1681: Love & Bullets – Chapter Four, Part OnePosted: February 8, 2017
Title: Love & Bullets
URL: Chapter 4
Critiqued by BatJamags (BadJamags and GoodJamags)
What do you need us for? count: 4
Hello once again, patrons! I’m your guest host, Ba(t/d)Jamags…
GoodJamags: And I’m your guest guest host, GoodJamags…
And we’re here with more of Love & Bullets, the fic in which we’ve seen almost as much of the bullets as we have of the love.
GoodJamags: Which is to say: nothing. Speaking of which, that’s what happened last chapter. We had a meandering flashback, the Sue’s fourteen-year-old self was afraid of heights, and some vague stuff happened in her Generic Backstory.
She’s got one dead parent, one abusive one, and what actually happened that made her so insecure about getting hitched to Dick is still a MYSTURI, so that means she’s got a perfect storm of the first three varieties of Generic Backstory.
GoodJamags: Let’s see what we’ve got in store for us:
A/N: Hello m’dears! I hope the week has been good to you!
Please, if you like this story, click the follow button. Also, reviews are deeply cherished!
GoodJamags: I mean other than the generic author’s note that gets copy-pasted to top of every chapter.
S/N: Just a quick note… I realize that I am playing a bit loose with certain canonical events (the Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, etc.). This is an Alternate Universe take upon those events, so I figure it’s okay if I tweak them just a tad.
Given how… dense DC continuity is, I don’t actually blame MissScorp for AU-ing it up a little. When writing superhero (DC or Marvel) fics, it’s generally easiest to either use an adaptation’s continuity, or make your own version that kind of resembles canon, but allows for you to tell your own stories.
GoodJamags: On the other hand, making an AU that exists solely for the purpose of accommodating a single OC’s romance with a canon character is less of a good idea.
The little minx is totally avoiding me.
How do I know?
GoodJamags: Because she’s been avoiding you?
Well, it’s been seven days since I popped the question to the little she-devil, and five since we returned home to Gotham so I could recuperate under Alfred’s discerning eye. I have (as of last tally) spent a grand total of forty-nine minutes and ten seconds alone with the woman.
GoodJamags: I find it somewhat concerning that you counted the seconds.
And before you ask, no, this is not normal for us. Even when Raya and I are apart, we are still together. Smartphones and tablets are a godsend in our line of work, lemme tell ya.
Generally the Bat-family seems to talk to each other through some kind of vaguely-defined communicators. Whatever it is, it’s something that’s not as easy to trace as an iPhone.
The fact that she’s staying in the same house as me and completely avoiding being anywhere near me can only mean one thing: she’s scared absolutely senseless.
GoodJamags: Consider, for a moment, that she’s clearly very disturbed by the prospect of marrying you. Don’t you think there might be a reason for that?
I know, I know, that sounds mean as hell. It’s not that I’m being callous here. It’s that I know her. When she gets this twisted up and cannot talk with either me or Jim Gordon about what’s bothering her, she goes to one other person for advice and words of wisdom: Alfred. So I know that since she’s not talking to me, and won’t talk with Gordon about this, that she’ll be going to see Alfie very soon.
We established this last chapter. Get to a point.
For the record, Alfred Pennyworth is the closest thing either of us has to a mom since our dad is yanno, Batman, and has about as many problems with interpersonal relationships as my woman does.
GoodJamags: Y’know, we use the phrase “y’know” a lot, but at least that’s a legitimate way to shorten “you know.” “Yanno” sounds like some kind of alien from Star Wars. Like, I expect someone to walk out and be all, “I’m Jedi Master Yanno Vaz, may the Force be with you and stuff.”
That’s clearly how Jedi talk.
Alfred is the one that we all (including Bruce) tend to go to when we need words of comfort and wisdom. The man is a veritable fountain of information that is just waiting to be shared. Plus, he makes a mean cup of tea (either green or chamomile for me, thank you).
We don’t need to know what kind of tea every character drinks.
GoodJamags: Chai latte, with whipped cream in it when I’m feeling extravagant.
And isn’t it a little sexist to assume that just because Alfred’s more emotionally understanding than Bruce, that makes him the mom? My mom’s kind of a taskmaster (Taskmistress? I guess that is a word. So sayeth spellcheck.) and I often find it easier to talk to my dad. Granted, my dad’s also pretty hardcore about getting work done, and my mom’s also pretty easy to talk to most of the time, but what I’m saying is that moms aren’t necessarily the soft emotional ones.
*Sigh* Yes, yes, Taskmaster is the name of a Marvel character. You’re hilarious.
GoodJamags: Thank you for noticing.
Once Alfred soothes Raya’s fears, she’ll come to see me. And we’ll talk all this out and reach a resolution of some sort.
Let me guess: we’re going to waste our time with some flashbacks, and then exactly the thing he just said here will happen.
If there’s one thing I can count on with her, it’s that she cannot leave a situation like this between us. It’s not our way to avoid talking about something that the other has said or done and which is bothering us. We don’t leave problems unresolved. We decided a long time ago that we’d never go to bed angry. We either work out the problem before going to sleep, or we separate until we can reach a compromise that gives us both what we want and need.
GoodJamags: That’s… actually pretty mature and logical. *Reaches for redemption cookie*
Not so fast. Not every problem can be resolved by just kind of talking it out before bed, and sometimes people don’t behave rationally, and need time to cool down. People just aren’t this reasonable, even if they want to be, as this entire situation demonstrates.
Am I surprised she’s avoiding talking with me? Not really. I have put her on the spot here. I have asked her the question-the one question, in fact, that she is going to struggle with figuring out how to answer.
“No” isn’t a dirty word, and it doesn’t mean you can’t say “yes” later if you change your mind.
Just saying yes is a foreign concept to Raya. Dammit, that night was totally not a shining example of why I am known as the man with the glib tongue.
GoodJamags: I don’t think you’re known as that, man.
IF I’d fed her a line she’d have shot me down faster than either Superman or Flash can circle the world.
Yes, I’m aware you know the canon. Stop namedropping.
I know I completely mishandled my proposal. And yes, if I could go back in time and do the proposal over, I so totally would. Raya might not think it, and believe me, the little pessimist doesn’t, but she so deserves the entire fairytale proposal that most girls tend to fantasize over.
She deserves me going all out with my proposal. She deserves the candlelight dinner for two, the soft music, the dozen long stemmed red roses and me down on one knee and professing my undying love to her before I ask her to be my wife.
GoodJamags: She deserves to get out of this canon.
And she totally deserved to have a freaking ring slid on her finger the moment I slung “will you marry me?” at her.
But instead you blurted it out because you have a concussion.
I swear on my folks’ graves that I am gonna make up for my mouth’s big hey–lets-go-and-pop-the-question–to-the-girl-of-our-dreams–in-a-dark-and-dirty-Chicago-alley
And I’m still waiting to find out what the hell you were doing in Chicago!
GoodJamags: Having a really drawn-out conversation, but that’s not important right now.
blunder just as soon as I can get the woman to stay in a room with me for more than two or three minutes at a time. Just like Raya, I have issues with commitment. And just like her, my issues stem from past traumas and mistakes that have made me gun shy about forging a committed relationship with any woman.
GoodJamags: Alright, what about your past is making you like that? The author is being very vague about why these two can’t get together (aside from Raya being a two-dimensional Sue).
I’m not afraid of committing myself to her.
You just said you were afraid of committing yourself to any woman!
I’ve been committed to her since we became friends nineteen years ago.
GoodJamags: When are we?!
And I mean to marry the little hellcat just as soon as I can get her to see how marriage is the next logical step for us to take in our relationship.
You’ve established that already.
It’s the only step (besides parenthood) that is left for us to take.
GoodJamags: You’ve established that, too.
I really hope this story doesn’t give us eight more chapters of this kind of bullshitting around.
[Editor’s note from THE FUTURE – it doesn’t. They get together in Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 is a pointless epilogue, which is admittedly made up of similar bullshitting around. Just thought I’d warn you.]
I mean it when I say that I don’t wanna date Raya. I have been dating her off and on for the last twelve years. Yes, it was an unconventional type of dating practice. And yes I know that some people are gonna say that we’ve missed out on the more fun points of dating by engaging in such an unusual method. Honestly, though? What did we really miss out on? Holding hands? Going to a movie and doing anything but watch it? Cuddling on the couch? Candlelight dinners for two? Midnight walks on the beach? Romantic weekend getaways? Going out dancing? Watching the sun come up after spending the night together? The just because I missed you phone calls or text messages?
We have done all of those things and then some.
THEN WHAT’S SO DAMNED UNUSUAL ABOUT IT?!
We did them back when our relationship was something that was uncomplicated and comfortable. By just being us we could partake in these kinda date-like events without the worry or demands that other couples tend to experience. We didn’t have the additional pressure of having to live up to certain expectations. We didn’t have to apologize for not being able to go out on that date one of us painstakingly planned all week. Nor did we have to make up some excuse in general for why we had to cancel a date at the last second.
We didn’t have to lie about our masked lives.
GoodJamags: And the reason you didn’t have to do that stuff? Hmm… Here, let me show you a flowchart:
Yeah, that about sums it up.
Our masked lives were part of our private lives.
Whatever that means.
We learned at a young age that dates could be spent either at home (and we both prefer at home for the privacy and comfort that it affords us), or while we were out on patrol (yup, hunting up the scum we tend to attract is our definition of quality time with your significant other).
GoodJamags: We really don’t need all this information, especially not told to us in these giant walls of exposition. Y’know, told, as opposed to that other weird thing.
In short, we figured out how to build a compromise between our public and private lives and make our relationship work because of it.
Can this thing stop being so fucking boring?
Raya doesn’t get upset with my tendency to be a workaholic. No, she tends to make fun of me for it and frequently goes out of her way to distract me (much to my “displeasure” at times).
GoodJamags: Well that’s kind of a jerky thing to do.
Nor does she get pissed off when I spend the entire time we are watching a movie analyzing the details and pointing out the flaws in the logic of particular characters.
Wow, what a nerd.
GoodJamags: I mean, who would do something like that?
That’s a stupid thing to do!
GoodJamags: Geez, what kind of uptight moron is this guy?
No, that bratty woman tends to merely laugh and poke fun at me by saying I’m “acting just like Bruce” (I’m so not, by the way). Raya has always just understood that this is who I am. And she’s always accepted me for who I am. Same as I do her.
GoodJamags: When was the last time the story told us some new information?
I don’t know anymore, GJ. I just don’t know.
Now things are gonna get uncomfortable and complicated between us. Now we are going to have to work even harder to make the easy relationship we’ve been having, continue to work. Why? you ask.
I didn’t ask, so please don’t tell me.
Well, we are going to be taking our relationship to a place neither of us has ever been, that we cannot predict and which we have absolutely no control over. We are both stepping into an arena where we are going to have to adjust to the fact that not only is the other our partner in crime fighting, but they are our partner in life as well.
GoodJamags: Because it’s not like you’ve already (supposedly) spent your whole lives together. Oh, wait.
I admit that your wife being hunted by Crane or Joker is a lot different from them going after your girlfriend.
I mean, if your girlfriend has been your girlfriend for twenty years and you’ve been living with each other and dedicated to each other that entire time, then no, no it isn’t.
Yes, I know things are gonna get a little hinky from time to time. Marriage is an intricate and extremely complicated affair. And yes, I know we are going to have to figure out how to trust the other to come home safe from patrols (I wonder if Bruce will agree to put Damian as her perma-partner…)
GoodJamags: I still fail to see how marriage would actually change the dynamic of this particular relationship. It’s a big step for some people, but it really wouldn’t be the case for these two.
Here, let me explain how it works:
I also know that so long as Raya and I weather whatever storms erupt together that we’ll be just fine. And how do I know that, you ask? Because we weathered the worst storm when we thought Bruce died at Darkseid’s hands. And we not only survived that onslaught, but we are still together because of what we learned from the experience. And we’re both stronger, and better because of that experience (even though it is a lingering fear inside both our minds about how the next time that Batman finds himself staring at the Grim a Reaper could actually be the last time).
Losing a loved one hurts, but the pain fades. It’s not some great test of endurance. If anything, it’s more painful because there’s really no way to take action to get through it. It’s not weathering a storm, it’s finding shelter and waiting for it to pass.
GoodJamags: And just what is the “Grim a Reaper?”
It’s a giant purple robo-squid from outer space.
Oh, just so you know? I’d so totally say all of this to that stubborn, emotionally damaged, angst driven, far too intelligent and cynical little pessimist…
But you’d certainly be strangled by a pair of angry riffers who want you to stop rambling about the same shit over and over.
… if she’d stay put long enough for me to tell her all these things.
GoodJamags: Or that. That works too.
Alright, I know it’s a short riff, but the chapter’s a bit too long to cover in one go, so I’m gonna cut it off here.
GoodJamags: Aw, but we were just getting to the good part!
Surprisingly, I agree with him. But you’ll have to find out what the good part is next time.
GoodJamags: Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!
What do you need us for? count: 4