Disclaimers: Not mine. *Not* mine.
Spoilers: None, really.
Summary: Dick takes a nap. Things go badly.
Ratings Note/Warnings: R. Contains content some
readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: Jack sent me the pictures that put
my head here. Where I went with it? All on me.
Acknowledgments: To Jack, Bas, and Livia for
audiencing. Liv and Jack also had very helpful
suggestions, and Jack came up with a title. Any
remaining mistakes and Issues are entirely my
Feedback: Keeps me still. firstname.lastname@example.org
In Batman's life, there is a process to everything.
All beginnings are essentially the same, if only in the
way they strike something within you, that same
internal tuning fork vibrating you toward the end with
that same sort of inevitable force.
Batman doesn't believe in fate.
He believes in consequences.
The first beginning he remembers is entirely predictable,
for those few people who know him, or know enough
to think they do. Pearls, moonlight-blackened blood.
For many years, he had been taken aback by the sight
of his own blood in daylight. Every scrape was
fascinating, every red drop fantastic and strange.
Alfred had explained, with painstaking care, the
mechanism of blood loss, thinking him struck by the
act of being wounded.
Alfred understands now: first impressions are everything,
and blood, while essentially unimportant, is always
more palatable in the darkness.
The second and third beginnings were clear from the
start, at least for him. A cave, a mugging stopped
before the woman -- blind -- could be hurt.
The fourth... was more complicated than it should've
He'd known himself well enough, by then. He'd been
an adult, his view of the world solidified to the
consistency -- for the most part -- of stone.
A beautiful, weeping boy in his arms.
A beautiful, weeping boy in *his* arms.
There was no question, no real one, that Dick would
eventually become Robin.
Still, there had been something truly warming, truly
*different* about being in the position of one who
gave comfort, however awkwardly, however
"You're doing quite well, Master Bruce."
Alfred has always been proud of him, but *that*
There is nothing quite so tempting, so needfully
believable as the admiration in a man's eyes not just
when you've done something well, but done something
well you never imagined you could.
Of course, in recent years he's had his doubts about
He loves Alfred, he *needs* Alfred, and he believes in
the man more, perhaps, than anything he hasn't built
with his own hands.
But he knows himself, and has studied child psychology
with a more singular focus than most anything else.
He knows his first beginning could have gone quite,
Every beginning is the same, and every end is wholly
dependent on the choices one makes -- or has made
for one -- in response to that beginning.
Batman believes that the day he can't hold himself
responsible for everything he's caused is the day when,
hopefully, someone will stop him. One way or another.
That's just one of the reasons why Dick had to become
He is...a good soldier.
Even as a boy, a *child*.
And part of it is -- has to be -- the fact that he'd felt he
had something to prove. That Batman had never made
enough of an effort to make him think otherwise.
But part of it is just Dick.
Brilliant in body and mind, competent, dedicated.
Pushing himself to be the man he thought Batman
wanted him to be.
That was, of course, one of the choices made.
He *had* studied this, more of it, he suspects, than
some of the actual doctors and therapists out there. He'd
had far more reason than any of them to do so, after all.
And a part of him had known how it had to be.
Dick becoming Robin in almost -- *almost* the same way
Bruce became Batman. But never quite enough that Dick
Smiling, laughing. *Living* in carefully average clothes
for his age and station, far more natural in them than Bruce
could ever be in a suit.
Sometimes, Batman looks at him and doesn't feel anything
Sometimes all he can see is a work of wondrous art, brought
to life and moving easily, happily through *his* world. As
if there's nothing to fear.
And he thinks: I did this.
Because holding yourself responsible doesn't have to be
entirely awful, does it?
Though perhaps that was a choice, too.
After a while, it all starts to run together. Between the
beginning and the end, between the acknowledgment of
the end and the road one takes to get there as slow as
There is little meaning in the 'middle,' though certainly
it is important.
Perhaps it's just something beyond comprehension, or
perhaps he simply hasn't studied enough.
Perhaps there are words for these nameless, drowning
emotions that would make them all make sense beyond
their unapproachable air of inevitability.
'Delusion' would certainly work.
He never feels saner than when he's right here, one palm
pressed to Dick's door -- always open at least a crack --
and the other curled loosely at his side.
The knock he won't give.
"You know you never have to," Dick had said. As a child,
with wide eyes filled with nothing but trust.
Because Bruce *had* always knocked, and that meant, for
the child, that Bruce never had to.
He takes a breath, and catches a surprising hint of green.
Dick has at least one window open.
Usually, by now, Dick is asking him -- *telling* him to
come in, already.
"We lurk enough as it *is*, Bruce," and that had been said
with an easy smile by the creature Dick had become.
No, creature is a terrible word.
And yet there is something inhuman about his beauty.
The thickness of his curls, tamed into a parody of the
latest conservative cut. Barely tamed -- they fall around
his ears, over his clean, clear brow.
Never quite long enough to occlude his vision. Just long
He hasn't touched Dick's hair in a very long time. That
has to be another choice, doesn't it?
Especially since he touches Robin as much as is
Bruce pushes his way in and.
Dick is asleep.
Snoring faintly, splayed across the single sheet on the
It takes a moment to backtrack, to remember the
morning's conversation with Alfred. The relevant facts:
heat wave, black-out.
It wasn't as though the house was lit in more than a
bare, few places on a regular basis, anyway, and the
Cave has long since had its own emergency generators
and back-ups for same.
He forces himself to think about it, to focus on his body
for the hint... yes. It is very warm up here. His body
begins to sweat beneath his Bruce-clothes.
And Dick is faintly *flushed* with it, or perhaps with
whatever dream he's having. He is *still* asleep, in a
way that seems both sodden with the heat and...
Dick knows better than this.
To be naked here, like this, is entirely understandable.
To be so deeply asleep that Bruce can watch, can
*see* every slow rise of breath. Every faint shift of his
hair as a hot, damp breeze tries and fails to ruffle it...
It is entirely different.
And he hadn't planned this, not at all. This was to be
another step toward the end, no more. A chance to
hone the images he keeps with him in his bed.
A chance for Dick to say something, *do* something,
more and beyond his usual easy acceptance of Bruce.
Shameless and unafraid.
And it's *exactly* like leaping into space onto a rope,
the way there was always just enough time to catch
hold before the fire blasted through the roof of the
building he was escaping, before the bullets ripped
through the space he'd occupied before.
A sense of pride, a sense of rightness, and a sense of
He crawls onto the bed as lightly as he can, quietly
pleased at the firmness of the mattress. His movements
are made subtle with this.
He is close enough to feel the heat baking off the boy's
He is close enough to see that the flush is far more
likely a tan, with a hint of a burn.
The mistakes are piling up, inexorable as any life story.
He shakes his head and smiles to himself.
And catches Dick's neck with his fist. There is no strain
in holding it -- the boy shows no signs of growing out
of lithe perfection.
He has waited for so very long.
Yes, all of it in the way Dick wakes late, wakes *wrong*.
Blinking-eyed confusion and a slack mouth damp with
spit at one corner.
He bears down hard, hitting a pressure point with his
index and middle fingers.
"*Fuck*, Bruce, what?" His eyes are clear and wide,
"What did you take?"
The next jab is a meaningful one, muscles moving
beneath Dick's skin to flex, to tense. "What. Did you.
"*Benadryl, Bruce, Jesus! Those gang members got me
good last night, it was too hot to sleep, I didn't want to
take a painkiller, but I needed to sleep... fuck, you can
let *go*. You know I don't use drugs!"
He relaxes his hold, but doesn't let go. "Benadryl *is*
"I needed something to fall *asleep*."
His pulse pounds beneath Bruce's fingers, sped with
something between anger and fear.
Dick is... he is young.
Robin was necessary, but he makes concerns about
the boy's age petty, and easy to ignore.
Even when ignoring those concerns led to mistakes.
"I'm going to teach you a lesson, Dick."
"Close your eyes."
A blink, a moment's hesitation, but he does so. Trust.
Bruce nods to himself and removes the hand from the
boy's neck. Curls it into a fist.
"Oh God, Bruce, *ow* -- what --?"
"That blow was to the apex of your spine. If it had been
any harder, you would be unconscious --"
"Jesus, I *know* that --"
"You are only conscious so I can be sure you learn your
"Fucking *A*, Bruce, I get it --"
Dick is silenced by a jab to the rising bruise. "No. No, you
Most of the suit is in the Cave, save for those few items
he could comfortably wear beneath his Bruce-clothes. He
unbuttons his shirt halfway, from the bottom, and slips
the rope from the appropriate pocket of the belt.
"You are unconscious, but I know who you are. I know all
your secrets, Dick."
"You are unconscious."
Confused, angry blinks, tossed at him from over Dick's
shoulder. His eyes are heavily dilated with pain and
shock. Dick nods, winces, and pushes his face against
Another choice, spiraling down to meaninglessness with
There is the future to be concerned about, but the
present is always, always right here.
And Dick is ready for the lesson.
The boy's wrists are appropriate limp when he lifts them,
even when he tests the set of the skin with his thumb.
"Even though you are unconscious, I'm far too careful to
leave you free."
He watches the boy's eyes move behind the lids,
watches the lips tighten.
"You must be tied."
An audible swallow, but his limbs remain limp, and pliant.
The briefest nod of understanding.
It only takes a few moments to get the boy's wrists
secured. Less for his ankles. "You're helpless."
"You could have stopped this easily. There were any
number of options available to you. However, since you
were drugged insensible, you have no options at all."
"I --" Dick bites his lip.
"The knife you usually keep beneath your pillow isn't
there right now. Why is that? Answer."
"Because I was drugged."
Batman nods slowly, mostly to himself. "And now I have
the run of the house. No alarms have been raised.
"And I have a gun."
The boy shudders once, all over. Stills. "You can kill
Alfred," he says, voice small and younger than the length
and strength of his body.
"I know your secrets. I kill Bruce first. In fact, I wait
right here for him. He'll come to check on you soon.
"I can't decide whether to gag you or not."
He slips back into his Batman voice. "You're begging,
Hissed breath. "I. 'Begging is nothing but a goad to the
criminally insane. I will not beg.'"
Batman nods to himself. "We hear Bruce's footsteps in
the hall. You shout out a warning."
Batman backhands him on cue. Nothing that would leave
a mark, but it still makes Dick yell. The amount of invisible
damage Batman can do with his knuckles has always been
prodigious. "Bruce comes in after us."
"No. *No*! He wouldn't. He'd. He'd know --"
"He'd know you were in danger, and in pain." He gives it a
moment to set in, watches it do so in the slump of the
boy's shoulders. Visible even with the stretch. Every muscle.
He breathes. "He comes in after us, stealthy. I don't know
why he didn't choose to use the gas. Perhaps he isn't
wearing the belt. Perhaps worry isn't allowing him to think
"I shoot, and miss. I do not miss the second time. I adjust
my aim. The third shot hits him in the temple. He falls. I
move closer. My fourth and fifth shots are true."
"Oh God, *Bruce* --"
"Is dead on the floor."
Dick takes a long, shuddering breath. Batman can't decide
if it's the precursor to some outburst or an attempt to
calm himself down. The look in the boy's eyes offers no
"Depending on the dose, and the timing, you will not be
thinking entirely clearly for quite some time. Perhaps even
an hour. Your body has no tolerances to such things."
"Bruce is dead."
"Because... because I took an *allergy* pill?" And Dick's
brief laugh is as honest and pure as ever.
"He's dead because you weren't prepared."
The laugh cuts off with the click of Dick's teeth meeting.
The sound is as good a sign as any other. They are in
They could be outside, in the night, just as easily.
"He trusted you, Dick."
"He's dead because of that."
"And I am not done with you."
"Wh-what? Bruce, I --"
"I could be the Joker." He twists his voice into an
approximation of the madman's own, letting his lips pull
back from his teeth. "I've always been fond of *you*,
He runs a slow, incautious hand down the hollow of the
"I could be Catwoman." He speaks from the top of his
throat. "This is just. Too. Sweet."
Batman digs his blunt nails in, and rakes them over the
"Oh God oh fuck Bruce *don't* --!"
And Batman is.
And Bruce is hard, desperately so. Choices.
He forces himself to ease off the pressure, but can't quite
take his hand away.
Crawls back onto the bed and kneels between the boy's
thighs. The sun is setting, and the cleft of his ass is a
shadow among shadows.
Dick is breathing heavily now, and stinks of fear.
Bruce closes his eyes and forces himself to regulate his
"It's all right, Dick. It's only me."
"Only. You." A cracked sort of incredulousness.
Bruce slides his hands up over Dick's back, up to his
straining shoulders. "It's all right," he says again, and
begins to rub.
Gradually, the boy's muscles begin to relax.
Bruce loses himself, just a little, in the feel of warm,
smooth skin. Slick, sticky here and there with sweat. He
works the kinks out of the boy's arms, and unties
Does the same for his legs, bending and stretching
The end has been chosen. There's nothing more to be
When he's done with Dick's legs, he leaves them spread.
Slides his hands up to cup the backs of the strong, lean
thighs, to tickle his palms against the sparse hair.
"Bruce. What are you --"
Slips one hand between the boy's legs, and cups his
half-hard cock. Begins to stroke.
Dick gasps. "Bruce. Bruce, I don't --"
Bruce gives the boy's cock a squeeze, and strokes a little
Dick tenses, all over.
That doesn't matter now. There are no choices left.
Only the consequences.
Dick will understand.
Robin, perhaps, already does.
"Shh," Bruce says. "It's only me."