A triumph of peacocks
by Te
October 3, 2006

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers: Not even remotely.

Summary: The curve of her raised eyebrow inscribes
volumes of elegantly careless polemic.

Ratings Note: Sexual content which may or may not
dovetail with content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Petra found me a poem. I began writing
as soon as I saw the first stanza. This will not make
any sense whatsoever if you haven't read at least
a little of The Fools Who Do series.

Acknowledgments: To Petra and Katarik for audiencing
and encouragement.


"Bruce, I'm... discontent."

The image presented is, of course, perfection:

First and foremost, they are in the library -- one of the few
rooms in this wing of the manor which is capable of catching
the afternoon sunlight to any noticeable degree. Someone --
the scene calls for a certain degree of disingenuousness --
has arranged the drapes such that, when someone else
enters the room, they will not be dazzled by the glare.

Bruce allows himself the luxury of seeming to consider how
best to continue his entry into the room... but Tim does not
shift. Bruce continues along the path of best visibility -- as
he is supposed to.

The chaise is one of the items of furniture Bruce has never
felt any great need to use. It had been his mother's favorite,
as this had been one of his mother's favorite rooms.

The memory of her with a volume of poetry, or one of the
literary magazines she both funded and steered -- with an
admirable ruthlessness -- between her slim, pale hands as
she lounged is, in fact, briefly overlaid on Tim, but only
because he so chooses.

His mother approved of the chaise because of its comfort,
and the way it allowed her to rest her chronically sore
elbows (tennis, squash) while reading. She would never
have arranged herself thus -- on her side, with one hand
curled delicately over the edge and her cheek resting on her

Furthermore, his mother had been rather viciously intolerant
of the physical complaints of those people too foolish to
keep from doing things like -- as an example -- positioning
themselves in ways designed to both accent the curves of
their hips and waists and, thus, to abuse their own spines.

His father had once, in Bruce's hearing, complained to
Alfred's father about the unfortunate necessity of taking the
most vulgar sort of utilitarian offices away from the home if
only to prevent Bruce's mother from haranguing his
patients for their impractical, unhealthful habits.

It is entirely possible she would've been tempted to box
Tim's ears.

For a moment -- it may very well be a stray and unplanned-
for bit of glare -- the expression on Tim's face is as wry as
the man he ought to be might wish.

After that, there is only the languid perfection of Janet's
shamelessly vulpine loveliness. Her eyes are limpid pools
that belie the blue's natural cool sharpness, and -- yes.

Tim has precisely enough control to make the drape of those
limbs seem more natural than painfully affected, despite --
or, perhaps, because of -- the fact that only the length of
the gown he's wearing is disguising the bone-deep bruise
along his left calf muscle.

As he watches (and waits, of course), Tim allows his
eyelashes to dip. He is backlit enough that the thickness
and curl has an otherwise unwarranted plausibility. Or,
perhaps, Janet is merely fatigued by the crushing ennui of
her -- their -- existence.

"My darling," Bruce says, dropping into a terribly inefficient
crouch, "surely there's something I might do, some service
I might provide --"

Janet's sigh is more visible than audible -- the tantalizing
shift of curves (tortured angles) under silk.

It is, as has become disturbingly usual, very difficult not to
laugh. For all that doing such a thing would suit the persona,
it would be entirely inappropriate for the tableau. And so.
"Come now, Janet. You mustn't make it *difficult* for me
to give you pleasure."

"Mustn't I, Bruce?" The flash in her eyes speaks of
long-banked resentment -- anger would be gauche, rage

Bruce spreads his hands, which are large and clumsy and
vulnerable as they dangle -- ludicrously -- from the sleeves
of the jacket and shirt he'd worn to Wayne Enterprises
earlier. "It's only reasonable, passionflower --"

Janet's lashes lower further still, and her mouth twists --

"-- Darling, I mean," Bruce says, and does his level best to
drum up something of a blush to go along with his widening
eyes. "Surely you understand that I can hardly help at all if
you won't tell me what's wrong...?"

"You," Janet says, sniffing and rolling over onto her back,
"should already know."

The impressive thing -- one of the several -- is that despite
the fact that it would be infinitely easier for Tim -- for
*Janet*, in this position, to lounge in a way which would
be soothing, if not actually therapeutic, she has chosen to
press against the back of the chaise with her shoulderblades,
and against the base with her hips.

This is, when he considers, the *only* possible explanation
for the way her breasts thrust outward even as the gown
pools teasingly at the hollow between her legs. The part of
him which has neither place here at this moment nor
place within, again, the man he is supposed to be... is
desperately curious about Janet's current undergarments.

Still, patience is but one of the touchstones of a civilized
mind, and so Bruce merely shifts so that he may rest one
ridiculously large arm on the nearest rest of the chaise --

Janet doesn't -- quite -- sniff --

-- and quickly remove it from the range of his lover's disdain.
"Cherry blossom --"

The cut of Janet's eyes toward him is, actually, quite slow
for all of its viciousness.

"By which I mean darling --"

The 'hum' suggests the polar opposite of mollification.

"You're absolutely correct that I should understand the
depths of your -- discontent. I've been terribly inattentive --"

"Inexcusably so."

"And I am -- clearly -- unworthy of even your most meager
attentions --"

"Much less," she says, and the curve of her raised eyebrow
inscribes volumes of elegantly careless polemic, "my

Bruce nods solemnly. "Truly, cabbage..."

The pause, while obvious in its deliberation, gains him the
sight of Janet slipping the tip of her tongue between her
teeth for just long enough to bite it.

"... I mean, of course, *darling*... I simply don't know how
you put up with me."

For a moment Janet is still enough that only the careful way
in which she -- *first* -- widens her eyes can protect her
fragile beauty from dangerously obvious levels of

Her upbringing simply wasn't careful enough to keep her
brow milkily free of wrinkles, it's sad to say.


"Yes, my night-blooming jasmine...?"

"I believe there *might* be something you can do for me,

The hand he has been keeping clenched at his side is just
sweaty enough to make Janet's moue of distaste both timely
and acutely real when he rests that palm on her ankle. "I'm
all... ears, of course."

This sniff is entirely audible. "You *men* --"

It's terribly inappropriate to place enough weight on Janet's
ankle to keep her from moving it aside. It's equally so to
lean in, to loom, to allow his body enough of the meaning
and rationale he has worked for to --

For a moment, he is lost. Janet's eyes are as wide, as
*open* to him as they ever were, as he has ever made them
with his fingers or his lips or his tongue. Bruce stares --

And, after much too long, finds himself in both the sharp
line of Janet's -- *Tim's* -- jaw and the narrowing of his

"I have mentioned," he says -- and has only their years of
acquaintance to assure him that his voice is not too
terrible -- "that all men are beasts, Janet."

"So you have," Tim says, in a voice which is soft but not --
very -- high. There is nothing especially feminine in the
muscular strength of the kick which dislodges Bruce's hand,
but the spin Tim uses to both sit upright and force the gown
he's wearing to fall, once more, into an illusion of a
modesty is something else altogether.

Something -- endlessly -- addictive. "Janet --"

"Bruce," he says, and, after a moment, he is resting his
elbow on the back of the chaise, and her knees are pressed
together, and his ankles are crossed.

He cannot keep himself from wincing -- the position is surely
pressing the bruise against the beautiful but not especially
soothing carvings on the chaise.

"Men may be beasts," he says, and cups Bruce's chin in his
hand. The tip of his ring finger -- where there are the fewest
calluses -- brushes lightly against the grain of Bruce's

"Yes, darling...?"

"And yet I have found even the lowest beasts capable of
responding to --"

"A firm hand...?"

The smile is in the tightness at the corners of Tim's eyes,
and the whisper of one smooth knee against another, and
under silk. "Training," he says, and taps twice at the hinge
of Bruce's jaw.

As expected, there is no padding at Tim's hips today beyond
the gentle illusion of his gown.

In a perfect world, meeting Tim's eyes now would provide a
more detailed answer than the 'yes' Bruce has not been able
to stop feeling -- *knowing* -- in or out of Tim's presence,
since that one particular spar. It is neither scent nor
sensation -- there is nothing so simple here.

There is only the crawling, fading doubt as he leans in
against the soft and subtle wall of Chanel no. 22 and the
sweat of a healthy young man. There is only the grasping
*hunger* when Tim gasps against his mouth --

And the need, surely as harsh as the press of antique wood
against Tim's bruise, when the gasp becomes:

"Good boy."

The gown --

Bruce is as careful with the gown as he can be.

After all, there's simply no telling whether Tim had removed
it from storage merely to copy it faithfully, or if it is the
same one his mother had worn to the premiere party for the
Gotham Literary Quarterly... outshining even the dazzlingly
young Janet *Drake*, if only for a few hours.

Tim's laughter remains soft and ambiguous until Bruce forces
it otherwise. Like this, he cannot see Tim's eyes at all --

But he is patient.