And felt it was glory
by Te
February 16, 2007

Disclaimers: Not mine, oh woe.

Spoilers: Desperately vague ones for desperately old
storylines. In an AU way.

Summary: It didn't start with the sex, and it didn't end

Ratings Note/Warnings: Some sexual content which
dovetails with the content some readers may find
somewhat disturbing.

Author's Note: Fourth in the "Human Things That Fly" series.
Will not make sense without the others.

Acknowledgments: The usual folks get all the lovin'. All.


Sometimes he feels really stupid in the uniform -- not that
he'd ever say that out loud. Of course, one of the things
he's picked up in the couple of years he's spent as Robin is
that sometimes the things which don't get said out loud are
the ones you need to watch out for.

So --

So, not that Jason's all that interested in getting in touch
with his inner stagnant pool of childish low self-esteem or
whatever, but the third (maybe the fifth) time he catches
himself feeling it, feeling *stupid* in the suit, he takes a

Takes a *breath* on one of the mandatory breaks it's
become routine for him to just take -- whether or not
Bruce is there to throw Batman at him until he knuckles
under -- and thinks about it.

It starts to be a relief to do it pretty fast, actually --

Dick's his kid brother, and just starting to stretch out and
fill out, and *he* doesn't know it yet, but there's going to
be another Robin on the street pretty soon.

One that can still fly, and move, and *be* all the ways
Jason was on his best days in the circus. It's not that he's
lost it all -- if he ever did, Jason thinks he'd probably have
to kill himself. It's just that he's lost enough.

So, there it is, really.

Dick's gonna be Robin in something pretty much identical --
save for the colors and armor -- as the costume Jason wore
when he was a flyer.

In the...

Anyway, it's normal. Little brother all grown up, and a
healthy dose of stage envy-jitters, besides. He'd learned
how to deal with that before he'd known most everything
else he knows now -- suck it up, smile, and remember how
good it feels to watch someone move the right way, the
*best* way.

Remember that there's just no bad in a Robin flying, and
that --

And that it was Dick's name first, and the second he's out
here, really *out* here with Jason, it's gonna feel like a key
sliding into a lock, like the weight that makes the teeter
stop tottering. Just -- balance. His suit, Dick's name, *their*
city to beat and push into something worth claiming.

He's fine.

It's just that it's not the whole thing. It's not...

See, ladies and gents --

(And Jason's never actually thought there was a real
audience inside his head -- there's *no* room in Arkham
for him, thanks a lot for your time and attention -- but he's
also never really stopped doing this, stopped *needing* to
do it this way -- twirling and moving under the hot, heavy
spots inside his brain and talking it *out*.)

Ladies and gents, once upon a time there was a real pretty
boy, and a real fucked-up man. Oh, now, you think you've
heard this story before -- you could *swear* you did -- but
you haven't.

Because, the thing is?

It didn't start with the sex, and it didn't end there.

Oh, he knows how it looks from outside the bedroom door,
and even how it sounds -- but it's not like that. Really, really

And the fucked-up man is actually kind of sweet, and --
romantic, and so damned *stupid* about both of those
things --

Well, the real pretty boy kind of couldn't help himself. It's
not that if you'd *asked* the boy what sort of outfit he'd like
to wear to fight crime he would've picked something this
close to his greens and golds and tights and sparkles, but --

The look on that man's *face* when he'd taken the brand
new suit out to show the boy, the new *uniform* out --

Oh, all right. Maybe you *do* know the story. Maybe we
all do, because it's the same old thing with a few shiny little

Because the boy is wondering if he's ever going to grow out
of these clothes, and the man still looks at him like he's just --

Like Jason's just --

Perfect, maybe.

Like the swooping dive he makes when this particular purse-
snatcher runs into just the right alley for Robin and the
wrong one for him. The idiot had even been stealing the
kind of cheap knock-offs that couldn't possibly have
anything *real* valuable in them -- as opposed to
necessary for the women he'd fucked over.

Still, the guy's *also* stupid enough to call him a fairy, and
there's always something kind of -- invigorating, Bruce
would say -- about kicking the crap out of people like that.

Pretty soon, he'll get to watch Dick do it, as opposed to just
practicing it out with him. And that's --

That's just fine.

So, he's feeling good about it by the time he gets back to the
Cave -- not just a little good, even. Because, really -- there'd
just be something *missing* about nights like this if he'd
stopped Bruce way back then and convinced him to butch
things up like *he* was thinking. (*Crime* fighting! And
you'd think someone would drop a dime on some of those
muscle-queen motorcycle cops *one* of these days.)

He's good.

It's just --

Well, he's also kind of curious about things, so he hangs
around the Cave after he's showered, fiddles through the
make-up boxes just in case Alfred has added anything
interesting and new, jogs up the stairs when something
small and warm that he likes a lot reminds him to check
on Dick (sleeping the sleep of the kid who doesn't know
what's going to happen in a few nights), and heads back

Eventually, Bruce shows up -- no.

That's the thing he always forgets, because he usually
*doesn't* wait around for Bruce -- no need to send
messages like that unless he has to -- and so it's always
kind of --

He thinks, maybe, it would be different if one of those
times when he *does* wait, he settled himself in a direct
sight-line of where the driver's seat of the car would be
once it's parked, because... because it's not really Bruce,
at all, who steps out of the car, and takes those couple of
steps before sensing or smelling him or whatever.

It's Bruce who peels back the cowl, who takes another few
steps before stopping, searching Jason like maybe he
could manage a full cavity-crawl with just his freakin' eyes.
It's Bruce who smiles, still so fucking tentative sometimes,
as if Jason has ever been serious about picking up and
moving one day.

He'd never even started saying things like that out *loud*
until he knew he wasn't going anywhere, and --

And it's same story, because Bruce doesn't start moving
again until *he* does, and Jason's known *almost* from
day one all the good it does when he reaches out to touch
Bruce somewhere -- anywhere, even the gauntlet like
now -- and all the --

All the everything else, too.

Bruce's cheek is Gotham-cold in the second it's pressed
against Jason's own before the kiss hits, and his mouth his
hot and hungry. They don't really do this all that much
*right* after patrols -- not since Jason started doing his
own routes as much as he does. It's always been like this,
too fast and too intense and too much like they're just two
guys, instead Batman and Robin or even Bruce and the
Jason he's pretty sure he is, the one who can remember
words like 'psycho' and 'that guy is.'

Even laughing into Bruce's kisses is familiar now, and how
Jason's dick always *has* to sit up and take notice when
the man starts to shake. "Hey," he says, and gives Bruce a
little more time just to hold him (have him) like he wants.

"Yes," Bruce says -- eventually -- "Was there something...?"

"Nothing big," Jason says, and eases his way out of the
clench. And has to fight back that one little moment he
always forgets, that need or desire or whatever to *really*
get away, because it's Bruce who's looking deep in his
eyes and not touching him so loudly Jason thinks he's
going deaf, but it wasn't Bruce at *all* who got out of
that car.

("There's something -- there's something I need to show
you, I think. I -- honestly, Jay, I'm not sure, but I -- I
think I need you to know the truth about -- about me.")

Still, it's not something he's ever been able to touch, no
matter how much he's *sure* Bruce wants him to, and it's
not like he's really sure he *wants* to touch it, anyway.
So. "Yeah, I had a question about the uniforms, actually.
Mine and soon-to-be Gold's."

Bruce nods, and the hand on his shoulder would actually
*be* just a hand on the shoulder if it wasn't for -- well,
everything. Bruce leads him over to one of the
workbenches, and pulls out his sketchbook, and it's kind
of distracting as hell, actually. Jason's seen it before, and
even looked through the thing before -- there *is*
always something to be done to make their uniforms
better, strong, and more effective -- but it's never going
to stop being a little strange, or --

It's never going to stop making it feel like there's something
sharp and painful in his throat to see all of the things Bruce
is so amazing at, things that didn't *have* to have anything
to do with (whatever got out of that car) fighting crime or...
or anything.

("Jesus, Bruce, if my mother could see this... she'd just -- I
don't even *know* what she'd *say* --" "I know how you
miss her." "Yeah, but I... yeah. I guess.")

He shakes it off and braces his hands on the table, and tries
not to focus on anything but the actual *designs* he's
looking at, as opposed to all the skill and freaking --
*emotion* that shows up every time Bruce sketches
anything but Bat-suits. As he'd suspected, the last several
designs are the closest ones to what *he* wears every
night. Cape, tights, tunic. The colors aren't quite
*reversed* -- except for the cape -- but the golds are
kind of bolder.

If time and space got all fucked-up and he and Dick
wound up in the same place and time as their parents
again... well, chances are both the Todds and the Graysons
would have to look twice to know which one of them was
which. It feels...

"It's -- I tried others. This one here is the one which is
mostly done, I -- I'd actually been hoping for your input,
and. Well. How do you..."

"Dick's gonna look so incredible in this, Bruce, I just --"

"Yes. He -- yes." It doesn't sound like the end of anything,
much less a sentence, and it's not actually *better* when
Bruce runs his fingers down the page.

He'd even gotten Dick's *smile* just right.

Jason reaches out to brush Bruce's hand aside for his own,
and just... all of a sudden, he doesn't know what to say at


"You know, I -- you remember how Dick was when he got

"More than I --" Bruce shifts beside him a little. "It was -- it
was difficult, back then. It was -- his eyes were a little too
much like mirrors for me to... I thought, perhaps, I had
done him a disservice by taking him in --"

"Yeah, I --"

"Until I saw the two of you together."

The funny ('funny') thing about it all is that it's easier to
keep the wince in *because* of everything he can feel
Bruce not *quite* saying about how close he is to Dick.
About -- Jesus, fuck it. "Sometimes you're jealous of the
two of us, aren't you? Even though there isn't --"

"I -- I would've enjoyed having an older brother like you,
Jason," Bruce says, and for God's sake actually *smiles*,
a little -- eyes crinkling not *enough* to hide all the
warmth and humor Bruce just expects him to *share* --

Jesus. Just -- that he can just come out and *say* things
like that -- Jason shakes his head. "That's not -- I mean,
it is what I meant, I just... look, never mind."


"It's okay, I just -- for a minute there --"

"There was -- you were going to say something about the

And the hand on his arm is still in the gauntlet, and it's all
right there on Bruce's face -- how *much* he wants to be
able to just burn the thing off with his *mind*, how much
he wants to be able to just *reach* --

There's no real choice, and there never is. There just can't
be. Jason stands straight and reaches across his own body
to cover Bruce's hand with his own. "It's nothing --"


And the thing is, Jason *knows* it's a request for him to
say anything, or do anything. He doesn't even expect
Jason to tell anything *true*, but.


Maybe the gauntlet-hating thing is more than just the lack
of skin-on-skin. Maybe it's all about the man, the *thing*
that rides in and out of Gotham on nights when Jason's
doing his own thing, and how maybe it can't ever be
around if *he* is. So --

So the smile's not all that real, but it's good enough, rueful
and soft and it's-okay-I-promise. Jason breaks the contact,
closes the sketchbook, and pushes it aside enough that
he can jump up to sit on the table, bump shoulders a little.
It's nowhere near enough to get that bone-hunger out of
Bruce's eyes, or even make it a little warmer, but it's
enough to get his attention.

"It's just that sometimes I feel a little strange being out
there in my suit -- not strange being Robin, and not even
really strange in the *suit*... except for how it's so
*close* to what I wore to be an acrobat, to be the third
Flying Todd --"

"Too close...?"

"I -- sometimes? Most of the time, it feels great just to be
out there, to be out there just *like* that. Other times, I
wonder what I'm -- what *that* me is doing in Gotham, in
some *city* for so long --" It's not a surprise that that
brings Bruce's hand *right* back to his skin -- thigh this
time -- or that the gauntlet is finally gone. "And then
sometimes it just makes me wonder too much what I
would've been wearing if I *was* still a Flying Todd."
Jason smiles and presses his thigh up against Bruce's
palm. "You know, we'd only been wearing the costumes
my uniform was based on for six, maybe seven months
before -- before Croc. We changed them pretty often."

"Do you want to change the basic design? I do have --
there are other sketches."

Hidden sketchbooks? From *him*? Jason can't help the
smile. "You never stop surprising the hell out of me, you

"Hmm. It seems like it would, perhaps, be dangerous if I
did, Jason."

And Bruce's eyes are all Jason needs to let him know that
the man wasn't talking about the street. "Yeah, maybe,"
Jason says, and bumps Bruce's shoulder again. "I wouldn't

"Mm. I -- to be honest, there are also... well, there are
preliminary... if you wanted to try one of them on. I

The laugh comes out more like a cough -- of *course* Bruce
had already *made* the things, why didn't he *think*, it's
not like Bruce needs to sleep like human sane people. "I --
why don't you ask me after Dick and I have been on the
street together for a while, hunh?"

"Considering the symmetry, Jay...?"

And sometimes Bruce is just Bruce, sly and brilliant and --
on to him. Jason grins and jumps down from the table,
stretching a little fake and yawning a lot real. "Aesthetics
are important, Bruce. I told you that, already," he says,
and jabs Bruce lightly in his back armor.

"I could never forget --"

"Uh, huh," and the thing is...

The thing is that he could just say -- or *wave* -- goodnight
and leave it at that. He always could, and he always knew it.
Bruce would gnaw through his own skin and eat a few
major organs if he ever thought he was being *abusive*,
or even a little manipulative -- when it came to (love) sex.

And *because* it's the same old story it ever was, it's why
he can't do anything of the kind.

So he turns when he reaches the stairs, and gives Bruce a
different smile. "Don't take too long in the showers, hunh?"

And *then* he jogs up the stairs -- he has enough time to
look in on Dick *once* more, if he plays it right --

It's just that he's not fast enough to miss the sound of his
name echoing in the Cave, again.

.By calling into darkness.