The Unwritten Future

Summary:
Jul 28, 2014: Batgirl comes by to see Dragon after Barbara conspires to keep them apart for a few days. Dragon tries to explain what Barbara could not.

Gotham - Brickskeller Building

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A handful of days and nights have passed in the old Brickskeller building, a handful of days and nights since Oracle came by to speak with the new owner, Richard Drakonovski. It was a tense situation for him, a realization that perhaps he was living on borrowed time and embracing the ignorance of the situation. So what does one do in any such a case? They distract themselves. They focus on what they can't control and try to ignore what they can't. So Dragon found himself often in Chinatown, doing what he could for the Bat and the case that was given to him.

It has been a series of long nights ending in the morning. An investigation that has been fruitless and frought with danger. So this early morning he drops into the loft apartment of the Brickskeller from that entrance in the back shielded by the moved equipment on the rooftop.

He lands lightly upon the practice floor, dropping into a crouch and then gaining his feet slowly. No costume or uniform for him, he merely wears black in color. Black shoes, black turtleneck sweater, black canvas pants. It's all he feels he needs for now.

Without a thought he strips off that sweater and throws it aside, walking amongst the boxes in the residence, some opened some unopened.

It might take Richard a few moments to notice the scent of tea, a nice Assam, coming from the kitchen area. The lights are still out, but Cassandra's used to being in the dark. She's still got her costume top and pants on, the other portions of her costume draped over the back of one of the chairs. Well, it's progress, right?

The light from the kitchen window illuminates a half-outline of her. The left side that faces the window. Just curves and angles as she waits quietly.

It's perhaps a sign of his distraction that he didn't pick up on her presence earlier. So when he catches the scent of the tea, and that small feeling of displaced air that represents where she is standing in the room, a subtle shift of air pressure that he catches as he passes… he stops and turns to look at her.

At first she can see the smile that threatens to light on his features, a blossoming that's there for an instant. Then he suppresses it, to not allow it to show. It's just enough that he has that feeling, the wish to rush to her and take her in his arms. But some thought haunts him, that perhaps he does not have the right and should not have.

Instead he lifts his chin and nods to her from afar, his eyes gentle as he walks towards her. He gives voice to the feelings quietly. "I am glad to see you."

Cassandra Cain doesn't leave her perch on the counter, but her head cants over to the side. One of her hands, fingertips warm from the mug she's been holding reaches out to touch his cheek. She saw that smile that wanted to show. Why did he hide it? There is the flicker of worry then, unsurety. That she might have given him cause to chase away that smile.

Sometimes, being able to read another isn't such a good thing, is it? "You're… thinking. Heavy." She finally says, the words breaking the velvet quiet of the darkness.

At the show of affection she grants him she might see the way it gives him a faint cascade of relief. To anyone else it is imperceptible, nothing would give it away. But to her it's the slightest relaxation of muscles in his face, a slight ease of his stance. Relief and the warmth returning to be given freely to her as he lifts his own hand to clasp it to hers, letting him very lightly curl into her touch. He takes in a breath, then gives a nod to her in answer.

The room around them hasn't changed since she left. In fact she might see across the room that table where they sat together with Oracle. The cups of tea were there still untouched as well as the teapot, though their contents had long since evaporated. No footprints or hints of any steps were near it either, as if the entire time she's been gone he has avoided that area and the thoughts it would engender.

"I was worried." About Barbara, about you. About endings. It is so foolish on some levels he feels that he allows such to disrupt his peace, his cultivated serenity. But she is that important to him.
Cassandra Cain gives a slight grimace, no artifice or obfuscation in her. "Busy." She admits. Her 'job' is important to her. Then there's the tilt of her mouth in a smirk. "Barbara." Who kept wanting to 'just have breakfast' and then 'why don't you just stay here'. Or some other errands to keep her busy. Cassandra knew it wasn't an outright attempt to keep her from going to see Richard, just that the woman wanted Cass to take some time. Really, she could have just said so. It's not like she was fooling Cassandra.

Cassandra's thumb strokes the corner of his mouth as her hand cups his cheek. "I don't know… Girlfriend. Boyfriend." She gives another small grimace at that. She *did* spend some time watching young people in love and… she still doesn't really get it. It doesn't seem like what she has with Dragon. "Don't know… what makes it 'complicated'." She gives a slight shrug, and then there's something of a lopsided smile. "No training." She jokes.

Gently he lowers her hand, but keeps it in both of his, giving it a small squeeze as she speaks. When she mentions Barbara his smile turns a touch sardonic while he looks down, then away. A small memory of his own returning. When he looks back to her he shares it as he says, "Some time ago, when she had first been injured and I was training her. I took ill for a time, just a small flu. I have never had a student suddenly come into their own as that momen." Perhaps that was too long to convey what he means, so instead he says it plainly, "Barbara wishes to take care of those near her. It is why she does what she does. She is a protector amongst protectors."

But then he leans over and perhaps for the first moment reestablishes that easy rapport with her as he casually takes her cup of tea from her and steals a sip, smiling as he returns it. No permission asked nor given!

"But relationships. Men. Women. Us. It can be complicated."

There's not a hint of protest as he takes the tea, but perhaps some amusement as she sees his playful attention. She turns the cup, so when she sips it's from the same place his mouth touched. Her laughing eyes watch him all the while.

She nods of Barbara. "She's like… a mother. To me." But there's some unsurety in that, given that Cassandra never had a mother. Perhaps, more 'what I would have wanted a mother to be'. Though again, her perspective is so lacking.

When Richard finally speaks of the complication of relationships, she looks at him with those guileless eyes. "Why?" As though it's something simple, and as he best understands her, perhaps he'll be able to articulate it in a way that makes sense to her.

She can see his eyes slightly widen, and his brow knits together as the prospect of having to explain such things to Cassandra… they raise a spectre more threatening than many of the masters he's fought before. He's uncomfortable, but not from her, perhaps from the intimidating thing of trying to explain the entirety of human romantic interaction to her in a decent manner.

Perhaps on some level he had hoped that Babs would have helped her get some perspective on things. Then again, he does love her and so he will do what he can.
He opens his hand towards her, as if trying to give her the answers physically. But then he says quietly. "It is complicated. Because it is…" He lifts her hand in his, fingers interlacing as he murmurs. "A binding of lives together. It is the future. It can become family."

He pauses and then steps back from her, his hand easing away. Those brows are knit together again. Then he looks up and almost casually takes a swing at her.
She can see it before he uncoils in that strike, not enough to make her have to even get up, but she can make the block, the counter, then the counter-counter-block. It's an abrupt short /whap-whap-whap-thack!/ of movement that ends with him extending forward with his hand open with two fingertips touching her temple… yet leaving his chest terribly exposed. If they had been fighting for real it would have been an abrupt gamble to end the bout almost instantly.

Yet as she examines the pattern of movements she might realize that it was a risky difficult movement, that exposed his heart terribly to risk, but was such a great gamble that is may have been worth it.

Barbara tried, but unfortunately for the redhead what answeres she gave had few or no points of reference for Cassandra. The young woman is missing so much of what it means to be a 'normal' person, those formative years gone. Replaced with violence. Blood. Death.

The cup is easily set aside, and Cassandra makes the block, counters, follows the flow of movement without any kind of outrage at a man suddenly trying to hit her. Because if Dragon's trying to hit her, it is to communicate or share. Not in an attempt to do harm. Not that an onlooker would know the difference. Best they not 'talk' in public places.

Cassandra ends the exchange with her hand poised over his heart, fingers curled in set in a strike that had she planned to complete it, would punch her hand through his ribcage.
Still, she looks up at him with a slightly furrowed brow, innocent and trusting this close to someone who has better odds of killing her than most. "Why… risk?" Perhaps too innocent to think that love could ever end badly. That the Dragon could ever break her heart. Break her trust.

Closing his hand over hers again, he maintains that touch, as if loathe to let it go. Those greyish blue eyes hold hers as he seeks the words, seeks the movements that might convey to her. Slowly he lowers her hand back down and moves back, she will see him there in those dark clothes as he closes his eyes. He opens his hand towards her, then slowly he uncurls his arms fully to bring them around in a slow langurous movement, not fast, not powerful. Instead it is a movement that drifts through time as he takes that stance she is familiar with, the arms drifting through those pinwheels of motion easily as his leg slides out along the wooden floor. And once he drops down fully into that side split she'll see his hand come down, palm cupped as he slaps the floor to give that room its echo. That joyous greeting shared only between them.

His lips curl into a smile as he looks to her, perhaps expecting her to sound off against him in counterpoint…

And then he goes through the movement again, more passage of time… only this time his greeting is not as loud, the flesh of his palm striking yet the echo is softer…

Another time… the echo softens and it seems to take much from him.

Another time… the echo is silent. He does not move.

It's not something people see these days. That kind of innocence and trust in the face of someone with as many years as Cassandra has. She watches him and, in a way that trust it extending not only to a willingness to put her life in his hands so casually, but a faith that he'll make things clearly. Maybe not now, but eventually. That he will walk her through the steps she can't see to mimic.

She slips from the counter as he moves and as always, Dragon in motion is like poetry. Like a symphony. Like perfection. It's with deceptive ease that she slips into synch with him, in time for her hand to strike with his, their joined sounds filling the room.

And then again, the pace ever so slightly slower. Something that most wouldn't notice. The clap of sound diminished.

And again, she follows without any question. Without trying to figure it out. Letting the movement speak to her. The strike is softer even as limbs seem more weighted.
The last repitition seems… exhausting. The touch of hand to wood, the final rest a release of a heavy burden.

Cassandra holds that pose, and now there is a slight frown upon her lips. Her dark eyes raise to him and now… her gaze is troubled. A future she couldn't see made clear. A terrible possibility she would have never imagined.

Standing up slowly, he steps towards her quickly, taking her hand in his. He brings it to his chest once again, letting her feel the pounding of his heart, letting her know that right now he's alive and he is there. But then quietly he tells her softly, "We both live dangerous lives. Some day my voice will fall silent, Cassandra." He says as gently as possible, his own eyes troubled.

He shakes his head then adds quietly, "So long as I live, I am yours." A pause, then his brow knits as he tries to be _honest_ with her, to not tell her only half truths. So he says quietly. "Some day you may find a voice that calls to you. Those are the risks that we tempt."

But then he tries to grow stronger, his voice gaining warmth as he tells her. "But we also may grow old together. We may have children. Join our lives together. There is joy. There is pain."

There's still confusion etched into her features, that furrowed brow. The confused pain in her eyes. Words… words may never explain to her things to her on a level that she can truly comprehend.

Cassandra's hand tightens around his, and her grip can be crushing. Entirely out of proportion with her size, her height, her sex. She holds on. Clings to him. Mouth set in a grim line, she doesn't protest the possibilities he presents, even if she doesn't believe them, or can't comprehend of another 'voice' that she could hear that would call to her. She just… trusts. That the dangers he lays out are true. She tries to imagine, if there were another Dragon, what that might do and the answer is there, plain as day. She doesn't know. That's the uncertainty that Barbara tried to speak to her of.

She folds her smaller body in against his. Holds tight to his hand as she presses against him. Feels the solid presence of him.

That hand in hers holds firm, stable, a grip that she can cling to against all. When she moves close to him he curls his arm around her to let her mold her body to his even as he touches his lips to the top of her head. To Dragon's mind there are the three aspects of love, there is the joy that he has shared with her… there is the risk that he has taught her… and there is loss that their movements together have shown her. But some things can never truly be explained fully until one experiences them.

In that perhaps he too optimistically hopes that she will remain ignorant of them. At least they have this moment, they have the now.


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