Sea and Sky:

Debut Postscript 3: The Last to Know

by 'rith, from chat dialogue by Carmen Williams


This fic is a product of 'brain terrorist', [tm]Alestar: "Y'know, when you're just minding your own business, and a story tackles you to the ground and screams, 'Fuck you--write me.'"


Archive: Ask first, please.
Fandom: Modern comicsverse. Sea and Sky series [Nightwing/Tempest]. The previous parts can be found at http://www.offpanel.net/kerithwyn/. Takes place shortly after "Debut," the reception fic.
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What I have done with them is mine.
Notation: This fic was constructed from 4+-year-old chat dialogue, mostly by Carmen. (See, I told you I saved everything. ;) All of the good lines are hers.
Rating: Nonexplicit m/m relationship. Worksafe, though I am told perhaps not drink + monitor safe. Thanks to Smitty for the backup, as always.



The most *infuriating* thing was that she might never have known if Marcia hadn't come by with a copy of the tabloid. The idea that they'd been keeping such secrets all this time, maybe even *laughing* about her ignorance--

That wasn't true, and she knew it. But Bridget Clancy prided herself on being no man's fool, and here two of them--under her own roof!--had right and properly pulled the proverbial wool over her eyes.

It was far too early to go marching up to the third floor and pound on their door, but to hell with it, she was doing it anyway.

After a few moments Garth opened the door to her banging and she took an instinctive step back. She'd known...she'd *thought* she'd known who he was, some kind of UN diplomat. Turned out that wasn't the half of it. "You--you're a superhero!" she blurted, much less accusatory than she'd intended but still straight to the point, so that was all right.

He blinked at her. "Sometimes," he agreed mildly.

The nerve of him, to stand there so calm. "And you're, I mean, you're not human!"

His voice stayed even, but she'd seen the flash of hurt in his eyes and dammit, why had she never noticed that before? *Purple* eyes. "I'm from Atlantis, yes. I don't think that makes me any less 'human.' Clancy, I thought--"

"Garth, who's--oh, hey, Clancy." Dick had come stumbling out into the living room, still obviously half-asleep and half-dressed. It was a distracting view, but she wasn't in the proper frame of mind to appreciate it.

"'Hey' yourself, you--" she moved to push past Garth, who obligingly shifted out of her way. Smart, that one. She waved the tabloid at Dick, still full of righteous indignation. "I had to read *this* to find out who you are!"

She threw it down on the living room table. Dick picked it up, saw the grainy black-and-white photo, and winced.

"I thought you knew," Garth murmured behind her, and then louder, "I thought you were going to tell her?"

Dick looked honestly shamefaced. "I forgot."

"Didn't think it was important to mention? 'Oh, Clancy, by the way, I'm Bruce Wayne's heir' and speakin' of that, what in the good Lord's name are you doin' HERE?!"

Dick shrugged. "Uh...paying rent?"

She could hear herself getting shrill, and didn't care. "Payin' rent?! You can afford to BUY this whole--" And then it hit her. Her mysterious benefactor-- "Grayson!"

"What? I needed a place to live." He frowned. "I need coffee."

She followed him, glaring over the partition between the kitchen and the living room. "So you just *bought* the building?"

"Are you complaining?" Dick switched on the coffeepot and stood in front of it like a junkie waiting for his fix. "I *like* this place, Clance. I was in a position to help, so I did."

"But...you...why didn't you tell me?" She sounded plaintive rather than outraged, definitely the wrong tact. She wasn't done being angry yet, not by a long shot.

He looked at her, finally having the grace to look embarrassed. "I didn't want it to be a big deal."

"It *was* a big deal. To me. To everyone who lives here!" She took a deep breath and then let it out with a gasp as she realized what *else* he'd done. "The Wayne scholarship. You didn't just happen to mention that. You set it up!"

Dick held up a hand. "Clancy--"

"And there I was, so proud thinkin' that I'd earned it, earned something that good, and you just--made a *call* and there it was!" She could feel tears burning at the corners of her eyes now, adding humiliation to her rage. "Who the hell gave you the *right?*"

"Clancy." Dick's voice wasn't loud, but it cracked with an authority she'd never heard from him before, and it stopped her rant in its tracks. "I did ask the selection committee to take a look at your application. But I promise you, they don't take unqualified applicants, regardless of who asks."

"But--"

He shook his head, turning back to the cabinet and retrieving two mugs. "Are you competent? Intelligent? Hardworking?"

"Yes, but--"

"Then what's the problem?"

"I," she said feebly, and couldn't finish. Dick poured the coffee and handed her one of the cups. She held it, staring down into the murky depths and trying not to sniffle too loudly.

She could feel her anger draining away. It was only her Irish temper that had led her to storm in here, and she'd never been one to carry a grudge. It helped that she liked them both, *wanted* to like them.

Clancy jumped at the voice behind her. He'd been so quiet, she'd almost forgotten Garth was there. "Neither of us meant for any of this to be such a shock."

"Oh, I--" she remembered her words at the door, wincing. She turned around to face him. "I'm *sorry!* I didn't mean, I don't really think--"

Garth waved her half-formed apology away. "Forget it. I have."

"But y'really are a *superhero.* That's...I mean, wow." She knew about Aaron's former career, but this was totally different. "With *powers* an' everything."

"Oh yeah." Dick came out from around the kitchen partition. "Very *impressive*...powers."

"I'm not talking to you yet," Clancy informed him without looking his way, "and your coffee really reeks, I'll have you know."

"You haven't even tasted it yet!" he protested, but she ignored him.

Garth looked like he was stifling a laugh. He didn't *seem* any different than the man she'd thought she knew, standing there in bare feet and sweatpants and a too-small t-shirt, just like he wasn't hot enough to melt a glacier and didn't have the most exotic 'career' she'd ever heard of. "And an ambassador, too."

"It's just who I am," he told her, and then over her head, "Some tea for me, please?"

Clancy heard Dick mutter under his breath and retreat back into the kitchen. She couldn't help smirking. "So how does someone like *you* hook up with someone like *that?*" She jerked her head backward. "I'm just not seein' the benefit on your side."

This time Garth did laugh. "Well, he's rich. That helps."

"Hey!" from the kitchen and more muttering.

"He's also very bendy," Garth offered, and Clancy spit out the first sip of coffee she'd taken. It wasn't terrible, not that she'd tell Dick that, but now she was laughing too hard to swallow.

"Lord, warn a woman," she said, giggling. "Oh, I need a napkin."

Behind her a hand reached out with a bunch, as surly as a hand could be. She took them without acknowledging its owner and cleaned off as best she could. "So those people who were here a couple of weeks ago, Roy an' the rest, were they...?"

"Titans, yes. Roy," Garth informed her, "would be very pleased that you remembered him by name."

She snorted. "*That* one. I've enough excitement in my life right now, thank you."

Dick's woeful voice emerged from the kitchen again. "Is the 'mock Dick' portion of the morning over now? Because I can go back to bed if you're not done."

Clancy winked at Garth and threw back, "Depends. Is there anythin' else you'd like to be tellin' me?"

He came out into the living room carrying a third mug, which he handed to Garth. "...not when your eyes are shooting sparks like that, no, not really."

She frowned at him. "Like the big bad rich boy *cop* is scared of me."

"Apparently he is, the way he neglected to tell you the truth." Garth sounded honestly annoyed about that, bless him.

"Garth!"

"Well, it's true."

"You're not helping my reputation, here."

Garth smiled benignly. "Don't worry. I won't tell your fellow officers that you're terrified of your landlady."

Dick spoke sullenly into his coffee. "Lots of people are scared of their landladies, you know. It's a common problem."

"Dick, ves'tacha, there is nothing common about your problems. Any of them."

She wondered at the unfamiliar word. Could it be Atlantean? She wanted to ask, but didn't want to interrupt Dick in full pout mode. "Could we not do this in front of--"

Clancy waved her approval. "No, no, go right ahead."

Dick raised an eyebrow at her. "I thought you wanted to yell."

"I want to strangle you. But listening to embarrassin' personal information might make me feel better, too."

Garth was proving to be even more helpful than she'd guessed. "I could make you a list."

"GARTH!"

"You heard her, Dick; I'm just trying to preserve your neck."

Dick folded his arms, a good trick when one hand still held a half-full cup. "I'm feeling outnumbered, here."

"And here I was thinking you took on the multiple scourges of Bludhaven every day. What did you call it? 'A wretched hive of scum and villainy.'"

"Well, yeah, but they're just trying to kill me. They don't mock me."

They clearly didn't need any help with the banter, but Clancy felt the need to interject. "I could do that."

Dick looked pained. "...please don't."

"Ah, because you don't want to hurt me?"

"That and I'm pretty sure it would hurt when you hit me."

She nodded in approval. "How right you are, Mr. Grayson."

Garth cleared his throat. "Clancy, I know you're upset, but I would appreciate it if you didn't kill him."

"Thanks, Garth."

"Spindling, folding, and mutilating are all right, though."

"Yep. That's it. I'm going back to bed." Dick stalked back into the kitchen, dumped his cup in the sink, and stomped down the hall and out of sight.

Clancy laughed softly and sipped at her coffee. "That was fun. He's not really mad though, right?"

"He's not a morning person," Garth said, smiling over his tea. "The opposite, in fact. The cranky comes with the territory."

She glanced at him, feeling suddenly and unexpectedly hesitant. "I, uh. Don't know much about the superhero thing. ...No one's going to attack the building, are they? Because you're here?"

She felt terrible for asking, but Garth just looked surprised. She hurried to explain, "It's just, you always hear about horrible things happening in Metropolis, and *Gotham*...."

"I...honestly don't think you have anything to worry about." Garth seemed to be picking his words carefully. "My particular...opponents...tend to live deep undersea."

Oh. That made sense, she supposed. "I can't even imagine. 'Atlantis,' it sounds like a Sci-Fi Channel special." She giggled nervously. "It's just so...fantastic."

"I'd be happy to tell you about it sometime."

She smiled. "I'd like that."

Garth glanced back toward the bedroom. "I did also want to apologize for Dick. The secrecy, it's...not entirely his fault. He'd become very used to living his own life, not being seen as Bruce's ward. That's a hard habit for him to break."

"I...guess I can understand that," she said slowly. "But y'really think--I mean, he *didn't* set up the scholarship for me, right?"

"He said he didn't, and I believe him," Garth replied, with such simple faith that Clancy had no choice but to accept it.

"That's that, then. But you be sure to tell him," Clancy felt compelled to declare, "that just because he *owns* the place doesn't mean he doesn't owe rent by the first of the month, just like everyone else. I'm tired of chasin' him down for it."

Garth laughed. "I'll tell him."

"Okay." She sighed. "I'd best be gettin' to the day's chores, anyway." She handed Garth the cup and went to the door, then turned around again. "Knowin' who you are, where you're from, it's like a fairy tale--an' 'Haven is anything but. No one really *chooses* t'live here. So why do you..." she didn't quite know how to finish, but Garth seemed to understand what she meant.

"I've heard Dick say, 'It's a hellpit, but it's home.'" He shrugged a little, smiling. "It's where he is."

There wasn't much she could say to that without getting mushy, so Clancy just grinned at him and opened the door. Well, one thing. "'Bendy,' huh?"

"Very."

She laughed about that all the way down the stairs.



{end}

* Aaron Helzinger, aka the former super-villain Amygdala, also a tenant in Clancy's building.

* ves'tacha (Romany), "beloved." A real word even before Mercedes Lackey got hold of it.



Extraneous Bonus Scene!

As promised, Dick had retreated back to bed and was now burrowed under the covers with his head buried under a pillow.

"You," Dick announced in a muffled but discernibly sullen tone as Garth entered the bedroom, "have a *mean* streak. Why did I not see that before?"

Garth put Dick's refilled coffee mug down on the bedside dresser. "Clearly, I was lulling you into a false sense of security."

"For my money, no doubt."

"You do maintain a very attractive...balance."

The pillow shifted and one blue eye glared out at him. "Keep that up and you can forget about how 'bendy' I am."

Garth stared down at him, trying not to laugh. "Dick...I believe that's--how would you say it?--'the biggest empty threat in the history of empty threats.'"

Dick growled but didn't bother to refute the assertion. Garth patted his shoulder and sat down on the bed. A few minutes passed in comfortable silence before Dick finally confessed, "I really did mean to talk to her."

"I know. I think she'll be all right with it."

"Yeah, I figured when she started insulting me." Dick sat up and grabbed the coffee cup, inhaling the steam with obvious pleasure. "What did she say to you, anyway? That she apologized for."

"I forgot," Garth said, straight-faced. Dick eyed him but clearly decided not to push.

The alarm chose that moment to go off. Dick swatted at it with irritation and sighed. "Another day in the wretched hive."

Garth just smiled. "I'll be here when you get home."

"Yeah. I know."



{really the end}