Author's note April 10, 2016: working on the rest of the story as my health improves... I'm also waiting for my stallion's first foal since we've owned him so it's late nights for the next few days. Don't hold your breath, but please don't give up – the next chapters are in the work and much of the end of this fic has been written (I kid you not) since 2009/2010.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans. If I did, I'd share them with Kry. Oh and if I owned DC Comics, I'd fire Dan DiDio and his black, Nightwing-hating soul.
Richard hung his head. He knew the conversation was a long time coming. They'd been talking about a lot of things so calmly and rationally that night before he was to have his surgery. Not that he didn't want to face this conversation or that he didn't think it was important. He wasn't going to deny the fact that he had cheated on Kori with Barbara, not was he going to make any excuses.
He knew he was going to be honest no matter how much it was going to hurt him to say it, no matter how it made him feel about himself to express that he had failed her in so many ways.
He had to shoulder the entire burden. Sure there were external stressors, but Richard could not see that Kori or anyone else for that matter could shoulder any of the blame; not even Barbara.
"I owe you more than an apology. As I said before you went to Greece, I don't deserve you-"
"No Kori please, I have to say this." In case I lose my nerve or don't get the chance. "You yourself warned me against 'crossing you' as you so succinctly put it, that you had no intention on dating me if I were to fall into my old habits. You were honest about your expectations of our relationship and I agreed from the start and told you so. But the fact remains that I did fail you, I failed us. I fell into some of my old actions, my old mind set."
Kori was taken aback by that, and her body language showed it. Richard paused. She thought briefly she'd be sure to understand exactly what had meant by being in 'his old mind set', and if she was deceived the entire time.
Reading her, he went on, reassuring her without overstating things. "It was moments that I felt like being that guy, how I used to be. Never when I was with you and much of the time I wasn't. Well, until you went away. Then I did let the resentment invade my thinking, control my mind and override my better judgment. But I had already cheated on you. I may not have slept with Babs," Richard took a pause and noted that Kori's previously braced backbone, rigid on a ladder back chair, settled a bit, as she let out a breath she must have been holding. Richard stifled the urge to touch Kori, to reassure her, to stop speaking. He wanted to direct attention back to Kori and stop this painful monologue, but he went on knowing that any delay would just prolong the pain, "but I did spent time with her, I lavished attention on her beyond the support of a friend and sponsor."
Kori nodded and struggled with tears.
"It gave the wrong impression to Barbara, to outsiders but worse yet deep down I was fully cognizant of what I was doing at the time."
Richard went on, explaining apologetically that under the stress of the situation, he felt he 'deserved' more from Kori, and fought a push-pull of desire to have more with her and found a more than willing surrogate in Babs. He expressed that he knew he could blame it in part that he was scared of his future, afraid to have a great life with Kori, so he was at times sabotaging it.
"I'm only trying to put it into words. I can't excuse what I did, where my head was at, Kori. You just deserve complete honesty."
"But you never did the asking." Kori's voice was soft. "The only time you pushed at all was that night you had been doing the drinking."
Richard sighed, a sorrowful sound. "I know. And I didn't want to push you, not that I didn't want you, or that I don't. It is always more than just a physical need; I really do only want you. But more than that I wanted to give you, I mean I still want to give us that wedding night-"
"You do?" She was hopeful and not a little bit surprised.
"Of course." His voice was kind but firm.
"But you just said that you wanted to sabotage things with us-"
"There were times, yes. But no longer."
"I see." Kori looked down into her lap, mulling over his words against his actions of the previous months. "But all of this was before I left, correct?"
Richard closed his eyes, as if he was trying to unsee the memory of his mistakes. "No, I mean, yes you saw what you saw, but things were on and off when you were gone. Babs tried to capitalize on the opportunity, and yes, I let her. Please understand. It didn't go that far. There was the confusion over my mother's ring and when I heard of your relationship with the General. God, and when you got home there was Xavier. I mean it's hypocritical but-"
Kori gave a small smile. At least he saw that, even if she didn't reciprocate either man's feelings, given Richard's behavior, was there any difference. Still, "No Richard, it was not like that, neither of those men could ever take your place. But when I..."
She faulted, trying to best categorize the time that she lost her more recent memories, "When I no longer remembered what had recently happened, we fell into a happy reunion and things fell into such a natural routine. I felt as though we could already have been married. Did you not feel it?"
His entire demeanor soften, and she entirely relaxed. "It did feel perfect again Kori. That's how I was and am certain that everything can be fine, as it should be. I believe we are amazing together. It's just up to each of us to decide we want to make it work."
"That is the one stumbling block; although I do not think-"
"You don't have to decide now. Can we get through this and then decide? Please?" He did not want or need additional stress.
They spoke for some time. Richard did his best to explain what he felt, but he knew he could never make up for not acting toward Kori all that time, for losing faith in them. There was so much he wanted to do and say. He also just wanted to go back and change things.
It didn't help that he decided to skip his pain meds so he had a clear head through this discussion and that he also had to stop eating because of the surgery the next day.
But he would hang in as long as it took.
Kori spoke about how clearly she remembered how things were between them when for the time when she had lost her memory of the previous months and how wonderful things were.
Richard smiled, "It worried how you react when you remembered and I did not know how to tell you, but when those concerns were out of my mind, I was so very happy."
She was suddenly struck by the realization, and said as much, "You never did the pushing of me. I mean, when I had the lapse of the memory and did not remember the bad times, you did not take the advantage."
Richard looked at her for a moment. "No, of course not. But I didn't tell you either. I knew the mistakes I made, I needed to come clean about them."
"Perhaps, but with all the signals I was giving you, with the closeness I was offering you, you could have easily pursued things, pushed things along." She blushed a bit. "In the later evenings, I know I did not give the signals that I was not the unwilling."
He cupped her chin. "I was not going to breech our trust."
Kori shook her head. "Richard, you must, must, stop punishing yourself. When, as they say, 'push comes to shove', you do the stopping of yourself. You did not sleep with Barbara. You did not push me beyond what I had offered sexually when we had begun our relationship. When you crossed the line, you stopped. You made mistakes, but you made corrections-"
"But, but are you not doing the coming of the clean now? I love you, Richard. We need to communicate better, that is for certain. I want us to work. It is decided." She bit her lip and gave a nod. "Yes, I have made the decision."
Richard's breath was ragged. He honestly hadn't consider she'd agreed so easily. "You, um, are certain?"
"Yes, of course. I have never deluded myself that things would be easy between us my love." He flinched at her words, she hoped he wouldn't think that she thought they weren't compatible in the long run, and she immediately covered his hand with hers to reassured him, "but I always, always knew we had a bond from the moment we met, correct? Before we dated, before we knew about our past."
He met her reassuring smile with a grin. "You're right, as always."
"And that gives us even more of the advantage. We have both made mistakes-"
"You really haven't-"
"No more talking." Her voice was more teasing that offering censure.
She giggled and cuddled into him. "Yes, well, we are in agreement and are the together and everything will be the okay, you will see."
He smiled broadly. "I like the way you think."
Richard reached out for her and winced. "I was about to ask if you were comfortable."
He looked a bit sheepish. "I am a bit past due for my pain meds."
"Oh Richard, you should not delay such a thing!"
"I wanted a clear head while we spoke."
She shook her head. "That is not taking good care of yourself, and you know it. Let us get your medication and then off to bed with you."
"Okay, well I guess I'll help you take your things and head to your old room." He sounded a bit defeated.
"Is that what you wish?" She said. "Did you think I was putting my bag in your room for the show for Xavier?"
He smiled, relieved. "Well, I didn't want to assume-"
"I do appreciate the offer of giving me 'the space', but I do not wish for it if that is all right with you. I returned to the embassy so we no longer were doing what for all intents and purposes was doing the living together. I did not ever wish to stop dating. And after our discussion tonight, I no longer wish to slow down; I wish for us to be together and to move ahead with our relationship."
Richard smiled. "Kori, it makes me so happy to hear you say that."
"I wish to stay with you and take care of you. It continues to be my plan to be with you, to care for and about you for the rest of my life, so why would I not care for you after your surgery tomorrow? I want to, just as you have care for me in the past."
"But tonight I am not sure if I need taking care of tonight," he said playfully.
"Then I will practice for your post operative period and do the fluffing of the pillows and the rubbing of your back and also doing the checking under the bed for any monsters than may lurk there."
"And will you kiss me goodnight?"
"A number of times, yes. As well as good morning."
"Sounds like a plan."
To be continued...