Disclaimers: Not even close to mine.
Spoilers/Timeline: Many references to older storylines.
We're right in the middle of Bruce's unfortunate lower back
Summary: Batman, Robin, and Superman? *Really*?
Ratings Note: Sexual content which does and doesn't
dovetail neatly with the content some readers may find
Author's Note: Technically a sequel to The
silence and heat (extra crispy version), but I've been told
that it could actually be read as something *close* to a
standalone. Third in the Any More Perfection series. More
notes at the end.
Acknowledgments: To Petra, Betty, and Jack for audiencing
and many helpful suggestions. By which I mean that this is
Petra's fault nearly entirely, and that Jack and Betty didn't
discourage me vigorously enough.
It's happening much too fast.
Alfred on the phone and ridiculous news, *impossible* news.
He's standing in the Cave trying to wrap his brain around
the image of that childish, monstrous snake up on the
He's trying to deal with the fact that *Bruce* had his *back*
broken sometime between the last time he'd informed Dick
that, no, he *didn't* need any help in Gotham and *now*,
when he knows he's supposed to be dealing with the image
of Alfred and the strange, quiet boy in the Robin suit
hacking and stitching and *changing* a Batsuit into
something that'll at least *look* like it belongs on his frame.
Bruce isn't *here*, and hasn't been since God knows when,
"Alfred, I --"
"Sir, I understand, but all of this will go much faster if you
were to lend a hand."
Dick hears his teeth click shut in the silence of the Cave,
and even though Bruce is nowhere around, it's the same
as it ever is -- shameful and obvious and needy.
He's supposed to be dealing with something that's going to
happen a few *hours* from now.
He's already late.
Dick nods, letting his hair try and fail to hide the flush on
his face, and strips down for the measuring tape.
It's almost funny, he thinks, and gives over a piece of his
mind just for a second -- one fucking *second* -- to the
image of Roy, and the way he'd laugh about this. He'd just --
He'd *have* to.
And there's a part of him holding onto Roy like a lifeline, but
it's not the part of him screaming that he's going to
*suffocate*, scream, die in this cowl, that anyone with half
an eye could see that the boots are all wrong, that he's
rattling in the armor like a marble, like a kid.
And it's not the part that can't decide whether or not it's
freaked that Tim -- that *Robin* has his back, that he's
going to look back over his shoulder and see a smirk, a
bloody green gauntlet, a *smirk* --
That he's not seeing anything of the kind.
The cowl hides the bruise that's been faded off his cheek for
nearly two years now, and everyone is calling *him*
Batman, and the sweaty mass of hair between the back of
his cowl and his neck is invisible to everyone not Robin.
Nobody else in this alley -- except for the kid -- knows that
Bruce can't kick that high without injuring something
Nobody in this alley except him knows that the boy is all
wrong when he sweeps under Dick's leg with the staff and
takes down the asshole aiming for Dick's neck with a knife,
that the kid is an impostor, an alien --
"Robin, *down*," he shouts in a voice that used to make
Roy laugh a *lot*, and his nerve-strike is all Nightwing as
he takes the *other* guy with a gun, but he remembers to
make his next blow a crippling little right-cross that makes
the kid he used to be whoop from being so damned
*impressed* and gives the boy crouched at his feet time to
drop even further and swing into a low-kick that makes the
guy *behind* Dick hit the alley wall back *there* head-first.
Everyone is down, except for them once the kid gets back
to his feet. He hadn't even needed to pull that sweet little
staff of his, and --
Escrima sticks don't project the image Batman needs to. Not
"We need to practice. Together. More," the kid says, making
English sound like the second language of someone with
the kind of social anxiety Arkham *used* to treat, before
things got hairy in the world of Gothamite abnormal
It makes the kid wince, but God knows he had to be used to
getting slapped down for sloppiness from --
Batman kicks, Robin sweeps, Robin punches, Batman spins.
That's the way it *is* when it's three against the two of
them, against *Batman and Robin*, when it's three but
fewer than three guns, when they're both at the top of the
game, the beginning of the night.
Except that Dick hadn't left room for the Robin punches. He
"Shit," he says, and the kid winces *again*. Right. Fuck --
right. Dick grabs the kid, Tim, Robin god help them fucking
*all*, by the shoulders. "For just a minute, there, I forgot
that B -- that we were trained by the same guy, to do the
When Jason had looked at him with the domino on,
sometimes it'd been all Dick could do *not* to see the
anger or the amusement or the -- fucking *smirk* that the
domino should've been hiding, but really couldn't. Not with
someone like Jason Todd.
With Tim, now...
He doesn't know what he's seeing at all, not really.
And when the kid nods at him, it's not really a relief.
They do better the rest of the night, anyway.
'Better' is something... 'better' is something that's making
Dick really grateful for the fact that, despite everything,
there's nothing really wrong with the Cave's showers.
Moving like Bruce out there had made the kid look like
something out of a surreal nightmare Dick had never,
actually, had -- perfect and sleek and dangerous.
Moving like Bruce had made Commissioner Gordon only
narrow his eyes a little bit when the signal had come on,
made him shake his head in such an obvious 'I'm seeing
things' move that Dick's *knees* had felt watery.
His knees are better now, but the rest of him really isn't. He
feels like --
He feels *exactly* like he'd spent six long hours pretending
to be someone else while the person he was supposed to
be had his back, and his sides when he needed it -- no.
That's not who he's --
Alfred's down for the night, or maybe already gone after
Bruce -- who can tell, these days? -- when they pull in, and
the only sign he's been there is a Batsuit Dick can tell by
*looking* will fit perfectly tomorrow night, and the night
after that, and the night after that.
The boy strips down without a word, leaving everything but
the belt in the hamper. Dick watches him walk to the
worktable with -- he notices, belatedly -- the Tim-sized chair
at the exact center of it, dressed in the kind of briefs he
hasn't wanted to be caught dead in since he was *younger*
than the kid and nothing else.
No, the scars.
There's always the scars.
Dick doesn't know where any of them have come from, at
He watches the boy checking and restocking the belt,
checking the traps on the thing that Jason probably
would've triggered by accident three nights out of every ten
and would've loved beyond words *anyway*.
Dick watches --
"Tim," he says, hoping like hell he knows what comes after
it. He doesn't.
The boy looks up, blank and calm and easy, like it's going
to be nothing to get up, dress in something innocuous, and
walk through that damned *tunnel* into his civilian life --
no. There's no one at the kid's *house*. He's... semi-official
guardian now. Or something.
Dick doesn't stare at his own hands, and he doesn't...
Dammit, Clark had *said* he liked the kid. That they'd
found... common *ground* or something like that. *Clark*
had said that, which meant it was true, and that... God,
Dick doesn't *know*.
"Dick...? Is there... should I go?"
And that's... well, that's something. He doesn't sound like
Robin at all. Dick peels -- tears, some -- the tie out of his
hair and laughs, shaking out all the sweaty weight and
wondering how long it'll be before Alfred will have to
save him from hacking at it with a machete or
Alfred isn't here.
He resists the urge to tug at the tangles with his hands -- he
*knows* he'll just make it worse if he doesn't wash it first --
and plants his palms against the neat and spare surface of
Tim's table, instead. "So how often does Bruce chase you
away by being an ass?"
"I -- Dick."
It's something else Roy -- and probably Wally, too, at this
point -- would laugh at, he thinks: the way the kid is looking
down at the table and *blushing* makes Dick feel like
he'd just... belched at a funeral or something. Which is
absolutely ridiculous and making *him* smile --
Until he remembers the nasty cracked snake of Bruce's
spine. Jesus. Fuck.
"He's gonna get better, Tim, I -- God, I'm sorry."
"I -- of course he is," Tim says, and somehow the tone in
his voice is a lot closer to reassuring than the one Dick
hears in his own, even though the kid can't quite keep
himself from glancing at the Case. God. Something.
*Something*. "Clark told me -- he told me the two of you
rebuilt the Case yourselves."
Tim looks at the table again. "It's not. I didn't realize the
glass was wrong until Clark had already started... the seams
are melted together. It's actually -- it was very neat work,
of course. So I didn't. Say."
Dick smiles ruefully. "If I hadn't seen the thing so often
Tim nods quickly, still staring down. "Bruce will notice it
immediately, of course. I just. We couldn't."
"I know," Dick says, and sits on the corner of the table. "I
mean, I understand. Just -- every time I look at it, I think
Jason would've been creeped out beyond *belief*."
Tim looks up and down again so quickly Dick barely catches
the smile on the kid's face.
"Clark mentioned. Something like that. About Jason, I
Common ground, okay. Sure. "Clark's great. I don't know..."
Dick shakes his head. "I don't know what I would've done
without him after Bruce fired me."
"Bruce -- he. I didn't know that. Um."
Damn. Just -- damn. The thing is, Dick had known Tim
hadn't known that. All it took was a little *thinking* about
it, and how even the world's tiniest super-stalker couldn't
have *ever* made it into the Cave, or even been able to
*eavesdrop*. Dick hadn't done much thinking until after
he'd -- fled Gotham after the *last* fucking Two-Face
After he'd done everything short of wrapping the kid up
with a *bow* for Bruce.
"Yeah, I -- in retrospect, I guess I..." Dick laughs and gives
up and scrubs his hands through his hair. The right one
gets caught, of course, and he yanks a few more strands
loose getting it out. "I -- let's not talk about that tonight, k?"
The response he gets is a solemn nod, and -- and Dick
hadn't realized that Tim *hadn't* turned back to the table
again. He'd just been... looking.
"You're really good at that, aren't you? Watching?"
This time, it's less of a response than a swallow.
Dick tries for something like rueful with his smile, but he
kinda thinks he misses it by a mile. "Clark told me... what
Bruce made you do."
"He... did. He did?"
"Well, he's my --" Other best friend? Not for a long time.
Not... "He's one of my closest *friends*, kid."
"I -- of course. I knew that, I mean. Dick, I..." *This*
swallow is visible *and* audible, and Dick isn't really sure
he *wants* to know what he's getting out of watching it,
*hearing* it, but it's.
Well, it's reassuring. It's what. It's something he needed to
know, he thinks. Or close to it. "Look, kid..."
"Clark *also* told me the two of you had... worked it out.
He likes you. That's... I just wanted you to know that that's
*more* than good enough for me."
Even though he doesn't think he's ever going to know what
he's supposed to do with those long, silent *looks* of Tim's.
He laughs at himself and ruffles the kid's hair instead of
trying to say anything else.
"So... planning on telling me what's going on, Clark? I
mean..." Dick laughs, and lets himself fall back against the
roof of the manor.
When he was younger, he'd always wait a little while after
climbing up here to call Clark, time enough to at least give
Clark room to *pretend* that the color he could see on
Dick's cheeks was windburn instead of the blush.
When he was younger than *that*, of course, he hadn't
been blushing at all. This, all of this -- the trees and the
lights and the distance and the cold and perfect roof under
his hands or his feet had all been his. Some place to be
alone, and pretend, because pretending was allowed --
"Sorry about that, Dick. There was a really terrible fire in
Dick winces in sympathy. "Were you able to...?" He doesn't
finish because he doesn't have to. Clark hasn't joined him
on the roof, yet, even though they both know that Dick
can smell the smoke and other things on his uniform.
"Not everyone, no. There are certain governments which
choose to see me as more American than anything..." Clark
stares at his smudged and dirty hands, shakes his head,
It's too fast to see, of course. It's just that one moment,
Clark was there in front of him looking precisely like
Superman in the wake of a bad fire, and the next moment
he's... right there in front of him, clean and...
Dick inhales deeply. Ozone.
Clark's smile doesn't quite make it to rueful. "Do you ever
think... do you ever find yourself wondering *why* we let
such terribly small people make the rules for everyone
It's not that Bruce had really been *communicating* with
him all that much since he got the ax, but there was always
a *line* open. For emergencies, of course. And Dick knows
exactly why he was still on the list that got alerts about
Superman -- about *Clark* -- Dick frowns. "Bruce... he
made sure to let me know about that thing in Medjugorje."
Clark's smile doesn't have much humor, and is a little
private besides. "Of course he did."
"Clark, I --"
"It's all right, Dick. He's -- I understand his concerns.
Certainly, he shares them with Lois."
"I wasn't --"
"It's just that sometimes..." And Clark's sigh is heartfelt
and, Dick knows, *important*.
It's just that it's the best possible opportunity to balance
(and kind of, a little, *grip*, even though it doesn't really
work that way) with his toes and *reach* for Clark --
"*Dick*, be careful --"
And be reached for, and then Clark's on the roof and holding
"Dick, I know that you -- that your skills are --"
"Shut up and hug, okay?"
Clark laughs, and it's almost the same as ever. It's quiet
and considerate and shakes Dick against Clark's body,
pulling them even closer. Of course it's just that Clark is
holding him tighter, but it *feels* like it's the laugh.
"I *understand*, Clark. I just -- I never would've been
able -- if I'd known about those poor *people* --"
"I know -- I know all the time, Dick."
Dick squeezes his eyes shut and hugs tighter and --
And maybe it's a little ridiculous to hug Clark with his legs,
too -- he's *not* thirteen anymore, and the whole world
wants him to know *that* -- but he does it, anyway.
It makes Clark sigh and kiss him, right where Dick's temple
meets his hairline, and nothing feels ridiculous when Clark
is kissing you. Nothing ever *can*.
"Most of the time... most of the time it seemed okay, or
even normal that you worked *alone*. But sometimes it
made... God, Clark. Sometimes it was like having a lump in
my throat, a *physical* one, and I couldn't even breathe
around it --"
"Dick, please, it's --"
"You shouldn't ever be alone, Clark. And you're *not*.
You've got me. And --" Dick laughs against that broad,
perfect, ozone-and-sunshine smelling chest. "That reminds
me, actually. What I wanted to talk to you about. *Who*."
Clark strokes Dick's hair with one big, warm hand and his
back with the other. "How *is* it between you and Tim?"
he asks, and his breath is warm against Dick's forehead
and his voice is just -- so full of *concern*.
Dick shifts -- wriggling is how it would feel with *Bruce*,
but Clark has never been Batman -- and drops back down
to his feet again, and bangs his head against Clark's chest.
"I just -- I need you to fill in a few *blanks* for me, Clark."
Blanks like Tim's *expressions*. Jesus.
"Of course --"
"Just -- how did this *happen*? I mean, B -- Oracle had
just *told* me that Bruce had brought him some... some
random *guy* to take over for him, and I still don't even
Clark pulls him in again, *lifts* him again, and this time
they're actually flying above the manor, and Dick doesn't --
"Clark, wait, no --"
And most of that no is around Clark's *tongue*, and he
can't -- there's no way to fight against that, even though
Dick *knows* it has way too much to do with Clark fighting
down everything Dick still can't *deal* with about Bruce,
and it's not fair, and Bruce doesn't *deserve* --
Clark's hand in his hair is actually too rough for a moment,
or not -- it's too rough for *Clark*, but it can't really --
It's not too rough for Dick, except for how it makes his hips
pump in helpless (*Kory*) reflex, how it makes him tilt his
head back and the kiss gets deeper, stronger, *more*, and
It's too *fast* --
"Clark -- Clark, God, I -- not *now* --"
And maybe it's better to have 'now' get swallowed than 'no,'
but Dick doesn't know and his hips don't *care*, and Dick
can't tell which direction they're flying in -- it feels like
they're flying *lower*, but that doesn't make any *sense* --
The shadows are strange and Clark's teeth are this
incredibly gentle *lie* on Dick's lower lip --
He's making love to Superman, and he might as well *be*
thirteen again, because his skin is flushed and he can smell
his own sweat over all the ozone and *power*, and Dick
thinks he can feel brickwork against his back, but it only
lasts for a moment before there's nothing --
Before there's the *sky* and *Clark* -- Superman,
Superman, God, since he was *little* --
And Dick hears himself moan, and he has no idea why it
sounds so clear and loud until he opens his eyes and
realizes that Clark's broken the kiss again.
"Are you sure, Dick?"
"Of -- of *what*?"
And Clark laughs, and Dick laughs, too, and shivers because
the laugh makes it feel like they're sharing the same skin,
this time, and laughs again at the feel of the brick --
Clark's pressing him *against* the manor, God, somewhere
near the bedrooms, maybe...?
He can't tell, because his legs are around Clark again,
because he's bruising his knees on Clark's obliques and his
ass against Clark's hands --
He's laughing and Clark *thrusts*, and Dick doesn't say "oh,
*Superman*," but only because he has a lot more control
than he did when he was thirteen, and that means he can
thrust right *back* --
"Yes, God -- yes, *yes* --"
"*Dick*," Clark says, and the only reason the thrusts aren't
*moving* him is because Superman's holding him so close,
so tight and warm and *perfect* --
"Don't stop, please don't stop --"
"Never," he says, and Dick throws his head back and groans.
Superman never lies.
The last time he and Roy had --
Well, *every* time he and Roy had, Roy had made a mostly
unfunny joke about how one of them should be a smoker,
and then Dick had thumped him, and they'd roll around
and then they'd --
With (Superman) Clark, it's never like that, of course.
Right now, Dick's being cradled just like it was never --
*could* never be -- even a little shameful for Dick to want
it that way, under the big tree whose branches never
*quite* scraped Dick's old bedroom window.
It also doesn't quite scrape *Tim's* bedroom window, and
Dick jerks in Clark's arms and feels himself relaxing again
before he really registers Clark's squeeze.
"That's --" Dick sighs. "That's the other thing. God, Bruce
left a *note* that he was *also* taking care of Tim's father,
even though he's -- God, Clark, is Bruce going to be okay?"
"Yes," Clark says.
Just -- "Just like that? No -- little careful reassurances?" Dick
laughs, and he knows it's the laugh Clark hates, and he
also knows it's the laugh that gets him held even tighter
and he can't care. "Clark --"
"I've been... I've been listening *enough*, Dick. Dr.
Kinsolving has been very confident about Bruce's chances,
and her record is, of course, impeccable. She's known as
something of a miracle worker, truly."
Dick exhales, and doesn't really think about -- that
*listening*. Thank God for it, really, but -- But. "I don't
suppose you can also hear where Tim's *father's* wound
"Sadly, no," Clark says, "but I also have faith in *Bruce*."
"And I -- okay, there's just -- there's too much *here* --"
"Wait, wait, just let me..." He doesn't really know what he
wants Clark to let him do, but it involves shifting until he
can at least *look* at Clark, straddling those incredible
(Bruce -- no) thighs and holding on to his shoulders.
It's strange and *not* that Dick's hands are bare, that he's
still mostly-dressed in *civilian* clothes.
"*Blanks*, Clark. Fill in the *blanks*."
"Of course, Dick --"
"Who *was* that guy Bruce appointed to -- *where* is he?"
"Jean-Paul Valley. From what I've been able to find out, his
training was both admirable and terrible. He's -- he's a very
troubled young man, Dick," and Clark's voice is solemn and
serious. "I'm afraid Bruce must've chosen him at a terrible
"Well, I -- wait. Did he -- did he *do* something?"
For a moment, Clark doesn't really look like himself, at all.
Not -- not *anything* like himself.
"He didn't get the... opportunity to injure Tim. But there's
no doubt he would've tried."
"Oh -- *Jesus*, Clark! Tim didn't say -- *anything*, is he --"
"Tim was quite all right. It certainly helped that Alfred
hadn't yet left to help Bruce with his own mission -- they
needed you, Dick."
"I -- of course," Dick says, and it's even worse that he's in
civilian clothes, now. "You should --"
"Wait, please," Clark says, and pulls him close again.
Dick hadn't realized he'd gotten so far away. "Clark, I need
"You need to sleep, and then work on strategies -- yes, I
understand *enough*, I think, but... you *did* want
answers to your questions, right?"
*Blanks*, yes, and Dick isn't sure whether to laugh at
himself or try to convince Clark to let him beat himself
unconscious on one of those shoulders. "Right, I... right. So
is that how you and Tim -- no. You two had worked it out
before then, right?"
Clark nods. "He's really quite a remarkable young man,
Dick. I hope -- I hope it isn't too terrible to say that I've
*been* hoping that the two of you can use this tragedy to
grow closer, yourselves."
Dick gives up and just lets his head *fall* against Clark's --
consciously paralyzed, of course -- shoulder. "I can go
with remarkable. God, you should've seen him out there
tonight. So *polished*."
Clark makes a kind of noncommittal noise.
"*Really*, it kind of -- threw me."
Clark's laugh is low and *moving*, in every way. Like always.
"Of course, *you* haven't had the opportunities *I've* had
to see that... professionalism, in action."
Professionalism. God. Professional little -- *spy* -- "*Jesus*,
I'm -- never getting over that."
"No, *really*, Clark --"
"Perhaps you should try to think of it this way: without it, I
almost certainly wouldn't have had the chance to grow
close to him so soon."
Which is -- true. *Awful*, but true. "And you are. Close to
And it's not that this laugh is *private* so much as it's...
different. Not wrong, so much as...
He isn't sure -- it's too dark for *him* to see -- until he
reaches for it, and Clark's mouth against his fingers just
makes him --
Clark's mouth against his hip, Superman's mouth *moving*,
low on his belly, whispering things --
"Oh. *Oh*. Clark, you and -- Tim?"
Clark kisses Dick's fingers, and lets his teeth scrape against
the pads, and Dick shivers and *sees* it, all at once. Wide
and *cold* blue eyes, and --
"Wow. I. That would explain why the *one* time I saw him
smile tonight I was talking about *you*..."
Dick snorts, and thumps Clark on the shoulder.
It's still nothing like Roy.
He wakes up, fast and *complete*, but not really tense, and
so it takes a moment to figure out *why*. The manor is
quiet, and they've done enough repairs (Tim and *Clark* --!)
that the Cave isn't pulling on him painfully anymore, and --
The kid's nowhere around, nowhere Dick can *feel*, anyway,
but -- yeah. It's seven oh three in the morning, and
*someone* has to get the kid to school, unless, of course,
he'd spent the night building himself a Tim-sized teleporter
Dick snorts to himself, scrubs a hand over his face, misses
Alfred so much he nearly whimpers, misses *Bruce* --
Dick gets up and doesn't shower so much as let the water
and soap smack him around a little as he walks by, and
dresses on his way into Tim's room --
He stops, listens, tries to reach with every half-rational
sense he was never sure whether Bruce wanted him to use
or not --
It's not that he *hears* anything, but he can still sort of
*feel* Tim downstairs, and that would put him -- *almost*
certainly -- in the kitchen.
It turns out he's right, and that -- and he can tell this from
just beyond the *study* -- he's somehow both found
Alfred's cache of wonderfully strong coffee and is brewing
Alfred hadn't let *him* drink coffee until he was sixteen, but
maybe -- he doesn't know.
"There you are," Dick says, because it's better than "God,
who *are* you?"
There is no way that watching Tim actually jump a little into
the *air* is any definition of better.
"Easy," Dick says, gripping Tim's shoulders and -- yeah.
He's gotta lean over him a little, enough to breathe *in*
that coffee smell. "God, that's wonderful."
"I -- I didn't sleep. Well. Last night. And I thought -- I made
enough for you. Just in case. Oh. Did I wake you?"
And the kid is craning his neck a little, making his over-
spiked -- what is with that *hair*? -- 'do scratch a little at
"I'm sorry --"
Dick squeezes Tim's shoulders. "Easy, it was my internal
alarm. How *were* you planning to get to school,
"Oh, I -- there's a bike. I'm not really supposed to use it
during the day, but there's a place only about a mile away
from my school where I can hide it."
Of course there is. "*Or* I could drive you," Dick says,
reaching up to the cabinets above them to snag the mug
that's been his since the days when the only things that
ever went in it were cocoa and lightly drugged tea. "You
actually *have* that option, you know, kid."
The tension under Dick's hands is obvious and way too
hard for daylight.
"I just. I didn't want to wake you... Dick."
He'd lay money that that wasn't the name the kid was about
to use, daylight or no daylight. Dick sets the mug down on
the counter and wraps the arm around the kid's chest,
He's never hugged him before.
"I -- I'm gonna need you pretty much as soon as you're out
of school. I'll be waiting for you, k?"
"Yes, of course --"
"And we're going to spar together until we *know* our
moves at least a little -- Christ, I should've been training
with you since the word *go* --"
"Dick, it's --"
"And it's not okay, and we don't really have *time* to fix
that properly, which is where I get to my point."
"O -- okay?"
"We *also* don't have time to just -- get to know *each
other*, but I'd like to pretend we do. Or that we had. Or --
The hand on Dick's forearm is almost ludicrously small
without the gauntlet waiting for it in the Cave. "I can -- I
mean. What should I do?"
Dick ducks his head until he can crack a few of the hair-
spines with his chin. "First lesson -- are you listening?"
"I -- yes, I am --"
"The first lesson," Dick says, and squeezes a little harder,
much harder than has any place anywhere Clark isn't, "is
that this *isn't* training."
And really, if Tim hadn't realized that that was a *warning* --
well, that's not *his* problem.
Tickling him is nothing like tickling Jason, though, to be
fair, Jason hadn't done *anything* like anyone else in
Dick's life. The laughter is so tensely quiet that they might
as well be in a library, the motions -- the attempts to get
*away* are quick and jerky and professional (Tim and
*Clark* --?) and, of course, not even remotely useful.
"D -- Dick, I -- I have to get to *school* --"
"It's okay, kiddo -- I drive *fast*."
They'd left late enough in the morning that they'd *had* to
take the bike -- Dick's, because even Tim's bike is sized
The looks the kid had gotten from his classmates...
They would've been a lot *better* to see -- he can *deal*
with being the cool 'older brother' a lot easier than he can
deal with a lot of other things -- if the suit waiting for him
back in the Cave --
If it was different.
It isn't, and that's reason enough to come back *after*
school with the Benz, which is at least small enough that it
doesn't make him feel like he's breaking inside to drive it.
It fits right in with the other yuppie-mobiles pulling up,
especially once he remembers that the sunglasses make
him look more obvious than just having his face bare.
Tim's lips are barely moving, and the smile is (Bruce) all in
his eyes. Dick snorts, ruffles Tim's hair, and then opens the
passenger door with all the flourish he can. It makes Tim
duck his head, but since Dick is still bent at the waist, he
can see the smile spreading over all that blank.
And that's --
He can work with that.
They've been half-sparring, half-just-*moving* for almost
two hours, and Dick's actually starting to feel a little
relaxed when he realizes that Tim hasn't been using the
"*Jesus*, kid --"
It's not a thought -- it's not even close to thought. It's just
a spin, and --
The hardest thing Bruce ever taught him *wasn't*, actually,
how to never pull his shots with Bruce himself, but it had
felt like it for years. He'd never done this -- *that* particular
attack, not on anyone, but he's known it from his dreams
since he was younger than Tim, and it comes right out,
down and vicious and perfect, and he has just enough time
to wonder if the blow's going to hit the kid so hard Dick
won't be able to take him *out* tonight --
And Tim catches it with the staff.
As soon as the feeling -- and it'll *be* pain -- comes back in
his hand, he'll be grateful for it. Dick grunts a laugh to
himself, shakes his head, and flexes his fingers. "Good
"Good training... Batman."
It's a smile Dick wants to put a mask on, if only because it's
one Dick can't imagine using with -- family. Right.
Dick cocks his head, watches Tim watch him, and offers
his -- good -- hand, palm up.
And watches Tim tighten his grip on the staff.
"Is it enough for me to say that I'm pretty sure Bruce gave
you the lessons on 'misplaced trust,' too?"
*That* gets a blush out of the kid. "Sorry, I --"
"It's all right," Dick says, and plucks the staff out of the kid's
hands. "I've never used one of these..."
"I know. I mean. Bruce pointed out that your reach, at my
age, was... much better than my own."
"A question of flexibility..." Dick shakes his head. Not the
point. "Look, I just -- I need to know how you move *with*
the staff, kid. Knowing that you'll use it -- really *well* --
when you have to isn't enough."
"Oh... I just. You seemed more comfortable..."
("You *have* to let me help, Bruce! We're *partners*.")
Dick shakes it off and cups Tim's shoulders, curling his
not-as-sore-as-they-will-be fingers in deliberately.
"I mean. We need to be efficient, Dick, and I thought --"
"That it would be easier if you went with earlier Bruce
training protocols, as opposed to what you've *been* using
out there. I get it. But *I* can compensate for you, too.
And I'd rather have you at the top of your game --"
"By which I mean, I'm far less likely to terrify myself into a
*heart* attack if I know you're --"
"I -- I get it, Batman. Dick. I mean, I."
There's vertigo here, looking down into earnest blue eyes,
*determined* blue eyes, and there's a flush on Tim's
cheeks Dick can feel hiding or maybe *diving* behind his
own face, and, for the first time ever, Dick's praying for
one of *those* looks to steal over Tim's face, one of those
strange and deep and alien *looks*, because he doesn't
want to --
He doesn't know *what* he doesn't want, but there's
nothing stopping him from pulling Tim against himself, and
that has to be something.
Tim makes a muffled noise against Dick's chest, and, after
a moment, wraps his own arms around him.
It doesn't last long enough to feel entirely *right* before
his internal clock starts screaming again, though. They've
only got a few *hours* to get the basics down, and --
God, he needs to make sure Tim *eats*.
And that's -- something else they need to be better at. Alfred
*had* of course left full meals for them in the freezer, but it
would've been better for Dick to remember that earlier in
You can't really defrost moussaka in the microwave, so,
because he doesn't want Alfred to lose all respect for him --
and, more importantly, he doesn't want Alfred to stop
*making* it for him -- he doesn't try.
They'd finished off the milk in the fridge and downed a
couple of energy bars apiece before patrol, and now they're
having more -- of the energy bars, that is.
If he gives Robin back underweight, Bruce is going to kill
"Maybe Superman will show up with a casserole," he says,
mostly to himself, and it sounds like Tim is strangling on
the energy bar -- no.
That was a laugh.
Dick grins. "I remember one time he took me to this
incredible diner -- we were both in *uniform* -- and he'd
clearly taken every single one of us, you know, in the
community..." The grin turns into a blush. He remembers
*after* the diner, too. "Anyway, they had the best
"I -- yes. They really do. Have the best. Sandwiches," Tim
says, looking at him from over his energy bar, and Dick
wishes he could make up his mind.
He wants that mask off, *now*, because -- when? Still,
though... "There's nothing like being Superman's friend,
"I... can't argue with that assessment. At all," and the blush
spills out from under the kid's domino like a wound.
Dick laughs so hard he has to curl in on himself a little, and
not even the fact that if anyone sees it Batman's reputation
would be ruined *forever* will let him stop.
If he's being honest, it kind of makes it worse.
Though 'worse' means something different once Tim starts
making those choked little noises of high hilarity beside
him. God, of *course* the kid sounds like he's dying when
It's probably terrifying to listen to him having *sex* with
"Batman, Robin... I hope you don't mind, but I happened
And, of course, Clark is right there.
Dick covers the part of his face the cowl isn't. "Oh... God."
"Mrs. Miller is still very disappointed that you refuse to allow
her to put enough mayonnaise on your turkey and
muenster, Robin," Clark says, with a smile that's never, ever
belonged in Gotham. "And, of course, she sends her regards
to you, too."
"Superman," Dick starts, and there's surely something
Batman would say, here, but Batman probably doesn't need
the pastrami on rye as badly as he does, right now. He
reaches, instead, and watches Clark's smile get even wider,
and remembers trying and failing to separate the taste of
Clark's tongue from the taste of Clark's mother's chocolate
Once he has the sandwich, Tim reaches for his own.
"Thank you," Tim says, quietly, and --
"You are, of course, entirely welcome," Clark says in return,
and the only person who could blame him for getting hard
at the tone in the man's voice -- isn't here.
Dick shakes his head, grins at the smile Clark's sending at
the *kid*, and eats.
"If there's nothing else...?"
The wet sound turns out to be Tim licking the not-enough
mayo from his fingers with the neatness of a cat. And Tim
is looking at *him*...
Because he's Batman, and it's time to dismiss Superman.
Dick nods with what he suspects is a really *weak*
impression of authority. "No, thank you, Superman," he
says, in the voice --
The voice that makes Clark look at him, *look* at him, and
Dick has just enough time to wonder if the fact that Tim's
been having sex with the man, too, makes his reactions
more or less appropriate before Clark nods at him -- both
of them -- and flies.
They finish their sandwiches embarrassingly fast.
"Let's go ruin somebody's night," Dick says, and doesn't
smirk at the way Tim's adjusting himself when he stands --
the fact that no one would *see* it if they didn't know the
kid almost never wore the cape that way unless he was
both standing *and* trying to be invisible is pointless --
except for how Dick knows the smirk was in his voice, and
how he can *see* Tim hearing it.
And eyeing him from beneath his lashes, and, of course,
from beneath the domino. "Anything you say... Batman."
It probably shouldn't feel like a *relief* when Tim doesn't
bother to stop at the briefs when he strips down that night,
but it does. It's just...
It's just the way Batman and Robin should be, easy with
each other and their bodies. It's a message, almost, or
maybe it's just the Cave sighing in relief -- they're on
And maybe it doesn't matter that Dick knows -- Dick
*knows* -- that it has more to do with the fact that Clark
apparently has a *type* than it does with anything...
But that's not fair, either, and it's not right. With him moving
*mostly* like himself and Tim relaxing into being the Robin
Bruce had made him --
It had been better than it was the night before, and thus
better than either of them had the right to hope for.
And Dick wants to know where the scars on Tim's body are
from, and he wants to know if *Clark* knows, and he
wants to know if there are going to be new ones that he'll
know all about before Bruce comes back.
He watches Tim pause in front of the showers, and wonders
And knows, as soon as Tim turns around. Dick is standing
here in the *cowl*, watching, and Dick knows how those
stares feel from both sides, now.
He'd never, really, wanted to.
He shakes his head --
"Batman, I mean. I --"
That's *not* it, and it would've been nice if he could express
that in some way other than a -- *growl*, because Tim's
eyes are wide again and Dick feels like he's being
swallowed -- no. He doesn't have to. He doesn't --
He strips as he walks, yanking and tearing at the armor and
he's not, really, surprised when Tim comes back to meet
him, comes back to *help*. Because it's the one Batsuit
they have that fits perfectly as opposed to just adequately,
and because --
There isn't even surprise when Dick grabs his wrists and
shoves them back against the wall -- one against the
smooth and finished section leading into the shower, one
against blast scars that were old before *Dick* even got
He can feel every relevant muscle in his back and arms
when he pushes, in his chest when he spreads Tim's arms
a little further apart, in his neck as he bends, leans,
*wants* and kisses.
And he can feel Tim's hands spasm and jerk above Dick's
grip, and then the coherence fades. It's moving too fast,
and that's exactly what he *needs*.
Nothing ever moved too fast for Bruce, whether it did or
not. And Tim --
Tim kisses just like someone who's had time to get used to
being made love to by Superman, wide and open and easy,
relaxed everywhere Dick's touching because that's the best
way to brace, because it's the best way to *fall*.
"I don't know if I want you to *tell* me everything you've
done with Clark or if I just want to see if I can figure it
"You are a detective," Tim says, and Dick hadn't realized
he'd had time to form that theory, but he had --
Tim speaks English just fine when it comes to *this*.
Clark, Dick thinks, and grins more, and shakes his head and
takes another kiss, curling his hands into fists to protect
Tim's skin from the walls, and just to *do* it. He's so
And Tim's Robin, and he's straining against the grip and into
the kiss, and the best thing about knowing exactly what a
crap job he's done, so far, at taking over for Bruce is that
Dick can be pretty damned sure that none of *this* is for
anyone but himself.
He wants to ask Clark if this is what it's *like*, if this is why
he had to keep doing it --
("So, uh... is it *normal* for Superman to try to put the
moves on Robin, Big Bird? Because... that's one fuck of a
definition for 'normal,' right there, if it is.")
He lets go, just to *see*, and Tim's arms are around his
neck just like that, magic and -- he's not really strong
enough to just *leap* from this position -- nowhere near
enough leverage -- but it feels good to *help* the kid, to
To slip one hand under Tim's ass and lift until Tim's
wrapped around him like -- like he's -- like they're --
There aren't any *good* names for this, not really, which
is as good a reason as any to kiss Tim again, walk him into
the showers and against a better, smoother wall.
"I -- I suppose showering *could* be more efficient -- this
And it's a dilemma, of a sort, to see just how quickly he can
make Tim lose his coherence again -- certainly a more
challenging question than how to get the water on and
mostly right with Tim pressed against him -- Tim's holding
on with thighs Dick would've sworn were infinitely more
bone than muscle.
The water's still a little too cold when it hits Tim's skin, and,
he supposes, his own as well. Dick can't tell. He's too --
he's too *wired*, because watching Tim use his staff --
Because watching Tim eat Clark's *food* --
He presses Tim harder against the wall -- out of the spray
before the kid's hair gets wet enough to look like something
that belongs on a human boy -- and shifts his grip enough
to get a hand on his dick, to watch Tim gasp and choke
and cry out *high* --
It *is* terrifying to listen to, but, for all he knows right
*now*, it's not the same as what he gives to Clark.
And *watching* --
Tim's head thrown back, Tim's eyes squeezed shut, Tim's
hips pumping and *grinding* because they're still pressed
too close to let him really *move*, and Dick isn't going to
help with that anytime soon.
The strokes he's giving Tim would drive *him* crazy -- too
short, too rough and uneven and off-rhythm, but Tim's
digging his heels against Dick's thighs --
Tim's *trying* to dig his heels in, but the water's making it
too slick, and if Dick let go, Tim would hit the floor hard.
He can't --
It's not the kind of thing he can get *away* with, even
though this is, and the fact that he knows that trying to
parse that in his brain is going to make him need to curl in
on himself and scream -- if only in his own head --
tomorrow is irrelevant *enough*, right now.
He takes them down to the floor easy, not slow, and Tim
stretches out on his back and bends his knees and
*spreads*. And *that's* --
"God, it's *wrong* that Clark isn't seeing this," Dick says
before he can stop his own mouth with Tim's tongue
"Well -- to be fair, we don't -- don't *know*, oh -- *Dick* --"
And possibly it was just his *turn* to make godawful
noises, but the least he can do is keep *stroking* Tim
while he's doing it --
"Dick -- Dick -- did you -- did you want oh *God* --"
He loves it. He loves that -- silly young creepy wrong little
*stutter* -- "What? What do you want to know?"
And when Tim opens his eyes, he's got that *look*, the
same one that figured in more than one nightmare after
meeting him the *second* time, and Dick wants Clark
*here*, if only to explain it, if only to *argue*.
He *hadn't* been touching Tim, he hadn't been taking him,
having him, holding him -- *using* him, and there'd been
no reason for the look, none, only now --
"*Tell* me, little brother," he says, and it's wrong that the
shower has to be hiding the way he's sweating now, the
way he's flushing. Someone has to *see* this, to know that
it's nothing he could say without knowing the price, to know
that a part of him *is* screaming when Tim spills over his
hand and screams in a cracked whisper that bounces off
every fucking tile and beats into Dick's *brain* --
"*Clark* -- did you want -- want *Clark* -- I -- I -- I'm
sorry, fuck, Dick --"
It's *not* better to crawl up over Tim, to grab his shoulders
for long enough to keep him from sitting up, scooting
away -- it doesn't matter, neither of those things can happen
right now, even if pulling Tim back against his own body
just means that his idiot dick has something smooth and
sleek and wet to thrust against.
"Oh -- you're so *hard* --"
"Yeah," he says, and knowing that *part* of him is laughing
isn't enough, and he pulls and shifts and *moves* Tim until
he's over Dick's lap, until he can lean in and lick Tim's
blush-flush red *ear*, and lick his way in, and lick dilute
sweat from his cheek and shove his *tongue* in Tim's ear --
Tim's *moving* against him, dragging those lean and tight
abs against Dick's dick and *watching* him --
"You've got me --"
"Go on, *call* me Batman, again --"
"Oh *God* --"
Laughing makes Tim *shiver* against him. "I promise -- I
promise I won't lose my mind any more than I -- than I
already *have*, fuck, come on, *touch* me --"
And Tim's hands are awkward and kind of *wriggly*
between them, but Dick can't let go enough to make it
And then he *has* to -- arching back and catching himself
on one hand when the other slips, when Tim grabs him by
his dick and by his *balls*, and jerks him off *just* like
Clark had done the first time.
Only rougher, because --
"Is this -- Dick --"
"Jesus *yes*, Tim --"
All those *calluses* and Bruce pressing a gun into his hand,
Bruce watching him on the uneven bars, Bruce catching
and deflecting every punch and strike, all of his best until
Dick wanted to come and wanted to *cry* because he'd
never, *ever* be that good --
"Don't *stop* --"
"I --" And Tim shakes his head almost violently and stares
at Dick, or maybe at his own hands, and it's --
Those *hands*. Too small, too clever, rough and hard and
*old*, and Tim should have -- "You should -- you should
have more fucking *scars* --"
"I -- agree," and Tim squeezes him, balls and dick, and
looks him in the *eye*. "Neither of us... have *called*
Truth shouldn't be this fucking electric, this fucking --
There's too much *potential* there -- here, with Tim
watching Dick watch, with Tim driving Dick higher and
harder and *closer* --
He shouldn't want --
He shouldn't be fourteen years old, running around in the
dark of the Tower and wondering if it would still count as
winning at hide and seek if he just called Clark to hide
him really --
"*Clark*," Dick says, laughing and fucking Tim's fist. "Clark,
you gotta -- you gotta come *here* --"
And for an instant the shower is just a really warm
rainstorm, whipping them both with water and wind and --
"I was beginning to wonder if you'd *ever* ask," Clark says,
and Tim's hands *spasm* around him, on him, and Clark
is huge and golden and naked and perfect and *looming*
behind Tim --
And whatever he's doing with his hands has turned Tim's
mouth into a ridiculously perfect little 'o' -- no.
Nothing is ridiculous when it's Superman. But --
"Clark, if you make his hands shake too much, I'm going to
scream in the *bad* way." And for just a second Clark's
eyes seem to almost *flare* --
"We can't have that..." he says, and strokes his way down
Tim's arm and covers Tim's hand, the one on Dick's dick,
"God, always so *warm* -- so --"
And Clark's little humming sound makes him choke, or
maybe that was Tim, maybe --
It's *okay* that the hand on his *balls* is shaking, just --
"What -- what are you doing -- to him? Clark, I --"
"I'm penetrating him with my finger," Clark says, and licks
the same places on Tim's ear *he* had.
"Oh -- I remember -- oh, *Clark* --"
"I hadn't before," Clark says, and hums again, low and
*rough*. "I can't imagine what I was *thinking* --"
And just -- that *voice*. Dick doesn't want to laugh but he
has about as much choice about that as he does about
*coming*, spilling over Clark's and Tim's fists and shaking
like he's taken a really *bad* hit to the head, and Tim
squeezes his eyes shut and starts to --
Dick groans and knocks their hands aside and just --
*Robin*. It's *Robin*, and Dick can't stop himself from
crawling closer, from taking Tim's face in his hands
He doesn't know what's supposed to come after that,
because one of the first lessons he'd learned and learned
not to think about was that what happened between
Superman and Robin didn't *belong* to Batman, not really,
He doesn't know who he's trying to be, right now. It's just
that tugging Tim's face toward his own feels better than
*not* doing it. Just -- "Tim -- Tim, open your eyes --"
And it's every wild and placeless thought he's ever had,
every *feeling* -- "B -- Dick --"
"I *remember*," he says, and he knows he sounds like he's
begging for something, but he can't do anything about that,
It's wonderful and sexy and terrifying to watch Clark's free
hand -- sticky hand -- slide up to Tim's jaw, see it hiding so
*much* of Tim's face and feel it slick and *hot* on his own
"I *missed* you," Clark says, and they all know he's talking
to Tim, because Clark's never used anything like that voice
"I -- I -- C --"
And Dick can't really *place* the movement that ends with
Clark's thumb in Tim's mouth, it's too fast, it's too --
"*Jesus*, Clark --"
"Give me -- just a moment --"
And the *moment* ends with Tim *screaming* around
Clark's thumb, sharp and incredible, going rigid and -- one
of Tim's hands is clutching at Dick and the other is clawing
the *floor* --
He can't let Tim hurt his *hands*, but it doesn't feel any
kind of *better* to take that hand in his own, covering it
and holding -- "We've got you, little brother, it's okay --"
"Oh, *Dick* --"
And it's Clark, because Tim is *sucking* Clark's thumb,
because Tim's upper body is slumped against Clark's
Because Tim's rocking his *hips* --
"God, Clark, you must be so --"
"Yes, I -- Dick, do you *see*?"
He doesn't know. He doesn't know what he sees and he
doesn't know what Clark *wants* him to see, but the look
in his eyes is more desperate than the one in Tim's, and
Dick can't really --
He nods, because there's nothing else he can say, and
because it's really kind of --
He doesn't think 'compelling' is the word, or it shouldn't be
when what he's looking at is Tim working his hips back
rhythmically on one (two?) of Clark's fingers, flushed red
and sobbing around Clark's thumb, shaking his head but
not stopping, or trying to get away, or -- anything --
The hand Dick's protecting is *shaking*, flexing, and the
blood is pounding in Dick's ears, in Dick's *body* too
hard for him to be able to have any *idea* what Clark is
whispering to him -- to *Tim*, even though Clark is
watching *him* --
He doesn't -- had he looked like that?
Had he --
Dick shakes his head at himself and slips the hand he still
has on Tim's face out from under Clark's own -- Clark pets
down to Tim's *throat*, and just --
Dick kisses Tim, or tries to, licking Clark's big, hard thumb
before he can get to Tim's tongue, forgetting himself and
licking again, again, and the noises Tim is making are
messy, slick -- loud and --
He kisses Tim *hard*, knocking his head back against
Clark in a way that would probably hurt if it wasn't -- if it
wasn't *Superman*, and for just a moment he can feel
himself, and what it would've been like if Bruce had kissed
him like this one of those -- *any* of those -- times with
Clark, if Batman had needed him just like *this*, even if it
was only because he had to *watch* Superman taking
Taking him *away*.
Tim's orgasm is almost kind of -- it's *frustrating* when
the noises turn into silent tension and shaking, when Tim
starts to slump *away* -- Dick isn't *finished* --
And he has just enough time, enough of *himself* to pull
back, even though he's too clumsy with -- *everything* --
His hand slips on the tile and he hits a little hard, and then
his heart is his throat because Clark is *on* him --
"Are you all right, Dick?"
"I -- I... *Jesus*, Clark!"
The expression on his face is as worried and as *focused*
as it would be if Dick had just fallen anywhere, just as if
they can't both hear Tim panting and moaning behind
them -- Tim.
He pushes Clark off of him and checks -- Tim's sitting
half-slumped against the wall, squeezing his own balls
and shivering --
"Robin -- Tim --"
Tim opens his eyes immediately, smiling like a particularly
private and *subtle* drunk and shivering again,
Dick can't say he doesn't *get* it.
Not with Clark's fingers on the back of his neck, and he
can't -- Tim is still *watching* him, both of them, and
when Dick turns away from *Tim*...
Clark is right there, as hard as Dick's ever *seen* him, and
a part of Dick's mind is wondering why he *hadn't* done
anything else with Tim, and the rest of him is remembering
how much *work* it had taken to finally, *finally* get Clark
to fuck him --
They hardly do it *now*.
"Is it -- it's control, isn't it, Clark?"
The expression on his face is kind of... mildly confused, just
as if Dick had said something incoherent and a complete
non sequitur besides. It makes something loosen up inside
Dick -- it's *Clark*.
"I mean," he says, and slides his hand up over the slick
heat of Clark's thigh and around the completely
un-ridiculous *girth* of Clark's dick. "Were you worried
about your control?"
"Mmm... among -- other things, Dick --"
"We trust you, C -- Clark," and it takes a minute to realize
that it's Tim's voice, that *he's* laughing and bending --
That Clark's groaning and stroking the back of his neck --
just like before. He'd wanted this, and it had just taken
Dick a little while to *see* it.
It isn't the first time he's missed a tree for the forest,
though it's probably a bad idea to be snickering this much
when he's trying to get the tree in his *mouth*.
And it sounds as much like 'I love you' as it always does,
and it feels --
He's not laughing. He really can't, and he -- really *can't*,
because there's nothing like this, and he needed to *know*
that, to remember it right now, because *now* --
Now he's wondering if Clark has *let* Tim do this, yet, and
if he'd be able to watch without losing everything inside
him like thought. If this is really a good *idea* -- not what
he's doing, but having Tim there.
He's supposed to be *Batman*.
It feels like kindness, or maybe just more shared secrets
when Clark pushes so slow and perfect into his throat,
cutting off his moans and letting him be at least a little
*silent* about this, even he can't --
Bruce never closes his eyes in Dick's fantasies.
Bruce never has to clench his abs painfully to keep from
reaching for himself, never has to dig his fingers into --
He's scratching at Clark's hips and it's too fast again, too
right and too wild that he can't breathe, can't speak, can't
Clark smells like Superman and Dick's drooling too much to
taste, holding Clark inside him and swallowing, swallowing,
and Tim can't *possibly* --
Tim's too --
He yanks his head back, yanks against the light, sweet,
promising touch on the back of his neck --
And he's on his back again, and Clark --
"*Clark* -- *ah* --"
Clark's mouth around *him* is nothing but familiar, huge
and hot and wet, darker than the space behind Dick's
eyelids, and he's flailing like a *kid*, scrabbling for
purchase -- *there*.
Can't see the forest for the --
He swallows back the snicker and twists and moves and
*lunges* until he can at least get the *head* of Clark's dick
between his lips again, until they can --
God, start *moving* together, and he doesn't know if he
wants Tim to be watching this *either*, but he *does*
know Tim --
And the abrupt sense-memory of the manor's brickwork
against his back as Clark pushed and *thrust*, of the
knowledge that they were *somewhere* near the East
bedrooms, and thus --
Tim had watched that, too, and maybe everything else,
and what did common ground *mean* --
And Clark's hand in his hair is as strange and wonderful --
Superman's *hand*, so smooth and strong and big,
cupping his head like a gift, like something *fragile* even
as he pulls Dick in, makes him take more, get *deeper* --
He groans and *jerks* in Clark's mouth, because it's
impossible to be sure whether the head of Clark's dick had
slipped back into his throat before or *after* Clark had
You can't call that *licking*, just like he couldn't call that
one time with Wally -- he'd tasted like *beer* -- a kiss.
Too much. Too --
Behind him -- behind *them* -- Tim makes a sound Dick
can't recognize, can't *know*. It's too quiet and too --
God, he'd probably just say something brilliant like '*wow*,'
but Tim --
Everywhere Clark isn't touching him is cold and human,
except for the irrational prickles of Tim's *presence*, and
how everywhere Clark isn't touching him is somewhere
Tim isn't, either --
Clark's groan, Clark's *hum* around him, and Dick's
scraping his hip on the floor tile, this isn't *practical*, he
can't -- he wants *faster*, and scraping his teeth on Clark
feels like the first and every other time, feels like his face
is burning from the inside out because it's wrong and it's
just right, just --
He *knows* that's his own name being groaned around his
dick, and he knows --
He knows what the look is on Tim's face.
He wakes up alone, in his own bed --
His bed smells more like himself-plus-ozone than it smells
like himself-plus-Clark, but that just means that, sometime
while Dick was sleeping, Clark had had to save someone,
or many different someones, or -- hell, maybe he'd just
been zipping off between his bed and Tim's.
Dick has never really thought about it, before, but... well.
Clark would be --
Superman could absolutely hold more than one person all
night long, through their sleep, without disturbing...
There's a word.
Dick laughs, and scrubs the sleep from his eyes, and has a
moment to boggle at the fact that he *doesn't* smell
completely disreputable --
Showers shouldn't really count when you do *that* in them.
Somewhere, Roy is disagreeing vehemently with him.
By the time he gets downstairs, he can smell coffee, and he
knows Tim is -- wait, it's after *nine* --
-- and it's also Saturday.
"You're officially the best Robin ever," Dick says, when Tim
hands him a mug of coffee without a word.
"I could question that --"
"But you *won't*," Dick says, with all the firmness a swallow
of scalding caffeine -- he even gets the sugar right -- can
"All right," Tim says, and leans back against the countertop,
and watches him... no, that's less 'watching' than 'waiting
attentively.' At least Dick thinks so.
His body wants him to know that Bruce won't expect him in
the Cave until at *least* eleven --
His hand is smarter than the rest of him, taking advantage
of Tim's hair before the product goes in. It's soft and much
thinner than Dick's own, fine and --
And Tim doesn't really look like...
*Jason* had looked like a relative. Of his *and* of Bruce's,
somehow. Tim just seems cut from a different kind of...
"Just doing my level best to figure you out without doing
anything useful like asking questions, little -- kiddo."
Simultaneous blushing -- sign of genetic similarities or no?
He pulls Tim against him because it's easier to do than not,
and realizes he hasn't gotten this many hugs in *this*
kitchen since the days when he couldn't close his eyes
without seeing blood staining and spreading over sawdust.
He'd shaken Tim's *hand* at *his* mother's funeral --
"It's just that I never got to -- ask you. If that was all right,
"I -- 'little brother,' you mean?"
It's muffled by the t-shirt he'd pulled on, but not that much.
Tim knows how to stay *put* for a hug, which totally puts
him one up on Jason, who would snicker and push and
tickle hard enough to leave bruises and, occasionally --
memorably -- grope. "Yes," he says, and, "yeah, that."
Laughing with Tim in his arms doesn't push them closer,
shake them closer, anything. It's not that they *can't* be
closer -- Dick knows that, now -- it's just that getting Tim
closer involves him *pulling* --
Christ. "I -- there's a lot I haven't actually. Asked you. Ah --"
"I'll be traumatized for life, Dick," Tim says, solemn and
quiet and clear. "I've never felt so used."
There's a part of him which is wondering just what the
*hell* kind of picture they're making, the twenty-one year
old and the high school freshman, arms around each other
and alternately staring and *eyeing* -- one little fine-haired
eyebrow arched --
The rest of him is wondering if it's too early for the kind of
spar that'll leave Robin limping until Batman needs him
Dick snorts and shoves Tim away from him, noting the
stumble and the recovery and the aborted move to a
And, finally, the smile that's a little hectic and, yes, all
He doesn't ask if Bruce ever plays with him, just -- *plays*,
because he doesn't think he really wants to know the
answer. Maybe it's that team of -- his.
"Jeez, I just remembered -- YJ? What's going on?"
The hectic disappears faster than the ready-stance -- "I've
contacted Arrowette --"
"*Is* she -- I mean -- Green Arrow and her mother..." He
can't believe the gesture he's making. That hand can't
possibly belong to him.
It gets the eyebrow to come back, and Tim folds his arms
like Dick had just taken a head injury that would *hide*
the cape from view. "We've -- collectively -- decided not
to consider it too deeply."
He should... the girl -- Cissie? -- should talk to Roy. Maybe.
Or -- something. Dick grabs himself more coffee and
waves Tim on. "What else. What do they -- what did you
tell them? Her."
"They've become... they're accustomed to Batman needing
me for... additional missions," he says, looking away and...
Dick can't guess. "And that's -- that covers it?"
"I... I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Impulse or Superboy
came looking for me. At some point."
Dick nods and takes up Tim's leaning spot against the
counter. "So you've got Arrowette running things while
"She's the best choice, and entirely capable."
There's just enough defensiveness in Tim's voice to remind
Dick that Bruce -- that Bruce isn't *here*, but he's pretty
sure it's not time to just grab Tim again, no matter what
happens after it. What it's *time* for... it'd be good to
know what it's time for. Bruce's absence is impossible to
*believe* in for more than several minutes at a time, even
with the suit on. Alfred's is a nagging wound.
"Just... it's not right to keep you from your team, little
This time, the blush is all Tim's. That's better than --
"Weren't you... wasn't there some kind of get-together
"An opportunity for the team's guardians to meet, yes,
but Dick --"
"Oh, like you really wanted *Bruce* to show up to that."
Tim looks decidedly pale.
It had taken way too long to secure things well enough --
even with Max Mercury's, Dubbilex's *and* Red Tornado's
help -- that he could be sure that no one would be gravely
injured or killed during that... meeting.
Dick's spent a lot of the intervening hours trying not to
make comparisons, not to --
They'd -- *his* team -- had all been at least a little bit
older -- and he's not *thinking* about either Superboy or
Impulse, because Jason wasn't even *alive* when either
of them were --
Would've been --
In the end, it's not any of the *kids'* fault that their
guardians are kind of insane, and -- Jesus, what *would*
Jack Drake have been like there?
He's never -- he's never even met the man, and it's as
queasy-making as anything else.
It's not that he really needs to *brood* over this -- Tim's
fine, judging by the feed in the Cave of his vitals and
coordinates. Tim's fine, camping out with his team-mates,
and the fact that they've made it through ten whole
hours without getting kidnapped into another dimension
or attacked by Cobra or Deathstroke or anything has
them one up on the Titans, no matter how much his hair
still smells like fruit punch wielded in anger.
It's not --
He doesn't need to fucking *brood*, just because Robin is
somewhere other than (where he belongs) here and won't
be back until Dick's back from patrol and, presumably,
Bruce spent years in this place with no one but Alfred and
He doesn't have Alfred, but he's got the cowl and the --
When Bruce is healthy --
If Bruce takes too long to come back once he's healthy
again, Dick is going to go *wherever* he is, punch him
in the jaw, hug him, and...
And possibly beg like the whiniest, most pathetic little
wimp ever to exist to never, ever have to do anything
*like* this again. Just -- not without a script, a rule book,
a cape whose stitches weren't even younger than
freakin' Superboy, *something* --
Dick catches himself right before his fist would've hit the
The *new* one, and he drops into a crouch, shoving his
hands, his *fists* down between his thighs and biting
his lip. He looks up, and --
He wasn't here for Jason. Not -- not the way he could've
been. *Should've* been.
"So maybe it's a little karma, little wing...?"
Except if it really was karma, he wouldn't have woken up in
the middle of the night *knowing* that the manor wasn't
If it was karma --
God, how had he slept at all?
How did Bruce sleep without -- any of them right here? (He
doesn't. He never did, wherever they were. Not really --)
It's just not --
Dick sits up on his elbows and listens, impatient for the
whisper of the sheet against his skin to quiet again so he
Pretty much nothing. He's not a metahuman, and the
manor makes more noise than any of them ever did,
except maybe for Jason. It creaks, and groans, and then
there are the leaves on the trees, outside --
He's never been more eager for *winter* to come in his life.
Though, to be fair, pants are far more likely for this winter
than they used to be, even if Bruce springs back like he
always does from gunshots and --
His *back* -- Babs --
He'll be fine.
And Dick still can't hear anything that will confirm his
irrational *certainty* that Tim is back, and at least
relatively close. And --
He remembers being thirteen, waking up too fast to scream
because it wasn't just blood, it was the *feel* --
He remembers waking up and blinking at the shadows until
he could see Bruce, and know he was there, and that it
was -- it wasn't all right, but they had each other. Not
every night, or even close to it, but...
But he's up and moving, and the *feeling* just gets
stronger, better, more *sure*, and even though he still
can't hear a thing, he knows exactly what he'll see when he
pushes open the door to Tim's bedroom.
Except for how he -- absolutely doesn't.
"Well -- good morning," he says, to the air and the sleep-
fuzzed shock in his own mind. Tim *is* there, but all he's
wearing is a wash-faded Superman t-shirt -- he'd folded
that shirt himself, with all the care Alfred taught him --
and a bruise Dick can't place on his left forearm.
He's tracking the room reflexively before he can think
Tim, Clark, the bed that hasn't been slept in -- just pulled
back the way Dick had left it -- and there are the boxers
Tim had folded with all the care Dick taught *him*, a
backpack that only looks innocuous to people who aren't
them, *Tim* --
On his knees, and -- waiting?
No, that was before. *Now* he looks exactly like he
would've expected Tim to look if Dick ever caught him
doing something not... something. Not right?
There's nothing in his expression to hold on to, and the
arm with the bruise ends in a loosely-clenched fist.
"I..." He doesn't know what comes after that, and he looks
at Superman, at *Clark*, and it's a reflex he should
probably do something about at some point, but --
Probably not when it makes Clark say, "Dick," in the same
voice he'd used just before pulling *him* close. Just
Really *not* before *this*. Dick shakes himself a little
violently, pushing the tangle of his hair back behind where
he has to look at it and -- doesn't go any further into the
room. Just --
He looks back at the strange, quiet boy on his knees, and
*looks* until Tim is looking back at him, rueful and starting
to blush. "You know, I really *want* to remind you that
you have school tomorrow, and patrol tomorrow *night*,
little brother... but then I'd have to think about the fact
that I was going to wake you up if you were asleep, so..."
It makes Tim smile, small and quiet and not -- really --
strange, at all. "Noted, Batman."
And *that's* -- enough.
Especially once he looks back at Clark and sees some of
that ruefulness *reflected*, and sees *Clark* seeing all
the questions Dick's going to want answers to... sometime
that isn't now.
Clark nods, and when Dick closes the door behind himself,
it feels --
He's there, and he's okay, and they're --
Batman and Robin and Superman? *Really*?
He's back in his own bedroom, at least, before he starts
laughing so hard he has to bite his own fist to keep from
screaming. Just --
It would be so much better if he *didn't*, actually, know
what he was doing here, even though he'd bet the Batmobile
that Bruce didn't really have a clue. Not even *one*, and
he still doesn't know where that other guy *is* --
Christ, what had Clark *done* to him?
What the hell --
And Bruce *had* to know Clark and Tim were -- together,
The Case is repaired, the Cave is clean and ready, the
Batsuit fits, and both he and Tim have plenty of food and
clean laundry. It's just that he was right the first time -- it's
Not for him, and, apparently, not for --
God, in the *manor*?
What if it was him? What if -- God. What if Bruce had
walked away instead of making *him* do it?
It's too easy to see himself, bare-legged in the Cave and
*alone* -- but there'd always been Clark, right?
Really, really -- *right*, because apparently he's been losing
it for long enough that Clark is -- finished, or whatever,
because now he's hovering outside Dick's window, and the
question in his eyes is mild and easy and -- *easy*.
Dick shakes his head.
Clark nods --
("Are you *sure*, Dick?")
-- and flies.
"I don't think... it's very strange to sit in the front seat of
one of Bruce's cars that isn't -- the *car*," Tim says, and --
And Dick is nodding and grinning, a little, before he realizes
it's the first thing they've really said to each other since
he'd shaken Tim awake and gotten what he can tell
himself was just sleepy nonsense, as opposed to something
*he* doesn't understand in Kryptonian --
Jesus. *Jesus* --
"Don't mind me, kiddo, just having a psychotic break."
"Hm. Bruce seems to save those for night-time," Tim says,
and the thing is --
The thing is, Dick *does* know Tim well enough to hear
just how much more *cautious* the tone was than the
words, but he still has to pull over and breathe before he
runs them both off the road.
"I -- sometimes I think my sense of humor. Needs work.
Tim looks at him, head cocked and curious and so self-
contained Dick kind of wants to hit him.
Or maybe just bang his head against the steering wheel.
"I think -- I don't think... Clark's told you everything.
About -- us."
"Yeah, that part I'm getting --"
"I was ready to quit, Dick. I just -- Bruce was playing this
*game*, and it looked like the fun parts were all about
making everything I could do, every friend I could
*have* -- " Tim laughs, old and quiet and not very
strangled at all. "I -- I was actually really happy when I
was in training --"
"You were going to *quit*? You're the one --"
"All at once, I found myself deeply *unconcerned* with just
what *Batman* needed. I *did* quit -- for a few days.
Clark dropped me off at home for long enough to prove to
my father that there was nothing *untoward* going on,
and then took me back to the Fortress. As commuting
goes... you can do worse than Superman, right?"
Dick -- his knuckles are white on the steering wheel. "Keep
"I got -- calmed down. I came back, and Bruce and I didn't
talk about it, and... the next thing I knew all hell was
breaking loose, and *Bruce* was -- God, he just couldn't
stop *lecturing* me about security, and practicalities, and
the Mission, and if he'd ever stopped to look in the mirror
he would've known he'd run himself down so hard he
wouldn't be able to take the -- the *fucking*
Ventriloquist, much less *Bane*. And I wasn't allowed
"I think the most memorable word used was 'compromised.'
Presumably -- though he didn't specify -- by my relationship
with Kal. Clark."
Dick closes his eyes.
"And then I got to try playing Robin to a guy who really
could've used some therapy when he was -- heh -- my
age, and *then* I found myself dangling from his fist
and wondering if I'd have enough air to beg for my life,
if Jean-Paul ever stopped ranting long enough to take a
breath. Very exciting, really."
"Clark saved your life --"
"Of course. And pointed out that there just happened to
be someone who could, perhaps, do a better job taking
over than the guy with the funny voices in his head. The
fact that Bruce was already gone and Alfred was -- going
just a little crazy, I think, with worry and -- anyway. You
"That part..." Dick uncurls his fingers from the steering
wheel and uses the left to rub a little at his temple. The
right... it feels a little over the top to reach across the DMZ
of the center console, but, when he does, Tim's hard,
good hand is right there. "That part I got. Most of, anyway.
God, did you think I wouldn't *get* why Clark is so
important to you --"
"Kal. He's Kal to me, more often than not. For me."
"And... you're really not in the mood, right now, to let me
get away with thinking it's a question of fucking semantics,
are you?" Fucking *Kryptonian* --
"Not especially," Tim says, but he's smiling. And curling his
hand in Dick's own. "Forget -- Dick, forget my life, and my
teenaged angst, and everything else. I never would've been
able to *talk* to *you* if Kal hadn't forgiven me. And
that's... you were the most important thing in my life for a
very long time."
That *look* -- "I get that, too, little brother. But we're --
we're doing kind of a bad job of being Batman and Robin,
here. Just -- I think you could go with *that* assessment?"
"Maybe," Tim says, and this time when he moves his hand
he twines his fingers in Dick's own.
The squeeze is reflexive, better, *something*, but --
"We can talk to each other, unless I'm hallucinating. I'm
reasonably sure you wouldn't find it *especially* amusing
to play merry hell with my personal life, and, incidentally
the personal life of the most powerful being within a few
parsecs. If we keep practicing, we'll be as good on the
street as -- anyone. Perhaps you can understand why
I'm not... troubled."
"I -- I had a nightmare that the cowl was strangling me in
my sleep. Last night."
Tim nods. "Usually it just swallows me whole and I fall into
the black nothingness, screaming all the while."
That's not -- really, it's the *phrasing* --
"You know, Dick, sometimes when you're trying not to
"I -- yes?"
"You sound a little like you're being. Well. Strangled."
Of course he does. "Auditory hallucination."
"Hm," Tim says, and nods.
Dick gives up and laughs, banging his head against the
plush, leather-covered head-rest and just...
He can see Tim smiling at him, out of the corner of his eye.
When he can stop, he lets go of Tim's hand and yanks his
backpack from the back seat.
"Time to forge a note excusing my lateness, Dick?"
"Try to leave out the part where you were getting fucked
mindless -- I can't believe I had to wake you *up* -- all
night by Superman."
"That, too," Dick says, and bends over Tim's lap until he can
get to the absurdly placed glove compartment and his
When it's done, he can't tell if the signature at the bottom
is supposed to be his name, Jack Drake's, Bruce's, or
possibly just Kryptonian for 'sucker,' which means it's more
than good enough for a Gotham public school.
He waits until Tim has his notebook tucked away again,
starts the car, and drives. And remembers --
"Hey, I never asked about the camping trip."
"It was good. We got to talk, and -- it was good."
"You're not allowed to tell any of them your name, are you?"
"No, and it's -- for now, it works well enough. Some of
them are -- very young."
That's -- Dick frowns. "So are you. So am *I* --"
"Kind of terrifying, isn't it?"
Tim's reach is pretty short, but it's enough to cover Dick's
hand on the wheel, and get covered when Dick lets go,
again. He can take Tim to school while holding hands. It
"Dick, I -- I actually *do* know that Bruce isn't -- that he
never would've let this go so far, that it wasn't supposed to
be... okay, I don't know *what* it was supposed to be,
but I know it wasn't --"
"Right. And I. He's right. More often than not."
Dick bites back as much of the wince as he can. "You
usually sound more like Robin."
"I'll have it back by tonight. Batman."
"Point taken, little *brother*," he says, and snorts, and
spreads Tim's fingers with his own.
"I -- I like that, actually. I meant to say."
He likes the stutter -- too much. "Good," Dick says, and
takes them up to seventy.
1. Really, really not a 'ship story. Hell, it's not a 'ship
*series*, but... well. I realized, somewhere close to the end,
that the real 'ships in this story were Dick/Rampant Denial,
Tim/Budding Fundamentalism, and Kal/Omnipresence.
OTP! Wait, no.
It was a dirty, dirty lie for me to use the Dick/Tim icon
Glock made for me, lo these many moons ago, but it's
what got at least a few of you to read this far, so I find
myself less than sincerely contrite.
2. In terms of the timeline... God, Tim was fourteen for nine
years. Normally I can *deal* with the vagaries of comics
time, but I really *had* to fuck around a little this time.
Generally, I went with the idea that, fine, it really was an
*extremely long year*, which starts with Tim becoming
Robin, veers wildly through that whole Death of Superman
thing, careens into Young Justice, and smacks head-first
into Knightfall -- and, of course, Prodigal.
2a. Except for how I kind of take things *extra* AU wrt to
Prodigal because, of course, (I hope it's clear), Dick
would've wound up in Gotham and the Batsuit *long*
before Bruce's back healed and what-not if someone
with, say, godlike powers had taken a glance toward
Gotham and noticed that Jean-Paul Valley had some
2b. You all have no idea how much *effort* it took, on
my part, not to have any of the characters wonder,
aloud, if anyone else had noticed that September had
been going on for approximately two years.
3. Petra and I were rereading that older Dixon issue of
NIGHTWING the other day where Clark drops by for a
visit and Dick uses him to, essentially, poke Bludhaven in
general and Blockbuster specifically. The thing is, Clark
didn't show up randomly. He showed *up* to wangst a
little at Dick about whatever random thing was
happening over in the Superman titles. However, Dick
somehow manages to miss the glaring Clark EMO and...
Clark lets him do it. Insert Bludhaven-poking here.
Anyway, it made me think about their relationship in a
new way -- beyond the general sense I've had for ages
that they've been really-good-friends-with-(maybe)-benefits
for years and will continue to be so until one or both of
them dies for good.
It *actually* made me think of one of the things I'd been
flailing around with the You'll Get Used To It toonverse
series, wrt why Timmy was just so *attracted* to Clark.
Basically, in that universe -- and, apparently to at least
some extent in comics canon -- Clark willingly and
thoroughly (to a *point*) allows himself to be used as a
conduit through which Robins can pretend that there's
absolutely nothing wrong with their eye-bleedingly INSANE
lives, that they have/had wonderful childhoods, and that the
world itself is happy and fun and *okay*.
He's the escape hatch, the release valve. The source of
validation when Bruce is being an ass. The Big Blue
*Buddy* -- if not Boy Scout -- and... not so much a
That really doesn't work.
3a. I'm not sure having a Robin ready, willing, and able to
accept Kal-El as his personal savior is a much better
choice in the long run, but it's probably a bit therapeutic
for all concerned.
For certain definitions of same.
3b. You know, while I do think Tim blows Kal eventually
in that scene, I'm kinda thinking that wasn't the primary
reason he got down on his knees. I'm just saying.
4. I am really, really fascinated with the evolution of Dick
and Tim's relationship -- probably because there's such a
teasingly *tiny* amount of canon for them in the space
between "A Lonely Place of Dying" and, well, "Prodigal" --
even in the insanity of comics-time, that's at least a year
and a half.
In any event -- what we *do* have suggests that Dick was
at least a *little* weirded out (NTT) by Tim's whole
existence for, well, at least a *while*. Of course Dixon
would *have* to do his level best to fix that, birdboy-lover
that he is, but... yeah. How did that happen...? Exactly?
Well, I'm guessing it wasn't *this*... but I kinda think Clark
had to play *some* role. It sure as hell wasn't Bruce.
Though it totally could've been Alfred.
That's another story.
5. Totally one of the top ten Most Disturbing Stories I've
written. Like, in terms of how *I* reacted, while I was
Rarely have I ever had to stop so many times to say,
"*damn*, that's wrong."
6. Perhaps contrarily -- since I don't know if I'll keep writing
in this moral abattoir -- I also think this Tim has the best
chance of any Tim I've written in a *while* to, eventually,
wind up in a healthy relationship with *someone*. Maybe
even Kon. After all, he's kind of self-actualized with regards
to his relationship to Bruce, Batman, *and* Robin.
Canonically, he doesn't get anywhere *near* that until,
well, ROBIN #120. And even then -- 'self-actualized' is
really kind of pushing it. Like, with a bulldozer.