There was something completely unnerving about breaking the lock to the old Wayne mansion and walking in. More so with the rise of those murders on the streets, but Dick swallowed down any nerves that left him shaking, and readjusted his grip on his flashlight, taking his gun out of his holster with his free hand. "Hello?"
The word echoed dully off of dusty, wallpaper covered walls, and he coughed slightly. The entire air felt musty, like noone had lived here in ages, but he'd seen too many places where that was just an attractive feature for a hideaway.
Dust motes drifted in front of his beam of light, and he stepped further inside. "Police! I have a warrant to search the premise!" Not that there was anyone alive to sue him if he didn't. The Waynes had died years ago in a robbery, and the kid had vanished that same night. No sign of him anywhere.
He frowned and began to search the bottom floor, cringing when each door protested it's opening. There was a dry heat, which made him uncomfortable and he tugged his cap off, putting it under his arm. The kitchen was vastly outdated, but the study - bingo. The study looked inhabited. Not clean, per se, but it wasn't dusty, and there were open books sprawled everywhere.
The windows were boarded up and the clock was still swinging a slow, dutiful watch on the progression of time. Bathroom, dining room, a large ballroom of sorts - these were all, once more, abandoned, but oddly, so far, the only room he had yet seen boarded up was the study and the entry hall, and any room connecting the two.
He frowned. The mystery deepened.
"Hello! I know someone's here and it'd be a fuck of a lot easier if you just surrender now!" He called when next he was in the entire hall.
Jesus fucking shit did Gotham get warm in the summer. He shrugged off his jacket and left it, along with his cap by the door, on a hook that was probably older than he was. Hell, everything in the house was - but he got the distinct feeling that it wasn't.
Someone was definitely in here with him. He could feel it on the back of his neck and it put him on edge. There was a tightness in his muscles, and he slowly made his way up to the second floor.
This was stupid. He knew it was. One cop scanning an entire mansion wasn't a good way to catch a criminal that was draining the blood out of their victims like something out of a gothic novel. The creep knew the layout, he could (because somehow, Dick was certain it was a he, and an old one at that. Jesus Christ, these murders had been happening since before he had been born!) easily give him the run around and be gone before Dick knew what was what.
Fuck that, he could be up behind him the second he walked into another room.
The prickling sensation on the back of his neck got worse, and he spun around, burying a bullet into the drywall behind him. It had felt like someone had been there, and he groaned, rolling his head on his shoulders.
"Come on, Grayson. No believing ghost stories now. This is just some creep psychopath. You've dealt with loads before," he muttered to himself, but he still needed to run a hand through his hair to collect himself.
His flashlight was necessary now. The sun was obviously setting outside, and more of the windows were boarded up upstairs. More of the rooms looked lived in, like someone had decided to make use of all of the fresh linen.
Furniture was destroyed, and the destruction only became worse as he went deeper into the manor. "In case you didn't hear me, I'm with Gotham City Police Department. Come out unarmed and surrender yourself or I'll put a bullet in your head."
Unnerved? He'd never admit it. Definitely not to that cute redhead - Gordon's daughter, what's her name. Hell no, he'd worked too hard on getting close to her to deal with her laughing in his face that he was getting unnerved in what was probably an empty house. Squatters came and went and he was just freaking himself out.
That was totally it.
It was only his insistence that he was okay, even if he wasn't (hell, he didn't feel like he'd ever be able to be in the dark without looking over his shoulder again) that made him linger by the piano in one of the grander rooms. It was well-kept, even if the keys croaked slightly as he ran his fingers over them. They rattled.
Whoever had been living here knew enough to take care of it, but didn't know how to play.
Had been. He had to insist on that order of words. Had. Been. As in transient, as in no longer, as in had found a new place to occupy.
He played Ode to Joy, and the melody danced listlessly into the room, withering shortly thereafter.
He changed it to the treble of a concerto piece, and that fell just as flat, but it was still noise other than the scraping of his own polished shoes against degrading wooden floors that had seen a lifetime of dust. It was noise other than his own breathing, and his mind insisting to him that something was wrong, get out get out get-
Applause, from the door he had just entered from and he spun around, gun raised and pointed. The flashlight fell with a dull thud to the ground.
"Gotham Police, hands in the air. Identify yourself." The order was sharp, focused, and covered how roughly his heard was pounding in his chest. Stupid! Fucking stupid! He had let his focus slip and it could've cost him his life!
The man at the doorway was no older than his thirties, and that in itself was a stretch to call him. It just felt like one large lie to assume older, and wishful thinking to think younger. He wasn't, certainly, the perp Dick was after.
"Sorry, sorry, you just played so well just now," the man smiled apologetically, raising his hands to show no malicious attempt as he stepped into the room. He walked - no, glided- with a grace akin to the sort of thing in movies. Dark, pressed pants and a turtle neck, hair carefully pushed back, and eyes - god, they were so warm and inviting, and Dick felt a strange pull in his chest.
Put down your gun. It's safe. He's clearly harmless. The voice reasoned, and his arms wavered slightly, but kept his aim more or less steady, correcting only to make up for this stranger's movement. "Stop moving. Stay where you are. ID yourself."
He'd never admit that his voice shook.
"Wouldn't you like to sit down and play something? Really play, I mean. I know I'd love to hear it." The man's voice was smooth, controlling, and safe. It was warm and it felt almost like Dick was back in his mom's arms, so many years ago. Like he was holding onto his first girlfriend, the first night they had sex. Like he was walking into his apartment for the first time feeling like it was finally home.
It took everything in Dick not to listen, and that was scary. What the fuck was happening that it suddenly felt right to want to turn his back on someone potentially threatening, to play a tune on a piano? "Identify yourself."
The man's eyes were black. They were gold, Dick wanted to say, but that wasn't true at all. They were blue. They were - his head spun and the world doubled up around him. Was - was the guy standing over there a second ago? He could've sworn-
No matter, it was just a quick arc of his arm and the line of sight over his .45 was pointing at the approaching man who, for his credit, never once hesitated.
"Play me a song and I'll tell you who I am. Does that sound like a good deal?" His eyes were gold. Black. Blue.
The deepest blue in the world, like he was staring into the sky and the ocean all at once and-
"I don't fucking want to play a song!" Dick shouted, his voice cracking and his lips pulling up into a snarl. His voice shook.
There was no harm in admitting that.
The man was a foot away from the mouth of his gun suddenly, and Dick couldn't remember watching him get there. He stumbled back, only for the piano to press into the small of his back.
Play me a song.
He didn't recall the man's lips moving, and the voice sounded more like his father's than this man who was dressed too nicely to be in a dusty old manor. And mechanically, against every last instinct of survival in his head, he dropped the gun to the ground, turned and sat, tips of his fingers resting on the keys.
He didn't announce the piece's name like his teacher had told him to. He just played, as if his very life depended on it.
Heavy hands rested on his shoulders after a moment, and he was torn between cringing away and leaning back into the body that was there. It was - the man standing behind him was cool, admist the heavy heat that hung in the dust. He radiated cold like he was a goddamn air conditioner and alarms were going off in Dick's head but he couldn't stop playing.
"Doesn't that feel better? You don't need to solve things with guns, officer. Guns don't mix with pretty birds like yourself." The voice was in his ear and there were lips brushing the shell of his ear. "Just keep playing your pretty swan song."
The song drifted away, but he couldn't wrench his eyes from the keyboard. "Who are you?"
"Bruce Wayne, owner of this mansion."
"Bullshit. Bruce Wayne disappeared before I was born."
"Well, here I stand. What's your name, officer?" The voice was ever quiet, and amused.
"You don't look like a Richard to me."
"Friends call me Dick."
"Well, Dick. Look at me?"
It wasn't his choice. He turned his head and looked and there were those black-gold-blue eyes again, watching him, unwavering, never blinking, and Dick had never felt more detached from the world in his life. They were so lonely, those eyes. Lonely and sad and God he wanted to make them happy. There was nothing more enticing in the world.
"What brings you here?"
"Looking for a killer. He's got some fixation on blood, and - Bruce, why are you here in such a broken mansion?"
The question seemed to catch the man off guard. "Play another piece, please, Dick." The request was quiet and he withdrew his hands from Dick's shoulders.
Anything to make those sad eyes disappear. He nodded, and played Canon in D. Somewhere in it, he had lost himself and when he was aware again - blazingly aware and holy hell how could he think such emotionless eyes were sad? Why was he listening to everything this man said, hook line and sinker? He was scared and shaking and-
and he felt lips at his neck. Crushing down his collar and feeling his neckline and his breath caught in his throat.
Where was his gun? Fucking hell, he dropped his gun and-
"You stopped playing. That wasn't the end of that piece." The voice was accusing, and the lips moved against his neck, and Dick fought against some soft breath of a gasp. That had felt sinfully better than it ever should have.
"I - get away from me. You're under the arrest for the murder of a Jason Todd. For the murder of a Cassandra Cain. For the murder of a Tim Drake." He could've listed hundreds of others - the names and faces scrolled in his head and it was the only thing keeping him from losing himself again in the honey of the man's voice.
This wasn't Bruce Wayne. That was a lie. It had to be. He was too young, too -
Too what? Seductive?
"Well, now you've gone and ruined a perfectly pleasant evening, Dick." The voice was displeased, and the lips raised, teasing his ear again. There was the softest graze of teeth against the shell of his ear and Dick bit his lip. Why wasn't he turning around? Beating the fuck out of this guy and then calling for back up and possibly a therapist?
"I'll give you a headstart. Run, and if you can get out of here, I might just you live." The voice was oddly amused. "Run," he breathed, and was suddenly gone from behind him, standing a good few feet back.
Dick didn't waste any time, and piano bench went crashing against the ground as he stood and, on legs shaking so much it was hard to imagine he could stand, let along run, he was racing out of the room and trying to remember his way out to the entrance hall, to the stair case and the door.
His life depended on it and fuck if he could stop this man. He just knew that his life was in danger right this second and he had to get away.
He got lost in the hallway however and that was possibly his fatal mistake. Who knows? Maybe he would've have made it to the door anyway, and maybe he should've spent the time clawing down the boards in the piano room. He would've survived a leap from a second story window.
He was flung onto some bedroom's bed as he ran through it, and a cry of protest escaped him. He hadn't heard the man - hell, he couldn't see him in the total darkness of the room, now, but he could hear the low growl of the man's voice, and the unmistakeable sink in the bed as the aristocrat - that was the only way to describe how he moved and looked and talked - crawled over his body.
And blue eyes - there was no gold, or black, but a blue that eerily glowed in the dark as vice-like hands gripped his shoulders and prevented him from moving or struggling or breathing - stared down at him. It was like - like, but Dick's brain failed to provide a witty comparison.
It was doing jackrabbit leaps of realization that he was going to die. He was going to die just like those civilians and he was possibly never going to be found, dried up and empty here in a manor filled with dust and silence.
The eyes disappeared, and he felt the unmistakeable brush of lips against his throat and his arched up, trying with all his might to try and throw him off. That's what he told himself, anyway. He didn't acknowledge the moan that escaped from his own lips, or the way his traitor body almost sang to the feeling of the man straddling him, pinning him down and kissing his neck.
"You'll live forever, Richard Grayson." That honey sweet sound of the man's voice murmured into his neck before the fangs pierced his skin.