title: Incidentals
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick/just about everyone, dub-con Dick/Bruce, Dick/Tim
rating: Teen/Mature
warnings: suggested dub-con sex, sex in general
summary: Dick's story, in another life.
notes: written ages and ages ago, a separate continuity based more on the animated series than on the comics

At 15, Dick Grayson was starting to think he might be gay. He'd tried to develop a crush on Babs, but despite the fact that he really cared about her, she wasn't an object of his fantasies. He was developing a real fear of the locker room at school. He had a fully developed and seemingly totally unnatural obsession with phallic imagery. He had a secret stash of GQ under his bed. And he was devoting large portions of his day to 'thinking' about his mentor.

Speaking of which, he was beginning to think that Bruce was gay too.

Like this, for instance. They were drilling in the cave, both minimally clad, as was their habit, though Dick couldn't figure out for the life of him how or why they had gotten into that habit. Bruce was instructing him in the forms from some hybrid martial art that Bruce had been developing over the past decade or so.

But was it necessary for Bruce to hover so close? It did make it difficult to move fully in the form with Bruce standing less than a breath a way. When Bruce commanded him to hold so he could correct the form, was it necessary for his hand to splay across his belly like that? The hand that moved to his thigh to adjust his legs didn't have to rub slightly before moving inside his leg, did it? Did Bruce have to practically whisper his instructions in his ear, his breath on Dick's neck, his words tantalizing as much as his heavy presence, brushing lightly against his back?

"You have the form, the technique, what you lack is focus. You need discipline, chum."

Shiver. The nylon shorts were doing nothing for Dick's sense of privacy. When Bruce was done, he pressed closer to Dick, his mouth a paper's width away from his flesh, his hand brushing almost harmlessly against Dick's newly forming erection.

"If you aren't in control of your body, that means that someone else is."

Well. Why, though? Even if Bruce were gay, he wouldn't be attracted to a 15 year old, would he?

Dick was going to have to do some research. And he was going to have to get some heavy-duty sweats.





Dick stared up at the ceiling, counting the cracks. He started to catalog the forms of filth in the apartment. The sheets were so filthy he could barely count the ways. Even without the sweat and the sticky wet spots, there was what appeared to be a peanut butter stain at the foot of the bed, and a tear on the side revealed a graying mattress. He didn't want to look deeper for more filth. The tv table that served as a dinner table in the grubby studio was crusted and peeling. The kitchen... the kitchen would take weeks to catalog. There was the slight skitter of teeny legs and not quite so teeny legs. Dick turned his head away from the kitchen. There wasn't much else to look at.

The bathroom door was open and even the light looked dirty. A figure of slight build and medium height padded out and back to the bed.

"Want me to wash you up?" It was strange how hopeful the voice sounded. Dick rolled open to allow access. His eyes wandered over the figure now leaning over him. Roy had taken all of them out to see the band he was starting. Afterwards, they stuck around to see the next band. The drummer was shy and nervous. After the show, Roy had introduced everyone. His name was... Clark, or Clarence, or maybe George. Damn, he should be able to remember that! Wally and Garth had left, being sleepy and dehydrated, respectively. Roy and Donna had slipped into the shadows for privacy. That meant there was no one there to judge when the shy, nervous drummer started to hit on him.

"Jesus, you are seriously beautiful. I've said that already, haven't I?" Dick tried to meet the eyes of the man whose name he wasn't quite sure of, but couldn't.

"You. Do this often." His voice sounded different, didn't it?

A soft chuckle. "Don't worry, I'm very careful. And clean! The last time I was tested, anyway." He had a very strange off-kilter smile, that was very off-putting. "Is this your first time?" The voice was gentle, now, and hopeful again.

Dick just shifted in the bed, not moving closer or further but closing a little.

The drummer tossed the towel, which made a splish noise when it landed. He then moved closer, and whispered, "Will you stay the night? Can I pretend this is mine for just a night?"

What a strange thing to say! What did that mean?

"Sleepy." He said, probably one of twelve words he had said that night.

"Good." So satisfied. The too-skinny body curled up against him. "Hmm. Roy said you guys were good people but..." Chuckle. "Hey, how old are you, anyway?"

Dick stared at the wall that he hoped wasn't moving, and counted the minutes 'til dawn.





"I am not a child you can order around anymore! You can't tell me what to do!"

First the Joker shot him. Then Bruce waited 'til he was almost better before he ripped Dick's heart out.

"My game. My rules. You knew that from day one..."

"This isn't a fucking game! This is my life and you can't tell me what to do!"

They were pacing through the house, Dick limping to keep up, his shoulder screaming at him, feeling weak and tired and more angry than he'd ever been.

"It isn't a game. Those are real guns, you really almost died out there. I won't let that happen!"

"It isn't your choice!"

"Yes, it is. Robin is mine. And I'm taking him away. No more."

Something inside of Dick's brain stopped working quite right.

"Robin is yours?!? Are you out of your fucking mind?! Robin is me! And I don't belong to you!"

"You are my responsibility..."

If he just wasn't so calm about this...

"Thanks, Dad, but I've been my own responsibility for a long time now, and you don't even know anything about me so how the hell can you claim me!"

"I'm not going to discuss this...."

"Of course not! Who cares what I have to say! You know Bruce, if you want to claim me as yours there are a lot better, more enjoyable ways to do it!"

Oh, God, no, he didn't mean to take this tact...

"Watch yourself, chum.."

"I'm not your chum!! Dammit, look at me Bruce! I'm standing right here! I'm not a child, a chum, or a fucking burden! Let me decide for myself..."

Bruce suddenly spun on his heel and faced Dick, in full Bat-mode. "You are far too young to know what you are risking. You are reckless and fearless. You always saw what we did as some intricate, free-form bit in some insane circus! I will not lose you simply because you pouted when I put my foot down!"

The world was crumbling, dying. His head was starting to hurt, jealous, perhaps, of the pain in the rest of his body.

"Circus? Pout? Fuck you. I know the risks. I choose to take the risks, because they are worth it. It's the same choice you make every night, and have been making for so long...! Why can't you recognize my right to make the same choice?"

"You are too young..."

"I AM NOT!!!! I am 18 years old! I watched my parents die TEN years ago! I've been fighting by your side for EIGHT years! Leading the Titans for FIVE years! All while keeping up my school work and the social obligations YOU require! Everything you want from me I've given you! I give you everything you want and everything you're afraid to want! The problem is, you don't know what you want! Because you can't keep me safe forever, the risk exists whether I fly as Robin or not!"

"You can't possibly understand what you are saying."

"I understand better than you think. A lot better. I'm not a blind, stupid virgin innocent to what's going on here!"

Oh, please, make it stop,before...

"Go back to your room. You need rest. You need to prepare for school next week. Go to college. Grow up, and stop playing games."

"I'm not the one playing games here, Bruce."

There was a dangerous energy forming.

"I know you think you are an adult, but there's so much left for you to learn, experience..."

"Not as much as you think."

Bruce looked over Dick's shoulder, desperately trying not to understand all that was being said.

"When you are bit older..."

"This is hopeless! You know it doesn't matter, don't you? You can put as many feet down as you want, I'll still do what I want, you just won't be there. It will be someone else 'watching my back'!"

Bruce swallowed. "Go to your room..."

"While it still is my room, I guess. You know what the worst part is?" Oh, please, make it stop... "Your insistence that I'm still a child pretty much makes you a pediaphile, doesn't it, Bruce?"

He had never known pain before. Facing the floor, watching his blood drip from his nose and mouth, Dick marveled at the fact that there were shades of pain he had never seen before now. Bruce stood above, looking at his hand, shaking. He backed away slowly, too shocked to stammer, even.

Alfred was there bringing him to his feet, to a chair, cleaning his face, saying things that didn't make sense, like everything will be alright.

Dick looked up, insensible. "I have to leave, now."

"Please, young master, let's not be hasty..."

"I have to leave. I have to leave!" Dick was shaking and throbbing, the pain unbelievable. Why, oh, why, this isn't what he wanted! "I have to leave!" His home, his heart, oh, why??

Alfred didn't know what to say.





Dick fingered the soft blonde curls of his sleeping lover. Joey's body was so tightly curled against him, his heat filling Dick's heart. The bed was full of the sweet scent of their sex. The beautiful face was purely angelic in sleep. Dick wondered how long it would last.

Fear started to creep into him, as it always did in the night like this. His lover was so beautiful, so good. But he had never been in a caring relationship before. He didn't remember his parents well enough to know how people in love should be. And he was so afraid, there might be something wrong with him, maybe that's why everyone left.

Was Joey happy? It was so hard to know for sure. Of course, Joey acted happy, signed his happiness, and clung to him in sleep. But how long could Dick keep him happy? That was the trick.

Garth had stopped by, and he had seen Joey and Garth, heads bent close together, sharing secrets of some kind. Garth was beauty, had always been, was becoming more so with each day. Did Garth want Joey? They would be so wonderful, so wonderful together. But... but Joey wasn't...

No! Joseph Wilson was the best and noblest person Dick knew. He would not, could not cheat. Never lie, never betray. Never. Dick could, but...

No. Everything was fine. There were no lies, no betrayal, nothing was wrong. Dick just had to pull himself together. Joey wasn't going to leave. He wouldn't. Dick would figure out how to keep him happy. He would. He was smart. He was.

He chewed his lip, and pulled the strong body closer to him, rubbing his chin against the head underneath.

Everything would be fine. He did not need anything that wasn't in this room. He didn't. They were happy, and they would stay that way.

If Dick couldn't make it work, Joey could. All he had to do was put his faith in Joey, and everything would be fine.

The demons at bay, he let sleep, slowly and carefully, creep into him.





Dick pulled his shoes on, his back stretching painfully over the bruises he had gotten last night. He had been, he decided, to too many funerals in his lifetime. And this one brought back too many memories of the last funeral he had attended.

Jason was a pain in the ass. He never liked the kid, resented the hell out of him. But he truly mourned his death.

Dick sighed, too tired and sore to dress properly, his shirt hanging open. It was too much like Joey's funeral. There, he had felt the guilt of shoulda's, shoulda known there was something wrong, of coulda's, coulda done something to prevent his death if only he had acted sooner, of didn't's. Joey was dead.

And now Bruce was going through the same thing. It had been strange because Dick hadn't spent the night in the Manor since the day he left, 3 years ago. But last night...

He rubbed his face with his hands, and resolved not to think about last night. At least not yet. Although the slight burning ache in his rear was going to make that hard. He should probably see a doctor.

The door to Bruce's bedroom flung open, and Bruce sprang out, looking more frantic than Dick could ever remember. He almost calmed the second he saw Dick.

"I was afraid... You weren't there, and I..." Bruce had never sounded like that before.

"It's ok. I just... woke up, and... decided maybe. well. It's ok." He tried to sound reassuring but the desperation in Bruce's eyes was very unsettling.

Bruce took a step forward, and rubbed his own hands over his face. "God. Last night... I'd hoped maybe it was a dream. I don't know what to say. I'd say I'm sorry..." Dammit. Bruce had enough pain right now for ten men, he didn't need this too.

Dick stepped forward and cupped Bruce's face in his hands. "Last night was a mistake, brought on by grief and too many years not saying what we mean. But I think it was a mistake we both had to make, to move on. Well, for me to move on and for you to reach new dizzying heights of brooding."

Bruce looked like he wanted to smile at the attempt at humor. "I hurt you." A small weak voice, and a frail finger tracing the edge of the bruise that covered Dick's shoulder. All this weakness from the man Dick had revered was beginning to wear.

"I'm not going to lie to you, I could've done without that. But I don't blame you. Bruce? Look at me. Look at my eyes. I don't blame you. There were two people in that room last night, and both were participating in what happened. Bruce? I could have left. I could have. Give me some credit and get over yourself. I can say no to you. I walked out of this house at a time in my life when I needed you a lot more than I do now. I could have left."

Bruce's sad eyes trailed all over, everywhere but in Dick's eyes. His finger traced the bite mark on Dick's lip. He couldn't help wincing at that; of all the bruises and abrasions on his body, that was the one most of all Dick would erase if he could.

"Please tell me I haven't ruined everything." And now Bruce was looking in Dick's eyes, and Dick saw what he had never seen before: the real Bruce Wayne. The lost six-year-old boy who watched everything he knew to be true explode in a splash of blood and a crash of pearls so long ago. It was so hard, impossible, to turn away from him now. Is this why Alfred stays by his side, serving and caring though he doesn't truly believe in the mission anymore? Dick imagined a life with Bruce, a life of submission and subverted ambition that would bring more nights like last night.

"You can't get rid of me that easily," attempting a light tone, though he felt for the thousandth time in his life that the sky was falling. "It... won't work between us... like that. But you can't get rid of me. Ever."

And now they kissed, a first kiss. There had been biting and marking last night, animal affection, at best. Now they kissed. And Dick cursed everything from heaven to hell for this single taste. It wasn't enough, it was far too much, and now he had to walk away.

"Take care of yourself." Please. "Bruce? You have to promise me this. I've lost... I can't lose you, you have to take care of yourself."

"I miss you." A small voice, again. Dick's skin was crawling, he had to leave, he wanted to stay.

"I miss you too, but you can't get rid of me and I can't lose you. Do you understand?"

Bruce brought his head up and looked Dick straight in the eye. Swallowed. "Yes. I... I can only promise to try, though."





"Boy wonder, my ass. You will never have a good jump shot."

Dick laughed, to himself, as he headed to the bench to towel off and get a drink. Roy took more pleasure in every small thing he did better than Dick than most people took in winning the lottery.

"Well, Straight arrow, guess that means I'm done. Forget the super hero biz, put up my feet and retire, I don't have a jump shot."

Roy was still laughing and and reveling in his success. "What is with you today anyway? You're usually a more sore loser."

Dick just shook his head at his friend.

"C'mon, what's up? Bat giving ya grief again? The new boy wonder showing ya up? You run outta condoms last night?"

Dick leaned back and laughed, soundless deep laughs. Looking away, he opened up for no apparent reason. "Bruce asked me to stand up at his wedding yesterday."

Roy lost all his humor in a flash. "What?!? Whoa, back up six notches, Bruce is getting married?"

"Yeah, messed up, huh?" Dick still looked away, leaning forward and rocking a bit. "He's proposed to Selina Kyle. You know, Catwoman? Yeah. So, supposedly, they are getting married. Whatever. It'll never actually happen, because eventually he'll realize that she's a criminal and that's not going to change and he's, well, psycho, and that's not going to change. I just wish... I mean. He shouldn't have asked me. Should he?" And now Dick turned and looked at his friend.

"Hell no! What kinda fuckin' lunatic asks their ex-obsessee to be their best man! That's totally nuts!" Dick always loved Roy's passion when it came to defending those he cared for. Now Roy was pacing in front of Dick. "That guy is a stupid ass! You know that, right? A complete, 100%, ASS!"

A half-smile, full of affection, graced Dick's face for the first time really since Bruce had dropped the double bombshell on him. "It's a really nice ass, though." Really quiet.

Roy stopped, turned, and stared at Dick. "Damn. You really... ya know, every once and a while I forget you aren't normal." And then he plopped down.

Dick couldn't help it, he had to stare. Roy was great, one of his best friends, and really good person on top of that. But every once and a while, he said something that reminded Dick how totally het he was, and it always made Dick nervous.

"What?" Roy was truly perplexed. "What?!"

"Roy? I am normal."

"Huh? No, I didn't mean... Oh, don't go getting all PC on me."

"I'm not. It's just... I am normal. I am."

"I know that!"

Dick let out some of the tension that was building in his chest. The good thing about the lifestyle he had chosen was that there wasn't much free time left over to deal with this type of real world crap. "It... a lot of the time, it doesn't seem like you do. I know that you do, but you tend to... say things. I know you are teasing, but. Well, not everyone who says stuff like that is teasing. It's just... nothing. Never mind." He shook his head and took a long drink of water. Roy was staring at him, and Dick started to feel guilty. He shouldn't have said anything, he knew that Roy didn't really mean anything, he just said things sometimes.

"I've had sex with guys before, ya know."

Dick's head jerked up to stare at Roy, all on its own.

Roy took a deep breath. "When I was on drugs, sometimes, to get some quick cash to score, I'd... for money, ya know? It was easy, grab your ankles, close your eyes tight, and twenty minutes later you've got a needle in your arm taking away all the pain." Roy dragged in another breath. "When you first told us... I thought it was like that. For you, I mean. I... didn't want it to be like that for you. And that's why it's always pissed me off that you've been so gone on the bat! He can't do anything but hurt you! You deserve better than that!"

Dick felt the warmth of Roy's friendship fill his heart. He'd been so unsure about the Titans reforming that he'd forgotten about how good it was to have friends as a part of his life again. "Thanks. But I still have a problem."

"Yeah?"

"Apparently, my jump shot sucks."





Dick leaned back, enjoying the sunshine. It had been a good day. Bruce had asked him to come up to the beach house to help with some of Tim's training. After a long day of all-terrain work, Bruce had let Tim let loose with the jet ski. Dick had completely forgotten how much fun coming up here was.

Bruce sat down next to him and handed him a cup of cocoa. Dick had to laugh.

"I thought since Alfred wasn't coming up that I wasn't getting this!"

Bruce just shrugged. "He gave me a thermos this morning. With strict orders to make sure you knew he remembered."

Dick was still smiling as he started sipping. Looking out to the water, he just sighed. "Ah, to be young again. Don't you wish you still had the energy of a 15 year old?"

Bruce looked out to the water. "I didn't have much energy as a 15 year old. I was always studying."

Dick looked at Bruce, then shook his head and looked away. "Sometimes I forget how intense you can be."

Bruce took a sideways look at Dick. "Probably because you haven't been home much lately."

"Sure I have. I just haven't been to Manor much recently." He didn't mean to be confrontational, but Bruce had been making 'comments' ever since Dick had moved to the 'haven and it was starting to get on Dick's nerves.

Bruce just closed off.

"Oh, c'mon. It's not so bad. You've been to my place, you know it's secure. And I know you don't like me being a cop, but it's not so bad either. And in the 'haven, I don't have a Jim Gordon to lean on, I have to work it from both sides."

Bruce let a sigh out in between his teeth. "That's just it, you don't have anyone to watch your back. You are all alone out there. And. You don't. Really do. Alone. You know."

"Yeah." Dick's voice softened to understanding. "That's the point, really. It's scarier than anything I've ever done, but that's what so great about it. I'm standing on my own two feet, ya know?"

Bruce turned to look at him, briefly, before looking away. "No, I don't know. But then, I've never gotten over my desire to throw you over my shoulder, chain you to the bed, and never let you out. But, you probably wouldn't let me do that, would you?" Bruce actually had a tiny smile, the kind he wore when he was actually making a joke, and not just saying something that was unintentionally funny.

Dick smiled. God, it was so good to finally be able to talk to this man and not hide. "No, that was a one night deal. I like being on my own. Doesn't mean I've forgotten where I came from, or the people that I haven't left behind. And I should come home more often. And, Babs watches my back in the 'haven. So, relax. How are things going at the homestead?"

"Fine. Seeing anyone new?"

"No one serious."

Bruce gave him a grim, hard look, but didn't have a chance to say anything, as Tim dropped down in front of them. "Dick, did you see that last turn I made! I totally flew off the jet ski and slammed into the water! It was awesome!"





Dick was already peeling off his clothes as he entered the bedroom. His luck was changing; Garth was still awake. He was so intent on getting out of his sweaty uniform that he barely noticed that Garth was fully clothed, sitting on the side of the bed.

"Hey. Been a lousy night. So glad you're still up."

"Hmm." Garth wasn't sure whether he should be amused or not. Dick undressed faster than the Flash, he was sure. His stomach turned in knots and twists. He should have waited in the living room, this was going to be hard enough without Dick being undressed while he was doing it. "We don't engage in foreplay anymore." As good a place to start as any.

Dick stopped short of peeling off his boxers. "Huh?"

"We don't cuddle afterwards, either, anymore." Garth was trying to stay calm, but he was getting a headache.

"You, want to, cuddle?" Dick was totally confused. He was working on a half hour of sleep, and suddenly, it felt like Garth was speaking in code.

"We've been together for less than a month, and already we barely speak." Garth's voice was beginning to falter. He stood up to pace, or move, or get away from the fresh scent of Dick's sweat. Following Garth with his eyes, Dick saw the luggage for the first time.

"You! You're leaving!"

"Arthur has requested my presence. It is a formality, really, he simply feels I have been on the surface for too long. And I feel perhaps he is correct."

"Garth! Wait, this makes no sense! You... You came to me! I... I'm not what you want?" Dick felt fear like an ice pick tearing through him. They had been so comfortable and close, and they hadn't been together long enough for Dick to stay up nights afraid of losing Garth. Losing Garth seemed like such a foreign concept anyway; Garth was one of his oldest and dearest friends, and Garth had admired him even longer than Dick had admired Garth. Garth would never leave!

Garth sighed, and felt the whole world press and compress him. "Yes. Yes, and a thousand times, yes, I want you. But... It seems like we are such a great match, because we are so similar. Our hearts are both like battlefields, covered with scars and landmarks of previous injuries. But maybe... How you feel about Bruce. What you told me about before we started... How you love him so much, you can't risk losing him by being with him." Garth stopped pacing and sat down next to Dick, putting his arm over his shoulder. "That's how I feel about you. My whole life, you've been the ideal I aspire to. I know I have you up on a pedestal, but I can't help it. Your friendship means more to me than my life. And these past weeks... they've been a taste of heaven. And a touch, and a scent... but... everyday life with you... I can't fathom how..."

Dick felt an ocean pushing against his eyes, trying to get out. "Stop! Please! I know I'm a lousy lover and friend, I KNOW that, but please, please, just tell me what I need to do and I'll do it! Please!"

"Dick..." Garth shook his head, and stood again. "You told me that the worst part about the morning after with Bruce was seeing him weakened. Please, try to understand, it's a good analogy. I don't want you to change, I don't want you to alter in any way. I... love you. Like a tempest beneath the sea, my feelings for you run deep and strong. But just because I love you, it doesn't mean that I can be with you. I have to go, now, while we can still be friends. Please, let me go."

Never before had anyone asked more of Dick. Let him go! How? Dick had been so comfortable, so sure... In retrospect, that should have been a signal. Even with Joey, he had never been sure. He had taken advantage of Garth's affection, he could see that now, he had taken him for granted. But that didn't mean it had to end, did it? He could still make it better, right?

Dick pulled himself off the bed and moved to Garth, putting his hands on Garth, wherever Garth would let him. "Please, please, oh please, Garth, I... I can... please. I know it seems like this can't work, but it can, all you have to do is lead. I will follow you, but please, please, don't leave me." His voice seemed to get weaker and quieter with every word, dragging breath into his body hurt, and he knew that was exactly the wrong way to bring Garth back, but it was all the strength he had. "Please don't leave me."

Garth brought his own hands up to Dick's neck, rubbing lightly, caressing for a final time. "You're going to break my heart." The words were as weak as Dick felt and he could hear the fear. He knew the fear, it was the same as he had been living with for so long. Fear of abandonment, too cold an expression for too living a thing.

And Dick knew there was nothing he could do.





"Um. Could you please repeat that."

Barbara smiled indulgently. She knew this wasn't going to be easy, but she also knew it was right, and that eventually he would agree. And then! "I want to have your baby. Please."

Dick just stared at her. Clearly, there was something wrong with his ears. "But. Babs. You can't possibly mean...?"

"Dick, I do. I've been revaluating my life, and I've decided. I want a baby. I'm ready. And I'm not going to wait for the perfect guy who will never show up anyway because I spend my whole life in this apartment. I don't need a man, anyway. Just sperm."

Dick tried to laugh, but he was feeling sick. He wouldn't have eaten so much at dinner if Babs had told him they'd be talking about procreation afterwards.

"But... surely... I mean... don't you want, like, the picket fence and all that crap?" Taking just a second to gauge her expression, he got his answer. "Never mind. OK, so you don't want a husband, and you do want a child. Fine. Personally, I'd go for the other way around. But fine. But. I mean... It'd be easy for you to adopt. And you were adopted yourself, so you know better than to think that the kid would be any less yours."

Babs sighed. She'd been through all this herself, and with her father. That made it both easier and harder to go through it with Dick. "I know but... Look. I can't fly with you boys anymore. I can't go to the movies without making a big fucking production myself. I can't go to the store without people looking at me and feeling sorry, or embarrassed, or whateverthehell. I know that there's an easier way. And that the easier way is just as good, as valid. But... I lost so much, and I.. need to draw the line, ya know? Only this much and no more. I lost so much physically... I won't let him take this as well. Please, help me."

Dick just shook his head, feeling woozy. "Yeah, I, Babs, I get it, and I'm with you, uh, to a point. I mean," clearing his throat, "I support you, but, ..., why me?" Dick was starting to feel guilty. He loved Babs as much as he could love anyone without his hormones getting involved, which made their love all the more precious to him. He didn't want to deny her anything, much less something so important.

"Just because I don't want a 'honey, I'm home' doesn't mean I don't want my child to have a father. And I know, I KNOW, you'd be a great father. A fantastic father! And, well, everyone comes and goes, ya know? Of course, you know better than just about anyone I know. But WE, we will always be friends. No matter what, through everything. Look at what we've been through already! We'll always be friends, which means we'll always be together for our child."

Dick was shaking, his head, his heart... "But Babs, ... Your faith in me is, well, astounding, but. I'm not as sure as you are. In fact, one of the blessings about being gay, I always thought, is that I didn't have to try to do, well, this." Now, he was really scared. Him, a dad. He'd never been so scared, and that was just thinking about it. "I... don't want to disappoint you, but... what would your dad think, anyway, you and your fag friend havin' a baby?"

"Dick! My dad does not think like that!"

Sigh. "I know, I know, your dad's the best, but he's a cop. I know what they're like, really well. And well, he can't be happy about the idea?"

"I've talked to him. He approves. Of every part of the plan."

Now Dick was really scared. "What... What if... What if my answer is no?"

"Then your answer is no. Look, I'm doing this, with or without you. I'd rather do it with, by a lot, but I understand this is not an easy thing to ask. You saying no isn't going to bring an end to all my hopes and dreams. Just... don't answer too quickly. Maybe, just maybe, this is something you want too, if you let yourself."





Dick sat by the edge of the bassinet, gently stroking the cheek of the baby cradled within. He was short of breath, but not from the frenzy that had characterized the day until that point, but due to this moment. It wasn't possible.

Of course, he shouldn't have believed that he and Babs could have a baby easily. Naturally, there were the complications of labor as a result of Barbara's paralysis. But that was nothing in comparison to when Kroggitt and his men stormed the hospital, trying to get revenge for when Commissioner Gordon put them all in Blackgate. 'Fortunately', Nightwing was close by. He had to get their baby away from the hospital, leaving Babs and her dad holed up in a secure corner to wait for the Bat. Crawling the rooftops with this most precious cargo he had ever held, he became suddenly aware of how high above the ground the roofs actually were. Scary.

When he got back to Babs' tower, he got even more scared. The baby was frightened, and crying. He had to change her, feed her, change her again, sing to her, put clothes on her, take the too-large clothes off of her and put on one of those 'onesies', sing to her again, then finally he put her down. She started to cry again then. He picked her up, and took of his mask; the spirit gum was really starting to irritate. Then she stopped crying, fascinated by the mask and the face revealed, and tired from all the crying.

That's when Babs and her father burst into the apartment, frantic, to find a maskless hero on the ground teasing a newborn with his mask.

He didn't feel so bad, though, because he knew Jim knew, anyway, and Bruce was going to tell him once, anyway.

She was finally asleep, now, and so so beautiful. He couldn't believe it. She couldn't really have any part of him, could she?

He didn't even hear Babs roll up next to him. He stroked the perfect cheek once more, thinking he was getting clumsy in his old age.

"Hey." She sounded so tired, which wasn't surprising, really.

"Hey. Hey, lookat what we made."

"Yawn Pretty remarkable, really. Have you thought of a name yet?"

Dick looked at her, surprised. "You were serious?"

"Yeah, I was serious. I want you to name her!"

"Babs, you should be in bed. You should be in the hospital, but that's besides the point."

"A name, Grayson. I'm a librarian at heart, I can't stand the idea that she's walking around label-less."

"Fortunately, Babs, she isn't walking around!"

"Grayson..."

"Angel." He couldn't stop looking at her, she was so perfect and beautiful, and she... no, she couldn't have any part of him in her, she was too good!

"Yeah. She is so gorgeous!"

"No. That's her name. She's our Angel, and we'll let the whole world know." He couldn't believe how different everything today was. Yesterday... it felt like he had been born today.

"Angel Gordon. That's fantastic." Babs slid an arm through Dick's arm and hugged it.

Dick turned to her and raised an eyebrow.

She sighed. "Yes, alright, Angel Grayson-Gordon. I still say that sounds stupid."

"I don't care. I had a minuscule, completely insignificant part in creating this wondrous creature, and dammit! I'll be recognized."

Babs' soft laughter caressed him. "Well, Grayson, your part may have been minuscule up to now, but I am completely bushwhacked. I know we discussed this, and I don't want to push, but I was kinda hoping..."

"Babs, you might as well plan on keeping the sofa bed out for the foreseeable future, because I'm not going anywhere just yet."

Babs sighed again. "Thanks. What about the 'haven?"

"I'll take maternity leave. From the job that pays maternity leave."

She laughed again. "They'll let you do that?"

"They don't give a rats ass about my social life. The less they know, the happier they are. I'll tell 'em my partner and I are becoming parents. Which is true. I kinda already laid the groundwork."

Babs yawned again, and Dick tore his eyes away from his Angel long enough to pull Babs into his lap. "I'm guessing you wouldn't let me put you down tonight anyway, right?"

"So... right, boy wonder..."

Dick cradled Babs closer than she ever would've allowed if she was awake, and reached a hand out to Angel again. His Angels, he thought with a grin.





Dick stretched out on the blanket they had brought to the park with them and yawned. It had been one hell of an afternoon, but Angel was finally tired, and napping, so he could finally relax. Tim watched, as he had watched his friend at every opportunity for what felt like his whole life, and repeated his promise to himself.

"Bet you're wishing you had turned me down on the picnic in the park with the toddler now!" Dick joked; he always joked.

"Nah. I haven't had much chance to play with you guys lately, with school ending and stuff. I can't believe how big she is! I remember the first time you left her alone with Bruce and me, and we almost smothered her!"

Dick chuckled with the memory. He wouldn't have believed it possible for two people to make such a mess over changing a baby. "And I only left you alone for twenty minutes!"

Tim smiled, soaking in the sun, letting his belly digest the huge lunch Dick had packed, and just generally enjoying this moment. "And now she's walking and talking and doing cartwheels..."

Dick groaned. There were some obvious disadvantages to having acrobatics in the gene pool. "I was not this much trouble as a kid, I know it!"

"No! You were much, much worse!" Tim loved needling his 'big brother.' If he could just do it and still shake the 'little brother' thing...

"No. I was perfect. I'm sure of it."

"Yeah, a perfect circus brat, in other words, hell on earth!"

"Are you insulting my proud circus heritage boy wonder? I can kick your ass, you know." Tim winced at the 'boy wonder,' he couldn't help it.

"Not a boy wonder anymore. Hung up the tights, remember."

Dick sat up now. "Yeah, I remember. And, well, I'm proud of you. That can't have been easy. But you have so many talents, skills... Frankly, I'm glad you're not risking your ass every night for the ungrateful masses. So have you decided which highly prestigious medical school you will be gracing with your presence?"

Tim chuckled, once, but was glowing inside from what Dick had said. "Well, I have so many choices... but only one in Gotham. And it wouldn't have been quite so hard to hang up the tights if Bruce hadn't replaced me so quickly..."

"Hey!" And in a flash, Dick was in front of him, his hand on Tim's jaw. Tim couldn't repress the shudder. Today, he told himself, a heady mantra that only increased the magic of the day. "Terry is NOT your replacement. And I know, personally, how tough it is to see someone else in the spot you had. But it's onward and upward, Timmy. This is just the beginning, and you have to leave the other stuff behind sometimes. It hurts, but it's necessary for things to move forward. And moving forward, can, on occasion, be a good thing." Dick was smiling softly, his thumb rubbing gently the skin at Tim's jawline, his voice like the gently summer breeze around them. Tim wanted to cry with joy.

"Thanks. That means... thanks. So! What's new with you? Seeing anyone?" Tim was truly proud of himself, that last one came out all ordinary-like.

"Nah. Single queers with a kid married to their careers, oddly, are not a hot commodity. Go fig."

Tim shook his head. The thing that always made him fall in love with Dick over and over again was how totally clueless he could be. Did the boy not own a mirror, that he could think he wasn't a hot commodity?!?

"How about you? You know, now that I think about it, I don't think I know anything about your love life! Why is that?"

Tim burned bright, and cherished the innocent wonder of Dick's question. "Well. There's never been much... I mean, I've dated a little, but. I'm a pretty private guy, you know." Tim was going for aloof and mysterious, and hoped he didn't succeed at goofy and stupid.

"Yeah. Ok, so, is it you just haven't had time? Haven't met the right girl? Met her but she turned out to be an international thief?"

Tim looked at Dick for a second, indecisive. He had promised himself today, but... "Why are you assuming girl? I'd'a thought you'd be the last person to make that assumption."

Dick sucked in a breath hard. "Are you trying to tell me something here, Tim?" His mind raced. Tim wasn't gay, was he? Suddenly, Dick felt very remiss in his duty to his li'l bro.

Was Tim trying to tell Dick something? Yes or no, cuz now is the moment, Drake... "Maybe. You seem surprised." Ah, deflection, always a good move... idiot.

"I'm... are you playing with me? Cuz you've got me in a tailspin, one way or another."

Tim looked hard at Dick. The sun was melting into the horizon, the colors of the sky blending and twisting into one another. A full day of play and companionship and eating well rested within them. A small bundle of pure joy rested at their side, just beginning to stir. Now or never, now or never, the new mantra for the moment. "I love you." Dear God, had he said that!

Dick looked at Tim, insensible. Did he just say... "Tim?"

"Relax, relationship wonder. I don't expect you to fall at my feet, ecstatic. I just... It's been a long time. A really long time. I've valued your friendship, your teaching, your leadership. And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with you. I watched you get hurt, again and again. I watched you pick yourself up again and start over. I've seen you overcome your fear and become a parent. And now, I'm setting aside some of my 'things of a child' and moving on, as you said. And, well, I figured I could do that best by coming clean, so to speak. But, Christ, breathe Grayson! Nothing's changed, I mean, nothing's changed for me. I've felt this way for a long time and I'm going to keep feeling this way for a long time, and I just wanted to let you know. That's all. Nothing else."

Angel, being well-named, picked that moment to roll over and wake up. And then they had to pack up clear out of the park before dark. Dick had to get back for a job that night.

So, it was two days later before he let himself think about what Tim had said. It just seemed too incredible. It had never occurred to Dick before that Tim might be gay, or interested in guys since he hadn't really ascertained that Tim was gay. Couldn't believe that Tim was interested in him. Tim knew his history, his story, as it were. What the hell was he thinking?

More than anything, Dick didn't want to hurt his li'l bro, which was, oddly, why he was even considering this. But... did he think of Tim as a brother? friend? dear god, lover?!?

Too weird! It couldn't work, couldn't. He had helped raise Tim, practically, this couldn't work.

But.

Well.

He had said that to Babs, and when he finally shut up, they had had Angel, the sole source of pure joy in his life.

He had said that to Joey, once, too, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. And Joey had just shook his head, pulled Dick close and kissed him. Dick sighed. That was such a magical memory!

Garth had told him it couldn't work, and it didn't. Years later, and their friendship still had strain to it.

He had told Bruce it couldn't work, and it didn't. Bruce couldn't lead him, not without chains and bruises, and so it had taken years to get back the camaraderie that had once seemed inborn to them.

Maybe...

He had always known that he needed to be lead in matters of the heart. Should he...

He thought about Tim, about his strength, his genius, because Dick was convinced that Tim was a genius. His compassion. His determination. His eyes when he told him he loved him...

The way Tim was with Angel, so patient, so loving, so enthusiastic...

With a shaking hand, he picked up the phone.





"Hello?"

"Hey Timmy."

"Dick! What's up?"

"Um... I, uh. Well. So. Uh."

"Dick? Those aren't words."

"I was thinking about asking you out on a date. But I just realized that I don't know how to do that."

"Date? or ask?"

"Um. Well, I have the general idea of dating down. I remember doing that a long time ago, back before I started going grey."

"Ah, back in the stone ages."

"Brat."

"So are you asking me out or insulting me?"

"Um. The first."

"You are truly lame, you know that?"

"Um. Yeah."

"sigh Fine! Hey Dick, I was wondering, would you like to go out with me sometime?"

"sigh yes. How about tomorrow?"

"Ooh, tomorrow's no good, that's the night I work the catwalks at 'Flashy's'."

"Huh?!?"

"You are too easy!"

"Not the first time I've heard that..."

"Well, that's encouraging!"

"Tim!!!!"

"What?"

"sigh Tomorrow? I'll pick you up at six, maybe see some arty flick at the bijou in the 'village', some dinner, maybe dancing?"

"Wow. Dinner, movie, and dancing. You are such a traditionalist!"

"Is that a yes?"

"Yes. But make it six-thirty. I have to go to the hospital tomorrow to set up my schedule."

"Fine. And Tim? Thanks."

"For...?"

"... Everything."





The evening was both comfortable and strange. Comfortable because the two men, and they were both men, Dick realized, were already the closest of friends. Strange, because it was as if Tim had flashed him in the park the other day, and now Dick was watching, mesmerized, as each layer of Tim's hidden self was revealed. He was stunned.

So much so that by the time he was walking Tim home, he was simply staring at the amazing person who was with him. Tim tried to ignore, or joke, about the scrutiny, but as time went on, the heavy gaze of his date was tearing at his defenses.

Finally, as they reached the shaded and secluded entryway of Tim's townhouse, he had to ask. "What?"

Dick blinked. "Hmm?"

"You've been staring." Tim tried to sound accusing, but it probably came off more as apologetic.

Dick squared himself, straight in front of Tim, his solid beautiful form closer and getting closer still than Tim had ever reasonably allowed himself to believe possible. The small wrinkle at the corner of Dick's eye and the soft expression in the sapphire pools, the way his mouth twitched and pressed, the gently moving hand that caressed the curls that tickled his ear and the thumb that drew circles on his jaw and cheek. These were all so much more than Tim had ever allowed himself to hope for, they inspired him to jump into Dick's arms, wrap every limb around that lean, perfect body, and pour himself into every crevice and crease. It was a testament to the teachings of the bat that he managed to stay upright.

Then Dick kissed him.

Not the kiss of a brother, which he'd had so many times before, or the tentative kiss of a first date, but the tender embrace of a lover. Now Tim was in trouble.

A breath away, Dick whispered so the words thundered in Tim's ears, "I'm seeing you for the first time."





Sex on the beach, Tim decided, was really really wonderful, as long as one had a very thick, large beach towel. Tim didn't even care that Dick's closest and oldest friends were less than thirty feet away on the beach. Well, he didn't care much.

It was impossible, but he couldn't stop encouraging Dick. He meant to discourage, to say no, but his hands kept making a circuit down the muscular back, rub and squeeze slightly the perfect ass, back up via the flanks, to massage the shoulders and run down the arms. Medical school was taking far, far too much of his time away from this amazing body... His thighs rolled Dick's thigh between them, his lips and tongue hungry for the taste and feel of his lover's mouth, his body rolling between the soft, giving sand below and the hard, giving body above. He was sure to go mad.

And Dick's friends were so close! But then, so was he... In just a minute, he was going to tear a hole in his swim trunks, and his only consolation was that Dick was, if possible, even harder and more eager than he was.

Their climax felt like a tsunami hitting the shore. He shuddered and whimpered, grasped the shoulders above feebly, begged and murmured endearments, and soaked in the last remnants of his lover's pleasure. He didn't see the sunshine, the shimmering ocean, or feel the warm breeze, but he knew what a perfect day it was anyway.

Strangely, the sex had only made Tim hungrier for more. Caressing and gentling the writhing form on top of him, he whispered in the ear close enough to kiss and taste, "I wanna be in you..."

That's when the bucket of cold water hit them.

Dick somehow managed to pull himself off of his lover long enough to glare at Roy. "Do you mind?"

"Actually, I do. There are impressionable children on the beach you know!"

"You left Lian with the sitter. Unless you were referring to yourself?"

"Actually, I was referring to Wally. There's still a lot he doesn't know about 's', 'e', 'x', and this is a fairly traumatic way for him to learn!"

By this time, Tim and Dick had both accepted the fact that they were not, as they might have hoped, on the beach by themselves. They started pulling each other up, arranging limbs to increase contact and hide possible further embarrassment.

"Oh, leave them alone, Harper, just cuz you aren't getting any..." Wally grumbled.

Tim got a good look at the group for the first time since they had dropped down the towel. He loved Dick's friends, really, especially Roy, oddly, they were all so great. Roy and Dick spent a lot of time together, both with daughters and all, and Tim found him to be the perfect mood-lifter, no matter what the situation. Besides that, he was a great father and one of the most loyal people he knew. Wally was just plain fun, and the Flash, which despite himself, still impressed Tim. Donna was great, too, like a mother. He didn't want to take advantage of her nurturing nature, but still, she was always ready to listen. And that only left Garth in the beach outing. Tim wanted to like Garth, but the memory of Dick's pain and the slight jealousy that couldn't be prevented when thinking of one of your boyfriend's ex-lovers made it difficult. Still, he knew Garth was a good and wonderful person (at least, that was what Dick would say when prompted) and Tim didn't want to hurt him by throwing their relationship in Garth's face. Between medical school and Dick's dual careers, though, he felt like he barely got to see Dick, so any chance he got, he took.

Although all he wanted was to wrap that perfect ass around his cock, the day was actually really great and relaxing. They played sports, sunned, swam, and generally had a good time. And Tim was never more than reaching distance away from Dick. His definition of a good day.

At night, they had a barbeque of lots of different roasted vegetables, which Tim actually appreciated since he was starting to consider vegetarianism. Would probably never be able to convince Dick, though, since he was grumbling about the lack of hot dogs.

He was using his lover as a beach chair, though, so they might have been eating damp cardboard, it was all good.

Garth's eyes followed them, occasionally though, and that bothered Tim, because he felt like he was flaunting.

They told stories around a bonfire, and Dick's hands traced ancient patterns across Tim's chest, conjuring sweet magic.

When everyone was packing up, and Tim was dousing the fire, he found himself alone with Garth.

Garth's eyes were intense, and Tim felt really sorry for him.

After a few awkward moments, and a quick glance which confirmed it would be few minutes before any relief, Tim decided to try to say something real.

"Look. I'm sorry if it was difficult today. Um. You know. Watching, um. us."

Garth lifted his head and really looked at Tim. "No reason to apologize. Honestly."

Tim cleared his throat. "Well, I mean. This. This probably isn't the right thing to say but, it could have been you in my spot today, and I know how hard it can be. Watching. I remember that." Oh, yes, he would never forget that.

Garth smiled a little, and looked away. "Perhaps. I have regretted from time to time. But rather than inspiring regret, today confirms my course."

Tim just looked at Garth perplexed. How could anyone not regret losing Dick?

Garth smiled indulgently now. "Timothy. Love like yours does not grow overnight. I left from fear, and for a long time regretted the pain the fear created, for both of us. But, I know now that fate was against the match. You and he are like a hand and glove. No room for anything in between."

Tim laughed, a little, ironically. "But back then there was no him and I. And if you had stuck with him..." Why was he pursuing this? What was the point?

"Mmm. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I've known Dick since we were both children. I've seen him in love with his mentor, and the way that love practically tore him apart from the inside. I've seen him in love with Joseph. And how that love loomed over him, it's shadow inspiring so much doubt he was lost in it. I've seen him in... something... with me. And how that, whatever it was, was such a comfortable part of his life that it disappeared in the crevices. And now I see him with you."

"And?" Tim was glad for the night, though the moon was bright, so Garth couldn't see him shiver. Although, with his Atlantean eyesight...

Garth looked over the young lover of his best and dearest friend. "And now his heart is free. The cage it was kept in for so long, gone. You don't see it because you never saw him with anyone else. His passion with you is such a free thing. I've never seen it before."

Tim looked out to where the rest of the group was finishing up packing, and probably a little roughhousing, since Dick, Roy, and Wally always seemed to revert to their pre-pubescence around each other. "Garth. What was he like with Joey? What. What was Joey like?"

Garth took a deep breath, and looked out to his ocean. "What was he like with Joseph? Deeply in love, deeply happy, probably for the first time in his life since his parents had died. Scared. All the time. Terrified of losing him. Joseph was so in love with Dick, how could he not be?, but couldn't chase away the fear. And Joseph was. Strong. Caring. Gentle. He was the opposite of the bat." And Garth just shrugged, like that was all that was left to say.

Then the rest rejoined, and soon, Tim and Dick were in their car, finally and completely, alone.

Dick was chatting, and getting ready to start the car. Tim just watched him, looking for signs. Was he free? Was this different, better than what Dick had had before? Was this going to... And Tim realized. This was going to last. Forever. Tim was suddenly filled with... lust.

The next thing Dick knew, he had a lap full of medical student, kissing and caressing and generally driving him crazy.

"Tim! Can't you wait 'til we get home?!?"

"Mmmmmmm.... No, that's a twenty minute drive. And I've wanted to be in you all day!"





Tim trudged up the stairs to the bedroom as if he was carrying twenty-ton weights on each leg. There were long nights, really long nights, and then there was tonight. Fifty gangbangers, streetpeople, and innocent bystanders came through the clinic all at once. They lost about half of them, another dozen or so were in critical condition, and all of them were going to need a lot of care for a while to come. It was like being a doctor on the front lines. He had been up to his elbows in blood more often than not. He was ready for a long, long rest, before heading back to help with the follow-ups. Hopefully, Dick would still be up. Or, at least, up-able. He needed cuddlin'.

Dick was most certainly up. It didn't look like he was going to be cuddlin' any time soon, though.

"God. Tonight must have been awful! Let me help." Well, even if he was in a killer of a bad mood, he was still being loving and caring. Tim counted his blessings, and let Dick lay him on the bed, take off his shoes and socks, and rub his feet. Tim was married to the God of Footrubs. He musta've been a virgin sacrifice in some previous life to deserve this!

"Ahhhhh.... before I melt into a pile of goo... you'd better tell me what's wrong so I can fix it, and then melt. Mmmmmm"

Dick's brow did that cute furrow thing, and his thumbs pressed harder into the instep of the foot he held. "I was at the big thing in Gotham tonight. I thought of you, actually. Worried." He sighed, and was getting into that I'm - trying - to - be - the - bat - but - I - get - laid - too - often - to - really - pull - it - off mode. Tim was going to have to put some effort into this.

"Really? I knew it was big, but I didn't realize they'd have to pull in the Bludhaven guns."

Another sigh. "Angel was there. In a crappy batgirl getup. She's in her bedroom here, now. Babs was so mad... She said some things, anyway, it was better that we were both out her line of fire." Oh, fuck. Tim knew this day was going to come, but this wasn't the way he had hoped it would go down. Well, nothing to do but bite the bullet.

"Oh. She shouldn't have gone out unsupervised like that." The hands holding his feet stopped, and then his feet fell to the bed.

"You knew! You dirty little... How could you!"

"Dick..."

Dick was off the bed and pacing. "Tim. She was out there, on her own, in the middle of a fucking war zone! Fighting!"

"Dick, I know,..."

"You know! You know. She's my chikni! And you...! How could you encourage this? How could you do this to me!"

Tim painfully pulled himself up to a sitting position, and leaned back on the bedframe. "Dick, first of all, despite what you and Babs may think, I, and Angel, didn't do this to you, this isn't about you. And have you ever successfully talked anyone out of doing this? Ever?"

"Tim. God, Tim. She... she was hurt."

The doctor and kinda-parent in Tim suddenly came to full alert. "She was? How bad? How come I haven't seen her yet! Where..."

"Tim, Tim, relax, it was a surface wound, Bruce patched her up and she'll be as good as new some time soon. But... but. seeing her. with blood on a batgirl suit...!" Dick was near tears now, and despite his own exhaustion, Tim wanted nothing more than to tend and care for his love. Damn, he was the mother in their relationship...

"Dick. Look at me. There's nothing either of us can tell her, nothing anyone can tell her that will talk her out this. The only thing we can do is teach her what we know."

"Tim..." The tears started now. "Tim, she's my little chikni. She's too young...!"

"She's about, oh, let's see, three years older than you were when you started the tights gig. Same age I was. Were we too young?"

"It was different, you and I. I had lost my parents! And you.. you..."

"Spent too much time watching the night-time news as a kid." Dick got onto the bed and curled up to Tim.

"I can't lose her, ves'tacha. She's means everything to me. I can't stand the thought of her out there, in those streets..."

Tim wrapped his arms around his love, and held him as close he could. "Dick. I want you to cast your mind back, oh, let's see, about 21 years, you had just been shot by the Joker, and suddenly Bruce is telling you that you can't be Robin anymore. Actually listen this time to what he is saying. About keeping you safe, about you being too young to decide, about him not letting it happen. I know there was a ton of subtext going on that doesn't translate here, but still. You and Babs might be able to keep her off the streets for a while. But you can't do it forever. There's only one way to keep her safe, and that's to teach her. There are worse things than her being a superhero, you know."

"Yeah? sniff"

"Yeah. She could be gay. Could you imagine, living her life with the blind prejudice, the fear, the government and all the major religions discriminating against her?"

"Ha. funny. boy jokester."

"Dick. You've said it a thousand times, and it's true. The world is not safe, at least we are in control of our own destiny, to a much higher degree than most people. I see it all the time, Dick. It's what I do for a living, patch up the people life fucked over. 3/4 of the people I saw tonight have nothing to do with the Joker/Two-Face blood legacy. They were just living their lives, and a lot of them died. We can't say no to her about what she's going to do with her life. We can only give her what she needs to make that choice, and be here for her so that when she falls, she'll come to us for help."

Tim waited, and held, and petted, hoping that his love would understand. And forgive him.

"Babs said it was my fault. 'Her father's daughter,' she said. Like it was a bad thing. This is my fault, ves'tacha, I inspired this..." Tim's heart clenched at the mere suggestion that someone might slight his love, might suggest that his love was any thing less than the fantastic and wonderful father he was...!

"Dick. Listen carefully. I love Babs, but she can be a real bitch sometimes. She calls the bat a control freak. Jesus. Please, please, love. You are the shining knight of my dreams, the most wonderful person I've ever known, the person I've most admired for so long. I won't let you think for even a second that if your chikni grew up to be half the person that you are that it would be bad! You've inspired her? Hell, yeah! So has Babs, Miss Sit - in - my - tower - and - guard - the - world! How many times has Babs' impregnable tower been tested, by the government, Blockbuster, every kook smart enough to work a modem, Darkseid! Angel is her father's daughter! And her mother's! And she's a damn lucky little girl!"

Dick shifted and turned, pulled up and kissed his ves'tacha, hard, long, and deep. Resting his forehead on the much-wiser forehead of his love, he whispered, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!"

"Oh, love. Don't thank me. I should have told you when she came to me, but... I knew how you'd react, and I guess I chickened out. I mean, I know how you feel, I mean, she's not my daughter..."

"Hey!" Dick pulled his head up to look in Tim's eyes, and caressed the beautiful face he loved so dearly. "We've been through this! There isn't anything of mine that isn't yours, and God knows, you've spent more time with her than I have, and besides. You love her as I do, as Babs does. What else matters?"

"Ah, love. I wish I had the strength to act on how I feel right now..."

"snicker Yeah, me too. I'm still scared."

They cuddled close, kissing and petting, 'til sleep and exhaustion mixed to take them to sleep, despite themselves.

Outside their door, Angel sat on the ground, hugging her knees. The night had been the most amazing roller coaster, her emotions taking her everywhere from joy to fear to anger, with about fifty stops in between. Now, she was feeling something she hadn't felt yet; guilt. She hadn't understood how her father and mother had felt until now. She thanked her lucky blessings for Tim. She wished she could have burst into the room and seconded her father's declaration to her other father, but that would have revealed her eavesdropping. She cried quietly, and promised herself that she would do this their way, no matter how frustrating it was, and then she would make them so proud of her!





Dick shifted and stretched until he found the magic position in which he felt no pain. He sighed, and settled a grimace on his face, knowing Tim would be coming in soon, and hoping that if he looked grumpy enough, he would eventually be allowed to leave the damned bed.

Tim swung into the room, took in the grimace, made a face, and soon, despite himself, Dick was grinning. There were times when Dick cursed his capricious love's ability to turn even the darkest mood bright.

"Feeling better this morning?" "Much. A thousand times, actually. Ready to get out of this bed, actually..." Dick tried to lie smoothly, but ended up looking just past Tim.

"Ah. Funny, you've never been anxious to get out of bed before..." Tim sidled up on the bed, putting his arm around Dick, and prepared to feed him breakfast. Dick scowled, but eventually relented.

"So, when will you let me out of bed?"

"I get to decide? Fab! Get comfy Grayson, cuz you ain't ever gettin' out!"

Dick tried to scowl again, but there were pleasant images interrupting his bad mood.

Tim kissed Dick's forehead, and fussed over him. Horrible images covered and colored with blood kept superimposing themselves over the image of his love. His heart ached and ached, but he did his bedside manner thing anyway. Someday, the image of Dick's body with a sawed-off tire iron sticking out of his chest, blood everywhere, and nothing but pain painted over the beautiful face, someday, that would go away. Someday.

"Garth and Donna are coming to visit today."

Dick started scowling again, for real.

"I don't want to see anyone. I told you that."

"Dick. You've been home for two weeks now, and you've hardly seen anyone. How am I supposed to believe you are feeling better if you won't see people?"

Dick sighed. "I just... I'm not a good patient." Tim snorted. "Well, yeah. I just don't want to see people, yet. Especially Titans."

Tim sighed. "Dick, give it up. They all figured out you were human years ago. They're worried about you! You're being selfish."

"Selfish!" Dick tried to move to look at Tim, indignant, but it hurt too much. "I'm being selfish?!"

"Yeah. These are your friends, the people who love you. How many people have you seen since you got hurt? Bruce came by the hospital, but you won't let him in here. Terry and Cas came by yesterday, and you turned them away. You wouldn't even take the call from Babs! It's time to stop pouting. Garth and Donna have come all the way from New York, and you aren't turning them away. You will sit here, and sulk, and Donna will fuss, and Garth will sit by you and look real intense, and eventually, a good time will be had by all."

Dick just glared.

"Oh, come on. Stop being a baby. You should be counting your lucky stars that you're still alive. I know I am." Dick relented, and leaned towards Tim.

"Ah, I'm sorry ves'tacha, I can't help it. I feel so... useless lying here."

Tim kissed the top of Dick's head again, and rested his cheek against the soft hair. "Well, you are pretty useless. You never do the dishes, you never clean up after yourself in the bathroom, you drink all the milk the day I bring it home, and you've been working as Inspector in the 'haven for 8 years at the same salary when you could clearly have made Bruce's fortune twelve times by now in bribery alone! Still, whenever I can get you lying down, I can always think of a few chores for you to do..."

Dick sighed, a deeper sigh, and snuggled closer. "Speaking of which, it has been a while..."

"Dick!"

"I don't have total mobility, but that doesn't mean we can't do stuff."

"Dick!" Tim couldn't help the joyous laughter.

"Stuff can be fun. If you brace yourself in the right spot, I can do stuff for you, too!"

Now Tim was laughing outright. He was so, so glad they had never gotten too old or tired for the hot lust they had. "You! are incorrigible. And stubborn. And cute, really really cute. And believe me, I've missed that tight ass..."

Dick traced a hand up where ever it would reach. "It's missed you, too..."

Tim leaned over to kiss his love, and pushed back the panic that had been striking him since the night Dick came into the 'war clinic', bloodied and damn near broken. He had been the only doc with 'clearance' at first, and it was all he could do to keep himself together, trying to remember what was necessary to keep the vitals going. Finally, a replacement doc had come by, and Tim let go, just collapsing against the wall, sobbing and thrashing, too scared to even think, not wanting to think, really.

Dick stopped the kiss, worried. "What?"

"I'm sorry, I, well, I can't stop seeing..."

"Oh, ves'tacha. I'm sorry, so sorry, a thousand times, I never, ever wanted to put you through that!" Dick did his best at holding Tim, but it wasn't easy.

Tim put his hand on the bandage covering a too-large section of Dick's chest. "Don't apologize. I knew who you were for years before I fell in love with you. It's just been so long, and it's never been so close..."

Words failed, and they did their best to comfort each other, with light caresses, kisses, and meaningless endearments whispered into each other's ears.

A soft knock at the door barely interrupted them. "Dad? Tim? Can I come in?"

"Angel. Come in." Tim answered while rearranging themselves in a slightly more discrete position.

"Hey, Daddy. How you doing today?" Angel had come by every morning, the only visitor Dick had, one that he welcomed with mostly open arms, best he could with his injury.

"Much better. Some day the warden's even promised to let me go, if I behave." Angel gingerly sat on the side of the bed, and raised a hand to her father's chest. The image of his badly beaten body on the ground, heaving with the effort to stay alive was indelibly burned into her brain. It still amazed her more than anything that she had ever seen that despite his nearly life-threatening injury, her father had still managed to bring down Kestrl, the insane genetically-enhanced genius chained to the rafters with electrostatic chain. How he managed to do that with a tire iron in his chest, she'd never know, but she knew he was the greatest hero ever. Bar none.

"Oh, no prob, then, cuz he's always pleased with your behavior." Light laughter trickled through all three of them.

"Daddy." Dick was endlessly amused that for the first time ever, his Angel was calling him Daddy! "I have... something to ask you."

"Oh?"

She cleared her throat, and tried to meet her father's eye. "I, well. I know you always say that the colors you wear aren't important, it's how much kevlar you have that matters. But. I've decided on colors that I want to wear. I. Well. It's." A deep breath. "I would be truly honored if you would give me your blessings to be Nightwing. I know I'm still young, but I'd like to continue in your footsteps, pick up the good fight here. You've already done so much for the 'haven, more than any one person has ever done for any city, I'd bet. I just want to keep up the good fight in your name. I'd like to continue your quest. With your blessing, of course."

Angel's searching eyes were dark and stormy, like the ocean on a summer's night. The soft fall of curly black hair was highlighted by the sunshine, colors that were and were not a part of her palate shading the rich hair. Dick was having trouble breathing, he had never, ever known such agony. His body wracked with his inner sobs, and his head and hand twitched to find his ves'tacha. The briefest glance at Tim, and he calmed enough to say, "Nothing could fill me with more pride, chikni."

Angel let out a cry of joy, and hugged her father, exclaimed all forms of thanks, which sounded pale in Dick's bleeding ears.

Tim gently wrenched Angel off of Dick, and smiled earnestly. "Your father needs rest, now, love. He's only half as strong as he thinks he is."

She smiled, and wiped the tears away, and kissed her daddy on the forehead. "I love you so much, Daddy. I will make you proud, I swear!"

Dick brushed his hand against her face, and whispered, "You don't have to make me, I already am, chikni."

When she was gone, Dick turned to Tim, and completely ignored the pain, as he buried his face in his lover's chest. "Oh, ves'tacha, ves'tacha, I, I, I mean I knew, intellectually, but... but... I didn't..."

Tim nuzzled the head below him, and murmured, "Love, I know, I do, I know. I chose to stop, but still, it hurt so much to know it was over, that I had left behind that. And to see someone else in the suit..."

"Oh. I don't care what colors she wears, it doesn't matter. I just can't believe, all this time, I've worked so hard, and I tried so hard, and, and, and, it's not fair, Bruce is 14 years older than me, and he's still wearing the damn cowl, and, I, It's over and I've failed..."

Tim pulled the beloved body close, and wept with his love. He waited patiently for the worst of the sobs to cease, and thought carefully over what he was going to say. "Dick, love, my beloved. You will never be a vigilante again, that's true. But, you have had a long and, in some circles, storied career, more friends than anyone else in the biz, you have done more for this bumfucking town than anyone else ever. And, you have a daughter that anyone would be proud of, who loves and adores you, and wants to be you someday, so you can't be that bad since she's so smart. And, best of all? Dick? Do you know the best of all?"

Dick sniffed and looked up a bit. "You? Do I have you?"

Tim chuckled, and caressed his love a bit more. "Well, I always tell people that I have you, but this isn't the time for a semantic argument. I love you, my hero, always my hero."

Dick pushed himself further into his love. "Ves'tacha."

They just held each other, comforting each other's fears, caring gently for each other's pain.

"Timmy?"

Smile. "Yeah?"

"Are you still gonna make me see Donna and Garth."

Deeper smile. "I'll tell them you need more sleep."

Deeply satisfied sigh. "Thank you."





'kay, last li'l note - big thanks to Maverick and Dark Angel for their wicked cool website (www.angelfire.com/pe/nnyworth/index.html - go, it's fun!), with the Romany links. Very helpful! (chikni means daughter, by the by) and, um, a big "I'm sorry!" to Maverick for stealing a little from Fraternity. i tried, i DID, but i couldn't think of any other endearment of Dick's for Tim that sounded 'right'. it's just because that's such a fab story, ya know, so really it's all your fault... ; )






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