title: Winter Rose
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick/Ollie, Dick/other established older male, Dick/Bruce, Alfred, Hal Jordan
rating: Mature
warnings: a lot of underaged sexual situations, bad language
summary: The most beautiful part of adolescence is surviving it...
notes: um, drawn from comics, but not really. i'm using a couple of characters here that i literally have no knowledge of, so errors and blatant abuse of the characters is due to the au nature of the story... ; )

Bruce hated it when Alfred wasn't around. He hated to admit how totally dependent he was on the elder gentleman, but on these nights that Alfred helped at Dr. Leslie's Crime Alley clinic, Bruce felt like he was missing a limb. A limb that cooked.

Aimlessly wandering the lower level, perhaps hoping a miracle meal would present itself, he found himself in front of the French windows looking out to the impeccable rose garden. Well, in season the garden was impeccable. In winter, it looked lifeless and bereft. But it was still a beautiful view of the harbor, and twilight sky was unbelievable.

Bruce was about to move on, when he caught a glimpse of the shadow that had likely drawn him to this window in the first place.

Out there, in the cold, without a jacket, on the solid marble bench, was Dick.

Panic was only Bruce's second reaction.

Dick was so beautiful in the near moonlight, his lithe athletic body framed by the waning light of the sun and by the chill light of the house. His face, though, was what captured the panic of seeing his young student in the garden and stilled Bruce.

So many people loved Dick without knowing him that Bruce knew that Dick was headed for an even rockier romantic road than he had. But so few people, if any, knew Dick like Bruce did.

Everyone saw his easy humor, his laughing grace, his joy and strength. So few saw his somber moments. Even Alfred joked, not entirely with humor, about their 'laughing boy daredevil.' Perhaps Bruce really was the only one who saw how much sorrow Dick carried, how easily he could slip into a brooding meditation. Perhaps one would have to understand the severity of loss that Dick carried to be able to understand the maturity in the eyes of the young man even when he was laughing.

Innocence lost could be mourned, but not returned. And, not always understood. Bruce knew that Dick's childhood ended the night his parents fell from the sky, but how many others really understood that underneath the giddy joviality and charming nativity was the heart and soul of someone who knew better than most the nature of mortality?

Bruce tried to muster up the required parental interest he was supposed to have for the young man, but he was too struck by the perfection of the moment.

His hand reached up involuntarily to trace the outline on the glass of the still figure on the bench.

His angel.

His salvation.

His hope.

His...





Dick was completely startled when the soft afghan was draped across his shoulders. He looked up to see the softly smiling face of his mentor. Weakly reaching to pull the blanket closer around him, he tried to smile back.

Bruce sat down next to him, and sighed. He didn't know what to say, so he said nothing.

"Had a good day?" Bruce had been busy all day with Wayne Enterprises business, despite the fact that it was Saturday. With Alfred at Dr. Leslie's, that had left Dick home alone all day.

Dick just cocked his head to the side, closer to Bruce. His eyes were on the verge of watering, although Bruce didn't really see that in the pale light in the garden.

They sat for another ten minutes or so of silence, when something caught Bruce's eye. Careful not to disturb the head that had gradually come to rest on his shoulder, he reached forward and down slowly. "Hey, look."

Dick's head bobbed up a bit, his eyes opening. Bruce's hand was now in the center bottom of the rose bush directly in front of the bench, plucking a single rose that had managed to persist through the frost of early winter. Gently bringing it out of the confines of the remains of the rose bush, he brought the rose up to Dick. "One last rose."

Now smiling a perfect Mona Lisa smile, Dick brought a hand out of warmth of his blanket and took the rose. "It's a bit worse for the wear." His voice sounded deeper than sad.

"It's a survivor."

That brought a deeper sense of peace to the smile gracing his face. Bruce couldn't help the hand that reached up to brush the soft cheek gently. Their eyes meet, and they held each other's gaze for a long, quiet moment.

"We should go inside." Bruce hated to spoil these moments together, but it was cold, and God alone knew how long Dick had been out here alone. "How would you like some hot chocolate?"

Dick was now grinning. "But Alfred isn't here." A teasing reminder.

"Hey. Hot chocolate is something I can do. It's not as good as Alfred's, I use the powdered stuff. So it's just boiling and measuring water. But I can do it. With marshmallows."

Dick curved away from Bruce, stretching. "'Kay. I should get a sweater first."

Bruce smiled, and they went inside together.





years pass





Bruce sat down heavily at the desk in his study in the Manor. He had finally wriggled away from the office, but even Alfred was aware of the mood his employer and charge was in, and decided to go shopping all afternoon. With Lucius away from Gotham on holiday, more menial work than he was comfortable with was on his plate. And his secretary had had the audacity to write out a list of things to do for him!

It was hard to concentrate on the truly trivial details of work when the truly important intricacies of the Gotham crime scene so consumed his thoughts. And while his secretary had no way to know how intelligent he was, really, it still rankled that she didn't think he could remember to do three relatively simple things.

Heaving a heavy sigh, he picked up the phone to complete the first of his tasks: call Tempora Inc. and settle the timing for the video conference tomorrow; the executives of Tempora were well and truly sick of being rescheduled, and the personal touch would go a long way towards a profitable negotiation.

His finger was just about to hit the first number when he registered the fact that there were already voices on the phone.

It took a moment longer for him to fully realize who the voices were and what they were talking about, but when he did, he froze with shock and pain.

"I had a really good time the last time."

"Good - that means we did it right!"

"That thing you did with your tongue... God, Ollie, I can still feel it late at night, right before I go to sleep..."

"Right before pleasant dreams, I trust."

"Can't wait to show you my dreams..."

"Oooh, baby boy, we have to get together soon..."

"I'm not your fucking baby boy. Don't call me that. And I saw you just last weekend!"

"Dickie, relax, jeez, what's the matter? I want you, you want me, let's just get together..."

"Ollie, you don't think. There are consequences. Neither of us is on their own. We can't just see each other every time the mood strikes."

"Sound a bit like Brucie boy there, Dickie. As a matter of fact, we can..."

"Leave Bruce out of this, you horny monkey. And how, exactly, am I supposed to explain another visit?"

"Sorry, I forgot how important Bruce was to you. Just say you are coming to visit Roy."

"No! Christ, Ollie, I'm not going to use one of my only friends as a cover story for sex! Besides which, I'm not going to play Roy like that. Maybe you're ok with playing with his affections like that..."

"Fuck you, teen wonder. Stay the fuck out of my relationship with Roy. You don't know the first fucking thing!"

"Right. I just know that it's been what, six weeks since you've spent more than ten minutes with him? Meanwhile, three days after we've last seen each other, and you're begging me for more..."

"Look, if you want to hash out all the gruesome details of our lives, fine, let's talk about you and the big bad Bat. Was that a batarang I saw under your pillow the time I spent the night there?"

"Fuck off, Ollie."

"Wait! Please, don't hang up! Christ. Sorry, I'm sorry. I just... It's selfish, I know, but I can't stop thinking about the last time, it was so... I can still feel your hand inside of me."

"Ollie..."

"I can taste you if I try."

"Please..."

"I can't stop smelling you, and whenever I close my eyes..."

"Stop. This..."

"I still have the sheets with our come all over them. I haven't washed them yet. I haven't given into the desire to wrap them around me yet..."

"Jesus..."

"We are so beautiful together, Gorgeous. So good. I'm being selfish, but I want..."

"Oh..."

"And you do too..."

"Ollie..."

"I can hear it, in your voice, in your anger even..."

"I..."

"I want to put my hands on you again."

"Yes. Yes, I want that too. But, Ollie, we have to think about Roy and Bruce..."

"Fuck Bruce. He's the best man I know, but still, fuck him. He's got you on a short leash and he still doesn't see you..."

"Don't..."

"I love you Dick."

"Shut up. Why the fuck do you have to say stupid things like that? I don't want to hear shit like that. I should hang up. You should spend time with Roy. This is stupid."

"I don't care. I know you don't believe me, that you don't love me. I still want to take you into my mouth and make you scream."

"Slut."

"Damn straight."

"Was that supposed to be funny?"

"Please, see me."

A long, long pause.

"Saturday. During the day. You get eight hours. That's it."

"You won't regret it. Jeez, I can already imagine it...."

"Well, don't keep it to yourself, baby."

"Mmmmm... I want to take your clothes off slowly. Massage your back gently, every millimeter of it. Want to wash you completely clean, stretch you out on the bed, knead your ass slowly, and lick you, all over...."

"Stop. I... Oh, are you touching yourself."

"Yesss... you?"

"God... I shouldn't be doing this... Bruce will be home soon..."

"That should make you want it more, right?"

"I will hang up right now..."

"Stop. Let me. Please. Your hand on your dick. Only, it's my hand. My fingernails teasing the sensitive spot at the base..."

"Mmmm..."

"My hand tweaking your nipples as I take a good, hard grasp..."

"Aaaahh..."

"My thumbs pressing the top of your cock, pushing and rubbing..."

"Guuhhahh..."

"My hands stroking so fast, so suddenly, you feel like the top of your head is humming..."

Just the sound of heavy breathing...

"My... God... My... my hand squeezing...at... at just... the right...uh... moment..."

"Aaahhh!!!"

"Oh."

"Mmm."

"Ah."

"Yes."

"Yes."

"Hmm."

"Saturday?"

"Yes."

"My apartment in Gotham?"

"Yes."

"What time?"

"Yes."

"Dick!"

"Ten."

"Good."

"'Kay."

"Love you."

"Fuck off, Ollie." Dick then slammed the phone down. It took Bruce a half a heartbeat to realize that until he hung up, the connection would still be open. Slamming the phone down himself, he didn't even care that Ollie probably knew there was someone else on the line.

He was too busy being worried about what to do with the erection in his pants.





Bruce sat staring at the whiskey he had ordered, wondering how drunk he would have to be to stop feeling. He had never really tried this route before. There was a brief spell in college when he spent his weekends seeking oblivion, but then Harvey had been there to pull him away from the bar and into life.

Thinking about Harvey wasn't going to help now.

He barely took note when Hal Jordan walked into the dim dive out in the middle of nowhere that Bruce was holed up in.

It wasn't long before Hal had obtained his drink, a diet coke, and was sitting opposite Bruce in the dark corner.

"Got something on your mind?"

Bruce took a long sip, and shook off the effect. "No, I just like the ambience."

"Funny man."

Bruce sighed. What the hell? "I just found out Dick is involved with someone much older than he is."

"Ah." Hal took a sip, and watched for more to come out.

"Someone our age."

"Hmm." Still watching.

"A man."

"Oh." Still...

"Oliver."

Hal let out a surprised whoosh of air, and set his drink down. "Well. That's... quite a lot to learn in one afternoon."

"Yeah." Bruce tried to muster up a humorless laugh, but couldn't. "I can't even grasp all of it, what bothers me the most."

"Well, take it by the numbers. Is it that he's involved with a man?"

Bruce settled himself uncomfortably. "Not... no. I mean, I never thought about it, I mean, he's only 17..."

"Is that it? Because he's so young?"

"Maybe. I'm not sure. He's not an innocent. But... he still seems a little young for... he has so much that should be occupying his mind... and it's not like his night life is a stress-reliever..."

"Well, it can be. For those of us that aren't quite so driven, it can be a good way to blow off some steam."

"Well, regardless, Dick is only 17. This is just..."

Hal traced the rim of his glass slowly. "Is it Ollie? I know he's... well, been around the block enough to give tours, But he's not reckless. He's careful."

Bruce's hawk eyes watched Hal carefully. "You know this from experience?"

"No!" Hal was laughing. "Ollie... isn't my type. But we are friends. He gets around, but that doesn't mean he's out of control."

"But. He is 11 years older than Dick. And Dick is only just barely of age."

Now Hal was examining his glass closely, and watching Bruce surreptitiously. "Is that the problem? You don't know how long it has been going on?"

Bruce visibly blanched. "No. I... I have enough to think about. The past is the past. But... isn't 17 young?"

"How old were you?" Hal took a long drink.

"Hm?"

"Well? C'mon! How old were you when you lost it?"

Bruce blushed, deep red. Then, stammering, "I, well, see I studied a lot and stuff... I was 26."

Hal nearly dropped his glass, and stared. "How the hell does someone like you not get laid until you are 26?!"

Bruce was now so bright cars would have stopped at the sight of him. "Well, how old were you?"

"I was 19. And let me tell you, Bruce, if I was of Dick's generation, and looked like him, I'd probably have been a lot younger." Hal was watching Bruce, taking in every feature.

"Younger? C'mon. Anyway, this is pointless. It's... I don't know. Not safe? Not healthy? It's not even that... I. Well, I get the feeling the relationship is only about sex for him. And that doesn't seem right."

"Why not?"

"Are you mad?" Bruce could hardly believe this conversation. "Sex... He shouldn't be so... there should be more."

Hal finished his coke, and thought, and watched, and weighed his words carefully. "Maybe it hurts you to know he's in this kind of relationship because it isn't what you would do. And you can't stand the thought of him being different than you, being separated from you. Because that makes him less yours."

Bruce started nearly squirming. "No, it's not that, I mean, yes, he's growing up, and he, well, he isn't going to be with me much longer, and that does hurt because I need him and love him, but no, I want him to be happy." Bruce looked up, looking right into Hal's eyes. "That's what's wrong. I don't see how this makes him happy."

Filled with renewed conviction, Bruce straightened and set aside his drink. Hal pulled himself together, and said, quite calmly, "Well, guess now you know what you need to talk to him about."





Bruce was watching Dick do his homework, trying to figure out if it was the right time. Stretched out in front of the tv, working on calculus, it seemed impossible to think that this was the boy that said those things to Ollie. That masturbated while talking to him on the phone.

That was planning sex romps for the weekend. With Oliver Queen, the superhero community's biggest slut.

In his rumpled school uniform, sans jacket, shirt tails out, he looked exactly like an ordinary kid.

Ordinary kids don't have sex lives at 17, do they?

Bruce's reverie was interrupted when Dick slammed the calc book shut. Rolling and stretching out, sending his four limbs to opposite ends of the room, if possible. Bruce had to look away, because for a second he could see the boy who had had the conversation with Oliver on the phone.

The moment was slipping away, but Bruce didn't care. It couldn't be the right time. There wasn't much time 'til Saturday, but still...

Just as Dick was gathering his books and notes, he said, as if just remembering, "Oh, Bruce, I was gonna ask if I could spend Saturday at the Cage. Tests this week have been rough."

The Cage. Clever. The Cage was a high-tech playground for teens - in fact, there was an upper age limit there. Video games, interactive movies, laser tag... everything loud and bright and crowded and noisy that any teen would want. An easy place to enter and leave unnoticed. And Bruce had a pass he let Dick use from time to time.

"The Cage? I thought you were seeing Oliver Queen this weekend?"

Dick froze. Like a panicked animal caught in the sights of a predator, he spun and looked Bruce in the eye, terrified.

"What... makes you say that?"

Bruce leaned forward in the leather wing chair, putting aside his paper. He took a deep breath, and tried to remember the speech he had practiced. Then, he discarded it. "I'm really, really sorry, because I didn't mean to, I swear, but I overheard part of your phone conversation with Oliver on Tuesday. It was an accident, I picked up the phone to make a call, and then I heard voices, and I... meant to hang up right away, but I got taken by surprise. I'm sorry. Honestly, I never wanted to invade your privacy like that."

All the time that he was speaking, Dick was gracefully sinking to the floor, getting whiter with every second. Dick was gaping, and speechless, so Bruce continued.

"But, well, I did, and now, I know and have to deal with it."

"Deal... with it?" Dick's voice was weak and pale.

"First off, it's ok to be with a guy. That's not even close to being an issue. I am concerned about the fact that you are seeing someone so much older than you are, but that's not really the issue either. I am deeply concerned about the nature of this relationship."

"Relationship?" Dick was laughing, a tinny shadow of his usual humor. "There is no relationship."

"That's what worries me." Bruce was trying hard not to be harsh, but he was also busy fighting the urge to get down on the floor and take Dick into his arms.

"Bruce... I don't think we should have this conversation."

"Believe me, I don't want to!"

They both almost smiled at each other.

"But Dick..." And Bruce shifted even further to the edge of the chair. "You are very young, and..."

"Bruce, stop, for the love of... This is by far not the first time for this sort of thing for me. And I know what I'm doing."

"How can you possibly think you know what you are doing? You are involved with someone 11 years older than you in a purely sexual relationship. You are a high school student! You don't need to be worried about... HIV, and homophobia, and lying to your friends, and all the other crap that comes with sex! Please, I... want to just have a civil discussion, but how can you think this is a good thing?"

Dick's eyes were wide, and watery. "You don't understand. This... this is a good thing. I don't like lying to Roy, and I hated lying to you, but I can't help what I want or need, and the rest of the crap... there is no rest because there is nothing beyond what we do." Dick was shivering, and getting agitated. "I don't think we should be talking about this..."

"Dick... I know that sex is... well, it is supposed to be pleasurable, but that doesn't mean that is all that it is. And while you are seeking pleasure you are sacrificing the things that make it really worthwhile. Love... is so much more than just sex." Bruce felt his whole chest tighten, but managed to keep his voice even.

Dick's eyes were filled with the kind of pain Bruce had never opened himself to. "Love, Bruce? Don't talk to me about love. I don't want that. Not... I mean, not now. This... this is better."

"How can meaningless sex be better than love?"

Dick laughed hollowly. "Because love is a myth and the sex is mind-blowing." His voice even and strong. And bitter.

"Dick... how can you say that?"

"Bruce. How can you tell me differently?" His blue eyes full of desperate need.

Bruce's heart seized. This was much, much worse than he thought.

"I... Dick. Of course love is not a myth... you know that." Bruce was feeling desperate himself.

Dick just shook his head. "How do I know that?"

"Dick... your parents loved each other. And... I love you."

"My parents are dead."

Bruce just sat, stunned. When had this happened, and how had he not seen? "Dick... this can't be satisfying for you. And if this is truly how you feel about love, I can't help thinking that this relationship is only causing you more damage. I'm not going to pretend that I know personally about love and relationships, but I do know that there is love, and that if you can't have the kind of relationship that brings joy as well as pleasant afterglow, well..." Dick nearly broke a smile. "I... just want you to be happy. I love you."

"Bruce... I... am happy. Ollie is..." Dick had the presence of mind to blush. "...talented. And kind. And he's always thinking of me. It's... flattering."

"And you have no feelings for him?"

"I care for him. He's a friend."

"And what about him? Does he have feelings for you?"

Dick flushed, and got to his feet, nearly jumping. "He doesn't love me, he just says those things because he thinks he should, but that's not real, maybe he thinks he should, or does, but that isn't real." Dick was pacing in a tight circle. Bruce grabbed his arm to stop him from getting dizzy.

"Dick... why do you think you are so unlovable? Oliver could easily fall in love with you, and then what?"

"Bruce, he doesn't love me, and he's not going to get hurt."

"He could love you."

"He doesn't!"

"Why not?"

"Why would he? I'm a kid, he's an adult, why would he ever love me?"

"Dick... people do fall in love."

"Bruce. Stop, I need to go, I can't talk to you about this..."

"Dick!" Bruce, without thinking, pulled Dick closer to him until he tripped and fell into Bruce's lap. Bruce wrapped his arms around Dick, holding him tight, trying to keep the shivers away, unsuccessfully. "If not me, then who? Who can help?"

"Please, I just need to go, it's ok, really, I just need..."

"I'm sorry. So sorry, I didn't mean to interfere but you are so much better than this, you deserve more. You deserve to be held by someone who loves and adores you, who can't live without you, who knows how special you are and smart and fun and appreciates you for everything you are."

Dick was laughing softly into Bruce's shirt. "And who would that be, besides you?"

Bruce felt his whole body go numb, his arms turn to rubber. He kept rubbing soothing circles into Dick's back, but he no longer felt anything with his fingers. That's when Dick's body jerked up.

Shock and disbelief covered Dick's face. He tried to pull away, but Bruce held his grip on his arms. His face started to fall, and Bruce felt his heart break into a million pieces.

"Wait. That's not what I meant. I wasn't trying to..."

"I need to go, I have to practice..."

"I'm not going to force anything on you. I don't want anything, nothing at all. I just want you to be happy. And I don't think this is..."

"I have stuff to do, it's ok, I just want to forget this, I'm sorry..."

"Dick. Saturday. I..."

"I have an appointment Saturday. I have to go now." And he slipped out of Bruce's grasp, and out of the room. Leaving Bruce alone.





All day Saturday, Bruce paced through the house, anxious with ice in his belly. He tried to occupy his mind with business, both upstairs and "downstairs", but the oddest things would bring Dick to the forefront of his mind. And every time that happened, he would wonder what Dick was doing at that moment. Graphic, horrible images of wild and inspired lust-fueled sex between Dick and Oliver would lay siege to his thoughts. But the worst was when he would imagine Dick sleeping cradled in Oliver's embrace; when he saw that, his whole nervous system shut down.

Alfred tried to be consoling, but he was at a loss. Why Master Dick would choose this path was puzzling. Master Bruce had said that Master Dick spoke as if he believed himself incapable of being loved; how ridiculous!

Bruce was watching when Dick returned home, shirt tails hanging out, hair looking dirty, and all over just looking spent. He didn't intercept Dick as he went to his room to shower. He didn't trust himself to see Dick at that moment.

Dinner was the first time they were in the same room. Alfred served, and fussed, but the dinner was anything but normal. Dick held his head down and didn't speak at all, barely ate. The hangdog expression that covered his whole body is what broke Bruce down. He couldn't bear the thought that Dick felt ashamed of himself.

Alfred excused himself so that he could go down to the cave to prepare for the evening, as usual. Bruce sat, staring at his cold leftovers, wondering how to broach any topic with Dick.

When Dick's hollow voice broke the silence, Bruce nearly leapt out of the chair.

"I broke it off. I'm not going to see him anymore. It's not because of what you said the other day. It's just... this sort of thing has a certain life span, and I just couldn't stand lying to you and Roy anymore. Roy especially. He doesn't get enough of Ollie's attention as it is, without me stealing it."

Dick still wasn't looking up.

Bruce took a deep breath. "Well, I'm not going to lie and say I'm sorry it's over. But I hope you realize, I only want you to be happy."

Dick nearly looked up, a near smile curling his lips. "I know." A near whisper.

What to say? "I... hope things... I mean, that it's ok, you're ok."

Now Dick leaned back. "Yeah. I was always fine. But. We should talk about... um, well, us."

Bruce nearly panicked. "No, I mean, if you want, but no, there's nothing to discuss, I... you know how I... I don't want to... I just want..."

"For me to be happy." Dick was looking up now, and Bruce found it impossible to meet his gaze. His voice was stronger, though. "I appreciate that. I do. I just think... you said I was too young to have a purely sexual relationship. Maybe it is the other way around.

"Maybe I'm too young for an emotional relationship. It's just that, well, if I were with someone I, um, cared for, uh, deeply, well, it couldn't last. And, if I did care deeply for someone, I would want it to last. Forever. Because they would mean everything to me."

Bruce stared as Dick quietly picked up his plate and took it to the kitchen sink. It took a second for Bruce to beat down the wild pounding of his heart to follow.

Bruce just watched Dick rinse the plates. There was so much to say...

"Dick." The water was turned off, and the young man turned to face him. "Just... be careful. Of your body, your heart, and the hearts of the people you are with."

Dick smiled, a sweet, angelic smile, and suddenly it was impossible again that this darling bringer of salvation could possibly have the carnal knowledge he so clearly did.

Of course, he did know things, do things...

Bruce cleared his throat and began. "I just wish..." Dick maintained eye contact, looking hunted. "I wish I knew who broke your heart. So I could break their kneecaps."

Dick laughed out loud, such a beautiful sound, it made Bruce smile. Dick shook his head, and wrapped his arms around himself. "I just, I'm sorry, I wish I could... I mean, Ollie, it's not, I... You don't deserve... I'm sorry you had to hear that, on the phone, um, given..."

"Hey. Stop. I... was shocked, but I was always only worried about you. Only you. I mean, please, I've known you for 9 years, it's not like I sit around lusting and fantasizing." Bruce's exaggerated expressions cracked Dick up. "I do... love you. But it's not like that... I just can't imagine my life without you."

Dick's eyes were shining with such light, and joy. After a moment, he dragged himself away from the safety of the cabinet, and came very close to Bruce. With just a whisper, he said, "Thank you. For... all of it." He stood up on his tiptoes and kissed Bruce lightly, then put his arms around Bruce's neck and held him in a tight hug. "You'll never know how much you mean to me." The words the faintest whisper right in Bruce's ear, making the sweetest impression of heaven fill his imagination.

When Dick pulled away, and headed to the cave to go through preps, Bruce didn't feel alone.





years pass





Leaning back against the pillows, Bruce took a moment to take in the room once again. It was shocking how a bedroom that hadn't been altered for nearly 21 years could be transformed in a night.

And it was magnificent.

Dick had given him one hard look, and told him that the condition upon moving in was simple: they needed to redecorate. And no amount of teasing about the closet queen in him coming out was going to deter him.

Not that Bruce wanted to deter him. If he had told Bruce the condition was that Bruce had to get a Prince Albert he would have done it. Anything for Dick.

The room was too dark, apparently. Bruce had been afraid that that had meant the thick velvet curtains were going, but no, that just meant they needed some new art, and a few new mirrors. And a new throw rug at the base of the bed, a Navaho present from Roy. And the sheet had to go. Navy blue and hunter green paisley was not going to cut it.

Bruce actually really liked the bright, tasteful t-shirt sheets Dick had picked out. And they were so smooth, and cool...

The new dresser and armoire were also tasteful and elegant, fitting in nicely with their surrounding, while at the same time, brightening the room.

The way his things and Dick's things blended together was just so...

But Bruce was seriously beginning to think that Dick would never finish tinkering. He kept saying he was almost done, but then he kept pulling things out of his bag. He was driving Bruce crazy.

"Last thing! I swear!" And he was shoving his duffel in the back of his part of the closet, so maybe he was serious...

What he was carrying was a thin gold frame suspending two panes of glass, between which floated some long-decayed remnants of what used to be a plant of some sort. Probably.

He also had a heavy-duty suction cup, and was moving to affix this thing on the window above their bed. Bruce raised his eyebrow slightly, amused. "Why, precisely, are we keeping the memorial to your failed attempt at gardening?"

Dick laughed, low. "I've had this for years. For a while, I kept the petals in a plastic bag, then Babs showed me how to seal it in a frame." He turned his face to Bruce, his expression deeply amused. "It's the rose you gave me." His soft voice sweet and full of affection.

Bruce was perplexed. "I gave you? I don't remember giving you a rose."

Dick plopped down next to Bruce, still sitting. "See? I'm always telling you, you have no idea how much you mean to me. A winter evening, I was out on the bench in the rose garden, you came and put the afghan your mother made around my shoulders. You just sat with me. And then you found the rose in the middle of the bush..."

"I remember now." Bruce's eyes saw the scene, his angel in the garden... "And you kept that all this time?" He couldn't grasp the wonder of the situation.

Dick blushed lightly. "You called the rose a survivor." He looked up at the rose petals. "That was the day I lost my virginity."

Bruce started. "You were 15!?!"

Dick grinned. "I was always jumping before I could walk."

"But you were so sad then." Bruce was filled with a faint despair.

Dick smiled a bitter smile. "Not everyone gets a sweet, fumbling adventure for their first time."

Bruce's hand reached up to stroke Dick's cheek. "Tell me about it."

"It's not important."

"Why not?"

Dick closed his eyes and stretched with his arms crossed over his chest. "It... I.... I've learned a lot since then."

Bruce considered for a moment. "Did he hurt you?"

"No. No. He... well, not physically. It... he was tall, dark, older, strong... surprising that I fell for him, hm?" Bruce smiled. "And I did fall for him. For months, he teased me, flirted with me, complimented and flattered me, and I believed every word that he said. Every one. And after a while, he broke down my shyness and fear, and... well, we had an afternoon together. Fantastic sex. We did everything, he showed me everything, he opened worlds to me. We were getting dressed, and I was gushing on and on about what we were going to do next weekend and so on and so on. He sat down next to me and patiently explained to me that he already got everything he wanted from a relationship with me that day, and so there weren't going to be any other times. Then he explained that most people were far to shallow to ever look past my 'fabulous body' and that I was going to have to learn that when people told me they loved me it was only because they wanted to get into my pants. It was for the best that I learned this now, before I really hurt myself falling for someone."

Bruce was pretty sure the world had stopped turning. Dick was almost detached from the story he was telling, but not detached enough to hide the bitterness at times.

"He had pursued me for months and after four hours of foreplay and sex he was done with me."

"Dick... that's..."

"And I went to the garden. And just sat there. And you came out. I waited for you to yell at me for sitting in the cold. But you didn't. And you gave me the rose. And... And the only reason I didn't believe every word he said that night as I did every word he said before that night is because I knew that when you told me you loved me, it wasn't because you were trying to get down my pants."

Bruce's eyes were as wide as saucers. "Must have thrown you for a tailspin when you found out I was."

Dick shook his head, smiling. "I always knew how you felt, Bruce. What threw me was knowing... well, you always had this image of me. I guess I was terrified you would be turned off when you found your 'angel in a centerfold.'"

Bruce laughed silently. "I never saw the centerfold. I want the centerfold."

Dick kissed Bruce's forehead, and leaned close to him. "I'll see what I can do."

Bruce really didn't want to ask, but the words were out before he thought about them. "Who was it? Because if you want, I can break their kneecaps for you." Very serious. Bordering on bat-serious.

Dick smiled. His protector. "It's really not important. Besides, you can't. He's dead."

Bruce pulled his head up to look at his lover. "Oliver?"

"Oh, no. Ollie was... cathartic. Very cathartic. No, this was... someone else completely."

"You don't have to tell me." Bruce said without words that there was nothing he would ever hold back.

Dick got off the bed and started straightening the room. "You... don't want to know."

"It's ok. It's in the past, as you said." Bruce got up as well, following.

Dick stared at the pictures of his parents next to the pictures of Bruce's parents. "Hal Jordan."

Bruce felt shell-shocked.

"Not..."

"Green Lantern. Yup."

"That's..."

"I told you, you didn't want to know." Dick sounded...

Bruce went to meet him, put his hands on the beloved face, and said, "If he were still alive, I would kill him. The bastard!"

Dick leaned down, resting his forehead on Bruce's chest, laughing. "It's a good thing he's dead then. I'd hate to have to figure out conjugal visits at Arkham."

"I'd go to Blackgate," sounding slightly indignant as he ran his fingers through Dick's hair.

"Oh, yeah, you'd go to Arkham." Dick moved around, a bit restless. "So. Now that we have our room done, what are we going to do with the rest of the night?"

Bruce just watched, stalking with his eyes. When Dick's restless movement brought him near the bed, Bruce came close, just standing near Dick for a long time. Suddenly, he grabbed the backs of Dick's knees and dropped him on the bed. With bat-speed, he pushed the shirt up and unbuttoned the jeans. Dick's hurried cry of protest was outdone by his gasp of pleasure when Bruce tugged on his cock and licked the spot at the base of the penis. His hands roamed everywhere, between Dick's legs and his nipples. Dick was hard in record time, and it was a only a deep breath later that Bruce had taken him in completely, deep throating 'til his nose hit dark curls. For a minute, Dick was beyond noise. Then he screamed in completion.

By the time the stars in front of his eyes had cleared, Bruce had pulled him up to the top of the bed, stripped them both, and slipped them beneath the covers.

"I love your ravenous appetite..."

"Only for you, my love, only for you."

Now they were both driving each other crazy, both mellowed and relaxed by the adventure in oral sex. Bruce kept chanting how he loved Dick, loved him, cherished him, worshipped him...

Dick finally pinned Bruce to the bed, his shoulder blades flush against the cool sheets. Bruce's steel-blue eyes pierced deeply, and he swore, "I love you. Always, I love you."

"Bruce... love is just a word. People lie with words. Through everything, every low and horrible time, every dark patch of shame or guilt, we've been side by side. That's true." And then he kissed Bruce until Bruce forgot his name.

Hours later, with Bruce's head held tight in the cradle of his arms, Dick's eye caught the light of the moon filtered through the rose petals.

A survivor can be a good thing.





an apology to Hal fans - I know he isn't a child molester, but I was wracking my brain trying to think of a jla member to use, and he was the only one i could think of... it's really hard to find a hero to be a sexual predator when you've already earmarked ollie for another part of the story!




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