I'm one of the newbies on the site and to this fandom. In fact I've been spending the last couple of weeks working my way through your archives and a few of the related sites...well written stuff, indeed.
I'm posting this short fic as a sort of introduction to myself...and if I've done it wrong or stepped on any toes, accept my apologies, if you would, please...purely unintentional, I assure you.
Anyway, I'm Beth, usually sigh my e-mails "B" since it's a common name and write under the name of "simon". Hey, it works for me, OK?
Dick Grayson was tired as he climbed the stairs up to his apartment. It had been a long day, and a long night before that--and a long day before that, if the truth were known. All he wanted was a hot shower, no--a hot bath then maybe some dinner and bed to sleep.
Tired didn't begin to cover it.
He turned the key in the lock, expecting to be greeted by Garth, or maybe some soft music or the smells of dinner cooking. Instead he walked into a room full of about ten people, none of whom he knew, all of them, from the look of their clothing and the language they were speaking, Atlanteans. Well, OK, maybe Garth had decided to have a party or something. Maybe he was working on something and decided to bring his staff home with him. Whatever. As soon as he found him, he'd find out.
The men turned to him as soon as he entered, the talk stopped and he quickly realized that they were all staring at him, looking at one another and just generally really uncomfortable and relieved with the fact that he was there. Well, damn. He did live here. It was his name on the lease. For that matter, it was his name on the deed, if you wanted to get technical. After a few awkward moments, one of the men detached himself from the group and approached him.
"Mister Grayson?" The familiar accent caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand up for some reason. Something was wrong here--really wrong.
"Yes?" Where was Garth?
"If you'll permit me, I'm the Under Councilor to the United Nations from our nation. I work directly under His Highness." So do I Dick though, controlling his laugh. What the Hell was going on?
"Where is the Prince?" It was obvious that this was not an informal kind of guy. "Has something happened to him?"
"I'm afraid that he took ill this morning during a meeting in the Security Council. He asked to be brought here, but I'm afraid...the doctor is with him"
"Taken ill? Where is he?" The Under Councilor...did this guy have a name?...flicked his eyes toward the bedroom. Dick walked past him, through the small crowd that made way for him, and down the hall. The door was closed and he wondered if he should knock. He didn't. He just turned the knob and walked in, quietly.
Garth was lying on the bed, covered up to his bare chest with the down. Some man, another Atlantean, was taking his pulse and looking pretty serious. Garth looked...well, he didn't look good. He was pale and his breathing was almost impossible to see, his chest barely moving. His eyes were closed. He was either asleep or unconscious.
Without turning the doctor said, "We've been waiting for you. He refused to allow us to remove him until he could see you." He straightened and looked at Dick. "Please, don't tire him any more than you have to and don't interfere with what we have to do."
"What's wrong with him? He was fine this morning. Remove him? Remove him where? What's...?" He was really scared. Garth was healthy. They had made love last night and again this morning. If something had been wrong he would have known. He would have, they knew each other so well. There was nothing that they didn't know about each other, nothing that one wouldn't notice about the other.
The doctor seemed like a nice old man, sorta like Marcus Welby, if old Marcus could breath water. He looked kind.
"The Prince has spent too much time on the surface. Years too long. Our bodies, our lungs and hearts, our circulatory systems, even our optic nerves have adapted over the last five thousand years. We can no longer live here for any real length of time. He's been here too long."
"But, he's OK, I mean, he's healthy..."
Dr. Welby shook his head. "He has to go home."
"He takes those medicines and vitamins to help him stay here...he's careful about that. He's always going swimming. He's--healthy."
"He needs to go home." The man paused, trying to soften what he was saying. "We know, forgive me, that you and the Prince are--friends. You would want what's best for him, as do we all."
A slight movement behind the doctor caught Dick's attention. Garth had moved slightly, opened his eyes. Dr. Welby, or whatever his name was turned back to his patient.
"Leave us." The Prince was speaking, not Garth.
"Your Highness, I must..."
"Leave us." Bowing, he walked out, closing the door silently behind him.
His face changed, softened, regret and apology in his eyes. His wonderful eyes. "I'm so sorry, Robbie. I thought that I'd be all right." He made no attempt to sit up.
Dick sat beside him, carefully, not wanting to jostle him. He took the hand resting on top of the covers in his own, kissing the back of it. "Why didn't you tell me?"
A small smile, then his soft voice, "You know why. I'm an Ambassador, I have a job. There are treaties in negotiation now. I'm the only one here who knows the other reps personally, I can talk to them. They know me, they don't know the others. Besides, you know I want to be with you."
"If you go back with them, you'll be OK, right?" Dick was really scared. Garth looked so damn weak. He was the strongest person he knew and he was lying there like an invalid. "I mean, you'll get better and you'll be able to come back, won't you?"
That small smile again. "You know that I love you."
Oh, God, he wouldn't answer. "I love you, too. You know how much." He paused while he collected himself. "Why did you want to make love this morning if you weren't well? You know I wouldn't have if I knew you were sick."
He fixed those amazing eyes on him. "Robbie, I have to go home. Don't make it harder than it is."
Close to tears, he nodded. "Will you come back?"
Garth pulled the hand still in his to his own mouth, pressing his mouth against the palm, opening it, and holding it in a caress against his own cheek. "I love you, Rob."
There was a soft knock at the door. "Forgive me, your Highness. It's time." Garth made no indication that he'd heard.
"If I can, yes."
A stretcher was wheeled into the room. Four of the men carefully, gently, lifted him and placed him on the gurney, fixing the straps around him. The entire time, Dick and Garth never broke their eye contact. They were starting to wheel him out when he stopped them with a gesture.
"Yes?" Dick was by his side, holding his hand again.
Carefully, he leaned over and kissed his lover's mouth, then twice more, whispering how much he loved the man he might be losing. He straightened, conscious of the others watching.
They wheeled him out of the apartment and lifted him down the steps to the ambulance waiting to take them to the pier where a boat was waiting to take him back.
He didn't ride in the ambulance. When Garth had seen him start to climb into the back, he had stopped him as gently as he could. "No, don't. I don't want to draw it out. Please, Rob." Dick knew that what he meant was that he didn't know if he would have the strength to prologue this. He needed this finished, closed now so that he could think about what lay ahead of him.
The ambulance pulled away, lights flashing, but no siren to upset it's patient. The members of Garth's staff leaving in separate cars. Left alone on the sidewalk, Dick watched them move down the street, around the corner.
He was gone.