“Fucking hell,” Dick mutters, holding on tight to the binoculars with shaking fingers. “Fucking B.”
He shouldn’t be out here. It’s Christmas Eve and he has lots of people he wants to see, lots of places he wants to drift between so he can see all his loved ones in one day. Damian had asked him to visit the Manor and promised that he’d sic Goliath on the others. Donna had asked him to stop in New York for a Titans reunion, where she’d managed to wrangle Kory, Raven, Victor, Garth, Wally, and Roy (with Lian – Dick’s adorable goddaughter he really doesn’t see enough – attached) into the same place without anyone dying or leaving the planet. Selina had invited him to paint the town red with the Sirens (which she probably meant literally knowing Harley) after visiting Damian and Alfred. The Kents had told him to come for dinner, but they always did, worried about the weight he’d lost in Spyral and never managed to regain. All his friends and family, all his loved ones, had invited him to do something.
Everyone he could possibly want to spend the holidays with…bar two.
They are friends of his – Zee and Constantine, that is – but they aren’t as close as Dick would like them to be. Nowhere near as close as Dick wants them to be because Dick has a bad habit of wanting what he can’t have. His parents alive. Bruce’s approval. Love from his family. Zee and Constantine…beyond sex.
It’s not like he should be surprised, hell, he made The Agreement. They wanted sex, so he set limits and boundaries to make sure his heart didn’t get involved (fickle idiot that it is). Of course, his heart has never actually listened to him, so he doesn’t know why he expected it to be different this time.
If he had his way, he’d still be in love with Kory like he had been as a teenager – madly, passionately, wholly in love. But Kory and Donna are happy enough that Dick can’t be too upset, not when he’s the one who ended things the last time. His love for Kory as his everything disappeared, but he’ll always love her and value her friendship.
So…wanting things he can’t have, meaning his sometimes fuck-buddies most-times friends, who he’d wanted to invite over to his apartment tonight, but was too afraid they’d see through the mind-blowing sex offer for the (tiny) crush driving his motives.
It’s not like they had invited him out either, so it’s totally fine. They probably have plans – couple-y plans – involving all that good old love and commitment and… goddamn Bruce for sending him out when it’s below freezing to go get some stupid magic artifact thing-y he wants to study when Dick doesn’t even have thermal gear!
When he gets back, he is tackling Bruce right over the railing onto his precious Batmobile again. It had been satisfying enough the first time around that Dick’s willing to bleed for a far pettier fight. He’s always petty with Bruce these days, anytime Bruce tries to talk feelings Dick will mouth ‘Spyral’ and delight in the little splash of guilt he can see in Bruce’s eyes.
It’s the small things that make dealing with B worth it. The petty things. Sadly, all the Bruce-baiting in the world (fun as it is) does not constitute warmth, and Dick’s ass went numb at least an hour ago from it’s perch on the convenient gargoyle conveniently located across from the stereotypically shady warehouse the witch-bitch and her magic do-hickey are shacked up in. His suit’s thin and breathable, which means more room for flips and less room for survival. He should’ve stolen Jason’s jacket when he saw it, bastard deserved it.
“Luv, what the hell are you doin’ here?” John Constantine asks from the rooftop below him, cigarette glowing in his hand. Zatanna waves at him, flashing a quick smile that feels like a punch to the gut. Right. Of course. Magic. Fucking Bruce.
Dick flips off his convenient gargoyle and lands in a crouch, silently as always. No sign of movement from probably evil witch, so Dick thinks he can hazard a conversation with the couple. Duo. Romantic partners. Fuck he’s pathetic.
“B-man wants the lowdown on that glowing magical artifact the witch has. How about you two? Shouldn’t you be curled up in the House of Mystery?”
They share a look.
“Rogue mystic from a supposedly defunct organization called the Order of Ancient Mysteries,” Zatanna says after a beat. “The House threw us out the door in front of her and we’ve been tracking her since. Sabrina-wannabe seems to use a lot of dark magic, ancient, nasty stuff.”
Dick stares at them.
“The House of Mystery dropped you in front of a magic user? Does it normally do that?”
“Bloody House is temperamental, ‘specially when you ignore the prissy thing.”
Zatanna’s hand cuffs the back of Constantine’s neck, shooting him a warning glare that has him shrinking. Dick winces in sympathy, he’s been on the wrong end of that look a few times before and he’s never liked it much.
Dick mentally shrugs, whatever it is Zee doesn’t want Constantine to say in front of him is none of his business. It’s not like they’re dating him, they just fuck him sometimes, or vice-versa. He’s never been picky on giving or receiving, perks of flexibility in all aspects of life paired with bisexuality. He loves sex, he just happens to fall too hard, too fast.
“I assume you’re going to want to work together on this one?” Dick says, jerking a thumb at the warehouse glowing menacingly.
Zee nods, and Constantine’s gaze drifts over him lazily. He takes a long drag of his cigarette, smoke mixing with Dick’s visible exhale in the cold winter air. Dick can smell the bourbon on Constantine’s breath along with the nicotine, can smell the blackberry-vanilla perfume Zee wears religiously. Familiar, heady…Intoxicating…
“You’re barking mad, out here in that getup.”
Dick shifts defensively, shaking off unhelpful thoughts of Constantine’s mouth around other things.
“I’m fine. My suit has to be breathable for my flips and—”
Constantine cuts him off with a jerk of his hand, effectively silencing Dick via magic like the bastard he is.
“Not with you out here shakin’ like a leaf, here…” Dick feels a warm weight as Constantine’s signature tan trench coat drapes over his shoulders. His hands seem to swim in the long sleeves, and it pools on the dirty concrete rooftop covered in a thin layer of snow. Snowflakes tangle in his eyelashes, and he blinks rapidly to clear his vision, shivering. “…Gorgeous tosser.”
Zatanna smirks, pressing a warm kiss to his cheek, and murmuring a soft, “mraw mih” in his ear. Her magic wraps around him like a blanket – warm, soft, comforting – and it smells like s’mores roasted over a campfire.
“Thanks,” he murmurs, nervous under Constantine’s lingering touch he can feel through the borrowed coat. Zee just pats his cheek lightly.
“Coat looks better on you than John anyways.”
“Bastard,” she replies loftily, bumping him with her hip and draping an arm across Dick’s shoulders. “Boy Wonder doesn’t call me stuffy British names, maybe you should take notes.”
Constantine rolls his eyes, going to stuff his hands in his pockets before realizing he’s not wearing his coat. Dick chuckles a little.
“You’re a right nutter if you think I’m takin’ notes on his bloody manners.”
“Oooo are you taking notes of his ‘gentleman sausage’?”
Dick shares a grin with Zee, feeling warmth that has nothing to do with magic flood his chest.
“No, I think it was my ‘John Thomas’.”
Constantine groans, making both of them laugh. It’s his and Zatanna’s thing, mocking the blonde’s Briticisms. He has a rougher accent than Alfred, all sharp edges and drawl where Alfred’s all smooth words and precise pronunciations.
They’d bought a British English to American English dictionary and ruthlessly memorized all the funny phrases to harass Constantine with. The insult section is Dick’s favorite, but the words for dick are Zatanna’s.
“Sod off. We don’t need to cock this up like the last time we tangled with this bird.”
Zatanna releases him with a squeeze and they both turn to Constantine.
“Powers?” he asks.
“Unknown,” Zatanna replies. “She has some level of control over the elements, and she conjured a familiar to fight for her. We don’t entirely know what it is the artifact does, but she reeks of dark magic so we can safely assume it’s nothing good.”
“Great,” Dick mutters. “Of course this is what Bruce would order me to do on Christmas Eve.”
Zatanna sends him a sad look.
“Still not getting along with the family? I figured Damian would have straightened them out by now. He’s not too happy with Tim for Thanksgiving, or Bruce in general.”
Zatanna would know, because somewhere along the way she became Damian’s favorite female (after Selina and Cass) and Constantine became Dick’s “most tolerable morally ambiguous conquest”. Damian always noticed more than Dick gave him credit for, and his tentative approval only rubbed salt in the wound. Dick will get over it eventually, any day now, honestly.
“We can talk about it after we secure the artifact. Donna’s not too happy I couldn’t make it to New York tonight, and my attendance there tomorrow is mandatory on threat of gladiator-style death match on Themyscira.”
“Well now,” Constantine drawls, “can’t let her hurt that pretty face of yours. Better get to it.”
Zatanna and Constantine use magic, and Dick uses a grappling hook, landing behind them with a small thump and stumble, tripping over the coat’s tail as he rolls. The warehouse is as worn down as any warehouse by the Docks, close as they are to mob territory and Amusement Mile explosions are known to go off at random. There’s a faint scent of salty seawater in the air, and the outside walls are decorated in graffiti from various gangs. He recognizes the bright red smile and green question mark – both fairly infamous call signs – but notices the coloring is just a shade or two off. Joker and Riddler are both very protective over their coloring, and rumor has it when a goon had used the wrong shade of red Joker had made the rest of his crew paint symbols in their friend’s blood. Likely story, knowing Joker. The fake symbols are supposed to act as a natural deterrent, some sort of extra protection from the weaker and dumber of Gotham’s seedy underbelly, meaning their target either knows Gotham, or took the place over from someone who did.
“She seem smart?”
“Nah. More of a blunt-force power type. Y’know, like Zee.”
“I’m taking that as a compliment, John, but you’re on thin fucking ice.”
Making takeover the more likely explanation.
He motions for them to quiet as he approaches the warehouse doors, noticing that it’s slightly ajar. From what he can see inside, it’s completely dark. Still. Silent. In other words—
“It’s a trap,” Zatanna says. “Haven’t dealt with one of those in a while. Should be fun.”
“Definitely a trap,” Dick agrees, cranking the voltage on his escrima stick up to knock out. “Are we going to pretend we don’t know it’s a trap and sneak in?”
“Nah, sounds boring. Let’s go.”
Dick kicks the doors open, rushing into the darkness with Zatanna and Constantine at his heels, both armed with glowing balls of something like sunlight. He can’t see six feet in front of him, and blood pounds in his ears. His own breathing feels loud and shaky, every footstep damningly loud, compared to the complete silence around them.
It’s times like this he thinks of Bruce as his own personal Mad-Eye-Moody – “Constant vigilance!” is definitely a Bruce-like phrase, and paranoia? Bruce is the king of that. Dick’s grateful for the training at moments like these though, as much of an ass as Bruce can make out of himself, he knows how to instill paranoia in child sidekicks. So when witch-bitch leaps out of the shadows covered in blood, Dick flips back just in time, feeling a hum of magic cut in front of his cheek. Constantine steadies him, breathing out a “shite” as Zatanna sends chains hurtling at the magic chick.
The witch dodges with a loud shout, tell-tale blood trails running down her arms a warning sign Dick’s eyes narrows on to, observing his surroundings warily. Animal corpses dangle from the ceiling, some fresh and some old. There’s a black, glowing pentagram in the center of the room covered in intestines and a puddle of liquid that Dick thinks might be blood. He watches her feet as Constantine presses into her, unyielding and firmly placed in front of the pentagram. It seems their opponent is trying to steer them away from her little alter…
“Constantine!” Dick tries to warn, but the blonde’s fixated on the fight, covering every area Zee leaves open when she pauses to summon her magic. Dick knows the dangers of blood magic from Bruce’s grueling ‘seminars’ on magic and why metas should never, ever, ever be allowed in Gotham (conducted bimonthly under the Batglare). Neither of them look at him, so when the witch’s blood hits her palm and she conjures a black orb, Dick tackles her to the ground. He tightens his thighs around her, escrima at her throat.
“I think we’re going to need some sort of power dampener!” he shouts, looking away for a split second and missing the witch’s eyes flash red. “I can feel the magic coming off her and I am not—”
“DICK!” Zee screams as he slams into the wall across the room with a loud thud. “YOU FUCKING BITCH!”
He blinks, slightly dazed and world off kilter. Everything seems a bit slanted and blurry, unreal and distant. He suppresses a dopey grin when Constantine wraps an arm around his waist, lifting him off the dirty concrete ground without much resistance. Dick feels like dead weight, like a sack of rocks dressed in an oversized trench coat. He’s using the master bath after this mess, with lots and lots of yummy candles and coconut bath bombs. Bruce can kiss his fucking ass, or better yet, Bruce can get fucked by Killer Croc.
“Grayson, look at me.”
He complies, staring at Constantine unblinkingly. He feels the strange impulse to taste the stubble decorating the brit’s jaw, to feel it against his throat. It’s not strange in its existence, but in its timing. Normally, Dick has a better handle on his urges. He winces as Constantine shines something bright in his eyes, frowning.
“Don’t think you’ve got a concussion, luv, but we need to get you out of here just in case.”
Zatanna’s still furiously lashing out with her magic, only getting angrier the more the witch dodges. She stumbles, summoning a shield just in time to deflect a fireball, but she leaves herself open…Too open.
He shoves her out of the way, letting out a pained moan as he’s cut open by a surge of magic he can’t see. Constantine manages to bind the witch with a furious, cutting motion, holding Dick up yet again. She smirks at them, before chanting rapidly:
"Tu ipse me transierunt,
et fecit me dolor,
I, respice super te,
cum multa meritorum,
hoc paululum dolum,
posuit in crassitudine."
Dick’s blood burns as it drips down his suit, glowing a malevolent black. He hisses, collapsing to his knees as Constantine curses. Something foreign surges into him, ripping through his system effortlessly and overtaking every impulse screaming at him to just run. He stares into the witch’s narrowed eyes, watching them widen in shock as fire engulfs her.
She screams, tears flooding her cheeks, but she turns to ash before she can even think of putting the flames out. The pain stops, and Dick shudders, glaring at Constantine weakly.
“No killing. You’re not ‘spose to kill in Gotham.”
Constantine rolls his eyes.
“You’re havin’ a bit too much fun playing damsel, luv. Don’t think we won’t be talking about you runnin’ off half-cocked at a bloody sorceress.”
Zee makes herself known with a grunt, sitting up and rubbing at her eyes.
“If that stupid bitch isn’t dead I’m going to kill her.”
Constantine offers her a hand, other arm still tight around Dick. She takes it with a wrinkled nose, staring at her torn garments in horror.
“Good. Blood really doesn’t come out of this outfit easily. Dick, you okay?”
Dick opens his mouth to speak, a cautious ‘I’m fine’ already on the tip of his tongue, but it’s like his stupid mouth has a mind of its own. “Actually, I’m feeling pretty shitty. I’m cold, in pain, my family hates me, my friends keep dying, and Damian’s only holding onto me out of some misplaced loyal—”
He claps a hand over his mouth roughly, wide-eyed, and frozen. Those are things he doesn’t say, thoughts ever lingering in the back of his mind. He doesn’t speak them, not when it could make them real, make them something he has to deal with…Fucking hell.
Zee looks taken aback, but Constantine just lights a cigarette nonchalantly, looking unsurprised.
“Truth spell,” he informs them through the cigarette. “My Latin’s a tad rough, but I thought I heard the bint say ‘veritatetum’ or something like it.”
This is bad. Really bad. The spell didn’t leave Dick the chance to censor himself like truth serum normally does, didn’t leave him room to twist his words or answer with half-truths. The words slipped off his tongue without hesitation, without delay. An advanced form of magical compulsion, one even Bruce’s paranoid teachings are helpless against. If they ask the wrong thing, he’s fucked. There are lots of things he doesn’t say, most of all with them.
“Don’t…” Dick tugs on his hair, hard enough for it to hurt. “Don’t ask me anything. I can’t not answer right now, and that’s…”
“We won’t,” Zatanna replies fiercely. “I promise. We’ll try our best not to…take advantage.”
Constantine nods his agreement, taking another drag.
“Well, I’m knackered. Let’s take you back to the House so we can get a bit of kip, and you can keep telling your porkies until we fix the bloody spell.”
“Bob’s your uncle,” Dick teases half-heartedly, slumping against him. Zee giggles, taking up Dick’s other arm. Constantine merely rolls his eyes.
The House of Mystery is a strange house Dick’s intimately familiar with. He thinks it’s fond of him, fond enough to light candles that smell like the ones his mother had used, and always have a fresh meal prepared when he enters. More than that, the House has followed him to Gotham before, after a long mission with Justice League Dark, and taken him away. Turns out Dick had had some mystical flu, and the House hadn’t let him leave until Zatanna and Constantine had cured him and he’d rested. It liked mother-henning him, in its little ways. So he shouldn’t be surprised when there’s a giant first aid kit and a ‘Congratulations, you’re a reckless moron!’ card waiting for him on the dining room counter. Today, the house is more opulent, all gleaming counters and cherry-colored glossy floors.
He’s always thought of the House as Alfred with an ego. Lord forbid the banisters remain unpolished, or the House will throw a tantrum (in the form of dumping Constantine in the Artic until he promises to do better).
“Even the House agrees,” Zatanna says after a pause, helping Constantine sit him in a chair and fetching the bandages. “That was a stupidly reckless stunt.”
“She was gunning for you, Zee,” Dick mutters, hissing as Constantine pulls the torn cloak off him. Mmm arms…Dick’s always thought it’s a shame Constantine keeps them covered, all that taut muscle and strength hidden under the stalker-staple trench coat. Practically a crime…annnd now he’s thinking of handcuffs. Bad brain. Bad. “You weren’t going to dodge in time.”
His arm is a lot worse than he’d noticed before. Six horizontal slices shaped like a claw mark, deep enough that Dick should probably be more worried than he actually is. He hopes they’re not infected. Infections suck ass.
“What the bloody hell were you thinking?” Constantine mutters, fingers tracing the edge of the wound.
Neither of them realizes his mistake until the words are pulled off Dick’s tongue effortlessly, painlessly, and Dick wishes he could put up more effort. Pain would mean this situation isn’t completely out of his control, so of course there’s no pain. Tonight just isn’t his night, not that it ever really is.
“I was thinking I’d rather risk myself than either of you and I know that if I get hurt at least you’ll both be safe. Fuck.”
That’s it. Dick’s moving to Antarctica. This weather has to have been decent training for living there, so he’s totally prepared… or maybe not. His wardrobe isn’t really designed for cold weather. Maybe he can bat his eyelashes at Diana a couple times and beg her to take him to Themyscira. Sure, he’s a man, but he can totally pull off a dress. Or a warrior dress. It’s not like he isn’t comfortable in leotards, so how different could the Amazonian uniforms be? Surely Auntie Diana will take pity on him, especially if he calls her Auntie Diana. It always makes her give him that soft smile he loves putting on her face. Besides, Donna owes him for helping her out with Kory, and he is definitely not above reminding her of that to save himself from facing the embarrassment of a loose tongue.
“Y’know what,” Dick says without looking at either of them, “I better check in with B! I’m sure he’s, uh, wanting to know—”
Somehow, he’d completely forgotten about the entire fucking point he’d been out on Christmas Eve. It’s official. Donna’s right. He’s an idiot. Fuck.
“About this?” Zee leans against the counter, casually holding the statue thing Bruce had sent Dick to retrieve in her hands. Her black-painted nails trace the statues delicate features absent-mindedly, and there’s something like a challenge in her gaze as it locks on to him. “We can drop it off at the Batcave, but you’re staying here until those cuts are healed and you get some rest.”
She hands the bandages to Constantine, daring Dick to question her.
“We,” Constantine says, spreading some sort of nasty smelling paste over the wound, “are more than bloody capable of dropping your reckless arse off at Xena’s apartment.”
“Besides,” Zatanna adds, watching Constantine’s hands carefully wrap Dick’s arm in bandages. He pulls them tight enough to pinch, but his touch is gentle, gentler than Dick’s ever known him to be outside of bed (soft and yielding beneath him). “Donna invited us too, so we’re all going together.”
Of course. Of course. Interfering bitch. She’d said she’d do something about Dick’s non-existent crush if he didn’t, and he should’ve known she’d been completely serious. Fuck. Alfred’s going to wash his brain out with soap, but oh fucking well.
Oh. Oh? Dick Grayson, a man of eloquence, everyone.
Constantine huffs, taping the bandage shut.
“You,” he says, “are going to lay in our bed while we deal with Bats. No arguments, git.”
“Sure thing, wanker.”
He doesn’t get more than an eye-roll from Constantine before Zatanna’s lifting him up in a princess carry like he weighs nothing more than a pillow. She presses a feather-light kiss on his forehead, leaving a red-tinted stick splotch of lip gloss on him that he loves too much to say. Makes him feel loved, even if he knows Zee doesn’t love him like that. And he’s always been turned on by strength, especially in being carried. He blames Kory for spoiling him with it, and Zee and Constantine for doing it every time he gets a papercut or any sort of minor injury.
Constantine leaves without much of a fuss, giving a two fingered salute before jumping through a swirling portal the House conjures to replace the front door. Zatanna carries Dick up the stairs to the bedroom he spent most of his time in when at the House. It’s almost tacky in its grandeur – a California king bed with gold linings embedded in the rich, glossy wood of the frame. Silk sheets with a thread count higher than Bruce’s checking account (or at least feels like it) and perfectly fluffed pillows that mold around your head to offer the best support. In other words, Dick is guiltily in love with it. Just a tad. Beds and bedsheets are two of the only things he’s willing to splurge on.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy some damn nice sheets and sleep is a vigilante’s true best friend (
“Are you going to be good?” she asks him softly as she lowers him onto the wonderful bed. “Or do I have to pin you down again?”
Dick flushes at the memory, recalling the feeling of her hips pinning him to the mattress and her hands on his arms. He likes the security in it, the comfort in losing control to someone he trusts. He doesn’t get many chances to let go like that, and Zatanna always seems to know what he needs before he does.
“Embarrassed, are we?” Zatanna smiles coyly, laying across him so her hair fans out on his chest. She likes laying on him, pressing her skin against his. She’s told him his warmth and solidity are comforting, more so than even Constantine.
“I could never be embarrassed of you or Constantine,” slips off his tongue before he can bite it down. She doesn’t jerk back from him the way he’d expect, all disgust and rejection and everything he’s been waiting for since the three of them started this thing. Her red-painted smile loses its edge, and there’s something soft in her eyes when she cups his cheek.
“I didn’t mean to make you answer,” she murmurs. “I don’t want you to tell me things you wouldn’t say otherwise.”
It’s not, but he hates that line of stress between her brows. It’s okay in that her intentions aren’t malicious, and she’s one of the few people he trusts to not take advantage.
Zee tugs on his suit meaningfully.
“We should probably get you out of this filthy thing.”
“I’m only wearing a cup underneath, and I didn’t bring a set of clothes.”
She shrugs, slipping it off his shoulders and letting it pool at his waist.
“You won’t catch me complaining, Man Wonder. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before and won’t be seeing as soon as I can.”
“Is your mind always on sex?” he jokes, hoping to cover up his reaction to her lingering hands as she pulls and tugs at the suit impatiently.
“With you and Constantine around, can you blame a girl?”
Dick presses a light kiss to her cheek.
“Of course not, Constantine’s pretty hot.”
Her lips curl into a satisfied grin, blue eyes lighting up.
“He is. I’m lucky.”
Dick’s grin dims at the reminder of their relationship. Two people in love, and he’s just the interloper taking whatever scraps they see fit to give.
“You both are,” he says softly, kicking his suit off onto the hardwood floor.
Zatanna pushes him back down onto the pillows without warning, straddling his waist with a familiar grin and eyes full of heat.
“We’re lucky to have you too, Dickie.”
Dick’s heart flutters, warmed by the insinuation, even if it’s only meant platonically. He loves sex in all forms but it’s softer moments like this – the intimate ones – that stole his heart and his breath and sold them to Zee and Constantine. They’re full of warmth and passion, so full of it that describing it is pointless. Dick can’t describe it, can’t describe how much they have to give and how much he wants to give to them. It’s beyond desire, beyond lust. He yearns for them, as old-fashioned as that may be. Body, heart, soul…He wants them on every level, wants their smiles in the morning and shitty jokes at night. Wants their petty comments and hypocritical worry over recklessness. He wants them every day, all day, all the time. And he wishes he didn’t.
A long, low whistle snaps him out of his thoughts, back into the wide blue eyes perched above him and the tangled black hair curtaining his face. Constantine leans in the doorway, arms crossed with a shit-eating grin in place.
“Party started without me, I see.”
It comes out as a low drawl, tangled in cigarette smoke and heated like conjured flames. Something in Dick stirs at Constantine’s voice, that familiar tone he’s heard say multitudes of things like ‘luv’ and ‘pretty boy’ and his favorite, ‘pretty bird’. That nickname came to be on the anniversary of his parent’s death, when Dick had forgotten about a planned hangout and sat at their graves starring unblinkingly at the familiar names in their cold stones. Constantine had lit a cigarette, pulled him close, and asked to hear about them. It’s one of his favorite memories, especially when Zatanna had shown up and the sex had been achingly sweet, painfully gentle. It hadn’t just been sex; it had been making love, cheesy as it sounds. Dick doesn’t make love often, if at all.
“Like what you see?” Zatanna directs at Constantine, and Dick manages to shove his fist in his mouth to stop the instinctive, ‘always’ desperate to leap off his traitorous tongue.
Constantine doesn’t answer, pushing himself off the doorframe and stripping himself of his shirt. He looms over them, miles of pale scars and toned muscle. Dick likes tracing the scars with his fingers, feeling the marks the world left on Constantine. Zee doesn’t have as many scars, and the ones she does have she keeps hidden with magic and makeup (which, to Dick, is a form of magic) but Dick is all scars.
His face is the only scar-free area on his body, everywhere else either has them, or has them healed. Gotham sunk her claws in him at a young age, and each villain had their own marks on him. Some scars were visible, and some weren’t, but he bears them all as badges of honor – signs of strength – because the self-hatred gets old after a while.
Constantine brushes his thumb across her lips, giving a pleased little grin when they part for him. Her tongue darts out to lick him, winking as she does so. Constantine strokes her cheek with the knuckles of his free hand, and Dick feels a surge of jealousy at the love clear in his eyes. He’s always wanted someone to look at him like that, like he’s their everything, but he supposes it’s not in the cards. Vigilantism isn’t a good career for stability, not when he could die any day. His scars run too deep for him to quit, and Gotham owns a part of him more than childhood dreams of having a family ever could.
Her nails trail down Dick’s bare chest, hard enough to leave little red lines where she lingers. She doesn’t look at him, but it’s normal for them. He tries not to look either, too afraid of what they might see in his eyes.
Constantine brushes some hair out of Zee’s face and leans past her, looking at Dick with something unreadable in his eyes. It’s a question of some kind, one Dick doesn’t know how to begin to answer, so he fists his hands in the blonde’s hair and tugs him down. Constantine kisses like he talks – half cutting, quick motions, and half long, languid drawls. It’s paradoxical and wonderful, and the overwhelming taste of tobacco is something Dick’s long since associated with Constantine and cravings. Constantine’s tongue teases Dick’s mouth, and Zatanna’s clever finger work to strip Constantine of his jeans.
“Missed this,” Constantine breathes into his neck, “missed you.”
Dick smiles into the kiss, one hand fisted in his blonde hair and the other cupping Zatanna’s still clothed waist. He pokes her, and she rolls her eyes but takes off her own shirt, leaving her in fishnets and a black lace bra he’s seen enough to recreate from memory. She hums, pressing kisses on both of them, nails dragging and marking pleasantly. Just the stinging edge of pain, the kind they love to share.
“Love this,” Dick murmurs, feeling lips pressing on his jaw. “So much.”
“You do,” Zatanna teases, “don’t you?”
“I love you, both of you,” falls from his tongue like benediction, like a prayer to the universe and an offering more than an utterance. It takes him a minute to register what he’s said, for the horror to seep into his skin as he realizes how monumentally he just fucked up. His heart pounds a frantic beat, and he’s panting more than breathing. It feels like a sucker punch to the solar plexus, like being run into by the Batcycle at 50 mph. It feels…
‘I love you, both of you.’
Dick had known from the start nothing could come out of this, nothing beyond friendship and orgasms and the occasional company to stave off the ache of loneliness, that gnawing cold-numb feeling that settled in his soul after his death and mission to Spyral. He shouldn’t be this surprised by the leaden weight that settles in his gut as the consequences dawn on him, as he realizes he’s going to be alone again.
He bucks his hips so Zatanna falls beside him with an ‘oof’, pushing away Constantine and not bothering to grab his torn and bloody suit. He can always get a new one, but his fragile heart can’t take the disgust he knows he’ll see in their eyes.
“RICHARD GRAYSON!” he hears Zee thunder dangerously, but he’s already out the bedroom door and making for the stairs. The House seems to be against the action because he finds himself running down an endless hallway of bedrooms he’s seen and some he hasn’t, with no hope of finding those stairs leading to the front door. He still tries, because he knows they won’t want him like that, he knows it, but fucking Bruce, and fucking magic, and fucking witches wouldn’t let him keep this, this little solace. This little sunspot he has outside of the gloominess that is the rest of his life.
Happiness is for normal people, those who don’t have more scars then skin, those who spent their childhood playing sports instead of training for war, those who grew up with parents that didn’t play hero in the night. Happiness was never in the cards for someone like him, not even the temporary kind.
“DNIB EHT ELOHSSA!”
Dick falls to the ground with a loud thud, heavy-duty conjured chains wrapping around him tight enough to throb. He can’t move at all, and he can hear two sets of footsteps pad towards him – one loud and angry (Zee) and one soft (Constantine) – as he curses.
She’s furious as she comes into view, red cheeks flushed and eyes sparking with it. Her hair’s swirling around her head a little bit – telltale sign of her emotions being a bit out of control along with her magic – and every protest dies on his tongue.
“How could you?!” she demands, and Dick feels shame sink its claws in him. “How could you think that I—that we—”
“I didn’t,” Dick says softly, hoping beyond hope that they’ll forgive him, that he won’t lose them completely. “I never thought anything would—that you would…”
He can’t say it, it’s still too raw. Too painful. He doesn’t want to deal with this, but they don’t seem to be offering him a choice. He squeezes his eyes shut, blocking out the deep, shaky breaths he takes and the pounding of blood in his ears. He ignores the shakiness in his hands, and the way he can feel his heart cracking a bit more with each beat of silence.
Constantine brushes his knuckles against Dick’s cheek, the same gesture he’d made for Zatanna not ten minutes earlier. Dick opens his eyes, wiping at the tears pooling in them furiously. He can’t read what he sees in Constantine’s own eyes.
“How could you,” Constantine starts, voice painfully gentle, “think that we could feel anything but bloody mad about you? How could you be barmy enough to think we haven’t been trying our damnedest to keep you here, with us, ever since you set up your bloody contract?”
“You…” It seems too good to be true, too fragile to be spoken out loud, but he has to know. For his own sake. “You…love me?”
“We both do,” Zatanna interjects. “We want you, idiot. We want you for as long as we can have you.”
Something in him settles, just a tad. Some puzzle piece slots in place and he feels a little less broken. A little less wrong.
“I love you,” he breathes, feeling the chains unwrap from him. He pulls them both into his arms. “God, I fucking love you both so much.”
“We love you too, pretty bird.”
“I can’t wait to rub it in Bruce’s face that we got you. And Jason’s. And Slade’s. And Midnighter’s. Honestly, we should just make notices, mail them out. Man Wonder off the market, property of the fabulous Zatanna and John Constantine.”
Dick stares at her.
“Jason? Slade? What are you—”
“Why don’t I get a posh title?”
“Because,” Zatanna says simply, “your ego doesn’t need the boost.”
“Oh my ego, Miss I-Don’t-Need-Help-Ever!”
“One word: Hell.”
His voice is lost amongst the familiar banter, and Dick Grayson wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Is it true you’re dating John Constantine and Zatanna Zatara now?” Bruce demands as soon as he enters the main foyer. He’s perched in a spinning armchair, and he turns around to face Dick like a stereotypical James Bond villain. Dick does not have enough liquor in his system to deal with this.
“Nope. Not today.”
Bruce’s eyes narrow on him.
“I am not discussing this with you right now.”
“So you are.”
“Please, for once in your life, I beg of you, mind your business.”
“I suppose Zatanna is a decent candidate, though Constantine isn’t the most stable.”
“He yelled at you?”
Bruce raises a brow at him, a move he’d definitely learned from Alfred.
“He lectured me on my ‘narcissistic obsession with controlling my children’.”
“He’s not wrong.”
“Are you at least being safe?”
Dick blinks at him, hoping he’s misunderstanding Bruce. When Bruce’s expression doesn’t change, he stares harder.
“Being safe,” Bruce supplies. “Threesomes are even more difficult to be prepared for, especially with—”
“No,” Dick says, horrified. “No. Nope. No. Not today Satan. Just no.”
And he turns around and walks right back out the front door. He can see Damian later, after he gets very very drunk and avoids Bruce’s eyes for the next forever. At least he’s not pining anymore.