Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Bruce/Dick
Continuities: Comics Silver Age, Comics Bronze Age
Series Notes: Well, it’s no secret that I absolutely love Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier! As I read it I got all sorts of ideas, and will collect them under the umbrella title, "The New Frontier". Stories could range from slash to (gasp!) gen and het. :) I’d like to focus on many different characters within the framework of The New Frontier universe, or use it as a jumping-off point. All stories can be found here.
Genres: Challenge, Drama, Historical
Rating (this chapter): NC-17 (Not too explicit)
Claim: For my 2017 Bruce/Dick Bingo Card.
Pattern: Row C (Straight/Vertical Line Bingo) (3/3)
Prompt Count: (3/9)
General Summary: When the world around you is going crazy, time to grab the ones you love and hold on tight.
Chapter Summary: In 1968, the future looks grim.
Date Of Completion: March 24, 2017
Date Of Posting: May 12, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count (this chapter): 1650
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
THE SWEET SMELL OF DESPAIR
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he's gone.”
"Abraham, Martin & John"
In the summer of 1968, the cities burned, whether from race or the war, it hardly mattered. They could have been fueled by rage over the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the spring, or Bobby Kennedy two months after that. Maybe some were still incensed by losing Jack Kennedy. Whatever the cause, 1968 was the Year of Madness.
That summer, Arlo Guthrie premiered Alice’s Restaurant at the Newport, Rhode Island Folk Festival, and the next month featured the bizarre show at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Somehow the Democrats managed to nominate Hubert Humphrey for President while cops and protesters battled outside the convention hall in a full-scale war.
Hey, Jude by The Beatles and Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel led the pop charts, while that cake melted in the rain in MacArthur Park and had anybody seen Abraham, Martin & John? Jeannie C. Riley strutted and snarked in Harper Valley, PTA, and the British Invasion had come, conquered, and moved on.
Star Trek grokked Spock, and everyone loved I Dream Of Jeannie. Kelly and Scotty were spying for Uncle Sam in I Spy and Jim and Artie did the same in the 1870s in The Wild Wild West. Rowan And Martin’s Laugh-In changed all the rules.
And Dick Grayson was 21, graduated from Hudson University, and unsure of what his next step would be as summer turned into fall.
Bruce was quietly afraid that he was going to lose Dick forever, that his wanderlust would allow him only trips home for Christmas and the occasional telephone call or letter.
He had realized during Dick’s college years that he loved the young man, and not as a mentor. He wanted him and that scared him. Was something wrong with him? But Dick was grown now.
Yet he’ll never love me that way.
And so Bruce tucked away his desire and did what he did best: denied his feelings.
When Dick called him to meet him in a small town upstate, he agreed. Dick was staying with a friend in Bethel, New York, and his invitation surprised Bruce but he was curious, so set out in his Porsche for the environs of the Empire State.
The ride was pleasant on the New York Thruway as the autumn season was in its full glory. The fields were full of color, especially as he came closer to his destination. It took him nearly all day but as dusk fell he reached the town of Bethel and found the building in which Dick was currently staying. He had seen a quaint inn on his way through town as a possible lodging for the night.
He parked around in the back of the modest two-story building. It was an old Victorian that needed a fresh paint job. He went to the back door and knocked. He looked up as a window sash went up on the second floor. Dick poked his head out.
“Come on in, it’s unlocked.” He closed the window again.
Bruce pushed the door open, not too keen on the lack of security but he closed the door behind him. He was standing in a kitchen with an old Formica table and mismatched chairs. Dishes were drying in a rack on the counter. He found the stairs past a living room with books, clothes, and old take-out cartons and pizza boxes scattered around and went up, each step creaking all the way.
He could smell the distinctive scent of marijuana smoke with some patchouli mixed in. It was dark up here on the second floor. The doors were open but the drapes were drawn in every room: bedrooms, a bathroom, a study. He didn’t see Dick in any of them until he reached the end of the hall. The room on the right smelled heavily of incense.
“Come on in, Bruce.”
Dick sat cross-legged on the bed in the dark room. The black drapes were drawn and the only light came from a glowing lava lamp on the nightstand. Psychedelic posters celebrating The Grateful Dead and Moby Grape hung on the walls and books spilled over a small wooden bookcase.
Dick was wearing bellbottoms and a wildly-colored paisley shirt. His hair was extremely shaggy and uncombed. It was wild like he was, Bruce thought, also noting with some amusement that the brightly-colored ‘mod’ look these days probably gladdened Dick’s heart.
What happened to my neat, disciplined boy?
Bruce mentally shrugged. He could voice his disapproval but the generation gap was a pain-in-the-neck. Better to say nothing.
“Everyone’s out. Peter’s off to a pot party and Rick is gone for the weekend. Just us chickens.”
“Do you mean I’m no longer a spring chicken?”
Dick laughed, relaxing Bruce a little. It sounded like his old self. “Imagine you making jokes! Wow, the world really is crazy.”
Bruce threw a pile of sweaters off a chair located at the foot of the bed and sat down. Dressed in a brown pair of slacks and casual matching jacket, he loosened his yellow turtleneck collar. Brown loafers were comfortable on his feet as he crossed his legs.
Dick leaned back against the headboard. He wiggled his bare toes and smiled saucily. “How do you like the décor?”
“A little clichéd.” He coughed. “And a little heavy on the incense.”
“Sorry, but it chases away the weed smell.”
Bruce cocked his head. “What’s this all about? Why did you want me to drive up here to picturesque Bethel, New York, and comment on your pothead friends’ interior decoration?”
Dick smiled. “Still with the razor-sharp wit. You always kept me on my toes.”
Dick’s smile faded. “Do you remember a conversation we had one night coming home in the Batmobile about the President?”
Bruce frowned. “About LBJ?”
“No, JFK and how anything was possible.”
Bruce remembered. “Yes.”
“My generation…and yours…felt anything was possible.” Dick’s face was shadowed as the lava lamp’s glow illuminated his hair. “The space race, the Peace Corps, civil rights…and then a few months later he was dead, his head blown off in broad daylight on the streets of an American city.” Dick put his hands down. “It all seemed to go to hell after that. Riots, protests, assassinations…my whole generation might never see thirty…the whole world is going crazy around us.”
Bruce listened silently. He agreed with Dick’s assessment. There had been a real national depression after Dallas, and the ‘mod’ scene really began to make headway with the coming of The Beatles to America in February 1964. They were something fun and frothy, and all of a sudden all the teenage boys began growing their hair and the teenage girls screamed for the Brits. It became a real British Invasion as other English bands followed.
“So I figured why not take what we want?”
Bruce’s thoughts had drifted to feeling disturbed by the dark room. Dick belonged in sunshine and a free, open environment, not this dark, closed room.
Suddenly he realized what Dick had just said. “What?”
Dick was crawling toward him on the bed. His eyes gleamed in the dim light cast by the lava lamp and his movements were sinuous, like a panther’s. Bruce had the feeling of being stalked, but he trusted Dick.
“The rules are going out the window, Bruce. Someday we might see great changes, but they’re already beginning. The sexual revolution isn’t just at the barricades, it’s over it.”
Bruce smiled. Dick could always turn a colorful phrase.
The younger man noted Bruce’s amusement. He stayed on all fours and Bruce’s groin tingled. He waited for Dick’s next move.
“Tell me you feel the same way I do,” Dick said softly.
Bruce’s mouth went dry. “What, uh, are you talking about?”
“It’s okay, Bruce. It’s just you and me in this den of debauchery and iniquity. Tell me what you want.”
Bruce felt mild shock at the desire shining in his partner’s eyes. He knew how to see in the dark. Surely he wasn’t imagining it? His stomach knotted and he let his gaze run over Dick’s strong, young, perfect body.
Say what you want. What you’ve wanted to say for years. What he’s already guessed.
The incense was heavy, cloying, dropping over Bruce like a blanket. He almost felt sick with the wanting.
“I want to make love to you,” he rasped.
Joy lit Dick’s heavy-lidded gaze as he smiled.
“Hell in a handbasket, Bruce.”
Bruce reached out and grasped Dick’s broad shoulders.
For the rest of his life, Bruce would remember this night of sex mixed with incense and a glow from that damned lava lamp
Nineteen sixty-eight was crazy. The country was crazy. The world was crazy.
The love they felt was forbidden. They would be despised, considered deviant and sick. The Summer of Love was for heterosexuals only.
Yet he and Dick had beaten the odds time and again on the streets of Gotham. If anyone could love in a crazy world, they could.
The sheets were red silk! It looked like potheads knew how to live. As they slipped and slid over crimson silk, grasping and groaning and loving, Bruce knew he wanted this piece of the world. For once, he didn’t care about Gotham or crime or anything but the man he held in his arms, strong and beautiful beneath him and allowing himself to be stretched and filled and pleasured.
“I love you,” Dick groaned.
“I love you, too.” One final thrust. “The world can fucking go to hell as long as I have you.”
This entry has been cross-posted from Dreamwidth. Comment on either entry as you wish. :)