SPIFFY DISCLAIMER THINGIE!!!

I don't own them (mores the pity!); they're DC's and Ah'm usin'em without permission:):) Ah ain't makin' a plug nickel! If ya'll sue me Dick and Bruce are gonna be right peeved ...

Rated PG-17 for implied sexual content and some verbal violence and a couple of naughty words. So if those sort of things bother ya'll, skedaddle:):)

Ah am also using the lyrics of Bruce Srpingsteen's "Dancing In The Dark" and "I'm On Fire" without permission. Ah stole the suckers:):)

Ah have adapted Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of the Heart" and Kenny Roger's "Sweet Music Man" for the purposes of the story. Again, without permission! But Ah do apologize!

A note of personal thanks to all my beta readers! Especially my new friend Syl for betaing above and beyond the call of duty and for the Challenge that sparked this story. And to all the members of the Nightwing Mailing List whose response to the question of what musical influences Dick had formed elements of this story! Bless ya'll:):) Any mistakes in grammar, spelling, continuity, characterization and such that are left are entirely mine. That said: On with the story!

Music Of The Night

A Titans Tale by Dannell Lites

I was the one who cleared out Joey's room.

I guess that's one of the responsibilities that come with leadership. Not that I asked to be leader of the Titans. I didn't. Leadership isn't one of the many, many things I learned from Bruce. As a leader, The Batman sucks. He expects instant and complete obedience and doesn't really understand it when he doesn't get it. I guess a lot of that is my fault. Poor Bruce. Here I had to go and grow up on him. Damned shame really, but what could I do? No one can be a Boy Wonder forever. Least of all *me*

Adeline took care of Joey's apartment. She kept all the paintings and sculpture. She gave most of his music to Roy. The Great Frog lives! But she gave me his guitar. I don't think she left a damn thing for Slade. I'm starting to worry a little about them. Adeline tried to kill Slade once when he just allowed Joey to be hurt. God knows what she'll do now. I think that sooner or later I'm going to be going to another funeral. The only question is whose. Personally, my money is on Adeline. The simple harsh truth is that I don't think Slade could kill her. Not after what happened. She has good reasons for wanting him dead. At the very least, I dot think he'll try very hard to stop her when she comes to kill him. And she will. I'm starting to worry about Slade, too, more than I like. He's a strange, hard man. He hasn't cried at all. Not a single tear that anyone has seen. But he's getting a little ... reckless. The Terminator is good. Really good, but sooner or later ... He won't talk to anyone and no one has anything to say to him, really. That ... thing ... he killed wasn't Joey. It was never Joey. If I tell myself that often enough maybe I'll believe it. I don't think Slade ever will, not in his gut where he lives. He killed both his sons.

Adeline gave Joey's sketchbook to Raven. I guess that's appropriate since most of the drawings there were of her. There was one of me, though. Raven thought I might want it. I have it tucked away in a nice safe place. I'm really not sure how to feel about it, to tell you the truth. It's beautiful. But, then all of Joey's art is beautiful. He had a lot of talent. I know how Roy would feel if the drawing had been of him and he'd seen it. He would have gone ballistic in about two seconds. I'm not Roy. I don't know. Gar was the only one who ever even came close to asking the question. The kid worries a lot about things that don't matter or concern him sometimes Virginity will do that

to you. "What do you think about Joey?" he asked me one day. The Tower is a big place and it can seem really empty in the middle of the night. Annoyed, I decided to play dumb.

"Think what about Joey?" I returned. Gar rolled his eyes as if asking release from God from the trials of dealing with stupid people.

"You know ..." he prompted. "Is he or isn't he?" He waved a limp green wrist in the air.

That did it. I turned from the monitor screen and faced him squarely. I've learned a lot from Bruce over the years about intimidation. I'm much more subtle about it than he is, though. My voice was it's usual light and friendly self. It was the hard look in my eye that made the kid squirm.

"Is he or isn't he what, Green Genes?" Gar hates that name and flushed to hear it from me. The kid tries hard not to disappoint and I was telling him that he had. Then he started to look defiant and I had to put a stop to that.

"Do you mean *is* Joe a good man? The answer is yes. Do you mean *is* he a Titan? Again, the answer is yes. Any other questions?"

"Aw cut me some slack willya?" he muttered. "I was just curious, that's all. I didn't mean anything by it." I softened.

"Gar," I'd told him honestly, "I don't know. But does it matter? There are a lot of good standards to judge people by. Who they sleep with isn't one of them."

It didn't matter now anyway did it? Joey was dead. He wasn't ever going to make love to anybody again. Ever.

I was careful when I packed away Joey's clothes. He didn't keep much at The Tower but some of

them were his favorites. Folding his comfortable lived in jeans and tee-shirts, I laid them in a cardboard box and tried hard not to think. But I couldn't help but wonder what would happen to them. Adeline would probably give them away to charity. I was surprised at how uncomfortable that made me. It was like giving Joey into the hands of strangers. Would the new owner of his Pearl Jam tee-shirt ever know how much he'd loved it? And his dance shoes ... Would their new owner ever feel that rush of transcendent joy that was so obvious on Joey's face when he danced? God I hoped so. I sighed.

I wasn't sure what to do with the address book. After I leafed through it listlessly I was almost ashamed. Ever felt like a voyeur? Honestly, all I meant to do was make sure there were no people listed in there who didn't know. But it was hypnotic in a strange kind of way. This was a record of Joey's life in an abbreviated fashion. It was a thick book. And I was astonished to realize that I didn't know half the people lurking on those neatly written pages. Who was "Rose"? Or "Amber"? There were dozens of names like that, none of whom I could connect with any faces. It gave me a kind of eerie feeling to know that Joey had a life outside the Titans that I knew nothing about. I mean, of course he did. But it just wasn't something I had ever given any real thought to. I was glad that he seemed to have had a lot of friends. Not too surprising I guess. Joey was personable and easy to know.

Suddenly, I found myself frowning. At least on the surface he was. I was beginning to catch an inkling here that there might be more to this than met the eye. I guess it was the size of the book that finally did it. You see, I couldn't help but remember Bruce Wayne's address book. The damn thing is huge. An ever expanding multi volume set. Socialite Bruce Wayne knows an awful lot of people. And not a damn one of them *know* him. Bruce Wayne is a lie; a scam The Batman perpetrates on the world to shield himself. There is no Bruce Wayne. There's only The Batman.

But on the surface of it Bruce Wayne is a happy, air headed, slightly jaded playboy and the world is his oyster. He makes a great hiding place. For the first time it occurred to me to wonder if Joey were hiding. There were many, many names in that book, most of them female. Even if the majority of them were just friends that still left a lot of lovers. It made me sad. I swear my eyes started stinging. Mostly Joey was happy, smiling and silently laughing with those sea green eyes. But ...

Every once in a while when he was tired late at night I'd catch him alone. It didn't happen very often. Joey didn't like to be alone. And sometimes when he thought no one was looking I'd seen the sadness lurking there. Usually that was just before he left to make sure he wasn't alone and sad anymore. It hurt to think of Joey like that.

"Christ, Greyson," I admonished myself. "Look at you, now. All teary eyed because one of your friends had too many lovers ..." I closed my eyes. "And none of them were the right one. But he sure kept looking."

I sat down on the bed. I needed something to do with my hands or I was headed for big trouble. Hurriedly, I picked up a battered old electric guitar sitting by the bedside and plugged it in. Why not? I was alone. I wasn't going to disturb a single soul. It was a 1979 Gibson Hummingbird, a fine elder lady. Softly I caressed her neck and she hummed an A chord for me. I smiled. The strings were a little frayed and she had that polished sheen of much use. She'd seen a lot of love in her day. Before I knew what was happening my fingers betrayed me and I began to pick out the strains of Springsteen's "Dancin' In The Dark". This was not good, people. I don't play The Boss unless I'm in a certain mood. The first time I ever told Bruce I wasn't going to be The Batman was to this tune. It seemed to roll off my fingers against my will and I stopped fighting it and let it come.

I get up in the evening

And I ain't got nothing to say,
I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain't nothing but tired
Man, I'm just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby I could use just a little help

You can't start a fire

You can't start a fire without a spark
This gun's for hire Even if we're just dancing in the dark

My fingers flew and the guitar sang my pathos. I began to move about the room, really hitting my stride. My fingers weren't the only that that would soon be bleeding, though.

You sit around getting older

There's a joke here somewhere and it's on me
I'll shake this world off my shoulders
Come on baby the laugh's on me
Stay on the streets of this town
And they'll be carving you up all right
They say you gotta stay hungry
Hey baby I'm just about starving tonight

You can't start a fire sitting 'round crying over a broken heart

This gun's for hire,
Even if we're just dancing in the dark
You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart
This gun's for hire

With a final flourish I laid E Street to rest and stood there panting like a wounded animal. The Batman does not like Springsteen. Bruce doesn't understand rock and roll. And he spends too many impatient hours at concerts and fund raising society galas to really appreciate classical. Jazz is his thing. The complex patterns and rhythms appeal to him, I suspect. Me too for that matter. But rock speaks with a loud voice that refuses to be ignored. Most of it is proud rebel stuff. It irritates the crap right out of Bruce; always has, always will. At the moment that was reason enough for me to launch into "I'm On Fire".

Hey little girl is your daddy home

Did he go away and leave you all alone
I got a bad desire
OOOOOOO!
I'm on fire

Tell me now baby is he good to you

Can he do to you the things that I do
I can take you higher
OOOOOOOO!
I'm on fire

At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet

And a freight train running through the middle of my head
Only you can cool my desire
OOOOOOOO!
I'm on fire

By the time I had put the icing on the cake with Bowie's "Putting Out Fire With Gasoline" I was covered with cold sweat, washed out and limp as a used dish rag. My knees were barely supporting me when I reached to put the Gibson back in it's velvet lined case. Nothing makes you think like mortality, does it? Music has always made me think. I didn't much like what it was making me think just now. I was starting to remember all the bad times; every time Bruce had ever treated me as less than I am, every time he'd refused to acknowledge that he needed me. Nietsche once said that pain is instructive. No wonder Bruce is the smartest man I know. He and I have given each other a lot of instruction over the years. For far too long there has been a Bruce sized hole in my life. And I had no idea of how to fill it. Sometimes I'm terrified that no one can see me anymore. That I've disappeared into his shadow. And sometimes I miss him so much my teeth hurt. If there was a solution to the problem I sure couldn't see it.

There was something laying on the bottom of the guitar case. I hadn't noticed it when I'd pick up the instrument, but now it caught my eye. The worn pages were creased and dog-eared at the edges. Even at first glance I could tell that they had been written and rewritten several times. I recognized the handwriting right away. It was Joey's. I was looking at some of his music.

I have always loved music. Some of my first memories are of the tinkling calliope in the Big Top and the reverberating crash of cymbals and drums as my parents flew. Mom was a big Beatles fan. My Dad on the other hand thought that Beverly Sills was a Goddess. The other Titans were the closest friends of my teen years and music was a large part of the glue that held us together at first. Roy introduced me to White Zombie and metal. And I'll never forget the look on Donna's face the first time she heard Aerosmith and "Janie's Got A Gun". She was appalled and fascinated at the same

time. "Welcome to rock and roll," said Roy.

And Alfred got in on the act, too. Did you know the man can sing? Really well as a matter of fact. When he was planning to take the stage and break a long standing family tradition in those bygone days of yore, one of the things he learned to do was sing. You haven't lived until you've heard him sing "The Impossible Dream" And his version of the Phantom's "Music Of The Night" will freeze your blood at fifty paces, I guarantee you. But when he climbs up on that prissy Henry Higgins high horse for "Why Can't The English?" death by asphyxiation from laughter is a definite possibility.

So, I've had a lot of musical influences in my life. Joey was a really good guitarist. Actually Joey was really good at most things artistic. I think the one thing he never forgave Slade for was taking his voice away from him. He couldn't sing. But he could write music, apparently. Somehow, I wasn't surprised. Joey was a great dancer, too, whether it was classical ballet or the Frug. He could just move. It used to piss Roy off royally.

"Christ on a Cruise Missile," he fumed at me once, "isn't there anything artsy-fartsy that guy doesn't do?"

Not that I noticed, no.

And then I saw the title of the song.

"Bruce's Song For Dick".

My fingers went numb. The urge to stuff those pages back down into their velvet lined prison where I couldn't see them pierced me like a sharp knife. But I couldn't. My eyes roamed down the damming pages. Eventually, I found myself cradling the Gibson in my hands and playing softly. The song flowed like water.

Turnaround, Every now and then I get a little bit angry and I try to drive you away

Turnaround, Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my fears
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by
Turnaround, Oh, Every now and then I get a little bit brutal and then I see the look in your eyes
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and then I fall apart
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and then I fall apart

Turnaround, Every now and then I get a little bit restless and I dream of something bad

Turnaround, Every now and then I get a little bit driven when I'm trying hard to save you from harm
Turnaround, Every now and then I get a little bit guilty and I know I've got to get out and fly
Turnaround, Oh, Every now and then I get a little bit harried but then I see the smile in your eyes
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and then I fall apart
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and then I fall apart

And I hear you now tonight

And I need you more than ever
If you'll only hold back the night
We'll be fighting on forever
And we'll only be making it right
Cause we'll never be wrong together
We can take it to the end of the line
Your faith is like a balm upon me all of the time
I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I'll really listen tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight

Once upon a time things were falling in place

But now they're only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time you were light in my life
But now there's only pain in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

Turnaround bright eyes

Turnaround bright eyes
Turnaround, Every now and then I know you'll never be the boy I'll always want you to be
Turnaround, Every now then I know you'll always be the only one who'll love me the way that I am
Turnaround, Every now and then I know there's no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you
Turnaround, Every now and then I know there's nothing any better and there's nothing for me you won't do
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and then I fall apart
Turnaround bright eyes, Every now and then I fall apart

And I hear you now tonight

And I need you more than ever
If you'll only hold back the night
We'll be fighting on forever
And we'll only be making it right
Cause we'll never be wrong together
We can take it to the end of the line
Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time
I don't know what to do and I'm always in the dark
We're living in a powder keg and giving off sparks
I'll really need you tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight
Forever's gonna start tonight

Once upon a time things were falling in place

But now they're only falling apart
Nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart
Once upon a time you were light in my life
But now there's only pain in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart

I sat there for a long time, just holding the guitar and thinking, my pensive fingers idly playing with the battered much loved instrument like an old friend. Damn Joey, I thought. This isn't fair. You met Bruce how many times? Less than half a dozen, I'll bet, all told. And just look at this. I'd swear you knew him better than I do now. How did that happen? I guess when you can't spend a lot of time talking to other people you spend more time watching them. And when you're smart enough to actually *know* what your seeing ... the silences; the things people don't say ... It can get pretty scary, huh? Or maybe it wasn't that you were so good at seeing Bruce. Could it be that I'd just lost sight of him? Beneath my spasming fingers, one diamond coated guitar string snapped.

I remember thinking I needed to chill. When did it happen, I wondered? I ... love ... Bruce. He's not my father. And yet .. he is. My father and my best friend. And the closest thing I'll ever have to a brother. When did he become a stranger? Why could Joey, who hardly knew him, see him so clearly and I couldn't? The forest for the trees, I guess. Silently, I put the guitar aside. My jaw started to ache from being clenched so hard. But it wasn't until my lip began to bleed on the inside where no one could see it, that I started to get a little panicky. Oh, I had learned a lot more than criminology and martial arts from Bruce hadn't I? Much more. I took a deep breath. One of us was going to have to break the silence. One of us was going to have to say it. It wasn't going to be Bruce. Bruce ... can't. It looked like I was elected. I always said that I didn't want to follow in The Batman's footsteps. Here was my chance to prove it. Much as I admire him, there are some things I don't *want* to learn from Bruce.

Suddenly I felt as though a great weight had been lifted Atlas like from my shoulders, now that I knew what I had to do. Relaxed, I was actually smiling when I reached for the phone. It rang several times before I heard that familiar baritone voice on the other end of the line.

"Hey, Kemo Sabe ..." I said softly.

"Dick ..." was all he said. Sometimes one word can say a lot. We talked for a long time.

I've written this song. Oh, I've composed a few others in my time it's true. Way back in the Jurassic period when Teen Titans roamed the earth. There are no known survivors, trust me. Roy was way into music and it was infectious. So I tried my hand at it a couple of times. Mostly hard rock. But this song is different. It's not rock and roll, that's for sure. I think it's might be pretty good.

I wouldn't listen and I couldn't see

And all I have left now are words you wrote for me

Sing your song Sweet Music Man!

You spend too many days in your friends hands

You do for them what they ask you to
You're a hellava an artist and a beautiful man
But you surround youself with people who demand too damn much of you
You touch my soul with your beautiful songs
Even had me singing along right with you!
You said, "I'll play for you!"
Then you wrote the words and added harmony
And you played the song you'd written for me
Like it was new

And nobody writes a love song quite like you do!
Nobody else can make me sing along
Nobody else can make me feel
That things are right when they're wrong with a song
Nobody writes a love song quite like you!

Sing you song Sweet Music Man!

Cause I can't be there to hold your hand; I'll sing for you!
Now the songs you've sung to so many people
Have all begun to come back on you!
So sing your songs Sweet Music Man
Don't go breakin' your heart doin' one night stands
Let me prove to you -
You're still a hellava an artist and a beautiful man
I'm always one last friend you can cling to!

And nobody writes a love song quite like you do!
Nobody else can make me sing along
Nobody else can make me feel
That things are right when they're wrong with a song
Nobody writes a love song quite like you!

So sing your song Sweet Music Man -

I'll remember you ...

I call it "Joey's Song". I have absolutely no idea what to do with it.

Maybe one day I'll sing it.