|title: Sea & Sky: A Reality-Based Fairy Tale|
fandom: DC Comics
summary: Domesticity sets in...but it's not all smooth sailing.
notes: Sea & Sky is the brainchild of the amazing and wonderful 'rith and Dannell Lites. it's a phenomenal tour de force, and my offerings don't really do it justice, so. go check it out!!
Garth was, simply, bone tired. It had been a long week of being tossed back and forth between the representatives of the Norwegian government and Arthur as they "discussed" fishing and shipping lanes. He had been away from Dick and Bludhaven for four days and was seriously looking forward to being home again.
His optimism wavered after stepping through the threshold of their apartment. There were two discarded jackets and three discarded sweatshirts that actually smelled fairly rank to Garth's sensitive nose blocking the entrance. Sighing and hanging up the coats, while picking up the sweatshirts, he moved into the apartment. To find that the living room area was equally disastrous. More discarded clothing was scattered about, covering the furniture. There were also books, files, magazines, floppy disks, cds, dvds, and a the contents of a bomb kit strewn over every surface and most of the floor.
Sighing heavily, he gathered up all the laundry, including his own and went to the bedroom. There was tons of laundry in there, none of which was in the neat little laundry basket, sitting all by itself in the corner of the bedroom near the bathroom. The bedroom looked like a bomb had actually gone off in there, making Garth think that the bomb kit had been pulled out too late. The bathroom was even worse. How was it possible for one person to make such a mess in four days?
Trying not to get upset, he gathered all the laundry he could find, which more than filled their basket, and set up the first load. Then, he straightened the bedroom and the living room, realizing that he would need to vacuum both rooms if he were to have any sense of cleanliness. But he would do that after eating a light meal.
Going into the kitchen was, in retrospect, a big mistake. Dishes were pilled to overfilling in the sink in an artfully arranged manner that lacked symmetry or logic, and threatened to topple at any moment. Every surface was spotted with spills, from the counters to the floor. There was a pile of spilled cereal next to the garbage can. Opening the refrigerator, he found it empty with the excepting of an empty milk carton, various spills and stains, a moldy civilization in the fruit section, which may have at one point been strawberries, and a mixer of that awful protein junk Dick drank.
After cleaning out the fridge, going to the grocery store, doing the dishes and two more loads of laundry, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the windows and the mirrors in the bathroom, scrubbing the toilet and the bathtub, and putting away all the clutter in the living room, all of Garth's optimism had vanished.
He sat, quite still, in the living room, watching the door, waiting for Dick to come home from his shift on the force, expecting. He knew that given his mood, and the fact that he had spent ALL DAY cleaning, there was possibly one way in which Dick could walk through that door that would make things better. And about 10 million ways in which he could walk in which would make things worse. The odds were not good, and the fact that he was fantasizing about Dick coming in, being instantly shocked and pleased about all of Garth's labor, and offering to take him out to dinner, wearing those sleek vinyl pants Babs had sent as a joke, did not help.
When Dick did saunter in, 45 minutes late, not that he thought to call to assure Garth that everything was fine, not having thought to call all day to see if Garth had, indeed, gotten home safely as planned, he did not immediately burst forth with shocked and amazed joy at the condition of their home. He did drop his duffel and his jacket on the floor, kicking his sopping dirty shoes across the room, kissed Garth on the cheek, and asked, "What's for dinner? I'm famished. God, what a day!"
He hadn't even stopped walking, really, heading to the bedroom, dropping clothing on the way as he started to change into sweats. Garth fumed, not moving a muscle, clenching his eyes shut so he wouldn't have to look at the mess being made in his immaculate home.
Dick started to get clued in that something was wrong when he walked directly into the kitchen and found himself alone and no dinner to be seen. Wandering with some trepidation back into the living room, he saw Garth, sitting exactly where he had left him, looking very tense.
"Um, Garth, is... everything ok? When we talked last night..."
"Richard." Dick shivered, just exactly as he had when his mother had used that exact tone and inclination of voice saying the same word when he was just a child. No one, not Alfred or even Bruce, had ever managed to replicate that feeling. "Have you any notion how I have spent my day?"
Dick was feeling an inquisition coming on. "Um." Looking around desperately for some clue, he floundered. "Well... I think you did some laundry. Thanks, for that."
Garth's eyes became hard, almost solid looking. "I have done laundry. Dishes. Vacuuming. Scrubbing. Mopping. Can you honestly tell me you don't notice the difference between how things look now and how they looked this morning when you left?"
Dick was seriously trying to look anywhere but at his angry lover. "Um, well, I don't usually notice... but everything looks great, really really great. I'm so sorry I didn't notice but I do appreciate it, really, I do..." Dick moved to kiss Garth, but Garth leapt out of the seat.
"I don't want you to thank me for cleaning. I don't want to clean. Not by myself, at any rate."
Dick was seriously confused. He needed a road map to follow this conversation. "You... want us to clean together from now on?"
Garth shut his eyes, desperately reigning in his temper, running through eight different mantras for calm and serenity, before responding. "No, that isn't why I'm mad."
"You're mad at me?" Dick looked and sounded precisely like a wounded puppy. His big blue eyes set at such an adorable width, they threatened to melt Garth from the inside. He turned away from Dick.
"Yes, I am mad. It has been a stressful week, something you appeared to understand last night on the phone, and this afternoon, after traveling all morning to get here, I find our home in a state of uncleanliness that would merit a health code violation. I have cleaned all day long, and when you came home, all you said was. `What's for dinner?'"
"I... I'm sorry! Really! I'll... I'll try to help out more, notice more what you do here..."
"What I do here?! DO here?!"
"I don't know what is for dinner, Richard. I suppose that you will have to figure that out for yourself."
Dick watched Garth storm into the bathroom, befuddled.
Dick slunk into the bedroom, and if he had a tail it would have been between his legs. Garth was sitting up on the bed, reading. Dick enjoyed watching Garth with the book, his fingers running up and down the pages as he focused on the words. Once, a long time ago, Garth had told him that books fascinated him because they were so dry.
Sitting down on his side of the bed lightly, Dick tried to form the phrase that Garth would react to positively. Finally, he settled with "I'm sorry you've had such a lousy day. Let me give you a massage, those always make you feel better."
"No." And Garth hadn't even looked up from the page, though he was scowling so deeply, he clearly couldn't have been reading.
"But, you've been negotiating all week and cleaning up after your filthy ungrateful lover all day. You need some tension released." Dick tried to keep his tone light and reasonable, and keep the desperate pleading in check.
"No. Massages from you these days always lead to sex."
Dick's heart sank at the steel in Garth's voice. "And... that's bad?" This time, the pleading slipped in.
"Sex is good. Our sex is phenomenal. And while I deserve phenomenal sex, you do not."
"Oh." Clearly, another tactic was called for. "Garth? Can we talk? I want to apologize... I want to make things better."
Garth put the book aside and rubbed his hands over his face. "You don't even know why I'm so upset, do you?"
Dick hated conversations that started like this with his whole heart and soul. "Well. I know that the apartment was a disaster and you had to clean and I didn't notice."
"I clean. You don't. I cook. You don't. I stay home nights while you go out and protect the city. I am becoming domesticated. I don't want to be the domestic partner. I want to be your partner, your equal. Perhaps I can't, really, but..."
"Garth!" Dick could see now so clearly what should have been obvious all along. "I don't expect you to clean, or cook, or wait up for me, or any of those `domestic' things. I lived without anyone doing those things just fine. If the apartment is a mess, you have to understand, it's because I've always lived without picking up after myself. When I was a kid, my parents and I lived in a trailer just about the length of this bedroom and much narrower. We didn't have things, really, we ate in the tents, or outside, we did laundry as a group, the whole circus. I didn't have to be clean because there wasn't anything to keep clean, except our costumes which never came out except for performances and dress rehearsals anyway." Dick moved closer to Garth and put his arm around Garth's waist, and put his head on Garth's shoulder, hoping it wouldn't be shrugged off. Garth settled himself next to Dick, putting his arm around Dick's shoulder.
Dick continued. "At the Manor, Alfred did everything, and it wasn't so much that I was a slob and he took care of me, as it was that he was so super-efficient and had my clothes in the wash before they hit the floor, the dishes done before they were quite licked clean." Garth giggled, just a little. Dick smiled, some of the stomach-churning fear melting away at the sound. "I used to do that, until I completed the Alfred Pennyworth Course in Proper Dining Etiquette. The hardest class I ever took."
"Poor baby!" Garth murmured. Dick smiled.
"And after that... well, there was always either someone who cleaned up after me without comment, or I was on my own, and seriously? I never see messes. It's like I have some truly bizarre vision problem that caused me not to be able to see a pile of dirty dishes or clothes or whatever."
Garth sighed. "Perhaps I'm being too sensitive. But underwater, everything appears clean. So, I too have never had to worry much about cleaning. And yet, I cannot bear the filth. Do you have any idea what was living behind the toilet?"
Now Dick sighed. "No. Honestly? No. And you aren't being sensitive. I don't want you to feel `domestic.' I wish I could tell you that I can try harder or that I would help out more... I'm not likely to change habits that started when I was born. And, to tell you the truth, I have been trying harder ever since you came to stay."
Garth pulled up and back, arching his eyebrows. "Trying to do what, exactly, form a new intelligent society through mildew?"
Dick smiled, rueful. "I have been trying. Really."
"The dishes were piled a foot above the sink!"
"But they were in the sink. Not on the counter, the table, or the floor."
"In my Gotham apartment, there was this rat, really old and fat, and gimpy, and I left plates on the floor sometimes so he could eat."
"Was he cute?"
"God, no. He was missing one leg, and he had all these sores that left trails of pus everywhere."
"Then why did you feed the thing?"
"Well, he was too fat to find food..."
Garth shook his head, closed his eyes, and decided. "You may give me a massage. On one condition." Dick looked up hopefully, with trepidation. "We get a cleaning service to come in once a week."
Dick moved up to sit eye to eye with Garth. "I'll call Barbara in the morning. And Garth? We aren't equals, but that's only because you are so much better a man than me. But I intend to spend years, decades, if necessary, studying everything about you so that I can learn."
Garth just shook his head, involuntarily, too amused and caught in the moment to respond. They kissed, slow and naturally, before Dick pulled Garth's shirt off, and pushed him face down on the bed. Garth shimmied out of his pants, causing Dick to shiver in anticipation. Dick shucked his own clothes off, then caught himself, picked up all the clothes, and put them in a pile on the chair. Garth snickered.
Then, Dick got the oil, and came back, straddling Garth. He poured the oil onto Garth's back, not concerning himself with warming it as his lover was well-used to chill waters and therefore enjoyed the shock of cold. He worked the shoulders first, digging his fingers in as deeply as he could. He didn't have to be careful, didn't have to worry about too much pressure, he wasn't strong enough to put too much pressure on Garth. The body beneath him was sleek, and elegant, lithe, but it wasn't delicate, or fragile. He dug his fingers in, releasing boatloads of tension, then moved down Garth's arms. Taking each hand into his own, he kneaded the palms, and kissed the fingers, then moved back up each arm. Then, he moved down the spine, running the heel of his palm up and down the spine. Garth arched up and made some eloquent moaning noise, before burying his face into the pillow. Dick kneaded the flanks a bit, but he didn't want to linger on such a responsive area. He skipped the round bottom entirely, for the moment and regarded the slim and powerful legs.
He had to center himself for a moment, he loved these legs so much. He started at the feet, mostly because he loved massaging feet so much. Garth's feet were long, very long and very slim. The narrow feet ending with long toes, also narrow. They were, actually, when viewed separately from the rest of the body, almost freakishly long. But they were so perfectly in keeping with the long, sweeping lines of his lover's body, and the toes were useful for griping, the feet for paddling in the water. It struck him, all the time, how perfectly designed Garth was, how well-adapted to his cause and environment. How incredibly sexy.
Garth's feet weren't as sensitive as a human's foot was, they were muscular and finely boned, but there weren't as many nerve endings there. Still, Dick pushed his thumbs down the lines of bone and muscle, relaxing them. Then, he moved up to the calves and the bundle of nerves that was there, the bundle that controlled the feet. The bundle that always turned Garth to goo. He dug his thumbs in there with all his strength and was rewarded by a writhing and incoherently mumbling Garth bucking and thrashing on the bed. Dick grinned. Making Garth incoherent was not easy.
He made quick work of the thighs, and then got to his favorite part. His favorite part in the middle region of this side of the Garth's body. He kneaded the bottom, rolling it in his hands, before bending down and kissing, licking, biting lightly, and just plain going to town on Garth's ass. Garth mumbled appreciatively.
Separating Garth's legs, slowly, he dipped lower and deeper, until he was kissing Garth's entrance. Garth was making a noise that was one part humming and one part screaming, as Dick licked and kissed and poked his tongue in...
Finding himself and his lover both impossibly hard and needing, he moved his hands to Garth's flank, kneading in, and drew himself up to kiss Garth. They kissed loudly and deeply for a minute, then Dick pulled back, finding himself humping Garth's ass lightly. "How do you want it, you want to be on top?" Dick was breathless and brainless, but he wasn't going to go on without asking.
Garth was barely able to form words, and forming words in English took a second of thought, but he did. "In me, now, in, please..."
They kissed again, before Dick took the oil and pushed his fingers in Garth. Garth bucked and moaned, pulling his knees up to rest on them and put his forehead on the bed, pushing the pillows aside. Dick covered his cock with the oil, kissing Garth's spine. They had developed a language for sex, and when Garth pushed his ass up, taking Dick's fingers into him up to the knuckle, Dick moved back and got into position.
There was that moment right before he pushed in that every previous experience, every kiss and meaningful look and brushing of hands while running and watching Garth come out of the shower or pool naked would come back to him, and the enormity of what he was about to do would overwhelm him. Fortunately for Garth, Dick was taught to leap into fear head first when he just a child on the tight ropes, to savor the fear and use it as fuel. Dick moved forward, and they both cried out with the shock and joy of the penetration.
Dick leaned down, putting his mouth on Garth's neck and pushed his hips forward. He circled Garth with his arms, putting his hand on Garth's penis, circling and clutching. He knew that Garth would set the pace, Garth's body would undulate back and forth between Dick's cock and Dick's hands. Dick moved slowly, trying not to break the rhythm, trying to keep up at the same time.
When they climaxed, Dick coming only moments after Garth, they fell to the bed, sweaty and spent and nearly unconscious. After a few moments, they pulled themselves off each other enough to settle into a comfortable position for less energetic activity.
Kissing, they settled into a tight embrace they could sleep in. "Oh, Robbie?" Garth was impressed he was able to speak at this point.
"I put one of your videos in this afternoon. It featured a great cleaning service. The young men were very... thorough."
Dick paused, thinking what Garth could possibly be talking about, then thinking of the appropriate response. "If anyone is going to vacuum naked in this apartment, it is going to be me. Is that understood?"
"Promises, promises..." Garth chuckled, and Dick cuddled closer, getting into a sleep position. "Um, Robbie?"
"We should probably clean up first..."
Dick sighed. "Oh, my prince, you are going to have to accept that there are times when being dirty isn't so bad."
Garth laughed his own soft, musical laugh that warmed Dick's soul. "I don't believe that I am your prince..."
"My Prince Charming." Dick was mumbling softly into Garth's neck.
"Prince Charming? Isn't he the character in the fairy tales that saves the damsel in distress? There is something wrong with that comparison. For one, I don't remember saving you."
"Silly prince. You saved me from myself."
Dick was half asleep, but Garth knew from Dick's tone and timber that he was entirely serious. It took a moment for him to compose himself enough to respond with the requisite amount of joviality, "Well, you still make a poor excuse for a damsel in distress."
Dick shifted, pushing one leg even further between Garth's legs. "Modern update to an old classic."
Garth let it set at that, holding and caressing Dick in his arms, sending up a silent blessing for this moment, and all the moments before, and all the moments to come, his wet eyes closed to hold in the tears.
He remembered, just as he was falling asleep, that he had left a load of clothes in the washer, but found himself unable to care.