Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Bruce/Dick, Alfred Pennyworth
Genres: AU, Historical, Mystery, Romance
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Warnings (this chapter): None
General Summary: A series of daring robberies on Gotham City’s Gold Coast catches the attention of the Raven and the Nightingale.
Chapter Summary: Bruce and Dick go spelunking.
Date Of Completion: March 19, 2015
Date Of Posting: November 28, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1033
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Submitted to my 2015 DCU Fic/Art Dick Grayson Diamond Anniversary Challenge. The entire series can be found here.
Of our lives
"Nights Of Arabia"
Dick was sore the next morning but no amount of persuasion would keep him in bed. Bruce did not bother to try. As long as Dick was headache-free, he was eager to start exploring, too.
They dressed in hiking clothes, including sturdy boots, and Bruce insisted they take ropes. “If we’re going spelunking, we’re going to do it properly.”
“It means cave exploring.”
“Ah.” Dick paused in pulling on his pants. “I thought you said ‘spanking’.” His eyes twinkled.
Bruce buttoned his shirt while studiously avoiding meeting Dick’s eyes. “You are incorrigible.”
They went downstairs to the library where Alfred was dusting. “All prepared, sir?”
“Yes.” Bruce picked up a lantern from the desk. He also picked up a miner’s helmet with an unlit candle in the center. “We’re ready.”
Dick picked up his lantern and helmet and Alfred handed them sturdy ropes and matches.
“Do be careful, gentlemen.”
“We will, Alfred.” Dick winked at the butler, who smiled back as the dancer followed Bruce down the stairs.
The cave was just as magnificent as it had been yesterday. Bruce was as excited as Dick to see the glittering stalagmites as they moved along the rocky floor. Bats rustled up in the ceiling as the explorers charted a large chamber. The ceiling had to be dozens of feet high, as it was difficult to see at all.
There were dark holes in the cave wall in front of them, and the faint sound of rushing water off to their right. Bruce gestured to the right and Dick nodded, following the older man in that direction.
They found the chamber stretching off into darkness and carefully trekked their way to the sound of the water. Their lanterns swung as they walked, creating spooky arcs of light on the cave walls.
“Careful of sinkholes,” Bruce cautioned. “You could break an ankle.”
Dick grimaced. Such an occurrence was a nightmare for dancers. He looked down at the uneven floor.
They walked for several yards, and the sound of water grew louder. They swung their lanterns and the walls glittered with mica, lending an ethereal cast to the scene. The sound they were tracking became a roar.
Dick could feel cool mist on his skin and smell that distinct damp smell that gallons of water produce. They walked around a large stalagmite and were astounded by the waterfall that suddenly appeared.
It was a roaring lion of magnificence, cool and blue and beautiful. Dick closed his eyes and let the mist touch his skin. It was better than any shower.
When he opened his eyes, Bruce was looking at him with love in that way that never failed to send a shiver through his body. He smiled and saw Bruce blink.
“It’s beautiful,” Dick murmured.
“Yes.” Bruce was still looking at him, not the waterfall.
Dick watched the cascade of water, shifting from foot-to-foot.
“You want to dive in under that water, don’t you?” Bruce’s voice was amused.
“I do! But I don’t fancy walking around in wet clothes, either.”
“Wise decision.” Bruce tapped his chin with his index finger. “You know, cataracts like this usually have a space in back. We could go behind the waterfall, possibly without getting drenched.”
They hiked over the wet rocks, reaching the edge of the curtain of water. Bruce poked around. “Okay, here.”
Dick followed him, the waterfall splashing them but not completely drenching them. They emerged into daylight and the smell of the ocean.
“The water is trickling toward the open sea,” Dick observed.
The riverbed was filled with stones smoothed by the passage of water and time. It emptied into the sparkling ocean.
The day was beautiful, the kind of clear air and brightness that comes after a storm. Dick took a deep breath, smelling ocean salt and sea air. Bruce seemed to delight in all the sights and smells, too. He climbed up on a rock to get a better view.
“This waterfall is difficult to get to from land or sea, so the cave entrance is safe.”
“Safe?” Dick shielded his eyes from the sun.
“From overly-curious interlopers.”
Dick’s smile was gentle. “I believe Freud calls that being paranoid.”
“He’d be right.”
Dick snorted as he climbed up beside Bruce and was greeted by the sparkling sea. The lighthouse at Point Spruce was clear in the daylight. Tonight the lighthouse keeper would turn on the great light to serve as a beacon for ships.
“We should come out here at night,” Dick said.
“Sure, with the lighthouse on and the moonlight sparkling on the sea, it’d make a perfect picture.”
“It’s all about setting the stage for you, isn’t it?”
Since Bruce’s tone was affectionate, Dick answered in kind. “Of course! What is life without setting the stage?” He swept his hand out to encompass the vista of beauty stretching out before them. “Seize the day, my friend, because who knows what may come on the morrow.”
Bruce squinted at him “That sounds suspiciously like a quote from a play.”
Dick smiled smugly. “I’ll never tell.” He put his hand on Bruce’s arm, ostensibly for balance, except that Bruce knew that he had perfect balance.
Dick grinned saucily. He loved teasing Bruce. His lover was able to play along or sigh in exasperation. This time he said, “Careful. Watch your step. The rocks are slippery.”
Dick was aware of the broken ankle danger and tightened his grip. “I’m always careful despite what it may look like.”
Bruce raised an eyebrow and Dick stifled his laughter. He rested his chin on Bruce’s shoulder and they watched a freighter chug toward Gotham Harbor. A flock of seagulls flew by, screeching and squawking.
Dick felt content. He could smell Bruce’s aftershave mingled with the rich smell of tobacco from his pipe. These were smells that were rapidly becoming ‘home’ to him, much like the smells of rich spices in his parents’ wagon. He gently squeezed Bruce’s arm.
Whatever would come, they would always have this moment on a day for which the word ‘perfect’ was invented.