DISCLAIMER: If I owned DC, this would be a comic book somewhere with very pretty pictures accompanying it. However, things being the way they are, I hope you have a good imagination.
INSPIRATION: I came up with the general concept a very long time ago, actually; I just didn't have the opportunity to use it. This bunny in particular didn't bite till two months ago. It pretty much went like—"So California legalized same-sex marriage… wait, isn't Star City supposed to be in California?… DINGDINGDING!!"
Oh, and I'm pretty sure this is canonically inaccurate. Roy's kid was erased for the purposes of this fic, and I could find zero information on whether Roy went to college or not. Besides, canon is too complicated. I'm not Oracle—I can't keep track of everything. (What's Roy calling himself these days? Lana Lang had a kid with who? We're on Robin number WHAT now?!) Sorry if I screwed up.
Ring… Ring… Ri—
"Hi, Dick, look. I'm really sorry I had to wake you up, but… no, this couldn't wait till morning. I…"
"No, Dick, I'm not in any trouble. Please, just listen to me and don't interrupt, okay?… Good. Now, um… you and me have known each other a long time—almost six years. And we've had a lotta good times together. And yeah, a lotta bad ones too, but…you know, we stuck by each other and we rode out the storm…s. Sure, we fought a lot, but somehow, losing to you didn't seem so bad, even when you rubbed it in my face, because even then I knew I loved you and was happy that… you…
"Oh, the hell with it. Wanna get married?"
I knew it was coming.
I knew it the second I logged onto the internet that accursed day in May and read that California had lifted its ban on same-sex marriage.
The second I saw that article, I knew Harper would immediately get it into his head to ask my son to marry him. I wasn't expecting him to do it over the phone at two o'clock in the morning less than twenty-four hours after the news broke, but that was just another sign of his poor planning and disgusting impetuosity.
Harper's always been impulsive. And about a dozen other negative things I can think of that would make Dick want to punch me in the mouth if I dared mention them.
I glanced at the sky, hoping to see a dark cloud or any sort of indication that the event would be rained out. All I saw was a perfectly blue August sky and the sun shining perfidiously at me in all its glory.
I looked back down at the large green field where the ceremony was to be held. It was very simply decorated—two sets of five rows of lawn chairs with a long grassy patch dividing them in the middle to simulate an aisle of sorts. This led straight up to the spot where I presumed the clerk was to stand, though there was no sign or marking or even an archway to indicate this. Just bare grass.
There were only two clues. One was a low table bearing a salt shaker, something that was covered by a colorful handkerchief, and a small woven basket filled with who knew what. The other was Alfred Pennyworth.
Alfred—my normally very loyal gentleman's gentleman—had joyfully accepted the honor of being the best man, at both Dick and Roy's request. He was standing a little to the right of the aisle, across from the table, in the traditional best man spot. He was dressed in a crisp clean suit.
A brief glance at the other guests told me that Alfred was the only one who was so insistent about suits being worn at weddings.
On my side of the aisle sat Barbara and Commissioner Gordon, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Lucius Fox and his wife, most of the Justice League and a few of their family members. On the opposite side were Oliver Queen, Dinah Lance, a few people I didn't recognize, the Doom Patrol and the Titans. Not one of them wore anything remotely resembling a suit. Instead, they had abandoned the traditionally formal wedding attire in favor of light dresses, t-shirts, even jeans.
That was all Roy's idea. He insisted that their wedding was supposed to be enjoyable, not cruel and unusual punishment, so everybody should come wearing clothes they felt comfortable in.
Damned California Supreme Court…
"Well, looks like this is it."
I growled a bit. If there was one person I did not want to talk to right now, it was Clark Kent. He'd been way too cheerful about this ever since he'd first heard about it.
Kent (who was in the chair next to mine, thanks to Dick's malicious seating arrangement) ignored the growl and continued, "I just don't believe it. One day Dick and Roy are on the ground wrestling over a video game, and the next they're set to walk down the aisle together. Makes you feel old, doesn't it?"
"Speak for yourself."
Finally having had enough of Kent and his positive attitude, I stood up and strode quickly towards the house. It was Queen's house. He'd (quite happily) agreed to have the wedding on his property, away from the crowds of reporters who would undoubtedly begin plaguing the 'happy couple' as soon as they found out they were a couple.
I was a bit offended that Dick hadn't wanted to get married at the house I owned near San Diego, but then I remembered I would have yelled at him if he asked me and tried to forget about it.
I strode quickly through the front door and tried to ignore my surroundings. The Titans had spent the entire morning reorganizing Queen's hall into a room fit to host a rather large and sure-to-be-boisterous wedding reception. I knew from taking a passing glance earlier that there was a buffet table right in the middle and a ridiculous amount of balloons and streamers on the ceiling that made it look like a child's birthday party.
But that's all Dick really was. A child. He was only two months into his eighteenth year when Roy made that two a.m. phone call and had absolutely no business even thinking of marriage at least until he finished college. Preferably much later.
Dick's never been interested in college. Deep down, I somehow knew that this marriage thing would be used as an excuse to skip it altogether.
This was all Harper's fault, I knew it was. Ever since I went against my better judgment and allowed him to associate with Dick, he's been having all sorts of bad effects on my ward—thanks to Roy, Dick almost immediately started disobeying my orders, wanting to risk his secret identity by competing in national gymnastics competitions, even trusting his Titan friends enough to tell them who he really is.
And now Roy was inspiring Dick to forgo higher education. For him.
I held back another growl as I stormed up the stairs. I needed to have a few words with both those boys before they did something they would regret.
Upon arriving at the guestroom that Dick had stayed in the night before, I pounded on the closed door with my fist, mentally giving Dick five seconds to open up before I broke in.
The door was open in four.
"Bruce," he said. I assume he looked surprised but I was too busy shouldering my way past him to take a good look. After a pause, he spoke again. To his credit, the comments he made were only slightly sarcastic.
"Not that I'm not happy to see you—because you know I always am—but I hope this doesn't turn out to be that 'I-don't-think-you-should-marry-Roy' speech, because you've given it to me a hundred times since May."
I turned to face him.
"I don't think you should marry Roy."
"Aaaaaand that makes a hundred and one…"
"Look, during the past 'one hundred' times I've spoken to you about this, you haven't listened once. Would you listen now?"
Dick gave me an annoyed look and seemed on the verge of saying no. Then, with a sigh, the boy nodded his head and waited for me to speak.
I took a breath. This was it—my last chance.
"Richard… you know I think of you as my son. And, like all parents, the only thing I want is for you to be happy. I found out a long time ago that I couldn't talk you out of doing anything you had your heart set on, even if it meant having to stand back and watch you learn your lessons the hard way.
"I don't want this to have to be one of those lessons. I know you and Roy have been seeing each other for two years and that you've been friends for even longer, but that doesn't mean he can't or won't hurt you. He's only a year older than you, and he's already as much of a playboy as 'Bruce Wayne' is."
"He was," Dick felt the need to interject.
I didn't pursue that argument directly. Instead, I said quietly, "People don't change overnight, son. No matter how much we may care for them."
Dick said nothing. He was beginning to look more than a little fed up with me, so I finished speaking quickly before I lost his attention.
"You know I don't want you to go through with this. I don't see why you feel the need to rush into things this way, and frankly, I think you made a big mistake when you agreed to this. But I'm still on your side, kid, believe it or not. Nothing would make me happier than to see you two go on to have a good long life together. And I'm still going to be right there in the front row this afternoon, cheering you on and hoping I've been wrong about this whole thing."
Once again, Dick was quiet. His gaze was directed at the floor, as if he was sincerely thinking over all I'd just said to him. I knew that wasn't the case, but it was a nice thought anyway.
Finally, after a silence long enough to make even me uncomfortable, Dick looked up at me and our eyes met. There was no anger on his face now.
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Bruce," he said softly. "I know you didn't like it when Roy and I started going out together. I know it makes you uncomfortable for whatever reason—I won't ask why. That's your business. But I appreciate your being open about it with me and respecting the fact that it was my choice." He paused for a moment and then laughed, a bit sheepishly, "Honestly, I half-figured you'd throw me out of the house when I told you we were engaged."
"What would be the point of that? You're moving out anyway."
"Well, yeah, but I meant like… forever."
"I couldn't do that," I told him. I made sure to keep my tone gentle and sincere, since it was obvious he still thought being kicked out was a possibility. "I wouldn't do that, even if I wanted to. Alfred would never let me hear the end of it."
He laughed again, this time in relief, and raised his left hand to run it through his hair in what I suppose was an embarrassed gesture. The half-metal, half-leather object on his wrist immediately caught my attention, and I asked him what it was.
"Oh, this?" Dick glanced casually at the bit of silver. "It's called a ketoh. Roy made it for me—sort of an engagement present. The Navajo used them to prevent the bowstring from snapping against their wrists when shooting an arrow once upon a time, but now they're mostly just for decoration."
"You planning on doing any shooting today?"
"No… at least I don't think so. If any reporters show up, I might change my mind, though."
"That reminds me—what's under the handkerchief outside? The bright one on the table."
"Oh. Just bread," Dick replied with a shrug. "It's a Romany wedding tradition for the couple to eat salted bread to symbolize a successful union… or something like that. My mom said that she did it when she married my dad, but I can't remember the details."
"And the basket?"
"That's a Navajo custom," he said, smiling slightly. "At their wedding ceremonies, they have the newly-married couple sit and eat corn mush from out of the basket. Then their family members get to give them advice about whatever they want… please don't look at me like that."
Dick is usually the one who wears his heart on his sleeve, but even I couldn't resist smiling at that. Apparently, Dick found the whole thing hilarious as well, and we laughed for a few moments. It felt good laughing together like that, even when we were disagreeing. I hoped it would always be that way with us.
"This is gonna be a long afternoon, isn't it?" he said, still grinning.
I didn't feel there was a need to answer that, and silence fell once again. Dick seemed to be waiting for me to say something, but I had run out of words. I had failed in my mission, and now there was nothing more to do other than leave my son—my only son—to his final moments as a bachelor while I 'talked' to Harper.
"Well," Dick attempted conversation, "I guess I'd better finish dressing. I mean, as casual as this wedding is, I think I should at least put shoes on or something."
I smirked and nodded my agreement. Being married in your socks isn't something most people dream of doing. Though with Dick, who can tell.
"I'll wait for you outside, then. Mazel tov."
We succeeded in shaking hands for only a few seconds before simultaneously pulling each other into a long hug. Dick was shaking slightly. I held him tighter, thinking of the many times he'd wanted attention like this and how few times I'd given it to him.
Was that another reason he was marrying Roy? Did he think he'd get more attention from Roy than he had from me?
Why couldn't the California Supreme Court have just stayed in bed?
I sighed, reluctant to let go, but I did anyway when I felt Dick pull back. He looked up at me and grinned a little; I must have been as misty-eyed as he was.
"And here I told Roy I wasn't gonna be the 'bride'…" he commented, wiping a hand quickly over his eyes. I gave his shoulder a squeeze and left without speaking.
Dick's eyes still looked a bit glassy when I turned back at his call.
"I love Roy. And I hope that someday you'll be able to accept him as one of your own… the way you did with me."
A minute later, I was stalking down the hall to where I knew Roy's bedroom to be. Before I could get there, I caught sight of the rabble-rouser headed in my direction.
"Hey, Bruce, I was just coming to look for—huh!"
Harper squirmed and wriggled, trying vainly to get away as I dragged him right back to his room and locked the door behind us.
"Ooookay. And you did that because…?"
"We need to talk."
He actually looked intimidated. Good.
After shifting his weight awkwardly, Roy said, "O-Okay. What about?"
"I want you to give me one good reason why I should let you marry Dick."
"Let me marry Dick? Hate to break it to you, Bats, but Dick's the one making this decision. Not you."
I let that one go and rephrased the question.
"Then tell me what in hell makes you think you're going to be a good husband. Because your history isn't exactly reassuring."
"You think I don't know that?!" Harper snapped, eyes flashing. "Hey, I know I'm not ideal husband material. I'm obnoxious and bad-tempered and crude and every other bad thing everyone's ever called me. But there's one thing I'm not, Wayne. I'm not a liar. And when I say that I love Dick and will do everything I can to make him happy, you can rest assured that I mean every word."
"I believe you love him. I believe you love him the way you loved Donna and Cheshire and—"
"Okay! I get it!" Roy yelled in exasperation. Sighing, he went on in a quieter voice, "I get your point. I'm a cad. Well, I've been called that too. I'm not denying it." He paused. "Geez, you're really coming down on me hard—you must really not want me marrying Dick. What are you, a homophobe?"
"I'm not a homophobe. I just don't like you."
Roy's eyes widened in genuine surprise. He seemed very hurt by what I'd said, and I almost regretted saying it. But I needed to get this all out in the open, if only this once.
Time to lay all the cards on the table.
"Put yourself in my place, Harper. Your only child is eighteen, has had a lot of pain in his life and is about to marry someone who has spent the past six years drinking, doing drugs, sleeping around and who knows what else. How would you feel? Would you see a good future for that relationship, or would you do anything you could to get your child out of it?"
Unlike Dick, Roy didn't seem at all mad. On the contrary, he seemed to have a perfect understanding of where I was coming from. Even though he didn't.
"Yeah, I'd be ticked," Roy admitted, flashing me a half-smile. "And I'd probably be doing the same thing you are right now, except with a lot more blood. And I do know that Dick is… well, he's not exactly naïve, but he does tend to turn a blind eye towards the faults in the people he really loves while amplifying the good qualities. I know that because I'm lucky enough to be one of the people he really loves."
"That I know."
"I'm clean now, you know. Haven't had a drink or a shot of anything besides vaccines for over a year now… though I have to admit that I did have one or two… outside affairs when Dick and I first began seeing each other."
"Hey, I'm telling you about it, aren't I? And I've already told Dick too, so it's old news to him. He forgave me for it, and I stopped. It's over. I know it's hard for you, but please try to understand—I'm not that rebellious teenage druggie anymore. I've changed."
I found that incredibly hard to believe. I've known Roy pretty much since Ollie took him in eight years ago; he was a rebellious teenager even before he was a rebellious teenager. Being nineteen couldn't possibly do much.
I quickly changed the subject. Anything to get that pleading look off Harper's face. He was almost beginning to make me feel bad.
"I saw the thing you made for Dick."
"…Oh, he showed you the ketoh?"
"He's wearing it."
"He is?" Roy asked, looking pleasantly surprised. I nodded.
"He says you made it. Not bad."
Harper's smile got wider and he said teasingly, "Well, I'm glad you approve of something I've done…"
"Proposing at two o'clock in the morning wasn't it."
"Yeah, I know…" He shrugged, somewhat remorseful. "I meant to be all romantic and everything, but I got so nervous I just couldn't wait till morning. Well. Later morning…"
There was an awkward pause as Roy fiddled with the diklo around his neck. I recognized it as one of Dick's. He told me once that it was Romany custom for men to wear the colorful scarves on special occasions. Dick must have given it to Roy to wear at the wedding.
My eyes flicked to the clock. Two forty-five, only fifteen minutes until the ceremony was scheduled to start.
"So soon?" I murmured. I wasn't aware that I'd spoken out loud until Harper replied, "I know we're young, Bruce. Even Ollie said so, and when Ollie notices something… well…"
He chuckled lightly. I stood in front of him silently, waiting for him to continue. I wasn't quite sure what he was talking about.
"But with the way we live our lives—always jumping off rooftops and getting shot at and everything—who's to say that we'll even live to be 'old enough' to get married anyway? Our whole lives have been sort of fast-forwarded already. Dick and I both lost our parents young, we were taught to fend for ourselves before puberty and, despite your and Ollie's best efforts, we've both seen a lot of things that people our age probably shouldn't. As a result, I think we're a lot more mature than most college-age kids… well, Dick is, anyway…"
I grudgingly admitted to myself (myself, not to anyone else) that Harper was being somewhat sensible. I hated thinking about the fact that Dick probably wouldn't make it to forty (especially if he kept insisting on being so cocky), but it was still a fact, whether I liked it or not.
Meanwhile, Harper was still talking.
"But I have a respectable apartment in a nice part of town and a steady job with decent pay. I was even thinking of finding work in the government in a couple years, in the drug department. With my experience, I'm sure I could make good money there. And I don't think Dick will have any problems finding a job, either. Even if the idiot wants to skip college…"
Wait, Roy thought Dick was an idiot for skipping college? Roy thought that?
"Not that I'm one to talk. I didn't go either," Harper went on, completely oblivious to my surprise. "But Dick's smarter than I am. He could have gone far."
My thoughts exactly…
"Did he tell you why he doesn't want to go?" I asked.
"Yes, but everything Dick told me was said in confidence. If you're that curious, you'll have to talk to him about it."
A frustrating but not entirely unexpected response. Honestly, I would have been disappointed if Roy had answered my question.
"My point," Harper finished up, "is that this wasn't entirely a spur-of-the-moment decision. We discussed it, we're both comfortable with where we are in our lives, and we both feel it's the right time to take this next step in our relationship."
That's nice, but I didn't.
I stared at Roy.
Anyone else I could have handled. If Dick had told me he was marrying anybody but Roy, I could have dealt with it.
If he'd wanted to marry Garth or any of the other Titans, I would have been at least somewhat happy for him.
If he'd wanted to marry Barbara, I still would have been happy for him. A little surprised, maybe, since Dick has never been interested in girls, but happy.
But Roy? The one bad seed that Dick has ever truly associated with, and he has to go and marry him?
"Why did it have to be you…?" I sighed.
"I don't know," he shrugged. "Just turned out that way, I guess. Or maybe it's because we really understand each other. I'd usually be the last one to admit this, but we're more alike than we care to think about."
"Let's hope not."
That was when we heard Dick's voice from the hallway. He was yelling for Roy, asking where he was.
This was it.
"Guess that's my cue," Harper declared, all smiles.
This was really it.
Almost desperately, I reached out and slammed Harper's shoulder into the wall. He winced in pain as I tightened my grip.
"You're making a promise today, Harper," I snarled in his ear. "And if you ever break that promise…"
"I won't, Bruce," he insisted firmly, looking me straight in the eye.
I could tell that, for the moment at least, Roy meant what he said.
But there was no longer anything I could do. I'd done my best, and now it was time to let go and hope things would work themselves out in the end.
I released Roy's arm. He straightened out his shirt, unlocked the door and left to answer Dick's call. I debated whether or not to follow him—I remembered telling Dick that I would wait for him outside—but since I couldn't possibly be late for my own son's wedding, I stepped out into the corridor with Harper.
They were standing only a few yards in front of me. I noticed that Dick now had his shoes on and was wearing a diklo that strongly resembled Roy's, except where Roy's was predominantly bluish, Dick's was greener in color.
"Oh hey, Roy, there you—Bruce." Confusion and a bit of suspicion suddenly replaced most of Dick's happiness. "I didn't know you were still here."
"I was just on my way out," I answered. "I wanted to have a talk with your fiancé first."
Dick turned to Roy for confirmation. He nodded, of course, and Dick let it go at that.
"Well, the ceremony's gonna start pretty soon, if everyone's ready. I was just coming over to make sure Roy wasn't trying to sneak out the window."
"Hey, this wedding was my idea, remember?" Roy retorted good-naturedly. I got the feeling he was talking to me as much as he was talking to Dick. "Now let's hurry up and get married! I hear Acapulco calling my name!"
"You're going to Mexico for your honeymoon then, I assume," I said. Even though I already knew that.
"Yeah, we're spending the weekend there."
Yet another bad choice. I've had the misfortune of being dragged to Acapulco by a few former girlfriends, and it is frighteningly overrated. Unless you enjoy the feeling of your clothes constantly sticking to your skin by waterfalls of your own sweat, I wouldn't recommend it, especially not for a honeymoon. Can't these stupid kids do anything right?
Well, I suppose I couldn't blame Dick for this one. He's never been to Acapulco, and all the sources out there praising that accursed place could fool about anybody.
Good thing I'd come prepared.
"So you're only going away for a weekend?"
"Well it's not exactly like I can afford to take a whole lotta time off at the moment," Roy shrugged. Dick was giving me his official 'no not everybody is as filthy stinking rich as you are' look. I ignored it.
"You can now. Here."
The boys watched attentively as I pulled a piece of paper out of my wallet and handed it over. After hesitating a few minutes, Dick took it from me and read it.
"This looks like an itinerary or something… Italy…?"
"Italy, Greece, Germany and Ireland. A bit of an odd mix, but I remember you mentioning you wanted to go to all of those places," I elaborated, looking at Dick. "That's a list of the hotels you'll be staying at and for how long and which flights you'll be taking. I've made all the arrangements, so you two just have to enjoy yourselves."
Dick gaped at me in full-out shock. Roy, on the other hand, could barely contain his excitement.
"This-This is wonderful! According to this thing, our honeymoon just expanded from three days to almost a month! Geez, thanks, Bruce! This is gonna be—aw, hell, we can't do it."
"Huh?" Dick said, still looking dazed.
"My job. There's no way I'll be able to convince my boss to let me take off a whole month, especially on such short notice…"
"I said I made all the arrangements, didn't I?"
Now the both of them were gawking at me. I sighed a little in frustration.
"I also cancelled your trip to Acapulco. You'll thank me for it eventually."
"Acapulco? Who cares?!" Roy yelled out. "This is going to be a hundred times better! We really can't thank you enough, Bruce, this is way more than we ever expected…"
"…Yeah, uh, Roy?" Dick managed. "Wait downstairs for me, okay? I wanna talk to Bruce for a moment."
"Okay. Just don't try to climb out the window."
Roy was gone mere seconds later. Dick and I stood staring at each other for a few minutes. I figured it would be best to let Dick direct the conversation, since it had been his idea in the first place.
"I would have been happy with silverware, you know."
"That's Alfred's present, only don't tell him I said so. Besides, Ollie's paying for the wedding. This was the least I could do."
"Well… in that case, thank you. And everything else Roy said."
Although Dick seemed happy with the gift, he also looked a little flustered. It always embarrasses him when I get him some big, expensive present, so I usually try to keep holidays like Christmas and his birthday relatively simple. Usually. But this couldn't be helped—Dick was only getting married once (I can dream, can't I?)
"So what did you want to talk to me about?"
"…Oh," Dick said after a pause, as if snapping out of a trance. "Yeah, that. Nothing much, really, I just wanted… to thank you, I guess… for everything."
"Like I said, it was the least I could do—"
"No, not for the trip. I mean… for everything." Dick turned slightly pink as he spoke. "If you hadn't taken me in when you did, I really don't know what would have happened to me. And I know I wasn't the easiest kid to raise, but hey, I think you did a good job."
"Apparently, so does Roy. And… it was an honor."
I love you too.
Dick smiled and was about to say something else when the sound of a clock chiming elsewhere in the mansion caught our attention. Three chimes. Three o'clock. Roy was still waiting downstairs, and Dick was clearly eager to join him.
"We'd better get moving—don't want to be late for my own wedding. You still coming?"
"Only if you make Kent sit somewhere else."
"Uh, I think it's a little late for that," Dick replied, trying not to laugh. He started down the hall. I followed just behind.
"Fine," I said gruffly. "But if he starts crying in the middle of the ceremony, I'm going home."
As far as I've been able to verify, the Navajo and Romany customs mentioned are described accurately. If you know something I don't, please share.
Joker-shaped cookies to anyone who figured out that the title means 'wedding' in Rom without typing it into Google. They can look like Heath Ledger if you want…