Disclaimers: They still aren't mine.
Spoilers: None, really.
Summary: The capacity to watch is something of a
prerequisite for membership in the Batfamily.
Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Contains content some
readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: The bunny is a direct result of a
conversation with the Jack, the resulting story is
something else entirely.
Title from "Tease" by D.H. Lawrence.
Acknowledgments: Much love to the Jack for
helping me hammer out the physical issues, and
to Weirdness Magnet and Branwyn for
audiencing and much-needed moral support.
Feedback: Appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's six-thirty in the morning and Barbara isn't sleeping.
This isn't new -- she's rarely asleep before seven -- but
both Gotham and Bludhaven had been reasonably quiet
last night, and even Plastic-Man had stopped calling in
to flirt randomly by four.
It's always... interesting when he's on watch.
The irritation has more to do with the undeniable fact
that she's far, far less flexible with her sleep patterns
now than she used to be than with anything else.
It wasn't that long ago when she could and did sleep
whenever she got the chance or whenever the mood
struck her. And it's not as though she doesn't
exercise -- there are millions of non-paralyzed
Americans in far worse shape than she is right now --
And amusing, too, if she's honest. If anyone had
pointed out ten years ago that the reason why she
rarely had insomnia was because she regularly and
repeatedly pushed her body far beyond the limits of
exhaustion, she would have been bemused.
Back then, it was only at the very worst of times
that the fatigue registered.
They're all getting older.
Barbara gives up on attempting to read in bed -- her
father has made a habit of quietly and pointedly
giving her gifts of actual books -- and lifts herself into
her chair. She *does* manage to force herself to
brew some tea before moving to the computers, but
it's a near thing.
And it's exactly as pointless as she knew it would be.
She has so many different and specified alarms set
up that a truly busy night leaves her apartment lit up
like an especially dangerous Christmas tree. There's
nothing remotely interesting in the police reports,
and there are only so many ways she can nitpick the
grammar in Spoiler's reports before she starts to
actively loathe herself.
She switches to visual. Robin is on stand-by, which
means he's either home and down for the evening
or cutting her off. Not many people would be
capable of the latter, but Tim is, which would be far
more disturbing if he actually used his abilities that
way. At a quarter to seven on a Thursday, Tim is
almost certainly getting ready for school.
Nightwing's capture is on, and giving her an
excellent static view of his garage. Dick forgets to
turn the thing off more than any of the others.
Batgirl's view is static, as well. A surprisingly
beautiful image of sunrise over the Kane Sound, and
Barbara adjusts the color on her monitor and shares it
with Cassandra in silence for a while.
Batman's view is... odd. The Cave, and obviously so,
but the angle is... upside down? She has a moment of
panic before her mind gives her the image of Bruce with
the cowl pushed back over his head and hanging. She
grins to herself and cancels the countdown for her
personal version of an APB.
She needs more sleep.
Barbara flips the view of the Cave, just to reorient
herself and... there. Unless Bruce has decided to
redecorate, the fact that she can just make out the
edges of the parallel bars means that Bruce is sitting
at his own computers, presumably working on his own
reports for the night.
It's weirdly tempting to open the line, to wish Bruce
good morning or good night, whichever the case may
be. The fact that she wants to do so despite years of
painful experience in just how pointless attempts to
establish intimacy truly are... well. She chooses to look
at it as proof of her own basic humanity, as opposed
to simple masochism.
She saves the latter for Dick.
It's comforting to share this moment with Bruce, to
know that they're doing essentially the same thing at
the same time, in the same way it is to run down a
lead while Tim does the same at his own computer.
Less and more intimate than an actual conversation,
even one held in person, and she knows exactly what
that says about her.
She always does read the books her father gives her,
The view of the Cave shifts, and then shifts again, and
then starts to move constantly. Rhythmically. There's
something familiar about that, and it's tempting to try
to figure it out without 'cheating,' but her left hand is
already scrolling through the list of cameras in the
Cave to see which ones are available.
Fourteen apparently needs maintenance, and she
makes a mental note to remind Bruce about that
before flipping five to 'active' and opening a spy
program to see which files Bruce is working on.
She spares a brief glance for the monitor catching the
view from five and... pauses.
He's not. He isn't --
The laugh is shocked out of her before she can get
her hand to her mouth, and echoes over the hum
of the CPUs.
And the truth is, if anyone had asked her, she
would've said she didn't think he *did*. After she got
over the fit of hysteria.
Well. No one actually *pays* her to think, and she
supposes this is why. She shakes her head and moves
to shut off the feed and Bruce... moans.
It isn't loud, or even especially lengthy. On anyone
else, *from* anyone else it wouldn't register at all.
But Barbara's been in the Cave when Alfred was
removing shards of glass and other things from
Bruce's back, and that... was a moan.
She swallows and lets herself *really* look. The angle
isn't the best to see Bruce's face. Whatever he's
looking at has the entirety of his attention, and this
camera is catching him from the side and a handful of
feet away. His eyes seem to be as wide as she's ever
seen them when he wasn't playing Bruce Wayne:
Socialite and Amiable Nimrod, and his mouth is open.
No, *firmly* closed, now, a pale, colorless line
despite the excellence of both camera and monitor.
The flex of muscle in his shoulder isn't as obvious as
it would be on almost anyone else, but no one wears
as much as body armor as Bruce. No one *needs* as
much body armor as Bruce.
She feels another, different smile jitter across her
face, and absently covers her mouth. And looks
Even partially hidden by his own hand and the arm of
his chair, he's impressive. Exactly as much as he
should be, and Barbara can't decide if it's easier or
harder to focus *here*. Because this could just be
pornography with particularly poor direction -- if
rather good production values.
It's an erect penis, and neither anything she hasn't
seen before, nor anything particularly *individual*. It
could be anyone's, if she squints enough to ignore the
Except that it isn't.
Except that very, very soon she's going to have to try
to have a conversation with this man -- with
*Bruce* -- and now she knows exactly what he looks
like when he's... aroused.
Which is *more* than enough reason to turn it *off*.
She shifts the mouse over to close the window, feeling
her skin tighten all over at the irrationally powerful
sense that she's *touching* him, his thigh, his chest,
his shoulder, and stops again when she sees his
forearm flex out of the corner of her eye.
She looks before she can think, and Bruce is
She narrows her eyes against it, hopeless *not* to
imagine the feeling, to remember all the times she's
seen Dick do just that, and that's even *worse*. And
worse still because Dick had never held the pressure
on that long.
The audio picks up a brief, breathy exhale that the
Batgirl part of her mind immediately translates as a
sigh, and Barbara swallows.
She shifts her attention back to his face, but it's much
harder to read than his voice. Which doesn't surprise
her as much as the sudden, visceral frustration.
There's a mild sort of distress in the furrow of what
she can see of his brow, and his lips are parted again.
Barbara swallows again, this time against the pound of
her heart, and can't decide if she wants him to say
anything or not. A name, a clue.
The suspicions she has are bad enough.
Confirmation of most of them would hurt her mind.
She hears herself breathe when he closes his mouth
again, and hears herself stop when his shoulder starts
flexing. Stroking himself. He's...
He's a handsome man, and always has been. But it's
always been far more of a matter of aesthetics than
attraction. When she was a young enough to have a
crush, it wasn't for anyone whose face she could see.
But, if she could've seen him like this...
He's stroking himself so *slowly*, and the look on his
face is as mild as the motion of his hand and arm, but
she can see him, and he is desperately hard. She
knows herself, and her types, and her issues. If she
could've seen him like this some time when she'd been
younger and more careless, less likely to *think*
before she acted... well, whatever else happened, it
would've been embarrassing.
Her younger self is grateful to be spared. Or should
She wishes the suit were off. Just the top of it. And it
isn't as though she *hasn't* seen his chest countless
times, enough to be able to put a name and date to
more of his scars than not, but this is different.
She wants to see how he breathes when he's this
aroused. She wants --
Barbara blinks herself back *to* herself when she
realizes exactly what she's doing: wishing for a clearer
picture so that she can manipulate it for future... use.
The part of her that's Oracle wants her to focus on
that, on what it *means*, because an active fantasy
life is one thing -- a *useful* thing, even -- but one
that includes Bruce?
"The definition of unhealthy," she mutters to herself,
and pulls her robe around herself a little tighter,
because it's cold.
No, because, *she's* cold. Specifically... her thighs.
She closes her eyes, and manages to keep them that
way even when the audio starts picking up the slick
(he's leaking, he's hard and) slide of flesh on flesh.
It would be easier if she wasn't used to this. If part
of her mind wasn't cataloguing the wetness of her
thighs in terms of the simple, rough equation of
wetness to probable time aroused, with an eye toward
the time of the month as well as toward the last time
she had... indulged.
Though the last factor is laughable. Nothing in *that*
drawer has ever had time to gather dust.
Bruce gasps and her eyes snap open again without
her permission. She'd like to tell herself it's just
because she's been trained to react to a sound like
that with vigilance, if not active alarm, but the only
thing she's alarmed by is herself.
Bruce is... attractive. Bruce *is* attractive, and denial
doesn't get anyone anywhere. And right now, like this,
with the comforting distance of a monitor and the
miles between her tower and the Cave... she can
admit that he's sexy, too.
A big, densely muscled man, rock hard with need (for
what? Whom?) and exquisitely -- if not perfectly --
controlled. There's something...
She hears herself breathing shallowly, even more than
she can feel it. There isn't *something*. She knows
exactly what she sees in this, what she *wants* in this,
in *him*, and it's exactly... this. The tightness of his
jaw, familiar in every way except for vision, because
she's never really gotten to see it *that* way with the
whole of his face. The flex and release of muscle, and
the way she knows that the tension is never *quite*
Barbara remembers this from before, a mixture of
intellect and sense -- and frustration. In the old days,
being this wet meant there wasn't enough friction to
give her what she needed. That isn't an issue
anymore, and she can't decide whether the smile on
her face is appropriate or not. It doesn't really
She can smell herself, that first hot rush of musk and
sweat that makes her feel obvious and exposed, as
well as just... hot. Her sleep-shirt is too soft and
smooth on her nipples, and she wants to know what
Bruce is doing with his other hand. It's easy -- too
easy -- to imagine it on her skin, to take the sense
memory of hard calluses and *strength* and transfer
it from her hands and shoulders to her breasts and --
She can see it, just like that. What her hands would
look like surrounding one of Bruce's own as she
dragged it to her breast and --
It's easy to say, easier than it would ever be for
anyone likely to wind up here, anyone she'd *let* see
her when she's this raw.
Easy for *Bruce*, and not just because he never
Because if he was... there aren't any words for it.
There are barely images, and certainly none more
compelling than the one on-screen. Bruce, stroking
faster, finally, *finally*, and she feels herself
flushing harder at the realization that she *was*
waiting for it.
She's not bothering to match his rhythm, or even
try -- she *knows* what she needs right now -- but
there's a tightness in her jaw keyed to Bruce's
ruthlessness with himself, painful and sweet. Torturous
when his other hand *does* come into view,
reaching for whatever's (whoever's) on his own
monitor. Straining forward makes her slip, makes her
lose her own, rolling rhythm of pressure and heat and
gain a familiar, throat-tightening desperation that
comes out as a growl.
The first time Dick held her shoulders down as he
rocked inside her, and how she'd wound up focusing
on the helpless snarl of his mouth because the needful,
half-awed fear in his eyes was just too much, too
*deep* for her to do anything but push him away.
She hadn't wanted to do that again.
Whatever's in Bruce's eyes is lost to the camera, or
maybe to the brightening sunlight on her own monitor.
It can be anything she wants it to be, from a
hypothetically blank anger that makes her stomach
clench to the simple, thoughtless *hunger* that won't
let her wait anymore. She takes her other hand off the
desk and slides it up and under her sleep-shirt, hissing
between her teeth at the feel of her fingernail on her
It's long past time for a manicure, or at least to dig
her nail file out from under whatever stack of computer
equipment it is *this* time, but right now she's glad for
it. It's nothing like what she'd expect to feel from
Bruce's hands, which is both unfortunate and much,
Every scratch is sudden, jarring, and her thighs are
even wetter now. She watches Bruce drag his own
blunt thumbnail up the shaft of his penis -- his *dick* --
and bites her lip to hold back a moan. She isn't giving
her nipple a fraction as much of the pressure Bruce is
using, and it's still too much.
This, at least, is *exactly* like she'd imagined in the
days she'd driven herself quietly and rapidly insane in
her narrow, teenaged-girl bed at the thought of hard
hands pressing her against a wall, or into the grit of a
rooftop. Too hard, too fast, and too *much*, because
wouldn't it have to be?
With Batman, in any event.
And the real taboo, the real *obscenity* of this
moment isn't her slick fingers or her sweat-damp
It's the fact that it's Bruce, naked and exposed as he's
ever been or is ever likely to be. Clear and accessible
and vulnerably open for whoever's on that screen. No
supervillain with their hand on the cowl has ever,
*could* ever feel anything like this.
Bruce tenses, *flexes* all over, and Barbara bites back
a groan, feeling something like a spiraling throb from
her nipples to the teasing fade below her waist. At
times like these, it gets lost not so much in the
numbness as in the prickle of not-feeling -- which is
something she's learned to use.
Bruce *doesn't* come, but she wants to. *God*, she
wants to, and she slips her fingers out of her hopeless
panties and into her mouth, eyes rolling back a little
at the powerfully familiar taste of herself and snapping
back into focus because Bruce is thrusting into his own
fist, *fucking* his fist, and it's too much not to catch
She slides her fingers deeper, just far enough for her
throat to warn about her gag reflex, and out again.
Bruce sets a hard pace, and Barbara tightens her lips
around her fingers and groans, loving the entirely
different numbness of her lips and the pressure on
her tongue. She *wants* this, and the viciously
contained snap of Bruce's hips is *just* right.
She switches to her other nipple and twists hard,
once for every back-thrust, and her fingers don't
taste like anything but spit anymore, but the *smell*
is almost right. That underlying scent of sex that
doesn't have anything to do with male or female,
that could be anything, everything --
She groans around her fingers and comes, stomach
clenching hard and sex humming somewhere
beneath the numbness and the prickle.
Barbara whimpers around her fingers and bites down,
just because she can.
When she focuses again, Bruce is still pumping into
his own fist, other hand just visible as fingers
clenched hard on the desktop. And it's... embarrassing
in another way. Not a *different* way, per se, or
even a new way.
It's pornography, and while she has a healthy
appreciation for the genre in general and quite a few
of its sub-genres...
The best of it is always, always the worst of it when
she's actually satisfied, and re-settled within her own
faintly sweaty skin.
And it's Bruce.
She smiles ruefully to herself and shuts off the feed,
wheeling toward the bathroom to wash her hands.
She loses herself a little in the running water and the
bland, clean brightness of the room itself.
There's a choice she doesn't think other people --
normal people -- have. Or... if they do, it probably isn't
one they have to make, or even think about making,
as often as she does. Essentially, how much is she
really going to think about this?
On the one hand, it would probably be healthier to
give it a large amount of ruthlessly *thorough* analysis.
Short of violent, sudden death -- always a possibility --
she's going to be working with Bruce for the foreseeable
future and beyond.
On the other hand, there's a comfortable slot in her
mind where this... incident is already half-at rest, just
waiting for her to give it one last shove and shut the
door. Every last one of them has their own vault for
things like these, and she can even guess what most
of them look like.
Bruce's, after all, is almost certainly a vast and
reaching graveyard, headstones labeled neatly with
the names and concepts that just won't fit within his
splintered little life.
Barbara believes most people have a middle ground,
but it's entirely possible that she's being optimistic.
She shuts the water off and heads into the kitchen,
fixing herself a bowl of cereal before wheeling back to
The first monitor she looks at has a dialog box asking
her if she wants to download the list of recently-viewed
files for system two-A.
She'd forgotten about that.
And... 'no.' In the end, she *doesn't* really want to
Which is a clear enough answer about which option
she'll be choosing about the rest, as well.
She slips on the headset and tunes to the GCPD band,
and starts planning her day.