Sea and Sky XXIII:
"When Titans Attack!"
Archive: Ask first, please.
Notations: m/m relationship, nothing explicit.
Fandom: Modern comicsverse. S&S series. The previous parts can be found at
Disclaimer: All characters property of DC Comics. What I have done with them is mine.
NOTE: Setup and some dialogue taken from Titans Secret Files #2. Notes following.
"Mmmm." Dick drew back from the kiss barely far enough to breathe. "Love you."
"And you." Garth smiled and pulled him back in, closer, his mouth gliding over Dick's cheekbones, his chin, his throat, letting his hands slide down--
Dick's stomach growled.
He dropped his head to Garth's shoulder, laughing helplessly. "Sorry! I'm starved, I haven't eaten since breakfast, been too busy...."
"Occupational hazard." Garth grinned and let him go. "I'm hungry too but I suppose we should have dinner first."
"Well, when you put it like *that*--" Dick reached out but Garth evaded his hands, chuckling.
"Later, Robbie. Without distractions."
Dick sighed hugely but headed toward the kitchen. "Promises, promises. ... Oh, hell, look at this." He waved toward the nearly empty 'fridge. "The cupboards are bare."
Garth rolled his eyes. "As if you didn't know that very well, and were only waiting for this moment so you could order takeout."
Dick's eyes turned pleading. "Pizza?"
"Thai," Garth countered.
"The Chinese place around the corner is fast and they deliver, too."
"ONLY if you tell them not to put MSG on anything."
"Deal." Dick picked up the phone while Garth headed into the back to strip out of his suit and rehydrate. Halfway through his shower Dick came in and perched on the sink's edge, watching. He'd changed into a black T-shirt and loose gray pants. "Don't mind me, go on doing what you were doing...."
"Voyeur." Garth deliberately turned his back and Dick laughed.
"I like that view, too. Mmm. In fact--" he started to reach out, then pulled his hand back regretfully. "Nope. Can't do that. If I miss the delivery kid's knock they'll never take my calls again and *then* where would we be?"
"Forced to shop for real food?" Garth suggested, turning back and stretching a little under the spray, for effect.
Dick's eyes went wide. "Oh, you *tease.*"
Garth laughed, turning off the shower and reaching for a towel. "I'd only be teasing if I didn't intend to follow through later." He turned his head, listening. "There's the door," he said, five seconds ahead of the knock.
"Show-off," Dick threw back, and went to answer it.
They'd made a comfortable "nest" of pillows in front of the couch and were starting to dig in when Garth put his container down and shook his head slightly.
Dick frowned. "Is something wrong? I *told* them not to use MSG."
"It's not that." Garth closed his eyes. "Three, two, one--"
There was the brief rattle of a lockpick in the doorknob and then the door flew open.
"Okay, guys, we know you're in here, hope to hell you're decent!" Roy bellowed as he stepped inside, with Donna, Wally, and Jesse right behind him.
Garth gave Roy a wry smile. "If we weren't, would that have stopped you?"
"I knew we should have called first," Wally muttered.
Dick got up, the initial feeling of *interruption* pacified by the sight of the boxes in Jesse's hands. "You brought *pizza.* I guess you can stay." He gave Garth a triumphant smirk.
Garth sighed. "Explain to me how you always get your way without even opening your mouth."
Before Dick could respond, Roy had started shouting. "TMI!! Waaaaay too much information!!"
"Oh, hey, don't stop on our account," Donna said, eyes twinkling, and Jesse gave an emphatic nod of agreement.
Wally shoved his fingers in his ears. "Not listening, la la la la I can't heaaar you...."
Dick laughed and patted Wally on the back. "It's okay. We'll try not to shock your virgin ears." Roy snickered but Dick didn't give him another chance to interject. "I'm glad you came with these guys."
"Hey, I might not be a Titan right now but we're still friends, right? It's still my job to make sure you have a social life." He glanced at Garth. "I mean. More of one. Um."
Roy rolled his eyes. "It's a miracle Linda lets you out of the house, Mister Oblivious."
"Jerk." Wally flicked the back of Roy's head, shrugged half-apologetically at Dick and Garth, and headed for the kitchen to get plates.
"Make yourselves at home," Dick said dryly, watching his friends do just that.
Donna looked momentarily unsure. "But we're intruding, we should go...."
Smiling, Dick took the twin sixpacks of beer she held. "No, you're not. Stay. It's good to see you." It was, too, away from the Tower where he didn't have to be Titans leader. And it was like--well, not that any of them disapproved of his relationship with Garth outside of Wally's reflexive discomfort, but kind of like *sanction.* He grinned broadly, suddenly too pleased to contain it. "Grab a seat, Jess, can I get you anything?"
"I'm good." Jesse smiled back and Dick could see her faint hesitance fading too. He could imagine the cause; he and Garth and Donna and Wally and Roy had known each other half their lives. It wouldn't be easy for her to be here and *not* feel like a little bit of an outsider.
That made him think of the other missing Titan. "Hey, did you leave Toni at the Tower by herself?" Not that he was quite ready to reveal his identity to Argent, his old Bat-reflexive protectiveness-of-ID kicking in, but it was probably rude to exclude her.
Roy answered, "She took Lian to a movie. I gave Chanda the night off--she had some personal business to attend to. Toni was happy to do it."
Dick nodded and made a mental note to think about Toni and his ID later, and then put it out of his mind. He watched Wally and Jesse squabble over the pizza like siblings, fighting for the first slice, and stepped in to grab it himself. "Host's toll." He glanced over to see Garth talking softly to Donna. His lover was here, his friends were here, and for once all seemed *right* with the world. He dropped down in front of the couch again, smiling to himself as he started in on the pizza.
After a moment Garth hugged Donna, kissed her cheek, and sat down again on the floor next to Dick. He picked up a carton and went back to his postponed dinner. For a couple of minutes they all ate in companionable silence, and then Roy looked up, grinning. "You know, Jesse...there's this Titans tradition."
She studied him, eyebrow raised, obviously fearing the worst. "What's that?"
"Telling stories about the old days. And the best part is...." He leaned forward conspiratorially. "We get to embarrass Robbie there with things he'd rather we forgot."
Dick snorted. "And Roy brings them up every chance he gets."
"SOMEbody's gotta keep you humble, Grayson."
Jesse started to laugh. "Ohhh...you guys." She shook her head, smiling. "I don't take back what I said before. As a group you're still disorganized, reactionary, and incestuous."
"Now more than ever," Roy said, smirking.
"BUT," she went on, ignoring him, "I see what you meant by 'family,' too. It's really wonderful."
Garth smiled. "You're now part of it too, you know. 'Titans Together.' You'll always have that."
"I'm beginning to realize." She ducked her head a little, then looked up at them again. "I'm truly flattered you let me in."
"We know talent when we see it," replied Donna, smiling at Jesse's blush. "But speaking of other Titans...have any of you guys heard from Vic? Last I knew he was heading out to L.A. to see Gar."
"Yeah." Wally snickered. "I hear Bette is all over him to join Titans West."
"Oh, yeah? Hm." Dick thought that over for a second. "You know, if Vic signs on, I wouldn't be surprised if she could pull it off."
They were staring at him in disbelief now, all except for Jesse who'd never met Bette and didn't remember the air-headed tennis pro with a massive and obvious crush on Robin. "No, seriously. She's changed a lot, or I wouldn't have given her the go-ahead for T-West. She was very professional during that whole thing with Bushido--"
"Well, I did notice she wasn't drooling all over you, that's a start."
Four voices answered him. "Shut UP, Roy!"
Wally laughed. "Ah, yes, the *other* team saying...learn that one, Jesse, you'll need it."
"I gathered." She glanced around at them, grinning. "So you were saying, old stories?"
Garth spoke up before Roy had the chance. "There was the time 'Speedy' decided it would be a good idea to try to shoot Batman in the back."
Jesse's eyes went wide while the others chuckled. "You're kidding."
Donna shook her head. "Nope. We were finishing up on a case, one the Teen Titans had ended up working with the JLA. While all the 'grownups' talked, Roy was messing around as usual." She smiled fondly at him. "Making Bat-ears with his fingers. Leering behind Zatanna's back. You know. Kid stuff. Then he pulled out a blunt arrow and aimed it at Batman's back. We thought he was kidding, but he let it go."
"He caught the frickin' arrow," Roy interjected, sounding like the boy he'd been then. "He didn't even *turn around,* and he caught the frickin' arrow!"
Wally grinned. "Roy's been a little spooked by the Bat ever since."
"Hey, man, at least I don't have to work with him. Don't know how you do it."
"He's not so bad." Wally shrugged, then smirked. "Especially with Ky-- the new Green Lantern on the team. HE can be the rookie who gets all the disapproving glares."
Jesse frowned. "But doesn't he encourage younger heroes? I mean, there's another Robin now, he can't be THAT hard to work with."
For a moment they all stared at her, and then Roy started to laugh. "Ohhhh, Jesse, that's *priceless.*"
"That's enough, Roy." Dick's voice offered both apology and explanation. "Batman can be...tough...on those who he thinks don't measure up to his standards. Which isn't a slam against GL, it only means it'll take time. I trained with him most of my *life* and it's only recently that I think he's come to regard me as...well, I won't say as an equal, but--"
"He does," Garth said firmly. "He trusts you like no one else. With reason."
Dick opened his mouth to reply, closed it, and reached over to take Garth's hand and squeeze. He left his hand resting in his lover's while the conversation turned around them, drew them back in, and their friends smiled or grinned a little or merely accepted that they *were* and left it at that.
Sometime later Donna quietly picked up the pizza boxes and vanished into the kitchen. When she didn't reemerge after a few minutes, Dick got up and went after her.
She was washing a plate, mechanically scrubbing at the already-gleaming surface. Dick reached over and turned off the water. "Will you go back in there and sit down? You don't have to clean up after us!"
Donna nodded, reaching for a towel, drying her hands automatically. "I know, I just.... I just..."
Dick reached over to take her shoulders, turning her to face him. "Hey... what's the matter?"
"Nothing. It's nothing." She tried to turn away.
Dick wasn't about to let it go. "Donna, this is *me* here, remember?" The one who's known you most of your life, he didn't have to say, who helped you find your family, who stood with you at your wedding.
Without looking at him, Donna said, "It's hard to explain, but telling all these old stories, well, it makes me *sad*--because even though I remember them it's sort of like it's a story someone told me. I can see the memories, Dick, but I can't *feel* them!" She took a deep, hitching breath. "I thought I'd gotten past this, really I did. But sometimes I don't feel like a real person."
There wasn't anything he could say; it wasn't required. Dick pulled her in close, holding her tight, while she buried her head against his shoulder. She wasn't crying, not really, but he could feel the tension in her body, how much she'd been holding it in. And *that,* he thought, he could try to do something about.
"You know, Donna," he said softly, "we're always here for you, if you need to talk or get away.... You're welcome any time."
Donna muttered against his shirt. "I don't want to intrude on you guys."
"You'd never be doing that. I love you, you know that. So does Garth."
"...I know." She lifted her head to meet his eyes. "That helps."
"Just don't let it all build up, okay?"
Donna snorted and started to smile. "That, from the master of internalizing his own problems... You *have* changed, Dick." She leaned back a little to regard him. "I knew Garth'd be good for you. It's nice to see you so...relaxed." With a catlike grin she added, "I won't speculate on *how* he relaxes you...."
Dick groaned and tried not to blush. Donna giggled.
Meanwhile, out in the living room, Roy's mouth had finally run down. For a moment the four of them looked at each other, still smiling, and then Garth said quietly, "Thank you."
"For what, Gillhead?"
Without a glance in his direction, Garth picked up a pillow and hurled it at Roy's head, hitting him in the face. He ignored the resultant exaggerated "oof!" and said, "This visit. It was unexpected but very welcome."
Wally hesitated for a second before replying. "Well, we wanted to see--how you guys were doing. You know. Make sure Dick wasn't working himself into exhaustion as usual."
"And to make sure YOU weren't working him into exhaustion," Roy said with an evil leer directed less at Garth than at Wally.
Wally went still, then said softly, "Hey, Roy?"
Suddenly Roy was yelling and clutching at himself. Wally sat where he'd been before, but he was now wearing a very satisfied grin. "Never taunt a man who can give you a super-speed wedgie."
Roy got up, muttering, and hobbled his way to the bathroom while the others laughed. Dick and Donna came back out of the kitchen and she snickered as he went past. "Couldn't resist, could you?"
Garth shook his head mournfully. "It's a sad, sad fact-- " he broke off. "Dick, Clancy's whistling outside, she'll probably knock in a minute." To the others, he added, "Our landlady."
"Want me to vamoose?" Wally didn't get up, but since he could disappear virtually instantly, he didn't have to.
Dick knew what he was asking. Garth didn't hide his Titans' status... but he hadn't gone out of the way to announce it to the rest of the building, either. Wally was probably the most recognizable among those heroes with public identities. If Clancy identified him as the Flash, it would simply be a matter of telling her about Tempest. Clancy would find out eventually anyway. But then again, this wasn't Keystone City, and Wally's face wasn't plastered over the billboards here. While his identity was public, without the costume he seemed like any other guy if you didn't know who you were looking at. "Nah. Stay. We'll out Garth as a Titan if she recognizes you."
Wally snorted. "Cute. So she, uh, knows about you two?"
"We're not hiding, Wally," Dick replied softly. "In fact, if certain negotiations go as we hope, Garth and I will end up considerably *more* public. Sometimes the best concealment is in plain sight, you know that."
"Hm. I guess." A knock on the door preempted anything more Wally might have said. Dick threw him a questioning glance as he got up to answer the door, but Wally waved him off.
Dick shrugged and opened the door wide. "Hey, Clancy! C'mon in."
"Hi, guys, didn't mean to interrupt, I wanted to tell y'that I fixed the light in the hall--don't want t'intrude on your company," she said, glancing around at the group curiously. Her gaze went over Wally without pausing, which neatly answered that question.
Roy chose that moment to come back from the bathroom. "Well, hellll-lo, where has Grayson been hiding you?"
Clancy gave him a dubious look. "I hadn't been aware he'd been hidin' me anywhere--hidin' *from* me come rent-day, maybe!"
Dick sighed. "Guys, this is Bridget Clancy, our apartment manager. Clancy, these are friends of ours..." He pointed them out. "Donna, Wally, Jesse, and the one with the mouth is Roy. Down, Romeo. I'm sorry, Clancy, he has this tendency to get...overexcited."
Clancy eyed Roy warily. "P'rhaps you should consider a collar?"
Roy's eyes widened and he grinned, instantly falling into what the others recognized as his flirting mode. "Ooh, kinky."
Wally hissed at him. "Roy. Aren't you *forgetting someone?*"
Roy glanced impatiently at him, then turned to Donna. "Donna, honey, do you mind if I flirt with the pretty lady?"
She smiled at him, studiously ignoring Wally's glare. "Not a bit."
"That's what I thought." He looked back at Clancy. "Now, we were talking about leather?"
"Er." Her gaze flickered nervously between Roy, Donna, and a scowling Wally. "I didn't mean t'be stepping on anyone's toes."
"You didn't," Donna assured her. "Roy doesn't come with an off switch. You get used to it."
"Oh, one of *those,*" Clancy said with a knowing sniff. "Overcompensating for somethin', most likely."
"I'm *right here,*" Roy protested. "Give a guy a break, willya?"
Wally didn't bother to hide his disgust. "Don't tempt me, Roy."
Garth saw Roy's eyes narrow in response, and stepped in before mayhem could erupt. "Thank you for fixing the light, Clancy."
She grinned at him. "No prob. Should have done it sooner, but homework's taking more time than I expected."
"Clancy's recently started med school," Dick informed the others.
"Figured I ought to, after seein' Dick come home bruised so often!" Clancy shook her head. "I had no idea the police academy was so rough."
Roy looked like he was about to explode. "Yeah...all those black eyes, sometimes seems like he's wearing a mask."
This time it was Dick who gave Roy the glare of death, and Jesse who diverted attention from it. "So, Clancy, what got you into the landlord business?"
"Sort of fell into it, I s'pose. An' I like it, I really do, but I always dreamed of bein' a doctor...and Dick convinced me to apply for a Wayne Foundation scholarship." She tossed him a grateful smile. "Didn't figure I had a chance in a million of gettin' it, but I got lucky, I guess."
Wally choked a little on his beer. Donna reached over and patted him on the back, putting a tad more force into it than necessary. "That's wonderful. It sounds like a terrific opportunity."
Clancy nodded. "That it is." She looked around again. "Well, I should get out of your way. I've got to see to Mr. Law, his water heater's out again. Blasted thing. A pleasure meetin' you all!" She threw a last glance in Roy's direction as she turned to go.
A chorus of "you too's" followed her out the door. Once it was closed behind her, Roy smirked. "D'ya see that? She wants me."
Jesse echoed a measure of Wally's disdain. "Harper, haven't you gotten in enough trouble with Asian women already?"
"So I'm weak, shoot me."
"Again, tempting." Wally's hands made super-speed metal origami out of his empty can. "Donna, I don't know why you put up with--"
"No, you don't," Donna interrupted him. "And it's not a problem, it's nothing you need to be concerned about, and everyone can please stop trying to *protect* me."
Wally sighed. "...yeah, okay. It's not like you couldn't bend him into a pretzel if he hurt you, anyway."
"'He' isn't planning on it." Roy glared at Wally from his spot on the floor. "If you really thought I'd ever-- man, you don't know me at all, do you?"
The two of them stared angrily at each other long enough for Dick to take a step forward to intercede. A quick headshake from Garth stopped him from taking a second step. Neither of them would appreciate his interference.
After a few tense seconds, Wally sighed again. "Maybe not. But I believe you don't *mean* to. And Donna, I do trust you." He grinned, weakly. "Roy's always been good at rattling me, is all."
"My special gift." Roy shrugged, turning away. He held his tongue on anything more, for which Dick was profoundly grateful.
Wally eyed his back for another moment and then turned to Dick. "Hey, listen, I should run. Got to check up on the new warden over at Iron Heights." He paused. "There's something not *right* about that place."
"Let Oracle know if you need a background check," Dick said absently. "But I'm glad you came."
"Me too." Wally smiled, and this time it looked genuine. "You seem...really comfortable here."
Dick grinned. "It's a hellpit, but it's home."
"I always knew you were a twisted puppy, Grayson." Wally waved casually at the others. "Catch you later, folks, I'm gone." An eyeblink, and he was.
Roy was still sulking. Dick cast around for a change of subject, and remembered Clancy's last comment. "Hey, Jess, now that I think about it, there's someone else in the building you might want to meet. My neighbor, Jon Law."
"Jon...Law." Her brow furrowed, thinking, and then her eyes lit up. "Not THE Jon Law?!"
Dick nodded. "The very one."
"No way." Jesse stared at him. "That's...how big a coincidence is that? I'd *love* to meet him!"
Roy glanced between the two of them, confused. "Uh...who?"
"Ancient history." Dick and Jesse grinned at each other over Roy's uncomprehending look, and then Jesse laughed.
"If you ever meet my mother, Dick, you don't want to say anything about 'ancient' in range of her hearing."
"From what I've heard... I wouldn't dare."
Jesse sat back, a pleased expression on her face, as Roy growled. "Is SOMEbody going to let me in on the joke?!"
"No," Dick and Jesse said together, and started to laugh. Garth mouthed 'tell you later' toward Donna, since she didn't seem to recognize the name either. Donna nodded, smiling.
"Well, *fine,*" Roy muttered. He got up, stretching, and threw off his bad mood like a blanket. "So, we've seen the apartment--you gonna show us around the rest of this burg?"
Dick raised an eyebrow at him. "It's not much to look at...."
"Oh, c'mon. I'm sure it's got a *great* view from the rooftops." Roy's grin had more than an edge of mischief to it. "Isn't it about time for your patrol, Bat-boy?"
"Yeah, but-- oh." Roy was already pulling off his shirt to reveal his costume underneath. "I'm not going to get out of this, am I."
"Nope," Donna confirmed cheerfully, pulling her own star-covered costume and Jesse's red-and-yellow outfit out of her oversized purse. "It'll be fun, Dick. Really."
Jesse glanced at Garth curiously as she retrieved her costume. "Do you usually go on patrol, too?"
"Rooftop swinging isn't my forte, and I can't keep up with him." Garth smiled ruefully. "It's a gravity thing. When I have time I swing through the waterfront. The Coast Guard's always interested in hearing about illegal shipping...and there's a lot of that in this area. But if this is a team exercise, I'll be happy to join you."
"I guess it is, now." Dick looked at his team and grinned. "How come you guys didn't drop in while I was getting my butt kicked by Blockbuster, huh?"
"Eh, Dinah said she had your back." Roy waved a hand in dismissal. "'sides, how're you gonna build up your rep if the Titans have to rescue you all the time?"
Dick snorted. "Like I need *your* help, Arrow-breath."
"Way I figure, you've been down here a year already and haven't cleaned the place up yet. Falling down on the job, Dickie-boy? Or maybe you've been too busy with other things." Roy waggled his eyebrows at Garth.
Garth chose the safest response and ignored him. "We'll get changed and meet you three on the rooftop."
Busting drug deals and random thugs intent on burglary went much faster with a super-powered team to back Nightwing up. The Titans hit the 'Haven streets like a wave, washing them clean of criminal activity where they saw it. Dick didn't have the heart to tell them things would return to the way they'd been the following evening. Until he could get to the root of the corruption, all his and their street-level efforts were transitory.
That didn't stop him from having fun, though. "I told you not to hit that guy."
"Roy, you could have broken your hand."
"Seriously, shut up."
"They call him Tommy Tombstone for a reason."
"Dude. Stop being my mom for five minutes."
Still laughing, Dick and Garth waved from the rooftops as the other three headed northward and home, Donna and Roy to New York and Jesse to Philadelphia. "That was nice of them, to come by like that."
"Yeah. Let's hope they don't decide to invade on a regular basis." Dick shook his head, smiling. "Not that I don't love them, but...."
"But privacy is a good thing." Garth nodded in perfect comprehension.
Dick grinned. "Let's get private."
They headed inside, Nightwing taking the long secret entrance around to avoid being spotted entering Dick Grayson's apartment. Garth met him at the hidden door. "You know, I really do like our motto."
"Very together." Garth pulled him close.
"Mmm. Togetherness is good," Dick agreed, and ran his hand under the seam where Tempest's costume joined. "Let's see how together we can get."
"I think we can redefine the term," Garth said, and set about proving it.
The "he caught the arrow!" scene is chronicled in the "Batman Plus Arsenal" one-shot. Continuity note. Yep, the issue showed Diana among the JLA'ers. However...with retcons (*groan*), Diana didn't appear until after Crisis, during the Legends series (circa the Giffen JLA). So I replaced her with Zatanna. Damn you, Crisis, and your little dog Z.H. too.
Also, the setup and some dialogue--notably, the Donna and Dick scene, somewhat amended--is from the Titans Secret Files #2 story "Interludes," by Jay Faerber. Thanks to Falstaff for a kick in the transition. ;)
As for Jon Law and Jesse...if you're interested in how such a meeting might play out, read the first half of "Without Masks." *g*