1778: Love & Bullets – Chapter TwelvePosted: June 1, 2017
Title: Love & Bullets
URL: Chapter 12
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 about to END!
Last time, after a lot of utterly pointless dilly-dallying, Raya Sue finally just said “Yes,” to Dick’s proposal (or rather, his ninth one, by my count), and the story should’ve ended right there. But it didn’t. So here’s the epilogue, starting with a slightly different author’s note for once.
A/N: Hello m’dears! Hope that life has been treating you all well!
Better than this fic, that’s for damned sure.
This is just an extended epilogue that I just had the urge to write for some reason.
GoodJamags: I wish you hadn’t.
Please, if you like this story, click the follow button. Also, reviews are deeply cherished!
Still doesn’t need to be here.
GoodJamags: But the line break does! :D
“Kean,” Damian muttered suddenly, “why did you have to be so stubborn about accepting Grayson’s proposal?” One eye peeked at her from behind a thick fringe of dark lashes. “Couldn’t you have just said yes and saved everyone the headache that your relentless prevaricating and senseless dancing around the subject caused?”
GoodJamags: An excellent question, Mr. Wayne. Five points to Stupidor. Now, can anyone in the class answer his question?
Raya cocked her head in order to look down at the boy who was sprawled out, quite contentedly she saw with a smirk, with his head in her lap. “You’re not still annoyed at Dick and I, are you, Dami?” she drawled while lazily sifting her fingers through his glossy hair. At his snort, she replied, her tone warm with affection, “You have achieved what you wanted, little bird. I’m home and I have said yes to his proposal. Be satisfied.”
No? Then I take the five points back and also deduct five points from Bullshittin.
“Hmph,” was his disgruntled reply. “It only took you how long to finally come to your senses?” He flashed a look at her that positively brimmed with male superiority and youthful arrogance. “And whowas it that had to physically come and get you in order for you to finally say yes?”
GoodJamags: It’s really sad that even the epilogue is clearly going to follow the same pre-packaged formula as every other chapter of the fic: Other character brings up legitimate point, Dick or Raya has a pointless, irrelevant flashback, and pretends it makes a logical counterargument.
“I had already come to my senses before you showed up at Tim’s and threatened to hurt him if I didn’t come home.” She tugged a lock of his hair gently. “And if you try and fulfill that particular threat by the way,” she added in a sweetly succulent voice, “I will have your father ground your butt to this house for six months.”
Pfffffffft. As if Damian would ever face consequences for his actions.
“Ttch,” Damian scoffed. “I would like to see father try and ground me to this house.”
Raya’s lips trembled. Snarky little shit, she mused fondly.
Hey, I’m musing the same thing, except without the fondly part. Oh, and snip some boring exposition about Damian.
“Dami,” she extolled on one long breath. “You are still very young and haven’t experienced love in this way. When you do, you will come to understand that it’s not perfect. It doesn’t come with all the right answers. It doesn’t fit into a perfectly shaped box. And,” she said over his snort, “it certainly doesn’t follow any type of rules or order. Love is messy and nasty and frequently riddled with more potholes than that old access road that goes out to Arkham.”
GoodJamags: And you still managed to make it even more complicated than it needed to be over nothing.
“Tt.” He flopped over onto his right side and reached for the iPad he’d set there after they’d gotten engrossed in watching Rumple’s latest escapades on Once Upon A Time. “It shouldn’t be so complicated,” he said while swiping his finger across the screen to unlock the device. “Not for people like you and Grayson.”
Well, it shouldn’t be so complicated for mature, rational adults who know what they’re getting into, but Dick and Raya clearly don’t fit that description.
“Why do you think that Dick and I are different from other people who are in love?”
GoodJamags: Well, to be fair, there are plenty of other people who are in love and are also idiots who don’t understand how logic works.
“You just are.”
“We’re not any different from any other couple out there,” she informed him with a smile. “We’re just-”
“-two people who even I knew belonged together after seeing you together.”l
Don’t care. Why does this epilogue exist, again?
“Maybe so,” she agreed with a slight nod of her head. “But that doesn’t mean it was the right time or the right moment for us to be together. Love requires both parties to put in an equal amount of work. It’s a commitment that you cannot take lightly or only be a part of when it suits you to be.”
GoodJamags: That is entirely irrelevant to the conflict of this story. You just didn’t want to respond to Dick because you were being whiny about a bunch of inconsistent crap.
“You stayed when Grayson asked you to stay with him.” He looked up at her, his face scrunched up in that same pugnacious expression Bruce got whenever he’d set his mind about something. “You didn’t return to Blüdhaven. You stayed.”
“I have always stayed whenever Dick asked me to stay…” Raya murmured with a thoughtful frown puckering her brow. She wracked her brain in order to figure out what exactly he was talking about. Finally, she looked at him. “What night are you talking about here, Dami?”
It sure would be nice if the audience kne-WAIT NO DON’T DO A FLASHBACK!
Damian just heaved a world-weary sigh while mumbling inarticulate, and what Raya suspected were very unflattering comments beneath his breath. “The night,” he told her as he handed her the device, “where Grayson asked you to stay because he wanted you to come home.”
Raya’s eyebrows shot up as she took the iPad from him. There was only one night she could think of where Dick had specifically asked her to stay with him because he wanted her to come home. She glanced at the screen and was instantly tossed back three years as soon as she read the first words on the screen…
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NOT ANOTHER FLASHBACK PLEASE DON’T!
GoodJamags: It’s OK, man. Here, have a line break.
THAT DOESN’T HELP!
GoodJamags: Stately Wayne Manor.
Three years ago…
Seriously, these time tags are not helpful at all.
“Stay with me.”
GoodJamags: Let me guess, half of this flashback will be expositing about how that simple sentence is SO MEANINGFUL!
Yep! Let’s see, here… snip some exposition about how Dick is like Bruce and doesn’t express himself (GEE, WE HAVEN’T HEARD THAT ABOUT HIM BEFORE IN THIS FIC OTHER THAN THE FOUR HUNDRED THIRTEEN TIMES IT’S BEEN EXPRESSED TO US)…
He’s also SUPER DEEP…
The loss of people that he cared and felt responsible for- his parents and Donna Troy the most prevalent upon that list, had damaged Dick in a lot of ways, made him wary of sharing his heart and allowing himself to love someone- really love them. His greatest fear was losing the people he loved. It was a fear that Dick shared with their cynical mentor. One of the many things they share, she thought as she breathed in a deep breath. The thought was as acrid and foul smelling as the smoke that still clung to Dick’s dusky skin even after the dozen showers she’d known he’d taken. His years fighting the vermin who lurked in Gotham’s seedy underbelly had also chipped away at his optimism, stolen a bit of his hope, and taught him that he needed to develop a thick exterior in order to combat the ugliness of the world they’d chosen to stand against. She also knew he held himself as much accountable for the death of Jason Todd as Bruce. Dick’s line of reckoning, though, was that if he had not urged Bruce to take a new partner, if he had not supported the teen in becoming the new Robin, if he had not encouraged him to be Robin, then the Joker would never have gotten his hands upon him. And he’d never have brutally murdered him. It was complete bullshit, of course, but there was no telling the idiot man that. Totally got that from Bruce, too.
OH SHIT WALL OF TEXT!
GoodJamags: Sorry, Gumdrop!
This is still not important information though. No sense in breaking it up and OH GODDAMMIT!
Raya was also aware of how Dick was holding himself accountable for Bruce’s demise. In the mule-headed morons way of seeing things, if he had pushed harder for Bruce to take time off and recoup after everything that had happened with Prime, with Jezebel Jett, with Darkseid, he wouldn’t now be dead. And that, she suspected, was going to be the life experience that was going to cause the biggest change of all in him. As much as Dick had tried to avoid becoming the type of crime fighter Bruce was, as much as he’d actively attempted to not let himself become as jaded and cynical as Bruce had been, as much as he’d tried to not become him period, Dick had ended up becoming a near carbon copy of Bruce. His thoughts, his mannerisms, even the way he compartmentalized his family and friends into little mental boxes was all Bruce. He’d even developed that same icy exterior Bruce had become so infamously known for. And while it made him perfect to take on the mantle of Batman, had aided him in becoming Nightwing, it was what made him terrified of just being Richard Grayson. At that moment, though, that mask had cracked and the boy still lurking underneath was breaking through to ask her to stay with him.
GoodJamags: Still just boring stuff we’ve heard before, aside from ignoring the multiple times it’s been stated in canon that Dick is much more emotionally healthy than Bruce.
To be with him.
To love him.
God, she wanted to stay with him. She really, really wanted too. But…
“No,” she whispered against his skin. “No, I can’t stay with you tonight, Dick. I just…”
GoodJamags: Why does any of this matter? Why do we need to see it? What is the point?
“Stay with me, Rae.” His breath cruised over her damp flesh, chilling it. “Please. I need you.”
GoodJamags: If his breath is freezing her skin, then he might want to get that checked out.
For him to lose his self-control like this told her how deeply he was hurting. Who wasn’t hurting, though? It’d only been three weeks since Superman had laid the empty husk of what had once been the man who’d been their father, brother, mentor, partner and best friend at their feet. Just because he was hurting, though, was no reason for them to jump into a situation they both could end up regretting when the sun came up.
Hey, some context would be nice. Perhaps even better than this repetitive exposition.
“Dick…” she said even as she slid her arms around his waist, banded them tight. “I-”
“I don’t want you to leave,” he told her in a voice that she almost didn’t recognize. “I don’t want to be alone. Not,” he breathed against her neck, “after what happened. Please, Rae.” He was pleading now, every sound ripping at her heart and tearing at her resolve. “Please, stay with me.”
“Oh, Dick…” she sighed as she burrowed deeper against the warmth radiating from off his body. “We agreed that it was best that we didn’t get back together.”
GoodJamags: You think we’re going to care anytime soon?
It was a lie and they both knew it. It was him who had told her that they shouldn’t get back together, that their lives were too complicated and neither of them able to dedicate themselves to making a relationship work. She had agreed because she hadn’t known what to say to make him think differently, because she knew he could be as bullheaded as Bruce when he took a notion to be, and because she would do anything in order to see him the one thing that he rarely was: happy.
Please, please, please stop repeating yourself! We’ve heard all of this before!
That was why when he skimmed his lips over her temple and whispered, “Stay,” that she almost gave in.
GoodJamags: Maybe you could explain the consequences of her staying or going? What are the stakes here?
She told him, “No,” even as her fingers crept beneath the hem of his t-shirt and stroked over his quivering flesh, trying to comfort and soothe because it was him and because it was what they both needed. They both knew that no wasn’t what she wanted to say. They both knew she wanted to give in. However, she was trying to be the rational one here, the strong one, the one capable of walking away because she knew deep down that it would never work, that they would just regret it in the morning, and that they’d end up being angry at each other because they’d given into a moment of weakness.
This has absolutely no relevance, and there’s no way for Damian to know about it.
“Come upstairs with me.” His fingers slid to the back of her neck and rubbed at tense muscles. “Let’s lie on the couch and watch a movie. Be together.”
“You want to stay, Rae. I know you do.”
“You’re right,” she replied. “I do want to stay. I want to stay more than anything.”
“I’d like to be with you tonight,” she continued, “and tomorrow night and every night after that. I’d like to wake up tomorrow and not regret giving into my need to be comforted and soothed. To touch and be touched. To love and be loved. But I won’t, so I won’t.”
GoodJamags: They’re talking in circles.
“Why not?” She heard the bite in his voice and recognized it as the rise of a dark and dangerous mood. “Why can’t you give into your needs? Your wants?” His arms tightened around her. “Why can’t you just stay?”
And seriously? There’s nothing wrong with two people providing each other emotional support after the loss of a loved one. I don’t see the problem here, though maybe the author’s just neglected to tell us.
“Because we’re more than just one-night kind of people, Dick,” she informed him in a soothing voice. “We have never gone in for that sort of thing. It was always all or nothing with us. It can’t be anything less than that now. I won’t accept anything less than that.”
“Damn it, woman,” he gritted. “Is that what you think I’m asking for here?” He leaned back to trap her in one burning, blistering glare. “A one-night fling?”
GoodJamags: Neither Dick nor Raya sounded like that was what they were saying.
Raya blinked owlishly at him. “Uhm…” she said slowly. “Isn’t it?”
“No.” The word all but exploded out of Dick. “It’s not.”
Oh, look! It’s our old friend, CONTRIVED DRAMA!
“Then what exactly are you asking me for, Dick?” She felt her heart shiver with anticipation. And quiver with a familiar trace of an age old fear born from a child’s insecurity. “Clearly you’re definition of staying is different from mine.”
GoodJamags: I don’t know. Mine is “not leaving.” That’s a pretty innocuous thing to do.
“Of all the…” he extolled on one long breath. He reached up to frame her face. “I’m asking you to come home, Rae,” he said with as much patience as he could muster at that moment. “I’m asking you to come live with me and Alfred and Tim. And,” he added with a soft smile, “I’m asking you to help me mentor and raise a boy who is both the son of Bruce Wayne and grandson of Ra’s al Ghul.”
I don’t even have the energy to snark at this stilted dialogue anymore. This is just depressingly pointless.
Everything inside her shifted; settled at hearing him ask to stay and help with the upbringing of the pugnacious and volatile ten-year-old that had been dumped upon their family just a few months ago. Even knowing that he wanted her to stay because he wanted her home didn’t stop the shiver of doubt that weaseled its way through her. She heard her father laughing at her inside her heard; heard him telling her how there was “no way” that “anybody” could love a “little bitch” like her. She smacked the voice away with a surge of temper and focused upon the man wrapped around her.
GoodJamags: WHAT DOES HER FATHER HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?! WHY ARE WE BEING SHOWN THIS?! WHY DOES THIS CHAPTER EXIST?!
Fic finally getting to you?
GoodJamags: *Growling* I’m fine.
“Are you sure that this is what you want, Dick?” She searched his gaze. “Are you absolutely sure? There’s no going back in the morning. Once my decision is made, I’m sticking by it.”
“Am I sure that you’re who I need; want beside me as I try to navigate the complicated web that Bruce has left me?” He rest his forehead against hers. “C’mon, babe, do you really even need to ask me that?”
“I have always needed you beside me,” he told her in a no-nonsense tone. “I will always want you beside me. You and I?” His breath prickled her skin. “We’re the partners that I always wanted me and Bruce to be. We’re equals in our public lives and in our personal one. Besides,” his lips tilted up at the corners, “isn’t it the Fenix’s job to bring Robin home anyway?”
*Sigh* We’re still not getting any new information here.
GoodJamags: And in other news, Fenix is still a stupid superhero name.
“Yes, it is her job to bring Robin home,” she agreed with a slight nod. “Except that you’re Nightwing now and not Robin.”
“Well,” his lips skimmed her forehead, her cheek, the corner of her mouth, “Nightwing needs the Fenix to bring him home, too.”
GoodJamags: Wait, isn’t Nightwing trying to bring Raya Sue home? I think you’ve got things a little backwards here.
“And what about Richard Grayson?” She slid her hands up and down his back in slow, soothing circles. “Does he need me to bring him home, too? ‘Cause I recall that that Wingdiot has trouble remembering that Gotham is as much his home as Bludhaven and the circus.”
“Wingdiot?” Really? Also, this metaphor has gotten so abstract that I don’t even know what they’re arguing about anymore.
“He’s only recently figured out that he’s home wherever you are,” he admitted with a rueful grin. “And cut the Wingdiot some slack, will ya?” He slid his arms arms around her waist and drew her up tight against him. “He’s pretty damn exhausted after having to chase you and Batman all over the free world for the last year and a half.”
GoodJamags: But only the free world. Very specifically not the unfree world.
Her lips trembled; curved. “Then I guess I will take mercy on the Wingdiot and stay with him.”
Please stop calling him that.
“Thank you for being reasonable for a change,” he kidded her lightly. “It’s a nice switch from your usual pig-headedness.”
“Careful, Winged Blunder,” she growled at him playfully. “Or I will grab my bags and go.”
“Winged Blunder” is not much better.
“You won’t even get to the door, Rae,” he vowed in one long, emotionally charged breath. “Not this time. The Fenix is home where she belongs.”
She could have argued that she’d been from the moment she’d appeared on his doorstep in Blüdhaven, but it seemed like a pointless statement to make.
GoodJamags: Hasn’t stopped you yet.
So she asked instead, “what movie are we watching?”
Of course, the dratted man would pick one of the movies that she hated with a passion. “Silver Bullet.”
Let’s see, here… *Hits IMDb* That’s a Stephen King movie. Eh, King (and the movies based on his books) has got his own quirks that can get a little grating, so I guess I can’t blame her for not liking it.
She just sighed. “You better be thankful that I love you…”
“I’m eternally grateful that you love me,” he told her a second before his lips took possession of hers in a kiss that curled her toes.
GoodJamags: And then a line break happened, and there was much rejoicing!
“I knew that night,” she heard Damian say the second she finished reading, “that you belonged together.”
Even though he had no way of knowing what actually happened.
She glanced at him, a smirk tilting one corner of her lips.
Yeah, you get him, Cerbersheep!
GoodJamags: “Him?” Isn’t Raya Sue the one who smirked?
Yeah, but it’s fun to watch Damian get gonged.
“You had a funny way of showing your support, little bird,” she said dryly. “You all but shoved me into Jason’s arms a few months later.”
He made his adorable little ffff sound. “It was supposed to make Grayson jealous,” he sniffed. “You weren’t supposed to actually start dating Todd.” He flashed a look at her from beneath lowered lashes. “Even Father has never understood what you saw in him.”
GoodJamags: So, are we still doing the exposition thing? In the epilogue? Come on!
“There is a good man inside your older brother,” she informed him in a curt tone. “A man,” she added with a small sniff of her own, “who was as worthy of my love and affection as Dick.”
“Tt,” was his reply. “You are marrying Grayson,” he stated in that not-so-adorable autocratic tone that was so like his father’s, “and that’s that.”
Um… Yes. That is, in fact, happening. Your point?
“Yes, little bird,” she sighed. “But mind that attitude,” she told told him, “or else I’m going to ground you to this house.”
GoodJamags: And I’m sure the deep internal struggles she has about doing so will be explained to us in excruciating detail.
A scoff was his equally expected and anticipated response to that threat. Snarky little shit, Raya thought again as they settled in to see whether or not Rumpelstiltskin would get his own Happy Ever After. She’d certainly got hers, she thought as she stroked a hand over Damian’s glossy hair. Sure, it only had taken twelve years, her Prince Charming getting shot in the alley
Damn. I was almost hoping we could make it all the way through Love & Bullets without seeing any references to bullets (guns, yes, but no indication that bullets were fired from them). I’m still not quite sure if we’ve seen any love, though.
Bullet count: 1 (Not plural, for what it’s worth)
Love count: 0 (Make your own Tennis jokes)
Oh, and if this is referring to the first chapter, we were never told that Dick was shot. Consistency, author.
in which he popped the question and one extremely tenacious boy in order for her to get it. But she’d gotten it. And this time? she mused. This time she was damn well gonna make the Wingdiot marry her.
GoodJamags: I… But… He proposed and you said yes! It’s a done deal! There’s no “making” that needs to happen!
She suspected there’d be hell to pay if he didn’t.
Alright! Finally! It’s over! I’d include some closing note about how much this fucking sucks, but I can’t stand to do this for another minute. Maybe next time I’ll try something that’s not so long-winded, and preferably with a bit more action.
*Looks at next fic on the chopping block*
Shitty, shitty action…
What do you need us for? count: 12
Bullet count: 1
Dick is a dick count: 9
Love count: 0