Sea and Sky:

Tofu and Good Taste

by Gabriel Orion



Pairing: Nightwing/Tempest

Rating: PG-13

Archive: If you want to, but ask me first.

Thanks: Kerithwyn, because she not only introduced me to Tempest(Garth), but *kept* me interested in the character, demanded I try writing him, and gave me beta-comments when I finally did. Dannell, because the NW/T relationship in this fic was intended to be consistent with the one established in Dannell's and Ker's 'Sea and Sky' stories.

Disclaimer: Everybody contained herein belongs to DC, this is not a cash venture, suing me would only demonstrate the amount of time on your hands, and that would be embarrassing, no?

Notes: Don't come after me for my portrayal of the 'Mr. Lee' character. I changed his name, but that guy really does exist.

~*~

"Is this bean curd?" asked Garth.

"Is good ow-fu," agreed Mr. Lee. "You like?" Garth looked at the suspicious tan chunk between his chopsticks and bit into it politely. Tofu. Thank the-

"So how long are you going to be in town?" asked Connor. Mr. Lee smiled at Garth approvingly and moved off through the crowded tables, tucking his notepad into the pocket of his red apron.

"As long as it takes to find McLagen," Dick shrugged. "He's been seen in town, but we shouldn't discuss the details here."

"Ah." -Connor understood. He turned to say something to Garth, then paused and looked at Garth's plate. "I thought you said you were vegetarian..." Garth froze.

"I... *am.*" Connor glanced in the direction of the kitchen, and sighed.

"That is not." Connor pointed to one of the tan chunks. "I'm really sorry, Garth. It's tofu with shrimp in the middle."

Garth blanched.

"Are you all right?" asked Dick. Garth squeezed his eyes shut and rubbed them with his fingers, uncomfortably.

"I will be... later."

"I know how it is." said Connor. "Do you want some of mine?"

"Um... no thank you, I think I'm done here." said Garth. Connor eyed him sympathetically, and signaled for the check.

By the time they made it back to Connor's flat, Garth's stomach felt like a sea-cucumber was using it for a dance studio. He made it to the bathroom, rid himself of the offending seafood, and emerged a few minutes later looking slightly less ill. Connor made green tea and took it into the living room.

Connor's living room, like Connor himself, had two natural states. The one they'd seen earlier was conventional. Couch, chair, coffee table, light soaking in through the window. Now it was shadow and warmth, an oasis of cushions from the chair and two long futons that had made up the back and seat of the couch, now arranged on the floor and contained within the light of four candles. Garth took a seat on one of the futons, and Dick joined him. Connor chose the cushion from the chair, removed his shoes, and folded his legs into a half-lotus position. The tea was drunk in silence, and the bitter-green steam seeped into the other scents of the room like the warmth of the cups into their fingers.

"I should go." Connor said, finally. He looked at the window and the lights of San Francisco beyond, then back to his guests. Dick nodded. Patrol.

"Thank you for the tea," said Garth. Connor acknowledged them with a smile, and went into the other room to change. Five minutes later he was out the window, bow in hand.

Garth stretched out full length on the futon and folded his hands over his chest. The candles cast and re-cast themselves on the shadows of the ceiling, first flickering, then glowing back to steady pools. On the edge of the dark, four lines of heat wavered up into invisibility from the tips of the candle flames.

"How do you feel?" asked Dick, quietly. Garth's sleepy purple eyes met his shaded blue ones.

"Better."

"Good- -I wanted to try something new. Do you mind?"

"We are in Connor's home," Garth pointed out. Dick grinned.

"I know. It's nothing like that... I think you'll like it, though."

"In that case, do as you please." smiled Garth. Dick knelt beside Garth on the futon and cracked his knuckles theatrically. Garth chuckled at this, then closed his eyes. Dick placed both hands over Garth's stomach and paused, just watching the Atlantean's face. Dick didn't always understand Garth's trust, but he'd adopted being worthy of it as a lifelong goal.

It began with a series of symmetrical strokes. Circles that followed each other, smoothing over the muscles of Garth's stomach in a pattern that was sensual enough to melt his insides, without being sexual enough to tense them up again. Garth focused on the sensation completely, and his mouth fell open just a little. It felt like rain.

Dick's hands changed direction, and swept all of the nerve endings first one way, then the opposite. He traced diagonals, then changed the pattern again, and swept his hands apart over and over, as if he was slowly digging a hole in sand. Garth was losing track of whether Dick was drawing ripples in his chi or actually touching him, but it felt wonderful. By the time Dick's hands slid away for the last time, Garth was nearly asleep.

"HmmmMMmmmm..." he sighed.

"You're welcome," whispered Dick.

"You just did Tai-Chi on my stomsch..." mumbled Garth.

"Did it work?"

"MMmmmHMmmmm."

Dick reached across the floor and pulled the other futon up against the edge of the first one, then lay down on his side next to Garth, with one arm over Garth's chest.

Time passed, neither of them knew how much, and one of the candles went out. Garth's eyes started to feel gritty. He slipped out from under Dick's out flung arm carefully and stood up to undress. Dick's fingers curled against the warm cloth cover of the futon searchingly.

".....?......" he queried, eyes still closed.

"I'm going to take a shower." Garth told him. "I'll be right back." Dick's hand relaxed, and he nodded once. Garth took one of the candles with him into the bathroom, rather than using the light switch.

Water, cascading and filling the air enclosed by the shower curtain with hot fog. Garth breathed in deeply, and felt the membranes in his chest re-open as they absorbed the moisture. He turned his face up toward the spray, and the streams found every angle and crevice of his features, and trickled into his ears, and over his shoulders, and down his back. The droplets beaded on the shower curtain sparkled like tiny streetlights. Leaving the shower, Garth patted himself down lightly with a towel, then got a blanket from the closet just outside the bathroom on his way back to the living room.

Dick was still mostly asleep. Garth blew out all but one of the candles, then shook out the blanket and settled it over the futons, Dick included. Garth crawled underneath the blanket himself, and saw that Dick's eyes were open.

He reached out and cupped angle of Dick's jaw in his hand. It felt smooth and soft and dry under his damp fingers. Dick turned his head and kissed the base of Garth's palm.

"See you tomorrow," he whispered.

"Always," murmured Garth in return, and closed his eyes.

~*~

end note: The mis-spelling in the 'Tai-Chi' line was intentional. That's just how Garth pronounced it, under the circumstances.