Sea and Sky:

Pretty in Fuschia

by Kael

A faint noise made her head come up, then she rolled her chair quietly away from the computer, across the smooth wood into the doorway.

She blinked a few times at the dark figure splayed in one of her kitchen chairs. Then, in the truest spirit of friendship and compassion, started laughing.

Covering her mouth didn't seem to be helping. Neither, for once, did the thought of how many times her visitor had *not* laughed at her at various and sundry open moments. But out of some respect for the absolute exhaustion shadowing blue eyes even as he managed to quirk a reluctant smile at her, she swallowed back the giggles with an effort that made tears come up in her eyes.

"New.." An incipient giggle made her swallow again. "New costume, Dick? I knew you guys were open, but I didn't think either of you was the Statement-making type." There. She hadn't laughed at all through that. Well, if close counted…

Dick took his elbows off his knees and leaned back, flopping his arms bonelessly over the seat-back. He waited for the new attack of snickering to fade before observing wryly, "Even if we were, I think it'd be Garth who did the color change. A fuschia Nightwing costume would work against that whole 'urban legend' thing, don't you think? Be just a little too visible at night..."

"Well, you could always try it for a few nights. Let the bad guys work on their target practice..." Except that really wasn't funny, to gauge by the rips in the heavy-duty material along his arms and legs. It had apparently been a night for someone to be managing close shots. Shaking her head a little, she threw him the hand towel she'd just doused in one of the potions she kept stashed. With the kind of visitors she got, it was always best to be prepared.

Dick picked off his domino and applied the towel gratefully. A pink so bright as to almost count as neon stained the cloth as he wiped what dye he could from his skin. The costume, he feared, was a dead loss, barring some miraculous suggestion from Alfred. The one time someone got a lucky shot and actually hit his decel line, and he had to be in a fabric plant. This had not been a good... month.

Sharp eyes traced over him as he carefully removed the gunk from his face. ~ Good thing his hair's black. On Jean-Paul that would've really been a mess. ~ The desire to laugh at him a bit more was almost overwhelming, but when she caught a glimpse of his eyes when he thought they were shielded under fabric, her humor settled back and warmed some.

"Long night, Robbie? I thought you got the bad guys? Without anyone getting hurt. And aren't you off to dazzle the crowds in New York in a couple of days?"

He shook his head at her a bit ruefully, as he turned over the now glowing towel and she shot it into the trash. It was only out of politeness that she asked questions. She was officially the Woman Who Knew Everything. Including, it seemed more and more lately, what was going to happen weeks and even months in advance. "Long year, and you know it." He quickly shook his head again when she blinked, at himself this time. Right. He was the one who was never supposed to whine. He made his choices and had to live with their complications. And bitching wouldn't help.

The way she looked at him then, suddenly a bit more inquisitive, made him groan internally. It really was just impossible to moan around people who actually cared if he was all right or not. Even getting started a little bit, he feared, would kick off a full-blown rant tonight. And then, once the things he was put out over came out in words and suddenly looked smaller, he'd add a bit of feeling embarrassedly silly to an already foul mood. "Right. We're actually taking a vacation." He tried to brighten his expression, but could tell from her quirked brow that he wasn't getting many points in the convincingness department. "Really. A series of parties and things in New York. No real work - just mixing and mingling a bit, Garth making contacts. It's going to be great."

She kept blinking at him calmly, not giving a smile in response to the slightly over-hyper words. He considered an even more enthusiastic monologue, but she really did know him too well for that. Finally he sighed, and let his head rest on the table. "I need a vacation."


"I want to spend some time with Garth. Away from all this."

"Of course you do."

"I have things in motion in Bludhaven. Things that will still be in motion while I'm gone. Things I'll still have to *deal* with when I get back."

"I can see that."

"And I'm swamped as it is. Add what time ticks away when I'm out of town..."

"And you feel like you're going to be buried."

He nodded against the table, a motion mostly of chin and neck. "I'm already in up to my chest."

"And even though you need a vacation and want to spend time with Garth..."

"Right now, I almost don't want to go." Damnit. And how ungrateful was that? To be not-wanting, even just a little bit, this trip that had Garth's eyes glowing every time he mentioned it. To be interfering with the pleasure Garth was taking in the idea, to not be able to share in the anticipation...

"Hmm. Maybe..."

He shot her an irritated glance without lifting his head. "What?"

"Maybe you don't want to want to go, because it makes you think of all the things you should already have done and don't. And maybe the stuff you're dealing with right now is just too stressful, and so anything you think about *anything*, not just the trip, gets dragged into something negative, too. Maybe if you let Garth know that you aren't letting yourself think about the trip except to make preparations, until you're actually ready to go, so that you *won't* get your stress tangled up with it, he would understand why you aren't already doing handstands in anticipation."

The irritated look went darker. Like anyone besides he and Garth knew what was going on between them. "Thanks. I knew I had a private All Knowing shrink for a reason."

"Or *maybe*," she over-rode him. "I'm crazy. And don't know what I'm talking about. But at any rate, maybe just admitting that right now sucks, and leaving it until you actually go to let yourself feel whatever you're going to feel about it might help at least keep something that's supposed to be a good thing from adding to a mental meltdown."

He looked up at her and smiled then. That had gotten to be an awfully small voice there at the end. What he thought about any of it was none of her business, of course. But she was She Who Knows Everything for a reason, after all. And even when she didn't know what she was talking about, she meant well.

With a long stretch he knew she'd appreciate, he managed to find his feet again. His domino was slipped back into place without thought. It was a long trip back to the Haven, and there would be a lot to do when he got there.

As well as a warm body for him to sleep against. Maybe he could just take that as good enough, for tonight.

While her eyes were still almost greedily preoccupied with his body, he leaned down and brushed a kiss on her forehead. "Thanks for the pep talk, rith." And he was out the window and gone.

His Writer looked after him and shook her head ruefully. Then kicked her computer chair to roll up to the kitchen table and assumed the position he'd abandoned, eyebrows thumping down onto wood. "Pep talk. Right. Ah well..."