Author's Note: I posted two chapters today, so if you haven't read about the wedding, you'll want to go back a chapter.
Many hours later, long after the party had moved from the darkening lawn to the ballroom, Dick stole away to the deserted patio. A slight mist was rising, and everything smelled like approaching rain. One rare, beautiful day, and then always a storm. You never change either, Gotham, he shook his head nostalgically.
Jason had left a short while earlier, having stayed well past the cutting of the cake. He had mostly lingered around the edges of the gathering, sipping slowly at a drink and observing the crowd. He had approached no one the entire night, although as the evening went on Dick had been glad to see a few people go up to him. Diana had been the first, followed shortly by Clark, then a couple other JLA'ers from back in the day. Babs had even rolled up for a short conversation, the details of which he was desperately hoping to hear once they were in private.
Swirling his wine slowly to let it absorb the cool, damp air rising into the hills from the river, he smiled. He'd been fortunate enough to catch sight of Damian drawing closer to Jason shortly after the migration indoors, and had swiftly crossed the room, sensing that things could go bad very quickly between his two pugnacious siblings and wanting to be close by if their discussion became heated. Before either of them had realized he was approaching, he managed to overhear enough to calm his concern, and it was the memory of those few sentences that caused him to sniffle slightly as he watched fireflies dart back and forth above the lawn.
"Maybe you aren't a complete idiot after all, Todd," Damian opined, peering up at Jason. "…Maybe."
"What made you change your mind?" the older male inquired, almost looking amused as he sipped at his screwdriver.
"Grayson. And the loss of a hundred dollars to our new sister-in-law. But… mostly Grayson."
"…Oh?" His face changed, an expression of pure curiosity passing over his features.
"Yes. He believes some strange things, but…I respect how steady he holds to those beliefs, no matter what others say, until time proves him right."
"You have an example of that?"
"Two, actually. He believed in you…and he believed in me." He paused pensively. "…He was right on both counts, even though everyone else thought he was a fool. Anyway," he shook himself, "if I've learned anything about him, it's that he doesn't have time for idiocy. If he's tolerated you for this long, then he must believe that you aren't a true idiot. So…maybe he's right." He shrugged. "And that's all I have to say to you right now." With that, he turned away and disappeared into the crowd, leaving Jason gaping.
Dick swam back to the present as someone else slipped outside. A second after the patio door clicked shut, Bruce's familiar bulk leaned beside him. "Hey," his voice, a little deeper than usual for when he wasn't in costume, greeted.
"…Hey," he answered after a second, still watching the insects in the grass.
"How's it feel?"
"How does what feel?"
He considered the question. "…The same as it did before I was married."
"What about the oath you took today?" he asked, sounding a little surprised.
"Bruce, I made all those promises a long time ago. Today was just saying out loud what I'd already sworn to myself that I was going to do for the rest of the time she and I are both breathing."
"...Then it sounds to me like you married the right woman," the billionaire said huskily.
"I did." He glanced over. "…You okay?" he asked lightly, well aware that the man at his side was crying silently. Thank god it's dark out here, he thought fervently.
"…I'm so proud of you, son. I…I don't say that enough."
Biting his lip, he leaned over until he head was against Bruce's shoulder. A heavy arm draped itself across his back. "It's okay," he whispered. "I'm not going anywhere, you know. You're not losing me after today. Like I said, it's not even really different. You know I'd never get Babs to leave Gotham even if I tried, so…I guess you're stuck sharing your city with me."
"I suppose I can live with that," he joked thickly.
"Although," Dick grinned into the night, "I was wondering…when you retire, are you going to split Gotham into quarters, or do you lean more towards primogeniture?"
Bruce laughed and wiped at his eyes. "…I wish I had your talent for always knowing what to say."
"You didn't do half bad upstairs this afternoon. Guess I'm rubbing off on you."
"Yeah, I'm sure that just started happening."
When their chuckles had quieted, Dick sighed. "He stayed much longer than I thought he would. I think that's a good thing, don't you?"
"…Yes." I still wish we could have talked, but…I don't know that it would have done any good, and it probably would have just ruined things if I'd tried. I couldn't take that risk, not today. Not when you wanted him here so badly. I would never have forgiven myself if I'd chased him away after all your efforts.
"He'll come around, Bruce. I know he will."
"Before today, chum, I would have agreed without really believing you. Now, though…you may just be right. I certainly hope you are." They were silent for several long moments. "…I wish your parents could have seen how happy you were today, Dick." If they could see the man you've become…
"Yeah," he nodded, his face pinching briefly. "…But one out of three is still a pretty damn good representation in my book."
The billionaire had to stifle a whimper at that. "…I love you," he choked out.
Dick straightened and turned to him, mouth ajar. "…What did you just say?" he breathed.
He smiled. "You heard me." Don't ask me to repeat it, because I don't know if I can. At least not right now, and certainly not to anyone but you.
"You…but you don't…you never…Bruce," he moaned, his face crumbling. "You say that now? As if I wasn't already on the edge of an emotional abyss today, you drop that on me?"
"Well, it only took fifteen years of practice, but…it seemed like an appropriate wedding present." He pulled his son close, letting trembling lips and wet cheeks hide against his throat just as they had on the first night they'd met. It wasn't too much different than this, actually, he recalled as he held him. A cool night, tears, and an approaching storm…yeah. This seems about right.
"I love you, too," he replied finally, pulling away and drawing his sleeve across his face. "…Oh, shit, Alfred's going to kill me."
"Yeah…" A sudden frown came over his face as he stared in the direction of the city.
"…What?" Bruce asked tensely.
"Just waiting for the inevitable explosion. There's bound to be a crisis starting any second now – it's been too good of a day for it to end any other way."
"…Since when are you the cynical one?"
"I guess exchanges of personality traits follow the law of reciprocity," Dick smirked.
"I get to occasionally not say the wrong thing, and you get cynicism. Somehow that doesn't seem like a fair trade."
"Survival tactics," the younger man answered as the patio door opened again.
"...Can I interrupt what is no doubt an incredibly manly moment?" Barbara practically begged as she rolled up to them. "Oh," her eyes widened as she saw the drying tear tracks on her husband's face. "Sorry, guys, I didn't-"
"It's okay," Bruce cut her off. "We were done being…ah…"
"Manly," Dick supplied.
"In that case, would you both please come back inside and help me distract the semi-drunken horde? There's talk of a conga line."
Both men shuddered, identical expressions of disgust making Babs smirk.
"…Aren't conga lines illegal in this county?" Bruce inquired.
"They should be. Write to Senator Brannen in the morning, he only owes you about eight hundred favors. This has to be stopped. Citizen's arrests may be in order," Dick said. "…Think any of them are drunk enough to believe that my BPD badge is still valid?"
"You still have that?" the billionaire raised an eyebrow. That's my boy.
"Hey, you never know when you'll need to flash a shield."
"If that doesn't work, I've got handcuffs in my bag upstairs," Barbara contributed. "Good ones," she added when her husband gave her an intrigued look.
"…No. We should save those," he grinned wickedly.
"I'm beginning to regret letting you have the room next to mine all those years ago," Bruce groaned.
"You say that like you think we can't be quiet," the bride crossed her arms in a faux huff.
"Yeah, how do you think we got away with things so often when we were on patrol?" Dick threw in. When his only reply was a dark look, he flashed his teeth in a broad, simpering smile. "Love yoooouu," he teased.
"Get inside, you two," he herded them in front of him. "We have a crime against humanity to stop." The sigh he let out as they abandoned the cool night for the hot ballroom was designed to sound much-put-upon, but in his heart he'd rarely had a happier moment. He caught Jim Gordon's eye across the room, and they shared a proud moment as Barbara allowed herself to be pulled to her feet and held upright for a slow song.
Every great once in a while, the billionaire dared to think, a soft but blatantly happy smile spreading across his face as he watched the newlyweds dance, even in Gotham, things go right.
Author's Note: Thanks so much to you all for coming on this little adventure with me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. As always, happy reading!