Disclaimers: There's so much here that isn't mine it isn't
Spoilers: Vague ones for various comic and toon storylines.
Summary: "So what are you afraid of?"
Ratings Note: Sexual content which does and doesn't
dovetail neatly with the content some readers may find
Author's Note: Mary decided to write a *different* story
with Red Hood!Jason and Post-RotJ!Tim. And then she
asked me to porn it up. This? Won't make any sense
without the other.
Acknowledgments: To Jack, LC, Betty, and Petra for
audiencing, encouragement, and helpful suggestions.
It's not that simple.
(There's a Robin, again.)
The fact that this is something which he needs to remind
himself about doesn't change the truth of the statement.
(There's a Nightwing.)
Nightwing -- Jason Todd is an excellent shot, of course.
Enough so that it takes a moment for Tim to work out
precisely what it is about his form which doesn't... feel
entirely correct. And when he does...
And when he does, there are other --
They shouldn't really be called 'concerns,' because that
would imply a reason, a rational *reason* for them to be
distracting him. For them to --
"Carrie. Carrie called me that. More often than not."
Nightwing frowns, beginning to turn and holstering the nine
millimeter he'd chosen to work with in a smooth, absent
"Your form -- it isn't Bruce's," he says, and a part of him
means it to be something like a recovery -- he knows
himself -- but it isn't. It can't be.
Nightwing -- *Jason* pauses, expression pulling itself into
a dark and knowing smile. Directed at -- one of the --
"Bruce only gave *me* the basics of gun-handling," Jason
says, and is silent for long enough --
Almost long enough to excuse the moment, within himself,
when Tim hopes he will leave it there.
"She was *your* Robin, wasn't she?"
Jason nods, thoughtfully. "I'd been *wondering* about what
you said about our timelines not diverging for a while, and
how she'd fit... she was the only one?"
"She understood, implicitly, what had to be... she
And the smile on Jason's face is only sharply wry if you
make the mistake of ignoring his eyes. The smile...
Nightwing squeezes his shoulder. "You could tell me about
Tim bites the inside of his cheek, once. "Her agility was
excellent, her speed -- she would often over-exert herself
at the beginning of a patrol, leaving her vulnerable later
on to exhaustion. She was caught in a crossfire
The squeeze becomes painful. "And you know that wasn't
what I meant, *B*."
"Yes, Nightwing. I do. Perhaps another time."
Jason nods. "So, again?"
He has to --
He has to know Jason.
There is, of course, a temptation to be caught in the
amusement -- the *cosmic* amusement, even -- of a Tim
Drake who is...
Certainly, he has caught Jason several times smiling --
smirking -- in a way which suggests he's anything but
immune to it.
And yet --
"Batman," the boy says, running his -- taped, he has been
training very hard -- fingers along the back of Tim's chair.
"You left your left side vulnerable in your second run
through the gauntlet, Tim."
"I wasn't hit --"
"You could've been."
The growl is predictable and predictably... interesting.
"Fine," he says, thumping the back of Tim's chair with what
feels like the heel of one palm and returning to the gauntlet.
His feet are soundless, but he -- perhaps consciously.
*Perhaps* -- makes up for it with a string of half-muttered
curses and the crash of something -- a gun rack, by the
sound -- being knocked to the floor of the Cave.
There's no need for him to turn to see if the boy is following
orders -- the console alerts him once the boy restarts the
There's even less need when Jason slips out from among
the cars and joins him at the console. Jason sits *on* the
console -- habitually -- and Tim can see him flexing his
hands in his new black gauntlets with his peripheral vision,
(And Carrie's first shaky handstand on the console had
ended with her nearly dislocating her right shoulder, and
she had laughed and blushed hard enough to nearly hide
the freckles on her cheeks, and Tim thought to himself, "I
don't know her. I don't know this. I *don't* --")
"He wants the uneven bars," Jason says.
"He wants the street more," Tim says. "Especially now."
Nightwing grins, slow and easy. "It was good last night."
There's nothing -- there's no reason to respond to --
"Just 'yes?'" And the expression on Jason's face is a
An invitation. Jason. Nightwing. Jason -- "I've relaxed the
security controls on the program. I want you in there with
the boy to --"
"Fuck with his head?"
"Try not to get shot," Tim says, and fights back as much of
the expression that wants to be on his own face as he can.
Limiting the boy's access to the gymnastics equipment for
the initial weeks of his retraining had been something akin
to a necessity. Even the boy's dangerous levels of
deconditioning hadn't been enough to mask the obvious
skill -- and pleasure.
It's fundamental -- if you want to know as much as possible
about an operative's -- a potential operative's -- strengths
and weaknesses, you don't let *them* choose their...
It's just that --
"Man, B, he *has* to be getting that from you," Jason says,
folding his arms over his chest. He's nearly as large as Bruce
had been. He could very easily -- no.
The issue with the *boy* is that limiting his access to
acrobatics hadn't been intuitive two weeks ago, and it's
rapidly becoming less so. "He's aced the gauntlet six times
out of the last eight. It's reasonable to allow him... this."
Jason snorts. "You think I'm scolding you for letting him
play? Aren't I supposed to be Nightwing?"
"You *are* Nightwing --"
"Easy, B," Jason says, and his whistle is just another variety
of laugh. "I'm starting to think that cowl pinches a nerve or
something. So are you gonna tell me why you're tense as
hell right *now*?"
There are any number of ways to answer that question.
There are --
"Are you grinding your *teeth*?"
For his twenty-fifth birthday, Carrie had given him a bright
red mouth-guard to sleep in, wrapped in a bow. He hasn't...
he doesn't know when he'd started grinding his teeth again.
The boy is moving like water, and laughing, and moving --
He doesn't --
"Earth to tiny Batman, come in, tiny Batman --"
"He doesn't get -- *this*. From either of us. As near as I can
tell." The boy...
Jason blinks. "I... hunh. But... hunh."
"Exactly. Who -- *what* -- is he?"
"I'm Robin," the boy says.
The boy has no trouble whatsoever with silence, when he
chooses. Tim doesn't. *They* don't.
"And," the boy says, and his smile is focused on Tim alone,
"I spent more time with Dick than either of you *ever*
It doesn't explain -- it. Tim knows it doesn't, and the frown
on Jason's face is entirely adequate to prove that Jason
knows the same. And the boy... doesn't like being watched.
No -- examined.
"*What*? I'm good -- I'm better than *both* of you at this,
which means you need me to be this good. So just --"
Nightwing's hand is on the boy's shoulder before Tim can
think of a way to defuse the situation. That's...
"Hey, easy, Robin. Let the grown-ups be fucked in the head.
The alternative doesn't pay."
"You aren't even a year older than *me* --"
"Robin," Tim says, and then he realizes that it has been
years, and that it's true, and that the words which come
after are slipping away like water. He swallows. "Robin,
The boy seems dangerously close to doing... something.
Tim isn't sure what.
And it would probably be a mistake to assume that the point
is moot just because the boy's leap for the uneven bars is --
nearly -- immediate.
It's nearly dawn before Jason makes it back to the r-point,
and Tim nods internally at his own timing -- he'd arrived
five minutes before. Neither of them especially want to
work alone, but it's necessary, at times.
Jason needs to know this Gotham.
Tim waits while Jason uses his rooftop vantage to scan the
area once, twice.
Tim watches while Jason leaps down and lands -- lightly --
on the roof of the car.
"Don't even think about checking the finish, B."
Tim raises an eyebrow behind the cowl. "You're just that
Jason smiles -- the corners of his mask are already folded
in the shape of his amusement -- and spreads his hands.
Tim watches -- "Let's go."
Jason pauses... but then he nods, and jumps the rest of the
way down. They fasten their seatbelts simultaneously.
The backseat of the car is --
"So when are you letting Robin off the leash?"
The backseat of the car is empty. "Off the leash? Never. As
for whether or not the boy is street-ready..."
Jason snorts. "Street-ready *again*, you mean."
"I'm *not* Bruce --"
"And he's not you. Or me. Or..." Jason waves a hand. "Look,
the sooner he can get out here and do some good, the
better he'll be."
Nightwing. "You know as little of his history as I do,
Interesting. Tim shifts the car onto auto-pilot as casually as
he can, and then puts both hands back on the wheel.
"Look, B --"
"So the two of you *do* converse when he crawls into bed
"Heh. I was wondering when you'd bring that up."
"It's a concern," Tim says, and wonders if it would be better
or worse to push back his cowl.
"Is it? He's a Robin."
("Jeez, B, you're acting like I'm trying to suck you off or
something. Just... you were having a nightmare, and --"
Jason's look is steady, and -- somewhat -- cautious.
That had come out too sharply. "Tell me. Please."
Jason... Jason bites his own tongue with a slow, thoughtful-
seeming pressure that increases for an irrationally long
stretch of time.
No -- his perception is irrational.
And Jason is smiling. "No one *likes* to sleep alone."
"Heh. Sure you're not just used to it?"
"He's up to one-twenty, he moves better in his uniform
than I do in mine, and he's gonna take off sooner rather
than later if you *don't* let him out."
Would he go to... to the others? Would they even want
another Robin? "That last --"
"Isn't a *good* reason, yeah, I know, B. I'm just putting it
Tim curls his fingers around the steering wheel. "Noted."
"So what are you afraid of?"
And that's -- Tim doesn't try to hold back the smile. "Perhaps
you could narrow it down."
"Yeah, okay, that's..." Jason snickers, and scrubs a gauntlet
over his face. "That's a point right there."
"Yeah. Fine. What are you afraid of with *Robin*?"
("I love you, B.") "I..."
"Or do I need to narrow it down a little more than that?"
And Jason's hand is on his shoulder again. "Hey. He's not
"C'mon, *talk* to me, B. Or aren't you my partner?"
He doesn't brush Jason's hand aside. It's possible that, at
this point, it would take the application of force. "It was
the police. It was. They were police-issue bullets. Which
"Shit. Well, that would explain why I couldn't bust up a
single damned armed robbery before the cops started
taking potshots at *me*."
As opposed to at himself. "I knew *you'd* be prepared for
that sort of treatment."
"Well -- yeah, but look, your gauntlet-programs are all
set up for that. Robin didn't flinch once."
"He comes from a world where they worked hand-in-hand
with Gordon. Montoya. Others. Others who are still alive
and well in *this* world."
"And he's never trusted a *cop* in his life."
"Pay attention to your own psych-profiles, B. This is where
*I* come into Robin." Jason snorts. "So to speak. If
anything, you're gonna have to make sure he's totally
on-board with not killing any of them."
"All of... his shots have been non-fatal."
"And so have mine," Jason says, before reaching down to
make his seat slide back further than is strictly necessary
and throwing his booted feet onto the dash. "So far."
"They killed Robin once, B. I'm kinda thinking *once* is the
The presence pulls him from the dream. The touch wakes
The feel of his own hands wrapped around slim, bony
wrists and squeezing wakes him entirely.
He doesn't call Carrie's name.
"What is it, Robin?"
The boy hums quietly, though not quietly enough to keep it
from being... entirely obvious.
"Let me go?"
A question, not an order. Interesting. Tim lets go, and --
"Mm, Batman," the boy says and... curls against him. Over
him in something of a consciously graceless sprawl.
"Jay says this *isn't*, really, what's keeping you from letting
me *out*, but I kinda had to check for myself."
"'This' had been in reference to your relationship with
Nightwing. *Not* with me."
"Sometimes you sound just like him, you know?" The boy
snorts. "Sure you do. The *question* is," he says, curling
the fingers of one hand over Tim's left oblique, "is whether
or not you're doing it on purpose *now*."
He had been. But... ah. "You were in a sexual relationship
with your Bruce."
Robin shrugs, letting the motion drag the bare skin of his
chest against Tim's own.
They both tend to sleep only in boxers.
Tim raises an eyebrow.
"Bruce was for... other people," the boy says, tracing a
hand over Tim's features in the dark.
"I'm not --"
"You're Batman," the boy says, and Tim doesn't need to see
the smile in order to know it's there.
A part of him is entirely sure he can feel it. "Robin."
"Yeah. Really... really *yeah*," and the laugh isn't quite the
same as the one Tim has, to date, put three separate bullets
But it's close.
"So let me be *your* Robin, Batman."
"Why?" It's an honest question -- he's sure of it, despite, or
perhaps because of, the feel of his own palm pressed to
the back of the boy's neck.
"Because I need it, Batman."
His name is Tim. Their name is -- *his* name --
"Because I'm gonna make you need *me*, Batman --"
The hand that isn't on Tim's oblique is now on his throat,
pressing lightly -- knowingly. "I am. Batman."
Tim tightens his grip on the back of the boy's -- on Robin's
"Fuck yes --"
"What do you want, Robin?"
"You *know* what --"
For a moment it seems strange -- the feel of Robin's lips
against his fingers. But he knows. He should be wearing
the gauntlet. "What do you want *precisely*, Robin?"
And Robin's hips jerk against his abdomen. Once.
"Oh -- oh fuck Batman, don't -- just don't --"
The bite to his fingers is ultimately predictable.
And much more than that.
"You call him 'Robin' when you're fucking him, don't you?"
Jason... 'snickers' is really the only word for it.
"Put yourself in my position, Nightwing."
"Yeah?" Jason raises his eyebrows and lets himself fall back
into a lean against the water tower of their rooftop. "Which
position would that be?"
"I was thinking that said it all," Tim says, and switches the
scope to infrared. His intel had suggested there were a total
of five players in the gun-smuggling ring, but it was
important to be as sure as possible, despite the undeniable...
pleasure of once again going up against targets better-
armed than he is. Than they are.
Jason's laugh is soft and easy. "I'm blaming the uniform."
"It's important to accept responsibility for one's failings."
"Oh, *yeah*, B...? Gotta own your issues, is that it?"
He's leading to something. Leading *him*. Tim doesn't shift
within the armor. "I tend to think so."
Jason is in motion, moving well and quietly enough that
there's no need for him to do -- anything.
Anything but feel Jason's breath behind his ear. "Yes?"
"I'm just trying to figure out what you're going to call *me*...
whenever we stop dancing around."
Tim licks his own hard palate. Once. "In all honesty, I
"Uh, huh. So is that *why* we're still dancing?"
It's an interesting hypothesis. He'll have to give it some
thought. "I'll let you know," Tim says, and refocuses his
attention on their targets.
And listens to Nightwing laugh.
Gordon had still been an ally, the first time he let Carrie out
Gordon had shaken her hand, and welcomed her, and had
told Tim, once, that she reminded him a little of Barbara.
Tim had nodded, even though he hadn't been able to see it,
Carrie always reminded him of Dick.
Dick had never had the opportunity to know her.
He watches the boy on the rings, noting that he's achieving
a personal best, judging by his own reports of his former
abilities. Jason had been... assiduous with the boy's strength
The boy --
Carrie is dead.
"Dismount," Tim says, and Robin does it immediately,
though he doesn't meet Tim's eyes until he's... close.
I need you. "Suit up."
And Robin's smile... "Sir, yes, *sir*."
Jason comes down and joins Tim on the mats while Robin
is taking his time deciding which car they'll take tonight. As
always, he looks to the cars before too much time has
passed, and when he sees Robin --
"Aw, man, tonight? Seriously?"
I need you so badly. "Yes."
Jason slaps Tim's shoulder hard and whoops. "*Finally*!
And I was gonna pick tonight for a solo-sweep --"
Tim pulls the cowl down over his face. "Let me have him
Jason crosses his arms over his chest. "*Some* of tonight."
Tim blinks behind the cowl. "It wasn't a request."
"Wasn't it? And in *any* event," he says, jabbing Tim in
the chest --
The question of whether or not he actually *can* stare
Jason down -- with or without the cowl -- is one worth
Robin has chosen a vehicle. Not tonight.
"Meet us at r-point fourteen at oh-one-hundred,
"Sure thing... partner."
At oh-one-hundred -- exactly -- Jason swings onto the roof
of the r-point, grinning hard and making his landing just
behind where Robin is crouched with an energy bar and a
bottle of water.
He gets a hand in Robin's hair before the boy can react,
but Robin crouches lower still -- and strikes back with his
Jason laughs aloud when he jumps over the strike, and
The spar is vicious, quiet, and nowhere near as brief as it
As *he* should make it.
Tim feels himself pulling back into the shadows to watch,
and can't quite make himself do anything about it.
"Told you so," Nightwing whispers over the comm later.
Robin ignores them both, and flies.
At oh-three-seventeen, Tim looks over the job Robin has
done zip-stripping three unconscious -- and almost certainly
concussed -- drug-dealers, nods, and places a hand on the
"You're done. Home."
For a moment it's terrible. The boy's eyes widen behind the
mask, and his mouth pulls into a --
Nightwing cuffs the back of the boy's head lightly. "For the
*night*, freakboy. Hit it."
The recovery is immediate, if still slightly too obvious for
The boy's puts his fists on his hips. "You're giving me a
"You've gotta be fucking *kidding* me," he says, and twists
out of the grip Jason has on his shoulders.
Jason, for his part, takes a step back. And watches.
"Batman, I'm --"
The boy's teeth click shut. And his eyes widen again --
differently, this time. Correctly. There's a twitch at the
corner of his mouth... and he flies.
Jason shifts, rolling his shoulders in their sockets. "I should
probably shadow him --"
"Fine. *One* of us should probably shadow him, to make
sure he doesn't set fire to the damned Cave, Batman --"
"Really. And how *exactly* are you figuring that, Kreskin?"
Tim blinks. "Interesting reference. Temporally."
"B, I'm serious --"
"So am I. He's going to destroy *something*, but it won't
be the Cave."
"So you're okay with him burning down your damned
His house. Yes. Now. Tim flexes his hands in the gauntlets.
"I know what he wants, Nightwing."
"And what's that?"
Jason's reflexes are perfect, and he blocks Tim's gut-punch
just the way he should -- leaving his throat open for Tim's
Tim squeezes. "What he wants, Nightwing, is the same
thing you do. Sometimes, anyway."
Jason shudders once, all over. "Batman."
"Yes," Tim says, and leans in for the kiss.
Just one -- because what comes after can't really be called
a kiss, at all. Jason won't *let* it, and, ultimately, Tim isn't
especially surprised by the fact that Jason wants to be
bitten more than he wants anything else.
Nor is he displeased.
At the moment.
Tim adjusts his outer, armored jock and drops into a
crouch to check on their unconscious criminals. Robin's.
"Did you seriously bench the kid so we could be *alone*?"
"That was one of my reasons, yes."
Jason shakes his head and wipes his mouth with the back
of his hand. And then licks his hand.
"Gonna tell me the other? Others?"
"I need to know *precisely* how Robin will react to
emotional distress now. Impatience, frustration, anger, and
lust are a reasonable enough definition of 'distress' for
now," he says, and tightens one of the zip-strips before
"Uh, huh. Meanwhile, how hard do you get at the thought
of putting the kid in a box and just taking notes for a
"Somewhat," Tim says, and shoots his grapple.
"I'll kill you if you do," Jason says over the comm.
"I *do* have another question, though," Jason says, once
they're back in the car.
They hadn't actually been talking very much at all for the
past two hours -- it's always an intriguing challenge to work
downtown Gotham without shooting police officers, and
the only reason they'd managed tonight is because there
*were* two of them -- but Jason doesn't seem to notice
the... strangeness. It reminds Tim, somewhat, of the way
things used to be with Conner -- no. With Superboy.
Conversations that just... continued.
"You still with me over there, B?"
"Uh, huh. See, I'm just wondering if this -- if *that* meant
you'd settled on what you wanted to call me when we fuck."
It's a reasonable question. "No, it doesn't."
"Didn't think so," Jason says, and reaches over to start
working Tim's jock open again.
"*You're* saving up something special for Robin's first
night -- don't even try to deny it --"
"I hadn't -- planned on doing so --"
"And since you're *you*, 'special' means you're gonna lock
me *out* --"
"Shut up -- we're good. I *get* you, B," he says, and
"*Jason* -- *fuck* --"
"It's just that *I'm* not done. And keep your hands on the
The gunshots are audible as soon as Tim opens the door of
the car, and he can feel Jason's gaze on him.
He doesn't have an answer -- yet.
They find Robin at the shooting range -- something less
predictable than it would be with anyone else.
He's naked save for his mask, and he's shooting at one of
Tim's spare uniforms. Specifically, at the cowl.
Jason whistles, long and low, hands Robin one of his own
fresh clips, and claps Tim on the shoulder. "You two kids
play nice, now."
"Good-night, Jason," Tim says, and then crosses his arms
over his chest to wait.
Robin's shoulders work in smoothly perfect rolls and jerks
for each shot, each pull, each careful -- perfect -- aim.
There's a scar from a knife just above his right kidney that
Tim doesn't know the origin for.
There are any number of burn scars he *does* know the
origins of, but...
They aren't the right ones, just now.
And Robin pauses after emptying Jason's clip. For just long
"I could," Robin says, "just be familiarizing myself with the
ricochet patterns for the armor on this cowl. It seems like
something that *might* be useful to know."
"Once, a ricochet from my cowl caught Carrie in the thigh.
It took me the better part of an hour to dig it out without
damaging her femoral artery."
Robin's shoulders twitch.
"She had the scar until she was murdered, of course."
Interestingly, Robin's growl doesn't telegraph anything more
dire than the boy turning to face him --
It's possible that could be dire enough, however.
On some worlds.
"Well?" he asks, again.
"You *didn't* bench me tonight for *my* own good."
They know him. They both know him with a cavalier
simplicity which -- Tim doesn't bother keeping the smile
off his face. "No, I didn't."
It's enough -- perhaps it *is* the smile -- to make Robin
pull his upper lip back from his teeth.
Tim would like to watch him spar with Nightwing, again.
"Would you care to guess why I did?"
"*Tell* me, Batman --"
"Ask me, Robin."
The sound Robin makes is nearly the same as the one
Carrie used to make, whenever Tim caught her in the
stomach with a punch.
He doesn't move closer.
"Tell me, Batman. Please."
Tim closes the distance between them, and cups Robin's
cheek in his palm. "One of my reasons... had a lot to do
with seeing just how well you follow orders."
Robin's nostrils flare. "How am I doing?"
"Get on your knees."
This sound -- no. He'd never heard it, before.
Robin drops to his knees -- laughing and tossing his gun
aside with casual ease -- before Tim can get a hand in his
The moan wakes him, and he's somewhat disoriented until
he realizes he'd been tired enough to miss Jason's entry
into his bedroom.
The lock on his door has been entirely -- and expertly --
removed, and Tim turns just in time to see Jason licking
And smiling at Tim with his eyes.
Robin jerks beneath Jason and moans again, reaching out
with his left hand -- and getting his wrist caught by Jason.
"Oh -- *Jesus*, Jay --"
Tim sits back against the headboard and settles in to
From the not-my-fault files:
Betty: Oh, Tim. Remember the bat-orgies? They need to be reinstituted.
There’s night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon, and
brother, all sweet things; there’s likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very
sweet, brother; who would wish to die?
~ George Borrow