note: this is another in the Incidentals uni i've got going. if ya wanna see the rest of 'em, they are all at this site:
this one takes place in the middle of the original story.
Tim was still trying to get the hang of Babs' funky set-up when he was jarred by the loud claxon of the incoming call. Remembering to flip all the right switches, he answered as Oracle, still not familiar enough with all of Babs' codes to recognize the caller beforehand.
"Yes?" He also wasn't sure he knew how Babs answered her calls, since he assumed her response of 'What have you gotten yourself into this time, Boy Blunder?' was for him alone. Well, and maybe Dick.
"Oracle?" Dick's voice came over with perfect clarity, allowing Tim to hear Dick's confusion and distrust. He nearly giggled.
Flipping off the Oracle voice, he responded, "Hey, Wingster. It's Robin. I'm manning the com so Babs can take a nap."
"Oh. How... She's doing ok? Right?"
Tim smiled. "Yeah, she's just six months pregnant. With your baby, you cad, you *could* come by every once and a while and help her out."
He could actually *hear* Dick blush. "Uh, yeah, I know. Um, I... actually, I was calling to see how she was. Really."
"Riiight. No, seriously, what's up?" There was nothing Tim loved quite so much as giving Dick a hard time.
"Uh... well, I was going to check on a search she was running but..."
"Oh, I've got it going. Gonna be a while, though, there's a lot of information to process and not a lot of factors to narrow the search."
"Right. I know. That's why I enlisted her help. I'm not *trying* to be burden."
"No, it just comes naturally to you." Tim was really having a good time now.
Dick sighed dramatically, making Tim giggle even harder. "Well, as long as you are only taking up space being a wiseass, you could do me a favor."
"A couple of weeks back, Babs downloaded some Nanny software she's developed onto my hard drive and it's been driving me crazy. She designed it so it couldn't be unloaded without certain codes and stuff. You think you can put that so-called brain of yours to work on that?"
"Mm. Poor Dickie. Can't get to his fav porn sites. That must've really cut down on your internet time, huh? Hey, that could be a blessing in disguise!"
"Ha ha. Now fix it."
"Nah. I can't interfere with Babs' stuff. Clearly, she knows more about you than I do, and she knows you need monitoring...."
"Just tell her I called and asked for her, smartass."
"I'll tell her you called and asked about your search, and I *reminded* you to ask about her..."
"Have I told you that you were a pain in the ass lately?"
"Not lately, no."
"Hm. Well, talk to ya soon Boy Wonder."
"Whatever, old man."
Dick clicked off with an annoyed snort. Tim couldn't help nearly laughing now that he was off, only covering his mouth when he thought of Babs on the couch.
Feeling mischievous, he went to the computer with the internet running freely, and snooped into Babs' bookmarks. Most of them were boring, science sites, and search sites. But, in a folder within a folder, he found paydirt.
Fanfic sites. *Slash* fanfic sites. Tim nearly jumped with excitement in his chair when he found them. He *knew* of these sites, but his dad monitored his internet at home too closely, and Batman monitored *everything* too closely, so he hadn't really had a chance to explore yet.
He was amazed, a little, to discover that most of her bookmarks were for hero slash. JLA, JSA, and Titans. Lotsa Titans sites, Tim noticed with glee. Of course, cruising through them, he wasn't surprised to find that most of them focused on Nightwing. Guy had a great ass. Stories featuring Nightwing and Jericho, Nightwing and Tempest, Nightwing and Arsenal, and Nightwing and the Flash (!! Ha, Tim thought!) were everywhere. There were a few Nightwing and Batman stories, which Tim noted, but passed over. He knew enough about their relationship to know that there wasn't a) any truth to those stories, and b) anything there he wanted to read. He found one Nightwing/Batman/Robin story that sent shivers up and down his spine... and not the good kind of shivers!
Then he saw the Young Justice site.
There were mostly stories about the girls on that site, which was weird, but there were a couple of stories about Robin and Superboy. Tim *had* to read those, just to see if they bore *any* resemblance to reality. They didn't. They also didn't have what Tim desperately wanted. But, there were links, and in one of them, he found it.
Nightwing/Robin slash. The very idea made Tim's teeth cold. He was actually shivering when he opened the links. The first story made his spine tingle. The second made him laugh out loud. The third made him so hard, he had to go to the PBS homepage to cool down. After he had settled, he downloaded a bunch of stories onto hard disk, using one of Babs' more advanced search engines to find the stories.
By the time Babs woke up, cranky and hungry and *really* needing to go to the washroom, he had filled the disk with stories that were sure to make his dreams pleasant for weeks to come.
Babs was in a foul mood the next morning. She has slept funny, and now her neck hurt. Robin, or Alvin, or whoeverthefuck he was, had offered to massage it, but she wasn't in a sociable mood. He has told her about Dick's call, trying to be funny and make her smile, but it just pissed her off. Dickie-boy hadn't been to visit for over two weeks. Sure, he left messages and notes and things, but they were all stupid chain mail type crap, and work related, which was even worse. Maybe she was just getting hormonal, but she was so tired of his scaredy-cat shit. He could be such a prick sometimes. Didn't he think that *she* was scared, that *she* was uncertain, that *she* was feeling out of her depth? *She* was the pregnant one, she was the one who would be dealing with the consequences of her decision every minute of every day for the rest of her life, no excuses or ways out. And *he* was the one off freaking out and sucking every willing dick in a ten-mile radius, which, considering it was Dick Grayson, was a helluva a lot of dicks, making everyone who cared about him tear their stomach linings to shreds worrying about him....
Maybe she was getting hormonal.
After all, she didn't know for sure that Dick *was* acting out like that. Just because he had in the past...
Frustrated, bloated, angry, and six months pregnant, Babs decided to forget about Golden Boy and get some work done, maybe feel useful or something...
And because she was who she was, she started her work by checking to see what sites Robin had logged onto the night before.
Her eyes getting wider as she scrolled down, she just shook her head.
Was there anyone on the whole fucking planet that *wasn't* in love with Dick Grayson?!??
Tim strolled into the kitchen of Babs' place the next day, loaded down with Chinese and Ben and Jerry's. Chatting aimlessly about how hard it is to pick up take out while on duty, he didn't even notice how cool and quiet Babs was being. Putting the food down on the table, he went over to her chair, really looking at her for the first time.
"Gosh, I don't want to say the wrong thing here, but you look exhausted. Um, and your ankles are kinda massively bloated. Uh, I can rub your feet and legs if you like..."
He was on his knees in front of her, not touching yet, still waiting for her permission, when she calmly reached out and pulled his mask off.
"Hey!" Tim hadn't ever expected Babs to do anything even remotely like that, so he hadn't been able to stop her, but he jumped back as if she had stung him. "What the hell??! I thought you respected...."
"Can it, Boy Wonder. You've been here almost every day for the past six months, making sure that I'm eating and exercising right, you know more about what vitamins and medicines I'm on than my doctor, and I'm sick of only having cute nicknames to call you. Besides, I need to talk to you about your net usage from the other night, and I'm not going to do that unless I can call you by your name."
Tim just collapsed onto the floor, as if his strings had been cut. He looked both scared and hurt, and Babs' resolve got up and went off on an extended vacation. Fortunately, Tim spoke before she could.
Reaching out his hand, he said, "Tim Drake."
Smiling, Babs took his hand. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Drake."
Tim smiled weakly back at her, still looking scared and hurt, and also a little green. "Um, I'm... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.... I..."
"Tim. It's ok. I'm not going to ask you if you are old enough to be perusing those sites, since you are old enough to put your life on the line fighting criminals three times your size on a nightly basis. I'm not mad. But... As someone who occasionally impersonates a responsible adult, I think we need to talk."
They sat there, staring at each other for a full minute before Tim started to fidget.
Babs wondered why she hadn't thought this through more before she had begun.
Clearing her throat, she launched in. "Uh. So, uh, how long have you had this crush on Dickie-boy?"
Blushing madly, he stammered, "Um, well, see, I dunno, I mean, it's not really a crush, I just, I mean, I'm not gay, well, I don't really know, I just... It's just, I think, I mean, it's no big deal, I'm not..."
"It's him. I know, Tim. I know." Babs' voice was so quiet and soft, Tim could actually feel the truth of it in his bones.
"Yeah. He's.... the first really strong memory I have is of him. Meeting him, and his parents, watching the boy that could fly.... Watching his parents fall. I had nightmares about him and what had happened to him afterwards for years. Then, I saw some news footage of Robin fighting the Penguin in some warehouse. He did this flip, and I knew. Robin was the boy that could fly, Dick. And... I guess that's when I fell for him. Cuz, you know, he was so strong, to become a hero so young and help people when his own parents had..." Tears were burning his eyes, so Tim stopped long enough to keep his voice from cracking.
Babs just sat there, entranced. She had only heard oblique references to how the newest Boy Wonder had joined the clan. It had never occurred to her before that anyone could work out the secret of Batman and Robin. Their cover was just too good. And yet, this *child* had worked it out, long enough ago that Dickie was still in the short-shorts. "Wow. Tim, that's... no wonder you've become such a valued asset so quickly. You were a born detective!"
Tim, blushing again, which was a nice distraction from the tears, stammered, "Oh, no, I was just lucky, really, I wasn't...."
"Tim. Please. Credit where credit is due. So, basically, what you are saying is, that you've been fixated on Dickie since you were a child." He nodded. "He's an idol to you, isn't he? Like Bruce is to him?" Another, sadder nod. "In fact, *he's* the reason you do this, not Bruce at all, but for him?" Slow nod. "And..." Babs hesitated. She wasn't sure if he was ready for this, much less she... "You love him. Really."
Tim looked away, feeling trapped. "I... Love is such a strong word.... Well, I mean.... He's such a great person... Yes. I do."
Barbara Gordon felt her heart crack and break. "Oh. Tim. That's... there's nothing wrong with that, you know, hell, it's the most natural thing in the world. I mean, *I* love him, and I twigged that he was gay before he did, probably."
Well, at least he was sorta smiling now.
"But, Tim... you know it's never going to happen, right? I mean, he loves you, he really does, but you are like a brother to him..."
"I *know*." She had never heard the Boy Wonder sound so desperate and miserable. And cold. "I'm *well* aware. I've tried to... but there's no one else like him. No one."
Babs just wanted to wrap him up in her arms and hold him forever. Damn that Grayson anyway, if he could only develop an ego, maybe he could see the effect he has on people... "Have you... I mean, you've had relationships?"
Tim fidgeted. "Uh... well, I have this girlfriend. Um, well, friend that is a girl. And this other girl, she's kinda... well, she needs friends right now. And, she's kinda trying to break into the vigilante thing, so I've been looking out for her."
"Um. Kinda. But, neither of them are planning weddings or anything."
Barbara managed to keep her snort to herself. These Batboys...
"Uh. And there's... well, once I fooled around a little with this guy. But it didn't mean anything. It was just, you know, fun. Or something. I mean, I don't really *go* for guys, not really, I mean, I don't know how, not that that's the only reason I don't, it's just harder, I mean..."
"Tim." She was so out of her depth. "I... look, I don't have any sage advice or anything. I mean, if I knew how to put Dick Grayson out of your mind, I probably wouldn't be pregnant with his child wondering when the hell he's going to snap out of it and start dealing with his upcoming fatherhood. But, if you need a shoulder to cry on, I'm here."
Tim sat forward and gave her a half-hug. "Thanks. I... may take you up on that. And likewise, you know. I'm really glad you forced me to unmask for you. I really don't know why it's taken me so long. I guess I just liked knowing something the great Oracle didn't."
They laughed, silently. Then, Tim looked her right in her lovely green eyes. "Is Dick going to be ok? I mean, I know you and Bruce are really worried about him. Is he...?"
"Dick.... doesn't really handle being alone well. And he has a habit of acting out when he's under stress... Well, he's a really physical guy, you know?"
"Oh, yeah, I've noticed that." She smiled. "But, when you say, act out, what do you mean?"
Babs looked straight into the blue eyes of Dick Grayson's number one fan and admirer, and wondered what the hell she should say. "Let's just say... Dick finds working up a sweat a viable option to thinking about his feelings. And, when he doesn't want to deal with his feelings, he can find lots of ways to sweat it out."
Tim held her gaze unwaveringly for a long moment, when he finally responded. "So, you guys are worried because he's been fucking everything that moves and you are afraid he isn't being careful."
Letting out a huge gasp of air, Babs refrained from actually doing a double take. But she was doing it in her head. "Um. Yeah. That's it. How...?"
"After Garth left him... I kinda noticed... well, I went to go visit him a couple of times and had to wait in the hall while he kicked out whoever he had in there from the night before." Tim looked perfectly calm, although Barbara knew better. The only thing worse than knowing that you could never be with the person you loved was knowing that just about any random stranger could, if only for a night.
"Yeah. That was a bad time for him. I'm sorry... Well, like I said, shoulder to cry on."
Tim grinned. Then, looking deep in thought, he asked, "So, what do you think? Does this make me gay?"
He just *had* to laugh out loud at the terrified expression on her face.
Batman hated the close quarters that Dick chose to live in. They were too tight, too small, too cramped, and he always felt trapped when he was in there. The place right now was also dark and dank, the slight stench pervading the air speaking of unwashed dishes and laundry and too many nights of sweat and more poured into the atmosphere without any respite. It made Bruce sick.
Staying in the shadows, he entered the apartment and crept softly into the living area, feeling Dick's presence at the counter separating the living room from the kitchen even before he saw him there. He stopped, stunned momentarily as he often was by the young man he had so painfully watched grow up in front of him. Dick was wearing black silk pajama bottoms, which hung so teasingly close to his body that Bruce could tell that he wasn't wearing anything else. The muscles under his skin moved in the slight motions of restlessness like water, stimulating a Pavlovian response from Bruce. He was actually grateful for the Batsuit's tightness. It would hurt a little, but it would spare him some embarrassment.
"You're losing your touch. I could hear you from the moment you opened the window." Dick didn't even bother to turn in the slightest to acknowledge him. "You know, you could come as Bruce sometime, call ahead, come in through the front door..."
Batman dropped the disk onto the counter. "Search results from Oracle. There's definitely an Intergang presence in the 'haven. It goes deeper than Soames as well. There's the results, and some analyses and other information there. I wouldn't make the mistake of suggesting how you would process this, but suffice it to say that it would be a good idea to study up before leaping in on this."
"I always look before I leap. Even though I know you don't believe me. Why didn't Babs call or email me this?" Dick had finally straightened up and turned to look his mentor in the eye. Whether the way he was leaning back against the counter, displaying his form so seductively, was intentional or unintentional, Bruce could never quite make out.
"I stopped by to see her. She told me she had this for you, I told her I would deliver it." Batman barely shrugged.
Dick looked suspicious, leaning back on his elbows, watching closely for any signs of reaction. "And you decided to do this because you wanted to check on me?"
"Are you going with Barbara for her check up next week?"
Dick barely stiffened. "Her father is going with her."
"And she can only take one person?"
"She prefers him. He is her father."
"You are the baby's father."
"Don't you want to see the sonogram?"
"When was the last time you did check on her?"
"She's a big girl, Bruce. She doesn't need checking on."
Batman's eyes narrowed. "Yes, she is a big girl. Six months pregnant and in a wheelchair, a section of her spine replaced with metal and all the incendiary medical difficulties that entails. Would you like me to list all the possibly complications this pregnancy could cause, in case you've forgotten?"
Dick's eyes narrowed. "I haven't forgotten. I *know* what she's gotten us into. It's not relevant. This was our agreement. I donated the sperm, *that's it*. It was her choice all along, you know."
Batman folded his arms over his chest. Dick just rolled his eyes.
"Look, she's *fine*. I mean, she will be. If she wasn't, then I would be there for her. I *do* check on her. I'm not completely out of the loop."
"Did the last sonogram scare you so much that you would abandon your best friend when she really needs you?"
"Fuck you, Bruce." It was the utter calm with which he spoke that really scared Batman. "You haven't the slightest fucking clue. And I think we are well past that stage in our relationship where you can play stern father figure and tell me that I'm screwing up. *Yes*, it scared me. It would have scared you, too. So fuck off. This is *my* deal. I will cope in my own way."
Batman picked up a pair of wet leather pants that were hanging off of a chair near him. "I know you are."
Dick sighed. He pulled the pants out of Batman's glove and tossed them towards the bedroom. "We all have our own ways of dealing with things. At least this isn't as bad as it could be. Are you going to ask me if I'm being careful, safe? Because I don't think we want to go down that road together."
Batman shook his head, dipping his cowl down. It was amazing how defeated he could look just by closing his eyes and lowering his chin an inch. "I don't know how to talk to you about this. But we're worried Dick. You worry us. I just wish that you would spend some more time with Barbara, help out a little, maybe then you'd see this isn't that big of a deal..."
"Fuck. Off." And with that, Dick sauntered away from the counter, brushing up against Bruce as he sashayed his way to the overstuffed chair he looked so at home and sensual in. Bruce hated that chair. He would never have bought it himself. Dick slung his legs up over one of the arms and leveled Bruce with a glare. "You're worried? Why? Because I'm going out more? Spending more time as Nightwing? Doing extra shifts? No. You're worried because I'm clubbing. Well, that's my choice. You were the one that said it so long ago, I don't *do* alone. And I need the release. So, I go out. So what? It's not the end of the world. Worse things could happen. So I'm fucking strangers. So? It's just sex. No big deal. And if I'm cutting myself off a little, again, so what? Right now, that's what I need."
"That's never what you need..." Bruce tried to stay calm under Dick's glare, but the younger man had him entirely pegged. His legs stretched out, his hand lazily set over his crotch, his other arm stretched out over his head, Dick knew exactly what he was thinking. And he was judging him, silently, practically screaming with every slight body motion, how can you blame me for being sexual when you can't stop seeing me that way?
"I think it's been established that you don't know what I need."
"Oh? I guess we remember things differently. Did this help you after you left hom... the Manor? Did it help after Joseph died? After Barbara got shot? After Garth left? Because, I seem to remember it being other things that helped then. And that's what you need now. You need your family, Dick."
"Family? What family? You, Bruce? And what family role would you cast yourself in?"
For a second, Bruce had to close his eyes against the pain and self-recrimination that washed over him. "Friend, Dick. At least I hope so..."
"You are making too big a deal out of all of this. Sex is just sex, Bruce. It's a perfectly safe, natural high. It takes the pain away. You should try it sometime. Might do you some good to loosen up."
He just gave Dick the Batman glare, complete with arms across the chest and chin out. It almost made Dick laugh.
"Oh, c'mon, when was the last time? Selena? You have to live a little. Then maybe you wouldn't freak out when *I*..."
Batman moved faster than Dick was expecting. He had Dick's wrist in his grip, and his other hand clutching the chair behind Dick's shoulder. "You think I need to loosen up? Be more like you? Are you suggesting something? Are you even aware of what you are doing? Are you *trying* to entice me, or has seduction become second nature to you now?"
Bruce was visibly shaking, terrified about what would happen next. He was pinning Dick to the chair, Dick was nearly naked, and the half of him that was covered was draped in silk. He was stretched and ready to be debauched, and Bruce had never felt such temptation. The last time he was taunted by Dick's beauty like this, things ended badly.
Dick's eyes widened, fear and realization hitting him in successive waves. With a sudden nimble motion, he pulled his wrist out of Bruce's grasp, and wiggled out of the chair. Shaken, he spoke in a hushed voice. "I... need to change. I need to... be right back."
Bruce turned away, shaking. He had thought they were past this. He had thought that *he* was past this. He steadied himself against the kitchen counter, trying to hold it all in. Life was just too unfair sometimes. Every fiber of his being wanted to go into that bedroom and press that young, perfect man onto the bed and not even let him speak as he ravished that body...
Dick came back in wearing heavy grey sweats with a hooded sweatshirt labeled BHPD. Bruce wanted to laugh.
"Please. Dick. Just... come and see Barbara. She needs you. She wanted you specifically."
"I... Bruce, do you realize that I'm going to be a father?"
"Yes." Batman looked over his former pupil.
"I mean, really realize it?"
"But... I don't know how... I... I can't. I don't know how to be a father. What am I going to do?"
Bruce tentatively reached a hand out to Dick's shoulder. "You know how to be a father. I think.... Barbara knows you better than you give her credit for. She knows how important family can be to you. To us. You're going to be a great dad."
"Bruce... *How*? I don't know.... I won't be around enough, I work all the time, my nightlife will always take precedence over my child, which can only cause resentment..."
"You do know how to be father. You know from what you learned by being a son."
Dick laughed derisively. "I don't mean to be rude, but I don't think I want to have the same kind of relationship with my child as *we* shared..."
"Your dad, Dick. You remember your dad. I know you do. Sometimes... You remind me of him, really. I didn't know him, but so much of how you carry yourself... You father was the king of the fairway, not because he was swaggering around there, but because he just *was*. He never saw it, everyone else did. That's what I remember of your dad. And I remember all the stories you used to tell as we trained. 'My Dad would do' this, and 'My Dad would do' that. Everything I did was wrong because it wasn't how *he* did things. I learned a lot about teaching from what you told me about him. And I learned everything about love from you, chum, and I know you learned it all from him. And your mother. That's all your child will need, Dick. They don't need anything except your love."
"Bruce..." Dick couldn't keep Bruce's gaze, couldn't look away. "Thank you. I..." Impulsively, Dick reached up and hugged Bruce, holding him tight against himself, almost desperately. "I learned so much from you, too, you know. About love. I'll always love you, Bruce, thank you for that."
Bruce was nearly choking, forcing himself to breathe. "Anytime, chum. Check on Barbara. Seriously."
Pulling away, Dick grinned, with some humor and a lot of affection. "Yessir. Thanks."
The Batman sort of smiled. It was the best he could do under the circumstances.
Tim practically flung the headset down next to the keyboard. How could Barbara *do* this??? Talking the Canary through that minefield battle had been *way* more stressful than actually *being* in the battle would have been! He was sweating like a pig, and his heart was pounding. His respect for Babs, which was already pretty high, rose to astronomical levels.
He was wiping his brow when he felt the arm that grabbed him in a chokehold.
Reacting as he was taught, without thought, he started to fight in earnest, but his attacker had all the advantages.
Then, he heard the giggle.
"Dammit, Grayson! Give a guy a break, will ya??!?"
Dick was still recovering himself, trying not to fall over laughing. "God, Timmy, you look like you just ran a marathon! Wait 'til I tell Bruce how easily I snuck up on his sidekick!"
"Partner," Tim mumbled, trying to fix his hair in a dignified fashion. "Anyway, this job isn't as easy as you think it is..."
"I know how hard what Babs does is." Dick's voice became soft and solid. "Where is she?"
"Asleep. She's gotten 4 hours of sleep in the past 4 days. So, I'm filling in and letting her get some rest."
"Oh. Hey, Tim, uh, I don't know if this is going to sound weird, but, thanks for helping her out so much. Jeez, you're always here. That's really great." He affectionately ruffled the younger man's hair.
Tim wanted to burst. He was terrified that Dick was going to ask him *why* he was always there. "It's ok. I like Babs. She knows me now, ya know."
Dick looked puzzled for only a moment and then he grinned. "Well, good."
"Yeah. And... I guess I'm glad to feel like a part of this..."
"Hey. You *are* a part of this. More so than me, I'm afraid..." Dick looked down and seemed ashamed.
Despite himself, Tim wanted to tell Dick that it was all ok, that everyone understood, that it was fine, and that he shouldn't feel bad. He said nothing instead.
"I brought Babs some flowers and chocolates," Dick said ruefully, nodding towards the end of the table, where Tim noticed for the first time sat a huge bouquet of the most beautiful roses, and a huge box of chocolates. "I don't want to wake her, though. I guess I'll just leave a note."
"Those are really nice. I know she'll love them. Uh, and well, um, she has an appointment tomorrow, so, uh, maybe you'll see her then..."
Dick kneeled on the ground, looking for a free piece of paper to write on. "Maybe." He had taken his time in responding, and when he did he spoke with reserved conviction.
Tim suddenly felt the deep-seated need to tease his idol. Make him smile. "So did you go to that florist on 12th? What's it called? I've fucked up bad and need to bribe my out of it shop?"
"Yeah. The one right next to the wedgies for annoying teenagers shop. I stocked up." With that he made a lunge for Tim, but the current Boy Wonder dove, and soon they were roughhousing, Tim moving too quickly to be pinned but too slowly to avoid getting caught.
"Hey! Babs is asleep in the other room! You want to wake her?" Best defense is a good offense.
Dick narrowed his eyes. "Clever. But the next time..."
"Forget it, old man, you'll never get a next time!"
"*Old* man?!? *Old*! Why you little..."
"Is that a grey hair? Man, that sucks, you know, men are really superficial, after you get a certain age, you won't be able to pull the boys like you used to. Pretty soon, you'll have to hire escorts to get any." Tim loved that he could tease Dick about sex. No one else would even try.
Dick just snorted. "Yeah, already the pretty boys in the clubs are starting to overlook me. Fortunately, I can still depend on the leather boys to come for me."
"Yeah, after all those years in the cave, you pretty much have the cuffs and junk down pat," Tim snickered.
Dick laughed, soundlessly. "Yeah, plenty of practice with tying people down after years as the Boy Wonder."
Tim tilted his head thoughtfully. "I would have thought that would have been the other way around, Boy Hostage."
Dick laughed at himself heartily. "Oh! Et tu, Robin? You develop a kink for chains as a teen and you can never live it down..."
"Hey, if you can't live it down, live it up!" Tim's face was going to crack with his smile.
"Oooh, wow, keep up the good work on the single entendres, and some day you may work your way up to a double!"
"Whatever. So you going with Babs tomorrow?"
"Hey! Lay off me, will ya! I've already got Bruce breathing down my neck..."
"I'll lay off. When you say you are going."
Dick just mock glared. "I'll go. Maybe. I... I don't know if she'll still want me there. I haven't spoken to her in weeks..."
"18 days, to be precise. And you are a big wuss."
"You are. Little baby Grayson. Just go, you'll regret that you didn't later if you don't."
"What was that?"
"I said, last thing that I need, a Robin up my ass..."
Tim couldn't repress the shudder. Passing it off, he jovially responded, "Perish the thought. I *know* where you've been."
Dick was grinning and laughing. He hated to admit it, but Bruce was right. Spending ten minutes being ribbed by Tim was more cathartic than anything. "You are such a little shit."
"Hey! I'm not little!"
"Not what I've heard..."
Tim burst out laughing despite himself. "Are you planning on kissing your baby with that mouth?"
Dick blushed, turned as red as a lobster. "Sorry! I've been watching too much of this British TV show on DVD..."
Tim muttered under his breath, "Dick Grayson, you are *such* a twat."
"Nothing. Here's some paper for your note."
"Thanks. Hey, Tim?"
Tim turned, not expected to see that look of love on Dick's face. "Yeah?" He felt as if he had no lungs.
"Thanks. For helping Barbara. For helping me." Dick's eyes were clear, hiding nothing.
Tim cursed himself, as he fell again. "No... no problem, man. Someone's gotta look out for the two of you. God knows, you guys can't look out for yourselves!"
Dick snorted. "Ain't that the truth!"
Tim glowed inside. He wanted to jump up and throw himself at Dick. He felt caged.
He took his time watching Dick as he bent over to write the note.
There weren't that many people in the world who Dick trusted as much as he trusted Tim. Three, possibly more if you included a few of the Titans.
Tim knew he may never get what he wanted. But he wasn't so unwise as to not appreciate what he had.