1750: Love & Bullets – Chapter Eight, Part TwoPosted: May 2, 2017
Title: Love & Bullets
URL: Chapter 8
Critiqued by BatJamags (BadJamags and GoodJamags)
What do you need us for? count: 10
Dick is a dick count: 7
Bullet count: 0
Hello, once again, patrons! I’m your guest host, BadJamags…
GoodJamags: … And I’m your guest guest host, GoodJamags…
… And we’re back for more of Love & Bullets.
He lowered his head, brushed his lips across hers. It was just a bare meeting of flesh, but it was enough to make her melt against him.
“I wanted to spend your birthday with you.” His mouth smiled easily, sensually. “Alone.”
*Checks watch* You missed most of it.
“Oh, well, in that case…” her lips curved. “What should I do first?”
GoodJamags: That’s kind of an odd segue, isn’t it?
“Make a wish,” Dick teased, “and blow out the candle before it melts onto your cupcake.”
Come on, man, you just used that clip. I can still see it on the page.
It had been a long time since she, much less anyone in this family had had a reason to make something so simple as a wish.
GoodJamags: I find that hard to believe. Wishes are pretty simple, really.
Yeah! Like “I wish my pain-in-the-ass alternate universe counterpart would leave me alone,” or “I wish MissScorp would write something interesting.” I make those kinds of wishes all the time, not that they ever really come true.
The last nine months had been anything but idyllic for them.
*Thesaurus Protective Services agents throw paperwork at BadJamags and GoodJamags*
Losing Bruce was not something any of them had anticipated happening.
GoodJamags: Funny, too, because I seem to recall Bruce himself having contingencies for that sort of thing. At the very least he fully anticipated dying on the job.
Grieving was an expected, obligatory and human reaction to the blow they’d been dealt. Slowly, they’d recovered. And slowly, they’d started building a life out of the ashes that was their former one.
Look, Bruce is very important to the extended bat-family, and losing him was painful for them, but most of them could probably move on after a while.
It was exactly what Bruce had instructed them to do in his final words to them.
GoodJamags: Presumably in less purple terminology.
Of course, they’d not anticipated that Tim would end up being correct about Bruce being alive, just trapped in a time loop. The wait for word, for sign, for a clue of his whereabouts was almost more terrible than the grief had been. For months now they’d existed upon the small nibblets of information that they managed to find and which told them their parent was on his way home to them.
*Snerk* “Nibblets?” That’s not a word. And you’ve made your point. Losing Bruce was sad. Move along, please.
Bruce returning home was the first of her birthday wishes.
However, there was one other thing that she did want.
GoodJamags: He said a wish. Not two wishes. You’re breaking the rules! Birthday cakes give you one wish, and genies give you three. Period.
Unless you wish for more wishes.
GoodJamags: Well, fair enough.
Something that was so sweet and sappy and so ridiculously feminine
“Feminine?” Oh, this is going to be stupid, isn’t it?
GoodJamags: What do you think?
that she knew it’d never come true. Not in a million years. But she wished for it anyway since it was her birthday and it was her birthday wish and those sorts of things could be silly. She closed her eyes, silently made the wish, and then blew her breath over the candle.
GoodJamags: So, she just dropped the whole Bruce thing? That’s kind of… selfish.
And it also means that long rambling chunk of exposition was once again wasting our time. Goddammit.
“So, whatcha wish for?” he asked as he plucked the smoking candle and dropped it into a waiting cup of water.
GoodJamags: Now, Richard Grayson. You know the rules about birthday wishes.
“Now, Richard Grayson,” she spoke the reprimand in a mockingly serious tone. “You know the rules about birthday wishes.”
GoodJamags: It’s still annoying how often I agree with the Sue.
“Aw, c’mon, Rae,” he whined. “Whatcha wish for?”
To get hitched to her host organism. She’s a Sue, remember?
“Nah-uh,” she said. “I’m not telling.”
GoodJamags: And you shouldn’t! No getting the wishing wrong!
There was no way in hell she was going to tell him about what she’d wished for. No sirree Bob.
So, how many paragraphs until she tells him?
GoodJamags: I’m betting three.
GoodJamags: Wow, that’s the best you can come up with to get someone to do something? No bribes, loopholes, or unnecessarily complicated manipulation? I’m disappointed.
She smiled, picking up the small box and giving it a slight shake. “Ya know that ya can’t tell anyone what ya wished for or else the wish won’t come true, bird boy.”
“Oh, fine,” he huffed as he folded his arms across his chest. “Be that way. And here I went outta my way to do something nice for you, too.”
Three. You lose on two levels: it’s been three paragraphs, and Dick gave up.
Raya flashed him a saucy grin.
GoodJamags: What kind of sauce? Is it barbecue sauce? I hope it’s barbecue sauce.
“I promise that I will repay your generosity right after I open my present.”
Alright, any bets on what the present is?
GoodJamags: Something boring?
She watched his eyes become just a slight bit unfocused. Blindsiding him with statements like that has turned out to be a lot more fun than Dinah said it’d be.
GoodJamags: I’m really not sure what’s so blindsiding about that statement. Dinah (long story, and I don’t feel like doing another introduction, but she’s talking about Black Canary), you fail at teaching banter.
She hid a smile as she opened the small box. Inside were earrings, a dangle of silver robins against a backdrop of tiny orbs of aquamarine.
And we have a winner! GoodJamags, please collect your prize.
GoodJamags: *Pulls a McDonald’s gift card out of the SDQF* This is the best you’ve got?
It’s the best I’m giving you, at least.
“Oh, Dick,” she breathed out on a reverent sound. “They’re beautiful.” She held them up to the light before she kissed him, one, quick smacking kiss on the lips.
GoodJamags: Wait, is it kissing or smacking that’s happening now?
I hope it’s smacking. They both have it coming at this point.
“Thank you so much…”
So much that what? What is happening because of the thanking levels? The ellipsis is leaving me in suspense! I need to know!
“I knew you’d love them when I saw them in the display case.”
Dick: … So I stole them.
“I do love them,” she admitted. “And I love you for thinking enough of me to give them to me.”
GoodJamags: I hope we don’t have to sit through more of this “unworthy” wangst.
“Hurry up and put them on,” he teased. “I wanna see how you look in them.” He waggled his eyebrows playfully. “And only them.”
Bow chicka bow wow.
GoodJamags: It doesn’t count when that’s what the author meant to imply.
Yeah, I know. I’m just trying to think of more entertaining stories.
She made quick work of slipping the earrings on.
GoodJamags: Pretty sure earrings don’t slip; they hook.
GoodJamags: What’s with you?
I love semicolons; they’re awesome.
GoodJamags: And he calls me a nerd.
“How do they look?” She turned her head from side to side, thrilling at the tiny musical sound the earrings made whenever she moved.
They’re… music earrings? Bullshit. Somebody take the Sue-toys away.
GoodJamags: … ly ugly-looking. Seriously, the design of them just sounds unnecessarily complicated.
His tone reminded her of crushed velvet. It skittered along her senses, electrifying them.
None of that means anything. Stop purpling at us and advance the plot.
When his fingers slid to the back of her neck, she tilted her head, wetting her lips in anticipation of his kiss. However, he smiled down into her upturned face rather than kiss her. She pouted prettily. He grinned, but didn’t oblige her. She gave up with a sigh.
And now we’re back, with another poll of our resident riffing staff. Tell me: do you care about anything going on here?
SUPERCILIOUS THE SORCERER!: WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED WITH SUCH AFFAIRS?
Chief McCarthy: I don’t pay any attention to this kind of communist propaganda!
Large Warship the Owl: Hoo.
Duke Alexander: Not especially, no.
Whirlybat von Flubbertybubble: [y/n] told BatJamags that he/she/they/it didn’t care.
Well, there you have it, folks. No one cares.
“Killing the mood, Grayson,” she huffed.
GoodJamags: Mood? What mood? All I see is uninspired romance.
“I love you, Raya.”
No shit. You’ve been telling us that since the beginning of this pile of ass, and somehow, I still don’t believe it, to be honest.
She rolled her eyes. “I lo-“
GoodJamags: Revenge of the twelve-year-old adults!
That was as far as she got before his lips silenced her. “Shh,” he whispered against her lips. “I got something I wanna say.”
Dick: I found it lying along the side of the road.
“Okay,” she whispered back. “But I’d hurry if I was you.” She smiled against his lips even as her fingers danced along his lower back. “I’m not of the mind to be a patient woman tonight. Especially since,” she added in a low, throaty murmur, “this is the first time we’ve been kidless in three months. I plan to make the most of every moment we have alone.”
We get it. They’re going to have sex. Get to the point. Not that one, I mean the point of this scene.
GoodJamags: I don’t think there is one.
His eyes went as dark as indigo. “Are you trying to kill me, woman?” he rasped.
She smiled. “Just kick your ass a little.”
“Then hurry up and say whatever it is you wanna say,” she purred. “Or I’m gonna start kicking it a whole lot more.”
GoodJamags: Is this some ham-fisted attempt at suspense? Or innuendos? Or something?
I can’t even tell. It’s just boring, like pretty much the entirety of this fic.
He snagged her wandering hands in his and held them between them. She pouted again, but he just grinned at her.
“You can have your way with me in a minute.”
“Fine,” she huffed. “Killjoy.”
JUST SAY THE THING!
He chuckled, but sobered after a minute. “Rae, I’ve thought about a million ways in which I should do this. Imagined a thousand different scenarios and places in which I should do this. I wanted things to be perfect when I finally asked you this question.”
Dick: What is your favorite episode of Batman: The Animated Series? Be honest, it’s Heart of Ice, isn’t it?
Raya Sue: I actually prefer Almost Got ‘Im.
Dick: You’re dead to me.
There was a little flutter in her stomach that Raya knew was anticipation. But she didn’t dare to hope. She didn’t want to be wrong. But that small part of her, that teensy, tiny little feminine part of her that she tried to ignore most days, whispered that her birthday wish was about to come true.
Still not quite ready to yell about the “feminine” bit, but I strongly suspect I’m about to.
“I’ve thought about all the words I’d say, that I would use to ask you this question. And I have thought about how exactly I would say each and every word to you. But all I can think to say right now, the only thing I can think to say is that I love you… will you marry me?”
GoodJamags: So… Are we going to get another round of wangst?
Joy swamped her, threatened to drown her. Tears fell, unheeded and unchecked, pooling at the corners of her trembling lips.
She’s crying from her lips?
GoodJamags: I think that’s called drooling.
Alright. We don’t get any more discussion of the birthday wish, so I’m going to yell about it here. The implication we got is that wishing to get married to someone specific is inherently feminine.
Uh, no. Not really. That’s kinda really sexist and bullshitty, in fact.
“Am I going to get a ring with this proposal, buzzard brains?” she asked with a tiny sniffle. “I tend ta recall that this particular question is supposed to come with a shiny token to coincide with you asking me for my hand in matrimony.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he groused as he slid a ring onto her finger. “Now,” he huffed, “will you be my wife, Rae?”
GoodJamags: OK. She says no. End scene.
The ring was simple and elegant. He’d chosen aquamarine- his birthstone- a beautiful blue-green stone that was set in a simple white gold band. Surrounding the beautiful heart-shaped stone were two golden robins with eyes that were a lighter shade of turquoise.
GAH! Ring porn!
She was about to answer him… or kiss him, she wasn’t honestly sure which one she was going to do at that moment. All she knew was that everything inside her was shining brighter than the sun.
GoodJamags: You might want to get that checked out.
Just when she went to tell him yes, a voice (which sounded suspiciously like her father), whispered to her, reminding her about how she was “not good enough for him.”
Aaaaaaaand here comes the wangst.
No! We’re not listening to you anymore! she shouted at that voice. We’ve risen above you and your hateful words.
Gollum Smeagol Raya Sue: No, my precious. We doesn’t listen to you anymore! We likes the Hobbitses!
She swallowed the hurt the words always invoked back, buried it alongside the other pockets of pain she kept tucked away within herself. She wasn’t letting her father win. Not this time. No, he was wrong.
GoodJamags: Yet, this isn’t going to stop the wangst going forward.
She was good enough for this man. She’d always been good enough for this man. She was worthy of Dick’s love. She deserved happiness. She opened her mouth to tell him yes, but the words died when the chime of a familiar ring tone filled the air. Instantly, Dick reached into his pocket to retrieve his phone.
Caller: You have seven days.
Suddenly, I feel less comfortable with my “ring porn” joke.
Caller: Do you like scary movies?
“It’s Barbara,” he said without even glancing at the caller ID. A frown knit his brow before he mused, “I wonder why she’s calling my cell instead of Skyping me on the computer.”
GoodJamags: To yell at him for conscripting Tim?
Raya knew the answer to that. She just didn’t tell it to him.
And the answer is…?
“Dick,” she said instead. “Can’t you let it go to voicemail? We were kinda in the middle of something important here.”
GoodJamags: Well, if you could get to the point, maybe you’d have already finished the important stuff.
“It can wait, can’t it, babe?” he asked even as he flipped the phone open. “This could be something important. Bruce might have surfaced or Tim and Damian could be in trouble…”
But no, the romantic drama apparently comes first.
It felt like the light slowly went out inside her with every word he spoke. Duty always came first.
No shit. It’s part of the job description, lady. Superhero-ing is not something to be taken lightly.
Even something as important as a marriage proposal wasn’t enough to set aside their duties and obligations for. She stepped away and turned, feeling tears threaten but swallowing them, and her hurt, back.
GoodJamags: This really doesn’t warrant the wangst.
“You should answer that,” she told him as she started to clean up the mess from their little birthday party.
Bow chicka bow wow.
GoodJamags: It’s still not really working.
“As you said, it could be important.”
GoodJamags: And apparently it’s really super sad that it’s more important than the Sue’s pity party.
A second later she heard, “Hey, Barb, what’s up?”
Barbara: Dick, watch out! You’re trapped in there with a Sue!
GoodJamags: It’ll take a line break to get him out of this one! Oh, look what we have here!
“Nix?” Raya heard Tim say. She shook herself from her internal musings and looked at him.
That’s a stupid nickname.
“Hrm?” she murmured. “What is it, Tim?”
GoodJamags: And what have I told you about interrupting me when I’m wangsting?
“I asked why you didn’t remind Dick about his proposal once he got off the phone.”
Because CONTRIVED DRAMA!
“If you’ll recall,” she drawled. “Everything sorta went crazy right around that point in our lives.”
Tim rolled his eyes. “When are our lives not crazy, Nix?”
GoodJamags: Tim’s even helping prove that it’s contrived.
What do you need us for? count: 11
“Well, they are always crazy,” she admitted with a faint smile. “But we had a lot of things hit all at once. Bruce returned home, Ra’s went after you, there was the incident with the Joker, Cadmus came after Conner, and Jason had assassins sent after him.” She heaved a sigh. “There just never seemed like a right time for me to bring the subject up with him. And when he didn’t bring it up again…” she trailed off into a sigh.
Wait, then what was the call about? There’s a bunch of things there, but she doesn’t say why they couldn’t continue their conversation after the call!
“So…” Conner said. “This is the real reason for why you don’t want to get into the subject of marriage with Dick. It’s because proposal number one is still hanging in the air between the two of you.”
GoodJamags: How have they not had time to sort this out?!
“It’s part of it, yes.”
Raya Sue: The other part is that I’m wallowing in my own drama.
Tim rubbed the back of her leg in a soothing gesture. “Ya gotta talk with him at some point, Nix.”
Nah. That would allow this fic to actually fucking end.
Raya slid down so she could curl her body around his, much as she’d done when he’d been six and suffering the effects of a neurotoxic mist that Crane had unleashed upon the city. It was a warm and affectionate embrace, one meant to give comfort as much as to take it.
GoodJamags: Stop expositing. We don’t need all these random stories that didn’t actually happen.
“I know,” she said into his hair. “I know I gotta talk with him. I just dunno if I’m ready to tell him everything…”
We know. We’ve been waiting for you to be ready since the first. Fucking. Chapter.
“He is like Bruce at times when it comes to talking about his emotions…” Tim quipped playfully.
GoodJamags: Tim, do not start with the Stupard-quips. That’s the last thing we need right now.
Raya snorted. “You, Jason and Dick are more like that man than you want to admit. You all act like jerks. And,” she added even as Conner snorted a laugh, “frequently have the emotional maturity of an eight-year-old.”
Bruce’s parents were killed in front of him when he was eight, and it’s often theorized that he still is stuck in an eight-year-old’s level of emotional maturity. Nice job being sensitive about Bruce’s emotional trauma, there.
“And here I’ve been kind enough to sleep on my couch because you are having problems with your boyfriend.”
What do you need us for? count: 12
GoodJamags: A good point from Tim. Now, how’s Raya going to respond to that?
A soft “Ttch,” from the vicinity of the window drew their attention. Damian perched there upon the windowsill, his perma-sneer firmly in place and with fire blazing from his eyes. He dropped down and stalked towards them.
GoodJamags: Oh, the author will keep her from needing to via a Damian Ex Machina? Or rather, Damian Ex Fenestra? Figures.
“What you should have been doing was convince her to return home, Drake,” he paused to give Tim a look that promised bloody retribution for his having dared to interfere (much less allowed this subterfuge) in the situation. “Where she belongs.”
Fuck off, Damian.
“Dami…” Raya began in a placating tone but Damian cut her off.
“Kean,” he stated in a near perfect rendition of Bruce’s autocratic tones, “you have two options available to you at this moment in time.”
GoodJamags: Say “yes” or say “no?”
Raya frowned a warning at him. “Pardon me, young man?”
No, I don’t think I will. In fact, I sentence you to death.
He fffed at the warning. “You can return home with me and talk to Grayson there,” he snarled, “or you can call him and have him meet you here and speak with him after he arrives.”
GoodJamags: I would’ve gone with “yes” or “no.”
“And if I don’t choose to do either one of those things?” Raya growled as she slowly rose to her feet and faced the simmering teen. “What are you going to do then, little bird?”
Be an annoying piece of shit?
Damian planted his fists upon his hips. “Defy me and see what happens.”
GoodJamags: Yeah, basically, but that’s not any different from normal.
Alright. The chapter’s over. I’m really getting sick of this fic, but we’re two thirds of the way through it, so we’ll probably finish it before I move on to something else. I’ll see you all next time.
What do you need us for? count: 12
Dick is a dick count: 7
Bullet count: 0