And All the King's Men
by Te
December 18, 2003

Disclaimers: Nowhere near mine. I'm just enthralled.

Spoilers: Batman: Hush, issues #608-619. Vague
references to "Half a Life," issues #6-10. Also drags
in the cartoon episode "Sins of the Father."

Summary: Harvey used to be a friend. Bruce's friend.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Author's Note: Jack told me about what was going on in
the books, and provided a few issues, too. We love Jack.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: When the world gives me massive
amounts of conflicting -- and downright wildly
inconsistent -- canon, my general reaction is to mix and
match, and use as much of *all* of it as I possibly can.

What this boils down to in *this* story is the attempt to
fuse the cartoons with the comics, because neither
canon, to me, is less valid than the other.

Please bear this in mind and refer to the spoilers before

Acknowledgments: To Livia, Jack, and Weirdness Magnet
for audiencing and many, many helpful suggestions. Jack
also gave me a title.

Feedback: Absolutely.


The phone call was not a surprise, nor his own reaction
to it.

Nor Alfred's.

Alfred has been a silent, steady presence, blank of
expression to anyone but those who know him as more
than Bruce Wayne's manservant.

There's a question in the set of the man's eyebrows, a
sympathy waiting in the way that his gnarled, spotted
hands rest at his sides, as opposed to behind his back.

Batman shakes his head in negation of everything unsaid,
and plays the message again.

"Bruce," he says, and pauses. "It's me. Harvey."

As if he wouldn't know.

"Look, I know you probably don't want to hear from me.
I know..."

A sigh, and Batman uses the time to breathe, to listen to
the music in the background. Debussy. The music of
sedation for people of a certain set, a certain age. Harvey
has always been careful about the messages he sends,
the way he presents himself to the world.

"I just. I know they would've told you. All the money you
spent on my defense -- I knew it was you. I know I never
thanked you. I know... I know a lot of things, now."

The regret is old, and had been scarred over. It's not,

"I miss you."

Batman closes his eyes.

"If you don't want to see me, I understand. I... God, do I
understand. But if you do --"

Batman hits 'stop.'

"It would, perhaps, not be an *entirely* bad idea, Master


"As you say."

Batman hits rewind.


Batman crouches on the roof opposite Two-Face's --
Harvey's -- new apartment.

It's not the penthouse. He can't afford that, anymore.

The new place is small, but obviously neat, obviously
clean from what he can see through the binoculars.

There's not a good enough view, from here, of the
bedroom, and the shades are closed on that side of the

The door is open, though.

All of the doors are.

When Harvey comes out of his room in his robe, he
leaves the light on, and Batman can see... cleanliness.


The robe itself is black, and looks to be some sort of
synthetic material.

Harvey comes to the window and looks out, one hand
pressed to the glass.

He says something, but the directional mike doesn't
pick it up.

Batman hasn't turned it on.


Batman is back at the Cave before dawn, having stopped
two muggings and a vicious looking bit of animal abuse.

Psych Services hasn't received as many calls from the
Batman as other agencies, but they're never surprised to
hear from him.

The child in question will be visited, and soon.

He pushes the cowl back, moderately irritated by the pull
against his throat, the whiff of sweaty plastic.

Summer's coming.

The material won't give him a rash, probably, but sometimes
he wishes... No.

There's a part of him that will always wish for things he
can't have. He lets it exist as a reminder of everything
beyond the world of himself.

Of Batman.

He's fighting for a world where no child will ever stand in
a spreading pool of their parents' blood.

There are times when that image almost fades.

He adjusts the cowl around his neck somewhat viciously,
and enters the reports on the night's activities.

Tenses at the sound of the door opening, the one at the
top of the stairs.

Alfred's footsteps are quiet, though they make some of
the bats flutter and screech.


"Master Bruce, I've been giving the matter of Mr. Dent
some thought."

"Has there been another phone call?"

"No. However --"


"I know you don't wish to discuss this, but consider the
matter of Master Tim."

"All the more reason to let this drop."

The smallest, sharpest sniff. "As I'm sure the rooftops of
the buildings adjacent to Mr. Dent's would be grateful to
hear. You were never very good at wiping your boots
before --"

"*Alfred*. Please."

Alfred clears his throat, and Batman can hear him shift, just
beside and behind the chair. Changing his stance into
something that, were Batman to look, would be nothing but
dryly combative.

"I just need time."

"Indeed, Master Bruce. But some matters are more urgent
than others, and if you'd take a moment to *think* --"

"Robin. Tim."

"Both of them. He knows, Master Bruce. And has always
done. Two-Face never chose to use that against you."

"I. Knew he wouldn't."

"*Harvey* -- this new, apparently sane Harvey... what,
precisely, do you know about him?"

He lives alone. He has trouble sleeping. He has been
re-admitted to the bar. He's looking for me. "Not


Alfred sets a tray beside him with the slightest clatter and
a whispered curse.

Neither of them will say a word about the weakness in
the man's hands. The tiny proofs of encroaching age.

It's just another inescapable fact of existence, another
voice to acknowledge and ignore.

"The phone number is on the tray. I took the liberty of
memorizing it one or another of the forty-seven times
you've played the message thus far."

Batman smiles, mostly to himself, and more rueful than
not. "What would I do without you, Alfred?"

"I shudder to think." Footsteps, moving away.


"You have nothing to lose, Master Bruce -- nothing you
would allow yourself to count, in any event. There is, I
believe, much that could be gained. Good day."

Batman holds the slip of paper between his fingers, and
tries to remember how to be Bruce.

Harvey's Bruce.


In the end, he doesn't trust himself to make the phone

There's no logical reason why doing this in person
would be any easier, and any number of reasons why it
will be infinitely less *safe*, and yet.

Bruce Wayne is standing in the hallway outside of Harvey's
new apartment. There is nothing special about the decor --
it's of the sort of mild, aging grandeur common to Gotham
architecture of a certain age.

There is no sign of... anything in particular.

Batman takes a deep breath. Pushes the pieces of himself
into place.

And knocks.

Footsteps beyond the closed door, not particularly fast or

"Just a sec..."

Harvey's voice. Harvey's. A little older, a little rougher from
the cigarettes he'd been smoking off and on since prep
school. No hint of Two-Face's rasp, not yet, and -- the door


Harvey's smile stretches easily, symmetrically across his
face. Batman has seen it before, any number of times since
the surgery, and in any number of places.

Bruce can't stop staring.

"I..." he tries, and Harvey's smile turns rueful. It's an
expression that's all too familiar, though not from seeing it
on Harvey's face.

"I know. *Believe* me, I know." He scrubs a hand over
his bald head, and stares at his hand in a moment of
obvious consternation. "I keep forgetting about the hair,
too. Or. The *lack* of hair." Harvey's expression has shifted
into something open and youthful. Desperately

"They... it was because of the surgery?"

Harvey nods. "They could've just shaved *that* half,
but... I'm glad they didn't."

Bruce nods back, dumbly. Swallows.

"Would you... please, come in. Please."

They brush close enough that Bruce can smell his
cologne. It's nothing he's used before, but pleasant.
Masculine with an edge of softness.


He stops in the middle of the room, and looks around.

"What do you think?"

"It's nice," he says, and thinks seriously about kicking

Harvey chuckles. "Yeah, I know it isn't what you're used
to, but... it's mine. I'm *paying* for it with... you know
I'm working in the DA's office again, right?"

Batman nods, and has to struggle to drag Bruce far
enough back to answer, to *look* at the man.

Harvey is nothing but hopeful.

"I... I heard. Are you..."

"Bruce. Can I... can I take you to lunch, or something?"

"I already ate." It comes out in Batman's voice, and Bruce
bites his lip. Shakes his head. "Harvey --"

"I know. I know. This is... this is crazy enough for *me*. I
feel sick every time I pay for my bus fare with coins. I... I
can't imagine what this must be like for you."

He tries a smile. "It's a little crazy, yeah."

"You were always my best friend, Bruce. I just. I just
wanted you to know that."

I would've told you *everything*, is what Batman doesn't
say. The smile on his face feels plastic and false. He feels
like a monster trapped inside a mannequin, seconds from
breaking free.

Harvey just smiles at him, one hand reaching.

And he only means to take it, shake it in some easily
deniable moment of sympathy, of old friendship, but he
winds up pulling Harvey in. Holding him close, holding him
*hard*. "I missed you," he whispers into the man's
shoulder, and Harvey squeezes him so hard he can't

There are a lot of reasons why he can't breathe.


Lunch is in a surprisingly quiet upscale deli a few blocks
away from Harvey's new apartment. Lightly inoffensive
jazz plays in the background, and the loudest noises
come from silverware hitting and scraping plates.

They aren't the only two people here, but it's after two,
and the deli has settled into that post-lunch/pre-dinner

The salmon was excellent.

Harvey eats his sandwich almost precisely the way he
always did. Just a little faster.

A little more focused.

If you hadn't known how long the man had spent in
prison, you might not notice.

Bruce tries not to.

Harvey finishes his sandwich and dabs at his mouth
with the napkin, takes a sip of his iced tea, and frowns
at his plate.

Bruce knows exactly how quiet, how watchful he has
been, and wonders how much longer he can keep it
up before Harvey... notices any more than he already

"So. I'm curious, Bruce."


"You were never all that *much* for small talk, but..."
A pained look. "Is it me?"

"I..." And he has to think about that for much, much
too long. On the one hand, Batman had allowed Bruce
to mature considerably over the years. The reputation
as flighty, perpetually eligible bachelor had been
well-established, after all.

On the other hand...

"I'm not sure." So much more honest than he wants it
to be.

Harvey nods at him. "Do you... do you have any
questions? I... I'll tell you anything, you know. I just

"It's hard."

"I just want to make it easier. I want you back in my

I'm afraid, is what Batman doesn't say.

He isn't sure if Bruce would.

He isn't sure, at all.

He watches Harvey's hand move slowly across the
table, and doesn't flinch when it covers his own,
warm and callused and large. "I missed you, Bruce," he
says again. "More than I know how to say."

Bruce swallows, and turns his hand palm-upward,
clasping Harvey's.

Holds it tight.


When they met, Bruce was young.

Young enough that he hadn't trained his memory,
trained *himself* to remember every little thing that
might turn out to be important. The Cave and the
cowl had been a vague sense of something for the

Batman had been, for the most part, a comforting

Bruce had *been* Bruce.

And Harvey had been...

Batman forces himself to look back, to sift through
every available memory. He considers putting himself
under hypnosis, but rejects the idea.

He's been over this ground a hundred times if he's been
over it a dozen, and Harvey had been...

A child.

Tall for his age, and handsome enough. The adolescent
awkwardness mostly showed up in the crudity of his jokes,
and the way his hands and feet had outpaced the rest of
him, in terms of growth.

"You're really kind of a quiet kid," he'd said on a day that
may or may not have been the first.

Batman remembers watching Harvey through Bruce's eyes,
and seeing nothing but Just Another Child, perhaps softer
around the eyes than most. "Yes," he'd said. "I am."

And Harvey had grinned, lop-sided in a way that fails to
feel ominous even now. "It's okay. Sometimes we all need
a little quiet."

"Your dinner is waiting, Master Bruce."

Batman startles, just a little. He'd learned the vast majority
of what he needed to know about stealth solely from living
with this man. "Oh, Alfred. I meant to tell you --"

"Your lunch with Master Dent was nine hours ago."

"I..." Batman grins to himself. Right. "Dinner's in the

"As always."

Alfred leaves, not shutting the door behind him.

The memories will be there when he's done eating.


Patrol is light enough.

When he swings over to Gotham Central, there's someone
waiting, idly. Shape and body language fixes her as
Detective Montoya before he's close enough to see her.

The signal is off, and there are no secretaries or civilian
aid personnel visible.

He lands on the roof, and wonders why he came.

Jim has been retired...

It's already been too long.

He waits for Montoya to sense his presence, watches her
do so with something like a sudden, universal tension
that bleeds out into the night. She doesn't look at him.
"What can we do for you tonight, Batman?"

Which is an excellent question. "I've been looking into

A raised eyebrow is all the average person would see,
but there's a snarl behind her face. "Oh?"

"Nothing. Yet."

"Understood. Do you..." She doesn't relax so much as
slump. She's thinner than she was when last he was
this close. "It can't possibly be over." It isn't, quite, a

There's a sickness within him. Two-Face has hurt so
many, many people. "Nothing ever ends."

A sharp laugh, and she pulls a pack of cigarettes from
her shirt pocket.

He hadn't realized she'd started smoking.

"You have to wonder," she says, smoke wreathing her
features. "Maybe those docs could try their hand on
Ivy, or Joker. We could all be out of a job in a few

"This is Gotham, not Metropolis."

She smirks at him and blows smoke with something
like playfulness. "You wouldn't have it any other way."

He lets himself smile, a little, and starts to turn.

"He misses you too, you know."

It takes a moment to settle in. Jim, not Harvey.

"I know you know where he lives. Drop in some night.
Give the old man that coronary he's been waiting for."

He doesn't bother to respond, just shoots off a grapple.

He can see her mocking little wave from out of the
corner of his eye.

Nothing ever changes. Not really.

He wishes he could find it comforting.


Morning finds him staring at the phone in the study.


He's wiped his own fingerprints away three times.

He doesn't...

Bruce was seventeen when he realized what it meant
that he couldn't stop watching Harvey. Stop *looking*
at him.

On the football field, at the combined dances with the
Chesterbrook School for Ladies.

He'd already had other things to think about.

Many, many other things.

It wasn't just another secret to hold within himself, it
was a *different* secret. A special one, to change the
shape of his smile when Harvey threw an arm over his

When Harvey slumped against his bed, drunk on cheap
wine and spinning dreams of the future.

Their future.

"I think... Bruce, all of these guys are *useless*, you

"Useless, how?" he'd asked, and carefully not stroked
Harvey's thick, dark hair.

"I just can't see any of these guys doing *anything* when
they get out of here. They'll go to the right schools, and
they'll join the right fraternities, and when they graduate?
They'll all go work for Daddy or disappear into some
mindless money-making factory of a law firm."

"The best and brightest," he'd said, and been pleased that
just the *right* note of sarcasm had made it into his voice.
Batman was so much closer than a dream.

Harvey had snorted and aimed a clumsy blow at him from
over his shoulder.

It would've been easy to avoid.

He hadn't.

"You know I'll be taking over my father's company," Bruce
had decided to remind him.

"Yeah, they've been grooming you for that pretty much
since birth, haven't they?"


"You're not going to be one of them," Harvey had said,
and there hadn't been anything like doubt in his voice.
Anything like a question.


"Nah. You talk a good game when Luthor's being a prick,
but I *know* you, Bruce."

Warmth in his belly.

"You're going to do something with WayneTech. Something
big. Something... something that means more than just
money for your stockholders."

The truth was, he hadn't even considered it. It was just
going to be part of the cover he used, the *mask* he used
to be Bruce Wayne. But... "I hope so."

Loose, easy smile over Harvey's broad, broad shoulder. "I
*know* so, man."

Batman remembers wanting to kiss him, wanting it so
badly that he could taste the wine on his tongue, that he
could feel his mouth as something almost separate from
the rest of his body, tingling and ready, so ready.

And then Harvey had stood on shaky legs and stretched,
and before he could want other things, things that had
haunted his dreams...

Harvey had yawned.

"Right. Bedtime for me. That history final's gonna be a
bitch, isn't it."

"You studied."

"Yeah, but not like *you* did, I bet." He shook his head.
"I'm gone."

And he was.

And Batman never kissed him.

Usually, there was reason enough for Bruce not to do so.
Girlfriends, real enough for Harvey, necessary for Bruce.

His secret, held close.

Batman stares at the phone, and has no idea what to do.

"I find myself curious, Master Bruce."

He blinks himself back to awareness. "About what?"

"While it is true that I haven't any *definite* idea about
how your luncheon with Master Dent went, I find myself
quite sure that he'll be hesitant to contact you again,
without some word."

"It didn't go *that* badly."

A twitch of a smile. "Of course not. Terrible of me to
imply otherwise. Still, if you *do* wish to speak to him..."

"Alfred... I don't know how to do this. I don't know how
to *play* this."

"There was a time when you didn't, really, have to *play*,
at all."

"A lot of things have happened since then."

"Oddly enough, I've noticed."

"Alfred --"

"You're doing yourself no good here, Master Bruce."

"You're stating the obvious."

"And you, Master Bruce, are casting a pall over the manor
the likes of which haven't been seen since at *least* last

"I... noted."

Sharp nod, and Alfred departs without another word.

Harvey, assuming nothing happens, will be home by
six-thirty, six-forty-five at the latest.

Batman drags himself into something close enough to
Bruce for public consumption. It wouldn't hurt to tour the
research facilities.


It's five-thirty-seven and he's been sitting here for half
an hour. Lucius had chased him out of the engineering
facility. It had been... more difficult than usual to only ask
the most vague, basic questions of the scientists and

He doesn't think he succeeded.

Dr. Baylor, in particular, had been looking rather hunted
when Lucius had finally *pushed* him out the door.

A pall, right.

He isn't surprised by the depths of his own obsession,
or its effects.

Surprise would be gentler.

Harvey steps off the bus with a smile for the driver, and
begins to walk down the street.

It occurs to Batman that he hasn't planned this as well as
he could have.

Alfred clears his throat from the front seat.

"I see him."

"I could --"

They both see Harvey notice the car. *Recognize* the car.

The smile hangs off his face for a moment, ill-fitting as
prison garb and unsure. Batman opens his door, and lets
Bruce lean out just a little too far into passing traffic. Lets
him smile exactly the way he wishes to.

Harvey waits for a break in the traffic and jogs across the
street, leaning in. "Bruce?"

"Would you... are you busy, tonight?"

The smile spreads, deepens, *fits*. "Not at all."


At dinner, Harvey is entirely himself. Something in the
surroundings, perhaps -- he has only been in this house
*as* Harvey -- or just a function of the man growing
used to freedom.

Batman has no idea what he, himself, has consumed.

Alfred has long since disappeared, perhaps to brew
coffee, perhaps to wait for the next time he'll need to
beat Batman over the head with his own overweening

The wine might as well be warm, unsatisfying water.

He may be drinking too much of it.

"Harvey," he says, long before he understands that he
wants to speak, or has any idea what he wants to say.


There are no words for this. He gropes across the table,
and Harvey meets him half-way, holding his hand and
squeezing, not letting go.

"Me, too," Harvey says, and Batman doesn't.


There's a boy in him living, merely living in this moment,
too lost to even want more.

There are men warring for dominance, for *reality*, and
neither of them have any idea what they want.

It hurts so much he can't breathe.

"Harvey," he says again, and the man shudders once, all

Pulls their hands a little closer to himself, and laughs
breathily. The table is too wide for more.

Harvey leans in and exhales, hot and damp, over where
they're entwined.

The kiss makes Bruce reach down within himself and
*push* everything, everyone else away, makes Bruce close
his eyes and bite his lip.

And groan when Harvey's tongue touches his thumb.

And then it's gone, mouth and hand, and Bruce's eyes fly
open to find Harvey looking at him, looking just as wild as
he feels.


"I've wanted this."

"I didn't... I was never *sure*."

"I know."

"You... wanted it that way?"

"I thought I did."

Shaky laugh, and Harvey scrubs his hand over his head.
Freshly shaven. Bruce wants to taste him there. "Bruce..."

"We don't --"

Harvey has his hand again, thumb rubbing over Bruce's
knuckles, fast and firm. "Part of me." He winces. "I'm never
going to be able to get used to that, I don't think. It's not...
I don't *feel* that other part of myself anymore. He feels...
he feels like a bad dream, but God, I'm so afraid that
whenever I say something like 'part of me,' or 'on the other

Harvey stares at their hands. "I'm afraid of what you'll think."

"I trust you," Bruce says, and his heart hammers against his
chest in nothing like protest.

Bleak look. "I don't."


"Yeah, there's nothing... there isn't really anything I can
do about that, yet. Maybe if it had been more gradual,
maybe if..." He squeezes Bruce's hand. "Can I tell you this?
I don't have to. I don't want to --"

"Tell me," and if there's something else, *someone* else,
creeping into Bruce's voice... it doesn't matter.

Harvey either doesn't notice or doesn't care, nodding
mostly to himself. "I've been telling myself that it has
nothing to do with seeing myself in the mirror. That I woke
up *as* myself, that the only reason the... the *other*
didn't come back while I was under the bandages is that
he was already gone."


"Sometimes I think. Sometimes, I think that's the worst
part of all of this. That maybe there was nothing really
wrong with me. That I really am... just that shallow."
Rueful smile. "Or that I always was that crazy. Or both."

There's nothing to say to that.

Harvey looks up, then, and his eyes are wide and bright
and hollow. "And then I remember. And my face isn't the
worst part at all, is it?"

Bruce shakes his head numbly.

"You have secrets, Bruce. You always have. I used to...
when I was a kid. I remember I used to watch you
watching everyone else from the edges of things. Even
when you were right there in the middle of the basketball
game, or whatever. I wanted to know what was in your

Bruce closes his eyes. He can't let go.

"And then we were friends, and... it took me forever to
figure out you *were* my friend."

"I didn't make it easy, did I."

Another thumb-stroke over his knuckles. "Easy enough. You
never pushed me away." The slightest squeeze. "But you
never let me in, either. Or... not in any way I knew what to
do with."

"Harvey --"

"And then... and then it was over. Except it wasn't, because
there was a boy named Tim Drake. Your *other* ward.
After. After I --"

"Don't --"

"I knew, Bruce. And you knew I did."

His hand is going numb.

"That other part of me... did you ever wonder why I never
did anything?"

"I thought I knew."

"Maybe. Maybe you did. Because I *hated* you then, Bruce,
hated everything about you. Hated that you tried to help
me and hated that you stopped."

"I didn't think --"

"And that other part of me? Had so many *plans*. I can't
even remember all of them. I can't decide if that's a
blessing or just another thing to hate about myself."

Harvey scrabbles for his wine glass with his free hand and
drains it. Bruce can only watch.

"You know why I never did anything?"

"Tell me."

Harvey's hand flexes in his own. "Because it was *fitting*.
You showed your two halves with a mask, I had mine
written all over... written all over my fucking *face*. And
I would ask myself, at night, after I'd done one horrible
thing or another, after Batman had swooped in to drag
me back to *Arkham*...

"I'd ask myself, 'so who's the crazy one, really?'

"And I'd laugh so hard Ivy would start cursing at me, and
Joker would laugh with me even though he didn't know
the joke, and in the morning there'd be a little extra
Thorazine in the little white cups."

"I. I gave up hope. A long time ago."

"You were right to do so. Montoya..." Harvey's face twists.
"Bruce. Please tell me... is. Is Tim..."

"He's done his grieving. He's... better. Please don't talk
about him."

"No, I... I know."

They stay like that for a while, long enough that Bruce can't
*not* think about Tim any longer. The best of them, and
the most loving.

And the one who would take one look at this, at *them*,

They would deserve anything he said or did.

*He* would.

But Bruce can't let go. Not now.

And Tim isn't here. He has his team, he has his *life*. And
he's not here.

"Bruce... I have to know. We were... we were *friends*.
Would you --"


Shaky smile. "You didn't let me finish."

"I would've told you. I sometimes thought... I wondered if
you should have always known."

"I wish I could tell you that I should have."

"One day, maybe."

"I want... Bruce, I want so much."

"Come with me."

Harvey nods, and lets go. Shakes out his hand and
smiles ruefully.

Bruce flexes his own.

And heads for the stairs.


The last time Harvey was in here...

No. It doesn't matter.

The last time Harvey was here, they were both different

If there's a point, if there's any *meaning* to be found,
it's there.

Harvey's hands are on his shoulders, not squeezing so
much as touching. Rubbing.

There's a kind of free-fall in having the man at his back,
in... it's not trust. He doesn't think he'll ever manage

It's just the need, all through him now.

Harvey leans in, breathes against the back of his neck.

Bruce clenches his fists and forces himself to stay

And the kiss is wet, and soft, and hungry.

Broken for Harvey to pant against his skin, and push
*close*. Bruce reaches up for his hand and drags it
down over his own chest, over his erection --

"God --"

And Harvey thrusts against him and squeezes.

"You feel. You taste..."

Bruce turns out of Harvey's grasp, not bothering to be
gentle. Kisses his jaw, his cheek, and then Harvey
takes his mouth, wrapping his arms around him and
humming into the kiss. Not soft at all.

Bruce strokes his cheeks and tilts him in for a better
angle, and now it's almost angry, hard and hot and
Harvey's teeth are on his lip and Harvey's eyes are
open. So are his.

He pulls back just long enough to strip off his jacket
and loosen his tie and Harvey's hands are on him,
unbuttoning the shirt and... pausing.

Sharp bark of laughter. "I should have known."

It takes a moment for him to figure it out, another to
try and fail to decide how he feels about it.

His shirt is half-unbuttoned, and the bat on his chest is
glaring at Harvey, framed by his shaking hands.

"Do you --"

"Almost always."

"I think..." Harvey shakes his head. "I don't know what
I think. It's one thing to *know*, but..."

"I'm not wearing any masks tonight."

Hand on his face, stroking over his mouth. "No. No, you
really aren't, are you?"

And he knows what voice he's been using. "Harvey --"

Thumb pressed hard to his lower lip. "I know. God,
believe me -- Bruce."

Groaned out when Bruce catches that thumb between
his teeth.

When he deliberately half-closes his eyes and sucks.

And Harvey is rigid, frozen in place for a moment, another,
before he gasps. Pushes his thumb in deeper and pets
Bruce's tongue.

Cups Bruce's face and starts thrusting, pushing, staring at
his mouth with nothing but intent.

"God, you --"

Leaning in again, and the kiss is messy, messier when
Harvey stretches Bruce's mouth open with his thumb
and licks at his tongue, tearing at his own clothes with
his free hand.

Finally slipping his thumb all the way out and dragging it
down the center of Bruce's chest.

And that... he wants to feel it on his skin.

He wants all of this.

Bruce pulls back and toes off his shoes and strips down
as quickly as possible, watching Harvey do the same.
The urge to study, to *memorize* is powerful, and he
doesn't deny it. The angles of his collar bones, the flush
on his chest and the way it doesn't spill evenly over the

He knows exactly how many of them are his own fault.

The loose set of the man's mouth, and the way it tightens
into a somewhat cracked smile.


"I'm dying to know how many times you were wearing
*trouser* socks under those boots."

His own smile is rueful. "There wasn't always time for a
more practical option."

"Tell me you at least took the sock garters off."

"Most of the time."

Harvey laughs, and steps out of his pants. Catches him
by the face, in a gesture he's used a hundred times
before. Except that they were never this close. This...
he doesn't have words. "God, Bruce. I always knew there
was something about you..."

"Even before there was?"

"We both know *that* time never existed."

Bruce turns his face into Harvey's palm, and something
in him remembers this, too, even though it never
happened. "I always wondered what you saw. Why you
kept coming back."

"More. Just..."

Bruce licks Harvey's palm, slowly.

"God, I never thought..." Free hand on his chest, and Bruce
almost can't feel it through the suit. "I'm not even gonna
try to get this thing off. I'll probably get electrocuted if I
make a wrong move."

"You're not far from the truth."

"Help me?"

"Always," and it comes out flat and serious and honest.

"I was... I was talking about the suit."

"I wasn't." Bruce bites the brief webbing between thumb
and forefinger.


It only takes a moment to get the suit off, and it takes
much too long, and it barely matters with Harvey walking
them back to the bed, kissing him hard and pushing him
down with absent strength.

Sliding down to his knees to tug off Bruce's socks and lick
his calves and stroke up under his knees and spread them.

"Wait, just --" Harvey cuts himself off with kisses to the
insides of Bruce's thighs, and then leans back to pull off
his own shorts and socks, kneeling between his legs just
as Bruce sits up.

He strokes the man's scalp, but he must have shaved
with a razor. Possibly this morning. There isn't even a
hint of stubble.

"That feels..." Harvey sighs, and rubs against his hand
like an animal. Sighs. "It comes in white, you know. On
that side."

Bruce pauses.

"I can't. I can't let it grow in. I can't take the chance."

"You could dye it," he says, and wants to bite his own

Harvey just smiles, and shakes his head. "What happens
when I stop wanting to?"

"It *does* look good."

"The first person to compare me to our illustrious
president --"

"Sue them. You *are* a lawyer, again."

Low, easy chuckle. "Can't Batman just pummel them for
me? I'll get the cops to light up the signal and

Harvey winces before Bruce has to.

"God. Can we... just don't let me talk."

"Come here."

"Yeah, I..." And Harvey kneels up and in and takes the
head of Bruce's cock in his mouth, sucking easily and
shamelessly, and Bruce's body doesn't know what to do
with the feeling.

Bruce's *mind* doesn't know, because it's just
exactly --

Wet heat and suction, and his hand curves around the
back of Harvey's skull and he can't stop himself from
*pulling*, just a little.

It makes Harvey hum around him, and Bruce can't hold
in a gasp, can't stop himself from thrusting *in*.

And Harvey swallows him down, holding him by the
hips and urging him on, deeper, faster --

"Harvey --"

Eyes open and watching him with something like bleak
hunger. There's a 'please' in his gaze, and Bruce can't
do anything but acquiesce, bracing himself on his hands
and thrusting *in*. Again. Again.

So *tight*, and Harvey's eyes flutter closed, and his
thumbs press into the hollows of Bruce's hips, and control
is something elsewhere, lost in an entirely different
direction from his trust.

"Harvey. Harvey I *need* you --"

And Harvey responds by bobbing his head against the
rhythm of his thrusts, making it faster, inescapable, and
orgasm knocks the breath out of him in a gasp that
sounds more weak than desperate.

It seems, more than anything else, unconscionable.

He drags Harvey off his cock, watching his own come
ribbon down Harvey's chin before hauling him up on
the bed and licking it off, licking his way into his mouth,
and Harvey thrusts up hard against his hip, groaning
and rubbing himself off until Bruce pulls out of the kiss
and straddles him.

Holds him down.

"Bruce... Bruce, please. I'm so --"

Lost in a moan when Bruce takes his cock in hand, and
just the *feeling*.

Soft skin and hard muscle. Just a man.

Just *Harvey*, and it's something like terror.

He can't possibly get enough of this.

"I want you," he says, and it doesn't even come close to
being right enough, *true* enough, but Harvey bucks
and rolls beneath him, grabbing at the sheets and
pumping into his fist.

"You. God, Bruce, don't stop --"

"I want to taste you. Everywhere --"

"Bruce --"

"I want to be inside you. I've wanted it."

Pre-come spilling over his fist, and Harvey is panting,
moaning like it *hurts*, but Bruce knows exactly what
pain sounds like from Harvey. He'll always know.

"You... you in me --"

The gasp makes his own cock twitch, needy and wanting
so *soon*.

"Harvey. Harvey, look at me."

And his eyes are wide and clear and just as open as they
always were. As they used to be.

"I *want* you."

And Harvey spasms, arches off the bed. Comes all over
Bruce's fist, a little spattering his stomach. Bruce wills
himself to let go, but can't until Harvey shivers and
whimpers high in his throat.

And then he has to touch him, rub come all over
Harvey's chest and follow it with his tongue, his teeth.
Press him down against the sheets and --



He's not done.


He trusts his instincts.

He doesn't need to know *why* his mind wants him to
be awake, he just needs to know that it does.

He opens his eyes to find... Harvey.

Staring at him, hand hovering an inch from his face.


"I'm not even surprised. I remember... you always woke
up. Just like that. As soon as I got into your room.
Usually before." There's something between wonder and
confusion in the man's voice. "I used to wonder if you
had nightmares."

"All the time."

"I used to wonder if you'd ever tell me about them."

"I... they aren't. They aren't deep."

"Nightmares don't have to be entertaining unless you're
making a movie, Bruce."

"Touch me."

Stroke against the grain of his stubble. "I have to *work*
tomorrow. Today." But the kiss is slow and lazy and ends
with Harvey's thigh between Bruce's own, and his body
has never been more awake.

He rolls them over and rocks against Harvey's hip, sucking
the groan into his mouth and giving Harvey his own.

And Harvey wraps his arms around him and strokes his
back, not pausing at the scars. Even the ones he's
responsible for.

They're beyond that, now.

Abruptly, Harvey pulls out of the kiss and laughs.
"*Work*, Bruce."

"Call in."

"I'm not the boss, anymore. I'm not even *elected*.
They'll think I've had... an apocalyptic change of heart."

Batman nips his way back into Harvey's mouth. "Batman
will reassure them."

"Bruce --"

"You have no idea how long I've wanted you, Harvey."

And Harvey searches his eyes for a long, silent moment.

Bruce makes himself still, halts the motion of his hips
with an act of will.

"Show me," Harvey says. "Just... don't stop."


He watches Harvey sleep, brow smooth and mouth soft.

Swollen and bitten.

I love you, he says in his mind, trying it on for its size and

I always have.

Bruce would...

Bruce has never said it, not like this, not *for* this.

Bruce has been waiting to say it for many, many

Bruce also knows that now is *not* the time.

And Batman knows it can't last.

Whether or not the universe lets Harvey run with his
second chance, something will happen.

A bullet, a betrayal.

Gotham being Gotham.

It would be easier if Batman had no place here, but he

It was almost inevitable that he would.

Bruce hopes that they'll have enough time for it to feel
as right and natural as it could.

As it, perhaps, should.

Batman kisses Harvey's forehead and dresses for patrol.

And doesn't hope for anything, at all.