A/N: First off, my deepest apologies for the horrendous length of time that lapsed before this update was finally ready to post. It sat around half written for months. My inspiration was just non-existent. I also didn't really know what I wanted to do with the ending. However, thanks to so many enthusiastic reviews I forced myself to start writing. So thank you to all of you who sent death threats, pleads, and cries of love and joy to my inbox. You all helped me get my groove back. This part is dedicated to you. I hope you all appreciate it! :P It's 27 freaking pages long. This was supposed to be the last part, but there was no way it was all gonna fit without being over 50 pages. That's a little much to read in one sitting. So anyways, enjoy this part. I swear I will have the last part up before the end of August. If it hits the first of September and you have not seen an update, please feel free to send more death threats. Much love to you all!
The rest of Dick's visit was taken up by re-working his cover story for meeting Payton Ives so that it would convince Bruce when he returned to Gotham. He also tightened up some of the loose ends in Ivy's cover story. Everything had to be airtight to any snooping person. He fiddled with the date of Payton Ives's miraculous return so that it didn't coincide with Ivy's disappearance. He went over all of it with Ivy so that if she were questioned she would answer everything correctly. It was somewhat paranoid of him, but Bruce had taught him to cover everything. It was always check and double check, make sure the facts were right, and never let anything slip by one's notice. He paid to get Ivy's hair dyed a strawberry blond. She looked beautiful and the color change suited her very well. The most difficult aspect of her physical changes was hunting done someone to create colored contacts. When she put those on, she did look like a different person. He could still see Ivy underneath it all. He hoped that few others would though. Lastly, he took pictures of her and William. He couldn't resist taking a few of him with them as well. Though the last few days together had been busy, Dick had enjoyed every second of it spent together with his new little family. It was a strange concept to realize that these two people were now his family. He still had yet to fully realize he was now a father. He wished he had more time to spend with his son and Ivy. The days had slipped away far too quickly.
Now they were standing outside the boarding gate of his airplane as it got ready to fly him home. He had never felt so reluctant to leave anywhere in his life. He held William until boarding began for his flight. He hugged and kissed the baby boy one last time before handing him over to Ivy. He quickly dug in his pocket to pull out his phone. He pressed the phone into her hands. "This is just for you. I re-programmed it so that only you and I can call each other on it."
Her fingers curled around the tiny communicator. "What about Batman?"
"He won't be able to hack it. I'll get a new one from him when I get back to Gotham. I'll tell him I lost this one." Dick answered easily.
"So I will always have a way to contact you." She smiled, pleased by the idea.
The young man nodded. "Call me anytime. Night or day. I may not always be able to answer. But I promise I will call you back as soon as I can."
"Good. You better remember who is the master in this relationship," she smirked. She brushed a finger down his jaw. "Thank you, my handsome Bird."
"You're welcome." He smiled. "I hope you'll keep me as a pet for a long time to come."
"It would be foolish to give up one so well trained." She teased. She glanced back at the boarding gate. "You should go."
Dick half-heartedly agreed. He gave her one last lingering kiss before pressing another kiss to William's downy haired head. "I'll be back soon. I promise. I love you both." He squeezed her hand before finally stepping back.
"I love you too, Bird. I will be waiting." She waved as he slowly trudged away. She lowered her hand as he disappeared down the landing ramp. Reluctantly, she looked down at her hand and swallowed her at the green hue it had taken on. Dizziness swept over her in a wave making her feel faint. She stumbled over to one of the waiting seats before sinking carefully into it as she shifted William on to her lap. The baby mewled faintly, patting his little hand against her chest as if he were trying to reassure her. She clutched him gently to her before kissing his temple.
"My beautiful boy," she whispered faintly, closing her eyes again the dizziness.
It had been so hard to hide the weakness, dizzy spells, and increasing appearance of green tinting that swept across her skin at odd intervals. She hadn't wanted to alarm Dick. She didn't want to ruin their happiness. Not when she had only just gotten him back. She knew what was happening. She would tell him eventually. Right now, she had time and she wouldn't ruin these precious few moments for anything.
At least, Bruce had the courtesy to wait until they were back at the manor before the questioning began. Dick had been waiting for it since he'd been picked up at the airport. While he'd been waiting for the questions to begin, he had gone over the story over and over to make sure he had it just right. The truth with enough little white lies in it. It was going to be a difficult balance, especially with someone like Bruce. Bruce could sniff out a lie from a mile away. Now here in the Manor living room amidst those he considered family, it was going to be even harder to stick to his resolve and to deceive them.
"So…Brian said you met a girl?" Bruce remarked casually. It was anything but a causal question.
"Yes, I did." Dick replied easily, taking care not to betray anything in his facial expressions or movements.
Tim straightened up just a little, eyeing his step father and brother with apprehension. Even Alfred, arched an eyebrow at the sudden tension in the room. Dick was grateful Barbara wasn't there. It would only make this whole thing worse.
"Her name is Payton Ives. She happens to be the cousin of Pamela Isley." Dick said calmly before picking up his drink to sip from it.
"That was why you went down to Florida." Bruce's voice had gone flat and distant. His Batman voice.
Dick set down his glass. "No. Actually, it was just a vacation with my friends. It was a completely accident that I ran into Payton. We were driving through Lakeland and stopped in for breakfast. I just happened to see her walking by. I did think it was Poison Ivy. They looked so similar. I probably scared the hell out of her running up and grabbing her arm the way I did. And I'll admit I was…disappointed it wasn't her." He swallowed and looked down at the glass in his hands. He remembered the well of emotions that had struck him when he'd realized it was truly her. He took a deep shuddering breath. "She told me who she was. I asked if she knew a Pamela Isley. That's when she told me everything. She'd just returned recently to Lakeland and is living with Pamela's sister Patricia. Payton had been abducted as child. She lost her memory of everything. She escaped from her captor and slowly began to remember everything as she wandered across country. When she remembered it all, she headed for Florida. Patricia was happy to have her back."
"That all sounds a little to good to be true." Bruce broke in quietly.
"I know. It seems farfetched. I stayed those extra days as an excuse to find out the truth. I hunted that entire city trying to find a trace of Poison Ivy. There was nothing. Just Patricia and Payton. I talked to both, but neither had seen or heard from her in years. Patricia said that Pamela was ashamed to speak with her. Meeting Payton was just odd coincidence. And yes, I know you don't believe in that," Dick held up his hand to ward off Bruce's impending remark about that subject. "But I didn't go down there looking for Poison Ivy. I certainly didn't find her. I did find Payton though…and she's amazing." That much was completely true. "She's beautiful, kind, and funny. I enjoyed being with her. I wanted to be with her. Maybe it was because she looked like Poison Ivy. Maybe I wanted to have that connection when I realized who she was related too. I missed Poison Ivy so much…" He clenched his hands into fists. "But Payton… I promised I'd go back to visit her. I want," he paused and took a deep breath, "I want to try to be with her. She made me happy while I was there. God knows, I need some happiness back in my life."
He looked up at Alfred, Bruce, and Tim with an earnest look. Bruce seemed unconvinced. Alfred was giving him that kind, sorrowful fatherly expression he had perfected over the years when any of them got hurt. Tim was giving a long, considering look. Dick dug out the photo of Ivy he had taken before he left to use as 'proof'.
"Here's a picture of her." He handed it across to Bruce, who took it and studied it thoroughly.
"She does look very similar to Poison Ivy. How old is she?" Bruce inquired as he handed the picture over to Tim. Alfred peered over the boy's shoulder to get a good look at it as well.
"25." Dick answered promptly. Ivy easily looked younger than her years. She could pull off being in her 20s still.
Bruce tapped his fingers against the arm of his chair. "This all seems to convenient."
"I know…really, I know. It seems ridiculous. I looked up everything I could find about her. It all seems legit. I can't find a hole in her story. The amnesia thing seems unlikely. But Bruce…she's got a kid. And it's hers. I checked all the medical records, blood samples, and DNA results. You can look it up yourself if you want." Dick mentally threw down his last ace in the hole. He had paid someone a lot of money to doctor up all the medical records and information to make it all as real as possible. He'd felt a little dirty afterwards, but it was all worth it to keep Ivy and his son safe.
Even from his step father.
"I'll look into her." Bruce said quietly.
Dick would have been shocked if the man didn't. He knew Bruce was going to search out every possible bit of information he could find. Dick just hoped to God that it would all hold up under his step father's scrutiny.
"You really like this woman?" The older man looked at his step son seriously.
"I really do." Dick confessed sincerely. "A lot."
Bruce took a deep breath before standing up. "Just…give me some time. I'll see you at dinner." He flipped open the clock and pulled the lever. A moment later, he disappeared through the hidden doorway down into the Batcave.
Dick sighed in relief. He looked over at Tim, who shrugged and got up too. Alfred met Dick's gaze for a moment before following Bruce. Dick felt like that had gone about as well as could be expected. He knew none of them were really convinced. They would have to do their own research. He was fine with that. Long as he kept them off the scent of the real truth.
Alfred followed Bruce down the steps into the depths of the Batcave. The super computer loomed out of the darkness like a beacon of truth. Bruce headed towards it with a determined stride.
"I don't like any of this, Alfred," Bruce growled, as he sank into the chair in front of the massive bank of computer screens. He quickly typed in Payton Ives' name into his search engine. In a second, the super computer was pulling up information from all around the country. Hit after hit scrolled across the screen in a rapid fire of images and information.
"You don't like it because his happiness makes you suspicious." Alfred pointed out calmly.
"It's to convenient, Alfred," Bruce steepled his fingers in front of him and frowned. He narrowed his eyes at the picture of Payton Ives' driver's license. He quickly scanned over the information in front of him. Newspaper articles about the girl's disappearance. There was a picture of her taken with her cousins Pamela and Patricia Isley many years ago when they were all still young girls. A startling resemblance between all three girls was apparent even at such a young age. They could have been triplets. There was no information on Payton until her sudden reappearance.
"Do you suppose it really could be her?" the butler asked quietly.
Bruce studied the pictures in front of him. The similarities were there, but the evidence was not absolute. "It's highly possible."
"It is also possible that the woman really is just Payton Ives. People do re-appear again. It happens very rarely, but it is not impossible." Alfred remarked.
"Maybe I am just reading to much into this," Bruce sighed heavily. "I just want him to be happy, Alfred. This past year has been hell for him. I know it has. I am not as ignorant of things as he would have me believe."
Alfred gave the younger man a shrewd look. "He has coped as well as could have been expected."
Bruce scowled. He kept feeling like he should have done more for Dick. He just didn't know how to handle the kind of emotional upheaval the younger man had gone through. The only time he'd ever come so close to a similar encounter was when he'd been kidnapped and forced to work for Boss Biggis (epi: 8). He hadn't known who he was so he'd felt lost. Somehow, he had still freed himself and eventually got his memory back. Dick's situation had been worse. Captured, drugged, mentally abused, and sexually tormented; Dick had begun to lose his sense of self. That was totally different than merely forgetting it temporarily. Bruce felt like he should have been a better help in Dick's recovery of self- independence. If he was totally honest with himself, Bruce had been afraid. To him, it felt like something irreparable had been broken inside of Dick.
"I don't like the situation whether she is Poison Ivy or not," Bruce finally remarked. "Dick's willingness to latch onto this woman so quickly is disturbing."
"I do agree," Alfred stated.
Bruce frowned before going back to researching. Behind him, Alfred silently ascended the stairs. The butler knew there was no point staying now that Bruce's attention was completely occupied. He would learn what Bruce had found later. In the meantime, he had a household to run.
One of the perks of being a vigilante was Nightwing had a lot of good contacts. He had friends all around the world. However, for this particular job he only needed to go as far as the Gotham Central Hospital. He waited in the office of one Dr. Waters with the lights off and lounging in the guest chair like he owned the place. He had been invited to drop by any time. He barely flinched against the sudden burst of light when the door opened and the doctor flicked the light switch on the wall.
"Jesus!" Dr. Waters gasped, gripping the door frame when he saw the familiar dark figure sitting in the guest chair in front of his desk. "Really, Nightwing, there are better ways to get in touch with me."
"None of them are quite as fun. The look on your face…every time." Nightwing grinned.
"Oh you little bastard. You are lucky I like you at all. One of these days you will give me a heart attack," the doctor grumbled as shut the door. He tossed his brief case on his desk before sinking into his worn leather chair. "I assume this isn't a social visit."
The vigilante stretched his legs out a little further. "It never is."
"To true. Coffee?" Dr. Waters asked, as he spun his chair around to pour a mug for himself from the rickety table behind him.
"No thank you."
The doctor settled back, sipped from his coffee, and eyed his friend. "What can help you with?"
"I need a blood test run. Specifically the DNA examined, in comparison, to my own." Nightwing sighed. He reached into his utility belt to take out the small vial of his son's blood. He had kept it ensconced on his person since he left Florida. He was to paranoid to leave it anywhere. It was far to dangerous to leave lying about. Wrongs hands and all…
"Why not take it to Batman? I know he has the tech." Dr. Waters remarked off handedly.
The vigilante sighed. "Don't you think I would have if I could? This is not something I want him to see."
The doctor abruptly sat up and leaned across the desk. "Hiding things, are we?"
Nightwing curled his fingers around the vial in his hands. "Yes."
"Ah." Dr. Waters acknowledged. "Well then, hand it over. I'll need a sample of your blood too."
The vigilante quickly produced another vial before passing them both over. The doctor took them carefully. "How long will this take?" Nightwing asked quietly.
"A few days. I'll give you a call." Dr. Waters answered.
"Not a word to anyone." The vigilante warned.
"Not one. You know you can trust me." The doctor smiled gently. He'd known the vigilante when he was Robin. The boy had shattered his leg in a fight. Dr. Leslie Thompkins had referred Robin and Batman to Dr. Waters. Batman had not endeared himself to Dr. Waters at all. That particular vigilante had been snappish and purposefully intimidating. Not that it had bothered the doctor much. He dealt with more shit than most in this hospital. Very little bothered or frightened him anymore. Robin had been invited to stop by any time he needed help. Batman had been politely asked to leave and return when his attitude improved.
Nightwing's shoulders sagged in relief. "I know. Thank you. There are very few others I would trust with this."
Dr. Waters was tempted to press his friend for more information, but he left it alone. He was certain he some of his curiosity would be alleviated when he reviewed the test results.
A week passed by slowly for Nightwing. He waited impatiently for a call from Dr. Waters. In the meantime, he fell back into his same routine with ease. The only difference was that he called Ivy every night before he started his rounds for the evening. It was a little strange listening to her voice over the phone. He never really had before this. It also elicited a thrill to hear her and know that no one else truly knew who he was talking too. She seemed to be happy. Just hearing her voice made him happy. After a year of silence and no contact, he was starved for any kind of connection with her. He also missed William desperately. Hearing his soft, cooing voice over the phone was not nearing enough. He ached to hold his son again. The distance between them all was painful.
The phone call from Dr. Waters finally came while Nightwing was out patrolling the east side of the city. Relief flooded him at the possibility of finally receiving facts and easing some of his worry. He made it over to the hospital in near record setting speeds on his motorcycle. Barely half an hour had passed since he received the call and he was climbing through the window into Dr. Waters office.
"Well, I can certainly understand now why you did not want Batman to see this." Dr. Waters remarked as Nightwing sat down. "I'm not sure how he would feel about you having a son."
The young man flinched before looking down at his hands. "You are certain about that?"
"Is that what this was about? You weren't certain he was yours?" The doctor leaned forward, eyebrows raised in disbelief.
"Part of it." Nightwing admitted.
"Without a doubt, this DNA has half of your signature. The other half…now the other half is quite special." Dr. Waters told the vigilante. "I have never seen anything quite like it. It is human, definitely, but altered. Was the mother a meta-human, if I might ask?"
The young man chewed his lip. "I don't know if meta-human is the right term for her."
"Well whatever she might be, her DNA signature is fascinating. There was something strange that threw me off though." The doctor said, reaching for the sheaf of print outs from the results.
"What's that?" Nightwing looked alarmed. Please don't let it be my son, he thought desperately. Fear gripped him at the possibility that something could be wrong with his son. To his chagrin and regret, flash backs of the two boys Ivy had created during her fake marriage with the professor were startling vivid.
Dr. Waters stared down at the papers for a moment. He wasn't even aware of his friend's distress. "Well it was quite difficult to discern whose blood was whose. If the vials and test tubes hadn't been labeled it could have gotten very confusing."
The vigilante frowned in bafflement. "Why?"
"Her DNA signature has also attached itself to yours. In fact, your blood and your son's is nearly identical. Since the last time I tested your blood there has been a significant change. Your white blood cell count is extremely high. As is the white blood cell count in your son. Now it is normal for infants to have high WBC for the first two weeks of life or so. His blood suggests that he is older than that though. So, this is highly unusual. Normally, high WBC means there is an infection or some such. Everything else suggests that you are both quite healthy. The DNA in both vials has her distinct signature. This suggests that yours has somehow been altered by hers. While in your son it is merely a result of both DNA types coming together to form a child." Dr. Waters tried to explain as simply as possible.
Nightwing sat back in stunned disbelief. "My DNA's been altered?"
"It has indeed. I do not see any reason to panic though. It doesn't seem to have harmed you. In fact, it appears to have strengthened your DNA. I would be able to tell you more though if you gave me a little information about the mother." The doctor pressed his friend gently.
The vigilante covered his face with his hands and forced himself to take long, measured breaths. "She…has very high immunities." Was all he managed to get out before the information really sank in. "Oh shit. How could this happen to me?"
"I don't know." Dr. Waters replied unhelpfully. "There are a few guesses. Prolonged contact of her DNA to yours if hers is powerful enough. Somewhat like cancer. It just grew and attached itself to yours. Symbiotic, if you will."
"Oh God." Nightwing felt sick. He didn't know if he was angry or panicked. All that time together had changed him. She shouldn't have even been able to have children! But maybe that's why she got pregnant. His DNA did change! It became more like hers so that maybe her body accepted him, and was able to create William. His eyes widened at the implications. Did that mean he was immune to poisons and toxins now? Was William immune?
"Nightwing." Dr. Waters reached out to grip his friend's arm. "You are alright. There is nothing wrong with you."
The vigilante let his hands drop and allowed the reassurances to sooth his whirling emotions. He needed time to sort this all out in his head. There was so much to think about now. "Can I have the results please?"
"Of course." Dr. Waters handed over a CD with all the information loaded onto it along with the print outs. "I'll destroy the rest of this, shall I?"
"Yes, please," Nightwing nodded.
The doctor tried to smile reassuringly. "We can keep track of this if you're worried. Maybe a month or so from now we can test you again. Just to be sure."
"Ok." The vigilante agreed as he tucked the papers and CD away.
"Take care of yourself." Dr. Waters shook the young man's hand.
"Thank you." Nightwing gripped his hand tightly. "I appreciate this."
"I know. I'm always around for this kind of thing of you need me. Now go on." Dr. Waters smiled and gestured towards the window of his office.
Nightwing slipped out the window and drifted away on the midnight breeze. All thoughts of night patrol were forgotten. He turned in the direction of the warehouse district and home. He needed to be in the safety of his loft to work all this out. He certainly didn't want any company tonight. Hopefully, Robin wouldn't come around to bother him. He just really needed to be alone.
Dick sat on the roof of his warehouse loft. His mask and top of his outfit were tossed aside so that if any police helicopter went overhead they would not catch a vigilante, only a lone man looking forlornly out at the Gotham skyline. He rolled backwards until he lay flat before staring up at the night sky. It glowed orange from the many city lights reflecting off the clouds. No stars were visible tonight. Not even the moon shone through. A wash of feelings left him adrift in a sea of uncertain. Fear, anger, confusion, and disbelief cycled through him in rapid succession. He reached up to cover his face with his hands before taking a deep, shuddering breath.
He had known there were risks in being with Poison Ivy. He had thought that he was aware of what it was he was getting into with her. Not once had this possibility of being altered ever crosses his mind. Far as Batman or anyone from Arkham knew, Ivy could not poison with touch. But he hadn't just been in touch with her. Sex was a messy, intimate dance of bodies. Had she altered him from night one or had he slowly changed the longer he was exposed.
"What difference does it fucking make?" He growled to himself.
He was changed no matter how it happened. His son was also affected. That much had been somewhat expected. He was happy to know that he may not ever have to worry about his son becoming ill, poisoned, or diseased thanks to extremely high immunities. William had been conceived and born with that unique DNA. Dick had been altered. He trusted Dr. Waters opinion that this change was not detrimental. It was just the concept that he was different. He understood now why so many of the villians he fought had gone mad after undergoing major alterations of body. He was frightening to know that he was no longer the same. Thank God, it was only on the inside.
He lifted his hands up to stare at them. He didn't feel any different. Yet, the more he thought about it, he realized he had not been sick in over a year. Not even a minor cold. He curled his fingers into his palms and clenched his fists. He let his arms fall out to his sides. A calm acceptance was beginning to sweep through him. He had been healthy for over a year: proof that he was perfectly fine. He had not suddenly become a meta-human or mutant of any kind. He was fine.
"I'm fine." He reassured himself aloud. Just hearing it made relief ripple through him.
But now, what to do about it…
Should he tell Ivy or not? He didn't want her to feel responsible for what happened. She never would have done this to him on purpose. Of this, he was utterly certain. He doubted she even knew that she could do this to someone. He didn't want to cause a rift between them so soon after finding each other again. Yet, she deserved to know the truth. A relationship, especially a romantic one, could not be built one lies. Not if it was going to last. This was to big to hide from her. He had to tell her.
He laid out on the roof until the dawn began to pick up over the horizon. He reached into his utility built to dig out the communicator that connected only to hers. Her morning usually started by now. He dialed her communicator before raising it to his ear. He listened to it ring until on the final one her tired voice answered.
"Good morning, Bird. Shouldn't you be going to sleep?" She said softly. There was the rustle of bed sheets in the background.
"Good morning, Ivy. I can't sleep yet." He answered honestly.
"What's the matter?" She instantly sounded alert and anxious.
He was silent for a moment. "Can you poison or effect someone by touch?"
"No," she replied. "I have never been able to do that."
"Do you think you could if it was more than just touching?"
She was quiet. "I have used my blood to poison someone…"
He closed his eyes and took a shuddering breath.
"Why are you asking me these questions, Bird? What's happened?" She sounded scared.
"What? Different how?"
He swallowed. "I had my blood tested. My DNA has been changed. It has half of your signature attached to it, Ivy."
He heard her suck in a sharp breath. "Are you…?"
"I'm fine, love. Just…freaked out." That was a good way to put it. "My friend who tested me said I was better than fine."
"I had…suspected." Hundreds of miles away, she was looking down at the pale green that was spreading up her wrist. She trembled and clenched her fingers closed over her palm.
"You what?" He sat up, a spike of fear lancing through his chest.
"I had suspected something like this, but I was afraid to say something about it. I didn't want to frighten you away after finding you again." She whispered. Dick heard William coo softly in the background.
"What exactly did you think?" Dick suppressed the automatic reaction of anger he felt at hearing this confession.
She shushed William gently before answering Dick. "A plant cannot germinate without the proper pollen. There was no way that any human could impregnate me, because my body would instantly attack and destroy any outside influence. I have never been in prolonged contact with anyone in so intimate a way as I have been with you. The only conclusion I could come to in how I was able to become pregnant is that my body accepted yours or yours accepted mine."
Dick pulled his knees up and dropped his head onto them. "I don't know how to feel about this."
"I didn't know my body would do that to you. I thought it was me who had changed," she said, trying to keep the fear and worry out of her voice. She sat down on her couch as a dizzy spell swept over her. "If I had known …"
"You still would have captured me." He remarked.
She sighed. "Yes. I wanted you to badly. Nothing would have deterred me."
"I need a little time to be ok with this." He said truthfully.
"I'm sorry, my Bird," she whispered sadly.
"You don't need to apologize. Neither of us knew this would happen." He soothed gently. "I'm not angry at you."
"Thank you." There was a moment of silence on her end. "I have to get ready for work. Get some sleep. Please call me later."
"I love you, Ivy." He answered, and he meant it. He hoped she could heard it in his voice.
She sounded relieved. "I love you, Bird. Good night. Sleep sweet."
"Good morning. Have a good day." He replied before breaking the connection and turning off the communicator.
He pushed himself up, gathered up his mask and top, before heading towards the door for the stairwell down from the roof. He felt relieved and calmer now that he had spoken to her. Some of his fears had been assuaged enough for him to at least get some sleep. The rest of it would come with acceptance over time. There was nothing that could be done to change what had happened or alter his DNA back to its original state. Eventually, he would be ok with this. But for now, he just needed to sleep and forget about it for a little while.
Dick was awakened late in the afternoon by the buzz of his intercom. He rolled over to the bedside table and hit the button to answer whoever was calling at his door.
"Hello," he grumbled.
"Are you gonna let me in?" Tim's voice echoed through the room.
Dick dropped his head onto his pillow. "Why are you here?"
"I was worried about you." Tim's tinny voice replied.
"Then why weren't you out on patrol last night?"
Dick sighed heavily. "You're like my personal stalker."
"It's called being your brother!" Tim snapped angrily.
Dick groaned before hitting the button that unlocked the main warehouse door. "Put on some coffee when you get up here." He smacked off the intercom before letting his arm fall limply to hang off the side of the mattress. He dozed off until he heard his bedroom door kicked open. He cracked his eyes open when a mug of coffee was set on the table only a few inches from his nose.
"There you go, your majesty," Tim said sarcastically before shoving a pile of laundry off a chair and dropping onto it.
"Thank you." Dick pushed himself up and turned to sit against the head board.
"So where were you last night?" the boy interrogated his step brother.
Dick grabbed his mug and took a gulp of coffee. "Didn't feel up to it."
Tim did not look the least bit convinced. "I've been thinking…," he tapped his fingers against the arm of the chair. "You found her, didn't you?" Tim asked quietly.
Dick looked up sharply. "What makes you say that?"
"You haven't looked this happy in a long time. You meet some random girl that just happens to look like Her. Suddenly you're all rainbows and sunshine. I don't buy it. You've moped after her for so long that the only thing that could make you happy is finding her." Tim crossed his arms over his chest and gave his adoptive brother a 'prove me wrong' look. "And don't try to deny it. I was with you the most after…everything. You cried on me, man."
Dick flinched at the undignified reminder. "Damn, you are a smart brat."
Tim smirked. "So you did find her."
"I did," Dick admitted. To hell with it. He needed someone on his side. He knew he couldn't hide this by himself forever. "But Bruce can't know."
"I get that." Tim nodded. "But he's already suspicious."
"My cover story is as hole proof as I can make it." Dick sighed before gulping down more coffee.
There was silence for a few minutes as Tim studied his step brother. "Dick, not to be…"
"Your normal, pushy self?"
Tim rolled his eyes. "Yeah, that. Is it really safe to be back with her? I mean this is Poison Ivy."
"Was. She's changed and I believe her. I don't foresee any future relapses. She has good people in her life now to help her—not just me." Dick answered without looking up. His fingers flexed around his coffee mug. It wasn't her fault that he had been changed. Sleep had calmed him and dulled his fear. He loved her despite everything. Even this recent development didn't change his feelings.
"I don't want this to come back and bite you in the ass." Tim scowled.
Dick smiled as he glanced back over his shoulder at the boy. "I appreciate that. I'll keep an eye on her." Things had already gone to far to turn back now.
"I'll help you keep Bruce off your back, but if I think she's hurting you…"
"I get it, Tim, Thanks." Dick looked over at his little brother. "Really…thanks."
Tim nodded, before daring to mention one more thing. "There's something else you're not telling us."
Dick rolled his eyes. "I think I have the right not to tell you every detail of my personal life."
Tim raised his hands in surrender. "Fine. Fine. Just be careful."
"That's rich coming from you." Dick smirked. "But I will be careful." He'd do anything to protect his little family in Florida.
"Right. Well, I'm heading home then. See yah later, Dick." Tim stood up. "You're coming out on patrol tonight, right?"
"Yeah, I'll be out. Meet me at First Gotham Bank. We'll check out the west side. I've heard rumors of a drug ring that might be fun to bust up."
"See you then." Tim left the bedroom.
"Later!" Dick called after him.
It was a rare afternoon with Dick, Barbara, and Tim all gathered in the living room of the Wayne Manor, watching a movie. Moments like these were the times when Dick felt like he came closest to having a true, whole family. With bowls of popcorn being passed between them, shared laughter at the jokes on screen, and moments of earned laziness, Dick felt at peace. He felt the calmest he'd been in the last three weeks. He was no longer freaking out over any changes that had happened to him. There was nothing he could do about it now. He was changed, and that was that. He had accepted it with as much grace as he could manage. Things had smoothed over once more between he and Ivy. There was no resentment or anger on Dick's part at all. He was just happy to speak with her every chance he got and listen to his son's happy coos and babbles over the phone. Right in this moment, he was content. He just wished he could have his entire family altogether (Bruce, Tim, Barbara, Alfred, Ivy, and William all in one place). Maybe that was wishful thinking. He could only hope it would happen someday.
Dick's phone buzzed in his pocket. He knew who it was without a shadow of doubt. Without realizing it, a big dopey smile crossed his face. He jumped up from the couch, making a quick excuse, and ducking out the nearest door.
"I don't like this." Barbara frowned, watching Dick answer his phone and hurry outside for some privacy to chat to his girlfriend in peace.
"He's happy." Tim pointed out from his position on the couch.
"He's to serious about this woman. He's only know her for a month." Barbara said seriously. "It makes me wonder if he's only with her because she looks like Pamela Isley too."
Tim shrugged. "It could be. I don't think it's our business."
Barbara scrutinized him closely. "You know something."
"Maybe," Tim admitted. "But then again, maybe not. Maybe I'm just happy he's not sleeping around anymore and is beginning to act normal…for him anyways."
"You're not gonna tell me even if you do know." She grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Nope." Tim replied with a grin before turning up the TV.
Outside, Dick flipped his phone open and answered. "It's a little early to be calling." He said when the call picked up.
"Hello to you too, my Bird," she purred into his ear. That tone alone was enough to send shivers of desire down south in his pants. "I'm on lunch break. I wanted to hear your voice."
"I've missed you," he heard himself admitting.
He could almost hear her smirking. "I should hope so. I have missed you too."
"How are you? How's Will?" Dick asked, looking out across the garden from the back deck. One of these days, he hoped he could show the garden to Ivy. He knew she'd like it. It was his favorite spot on the Wayne Family property.
"I'm doing very well. I'm quite happy to spend my time cultivating roses for a wedding reception this weekend. I was asked personally to arrange them in the church and at the reception." She sounded so proud of her work. It made Dick happy that she seemed so calm and content in her new life. She was so different then the woman she used to be. "Will is getting bigger every day. He's trying to learn to crawl now."
Dick swallowed hard at the mention of his son. "I wish I could be there to see it. I miss him."
"About that…" Ivy said casually.
"What?" Dick asked.
"I wanted to invite you to Patrick's birthday party next Saturday. That is if you aren't busy."
Dick smiled. "I will be there." He didn't care if there was anything else going on next weekend. He'd cancel everything just to be there.
"Really?" She sounded surprised.
"I promise. I want to see you and William. I should get to know the rest of your family too." He answered cheerfully.
"Yes, you should. I'll let Pat know you're coming. I'm glad you'll come." She sounded so happy and relieved. "I have to go." She sounded regretful.
"Alright. I'm glad you called." He gripped the phone a little tighter like it would stop her from hanging up. "I love you."
There was a soft intake of breath. She still had trouble believing he truly did love her. He knew she felt like she didn't deserve it. He'd say it however many times it took for her to accept it completely. "I love you, my Bird. Good bye."
"Bye." He slowly lowered the phone from his ear before ending the call. He shoved the little communicator back into his pocket. He leaned against the deck rail, staring out at the blooming roses, and wishing with all his heart he was in Florida. Next weekend couldn't come fast enough.
The week seemed to drag past. Dick was filled with impatient, anxious energy that he took out on the criminals of Gotham. His alter ego hit the headlines more times in that week than Dick ever did on his sexcapade rampage. Even the papers were beginning to wonder what the hell was up with Nightwing's sudden overly enthusiastic war on crime. Robin didn't argue. He just did his best to keep up. For once, the two of them cleaned up town before Batman could even step into help; which was a good thing, because Batman was off doing official Justice League business.
Friday morning found Dick packed and ready to go, bouncing on his toes, as he waited eagerly for Alfred to pick him up to drive him to the airport. He flung himself into the backseat almost before the Mercedes drew to a complete stop when it arrived. Tim shook his head at his step brother's over excited behavior.
"I hope you're calmer when you come back. You're like a hyper active 4 year old," Tim grumbled.
"One day Tim you'll understand." Dick grinned as he reached over to ruffle his little brother's hair.
Tim smacked his hand away. "If love makes people act this ridiculous, I hope I never do."
The rest of the drive was spent playful bantering back and forth until Alfred was sighing in exasperation.
"Have a safe trip, Master Dick," Alfred said, relieved to be getting rid of the bundle of energy that was masquerading as Dick Grayson. He barely even startled when Dick pulled him into a brief hug.
"Thanks, Alfred," the younger man grinned. He gave Tim a sharp, painful side hug that made Tim flinch. "Be good, Timmy."
"Stop calling me Timmy!" The boy snapped, shoving his step brother away from. "Go already! And you better let us know when you get there!"
"I will," Dick waved as he hurried into the terminal.
"Good riddance," Tim sighed, rubbing at his aching shoulder. "I hope he gets laid soon as he gets there before he combusts."
"Master Timothy!" Alfred scolded.
Tim's shoulders immediately raised up to his ears in defense.
"I sincerely hope you are right." Alfred agreed after a moment.
Tim's eyes went wide and his shoulders dropped in shock before he started to laugh. "See! I knew I wasn't the only one who was getting sick of him!"
"Come, Master Timothy. I believe some ice cream is in order to celebrate surviving the last week." Alfred returned to the car and opened the door for his young charge.
"I think we deserve an entire ice cream cake for having to deal with that!"
Alfred smiled. "Indeed."
The plane couldn't seem to go fast enough to Dick. The hours dragged by until his final destination finally came into view. He bounced his heels as he waited for the plane to land. He drummed his fingers against his thighs as the plane taxied in to park. He knew he was being incredibly aggravating to the people sitting around him. He honestly didn't care. Excitement coursed through him as the doors finally opened and passengers could begin to disembark. He practically ran down the boarding ramp. He burst out of the walkway and scanned through the throng of people until he caught sight of Ivy's strawberry blond hair. His heart immediately tripped into overtime.
He hurried towards her, darting through the crowd until he was finally standing in front of her. For a moment, they simply stood gazing at each other. He thought she looked beautiful in her simple ivory skirt and mint green blouse. It was once again amazed him at how much of a lady she appeared to be. She looked so proper and moral. He wanted to rip her clothes right off.
"Hello, Bird," she smiled and reached for him.
He swept her up against him without another moment of hesitation. He didn't give a shit about the hundreds of people around them. All he cared about was the joy that seemed to be bursting in his chest at finally having her back in his arms. She pulled him down into a deep kiss, and the world seemed to fade out for a few seconds.
"Hello, Ivy," he whispered against her lips when they parted. He glanced around briefly. "Where's William?"
"He's with Pat for the day. We'll see him at dinner time." She dragged him into another searing kiss. "I wanted you all to myself," she whispered breathlessly into his ear. Heat instantly surged through him like a firestorm. "Let's get out of here." He wasn't about to argue that sentiment.
The drive back to her apartment blurred by in lingering touches on thighs and arms, and stolen kisses at red lights. They held hands up the sidewalk to the apartment building. They practically ran down the hallway to her door. She fumbled the keys for a moment as she hurried to unlock the door. She shoved the door open when the bolt finally slid back and dragged him inside.
The door was barely shut and latched before he was hoisting her up against it. She made an aborted noise of surprise that cut off into a moan as he shoved his hands up under her skirt. All he could think was thank God she decided to wear a skirt. Easy access had never been more appreciated than in that moment. His immediate goal was to touch every bare inch of skin he could reach. She worked just as single mindedly at her own goal of removing his shirt. He let go for half a second to yank it off and toss it to the side without her even sliding an inch down the door. Then his hands were sliding back up her wonderful shapely thighs, under her skirt and stopping at the barrier of soft cloth that barred his access. She growled irritably when he started to yank on it. He took the hint and helped her shimmy out of her panties.
Soon as the scrap of fabric had been thrown aside his fingers delved between her thighs. She keened, soft and breathy, as one finger rubbed across the entire length of her womanhood. He was amazed at how soaking wet she was for him already. He'd barely even touched her! His cock twitched hard at the thought of how eager she was to have him. It seemed she had missed him just as desperately as he had missed her. They both reached for the fly of his pants at the same time. Somehow, his pants were finally undone and pushed down his thighs. The sound of utter want that purred from her throat at the sight of his cock made his blood surge in his veins. It had been way to long since they'd been intimate. Neither of them could wait another moment.
He groaned as her legs wrapped around his waist to snug his cock against her sex in open invitation. He could not believe the way she way she was acting—so desperate and needy that she was willing to let him take her right here against the door without a care. She had never been quite this wild before. Only a year ago, he would have never been able to manhandle her in such a way.
"Please," she whimpered. "Please please!"
He nearly came just from that. She had never begged like that before and he couldn't take it. He didn't hesitate another moment. He wrapped one fist around his cock and the other hand held her hips in place. Then he was pressing his cock slowly inside her, slipping into her in teasing increments. He closed his eyes as his body already began to shake. Fuck, she was so tight and wet. The slick heat of her beckoned him in and obliterated any rational thought left in him. It took everything he had not to slam the rest of the way inside her.
She tilted her head back against the door as he pushed inside her. Her mouth fell open on a choked moan. Oh God, he was incredible. Her body stretched and ached to nearly overwhelming levels. The sensation of him slowly sliding into her nearly had her coming immediately. They both stilled as he finally settled to the hilt inside her. She almost jumped when the hand on her hip let go to reach up and yank the front of her blouse open. Her breasts spilled out into the cool air, nipples instantly tightening into hard peaks. He reached down to grab both of her ass cheeks, spreading her wider, before slowly sliding out and pushing back in a little rougher. He leaned down to drag his tongue across her nipple before suckling it gently.
She whimpered and writhed against him. He barely had to move his cock inside her to make her pleasure ramp up higher. Each slow glide in and out was sending her into near ecstasy. After only the third stroke she was coming with a broken yelp. Her heels dug into his buttocks as he stopped moving in surprise. Had she really just come so quickly? He had a brief moment to wonder just how quickly she had found release when she bucked against him.
"Move!" She snarled, shoving her hips down onto him.
He didn't need to be told twice. His control snapped at the thought that Ivy had just gotten off almost completely from being penetrated. He gripped her ass and began to rock into her in rough, fast, and needy thrusts. Her cries of lust and appreciation were sending shivers skating down his spin. Her fingernails dug into his shoulders before scraping down his arms. His hips snapped forward hard as she clawed down his biceps. The pleasure she giving him was mind shattering. She was being so honest, lustful, and wanting of him. She truly was enjoying herself too. All of it combined to send him into a near frenzy of lust.
Her hips writhed against him as he plunged in and out of her with almost no rhythm. He was like a mindless beast, rutting with only the thought of release in his mind. Her breasts rubbed across his chest making him shudder. Fuck, she was so soft everywhere. Her ass was the perfect fit for the palms of his hands. Her thighs were clamped about his hips, giving her leverage to ride down onto him as he fucked up.
It was like a battle. They scrambled, growled, panted, and scratched across bare skin. She cried out again, moments later, and the clamp of her walls around him was to much. She was gorgeous with her head thrown back and mouth falling open in udder abandon as her climax shook her. He drove into her mindlessly as he felt the inferno of orgasm building hot and heavy in his gut. She dug her ankles into his ass again, refusing to let him slow down to make it last longer. She twisted her hips in his lap while squeezing her walls tight around him. His orgasm tore through him so fast and fierce that the world seemed to fade around the edges for a few seconds.
She moaned happily as they slipped down the door a little.
He barely had the strength and the presence of mind to slip out of her before stumbling towards the couch. They fell in a tangled, tired heap across the cushions. Dick reached up to grab for the throw blanket, but she pushed his hand aside.
"Don't bother," Ivy smirked. "I'm not even close to done with you yet."
Dick groaned and his cock throbbed with interest as she straddled his hips.
"We have all day to ourselves," she smiled wickedly as she stroked her hands down his chest and over his twitching abs. "I intend to use every second of it for pleasure."
"Ivy," he moaned breathlessly as she rubbed her womanhood across his quickly hardening cock. "Ah, fuck, I missed you."
She kissed him hard. "I missed you…badly. I wanted this," she cupped his now full reawakened cock in her palms. She let go of him to place her hands on his chest before raising her hips to position herself over his pulsing length. She sank slowly down on to him. Dick seemed to lose sense of all time and place after that. There was nothing but her and he never wanted it to end. His hands found her hips then the intimate dance of pleasure began all over again.
The afternoon slipped away, lost in a haze of slickened skin, desperate kisses, and time stealing ecstasy.
They laid together on her bed, having finally migrated into her bedroom, after the second round on the couch. A brief nap had been required after that much strenuous activity. Now they were lying on their sides with Ivy facing towards the window with Dick curled against her back. Dick's palm caressed over the smooth skin of Ivy's belly, watching her as she dozed peacefully. The golden glow of the sunset drifted in between the cracks in the blinds. Sleepily, she stretched out her arm towards the light. She sighed in contentment as the warmth seemed to radiate through her skin and recharge her. Sometimes she felt to much like a plant. When she had been completely lost to madness she had been certain that she was Mother Nature or perhaps a part of the Earth come to life. All of that had been impossible. Yet, now that she had broken free, it seemed that her past was determined to catch up to her. Nature (or Karma, or a higher power, whatever one chose to believe) did not allow those who do wrong to go unpunished.
Dick dragged his palm up her waist, over the edge of her breast, to her shoulder, and down the length of her arm to entwine his fingers with hers. She seemed melancholy all of the sudden. He was about to ask what was wrong when something strange on her arm caught his eye. Slowly, he rotated her wrist over. He sat up with a jerk and leaned over her to get a better look at the green color that seemed to be running up through the veins of her wrist. It radiated out from her veins to tinge the rest of the skin near by a light shade of jade. He glanced up at her face to see her staring at the sunlight drifting in through the window.
"Ivy," he squeezed her wrist to break her out of her reverie. "What is this?"
She looked down at her wrist before pulling it gently out of his grip and tucking it against her side. "A new adaption." She answered briefly. It was the truth, but not all of it.
"What does that mean?" He pressed with a hint of worry and fear in his voice.
"I'm not sure yet. It started after I had William." She was as honest as she could be.
He frowned. "Does it hurt?"
"No. Not at all." That much was entirely true. "I believe my body might be trying to recover. It might be struggling to do so. That's all."
"That's all! Ivy, this could be serious," Dick leaned over her and cupped her cheek.
She looked up at his anxious expression. This is not how she wanted the rest of their afternoon to end. She should have been more careful. "It's not serious. My body changes whenever it goes through something drastic." That was also very true. This change, however, was entirely different. "I'm just fine. My cells just have to readjust. Just like when plants lose their leaves or grass blades are cut. My body needs time to recover. I'm fine, Bird." She smiled in a placating manner.
He did not look convinced.
"Stop worrying, Bird. I haven't seen you in a month. There are better things to do than be worried about my green arm." She smirked as she rolled onto her back. She dragged his face down to hers to place a kiss against his lips. "If it were something worse, I would tell you." She lied smoothly.
"You're sure it's not worse than you're letting on," Dick persisted.
"Yes, I promise." She smiled. "Now stop frowning and make love to me."
A smile finally graced his lips in return. "If you insist."
"Oh I do. I really do." She let her legs fall open as he crawled on top of her.
He kissed her sweetly before making love to her in the glow of the golden sunset.
They could have easily spent the rest of the evening in bed together. It was tempting to try. However, Dick missed his son. As much as he truly loved Ivy, he wanted to hold William in his arms again. The idea that he had his own little family now was still so new and thrilling. They showered quickly, dressed, and made it over to Patricia's house only a few minutes later than Ivy promised they would be. Only a few minutes late could be considered a major accomplishment with how much they had rushed to get out the door on time.
Patricia met them at the front door, and handed William over to Dick before he even opened his mouth. The two women thought their hearts might melt at how quickly the younger man's expression transformed into one of awe and unconcealed love for the little boy in his hands. Dick tucked William against his shoulder and barely put him down for nearly two hours.
"Did you need the whole day to sort him out again, Pay?" Pat winked at her sister.
Dick's cheeks flamed bright red.
"Of course. I could have used the rest of the evening. But I made good use of the time I had," Ivy smirked, tucking her hand into the crock of Dick's arm.
He looked up at the ceiling as his cheeks turned even more red. The two women just laughed at the look of utter discomfort on his face. Patricia teased him a little more as she ushered them further into the house. Dick was introduced to Patrick and Paige, who met him with a kind of unrestrained enthusiasm that he almost found suspicious. They had never met a celebrity before despite him swearing up and down that he really wasn't one. Both pestered him with questions about where he lived, about Bruce Wayne and his family, about growing up, and every little detail they could think of that he might answer. He answered as best as he could, but was soon overwhelmed by their interest. Patricia finally took pity on him and chased them away by making them set the table.
Dinner was a happy, loud affair the likes of which he had never experienced in a family setting. Meals at the Wayne Manor had been quiet and subdued. Dick had always done most of the talking. Now Dick barely got a word in edge wise as the two kids told him about every sport, scouting, and horseback riding event they were involved in. It was as though they were trying desperately to impress him. He really didn't understand why. He was really no one special. Just a boy who'd been adopted by a millionaire and had done very little to make a name for himself. Patricia threatened them with no dessert if they didn't stop swamping him with information. They immediately subsided and dinner became a much calmer, quieter affair. They still watched him like hawks though.
After dinner was finished, the dishes cleaned up, and the left overs put away, they all retreated to the living room. Patrick and Paige took out a deck of cards to begin a game of war. Pat and Ivy sat on the couch, while Dick settled on the arm next to Ivy. They idly chatted as they polished off night caps. This was the kind of family environment Dick had always wanted. In Wayne Manor, he was either alone or with Alfred, and spent very little time with Bruce out of costume. He wasn't ungrateful for his childhood. It had been a good one, if a little lonely for a young boy. He couldn't complain though. He had never wanted for anything. Bruce had loved him as his son and expressed it as much as he was able too. That was fine with Dick. If Bruce had been more outwardly expressive, Dick probably would have thought the man was desperately ill. Still, for a child that went from the constant activity and companionship of living in the circus to moving into a massive, lonely old manor, it had been quite a life change. This was the kind of family environment he had always secretly longed for as a child. It was peaceful and joyful.
"What's it like to be a vigilante?" Patrick asked him, breaking the content silence that had fallen over the living room. He'd been nearly bursting to ask it all evening.
Dick nearly fell off the arm of the couch in his shock as he whipped around to gap at the young boy. "What?!"
"We all know you're Nightwing." The boy gave him an exasperated look.
Dick turned accusing eyes towards Patricia. She shook her head in denial. "I haven't said a word!"
"We heard you and Aunt Pay whispering about it." Paige spoke up. "I mean, me and Patrick knew Aunt Pay was Poison Ivy. Mom told us a short version of the story. I just happened to hear Mom say something about Nightwing being William's dad to Aunt Pay before Dick even showed up. There were a lot of other little things said. It didn't take much to figure out Dick was Nightwing."
"And here I thought you never paid attention." Patricia remarked to her pre-teen daughter. Paige rolled her eyes. Paige was barely thirteen. She walked around with her head in the clouds more than half the day. Every time Patricia wanted to talk to her daughter lately, she'd have to yell at Paige before she got any attention. She'd remember not to underestimate her daughter from now on. "I'm gonna guess Paige told you then?" She asked Patrick.
"Yep!" Patrick grinned, before turning his attention back to Dick. "So what's it like!?"
Dick frowned. "Listen, the both of you."
The look on his face must have made them realize that something very serious was about to be discussed. Both kids looked up at him with unusually solemn expressions.
"Your aunt has a very long list of enemies. As Nightwing, I have a very long list of enemies. All of these enemies are crazy, psychotic killers. They will hurt or kill you to get to your aunt or me. So far you both have been very good at keeping our secret. But this has to stay in the family; just between those of us in this room. Not a word of it can get out. Not even a hint." Dick was deadly serious. "That means that even when you want to impress your friends, you keep it to yourself." His eyes settled on Patrick.
The boy nodded with a look of fear in his eyes.
"Being a vigilante is dangerous. I fight every night to protect the citizens of Gotham. It's serious work. It's not playtime." Dick spoke to Patrick, but he could see that Paige was riveted on his every word as well. "That's not to say I don't have fun." A slow smile crept across his face.
"Have you almost died?" Paige asked, a little breathlessly.
"To many times to count." Dick answered evenly. He glanced over at Ivy. He remembered thinking he was going to die before he ever got to leave her hideout. She caught his gaze and seemed to sense what he was thinking. She reached out to take his hand before squeezing his fingers tightly.
"You were Robin, weren't you?" Patrick inquired, scooting closer in anticipation of the answer.
Dick grinned. "Yep."
"How old were you?"
The young man's blue eyes shuttered for a moment. "Younger than you. But I had to fight. Someone had murdered my parents. I couldn't let that happen to another kid."
"I can't believe you got to stay up all night fighting bad guys!" Patrick gasped in amazement.
"Not all night." Dick corrected. "I still had to go to school. I had to be in bed by 2am. Batman's orders."
"What a buzzkill!" Patrick protested.
Dick laughed out right at that. "I thought the same thing too."
"How'd you have any girlfriends or go on any dates? Did you even get to go to prom?" Paige looked like she couldn't even fathom missing such important teenage moments.
"I didn't really have to many girlfriends. I had one for a little while. She was different though." Ivy's hand tightened almost painfully on his and he fought back the smirk of amusement at her jealousy. "I missed all of my high school dances."
"That's horrible! Nothing's worth that!" Paige exclaimed in disgust.
Dick had to bite his lip not to howl with laughter. Oh, the importance of things when you're a young teenage girl.
"So you used to fight Aunt Pay, right?" Patrick switched the subject back to more interesting things.
"I did a few times." Dick admitted.
"Well then how did you guys fall in love and end up with a baby?" Paige crossed her arms over her chest.
Dick swallowed hard and looked at Ivy for help.
"It's your interrogation, Bird," she smirked, bouncing William lightly in her arms.
"Yes, but the whole scheme was yours, not mine." He argued.
Ivy grinned. "I captured him, Paige. You could say we came to an understanding while he was in my care."
Patricia snorted into her cup, trying not to choke on the sip of water she'd just taken. She recovered after a moment. "Is that what you both are calling it now?"
Dick's cheeks flushed with embarrassment. "Well, I'm not about to tell them the whole story."
"Because it's more R rated?" Paige put in.
"Something like that." Ivy replied evenly.
Thankfully, that aspect of the conversation was finally dropped. Dick spent the rest of the evening regaling the children with stories of his vigilante days. He did not mention ever fighting Ivy. He had no desire to stir up that pot of memories for either of them. Ivy seemed to enjoy hearing his stories as much as the children. It was a side of him that she had never known before. It was one thing to be a part of it or on the receiving end of Batman's version of justice. It was another entirely to listen to the man that had once been Robin talk about his experiences growing up fighting villains.
It was late by the time, Ivy and Dick took their leave of the Isley clan.
"Thank you for being so patient with Paige and Patrick," Ivy squeezed Dick's hand on the drive back to her apartment.
"You're welcome. I had a great time with all of them." He smiled and squeezed back. "You're lucky to have such a wonderful family."
"I am." She whispered. "I truly am."
Saturday was Patrick's party. There was so much good food that Dick had no idea what to eat first. Pat's house was packed with people. Every single person had to come up to shake his hand and greet him. He was surrounded by admiring women of all ages that gushed over him. They never overwhelmed him though. Whenever it started to get a little to much Ivy would chase them off or their husbands and/or parents would come collect them. He enjoyed himself despite the overdose of attention. He didn't think he had ever laughed or smiled so much. He felt truly included in the celebration instead of an outsider or someone just pretending to be part of the party. It was like no other social event he had ever been too. It wasn't glitzy, fake, or overdone. It was good, honest fun and happiness. The kids played games, the adults chatted and mingled, and the food never ran out. Not a word was ever mentioned about William looking so much like Dick or his relationship with Payton. He could tell the women were dying of curiosity. Not one spoke up. It was a relief for Dick. He had no idea what he would have said to any of those questions.
The time for presents came around. Dick watched in amusement as Patrick tore into his pile of gifts. He soon had an impressive pile of all the latest cool toys and clothes. Dick's present was the last, smallest one in the pile. Patrick ripped the paper off the box and yanked the cover away. His eyes went wide as he pulled out three tickets.
"Orlando beach!" He yelled in excitement. "Are you serious!?"
"I figured your family could use a little vacation." Dick grinned sheepishly.
"Oh my God, Dick!" Pat's mouth fell open as she took the tickets and read the fine print. "This is an all-expenses paid trip! You didn't have to do that."
Dick shrugged. "I wanted to. You all deserve it. Happy birthday Patrick."
"Thank you! Thank you!" Patrick jumped up and hugged him.
"You're welcome. Have fun. You'll have to tell me how it was when you come back." Dick hugged him back.
"I will! Orlando! This gonna be awesome!" The boy exclaimed. "I heard they have lots of sharks!"
Ivy patted Dick's shoulder. "Good choice." She whispered into her lover's ear.
"I do try." Dick whispered back before kissing her briefly.
After that the presents were set aside and the cake brought out. The rest of the party seemed to fly by in a round of sugar overdose from every child present. The adults simply tried to stay out of the way and let the kids run themselves out in the backyard. Ivy decided it was best to take their leave. William was becoming overwhelmed and cranky from the noise and bustle. They said their good byes before slipping away.
Soon as William was put to bed, they spent the rest of the evening soaking in the tub. This time it was Dick's turn to lavish Ivy with attention. He spent a long time washing every inch of her skin until she was so calm and languid that she was nearly asleep against his chest. He sang gently to her the entire time. Although it was not sexual, it was the most intimate experience Dick had ever had with a lover. At length, when the water had gone cold, he lifted her out of the tub and dried her off before carrying her to bed. They slept curled together the entire night. William did not wake even once to disturb the peace that had settled over them.
The next day, Ivy drove them out to the lake front. She packed a picnic lunch and several towels. They spent the morning playing in the water. William discovered the joy of splashing water. Dick was more than happy to hold his son in his lap while sitting in the shallows letting William play. The baby giggled wildly as he slapped the surface of the water repeatedly. Ivy lounged back on her elbows in the water beside them. Dick thought she looked beautiful even with the silly, floppy sun hat she had on. Her emerald green bikini accentuated her hair and her eyes perfectly. Her lips looked ruby red. Her skin was like polished white opal swirled with hints of mint green in the sunlight. He refused let himself worry about that. Today was meant for relaxing and enjoying their time together.
Lunch was a leisurely affair of salad and fresh fruits. William lay on his stomach, trying to grab at the containers of strawberries like he was jealous he could not eat it yet. To both parents amazement, William raised himself up onto his forearms and knees. He rocked back and forth for just a moment before dropping back to his stomach.
"Wow, strong man!" Dick praised with a bright grin.
Ivy clapped her hands as the baby tried again. "He's not supposed to be doing that for at least another month."
"He's got places to be," Dick laughed as he encouraged William to keep trying.
The baby managed a few more 'push ups' before finally tiring out and falling asleep on his stomach.
"He's like a kitten. Drops soon as he's worn himself out." Dick remarked with a fond smile.
"He sleeps anywhere too," Ivy chuckled.
"He's a great kid. We did a good job when we made him." Dick teased, scooting over to Ivy and giving her a kiss.
"Yes, we did." Ivy grinned and stole another kiss.
Dick lay down on his back beside Ivy as she packed the food away. It had been a wonderful weekend. Not a moment of it had been bad. That was highly unusual in Dick's experience. Good things never lasted long for him. Yet, this weekend gave him hope. Maybe he and Ivy could really work. Maybe this wasn't just some fantasy he hoped would last. They could have this together. He reached over to curl his fingers into Ivy's. She glanced down at him and smiled softly. A smile meant only for him. He reached over to rub William's little back. The baby sighed happily in response. A joyful smile curled across his lips. He turned his gaze out over the lake, watching the beautiful sunlight glitter brightly on the water's surface. He was truly happy. His dream of finally having his own family seemed to be coming true.
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The next part is gearing up to be a roller coaster. Readers be warned! The rating will be back up at X for the next part.