Being and belonging
by Te
March 5, 2004

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd probably just get
them messy.

Spoilers: Lots of vague stuff for various storylines over
the years. Most importantly, however, is the fact that
this story revolves around the rumors of upcoming
changes in the Robin book. If you're avoiding spoilers,
it would be a good idea to avoid this.

Summary: There's a new Tim order.

Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Content some readers
may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Call it my denial fic. Sort of. Essentially?
I don't think it will go this way. Title from Salvador

"In all cultures, the family imprints its members with
selfhood. Human experience of identity has two
elements; a sense of belonging and a sense of being
separate. The laboratory in which these ingredients
are mixed and dispensed is the family, the matrix of

Acknowledgments: To Livia and the Jack for
audiencing and many, many helpful suggestions. All
remaining mistakes are entirely my own fault.


He can't say he didn't see this coming.

Maybe not precisely *this*, but Tim hadn't really
expected that there wouldn't be fall-out -- from *both*
sides -- from handing in his suit, even considering the
circumstances. Repeating the words 'he knows now,'
with liberal doses of 'my *father*,' had been enough
to keep Bruce from doing more than looking grim at
him, but... there are other concerns.

One of whom is currently lurking outside his bedroom
window, and pointing at the roof.


Hello, Dick, he doesn't say.

You realize that I have nothing like the equipment to
get *up* there, right? Dick doesn't give him time to
say that.

Tim shakes his head and slips out of his room. It's
late, and his father and Dana *should* be asleep,
but if Tim were in their position, he thinks he'd
probably sleep extremely lightly these days.

He knows how to be quiet, though, even on the
creaky old stairs that lead to the attic. Making his
way *through* the attic is more problematic. No
matter how much time and effort he'd put into
training himself *not* to rely on the night-vision
option to his mask... well. It's just one more
reason to be *okay* with this, all of this, that he's
better at moving through dark alleyways full of
potential threats to his *life* than he is,
apparently, at not tripping over trunks that have
been stored in this attic since they'd *moved*

He gets to the window and reaches for the
lubricant he keeps in -- he doesn't have a belt.
Tim squeezes his eyes shut for a moment. He'll
just have to hope the window doesn't creak too

It doesn't, and he slips out easily enough. And
immediately gets *yanked* up onto the roof

"Jesus, Nightwing --"

And he doesn't have time to finish that thought,
*either*, because Dick shoves him so hard he
has to work to keep from *falling*.

"What the *fuck* --"

"Shut up."

O-kay. He shuts up, and focuses on learning the roof
well enough to keep his balance. Mild slope, no
barriers, chimney access possible for him, not
Batman -- *no*. He won't do this for his own damned

He looks at Dick instead. He hasn't pulled out the
escrima sticks, but he looks like he sincerely wants
to. He looks...

"Okay. What part of 'my father knows' didn't get
through to you?"

"The part where that *matters*."

Tim opens his mouth and shuts it again. 'Are you
*insane*?' would be somewhat satisfying, but
entirely less than helpful. And, really, Dick has fewer
*and* more issues around the word 'father' than
Bruce does, one, and had spent his childhood
around circus people and *Bruce*, two, neither of
which was conducive to developing anything like a
traditional attitude towards the concept of family.

Tim takes a breath, and doesn't think about how
wrong it feels to be on a rooftop with Dick in the
middle of the night and *not* have his uniform on.
It felt wrong to be with any of them without his
suit, even if they were in street clothes, too. Even
*before*, and... that doesn't help.

"Nightwing -- Dick. I don't have the same options
you do." And I don't *want* them.

"Bullshit --"

"It isn't --"

"*Bullshit*, Tim! You walked *out* on us."

"I didn't walk *out* on anyone," he says, and he's
not going to get angry. He doesn't have room for
anger. "Think about it, Dick. When I 'disappeared' in
No Man's Land, he put my face on every television
station he could. What do you think he'd do if I started
missing bed-checks *now*?"

("Who is Batman?" "I can't tell you that --" "Don't lie to
me, Tim. Not again.")

And Dick is still glaring. Which isn't as bad as the fact
that he *isn't* talking, or pacing, or anything else.
Some dogs bark. Other dogs go for the throat.

"Dick, *think* about it."

"I *am* thinking about it, Tim. Your Dad isn't exactly in
the same position he was in three years ago, though, is


"You heard me. All that money and the power that
went along with it is gone. He pissed it away, just
like --"

Dick blocks the first kick, the second, the back kick,
and the first punch. The second punch he catches with
his fist, and makes Tim *feel* the lack of his armored
gauntlet. He pauses long enough to catch Dick's glare,
to make *Dick* catch it, and the leg sweep is mostly

Except that Dick doesn't let go, and they both hit the
roof hard -- and *loudly*. Tim jumps away too fast
and stumbles in his bare feet. Dick catches him before
he can fall, and Tim braces himself to hit the roof
again, but -- he doesn't get thrown.

Dick holds on to his wrist, though.

"I'm sorry."

"You --" *Asshole*. "You're sorry."

Dick squeezes Tim's wrist once and lets go, planting
his feet and letting his hands hang between his knees.
"I. That was out of line."

Tim takes a -- careful -- step back, and folds his arms
beneath... he crosses his arms over his chest. "Which

If Dick is still glaring, the only thing catching it is the
roof. "I shouldn't have... I know your father is
important to you. I know you..."

Tim waits, but Dick doesn't finish the thought. He just
keeps staring down at the roof, and staring some
more until he's up and moving. Pacing, mostly, though
every time his shoulders tense Tim expects a back-flip
or something.

There are more than a few things wrong with this
picture. Dick treating him like he usually treats *Bruce*
is just one of them. And Tim doesn't wonder if there's
something he's missing -- he hasn't actually gotten to
*talk* to Dick in a while. Long enough for the
restfulness and generalized relief to fade back into
something not quite like worry.



The police force. Barbara. The circus and everything
*else* Blockbuster had fucked up, and Tim still hadn't
had time to figure out how to say "hey, sorry about
the fact that your home and everyone and everything
in it got turned into air pollution."

It's his turn to stare at the roof. "Dick."

He hears Dick stop moving. He feels it, too.

"I'm not..." And how to say this *without* being a
patronizing asshole? "I don't want to lose you.
Everyone. I don't want to lose that, too." It's almost
entirely true, which is just one more reason why he
*has* to do this.

Dick's laugh really isn't much of a laugh, at all. "You
know... you always said you wouldn't do this forever."

Tim waits. Because, well, he *had*.

"I guess I just never... I guess I didn't believe you.
Part of me wants to ask you how the hell you *can*
walk away. I mean, even fucking *Spoiler* couldn't
do it."

"Her mother *isn't* my father."


Tim looks up, and Dick is almost, almost smiling at
him over his shoulder.

"Kid, I think it's more like *you* aren't *her*."

'What's that supposed to mean' is probably the
question Dick expects him to ask. Or... maybe he
doesn't really expect anything. "I have to do this."

Dick nods a little jerkily. "Yeah, I -- shit."

Tim blinks, and follows Dick's gaze and... shit.

"Leave," Dana says, calmly and clearly, just as if
she *isn't* hanging half out of the attic window.

Dick's swallow is audible. "Mrs. Drake --"


"He's just --"

"I'm not talking to you right now, Tim."

She isn't looking at him, either. Tim crosses his
arms more tightly and tries very hard not to miss
his cape.

Dick looks at him, once, very clearly thinking about
saying *something*, and then nods at Dana. And
takes a flying jump off the other side of the roof. If
Tim focuses, he can hear -- there. The flat, popping
puff of a grapple being shot.

And Dana is looking at him.

"Dana --"

"Inside. Now."

And Dana slips back inside the window with easy
grace. It's never difficult to remember that she was
an athlete before she was a physical therapist. Tim
climbs down and into the attic. The light's on, bulb
bare and faintly yellow.

He can't quite keep from checking to see --

"Your father is still sleeping."

"Oh." It might not be the stupidest possible response.
Dana is a few feet away, her own arms crossed. No
one should be able to look that intimidating in a
fuzzy, pink terrycloth robe. "Look, I --"

"When we confined you to the house, we didn't think
we'd have to add that late night rendezvous on the
*roof* were also off-limits."

She almost -- almost -- sounds amused. There's a
reflex in him to use it, to smile just that ruefully, and
add the faintest hint of a slump to his posture. To

He winces to himself. That's over.

He looks her in the eye, instead. "When I... retired,
there wasn't time to talk to everyone. To... explain."


"I..." He never thought this would be *easy*. He
forces himself to breathe. "Robin didn't only work
with Batman. There were -- are -- others. Like

"The gentleman on our roof." There's no amusement
left in her voice.

"I can't tell you about him. I just..." I saw him when
I was a kid. I watched him. I -- "He's my friend."

"Tim --" Dana takes a deep, shuddering breath and
frowns, scrubbing one hand back through her hair
before looking at him again. "Do you have any idea
what position you've put your father in? That you've
put *us* in?"

Yes and no. "Sort of?"

Dana snorts. "Sort of. That's just..." She stops and
takes another breath, crossing her arms again. "Over
the years, you've done an excellent job of making
it difficult for your father and I to think of you as a
child. And, in just a few days, you've done an equally
excellent job of reminding us that you *are*."

It's meant as a slap, and Tim feels it. "I'm sorry."

"You've said that a lot, Tim. But you've said a lot of
things, haven't you?"

"I --"

"You *sort of* understand what your father and I
are going through right now. I suggest you go to
your room and give some serious thought to the
matter. Or you *could* go to sleep, considering the
fact that you have school tomorrow."

Tim nods, and goes, stepping over and around trunks
and boxes. He reminds himself to be clumsy.

He reminds himself that he doesn't have to be.

He can feel Dana's gaze on his back, and can't decide
which would be better.


"Well, *you've* been a barrel of dead monkeys all

Bernard. Behind him, but at slightly more distance than
usual. Curious, that. "Barrel of dead monkeys?"

"Death? Stench? Putrefaction? I was making a metaphor
about the complete lack of amusement you've provided

Tim slips the books he won't need in his locker and...
takes them out again. He doesn't have anywhere to be
tonight. He might as well do some extra reading. "No
one's ever called me a maggot-ridden dead primate,

"I have a gift," Bernard says, and slings an arm over
Tim's shoulder. "Packing it in tonight, are we?"


"The *books*, Mr. Drake. I didn't think we had *that*
much history reading to do."

"I've gotten --" Behind. No, he doesn't have to lie. "I've
got some free time. I thought I'd read ahead."

"Uh, huh. Look, darling, when I said Darla was too
much for you and mocked your imaginary girlfriend --

"Stephanie." He really ought to call her.

"Whatever. I didn't intend for you to swear off the
fairer sex altogether and take up a life of drab,
monkish solitude."

"Monks don't get grounded."

Bernard gives him a squeeze and starts steering them
both toward the exits. "Poor thing. What *did* you
do? Or what part did you get *caught* doing?"

"Breaking curfew." Every night for the past three

"And...? Come *on*, Tim. Reliving the memories
might just pull you out of this *funk*."

Doubtful. "Funk."

"Well." Bernard gives him a shove and Tim allows
himself to be moved. At which point Bernard crosses
his arms and gives him a critical look.

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"You've never precisely been the *life* of this little
party, but you do usually manage to look less as
though someone had shot your puppy."

"I --"

A motorcycle engine. A very *specific* motorcycle
engine. Tim turns to look, the crowd of high school
students shifts agreeably, and... dammit. Dick pulls
off his helmet and shakes out his hair.

Bernard gives a low whistle. "I don't suppose Ms.
Ellworth just keeled over and that's our new gym

Tim wonders if Bernard has decided to stop hinting
and just come out. He isn't going to ask. "No."

"That's for *you*?"

"No. Excuse me," Tim says, and starts to head for
the bike.

"Well, if you *are* giving up on women, I can't
fault your taste."

And that was *much* too loud, but it isn't as though
he has a lot invested in Tim Drake: High School
Student's reputation. The thought nearly makes him

He's probably going to have to change *that*
attitude, too. He grits his teeth and makes for the
curb. For *Dick*, who's *smiling* at him. He at least
*looks* a little embarrassed, but --

"I figured we couldn't talk at your house, so..."

"We can't talk *here*."

"But --"

"Think about it, Dick. Twenty-six year old guy rolls up
on his motorcycle, wearing *way* too much leather --"

"Hey --"

"Apparently to pick up his male, sixteen-year-old...

Dick winces. "I take it this isn't going to help the way
people look at you."

"Forget *me*, Dick! What the hell are they going to
say about *you*?"

And that gets him a smirk. Dick leans away a little
bit and gives him a look that's way too close to
Bernard's for comfort.

"Don't say it."

"Hey, I don't pick up just *any* underaged boys."

"You're not picking up *this* one."

The smirk fades out of Dick's expression much too
quickly. Without the mask, Dick is one of the most
naked people Tim's ever seen, and he catches himself
trying to fold the cape around himself again.

So does Dick, but amusement is better than all of
that -- than everything else.

"It's tough to get used to, I know. And even when
we sparred without --"

"Dick, we can't talk --"

"Here. I know." Dick holds up a hand, and Tim knows
exactly why the sight of the glove -- even just a
motorcycle glove -- is soothing. "Look, Tim, I have a
new place. It's not really --"

"I have to go home."


Tim crosses his arms and scans around. Not too
many people are looking in this direction, but too many
of the people who are aren't *just* staring at the
pretty man on the motorcycle. Dick is oblivious. Of
course. "I'm *grounded*. I can go to school, and I
can get on the bus to go home, and then I can repeat
the process. Last night? Didn't help."

Dick winces again. "I really want to --"

"The bus is here."

"Tim --"

"'bye, Dick."

He doesn't turn around.

And it *isn't* a surprise that Bernard saved him a
seat. Tim sighs to himself and wonders if it would be
too much like the old him to steer the discussion
toward something nice and safe, like Bernard's

The bus lurches into motion. Maybe Bernard will
satisfy himself with just staring at Tim.


Maybe not. "He's my cousin," and the lie slips out
before he can stop it. Tim bites his lip.

"Your... cousin."

It's not a bad lie.

"So why didn't you just catch a ride home with *him*?"

Tim checks with his peripheral vision, and it isn't *just*
suspicion in Bernard's eyes, there's something else,
something... there's enough suspicion to worry about.
"He's kind of the black sheep of the family."

The suspicion slips into something lighter, warmer.
"A-ha. So was *he* who you wound up breaking
curfew for?"

"Yes," Tim says.

The funny thing is that it isn't really much of a lie at all.

("I don't remember the clowns or the animals, or
anything else. I just remember waiting for *you*,

Bernard looks at him for a long moment, expectation
and something else almost entirely unreadable on his
face. Tim rereads the graffiti on the back of the seat in
front of him, and waits.

"So about your imaginary girlfriend Sherri..."


Dinner is silent and grim enough that he catches himself
looking for Alfred. It wouldn't be a terrible thing to say,
on its face. His father always seemed happier when he
had something negative to say about the time he'd
spent living with Bruce.

It's not an amusing thought. It never was.


The last thing he wants to do is remind Dana and his
father about the large, single man with the massive
amount of money and resources who Tim spent a great
deal of time with right around the time when the new
Robin started appearing on the news.

And he doesn't think either of them are in the mood to
deal with his pathetic attempts at humor, anyway.
Tim eats his... vegetables. He has to check. It's carrots
tonight, which he doesn't particularly --

"Did you finish your homework?"

"Yes," he says. And has another bite.

His father doesn't say anything else, but Tim can feel
him looking at him. He looks up, and... the last time
his father had looked at him like that, he'd been
promising to do better, to be there for him, to. "Dad..."

His father stands up, chair scraping back along the
floor, and leaves.

Tim stares at his plate.

"He's angry. He won't be forever."

Tim swallows around the lump of feeling in his throat
and nods.

Dana reaches across the table and touches his hand,
lightly, for just long enough for Tim to remind himself
to take it, to want his mother, his real mother, to
want --

Tim forces himself to breathe. "I know I can't make
either of you understand."

A breath of humorless laughter, and he looks up to
find Dana staring at him as though he'd lost his mind.
"Understand? Why you ran around risking your life in
a ridiculous little suit?"

It means more than that. It's not just -- "I know...
it's hard."

Dana sighs, and looks for a moment as though she's
thinking about reaching out again. "You won't tell us
who got you *into* this. You lied to us for *years*.
You... were you ever going to tell us?"

"I hoped to."

She nods, and folds her napkin over her plate. "We
love you, Tim. But I don't think you understand yet
what all of this *means*. I... let me go talk to your

He nods back, and focuses on folding his own napkin.
He *does* know. Maybe not exactly, but... "I wanted
to tell you, Dana. Both of you."

She pauses in the doorway, but doesn't turn around.
"Why didn't you?"

"It wasn't... it wasn't only my secret. It still isn't."

"You're really..." Dana slumps a little and turns, leaning
against the door jamb. "I think what's hurting your
father most right now is the realization that he never
really knew you at all, Tim."

"I..." He doesn't have anything to say to that. What
*could* he say? That he only lied when he had to?
That it didn't mean he didn't love them? He shakes
his head and looks back at his carrots.

"Of course," Dana says, "I *never* thought I knew

Tim winces. "I don't... want it to be that way.

"Well, then, we have a lot of work to do, don't we?"

Tim watches her go.

And clears the table.


He dreams the flicker of the television, the old one
they had at the old house. He knows his parents --
both of them -- are in the room. He knows he's
dreaming, except when he doesn't.

The channel flips to the news, and he's there, looking
down at Gotham's rooftops from --

The dream slips away as his mind reminds himself
what helicopters feel like from the inside. The noise
and constant vibration. He looks right and the
camerawoman winks at him and points out the door,
wind jangling the bells at the ends of her pigtails. And
there's something --

The sky falls out beneath him, blue-black and bright
with countless streetlights, and he gasps at the feel
of it, the jumpline in his hands, in his *gloves*, and
he knows it's wrong but his body loves it. Needs it.

Even though those aren't his gloves at all.

Even though Gotham, even after the longest, cleanest
summer rain has never smelled like --

The flowers Dana planted all the way around the house,
even far below his own window. He opens his eyes
and blinks against the unexpected darkness. The
unexpected *shadow*, and there isn't even time for
him to consider being alarmed before Dick crawls into
his bed and grins down at him.

"Hey, kid," Dick whispers, and settles in, braced
comfortably over Tim's body, just as though it were
perfectly normal for him to be in Tim's room, in Tim's
*bed*, and wearing the fucking *uniform*.

It's too much. Everything he wants to say is stupid
and obvious. Tim closes his eyes for a moment and
breathes, and decides to go for the most on-point of
the obvious statements: "You can't be here."

"I can if we're quiet."

"If we're... Dick. You show up on my roof and get
me in *more* trouble. You show up at my school
and -- I don't even want to *know* what kind of
fallout that's going to lead to. And now --"

"And now I'm *here*. I'm --"

"Acting like we're *dating* or something."

Dick freezes above him, tension everywhere Tim can
feel his body over his own, and in the shadow-on-
shadow of his shoulders.

And Tim has a moment to think he's gotten through
to the man, but then Dick... settles over him. A
deliberate increase in the weight of his body, until
it goes from 'I've already pinned you and now it's
time for the taunting,' to 'I *could* be pinning you,
and maybe I will.' "Dick --"

"Maybe we should."

He can stop himself from gasping, but there's nothing
he can do about the relentless parade of memory.
From the first time Dick smiled and hugged him
effortlessly -- *easily* -- to teaching himself how to
get out of most pins solely so Dick wouldn't feel --

Dick's mouth is hot and soft, so *soft*, and Tim can't
keep the gasp in this time. He feels himself digging
his fingers into the sheets and he feels himself
*reaching* for it, opening for it, and he feels his
heart pounding and can't tear himself out of the kiss
without whining high in his throat, short and sharp
and much too loud.


There's a rough, husky edge on Dick's voice that
makes him want to bite his lip. Want to -- "What are
you *doing*?"

And Dick *laughs* above him, quiet and open. "I
thought that was --"

"Don't fucking pretend that was what I was asking."

In the dark, Dick's face is almost entirely blank, but
Tim knows Dick can see *his* glare. "Fine," Dick
says, and *shifts*, rolling his hips against Tim's own.
Boxers don't hide anything. He isn't sure his armor
would. "Tell me you don't want it."

"I --"

"No. Fuck that, Tim. I don't really feel like listening
to you lie to me."

No one does. And it's pathetic what a *shock* it is.
How much he *feels* it, and the fact that some
large, awful part of him wants to scream 'unfair.'
Tim swallows, and doesn't have any words at all.

Dick rocks against him again and Tim shudders, he
can't help it, he wants this. He *wants* this, and he
doesn't know whether it's better or worse that
Dick's wearing his gloves, because the hand on his
face *is* gentle, but it's also so *final*.

As absolute as everything Tim's tried and failed to
avoid, or had just been too thoughtless and stupid
not to throw himself into. He closes his eyes against
the hand on his cheek, and it isn't until Dick kisses
him again that he realizes his mouth was hanging

Dick's mouth... it's still soft, and somehow that's
the most important thing, even beyond the heat of
it, and the slick slide of his tongue against Tim's
own. His mind can't seem to accept it, that this kiss
could *feel* like this, that it could be so good, so
easy. He whimpers, and Dick slides his hand into
Tim's hair, moving and holding and... petting him.

Trying to *soothe* him, and Tim tenses and Dick
kisses him harder, deeper and wetter, and Dick's
rocking steadily down against him now, and Tim
cries out into Dick's mouth and thrusts back. The
kiss gets almost painful for a second, but before
Tim can arch into it, Dick pulls back.

"Let me," Dick says, and it's the most bewildering
thing that's ever come out of the man's mouth.

*Soft* mouth, and it's on Tim's chin, sliding over
his jaw and down to his throat, and it makes him
want to force his heart to slow down, to *calm*
down, because Dick has to feel the pound of it with
his lips, that has to be why he's staying there, why
he's kissing Tim there.

Dick can feel it, and he wants Tim to *know* he can,
and Tim gets it. That 'let me' wasn't about what
they'd already done, or what they'd been doing, it's
about what Dick wants to do, and of course it's more.
Tim's hands are going to start hurting if he doesn't
stop clawing at the mattress like this.

He can't stop.

Not with Dick kissing his throat, and not when he
*moves*. Down his chest and lingering over the pound
of his heart, and that's not fair, either, and neither is
the way Tim can't stop himself from whimpering again
when Dick slides his hand out of his hair. The glove is
cool and smooth against his skin, bright like... like
some kind of *color* on his nipple, and the only
reason Tim can move his hand is that he needs to bite
his own fingers more than he needs to hold on.

At least it makes the noises softer.

And Dick is moving so *slowly*, down and down,
kissing and teasing and licking him, playing with him,
and Tim braces himself against the smirk he knows
will be on Dick's face when he looks up, but...

When he does, Dick's not smirking at all. Or even
smiling. Tim pulls his fingers out of his mouth.

"What? I mean..." Don't stop. Tim's dick twitches
and he closes his eyes and Dick makes a small, low
sound, and pinches Tim's nipple hard.

And he has time to gasp, and time to shove his fist
back between his own teeth, but that's it, because
Dick *has* him. Mouth *on* him, soft and hot and
soft and wet and Tim groans and tries to keep from
thrusting. *Squeezes* his eyes shut, and opens
them again immediately, because the sounds are too
much -- too wet and *basic*, undeniable.

The fact of Dick's mouth around him is... he can't.
He *can't*, and Dick's hands are on his hips, stroking
and cupping and squeezing and *lifting*, and Tim
tells himself the noises he's making aren't words.

Tells himself he can't understand them, even if they

And Dick sucks *hard*, and there's no consolation in
the grip Dick has on him, on the control he has,
because Tim doesn't have any of his own. All he can
do is scrabble for leverage, clutching at the
headboard with the hand he doesn't have in his mouth
and bending his knees and *fucking* Dick's mouth.

And Dick hums around him and urges him faster. He
wants this, Dick *wants* this, and Tim has to give it
to him, has to smell himself, has to know, now and
forever, that sex-sweat is different from every other

That the hot, thin wire of tension in his belly is
something bigger and deeper than anything else he's
ever had, and that he wants this, too.

He squeezes his eyes shut again, bites down hard,
and comes helplessly. Comes in Dick's *throat*, and
tries not to hit the bed too hard when he can make
himself stop arching.

And try to stop whimpering.

He can't, though.

Not until he realizes what he's feeling is Dick... shaking.
Forehead pressed to Tim's abdomen, hands still
clamped around Tim's hips and *shaking*.


Dick squeezes hard enough to hurt for a second, but
doesn't say anything.

Tim forces himself back into something like rational
thought and... no, he has no idea. Or, he does.
Everyone has a breaking point, and maybe in Dick's
brain that falls under 'incredibly bad year, capped with
making the former Robin come so hard he thinks he's
sprained something.'

The thought doesn't make him smile, or even want to.
He supposes that's a good thing.

Tim shifts, a little, and tries not to wince when Dick
squeezes him too hard again. He's going to have
bruises on his hips. He's not going to think about that.
He reaches down, instead, and touches Dick's hair

More firmly when Dick's grip on him loosens.

And then he just strokes Dick's hair, and breathes, and
tries not to wonder what he'll do if Dana or his father
decide to do a bed-check.

The house is quiet, though, and stays that way.

Even when Dick starts... hitching, he doesn't make a
sound. It almost...

He wishes Dick would move. Just... further up the
bed, or maybe just put his head on Tim's thigh, so
he could sit up and just... do this better. Maybe it's
supposed to be awkward. He doesn't know.

When Dick does move, it's away. He kneels up and
sits back on his heels. With the mask, and the
darkness, Tim almost can't see anything wrong. Or
wouldn't be able to see anything, if Dick's expression
weren't so (honest) completely off.

He curls the hand he had in Dick's hair into a loose
fist and tucks it against his side.

"I didn't..." Dick laughs, brief and quiet. "That wasn't
in the plan."

"You had a plan?"

"Actually? I did. I was going to harass you quietly and

Tim swallows. "And then?"

Dick smiles, a little. "And then we were going to talk.
About your plans, and how you were doing, and --"

"What about *you*?"

"That wasn't part of the plan." The smirk is better.
Almost comforting. "But I have to admit I fully expected
you to steer the conversation that way, sooner or later.
I figured all I'd have to do to avoid talking about
myself was keep from asking you hard questions."

He isn't wrong. Tim turns his cheek against the pillow
and winces a little at the dampness. And doesn't wince
at all when Dick runs two fingers down the center of
his chest once. Again. And...

He looks, and the glove is off.


"You do realize that we need to talk even *more*
now, right?"

Tim feels his face trying to twist and... lets it. "I don't
know what to say."

"That's fair. You --" And Dick pauses, fingers pressed
lightly over Tim's sternum. And then he taps them.
"You... aren't the same."

"I'm trying not to be."

Dick frowns. "Was it... how much..." He shakes his
head. "I guess I'm trying to figure out whether I just
had sex with a stranger."

A part of Tim wants to ask if it really matters. It would
be honest. It would be... like him, maybe. But more
of him... he doesn't ever want to hurt Dick. The
thought makes him blink, makes him...

It's like being shoved toward the end of a pier, only
the ocean is alive just like all the nightmares Aquaman
does his best to give people. Tim lets his face twist a
little more, and Dick presses his palm flat against his
chest and strokes, smiling. "You know... I didn't
actually mean to... you usually *like* being
complimented on what a sneaky little bastard you

He could say something about this not exactly being
the best time for it, but... it's not the truth. Or even
most of the truth. "I never really thought about it,
Dick. How much I lied." How much he still does.

"Hey, you... you *had* to."

Tim looks at Dick hard, and holds the look until he
knows Dick is paying attention. "Yeah," he says.
"I did."

"And now you don't."

Tim nods.

Dick is solemn for a long moment, but then he
grins, but not... it's the kind of amusement Tim has
learned has nothing to do with anything outside of
Dick's head. The hand presses down on his chest
for a second, not hard, and then Dick takes it away
and slips off the bed, standing.

Tim watches him head for the open window, and
wonders what else he's supposed to say.

Dick pauses with his foot on the sill. "You know..."


Another one of those should-be-private grins,
tossed carelessly over Dick's shoulder. It makes it
hard for Tim to breathe. "I'm looking forward to
more of you being honest with me, Tim."

No, you aren't, he doesn't say. And stares at the
window until he can hear a grapple.

It takes a long time to get back to sleep.


It's Silent Study, otherwise known as Naptime For
Teenagers. Without the faintly pee-smelling mats, or
the chance to catch up on useful rest. At first, Tim's
theory about it was that it was supposed to be a
break, a kind of half-assed apology to stressed-out

As near as he can tell, none of the teachers who
pull this duty ever actually enjoy it.

There's far too much emphasis on keeping -- trying
to keep -- a roomful of fifteen and sixteen year olds
staring down at their books and notes, and not
enough of anything else. Tim is never less productive
than he is in Silent Study, because it's nothing short
of a quiet war.

On the one side, the students spending more time
and effort in attempts to get around the rules than
most of them spend on their schoolwork, or even
their *lives* -- complete with increasingly creative
and insane methods of passing notes, slacking off,
and reading and writing anything but actual

On the other side, the teacher. Today it's Mr. Weller,
who starts each day looking pinched and frustrated
with the universe, and ends each day... Well, it isn't
the first eighth period where Tim has found himself
idly, fruitlessly reaching for something from his belt
(not anymore, not), because the man is setting off
every 'potential psychotic' alarm he has developed
over the years.

The fact that Bernard chose to sit *behind* him
today isn't helping.

When he isn't fidgeting, or coordinating the efforts
at inter-student illicit communication with the
obsessive skill of a field marshal, he's... staring.

Tim's body is warning him of mild danger, pranks and
friendly torture.

Tim's body is thinking of Dick.

Too much.

When it comes, it's only a note. The original folds are
mathematically precise, but the outside of the note has
been doodled-on and smudged and generally abused
by the note's circuitous progress around the room.

One of the doodles is a tiny, surprisingly evocative
representation of Wendy the Werewolf Stalker ripping
out Mr. Weller's still-beating -- you can tell by the
squiggles -- heart while laughing triumphantly.

That would be Ellen Marcus' work, which means the
note had made it all the way to the back of the room
*and* to the windows before getting back here.

No one is watching him from the front or sides.

Bernard's gaze is a pressure between his shoulder

Tim opens the note.

"He's not really your cousin, is he? Or --

"You know you could tell me, right? I talk about
everyone, -to- everyone, but that doesn't mean I
tell -everything-.

"Sometimes the best way to keep a secret is to
just hide the -good- stuff in a lot of entertaining
business about Danny Amondato's adventures in
testicle-shaving, and the fact that Ellen writes
execrable poetry about her true life as a dragon.
She should -really- stick to the art, don't you think?

"See? I'm doing it right now."

Tim refolds the note along the original lines and slips
it into his pocket. He doesn't understand why people
want to get so close, why they want so *much*. It's
never enough to just be with people, to settle in a
corner and enjoy the presence, the silence.

People always want *more*, and the want is always
in their eyes, adding weight to every look. They
never understand 'can't,' and they never want to.

And if you don't give them what they want, they
either leave or take it for themselves. No matter
what you want. No matter how hard you try just to
keep it together, keep a little control and sanity
and --

Tim doesn't realize he's standing up until the chair
is screeching back along the grimy tile, and by
then it's too late. They're all looking at him, and
even though none of them are metahumans, he
thinks the pound of his heart is obvious.

He thinks it's written all over his skin, with the flush
he feels creeping out from under the collar of his

They're all looking at him.

"I have to. Go."

And he does. The flash he gets of Bernard's face as
he turns for the door is a picture of confusion, of

Explanations he could never, never give.

The soft, myopic excuse for a security guard claps
a hand on his shoulder as he's walking out the door,
but a nerve strike takes care of that quickly enough.

And then the sun is in his eyes, bright and sparkling
and powerfully, irrationally accusatory. It prickles on
the bare skin of his hands and forearms, and the
heat it has given to the cement flows up through his
thin, wrong sneakers until he runs.

He doesn't have a plan. He doesn't need one. So many
things have been trained, so many things are reflexive
and simple and natural, just so long as he can forget
whose skin he's supposed to be wearing.

The bus pulls in within seconds of his arriving at the
stop, and he stares forward, only forward, and when
he can't stop clenching his fists, he shoves them in his
pockets and balances with just his legs.

He doesn't care what the other passengers see. He
doesn't care.

He gets off at Ninth and Turner and hooks right,
moving through the crowds easily, easily. He watches
a kid maybe a year younger than himself snatch a
purse, kicks him in the spine, and keeps moving.

Running now, because that was a mistake, they're
looking at him again, questioning eyes and yelling
mouths, and he gets to the alley none too soon for
his own tastes. The Dumpster is heavy, either another
garbage strike or a body, but he puts his back into it,
only sliding a little on the thing's faint, greasy film.

The false wall behind it slips in with a quiet, gritting
sound, and he reminds himself to clean and oil the
hinges the next time -- to put extra lubricant in
his --

He jumps down the chute into darkness, the door
closing behind him even before he gets all the way

It's one of the satellite hide-outs, and it's a Wayne
building, so it was never so much as damaged. Too
bad the location was so useless. They could have --

He rips off the dust-cloths and fires up the system,
pacing at the time it takes. They need to replace --

Pacing, and it's *good* to pace, because no one is
here but him, and the blank, watching eyes of spare
suits. He manages to pull his kick before he shatters the
glass over the Robin suit and pacing is.

He drops into a crouch and buries his face in his hands
and holds on. And remembers -- shit. He flips the
manual override on the cameras just as Oracle's voice
comes through the speakers.

"You -- that wasn't bright, stranger."

Tim hits the overrides on the gas vents, too. "I'm not a

"R -- T -- Dammit, explain yourself *now*."

"I need Nightwing's address. The new one."

"Turn the cameras back on."

"I need --"

"Turn the cameras *on*, kid. You're not the only one
with overrides."

Of course he isn't. Of course he -- Tim swallows back
a laugh, looks directly at the nearest camera, and
turns them all back on. "Satisfied?"

"You look like hell."

It's even less pleasant to hear in Oracle's simulated
voice. "I need --"

"I heard you. Is there a reason?"

"Since when are you this fucking *protective*?"

The mask, of course, doesn't change. But Tim can
feel Barbara, just the same. Barbara. Someone else
he'd lied too much to. Someone else who wasn't as
much of a friend as she could've been.

"I -- shit. I'm --"

"Check your e-mail."


"It's still in the system. For now."

Tim takes a breath. "Thank --"

"Oracle out."

"I'm sorry," he says to no one. "I'm sorry."

Oracle's message is Dick's address, and a map showing
the fastest route from his current location which he
doesn't really need. He pretends she means it as...
as a gesture, instead of a rebuke.

It doesn't have to be --

He thinks of his father, and the smell of his cologne
as he'd hugged him.

He thinks of his father walking away.

He picks up the phone, and hopes for the answering
machine. One ring. Two rings. Three --


Fuck. "Dad. It's... it's me."

"Tim? Is there something -- where are you calling

The caller ID will be showing a random address and
phone number. "I'm in Gotham."

"Well, that's just *great*, Tim, now how about we
narrow that down a little?"

"I can't --"

"Don't *tell* me what you can and can't *do*!"

Tim flinches against his father's yell. "I c -- I'm not
coming home. Yet." He tenses, but his father doesn't
yell again.

Just... silence. For much too long.

"I'm not... I won't be doing... that."

"'That.'" His father's laugh is short and cold. "You've
got ten seconds to convince me not to report you

Because it takes twenty-four to seventy-two hours for
the police to take it seriously. Because even if you
tell them to arrest Robin, most of them wouldn't.
Because I -- "Because I need this."

"*You* need? You --"

"Dad, please." He doesn't have to fake the quaver. He
doesn't have to fake the self-loathing, either. "Please.
I just -- I have to..."

"Tim." He hears his father take a deep, shuddering
breath, and the image is painfully vivid. He would be
sitting down now, and either pinching the bridge of
his nose or clenching his fist between his knees. He
would -- "Tim, just tell me what you *need*."

I can't. I can't. "I need this to make *sense*!"


Silence, and he can't picture his father anymore. He
can't see anything but the ghost of his reflection in
the monitor, and he fixes his expression reflexively.

And watches it twist and crumple again.

"Dad --"

"I can't tell you to be careful, because you've been --
I can't order you to come home, because you won't.
I can't make you *explain* any of this to me, because
you won't. Tim, you tell *me* how to make this make
sense, because I don't even know --"

His father cuts himself off, but Tim hears it anyway:
Who you are. It's the best question he's heard all year
and the sickest joke.

"Tim...?" The uncertainty in his father's voice is going
to kill him.

"I'm here."

"Just... just tell me you're going to try to be safe."

"I will, Dad."

And that's the biggest lie of all.


He takes the train to Bludhaven, sitting still and silent
and forcing himself to stare out at the unlovely
scenery, just like everyone else who isn't sleeping
or reading or working on their laptops.

No one pays attention to him, and he's glad he had
the presence of mind to change into a clean shirt
before leaving the hide-out, even if it is a little too
small. He'll have to remember --

He doesn't beat his head against the glass.

And it isn't a surprise to find Dick waiting for him
on the platform. The scrutiny is blankly professional,
and Tim knows Dick's seeing everything he's done
today. Or close to it.

It's the most comforting look he's gotten all day.

Dick turns and leads them out into the station
proper, slipping back beside him and resting one --
gloved -- hand on Tim's shoulder.

"Oracle gave me the heads-up," Dick says, quietly
and needlessly.

Tim nods, and tries not to lean into the touch.

The ride back to Dick's is quiet, save for the engine
Tim can feel more than hear. The new apartment is
in an anonymous brownstone, and it's...

All of the furniture is new, what there is of it. It
looks comfortable and clean and completely wrong.

It's easier to stare at all of the packing boxes, stacked
haphazardly against the bare walls.

"I'm still trying to make it... look like someplace I
could live," Dick says, and heads toward the kitchen.

Tim nods and sits down on the couch. Even the
throw pillows are new, and nothing smells right. It's
extremely tempting to pull his feet up and wrap his
arms around his knees, but he manages to just fold
his hands and wait.

Dick hands him something and it's -- Zesti. Just like
he'd kept at his old place, in case Tim ever dropped
by. Tim's face crumples again before he can even
think of stopping it.

"Hey --" Dick's hand is on his shoulder again.

Dick has Zesti, for him. He has fucking cheap soda
that he'd never even *drink* and he doesn't even
have pillows that *smell* like him or curtains or
fucking --

Tim twists out of the touch and stands, moves,
because he has to get out of here, because he
can't --

Dick grabs his shoulder again and Tim lets himself
be spun, but Dick catches the punch easily and
Tim's just so *tired*. He doesn't fight when Dick
pulls him into his arms. He doesn't stop shaking for
a long time, though.

Dick holds on to him hard, and just keeps holding,
even though he has to know Tim won't try to get
away again. Or. Maybe he doesn't. "I won't try to
leave," he says into Dick's shoulder.

Dick tenses, tenses *hard*, and Tim has no idea

And then he does, but Dick is already relaxing again,
loosening his grip and stroking a hand over Tim's
hair before pushing him back far enough to give
him a half-mocking look.

"Sometimes people *do* just hug other people, kid.
I know it's hard to believe."

"It isn't... I --"

Dick kisses him, and he tastes a little like Chinese
food, but mostly he just tastes like something Tim
needs, familiar and close. Or maybe that's just the
scent of him, or... his body remembers those
hands on him, and even with them just on his
face --

Tim clenches and flexes his hands until he can't
anymore, until he has to touch Dick, just his waist,
through the jacket he's still wearing and the
t-shirt -- and then just through the t-shirt, because
Dick somehow manages to twist his body enough
to *get* Tim's hands on him without breaking the
kiss. He holds on, and lets himself moan.

By the time Dick pulls away, Tim isn't sure whether
he's sleepy or just... he's raw. And the only thing
new about that is the fact that Tim knows he can't
pretend otherwise. Not right now.

"Dick. Don't..." He licks his lips, and tries to figure
out how to say "either don't stop kissing me or
shoot me in the head" without coming off as insane.

Dick slides his thumb over Tim's lower lip, and
Tim hears his breathing get ragged and loud. He
hadn't gotten to -- he'd wanted --

But Dick doesn't linger before sliding his hand
down under Tim's chin and tilting his head up.
Somehow, most of him had completely failed to
be aware that he was looking down.

"Hey," Dick says, and there's a searching look in his
eyes that makes Tim want to hide.

So he looks right back.

Dick... Tim can't call it anything but a caress, even
with the motorcycle gloves still on. Maybe especially
then. It makes his eyes want to fall shut, even
though the look Dick's giving *him* is focused and

"I want..." The thought is a good one, but he has
no idea where to go with it.

But Dick just nods like he understands. "Wanna tell
me about it?"


Dick nods again and leans in, and Tim tilts his head
up for it, but... Dick laughs against his mouth.


"Oh... man. You know, I have actual instructions
about you. Oddly enough, they don't involve 'avoid
our issues and screw.'"

Tim blinks, and forces himself to pull back. The
glove sliding over and off his cheek makes him

Dick never stops looking at him. "We should --"

"I'm breaking the rules."


Tim forces himself to hold Dick's gaze. "To be here.

"I know."

Tim thinks of his father, and wonders if he's still
sitting by the phone, and wonders what he's doing,
if he really thought this would *help* -- "Do you?"

"I know," Dick says again. "But tell me anyway."

He crosses his arms beneath -- he gives up and
holds the pose, and Dick just waits. Watches him.
"I don't know what I'm doing."

"None of us do. Ever."

"I thought I did."

"I know. You almost made me believe it. I *did*
believe it a lot of the time."

"I..." Tim swallows behind the collar that isn't there.
"I don't know how to stop lying."

"That's the beginning of a logic puzzle."

"Dick --"

Dick holds his hand out. "Keep going."

Tim stares at the glove. "I wish you were wearing
your uniform."

"Not 'I wish I was wearing mine?'"


Dick clenches the hand he's holding out into a fist,
and then opens it again. When Tim looks back at his
face, he says, "why?"

"I. I don't know what answer I'm supposed to give."

Something twists behind Dick's face, for a lingering
moment. Tim can't look away.


"Did you ever write a letter knowing you would never
send it?"

Tim thinks of his father, and -- "I burned it."

"Are you glad?"


Dick scrubs a hand back through his hair. "I'm still
not sure if I'm glad I did or not."

Tim knows who the letter must have been written
to. "I'm... still not sure what to say."

"This is the honesty game, kid." Dick's grin is small
and rueful. "You know what answer to give."

"I know what you want --"


Tim stares at the clean, empty floor. "I don't know if
I want to be Robin or not. I just know how to do it."

"As opposed to everything else."


And Dick's hands are on his face again, and Tim
breathes in leather and the feel of Dick's thumbs
stroking over his cheekbones, Dick's fingers pressing
at the back of his head and neck.

Tim lets his head be tilted back again, and the look
on Dick's face is so *hungry*.

"Dick, I --"

"I want you back. With us. All the way."

"I know." I've been in love with you all my life.

Dick's fingers dig in hard, just for a moment. "I've
lost... too much."

"I know." I'd do anything for you.

"I'm not going to lose you, too."

"Please." *Please*.

Dick kisses him, and it's hard and wet and Tim wonders
if he's supposed to be seduced into putting the suit
back on. No, he wishes he *could* wonder, because
this is too good. He curls his fingers into the waistband
of Dick's jeans and pulls, and Dick groans into his
mouth and kisses him harder. *Bites* him, and Tim's
hands are shaking, but he forces them to work on
Dick's fly anyway.

He wants --

"Tim," Dick says, low and rough, and licks a slick, hot
path over Tim's cheek and into his ear.

Hot breath and the shivering, slow fuck of Dick's
tongue. Leather gloves in his hair, on his shoulders
and sliding down his back, over his ass, and Tim
whimpers when he gets Dick's pants open, his hand
inside to where Dick's hard and hot for him, and Tim
whimpers again.

Dick squeezes his ass and tightens the hand in his
hair and *yanks* his head back, kissing his throat
again, licking him and biting once, hard.

"Dick, please don't --" Mark me, he wants to say, only
he doesn't really want to say it at all.

"I'll be careful," Dick says, and starts walking them
back to the couch.

Tim's knees hit and he sits down, cold and naked
without Dick's body against him. He shivers once and
bends to unlace his sneakers, but Dick leans in and
shoves him, kisses and pushes him until he's mostly
flat and Dick is mostly *on* him. Tim wraps his arms
around Dick and kisses back, arching and shifting
until he can get his legs spread around Dick's moving

Dick sucks Tim's lower lip and breaks the kiss again,
pressing his hand to Tim's mouth for a moment when
he whimpers.

"Do you... want me to be quiet?"

Dick laughs, breathless. "What? *No*. No, I..." He
strokes Tim's mouth with his thumb, hard and slow,
and bites his own lip hard. "I like the way your mouth
looks when you're making noise, Tim. I like the way it
feels -- yeah. Like that."

Tim feels himself flex and licks the tip of Dick's thumb.

"Oh, yeah..." And Dick slides his thumb in, pushes it in
just like -- and Tim tastes leather and can feel himself
shooting pre-come, and he rocks up against Dick's
hips, as much as he can.

Dick grinds *down* and slips his thumb almost all the
way out before pushing it back in slow and Tim tugs
at Dick's shirt, balls it in his *fists* and sucks.

"God, I never thought you'd be like this, Tim..."

For you, and he maybe he says it with his eyes, with
his body, because Dick's eyes go wide for a long,
heart-pounding moment before narrowing.

"Tim," he says again, and rolls his body against Tim's
own, a slow, hard wave of feeling that makes Tim
moan around Dick's thumb.

And then just moan when Dick pulls it all the way out.

"What do you want? We can do --"


Dick pauses, staring down at him, spit-slick thumb
almost, *almost* on his own lip.

And then he licks it, slow, and watches Tim
unblinkingly. *Sucks* it for a moment before pulling
off the gloves and tugging and pushing Tim's too-small
t-shirt up. And then he licks his bare thumb and pushes
it into Tim's navel, pressing hard circles.

Tim can't decide if it hurts or just -- it's a jagged rush
of feeling, better and worse when he bucks up against

"When do you have to be home?"

Tim blinks and moans. "Just about three hours ago."

Dick winces and stops. *Stops*.

"Please, Dick --"

"Tim..." The look on Dick's face is raw, bleak realization,
and Tim wants to know how he *does* that, how he
never has to think before showing everything he's
feeling. "What... what am I doing?"

"Fucking me."

Dick gasps and tenses. "But --"

"Hard. I want you, I want you so much -- don't make
me say it --"

And Dick sits back on his heels and dives *in*, kissing
Tim so hard he can taste blood. He isn't sure whose it
is and he doesn't care. He can just... *one* thing he
wants, and the last thing he was ever sure of, and
Dick tastes so *good*.

Better when he laughs.

"I don't -- I don't even have a *bed*, yet --"

"Here, the floor --"

Dick growls and arches up, reaching between them
and ripping open Tim's fly with one hand and pushing
and tugging and *holding* Tim, squeezing him
hard --

"*Dick* --"

"Shh, let me..." And Dick starts stroking him, slow and
hard and faster with each stroke.

It's... he can't... and Dick slips his other hand back to
Tim's mouth and pets it when Tim moans.

"Just like... oh, Tim --"

"Please, please I want you --"

"Come for me."

"Oh *God* --"

"C'mon, all over my hand, Tim, do it..."

Tim shouts and gasps and shouts and fucks Dick's fist,
rocking up and up, and he doesn't know he's shaking
his head until Dick catches him. *Holds* him, holds
him still and makes Tim look at him.

He still looks so hungry...

And Dick pushes his thumb in Tim's mouth again --

"I want to see you," Dick says, and Tim bites Dick's
thumb and comes, shaking and groaning.

And pushes Dick's hand out of his mouth. "I want --
I wanted --"

"Spread your legs."


"Yeah, that's -- God, Tim, just throw your leg over
the back like... every time you make that noise I just
get harder."

"Please --"

"Just... like that. Mm." And Dick gives Tim's dick one
last, gentle squeeze that still makes Tim seize up and

Louder when he strokes up and off.

"I can't... I don't have what we need, but we can still --
oh, Tim, you're so *tight* --"

Tim bites his lip and burns. Aches. He doesn't have
words for it, for the sight of Dick watching his face
for every sign, every *hint*, for the feel of him
working his finger *inside* Tim, sliding in slick and
rough at the same time, and Tim grabs at the couch
cushions and rocks into it.

"You're driving me *crazy*," Dick says, and there are
so many true things Tim wants to say, but all of them
come out as groans. He's already getting hard again,
 and it's too soon and it's too *much*, but it's perfect.
It's *Dick*, fucking him with just a finger, and making
Tim want all *over*.

"More," he says, only it's barely a word. Just a long,
low half-growl, and -- "*More* --"

"I've got you, I've got --"

"Dick, you feel so *good* --"

"I want to fuck you so hard --" And Dick cuts himself
off with a groan, free hand sliding up Tim's thigh and
squeezing. Dick hangs his head, hair falling in his
face, and Tim has to sit up a little and push it out of
the way and --

"Oh --"

Dick grabs his wrist and almost *glares* at him, but
there's nothing like anger on his face. Just... fierce,
wild hunger and Tim clenches around Dick's finger and
tries not to beg.

He knows it's on *his* face, anyway.

"I'm going to give you another finger. Okay?"

"Yes --"

"Mm... say that again."

"*Yes*, Dick --"

And Dick pulls his finger out, slow and steady, and he
doesn't stop *talking*. "You know how close I am,
don't you?"

"I want you *inside* me."

"I don't want... Tim, please," and Dick takes him with
two fingers, fucking in hard and fast, and Tim cries
out and tries to match his rhythm, tries to spread
wider, and Dick's grip on his wrist is *iron* and
he --

"Don't stop, Dick, don't --"

"I won't. You're so -- you're so good --"

Tim turns his face against the couch cushion and
pulls against the hold Dick has on his wrist and --
"Dreamed of this," he gasps, because he has to.
"Wanted you --"

"I'm here --"

"That night. In my room --"

"I'm not sorry, Tim. I wanted to be --"

"I was dreaming of you," Tim says, and Dick makes
a terrible, agonized sound and pulls *out*. "*No* --"

But Dick grabs Tim's hips and pulls him *back*, and
the blunt, slick *slide* of Dick's dick along his cleft
makes him gasp again. "Have to --"

"Yes --"

"I'm sorry," Dick says, and takes one hand off Tim's
hip, and then Dick is pushing *in*, and Tim thinks
'don't scream,' but he can't close his mouth, can't
do anything but reach up and claw at Dick's shoulders
and --

Oh God, *in*, huge and so *hard*, and Tim's thighs
flex, and when he opens his eyes Dick is staring down
at him like he's lost, like it hurts him just as much, but
he doesn't stop.

Not even when he's all the way in, and Tim can feel
Dick's balls slapping against him on every short, rough
thrust, and every thrust makes him cry out, until his
throat is aching and everything sounds like a gasp or a

And Dick braces one hand on the arm of the couch
beside Tim's head, and strokes his face with the other.
Shaking, gently, and Tim turns into it and kisses Dick's
palm. Moans and licks it, and it's like breaking inside
where everything was twisted and knotted.

It's like giving up, and he never thought it could feel
this good.

"I love you," he whispers, and listens to Dick groan
and spreads his legs even wider.

"You --"

"I love you, Dick."

"Oh God, Tim, I --"

And Dick bends down and kisses his face, hard and
wet, and Tim tilts his face into it, stretches and
*reaches* until he can catch Dick's mouth with his
own, until he can suck Dick's tongue and hold him
that way, too.

The angle is different, shallower -- *sweeter* his
mind says, but he knows he's stupid with this now,
knows he's helpless and hungry and needy and lost
and every other thing he's tried so hard not to be.
He never wants to stop.

Tim shoves his fingers into the damp thickness of
Dick's hair and rides it, swallowing every one of Dick's
moans and giving them back. He can't breathe. And
when Dick tries to pull away, Tim holds on tight, tighter
when Dick shudders and gasps and *comes* in him.

And doesn't stop thrusting.

Just *yanks* himself out of Tim's grasp and pushes
down hard on Tim's shoulder and reaches between
them to fist Tim's dick again.

Tim lets himself be held down and stares into Dick's

And comes moaning.

For a while Tim can't do anything but look. Dick's soft,
swollen mouth and softer eyes. He breathes and tries
not to blink too much, because something in him
doesn't believe this, even though he's sore and sticky
and... the couch doesn't smell new anymore.

He knows why he can't believe it. He'd stopped
believing it before he'd *met* Dick, before the
fantasies had shifted from nebulous warmth and
wanting to something else. Tim hasn't believed in much
for a long, long time.

He watches the expressions shift and change in Dick's
eyes and waits.

"Tim..." It's a question.

"I meant it."

"I... didn't know."

Tim wants Dick's hand back on his face. "I know," he
says and lifts his chin a little.

Dick leans in and... it's not a kiss. Dick's mouth moves
over his cheek like he's trying to say something, but if
he is, Tim can't hear it. Tim wraps his arms around
Dick's neck and holds on.

They stay on the couch for a while, Dick softening inside
him until he slips out. Tim's thighs are sticky and his back
starts to cramp, and Tim plays with the hair at the back
of Dick's head and doesn't say a word.

Not even when Dick shifts.

"There's something... I have something for you, Tim."

Tim stares at the ceiling and breathes. "You don't --"

"No, it's from... before."

"I don't want to move," he says, and it's absolutely

Dick grins against his cheek. "Then don't." He twists
away from Tim and stands, kicking the rest of the way
out of his jeans and walking toward what's presumably
his bed-less bedroom in nothing but the t-shirt and

Tim's reasonably sure he doesn't do that on purpose.
It doesn't actually make it *better*.

Dick comes back with a fairly large, plain, white box,
and sits on the far end on the couch. Tim forces
himself to move, reflexively swallowing back a wince
as he sits up.


"You don't want it," Dick says.

"I don't know --" But he does. Tim swallows. "He...
gave you my suit."

Dick smirks at him. "I *took* your suit, kid. It belongs
to Robin, not Batman."

"Then it doesn't belong to anyone." Right now, he
doesn't say.

"Right *now* it doesn't, but -- what?"

Tim swallows back the laughter. "It's nothing."

Dick raises an eyebrow at him, but nods. "It just... I
know you can't take it with you, but I wanted you
to know that I have it, and it's yours. And you can
come get it anytime you want."

I want it *now*. "It isn't that easy," he says, and
stares at the floor instead of the box.

Dick rests his hand on the back of Tim's neck, warm
and solid and bare. "I know," he says. "It never is."


Dick drops him off two blocks from his house, and
kisses him when he gets off the bike.

And then gets off the bike himself and kisses him
again, backing Tim against a streetlight and kissing
him harder, and harder, until it's hard to remember
that they're on a public street, and that it's barely
after one.

When Dick pulls away, he leaves his hand on Tim's
cheek for a long, long moment, and Tim's tongue
remembers the taste of leather.

"You know where I live," Dick says, and it's almost
a threat. Dick knows where *he* lives, too.

Tim nods and heads toward home, knowing Dick is
watching him go.

The lights are on at his house. This isn't a shock,
but it makes his gut clench anyway. If *he* were in
his father's position...

He can't even imagine it.

He uses his keys, somewhere between relieved and
disappointed that they work. It would be so much
easier if... if they didn't actually care about him. And
if he keeps this up, they won't.

He thinks of the white box in Dick's apartment, and
the fact that this, his third shirt of the day, is actually
one of Dick's new, too-large undershirts.

He thinks of his father's football helmet.

He walks into the living room, and both of them are
there, watching him. Tim picks a position where he
can see them both easily, and crosses his arms under
the cape that isn't there. And waits.

Dana sees it first, blinking and frowning just a little.
And she touches his father's arm lightly and easily, if
not casually, and Tim tries to remember the last time
he'd touched anyone like that, at all.

When his father frowns, it has nothing to do with
anger, but every line on his face is stark and
shadowed and *there*. His father was rarely an angry
man, but the last few years... a lot of pain.

"There's nothing I can say to explain," Tim says. "And
I think my apologies are meaningless."

"Son... Tim. Who *did* this to you?"

"I did. No one else."

"I just don't understand why you're sticking to this --
this *martyrdom*, Tim --"

"It's the truth, Dad. I'm no one's martyr."

"Then what are you, Tim?" And Dana's voice is soft,
and gentle, and open.

"I don't know that, yet," he says, and looks at them
both, once, as openly as *he* can. And then stares
at a point between them.

"You look like you're waiting to be *dismissed*,

His face wants to crumple, a little, and he lets it. "I

His father sighs, quietly. "And if I tell you to go to
your room, will you stay there?"


"For how long, Tim?" Dana, again, and it shouldn't
be easier to look her in the eye than his father.

It is. "I don't know," he says.

She nods at him, and his father... stares. And

Tim forces himself to look at him, and waits. He
doesn't point out that he's not lying anymore -- it's
obvious, and meaningless.

He doesn't ask if his father is still proud of him,
because he doesn't want to know the answer.

And when his father nods at him, Tim nods back,
and then at his stepmother, and walks up the stairs
to his room.

He has to get ready for school, assuming he hasn't
been suspended.

Tim pulls Bernard's crumpled note out of his pocket,
and starts writing one of his own.

Maybe he won't burn this one.