Sea and Sky:
by 'rith and nw's chick
This is an...epilogue...to Drought. *cough*
Final notation: Unbeta'd, possibly incoherent.
"Guests and fish stink after three days." - Ben Franklin
The first day after Garth's spell started working again, Dick figured Atlan was sticking around to make sure his lessons had taken.
The second day, Atlan busied himself playing surface tourist and claimed he was too tired to teleport home.
The third day, after Garth had gone and returned from his first day's full return to work (only into Gotham to meet with Lucius Fox, but it counted) and Atlan was still there, Dick thought again about garlic and crosses. He was grateful for what Atlan had done, certainly, but the saying about guests and fish applied doubly so to Atlantean mages.
Dick resolved to say something that evening, but as it turned out, over dinner Atlan preempted his suggestion to move along with a unique proposal of his own.
"...you know, Garth," Atlan said without warning, tapping his glass and eyeing them with a speculative expression, "there are certain magics you might be interested in...now."
Dick didn't like the sound of that, but Garth looked intrigued. "Such as?"
"How to put this delicately. You can raise...power...in conjunction with a willing partner. A good deal of energy, you understand. And that energy can be channeled into the most remarkable effects." His mouth twitched and he continued blandly, "I imagine the two of you would be able to generate quite a bit of...energy."
Ohhh, brother. Dick wasn't sure whether to laugh or be appalled but he kept his mouth shut, watching shock and disbelief race across Garth's face. "You don't-- you can't mean--"
"Yes. Sex. Perhaps the most ancient method of boosting one's personal energies. Every primitive society had its shamans who, shall we say, drew their power from the tribesfolk...." Atlan went on blithely, seemingly unaware of Garth's astonishment. He was, Dick thought, enjoying this altogether too much. Atlan gave them a look of wide-eyed innocence. "Naturally, it'd be entirely inappropriate for me to offer to show you firsthand." His gaze fell away with counterfeit shyness. "Unless you asked, of course."
For a moment Dick thought he might have to step in, but then Garth's expression turned unexpectedly calm. "That's an interesting suggestion, Atlan." He gazed appraisingly at his former mentor. "I'm sure you have a lot of...experience to offer."
Atlan didn't--quite--smile, but something like triumph started to play at the corner of his mouth.
Dick bit hard on the inside of his lip to hide his own grin.
"But then again..." Garth mused, "didn't you always tell me the only way to learn something was to do it for myself? Or in this case, with my 'willing partner.'" He turned to Dick, his eyes sparkling with mischief. "Are you willing, Robbie?"
"You know it," Dick said, with as straight a face as he could muster. "I'm up for...anything."
"I'm sure you are." Garth turned back to Atlan. "I think we can manage. I imagine the attempt might take awhile, though. Don't bother knocking." He took Dick's hand and started pulling him up the stairs toward their bedroom, and Dick finally, thankfully, started to laugh.
Inside their room Dick let himself fall against the wall, still chuckling. "God. What nerve."
"As if I ever would." Garth rolled his eyes. "Aside from not being interested in touching anyone but you...he's Arthur's *father!* And who knows *what* he's picked up in all those centuries, he's hardly been discriminating."
Dick snickered again. "I thought he was going to have an aneurysm, the way you turned him down. That was perfect."
Garth smiled. "But you know...he had a point."
Dick's mouth went dry. "Oh...yeah?" He swallowed hard and resorted to technical knowledge to keep from tripping over his tongue. "I, uh, know there's a lot of literature in eastern philosophy about nonmagical equivalents, unlocking the chi or kundalini energies...."
"So, you've researched?" Garth's eyes were laughing at him. "Is this all theory, Robbie, or have you experimented?"
Teasing. He could tease. "I learned a few...things." He laughed. "Most of which you already know. Massage. Concentration, biofeedback...it's all related."
Garth nodded. "What Atlan was talking about isn't much different. Instead of channeling those energies yourself...you share them. It's a thin line between these 'philosophical' practices and true magic."
Dick eyed him curiously. "You were surprised that he mentioned it, but not about the *idea*...."
"I've...felt you." Garth actually blushed a little. "Sometimes. When we're...very close...your energy, your aura, is almost visible. It's like a sun-flare, or-- a cresting wave--" he shook his head helplessly. "It's so hard to describe."
Dick thought about that. "So then, theoretically, you'd manipulate that 'energy'--"
"It can be both shared and amplified...theoretically. But it's potentially dangerous, too, because there's always a risk--" Garth paused. "Maybe this isn't something we should explore after all."
"You'd be giving me part of your life force. And that's...given willingly, it's an intensely personal gift. But in a larger sense, that's also the basis of what dark mages do, in stealing others' energies without consent." He shuddered.
"Whoa, slow down." Dick pulled Garth over to the bed and sat him down. "First of all, I know you'd never do that. I trust you. And I'm willing to try it if you are."
"But I've never done this before. I've *seen* your aura, but never tried to manipulate it."
Dick watched at him, considering. The fact that Garth hadn't outright said "no" meant he was still intrigued by the idea. And so was he. "I want to try."
Garth looked slightly alarmed "...Now?"
"Why not?" He grinned. "Atlan practically challenged you."
"*There's* an admirable reason to do anything," Garth retorted.
Dick waved a dismissive hand. "Forget him. *I'm* asking. You know how this works, right?"
"*Theoretically,*" Garth repeated, apparently hesitant but again without unconditionally denying his interest.
"Good enough." Dick swung himself around so he ended up sitting astride Garth's thighs and leaned in, his mouth brushing Garth's ear. "I'm very much *up.* For anything."
Garth's hands had come up to cup Dick's rear, exactly where they were supposed to be. "You are incorrigible." He dipped his head to lick at the skin of Dick's neck. "And irrepressible. And--"
"Is that a yes?" Dick breathed, nibbling on Garth's earlobe.
"Pallais! Yes." Garth got a firm grip and lifted; Dick was tossed gently over Garth's shoulder into the center of the bed. He glanced back, puzzled, when Garth didn't immediately join him. "But one thing first."
Dick watched as Garth went over to the bookcase and retrieved an old, cracked manuscript Dick hadn't seen before. "B'mirian spellbook," Garth said absently, leafing through the pages. "Atlan insisted I take it. He's going to be sorry for that."
He stopped at one page and laid the brittle pages carefully open on the dresser. And began to cast magic, his voice sounding alien syllables slowly at first and then faster, with more confidence, as his hands wove symbols in the air.
Dick had nearly forgotten the effect of watching Garth spellcast. Now he was reminded in full force. "Have I told you," he said hoarsely after Garth spoke the final syllable, "how incredibly hot that is?"
"You have said." Garth's eyes gleamed with amusement and pleasure. "And that's a better incentive for further study than any Atlan could offer."
His body utterly didn't care, but Dick thought it only polite to ask. "What was it?"
"A shielding--" Garth started, when his words were cut off by the faint yet unmistakable sound of...*clapping* elsewhere in the house.
Garth had on that vaguely listening expression that Dick had learned to recognize as telepathy in action. "He says," Garth reported, looking annoyed, "'Well done.' And that if he truly wanted to listen in, my amateur wards would hardly suffice to keep him out, but that in this case he'd take the effort as it was intended and stay away."
"Decent of him," Dick muttered, and then, "I really don't care. Come *here.*" He was already pulling at his clothes, impatient to be out of them.
Garth chuckled and moved over to the bed, reaching for Dick's hands. "Slow down. If you've researched...." He leaned down, covering Dick's mouth with his, slowly kissing him, parting his lips, tasting him. "You know the whole *point* is to take our time." He slid his hand between Dick's legs, nudging them apart, squeezing his thighs, before sliding his fingers back toward Dick's knee. "To feel each other, as deeply as possible."
Dick started counting his breaths. In, out, in, out, nine times over. A slow grin spread over his face. "Okay. So. Tell me. No, show me."
Garth grinned back at him wickedly and he bent down, licking and then parting his lips. Dick held still, *anticipating* what they would feel like...only to find the reality better still, when Garth's moist lips touched his throat. He shivered with the feel of Garth speaking against his skin, beautiful ancient-sounding words. He'd become proficient in written Atlantean, especially when he had an Atlan-to-English dictionary on hand, and wasn't half-bad with the spoken language...but translating from the older dialects, particularly when the words were muffled against his neck, was beyond his ability. Even if he'd had enough brain cells still working to try. "What...what are you saying?"
"A blessing." Garth pulled his mouth away and smiled, pushing Dick's shirt up. "This is one spell I *can't* take for granted." He brushed Dick's nipple with his nose, his lips, made unhurried circles with his tongue, and finally applied teeth with such slow and controlled and deliberate increasing pressure until it felt like the nerve endings there had a direct line to his cock and if he'd thought he'd been sensitive before, it was nothing on this. And Garth was tracing something over his thigh with a finger, Dick could feel it.
"What...is that...is that the spell?" Dick gasped, and dammit, Garth could have at least opened his pants. Dick would have done it himself, but his own hands were attached to arms that felt like lead. He swallowed hard, closing his eyes so he could focus on what Garth was doing to him.
Garth just breathed over his wet nipple. "Dick, when the spell starts, you'll know." He pulled Dick's shirt off and kissed him again, sloppier, deeper. By the time the kiss ended they were both gasping and Garth had started to press him down into the bed. Dick reached to pull him down but Garth evaded his hands, laughing.
"If you want to try this...we have to go slowly." He heaved an exaggerated sigh. "You don't make that easy, you know."
"I thought I made it--*mrph*" Dick quipped, the last word muffled by Garth's hand covering his mouth.
Garth shook his head reprovingly. "This is very serious magic."
Dick raised his eyebrows, and Garth dropped his hand away. "Serious. Gotcha. I will be good," he said, giving Garth his best contrite face.
"Dick..." Garth's stern expression held another moment, and then he grinned. "You're always good. Also easy." Dick sputtered as he went on, "Which makes it...*difficult* to take the time the spell demands."
There was no way Dick wouldn't take that as a challenge. He had Bat-training, after all. "I'm in for a marathon if you are."
"It's not my *endurance* I was worried about," Garth fired back, laughing again, and that was still the best sound in the world after the trials of the last several weeks. "But for the last time, if you're sure--"
"For the last time," Dick said with the final fading remnants of his self-control, "I am willing to give you anything--*everything*--you can take."
It really wasn't anything he hadn't said before, among all the other promises already between them. Garth looked at him for a long moment, seemingly at a loss for words, but that was all right; this wasn't about *words,* anyway. Finally he nodded, and they began again.
It took them ten minutes just to get naked. Garth moved all over his body, stripping clothing away by inches with his mouth and his fingers. He whispered things Dick didn't understand, but he understood the tone, the way the murmured inflections played over newly revealed skin. He couldn’t match the words, but he had equivalent language of his own in every way he knew to touch, and arouse, and savor.
All the mechanics might be the same, all the motions nothing they hadn't done before, though every sensation felt heightened by the sheer relief of Garth's recovery. Was Garth doing something magical to him, or was it just *them?* As far as Dick was concerned, he and Garth had never needed anything more than simple touch to create something powerful between them. He knew these things already, the taste of skin, the smell of sweat, the slide of their bodies against each other. Still, Dick's senses seemed magnified, whether by desire or by magic...and weren't they the same thing, really, by any name?
But something *was* different. The room kept getting hotter, smaller, like space itself was curving in around them to concentrate the heat they were generating. He was falling faster and faster, reveling in that perfect sensation of freefall without even a jumpline to catch him, knowing that Garth wouldn't let him crash. If there truly was magic, it was in Garth's words, as his fingers slid inside of Dick's body. It was in Garth's eyes, as he pushed Dick's legs farther apart. It was in Garth's sweat, as he started to move inside of Dick. It was in Garth's heartbeat, as the rhythm grew more and more insistent.
Back and forth they rocked, driving each other on, until Dick lost count of the number of times he felt like he was just going to *explode.* Each time, Garth could feel it, and he brought them back down. Each time, Garth looked into Dick's eyes and tasted his lips. Each time, Dick felt whatever was binding them together growing tighter, stronger, deeper.
He felt open and naked in ways he'd never felt before. Was he under Garth's spell? Or just *under* Garth?
What difference did it make? This was Garth's magic. This was his power. This was *their* power, the spell they were weaving together, gathered and amplified and nearly tangible.
"Now," Garth breathed, and on the word Dick came so hard that his vision slid past gray, his back arching, every muscle tensing and giving up its tension at once, feeling Garth shudder around and inside him. He fell back, gasping on the edge of consciousness, aware enough only to dimly register that he'd lost more than just bodily fluids and energy.
Garth's arms caught him, held him, and cool lips pressed against his own. Almost immediately he felt his strength return, and after a moment it was even more than that. He was full of vitality, every muscle thrumming, his senses sharp and alert--
"Dick-- Dick!" Garth was looking into his face, concerned. "Are you all right?!"
"Oh..." he laughed, couldn't contain it, "better than all right. Wonderful, amazing, God, that's better than a week's worth of sleep!"
"I wasn't sure--"
But Dick couldn't stop laughing. He had no idea why, but he felt so full of life, of *light,* it seemed to be radiating out of him. "So this. This is what magic is?" Dick managed to gasp out between chuckles.
Garth smiled and Dick traced the lines of his lips, like a child in awe of something beautiful. "I think this is...what Atlan has been talking about all along. Magic isn't a recipe. It's a creation. It's.... What we shared here.... This is. It's." Garth was concentrating, and maybe he had the words in Atlantean, or maybe the words were just elusive.
They were also unnecessary. Dick leaned up and kissed Garth, kissed him like they hadn't just had the most incredible sex, kissed him like he might never get to kiss him again. Then he fell back on the pillow. "Oh, man. I've never felt like this before. Want to go for a swim?"
Garth's answering laughter was all the reply he wanted.
They managed to get in a few laps, Garth swimming beneath Dick, and a rather long shower together, before they *had* to get dressed and head down to the kitchen to get something to eat.
Neither was surprised to see Atlan there.
Dick ignored Atlan entirely, heading straight for the fridge to find anything that Alfred might have left behind. Everything. He couldn't remember being this hungry.
Garth, as usual, was more hospitable. "So. I'm sure you have an opinion."
Atlan smiled reluctantly. "Well. Impressive."
Dick paused in his rummaging to watch Atlan.
"I can see your auras. Virtually *bursting* with energy. I don't have to ask if it was good for you." He smirked and cast a critical eye over them. "Good, if a little crude...some leakage. Not much. It's too bad you're not magically sensitive, Richard, you'd be able to see the overlap in energies."
His tone was scholarly, almost clinical. Dick restrained himself from snorting, mainly because his mouth was full of the remains of the rosemary chicken Alfred had sent as an addendum last week, and that was too good to waste. Somehow, even though Atlan was the magical expert, Dick doubted if he really understood what they had created.
"The euphoria you feel now? It fades quickly, and you'll likely feel a bit worse for wear when it does. Normal sleep restores your strength. So does a repeat performance." Atlan favored them with an amused flash of teeth. "But with that in mind you'll understand that with the addictive nature of this sort of 'boost,' it's easy to get caught in a feedback loop."
He continued on, talking about channeling energy into spells and what you could and could not get back, and the possible dangers, and it was all very interesting and even potentially useful and Dick finally had had enough. "Thank you, Atlan. For everything you've done. But you need to go now."
The mage raised one blond eyebrow. "'Need'?"
"It's time. Past time." Dick nodded and shut the fridge door, his arms laden down with provisions for a snack for Garth and to supplement what he'd already eaten. He caught a glimpse of Atlan's frown and had one moment's belated trepidation that he'd overstepped, but then Garth spoke up.
"Not that it hasn't been *fun*," he drawled in what was probably an Atlantean's version of a Texan accent. "But all good things, you know."
Atlan grinned. "Indeed. Garth...you've done well. Next time, contact me yourself if you need to. The spell is," he smirked, "in the book. Be seeing you...*Dick.*"
That definitely did not require a response, but Atlan wasn't waiting for one. He was gone in a brilliant flash of dramatic azure light the next moment.
Garth stretched hugely and proceeded to strip. "Finally. We're back to normal."
Dick chuckled, looking Garth over hungrily. Feedback loops. He'd have gotten that one without being told, really. "I like your definition of normal," he said, and he pulled Garth into his arms, finally, finally, safe, secure, and *together.*