Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans.
Xavier cleared his schedule. Unaware of what had just transpired earlier, he saw it as an opportunity to see Kori, so he made sure to be available to meet Dick at Wayne Manor where Kori had returned to once home from Europe and again from the hospital. Xavier wasn't exactly certain what the status of their relationship, but he was aware that since Kori's illness, she and Dick had reconciled. He was aware, as most people were, that Dick and Kori had begun patching things up once she got home toward the end of Vic and Karen's wedding.
Xavier had learned during some parting words with Barbara before she left for rehab that Dick and Kori were back together. All Babs knew was at that point, as this was before Dick had seen her, was that Richard and Kori were indeed back together and that Dick was no longer seeing her at all.
Xavier couldn't imagine that there weren't some problems between Dick and Kori given all they had been through and it was his plan to exploit whatever there was even without Babs as a co-conspirator.
Xavier arrived at the Wayne Manor in his best dressed-but-still-casual attire, threads that cost hundreds, or if you threw in the shoes, well over a thousand dollars. Not that he ever dressed like a slouch. He had a reputation to maintain after all.
"Thanks for coming by Red, I really appreciate it."
The men didn't shake hands, not that they weren't being civil, but rather because of Dick's injury. As a hand surgeon, handshakes weren't expected about fifty percent of the time.
"Sure thing Dick. What's going on?"
"Come on in and I'll show you my hand and we'll talk about it. Interestingly enough, I think there's been progress."
"Really? That's great." Xavier did his best to not look around for Kori, but his curiosity got to him immediately. "So where's your better half?"
Dick winced slightly. He should have known Xavier was going to ask; Dick didn't want to tell him, but he knew he couldn't lie to him either. No matter how much Xavier had been helping him with his hand and gave all appearances of being a friend when Kori was out of the country, Dick knew not to trust him. Especially when it came to Kori. He hated to think of Xavier that way. He had been great when Kori was so ill, but there was the way he looked at her; like a predatory relishing the moment and about to pounce on its prey.
Dick's tone was a bit sad. "She's at the Embassy."
"Oh, well I'm sorry I missed her. Will she be back soon?"
Dick could not hide his emotions. His shoulders slumped. "She's moved back there," he almost said 'for a while', but was it really? She wasn't going to move back with him until they married, most likely, although he certainly hadn't ruled out marriage. "Living here was a temporary situation because of the press and for security reasons."
Really?"Oh. I guess I hadn't realized. So are you guys okay?"
Dick attempted a smile. "We're doing fine, Red."
Interesting. "It's not another set back, like before with her leaving for Greece, I mean, you guys are still together, right?"
Dick checked his temper. Being defensive would not serve him with Xavier, or with anyone for that matter. "Of course we're together. Again, it was never really expected she'd stay here. We wanted a conventional courtship and we've had anything but."
Xavier thought about that for a moment but his only comments were, "Must be tough. Hope it works out for you, buddy."
Dick set his jaw for a moment and had to give Xavier a warning glare out of habit if for no other reason. He still didn't give in if Xavier was baiting him – he wasn't quite sure. "It's an adjustment but things are great between Kori and me."
Xavier's tried his best to appear concerned, but what he really was was curious. He had to know more. "Not a step backward?"
Dick did not lose his patience but in doing so lost his guard a bit. "No, we don't think so. This is what Kori wants and I want to do whatever she wants. I put her through enough."
"But it's not your fault really, is it? She ran off-"
"Let's not have this discussion. Don't defend me, if that's what you're doing, Red. There are no 'sides'; we don't need people weighing in on this. We didn't really break up, so we don't want any drama. Remember it's between Kori and me. And as as I said, things are great."
"I wouldn't be happy, a girl moves out can't be a good sign. No, I'd be miserable in that situation."
"Well luckily for me and especially for Kori, I'm not you."
Xavier smiled. "I hope it works for you, buddy."
Even though he seemed concerned, even though he seemed to be on Dick's 'side', there was something about the conversation and his smile that reminded Dick why he was no fan of Dr. Red's.
His smarminess aside, Dick needed Red's help.
"I'm hoping you have some good news for me," Richard started as he motioned Red to follow him with a swing of his head, "help yourself to whatever you want to drink. You know where the good stuff is."
"That I do." Red went behind the bar and found the scotch. "Oh, some new ones added to the selection I see." Red picked up a few bottles and poured a short Lagavulin. "And nothing but the best. Can I get you anything?"
"I guess the same if you've opened that."
"Sorry, you did say help yourself." Xavier was anything but sheepish having taken upon himself to open a new bottle of very expensive Scotch Whiskey.
"I did and it was certainly already aged to perfection when purchased. No sense just leaving it sit."
Red gave him a smirk and set up a glass for Dick a gave him a slightly longer pour and pushed it down the mahogany bar toward him. The men held up their glasses to each other. "To good news on your hand."
"Here's hoping I didn't do anything stupid."
"And what exactly did you do?" Xavier asked with a cock of the brow.
In as limited detail as possible, Dick explained to Red that he went to see Barbara and had done so by riding there on one of his motorcycles. Red took time to hear Dick out, and well understood that working the throttle required a lot of use of the right hand. Dick noted that at the time he just worked through the discomfort and pain, that he felt it stretch, but that that there was no weakness in the hand at all.
"I'm encouraged," Red said in conclusion. He set his glass down. "Let me take a look."
He examined Dick's hand, feeling over all the joints and bones, the old incisions and other scars, and then examined its appearance and if there was any evidence of swelling or bruising. He tested mobility and strength. Red felt for crepitus – the crunchiness that might indicate scar tissue or encapsulated fluid – and did find some, which brought him to a positive conclusion.
"Yes, I'm definitely encouraged. I think you broke up some scar tissue, pushing the joints and opening up the range of motion."
Red stared at Dick's hand for a bit, obviously thinking about things, and then started to mobilize the finger joints individually, asking about sensations of pulling and pain, talking things through with Dick the entire time. After another five or so minutes, Red concluded, "It's time to go for it."
Dick looked at Red, hopeful. "Meaning?"
"Well, we haven't addressed the limitations you are facing with the progress you have been making in physical therapy to date." Red let that unfinished statement linger.
Dick brought his left hand to the back of his neck, embarrassed; he hadn't wanted to face any limitations, ever, especially considering it was a self-inflicted injury. "Well, no, there were other things, and I wasn't sure if we were talking about anything like that yet."
"Well, we weren't, we should have been, and we would have been at our next visit, but this works out well. I think we can go in now and debride all the scar tissue out surgically and see if we can restore more of the function. If we are lucky... seventy-five, eighty-to-ninety percent of function. Maybe more."
Dick felt a kick in the gut: Seventy-five percent function of his right hand? He had considered that he was going to lose some function earlier, and it hadn't been working well, but that level of permanent disability?
"Dick remember, I'm good," Red reassured him, seeing his face as he took in the reality of the situation. "I know you've put off – no, we've put off – thinking about this, dealing with this and how it'll affect your career, your riding; but really, you're about fifty, maybe fifty-five percent now-"
"According to your records you were about that at our last visit so with this'll be an improvement. You did tendon damage, it's a year for full healing, you know this."
"Yeah. Okay, good. So surgery, when?"
"Immediately, tomorrow if we can."
"No sense waiting and letting the scar tissue set up again."
"All right, good." Dick paused. He was a bit overwhelmed.
Dick immediately knew he needed to talk to Kori. "Give me a sec. You got some time?"
To be continued...