Rough Edges

by Bluepizza & Soul Spinner

TITLE: Rough Edges
AUTHORS: Bluepizza & Soul Spinner
FANDOM: DC Comics Universe
WARNINGS: m/m, angst, h/c, mild violence, mild profanity, graphic sex
PAIRING: Arsenal/Nightwing (mentions of Troia/Arsenal)
SPOILERS: "The Titans" #25 (takes place right after the issue)
DISCLAIMER: Don't own, no money.
SUMMARY: After Donna dumps him, Roy needs Dick to help him heal.
NOTES: Spin wrote the Arsenal parts and Bluepizza wrote the Nightwing parts.
FEEDBACK: Hell, yes! soul_spinner@h... or Mnemosyne_Timesister@e...

Part One -- Arsenal

The party was in full swing. He'd mingled, cracked jokes, spoken quietly with Grant, teased Garth, and smiled his way blithely though the rest of the guests at Titans Tower, his invisible mask firmly in place to hide his anguished heart. There were two things that Roy Harper knew that he could do perfectly: hit any target, and take any hit. He could roll with the punches and never let anyone suspect the bruises that he hid. Or the scars -- the great, gaping scars that criss-crossed his soul. The latest gash across his heart had been inflicted by Donna Troy earlier that night and wasn't even close to scarring over yet. Maybe it never would...

Her words echoed through his mind. "...the last thing I would *ever* do is hurt Lian." Yeah, Lian. Only Lian. Because everyone knew that you couldn't ever really hurt *Roy*. Roy the love master. Roy the revolving babe-boinker. Roy, who chicks went to so they could "test their boundaries."

"Stop it, you dumb loser," he murmured to himself in Bizzad, "she's always been too good for you anyway. You knew it couldn't last."

He sighed and then jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Grant was looking at him with concern. "Hey, Roy, you alright?"

He stared at the younger man. Of all the people here, only Grant, one of the youngest and newest Titans, had seen his pain. Maybe it was because Roy had seen Grant's own pain. They'd connected over a camp fire and past abuse. Roy almost confided in him, but Grant was still dealing with his own emotional turmoil. He didn't want to add his own troubles to Grant's. Roy summoned up a smirk, but knew that it looked wan on his face. "I'll be fine, man. Just need some time."

"Yeah, I can understand that. You know I'm here if you need to talk, right? After all you've done for me..." Grant hesitated.

Roy waved the comment away. "Dude, what else is family for?"

A real smile lit Grants face at that. "Remember, that goes both ways." Grant gently squeezed his arm and Roy nodded. Reassured, Grant wandered away to watch CM3 and Hippolyta duke it out.

He was weary. And it looked like he wasn't the only one. The party was really starting to get going now, getting into the groove with a new dance. He noticed Red Star and Pantha were prying their little one out from under the refreshments table. Lian was probably getting tired from all the excitement and a tired Lian was a cranky Lian. He'd better put her down for a nap so she would be her normal sweet self later this evening.

Roy found the light of his life asleep on the corner couch, curled up next to Wonder Woman while she spoke softly with Ray Palmer. The Amazon Princess and the scientist were debating the morality of trying to force progress on traditional peoples.

"But you don't seriously believe that simple vaccinations given to high-risk populations are detrimental to their societal structure?" Palmer argued.

"It can be," Diana shot right back. "Take the case of the Yanomamo, for instance..."

"Rubbish," the Atom whispered dismissivly, "you don't actually believe that new book, do you? While I'm by no means an anthropologist, anyone can see..."

"Anyone! That's not a very objective approach." Diana was gently stroking Lian's hair all the while and they both kept their voices lowered, even with the heated argument.

"Um, sorry to interrupt," Roy said hesitantly, "but I see someone who needs to be put to bed."

Doctor Palmer smiled. "Yeah, she's all tuckered out from playing with Wildebeest."

"I enjoyed her company, Arsenal, thank you," Wonder Woman said.

"Hey, no. Thank *you* for watching her!" Roy tucked his cane under his arm and scooped his daughter up.

"Do you need help?" asked Diana, eyeing his cast dubiously. He had been injured by Deathstroke in a battle to save Lian's mother, Cheshire, a few weeks back and hadn't fully recovered yet.

"Naw, I'm good." He couldn't show weakness in front of one of the Big Seven of the JLA!

The other two superheroes nodded and went back to their debate. "What about your own mission, Ambassador? Aren't you trying to force the Amazon concept of peace..."

Their voices blended into the noise of the party. Roy skirted his way around the dancing couples, gingerly trying to hold onto Lian and use his cane. He paused for a moment to watch Koriand'r dance with an overwhelmed Joto. When had she gotten back from Tammarran...? Oh, well. He shrugged and kept going. He smiled when he saw Grant dancing with Raven. If anyone could help Damage with his pain, it was her. He hoped it worked out between them.

He finally got away from the press of people and walked down the hall to his quarters. It was slow going. Roy glanced down at Lian and a loving smile softened the pain on his face. No matter that he had screwed up everything else in his life; no matter that he was a loser in love -- he still had Lian. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Sometimes he was deathly afraid of messing up with her, too, but he would never give her up. Lian kept him from giving up.

"Da-d huh...?" Lian wiggled in his arms to get more comfortable and he felt her drool on his sleeve.

"Shh, baby, I'm just putting you to bed."

"Don' wanna." She sleepily opened her eyes and blinked up at him.

"You can barely keep your eyes open, honey." They'd reached the door to her room and Roy went in without bothering to turn on the lights. He laid Lian down in her bed, took her shoes off, and pulled up the covers. "Just a nap, Lian. You'll wake up in a little while and we'll have dinner and then maybe we can play Targets, alright sweetie?"

"‘kay..." Lian snuggled into her pillow and went right back to sleep. The excitement of Donna's party had really exhausted her.

Roy sat in the dark for some time just stroking her hair. She was the best thing in his life and he'd hoped to share her with Donna. He'd hoped to truly share *himself* with Donna. But it hadn't worked out like that. Hell, it would probably *never* work out! He didn't exactly have the best track record with relationships...

He continued to sit in the dark and watch Lian. Roy had the vague notion that he should get back to the party but he just couldn't face anyone right now. His facade was cracked. He closed his eyes. With a bow or a gun or a dart or even just a toothpick, he never missed. But in love, he was always off-target.

After about an hour, Lian stirred and woke up. "Dad?" she stared up at him in the dark. Roy shook himself out of his reverie.

"Yes, sweetie?"

"Can we play Targets now?"

Roy sighed. He was too drained to play Targets. It was an energetic game that was an unholy cross of dodgeball and hide-and-seek. He'd learned to play it growing up on the reservation. It was a traditional Navajo game played by the young to hone warrior skills and Lian loved it. She looked at him so trustingly, like he could do no wrong, and suddenly Roy was overwhelmed. He had to get away.

"Daddy has to..." he choked on the words, "Daddy has to go out for a little bit, okay honey? I'll get one of your aunties or uncles to babysit you. Sorry Lian."

"It's okay, daddy." She looked at him solemnly, sensing his mood. Roy's heart overflowed with love for his beautiful daughter and he hugged her to himself almost desperately.

When he could tear himself away from her, he told Lian to go wash her face and brush her hair while he found a babysitter. She just nodded and went to the bathroom.

The party was starting to break up. Cyborg was helping a drunk Changeling out. Every time Gar hiccuped, he changed shape so it was slow going. Firebird looked on disapprovingly. Donna was talking to Kyle and Roy felt a deep twinge of pain just looking at them. Fortunately, the two heroes didn't notice him and for that, Roy was grateful. Impulse was fidgeting and twitching on one of the couches where Jesse had him cornered. She seemed to be lecturing the other speedster on money market accounts. Roy had to grin at that. Bart was starting to look desperate.

Nightwing was standing off in a corner, sipping his non-alcoholic drink, and watching the crowd. Roy say him and headed straight for the only other non-powered member of the Titans. By the time he got to Dick, his emotional mask was firmly in place.

"Hey, mi amigo! How's it hangin'?" He grinned at his friend and hoped his feelings weren't showing through.


"You ever switch it to the left? Just for variety, you know?" he joked. It was an admittedly feeble attempt. He did wonder though. About Dick and about Dick's ... attributes. The though just depressed him further because he'd never know. He had even less of a chance with the former Boy Wonder than with the for former Wonder Girl!

Dick mock-glared at him. "That was just *bad*, Roy!"

"That's me, Mister Bad-Boy Roy Harper! Speaking of which, I have a hot date. Can you watch Lian for me, buddy?"

Dick looked nervous. "Uh, I should get back to the ‘Haven..."

"Nah, you need a vacation! C'mon, you wouldn't want me to disappoint a pretty lady now, would you?"

Dick laughed and elbowed him. "Only you, Roy! Okay, but you have to be back before midnight so I can get in some patrolling and some sleep before I go to work."

"Right then. Thanks!"

Arsenal put on his red sunglasses so no one would see the pain in his eyes and limped out into the twilight. He needed good fuck or a good fix. He hadn't felt this low since Oliver had kicked him out for being a lousy junkie, a sniveling punk. Drugs would just make things worse though, and sex -- or rather *just* sex -- wouldn't help either. He decided to go over to the mainland and just walk around the city. Maybe if he walked long enough and far enough he'd somehow leave the pain behind.

*End Part One*

*Part Two -- Nightwing*

Dick Grayson was a crime-fighter. An acrobat. A martial artist. A superhero. He was all of these things.

A babysitter he was not.

"Uncle Nightwing? You're going to order us pizza, right? 'Cause I'm kinda hungry ..." Lian said, widening her eyes most angelically as she poked at his knee.

Dick swallowed. Damn Roy for sticking him with this. He didn't have his wallet with him. Dick thought for a moment, then frowned. "Lian, didn't you eat at Donna's party? There was pizza there."

Lian bit her lip, and Dick thought he saw a pout starting on her face. "But I didn't get very much ... pleeeeease, can we get some more?" Was that a tear starting to form?

Nightwing, bane of Bludhaven criminals, former sidekick of the Bat himself, leader of the Titans, surrendered hastily to his tyrant's demands. "Okay, okay, I'll get us some pizza. Geez." He threw up his hands and headed for the phone.

"Um, Nightwing?"

"Yes, Lian?"

"Get the pepperoni. Cheese is really boring."

" ... sure."


After settling Lian in front of a movie, and making sure she had a plate under her pizza, and a glass for her Coke, and a straw for her glass, and a napkin for messes, and her coloring books and pens for when she finished her pizza so she could do something while watching the movie, Dick put the tape in and sat back.


He nearly bit his tongue on the half-dozen things that sprang to mind that he really couldn't say out loud to someone under the age of eighteen, and managed a "Yes?"

"Is my dad okay?" She glanced over at him, the opening credits flashing over her face.

Dick frowned. "Okay? Why wouldn't he be?" The rat was on a hot date, and the party for Donna had ended all of half an hour ago. Lucky bastard, sneaking off like that without having to clean up.

"I dunno. Never mind." She turned back to the movie.

Dick, puzzled, decided that Lian was a magical child, but she was nonetheless of the female persuasion, and thus utterly incomprehensible at times. It was something to recognize and thenmove on from. Still, as he sat there and watched the explosions and fast cars flying by on the screen, Lian's words stuck with him. Something wrong with Roy? Like what? He was the original bad boy of the team; he always had been. That sexy red hair had gotten him out of more scrapes than Dick cared to remember. Not that he was attracted to Roy -- but he could guess from how the women in their lives responded to Roy. *Arsenal, eh?* he found himself thinking with a grin. *I wonder if that nickname means what I always thought it meant ...*

Looking over at Lian's small face, Dick felt ever so slightly ashamed at his thoughts. But surely Roy had been a worse role model. His video collection certainly didn't seem to be child-safe. Dick could just picture him watching some horribly violent movie with Lian sitting next to him.

More images of Roy filled his mind, images of what the man was probably doing tonight. Hot date, yeah. Dick was sure a "hot date" with Roy meant everything advertised. Some role model, Roy, leaving the kids at home while he went off to get laid by the first female that came along. Dick tore into a slice of pizza with force and chewed grumpily. How dare he --

How dare he get some? *Dick, you jealous bastard. Just because _you_ can't get laid ...* whispered a voice in his head. He ignored it. He could get laid. Anytime he wanted. By anyone. He was just above all that right now. He had better things to do.

Still ...


Dick didn't realize he'd fallen asleep during the movie until he woke to Lian in his lap, pulling his ears and giggling like a mad creature.

"Whoa, whoa, I'm awake, I'm awake," he protested, sitting up straighter. With a start, he noticed Roy standing in the doorway of Lian's room, silhouetted by the brighter light of the hallwayoutside. His arms were crossed, his stance rock solid. Dick felt a twinge of guilt.

"I, uh. I just dozed off," *now I'm lying to him,* "Sorry, man."

Arsenal didn't say anything. His jaw was set. Lian glanced back and forth between the two of them, her smile slowly fading. "What's the matter? Daddy?"

Finally, Roy came into the room, his expression softening a little for Lian. "Nothing's wrong, sweetheart. Why don't I tuck you in?"

Dick hastily moved out of the way, and skittered to the door with perhaps more speed than was strictly required. He hovered just outside, unsure of whether to flee or to risk mentioning payment. Roy settled Lian into bed, kissed her goodnight, and turned out the light. He met Dick at the door, his eyes hidden behind his sunglasses, and shut the door behind him.

Dick shifted his feet a little wider apart and lifted his jaw slightly. "How was the date?"

Roy flinched.

Dick stared. Suddenly, Roy was heading off toward his own bedroom, tossing the empty pizza box in the general direction of the trashcan. He flicked the light switch on, and had the door halfway shut before Dick caught up with him.


Reluctantly, Roy caught the door before it could slam in Dick's face. "Yeah? Look, Batboy, I'm tired, it's been a long day. You got something to say, just say it." There was an edge to his voice.

Dick suddenly remembered something he'd overheard at the party. "Is this about Donna?"

Roy swore under his breath, and walked over to the bed and slumped down on it. "There's no 'about' about it."

"Yeah, right." Dick waited for a moment. Roy didn't say anything. "Roy?"

"Aren't you supposed to be terrorizing the nightlife of Bludhaven right about now?" Roy demanded.

Dick muttered under his breath. "Roy Harper, you're driving me crazy."

"What was that?" Arsenal jerked around to face Nightwing, clenching a sweatshirt in his hands.

Nightwing stood his ground. 180 pounds of muscle, trained to hit vital points, were glaring at him as if Arsenal was visualizing him as a punching bag. No sweat. He found himself focusing on Roy's chest. Roy was still in costume, and the stylized arrow looked as fierce as Roy was acting. Dick found himself wishing there was a way to turn that ferocity down a little.

"What did you say, Batboy?" Arsenal was growling. He leaned into Dick's space. Nightwing could feel the heat rising off him.

"Take it down a notch," he murmured warningly.

Arsenal looked startled. "I-"

"You've had a bad day, and you want to take it out on someone. Given a choice between me and Lian, I'd probably pick me, too. But, Roy, you don't have to prove to me that you're powerful. I'm aware of it."

Roy grinned. "Oh? Have you been watching me, then? Checking things out?"

Nightwing blinked. *Did he just ... flirt with me?* The anger in Arsenal's face was completely gone, replaced with something else.

Roy shook his head. "Never mind. Look, it's just ... well, things ... well, Donna and I ... we ... there is no we." The last was whispered, heavy with regret.

Nightwing stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, waiting for Arsenal to continue. He glanced around for something to do with his hands, his feet, some place to put himself where he could be useful. There wasn't any such place.

Roy didn't notice Dick's discomfort. Instead, he continued, "Lian needs a mom. I'm ... not enough by myself. Cheshire's out of the question, for obvious reasons. I'm talking about a mother figure, you know? Not just a biological mother?"

Dick nodded. He didn't know what to say.

"Well." Arsenal slumped onto his bed, tossing the sweatshirt onto the floor. It looked like it had lots of company. "I ..." he tried to laugh. "I guess, I mean this must sound pretty funny to you, but I thought ... for a while there I kinda thought that ... Donna might be interested." He shook his head, then added quickly, "in raising Lian, I mean. And she has helped. But not seriously. I mean, she mothers the whole Titans team; I suppose it's a lot to ask her to mother Lian too. But-" He trailed off, looking hungry and empty in places.

Nightwing felt frustration rising within him. The hero in him wanted to drag Donna to Arsenal, by the hair if necessary, and demand that they be happy together. It made sense. They went welltogether. Roy obviously loved Donna.

*You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.* The only problem was that Donna apparently didn't love Roy. And Nightwing wasn't sure he wanted her to. "You two were talking at the party," he ventured. "What did she say?"

Arsenal gave a short bark of a laugh. "That I was ... her wild phase. A way for her to show herself she could be dangerous."

"That doesn't sound so bad ..."

Roy's eyes tightened. "That's all I was to her, Nightwing. A phase."

"... oh." Silence rose and stretched between them. Dick balanced on one foot, letting the blood drain back into the other one. Roy sat on the bed and watched a clean spot on the floor as if expecting it to get up and run away.

Finally, Dick drew a breath and said, "Well. I better get back to the 'Haven. I've got patrolling to do."

Arsenal nodded, still watching the floor.

*End Part Two*

*Part Three - Arsenal*

Several nights after the party for Donna, a smaller group -- current Titans only -- had gathered in the Tower. It was the night of their semi-weekly, often-cancelled, always delayed Marathon Movie Madness Night. It was a tradition that had been started way back when they were called the New Teen Titans. They watched movies together. *Bad* movies. The absolute worst movies anyone could find. A prize went to the person who found the worst movie. Roy was the King of Bad Movies, but Argent had been giving him a run for his money ever since she joined.

The most recent incarnation of the Titans had also added a new element into the traditional ruckus on Marathon Movie Madness Night. Besides the usual popcorn, soda, chips and dip, candy bars, nuts, hoagies, and the like that was normal for these kinds of things, now someone was always charged with making some special, esoteric, never-before-seen-and-never-will-be-again food for the consuming pleasure of the team. They took turns. This week, Roy had the "honors."

"Lian, honey, can you hand me the large pan on the table, please?" Roy said absently. Lian eagerly complied with his request. She liked playing chef in the kitchen. In fact, she was the one who had insisted that he carry out his original plan when he wanted to give up and order a party platter.

Roy had decided that he'd make something so weird, so original, that everyone else would have to work three times as hard to ever top it. Unfortunately, that meant that he had to work at the cooking pretty hard himself. He had decided to serve armadillo skewers. Armadillo as in the small, scaly creature that looked like a cross between an ant-eater and an armored pig. It had sounded like a good idea at the time!

Getting the armadillos hadn't been all that hard, surprisingly. After all, he *did* have contacts. And in certain circles, armadillos were much in demand. Although New York generally wasn't one of those circles, he'd once helped out an assistant chef who worked at one of Manhattan's finest restaurants and the man had been eager to help him out. He'd cut out the back meat, soaked it overnight, brushed it with butter, and broiled it. The rest of the team would be demanding their food any minute now and all he had to do was season the meat. That, however, was where he'd gotten stuck. Titan's Tower didn't appear to have salt in it. Anywhere. There was pepper -- three kinds actually -- but not a single pinch of table salt, kosher salt, or any other kind of salt to be had on the whole island.

"What do ya think, sweetie," he asked his daughter, "should we just serve it and do without the seasoning or should we pile on the pepper?"

"Pepper!" she yelled enthusiastically.

He laughed. "Alrighty then, New Mexico style armadillo with an extra punch it is!"

It actually went over well, although the meat really *did* need salt. Garth of course didn't eat any but everyone else did. He didn't tell them what it was until after they were finished, just before the first movie rolled. A moment of stunned silence met his revelation.

"Interesting," Jesse Quick finally pronounced. "I liked it. Tasted rather like pork. It needed salt, though."

Argent was a little green. "You should have told us what it was!" she whined.

"Naw," Roy smirked, "You didn't ask! And as for the salt, well, we don't have any so I had to make do."

"You could have used ocean water from around the island," Garth said. "After all, it is *salt* water."

"Shoot! Aw, well. I didn't think of it. Besides, that stuff is nasty! *You* know what kind of stuff gets dumped into ocean around here. I thought it came out good anyway! You didn't even taste it! Are you impugning my cooking abilities?"

Nightwing quickly stepped in to head off the argument. "I thought it was really good, Roy. No one will ever be able to top armadillo either!"

"Yeah, and it's your turn to try next week, Dickie-boy!" Roy crowed. Dick just groaned theatrically.

"I enjoyed it, too," said Donna.

"Thanks," Roy mumbled without looking at her.

"Okay, okay, I liked it...before you told me what it was!" Toni said. "Now, let's get this show on the road! Wait until you see the movie I got this time! It has to be the worst piece of drek ever to be put on film!"

While Toni started up the movie and everyone settled in with their various drinks and snacks, Roy went to put Lian down for the night. He ran a bath for her and they played "War on the High Seas" and then she got into her pajamas and he brushed her hair. She got her nightly milk, graham cracker, and chewable vitamin in the shape of a dinosaur. She picked out a book which he read to her and then he tucked her in, kissed her forehead, turned on her lullabies, turned off the light, and gently closed the door.

When he got back to the rest of the team, the movie was halfway over but he didn't appear to have missed anything great. He was quickly throwing popcorn at the television with the rest of them and groaning at the overacting and the stilted dialogue.

The second movie, this one just as horrible as the first, had been chosen by Tempest. They all had great fun making scathing comments about the apparent mental capacity of the main character, the unnatural size of the love-interest's breasts, and the cheesy monster effects. When it was over, everyone was still giggling.

"Geeze," Jesse rolled her eyes, "I wouldn't have believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes! That was just awful!"

"I don't know," said Roy, "I kinda liked the part where the bog monster slimed Ms. Bimbo and her shirt was ripped..."

"You would!" Jesse laughed and threw a couch pillow at him.

Donna yawned, stood up, and stretched. "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm beat. I'm going to sleep. See you later!"

Troia's words seemed to be a signal to everyone else and they all quickly retired to their respective rooms or left for home. That just left Roy and Dick to clean up the mess.

"What, you sticking around to get tips for your turn cooking next week?" Roy asked. He was rather surprised that Dick was still here. The other man was usually the first to make his excuses and leave to get back to his precious city. It was already past midnight and Roy knew his friend had to do the cop thing come morning.

"Naw, I'm good. Just wanted to talk to you. See how you were doing."

Dick was looking at him with those big, compassionate eyes and Roy had to look away. "Shit, man, I'm okay. The cast is finally gone. I'm ready for any fight coming our way, just watch out!"

"That's not what I meant, Roy," the other man said gently.

Arsenal shook his head. It just figured that Dick would bring up his trauma with Donna when he'd successfully blocked it out all night. He sighed. "Actually, I really *am* doing better. Donna's...well, I still love her doesn't quite hurt so badly as it did. Even when we were, you know, I never really believed that she'd actually want to...want to..." He chuckled humorlessly. "I mean, really, a guy like me doesn't deserve a gal like *her*."

"Stop that!" Roy looked up, surprised at Dick's harsh tone. Dick put his hands on Roy's shoulders. "You deserve the very best, Roy. You deserve it because you deserve someone just as good as you are. Donna just isn't the right someone. There are more fish in the sea, you know! You're a handsome guy, but even more than that, you have a beautiful soul. Don't sell yourself short. Anyone would fall in love with you!"

Roy's heart was pounding. Dick was standing so close...and he'd just said that *anyone* could fall for him. It sounded like... But still, he had to be sure. "Anyone?"

Dick nodded his head firmly. "Anyone."

"Even you?"

A shocked expression came over Nightwing's face. Roy's heart sank and he immediately tried to rebuild the walls around his shattered heart. He looked away from the other man, his face flaming. He did notice, however, that Dick hadn't pulled away in disgust.

Dick must have sensed his withdrawal because he reached up and turned Roy's head to face him. "I..."

Roy didn't wait for him to finish. He leaned forward and kissed his friend, putting all his long-pent up lust, all his passion, all his love, and all his pain into it. It was a kiss that would change everything for him.

*End Part Three*

*Part Four - Nightwing*

Arsenal was kissing him. Not a familial kiss; not a teammate kiss. As if those ever happened anyway. They certainly never happened on the mouth.

Roy was kissing him! Nightwing felt like cheering, blushing, and running from the room, all at once. Instead, he pulled away and crossed his arms across his chest, taking a deep breath. Heswallowed, then looked up.

Roy was staring at him, eyes gone wide with pain. Those sexy lips were half-parted, as if he couldn't believe that someone had rejected him. That thought hit Dick suddenly; it wasn't true. He was being monumentally unfair to Arsenal. Roy had just been rejected by Donna, and here Dick was doing it again.

*But he's a GUY!*

"Roy ..." What to say, what to say ... hell, he didn't even know what to think.

Just like that, the emotions playing across Arsenal's face vanished, and Roy said, "Forget it. I was reading into your words, obviously." He stood up, face carefully still, and headed for the door. "I have to go check on Lian."

Several things flashed through Nightwing's mind, the chief among them being, "this is it. Move now or do irreparable damage to him. If you haven't already." So Nightwing jumped up and ran after him. "Roy!"

Roy whirled. "What?!" he growled. He looked furious.

In spite of himself, Nightwing shrank back. If this was a fight, he'd know how to react, where to position himself, but it wasn't. No. This wasn't a fight. This -- he placed a hand on Arsenal's arm.

Roy's nostrils flared. "Take your hand off."

A strange calm rose within Dick, floating with unvoiced fears. "No." He took a deep breath. "Arsenal -- Roy -- I ..." He stared into fierce green eyes. "Screw it. I ... I want you."

Roy clenched his teeth, but there was wetness in his eyes. "To prove something about yourself? Like Donna?"

Nightwing shook his head. "No," he whispered, more frightened than he'd been in a long time. He stepped forward, and, using one hand to draw Roy's face toward his, kissed him.

For a moment, Arsenal resisted. Then he melted -- no, more than that. It was like being swallowed. They hugged, and Dick clutched Roy to him, reveling in the heat and solid form of Arsenal against his own. He felt hands running through his hair, slipping down to lay in the small of his back. He was trembling, unsure of the ground beneath his feet, but it didn't matter, nothing mattered, because Arsenal was there, holding him up and tasting him like so much wine.

They kissed, and held each other, and then slowly, gently, Roy pulled Dick through the doorway and down the hall toward his bedroom, stopping every so often to coax him along with deep kisses that made Dick's head spin. He followed, stumbling, eager but suddenly shy. All of his templates for sex suddenly no longer applied. Arsenal wasn't a girl, and Nightwing couldn't treat him as one. He didn't even want to. He wanted--

Roy captured his lips, and Dick sensed that he could just let Roy guide him along, and Roy would. But as they reached Roy's bed, and Roy kicked the door shut with one leg, Nightwing dropped two impulsive hands to Arsenal's belt, and pulled the shirt out.

Arsenal looked surprised.

Nightwing grinned in spite of himself, and pulled it over Arsenal's head. Arsenal let him, then as soon as his hands were free, tangled Dick in the shirt and kissed him again and again.



"Let me go, you bastard ..."

"Why?" Arsenal's hands were at his jeans, and Dick was torn between squirming and rubbing into Roy's hands.

"I ..." Oh, he wasn't going to last very long at this rate ...

"Come on, man, you can tell me ..." Arsenal was grinning, his hands tracing arcane symbols along Dick's body inside his jeans.

Dick finally managed to disentangle himself from Arsenal's shirt by removing his own as well. Roy looked pleased. "Even better."

They paused.

Then, desperately ignoring Roy's hands, Dick leaned forward and unbuckled Roy's pants, letting them slip down to where Roy could kick them off. Roy did, then waited, watching Nightwing's face.

Nightwing stared at the place where a thin line of red hair trailed down Arsenal's stomach to disappear into his boxers. He knelt, and Arsenal was forced to withdraw his hands. Nightwing carefully stripped off the last of Roy's clothing, and his own, and then gently pushed Roy onto the bed. Roy was still watching him passively -- no, not passively, but intently. There was a contained energy in his face.

For a moment, Dick had a crazy vision of Batman lecturing him on the most efficient ways to make love to a man. He fought off hysterical giggles. No. Here he had only one life to save. And to do it, he just had to let go and fly.

Like acrobatics.

He took Roy in his mouth, and had the satisfaction of watching Roy's eyes widen in real surprise. The skin was incredibly soft, the detective part of his mind noted, as his tongue went to work.Arsenal writhed beneath him. Dick concentrated on making him writhe more.

"Nightwing!" gasped Roy.

Dick paused, and gently released Roy. "Nightwing?" he repeated. "At a time like this, you can't use my real name?"

Roy stared at him. "You stopped."

Dick grinned. "So I did. Come on, man, you can say my name," he teased.

Arsenal shrugged. "It is appropriate to the situation, I suppose, Dick."

Dick bit his lip. "I should have known that was coming."

Arsenal blinked at him innocently.

Nightwing looked at him. Roy was lying there on the bed, his lower half under Dick, and his chest slowly rising and falling. His strong arms were reaching for Nightwing, and red locks fell in front of his eyes as he sat up and took Dick in to a kiss.

Dick felt a surge of something wonderful, something better than lust. He felt *safe*. "Oh, man," he mumbled into Roy's mouth. "We should have done this a long time ago."

"No kidding," murmured Roy, running hands over Dick's body. "I've been watching you, Robin."

Dick blinked, and glanced at Roy's face -- there was a mischievous grin on it.

"You -- never mind. I don't care. Let's just do this, okay?" He dropped a possessive hand into Roy's lap.

Roy's answering grin was like lightning.


Afterwards, Dick discovered that Roy's perpetually unmade bed was a good thing. It was cozy. It was especially cozy when one was snuggling with a certain Navajo-raised superhero.

Sometimes it was good to be a Titan.

"Thanks, Dick," Roy murmured into his hair.

Nightwing was silent for a moment. "This wasn't for pity, you know. I don't work like that."

Roy froze. "You -- what? It ..."

Dick struggled for words. "I like you. I -- I don't know yet if I love you. But, man, I want to find out. Um. How's the Donna situation?" *And your heart,* he didn't add.

Roy relaxed, curling around Dick. "It still hurts," he admitted. "I still can't believe she'd use me like that. I mean, I realize I let her do it. Maybe I deserved it, but-"

Dick turned to face Roy. "Shut up. You did not deserve that," he said quietly. "No one deserves to be a phase in another person's life. Least of all you." Softly, he brushed a strand of hair outof Arsenal's face.

Arsenal smiled tiredly. "You're not so bad, yourself, kiddo."

*End Part Four*

*Epilogue - Arsenal*

Several nights later, Roy peered through the darkness, watching his lover sleep. Dick had come back to the Tower extremely late. He often didn't even come back after patrolling Bludhaven as Nightwing, but Officer Grayson had the next day off. Dick had tried not to wake him up, but Roy was of necessity a light sleeper. After all, with his training and in his line of work not waking up at the slightest disturbance could bring death. He was touched that Dick had tried, though. It showed a level of concern for his well-being that made Roy feel loved.

Asleep, Dick looked even younger than he was. The troubles of being a masked vigilante cum officer of the law were gone when he was this completely relaxed. He was beautiful. Roy felt honored to have this amazing man in his bed.

He idly began to stroke the other man's flanks. This ... this *thing* between them had grown to the point where Roy knew that it would soon be painful. It was always painful. Roy had always loved Dick and he'd always lusted after the other hero, but now it was more. Now Roy thought that he might have it worse for Dick than he'd ever had it for Donna. And that scared him worse than facing down a platoon of deranged and heavily armed psychopaths, worse than the thought of becoming an addict again.

Roy sighed and pulled Dick toward him, wrapping himself around the warm, lithe body so they were spooned together.

"Roy?" Dick whispered softly.

He felt a brief twinge of guilt for depriving this incredible man of even more sleep, but he really needed to talk. "Who was your first male lover?"


"What?!" Roy pulled away in startlement. He felt Dick turn around so that they were facing each other.

"There's only been you, Roy."

"But... I mean, you seemed like you knew what you were doing!"

Dick grinned at him cheekily. "I studied a lot under Batman's tutelage."

The mental image that *that* little statement brought up made Arsenal choke and stutter. "Y-you and ... and *Bat*man...!" he said weakly.

"Not like *that*!" Dick laughed. "I went undercover as a male prostitute a few times and I had to have a basic knowledge of the, um, mechanics of the job to pull it off. I never actually slept with a man before you."

Roy shook his head in awe. "You never cease to amaze me, Robbie."

Dick reached over and cupped Roy's chin so that their eyes were locked together. "I may have had prior knowledge of the theory of having sex with a man, but it was *you*, Roy, who taught me about loving a man."

Roy was so overwhelmed with the simple heart-felt love in that statement that he was almost speechless. "Do you love me, Richard Grayson?" he asked warily.

"Yes. Do you love me, Roy Harper?"


They were suddenly desperately clinging to each other, roughly kissing. Roy was overcome with passion. They rubbed against each other, fondled each other, drove each other wild. He felt Dick's hard cock against his own and moaned with pleasure. They fit together perfectly.

With a gasp of pure, mind-bending pleasure, Roy came. Dick writhed against him and came as well.

They lay recovering in each others arms afterward and Roy gave voice to his thought. "We fit together, Dick." He didn't know how to explain it but they just *did*. And not only in flesh, but in spirit, too. "I never fit with Donna. She was just ... too *smooth* for a rough cuss like me."

Dick apparently understood him, proving his point. "Yeah. We both have some rough edges. Fortunately, our rough edges fit together perfectly. You complete me, Roy."

"Yes, that's it exactly. Please don't ever leave me, Robbie."


They fell asleep embracing so closely that the two seemed to blend into one being of perfect love.



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