Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans.

"Fiction is the truth inside the lie" Stephen King


Serenity

Chapter 3

XXX

The jingle of her keys echoed throughout the empty hallway, clinking their silver melody. She could hear the chatter of people from the suite right next to theirs. It was probably another dinner party held to impress some business associate. But that didn't matter, all she wanted right now was to clear her head. To stop the stabbing pain she could feel all over her body, and to push away the sudden splitting headache. And the only way to do that was with a drink. Hard liquor.

It was as if she could hear her own screams ringing through her mind. The torture was getting unbearable, pounding her head with the constant vibrations that didn't even exist. Her temples felt as if sharp needles were getting stuck into them over and over, and the blood rushing to her face caused the temperature to suddenly rise up.

Kori twisted the door knob and turned on the lights, letting the golden brightness flood the now sparkling clean penthouse, due to the night maid. Setting down her keys, she quickly walked through the framed opening on her right, and into the kitchen. The reflection from the lights above worsened her headache as they shined onto the granite room.

The illuminations seemed at least five times stronger, burning up her body and making her sweat. Karen just had to remodel the kitchen and layer every surface and square inch of the floor with Carrara marble. Kori used to love running her fingers along the translucently smooth rock, admiring the images it beamed back from above. But right now, she couldn't have cared less if it was marble or tile Karen had ordered. All that stood out to her was the pain flaming itself throughout her body, and the dull blaring still resounding in her ears.

The brilliantly bright marble was literally blinding her now, and she could feel the walls pressing in. It was like there was something around her neck, slowly choking her to suffocation, and pressing harder down upon her temples in a vain attempt at murder. She couldn't breath, and the heat from the lights were getting excruciatingly agonizing by the second. Spurts of fiery pain shot from her abdomen and up her spine. It was so hot, and all she wanted was a drink. Just to cool herself down and stop the insanity.

Bending down, Kori opened up a bottom cupboard amongst the dozens infused to the island table. She squeezed her eyes tightly and reopened them, trying her best to keep her mind at bay. Kori dug through the cereal boxes and empty cartons to reveal where Roy kept his so called "secret stash." But she always pretended she never knew. It gave her easier access to the good stuff. Real good stuff. And it was exactly what she needed right now.

Pushing aside the small amount of cardboard, Kori reached in and pulled out a new bottle of Vodka. It was 40 true alcohol, about 5 more than the average tequila. And that was saying something. She knew she'd have a massive hangover the next morning and would vomit like hell, but right now it didn't matter. The pain needed to stop.

She used the edge of the table and popped off the cap, watching as some wispy carbonated air flowed out. Quickly, Kori pulled the bottle to her lips and let the clear liquid flow into her mouth. It was strong stuff. She could feel the poison tonic flood through her body, numbing her senses. It was such irony. The only way to release her pain was to inflict more.

She took another drink. Her headache was ebbing away, and the pain in her lower body was no longer apparent. It was the one good thing about Roy- he always kept something around.

Another sip and she could feel the buzz coming on. The world started to blur and lightly tilt. But hey, it was better than the hollow screams. Now if only the lights weren't so bright.

She drank again and stumbled over to the glass doors leading out onto the balcony, her free hand clutching the tables for support. The contrasting darkness welcomed a sanctuary from the intense orbs beating their rays down upon her. Sliding the entryway shut, Kori walked over to the chair 10 yards away. A large penthouse, meant a large balcony. She sank into the feather cushion placed oh so neatly upon the crème colored chair, and wrapped the leather jacket even tighter around her body.

Pulling the bottle to her lips once more, she took a long drink from it, emptying half the bottle.

'Half for the pain, a fourth for the comfort, and the rest to keep it at bay.'

She smirked inwardly at the thought, repeating her mother's very own words inside her mind. Damn her father for making their lives hell. But she shook the thoughts off. There was no fucking way she was going to let the memories resurface. Especially not after tonight.

X

Rachel rolled her eyes and got up from the table, walking off towards the restrooms. Six bodies, three tongue wars, and a corner radiating off sex hormones. Definitely not how she was planning to spend her night. But it wasn't unexpected either. Just annoying.

"Hey Rae! Wait up!"

Speaking of annoyances…

She continued onward, grabbing a pack of cigarettes from the bar as she came by.

"Hey! You have to pay for those!"

Rachel sent a single glare at the bartender, her eyes flaming with pent up aggravation.

"Oh, uh, sorry Miss Roth."

Turning back around, she sped walked towards the exit sign at the end of the dark hallway, stepping over the wasted idiots and dry humping couples. At look of disgust crossed her face, but it was quickly replaced with a scowl.

"Rae!"

Slamming the EXIT door open, she stepped out into the chill night air. Her stiletto boots clicked against the wet ground, walking her towards the opposite wall. Closing her eyes, she leaned against it and breathed out deeply, wanting nothing more than peaceful seclusion. Her emotions were blaring themselves around inside her head and to put it simply, she was frustrated. Frustrated that her futile attempts at small talk with Garfield failed, and only ended with his chattering. Frustrated that he still had on that stupid goofy smile, even when Tara was making out right next to him. Frustrated that he thought life was perfectly fine. And she was especially frustrated because no matter how hard she tried, he was still oblivious to everything.

"Rachel!"

And now he was oblivious to her need of solitude. Why was it that he was always there when she least wanted it.

"I was calling you, didn't you hear?" Garfield panted, his breath visible in the darkness.

"I heard," she said and pulled out a silver lighter. She flicked it on, lighting up the grungy alley way.

"So why didn't you wait for me?" He pulled up the collar of his jacket and stuffed his hands into his pockets, trying to keep himself warm.

Rachel paused midway from lighting her cigarette, looking at him with a guarded stare. He reminded her of a child she once saw on the streets. His hair was a mangled mess, and his clothes barely recognizable from a heap of trash. But despite the looks of utter distaste thrown in his direction, and the scowls passersby had on their faces as they purposefully took longer strides to avoid him, he kept smiling. It was as if none of their actions had any affect on him. He was completely unaware of his social standing within the city of the rich and famous. And it was the way Garfield's eyes still shined with that childlike innocence as he gazed into hers that sparked the resemblance. It wasn't that he hadn't experience sex or death in his life. Sex was plentiful in their penthouse. Not a night went by without some couple getting pleased within the confines of their dark bedrooms. Or showers. No, the only person she could think of that was still a virgin was Kori. Then again, Kori was entirely different from them all together. And Garfield saw death countless times- he, himself, having taken a quite few lives during their stakeouts and unpredicted clashes with rival gangs. No, he was completely experienced and well informed in that field. But then what was it that kept his heart light for so long? When Tara had ditched him, couldn't he have just let himself be sad for once, instead of changing his emotions and becoming happy, as if nothing happened? And how did he do it so well? He still didn't understand that the world could be cruel. Kind of like he was immune to the fact that the girl of his dreams had led him on and then immediately dropped him for a quick fuck, leaving him to trail in the dust. She knew what it felt like to be completely abandoned because someone else was better. And it hurt. So why wasn't he?

Garfield began to walk away, taking Rachel's prolonged stare as a signal of intensely unwanted company.

"Uh, wait! Gar, just… wait."

He turned around with a smile still on his face, and his eyes glimmering with hope.

"I… uh… want you to… stay," she managed to get out. Inwardly, she scowled at herself. 'Smooth… real smooth.'

An even larger grin covered his face and instantly, he was by her side, plucking a cigarette from the pack sticking out of her pants. He immediately started a conversation, talking about nothing in particular. Rachel leaned against the wall, letting out a small breath of relief, and lighted her smoke.

X

He could feel her tongue trail up the side of his neck, leaving his hot skin exposed to the club's cool air. She moaned something into his ear, but he wasn't listening to what she was saying. All he could concentrate on were her fingers lacing themselves into his obsidian locks, gently tugging and twisting them between her fingers. Her slender hands buried themselves deep onto his hair, massaging the crook of his neck. Richard's eyes closed as he reveled in the feeling. It was comforting, like the way she'd always do it. Every time he got stressed or overworked, and even when she was tired, she was always there for him. Helping him calm his strained nerves and mind.

"Kori," he breathed. He could almost smell her strawberry hair, and the exotic conditioner that she used.

"Kori."

"What?"

"Kor…"

The blonde sitting on his lap suddenly removed her hands from his hair, and pushed herself up from his torso. His eyes shot open and in a second the realization dawned upon him. He was met by the angry stare and pursed lips of a very pissed off girl.

"My name's Janice you idiot! Uh, I told you this in the hallway!" she yelled at him.

He silently tuned out her upcoming rant, 'Since when was her hair blonde? Could've sworn it was brown earlier…'

"You are such a bastard!" She slapped him hard on the side of his face, and quickly lifted herself off his lap.

Ok, so he couldn't tune that part out, but it did snap him back to reality. The reality that he had thought was Kori. He impulsively got the abrupt urge to see her face. It was as if he needed to cleanse himself of the distasteful woman's touch, who had so cunningly tricked his psyche into believing she was the true thing. He just had to see her.

His gaze swept the packed night club, from the neon dance floors to the alcohol covered bar.

'Where the hell is Kori?'

Her fiery red hair usually stood out amongst the rest, especially in a place like this. Furrowing his eyebrows in frustration, Richard stood up and began the strenuous task of pushing through wasted whores and stoned men. The smell of cigarettes drifted in the air, as did the overpowering stench of thick perfume. He passed by faces caked with make up and staggering bodies fruitlessly trying to find balance.

It was all so superficial to him, every one of them. He glanced over at a girl shamelessly flirting with a bartender, purposefully leaning down low to give him a good look at her cleavage. Definitely not over 21. Another man passed by, walking over to a group of scantily dressed woman, while flashing his pearl white teeth and effervescent eyes. Fake bleach, fake contacts. As the girls giggled in response, they batting their glued on eyelashes and slowly swayed their bodies for maximum sex appeal. One night fuckers. But this was Gotham. Whatever it took, was whatever people did. Bodies, lifestyles, personalities. All that shit was changed to glorify their so called 15 minutes of fame. Only an asshole would want that. He looked around at the club again. Everyone was a dumbass. He'd never know what people were so excited about. It was fame. And fame came with a price. Then again, they knew nothing. So it was expected.

Suddenly, he felt a smooth hand slither its way along his neck. It's red nails blazed in the glow of the lights, as his eyes trailed up the slim arm to see the face of his aficionado.

"Why hello there," she purred, flicking her hair back and seductively pursing her lips.

Letting out a grunt of aggravation, Richard pushed aside the rejected girl. She was nothing but a street hooker.

He walked on, towards the sporadically lighted upper levels of the club. The gears in his mind clicked into speed, as his senses flipped through every possible whereabout that Kori could be. The instant drive of his emotions to suddenly proclaim the girl for his own that night were perplexing, and yet satisfactory. He had to have her, and that was all that mattered. Richard pushed on through the crowd, shoving more wasted people aside while his mind still buzzed with the thought of Kori. She was like his drug, and the more he had, the more he wanted. Kori fed his untimely sex drives and sudden lust eminences that he would always belt out. There was no other girl in the world that could compare, and his body truly only craved for hers. She could keep him calm and mellow, but with the snap of a finger get his blood racing until he was a fraction from bursting- in more ways than one. And in his eyes, that was the short and long of it. Kori was always there for him, and she was his to keep.

Grinding his teeth, he made his way down the floor towards the back entrance. The only other person in the whole damn club who would know where Kori was would be Rachel.

X

"So we were watching T.V. last night, and it was hella funny cause…"

Rachel let out a small smile as she listened to Garfield blabber about nothing in particular. She wasn't really interested in what he was talking about, but her curiosity couldn't break away from his small idiosyncrasies. Every few minutes, there'd be a light shuffle of his feet mixed in with a tint of blush, and his slender hands would fumble around in his sweatshirt pocket. Garfield's voice never wavered though, so she had no idea why he was acting embarrassed. She leaned against the wall and listened as he continued to talk about every and any random thought that crossed his mind.

"And then when they won, they took the whole container of punch and dump it on the coach-"

The clatter of metal against metal was heard from the EXIT door, as the two of them turned their heads to see a disheveled looking Richard.

"What's wrong with you now?" Rachel asked monotonously.

"Where the hell is Kori?" His question came sharply, dominance seeping through the words secretly laced with anxiety.

'Here we go again.' Rachel rolled her eyes at the tone of his voice. 'Every goddamn time…'

She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by Garfield.

"Dude, I don't think she really wants to talk to you right now. You kinda pissed her off today."

She took a side glance at him from the corner of her eye. He wasn't usually one to say things, especially around Richard.

"Gar, don't tell me what to-"

"Rich, just give a rest man. If she wanted to talk to you, she'd do it by now."

But there was a first time for everything.

Richard's jaw clenched and despite the sunglasses, his face was set with a look of determination.

"Rachel, where is she?"

Narrowing her eyes, she glared at him. The anger that had once subsided in her body flared up again, as she felt a burning desire to punch the man in front of her.

"Look Dick, I'm not your personal secretary that keeps a tab on Kori every goddamn minute of the day, and she's not your fuck toy either."

His composure was slightly lessened as the sudden impact of her words hit him.

"What the hell are you talki-"

"But just so you know, the last time I saw her she was dancing with another guy."

Rachel emphasized the words another guy. She knew Richard would take them beyond their simple innocence and turn it into a life and death situation. But he was seriously asking for it. The whole night he had been nothing more than an asshole, and he needed to learn that Kori's life didn't revolve around his.

She watched with a scowl as his fists balled up and his body grew rigid. In a swift movement though, his hand flipped out a titanium cell phone and he quickly punched in the numbers memorized by heart.

Her eyes flashed with abhorrence for the man in front of her. "Dick if you call her, I swear-"

"Rachel, go fuck yourself. I don't give a damn." He turned from her and found himself stepping back into the humid club of thick lust. Rachel's cold eyes followed his retreating form, as she inwardly washed off the feelings pulling at her heart. 'He's not the same anymore.' Garfield's warm hand gripped her shoulder, gently rubbing it as his way of comfort. 'We just have to accept it.'

X

The world began to tip over ever more, her city landscape rocking from side to side, as the lights below blurred. Kori's eyelids drooped lower, the blanket of sleep overcoming her worn out body. Just as her subconscious began to take over, she was snapped out of the darkly elegant dimension from a vibration in her jacket. She let out a small groan, and reached into her pocket to pull out the miniature device.

"H-hello?" she murmured.

"Kori where are you. I've been looking all night and you're not inside this godforsaken building."

A sigh escaped her lips as she furrowed her eyebrows together, and rubbed the sleep from her face. "I'm-m a-at home." She could feel her tongue slur, and began to regret even picking up the phone. Why was her speech so funny and difficult to get out? Richard would surely notice it and it'd simply add on to the list of things that wasn't perfect about her.

"Are you fricking drunk?"

"Ri-ichard I jus-st-"

"So you got wasted and left without even telling us? Kori I spent half the night looking for you, and you don't even give a damn!" His voice was full of hurt and anger, but his tone of accusation was clear. Everything was her fault. Again.

"I'm sorry…"

The click of the dial tone rung in her ear as she heard the silence from the other end of the line.

Letting out a groan of discontent, Kori snapped her phone shut and picked up the half empty bottle of beer that stood waiting on the ground. She didn't want to face Richard tonight, especially with his temper so strongly ignited. But no amount of avoidance could cure the encounter, and sooner or later it'd be inevitable. Now, it was simply her choice to choose. In a singe breath, she lifted the cold glass to her lips and downed the rest of the venomous liquor, letting the poison spread throughout her body. 'Later,' echoed in her mind. It was better that way.

The hubbub from the automobiles down below and the quiet chatter of the streets faded behind the soft covering of her eyelids. Kori's world ceased to spin as it entered the realm of forgotten dreams and secret desires. Where love and lust alike blended into one, and nightmares resurfaced with a toss on the bed. It was enough though, for her to escape reality- even if only for a few hours.

X

Morning

Kori's eyes shot open as she leapt from her bed and immediately ran over to the adjoining bathroom. She could feel the bile rising out of her stomach and into her throat, forcing its way out of her body. Quickly, she leant over and let it escape from the confines of her mouth. The stench of alcohol flooded the aquatically theme washroom, while she heaved again and again into the porcelain toilet. Her long, scarlet hair spilled from her back, creating a curtain to hide her anguish.

"Kori?"

The sound of Rachel's voice reached her ears as she let out another row of alcoholic induced lurches. The door from Rachel's room opened, revealing her in a baggy black shirt and short shorts.

Kori's body contracted again, the smell almost nauseating. She felt her hair get pulled back and tied into a neat bun.

"Thanks," she breathed.

She reeled at least a dozen times more before the cycle of vomit slowed to a lesser pace. Rachel sat beside her all the while, soothing her mental conscience and wiping the sweat off her forehead.

She sighed as she flushed the toilet and leaned her head against the ceramic furnishing.

"Feel better?"

A knock on the door interrupted them before she could utter a reply.

"Hey Kor?" Garfield's tired voice edged in through the door.

"Yeah?"

"Uh… Richard wants to see you…"

Rachel watched as a string of emotions flickered through Kori's eyes. But in a blink, they were gone, replaced with the abysmal void of emerald that was becoming evermore frequent upon her beautiful friend's face.

"I'll be out in 15 minutes."

There was a pause, and then a small "Ok," from Garfield as he retreated out of the room to deliver his message.

Kori pulled her knees up and leaned her head against them, closing her eyes as the sudden force of exhaustion struck her. Not now. She wasn't ready to face Richard's fury, which she knew was waiting inside his room. Her headache was drilling itself into her brain, transforming into a constant part of her being. It didn't go away anymore. It just stayed there, nestled in the dark corners of her mind, and re-emerging at the most awful times. There was just so much going on. She couldn't think clearly, almost as if some invisible veil had been pulled over her, fracturing her foresight and forever creating a gap between her and reality. Her thoughts, her memories, even her self control were beginning to tangle.

And… she was tired. So tired, of everything around her. Especially Richard. God… what had happened to him? He used to be her everything. Her joy… her laughter… her life. He was her first and only love, because he was one of the few to care. But now things seemed forced. He didn't treat her the same. It was like she was just a conquest he'd look upon every now and then. And she could feel herself making up excuse after excuse for his actions. But she couldn't let go. Hope was still pushing forth in her body, reminding her of their past. The shine in his eyes whenever he locked gazes with her. The gentle tone he reserved for no one else. And the way he'd spend hours with her, just walking in the sand next to the translucent waters. It was the only thing keeping her from turning her back on him. There was always that annoying glimmer of hope. She'd spend hours at a time just thinking back into the past, which truly was only about four months ago. But people's personalities changed fast these days. And all her mind could do was rely on what used to be. Images and memories would play through her head, her mental remote fast forwarding, rewinding, and pausing each one, almost as if it were a movie of someone else's life. Someone that wasn't her.

"Ok, well I'll go and let you take a shower…" Rachel got up and headed towards her own room. But as her hand on touched the door handle, she paused and looked back at Kori, who had remained silently consumed in her own thoughts.

Feeling Rachel's eyes on her, Kori glanced back at her face. Her best friend delicately nodded in response. She needed time alone.

As the click of the door handle resonated from the opposite side, she got up and turned on the shower to full blast. Stripping herself of her sweat soaked clothing, she tentatively stepped inside the marble tub. The water was scalding hot, but she didn't care. Her body would get used to it. Kori reached for the bar of soap on her left, smoothing the foamy suds onto her body. She was cleansing herself of last night. Xavier's scent was still on her and it was the last thing she wanted Richard to sense. And the alcohol lingered around her body, it's fumes slowly being drowned out by the steady pounding of water. But as her hand brushed over her lower abdomen, she was suddenly jolted back to what she had tried so hard to forget about. Wiping away the soap, she revealed the intricate mark still engraved into her skin. Small flecks of dried blood that hadn't yet been washed away dotted themselves around the wound. A sigh escaped her lips and she immediately rolled her eyes at herself. That must've been the 50th sigh she made within the past two days. How pathetic.

Disgruntled with herself, Kori washed off the last of the foam and stepped out of the shower, grabbing a towel at the same time. She pushed away the inquiring thoughts emerging within her mind of the scar, leaving her ponderings for later. Quickly drying herself, Kori pulled on a pair of black pants and a cashmere sweater. All she wanted right now was to sit in front of the fireplace and watch the trickles of rain sliding down the glass windows, with a cup of hot coco by her side. She pushed opened the bathroom door and made her way over to Richard's room. Maybe he wouldn't be so acrid this time, and instead would hold her in his arms without a second thought. Like the way he used to. And maybe there'd be no screaming or forced restraints of physical violence, and just a loving smile. Maybe if she wished and hoped enough, he wouldn't destroy her mentally and leave her heart shattered inside. Maybe he'd give her a simple kiss and just forget everything. But as she neared his door, the hopeful thoughts of embrace ebbed away, and in its place was the invisible barrier she had built up once again. Slowly, she knocked upon his door.

"It's open," came his irritated reply.

She pushed open the door and stepped inside, preparing herself for one hell of yelling match.

X

Rachel stood at the counter, mixing a pot of herbal tea as the rest of her friends were scattered about the main room groaning. Normally she would've been on the couch too, waiting for the tea to be done, instead of standing with a throbbing headache trying to focus her eyes so she wouldn't spill the drinks.

"Where's Kori?" Terra's annoying high pitched voice reached her ears and she could feel her hands clench. Kori usually made the tea in the mornings after heavy partying, to soothe the hangovers everyone had. But this time she wasn't here to do it. Swallowing a reflexive sarcastic remark, Rachel chose to ignore the blonde's question.

"Rachelll?"

She stared the tea down, trying her best not to snap at the girl.

"She's with Richard," came Gar's tired reply.

"Oh… did someth-"

"Tea's ready," Rachel interjected quickly. Kori's business was her own and no one else's. The last thing her best friend needed was everyone in Gotham knowing about her personal life.

A crash was heard from the hallway and Karen instinctively turned up the volume of the television. She snuggled closer to Victor as they lay on the couch, and waited for the morning to be over.

XXX


Ok, that update took an incredibly long time. I'm sorry if a lot of you were led to believe that I gave up on this story.

This chapter was a bit of a transition I, but I'd still like your input.

Is there anything I can improve upon? Plot? Characters? Grammar? Your opinions matter to me a lot so I'd appreciate it.

Flame me and I shall laugh in your face.

Also, thanks to my awesome reviewers: Secret-Clarity, Valda, D-I-WaRrIa, lalala5812, The First Angel, MissCooties, InnocentStarInTheAnimeSky, happymonkey, sorceress of the demented, strodgfrgf, RedXStarRob, calpurinia, Stormy Midnight, and Sunstar4ever.

You guys rock.

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