Disclaimer: Still not mine. Anyone want to give me Teen Titans for Xmas?
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful year.
Broken record: Aussie, spelling and slang… yeah, you get the picture… I don't know how many times I had to retype Mom, cause I spelt it Mum instead.
d'anthe l'ani – keeper of my heart, endearment for a partner
alasehe l'ani – joy of my heart, endearment for a child
myca – mother
Big fat warning: You know me… long winded fluff. It's a one-hot, even though it's long, because I could neither be bothered splitting it into chapters, nor coming up with an all encompassing plot to over arch those chapters.
Do you remember?
Do you remember?
"Are you really sure you want to do this?"
"Yes, Dad," was the exasperated reply.
"But you're so young!" he protested.
"Enough, Dad, you've had nearly a year to say your piece, and you wait until now to bring this up?"
"No buts! Mom approves."
Dick sighed and scrubbed his face with his hand. "You know that's the only reason I'm allowing this."
His daughter gave him the patented Grayson evil eye. "Yes, Dad. I am fully aware of how much Mom twists you around her finger. "
"You're my little girl," he replied with dignity. "I want to protect you—"
"You have two 'little' girls," she replied tartly, tossing her mane of hair over her shoulder. "And you still treat us like we're five. You've got to let us grow up sometime."
He tackled her from behind, hugging her close. "Do not, you'll always be my little girl—"
"Eww, Dad," she said, struggling, "you'll ruin my dress!" He nuzzled her neck playfully, like he used to do when she was younger, and just as she did then, she cringed away giggling. "What's with you? Didn't you get mind sex last night or something?"
"Kesand'r!" Dick snapped, aghast that she'd even suggest it.
"Oh, c'mon, Dad," she said in a huff. "It's no secret you and Mom do that. We've all caught you at least once."
"Doesn't mean I like to be told—"
"Daaaad," she began in a sing song voice. "Guess what I'm doing tonight—"
Dick froze. "That's it. This whole things off," he waggled his finger at her, "and you're joining a convent, young lady."
Kes smiled at him, her mother's smile and Dick felt himself wilting, as he always did. "You married Mom at my age. I'm just keeping with family tradition."
Dick sighed, knowing that there really wasn't anything he could say to that. "Would it really hurt to wait a few more years? Since you love him so much? Spare you old man's heart for a little longer?"
Kes grinned and shook her head, turning back to primp herself in the mirror. "I'm the first of your children to get married, do you really think Mom's gonna let you stop me?"
Dick rolled his eyes.
"Mom is coming, right?" Kes asked suddenly.
Dick blinked and looked up. "Of course, alasehe l'ani. She wouldn't miss this for all the stars in the sky."
"She is a celestial being now, I—"
"She's coming," he said firmly. "She said she was, and you know Mom always keeps her word. She hasn't missed a single important, or unimportant day in your life. But, if it makes you feel better, do you want me to check?"
Kes nodded eagerly. "Can she stop at Tamaran and bring me an e'ara? Or two?" She fluttered her eyelashes at him. "It could be your present to me."
Dick scowled at her as he closed his eyes. "No." Star?
She is worrying again, is she not? I can feel it in your memories.
She's your daughter. She wants—
I am in the other room with Rachel. I shall bring them in a moment. Tell her to stop fretting.
Dick grinned and opened his eyes. "She said you're being a pain, and to stop worrying."
Kes huffed. "She did not."
"Do not pout," Kori said as she entered the room, cradling a small box in her hands. "It is not befitting a bride."
Dick grinned at his wife, allowing his eyes to drink her in. Her glorious red hair had faded, just as his own had streaks of white through it, her face crinkled with laughter of the ages, but her eyes were still as bright and as beautiful as they had been when he married her.
"Mom!" Kes cried, launching herself at Kori and Dick wished that he could do that, but she's probably snap at him for rumpling his tuxedo. Kori smiled at him in greeting as she peered over Kes' shoulder. "You came!"
"Of course I did," Kori laughed. "No silly war on a distant planet could keep me from this day."
Dick frowned at the sudden tension of Kori's mind. It's not going well, is it?
No. I must return soon. Her min voice sounded sad, it was Yurip's world now burdened by war, her people turning to Kori to see if she could help. Her Xarzith friend had long passed away though, but Kori still felt indebted to her people, so had gone.
Dick tried not to sigh, saddened. It had been a while since he'd seen her, the past month felt like an eternity, even though they still saw each other frequently in their mind, it was still difficult to be away from her. And he knew she hated missing so much of the build up to Kes' wedding.
But this time I shall take you with me. I have need for brave Valiand'r to be at my side. "You look beautiful, alasehe l'ani," Kori said, cupping Kes' cheek. "But I fear this ensemble is not yet complete."
Kes frowned, and bounced back to the mirror. "It's not?" she asked as she scrutinised herself, "But… I have a garter, the veil. Simon's dress is perfect—"
"And we're very lucky that he came out of retirement to 'supervise' making that dress for you," Dick said, taking the box from Kori. "But your hair—" He clicked his tongue. "That needs fixing."
Kes patted her hair, "What? There's nothing wrong with—"
Kori giggled and shared a conspiring glance with Dick. "It's missing combs."
Kes froze. "Really?" she squeaked, excitedly. "I get to wear Mom's combs?"
"Grayson family tradition," Dick said, holding up the combs. Kori took them from him, placing them carefully in Kes' hair. "I had hoped that Mar'i—"
"Ease up, Dad," Mar'i said, walking through the door. "You don't approve of Ibn, until you do—"
Dick growled under his breath.
Kori placed her hand on Dick's chest, turning toward Mar'i, "It is Kes' day. Let us make this about her. Please?" Mar'i sighed and nodded, and Kori turned to get Dick's answer.
He stared stony faced at her, but Kori's glare soon overpowered his. "Fine."
"Besides," Kori said, returning to fuss with Kes' hair. "I like Ibn, he is very much like Bruce in a lot of ways."
"Star—" Dick whined.
"There," Kori said, ignoring him and patted Kes' shoulder, her eyes shining with tears, "beautiful."
Kes beamed back. "Thanks, Mom."
"Speaking of Grandpa," Mar'i said, "he and Grandma are all seated, Terry's keeping watch and running errands. Tim and Cass have everything else under control, the groom's all turning green, and Unka Vic's telling dirty jokes."
"And I'm betting Wally's already asking when the food is going to be served," Dick muttered.
Mar'i chuckled. "He brought his own, Dad. He and the twins are having eating contests."
Kori swivelled. "They are what?" she snapped in disapproval. "They will ruin their suits—"
"They're wearing bibs," Mar'i laughed harder. "Layla forced them."
"At least someone has their head screwed on their shoulders correctly." Kori turned back to Kes. "You look wonderful, I shall see you shortly."
Kes smiled tearfully as Kori hugged her. "Thanks Mom."
Kori kissed Dick on her way past, taking Mar'i by the arm. "Let us sort your brothers out," she said as she closed the door behind her. "I swear your father has been allowing the four of you to run wild in my absence," she continued, her voice getting softer as she walked down the hall.
Dick chuckled under his breath, turning back to his youngest, who was staring sadly into the mirror, brushing invisible lint away from the skirt of her white dress. "What's wrong?"
Kes' blue eyes met his in the mirror. "Am I doing the right thing, Daddy?" she asked meekly.
"Where'd this come from?" he asked placing his arms around her stomach. She leaned back, resting her head on his shoulder and he rose up on his toes so she wouldn't have to stoop so much; curse his children that all ended up taller than him. "The two of you have been joined at the hip since birth. I always thought it would be Layla and the twins we'd have trouble with, but noooo, it was our little Kes that was sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to fly to her boyfriend's place for make out session on the roof. Halfway across the world too!"
Kes giggled. "What's the distance when you can fly at the speed of light?"
He tweaked her hair teasingly. "You went to junior prom together, and senior, both schools, and every other event in between. You stayed up all hours of the night chatting on the internet. You two have each other's back when you're patrolling, to be honest Kessie, it's like watching your mother and I all over again." He thought about that. "Except, for, you know, the whole overprotective parents standing in the way, and the whole 'tail' issue."
Kes cocked her head. "Is that why you won't let me have an e'ara? Cause we're just like you and Mom?"
He squeezed her. "Damn right. Just what we need to be worried about, what sort of a'tiyk valm would appear from a Tamaranian/human hybrid and someone whose part demon, part beast and part human."
Kes turned and smacked him. "Benji is not a beast!"
Dick laughed. "He's got Gar in him. Of course he's a beast, but that's what you like about him."
"It is not!" she protested.
"Really?" he drawled, giving her a lop sided grin. "Enlighten me."
Kes began to babble, another trait she'd learned for Kori. "He's the kindest, sweetest, funniest guy I've ever met, he's always there for me and he says the cutest things when he's flustered or when he sticks his tongue out of his mouth when he's playing video games. But he's not all fun and games too, he knows when to be serious and he's so smart, and he can be absolutely brutal in battle, and he makes the sexiest noises—"
"Okay, okay," Dick blurted, halting her there, "I get the picture, don't need you to spell it out for me. But do you love him?"
Kes stilled. "With everything that I am."
Dick grinned, "That's all you need."
"What if it's not enough?" Kes questioned, twisting her fingers together anxiously.
Dick paused, considering for a moment. "Do you know your mother and I split up twice?"
Kes frowned. "Twice? But…"
Dick nodded. He walked across the room and eased himself in the couch, ignoring the arthritis in his knees. He patted the seat beside him in invitation. "The first one, you know. We made sure all of you knew about the three months she was on Tamaran. The second time… well… you know about the whole public scandal that occurred before Mom and I got married on Earth?"
Kes nodded as she sat down beside him. "You said that wasn't true, it was a sham."
Dick nodded. "In a sense, yes. But what we didn't tell you was that even though our human forms couldn't be together, even though Nightwing and Starfire still gave the appearance of a happily married couple, Mom and I drifted apart because of it."
Kes looked astonished.
"It was hard, fighting in public, going on those stupid dates; Ale'x and Dev have no idea what they're setting themselves up for when they do decide to settle down. The media circus is insane, Kes, they're going to be questioned long after their married…" He sighed, "All those cheating claims, a part of you starts to wonder…"
"You didn't!" Kes gasped, her hands going to her mouth in shock. "Dad, how could you?"
Dick scoffed, rolling his eyes, "You jump to conclusions way too quick, you got that from me. Of course I didn't. I love your mother, loved her then, love her now. But we started hiding how we were feeling from each other. I started going to Gotham on my own, just so we wouldn't have to deal with it. I stopped visiting her when she lived in your flat." He sighed. "We stopped talking all together. We slept in separate rooms in the Tower, I stayed in my office. I even… entertained leaving once or twice. Going to Gotham and just not coming back."
"Does Mom know?"
Dick nodded. "She knows. She's more in tune with me than I am. But I've always felt that I don't deserve her, that she's far too good for a lowly human like me."
Kes' face was sympathetic, "Dad you know that's not true, Mom loves you."
"I know; that's why she did what she did to bring us back."
"Ahh, the dress," Kes said with an air of understanding.
"Yes, the infamous dress…" he stilled, remembering how beautiful Kori looked in that dress. "Life was hard for us. We knew the kind of future we had ahead of us, how happy we were going to be. We just had to get there. We knew we would have Mar'i, and that kind of foreknowledge can be hard, especially if you think you don't have to work at your relationship, believe that it's just always going to be there. Having an a'tiyk valm doesn't make it easier Kes, it makes it harder."
"Aww Dad," Kes said sympathetically, placing her hand on his shoulder.
He smiled at his youngest daughter and patted her knee. "Its part of the reason why we never let you children have e'ara's when you were younger." He rolled his eyes, "Mar'i, of course, it was her first rebellious act, to go and get one. But we never wanted you to have that sort of burden. Each of you loves as hard as Mom does, we were frightened for you."
"But you did have us, everything in your life worked out the way the future said it would," she insisted. "I wish I could say the same."
Dick laughed. "Not true, Kessie. Mar'i nearly didn't make it."
"What?" Kes blurted.
"We had trouble conceiving," he explained. "It took us three years to become pregnant with Mar'i, and even then… well… it was a tough pregnancy for both of us. A part of me wondered whether or not Mom would survive it, and whether I would be living with an orb instead of a wife. A part of me wondered whether having children was worth losing my wife. Don't get me wrong, I love you all dearly, but that's where she died in one of the alternate futures."
Kes nodded, "I remember the bedtime stories. My favourite to this day remains Wally dancing around at your birthday in a red afro wig, white dress and pretending to be a stripper to the tune of 'Hey Big Spender'."
Dick laughed heartily. "Ooh, that's my favourite story, too." The laughter dropped to a grumble, "Although I don't quite see why he felt the need to give me a lap dance too." He shook his head to clear himself of unwanted memories. "The point to this, there's no such thing as a happily ever after, no fairy tale ending. Love survives, but you have to work at it, every single day. I believe it would be much easier to know that you make the relationship work, that you and Benji keep it strong, than to have an a'tiyk valm keeping you together. It works for Mom and I, but you and Benji, you can do this on your own. We see it every day, in a hundred little ways, how much you love each other. It's a magical thing." He grinned. "Besides, he's Rachel and Gar's son. You can't do much better than that. I'm just glad he inherited his mother's looks."
Kes sniffled. "Thanks, Dad."
"Aww, hey now," he said, peering at her. "Don't cry, you'll ruin your make up."
Kes sniffed again, and reached for a tissue.
"Mom'll get cranky at me if you cry."
Kes giggled through her tears, dabbing at her eyes. "We won't tell her then."
Dick leaned in, lowered his voice to a whisper. "You mean you haven't figured it out? After all these years? Mom knows everything!"
Kes giggled in response, flicking her head to the door as there was a loud knock. "Yes?"
Ale'x's deep voice wafted through the door. "Mom says everyone's ready."
"So get your butt moving, sista!" Dev crowed loudly.
"Idiot," Layla's dry voice said, before there was a thump and Dev's complaining cry. "Take your time," she called, "they can wait."
Kes laughed and Dick stood, offering her his hand. "C'mon, Kessie. We have just enough time for me to give you the advice Grandpa gave me on my wedding day, and the we can get you off to Benji."
Kes looked sceptical. "Love advice from Grandpa?"
Dick laughed. "It's actually the best advice he's ever given me… relationship wise anyway. He said to me… now what was it?" He placed both hands on Kes' shoulders and went all stern as he mimicked Bruce. "He said 'Love will only take you so far. There has to be friendship, mutual respect and a willingness to make sacrifices for the other person'." Dick paused and grinned. "Then he went on about how much of a brat of a kid that I was."
Kes giggled. "That sounds more like Grandpa."
The grin grew wider as he offered her his elbow. "C'mon, Kessie, let's get you married."
Kes blushed deeply, suddenly embarrassed. "So many people there, Daddy, all looking at me."
"Only one that matters, Kessie," Dick replied, tucking her petite hand into the crook of his arm and rested his hand over the top. "And that's me, in case you were wondering."
Victor was standing at the large double door entrance to the ballroom in Wayne Manor, the almost traditional ceremonial place for any Titan to be wed. Kes had decided she wanted it here early on, so both she and Benji both could follow in their parent footsteps. Garfield had immediately made sure Layla wasn't considering following in his footsteps and organising a surprise wedding.
The twins had looked at each other in surprise when they'd discovered that, both of them immediately mock proposing to the green haired lass. She responded with a raven for each of them, a one way trip to the bottom of the ocean.
Dick, while secretly being glad that all his children inherited the ability to breathe in space, had laughed along with the rest of them as the two sopping boys turned up looking shamefaced.
Kes twitched nervously at Dick's side as Victor grinned at them, Dick wracked his brain to think of a way to calm her. He leaned over, whispered to her out of the corner of his mouth. "You're wearing a garter, right?"
Kes nodded, blushing scarlet.
"Make sure when Benji takes it off, he has to flick it to Grandpa. It's a family tradition."
Kes' mouth dropped open as he winked at her, before she began to giggle. "Oh, to have seen that."
Dick grinned at her. "It bounced off Gar, and landed on his ear…"
"On Batman's ear?" she gasped.
Dick nodded smugly. "Don't tell him. I'm maintaining it was accidental."
By the time Kes' had managed to control the giggles, Victor had his hands on the doors handles, ready to swing them open, a happy uncle grin on his face. "You look smokin', Kes."
Dick mock scowled at him while Kes giggled. "Making eyes at my daughter?"
"Passin' off a compliment, man," Victor rolled his eyes. "She's too young for me, and Babs'd have my head. We're just waiting on—"
Iris rushed up, her strawberry blonde hair bouncing. "Here I am," she blurted, red faced and flustered as she smoothed out the flowing skirt of her pale lavender dress. "Sorry!"
Kes raised an eyebrow at her best friend. "Super speed and you still manage to be late."
Iris poked her tongue out at Kes as she took her place before her, her flowers held before her. "I was distracted, but I'm here now—"
"I had to pull her out of the closet," Mar'i said as she approached from the same direction Iris had dashed in from, "she was smooching one of the waiters in there."
"Mar'i!" Iris said, casting a meaningful glance at Dick. "Shush."
Dick sighed and pretended he didn't hear a thing. "Ready, Kessie?"
"As I'll ever be," she replied, grabbing at Dick's arm with both hands, the flowers she was holding squishing against his arm.
He winced, "Ease up."
"Sorry," she whispered, loosening her grip just to tighten it again when the music started.
Iris fussed around with her dress for a moment, smoothing it down more and checking her hair before she took the lead, walking around the corner and down the red carpet that trekked through the centre of the room.
"Slowly," Mar'i warned, tossing her black hair over her shoulder and then winked at Kes. "C'mon, sister," she teased. "While Dad's young enough to walk."
Dick resisted the urge to boot his eldest up the backside, while Victor snickered. "Kessie," he whispered through his teeth as they walked slowly down the isle. "Dad's breakable."
She didn't seem to notice. "Oh," she said, her voice full of awe. "Doesn't he look handsome?"
Dick lifted his eyes to the podium at the front, trying not to wince as the photographer hired for the event flashed his camera in his face. "I'm seeing stars," he murmured.
"Then stop looking at Mom," his daughter sassed back, before the tone went back to awe. "Oh… Benji."
"Walking, Kes," Dick warned, flashing her a look. "No floating down the isle."
"Can we walk faster then?" Kes asked, suddenly very eager.
Dick winked at Selina as they approached her and the place where Bruce, Tim, Cass and Terry sat. "No. Going to keep you as my little girl as long as possible."
"You look beautiful, Kes," Selina whispered as they passed.
Bruce surreptitiously scrubbed an eye, and shifted his grip on his cane, staring stony faced up at the podium. Dick, unfortunately, couldn't see much beyond Mar'i's form, watching her bare back and wishing he'd insisted that the bride's maids were not allowed to wear backless dresses. At least her black hair was down, he consoled himself, that covered most of her back, but he glared at Ibn all the same as they passed him, willing the spawn of al Ghul to keep his hands to himself.
Wally let out a low whistle to his daughter as she walked past him, and she responded by poking her tongue out at him. Dick rolled his eyes at Wally, who in turn winked cheekily and received a clip up the back of his head from Jenny for his trouble.
And then they were before the alter, Benji beaming down excitedly and ready to take Dick's little girl away from him. Now it was Dick clutching as Kes' hand as though it was a lifeline, not wanting to let her go, let her grow up and be her own woman.
Kori's voice sounded in his head. You need to let her go, Richard.
Dick blinked, feeling childish. Don't want to.
She could easily break your grip, you know that.
It is time.
Dick sighed, looking up at the expectant priest and the suddenly sweating Benji, knowing he was supposed to give her away now. Turning, he looked up at his daughter.
"Who gives this woman to this man?" the priest prompted again.
Dick patted Kes' hand and kissed her cheek tenderly as he let her go and placed her hand in Benji's. "I do."
"Oh thank God," Garfield muttered from behind them. "I thought he was going to—" and then Rachel hissed at him to be quiet.
Kori took his hand as he returned to her side, sitting down on the long benched seats that had been set up for this occasion. Well done.
Dick tried to listen to Kes and Benji's vows tried to listen to them declare their love for each other for all eternity, but his mind was drawn into Kori's as she remembered.
Mar'i's first steps, her first words, the way she looked at her newborn brothers in disgust, and then the adoring way she looked at Kes when she was born. Blackfire warped herself over the top of the image. Kori often saw her sister in their eldest daughter, the sass, the defiance, the pride in her heritage.
Dick leaned towards his wife, placed his head against hers and changed the focus of the memories. Little Kes' first birthday party, Kori had gone overboard with balloons and streamers and the pink pony cake she'd made. Their memory shifted to Kes' fifth birthday, when she'd gotten a proper two wheeled bike, without training wheels. Together they watched her take those first few peddles on her own, watched as the bike lifted away from the ground in Kes' happiness.
She's just like you, Dick sent. Even now, Kes' feet weren't quite on the ground, but Dick didn't think anyone else would notice.
He shifted his memories again, six year old Kes, with her brothers and sister lounging behind her and the shock on her face as Santa slipped down the chimney to deliver her Christmas presents. And then the following year, as Santa came down the chimney again, while Kes sat on daddy's lap. Dick gleefully recalled the look on Bruce's face when he asked him for that favour; Kori not quite ready for her youngest daughter to stop believing in the magic of Christmas.
Kori giggled into his mind. You do love to pick on him.
Always, Dick sent in return. But I was also thinking of the boy's faces when Bruce shimmied down the chimney, and I was sitting there. They couldn't believe it.
And Kes was dancing around and singing that she had been right about Santa.
And claiming they wouldn't get any presents because they didn't believe. We're just lucky Benji and Layla were staying over for that too, or Gar would've had to reproduce it for them.
Kori sighed and squeezed his hand. She looks glorious, they both do. So happy.
Dick nodded in agreement, his head still pressed against hers.
On the other side of Kori, Rachel sniffed quietly, dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, and Kori responded by reaching out and taking her free hand.
"Seems like only yesterday," Rachel said quietly. "That they were playing dress up as husband and wife, and Kes said she was going to marry him."
"And Benji proclaiming he could not possibly because she had the 'cooties'," Kori answered with a light laugh.
"They're very best of the four of us," Rachel said, her voice melancholy.
"God, I feel sorry for their kids," Garfield added, his hand on Rachel's knee. "They're going to be perfect."
Dick chuckled quietly.
"You're kidding me, right?" Victor whispered from behind them and leaned forward on his chair so his face was between Kori and Rachel's, his arms stretched out along the back of the chair. "Perfect? Not if it's got anything of you in there, BB. Now, if it was just the lovely ladies, and not the spawn of you and Dick, then would be perfect."
"Oh hush," Kori said, batting at Victor playfully.
"Why are you even talking about grandkids anywho? They're not married yet. Are you sure you want to be a granddaddy Grass stain?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Garfield asked, confused.
Victor winked at him. "Cause it means little Kessie's doing the nasty with your boy, and I think that'll give Dick—"
"Oh God," Dick groaned. "That's it, when they get to the objection bit, I'm going to—"
"Do nothing," Kori said, suddenly ecstatic and almost bouncing up and down in her seat.
Dick flicked his attention to his daughter and her soon to be husband. "Damn," he muttered, seeing them placing rings on each others fingers. "Missed it."
"What a shame," Garfield teased.
Dick grinned at him in reply.
"By the power invested in me," the priest was saying, "I know pronounce you husband and wife."
Dick was on his feet with the rest of the people attending as Benji grabbed Kes' waist and dipped her into a heated kiss, clapping loudly and whistling with pride and happiness.
Kes went bright red, but that didn't seem to stop Benji from kissing her.
"That's my boy!" Garfield bellowed happily, letting out a shrill whistle.
Dick continued to clap. "If he doesn't get his paws of her soon—"
"Oh hush, Richard," Kori said happily, nudging him.
He turned and wrapped his arms around his wife, pulling her into a bear hug, grinning widely. "One down, three to go."
Benji grinned and flicked Kes' garter into the crowd of boys. A moment later it was enveloped in energy and cast onto Bruce's lap. The aged man picked it up between his thumb and forefinger and looked at it disdainfully.
Complete silence, no one dared move before Dick, Garfield, Victor and Wally roared in laughter.
"Trust it to be purple," Bruce muttered loudly. "Just like her mothers. I'll add this to the collection."
Selina turned, her arms crossing at her chest and one hip cocked. "Oh?" she asked, "And just how many in this collection of yours?"
"As of now?" Bruce asked stoically. "Two."
"Two?" Selina pressed for more, her fingers tapping against her arm.
Bruce shrugged, disinterested. "The other is in Dick's wedding album in my office."
Dick's laughter died. "You kept it?" Bruce just smirked, watching while Dick spluttered in shock.
"Least they're holding with that family tradition," Rachel said from Kori's side.
Kori grinned at her. "And just who was controlling the garter then, sister?"
Rachel cast her a sideways glance. "You know I'll never tell."
Kori reached over and interlocked their hands. "Your secret is safe with me."
"He never ceases to amaze me," Dick muttered, threading his fingers through Kori's other hand. "Imagine, keeping your garter. Your garter."
Rachel arched an eyebrow at him. "Do you have a problem with that?"
"Most certainly do," he replied. "Now I'm going to have to break into his office and steal it back."
"Take the twins with you," Kori said mildly. "They do love a challenge."
Two bodies thumped against her back. "Was that permission, Mom?" Dev crooned from her right shoulder, while Ale'x appeared over her left. "Al, we have permission to break in to Grandpa's office."
"We must begin with the planning!" Ale'x declared immediately.
"Right on, brother! To the Batcave?"
"The Batcave!" Ale'x cried, mock posing. "Where we will right wrongs and triumph over —"
Kori eyed them while Dick shook his head. "And how much have you two had to drink?"
"Not nearly enough," Dev cried, his arms outrageously posed and directed toward the bar. "To the bar!"
"The bar!" Ale'x echoed, copying his brother in a classic superman pose.
"We've created monsters," Dick said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
Layla rolled her eyes as she stepped past them, touching her mother briefly on the shoulder. "I'll make sure they don't kill themselves, Aunt Kori," she muttered.
"She's a good girl," Dick said with a nod toward Rachel. "Now, if you'll excuse us, Rae, I want to dance with my wife."
Kori allowed herself to be tugged away from Rachel and toward the dance floor. "Are you certain you knees can handle a dance?"
He wrinkled his nose at her. "I'll manage." He twirled her under his arm and then pulled her against him. "You can always carry me home later," he teased.
"Oh, can I?" she said, arching an eyebrow at him, her hand drifting up to his shoulder.
"Well," he replied with a wink. "I can attempt to chase you across the rooftops like I used to, but that's best left to the younguns, and you'll just have to settle for a chase around the bedroom."
Kori laughed as he spun her around. "You do realise we are not getting any sleep tonight."
"That's the plan," Dick replied cheekily.
Kori giggled, pressing her cheek against his.
Dick made a small sound of contentment before a shout from the bar brought both their attention to their sons. "I wonder why they didn't bring dates," Dick mused. "They're always on their best behaviour with a girl on their arms."
"They wished to be themselves for their sister's wedding," Kori answered. "As Dev said; 'What better way to make our younger sister wedding extra special than to make a scene'."
Dick laughed and shook his head at the antics of their sons.
"Besides," Kori continued. "Destiny and Gloria are 'taking the break'."
"Destiny? Gloria?" Dick said, turning his head back to her, his face a picture of surprise. "Those are new names… and how do you know anyway? You've been away for a while."
Kori smiled smugly at him. "It is a mother's duty to know her children, Richard."
Dick huffed at her.
"Do you remember when they were just boys?" Kori asked. "They always ran to you with their problems. Daddy could solve anything. Daddy is the strongest man in the universe, even stronger that Superman, who had to rely on powers—"
Dick chuckled. "Don't tell Clarke."
"Daddy was an 'awesome' crime fighter, and he was the best after Grandpa."
"Those were the days," Dick said with a sigh.
"I remember the times when you patrolled at night," Kori continued, feeling melancholy as they swayed in time with the music. "The five of us would sit down by the fire with the hot chocolates and marshmellows and wait for you to return, just so we knew you would be safe."
Dick blinked in surprise. "I didn't know that."
"I could feel you coming home. They were always asleep by then so I would put them to bed so you would not know. And now our children are the crime fighters, and we are the ones waiting at home for their return."
"The Awesome Foursome," Dick said with a laugh. "Dart and Swift, Nightstar and Firewing. I guess now Corvus will be joining them full time."
"D'anthe l'ani," Kori said with a smile, her thumb stroking his neck. "Benji has been battling beside our children for some time now. Even Nyx has been relocated, although I do not believe Benji likes the idea of fighting along side his sister. But our children and the Logan's have always been inseparable."
Dick laughed. "I really should keep track of these things better."
"Then what would I do?" Kori asked playfully.
He kissed her nose, wrapped his arms around her waist to pull her closer. "I have a few ideas."
"What?" Kori asked, turning around. "Surely we are not out… Richard, why did you not tell me? I could have brought some home—"
"Just teasing," Dick replied in Tamaranian, and with a cheeky wink. "They are in the fridge, just as usual."
Kori whacked him with the wooden spoon, before returning to her preparations. "How long do you think we have?"
Dick considered, glancing at the clock. "Long enough for you to get them into the oven."
"You started it," Dick reminded her, his hand on the small of his back as he moved around her.
"I never expected it to turn into such a huge affair."
"Our family grew," Dick relied with a shrug. He leaned in and nuzzled her cheek a moment, switching to English. "C'mon Star, the horde'll be here soon."
The oven door barely had long enough to creak closed before the door to the kitchen swung open and Garfield and Rachel walked in, now free of their holographic images.
"Right on time," Dick said, grinning at both of them.
"As always," Rachel replied. "I swear he can smell the berries the moment Star starts preparing them."
"They're hard to miss," Garfield said, bouncing over to Kori's side. "Can I help?"
"Can you help yourself, you mean," Rachel said dryly.
Garfield shrugged unfazed. "Whatever gets me pie."
Kori smacked his fingers as Garfield reached toward the oven door. "It has only just gone in. You must wait."
"Aww c'mon, Kori," Garfield pleaded, trying to get past her as she barricaded the oven door. "We're family now."
"We always were," she replied tartly, shifting her weight in time with Garfield's erratic pie seeking movements.
"I'll use drastic measures," Garfield teased with a waggle of his eyebrows, his hand raised and his fingers wriggling teasingly.
Kori scooted away from him. "Do not dare."
Garfield pounced, his body suddenly shifting into an octopus as he started tickling Kori.
"Did you see Vic on you way here?" Dick asked mildly as Kori shrieked in laughter and writhed on the floor with Garfield.
Rachel shrugged. "Heard grumblings from his room. I assume that meant Babs was awake."
Dick nodded absently and stepped over the mass of octopus and laughing Tamaranian as he reached for the kettle. "Tea?"
"Please," Rachel replied in perfect tranquility and floated several mugs over to the table. With another flick of her hand, she had the sugar, milk and several spoons on the way, while Dick carefully maneuvered himself and the boiled kettle around the still laughing people on the ground. "Biscuits?"
Dick nodded. "Thanks. It'll keep Gar happy until—"
"Cookies?" Garfield piped, popping back into his natural shape and bolting into a standing position.
Dick winked at Rachel and reached down a hand to help a breathless and still giggling Kori to her feet.
"Are you a grown up again, babe?" Rachel asked mildly, stirring her cup of tea.
"BB's always the pinnacle of adult-ness," Victor announced, striding through the door with Barbara tucked safely under his arm. "Why, there's never been a more mature beast than him, he's so very well trained—"
"Oh stop teasing," Barbara said, with a roll of her eyes. "Star might take away your pie."
Victor immediately turned his big eyes on Kori. "You'd never do that, would you, little lady?"
"I might," she quipped with a bright smile. "It depends on how much Barbara paid me."
"Please tell me there are cookies, Rae," Garfield said, bouncing over to her side.
Rachel rolled her eyes. "Of course there are cookies," she said, smiling when he swooped in to kiss her happily.
"There is even stuff for hot chocolate," Barbara said, rummaging through the fridge. "Oh, leftover baileys. Yum."
"Baileys!" dual voices announced.
Dick groaned and Kori put her hand on his shoulder, squeezing lightly. "I believe the two of you may have already had enough to drink."
"Aww Mom," Ale'x and Dev complained immediately, pouting at her as they strutted through the door.
"Listen to your mother," Dick said automatically.
"But its baileys," Dev protested, "its tradition, Dad."
"Since when was it tradition to drink yourself into a stupor?" Layla asked as she kissed her father's cheek and sat down next to her mother.
"With you looking over our shoulder, little myca?" Ale'x asked teasingly. "Hardly ever."
"Not her fault she's the only sensible one of the three of you," Mar'i said mildly as she walked into the room behind Layla.
"That's nearly everyone," Dick murmured to Kori as their family teased and laughed at each other as they passed the kettle back and forward, setting up various beverages. Ale'x went straight to the fridge, collecting the baileys from Barbara while Dev collected cups, planting them in the middle of the table. Mar'i gathered up the hot chocolate ingredients talking animatedly to Victor. "Just missing—"
A greeting cry went up as Wally and Jenny entered, Iris waltzing in behind them.
Kori giggled, her hand still on his shoulder as Dick sat down again.
"Do you remember the last time we all got together like this?" Dick asked, looking up at his wife.
"Yes," Kori responded immediately. "Layla's twenty first birthday."
"Really?" Dick asked, pulling her onto his lap. "That was a while ago."
Kori shrugged, weaving her arms around his neck. "It does not seem that long ago." She was silent for a moment, watching the twins and Layla bicker about drinks and how many the twins had had that night. "They grew up so fast."
"Not really," Dick said, slipping into mind speech, it just seems that way.
So many memories. Kori sent. Birthdays, first days of school, high school, the heartbreak of first loves… we have seen it all, Richard.
Not everything, Dick replied, no grandkids yet. And I plan to be sticking around for those for a long time.
Kori smiled, pressing her forehead to his and tracing her fingers along his cheek, I shall as well.
Good, because I don't know who else I'd rather spend eternity with. Plus, its payback, we get to spoil the grandkids and hand them back.
Kori giggled. You do realise that Kes will have to couple with—
Lalalala, I can't hear you, Dick sent immediately, squeezing shut his eyes. Immaculate conception.
Kori laughed. Perhaps I should remind you how children are conceived, d'anthe l'ani.
He hugged her tighter, and grinned at her cheekily. I did promise to chase you around later.
Victor plunked two hot chocolates down in front of them then, ruining the moment, but he didn't seem to notice as he continued his conversation with Mar'i, explaining the mechanisms of the T-Car Mark IV. Ale'x, Dev, Wally and Garfield were toasting each other loudly, while Layla looked on in disgust. Rachel, Jenny and Barbara were chatting amiably with each other while passing around cookies.
"What's all the ruckus?" Bruce snapped sternly, limping into the kitchen and leaning heavily on his cane. "Noisy children."
"'bout damn time," Dick said, "Get your hear aids checked, old man."
"Actually, I had to go get him," Terry said with a roll of his eyes and pulled out a chair for Bruce, who humphed as he sat down.
Iris pounced on Terry, dragging him away.
"Hmm," Wally said, plunking himself down next to Dick, his eyes watching his daughter. "Do you think I should be worried?"
"It depends," Dick replied, "if you really want to be related to Bruce or not."
"Worked for you," Wally said with a grin.
Dick shrugged. "I have the benefits of good breeding tempered with growing up under Bruce's wing. Terry's stuck with his genes."
Wally shuddered. "God forbid."
Tim, Cass and Selina slinked in next, taking up even more of Alfred's old kitchen, but Dick didn't really notice the extra people. It was just family.
Dev and Ale'x bellowed in happiness and greeting, raising their glasses, being the first to have notice Benji and Kes hesitating at the door.
Kori let out a delighted sigh, her hands clasped together, as people greeted the newlyweds, clapping Benji on the back, or kissing Kes' cheek. I love it when everyone is together.
Me too, Dick replied, leaning up for a kiss.
The friendly, family atmosphere in the kitchen disappeared the moment the oven went ding.
Author's note 2:
Author's note 2:
She who begins with pie, must end with it too.
Ahh, Terry. Yes it's the Terry from the Batman of the Future. Yes, he's Batman's biological child… let's just make a mess of things huh? Ibn, he's Mar'i's love interest from the Kingdom Come comics (also know as Damien) and is also the spawn of Bruce, which is why Dick didn't like him. I don't know much about him more than that, hence his small appearance… Too many characters –headache—
Corvus – Latin name for Crow(yes yes, I know the stereotype). Benji, in my opinion, would have Garfield's powers, with the flavour of his mother. But his favourite form is the crow (probably because since he looks like Raven, the crow would have the most realistic colour, a nearly back). Hence the name.
Nyx – Greek Goddess of the Night. She has more Ravenistic powers despite Garfield's looks. There's a fair bit of mythology behind her, but I imagine Layla, being Garfield's daughter too, probably just found out she was the Goddess of night and thought 'cool' and missed the part about her being the mother of the chaos gods, (all twenty odd of them). She's since learnt to do her research thoroughly after many sessions of teasing from the twins (ie little myca).
Also, because I knooooow you've all picked it up and are gonna want to see it. I did actually write out, for Royal's entertainment purposes of course, Wally's dance for Dick… Everyone that reviews gets a copy…
Nah, I'm not a review whore. It was originally part of a bigger story called 'Alase' that's been abandoned, but it was just too damn funny just to gather dust. Here it is:
"C'mon, boss!" Wally announced, dragging Dick away from her. Barbara placed a seat in the middle of the dance floor on deck, one which Wally dumped Dick into.
"Huh?" Dick blurted.
"Entertainment time!" Wally announced gleefully. "It's my birthday present to you!"
Dick frowned. "Wal, what did you do?"
"Hired a stripper!" the speedster said cheerfully.
Dick went red and began to splutter, his eyes bugging out as he looked at Kori, who couldn't seem to contain her giggles. "I don't know about that-"
Jenny poked her head through the double doors that led into the yacht itself and the many sleeping quarters below deck. "Wal? Honey? She's not ready yet."
Wally huffed. "What do you mean 'she's not ready yet'?" he questioned. "Damn woman, she's had ages."
Jenny shrugged. "Sorry. You'd better come and talk to her."
Wally heaved in a dramatic sigh. He held out two hands to Dick, indication that he should remain seated. "Stay there. I'll be right back."
Victor clapped his hand down on Dick's shoulder. "You hurry that woman up," he said. "I'll make sure Dick stays put."
Titans and Justice League members gathered around the outside of the dance floor, talking between themselves. Clark and Lois standing close together talking softly, Shayera and John laughing over something. Bruce, Selina and Diana seemed to be deep in some sort of discussion. Tim, Cassie and a lot of members of the younger Titans congregating in a group close by the door, trying to look through with interest. Roy and Garth were by the food table, arguing over fish sticks by the looks of things. Karen and Rachel were leaning against the railing that surrounded the edge of the deck, looking out onto the ocean. Kole, Jehrico, Toni and Isaiah were standing together, Gnnark unable to come seeing that they were on a boat and he was still uncomfortable around technology.
Jenny excited the double doors, grinning broadly and signaling to Garfield who waited patiently by the stereo. "She's ready."
Conversation stilled and all eyes turned expectantly to the door as jazz music filled the air.
The door opened a crack, one white stocking leg, complete with a red high-heeled shoe poking through. The leg did a taunting little mid air movement.
Dick's heart stopped, his eyes widened exponentially and his eyes flashed to Kori, wondering how she was going to react.
A deep, husky yet feminine voice filled the air. "The minute you walked in the joint-"
Kori and the others watching began to laugh as Wally strode out from behind the doors, swinging his hips sexily. He wore a long, white and strapless dress, every inch of the dress covered in small tassels that flowed in the wind and shook with every movement of his hips, and the dress was split at one side, all the way up to his hip. He wore a long, bright red Afro wig, and his face was painted.
As the song paused and the 'boom boom' sounded, Wally stopped, curved his back so his bottom stuck out and moved his hips in time with each boom, exaggerating the motion.
Dick burst into laughter.
"I could see you were a man of distinction." Wally ran his hand up his exposed stoking leg and waggled his eyebrows at Dick. "A real big spender!" Wally turned and shook his bottom at Dick.
"Shake that booty!" Roy yelled loudly, causing another bout of uproarious laughter.
Wally reached Dick. "Good looking, so refined," he sang along with the words, running his hand down Dick's face, to which Dick grimaced through his smile, shoving Wally's hands away.
"Say, wouldn't you like to know what's going on in my mind?" Wally stalked around Dick, his hands trailing over Dick's shoulder and chest, until he was back at Dick's front.
"Now let me get right to the point!" The music made that sexy little crescendo as Wally stuck out his bottom again. "I don't pop my cork for every man I see," Wally grinned wickedly as his hand slapped his bottom on the word 'cork'. Wolf whistles began then.
Dick groaned loudly, covering his face with his hands.
"Hey Big Spender!" Wally sashayed around. "Spend a little time with me!"
Dick caught Kori's eye, seeing the laughter and delight on her face and just knew she'd been in on the joke.
And the next moment, Wally was on Dick's lap, singing along with the music. "Say, wouldn't you like to have fun, fun, fun." He slung one hand over Dick's shoulder, leaned back and raised his leg in the air, doing a little kick at the knee. "How's about a few laughs, laughs?"
Dick rolled his eyes and shoved at Wally to get him off his lap, but Wally was off and dancing away again.
Garfield was laughing gleefully over by the stereo, leaning against Mal for support. Bruce had tears in his eyes as he was laughing, clapping a hysterical Tim on the back at the same time. Even Alfred, standing off to the side had a huge grin on his face. Rachel and Karen were giggling together and Barbara was laughing loudly from Kori's side.
"Hey Big Spender!"
Dick rolled his eyes as Wally shook his bottom again. That getup was completely ridiculous, but there was a certain amount of relief that it was a prank, not a real stripper. And at least Wally wasn't taking his clothes off.
His eyes flickered over to Kori, grinning sheepishly and she gave him a bright smile in return before Wally shimmied around into his vision again. Wally grabbed onto Dick's hands and placing them on his hips while he shook them.
"You're a real prick," Dick said, snatching his hands away, his face going red again.
"You know you want me," Wally retorted with a grin. "Now let me get right to the point!" Wally stuck out his bottom again, waggling his eyebrows, resting a hand on his backside. "C'mon, Dick, you know you want to. I don't pop my cork for every man I see."
Dick shoved him away playfully, his eyes roaming over to Kori again. "Please tell me this is being recorded. You need to be embarrassed later."
"No one's gonna recognise me, Dick," Wally said, making kissy faces at him.
"How does one 'pop' his cork?" Kori asked between giggles.
"Wanna try it, Star?" Wally asked, sashaying over to her. He took one hand, placed the other on the small of her back and twirled her around to the music, before dumping Kori on Dick's lap. "Pop his cork for him, I'm far too hot for someone like him."
"Please tell me that wasn't the only dance I'm getting for my birthday," Dick begged, his arms around her to hold her there, protecting himself from the still dancing Wally who was now sashaying sexily toward the laughing Roy.
Kori's smile was secretive. "You shall have to wait and see."
Dick smirked at her. "Least you don't have chicken legs like Wally. But I wonder…"
Kori cocked her head at him. "Wonder what?"
He slipped his hand up the outside of her thigh. "Can I convince you to wear a sparkly garter? Wally's did nothing for me."
Kori pulled back to stare at him. "And you noticed."
Dick shuddered. "It wasn't hard to miss, do you see how far that slit goes up… least he shaved his legs, I can tease him over that."
Kori leaned back, peering at Wally who was steadily dancing his way toward Bruce. "He is always very thoroughly prepared," she replied, turning back to Dick. She kissed her way along his jaw to his ear. "But I think you'll find my preparations even better."
Author's note 3: