Stress Reaction

by 'rith

Starluck Asia wrote: In the issue where Babs breaks up with Dick, one of her complaints is that he always looks surprised when a past or potential girlfriend catches him unaware and kisses him. Our hero does have a track record. He has been smooched without invitation by Starfire, Miggy Webster, Huntress, Tarantula, just to name a few.

Now the challenge: Translate this to a slash universe. Which male heroes or anti-heroes (like Tarantula) would - against Dick's innocent protestations - kiss him, and probably take it to the next level ? Can it all happen in one story?

Thanks to Starluck Asia for the challenge; I haven't written this many words at one time in *months.*

Setting: post-Obsidian Age off-panel scene.


"I'd hug you, but honestly, I'm too freaked out to move right now."

The words stuck with Kyle through the subsequent battle, self-sacrifice, and messy resurrection of himself and all of his teammates. Now they were all back at the Watchtower safe and sound--the JLA, Manitou Raven and his wife, and the replacement JLA that took over when there'd been no choice but to assume the entire team was dead.

And they *had* been dead, so Kyle could hardly resent their stand-ins. The team Batman chose as successors was...strange, but they'd gotten the job done. Hawkgirl was heading back to the JSA and Ollie would probably take off after he finished harassing all of the women. Jason Blood had already gone, and that was a good thing, because frankly the guy and his pet demon creeped Kyle out big time. Some of the others seemed to be sticking around, and that was also a good thing, since Kyle thought a couple of JLA regulars could use a nice long break. He was thinking about that himself, honestly.

Nightwing hadn't left yet, though he would soon to return to his Titans. Everyone who'd talked about it agreed: Whatever they thought of the rest of the substitute JLA, it was blindingly clear that Batman's trust in the man chosen to lead them hadn't been at all misplaced. He'd taken a group of vastly disparate personalities and turned them into a team in incredibly short order. It was, J'onn had been heard to declare, a greater display of leadership than the JLA--for all its power--typically employed. It was true. Superman *inspired,* but he didn't lead. Batman barked orders, Diana did likewise (albeit more diplomatically), J'onn directed them all through his telepathic link. Nightwing *led* and others followed. The difference was as simple and as unquantifiable as that.

"I'd hug you..." Nightwing said when his team finally found the time-lost JLA, but of course Kyle had been in a disembodied state at the time, and why could he not stop thinking about that?

And naturally the Watchtower was far too small to avoid turning the corner and finding the object of his thoughts (obsession?) in the next corridor. Nightwing was obviously on his way out, but he paused to nod in Kyle's direction. "Lantern."

That was another thing: Nightwing never treated him like the rookie Green Lantern, the usurper Green Lantern, not even when they'd first met at Hal Jordan's funeral. He'd simply taken in the fact that Kyle wore the emerald ring as proof that Kyle was *supposed* to have the ring. Kyle wasn't na´ve enough--quite--to believe his casual acceptance wasn't layered with a healthy amount of wary cynicism underneath, but at least Nightwing was polite enough to outwardly give him the benefit of the doubt.

It was out of Kyle's mouth before he could stop it. "You're not freaked out anymore and I'm solid again."

Nightwing blinked, once, then his lips twisted into a half-smirk and he held out his arms. It might have been meant as a joke, but Kyle wasn't about to waste the opportunity. He stepped forward and into the man's space, wrapping his arms around Nightwing's (tight, powerful, sinewy) torso. The muscles under the black spandex tensed for a moment and then relaxed, returning the embrace.

Kyle felt himself trembling, the tension of the literally ages-long battle catching up with him, and tried to pull away. The arms around him refused to let go. "Stress reaction," Nightwing murmured in his ear, "it's all right."

What the hell, the Watchtower had seen far stranger than two grown men dressed in skintight costumes hugging in the middle of a corridor. Kyle gave up trying for dignity and let himself melt into Nightwing's hold, trusting the other man to keep him upright.

His faith, like Batman's, was not misplaced. Kyle knew his grip must be increasingly tight, increasingly uncomfortable, but Nightwing simply adjusted his stance to support Kyle's weight and let himself be exploited as the security blanket that Kyle hadn't even been aware he'd needed.

The hug went on for a long, long time, and neither of them found it necessary to say a word.

Gradually Kyle became aware that his shaking had, in fact, stopped, and that the fabric where he'd burrowed his face into Nightwing's shoulder was wet. Well, that was all right. It wasn't like they were *friends,* exactly, but they'd both just been through hell, and thank God it wasn't Wally who he'd happened (chosen) to break down on, because he'd never have heard the end of it. Kyle felt himself laughing, realized that Nightwing's grip had slackened, and raised his head to explain, something, anything--

But Nightwing's mouth was right *there* and in for a penny, in for a pound. Kyle leaned in again, all his gratitude on his lips, and let them speak for him.

That he wasn't immediately pitched down the corridor was testament to Nightwing's patience or tolerance or both, and Kyle knew better than to push his luck, particularly after having seen what this man was capable of. He stepped back to find Nightwing staring at him, expressionless. "Can we call that a stress reaction too?" Kyle quipped lamely.

He got a slow wordless nod in reply, and that was also a better response than he might have received from other quarters. Kyle was determined not to let the moment degenerate into farce. "You'd better go. Your team is waiting for you."

Nightwing hesitated long enough to give him a single, narrowed-eyed *look,* then turned on his heel toward the transporter bay where he'd been going before being waylaid by one slightly overly needy, emotionally worn-out Green Lantern. Kyle hoped the rest of his journey would prove less perilous.

...and damned if he didn't see Nightwing raise a hand and briefly touch his lips before disappearing around the corner, as if summoning up a memory of the kiss. Too much to hope that the man might remember it fondly, much less want to follow up on it. But then again...what was the point of having a ring that made wishes come true if you didn't, once in a while, dream of the impossible?

Kyle grinned and let himself make a wish.


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