1772: Love & Bullets – Chapter ElevenPosted: May 25, 2017
Title: Love & Bullets
URL: Chapter 11
Critiqued by BatJamags (BadJamags and GoodJamags)
What do you need us for? count: 12
Bullet count: 0
Dick is a dick count: 9
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, the fic that’s finally almost fucking over. This chapter is called “Marry me,” so presumably something will actually happen. But of course there’s an epilogue after this. There just had to be a fucking epilogue, because otherwise the fic would end.
GoodJamags: Let’s just skip the canned author’s note and jump right in.
“Tell me the answer to that proposal now.”
GoodJamags: Please? With sugar on top?
And then end the fucking fic.
Raya frowned at him. “You want me to answer your first proposal now?” She made a Tt sound low in her throat that made Dick think about Damian. He hid a grim even as she said, “You’ve gone mental, bird boy.”
He hid a… “grim?”
GoodJamags: Maybe it’s a Grimm.
You mean one of the brothers, or one of the man-eating monsters?
GoodJamags: Eh, either way.
Well, either way, stop making me think about better stories than this one!
GoodJamags: On another note: she said the reason she couldn’t answer his second proposal is because of the first one. So, he’s asking for an answer to the first proposal. How does that make him crazy?
“Yes, I do, and no, I haven’t.” He had a potent smile. Charmingly crooked, innocently cajoling. Raya felt her resolve weakening. Just as it always does when he smiles at me like that. She harrumphed even as he entreated, “Please, tell me now?”
GoodJamags: I get the strangest feeling that the author is just trying to pad the story out.
Whatever could give you that idea?
Short. Succulent. And straight to the point. However, he wasn’t about to be swayed. Not this time.
Oh, for the love of fuck.
“C’mon, babe,” he cajoled. “Tell me.” He blinked his eyes wide, whimpered, “Please? With whipped cream and a cherry on top?“
GoodJamags: *Snerk* That’s the best you’ve got?
“Oh, you’re being ridiculous…” she muttered crossly. “It’s not like my answer to your first proposal has any bearing on what my answer might be to your current one.”
*Sigh* This really is just padding.
Dick clearly noticed the emphasis upon the word might because he sighed and dropped his cheek to the top of her hair.
GoodJamags: You might want to get that checked out.
*Whispering* More like cheeked out, am I right?
GoodJamags: I heard that, and no. You’re not right.
“Then why’d ya mention it?” His exhalation of air tickled the hair at her temple. “I mean, if’n ya ain’t gonna tell me the answer, why remind me about having asked the question?”
AUTHOR! I have been listening to real people speaking out loud, at length, for years, surprisingly enough. I HAVE NOT ONCE HEARD ANYONE SAY “IF’N!” That is just not a thing people say. And most people pronounce “you” properly most of the time.
She harrumphed. “I only mentioned it because it is something left hanging in the air between us that needed to be resolved finally.”
GoodJamags: The question is, why did the author feel the need to come up with it?
“Uh-huh.” He skimmed his lips over her temple. “Go on.”
“Go on about what?”
*Sigh* I’m sure you’ll think of something.
“Tell me why you really didn’t bring up the matter of the first proposal.”
GoodJamags: Are we really still talking about this subject?
“I told you,” she huffed. “It was just to clear the air.”
“Mmhmm,” was his only response.
Just accept it so we can move on with our lives.
Instantly suspicious, Raya tried to read his thoughts, but found the language both foreign and frustrating. A tingle at the back of her neck warned her that when he got like this was when he was at his most dangerous. “What are you up to, buzzard brains?”
GoodJamags: That nickname still makes no sense. Dick is not remotely buzzard-related.
She forgot that Dick had… moves. Smooth, unexpected, incredibly sexy moves.
GoodJamags: *Quietly gets out tranquilizer rifle*
Hey, GJ, what are you doing?
GoodJamags: Oh, nothing…
OMG SO SMOOTH
GoodJamags: And unexpected?
GoodJamags: What about incredibly sexy?
Well, you are me, so… sure.
GoodJamags: So… I guess that means we’re playing Narcissist Chicken?
They weren’t fast, but they were executed so slickly, so silkily, she had no time to think. Much less stop him. His arms came around her, slid her against him, body to body so that there wasn’t an inch of space left between them. He dipped her back, just the slightest bit, conjuring an image of them being horizontal rather than vertical. The intimacy of it rocketed through her faster than a bullet, set her head spinning even before his lips took her own. Soft. Warm. Deep. His lips didn’t brush or nibble, but simply consumed. Now her spinning head was accompanied by a wave of heat that started all the way down in her toes and rose up until it melted every bone.
Get. To. The. Point.
It was the same feeling she’d had when he kissed her-really kissed her, there in that old gazebo out in the back gardens…
Oh, shit. We’re doing this again.
GoodJamags: But was there a line break that time?
GoodJamags: Stately Wayne Manor.
Twelve years ago.
I give up on trying to establish a timeline for this bullshit.
The back gardens of Wayne Manor had become a world all their own, and were only theirs at that moment. Raya wandered alongside Dick beneath arches and arbors, by stone benches and around a small fountain that had become a frozen pond. The stone path she meandered along was lined by rivers and floods of shrubbery and flowers. Some were tender with winter, some already reigned supreme. It wasn’t just the blooms, oh no. It was also the sea of green. There was so much texture and color that each spill or shimmer of pink or white, red or lavender only added more wonder to an already magical place.
GoodJamags: Gah! Purple attack!
Just be glad that the author feels like giving us some sett-
The way the massive garden with the ground covered in a thin layer of fresh snow that gleamed against the night sky, the way hedges and branches were coated in glittering frost that sparkled like diamonds, the way icicles sparkled from the railing of the gazebo that was at the end of the stone path turned the gardens into a winter wonderland. It was the most wonderful place on Earth in her mind.
ALRIGHT! I GET IT! STOP PADDING!
Music spilled out of the Manor’s windows, out of the balcony doors where other guests had stepped for a breath of air. It was her own private fairy tale, she thought as she hummed along with the orchestra’s rendition of Once Upon A Dream. Her handsome Prince took her hand and drew her into a dance beneath the starless sky. She may not have had the gold of sunshine in her hair or lips that shamed the red, red rose, but the night was still one of magic and she still felt as if she was a fairytale Princess.
GoodJamags: Seriously. Is this necessary?
The music seemed to float out through the balcony doors, into the air, over the garden. And straight into their hearts. That they were playing her most favorite song from her most favorite movie was not lost upon the sixteen-year-old. Bruce, for all his quirks and shortcomings, had accepted the change in hers and Dick’s relationship much better than either of them had anticipated he would. Then Dick spun her out to arm’s length, whipped her back and she forgot all about the Ball and about Bruce. Her every thought was fixated upon the boy-man she was sharing this private dance with. Her arm hooked smoothly around his neck, her body fit to his, and her heart beat with his.
First of all, please stop using the term “boy-man.” Second of all, STOP PADDING AND GET TO THE POINT!
“Oh, yeah.” He slid his arms around her waist as he began to sway with her. “Sneaking away from the Ball was an awesome idea.”
“I agree.” She tucked her head upon his shoulder. “It’s beautiful out here.”
“And totally private,” he teased. “We better enjoy it while it lasts.”
GoodJamags: These three lines of dialogue said everything that purple setting porn did, and much more efficiently and naturally.
It’s not like it’s great dialogue, but this chapter’s obligatory pointless flashback really should’ve just opened on this.
“I know,” she said on a soft, dreamy sigh. “I expect Alfred will be told to come get us any second now.”
“Then let’s make the most of the time we have alone.”
Look, Ma, no conflict!
GoodJamags: Snip an overly purple description of their dancing…
After the song ended, Dick held her in his arms, just a moment longer than propriety deemed necessary, not that they’d have cared. Then, just as she thought it was over, that the magic would whither and die, he kissed her. His lips were soft on hers, just a faint whisper of contact at first. But then the kiss changed, became something new and just a little unnerving. She had a moment to think that this was unlike any of the other chaste kisses they had shared in the nine months since they’d become a couple. This kiss stirred the blood, heated her senses. It was she that gasped in surprise, in pleasure. And it was she who circled his neck, she who changed the angle of the kiss. More, she thought vaguely. She wanted more. She wanted to feel the strength of him, the press of his lean, muscular body against the softness of her own. She wanted the ripe flavor of him, the mind blistering heat, the searing taste of the forbidden.
GoodJamags: WALL OF TEXT! Sorry, Gumdrop!
This author is uniquely talented at using large swathes of narration to express incredibly simple concepts. I’d break down that WoT, but it’s not even worth it.
“Raya,” he whispered her name a second before he lifted his head. “We gotta stop.”
Wait, so he started talking before he stopped kissing her? Seems legit.
“I know,” she replied in a voice she didn’t recognize as her own. It was throatier, sultrier, more womanly sounding. It was only to be expected, though. Things were changing between them. She knew they were. Just as she knew that many of those changes were leading them down a road they weren’t ready yet to travel. For all they had seen, for all they had done, and for all they were mature and responsible teens, they were still only sixteen-year-old kids. They were not quite ready to take that final step into adulthood. Someday though, she thought as she rest her cheek against his. We will be ready for that step someday.
GoodJamags: I’m still waiting to hear why we needed to see this scene right now.
Don’t hold your breath.
GoodJamags: You can’t tell me what to do! *Holds breath*
“Let’s go back inside and watch movies or something.”
He tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow, waggling his eyebrows playfully. “So…” he said with just a hint of mischief speckled in his voice. “Ya wanna take the long way back inside?”
We’re taking the long way to the end of the fic; that’s for sure.
A giggle bubbled up into her throat, burst from her mouth. Dick’s long way back into the Manor included a detour through the cave that none of the guests knew to be right below their feet. It was his way of offering a compromise that would allow them to be away from the eyes of the sharks in the ballroom while being somewhere their overprotective mentor considered to be safe.
Because the back yard of a slightly extremely paranoid billionaire with at least one degree in engineering wouldn’t be remotely secure.
She looked at him, smiled a smile she had no way of knowing cast her face in a glow he found wondrous. Mesmerizing. A glow he vowed he would move Heaven and Earth to see over and over again.
Did we just change point-of-view, or did the narration jump to a “little did she know” style? Either way, it’s bad form.
“I’ll go anywhere,” she told him softly. “So long as I am with you, Dick.”
GoodJamags: *Breathes out and starts panting* You… *pant* could… *pant* go… *pant* to… *pant* this… *pant* line… *pant* break… *pant*
Were you holding your breath that entire time?
GoodJamags: What… *pant* do… *pant* you… *pant* think… *pant*
Snip some more not-sex-that’s-described-like-sex.
Here, though, was the answer she was searching for, that she needed in order to be confident about accepting his proposal. As she’d told Conner, it was never a question about if he loved her-she knew he did. It also wasn’t completely about revealing to him the real events from the night her mother was murdered by her father. That was just a small part of a larger picture. No, it’d also been about this, about knowing if he loved her enough to open his heart to her completely.
STOP CHANGING YOUR MIND!
When Dick had cut himself off from her, when he broke off their relationship the last time, he’d told her “things were going too fast” and that they “needed to slow down.” She’d understood that. Same as she understood that Dick Grayson was a far more complex man than he liked admitting to being.
GoodJamags: *Sigh* Snip some more exposition about Dick’s personality.
However, when her father tried to have her assassinated by a lone gunman on Halloween, Dick’s mask had slipped and he’d revealed the boy still lurking underneath.
She had seen then that the boy she’d fallen in love with at sixteen was the man she loved now at twenty-eight.
Raya’s father tried to have her assassinated? What is with this guy?!
And the man who loved her now at twenty-eight had the confidence to love her in the way that the twenty-six year old man had not been ready too.
GoodJamags: This is just too much.
Stop. Just… don’t do that again.
That was the element that had been missing when he’d asked her to marry him the first time.
Apparently. Even though the words “Will you marry me?” come with an implied “I’m confident enough in my love for you that I’m willing to spend the rest of my life with you.” But apparently she needs him to be, like, extra confident or something.
That was why she knew that the answer she’d been about to give him then, was not the answer she should have given. Telling him that, though? Well, it wasn’t something she was looking forward to doing. That he wasn’t going to handle her saying yes but telling him she meant no well was an understatement. He’s just like Bruce in that regard.
After their lips parted, Raya pressed her cheek to Dick’s, held there for a moment. Neither spoke for a number of moments. Finally it was Dick who broke the silence.
GoodJamags: I really don’t understand how these people’s minds work. I just don’t.
“How about clearing the air now,” he whispered, “and telling me what you would have said back then to my proposal.”
Does it matter? Do we need to hear about any of this?
Raya heaved one long breath. The man was also nothing if not persistent. Totally gets that from Bruce, as well.
GoodJamags: Stop expositing and start doing things.
Raya Sue: … I’m gay.
What do you mean “no?” She just said it.
GoodJamags: Well, she’s seemed pretty into him so far…
Wait, is this one of the things where the joke went over your head, or is it one of the things where you’re pretending it did to annoy me?
GoodJamags: When in doubt, it’s the second one.
He cupped her chin gently between his thumb and forefinger, lifted it. “No long and drawn out reasons for why you can’t answer that proposal.
You had an answer to it.” He twisted his hand, smoothed his fingers over her cheek and into the curls that had escaped the messy bun she’d tucked the strands into. “Tell me what it was.”
Raya: It would’ve been “Nope!” I actually don’t like you all that much.
Silence echoed for a number of minutes. Finally, she whispered one word, “Yes.”
“I would have said yes.”
A smile trembled upon his lips. “Was that really so hard to say, Rae?”
GoodJamags: *Looks back at the last seventeen-and-a-half riffs* Apparently it was.
“It’s not about it being hard to say, Dick,” she told him in a subdued voice. “It’s about it being the right answer. And,” she said on a long sigh, “my answer might have been yes then, but it really should have been no.”
She’s now going to explain out loud everything that just got narrated at us, isn’t she?
She knew by the shadow that fell across his face that he wasn’t happy with what she said, but it was the truth nonetheless. As much as she had wanted to say yes to his proposal, the real answer should have been no. Nearly three years and a lot of reflections later told her that they hadn’t been ready to make such a commitment and would only have ended up miserable in the end.
GoodJamags: Yes, you already expressed this concept!
“Why no?” he demanded in a hard voice.
“Don’t give me any pretty speeches,” he grumbled. “Just tell me why the answer should have been no.”
Dick is trying to get this thing back on track. I approve.
She’d anticipated that he would not react favorably to her answer. He’d always been moody, though. And he hated when things did not make sense. It was a common joke amongst his closest teammates and friends in the Titans about how the best way to drive Dick Grayson the craziest was to tell him something illogical. Totally got that from Bruce, too.
GoodJamags: I don’t care. Just move on, explain the stuff, and then respond to Proposal #2. There’s absolutely no reason for any of this drama to be happening.
Her lips curved, warm with affection. “Look in your heart and ask yourself two questions here, bird boy,” she suggested gently. “Was then really the right time for us to get married? And did you want to marry me…or were you just trying to find some sort of order inside lives that had become chaotic?”
Considering the fact that he asked again, I’d say he fucking wants to marry you, lady!
Dick pondered the answers to those questions in silence. The hell of it was he knew she was right. It wasn’t the right time for them to get married. And yes wasn’t the right answer. If it had been… “I wouldn’t have allowed myself to get distracted by everything else going on,” he said quietly. “I’d have waited for your answer, or asked for it long before now.”
She nodded. “Exactly.”
GoodJamags: Alright. Lovely. Now answer the new proposal and end the fic.
He blew out a breath. “So what do we do now? Where do we go?” His fingers fisted in her sweatshirt. “I can’t go backwards, Rae. I just can’t.”
“So we go frontwards then, Dick.”
You may think you’re going to the front, but the fic is so slow it feels like it’s been drifting awayways.
“What way is frontwards for you? Because for me it’s spending the rest of my life with this temperamental little hellcat with these big green eyes that melt my heart.”
GoodJamags: And all I can think is that we’re in the eleventh chapter out of twelve, and we finally learn a second trait about one of our two leads. She’s got dark hair and green eyes. And is a gryphon.
He touched his lips to her forehead. “She’s only been holding my heart in the palm of her hand for as long as I can remember.”
His lips curved against her skin. “And I swear on my life to do everything I can to make her happy.”
“Guess that woman and you have something in common then. You’ve only been holding her heart hostage since the day she met you.”
She reached up to stroke her fingers over his whisker-rough cheek. “And the only thing she has ever wanted was for you to be happy.”
GoodJamags: Touching. Say “Yes,” or “No,” please.
He reached up to set his hand on top of hers. “Raya, haven’t you figured out by now that I’m happiest when I am with you? Good God, woman,” he exclaimed in a huff, “I even finished one of the stories you started and never finished…”
Those two statements are entirely unrelated.
“You wrote me a story?”
Raya Sue: Please tell me it’s better than the one we’re in.
“I sent it to your email,” he huffed. “But I am figuring that Damian got to you before the email did.”
GoodJamags: Emails are known for being slow and easily intercepted. That’s why handwritten letters have become so much more common, right?
At her nod he heaved a sigh. “Much as I appreciate his help in getting you here…” He smiled down into her upturned face. “I worked hard on the damned thing. Be nice if you’d actually read it.”
She stroked his hair. “I still can’t believe you wrote me a story.”
Correction: He wrote you a pointless flashback. We had to sit through it. It was boring and meaningless.
“Don’t you realize that there’s nothing I won’t do for you?”
Raya Sue: Then end the story.
Dick: Well… Nothing but that.
It felt like everything inside her was spinning round and round, faster and brighter than the Merry-Go-Round down at the Boardwalk. At the center of it, her heart was glowing brighter than the sun.
GoodJamags: You might want to get that checked out.
“Where do you want to go from here, Dick?”
So we’re back to the same question that was asked ten paragraphs ago. HAVE A POINT!
It was an honest question. One that he had an answer already prepped and ready for.
“Well, you could answer my second proposal…”
GoodJamags: What’s she complaining about this time? That’s clearly what she was leading up to with the saying no to the first proposal.
“What step is next for us to take, Rae?” he asked her in all seriousness. “Moving in together?” He snorts a laugh. “We’ve been living together for the majority of our entire lives. Dating?” He scoffs. “We’ve established that we’ve been doing that. So what really is there left for us but marriage? And,” he added before she could even formulate a coherent response, “isn’t marriage just us officiallydotting the I’s and crossing the T’s anyway?”
That’s what I’ve been saying!
She knew he had a point. They’d walked the same road that couples who were openly dating did. They’d fought with each other and for each other. What don’t I know about this man that I need to know in order to say yes? The answer that came back was “absolutely nothing.” She looked up into his eyes, felt herself drowning in those blue, blue depths.
“Ask me to marry you again.”
GoodJamags: Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.
“Raya,” he grumbled. “I’ve asked you to marry me a half dozen times tonight.”
Half a dozen?! That is a shitload of proposals. Let me make a chart:
Proposal #1: NO
Proposal #2: Unanswered (also: WHY THE FUCK WERE THEY IN CHICAGO?!)
Proposal #3: Unanswered
Proposal #4: Unanswered
Proposal #5: Unanswered
Proposal #6: Unanswered
Proposal #7: Unanswered
Proposal #8: Unanswered
Proposal #9: About to be given
That is a lot of “air to clear,” to use this fic’s term.
“Humor me,” she pleaded. “Please?”
He gave in, as she knew he would. “Woman,” he groused. “This is the last time that I am going to ask you this question. I want an answer this time and am not going to let you go until I get one. Got it?” He waited until she nodded before asking, “Will you marry me?”
Her lips curved impishly. “Am I going to get a ring this time?”
He gave her a dirty look. “I’m not giving ya a ring if ya are gonna say no, Rae.”
Get to the fucking point before I stab you both in the throat.
“Then I’ll say yes.”
“What logical reason do you… wait, you said yes?” Dick’s mouth dropped open as he goggled. “You actually said yes?””
“I said yes, bird boy.”
GoodJamags: Why is this a surprise?
He stroked a hand down her hair, down the length of her back, savoring the feel of her, solid and warm against his palm. “And you mean yes this time?” When she nodded, he asked, just a hint of suspicion in his voice, “What changed your mind all of the sudden?”
“Some Kryptonian ass told me that a perfect marriage is really just two imperfect people who absolutely refuse to give up on each other.”
“Remind me to thank Conner later,”
GoodJamags: *Sigh* Conner is half-human, born on Earth, and never visited Krypton. He’s not really Kryptonian. And why didn’t we get to see his telling her this?
he said a second before his lips crushed hers.
GoodJamags: You might want to get that checked out.
Alright, folks. We’ve just got an epilogue to cover after this. It’s long, because of course it is, so we’re going to cut this off here.
What do you need us for? count: 12
Bullet count: 0
Dick is a dick count: 9