Freefall

by 'rith



Archive: Ask first, please.
Fandom/Warnings: Titans/X-Men. Standalone fic. M/M slash. Underage? Don't like slash? Don't read it.
Disclaimer: All characters property of Marvel Comics or DC Comics as appropriate. What I have done with them is mine.
Thanks to: Tangerine Angel-girl. This is for you, babe. :)



New York, New York.

Funny how I've spent so much time here and still don't really feel like I know this city. I could get all philosophical about it--the city that never sleeps and never reveals its true face--but I think it's really because it's Gotham that shaped me. Gotham doesn't hide what it really is--not if you know where to look, anyway. But then, Gotham is the City of the Bat. Batman's city, never truly mine.

Or maybe New York felt even more alien these days because that landmark I'd always looked to guide me was gone. Titans' Tower had been destroyed in an explosion engineered by the Wildebeests and in a way, the Titans had been destroyed with it.

Though that wasn't fair to the new team; those kids would do their best to uphold the tradition. Ray Palmer--the Atom--had invited me to NY to meet them. It was a nice gesture. It just depressed me. They were so *young*--God, the original Teen Titans had been even younger when we started out, but still.

Which is why I was out here, trying to work off the tension and feeling lonely.

The Titans weren't my Titans anymore, Bruce and I...were still having trouble in the wake of the Azrael mess, and I wasn't quite sure where I was supposed to be. I'd even given up being Nightwing for awhile before realizing I *couldn't,* the whole superhero thing was just too much a part of me. I didn't know what to do without it, which just sounds pathetic.

And that's when I reached for the next handhold...and missed.

I was falling, flying, and I still had a few seconds until I had to cast the jumpline when I felt myself grabbed from behind and *yanked* upward. I twisted around to see who it was--

--and looked up into the face of an Angel.

***

"What are you? Crazy?!"

I could have been more polite. But I'd been watching this guy throw himself from building to building without even the benefit of the kind of line Daredevil uses. I was pretty sure he was human--I'd seen Spider-Man move enough to recognize that kind of superhuman agility.

Now, he was good. *Really* good. I'd watched Kurt perform some of his old circus routines and the way this guy moved looked a lot like that. So I'd followed behind for awhile, far enough away that I wouldn't be spotted, depending on my enhanced vision to track him. He was wearing a black costume with blue highlights, streamlined except for what I assumed were equipment pouches on his forearms and lower legs. Domino mask that did nothing to disguise a really strong, striking face. Black hair and skin a dark enough shade of tan to hint at some kind of exotic blood. A truly amazing ass.

Well, I *said* I'd been following for awhile, right? Had to look at *something.*

When I saw him miss the handhold, I'd poured on the speed, swooping slightly underneath to catch him without tearing his arms out of their sockets. I carried him upward and the words came out of my mouth before I could stop them.

Anyway, he looked up at me and raised his hand, which held--oops. A compact linecaster. All right, so he hadn't been in any danger.

"Can't blame a guy for not wanting you to go splat. Sorry if I ruined your fun. By the way, I'm--"

"The Angel. I know." At least he sounded amused. Nice mid-range tenor. "I'm Nightwing."

Suited him. "New in town?"

"Just visiting."

Jeez. Conversation with this guy was like pulling teeth. "Anyone I might know?"

"The Titans, over near Manhattan."

"Oh, sure. The X-Men teamed up with them a couple of years ago. I wasn't there, but..."

He smiled a little. "I was."

***

He looked down at me with a wry expression. "Okay, Mister Tall, Dark, and Mysterious. I heard all about that, and no one mentioned anyone who looked like *you.*"

I had to laugh. "I was going by 'Robin' then."

He raised a blond eyebrow. "As in 'the Batman and--?' Well, I'm impressed."

"Thanks." It came out a little more sharply than I'd intended. "Uh, sorry. I haven't been Robin for...a long time."

"Ah." He didn't say anything else, and I took a minute to look down and watch the city go by. I'd gone flying often enough with Kory or Donna or whoever, but it was always a unique experience.

I noticed we'd made a wide circle and were almost back to where we'd started. "Uh, Angel--"

"Warren. My name's Warren."

That was nice, but...this kind of thing always made me a little uncomfortable. There wasn't any hiding with the Titans but I didn't go around telling everyone my name because my secret wasn't just mine. The fact that there was another Robin now proved that; Tim had discovered Bruce's identity through me. It'd sort of been a fluke, a real coincidence that he'd been in the right place at the right time to put it all together--but still, the trail was there if you had the clues.

I'd known his name already, of course. Warren Worthington was heir to a significant fortune and he'd made magazine covers more than once. Fewer since he'd revealed he was a mutant, but he was still a famous face.

Before I could say anything he spoke up again. "Never mind. I understand the secret ID thing." He grinned down at me. "Not really practical to hide *this* pair of wings...Nightwing."

That made me laugh again. "Right. Thanks." Something about his expression made me go on, "My friends call me Robbie...from Robin, you know. It sorta stuck."

"Very cute." He was looking right into my eyes. I couldn't help it. I blushed.

***

What I *should* have done was dropped him off wherever the Titans were based these days. But heck with it, I was enjoying the warmth of him against my chest entirely too much. It wasn't like I was just hauling him along, either; he knew enough about wind currents and flight to shift when I did, those small muscle movements that kept me from having to overcompensate for his weight.

What that said about his muscle control...I was trying not to think *too* hard about. I'd picked him up but I hadn't meant to--pick him up, if you know what I mean.

But I'm a sucker for a pretty face or a handsome one, and this guy...well. It was talking all the self-control I had to keep my hands from wandering, or to pull him even closer so I could feel that tight--

Thoughts like *that* would get me in real trouble. But it was worth the comment just to get him to blush. Gorgeous, really.

He sounded flustered. "Um, Warren, I--"

If I'd had a hand free I would have smacked myself. Another brilliant move from the Angel, the horniest superhero in the business. "Never mind, I didn't mean--" Well, I *had,* but I was trying for an apology here. I shook my head. "Sorry. It's all that black, you know. Very flattering. I'll be good."

"Too bad."

He said it really quietly, but my hearing's a little better than human-norm--has to be, to hear over the rush of wind and wings. It let me know he might be interested, which was definitely a step in the right direction. But he hadn't said it like he expected me to hear, so....

Much as I wanted to do or say something decisive, the next move had to be his.

***

Ohhh, I was in trouble.

Someone up there had an evil sense of humor. There I was, feeling lonely and sorry for myself, and he shows up--the Angel, with the face of, well, an angel. Perfectly, classically sculpted features and that kind of true blond hair that shines even at night.

Exotic to *me,* since most of my lovers have been dark-haired. Not that I was really considering....

I mean, hell, I'd just *met* the guy!

Still, the sudden temptation to lose myself in a stranger was intriguing. I could do this so easily, we'd probably have fun, he certainly seemed willing. I *knew* he was willing, I'd felt him against me once or twice as he'd made a turn in the air. It felt...nice.

Oh, Grayson, you are in *so* much trouble!

"Can we set down for a second?" Maybe solid footing would help me get my balance back. Pretty silly thought for an acrobat raised on the high wire, though.

"Sure." He spread his wings like a parachute and we drifted down to the roof of a high-rise. Soon as our feet touched down he let go of me and stepped away. Thinking he'd offended me, maybe.

"Angel--I'm sorry. I'm just a little...preoccupied, I guess."

"Hey, it's all right. I'm the one who grabbed you in midair and can't keep his mouth shut. Can we start over? Without the diving-off-the-building part." He smiled and stuck out his hand. "Hi. I'm the Angel, the once-and-present X-Man. Call me Warren."

It was so smoothly done I had to smile back. "Hi, Warren."

I felt the shock go through me when I touched his hand. God, had it really been that long? His eyes--a lighter shade of blue than mine, like the ocean shallows--told me he'd felt the same thing.

"Listen, you had dinner yet?"

The question surprised me. I realized it was getting on toward twilight, I hadn't noticed the time. "No, I hadn't even thought about it."

That smile again. "Occupational hazard. I'm not surprised. If we didn't drag Scotty--that's Cyclops--out of the Danger Room, he'd never eat...."

"I remember Cyclops. But--'Danger Room'?"

"Let me take you to dinner and I'll tell you about it."

Trouble. Definitely. But he was making it really easy not to care. I could go back to the new Titans' building, but no one was there and I didn't feel like another night of cold pizza. "Sounds good."

***

I was still probably pushing too hard but I had the feeling that if I didn't he'd just go off and brood somewhere. I'd had plenty of practice getting Scott out of that kind of mood, and--

Honestly? He was really something. I had the "I-want" vibe going strong. But I've had a lot of practice pushing *that* down, too, and if all he wanted was someone to talk to that was okay.

Suddenly it was important that I was the one to do that. Maybe it was because he reminded me of Scott...or maybe I was just horny. Gee, what a surprise. Or maybe tonight I was feeling like *I* wanted to be the comforting one for a change.

"Great. Now, let's see." My first impulse was to call up my favorite tailor and have him put out tuxes for us, pick them up and take Robbie here out on the town. Waaaaaaay to fast. And I'd have to harness my wings. Not tonight, thanks. I *hate* that damned thing. "You wouldn't happen to have a phone on you, would you?"

He nodded, unzipped one of the compartments on his costume's forearms, and pulled out a tiny cellphone. "Here."

"Nice one. Waynetech, good stuff. All right, give me a sec--" The benefit of being both filthy rich and willing to flaunt it; in a couple of minutes I had everything arranged. When I turned back to look at him, Nightwing was standing at the edge of the roof, looking out over the city. Quietly, so I didn't startle him, I said, "Are you okay?"

"Huh? Yeah." After a second he said, "I'm probably not very good company right now."

"That's all right. I never get tired of hearing myself talk." He looked at me, startled, and I grinned. "Kidding. Mostly."

"Funny man." He moved back from the edge.

"Nah, that's Iceman. He's the team clown. I'm--let's see--playboy, money guy, and pin-up idol."

"I can definitely see that last." He walked toward me, smiling, and I felt my brain turn to mush.

"Ohhh, brother. Say things like that and I *really* won't be able to stop."

"So who's asking you to--" he started, then paused.

Right. He'd been teasing, but his heart wasn't in it. "Look, Nightwing--it's no secret I'm a terrible flirt with anyone I'm attracted to. But you're not required to reciprocate. Unless you really want to."

"The truth is, I'm not sure what I want."

Obviously, he was talking about more than he and I. I tried for a sympathetic shrug. "Who does?"

***

Maybe this was just what I needed, a neutral party to talk to. The mutual attraction bouncing between us didn't hurt, either. "I used to, I think. Back when the Titans really were a team."

He nodded. "There was a long while I wasn't with the X-Men, I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself."

"I'm not actually with them now, that's the thing. There's this whole new team, a bunch of kids--they're gonna do fine, but they're not *my* Titans." My Titans had fallen apart so horribly. Kory and Vic and Gar and Raven and even Donna, my God, it was like one litany of disaster after another. And it all started with Joey's death. Joe--

I never was going to get over the guilt of that. I should have seen, should have suspected *something*....

But Warren was saying, "That's part of why I left awhile back, too! It became this new team I didn't know."

"Teams change, I understand that, but..."

"But it's not the same." He glanced over at me. "Things should be ready for us now. Ready to go?" He walked over and stood behind me. "All aboard for the Angel express. I even promise not to grope you in midair."

It felt good to laugh. And he was true to his word. Though I wasn't sure I wanted him to be.

We landed on another rooftop. A tablecloth had been laid out, with plates and glasses and serving dishes covered to keep warm. "You just--called for this?"

Warren grinned. "Helps to be rich, famous, and a big tipper. It's a good view."

It was. The city was spread out below, evening lights starting to glow like stars. "It's great. So, what about this Danger Room....?"

It sounded fascinating. Certainly more advanced than any holographic technology I'd ever heard of, though Warren was cagey about the details. Fair enough. While we ate, I told him about the Titans' "hide and seek" games. He told me how the X-Men had changed over the years. I told him about how the Titans had done the same--and fallen apart.

It seemed strange that I could talk so easily with Warren when I hadn't really been able to unload this stuff on anyone else, even Wally. Bruce--well, was Bruce. Tim didn't deserve to have it dumped on him and Barbara had her own troubles. As for the other Titans, maybe my oldest friends knew me *too* well. They were as immersed in it as I was.

"Isn't that odd, though?" he mused. "Five of you, five of us, four men and one woman; strange parallels. And then the new team.... Except that you stayed on to lead, just like Scotty did, and I left."

"I hadn't even realized how much I'd missed them, the founding team, but I just met up with them again." None of us were the same. I'd been Nightwing rather than Robin for awhile, and Donna had been through more changes than I could name. Roy had dropped the "Speedy" name in favor of Arsenal, Wally became the Flash after Barry's death, and Garth....

Garth had just undergone a magical transformation and become Tempest. I barely knew him anymore...and yet it felt *right,* like this is what he should have been all along, powerful and confident.

"You missed them."

"Yeah. I've kept in touch with Flash, pretty much, but Arsenal and Tempest...we sort of drifted apart."

He nodded, looking down over the city. "It's strange and wonderful to have all of us together again, especially Jeannie...." Warren had explained about that, sort of. When I'd met the X-Men, we'd teamed to fight against Darkseid and a resurrected Phoenix--who, I was given to understand, had been Jean Grey, who had died. Now she was back, and I suppose the leader of a team that had once included an alien princess and the daughter of an extradimensional demon didn't really have much room to talk about the type of weirdness that just *happened* in this kind of life.

Something in Warren's voice when he talked about her told me his feelings for her ran deep. "You love her."

He turned to me, smiling. "And I always will. But she and Scott were made for each other."

Something about the way he said "Scott," too...but it wasn't any of my business. I could understand it, though. The Titans had always been close, it was easy to imagine how that could spill over.

Not that that'd happened with me, not really. I'd loved Donna from the moment I met her but it was more like I'd *always* known and loved her. Even aside from the fact that she and Roy had been together in those early days, it'd never been romantic with us. Just...deep.

Roy and Wally were charter members of the he-man-woman-chasers club. The thought'd probably never crossed their minds. As for Garth...I had no idea. I had to admit, first time I saw him in his new costume, all that red and black and what was clearly an amazing body under it--okay, so I had a few thoughts. Not that I planned to do anything about them, of course, because the last thing I wanted to do was mess up a relationship with an old friend I was just getting to know again.

With the second team there was Kory--and there was Kory. I thought there'd always be....

Dammit.

And the rest were friends. Gar who was everyone's little brother, and Vic who wrongly thought his cyborg's body made him less than human, and Raven, who just seemed so *innocent* despite all she'd been through. I'd shared a kiss with her once but that was when her empathic powers had changed and she was learning to control them. And Joey. Who--

I glanced up to see Warren looking at me questioningly. "I've reminded you of something."

"No, I--yeah." It'd been months and I hadn't talked about it with anyone. Maybe it was time. "One of the Titans, Jericho, he was a mutant too. He could 'possess' people--send his, uh, spirit into them and control their bodies. Joey was the gentlest person I've ever known. He never would have hurt anyone, just being around him was like--he had a peaceful presence, you know? Everyone loved him. He was an artist, too."

"What happened?" Warren's voice was quiet.

"Maybe his powers made him more susceptible, I don't know, but he was possessed by--well, it's a long story, but basically evil ghosts. How's that for irony? None of us knew, we had no idea anything was wrong, and meanwhile he'd gathered these...assassins, and started taking the Titans down." Golden Eagle had been killed, poor Charlie Parker who'd only wanted to be a good hero, and Raven's mother Arella, and Danny Chase, who I'd asked to leave the team months before because the Titans' life was too dangerous for a kid. I could've let him stay for all the good that did. "Finally we found him and realized what had happened, and we fought. Joey...died." The Terminator killed him. Slade Wilson. Joe's own *father.* We'd all seen what had taken over Joey's body, and Slade knew there wasn't any choice. God help me, I believed him. "But maybe if we'd seen it earlier, we could have done *something....*"

"Sometimes you can't." That sounded like more than just a platitude; Warren's eyes were shadowed. "We all said *exactly* the same thing about Jean. If we'd known...if we'd done something...and the truth is, there wasn't anything we could have done. I--you *have* to believe that. Because the alternative, that you failed your friend and all the deaths that came after were partly your fault--" He took a deep breath. "We spend so much time trying to save the world, and then you can't save the ones you love."

I couldn't save Kory, and I couldn't save Joey, and I couldn't save Bruce. Raven. Vic. Gar. Even Jason Todd. Because after all, if I hadn't left Bruce alone, he wouldn't have needed another Robin, and Jason--

If, if, if. I swore a long time ago not to agonize over "if," and just look at me now. I should have renamed myself Angstwing. "Warren, how--how do you get away from it?"

"Oh, I have it easy. I'm not the team leader, I don't have to be responsible. I'm allowed to play the hedonist, the frivolous airhead. I've got the money to burn...." He shrugged. "Whatever works, I guess."

I'd grown up side-by-side with that kind of easy wealth--couldn't help it, as Bruce Wayne's ward--but I'd left that behind when I'd quit as Robin. It'd never really occurred to me to...indulge myself, because it always felt like *Bruce's* money. Not that he would have cared. But I had always been too busy with being Robin and leading the Titans to really think about it much. "*Does* it work?"

"Occasionally. But it's better than--" he broke off and shook his head. "Quit it."

I had no idea what he was talking about. "Huh?"

"Forcing me to be honest with myself. Stop it. It's bad for my self-image."

He said it with such a sardonic smile I couldn't help but laugh. "Uh, sorry?"

Warren just rolled his eyes. "Scott does it, too. What, do they give you leader-types special training or something? Never mind, I don't want to know. But listen, Robbie, you can't keep holding all of this in; it was just luck that I caught you when you fell. And sure, maybe you weren't really in any danger this time...but what about the next?"

I just stared at him. "So I need to...find my own way of dealing, is that it?"

He shrugged extravagantly, the motion making his wings flex. "One way or another, as the song goes. But if I can make an observation...it sounds like you might need to get away from the team thing. Instead of being 'Batman's ex-Robin' or 'ex-leader of the Titans,' maybe you should just be Nightwing for awhile and see where that gets you." He stopped and looked surprised. "I'll be damned. Was that good advice?"

It made too much sense. "Sounds like it could be, yeah."

"Note the day. I'm not known for it." He grinned self-depreciatingly. "All this and brains too."

I laughed because that sounded like Roy, except there was something more...vulnerable about Warren than Roy usually revealed, even to his oldest friends. But he'd been a great listener. Finally talking about Joey had helped...and I think Warren understood what I hadn't said about him.

I rubbed at my face and was surprised to still have the mask on. I'd been feeling so *comfortable,* it'd been easy to drop the traditional masks Batman had worked so hard to instill. That was probably unfair...those masks helped me lead the Titans all those years. But still....

Sometimes you just had to take the damned things off.

***

He peeled off his mask and I *recognized* him, sort of like déjà vu. A magazine article, newspaper clip, something....

When you're heir to a fortune you pay attention to the financial reports--economic and otherwise. The gossip that went 'round the world's richest men never stopped. Reed Richards, Lex Luthor, Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne....

That last name brought the image I'd been trying to remember into focus. Some kind of charity event, a picture of the generous multibillionaire Mr. Wayne...and his ward, Richard Grayson.

That'd been years ago, but this was the same man in the photo. He was still high on the "most eligible bachelors" list--where I'd been, before I went public about my wings. Sigh. Fame, how fickle. But Mr. Grayson here, he was a hot topic of conversation among the rich and oh-so-bored. Every debutante wanted to meet him, particularly because Wayne himself never married and the chances that Grayson would inherit the whole shebang got higher every year.

Vultures. 'Course, there was always that *other* theory, the nasty little one about how their relationship wasn't like father and son at all. Did I mention that after bragging about their fortunes, the favorite pastime of the idle rich is speculating on each others' sex lives?

...But--oh, my lord. Bruce Wayne...is the Batman.

My God. Talk about the kind of secret that could get you in *real* trouble. Maybe he'd thought I wouldn't recognize him, or maybe it'd just been an impulse--but either way, by taking his mask off Nightwing was trusting me with not just his name, but *Batman's.*

Intended or not, that trust meant the world to me.

But knowing that, I'd stake my own inheritance on the real reason Bruce Wayne never seemed interested in any of the lovely creatures who tried so desperately to win his attention. I guess being Batman didn't leave him much room for anything resembling a real life.

At least it appeared his protégé hadn't taken *that* lesson to heart, and I was glad. Not just for myself, but for him. He was far too beautiful to be so...lonely.

"Warren...?"

His voice startled me and I realized I'd been staring at his face. To tell or not to tell? Damn. I hated secrets. "My God, but you are gorgeous. The pictures in the scandal rags don't do you justice."

"Oh." He was staring at *me,* now. "I've tried to stay out of the public eye--"

"Old photo. I remembered. But I meant it about the secret identity, Richard. I'd never say anything."

***

Of course. I should have realized he'd recognize me. Careless. Bruce would be appalled.

To hell with Bruce. "Okay. Thanks. It's just sort of awkward...."

He nodded. "I can imagine. The X-Men don't have that much in the way of secret identities." A wry smile. "Comes of not having much of a life outside the team. But once in awhile it's nice to step away from it all."

Yeah. Exactly. "I don't do that enough, probably."

Warren cocked his head at me, considering. "No, I'd guess...you're a perfectionist, totally driven, you think everything the team does is your responsibility, and it drives you crazy that you can't do it all."

I wasn't sure if I wanted to laugh or cry. "Am I that obvious?"

He spread his hands. "I recognize the type, that's all. Scott's the same way. Except that he has Jeannie, who *makes* him take time away from the team and relax." Then he hesitated, and I could see him looking for a polite way to ask.

"I don't have anyone like that right now." Which ought to tell him enough. I didn't want to get into it. My romantic life had been pretty rocky lately. Ever since Kory.... I didn't want to think about it anymore.

I didn't want to *think* anymore.

"Then don't."

Had I said that aloud? I guess I was more out of it than I thought. "Warren..."

He was very still, waiting.

"Don't let me think."

***

That was acquiescence and permission and desperation all rolled together. I recognized that sound, had heard it from my own mouth more than once. Sometimes you just needed to be taken out of yourself. Maybe sex was just a shortcut or a temporary solution, but with the lives we lead--Lord, sometimes that's all there is.

I leaned in to kiss him, not on the mouth but on that gorgeous strong jawline, tracing it with my lips. If I really started kissing him here like I wanted to we'd never get off the roof, and eventually someone would come up to clear the plates. I heard him catch his breath. I traced a path up to his ear and breathed, "Hang on."

His arms went around my waist and I took off, wings pushing hard to lift us both straight up. Chest to chest, I felt his body through our costumes and the touch almost made me dizzy. Soon, Warren, fly straight home and you can ravage him at your leisure....

Or let him ravage *me,* whatever he wanted.

I think I made record time to my apartment.

We landed and I touched the keypad on the patio to open the glass doors and then we went inside, drawing the curtains after us.

No hesitation as he reached for me. My hands slid around him and down where they'd been aching to go, cupping the curve of his ass and pulling him close. He laughed a little, low in his throat, and leaned into me.

His mouth fell warm and sure on mine. God. He kissed me like right at that moment I was the only person in the world for him, and right then and there I wanted to believe it. Hello, self-delusion, my old friend. But at least there's something honest in a couple of hours of mutual lust.

I pulled away long enough to mutter, "This way," and dragged him down the hall into the bedroom. No, "dragged" is the wrong word. It was more like one step, snag, kiss, the feel of his hands on my chest, the taste of the skin on his neck, one step, and again....

We backed off a little to undress. Costumes are really a pain when you're in a hurry. Thank Reed Richards for unstable molecules--at least the thing doesn't snag on my wings. I watched him pull off his costume, graceful even in haste, and had to take a moment to just *look.* His body was--perfect. Every bit.

I wanted him so badly. "Richard...."

He shook his head and took a step toward me. "I never use that. Call me Dick."

... I tried, I really tried to keep a straight face. Talk about breaking the mood.

Some things couldn't be helped. I started chuckling. "Should I really? I mean, it's either an insult or it sounds like you're bragging, and you don't seem like such a bad guy...."

He tried to frown and ended up laughing instead. "Forget it, Warren, I've heard it all from Arsenal. I stopped blushing over that a *long* time ago."

"Ohh-kay.... I'm sorry, I just can't. 'Dick.'" I snickered again.

Suddenly he was pressed up me. "Can I touch your wings?"

God, touch me anywhere. "Sure."

He ran his hands gently over the feathers. I shivered. Most people don't realize how sensitive they are. It's not like hair--each feather has blood vessels, nerve endings, that transmit sensations just like any other body part. Right now, those sensations were going straight to my groin.

I felt his mouth between my shoulder blades and that did it for what was left of my self-control. "Rich--Robbie, let me--"

"Not yet." His tongue dragged down my spine slowly, his arms under my wings, hands caressing my chest. I think my eyes rolled back into my head, it was that intense. His hands drifted lower, his tongue, I was about to fall over when he caught me 'round the waist and turned me to face him. "You're a lot lighter than I thought!"

"Lighter bones, my body's adapted for flight--" His mouth was on my chest, going lower, forget talking! I fell backward so my ass hit the bed and he slid down, warm breath and he was *tasting* me, Jesus, there wasn't anything in the world but the feel of his lips and tongue and the sight of that dark head against my thighs....

Fast, too fast, I'd wanted to go slow but there wasn't any holding back. My head fell backward and I came, fingers clutching at the covers and body arching up into his mouth.

When I could breathe again I looked down to see him smiling a little, but his eyes were totally unreadable. I had no idea what he was thinking.

But he'd told me, explicitly, not to let him think; and with the edge off my own desire, I could start working on that. Before he started to second-guess being here in the first place.

I pulled him up and kissed him, tasting myself on his tongue, and it was enough to get my blood boiling again. Focus, Warren; make this about *him,* make him forget whatever he'd been throwing himself off buildings to get away from.

I kissed the hollow of his throat, saying his name. "Richard." Ran my hands over his chest. "Richard."

He tried to protest. "I don't--"

"Use that, I know, no one calls you by name. I want to, though." Selfishly, I wanted to claim that for my own. "It's really very sexy. Dignified. 'Richard Grayson.'" I leaned in and licked his nipple and felt him shudder. That was more like it.

"I'm not really sure...who he is...."

Hah. I think it's in the Hero's Handbook that you have to have an identity crisis once every couple of years, if not months. "That's all right. He feels--amazing."

"He probably stinks. Do you mind if I rinse off quick? Nomex and Kevlar are great for deflecting bullets, but not so great at keeping your deodorant working...." He said it grinning, and I was thrilled to see that somewhere behind all that brooding there was a guy with a sense of humor--who'd decided to see this through. Hallelujah.

"You, wet in my shower? Brilliant idea. As long as you let me watch."

He looked a little surprised, and it struck me that he really didn't *get* how gorgeous he was. I didn't want to take my eyes off of him. Certainly people would have told him, so it had to be a stunning lack of ego--something I didn't know anything about. Maybe it's another requirement of being a leader-type; Scott didn't understand why people loved him, either.

Some more than others. But that was neither here nor there.

I sat for another moment, watching Richard as he walked toward the bathroom, and bit my tongue on a sudden thought: No wonder the Titans had him lead, putting him in front let them watch his rear! Literally. And if they weren't, then there was something *wrong* with that team.

When I heard the shower start I got up and went in to look. One glance at the water cascading over that sculpted acrobat's body, be still my heart. Oh, he had scars that marred the flow of his skin--you couldn't avoid them in this business--but the slight imperfections just added to the effect. There was a lot of strength in those compact muscles, and seeing it reminded me again how much I wanted to feel that. As if I could have forgotten.

I wasn't fooling myself about what this was or what it meant. Chances are I wouldn't see him again after tonight, unless by some coincidence we ended up working together someday. It didn't matter one bit. Never let it be said Warren Worthington let common sense get in the way of something he *wanted.* And right now I wanted him more than I'd wanted anyone in a long time.

No reason to wait. I reached in and shut off the shower and pulled him out, swatting his hand when he reached for a towel. "Leave it. I'm thirsty." Before he could move I started chasing the water drops with my lips, drinking from him. He sucked in his breath--lovely, that sound--and tilted back his head so I could trace the long line of his throat. The water dripped down from his hair, over his shoulders, those almost-too-sharp collarbones, his chest, the flat plane of his stomach, trickling to narrow hips--

If I thought he'd stand still for it I'd have run for my digital camera to capture him forever like that. But maybe I could show *him* what I saw. I led him back into the bedroom, over to the mirror--yes, it's full length and very large, I'm fully aware of my narcissistic tendencies, thanks--and positioned him in front.

He looked confused. "What do you--"

"Shhh. Just watch." But first I had to take a moment to look at the contrast between us. I was just a little taller and broader through the shoulders, mostly because of the muscles that moved my wings. He was leaner, more toned and smaller at the waist. Tanned skin and that black hair against my blond. Oh, very nice.

I stepped behind him and brought my hands around to caress his chest, nibbling at the back of his neck. Over his shoulder I saw his eyes widen as he watched me touch him. I tugged his arms up to hook around my neck, stretching his body into a lithe, sensuous line. Starting from his thighs I drew my hands up slowly, smoothing over damp skin, feeling the muscles and strength underneath. When I dragged a thumb over his lips he closed his eyes and his tongue came out to lick briefly and I was instantly hard again.

There was a lot more I wanted to do but for the moment I just turned his head and kissed him, sucking on his lip as his body arched back toward me. "Mmmmm." I wasn't sure quite who'd moaned, didn't matter, I could feel the tension between us starting to rise again, stretching taut like an invisible wire. It made me gasp and drop my forehead against his shoulder for just a second, almost dizzy with sensation.

"Warren?"

"Mm-hmm." I lifted my head and grinned at him. "Just catching my breath. Let's try this again." I started to touch him again, beginning by tracing my fingers over his cheekbones, his lips, his jawline while he watched in the mirror and I watched his face. And then lower, inch by slow thorough inch.

I took my time, exploring. By the time I'd reached his hips he was hard and ready and perfect and I wanted to taste him very badly. I returned the favor he'd done me, pushing him back against the bed. I tried to go slow, make it good for him, and the sounds he made let me know he, ah, appreciated it. When he came it was with a long low moan, rising to a shout. I love it when my lovers make noise. It sounds like applause for a job well done.

I moved up to lie next to him, sprawled on my stomach, just looking at his face. What a beautiful man, especially right then; all flushed and mouth open and eyes still closed, trembling a little. I couldn't resist and leaned over, fitting my lips over his gently, just enough taste his breathing and feel his mouth against mine. Almost like real lovers. Illusion, of course, but a seductive one.

Then his tongue reached out to mine, and that light kiss turned into something deeper, and then his body was pressed up against me again. His hands wandering, mine seeking, and we fell on each other, wrestling and rubbing and then writhing against each other because it was so intense. Long ecstatic moments went by and I know I lost time because the next thing I remember for certain was looking at the clock at 2:19 in the morning, feeling him wrapped around me and both of us sticky and satisfied and nearly satiated.

Nearly. Not quite. I definitely wanted something more from him. I turned to see his eyes were open, looking into space dreamily but not sleepily. Go figure: Nightwing, night-owl. I poked him. "That looks like thinking again."

"Mm? No, not really." He rolled over, stretching languorously, reaching for the glass of water I'd put by the bedside. Just watching his throat pulse as he drank--delicious. It made me want to kiss him senseless. But first I needed a moment.

"Good. I'll be right back--" Except that when I came back from the restroom, he was nowhere in sight.

I was almost afraid to go looking but I did, finding him in the living room, looking at the art on the walls in the dim lighting. He'd put on a pair of my sweatpants but was still bare-chested, which was almost more erotic than naked.

"These are reproductions."

Good eye. "Yes."

He looked embarrassed suddenly. "I'm sorry, it's habit. I was just a little surprised; I thought you might collect originals."

"Well, I thought about it. But I decided that having the originals for my own pleasure wouldn't be worth the loss to the art world. If, you know, some idiot decides to restart the Sentinel program and they come after me here, or some other mutant-hating bastard torches the building."

Dick blinked. "I didn't--I see what you mean. It was quite a risk for you to go public. I hadn't thought about that."

Was that admiration in his voice? It was an unfamiliar sound. I *liked* it. Except I really didn't want to talk about mutant problems tonight. "I thought you didn't want to think." Teasing. "Let's work on that." I walked over and ran my hands down his back and under the sweatpants. Caressed the smooth skin of his ass again. He fit my hands perfectly. "I want you."

He gasped and laughed at the same time. "Yeah, I kinda got that impression...."

"Good. I'd hate to think I'd been unclear about that." I lifted a bit and his legs came up and hooked around my waist. An acrobat. Jesus. If he'd been able to really fly, he'd be perfect. The feel of him against me like that was almost overwhelming but it wasn't *quite* what I'd had in mind. More like the opposite. I wanted to let him--

If I was really deluding myself I'd say I wanted to let him lose myself in me, which was after all the whole *point* of why he'd allowed himself to be...seduced. But it was more true to admit that it was a selfish impulse; I wanted to feel possessed, even if it was only for one night. Needed, even. God, that sounds pathetic.

Whatever. Obviously, he wasn't the only one who needed to stop thinking tonight. I said, "Kiss me," and he did, balancing on my hands. Who needed thought when there was *this,* the feel and scent and taste of him overwhelming my senses. At some point we both had to breathe again. "I want you, Richard. I want to feel you in me."

He didn't need to speak; he answered in the way his eyes turned dark, his arousal against my stomach. So back into the bedroom, laying him down and licking briefly as I bent to pull the sweatpants off of him. He shivered and groaned and reached for me. "How do you want to, uh...." He was blushing a little. Absolutely devastating.

"So impatient." Once I knew I was going to get what I wanted, I could tease. I reached over into the drawer for the necessary things. Who says condoms aren't sexy? I rolled it over him slowly, watching his face. Putting it on him was as intimate a thing as we could do, barring what I wanted from him next.

"Like this. It's easier, my wings don't get in the way." I moved over him, straddling his hips. He watched me prepare us both, eager, a hungry look in his eyes. I wanted all that desire focused in me. I reached down and positioned him and slid down--God--perfect--

He was gasping, too. "Warren!"

"Yeah...ohhhh...."

He licked his palm and his hand closed over me, stroking, and my wings flared out automatically with the feel of it, all those sensations crashing together. The best thing about this position--aside from not crushing my feathers--was that I was in control. I could set the pace and I did, moving slowly, running my hands over his chest, leaning over to kiss that mouth, finding the angle that made me shudder and press down hard against him. He was moving too, arcing up, his hand on me insistent and my body demanding *more* and *harder* and his throbbing in me setting off my own orgasm, God, I came so hard I fell over him and my wings folded limply over both of us, a white blanket.

And after that I was just too exhausted for more than some basic clean-up and a mumbled, "See you in the morning," which was more hope than anything.

So then it *was* morning. I woke to see him lying in a relaxed sprawl, and I suspect he would have taken up even more room if my wings didn't already crowd the bed. He stirred and blinked, no doubt roused by my stretching. He reached over and brushed the hair off my forehead, an unexpectedly intimate gesture. Sweet.

"Richard-Dick-Robin-Nightwing-Grayson--you are one of the most gorgeous men I've ever been lucky enough to have in my bed."

He grinned a little, rather too obnoxiously aware for how little sleep we'd gotten. "'One of'?"

"A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell."

I watched him laugh at that, already regretting the knowledge that I had to let him go. Oh, quit it, Warren, you can mope *after* he leaves. "Breakfast? I'm a good cook, I promise."

"Sounds great. I'm awful. I can barely manage cornflakes."

I made an exaggerated shudder. "How dreadful. A man needs to know how to cook, especially if he's a bachelor."

"Well, Alfred tried to teach me but--" he went silent for a minute, then looked up with a faintly wry smile. "It's...very strange to talk about my personal life. I'm not used to that. At least, not with anyone not in the, uh, 'family.'"

"I understand." I just had to say it, though. "But--excuse me, but I just can't believe it. Bruce Wayne?! He comes off as more of an airhead than--than me! I *never* would have guessed. And the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Superhero Role goes to: 'Bruce Wayne for the Batman!'"

He laughed, but there was something bitter in it. "More like, 'The Batman, as Bruce Wayne.' I don't think he--never mind, it's an old argument."

And probably more than it was important for me to know.

Out of the blue, something occurred to me. This couldn't be coincidence. "Robbie, I'm wondering--there was a circus poster in Nightcrawler's room, the Flying Graysons--"

As soon as I said it I knew I was right. Memory like a wave went over his face. "Uh-huh. My parents. Bruce made me his ward after they were killed."

His saying it reminded me I'd *read* that, and forgotten. Way to reopen an old wound. "I'm sorry."

"A long time ago." He shook it off and smiled. "So were you just kidding about breakfast...?"

***

"The morning after" can be awfully embarrassing. Awkward. Somehow Warren made it otherwise. Maybe it was the utter lack of expectation. I probably should have been ashamed of that--I'm really *not* into one-night stands--but it felt okay anyway. Like I'd needed this.

He smiled and rose and waved toward the bathroom. "I'll get things started, if you want to go ahead and shower or whatever--grab something to wear, too, my clothes should more-or-less fit." He vanished through the archway.

Gracious. And generous.

While I washed up I thought about the strange contrasts between us. He was born to wealth, I came to it later and was never really comfortable with it. His whole persona evoked light--the angel symbology, his golden looks--while I'd patterned myself after the Batman, a demon of the night. His gifts were genetic, mine learned. It would be unethical, but I could become an Olympic champion and he never could because of the prejudice against mutants. His family traveled in the highest social circles. My parents had been circus performers and gypsies.

But we both wore wings. And more importantly, we'd both *chosen* this life. Not so long ago I tried to convince myself that it had only been Bruce's obsession. It took taking the mask off and trying something resembling a normal life to discover that wasn't at all true.

"Just be Nightwing for awhile." I'd definitely have to try that. It sounded reassuringly simple.

I found Warren in the kitchen, the preparation of a monster breakfast as elaborate as anything Alfred ever devises well underway. "Can I help?"

"You? The man who can 'barely manage cornflakes'? Please." He grinned. "This is *my* domain. Sit down and keep out of my way."

I laughed and sat, snatching a handful of blueberries out of a bowl before he could swat me. "This is great. You didn't have to go through all this trouble."

Warren snickered. "What trouble? I'm showing off. Rare enough I have the opportunity for someone who might appreciate it." He paused. "Uh. I didn't mean--no pressure here, Robbie, it's *breakfast* and not a commitment, and I should probably shut up before I make a real idiot of myself. Or am I too late?"

"No, I know what you mean. It's okay. I feel...okay. Great, actually." Somehow it was important for me to let him know that. "I feel like I'd forgotten how to breathe, and you reminded me...."

"I'm so glad." He turned a dazzling smile on me. For the rest of the morning we talked of inconsequential things, the hazards of the superhero business, and anything but last night. Which made it easier when I left, with no more than a "drop by if you're in the neighborhood" from Warren before I went.

...and I would have felt more guilty about the finality on my side of that closing door except for one thing. While we were slowly eating our way through that gigantic breakfast, the phone rang. I did my best not to eavesdrop, but Warren's delighted "Jean-Paul!" and the look on his face as he spoke into the receiver said a great deal. When he came back to the table he said, "That was Jean-Paul Beaubier--you know, Northstar. He'll be in town next week and wanted to know--"

While he talked his face was lit, animated, and I had to smile to myself. Warren himself didn't seem to be entirely aware of his own enthusiasm, but considering what I'd heard about Northstar, he'd figure it out soon enough.

And me?

It was time for me to stop falling and start flying.



{end}



NOTES

Thanks to Dannell for: "AND the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Superhero Role goes to: 'Bruce Wayne for The Batman!'" That had me rolling.

Anne Higgins once used "Angstwing" in a post to describe Dick, so I stole that from her.

So where does this fit in continuity? Continuity -- *Bah.*

Er.... Well, I am a canon-slut, so here's how I figure it. ;)

Nightwing: Just after the "Now and Then" storyline that ran during the Jurgens' Titans team era. Dick's still trying to figure out his persona. What I wanted here was the transition between Angst!Dick and the confident, wonderfully complex character Chuck Dixon gives us in the *Nightwing* series.

Angel: She-Who-Knows-Warren, aka Tangerine, sayeth thusly: "Well, Jean's come back from the dead, and it's pre-Death, so you almost have to stick it between X-Factor #1 and X-Factor #10, which is about the times he was having monster problems with Candy." Sounds good to me. :) It was Tangerine who gave me the idea for this fic's ending, and yes, it IS a plug from me to urge you to go and read her fabulous Warren/Jean-Paul stories! They make a gorgeous couple. "Toronto" and its sequel "The Edge" can be found at Tangerine's Dream, http://members.tripod.com/~gaffaa/tangerine.html

Now, won't someone draw me a *picture?!*





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