title: Incidentals: Roses at Christmas
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick, Tim
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Dick tries on one of Bruce's habits.
notes: ahhh. i dunno what i should say... this takes place after Garth leaves, but before Dick and Tim get together.

He stood before the small placestone, rolling the roses back and forth in his fingers. He didn't want to spend the extra four bucks to get them dethorned, but the small kisses of pain were nothing.

Nothing at all, as he stared down at the stone.

He cleared his throat, and looked around. There weren't many visiting at this hour. Dawn was still a few hours off. He'd gotten... distracted on the way out here. Happened in his line of 'work' all too often. It was just starting to snow, a day late, but then, white Christmases were overrated, as far as he was concerned.

Christmas in Florida was the best. Never snowed in Bethlehem, after all. Not that he was big into that sort of thing, anyway.

His first white Christmas was at Wayne Manor, and there had been exactly seventy-nine brightly store-wrapped presents under the tree. He lost interest after number eighteen, but he kept tearing apart the wrappings, just because he couldn't stand the look of desperation in Bruce's eyes.

"So. Well. This isn't my habit. It's... it's Bruce's, though. He does this... every year. On the anniversary." He chuckled nervously. This wasn't going to help. "Kind of morbid, don't you think? Well, anyway.

"Don't really feel like celebrating your death. I can still see it, every night. That's... that's not likely to ever fade. I choose to celebrate your lives. That's what I tell myself. I don't know. How am I doing, dad?

"I miss you. I miss you both, but... I miss... I miss that picture of a Christmas tree mom would pin to the trailer wall. And we would draw on it. The presents were placed under it, and we would pretend that I believed in Santa Claus, but I could always hear you and mom wrapping the presents. I knew where they were hidden every year, too. Not too many hiding places in a trailer, after all. When I was young, I would peek, and you two knew it. But none of us ever said anything. I remember the first Christmas I made it all the way to Christmas morning without peeking. That was the best Chr-"

He coughed. This was insane. Did Bruce talk to his dead parents? But he didn't visit their grave, did he? He visited the place where they were murdered. Dick couldn't see the point of that. He could track down where it was the circus was set up that year, even find where the main tent would have been. But his parents weren't there. His parents weren't here, either.

Thanks to some small-time hood, his parents weren't in this world anymore.

He dropped the roses on the grass in front of the stone, and watched for a few moments as the snow collected on their petals.

"So, here's the thing. I spent Christmas Eve in a sewer, chasing down a giant sea urchin. It... it's a long story. Christmas, I did two shifts at the force, one mine, and one for a family man, give him a chance to be with his kids. It's... You know, I'm alone. And I keep thinking about you guys. I just...

"I feel like... I'm... getting older. I'm a man, now. I've had sex with the man who raised me after you died. And, about a hundred other guys... Well, I don't... I don't know the actual number, probably just as well." He sighed. "I... kind of fucked things up with the guy I was with. I mean, I guess I did. And I've buried another lover.

"I protect the streets as a cop, but I break the law every night as a vigilante. And I have no problem with that. I stand toe to toe with Superman, though that puts me at about neck level. Not my fault the guy is freakishly tall... I...

"I'm alone, and I hate that, so I have a lot of casual sex. I'm usually really good about protecting myself, but... I haven't been tested for HIV, and unless Dr. Thompkins sneaks it in my blood work, I don't plan to. Just... there are some things I'm afraid of, I guess.

"I'm all grown up, and I'll never know what my father thinks of the man I've become. Never got a chance to come out to my parents. Have no idea... what you would have thought, because I was twelve when you died, and we never talked about those things." He stared down at the roses, now icy with fat crystals of snow. "And this is a waste of time, because it doesn't change a damned thing. Merry Christmas, though. I haven't forgot where I came from. For whatever that's worth..."

He walked away, hunkering down. He was starting to feel the cold now, with nothing else to do but think. He should have known better. He was never like Bruce when it came to grief. Not in the ways he dealt with it, nor in the ways he hadn't dealt with it.

It was a comfort to get on his bike again, to ride again, and to feel the chill wind freezing him. It was numbing and it was involving. He drove around the bad parts of town, keeping an eye out for trouble, knowing he wouldn't find any.

The stairs up to his apartment felt steeper and longer than ever before. He was feeling old, damn it. Old, alone, and useless.

He'd never hated the holidays before, but... at the very least, it could be warm. He was getting sick of being cold, and he hated making hot chocolate for himself.

It didn't taste good unless someone else made it.

He opened the door to his apartment, and blinked. His television was on, and Tim was sitting on the couch, his feet on the coffee table, playing some video game.

Wait, did Dick have a game system?

Despite himself, he smirked a little. He closed the door behind him loudly, and locked up. "How long have you been here?"

There was a particularly spectacular set of crashes and explosions on the tv screen. Tim grinned at him, looking over his shoulder, before returning his attention to the game. "Hey. I got in last night around... nine or ten, I guess. Where have you been all night, anyway?"

Dick grunted, throwing down his keys, and toeing off his boots. "Had a few... aren't you supposed to be home, doing... holiday... things?" He walked around the couch to look Tim in the eye, but Tim wasn't tearing his gaze away from the tv for anything.

"Well. You know how it goes. Had a few 'words' with dad, so I figured it would be best to clear the air some." He winked at Dick quickly, and then turned his attention back to the game.

"Tim..." Dick sat down on the coffee table, pushing Tim's feet off. "You know I'm always happy to see you, but it's the holidays, and it's your dad, and..." Some of us aren't lucky enough to have our fathers anymore.

"Dick," Tim cut in abruptly. "Look, no offense, but... It's really my deal, ok? I'm not going to be gone forever. My cell's right there, and I've had it on all night. Just... Sometimes, space is needed." He shrugged, and blasted several mutant aliens into bloody bits on the wall.

Dick really couldn't argue with that, but it left him feeling a bit emptier, even, then before. He really didn't have anything he could offer Tim. Not like he knew how to deal with parents at that age, or vice versa. His parents were buried and decomposed before he got to the rebellion stage.

"Anyway," Tim said casually. "I really wanted to have some time with you, alone. Ah, to exchange presents and stuff. You know." He shrugged, looking pointedly at the screen.

For the first time, Dick noticed the small package next to Tim, wrapped up too nicely for a guy... Did Babs help him? Dick's noticed that Babs and Tim were getting closer... "Great. I have my present for you in the closet. And I really do, because you'll notice that I'm going to go to my bedroom and come back with something picked out just for you." He winked.

Tim flushed a bit, and laughed. "No problem, Dick, I knew you wouldn't forget. I'll make hot chocolate, and we can have our own Christmas, just the two of us."

He ruffled Tim's hair as he walked past to get to his bedroom. While he was there, he decided to change, too. His clothes from last night... smelled like bike exhaust.

He pulled on a Gotham's Knights jersey, and looked over to his dresser, where a picture of him with his parents, all in costume, sat, the glass covered by a thin layer of dust punctuated by fingerprints.

He grabbed Tim's gift, and went back out to his living room, where he wouldn't be alone.