(Nothing) You Want
(or, Dick's Song for Bruce)
by Vertical Horizon and 'rith
Warning: Angst-fest. Written for Jatona's Batslash songfic challenge. Not my favorite form, but the song suits.
Rather to my surprise, this ended up being the animated Nightwing. It's been awhile since I've watched the series, so consider any inconsistencies as value added. ;)
Denial, Dick has discovered, can only take you so far.
It worked well enough for any number of years, beginning from when he was a teenager falling in love with his mentor. Even then he'd known how desperately impossible the situation was. He'd been underage, that was one. He was Bruce's ward and therefore Bruce's responsibility, that was two. And because he was Robin as well, there was no way Batman would let a sexual element distract from their partnership and therefore from The Mission. Third nail in the coffin of Dick's adolescent yearnings.
He'd secretly nurtured the dream, though. Despite all the factors against it, despite *knowing* that Bruce would never let it happen. He'd imagined one day being legal, no longer subject to Bruce's accountability, and expanding their partnership beyond crime-fighting into something much more personal, and lasting.
Well. Here he was: nineteen, legally accountable to no one but himself, and not Robin any longer. He'd made a decisive stand, breaking out of the mold as Batman's subordinate partner. The three primary reasons no longer applied.
A million others did. The denial wasn't really about wishing for the impossible. The denial lay in secretly believing that someday, somehow, Bruce would relent and let Dick fully into his life: emotionally, physically, sexually.
It was never going to happen. There had never been any need for a confrontation on the point, either. Bruce was who he was. Between the Bat and Gotham there isn't room for anyone else in his life. Bruce's relationships were all on his terms, and transitory: a partner when it suited him, allies when he needed them, lovers when societal necessity or bodily need demanded them.
Dick refused to end up a temporary *anything.* Ironically, it seemed the only way he could stay in Bruce's life was to remove himself from those categories. He'd work with Batman, but only on his own terms. He would not let himself just become another hero Batman called on only when he absolutely couldn't avoid it. Poor, poor Superman, Dick thought; Kal believed Bruce was his friend, and was alternately hurt and angered by the inevitable cold distance once the crisis of the moment had passed. And no matter how much he wanted it, Dick would never allow Bruce into his bed without *some* kind of understanding that it was more than a fleeting urge.
He was leaving Gotham to preserve their relationship. No sense to it, only truth. The only thing left was to *accept* it, really start to believe it, and move on.
Last tour of Gotham. Criss-crossing the city on his bike, committing it to memory. Not that he needed the refresher course. He knows the city from angles most of its citizens never imagine. He's crawled through the sewers underneath and mapped the streets from jumplines far overhead.
The final stop on his way out might have been entirely predictable, but necessary: Crime Alley, the place that birthed the Batman and therefore his own destiny. He placed roses on the spot, like an apology to disapproving ghosts.
"I'm not leaving him," he told them quietly. "I'll never leave, not in the way it matters."
There had never been anyone else, not really. Substitutes at best; diversions at worst. He'd belatedly realized that he'd been falling into Bruce's pattern of sublimation and explosive release, and forced himself to stop. But not before he'd left lovers behind, always asking what they'd done wrong, why he couldn't commit. Any number of reasons he could give to reassure them it wasn't their fault, and only one--the unspoken one--true.
He was in love with Bruce. There was no one like Bruce. It wasn't fair to try to put anyone else in that position, while he went looking for what he wanted in the wrong bodies.
The last mistake had been the worst. He loved Barbara, he really did. Just...not in the right way. Not as much as she deserved. She didn't understand why he was leaving, and he could never explain it to her.
If hating him made it easier for her to let go...that's the way it had to be.
Dick had waited almost too long.
He'd come close, very close to spilling it all that moment on the rooftop when all of his frustration turned to anger. He'd almost let slip the unforgivable truth that would have ended any possibility of a partnership--at any level--between he and Bruce forever.
Dick refused to say goodbye. The terrible irony that it was easier to *hit* Bruce than to talk to him hadn't escaped him. The terrible fact that he'd actually *done* it convinced him he needed to leave, for both their sakes. The sooner he was gone, the sooner he could begin to make a life for himself without Bruce.
Denial again? Hell, yes. But there wasn't any other choice.
He went over the final bridge without looking back, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that a last glance at the Gotham skyline would be his undoing. It didn't matter; Gotham would be with him wherever he might end up. He'd been recreated in its image and infused with its spirit.
And the Bat, of course. Always the Bat, a part of him in every way possible.
Except the one he wanted the most.