Can't Stop Moving: Five Things That Never Happened To Dick Grayson by Te
September 7, 2004
Disclaimer: Not even remotely close to mine.
Spoilers: Various things for multiple older storylines in multiple titles. Perversely, probably the 'newest' reference is to events in Batgirl: Year One, but you should expect things to show up from various places.
Summary: Dick used to know what he wanted, and he still does. Sort of.
Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Content some readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: This was supposed to be both a birthday present for Jack and my entry for the Dickficathon, but frankly, it works far better as the latter than the former, I think.
Acknowledgments: Much love to the chat crew for audiencing, encouragement, hand-holding, and countless helpful suggestions.
It feels right.
He tries to put it into words -- he's usually pretty good at that, after all -- but that's all he can come up with: It feels right.
He's been here, with Bruce, for three years now, and it all seems to fall into place. One piece after another, one moment after another.
Long Sunday breakfasts after longer Saturday patrols, and the old, battered teddy bear he'd needed so, so badly right up until he realized just how much effort Bruce had put in to getting it for him. A jumpline in his hands and the blue-purple night sky is the biggest of all the big tops.
The suit, and the way -- ways -- Bruce looks at him when he's wearing it.
And how the pride stopped being Dick's favorite of those looks a long, long time ago.
Sometimes he's tried to tell Bruce how it feels -- he's good at words -- and sometimes he thinks he'd gotten it down pretty well. Words like forever, words like best and favorite and just those words that are barely words at all -- the sounds he makes when it's all over and the bad guys are tied-up and unconscious and the innocent victims will clearly be okay and he has to pump his fist into the air and shout.
Those times, he gets it right. And if it seems strange that those are also the times when it seems as though he gets through to Bruce less, well.
He's good at other things, too.
Bruce never, never hugs him first -- but Bruce never pushes him away.
Bruce always starts each spar like work, like practice -- but Bruce almost never stops him from playing. At least, not once Dick has learned whatever lesson he's supposed to.
And he gets it, he thinks. He loves the Manor and he loves Alfred so much it's almost as hard to imagine life without him as it is to imagine life without Bruce, but...
Three years, and it hadn't taken long at all to figure out a little about what he adds to the Manor just by being here. Dick also can't quite imagine what it would've been like to grow up here, almost entirely alone with nothing but the books and the art and the paintings and the Cave which had still been just a cave.
And Alfred jokes and smiles and makes the best cocoa in the world, but he doesn't really talk, not like the people at Haly's had, and definitely not like his parents. He'd never even realized people could eat an entire meal without saying a word and still not be mad at each other or anything, but they can, and Bruce would.
If he wasn't here.
So it isn't about words, even the good and the funny ones, and maybe it can't be, not for someone like Bruce.
But his Mom had once told him that he was tumbling before he was laughing, and even though Dick would rather do both...
Sometimes he has nightmares. And usually it's about people like Two-Face and the Joker -- people who don't really seem like people, but are, anyway, no matter what -- and all the bad things they've done, or tried to do. But sometimes they're about Bruce, and the untouchable, unbreakable line of the back of his cowl into his cape, and how there's nothing beneath but armor, and how even when Dick walks around and around, even when he looks...
There's nothing but the black, shiny line that repels everything, absolutely everything.
Bruce sees him, Bruce looks at him and knows him and loves him -- Dick knows this -- but sometimes Dick is just so afraid that that won't always be true, and he wakes up in his bed and watches the branches of the tree outside his window try and fail to scratch at the windows (the landscaping firm Alfred hired is excellent and precise about things like this), and he has to keep breathing and hugging his knees until he remembers that he's not alone.
And he wishes it was still like the old days, the first days, when he'd never woken up in the middle of the night without the feel of Bruce close by, watching over him, and so, so quiet and careful.
The fact that Bruce doesn't do that anymore is all about the fact that Bruce trusts him, and wants Dick to know he trusts him, but...
He misses it, sometimes.
And he can't ask for it -- he doesn't think he could come up for the words for that if he tried for weeks, because it would just feel wrong -- but there are other ways, and other things.
So it's right -- so, so right -- to move through the manor at night and pause at Bruce's doorframe, and measure himself against the ghosts of chalk marks past for just a moment before slipping in.
Night vision is all about training your eyes, strengthening them until they can use whatever light is available to its best possible effect. He's human, so he can't do much, but his night vision is still better than nearly everyone's except for Bruce.
This isn't about night vision, though. When Bruce sleeps, he pulls the thick, dark winter (but for Bruce, they're all-year) curtains closed all the way, and Alfred had once told him that all attempts to give Bruce a night-light when he'd been a child had ended with the lamps in question carefully packed-up and hidden away.
There's no light to use.
He doesn't need it.
His body knows the way, the way it knows how to flip and move at the first click of a safety, the way his palms curl around the perfect curve of a batarang well before he takes one out of his belt.
And he knows it's probably just sense-memory -- Dick knows exactly how well-trained he is to use such things, and he knows it's what Bruce would call it, but there's more to him than science, even the science of the body.
There's more to the world, to the whole universe than that, and maybe he'll find a way to explain that to Bruce, too.
For now, there's the softness of the duvet beneath his knees, and the tiny, clear hints from the mattress about how to move on it to avoid the only slightly less tiny creaks and squeaks, and that doesn't matter, either, because...
Because, by the time he gets past the fold of the duvet, he can feel the heat from Bruce's body, and because by the time he gets there Bruce has been awake for some time.
"No," Dick says. And he isn't really sure why Bruce keeps asking, because there's nothing like the nightmares to keep him away from Bruce, but that doesn't matter, either. "I just wanted..."
And by then, he has his face pressed to the bed-warm and scarred skin over Bruce's obliques, so he doesn't have to try to come up with the good words for this. All he has to do is rest one arm over Bruce's chest (and his breathing is deep and steady and calm), and reach up with the other to find Bruce's bicep, to squeeze the way he's squeezing with the arm over Bruce's chest.
"Bruce," he whispers, and he knows how much more than that he's saying, but he's never sure Bruce does.
Until Bruce shifts and moves, until Dick's head and neck are pillowed on Bruce's arm, until that same arm is wrapped lightly, loosely, and so very warmly around his waist, and Dick and can shiver and sigh and hold on.
"I love you," he says, with his breath and with the press of his mouth to Bruce's skin, safe and quiet.
Bruce makes a soft sound that isn't quite an exhale and is nowhere near a sigh, and Dick waits...
Bruce's arm tightens around his waist, and his other hand is big and warm on his shoulder, pushing until Dick is on his back. Cold for the heartbeat until Bruce is on top of him, until there's no air that doesn't smell like Bruce, and until Bruce's mouth is moving over his own like he was never asleep at all.
Like doing this is a million times more important than that.
It's right, because when Bruce whispers his name, his breath tickles Dick's face.
And because it isn't just the body, or even the movement. It's the manor, and everything he's had that Bruce hasn't, and the way that includes warmth, and contact, and love that doesn't have to mean --
He doesn't live in that world anymore. He lives here, with Bruce, and he knows that his touch means something very different to Bruce, and that Bruce is the smartest man in the world, but that Dick speaks a language he doesn't, just the same.
And Bruce is warm, and loves him.
She doesn't move like anyone he's ever met before, which makes sense, because she's an alien.
Honestly, truly from another planet -- one whose star only shows up as a faint flicker in the skies over places with no real cities.
The places he hasn't spent much time with since 'Robin' was just a nickname, and his uniform was just a costume.
And it's not like he's unfamiliar with aliens -- he probably knows more than anyone who isn't in the JLA, after all -- it's just that...
Well, he'd never been this close to one. Not for this long. Superman doesn't count, because he doesn't really know anyone who knows Superman and still thinks of him as an alien. Not even Bruce, no matter how much he tries to pretend otherwise.
That's a whole different story, though.
He has an easier time imagining a life where he isn't Robin than he does imagining Kory ("No one has ever called me 'Kory,' before. Is it a sweet-name, like 'Dick?'") anywhere near Bruce for any reason but some major battle.
There are different ways of being alien.
When he thinks about her moving, he's almost always thinking of her fighting, and it's... well.
It's a little disturbing. She's powerful, and skilled, and, most of all, experienced -- and it's not like they don't need that. It's just that she's not...
She wasn't trained the way he was, or even the way Donna was. Sometimes he looks at the two of them and...
Well, he can picture Kory on Themyscira, it's just that he can't quite picture it ending well. For all that the Amazons are a warrior people, and for all that Donna and Kory seem to find a lot of things to talk about, to bond about, he's starting to get that Wonder Woman is a great ambassador not just because she's brilliant and wise, but because somewhere along the way, the Amazons stopped being the kind of 'warrior people' that the Tamaranians are.
If they ever were.
Kory doesn't so much accept that they don't kill as tolerate it.
Dick's learned more Tamaranian war cries than anything else from the language, and it's...
It's a little confusing.
Because it's also not like he's not used to people being violent -- scarily so -- whether or not they were raised to be so. Sometimes Dick's dreams are washed in blood and pain, and that's just one of the things he's had to get used to.
It's just one the things he is used to.
He knows his life isn't like other people's, and that the world can have far more shadows than light spaces.
It's different with Kory, though. It's... deeper, or stranger, or maybe just more important to who she is. And he never wanted to be the kind of person who learns a little bit about a person from a new culture, and about the culture itself, and immediately draws conclusions, but...
There were times when Kory frightened him, and times when she still does.
And it's the way she moves, or doesn't.
With the addition of Vic and Kory to their ranks, full-sized beds stopped being as practical as they could be in the Tower. They all have queens these days. Right now, Kory is making hers look small. From a distance, she's all long, long legs and hair that sometimes seems even longer.
She isn't really at a distance, now.
She'd been perfectly willing to send a sample of it to S.T.A.R. Labs (and Dick had given one to Bruce), but, as of yet, no one can quite figure out how it works, or if it's even really anything like hair at all.
He's not thinking about her hair.
She's flipping through one of Donna's magazines while Dick also doesn't do much of anything useful at all with his History textbook, and Dick is thinking of the fact that they could be in the den, or the meeting room, or anywhere else.
He's thinking of the fact that they're not, and that he knew her mouth tasted something like ripe peaches rolled in cinnamon and pepper before he knew her name.
They do this a lot, actually. Read together, study together. Right now, Kory is probably coming up with fascinatingly wrong ideas about American culture based on the pictures in Cosmopolitan, and he's...
He's still not reading his history book.
And if he's doing anything remotely useful in terms of helping Kory understand this world, he'd be very, very interested in finding out just what that is.
It's the way she moves.
That she is moving, right now -- breathing with calm evenness and turning the pages, one by one, and occasionally rubbing her bare foot along the nap of huge, soft towel she seems to prefer to any of the comforters and duvets they've offered her. ("On Tamaran, rest is tactile.") She's...
She's not still.
It only seems that way.
And part of it is because he knows exactly how much of a difference there would be if an emergency came up, or if someone attacked the Tower. Then every part of her would be moving, every strange, wild strand of her hair.
On a still day, the heat-shimmer around her starbolts is visible.
If he's close enough when she's firing them, he has to adjust his balance against the air displacement.
However, part of it is also...
Sometimes, he feels restless around her, as endlessly, helplessly mobile as Wally on a bad day. He's hideously conscious of every time he breathes off-rhythm, of the tap of his foot, the pound of his pulse in his throat and everywhere else.
It's actually a lot like it was with Bruce in the early days, because Bruce is still right up until he decides he doesn't want to be, and he really never is.
And Wally... there are times when he's wondered if the fact that it was always easy to just cleave to Wally has anything to do with how Wally makes Dick feel still. Like someone who could -- with effort -- be more like Bruce.
He's not sure, at all.
The fact that Kory seems to enjoy his company is... well, that's confusing, too.
He bites his lip, but doesn't really notice that he's doing it until he realizes he can't hear pages turning, until he looks up to find Kory looking at him -- studying him -- with the narrowed and curious eyes of a predator.
Now, now she's absolutely still, foot resting against where the towel has bunched up, a little, and hair seeming nothing but long.
And then she curls her fingers against the cover of the magazine and makes a soft sound that he probably shouldn't categorize as a 'growl.'
She tilts her head upward, toward him, and her nostrils flare, and her lips part.
"I do not understand you, Dick."
She always says his name like it is a pet-name. A sweet-name. Something she's privileged to use, and enjoys accordingly. He smiles, feeling more than a little helpless. More than a little... "What's to understand?"
She doesn't lift off the bed, or even really step off the bed -- though her legs are long enough -- she sort of...
There's a liquid (animal) feel to it, grace and power and (alien) beauty that makes Dick press himself back against his chair. She pauses in front of him, and frowns in something that looks a lot like frustration, and then she cups his face and crouches.
Her nose is a soft, ticklish pressure beneath his ear, and Dick feels himself start to sweat at about the same time that she (growls) makes that soft sound again and presses closer.
"Why won't you do what you want?"
"I -- I don't --"
Her grip on his jaw is as powerful as anything he's ever felt when someone wasn't trying to kill him. "You do. I smell it. I feel it."
"Kory, we can't just... you don't just --"
"They don't." She shoves his head -- lightly -- against the wall. Dick only sees stars for a moment, and then all he can see is the faint, green burn of her eyes. Narrowed again. "I do."
"Well, yes, but --"
"And so can you," she says, and smiles in a way that makes Dick's mouth water with the memory of spice.
And after that it's a little hard to hold on to the sequence of events. Whether or not she kissed him before shoving his knee back to press against his chest. Whether he buried his hands in her hair before or after he bit her lip.
What, exactly, happened to his t-shirt.
Mostly, he can't stop thinking "oh," because it makes so much sense. He would've thought -- he hadn't -- that she would do this...
That she would make love the same way she fought. And there are a lot of similarities -- her fingertips leave a dozen -- more -- promises of bruises, and the next kiss (or possibly the next) tastes more and less normal, because it tastes like his blood.
There are other things, too.
The way she drags her cheek over (all over) his skin, and the way she presses his wrists to the floor and then moves nothing but her hips, her...
Against him, making him arch and toss his head, and the sounds she's making don't sound like war-cries at all.
There are other things, things more important than battle, and she's showing him. She's...
All around him, so hot, so wet, so happy. Smiling down at him like she's never been angry in her life.
No, like she has been, and will be again, but right now...
"Kory..." His voice sounds low, rough and half-strangled.
More than half when she sets her palm against his throat and pushes. Not hard enough to hurt, not really, or even feel uncomfortable. Dick doesn't think he could be uncomfortable, and anyway, the collar on his cape has always been tight, and now her hair looks (right) wild, alive.
More of a corona than a cloud, more vivid than anything else, because everything else is hazy and indistinct. Pressure and heat and good, so good, and he doesn't know he's fighting until Kory throws her head back and screams, until she spasms around him and yells.
Until she releases his throat and Dick can't see anything at all, can't think, can't feel anything but --
And when Kory shifts off of him, she doesn't really move so much as settle herself next to him and squeeze. Dick can feel his elbow digging into her stomach, but Kory just rubs against him and --
Purrs. Definitely purrs.
Dick stares at the ceiling.
She's rubbing herself against the carpeting just as much as she's rubbing against him. She's warm and damp and sweet and spicy and she isn't still.
Like a heartbeat in the darkness, never-ending and steady. Comfort and --
He purrs a little, too.
Jason fights like he's been doing it his whole life -- the wrong way. Wrong in all sorts of ways, and not just the fact that it always feels surprising when his moves are, actually, precise and effective. Even though they are, nine times out of ten.
He fights like...
There are a lot of reasons why Dick doesn't spend too much time in Gotham these days, but Jason seems to like coming to New York, and that's... better.
Easier, in a lot of ways Dick doesn't want to think about. It's one thing to see the kid in his -- in the Robin suit in Gotham, moving over ground and through patches of sky that used to be his own.
It's another thing entirely when Jason is in the Tower, moving careful and cautious and exactly like an animal who knows he's in someone else's territory. Sometimes Dick thinks it would've been easier if Jason didn't move so confidently in Gotham, if he wasn't --
It's all part of the things he tries not to think about.
He has a life now, separate from Gotham, and from Bruce. He's never going to be Robin again, and, when he's brutally honest with himself, he knows the pain of that is more about the fact that it is right than it is about... everything else.
Jason, when he's at the Tower, isn't remotely threatening.
Here, it's okay that 'Robin' has become something entirely separate from himself. Entirely different.
And none of the roiling mass of -- of
everything -- has anything to do with Jason himself.
Jason's just a kid, who happens to be a fighter, and who happens to be Robin.
And there's no one and nothing in this world who can make Dick feel more like Nightwing. One day, he'd like to try to explain that to Jason, some time when the kid's discomfort is just a little more obvious than he can deal with even at his most petty. He'd like to try to put it into words, something to cushion the stark truths of "thank you," and "I wish I'd never seen your face."
For now, he has the visits. He likes having Jason here, and watching him look more like a kid who just happens to be immensely talented and well-trained than Robin. He likes looking at him with the others. Donna, who never seems to know whether she wants to hug Jason or quiz him about everything under the sun. Roy, who has been... well, a little distant just lately, really.
He looks at Jason and Roy and Roy looks like his old self, and it's a lot like looking at the beginning of something wonderful and real, a friendship that could happen, given just a little more time.
And while he thinks Jason could use at least another year or so of working with Bruce, of training with Bruce, there are other ways of being petty, or at least greedy.
One day, if Dick has anything to say about it -- and he absolutely does -- Jason is going to be a Titan. And, while a part of him wonders what Bruce will do then (and it's a large part, so much of him, and for so many reasons), it feels like the sort of decision that it's maybe kind of okay to make without thinking it through to every possible conclusion.
After all, it's not like Bruce is going to talk to him about it ("Please leave now."), and, as for Jason --
Dick twists to avoid the punch that would've hit him square in the kidney and turns to block another few that are only playful because of the grin on Jason's face.
There's a glint in Jason's eyes that he absolutely understands, that he wonders, sometimes, if Bruce does. The smile on Jason's face makes Dick feel fourteen again, and he has to work not to smile back.
And then he has to remind himself that he absolutely doesn't.
"C'mon," he says, and heads toward the training rooms.
Which takes about ten minutes longer than remotely necessary, because Jason doesn't seem to care whether they're moving past furniture, blank walls, or terrifyingly expensive computer equipment. The spar started the minute Dick agreed to it. Something else he wonders about, in terms of Bruce.
Bruce had always wanted him -- both of them -- to be ready for anything at any possible time, and a great deal of his training had involved being taught not to trust just anyone at his back, but this...
The kick Jason throws isn't remotely as high as anything he can do, but the power behind it is obvious. If he lets it land, it'll numb the hell out of his right quad, and also send him flying into a bank of computers.
Forget the electrocution aspects -- the damage would be terrible. He dodges, and blocks the next few wonderful punches and an iffy-looking nerve-strike. The kick Jason telegraphs with the sudden tightness in his quads would send him into still more computers, and he has to leap over it, using the kid's shoulders to brace himself.
It's a move that works pretty damned well on just about every criminal Dick's gone up against, and it had taken Bruce a while to compensate for it, too. But he had, and Jason has sparred with him enough times that --
"Aw, man, you suck --"
He drops and twists exactly the way he should, the way Dick had barely had to work to teach him. Instincts of a street-fighter, Dick thinks, and feels the foundation he's bracing himself on suddenly fail to exist.
He compensates with a somersault that leaves his back vulnerable for just long enough that Jason lands a punch to the right of his spine. Dick blows out a breath and makes his landing on -- a couch.
He gets his hands up and balances.
Correction -- tries to balance, because Kory had been on the floor in front of the couch, and while she doesn't hit the back of his knees very hard, it's definitely hard enough for Jason's next punch to send him sprawling in a heap on top of Kory, who's smiling at both of them.
On anyone else, he'd call it a beam. On Kory, it's more like a promise.
More when Jason winks at her.
Kory likes Jason. Right.
Dick rolls his eyes and works his way back up to his feet, and yanks his tights back into position while Jason snickers and jogs backward toward the gym, throwing punches that are, for once, entirely playful.
"Remember, son, you will always have a weak side," he says, in a credible impression of Bruce.
Dick chooses to focus on the fact that Jason is clearly comfortable with making fun of their shared history, as opposed to the word 'son,' and slaps playfully at the kid's head. There's too much there, too. "You're too young to be this disturbing," he says, and has to pause.
There's something in Jason's smirk that feels like he's being just as incomplete (dishonest) about things as Dick is.
But then they're in the gym, and Wally waves at them from over by the free weights, and Jason does a credible flip onto the mats.
His form is almost exactly like Bruce's, workable and practical. The only real difference is that there's less obvious power in it. He'd prefer it if the kid's style was more like his own, but there isn't a lot even the best teachers could do with a kid like Jason, who'd never had any gymnastics training whatsoever, and doesn't have the body for it, besides.
Still, he's not letting Jason head back to Gotham without some time on the rings, at least.
It's... soothing to be able to teach him things, to give him things Bruce can't (Dick isn't gone, not completely), but it's far more soothing just to have this. He'd helped design this gym, and the space is made for him. He can move exactly as much as he wants to, as he needs to, and Jason is...
He's playing as much as he's fighting. For other people, that would make a spar like this infinitely less dangerous. With Jason, it just means that he curses every time Dick lands a blow, and laughs, breathless, when Dick knocks him to the mats.
"So are you gonna just stand there, or are you gonna help me up?"
Dick snorts, feeling sweat trickle down the back of his neck, ticklish down the center of his chest. "I like being upright."
"Aww. It hurts that you don't trust me, dude."
"Right. Come on."
And Jason's gaze slips down from his eyes to his gesturing hand, and it's the perfect reason to land a -- pulled -- kick.
"And pay attention," Dick says, and his voice is right, he knows it is, but something about the way Jason just grunts softly and doesn't actually look away from his hands --
And he knows exactly how distracted he was by the fact that Jason's only-80%-correct sweep knocks his legs right out from under him. He's prepared enough to breathe out before the landing can knock the breath out of him, but Jason still manages to get on top of him.
The pin isn't as effective as it could be, but --
"No, you pay attention," he says, and grins. And grinds.
Jason's shorts are pretty much exactly the same as his own used to be, which means they're armored somewhat better than his Nightwing uniform. Rough and hard and completely separate from everything having to do with the body, except for how they really aren't.
He hasn't gotten enough of his air back for the gasp to be anything but weak and soft.
"Don't even tell me you don't get off on this at least a little, man."
Wally is nowhere around. Dick swallows back the first few stammering 'responses' and goes with, "I'm not fifteen, anymore."
"No. You aren't," Jason says, and rests his palm against Dick's chest. The gauntlets are stiffer than his own used to be, and a part of Dick's mind is helplessly caught up with wondering how much of it is for protection versus how much of it's just to add even more power to Jason's punches.
It doesn't leave any room in his mind to deal with the bright, sharp look in Jason's eyes (like Bruce, like Bruce when), or the way he's pushing the fingers of his gauntlet under the edges of Dick's suit.
Just like Kory does, actually, and --
"I'm seeing Kory. You know --"
"That she's totally willing to share?" Jason's smirk absolutely matches the look in his eyes, even if it's nothing that would be on Bruce's face. "Heh. Yeah, she told me," he says, and scrapes the rough weave of his gauntlet over Dick's nipple. "Twice."
Dick can't keep from squeezing his eyes shut (Kory likes Jason how much?), but he does manage to open them again. Even though his breathing is ragged.
Even though Jason is looking at him like he's feeling just how ragged Dick's breathing is.
"I don't think... I don't think this is a good idea," he manages, and Jason's own eyes slip closed.
For a moment, and then he yanks Dick's hand to his shorts so he's grinding against Dick's hand and Dick's crotch.
"Jesus, Jason --"
"Stop... thinking," he says, and when he opens his eyes and smiles it's brilliant, and no sharper than it has to be for someone like Jason.
Dick's fourteen again, or maybe just a little older, just enough that it's hard to remember that he's never cold at night, that here, in the Tower, he never has to be alone.
It's hard to remember that he doesn't have to grab for this, that he doesn't have to watch Jason, and feel him, and roll them over until Jason's sprawled under him and bucking into his hand.
"Is this what you want?" Dick asks, and maybe, in some other universe, it could be as much of a tease -- a taunt -- as it sounds like, even to his own ears.
But it isn't.
"Fuck, Dick, yeah --"
He kisses Jason, because he can, and because it feels right, but then he pulls back. Because he wants every sound, every cue, every --
Because he needs it.
And Jason's here to give it to him.
The first time he looked at himself in the mirror and saw the cowl glaring back at him, he'd never felt smaller or more lost. Tim had helped with that -- sometimes, he thinks Tim is the absolute embodiment of help. For him, and for all of them.
Tim has, from the beginning, behaved as though certain things were part and parcel of being Robin.
Things Dick had never even considered, but... the kid has a point.
Dick had done such a good job burying himself in work with the Titans that he hadn't, actually, noticed that anything was going wrong with Bruce.
And whether or not he would've been able to be any help with that at all, considering...
The bruise had faded off his cheek within days.
It took a lot longer than that for him to stop feeling it.
Sometimes it's hard to look at Tim and see anything but Robin, even though his suit is different, and even though Tim has more of a life away from the Cave than either he or Jason ever had, or could.
And he knows Tim himself would deny that just about as often as he simply nodded, but... it's there, just the same.
Tim had looked at them, and told them they were missing something in Jason's absence, and then he'd set out to provide it. And, because he is who he is, he'd done a better job of that than anyone could.
Dick knows exactly how much Tim's extended training period had to do with Bruce making up for whatever mistakes he'd thought he'd made with Jason, and how little to do with Tim himself.
And he knows that Tim will believe that approximately five minutes after never. There are all sorts of things that come along with being Robin, he thinks. Or maybe just with being a Robin who isn't... him.
Because one of things that makes this so good, makes being with Tim so good -- and so terrifying -- is that there's a lot of Jason in him, in ways that would probably only make sense to him. It isn't Tim's attitude, and it's in no way his personality.
It's all about the way he looks at Dick, and --
It makes him feel greedy, and just as needy as he knows he is. Because he can't be anyone but himself around Tim, and he can't help having some idea of who that really is, even if the only real clarity is denial: He can't possibly be the man Tim sees.
Or even the boy.
In about four hours, it'll be dawn. He'll be asleep in his bed for at least another hour before he has to go in to the station, and Tim will hopefully be doing the same down in Gotham before school.
And, because it's a night like this, that started with Tim not quite managing to sneak up on him on a crumbling rooftop and has progressed through several thorough beatings and one averted suicide, because Tim is crouched beside him, silent and still and there...
In about four hours, he's probably going to be dreaming, and there's a good chance it'll be of the circus. A memory he doesn't actually have, because it's a memory he'd never tried very hard to keep. The construction of a fantasy from a photograph, a moment which changed the life --
"Nightwing," Tim says, and the opening is clear, defined by the neutrality of Tim's tone.
"I'm not actually brooding."
Tim turns his head just enough that the small smile tugging up one side of his mouth is visible, even if it would only be visible to someone as close as Dick is, right now. "No?"
"I'm thinking," Dick says. "There's a difference."
The smile fades off Tim's face only slowly, still visible even when he's turned back to their somewhat casual surveillance of yet another Bludhaven meth lab. There hadn't been any need to explain this, or the need to actually do surveillance before moving in, despite the lack of any visibly dangerous 'employees.'
Busting in to meth-labs without a great deal of preparation -- and luck -- tends to involve more explosions than are strictly necessary.
And it's not like the 'haven needs any more air pollution.
The trick is to go in when the maximum number of people can be detained with the minimum risk of stray bullets.
He's been in this business long enough that he knows they're probably going to wind up blowing the place sky high, anyway. The biggest danger in raiding these makeshift factories is the number of people they'll -- he'll -- eventually have to rescue from the inevitable fires.
"Can I steal you tomorrow night?"
Tim doesn't pause, or even really shift. "Just tell me when."
Dick grins. "Say about twenty-three hours from now."
"Cool," Tim says, and Dick knows it'll be more like twenty-one, short of a real emergency in Gotham. Tim is...
Tim's available in ways that Dick doesn't really have words for, or even coherence beyond the feeling, low and tight in his stomach, of familiarity.
Which, in itself, isn't very coherent at all. They don't have very much in common, not really. Tim's cape is armored enough that the wind barely ripples the first layer of fabric. Tim's hair isn't ruffled at all, and Dick's hand is moving before he even has to think about it.
He cracks the gel on three of the spikes and is working on a fourth when Tim slaps his hand away. When Dick lets him, because, well.
Playing is for those times when they aren't crouched above and across the street from a building full of people who really shouldn't be noticing them.
On his own, he'd be nothing but still. He knows how to do that -- with his body, anyway. He'd crouch here and watch and study, and, when he left, he'd move just as slowly and carefully as he could until he was out of all possible lines of sight.
And then he'd have to move. Jump and fly and just... move.
Like this, with a partner, there's a voice beyond the ones in his mind. Something -- someone -- to touch, when he has to.
And if, sometimes, it feels strange that it's Tim, who'd learned the sort of stillness Dick had to sweat blood for long before any of them even knew he existed...
Open to this, from him. And.
Dick moves back from the edge of the roof and Tim follows without a word, not even shifting his expression until they're behind the water tower, at which point he looks at Dick. In better light, Dick knows the fact that Tim is raising his eyebrow behind the mask would be absolutely obvious.
He doesn't need better light.
He shakes his head, and turns, and pauses, and turns back. "Come back with me."
Tim's face is a study in calculation. Dick is almost -- almost -- sure it has more to do with how soon he has to leave in order to get back to Gotham in time than with anything else. He's absolutely sure he should be thinking about all the other things Tim might be calculating right now.
He smiles, and reaches out, and Tim takes his hand even before the expression on his face changes.
Which makes Dick jump off the roof just a little more extravagantly than he should.
The sound Tim makes is -- almost -- covered by the paff of the kid's grapple, and the vibration of the grapple hitting and locking passes through Tim just enough to be a cue.
Dick lets go, and then fires his own.
He can feel Tim following him in the shadows that actually don't exist -- it's too dark for that. He can feel him because Tim is one of the few things he has left in his life that always make sense, that always...
It's never hard to let go of Tim.
He's never doubted that Tim will come back.
And so this is maybe -- probably -- not just wrong, but unnecessary, too. This... thing he hasn't planned, and can't bring himself to plan, because that would be... it would feel...
It would feel so much more wrong than anything else. Everything else. When he slips through his window, he doesn't move away far enough. Certainly not as far as he could.
Tim's inside in another minute, and close, and just a little wind-burned. Dick makes a note to get some of Babs' footage from their mask-cams. It would be interesting to see just how much Tim shifted his usual line-technique to compensate for Dick's own. Tim reaches back to close the window behind him, and when Dick pulls the solvent out of his boot, he just tilts his face up.
No masks, not for this.
Dick gets his own off and watches Tim watching him, studying him and the living room around them.
Part of Dick wants to ask what clues are present in the mild clutter. Most of him...
"What can I get you?"
"Nothing," Tim says, and narrows his eyes -- slightly. It's one of the expressions which make it difficult to understand a Tim outside of Robin, because it's one of the expressions Dick is far more accustomed to reading when he can only see the lower half of Tim's face.
He remembers a time when he'd have words for this, or when he'd at least feel like trying to come up with a few.
But then, he's known for a long, long time how little use words can be for...
Well, pretty much everyone he knows. He'd like to know what the look on his face is telling Tim. He'd like to wait long enough to make a few guesses, or to give Tim a chance to offer his own thoughts.
A chance he already knows Tim won't actually take.
He reaches past Tim to pull the blinds down, and --
There's no opening there -- it's a statement, not an invitation. But it's not a rejection, either.
"I like it when you're here," he says. "With me." And it's enough to make Tim part his lips, and Dick leans in and kisses him, not too hard.
Just enough to drive him back against the wall, the window. The blinds rattle and Tim moans into his mouth, and it's a wonderful, wonderful illusion. Tim's still wearing every part of his uniform except for the mask, which means Tim is armored from neck to heel.
Still, it feels like the only part of him that's remotely unyielding is the hair cracking under Dick's fingers.
Perhaps the fingers digging into his biceps.
Dick pulls back when he runs out of air, and watches Tim pant, watches the flush deepen and spread beneath the fading windburn.
"Why." Tim's tongue passes over his lips once, quickly. "Dick. Why now?"
Because you're here. Because I can. Because I've never fucked this up, not too badly. "I don't know," he lies, and slides one hand out of Tim's hair and over his cheek. The look in Tim's eyes is sort of steadily confused for a beat, and another, and then he closes them.
And presses against Dick's palm.
Under Tim's tunic, everything is motion and chaos -- deep, ragged breaths and a faint, recurring tremor.
Tension and a writhe every time Dick touches him the right way. There's nothing calm here, or still. Everything he'd seen before in Tim seems more like something seen on him. A clever, all-concealing lie of calm meant to hide this.
Tim's moans are low and less wordless than incoherent.
He's not hiding from Dick.
There's a line they keep crossing, back and forth, between responsiveness and submission. Between everything Tim's ever wanted from him and everything Dick --
He's fourteen again, or perhaps a little older, but he isn't, he absolutely --
Tim's throat tastes like armor and sweat, and Tim's eyes are wide, so wide. It makes Dick want to turn the lights out. It makes --
He thinks, as he moves, as he rocks and grinds and holds, about all the questions he'd never answered about Jason, and wonders how many of them were really about Bruce.
He's not at all sure whether or not he wants them to have been, even though the question is -- here, now -- entirely moot.
"Dick, please -- please --"
"I love you," he whispers, and means it when Tim locks his legs around his waist and holds on tight to his shoulders.
It feels like coming home.
She thinks he misses her legs, her motion, the vitality that had, at best, very little to do with everything behind her eyes.
She's right -- she just doesn't know why.
He's spent so much time running away from himself, from the person he used to be when the world was Gotham and sunlight was entirely optional. He'd never, however, expected to actually get away.
To escape into a person who'd need at least a day or two to refamiliarize himself with Gotham or New York before he could feel even remotely...
He misses the person Babs was because he remembers who he was, then. Their first kiss and the absolute freedom of it, because her mouth had been soft and tasted like the peppermints Jim Gordon used to keep on his desk for those periodic times when he was trying to quit smoking.
Because he'd known, the whole time, even when she'd closed her eyes and her lashes had brushed against the lower edges of the cowl, that sooner or later he'd be going home.
He doesn't really have a home, anymore. He has an apartment building full of perfectly nice people with perfectly nice problems.
He has a city that's going to kill him one day.
And he has... this.
The scent of her hair, incongruously flowery and sweet -- a gift from Dinah.
The curl of her arm around the back of his neck -- biceps he knows exactly how much Tim envies.
The heat of her, and the viciously awful stillness there, and everywhere below. It's easier to ignore when she's on her back, or when both of them have enough energy to maneuver the mechanics of her 'riding' him.
She prefers it this way, on their sides, for reasons of her own he wouldn't dream of guessing at.
She yanks at his hair and twists enough to bite his throat, and he reaches up to feel the muscles flex and shift on her throat.
"Come on," she says, in a voice so low and rough that it could almost be entirely about passion. This works for her, and he knows it.
And he knows that a part of her mind is going down the list of everything she intends to accomplish tonight, as Oracle and through Oracle's operatives.
There's a perverse desire to slow down, and a familiar conflict about the desire. He also knows he isn't doing this right.
This thing, between them, where everything is tied up with everything neither of them are managing to do anything like correctly. She's seeing something like a decade's worth of missed chances, he's sure of it.
He knows it's something a lot deeper than that, something...
"Dick," she says, soft and low with an underlying anger she can't hide -- not like this, not now. He brushes as much of her hair aside as he can, and her throat doesn't smell like anything but Barbara.
No leather, now, but something much better. Sweat and frustration like a taste on the back of his tongue, and when he slides his other hand down, over her heart, he can feel it pound, and know that it's just her body, that her mind has the kind of precision, the kind of ruthless focus --
She pulls on the back of his neck, squeezes, and it feels like something he hadn't known how to want, back when he'd had the chance to ask for it.
Back when the possibility existed that he'd had the chance to ask for it. The only thing light about Babs is her hair, and there's a reason he'd managed to get further away from Gotham than she ever did.
Or ever would.
She never leaves the lights on.
And he's moving much too fast now, much too hard, and she claws at his scalp and growls and loves it with every part of herself she's letting him touch. Next time, he'll have to check carefully before they do much of anything at all.
There's a lot she can -- and will -- do with a mirror, and they're practiced at this, but...
He never wants to hurt her, not in this way neither of them would ever ask for. But he also can't stop.
She jerks and spasms everywhere above the waist, and he knows if he reached down he'd be able to feel the ghost of something beneath the soft, blameless skin of her hip, and he bites her ear to keep from groaning.
Because it's good, even if it isn't right.
Because it's so damned close.
He can't stop.
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Title: Can't Stop Moving: Five Things That Never Happened To Dick Grayson
Author: Te [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | NC-17 | het *slash* | 46k | 09/07/04
Characters: Dick, Bruce, Koriand'r, Jason, Tim, Barbara
Pairings: Dick/Bruce, Dick/Kory, Dick/Jason, Dick/Tim, Dick/Barbara
Summary: Dick used to know what he wanted, and he still does. Sort of.
Notes: Disturbing content.
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