It's been several years...hi.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything here...

"So, my absolutely angelic baby sister is starting her freshman year here today."

The conversation opener, dripping with sarcasm, caused Richard Grayson to smirk. "No wonder you look so excited."

Koma Anders plopped down next to him on the picnic bench outside the Student Union. She ran a hand through her long hair in exasperation, but mussed it up a bit for Richard's benefit. "Shut up, Dick. My social life is over. The girl is clingier than plastic wrap. And she-"

"I know, I know. You've said it a million times already. She sucks. Just get her a group of loser friends and then you won't have to deal with her."

Koma raised an eyebrow. "That's not a bad idea, Grayson. I knew there was a reason I kept you around." She winked flirtatiously and toyed with the top button of his shirt. "What are you doing tonight?"

He swatted her arm away. "Not in the mood."

"Come on. Everyone'll be gone at some frat party or another. We'll have my apartment to ourselves," Koma tugged at his collar despite his scowl.

"No. I'm going out with the guys. Besides, Kitten's already 'invited' me over four different times this morning. If I end up with you, she'll freak." It's not that Richard regretted the random hookups. But he thought he made it fairly clear that they were one night events. Koma was the only person he'd ever slept with on multiple separate occasions, only because she was there. He wasn't interested in an ongoing...relationship. Her persistence was getting a little annoying.

"What does she matter?" Koma pouted. Richard swung his legs out from under the picnic table and smirked again.

"Gotta keep my options open. See you after class."

Kory Anders had been bumped and jostled along the main road of campus until she decided to just let the crowd carry her, like a river carrying a twig. It was an apt analogy-on the island of Tamaran she was practically royalty, part of a majestic family tree that allowed her to stand above the rest of the world. But here-cut off, free-floating-she did not belong. Like a piece of debris in an otherwise homogeneous current of American accents and Coach purses, she stuck out in a bad way.

She didn't even know where she was going. Her parents were convinced her sister would help her, but Kory knew better. Koma's fury at being sent to the States for boarding school-however much for her own good-had simmered down into a dark bitterness. Kory planned to take any advice from her sister with a grain of salt. Or pepper. Whatever condiment that expression called for.

"Excuse me!" she called to a short, skinny boy near her. "Would you happen to know where the Student Union is? I am to meet my sister there."

The boy scratched his head. "I think it's that way-" He pointed to his right. "-But it might be that way." He pointed to his left, and then shrugged. "I'm new here, too."

Kory smiled warmly and held out her hand for him to shake. He took it. "My name is Kory. I am an international student."

"Gar. And I'm not."

Kory was surprised that, as she'd promised, Koma was waiting for her outside the Student Union. The older girl looked very different from what Kory remembered-she'd dyed her hair black sometime in boarding school, her makeup made her face look feline and seductive, and her clothes were far more revealing than their parents would have permitted on Tamaran. Nonetheless, Kory was a little relieved to see her among the unfamiliar faces.

"Koma. Thank you for meeting me."

"Hello, little sister," Koma said with a sneer. "How are dear old Mom and Dad?"

"They are doing well." On the phone, Koma's newly developed accent had sounded strange. Here, Kory realized, it was she who sounded strange. She shifted uncomfortably. "How are you?"

"Better, now that they've thrown you out of their sight as well. I was starting to think they picked favorites." Her acidic tone gave her smile a hostile edge. "Where is your first class?"

"Wilson Hall, room 1333. It is an introductory course to International Studies. While that subject intrigues me, I would also like to minor in Art, perhaps-"

"Stop, Kory. Don't care. Your class is two buildings that way, on the first floor. You should go there now. You'll probably get lost, and you could use the extra time."

Kory deflated a little bit. "You do not want to do the 'catching up'?"

Koma gave a barking laugh. "Not even a little bit. But you do bring up a good point. Don't talk to me when I'm with my friends. I don't want you to embarrass me. Got it?"

"Understood." Kory sighed heavily. This was more in line with what Kory expected. "I suppose, then, that I will not be 'seeing you later'."

"There's a good girl."