Nightwing came in through the skylight entrance to the Gotham Clock Tower. Oracle turned from her console to look at him when he walked into the control room.
"Hey," she said. His jaw was tight and he looked agitated. "What's wrong?"
She rolled over to him and rested her palm on his forearm. "Come on, you look like you could spit nails."
"I ran into Bruce on the way over." He hooked his thumbs underneath his mask and popped it off.
"And what did Daddy have to say?" Barbara teased.
Dick walked out into the hallway toward the bathroom. "He decided to give me a talking to about our relationship," he said from the hallway.
Barbara grimaced. A 'talking to' from Bruce was never a good thing. "What did he say?"
"A bunch of bullshit about stuff that's none of his business," Dick said as he wiped spirit gum and black eye shadow from his face with a towel from the bathroom.
"Listen, I'm going to go take a shower, okay. I don't really want to talk about this."
Barbara nodded. As he walked back out of the room she began to recall the last time Bruce had talked to her about her relationship with Dick. It had been years ago, but she could still recall it as though it had only been yesterday.
At 24, Barbara Gordon felt really good about her life. As the cab drove her home from Dick Grayson's 18th birthday party at Wayne Manor she reflected on her station in life. She had a job as a reference librarian at the main branch of Gotham Public Library. She lived on the 21st floor of a 22 story building, oh, and she was Batgirl. She loved being Batgirl. She loved the sensation of swinging on a drop line. She loved kicking bad guys. She loved the feeling of power flowing through her body as she worked out. She loved working with Batman and Robin. She especially loved working with Robin. Sure it was Batman everyone was trying to impress, but Robin was so much more fun. He was every bit as focused on fighting crime as Batman was, but well, he just wasn't so serious about everything. He knew when to lighten up and have a good time. Batman didn't ever seem to have a good time. Still, lately there had been a tension between her and Robin. Well, not just tension, more like sexual tension. They had always had a smooth rapport, like jokes, mostly buddy stuff, but lately the jokes were a little racier, heavy on innuendo. She knew Robin had had a crush on Batgirl for a longtime, but it never seemed evident when they weren't in their costumes. Dick Grayson didn't flirt the way Robin did and he always seemed awkward and somewhat uncomfortable around her when she wasn't dolled up in leather and Kevlar. She shrugged and notched it up to the fantasies of adolescent boys. Once, when he was 15, he had asked her out. They were both in costume and they had just kicked the asses of several drug dealers and left them bound to a pier. They were on a rooftop keeping an eye on the perps until the police arrived. He'd bungled the date thing badly, including a fumbled stolen kiss. It was amazing that he could dispatch several criminals with grace and style, but couldn't ask her out without stuttering. She'd set him straight as gently as she could, and explained that their age difference made being together not only impossible, but also illegal. He'd said he understood, but it was clear that he was hurt. Things had been uncomfortable between them for a little while and then returned to normal, until recently. The last few months, things had heated up considerably. The looks he gave her were longer, less shy, hungry almost. Worse, she found herself responding in turn, and the banter had gone to a whole new level. As the cab dropped her off in front of her building, she shook her head. She needed to get off this track and put things on a more professional level.
Barbara let herself into her apartment and headed for the shower. She wouldn't patrol tonight. She'd had several glasses of wine at the party and wasn't feeling sharp enough to leap from rooftop to rooftop.
The shower helped to clear her head. She bundled up in big white terry cloth robe, brushed her teeth and got a big glass of water. She turned on the stereo and curled up on the couch with the Horn Book Review. She must have dozed off, because she startled awake at the sound of something tapping against the sliding glass door that lead to her balcony. She pulled the curtain aside to find Robin standing there.
She slid the door back. "Hey."
"Are you okay?"
Barbara looked at him. "What are you doing here?"
"I know, I was at the party remember. I gave you the gift certificate to Tower Records."
Robin nodded. "Thank you." He indicated the door. "May I?"
Barbara backed up, and he came into the room. The breeze from the open door ruffled his thick black hair. Barbara felt underdressed somehow and tightened the sash around her waist. It seemed strange, surreal even, that he was in costume and she wasn't. To her surprise he hooked his thumbs under his mask and popped it off. His eyes seemed very blue tonight.
"I appreciate the gift certificate," he said, looking at the mask in his hands. "But, that's not what I really wanted for my birthday."
"I'm sorry. I wasn't sure what to get you..."
He stepped closer. "I'm legal," he whispered.
Barbara wasn't sure why, but she whispered back. "Legal?"
He nodded and then moved in closer and kissed her. At first it was just his lips soft but firm against hers. Something in the back of her mind said back out of this, but instead she opened her mouth. It wasn't the appropriate response of a 24 year old woman to an 18 year old boy, but she didn't feel like an older woman and nothing that her fingers touched as they smoothed across his chest felt like a boy. Her fingers found the clasps of his cape and unlatched it to fall as a pool of gold around their feet. His hands came up to settled at her waist and pull her closer. They were the same height when she was barefoot and he had his boots on, otherwise she had an inch on him.
The utility belt went next. She pulled the zipper on his shirt and felt his hand fumbling with the sash of her robe. Wait as second, she thought. I'm naked under here. I take off his shirt we're still cool, this robe comes off and things are going to get very hot. Oh shit! She could feel the terrycloth pooling around her feet.
"Babs." He breathed her name more than spoke it. "God, you are so beautiful."
She could feel herself blushing, which is not where she wanted to be. Don't be stupid, pick up the robe. Tell him to go home. Think about this for Christ's sake. Think about what you're doing! But as his hands came up to cup her breasts and his mouth returned to hers, thinking became increasingly more difficult. He was a wonderful kisser. She actually whimpered when he pulled away. She opened her eyes to find him tugging at his crotch.
"I've got to get out of this cup," he growled.
Her hands moved his aside. All doubt about where this was going or where it should go disappeared. This felt right. It shouldn't feel right, but it did. Okay, so he was younger than she was. What other guy was ever going to understand her life the way he did? She gently removed the cup from his tights and tossed it. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed it hit the phone, but then her attention was back on him. He leaned down and unlatched his boots, kicked them off and the tights followed.
"Wow." She couldn't help it. Dick Grayson looked like a Greek god, chiseled physique, blue eyes, black hair. If he ever wanted to give up crime fighting he could always be a male model. Was he blushing? He was blushing. He was so cute. She reached down, took his hand and began walking back to her bedroom.
Okay, the thing about 18 year old guys is they lose points on time in, but make it up on repetition. To top it off he was flexible and eager to please. That made him damn near perfect as far as Barbara was concerned.
They were sitting in the floor of her kitchen, stark naked and starved after round three. They were eating grapes and talking about who the worst criminals were. They both agreed that The Joker was the absolute worst. He was sitting behind her with his legs splayed out on either side of hers. She could feel him hardening against the base of her spine.
"You know," she said, "I used to think your parents really cursed you by calling you Dick."
He snorted. "Thanks a lot."
Barbara smiled and leaned back against him, "But now, I think it might have been divine inspiration."
He laughed and tickled her sides.
She retaliated until they were rolling around the floor like mad. Finally, she landed on top. She didn't think she could pin him down, but her breasts so near his face distracted him long enough to do it. "Let's go back to bed."
Barbara lay back against her pillow staring up at the ceiling of her bedroom. This was a great night. Dick really was a boy wonder. Unlike previous partners, of which there had only been a few, he could keep up with her, more than keep up with her he could match her. She grinned and shut her eyes. His head was pillowed against her breast, his arm thrown casually over her as he slept. She felt like she should be ashamed of herself, but all she felt was satisfied. She must have dozed off, but as she opened her eyes, he was there. Batman, dark and eternal, at the foot of her bed, glaring at them. Barbara's first instinct was to pull the blanket up to cover her breasts. Batman didn't appear to notice or care about her nudity. He merely crooked a finger at her indicating she was to follow and disappeared from the room.
Shit, shit, shit, she kept thinking as she gently extricated herself from Dick's embrace, trying desperately not to wake him up. She quickly pulled on a pair of yoga pants and a spandex tank top from the floor. She tiptoed out of the room and silently shut the door behind her. Batman was waiting for her on the balcony. His glare was severe, even more severe than usual. Still, Barbara stood up straight, set her jaw and stepped out on to the balcony. There was chill in the air. She could feel her flesh goose pimple. He wasn't going to intimidate her. She hadn't done anything wrong. She refused to speak first so there was a long silence between them.
Finally Batman spoke. "He said he was going to Titan Tower."
Barbara resisted the urge to start explaining, this wasn't any of his business. If Dick lied about where he was going tonight, that was between them and had nothing to do with her. Batman was clearly waiting for her to say something and then frowned deeply as her silence continued.
Finally he growled, "What are you doing here?"
"This is my apartment, my balcony."
She could see the muscle in his jaw clench tighter, this time the growl was lower, more threatening. "I mean with Dick."
Barbara swallowed hard, but was determined not to be cowed. "You were in my bedroom. I should think it would be obvious."
"Dick is young. Innocent."
Barbara didn't say anything.
"You are neither."
Her eye twitched. That stung, but she held her tongue.
Batman stepped closer, looming over her. "I know why I do what I do. I know why Dick does what he does. You. You I suspect of being a thrill seeker."
Barbara blinked back the tears that threatened. She'd thought she'd made headway with him. That he might even respect her just a little, clearly not. She crossed her arms across her breasts, suddenly conscious that she wasn't wearing a bra and the night air was cold.
"If this is just another thrill..." he left the threat unspoken.
You'll what? Report me to vigilante human resources for sexual harassment.
Barbara blew out a calming breath and steeled herself. "He came to me. He always comes to me when he needs something. This time it was sex. I don't turn him away."
Batman blinked. He glared at her, set his drop line, and disappeared over the side of the balcony.
Barbara leaned heavily against the railing and trembled. Damn him. She wasn't sure how long she stood there staring at the night when she felt warm hands circle her waist.
"Hey," Dick said, resting his head on her shoulder and wrapping his arms around her. "What are you doing out here? You're like an icicle."
Barbara leaned her head back against his shoulder. "I just came out for some air."
Dick ran his hands up to cup a breast in each one. "I love these," he said, giving them each a little squeeze.
She couldn't help but laugh.
"Come back in," he whispered in her ear. "Let me warm you up."
She nodded and took his hand, following him back to the bedroom. She wouldn't analyze this right now. She would take it for what it was. They could define it later. Right now she just wanted to be warm and wrapped around him. If that was thrill seeking, then so be it.
When Dick got out of the shower, Barbara was already in bed. He slid in next to her and wrapped his arms around her. She snuggled against his chest.
"What did he want?" she asked in spite of herself.
Dick was nuzzling the back of her neck. "Who?"
Dick nipped at the sensitive flesh under her ear. "He's a control freak. Let's not talk about him."
Barbara turned her head to give him better access. "He loves you," she whispered.
Dick pulled away from her. "Me?"
She rolled over to face him. "Yes."
"Well, for someone who loves me, he's awfully concerned about what I'm doing to you."
Barbara leaned back and looked at him. "What you're doing to me?" That's ironic.
"Mmmhmm," he murmured as he leaned down to kiss her neck.
"Just what does he think you're doing to me?"
Dick moved his kisses to her collarbone. "Probably exactly what I'm doing."
Barbara shifted against the bed. "And what is that?" she whispered.
"Did you want me to give him a list and draw him a picture?"
Barbara giggled. She couldn't believe she'd been reduced to giggling. "So what did you tell him?"
"I told him we were fine and to mind his own business." He moved his kisses still lower.
Barbara rested a hand in his hair and watched him move down her body, watched for the exact moment when she could no longer feel his hands and his mouth, watched and wondered. Are we fine, and if so, for how long?