It had been a quiet night patrolling the city. Seemed as though even Gotham's criminal element had taken the night off - they really were a spoiled lot, and who wouldn't prefer being in front of a warm fire on a night like this? The streets were silent except for the occasional car making its cautious way through the steadily falling snow. And except for him.
Reluctantly, he turned the Batmobile towards home, having no real excuse to delay his return to the mansion. Alfred would no doubt be waiting for him. The fire would be burning brightly, a plate of warm cookies would be waiting on the table between the twin armchairs, the lights would be twinkling on the perfectly decorated tree…and the other chair would be empty. His ward, his *partner*, had been gone for six months as he continued his education in another city - both academic and as a crime-fighter. That he'd had a reason for insisting on the separation, that Dick had reluctantly agreed to it, didn't matter. It also didn't matter that when he'd finally relented, had given in to Alfred's silent pleas and his own buried desires to summon the young man home, an early winter storm had grounded all planes in and out of Metropolis. All that mattered was that, for the first time in ten years, Dick wouldn't be home for Christmas.
The thought was enough to make him want to turn back towards Gotham for one more circuit, just to make *sure* there was no trouble brewing. But that would be a coward's actions, and he was not a coward. Except when it came to love.
Alfred was waiting for him in the Cave, as usual, with polite inquiries about the evening's ventures and his physical well-being. He gave his faithful servant and friend a brief reassurance as he mechanically went about the tasks of transforming from the Batman to Bruce Wayne.
"I took the liberty of lighting the fire in the library, sir, as well as setting out a light supper."
Bruce frowned as he put away the cowl. "I'm not hungry."
"Master Bruce, you barely touched your dinner."
He recognized that tone, the one that said that Alfred wasn't going to back down on this subject, and sighed. "Very well."
There was a satisfied look on Alfred's face that stirred a faint suspicion within him. Alfred was up to something, but he couldn't summon enough energy to pursue that thought any further. Wearily, he made his way up the hidden staircase into the house. Not too much longer, now, and he could take refuge in the dark silence of his bedroom, could bury himself under the covers and maybe sleep through the entire next day. He glanced at the desk, at the papers requiring his attention, then turned away. They, too, could wait for another day.
"Don't I even get a 'hello'?"
The voice, achingly familiar, came from *his* chair by the fireplace, and Bruce turned towards it. "Dick?"
A slender, well-known figure leaned forward, into the light cast by the fire, and blue eyes twinkled at him.
Bruce stared in disbelief, certain that this was a figment of his imagination, an illusion created by his longing. "You *can't* be here. You're stuck in Metropolis. All flights were cancelled because of the storm."
An equally well-known grin made the room suddenly feel ten degrees warmer. "Fortunately, I know someone in Metropolis who isn't grounded by bad weather."
Bruce felt a brief flair of jealousy at the thought of Dick wrapped in Superman's arms, even for something as innocent as a lift home. It hadn't been *that* many years ago that his young ward had had a bad case of hero worship for the Kryptonian. Then Dick was standing up and looking at him in a way that made Bruce's pulse race and banished any thought but 'damn, I'd almost forgotten how beautiful he is'.
"I missed you," Dick said quietly. Before Bruce could say anything, he added quickly, "I know you think it's a stupid kid's crush, but I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past six months, and it's not. I'm not a kid anymore, I don't think you're perfect, and it's not a crush. I won't say anything else, but I just wanted you to know - "
"Dick," Bruce interrupted, then didn't know quite what else to say. Deciding that actions spoke louder than words, he simply opened his arms.
A moment later, those arms were full of a warm young body, pressing up against him while arms wound around his body. Bruce could feel the warmth where they touched him, could feel his body starting to come alive, could feel his heart thawing at the touch of warm lips to his.
"I love you," Dick whispered.
Bruce's arms tightened around the firebrand pressed up so tightly against him, felt his throat tighten as well. He pressed his face against the join between Dick's neck and shoulder and breathed in the warm scent of the younger man, allowing himself to get lost in it. "Come home," he said hoarsely. "Please."
He could swear that he felt Dick's smile vibrate through his body. "You only had to ask."
Bruce decided there had been enough talking and lifted his head to take possession of the mouth so near his own. There was nothing gentle about his kisses, so filled with need and longing, but Dick didn't seem to mind. In fact, he was giving back as much as he was getting, reminding Bruce again that his former ward was all grown up, a man with a man's strength, not to mention desire.
"Bed." His voice sounded ragged to his own ears. "Now."
Dick pressed another kiss against his mouth. "Are you sure? Don't want you to wake up in the morning with a case of the guilts. Maybe we should go down to the Cave and sublimate these urges with a couple - umph!"
Bruce kissed his lover hard, then growled, "If you don't start towards the stairs, I'm going to throw you over my shoulder, carry you upstairs, and *tie* you to the bed."
"Mmm," Dick said, kissing him back enthusiastically. "Sounds interesting, but I don't do bondage on the first date."
"You - " Bruce's voice faltered as his brain nearly short-circuited at the mental image of his young lover's body stretched out and bound to his bed. "Dick?"
Dick laughed and grabbed his hand, dragging him towards the staircase. Somehow - and Bruce was never entirely sure later *exactly* how - they ended up naked and in his bed. Dick's perfect young body was under his, and between kisses, Bruce was mesmerized by the look on Dick's face as he rocked urgently beneath him. His body was so tight, so hot, so *perfect*, and it didn't last nearly long enough, but that was all right because Dick was home.
And this time, Bruce intended to keep him there, in his bed as often as possible, but certainly no further away than the next cableline or rooftop. Forever.