title: Falling Asleep
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Bruce/Dick, past Dick/Garth and Dick/Roy
rating: Teen/Mature
warnings: sex
summary: Dick takes the next step after trust... Sequel to Insomnia.
notes: animated series continuity. references to the episode old wounds, and to the lost years comic books (hopefully, not necessary for the story!)

The giant box of extra large condom mocks me.

Not literally, of course; despite my nightly activities, I'm not crazy.

Well.

It was meant to be a gag gift for Roy and Garth. I have to make some sort of peace offering, hoping that someday Roy and I will be friends again.

It does hurt, more than I care to explore, knowing that two people I've made miserable in relationships are now happy because they are together.

It also hurt that, knowing the two of them as I do, they could probably really use the economy-sized box of extra large condoms. Ah, well.

It has been a long and painful road, but things are starting to look up.

He trusts me. He trusts me. He trusts me.

It's wrong, on so many levels, wrong, that that makes me so... happy isn't the right word, joyous is more appropriate.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my feelings for him, a long time to realize how much I depended on him, how much I looked up to him, how much I measured myself against him. How much I loved him. And realization can be painful. It sure was for me. Realizing that I loved him wasn't so hard, really. Once I was ready.

The box of condoms still mocks me. I'm not entirely sure I'm welcome in New York right now. But I have to make the attempt, make amends. Roy...

There was a night once, on a rooftop, when all the things I was fighting with inside came out. When I raised my hand against Bruce. Thirty-five seconds before that happened, I could've told anyone what I wanted blithely and without difficulty. The double life had been so deeply ingrained, it seemed natural that what I wanted was a white picket fence, a loving wife, and a backyard full of kids by day, and a hard-bodied man and a life of crime fighting by night. The need to wear a mask during daylight hours too was so deeply a part of who I had been trained to be that it seemed not only natural but right to be in the closet, safe, with all my secrets. But as the reality of that double dream was getting closer, it was like all my clothes had been too tight. Barbara - she was such a good friend and I loved her and she loved me... desire wasn't a part of it... except it was for her... Then my worlds collided. Batgirl... Barbara... And I imploded. I realized, painfully, that try as I might, I couldn't be the man Bruce was raising me to be, I couldn't live behind masks all day and night. I needed to have an identity.

So I ran. All around the world and back again. I learned constantly, studied from dozens of masters, soaked in dozens of cultures, watched and really learned from people everywhere I went. But what I really ran away to learn was myself.

I remember the first time I kissed a girl. It was awkward and strange and I did it on a bet. I remember the first boy too. It still makes me blush all over my body. My first lover, who I hurt so badly he retreated beneath the waves for so long, fills me with so much joy and sadness... I could have really loved Garth. I could really love Garth. He didn't understand at the time why I made us stop, and whenever I catch his eyes I can tell he still doesn't understand. He knew, I suspect, long before I did, that I loved someone else, but could never fathom why I wouldn't act on that.

At least I didn't hurt Jeff, my roommate for two years in college. He was from a prominent family, and had no desire to be 'out' either, didn't care if I was out at all hours as long as I still wanted to fuck sometimes when I was home. He fell hopelessly in love with some biker guy who probably ties him up; I was never really comfortable with the chains. He left without a single bad scene.

But Roy...

I had come back to Gotham, in a close precursor to my current costume, to retrieve an artifact for a secret sect of monks in the mountains of Tibet. I had to evade one of Batman's greatest enemies - in his town. But I did. And being back, well, it wasn't entirely unlike being home. I realized, not at all painfully, that I could come back, I could do this...

After I returned the artifact, though, I wasn't anxious to go banging on Bruce's door. I knew I could do it, but, well...

I knew about the new Robin. Knew he was a good kid, that Bruce had taken him in, was showing him the ropes...

He wasn't out on the street yet, just that one time against Two-Face...

It hurt, being replaced, so completely.

So I went to New York first, not at all sure what I would find. It had been a while.

Roy was there, as he had always been, eating cereal and drinking beer. Good friends are like that, there's no catching up, just right back where you always were. He explained where everyone was, what people were up to, the gossip in the hero community.

I don't remember how we ended up kissing on the couch. I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was, waking up the next morning, with his face pressed up against the back of my neck. I knew, on some level, I did, that the reason we always seemed to clash was because he had a crush on me. It seemed strange, that he would... and of course, I was never really jealous of the fact that he always had girls hanging off his arm, not jealous of him anyway...

So for two blissful weeks I did my best to make sure there was positively no meaningful conversation between us, and I arranged for my loft in Gotham. I guess after the sixth time he told me he loved me, he kinda wanted a response other than me shoving my hand down his pants.

I've been in ugly scenes before, but that... we paced through every room, he threw stuff, he said the most horrible things...

He'll never love you like you want him to you know! You're a son to him for fuck's sake!

Knowing it's the truth doesn't make it hurt any less. Not after spending the last three years figuring out that it's ok not to be who he wants you to be, that yes, you are gay, and that's fine too, that you are in love with the man most people think of as your father, that that's fine, as long as you understand...

And I did. But still... I wanted to feel wanted, loved, desired. So I used one of my closest friends like a whore to satisfy my bruised self-esteem. Very mature.

Just because said friend found comfort with someone who could all-too-well identify with what he was going through, and had found real love, didn't make it any better.

But now... He trusts me. He sees me as an equal. I've worked so long to see myself as an equal, and now...

I can finally do it now, because I don't have to fight him any more. I can tell him that I love him, fully and completely, and he can stammer and fuss about how he doesn't and I can tell him it's okay, I understand I didn't expect. And I can go home, and cry, or beat the crap outta something, or both, or eat a ton of chocolate. And I can hurt, and let the last vestiges of this silly dream die. I can move on. Not right away, but I can do it. And, God help me, I can stop hurting people I care about.

All I have to do is say those ten little words no one ever wants to say.

I love you, and I know you don't love me.

And I can heal, finally.





My back is pressed up against the mat, the sweat off his body so close it drips in my face. I can hardly keep my breathing regular, but I can't give up yet. His flesh burns mine where we touch, and his eyes... What did I do to make him so angry?

I used to love to spar with Bruce. It was never all business, like he used to pretend. There was always that element of fun. Like my dad teaching me a new routine, a really complex, improv one. For the first three years I was Robin, I didn't know that it wasn't a really cool, improv high-wire act. Tonight, after we patrolled together, hardly necessary, his concentration never wavered, we were back at the cave when he asked to spar. I was a bit surprised, but he said there were a few moves he didn't recognize, and he'd like to learn. It filled me with such pride, student teaching the teacher and all that. I was really enjoying myself.

Until he started getting angry. And then we were fighting for real. I didn't know what I had done, but I sure as hell wasn't going to just give in. So I wrap my legs around his waist, wiggle 'til I can get some leverage, flip, spin, flip over him, and get in position again. He flips himself up, and starts circling me...

"Think you got it yet?" my question shows every ounce of my anger and frustration.

"Huh?"

"The new moves you wanted to learn. Think you got them yet?"

He pulls back, and then turns away from me, scowling.

"What the hell was this all about?" I'm frustrated, tired, angry, aching...

"I didn't teach you any of that!" Huh?

"Wasn't that the point?" He still keeps his back to me.

He sighs, a frustrated puff of tightly controlled air getting out, and then "It's hard sometimes, being reminded... How, well, ... how far you had to run... to get what you needed..." Well.

Damn.

This isn't how I wanted to start. I wanted to talk over a meal in the kitchen, in his study, his office at work. Not in the cave, not sweaty from sparring.

"Bruce. Why do you think I left?"

He lets a short, well, I guess laugh. "To get away from me." Like that was an obvious question.

"Yes." He turns sharply, I think inadvertently, and I think he really didn't want me to see that pain on his face. "But not the way you think." Now he looks confused.

"Since the night my parents fell... you were everything to me. I wanted to be with you, safe in your protection. I wanted to play with you, cops and robbers across the city. I wanted to be you, and I worked so hard, but I couldn't... I'm not shaped like you, I don't think like you... I had to leave, not because I hated you but because I was sacrificing everything to be the person you wanted me to be. The only way I was ever going to be the person I was meant to be was if I left. If you notice, it's not like I rejected you. I followed the path you walked so many years before, chose the life you chose before me... I had to do it my way, on my own. Otherwise, I was sure to resent you someday. I didn't want to hate you."

I sat on the floor, one knee up and the other flat on its side. He sat down in the middle of that somewhere, so that we could watch each other.

"I don't understand. I gave you space, didn't I? Did I smother you? Force you?"

"No! It's not that..."

"Was it Barbara? Because... you were in love... I tried not to interfere..."

"Bruce..." Is it possible? The world's greatest detective doesn't know his own `son'... "I wasn't in love with Babs. I... Bruce... I'm gay."

.

.

.

He doesn't say anything. At first. Just when a tiny fear is birthed in my heart...

"Oh. How come I didn't know that?"

I smile a little. The little death of fear feels good. "I thought you did."

Now we both smile a little. I shouldn't have worried, or postponed that. There was the time I caught Bruce in the pantry during the dinner party when I was 15...

His eyes widen. "That roommate in college..." Then he starts laughing, real belly laugh. I smile too, even though I don't know the joke, and curb the desire to move closer to him. "I thought... I... I thought... I always worried that he would... he... he was so obviously gay, I was afraid... he would try to sneak a peak... and find out..."

Now I'm really laughing too, because it's really late, after all. "He didn't have to sneak! Besides, I didn't keep any Robin gear there!"

After the laughter subsides, we're still sitting.

"You didn't have to leave. Not so suddenly..."

"I know. Well, I did but... Oh! I've been meaning to say! I... I'm sorry I hit you! That wasn't necessary..."

He rubs his chin where I hit him. "It's okay. Sometimes it's the only way with me."

"There are better ways." I'm fairly smiling. He looks very much like he could be smiling. This is a good moment.

Fortunately, I have the perfect way to ruin it.

Take a deep breath... "I had to leave Bruce, because there was too much, a-about myself. I needed." Why did my ribcage pick this exact moment to shrink three sizes? Looking down, I blurt it out. "I fell in love with you. S-somewhere along the line. A-and I was t-too close, to you, to it. I couldn't come to terms with the fact that I was gay, I needed to get away from you because o-otherwise... o-otherwise..." I can't believe I'm saying this. What the fuck was I thinking?!? He won't understand, he trusts me now and I'm throwing it away! Isn't it enough to know, doesn't it hurt enough now, do I have to do this!??! "Otherwise, I would have married Babs and lived a lie and hated myself for being a coward and hated you for n-not loving me back."

Oh. Oh God. The words are out, they're all out there. They won't come back, he heard, and they will change everything. There can only be more pain. What was I thinking? This is the absolute LAST time I make an important decision without the advice of a trained professional.

The silence is so dead. I feel dead.

I don't know how long the silence lasted.

"Oh."

More silence

"Am I awake?"

I can barely speak. Why didn't my throat get burned before I said all those things... "Yeah. Sorry." I try to make it a joke, but...

"Sorry?" His voice draws my eyes up. I've never seen this expression.

He sits back. "I have erotic dreams about you."

Even though I'm looking at him, that jerks my gaze to him. "Huh?"

A near smile toys with him. "All the time, in the most embarrassing times and places. With the most embarrassing results. And the worst part? I never get to touch you in my dreams. I swear, I never thought about you like that and then... I couldn't stop. I thought I needed shock therapy."

He's nearly joking, and I can't breathe. "Well, you do, but not because of that."

We just sit, looking at each other.

After a minute, we both fidget.

"Ah, feels like we should, ah, I don't know, act somehow."

I smile. "You've been reading too much romance fiction if you think bashful declarations get followed by hours of sweaty pounding."

He smiles. "Okay. How about ten minutes of sweaty pounding, then?"

I laugh. I can't believe how easy it is to get up, walk over to him. To reach out and touch his hair. To feel his hand on my hip. To lean in and down, to touch, to kiss. To kiss Bruce. I'm kissing Bruce. Roy will never, ever forgive me. Fuck Roy.

It's like every cheesy romance novel I've ever not read. Kissing deepens, touching expands, clothes fall away, we fall, or float, I don't know which parts of his body I explored, where my kisses lead me, where my hands and mouth and legs and torso went...

I can't recall the sequence of action as Bruce moved over me, can't remember what he suckled or didn't, where he teased and where he pulled.

We were on the ground. Our bodies were bare but for sweat. We were having sex, of some kind. He didn't enter me, and I didn't penetrate him, there wasn't time or thought.

There was an orgasm. Dear God Almighty, there was that.

We tried to catch our breath, the smell of our sex nearly choking me with joy. There were no words, but naked we lead each other up into the house we both called home, and to his bed.

Now there was time, and there was thought. There was a pattern, circling. There was joining, and heat and love. There was everything I dreamed of and all the things his horrible subconscious never let him dream.

We were together.





Dawn broke through slowly, and I can't remember the last time I was happy to see the sun rise. Usually, I'm ticked when I see the daybreak because it means that yet again I stayed out all night, and still wasn't done. Tonight I was happy, too happy to sleep, blissed out holding my lover's head on my chest, brushing away the worry along the lines of his hair.

Bruce had been having trouble getting a good night's sleep. He wasn't anymore. I was content to hold him, smell him, love him.

For however long it lasts.








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