Sea and Sky I:

A Sea Change

by Dannell Lites


Not mine ... no profit ... don't sue:):)

Rated R for m/m sex so if'n that offends ya'll use that ol' delete key NOW!

For 'rith because she gave moi the idea in the first place:):)

Full fathom five thy father lies Of his bones are coral made: Those are pearls that were his eyes: Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange. Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Hark! now I hear them,--ding-dong, bell.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act 1 Scene 2

Garth has changed a lot, lately.

I mean, it's more than just the new name and the new costume. Or even the new powers. Now, all of that's great, understand. The new costume is way flattering and Donna assures me that it's got great fashion sense. "All that red and black is very striking, don't you think so, Dick?" In her civilian identity of Donna Troy, Wonder Girl isn't one of the world's best fashion photographers for nothing. She knows style when she sees it. Garth's new name, Tempest, rocks, too. I mean, c'mon ... Aqualad? I'm pretty sure he changed it for the same reasons I did; it reminds him too much of Arthur. Oh, excuse me .. I mean Orin; his grand majesty Orin The Second, King of Atlantis And Poseidonis and All The Realm of the Seven Seas.


I wonder where the scars came from, though. Something really bad happened there, I think. Garth won't say. He just ignores them and so do the rest of us, now. If I didn't pretty much suspect how badly it must have hurt when he got them, I might even like them. They make him look kinda rakish. This business of being a superhero is rough sometimes. Bruce has so many scars that even Alfred's lost count. I've got a couple myself. Aquaman lost a hand. Garth lost ... something else. His innocence, I guess.

At first when I saw those scars I thought Arthur might have done it. Yeah, I know. Unthinkable, huh. Oh yeah?

<"Why didn't you just use a punching bag?">

I heard him say that. I may have been busy kicking stubborn JLA butt at the time, but my ears work just fine, thank you. That's exactly what he said to Arthur just before they beat the crap outta one another and some odd things fell right into place. Jesus Christ. I haven't been real fond of Aquaman for a long time but that sure iced the freaking cake, let me tell you.

Garth was always shy. Hell, I think one of the most beautiful things about him are his eyes; those wide violet eyes are killer. But he hates them. Always has. From the minute he was born those violet eyes got him into trouble. As a baby he was exiled from his city for no other reason than superstition about those eyes. Poor Garth. Always the outsider, nose pressed to the glass, looking in at the belonging he couldn't share. Even in the Titans it happened like that. I mean, nobody planned it that way, honest to God. It just happened. And he tried so hard to fit in ... it was almost painful to watch. We all tried. But his world was just too different from ours. We could always depend on him, don't get me wrong. If we needed Garth he was there for us, ready to storm the Gates of Hell if we asked him. And once or twice we did. He didn't fail us, ever.

But he missed out on all the good stuff about being a Titan. All the fun things; the parties, the music, all the quiet times when we just kicked back and talked. In the beginning he'd hang with the rest of us when the job was done and it was Miller Time. He was always smiling and laughing. But in his eyes, I'd see puzzlement and confusion. He didn't really understand the jokes and all the horseplay. We'd talk about school and he'd be left out because he didn't go to school. We'd bitch about our adult mentors and what a pain it was being a kid and Garth's face would get real still. He'd almost never say a word about Arthur. Now I know why, but back then it just seemed like he was extra quiet all the time.

We'd be relaxing with Soder Cola and junk food or pizza and Garth would just say he wasn't hungry or thirsty and everybody would shrug their shoulders and go on. Donna was the one who finally figured that one out. Surface food must have been mondo strange for him. And she tried to help she really did. It wasn't her fault it turned into a disaster. I'll never forget the nauseous look on Garth's face when he found out what "sushi" was. Thank God nobody laughed. And anytime Roy or Wally would crank up the stereo to earbleed volume and pump out metal or, God help us, Broadway Show tunes Garth would bit his lip, shake his head as if it hurt and leave the room after a minute or two. When you're used to the quiet of the ocean depths, I guess rock and roll is a little rough on sensitive ears.

"What?" cried the oblivious Roy. "What'd *I* do?"

"Mister Sensitivity, that's you, Harper," Donna rolled her eyes at our resident headbanger and clapped the earphones down firmly over his ears. "These might be a good idea! Get a clue!"

"Hey!" said Roy, "where'd Gillhead go?" Donna whimpered and mockingly began banging her head against the wall of Titans Lair.

I went to find Garth and bring him back, but he only smiled and excused himself. I remember thinking he might have a date with Tula, Aquagirl, and being very happy for him. I guess none of us ever really knew how much he loved her until it was too late.

Until she was dead.

We didn't see Garth for a long time after that. He just seemed to fall away somehow, to get lost in the shuffle of our busy lives. I'm not making any excuses, believe me. I don't think things would have been a lot different if he *had* been around more, you know? I mean, Jesus Christ, if we can overlook something like Speedy becoming a junkie under our very noses I make no bones about the fact that we'd probably have continued to ignore Garth's bruises and loneliness. Hey, I never said we were real bright about common things, okay? Give us a supervillain to stomp and the Titans are hell on wheels. But anything else and we're likelier than most to put in a less than stellar performance. To be kind.

Garth isn't the only one who's changed, of course. We all have, I guess. None of us are kids anymore. God, it's hard to believe, but Donna is a widow with two young step kids and a couple of busted relationships behind her. Roy is an ex-junkie, a single parent with a beautiful baby girl to raise all by himself. And Wally ... Wally is ... gone. Just gone. No one seems to really know quite what happened to him, but ... Jesus, he might even be dead. Or not.

And me?

I've changed, too. These days I'm more at ease with myself than I used to be. Being with Joey taught me that. Even Bruce noticed.

"My God, I'm proud of you Dick," he told me, "you're a better man than I am. You've put the two halves of your life together. Dick Grayson *is* Nightwing. There's room in your world for them both." Can you believe it? Yes, he actually said that to me. Christ, I love that man.. I wanted to reach out and hold him so bad. If things had been different ... He looks so tired these days. It breaks my heart just to see him like this. Since the quake, I don't think he's slept more than a couple hours straight at a time. Congress has written Gotham off. Hell, *everybody* has written Gotham off. Everybody but Bruce. He just refuses to quite. It's making me crazy. Every day I wake up expecting to hear from Alfred or Babs. Any time the phone rings or I download an urgent e-mail I cringe, expecting ...

I've been to too many funerals in my short life. God sometimes I can't believe I'm only 23. I feel so old ... When they laid Joey to rest in the earth, they buried part of me with him. For most of my life, I've been expecting that call from Alfred, that e-mail from Babs ... and you know what? When it actually happens, and it will, I still won't be ready. I'll never be ready.

All my lovers have had exotic eyes. I've got this thing for strange eyes. When I was 12 I had the biggest crush on Elizabeth Taylor and those violet eyes of hers. I hated Richard Burton's guts. I was so devastated when I found out her eyes were really blue and that she wore rose-tinted contact lenses to make them violet that I didn't speak to poor Alfred for a week after he told me. It was much worse than finding out there was no Santa. Joey's eyes were green; the most startling shade of sea green you can imagine. Kory's eyes are like those green cat's eyes that shine in the dark ... green as old, polished jade. Bruce's eyes ... Bruce's eyes may be a common color, blue, but there's absolutely nothing else ordinary about them. Nothing. Looking into Bruce's eyes is like floating on the surface of the sea where Garth lives ... there are signs and portents of the depths beneath but they're well guarded. And you're always in danger of drowning.

Well, Bruce and I have never been lovers so I guess it doesn't matter ... but I've been known to fall head over heels for somebody because their eyes remind me of Bruce. God help me.

So, I guess it isn't surprising when you think about it that the first thing that attracted me to Garth was his eyes. Those deep violet eyes. And his hands. He has such elegant hands. Slender and supple, with slim agile fingers. My Mom used to call hands like that the "hands of a great artist or a great lover." But Garth can bend steel with those fine boned hands. And he knows real magic now. That part was hard to get behind, at first. But I've seen him do it. And to focus his mystical energies he uses his hands to gesture. The first time I saw him do that, I almost embarrassed myself. I watched him gesture, the water of the pool at Titan's Tower warmed itself, bubbling like a Jacuzzi and I got hard as a rock. Just from watching his hands.

Joey had great hands too. Just like Garth; an artist's hands. Joey used his hands to speak and watching them move and flow in Sign was always a delight. The first time I ever felt those graceful hands moving over my naked body I was lost. All Joey had to do was lay those hands on me and I arched my back, gasped for breath and it was almost all over. Joey wouldn't let me apologize.

"More than one way to speak with the hands," he Signed, his eyes laughing.

I've been imagining for a while now what Garth's hands would feel like against my skin. It makes me shiver. I like Garth's new confidence. It's nothing new, really. He's always been sure of himself. The only difference is that now he doesn't mind if others can see it, too. He still doesn't like being alone, but he's come to terms with that, now. So have I.

And no, I don't much like it either.

I kept thinking about those hands and how they would feel ...

And then one day, I found out.

I don't know why I followed him. Or why he let me. Maybe we were just both tired of being alone. But there he was, sitting on the beach at Montauk Point at ebb tide, watching the light of the dying sun turn the waters of the sea the color of blood. Without a word I sat beside him and enjoyed the beauty of the waning day, the waves lapping at my feet.

"Do you miss it sometimes?" I asked. "Atlantis, I mean." Smiling, he shook his head, but then nodded in reconsideration.

"Sometimes," he admitted, low voiced. "Becoming Arthur's Councilor was a mistake. I wasn't ready. But like the man says, you live and learn or you don't live long." He looked at me curiously.

"What about you?" he wanted to know. "You miss Gotham? Bruce?" I deflected that one like a badly aimed bullet, believe me. And in a hurry, too.

""You know what I miss?" I replied lightly. "Tacos, man. Ramone's Tacaqueria on Fullmont. Greasiest tacos ever inflicted on mankind. Order one, crunch that sucker and watch your arteries harden." I smacked my lips as if I could taste one right there. And then I could've kicked myself remembering the sushi debacle.. Garth is a strict vegetarian. Christ, why was I always putting my foot in my mouth around him? But he surprised me. He laughed. With a flourish, he snapped his fingers and mimed as if they held Spanish castanets.

"Ole!" he cried.

Remember what I told you about those hands? God, I was in trouble, now. In a speedo, no less.

I felt like burrowing into the sand to hide, but it was too late. My traitorous body had a will of its own. Instinctively, I brought my knees together to shield my arousal from his eyes. And came damn close to doing myself an injury. If my erection didn't grab Garth's attention, then my startled yelp of surprised pain certainly did. With a resigned sigh, I fell onto my back and covered my eyes with my forearm.

"Jesus," I muttered, "I need a leash for that thing!"

The hands that moved my arm and left me staring up into dark violet eyes were gentle but firm. Garth was smiling. "Oh, I don't know," he said, "it looks like it's ready to rock and roll to me. Be a shame to ... confine ... it again." He leaned closer. "Tragic, in fact." For all the lightness of his words, his kiss, when his lips touched mine, was hungry, demanding. It took my breath away and I found myself gasping. I began to ache for Garth's touch, but I determined to let Garth set the pace for this. Startled as I was, it never once occurred to me to try and stop him. Different lovers bring out different parts of me. With Joey I was aggressive, wild. With Garth it began to look as if I were going to be passive. That suited me just fine.

I gasped as Garth's hands whispered down my arching body to engulf my nipple, making it pucker and harden into a point. Still moving almost maddeningly slowly, he moved down my chest and stomach, my muscles clenching with pleasure as Garth used his tongue. Then he dipped into the hollow of my navel and my hands dug themselves into the wet sand beneath me.

Moaning, I looked up at Garth, head thrown back, eyes closed, body moving under the desire coursing through him, and thought that I'd never seen a more beautiful sight in my life. He kissed my hipbones, moved down my thighs, then knelt between them. He was in no hurry. He breathed gently on the weeping tip of my hardness, and I arched into the caress. When Garth finally took me into his mouth I was thrashing and writhing beneath him. He moved his lips further down me, using his tongue to tease me. I was close, on the brink, moans and pleas for release growing louder, as Garth worked his magic on my body. He spiraled his tongue down my length, tickling the sensitive underside and I erupted like Vesuvius.

Trembling and shaking like a leaf in a storm wind, I clung to him. The sea crashed into the shore and cooled us with it's waters. When I could speak at last, I murmured into the hollow of his throat, "My God, Garth ... My God!" Silent, he held me until the trembling passed. After a few moments, gone so soon, his embrace loosened but I held fast to his body.

"Not yet," I asked, my voice unsteady. I didn't care. "In a minute ... then - then you can let me go. Just ... not now, okay?" I didn't want him to disappear from my life again like a tide into the sea he loved so well. All right. Call me pathetic. Call me a sucker for a pretty face. Call me a pervert. Call me whatever you like. Just don't call me alone. I was tired of losing people I loved. Or never having them in the first place. I'm a fool. I *know* that. Garth may not be the one. Probably isn't.

But ... then again ...

He just might be. If I didn't try I was never going to know was I? He was warm and alive and desirable. And he ... he ...

I lifted my head. I had to know.

"Garth?" Eyes closed fast against the dying beauty all around us, he stirred at the sound of his name.

"Hmmmm?" The raise and fall of his chest and the deep sound of his breathing was reassuring. I was pretty sure he wasn't going to just disappear. And if this was a dream, I sure didn't want to wake up any time soon. But of a sudden I couldn't think of a damn thing to say. Imagine that ... me, Nightwing, the former Robin, the back half of "Batman and," caught flatfooted without a pun to my name.


I had to smile at that. No one's called me "Robbie" in forever. Not since the early days of the Teen Titans and that so long ago that there are no known survivors of that distant Era. And Garth was so formal back then, he almost never used my unofficial nickname. I'm not sure why hearing him use it now made me feel so good. Nostalgia, most likely. I chuckled.

"Yeah, Gillhead?" Garth poked me sharply in the ribs but I swear he giggled.

"Leaping Lungfish, Robbie!" he cried in a higher, younger voice than the low, sexy one he has now. "I think I'm having a Roy flashback! can it be? Yes! Yes, it is! It's ... The Return Of The Mouth That Walks Like A Man!" He covered his eyes against the horrible sight and we both dissolved into laughter for a long time. Until I finally found my voice again and my courage.

"I was gonna ask you why," I admitted to him. "Why? Why now? Why did you ...? Was it just a -- a whim or something?" He opened those beautiful eyes and I knew I was lost. That it didn't matter what he said; that I was going to see this thing through 'til the end.

Whatever that turned out to be.

His arms tightened around me.

"A whim?" he said. He cupped my face with his strong hands. "No," he answered his own question, "I've wanted to do this for a long time. Since I was a kid, really. Some Detective you are, Boy Wonder. Didn't you ever figure out that *you* were the reason I kept hanging around the Titans? Why I kept coming back? I had the world's biggest crush on you and you never even noticed, you cad!" He draped one forearm melodramatically over his brow and cried, "Oh Rhett, Rhett!! Whatever shall Ah *do*?" in the very worst southern accent I have ever heard in my entire life. I grinned like a fool.

Jesus, I thought dazed, I didn't even know they *had* "Gone With The Wind" in Atlantis ... I tried not to think about it.

"Frankly, my Dear," I began in my best Clarke Gable impression, then switched in mid sentence to my normal voice, "don't give up your day job, okay?" The sound of his musical laughter carried me away like a sea wave and for the first time in far too long I felt young and alive. That was when I think I decided that every thing just might, just *might*, be okay after all.

At least for a little while.

And if ... eventually they weren't ... well, like Scarlett O'Hara, the original Steel Magnolia, I'd think about that another day ...