Summary: just what it sounds like
Disclaimers: These guys aren't mine, they don't belong to me, worst luck, so don't bother me.
Feedback: yes. Baeden2000@aol.com
"Hey, so Dick, Marie and I are having a cookout on Sunday, why don't you try to make it? Bring that lady I hear you're hangin with."
"Sounds great, Phil, but I don't know. Sundays we usually try to just kinda catch up with each other, y'know?"
"What, catch up?"
"You know, we both work, long hours, weird schedules. We don't get to see each other as much as we'd like."
"Sounds like she's got you by the short hairs, man."
"Yeah, well, maybe." He was smiling as he said it, though. "I'll let you know, OK?"
"Yeah, sure. See ya."
Dick Grayson left the precinct house, headed over to where he'd parked his bike around back in the secure lot and revved the machine till you'd have thought that the neighbors would have been throwing bottles down at him. They didn't, of course, but probably would have liked to. He took off out of the lot, headed home. It was the end of a long week and his other half had been in Washington since Monday working on treaties and dinners and negotiations and God knew what all it was that he did. Schmoozed a lot. Greased wheels, tried to make things work. It had been all week since they'd seen each other. No contact other than phone calls and e-mails. Goddamn, he hated not having that warm body next to his at night to keep the boogieman away. It had been a whole week, almost.
Damn, they missed each other when that happened.
They'd be together tonight, though, and making up for lost time.
He hated sleeping alone. He'd hated it since he was a kid and his parents had died. They had all shared a trailer when they had worked for the circus. It had been small and cramped, with no room and not much money, but it was home. In fact it was the only home that he'd known until his parents had been killed and he had moved in with Bruce.
Then he had his own room with a bathroom that was bigger than the whole trailer had been. It had taken years before he had really felt comfortable about sleeping there.
He had been too afraid to tell anyone about the nightmares, but somehow Alfred had known and would 'accidentally' forget to put the dog out. Dick had fallen asleep with his arms around that old dog more times than he could count. Bruce never found out about that.
As he got older, it had gotten better, of course, but he never really liked sleeping alone.
And now he had Garth. God, he loved Garth.
Garth was warm and strong and calm and loving and gentle and let him sleep with his arms around him all night long. Some people didn't like to be touched when they slept, it would bother them. Some people couldn't stand to feel someone's breath on their neck or shoulder; they'd find it irritating. Garth never did.
Garth would let him hold on all night, as tight as he wanted, as long as he needed. Garth would even hold him back.
God, he really loved him. He'd loved other people before he and Garth had connected, but it hadn't been like this.
You know when you just feel in your gut that something is right? That it's good and perfect and gonna last? You know that feeling? That was Garth.
He would look at Garth and know that it was as good as his life was going to get. There was nothing better than this and him and making love and being together and loving each other. Oh, yeah, and sleeping with his arms around him all night and then waking up in the morning and kissing each other and not even caring that they hadn't brushed their teeth yet or anything. Just loving each other. It didn't get any better than that.
Garth was the best part of his life and Dick knew that what they had together was as good as it would get and they would be together tonight after almost a week apart.
He pulled the bike down into the basement where he had fixed up a parking place so no one would mess with the machine and took the stairs two at a time. He could see the sliver of light under the door and as soon as he pushed it open he could smell dinner, but the first thing he saw was Garth's smile as he walked into the kitchen. Then he felt Garth's arms around him and his lips on his own and, God, he was glad to be home.
At first they just stood there, kissing each other and holding on for dear life, like they were each other's lifeline and if either one let go they would fall down some well and never get out.
Then they started talking between the kisses. "I missed you." "God, I missed you, too." "How was it?" "It was OK, I kept thinking about you." "Did that Russian rep give you trouble?" "No, he was all right once I got talking to him alone." "Are you hungry?" "Starving, You?" "Starving"
But they still just held on to each other for a while longer. Finally they drew away, arms still around waists.
"I picked up dinner on the way back. Chinese all right with you?"
"Chinese is great. Here or in bed?"
Garth laughed. "Here. The sheets are clean."
"You're such a priss. We'll dirty them later. C'mon, I'm really hungry. I didn't have lunch."
"Fine, get the plates. I'll get the food."
They set about getting the simple dinner out on the table, veggie lo mein and Garth even surprised Dick with Beef and Broccoli. "You ordered me meat? You know it makes you yak."
"But you like it, and I love you. Just keep it on your side of the table."
"How was it in Washington, really? Was it bad? You look tired."
"It was good and bad. Forward and back, you know how this kind of thing goes. It was getting frustrating, but we had some luck with some of the treaties, so it evened out. How was it here?"
"It was OK. Lonely without you. You know I can't sleep when you're not here."
Garth gave him a sympathetic look. "What did you do?"
"Watched late movies, talked with Babs, read. You know." He shrugged. Garth nodded. He knew. He had done the same.
Finished eating they didn't even bother trying to pretend that they wanted anything other than to make love.
Afterwards, a couple of hours later, they were tangled laying together on the no longer pristine sheets when Garth spoke in his quiet voice.
"I've been thinking about an idea I had a couple of weeks ago. I didn't want to say anything over the phone, but I was wondering something."
"What were you thinking, love?" Resting, sated and lazy across Garth's chest, Dick kissed his neck.
"It's not legal here, but if we were to go back home, my home I mean, we could be married. I know that it probably wouldn't be recognized up here, but we would know and..."
Dick pulled himself up so that he could look at the expression on Garth's face. He was as serious as he'd ever seen him, and as tender.
His gentle voice again, "Will you marry me?"
"--Yes." Dick started laughing, happier that he'd probably been in his whole life. "Yes, I want to. We'll get married. Yes, yes." And then they were kissing each other and they were both laughing and holding each other and it was incredible.
They made love again that night and then once more after that before falling asleep with Dick carefully wrapped in Garth's arms, just where he wanted to be.
In the morning, Garth woke alone, sun streaming through the open shades. Thinking that Dick was in the bathroom or perhaps had gotten up to make breakfast, he waited in the warmth beneath the down comforter. When a half hour had passed, he slipped on a robe and decided to go looking.
He found Dick sitting on the couch in the living room, his arms around his legs, chin resting on his knees. He was wearing an old pair of sweats.
"Rob? Are you all right?" He sat beside him, his hand carefully pushing the lock of hair out of his eyes.
He nodded, a little embarrassed, smiling and turned to Garth. " I love you, you know? I really love you."
Garth just nodded.
"What you said last night, did you mean that? I mean, it's OK if you don't think it would really be a good idea or if you've changed your mind..."
"I can get next week off. We could go down then or, if you'd rather, I can have someone come up here to New York or 'Haven or the Manor or wherever you would like." He took one of Dick's hands in his own, kissing the knuckles. "I love you and I want us to be married. And I see no reason to wait."
"You're really sure about this? I mean, we're pretty happy the way we are now, we could just stay like this."
Garth leaned back a few inches. "Don't you want to? I thought that you would be pleased, but if you don't think that..."
"No, no. I do, I really do want to. It's just that, well...I don't understand why you would want to tie yourself to me like this." He saw the reaction he'd caused, the hurt. "No, Garth, that's not what I mean. I mean, shit, I mean, you're so amazing, you could have whomever you want and you want me. I--"
The hand was now cradling Dick's cheek. "Robbie, I love you, I've loved you since I was thirteen years old. You're handsome and intelligent, accomplished and kind. You've a more loving heart than anyone I've met and you're the only person I know who's overcome more than I have."
"And you're the best fuck I know." That's what he said, straight faced, sincere and genuine until even Dick had to burst out laughing.
"Well, when you put it like that, I guess that I have no choice."
Laughing, embracing, kissing and their hands running over hair and faces and backs, they reclined on the couch, probably about to make love when Dick asked again, still confused. "You're sure? Garth, I mean, you have no second thoughts at all? No questions, no doubts or hesitations--nothing?"
He shook his head slightly. "You seem uncertain, Rob. Are you not comfortable with this? Are there questions in your mind about us?"
Dick took his hand, holding at, looking at it. "This is going to sound stupid, but hear me out, OK?"
"I was raised, until my parents were killed anyway--I was raised Catholic. It's not like we went to Mass every week or anything but we were and they had those basic beliefs and attitudes." He hesitated.
"Yes, go on."
"It's just that, I know that it's pretty common and sometimes it's the right thing to do, but--I..." He stopped again. "I don't ever want to get divorced. I don't. I believe that if you take the vow until death you part, that's what you do." He looked at Garth. "So, are you still sure you want to do this?"
"I've only ever considered marrying two people in my life. Tula would have been my wife by now if she had lived. You are the other. I love you and I want to share my life with you just as I want you to share your life with me." His fingers rubbed Dick's as they laced together. "I can't promise you that we'll always be together, but I'll never intentionally do anything to hurt you or to cause you pain, I can promise you that."
He saw the look in the violet eyes, the certainty and the quiet shake of the head that told him how sure his lover was both of him and of their being together. The answering smile on Dick's face was--wonderful.
"Yes, this week, wherever you want. We'll do this, we'll get married." Another kiss, tender and long and gentle.
"Come on, I need a shower. I'm getting too dry."
Garth stood, still holding Dick's hand as the two of them walked into the bathroom. The water was turned on and after stripping down; the two of them stepped into the spray.
Dick had finished soaping Garth's chest and shoulders and was working his way down and all around when his hands stopped just as he began getting to the really good parts of Garth's groin. "I was just wondering..." Garth stopped midgroan.
"...You were wondering what would happen if you decided to stop now?"
His hands started again, but absentmindedly. "No, I was wondering what the ceremony is like in Atlantis."
"Um, Rob...can I tell you later?"
"Oh, yeah, sure." His hand, both of them, in fact, began moving with just a bit more intent.
Half an hour later the two of them were laying on the couch, talking about what plans needed to be made, who they should tell, when they would make the actual arrangements and where the rites would take place.
"Well, I don't think that it's all that different than the way things are done on the surface. There aren't any legal requirements, beyond a minimum age that we're both past, there's no license required or anything like that. Basically, there would be a priest, probably a high priest because I'm a prince. He would charge us to care for one another through good times and adversity, speak about the depth of commitment and the step we were taking, ask us of our intentions--that sort of thing."
"Are there rings?"
"Wedding rings? No, they're not normally used. We can, if you would like."
"I do like the idea of rings, if you wouldn't mind. I always liked that my parents wore the same design, that they had that special thing together."
Garth smiled at him. "If that would please you."
"Who should we invite? I think that we'd either have to invite everyone or practically nobody. I don't see any middle ground."
"You're likely right. We should also keep in mind that this isn't a conventional marriage for your society. We'll offend some people and there could be repercussions for you in your work if it were known."
Dick sighed. "I know. The others think I live with a woman." He smiled to himself. "We're invited to a cookout tomorrow, by the way, over at Phil and Marie's"
"Do you want to go?" Garth seemed to be waiting for Dick's answer.
"No, not really. We can if you want to, but I don't think that you really want to spend the afternoon with a bunch of cops when we can be alone together."
Garth paused. "Dick, do you intend to keep your friends thinking that you live with a woman?"
"...Well, I--hadn't thought about it. Do you care one way or another?"
"I don't want there to be problems for you, but I don't like dishonesty, either."
"What about your work? The UN isn't what you would call liberal. There could be problems for you if it were known that you're gay. Could it affect your relationships with the other reps and the negotiations?"
"Most of the others are intelligent enough to know that it doesn't matter who I chose to share my life with. Some are fools, but if it wasn't this that bothered them, it would be something else."
"Garth, I don't think that it's a good time for us to just come out and announce that we're lovers." He saw the look. It was one he'd almost never seen before. Garth angry.
Then, quiet and as well reasoned as any UN debate, "You live with me, sleep with me, make love with me, talk to me, and tell me everything that concerns you, whether it be good or bad. You say you love me almost daily and now you say that you want us joined together for as long as we live but you can't admit to others that you're in love with another man."
"Garth, that's not fair. You know how much I love you. And you know that I've told any number of others that we're together. Bruce knows and Kal. Alfred, Leslie, the entire team, the JLA. Barbara. Lot's of people know."
"The selected family knows. You hide it from everyone else. We both know that you don't need that job you have. That's no reason to hide there. Besides, the 'Haven force doesn't care about gays. They have an open hiring policy."
Dick realized that Garth was really angry, or hurt, or both. This isn't where this was supposed to go. They were so happy, planning a wedding, for God's sake. How had this happened so fast?
"That's not what I meant..."
"You're still not comfortable with the fact that you're in love with a man. It was different with Joey that was just an affair. When it becomes more, you put throw up all those old excuses again."
"Garth, that's not what I..."
Standing, he started to say something, stopped, gave Dick a long look and left the room. A moment later Dick heard the front door close behind him.
Dick went into the bedroom to get dressed then hit the kitchen to score something to eat.
Noon. OK, fine, Garth would think about what had just happened then be back in a little while and they could sit down and discuss this calmly. He would have to see Dick's side to this. C'mon, he couldn't just come flying out of the closet, for Chrissake's, he's a cop in a blue collar city and trying to keep a low profile while he's doing his thing there. The last thing he needed was to have "fag cop" pinned to him. The job was tough enough without having to deal with that. On top of that there was the whole thing about how Bruce would be affected. OK, sure, Bruce himself didn't care, but he had that entire foundation to run and however many companies he was currently the head of. He sure as Hell didn't need the hassle of dealing with his ward/adopted son being outted.
And another thing, Garth may not think that his being gay or bi or whatever was a big deal at the UN, but he was wrong on that score, Dick would lay his bottom dollar on that. His entire reputation could be changed and the negotiations he was working on could fall apart if he was dealing with any homophobes--and he likely was, whether he knew it or not.
They couldn't just do this the way Garth seemed to think they could. He didn't understand the differences on the surface as well he thought. Maybe at home this was nothing, but here it could be major trouble.
Damnit, he was smart, he'd see that Dick was right.
The afternoon dragged on with Dick getting progressively more restless and annoyed as the hours passed. Where the Hell was he?
Afraid to go our looking in case Garth returned while he was gone, he stayed in. He couldn't call since Garth had left his cel sitting on the kitchen counter in the recharger. OK, he could have left a note, but the petty side of him (as he fully admitted) wanted to see Garth's expression when he started his apology.
Looking out the windows, it was starting to get dark. This was going on too long. He should have been back by now. Garth never got angry and if he did get annoyed it would blow over in an hour or less. The fact that he was always so calm and even-tempered was one of the things that Dick loved about him.
At nine that evening he was starting to seriously get worried. There was still no word and nothing like this had ever happened before. Even on the few occasions they had disagreed, they would always talk it out and settle things between themselves fast. They had never stayed angry at each other for more than a couple of hours before.
Dick started thinking that maybe Garth did have some valid points in what he had said. OK, they did have what was basically a married relationship now anyway. Their friends knew about it and there hadn't been any serious problems. Of course, that could be because they were friends, but still.
Maybe no one would really care.
You always think that your own problems and stuff were important to other people because they mattered to you. The fact was that most people didn't care.
Still, there would be problems if they came out. There would be. There was no getting around that.
Where the Hell was he?
He checked the clock for the seventh time in about twenty minutes. 10:38. PM.
Where WAS he?
The computer chimed. Barbara was calling him.
"Hey there, sweetie, I'm looking for your roommate. I've got some info he asked me for the other day, could you get him for me?"
"Hey, Barbara. He's not here right now. You can send it and I'll give it to him when he gets home, OK?"
She caught something in his voice or face or body language or something.
"Dick...is something going on?"
"No, everything's fine. He's just out for a while. I'll give him your stuff when he gets back."
She obviously wasn't buying that all was well, but "All right. I'll attach some files for him. Talk to you later, hon." The screen went dark.
It was now after eleven, he flicked on the news. There was just the usual stuff, weather, sports, a murder, and a rail strike. It was boring. He dial flipped, caught a rerun of SNL from like twenty-five years ago, Radner and Belushi. It was funny but tonight it was falling flat.
At one in the morning he was really starting to get scared. Garth had never just walked out before, ever. Even when they were kids and would have disagreements in the old Tower, he would stay calm or get quiet, he would never just walk out. He was wondering where he could start calling, where he might have gone.
Part of him was desperate to know, part of him was embarrassed that it was probably his fault that Garth had left.
God, he just wanted him back, safe. He wanted to hear his key in the lock and he wanted to put his arms around him and just hold him and kiss him and let him know that he loved him and was really sorry--oh, Hell. He was sorry, but he was right, too. He really was right, and Garth would have to admit that.
Garth knew that they couldn't just out themselves, not the way Garth seemed to want. He knew that they had to be discrete, that they both had too much at stake to just live the lifestyle openly.
He knew that.
The more he thought about it, the more he thought that the idea of their getting married was foolish. Sure, maybe in Atlantis it was cool, but it wouldn't be recognized up here. OK, they would know that they had made the commitment, and that was good, terrific in fact, but they were committed anyway and it wasn't like they would really be able to tell anyone beyond a small circle of friends.
He idea was a nice one, and it was great that Garth would think to do that, but it wouldn't really work, not when you thought about it.
The more the time crawled by, the more he wondered if Garth had really thought this through. It wouldn't work. It just wouldn't.
Four AM. Damnit, where was he?
He couldn't have been in some kind of an accident, could he? He couldn't. He was a Titan, he was trained and strong and careful. No, he was fine, he had to be. Wherever the Hell he was.
A couple of hours later the sky was lightening and there had still been no word at all. No calls, no Garth walking through the door, no e-mail. Nothing.
He was getting really scared now, he'd had no sleep and he knew he had to get his butt to the precinct because he had the early shift and if he was late or shined today, they wouldn't go easy on him after all the days he'd missed the last year or so. He had to go. He could get cleaned up there, he didn't have to bother with a shower or shave right now. 6:30. He had to leave.
Writing a note to please wait for him when Garth got back and leaving it on the kitchen counter, he reluctantly left.
Twenty minutes later, changing his clothes in the locker room, Phil walked over to him. "You look like something the cat dragged in, Grayson. Your old lady on your case about something?"
"Yeah, something like that." He didn't want to talk about it.
"Hey, look, it happens. Just tell her you're sorry, tell her it was your fault and bring home a bunch of flowers, take her out to dinner. She'll be OK."
"Yeah, maybe. Later, Phil."
Ten hours, two muggings, a heart attack victim and more paperwork than he could get finished later, he headed home.
Parking his bike under the building, taking the stairs slowly, he was met on the landing by Clancy. "So, there you are, then. There's some man in your place, y'know. I heard some noise a while ago, so I went to check. He's packin up some belongins'."
Dick looked at her in disbelief. Garth was packing up because of one disagreement?
Walking into the apartment he saw Marcus, the Under Councilor for the Atlantean Mission to the UN putting some of Garth's clothing into a suitcase. Hearing Dick's entrance he looked up apologetically.
"Forgive me, Mr. Grayson. His Highness asked me to bring some of his things to the townhouse for him." He looked like he would rather be anywhere than where he was at that moment. Marcus was a good guy. He shouldn't have been put into the middle of this. "He also asked me to give you this." He handed over a sealed envelope.
"Thank you." Dick took it into the kitchen to read it in private. The note he had left that morning was still there, untouched.
"Rob" (it said). Good, at least he was OK enough that he was using his nickname.
"First of all, I love you. That hasn't changed and I can't imagine it ever changing.
I know that you think that I'm overreacting and that I simply haven't thought out the ramifications of our living openly as the couple that we are or that I am being na´ve to think that we will be accepted if we go through with our marriage.
I've thought about almost nothing else for weeks. I'm convinced that it will not become a large problem for either of us. I believe that it is better to live openly than to continue the game that we play.
I cannot abide hypocrisy.
The facts remain that we are, both of us, bisexual and that we live together as lovers. We love one another enough, deeply enough, for the idea of our marrying to be a joy to us both.
I revel in what we have together; I embrace it as I embrace you, both in our bed and out of it. I want you in my life as long as you will have allow me beside you but I have become increasing frustrated by your inability to admit what we are to one another anywhere other than in our own home.
No one cares if we live together. No one cares what we do together. Our friends are happy for us--you know this. They have no reservations about this.
All right, other than Wally, but he's coming around.
No one at the UN will care. None of the cops will care.
We aren't that important. This isn't important to anyone other than ourselves. We will generate a few days of gossip and then the attention will move on to someone else and we will become simply a fact and not an attraction.
Rob, love, believe me in this.
I will stay at the townhouse until you are ready to discuss this with me. I am, I'm afraid, too upset by our disagreement to talk with you about this right now, as I must also give my attention to the UN. I cannot do both with any hope of success.
Understand, I don't want us to part. I want our being together to continue and should you decide that marriage is wrong for you or for us, I will accept that.
What I cannot endure is the endless disagreements that will occur should I return to our home before we are ready to make our choice in this.
But, my Robbie, you are the other half of my soul and I know you feel the same.
What else do we need to make that final commitment?
He looked up to see Marcus standing in the doorway, Garth's bag behind him. "I just wanted to say, we--I--hope that you and the Prince can resolve whatever your differences are. He's been so very happy, content since the two of you..."
Dick nodded, "Thanks, we'll be all right. He's at the townhouse now?"
"He will be going to Washington late tonight for some talks with the NATO reps tomorrow, then there's a State Dinner at the White House in the evening that several of us are expected to attend. Some of our musicians are entertaining the guests there. We should be back in two days." Marcus hesitated, as if fearing overstepping the bounds of propriety he adhered to. "Mr. Grayson, if I may. His Highness is a remarkable young man, one our people know we are lucky to have with us. His happiness is something that is important to us. I think that you are a large part of what makes his life as good as he now finds it to be. I would do anything to help preserve that happiness for him. If there is any way in which I might be of any help, please..."
"Marcus, thank you, but I think that we'll be all right. We just both need to make a decision without getting in each other's way." He paused a second. "It'll be all right."
The Atlantean nodded. "His other cel phone is with him, in case you were wondering, sir."
Dick nodded then heard the footsteps echo down the stairs.
He needed to eat something. He hadn't eaten since that Chinese with Garth. He never could keep food down when he was upset about something. He never could, even as a kid. It was just the way stuff affected him.
Shit, Garth was staying at the townhouse.
He started thinking about what would happen if he decided to stay there for good. What if he came home and found that Marcus or someone had taken everything, not just a few things in a suitcase? What if Garth really called it off, really moved out and left him alone.
He had trouble sleeping when Garth was in DC or London or someplace for a few days, what would he do if he knew that it wasn't going to be just a few days but a long time? What would he do if he knew he couldn't touch Garth or kiss him? What if he couldn't eat dinner with him or tell him about his day and hear about what had gone on in the Security Council or at some interview or something?
He started thinking about what it would be like and he got scared because he could picture it all too easily and all too clearly. He could imagine the silence and knowing that no one was coming home other than him. Knowing that the bed would be too big again, just as it had been when Joey had died.
Garth was mad because he was afraid of what people would say if they knew he loved a man.
It wasn't even 'people' he was concerned about; it was strangers who had him hiding.
Garth was right. No one cared. The friends they had told had been happy for them, they had been glad that the two of them had found each other and were in love after they had both lost others and been alone for so long.
The same friends would be happy gain that they were committed enough to marry. They would be glad and smile and would likely dance at the wedding, if they were invited.
As for the rest? Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
The UN probably wouldn't care; they had bigger things to worry about than who one of the reps was in love with. Garth had a solid reputation and it was getting better by the week, no one would bother him.
The BPD might have their noses out of joint for a while, but Garth was right--he liked his work and all that, but he didn't need the job. He was Nightwing, for Chrissake. He could still do his thing and besides, BPD had an open hiring policy, like Garth said. They couldn't do anything without the union or ACT UP or some such getting on their case.
And he loved Garth. God knows, he loved Garth.
He picked up the phone and dialed the cel number. It was answered on the fifth ring.
"Garth? Are you OK?"
"...I miss you. Rob--marry me? Please?"
"Yes. Come home?"