|You and I, Right or Wrong
Author: chalantness PM
"This changes nothing." He narrows his eyes from behind his glasses and hopes he sounds as convincing as he needs to be. But she just tilts her head, amused. "Wrong again, Sidekick. This changes everything."Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Jade N./Cheshire & Roy Harper/Red Arrow - Chapters: 3 - Words: 19,446 - Reviews: 53 - Favs: 175 - Follows: 26 - Published: 07-16-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7187153
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The only plausible explanation to this situation is that there are none. Being as righteous as a hero could ever be, there is no justification to bringing the enemy into your home.
He knows this isn't his home. Luckily, they are far enough away from his home for them to more or less not get caught. But it's the motel room that he is staying in for the extended leave he had to take to deal with this mission and that's still a pretty stupid thing, bringing her into a place where he was supposed to rest his head and try to get some sleep. Well, he officially tossed any hopes of that out the window.
She's out cold as he lays her onto the bed.
He is careful to only turn the light on the nightstand on. Due to her injuries, she's probably not waking up any time soon, but he wants no chances taken on this.
At least she's stopped bleeding. His pride makes the fact hard to admit to his self that seeing the red liquid pool out from the gash on her side, mixing with the puddle of rainwater and goo around her, was unsettling. His clothes are more or less drenched with the stuff from having to scoop her into his arms. He can still smell the rust.
He doesn't hesitate (much) to disarm her. He removes her mask, her boots, her belts, any and all weapons, until she just has her green kimono, tattered and ripped and stained, and her bandaging on.
He takes a short trip down to his car to lock everything up and then hurries the hell back to the room. Unconscious and disarmed or not, he just doesn't like the idea of her being abandoned and a threat… especially to him. Of course she's still out cold when he gets back, but you can't blame him for being paranoid. She had an annoying talent of eluding her capturers despite any odds.
When he pulls up one a chair at the foot of the bed and takes a seat, he makes the first mistake of looking at her.
She is undeniably quite stunning in a wild and dangerous kind of way, even to him. Her mask did little to hide that. Rather, it gave him a reason to ignore the fact; a reminder that, beautiful or not, her hands are stained with blood.
But she's still beautiful.
Her eyelashes are long like feathers, her hair like a mane around an exotic face.
And her eyes, had they been open (which, thank whatever all-powerful force that made it so, were not), would have drawn him in; like a black hole: dark but entrancing.
There is a small but strong part of him, and he is unsure if he wants to find out how strong, that likes to indulge him with the possibility behind her evil. Some sort of events that tarnish her past and corrupted her. He likes to believe that there is more behind her than a woman who murders for cash. It's a stretch, but perhaps thinking she is redeemable makes him feel less guilty of his attraction towards her.
But then he shakes his head, rubs his temples, and hates himself even more for trying to right something that is obviously very, very wrong.
His second mistake of the night: falling asleep in that chair
His nap is short-lived. Call it a sixth sense or hero's intuition or whatever, but he finds himself waking up, looking over, and not seeing her form lying there underneath the dim glow of the lamp.
His heart nearly drops in his chest and he jumps out of his chair, letting out a groan at how every muscle seems to ache. The clock tells him it's only been about three hours since he knocked out. It's still dark and storming outside, the room hasn't gotten any warmer, and he has yet to change out of his clothes that are still drenched with rainwater and blood and goo.
It seems that the only difference between now and before he fell asleep is that sheis gone, which (in his opinion), makes all the difference in the world.
He rubs his eyes and decides that really wants – needs to get out of this damn costume. So what if she got out? She's disarmed and seriously injured, and if she wants to face a storm alone, so be it.
He tries to convince himself that he doesn't care what happens to her.
"Whatever," he mumbles to himself, rubbing his neck as he heads into the bathroom. He doesn't care, all right? Of course the hero in him does, but that's beside the point.
He chooses to leave the lights off. The motel room is small enough that the light from the lamp reaches the bathroom and that's all he really needs to see. He just wants to run a hot bath, soak and forget his problems, and he's not in the mood to do so with the bathroom lights blinding him.
He sighs and peels off his gloves, un-strapping his belt and removing his top, discarding it to the floor. In his dimly lit reflection, he can see a scar or two along his sides.
"Did I scratch too hard?" a sultry voice questions behind him, and he inhales sharply and flicks on the switch as he whips around. Behind his mask he flinches at the sudden light, and even Cheshire flinches away at the offending brightness, the bathtub water swishing around her. "Damn, was that necessary?"
"What are you doing here?"
Her eyes are blatantly looking at his bare upper torso, and he tries to suppress the odd satisfaction he feels when she smirks appreciatively. "Please, don't let me stop you."
"What are you doing here?" he repeats, ignoring her comment.
"You brought me here." She sighs, as if answering it was tedious. "I should really be asking you what I'm doing here."
"You could have left when you woke up," he reminds. "Or tried to kill me when I was sleeping. Why didn't you?"
"I'm not stupid, you know. I know my condition right now, and a raging storm is no place to be jumping off rooftops with no equipment and a few bad bruises." She smirks. "And I didn't kill you because I thought that would take away from the potential entertainment tonight. But the better question is that you could have let me fall to my death, or left me outside to die tonight, so why didn't you?"
He narrows his eyes (unseen by her behind his mask) and says nothing. She shrugs in an oh well manner that tells him she'll be getting her answer eventually.
His eyes drift, and he sees her blood- and dirt-stained garments lying in a lump on the floor. The bath water is still a bit steamy, with traces of red blood floating around, so it's not far-fetched to believe she hadn't gotten into the tub too long before he had woken up.
"Care to join me?"
He blinks, seeming to focus back on reality, and folds his arms over his chest. "Don't joke around. I'd rather not play games with you, Cheshire."
"Who's joking? And besides," she lifts herself out of the tub and he quickly looks away, fighting the heat he feels rushing to his cheeks because he's not blushing, "games are so much fun."
She pauses, some of the water spilling over the side of the tub and creating a puddle on the floor, and then laughs.
"I make you nervous. You're just as precious as your little sidekick friends."
"They're not sidekicks," he snaps. He is staring at the crown molding along the ceiling of the bathroom as if it were the most fascinating thing he had ever seen, carefully not looking anywhere in her direction. She laughs, clearly amused and clearly in control, and her bare feet make light splashes against the puddle as she walks around the small bathroom. "And you don't make me nervous."
"Then why won't you look at me?"
He clenches his jaw and whips his head around. It is more of an impulse, really, because he isn't really thinking clearly.
But she already has a white towel cinched around her form when he looks at her, a smug smile donned on her face and a hand placed over her hip. The towel barely covers her figure, and the way she's looking at him suggests that she is well aware of this, but he figures it's better than no cover at all. There is only so much control he can have when they're both half-undressed in such close proximity like this.
"That's better." She steps forward and places a hand on his arms, pushing them to his sides so that their bodies are pressed together. "See something you like?"
He wonders how she's doing that—being the one who's banged up and narrowly avoided death a few hours ago, yet also the one who is in complete control of the situation.
It's the confidence, he muses in his mind, though it's a little hard to form coherent thoughts when she is trailing her fingers up the contours of his abs and,
"Don't." His voice is low and demanding as he snatches her wrist, holding it away.
Her free hand drops on his other arm and slides along his bicep and up his shoulder, resting on the back of his neck. "And why not?"
"Because," he says through his teeth.
She rises slightly on the balls of her feet, her breath too warm against his skin as she whispers into his ear, "You still think you're in my league, Sidekick? Then show me."
Her hand slips up and under his chin and brings their lips closer, but he's the one that closes that final distance and he can feel her smirking into the kiss to prove she knew he wouldn't be fighting her.
His lips are ravaging hers as she's pulling him with her, not even bothering with the light as they stumble out of the bathroom. Her hands dance across his skin as they make it onto the bed, his knees falling onto the mattress on opposite sides of her waist as he lowers her so her back is flat against the sheets. He feels the towel loosening around her and wonders how far things will go if it just drops.
He pulls back, breath heavy as he pushes his lips to her throat and sucks on her pulse point. She actually tips her head back and lets out this purring sound, raking her fingers through his hair.
They both know she's letting him feel like he has some control here even though he doesn't, but right now he finds it strangely hot and he's not going to stop her
Her mouth is open as she sucks in ragged breaths, claws digging into his shoulders. He's definitely going to have more scratches and bruises in the morning than he started out with.
It's honestly a surprise to him that she's giving him any sort of satisfaction in this by purring and moaning to show him he's getting it right. She hisses at him to go faster because she needs him to and it just isn't her style (okay, the hissing part probably is), this whole vulnerability thing. He thinks maybe it's a façade, or maybe she's just too lost in everything to realize what she's doing, or he thinks…
Well, he's going to have to come back to that thought when he really can think.
He's kissing every inch of her skin in that gentle way that makes it seem like they're actually making love to each other, not just fucking each other senseless because they can.
And then when he realizes she's so, so close (because apparently his mind is coherent enough to process this), he goes slower, so that they're barely moving, and finds himself just focusing on kissing her. It's far more intimate than any of this should be, but she lets out this noise that may or may not be a whimper and he just has this urge to kiss her when she reaches the point of no return.
It's only several heartbeats after hers when he's parting their lips and seeing his own stars, and she runs her fingers along his face. The small part of him that registers it thinks that she's going for the mask she has yet to pull off, but instead they slide over his temple and through his hair, bringing him into a heady kiss as he comes down from his high.
When he opens his eyes god knows how long after, a flash of lightning illuminates the room, and all he sees in that split second is her face glistening in a light cover of sweat and her big, black eyes staring up at him, unreadable as always.
He counts just over a hundred of her breaths before she lifts her hands, fingers touching the edges of his mask.
His reflex is his hand grasping her elbow and keeping it in place. "Don't."
"Why not, Sidekick?" She sounds… different. He can't really place it, and he's not sure he'll ever be able to place it, but it's just… different.
He kind of just stares at her for a moment, into those eyes that always draw him in, and releases her elbow to reach over and turn off the lamp. It's still dark out, still storming, but all he feels right now is warmth and her as she peels off his mask and takes in how bright his blue eyes are.
Being well-prepared used to be a nuisance to himself, the compulsive need to have a back-up for every back-up. But it has its conveniences.
She is sitting cross-legged on top of the bed, pulling her hair back into a perfectly disheveled ponytail, and her black bra and underwear are completely visible through the back-up dress shirt he had to lend her. He tosses her the pair of heels she convinced him to buy as well as the keys to the rental car before pulling the shades back over his eyes, grabbing his suitcase and turning back for the door.
"Leaving so soon?"
He pauses, one hand on the knob, and turns back around to face her. She's gotten off of the bed and made her way over, running her fingers along the material of his blazer.
"We agreed on this exchange. You get the car with your stuff, find your way, and I go on schedule," he replies.
"So cold, leaving a lady to fend for herself," she sighs, a smirk playing on her pouting lips as she adds, "especially after last night."
"This changes nothing." He narrows his eyes from behind his glasses and hopes he sounds as convincing as he needs to be.
But she just tilts her head, amused. "Wrong again, Sidekick. This changes everything," she purrs into his ear in that sultry voice of hers again.
She rests her hands at the base of his neck and kisses him long and hard, smirking into the kiss again. He hates how he's just giving her whatever she wants, but he hates even more that she absolutely loves it and that it kind of turns him on. When it dawns on him what she's doing, he half-pushes her away, just far enough to slip out of the room and shut the door.
He dumps his stuff off at his apartment as soon as he gets back in the city and makes his way over to Mount Justice.
He doesn't know why, he just does it.
M'gann is there when he arrives, probably because she sensed him or whatever, and her whole face lights up. She flies over to him and hugs him and he finds himself smiling a little when he hugs her back. They're not close or anything but she's probably just overly friendly. "It's been awhile," she says, tucking her hair behind her ear. "Come on, we're about to have dinner!" she adds, pulling him along.
Conner has an oven mitt on and is carrying a tray of lasagna when they walk in, and they sort of just stare at each other for a prolonged second before he greets, "Hey," and kind of smirks.
Everyone else is in their pajamas with blankets and pillows everywhere, crowding around the large screen and playing some four-player racing game. Wally, Dick, Artemis, and another blonde with curly hair are on the floor right in front of the screen with controllers in their hands, taunting and cursing at each other, and Kaldur is sitting on the couch beside a younger-looking, pale blonde, laughing.
He recognizes Cassie as the curly blonde who is playing, Diana's protégée whom he's met more than a few times in the past. The pale blonde with the shorter hair sitting with Kaldur must've been the girl they had rescued from the Department of Extranormal Operations a few weeks ago. Her name is Suzie or something like that. Funny. She didn't look like a Suzie.
When the person in the top-right corner places first, Cassie throws her controller into the air and catches it as she exclaims, "I won, suckers!"
He laughs louder than he planned to and pretty soon all of their eyes are on him.
"No way, is that Roy?" Cassie gasps, flying over to him and tackling him into a hug. "It's been a while!"
"Yeah," he exhales. "Definitely."
"What're you doing here?" This from Wally, who is looking at him with wide eyes one minute, and then glancing back over his shoulder at Artemis, who has not moved from the couch, in another.
"Just… thought I'd drop by and visit. Solo act or not, I can spend a little downtime with my friends," he reminds. Kaldur drops a hand on his shoulder and smiles at him like he's proud and maybe like he's missed seeing him more often. He returns the smile and thinks maybe it's possible that he's sort of been an ass by trying to cut everyone off just because he didn't want to be sidekick anymore.
The pale blonde beside him gives this shy smile, extending her hand when Dick nudges her forward. "I'm Suzie."
He shakes her hand. "I'm Red—actually, you can call me Roy."
"I know who you are," she assures, voice light. "I've heard a lot of great things about you." Dick laughs in a warm kind of way that puts a blush on her fair cheeks as he pulls her away.
When he looks back, Wally is helping Artemis off the couch and leading her towards them. The speedster says something to her that makes her let out a laugh, and when her eyes finally meet his, he is surprised when her smile doesn't fade. Instead, she arches an eyebrow and sort of just looks at him, and he nods back and figures they can spare one night of antagonism to enjoy being with their friends.
"Come on everybody!" M'gann exclaims, levitating their plates and utensils and glasses onto the table with one hand while carrying a pitcher of juice in the other. "Dinner's served!"
He doesn't plan on staying long after dinner, exchanging mission stories around the table and crashing on the couch with the others after a long and heated gaming marathon. It just sort of happens.
He's starting to forget that the mission had happened at all.
Kaldur lends him some shorts in the morning (well, it's brunch when they all finally wake up) when he tells him they planned a beach day at the bottom of the mountain. Of course they would find another reason to fool around, but it's summer and he figures everyone is allowed their days off, so he doesn't protest when M'gann asks him to blow up beach balls and carry two picnic baskets of food down with them.
Sometime after their hour-long volleyball match and before their late lunch/early dinner spread, when they're lounging around, he finds that they're all kind of coupled.
Cassie and Kaldur are wading knee-deep into the ocean, laughing with their heads bowed and their hands linked just above the surface. Artemis lays on her stomach on a beach towel, an amused expression on her face as she watches Wally building something in the sand – he wasn't quite sure what it was at the moment. M'gann and Conner are tending to their hotdogs and patties near the picnic blanket, a pleasant smile on his face as she is sitting in his lap, talking and grilling. Dick and Suzie are near them as she slices fruit and he tosses grapes into her mouth, the both of them chatting animatedly.
It's kind of refreshing, actually, seeing them enjoy something beyond heroism. He tries not to let himself think of Cheshire. It's not like that between them and he doesn't want it to be.
He is on a rooftop in the middle of a night patrol when she shows up. He was just standing there, arms crossed, eyes scanning the city below him, when she just down behind him. He barely heard anything above the faint wind, didn't see anything, but he just sort of knew that it was her before turning around and seeing her straightening out of a crouch, that mask staring right back at him.
"Cheshire," he says needlessly, just for the sake of trying to sound pissed off at her. He's not, so it's not very effective.
She places a hand on her hip. "Babysitting your little sidekick friends, huh?"
"No. What are you doing here?"
"Is that any way to treat a lady?" Her tone is teasing and dangerous, the one of someone trying to draw in her prey. "Especially one you so indecently left in a motel room to fend for herself."
"You found your way back. Besides, you were the one who agreed to the arrangement." He folds his arms over his chest. "You got lucky with the car. I was tempted to leave you there with nothing."
"Ouch," she laughs sarcastically, almost bitterly. "But," she adds in a sigh, shrugging one shoulder, "if trying to be rude is what you want then so be it. I just came here to get what I want, and since you apparently know me so well, you know I always get what I want."
"Yeah? And what is that?" he questions.
"Oh, I think you already know." She steps forward until they're right in front of each other and she's pushing his arms aside. "We both want the same thing."
"We don't," he nearly snaps. When one hand drops on his bicep and the other slides its way to the back of his neck, he gets this strong sense of déjà vu. "We will never want the same thing."
"We won't?" she laughs. He feels his blood boiling at all her laughter and play, but he thinks maybe that's the point. "I think you're lying, Sidekick."
"I'm not a sidekick."
"Then show me," she challenges. (He thinks she needs a new catchphrase.) "Show me how strong those arms of yours are."
He nearly growls in response, all of his rage and intensity (and not all even towards her) building up until he's pushing her back against the brick wall of the skylight, her legs wrapping around his waist as he rips her mask off and presses their lips hungrily together. He doesn't know why he wants to play this dangerous game with her, but he could care less right now and that is what scares him the most.
For once, he is thankful for the shadows that envelop them, tucking them and their secrets away into the night as they have their way with each other on that rooftop. It's better this way.
He joins them on a simple mission because he's got nothing better to do (he does) and Cassie and M'gann are really good at that nagging thing.
It's a really easy one. Red Tornado just wants them to drop by this warehouse where they supposedly make vehicle parts and gather information about their customers without causing a scene. It's entirely Dick's department, the sneaking around and hacking business, though he takes Wally and Kaldur as back-up and leaves the rest of them to keep watch outside. It's more boring than it sounds.
Being linked up with the rest of them is not something he's too thrilled about.
It's an awesome way to communicate covertly and everything, but having everyone's thoughts in his head all at once is testing his patience.
He can hear Dick and Wally arguing while Kaldur plays the Big Brother and tries to come between them, and M'gann and Cassie and occasionally Suzie are chatting animatedly about some engagement. The only quiet ones are Superboy (who is on the roof with M'gann and the camouflaged bioship) and Artemis, who he finds towards the back, examining her arrow's fletching and looking bored.
It honestly surprises him that she says anything to him.
"Why haven't you talked to him yet?" She asks this in a hushed whisper. He wonders if this prevents the others from hearing, or if she's doing this to keep their cover, or if she's just genuinely hurt.
"What are you talking about?"
"Real mature," she practically hisses. "I don't know what happened before I came along, but I seriously doubt that it was bad enough for him to deserve the cold shoulder from you, especially about this."
"I don't know what you're talking about," he informs in an annoyed huff. He crosses his arms, but she stubbornly mimics him and stands her ground.
"Cut that out! You know what I'm talking about. Even I have way more respect for him, and you," she jabs a finger at him, "have known him so much longer."
"No, I actually don't know what you're talking about," he says, batting her hand away, "or who you're talking about, for that matter."
"I… really?" The hostility is gone from her face in seconds and replaced with bewilderment. "You don't?"
"No. Do you plan on telling me?"
She relaxes a little from her tense stance and takes a half-step back, glancing at him from an angle. "It's Ollie and Dinah," she says after a long moment. He is about to scold her for saying that aloud for anyone to hear before realizing she actually said it mentally. "The engagement that Megan and Cassie and Suzie have been thinking about this entire time is theirs. You really didn't know?"
His mind is dead silent. "What? How was I supposed to know about this when no one's told me until now?"
"They sent everyone invitations," she explains. "The League is hosting a party for them and everyone is invited. Have you checked your mail recently?"
"I've been… busy lately," he says in his mind, being sure to keep his mind away from Cheshire. He has no idea what the others can see, if they can see into his mind at all, but he's not taking chances.
"I knew it! It's definitely a hot date. You've been holding out on us, man!" Wally complains. "Who is she? What does she look like? How long have you been together? Does she know that you're a—"
"Do not be ridiculous, Wally," Kaldur interrupts, tone reprimanding. "And it is not within our rights to pry in his personal life."
"Thanks, Kal. But I don't have much of a personal life for him to pry through. My work is too important for one."
"You sound just like Batman," Dick snickers. "And look where that got him. Unless you—hah! Never mind."
"Gah! There you go again keeping secrets," Wally complains.
But the voices in his head seem to fade into the background as the girl beside him looks up at him with creased eyebrows and this low voice as she asks, "You are coming to the party, right?"
He finds the invitation sitting in a stack of envelopes in the middle of his small kitchen table of his small apartment. It's thicker and a bit heavier than all the other bills and junk mail he gets, and it's a cream color with his name swirled in a fancy script across it. The card inside is off-white and entirely handwritten, telling him that he's been cordially invited and that it's this coming weekend at the Hall of Justice.
He isn't really sure how he could miss it, but the fact he wasn't the one to bring in the mail probably contributed.
It was still sealed when he opened it. In fact everything was, so he knows she didn't go snooping through his stuff. That surprises him less than it should, but she's been in and out of here for the past few days and he feels more comfortable with it than he's supposed to so it probably means something.
He makes it a point to toss it in the fireplace before moving to the room. (Just because she's there doesn't mean he trusts her at all to be finding this stuff out.)
Her hands are all over him before he's barely stepped through the door.
She tosses his bow and quiver aside and claws at his costume, fingernails already digging into his skin. She knows she hates it when she does this, tossing his stuff aside like it's invaluable and ripping his clothes like he has so many spares to go around. But he knows she's well aware of how this frustrates him and probably does it purposely because angry, crazy-passionate sex is kind of their thing.
She's still there when he wakes up in the morning.
After they've fallen asleep, she usually wakes up at some odd hour of the night (he pretends like it doesn't wake him up, too) and leaves. He's never questioned it, never thought it meant anything to him until now, when he finds himself turning around and she's still there, back pressing against his chest. He kind of just stares for a minute or two, like maybe he's still half asleep and just picturing her there.
But then she shifts against him and makes this little purring sound as she mumbles, "I didn't take you for a morning cuddler."
"I don't cuddle."
She cracks open on eye and tilts her head back to look at him. "Sure you don't."
The smirk on her face has him tossing the covers aside and storming to his dresser, throwing open the top drawer. She chuckles and flips over onto her other side, watching him.
"I'll be gone for the weekend." He doesn't know why he says this, or why he watches her through the mirror on the wall as if expecting some sort of reaction. It just sort of happens.
He thinks it takes a second longer than necessary for her to shrug one shoulder and reply, "Is this supposed to mean anything to me?" It could just be his imagination, too.
"No." He slams the drawer shut, heads for the bathroom. "It's not."
(She's gone when he gets out of the shower. No, this doesn't surprise him in the slightest.)
The party is a lot fancier than he expected, with their masks and costumes off and everyone in suits and evening gowns.
An impressive buffet table runs along one of the walls (and that's just the refreshments and hors d'œuvres) and he won't deny that it's a nice change of pace, everyone mingling and not thinking about work. It's entirely too formal and extravagant for such a small amount of people, but they're rarely able to do things like this and since Diana convinced Bruce to pay for the entire thing, then why not?
He hasn't talked to Ollie yet, however. His former mentor tried to greet him when he first walked in, but got whisked away by Shayerah and has been passed off from person to person ever since.
"It might be a while until you talk to him," Dick laughs when he tells him this.
He smiles behind his glass when he takes a sip. "He is the man of the hour." He eyes the boy beside him. "This is some party."
Dick shrugs his shoulders. "Kind of formal for my taste, but whatever suits them, I guess. And Bats seems to be enjoying himself," he adds with a chuckle.
He arches an eyebrow, smiling in amusement as he follows Dick's gaze and spots the billionaire from across the room. A small but pleasant smile replaces his usual serious frown or occasional scowl, which may or may not have to do with the fact that Diana has their arms linked together as she is chatting with J'onn.
"When did that happen?" he asks.
"It didn't. Bats is way too stubborn to admit that he may have been wrong about heroism and having a personal life."
He arches an eyebrow at the younger teen and remembers what the Boy Wonder had commented during their mission the other week. The way Dick looks up at him with his infamous smirk tells him he knows they're thinking about the same thing, and he has a vague feeling he's trying to make a point here. So he rolls his eyes and Dick just laughs, sliding his hands into his pockets.
"What you said before, about not having a personal life because you're too into your work," Dick begins, "Did you really mean that?"
His tone is pretty serious considering this is him, but Dick isn't staring at him or anything because his eyes are lingering on Suzie as she is talking with Hal across the room. He knows Dick for the most part, enough to know that he wants a serious answer.
He looks away from Dick looking at Suzie and his eyes travel.
They take in the way Iris giggles as she feeds Barry a bite of her pastry, the way Jason and Joan are laughing as Wally and Artemis argue, the way M'gann doesn't interrupt but instead squeezes Conner's hand and continues looking at him endearingly as he talks with Clark. They don't miss the fact Orin has not removed his hand from Mera's very pregnant stomach all night, or the way Diana leans her head back against Bruce's shoulder to whisper something into his ear, or the look of adoration Kaldur has on his face for Cassie as she is laughing with Katar and John.
(Okay, so maybe, quite possibly there is a chance he had been a little wrong about what he said.)
A hand falls on his shoulder and Ollie is standing there, smiling like the small doubts inside his head that his old protégée wouldn't show had been utterly crushed and he was perfectly fine with it.
"Do you think I could borrow him for a minute or two?" he asks, eyes shifting to Dick and back to him, "If that's alright with him, of course."
"It's fine," he assures. He's been expecting this all night, though before turning to leave with, he casts a look over his shoulder and calls out, "Hey, Rob." The Boy Wonder stops and turns his head back around to meet his eyes. "No. I didn't really mean it. Not anymore."
He smirks like he had known his answer all along. The kid is really too smart for his own good.
They can't exactly go outside (paparazzi knows they're all in there, but doesn't know they're without their masks, for obvious reasons), but they step out of the huge room and into the hallway for some fresher air. It's not at all too loud inside the room but it's even quieter outside and probably a more suitable atmosphere for whatever they're supposed to be talking about. He has two or three guesses.
"Congratulations, by the way," he says after a moment. "I got to tell Dinah earlier, but…"
Ollie smiles. "Thank you. It means a lot coming from you, you know." Yeah, he supposes he already knew that. "It's just… I don't know. Did it surprise you?"
He shakes his head. "Let's just say that I kind of figured it wouldn't be that hard of a decision for you." His hand slides into his pocket. "She's the one, huh, old man?"
Ollie laughs. "She's the one. And I'm not near old yet," he adds, making the younger man smirk. "But, I guess I'm just curious how you feel about it. I know you were pretty strict when it came to your work and whatnot…"
"I know you're not asking for my approval over your marriage, right?"
His old mentor chuckles and runs a hand over his chin. "Yes, I guess that's what I'm doing." He looks at him. "It doesn't seem silly to me."
"No, I guess not." Sometimes he forgets how close they were, and little things like this make him think maybe it's okay to put the past in the past. He doesn't want to go back to what they were, but maybe salvage what survived and take it with them to the now. "I've just recently gotten over most things I believed from before," he tells him, "And, I'm happy for you. You should know that."
The man's answering smile is the brightest he's seen, let alone received, from him in what feels like years. There may or may not be tears in his eyes, but he doesn't point it out.
Ollie places a firm hand on his shoulder again and takes a moment to just be. He's alright with this. This resolution of theirs is probably long overdue.
"I'm glad you feel that way." And, alright, he'd be lying if he said that he wasn't the slightest bit surprised when Ollie continued with, "I'm glad you feel that way because I want to ask you to be my best man."
His apartment is dark and cold when he comes home, and it started to pour on the drive home. He runs his hand through his hair when he gets inside, kicking the door shut and dropping his briefcase onto the couch. The clock tells him it's a little past midnight, but he doesn't feel the least bit tired. He declined Wally's invitation to go back to Mount Justice because there was something dragging him back home.
He stumbles upon that "something" when he walks into his bedroom, flicks on the lights, and finds his bed isn't empty like he left it.
She stirs underneath the covers and combs her fingers through her hair, glaring at him. "Turn the damn light off," she grumbles. "What are you doing home?"
"I should be asking you that." He crosses his arms over his chest and leans against the doorway. She rolls her eyes and flips onto her side, propped up on her elbow. "What are you doing here?"
"You lied," she chuckles. "You were supposed to be gone for the weekend."
"Last time I checked, it wasn't supposed to mean anything to you." She smirks like she expected him to say that. He doesn't find it as irritating as he should. "What are you doing here?" he repeats.
"It's cold outside," she sighs, lying flat on her back. Her head rolls to look at him, her chin touching her shoulder slightly. "I thought a bed might help."
He doesn't want to think where she may or may not be sleeping every other night. He assumes she has a home, or someplace she goes to at the end of the day that's not his apartment. But, like he said, he doesn't want to think about it right now, so he just turns off the lights and walks over to the bed. The rain reminds him of that night in that motel room and how they look so much better in the dark.
She grasps for his tie and kicks the covers off of her in the same second, tugging him down, fingers already undoing the buttons of his shirt. Her nails scrape along his skin as she is nearly ripping his clothes, tossing them in vague directions around the room, and when she reaches his belt he groans and mutters, "Cheshire," under his breath.
Her lips curve upward into a smirk, but it isn't later, somewhere between all of the moans and gasps and sighs that she presses her lips to his ear and whispers, "Jade."
And then she comes undone beneath him.
Small things start changing around his apartment. He pretends not to notice them, and she pretends like she's not doing it. In other words, they both don't want to talk about it, so they're not going to.
There's an extra toothbrush in his bathroom now, and a hairbrush, dryer, flat iron, and clear pouch with hair-ties and bobby pins. A makeup bag is now in his cabinet above the sink, and there is a pink bottle of conditioner beside his shampoo. Women's clothing, some with impressive labels that makes him question whether she bought them or stole them, fill the once-empty spaces of his drawers.
He wants to believe she's trying to move herself in, except it doesn't sound like something she'd do.
But every day this week more stuff has turned up in his apartment, and every night this week she's slept in his bed, so she must not be planning to continue staying wherever all this stuff is coming from.
He stumbles upon them after dropping the toothpaste cap, because he had to bend down near the small waste bin and happened to look in. The fact he has to find out this way makes it ten times worse.
It's just before dark, and she should be coming home soon, but he gets into his car anyway and drives down to the nearest convenience store. He ignores the looks two or three people in line give him when he reaches the register to pay and dismisses any attempt at small conversation the cashier tries to make. Usually, he'll be nicer, but he's not in the mood to pretend to listen to the comments.
She's sitting at the kitchen table, her feet propped up on an empty chair, when he gets back.
"Why didn't you tell me?" he demands. He tosses what he bought onto the table so that it slides right up to her and she can't pretend to not know what he's talking about.
She narrows her eyes and looks pissed. "If you saw it, why the hell did you buy another one?" she snaps.
"Because you're taking it another time for me to see." Out of all the times he's let her to whatever she wants without giving up answers, to be the one calling the shots, this is not one of them.
He expects her to put up a fight since she doesn't take kindly to orders, but she just snatches the box off of the table and storms her way into the bedroom and straight to the bathroom, and he follows. There's nothing private between them anymore, so he honestly doesn't care if she takes it right there. She's taken it twice before, but those had the lines and he got the one with the words so there's no doubting it.
It manages to seem even harsher when she tosses it into the sink a few minutes later and the word pregnant is staring back at them in the too-bright lighting.
She pushes past him back into the bedroom and he grasps her arm and repeats, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Do I have to spell it out for you?" she nearly growls. "I'm not going to… I can't. We can't."
"That's bullshit," he snaps. Had it been any other situation, he would've taken into consideration the fact she indirectly admitted to vulnerability, but she's using it to justify an abortion and it's not okay.
"Is it, Roy?" (No, it doesn't surprise him she knows his name. She lives in his apartment, sorts through his mail, it was bound to happen.) "We're nowhere near stable, and our work? My work – we can't put her through danger like that…" She blinks. "Him! Whatever it is!" She's frustrated and not thinking straight, which is kind of throwing him off right now.
It's not as if he doesn't see her point, and that she's obviously debated about this for a while, thinking things through, and isn't doing this off of an impulse like everything else.
But he's been looking into her eyes a lot more intently lately and he can see things there, like she's finally comfortable showing him emotion or maybe he's just getting better at reading her. He does this now and even though he's never seen her scared, she can tell she is about this. They're not married, nowhere near getting engaged. They haven't even been on one date. Their work deems them as enemies.
And now there's a fine line separating them from becoming parents and, yeah, he can get why it's rational for her to get an abortion and they can act like nothing happened. Except the wild part is that he looks at her and doesn't see himself leaving her. It doesn't seem wrong for them to be together anymore, not in his mind. The guilt he used to feel doesn't come like it used to. It's strange.
So he pulls her to him and kisses her, wondering somewhere in the back of his mind when he started falling for her.