Sea and Sky:

Downshift

by 'rith and Smitty


Archive: Ask first, please.
Fandom: Modern comicsverse. Sea and Sky series. The previous parts can be found at http://www.offpanel.net/kerithwyn/. Takes place a few weeks after "Debut," the reception fic.
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What I have done with them is mine.
Notation: Mostly written 2-3 years ago, pulled out and finished up with Smitty's help. She says it's 85% 'rith, 15% Smitty. But I think she did considerably more than that. ;)
Rating: Use your own judgment. Explicit m/m sex.



They'd arranged to meet for dinner, Garth on his way back from New York by train and Dick coming up from 'Haven on his bike. Garth had gotten there first, since paperwork had kept Dick tied to his desk at the police station until late. He'd just settled in to wait when the voice came from behind him.

"Is this seat taken?"

The place was far from crowded, and Garth turned with amusement to the blonde, smartly dressed woman who'd approached him. "Not yet. I'm waiting for someone."

She slid smoothly into the second chair. "Well, maybe I can keep you entertained until she gets here."

He laughed. "Certainly. And it's 'he.'"

"Drinking buddy?" she asked, looking hopeful.

"My partner," Garth said, and hid a smile at her groan.

"I don't suppose you mean like a cop partner?" He shook his head and she sighed, resigned. "Of course. 'Married or gay,' I swear, it's inevitable...."

He offered a sympathetic smile, which she waved off. "No, it's just my luck. I was supposed to meet a friend, but she canceled at the last minute. And I didn't feel like another night of microwave popcorn and sitcoms...."

Her name, she said, was Dana, and she was a lawyer with a small firm in Gotham. "Environmental lobby," she added, which immediately got his attention. His own work with the U.N. naturally included so-called "green" issues, and he was still learning about the politics involved.

But he was here in 'disguise' by means of a minor illusion, partly for practice and partly out of practicality. His facial tattoos and his eyes attracted too much attention in light of the recent media frenzy, and sometimes it was simply easier to become anonymous. But he could still discuss the issues in general terms without mentioning the Atlantean embassy, and she had some intriguing insights about certain prospective laws winding their way through the American legislative system.

It was an interesting conversation, the thread of which he completely lost when Dick came in. Words were meaningless compared to the way Dick slung his jacket over his shoulders with casual grace and the grin that spread across his face when he spotted Garth.

Dana followed his gaze and smiled. "Well," she said, getting up, "it was nice to meet you."

He barely remembered his manners to stand as she left, watching Dick approach.

***

The blonde woman smiled at him as she got up from Garth's table. Another disillusioned would-be suitor, Dick thought, smiling back. At least she seemed to take it with good grace. Even in disguise, Garth drew attention...and most of the time, he was still oblivious to it. A holdover from the old days, when he felt inept on land and unwanted undersea.

These days, he was far more likely to stop traffic. But there was no convincing Garth of that. Dick had tried. Often.

"Hey. Been waiting long?"

"Not long," Garth said, though Dick was sure he'd have said the same if he'd been here for hours. "How was work?"

"Okay," Dick replied, which was also his standard answer. He caught the skepticism on Garth's face and amended, "Better, anyway. Arnot's little stunt headed off the worst of it. I hate the idea of owing him anything, but it has made life easier."

"You said yourself, he has his own agenda. Keeping you safe, and therefore keeping Bruce out of Bludhaven, suits his purposes." Garth paused and added, "And if he thinks he's won you to his side, you may be able to gather information about his activities to suit *your* purposes."

Dick blinked. "That's devious. Your work's having an effect on you--I think I like it."

"That's a first, I think, for politics doing anyone any good," Garth said dryly.

He laughed. "Maybe you'll revolutionize the system."

The waitress chose that moment to interrupt. "What can I get for you gentlemen?"

Dick ordered a steak, feeling faintly guilty. Garth just shook his head after she had gone. "I never asked you to give up eating meat, Robbie. It doesn't bother me, really. Besides, your body needs the protein."

"I can think of other ways to get protein," Dick said slyly, and was gratified to see color rush into Garth's face. "Ha! Got you."

Garth smiled, looking not at all displeased. "You did. I'll be sure to take you up on the offer...later."

"Counting on it," Dick said cheerfully, then looked around. "Hey, your friend left. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude--should we have invited her to stay?"

"I think she realized I wanted you all to myself."

"Yeah? You sure?" Dick teased. "She *was* awfully attractive."

"Dick...."

"She WANTED you."

Garth leaned back in his chair and smiled. "Well, if you really think so. Dana gave me her card. I could call her...."

"Forget it, lover. I don't share."

"Then don't tempt me."

Dick laughed, but something at the back of his mind refused to let is pass completely as a joke. He knew Garth was only teasing, because Garth knew how sensitive Dick was to the issue of monogamy. But the fact remained that *Garth* wasn't necessarily as opposed to the idea of...sharing...as he was. Atlantean social mores were just different that way. Dick understood that intellectually, and he'd accepted it as an interesting-but-irrelevant fact since Garth had told him that he was perfectly happy being exclusive.

Kory, he remembered, had done the same thing. And no matter how often they'd both reassured him, he still occasionally felt a thin twinge of doubt. *Had* he been unfair, to ask Kory and now Garth to abide by his rules rather than their own?

The damnedest thing was, even if it was unfair on some level, he couldn't change it. He simply couldn't accept things being otherwise. You would think, Dick thought wryly, he'd be more accommodating, given his circus upbringing and the aversion to narrow-mindedness both his parents and Bruce had instilled in him. But on this issue, he found himself completely unable to keep an open mind.

"Dick...?" Garth inquired softly to his mute contemplation, and he smiled ruefully.

"Just thinking. I know what you'll say to this, but I can't shake the idea that I'm limiting you, somehow. " Dick chewed on his lip for a moment. "That if I were more...flexible to the idea, then you'd be interested in seeing other people."

Garth smiled. "If you were any more flexible, I don't know I'd survive it. And, no. I wouldn't."

"But--"

"Robbie, I don't want anyone else." His voice was quiet but intense. "Don't think you're denying me anything. Monogamy *is* the majority lifestyle throughout Atlantis, it's only that there's little prejudice against other choices. If it makes you feel better, Tula and I didn't have other partners."

"Wait, but didn't you say something about Tula once, she, um...wanted to watch us?"

"Mm-hm."

"And she-- you-- would have been okay with that?"

"*I* certainly had no objection to the idea. If I hadn't been so...unsure of myself, she probably would have approached you." Garth grinned. "We both agreed you would have been an exception to the rule."

Dick sputtered, torn between embarrassment and laughter. "I think I'm glad I didn't know this then."

"Isn't there...isn't there a joke about that? Lovers having a list of acceptable 'others'?"

"Sounds vaguely familiar..." Dick said cautiously.

"That's how it was, then. You were on my hypothetical list. Tula..." he paused a moment, as if he was trying to decide whether or not to reveal a confidence. "Tula picked Donna."

The hits, Dick thought with dazed astonishment, just kept coming. "Does *she* know that?!"

Garth shrugged. "I'm not sure if Tula ever talked to her about it. I don't think so. Donna's never said anything to me. But the point is, everyone decides what's right for them." He dropped his eyes to the table for a moment, then looked back up to catch Dick's gaze. "You're right for me."

Dick smiled and then sighed. "I hate to feel so possessive, but I can't wrap my head around the idea."

"I like possessive," Garth said softly. "It makes me feel...wanted."

"Oh, man, if I wanted you any more I'd hurt myself. Maybe we should--" he glanced around and saw the waitress heading over with their drinks. "Damn. It'd be way too tacky to cut out now, wouldn't it."

"I think so. And you need to keep your strength up, remember?"

"For when you ravage me later, yep." Dick finished just before the waitress ("Call me Cindy") reached the table.

After she'd left again, Garth let out a long breath. "Ow."

Dick glanced at him, concerned, then got it and started to laugh. "Good thing we're not going anywhere for awhile, huh."

"Very," Garth replied in a slightly strangled tone. Dick just laughed harder. He was...comfortably aroused, for lack of a better term. His pants were a little snug, and he could feel the anticipation in his lower stomach. It was a nice sensation and Garth's comical expression added a rush of affection to the feeling. Dick's laughter settled into a happy smile and he reached across the table to brush his fingertips over the back of Garth's hand.

"You know.... It feels really good to be here like this with you."

"'Here'? Specifically, or--"

"I meant, out. In public." Dick smiled a little. "In more ways than one."

Garth tilted his head a little, looking curious. "Does it feel differently? Than when you were with Kory, for instance."

Dick thought about it. "Well...I rarely had the chance to be with her without being in disguise myself, so it isn't quite the same." He grimaced. "And now you're doing that instead."

"It's only temporary, Robbie, and I wouldn't at all if I didn't mind being recognized. Tonight I wasn't in the mood for anyone's attention but yours."

"You always know what to say." He grinned. "Also, ow. Again."

"What do you mean, 'again'? I haven't stopped...aching...since you walked in."

"I'll definitely have to rub that out for you later."

Garth closed his eyes and breathed deep, actually shuddering a bit. "Don't...talk like that that. Or we really *will* have to leave. Quickly."

"It'd be worth it to see you look like that."

"Tell me about the differences," Garth said, eyes still closed.

"I suppose it's not so much an internal difference as an external one. Like getting more stares." He snorted a breath of laughter. "Or maybe not. Kory was the biggest attention-magnet I've ever known. And she never minded it."

Garth opened his eyes and met Dick's gaze squarely. "She's a very beautiful woman."

"Yeah. I wish we'd...I dunno. Parted on better terms, at least."

Garth shook his head. "I told you what she said, when we left Karna. Kory doesn't want you to beat yourself up over it."

"No. I know." Dick sighed. "It's just...awkward. To have been so close once and now feel so far away. And I don't mean in light years."

The arrival of their appetizers saved Garth from having to contribute anything deeper than a sympathetic smile.

Garth had chosen vegetarian spring rolls that would have been perfectly fine, except for their tendency to squirt sauce over his fingers. It really was entirely unfair, Dick thought, spreading his crab dip over a cracker, that licking fingers at the table had been one of the first things Alfred had banned upon his arrival at Wayne Manor. Of course Alfred had never said anything about licking someone else's fingers, and Dick stifled a groan and forced himself to think of Alfred to keep from committing a social faux pas.

"Robbie?" Garth's voice was amused. "You all right?"

"I will be," he muttered. "In about three hours."

Garth didn't answer, and when Dick looked up, he realized why. His face wore the same expression Dick was sure his had worn a few moments before. If they made it through this dinner without throwing each other down on the table, they would be very, very lucky.

"You have. Um." Garth's voice was strangled as he gestured at the corner of his own mouth.

Dick distractedly reached up toward his mouth and found dip on the corner of his lip. "Oh. Crap." He wiped his thumb on his napkin and lifted it to rub at the smear of dip. "I'm not sure we're allowed to talk anymore," he muttered. "Other than, 'pass the salt'."

"I'm pretty sure you could make 'pass the salt' sound like an illicit sex act," Garth said dryly. His eyes reflected his pained resignation and Dick's brain stalled on the words 'illicit sex act'. He paid an inordinate amount of attention to the rest of his appetizer.

"Who gets the steak?" Cindy asked cheerfully. Dick looked up and realized she was setting it on his side of the table before he said a word. "And the wild mushroom risotto?" which was already at Garth's place. "Are you done with these?"

"Yes, thank you," Garth said, nodding at his plate, which contained only a few bits of wonton wrapper. Dick moved the rest of his dip to the side and Cindy whisked it away.

"What is this stuff?" he wondered, surveying his steak. The restaurant specialized in 'fusion', which, as far as Dick was concerned, meant that it mixed foods that were never meant to be mixed.

"I think it's bleu cheese and wasabi," Garth said, peering at it.

"You want it?" Dick asked without thinking as he scraped it to the side.

"I'll pass," Garth said, smiling.

Dick grimaced. He knew better. It had touched meat.

They worked through the meal, smiling at each other intermittently as they ate, but saying little. Double entendres were de rigueur between them and sometimes it was just safer to keep silent.

Dick demolished his steak and mound of peppered polenta in record time. He set his fork and knife at 5 o'clock on his plate, wiped his mouth with his napkin, and pushed back his chair a little so he could look past Garth at the small dance floor. A three-person, all-female band was covering "Fly Me To the Moon".

He glanced back at Garth to see him pushing his plate away and following Dick's line of sight out to the dance floor. He looked a little wistful.

"Dance with me?" Dick asked impulsively. Garth looked at him in surprise and glanced back at the dance floor apprehensively. Dick remembered his reluctance at the reception, the concern about tripping over his own feet. But here, there was no Bruce Wayne to emulate, no sweeping four-count patterns, no need to lead and be lead. The couples already on the floor clung to each other and swayed, reminiscent of high school dances, but far more intimate. Dick held out his hand. "I won't let you fall."

Garth's mouth quirked in amusement, but he took Dick's hand and let himself be pulled to his feet. They garnered only a few curious or fascinated glances as they stepped onto the floor with the other couples.

"Tori Amos?" Garth asked, tilting his head.

Dick grinned. "Frank Sinatra, actually." The band certainly *sounded* like Tori Amos but the song was definitely, "Fly Me to the Moon. That's what I get for dragging you to the Heights."

They moved easily, nothing fancy, just the pleasure of being together and maybe a little more at being in public here where no one would care. It was a nice place Dick had found, a cozy club in Bradford Heights on the Sommerset side of Gotham County. The place had been Anarky's territory when he was active and the political climate had adjusted to reflect his influence. Nearly every coffee shop had a battered copy of "God and State" somewhere on the premises but the restaurant was upscale enough to leave politics on the streets and new enough to resist the attention that would come with publicity. Best of all, it was far enough away from Gotham that no one would be particularly interested in who Dick was and with whom he was dining. The mixed clientele consisted of people who wanted a quiet place to be together but not alone, and at ease. Here a college-aged couple, there a married pair who had obviously been together for years, and across from them on the dance floor two young women who held each other close, the slender redhead giving Dick a smile and a wink of camaraderie when she caught his eye over her blonde partner's shoulder.

Too soon, the lead vocalist warbled out the last strains of the song and their movements slowed almost to a halt.

"Love you," Dick murmured, and kissed him.

No big deal; just a kiss, and not particularly deep. But Dick saw that Garth's eyes had darkened even through the illusion he'd cast. He took a deep, trembling breath, obviously trying to keep himself under control. "Dick, please, let's go." Another breath. "I want you."

"It's still early--"

Garth's voice was low and insistent. "Now."

The hunger in Garth's tone went straight through him and Dick shivered. "Yeah." They grabbed their jackets and Dick tossed a couple of bills on the table for Cindy. Too much, probably, but he wasn't in the mood to stop and *count.*

Dick grabbed Garth's hand and tugged him outside, breathing greedily of the cool, fresh night air. The April breeze ruffled his hair and swept away the warm restaurant atmosphere he hadn't recognized as oppressive.

He snagged his helmet off the back and swung a leg over the seat. He closed his eyes as he felt Garth's hands on his waist and made sure his helmet was fastened securely before balancing the bike and giving the kickstand a swift boot.

"Helmet on?" he asked, letting out the clutch.

"Yes. *Go,*" Garth answered, body molding against his back.

Dick went roaring down Hightway 61 to 'Haven and their home, trying to be conscious of the speed limit. Behind him on the bike Garth's hands were gripping him almost too tightly around the waist, his breath warm and fast against Dick's neck.

The feel of Garth's strained breath against his skin decided for him. Public indecency laws be damned, one of the best things about being a cop was knowing how to get around the rules...when you really needed to. He turned off the road and drove a couple of blocks north.

He pulled off into a small park, making sure they were hidden from the road by the tall oaks that lined the highway. He rocked forward and forced the center stand down to keep the bike upright. Instead of dismounting, he swung around on the bike, lifting his body and sliding forward so that he ended up sitting astride Garth's thighs. "Okay," he said softly. "Now. I want to feel you in me."

Garth's hands had dropped to his sides, and Dick could see the trembling, twitching movement of his fingers as he fought to keep them there. "But we don't have--"

"Always be prepared," Dick said, and reached into the depths of his jacket.

Dick knew Garth would have laughed if his need hadn't been so urgent. He reached around, cupping Dick's rear in his hands and pulling him close. Their erections met through the cloth and they both groaned. Dick leaned in, grinding their bodies together and licking at Garth's ear. Garth turned his head to catch Dick's mouth, kissing him frantically. "Robbie...love you... I need you."

Dick pulled back just far enough so that Garth could see him smile. "Let go a sec." Garth's hands tightened briefly on his ass, squeezing, then fell away. He got off the bike and skimmed off his jeans and underwear in a single motion. Garth raised up enough to push his own clothing down to mid-thigh, but then the seat was in the way and Dick was too impatient to wait for the rest. He swung his leg over Garth's again and settled back, the contact of skin against skin shockingly intense.

Without words Garth lifted his hand and Dick slicked the fingers from the tube he'd dropped into his jacket on a whim. Garth reached around again, fingers easily sliding into him while Dick's own hands were busy, slippery on Garth's erection.

Garth's hands were on his hips and guiding as he raised up, positioning himself, and sank down. The blunt head of Garth's cock slipping inside him and then rocking back and forth, slowly taking the rest until his ass rested flush against Garth's thighs again.

"Okay," he said, and then, "Wait. Drop the illusion. I want to see *you.*"

There was a brief shimmer and the brown eyes looking back into his turned their rightful purple and the tattoos reappeared over Garth's right eye. Dick leaned forward, tracing the curve of those lines with his tongue, and Garth moaned under him. God, he loved that sound.

For a moment he simply sat still, feeling Garth against and inside him. The quiet sounds of the woods and Garth's heavy breaths echoed in his ears and he pushed his fingers into the cropped half-curls at the back of Garth's neck.

Garth moved first, pushing his hips up, shifting inside Dick, and Dick dropped his forehead to Garth's broad shoulder with a groan. He felt Garth's arms go around him, muscled forearms against his sides, strong hands under his ass, supporting him and stretching him. Garth moved again. Dick flexed his hips in response, riding with the movement, and looked up, sharing breath with his lover as they worked out a rhythm.

The bike shifted slightly under them as they moved together. Dick answered Garth's questioning look with a shake of his head. "As long as you don't go throwing me around," he said, surprised at the roughness of his own voice, "it'll stand."

Garth responded by tilting Dick's head back in a passionate kiss and pulling their bodies more snugly together. Dick could feel his cock sliding against the ridge of Garth's stomach muscles and couldn't help but pick up his pace. Garth matched the increase easily and they moved together comfortably, losing themselves in the brilliant sensations of their lovemaking.

Riding someone on a bike was a different experience than riding someone on a bed and the awkward positioning and careful balance brought an accelerated sense of desperation. They had silent cues now, physical indications they recognized in each other, and they groaned into each other's tongues, mouths sealed together, as they came. Garth's climax deep inside him triggered Dick's own release, splashing up between them.

The bike groaned a little as he relaxed, shifting his weight further back on Garth's heavily muscled thighs. Garth's echoed the sentiment quietly.

Dick grimaced. "I think my shirt's a loss."

"It'll wash." Garth's tongue swiped at his chin, cleaning him.

He snickered suddenly, remembering. "Well, I DID promise you a ride on my bike sometime."

Garth leaned into him, laughing. "Ohhhh, Robbie...thank you."

"For what?"

"For this. For everything."

"Love you," Dick said softly; warmed, as always, by the answering spark in his lover's eyes.



{end}

* "Arnot's little stunt" -- unposted fic. Someday I'll catch up with my own timeline, swear.