by Simon

Good Evening,

(Didn't that sound sorta Hitchcock?)

This is a little something I was playing with the last couple of days. It occured to me that someone like a Dick Grayson might attract a slightly unstable element once in a while. This is where that thought took me.

No sex in this one...just creepiness.

Enjoy. B

Title: Stalker
Author: Simon
Pairing: D/G
Rating: PG
Archive: sure
Summary: the boys have a little stalking problem
Disclaimers: These guys aren't mine, they don't belong to me, worst luck, so don't bother me.

Feedback: yes.

The apartment was deserted when he opened the door and pushed inside. Quiet. He thought that if he were to say something the place would probably echo.

Damn. He knew that Garth was away for a few days, but the empty rooms brought it home stronger than he would have thought.

No music playing, no TV, no dinner cooking. It was dark, the lights off until he flicked the switch on and the place was cold, too. He had the habit of turning the heat down when he left in the morning. It was an old habit, ingrained by his parents when he was a kid and they had no money. "Heat costs. Don't waste it, and turn off that light if you're not using it." Bruce had always thought that he was being...I don't know--what?...silly? Cheap? Well, something when he would turn off the table lamps in empty rooms and just add another blanket rather than turn up the thermostat.

Even Garth found is somehow endearing that he would cut such small corners when they were both multimillionaires. He didn't care; it was the way he'd been raised. You didn't waste things.

He missed Garth, his friend and his lover. Just that morning he had left for Washington for some negotiations at several of the embassies and some state dinner at the White House. He had asked Dick if he wanted to come along. "As your date? Oh, yeah, that would go over big. Atlantean Ambassador Prince takes his gay lover, the cop, to the White House as his date. The Republicans are in office, man. You really don't care about those treaties, do you?"

Smiling, Garth had agreed that this might not be the time to make that kind of a statement. "OK, but I'll be back by Thursday." Kissing Dick lightly on the mouth and with a small caress to his cheek, he was out the door.

OK, dinner. There must be something in the fridge. A quick look confirmed really a lot of salad stuff and cheese. Damn. Well, ok. Garth was gone for a few; he'd order some Chinese that actually contained meat. A call to Number One Kitchen and his General Tso's with a shrimp roll and pork fried rice was on the way. Great.

Next, a change into old sweats and he sat down to go through the stack of mail he hadn't gotten to in a couple of days. The answering machine was blinking, too. It was always blinking.

There was the usual bunch of junk mail and a few bills. At least the MasterCard was almost under control after Lucius had reamed him last month about it. Jeez, what a pain in the ass. Well, OK, he wouldn't be a noodge this month at least.

There were a few personal letters, a couple of cards and the like. Not much, really--a few magazines and a couple of catalogues. There was a manila envelope, too, one of the big ones, 12 by 18 or something with a BPD return address. Opening it he found a bunch of letters and cards, all addressed to him in the same handwriting. There was a cover note from the Sergeant: "Grayson, you seem to have a fan. These have been coming in for a couple of months now. Deal with it. Sgt. Rohrer"

That was strange.

He started to open the first letter then paused as he looked at the return address. Funny, he didn't recognize it...Emily Hannon from some small town in Connecticut.

Dear Richard,

I hope that you don't mind me calling you that. I like your name.

I almost didn't write this because I don't really know you and I don't want you to think that I'm weird or anything.

I saw you a couple of days ago at the Arena during that Springsteen concert. You were so completely cool with those guys who were trying to get backstage. You could have been really mean to them, but you were nice and just talked to them and they left happy after you got them an autograph.

I asked another cop who you were and he didn't want to tell me, but then I saw your nametag and I saw your precinct number. I hope that you're not mad.

I thought that you look nice.


Well, that was a nice change, a fan letter to Grayson instead of his other half. Cool. He tried to picture who the girl might have been, but couldn't place anyone. Well, still--it was nice that she wrote. He was used to getting letters from strangers, that had been happening since he was a kid, but he usually just turned them over to one of those companies that dealt with fan letters. They would be answered politely and maybe a picture would be sent out. Of course that was when he was Robin and then he had continued the practice as Nightwing. For Grayson to get letters was pretty strange.

He opened the next one on the pile.

Dear Richard,

I saw you when you got to the stationhouse today. You looked tired, like you hadn't slept well and I was worried about you. You look like you're too thin, too. You should eat more.

I could cook you dinner some night, if you would like that. I'm a really good cook.


He should probably open them in order, according to the postmarks. Whatever.

He tore open the next one, a card. A birthday card. Damn, how had she learned that?

It was one of those really flowery ones.

To my honey on his Birthday

I Love you!


On the bottom she had written, in pink ink, no less, "We're almost the same age. You're just two months older than I am. We ARE perfect together!"

Oh, great. This was just what he needed. The doorbell rang, and he jumped. Damn. Getting up he checked through the peephole. The Chinese food. Opening the door, he paid the guy, got a fork out of the kitchen and ate straight out of the container, continuing to read.

Dear Richie, (God, NO ONE called him that)

I saw you leaving the precinct house yesterday and I hope that you won't be mad, but I followed you when you walked up the street to the subway. I tagged along just because I wanted to see where you like to spend your spare time.

I was behind you when you went into that Thai restaurant. At first I was going to go over to your table because you were all alone, just reading a book, but then that other guy showed up and you actually hugged him and he hugged you back. I was really glad to see that you have such a good friend so I didn't bother you.

You were both having a good time telling each other what you had been doing all day and then when the waiter went over to your table and called your friend "Your Excellency" I didn't know what to think!

But he seemed really nice and he seems to like you a lot, so I'm glad that you two are friends.

I was sad for you when your friend's assistant or secretary or whatever he was came in and talked to him and he said he had to go. You were really nice about it, but I could see that you were sad that he was leaving.

I almost went over to your table then, but you got up and left.

I was really worried about you and was going to follow you, but they were slow with my check and by the time I had paid, you were gone and I couldn't find you.

Are you OK?


Cripes, this was getting too strange. He had a Goddamned stalker. Who was this chick? She had been at the Thai place when he'd met Garth about a month ago? That was the night he'd had to leave for a late vote at the UN. That was the night the Under Councilor had come to get him after their dinner break had been called short. Jesus.

He moved on to the next envelope in the pile. Another card. This one was one of those 'just thinking about you' deals.

There was a picture of a sad puppy on the front and inside she had written:

"I woke up this morning and wished that you were here with me.



The next letter, was getting really strange,


I'm so upset that I don't know what to do.

I followed you after work today again. I know you'd be mad if you knew that I do that three or four times a week, but right now I'm so upset that I don't care. I love you and you don't even care that I follow you and I know that you know that I do. Tonight you went over to the UN. OK, I know that friend of yours works there; he's the one everyone at that Thai restaurant was falling all over and calling "Your Excellency" and "Your Highness".

I don't care who he is, he's creepy and he had weird eyes and a funny accent and I don't like him and you shouldn't be with him as much as you are. It's not right.

Anyway, I followed you and I saw you waiting outside for him and I almost went up to you, but you seemed to like just sitting in that patch of sunlight that you'd found and so I didn't bother you. You looked really nice, though. You were wearing a pair of jeans and that black turtleneck that looks so great on you. I know that you wore the turtle because you had hickies on your neck, I could see the edges of them. I was upset about that for a little while, but then I decided that since you didn't know that I love you, I guess that you're not really cheating on me.

Then your friend, that weird guy came out. Your back was turned, so you didn't see him at first, but I saw him looking at you and it was creepy. He looked really happy to see you, he had this really nice smile on his face and he's pretty good looking, but not like you.

He snuck up behind you and put his hands on your shoulders and kissed the back of your neck. I mean really kissed the back of you neck.

I thought that you'd be grossed out, but you just laughed like you liked it and I know that you did that so you wouldn't cause an international incident or something.

God, I thought that I'd throw up right there.

He's a faggot, a queer, a homo, a butt fucker. And he's your friend and that really bothers me.

I know that you probably don't know that part about him, but it just really disgusts me and you shouldn't be around him because he might try something that would be horrible and then you might have to hurt his feelings by turning him down and you'd never hurt anyone's feelings.

I hope that you stay away from him because I'd get really upset if you kept hanging around him.

I know that you're not a queer like he is.

Maybe we can go out together. I'd really like that.


Dick was starting to think that it might be a good idea to run some kind of a check on this... person, see what he could find out about her.

Calling up Oracle, he was relieved when she was, apparently, sitting right in front of the monitor and answered immediately.

"Hey, Barbara?"

"Hey there, sweetie. You lonely without your roommate to keep you company?"

"You don't know the half of it. Look, I need a favor from you, if you've got a minute."

She smiled. God, she was a pretty woman. "For you, always. What do you need, hon?"

"I seem to have a little stalking problem. Could you run a check on this woman and see what you can find?"

She looked concerned for him. "Just feed whatever you have into your scanner and I'll get to work. You OK? Anything else I can do for you?"

"Thanks, but I'll be all right. I've just got a crazy woman following me and I think that she's kinda down on Garth. Seems that she caught us together and seems to think that my virtue is at stake or something. I afraid that she might start hassling him."

"OK, Sweetie. I'll get on it and let you know as soon as I get something." Her end of the screen went dark. Good, that was one ball put into play.

He moved onto the next letter.


I know, you probably think that we don't know each other well enough for that, but that's how I think of you.

I shouldn't tell you this, but sometimes (sometimes? Every night!) I have the most amazing dreams about you. You wouldn't believe the things that we do and then you're really happy after we're finished and you tell me how much you love me and then I wake up and I'm in a good mood all day long.

I saw you the other day down on Broadway; I guess that you were helping with that crowd that had gathered because the President was in town. You looked so handsome in your uniform that I could hardly stand it. I was going to go up to you, but then I saw you check your watch and say something to that other cop and he laughed and you left.

I guess that your shift was over.

I followed you back to the station house and I waited around for you to come out again, but when you did you went right to your motorcycle and I couldn't keep up.

I'm really glad that you don't have another girlfriend, because I'd hate it if you did.

I've been thinking that I'd really like to see where you live. Now, don't get scared. I just want to be able to picture what your bedroom looks like and where you eat you dinner and what the furniture you sit on is like.

That would be OK, wouldn't it? I wouldn't hurt or even touch anything.


Christ. Just what he needed.

He was just about to get himself a beer when the phone rang. Jumping about two feet, he looked at the caller ID, and then picked up.


"Hello, yourself. Hey, is something wrong? You don't sound like you usually do. Is your cold coming back?"

"Nah, I'm fine, you just caught me in the middle of something. My mind was on something else."

"Yeah, mine, too. Washington is boring without you here. The State Dinner was awful. Four hours of small talk with Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld."

Dick was laughing at the mental picture. "I'll bet you charmed them both."

"Of course I did. That's what I get paid to do...seriously, are you all right? You don't sound right. Problems?"

"Nothing important. I'll tell you about it when you get back. You getting enough sleep down there? Are they finding food you'll eat?"

"Dinner was filet mignon. I thought they actually looked at those forms we have to fill out before one of these things. You'd think that they could handle vegetarian. Dinner for me consisted of a salad and a baked potato."

Dick smiled at the picture he was getting. "Come on, you know all the ladies were tripping over each other to get to you, Your Highness, Mr. Ambassador. They want your bod."

"But I want yours." Dick could hear some talk in the background. "Love, I have to go, the staff just arrived for a debriefing. Look, I'm calling this short; we got a lot done today. I should be home around dinner tomorrow."

"Really? That's great. I'll be here."

"I know you will. Sleep well, love. Good night."

"You too, I love you."

Hanging up the phone, Dick felt a combination of happiness and concern. Garth had no idea that this nutcase was mad at him and if he just walked into this, it could get awkward. Damn. OK.

He hit the callback button on the phone and got through to the Atlantean Embassy switchboard. Identifying himself, asking to speak with the Prince, he was put through immediately. He could hear the staff in the background again then Garth came on the line.

"Hey Garth? I'm sorry to interrupt your meeting, but there's a little situation up here that you should know about. It seems that I've a crazy woman stalking me and she knows about you. Be careful, OK?"

"You're serious? You're not kidding? ...OK. Um, do you want me to stay here for a couple of days or stay at the townhouse when I get back?" The Atlantean mission to the UN maintained an brownstone for its staff and any visiting dignitaries.

"No, that's too obvious. Maybe you could stay at a hotel? The Plaza is pretty good."

There was a short pause. "You think she's dangerous?"

"Well, I don't know yet, so I'd rather that you were out of harm's way. You'll do that for me? Please?"

"Whatever you want, you know that. I'll miss you, though."

"God, me too."

"Fine. I'll have the staff make a reservation at the Plaza under the name of...Mr. Wetmore. I'll be there tomorrow evening."

"Good. Thanks, love. You're terrific to do this."

"Yeah, well, you can make it up to me later. Hey, Robbie? Be careful, won't you?"

"Of course, always. 'Night."

Good. He'd be safe there. Back to the letters.


I'm really concerned about you.

I'm so worried and so upset right now that I don't know what to do.

I saw you this morning when you left your apartment (Oh, great, she had his home address) and you came out the door with that weird guy. It was early in the morning and you came out together. You were both laughing and seemed like you were happy, but I know that he made you do things that you don't want to and that really makes me mad.

When he kissed you on the cheek at the bottom of the steps I was so mad that I almost couldn't stand it. It was so sick.

Then he got in a seemed like some kind of official thing with weird flags on the front and DPL plates, and left and then you got on your motorcycle and left to go to work.

Richie, I'm so upset, I can't even tell you.

He's a fag. A FAG! Didn't you get the letter I sent you where I told you that?

He'll want to do all kinds of sick things to you and maybe want you to do them to him, too.

I can't bear to think of that and I know that you'd never do anything like that. If I ever see him do anything like that to you again, I'll make sure that it's the last time he tries it.

The thing that I didn't understand was why you would let him spend the night, and then I realized that you're so nice that you probably didn't want to hurt his feelings by throwing him out.

I've decided that I'm going to find out where he's from and where he works at the UN and report him to his Embassy. That should stop that awful queer.

Don't worry.


God, this was just getting better and better. With a sort of foreboding, he opened the next one, the second to last.


I've found out where that creep works. He's an Ambassador, no less from Atlantis. I knew that they were weird, but this is just disgusting, that they would send a pervert to represent their country and all those strange people who live down there. Mostly he works at the UN, but sometimes he works at their Embassy in Washington.

I also found out that he's even a Prince. That is just so sick. They let people like that get away with anything. Just because he's rich and has some title, he thinks that he can do whatever he wants.

I saw his picture in the paper today. There was an article about him and they were talking about how he's a really good representative and that all the other Ambassadors really like him and think that he's smart and that he has good ideas. They even said that he might be the reason that there won't be any wars between his weirdo country and any of the countries up here on the surface. They said that it's because he's so smart and all the people he works with really respect him.

Well, I sure don't respect him.

I think that he's disgusting and that he probably just hides behind a bunch of fake good manners.

I bet that they sent him up here so that they could get him away from his own country and that he couldn't do disgusting things to the kids down there.

I heard that he even goes to all those diplomatic dinners and stuff and that he's really popular there because he's a little bit shy and doesn't brag about himself or anything.

I don't care. He's still a disgusting queer.

I think that you're really wonderful to still be friends with him after knowing what he is.

I know that you're just trying to help him so that he won't be gay anymore. Maybe if you introduced him to a nice girl, he'd be happy with her.

I have some friends who think that he's handsome and they like that he's rich and a prince.

Let me know if you think that it would help you if he met them.


The intercom on his computer chimed.

"Dick? You there? I've got some stuff on your girlfriend here."

He turned to face the monitor. "Yeah, what did you come up with?"

"Well, it's not good. She a pretty out there young lady. She's 22 years old, lives in Greenwich with her parents. She's a fashion designer, or trying to be one. I haven't found that she has a job now, but she was fired from Calvin Klein about six months ago for obsessing on one of the male models. Evidently, she was making problems for the poor guy."

"Oh, great."

"There are records of her being in a local Psychiatric hospital when she was nineteen. She tried to kill herself after a boyfriend dumped her. She was released after about eighteen months. I gather that she suffered from pretty severe depression and had some drug dependency problems, but that she seems mostly over that end of things."

"What has she been doing since she lost her job?"

"It looks like she went back to school to get a second fashion degree, this time in merchandising. She dropped out about two months ago, though. Never went to class."

"Do you think that she's dangerous or just annoying?"

"I think that she could become a problem for you. Evidently she's also a real homophobe and has a history of harassing gays. There was an arrest, but she plea bargained and it was removed from the record."

"Hell. She's dropped some hints that she'd like to get even with Garth for attempting to lead me down the path to sin and damnation."

"You watch yourself, hon, OK? Maybe get the FBI on it if she's threatening you."

"Yeah, I think that I may have to go that route. I've asked Garth to stay in the city at a hotel so he'll be better protected. He didn't like it, but he's going to do it."

"Babe, he's got all kinds of security around him, don't you worry about him. He's got the UN cops and his own bodyguards from his Embassy, plus his staff would throw themselves in front of cars for him. You know he's OK. You just take care of yourself, you hear me?"

"I'll be fine, Barbara. You know me. I'm always fine."

"Oh, yeah. I forgot. Be careful." She smiled at him, obviously worried about him. They'd been good friends for years.

"I will, don't worry. Night, and thanks."

Well, just terrific. He had a crazy lady after him and threatening Garth. Hell and damnation. Getting up, he headed into the kitchen to get himself a beer. That was another thing that Garth would never touch. He just never liked to drink alcohol. He said that it had something to do with the way his body processed the stuff--made him really sick. Oh well, usually he'd skip the stuff so that Garth wouldn't feel bad, but screw it tonight. Popping the lid on a Heineken, he sat back down.

OK, let's see what fun and games the last letter had.

Dear Richie,

I'm really, really upset with the way you've been ignoring me. I mean, I've been writing you for months now and you don't even answer. I thought that you were nicer than that.

I think that you've been spending too much time with your fag friend and I think that you should stop now because it makes you do things that aren't like you at all.

I know that you're better than that and I wish that you'd just stop pretending that you don't like me and that we've never met and that you don't even know me.

I'm getting mad at you for acting like this and I think that it's because of Prince Queer that you're not being as nice as you used to be.

I went to the UN and talk to that creep but when I got there they said that I had to have an appointment to see him and even though they were nice about it, they wouldn't let me in to see him. I was leaving when he came out of the door to some office and I started to say something, but one of the secretaries went over to him and told him that I was there. He looked over at me--God, he has the creepiest eyes--and smiled at me and then he walked over to me and shook my hand.

He had a really quiet voice and he has a funny accent, but he said that he was busy that day, but maybe I could come back again. I lied and said that I wanted to interview him for my school paper and that I was only in New York for a couple of days so I couldn't come back.

He turned to the secretary who had told him about me and asked if he had any time and she shook her head. He just looked at her and she said, "Oh, I guess if you take a short lunch you could give her fifteen minutes." So he asked if I could come back at one and I said OK.

At one I got to go into his office. I was surprised that he would be so nice about making time for me and he apologized about eating a salad at his desk and asked if I wanted some. I didn't. I was surprised that he was wearing a pair of jeans and a really nice sweater. He said that if he didn't have to give a speech or something, he liked to be comfortable and he gets cold easily, so he likes to wear sweaters.

I made up a bunch of questions to ask him, like I was interviewing him. I asked some really personal questions.

I asked him if he was married, and he said no. Then I asked him if he had a girlfriend and he said that he lived with someone, but that it was personal and he didn't talk about things like that.

God. It was disgusting. He didn't say that he lived with a man and that he likes butt fucking.

I even asked him if he was in love with the person he lived with and he just said, "Of course, very much."

Then I asked him if the person he lives with knows that he's a prince and he laughed and said that of course the person knew, but they had known each other since they were kids and it didn't make any difference one way or another to either of them.

I was getting creeped out because I sort of caught myself. I was starting to think that he was like a nice guy and I know that he's a disgusting pervert.

I can see how someone like him would trick you into thinking that what he's doing is OK. He's slick, he's like one of those salesmen who can sell you anything and then they take your money and leave town. I don't care if he's got the whole stupid UN fooled.

He's a faggot creep and you shouldn't be anywhere near him and I'm going to stop what he's doing to you.


Holy crap. She had issued a threat. Well, good. Now he could get the local cops or the FBI to stop her.

Man, he didn't need this. He didn't need the hassle or the distraction and neither did Garth. Damnit.

OK. Tomorrow he would report all this shit to the precinct and they could begin to deal with it. At least they would be aware that the situation existed and would be prepared if Emily happened by or something.

After putting the letters back into the manila envelope he went into the bathroom, stripped down, took a quick shower and hit the sack. As he was drifting off, alone, he started thinking of the showers he would share with Garth, nothing short about them in the least. Well, he'd be back soon. Maybe he could go on up to New York and do the weekend at the Plaza thing. Maybe they could both take off and hit the Manor or something. Bruce had said something about having to go to Europe for a couple of weeks.

A weekend away, just the two of them. That would be nice. Real nice.

The next morning, as he was walking down the stairs, Clancy stopped him.

"Did that girl ever get a hold of you, then?"

"Girl?" Shit.

"Aye, the one who said that she was your girlfriend. I knew that to be a lie, so I sent her packin. She was here til about one in the morning before I ran her off, y'know."

"Hey, keep an eye out for her, will you?"

"She a problem for you boyos, then is she?"

Not wanting to give too much away, he just shrugged. "Yeah, sorta. Thanks, Clance."

Thank God it was Friday and he'd not been given any patrols over the weekend. Two days off. The shift went by quickly, nothing out of the ordinary. There were a few traffic tickets and a hold up suspect that he helped chase down. No big deal. He caught a quick shower at the station, changed into civvies and hit the road up to New York. Garth should be checking into the Plaza about now. He could surprise him.

Parking the bike at one of the mid town garages, he crossed over to the hotel and walked up to the desk.

"Has Mr. Wetmore checked in yet?"

"Forgive me, sir, but whom may I say is asking for him?"

"Richard Grayson." The desk guy checked the monitor on his desk. Evidently he found what he was looking for.

"Yes sir, of course. If you don't mind, one of our security officers will escort you up."

Dick nodded as if he expected nothing less. Shit, something must have happened to have them beef up the guard this much.

When they got to the suite they were met by another guard stationed at the door who checked his ID again. Satisfied, he knocked once on the door. It was opened after a few seconds by one of the Embassy assistants and Dick finally saw Garth standing over by the window.

Turning when he heard the door close, he smiled at his lover. "Robbie." With a gesture he led Dick to the bedroom, closing the door behind them. They embraced, kissed a greeting then Dick pulled slightly away.

"You've been threatened, haven't you?"

Garth sat on the edge of the bed. "You haven't heard?"

"Garth?" Dick saw that his color was heightened and he seemed more upset that he'd ever seen his lover. God, Dick had never seen him distraught. Even when Tula had been killed, he had kept in inside, he'd internalized it all. This time he was close to tears.

"That woman, Emily Hannon? She broke into the office at the UN, looking for me. I was still in DC, it was early this morning. She didn't believe them when they told her that I wasn't there. She thought that they were trying to protect me or something. She pulled out a gun and started shooting. She killed two of the secretaries and the Under Councilor before she was overpowered. The guards, the UN guards shot her. She was Dead on the Scene. One of the secretaries was pregnant."

"Oh, Jesus, Garth. I'm sorry..." Dick knelt in front of him on the floor, taking his hands in his own, kissing them, stroking the fingers and the flesh on the backs. Their foreheads leaned against one another, drawing some support and comfort from the contact.

"She was yelling something about 'Goddamned faggots'".

Dick's arms went around his lover, trying to shield him from the pain, the loss. "We're not doing anything wrong. You know that. We both know that. She was sick. It wasn't us, it was her."

"But they're still dead." Garth rested his head on Dicks shoulder. "I had to read the usual statement know, the one about 'this terrible tragedy.' The funerals will be later this week." He shifted slightly. "The thing about the faggots is being kept quiet. It won't make the press."

"God. I'm so sorry. We'll get through this. We will. It will be all right. We'll put it behind us."

"When?" Garth was looking at him. After a moment of strained silence he continued. "I'm sorry. I have to go talk to the families, but will you stay here and we can sleep when I get back? Please? I don't want to be alone."

"You know that I will." Nodding, Garth stood up putting on his suit jacket. With a single glance back, he walked out, all business. He had become The Ambassador Prince again.

Two hours later Dick was sitting, lost in thought, his face turned to look out the windows overlooking Central Park, if he had bothered to focus. One of the assistants quietly approached him.

"Mr. Grayson, would you like anything? Can I get you something?"

"No, thank you, Marcus"

"It's good of you to come here tonight to be with his Highness. He needs someone who he can--talk with."

"He has all of you, if he wanted to, he could talk to any of you."

"No, sir. He cannot. He is a Prince. Princes do not unburden themselves to commoners. It would be unseemly. If you'll forgive my saying so, that is why you are so highly regarded by us."

Dick looked at the man. "What do you mean?"

"The Prince is important to us and to our nation. He is the only one who can do the work he does. Without his abilities, the negotiations would not go as smoothly as they do. Beyond that--he is greatly loved. He is loved for himself. You allow him to function as he does, you allow him the respite that he needs and you give him the love that we cannot. He can talk with you as he does no one else."


"Today's tragedy is an example. A mad woman killed because she thought she loved you. With the lives you both lead, things like this are almost inevitable. You allow him to continue and to overcome such things, not just as an ambassador, but also as a whole person. You give him that and we are in your debt."

"He is a good man. He is easy to love. Marcus, do any of you have any--reservations about the...nature of our relationship?"

"Of course not. We understand what a rare thing love is. We value it in any form, so long as it exists to give no pain."

"Does he know this, what you just told me?"

"I've never discussed it with him, but I'm sure that he does."

Dick smiled slightly. "I knew you were intelligent people." Marcus smiled in return.

A few minutes later Garth returned, drained, exhausted and needing to shower and sleep. Dick joined him in both and as they were settling naked together in the large bed, spooned, Dick surrounding his lover and holding him close and safe Garth spoke softly.

"I love you, Rob, more than I can have you understand. You are what grounds me."

"And I you. You are the one who makes me complete."

In the end, they would be all right.




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