If no hand raised
October 6, 2006
Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.
Spoilers/Timeline: Vague references to a lot of older
storylines, as well as to NIGHTWING: YEAR ONE.
Summary: Clark understands.
Ratings Note: Sexual content which does and doesn't
dovetail neatly with the content some readers may
Author's Note: An attempt to answer Ny's request
for a snippet based
on this icon and my...
current journal title. *koff*
Acknowledgments: To Betty and Katarik for
audiencing and encouragement.
There's a feverish sort of guilt that is particular to Jason
Clark knows the scent of Dick's tears, and he will never
forget the question in his eyes, the question of Bruce, and
how he could...
Dick had never gone so far as asking the question aloud --
he had spent far too long *with* Bruce for such a thing to
be possible -- and there's another sort of guilt for that:
Clark is very grateful that Dick had never asked, because
he does, in fact, understand. And he doesn't know how
to phrase -- any of it -- without causing Dick even more
pain. If he could, he would wrap Nightwing around Dick like
a *cloak*, and while Dick is doing well enough at that on his
He has never had a partner of his own, and for the most
part, that's been all right. There aren't...
Of Dick's generation of heroes, only Donna would've been a
truly suitable partner for him, with strengths and talents to
complement and enrich his own, and, beyond all of *that* --
is the fact that his solitary status has given him the unique
opportunity to observe.
He had not been a part of the League when they had all
taken partners, but he believes he can imagine the way it
must've been. Bruce had been the only one of them even
close to thirty at the time -- Diana is the exception, and yet
it's not as though Donna was ever truly her partner, either --
and they were all...
Well, he had not been of the League, but he had *known*
them, and they had all been so very *young*. So had he.
Younger than any of their partners -- he believes -- would've
been able to comprehend. They were not parents, and
Bruce had truly done the best of any of them at being a
They were lonely, and inexperienced, and *young* -- many
of them younger than even Clark himself -- and feeling their
ways as much *as* their partners.
And he had joined them in their wonder and fear as their
partners grew, and aged, and became, and changed the
entire face of the world solely by existing within it. It was
not so strange to think of the brilliant, brave, and selfless
man he has known as his closest friend for years as the
same one who could so *injure* Dick with his fears and lack
And, yes, with his selfishness.
The fact that the world needs the Teen Titans nearly as
much as it needs the League does not change the fact that
the team's existence...
The children --
The young men and women -- and it does truly seem, even
to him, as though there are more of them each and every
day, aging the League faster than it can truly *move* --
were never meant to be anything but heroes in their own
right, *people* in their own right, and yet, of course, to
their *partners*, they had always been so much more than
And, yes, *less*.
He would've liked to be as much of a friend to Bruce as
Bruce is to him, to have the right and the *position* to
explain the terrible irony of his act. Dick, more than any of
his peers, would surely have *chosen* to stay at Bruce's
side even as everything else *in* him cried out to be --
everything he is.
Instead, Clark has just enough privilege -- *luxury* -- to
stand in the man's Cave, to be present as another
extraordinary young man is trained and honed into
something dangerous and beautiful, and believe -- with
*enough* of himself -- that at least some part of Bruce had
known that holding Dick (to himself) back would've been
the far greater crime.
And Jason Todd...
Jason Todd is nothing at all like Dick, of course. The blue of
his eyes is closer to the Caribbean than to the sky over the
Caucasus. His hair is unruly ink as opposed to feathers in
And Bruce has not truly relaxed in his presence -- even in
terms of the definitions of 'relativity' Clark has developed
over the years -- since Dick first began working as Nightwing.
Now is not an exception.
However, they had *all* learned years before that the
League could not truly stand as a cohesive whole with them
*only* coming together when the world needed them to do
so, and so Clark is here.
The others undoubtedly see it as an aspect of some sort of
martyrdom -- a deliberate choosing of the shortest possible
straw. Certainly, Clark has some measure of envy over how
well Hal and Barry used to get along, and how well Hal and
Ollie still *do* get along.
He does not truly believe there is anyone who couldn't be
friends with Dinah, and none of them have ever so much as
suggested that Diana should work more on team-building.
Diana is an *ambassador*, with every fiber of her being,
and they are -- all of them -- infants in comparison.
None of them would ever actually believe he enjoys these
moments -- Bruce's *company*.
There can be few things more restful than the silence
between them, because Bruce's silences are their own sort
of acknowledgment. Their own sort of *trust*.
Just as Jason has been training and working and exercising
since Clark's been here (and, judging by the exertion
obvious in his heart-rate and respiration, for at least an hour
*before*) without so much as a direction from Bruce, so can
Clark simply *be* here.
He needs no direction, either. And with that lack -- the
fact that Bruce isn't truly *relaxed* does not mean he is
unwelcoming -- comes the freedom.
And the guilt.
He has not spoken with Dick very much about his feelings
with regards to Jason, but what conversation there has been
has been... telling. Extraordinarily so. Jason, for Dick, seems
to be built of negatives:
He's not truly too violent, in comparison to Bruce. He's not
actually a criminal. He's not very cruel... and so on.
What he *is* -- beyond Bruce's Robin -- is something which
remains to be seen, for both Dick and himself.
He does not seem comfortable meeting Clark's eyes, but
that's never been something he could use as a judgment. He
had not come here as Clark Kent, after all. Dick refers to
him, at times, as 'little wing' with a combination of wry and
cold self-knowing and confusion.
In his hearing, Bruce has referred to him as 'Jay,' but never
when they've all been together like this.
He has not had the opportunity to watch Jason's face, to
be *near*, when either of those things have occurred...
And Clark is sometimes quite frightened by the images in
his mind -- thankfully vague -- of how a young man or
woman trained -- *mentored* -- by himself would fare in
the world now. If some other hero would know the scent of
their tears, and the feel of Clark's own failure. Perhaps
there would be some measure of apologia -- and perhaps
there would not.
He is musing around the spaces of Jason Todd, and what he
is to *himself*. Around the guilt -- specific and undeniable
and the closest thing he has to respectability -- of his
When he looks at Jason working himself to a trembling -- at
this point, it would only be visible to someone with his
abilities, though he would be shocked if Bruce didn't know,
just the same -- exhaustion on the vaulting horse, he sees...
He cannot *help* but wonder if Bruce as a young man was
just like this.
He can't be sure, of course, but certainly this particular piece
of equipment was here when he'd first met Bruce, and it
may very well *be* the same one Bruce had trained himself
He has watched Dick tape his hands and wrists just the way
Jason has taped his own.
He knows the scent of Dick's sweat better than his tears
(may it always be so) -- and he has come to know Jason's
own. (There is a higher sodium content, which is a simple
thing and easily explained, but that does not stop his mind
from using words like 'raw.')
Dick would never speak of Jason as an interloper, but things
unspoken are not always -- truly -- unmeant. Clark has
never been Dick's lover -- as opposed to sharing a
friendship and sexual intimacy for which he will always be
both grateful and hungry -- and yet.
He can't shake the feeling -- the sense, deep within -- that
Dick would feel somewhat betrayed if he knew of Clark's
desires, whether or *not* Clark could ever come to know
Jason well enough to even hint of them.
It becomes worse, of course, as Jason (moves to the heavy
bag, and exhales a soft, unconscious growl with every
powerful blow) settles into this life, and as Dick settles into
Dick and Jason *have* become closer -- this is in the set
of Bruce's shoulders, and the fact that the firm line of his
mouth could be harder. They have not discussed Dick, but
Clark knows that *Bruce* knows that Clark is the one Dick
has spoken to the most about... all of this. It would, of
course, ease nearly everything if Dick and Jason could
become friends -- for *both* Bruce and himself.
They do not deserve the easing, for all that it would ease
things for Dick and Jason, as well.
Little wing. It's --
There's nothing birdlike about Jason beyond the occasional
avidity of his gaze, and the power within his variety of
In the uniform, he wavers in Clark's perception between
ridiculous and obscene and -- something which his mind
insists on calling 'simplicity.'
He is easier to take in, and to know, like this:
The shorts Jason is wearing were once a pair of sweat-pants.
The t-shirt is at least as old, and strains against the
muscular *fact* of him. The socks are simple and thick --
and surely the sturdiest item of clothing on him... save,
perhaps, for his jock.
And his own regard...
He had long since finished the tea Alfred had provided, and
he feels no great need to eat more of the -- excellent, of
course -- biscuits.
Bruce has still made no sign that Clark's presence has
become in any way unwelcome -- and he has always been
far more than simply *capable* of that sort of
communication -- and the subjectivity of time is one of the
most truly forgiving aspects of Clark's existence... and yet
what of *Jason*?
Does Clark seem watchful to him? Excessively so?
Does he -- *would* he -- imagine himself judged, or even
simply measured against Dick?
Wouldn't it be *better* if his desire was obvious to the boy?
If only to give him... *would* that sort of context seem
When Dick was somewhat older than Jason is now, there
had been a series of encounters in which Dick had moments
of something which could almost be deemed *clumsiness*,
when he would blush and stammer and (try to) hide his
face from Clark. It had been very easy to discern what --
what the *problem* had been, and, ultimately, it had not
been much more difficult to figure out how to ease it.
There were challenges in this life far more difficult and far
less *rewarding* than that of doing one's best to convince
Dick that one finds him beautiful.
("And that's the other thing, Clark. I -- he was a *street*
kid. And there's so much there that I don't even want to
ask about, because it feels like... it makes me feel more
like a *cop* than R -- than Nightwing.")
It is something else, of course, that he and Bruce had never
spoken of. It had been... something of an unspoken
*arrangement*, though not so sordid. They would -- all of
them -- let their partners work as much of this sort of thing
out amongst themselves, and as for the rest...
("*Am* I supposed to be trying to get him to talk to me
about sex? Is *Bruce* talking to him? He never really -- I
mean, you know, you found me all of those great *books*
and websites and also -- heh. Well.")
It's possible that Bruce is *waiting* for him to... claim
Jason's friendship for his own the way he had done with
Dick. The way all of them had hoped *someone* would
with Garth, and, to a much lesser extent, Roy.
The relationships they all have with their partners -- it can
be too much, even though few of them had made even the
slightest attempt to be parents...
And Jason has moved around the heavy bag -- slightly.
While his view of both Bruce and himself would still be
obscured, he *can* watch, if he wishes. It's difficult to be
sure how much of the strain in his muscles is tension, as
opposed to simple fatigue. But... "Will you be going out
with Bruce tonight, Jason?"
Jason's punch goes -- slightly -- off the mark. "Uh, well --
*yeah*," he says, shaking out his hand and glancing --
briefly -- toward Bruce's turned back. "At least, that's the
"Jason has developed the ability to train *and* rest
efficiently after school," Bruce says, and his voice...
It's almost difficult to *credit*, but when Clark looks at
Jason, there's color in his cheeks which has nothing
whatsoever to do with exertion, and everything to do with
It -- it has been a long time since Bruce has been so...
obvious about his regard. His pride and --
No, pleasure is, perhaps, the best term for it.
There is no real increase in the amount of color in *Bruce's*
face, and yet the potential is -- there.
("God -- God, Clark, don't call -- don't call me 'Robin,' like
that, I really -- I really *can't* -- Bruce, God, I --")
The possibility is there, in ways that --
"I -- yeah. It's one of the nice things -- the *only* nice thing --
about the fact that my school day starts at 7:15. Lots of time
in the afternoons and evenings for training and catching up
on my sleep debt," Jason says, and the smile on his face is
*for* Clark, but.
Clark can't quite keep himself from narrowing his eyes, but
he can widen them again at speed. Fast enough to keep
*Jason*, at least, from noticing his --
Suspicion is something of a euphemism. Clark smiles back
at Jason in return, and -- deliberately -- turns his attention
There are things --
There are things he can't imagine saying aloud, in any way,
at any *time*. He and Bruce had never spoken about certain
aspects of his relationship with Dick, and they never will. It
had never seemed strange to Clark that Bruce *wouldn't*
want to add sexuality to his already intense and fraught
relationship with Dick, and he had --
He had assumed.
He had, to a large extent, *reveled* in being considered
available, and, at the very least, nominally *appropriate* --
And he had assumed.
"Bruce," he says, as casually as he can. Quietly enough
that, perhaps, Jason will assume the conversation has
nothing to do with him.
It's as much of a statement as an acknowledgment -- and
even more of one when Bruce turns, slightly, towards him.
It's a statement and an *offer*...
And, when Clark looks -- and looks beyond the cowl --
It's an answer, as well.
Clark has had, of course, more years to grow accustomed to
his sexuality than he's had to grow accustomed to some of
his powers -- certainly far more time to grow accustomed to
it than he's had to come to terms with the *intensity* of his
powers. Just the same, the flatness of the acknowledgment
in Bruce's eyes coupled with the softness in the way the
man is holding his own mouth, the sense of something
almost like *pleading* --
The *scent* of Jason, permeating the Cave with youth and
sweat and -- yes, that sense of *raw*, the power of him --
The length of his thighs, and the way Bruce's hand would --
*does*? -- appear splayed over one, spreading --
Bruce is no less human in this moment than he's ever been,
and yet the way he stands, close enough that he has to look
*up*, slightly, to meet Clark's eyes, seems sudden. Seems...
Jason has paused.
A quick glance reveals him staring at both of them, curiosity
warring with caution in *his* eyes.
"Did you -- hear something, Clark?"
And Bruce is no more unwelcoming than he has been. That
was as much of an *escape* hatch as it was an invitation to
depart. To leave them -- the *two* of them --
He'd like to ask Bruce if he's *sure*, if this choice they have
made is the correct one --
More than that, however, he would like to be able to believe
that his desire to ask comes from more than jealousy and
frustrated desire. To have, yes, but also to *know*.
There is a privacy here, now --
Clark has no place.
"Clark, if you need to --"
"I -- yes, Bruce. I'm sorry, Jason, I was hoping we could..."
"Hey, it's okay S -- Clark." Jason's smile is crooked,
endearingly... impressed? Shocked?
Clark doesn't *know*.
"If you gotta go save a few thousand people, you gotta go
save a few thousand people. I can deal with that."
The smile that shows below Bruce's cowl is small, warm,
and tight. The one in Bruce's eyes --
"We'll speak again later, Clark," Bruce says, and clasps
Clark's bicep with a warmth, a *sympathy* --
It is, ultimately, no more amazing, no more *staggering*
than anything else, and yet --
And yet, he thinks, once he's in the sky and beyond the
range of human perception -- if not beyond Bruce's sensors --
it is understandable. It is --
"So, uh -- was he... okay? I mean, he seemed a little...
freaked? Does Superman get freaked? Is Superman
*allowed* to get freaked?"
"We try to keep it to a minimum," Bruce says, and the
laughter in his voice --
Is a brilliant echo of the laughter in Jason's own. In --
"Oh, *hell* yeah. You know I always get crazy horny when
you let me do the *fun* training stuff --"
Clark shouldn't. He shouldn't --
Clark has never had a *partner*. He's never -- and this is
more, so much more than the others, than any of them --
He focuses, just enough, and for a moment he is confused.
There is nothing in the way Bruce is cupping Jason's face to
explain the boy's coughed-out groans, his *curses* --
And then Clark focuses more, and sees Bruce's gauntlet
pressed against -- curled *around* -- Jason's jock. Sees --
Bruce has... given him this, or offered it for Clark to take.
This truth, and this intimacy. This apology...?
Or, perhaps, it's something closer to the validation of
hunger, the acknowledgment of complicity, the urge --
freed -- to take and *take* from these beautiful
never-children, this --
Something in the way Bruce allows his head to fall *back*
once Jason slips down to his knees (and Jason is still hard,
still aroused enough that -- Clark can see him slicking his
penis with his own semen, he can see --)
Something in the way Bruce opens his *eyes*, and says
Jason's name, once more, and looks --
He is looking at Clark.
"I understand," Clark says, helplessly. "Dick was -- is -- just
"*Beautiful*," Bruce says, and his hand is in Jason's thick,
curling hair, and his communicator --
Is still in. Oh. Oh -- "Bruce --"
Bruce's eyes are wild, dazed, *naked* --
"Bruce, I -- *thank* you --"
Bruce's eyes are closed, and he's shaking his head, he's --
"Bruce, what -- hey, I'm not *done* with that," Jason says,
and licks his lips -- and then Bruce is pulling, *lifting* him --
kissing him --
("Oh, Clark -- *Clark*, oh don't *stop* --")
"Bruce," Clark says, and -- "I -- *Dick* --"
And Bruce kisses Jason harder, more deeply. Bruce strokes
his way down Jason's back and pushes until Jason lets Bruce
lift him entirely, lets Bruce crush Jason against him --
("You -- Clark, I -- in the *sky*?" And Dick's laughter is
passionate, shocked, wild --)
Jason's laughter is harsh, low, punctuated with gasps, and --
And the first touch of Clark's fingertips to his own foreskin --
is enough to make him glad he'd paused above the *ocean*.
He can't -- quite -- laugh at himself. He can barely make
himself stop *focusing* on the sounds from the Cave, the --
if he could move close enough to *smell* -- he would not
stop there. No.
It's -- this.
This is not for him. Not this guilt, and not this pleasure --
for all that Bruce has shared. There are limits. There are --
Clark brings himself quickly to a second orgasm, and a
"Bruce -- *Bruce*, oh please, fuck, *yes* --"
This is not for him, he thinks, and *aches*, and flies at
speed for the cloud bank gathering over Nova Scotia before
he can give in to the urge (*freedom*) to lick the semen
from his own fingers, to make the sounds he can hear, to
be *with* Bruce --
Bruce's *mouth* --
*This* -- is not for him.
And in New York City, there are hours of daylight left before
Nightwing will fly.
"Bruce... I. There are no words. I -- Superman out."
If he focuses, there would, perhaps, be a reply less
ambiguous than the lingering wet, the compulsion of
*sound* -- but.
He is no better, no stronger, no more *capable* than his
friends -- his *peers* -- when it comes to their partners,
so beautiful and so --
They change so *much*.
He has enough.
And, perhaps, so does Bruce.