Having And Holding
"Take me to bed."
Bruce froze in the midst of removing his cape, Dick's husky words echoing off the cave walls and reverberating in his ear. The wheels that turned in his head to work his ear drums must have sprung a sprocket. The bat that ran those wheels must have taken a coffee break – or dropped dead from exhaustion.
He could not possibly have heard what he thought he had.
It was just the stress of Dick's birthday party – family only, Alfred, Bruce, Barbara, and Tim in attendance; he himself was the only one subject to society bashes to celebrate his birth, thank whatever Gods protected Bats and Birds alike – being followed up by having to spend seven hours tracking down both the Riddler and the Joker (plus Harley Quinn, and the hyenas Bud and Lou) that made him think he'd heard Dick proposition him.
Dick, his ward (but never his son), the boy he'd mentored (who'd taught him so much in return, about how to love and live life) and taken care of since he was a child (who'd give him a second chance to live his childhood)…
…and even if there was a (secret, even from himself) reason he'd never actually adopted Dick (Dick was and always would be family), he'd never expected Dick to (try and) figure it out, let alone (want to) follow up on it.
Bruce's head swiveled around to face Dick, finding only implacable calm on the younger man's face, where he had hoped (feared) finding a joking smile.
Dawn was just breaking – not that it could be seen inside the darkness of the Batcave – over Gotham City as Bruce replayed Dick's four words over in his head to be sure he hadn't heard wrong – he had to do it three times before they'd actually registered on his consciousness – and then felt himself let out a subvocal groan of pure, unadulterated panic.
For once in his life, Batman had no clue what to do. Neither did Bruce Wayne, and it looked like the both of them would have to deal with the fallout of their folly for falling in love with their partner.
"How?" Bruce finally managed to grind out through gritted teeth. He was unsure whether he was asking how Dick had found out, or how Dick expected him to 'take him to bed' when he was in the middle of having an existential crisis.
Dick, apparently, had decided to go with the first interpretation, bless whatever unidentified deities watched over broody Bats.
"You've given me looks ever since I first arrived here," Dick said without preamble, slow strides carrying him forward until he and Bruce were barely a breath apart. "At first they were just so intense, I didn't know what to make of them. I gradually came to realize that they were full of something similar to the stark-raving terror of a new parent: 'How the hell do I think I could be a good role model for this kid?' 'Am I insane for letting him go out to fight crime when he isn't even old enough to shave, let alone drive?' 'What the fuck is the kid thinking with the fairy boots?'" He quirked a grin, as if to let Bruce know that Dick understood his point of view better now that he'd moved back into the manor and was dealing with Tim on more than a part-time basis. And to remind his former guardian that yeah, looking back, his original costume was a bit…gaudy.
To put it – and everything else about their relationship – mildly.
"After my first few years as Robin, you started to look at me with the pride a teacher has in a favorite student," Dick continued. Left unsaid was that until Bruce found Tim, Dick had been Bruce's only student – and in some ways (most notably those involving acrobatics and flexibility) Dick had surpassed his teacher (and even taught him a few things). "When I was thirteen they changed," Dick said soberly. He held up a hand between them to halt Bruce's instinctive protests. "I didn't realize it right away, but they reminded me of the looks my mother always used to give me whenever I learned a new trick; more than pride, but something like joy, and they made me feel all warm inside."
Dick flushed slightly, ducking his head as he admitted, "I didn't really understand that that was love until I was sixteen, when you started giving me the looks my father gave my mother after a particularly good show; like you wanted to both fuck me into the nearest flat surface and love me into oblivion." Dick full-on blushed as he said those words, but Bruce was too tangled up inside to decide whether or not it was because he was embarrassed to think of his parents having sex, or because Alfred had ingrained in him the fact that, 'Gentlemen do not use vulgar language, young sir.'
How, exactly, could Bruce be so tense he felt like he was about to snap, and simultaneously feel like he was about to melt into a puddle of mortification and seep through the floor? Please, he begged of the universe at large, not even knowing what he was begging for.
Bruce must have made some noise expressing his dismay with the situation in general, because Dick rushed on with, "It took me until I was eighteen to realize what all those looks meant, and until I was nineteen to realize that I felt the same way. But then you and I had our big blow-up–" here he grimaced, eyes expressing all the regret neither of them had ever been able to express with mere words, "–and it took me until I was twenty-one to admit to myself that I'd never be complete without you; you'd always have a part of me." He stared Bruce straight in the eye and said, quietly, calmly, and firmly, "I'm twenty-two now, Bruce, and I know that I never want to stop holding on to you. And I'm tired of waiting for you to make the first move. I love you."
Stunned, Bruce definitely was. Terrified that this was going to turn out any way but good, Bruce was well on his way to being. Hopeful that this could turn out any way but bad, Bruce desperately yearned for. He was Batman; he couldn't possibly expect his greatest wish to come true. He'd given up having a life outside of the 'Cave long ago; having Dick in his life to begin with – not to mention Barbara, and now Tim, and even Jim Gordon to an extent, never to mention Alfred, who'd been there from the very beginning – was more than he had ever dreamed of, let alone hoped for.
Wish…granted, the universe whispered in his ear.
Bruce never was one to be impulsive, but he could recognize a window of opportunity when it was slammed open in his face. "Once I have you, I won't let you go," Bruce said warningly. Warning Dick, warning himself – because even if they completely fucked this new step in their relationship up, Bruce knew he still wouldn't be able to let Dick go. "…ever," his mouth added the caveat entirely independently of his brain.
Dick snorted, rolling his eyes in patent show of withering amusement. "You've had me since before I first put on the Robin suit." Left unsaid was that Nightwing had been a way for him to break the jesses of his childhood, and spread his wings and fly on his own. All the while still retaining a tie to his mentor in the form of a shared nest.
And that Dick wasn't planning on waiting anymore (wasn't planning to put up with any more of Bruce's brooding).
"You've had me too," Bruce said softly, and reached out to pull his love into his arms – and hold him. "Always," he promised with a heartfelt kiss.
Maybe…he couldn't expect happiness in his life. But maybe they could have it…and hold onto it together.