1692: Love & Bullets – Chapter Four, Part TwoPosted: February 21, 2017
Title: Love & Bullets
URL: Chapter 4 – https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9763472/4/Love-Bullets
Critiqued by BatJamags (BadJamags and GoodJamags)
What do you need us for? count: 4
Hello once again, patrons! I’m your guest host, BadJamags…
GoodJamags: … And I’m your guest guest host, GoodJamags…
… And we’re back with more of Love & Bullets.
GoodJamags: Last time, Dick spent half the chapter babbling about how awesome the Sue is.
This time, though, we’re in for a treat. I’d like to make it clear that I haven’t snipped anything (Ever, actually – you’ve sat through every word of both fics I’ve riffed so far. Lucky you.), here. The fic just jumps straight from Dick’s waxing suefluenced to having an actual scene.
“Dick,” I hear Barbara huff. “Have you been listening to a word that I have said?”
GAH! SDQF incursion!
GoodJamags: I’ve never really heard Barbara called Barb (she’s called Babs every now and then, but mostly just Barbara). Nothing wrong with it, it’s just a little odd.
I reply in a distracted murmur. “No, I haven’t been.” I shoot a glance at her, can tell by the slight narrowing of her eyes that she’s more than a little annoyed with me at the moment. I feel my face scrunch up in a grimace and rub the back of my neck with my hand before I mutter, “Sorry, what were you saying?”
Wow, Dick is a dick.
I see her roll her eyes and hear her muttering something I’m sure isn’t very nice. I kinda deserve it. I mean Babs has been fantastic this past week, keeping me entertained while I’m stuck in bed with this bum knee and all.
GoodJamags: Especially since she’s really got better things to do.
But she’s not the woman I want here with me right now.
Well, aren’t we bratty?
No, the woman I want curled up beside me is downstairs, having tea with Alfred while venting about how I just had to go and ask her the one question she doesn’t have a ready answer for. I know my woman as well as I know the back of my hand for the record. I know that this is what is going on.
GoodJamags: Please say something we don’t already know.
“I said that you should take back your proposal while you still can, Winged Wonder,” Barb says dryly.
You tell him, Barbara!
I can feel my temper begin to simmer on low at hearing her say that. “And just why should I take back my proposal?”
GoodJamags: Because not only have you been hooked by a Sue, you’ve been hooked by a Sue who doesn’t want to get hitched. You should take this opportunity to escape!
Not that Barb is intimidated by it. No, she just does what Raya tends to do whenever I growl at her. She just sniffs at me and gives me this look that says she finds me absolutely adorable because I’m acting all manly. I’m not amused, so you know.
“Look,” Barb says smartly. “We both know that you don’t really mean to marry Raya. You just blurted the question out in the heat of the moment. So take it back before you find yourself in a situation that is harder to extract yourself from.”
GoodJamags: As much as we give Raya crap for being a Sue (and she deserves it), the ladies in this fic really do seem to have more sense than the gentlemen.
What do you need us for? count: 5
“I do mean to marry Raya,” I say in a low, warning tone.
Damn, I think he’s beyond help.
Her eyes flash with something-vexation, sorrow, regret, I’m not entirely sure which. Then she says in a quiet voice, “Dick, you promised once that you’d return to me when you were ready to get married.”
And in other news? Dick is still a dick. Should we make that a counter?
GoodJamags: Might as well. Pretty sure we’ve said that four times.
Dick is a dick count: 4
Ouch, is all I can think at the moment. It’s not that I forgot about that promise, mind you. It’s just that Barbara and I have become much different people since then. So much has happened since I asked her to marry me, nothing more traumatic than the entire debacle that was the Final Crisis.
*Snerk* I’m pretty sure they didn’t call it that in universe. They had no way of knowing it was final. That would be like calling World War I the “War to End All Wars” or something.
GoodJamags: Yeah, how dumb would that be?
I reach over and set a hand atop hers. “I know that I promised you that. And I meant it at the time. But Barb,” I say as gently as I can. “We are not the people we were back then. Who we are now is not who the other needs us to be. Not anymore.”
GoodJamags: The narration literally just said that.
She draws in a breath, holds it a second before releasing it slowly. “I know we aren’t the same people,” she says. “But…” she pauses. “She’s not who you need, either.”
Damn. Barbara’s good at breaking Suefluence. We should send her into more Sue-fics.
GoodJamags: Nah, I wouldn’t inflict that on anybody.
What do you need us for? count: 6
“Barb…” I say slowly but she cuts me off.
GoodJamags: Seriously, though, this is the best scene so far.
“Dick, you need someone who is going to be there for you through the thick and the thin. You need someone who is going to stand by you no matter what. And that?” She shakes her head. “That’s just not Raya.”
*Pulls popcorn out of SDQF*
Now this is an entertaining fanfic.
What do you need us for? count: 7
“Say wha?” is about all I can manage to say after hearing that.
GoodJamags: *Snerk* Best reaction ever.
Does this woman not know about whom she’s talking? Loyalty is a trait I have never had to question with Raya. It is more like a religion with her.
Yeah, you said that way back in the first chapter, and it didn’t make sense then, either.
It’s one that has frequently gotten her into trouble with me, Tim, Damian, Jason, Gordon, Bruce, Clark, and Conner.
GoodJamags: Stop listing names. Who’s Conner, anyway? I’m guessing that’s Superboy, but I can’t tell for certain.
“Raya tends to run away whenever things get too difficult,” Barb tells me quietly. “Like when she ran away after her father shot you. And like when she ran away after Conner got killed. And after Bruce was pulled into the…”
This lines up with what we’ve seen previously: one hard question and she nopes the fuck out. Slap another count on there.
What do you need us for? count: 8
“One,” I cut in. “Gordon and I helped her run away because we knew she’d die otherwise.
GoodJamags: This would be meaningful to me if we’d been shown this incident.
Two, she was there for Tim after Conner died, knowing he was in a very bad place and needed her to be there to catch him as he crashed.
Alright, then what the hell was Barbara talking about? SHOW US SHIT!
And lastly, she partnered with him, with my support for the record, after what happened with Bruce to make sure someone was there to keep an eye upon him.”
GoodJamags: And I have no idea what they’re talking about on this last point, so I can’t really say anything about it.
“She still wasn’t there for you,” she insisted stubbornly. “She was there for everybody but you, Dick.”
I’m just going to assume Barbara’s right and let this conversation play out.
“Wasn’t there for me?” I bark a laugh. “Don’t you remember the small memorial service we held for Bruce?”
GoodJamags: That’s an awkward way to phrase a thing. Must have to do with the fact that he’s barking.
“-is when I needed the woman the most,” I state firmly before I launch into storyteller mode.
Now if only the author could do the same.
Fic, we’ve been over this. It’s stately Wayne Manor.
Three years ago...
GoodJamags: Y’know, three years before the time when stuff happened.
Stuff happened? In this fic?
He turned his head, watching as Raya crossed the lawn towards him.
Dick: Get back, Sue! You won’t corrupt me with your Suefluence!
“Hi,” she said as she came to a stop in front of him. “Ya looked like ya were lonely. So I thought I’d come out here and keep ya company.”
Author, it’s OK to use the word “you” in dialogue. Really, it is. SO STOP FUCKING USING “YA!”
He wasn’t fooled by her ruse for one minute. He knew why Raya was there, and he was ridiculously happy she was.
Oh, so it’s that kind of visit.
“You do realize you’re out here in your bare feet, right?” he said with a grin that he knew was more grimace than actual smile. “And that your dress is getting mud all over it.”
GoodJamags: So she’s wearing a dress, but no shoes. So where was she before this that she was in formal wear, but barefoot?
Y’know, that place. Over there.
“Yup,” she confirmed with a slight nod of her head. “I know.”
Ah, for a moment I thought “yup” meant that she didn’t know, since that’s how the English language works.
GoodJamags: Sarcasm, right?
But seriously, we’ve got the “yup,” the “she confirmed,” the nodding, and the “I know.” That’s like, double-redundant.
*Headshotted in the head with a headshot to the head*
And ya don’t care, do ya, Rae? he silently asked. You just know I’m hurting and will risk pneumonia to ensure I’m okay.
GoodJamags: I think you missed a “you” there, author. You’re story’s not nearly grating enough to read unless you replace literally every instance of the word “you” with “ya.”
“And ya realize that it’s raining bats and birds and that you’ve forgot to put on a jacket like usual?”
“Raining bats and birds?” Who says that?! I know, I know, it’s a Batman and Robin joke, but it’s still stupid.
“I’ll dry,” she said with a slight shifting of her shoulders. “I can buy a new dress if I want one. And colds don’t last forever.” She stepped closer and laid her hand upon his chest. “All that matters right now is that you need me.”
Sue: And that you’re also standing out here in the rain like an idiot. Come back inside, asshole!
Ridiculously loyal and stubborn ass woman, Dick thought, and then he sighed.
As the author neglected to include the hyphen, I will insert one for her!
Ridiculously loyal and stubborn ass-woman, Dick thought, and then he sighed.
It was both of those things which made him love and respect her for the woman that she was. With Raya, he never had to question whether or not she’d have his back, or be there when he needed her the most. With her, loyalty was more like a religion. She was even more fanatical about it than Bruce was.
STOP EXPLAINING THAT!
GoodJamags: Could you have found a more boring and repetitive fic?
Probably. You want me to go looking?
GoodJamags: I’m good.
Still, she was only wearing one of those long, thin dresses, the kind that didn’t offer much in the way of protection from the rain. She was going to catch cold if he didn’t get her to go back inside. He shrugged out of his jacket and wrapped it around her before settling his hands upon her shoulders.
GoodJamags: So was he in such desperate need of a heart-to-heart that she couldn’t have thrown on boots and a jacket before going out to talk to him?
“I’m fine, Rae,” he spoke the lie even knowing she’d see right through it. “So go on back into the house.”
I’m so fine that I’m standing out in the pneumonia-inducingly cold rain.
“Liar,” she predictably replied. It wasn’t said cruelly, or in an arrogant sort of way. That wasn’t Raya’s style and he knew her better than that.
“Rae…” he pleaded.
“Dick,” she interjected. “We both know you’re not fine.” That hand slid from his chest to his cheek. “None of us are fine. Not right now. How can we be?”
Sue: *Gesturing to other bat-family members* We’re all standing out in the rain for no reason!
She was right. He knew she was right. None of them were all right. He wasn’t sure they were ever going to be all right. The greatest thing he’d feared since childhood had come true.
I know the spelling of “alright” as “all right” is a minor thing, but it bugs me. It’s like the author knows (for the most part) how grammar works, but has never seen words written before.
“I…I was not ready to lose him, Rae.”
GoodJamags: So it’s “was not” instead of “wasn’t” but the author won’t put the word “you” in dialogue. Makes sense to me.
The words tumbled from his mouth before he could stop them. He wanted to call them back, to undo the moment, but he knew he couldn’t. The damage was done. His shameful secret was out.
And… what’s so shameful about it? This is a recurring problem with this fic: normal reactions to things being treated like BIG SECRETS or HUGE REVELATIONS. It’s all very melodramatic.
But then her arms wound around him, much like the ivy which he’d used to climb in order to reach her bedroom window, and held him tight.
“I know, baby,” she crooned in his ear. “I know. Now, just hold onto me, okay?”
Would you stop that?!
“No,” he said, even as his arms slid around her waist and pulled her against him. “I need to be…”
“You let me be the strong one this time.” She rubbed his back in slow, soothing circles. “You let me be the rock that this storm hammers. I’ll weather it for the both of us.”
“Yes,” she refuted in a firm voice. “I can.” She tilted her head back to look at him with eyes red rimmed from her own tears. “You’re not alone, Richard Grayson. I’m here, and I’ll help you with taking care of our family.”
Blah blah, Raya Sue is SO STRONG. Can we skip to the part where she runs away? I want Barbara to be right.
Our family she said. Yeah, he realized as he stared down in those fathomless eyes.
GoodJamags: Fathomless? You mean he can’t measure her eyes?
They are her family as much as they are mine. Theirs was a unique and unusual little family that was bonded together by one common factor: Bruce.
GoodJamags: You mean the shark from Jaws? It’s a good movie, but it’s not that good.
It was that which broke open the lock he’d used to chain his emotions with. He felt the rip in his soul, the burn of the pain and dug his fingers into the folds of her dress in order to ground himself as the storm unleashed its full fury upon him. Raya didn’t protest when his knees buckled beneath the onslaught and he pulled her down to the ground with him. She just sat there in the middle of the wet grass with him, her arms banded around him, crooning nonsensical words as they grieved for the man, the mentor, the partner, the father they’d lost.
Ow, the purple.
GoodJamags: Don’t be sad, BJ! Here, have a line break to cheer you up!
I look at Barbara. “That woman has been there through everything that has ever happened, Barb.”
GoodJamags: That’s quite an impressive resume.
And also complete bullshit, but I digress.
I push myself up higher in the bed and adjust the ice pack that my minx brought up with lunch. “She’ll always be there when I need her. That’s the kind of woman that she is.”
Then what the hell was Barbara talking about earlier? She kinda vaguely referenced stuff, but Dick’s point, which has been made way too many damn times already, is the one that gets a long-ass flashback.
“She wasn’t there when you were recuperating from either the gunshot wound you got from Berkeley or the Joker,” Barb points out. “Nor was she there when you got radiation poisoning, or after Superboy Prime nearly killed you in Alexander Luthor’s Tower.”
GoodJamags: In fact, she wasn’t there for him ever in canon, and Dick got along just fine.
I’m silent for a number of moments. That Raya has never told Barbara about going undercover for the Justice League and working from within Luthor’s organization doesn’t surprise me. She’d keep those things to herself; feeling that it isn’t crucial for everybody to know just what role she played in those particular events. I’m not bound by that idiotology. I’m damn proud of that woman for what she did, how she comported herself and aided her team in bringing down Luthor.
Book Specs, if you keep throwing bricks…
It’ll make this story a hell of a lot more interesting, so I won’t complain.
That’s why I say, “she was there, Barb. When and however she could be. She just wasn’t at my side physically because it would have compromised her cover at the time.”
I can see the surprise flicker across Barbara’s face; through her eyes. “What?” she asks. “Her cover? I thought Raya was away at school?”
GoodJamags: This would be interesting if it were actually a reveal and not just another incoming mountain of pointless exposition.
“That’s what she was instructed to tell you and anybody not in the know.” I draw in a breath, release it slowly. “The truth is that Raya was the only agent that Bruce had at the time that nobody could automatically link back to him. She hadn’t been operating as the Fenix long enough for them to make the connection that she was either one of Batman’s protégés or mine. So he sent her undercover, had her infiltrate Luthor’s organization and pass information back to the League. She was there during mine and Conner’s confrontation with Superboy Prime; she’s who alerted the Justice Society to what was going on. She got me out of there, Barbara. At great risk to her own self.” I pause to take a breath, allowing my words to sink in before I ask, “Why are you bringing this all up anyway, Barb?”
Barbara: To save you from the Sue!
“Because someone needs to bring this up, Dick,” she says gently. “Someone needs to point out to you how Raya is…” she pauses to release a soft sigh. “Well, she’s dangerous. Her father, Crane, Joker… she’s got more bull’s-eyes on her than even Bruce does.”
It would be nice if the fic explained what its cryptic turns of phrase mean.
“And?” I grit.
GoodJamags: That’s not a speaking verb.
“And she’s going to get you killed because of the villains she tends to attract,” she states. “That’s why you should retract your proposal.”
Bullshit. Sorry, Barbara, I was tracking with you for a while, but everyone in the bat-family attracts crazy assholes.
“Absolutely not,” I snap at her. “None of the things you have said are even remotely a good enough reason for why I should retract my proposal.”
GoodJamags: Most of them are, actually.
“Then how about she’s not good enough for you, Dick?”
Ooh. Now we’re getting right to the point.
What do you need us for? count: 9
Temper lances through me, hot and brutal. That Barbara can speak about her own cousin like this has me wanting to spit nails. I’m about to rip into her for every negative thing she’s just said…
GoodJamags: … Because you’re really under the Suefluence…
…when I realize that that is exactly what she wants me to do. It was all a test to see whether or not I was committed to my proposal.
Huh? That doesn’t make any sense. His defending Raya Sue would mean he was committed, right?
No, Raya isn’t the only sneaky Kean woman.
GoodJamags: No idea where the “Kean” name comes from, to be honest.
Barb is just as devious as her cousin. I look at her, about to acknowledge her little ploy when I hear a soft cry come from the doorway.
CONTRIVED DRAMA! This is why I hate a lot of romance stories. They always pull shit like this, and everyone knows it’s a complete cop-out to delay the two leads getting together, but it’s always played like it’s this huge deal.
I glance at the door in time to see Raya whipping around and preparing to take flight.
Don’t use the Superman clip again.
Shit, she must have heard what Barb said.
Oh, Barbara is clever. She knew Raya Sue was listening!
And I know that those particular words are the ones that completely tear my woman to shreds. Why? Because Raya’s greatest struggle is with being valued, with being considered good enough. Being told she somehow does not measure up is something she has struggled with from the moment I met her.
Oh, so if I say that she’s not a good enough character to be in the bat-family-
GoodJamags: My ears just died.
“Raya!” I yell as I try to uncoil myself from the bed in order to stop her.
Dick: Raya Sue, please! It’s just contrived drama!
But she’s already gone, racing down the hall as if the hounds of Hell are after her…
GoodJamags: Plot twist: they are.
Are you fucking insane? If you do that, next thing you know, the story might even be interesting!
… and I can only watch, hoping that she is only running to her room and not straight out of my life.
While the audience hopes the opposite.
GoodJamags: And that’s the end of the chapter. See you all next time!
What do you need us for? count: 9
Dick is a dick count: 4