Barbara runs across the driveway, her dress billowing. Midnight blue embroidered in yellow shimmers around her, and if it wasn't the prettiest dress in the store--- therefore not too expensive to be plausible for a young librarian--- it's enough to be almost ridiculously fun, even aside from the way the color scheme makes her bite her lip and silently snicker.
"Hey, Ba--" Dick stops in the doorway and halfway through her name, his eyes as round as his mouth. He's puppyishly cute when he's shocked.
"Hello, Mr. Grayson." Barbara keeps her face straight as if she walks into Wayne Manor wearing silk every day. "I'm invited."
"Wish I were," Dick mutters; behind her she can hear him turn around, watching her, and she grins.
Three days, one hour, and twenty-eight minutes later --- Barbara's been watching the clock to the right of the door--- Dick climbs through the window of her hospital room. Because. Because he just couldn't pretend to be ordinary, for her sake, for once. Because he can.
"Babs." His whisper almost covers the faint scuff of his boots. She doesn't turn her head. Maybe he'll think she can't. "Babs, are you awake?" As he crosses the room she lies very still. "I came as soon as I heard and I could get the Titans all set. I--"
If he comes any closer she knows he'll touch her. Her arm, possibly her face. "Dick," Babs says, looking at the clock on the wall.
"Babs?" He gasps relief. She can almost feel his breath, pounding against her ear. "I'm---"
He stops breathing. The clock marks the next minute with an industrial click.
"Go home to the Titans." By the time she adds, "To Koriand'r," she can hear the scuff on the windowsill again.
His expression is completely wrong for the suit.
From the neck down Dick is Batman. The suit's sized for him, and slightly modified to help him appear taller, bulkier. Barbara can see the accomodations for Dick's flexibility, and the ways Bruce camouflaged them when he constructed this suit, all the way up to the double-layered gorget thickening and armoring Dick's long fine neck. But above that gorget is a stretch of pale skin, and a tilted chin, and Dick's vulnerable, open face.
A month ago she was looking at the invitation to his wedding and composing her regrets. Now here he is, in her living room, drinking her coffee and frowning with entirely too tender of a mouth. "I can't do this," he says, soft and thin and wobbly. "Robin is great, he's giving it his all, but how do I do this? How can I be Batman?"
Barbara wants to pull his head to her shoulder and hug him for a long, long time. But that's not what Batman needs. She lifts her chin, and he unconsciously lifts his as he sits up; she folds her arms, and inhales, and tells him.
Dick winces in his sleep every time he turns, which makes sense considering how thoroughly he's bruised up. Barbara is sitting on the side of her bed watching him. She really should be reading reports, running another trace, or cleaning the bathtub, but she's watching Dick sleep.
When she trails her fingers across his forehead he smiles. He's probably going to wake up soon, from hunger if nothing else. Which is a good sign.
Barbara keeps watching him, his chest's rise and fall, the shadows of his lashes on his cheekbones, the pulse between his collarbones left bare by the bandages across his left shoulder. One day he's not going to come back, her common sense whispers to her, as it has for the last thirty-nine hours and fifty-seven minutes. Counting in her dreams. One day he'll get himself killed.
"I know," Barbara says aloud. She should shut the voice up with her plan for she'll deal with it; she has contingencies for everything, after all. Except that. She has no contingency plan for that.
"Mmm?" Dick shifts towards her, the crease between his eyes furrowing and smoothing as he winces and breathes and opens his eyes, and smiles. "Hey, Babs."
"Hey, Man Wonder." Dick's smile is familiarly beautiful, painfully bright. Barbara keeps her thoughts out of her own smile, letting him dazzle her distractingly as Dick pushes himself up on his elbows and kisses her.