Disclaimer: Don't own the characters. I merely take advantage of my God-like writer's power to mess with their heads - and yours!
Warning: Not your usual Dick/Babs story.
Location: Hornetverse - Just after Sweet Sixteen
Rate this one R for underage - even if it is only in exposition. Also - a few bad words.
Tim is down in the cave cranking on his bike when I come in. From the bangs and clicks, he isn't happy. Wouldn't bother me much - kids can be moody - except he was pissy the last time I saw him too. That would make it...three days. Over long for your standard sulk. So..
"Nah, Dick." He doesn't look up. " I guess not."
Wrong answer. "You guess not?" I put some edge in it, "Bullshit, bro. Last time I saw you you owned the world. One week later and you're taking it out on inanimate objects." I give the past week a thought. Nothing major I caught. " You still pissed at Bruce and me over the birthday bit?"
I didn't think that was it, but..
"No. You guys were great. Really. Especially since I know Bruce doesn't much care for Mr. Gardner."
Understatement there. Though I expect Tim's happiness helped mend things a bit. Bruce is not the forgiving type, but he does love his kids.
"Still, he he was so cool about everything. I mean, coming to the party, and not yelling at GA, and beaming out the Redbird so all my friends could see it, and......"
I get the idea. "So what's with the long face? And don't give me 'nothing'. "
"Well" He hesitates, uncertain.
"After the party..." He stops, then. "After you left.... Cissie and me - we went riding... and" He stops again, but I just wait. "And we were Cissie...well, she....kissed.." This time he stops dead.
"That's nice." Which sounded dumb, I admit - but exactly what are you supposed to say?
"No. I mean... she ....like...kissed.." One hand to his groin. A universal gesture.
"Oh." My first thought was 'watch out for mom', but that was...irrelevant. "Well." This is the time when I wonder why people have kids. "I'd say congratulations, but you don't seem exactly happy, so.... what gives?"
"Well" He gives it some thought. "Its just that... I like Cissie. And I like Cissie... but... sometimes.....I sort of think I love Secret ...and..." Not Shakespeare, but I get the point. Time for a bit of brotherly advice.
"Kiss them both." I answer. "You'll figure it our real fast."
"But that's part of my problem." He looks up, miserable. "Secret.... she's...well..."
"Oh yeh," I remember. "Intangible. I can see that would be a problem." I give it some thought. "So, your basic problem is your body's never been happier, and your heart feels like crap."
"Shit." I answer. "I know how you feel."
"What?" That brings him to his feet. "I though you...Well.... you and Bruce.."
"From the first? I wish." I shake my head. "No, I managed to screw that one up big time."
Tim looks at me like I'd kicked him.
"Christ, when did you start then. I mean, if you were with Bruce when you were my age, then...."
"Whoa. baby-bird." I interrupt "First, I was not with Bruce when I was your age. At least not exactly."
"But I thought.."
"My sixteenth birthday was the first time we ever kissed - by which I mean just kissed. On the lips."
He stares like he had never heard of the custom.
"Tim." I wonder how I should put this. "There is a lot to be said for respect, and self control, and waiting to be certain of your feelings. And if Bruce hasn't given you that talk then I very much will."
"I've heard it." He considers for a bit. "So then you..." Another pause. "Kory? All those years and you never...?" Another universal gesture.
"No,"I confess . "Not Kory." Christ I really do not want to get into this, but.. "Siddown, kid, and I'll tell you the whole sordid story. There's a moral lesson in there somewhere. I hope. Ghod knows I don't want you to fuck up your life the way I did."
I wait until he drops to the couch, then join him. "It wasn't Bruce. And it wasn't Kory. Although either would have been a smarter choice." I hesitate, but I know I'm committed now. "It was Barbara Gordon."
"Babs?!" From his face, he wouldn't have been more shocked if I'd said Poison Ivy.
"That's the bit about the Ferrari - which you'll notice is still in mint condition upstairs."
"I thought you kept it because it brought back memories?"
"Yeh. Lousy ones."
How the hell could I explain? Just try, I guess. "We'd done my birthday party at lunch. Just me, Alfred and Bruce. Lunch at this 'really rad' restaurant, and afterwards the car."
I think back.
"I remember how I felt. Love at first sight. I couldn't wait to get behind the wheel. Bruce laughed as he threw me the keys, and he took the passenger seat, and I just drove around all afternoon. Not going fast. Just enjoying the company and the road, and feeling so together. So at peace. And then....."
"Bruce had to go home. Big corporate thing that night, which is why we did lunch. I dropped him off at the office and went cruising. I just couldn't bear for the day to end. But it wasn't the same without.... company. So I called Barbara. Asked her if she wanted to see my car. I wasn't thinking about... Hell. I wasn't thinking - period."
"I picked her up, and we got some burgers, and we drove on up to Mount Addams. Not to go there, really. Just for the drive and the radio and the wind. It was spring, and I had the top down, and it was.... the world was perfect."
I pause, remembering how...infinite... I had felt.
"It was dark by the time we reached Lookout Point. I pulled up to the edge and we just... enjoyed the view. Then she.. kissed me. And It felt good, and I was happy, so I kissed her back. And one thing lead to another, and..... You know the drill."
I pause, remembering how...hollow...I had felt.
"And then... I drove her home. And somehow that wasn't as much fun. And I didn't know why. I mean I knew I should be thrilled. I mean, this is supposed to be the most important day of my life. And the sex was great. It just wasn't... great. And I didn't know why."
"I got home, and I parked the car, and I walked inside, and Bruce was ... there. Not waiting up for me or anything, just there. Sitting on the couch. Doing some business thing like he always does. And he looked at me. And he knew. Don't ask me how. He just did. And he didn't say anything, but his eyes.... hurt. And that's when I knew..."
I stop. Some things have no words.
Tim hugs my shoulder, comforting. "He forgave you."
"What's to forgive?" I shrug. " We had never talked about sex. Well, I mean, of course we had talked about it. Standard Bat lecture number two. Take notes because there will be a quiz. But we hadn't so much as hinted at us."
"I had a pretty good idea about me - but Bruce?" I grimace at my youthful denseness. "I had no idea he felt... interested. I mean, I knew he had had... some men friends... but when I thought of the competition? I was pretty sure I'd be batting zero. No pun intended."
"So how did you...?"
"That's the really humiliating part."
I give Tim another quick hug and sit back.
"Mean Dick Grayson, scourge of criminals everywhere.... I ran up to my room, threw myself on my bed, and burst into tears. Real macho, right?"
Tim had the courtesy not to answer.
"Bruce came in, and he sat down , and he said "Do you want to talk about it?" Which, I acknowledge, is probably the second stupidest question on planet earth.
"And I said... 'Not really'. And then I thought about that and said. 'But I think I should.' So I told him.....everything. What I did. What I felt. What I felt I should feel. And he .... listened. And then....he kissed me."
This was the important part. I look Tim straight in the eye.
"That is why I said you would know the difference. You really will."
He thought about that. I think he believed me.
"Bruce had a word with her. Told her to leave me alone, I was underage."
"No." That was another thing I had to make really clear to Tim. "Bruce meant it. He told me the same thing. Gave me the speech I just gave you about patience, and respect, and being certain."
"And you...didn't..not for...?"
"Not exactly." I didn't want to lose his respect with a lie. "But let's say I learned how very slowly six months can pass." I grin at him. "Still, patience is a virtue."
"And Babs just..... gave up?"
"I though she did. She was very mature about it. Agreed that we could still work together and still be friends. Only when Bruce and I ... broke up... well...."
"The alpha and omega of adolescent angst." Plus a lot more with which I do not need to burden Tim.
"And it's not a problem with.....?" Tim sticks his fingers up to make bat-ears.
I chuckle. "One thing I'll say for Bruce. He's a very good winner."
"I'm mature enough to forgive myself. I did something dumb, but I wasn't the first person to screw up that way, and it wasn't the end of the world. Ghod knows I've made a lot worse mistakes since then. Personal and otherwise."
"But bro. I never again drove the car."