Dracoverse/Beach Boys:


by Kael

Title : Hero
Rating : PG-13
Summary : Two Titans walk into a bar... (underage, yet! *gasp*)
Disclaimer : No money, don't sue.
Notes : If they were mine, this is what would've really happened when the guys were teenagers.
Thanks to kerithwyn, as always, because if she and Dannell hadn't written Sea and Sky, Kaylee would never've said "I want a Dick and Garth of my own to live in the Dracoverse!" and none of this ever would've happened. This is backstory for the -- Guess! -- Yes, that's right, the Dick and Garth who live in Kaylee's Dracoverse.


The room was full of young twenty-somethings barely dressed in loud colors and stretch fabrics. Many of the men stood with chests out and arms flexed, emphasizing the cut of their muscles. Many of the women stood in postures that highlighted other assets, maintaining their personal mysteries by feigning avid interest in the men.

I could've stayed at the Tower and watched this kind of crap. Without fifty bucks for a cover charge.

Dick poked a toothpick through the olive in his drink, several times, never pushing it beneath the surface of the liquid. He considered actually drinking the thing. With the music thumping and the multi-colored lights shifting wildly, the smiling faces and loud laughter, he really should be able to manage a better mood without the help, but he was almost willing to try it. Why weren't all those truisms about crowd mentality and contagious emotion ever applied where they might do him some good?

He should be dancing. Or checking out one of the girls who was checking him out. Heck, checking out one of the guys who was checking him out; there wouldn't be any grief about it at an upscale club in a metropolitan city. There were some guys already dancing in couples in the mix.

He was young. He was wealthy. He had a good body and cool hair, and a second-generation patent on mysterious allure. He had every right imaginable to forget the world and his responsibilities for one night and just enjoy himself.

He was trying, damnit. He'd learned how to loosen up -- even Kory had said so. Just, tonight, he kept finding himself communing disinterestedly with his pin-cushioned olive, or staring glumly into the crush of dancers with a running commentary in the back of his mind to the effect that living in a Tower full of world-class athletes had rather spoiled his casual appreciation of normal people. Why couldn't one of those rhythmically moving bodies suddenly become irresistible, so this wouldn't be so much work? Why didn't he know what the heck that 'this' was? Why was he sitting on a barstool brooding about brooding?

He ate the olive.

What was he doing, anyway? He hated bars. They always reeked of burning tar and hair spray and wrecked cosmetics trucks. He was also too young to be in this particular club, not that it'd been a challenging infiltration. Bruce would have a full out, disappointment-fueled Bat-fit if he knew Dick was breaking laws with no better motive than a night's distraction.

The people who kept cruising him seemed much more approving.

He should be feeling smug, and cool, and rebellious, riding the high of being above the rules and abandoning himself to his own pleasures. He was sure of it. He'd been listening to Roy talk about it for years.

Watching people exchange names, then be inside one another's clothes on the dance floor two minutes later, he mostly felt like he needed a shower. None of this was like him. Nothing tonight was normal. He and Garth had a fight. A first fight. And he'd run off to a bar. He was living a country western song.

Well. He and Garth had an argument, really.

Sort of.

It was still a first. It would've been an argument with Kory.

Whatever it was about.

He'd said... something, or Garth had, or one of them hadn't said something, or done something; Dick couldn't remember. It couldn't've been important. But by the end there'd been Garth looking at him like he was an axe-murderer, and apologizing, and getting quieter and quieter, and Dick saying, "For what? You don't even know, do you?" when he couldn't remember himself, by then. Then there'd been Dick getting frustrated, and sick of the whole thing, and taking off, and Garth watching him leave without saying a word.

If it'd been Kory, they'd've yelled the walls down and be making love by now. But no, Garth was back at the Tower thinking the worst of him for who the hell knew what, and their whatever was now officially unlikely to ever reach the making love stage.

Damnit. How exactly did you get from "we don't know why we're not-exactly arguing" to "do whatever you want, Dick, of course, you don't owe me anything?" How did that even make sense? Dick could never tell what Garth was thinking, but he'd thought he had a good gauge on the feeling part.

It'd taken the first person he was in love with's getting married and deciding to stay and help her treaty-husband's consort and her sister rebuild a planetary empire -- which, angst at the time aside, was kind of understandable -- for them to split. He'd just told Alfred about Garth a week ago, which was about ten steps past bringing somebody home for dinner. He'd even gotten all sappy about it. How could something as final as the look on Garth's face as Dick popped the clutch on his bike come from a "we have no idea why we're fighting" fight?

At least with Kory, he always knew when and how he'd screwed up. He never had to wonder. And Kory would've never let him get away with taking off like that, he'd really thought Garth cared more than--

Dick made a face at himself, and took a gulp of his drink, and barely stopped himself from making another face. He probably wouldn't've liked it any better before the melting ice watered it down, either. This whole night was stupid. He led a team of warriors in battle on a regular basis -- why had he thought this would be enough of a thrill to cheer him up?

"Hi." A bright smile attached to laughing brown eyes and a cloud of curly hair neatly derailed his train of thought. A slim, curvy body bounced lightly onto the stool beside him, then leaned forward over the bar to order a drink. It came quickly, and she turned back to him with the thin straw between her lips, giving him a slow, mischievous, assessing look.

Right. This was where the cheering up came in.

Before he could say anything, she finished her sip and smiled up at him out of slightly tilted eyes. "I noticed you've been sitting here for a while. Are you waiting for someone in particular?"

"Y-- well, no. Not in particular." Because that would be stupid, to be expecting Garth to come after him. Very, very stupid, and he hadn't been.

Her smile got more playful. Her eyes were nice, as much golden as brown, and expressive. The rest of her was nice, too. It'd been months since he'd let himself give full appreciation to a set of nice breasts or soft curves. His body flushed pleasantly, and he grinned, and hoped he didn't look like he was blushing.

Something else he'd gone too long without appreciating about women was how easy things were with them. You got a spark of chemistry, you touched a little, smiled a little, kissed a little, and then you just let the emotions happen while you were enjoying where the chemistry led you. There was none of this frustrating, months-long, figuring things out without so much as a serious make-out session.

He'd perched far enough from the speakers that they could actually hear one another without shouting. He made a shaky attempt at flirting and watched her laugh at him in a friendly way. Under her teasing encouragement, he lost his awkwardness after a few minutes and remembered that he'd been good at flirting once. Her playfulness warmed as he found his confidence and relaxed.

It'd been a while since he'd done anything like this at all, something normal and trivial and completely without a secondary agenda. He'd almost forgotten how much fun getting picked up could be. The music and the lights made him want to move, and the way Tina's shoulders curved toward him when she laughed made him grin. During his quickly aborted attempt at college, he'd spent some time clubbing. After he'd finally given up his mad adolescent crush on Babs and before Kory came into his life with a wrecked spaceship and a kiss, he'd learned how to take a night of dancing and flirting with a stranger for the fun that was in it, without taking it too seriously. Being genuinely interested in a stranger's conversation, without ulterior motives and evaluations running counterpoint, hadn't been something his upbringing under Batman had taught him, but he'd enjoyed learning it for himself.

When she finished her drink he ordered her another, and found that his own tasted a lot better when he was smiling than when he was brooding. She really was very pretty, and it really had been too long since he'd let himself notice how appealing a woman could be. There was nothing complicated or confusing about her interest him, either. He had a feeling she would leave with him, if he asked. Not that he would -- he was still trying to get up the nerve to ask her to dance -- but he thought she would. He found himself thinking that the idea wasn't an unpleasant one, and that it was still early, and that maybe a night of mindless sex would do as much for him as Roy always said it did for him.

That thought made him stop laughing.

He never thought like that. The closest he'd ever even come to it was right after he'd been shot and Bruce had told him he would never be Robin again, at least not as Batman's partner. It'd been easy to quiet his mind when he'd been determined not to think about anything that was occupying the ten tracks of his brain that ran under moment-to-moment living. He only seemed to have a one-track mind when the rest were locked down with things he didn't want to think about. He knew that much about himself. Did he really want to let hims--

Tina noticed she was losing his attention, and jumped off her stool as a new song started. She really was light on her feet for a normal person. She offered him both hands and an inviting smile. "I love this song!"

Dick stood automatically and took her hands, noticing how short she was for the first time. She came barely past his shoulder despite her high, strappy heels. She didn't back up as he moved forward, tipping her expressive, vaguely asiatic eyes up at him in mischievous invitation. She smelled nice, and her curls were soft under his hand as he pressed it to the bare expanse of back left by her brief top. Her smile seemed perpetually an instant from a laugh, and he really thought he should kiss it before it could get away this time--

He looks like a complete dork when he grins... God, I think I'm a goner, Alfred.

Tina's expression was puzzled. She started to pull herself up into the hovering kiss, then stopped, frowning.

Dick distantly wondered what his face looked like. This wasn't fun anymore. The tang of the watery drink on the back of his tongue was suddenly nauseating.

He stepped away from the girl and tried to smile. "I don't think I want to dance right now." She started to follow as he moved back toward the bar, but he shook his head and added, "No, you go ahead."

She stopped, surprised, then anger flickered over her face for a moment. At least it wasn't hurt. Then she smiled again, exaggerating a sigh. "I should've known. Well, I sort of did know, the way you were sitting here, but I was hoping you were looking for some distraction."

"I-- was." He turned to ask for a glass of water, the sick taste getting stronger on his tongue as he registered how hot he was. "This was fun..."

He was being incredibly lame, and knew it, but she let him off the hook with a laugh and a quick kiss on the cheek, and a parting wave as she took the drink he'd bought her and moved back into the crush of bodies nearer the dance floors.

The water was ice cold, and he swallowed it in gulps that threatened to freeze his throat, wiping sweat from his face with a clammy palm. Liquor on an empty stomach, not one of his brighter decisions.

He'd almost kissed her. Not that it would've been the end of the world, or even a big deal, but

He'd almost kissed her!

Some girl he'd known for fifteen minutes, when Garth was back at the Tower thinking Dick hated him, just because they'd both been tired and stressed out and had shot off their mouths. Well, he'd shot off his mouth, and Garth had done something equally irritating and indecipherably Garth, but Dick was still the one in a bar almost-kissing strangers while leaving Garth with an almost shouted, "I don't need this!" as a goodbye.

He put a few bills on the bar and picked up his bike jacket. He needed a big sandwich and about twenty minutes of fresh air, and he'd be able to drive back to the Tower. He didn't even know why he'd come, this was so stupid, he'd never wanted to live a soap opera.

There were so many things in his life he couldn't control, but what he chose to do with his body had always been one of them. He'd seen the lifestyle Bruce Wayne's social set considered intense and fast living, and even as a kid he'd thought the only thing they accomplished with their melodrama was to take all the real feeling out of their lives. Why had he been smarter at twelve than he was at almost twenty?

When you meant it, when things were real between people, you didn't need an adrenaline rush every five minutes, you couldn't make it safe, and you didn't take off the moment it stopped being easy. His father, his real father, extremely married and raising a child among circus gypsies, had impressed that on him very early. And he and Garth, whatever they were doing, it was real. From Garth falling into the fountain on the boardwalk to the hand on his arm after the fight today, it was real.

Wide, shocked violet eyes had met his as Dick pulled back from a first kiss, then a crash of salt and spray had literally knocked him off the half-submerged rock. Firm hands had caught his arms and lifted him to the surface before he could get his bearings, and shy, stunned laughter had met him as he broke water, and that dorky grin he'd decided was ridiculously attractive had faded to something quieter, something like wonder, as Dick had tread water and slipped closer, and Garth had been the one to reach for him for a second kiss...

...and he'd just almost traded that for the mockery of cigarette smoke and gin and a tank top?

Dick briefly considered pouring the dregs of the ice water over his head. He was doing it again. Getting melodramatic over nothing much had gotten him into this in the first place. He was leaving now.

Jolted completely out of the mood, the music jangled and the flashing lights were annoying, and people who didn't do enough sit-ups really didn't need to wear low-ride jeans. People with sweaty hands definitely didn't need to try to touch him, even if it was crowded. No one who was capable of sweaty hands had any right to touch him.

He noticed the music had shifted to something completely unfitting for the club as people started muttering, moving awkwardly to a beat that'd vanished abruptly in mid-verse. The DJ came on to say the new song was a very special request, dedicated to a certain blue-eyed bird, but Dick was barely registering it, too intent on making it to the nearest exit, until the chorus picked up.

"...need a hero, I'm holding on for a hero 'til the end of the night, and he's gotta be strong, and he's gotta be fast, and he's gotta be fresh from the fight..."

"'Blue-eyed bird'?" He stopped pushing his way across the dance floor and did a quick scan of the shadowed corners of the big room.There probably weren't five people left on the East coast who would use a line that corny, and he was on a team with at least four of them.

There were a few couples pressed against the walls, reveling in heat and pressure and the edge of exhibitionism, a few loiterers with the look of dealers -- X, probably, but they weren't his problem tonight -- and then, almost hidden from view by the DJ's booth, he caught a flash of very familiar legs, rich navy fabric clinging to long swimmer's muscles. Dick cut sideways across the dance floor rather than moving closer, angling for a better view.

When he got it, he froze.

Garth looked like he belonged in this upscale Manhattan night club. The clothes were nothing that'd been in his closet -- classy and perfectly fitted, with slacks molding the tight hips and begging for hands to rest there, and the fine fabrics limning chest and legs in a way that would tempt a saint to rapture. The fuzzy, frizzy curls were tamed and sleek, and he was slung hip-shot against the wall in a pose only the very young, or the extremely confident and dead sexy, could get away with.

Garth wasn't pulling it off because he looked young.

He was being assiduously cruised, but no one had apparently had the nerve to approach him yet. His chin was tilted down and he was watching the dance floor from beneath lowered eyelashes, everything about his posture an invitation to look and a warning not to presume to touch. He looked like something between a wealthy Italian on the prowl and a slumming Saudi prince.

He is a slumming prince...

Dick shook that thought away -- his mind was being screwed sideways without it, thanks. His relationships-with-royalty insecurities didn't need to be added to the agenda tonight. "... I'm holding on for a hero til the morning light..."

Suddenly it all added up, and Dick laughed out loud. Joey. Joey had to've picked the song, something mocking and appropriate that was mushy but definitely not an apology, from his encyclopedic mental music library. And the hair and clothes -- Donna, of course. Joey and Donna and -- Roy, probably. Dick did a slow scan of the "I am so irresistible the wall is trying to feel me up" pose and shook his head. Definitely Roy. They'd made it a team effort, dressing Garth up and giving him a music and coolness tutorial, and sending him to fish their runaway leader out of his temper fit.

The wry, entirely amused half-smile dropped off his face and he stopped, still about ten feet away, when Garth looked up. The violet eyes, color so intense it was visible from that distance even in the uncertain light, pinned him in place. Heat coiled through his stomach and his mind blanked.

No, for once Garth wasn't looking young at all.

Dick swallowed. Garth tilted his head without a change in expression, offering neither anger nor invitation. Garth was never this intent on anything unless he was upset, but there was nothing flustered in the open, set expression. Garth simply studied him, and Dick felt like he was being evaluated by a stranger. The physical presentation could be a joke, or a game, but the difference in those eyes was something new.

Garth had come after him, but Dick could tell it wasn't to beg forgiveness, or to offer one of his long, involved apologies that started with his lack of understanding of surface culture and went as far into his personal failings in relating to normal people as Dick would allow him to go on any given day. Garth offered those freely and constantly, over the smallest friction. Tonight, though, Dick really had overreacted beyond the call of anything tired and stressed could explain, and it'd apparently been too much for even Garth's patience.

Garth was obviously prepared to hold him accountable this time. In the last few months, Garth had waited for him to initiate everything, and had tried to see his interpretation of every misunderstanding they'd had. Dick'd gotten so used to it, without ever thinking about it, that it'd never occurred to him even in his olive-entranced brooding that Garth might be anything other than hurt and confused by his behavior.

Their friends might've sent him out to offer terms in a way even an irrationally pissed Dick would have to listen to, but Garth didn't look like he was coming to offer the olive branch. The cool observation made it clear that his presence was all the peace-offering Garth was willing to extend. This had been a bit more serious than a lack of consensus over a movie, and this time, Dick could tell, a magnanimous "Ah, forget it," wasn't going to work.

If he'd had the occasional petty flair of annoyance that he was dating a guy who was really still a kid, it was only because he'd never met this man before. It was a mental kick to the head to think this collected, self-possessed person had been inside the guy he'd been falling for, and he hadn't let himself see it. Hadn't given Garth an opportunity to show it. It shouldn't've taken Garth putting on the trappings of an adult in the surface world like a costume for him to notice. It shouldn't've come out over this.

Garth had been so eager to follow his lead about everything that Dick constantly worried about maintaining enough restraint for both of them. At the moment, with just the look in his eyes, Garth was very much asserting that he was his own person, the good intentions of the other Titans and Dick's assumptions aside.

The way Garth was looking at him now, he didn't have to wonder for an instant whether he was going to get anything out of Garth that he didn't want to give. It startled him, and sent a thrill along his skin.

Garth lowered his eyes again, and his voice welled from under the crowd noise. "Dick." And this was another new thing; he'd never heard Garth talk like that before. There was nothing shy or hesitant or even recognizable in the inflection, and he felt his name more than he heard it. In his body, and in his chest where something like panic was fluttering.

He opened his mouth, the words "I'm sorry" on the tip of his tongue. He should say he was sorry, and Garth should, and they should be kissing and then making love.

Garth was still watching him, from under his eyelashes, and Dick found he couldn't make a sound. Garth looked so incredibly intense, and Dick's entire body responded to those eyes, but he couldn't say the words.

Apologies after most fights hadn't been about right or wrong with Kory, they just were. They said it and they meant it, even if they never knew exactly why in a fight like this, and they still wanted one another, and that was good enough.

But this wasn't about better or worse than Kory. It wasn't about Kory at all -- which was a little obvious and a little late, genius -- it was just about Garth. Everything had been different, and he should've known the simplicity of "yell and forget" wasn't going to be part of how they were with each other. With Garth, it wasn't right, it wasn't good enough, and it really was panic in his chest right now, because he didn't know what would be, now that he'd gotten them to this point, and he desperately needed to.

Garth just kept watching him, expressionless, offering no cues. But then he shifted his body, awkward for a moment before settling into another studied "the very air wants me" pose, and Dick didn't know why but he could suddenly breath again. Something in the impenetrable observation had opened. He took a couple of steps forward and offered a slow, very superficial, look, up and down.

"Nice. Very nice."

"Your friends have been instructing me."

There was something significant about Garth saying it that way, at this moment, but Dick didn't have time to catch it before Garth added, "They tell me you're an idiot."

A flash of annoyance cleared some of his dazedness, but then he shrugged and hung his head a little, trying for playful contrition. He could hear Donna saying that, all fire and affection and exasperation, and couldn't be offended.

"They tell me I should ignore everything you say when you're angry."

"Garth, I--" They were only a few steps apart, and Dick tried to meet those intense, searching eyes. He didn't know what to say, but couldn't Garth see--

But he couldn't, of course, and Dick knew that. Garth couldn't make out what people meant, when they meant things that were the opposite of what they'd been saying. His mind didn't work like that. Whether it was Atlantean culture or his weird upbringing or just him, it would never occur to him to expect someone else to read his unstated motives, and he would never presume to know anyone else's mind beyond what they showed him. Garth worked from a basic honesty that Dick knew he himself often made the mistake of dismissing as ignorance at best. Somehow, when it came to the Titans, someone who took everyone at their word was the most complicated to deal with of them all.

Garth took a step closer and caught Dick's upper arm, gently. Dick felt a shivery tingle spread from the touch and caught his breath. Whatever the difference in Garth, in what Garth was letting him see, tonight, it increased the attraction between them by an order of magnitude.

"Garth--" he said again, equally unsure of what words he meant to come after it. He drew a deep breath, hoping something would come out on it, but he caught the unique tang of Atlantean body scent through the miasma of club smells. The heat in his stomach coiled lower, and his mind blanked again.

"They tell me I have to fight for you. Not against K'oriand'r's memory, or a new rival, but against you."

Dick almost laughed, but Garth's face was so still and serious. It should've been a joke. Yeah, okay, he could be a jerk and "difficult" and self-obsessed and whatever, but the self-destructive thing was all Roy's bag. He didn't need--

"I don't think I can do that."

Dick stopped breathing again.

"I don't think I know how."

Garth was waiting again, searching his face, and Dick couldn't even swallow. There had to be something to say. He should tell Garth he was wrong, that it wasn't going to be that difficult, that he'd been an idiot tonight but wouldn't make a habit of it. He should tell him that their friends didn't know him as well as they thought they did, and that they needed to keep their advice to themselves. He should tell him that he thought he was in love with him, and that he wasn't masochistic enough to drive away someone he valued that much, he wasn't Bruce--

Dick bit his lower lip, just a little, and rested the fingers of his free arm, lightly, on Garth's chest. An Atlantean heart was only a few inches from where a human's would be, and he could feel the strong beat through his fingertips. He wondered if desperately wanting to know how to fix this could be enough.

Something in Garth's expression relaxed. "Dick. Are you... are you glad I'm here?"

"Yes! Of cour--" He bit his lip again. Apparently even the easy questions had complicated answers. He didn't want Garth here because he didn't want to be here. He didn't want to be the guy who hurt people and ran away.

Garth used the grip on his arm to pull him a little closer, and Dick's palm went flat against the hard chest.

"The next time you leave, do you want me to come after you?"

Now Dick couldn't talk for an entirely different reason. This wasn't-- He shouldn't have to-- Anger touched his confusion, then flashed away as quickly. He shouldn't have to say that! He shouldn't, in the same way that they should've said "Sorry!" and gone to bed together. Garth didn't ask the same things of him that Kory did. That didn't mean he didn't get to ask anything at all. Where was it written that Dick was the only one who got to be difficult to deal with?

He slid his arm, tentatively, around Garth's waist. Garth relaxed into it without returning the hold, so Dick pulled himself closer and rested his forehead on Garth's shoulder. Garth needed him to speak plainly, but he still couldn't just--

I don't think I know how.

"Yes, Garth. Come after me." And thank the Atlantean gods for Garth's hearing, because there was no voice in it and he could never have said it again.

"The next time you try to run away--"

"I won't--"

"The next time you try to run away, do you want me to hold on?"

Words for this should never exist. He was who he was, and if Garth couldn't understand that-- His fingers curled in the silky fabric, still feeling the slow, powerful heartbeat. Kory wouldn't--

He lifted his head. When Garth saw his face Dick was suddenly being hugged tightly in return, and that familiar, wild, panicked apology started in the stillness behind the purple eyes.

"Dick, you don't--"

Dick kissed him, then made himself speak clearly and steadily. "Yes. If I'm idiot enough to try this again, please hold on." Garth didn't say anything, but his eyes--

They barely made it out of the club. Garth pulled away long enough to go head first into the neighboring hotel's fountain. The looks that followed him as he climbed out, water slicking thin fabric to every ripple of muscle, made Dick kick the bike into a roar and meet him before he could get back across the street. Garth didn't hesitate in kicking over behind him, and Dick forgot to glare at those who'd been staring as the strong arms locked around his hips. Every inch of this was his. Garth was holding on.

Dick barely managed enough attention to steer them out of the crush of the party district, and once they were in the wind something even wilder seemed to creep under their skin where it was pressed together. Dick put his hand over Garth's where it rested on his hip, and Garth laced their fingers together, and something else slammed through Dick and caught the night air in his chest, and spread. He kicked another gear and squealed a turn past a cop going the wrong way to ever catch up with them in time.

They barely made it into the Tower, with Dick turning every few seconds to meet Garth's eyes, because it was the only way he could breath, with breathing become a new sensation that licked fire through every vein, and Garth touching him, always touching him, not letting an inch of space clear between them for more than an instant.

They barely made it up to Garth's room, all eyes in the Tower suspiciously turned elsewhere as they stumbled through the halls, kissing and laughing and sliding hands anywhere fabric allowed. When the door closed, Garth was out of his clothes and into the water of the broad, shallow tank that served as his bed before Dick could get his own shirt off.

Then the rush fell away. Garth put his feet back on the floor and watched as Dick shed the rest of his clothes, then reached out a hand. When their bodies wrapped together it was easy, and it was powerful, and they literally fell together onto the sheets of the regular bed that'd been in the room when Garth got it, and had suddenly stopped being extraneous, and the way Garth looked at him... They made it take a long, long time, and Garth's cry was, finally, low and hoarse and in that never-heard-until-tonight register that reached into Dick's body, and Dick couldn't hold on any longer, and he yelled, and he could tell it hurt Garth's ears, and they lay tangled on the comforter and laughed at each other.

When Dick had caught his breath, Garth eased away and slipped back into his pool. He went under, and Dick watched him shake his head and take deep, obviously much-needed breaths. Then Garth shifted and rose partly out of the water, and looked at him as if there were a question he would never ask caught in his chest.

Dick followed him into the water as if he didn't realize he was answering.

Eventually Dick stilled, resting across Garth's body, face against the smooth chest and, barely, clear of the water. He wondered idly if he would regret being a Titan-shaped prune in the morning, and was sleepily deciding he was willing to chance it when Garth roused himself, gliding out from under him and out of the tank.

He caught the headboard and had the bed next to the tank with a bare flex of muscle. Dick stared in an interest he had absolutely no energy to pursue, and Garth laughed and dropped a towel over his head before collapsing back into the water. Dick staggered out, and scrubbed himself roughly, and collapsed into the mess of covers, curling close to the tank side of the bed.

As they began to doze, Dick's arm slipped over the bedside to rest on Garth's chest. A broad hand rose to cover it, pressing it close, fingers curling to maintain the contact into sleep. Dick grinned into his pillow, and could feel one beaming back at him from under the water.

As stupidly as this whole night had started, at least they knew something now. They were both going to hold on.