title: Consequences
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Bruce, Dick, Tim, Barbara
rating: Teen
warnings: lots of UST. lots.
summary: Being a vigilante means the morning after is always worse than the night before.
notes: this falls squarely in the animated series. this is a reaction to the last ish of the gotham adventures comics, 'choices'. i don't know how many people on the list are reading this book, but i highly recommend the last issue, as it so rocks. a really good look into the dynamics of batman-robin-nightwing. yummy! i don't think you need to have read that to enjoy this, but if so, sorry!!

1, 2, 3, listen, start compressions.

1, 2, 3, listen, start compressions.

Why did he just leave like that?

1, 2, 3, listen, start compressions.

Tim's hair was in his eyes, the sweat on the tips of each strand blurring his vision. Or was that the tears? It felt like he'd been doing this forever, his arms were starting to ache.

How could he leave like that?

1, 2, 3, listen, start compressions.

1, 2, 3, listen, start compressions.

This was Nightwing.

1, 2, 3...

Dick's body convulsed slightly, and he sputtered as he sucked air into his lungs.

Tim's heart nearly stopped.

Of course, that only meant that his heart was beating. He still had taken quite a lot of electricity to his body. Tim kept monitoring his vitals while he waited for Barb, wondering where the hell she could be.

This was Nightwing.





He felt his knuckles collide with some guys jaw. His whole body was screaming at him to just stop already.

He couldn't believe that Dick was lecturing him now.

What was he saying? He was asking what his life was worth?

Tim kicked out, knocking one guy into the guy behind him, giving the Boy Wonder enough room to maneuver as he spun to kick the next guy.

How much was his life worth? Depended on who you asked, apparently.

Batman hadn't even looked back when he left Dick in the street with no vitals.

Still...

When the dust settled, Two-Face was on the run again, so Batman was already off chasing him. Leaving Nightwing, huffing and puffing and sweating like can of Zesti in New Orleans in July, Batgirl, and Robin to round up the goons and get the hostages settled and calmed.

Tim gently lead Dick back out to the car to wait while he and Barb took care of the details.

What was his life worth? Depended on who you asked, Tim decided. But it was chilling to realize that Dick didn't value his own life as dearly as Tim did.





Dick sighed as he got off his bike. Last night, he had just come home and crashed. He really couldn't remember the last time he'd slept so soundly or so long.

'Probably the last time I was nearly killed,' his inner voice supplied.

He had worked for nearly an hour at working up the strength to get out of bed and pour himself a bowl of Frostie Flakes. Only to discover that there was no milk.

He'd eaten dry flakes before, but dammit, he wanted chocolate milk. He'd sat in bed for a half an hour picturing chocolate milk. He was gonna have a bowl of cereal and some chocolate milk. That was the plan.

No milk, though.

So, he pulled on some sweatpants, a tank, and some Tevas. Figuring that as long as he wasn't breaking any public indecency laws, he was properly attired, he went out on the Mythic Quest for Milk.

He just wanted to fall into bed again.

Just as he was pulling out his keys, he noticed the figure sitting by the door. Expecting Barb, or possibly Alfred, he nearly did a double take when he saw Tim.

"Hey. Hope you don't mind, I, uh, wanted to check on you." The teen was getting up and smiling shyly.

Dick handed him the gallon of milk and grinned. "No prob. It's good to see you actually. I don't think that I thanked you last night."

"Oh, you don't have to..."

Dick stopped him by putting his hand on Tim's chest, covering his heart. "Yeah, Tim, I do. Thanks, for being there, for keeping your cool, for saving my life. I mean it."

Dick did not let up on the eye contact the whole time he said that, nor did his hand move off of Tim's heart. Tim was sure that Dick could feel his heart pounding with each word.

"I... anytime, man. And by that, I mean, don't ever do that to me again."

Dick grinned that quirky grin. "No promises."

Tim closed the door behind them, automatically flipping the lock. Dick was going to the kitchen, but instead of his usual grace and speed, he was nearly loafing his way up to the higher landing. Tim took a deep breath.

"Look... Um, about that stuff with the fight... And Batman..."

"Tim. You want some flakes? Chocolate milk? Ok, look, I'm sorry for lecturing you during a fight and right after you saved me, but you can't get mad over stuff like that. Batman did what he had to do. You did what you had to do. I did what I had to do. No apologies, and no regrets."

Tim leaned against the counter, his face bending down to meet his hands. "Yeah, I know. But... It was you. He left you behind."

"And he would have done the same thing if it was you, and I had been there to take care of you."

"But... It just seems, I dunno. Cold. Maybe your life isn't more important than any of those other people's, and maybe you did choose and they didn't. But he didn't even look back."

"He didn't have to. You were there."

"But... You! I mean, I... I don't think I could have done it. I don't think I could ever leave someone I cared about behind, even if it was to get the bad guy."

"You will, sometime." Dick's voice was low and soft. "Someday, you'll have to, and it will kill a part of you. But if you didn't, you would never be able to live with the consequences of your choice."

"Consequences," Tim echoed. His eyes drifted off to the side, his mind wandering. "There are consequences, whichever choice you make. Stay, or go, there are repercussions. Do you honestly mean to say that you aren't the slightest bit angry, or hurt?"

Dick turned to put the bowl in the sink. "I don't blame him, Tim."

"But... And I'm not saying that he did the wrong thing. Maybe there isn't a right thing, but..."

"Tim... It's not a simple world. Sometimes, we have to make choices that hurt, just to avoid choices that kill."

"He didn't even ask about you when he radioed in."

"He was busy fighting 30 guys and trying to save two hostages."

"He expected you to fight."

"I did fight."

Tim looked away, squeezing his eyes shut. He let the air out of his lungs in broken shudders. "Do you ever get tired of not saying the things that you mean? Do you ever get tired of all this... subtext?"

Dick pulled back a little, not sure what Tim meant.

"Do you ever just want to say it, maybe if you said it, it wouldn't put so much pressure on you all the time." Tim stood up straight and looked Dick right in the eye. "Doesn't he love you?"

Dick flinched. "O..Of course, he does, he loves me, and you, and Barb..."

"No! Dammit, Dick, how can you be so calm about all of this, you could've died last night, and he just walked away. He didn't look back, he never checked on you. If he can't stop for you, then for what? If he's not willing to let someone go for you, then for what? What is it all for?"

"Tim... It's because he cares for me..."

"No!! Not cares, he doesn't feel for you what he feels for me and Barb, Dick! He lo-"

Dick moved faster than even he thought he could at that moment. Putting his hand over Tim's mouth, he stopped the words.

Taking several deep breaths, he just held Tim's face for a minute. "Tim... I think you'll find that it's a helluva lot easier not saying things."

Gently, he released Tim's face, and they were left standing there, side by side.

Injured.

Tim looked down first. "I guess... he did the right thing. He just didn't do it the right way. It sucks, what he did last night."

Dick put his finger on Tim's chin, not lifting his face, but just holding it there. "You have to forgive him, Tim. He's not perfect. He's just a man."

"Do you forgive him, Dick? Really?"

Dick's hand fell from Tim's face. Looking away, Dick pulled himself together, feeling more tired now than he did last night. "Yeah."





Barb watched Bruce drag himself out of the training salle, after having spent the past three hours punishing himself with a workout that would have made Superman sweat bullets.

It was hard to stay mad at the man.

But that didn't mean that there weren't things to be said.

"Tough workout."

"Hm."

"Not as brutal as last night, though." Bruce's body went stiff for a second. "You must have pinned Two-Face down, what? Five times? At least he's back in Arkham where he belongs, huh?"

Bruce just toweled off his head.

Sighing silently, Barb continued. "If you were beating yourself up over what happened with Dick, you can just stop. He's not mad at you."

Bruce turned toward her fractionally, before muttering under his breath, "I think that's the worst part."

"Hm? Wow, I must totally spend too much time with you, because I understood most of that!" Grinning, she didn't let up. "Bruce. C'mon. After Dick left... When it was just you and me patrolling the city, I thought we became... well, friends."

His eyes met hers. "We did," he said so softly she barely heard.

"As your friend, then, listen to me. Dick understands. He would have done exactly the same thing."

Bruce looked away. "And he would have felt the same way afterwards."

Barb just looked at her shoes. That was undeniably true. Hell, Dick probably would have felt worse. She watched the man she considered to be her mentor, carefully examining his posture and pose.

She knew why it hurt so much. She knew that she could never have done it. With Nightwing down, she would have been by his side. She would have let Two-Face go.

And she would have lived with the consequences, too, because she was a cop's daughter, not a superhero's daughter. She knew you couldn't win them all, couldn't win most of them, even, had to settle for what you could do.

Bruce would never understand that. Dick might not, either, for that matter.

She had been there before, when the three of them were playing at being happy together: father, son, and fiancee.

It had been a mask.

She had been there during the miserable time when Dick Grayson hadn't been a part of Bruce Wayne's life. And she had seen him when Dick had come back.

No one can be a boy wonder forever, and sometimes that was a really good thing.

She had been there last night, too, when Bruce had gotten back in. Actually, she had been there this morning when Batman got back in, since it was dawn when he came home. Alfred was in the kitchen, and Tim was still sleeping, Dick had insisted on going home.

So she was the only one who knew that Bruce had come back from being out all night in the rain looking like he'd been crying all night.

He hadn't been, obviously, because he was the Bat, but he looked it.

The fact that he was soaked through his kevlar from the rain certainly didn't help anything.

There were a million things to say, about love and understanding. About how his feelings were returned.

About forgiveness.

Words slushed through her like rain through a gutter in a storm. She couldn't say any of them.

"Tim is falling in love with Dick, you know." It wasn't something that she had ever intended to tell Bruce, but it was easier than any other alternative.

Bruce just turned the corners of his mouth up minutely. "Everyone falls in love with Dick." He almost sounded bitter, but in a wondering kind of way.

She folded her arms across her chest, feeling cold. "Well... I don't know if Dick knows. I mean, sometimes it's so obvious, I can't believe he doesn't. But, this is Dick we're talking about... Naturally, Tim is way too young at this point, I mean, there's nothing to worry about, Dick would never... Maybe, in a few years... But they're just friends now." She cleared her throat. "Anyway, I don't think that Tim was really mad at you, last night, I think it was just the situation. Because it was Nightwing, you know. He was just scared, really. He doesn't really blame you."

She wasn't looking at him. She couldn't.

Bruce examined her.

Shaking his head, he spoke clearly. "Yes he does. And he's right. There wasn't anything else I could do, but he's right."

She held her mouth firm, trying to find the appropriate thing among all the things that couldn't be said. "It was just as hard for you, to leave him behind, as it was for Tim, to watch you go. He just doesn't understand that, yet. He doesn't understand your relationship with Dick, yet. And he wasn't right. He was just scared. We all were."

Bruce heaved himself up, to head to the showers. He met Barb's eyes. "I don't understand my relationship with Dick. But if he had died last night..."

"We would be planning a funeral today." She spoke fast, not flinching from his glared for a second.

After a moment, he turned and went to shower.





Dick had expected Bruce a lot sooner than when he actually came, but he didn't expect him to ring the bell and come in the front door. But that was the Bat for you, always keeping you on your toes...

"You look as beat up as me." Levity was always a waste of time, but that was part of what made it so much fun.

Bruce scowled, and offered Dick some soup. "Alfred was going to come with, but... he had to help Tim with a term paper he'd forgotten was due tomorrow."

Dick took the tupperware, and let Bruce in. "Want some? Alfred always manages to pack more into these things than any human can consume."

"No, I'm not hungry."

"C'mon. Share soup with me." Dick looked at Bruce over his shoulder as he spoke.

Bruce relented.

Watching Dick eat soup was always one of Bruce's favorite things to do. It was these little reminders of the boy he used to be that was so inviting and unnerving about the man he had become. He still ate soup by bending over the bowl, blowing on each spoonful, and gingerly tasting the soup with puckered lips, as if any spoonful could potentially be the one to scald him.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize. It's the job."

"I am sorry."

"I know."

Silence wasn't really silence in the city. Dick's apartment was far from any high traffic zones, and certainly was well insulated, but there was still the hum of life outside.

It was oddly soothing, much more relaxing than the whistling quiet of the cave.

"I had to..."

"I know, Bruce. Please, unless you are going to apologize for being Batman and saving people's lives and making this city a better place for everyone to live in, don't."

Bruce just sat back.

After cautiously downing several more threatening spoonfuls, Dick sat back sighing. "Things never really change, do they?"

Bruce looked at Dick, surprised. "Some things seem to change a lot."

"But they stay the same, even through all the change."

Bruce just had to half-grin, relaxing. Leave it to Dick to state a paradox like he was explaining how to use a toothpick.

"Stop tormenting yourself." Dick paused, watching Bruce. "It's hardly the worst thing you ever did to me."

Bruce actually laughed, a single burst that was totally spontaneous. "That's supposed to make me feel better, right?"

"Doesn't it?" Dick looked up at him innocently, that sardonic grin Bruce identified as Dick's toying with his lips.

Bruce smiled, shaking his head and looking down. Getting up, he went over to Dick. He was pale, and tired. His blue eyes were less vibrant than normal, and his lithe and powerful body seemed drooped. Putting his hand on Dick's face, letting his fingers touch his dark hair, Bruce looked down on Dick soaking in the fact that he was alive. "Are you all right?"

Dick smiled, bring his hands up to hold Bruce's hand against his face. "Yeah."

Bruce leaned down, and gently kissed Dick on the top of his head. "Are you all right?" His voice was getting hoarse.

Dick turned his face and kissed the palm of the hand against him. "Yeah."

"Ok." Bruce pulled Dick up into a hug, and then lead him back to bed. Settling him into the covers, he pulled the tie out of Dick's hair and let the long dark strands fall free. He ran his fingers through the hair, and in his mind his hand traveled further. Down the head, and down the back, the smooth, hard muscles quivering under his touch. Back up to caress the arms, and rub his thumb against the jugular. Back down again, to slide underneath the pajamas and underwear...

"Are you all right?" Bruce's voice was barely there.

Dick looked up at him, completely enthralled by the expression on his face. "Yeah."

Bruce nodded, and got up to leave. He turned the light out on his way out, but before he closed the door, he spoke again, his heart thudding against his chest so hard that the words almost got trapped in his throat. "Take care of yourself, Dick."

"You, too, Bruce."

Bruce left through the front door, blaming his ill-ease on the fact that he was more used to using the window.








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