All right and title in his natal day
by Te
February 21, 2007

Disclaimer: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers: Vague references to events up through No Man's
Land, in an AU way.

Summary: "Do you think I've started too young?"

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which dovetails
neatly with content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Part of the Everything Spring universe,
and probably won't make much sense without at least a
few of the others, notably Fret full sore.

Alternate title: Dysphoric Social Attention Consumption
Deficit Anxiety Disorder

Acknowledgments: To Petra for goading and audiencing and
encouragement and such. To Jack for audiencing and a
helping hand.

It's one of those -- really quite few -- occasions during which
Tim has found himself wondering if there might -- *might* --
not be some attraction to having a lifestyle closer to those of
his peers in high school. It's his birthday party, after all, and
if a higher percentage (or any percentage) of the people
present were inebriated in some way, shape, or form --

It would be easier to escape.

It's not that he doesn't appreciate the sentiment -- he
absolutely does. He hasn't really had a birthday party since
his first, and his memories of that one are, he thinks,
understandably vague.

Additionally, while he gets to spend most of nearly every day
with Jason, and while the two of them spend time with lots
of other people who share their... unofficial occupation, it's
definitely *something* to have Jason, Steph, Dick, Barbara,
*and* Batgirl all in the same room at once. Clark had
stopped by to give him his present -- two all-access passes
to the Metropolis Film Festival, and a very specific alarm
is thrumming in his pocket drive, which suggests that either
Helena had left still another present for him at their
appointed drop, or that the drop itself had been woefully

Jason hadn't let him go check.

And -- and sometimes, when he looks at the people in his
life, when he realizes that it's *his* life they're in, everything
starts to feel a little unreal -- thin, or maybe dangerous.

He's here because he preferred analog -- and noisy --
cameras to digital ones. All of this is because his mother
hadn't even known that the sort of digital camera he
would've used was actually *available* for purchase --
though only marketed to professionals at the time, and
the tenuousness of it is all too palpable at times like these,
with Steph dozing half on Dick's lap and Jason picking up
an impressive collection of bruises from his attempts to cop
a feel on Barbara, and Batgirl periodically looking at him like
she knows exactly what he's thinking, and finds it cute.

It feels tenuous and fragile and close enough to touch, and
even though he's intellectually aware that none of these
things are true, that the whole reason they know each other
is something which *can't* be tenuous --

The more time he spends like this, the more it feels like he
could ruin it all with a moment, or a word, or something,
anything, which would finally make everyone realize --

And, in terms of desire to escape, there's also the fact that
every time he comes close to thinking something Batgirl
would file under 'wrong,' he gets tackled very painfully by
her or Jason or both of them.

He's almost sure it's not subversive of his particular paradise
to be a *little* tired of Barbara's habit of shooting him with
tranquilizer dart 'blanks' every time Batgirl puts up the 'pile
on Tim' signal.

For all that it's clearly well-meaning, he has the strong
suspicion that, should he forget himself and wear a short-
sleeved, collar-less shirt to school on Monday, he will
almost certainly have to try to convince a guidance
counselor that his perfectly understandable mild-to-moderate
teenaged depressive syndrome had not led him to the
tragedies of drug addiction.

He will pee in a cup for Batman, but this is where he draws
the line.

Sometimes he thinks that the fact that he can, well, think
about things like this while Jason is simultaneously tickling
him and having a slap-fight with a newly-invigorated Steph
is one the reasons that -- well.

Lately, Jason hasn't seemed really --

Lately, it feels like he and Jason aren't really connecting the
way they used to, for all that phrasing it that way makes him
feel eminently ridiculous. And the thing is, he knows that, at
least, *has* to be his fault --

"God, where *are* you? This is your party, freakboy!"

-- because Jason keeps saying things like that, which
*should* just feel like the usual thing, like the continuation
of Jason's haphazard -- if thorough -- curriculum of turning
Tim into a normal boy (meaning: more like Jason) and less
like... something. "I'm just... I just like being here," he says,
and then feels even stupider and more wrong-headed,
because for a reason he can't even begin to fathom right
now, *that* makes Jason give him the kind of kiss --

"Aww, man, I just want to put a big rainbow heart around
their heads when they do that," Steph says, which makes
Babs say,

"You realize that Jason is hoping this turns at least one of us
on," which makes Dick say,

"Is it working?"

And so it's Dick's turn for the darts and the tackles, and the
opportunity is there to escape, but the timing's all wrong.

Still, if he gets at least eighty percent of them interested in
watching one of the terribly-written but physically accurate-
or-at-least-plausible martial arts films Jason collects, there's
a chance of darkness, diminished focus, and, thus, escape.

An hour and seventeen minutes later, he's amusing
(distracting, rationalizing) himself with the internal
composition of a very particular fan letter to Jet Li and
moving through the manor like it's potentially dangerous

Which is, of course, still another kind of wrong, or at least
'ill-fitting' -- it's not that they've ever spoken it aloud or
made it official in any way, but he and Jason have never
let even the slightest amount of serious training make it up
the stairs from the Cave, but --


And the thing is, while the fact that he's only in his room for
ten minutes before he realizes that 'alone' isn't actually what
he wanted is just as much as he deserves -- it's a fact. And
it's not that the others *wouldn't* let him get away with
excusing his absence with some desperately transparent lie
about dozing off in one of the minor bathrooms --

He can't.

He's considered -- deeply and seriously -- the possibility that
a great number of the things which he prefers to consider
'preferences' or, at worst, 'quirks' are, in fact closer to
'neuroses.' It's just that he hasn't had very much time,
inclination, or even encouragement to do much about

As an example: most of the time, when Jason calls him
some variety of 'freak,' he's looking at Tim like it really
means... something really good, and special. Like maybe
Jason's thinking about noisy cameras, too.

It feels like the worst kind of selfishness to think it -- or,
well, to remember it -- but he'd actually been hoping that
Jason wouldn't want to *do* the big birthday-party thing,
and that they would just do one of their 'technically it's the
night off' things, like paying some of the prostitutes to go
watch double-features with them, or leaving secret cupcake
packages at shelters, or trying to coordinate their ice cream
flavors (well, *his* ice cream flavors, because changing
Jason's is like trying to get Bruce not to act like a complete
moron in public *all* the time) with the colors of the

Maybe make Steph come with them, or Dick, or -- well,
*any* *one* of them.

Leslie would probably glare him into developing pancreatic
cancer if he so much as thought this *near* her, but --

He's about as well-socialized -- well-*adjusted* -- as a
busload of autistic children. There are people -- and
not-technically-still-people -- locked up in Arkham who are
better socialized than he is.

There are a *lot* of people locked up in Arkham who are
better socialized than he is, and while sometimes this is a
kind of a perverse comfort -- look where socialization gets
you! -- it's his birthday, and he's afraid to go back to his
birthday party, and --

And he doesn't, actually, have to go back there to not be
alone. The fact that Alfred is out with Leslie -- Alfred is a
genius at scheduling -- tonight even sort of makes it a little
better, because --

Well, he isn't the *only* social idiot in the manor, and if
Alfred even suspected that he might go hide in the idiots'
bunker (which is sometimes the study, most often the Cave,
and Bruce's bedroom the rest of the time), he would come
up with any number of brilliantly diabolical ways to chase
them *both* out.

Tim's reasonably sure that Alfred would even be satisfied if
Bruce chose to just go out on patrol *again* -- at least he'd
have to interact with people in *some* way.

He is -- entirely aware that Alfred is not overly cruel. Most
of the time.

In any event, idiots often just have their own way of doing
things, just a different *set* of confusing and often actively
anti-intuitive ways of communicating things to others of
their species.

As an example:

It had taken some effort on Jason's part to make Tim
understand that "God, you're such a freak," when spoken
in a certain *quality* of an aggressive tone and
accompanied with a certain *quality* of moving away in
fact translated to "we should kiss now."

As a corollary, he's explained to Jason at *least* a dozen
times that a combination of observable phenomena like --
just as an example, of course -- a closed bedroom door
through which no sound whatsoever can be heard
combined with the escape of a sliver of warm light from
underneath the door meant precisely the opposite of "go
away as quietly as you can."

Sure, Tim can understand how it might seem that way, but
it's the manor and it's *Bruce*. He'd filed that door to an
uneven fit in the jamb himself sometime, perhaps, before
either he or Jason was even born, and also it's *Bruce*,
who is entirely capable of sitting silently alone in the dark
staring into the black nothingness of existence, or perhaps
simply planning better weapons, or uniform design

One day, Jason will understand that.

Until then, Tim can't help feeling more secure with, well,
everything, that *he* already understands, and that it's
something he doesn't even have to think about to just
*open* Bruce's door (you knock if it's *dark*) and walk in.
Bruce doesn't look up, or even away from what he's
reading -- it appears to be a novel -- but the question is
written all over the way he reaches -- again, without looking
up -- for the nearest chair to the one in which he's sitting
and moves it closer.

It's one of the newer chairs -- Tim knows that Alfred has
what he still considers to be Bruce's 'real' bedroom in
museum-perfect condition tucked away in a part of the
manor to which reporters are *not* allowed to visit, and
sometimes wonders how he feels about the fact that
Bruce doesn't usually sleep there, even though it *is*
mostly just them. -- and so it doesn't feel like a crime
against social class to sit with his feet tucked beneath

Barbara has her own 'quirks', and Tim had received his
birthday beating from *her* with escrima sticks to, among
other places, the quads. Tim stretches them, and also his
neck, and tugs his sleeves down over his new 'track
marks' --

"Those might be useful for undercover work," Bruce says,
and turns a page.

"It feels somewhat like 'asking for it' to say this, but… I may
still be a bit too scrawny to pass for a heroin addict."

"Hmm," Bruce says, and the part of him which agrees with
Jason more often than not relaxes, because, despite logic
and nearly a year of investigation and close-up observation,
that part needed Bruce to laugh, a little, before *really*
feeling welcome.

Perhaps he's developing something of a dual-citizenship.
Or -- not that much. Perhaps he's close to being
naturalized to the country of (mostly, considering) normal

"I suspect that I would have to be somewhat smaller,
younger, and more inclined toward martial-arts films in
order for that comment to truly be 'asking for it,' Tim," and,
from this angle, Tim can see that Bruce is reading faster
now. Perhaps he's near the end of the chapter.

"Possibly -- I think one could do worse than to receive the
lion's share of their socialization from Jason," he says, and
feels obvious and --

"And that's why you're here, instead of at your own birthday

-- obvious. That really wasn't a question. Tim eschews the
nod Bruce doesn't need and goes back to the limited
stretching. It may *feel* like a year ago, but he'd actually
patrolled last night. Tonight. He'd learned early on to ignore
the blandishments of endorphins and happiness and
*maintain* himself.

"Hm," Bruce says -- not a laugh, this time, and places his
finger between the pages --

"You don't have to stop --"

"And you can talk to me about… it, if you wish."

It's one of those moments he's not sure if he's supposed to
enjoy or not -- or who he could ever ask -- with Bruce,
because, well, the fact that Bruce is using euphemistic
language and construction to hint -- however strongly --
that Tim can open up about social awkwardness kind of
says it all. And the smile in Bruce's eyes says they both
know it, just in case Tim hadn't already figured it out for

"Or I could finish this chapter and you can be at least a little
more completist about your stretching."

"I think that's fair," Tim says, and takes the opportunity to
try one of the seven hundred million things Dick can make
look natural but are absolutely not -- not *quite* tumbling
off the chair onto the gossip-rag perfect thick pile of the

He lands well enough and close enough to the position he'd
wanted to end up in that he's not tempted to wander over
to the headboard and, well, head-board, but he still suspects
he looked a lot more like a terrifyingly drunk teenager than
an acrobat.

And, well, exercising -- even just stretching -- in here as
opposed to the Cave is, technically, breaking his unspoken
promise with and to Jason, but it has to be different if
Batman's right there making it a half-spoken *order*, even
if he is just Bruce.

It's a shame that he won't really be able to mention how
good some of the stretches feel against carpeting as
opposed to the mats, though.

Bruce is finished with his chapter of -- Thinking In
Pictures, by Temple Grandin, he can see out of the
corner of his eye -- long before Tim's finished with the
stretching, but that's not really a surprise. Even Tim can't
tell the difference between 'Bruce is evaluating,' 'Bruce is
watching and evaluating,' and 'Bruce is evaluating while
thinking of something completely unrelated to anything
save the Mission, however tangentially,' but it's not
because Bruce hasn't given him -- all of them -- all kinds
of practice.

He's considering staying on the floor -- which his four a.m.
brain is more and more fond of with each passing moment --
but Bruce has his hand on the arm of the empty chair.

It's not an order -- not even an unspoken one -- and that
makes it even more necessary to be in the chair, even if he's
not sure *why* Bruce… well, wants him there. He knows he
doesn't have to try in order for the question to be all over
him, so he doesn't.

"It always makes me feel like a clumsy parody of my father
to speak to someone sitting tailor-style on the floor," Bruce
says -- *just* as Tim's settling in, which is pretty unfair,
when you think about it.

Bruce really ought to know by now that if he plans on
mentioning parents -- anyone's parents, even and especially
his *own* parents -- while also smiling, that deserves a little
warning --

"I apologize," he says, and because he's still smiling, it
means… something Tim can't quite parse, but has a lot to
do with the little (and huge) things Bruce does -- usually
from a distance -- that are at least a little about making
sure Tim knows that Bruce likes having him here.

Which -- "You know I --" He doesn't know how to say he
knows, and he can't figure out how to *make* himself say
he's glad. But -- he still hasn't thanked Bruce for the
*present*. He really is an idiot.


"I was just -- I'm really going to enjoy constructing the
'Sparrow' you left the schematics for on -- on my main
hard drive. I wanted -- thank you," he says, and has a
moment to wonder what it says about him that it's
starting to get hard to communicate with *Bruce*.

Sure, Jason always *jokes* about there being no hope for
him, but there's such a thing as *too* pathetic.

"Just -- I know just the high-resolution cameras to use,"
and if he's talking to the carpet, at least he's still talking,
"but I'm not really sure, yet, about how I'd manage
adding the explosive charge without losing too much of
the Sparrow's lift and, well, mechanical 'stamina' to let it
really fly --"

"I've had… a few thoughts in that direction," Bruce says,
and it's too much of an invitation for even his idiot brain or
self or soul or whatever to ignore.

Jason's told him -- more than once -- that he's a little scary
when he smiles the way he *knows* he's doing now, but he
also says that it's only because he doesn't do it very often,
so it's fine, and maybe better than that when there's
something behind Bruce's eyes which looks like the good
kind of surprised. "I mean -- I'd really enjoy working on it
with you. If you --"

"I would," Bruce says, and the way he says it and the way
everything in his posture seems to… 'loosen' isn't really the
right word. It's not that he's lying -- Batgirl (who is always
Batgirl, and knows that he thinks of her that way, and he
thinks maybe likes him more because of it) has taught him
so many ways to tell that he thinks even *Bruce* couldn't --
it's just that there's so much more there…

He doesn't know, but it feels like all the things he and Jason
still wind up babbling to each other about Bruce when it's
too good between them for them to have shame.

Neither Jason nor Batgirl have managed to teach him how
to not blush, yet, though, so he's not really surprised to
find that he's been looking at the carpet again -- even
though the realization doesn't kick in until Bruce has him
by the jaw and, not incidentally, looking at him again.

"I --"

"I would like for you to tell me why you're *here* tonight,

Instead of where he belongs -- except no, because that's
what would be behind the words of a lot of different kinds
of people, possibly even *most* people, but Bruce hasn't
ever been… common. "It's not that I don't appreciate the
party, I mean, that they all wanted to have one for me,
and it's -- it's kind of overwhelming, actually --"

"You were feeling overwhelmed and so you came to see me
at four in the morning…?"

Tim can't help smiling a little, maybe especially because it
makes the skin of his face pull against Bruce's fingers. "I'd
have to be somewhat larger, older, and more inclined
toward the casual use of profanity --"


"-- to find that strange."

"Tim," Bruce says, and it's one of the voices he uses when
they aren't touching at all, and won't be for some time, so
it's a little vertiginous, "you know you're always welcome
here, but…"

"You think I should go back…?"

And Bruce's smile makes it all the way to his mouth --
slightly, and he takes his hand from Tim's jaw after one
last tap with his index finger. "I think any number of people
with both wisdom and experience on the subject… might
suggest something of the kind. Perhaps."

"You could very well be wrong, of course," and the smile
doesn't want to leave his face, at all.

"It's been known to happen. However, what I *truly*


"Is that it's fascinating to find myself, at this late date,
acquainted with someone who enjoys being in my presence,
who finds it soothing --"

"I --"

Bruce doesn't hold up a hand, and doesn't have to. "Who
finds it *soothing*, even when I'm reasonably sure I'm
not being at all welcoming."

Which is a point. The fact that Bruce is being, right now, like
every story Jason told him about the stories Dick had told
*him* doesn't change or even shift the fact that he doesn't
have to think very hard to come up with occasions where
he's just sort of stayed around Bruce for an hour -- or
hours -- when the man hadn't done more than acknowledge
his presence and eventual departure.

But -- well…

"People like us can't be all that rare, Bruce, I mean --"

"People like us…?"

It's tempting to talk to the carpet again, but it's not like he's
here to work up the courage to seduce the man again, and
anyway, more and more there are times when Bruce's
questions for him lack anything resembling the Socratic
method. They're just… questions. For him.

So he takes a page from Jason and also from Dick, and
maybe some from Steph, too, stands up, offers Bruce his
hand, watches it get swallowed by one of Bruce's warm,
hard, and only-smooth-because-of-rigorous-maintenance
ones, and tugs until Bruce follows him to the bed.

Once they're sitting down, Tim's starting to feel more than
a little self-conscious, but he pushes inside until he can
make himself lie down on his side. Bruce follows his lead,
and maybe he is trying to seduce the man, or he was, or
he wants to. Why --

But he has something to *say*, so he pushes that aside.

"Okay, when I think about it, yeah, it's not just the social
idiocy question --"

"Is *that* what the kids are calling it these days…?"

"How would I know? And also, it's really disturbing when
you do the… Brucie… thing. Out of nowhere."

"So I've been told," Bruce says, and cups Tim's cheek and
just leaves his hand there, long enough for Tim to think
that maybe he's just *going* to leave it there until Tim
moves it.

And then Bruce kisses him, slow and warm and -- different.
It's not a teaching kiss, or a testing kiss, or even a
questioning kiss. It's just a kiss, and Tim's too confused
about whether he's turned-on or terrified, or both, or some
combination, or what the ratio is --

He's pretty sure he makes a sound, but it's just a small one,
and the kiss doesn't change back to any of the familiar
ones, and suddenly Tim's hot all over. Just -- *suddenly*,
like those few times when they've been training in the snow
and Jason goes from bitching about the cold to making out
with him with no transition Tim's ever been able to discern.

It's still incredibly sexy, and it's still kind of scary, and he
doesn't realize it's over until Bruce says,

"Please, continue," and brushes Tim's lower lip with his
thumb, and Tim can see that his mouth is several inches
away again.

"I -- I'd like to ask… um." Something. Definitely something.

"Was that all right?"

And again, it's still just a *question*, and it's probably
disturbing, or will be disturbing, and it's almost certainly
wildly inappropriate, but Tim is abruptly positive with every
remotely worthwhile part of his mind that, at some point
when Tim wasn't paying attention, Bruce had stopped
seeing him, or being able *to* see him, as even that sort of
kid-lite (kid-prime?) thing that inexperienced Robins seemed
to get.

At least according to Jason.

But Bruce needs an actual answer to that, so, "it was kind
of -- thrilling. On a lot of levels. And -- I'm going to continue
in a minute, I promise."

"I'll be patient, then," Bruce says, and proceeds to do just

"Anyway, it's not just the social idiocy thing. Obviously, we
make up a relatively small part of the given population,
but --"

"I don't want to interrupt you, again, but…" Bruce's frown is
slight, but present.

"Is it the way I keep saying 'social idiocy?'"

"No, not at all. You'd mentioned needing to ask me
something -- presumably about the kiss?"

"Oh, no, you've already answered that question. Wordlessly,
but -- ah. You did." He really did.

Bruce brushes his thumb over Tim's mouth again, and the
smile in his eyes is private, but not secret. "All right," he
says, and he -- He's… happy.

And he really, really answered that question. Tim nods,
once, and loses a little time to the feel of Bruce's thumb
pushing his upper lip away from his teeth with the
movement of Tim's head, and the sense-memory of Jason's
dick, and -- and then he focuses. "A relatively small part of
the population but, well, the population sample is that of
the entire *human* population, so, not that small, all things
considered. But then there are the -- ah -- other concerns."

"Alfred's always *seemed* concerned, certainly…"

If he were Jason, he'd say something about how 'Brucie'
makes his dick soft, and maybe also causes his testicles to
shrink to painful little cherry pits, but he's not, and Bruce --

"Hmm… noted."

Bruce gets the point just the same. "In any event, the 'other
concerns' in question shrink the sample catastrophically,
long before we even consider matters of class, geography,
and the difference -- in terms of truly *available* diverse
social interaction -- between Gotham City and Bristol."

Bruce's nod slips them back, a little, into the familiar.
Assuming any of them go to graduate school, it's possible
they'll be able to defend a dissertation while also power-

"I guess it just all boils down to that, through circumstances
or… population theory, I guess we're rare enough. The fact
that I haven't had the 'opportunity' to spend much time
figuring that out for myself doesn't mean I don't… recognize
a good thing -- or a soothing thing -- when I see it."

"Mm. And, perhaps, one day you'll truly believe I see the
same… things?"

He's blushing again. It's not that he doesn't *believe* --
it's -- he doesn't think he has nearly as many self-esteem
issues as the people around seem to think he does, and,
in the end, the way Bruce is *stroking* Tim's lip with his
thumb, now, is both distracting *and* kind of goading.
"Well," he says, "it's common and well-studied theory that
many different areas of perception narrow as we age,
Bruce --"

It's not that he'd had anything to say after that, so much as
that it's actually hard to think with periods -- much less
*speak* with them -- when Bruce does things like rolling
him onto his back, kissing him *hard*, pausing, and then
rolling them both until Bruce is on *his* back and kissing
him again.

And again, and some of the kisses are so much like the ones
Jason gives him when they've both had a couple of orgasms
and have worked out enough of the adrenaline that all
Jason really wants to do is kiss them both asleep --

It's impossible not to blush, but, at this point, Tim's
reasonably sure that the *flush* is making things

Bruce is stroking Tim's sides through the shirt, and
periodically squeezing, and there's no really comfortable
way for Tim to arrange his legs -- Bruce is too big for
that -- as opposed to several different really sexy ones.

Tim settles for straddling Bruce's hips, stretching a little
wider than he has to, enough to feel spread out and a little
dirty and maybe also sexy, too.

Moreso once Bruce cups his ass and squeezes, even though
it seems to come with a loss of kisses.

"Shall I --"

"Yes," Tim says, and knowing how desperate it sounds
makes things even better, even though now he's blushing
hard enough to feel feverish, and a little off. It doesn't
last --

Both of Bruce's hands are on his ass, now. "What I was
going to say, Tim -- I'd very much like to begin giving you
some of what I've been euphemistically considering as
something like an unofficial birthday present."

And there are a lot of parts of that sentence Tim would --
could happily -- spend a great deal of time thinking about,
but. "Considering…?"

"In detail, and with great pleasure."

Every time Bruce says the word 'pleasure,' (Tim has counted
'4,' and every time they've been alone, and -- like *this*) it
gets more difficult to imagine the word being used to refer
to anything non-sexual without the user being either
woefully ignorant, perverse, or some combination of both.
"You… you think about -- with me -- I."

"Mm. Perhaps I'm a narcissist…?"

It takes a moment to parse -- it would've been shorter
without the squeeze that makes Tim buck, this time, but
not by much -- that back to Tim's use of the phrase 'people
like us,' and by then --

By then, he just -- wants.

"Yes," he says, and is still clear enough in his own mind that
he knows he just agreed with Bruce about being a narcissist,
but he's not clear enough to care.

Bruce is *smiling*.

"Yes -- I --" He gives up and focuses on unbuttoning his
shirt --

"*Don't* fold it."

There's a part of him which really *wants* to use that as an
excuse to do something like Jason or Dick -- toss the shirt
at Bruce's face or maybe whirl it around like a parody of an
exotic dancer. And just -- wanting that, even a little, makes
him lose the thread a little, because it's not like he can
actually do it, because Bruce is --

It would require that he somehow be unaffected, or at least
a lot *less* affected by the way Bruce is looking at him, the
way Bruce is just so -- *here*, as though it's nothing for
him to be obviously directing so much of all that focus on
him, *sex* with him.

He's aware that he's had the shirt hanging between his right
hand and -- still *on* his left wrist for some indefinable
period of time, that he's basically just *staring*, and
probably looks several times more --

'Scared' isn't the word. 'Freaked out' is probably more
accurate, despite how self-conscious he'd feel if he tried to
say the words.

He knows he looks several times more freaked out than he
feels, and that Bruce would be picking up… maybe all of it?
Does Bruce *know* that he's not as freaked out as he
looks? *How*?

Tim gives up on figuring that out, too, takes off the shirt the
rest of the way, and just lets it drop beside them. "I --"

Nothing. Absolutely nothing, because the *moment* the
shirt is settled in a wrinkling pile of itself, Bruce's hands are
on his chest, fingers testing at his still kind-of-pathetic
obliques, dragging down slow and -- when did he start
sweating? -- down to his navel, scratching at his abdominal
hair --

On his nipples, and this isn't new in any way, but the
sensation always is, even though it *isn't*. The same
always-brand-new-and-shocking *spike* of sensation, the
same mix of itch and pain and -- *good*, and of course he
can't keep his hips from rocking, grinding --

"Tell me, Tim. Please."


So much --

"I --" Again, *how*? And Bruce lets him know that he's just
shaking his head dumbly by catching him lightly by the jaw
again, by the way the motion causes Tim to drag his mouth
against Bruce's fingers --

By the way the motion makes him open his mouth --

("*Fuck*, yeah, Tim, suck 'em, suck *me* --")

The noise Bruce makes -- this is how he knows he's an idiot,
broken somewhere important -- it makes him *stop* --

But Bruce just pushes in another finger, and three is big
enough to stretch, make Tim *feel* himself sweating --

"So open for me, now, please -- tell me, Tim --"

And he sucks hard and closes his eyes, but Bruce isn't Jason,
no one is and most people could get a lot closer than Bruce
ever *could*, and the slide of Bruce's fingers out of Tim's
mouth, down his chin and chest --

The pattern Bruce is drawing in drying saliva is infinity, or
maybe a domino, or maybe both, and now Tim wants to
laugh, too, and he *would* be if his throat could manage
more than hitching moans.

His back is too cold in this position, his limbs too -- *free*,
but it only takes Bruce a moment to follow when Tim rolls
off, down, and the sound Bruce makes is distracted and
pleased, and Tim's body is wonderfully stupid enough, at
this point, for the kiss to feel like the breath he's been
needing to take, like something --


Soothing enough that when Bruce pulls back, this time, Tim
can take a real breath and say,

"I don't know how people get -- how sex gets to be so
*easy* for people. For *you*. That's all," and when he
reaches for Bruce he's warm, covered --

("Fuck, you know, sometimes I think Bruce and Alfred must
be spiking my food with something because I grow so fast,
but Bruce is just still so *big*, just -- all over --")

All over him, and still with the -- the presence of *mind* to
touch Tim in what feels like are exactly the ways he wants
to touch, when Tim can't even figure out if he wants to
stroke at Bruce's shoulders and upper back or just clutch, if
he wants to strain his abs to *work* his hips or just be
there, if he wants the hair on Bruce's outer thighs to tickle
at his own or --

He doesn't know, and it doesn't seem possible *to* know.
That's -- that's what he wants to say, and Bruce pulls back
when Tim pushes, and Tim says, "it just doesn't seem
plausible, given the limits of short-term memory and the
amount of -- of endorphins, the proven hormone spike --"


"Well, we know that all of those things -- well, that they
generally impair the ability to form plans, even small plans
along the lines of 'I want to have sex with the person with
me in the following ways, but not in these other ways which
I also usually enjoy.'"

"You have an intriguingly low amount of faith in -- and
susceptibility to -- instinct," Bruce says, and frowns briefly.

"Well… probably, but… what is it?"

"Did you want me to continue?"

It's somewhat reminiscent of the way it was with Jason in
the beginning. Jason seemed to have a series of complexly
interconnected flowcharts about sexual process and
progression fully memorized, and had a habit of stopping
and checking -- *too* carefully and thoroughly, it sometimes
seemed -- whenever he thought he'd crossed a line Tim
couldn't even fathom. But -- Bruce isn't Jason. "No, of
course not, I…"


It's something like inspiration. "Am I being… distracting in
the wrong sort of way?" He knows there are right ways.

"Hmm. Perhaps if more of the things I had been… actively
considering for this particular night had involved your

And that's -- "Oh. Bruce that's… really arousing --"


"As is -- you're filing the thought *away*, but that's also
exactly what I was -- was talking about --"

"Yes?" Tonally, there's nothing especially -- anything about
it other than the mild but genuine interest, but Bruce's lips
were brushing against his throat, and the feel of his breath
is making the room seem --

It seems like it's possible for the continuum of temperature
to be circular, as if there's a point, a degree at which it's
possible to be too hot and too cold at once, as if -- "The --
physical confusion, the confusion in general --"

"Keep going," Bruce says, and the swipe of his tongue at
Tim's suprasternal notch is light. Teasing -- promising.
Bruce has, in the past, pushed hard enough there with his
tongue to make it difficult -- *wonderful* -- to just breathe,
and --

And he's supposed to continue. "It -- it *starts* at a -- a
level --"

"Quite high," Bruce -- *breathes* against his right nipple.

"Y-yes -- oh, harder --"

"I don't want you to lose focus --"

"It's -- it's something I've been considering for quite -- a --
a -- while, I -- won't. I can't --"

The scream was small to begin with, and becomes smaller
at the scrape of Bruce's teeth, becomes blank *air* at the
slow and entirely discernible increase in pressure.

"High to begin with, and the confusion -- the sense of
being… unfocused -- Bruce, your hands --"

On him. Just --

"Yes -- I -- when you squeeze my hips --"

"Like this?"

"Yes, *please* --"

"Hmm. Keep going --"

He wants to continue the previous thought, even though it's
tangential at best. It just seems *important* for Bruce to
know how -- *amazing* it feels when he cups and squeezes
Tim's hips, the way it feels like he could move Tim's pelvis,
like that one part of himself is so perfectly *containable* --
"I -- I -- Bruce --"

"Shh, it's all right, there are going to be limits to how --
clear you can be, but there will also be," he says, and
presses just enough kisses below Tim's navel to lose
count, "other opportunities…"

"The -- sense of urgency -- another factor in the -- original --
your *tongue* -- equation --"

"One hopes," Bruce says, and breathes against the saliva on
Tim's abdomen less purposefully than thoughtfully. "If I
suck you now, will you be able to continue speaking?"

"No," he says, because honesty kicks in before calculation
*sometimes*, no matter what Jason has to say about it.

"A dilemma --"

"You could -- we could --"

"I could ask what you'd like," Bruce says, and for a moment
it seems almost tragic that Bruce is settling in on his side,
even though Tim's body temperature seems to be regulating
itself again.

"You'd mentioned a -- plan," and the tragedy becomes
ridiculously obvious at the feel of his own fingers not *quite*
working open his pants.

"A number of them, to be fair, Tim. And yet," Bruce says,
and covers -- stills -- Tim's hand with his own. "It is your

The noise he makes is the -- precise kind of terrible which
makes Bruce tighten his grip -- slightly -- and.

And Jason never looks *that* kind of impatient, and maybe
never even feels it. Even if he's not getting -- or doing --
exactly what he wants to do, Jason's always *working* on it,
at least in terms of sex.

"I want -- I want to know what you want. To -- *feel* --"

"Mm. I believe I could seem plausible -- even entirely
unsuspicious -- were I to say, or imply, in some way, that
I found *that* implausible," Bruce says, and spreads his
own fingers enough to expose Tim's, and expose them to
a dry kiss and the wet swipe of Bruce's tongue.


"And yet, it seems to go against the spirit -- if not the letter --
of indulging the… birthday boy."

"That phrase -- it makes me think more about cake frosting
than sex, Bruce."

"Why limit yourself?"

"What --"

"Nothing, I --"

And Bruce pulls Tim onto his side, close enough to *feel*
the deep, almost entirely internal laughter. Close enough to
make the next kiss -- overwhelming. The Bruce-centric
definition of same, where there's abruptly nothing Tim
*can* sense which isn't at least related to the raw physical
*fact* of Bruce --

("It's almost *unfair*. You're all set to deal with how fucking
sexy it is that he *is* who he is, and then you stop and
*look* at him --")

This time it takes a moment for him to pull back when Tim
pushes, and it's hard to remember what he wants to say --
until he realizes that that *is*, almost, what he wants to say.

"I wanted -- there's. It's my birthday, so you should --
indulge me by letting me --"

"Indulge *me*? How do you know you aren't already?"

"Well, I -- my pants weren't open a moment ago, and now
I can't -- your hand -- "

"Would you masturbate for me, if I asked?"

He'd only thought the temperature thing was back to normal.
"I -- do you want --"

"Tell me."

This time it is, actually, the exact same voice he would use
for "another ten," or "take point," and he -- Tim can't --
"Batman --"

"Tell me," Bruce says, again, and Tim can't remember
anymore how much of it was fantasy and how much of --
*it*, the gauntlets, the *car* -- how much of it's actually
real, even though he *knows* they've never --

It's always been right here, in this bed --

"Do I need to help you focus?"

*Yes*, but -- "Yes, I -- I think -- I don't know how it would
make me feel to. To masturbate explicitly *for* -- I want
to --"

"Do it," Bruce says, and pulls *away* --

"Don't --"

And the sound -- he's never actually heard Bruce --
*Batman* --

It's just --

He knows what it would be -- a situation which had gone
rapidly out of control with, perhaps, one or more Robins
reacting in not *quite* the correct --

And Bruce *moves* him, both of them, until it's correct,
until Tim is almost sitting in Bruce's lap on the bed, and
Bruce's arm is rigid around Tim's chest, Batman wants
him *here* and will keep him that way --

"Do it. Now."

"Oh -- *oh* --" And it's too much, but it's even more not to,
and even more than that to realize he still *does* have one
hand free to reach up and back and -- *clutch*.

Bruce's short hair sliding through his fingers, Tim's dick
sliding through his own fingers, Bruce's shoulders so much
harder than he is, even though, sometime when Tim wasn't
paying attention, he'd already gotten hard enough that he
can't stop now, and can't slow down, and can't --

"Batman -- oh God, *Batman* --"

And the arm around his chest is limiting his lung capacity,
and the -- that *sound* is in his ear, it's not enough, it's
not right --

"Tell me -- tell me what to *do* --"

"Slide your thumb over the head --"

He screams --

"Perfect. So --"

And he's staining the duvet, and shaking, and --

"Perfect," Batman says, Bruce says, only there are teeth
digging *in* against the cartilage of Tim's ear, and the pain
is part of it, all of it, and if he could only keep the feeling he
knows he'll have in just a minute or two for long enough,
he *knows* he'll be able to say all of it, that Bruce will
understand him --

That Batman will press him back down against the mattress,
prone this time, and spreading his legs means he has one
leg dangling off the side until he gets moved *again*, and
then the bed is massive, inescapable, impossible to know
the edges --

Boundaries --

"Beautiful --"

"Let me -- or just --"

"Tell me."

"Do -- what you *want* --"

"I am," Bruce says, and it is Bruce, even though it feels like
Batman's hands pushing and pulling and moving, Batman's
hands taking off Tim's pants and shorts the rest of the way,
getting him up onto his knees, pushing him back down to
his elbows when he tries to get back on his hands --

"Oh -- yes -- *oh* --"

Breath on the back of his neck, and Tim feels himself start
to shake --

Feels himself tense --

"Don't," and it wouldn't even have to have been spoken
aloud, because Bruce's hands on his shoulders are their
own communication and emphasis --

"S-sorry --"

"*No*," Bruce says, and it takes all his control not to tense
again, to look more relaxed than he feels, but he knows it
doesn't work.

It *can't* work with Bruce, and in some ways it's almost
worse to be stroked like this, long and firm over his back
and sides, up to the back of his neck and down his arms.

It's possible that it's the position, or that he's naked, or the
geography, or maybe just the part of himself which needs to
be *right*, for Bruce -- for everyone --

"We were discussing, earlier, your… confusion about certain
aspects of sexuality, Tim."

And then, of course, he can breathe again. It's funny enough
that he laughs out loud, a little.


"You're -- just as good at this as you should be. That's all."

"Mm," Bruce says, and manages to find the exact place
between his shoulder blades which itches for reasons -- Tim
suspects -- are both physical *and* emotional -- to scrape
with his teeth. "I'm a captive audience, Tim."

Tim nods against the slightly rumpled duvet. "So we've
established that conditions for critical thought -- much
less planning -- are already far less than optimal well
before --"

"I'm going to kiss my way down your spine."

"Oh -- you. Preparing me ahead of time should… oh…"

"I'm not expecting the benefits to be dramatic, Tim, but it
seemed like --" Another kiss. "An interesting experiment in
which to engage."

"I -- agree. I -- yes. Everything -- everything's --"

"Much better," Bruce says, and kisses him again, "with you
here. Conditions less than optimal…?"

"Well before the sexual or potentially/ambiguously sexual
activities have progressed to the point where there is nudity
and/or genital contact -- Bruce --"

"I should have warned you I would cup your testicles. I'm
terribly sorry --"

"And then -- if you find yourself involved sexually with
someone who found Skinner's better-known experiments
more intriguing than disturbing --"

"Or equally so," Bruce says, and the laugh is in the kiss, or
perhaps the slight squeeze, and --

"I want --"

"What I want…?"

"I want you to want to -- to fuck me --"

"I do."

"S - sooner…"

"Mm," Bruce says, which is unhelpfully noncommittal.

"Bruce --"

"I can't be sure how much sooner you'd prefer," he says,
and it's terrible and a relief when he stops breathing against
the base of Tim's spine, and wonderful and scary when he
replaces his mouth with his thumb, and presses. "Now…?"

"No -- I mean… I --"

"Have more to say…?"

"Well, yes, because -- because the intensity increases, and
while it's not always an exponential progression -- God, I
want. I want to suck you. I'd like -- I change my mind?"

"About sucking me? Or about me fucking you?"

"Yes -- no. Bruce --"

And the first reaction Bruce seems to have to Tim trying to
turn over again is to *hold* him, by the hips, and Tim is
containable again, perhaps the only thing which can be
described as such on the bed, or in the whole room, but
then he lets go, and Tim turns, and reaches up to hold
onto Bruce's shoulders --

"And that's -- still another point in favor of my theory of
sex being utterly confusing, to the point where it's --
almost *boggling* that people seem to manage it with so
little complication --"

"Perhaps in your circle of… friends and family, Tim, but --"

"No, I know that other people -- it's just, everything I've
observed and studied suggests that once a person is
already in a sexual relationship with a compatible person
or more than one compatible person, that the *act* of sex
is -- *natural*, somehow. Which makes no sense at all."

Bruce hums, softly, in something which seems to exist
almost in parallel to the way he's looking Tim over, the
way he seems to be both planning and enjoying.

It's as embarrassing as ever -- while Tim is aware that he's
not *that* much smaller than the average American male
his age, while still being quite a bit stronger and generally
athletic, he's constantly surrounded by several different
varieties of male near-perfection, and so even if his self-
esteem *is* as low as his family seems to feel it is, he has
an *excuse*.

For a moment, before he can't do anything *but* feel, the
sight of Bruce's hand cupping him makes everything a little
worse. From this angle, Bruce's hand might as well be
nearly half the length of one of Tim's *thighs*.

Of course, the moment passes --

"I -- I think it's strange that there aren't more people like --
well. I -- oh, do that -- that squeeze --"

"Of course."

"How much -- did you have to practice?"

"It's occurred to me," Bruce says, before squeezing Tim's
dick once more and then reaching between Tim's thighs to
urge him to spread, "that I might have found sex more…
overwhelming, had I not had quite so much time to consider
the possibilities therein before I began any empirical

A good point, though one which, of course, still doesn't
explain the rest of the known world. "Do you think I've
started too young?"

The look on Bruce's face is interestingly skeptical, almost as
if he isn't quite sure if he'd heard Tim correctly.


"I -- may not be in the best position to judge that particular
question. At the moment."

"So you *are* feeling the… impairment in critical function?"

"More with each passing moment. Turn over again, please."

"Oh -- on my knees?"

"Not yet," Bruce says, and then strokes his way down the
backs of Tim's thighs in something nothing at *all* like
emphasis, as opposed to appreciation. "I'm planning to lick
you rather thoroughly, for certain anatomically-specific
definitions of same."

The tension is immediate, and impossible to control,
because --

"I'm aware that you find the act… especially difficult to
process. You shouldn't worry about trying to continue our

"Bruce -- I -- it's -- the increase in intensity certainly gets
a lot *closer* to exponential when you --"

"And you find this problematic. I can't say I'm entirely
shocked. Tim --"

"It's just -- it can be hard to tell if I -- how much of the
sensations are *pleasure*," and he knows his heart's
 beating even faster than it has been, that the flush must
be spreading, and maybe even becoming splotchy, and
that he's getting hard again and feeling --

Just --

The position Bruce has wanted him in -- he wants *this* --
for so long is one of exposure, and vulnerability, and his
psychological reactions are all so *normal*. Aren't they?

"And if I tell you that this is the sort of intensity many people
seek? That -- even if not quite *as* intense as this -- it
becomes something of the point of sexuality, and of
abandonment to physical instinct?"

If he pushes his face against the duvet, it would be both a
pointless attempt to hide and one Bruce tends to respond
to with *less* contact -- at least in his own experiences.
He's being conditioned, and, if it were anyone *but* Bruce,
he'd probably be at least a little offended. "I -- I have to
admit there's a kind of intellectual sense to it."

"The line between abandonment and surrender, between
trust and abandon…"

"Between pleasure and fear…?"

He doesn't have enough *mass* for any bite to the base of
his spine to be effective in terms of grip, or even in terms
of the infliction of pain, but Tim is now aware that those
two factors are entirely meaningless in the face of --


"Yes," Bruce says, and licks him there, and kisses him there
again, and grabs him by the hips and *holds* him in
position. "Say yes to me."

"I -- always --"

"Say the word, Tim. Give me what I want."

"Yes," and he has enough time to be a little amazed about
how calm it sounds coming out of his mouth, and to
wonder, a little, at the possibilities inherent within stress
reactions. If he had *only* been feeling somewhat
breathless, or *only* somewhat terrified, or *only*
situationally hypertensive, it probably wouldn't have come
out so calmly, but --

And then it's gone, of course, because while a part of Tim
thinks (the part that still *can*) that Bruce had almost
certainly planned something more like the first time, when
he had started slow and distinctly teasing --

It's --

"*Bruce* --"

There are other combinations at work, here, other
combinations of desire, emotion, and physical reactions to
each. Bruce is *fucking* him with his tongue, and --

"Oh -- oh *please* --"

And the fact that Bruce can't -- quite -- stop him from
burying his face in the covers while they're in this position
doesn't mean that he should. He wants to, but it's a desire
that doesn't have a place in this, because it's a desire which
contradicts *Bruce's* desires, and thus his own primary --

"You -- you have to -- don't --"

He couldn't move his hips if he --

He *had* been trying, or else Bruce's fingers wouldn't be
quite so -- so --

He's only bruised Tim once, before -- the last time he'd done
*this* -- and Jason had touched them, and moved his hands
to match the pattern, and then to cover it, and then they'd --

"Bruce -- *Bruce*, please, I don't -- don't make me come --"

It had been late, and they'd fallen asleep like that --

Like this, like *this*, with Bruce's hand wrapped around
Tim's dick, and it's enough, enough of an excuse, enough of
a context, and Tim screams into the duvet and stains the
thing *again*, and by the time he can breathe --

He can't, because Bruce had moved them, Batman had
moved them, and Bruce's thighs are huge and hairy and
scarred, and Bruce's hand is heavy on the back of his neck,
and Tim feels the stretch when just the *head* of Bruce's
dick is in his mouth --

Batman's --

He's hard and he's -- there have been so many *times*
when he and Jason have talked about what it would be like
to get Bruce aroused enough that he lost control, and --

How has Jason *not*? It doesn't count if it's not alone,
somehow. Not with Bruce.

It's as strange as anything else he can think of, right now,
and it's worse because he knows Jason doesn't --

They haven't spoken about it, and they *won't*, even though
this is exactly what it had felt like whenever Jason talked
about all that power, and size, and what would happen
without the control, or even with just a little *less* control.

He knows Bruce isn't going to hurt him, he knows that the
fact that part of him still can't -- *cope* with being rimmed,
again, is just what it means to have sex with Bruce, but the
rhythm of this is what *Bruce* is setting, and his hand
tightens on the back of Tim's neck with every slight change
Tim tries, and --


It's not Bruce's voice and it's nowhere *near* Batman's,
even though it's easier to imagine himself on a rooftop or
in an alley -- no.

It's easier to imagine himself on his *knees* than to really
*deal* with the fact that he's on his stomach, that most of
his body is on Bruce's big, soft, tabloid-perfect bed, and
that he's not going to get up with dirty knees.

It's something else that feels necessary to express,
somehow -- it's another kind of that *urgency*, and there's
nothing to do with it but try not to moan --

But moaning makes Bruce's hand shake, and it's too soon
for him to be this aroused again, but he *is*.

He --

It's too easy to close his eyes and *be* on his knees, for the
hand on the back of his neck to be slick and cold, for the
heat of Bruce's dick to have a *reason* to seem so much
of a painful contrast.

When Tim looks up, he can just barely see that Bruce's
mouth is open, and that's too much, too. Bruce has to
*feel* what this is doing to him, what it's *like* for him to
have Bruce making him fuck his mouth on Bruce's dick,
and it's --

It's what Bruce *wants*, all of it. The act and the --

Action and reaction. The thermodynamics of sex?

It -- there's something *wrong* with him, and it's not all
that much of a comfort to know that it almost has to be
wrong with Bruce, too. Bruce may not be trying to come
up with theoretical aphorisms right now, but ---

It doesn't matter how good this is for *Bruce*, because it's
exactly what Tim would've asked for -- one of the things --
if he'd stolen some of Jason's sane and open and easy
 before fleeing the party and been able to *give* Bruce a
straight answer to 'what do you want?'

This is still for *him*, it's -- it's Bruce, inside him and
moving, pushing, making *room* for himself, and making
himself everything Tim is capable of perceiving --

But *not* everything he's capable of considering. And that
gets in the *way*, and there's nothing he knows how to do
about it, and the fact that, at least, he'll be *able* to talk to
Bruce about it is the only thing that keeps him from wanting
to scream his way into deep-throating…

As opposed to just swallowing, and getting the back of his
neck squeezed painfully, and just -- giving up a little, enough,
as much as he can. Every part of him feels more relaxed
than he could possibly be in reality, every part other than the
one Bruce -- *needs*.


More than the gauntlets, or the cars, or the voice. Just the
fact of him and the fact that *Tim* can give him --

And blush like crazy while he's doing it, and more when he
can't make himself pull off until Bruce does it -- mostly --
for him.

The kisses are predictable, and predictably just as
embarrassingly, thrillingly painful as he's come to love, and
Tim can't keep himself from shoving his hands into Bruce's
sweaty hair and he doesn't want to.

It's a data point he'd long since collected and filed -- one of
the smaller sexual *things* Bruce likes for him to do, just
as Jason can't ever seem to get enough of those moments
when Tim loses focus on the other things on his mind,
and -- hmm.

In actuality, both of those things are all about losing control,
at least to some extent. After all, it's not as though orgasms
have any chance of making Tim *unaware* of the fact that
Bruce's hair is too short to get a grip -- is the desire about
the fact that he's doing it anyway? No --

That he *needs* to do it anyway, otherwise he wouldn't

"A penny," Bruce says -- not *quite* Brucie -- and arranges
Tim -- somewhat peremptorily into a straddle of his lap once

"I'm working on a theory about the attraction -- the
attractiveness -- of sexual need in one's partner or

"Do I seem especially needy…?"

"Especially so? No. Though I -- I think that would be. Hm."
He's not entirely sure.


It takes a moment to recognize the word and the fact that
it's a question, which is entirely fair, because Bruce has a
finger pressed behind Tim's balls, and is in the process
of -- slowly -- sliding it up into his crack.

It's Bruce's way of illustrating the prospect so as to make
the pros and cons of the question stand out more clearly,
but it's also -- what he wants.

"You've had to have had practice with that."

"This particular variety of touch…?"

"You're being disingenuous," Tim says, and moves a little,
enough to get the pressure right, only *Bruce* keeps
moving, and it doesn't take long for it to turn into… another
one of the things Jason likes, actually.

The appearance of neediness in the motion of his hips, and
the fact that surely both Jason and Bruce know, by now,
that it will be more than just appearance *soon*.

"Just -- your ability to segue specific sexual desires into the
context of conversation -- the desires and the *acts*. Jason
can't do that on purpose."

"Hmm," Bruce says, and uses his free hand to keep Tim
from entirely *escaping* the motion and pressure of his
finger. "A rather small statistical sample."

"I know, it's anecdotal, and yet it seems to fit -- at this
point -- oh."

"Don't let me hurt you."

"I -- I won't --"

"And keep talking."

A moment's inspiration, as potentially ill-fitting as the rest,
but -- "Are you collecting data about -- about how long it
takes before -- oh God oh -- so -- friction --"


"Are you -- trying to make more exact -- calculations about
my… stamina?"

"Perhaps more your determination," Bruce says, and kisses
him, quick and soft, on the jaw. "Does it bother you?"

"That would be… hypocritical, at best --"

"Not what I asked," and this becomes much more of a
threat with the unmistakable -- even more than lubricated-
usual -- feel of Bruce starting to pull out --

"Oh -- oh *fuck* --"

It's good to know that Bruce isn't firm enough on his current
stance to stop Tim from… pushing back. Pushing --

"Oh *God* --"

"Tim, Tim, go easy, don't --"

"No, no it's good -- I was just -- it doesn't bother me. More
of the -- soothing. It's just --"

"It would be worse for you to behave in a manner which
wasn't… soothing if you were also being hypocritical."

"Of course," he says, even though it wasn't a question.
Just -- emphasis is necessary, at times. "I like -- I like
being -- you *know* me," he says, and grabs Bruce's
shoulders to distract himself from the abrupt desire to
cross his eyes and moan, and he can't get the last part
*out*, the part about how knowing him doesn't stop
Bruce, how it hasn't, and it's not, and he knows it

"You're quite beautiful like this," Bruce says, and it's -- the
possessiveness makes it better in ways he knows he
*should* think about, but also knows would probably make
him think too much about the parents --

About all the things that got him here, and anyway it's
easier to dwell on the fact that he feels like a sexual shish
kebob, on the disturbing imagery *there* than on any
other --

"I'm also collecting data about the compliments you choose
to accept and when."

"Aren't you -- are you worried about -- oh, that's -- that's --"

"Faster, yes. I *will* need to pull out soon --"

"No -- I mean, I know -- I --"

"What should I be worried about?"

"Contaminating the experiment," Tim says, and the words
seem to come simultaneously with the realization that if
*he* pulls away, then at least he'll be controlling the loss --

And winding up with Bruce on top of him again. He's glad
he'll have most of this on film -- he didn't see that move
coming at *all*.

Well, in terms of its physical realities.

"Just -- I knew it would be worse if I just let *you* do it --"

"Mm. And this moment -- reminds me of what I'd asked you
about *your* feelings about need and attractiveness."

"It's -- it's *you*," and there's more he can say here, he
knows it's there, it's just also not as important as watching
Bruce turn and get his lubricant, his back and the scars, the
perfectly efficient motions, and --

His thighs, and Tim's knowledge that they could close *on*
him and handily keep him in exactly this position, if Bruce
decided --

Would he be in this position if he wasn't either worried, on
some level, about Tim trying to move again, or considering
the sort of physical bondage --

"I certainly find that particular expression on your face
attractive. You tend to use it most often around the cars."

"I -- I know it wasn't appropriate to --"

Bruce covers Tim's mouth with his dry hand, exerting
enough pressure that Tim *can't* open even enough to lick,
or nibble. "I have spent much of the past decade defining
and redefining the nature of 'appropriate,' Tim --"

Which makes absolute sense.

"Additionally, it was entirely enjoyable to watch. And to
watch you return to clean more thoroughly. You left me
with the fascinating question of whether you felt you
hadn't done a good enough job before, or if you were
simply enjoying the sensations."

"I think -- I think the best answer is 'yes.'"

"Certainly, it's one I enjoy. Please, spread your thighs."

"You don't want me on my knees again?"

"Not yet. Tell me more about the relationship between
attraction and need," Bruce says, and --

This part is actually somewhat strange. Bruce *knows*
how difficult speech becomes when they're doing *this*,
so he must not really care about the answer, or --

He's not sure.

And *that's* obvious enough to make Bruce pause before
he's even back *inside*, as opposed to just -- teasing. "Tell

"Do you -- well, you know all of this already, and --"

"I don't know your thoughts --"

"I don't think you *will* if you start fingering me -- please
start fingering me."

"Mm. If only any of these interrogation techniques would
be -- appropriate -- in other situations," *Brucie* says --

And it's possible Tim's nose is wrinkling. "I think you
would've made Jason run *away* with that."

"He'd come back for you," Bruce says, and pushes *in*,
not fast but hard, and slick and --

"Bruce -- *oh* --"

"And you were saying…?"

"I was wondering -- I thought maybe -- flattering. Need is --
flattering -- and Jason might not if you were too --"

"Too obnoxious…? Or disturbing? And surely flattery isn't
enough on its own…"

"He -- Jason --"

"Likes to hold you, tightly, before he --"

"Oh -- oh fuck oh you made me curse again --"

"I prefer to watch you move --"

"No control, finesse --"

"A large amount of *need*, however," Bruce says, and then
his free hand is on Tim's shoulder, pressing *down*, and
there's another finger, and the motion is rough, hypnotic,
roughly hypnotic, something --

"Validation is -- is sexy?"

"You're irresistible, like this."

"I --"

"And less… enthused, than you were a moment before.
Another theory?"

"I -- oh -- oh --"


And it's calm and clear but it's so honest, and so obviously
so, and there's no place to *grip* on Bruce's headboard,
and the leverage he can get by bending his knees up and
planting his feet isn't *enough* --


"The -- the need --"


"Oh, Bruce -- Bruce, I can't, it's too -- it's too good --"

"I won't stop. Not now."

"Because -- you can see I need it, the need is -- is it

"Inconclusive, given current studies -- don't stop."

"Can't -- I -- you don't, don't stop --"

"Do you need -- a promise?"

No. Just -- Bruce's hand, Bruce's hands and the moment
when he can't keep his feet flat on the bed, when Bruce
moves from holding his shoulder down to using his arm
to hold Tim's knees *up*, and then he needs it, the
promise in Bruce's eyes and everything else, including
the ability to give Bruce the *rest* of what he needs.

Just --

"It must -- perhaps another instinct, the sense -- you're
doing exactly the right thing, you *are* the right thing,
person -- you --"

"You need me --"

"Yes, yes -- you. You need *me*."

"Now," Bruce says, and it's a promise *and* a threat, but
only the former matters right now, and the latter is
inconceivable, or perfect, or the redefinition which makes
it perfect for Tim to wrap his legs around Bruce's chest, as
much as he can, and let Bruce make him *cough* out the

There's only enough air to -- *sustain* consciousness, and
he can't --

He can't stop yelling and he's scratching at Bruce's
shoulders, and he doesn't --

"Open. Open your eyes --"

"Bruce, I --"


"Batman --" And Bruce's laugh is clear and open and out
*loud* --

"You make -- you make me want to call you 'darling,' if only
for the protests --"

"Bruce, don't *stop* --"

"I take it back -- you should be more trusting, Tim."

And it's enough to make Tim open his eyes, and that's
enough -- Bruce's *eyes* -- to keep them open, and he
doesn't know anything but the feeling or the *sight* or the
need --

But he strongly suspects he's making a lot of noise.

And that he's not going to stop anytime soon.

The suspicion is confirmed later, when Tim tries to say
Bruce's name, or maybe 'thank you,' but all that comes out
is somewhat painful air. It makes Bruce stroke his throat,
and hm…

"Perhaps it *is* thermodynamic, in a way."

"I know you're not fond of non sequiturs, and yet…"

"Action and reaction, need triggering more need through
the… hmm. The *sense* of being simpatico in desires, if
only in the desire for 'more?'"

"Ah," Bruce says, after pulling Tim on top of him and
stroking his back. "You're still displeased by the concept of

"I don't -- I think some of the things I've *said* are/were
instinctual, and certainly several of my physical movements,
but --"

"Perhaps you're unique," Bruce says, and traces a fingertip
over his cheekbones, just above his eyebrows --

"Your motions say otherwise."

"Do they, 'Red…?'"

"I --" It's a point, and a good one, for all that it *seems* to
be overly caught in semantics. His general duties and
responsibilities *are* very different from Jason's. But. "I
don't… I'm not always happy. About being unique."

"Everyone takes comfort in the familiar --"

"Comfort isn't -- broad enough." Not to describe the feeling
when Bruce understands just -- everything, anyway.

"Then perhaps it's more like freedom," Bruce says, and
moves Tim, again, until he's on top of Bruce.

Certainly there's more of a *chance* of escape in this
position than there would be if Bruce were on top of him.
Still, though. Not the best definition of freedom. Tim
frowns, and thinks about how to say it, and --

"I mean, of course, the freedom to be yourself."

And it's not *quite* Brucie, but he still can't keep his frown
from becoming somewhat more accusatory.

"I promise I wasn't about to break into song, Tim," Bruce
says, and there's just the slightest twitch at the corners of
his mouth, the slightest implication of a lie in the raise of
Bruce's eyebrows and the tightening of his grip on Tim's

"Wouldn't I be less unique if I trusted you more?" He makes
his own emphasis by brushing at Bruce's hands until it
becomes physically possible to brush them away.

"Mm, doubtful," Bruce says, and seems to make something
of a show out of staring at his own hands. "I'm quite sure,
for example, that you would find entirely unique ways to
express that trust."

There's only one raised eyebrow this time on Bruce's face,
and it's just a question.

One he's not sure of, really. Or --

No. It's all about the rest of the -- the rest of the family. "I
should go."

"In my experience, Tim," and Bruce's hand is… the word
'suggestive' seems too, well, *suggestive* for the really
kind of *gentle* question that Bruce is asking with his
fingertips and Tim's collarbone.


"Hm. People most often use that particular construction of
that particular concept when they wish to be convinced

Which is -- true. But. "I already know you won't."

"Do you? That's fascinating."

And that's a joke Tim can't help but smile at -- as he gets off
Bruce and off the bed. "You already -- we've already
established that you're only marginally better at this -- the
social *thing* than I am. And that your extra qualifications
boil down to knowing you're not the one to ask, as well as
knowing *who* to ask. Most of whom are probably almost
done with watching movies," he says, and tracks down his

"You do have a point," Bruce says, and stops, and --

It makes Tim pause a little, because it sounds a lot like
Bruce has more to say, but Bruce only shakes his head
when Tim looks.

It's not enough to convince him that Bruce *doesn't* have
something else to say, but, well, it's not like he doesn't
understand just not being ready to say something, or…
whatever it is.

When he's dressed again, looking at Bruce feels a little like
having a messy, sweaty panic attack in a suit, but being
Robin is all about fortitude and lots of other things which
boil down to 'cope,' so Tim crosses back to the bed, and
kisses Bruce's wide, still mouth.

After a moment, he gets kissed back, and the angle is
*just* right to see one of Bruce's hands kind of twitch in
the sheets, but Bruce doesn't quite reach for him, and --

*Bruce* set the rules for this -- almost doesn't count.

"Thank you, you know, for -- being here. And you," Tim

"Mm. You're welcome. And happy birthday."

It is -- so much Tim's grinning a little when he slips back out,
and nearly all the way back to the room Bruce had -- with
very little urging from Jason, actually -- outfitted with a
modern entertainment center, where it's…

Well, it's a good sign that he can hear voices, and popcorn-
eating sounds, but it's still. Hadn't *anyone* left? He opens
the door and --

Yeah, really not.

"Told you he'd be back," Dick says, and slaps Jason lightly
on the head. It doesn't quite lead to a sit-down spar, and
anyway all of the girls are looking at him. And into him,
though at least Batgirl stops once she has her answers.

She's really good about things like that.

"What happened to you --"

"All right, Red?"

And the fact that Steph and Barbara speak at once -- he's
glad he's a lot less tense than he was, is all. "I just --
needed to be alone for a little while." Which is true, though
not true enough for Jason's eyes, which are also on him,
now. "And then I wanted to stop in and see Bruce."

It's a little difficult to be sure -- he knows Batgirl knows
what he was doing, and Barbara probably knows, and
Steph is really good about things like that, but he's just
not really sure about Jason or Dick --

"Oh, he wasn't hiding in the Cave, was he?"

Tim shakes his head for everyone's benefit -- he just
makes it a little more serious for Dick. "Just his bedroom."

And that's absolutely enough for Jason, whose snort makes
*sure* it's enough for everyone else.

"I --"

"Well, *Jeez*, birthday boy, if you wanted *that* instead
of beatings and popcorn, you shoulda said something."

He was honestly going to say something, but he's just not
sure what that would be, and --"

"No, you really shouldn't have," Barbara says, wheeling
behind the couch for an unblocked shot at the back of
Jason's neck.


"He would've just convinced Dick to hire you a stripper."

And he's less sure now.

"Really yeah," Steph says, "and -- wait. What kind of

It's enough of a pause -- "One that would've been
inappropriate for a party at Wayne Manor, I'm thinking."

"Spoken like someone who hasn't been forced to sit through
*enough* of the parties when the debs get 'faced. Back
me up, here, Dick."

"Ew, stupid rich strippers. No *thanks*," and then Steph is
there, and cupping his face, and generally being bigger and
taller and stronger than Tim thinks he'll ever be. She's like
Jason, only less inclined to hire strippers. He likes her,
and --

And he especially likes that all it takes is a big, obvious nod
and a long look directly into her eyes to convince her *not*
to make her question about whether or not he's okay
something for the whole class to share.

"Seriously, though -- how could you *leave* us?" And Jason
is mostly joking, but he's also…

He's also not joking enough that Tim feels a little awful. "I
just. I. I don't know how parties work," he says, and feels
stupid because it's true but it *sounds* like a bad lie, and --

And then Barbara shoots *him* in the neck.

"Pain, awkward situations, salty foods, bad films, and,
occasionally, poorly thought-out sexual hijinks," she says,
and waves the gun at Dick when it looks like he'll protest.
"Honestly," and the chair is great for knocking people
aside -- even people as genuinely *sturdy* as Steph, "you're
doing fine, kid."

"I -- if you're sure…?"

"Perfectly," she says, and she probably doesn't mean to herd
him toward the couch -- and Dick and Jason -- like a
particularly brainless sheep -- somehow, Tim is sure she'd
be using some sort of cattle prod if she did -- but he still
winds up half-sitting and half-falling, anyway.

Dick doesn't hug him so much as restrain him for Jason's --
light -- attack.

Steph compliments Jason for managing a flurry, and Batgirl
demonstrates one for her to try which looks a lot more
effective and painful.

He's feeling pretty okay about things until Dick starts tickling
him, really, but everyone else seems to be enjoying it…

Tim files it away with all of the other things he doesn't --
quite -- get.