Disclaimer: Not even remotely close to mine.
Spoilers: Various things for multiple older storylines
in multiple titles. Perversely, probably the 'newest'
reference is to events in Batgirl: Year One, but
you should expect things to show up from various
Summary: Dick used to know what he wanted, and
he still does. Sort of.
Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Content some
readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: This was supposed to be both a
birthday present for Jack *and* my entry for the
Dickficathon, but frankly, it works far better as
the latter than the former, I think.
Acknowledgments: Much love to the chat crew
for audiencing, encouragement, hand-holding, and
countless helpful suggestions.
It feels right.
He tries to put it into words -- he's usually pretty
good at that, after all -- but that's all he can come
up with: It feels right.
He's been here, with Bruce, for three years now,
and it all seems to fall into place. One piece after
another, one *moment* after another.
Long Sunday breakfasts after longer Saturday
patrols, and the old, battered teddy bear he'd
needed so, so badly right up until he realized just
how much effort Bruce had put in to getting it for
him. A jumpline in his hands and the blue-purple
night sky is the biggest of all the big tops.
The suit, and the way -- *ways* -- Bruce looks at
him when he's wearing it.
And how the *pride* stopped being Dick's favorite
of those looks a long, long time ago.
Sometimes he's tried to tell Bruce how it feels --
he's *good* at words -- and sometimes he thinks
he'd gotten it down pretty well. Words like forever,
words like best and favorite and just those words
that are barely words at all -- the sounds he makes
when it's all over and the bad guys are tied-up
and unconscious and the innocent victims will
clearly be *okay* and he has to pump his fist into
the air and shout.
Those times, he gets it right. And if it seems
strange that those are *also* the times when it
seems as though he gets through to Bruce *less*,
He's good at other things, too.
Bruce never, never hugs him first -- but Bruce
never pushes him away.
Bruce always starts each spar like work, like
*practice* -- but Bruce almost never stops him
from playing. At least, not once Dick has learned
whatever lesson he's supposed to.
And he gets it, he thinks. He loves the Manor and
he loves Alfred so much it's almost as hard to
imagine life without him as it is to imagine life
without *Bruce*, but...
Three years, and it hadn't taken long at all to
figure out a little about what he adds to the Manor
just by being here. Dick *also* can't quite imagine
what it would've been like to grow up here, almost
entirely alone with nothing but the books and the
art and the paintings and the Cave which had still
been just a *cave*.
And Alfred jokes and smiles and makes the best
cocoa in the world, but he doesn't really *talk*,
not like the people at Haly's had, and definitely
not like his parents. He'd never even realized
people *could* eat an entire meal without saying
a word and still not be mad at each other or
anything, but they can, and Bruce *would*.
If he wasn't here.
So it isn't about words, even the good and the
funny ones, and maybe it *can't* be, not for
someone like Bruce.
But his Mom had once told him that he was
tumbling before he was laughing, and even
though Dick would rather do both...
Sometimes he has nightmares. And usually it's
about people like Two-Face and the Joker --
people who don't really *seem* like people,
but are, anyway, no matter what -- and all the
bad things they've done, or tried to do. But
sometimes they're about Bruce, and the
untouchable, unbreakable line of the back of
his cowl into his cape, and how there's
nothing beneath but armor, and how even
when Dick walks around and around, even
when he looks...
There's nothing but the black, shiny line that
repels everything, absolutely everything.
Bruce sees him, Bruce looks at him and knows him
and *loves* him -- Dick knows this -- but
sometimes Dick is just so afraid that that won't
always be true, and he wakes up in his bed and
watches the branches of the tree outside his
window try and fail to scratch at the windows (the
landscaping firm Alfred hired is excellent and
*precise* about things like this), and he has to
keep breathing and hugging his knees until he
remembers that he's not alone.
And he wishes it was still like the old days, the
*first* days, when he'd never woken up in the
middle of the night without the *feel* of Bruce
close by, watching over him, and so, so quiet
The fact that Bruce doesn't do that anymore is
all about the fact that Bruce trusts him, and
wants Dick to *know* he trusts him, but...
He misses it, sometimes.
And he can't ask for it -- he doesn't think he
could come up for the words for that if he tried
for *weeks*, because it would just *feel*
wrong -- but there are other ways, and other
So it's right -- so, so right -- to move through
the manor at night and pause at Bruce's
doorframe, and measure himself against the
ghosts of chalk marks past for just a moment
before slipping in.
Night vision is all about training your eyes,
strengthening them until they can use whatever
light is available to its best possible effect. He's
human, so he can't do *much*, but his night
vision is still better than nearly everyone's
*except* for Bruce.
*This* isn't about night vision, though. When
Bruce sleeps, he pulls the thick, dark winter
(but for Bruce, they're all-year) curtains closed
all the way, and Alfred had once told him that all
attempts to give Bruce a night-light when he'd
been a child had ended with the lamps in question
carefully packed-up and hidden away.
There's no light to use.
He doesn't need it.
His body knows the way, the way it knows how to
flip and move at the first click of a safety, the way
his palms curl around the perfect curve of a
batarang well before he takes one out of his belt.
And he knows it's probably just sense-memory --
Dick knows *exactly* how well-trained he is to
use such things, and he knows it's what *Bruce*
would call it, but there's more to him than science,
even the science of the body.
There's more to the world, to the whole *universe*
than that, and maybe he'll find a way to explain
*that* to Bruce, too.
For now, there's the softness of the duvet beneath
his knees, and the tiny, clear hints from the
mattress about how to move on it to avoid the
only slightly *less* tiny creaks and squeaks, and
that doesn't matter, either, because...
Because, by the time he gets past the fold of the
duvet, he can feel the heat from Bruce's body,
and because by the time he gets there Bruce has
been awake for some time.
"No," Dick says. And he isn't really sure why
Bruce keeps asking, because there's nothing like
the nightmares to keep him *away* from Bruce, but
that doesn't matter, either. "I just wanted..."
And by then, he has his face pressed to the bed-warm
and scarred skin over Bruce's obliques, so he doesn't
have to try to come up with the good words for this.
All he has to do is rest one arm over Bruce's chest
(and his breathing is deep and steady and calm), and
reach up with the other to find Bruce's bicep, to
squeeze the way he's squeezing with the arm over
"Bruce," he whispers, and *he* knows how much
more than that he's saying, but he's never sure Bruce
Until Bruce shifts and moves, until Dick's head and neck
are pillowed on Bruce's arm, until that same arm is
wrapped lightly, loosely, and so very *warmly* around
his waist, and Dick and can shiver and sigh and hold
"I love you," he says, with his breath and with the
press of his mouth to Bruce's skin, safe and quiet.
Bruce makes a soft sound that isn't quite an exhale
and is nowhere near a sigh, and Dick waits...
Bruce's arm tightens around his waist, and his other
hand is big and warm on his shoulder, pushing until
Dick is on his back. Cold for the heartbeat until
Bruce is on top of him, until there's no air that
doesn't smell like Bruce, and until Bruce's mouth is
moving over his own like he was never asleep at
Like doing this is a million times more important
It's right, because when Bruce whispers his name,
his breath tickles Dick's face.
And because it isn't *just* the body, or even the
*movement*. It's the manor, and everything he's
had that Bruce hasn't, and the way that includes
warmth, and contact, and love that doesn't have
to mean --
He doesn't live in that world anymore. He lives
*here*, with *Bruce*, and he knows that his
touch means something very different to Bruce,
and that Bruce is the smartest man in the world,
but that Dick speaks a language he doesn't, just
And Bruce is warm, and loves him.
She doesn't move like anyone he's ever met before,
which makes sense, because she's an alien.
Honestly, truly from another planet -- one whose
star only shows up as a faint flicker in the skies over
places with no real cities.
The places he hasn't spent much time with since
'Robin' was just a nickname, and his uniform was
just a costume.
And it's not like he's unfamiliar with aliens -- he
probably knows more than anyone who *isn't* in
the JLA, after all -- it's just that...
Well, he'd never been this close to one. Not for
*this* long. Superman doesn't count, because he
doesn't really know anyone who *knows*
Superman and still thinks of him as an alien. Not
even Bruce, no matter how much he tries to
That's a whole different story, though.
He has an easier time imagining a life where he
*isn't* Robin than he does imagining Kory ("No
one has ever called me 'Kory,' before. Is it a
sweet-name, like 'Dick?'") anywhere near Bruce
for any reason but some major battle.
There are different ways of being alien.
When he thinks about her moving, he's almost
always thinking of her *fighting*, and it's... well.
It's a little disturbing. She's powerful, and skilled,
and, most of all, *experienced* -- and it's not like
they don't *need* that. It's just that she's not...
She wasn't trained the way he was, or even the
way *Donna* was. Sometimes he looks at the
two of them and...
Well, he *can* picture Kory on Themyscira, it's
just that he can't quite picture it ending *well*.
For all that the Amazons are a warrior people,
and for all that Donna and Kory seem to find a
lot of things to talk about, to *bond* about,
he's starting to get that Wonder Woman is a
great ambassador not just because she's brilliant
and wise, but because somewhere along the
way, the Amazons stopped being the kind of
'warrior people' that the Tamaranians are.
If they ever were.
Kory doesn't so much accept that they don't kill
as tolerate it.
Dick's learned more Tamaranian war cries than
anything else from the language, and it's...
It's a little confusing.
Because it's *also* not like he's not used to
people being violent -- scarily so -- whether or
not they were raised to be so. Sometimes Dick's
dreams are washed in blood and pain, and that's
just one of the things he's had to get used to.
It's just one the things he *is* used to.
He knows his life isn't like other people's, and
that the world can have far more shadows than
It's different with Kory, though. It's... deeper,
or stranger, or maybe just more important to
who she is. And he never wanted to be the kind
of person who learns a little bit about a person
from a new culture, and about the culture itself,
and immediately draws conclusions, but...
There were times when Kory frightened him, and
times when she *still* does.
And it's the way she moves, or doesn't.
With the addition of Vic and Kory to their ranks,
full-sized beds stopped being as practical as they
could be in the Tower. They all have queens these
days. Right now, Kory is making hers look small.
From a distance, she's all long, long legs and hair
that sometimes seems even longer.
She isn't really at a distance, now.
She'd been perfectly willing to send a sample of it
to S.T.A.R. Labs (and Dick had given one to
Bruce), but, as of yet, no one can quite figure out
how it works, or if it's even really anything like
hair at all.
He's not thinking about her hair.
She's flipping through one of Donna's magazines
while Dick also doesn't do much of anything
useful at all with his History textbook, and Dick
is thinking of the fact that they could be in the
den, or the meeting room, or anywhere else.
He's thinking of the fact that they're not, and
that he knew her mouth tasted something like
ripe peaches rolled in cinnamon and pepper
before he knew her name.
They do this a lot, actually. Read together,
*study* together. Right now, Kory is probably
coming up with fascinatingly wrong ideas
about American culture based on the pictures
in Cosmopolitan, and he's...
He's still not reading his history book.
And if he's doing anything remotely useful in
terms of helping Kory understand this world,
he'd be very, very interested in finding out
just what that is.
It's the way she moves.
That she *is* moving, right now -- breathing with
calm evenness and turning the pages, one by one,
and occasionally rubbing her bare foot along the
nap of huge, soft towel she seems to prefer to
any of the comforters and duvets they've offered
her. ("On Tamaran, rest is tactile.") She's...
She's *not* still.
It only seems that way.
And part of it is because he knows exactly how
much of a *difference* there would be if an
emergency came up, or if someone attacked the
Tower. *Then* every part of her would be
moving, every strange, wild strand of her hair.
On a still day, the heat-shimmer around her
starbolts is visible.
If he's close enough when she's firing them, he
has to adjust his balance against the air
However, part of it is also...
Sometimes, he feels restless around her, as
endlessly, helplessly *mobile* as Wally on a bad
day. He's hideously conscious of every time he
breathes off-rhythm, of the tap of his foot, the
pound of his pulse in his throat and everywhere
It's actually a lot like it was with Bruce in the
early days, because *Bruce* is still right up until
he decides he doesn't want to be, and he really
And Wally... there are times when he's wondered
if the fact that it was always easy to just *cleave*
to Wally has anything to do with how Wally makes
Dick feel still. Like someone who could -- with effort --
*be* more like Bruce.
He's not sure, at all.
The fact that Kory seems to enjoy his company is...
well, that's confusing, too.
He bites his lip, but doesn't really notice that he's
doing it until he realizes he can't hear pages turning,
until he looks up to find Kory looking at him --
*studying* him -- with the narrowed and curious
eyes of a predator.
Now, *now* she's absolutely still, foot resting
against where the towel has bunched up, a little,
and hair seeming nothing but long.
And then she curls her fingers against the cover
of the magazine and makes a soft sound that he
probably shouldn't categorize as a 'growl.'
She tilts her head upward, toward him, and her
nostrils flare, and her lips part.
"I do not understand you, Dick."
She always says his name like it *is* a pet-name.
A *sweet*-name. Something she's privileged to
use, and enjoys accordingly. He smiles, feeling
more than a little helpless. More than a little...
"What's to understand?"
She doesn't lift off the bed, or even really *step*
off the bed -- though her legs are long enough --
she sort of...
There's a liquid (animal) feel to it, grace and
power and (alien) beauty that makes Dick press
himself back against his chair. She pauses in front
of him, and frowns in something that looks a lot
like frustration, and then she cups his face and
Her nose is a soft, ticklish pressure beneath his
ear, and Dick feels himself start to sweat at about
the same time that she (growls) makes that soft
sound again and presses closer.
"Why won't you do what you want?"
"I -- I don't --"
Her grip on his jaw is as powerful as anything he's
ever felt when someone wasn't trying to kill him.
"You *do*. I smell it. I *feel* it."
"Kory, we can't just... you don't just --"
"*They* don't." She shoves his head -- lightly --
against the wall. Dick only sees stars for a moment,
and then all he can see is the faint, green burn of
her eyes. Narrowed again. "*I* do."
"Well, yes, but --"
"And so can you," she says, and smiles in a way
that makes Dick's mouth water with the memory of
And after that it's a little hard to hold on to the
sequence of events. Whether or not she kissed him
before shoving his knee back to press against his
chest. Whether he buried his hands in her hair
before or after he bit her lip.
What, exactly, happened to his t-shirt.
Mostly, he can't stop thinking "*oh*," because it
makes so much sense. He would've thought -- he
*hadn't* -- that she would do this...
That she would make love the same way she fought.
And there *are* a lot of similarities -- her fingertips
leave a dozen -- *more* -- promises of bruises, and
the next kiss (or possibly the next) tastes more
*and* less normal, because it tastes like his blood.
There are other things, too.
The way she drags her cheek over (all over) his skin,
and the way she presses his wrists to the floor and
then moves nothing but her hips, her...
*Against* him, making him arch and toss his head,
and the sounds she's making don't sound like
war-cries at all.
There are other things, things more important than
battle, and she's showing him. She's...
All around him, so hot, so *wet*, so *happy*.
Smiling down at him like she's never been angry
in her life.
No, like she has been, and will be *again*, but
"Kory..." His voice sounds low, rough and
More than half when she sets her palm against his
throat and *pushes*. Not hard enough to hurt,
not really, or even feel *uncomfortable*. Dick
doesn't think he *could* be uncomfortable, and
anyway, the collar on his cape has always been
tight, and *now* her hair looks (right) wild, alive.
More of a corona than a cloud, more vivid than
anything else, because everything else is hazy
and indistinct. Pressure and heat and good, so
good, and he doesn't know he's fighting until
Kory throws her head back and screams, until
she spasms around him and *yells*.
Until she releases his throat and Dick can't see
anything at all, can't think, can't feel anything
And when Kory shifts off of him, she doesn't
really *move* so much as settle herself next to
him and squeeze. Dick can feel his elbow
digging into her stomach, but Kory just rubs
against him and --
Purrs. Definitely purrs.
Dick stares at the ceiling.
She's rubbing herself against the carpeting just
as much as she's rubbing against him. She's
warm and damp and sweet and spicy and she
Like a heartbeat in the darkness, never-ending and
steady. Comfort and --
He purrs a little, too.
Jason fights like he's been doing it his whole life --
the *wrong* way. Wrong in all sorts of ways, and
not just the fact that it always *feels* surprising
when his moves are, actually, precise and effective.
Even though they *are*, nine times out of ten.
He fights like...
There are a lot of reasons why Dick doesn't spend
too much time in Gotham these days, but Jason
seems to like coming to New York, and that's...
Easier, in a lot of ways Dick doesn't want to think
about. It's one thing to see the kid in his -- in the
Robin suit in Gotham, moving over ground and
through patches of sky that used to be his own.
It's another thing entirely when Jason is in the
Tower, moving careful and cautious and exactly
like an animal who knows he's in someone else's
territory. Sometimes Dick thinks it would've
been easier if Jason *didn't* move so confidently
in Gotham, if he wasn't --
It's all part of the things he tries not to think
He has a life now, separate from Gotham, and
from Bruce. He's never going to be Robin again,
and, when he's brutally honest with himself, he
knows the pain of that is more about the fact
that it *is* right than it is about... everything
Jason, when he's at the Tower, isn't remotely
Here, it's okay that 'Robin' has become something
entirely separate from himself. Entirely *different*.
And none of the roiling mass of -- of
*everything* -- has *anything* to do with Jason
Jason's just a kid, who happens to be a fighter,
and who happens to be Robin.
And there's no one and nothing in this world who
can make Dick feel more like *Nightwing*. One
day, he'd like to try to explain that to Jason, some
time when the kid's discomfort is just a little more
obvious than he can deal with even at his most
petty. He'd like to try to put it into words,
something to cushion the stark truths of "thank
you," and "I wish I'd never seen your face."
For now, he has the visits. He likes having Jason
here, and watching him look more like a kid who
just happens to be immensely talented and
well-trained than Robin. He likes looking at him
with the others. Donna, who never seems to
know whether she wants to hug Jason or quiz
him about everything under the sun. Roy, who
has been... well, a little distant just lately,
He looks at Jason and Roy and Roy looks like his
old self, and it's a lot like looking at the beginning
of something wonderful and real, a friendship that
could happen, given just a little more time.
And while he thinks Jason could use at least
another year or so of working with Bruce, of
*training* with Bruce, there are other ways of
being petty, or at least greedy.
One day, if Dick has *anything* to say about it --
and he absolutely does -- Jason is going to be a
Titan. And, while a part of him wonders what
Bruce will do then (and it's a large part, so much
of him, and for so many *reasons*), it feels like
the sort of decision that it's maybe kind of *okay*
to make without thinking it through to every
After all, it's not like Bruce is going to talk to
*him* about it ("Please leave now."), and, as for
Dick twists to avoid the punch that would've hit
him square in the kidney and turns to block
another few that are only playful because of the
grin on Jason's face.
There's a glint in Jason's eyes that he absolutely
understands, that he wonders, sometimes, if
*Bruce* does. The smile on Jason's face makes
Dick feel fourteen again, and he has to work not
to smile back.
And then he has to remind himself that he
"C'mon," he says, and heads toward the training
Which takes about ten minutes longer than
remotely necessary, because Jason doesn't seem
to care whether they're moving past furniture,
blank walls, or terrifyingly expensive computer
equipment. The spar started the minute Dick
agreed to it. Something else he wonders about,
in terms of Bruce.
Bruce had always wanted him -- *both* of them --
to be ready for anything at any possible time, and
a great deal of *his* training had involved being
taught not to trust just *anyone* at his back, but
The kick Jason throws isn't remotely as high as
anything he can do, but the power behind it is
obvious. If he lets it land, it'll numb the hell out
of his right quad, and also send him flying into a
bank of computers.
Forget the electrocution aspects -- the damage
would be terrible. He dodges, and blocks the
next few wonderful punches and an iffy-looking
nerve-strike. The kick Jason telegraphs with the
sudden tightness in *his* quads would send him
into still more computers, and he has to leap over
it, using the kid's shoulders to brace himself.
It's a move that works pretty damned well on
just about every criminal Dick's gone up against,
and it had taken *Bruce* a while to compensate
for it, too. But he had, and Jason has sparred
with him enough times that --
"Aw, man, you *suck* --"
He drops and twists exactly the way he should,
the way Dick had barely had to work to teach
him. Instincts of a street-fighter, Dick thinks, and
feels the foundation he's bracing himself on
suddenly fail to exist.
He compensates with a somersault that leaves his
back vulnerable for *just* long enough that Jason
lands a punch to the right of his spine. Dick blows
out a breath and makes his landing on -- a couch.
He gets his hands up and balances.
Correction -- *tries* to balance, because Kory had
been on the floor in *front* of the couch, and
while she doesn't hit the back of his knees *very*
hard, it's definitely hard enough for Jason's next
punch to send him sprawling in a heap on top of
Kory, who's smiling at both of them.
On anyone else, he'd call it a beam. On Kory, it's
more like a promise.
More when Jason winks at her.
Kory *likes* Jason. Right.
Dick rolls his eyes and works his way back up to
his feet, and yanks his tights back into position
while Jason snickers and jogs backward toward
the gym, throwing punches that are, for once,
"Remember, son, you will *always* have a weak
side," he says, in a credible impression of Bruce.
Dick chooses to focus on the fact that Jason is
clearly comfortable with making fun of their
shared history, as opposed to the word 'son,'
and slaps playfully at the kid's head. There's too
much there, too. "You're too young to be this
disturbing," he says, and has to pause.
There's something in Jason's smirk that feels
like he's being just as incomplete (dishonest)
about things as Dick is.
But then they're in the gym, and Wally waves at
them from over by the free weights, and Jason
does a credible flip onto the mats.
His form is almost exactly like Bruce's, workable
and practical. The only real difference is that
there's less obvious power in it. He'd prefer it if
the kid's style was more like his own, but there
isn't a *lot* even the best teachers could do
with a kid like Jason, who'd never had any
gymnastics training whatsoever, and doesn't
have the body for it, besides.
Still, he's not letting Jason head back to Gotham
without some time on the rings, at least.
It's... soothing to be able to teach him things, to
*give* him things Bruce can't (Dick isn't gone,
not completely), but it's far more soothing just to
have this. He'd helped design this gym, and the
space is made for him. He can move exactly as
much as he wants to, as he *needs* to, and
He's playing as much as he's fighting. For other
people, that would make a spar like this infinitely
less dangerous. With Jason, it just means that he
curses every time Dick lands a blow, and laughs,
breathless, when Dick knocks him to the mats.
"So are you gonna just stand there, or are you
gonna help me up?"
Dick snorts, feeling sweat trickle down the back
of his neck, ticklish down the center of his chest.
"I *like* being upright."
"Aww. It hurts that you don't trust me, dude."
"Right. Come on."
And Jason's gaze slips down from his eyes to his
gesturing hand, and it's the perfect reason to land
a -- pulled -- kick.
"And pay *attention*," Dick says, and his voice is
right, he *knows* it is, but something about the
way Jason just grunts softly and doesn't actually
look *away* from his hands --
And he knows exactly how distracted he was by
the fact that Jason's only-80%-correct sweep
knocks his legs right out from under him. He's
prepared enough to breathe out before the
landing can *knock* the breath out of him, but
Jason still manages to get on top of him.
The pin isn't as effective as it could be, but --
"No, *you* pay attention," he says, and grins.
Jason's shorts are pretty much exactly the same
as his own used to be, which means they're
armored somewhat better than his Nightwing
uniform. Rough and hard and completely separate
from everything having to do with the body,
except for how they really aren't.
He hasn't gotten enough of his air back for the
gasp to be anything but weak and soft.
"Don't even *tell* me you don't get off on this at
least a *little*, man."
Wally is nowhere around. Dick swallows back the
first few stammering 'responses' and goes with,
"I'm not fifteen, anymore."
"No. You aren't," Jason says, and rests his palm
against Dick's chest. The gauntlets are stiffer
than his own used to be, and a part of Dick's
mind is helplessly caught up with wondering how
much of it is for protection versus how much of
it's just to add even *more* power to Jason's
It doesn't leave any room in his mind to deal
with the bright, sharp look in Jason's eyes (like
Bruce, like Bruce when), or the way he's pushing
the fingers of his gauntlet under the edges of
Just like Kory does, actually, and --
"I'm seeing Kory. You know --"
"That she's totally willing to share?" Jason's smirk
absolutely matches the look in his eyes, even if
it's nothing that would be on Bruce's face. "Heh.
Yeah, she told me," he says, and scrapes the
rough weave of his gauntlet over Dick's nipple.
Dick can't keep from squeezing his eyes shut
(Kory likes Jason *how* much?), but he *does*
manage to open them again. Even though his
breathing is ragged.
Even though Jason is looking at him like he's
feeling just *how* ragged Dick's breathing is.
"I don't think... I don't think this is a good idea,"
he manages, and Jason's own eyes slip closed.
For a moment, and then he yanks Dick's hand
to his shorts so he's grinding against Dick's hand
*and* Dick's crotch.
"Jesus, Jason --"
"Stop... thinking," he says, and when he opens
his eyes and smiles it's brilliant, and no sharper
than it has to be for someone like Jason.
Dick's fourteen *again*, or maybe just a little
older, just enough that it's hard to remember
that he's never cold at night, that here, in the
Tower, he never has to be alone.
It's hard to remember that he doesn't have to
grab for this, that he doesn't *have* to *watch*
Jason, and feel him, and roll them over until
Jason's sprawled under him and bucking into
"Is this what you want?" Dick asks, and maybe,
in some other universe, it could be as much of
a tease -- a *taunt* -- as it sounds like, even to
his own ears.
But it isn't.
"Fuck, Dick, *yeah* --"
He kisses Jason, because he can, and because it
*feels* right, but then he pulls back. Because
he wants every sound, every cue, every --
Because he needs it.
And Jason's here to give it to him.
The first time he looked at himself in the mirror and
saw the cowl glaring back at him, he'd never felt
smaller or more lost. Tim had helped with that --
sometimes, he thinks Tim is the absolute
embodiment of help. For him, and for all of them.
Tim has, from the beginning, behaved as though
certain things were part and parcel of being Robin.
Things Dick had never even considered, but... the
kid has a point.
Dick had done such a good job burying himself in
work with the Titans that he hadn't, actually,
noticed that anything was going wrong with Bruce.
And whether or not he would've been able to be
any help with that at all, considering...
The bruise had faded off his cheek within days.
It took a lot longer than that for him to stop
Sometimes it's hard to look at Tim and see anything
*but* Robin, even though his suit is different, and
even though Tim has more of a life away from the
Cave than either he or Jason ever had, or could.
And he knows Tim himself would deny that just
about as often as he simply nodded, but... it's
there, just the same.
Tim had looked at them, and told them they
were *missing* something in Jason's absence,
and then he'd set out to provide it. And, because
he is who he is, he'd done a better job of that
than anyone could.
Dick knows exactly how much Tim's extended
training period had to do with Bruce making up
for whatever mistakes he'd thought he'd made
with Jason, and how little to do with Tim
And he knows that Tim will believe that
approximately five minutes after never. There
are all sorts of things that come along with
being Robin, he thinks. Or maybe just with
being a Robin who isn't... him.
Because one of things that makes this so good,
makes *being* with Tim so good -- and so
terrifying -- is that there's a lot of Jason in him,
in ways that would probably only make sense to
*him*. It isn't Tim's attitude, and it's in *no* way
It's all about the way he *looks* at Dick,
It makes him feel greedy, and just as needy as
he knows he is. Because he can't be anyone but
himself around Tim, and he can't help having
some idea of who that really is, even if the only
real clarity is denial: He can't possibly be the
man Tim sees.
Or even the boy.
In about four hours, it'll be dawn. He'll be asleep
in his bed for at least another hour before he has
to go in to the station, and Tim will hopefully be
doing the same down in Gotham before school.
And, because it's a night like *this*, that started
with Tim not *quite* managing to sneak up on
him on a crumbling rooftop and has progressed
through several thorough beatings and one
averted suicide, because Tim is crouched beside
him, silent and still and *there*...
In about four hours, he's probably going to be
dreaming, and there's a good chance it'll be of
the circus. A memory he doesn't actually have,
because it's a memory he'd never tried very hard
to keep. The construction of a fantasy from a
photograph, a moment which changed the
"Nightwing," Tim says, and the opening is clear,
defined by the neutrality of Tim's tone.
"I'm not actually brooding."
Tim turns his head just enough that the small
smile tugging up one side of his mouth is visible,
even if it would only be visible to someone as
close as Dick is, right now. "No?"
"I'm thinking," Dick says. "There's a difference."
The smile fades off Tim's face only slowly, still
visible even when he's turned back to their
somewhat casual surveillance of yet another
Bludhaven meth lab. There hadn't been any
need to explain this, or the need to actually
*do* surveillance before moving in, despite the
lack of any visibly dangerous 'employees.'
Busting in to meth-labs without a great deal of
preparation -- and luck -- tends to involve more
explosions than are strictly necessary.
And it's not like the 'haven needs any more air
The trick is to go in when the maximum number
of people can be detained with the minimum risk
of stray bullets.
He's been in this business long enough that he
knows they're probably going to wind up
blowing the place sky high, anyway. The biggest
danger in raiding these makeshift factories is the
number of people they'll -- *he'll* -- eventually
have to rescue from the inevitable fires.
"Can I steal you tomorrow night?"
Tim doesn't pause, or even really shift. "Just tell
Dick grins. "Say about twenty-three hours from
"Cool," Tim says, and Dick knows it'll be more
like twenty-one, short of a real emergency in
Gotham. Tim is...
Tim's *available* in ways that Dick doesn't
really have words for, or even coherence
beyond the feeling, low and tight in his stomach,
Which, in itself, isn't very coherent at all. They
don't have very much in common, not really.
Tim's cape is armored enough that the wind
barely ripples the first layer of fabric. Tim's
*hair* isn't ruffled at all, and Dick's hand is
moving before he even has to think about it.
He cracks the gel on three of the spikes and is
working on a fourth when Tim slaps his hand
away. When Dick lets him, because, well.
Playing is for those times when they aren't
crouched above and across the street from a
building full of people who really shouldn't be
On his own, he'd be nothing but still. He knows
how to do that -- with his body, anyway. He'd
crouch here and watch and study, and, when
he left, he'd move just as slowly and carefully
as he could until he was out of all possible
lines of sight.
And then he'd have to *move*. Jump and fly
and just... move.
Like this, with a partner, there's a voice beyond
the ones in his mind. Something -- *someone* --
to touch, when he has to.
And if, sometimes, it feels strange that it's
*Tim*, who'd learned the sort of stillness Dick
had to sweat blood for long before any of them
even knew he existed...
Open to this, from him. And.
Dick moves back from the edge of the roof and
Tim follows without a word, not even shifting
his expression until they're behind the water
tower, at which point he looks at Dick. In
better light, Dick knows the fact that Tim is
raising his eyebrow behind the mask would be
He doesn't need better light.
He shakes his head, and turns, and pauses,
and turns back. "Come back with me."
Tim's face is a study in calculation. Dick is
almost -- almost -- sure it has more to do with
how soon he has to leave in order to get back to
Gotham in time than with anything else. He's
absolutely sure he should be thinking about all
the other things Tim might be calculating right
He smiles, and reaches out, and Tim takes his
hand even before the expression on his face
Which makes Dick jump off the roof just a little
more extravagantly than he should.
The sound Tim makes is -- almost -- covered by
the *paff* of the kid's grapple, and the vibration
of the grapple hitting and locking passes
through Tim just enough to be a cue.
Dick lets go, and then fires his own.
He can feel Tim following him in the shadows
that actually don't exist -- it's too dark for that.
He can feel him because Tim is one of the few
things he has left in his life that always make
sense, that always...
It's never hard to let go of Tim.
He's never doubted that Tim will come back.
And so this is maybe -- probably -- not just wrong,
but unnecessary, too. This... *thing* he hasn't
planned, and can't bring himself *to* plan, because
that would be... it would feel...
It would feel so much more wrong than anything
else. Everything else. When he slips through his
window, he doesn't move away far enough.
Certainly not as far as he *could*.
Tim's inside in another minute, and close, and
just a little wind-burned. Dick makes a note to
get some of Babs' footage from their mask-cams.
It would be interesting to see just how much Tim
shifted his usual line-technique to compensate for
Dick's own. Tim reaches back to close the window
behind him, and when Dick pulls the solvent out of
his boot, he just tilts his face up.
No masks, not for this.
Dick gets his own off and watches Tim watching
him, studying him and the living room around
Part of Dick wants to ask what clues are present
in the mild clutter. Most of him...
"What can I get you?"
"Nothing," Tim says, and narrows his eyes --
slightly. It's one of the expressions which make
it difficult to understand a Tim outside of Robin,
because it's one of the expressions Dick is far
more accustomed to reading when he can only
see the lower half of Tim's face.
He remembers a time when he'd have words
for this, or when he'd at least feel like trying to
come up with a few.
But then, he's known for a long, long time how
little use words can be for...
Well, pretty much everyone *he* knows. He'd
like to know what the look on his face is telling
Tim. He'd like to wait long enough to make a
few guesses, or to give Tim a chance to offer
his own thoughts.
A chance he already knows Tim won't actually
He reaches past Tim to pull the blinds down,
There's no opening there -- it's a statement, not
an invitation. But it's not a rejection, either.
"I like it when you're here," he says. "With me."
And it's enough to make Tim part his lips, and
Dick leans in and kisses him, not too hard.
Just enough to drive him back against the wall,
the window. The blinds rattle and Tim moans
into his mouth, and it's a wonderful, wonderful
illusion. Tim's still wearing every part of his
uniform *except* for the mask, which means
Tim is armored from neck to heel.
Still, it feels like the only part of him that's
remotely unyielding is the hair cracking under
Perhaps the fingers digging into his biceps.
Dick pulls back when he runs out of air, and
watches Tim pant, watches the flush deepen
and spread beneath the fading windburn.
"Why." Tim's tongue passes over his lips once,
quickly. "Dick. Why now?"
Because you're here. Because I can. Because
I've never fucked *this* up, not too badly. "I
don't know," he lies, and slides one hand out
of Tim's hair and over his cheek. The look in
Tim's eyes is sort of steadily confused for a
beat, and another, and then he closes them.
And presses against Dick's palm.
Under Tim's tunic, everything is motion and
chaos -- deep, ragged breaths and a faint,
Tension and a writhe every time Dick touches
him the right way. There's nothing calm here,
or still. Everything he'd seen before in Tim
seems more like something seen *on* him. A
clever, all-concealing lie of calm meant to hide
Tim's moans are low and less wordless than
He's not hiding from *Dick*.
There's a line they keep crossing, back and forth,
between responsiveness and submission. Between
everything Tim's ever wanted from him and
everything Dick --
He's fourteen again, or perhaps a little older, but
he *isn't*, he absolutely --
Tim's throat tastes like armor and sweat, and
Tim's eyes are wide, so wide. It makes Dick want
to turn the lights out. It makes --
He thinks, as he moves, as he rocks and grinds
and *holds*, about all the questions he'd never
answered about Jason, and wonders how many
of them were really about Bruce.
He's not at all sure whether or not he wants
them to have been, even though the question
is -- here, now -- entirely moot.
"Dick, please -- *please* --"
"I love you," he whispers, and means it when
Tim locks his legs around his waist and holds on
tight to his shoulders.
It feels like coming home.
She thinks he misses her legs, her motion, the
vitality that had, at best, very little to do with
everything behind her eyes.
She's right -- she just doesn't know *why*.
He's spent so *much* time running away from
himself, from the person he used to be when the
world was Gotham and sunlight was entirely
optional. He'd never, however, expected to
actually *get* away.
To escape into a person who'd need at least a
day or two to refamiliarize himself with Gotham
*or* New York before he could feel even
He misses the person Babs was because he
remembers who *he* was, then. Their first kiss
and the absolute *freedom* of it, because her
mouth had been soft and tasted like the
peppermints Jim Gordon used to keep on his
desk for those periodic times when he was
trying to quit smoking.
Because he'd known, the whole time, even when
she'd closed her eyes and her lashes had brushed
against the lower edges of the cowl, that sooner
or later he'd be going home.
He doesn't really have a home, anymore. He has
an apartment building full of perfectly nice people
with perfectly nice problems.
He has a city that's going to kill him one day.
And he has... this.
The scent of her hair, incongruously flowery and
sweet -- a gift from Dinah.
The curl of her arm around the back of his neck --
biceps he knows exactly how much Tim envies.
The heat of her, and the viciously awful stillness
there, and everywhere below. It's easier to ignore
when she's on her back, or when both of them
have enough energy to maneuver the mechanics
of her 'riding' him.
She prefers it this way, on their sides, for reasons
of her own he wouldn't dream of guessing at.
She yanks at his hair and twists enough to bite his
throat, and he reaches up to feel the muscles flex
and shift on *her* throat.
"Come *on*," she says, in a voice so low and
rough that it could almost be entirely about
passion. This works for her, and he *knows* it.
And he knows that a part of her mind is going
down the list of everything she intends to
accomplish tonight, as Oracle and through Oracle's
There's a perverse desire to slow down, and a
familiar conflict about the desire. He also knows
he isn't doing this right.
This thing, between them, where everything is
tied up with everything *neither* of them are
managing to do anything like correctly. She's
seeing something like a decade's worth of missed
chances, he's sure of it.
He knows it's something a lot deeper than that,
"Dick," she says, soft and low with an underlying
anger she can't hide -- not like this, not *now*. He
brushes as much of her hair aside as he can, and
her throat doesn't smell like anything but Barbara.
No leather, now, but something much better.
Sweat and frustration like a taste on the back of
his tongue, and when he slides his other hand
down, over her heart, he can feel it pound, and
know that it's just her body, that her mind has the
kind of precision, the kind of ruthless *focus* --
She pulls on the back of his neck, *squeezes*, and
it feels like something he hadn't known how to
want, back when he'd had the chance to ask for
Back when the *possibility* existed that he'd had
the chance to ask for it. The only thing light about
Babs is her hair, and there's a reason he'd
managed to get further away from Gotham than
she ever did.
Or ever *would*.
She never leaves the lights on.
And he's moving much too fast now, much too
*hard*, and she claws at his scalp and growls
and loves it with every part of herself she's
letting him touch. Next time, he'll have to check
carefully before they do much of anything at all.
There's a lot she can -- and will -- do with a
mirror, and they're practiced at this, but...
He never wants to hurt her, not in this way
neither of them would ever ask for. But he also
She jerks and spasms everywhere above the
waist, and he knows if he reached down he'd
be able to feel the ghost of *something*
beneath the soft, blameless skin of her hip, and
he bites her ear to keep from groaning.
Because it's good, even if it isn't right.
Because it's so damned close.
He can't stop.