the second time. "We are to do a third one, yes?"
"Uh...sure. Yeah. And this time, I'll win," he muttered, not very confidently. Kory wasn't very confident he would win, either, but didn't show it. Dick braced himself, and when he got thrown down for the third time, it didn't hurt that bad.
"One..." Kory counted, straddling him. She held his arms in place, so he couldn't get up. "Two..."
"Kory, hold on a second..." Dick whispered. She leaned in closer, so she could hear him, and he tilted his head up to kiss her.
Kory tensed so much Dick was sure the blood circulation in his arms had been cut off, but then she relaxed, just what he was hoping for. He almost forgot what he had to do, so caught up in the kiss, but then he flipped over, landing on top of her. "Three," he said breathlessly, breaking away from her. "Four..."
"You cheater," Kory hissed playfully. She flipped them over again. "Five...six...seven..." Nothing Dick did could free him. "Eight...nine...ten!" She smiled and leaned down. "Now I would not mind the kissing." Dick laughed and obliged her. Maybe losing wasn't so bad.
"There are people like my sister everywhere, Dick," Kory murmured softly. The day was nearly over, and it was time to head back, or someone would come looking for them. The two had sat in the clearing nearly all day, not caring about lunch, but just enjoying being so close to each other. Kory, though, had started to get uncomfortable about returning, and after much cajoling, Dick found out why. "They...they do not like the Americans..."
"You want to keep this a secret?" Dick asked her.
"No, I do not. But it is for the best."
He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, kissing along her jaw. "We could meet here...in the forest...no one would know..."
"They would not," Kory agreed, hugging him close. But there was something else she was dreading: the steadily approaching end of the troops's stay. Dick would leave...and she didn't know if she'd ever see him again.
"I've got something to ask you, Kory," Dick said seriously.
"What is that?"
"You think I'm hotter than that actor guy you were talking about?"
Kory couldn't help but smile. "Goodness, Dick, you still remember that?"
"Koma? Is something wrong?" Kory's sister looked much angrier than usual, sitting in her favorite chair and rocking furiously.
"It is that terrible Gordonian government. They attacked France, and demanded for the U.S.A to call back all that are stationed here, or they would bomb every city in their way. They are detained for now, but are moving back, towards Tamaran. They wish to invade France, but if all else fails, they will settle for us. But they don't understand, France will never give up, and France will always retain their power. Gordonia stands no chance!"
"Sister, please, you are upsetting yourself. Would you like dinner? I have the most wonderful eggplants; we may have a feast tonight!"
"What is the point?" Koma muttered darkly. "There is nothing to celebrate."
Gordonia approached, closer and closer, as France pushed them away from their homeland. The soldiers were busier than ever, but somehow, Dick always found time to be with Kory, even if it was only for a few minutes. But there was a crisis at hand, and every villager was helping out as best they could. In fact, the casual observer would wonder how people who were so annoyed with the visitors on the island seemed so friendly whenever asked to help with something.
In a moment's decision, though, reality hit hard.
"Kory? Are you here?" Dick called, ducking into the clearing. Kory smiled at him and was immediately gathered in his embrace. "Kory...we're going to leave soon." The smile was wiped right off of her face.
"I...I am aware of that..."
Dick cupped her cheek in his hand, wiping away the tears that were forming in her eyes. "Hey, don't be sad, Kory. As soon as this war is over, I'll come back here to see you again. I promise." Kory said nothing, but she knew it would never happen. What if Dick didn't survive? What if he forgot about her? What if she didn't survive? What if, what if, what if...there were too many risks.
"Kory, I have to go back, but I want you to know that. Wait for me." He was so serious, Kory almost believed him. He kissed her for what might have been the last time, pouring everything he felt into it. She didn't ever want him to stop, but he had to let go eventually, more saddened than ever. "Come...come on. Let's head back."
"Dick? Man, we've been looking everywhere for you! And Kory, too, that's even better. The Gordonian army--they've given up on France. They're heading here, and we have to get all the citizens safe as fast as possible," Private Stone called breathlessly as Dick and Kory emerged from the forest. They exchanged fearful glances before springing into action. Kory ran for the village, with Dick right behind her. Stone went back to the docks, readying a rowboat to take Dick across to the base when needed.
"People of Tamaran! Out! Out! Everyone out!" Kory headed for the temple, to use the bells as an alert. Dick was yelling beside her, trying to alert whoever could hear them. Kory hurried inside the building and to the far end, opening a door and running up a set of stairs. A bell hung three stories up, and Kory reached for the rope, pulling on it as hard as she could. The bell clanged so loud, doors opened at once with people trying to figure out what the ruckus was. Most knew at once to come to the church.
"My friends, we are all in great danger! Gordonia is arriving, we must flee! You all know where we shall head!" Kory screamed to the crowd. All of the residents of the small island made for the exit, heading to the woods to go branch-diving.
"Kory..." It was Dick. He grabbed her hands, holding her gaze.
"Be safe," she whispered to him. Miraculously, over the hubbub, he heard. Dick nodded and hugged her one last time, running off to the docks.
Kory could see large, large boats on the horizon. She had to get to her own home, and help Koma. Chances were, some villagers had already been in there to get her sister out, but Kory just wanted to check. Her house was empty, thank goodness. Koma was already on her way. Kory ran to the forest, swinging across the vines to the other end of the river, climbing up the rock wall, and diving from the tree branch. She surfaced in the cave, where nearly all of the villagers were. They crowded her, asking quesitons.
"Have they begun to attack?"
"Is everyone out of the village?"
"What kept you?"
One terrified voice rose above the rest. "Where is my daughter?"
It was Lya's mother, Andrya.
"Lya...is not here?" Kory asked slowly. The seamstress shook her head, nearly in tears.
"She and your sister went out to look for you, Kory! Where is she? She never came back!"
"X'hal...no, please..." It would be her fault if they were harmed. How could she have put her own feelings before the safety of her friends and family? Now Koma and Lya were missing, and all because she had wanted to meet Dick...
Kory got ready to dive back into the water and find them, but someone held her back. "You cannot! It is bad enough that two are lost! Please, Kory!"
"No! You will remain here! They will find their way!" The crowd held her, and tears streamed down Kory's cheeks.
"My sister is there! She cannot walk! She needs help!" They wouldn't let her go, no matter how she struggled. Kory sank back into the crowd, sobbing, and pushed her way to a corner of the cave. She slid down the wall, burying her head in her knees. Koma and Lya and Dick...they were all in danger. She knew what Dick meant, now. Kory didn't know how she wasn't swimming to shore already. She couldn't be here, safe, when her loved ones were possibly hurt...or worse.
"Kory." Andrya sat beside her, pulling her into a hug. The two women held each other and weeped through the entire, miserable night, while gunfire rang outside, both hoping that the morning would not bring their worst fears to reality.
Around dawn, Kory fell into a fitful sleep. Nightmares plagued her, and the noise of weaponry did not help. When she was shaken awake, though, all was quiet. "They have gone," Andrya told her grimly. It was time to see what they had left behind.
In pairs, they swam out to shore. The ships in the dock were gone. The American soldiers had left. Kory's red eyes filled with tears again. It had truly been goodbye for Dick, one way or other. He had left her forever.
Not a living creature rustled in the trees. Some where blacked and burnt, others had been blown off the ground entirely. A lucky few remained standing, covered in debris. All the elders were helped down the rock wall, and the citizens swung back to their village, to see what could possibly be salvaged.
The town was in ruins. Houses had been destroyed, others filled with holes, and still others with roofs lying some twenty feet away. The street was littered with broken glass and miscellaneous junk, like empty cartridges and mis-aimed bullets. "X'hal! The temple! It is still standing!"
It was true. The great Temple of X'hal loomed just as great as ever, only slightly scarred by the fighting. A great swell of hope rose in Kory's throat. Surely, if the temple had survived, then Lya and Koma and Dick had, too...
The townspeople ran inside, rejoicing at their good fortune. The temple would provide plenty of room for the people who had no homes, while their houses were being rebuilt. The great statue of X'hal was unharmed, and the people's beliefs untouched. Their goddess would save them. The future looked less bleak already. Kory noticed a little piece of paper near the foot of the statue, though, and hurried to retrieve it. The letters were in English.
Then came an earth-shattering wail from Andrya. "My daughter!"
Kory ran to her and gasped at what she saw.
Tamaran had no cemetaries. The dead were nearly always cremated, and their ashes strewn into the sea. But the American soldiers hadn't known that. Two headstones sat side-by-side outside the temple. One with the name "Koma Anders" and the other, "Lya." They hadn't known Lya's last name. Silently, someone broke out of the crowd and scratched it on before comforting the poor mother. No one noticed Kory turn and run.
Wait for me...
Another year passed. The war ended, and Kory's uncle Galfore and brother Ryan came home, battered and exhausted. Gordonia was defeated, for the time being, they said. Why was Kory all alone in the house? Where was Koma?
When Kory told them what happened, silence reigned for the longest time. "Let me see," Ryan begged. He'd just come home from a war, only to find that his sister had been killed. Kory could have understood his pain, had she been feeling any less numb. She could barely feel her own.
She took them to the temple, and watched as they mourned Koma, who's grave had never been removed. Kory clutched at the old, worn piece of paper in her hand. I'm sorry. She was sure it was Dick who'd written it. Who else would have? It was her only remaining connection with him, and she never went anywhere without it. She wasn't sure where he was, or if he was still alive, even. But with that piece of paper, maybe...
Visiting Andrya was Kory's favorite thing to do, if anything could be called her 'favorite.' The two ladies nearly always sat in silence, or reminisced freely about their loved ones, not caring whether the other saw them cry or not, because they were in the same, anguished boat. Kory had even told her about her relationship with Dick, which she'd kept a secret from everyone else. Andrya was just as trusting as Lya had been, and just as loyal. It was easy to watch time crawl by for hours, there, because everything else seemed so pointless.
Then, Kory received a letter that sent her life spinning again.
Her eyes traveled over the picture of Koma, in one of her sister's happier moments. Nothing seemed the same anymore. Everything was so quiet without Koma's usual grumbling and groaning. And usually, even when she was just half as miserable as this, Koma would be there, in her own way, to cheer Kory up by blaming everyone else until Kory was forced to put a stop to it and laugh at her sister's antics. Koma had wronged her more than once, but they were sisters. Blood related. When Koma died, a little bit of Kory died with her.
And Lya, her most trusted friend since they were in school together. How many times, exactly had Kory spoken to her in her last days on Earth? Next to none, just because she had been so infatuated with Dick. Kory was disgusted with herself. Because she'd been with Dick, she'd never cast Lya a second glance. Because she'd been with Dick, she'd gotten her far too loyal best friend worried. Because she'd been with Dick, Kory had gotten Lya killed. All for what? A two worded letter and a fake promise. Who knew, Dick had probably romanced every single girl he met in those different countries, and was back in America with a real girlfriend, someone he'd actually taken pains to contact and check on to see if she was okay...
No, she couldn't blame Dick. It had been her fault that her sister and friend had died that night, not his. And if he was dead, too...well, that would explain why he hadn't written. Kory blinked tears away angrily and walked out of the house, plopping down in the sand on one of the island's many beaches and staring at the horizon. She had been so stupid. It was her fault so many had died.
There was a boat, sailing in from the coast. It probably had to have gone through many, many security checks to make sure that there were no Gordonians on it, which was something most tourists didn't actually like. The ship was here on business, which was not Kory's problem, now that the men were back.
"Miss Anders!" A lanky boy swung down a ladder and hurried towards her. She recognized him, since he delivered things so often. She nodded half-heartedly at him. "Good morning! I have a letter for you. There was a very rich man who was visiting France, and he said it had to get to you. He said it was very important, and I said I knew you! I could go! And he said yes, that would be wonderful. And I said Miss Anders doesn't get mail often. And he said it's from my son. And I said I didn't know Miss Anders knew you. And he said do you know me? And I said no. And he said well then don't worry about it. And I said--"
"Thank you," Kory interrupted. She actually didn't know whoever this man was, but wasn't really in the mood to listen to 'and he said, and I said, and he said, and I said...' The youth waved and ran off to the boat, and Kory stared at the creamy envelope in her hand. Dare she think it...?
Even with the seal broken, it was a pain to get the letter out. She pulled out a piece of paper, and another one fluttered to the ground, but Kory ignored it. The letter was neatly written in French, and dated about a week before.
Dear Ms. Anders,
If you can...
It's for Dick.
Another short, to the point letter. Only, Kory couldn't see what the point was. The only thing that kept her wondering was the fact that Dick's name was in the paper. She glanced at the piece on the ground and gulped. It was a plane ticket.
Kory was headed back on the next ferry to France. She would catch a flight there and go to Jump City, California. Business class. Kory wasn't sure what that meant, since she had never been on a plane before, but it sounded expensive. On top of her guilt, she was now a burden. Wonderful. And then there was this passport business...it was a nightmare.
When she'd gotten home, the whole story had come out. Galfore and Ryan urged her to go. Andrya and her husband was coming to stay with them anyway, since they couldn't bear to live in a house without Lya in it. They would be fine, but they understood how important this was to her.
"Flight 574 to Jump City is now boarding," a woman called. Kory, who'd been sitting uncomfortably in the rather high-tech looking airport, got up immediately. Her villager's garb was attracting quite a few stares.
She was seated for the entire flight next to an uptight, older lady and a studious young man who reminded her quite a bit of Dick. Kory couldn't wait for the flight to be over. The takeoff made her ears feel like they were about to pop, but the flight was easy, almost enjoyable, after that. At least, it would have been, had she not been so apprehensive.
She fell asleep for a few hours, and when she woke up, there was food in front of her. She gasped, and the man next to her chuckled. "Your first time on a plane?"
"I figured. The flight attendant put that there while you were sleeping. Don't worry, it's not poisoned."
"Thank you." Kory took a test bite, decided it wasn't that bad, and ate the rest. Something beeped overhead.
"We are beginning our descent into Jump City International Airport. Please keep your seatbelts fastened securely until the plane has stopped moving." The beep sounded again, and the pilot's voice was cut off.
The descent was just as terrible on her ears as the takeoff, and Kory was glad when they rolled into the gate not long afterwards. Again, she stopped to show her passport, turn in her papers, and get directed to the one bag she'd brought. Retrieving it was definitely fun, but she didn't know where to go after that. An old man waved to her, carrying a sign that held her name.
"Good evening, Ms. Anders. I am Alfred Pennyworth, the butler at Wayne Manor. The limo is waiting." Kory was led to the longest car she'd ever seen. The inside had plush seats and a cooler and every movie she could have ever dreamed of. Kory had never actually rode in a car before, since they weren't needed on an island as small as Tamaran. It was a mind-blowing experience.
And the buildings! So tall, they disappeared into the clouds. They were covered in lights and windows. Cars of every size and color lined the streets, and stores selling all kinds of things advertised their products in lighted neon signs. It was amazing at night, and even more so, Kory was sure, in the daytime. They drove up to a large building, almost like a castle. They'd been drving through the gardens of the building this entire time and she hadn't even known it, so enraptured by the sights as she had been. Alfred parked the car and got out, opening her door. "Master Dick should be home soon. Until then, please wait in the living room."
He was alive! She wasn't coming to his funeral! Kory actually managed a tiny smile and nodded, walking inside the house. She was going to see Dick, she couldn't even believe it. He lived here? In this gigantic palace? He must've thought her home a joke.
Kory waited for ten minutes, excitement building. One question plagued her: why would Dick not call her himself? Why had his father had to do it? Did he not want to see her? Kory's throat went dry, and she clutched at her bag like it was the only lifeline she had left. Did he even know she was coming? Would he be glad to see her? What if he came home with another girl? What would she do?
The front door opened, and Kory's breath caught. The moment of truth. Dick shuffled into the house, throwing his coat on a coat rack and sighing. He didn't even notice her...or so she thought. There was something off about him...
Dick was about to walk out of the foyer, but stopped when he felt someone staring at him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of red. Another hallucination. When he turned, it would be gone...or not...
The two could hardly believe their eyes. For a second, all was still. Then, Dick held out his arms and Kory ran into them, hugging him and nearly starting to sob again. She couldn't help the single tear that ran down her cheek. Being with Dick already brought back so many memories...
Dick held her tightly, stroking her hair and saying things she couldn't hear. Kory pulled away from him reluctantly, carressing his cheek. "Dick...I have missed you so much." He said nothing back, only stared at her. Hadn't he missed her, too? Why couldn't she place what was wrong with him?
"Hold on..." He left her standing there and stormed inside. "Bruce? Bruce! Where are you? I told you I didn't want her here!" Kory's eyes widened. "I told you I didn't want her coming!"
She held her suitcase close to her, trying not to let her misery overwhelm her. He hadn't known she was coming, because she wasn't supposed to be there. He didn't want to see her again. What was she supposed to do now, head back to the airport and go home? She didn't even have a ride to go to the airport in. Her head was still throbbing from the first plane ride, and this wasn't helping. Dick came back in. "Kory, listen--"
"Do not worry, I have already heard. I apologize for intruding," she cut him off stiffly, not letting her voice shake.
"What? No, you don't understand--"
"I understand enough. Please, where is Alfred? I have no other ride to the airport."
"Dick, please," she begged him. "I wish to go home."
Dick's shoulders sagged, and for the first time, Kory could put a name on what seemed so different about him. He was so beaten, almost exactly like Ryan and Uncle Galfore after they came back from the wars...All the fight had gone out of him. He shuffled out with his head bowed, as if he was heading to jail.
Kory stared forlornly at him. She wished she knew what his case was, but obviously he didn't want to talk to her at all. She couldn't just leave him like that, however much he apparently loathedher presence. Dick caught her stare and tried one last time. "You don't know the whole story, Kory..."
"Then tell me."
"I...I don't want to."
Kory's anger flared. "Very well, then. 'I don't want to' and cannot stand being near someone who cannot even receive me as a friend anymore. Even if you wished to end anything that may or may not have been between us, you need not chase me out of your home. I will go myself." Immediately, she felt terrible about snapping at him. He paled considerably and choked up when he tried to speak. Kory nodded at him, feeling mre cruel than ever, and walked the other way. She heard Dick sigh and creak upstairs.
"So...you're the infamous Kory Anders, I assume?" asked a dark voice. A woman emerged, almost from the shadows, and Kory nearly jumped back in surprise. "Rachel Roth. I'm Dick's psychologist." What was a psychologist again? Some kind of...doctor...for mental illness?
"How--how do you know me?" Kory questioned, slightly disturbed.
"Dick talks about you. All the time. That's how I knew how to find you."
"Oh...I--it is a pleasure to meet you, but I really must find Alfred to take me to the airport--"
"Leaving already? I thought you just got here."
"Yes, but...I apologize, it is not my place to speak. I--"
"Kory, I heard the whole thing. Dick was right, you really don't understand what's going on."
Kory wilted, giving up all hope of leaving so soon. "I truly hope it is something far different than what I believe."
"It is. You need to get the story from Dick. That's why we called you here. You're the only option he has. Either that or complete mental breakdown." That wasn't really a choice. Was his mental illness so serious? If so, why was she the only one who could prevent it?
"I...will try again."
"Good. I'm only here to make sure nothing goes wrong. If it does...well, Dick has no chance of recovery. You'll see. If you can wheedle an explanation out of him." She stopped talking completely, pursing her lips as if nothing good could come out of this. Kory climbed the stairs, peeking in all of the rooms until she found Dick asleep in one of the beds. It was only eight o'clock, but maybe he'd had a hard day...maybe she'd made his day hard.
"Dick? Dick, wake up..."
Dick's eyes shot open in terror, but he calmed ever so slightly when he saw Kory. "I thought you were leaving."
"Would you like for me to leave?"
He sat up, refusing to look at her. "...No."
"Are you sure?"
"Then why will you not trust me?"
Dick shook his head sadly. "It's not a matter of trust, Kory..."
She sat on the bed next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. Dick tensed from the contact, but Kory held her ground. "Do you remember how we sat at the edge of the forest, one night, and as soon as the sun went down all of the fireflies rose and flew around us the entire time?"
His voice temporarily malfunctioning, Dick nodded.
"And the day a dog followed you everywhere until you realized one of the children had played a prank on you and put meat in your pocket?"
Dick almost smiled. Almost, but not quite. "Yeah."
"And when I beat you all three times while wrestling, even when you tried to cheat, and we both found it so surprising that someone as muscular as you are lost to me?" she asked cheekily.
Dick's arm wrapped around her waist as he answered, "I remember."
They sat in silence for a while, and Kory could have almost believed they were back on Tamaran, that nothing had ever happened and they were living in bliss. Then Dick spoke again. "Kory...I made a promise to you...and I broke it..."
"What do you mean, Dick?"
He sighed and tried to let go of her, but she held his arm there. "Koma and Lya, I could've saved them. Koma tripped and fell, and Lya was trying to get her up. I didn't reach them in time, someone had already...already shot..." Kory loosened her grip, and Dick slipped his arm away. "I killed him, Kory, I killed so many people...I feel like a monster. And on top of that you lost someone again, and I'd promised I wouldn't let that happen..."
If Dick was expecting for her to yell at him, he was dead wrong. Kory embraced him again, crying into his chest. "Dick...there was nothing you could have done. Nothing at all. It was not your fault, it was the man who...who did it. Is this what has caused you to fall into depression?"
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, like it was too much work to hold himself up anymore. "Mostly...I missed you so much, Kory, but I couldn't...I could've saved your sister, and I didn't. I couldn't ever look you in the eye again..."
"Dick, I repeat, it is not your fault. I need for you to remember this, or else I will have lost three loved ones to that war. I cannot say that I know how you are feeling, because I myself have never been to war. But I know that it is a terrible thing, and that all is not fair. But at least you can be sure there is still love in this world, no matter what happens." Dick made actual eye contact with her for the first time since she'd gotten there. His hand curled around hers, and she pressed her lips to his. "Tell me everything," she said once they'd separated. Her hand moved to his cheek again, and this time, he didn't pull away. "I am here to listen."
Three Weeks Later...
"You'll visit again, soon, right?"
"No. Now it is your turn to visit Tamaran again. We will alternate."
"Sounds like a plan." Dick pulled Kory close and kissed her goodbye. "I'm gonna miss you..."
"I will write until you are ill from reading my letters," she promised, beaming at him. Dick chuckled.
"That'll never happen. Just don't write anything too dirty--Rachel's still analyzing all of my mail."
"I will have to watch myself," Kory joked after successfully catching his sarcasm. "Goodbye, Dick."
"Flight 685 to Toulon is now boarding," announced a woman over the intercom.
"Yeah, yeah," Dick muttered crossly. "'Bye, Kor." He hugged her one last time.
"I love you," she whispered to him. He smiled back.
"I love you, too." If she didn't leave now, she would never go. Kory pulled her suitcase behind her, glancing back at Dick one last time. She missed him already. Ah well--she only had to wait another month before she saw him again. And this time, he could meet her older brother and father-like uncle. There was going to be love all around...and no fighting, not at all...
Hope you guys liked! I know it was rushed, but I've tried adding as much detail as possible and look what happened...an eleven thousand and seven hundered (exactly!) word story...haha.
I hope this makes up for the long period of next to no activity...this took SO long. But I promise I'll work on my boring stories now...and attempt to make them more exciting...key word there: attempt.