Dick was out for the night. He always ran out just before they had a big blow-out. Seemed easier than fisticuffs in front of Lian.
"I miss Unca Dick," Lian said as Roy tucked her in.
"Yeah, me too. You wanna read a bedtime story?"
"I want Unca Dick to read me one!" Lian pouted, firmly set in her conviction. An admirable ploy for a six-year-old.
"Tell you what." Roy drew the covers up to her chin. "You wait here and I'll see if I can call him up."
She'd try to stay up for him, but Roy could sense his daughter was well and truly tuckered out. She'd be asleep long before she got tired of waiting for Dick. If worst came to worst and she did stay up, Roy really would call Dick and tell him to read Lian a bedtime story over the phone, so it wasn't really a lie.
"Unca Dickie reads the best stories. He makes the scary ones not scary."
"Yeah, he has a knack for that. Night, Lian."
Lian kissed him on the cheek, even though he had forgot, and Roy left, turning on the nightlight just before he shut the door. 'Unca Dickie'. He was going to have to remember that one.
Dinah was yawning on his couch, watching late-night TV. Roy slid along the couch to plant his head on his leg, letting her rub the back of neck like she'd used to when she and Ollie had been playing surrogate parents.
"Lian's trying to fix my relationship with Dick," Roy said. "I have a feeling resistance would be futile."
"Want me to put in a good word for you?"
Roy shook his head, scratching his cheek against her fishnet stocking. "I can take my own lumps."
"So you're going to…"
"Send a tersely-worded e-mail, get a tersely-worded e-mail back, and say we're in 'détente'. Then eventually we'll have to work together on some crisis and things will fall back into place."
"You couldn't be slightly more proactive?" Dinah probed, moving up to scratch at his red hair.
He closed his eyes… god, felt better than a full-body massage. "I have my pride."
"You don't have a best friend anymore, though."
"Is Unca Dickie here yet?"
Lian was in her footie pajamas, looking at the two of them in the winter glare of the muted television.
"I'll call him," Roy said, getting up. He tripped on something and Dinah caught him. He stayed there as he took his cell-phone out of his pocket, hit Dick's quick-dial, and tossed it to Lian. "He'll pick up in a minute."
Dinah was smiling.
"Roy Harper. Leader of the Titans. Leader of the Outsiders. Courted by the JLA. Agent of Checkmate. Six-year-old's bit—"
Roy put a hand over Dinah's mouth.
"Auntie Dinah was going to say a bad word," Lian reported with newscaster instincts.
Dinah pushed Roy's arm down. "Thank you for stopping me, Roy."
"Unca Dickie!" Lian said into the phone. "D'ya wanna talk to Roy?"
"So it's mutiny then?" Roy said.
"He doesn't wanna talk to you," Lian reported sadly.
Her pout was outrageous. Roy beckoned her closer, used the cell-phone to snap a photo of her face, then sent it to Dick.
"The nuclear option," Dinah said.
"Just being honest."
"'Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.'"
Dick read in the imposing falsetto that Roy knew from experience would eventually fade into a chipper, more whimsical tone as the story wore on. Lian was sitting on the couch next to him, her little legs not even reaching the floor. Dick, propped up by an elbow on the armrest, held out the storybook to her before he turned each page so she could see the picture.
It would've been a perfect picture of domestic bliss, only Roy pulled one of their cheap-ass folding chairs up alongside the couch to look over Dick's shoulders at the pictures. None of them looked particularly scary.
"Apology accepted," Dick said as he turned the page.
"I didn't say I was sorry."
"But you are. I'm not picky. Now, if you could butt out for a little while..."
Roy tilted his chair until he was leaning against the couch.
"Hey, that's not…"
He kissed the side of Dick's neck gently, then just below his ear.
"Not going to…"
He got up to nibbling on Dick's earlobe before they kissed, Dick dragging Roy onto his lap and mussing up his hair with one hand as he continued reading. Lian giggled.