title: trudging through to tuesday
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick/Garth, Leslie, Bruce, Alfred
rating: Teen
warnings: self-injury, depression, delusions
summary: Dick finally realizes something is lacking in him. (AU)
notes: i am so far behind in everything, there's no hope of this fitting any kind of canon anyway, but this is a total AU, set in the real world. and of course, it's dedicated to my rithy, because she deserves more (and better than this, i'm afraid) fic. ♥

He rubbed his hands together, and then stuffed them in his pockets. He'd forgotten his gloves at the Station. Or maybe at home... was he wearing them in the morning? Maybe he'd left them...

He turned abruptly, and went into the pizza place at the corner. Yeah, he knew he couldn't live on the stuff, but

But.

Tell me what's really going on, Dick. Is it the dream again?

Armed for the night with melted cheese and pepperoni, he started straight for his place. It felt a little childish, or maybe something else, to be going home with no greater plans besides eating and watching television and sleeping. He could almost hear Bruce lecturing him in his head... Dick, he would say, people form ideas about you more by what you don't do than what you do. You don't want to be alone your whole life, right?

It was true, Bruce was never alone, but Dick didn't really think Bruce's companion of the week would do much for him if he had a stroke or something. Maybe if Bruce got on his hands and knees and begged Selina to come back to him now, but...

Bruce's world wasn't his. That was why he moved to the 'haven to begin with; there was no part of Gotham that wasn't touched by the Wayne family name, or the playboy who now wielded it. Instead of giving out lectures about nightclubbing through life, Bruce should settle down...

Clancy greeted him, and Dick halfheartedly greeted her back, making sure to keep moving. If he even stopped to get his mail, she'd come out and talk to him. He tried to be nice about it, nice to her, because she was nice, but he just didn't have the strength for it.

I know you don't want to hear it, but we should discuss medicine...

He fumbled around a bit with the box, searching for his keys, and then it took a few minutes for him to get it in right. He heard Amygdala downstairs in the laundry room. They might be getting a new washer again soon...

He got inside, and locked the door behind him, flipping every deadbolt and hooking every chain. It was a stupid OCD that he hated to see resurface... it wasn't that he felt unsafe.

He needed to squash down the urge to seek out danger, in fact, with everything he had or...

He put his keys on the hook and took off his jacket, still holding the pizza box. He caught his own eye in the mirror under the coat hooks, and he froze for a second. He couldn't catch his breath, and he felt a cold sweat break out. Looking into his eyes...

He moved quickly to the kitchen and put the pizza box down, and went to the fridge, pulling out a beer. He hated how much he'd taken to drinking lately, but...

The cap spun around in the sink as he took his first drink. First drink. Had he really gotten used to thinking like that?

It's not quite like when you were younger, right? Those old delusions... you longed for revenge for your parents' murder...

He stripped out of his uniform, because he had enough sense not to make a mess out of that, but he didn't bother putting on any other clothes. Being a cop in the 'haven, being a decent cop, no matter what, he got plenty of exercise. A few drinks and a few bad meals wouldn't hurt him. Still. He used to eat better.

Vegetables... had it been that long since he'd had any? Not quite a year... Last Christmas...

This Christmas, he hadn't even put up a tree. The box with the decorations Alfred gave him was in the corner of the living room. He'd spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Bruce and Alfred. And Kimmie, of the recent surgical enhancement.

He wasn't completely dead. He thought Kimmie looked damned good. How Bruce stood that giggle...

It was nice, in the way that things at the Manor were always nice. Late Christmas Eve night, he and Alfred finished off Santa's cookies in the kitchen, really talking...

He missed having someone to talk to, but he didn't want Alfred worrying about him, so.

It was limiting, but still. It was nice.

He should have no need to put on a mask...

You were with Garth last year this time, right?

New Year's Eve in the 'haven was... fun. For the crack heads. For cops, it meant double shifts and extra shifts and no sleep and ten times the danger. Actually, now that he thought about it, he got shot at three times last night. It was a New Year now, wasn't it? Much too late for the decorations, then...

Yeah, and last year, he had Garth.... he decorated for Garth. Because Garth wanted him to, so he did. And they started in the middle of the night, because that was when he got off shift. It was two days before Christmas, and Garth had been waiting... so they just started. And then the lights didn't work, and he insisted on being able to rewire them. The next day, he went to work with burnt fingers, and when he got back, Garth had lined up three new packages of lights on the counter.

He had Christmas Day off, too, a year ago, but he ended up going in anyway, because they were short-staffed. Garth was waiting for him when he got back...

He got up, dissatisfied, and shoved the empty pizza box into the garbage. He pulled off his boxers and headed for the shower.

Memory was a pain. Thinking about Garth... about Bruce, even. About...

His parents.

Such a pain.

Are you disappointed in yourself because you can't save the world, or because you're alone and so now you can think about how you can't save the world?

He was only human. He knew that. Human arms and legs and skin... nothing else he could be. He turned his face to the spray. Garth loved the water...

Well, of course he was lonely. It hadn't been a year... how long was it, really? They were still together for Valentine's Day. Dick had to work. Did Garth leave before St. Patrick's Day? He was definitely working that day...

His job used to be his passion. But he also had Garth. And now, everything was different, sure. He'd gotten things backwards. It was obvious now. He always wanted to save the world... every kid did, but he had a reason. He wanted to avenge his parents. He thought Bruce would understand, and in his own way, he did. He tried his best. He wanted to make things better for Dick, and he did... he really did. Bruce had his own mental problems, which was why he did the things he did, just like Dick.

Dick, though, had those dreams, and delusions... Leslie was a family friend of Bruce's, she helped him when his parents died. In his mind, Dick always tried to make it seem so normal. Every kid had problems growing up. His were just magnified. He hadn't needed to medicine in a long time.

He had a drawer full of masks, and thick gloves, and 'utility' belts. He always volunteered for every shift he could get. He moved to the only city in the country with a higher per capita crime rate than Gotham for a reason. It was ten months ago that he'd been shot... that was right. It was a flesh wound. It was the third time in his life that he'd been shot. He'd been in love... but Garth left him, because Garth didn't want to watch Dick's protracted suicide...

'Are you sure this is what your parents in heaven want?'

Those had been Garth's last words to him.

He got out of the shower, realized that his hair was still soapy, and he got back in and ran cold water over himself. His parents...

Truthfully, he was too young when they died to know what they wanted. The image of them in his mind... by now, all he really saw was the blood.

It would have been a miracle if he hadn't ended up fucked up.

You joined the police force to help people. You are helping people. Is it enough?

He brushed the towel over his head, but then he just tossed it aside. He paced around his bed a few times, forgetting what he wanted to do...

Unsure of what he wanted to do...

He stopped before his dresser, and impulsively opened the drawer on the left. That was Garth's. He knew what was in there. The pair of flannel sleeping pants he bought for Garth for Christmas last year. But they were the wrong size. Garth still wore them, but they were too big on him, and fell off with little provocation, which was...

Fine, really.

Dick slipped them on. It felt weird. Wrong. He wondered if Garth would forgive him. He wondered if there was really any way Garth would ever, ever find out. That was damned depressing.

Depressing?

He'd had four sessions with Leslie so far, once a week now, and it was only just occurring to him that he might be depressed? Leslie had mentioned it a few times, but she was a medical doctor, and medical doctors thought in terms of symptoms and prescriptions. Which he'd resisted. Even now, he didn't think he needed it...

Again.

What he needed... wasn't a what. He knew that. He knew that back when he was a kid, too. He'd made his peace with his need for vengeance by turning into a need to serve the people, and he liked that. He liked his job, as tough as it was. Maybe because it was tough. When he thought about what would make him happy, though...

He sat down heavily on the bed. There wasn't anything. Not anymore. He couldn't think of anything. Everything he thought about that could make him happy included someone who wasn't a part of his life anymore. Someone who probably never should have been... he was the adopted son of a foreign dignitary, working as a diplomat... he didn't belong in a place like the 'haven. He didn't belong with another man, and someone like Dick. Someone with a history of mental instability that wasn't so historic.

Actually... he still had profiles in his head. He didn't tell Leslie about that, but if he'd told her everything... well. He'd developed code names and he'd even given Garth powers, and an even cooler and more exotic homeland... under the sea, in the lost city of Atlantis. Yeah, he'd worked it all out... He knew it wasn't normal, or healthy, and he knew he shouldn't indulge himself. One of the reasons he got along so well with Garth at first was because they both understood each other, for the pain they went through growing up.

Dick just wasn't fully grown up.

He could prove it, too.





He went out to the kitchen and got another beer, and he finished it while standing over the sink, and then he got another. By the time he was on the last one, he had the music on full blast, and he had gotten into Alfred's decorations. Better late than never, maybe. The Twelve Days of Christmas weren't up yet, he was fairly sure, though he tried to count them out and he got confused. But he did a good job of decking the halls, if his knuckles were any indication, and even though he knew he was drunk, he felt human again as he stepped back and looked over his handiwork.

Nothing wrong with being human.

He took a picture of the decorations, just to prove that he'd done it, something like that, and he went to his laptop, hooked up the camera, and loaded the picture. It looked really great! He fired up his email.

The email address might not work anymore. Probably not. It was nearly a year. Dick didn't want a whole year to go by... He never got to say a lot of things, because he hadn't been sure what was going on while it was going on. And he knew now that Garth was right, but knowing that didn't do him any good since Garth was far away.

He might even already be with someone else. Dick didn't want to think about that, though, if he didn't have any more beer.

The message seemed short and sweet to him. He said he was sorry and did the the decorations by himself that year, and he didn't want to keep missing Garth. That seemed like a good message. He made sure to attach the picture. Yeah, it was all good. He sent it.

Yeah. It was good. Maybe. His head was spinning, so he stood up, nearly dropping the laptop, and staggered off to bed. Alone, of course.

Nothing changes as long as you aren't going to change. You have to decide, Dick. What do you want?

He didn't recognize the sound. It was loud, and no matter how hard he hit his alarm, it wouldn't stop. That was, of course, because it wasn't his alarm. He couldn't remember if it was supposed to be his alarm. Had he forgotten to set it? Had he already turned it off? Maybe it was the precinct, calling him. Was he supposed to work? He shouldn't have drunk so much...

It was the phone, but it wasn't the precinct. He just stared at it for a few minutes, and then he grabbed the phone, and answered it...

"Hello?" he croaked out. He felt like it had been weeks and not hours since he'd last had any human interaction, and his throat felt covered in moss. He also didn't really believe it could be...

"Morning, Dick. Let me guess. You're hung over, right?"

That was Garth's voice. The cultured-sounding tones, just because he was foreign. The warmth. The depth. Garth sounded... far away.

Damn.

"H-how'd you know?" Dick replied with stunning wit. He rubbed his face with his hand. He needed to wake up, fast, so he didn't mess this up...

"Well... because you decorated your living room with your blood, it seems," Garth dryly replied, but to that, Dick could only grunt in confusion. "Go and look."

Obediently, Dick got up. Maybe too obediently. The room spun because he stood up too fast, and the sleeping pants, Garth's sleeping pants, fell off of him. Damn. He bent down and picked them up, cradling the phone against his ear as he walked out to the living room and tied the pants tighter.

He blinked a few times as he got out there, because it was much brighter than the bedroom...

He had strewn a few light strands haphazardly over the window sill, the back of a chair, and mostly the floor. The fake evergreen wreath was decoratively displayed in the fire place, with a stocking on top of it. A Happy New Year banner was draped over the coffee table.

A bunch of glass ornaments in various states of carnage were plopped here and there, and like Garth said, some of them had more blood on them than others. He looked down at his hands.

"What a mess," he sighed. "Shit. I barely remember... I mean, I thought it looked good last night..." he finished lamely.

It was painful, not just because his hands were stinging now that he was aware of them. He didn't mean to open up the conversation with Garth like this. He wanted to show Garth that he was better. He wasn't going to obsess over his work anymore. He wasn't going to keep his head in the sand and ignore what was going on in his real life... He wasn't a superhero. He was just a man. He couldn't save everyone, or really, anyone, he knew. But that didn't mean he couldn't be happy.

That was what he wanted to tell Garth. That was what he wanted to believe now. Instead, he sent this message...

"Are you all right, Dick?"

"No," Dick sighed, shutting his eyes tightly. He was swaying. He might fall. Shit. "Clearly not."

There was an uncomfortable pause, and then Garth said cautiously, "Why did you send me that email, Dick?"

Because I miss you. Because I love you. Because I was stupid. It wasn't hard to say. He knew that. He bit his lip. He knew... "I've been... been talking to Leslie." He needed to explain things, things he never explained before. The dreams, and the delusions... he wasn't trying to commit suicide when he jumped off that building when he was sixteen. He honestly thought that he could... well, not fly, but that he had the gear to jump from rooftop to rooftop safely, and... fight crime. He believed it. He believed that Bruce had a secret second life. Because... Bruce understood! He'd lost his parents, too! He needed to make things right! He believed... that if he could just cross the threshold, he could enter the life he was supposed to be living...

He needed to explain to Garth, so Garth would understand that Dick now understood, he finally got it, he was living the life he was supposed to be living, or he was, when Garth was living with him. Even if Garth rejected him, Dick wanted to explain.

"Talking to her... professionally? Like... therapy?" Garth prodded him.

Dick took a look at his hand, and then he took a deep breath. "Yeah. It's the not the first time. I know that might seem surprising to you, since I never... I didn't take care of myself... like that, back then... when we were -"

"I'm glad you're getting help," Garth cut him off. "I'm... I'm really glad."

It sounded like there were things that Garth wanted to say. Was he having trouble finding the words because he wasn't sure what they were in English, or was he trying to figure out how to tell Dick something or...? "I want to see you," Dick blurted out. No, that didn't sound right. "I mean, I know you might not want to see me. I understand that. I want to see you... I need to see you. I need you. I'm sorry... because it's taken too long, and I didn't understand, but... If you could. Could make time in your schedule. I don't know. If you have free time, I've got time stocked up..."

"That's not new," Garth said gently.

Dick winced. "No, I know... um. Are you busy with the consulate, is there a chance...?" he asked, hopeful.

Garth took his time in replying. "I'm not working with the consulate anymore. Things... happened. I'm working as a consultant now, for a few media outlets, writing... well. That's... I can explain it better face to face, I suppose."

Dick slowly let out a breath. Face to face... "Yeah, me, too."

"I can come to the 'haven -"

"No, I'll come to New York. You're in New York? I'll come. I... I owe you at least that much. Since you're willing to talk to me after everything..." Dick shuddered a bit. That... that felt fucking miraculous.

"Dick..." Garth started nervously. And then he sighed. Dick loved the way Garth sighed. So cute... "I've been waiting for you to want to talk to me. I was about to give up."

Dick grabbed onto the counter to hold himself steady, because his knees were giving out. Garth was... he'd... for... "It's been nearly a year. Nearly. We can at least say that it takes me less than a year to figure out the obvious."

He thought maybe that Garth wanted to laugh, but there was only so much that could be told from listening to a phone...

Face to face. That was better.

"You're coming here, then?"

"Just... let me clean up," Dick said grimly.

Garth laughed that time. And he warmly added, "Wear rubber gloves, please."

Dick smiled, grateful. He felt completely at odds with himself. But something was becoming clearer.

And when he packed up all the trash from his 'decorating' spree, he'd throw out all the masks he had, and everything else, too. He didn't need it. He wouldn't need it. It wasn't what he wanted.

It was time for a new year. Or a new Tuesday, depending on how he looked at it. A new something, and he was damned ready for something new again.








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