So false as to be true
by Te
January 6, 2005

Disclaimers: Nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: Nothing after NW #89, TT #7 or so, and
ROBIN #120. AU-ishness in effect. The most important
thing about the timeline is that, for the purposes of this
story, at least two months pass between NW #87 and

Summary: "You're not keeping *any* secrets from me,
anymore, are you?"

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which dovetails to a
certain extent with the content some readers may find

Author's Note: Third in The Fools Who Do Series. Starts
about forty-eight hours after "To play with wine and love,"
and won't make any sense without the others.

Acknowledgments: Much, much love and gratitude to Betty,
LC, Petra, Ruby, Jam, and Marcelo, all of whom put up with
far too much from me for this story, and all of whom are
responsible for making it a lot better than it could've been.


As transitions go --

This one, Tim thinks, would be better if he could just
remember that 'transition' has become one of those words
it's just more practical to think around, like 'clown' and

Still, he owes a large debt to the fourteen year old he was
approximately two years and two sex changes ago for the
way that teenager had completely failed to place a truly
*complete* wall between his families.

It never stops being... odd to see Dick hugging his
stepmother and shaking his father's hand -- it never stops
feeling transgressive and frankly insane, if he's honest with
himself -- but it still makes it a lot easier to move back into
the townhouse.

He's been gone... a while.

Long enough that his father seems to have forgotten that
they'd already *had* their 'welcome back' hug.

If he shakes Dick's hand again, Tim will know something's

This is...

Well, the lies are easy enough. He'd been released from the
'clinic' early, Dick had been closer to the airport than either
of his parents, and it *has*, in fact, been a while since Dick
has been over for a visit.

All of this makes the fact that he's in Gotham again just a
bit more livable than it might have otherwise been, and if
he can just remember that it would be a terrible idea to
slip into his stepmother's closet for a few hours *or* jerk
Dick off under the dinner table...

Things will be fine.


He's fine.

There's a bit more sympathy and *attention* in school than
he's used to, but at least there's Ives to point out that Lyme
disease was at least as hardcore as meningitis, and anyway,
Tim needed to suck it up.

"'Suck it up?'"

Ives looks at him sheepishly over the top of his locker --
he's going to be as tall as Tim's father soon -- "Look, it
was either that or embarrassing hugs, man. You were

Tim smirks at him. "Does this mean you care?"

"Oh, fuck you."

He's fine.

Even though Steph breaks their unofficial protocol of relative
lack-of-civilian-contact to join him and Ives for lunch.

It's still fine.

Steph is an excellent distraction for Ives, and vice versa,
and he's starting to think seriously about relaxing, just a
little, even though the way Steph has her arm around his
waist is making them an 'item,' judging by the way people
watch them as she walks him back to class.

"Gonna tell me why you're jumpy?"

I almost forgot that I was wearing a training bra, thus
nearly -- nearly -- making changing for gym class rather
more exciting than it otherwise should've been. "I --
nothing I can talk about here," he says, quietly.

She squeezes him. "Aftershocks?"

("I have to confess -- I'm rather enjoying your failure to
truly become accustomed to the female orgasm, Tim.") Tim
closes his eyes for a moment. "You could call it that."

She makes a small, worried sound.

"I'm dealing."

"And I'm Steph, your girlfriend of *years*. So is this 'I'm
dealing, which means that I'm going to be a stupid asshole
until you beat me into talking about it,' or 'I'm actually

Tim snorts, gives up, and kisses her cheek. "Some of both."

She smiles at him, and does an impressive job of appearing
utterly oblivious to the fact that they've now gained the
attention of teachers as well as students. "You know you
*can* talk to me about... I mean..." The smile shifts into
a -- somewhat loopy -- laugh, and she leans in close to his


"How fucking *insane* is it that we have perfectly normal
secrets now?"

Possibly -- probably -- there's room for argument about the
phrase 'perfectly normal,' but... she's right. "Oh. I -- Jesus."

"Yeah, boy-again-friend?"

"I just realized we could both be talking about at least
some of this stuff with *Ives*."

Steph's snicker is actually a little loud, considering how
close she is to his ear. "Oh, man, I *knew* it."

Tim doesn't use the word 'gaydar.' He's saving it for the
right occasion.


Judging by his -- necessarily rough -- calculations, he has
between three days and a week to use his afternoons for
things other than reassuring his parents that all is right
with the world.

This is just one of the many benefits of having both a friend
*and* a girlfriend, and he's had a lot of time to grow used
to swallowing the guilt over using their existence for things
like unofficially scheduled trips to the Clocktower.

He doesn't get to visit nearly enough during the day, and
even though this isn't really a social call --

"Ma ha ha. Finally, the Boy Wonder is in my clutches."

It's close enough. Tim grins at Oracle from over his shoulder
and basks a little more in the sunlight coming through the
clock face. "Are you sure about this? Me?"

The exaggeratedly 'wicked' smile on her face gets a little
smaller and a lot harder. "Are you?"

Tim sighs and drops into a crouch, shifting a little,
because --

"My God. You're totally wearing panties under those jeans,
aren't you?"


"*I*," Oracle says, "rescind my question."


"So you're going to be a *Bird*, now? For *serious*?"

Steph is the only person he's ever met who can make a full
face-cowl seem entirely transparent. Batgirl manages
something close to that every now and again, but Steph...
Steph has always been more than anyone else.

"You *did* get your balls back, right? Like, literally and
figuratively and also..." She waves a hand. "Thing?"

Steph has also always been able to make Tim feel as naked
as she is. He smiles ruefully. "'Thing' is something I'm a
little unsure about, actually."

She frowns and runs a hand down his tunic. "Unsure how?"

"I -- I'm not sure I'm totally okay with being... me. Again."

"Uh -- wow."


"No, seriously, wow. I mean... damn." Steph shakes herself
in a shamelessly canine way and tugs on his arm until
they're sitting on the roof, dangling their legs over a ledge.

Tim waits.

"So -- but you -- you always seemed... wait, no, that's a lie.
I mean, there was the car thing, but that *could've* just
been dyke-y --"

"The car thing?"

Steph punches his shoulder. "You named your car. You fixed
my *mom's* car. You took me to car *shows*. You --"

"Okay, the car thing. I have a thing. For cars. But --"

"*But* you're totally not a dyke. You're... a straight

The thing is, there are all sorts of perfectly non-evil -- and
even non-demonic -- sorcerers with whom he could talk,
and bargain with in ways that had nothing whatsoever to
do with his immortal soul. "I don't... I don't think it's like


"I don't know what it is. I don't... Steph. Spoiler."

He can feel her frowning at him. And that's... well, it's the
same as it ever is, even though it's... interesting to have
her frown at 'Spoiler' for any reason. This isn't the first
time she's talked about hanging it up 'at least for a while,'
but it is the first time he's found himself believing it.

She hasn't been doing more than patrolling a few square
miles around her home for weeks. And...

"There are -- there are a lot of things I still can't tell you,
and some of those things are a part of... this."

Steph bounces her heels against the side of the building.
"Like why you're ditching Bats?"

"I'm not --"

"Look, Gender To-Be-Announced Wonder --"

Tim snorts.

"I may not be part of the inner circle -- yet or *ever* -- but
I know nobody switches teams just because of their
damned *parts*, so, yeah, ditching Batman, when not even
your damned *birthday* could make you do it, and Cass
says you're... really close to Nightwing, so at least that --"

"Batgirl -- knows that?"

Steph rolls her eyes at him. He can't see it, of course, but
she does. It's one of her louder gestures.

"I was *going* to tell you."

She bumps him with her shoulder. "I know you were. It's
not like I was nagging. It's not -- I'm not even sure how
much I want to *know* yet, you know?"

Tim... doesn't think about everything he's failed to ask
about Steph and Batgirl. Cass. Cassandra. Batgirl -- "I

"So... yeah. Just, you know... we'll figure this out as we go

"I love you."

And the look Steph gives him... it had taken him a while to
figure it out, to separate it from 'I like you' and 'I love you'
and 'I'm glad we're friends' and all the other really good
looks Steph has, but he did. She's thinking about kissing

It's just that she isn't. Tim reaches for her hand, meaning
to tug her closer, but she just squeezes it, and Steph...

Steph always knows.


"Oh Robin, my Robin."

Tim resists the urge to finger the small gold stud in his ear.
It doesn't really vibrate when she calls, just as the comms
didn't. "R here."

"Hnn. How close are you to getting me secure uplink to
those servers?"

"Assuming I don't burn my palm drive on this test-run... two

"When you're done, B wants you."

"I." Tim breathes.

"Hmm. I could note that the word was 'want' as opposed
to 'need.'"

"I'll go."

"Robin --"

"I'll go, Oracle."

"Noted. Oracle out."


It's... it's a patrol.

They haven't done this -- or anything -- for the better part
of two weeks, but it's still just a patrol. They'd gone longer
without doing this together --

They'd gone much longer.

And they cover a lot of ground, and even manage to clear
up a hostage situation that could've gotten nasty,
considering how green the HRT leader is, but it's still...

It's still *Batman*, which means that between the two of
them, they've exchanged exactly ten words, and most of
those were directions: Left, right, down, etc., etc. It's
Batman, so they don't break until they have to -- mandatory
hydration and energy bar consumption, and Batman pulls
his damned grapple *just* as Tim is tucking away the
wrapper for his bar, and he's got a little less than two
seconds to decide if he's just going to let this --

"Why am I here?"

"Robin --"

"Why am I *here*, Batman?"

They're high enough that the street sounds aren't sufficient
to cover the sound of Bruce's back-teeth grinding.

There was a time when that sound would guarantee
nightmares revolving around the words 'I'm not good
enough.' There was a time when that sound would make
something cold and small inside him relax a little.
There --

It's not now. It just isn't. It's fucking *Batman* where
Bruce is supposed to be, and he can't... really deal with
any of that, right now.

"Fine, it's late, I'm heading --"

"I missed you."

"You. Jesus, Batman."

Only it's not. The smile on his face is rueful and -- fucking
*vulnerable*, and there are a full dozen things he's not
saying, because none of them have a place here.

The problem is that it leaves him with nothing to do but
stare at Bruce, and they could've...

They should've never done -- anything in uniform. That
would've saved him from some of this. This --

This isn't even *his* Bruce, who never smiled that --

The gauntlet on his cheek is a hundred different memories,
but only one of them counts for anything, right --

("If your tunic were a deeper red, I would've been able to
choose a better shade... though there's something almost
daring about this one.")

-- now. They've been... phenomenally stupid.

And if he could say anything remotely close to that out loud,
then he wouldn't be the person with incipient neck-strain
from the effort of not leaning into the touch. He wouldn't be
swallowing, and staring, and --

And Bruce is fast enough -- *good* enough -- that he's
flying and out of sight by the time Tim's hands are
functioning well enough to grab for his own grapple.
He --

He taps his collar, instead.

"Is my Robin back on *my* grid?"

Tim closes his eyes. "I -- I need to get back home for the
night, Oracle."

"Hmm. So you do. I'll expect your report --"

"It was just a patrol --"

"-- when I can stock up on ice cream again."

Tim snorts helplessly.

"Oracle out."


NotRichard: I've got tickets to a concert by a band
I've never heard of, which means you probably like them.
Saturday? (SF, of course.)

Alvin_94: Is it a... date?

NotRichard: Is that a question?

Alvin_94: I need to talk to you.

NotRichard: Unlock your window.

NotRichard has signed off.

The surprise is that he was actually dozing a little, despite
everything. It would normally be enough to be a little
worrying, but there are other things to focus on, like the
fact that the past-tense in his dozing is due to Dick doing
an excellent job of kissing him awake.

And then just an excellent job of kissing him.

There's a part of his mind wondering how problematic
getting caught doing this would be, and how the pie-chart
of parental difficulty would be broken up over the
categories of 'male,' 'twenty-four year old,' and 'vigilante,'
but it's the part which had been entirely asleep, and is thus
ridiculously slow.

He doesn't know where his blankets are, but they're
definitely not anywhere they can protect him from the
slick, perfect feel of Dick's uniform against his skin, even
if he wanted them to.

And when Dick breaks the kiss, there's a smile.

"Um. Hi."

"Good morning," Dick says, and kisses him again, and rolls
them over until Tim is sprawled over him.

Theoretically, this is going to make it easier for them to
stop kissing and talk, though not if Dick keeps stroking his
throat like he's trying to will Tim to be louder about all the

And -- talking. *Talking*.

"Nightwing --"

"O told me B called you."

And the proper response to knowing that is... this? Tim
shakes it off -- that's not even a remotely rational question.
"I... this isn't. I'm --"

"Just think of this as a reminder, little brother," Dick says
and strokes Tim's back with one hand. The other is on his
own face.

"I -- I couldn't forget. It's just that... that..."

Dick's hand isn't on his face. It's on his mask, tracing the
shape of it, and --

Tim swallows. And nods. Dick... understands.

Dick pulls him back down against him and holds on.


"Dinah was here last night. The Birds are down to two
gallons of blueberry sherbet."

Tim makes a face, dutifully. "Blueberry...?"

Oracle shrugs. "I may have once mentioned to a certain
azure insect..."

Tim snorts.

"... that I have a fondness for blueberry."


"If you want some toast, there's blueberry jam."

"I --"

"Which you can spread on blueberry muffins."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"And which, in turn, will go well with blueberry *tea*."

Tim waits.

"I could keep going... or."


Oracle tosses him a headset and rolls to him from her
console. "Or I could just skip to the point, which is clearly
both very pointy and a bit shameful, considering the fact
that you're taking me away from the *work*."

"It's -- it's *day*, Oracle. And it's only a few feet. And --"

"'And besides, the wench is...'" Oracle cocks her head at
him. "Here for something *very* specific."

Tim winces and thinks about continuing to do a bad job of
pretending he hasn't been edging closer to Oracle's -- not
Barbara Gordon's -- closets. And then gives up. "I need
help doing... something extremely stupid."

Oracle gives him an eyebrow. "As opposed to just a little

"That was last night."

Some of the smile -- not all of it, but a significant amount,
just the same -- fades off Oracle's face.

"Or -- I don't know what I'm doing. Look, I should just --"

"You knew you had my eyes and ears last night."

"I... I wasn't precisely thinking about it."

Oracle rests her elbows on her still, steady thighs and her
chin on her folded hands. "But you knew."

Tim closes his eyes and lets his head fall back -- thump back,
but not hard enough -- against the wall. "Yes."

"Which means that *one* of the reasons why you're here is
the fervent hope that I'll say or do something which will
make it easier for you..."

Tim winces just a little more strenuously.

"One way or another."

"Will you tell me -- how is this working for you? You know
what I'm doing, and who I'm doing it *with*, and --"


The thing about Oracle's command voice is that it's actually
a lot less *instantly* commanding than one might expect,
given... everything. It's perhaps the inevitable result of
expecting something inhuman and blank, and getting,
instead, Barbara Gordon.

Until one makes the mistake of meeting her eyes.

"I'm here."

"Yes," she says, "you're *here*."

Which... Tim cocks his own head.

"Are you truly surprised that I have less... security about
your affiliations than I do about your extracurricular

Which... Tim lets the wince fade a little. "No, now that you
mention it. Still..."

"Dinah would say something about 'keeping it in the family.'"

"So her relationship with Arsenal --"

The batarang sticks in the wall and quivers three inches --
Tim would lay money on the exactitude -- from his right

"-- is personal, of course."

"What?" Oracle looks innocent. "I was practicing my form."

"Of course," Tim says, and tugs the -- vintage, now that
he's looking -- batarang free. "Is it really that simple? The
last time I checked, you weren't wearing fishnets."

Oracle doesn't answer him right away, instead rolling
herself over to one particular 'closet.' There is a real closet
behind the door, it's just that the hidden panel in the back
leads to a rather more extensive -- and thoroughly stocked --
storage area.

"I thought Batgirl kept most of her things in that... other

"*Batgirl* doesn't keep anything, Tim. Batman and Oracle,
on the other hand..."

"Ah. I..."

"You didn't think I was going to try to dress you in Dinah or
Helena's clothes, did you? I've never been a fan of farce."

"I *am* good at walking in heels, you know. The height
difference doesn't have to be intensely obvious --"

"Which is why you wore those darling little flats on all of
your dates with Bruce Wayne."

Tim crosses his arms over his chest. "There was no need to
be uncomfortable."

"You know," she says, pressing a button that lowers the
patch of floor beneath Batgirl's formalwear disguise rack --
though not the patch beneath Oracle's actual chair, "I seem
to recall a Boy Wonder who would've said something closer
to 'any more uncomfortable.'"

"You recall a Boy Wonder," Tim says, as easily as he can.

"And if that was all it is..."


"You know... don't take this the wrong way, Tim, but when
it comes right down to it?"

"Yes?" The dress Oracle eventually pulls down is somewhat
excitingly gold, which makes it a curious choice for Batgirl,
but -- he has to admit -- will probably look... good. On

"I knew before I ever let myself get involved with Dick that
he shouldn't really be getting involved with anyone. But...
it's starting to become really clear to me that this isn't --
entirely -- his fault."

"No," Tim says, and starts to strip. "It isn't."


His hairstyle is as ambiguous as it ever was -- Alfred had
been remarkably unwilling to settle on a wig, considering
the dozens he had available -- to the point where the limo
driver felt the need to point out that 'she' would be even
more beautiful if she let her hair grow out.

"You ladies today -- you don't understand what *glamour*

"I'm... sure."

"And see, you obviously know how to dress -- that Wayne
fella's gonna be *glad* to see you --"

"One hopes."

"-- but you shouldn't, you know, disdain what *God* gave
you, you know?"

Tim crosses his legs, doing his best not to get distracted by
the whisper of silk on silk -- had Oracle really expected
Batgirl to do anything with these stockings but destroy
them within seconds? -- and smiles like Janet Haywood.
"I'll try to remember that."

The laugh Tim gets in return is surprisingly open and
pleased. "And maybe sometime I'll pick you up with my
daughter and you can tell *her* to listen to her old man? I
swear, she'd go around barefoot and in a sack if I let her."

Tim bites the inside of his cheek gently. "Perhaps she's
merely... finding her own way."

"Aww, I know, I know what they say. But you'd never
realize how pretty she is to look at her old man. She
oughtta shine, is all."

Tim stretches his toes. They feel ludicrously exposed in the
sandals Barbara had found for him. "Someone once told
me no woman is more beautiful than a happy one."

This time, the driver laughs *and* looks, staring into the
somewhat wider than standard rearview mirror until Tim
meets his eyes.

"All right. Bruce told me that," he says. Loudly, teasingly,
and only slightly falsely -- but entirely for their audience of
socialites, paparazzi, and society 'reporters' -- one of
whom had been the first to tease about a marriage. The
laugh in his voice is 'Brucie's,' as filtered through Barbara

"Is that what you're doing tonight, ma'am? Finding a little

"Bringing some, I hope," Tim says.

The driver stares for long enough to make Tim wonder if
he plans on watching the dark and winding roads to Wayne
Manor, at all.

Tim raises an eyebrow like... like himself.

"Maybe it's not my place, ma'am, but..."

The expression that's on Tim's face now, he knows, is a
somewhat dangerous one. It belongs on Robin, and Robin
isn't invited, tonight.

And the laugh in the driver's voice is quiet, low, and aimed
at the road ahead of them. "Right, never mind."


The car was, of course, noted by any number of surveillance
and security cameras as soon as it pulled onto the private
roads leading to the drive.

Tim isn't especially surprised to find Alfred waiting on the
doorstep when the driver helps him from the car. It's
Alfred, and --

"Ah, Miss Janet. I'd feared we wouldn't see you again." It's
Alfred, and there's no message in his eyes other than
welcome, and he takes Tim's light wrap with nothing but
the expected grace and courtesy.

There's no room here for him to do anything -- *be*
anything -- but... this. And so he keeps his smile and voice
light. "I had reason to believe I might be welcome."

"Could there truly be any doubt?"

And that... he can't help it. He's known since the Fairchild
business that looking to Alfred for answers about Bruce
had, at best, limited chances for any real success, but...

But Alfred is as blankly professional as he should be, for
any of Bruce's... girlfriends.

Tim squares his shoulders -- internally. "And where can I
find Master Bruce, tonight?"

"You may find Master Bruce in the study, Miss Janet. I
believe you know the way...?"

Tim -- doesn't bite the inside of his cheek. "Yes, Alfred.
Thank you."

"Very good, madam. If you'll excuse me, I will find a place
for your wrap and open a bottle of wine to breathe."

"I -- I'm not sure..." If Bruce really wants this. "... if I'll be
staying long."

"Truly, Miss Janet?" Alfred raises an eyebrow. "That would
be a tragedy."

"I --"

"Still, one must be prepared for *any* eventuality. If I may
take my leave?"

Tim nods. Perhaps Alfred will provide some gentle,
fast-acting poisons with which to coat their glasses, should
things go awry.

And... it's strange to be in the manor like this. It's -- no.

It's strange to be in the manor like this without *Bruce*.
Without a hand placed firmly at the base of his spine,
without leave -- however unofficial and unspoken outside
of Bruce's eyes -- to begin stripping away the layers of
illusion to reveal...

Something like himself.

He's here to lie, for the first time since he'd walked in with
Dick nearly four years ago, and somehow it doesn't matter
that *this* is a lie for which he has at least some degree
of approval. It's --

He shouldn't be here.

He definitely shouldn't be opening the door to the study
(there's a fire, very neat -- Alfred, the curtains are drawn
back to reveal the night -- also Alfred, the smell from the
carafe suggests decidedly caffeinated coffee -- Bruce) and
walking in, and he shouldn't be taking the sight of the back
of Bruce's neck as a reason to clear his throat -- lightly.

He should be taking it as the opportunity to end this, as the
chance for plausible deniability it is, even though Bruce
would've heard the sound of his low, sensible heels -- the
most practical thing about the strappy nothings of the
sandals on his feet, even though Bruce knows the sound
of his walk, the precise tread --

("You're one of the few people I've ever known who moves
more naturally when silent.")

And Bruce is standing, and it only seems as though there's
still time for -- anything. It's yet another illusion, this time
perpetrated by some of the most painfully useless parts of
himself -- Bruce is not, truly, turning in slow motion.

Perhaps if were breathing, still, it wouldn't seem so
tortuously slow.

It doesn't get any faster once Bruce is looking at him,
because then there's his *expression* to contend with. No
hope to be crushed -- that would both be horrible and
ludicrously out of character. Just...

Just that seem bleak *stare*, and this time there's no cowl
to soften it. That same...

Tim doesn't trust himself to know what it is.

And Bruce is failing to show any signs of saying -- anything,
but then...

It's not really his responsibility to. Yet.

Tim clears his throat again, and catches himself raising his
chin, slightly, but he can't really check the movement
without giving his body permission to make any of the
dozen or so other pointless and desperately telling things it
wants to do. No. The only question here is how to begin,
and then to stay or leave accordingly --


The only question here is how to begin so as to best ensure
he doesn't have to go anywhere, yet. And that's not really a
question at all.

"Bruce," he says, in his own voice. "I know this is, at best,
imperfect, but..." Trailing off makes him wince, internally --
Bruce has to interrupt him. Bruce has to see the -- he's
being so *fucking* obvious.

But he doesn't say anything.

Tim takes a breath, and wishes for (the cape) his wrap to
hide the shakiness of it. "I thought I might... visit. For a
little while."

And the fact that Bruce makes a sound like someone's hit
him is the only warning other than the way he can feel
himself flushing that he's changed his voice again. Dammit --

"Or I could --" It's still not his own voice, and now he's
*blushing*, but at least he can keep from biting his lip.
"It's up to you," he finishes, lame and somewhat hoarse.

Bruce just keeps staring --

Bruce is moving, stepping around the chair like someone
who's never been especially graceful, just not in the clumsy
motions of 'Bruce Wayne.' And the grace comes back
 quickly enough.

Certainly before he reaches Tim. Before he reaches out and
cups Tim's cheek with one hand and his bare shoulder with
the other.

"Bruce --"

"Have dinner with me tonight."

He isn't turning his face into Bruce's palm. This isn't -- they
aren't --


Tim can -- almost -- make the way he closes his eyes for a
moment into a plausible blink. "All right."

Bruce... seems inclined to let him get away with it.


There's a certain lack of -- organization to this, though the
fault is as much his own as Bruce's.

For every brief stretch of minutes in which they move
smoothly and easily along the paths of Bruce Wayne's and
Janet Haywood's -- briefly -- interrupted relationship, there

Well, there are other stretches of time.

"I could wish Alfred had known you were coming."


"I have a fondness for this red, but you've always preferred
the whites."

Janet had no such preferences -- none that Bruce should
have any awareness of, in any event. Certainly no
knowledge deserving of the word 'always.'

However, Bruce is failing to meet his eyes -- just as he'd
failed to do over the comment about his fondness for
Alfred's lamb, or the one about Tim's -- never Janet's --
approval of the formal dining hall's decorations.

If there's to be any sort of rhythm to this, any sort of...

He isn't sure. "It's an excellent vintage, of course," he tries.
Truly, every vintage has to be -- if not for the honor of the
Wayne name, then for the fact that Bruce himself will
never drink more than two glasses of any bottle.

The sound Bruce makes is non-committal, and seemingly
directed at his glass.

"Bruce --"

And Tim is cut off by Bruce's look, which is --

It isn't as non-committal as it could be. It's --

It's a smile. "Alfred will almost certainly be displeased if we
let it go -- completely -- to waste. And yet I think I could
be forgiven for requesting something more to... well."

"The lady's tastes?"

Bruce has a way of shifting the -- the only possible word is
'intensity' -- of a glance to make it seem as though he
hadn't truly been looking at you a moment ago. And --

There are other possible rhythms. Tim lets a smile make it
to his eyes which, he has to admit, is nearly reflexive a
response to that particular brand of intensity. "Alfred has
worked very hard --"

"In a number of ways --"

"To instill in me --"

"All of us," Bruce says, and it's several different varieties of
strange not to have a hand on his wrist, or his knee. Or his

Tim takes a moment to deliberately set his glass down
somewhat further away from his place setting than
courtesies would demand. And to look at something other
than Bruce.


"I *am* your guest tonight, Bruce. It would be shameful
not to... look to my needs."

"Hmm," Bruce says, and covers one of Tim's hands --
lightly -- with one of his own. "I won't be shamed in my
father's house."

He uses his other hand to ring the small silver bell.


He's had two and a half glasses of wine. More than his
self-imposed limit for a night in which he plans to patrol
by two glasses, but he'd been having wine with dinner
with his parents since before... everything, really.

Bruce knows this, of course.

Just as Tim knows Bruce's own two and a half glasses are
equally beyond *his* self-imposed limitations... and
perhaps for better reasons.

Asceticism has its effects.

Still, if Bruce were actually drunk, Tim might have won this
chess game -- or at least taken longer than forty-five
minutes to lose.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the
decidedly too-small-for-regulation size of the chess table in
the study, or the way in which...

Bruce hasn't looked away from him for longer than a few
moments at a time since they were still having dinner.

Dessert had been served here, in the study, and had been
an exercise in willing himself not to do anything particularly
lascivious with the silver -- whether or not Janet would.
And --

It's nearly time for patrol, judging by the quality of the
darkness beyond the warmth of the study, and the tension
in Bruce's shoulders. It doesn't matter --

It shouldn't matter that Tim knows, full well, that all he
needs to do is alter his voice just a little bit more the next
time he says Bruce's name in order to give himself -- to
give both of them -- more time.

Janet doesn't need to go anywhere in particular tonight,
after all.

"Would you like more coffee?"

And there's no trace of Batman in Bruce's voice. But -- it's
not the point. "I've had enough, I think. Any more and I'll
find... work to be somewhat uncomfortable tonight."

The queen in Bruce's fingers twitches, just slightly.

Tim's knee is cold where Bruce's other hand isn't resting.
His --

His knee. His face. The small of his back. His ankles. His --

His *face*, where he's flushing too much again, and --

"Alfred has always been of the opinion that late hours were
detrimental to one's health."

Tim watches the queen in Bruce's hand. "And, perhaps, to
one's social calendar?"

"Perhaps," Bruce says, but...

The queen is steady. And this -- this was what he'd come
for. He hadn't expected -- This is *everything* he'd come
for, and more. Certainly, Bruce is somewhat less likely,
now, to call him away from the Birds on some... whim. He
was missed, he'd appeared, and... it's time to go.

Tim stands, focusing on the floor, because he can feel
Bruce's gaze on him, on every part of him that Oracle had
helped hide or disguise, on every --

It's easier to look at the floor. "It's time for me to --"

"I'll walk you to the door. Alfred will... Alfred can drive you
back to the city."

Tim nods -- mostly for the benefit of the bookcases behind
Bruce -- and turns for the door. And stops, because Bruce's
hand is on the small of his back again.

The fact that Tim doesn't make a sound is entirely due to
the fact that he hadn't had quite enough air in his lungs.
They both -- they both know that.


"A guest deserves a proper escort..."

There's a name which wasn't spoken at the end of that
sentence, but Tim frankly has no idea which one it was.
It's enough to nod, and offer Bruce his arm.

It takes much too long to make it outside again, and
there's -- there isn't enough of a breeze, because Bruce
isn't wearing any cologne -- he never does, unless he has
to be somewhere as Bruce Wayne -- and Tim can smell...

He knows that scent, and there had been --

There shouldn't have been enough occasions where he'd
wound up with his face pressed to some scarred and
warm-sweaty patch of Bruce's skin for it to feel like
denying himself air not to press closer *now*, but there
were. And he --

"You're wearing the perfume I bought you."

There's no grace in his attempt to pull his arm away from
Bruce, and less point. He's not getting anywhere without a
nerve strike. "Bruce --"

"You..." The breath Bruce takes is ragged and hoarse, and
Bruce isn't *looking* at him --

"Bruce, let me --"

And Tim winces, because the grip on his arm goes from
unbreakable to somewhat painful. And then -- and then
he isn't sure what expression is on his face, because
Bruce's nose is pressed to the skin behind and beneath
his ear, and the unbreakable grip has shifted to Tim's
wrists -- currently held between their bodies -- and
Bruce --

"Bruce -- you -- please --"

"Is it part of the illusion? Part of the -- your *gift* to me to
ease your absence? Your -- you'd let me place the scent
on you myself. You'd let me take my time at it, even as
you mocked me for my --"

"Animalistic... tendencies, yes, Bruce, this -- I'm not asking
you --"

"For *anything*," and Bruce's voice has deteriorated into
a growl, into --

("Striking, yes -- *distracting* -- so very beautiful, so very --

"We both knew I had simply found a socially *acceptable*
way to parade my desire to mark my territory... didn't we?"

He -- he hadn't expected to laugh tonight. He doesn't really
have a choice. "The alternatives were all a little bit
problematic, Bruce."

"Hmm, I..." And Bruce loosens his grip, but his exhale
makes it impossible to take immediate advantage. "Tim."

"Bruce, please. You have to -- I need to *leave* --"

"I believe... I think I'm supposed to believe that the Chanel
no. 22 is simply your attempt to make yourself as perfectly
'Janet' as possible. And yet..."

He could break the hold. It's -- it's not a hold. It's Bruce
stroking Tim's wrists with his thumbs and nuzzling his
ear and all the skin around it Bruce had been so assiduous
about exploring the sensitivity of. And Tim feels himself
closing his eyes. "Bruce. I -- please. Please."

The kiss is soft, wet, brief, and -- probably not, actually,

No matter what sound he's making.

"And yet, Tim, I can't help but remember how this -- how
we -- began. I can't stop myself from hoping I've been
forgiven, to at least some degree -- Tim."

And it's the tone of Bruce's voice when he says Tim's name,
more than anything else, which lets him know that he had,
finally, shoved away. He doesn't stumble. He doesn't -- he
doesn't fucking hug himself. There's -- there's not going to
be a car until Bruce steps back inside to press the little
button which will summon Alfred out of plausible deniability
and the garage. There isn't. There won't.

He has a moment to be shocked at managing to block
Bruce's reach for him without thinking, and another to be
shocked that he did.

"Bruce -- I don't -- I didn't mean."

"Tell me, Tim."

It's not Bruce's voice. It *is* -- an order. They've been...

They've been *idiots*, but this is, at least, still salvageable.

"There's nothing to forgive, Bruce. There isn't -- we *also*
both knew that there were... extenuating circumstances
behind our involvement --"

"Your talent for euphemism remains endlessly diverting."

Tim covers his face with his hands, just for a moment. It's
a deliberate choice, as the alternative would be slipping
into a ready-stance and daring Bruce to just beat him

He's reasonably sure that wouldn't go well at all.


"I'm listening."

The 'for now' is unspoken and as uncomfortably present as
the erection making the clever little gaff he'd acquired while
still in Bludhaven. Tim forces himself to look Bruce in the
eyes. "There's -- there's nothing to *forgive*. You said you
missed me, and this -- this is something we can do,
something we can still have, but it has to be..."

"Limited, Tim?"

"How -- how is that even a *question*? You wouldn't even
look at me --"

He's cut off by the quiet, deadly sound of Bruce's hands
closing into fists, but --

It shouldn't feel the same to kiss Bruce. To *be* kissed.
The breasts being crushed against his chest are filled with
saline. The hand on his hip is cupping bone more than
anything else. The hand on his face is more than sensitive
enough to note incipient stubble, should it move instead
of simply holding him still.

And the sound he just made was in a register Janet
Haywood couldn't achieve. However --

However, none of those things will let him stop sucking
Bruce's tongue, and the fact that he isn't clutching Bruce's
shoulders has far more to do with the fact that his hands
are spasming with painfully obvious clumsiness than with
anything resembling control.

And then his back is to the massive oak door, and Bruce
is pulling out of the kiss and the moan he can't hold in is
echoing in the *night*.

And Bruce is kissing him again, and cupping his *ass*, and
he can't jerk his hips and the gaff is going to injure him
and it's --

"Bruce, fuck --" It's the right voice. It's the right voice, and
he shouldn't *be* here. "Please, Bruce, I can't --"

He can't do anything but stand on his toes in the
ridiculous sandals and whimper into Bruce's mouth, and
his hands are -- God, he's pushing Bruce away -- he's trying
to, and he should be grateful for that, he has to be grateful
for it, but when it finally works, he's still on his toes and

But he doesn't have to be. He... "This is -- this was for
*you*, Bruce --"

"Not for you?"

"For -- Bruce, you have to -- I can't -- I can't keep this

Bruce's fingers aren't on his mouth for long enough. He --
it's a tease of callus and heat and the smell of salt, and
Tim's mouth is watering, but --

But he can swallow, and he has -- again -- every right to
keep his eyes closed. "I can't. Keep this. Up."

"Can't you? You've learned so *much* of deception --"

"*Dammit*, Bruce --"

"And it's so much easier," he says, and the tease has moved
to Tim's throat, and the broad gold ribbon hiding his
Adam's apple from casual observers. "It's so *much* easier
when the target wishes to be deceived. Isn't it?"

He hears himself stop breathing more than he can feel it.
He can't feel -- there's a lot, right now, he isn't letting
himself feel. Which means he can open his eyes again.

Bruce looks...

There's a temptation to pretend he can't understand what's
in Bruce's eyes, or, at the very least, to pretend he's
missing *some* of it. Perhaps the anger, perhaps the
hunger. Perhaps the thin little mockery of amusement which
doesn't get any less awful for the fact that he knows it's in
his own eyes, as well.

They haven't been able to pretend they don't understand
each other since Tim was *fifteen*, after all.

This laugh -- doesn't feel unexpected at all. "Then the
*target*... should let me turn around."

Bruce's eyes narrow, and his nostrils flare.

"Some deceptions... are easier from the back."


Time is failing to move in anything like a sensible way.

There wasn't any gap of time that *Tim* could feel between
staring into Bruce's eyes and catching himself just barely
fast enough to avoid cracking his nose painfully against the
door, just as there wasn't any gap of time between that
moment and feeling Batgirl's pretty gold dress shoved up
over his hips.

On the other hand, Bruce has been playing -- toying with --
the garters holding Tim's stockings up for approximately a

At least long enough to make Tim consider, and reconsider,
and reconsider again --

Bruce presses his palms flat to Tim's thighs and drags them
up, slow and hard, until they're cupping his ass.

-- no matter how pointless it is to do so. He's not going
anywhere. Tim presses his forehead to the door, spreads
his legs, and -- whimpers. Again. It's the gaff, it's the fact
that the panties *are* the gaff, because Dick liked the
look, it's the fact that Bruce is feeling him up on the
*doorstep* of Wayne fucking Manor, it's --

It's the *squeeze*, and the fact that he can't see anything,
can't *know* anything but what he already knows about
himself --

And what it will apparently *always* do to him when Bruce
exhales low and rough and damp against the back of his

Tim bites his lip -- and focuses. "Bruce," he says in Janet's
voice, "this is the sort of thing which gives you such a
*questionable* reputation --"

It should be a victory, of some sort, that the brief shout
that comes out of his mouth when Bruce drags his teeth
over the back of his neck is so perfectly, plausibly *high*.

It's just that calling something like that a victory, at this
point, would be akin to congratulating himself for having a
functional autonomic nervous system --

"T -- *Janet* --"

-- and the ability to bite his own tongue to keep from
groaning, to keep from saying *anything* to that, or to
the feel of the panties sliding down over his ass -- and
down to his ankles. On the one hand, it makes... things
all the more obvious. Or would, if his legs were somewhat
more spread, or if Bruce pushed his hand --


There's no reason to try to repress the shiver. There's --
Janet wouldn't even think about it. Janet would -- Tim
reaches back to stroke Bruce's hand, to press it against his
skin, to *encourage* -- and to *discourage*. The illusion
doesn't have to be broken. Not -- not yet.

Ultimately, there's nothing particularly special or even outré
about any of this. It's Bruce, and his hands are massive
and --

His hands are strong and hard and *male* on Tim's hips,
and leaking like this just means that it won't be very long
until he's just that --

"Beautiful," Bruce says -- *groans* -- and drops to his
knees, and there's a part of Tim screaming 'too close, too
fucking *close*,' but that's not what makes him let the
sound *out*.

That's --

That's Bruce's thumbs on his ass, and the fact that Tim
can't tense enough to keep from being spread -- not once
he has to admit to himself that it's what Bruce *wants*. He
can't --

It's something of a relief to be distracted from the damning
relief of the swing of his balls when he finally does spread
his legs by the slow, vicious swipe of Bruce's tongue in his

It's just --

It's just that --

Bruce is panting and *growling* while he licks, and his
tongue is -- his tongue is exactly the same as it's ever
been, his tongue is --

"Bruce --"

His tongue is *in* him, and they'd done this, but only once,
only -- Bruce had woken him *up* this way, just once,
just --

Just to make Tim spread his legs and beg before he was
awake enough to catch himself, and then Bruce had been
inside him, over him --

Bruce is still on his knees. Bruce is holding his hips and --

Bruce is pulling on his hips, making Tim buck, making
Tim's knees *shake* --

"I've got you," Bruce says, and it's thick and wet like his
tongue, it's low and rough and wrong, so fucking wrong
that Tim has to dig his short nails into the door to keep
from reaching for himself, because there's no way to make
that motion look anything like what it is, just like there's
no way --

"Fuck me. *Fuck* me -- oh God, ah --"

He knows -- he *knows* Bruce has squeezed his hips just
this hard before --

("If you continue saying things like that, Tim, I'm going to
find it difficult to tease you with any true degree of focus.")

And he knows the ragged and almost brutal rhythm of
Bruce's tongue, too. It's just that Bruce had never lost
quite that much control when it was just --

When it wasn't --

He knows how to make it worse.


Bruce's teeth scrape a little along his cleft, but it's Bruce's
groan which makes Tim lose the ability to keep his balance
in the sandals. His left foot slips, and --

And nothing, because Bruce has no problem holding his
weight, no problem holding him *still*, and he doesn't
want to -- he doesn't --

"Please, please, Bruce --"

Bruce *shoves* his tongue in and tightens his grip even
more and Tim's not going to have control over his voice for
much longer. He has to --

"In -- inside me -- don't -- don't fucking *tease* me,
Bruce --"

And Bruce actually *lifts* him off the ground entirely,
shoving Tim against the door, and Tim's cheekbone is
going to complain, later, but a part of his mind wants him to
remember the deceptive qualities of blush, wants him to
remember --

("Alfred always told me I could use a hobby. Making you
look like *this*... seems like a reasonable one to choose.")

Wants --

And then Bruce is standing again, breathing down his neck
again, nuzzling him with his wet mouth and stroking Tim's
hips, stroking down to his thighs, snapping the fucking
*garters* --


"Oh -- *fuck*."

It's another lie. Another -- another fucking layer of
deception. Those aren't Batman's fingers sliding up under
his borrowed, hiked-up dress. That isn't Batman's tongue
flicking over the back of Tim's neck. That -- that doesn't

"You're wearing your -- your belt. Under your shirt." He
always is. You never *know* --

"The lubricant. Your thinking is ever *acute*, Robin --"

"D -- don't -- oh *God* --"

Janet's allowed to have suck-marks on her throat. Robin
has a very high collar. Batman wouldn't -- isn't --

Bruce doesn't *want* this, but --

Tim does.

And Tim might not have anything resembling Robin's grace
when he reaches back behind himself and scrabbles for
the buttons on Bruce's shirt, but Janet wouldn't, either.
Janet's been wet for hours, Janet thinks Bruce is an
asshole for making her wait like this, for pretending he
doesn't want this just this much, doesn't need this, need
*her* --

("I missed you.")

This is what Janet *came* for -- every ragged little breath
making it utterly pointless that he -- *she* can't see Bruce's
face, because Bruce doesn't have anything to hide --

("In the interests of full disclosure...")

No. Bruce can't hide *anything* from -- them -- and so he
doesn't have to get Bruce's shirt open.

All he has to do is reach *down*, grab hold of all that
beastly male anatomy, and never mind the way his own is
making messy spatters on his abdomen and the dress and the
door --

Because he doesn't have time to do more than *squeeze*
before Bruce is knocking his hand aside and --

Those tiny sounds are buttons bouncing on the pavement,
and that louder one is a zipper getting ripped off its track --

Every wordless little *grunt*, every touch which goes from
hesitant to painful to hungry, every --

Every moment where Tim can either hold his breath or
make entirely wrong sounds, because Bruce's fingers aren't
slick enough to --

Bruce's fingers couldn't ever be slick enough not to feel
exactly like themselves. Just that big, just that *hard*,
just --

("You'll tell me when to stop --")

"Oh -- *oh* --"

("Or you'll continue to allow me the gratifying belief that I
need do no such... thing, Tim --")

"D-don't -- don't stop, Bruce, don't --"

He's shuddering before he realizes that growl wasn't Bruce's
own, that it was too high and nowhere near high enough,
nowhere --

"Sorry, I --"

"*Tim*," and Bruce isn't preparing him so much as fucking
him, taking -- driving in --

"Wait -- w-wait, my voice --"

And screaming ought to be better, even outside, even like
this, where anyone could see, anyone could know -- his
voice --

His fucking --

"Wait -- you have to -- I need --"

"You *don't*," and Bruce crooks his fingers again, Bruce --

"Oh fuck, *please* --"

"You want this. *You* do."

Ultimately, this shouldn't be as perfect, he shouldn't *be*
like this, they'd only -- it had been *better* when Bruce
was doing this to his vagina, but it's possible he's just
wanted this for too long -- wanted --

It doesn't help anything to knock his head against the door,
but it's better than what he's doing with his hips, than what
he's doing with his fucking *traitor* of a right hand, and
he'd wanted -- he'd *wanted* --

"Tim, say it -- tell me --"

Just this melting pain, just this heat, just this impossible
*want* that's going to grind him down to nothing. What
he needs, yes, and what he *wants*, what Bruce shouldn't
have ever --

And there's definitely some benefit in having Bruce spread
his fingers inside Tim enough to make Tim's eyes roll back
in his head, enough to make him edge closer to losing his
balance again -- he can't feel the ground, he can't feel
anything but the way he has to look, right now, reaching
under his stained dress to jerk himself off, to --

"Tim, *please*."

And shoving back onto Bruce's fingers again, again, and if
he doesn't have enough air he can't say a word, he
can't --

He can't do anything but *whimper* when Bruce pulls out,
he can't fucking stop jerking himself, he's too close, he's
too --

He can absolutely stop, actually. All that has to happen is
Bruce closing his hand around Tim's wrist. "I --" Clearing
his throat doesn't help.

And nothing helps when Bruce squeezes his wrist and
presses his *dick* against Tim's hole. "Tim."

Tim hears himself moan, low and awful and not brief
enough. "Bruce. Please."

"No," Bruce says, and pushes in.

And covers Tim's hand, instead.


There is, at least, a certain freedom inherent to being
fucked against a door by your former partner, former
mentor, former God-help-them lover, and current...

"I *missed* you --"

Current 'something.' It's a freedom to curse, a freedom to
groan, a freedom to shove himself back on Bruce's dick
and forward into his -- their -- hands.

"Needed you --"

It's not a freedom that allows enough of a shift in position
to *see* the way Bruce's fingers are twined with his own,
to watch them touching --

"You knew I needed you, you -- you came to me --"

He doesn't need to see anything. It's a freedom which
demands one closes one's eyes and --

"You *always* -- you won't ever *let* me be alone, you --
Tim, please --"

"B -- Batman --"

It's a freedom to say every damning thing which wants to
spill out of his mouth, because it only makes Bruce go
faster, it only makes this a little bit painful, a little --

It means it's perfect, even though it has no right to be
anything -- anything of the kind --

"For just -- just one moment you trusted me again --"

"Batman, *please* --"

"I'll have that again, Tim."

"Oh -- *fuck* --"

Harder now. Harder --

"More -- *more* --"

"Say 'yes.'"

"Don't -- please don't stop, please --"

"I'll do *anything* to have that -- again --"

It's a freedom to moan like something animal and weakly,
pathetically male, and to be entirely unable to do anything
other than come all over Bruce's fingers.


And to just keep moaning, because Bruce doesn't stop until
he's gotten Tim's thighs wet and sticky again, wet and
obvious, *wet* --

Bruce doesn't stop until Tim starts to whimper, again. And

Then it's less a matter of stopping than of using his less
sticky hand to hold Tim steady by the hip and pulling out.

"Oh -- *God*." Freedom is eroding rapidly. Freedom is --

No better an illusion than anything else he's managed
tonight. However, one of the first lessons Bruce had taught
him once they'd moved beyond simple conditioning and
maintenance was that balance was often a question of

His knees are shaking again, but he isn't, actually,
physically exhausted.

He can't feel his feet -- or any part of his body which isn't
aching and messy -- but he can see them on the ground,
and he can see the ground isn't tilting in any way. He
doesn't need the door to stand up.

He doesn't need to be facing in *this* direction -- as a
matter of fact, the sooner he turns around, the sooner he
can get *out* of here, and bury himself in patrol, the
Clocktower, whatever -- doubtless blissfully technical --
task Oracle wouldn't even try to give to Canary or Huntress
unless she were both desperate and bored.

The dress won't stand up to close examination any more
than he will, but it falls --

It will fall better once he retrieves the gaff, though the
idea of putting them on again is more than a little
distressing -- in several different distressingly emotional

Of course, the point will be moot if he can't *find* them,
and --


"Just -- a moment --"

Bruce's hand is on his shoulder. And Bruce's other hand...

Bruce is holding Tim's gaff in the hand which is still slick
and sticky with Tim's come, which would be more than
enough excuse for the ways in which Tim can feel himself
failing to process efficiently -- given the more recent
definitions of 'valid excuse' he's come up with -- but there
are other things to be considered.

Like the fact that Bruce's shirt is ripped open from the
sternum down, still exposing the smaller, auxiliary belt. And
his pants are...

Perhaps 'considered' would be the better way to phrase
that within the confines of his own mind. "Bruce..."

It's a little like watching a cobra, though perhaps a bit more
lingerie-intensive than one might expect. Bruce never
actually takes his gaze off Tim, even when Tim's gaff is
doing an excellent job of hiding the lower half of Bruce's

Perhaps he'd be more able to deal with this if the one he'd
chosen weren't a rather shiny black to match his stockings.
(And the least... exuberant one Dick had let him leave the
store with.) As it is... it's the sticky and pornographic
opposite of the cowl, and Tim doesn't really have anything
to offer but his own -- doubtlessly staggeringly *dim* --

Bruce's eyes are offering a very particular smile.

"Not a scent I've had very much opportunity to examine --"

"You should. Let me have that back."

"-- which suggests that the degree to which your attraction
to *me* was at least some variety of new..." Bruce takes a
loud, deep breath. "Well."

The dress is silk, light, and utterly useless in terms of hiding
the twitch of his dick.

And the fact that Bruce never actually looks down --

They both know that... they both know. "You've made --"

"How uncomfortable was this to wear, once you became

Tim bites the inside of his cheek and moves his hands
behind his back to keep from --

"I have some thoughts about design, should you be...

He clenches his hands into fists. Bruce's voice is muffled
by the *material*. "I'm sure... I'm sure you and Alfred
could be extremely helpful. In this regard."

And Bruce takes a step closer and finally, finally, takes
Tim's gaff away from his face.

It's just that reaching for them would involve letting his
own hands be free enough to do that. He knows he
wouldn't be reaching for the gaff at all.

"Was the discomfort part of the appeal --"


Bruce raises an eyebrow, and...

And letting the smile make it onto his face isn't anywhere
close to the worse thing Tim's done tonight. "Not at first."

"Hmm," and Bruce's free hand is on Tim's face, cupping
his cheek -- ("I missed you.")



"You've made -- your point."

"Have I?"

They both know exactly what will happen if Bruce's thumb
gets any closer to Tim's mouth, just as they both know
Bruce will just get *closer* if Tim makes any sort of move
which would suggest that he's attempting to convince --
anyone -- that he truly wants to back away. Stillness is the
best option, despite the inevitable subtext of acceptance.
"You have. You've never let anything as petty as personal
distaste stop you from doing what you felt... needed to be

The smile in Bruce's eyes gets that much -- of course the
intensity wouldn't be lessened by the fact that the
expression is well over half-shadowed. Half-*hidden*. "I'd
like to explore your definition of 'necessary.'"

"Bruce --"

"I wouldn't have expected it to include quite this much
semi-public sexual activity."

"Not even with you? I -- fuck --"

And Bruce's thumb is *just* below his lower lip. "I'm willing
to compromise, Tim --"

"This -- isn't the sort of thing one *can* compromise -- I."
Bruce's thumb is a light drag on his lower lip. Too light to
explain or excuse the way Tim's mouth is falling open.

("Ah -- Tim -- yes... yes, I suppose turnabout is more than --
fair -- your *mouth* --")

"This -- Bruce --"

"Then perhaps I merely needed time to reevaluate my
priorities against my -- needs."

No. Just --

"Forgive me."

"Bruce --"

"Or just... come inside with me."

Tim's reaching for the small, discreet, gold necklace which --
he's not wearing.

It wouldn't have gone with the dress.

It's in his handbag, which is --

Bruce pulls it out of the pocket of his jacket. How it wound
up there... is a question which, to his brain, is less
important than the fact that Bruce is replacing it with his

Tim shakes his head -- *mostly* for his own benefit and
slips the necklace out of the small, hidden pocket.


"I could say something about how powerful the mic is in
that necklace, but I won't."

Tim winces, and tries and fails to repress the urge to cover
his left, studded ear. "It appears that I'm going to be late,

"Your probationary period is leaving a lot to be desired,

"I --"

"Don't worry. You'll work it off."

"That's... reassuring."

"In time."

When he tucks the necklace away, Bruce covers his hand --
and tugs at the handbag.

"You're not planning on putting it back in that pocket, are

"I'm planning," Bruce says, "to give you entirely other
things to do with your hands."


There's a mirror in the foyer, positioned perfectly for
arriving -- or leaving -- guests to make final adjustments to
their attire.

The small end-table in front of it is positioned perfectly for
other things, none of which Tim would've predicted, had
anyone asked.

One of the things Bruce apparently wants him to do with
his hands is brace himself firmly, and thus give him leave
to have one hand on Tim's hip and the other in Tim's
*hair* --

"Have you considered... piercing the other ear?"

"Oh -- *fuck*, Bruce --"

"Just -- a thought --"

If he keeps biting his lip, even the sixteen hour lipstick will

However, considering the fact that this is the last complete
sentence he manages to think before Bruce moves his
hand from Tim's hair to his simulation of a breast and lifts
him back onto his feet -- his *toes*, with every thrust --

Considering the hand on his dick --

In the mirror --

In --


Perhaps the lipstick is somewhat beside the point.


"You smell like a cathouse."

As greetings go, it's probably the one he deserves the
most -- Black Canary has been waiting to be relieved on
this surveillance for the better part of two hours.

"Or maybe a doghouse."

"I --"

Black Canary is one of the few people who has smiles
explicitly designed to make other people shut up.

She's quite good at them.

"You know, Robin... I used to tell Oracle we needed some
testosterone around to *reduce* the drama."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Stereotypes are dangerous,

She snickers and stands, moving to the far side of the roof.
"Somewhere, a certain archer is laughing his ass off."

Almost certainly. Still. "One could hope he doesn't know
*why* he's laughing."

"Well, everyone always *says* Robins are about hope," she

Oh -- God. "Canary --"

"Later, *sis*," she says, and leaps.


It had taken a fair amount of effort to convince his parents
that he almost certainly wouldn't be picking up any more
nasty diseases in San Francisco.

It had taken rather more effort not to laugh himself
unconscious watching his father try very, very hard to
avoid saying anything which sounded remotely homophobic,

It was a good decision on Tim's part, he thinks, to be
wearing entirely male clothes during that conversation, no
matter how much easier it's gotten to wear the training
bras since Oracle had padded the straps and side-elastic
on all of the ones he'd taken to leaving at the Clocktower.

Still, at the moment, he's not sure if all the effort had
been -- entirely -- worth it.

"Okay, so I'm totally following you on the gay thing -- I'm
on board with that. Like, totally."

Tim stares up at the sky and counts to ten, internally.
"That's good to know, Kon."

"I mean -- uh. Really. On board."

Tim blinks.

"Like... um. There's a board, and I'm on it. Really."


"Just -- okay, when you said you would've... helped. You
would've helped. A lot. Right?"

"I -- you know I'm... involved. With someone."

The look Kon gives him is -- it's really a look.

"I mean, I... I'm attracted to you."

"And I'm with Cassie and we're not -- I mean, I wouldn't,
and I know you wouldn't, seriously, I just -- uh."

Tim raises an eyebrow behind the mask. "Really."

Kon grins at him. "I'm just saying -- *rain check*, dude."

There's a serious temptation -- and no reason not to
indulge in it. Tim grins. "Noted."

"Heh. It's like having a booty call in the bank."

"That's an interesting version of banking."

Kon laughs and flies up a few feet -- and circles Tim just
fast enough to blow his cape back over his shoulders. "It's
the *good* version of banking."

"The kind which involves 'booty.'"

"Okay, so you're so not allowed to use slang. Like, ever,

"I believe that's a form of 'cockblocking,' Kon."

"Oh, dude, *ow* --"

"'Cockblocking,' little brother?"

The fact that Kon whirls in the sky fast enough to send
Tim's cape flapping probably isn't enough to hide the fact
that he'd just stiffened. Not from Dick, anyway. Still...

Still, Dick is there, visible at first only by the gleam of his
smile, then the stripe, then the rest of him -- in a shifting
blend of shadows and light.

"Uh -- hey, Nightwing."

Dick turns the smile upward. "Hey, Superboy. Mind if I
borrow Robin for a few?"

Kon shoots him a questioning look that he can't even begin
to answer. However, the fact that Dick has *both* hands on
Tim's shoulders -- and is standing nearly close enough to
kiss -- probably answers most of the questions.

"Uh -- yeah. Sure. I'll catch you later, man."

The door isn't closed completely before Dick is kissing him --
hard enough that Tim is... more than a little *painfully*
aware of just how much time he'd spent kissing Bruce in
the last couple of days.

("Hmm. Stubble-burn. How... novel.") "Dick, wait --"

"It's already Saturday back home, Tim," he says, and now
his hands are under the cape, and the gauntlets' scrape
over Tim's tunic isn't really as loud as it feels, but the past
several weeks have suggested that, in these matters, logic
rarely applies --

Which isn't enough of an excuse to let Dick continue licking
his tongue. "*Dick* --"

"What secrets are you hiding under the uniform *tonight*,
hmm? I know exactly how many of Robin's new
unmentionables *aren't* being stored at my place."

The padding on the bras make them entirely practical for
wearing beneath his armor, but -- "Nightwing, wait. Please."

Dick nuzzles his way to Tim's ear before sighing. "I know
that 'wait.'"

Tim closes his eyes.

"Is this where I do another little pantomime for you
involving my mask and certain shared..." The laugh is easy
and low. "'Kinks' makes it sound so *normal*."

"For... *certain* definitions of 'normal,' yes, but Dick..."

Dick kisses his ear. "Tell me."

"It's not... it's not just a call. Anymore."

The kiss becomes a -- small -- bite. "Which is something
that I never would've guessed by the way you failed to be
anywhere you were *supposed* to be on the grid for
most of the last two nights."

Tim tenses again. "You were -- looking for me?"

"Casually. I had -- my suspicions."

"Dick, I -- I don't really know what to say."

Dick pulls him close for -- not long enough.

Long enough for Tim to get his own arms around Dick, to
feel him *sigh*, to smell sweat and armor and --

And he doesn't really flinch when Dick pushes him away
again. Armor is good for a lot of things.

"You told me about a week ago that some -- some really
kind of *fucked*-up things also made this -- all of it --
better for you."

Tim nods. "It's still --"

"It's still true. And you're not the only one."

"I don't -- I don't think I know what you mean," he says, as
carefully as he can.

Dick's gauntlet is rough on his face. "You have to realize
that it's kind of a *relief* that B -- that *B* is acting sane
enough to work for you."

"How --" He really isn't going to ask how much Dick knows.
It's just that he doesn't really have to.

"You're *not* me, little brother," Dick says, smiling. "I know
exactly how fast you can move... when something *isn't*
working for you."

"I'm not... I don't -- I don't know if I *am* moving. I can't
even --"

"Make a decision?" The smile gets harder on Dick's face.
"Look, Tim... I'm not going to pretend I understand
everything going on with you right now. I *couldn't*. But
*I* know what feels right, too, and I know what I believe --
about both of us. I know what's *right*. So when it comes
to making a decision..."


"Watch me fail to make *that* any easier on you, Tim."

"I --"

The kiss is quick and light. "You don't have school on
Monday *or* Tuesday. Dana says of *course* you can
come for a visit."

"I -- Jesus, Dick --"

"And I meant everything I said before. Gar's about to vastly
increase my DVD collection, and there's just a *little* crime
to fight back in the 'haven, too."

The fact that he can't *see* Dick winking doesn't have
anything to do with the fact that he knows Dick *is*.

"So... you can spend some time thinking about all these
complicated *things* -- in the comfort of your pretty new
clothes. Or..."

He shouldn't ask. "Or...?"

Dick tugs him a few steps toward the roof-access door
before letting him go and continuing to walk there --
backwards -- himself. "Or you can keep going with what
feels okay, little brother."

"I don't -- I don't think it's supposed to work this way."

"Well, if you really wanted to know *that*, you'd probably
be screwing one of my ex-girlfriends, as opposed to *me*...
and my adoptive father."

"Jesus --"

"Heh. Later, little brother."


"Oracle --"

"Don't even *think* about it, Robin. I know where you've

Tim pinches the bridge of his nose. "I was just going to ask
about my *schedule* for the next few days."

"Hnn. You're no fun. Don't worry -- I'll find something for
you to do."


"Nnnn... hello?"

Steph sounds precisely as asleep as she should be,
considering the fact that she *does* seem to have taken a
break from Spoiler this time. Not that he expects it to last.
"Steph, can I talk to you for a little while?"

"Mm. Always, sweetie."

Which is... well, now he just has to figure out exactly what
he wants to say.

"Also -- mmph. Are you calling from SF?"

Tim smiles. "Not according to any tracers which might
have made it past my latest screen on your phones."

Steph snorts. In the background, Tim can hear her
moving -- she's turning over on her stomach, probably.
"Uh, huh. So what's up?"

"I... I think I mostly just wanted to hear your voice."

"You really are the best gay boyfriend in the world.
Transgendered boyfriend. Gay -- I like you."

Tim laughs and shifts to one side of his bed. He only has a
full-sized one here in the Tower, but that just means if
Steph were here, they'd be pressed together.

"So is this where I chatter about my day? Because I can
totally do that. I went shopping with my mom."

"You hate shopping with your mom."

"Ah, but what you don't understand is how much *better*
it is when a) her birthday is coming up, and b) she has to
get what *I* say, because I'm paying."

Tim closes his eyes. It's always a little strange to think
about after-school jobs which lack ironic single quotes. "An
important distinction, I'm sure."

"Uh, huh. So the ratio of 'painful frumpiness' to 'cool' in
my mom's closet has just dipped *significantly*."

"This is a good thing. And yet."

"Don't you 'and yet' me, Tim, I've got *awesome* taste."

"I'm just worried about how much of your mother's
cleavage I might wind up exposed to in the near future."

"She's got a *great* rack. She should *totally* show it

"Mm. And when men start to hit on her?"

"Then my freaky boyfriend does a nice, thorough
background check."

"Oh, does he?"

"S/he does if he knows what's *good* for him and/or her."

Tim laughs. "Steph, I..."


You're the only thing in my life which has ever made perfect
sense. "I -- it's nothing."

"Mmm. Nothing right back at you, honey."


He finds Bart in the secondary computer room with a stack
of print-outs -- most of which probably represent a grave
security risk.

However, trusting Bart to destroy them when he's done is
really a better decision than trusting Bart to even try to
have the patience to assimilate the information at the speed
of their processors, so Tim resists as much of the urge to
twitch as he can.

"Hey, Robin."

"Kid Flash."

Bart grins at him. "Not getting tired of that anytime soon."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Even subjectively?"

"*Subjectively*... I only get to hear it about once a year."


"So what's up?"

Tim lets himself drop back into a lean -- against the only
un-alarmed entrance to the room. "How much of Kon's
sexuality-related enlightenment do I owe to you?"

"A lot and a little."

Tim smiles. "Feel free to elaborate."

"Well, on the one hand Kon's never really thought about
this kind of stuff much. I mean, there's the Ravers, but that
was a whole 'doesn't really count' thing in his head."


"On the other hand, it's Kon, and it's *you*." Bart does a
credible impression of Tim's own habit of raising an

Tim shows him how it's done.

"Heh. It was really just a matter of figuring out what sort
of context would work best, and then figuring out how to
get Kon to apply it."

"And that was?"

"Making out with him for a while."

Tim snorts.

"Not that it counted beyond, you know, for the sake of

"Of course."


"Yes, Bart?"

"What do I *get* for taking care of this for you?"

Tim considers. In the past, a free pass to consume all the
caffeine and sugar he wanted without getting locked up in
a vibration-proof energy field would've been enough.

Then again... in the past, it would've been entirely possible
to make Bart forget this entire conversation in the time Tim
has spent considering. "One honest answer," he says.

"Oh oh oh -- *damn*. This is like that three wishes trope
in fantasy literature."

Tim grins.

"I -- just one? And not that one because it doesn't count?"

"Just one."

"God, you *suck* -- do you? -- no, that's not the question,

"Should I give you time to consider?"

"No! Yes -- wait."

Tim waits.

"I already know you're hooking up with Nightwing -- Beast
Boy is *loud* and also they were talking for a while last
night -- which means that you're probably -- probably -- not
actually biologically related, even though he calls you 'little
brother' all the time, so..."

Sometimes -- only rarely, but sometimes -- Tim considers
the potential benefits of wearing a cowl. "So?"

"So does it *matter* that you're not blood relatives or are
you both just really kinky?"

The thing is -- Tim's reasonably sure that if Bart had asked
that question before Tim had wound up involved with
Bruce, it would be easier to pick the... easier answer. Then
again, the fact that he hadn't *been* involved with Dick
before then... renders a great number of theories quite
moot. "I'm not entirely sure."

Bart frowns. "That answer is kind of weak."

"It's also honest."

"You -- you really do suck."



"I thought you were -- uh -- headed out tonight?"

"Nightwing had tickets to a concert, yes. He had to cancel.
Bludhaven's a little busy tonight."

"Wait, you were..."

It's kind of desperately amusing to watch Kon try to eye
him in a subtle fashion. It tends to involve him completely
failing to finish a sentence and then focusing approximately
ten times as much noticeable *regard* in his direction.
"Yes, Kon?"

"You were going on a *date* with Nightwing?"

It stops being a silly question when he thinks about it. It
had taken him and Steph the better part of a year to go on
anything resembling a civilian date, after all. Tim closes his
laptop and looks Kon in the eye. "Nightwing and I have
known each other for a long time."

"Well, I know, but... still."


Kon snorts and flops down to the couch, which was brand
new when they all started out, but is rapidly wearing

Tim gives it another two months. Three, if most of them
get sucked into another dimension or something for at
least two weeks.

"I'm just trying to picture it."

"What part is difficult?"

The look Kon gives him is a little narrow.

Tim spreads his hands. "Serious question."

"The part where, like, you and freaking *Nightwing* would
be hanging out in civvies -- were you even going to be
wearing disguises?"

"I hadn't planned on it, no -- Kon, Nightwing actually knows
my *parents*."

"Dude. How does *that* work?"

"I... I have to admit that it always seems a little surreal
when he comes over for dinner."

Kon makes something of a strangled noise.

"Pretty much."

Kon stares at him for another few seconds and then laughs,
shakes his head, and tosses a balled-up piece of paper at
his head.

Tim dodges.

"Seriously, though... I mean, that pretty much has to be the
Holy Grail or something for you Bats, right?"

"'Holy Grail...?'"

"Someone who's allowed to know *everything* about you,
and, like, *be* known --"

"To a certain extent."

Kon waves a hand. "Yeah, well, okay, your parents don't
know you, like, go out and fight crime with the guy..."

Or that we're sleeping together.

"Still, though. I mean... that's kind of awesome, right?"

("Watch me fail to make that *any* easier on you.") "I... it
is, actually."

Kon grins at him. "Cool."


Batman picks him up Sunday evening, precisely on time.

Bruce puts the jet on autopilot, pulls back the cowl, and
raises an eyebrow at him until he raises one back... and
pulls off his domino.

Bruce smiles with his eyes. "I'm tempted to ask if you had
a pleasant weekend --"

"I'm tempted to check the oxygen levels in the plane."

"Hmm. I'm more tempted to see how much of your uniform
I could entice you to remove."

"I've never been especially interested in becoming a
member of the mile-high club."

"I have every intention of staying in my seat."

Tim smiles. "So you just want me to sit here exposed."

"The idea has a certain charm."

"For you."

"For me."

Tim reaches for the collar of his cape... and pauses.

Bruce doesn't disappoint -- the eyebrow is, once again,

"Kid Flash put an intriguing idea in my head yesterday."

"Did he."

Tim lets his chair spin until he's facing Bruce entirely.
There's nothing especially... anything about the way he's
sitting with his knees -- slightly -- parted.

Except, of course, for the fact that this is Bruce, for whom
every gesture -- however slight, ambiguous, and
unintentional -- is entirely meaningful. Freud would
consider him both paranoid and needlessly perverse.

The tendency has, when Tim considers it, a certain charm.
"A game," Tim says, after a moment to simply sit and be

"Are you feeling terribly playful at the moment?"

"I did mention my doubts about the air quality, Bruce."

"Shall we give ourselves leave to assume everything
spoken -- and every act committed -- is due to some
degree of hypoxia?"

"Were you planning on doing -- or saying -- anything which
would need to be... excused?"

"Perhaps I have suspicions about the sort of games Kid
Flash would inspire you to play."

"A simple one," Tim says, and lets a large fraction of the
smile onto his face.

Bruce -- true to his word -- doesn't move from his seat. It's
all a question of potential. "Do tell."

"He did me a favor. For payment, he wanted an entirely
honest answer to a question."

"Just one...?"

"I set the price."

"Hmm. Naturally."

"And so..." Tim spreads his hands, knowing that the gesture
has an utterly different resonance when offered to Bruce as
it does when offered to Kon.


"What will you give me for every item of clothing I

"You're allowing me to set the price?"

"Well, Bruce... I trust you..."

Bruce's nostrils flare -- slightly.

"... not to cheat me."

"Hmm. You have somewhat less attraction to the concept
of honesty than I do... and yet that fails to say very much."

The gaff he's wearing beneath his jock -- removable with a
jerk, as it's designed for a very specific sort of stripper -- is
keeping the jock itself from becoming uncomfortable. This
is as relative a matter as everything else.

"I accept your... challenge. An honest answer -- for every
item of clothing you remove."

Tim tugs off his left gauntlet and tosses it into Bruce's lap.

"First question."

"Are you attracted -- sexually -- to Dick?"


And that's... It isn't the first time Tim has found himself
glad that his uniform is this complicated and well-layered,
though the reasoning is somewhat new. "Hm. I don't
suppose I'm allowed a question for my domino...?"

Bruce's smile does an excellent job of providing the
impression that the cabin temperature has dropped by at
least eight degrees. "You removed it of your own free
will, Tim."

"Of course," Tim says, shaking his head and tossing Bruce
the right gauntlet.

"Second question."

"Why didn't you ever act on it?"

"Because --"

"A detailed answer, Bruce."

Bruce leans back in his seat and steeples his -- gauntleted --
fingers. "I recall nothing in the rules which allows you to
quibble about how I choose to be honest."

Tim stretches his throat slightly. It makes it easier to alter
his voice. "I was hoping," he says, "you might be lenient in
your interpretation of those rules, Mr. Wayne."

Bruce's eyes... "I'm rarely lenient, Miss Haywood."

Tim can't make himself blush on command -- yet. He settles
for lowering his eyes. Slightly. "Perhaps an exception could
be made."

"Perhaps you could remove your... cloak."

But, Grandma, my mother *made* me this cloak. The smile
on Tim's face, he knows, is entirely inappropriate... but
perfection, for this, isn't truly necessary.

And when he reaches across the space between them to
hand Bruce the cape, Bruce allows their fingers to brush
and says, "thank you."

"My --" Tim lowers his chin, and his voice. "-- answer?"

"The first time Dick asked, I was too surprised to say
anything but no. The second time, I was prepared, and I
explained the bounds of... appropriate behavior."

Tim doesn't say anything. He doesn't have to.

"The third time, I was... honest. To a certain degree. I
failed to find the words -- or the courage -- to explain to
him that I'd come to see him as a son. I didn't fail to share
that part of *that*... was coming to view him as someone
terribly, beautifully, frighteningly young. Damningly
younger than myself. And, of course, his beauty was
comfortingly male. I -- I like to believe I have somewhat
more wisdom at my disposal now than I do then -- though
perhaps no more bravery, and no more ability to use the
wisdom when I should."

And yet, the attraction remained. It's tempting to offer
some other item of clothing for more detail, but... not yet.
Tim nods, instead, and pulls off one of his boots.

"Yes, Tim?"

"Do you feel -- wait."

Bruce nods, patiently.

"Do you believe, in any way, that the two of us are making
a mistake by being involved?"

"I believe the point is moot."

Tim pauses, internally. It's a better answer than he might
have been given. It's just... it boils down to 'yes, but there's
nothing to be done about it.' Somewhat fatalistic,

Another potential question to be asked when he runs out
of better ones.

Tim pulls off the other boot, considers, and removes a sock
as well. "Would you have sought me out again in any way if
I hadn't come to you?"

"Only one question?"

"I'm waiting to need you to elaborate."

Bruce cocks his head to the side. "I find your definition of
'trust' fascinating."

In every way...? "I wouldn't want you to be bored."

"The feeling is entirely mutual."

"Good to know, but... my answer?"

"The honest answer... is that I'm not entirely sure."

Tim places the sock inside one of his boots.

"Did you have a direction in which you wished me to
elaborate, or is it at my own discretion."

And that... was a warning, of course. "What are the factors
which would have led you to decide -- one way or another?"

"How much time I spent considering the expression on your
face when I touched you, how much success I would've
had in not considering it. How often Oracle chose to have
you work within Gotham. Whether or not you seemed...

"In that order?"

Bruce raises an eyebrow.

Tim snorts. "Of course." He places the other sock in the
other boot.

"No," Bruce says.

"Interesting... but that wasn't my question."

"Hmm. Then what is?"

He's down to the tunic, the t-shirt, the belt, the tights, the
shorts, the jock... and the gaff and training bra Bruce will
almost certainly be invested in having him leave on. Six
questions left, after this one. Just...

"I should have given you a time limit."

"Has delayed gratification lost its savor?"

"Was *that* your question, Tim?"

"Not even remotely. My question..." It's a stalling tactic. It
doesn't matter what he'd like to hear -- he knows this never
would've happened, in any way, if he'd never been in a
female body.

And he's rapidly running out of things he *does* want to
know... though if this were a game purely about *want*,
Tim would've taken Bruce's statement about how he didn't
plan to leave his seat as the invitation it was.

"I'm planning on spending the lion's share of the next
forty-eight hours with Dick. What are your objections to
that -- assuming you have any?"

"The fact that your parents apparently already know of your
upcoming absence -- and approve -- would give us a great
deal of time together, which is something I would
appreciate. Additionally, the fact that you're sexually
involved with Dick is something I find... troubling."

Tim nods, in an attempt to draw attention away from the
ways his toes are curling against the floor which is both
reflexive and ultimately pointless, where Bruce is
concerned. And then he removes his belt.

The humming sound Bruce makes... isn't a laugh.

"Elaborate on the word 'troubling.'"

"I'm jealous. I have no right to be jealous. I'm fully aware
of the latter in a way which doesn't have quite enough
impact on the former for comfort."

That wasn't -- enough elaboration. Tim clenches his jaw --
once -- and removes the tunic.

Bruce looks him up and down slowly, deliberately, obviously --
and obviously approving.

If he didn't know before what Tim was -- and wasn't --
wearing beneath his clothes, he does now. But there's the
'game' to be considered. "Why -- precisely -- are you

"Dick has never failed to live up to your expectations. You
have always had far more faith in Dick's intentions toward
your... emotional health than you've had in mine, and
you've always been entirely correct in that regard. Dick is...
available to you in ways which don't leave you sickened
with yourself. I -- have always known how you feel about
him. And I've always known how he felt about you."

It's exactly what he needed to know, on more levels than
he would've expected. It's more *telling* than Tim had
predicted, but that doesn't have to mean -- the rules don't
require him to say anything.

He doesn't have to --

"I... understand how your theories came to be formed, but
they aren't entirely correct."


Tim stands, and pushes down his shorts.


"My game," he says, and hands the shorts to Bruce.

"Yours," Bruce says, and lays the shorts flat over one long,
powerful thigh.

"Are there -- wait." It says too much about him that *this*
is one the questions he truly needs an honest answer for,
but some things can't actually be helped. He has, perhaps,
his own varieties of fatalism about this. "Are there sexual
acts you'd be uncomfortable performing with me *solely*
because of my current biological maleness?"

"No," Bruce says, and runs one gauntleted finger down the
seam of Tim's shorts.

There's an exposure beyond the obvious in taking off his
t-shirt, of course. The bra is both the most subtle one he
owns now that fits and also bright green. The 'cups' are
broader than those found in most training bras -- flat
panels which make his pectorals seem almost natural.

It doesn't matter that Bruce isn't staring any more now
than he was before -- Bruce *isn't* Kon. The attention is
*there* --

And paradoxically soothing, because it gives Tim the
opportunity to focus on something other than the last thing
Bruce had said. He pauses, stroking the elastic, and then
goes ahead and peels out of his tights -- and the jock. His
gaff isn't -- quite -- the same green as the brassiere.

"Expecting a need for more elaboration?"

"Yes," Tim says, and resists the urge to run his hands over
the somewhat addictively smooth line of his groin. He's
paying a sacrifice in pain because of his arousal, but he's
paid worse.

"Shall I begin to frustrate you, then?"

Tim crosses the space between them and considers the
pilot's seat Bruce is in. It is, unfortunately, designed
perfectly for Bruce's frame, which means there's no room
to kneel on it. Tim settles for nudging Bruce's knees with
one of his own until he spreads them, and then settles
one leg between Bruce's thighs. "Something like that."


"Would you prefer it if I were still a woman?"


Tim nods and offers Bruce his hand. When Bruce takes it,
Tim tugs until Bruce's hand is pressed to his mound
through the gaff.

"What should I do?"

"Tease me."

Bruce narrows his eyes -- slightly -- presses his palm flat to
the gaff, and pushes his hand between Tim's thighs. "Like

"More," Tim says, and the unsteadiness of his voice is a
little like having Janet around to -- To start panting and
sweating when Bruce starts dragging his fingers much too
lightly over the material between his thighs.


("Every woman is different, of course. Different preferences,
different areas of sensitivity. Men are quite dull in
comparison -- purely biologically. I never would've expected
you to appreciate quite this much direct clitoral stimulation --
or to arch quite this -- oh, don't beg --") "Y-yes --"

"*Tim* --"

"Next -- next question --"

"Yes --"

"*Why* would you rather have me female?"

"Before having the opportunity to make love to you again, I
would've said 'the way you moved,' first and... foremost.
But now... I see it's the same. It was always a matter of
giving you something to respond --"

"*Tell* me, Bruce -- *ah* --"

"I have... my own questions."

Tim forces his eyes fully open. "Wait your turn, Bruce."

"Hmm." And now there's a gauntleted hand flat against the
material of the bra. "I miss your breasts."

He still isn't sure whether he does or not. "And?"

"And," Bruce says, stroking a thumb over Tim's nipple and
*pressing* with the fingers of the other hand, "the number
of ways in which I can penetrate you has been tragically

There had been... distressingly few difficulties inherent to
having female genitals, once Tim had learned, again, how
to move. Tim swallows and tries to decide whether or not
starting to work his hips rhythmically would be more or
less of a distraction than trying not to move them at all.

"Finally, it's a question of what I can have. Even if I'd
allowed myself to truly believe you *would* come to me
again, I never would have suspected... this."

And when Bruce starts toying with the edges of the gaff
between his thighs, there's no longer a question of decision
about his hips. Some things have become reflexive.
"Perhaps you -- should've."

Bruce hums again, pleased and feeling no compunctions
about showing it. "And yet you were so very... firm about
your desire to return to this body," he says, and tugs at
the elastic of the bra between Tim's... pecs.

"I... I can see how it might have seemed that way."

"You're a tease."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Bruce runs a finger beneath the elastic in one perfect line.
"And you have one more question."

"I know," Tim says, and lowers himself into a straddle of
Bruce's left thigh.


"I'm saving it for a special occasion."

"Mm, correction: You're a *vicious* tease."


The fact that there are any number of places where Tim
could acquire the few things he'd actually need for a couple
of days at Dick's place -- assuming a world where Dick
wasn't Dick, and hadn't had every possible thing Tim (and
every other member of their family) could need in his
apartment within a week of moving in -- has no impact
whatsoever on the fact that he does, actually, *need* to
stop back at his parents'.

He could wish the Batjet came equipped with a shower, but
the fact that all of Batman's planes are designed to be
mobile hospitals along with everything else means that he's
at least presentable by the time they land.

And Bruce...

Bruce knows his schedule at least as well as Tim does. He
doesn't suggest Tim pause to take a shower, and he doesn't
do or say anything which would even hint at a desire to

All he does is run two -- bare, now -- fingers down Tim's
spine while Tim is in the process of changing into
unambiguous and male civvies.

And meet Tim's eyes with something which manages to be
invitation, request, amusement, *and* possessiveness.

Impressive -- though not unexpected.

Bruce, of course, has already made it clear in any number
of ways that he doesn't have any intention of making any
of this easier on him. Bruce had made that clear years ago.
Which is only fair, considering the fact that he's been doing
the same for quite some time.

And as early warning systems go, the elevator operator's
scowl is quite good.

Tim settles the smile on his face into something more
appropriate to Tim Drake, Reasonably Normal Teenaged
Boy --

And is glad for it, because Dick... is Dick.

"There you are, little brother," he says, when he opens
Tim's door. "How was your weekend?"

"Illuminating, as always. I think I'm closer to figuring out
what sort of career I'd like to have."

Dick grins at him, open and openly sly. "Vocational training
is so *useful*," he says, wrapping an arm around Tim's
shoulders and tugging him into the townhouse.

"Is that Tim?" Dana sounds like she's in the kitchen.

"Sure is, Dana! He tried to make a break for it, but I've got

Got him. Right. There's a temptation to hate Dick at least a
little for the near unholy levels of joy he takes in the fact
that he has every right to be here, but...

Tim can't say he doesn't understand.

He lets Dick steer him toward the kitchen. "I'd been
planning to head right over, you know," he says, quietly.

"What are sorta-kinda big brothers with motorcycles *for*,

Sorta-kinda. Timmy. Right. Tim digs in his heels just
enough to put the brakes on --

Which makes the expression on Dick's face shift. It's
interesting to watch -- it always is. Dick *does* have a
Nightwing face, it's just that there's really only one. Most
of the time, even a studious observer would find it difficult
to pinpoint the differences between Dick Grayson and...

It helps, of course, that these days -- and in conjunction
with himself -- 'Dick' has a lot to do with certain decidedly
unambiguous levels of physical contact.

'Helps,' however, has a decidedly different connotation
when considered against the fact that they're in Tim's
*dining room* when Dick touches his mouth, and it's
possible that the cons of wearing a gaff in his parent's
townhouse didn't, actually, outweigh the pros.

"Dick --"

"You wanted to say something...?"

He -- he's really almost sure he did.

Dick smiles, and tilts his head, and --


And Dick's hands move into an entirely more innocent
configuration. "Just a sec, Dana! Timmy's noogie-levels
are *dangerously* low."

"Oh, you -- you wouldn't --"

Dana laughs. "Can't have that!"

Dick... ruffles his hair.

Thoroughly, but still. Tim raises an eyebrow.

Dick winks.

Dinner is no more surreal than usual, especially since he
only has to kick Dick under the table once to stop his
attempts to play footsie. Dick even looks apologetic about

They have wine -- white, to go with Dana's salmon -- and
the fact that they have a guest means that he's allowed to
drink three glasses.

Which is somewhat helpful.

"I swear, Dick," his father says over his own glass, "Dana
and Tim love this city, and I do, too, but the *crime*

"Oh, Jack, really --"

Dick raises a hand at Dana. "No, no, Dana, I understand
completely. Growing up with Bruce Wayne kinda gave me
a *unique* perspective on Gotham --"

His father snorts. "You don't say."

Dick's smile is easy and light. "But still, well, you know I'm
on the force in Bludhaven. It can be rough there, but..."

Dana makes a sympathetic noise.

"Whenever any of us *do* meet up with the GCPD guys
and gals, *they* aren't the ones buying the drinks."

Everyone laughs.

Tim smiles and wonders what it would take to make his
father start offering hard liquor with dinner.


Once on Dick's motorcycle, things achieve a measure of
normality. The helmet is black -- Dick is wearing the blue --
and the world narrows to the helpfully overstuffed backpack
on Tim's shoulders and the man between Tim's thighs and in
his arms.

It could be any night -- so long as it was a good one.

"Mmm," Dick says over the helmet radio, "I *thought* I
could see you weren't wearing any of your new underwear."

The definition of 'any good night' has shifted, somewhat. "It
seemed like more trouble than it was worth."


It's Dick, and so it's an entirely honest question. "The
gaffs... they seem to make a difference in how I look
even in baggy jeans and... how I move."

"The gaffs... or the fact that you're wearing them?"

Tim smiles and lets himself rest his head between
Dick's shoulderblades. "I'll let you know when I have
an answer to that question."

"Good," Dick says, and puts on the sort of speed which
would probably make Dana like him at least a little less --
though it would possibly be balanced by his father's

Then again, maybe none of it would matter in any way.
As far as his parents -- and nearly everyone else in Tim's
life -- are concerned, Dick is the older brother Tim had
never had. It's possible -- even probable -- that if his
mother were still alive, she'd feel the same degree of
casual approval.

He'd attended charity balls as part of Bruce Wayne's
unofficial family, he'd visited Wayne Enterprises as Tim
Drake with Dick Grayson, his father periodically buys him
and Dick tickets to ball games... it's all very --

It's all very *surreal*, and it won't ever stop being that
way -- *because* it's all so normal.

Of course Dick would take the boy with the tragic past
under his wing -- especially since the age difference was
relatively -- and comfortably -- small.

Whether or not it would've worked that way if Tim had
been born female... no.

It wouldn't have. It's possible that it *could* have, but
then he would've lacked the freedom inherent to having
the sort of father who would never, ever assume his son's
feelings for the handsome, friendly twenty-something were
anything more than a bit of filial hero-worship.

For that matter, it had been difficult enough to be the third
young *boy* Bruce Wayne had taken into his home. It's
entirely possible that it wouldn't have happened -- that
*none* of this could have happened -- if he'd been a young
girl, instead. Which is the sort of thing...

He isn't sure. It seems more than a little anti-intuitive that
the best example he can come up with of a teen vigilante
with a mentor of the opposite sex is *Empress*, and even
then it was her father rather than her mentor... he isn't sure.

"Dick, do you know Mia Dearden?"

"Thought you were dozing back there, kiddo. The girl
staying with Ollie now?"

"Yes. Is she... do you know if she's training?"

Dick laughs. "To be the new Speedy? Hell yeah, she is.
Roy's pretty sure *Ollie* hasn't figured that out yet,
though. Why?"

"Just trying to think about things."

"Uh, huh..."

Tim laughs a little more. "Again, I'll let you know if I figure
out anything."

"You don't have to wait, you know."

The 'for anything' is unspoken and very, very loud. "I know,"
Tim says, and squeezes Dick with his thighs.


The first thing Dick does is order a pizza while Tim finds a
corner for his backpack. He's not entirely sure what Dick
has planned for them, and he's not sure if Dick had
bothered planning at all.

In the old days, Dick had been systematic about learning
his tastes in movies, junk food, and recreational activities,
but... they've had time.

Dick's more casual now, in ways which make Tim's visits
more *and* less relaxing.

There's a stretch of silence between the phone clicking back
onto the receiver and the completely unnecessary scuff of
Dick's motorcycle boot on the floor approximately three
feet behind Tim.

He's been staring at the couch, possibly in some way Dick
finds ominous. And then Dick's hands are on his shoulders,
and --

And there's a bright red -- and padded -- bra dangling from
the right. "Can I interest you in the prospect of slipping
into something more uncomfortable?"

Dick's gotten very casual about a lot of things. Tim snags
the bra and starts to strip.


"Always look on the briiiight side of life..."

Dick snorts and mutes the television. "I *want* to say that
I can't believe this is your favorite Python movie, but --"

"You actually know me," Tim says, and fills in the whistling

"You're twisted, and I appreciate that." Dick emphasizes his
point by wrapping his arm around Tim's shoulders and
kissing his forehead --

At which point he stiffens, and does a profoundly bad job
of being casual about pulling away.

This isn't the first time that's happened tonight, or even the
fifth. Which throws some degree of complication over the
not-quite-kiss from earlier in the evening, because,
apparently, at least one of the things Dick planned on doing
was attempting to re-establish their platonic relationship.

When Dick had come up with that particular plan is a more
difficult question to theorize an answer for than 'why,' but,
in the end...

In the end, there's something of a DMZ between Tim's
couch cushion and Dick's which Dick keeps breaching. And...

And there's only so much distraction Monty Python can
provide. Tim grabs the remote from Dick and shuts off the

"Hey, you usually like watching the credits."

It would be an entirely plausible casual statement if Dick
were actually looking at him. As it is... "Dick, I think this is
where we talk."

Dick covers his face with one hand for a moment, and then
drags it down again, briefly making himself look somewhat
hangdog. "Because I'm being kind of an ass."

Tim frowns. "Well, no. Mostly I'm just... confused."

The smile on Dick's face is curiously private -- there's no
invitation there, at all. Even when Dick turns to face him
and strokes Tim's bra straps with his thumbs. "No, really,
I'm being an ass."

"Dick --"

"Part of me really just wants this -- being here -- to be as
easy for you as possible. Which is -- I think it is -- a *good*
reason to stop myself from crawling all over you."

Certainly, it's one of the better ones possible. 'Good' would
require Tim to be someone other than who he is. Which is...
it would be nice to have a way to express that. "And the
other part?"

"The *other* part is waiting for you to stop me from pulling
away. Because maybe I'm feeling a little selfish."

And that's... that's interesting. "This is a tease?"

Dick's smile is wry, and Dick's index fingers are curled under
Tim's bra straps. "*This* is a tease. Especially since you put
your jeans back on over the gaff, Jesus, little brother."

The first thing he finds himself wanting to do is say Dick's
name in a particular tone of voice he's perfected over the
years. It doesn't actually quell Dick in any way, but it does
tend to make him feel somewhat sheepish over continuing
to mess with Tim's head. It makes a point, and it wouldn't
be ill-suited for the moment --

Save for the fact that he was about to use it to, essentially,
scold Dick for changing the subject of conversation from
'honest discussion of emotions' to 'and now it's time to
begin having sex.'

Thankfully, Dick is entirely capable of amusing himself with
Tim's underwear in the time it takes for Tim to wonder if
he has, actually, lost it entirely, because...

"Dick, I really do need to know --"

It's the kiss he's been waiting for since that moment in his
dining room, but the timing is --

The timing is something he won't have to think about at all
if Dick continues doing things like being excessively,
purposefully clumsy about working Tim's button-fly. And
so, of course, Dick stops, and pulls away, and --

"This -- this is my point, Tim."

He doesn't really have anything to say to that beyond, "ah."

Dick's laugh doesn't have much humor in it, and he lets
himself fall back -- and *away*. Still, the fact that he has
one foot on the floor and one on the couch means that
Tim *does* have an excellent view of Dick's face if he's
willing to stare up the length of Dick's body.

It would be nice if he could use the wine as an excuse,
especially since it would save him from having to do
anything resembling talking with his mouth. "Dick, it's --
it's a little hard to... do this sort of thing."

"With me? Right now? Give me -- give me *something*,

"I want you."

Dick nudges him with his foot. "That part I'd figured out."

"Then --"

"The part I'm *missing*," Dick says, dragging his toes
down the center of Tim's abdomen, "is the part where I
know whether I should actually be doing this with you."

"I... I thought you'd already done that."

"I mentioned I was being an ass."

"Dick... do you want me to leave?"

"I *want* you to climb on top of me, kiss me, and -- and
possibly punch me every time I think about you and

Tim bites the inside of his cheek. "That would require
metahuman powers I lack."

Dick laughs and scrubs a hand over his face again. "On a
number of levels. I -- I don't really know, Tim. I don't
know *anything* except that I've got maybe another
twenty minutes -- tops -- before I stop thinking again for
long enough to start realizing I can smell you, that it
would only take a moment to start *tasting* you --"

"I've been enjoying that --"

"-- and it doesn't actually matter whether you respond right
away or not, because if you don't a part of me is convinced
that I'm not doing -- whatever -- the way Bruce would,
and if you *do*, a part of me is convinced that I *am*."

Tim winces. "I don't suppose it helps at all to say that
*nothing* is the same?"

Dick blinks at him. "Nothing? Really?"

"Well... is it that much of a surprise? You and Bruce aren't
exactly --" Warning bells. Very, very loud warning bells. "I
mean, it's not the same."

Dick sits up, and... keeps moving until Tim is effectively
pinned against *his* arm of the couch. "You know, little
brother, there are people who consider it a great *exit*
line to compare me to Bruce."

"It -- it does seem like the sort of thing which various
people would consider to be both correct and something of
an insult, yes."

"But not you."

If he were better at this, there'd probably be a way to
deflect this into safer territory -- a category which, at this
point, includes frank discussion of Bruce's sexual kinks. But
all he really has is, "not me, no."

"Why is that, do you think?"

"Well... I am in something of a unique position to... observe."

And the smile in Dick's face isn't a good one, but
considering the fact that it feels like it's been approximately
two years since the last one... Tim will take it.

"Dick --"

"So why *do* you let me keep stopping -- keep *teasing*?"

Tim smiles back. "Maybe I'm just a little too new at this
'relationship with sexual aspects' thing, Dick, but when
someone tenses, pulls away, and occasionally curses a bit,
it tends to make me feel as though it wouldn't be the time
to shove my hand down their pants."

Dick blinks at him again.

"Of course, I'm willing to be enlightened."


Carpeting, Tim has decided, stops being a good idea when
you start trying to have sex on it.

On the one hand, it *is* a lot warmer and softer than the
commonly available alternatives, but, on the other hand,
Tim is reasonably sure that tomorrow his back is going to
look like he'd gotten sunburned while wearing a bikini. It
really is a good thing his high school had given up on the
communal shower thing in the eighties, no matter how
rank the boys' locker room has become in the intervening

And rugburn -- even a really bad one -- isn't nearly enough
of a 'con' against the myriad pros of being humped across
much of the floor by Dick. He thinks it would be a certain
painful variety of 'better' if his gaff was still on instead of
wrapped around his right ankle, but this --

This is another kind of better.

Dick kisses like it's the only possible thing to do when
you're this close, which means that the vast majority of the
noises he's made have been directly into Tim's mouth.
Also, this position makes the padding over his pecs feel --
almost -- like having real breasts.

The diffuseness of the sensation could, after all, be due to
the fact that Dick isn't paying any special attention to them,
as opposed to just rocking against them with every thrust.

Dick -- he's coming to be sure that this is one of Dick's
favorite sexual activities, and he's beginning to develop
something of 'lock my thighs around Dick's waist and
whimper' fondness for it, himself.

And when Dick starts *biting* his lips instead of just sucking
on them --

When Dick reaches back and down and pulls and pushes
Tim's knee up to his chest --

When Dick --

"Oh God, fuck, I shouldn't -- I shouldn't want --"

When Dick tenses, curses, and pulls *away*...

Tim takes the opportunity to flip them, grab Dick's wrists,
and pin them to the floor. Dick's pants are, after all, already

"Tim, God, I love you, I love you so much, but --"

"I'm in love with you, Dick."

Dick makes a sound like he'd just been punched by
Superman, and it's possible -- it's possible that one of the
reasons why Tim enjoys being kissed at heated moments is
that it makes it harder to say -- anything, but --

"It's true. I -- for a long time," Tim says, and tries to figure
out if he should be firming his pin or possibly diving out
the window.

It's just that there's no real opportunity to decide either
way before Dick breaks the pin and wrestles Tim down and
onto his back.

"Dick --"


And it's not a question in tone, but... there are, actually, a
few things Dick has in common with the man. Tim closes
his eyes.

"*Tell* me."

"I didn't -- I never would've thought it was possible to...
love him. Not -- not like that."


"Yes," Tim says, and opens his eyes again in time to see
Dick *squeezing* his own shut. "Dick --"

"God, I -- just..."

"I -- did I just make this worse?"

Dick's laugh is really more of a gasp. "You tell me, little
brother. What would you -- how would you feel in this

"You... you've already pointed out that we're not the same."

"So you would just... even though..."

"I think... that it would depend on how sure I was about
the other person's feelings for me. And on if I thought I'd
be making things harder for them."

"That's my *point*. Not the first part, I know you -- I trust
you. I just --" Dick growls, rolls off, and stands.

The tension in him suggests that pacing might not cut it --
and that they might actually be *fighting* if Tim isn't
careful. Then again, approaching Dick like a particularly
pissed-off animal will just make him more pissed-off.

Tim compromises and only comes within reach of the
swings and kicks.

"Just what?"

"I -- I *said* I wouldn't make it easy on you. Like this was
just some damned *game*. I --" Dick shoves both hands
into his hair, probably hard enough to pull a few strands. "I
think... I think I was telling myself that we could just do
this, that *I* could just do this and not have it rebound
on -- everything." And Dick gives another one of those
gasping laughs. "Rebound. Now there's a word."

Tim crosses his arms -- and winds up hiking up his fake
breasts. And he knows Dick caught him frowning.

"Here's how it's gonna work, I think."

"I'm listening, Dick."

"I can either try and focus on doing the things that I think I
should be -- and not doing the things I shouldn't -- or I
can own up to the fact that I can't *look* at you anymore
without realizing that we could be making love, that it
would be good, that I could show you -- and you could
show *me* --" Dick squeezes his eyes shut again and stares
up at his own ceiling.

And Tim -- he can limit himself to just getting close enough
to touch Dick's forearm, but any (*less*) more than that
would be impossible. It's -- It's Dick.

"I've got a question you probably can't answer, assuming --
no. You would, if you could. You're not keeping *any*
secrets from me, anymore, are you?"


Dick nods, lowering his head and twisting once, sharply.

Tim's hand is on Dick's waist about half a second before
Dick's hands are cupping his face. "Your question?"

"Do you know... do you know what you're *doing* with

"I... I have a few theories."

It's the first good smile he's seen in much too long. "You
always do."

And this... this isn't a time to stare at the floor, even if Dick
would let him. It also isn't a time to close his eyes. Maybe,
in the future, he can convince Dick that everything is better
when he's wearing women's -- or crossdressers' --
underwear and his domino. For now, though... "We talk.
We... seem to talk a lot."

"You..." And Dick is frowning again.

"You're the one who always told me what he used to be
like. You're the one -- you always half-convinced me that it
was my fault Bruce wouldn't ever open up." Sometimes
more than half.

"That wasn't -- I never meant -- Jesus, Tim --"

"No, it's -- I get it now, you know? It *was* better in the
old days, before Bane. He was still... really messed up
about Jason, and I saw him in the cape and cowl more
often than I saw his *face*, but it was still better. He
*was* my friend, even if it didn't really register at the

"And now he is again?"

"It's more like... it's more like he never stopped. I -- I'm not
sure. There was this whole thing with my birthday..." Tim
shakes his head -- as much as he can with Dick holding on.

"Babs mentioned something about Bruce..." Dick frowns a
little more. It's oddly similar to some of Batgirl's expressions.
"She called it 'a different kind of gauntlet.' It's just -- you
never said anything."

"I still really can't. But... after that, it was just really easy to
see him, whether or not I wanted to. And... I knew he
could see me, too."

Dick slides his fingers into Tim's hair, frown softening into
something rueful. "You make it sound a little like a horror

"Good thing I like to be scared...?"

"Tim --"

"No, I know. It's... it's comfortable. It's like... falling into
something. Like we started talking days ago and we still
are, even though he's not here."

Dick tugs on his hair lightly enough that he might not even
be aware he's doing it. And his eyes are...


"Even now?"

"I -- I actually tried really hard to make it different. Bruce
wasn't... having any of it, actually. Dick, what is it?"

Dick doesn't say anything or look away or -- anything for
long moments. And then he blinks, and smiles a little. "I'm
the one complicating things?"

"Jesus, Dick --" But Dick isn't letting him pull away.

"Tell me."

"You're not. Or -- we all are. It's not like..." Tim laughs. "I
was going to let it *go* with Bruce. You didn't see him
after I first got changed back -- I was going to let it go.
Bruce had other ideas."

"Tim, that -- that doesn't sound --"

"He knows me. And he knows I wasn't going to let it go
because I wanted to." Of course, when he'd figured that
out... is yet another candidate for the honest answer Bruce
still owes him.


So. "Anyway, it's working. I don't really see how much
more it can... work than it does right now, but..."

"It works enough for you.  And he's Bruce, he knows you're
*here*, and he has to know..." Dick lets go and scrubs his
hands through his hair again. "I'm not sure how much *I*
want to know about what Bruce knows. I don't know if I
can understand -- I don't know if I --"

"We..." Tim takes a breath and fixes his bra. "We talked
about it."

"Jesus. You talked to Bruce about *us*?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "I had my own questions about how
this was... working."

Dick moves the last few feet to the wall and lets himself fall
against it. He looks... 'tired' isn't really the word for it. The
better words are also the worse ones, however, and make
the fact that Tim is following him feel a little predatory,
even though Dick just reaches out and pulls him in, again.

"You make this so --" Tim bites his tongue.

"What?" And when Dick looks down at him, his expression
makes him seem exactly as old and knowing as he should

"You make this seem so natural. The way you touch me, I

Dick blinks a little and squeezes Tim's shoulder like he's
checking with himself to make sure that it's only there, as
opposed to on Tim's naked ass or something. "How do you

"I mean when you're not actively --" Killing yourself over it.
"-- thinking about it, you just... reach out. Touch. Hold."
Caress. "Stroke. Other things."

"I always did --"

"Not like this. Not like... now that we're... well."

"I -- I suppose not. You like it?"

"It's a lot of why I'm here."

And it's not that he doesn't see it coming, per se, it's just
Tim has neither the time nor the inclination to stop Dick
from spinning them until Tim's back is against the wall.
Especially since it leads to Dick's hand around his dick,
Dick's *other* hand in his hair, and Dick's tongue in his

The kiss doesn't last long enough --

"Cass is always *telling* me I think too much, little brother."

"She has a unique perspective on -- everything. Dick --"


"Are you -- oh God, your -- hand -- Dick, are you *sure*?"

Dick gives his throat an open-mouthed bite, not sharp but
hard. It cuts off some of Tim's air and makes him buck and
he's not asking any more questions tonight. He --

He's not, because questions would involve using parts of his
brain which are currently needed to help him not hit the
floor again. Dick is walking them back -- and squeezing
Tim's dick --

And *kissing* him, and Tim's aware that they're probably
headed to the bedroom, but that's only because he can see
the couch retreating when Dick bites his earlobe and his
eyes spring open.

And then Dick starts *licking* his ear, and he's still
squeezing Tim's *dick* and Tim closes his eyes again and
works on not stumbling.

He thinks he's got the rhythm of it -- it involves only moving
his feet when Dick relaxes the squeezes -- but then Tim
hits -- something, possibly a door-frame, and it pushes his
dick into Dick's hand just a little, and he yells into Dick's
mouth --

And Dick moves his free hand to Tim's shoulder and
*shoves* him back against the door-frame and starts to
jerk him off in earnest.

"Oh fuck -- oh God, Dick, please --"

"I know I shouldn't say this, but I really love touching your
dick, little brother --"

"*God* --"

"You get so hard for me, so slick and *hot* --"

"Fuck, *please*," and stopping means that he can plant his
feet and work his hips --

"God, the way you *move*, just -- I know Bruce has to
love seeing you like this, even though I always thought he
would hate it, I thought he wanted people to move like
you *always* do, so controlled and efficient --"

"Dick, Dick you don't --"

Dick bites his ear again and pants. "You're right. I *don't*
want to know. But I don't need you to tell me. If he doesn't
hate it, he must love it, he must love *you* and the way
you just fucking give it *up* --"

There's a sound, and after a second or so Tim's --
reasonably -- positive that it was his head bouncing off the
door frame -- "Oh, God -- oh God --"

"The way you love this, love -- love *me* --"

The sound -- he's allowed to make sounds like that when
he's coming all over Dick's fist, sudden and hard and a little

Good thing he --

It's a good --

It's *Dick*, breathing fast and sharp against his ear, making
Tim's skin prickle, making him shake and hurt a little and
miss the way he used to come when he was a woman, the
way it just went on and on and never felt anything but
good and *that* was the scary thing, and now --

"I want you -- I want you so much, Tim."

Now there are other things, like watching himself from the
outside as he tries to lift his suddenly graceless leg --

"Oh, little brother --"

As Dick reaches down and *lifts* him, slick-sticky hand and
clean one, until Tim has his legs wrapped around Dick's
waist --

"Reach up. That's -- yeah --"

And he can curl his fingers around either side of the upper
jamb and hold himself up a little, enough for Dick to let go
with the slick hand, swipe Tim's stomach and his own, and
reach back and down -- "*Oh* --"

"You've done this. You've --"

"Fuck me -- God, I want -- you know I want --"

"You want me, Tim?"

"Yes -- yes, please --"

And Dick's stroking over his hole, slow slick circles and
teasing little *pushes*, and the position means he can't
*help*, can't speed it up, can't --

"Dick -- in me, please, I --"

"Tell me -- tell me you want it again --"

"I love you -- please, I love you, I need you -- *fuck* --"

"God -- sorry, I -- I didn't mean to do it that fast --"

Two fingers, slimmer, longer than Bruce's, in him -- in --

"Tim, Timmy tell me you're okay, tell me I didn't hurt
you --"

"It's -- it's good, don't stop, get me -- get me open --"

And in this position Dick has to lean up a little to kiss him,
but he can do it longer, harder -- wetter and *better*, and
his thrusts are short and twisting, fast and *twisting*, and
Tim feels his eyes roll back in his head and he can't work
his hips enough in this position, but every time he tries
Dick goes a little faster, a little *harder*.

"I want you --"

"Yes --"

"Right here --"

"*Please* --"

And this kiss knocks their teeth together, hard enough that
it feels like relief to bite and suck Dick's lower lip, his
tongue when Dick yanks himself back and then goes for it
again, and Tim can feel himself flushing all over, feel the
bra slipping out of true, and he can't --

He can't reach down to *fix* it, because then they might
lose their balance, and this can't --

This can't *stop*.

"I want -- oh, you've got me so hard, little brother, I can't
believe you were locking this *away*, can't believe I didn't
touch you, didn't taste you..."

He doesn't have any words left. Not really. He's saving "fuck
me" for when he's absolutely sure he can take it, and
anyway --

"Oh, those noises you're making -- God, you -- you make
them for Bruce, don't you? You -- shh, it's okay -- no,
don't -- don't close your mouth --"

"I -- ah -- *Dick* --"

"I love you like this, I love you, just tell me when you're
ready for me, okay?"

Tim nods and tries to adjust his fingers -- and stops,
because they're sweaty enough that they start to slip, so
he has to hold on tighter, and he's going to start to cramp,
and he probably shouldn't -- shouldn't be treating this like
a life-or-death situation involving a jump-line and a
twenty story drop, but he can't make himself *stop* --

"So -- so hard, God, you're getting hard for me again, you
want this --"

"Y-yes --"

"*Please*, Tim --"

And he knows he's supposed to be breathing deeper, more
steadily, and he can even make himself start to *do* it --

"Oh, *yes*, little brother --"

But then Dick starts making his thrusts longer and the
twists *harder*, and it's completely different from having
a vagina, except that it feels the same inside, emotionally,
where everything is scrambling for more and also to make
him run *away*, and the only thing that would make it
better is to *actually* get fucked.

He has to *breathe*, and it's just getting harder -- better --

It's getting harder to smell Dick over the scent of his own
sweat and come, the obviousness in himself that just isn't
getting any less stark, any less *deadly* no matter how
much he tells and how much he shows.

"Please, Tim, please, please..."

And he wants to tell Dick he needs something to scream
into, but all that's coming out is moans.

He wants to --

He wants to tell Dick to just -- "Do it -- do it now --"

And then he has to bite his lip, because he isn't sure if he
meant it or not, it's different, it's not -- Dick would've felt
*incredible* in his vagina -- but Dick doesn't say anything
but "hold *on*" and then he's slipping out and --

Slipping *in*, slow and burning and slow --

And Tim's biting his lip even *harder*, because Dick
*groans* and starts fucking his way in for the last couple
of inches, couple of *miles* --

"God -- oh God, Tim, so -- so *hot* inside --"

And this is where he'd grab fistfuls of sheets or Bruce or --
he has to keep holding on to the frame, and his fingers
really *are* cramping now but it's a good distraction,
useful and --

"Need you -- need this so much --"

At least it isn't a scream. He doesn't know what it *is*,
other than loud and desperate --

"Don't think -- should've -- should've made myself come
first, oh God, you feel too good, too fucking perfect --"

And spasming *does* make him scream, because it makes
Dick jerk just when he's made himself even tighter, and
Dick groans again and --

And he would've sworn there'd have to be time, have to
be a *moment* between this and the ruthlessly steady
rhythm of Dick's hips, something else he shares with
Bruce, something else which is going to kill him with not
enough preparation and not enough lube --

And Dick has him by the hips --

Dick's hands are slipping on his hips, grasping and sliding
and *clutching* --

Dick's hips are --

Banging his head back against the door-frame doesn't do
anything but jar him all over, but that's -- that's everything,
the shift between really good and the irrational sense that
he could burn, all over, and doing it again makes the next
breath Dick takes come out on a *sob* --

"Need -- need you, Timmy, oh fuck --"

And then it's just the motion, rhythm-less and a little jerky,
fast and -- and --

Tim's hands slip and Dick's knees buckle, but that just
makes the next thrust harder when Dick catches them
both, and Tim can't make his arms reach up anymore,
Tim wraps his arms around Bruce's neck and leans in --

And screams, because the angle's changed just enough,
just that *much* --

"Oh *God*, I -- I -- need you to come --"

"Dick --"

"Need you -- come for me, Timmy, so beautiful -- so --"

And Tim tries to rest his head on Dick, tries not to clutch,
but the next thrust makes his the head of his dick *slide*
over Dick's abs and the orgasm hits before he can even
bite his lip again.

It's --

It's just that he doesn't have the breath to do more than

And then do it again when Dick stiffens, curses --

And stagger-carries Tim into the bedroom. There's --
there's a lot he wants to say there -- at least a 'Jesus' or
two -- but he's too busy panting and trying to hold on
tight enough to make this work and then trying not to let
go too fast when Dick bumps the bed with his knees and
winds up driving his dick in even deeper.

It's clumsy and too ridiculous to be this hot, especially
when he can't hold in a yelp when Dick *does* lose his
grip and they wind up *falling* to the bed, but it is, and --

"I need... have to pull out for just a second --"

Tim nods, and breathes -- and whimpers *again*, but Dick
is stroking him, his thighs, his chest -- squeezing the
padding on the bra and petting up to Tim's throat --

And it feels like it's going on forever right up until Dick flips
him over.

"Tim, I -- god, you're so beautiful."

"D -- Dick --"

And Dick is stroking his back now, and Tim is hanging off
the side of the bed, and it takes much too long for him to
move *enough* to brace his feet --

And once he does Dick spreads him again.

"God, just -- look at you."

"Dick, please, I -- please..."

"Yeah -- *yes* --"

Tim's not really sure what he was begging for, but Dick
makes him *grunt* with the slow, perfect shove of his dick
and --

And maybe it's the fact that Dick's groaning with every --
longer -- thrust now, or the fact that Tim's arms and fingers
are trembling with the kind of fatigue which he's too
accustomed to reading as *good* not to love, but it's easier
to breathe, now, easier to take this, and rock his hips into

Tim rests his cheek against Dick's comforter and just --
takes it, reaching back to cup and stroke Dick's hip with one
hand and holding onto the sheets with the other.

And when Dick starts speeding up again, starts cursing and
stroking him again --

When he stops and slides his arms under Tim's shoulders
and *pulls* him into every thrust --

It's the kind of thing Tim never would've thought of as
restful, but his body just wants him to know that it's good,
that it's *Dick*, that Dick loves it and is --

"Dick -- Dick, I want you to come for me --"

"Oh -- *please*, Tim --"

That Dick wants to -- *has* to -- beg for it.

Just like he has to give it up.


The first time Tim wakes up, it's because he's a little cold,
and had been surprised out of a dream by the fact that he
*was* dreaming.

Dick's only wrapped around half of him, but it still takes
much too long to actually get them both *under* at least
one of the covers.

And then Dick rolls back on top of him, holding Tim with
one arm and holding him *down* with one leg, and
murmurs something incomprehensible into his ear.

Tim closes his eyes.


He wakes up moaning, shifting and --

Dick's stroking his cleft with the fingers of one hand while
the other is splayed over Tim's chest. As Monday mornings
go, he's had worse.

"Mmm. You're awake," he says, and licks the back of Tim's

"I -- nn -- yeah. Dick -- ah --"

Dick pushes his knee between Tim's own and *kisses* the
back of his neck. "I probably shouldn't be this impatient,
should I?"

No. Yes. Definitely -- something.

"God, Tim --"

"*Fuck*, ow --" Definitely Dick's *fingers* in him again
and --

"'Ow?' That -- I hurt you?"

Fuck. "I -- I'm just. A little sore."

Dick tenses hard enough that Tim can feel it even on his
side. "Really? You -- really?"

"Um. Yes."

"I -- shit. Hang on."

Tim manages not to actually hiss when Dick pulls out, but
it doesn't matter. He knows Dick can *see* it. "Sorry,
just --"

"No, no, it's okay, it's really -- *I'm* sorry. But..." Dick tugs
on his shoulder until Tim rolls on his back.

And... Dick is pretty much searching him. It's a little like
having one of those laser scanners aimed at him, if those
scanners looked anything like a rumpled, sweaty, and
somewhat bemused-looking Dick. "Dick...?"

"I -- you and Bruce. You said you'd done that --"

"We have."

"I..." Dick bites his lip briefly. "I'd... kind of assumed..."

Tim has theories about how Dick might have finished that
thought, but he doesn't really want to elaborate on them
even within the dubious safety of his own mind. "We've
had anal sex, Dick, just... ah. Not like... that."

Dick frowns. "You mean... when you were a woman?"

Tim bites his own lip -- on the inside. "Well, yes. But...
also no."


"We might try... lube. Next time?"

Dick... well, that's a look of horror, but the bemusement is
also still there. It's... he can work with that.

"Really, Dick, it was -- it was fantastic. Just not...
immediately repeatable."

"God, Tim, I... I just... I can't believe --"

"Dick," Tim says, and gropes beneath the sheet until he
can cover Dick's not-quite-erection with his hand. "There
are other options."

"I --"

Tim squeezes.

Dick closes his eyes and whimpers, quietly.


.Part Two.