Sea and Sky:
The Caramel Ice-Cream Alternative
Title : The Caramel Ice-cream Alternative
Rating : PG
Disclaimer : No money, don't sue, and they're rith's anyway. Get your own, canon boys!
Summary : There are alternatives to overwork.
Feedback : Cherished, for good or ill. Talk to me, people, or you don't get any ice cream!
Garth came out of the bedroom to find Dick standing in the middle of the kitchen in his Bludhaven P.D. uniform. He was perfectly still, looking into an open cabinet as if it were the locker in Men In Black II, with multitudes on the other side of the door.
Garth wished he and Dick had actually had time for things like 'movie nights' at Roy's place in the past few weeks. They were never boring. Lian had been very disappointed with him when he'd admitted he didn't know any magic that could put a world in her bedroom closet, with or without ponies. She'd forgiven him when he froze her Dad's shirt to his chair when Roy came to make her go to bed.
Garth leaned on his elbows on the counter top, and watched Dick ponder the cabinet's interior as if the Sugar Loops and rigatoni were spelling out intricate plans for world peace and utopian justice. Possibly in an obscure Asian dialect, in haiku.
"Robbie?" His lover wasn't an easy person to startle but he got a blink, then sudden reanimation.
"Hmm?" Dick poked at a can of tomato paste, but didn't pick it up.
"If you're hungry, the last of the stew Alfred sent is still in the freezer." He watched Dick pull out a packet of spaghettini, look at it a moment, seem to suddenly wonder why he was holding it, and put it back on the wrong shelf.
"Richard. Close the cabinet."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, sorry." Dick closed it, then looked around to see what he'd been doing while absently leaving it open.
Garth waited until the search came up empty, and Dick's eyes returned to the closed cabinet door in some confusion, to come around the counter and hug him.
That was something Dick could manage even on autopilot. He wrapped himself around Garth's body and had his forehead tucked against Garth's neck before Garth even got his arms around him properly.
After a long minute in which he wasn't entirely sure Dick hadn't fallen asleep, he prompted quietly, "What were you looking for in the cabinet?"
"Oh. Umm." Dick sniffed and raised his head, shaking it a little. "Dinner. I thought you'd've eaten by now."
"I have. Why haven't you? It's almost ten."
"Rohrback and I decided to skip it. We were both hoping to get home before midnight."
"Well, go take a shower, and I'll heat up Alfred's stew. Please tell me you have afternoon shift tomorrow."
"I wish." He kissed Garth, briefly but with studied thoroughness, then let go. He started peeling out of his uniform on his way across the living room, even while asking, "You really don't mind?"
Garth watched the shirts and slacks and shoes drop, to lie where they fell across the carpet and furniture, and the naked backside disappearing -- actually weaving slightly -- into the bathroom. He shook his head, and smiled to himself, and grabbed the stew out of the refrigerator, and told the empty, cluttered, room, "I really don't mind."
Dick came out of the shower a good bit more awake, toweling his hair and smiling gratefully at the food. Literally at it, as he slung himself into a chair and began to inhale it. Garth watched the steaming vegetables disappear at a rate science would find difficult to explain, and decided he would consider the appreciation for his assistance implied.
Then he stopped musing, and frowned, and came to stand beside the table. "You have got to be joking."
Garth knew by the diligent attention Dick paid to getting his next mouthful in before the first was gone that he did have reason to be upset. He popped the waistband on the back of Dick's shorts. The shorts he wore under his costume.
"I know you're not out of underwear. I did your laundry two days ago."
"Yeah, thanks for that, by the way." He slurped the dregs from the bowl and started to stand up. "I--"
Garth sat in the chair beside him, and Dick reflexively reversed motion, settling back down politely. He also almost dropped the bowl.
"You are not going on patrol tonight." It wasn't a command, but it wasn't exactly a question, either. "You were trying to get the secrets of the universe from the Sugar Loops twenty minutes ago. How do you expect to accomplish anything like this?"
"I-- What?" Garth felt only slightly guilty at Dick's look of blank confusion. He wouldn't be remembering if Garth had said it out loud, before. "It's not patrol. I just need to check on something. I'll still be able to catch a couple of hours' sleep."
"You haven't had more than that in--" Garth stopped, not liking his own tone of voice. He was nagging. He bit his lip and turned away as Dick said something meaningless and reassuring. Or was he? He stood up, and watched the momentary lag as Dick adjusted to look up at him.
No. This didn't count as nagging.
"I'm coming with you."
"Garth..." The slightly patronising but well-meaning tone faded into the beginning of poorly covered exasperation. "I don't-- I'd appreciate it, if this weren't--" Richard Grayson, too tired for diplomacy. "That won't actually help, you know."
Of course Garth knew that. He didn't have the agility on land to do anything but slow Dick down. Possibly make him more careful, out of worry for his non-street smart, foreign, still occasionally clueless-about-cities, boyfriend. Neither of those things ran counter to Garth's purposes, tonight.
Dick's brief argument ended in irritable muttering somewhere between, "You are not!" and "Fine, be like that!" as he went off to suit up.
What he found when he came back into the living room finally settled his vague grumbling and actually got his eyes all the way open..
Garth had on the red and black costume, and had the lights shut off. All human eyes could see of his body were the bits molded by crimson fabric. His face was intent, caught by the dim glow from the hallway, and he was studying his own hands.
There was a carton of ice-cream on the counter. Garth was very precisely fishing out the dark ribbon from the vanilla, then bringing his finger to his mouth. He sucked each bite from the tip, before tracing after the drips with his tongue.
Dick watched the process repeated half a dozen times before Garth looked up, finger in his mouth, dark eyes a study in concentrated enjoyment.
He slipped his finger from his mouth and said, "I wish you'd let me offer you an alternative to work, tonight."
Dick watched his lips move. There was a fleck of vanilla on the bottom one. Garth's tongue came out to capture it and Dick murmured, "Alternative..."
Garth's face changed suddenly. Still intent, the worry still showing in the crease of his forehead, but with something like soft amusement changing the lines. He got another bite of ice-cream, and looked at it for a moment, before casting his eyes back to Dick's.
It was melting. A slim ribbon of vanilla dribbled slowly, down and across the backs of his knuckles.
Garth made a slight gesture, and Dick's tongue caught the drip before it could fall to the counter top.
He chased the melting ice-cream upwards, then took the bite from Garth's fingertip. Then he looked up at Garth. "Caramel."
Garth licked his lip again, but there was no ice-cream on it. So he leaned forward to lick Dick's lip, where there was a trace, and made a pleased sound.
Dick came over the counter top with the slight effort of a one-handed vault. Garth got another finger's worth of ice-cream, trying not to meet Dick's eyes, so he could gather his voice from somewhere.
"You accept my alternative, then?"
Dick's mouth, first on his finger, then on his mouth, then on other places as they abandoned the living room with the cold carton squashed between them, was the only answer.
Dick was asleep, still half in his costume, before the ice-cream got anywhere really interesting. Garth cast a quick spell to dampen his shirt, which hadn't made it off the bed, and wiped the sticky liquid from his own chest. Then, carefully, from Dick's cheek.
Dick made an unintelligible sound and turned his head, burrowing deeper into the pillow of Garth's chest, and into sleep. Smearing caramel across his other cheek, and his chin, and his forehead, and into his hair.
Garth managed not to laugh by the simple expedient of refusing to breath for a solid minute, and eventually closed his eyes to begin quieting his own body for sleep. Messy sheets and delayed gratification didn't matter, any more than the carton of ice-cream melting on the bedside table.
He slipped his arm across the living warmth of Dick's shoulders, and smiled in the darkness as he fell asleep.