title: Inspired By
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick/OMC, Dick/Barbara, implied Dick/Bruce, Dick/OMC/OFC, implied Dick/Garth, Tim, Alfred, Gordon
rating: Mature
warnings: angst, sex, tattooing, threesoming
summary: The story of Nightwing from the animated series--the part we didn't see on tv.
notes: this was inspired by a message posted on the dc comics nightwing mb, at bottom.
continuity: squarely in the animated series, so remember that when timmy shows up! also, i'm assuming bab's is a couple of years younger than dick. just the impression that i get from my obsessive watching and rewatching of the show.
this story is chronological, and refers to events in 'Old Wounds' and (i guess) 'Sins of the Father' and the comics 'the Lost Years.'

"I adore you."

The term paper finished, their books were still strewn all over the cubby in the now desolate corner of the GSU library. The computer was turned off, but they were both too tired to gather up all their things and go to their respective homes, so they had fallen into a light, fairly random conversation. Dick had really enjoyed working with Matthew on this project. He still didn't have many friends, lots of people who liked to hang around him, but not many friends. He looked up into his friend's suddenly panicked eyes, with an expression he couldn't have guessed, since he had no idea how he was reacting.

"Oh! God, no, that's not, I mean, I didn't, I do, but I wasn't..."

Matthew actually sounded a bit afraid, and it damn near broke Dick's heart to hear it. Was this how he was supposed to be reacting to this?

Dick put his hand over Matthew's, and said, "Relax. I'm not... well, I'm just surprised, I guess. I didn't even know you were gay. Please, I'm... well, I'm.... flattered. Really." Now they were both nervous.

Was he just tired? Was that why all this seemed so surreal? This didn't feel strange, which seemed strange.

Matthew took a few deep breathes, cursing himself for his impetuousness, and thanking whatever was out there to be thanked that Dick hadn't blown up at him. He shouldn't press his luck though.

Lifting his head to glance at the kind, tolerant, gorgeous face of his friend, he reminded himself that he shouldn't press his luck. His eyes darted down to the broad shoulders, and the small bit of chest exposed at the neck of the shirt. He really shouldn't... what was it he shouldn't do now?

He closed his eyes, and remembered the last time he was at the GSU gym, and Dick was on some of the gymnastic equipment, flying, in those shorts and tank top...

Well, fuck it. You only live once...

Dick was busy trying to think of either an appropriate thing to say or an appropriate thing to feel, when Matthew leaned a little closer and said, "I'm really, really sorry but if I don't, I'll never forgive myself..."

Dick had thought he was still apologizing for his confession, which he had decided was actually really sweet, so he wasn't resisting at all when Matthew's mouth first touched his. The kiss was barely a kiss at all, extremely sexual in it's restraint and it's... promise?

Matthew hadn't really pulled away, but he had started to apologize, when Dick put his hand up to the smooth chin of his friend, and took another kiss. A deeper one. A longer one.

Matthew was a good kisser, and there was something... illicit?... that made Dick's whole body tingle. And thrum.

When they did stop, Matthew was fairly nearly glowing, and Dick was feeling more relaxed than he had in a long, long while. A more momentous feat than Matthew could have ever guessed.

"I... gosh, I should say I'm sorry, but... I, well. Are you, I mean. Could you be attracted to a guy?" Hope was bursting through, but he was trying to remind himself that this was Dick Grayson, a nice guy, gorgeous, that all the female students dreamed about. And an undetermined percentage of the men, too, but let's face it, the boy has plenty of options.

"Funny. A minute ago, I knew the answer to that question." Dick was having trouble thinking straight, then he thought to himself that he was having trouble thinking straight and nearly had a fit of giggles.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you..."

"You haven't." And now his voice sounded sure, normal. "I just... need to think about this. You've... thrown me a curve ball, I need to figure out if I can hit it." A wry smile. Sports analogies always made him more at ease.





Barbara put down her tray, and settled in. She was still adjusting to life at GSU. She had transferred this semester from a school upstate. Her freshman year was turning out to be quite the soap opera, but now she was settling, and being in the same city as her father made it a lot easier to handle just about everything.

So did the guy sitting across from her in the near-deserted cafeteria. She'd known Dick Grayson for years, every huge charity thing her father had dragged her to since she was 9 had been made bearable by the humor and jovial friendship of this man. He was funny, and smart, and challenging, and infuriating, and drop-dead fuck me, please! gorgeous. And it was her father who had suggested that Barbara look him up now that she was at GSU!

Today, though, he looked a little troubled.

"Hey, Dicky, what's up? Psych project still kicking your ass?"

"Naw. Finished it last night. Turned it in already, even, thank God!"

"So spill Grayson. Unload your weary burden."

He sighed. It would be good to talk, and he knew Barb wasn't going to judge him... "Matthew kissed me last night."

"You project partner?"

"Yeah."

"And what did you do?"

He sighed again. "I... I got kissed." Then he shrugged.

"Hmm." Barbara took a bite out of her pizza. "And now you're left wondering..."

"Pretty much. This shouldn't be this complicated, should it?"

She put down her food and settled into really deep conversation mode. And tried desperately to turn off the tv in her head that was playing possible scenarios of Dick and Matthew gettin' cozy. "Well, no, but forestalling the rant about societal mores and their detrimental effects on anyone who doesn't fit perfectly into the mold... It is complicated, so just take it one step at a time. Did you like kissing him?"

Dick squirmed a little. He recognized this voice. This I'm - not - letting - go - until - we've - solved - this voice. "I... yes. Yes. It was... it was a good kiss."

"Relax Grayson, it's ok. So, you liked kissing him. Fine. That, in and of itself, doesn't mean anything. Kissing is pleasurable, that's why people do it. Though, I hesitate to point out, if you were 100% heterosexual, you probably wouldn't have enjoyed it. At least not sober." She had only a passing memory of what Matthew looked like, so the tv in her head had replaced Matthew with Ewan McGregor. She had to admit, they looked really cute together, all cuddly...

Dick just slumped in his seat a little, giving his pasta a forlorn look.

"Of course, who really is 100% heterosexual? The question now becomes, is this an aspect of who you are that you need to explore, to fully realize, or is this just part of the background?"

Dick tried to say something, but was at a loss. How was he supposed to answer this?

Barbara took pity on the near-misery Dick seemed to be wallowing in. Clearly, this wasn't something they could figure out in a lunch-time conversation. She reached across the table and took both of his hands in her's. "Dick, really, it's ok. Look at me. It's ok, one way, the other, or the other. It's fine!" She had managed to tease a little smile from him. "Maybe... maybe this is something you could discuss with Bruce?... Maybe that would... help?"

Dick snorted. He imagined it, he and Batman on a roof, scanning the area on a stake out. He turns to his mentor and idol, and says, "Um, can we talk? It's just, a lot is going on right now. I'm on my own now, and I'm trying to find myself... and I'm.... I'm confused because.... Look. This guy kissed me and it was a good kiss and it got me all... and now I've been thinking about this a lot and I'm starting to have dreams... Please. I really need some help. I don't know who I am anymore."

Batman turns to him, fixes him with a unwavering gaze, and then says, "What does this have to do with the Morini bust? You need to focus, chum. Otherwise, you'll just make a mistake that will get you killed."

"Bruce can't help me." Even he was surprised at how bitter he sounded.

Barbara started, and then squeezed Dick's hands tighter. "Maybe Alfred?"

Dick imagined it. Sitting in the kitchen, eating cookies, and drinking milk, then finally Alfred sits down to enjoy just one! with him. Dick swallows hard, and works up his courage, and says "Um, can we talk? It's just, a lot is going on right now. I'm on my own now, and I'm trying to find myself... and I'm.... I'm confused because.... Look. This guy kissed me and it was a good kiss and it got me all... and now I've been thinking about this a lot and I'm starting to have dreams... Please. I really need some help. I don't know who I am anymore."

Alfred's kind eyes never leave his, and he says, "Master Dick. I can easily understand that this must be very confusing. But if you are worried about who you are? Let me tell you. You are a fine, compassionate, humorous man who has been a light of hope for the occupants of this house and most of the people in this city since you were very young. You are intelligent, caring, trustworthy, and whomever wins your heart, whichever gender they may be, will have won a heart that is capable of more love and friendship than anyone probably deserves."

Dick smiled. Yeah, maybe it would be a good time to go home and visit. "Alfred might help. He usually does."

Barbara smiled, and squeezed again. The boyz on the tv in her head were now nearly naked, and looked like they were having a good time. "Dick, sweetie, see? This is going to be fine. I promise." Yup, definitely having a good time.

Dick smiled, and nearly laughed, at Barb's impossible promise. Good friends were the best. "Thanks, Barb. I mean it. This has been... just what I needed." And he leaned over and kissed her cheek, making every other girl, and an unknown percentage of the men, positively green with jealousy. Except the ones sitting behind Dick, who just enjoyed the view.





Matthew and Dick were still laughing, sitting on the couch in Matthew's crowded apartment, a full five minutes after the movie ended. Dick was curled up like a cat, his head very close to where Matthew's shoulder was, feeling nervous, anxious, and content all at once. Plus, it had been a really, really long time since he had indulged in mindless entertainment. This was going to be good for him. Oh, yes...

Matthew felt all tingly. He had barely seen the movie, and frankly felt it was a bit low, but sitting next to Dick, having been out to dinner with him, everything so casual and relaxed, it was giving him a high no man-made substance could reproduce. No matter what else happened, he and Dick were still friends, and that was... well, not without it's merits.

Dick finally stopped laughing, and looked up, feeling very innocent. In truth, his experience in... these matters... was very slim. Actually, until he had entered college, his experience was pretty much nonexistent. His first girlfriend, Lori, was nice and fun, and they had fooled around some. 'Fooled around' being the appropriate expression since they had fumbled and bumbled their way through each even remotely sexual experience. Then, there had been a few casual experiences. Nothing that could really instruct him, though, because, without exception, he had responded to someone who had pursued him. After spending the night so far with Matthew, though, it was clear that his friend wasn't going to make any moves without very clear provocation. Only fair, really, Matthew had already put himself out, so to speak, quite a bit. Now it was Dick's turn.

Dick's stomach was doing quintuple somersaults, he felt flushed and awkward, and he was very nearly breaking into a sweat. He let his hands float up to Matthew's face, just letting the fingertips follow the line of smooth jaw. Then, they both moved, and there was kissing. Good kissing. With tongue. Good, good kissing.

Hands were getting involved now. His hands awkwardly gripping and moving over the body next his. Matthew's more experienced hands pinching and touching and moving in such a way that Dick felt like all his temperature gauges had been flipped to 'overheat.'

Breaking away, they both were breathing heavily and their hands still roamed. Matthew pulled his brain back inside his skull, and working desperately at forming coherent thought. "Dick... Are you sure this is what you want... I mean, you aren't obligated... just because I... I mean, you don't have to, with me, if you would rather be with someone else..."

"There's no one else." Dick had never been so scared. Or elated. This felt just like jumping off a fifty story building. He loved jumping off of fifty story buildings.

"There could be. You could find some other guy... I mean," and Matthew cleared his throat and pulled back a bit, really working his brain, despite his body's pleading that he just shut up already and take advantage. "It feels like this is leading... to more. Like maybe you want to... I guess 'experiment' is the proper term. But, it doesn't have to be me. You... you are very athletic, beautiful... I... I'm not. It's ok, really, if I'm not your type, then it would probably be best..."

"Matthew." Dick punctuated what he was trying to convey by cradling Matthew's face with both hands, gently caressing with his fingertips. "I like you. We are friends, and I don't really have a lot of those. You... you may not be a starter on the football team, but that doesn't mean you aren't attractive. None of the football guys ever inspired me to do this." Punctuated with a light kiss on the lips. "And I'm not really into anonymous sex with people I don't care about. I... can't offer you a relationship. Even if this wasn't my first time, I'm not really... a relationship guy. But..." Another light kiss. "If you are willing..." Another. "I'd really like to experiment with you."

They started kissing again, deep, penetrating kisses, that only made both of them think that there was probably more they could be doing in this experiment. Matthew pulled at the buttons on Dick's shirt, Dick groped near the buttons on Matthew's shirt, and it wasn't too much later that they were both without shirts and quite pleased about that.

"You're shaking."

"Yeah."

"If you aren't sure..."

"I'm scared. Really scared. Please..."

"It's ok."

"Take me. Please, just... do something to me, please..." Dick knew he was practically begging but he just needed to be lead, he was too nervous and frightened and he just needed...

Matthew took both of Dick's hands and drew him to the bed. He pushed Dick back, and leaned over Dick, kissing his face, his mouth, his ears, sucking on the lobes, kissing the throat, sucking and running his teeth over the jugular. Dick nearly bucked, then grabbed handfuls of sheet and tried to hold still. Matthew kissed the collar bone, and then drew circles with his fingers then tongue around Dick's nipples. Now, Dick was moaning and groaning. Matthew ran his hands over Dick's chest, and then down the arms, gasping.

"Wha-huh?"

"Your arms... god, you have such gorgeous arms." Kiss to a nipple. "Really strapping." Kiss to a nipple. "Just... so beautiful!" A tongue across a nipple.

"Matthew!!"

"Yeah?" Teasing smile.

"Tease."

"Ha! I'm not the one who wears bike shorts in the gym!"

"They're... ah... comfortable... they... oooh.... are.... mmmm.... functional.... AH!! Oh, please, Matthew, please, fuck the foreplay, please, please..."

Matthew would have laughed if he wasn't so fucking aroused. He was, by this time, at the waistband of Dick's pants, rubbing his chin against the prominent bulge. He unbuttoned the button, and slid the zipper down oh - so - carefully. When it was down, he took advantage of the access, and slid his hand inside.

Dick screamed, bucked, and starting wriggling, desperate. "Oh, please, now, please...."

Pants and underwear got flung across the room, Matthew hastily pulling his own pants off and then he settled in between Dick's legs and started to kiss his way up Dick's dick, licking and breathing hard and rubbing his nose into the curls at the bottom and rubbing his face into the balls and then licking his way back up, taking the head into his mouth and sucking and nibbling oh - so - gently and oh - so - slowly...

Dick began running over a calming mantra, decided he didn't want to be calm, then started to scream and buck, spewing obscenities and incomprehensible moans...

Matthew put his hand on Dick's waist, leaned up, and amused, "Relax, Grayson! I know what I'm doing, just leave yourself in my quite capable hands..."

Dick grabbed Matthew's face, and said, quite calmly and seriously, "Fuck me. Fuck me now, for the love of God, fuck me..."

The heat that quickly surrounded his cock was unbelievable, so good, so sweet, he worked on resisting motion, then lay boneless when the orgasm ripped through him, unexpected.

Matthew leaned up and kissed him, deep, and Dick realized it was his own come he was tasting, a taste so unexpectedly arousing... He also realized Matthew must have been jerking off at the same time, because his hand and chest were also covered... So Dick dipped his head down and licked, hesitant at first, and then more boldly. He would never, ever have guessed, how on earth could he have guessed?

The next morning, he woke feeling drowsy and content. Matthew's back was to him, his arm draped over his friend's... lover's?... side. This should feel... strange, or something. Finding himself, and on further inspection, Matthew, hard, he decided to stop giving a rat's ass about should and just go with it, baby.

Matthew woke to Dick kissing and caressing his body. Damn fine morning. He laid back flat, at Dick's prodding, and now Dick found himself looking at Matthew's cock.

Nervousness returned, as did curiosity. Where was he going with this?

"Look, Dick, relax, you don't have to..."

Then Dick's tongue gently lapped at the tip of Matthew's cock, and thought and reason gave in and let the body take control.

Dick felt like his head was filling with jelly. This was... this was... God, this was fucking fantastic! He wasn't sure what to do but he was eager, God, yes, eager to figure it out. He let his hands join in, and in just a second, he had slid in between the legs, prodding Matthew to sit up a little so he could really get a view. He hefted the testicles, letting them roll a bit and kissing them gently. His hands slid back, back, back, and then caressed the muscle of the ass, lifting gently. He started laying kisses on the penis in front of his, and when he got to the tip, he licked and kissed and licked again, and used his tongue to poke the tip, and then pulled it into his mouth...

A couple of girls had done this for him. One he remembered particularly, one who kept biting him, and then, when he came, she immediately spit it out. He had thought that this was a fairly one-way road to pleasure, and that the person giving was kind of... well, putting up with it long enough to finish. He had always felt kinda guilty after that one girl, asking for this. Last night, Matthew had seemed, well, eager to do this, and honestly, Dick had been so needy and so unprepared for anything, he didn't really think about it.

But now he was sprawled over the bottom of a bed with a cock in his mouth and it was the best fucking thing in the whole fucking world...

It didn't take long, and when Matthew came, Dick didn't quite catch it all. He swallowed right away though, and leaned back. He was somewhat surprised when he saw that he had come, too, because he didn't remember rubbing himself, but that was fine. Dandy. Great. Awesome...

They took a shower together, and ate breakfast, feeding each other from time to time for an excuse to put fingers in each other's mouths. Matthew answered all his questions, and confessed that he'd never really had anal sex either. They kissed and touched and hugged. When Dick was leaving, he made Matthew laugh with all the gratitude he spilled. Dick took the bus home, too satiated to walk all the way, leaned against the window, and grinned like fool. When he was getting off, he heard some teen girl say to her friend, "Some girls have all the luck!"

He laughed so hard the old man buying a newspaper rushed away, muttering about damn kids these days...





Barbara had been nearly frantic, until she answered the door and let Dick in. She had been calm for a moment after he walked in. Now, all her calm slipped away again.

"I just wanted to let you know that I am leaving."

"Leaving? Dick, why? I know today has been a shock.."

"This isn't about today, not really! I have to leave, Barb, I just didn't want to leave without saying goodbye."

Barbara felt all the air leave the room. Sinking onto the bed, she tried to speak. "Dick? But, I mean, I know that finding out about Batgirl is a shock, believe me, I never would have guessed that you were Robin! And Bruce! And, and I know things between you are, um, tense, but..."

"Barb." Dick was shaking his head, and kneeled in front of her. "Please, you must know this, I do love you, I'm not leaving because I need something else, I know you worry about that but it isn't it." He ran his hand through his hair, and Barbara started feeling really scared. "With Bruce... Barb, I just can't deal with this anymore. I'm not like him, I can't keep pretending to be someone I'm not, I don't even know who I am!"

Dick seemed to be almost quivering. He looked up and Barbara could see the agony in his gaze. "You don't know what it is like! Living in his shadow, trying so hard and never getting anywhere!!"

Barbara put her hands on Dick's face, trying to steady him. "But Dick! I do know! See, I've been going through the same thing, as Batgirl. You don't have to leave, we can work this out, together..."

"Barb, you don't know."

"But Dick...!"

"When you miss a punch on the street, do you worry that your Dad will stop loving you?" Barbara just couldn't respond, too stunned to even think of a response. Dick looked so... so... stern, wild, hopeless. "I've made so many mistakes, Barb, and at this point, at this point..." The pain in his voice was bringing tears to her eyes. "At this point, I don't think I'm ever going to be good enough. Never fast enough, never strong enough. I never get to see Bruce anymore, Barb, only the Bat."

Barbara was just stunned. Two days ago, she was daydreaming about her wedding to Dick during his graduation. Now, she was losing him, and realizing that she had never known him, or anything about him, at all!

"You were my sanctuary. You were everything to me, I knew I could always come to you, and you would make me better. But now... Now you're part of him and I'm sorry Barb, I am, because I do love you, it's just, I can't, I can't deal with this now." There were tears forming and falling gently, and Barbara didn't even have the strength to wipe them away. She couldn't believe this. When she was riding with Batman to stop the Joker long painful hours ago, she had the heady feeling that everything was going to be ok, she'd tell him she was Batgirl, and he'd tell her he was Robin, and whatever was going on that made him so... crazy before, they'd work out, and everything would be better than perfect.

"Are.. are you coming back?" She hated the sound of her voice, so broken, but what could she do? She'd loved him for so long and now...

"I... I don't know. I don't even know where I'm going. I just need space. I'm sorry Barb." And then he kissed her, so gently, just as he always did, but usually it made her head spin and her cares disappear.

He was almost out the door when she called out, "Dick! Just promise me.... if you fall in love with a woman, let her have green eyes and red hair. Please."

He smiled, that perfect smile, and responded, "Count on it, gorgeous."

Barbara just sat on the bed for a long time, and then she picked up the phone. It rang six times, and then,

"Yes?! Look, if the Joker's broken out of custody, just light up the Batsignal and..."

"Daddy? It's Barb. I... Something awful has happened."

"Barb? Honey, I'll be right there, just hang on!"





Dick sat on the windowsill, enjoying the view and the sunshine and the sated feeling that pervaded every cell of his body. His eyes fell back to his 'masters' on the bed. Zera and Zu were both sleeping, a space between them that seemed to beg for him.

It had been so good to be here with them, but as much as he had learned about himself in these past weeks, it was time to move on. He had learned all he could from these 'masters' and, unfortunately, he couldn't really afford much more of their time.

Still, though... he wished he could, because he was so grateful for all they had taught him. Just look at me now, he thought! He'd always considered himself a modest person, something that had been instilled by Alfred and Bruce. In school locker rooms, he was always the boy trying to shrink into nothingness as he changed, and he never used the communal showers, even if it made him late for class. But that certainly wasn't the way he grew up. In the circus, more often than not, modesty was a luxury. And his parents were never modest. They were hardly exhibitionists, but since they lived and worked with professional exhibitionists, they weren't exactly straight-laced either.

Dick was comfortable in his own skin again, which made lounging on windowsills naked possible, but it also made the painful reconciliation with bisexuality easy, at last, as well as a number of other things. He was, for the first time, comfortable with the concept of a dual identity. And he no longer sought out a mentor to act as a yard stick to measure himself against. So many of his teachers over the past year and a half had told him that he would never find peace until he resolved the emptiness in himself. He had foolishly assumed that meant that the lack of Bruce in his life had left a gaping hole that anyone could see. But it wasn't the approval of a father he lacked, it was approval of himself. Zera had shown him that.

And Zu had taught him how to finally accept the needs he had, and to finally stop trying to fit those needs into the expectations of others. It was like someone had lifted a heavy burden off his shoulders.

It was going to be hard to leave.

Zera's eyes opened slowly, and when she noticed he was out of bed, she lifted a hand to call him back.

He gracefully unfolded himself from the windowsill, and back in between the world's most entertaining bed warmers.

Zera kissed him until he was relaxed and settled. He held her and petted until they both felt sleepy again. Her eyes sought his, and asked the question he really didn't want to answer.

"I have to leave, Zera."

"I know, love."

"I wish..."

"Shhh..." her finger on his lips. "Don't wish for what can't be. You have a path in life. We knew that when you first came to hire us."

"You knew that." He said in a voice that was not quite teasing. "What about your husband?"

Slowly, she prodded him to turn, and wrapped his arm around the chest of their sleeping third. "Don't let him wake up alone on the day you leave him. And I'm not worried about him. He has me to take care of him. I'm worried about you, who will take care of you?"

He chuckled quietly. "I'll take care of me."

Now she was laughing. "No, seriously."

"Hey."

"Yes, love?"

"Zera..."

"Don't. It will be fine." She wrapped herself as tightly as she could to the two in bed with her. "I do worry about you, though, love. When you found us, only three and a half weeks ago, you were so lost, so desperate. I know you have learned much here, but..."

He didn't prod, but she could tell from the body language that he was waiting.

"When you find what you are looking for, what will you have found?"

He thought, carefully. Something that was, oddly, much easier when he was blanketed in the warmth of their bodies. "Home."

She kissed the back of his neck. "Then, godspeed. And get their quickly."

He rubbed his cheek against the cheek under his, so smooth and soft. "I do worry about him, though. I... I love him. And... I know he loves me. I know he won't be alone..."

"No, love, he won't. And don't sound so guilty. If I was going to get upset about my Zu loving someone else, I wouldn't have allowed us to fall into this profession. He does love you, Richard. But, he will have my shoulder when he can't lift his own head. Again, it is you..."

"It doesn't seem right, Zera. I love you, too, but it is different. Why is that?"

Zera rolled her eyes. Their Richard was many things, but he could be such a typical man sometimes. "Because, silly one, you lack a mother figure in your life, so you seek one out in the women you share your life with. Conversely, you already have a father figure, so you don't need to seek one in a lover."

Dick smiled a genuine smile. "My father as a lover. Sounds painful."

"There is still this morning, love, remember that."

Understanding, he started kissing the neck, shoulders, and face of the man pressed next to him, until Zu's innocent eyes opened, and they began to make love. Zera held back, wanted more than anything to watch. Knowing this was the last morning they would all be together made every kiss, pant, lick, suck, wail, groan, moan, curse, whimper, flex, thrust, bang, and climax precious.

Later, she brought them a moist towel to clean themselves with, and found they were too busy kissing to notice their mess. So she cleaned them, and enjoyed it.

Dick let his hands run over each square inch of the smooth - like - pearl skin, trying to memorize and be remembered at the same time.

It couldn't last forever.

Zu's eyes were shining like a thousand suns when they finally were rested and sated enough to consider getting out of bed... or staying in it for several hours more. Dick really, really didn't want to do this.

"Zu..." He let his hands move over the perfect linear face and the through the silky ink-black hair. "Love, I... it's time for me to move on."

Innocence and love gave in to sheer panic. Zu shot up and frantically sought out Zera. Her calm and stern demeanor defeated him. "Why?" He sounded so pathetic, it hurt.

"I... I have... not duty per se. But. When my parents died. It hurt so much for so long, love. If I can prevent that kind of pain for someone else..."

Zu gave up, pressing his face into his love's chest to hide his tears. "Besides," Dick's teasing voice followed him. "I can't afford you two for much longer."

Zu looked up, trying to keep up with his brave, stalwart love's humor. "You could join us! Imagine how much we could charge for the day with the three of us!" Even Zera chuckled, though it was killing her to see two people she loved, one more dearly than any in this life, hurting.

"Then I'd have to share you with some worthless stranger. No thanks." Zu's heart soared.

Then an idea hit him. "Before you go... let me give you something."

Dick was suspicious, but not about to say no.

When Zu came back with the wooden box, though, he wished he had.

It took about an hour and a half, and would have been really painful if Zera hadn't been behind him, stroking his nipples and licking that spot on his neck. Zu was so intent and beautiful when working, too. Dick would cherish the memory.

And now, on his hip, right on the bone on the left, there was a black bird in flight, whose details were fleshed out with highly stylized swaths of the most beautiful blue...

"Now, remember, keep it covered for at least a week, and put the antibiotic on as well, and for god's sake, don't pick at the scab or you'll lose it!"

"Thank you, Zu." Simple words of gratitude the older and more sheltered man understood were for more than the tattoo.

It was, sadly, not much longer until Dick was standing outside the door of their home, kissing Zu for the last time. Zera sat on the steps, working on not crying, knowing her strength would be needed soon.

And it was. As soon as Dick let Zu go, he nearly fell into her arms, crying. She watched her Richard walk away, until she could see him no more, all the while saying prayers that he would find his home soon.





Nightwing had finally gotten his groove on. Tonight had gone fabulously well. Well, it would have been better if Batman hadn't been taken out of the action so soon, but they got him the necessary antidote in time, and Nightwing had done really well at coordinating the efforts of Batgirl and Robin, and their visitors from New York. Dick wasn't trying to smile, but he was.

Plus, he got to drive the batmobile home, and without Bruce looking over his shoulder, he could go as fast as he like. All in all, a good night.

Except the exceptionally tense teen next to him.

He tried a few jokes, but Robin wouldn't crack a smile, though his arms were wrapped so tightly around his chest, he might crack a rib.

It was odd. Since Dick had first dropped back into Gotham, Tim had always seemed really anxious to pal around with him. Oh, sure, at first there was tension. Tim thought maybe Dick would want to be Robin again. And then there was that constant fence-mending between himself and Bruce that Tim seemed so intent on. But, for the most part, they were pals.

Dick couldn't stand it. How was a guy supposed to enjoy going 110 down a deserted curvy highway, sheer cliffs on one side and rocks on the other, with a moping teen in the passenger seat?

So Dick slammed on the brakes.

When Tim didn't react, he knew it was trouble.

"Ok, spill boy wonder. What's eating you alive?"

Time just squirmed. Dick knew he hated being called boy wonder. Heh, well, so had Dick once upon a time...

"Still worried about Bruce? He'll be fine. Even the Dark Knight has to get some sleep some nights. Good thing he has us, he actually takes those nights off now..." Dick knew that wasn't it, but Tim was so fiercely protective of Bruce, he was sure it would at least get a reaction.

"No."

Yup. Got a reaction.

"C'mon, Timbo. Did I do something wrong tonight, step on your toes, underestimate you? If you don't tell me what's wrong, then I can't do better in the future."

There, that did it. Tim was so unused to a mentor questioning himself, he had to respond.

After shifting for a bit, he said, "You were flirting with that guy back there. The fish guy."

"Atlantean."

"Yeah."

"Is that a problem?"

More shifting. "No. I mean, no. There were a couple of... uh, gay guys in the building my dad and I used to live in. They were nice, gave me leftovers and extra clothes sometimes. They got evicted cuz the landlord said they were 'dirty' which was odd cuz their apartment was the cleanest part of the building..."

Dick didn't know whether to smile or sigh...

"I just didn't know... I mean, you never said anything. How was I to know you were gay?"

"I'm not."

"Huh? But you just said... were you humoring him or something?"

"Hardly."

"But..."

"I'm bisexual."

Tim's eyes got as big as saucers. And Dick thought that was something they only said in stories.

"What the HELL is THAT supposed to mean?!?"

"It means I'm attracted to both men and women."

Tim's eyes got even bigger. "At the same time!!?!"

Dick sighed. Sure, he could tell some stories, but Bruce would undoubtedly disapprove. "No, sorry, I misspoke. I meant, I'm capable of being attracted to either gender."

Tim's eyes were still huge. "So, does that mean you need a boyfriend and a girlfriend?"

Dick sighed. "No." Not necessarily, he thought, although... "I mean, well, some people want to find a person of the opposite gender to share their life with. Some people want someone of the same gender. And I'm..."

"Not picky." Thank God, if Tim was teasing him...

"Open to either possibility."

"Oh."

"Is that... Are we still ok?"

"Yeah."

"Tim?"

"It's just, I mean. I thought I knew you, like we were really connecting. I guess I just need time..."

"Tim. Look, you didn't know this because right now, I don't have much of a social life and we've never discussed anything about our... romantic lives. But I've never lied to you or mislead you. You do know me and we have connected. You just learned something new about me. Tomorrow, I'll learn something new about you. You never know someone 100%. It's just life, friendship."

"Yeah." Tim actually looked at him and smiled. Things were fine. "I like the Powerpuff girls."

"Huh?" God, Dick wasn't going to have to explain the difference between reality and fiction, would he?

"We didn't have cable at my dad's. I really like that show. But, boys aren't supposed to."

"Oh." What the hell was this? Was Tim worried or something?

"You told me something about yourself. So I told you something about myself." Tim sounded like he was explaining why water was wet.

"Ah! Oh. Well, you know, Buttercup kicks ass."





Bruce sat at the batcomputer, sulking.

Christmas Eve went just as it should, now that Dick was finally home. Well, in Gotham.

They had all gathered, Tim and Alfred of course, and Barbara and her father, and Dick. They had cut down a tree from the grove in the back, and there was a small snowball fight, with Tim and the Commissioner coming out on top, though Dick thought that he and Babs had caught a bad break. They had gotten the tree in and set up, and were just putting on the lights when Bruce accidentally tipped the tree over. Back outside to get another tree, smaller this time, obviously, since the Wayne Grove was not that big. They had decked the halls, and drank eggnog, and joked and teased, and they even had 'It's a Wonderful Life' playing in the background.

Just like the good old days.

Almost.

It was so great to have Dick home again. The house just didn't feel right without him there. Even knowing he was in the same town helped. Things between them were finally settling to the point where they could work and be together without all the tension and, well, angst that had marred the last several months Dick had been home.

Just like the good old days.

Almost.

It was, not to be unoriginal, the little things that made all the difference.

Bruce was... surprised.... to hear Dick say that he was, er, well, pursuing an alternative lifestyle. But, in retrospect, not too surprising. Maybe that explained Dick's fascination with Superman...

But. Well. Just because Dick was, well, interested in men, did that mean that he had to dress gay?

When Bruce had first seen Dick this morning, turning only slightly as Tim was on his shoulders hanging garland, he felt like he had been slapped in the face.

Dick had never worn leather pants before. Tight leather pants. Pants that seemed to be made of glove leather, just begging to be felt...

Whoa. Where did that...

And that sweater! How was it possibly that the turtleneck, cuffs, and bottom of the sweater could look two sizes too big while the rest of the sweater looked two sizes too small? The way the ribbing hugged the lines of his broad shoulders, tapering to the slim, muscular waist... and it felt like he could make out a nipple if he was standing at the right angle...

What the hell.... He was tired. Of course. It had been a couple of stressful days in Gotham, probably a couple more stressful days ahead of them, it was just fatigue, yes...

Still. Why did things have to be just enough different to make this not perfect?

And Bruce really hadn't meant to eavesdrop on Dick and Babs, but honestly, since when did Dick date three people at once? Ok, he sounded uncomfortable with the situation, and really, he hadn't actually had a date with the fish-boy, just a couple really great conversations, and a really strong positive reaction.

Bruce scowled.

The girl he was seeing was obviously not serious, and Dick was waiting until after the holidays to break it off, although it was entirely likely that she might be doing the same thing. It was just a fling.

Bruce scowled deeper. Since when did Dick have flings?

And the other guy... apparently, he was someone Dick knew in college. They were just... reconnecting.

Bruce damn near burst a vein scowling.

Why couldn't things be like they were?

Bruce was randomly scanning through files, not really seeing the screen, when Dick came down the stairs.

He didn't look up, but recognized the walk, noting with some disgust that even that had changed, it was both quicker and more relaxed.

"Hey Bruce. Anything hopping?"

"Hmm. Not yet."

"Ah, good to see you've retained your optimistic attitude." Dick pulled a chair up and straddled it, resting his arms where his back should have been. Bruce consciously did NOT watch to see how the leather would stretch over Dick's spread-out legs...

"I... is this a bad time to talk?"

Bruce did not shift uncomfortably, except in his mind. "No."

Dick sighed. "Good. I... I was wondering... is something wrong? Between us I mean?"

Bruce shifted his eyes to look at Dick without moving his head. "No."

"Oh." Dick looked away. "Are you... I mean... I know we've discussed it but, I, well, I would..." Swallows hard. "I would understand if you were... uncomfortable... with me being around Tim, although I should point out that he knows and we've talked about it and anyway I would never talk to him about those things anyway..."

"Dick."

"Yeah?" Very quickly.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"It's just... you seem to get nervous or testy or upset or something whenever I mention anything about me and another guy or being bisexual or anything in that vein, and I was thinking maybe you thought I was a bad influence on Tim. Maybe."

"Dick. I can't think of anyone who might be a better influence on Tim. In fact, I think you might be one of the few people who can make an impression on him."

Dick flushed. "You're the one who makes an impression on him, he idolizes you."

Bruce did not flush except in his mind.

"Well, then. Um, do we have a problem then."

Now Bruce did turn to look at Dick. He looked scared!

"No, Dick we don't. I'm... well, I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. It's good to have you home."

Dick beamed, literally. God, Bruce loved that smile! The same one the boy had had when he was a kid and teaching Bruce to fly like he could on the trapeze...

Only Dick wasn't a boy anymore. That was the most disquieting change. He was fully grown and formed, beautiful, sexual, with full luscious lips that looked so sweet and tempting...

Whoa!!! What the hell was that?! Was he actually thinking about kissing Dick? Tasting him? Maybe, stripping him slowly, running his hands over that smooth, soft leather first, and sucking on his cock 'til it exploded in his mouth...

Bruce did not panic and break into a sweat, except in his mind. He did blink.

"It's good to be home. Especially now. I was thinking of Christmas last year, how lonely it was, and now to be here with everyone... I'm glad we working things out, Bruce."

Bruce blinked again. He heard the same thing he heard every time Dick said his name in his recent memory. The tiny, almost imperceptible pause before 'Bruce.' The pause where he had to remind himself to say 'Bruce' and not 'Dad.' Bruce blinked again, and tried not to wince. He wasn't sure he succeeded.

"Ditto, chum."

Dick's blue eyes were shining, and Bruce realized that it wasn't the first time that he noticed that Dick's eyes were the color of the sky on a perfect day.

Much later, Bruce was 'putting everyone to bed,' walking past the door where everyone had been put for the night. At Dick's door, he paused, nearly reaching out to touch the wood. No wonder at all that Dick's room was right across the hall from his, that when Tim was given free reign to choose any room he wanted, the one room left unavailable was Dick's old room.

Alfred was already in his room, laying out the pajamas.

Bruce sat heavily on the bed. "Why do things have to change, old friend?"

"Sir?"

"I was so... when Dick came home. But it isn't the same."

"Ah. As Master Dick said, 'No one can be a boy wonder forever.'"

Bruce scowled. "I don't see why not."

Alfred just raised an eyebrow, with a wry smile.

"Well, yes. Ok. But... why is always so difficult?"

"Sir? I had thought matters were improving between the two of you."

"Well, yes, but..."

"Ah. Well, sir, you see, you and Master Dick have always wanted different things from each other. From the first night that Master Dick came to live with us, he has always sought a father and mentor in you, and you have sought a partner and guide in him. You were each other's salvation in a time of great need. But there were drawbacks as well. As Master Dick has grown, he found that he needed you to approve of him as a father would. And as Master Dick has grown, you have found that what you need from his is a partner. A true partner."

Bruce gulped, as Alfred helped him with the finishing touches of his toilet.

"What can we do?"

"Do sir?" Alfred gave him the inscrutable look that meant that he knew the answer and so did Bruce but Bruce didn't want to know the answer. "What can you do?"

Bruce gulped again, and sat back on the bed. "I can't... tell him... I mean... If I told him..."

"That would not necessarily be an advisable course of action, sir." The kindness and sadness in Alfred's voice broke Bruce's heart as truly as the words did.

Alfred took pity on the despair on Bruce's face. "Sir, if I may. Master Dick has been gone for nearly three years. Surely that has taught you the value of his presence in your life, in any form possible?"

Bruce pulled the cover up, resisting the urge just barely to pull it over his head.

Tomorrow was Christmas. There would be presents, and fun, and joking, and Dick's and Alfred's annual fight over serving the dinner. Bruce couldn't help smiling. He had missed that over the last three years. And he knew Dick was going to love the presents he had gotten him. A deeper smile covered his face. Dick was going to be so happy, and he had been so relaxed lately.

And his eyes would shine with love and happiness, directed at him.

Well, that certainly wasn't bad, especially after three years without those eyes and smiles.

Not bad at all.





'kay, here's the quote, from the 'Gay men in Bludhaven' thread:

If a man hit on Dick, nicely, and Dick found him appealing, physically and non-physically, he'd take one kiss with the guy.

Then he'd go home and think about it.

Matthew

doesn't that sound like a story that needed to be told?




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