Marking Time
by Te
April 13, 2005

Disclaimers: All is DC's.

Spoilers/Timeline: Up through "War Games," "Identity
Crisis," and "Fresh Blood."

Summary: "You had to know this was coming."

Ratings Note: Adults only.

Author's Note: This is Jack's fault. Somehow.

Acknowledgments: To Vivian and Livia for audiencing and


The first thing he thinks when he wakes up to find Dick
crouched on his dresser like the world's least convincing and
most inappropriate gargoyle is that he should be surprised.

There are, after all, a lot of reasons to be surprised. Starting
with the fact that Dick is in his bedroom, and heading right
through the fact that the sun is high enough in the sky that
neither of them should be seeing each other. Or both of
them should be in uniform. Or pretending they don't know
each other. Or --

"You're not awake at all, are you, kid?"

Tim knows better than to squeeze his eyes shut and rub at
them, no matter how comforting it would be. The last thing
he needs is to go back to sleep. Or maybe it's the first thing.
It's *day*.


"You should be flattered. Or..." It trails off into a yawn,
which is reasonably understandable. He thinks.

"Uh, huh..."

Maybe if he just rubs his eyes a little he won't go back to...

To --

The dream of being smothered by a pile of uniforms,
responsibility, and most of the questions he's never asked
himself about the dreams under the dreams, the
*thoughts* under the dreams -- it makes sense when he
wakes up to Dick with one hand in his hair and the other
on his chest.

"... you sleep?"

"Nn," he manages.

Dick laughs, and it seems wildly unfair that his coffee breath
smells that good. Tim hasn't had any of Alfred's coffee in
what feels like about three years.

"Dick." That's a little better.

"Uh, huh. You were saying something about how I should
be flattered...?"

"Because... because I trust you. This much." Is he saying
too much? Was that reasonably explicable, considering the
degree of wakefulness and surprise? At the very least, he's
awake now.

"Good to know, little brother. Good to know." Dick laughs
again, breath puffing against Tim's neck and...

He's being snuggled. It's possible that he isn't, actually,

"Yeah, I know. I should've called," Dick says.

It's more of a sigh than anything else, and possibly said
more with the press of Dick's body, the lean, warm length
of him -- civvies can be the most obscene clothing in the
world -- against Tim's side, the motion of his lips against
Tim's stubble.

"I just... kind of wanted to see you."

It's also possible that Tim has been spending too much time
with Batgirl. The last time he'd spent more than ten minutes
around Dick without being touched in some way was also
the second time they'd met. Officially.

"Go back to sleep, kid."

Where have you been. Why are you here. Why is this... how
can this possibly be *easy* for you? "This city..." is what
comes out of his mouth, which is better than the other
options, despite the fact --

"Yeah, I know, Tim. I... I know."

Despite the fact that he doesn't actually have an end to that
sentence. Dick strokes his chest, deftly avoiding the welts
left by Tim's tunic from that last slam into that last brick
wall last night. This morning. Something.

"Go to sleep, okay?"

Tim closes his eyes.

He wakes up again to the smell of coffee and the sound of
furniture moving -- no. Boxes moving. His hand finds the
mug on the nightstand, and, when he *does* open his
eyes, he finds Dick crouched next to the bed with one of
the boxes of his books.

"Tch. There are at least four books here that you didn't
return to your school, Timbo."

"I still have an essay to write. About... one of them. I
think." And the smile on his face is perfect for this -- a little
distracted, a lot rueful -- but Dick isn't looking at it.

The only real warning he gets is the tension in Dick's
shoulders before Dick *does* look up, and then it's... it's
too much.

It's the look he's been waiting for since he stopped
answering his phones -- all of them -- in Gotham. Since he
started screening every call he could, even though he could
*feel* that look waiting for him in Dick's eyes. The one
which is there now. The one which *asks* things, and
demands without even trying.

"Tim --"

"Don't," he says, and jumps out of bed, even though he
isn't sure where he's going. It's enough to have the bed
between them, precisely like an incredibly useless barrier.
"Just don't, okay?"

Dick nods at him, but it takes him too long to stop looking.

And it's not really a surprise when he starts talking again,
in that voice which Tim had done such a *good* job of
deleting from his answering machines and voice mail
and --

"You know I've been worried about you."

"Jesus, Dick --"

"I just need to know that *you* know --"

"I do." He does. He wouldn't *be* Dick if he didn't, and...
it's not like it would help. Tim slams back the coffee too
fast to actually appreciate the quality, and gives himself a
good, solid moment to imagine Alfred raising an eyebrow
at him -- perhaps even sniffing -- just as though it was
just another day (almost night, almost time), and the
worst thing he's ever done is fail to appreciate good coffee.

Then he goes to wash his mug. There's a plate in the sink
which wasn't there before, and Tim is almost honestly
curious as to what Dick could've possibly found in his
apartment to eat. Mostly he's... tense.

The time it takes to wash a plate, fork, *and* a mug is
enough --


Enough for Dick to get close again, hands on his shoulders
and breath on the back of his neck. Tim can't decide which
is heavier, more tempting, more...more warm. "I'm here,"
he says, pointlessly.

"Yeah, so am I."

He takes the hug as the price of -- no. He takes the hug
because he can, closing his eyes and bending his head
forward so Dick can rest his forehead against the back of
his neck. It lasts for... for a while. And then Dick laughs,

"You had to know this was coming." The fact that Dick
emphasizes his point with a squeeze is... entirely perfect.

"I had my suspicions."

"You know what I need from you."

A smile? Reassurance about the state of the Mission? A
semblance of status quo? "I..."

"Or maybe you don't," Dick says. One palm is pressed to
Tim's sternum, the other hanging loosely -- but not
casually -- near Tim's right hip.

Maybe. Maybe he shouldn't say anything. Maybe that would
be the right way for him to (not) respond. "Enlighten me,"
he says, and there's really no time to apologize for the tone
of his voice, for the flippant *edge* which keeps chasing
Alfred away, even though Tim's never wanted --

There's no time, and then the edge of the sink is digging
into the base of his spine and Dick's thumb is pressed to
the hollow of Tim's hip, making the material of his boxer
shorts even more irrelevant. Then Dick's mouth is on his
own, and it's not the kiss he'd imagined.

It's not any of the kisses he'd imagined. It's wet, and a little
cold, cold enough to make Tim shudder (irrational, it's
not that cold). It's awkward and uncomfortable and it's over
before Tim can decide whether or not to close his eyes.

"Dick --"

"That isn't, actually, it."

Tim blinks, and makes an honest effort to be blank, to be
patient and quiet and -- "No?"

The thing most of the people who actually *know* Dick
tend to forget is how terrifying he can be when he's angry.
Because it's always *personal* with Dick, because Dick
tries so damned hard not to ever be angry with people he
cares about. Because Dick wouldn't be human if that
actually worked for him, so when he *is* angry --

There's nowhere to go, and Tim doesn't have the capacity
to look away from the flash in Dick's eyes.

Not until the next kiss, anyway, and there's a difference
between looking away and closing his eyes. And moaning,
because it's still a little cold, but it's hard, and it's wet
because of Dick's *tongue* in his mouth, and Tim's back
doesn't hurt anymore. Dick has him by both hips and the
only thing Tim's touching now *is* Dick, and --

And his body remembers what it was like -- what it must
have been like -- to sleep in Dick's arms, and the kiss isn't
cold at all, anymore. Tim moans and knows he's clutching
at Dick when he feels his hands spasm on the curve of Dick's
shoulders, when he feels himself shuddering at the feel of
Dick's jeans on the inside of his own moving thigh. He's --

"Fuck --" He wasn't ready for the kiss to stop. That
should've been an incoherent moan. "*Fuck*."

Dick squeezes his hips and -- shoves.

Sink digging into his back again, and this is where he lets
go, this is where the point -- whatever it might be -- is
proven between them, and they -- they don't --

"Maybe you're right, little brother."

It's the voice Dick uses when he's leaning in close to
someone who's about to get hurt. Again.

"Maybe this is *exactly* what I need from you."

"Dick --"

"Because it's what I can get. Right?"

He doesn't close his eyes because of the way Dick's big,
warm right hand is ghosting over his crotch. It's just a
question of timing, really.


The moan, on the other hand, is definitely a result of the
way Dick's squeezing him. He should be... angry?
Confused? Scared?

Is he?

He has no idea what to say, and this is only partly because
Dick knows as well as Tim ever has that you never ask a
question you don't know the answer to, that Dick -- Dick

He could, possibly, ask Dick how *long* he'd known about
this, about how Tim *feels*. It seems like something
which would fit here, something which would have the
precisely correct degree of awkwardness and aggression.
Panting and staring, however, is the only thing he can

Staring at Dick staring into him, at Dick *glaring* until he
stops, until his expression twists into something which
would be ugly on any other face, until --

"Tim. Timmy, just --"

The kiss -- this kiss -- is an apology. It's not soft or sweet,
so he isn't -- *isn't* -- thinking about Steph, but it's an
apology just the same. Even with the way Dick's hand is
*working* him through his boxers, and the way Tim
can't stop rocking his hips into it. They're each two different
people now, sex and something messier, and it's so wildly
appropriate that Tim isn't sure how he'd ever managed
not to fantasize this:

Warm sun on his back, on the back of his neck, through
the pathetically small kitchen window, the taste of coffee,
the sense of this as something other than one more fucking
terrible mistake.

He's going to come in his boxers, and then he's going to
make Dick come *somehow* -- he'll fight if he has to --
and this is *happening*, it's entirely real and entirely true.

And maybe he's flying, just a little. Because maybe it's what
Dick needs from him, for some reason other than the fact
that Tim is too much...

Than the fact that Tim can't do anything else.

The idea of himself as someone who can actually *handle*
this lasts right up until the orgasm fades enough for Tim to
be aware of the press of Dick's mouth against his throat,
that Tim has his head thrown back, that his knees are
shaking, that Dick is breathing just as badly as he is --

"Oh. Oh, God --"

That the tone of Dick's voice makes him whimper and clutch
and -- "Don't. Please don't --"

"Tim. Oh God, Tim, I'm --"

There are ways to turn a kiss from an apology into
something else, anything else. Tim wasn't sure he knew
them well enough to actually apply them, and it's gratifying
that he does.

"Jesus -- *fuck* --"

Dick stumbles when Tim shoves, but there's no real way to
tell which of them keeps them both from falling. Dick's hair
is too long, they both bounce off the kitchen table, Dick's
mouth is hot and hungry, Dick's hair is tickling his cheek,
the tearing sound is Tim's boxers, the whimpering sound
is -- is something else --

"Tim --"

So much heat, and Tim's palm aches against the sweet
curve of Dick's erection through his jeans and they're in the
hallway --

"Oh, Tim --"

They're on the floor, and Dick's hands only stop his own
long enough to squeeze them, Dick's fly is open and Tim's
hands are shaking --

"It's all right, I swear it's --"

Tim's hands are *working*, but there are sounds coming
out of his mouth, noises, and the kiss is too far away, Dick's
mouth is too fucking far *away*, and it doesn't matter
when Tim ducks and sucks Dick in, when he can pretend
he's only being loud to make Dick buck, shiver --

"Love --"

Shudder for him, and it doesn't matter that he's never done
this before, that they've never -- they shouldn't --

It doesn't matter, because Dick is stroking his face, because
he's dreamed this so many times, too many times for it to
feel like anything other than coming home. The gauntlets
which are waiting for him to slip them on, the city which
could be anywhere, so long as there are shadows, the man
under him he's been waiting for.

Tim moans Dick's name around the dick in his mouth and
forces himself not to wince when Dick's thumbs dig into his
cheekbones a little too hard.

It's a surprise when he can't manage not to cough.

It's not -- really -- a surprise when Dick manages to recover
quickly enough to sit up and gather him in, gather him
close and hold on.

They're in the hallway, and there's a box of mostly too-small
clothes pressed against Tim's thigh, and it won't be long
before his breathing is back to normal, and Dick is stroking
his hair.

"I'm sorry."

Tim doesn't tense. Much.

"I'm... *Christ*."

It doesn't matter that Tim knows Dick isn't angry with *him*,
anymore. He tenses.

"Oh God. Oh, God, I never should've... Tim, I..."

There's something meaningful in the way that neither the
rhythm of Dick's stroking nor the pressure of his hug
changes even as he... struggles. Or maybe it's just that there
should be something meaningful about it.

Or maybe he just needs there to be.

"Dick," he says, and braces himself for redoubled apology.

The sigh he gets, instead, sounds exhausted. And a lot of
other things, too. "Yeah."

"It doesn't." Matter what I wanted. No. That won't get them

Dick tugs a little on Tim's hair before threading his fingers
into it. Tim needs a haircut, too. He wonders if it tickles. If.

Tim swallows. "You could tell me. What you need from

The sound of Dick's laugh makes something seize painfully
inside him, and Tim doesn't ask if they can possibly try
this again, in some way which wouldn't lead to the two of
them clinging like... like...

He's not thinking of his father.

"That would make too much sense, I think. I think... kiddo."

"It really would be too disturbing for you to call me 'little
brother,' right now, wouldn't it?"

"Oh. Jesus. God."

It's enlightening, at least, that there is, in fact, *something*
which can stop Dick from petting him right now. "Sorry."

"No, I -- God, it's -- is it too fucked up that I want to
apologize again *just* so you'll punch me?"

Tim closes his eyes. "No."

Dick sighs and tugs on his hair, again. "No, I guess it isn't."

He was probably supposed to respond to that as if it was...
a joke. If he comes up with another one right now, he
could probably salvage this. All he needs is a joke.

Just one.


"I was doing okay when you were unconscious, wasn't I?"

Tim nods, enjoying the feel of his cheek dragging against
Dick's bare chest right up until he remembers that Dick
knows he's enjoying it. That he *has* known for some...
disturbingly unspecified period of time. He stops.

Dick kisses his forehead, and Tim shivers much too

"It was a reasonable plan of attack," he tries. Really, all Dick
has to do is say something flippant and, possibly, tousle
Tim's hair, and they can --

"It's probably wrong that I want to make love to you, isn't

The thing about Dick that people who actually know him
aren't ever allowed to forget is that he actually expects
people to have reasonable answers to questions like that.

"Yeah, I know."

Does he?

"It's just..." Dick kisses his forehead again, slow and soft,
and only squeezes him harder when he shudders again. "It's
the closest you're going to get to talking to me. Isn't it?"

He does. "Dick, you know that isn't... it doesn't --"

"Fix anything?"

"Well... yes."

He manages not to do anything terrible when Dick finally
moves, which is for the best, as there's no actual
hesitation between Dick standing and Dick offering his
hand to help Tim up. And back into his arms.

"It doesn't --" There's nothing Tim can say which would
mean more -- which would make any more *sense* than
the senseless touch of skin to skin. He isn't sure where
his boxers are.

"Sometimes I just want to visit people I like."

There could, possibly, be lies more shameless than that
one in the world. "Dick --"

"Little brother."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut.

Dick tousles his hair, and walks them with a conscious
sort of awkwardness back to Tim's bedroom. The sun
won't be down for another hour and a half. Pretending
otherwise would be... less satisfying than just following.

And when Dick kisses him this time, it's almost just a