Sea and Sky:
Debut Postscript 2
In the wake of the Wayne reception, Garth had more invitations to meetings and conferences than one Atlantean could keep up with, and requested and received a short leave from the Titans to deal with them. Dick, long accustomed to working two careers, grinned and told him he'd eventually get used to doing both at once, but to enjoy the "vacation" in the meantime. Garth gave him a narrow-eyed look and muttered something about how he'd take the super-villains over the businessmen any day. Exaggeration, no doubt, but Dick laughed about that all the way to the Tower.
He came in on the sound of adolescent outrage.
"...just not right!" Argent paused in her apparently ongoing tirade for a breath. "After what Nightwing said...."
Donna had her hand over her mouth, trying unsuccessfully to hide a grin. Roy wasn't making any such effort. They saw him and their smiles widened, though neither spoke up to enlighten him. "Hey, guys. What's going on?"
Toni turned, her eyes going wide and sympathetic. "Ohhhh, Nightwing, I'm so sorry!"
He'd definitely missed a step. "About what?"
"About *Garth!*" Her voice was full of sudden anger, which was odd, because Dick could have sworn she'd been harboring a secret crush on Tempest since she'd joined the team. "I was reading about the Wayne reception--"
Sometimes the necessity of a dual identity made life easier. Sometimes it came back to bite him in the ass. "Oh. That. Don't worry about it, Toni."
"How can you--after he-- I saw the pictures!!" Toni sounded personally insulted. "I mean, you guys seemed so happy, and there he was hanging all over that Grayson jerk--"
Roy gave up and started laughing out loud. Toni whirled and glared. "What's so funny?!"
"Ah. Toni, listen--" This wasn't the way Dick had intended this to go, not at all, but here it was. "It's okay, really."
"Okay?! That two-timing--"
"Argent!" That time with the Bat-voice, and Toni shut her mouth with alacrity. "I appreciate your, ah, defense. But it's *okay.* The thing is--" Dick let out a breath, silently asking Bruce to forgive him, and reached up to peel off his mask.
"Oh," Toni said in a very small voice, staring. "You're-- *oh.*"
"Yeah. We staged the whole thing so I could be with Garth as *myself.*"
"Well...then... I bet I look like an idiot." As the revelation sank in, her ire didn't so much diminish as...switch targets. "So everybody knew but me?"
"I'd meant to tell you," Dick said lamely, and far too late.
"Oh. Great. Even--even *Jesse* knew, didn't she!" At Dick's mute nod, she exploded again. "I've been a Titan longer than her! That--oooh!" Her hands glowing, Argent conjured a silvery energy path and flew out of the room, seething.
Dick looked sourly at Donna and Roy. "You two were a lot of help."
"Ah. Sorry." Roy sounded anything but apologetic. "That was way too funny."
Donna was only marginally more repentant. "Well, *you* hadn't told her, and it really wasn't right for us to without your permission."
"...yeah, okay. I screwed up." Dick looked regretfully in the direction Toni had flown. "Think she'll forgive me?"
"Sure. But that's only part of the problem, Dick," Donna said softly. "She doesn't have anyone her own age to talk to. She really doesn't speak to her parents anymore, and with Grant gone it's her and the five 'adults.' I think Toni's feeling lonely, and being left out of things didn't help. I should have realized that before."
"Me too." Dick sighed. "Okay. Something else to worry about. Meanwhile...."
"Go apologize," Donna urged.
He knocked at Argent's door, easily recognizable as *hers* by the extremely gaudy posters plastered all over it. "Toni, it's...Dick. Can I come in?"
A mutter emerged from inside that he chose to interpret as a "yes." He opened the door to see her sprawled across the bed, flipping angrily through a magazine. She refused to look at him, so he plunged ahead. "Look, Toni, I'm sorry. I honestly had meant to talk to you before the reception. Everything just happened too fast."
She grumbled under her breath and flipped through a few more pages, then glared up at him. "You made me feel really stupid."
Dick glanced around for a place to sit and settled for leaning against a corner of the dresser, careful not to displace the clutter there. "I'm sorry about that."
Her shoulders slumped further, her demeanor more hurt than anything. "I just--I'm sorry I yelled, but it's so *unfair!* I mean, if you told Jesse--"
His only defense was the truth. "I went to see her after she quit, to ask for her help with Vic."
"I guess--I thought--you'd tell me when I earned it. I didn't want to find out by accident," she finished glumly.
"Toni," he said firmly, "you wouldn't be *on* this team if you hadn't earned it." He hesitated, then went on. "You've heard about Terra."
She nodded, wide-eyed, but he held up his hand before she could reply, or maybe protest that *she* wasn't like that. "We...didn't entirely realize it until later, but she *broke* the Titans. Damaged something essential in the team. After that betrayal, it became clear that the Titans couldn't...allow that to happen again."
Never mind the other disasters that followed, because Raven and Joey and even Vic weren't in full control of their own minds during their respective crises. Tara *chose* her own path. Dick squelched the Brucelike mutter in the back of his head that wanted to condemn the team's entire history as a failed exercise and continued, "When we restarted the Titans this time, we were forced to recognize that we aren't like other teams. The Titans don't exist without trust. I know that sounds ironic, considering, but you would never have been invited into this incarnation of the team if we--if *I* wasn't certain that you could be trusted."
He hadn't intended to make a speech, but now Toni seemed pleased despite her frustration, and thoughtful. "That goes for Grant too?"
Dick shrugged, nodding. "He probably won't see the tabloids out at the reservation, but I'll let him know anyway. I didn't mean for you to find out this way, Toni. I've had a lot on my mind recently, but that's not an excuse."
Toni lost her pout and started to giggle, flipping emotional states like the teenager she was. "I can't believe you're Dick Grayson. Like, the perfect bachelor catch. Not any more, huh?"
"Not any more." He smiled. "My fans will have to live with the disappointment."
"Ohhh, if they only knew--" she cut herself off, looking startled. "So if you're Nightwing...does that mean...." She stopped again and shook her head. "Never mind. I don't want to know and you wouldn't tell me anyway."
Which was true. Bruce's secrets took precedence over her hurt feelings. But he was glad he wouldn't have to lie. "So are we okay?"
"Yeah. I guess. "
He considered her thoughtfully and decided on a strategic change of subject. "Toni, I've been thinking about your powers, and your training."
Toni sat up excitedly, as if she'd been jabbed with a pin. "Oh, yeah, really? I mean, what were you thinking about?"
"One of the reasons you accepted the offer to join the Titans was the chance to hone your powers, right?"
She nodded. "And I *totally* have, with everything we've been doing, and learning from you guys...."
Dick smiled at her eagerness. "We've noticed. But I was thinking about more directed applications. None of the senior Titans have your kind of solid-energy manipulation power, so that makes it a little difficult to give you explicit guidance. Theory is one thing, but I think you might benefit from working with someone with similar abilities."
"Like, um, who?"
"Think about it," Dick encouraged. "Whose powers are like yours?"
Toni hesitated a moment, visibly anxious about giving the correct answer. "The stuff I've been doing lately, making shapes out of energy, that's kind of like Green Lantern, isn't it? Only, way less powerful than him...."
He nodded. "Don't underestimate yourself. But that's exactly who I was thinking of, except GL is pretty busy with the JLA. Sentinel has similar powers, but he's likewise occupied in the JSA. But there *is* someone else, here in New York, and I think she'd make a perfect teacher. Do you know Jade?"
"Oh, yeah! She's really cool!"
"If you're okay with the idea, then, I'll ask her."
"Definitely!" Toni bounced on the bed. "Nightwing, that's completely awesome. I want-- I want to be the best Titan I can."
"You're doing fine, Toni."
He'd had the notion before, but seeing Jade at the reception reminded him that she'd been on the short list of heroes considered for the new Titans team. She was experienced and levelheaded--and after all, who *wouldn't* want a Green Lantern on their team? But Jenny-Lynn had made it clear she was interested in creating a life for herself outside the super-heroics. She preferred, at least for the moment, to be 'on call' only for emergencies.
Still, Dick thought she could probably be persuaded to lend a hand as a mentor, particularly to a girl who wasn't so far removed from the fashion-conscious teenager Jade had been herself. Judging by the fashion magazines scattered around her room, Toni would probably be fascinated by Jen's photography career. If they could connect on a social level as well, all the better.
Still overtly buoyed by his approval, Toni blurted out, "C'n I say something else?"
She grinned. "I'm glad I was wrong. I mean, about the cheating thing. You and Garth are, like, the cutest couple EVER."
"Uh. Thanks." He decided it would be best to flee before the blush he could feel creeping over his ears actually hit his face. "We've got a meeting in a bit. I'm heading down--"
"Is *he* gonna be there?" Toni asked, too casually, and Dick bit back a groan.
"This doesn't change anything as far as the *team* is concerned, Toni."
"No, I know," she agreed, far too quickly.
He wondered, but let it go. "Garth has other obligations for the next few days. Maybe a few weeks."
Right. Another reason to avoid PDA in the Tower, if Roy’s tendency toward loud and exaggerated gagging noises wasn’t enough. The last thing they needed was an over-interested teenager peering around corners at them.
"See you in a few," Dick said, and slipped out the door before Toni could rally another comment. As he beat a hasty retreat toward the meeting room, he mentally ran through the roster of those remaining Titans and JLAers who might discern his identity now that the photos from the reception were public. He'd call Grant as promised. Plastic Man had *just* enough restraint not to make any more of a deal about it than he already had, and besides, O'Brien had once maintained an undercover career as an FBI agent and understood the necessity of a secret identity. Batman had already put the fear into Rayner and Connor Hawke, though Dick had far more confidence in the latter's ability to keep his mouth shut.
That only left the repercussions for his civilian life. The reaction of the Bludhaven PD, he knew, would be its own trial. Garth had no idea about the kind of ingrained homophobia in the system, and Dick hadn't gone out of his way to enlighten him. If he knew, Garth would feel he'd added yet another difficult complication to Dick's life. Which wasn't the point at all.
But he'd deal with *that* when it came up. Right now, there was Titans business to attend to.