Sea and Sky:

Bruises Under Water

by Chastity Daze

Yay! It's my first fic post here. :) I don't know how many of you have read Kerithwyn and Dannell's Dick/Garth fics, the "Sea and Sky" series, but you should. :) This story is set in that universe, right after "Sea and Sky VIII."

Summary: Dick continues his self-delusions after breaking it off with Garth.

Thanks: Major thanks to Kerithwyn and Dannell for allowing me to dabble in their "Sea and Sky" universe. Go read the stories at http://www.offpanel.net/kerithwyn before you read this one, because it's set immediately after "Sea and Sky VIII: Bitter Waters" and will probably not make one iota of sense otherwise. Thanks also to Siesta for beta and for the great title.

Disclaimer: The characters belong to DC. The "Sea and Sky" fic idea belongs to Kerithwyn and Dannell. The story is mine.

Feeback: Please. And ask before archiving.

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Drained mentally and physically, Dick leaned against the cold wall of his apartment's shower, trying to summon the motivation to reach down and turn on the water. He told himself that he had only overdone it a little earlier that night, that his apathy was due to the difficult bust of a heroin ring that he had been tracking for weeks and the horrors he had encountered that night.

He was lying to himself.

The drug ring had been unsettling, but they always were. This one had been no different than the many he had broken up before. The suppliers had been no more malicious, the users no less victims than usual. He would have a few bruises, as always, but nothing had been broken or dislocated. In fact, compared to previous encounters with villains such as Trigon and Two-Face, patrol in Blüdhaven was generally more of an extremely good workout than a life-threatening battle. This night’s patrol had been no different than most.

Dick turned the faucet on and recoiled in shock, skidding away from the boiling water and catching himself on the shower door. His skin was red and tingling from the brief spray. He reached forward gingerly, angling his body around the steaming flow in an attempt to avoid it, and twisted the faucet to the right.

The steam diminished quickly and Dick slid under the water again, only to shrink back as goosebumps popped out all over his body. He shook his head in annoyance, wondering why he was having so much trouble with such a simple task. As soon as the question formed in his mind, he knew the answer.

Garth usually ran the shower.

Dick remembered once, early in his relationship with Garth, swinging into his open apartment window only to discover a figure, framed by light, stepping out of the doorway of the bathroom. Only in the moment before he bowled the unknown intruder over had he recognized the face.

"Garth!" Dick yelped, twisting away and catching himself on the doorjamb. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "Is something wrong with the Titans? Am I needed?" Even as the words left his mouth, his question was answered as he heard the soft fall of water behind him and his brain registered that the Atlantean before him had just stepped out of a rejuvenating shower.

Water droplets glistened on Garth's lean, naked frame as he moved closer and replied, "No, nothing like that. I just decided to stop by and surprise you." The corners of his mouth quirked upward as he asked, "Are you pleased to see me?"

Dick's eyes darkened intently as he grabbed the slippery wet body before him and replied without words.

After that, Dick had started looking forward eagerly to the occasional nights Garth spent in the 'Haven and the pleasant routine they had created for their time together. Sometimes, when Dick returned from patrol, Garth would be there, waiting for the roughly treated hero with a gentle smile and loving eyes. The liquid sounds of the Atlantean language would flow over Dick, relaxing him, unknotting tense muscles as Garth's hands moved slowly over his body, peeling off his uniform as they moved through the apartment. The one time Dick had asked Garth what he was saying, Garth had smiled and kissed him gently. "I give thanks," he replied simply.

By the time they reached the bathroom, Nightwing would have disappeared for another day and Dick Grayson would be wrapping himself around his lover as they moved under the showerhead. On the rare occasions when patrol had been particularly rough, Garth would wash Dick gently, then slide him bonelessly under the covers for a soothing rest. Most times, however, the shower was merely a prelude to the rest of the night together.

Dick pulled himself out of the reverie sharply. *It's better like this,* he told himself. *I was becoming too-- Garth was becoming too attached, too dependent. I can't let - he shouldn't get too close. I don't want to lose him as a friend.* He reached down and shut off the water decisively.

*Maybe I'll just wash my face. Patrol really tired me out tonight.*



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