title: Incidentals: Hands
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Cass/omc, Dick, Bruce, Tim, Terry, Babs, Alfred
rating: Teen
warnings: mentions of drug use, sexual suggestions
summary: Cassandra has a boyfriend, and the Bat disapproves.
notes: follows Coming Out, as this is the second Cass-centric fic of a trio that will be part of Incidentals.

The situation was tense long before he got there. Cassandra was glaring holes into the ground, Bruce's jaw was tight and rigid, Terry was perched on a railing, pretending not to fidget nervously, Alfred was demurely sticking to the shadows, and Babs was on the main screen, fussing with Angel so that she wouldn't have to make eye contact with anyone.

Dick wanted to smack himself. If he had been smart, he would have gone to the Watchtower instead, so he too could use the little pixie as an excuse to not participate fully in this soon-to-be bloodbath.

Smiling with false cheer, he tucked away his last regret and dove in headfirst. "Sorry I'm late! You know how police paperwork goes. So, what's the big meeting about, anyway?"

"We aren't all here yet." Bruce's voice was gravely and low, a bad sign. "We're short one before we should begin."

"One?" Dick looked around. If it had been a full 'family' gathering, he might think that Jean-Paul, Helena, and possibly the Dinah would be involved, but in that case, they would almost certainly have been in costume. After all, none of them had been introduced to Terry yet.

Footsteps coming down the stairs echoed throughout the cave, almost ominous.

"Ok, I'm here, what's the deal?" Tim looked like he hadn't slept in days, which Dick knew firsthand was actually true, and he had his backpack dragging by his feet.

Dick scowled, crossing his arms over his chest. He certainly didn't approve of Bruce taking up any of Tim's precious free time with a meeting, especially since he couldn't imagine anything that Tim would need to be involved in now that he was no longer in the cape business. Dick hated the idea of excluding Tim, but more than that he was proud of him for leaving it behind and dedicating himself to becoming a doctor, and he would have to become... persuasive if anyone tried to thwart his plans.

"Thank you for making time to come." Bruce nodded perfunctorily at Tim, before launching into it. "Something has come up that may potentially threaten our security." He paused for a moment, inadvertently heightening the drama. "Cassandra has become involved with someone of disreputable circumstances, and she has been reckless enough to allow him to see her in costume."

For a moment, Dick was almost certain that he dreamed that Bruce had said that. His mentor would never go so far as call a meeting to discuss Cass' sex life, would he?

Cass' growl dissolved that fantasy.

Babs cleared her voice, her shock still evident in her eyes. "I... I'm not clear on what the issue is here, Bruce. Are we talking about an identity issue? Are you concerned about the trail back to the cave? Because I think of any of us, Cass has the least connection to anyone here, I mean, I created all her papers and everything, and even if he knew who she was, there's no way..."

"It's more than that, Barbara." Bruce glared at Cass, who was glaring at him, her fists at her sides, ready to strike. "She's been living with him."

Dick shook his head, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. "Your point being...?"

Bruce's eyes flickered in annoyance to Dick for a moment. "He lives in Tricorner. He's a drug addict, and a prostitute."

"you don't know!" All of Cass' rage seethed out of her hissing accusation.

Bruce narrowed his eyes. "I searched his apartment last week. He had heroin and amphetamines. And I followed him the week before that while he made the money to buy the drugs!"

"No right!!" Cass took a step forward, ready to fight, only held back by that sliver of respect that even his current behavior could not shake.

"Bruce, I understand your concern," Babs tried to be reasonable, "and I can see how you would be justified in considering this a possible breach of confidentiality, but again, there isn't a real trail from Cass to you, or anyone else, really..."

"She is making poor decisions." Bruce was unflappable.

Cass growled, too enraged and hurt to form words.

"She's making her own decisions, which is going to happen whether you like it or not." Dick spoke quietly but firmly, earning a glare from the Bat.

"Ya know, Cass, if you wanted to get laid, I could help you out..." Terry tried to lighten the mood, but failed to even catch her eye.

"Mine!" She hissed out. "My life, my body, my lover!"

Bruce sneered at her. "Your drug addict, you mean. This is simply unacceptable behavior! I would expect more from you, Cassandra. I always thought you were smarter than this. There are risks here that you obviously aren't taking into account. This ends now. End of discussion."

"Like hell!" she spit out, moving her hands forward in an offensive position.

"Bruce, you can't just say she can't see him and reasonably expect that she will do what you say, she's not a damn puppy!" Babs sighed, exasperated.

"I am in charge here. It's simple. You want to be Batgirl? You won't see him again." Bruce leveled everyone in turn with his scowl.

"Oh for god's sake!" Tim rolled his eyes in disgust. "Did Cass somehow transform into a twelve year old girl and no one told me?" After a beat, "Then it isn't any of our damn business who she's sleeping with, is it? And you can't tell her she can't be Batgirl, she's damn well able to be her own vigilante now anyway! Look, Cass, just keep yourself safe, ok? I've got practicals tomorrow, I've got to study." He picked up his backpack, sticking around only long enough to give Dick a meaningful wave.

Babs snorted. "Well. End of discussion, as the saying goes. I've got international crises to avert. See you online..." She signed off, smirking.

Terry slipped away, seeing that there were fewer and fewer targets, and Bruce was getting angrier and angrier. "Um, I gotta study or something... Anyway, I don't think I should get a vote anyway..."

Dick sighed as it came down to just Cass and Bruce, both trying to will the other to spontaneously combust. Laying a hand on her shoulder, he smiled at Cass. "Why don't you go upstairs and get some water to cool off? Alfred will make you something. I'll be up in a minute to drive you home after I talk to Bruce."

She seemed to waiver for a moment, before nodding once. Turning her back to Bruce, she walked away.

"You're going to talk to me now?" Bruce's voice was as dangerous as Dick had ever heard it directed at him.

Taking a deep breath to gather his courage, he narrowed his eyes. "Bruce, you are acting like a complete jackass. Get off your damned high horse and think about what you are doing!"

"Did none of you listen to me?! He's a prostitute, Dick! I saw him suck some john off in an alley for thirty bucks!" Bruce would have been quivering were he not so tightly controlled.

"Thirty, huh? He must be good, then. In that part of town, you usually only have to pay about ten." Dick leaned back, reminding himself to stay calm, above everything else, just stay calm.

Bruce took one threatening step forward. "Don't trifle with me, Dick. I'm not going to allow her to throw her life away!"

"Yet you would allow her to risk her life as Batgirl. She could be in danger with this boy, sure, but she could die defending your town, Bruce." He really didn't want to say the next thing, but he knew that he had to pull out all the stops if he was going to get through to him. "It's happened before."

Bruce actually staggered for a split second. Then, he flared his nostrils, looking more dangerous than ever. "She's being stupid."

"She's in love." Dick shrugged. "We're all stupid in love some times. Who are you to say that she can't make mistakes? Who are you to put her on the spot and have to defend her feelings? You aren't her father, Bruce. It's way too late to try to take on that role in her life. You've had basically no contact with her outside the costume. And now you stroll in and tell her who she can and cannot associate with? How do you honestly expect her to respond? Do you really think that she will just obey you?"

Dick could see the wind slipping out of Bruce's sails. "I... I thought she would listen to reason..."

Quirking his lips, "Then you should have tried to speak reason with her, instead of delivering ultimatums." Dick chanced stepping closer, catching Bruce's arm. "I know you are only worried about her. Hell, so am I. But this isn't the right way, Bruce. She's old enough to think for herself and young enough to chafe against authority... If you tell her that she can't see him, that will just make her want to see him more. And if you tell her that she can't be in the family anymore if she sees him, she'll leave." Dick squeezed Bruce's arm to soften the next blow. "I did."

Bruce sighed, looking away. "I just don't get it. She's beautiful, and strong... What is she doing with some junkie anyway?"

"I don't know." Dick shrugged. "I'm not going to find out by giving her orders, though." He sighed, stepping a half step closer. "Love can be... confusing, Bruce." Last blow, and this one was going to be just as bad as the first one. "Would you like to have to justify your love to her? Not even getting into the international thief you were engaged to..."

Bruce looked stricken. Dick hated to see him like this.

Smiling, he slapped Bruce on the back. "Don't worry, Bruce. I'll look into this more, ok? We'll look out for her. We'll try our best to keep her safe. That's all that we can do."

For a moment, Bruce just stared at Dick, his heart in his eyes. "I think this fatherhood stuff has really rubbed off on you. And to think, there was a time when you thought you wouldn't be any good at it..."

Dick snorted. "Of course, my chikni will never be allowed to date any damn drug addicts."

Bruce relaxed, some of the pain leaching out of his eyes. "You'll look into this?"

"Of course." Dick smiled. "Gotta take care of our own, right?"

Bruce nodded, accepting.

When Dick got upstairs, Cass was pacing in the kitchen so fast, he could actually see the floor getting worn down. Smiling, he put a hand on her shoulder. "Try to take it easy on the linoleum. It hasn't been proven guilty yet."

Sheepishly, she stilled her body quickly. Her head lowered slightly, but her eyes stayed on his.

His lips twitched, and he suppressed a sigh. All of her questions, anger, and hope was in her eyes. "Don't worry about him, Cass. He just... concerned. And an idiot. He should have just talked to you about your relationship. He's not going to try to stop you from living your life."

She took in a deep breath, and all the tension just melted right out of her body. Dick was amazed; in many ways, Cass was still very naive. That was all she needed to hear for it all to be over for her.

"Let me give you a ride in city," Dick pulled her out of the kitchen gently. "We can pick something up, and maybe I can meet this guy that's causing all this ruckus. What's his name again?"

"Daniel." Her voice was soft and warm. Dick watched her closely.

He had never heard her talk like that before.

"Ok. We'll pick something up and meet Daniel. Ok?"

"Are you checking up on me?" She eyed him cautiously.

"Yes." He smiled at her brightly.

"Oh." She certainly hadn't expected him to be so honest about it.

Dick leaned back in the car seat, griping the steering wheel in what he hoped was an unobtrusive manner. Making a mental note to tell Babs that she was going to have to have the sex talk with Angel since he was handling Cass, he took a deep breath, ready to launch into it.

"Love him." Cass's face was resting on the seatbelt, her eyes fixed on the moving scenery outside the window. "Won't give him up."

"I'm not going to ask you to." Dick turned down the volume on the radio with a quick flick of his wrist, his eyes never leaving the road.

She looked at him curiously. "He... was right. Takes drugs."

"But you don't." That wasn't a question. "Look, Cass, I'm the last person on the earth to question who someone would decide to be with."

She raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Tim?"

He blushed. "Before Tim... Anyway, I know that sometimes... logic just isn't a part of it. But that doesn't mean you can abandon your common sense entirely."

She leaned forward a little, seemingly interested.

He found it was easier to talk if he didn't think before he spoke. "Look, Cass... I don't know you that well. I'm not going to tell you what is right and wrong, but... I know that it isn't easy for you to open up to people, so for you to become involved with this guy, it must mean that you really care about him, and trust him. You seem like a pretty good judge of character, so that's good enough for me, but so help me, if I or anyone of us finds out you've taken any drugs, not only will we lock you up and clean you out, but he won't be worth the power to blow him to hell when I'm done with him. And when I'm done with him, it'll be Bruce's turn." He spared a second to look her in the eye. "You understand?"

She nodded slowly, her eyes open and her expression neutral.

"Look in the glove compartment."

She only paused a second before complying.

"There's a red box in there..."

Her sharp intake of breath and sudden flush of embarrassment was his only clue that she had the right object. "But...!"

"No fucking way, Cass. We are not dancing around this one. You have sex? You use a condom. Hell, if I had my way, you'd have him use two. I don't care about being embarrassed, or whatever. I'm not going to pry into your personal life, but let's face it. You stand in the batcave willing to fight Batman over him, and there's more going on than dinner and a movie. So. You need to carry those at all times. Don't trust him to have some; you be prepared. And I'm serious. Don't ever go without. I don't care how 'in the moment' you guys get; if you don't have a condom, he's not getting anywhere, you understand? And Cass... even oral sex isn't 100% safe. There's a risk of transmission of HIV and other diseases. Just... be smart. Be safe. I know you are smart," he conceded, "but you aren't always good at keeping your own back." He smiled gently at her, earning a little smile in return. "So, don't put yourself at risk. He's in a very high-risk group, so don't fuck around with this, you have to be serious about this, ok? If he loves you, he'll want you to be safe. Nothing will be more important. Remember that."

"Ok." She barely whispered, hiding half her face in the seat cushion.

Dick smiled a little. "All right. Now. What do you want for dinner?"

"That you, Cass?" The voice greeting them was vaguely southern, wafting from somewhere in the small kitchen.

Dick took the moment before their host appeared to size up the place. Dirty, yes, and in a bad part of town, but really, not that much worse than his 'haven apartment, before he cleaned it up and rehabbed the building. Small, but Dick had been to worse.

Hell, he'd had sex in worse, he had to remind himself.

"Babe, I was gonna make chops for dinner, but I didn't know when you were gonna be by, so I hello! I'm sorry, didn't know we were having company!" Daniel emerged from the bathroom, a dripping scrub brush in hand. "Let me toss this in the sink and wash my hands..."

Ok, now Dick knew why Cass had fallen for him. Bright, engaging smile, smooth skin, sexy five o'clock shadow, dark, messy hair that begged to have fingers plowing through it, nice body, decent ass... Not bad at all, from where Dick was standing.

And Cass was just glowing, a small smile turning up the corners of her mouth in a genuinely happy way that Dick had never seen before.

Not bad at all.

"So, I'm Daniel, and who might you be?" Daniel's green eyes flashed wickedly as they did the head to toe sweep.

Dick smirked. "I'm Dick." Daniel's lips twitched, so Dick cocked his head to the side in amusement. "Cass's brother-like friend. And a cop in the 'haven."

"Really?" Daniel looked actually surprised. "I didn't think there were cops in the 'haven that Cass would be friends with."

"There's me." Dick smiled. "So, what kind of drugs are you on?"

"Right now?" Daniel took a defensive half-step back. "No, I won't jerk ya around. I've done all kinds of shit, some crack and shit. E. Heroin. But I'm... Well, I'm trying to clean up." He looked a little contrite.

Cass smiled, and went to stand next to him, placing her hand on the small of his back. Dick noted this with surprise; Cass hardly ever sought out physical contact.

"So, what are you on now? Methadone?"

Daniel blushed to the roots of his hair, and Cass glared at Dick. She was about to move forward and do something, but Daniel put a hand on her arm. "Naw, it's all right. Yeah, I've started methadone again. I just... I wanna clean up, but it's not easy..."

"I know." Dick smiled. "We brought Thai. Just remember, you get her on drugs, or sick, and I'll have your ass in a sling so fast your head will be spinning until it falls off. Let me wash up and we can dig in, ok?"

Daniel accepted the bag of food, grinning despite himself. "Thanks, I guess. Bathroom's the other room here. Thanks." He watched Dick go, grinning a bit more as he leaned his forehead against Cass'. "Ya know, bringing hot supermodels by me isn't gonna help that whole sexual identity crisis thing at all..."

Cass whacked him on his rear, her eyes flashing playfully. "Taken."

"Ah well, a boy can dream... Hey! Don't tell me you haven't thought the same thing!" Daniel tried to catch her arms to keep her from thrashing him.

"She knows my boyfriend. She wouldn't dare." Dick winked at the two of them, smiling. "So, do you have plates? And what was that about a sexual identity crisis?"

Daniel grinned, going over to the mini-kitchen to grab some paper plates. "Now, big brother, don't be getting protective here. My intentions are pure. Mostly. But I, ah, have done many a thing in my days, and I've been left... open-minded, shall we say?"

"You've prostituted yourself." Dick's voice was so nonjudgmental that even Cass could only respond with surprise.

"Well... yeah." Daniel hid his face as he dished out food for himself, only remembering cutlery after he had a plate full of pad thai noodles. "I mean, I'm not proud of it or anything, but you do what you hafta do, ya know? And I didn't do it a lot, ya know, just a trick now and again to get me by."

Dick nodded, smiling as Daniel handed him a fork. He knew the story well enough; so many years prowling the streets for crooks had taught him plenty. "So, what are you doing for a living now?"

Cass made a small noise that would have been a protest if it were more fully formed. Her eyes narrowed as she glared at Dick. He was acting so calm and collected as he laid these cheerful threats on her love.

Daniel smiled. "Well, I'm waitin' tables at a diner up the way, and hopefully I can keep this job." He looked at Dick right in the eye, his face very serious. "I really am trying to straighten out and clean up. I love Cass very much. She's... she's like the light at the end of the longest fucking tunnel in the world, ya know?"

Dick couldn't help the small smile. "I... I know that feeling, yes." Dick stared at his plate of noodles, wishing the world could be a better place. "What about your family? Do they know where you are? Couldn't you have gone to them for help?"

"Sure, I got family." Daniel grinned, a little maliciously. "I damn sure hope they don't know where I am. And ya know, I would've gone to them for help, but ya know, at least the guys here who poked me up the ass paid me for after. Daddy always just took my money."

Dick's acrobatic sense of balance prevented his plate from falling flat on the floor. He controlled his shock with a few meditative mantras. "I'm... I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..."

"Forget it." Daniel sucked up a noodle, grinning. "It's good to know that Cass has someone to look after her. After all, I'm the sorta boy her momma shoulda warned her about. Ok, short version of my life story. My momma died when I was ten, when I was eleven, my daddy decided that I had the 'gift,' and he took me on the road with some preacher as a faith healer. Ya know, 'The power of the Lord compels you! Praise Jesus, you can stand now!'" Daniel's voice got thick with a southern drawls, his expression illuminating, as if he were ecstatic, his arms waving. "I had the healin' touch, they said. Just let the boy touch you, and all your ails will disappear."

"You're a faith healer?" Dick smiled, laughing quietly as he tried to keep his mouthful of noodles on the right side of his lips.

"His hands heal me." Cass shrugged, smiling up at her love as her hands reached out to squeeze his arm. Smiling, Daniel dipped his face down to kiss her.

Dick looked down at his plate, his cheeks happily warm.

"Yeah, well, anyways... My daddy started to take me to the back of our trailer for 'private sessions' with my healin' hands, figurin' maybe he could get something outta touching me. When I was fourteen, I decided that starvin' on the streets of Gotham was better'n what was goin' on at home. So. You know the rest of the story, right?" Daniel's eyes were harder than they had looked before as he nearly glared at Dick.

Nodding, "Yeah, I know. You should be proud of yourself." Both Cass and Daniel stared at him, dumbfounded. "Not many could survive what you have."

The rest of the evening passed quickly. They watched a movie on tv, during which Daniel snuck a few looks at Dick.

Dick and Cass didn't mind. His hands were where they belonged, on Cass, the whole time.

As he left, Dick kissed Cass on the cheek, surprised that she was allowing it.

He guessed she really didn't expect anyone to understand.

Tim was buried in books when Dick slipped in through the second story window. Dick got to surprise his younger lover as he slipped behind him, kissing the back of Tim's neck. Tim was so shocked, he actually jumped, dumping three textbooks and a model of the human heart on the floor.

"Dick! Damn it, don't surprise me! You never know when my razor-sharp reflexes will kick in!" Tim turned around in his chair to hug Dick close.

"Try me, boy wonder, I think I can take you." Dick waggled his eyebrows cheerfully, grinning.

Tim just arched an eyebrow. "Only if you beg first, bitch. I wasn't expecting you tonight."

"Sorry." Dick kissed Tim's nose quickly. "I was in Tricorner, the bad part, visiting Cass' new beau anyway, so I thought I would drop by and see how you were doing. I haven't seen you all week..."

"Don't pout at me. That's your fault. You were the one who had to work double-time to track down that new drug trafficking outfit, plus get Lady Vic." Tim grabbed Dick's collar playfully, giving it a few good tugs to emphasize his points. "So, what's the deal, anyway? What's she doing with a junkie?"

Dick leaned back to rest on the balls of his feet, sighing. "I think... I think he represents healing to her."

"What?" Tim looked skeptical. "Some sort of sexual healing? Life is not a Marvin Gaye song, Dick. Did you talk any sense into her at all?"

"It's not about sex, really." Dick's eyes drifted to the light of the moon reflected in the mirror over Tim's dresser.

"No? What is it about, then?" Tim nudged Dick's chin until they were looking into each other's eyes.

Dick got lost in Tim's eyes, feeling that same feeling he got whenever he was intimate with Tim, like he had finally, after so long being alone, found a home. "I think it's about..." He reached out to touch Tim's cheek, rubbing gently against the soft sandpaper of Tim's unshaven skin. "...Faith."