Been a while since I wrote any Bruce/Dick. Mostly because the DCU had been … disappointing. But I did type up this little bit of fluff, and I noticed it wasn't posted. Not serious, so don't expect much. Batman and Nightwing. Sort of. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson at any rate. Sort of.
Multi chapter – but complete as posted.
The Black Tulip Affair
Daring Adventure from the Kinky Case-files of Bull and Leatherboy
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. I don't own the hotel. I don't own a briefcase full of diamonds. Doesn't mean I wouldn't LIKE to own any or all of the above - but if you think writing fan fic pays? Not enough to buy a leather shoestring.
Location: Hornet-verse. After Jaguar. I think. Anyway - Dick is still a cop in the Haven.
Other Location: The Black Tulip is indeed a hotel, and within the degree that a website and my limited skill can equal reality, it is accurately described. I read and I was... freaked. Utterly. NOT because there was such a hotel for such a clientelle. (THAT makes perfect sense. ) But because... I swear on my own grave this is true... the rates listed include a single room. Which is shudder. I mean - do you know how strange you would have to be to check in there ALONE to get a GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP??? (The mind boggles.)
Rated:G-ish in fact, but R-ish because... I don't write for kids. Ever.
Squick Factor. Ummm... serious BDSM - but not taken very seriously. Some may be offended at the lack of offensiveness.
Archive: Why would you want to? But as always, ask.
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Dick Grayson took one last look at the airport surveillance photo, reread the Interpol Alert, carefully considered his options, and then did what any sensible super hero would do under the circumstances. He called home.
Bruce Wayne hung up the phone, took one last look at his overflowing in box, reread this weeks list of must-take meetings typed up by the ever efficient Shondra, and did what any sensible businessman with a handsome and much younger lover who 'needed him desperately' would do. He told Shondra to reschedule and called for his car.
Alfred Pennyworth took one look at Dick Grayson's meticulous list of instructions and... snorted tea though his nose.
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Chapter 1: Checking In
"Why exactly are we..." Bruce took in the busy street scene. Clean pastel storefronts, busy sidewalks, bicycles everywhere. Not Gotham, that was for damn sure. Nowhere in North America. Logical - for a short trip Dick wouldn't have needed to borrow the JLA transporter. Sun sitting low for April. North, then. He could use the GPS, or check his watch and calculate the movement of shadows, or... he could just ask. "Where are we anyway?"
"Amsterdam." Dick picked up their two suitcases.
"That would explain the dikes." Bruce could just make out the seawall in the distance.
"No, the neighborhood would explain that."
"Geldersekade 16." A sudden shift of topic, but Bruce saw that Dick was talking to a taxi driver. The man frowned, but took their bags.
"Because?" Bruce settled into the back of the undersized auto.
Dick leaned on Bruce's shoulder, one hand sliding down to his waist. Whispering distance.
Dick being discrete - at least in one meaning of the word. As to the other? Surely no one they knew would spot them here. Not to mention that...well... Holland. The driver hadn't bothered to look back.
"Interpol finally got a lead on the man we suspect arranged that last shipment of cocaine to Mrs. Mingh last month."
"Klaus Torren." At least by most-common-alias. Illusive bastard. Man of a thousand blurry faces and as many stolen names. International con man and double dealer. The sort where the cargo was even worse when it wasn't fake. A felonious ferret who had slipped though the best net both Batman and the GHPD could devise. If Interpol had him...No. If Interpol had the man, Dick would have flown out courtesy of the BHPD. Or - more likely - they would have faxed a photo for Officer Grayson to ID.
Grayson had been in on the bust - and thus the only living law enforcement official to get a clear look at Torren's face.
Which explained Dick's interest.
"Not Klaus. Not exactly."
"He has a ... long term partner. Heinrick Humferbotem."
Which had to be the man's real name. Because no one would pick that as an alias.
Dick fished out his wallet as the taxi turned onto a small bridge crossing a canal. "Both."
Which made sense. Because if you were dealing? Trusting anyone you weren't screwing was a fast way to end up screwed.
"Local police spotted 'Hinney' in Caracas. Tried to follow, but they lost him. Oracle picked him up again last week in Rio. He used a credit card to make reservations. Here. Tonight. For two. So?"
The taxi stopped in front of a bland looking three story house.
"While we don't know where Klaus is - we know where he will be."
Dick waved a fifty-euro bill. That improved the drivers mood enough to get their door opened for them.
"Thanks." Dick indicated that the driver should leave the luggage beside the narrow wooden door of a (Bruce instantly took in myriad minor details ) indifferently modernized 16th century Dutch house. There was a sign on one wall, listing the street address and the word 'Hotel', but neither offered a clue as to why Dick had been drawn here.
"And you need me because?"
Dick banged the door knocker, grinning madly. "You'll see."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Bruce stepped lightly into the narrow reception area. Not much - but few older European hotels were impressive on the ground floor. Tiny reception counter. Lumpy Naugahyde couch - fairly new - but with worn cushions and one tiny tear just under the left arm meticulously mended with electricians tape. Black and white linoleum tiles straight from the fifties, track lighting from IKEA, and lobby art from hell.
He stepped closer to a framed photo collage.
Nice lens work ... but...?
The last time Bruce had seen a a body tied up like that...? Well, Bruce never had. And Batman had been hauling the photographer back to Arkham.
A middle-aged man in faded camo ran Dick's credit card. (Well - hopefullynot Dick's actual credit card. Bruce was getting the clear impression that this was a place you wanted an alter-ego for your alter-ego .) Whatever. It must have cleared, as the man handed over a key.
The elevator in the far wall opened.
A young man in jeans and a dog collar appeared - and just as quickly dis appeared with their luggage.
Dick bowed - Alfred formal. "After you."
Bruce waited until the elevator doors slid shut in front of them.
"This is..." Some elaborate practical joke, was Bruce's first thought. Except that Dick had matured out of such pranks. Plus, even in his boy-wiseass days Robin drew a clear line between boyfriend-baiting and work.
"This is the Black Tulip - Amsterdam's premiere all-male all-leather B&B."
"Said initials standing in this case for Buggery and Bondage?"
"Pretty much. " Dick pushed the number three button. "Now you see why I need you. This is not the sort of place a guy can check into alone. Well - not and stay alone."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Dick locked the door behind them, having dismissed the silent bellboy with another twenty and a swat to his rear. Both of which must have been... generous... if the young man's blush was anything to go by.
"Take a look at this place."
"I am." Indeed, Bruce thought, he couldn't stop looking. The decor had the same uncanny allure as a train wreck. He'd spent a few 'business trip' nights in 'boutique' hotels where the furnishings had been almost as uncomfortable, but that had been fashion. This was...?
"I love this room."
"I'm beginning to question the future of our relationship."
"Stop grumbling, Bruce. What's not to like?" Dick stood in the middle of the floor - arms outstretched. "It's spacious."
"Once one pushes the... amenities out of the way."
"It's got a king size bed."
"With a dead cow for a bedspread." Heaven knew what the sheets were. Bruce would have put money that the answer was not 200 count Egyptian cotton.
"Bathtub big enough for three." Dick continued, undaunted.
"You were planning on inviting who?"
"Not much closet space." Dick frowned at the single armoire.
"No. I don't imagine closets would be a big selling point for this clientele."
"But a real ergonomic weight bench."
"That is not a weight bench."
"...and a radically high ceiling." Dick vaulted from the padded leather bench to the bed. The mattress to creaked ominously. "Plus there's the chains." Dick bounced again, spinning up and gripping the metal with his left hand. Piking out his legs, he spun until he caught the other chain as well. "I bet I could to my entire rings routine here." Pushing up, he forced himself into a handstand. "Maybe even catches, if I just took the bar from the stocks and hooked it up to... yes!" As the free chains stretched under the uneven weight- he brought his knees up and rolled into a tight forward spin. "See. Room enough for a full spin and..."
Dick kicked out into a split.
Bruce knew this routine. Hard stop, side pike, and then back spin.
The ceiling hooks shook, stressed by the sudden shift of momentum, and the left chain...
Dick was flat on his back. Now the mattress wasn't the only thing groaning.
"Dick. Are you...?"
"Fine." Freeing his right hand from the bedspread, Dick let Bruce help him to his feet. "Just... glad for the rubber floors." Rubbing his backside, he settled gingerly into the high backed leather chair. "Guess the place isn't sturdy enough for my sort of swinging."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
"Well - there is a good view." With two fingers, Bruce opened a tiny crack in the camo print blackout curtains. The windows were tall for an older building - almost floor to ceiling - with only a narrow ledge to block the street scene below. in terms of pure observation, Dick had chosen well."Where do you expect to spot this Klaus Torren? That tower on the corner? The 'coffee shops'?"
Dick shook out his jacket, tossing the garment so that it hooked itself over one arm of the St.Andrew's cross.
"Read." Dick spun the scarlet and black room brochure in Bruce's direction. "The breakfast buffet is included in the room."
Bruce flipped though the glossy pages - then went back and read it again. Slowly. "Quite a few things seem to be... included in the room."
"What else would you expect?" Having found his toothbrush at the bottom of his suitcase, Dick headed for the bathroom. "This is the gay worlds first 'five scar' hotel."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Bruce turned his attention inside.
Having stretched a bit of broken chain to serve as an extra curtain rod, Dick was unfolding Bruce's tux and hanging it in the steel cage bolted below the television. Clever. Dick hadn't been joking about the lack of closet space.
He smiled as Dick hung his own good suit beside it.
Alfred's suggestion. Insistence. Whatever. The butler made them do it.
Bruce suspected Dick would have been just as happy skipping the formal wear. Bruce might have agreed, given what passed for 'ties and tails' at the Black Tulip, until Alfred had pointed out that - unlike Gotham - no one in Holland would blink twice at two gentlemen sharing a waltz.
Call him old fashioned, Bruce had always considered dinner and dancing an ideal date. More so when his partner was tolerable. Entirely when his partner was Dick.
Probably the reason he had dragged his young 'ward' to all those society functions, back in the (distant and preferably unmentioned) past when Dick had been his ward. Even when he couldn't dance with Dick, just seeing Dick made a dull party... not so dull. Even seeing Dick dance with someone else. ( And yes - even then a part of Bruce had cursed the verminous cloud of debutantes that had swarmed his Dickie like a slab of beefcake. Which was not a metaphor Bruce thought it wise to extend.)
So. A few hours on stake out and then... well... Amsterdam might not have had the historic grace of London or the techokulture edge of Berlin, but as cities went? The place had it's definite pleasures.
"Relax." Dick tossed their underwear into the top drawer of the nightstand. "Humferbotem won't be here until sometime after midnight."
"So what do we do tonight?"
Dick leered. Not seriously- more a center ring burlesque of a leer - but the idea came across.
"OTHER than that."
"We could watch a movie."
Not a particularly creative idea, but? Between Luthor (hostile regulation) Shreck ( hostile takeover) and Joker ( just plain hostile ) neither Bruce or the Bat had had much downtime in the last week. A cold diet Soder, a bag of no-salt popcorn, and cuddling up to Dick while they watched... Bruce scanned the 'house video' list.
"No shit oh." Dick plucked the list from Bruce's hand. It landed almost in the trash can. "Which is why I packed the new Disney DVD."
"Is that out?"
Surely Clark would have mentioned if he had received a review copy.
"Not really." Dick tossed the jewel case onto the bed and redirected his attention towards the room's mini-fridge. "Tim got it from Kon got it from Captain Marvel."
Bruce took in the blank case. The hand written title. Not yet in release. "I suppose the studio must have given it to him for..." Something heroic. Batman tried to stay up with such things, but not even Oracle could keep track of who was saved from what by who when. There were just too many meta's active out there.
"The reward of purity and light and moral living." Dick passed over one frosty can. "What? You don't think he pirated it, do you?"
"Right. Crazy idea." Taking back the DVD, he headed for the TV.
"Keep the volume low." Bruce plumped up one of the surprisingly fluffy pillows. "The other guest might find this ... strange."
"In this place?" Dick grinned as the title frame flashed immediately onto the screen. " I don't think these guys are in much of a position to call anybody strange.
V (V) V (V) V (V)
The sun had set.
On the television, the final credits blurred into static.
Dick snuggled closer."You sure you don't want to fuck me on the bondage chair?"
"Cartoons make me horney. Must be from all those Saturday mornings sleeping in after a long light 'on the town'."
"Everything makes you horney." Which - as rebukes went - might have been more convincing with more growl and less gasp. But Dick was kissing his neck so, Bruce conceded, a certain amount of... expression... was excusable.
"What about in the sling?"
"The very thought is enough to put me off sex altogether."
"St. Andrew's Cross?"
"Vow of chastity?"
"OK." Dick grumbled, but not with any great heat. Just teasing. "Then suppose I wanted to..." The rest of the sentence blurred into inaudibility. No wonder. Who could enunciate with their tongue doing that.
"Maybe." Bruce fell back, taking Dick with him. "Although with all this leather..."
"What leather?" The bedspread vanish from beneath them, slick as a circus conjurer with a house of cards.
Bruce sighed as he felt Dick's hands slide up his back. Who cared about the bedspread as long as...
"Don't worry" Dick whispered. "I promise to be very gentle."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Interval : On the one Hans
"Hans! Get in here!"
"Fritz?" The leather clad young man hurried into the small hotel office, carefully closing the door behind him.
"Close out the cash register while I finish these room assignments." The older man frowned. More at the computer screen then at his partner but... "What kept you?"
"Checking out our newest guests."
"Letch!" This time the frown was not at the screen.
"Not that." Hans held his hands up. Apologetic - but not really. "They... bother me. There's just something too... normal... about them."
"And we are ab normal?"
"Sorry Fritz. You can spank me later if I'm wrong..."
"Or even if you're not."
"Please?" The young man's smile shifted from tentative to hopeful.
"Later. " Fritz glared, holding it until Hans obediently sat down behind the counter and pulled out the cash drawer. "So, what troubles you about ... Dick and Bruce, isn't it?"
"That - to start with." Hans thumbed through a wad of ones, turning a few so the bills stacked correctly - face up. "What kinds of a name is Bruce Payne? And Dick Gay-some? How dumb do they think we are?"
"Lots of clients use... other names. As long as they pay their bills..."
"But Bruce?" Hans counted the bills, banded then, and penned the total on the wrapper. "I mean - how limp-wristed-fairy-cliche is Bruce. Who could ever sub to a man named Bruce? Fritz - that's a strong name, A Master's name. But Bruce?"
"You can thank my parents next Sunday, since my name means so much to you. And you can stop with the hints. Work first!"
"Yes, sir...but... " Hans pulled out the stack of fives, repeating the same sequence of stack/count/band he had followed with the ones. "Did you see the way he was dressed?"
"Yes - and if you could keep your mind on the accounting- maybe I could afford to dress that way."
"You wouldn't!" For the first time, Hans looked seriously scared.
"No, but... " Fritz smiled. "Nice tailoring."
"Nice vanilla tailoring."
"Hans. Think." Fritz lifted one hand from the keyboard l just long enough to flash his studded leather wrist-band in the other man's face. "American airport security is getting insane these days. Would you want to wear our sort of fashion past the x-ray machines and airport security guards?"
"No." Han's paused over the stack of twenties, clearly thinking. "But... there's also. He didn't look at me."
"Trying to make me jealous? I already said I'd spank you."
"Danke. But..." The twenties were counted and accounted for. " Everyone looks at me. You know that. You didn't pay for these pants so the customers wouldn't look."
Fritz shrugged. "Maybe he's just monogamous."
Hans snickered. Which impertinence would normally earn him a sound beating. But as they were alone? And since Fritz had already promised?
"Maybe he thinks his master will disapprove."
"That's another thing." Han's moved on to the fifties. "Which one is the master? I mean, the older guy looks tough enough, but... so does the young one." Han's winked. " And at least he hit me."
"Again trying to make me jealous?"
"Again with the you bought these pants." And if one was going to be spanked for impertinence? Which Hans confidently anticipated he would be. Soon. One might as well inspire a through spanking.
"Again with the not until after the money gets into the safe. Money which you are supposed to be counting and - I remind you.- we receive from our guests. So unless you want to go back to handling commercial real estate loans at Deuchebank..."
"Master!" Hans frowned. There was no need for Fritz to be threaten him that way.
"Sorry, my pet."
Han's bent his head over the stack of hundred's. "You are my Master, and I trust you."
"And I trust you. If you truly think this pair... they are a danger?" Fritz rubbed his chin. "Right wing..."
"No." Neither Fritz nor he would have missed that sort. Not and have lived long enough to move to Amsterdam and buy a hotel.
Han's checked his memories. Twice. Had there been a camera in those bags? Anything that clinked? Shifted? Felt electronic?
"No. Not reporters." Not chatty enough. Plus any reporter would could afford a suit like that wouldn't be writing for the Inquisitor. "The vibes are just..."
"You sure? Sorry, master, but..."
"He's an American. They all get nervous around sex."
"Back home they've played a few 'spank me' games. On Saturday night. Alone. With the lights off. The see you on the internet, they get inspired, they save up their pathetic American vacation time, and they fly to Amsterdam for their big 'dirty weekend'. This is probably their anniversary or something."
"Of course." Hans tucked the last stack on bills into the bank bag. " You are right."
"Of course I am right." Fritz turned back to the keyboard, self-reassured. "That's why I'm the Master.
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Chapter 2: Suit Yourself
Seven am. Too early. But the travel alarm had Dick bouncing out of bed. Literally.
"Sleep!" The Bat growl was impressive. Would have been more so had the source been clutching anything more dangerous than a pillow. Or wearing kevlar, rather than a severely shredded pink Pokemon t-shirt. Currently the most disreputable thing Bruce owned. A gift from Dick - last Christmas
Dick swore he had chosen it for the tag line 'you gotta catch em all". Bruce had his doubts. Or rather - NO doubt whatsoever. Dick's vicious sense of humor was incontrovertibly documented by his... additions... to his lover's wardrobe. Pink. Sunshine yellow. Lavender. One I-refuse-to-wear-THAT 'S' shield on royal blue. (Forgivable only because Clark had been sent the counterpart in gray and gold. Which detail Bruce knew because Kal had actually had the unspeakable gall to wear the thing up to the Watchtower. Bastard was lucky he was invulnerable.)
"Breakfast!" Dick had left the bathroom door open. Bruce could hear the shower starting. "I better get down early. Be there when Klaus shows his happy face."
Bruce kicked back the sheet. "I'm not sure I want to show my face there."
"That's all right." Dick shouted over the water. "No one expects you to."
"I get to stay in the room?" Not that he would. One didn't abandon a partner in the field. But...
"You get to wear a mask."
"Thank you - I think."
The water stopped.
Dick strolled back in, rubbing his hair with a towel.
"I'm sorry if you're not..." Dick dropped the towel on the bed. "I thought you would... sort of get off on..."
"Whips and chains?" Bruce picked up the towel. Water damaged leather.
"Well." Dick smiled. "I was thinking more a night with me, but..." He shrugged.
"I do enjoy you, chum." Even if being with Dick meant early mornings, hard mattresses, odd carpeting, and a hostelry of the sort not reviewed by the Michelin Guide. None of the four of which were on the Bruce Wayne list of what-I-want-in-my-life. But... as Dick Grayson most definitely and constantly WAS on said list?
Bruce reached out, finger combing the glossy black hair. "It's just this... place."
That got a laugh. "Can't be that big a challenge for B..."
Bruce glared. They had not checked for wiretaps.
"...ruce Wayne, Cosmopolitan Playboy." Dick finished lightly.
"It's not that I can't handle it." The well disciplined mind could handle anything. "It's just..." The pause was unnoticeable. Bruce was practiced at inventing excuses. "You could have given me time to update myself on the... etiquette. Not to mention," Bruce took on the ragged jeans that Dick was pulling out out of his suitcase, "a chance to pack."
"You own bondage gear?" Dick shook out a chain mesh tank.
Bruce recognized it as part of the undercover gear - knife protection - but not as a part that was worn against bare skin. Fortunately Dick had kept up his gymnasts habit of waxing. Chain link and chest hair? There were some things that could make even the Bat flinch.
"I mean." Dick slid on the metal shirt, holding it in place with some harness of crisscross straps. "Other than all that leather and rubber and rope down in the b..."
Bruce glared again.
"Basement." Dick threw a kiss. "I was gonna say basement."
"Irrelevant, as what I have here is one pair of jeans, two t-shirts - one spare dress shirt and a tuxedo. None of which qualifies as a costume. Unless you count the last." In which case he would be Oswald Cobblepot. A concept more sexually incapacitating than any quantity of fetish gear.
"Nah." Dick bent over. The view woke up the last bits of Bruce that might have been considered 'sleeping'. So to speak. Proving ( Bruce was happy to note) that fetish gear was not all that off-putting after all. Or perhaps just that large quantities of Dick were far more efficacious than any famous little blue pill. Not that he needed any of those. Ever. But...
"No problem." Dick tossed out one sock. "The management is used to light travellers." Dick's backside twitched, shifting to keep his balance as he searched the bottom of his suitcase for the second sock. Bruce could have pointed out that said sock had - just perhaps - fallen behind the chair when Dick had pulled out his shirt. Could and perhaps should. But... he was enjoying the view.
Giving up, Dick fished out a second pair. "Boots and other... fashion accessories... should be waiting for us in the closet."
Show over, Bruce conceded, reaching for the armoire handle. He might as well see what...
"It came with the room." Dick held the 'trust me' expression for about three seconds - then collapsed in giggles. "Not really. But I had Alfred get a selection from the nice guys at 665 leather."
"You..." The growl was back, and real. "Risked ordering...that... from..."
Dick held up his hands. Mock surrender. "It's part of their standard stock. Page 23." Reaching backhanded into the nightstand, he sent a crumpled catalog spinning Bruce's way.
Page twenty-three indeed. If there was a... crap. There was. Well, most of one. Some of the vital safety features - the cup for instance - seemed to be absent.
Things like this made him envy Booster Gold. Blue Beetle. Even Blue JAY for cristsake. No one was ripping off their image.
"I figured," Dick mouthed, noiseless but clear,"since you designed the thing..."
"I did not ..." Security kept him non specific. Barely." I am NOT...!!! That is not... I do not have some ... KINK! The suit is..."
"Bruce." A back somersault landed Dick inches from his partner. "Of course you don't have a kink." He reached over, hugging the other man. "You don't need a kink." Dick whispered. "You ARE a kink."
Bruce could hear himself sputtering. "I am..."
"Face it." Dick planted a kiss on his cheek. "All over the world, millions of sweet teen gayboys are whanking off to fantasies of you and your..."
"Dick!" The growl was back.
"Leather. I was gonna say leather." Strong arms reached under Bruce's. "Only I get to be your 'dick'."
"Anyway, no one thinks you need the suit to be..." Dick's hands sliding down Bruce's back expressed just exactly what he thought his partner was. "You're butch enough as you are. Just ask Roy."
Bruce was not appeased. "You discussed us with ROY!?"
"Not recently." Dick pressed closer. "But back in the ... you know... he was real worried about ... us. What with you being my ex - very EX - guardian and all. Until I told him ..."
"That I could take care of myself", he continued smoothly.
Bruce felt his jaw drop.
"What?" Dick stepped back, his expression strangely offended. "Did you think I would actually tell him how it took me THREE BLOODY MONTHS before you would..."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Fog cleared from the bathroom mirror, giving Bruce Wayne a good look at... something the sane little Bruce-voice at the back of his mind refused to accept as him. He had been planing to shave. Now? Bruce wasn't sure he wanted that creature putting a blade anywhere near his throat.
Passing on the Bat-travesty had left him with a strange sort of rubber wet-suit. Red and black with lots of zippers. Made Kal's crayola costume look tasteful. Hell - it made Plasticman look tasteful. Something Bruce would have sworn violated natural law. Of course, natural law and this costume? Hell, this and anything approaching natural. It didn't even use natural fabrics. To get further from nature, one would have to... he wasn't sure... but...
"Bruce - I never though I'd say this but..." Dick's laugh was muffled by the bathroom door - but not enough. "Isn't it time you came out of the closet?"
"Not dressed like this!" He ignored the closet detail. The bathroom here was small enough to be one. "Why did I let you talk me into this?"
Other then that he loved the brat and Dick could always talk him into just about anything. But if Dick didn't know that... Bruce was too much the tactician to broadcast a point where he was defenseless.
"It's the job." Dick kept his face almost straight as Bruce clomped out. "We do it for the job."
A point. But... Bruce shifted, centered himself, began a simple kata... and...no. Binding. Uncomfortable. The boots might pass, but the rest of the gear? Not only tacky but.. in this he couldn't do his job.
He looked at the closet full of ... items even less commodious. He ignored t the...shudder... SUIT. He was not wearing the cowl in a place like... whatever. But that left him with...
"Just wear jeans." Dick was shrugging on his motorcycle jacket. "It's breakfast. Even ... ( Bruce could hear Dick hesitating over the adjective.) ... this crowd has got to do kick back on Saturday morning.
Bruce looked at the razor in his hand.
He looked at the custom tailored jeans folded over dresser.
He looked at his sky-blue silk tee-shirt.
He looked at the black leather straight jacket hanging in the closet. If one removed the straps and cut a foot off of each sleeve, the result would be... ? Something Guy Gardner would wear on date night. Bad visual. But... non binding. Warm. Rugged. Good leather.
The boots were... excellent.
Snagging the catalog, he slipped it into his suitcase. Fine craftsmanship was getting rare these days. Ask-no-questions craftsmanship was rarer.
He looked at Dick. "Think I could..."
Dick handed him a clasp knife. "Your toys. You bought 'em."
Bruce went to work.
"Do I want to think about what Shondra will say when she gets the credit card statement?"
"Don't worry." Dick held the straps while Bruce cut. ". Though the hotel." He grinned. "If there's one thing the management here knows - it's how to be discrete."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Interval : On the Other Hans
Fritz smiled at his partner as the American pair seated themselves at a round table nearest the door. Farthest from the buffet table, but blessed with a fine view of the canal. This pair didn't seem all that interested in breakfast anyway. The older one seemed fascinated by the boat traffic below, while the younger one was paying more attention to his fellow diners.
"Who?" Hans asked, fork still whipping rapidly though the omelet pan. Hans prided himself on the Black Tulips buffet. The other guests were clearly enjoying their meal, forking custom made omelets from his new 'barbed wire' pattern plates - or in a few cases from dog bowls on the floor.
"The big American you were so worried about? Top."
Fritz laughed. "Did you see that shirt? Who else would have the balls to wear a pink t-shirt - with a white cat."
Hans slid the finished omelet onto a plate. "Someone who seriously wants to be punished?"
V (V) V (V) V (V)
It was ten minutes before Hans, having collected more orders, headed back to the omelet station.
"Bottom." he whispered to Fritz as they passed.
"Did you see those scars? Bottom. And I'm not liking his friend so much anymore."
Fritz took a closer look at the older American.
Hans was right. They weren't easy to see - or on the neck or arms in the style of some excessively macho 'brag' scars - but if one followed the line of that amazingly muscular back with a 'professional' eye? Whip marks, Burns. One indentation in the right trapezoid that had to be... something bad. Irreparable missing flesh.
He frowned. The man's partner - the younger American - just didn't seem the type. Dom-ish, yes, but also constantly soliticious. Careful. Almost... well... enough that Fritz had eventually and reluctantly slotted him as sub. Probably. And even if Fritz had that wrong..well... No. He didn't get where he was by being a bad judge of character.
"Could be... by a former Master."
"I hope so." Hans didn't sound convinced, but the tempo of the omelet fork slowed.
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Still - the question lingered. Enough so that, when the plates were ready, Fritz decided to help Hans with the delivery.
Egg white omelet with herbs for the older man. A bit health-nut, but if it meant a body like that? At close range, the muscles were even more impressive. Unfortunately - so were the scars. Farmhouse scramble for the younger man, with a side of fried tomatoes.
Dick was apparently finished checking out the room. Now, it seemed, he was checking out Humferbotem. Pity. Heinrick was a good customer but bad news.
Bruce was noticing - but not complaining.
Can't win them all.
Looking at Hans, he mouthed 'bottom'. Because if someone who looked like this Gay-some was free to even look ? Even in his untrained youth, Fritz would not have been so foolish.
But again - not his business. And - thinking of what was his business?
The polite "Enjoying your stay?" gained a bland nod from the older man - and - this was different - a blush from the younger.
"Sorry. But last night I... I broke one of your chain. The one over the bed?" Dick looked up from the just delivered breakfast. "I guess I got a little... rambunctious."
So. Hans might be wrong after all. If this Dick was the one in chains?
"We'll pay for it, of course." The older man , sounding like the line was familiar.
"No." Fritz waved off the offer, in the good mood that comes from being right. "I wouldn't hear of it."
Although he would pay more then the price of spare hardware to hear about it.
If his pup kept breaking things, perhaps his Master should train him better? Then again - if it was wild sex that resulted in broken chains? Sex wild enough to result in a broken chain - well then...? Fritz allowed the parade of intriguing images to parade before his mind's eye. Just maybe this Dick was perfect the way he was.
Bruce pulled out their room key, dropping it on the table. "For now, you may have him ( identified with a nod at Hans ) transfer us to the Marquis suite." Once Fritz agreed, he turned his attention to Hans. "Here are the suitcase keys. Leather in one closet. Clothes in the other."
Another point for Fritz. This Bruce had a Dom's manners.
"Oh - and some wood for the fireplace. Two long skewers - preferably with wooden handles."
"Branding?" Hans looked at Fritz for direction. They usually discouraged branding. So much could go wrong. But...
Fritz stepped forward. "I'm not sure..."
"Plus one bag of marshmallows." Bruce continued. "Extra large."
That was strange but... strange was their business.
Pocketing the keys, Hans headed back to the omelet station.
Fritz looked at Hans.
Hans looked at Fritz. "Top. Definite top."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Chapter 3: Street Trade
"What was that all about?" Dick whispered once the innkeeper was safely distant.
"According to his key, your target is in room 21."
Bruce's eyes indicated Heinrick Humferbotem, who was currently enjoying a second helping of scrambled eggs. Not in and of itself implausible, Dick allowed as he nibbled appreciatively on the end of a thick Dutch sausage. The cuisine was excellent. Although the dog bowl floor service and the minor difficulties of dining with ones hands manacled behinds ones back might have put off even Roy's legendary appetite.
Or not. Roy took after his 'dad'. Dick had always had his... suspicions... about Ollie.
Oh well. To each his own. And in Hinney's case? Dick forced himself not to grimace at the rolls of untanned pudge squished into studded black spandex. His own was welcome to him.
Bruce's observation was (no surprise there) right. There was indeed a key, complete with plastic hotel fob, hooked on to the barbed steel choke-chain looped around the man's neck.
"That should help..."
"Moving to the Marquis suite - room 31 - will put us right above him." Bruce continued, uninterrupted.
"You do tend to."
"We are not here to..." Bruce saw Dick start automatically. And he saw him pause, first objection warring with... desire. Not the same desire that flashed when Torren had glanced at Dick, but? Dealing guns from a day-care center irritated Nightwing. Shooting cops outraged Officer Grayson. Klaus Torren was - if not exactly in the manner he would have wished - very much a 'wanted' man.
"I had planned to have Oracle slip the ID to the local police, but?..." Dick angled his spoon, using the polished bowl to catch the reflection of the criminal pair. "But... since we're here - and HE's here..." Dick was thinking out loud.(Well, in a whisper.)
"Why not take him?" Bruce finished.
The objection-to-smile pattern flashed again. This time in reverse.
"That's why Batman is a vigilante." Dick set the spoon down. "I can't just jump the man in some alley. I'm a policeman now. Police need a reason."
"No" Bruce smiled. Or rather - Batman showed his teeth. "You have a reason. What you're hoping for is an excuse."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
It had seemed like a good idea at the time.
Track the threat. Observe the pattern. Predict the crime. Get out of the hotel.
Of course, the honest little voice in Bruce's head added, that last had been tacked on to the list before he had known where Klaus was headed.
Hesitating outside this last door, Bruce wasn't sure whether to be relieved or annoyed at the smuggler's choice of venue. On the one hand, this whirlwind tour of the red light district had spared Bruce the discomfort of being spotted by the Dutch capitol's more conventional tourists. On the other hand? Bruce stepped back as two... he had to call them boys... stumbled out of the bar.
This mission was bringing back bad Jason memories.
'Gay' hadn't been so bad. Granted the emporium's name added a whole new level to truth in advertising, but most of the merchandise had been the pop-culture crap that Bruce could have picked up at the Gotham Mall. Could - not would - but...
He remembered his first words when Dick handed him one particularly livid bit of plastic anatomy.
"Bruce, It's just a..."
"Not that - but..." He read the label on the green and purple 'presidential' model dildo. Someone else's trademark. Thank heaven for small favors. "Remember that Waynetech manufactures small electronics."
"You mean...?" Dick's grin was vicious.
"Not this particular item. Not exactly. But...?"He picked up another. Black and gold and on the base... well... somebody was going to be hearing about trademark infringement "Battery unit, twenty pins worth of injection molded plastic,a little foam and..." He rechecked the currency conversion. Yes indeed. "The markup on this is..."
"Yeh." Dick snatched the dildo, tossing it back on the shelf. "Obscene."
Next stop had been a... furniture store. In the loosest possible definition of the word. Although? Remembering again some of the 'boutique hotel' discomforts his real world' persona had endured? Bruce was beginning to seriously consider that this was indeed where high-fashion interior decorators shopped.
Klaus was looking at a range of... Bruce supposed he would have to call them chairs. Literally looking - just looking - not looking to buy. Made sense. Where would a jet setting arms merchant store a six foot tall armchair upholstered with spikes? It wasn't like Klaus could fit it in a carry-on.
Dick on the other hand? He was checking price tags.
"You think they can deliver to the hotel?"
This whole mission had been an exercise in weird but...
Bruce suddenly wanted to recheck the fine print on their marriage. Except they weren't - yet. And if this was some new direction in Dick's taste? At the very least there was going to be a serious pre-nup. Stating that only Alfred got to decorate.
"Actually." Dick put the tag back. "I was thinking Babs."
OK. Thinks could get weirder. They just had.
A part of him knew he was better off not asking. Because he did not want to know.
Unfortunately - not asking had never stopped Dick from answering.
"Good leg support. Especially when you..." Dick spun into a legs-up-and-spread position that might have been decent if done in a gym. On a pommel horse. As part of a gymnastics routine.
Bruce looked again, trying to envision the spread-eagle figure with work gray sweats in place of leather and mesh.
Nope. Not even then.
It was like an unstable variable. Dick plus anything equaled sex.
"Babs could use it. " Dick's warm baritone continued unchanged. Proof of good aerobic conditioning - and a total absence of normal human modesty. "I think she's been seeing Helena. I mean," Dick flipped to his feet, "seeing her seeing her."
"Very well. Buy her one. If she doesn't like it..." He halted as his brain caught up with his mouth. Oracle's vengeance could be pitiless. Bruce would make sure it was Dick's name on the card.
"Even better." Dick grinned. "We'll give it to Helena, from Babs, and tell her it's a Valentine's Day present.
Bruce signaled for a salesclerk. "Even better."
Klaus's next stop had been - amusingly - a shop called Robin and Ric.
"Robin, eh?" Bruce schooled his features to a proper CEO ennui.
Dick had been looking a touch too comfortable with Bruce's dis comfort. Plus he had used Bruce's office card to pay for Barbara's toy. Which meant Bruce was going to hear from Shondra. So? Payback was... very much in order.
"Who is this Ric? And why did you never tell me about him?" It was delightful to see the boy-wiseass speechless for once. "Wasn't that your college roommate? Maybe I should have looked a bit more closely at some of those companies you were starting."
Dick had pretended he found the name funny. At first. Until he had come across the green-hot-pants outfit on the sale rack.
Much like the hotel catalog, the shop had a full rack of 'action hero' costumes. All adjusted for a very different sort of 'action' then their caped creators had ever considered wearing them for. At least in public. (Bruce also had his opinions about Ollie-the-Queen.)
Bruce wasn't sure if it was the thong-and-vest interpretation that annoyed his partner - or the detail that it was twenty percent off. Unlike the Batsuit. Or the Superman outfit.
Klaus had spent an hour poking though the leather goods, but in the end had passed. Maybe his losses in Gotham had hit him in the bottom line after all. Pleasant thought.
Bruce had picked out a rather... interesting... red jacket with gold buttons and the Superman shield as a belt buckle. Looked like it came straight out of some elseworld's ubermench fantasy. By way of Mr. Terrific's wet dream.
Well - spending so long in the store without buying might have looked suspicious. Plus... there was always Christmas. In Smallville.
Dick had picked up one of the trademark t-shirts. A red Minotour on black. Possibly Bruce's early Christmas present; although given the LACK of bad taste?
That was the last of the kink-and-conspicuous-consumption tour of Amsterdam.
The final stop was a... bar. Of sorts. Of a very particular sort.
Bruce assumed it wasn't named after the plucky young Alger hero of pulp-fiction virtue. The patrons may have indeed been plucky. Even in some cases young. (Too young, the memory one one red-headed boy screamed at the back of his conscience. ) Virtuous, however, they were not.
Dick had read the sign and sighed. "I sometimes wonder what my parents were thinking - naming me Richard."
"Just remember you are my Dick!"
"Damn right." Grayson pulled open the front door. "And your 'dick' is mine."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Dick was already though the double doors and headed down the central aisle. Part of Bruce ( the sane part, he assured himself ) instinctively started to pull back, but the tactical voice ( much more influential ) pointed out that standing in the doorway just left him exposed. In more ways than one. Since several of the other patrons were starting to look over with... curiosity...? Bruce squeezed the shopping bags tight to his chest and headed after his ... friend.
By the time he reached the table, Dick was handing the waiter a bill.
He dropped the bags on the floor and took the seat against the wall. The only one that would not put his back to some door.
Dick shoved over one of the glasses.
"I don't drink."
"And with this beer I wouldn't advise starting."
"So? Why are we here?" Bruce sniffed at the flaccid foam. "Unless the food is better?"
Dick smiled. "Location, location, location. And if you'll check over my left shoulder you should locate..."
Bruce shifted closer, straining to see down the ill lit row of booths without looking like he was doing so. "Klaus."
Who was alone in a booth just across the walkway and two tables closer to the back exit. The man also had a mug in front of him. From his expression as he scraped the foam from his lip, his opinion of the brew was in line with Dick's. So - since they were none of them here for the brew? Or presumedly ( Bruce sniffed as the waiter elbowed by with a tray of gray-smelling burgers ) for the food?
"Taking a break from his shopping, is he?" Bruce's tone was utterly bland. Which to Dick meant that he neither believed it nor for one second expected Dick to believe it.
"This is his shopping." Dick's glance went from Klaus to a heavy-set blonde in a bad suit who was just-too-casually strolling up from the bar. "The rest was just trying to shake his tail."
"You mean shake A tail." Bruce corrected automatically.
Dick smirked. "I said what I said. But this is where he came to do business."
By now the man had made it to Klaus's table. He stopped, and held out a tightly folded bill.
"I'd think he was a bit too old. Not to mention attached."
"Not that sort of business." Dick's eyes indicated the draped doorway at the end of their walkway. "The bar has a back room."
"Why am I not surprised."
"Not that sort of back room." Dick eased his beer out of the way. "Well,it has that sort too, but what Klaus is here for is..." Dick leaned closer. The sort of move that might bring one into kissing range of one's partner - except that Dick has both eyes wide open. He was using Bruce as a block while watching his target.
Bruce sighed but ( business first) shifted left to give Dick a cleaner angle.
Klaus was holding the wad up to the dim light of the 'privat' sign. Apparently he liked what he saw, because three seconds later he followed the blond man though the curtained doorway.
"Yes..." Dick flipped open his cell phone so Bruce could see the display. "Fortunately, Babs pulled me a floor plan for this place and..." His other hand shot up.
A waiter hurried over. He frowned at the still-full mugs. A frown which flipped into a wide smile when Dick pulled out a fifty.
"We need a key to one of your rooms."
The waiter gripped the bill.
Dick pulled it back.
The waiter pulled a ring of keys from his pocket. "Ja. No problem."
"The one on the first floor, west side, in the middle of the hall. The one with no windows." Dick's other hand fluttered towards Bruce. "My friend here has opinions on people watching."
One key hit the table.
The bill disappeared back into the waiters pocket, along with the rest of the keys and handful of Dick's coins. Payment for the beer, Bruce supposed.
"Opinions?" Bruce asked as Dick held the curtain aside for him.
"Yes." Dick answered, steering him up the narrow stairs to the floor above. "You think it's a very good idea. As long as we are the people and Klaus is the one getting watched."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
"Tiny." Bruce surveyed the room. A single bare bulb lit the barren rectangle. No more then seven feet wide, and less than five deep. Ragged carpet (gray now, whatever the original color ) matched the yellow-gray sheets and echoed the brown stains on the wallpaper. Not that he could see much of the carpet. The twin bed that was the only furniture crowded most of the floor space. What little remained hosted a sink ( bolted to the side wall ) two flimsy metal shelves, and a plastic bucket.
Bruce deliberately did not inspect that last. Some data a detective did not need to know. Oh well, this was Dick's choice. He pulled the door shut behind them.
"I don't suppose the guests check in for the furnishings."
"No, that would be the other hotel." Dick hopped onto the bed, both hands palm-flat on the back wall. "Could you moan a bit?"
As invitations went that was... more than weird. Even for Dick at his most impish. And while the view of Dick was certainly attractive the setting...
Dick had set his jacket on the bed and was going though the pockets. Unrolling a tool pack, he pulled out a master handle and carefully slid in the battery pack "I need cover noise, just in case the drill hits something..."
Bruce watched as Dick picked a spot and meticulously cut back a flap of the wallpaper.
"I mean.. OH..."
He ran his fingertips lightly over the aged plaster, feeling for clues to the wooden struts inside.
"...lower... there... a little more..."
He leaned closer, one eye on Dick and one on the micro-drill that was slowing cutting a path though the aging plaster.
"..OOHHHH... yess... UHHHHH"
Hopefully if anyone did hear the whine of the electrical motor they would attribute it to another sort of device entirely. Just in case?
"Please... ohhhhhhhh...please...more... faster..."
"I'm going as fast as I can."
"Almost though. " Dick smiled. "Can you pass me the optical thread?"
Bruce pulled that from the pack. "oh yes yes YES."
"Great." Dick cut off the power. "You know? If you weren't already rich, you could make a fortune in phone sex."
"Thank you. "
Dick slid one end of the thread under the drill bit and gently screwed a small viewing screen to the other end.
"Kill the lights." Dick pushed the extra equipment aside, making space on the bed. "I'm going to pull out."
"Already? And it was going so well."
That earned him a look. The 'later' look. Which was, of course, what he wanted. Later. Because here and now was just... not on. In any sense. But later? Bruce was not normally the 'loud' sort. Thus seeing as he had already made the noise, he judged it only fair that Dick give him a reason for them.
Flipping off the light, he silently joined Dick on the mattress.
In the utter darkness, the faint glow of the screen showed a wide view of a second room on the other side of the wall. Even smaller then the room Dick had rented, this near-closet held only a cheap 'student' desk, two folding chairs, and (the important contents) and his blond accomplice.
"No bed." Dick whispered, his satisfaction evident.
Bruce nodded. That detail rather discredited the 'lust in the afternoon' cover story.
"Fully dressed. He's having less fun then we are."
Bruce was shocked to hear the snark in his own whisper. Not that he had not been enjoying the day. Well, the morning. Well. almost all of the time prior to actually walking into this specific bar. Possibly all time before waking into this specific room. Because any time spent with Dick was good time, and crime-fighting with Dick was always... well, it was what they did together...
"Unless he has some sort of schoolroom kink."
"He's Dutch - not British. It's the Brits who are strange that way."
"I'll mention to Alfred that you said so."
"Look!"Dick slipped a camera over the optic thread and was clicking rapidly.
Bruce was looking, of course, so he saw ( even as Dick did ) the two identical mantilla envelopes exchanging hands.
"Drug sales?" Bruce asked as the blond ripped open the flap and fanned out the bills for a quick count. "This is Amsterdam. Drugs are not... except technically ... illegal."
"But smuggling diamonds is. Big time."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Interval : Hans Off
"Fritz?" Hans kicked listlessly at the burlap bundle that the delivery truck had deposited at their front door. "What am I supposed to do with this?"
"Take it up to their room."
"It belongs to our American guests." Fritz pulled out the address label, turning it so Hans could see the room number squeezed in above the address line. "They've been souvenir shopping."
He picked up one end of the bench, directing Hans to go to the other end.
"Stupid tourists. You think that with the Fantasy Suite they would have enough." Hans winced as the thinly padded legs scrapped along the hardwood floors. "I spend months getting that room decked out and do they even appreciate all my hard work? NO. They go and buy their own..."
"Where?" Hans spun, almost dropping the bench on his foot. "That was only booked as a double room. If they pick up a slave that is going to be..."
"Not a chance!"
"No! I mean you!" Fritz set down the burden, freeing him to walk around and lay a firm swat on the other man's leather-covered arse. " are My slave!"
"Ja ja. So you beat me." Han's sighed. "But you'd best enjoy it now. I drag around all this junk, I'm going to end up all bent in half. And not in a good way. " He steered the front end of the bundle past the lobby sofa, catching it twice and once ripping another tear in the fake leather cushions." I'll be like the ugly guy in those old movies going 'yes master' - and you'll abandon me for the children of the night."
"Dungeon fantasy?" Fritz rested the end of the bench against his knee while Hans pushed the escalator button " Maybe. If we don't get a guest for that room tonight."
The bell chimed. The elevator door slid open.
"But for now, Igor?" Fritz kept his thumb on the button. "Get humping."
As the elevator doors slid closed between them, Fritz heard Hans mutter "I wish."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
"So. Everything set?"
"Yes Fritz." Hans slumped into the hotel office, looking slightly the worse for wear. " All the clothes have been unpacked into the correct closets. I moved the bondage throne so there was space for the new fuckbench by the windows, set the extra charcoal on top of the puppy cage, and made sure the fireplace flu was open and the matches were right out where even an American could find them. Plus I put the other special supplies this Bruce ordered underneath the stocks, with the invoice on the nightstand."
"Thank you Master." Hans settled himself at Fritz's feet. "What do you think they are going to do..."
Fritz looked down with what Toni would have defined as a 'duh' expression.
"That they need those things for?"
"Our guest's taste is none of our business." Fritz said piously. "Or rather it is ALL of our business not to make it our business."
"Yes Baster, but...? Marshmallows?" Hans clarified. "That is not going to be easy to get off the leather, you know..."
"So we bill them for it." Fritz smiled. "You will be pleased to know that I managed to run a credit check."
"And this Bruce Payne may not be real but his account most certainly is."
"Massive. Thick with euros!"
"OOOOh." Hans squealed. "I just love a long line of credit on a man!"
"So you are going to be a good puppy, and remember that at the Black Tulip " Fritz stared to hum, "you can get anything you want."
"Except Alice" Hans finished.
"And Alice they wouldn't want anyway."
"Yes master, but still..."
"Hans! If you ever want that beating?"
"Yes sir. It's just" Han's looked up, then down at the floor again. "If they aren't going to even appreciate all our efforts? I'm regretting getting them the quality chocolate. Americans probably would have settled for Hersheys."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Chapter 4: Midnight Fantasy
"Oh Superman - SAVE me!" Bruce giggled as the girl shadow plummeted down the plaster wall and into the oblivion of the window glass. " Missed again!" He twisted the sticks on the Indonesian shadow puppet, sending the boy shadow spinning across the ceiling in evident cluelessness. "Guess even you can't save everybody."
He tossed the toys aside and flopped back onto the king size mattress, now covered in a cheerful pink-and-lavender tulip bedset. They had lost Klaus in the late afternoon mob, but they had found the Kalvertoren. One of Amsterdam's larger department stores. A step below Alfred's standards, but from Bruce's perspective a treasure trove of things not black, spooky, edgy, or otherwise inclined to the perverse.
On the way back they had even passed a street vendor. One selling ordinary tourist t-shirts and brightly colored ( and non-sexual) toys. Thus the stick puppets. Although the current theatre-of-the-snide production might have owed more to the six marshmallow and Belgian dark chocolate 'smores Bruce had snorted down before dinner.
"Sorry about your car getting scratched, Lois." The girl puppet was back again, beating the boy puppet over the head ." I guess I should have checked the no parking signs before I went off to SAVE THE CITY FROM TOTAL ANNIHILATION."
"Like that would make a difference to Lane." Dick was sprawled over the padded bench, picking at the last of the shredded coconut. Not wanting to be gone when Klaus returned, they had ordered ricestaffel delivered. Which Dick loved, since it reminded him of peanut butter sandwiches. (A rare and exotic luxury in any childhood that also included Alfred Pennyworth.)
"Dick?" Bruce sat up suddenly, hearing something more then the words. "Problem?"
"No." Dick stared at a bit of cucumber.
Bruce said nothing.
For quite a long time.
"Yes." Dick rolled over. "When Klaus gets in..." he started. "I really should call the local police."
"As opposed to what?" Bruce leaned forward. "Claiming hot pursuit and kicking down the door?"
Which, Dick acknowledged, would be a hard sell. Even in the 'Haven. (Where they had a few judges of the sort that Bruce Wayne loudly did not approve of - but whom Officer Grayson was starting to secretly see in a rather positive light. ) But that was Bludhaven, and this was Amsterdam, and Amsterdam was city with police procedures that made Ollie Queen look like Rudy Limberger, so...
"So?" (Which from Bruce meant 'so here is the cell phone and here is the JLA communicator and between the two there's not much that isn't coverable' - but also that he was aware that saying so might result in Dick-sulking and thus possible deferment of sex. So...)
Dick hooked two fingers around a dangling chain and pulled himself upright. "It's... complicated."
"Well. I could say that I was worried about having enough evidence for a warrant."
"Or I could tell the truth and..."
"Well." Dick caught the other chain and spun into a handstand, his toes just brushing the slanted ceiling. "I just realized that... being in a kink hotel is one thing, but letting Amy find OUT about it is..." He spun down, this time stopping slowly enough that the ceiling hooks didn't even squeak. "Plus the guys in the locker room would never let it go."
Bruce picked up the phone. "Want me to call your friend Ric and see if they can deliver 'Robin'?"
The tone was half humor - because the crotchless Batsuit was not forgotten - and half serious offer - because what the local leather shops could not deliver the JLA moon base most definitely could. If Dick now wanted Nightwing involved.
"Holly crap no!" Dick kicked, dropped, and rolled onto the mattress to land beside his lover. "Then Tim would be after my ass. And not in that fun 'fan-fic twincest' sort of way."
"So?" (Which now meant 'I'm still with you but make up your mind because my box of chocolates is squashed under your butt so if there is not more desert we might as well fight crime'. )
"You remember that story you told me?"
Technically yes, given the ruthless training of a naturally edectic memory. "I've told you a lot of stories, chum." And presumedly 'Clifford the Big Red Dog' was not the one Dick had in mind. Unless the boy had a serious twist that had not surfaced until now.
"About your first time..."
"Tommy and Lex at spring break?" Which was not even in a similar climate so...
"Bruce!" Dick was off the chocolate and on his knees. "I meant your first time as B... you know... doing...that..."
From the intonation, not that that. Thank heaven.
"When I got the crap beaten out of me?" Not Bruce's favorite memory, although it did seem strangely appropriate for their current setting.
"Not that. I mean - what you wore."
"Jeans and a sweater?" Bruce hadn't quite thought the whole 'masked avenger' thing though back then, but he had reasoned that street gear would be less of a give-away then his karate gear. Which had been accurate - in a sense.
"Which I know you think was one of the reasons for the... not such good luck."
Bruce appreciated Dick's diplomacy. He himself generally referred to it mentally as 'my being a total fuckup', but he was heart-sure he never wanted to hear Dick use those words.
"I mean. I know that the look is part of the arsenal but.." Dick continued. "You have a lot more experience now. Plus me. Which means the odds are two to two. Plus they're them and we're us so..."
"Descend to Wreak Justice upon Black Hearted Villains and then Vanish Never to be Seen Again?" Bruce gave the line the pulp-fiction intonations of a John Law pot boiler. "Just leave them tied up with a note to the local police?"
"Could we?" Dick smiled.
"We could." Bruce started. Then stopped. "They might not believe us."
Dick understood instantly. "With no one to testify?"
"They might arrest him but..." Klaus would probably get bail - which for him was a 'get out of jail free' card, since none of his serious opponent seriously thought that he was using his true name. Or face.
Someone had to make a report.
The International Treaty on Masked Heroes might accept an alias - but not a bit of hotel letterhead.
Which protection Bruce Wayne approved of.
(Right now he wasn't certain whether Batman or Bruce Wayne would be more terminally mortified by having their name linked to this... case. For which read hotel. So both of them were willing jump at just about any alternative. )
"We could be..." Dick chewed at this lip. " Different heroes. Not you know and you know who but...?" Stepping to the cage-and-closet, he pulled out a random bit of black leather. "There are plenty of costume parts here. We could come up with something effective."
"So you want to play masked vigilante?" Bruce laughed. "What the hell. It's not like we'd be the first guests here that did."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Dick turned, fitting each bit of his reflection in turn into the undersized bathroom mirror. Over the chain shirt from home he had fitted linebackers shoulder pads and opera length gloves, all held in place by a complex harness of straps and chains. A wide black belt provided kidney protection, and also held up the thigh high boots. Between those two there was little more then a scarlet speedo which served less to cover and more to just hold the protective cup in place.
"What do you think?" he asked.
"You don't want to know. Seriously."
"Bruce." Dick finger combed his hair forward before sliding on the ragged half-mask he had cut from the faux-batsuit's cowl. The result was... something else. What, Bruce hesitated to acknowledge.
"You are... sufficiently unrecognizable." he allowed.
"So what are you wearing?"
"I had thought." Bruce held up the head-covering leather hood. Stripped of the ball gag it now resembled a sort of ski mask. If one assumed that said skier was ferociously into leather and did not object to the chilling effect of rows of rivets against the skin.
"And boots, of course." Bruce held out the pair to show the deeply cut waffle soles. Excellent for all purpose stability.
"And?" Dick asked again.
"And..." Bruce mentally scrambled for cover. "Perhaps that black t-shirt you bought. The one with the red bull on the front."
"The Minotour?" Dick considered. "Good start, but...? Add this." Dick tossed over a studded black leather groin guard."
Yes, Bruce nodded. He could see where that would be... sensible. Even if he preferred his protection inside and in clear plastic.
Dick sorted though his piled of discards. After a second, he produced a pair of black leather chaps. "And these."
Bruce frowned. More leg cover? "I'm not sure they'll fit over my jeans"
Dick grinned. "Who said you'd be wearing jeans?"
V (V) V (V) V (V)
"Damn - not long enough." Dick had been trying to drill a tiny hole in the oak slab floors. One just large enough to once again use his optical spy set. Unfortunately, the 16th century floors were indeed slabs of oak - and evidently thicker then the kits designer had anticipated.
"Dick Grayson, size queen."
"Seriously." He held out the optical cord - measuring it by eye. "We have to catch Klaus in the act."
Bruce winced at the instant mental image - which Dick must have shared as he instantly added. "Not that act! I mean..."
"With the diamonds." Bruce finished. "Preferably along with names of contacts, dates, and anything else incriminating he might kindly provide us with?"
"Which means we need to pick the right time to go in."
"Oh yes. I'd hate to penetrate them prematurely."
"Sorry. You're better at the puns."
"Which is why you should always leave those to the professionals."
Dick gave up on the optics. Dropping the kit, he cross the room a pushed open the shuttered windows. The result was a whiff of fish ( they were on the canal side ) and a great deal of reflected traffic noise. Leaning out, he squinted at the matching windows ten feet below. "If we left the window open we might hear something."
"If they also left their window open." Which carelessness we can not rely on, Bruce's tone said without words.
"That - or..." Dick tugged at the ivy, which gave way easily. No support there. "You tell me you can hang from your toes like a bat."
"I could try but..." Bruce looked down the wall, then back into their own room. He moved to the bathroom, and tested the clamps that held the mirror to the tiled wall. "What do you think would happen if I snapped off this mirror?"
"Seven years bad luck?"
"Melt me few of those marshmallows."
Bruce said nothing. Which was bat-speak for Dick to shut up and do as he was told.
So Dick did.
Picking up the black bedspread ( which had been tucked under the bed for safe keeping or at least improved decor ) Bruce wrapped the heavy leather around the glass. Then - after pulling on a glove for further protection - he stepped back and... WHAM!!! punched flat-knuckled into the dead center of the glass.
There was a crackle, a pop, and a very high pitched ting.
Moving carefully, Bruce lowered the leather.
There, against the wall, were now four roughly square shads of fractured mirror, held in place only by the thin rim of the frame.
He pried one loose.
"Here." Dick held out the skewer, two perfect brown-and-white ovals with goo dripping from the end.
Bruce ran the silvered side against the spun sugar, coating it evenly. Then, quickly but calmly, he gripped the wooden handle and - leaning out the window - pressed the sticky side of the glass gently into the edge of the window below.
Handing the skewer back to Dick, he commanded. "Again."
The second bit of mirror went on to the far side of the window box, reflecting the first.
The third went to the near side, again set to carry the reflection.
The fourth and last went on to their own window - placed with flawless precision to send the image from the first mirror into the easy view of whoever might be seated on the bed in this room above.
"There." Bruce pulled Dick back into the pillows.
"Holy shit! Our own Bat-channel. All Klaus - all the time." Dick bounced. "We wait here until Klaus is... distracted and...da-da-da-da - bang - K-pow!" He accompanied the soundtrack with hand gestures.
"That... turns you on?"
"Beating the baddies?" Dick wiggled. "Like that was ever a question?"
Bruce pulled him closer. "I guess you can take the Robin out of the Dick..."
"But why would you want to?" Dick eased one hand under Bruce's back. "When it's so much more fun to put the dick into..."
Bruce cut off the sentence with a kiss.
"Oh yes... there..."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
"Hinney." Dick said unexpectedly.
"Mine is just fine." Bruce rolled closer, tucking his chin into the niche of his lover's shoulder.
"No. I mean..." Dick sat up. One finger stretched towards the bit of mirror near the bed. "Klaus and Humferbotem just came", after a second he added, "in."
"So I see."
Twenty minutes later Dick was beginning to wish he didn't.
"Oh - that is just gross."
Bruce looked closer. Humferbotem was seated on the bed, using a dental pick to insert diamond after diamond into the base of gel suppositories. "Well," he said reasonably. "I don't suppose they intend to use them."
If they did, his snarky inner voice added, it would bring a whole new meaning to the term 'rough trade'. Even considering... local standards.
"But think of the poor customs agent that might have to search them."
True. And... yech. Except that Batman didn't do yech so... "Crime is a filthy business, chum."
"You said it, Bruce."
Forty minutes after that Bruce was regretting his prior thought that 'it couldn't get worse'. Because it had. The two smugglers had finished with the work part of their evening - and moved on to to the... he refused to call it pleasure. Even mentally.
"Ewww- and that's even grosser." Dick gave voice to their mutual thoughts.
Which was rather a comfort to Bruce. Given that Dick had - after - chosen to bring him here? He was pleased to learn that, unlike so many couples, (the names Clark and Lois did not at all cross his thoughts) they were not going to develop mid-life compatibility issues.
"I can think of a lot of guys I'd like to see in a straight jacket," Dick started.
Or - Bruce's heart stopped - maybe they would.
"But", Dick finished, "not romantically."
Bruce allowed a sigh of relief.
Five minutes after that? ( Evidently not a viagra smuggler, Bruce's inner Bat smirked. ) Klaus was headed for the bathroom.
Though the wall they could hear the sound of water.
"Taking a shower." Dick reached for his mask.
Bruce did likewise. "We hit him as soon as he comes out."
Few men fought well naked. Behind the leather hood, Bruce smiled. This was going to be fun.
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Interval : On the Fritz
Hans shot up, sudden worry printed on his features. "Did you hear something?"
"It is the peasants, with pitchforks." Fritz cackled , swinging his whip above his head with great drama. "Bar the door, my faithful servant!"
"They think to destroy me, but I shall defy their petty morality. " Leaping onto the slab bench suspended with chains from the far wall, he lashed again and again at the space just inches above his 'servants' head. "I shall not only survive - I shall triumph!"
Hans indeed went to the door, but rather than bothering with the plywood 'log' hinged to the side, he cupped his hand to his ear. "Fritz!?"
"Obey me, Igor!" The whip whispered over the younger man's shoulders.
Hans turned, hands on hips.
"Fritz! Not now! I mean it!"
"That is not your safe word."
"Sorry Master but... I mean I really think that I heard something. Outside. If someone is on the canal side of the house,this late at night, then..."
"Then they can stay outside." Fritz hopped lightly down from the bench. "Every room is booked except this one, and this one I am using so..." Dropping the 'barricade' himself, he gently steered the other man back towards the standing stocks. "Let them call for reservations next time."
Settling the top bar in place across Han's neck and wrists, Fritz once again lifted his whip. A loud crack echoed off the concrete walls.
Hans yelped. "Master!"
The whip landed again.
"Obey me, Igor!"
"Yes Master." Hans moaned. "Thank you, master!"
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Chapter 5: Into the Closet
"I'd tell you to tie him up, but he seems to have managed that by himself."
Heinrick Humferbotem - being the 'he' in question - hung head down in the center of the room. trussed neck to toes in a sort of black leather body bag. At Bruce's shove, he swung slowly, like some overstuffed goose that had missed out on the Christmas rush and was now offered at discount. And was furious about it.
Dick leaned around the bulk. "Oh, he had help. Speaking of whom?" Dick grabbed a fistful of blond hair.
Klaus Torren groaned.
It was - under the circumstances - a sign of recovery.
Bruce ( or his inner Bat ) had been ... concerned... about improvisational aspects of Dick's ( Nightwing's ) combat plan. He should not have been.
The entire operation had taken fifteen seconds. Including turning out the lights upstairs. ( So as not to waste energy. Electricity bills were high, even with the new SteelWorks wind-power plants. Dick was always considerate that way.)
Bruce (Batman) knew because he had timed it.
Lacking the usual de-cel lines, Dick had instead hooked the chains ( thoughtfully provided by the hotel ) to the counter weights of the window. The resulting drop was... slower then one meter per second per second - but not by much. Even the fifteen feet of window drop had accelerated them though the window ( and shutters, and shade, and sash ) and then ( unfortunately only for the man on the receiving end ) boot first into Torren's forehead.
He has been coming out of the bathroom at the time, and with both hands clutching a towel?
Only the dictionary would have defined what followed as a fight.
Bruce preferred the word rout.
Now, it seemed, Klaus was coming back to himself. With a vengeance.
"You are you?" He sneered - or tried to - as he took in the scarlet-and-green costume. "Some cheap leather boy?"
"Leatherboy?" Dick laughed. "I like it. Think of me as the 'scourge of crime'. Not to mention the guy who just whipped your ass."
Bruce chuckled at that. Evilly. Which felt... good. Surprisingly good. No wonder the Clo... criminal element... got off on it.
He gave Humferbotem another swat. Just because.
The humor was evidently lost on the main audience. Klaus was snarling at this captor. "Who do you think you're dealing with?"
"Klaus Torren - aka the former drug and weapon dealer and now all-around loser."
"Who sent you?"
"Does it matter?"
"No. Whoever it was." Torren switched tactics, trying to look reasonable. A rather hard proposition, with a spiked knee pad in the small of his back. "I can pay you more!"
"With what?" Bruce dumped out the suitcases and fished out the doctored packet with the diamonds. "You seem to be out of working cash just now."
"I can get more."
"Not if I stop you."
"You can't get away with this."
"We just did." Bruce wheeled over the portable cage. So considerate of the criminals here to provide their own cells. Then again, the Dutch did have a reputation for being considerate. Even if , he suspected, this was not exactly taking the form the tourist commission had had in mind.
He held the cage door open.
Dick pushed Torren in.
Bruce slammed the bars shut. Picking up a spare pair of locking cuffs ( courtesy of the nightstand - again, convenient ) he improvised a lock. After of course checking to make sure these particular cuffs were not the trick 'break away' type. Which they were not.
"I'll scream!" Torren offered.
"And that would be different... how?"
Apparently in no way, since Torren did. Loudly. Several times. And absolutely no one came to the door. Not even to tell them to keep it down because other guests were sleeping.
(Which suggested that they might not be. Sleeping, that was. Leading to places that Bruce's Bruce mind had no intention of going. Ever. And where the Bat did not need to revisit just now.)
It was, however, annoying. "Toss a sheet over the cage." Bruce suggested. "Maybe he'll shut up."
At Dick's look Bruce added. "Works with canaries."
"I'll tell her you said that."
Ooops. Bruce made a resolution to get Dick away from here ASAP. This place was beginning to bring out an unexpected cruel streak.
Dick tugged his mask a bit lower and pulled up his gloves. "NOW we call the police."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Klaus and Heinrick had been taken away.
In Heinrick's case, in handcuffs.
For Klaus? Unfortunately the key to his cage seemed to have somehow gone... missing.
After a not-so-diligent search, four officers of the Amsterdam PD had simply rolled him down the hall. Cage and all. Presumedly the police station would call in an expert with a lock pick. If it took a while? No one was particularly objecting to the current arrangement. Except for Klaus Torren, who was not being consulted.
Dick - or more precisely, Dick's newfound persona Leatherboy- had recounted the whole afternoon's events. Proving one thing. In Amsterdam? Drug dealing may have been one of those... overlookable... activities - but diamond smuggling was MAJOR CRIME.
The case officer had taken notice and taken notes.
So far so good.
Less pleasingly, he had also taken an excessive ( in Bruce's opinion ) interest in the newfound hero who had captured said villains.
"Thank you, Leatherboy!" the man was gushing. "Without your brilliance and courage we might never have caught this fiend. However can I reward you?"
"I was hardly alone..." Even below the mask, Bruce could make out the edges of a blush.
"Of course!" The police officer leaned even closer " There was also your heroic side kick.."
Under his breath ( or so he thought ) Bruce muttered 'bull'.
A second officer smiled brightly. "We must thank you too, Mr. Bull."
The detective rubbed a small pink lapel pin that had previously slipped unnoticed under the Bats radar. "This is a great day for the gays of Amsterdam. Of all Europe." Holding out one hand to each of them, he finished. "I'm so thrilled we now have our own Dynamic Duo."
He raised their hands in his. To the applause of the surrounding police, the lead detective pronounced. "Let us salute our cities new heroes , the crime fighting team of Leatherboy and Bull."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Bruce grabbed Dick with one hand and palmed his emergency JLA beacon with the other.There was a code for emergency extraction, and this was ... an emergency. Clearly.
"I thank you but..." He slid into the narrow cage that had before held the prisoners clothes, slamming the bars between himself ( and DICK! ) and the encroaching authorities. "Now it is time for us to return to the closet."
"Must you?" The detective looked heartbroken.
"For now." Dick (Leatherboy ) waved though the bars. "But if evil threatens, know that we will once again … come out !"
In a shower of pink sparks, they vanished.
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Bruce dragged himself out of the shower. The fight hadn't been much, but the 'protective gear' had been a lot less so. Not to mention - five stars his over-exposed ass. He knew five star hotels. This place was two stars with a press agent. Judging by water pressure alone.
Plus - even if you couldn't expect the coffee to be waiting ( they weren't Alfred, after all ) shouldn't someone have come when they called for room service?
Bruce had checked, and they hadn't all be in the lobby gaping at the police. (Or in the hall gaping at... he wasn't going to consider what. And he was burning the Leatherboy costume as soon as they got home. For reasons of security. ) Heck, the owner hadn't bothered to show up at all. Not until it was practically over.
He would have written a letter of complaint. Except that he would have had to sign it.
Matters improved slightly when he reached the bedroom.
There still wasn't coffee - but there was Dick. Who was no longer in the peculiar costume - or much of anything else.
He could feel his mood rise automatically.
"One last night here." Dick was standing on the arms of the rather peculiar 'throne' and reattaching the various loops of chain. He waggled a strap of leather at Bruce. "One last chance at all this 'fun equipment."
"We seem to have different definitions of 'fun'. If you want to chain yourself to the ceiling..."
Dick leapt down lightly. "Not that. But..." He picked up the phone. "I could ask the front desk to bring up some more handcuffs."
"Dick. If there is something... you haven't been telling me... about..."
"We could time each other on how long it took to get out."
"Oh. That would be..." A lot of fun, actually. He remembered how they used to play that game. Back when 'Robin' was still in training. Five minutes or less and they ordered pizza. More than ten and Dick did the dishes. Without complaint. And if Batman couldn't beat the clock? He had washed dishes too.
Of course, they were far past the age of pizza parties. So. Bruce grinned. They could surely come up with some sort of penalty. If they... worked at it.
Licking his lips, he asked. "What kinds of handcuffs do you think this place could supply???"
V (V) V (V) V (V)
Epilogue : In the End
"Hans?" The hotel manager called from the desk. ( The night clerk had finally gotten though, and convinced them that the man in the police uniform banging on the door was not in fact just someone with an authority fetish and the wrong room key.)
"Yes Fritz?" Hans set his mop against the wall, careful to keep the damp end off the plaster. When they had ordered the cages, no one had tested their ability to roll out of the hotel. A serious miscalculation, given the new scrapes on the lobby linoleum. He expected to be on his hands and knees for hours. And not in a fun way.
He had asked the police to put down drop cloths but... some people were just cruel. Deeply cruel.
Of course it was exciting that real super heroes had been in their hotel. However briefly. But since Hans hadn't actually had the chance to see them? (And really, the authorities could have tried harder. The bolt on the dungeon door wasn't that strong.) He just hoped that tomorrow's headlines focused more on the costumes and less on the criminals.
A hotel couldn't afford to get an unsavory reputation.
"It's our guests." Fritz was smiling as he hung up the phone. "They ones you were worried about? That you thought were... not our sort?"
"The Americans?" Who hopefully were not calling to complain about the noise. Wasn't their room right above the... that room? "If they want a refund...?" Either because of the noise or because they had missed the chance to see the two hunks of meta-meat that had caused that noise? (And he was not referring to the unsatisfactory guests in room 21.) Hans was holding a bit of a grudge about that last point himself.
"What they want is room service. Express delivery."
"Of?" Hopefully not ear plugs. It wasn't his fault that the police went clomping about in those huge boots. And without even a nice glossy polish on them, or straps or studs or...
"Coffee and..." Fritz paused for drama "and cuffs."
"Handcuffs. Several sets. Also arm and leg shackles. And he wanted a better padlock for the cage. And he said they'd be checking out late." Fritz held out the key to the gift shop. "So what do you think now?"
Hans kissed the outstretched hand. "That you were right, master."
"Good pet." Fritz relocked the cash desk. "Hurry back. I've thought of a new fantasy we can try."
Fritz pulled a black t-shirt over his usual camo top. "Yes... Leatherboy."
V (V) V (V) V (V)
OK. So it is silly. I hope you had fun!