Sea and Sky XXI:


by 'rith

Archive: Ask first, please.
Notations: m/m relationship, nothing explicit.
Fandom: Modern comicsverse. S&S series. The previous parts can be found at
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What I have done with them is mine.

Timing: This fic covers the period including Titans 10-20 and Titans Annual 1 (Bushido). Also in the same span of time, offscreen: Mageddon (JLA), the Hunt for Oracle (Nightwing and BoP), Cassandra learns how to speak (Batgirl 4), Darkness Falls (JSA), the Joker tries to nuke New York (BoP 16-17), and Babs gets her new virtual war room (BoP 19).

I never said I was a LITTLE obsessive.

Later, all Nightwing and Tempest could be grateful for was that their personal lives were comfortably settled before things went to hell.

It began when Slade Wilson, the mercenary known as the Terminator, collapsed almost literally on the Titans' doorstep. He led them into a battle with both Vandal Savage's Tartarus team and their old foes the H.I.V.E.--which was now commanded by Adeline Kane, Slade's ex-wife, seeking revenge for the death of both their sons. In the course of things Addie's throat was slashed by Gorilla Grodd...and Starfire, seeing a need for decisive action, incinerated Addie's body before her immortal blood became a point of further conflict. The fact that not all of the Titans were sure she was *dead* before Starfire acted became itself a source of team discord.

It was further compounded by the fact that during the same fight Roy had virtually abandoned his team in the middle of battle to administer medical aid to Cheshire, the internationally known assassin who had nuked Qurac...and also Roy's former lover and the mother of his beloved daughter Lian.

Not the finest moment in Titans history, by any means.

In the aftermath of all that, Jesse quit the team in disgust and the tension between the rest of the team members threatened to bring this incarnation of the Titans to an untimely end. So go figure the one day Dick HAD to take time off from dealing with it, Garth received a telepathic message from their old friend Lilith, begging for rescue from Vandal Savage. Garth had stayed behind at the Tower to help Donna try to keep it together, and it was far too urgent a call to wait for anyone who wasn't ready to go *immediately.* Tempest led the team to her rescue and did it efficiently and well, and Dick couldn't have been prouder when he heard about it later.

But team stress levels were still running high. Donna felt the team would be better off if tensions between the original members were resolved privately, so it was time for the time-honored tradition of a Titans retreat--this time to a supposedly deserted island. Which naturally turned out to be the hiding place of the Gargoyle, one of the Titans' earliest foes. In the end the old villain had done them a favor, because they were forced to confront all the things between them that had made the team so prickly lately. Donna's discomfort with Wally over the fact that she'd been essentially reborn from his memories, and felt something lacking. Wally's lingering irritation with Dick over the fact that Dick hadn't told him about Garth. Garth's annoyance at Roy's constant barbs and the jokes that had gotten very, very old indeed. Roy's frustration with the others over the fact that he'd made a stronger commitment to the team than even Dick...and yet everyone still looked at him as though he was about to pack up and leave. Dick's exasperation with the constant needling about his mentor.

They came away from that renewed, ready to begin again as Titans and as friends.

Just in time for most of the team to answer a desperate call from Starfire's people. Her brother Ryand'r had called, pleading for the Titans' aid against the Gordanians. The Titans had no love for the reptilian race, having fought them before, and knowing how Kory herself had been given as a slave to the Gordanians and their masters, the Psions. "This is *war,*" Kory said, eyes ablaze, "and we need power on our side!" Nightwing and Arsenal, merely human, stayed behind, and Damage did as well to attend the arraignment of his super-villain uncle, Dr. Polaris. So Troia and Tempest and Flash and Cyborg and Argent went into space with Starfire, and they fought on behalf of people they thought were Tamaranean refugees, and instead found something entirely different.

Ryan had lied. The desperate refugees were the *attackers,* not the victims, and the Titans had the blood of innocents on their hands. Particularly Kory, who'd fought fiercely for what she'd *believed* was her people's survival, and instead was a last-ditch attempt of a shattered warrior culture to claim a new homeland at the expense of their enemies; or at the very least, to die fighting for it.

During the battle Garth was captured and he'd discovered the truth. The Gordanians were innocent (this time, anyway) and had only been fighting to protect their homes. He managed to negotiate a peace, depending on the similarities of the two warrior cultures despite the decades of hostilities. In the end, the Tamaraneans were allowed to claim a part of the planet for themselves, in return for their helping the Gordanians to improve their "reputation" among the other races of the sector.

The price: Koriand'r. Again.

Except this time not as a slave, but as the princess she'd been born to be. The Gordanians refused to deal with Ryand'r, who'd led his people to war against them, so it fell to Kory to stay and become the new leader of her people on Karna.

In some ways, Garth thought, it was almost a relief. The settlement gave Kory a *place,* an important job to do, something she'd been lacking even with the Titans. Fighting super-villains was all very well but more importantly the Titans were Kory's truest family, and he knew she hadn't felt entirely at home there recently. Part of that was the tension between her and Dick, of course, which Garth was sure he hadn't helped.

So no one was more surprised than he when Kory approached him, took his face in her hands, and kissed him. Deeply. Passionately.

When she drew back, she said, "That is for Dick." She went on in flawless, perfectly accented formal Atlantean. "Tell him I love him and always will. Tell him I don't regret a moment of our time together, and only how it ended.... That I'm sorry for how things have been between us these last few months." She paused. "Take care of him. And love him."

Garth could only agree. "Koriand'r...I will. I promise you."

"I know you will. And because I know *him*--don't let him go. Don't give him the opportunity to talk himself into believing he's better without you, or that he can't make a commitment to you, or anything else." She blinked rapidly to keep the tears from falling. "Don't make the mistakes I did."

To *that* there wasn't really any reply he could make other than bringing her hand to his lips to kiss, in admiration of the generosity of spirit that allowed her to wish him well with her lost love rather than give in to bitterness over that loss.

Kory smiled at him so that he almost believed it, and went to say her good-byes to Donna.

Back on Earth, the Titans reassembled to discover Grant had taken a leave of absence from the team, having stayed behind at the reservation where Roy grew up. Roy refused to say any more about it, stating only that Grant needed some "personal time."

A garbled call from Gar's cousin and roommate Matt Logan brought the team to Japan, where they ended up battling a tengu-possessed Changeling with the help of the swordsman Bushido. In the aftermath Flamebird asked for and received sanction to assemble a new Titans West team, one that might finally be worthy of the name. Nightwing had reservations, but Bette's new attitude promised a serious commitment to the proposal. With Changeling's help and financial backing, T-West might actually have a chance to grow into a capable team.

Meanwhile Dick had been working on another project, and finally managed to bring all the pieces together with Jesse's help: building Cyborg a new body, a *human* body, at last. The Omegadrome along with Vic's consciousness was implanted into a clone grown from his old cells, and the result was better than any of them could have prayed for. The integration allowed Vic the chance to begin building a life for himself outside of the Titans, and he took it.

Dick also revealed his identity to Jesse, no more than she deserved as someone he was coming to regard as a peer.

And then Wally quit. *Not,* he assured Dick, over any problem between him and any of the team members, but only that the Titans had always been about love, not obligation, and Wally wasn't loving it at the moment.

Fair enough.

Jesse agreed to rejoin the team in his place and that left them at a comfortable six: Nightwing, Tempest, Troia, Arsenal, Jesse Quick, and Argent.

And in the middle of all of that, Dick and Garth went to dinner with Bruce Wayne.


{tbc immediately hereafter. Bearing in mind that Dick and Bruce haven't really talked since the confrontation in "Shadow of the Bat" (S&S XIV).... }

Intentional retcon: Look, there's no way in hell Kory would knowingly lie to the Titans, her friends and adopted family. I'm not her biggest fan, but the characterization of Koriand'r since the new Titans series started bordered, IMO, on character assassination.

So -- same situation, except Kory didn't know her people were the aggressors because Ryand'r lied to her. Which is probably assassinating *his* character, but hey, I'm not as concerned about him. :p