“Shit,” Dick swore under his breath as he landed everything else than gracefully on the edge of the rooftop. He looked back. The leap wasn't big by anyone's standards. Especially not his own. For a moment there it felt like he had lost his balance, but that was stupid, because you don't have balance when you're not on solid ground. He shook his head and it off. He was off his game and it was getting late or early anyway and he wanted to write up that report for Bruce before he went to bed and besides, he wasn't planning on staying in Gotham for much longer anyway. There was only so much Bruce he could stand these days. Mostly he was here for Tim and the case.
He rubbed the bridge of his nose. He felt tired and unbalanced even though he was on a very solid rooftop. There was a nagging feeling at the back of his head. The strong sense that something wasn't quite right.
He would tell Bruce about it as soon as he was back from patrol.
He would call it quits for tonight.
The bike was gone. He didn't think anyone was stupid enough to actually try and steal it, but stranger things have happened. And-he tapped the com, but there was only white noise. No one – that wasn't possible. There was always someone who would be at the other end of the line. Oracle or Tim for fuck's sake. Bruce.
He needed to get back to the Cave. It was the only sane option.
Dick looked around for a vehicle. He would just have to borrow a car. He would give it back as soon as he could.
The streets were the same, but they looked different anyway. That nagging feeling at the back of his head was a shouting voice at the front now.
Something was seriously wrong with this picture.
Parts of the city looked...like a war zone. But not like his war zone.
Dick drove faster.
The Cave was – not his home. Not- his. Just. Different too.
Now. Here. And Dick had no idea where he was, because he knew that he wasn't home. Not where he belonged.
The Cave was huge, there were bats and the computer and a case with a uniform. One case. Just one. There was no sign of Dick's old suit or – fuck, Jason's. No sign of Tim either. No trophies. It was pretty much empty.
It smelled different too.
Wetter, damper, but also cleaner and- faintly like coffee. It was bizarre.
He heard the Batarang, because Bruce trained him to hear them, and shifted just so it didn't even graze his suit.
“What the fuck Bruce!” he hissed, spinning around. It was kind of a reflex, really, because the Cave meant security and that the masks were off.
The figure he could make out in the shadows was smaller, closer to his own build – or maybe Jason's. No cowl, no pointy freaky ears.
It wasn't Bruce, it wasn't even the Batman.
The man stepped out of the shadows fully and looked at Dick. The mask didn't have lenses. He could see the eyes. Brown. Dark brown eyes.
“He's dead,” the man said.
Dick took a step back and then he balled his hands to fist and got into his ready stand, because -
“And you're trespassing,” the man added.
Dick choked out a laugh. His body was singing a song of violence. He was ready for it. It needed out. Out. OUT. And his only opponent was this guy in the black suit. And he didn't look like he was going to attack Dick at any moment, but he was in Bruce's Cave and said Bruce was dead. One and one made two.
Dick couldn't attack first. No matter how much he wanted to lash out. He had to be reasonable. The guy had thrown a Batarang at him, wasn't that reason enough to pay him back in kind?
“He's not,” Dick forced out.
“He is. They built a statue for him because he saved the city,” the man said. He wasn't coming closer and it was a good call, because Dick was barely keeping it together. “Or maybe because they felt guilty.”
“What the hell?” Dick said and took another step back.
“You don't look like the Hood guy from Starling City,” the man said.
“I'm not Arrow!” Dick hissed.
The man nodded. “Who are you?”
“Nightwing,” Dick said.
There was no recognition in the brown eyes. Nothing. This guy who was wearing a version of Bruce's suit didn't know who he was. It made no sense. None at all. The shit, Dick thought. The feeling of not quite right as he landed on the rooftop again. He had thought maybe he had been drugged. Maybe still was. But this felt too real. And nothing was out to get him. Not even the things living in his head.
“You look like hell, Nightwing,” the man said.
Dick laughed, because he couldn't help himself. “I need to speak with Bruce.”
“He's dead, I told you.”
“Who the heck are you?” Dick asked. He should have asked that question earlier, but somehow it didn't seem too important.
“Media picked Robin. Guess I'm stuck with it,” he shrugged.
Dick was losing it and fast. “Robin.”
The man stepped into the light. There was nothing that even resembled Dick's old uniform. There was a splash of dark red in it and an 'R' on his chest above his heart. He wasn't a version of Dick.
“Fuck,” Dick said with feeling.
“He didn't train you. If he had, I would've been drugged up and tied to the gurney five minutes ago,” Nightwing interrupted.
“He died before he could,” Robin said.
Dick nodded. “How long?”
“Six months, three weeks, five days.” Robin answered.
Dick didn't know what to say. He needed Bruce to figure this out. He needed answers. He needed to find a way home.
Robin looked at him. “How can you not know?”
“He's not dead where I am from.”
There was a lot of silence while Robin was thinking. “Parallel universe?”
“Seems so,” Dick said. It had never happened before, but there were theories. Bruce had theories about people who might be experimenting, or building or some shit. Seemed someone had been successful. The question was, had it been aimed at him or had it been an accident.
Was he just that fucking lucky?
“And you're his partner?” Robin asked.
“I- it's complicated,” Dick replied, because he had sometimes no freaking idea what they were. Bruce had been too young to be a father and Dick wasn't sure he had needed one back when he had been searching for the murderer of his parents.
The man took of his masks and came closer. Dick backed up, but the man smiled at him and went straight for the coffeemaker.
This was fucked up. He had no protocol for this. This man, Robin, was not a vigilante like any other. He was...different.
Robin poured two cups, took one and left one on the counter. He leaned against the console and looked at Dick. “But he trained you to be like him?” Robin asked.
The smell of coffee made Dick's stomach growl. Robin smiled wryly. “There's nothing to eat down here, but the kids will have breakfast in an hour.”
Kids? Dick thought. “What?”
“At the orphanage?”
“What?” Dick repeated.
“I see,” Robin said. “This world is completely different from the one you're from.”
“I would say. Bruce is dead, for fuck's sake and you're Robin.”
Robin looked at him sharply. Dick could see his mind working. “It's familiar to you. That name.”
“Yes,” Dick said, giving in and taking the other mug of coffee. Even if it was drugged. He didn't think he could deal with all this crap any longer. He was tired. Exhausted really from a long night of patrol and now this...this shift. This new and strange universe.
Robin didn't press the issue. He was just drinking his coffee. Just looking at Dick. Dick took a sip. It was good coffee. He needed this.
“We can go upstairs and have breakfast and maybe you'll want to sleep?” Robin asked.
“Shit,” Dick said again, running a hand through his hair. “I need a shower.”
“There's one down here.”
“Of course,” Robin answered. He finished his coffee and started to take off his suit. Dick has seen that particular process countless times. But it had been Bruce, or Jason or Tim. People he knew. Not a complete stranger, who wore his name but wasn't him. He looked away.
“Why Robin?” Dick asked. He had to know. It was driving him crazy.
“I think Gordon found it funny,” Robin said.
“I don't get the joke.”
“It's my middle name,” Robin said.
“Gordon knows who you are?”
“He never said anything to me, but he did introduce the name to the media.”
Dick could hear the armor hitting the floor and then the noises Robin made as he picked it up and threw it into the hamper. “I'll be upstairs,” he said.
He tried the computer first, but it was password protected and it had clearly been Bruce's. And this Robin wasn't him. He had no clue where to even start to hack this thing.
On the other hand, Robin wasn't choking him to death for trespassing. He had offered Dick a shower, coffee, breakfast and Dick was sure he would also offer any information he could. Anything that would make this easier on Dick.
He stripped and took that shower and then he grabbed a few of the workout clothes, put them on and went upstairs. Even the entrance to the cave was different. No clock. This was a whole brave new world and Dick didn't understand it.
He needed access to a computer. His stomach made a noise. He could smell bacon and eggs and more coffee.
Somewhere close by a radio was playing. A cheery pop song Dick had never heard before.
He followed the noise and the scent.
Robin was wearing loose pants and a worn out t-shirt that had a hole at the seam. He was standing in a small kitchen, making breakfast. His hair was damp at the back of his neck. He had showered, but Dick couldn't smell it over the frying bacon.
“This is not Alfred's kitchen.”
“This part of the manor is mine. The kitchen was built after he died.”
“What about the rest of the manor?”
“It's an orphanage. Bruce gifted it to the city.”
“Of course he did,” Dick said. It did sound like something Bruce would do. At least a Bruce who hadn't anyone he would consider his heir. On the other hand: Robin was living here. Robin got the Cave. Was Robin Batman's heir? Batman's not Bruce's? He didn't know enough about this world. He didn't know the first fucking thing about this world to make any assumptions.
Robin sat the breakfast in front of Dick and then took a seat at the table himself. Dick could see his mind working again. There were a million questions he wanted to ask Dick. Dick had a million of his own.
His stomach made a noise again and he looked at the plate. Alfred wouldn't have approved of this. Bruce wouldn't have either. Neither of them were here. He dug in.
Robin, whose name was John, showed him the guestroom and then went to bed himself.
Dick knew it was fucked up and stupid to trust this guy, but he had the Cave and he hadn't tried to drug or beat Dick up for trespassing. It had to count for something.
He grabbed the comforter and closed his eyes. He was out like a light as soon as his head hit the pillow.
“I need a computer,” Nightwing said. John nearly let his cup of coffee drop. He hadn’t heard the guy getting up or sneaking up on him. He turned around.
“You can use mine,” he said, gesturing to the coffeepot. Nightwing was still or again, John didn’t know, wearing his mask. It was strange because his hair was a mess and he was wearing John’s workout clothes and his feet were bare and John really should be not thinking about such things, because they had other problems. Seriously. Other universes.
“Thanks,” Nightwing said and grabbed a mug of coffee. He poured sugar into it and then looked around.
“Milk’s in the fridge,” John said and gestured.
He was surprised that he was taking this so calmly. But then it wasn’t him who was universe displaced or whatever people called it. If he were in Nightwing’s shoes, he would be freaking out. But Nightwing wasn’t freaking out either. Much. Maybe shit like that happened more often in the universe he was from. John didn’t even want to think about that possibility.
“It shows,” Nightwing said as he poured milk into his coffee, “that you weren’t raised by him.”
“Raised?” John asked. “Are you his son?”
Nightwing laughed, but it didn’t sound very happy. “No. Not by blood, not by…”
“It’s complicated,” John said.
Nightwing nodded. “Yeah, it really is.” He took a sip of his coffee. “What the hell happened here? I saw the streets, it looks like a freaking war zone.”
“I think you should read all about Gotham’s brief but terrifying fame for yourself. I have a class to teach,” he grabbed a cinnamon bun and smiled at Nightwing. “Don’t wander around, yeah?”
Nightwing raised an eyebrow. “Or what?”
“You could get lost,” John answered with a smile. “Laptop is in the living room. It’s not password protected.”
“What’s the password for the computer downstairs?”
“I don’t think you’ll need that to find out what you need to know for now,” John answered. He wasn’t stupid. Bruce left him that Cave, the computer, everything. He wasn’t going to open his doors to a complete stranger just because he…just because he knew Bruce too.
John left him to his own devices.
John wasn’t a real teacher at the boy’s home, but he was giving self-defense classes and coaching basketball. He wasn’t paid much, but as he lived at the manor, it was enough. Everything else…well, Bruce had left him money of course, but John hadn’t touched it at all.
He still wasn’t sure why Bruce had left him all of this. Maybe because he saw something in John. Maybe because there hadn’t been anyone else.
John still hadn’t come to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t see Bruce again. That he wouldn’t see Batman again and that there was no way of letting Bruce know – but maybe he did know.
It didn’t matter anymore anyway. It wasn’t like there had ever been a chance to be with Bruce Wayne.
He wondered about the other Bruce. The one that had raised a boy like Nightwing. Because he was a boy. He couldn’t be older than nineteen, John mused.
By the way he moved John could tell that he was well trained too. He had heard the Batarang John had thrown at him. Just to scare him, it hadn’t been one of the sharp ones.
He had no idea why he hadn’t tried to beat the guy up. Mostly it was because John was aware that there were three people in the world who knew where this cave was and also: the suit. Similar to his own, but different in all the right places. Nightwing knew who he was. John…well, John hadn’t even been able to pick out his own freaking vigilante name.
He sighed. He sucked at this. He was doing his best, really, but he was aware that he sucked at being a vigilante. Mostly because he had no clue how to be Batman.
“Are you okay Mister Blake?” Mark asked.
“You can call me John, you used to call me John,” John said.
“You weren’t a teacher back then,” Mark answered with a smile.
John smiled back. “I’m not a teacher now.”
Mark gave him a look.
“I’m fine,” John said. He was. Mostly. Actually, only when he wasn’t Robin. When he was Robin, he was doing everything he could to stay alive. Fuck.
“If you say so,” Mark replied.
John ruffled his hair and got himself together.
It wouldn’t do anyone any good if his students would pick up on how messed up he was right now.
“See you tomorrow,” John said.
“Yeah,” Mark replied.
Nightwing was still or again doing research on the laptop when John came home six hours later. He looked up and nodded and then he went back to devouring a sandwich and reading.
John wondered what the hell he was supposed to do in such a situation.
“Maybe Mister Fox could help with a solution,” he said loudly so Nightwing would hear him as he was preparing a sandwich for himself.
“I don’t think it's wise to drag Lucius into this.”
“He knew Bruce’s secret too. Knows his secret,” John said.
“Wasn’t he able to keep it to himself?” Nightwing asked. He had sneaked up on John again and was leaning on the doorframe to the kitchen.
John turned around. Nightwing was looking at him. “As far as I know only Mister Fox knew and I and Selina Kyle.”
“Of course. She would,” Nightwing said, running a hand through his hair. The mask was still on.
“Did you sleep and shower with this thing on?”
“You know I won’t tell the world who you are. I mean-“
“You’re really bad at this, aren’t you?” Nightwing asked.
“Being a vigilante,” Nightwing replied. “I don’t get why he left the Cave to you.”
“I guess,” John said, “because there was no one else to take the place.” His voice was sharp and a bit defensive. He couldn’t help it. It was one thing to doubt himself, it was a whole other to have a kid point out how unfit for the job he was.
“I didn’t mean-“
“Yes you did,” John cut in. “Your Bruce must be different.”
“I guess,” Nightwing said. “He should have stayed and helped you. Trained you-“
“He died, before he could,” John interrupted.
“He had planned this, John,” Nightwing said. “He made plans for when he came back to save Gotham. He gifted the house to the city. He made a new Batsignal-“
“How do you-“
Nightwing waved his hand, “I hacked into the Commissioner’s files.”
“His personal files?” John asked a bit shocked.
“I needed information,” Nightwing replied.
“How long have you been doing this?”
“Since I was thirteen.”
“Jesus,” John said. Was the other Bruce insane? In what kind of world was Nightwing living?
“He never took a kid in, did he?” Nightwing asked.
“No. He spent the last eight years before the Occupation alone in that manor. With Alfred. Grieving.”
“He had been a good man, but I think he grieved more for Rachel,” John replied and went back to finishing assembling his sandwich.
“You didn’t know her. Bruce doesn’t know her. She might not even exist where you are from. She was his friend. She was his childhood sweetheart. She meant a lot to him.”
“Well, explains why it fucked him up then that the Joker blew her up. Shit,” Nightwing said.
John nodded. “Now that you are up to date with the history of Gotham as I lived it. What will you do?”
“I have not the faintest. It could shift back any moment. I could just be gone,” Nightwing replied. John found that to be a horrible prospect for some reason. “But as long as I am here, I will help you.” He added.
“You aren’t fit for the streets. For god's sake there are shaky videos of you on the internet.”
“I guess there aren’t any of you?”
“Or Batman, or Robin-“ Nightwing crossed his arms over his chest and his look dared John to ask.
“It’s not like I can fuck up anything by asking,” John said. “We don’t even know if you exist in this universe, Nightwing.”
Nightwing nodded and then he pealed the mask away carefully. “Fuck,” he said.
He had blue eyes. Dark blue eyes. “My name’s Dick.”
John gave him a look. “Really?”
“I’m not fucking with you John. It’s Richard, but I go by Dick.”
“I guess it’s a whole other world.”
“Nah, the dick jokes? Still there,” Dick replied with a grin.
“So what about Robin then?”
“He is Batman’s current partner.”
“Okay…I thought you-“
“Nah, and yes, it’s complicated and no you probably don’t want to ask how old Robin is.”
John nodded. Fucked up universe right there, John thought. “That’s your ‘I’m totally not going to say how fucked up I think that is’ face, isn’t it?”
“Am I that transparent?” John asked.
“No, but I can read people well. Body language and stuff.”
“Bruce taught you?” John asked.
“Some of it, but I had a knack for body language since I was a kid. Came with the territory.” Dick looked at him and then at the sandwich. “Eat up John. I will make a real vigilante out of you as long as I’m here. Meet you downstairs in 30.”
“Okay,” John said. He felt excited like he hadn’t felt since he first saw the Cave.
Dick nodded once sharply and then he left the kitchen.
John sat down and ate his sandwich.
Dick started out with some light katas to get John warmed up.
“We should work on your aim and how you throw your Batarangs. And you’re still using his,” Dick said.
Dick grinned and took out his own shuriken. They looked a bit like wings. “I call them Wingdings.”
Dick raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
“You shouldn’t be allowed to name things, Dick.”
“Funnily enough Robin used to tell me the same thing,” Dick replied.
“Didn’t Bruce have an opinion?” John asked.
“Me and Bruce aren’t on speaking terms right now. Again.”
John was starting to get really curious about the other Bruce. He didn't sound like the one John knew. But then: Did John knew Bruce at all? They had only met briefly and even if John had felt a connection to Bruce all his life – it wasn't like Bruce had even known he existed until he had marched up to the manor and demanded Batman came back.
John wanted to ask about the other Bruce, about Dick and Bruce's relationship, but he refrained and let Dick drill him instead.
John fell into bed exhausted. He didn't have any difficulties falling asleep at all. It was the first night he was too tired to think.
It was, he decided, a good feeling.
Dick couldn't believe the crap this universe's Bruce had pulled.
John wasn't ready to take on the streets of Gotham, especially after something like the Occupation. It must have been horrible and what Dick had summarized it seemed that John had been here all the time, while Bruce had been gone. In the Pit. At least, Dick thought, this universe's Bane was dead, as was Ra's. And Talia. This world would probably never have a Red Robin or Red Hood. Dick didn't think there was a Jason somewhere out there waiting to steal the tires of the Batcar. And this car, this car was a freaking tank. Dick loved the thing, he was sure that Jason would have wet dreams about it. They needed something like that back in their universe.
Dick leaned his head against the back of the sofa and closed his eyes. He didn't know if he should tell John that he thought that Bruce was still alive somewhere.
John was obviously hurting. He – Dick couldn't be sure of course, because he only met the guy a week ago, but he had the suspicion that John's feelings were of a romantic nature towards Bruce. Which meant, that he was doomed. Bruce just didn't care for men, or boys. God knows Dick knew that. It had hurt realizing that when he was growing up, but by now it was only a dull ache.
It wouldn't do any good to John if Dick told him that Bruce had taken Kyle's hand and ran. That particular love story seemed to be a red threat throughout the universes. Well, as far as Dick could tell – with living in only two of them. Which was enough, really. No one should be able to hop between realities.
“Here,” John said putting a mug of hot tea in front of Dick. Dick could smell the aroma. It made him feel homesick in a strange way.
“Thanks,” Dick said, but didn’t open his eyes.
“Are you brooding?” John asked as he sat down on the couch. Dick could feel his body heat and he was the only person Dick knew here and- he shook his head and smiled.
“I’m not brooding. I’m not Bruce, but maybe your Bruce-“
“He did brood, alright,” John cut in.
“You didn’t know him long, did you?”
“I knew who he was what feels like all my life. He had no clue that I even existed until I banged on the front door and demanded he came back. I made him do this,” John said.
Guilt, Dick thought. Yes, he knew that one all too well. “You didn’t make him put on the cowl again. He doesn’t do shit if he doesn’t want to and the time might have been just right. I bet he was itching for a fight by then. If he really shut himself away in the manor. Hard to believe-“
“The city didn’t need him, it had been clean – on the outside.”
“Yeah, because corruption is everywhere and Bane had it way too easy to infiltrate the major parts of the city. To bribe the people he needed for his plan. This city,” Dick said opening his eyes and looking at John, “will always need a Batman or,” he smiled wryly, “a Robin and you are the only one it has.”
“Technically, I am not the only bird here right now,” John replied.
“Are you asking me to patrol with you?” Dick asked.
John shrugged. “I’m learning by doing and watching people and you like to show-“
“Off?” Dick grinned.
“I’m a circus brat,” Dick said, because there was no harm in that. He did a quick research concerning circuses and hadn’t stumbled on anything resembling Haly’s. There was probably no kid-snatching Court of Owls here either.
“I had this idea as a kid to run away with the circus, but the open road didn’t have the mystery of –“
“Bruce,” Dick cut in.
“Batman,” John said gently.
“You’re in love with him.”
“He’s dead,” John said.
“That doesn’t mean you aren’t in love with him,” Dick replied.
“I’m not stupid. I always knew he was straight,” John said.
“I bet you had a million filthy fantasies about him as a teenager anyway,” Dick said.
“Because you had them?” John challenged.
“I think every single one of us who trained with him had those. He’s very –“
“Yeah, that,” Dick said.
“How many of you did he take in?”
“Three,” Dick said.
“And he trained them all?”
“Yes,” Dick replied. He could see John’s mind work. He couldn’t picture it and Dick couldn’t blame him.
“He doesn’t seem, he didn’t seem, the father type to me.”
“He’s really not, but maybe yours would have been with time. This universe seems so much less dangerous.”
John laughed. “People starved and froze to dead during the occupation, Dick.”
Dick nodded. “I didn’t mean to simplify your horror.”
“I know. But people who didn’t live it, they don’t know. They don’t get it,” John replied.
Dick nodded. “I’ll go on patrol with you tonight.”
“Thank you,” John said.
Dick could tell he meant it.
John was a fast learner, he would never be as bendy and fast as Dick was, but then neither had been Jason and he was doing just fine.
John was also using everything that Dick has shown him over the last few days. His kicks were much harder and he used his grasp of anatomy to make every one of his blows count.
He still sucked with the shuriken.
Maybe Dick should teach him how to use the sticks.
Once the bad guys were taken care of Dick motioned for John to follow him and waited on one of the rooftops that were so familiar, even here. The architecture was mostly the same here as it was back home.
“You should take some martial arts classes, it will help and maybe not use the Batarangs?”
“I suck at them, I know. The aim is always kinda off,” John replied.
“I don’t know what it is, but they just don’t fit you.”
“They don’t seem to fit you either, you were using the sticks most of the time.”
“You have to find your own way, Robin. You can’t be Batman. There is only one in every universe. You can take what he is and make it your own and then take what he had shown you and use it the best way you know how,” Dick replied.
There was really no better advice Dick could give him. He had learned this the hard way. God, Jason had earned it the really hard way and he was okay with it.
John might even be a little bit less messed up because Bruce hadn’t trained him.
Maybe it was a good thing.
Maybe this universe’s Bruce had seen John falling for him and had taken the only step that would make this, this burden, easier on him.
Dick really wanted to believe that.
God knew, Bruce always had the best intentions.
“Hi,” Dick said letting the Batarang fall onto the tabletop. He was in his Nightwing suite and he was hanging from Bruce's ceiling. Above Bruce's desk, where Bruce was working.
Bruce looked up and then grabbed him by the neck. Dick got out of that with a little bit less difficulty than he thought he would have.
Bruce was ready to beat him up first and ask questions later. Nightwing was ready for that too. This Bruce was good, very good, but he was younger and he was...not less trained, but differently. Just enough that this was fun for Dick.
He laughed and Bruce stopped his attack and looked at him. “You're not here to kill me,” Bruce said.
“God, no,” Dick replied. He was ready to hug this out, but he thought Bruce, this Bruce, any Bruce? Would freak out about it. So he settled for smiling at Bruce. The charming smile, the one that got him into people's pants.
“You know who I used to be,” Bruce said, leaning against the desk and crossing his arms over his impressive chest. God Dick felt always like a scrawny kid when he looked at Bruce's chest.
“I know who you are Bruce;” Dick said.
There was something in Bruce's eyes for a moment. Maybe it had to do with the way Dick said Bruce's name. He couldn't help it. It was the most familiar thing on his tongue.
“I don't know who you are,” Bruce stated.
“I go by Nightwing,” Dick said. “Is Selina around?”
“Don't,” Dick cut in sharply. “Don't lie to me. I know you took her hand and ran. I know you let John think you're dead,” Dick continued. “That was a dick-move, Bruce. The kid-”
“He's older than you,” Bruce cut in. There was that steel in his voice that Dick knew so well. It made him smile.
“He isn't trained. He barely knows what the hell he's doing. While you're enjoying the sun with Kyle,” Dick said.
“This has nothing to do with you, Nightwing. I don't know why you're here,” Bruce replied.
“I wanted to see you,” Dick said. The truth was that he had missed Bruce and he was stuck here. Probably. Most likely. It’s been weeks and he had known that Bruce hadn't died in that explosion. He had to track him down. Had to know this Bruce.
Bruce nodded. “Did you see through my mask too? And had to seek me out?”
“I'm not John. He is...he knows you on a level I probably never-” he cut himself off. It wouldn't do any good to tell Bruce about the whole universe displacement thing. Or UDT as Dick liked to call it in his head.
“Nightwing,” Bruce said, running a hand through his hair and Dick ached.
“It's Dick,” Dick said, because he needed to hear Bruce say his name again. And this Bruce wasn't angry, wasn't bitter, wasn't obsessed. He had left. He had left the city and given it to John. He had seen how fucked up he had been and tried to fix it. It had to count for something.
“Dick?” Bruce asked, there was amusement in his voice.
“I know you know some penis jokes, this is the time, if there ever has been a right time and right place for it,” Dick grinned.
“I don't feel like it, Dick,” Bruce said.
The way Bruce said his name was completely unfamiliar. He wasn't Bruce's son here. He was just a boy. Just a stranger in a suit that protected all the parts of him that were so easily hurt. It had been selfish to come here.
“Shit,” Dick said.
“Language,” someone said from the door and Dick spun around. Alfred.
“Oh fuck. Of course you would be here. Alfred. Fuck,” Dick said.
Alfred raised an eyebrow. “And you are, young man?”
“Dick, but in this outfit? I go by Nightwing.”
“Fits with the Birdtheme Gotham has going, doesn't it?” Alfred replied.
“Well, none of us can or want to be Batman,” Dick replied.
“Is that so?” Alfred said.
Shit, Dick thought. It was way too easy to tell Alfred all his secrets. And he had already told them his name. Dick nodded. “I'm sorry I -”
“Dropped in unannounced?” Bruce supplied.
Dick smiled at him wryly. “You do have a sense of humor.”
“Try and sound less shocked, why don't you?” Bruce asked. He was fucking with Dick and Dick liked it. Dick wanted to stay. He wanted for Bruce to ask him to stay.
“I didn't expect this,” Dick said.
You being so young, you being so happy, you being...not possessed by the fucking Batman. “Not important,” he said. “It was nice to see you, Bruce. Alfred,” he added as he made for the window.
“We have a perfectly functional door, Master Dick,” Alfred said.
“Yeah, no. People might start talking and getting all the wrong ideas about Bruce here,” Dick joked.
Something passed over Alfred's face that Dick had never ever seen before. Dick didn't dare hope.
“Dick,” Bruce said and Dick looked at him.
“Will you tell John?” Bruce asked.
“I don't-” he stopped and looked at Bruce, really looked, tried to look into Bruce's head. “Do you want me to tell him?”
Bruce shook his head. “No, he has the city, he has a mission, he has you. He doesn't need the grief-”
“He has the grief too, you know that: You know he is in fucking love with you!” Dick said sharply because he was suddenly angry at Bruce. What was Bruce doing? “Was that your way of letting him down gently? Or was it a way to not deal with John and his feelings and- “ he paused again. “Your own?” It was absurd. But it could be true in this universe. Bruce would be swinging both ways here. He could have some romantic feelings for John in return...it was possible. Hell Bane was dead here. Ra's wasn't some mystical god only knew how old undead person. This world was kind of sane. There wasn't even a Superman flying around and saving the day. This world didn't need him.
Bruce didn't answer and he probably wouldn't, but Dick waited anyway. And the bell rang and he looked away from Bruce's face.
“It's your dinner date, Master Bruce,” Alfred said.
“Yes,” Bruce replied. “I'll be down in a few minutes.”
“It's not Selina,” Dick said.
“No, it's not,” Bruce replied. “You need to go now, Dick.”
“I know. I know-”
“You can come back,” Bruce cut in.
Dick stared at him. “Okay.”
“Goodnight, Bruce,” Dick said and before he could think about it, he grabbed Bruce by his shirt, soft and expensive, and kissed him and then he was out of the window and his blood was on fire and he thought he might explode with the happiness and adrenalin inside him.
Once Dick got used to his surrounding, John thought, he had no regards for personal space. And he wasn’t afraid to walk around half naked when he came back from patrol. Disrobing on the way to the kitchen for a late night/early morning snack.
They were only patrolling together now for a few hours a week, because Dick thought John needed to get shit done on his own.
“Sink or swim,” he had said, grinning, “or in our case, fly or fall.” And he had taken off. A leap from the rooftop that John thought had been an insane risk, but it looked like fun and games when Dick did it.
Now Dick was staring out of the window at the trees outside, cradling a mug and only wearing a thin worn out shirt and boxers.
John didn’t look. Dick was very fit and his ass – but he was a kid too and John, really, to be honest John had no idea what the hell he was doing with Dick. Or what Dick was doing. But then Dick didn’t have another place to go.
The manor was different, but it seemed familiar enough to Dick. When Dick felt homesick he just spent time in the Cave, John discovered.
“You’re pensive and quite,” John said, pouring himself coffee. He didn’t need to be up yet, because it was a Saturday, but with Dick around sleep seemed too luxurious or a stupid waste of time when he could be spending it with Dick. “And you weren’t in Gotham tonight.”
“I was looking for an old friend,” Dick said. “You finally figured out the tracker on my suit, hmm?”
“Is it an invasion of privacy?” John asked. He really wasn’t sure. He had wanted to meet up with Dick after he finished his patrol early, but Dick hadn’t been available. It wasn’t the first time. He got worried.
Dick laughed. “Really? Bruce would’ve put trackers into our bodies if Alfred hadn’t give him the look for even suggesting it,” he said, taking a sip of coffee. “No, it’s fine. Did you need something in particular from me tonight?”
The way Dick sometimes phrased things left John to believe that he was flirting, but maybe it was how Dick was and it had nothing to do with John.
“It’s not that important anymore,” John said. “Did you find your friend?”
“Yes, I did,” Dick replied and didn’t offer anything more.
John frowned into his coffee. “Did he know who you are?”
“No one knows me here, John,” Dick answered. “I’m beginning to think it’s not a bad thing, you know?”
“You want to start fresh? What about all the other people, your family, you will leave behind?”
“They can and will take care of themselves,” Dick said. “It’s what they do, it’s what we’ve learned.”
John nodded, he couldn’t say he agreed with this, but then Dick would know his family better than John did. Dick would have considered this.
“I can’t put life on hold just because it’s the wrong universe I’m living it in, John,” he said looking away from the trees and at John. He put his mug on the table and made a few steps forward and then he stopped a few feet away from where John was standing. “Let’s go out and have breakfast in the city,” he said. “I also need more than your borrowed clothes and the one Nightwing suit. You should introduce me to Fox and…maybe Gordon.”
“He was asking about you. Not that anyone has really seen you, but Gordon is a good cop. He knows that some of those arrests – or gifts as you like to call them,” John said, Dick grinned at him, “weren’t my doing. It had too much Bat in it. Smelled like Bat, Gordon had said.”
Dick shrugged. “You live what you’ve learned after all, no?”
“Okay, go shower put some clothes on, you’re buying,” Dick said, patting him on the shoulder.
“I hope you’re a cheap date,” John joked.
“I can be,” Dick replied and winked at him.
John had really no idea where he was standing with Dick. They were sure as hell becoming friends fast. It was just easy, Dick made it easy to like him and besides there weren’t that many people who John could talk about the vigilante stuff with.
And John was getting better at that too. Robin was making a splash. Not as big as Batman had, but people knew that there was someone new in town now. Someone who wouldn’t stand for innocent citizens being mugged and raped.
Dick was good with keeping his living costs to a minimum. But John had the feeling that he didn’t need to where he was from. Surely Bruce was keeping the money flowing.
Dick dragged him into a café and ordered fried cakes and hot chai tea. “I like it when it’s getting cold outside.”
“It`s not,” John pointed out, because it was only the end of August now and the sun was still strong.
“I like it when it’s warm too, okay?” Dick grinned and then he smiled at the barista. The female barista and yeah…Dick was an equal opportunity kind of guy. John was not.
He had figured that one out pretty early in his life. The hard-on he had for Batman was a big fucking clue.
“You just like fried cakes and chai tea,” John stated.
“I like all kinds of cakes, but Bruce seems to think that it’ll make me fat.”
“Didn’t he allow you to eat them as a kid?” John asked as they were making their way to a corner table.
“Alfred sneaked me all kinds of sweets when Bruce wasn’t looking, but I bet he knew anyway.”
“Was he a good father-figure?” John wanted to know.
Dick cradled the paper cup of tea. “Not really. He was there for me and later for Jason and Tim, the only way he knew how and he was always more himself when he was wearing the suit,” Dick said.
“He seems so different from the man I met,” John said.
“Yeah, I know,” Dick replied.
“You looked him up online, didn’t you?”
“Yeah,” Dick answered, but there was something in his voice that made John’s alarm bells ring.
John shook his head. He didn’t know Dick well enough to say for sure when Dick was holding stuff back. He wasn’t lying to John, but there was a nagging feeling that he knew something that John didn’t.
“You found Alfred,” John said, he didn’t know why, or maybe he did, because suddenly the dots made sense.
Dick smiled behind his cup. “I did. He didn’t know who I was. He had no idea…but he still. He is still Alfred, you know?”
John shook his head. “I never knew him like you did.”
“Yes, you grew up in an orphanage…to think that you could’ve been a version of me or Jason,” Dick said.
“Tim has parents,” Dick said.
“Oh…” John couldn’t wrap his head around it. Teenagers who were fighting crime. And Bruce who helped them do it. It just seemed so dangerous.
“It doesn’t make sense to you. I get it. I don’t think we would in this universe. I don’t think we would be needed like we are back-“ Dick cut himself off.
John really wasn’t sure Dick had wanted to end that sentence with the word ‘home’.
“We will meet with Mister Fox later Dick,” John said. He had already talked with Fox, but to be honest they had not the slightest clue how to get Dick home.
At least Fox could give Dick a new suit.
“Adrenalin,” Dick said, “is a turn on for me.” He was pressing John into a brick wall on a deserted rooftop and all John could do was bemoan that he couldn’t feel Dick’s heat against his own skin through all the protection they were wearing. And then he was moaning low, because Dick was kissing him and Dick was a fucking great kisser and John hadn’t kissed anyone since before the occupation.
“Wouldn’t ever have guessed,” John joked.
Dick grinned. “This is okay, right?” he asked.
John grabbed him by his neck and pulled him in again.
It was okay. They had been building up to this, really. The Rooftop tag, the train-surfing, the ass-kicking and the quite mornings in the kitchen.
Dinners in small cafes and diners that felt like dates.
He was living with Dick and he wanted Dick’s ass, Dick had known, of course he had known, and – there were things that they should consider. Things that John should consider. Like where Dick was disappearing to when he was just gone and John couldn't trace him, because the tracker was deactivated. He knew that Dick wasn't doing anything shady. Dick was too good a person to do drug deals or whatever behind John's back. And he was entitled to have a life, he couldn't be with John 24/7. God, John had a life too that had nothing to do with Dick.
Why was he feeling so uneasy about it then?
“You're not fully here,” Dick said and started to pull away.
John grabbed his wrist and held on tight. “Maybe you didn't give it your best?” John teased.
“Are you trying to get a blowjob out of this?” Dick grinned.
John swallowed. “Now that you mentioned it.”
Dick sank to his knees gracefully, because everything Dick did was graceful. “Good thing I'm familiar with your suit.”
John's mind flashed to all the fucked up things it sometimes flashed to, like how this suit was so very similar to Bruce's old. Dick would have looked good on his knees in front of Bruce too. John groaned. Dick grinned against his thigh. “You have to tell me what you were just thinking about.”
“You,” John said.
“Yeah, but what exactly?” Dick wondered.
“I'll tell you later?”
“Yes, you will,” Dick said and pulled John's cock out.
John's head hit the wall. He didn't know what to do with his hands, so he pressed them to the cold brick while Dick was tonguing his cock. It had been way too long John thought as his orgasm washed over him. Dick didn't give him shit for it. “We're going to do this again. In a bed, probably, with a lot of more skin to skin contact?” Dick said as he put John's cock away and got up.
John kissed him and then nodded. “Yes.”
Dick still wasn’t used to this. This Bruce, who didn’t see him as a kid, a son, some kind of heir. He was just Dick with Bruce, even if he kept the mask on.
And they were talking. Something Dick couldn’t even remember when he did that with his Bruce the last time without it ending with Dick shouting and then just leaving. Or Bruce dismissing him in that very Bruce way of his.
And this Bruce wanted him too. He could read body language very well. He knew when people were interested. Bruce was interested.
And Dick wanted to jump his bones or for Bruce to jump his. He just wasn’t sure if he should make the first move here.
“You didn’t tell John tonight either that you’re meeting with me, did you?”
“The answer is still no, Bruce,” Dick said, folding himself in the big armchair. That thing was soft and comfortable beyond belief. He wondered how it would feel to be pressed into it by Bruce’s large body. Good, he thought, it would feel so good. “And I still think it’s a dick-move to let him think you’re dead.”
“He would seek me out if he knew I wasn’t. He would abandon the mission-“
“You don’t give him enough credit. You don’t just quit because you’re in love. This could make him better, stronger. He already lost his parents and now he has to live with the guilt of being responsible for your ‘death’,” Dick said and made the air quotes too.
“Because you’re not dead? Or because he shouldn’t feel like him getting you out of the manor and on the streets again led to you taking that bomb over the harbor? And dying in the process?”
“He would think that, wouldn’t he?” Bruce asked, taking a sip of his coffee.
Dick nodded. He had noticed that Bruce didn’t have any dates scheduled anymore. He was waiting for Dick to show up. And Dick showed up very irregularly. He hadn’t asked about Selina again since that first night he had broken into Bruce’s house here. It was pretty clear that she and Bruce went separate ways. Dick didn’t have to feel guilty at all – except that he was lying to John and that he was fucking John. And he didn’t like to not be able to tell John about Bruce and Bruce – fuck, he thought, but there was no way he would say no to Bruce once Bruce made the first move.
“I don’t like lying to John,” Dick said, running a hand through is hair. He needed a shower. Getting here, even with the new shiny bike Fox got him took over three hours and he always put a few hours of patrol in first.
Bruce gave him a look, but didn’t ask the question. He knew that Dick cared about John, but he wasn’t sure if Bruce suspected that Dick was also sleeping with John.
“Is there a way for you to get back home?” Bruce asked instead.
Dick shrugged. “Fox and his people are working on it, but to be honest, they haven’t the slightest clue, Bruce.” He was pretty much stuck here and he found that he didn’t mind that much at all. This version of Bruce was what Dick wanted, what Dick had hoped for. And then there was of course John as well. John who was quick and generous and fierce.
“And you don’t have one either?”
“One minute I was in Gotham, my Gotham, the next I am here. I have no idea what happened. Except for the obvious: I am universe displaced.”
“Your family must be worried-“
“My parents are dead Bruce,” Dick said. He hadn’t told Bruce about the other Bruce. About how Bruce had taken him in and how he had raised him. He skirted around that issue. Maybe he would tell Bruce one day. Once they had had sex, so Bruce wouldn’t even try to have some kind of crisis or scruple about it.
“Yes, I know you said it before, but you also mentioned other people. Jason?”
“And Tim, they're like my brothers. But they can take care of themselves, Bruce. This universe where I am from. It’s dark and messed up and if I could I would take Jason and Tim and bring them here. This is better,” he said, and not only because there are no aliens and plagues and mystical Lazarus Pits, he thought. This universe was sane and normal. The only bad things were man-made. Dick liked this Gotham. He knew it was selfish, but he also thought that he deserved a bit of happiness for all the crap that he had to live through.
“When I was a kid my parents were murdered. And I was to be snatched away so an underground party, they call themselves The Court of Owls, could make me into an assassin. So I could be an instrument to kill people. They snatch kids and make them into killers and then when they don’t need their Talons, that’s what they’re called, anymore, they freeze them. For centuries sometimes. I don’t – this world here, it’s not perfect, but it’s better. Less insane,” Dick said.
“You don’t want to go back,” Bruce realized.
“I like it here,” Dick replied. “But I am living in fear of just being transported back at any given moment.”
“You could be stuck here for years, Dick,” Bruce said.
Dick looked at him and then got up from the chair and made his way to where Bruce was sitting. “I could be gone for good in three seconds.”
“What are you doing?” Bruce asked. He sounded a bit amused and a bit – turned on, maybe. Dick’s never heard Bruce turned on before. He couldn’t be sure. It needed further investigation.
“You want me,” Dick said.
“You`re not even-“
“Bruce. I’ve been on the streets of Gotham since I was thirteen. I am not a kid. In fact I’m a legal adult, unless I have to be 21 to be a legal adult here and don’t think I won’t look it up, so don’t even try.” He said with a smile and touched Bruce´s cheek and let his fingers run down, his thumb grazed Bruce’s lips, but he only lingered or a second before he let it slide to Bruce’s neck.
He grabbed it hard and leaned in –and Bruce let him, even responded to the kiss.
Bruce was different, he was aware that there might not be a latter or a better time. This was it and they had to make the best of it. Dick intended to do just that.
John was waiting with coffee and cinnamon buns when Dick got home and he was thinking of this place as home once more. It was weird in a good way.
“I know you’re not selling drugs to kids behind my back, but you are – not lying, but omitting something. I don’t like it. I mean since we started sleeping together I like it even less.”
“I’m hooking up with someone else,” Dick said.
John took a step back. He put his mug with coffee on the table and looked at Dick. “Someone you know from your universe?”
“Yes,” Dick said. It was time to come clean at least as far as he could. “And I didn’t hook up with him until tonight and we didn’t go the whole-“
“I don’t want details, Dick!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lie to you.”
“Are you in love with this guy?”
“Yes,” Dick said. And you are too, so you can’t throw the first stone, but he couldn’t say that. “I’m in love with you too, or on my way there.”
“Does he know about me?” John asked.
“Not yet? I mean I told him about you, but not that we’re sleeping together. But I think he suspects that.”
“And he is alright with it?”
“I don’t know, Jesus. I didn’t think I would find him here and like this. Open and willing and – shit,” Dick said. “I can’t do this.” He looked at John. He was falling in love with John. John was in love with Bruce and Bruce was – Bruce was alive and it wasn’t fair to lie to John about it.
“It’s Bruce, John,” Dick said. “It’s Bruce.”
He sat down at the kitchen table and waited.
“He’s dead. I saw him die. Half the city saw him die, Dick.”
“He is alive. He wanted out and he wanted to – it’s Bruce. God only knows what he was thinking. He sure as hell wasn’t thinking about you or Gordon or whatever. He needed to quit and he needed to make a symbol out of himself. He gave the city everything. But he cheated.”
“You saw him?”
“I talked to him and Alfred. And I was with him tonight. John. He is alive.”
“I will kill him,” John said.
Dick laughed. “Yeah, he at least deserves a good punch to that handsome face.”
“You’ve been in love with him since you were a kid, too,” John said.
Dick nodded. “Yes, that’s why I needed to do this. My Bruce he is totally straight and besides we’re like his kids. He would never touch us in that way. This Bruce. He is different. I am, I was a stranger to him. There is no history to weight us down. I needed to grab that opportunity.”
“I’m mad at you,” John said, but he came closer and sat down at the table too. “For keeping this to yourself and for –“
“Kissing him?” Dick supplied.
“Yes, that too. I am normally a one guy at the time person, but-“
“You’re willing to make an exception? Because it’s Bruce?” Dick asked.
John nodded. “I will still punch him for putting me through all this shit.”
“It’s only fair,” Dick replied.
They didn’t talk about it, but John knew that Dick knew he wasn’t ready yet to face Bruce.
“Will you tell him about us?” John asked, letting his fingertips run along Dick’s spine. Dick sighed. He was so alive when he was touched. It was like something broke inside him and all the affection he kept inside was just flooding out and embracing you like a warm hug. John had been starved for that kind of warmth, that kind of affection. He took every second of this greedily.
“I bet he knows and just doesn’t bring it up. Doesn’t want to acknowledge and doesn’t want to talk about it,” Dick replied.
“Doesn’t want to stop-“
“Fucking me?” Dick cut in, he turned a bit so he could look at John. He was grinning. “We aren’t-“
“Is that what we do?” John asked.
“You’re a romantic, aren't you?”
John closed his eyes briefly. He couldn’t help it. He had been in love with Bruce since he first saw Batman, so maybe he had been in love with Batman as a kid, but later he had definitely fallen for Bruce.
As a teenager he had had romantic fantasies about Bruce and him, but- “I guess I am.”
He sat up and John didn’t hinder him. Dick leaned forward and took John’s face between his hands, looking at him. “I am making love with you. It’s just not – we don’t call it that where I am from.”
“What about the girls?”
“The girls are hard as marble. This is a softer world, John,” Dick said and kissed him.
“You don’t want to go back.”
“No, I don’t. But I want to be able to drag my brothers into this world,” Dick said.
“What about Bruce?” John asked.
“There is already one here and besides I don’t think he would go. He is all about the mission. My Bruce, the one that raised me, he is obsessed with what he’s doing. He would never quit. He would die doing what he does.”
“You want to take away your brothers from this then and leave Bruce alone?”
“He’s not alone. He has Alfred and he has Gordon and all kinds of metahumans and also: Superman.”
“Come again?” John said.
Dick grinned. “He’s an alien and he and Bruce have…a thing that neither of them calls friendship yet.”
“That- explains nothing at all,” John admitted.
Dick shrugged. “It is a whole other world, John. And I discovered I like this one better.”
John wondered how bad a world must get so you are glad you were universe displaced. So you don’t try to get back to the people you love and call family, so you don’t try to find a way back for the mission. But maybe Dick was sick of only living for the mission. John thought Dick deserved to live just for the joy of living.
He kissed Dick, slow and sensual and for as long as he could without having to draw a breath.
“What was that for?” Dick asked, but he was smiling.
“I felt like it,” John replied.
“I feel like sucking you off,” Dick said and pushed him on his back.
“Go for it,” John replied and Dick did.
Now that John knew that Bruce liked men as well it was harder to talk himself out of any number of fantasies involving Bruce. Involving him on his knees in front of Bruce.
And then there was Dick.
Beautiful, bendy Dick with whom Bruce was hooking up with well knowing that John was sleeping with him too.
Did it turn Bruce on? Knowing that he kissed the same lips John kissed?
It sure as hell did things for John when he was thinking about it.
Dick landed on the rooftop without a sound.
John recognized the slight shift in the air as Dick landed, because Dick taught him how to recognize it.
“He used to drop by like that without a sound more often than I could count,” Dick had said. “And the crazy thing was that you never even heard his cape swish if he didn’t want you too.”
“Well, he had been trained by ninjas,” John had answered.
Dick had smiled. “Weren’t we all?”
John hadn’t been. He was trained by Dick.
“Anything happening?” Dick asked.
John wished he could feel Dick’s body warmth. “Not yet, but if a drug deal is going down here it will happen soon.”
“It is a bit too quiet,” Dick said.
“It’s the docks around three in the morning,” John replied.
“Exactly,” Dick said. “Something’s fishy.”
John wanted to roll his eyes and now that he had whiteout lenses too, he just did.
“I can actually tell if someone rolls their eyes at me, even with the lenses, Robin,” Nightwing said, but there was amusement in his voice.
Before John could reply there was something going on by warehouse seven. Dick grinned, John could see it out of the corner of his eye.
“Shady,” Dick said.
“After you,” John replied.
“You follow my lead?”
“It’s like dancing with you,” John joked.
Dick flashed him a smile that promised a thousand dirty things and then some more. John wanted to kiss him badly in that moment.
“Let’s dance then,” Dick said and jumped.
Bruce was in disguise and John wasn’t ready to see him, but – it hardly ever worked that way.
He was perched on a fire escape and on his way home, because it was a quiet night and Dick was already on his way back to the manor as well. John was hoping for a movie and some cuddles on the couch, take out Chinese food, maybe a slow blowjob as well.
And suddenly it didn’t seem like it was going to happen, because Bruce Wayne just stepped out of a taxi and he may have been in disguise, but John would recognize him anywhere.
It was a shock to his system.
Nightwing was saying something (filthy?) in his ear, but he couldn’t concentrate. “Are you there? Robin?”
“I-yes, I’m –“ he stopped. “Not coming home yet.”
There was silence on the other end of the comm. “Do you need help?”
Did he? He wasn’t sure. “No.”
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know,” John said.
“What the hell is going on, Robin?”
John closed his eyes for a second and Bruce disappeared into the hotel lobby. “I just saw Bruce.”
“I’m on my way to your location. Don’t do anything-“
“Did you know he would come back?” John cut in.
“No, I would have told you,” Dick answered.
Yes, John thought, of course Dick would have told him. “I want to go after him, but I don’t know if it’s a good idea.”
“Are you still angry?”
“Yes,” John said.
“Then I’ll say no, it’s not a good idea, but –“
“He came here. He came back,” John said.
“And now you’re wondering if it was for me or for you?”
John nodded, remembered that Dick couldn’t see it and said: “Yes.”
He heard the bike before he saw it and then Dick was beside him on the fire escape. Too close to be professional. It was dark and shady enough that John risked leaning into Dick’s body.
“Better by the second,” John said. “You think he knows that I saw him?”
“Maybe. I can’t tell. My Bruce probably would have.”
“Hack into the hotel system?”
“You want to confront him being Robin?”
John bit his lip and Dick laughed softly. “Yeah, I had that fantasy too.”
The truth was he felt more confident when he was wearing the suit and mask. He was Robin and Robin wasn’t John. This Robin wasn’t Batman’s either. This Robin was his own, and maybe partly Nightwing’s.
John was still staring at the entrance to the hotel when Nightwing nudged his ribs. “Have the room number. Really. It’s like he wanted to be found.”
“He doesn’t know how well you know him, the other him.”
“He probably knows that I worked with the other Batman and that he trained me too, but I didn’t tell him the other him sees me as his son.”
“Probably better that way,” John smiled. He was already feeling better. Dick’s presence did that to him and he wondered how his brothers were. How Jason would react to this world, how would Tim? He was curious about them, not only because Dick so obviously loved them, and wished to meet them too.
“He’s in the penthouse. It has a balcony…it’s an invitation,” Dick said.
“He hasn’t called yet,” John replied.
“I didn’t leave a number,” Dick confessed.
John nodded. Bruce probably had the ways to find out John’s or just leave a message with the orphanage staff for Dick. It was common knowledge that Dick was John’s friend or boyfriend depending on who you talked to. Dick knew that too.
But maybe Bruce liked to play this game this way. Maybe he wanted Dick to drop into his hotel room and – well, that was one of John’s fantasies.
“Thinking filthy thoughts?” Dick asked.
“Bruce does that to me, your suit too,” John grinned.
“Come on,” Dick replied with a smile. “Let’s say hi to Bruce. And ask what he wants”
They dropped onto the balcony silently like ghosts. John hadn’t’ even known before that he was able to be so silent, so ready. His mind was sharp and his muscles coiled, ready to fight or fuck, because it wouldn’t be lovemaking, not in his state, not the first time. And maybe he was getting ahead of himself.
“Nightwing,” Bruce said from the bedroom and then he stepped into the living room and saw John as well. “And Robin.”
John curled his hands to fists on his side. It was a relief to hear Bruce´s voice, it was a relief to really see him alive. His hair was damp from a recent shower and he was only wearing loose pants and a worn, soft looking, t-shirt. No shoes or socks.
John wanted to kiss him and punch him.
“I thought you were dead,” he said.
“I’m sorry I needed to disappear and I thought leaving you the Cave would-“
“Soften the blow? The guilt?”
“I never intended for you to feel guilty for what I did. I did what I wanted, what I needed to do,” Bruce said.
“You lied to me.”
“I thought it would make it easier on you,” Bruce replied.
“Because I’m in love with you?” John asked.
“Or because you have the hots for him too, Bruce?” Dick cut in.
“That nearly sounded like an insult, Bruce,” Dick said.
Bruce gave him a look.
“It’s not like it’s a secret,” John threw in.
“I didn’t-“ Bruce started.
“No, but you hooked up with Dick, knowing he and I are-“
“Boyfriends,” Dick supplied and didn’t even stumble over the word.
John smiled at him. “Boyfriends,” he repeated.
“I don’t have an excuse for this,” Bruce said.
John ran a hand through his hair and took a deep breath. He didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t – he had no idea what it should have been like, natural, he thought, like with Dick, but it was anything but with Bruce.
Bruce felt guilty and John felt angry and-
“You should have it out,” Dick said.
“What?” Bruce asked.
“Have it out. Spar, punch and roll around on that expensive carpet. Try not to break anything,” Dick replied.
“I don’t-“ Bruce started, but John thought it was a great idea and started to strip out of his suit. “What are you doing?”
“I wouldn’t be fair, if I kept it on, Bruce,” John said reasonably.
“I’m not going to fight with you!”
“Well, then you will get punched a lot, Bruce, because I've been ready to punch you since Dick told me you were alive and had lied to me all this time.”
“And I didn’t even tell him that you ran away with Kyle,” Dick threw in. “Oops.”
John glared back and as soon as the last piece of the armor hit the carpet he came at Bruce. Bruce blocked of course, but John had learned a shitload of moves from Nightwing and he didn’t think that Bruce and Nightwing had sparred. Bruce had weight on him and sheer body mass, but John had speed and his body hadn’t been broken in a million places. They were mostly evenly matched now.
Bruce managed to pin him down after only twenty minutes anyway.
“You’re reckless-“ Bruce said, looking at him.
John could smell him, he tested the grip Bruce had on his wrists. It didn’t give. “Look who’s my teacher,” John replied.
Dick laughed. “You two,” he said, “just kiss and make up.” He crouched beside them. “Here, that’s how it’s done,” he whispered and leaned down to kiss John. It was a passionate but gentle kiss. The way John loved it. Slow and heavy. That always left him wanting more. He moaned into Dick's mouth as he was straining against Bruce’s body.
Bruce's fingers tightened on John’s writs. “John-“
“Come on, Bruce I know you know how to kiss,” Dick said gently.
And then Bruce was kissing him. He tasted like something sweet and spicy. Chai tea, John’s mind supplied. His lip when John licked it was salty. He groaned and strained against the hold. He wanted, he needed to touch Bruce. John slung his legs around Bruce’s middle and the kiss became harder.
“You two look very hot together,” Dick whispered, leaning away from them.
John bit Bruce’s lip so Bruce would get a grip. “Right,” Bruce said, letting go of one of John’s wrists and grabbing Dick by the neck instead, so he could kiss the hell out of Dick too.
“Bed?” Dick asked as soon as Bruce let him breathe again.
“Yes,” John answered. It was the only logical progression.
Dick could see the hard outline of John’s cock as he fell onto the bed. Bruce was stripping, John was watching him and holding his hand out to Dick.
“You’re still wearing the suit,” he said.
It occurred to Dick that he had never taken it off in front of this Bruce, not even the mask. Stupid really how Batman’s lessons were carved so deeply into his bones.
Stupid really how he suddenly felt shy about it. John has seen him naked. Had kissed Dick’s scars and bruises.
“Yeah,” Dick said and then started to strip fast so he wouldn’t be thinking about it. Like ripping off a band aid. Soon he was naked at the foot of the bed. He could feel Bruce’s eyes on him and suppressed a shiver. John was still looking at him like he was the most beautiful thing. Dick smiled at him and crawled into bed. John traced the edges of the mask. Dick had kinda forgotten about it.
“Want to leave it on?” John whispered.
“Nah,” Dick said and let John peel it away with gentle carefulness. And then he kissed John and could feel Bruce’s gaze burning. No doubt they were good looking men. And together they were probably every wet dream come true. Dick grinned against John’s lips and then looked over his shoulder “Wanna join or only watch?”
“Dick doesn’t care – much. He likes to be looked at,” John threw in.
Dick laughed and then groaned as Bruce's hand stroked up the curve of his ass. He wanted Bruce so much, but he wanted John to have Bruce even more.
“We need to switch places, John,” Dick said.
“Switch places, so you can make love to me,” he kissed John, “While Bruce makes love to you.”
“Oh,” John said, licking his lips
“Do you want to?” Bruce asked, gently.
“Yes,” John answered. There was so much need and awe in his voice that Dick had to kiss him again. They switched places while Bruce was getting lube and condoms. Dick was vibrating with the need to touch and be touched and he loved how responsive John was, how much he soaked every caress up.
Dick woke up to sunshine filtering through the curtains and the smell of coffee. John was still in bed with him. Cuddled up against his side. He was adorable.
He closed his eyes again and just breathed. This was good. Smell of coffee, lingering smell of sex, sleep warm scent of John beside him. Sunshine outside the window and on the floor. He stretched and John made an unhappy noise before he rolled on his side. Dick smiled and got out of bed careful not to wake John. John needed sleep. He had a day job from Monday to Friday after all.
He found Bruce in the living room drinking coffee and reading the paper.
He didn’t bother with clothes, just snagged a cup and poured coffee for himself and then he sat down.
“You’re freaking out,” Dick stated.
Bruce just looked at him. Dick ran a hand through his messy hair. “Look, I know you, okay? You’re totally freaking out about this. I bet you never had meaningful threesomes with guys before. Right?”
Bruce still only looked at him. It wasn’t new, but with this Bruce it was a bit unnerving. “Just don’t let John see how much you-“
“I don’t regret it, Dick,” Bruce cut in. “I’m just not sure how this is supposed to work. You and John are living together.”
“And you are officially dead. Yeah, I get it, Bruce. It’s just a tiny bit complicated, but what is not complicated is this: we love you. Are in love with you and for a godamned long time too.” He took a sip of coffee. Bruce was watching him. “Neither of us is going to let you disappear from our lives without a fight.”
“Two against one seems a bit unfair. I think I thought you better than this.”
“You taught me to use the weapons I have at hand, Bruce. And yes, it is a bit unfair, but you know what they’re saying: all is fair in war and-“
“Yes I know,” Bruce said.
“Love,” Dick finished smoothly. He knew that Bruce wasn`t in love with John. Not yet at least, but he also knew that Bruce admired John, that he desired John and cared for him too. All very good requirements to fall in love with John eventually. And Dick wanted that for Bruce and for John.
“You’re trying to give me to him, so he would have someone once you’re gone,” Bruce realized.
Dick shrugged. He had no illusions, really that his family back home was figuring shit out. That they were searching for him. Probably building a Stargate or something to get Dick back. Sooner or later they would find him and he would – he didn’t know. He didn’t want to go back. He also knew how much that would hurt his family, especially Tim and Bruce.
“I’m trying to give him to you too, don’t you see?” Dick said.
“You said, you didn’t want to get back,” Bruce pointed out.
Dick let his head rest on the back of the armchair. “That doesn’t mean they won’t come for me, Bruce. You should know. You would’ve come for your son too.”
“Yes,” Bruce replied. “I would.”
“But I think it`s time for me to let go of him and leave the nest or whatever. The protective shadow of his wings and have my own life,” Dick said, looking at Bruce. “It’s not too much to ask for, is it?”
“No, it’s not, but you have a responsibility-“
“Bruce, it’s my life. I want to live it and I want to live it here with you and John. I want to come home to him and patrol with him and I want to watch him on his knees for you and show you how to cuddle on the sofa and-“
Bruce kissed him then. It still took Dick by surprise how fast a man his size could be. Bruce tasted like bitter coffee and one of his hands was already in Dick’s lap, stroking hard and fast. It didn’t take long at all. Bruce swallowed his moans and then licked his hand.
“Shower…” John said from the door to the bedroom. His voice low and gravely. “Long hot shower,” he repeated and marched off in the bathroom’s direction. They followed.
They spent the next few days patrolling and fucking after patrol like there was no tomorrow at Bruce's hotel suite. Most of the time Dick could forget that there was another world, a whole other universe where he had come from and that there was a real possibility for him to get back. Once Bruce figured it all out, with Tim's help and maybe got the freaking League involved. Sometimes he missed Tim painfully, wanted to share a joke or a piece of trivia and then remembered that Tim wasn't here. That he couldn't be reached on the comm either. Sometimes John caught him at it and his face became soft. He made love to Dick on those nights, slow and sensual and with a lot of body contact.
He didn't ask if Dick was okay, because Dick was, mostly, he just missed his brothers sometimes badly. And there was no one to replace them here – he didn't wish that life on any kid anyway.
But maybe that was the price Dick had to pay for love, for his own happiness, he didn't think it was too high.
“And if they find a way to come here? To bring you back, you will just say no?” John asked.
It was really more of a when and not if situation. A question of time.
“Yes,” Dick said. “Maybe I will be able to visit the other universe.”
“Would that be wise? Wouldn't it make it harder?” Bruce asked.
Dick shrugged. He didn't know. What he did know was that he wanted to stay here. He wanted John, he wanted Bruce. He wanted this life. He liked this life, he felt like he fit in here. Like nothing was too big or fucked up to handle.
“You came back here,” he said.
“I don't travel between two lives, Dick,” Bruce replied.
“I don't know, okay? I just know that right now life is good that I have what I always wanted and more-”
“Except for Tim and Jason,” John said.
“I have Mark,” Dick said, because he was spending time with the kid and they got along just fine. He was becoming Dick's little brother in this verse, but Dick would not allow him to be one of them. Not that he thought Mark had a clue.
“Dick-” Bruce started.
“Stop worrying,” Dick cut in.
“You realize who you're talking to,” John said with a smile.
Dick smiled back. “Yeah, maybe we should make him think less with his upstairs brain.”
“I think it's an excellent idea,” John replied.
Bruce didn't resist at all.
Dick decided not to worry about things that might not happen for a long time right now. And once they would come for him he would explain and hope for the best.
This was where his heart was, most of it anyway, this was his home and he didn't need any other.