title: The Demon's Lover: Fire and Brimstone
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick/Jason, Bruce, Tim, Alfred, Barbara, Leslie
rating: Teen
warnings: major angst
summary: Nightwing encounters Etrigan.
notes: this is the final installment of a three parter. this is also firmly in the animated series, as i've seen all the jason blood eps in the animated series, and can therefore feel comfortable writing him. as if that ever stopped me before... and if it helps anyone, just a reminder... in the batman ep with jason blood, billy zane was the voice of jason blood. rrar! and again, in this uni, Bruce and Dick have the animated series canon relationship. i won't call that father/son, but... ^_~
big hugs and snuggles to my bestest best friend (who daylights as nurse ratchet) who helped with some parts. ^_^

His ears were surrounded by the sound of his labored breathing. Each intake burned. His whole body heaved with the effort to keep bringing oxygen into his body.

"I think it's time for you to go now." It hurt to speak. He weakly held one escrima stick in front of him, defensively.

The demon snarled, narrowing one eye.

Nightwing pulled himself up against the wall, trying his best to look as if he hadn't just been fighting for his life. "Playtime's over, in case you hadn't noticed. It's time for you to go back in the box, and let Jason come back out." His voice only trembled a little at the end.

Etrigan took one deliberate step forward, and then another, until he was directly in front of Nightwing. He flicked away the escrima stick with slight irritation. Placing one hand on either side of Nightwing's shoulders, he lowered his head, leaning in closely, so that his nose and mouth were very, very close to Nightwing. Snuffling loudly, he made a noise that was somewhere between a growl and a sigh. Speaking gruffly, "Jason's had his time with you.

"Now it's my turn."





Batman griped the steering wheel of the batmobile until his knuckles hurt from the effort of squeezing. He roared down the alleys and back roads, automatically piloting around the corners and obstacles as he pressed the accelerator to the ground.

He should have been there. He should have been able to stop him, he should have been able to help... The Riddler had taken up too damn much of his time tonight, time he clearly didn't have to spare. He had only gotten the initial message; when he had tried to contact Alfred to get an update, he found that everyone had gone down to the clinic to wait.

He ground his teeth, careening wildly around a corner. Dick should never have been with Jason, of all people. He had tried to warn the young man, but he had clearly not done enough. He should have forbidden Dick to see that monster any more; Dick might not have liked him for it, but he would have been better off.

He wouldn't be in a hospital right now.

He didn't remember parking the batmobile in Leslie's protected underground lot, or getting from the car to the waiting room in the private floor of the clinic. He simply found himself in the middle of the too pale room, standing with his arms against his sides and his face straight ahead, to the pair of doors leading to the treatment and surgery centers.

Barbara was sitting, still in her Batgirl costume, but with her cowl removed. Her eyes were red, and her face was sickly white, and she looked like she wanted to stand up, but couldn't. Tim was in full costume next to her, and he jumped to his feet as soon as he saw Batman. He looked like he desperately wanted to be somewhere, anywhere, but where he was. Alfred stood up, dignified, and stood to Batman's left, in front of him, but turned slightly. His eyes were on the ground. He looked like he had been awake for weeks.

Jason Blood was in the corner, looking stricken, and ghostly pale, but Batman didn't waste even his peripheral attention on him. Yet.

"Condition?" Batman barely managed to grind the word out from behind his teeth.

Alfred cleared his throat, forestalling the need for Barbara or Tim to speak. "He was brought in about an hour and a half ago. Leslie handled the trauma herself, while I hurried to arrive here with all due dispatch, to assist her. We treated his wounds, and started an IV to stabilize his pressure. Leslie performed a diagnostic lavage, and found significant internal bleeding. His left leg was... bitten, and crushed. As soon as we had him reasonably stable, Leslie took him into surgery, with three of her most trusted residents. His identity is completely secured. However..." Alfred paused, his eyes still lowered, but his voice was cracking in a way that made Bruce's blood shiver. "His wounds were extensive. He lost a great deal of blood, and internal damage was..."

The room was as silent as a crypt, the very thought of which made Bruce's skin peel and crack with panicked anxiety. He balled his hands into fists, his eyes narrowing as he turned to the man in the corner. He only advanced two steps before growling, "What happened?"

Jason shook with the force of the words. "Bruce..."

"What. Happened." Batman had to grind each word from between his teeth, his hands clenched so tightly his gloves verged on splitting.

Jason swallowed several times before opening his mouth to speak, though no words surfaced for several moments. "We... I followed him on his patrol, I was nervous, he was going after a drug cartel's shipment, and he seemed so... carefree... I... I was worried... There was a fight, and there were so many more of them, they were armed... I... I think I panicked... I wanted to help him, but I guess... I guess... the demon perceived peril to him as a dire threat, and..." Jason closed his eyes, rocking gently in his chair as he spoke. "I tried to call him back, but..." His voice weakened until it died.

"You knew!" Batman snarled. "You knew all along! You could have prevented this if you weren't so weak!"

"Bruce, I..."

Batman was suddenly in Jason's face, taking a hold of his shirt to lift him up and hold him against the wall. "I don't want to hear it! If he dies... If he is maimed..." His voice dropped a register, his face now millimeters from Jason's. "You will find that demon to be a blessing compared to the punishment I will take out on you."

Batman turned his back to Jason, and went to stand on the wall, watching the door to the surgical center, his cape closed around him so that he was completely sheathed behind the bat.

It was a tense few hours of waiting.

Batman did not move a muscle in all that time. Barbara fidgeted, getting up to pace or go to the washroom or get a drink from the machine. Tim had his arms wrapped around his legs, and he mostly just kept his forehead on his knees. Occasionally, Alfred would put a hand on his shoulder and they would speak quietly. Otherwise, Alfred kept his elbows on his knees, and he silently prayed with his head bent down.

Jason stayed in the corner, hating himself.

When the door to the surgical center opened, it was like the room had been shattered.

Batman stepped out to the middle of the room so that he was right in front of Leslie as she removed her surgical cap. She appeared about fifty years older than she was, her skin pasty and pale, and her eyes drooped and tired. She sighed before she spoke, and everyone held their collective breath.

Leslie spoke to Bruce, her eyes fixed on the eyes of his cowl, her lips twisted with slight disapproval for his mask. The others crowded respectfully behind Batman so that they could see Leslie, except for Jason, who was sitting on the edge of his seat in the corner.

"He's stable." A sigh of relief was let out by everyone, except Batman. "He suffered numerous lacerations, abrasions, and contusions, and he lost... he lost a lot of blood. We were able to treat his wounds, but he needed surgery for his internal injuries. He broke three ribs, and his lower right lobe of his lung was badly punctured. He was hemorrhaging internally. We had to remove his spleen. Also, his left kidney was lacerated; we patched that up. He has come out of surgery well, but it will probably be several hours before he wakes up."

Batman could taste her hesitancy. "And?"

Leslie hung her head down, her body seeming to shake. "There... there was so much damage, Bruce. It was like... he had been mauled by a pack of bears. His body was... was torn up, and bruised everywhere."

"Everywhere?" There was a sharp blade to Batman's voice, which brought Leslie's eyes up.

"There is practically no square inch of his skin left untouched. There is so much internal damage... and, there is a... There is a lot of damage to his left leg as well." Leslie shook her head slowly as she spoke, trying to deny what she knew all too well. "He... It looked like he had been, well, bitten, by a large animal. The area of the bite was... crushed. His femur was just... dust. The damage was... there is acute compartment syndrome... We did what we could, but... there has been a great deal of vascular damage, possibly some neurological damage, and it is not clear at this point whether or not we will be able to save the leg."

Barbara gasped, and Tim made a small noise that was indecipherable to any.

Bruce's voice was a blend of horror and disbelief. His feet separated, to provide him a firmer grounding. "Save..." Bruce's arms spread out, opening his cape widely.

"We will have to wait and see. He has had enough trauma for tonight, anyway." Leslie nodded, reassuring Bruce helplessly.

"Wait and see? What does that mean?" Bruce's eyes narrowed, sharpening.

Leslie seemed very sad at this point. "We may have to amputate."

Bruce heard someone cry 'no!,' but he couldn't discern who said it because for a moment the gravitational pull of the earth fluctuated, and he had trouble maintaining his balance through the disturbance.

"But Leslie," he reasoned, "if he lost his leg... he would never fly again."

Leslie felt like crying, swallowing hard to keep the lump in her throat down. She spoke, her voice dropping a register so she could keep it steady. "Bruce, don't count him out. We need to take our time. But if we do need to amputate... and I fear that we will have to... He is strong, Bruce. He has always adapted beautifully. Better than you, I might add. So don't give up. He'll need your strength."

"But..." Bruce wondered when he had eaten last. He seemed to be exhibiting symptoms of low blood sugar. He was surprised to find that Alfred's hand at his back.

He looked blankly from his oldest friend, to Leslie, and then to Tim and Barbara. Everyone looked so distraught. He felt a weird tickling in his chest, and behind his eyes.

His hand balled up into a fist. He had to push these weaknesses away, and focus on what he could do to make things better. A low growl began in his lower chest, and he turned to the corner where Jason was situated. "Blood!"

But Jason was gone, without a trace.





Bruce stood by the medical bed, feeling out of place. Alfred had taken Tim home, to get some rest, a shower, change, and eat. Barbara had gone home, too, but since she lived in town, she promised to be back as soon as she washed her hair and got dressed in civvies. Leslie went to her office, to wash up and get some rest. She had a small apartment in her office, for times when she had a critical patient she didn't want to leave.

Bruce had changed into scrubs, and found his way to Dick's bedside by himself.

It didn't even look like Dick on that bed; so much of his body was covered in bandages, and his skin was mottled with dark, vicious bruises. The skin under his eyes was purplish. It was dark, the only light being from a fluorescent lamp over a small desk near the door. The instruments surrounding the bed emitted regular beeps and whines, all small noises that seemed to fill the room ominously.

Bruce desperately wanted to take Dick away from here, take him home, put him in his bed where he belonged, and make all of this just go away.

Bruce felt a small ache in the small of his back, alerting him that he was standing too rigidly. But it was hard to figure out what he was supposed to do here. There was a chair beside the bed, but to actually sit down in it, and just wait...

Bruce stood instead. He inched closer to the bed, his hands still in fists by his side. He took no satisfaction from the fantasy of ripping Jason to shreds, or of watching Etrigan burn in hell. Instead, his mind kept supplying him with a picture of Dick with a prosthetic limb, learning how to walk again, learning to how to do many things again as he recuperated from his injuries.

Bruce's fingernails dug into his flesh as he thought about it. And why? Why had this happened? Because of sex? Because of attraction? Hormones?

Why had Jason allowed this to happen, any of this? Why had he, after centuries, decided to throw away all sense and reason and let his dick make his choices? Why had he exposed Dick to the demon?

Why hadn't Dick listened to him when he warned the young man about the demon?

Why hadn't he been able to make Dick listen?

With a defeated thud, Bruce sat sharply down in the chair, his chest uncomfortably tight and his throat nearly closed with emotion. He kept his hands tightly clasped together, the effort of holding them still enough to make his arms shake. He watched Dick's chest move slowly, and he clenched his teeth together.

This was not something he had ever prepared himself to face.





Barbara paced the waiting room slowly. Bruce was still in with Dick, and as much as she knew it would probably be better if she sat with him, she found that she couldn't.

She didn't know what was more shameful - that she couldn't bear to look at Dick like that, or that she didn't want to be alone with Bruce right now. Both were pretty lousy things to keep her from being a friend to them.

When Alfred got back, it would be easier. She could be helpful, talk to Tim and keep their spirits up. She could get coffee and bagels for everyone. She could be compassionate to Bruce if there were other people around to act as a buffer.

Even still, seeing Dick on that bed, covered in bandages and maybe going to lose his leg...

She had already been sick in her apartment. She had concentrated on getting home, but once there, the thoughts consumed her, and she found herself on her knees in the bathroom. Dick Grayson, the most amazing person she knew... He was always so vibrant, even now, since he'd returned from his... sabbatical, and he was always so self-reliant... He was the one that never gave up, never settled, never let anyone down...

He was the only one who understood Bruce, really understood him. He was the one that could always get through to Tim. He was the one...

He was the one she loved, with all her heart and soul, no matter how often she tried to deny it.

She sat down heavily in a chair, her face falling into her hands. She had loved Dick so much, and when she had found out he was Robin, it only made her love him more completely. But...

He certainly hadn't felt that way about finding out she was Batgirl. Still, she had never doubted that he would come back. She hadn't expected it to take two years, but she never doubted all the same.

When he had come back, she realized that things weren't the same. She knew that he had changed. Truth be told, so had she. That wasn't a problem. She knew it would take time; they would have to get to know each other again, and they would have to come to terms with their past.

Still. She had never doubted. They would find their way back together again. Batgirl and Robin... It was like destiny.

It wasn't the thought of Dick crippled that had her heaving into her toilet two hours ago. It had been the thought of Dick in the arms of another man, making love to another man... Of having another man inside of him...

She couldn't compete with that. She didn't even want to.

She hoped that Alfred would be coming soon. She was tired of being alone.

When she heard the footsteps in the hall, she heaved a sigh of relief, certain that her waiting was over.

She stood up, and nearly walked right into Jason Blood.

"You! What are you doing here?" She was too surprised and shocked to really be upset.

Jason stepped back, looking distressed to be stopped. He looked at her as if he had no idea who she was, which, after Barbara had thought about if for a second, he didn't.

"Ah. Yes. I... I need to see Dick."

There was a familiarity to the way he said 'Dick' that made her rankle, but she carefully kept that to herself. "No." She spoke flatly. "You must be crazy to think you could see him again, after what you did."

"I have magics. I can... I can help." He pleaded with dignity, his eyes boring into her.

She wavered. "But... Bruce is with him. It would... It would be bad for you to be there. Bruce would... and that can't be good for Dick."

"I can't..." Jason's voice was thick with emotion. "I can't let him suffer like this. Please. Let me help him."

She was going to say no, she was going to tell him to get the hell away from them, but instead she stepped aside, and let him pass. If he really could help Dick...

Then let Bruce decide what would be best.





Bruce looked up as soon as the person on the other side of the door stepped forward. Barbara had been at the door earlier, but she seemed uncomfortable. It was too soon for Alfred to be back with Tim, and Leslie should still be asleep.

He wasn't sure who he was thinking was at the door, but he wasn't expecting it to be an enemy. The clinic had always been a safe haven.

Seeing Jason Blood at the door was like seeing Beelzebub coming down the chimney Christmas Eve.

Bruce was on his feet and at Jason's throat in a heartbeat. "Get out."

Jason narrowed his eyes, and didn't back down. "I can heal him."

"Can you?" Bruce sneered. "Can you turn back time and make it so his lover didn't rip him to shreds?"

"I... I... I can heal his wounds. Please, Bruce... I know that... if I could, I would slit my wrists, but that won't help Dick, will it? Please. Let me help him recover. Let me save his leg. Please. Magic can heal his wounds, but... If he loses his leg, I can't... I can't grow him another one..." Jason's voice shook as he begged, fearing that the answer would be no. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he crippled Dick.

Bruce snarled. "Why couldn't your vaunted magic help him before?"

Sighing, "Magic can only work within the natural laws that govern energy. While his body was unstable, his spirit was unstable as well. I couldn't do anything for him until he had settled. Plus..." Jason raked a hand over his hair, his eyes falling. "The kind of healing magic necessary takes... a great deal of concentration and resolve on the part of the caster. It's delicate magic. And until I knew he would be all right..."

"You're weak," Bruce growled.

Jason's face fell further. "I know."

"Make him well, and pray that you never hurt him again." Bruce stepped aside, leaning against the far wall to glare at Jason.

Jason sighed, and stepped into place.

At first, he could only look at the young man on the bed. His hand reached out, palm flat, fingers slightly spread. He placed his hand next to Dick's head on the pillow; his fingers were barely not touching the messy hair. He took three deep breaths, and then closed his eyes.

Turning his face away, he pulled out the thin blue glass bottle, uncorking it quickly. The white powder inside was so fine that when he spread it out, it seemed to disappear into the air like pixie dust. He took a deep breath, focusing his energy inward.

For hours he chanted, never once pausing or stuttering. As he spoke, the dust over Dick's body danced and weaved together in patterns arcane and mysterious. There was a slight bluish glow around Dick that seemed to come from underneath his skin.

Sweat poured off of Jason's face, his hands shook at the ends of his outstretched arms, and his body swayed slightly as he chanted. The language he was using wasn't anything Bruce recognized, and it bothered him for a moment that perhaps Jason was using dark magic, but the fading bruises all over Dick were evidence enough that there should be no interruptions.

The sun was just beginning to rise when Jason let his arms fall down to his sides.

Bruce watched him for a moment, analyzing carefully before acting. Jason looked completely spent, as if he had just run a marathon, but Dick...

Dick still looked pale and weak.

"You aren't done yet."

Jason flinched at Bruce's hard words. "I... I can't. I told you... It's delicate magic. I need... I need to rest. Dick needs to rest; the magic works with his body, so he'll need time to adjust. I can finish this later today."

Bruce's eyes narrowed slowly. "Fine. Go home. Get some rest. Make arrangements to leave."

Jason's shoulders slumped, his head falling forward. He nodded.

Bruce hated the sunrise. It was like the tolling of a bell to him; it brought the night to a close and reminded him of all the things he couldn't do, and all the people he couldn't save. He preferred to be back in the cave for sunrise, cloistered away where the sun's bleaching light couldn't touch him.

This morning, he watched the sun inch closer to Dick's face. He looked better, certainly better than he had been before. The bruises were mostly gone, and he looked less... deathly. Bruce's eyes flicked to the monitor; Dick's vitals were all steady and strong.

Bruce put his forehead on his joined hands, and went through a few Buddhist meditations. It was a new day.

It was just past eight when he heard it; the change in Dick's breathing patterns. He watched Dick closely, his sharp eyes catching every twitch and flicker. When Dick's eyes opened, Bruce jolted forward in his chair quickly.

Dick moved his lips abstractedly, his eyes bleary and unfocused. Bruce brushed his hand over Dick's, and poured him a glass of water quickly, offering Dick a sip. When Dick was a bit more awake, he turned his still bleary eyes to the form next to him.

"Bruce?" His voice was weak and broken.

Bruce ignored the way his heart leapt in his chest. "I'm here, Dick."

Dick looked like he might be trying to smile.

"How do you feel?" It was an unnecessary question, but conversation had never been a priority to Bruce.

Dick assessed, still a bit out of focus from the pain meds. "Better than I should, if I'm remembering right."

Bruce's face stilled to a quiet discontent. "What do you remember?"

Dick swallowed painfully twice. "Everything. I guess I'm alive?"

Bruce nodded, even though Dick's eyes were closed.

Even under the influence of the morphine, Dick didn't need to see Bruce to know what he was trying to say. "Then all things considered... not bad."





At eight thirty, Leslie woke up to the buzzer to Dick's room. She barely brushed herself off before she went to go see her patient. She was worried about her boys. It had been hard last night in surgery to close off her feelings and work on Dick as if he were any wandering transient who had needed aide. It had been utterly exhausting.

And what was she going to do about Bruce? He couldn't handle this. He needed help, but he would never take it, and he was probably only half aware of everything that was going on inside of him.

Sighing, she pushed open the door to Dick's recovery room.

By eleven, she was so angry and confused that she was ready to rip Bruce's face off.

Tim, Barbara, and Alfred were now crowded in to the recovery room, keeping their very - lively - for - a - should - be - nearly - dead - guy friend company. Leslie seethed. Now, Dick looked merely badly beaten up, which would be fantastic if she only understood it. She grabbed Bruce by the collar and dragged him out into the hallway.

"Explain."

When Leslie used that clip, angry tone, Bruce knew better than to argue with her. "It's magic."

Bruce's definition of not arguing with someone varied wildly from most people's. "Explain."

Bruce smiled, affecting the playboy for a very irritating moment. "Magic, Leslie. Are you upset? Isn't it a good thing?"

Leslie pursed her lips, and reminded herself that Bruce was a dangerous man. A dangerous man who would be considerably less of a man if he didn't start talking... "Last night, Dick had a punctured lung, three broken ribs, a lacerated kidney, and a leg that was dangerously going down the road to necrosis. Today, Dick is badly bruised, but his ribs are only cracked, his chest tube is clear, the X-ray of his kidney is completely normal, and I get a steady pulse in his foot. Explain."

Bruce sighed, feeling tired. "Dick has been... involved with an... older man. Jason Blood."

Leslie looked completely nonplussed.

"Jason is bound to a demon. Last night, the demon is the thing that attacked Dick, and caused... Jason is a mage. He performed a spell, and..."

Leslie eyed Bruce carefully for long, long moments. "What happened isn't possible."

"It's magic." Bruce shrugged, humorously.

Leslie sighed. "Can he finish the job? Because Dick isn't out of the woods yet. His leg..."

"He's coming back."

Leslie shook her head, weary. "I wish you would keep your world out of my clinic..."

Bruce smiled tightly. "I agree."

Leslie put her hand on Bruce's arm, squeezing slightly. "He's going to be fine, Bruce. He's going to be fine."

Bruce sagged a little, but turned away before he could really let go.





Dick shifted in his bed. The tubes stuck into him had an obscure sense of binding, pulling when he tried to move too much. His butt hurt, and he wished that he could walk around.

Barbara, Tim, and Alfred had finally left to go get something to eat. As glad as he was for them to be there for him, the room was small and he was in pain, and he didn't like to be weak in front of them.

Bruce was still there, though, and that was good. Bruce was being quiet, and Dick knew that he was tired, since he'd been up all night, but it was good to have him there.

"Need another pillow?"

At least he wasn't too tired to hover. "No. I just want... to reposition..."

Bruce watched Dick wiggle vainly on the bed for a minute before he got up, and helped Dick to sit up straighter. "Better?"

Dick smiled up at him beautifully. "Yes."

Bruce let his hand rest briefly on Dick's head before he sat down again. There was a small amount of tension in his back because he was expecting Jason to show up at any moment. He wasn't sure how Dick would react, or what Jason would say to him. He was hoping that maybe Dick would fall asleep, and that when he woke up again, Jason would have come and gone and be out of Dick's life forever.

"Stop."

"Sorry?"

"Your thinking is giving me a headache. That's always the way it works. You think, and I suffer. This is so unfair."

Dick sounded half like himself, and half like the boy he used to be when Bruce first knew him, which made Bruce smile entirely against his will. "I'll try to control it."

"You can't," Dick sighed. "It's your nature to think all the time. It's very unhealthy, you know."

"Oh?"

"No good ever came of thinking," Dick postulated sagely.

Bruce felt the tinge of sourness creep up his throat. "Not thinking certainly didn't do anything for your health."

Dick turned his face to Bruce, his expression clear and calm. "Did Jason say when he'd be back?"

Bruce swallowed the bile that rose up his esophagus, and glared. "No."

Dick smiled. "I did think, you know."

"No," Bruce shook his head, "you didn't, or we wouldn't be here."

Dick turned his face to the ceiling, and closed his eyes. "I did, and that's the reason that we're here."

Bruce savagely dug his fingertips into his hands, and ground his teeth. He stared at Dick, trying to make some sense of what the boy had said, but he couldn't make out the beginning or the end of it to save his life.

When the short, quiet knock interrupted his thoughts, he physically jerked a quarter of an inch in his chair.

Jason Blood put his head around the edge of the door, his red eyes cautiously looking to where Dick was on the bed. "May I..."

"It's about time," Dick interrupted, irritably. "I was told you were going to work some magic on me, and I've been waiting all day. I have an itch on my nose. I'm assuming you can take care of that."

Jason slipped entirely into the room, but edged away from the bed as soon as he was inside. "Dick, I can't even begin to say..."

"Bruce?" Dick turned his face to his mentor, smiling gently. "Can Jason and I have a moment?"

"No." Bruce answered sharply and quickly, his eyes narrowing.

Dick chuckled soundlessly. "All the same... get out."

Bruce sat rigidly, staring at Dick, and then at Jason. Bitterly, he stood up slowly, stretching out his body as he did. "I'll be right outside."

Dick nodded a small thanks.

Left alone, Jason stayed in the far corner, breathing steadily harder with each passing second, as Dick lazily watched him from the bed.

"Jason..."

"Dick, I'm so sorry."

"I know."

"I can't tell you..."

"Don't."

"But..."

"Can't undo what's done." Dick shrugged, smiling cynically. "No point dwelling."

Jason tried to speak, but his voice was gone.

Dick invited him closer as he raised his chin slightly. "I'm still pretty torn up. Bruce said that you could cure it..."

Jason took two faltering steps toward the bed. He sighed heavily. "I'm going home as soon as I know you are well. To England."

Dick nodded sadly. "I presumed as much."

Jason got close enough to Dick to put his hand on the side rail, an inch away from Dick's hand. "It's for the best that I go."

Dick opened his mouth to speak, his eyes closing as he remembered. Remembered the smell of the demon's breath in his face, remembered the crushing grip of the demon's hands on his body, remembered the pain of the demon's mouth on his flesh.

Remembered the fire in the demon's eyes, the same fire that was in Jason's eyes when they made love.

"It is."

Jason nodded.

He pulled out the thin glass bottle, and set to work.

It was two hours later when his arms dropped again. Dick felt like layers of pain had been slowly, and carefully stripped away gently.

"You..." Jason's voice was hoarse, and thick with emotion. "You should take it easy. Your body needs to catch up with what the magic has done. Stay.... Stay hydrated." Jason paused, looking Dick in the eye, watching the thin ribbon of black hair slip from the pillow to Dick's shoulder. "Take care of yourself."

"Jason." Dick smiled, a light in his eyes that made Jason's heart ache. "Thank you."

Jason laughed soundlessly at himself. "I'm the one who brought you here."

"Jason," Dick spoke more firmly, commanding attention. "Thank you."

Jason paused for a moment, his eyes tracing Dick's every feature, every characteristic, every line...

He smiled just a little as he turned to leave.

Bruce watched him go, relieved. He couldn't hear anything that had gone on, but he could tell from Jason's posture. He wouldn't be back.

He stepped into the recovery room slowly. Dick was leaning on his side, staring out the window dispassionately.

"Dick?" In his tone, he asked if everything was all right.

Dick turned to look at Bruce, his eyes slightly dull. "He's done. I'm just... tired."

Bruce could see it in Dick's clear, deep eyes. He felt utterly abashed. "I... I'll leave you to rest..."

He turned to go, but Dick made a small noise of protest. Bruce turned to find Dick reaching out for him, his hand loosely on the side rail. "Don't," Dick asked. "Stay with me."

Bruce immediately pulled the chair up next to the bed, and took Dick's hand in his own. "Of course."

Dick relaxed, breathing easier.

Bruce tightened his hold on Dick's hand, his thumb gently swaying across Dick's skin comfortingly.

Dick's eyes became pained. "I... I loved him."

Bruce's eyes focused on the small patch of skin between Dick's thumb and forefinger. "I know." He thought about it, about how quiet and sad Dick had become since Jason had walked away. "I'm sorry."

Dick turned so that he was lying on his side, facing Bruce, and closed his eyes. "Me too."

Dick continued to hold onto Bruce until well after the sun had set.





small note... i did consult with my medical expert on the trauma, but i know that Leslie's medical jargon was a bit... layman-ish. ^_~ well, i'm thinking, the strain of operating on a loved on drained her. that's my story, and i'm sticking to it.






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