Warning: Fluffage continues. Somehow I read science and history and write romance. Go figure.

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Disclaimer: Teen Titans – not mine, not now, not ever!

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EQUINOX

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"But Kori, how am I going to take care of you now?"

"As I recall, you promised to take care of me Richard, yes, but did you ever expect for us to have anything less than a partnership?"

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Chapter 7

Kori removed her make up and tried not to be nervous as she changed into her nightgown, a long light blue silk gown with a v neck that was gathered at the shoulders and a thick yoke at the waist. It was reminiscent of at Greek design, but actually something that was designed back in her own country. The color was perfect to set off her tan and her eyes. She brushed her teeth and through her hair one last time and checked herself in the mirror, and now satisfied with her appearance, she then she padded across to Richard's room.

Richard waited, having changed into another pair of the pajamas that Kori had brought him, wondering how she felt about about purchasing a relatively personal item. The ones that she had chosen were not only made of a wonderful quality of silk, they were about the briefest he'd ever seen. He had to wonder if she was sending a message there.

Kori knocked quietly and Richard was there to meet her at the door. "Wow, just wow. This confirms what I thought when I came off the plane: You have become even more beautiful over these past months, Kori."

She smiled and blushed at the compliment. "Thank you, Richard."

"Shall we?" He took her by the hand and guided her to bed. Where in the afternoon he had simply been exhausted and wanted her near, now he wanted to be close, although fatigue was closing in now as well. He pulled her into a long kiss, savoring her and then, unable to hold himself, broke the kiss and pulled back for a moment to search her eyes, looking for any firm answer although not truly expecting it yet and then just pulled her into a hug. After a bit, "Let's get to bed."

He helped her under the covers before going around and getting in himself. "Hi."

"Greetings."

"C'mere."

They took their time kissing, exploring each others mouths and whispering endearments. Kori was thrilled for his patience and relished every second, falling in love more every second. He was gentle and kind and loving and she couldn't ask for anything more. Breaths quickened and Kori was certain as her own desire was building that things were mutual, but when things went no further and Kori sensed that it was hardly disinterest but lingering fatigue on Richard's part.

She pulled back and looked lovingly into his eyes. "You need your rest, beloved."

"Beloved? That sounds wonderful, darling. And yes, it must be profound fatigue, but I really am tired."

"Then sleep now. We have tomorrow together do we not?"

"All day. Which I've been meaning to ask you, on base or off?"

"How about we stay on base tomorrow?"

"Are you sure? I was hoping to keep you to myself for a while."

"You have me forever if you want me."

A chill went down his spine, not that he hadn't thought of it, not that it wasn't planned for, it was, so the visceral response surprised him. Something must have shown on his face when Kori's expression changed and she looked away. If the streetlights hadn't been so bright, if he'd pulled the drapes as well as the sheers, she would have missed it.

"Kori, I didn't mean us necessarily, it's just, I'm worried about this deployment."

"You mission was dangerous." He hadn't given her details, but it wasn't a question. "And you are concerned you and the others are here for discussion of assignments for more of such dangerous tasks."

"I am. It's my job, and I know what I signed up for, but I have more to live for now."

She gave him a gentle kiss and a smile. He looked so tired and seemed more vulnerable than she'd ever seen him. In her culture such vulnerability was rare. She was happy to share the moment with him, but understood if he wished to hide any weakness, so she would offer him an out. "Then sleep now unless it will ease your mind to speak with me about it."

"I think I will sleep, but again, like before, stay close, as close as you can. I need you."

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Having fallen asleep relatively early, Richard was awake early, his past mission on his mind, the woman in his arms was as well. She was everything to him. He knew he wanted forever and the reaction he had to her saying something about it was only to the fact that he might not be there.

It incurred to him in a delayed and gut gripping fashion that even with what he had said it likely hurt her deeply to see his expression change when she mentioned it, his words afterward only that, only words. He pulled her closer. They had been spooning through the night, and he wondered if she had turned from him on purpose or subconsciously. Perhaps it was just more comfortable for her. He'd never thought about things like this before, but then again, Dick Grayson had never been in love before.

He didn't want to disturb her, but then again, he couldn't wait to reassure her, pulling her closer again and nuzzling her neck and he gathered her up in his arms and rolled her toward him.

She stretched like a cat and then wrapped her arms around his neck, and sought his lips without opening her eyes. She made an 'mmm' sound as he began to kiss her softly and she deepened the kiss before she laid back. Getting the hint, Richard followed her, settling his weight over her, and continued to kiss her, breaking away to kiss down her neck and throat, behind her ear to lave his tongue on the spot that he had the opportunity before to learn drove her crazy.

"Oh Richard," she breathed.

"I love you so much, Kori, and know I do want everything to work out for us." Mentally kicking himself, why couldn't he say more, even in her ear, even if not in the absolute throes of passion, a very passionate situation?

At least he wasn't lying. Or was he? He wanted forever, asked her to move across the country to be with him. Their future was together, wasn't it? What would it hurt to really start talk about it in person, not in letters waxing poetic about finding each other and happily ever after?

She reared back as far as she could given her back against the mattress and head against the pillow, a bit alarmed. "I love you too." Her brow was knitted a bit.

Richard met her eyes and then buried his head into her shouldered, fighting off a combination of emotions he wasn't quite sure he fully understood the extent of. He tensed.

"Second thoughts?"

Now it was his turn to arch up and take the weight off of her, shifting onto his hip and embracing her face with both hands. "God no! I love you. I'm planning on us, you know that."

"I do and I do not mean to be questioning things, nor do I have a right-"

"You have every right-"

"Is it my citizenship status?"

"No, no. Nothing is wrong with us, I'm just scared and like you, I'm not a fan of being seen as weak."

"You are a brave warrior, or rather officer. You fight for your country, you lead your men and they obviously are fond of you. You could never be weak in my eyes. Fear is a healthy response, it helps to balance the fighter, to help give him courage, to come out alive. When all is lost, fear is as well."

"You've read The Art of War."

"Among other things. It was required in school."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"Now I remember, there is a tradition in Tamaran for it's citizens to become mercenaries as well as members of the merchant marines and international response organizations."

"We lack much industry. To keep our economy solid, we have to export our workers for months at a time and have them, and their money, return to us. Sometimes it is for the oil rigs or the Alaskan crabbing now, but yes, it was for war activities before. So world military history is taught in schools."

"Interesting."

She gave him a sultry smile. "Not as interesting as us, Richard."

"Good point. We do have a wonderful future."

"Again, I did not mean to be the insecure. This is all so new to me."

"Just go with your feelings m'love, with your heart."

"I will."

"I'm not the best at expressing my feelings. I was likely in love with you from our first dinner together, and I was barely able to express it before I got on that plane a few days later, telling you at the last possible moment."

"You fell for me so soon?" She rolled on to her hip so that they were flush against each other and she began to stroke gently from his waist to his thigh.

He nipped at her lips. "Well I was attracted to you immediately-"

"How immediately?"

"Immediately, immediately."

She giggled at that and he captured her lips.

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After breakfast at the Hotel they headed back to Ramstein Base to spend the day together there. They'd kissed for a while after their talk and fell asleep in each others arms. Now well rested they were ready for the day.

Kori smiled widely when Richard said how thrilled he was that they were finally going out for a proper date.

Kori had so idea how truly large the facility was at Ramstein. When she mentioned that they should go back there so he could see his men, she figured he might see them, but not fully realizing that it was like finding someone in a large town. Ramstein was the site of not only the US United Armed Forces in Europe, but NATO command, and military personnel from many other countries, housing over 50,000 people.

There was so much to do on base. Paintball intrigued her; she was dying to try it again, she'd had fun when she had years before and she was an excellent shot. She wasn't dressed for it, but Richard was sure he could get a group together later in the week. There were plenty of other physical activities, but the one they agreed on thrilled her: ice skating.

The rink was set up in a partial enclosure, and was perfect for summer skating. The contrast of the cool ice on her skates as the late morning temperatures reached the 80's was invigorating. And so was skating holding Richard's hand.

They both had skill on the ice, could skate easily backwards as well as forwards and Richard not surprisingly was a bit of a show off and a daredevil. It appeared he had some pent up energy and after about fifteen minutes of couples skating with laughs as they twirled and glided and snuck in the occasion kiss in the rink that only had another twenty of so people at that time of the day, Richard looked over at Kori and said, "Mind if I open up a bit and race around the rink."

"As they say, 'Go for it'"

He gave her a kiss with a bit of a dip, careful not to knock her off balance and then with a two finger salute was on his way. Noticing that he was speed skating, the other skaters moved to the center of the ring to give him the outside. Most of them stopped to watch him go. He wasn't in the proper skates for really fast skating, but his form was correct as he rolled his shoulders forward, and his arms swung in contralateral motion to the long sweeping strokes of his legs.

His concentration was evident and Kori was not only admiring his technique and form, but also in his ability to take the kind of break he must have needed. Round and round he went, faster and faster, skates crossing over each other a bit during the turns, his inside hand touching the ice as he leaned into the turn.

After twenty or so laps, his arm sways became less dramatic and his body began to become more erect. His leg strokes became less forceful and shorter. It was not a fast transition, and as he slowed he came out of the zone and looked at Kori, who had been circling around watching him. She kept moving, not wanting the cold to get to her feet, and not wanting to ever take her eyes off of him; it was an incredible show. His athletic form looked great in jeans and a polo. She wondered how great he would look in tights.

Finally back at normal speed, he came to her and wrapped her up and spun her around in a hug. "Thanks, sorry to abandon you. I really needed that."

She was surprised that he was barely winded. "Do not apologize. I do not mind. You looked the amazing out there."

"It felt great."

"A little more together?"

"Sounds like a plan."

After their skate, they had lunch and walked around the base some more, taking in the incredible selection at the commissary, although there was really nothing that either of them needed to buy.

They decided to go over to the movie theater to catch the latest summer action blockbuster that Richard admitted to having wanted to see and Kori was more than happy to indulge him.

She found herself being kissed a lot instead.

"I thought this was the movie that you were wishing to see," she said against his lips.

"It's become formulaic. Explosions. Aliens. Bad guys. Corrupt government officials. Some good guys that look like they won't win. Some more explosions. Aaaand there's a guy's shirt coming off for no apparent reason."

"And the topless woman before?"

"One hundred percent plot driven."

"I see."

"Kiss me."

"I am doing the checking out of the shirtless man."

Richard growled in his throat. "No ogling the gratuitous shirtless guy when you have your guy here to kiss and I can been shirtless for you whenever you want."

"But you watched the topless girl."

"Plot driven."

"Oh, I see. The double standard."

"Not in the least."

"Convince me."

He did his best.

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To be continued...

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More fluff chapters started and up soon!

Again, never been to Ramstein, sorry my research isn't up to my normal, I have done some, but I wish I could get in touch with my friends that were there. Lost touch with too many friends.

I'll update soon!

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

(I was required to read it in one of my classes at Wharton – yup, in a B school class. I do recommend it however.)