Something greater to catch
by Te
January 21, 2005

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here belongs to me.

Spoilers: Vague, non-specific references to various
older episodes of GK/TNBA and issues of Gotham

Summary: It's thrilling and terrifying and strange, and
there is no comfort in familiarity.

Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Contains content some
readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Written for the Kink Challenge. Well, no.
*Written* for my own amusement. Turned into a
*story* for the challenge.

Acknowledgments: To Jack, LC, Mary, and Jamjar for
audiencing, encouragement, and helpful suggestions.


It's easy to forget.

It's... *remarkably* easy to slip into the rhythms of life,
no matter how changed those rhythms might be. No
matter how... renewed.

Bruce only showers in the Cave when it's necessary.
When the question -- even if the likelihood of there
being anyone to *ask* is, at best, slim -- of why he's
walking damply around the manor in the middle of the
night becomes preferable to the question of why he's
walking around filthy, bloody, and/or stinking of

Other things.

Still, in the past two years (more, because how long had
it been since Dick *wasn't* with him more often than not
at the end of the night?), he's had time to grow used to
the feel of it.

The *precise* quiet and emptiness of the manor on his
skin, and the usual question of whether or not Alfred
would allow him to keep heavier, more comfortable
robes in the Cave -- or if it would just be another on
the list of (often incomprehensible) things the man
would object to as 'enabling.' Idle, familiar musings as
he tries to pull on the skin of Bruce Wayne before he
sleeps, before morning and the need to truly *be* the

They're of the exact same stripe, in some strange way,
as the familiar rejection and repression of the memories
(the *feel*) of Barbara's presence at his side, or at his

This, too, is a nightly occurrence, and he isn't sure how
the past two years would've gone if she hadn't been
here, and a *part* of this. He has long since lost the
ability to work alone.

Though living alone -- save, of course, for Alfred -- is
something different entirely.

Because there is a new boy, now, and Bruce has the
irrational sense -- *surety* -- that he can feel his presence
even now, well past the time when Alfred assures him the
boy normally sleeps.

(Restless boy, ready...)

He shakes it off, internally, and keeps moving through the
quiet halls. Alfred is the perfect gentleman's gentleman,
and, as such, has the tendency to wake and attend him
if Bruce broods -- Alfred's phrase for it -- for too long in
one spot. This attendance often takes the form of
razor-sharp sarcasm and pots of lightly-drugged tea,
neither of which Bruce is eager to sample tonight.

What he *is* eager for is something... difficult to define. A
wordless list of things all placed somewhere above the
rest he actually needs.

Most leading him up the stairs, just the same.

Here, of course, the sense of presence is stronger, more
focused. There is still no real evidence of other human
inhabitants, but he has memory to make up for the lack.
The number of paces he'd had to run to get from his
bedroom to Alfred's when he was a child, the slightly
lower number to get to his parents'.

Dick's bedroom, just there, and --

This is, perhaps, where memory grows problematic. A part
of him, even now, "knows" that if he were to turn that
doorknob, Dick would be awake before Bruce could even
open the door, and asking him what was happening before
Bruce had taken more than three steps inside.

It doesn't matter that Dick has returned to Gotham, nor
does it matter that Dick had spent well over half his time
in the dorms in the years before he'd truly left. Because
he *hadn't* left then, and he *had* left now, and...

There is nothing there but those items which he'd left to
his and Alfred's care. Rather a lot more than Bruce had
been able to bring himself to hope for, and far, far less
than he'd imagined.


Tim's bedroom is just next door to *that*. And here is

There is -- too much -- temptation in conflating the boy's
appearance in his life with Dick's return. With the idea
that the one had given him the other, however
coincidental the events had been.

Still, he had not known Tim for forty-eight hours before Dick
had walked back into the Cave for the first time in two
years, and Bruce knows precisely how long Dick had been
in Gotham *without* announcing his presence before that.

Coincidence is the enemy of thoughtful men, and of

It would still be dangerous to discount it altogether.

And none of this explains why he's here, now, save that
this boy doesn't wake at all, and that's --

No. In the earliest days of Dick's training, before Bruce
had begun to get used to his limits and startling abilities,
he'd often wound up working the boy much too hard,
and looking in on him while he slept had been a matter
of guilt and fondness.

This should be the same, if it's anything at all, but...

It truly isn't.

With Tim, working the boy too hard is something between
habit and necessity. He is quite dangerously
(exhilaratingly) excited by nearly all aspects of his training,
and so wearing him out is, frankly, the best teaching
method he's been able to come up with.

Especially since Barbara seems to have little ability to
resist the boy's more playful tendencies, and Dick has
not, as of yet, taken a serious hand in the boy's training

He knows, with a blend of satisfaction and greed, that
*that* won't last -- the boy has too much natural
acrobatic ability for that -- but, for now...

The boy sleeps on his stomach, for the most part.

On nights when he's dreamed -- or is dreaming when
Bruce enters -- this changes, but the boy's difficult
memories are clearly leaving him be tonight.

Bruce leans in, waiting for the boy to note his presence --
his shadow seems excessive over Tim -- and tugs the
covers up, slightly higher.

The batarang is clutched with perfect form in the boy's
left hand, and his brow is smooth. He is...

The boy is content.

Bruce is not.


It has been three months, and his body -- his self -- is a
great deal more accustomed to the quality of silence
the boy adds to the manor with his sleep.

It's easier to move through the place as if it *is* his home
(easier than it has been since the days when he would
find Dick in the den, or the kitchen, having a late snack),
and Bruce is grateful.

It's just...

There are other things, now, to shake off in the effort
to become Bruce Wayne again for the coming daylight.

There is the way Dick looks at Barbara when all three
of them work together, and the way Barbara doesn't --
quite -- return those looks. Silent miscommunication,
and it is...

There's something awful, and even sickening about the
relief he feels when he and Barbara work together as
well as they ever have. Or perhaps it's just the guilt,
older and more familiar than he would care to admit

All of the aspects of the Mission which call to the selfish
parts of him, all of the wordless needs.

All of the pleasure, and all of the reasons why he'd
ignored every silent request Dick had made with his
eyes for Bruce to turn Barbara aside -- including the
ones which have nothing whatsoever to do with her
abilities or the practical considerations.

He needs them both, for far too much. Even when, like
now, the problem of how they interact as people -- as
opposed to soldiers -- makes the idea of sleep

Or... no.

Because there is the boy, and the fact that it requires very
little effort not to wake him, even when Bruce actually
sits on the bed.

His shadow falls over the boy's back -- bare in the summer
heat -- because the boy has forgotten, again, that no one
will scold if he asks for the temperature to be reduced.
Alfred prefers the warmth, of course, and Bruce has
grown accustomed to sleeping naked, or nearly so, but...


He wants the boy to be comfortable.

He'd made Dick laugh three afternoons past. He makes
Barbara laugh each and every day. He...

He shifts when Bruce strokes the skin of his back, careful
of the boot-shaped bruises Barbara had left.

He shifts, but he does not wake.

Not until Bruce uses a firmer touch, and...

Three months, and he can no longer blame reflex.

Tim makes a soft, half-asleep noise, and pushes against
Bruce's hand before turning over onto his side. Toward
Bruce, and, if he leaves it like this, if he takes his hand
*away*, the boy will sleep again, gradually shifting
back over onto his stomach, and, perhaps, clutching
the batarang harder.

Most of the time, Bruce does just that. Most of the time.

He strokes the boy's back again, and his hair, and the
knuckles of his left hand.

Tim sighs, and frowns, and, after a moment, opens his
eyes. His expression is blank and sleep-dazed, and, after
a moment, he makes a soft, questioning noise.

"It's nothing," Bruce says, and strokes his hair again. I'm
so very glad you're here.

"Mm," and the boy blinks, and shifts closer.


It has taken an embarrassingly long time for him to give
anything like thought to Nightwing. To the *concept* of
Nightwing, and the way it means so very much *more*
than the darkness of Dick's new uniform -- darker,
even, than his own -- and the length of his hair.

It's a name he's chosen for himself -- though one which
has made Clark irritatingly *interested* in coming to
Gotham to speak to the boy about what the name
means in terms of Kryptonian history, of all things -- and

It's many other things as well.

Dick still makes jokes -- often quite terrible and
inappropriate -- but he never seems to be precisely
pleased by them, even when Bruce makes his own
displeasure known.

He has begun working with them more often, but for
every kick he remembers teaching the boy, and every
flip he remembers Dick teaching -- or trying to teach --
him, there are others which have nothing to do with
their shared history whatsoever, and everything to do
with the two years Dick had spent traveling the world.

It's thrilling and terrifying and strange, and there is no
comfort in the familiarity of Barbara's small frowns.

And, perhaps, far too much in watching Tim use the
moves he learns from Dick. There is no strangeness for
the boy in them, nothing to differentiate them from the
blocks Bruce has been teaching for years, or the punches
and strikes the boy has picked up with gratifying speed
from Barbara.

There is a sense of completion in Tim, something...

Tonight, before they'd left him with Alfred -- and,
perhaps, his homework -- Dick had gone over an uneven
bars routine with the boy for the better part of two
hours. Dick is patient with the boy, but not gentle, and
the patience fades entirely when the boy plays.

When Barbara is there, she takes the time to point out
that Dick had once been the same way, and Dick doesn't
look at her quite as much, or as often.

The boy had looked to him, one eyebrow quirked on a
face flushed with exertion. Bruce had looked at the tensed,
hard lines of Dick's back, and gestured. And Tim had...
shifted his behavior without a word, playfulness buried
under focus until Dick had relaxed, once more.

Until the routine was perfect.

There hadn't been time to...

He doesn't have the words to thank the boy for this, and
Bruce knows -- he thinks he knows -- how Dick would've
reacted to the sight of him rewarding the boy for
something about which Dick is perfectly correct in terms
of it being how the boy *should* have been behaving all

Still, Tim is not Dick, and not even a full night's patrol had
taken away the urge to...

There's the phantom of an itch in his palms, maddening
and steady, until he can return to the manor. Until he
can crouch over the boy and stroke him, and... yes.
Tension, even before he wakes.

Dick had worked him very hard, tonight. In a way... they
both had.

It *is* reflex to stroke away the knots, and the boy wakes
with a groan.

"You didn't stretch."

"I --" Tim yawns, and stretches beneath him, shifting and
wriggling until the blankets are far down his back. "I

"Hm. Not enough."

Tim scowls, mildly. "How was patrol?"


This earns him something like a fond smirk.

The boy has grown accustomed to... very much.

He falls asleep again before Bruce can decide whether or
not to test his legs for stiffness.

He doesn't wake again when Bruce does, and Bruce
wonders what dreams come from those soft sighs and


He finds Dick staring at the Robin suit, early one afternoon
when the boy is still in school.

He can't quite find the words he wants to say, and there
are too many questions for him to even begin. He waits,
instead, and after another several moments, Dick says,

"You designed this for me."

Bruce nods. "I tried to come up with something --"


Bruce frowns. "I started with something much closer to my
own, actually..."

Dick makes a 'hm' sound, and sets the tunic down,
reaching for the gauntlets, instead. "Closer than this?"

"The first designs called for grey and black, like my own.
You... I thought you'd appreciate something. Brighter."

Dick laughs, softly.

'It wasn't enough,' Dick doesn't have to say. The first
time he'd seen the sketches *Dick* had done, he'd been
too stunned to laugh. Red, gold, black, *and* green,
and -- In retrospect, being stunned had been a blessing.

"Sometimes I think I was insane to want the suit to be
even *more* colorful."

He'd stopped feeling the same the first time he'd seen
Dick in it. He hadn't, after all, been able to imagine *not*
making it for him. "It suited you."

"Oooh, that was a pun, Bruce," Dick says, and smiles. "A
*weak* one, but..."

Bruce forces himself to frown. It has become increasingly
difficult to fall into the rhythms Dick demands for their
interaction, as opposed to just drinking in every moment
of Dick's *comfort* around him he can get.

He has lost so much.

Still, when he clears his throat, Dick raises an eyebrow
instead of stiffening again.

"This is the one you kept."

"I kept all --"

Dick waves him off, and wanders to the case -- empty
now -- where *this* suit had hung before Tim had picked
the lock and taken it for his own. "You know what I
mean," Dick says, and strokes the glass idly.

"Did you... did you want to know why?"

Dick smirks at him over his shoulder, sharp and hard. "Not
really. Mostly, I want to know when you're going to let the
kid out on the street."

Bruce shifts, internally, and refocuses. "I was planning on
asking your opinion on that, actually."

The surprise on Dick's face is damning, and painful, and
brief. "Personally? I think he's about ready. He's good
*enough* now, especially since he knows a lot more than
I did when *I* started."

Bruce nods. The boy has had all of them for teachers, after

"You don't agree."

It isn't a question. "It isn't that --"

"But?" Dick leans back against the case, and it seems
strange that his eyes are so clear and blue -- no.

That Bruce can see his eyes, as opposed to the blank
white lenses of his mask. And he doesn't know quite how
to say how much he's been enjoying -- *this*.

The time of training, when he can count on Dick's
presence more often than not, when Barbara is becoming
even closer, even *more* one of them than Bruce had
ever dared to hope.

When Tim is... here. *Just* here, with both his safety and
the sheer selfish pleasure of the boy's increasingly
practiced, increasingly *deft* movements are assured.

"Bruce --"

"Soon, I think. Soon."

Dick snorts at him, and moves toward the gymnastics
equipment to begin the routine checks he does before going
into his own routines, and, of course, before training Tim.


When the boy has nightmares...

He doesn't, often. It's one of the many things so surprising,
so... so *rich* about him. Bruce had, actually, spared more
than one moment's thought for what he might do in order
to find Tim a home which was not his own.

He just hadn't spared very many.

There are excuses for that, just as there are excuses to
pull the boy into his arms and use the force of his touch,
his *hug* to wake him from whatever thing (it's his
father, it has to be his father) is haunting his sleep, but
they are *just* that.

Excuses, and weak ones, besides.

The boy pants and make soft, exhausted sounds against
him, breathing hot and damp through the material of
Bruce's robe.

Not his skin, and it would be so *very* easy to --


It isn't the first time Tim has called him by that name
before anything else, when the first conscious thought
in the boy's mind --


It isn't the first time, and so Bruce has the wherewithal
to do no more than clutch a little harder, and wonder,
with faint regret, what he might have done had he been
touching the boy the first time it *had* happened.

"Sorry, Bruce, I guess --"

"It's. Are you all right?"

It feels like a lie to ask. It *is* a lie to ask. He knows all
he needs to from the scent of the boy's sweat, and from
the way his heartbeat is slowing, calming.

He is... he is just that close.

Tim shrugs in his arms, shifting enough that Bruce has
no -- *excuse* -- not to loosen his grip. He shifts it to the
boy's shoulders, instead, and watches him turn away.

Away... no.

"Tim." His own voice is too sharp, but it makes the boy
look at him again.

The boy's smile is wry, but... this is something else Bruce
has grown accustomed to, which he's come to crave more
than a little. There is none of the day's sharpness in the
boy's features. He is much too tired for that. "I'm okay,"
Tim says, and reaches past the grip Bruce has on his
shoulders to push a hand back through his dark, sweaty
hair. "Really."

"Hmm," Bruce manages, and it's another lie. He knows,
after all, that the *boy* is telling the truth.

But Tim lets Bruce pull him close again, just the same.
*Lets* him, and the difference is obvious. He's waking
up more by the moment, and when he uses the material
of Bruce's robe to scratch at his own cheek, the motion
is deliberate.

Bruce breathes deeply and strokes the boy's bare back,
as gentle as he can be over the large scrape Tim had
gotten when his roll away from one of Barbara's kicks
had sent him skidding off the mats and onto the stone,

He isn't very gentle anywhere else.

"I *am* okay, you know," Tim says.

"I know." And I don't want to let you go.

"Okay," Tim says, and shifts in his lap. The collar of the
cape the boy will wear soon will cover most of his neck,
just not everywhere Bruce is touching him now.

When Tim wraps his arms around Bruce's chest and
squeezes, lightly, Bruce can't quite stop himself from
imagining how the gauntlets will feel. How his own
might change the way he's touching the boy now.

If Tim would shiver, or flinch, when Bruce traced the
thin, strong layer of muscle over his ribs, or merely --

Tim yawns again, and hums.

Bruce closes his eyes and reaches back up to stroke
Tim's hair. His... his face, where the skin is warm and
still faintly damp from sweat. His lashes tickle Bruce's
fingertips when he blinks, but he doesn't, actually, open
his eyes.


"Yes." His own voice is... is --

"Mm..." And Tim yawns hugely and nuzzles Bruce's chest,
shifting with slow deliberation until he's spread over
Bruce's lap with his ear close to Bruce's heart. "Batman..."

Bruce manages *not* to tighten his hands bruisingly hard
on the boy. He also manages not to push him back down
to the bed with his own body and --

He breathes, wondering at the way the boy *doesn't*
react to the telling, *terrible* hitch, and strokes Tim's
back, and lays him back down --

"Batman... what --"

"Sleep," he says, and while he doesn't *mean* it to be a
curt command... it works. The boy turns over on his
stomach and sighs once, and his breathing deepens nearly

Bruce makes it back into his own room before he has to
bring one of his own hands to his face. The memory of
the boy's scent is vivid, and the traces of it on his fingers
is... visceral.

He moans at the first touch of his other hand on his
erection, and strokes himself viciously until he comes.


It isn't a surprise that the jump-line work Tim is doing
with Barbara has become a game of suicidally
dangerous sky-tag, or that Barbara is whooping and
showboating nearly as much *as* Tim.

It also isn't a surprise that, thus far, he's only been able
to make himself watch. It had been... difficult enough
with the shorter lines in the Cave.

Out here, in the night, with the flashes of red triggering
both old memory and new *need* --

Tim releases his line much too soon, and tucks himself
into a ball before tumbling through the sky to land
nearly perfectly at his feet.

Barbara follows, flushed beneath her cowl. Her eyes are
startlingly bright, and both of them smell like sweat and

Tim spares him a glance before moving to his feet,
reaching to strike Barbara's palm.

Bruce catches his wrist and lifts him -- slightly.

"Aw, c'mon, Batman --"

"The kid is *good*," Barbara says, and Bruce turns his
back deliberately to focus on the boy.

"That wasn't the path you were supposed to take, or
the method."

The boy scowls at him, narrow and, of course, sharp.
The fact that he is, at this point, actively dangling from
Bruce's hand doesn't appear to have any relevance
whatsoever for him.

"Robin --"

"*My* way was quicker *and* more fun."

"There's a time and a place for games," he says, and
lets the boy drop again before turning to Barbara with
an effort.

Her eyes are still shining, but her mouth has a twist
which manages to be both suspicious and rueful.

"Do I have to tell you the same thing?"

"Not even *remotely*, Batman. C'mon, kiddo."

Tim growls, and mutters with distinct and precise obscenity
under his breath. Just loud enough for Bruce to hear.

It's only the tenth night the boy has been allowed out with
them, and it's the third time Bruce has sent him back
home, again.

Sent him... sent him *away*, and Bruce has not yet been
able to send him alone. He trusts the boy, and there is no
order which the boy has ever actively disobeyed, but...

There is a thought he has, a terror of the way the manor
will feel if the clock opens and he can't *feel* the boy.

He watches Barbara and Tim swing away from him, and
continues his patrol alone, finding Nightwing only in the
handful of criminals the man has left tied and neatly
labeled for the police as he works his own patrol in
patterns Bruce has only been able to make guesses at.

He comes home both tired and restless, hurting and
itching somewhere beneath the skin, too raw to do more
than push the cowl back over his face before checking
on the boy.

Tim has kicked the covers off in one dream or another,
but he's sleeping calmly again, on his belly with his
head turned away from the door.

The batarang is on his bedside table, as it often is these
days. His skin is --

Bruce considers, for long and breathless moments, moving
closer. Close enough to lift the covers from the floor, and
detangle them from the knot the boy has left them in,
and cover him again.

He's wearing only pajama bottoms and his room...

His room isn't cold enough to disturb his *sleep*, much
less require Bruce covering him again. And tonight...
tonight he would do so much more than that.

He leaves, and forces himself back down to the Cave, and
works until every yawn feels both painful and useless.
He needs far more than oxygen.


In his dreams, Nightwing's terse, entirely adequate and
accurate reports shift and tease, words skittering off
the edges of the page, movements fast and jerky
enough to pull his attention from the grey and ghostly
images of *other* words between the lines.

Even in the dream, the meaning is irritatingly obvious.
Just the same, he can't bring himself to wake -- there
is always some hope, however pathetic and small,
that his subconscious will offer some answer, some
new *possibility* -- until the air currents shift.

His door is open.

He feigns sleep reflexively for another several moments,
but has to stop at the sound of a half-repressed yawn.

He knows those yawns so well.

The bed dips very slightly with Tim's weight, and...

The boy is not, actually, as warm as Bruce's skin is
telling him he is. If so, he'd be feverish. *Sick*. As it is,
he is merely close, pressed and curled against Bruce's
side. Bruce takes a breath, and considers, and --

And stops, because Tim makes a low, frustrated sound
and crawls on *top* of Bruce, sprawling himself over
Bruce's chest before settling down again. His hair is a
ticklish brush against Bruce's chin, and.

Bruce can't breathe, at all. Everywhere the boy is
touching him is screaming, raw and demanding *more*.
And Tim...

Even settled, even on his stomach, Tim doesn't entirely
stop moving. And Bruce has come to know those
movements far too well. The shift which suggests
minor stiffness in the boy's left shoulder, the stroke of
the boy's chin on his collarbone, and the sigh which...

Bruce has neither the armor nor the more dubious
protection of his Bruce Wayne clothes to protect him from
this, now, and his hands move without his permission,
stroking the boy's sides, lingering on his developing
obliques for long moments before moving to his back.

Pressing him close, holding him --

"Mmm, Batman..."

Holding him down. "Tim."

Tim looks up, finally, blinking sleepily, and smiles. And
squeezes Bruce's waist with his legs. "Hi, Bruce. Still mad
at me?"

He should ask the boy what he's doing here. He should...
he can't. He's *asked* for this, for *precisely* this
degree of inappropriateness, because... because right
now, he can't quite remember the last time he'd let the
boy have a full night of uninterrupted rest. The last time
he'd denied himself this feel. This *touch*...

"You are, aren't you?" Tim's tone is low, and regretful.
"I know I shouldn't --"

"No," he says, and lets one hand splay across the center
of the boy's back. "I'm... not angry."

Tim smiles again. "Then... *can* I sleep here? For a little
while. I just..." He shifts, stretching this time, and strokes
Bruce with his inner thighs.

Or, perhaps, just using Bruce to stroke himself. If the boy
were taller, he would already be able to feel how badly
Bruce --

"I like the way you smell. The way you feel..."

"Hmm." He can feel nothing but where he's touching the
boy. Everything else is nearly numb, and entirely irrelevant.
Tim is awake now, almost fully -- it's visible in the
sharpness of his grin, the raise of his eyebrows.
Dangerous. So --

"I like it when you touch me at night, Bruce. I'm..." The
boy frowns, obviously searching for words. Obviously
*not* meaning...

Bruce can't. "Tim."

"I wish you'd do it all the time."

There's something powerful about the sight of the boy
on his bed, on his back. Something which gives Bruce
pause, when perhaps nothing else right now could.
He doesn't remember the decision to roll them over.
He doesn't remember the decision to pin the boy's
wrists against his pillow.

"Oh. Bruce...?"

He closes his eyes, for a moment. "Yes." He can't keep
himself from tightening his grip.

Tim's soft, low moan makes him do it even harder.

But. "Do you want this from me?"

Tim's eyes are wide, and his lips are parted. He's covered
in the shadow from Bruce's own body, and if he *doesn't*
say anything, Bruce will --


The boy takes a sharp, hitching breath, and -- moves.
No, struggles. But. It's not an answer, not really, and if
he --

He needs an *answer*. "Tim --"

"Please touch me."

He's -- only -- just beginning to harden when Bruce cups
him through his pajamas, but.

It's very fast, after that. Very...

Tim arches into the touch, *his* touch. He moans -- soft
sounds of surprise and *desire* -- and the muscles of
his forearms tense and relax and tense again under
Bruce's other hand.

 "Oh... *ohh*..."

When Bruce kisses Tim, he shouts into Bruce's mouth,
tensing harder, and Bruce squeezes him reflexively and
shudders, inside, at the rush of *warmth*.

He lets go when Tim whimpers into his mouth. He -- he
*tries*. The best he can do is to relax his grip, and to
lick the boy's tongue before pulling back. He tastes like
Alfred's cocoa, edged with the faint sourness of sleep.
He... Bruce leans in and licks his tongue once more,
and, when he pulls back *this* time, the boy's penis
twitches under his hand.

Tim's eyes are even wider now. Dark and dazed and
faintly, undeniably hypnotic. He'd made the boy look
like this. He'd made the boy...

"I -- *Bruce*."

It's fervent. It's. There are so many things he wants to
do. So many things which he has, to date, only allowed
to flash across the edges of his consciousness those
times when he hasn't been able to stop himself from
masturbating. Image and scent and *speculation*.

Tim licks his lips and moves again, stretching against the
hold Bruce still has on his wrists. "I want... do you want
to fuck me?"

Dangerous boy. *Knowing* boy, and Bruce can't help
but think of all the times he has stopped himself with
something like incomprehension. "Yes," he says,
honestly, and watches the boy shiver. *Feels* it. And
*then* he can let go.

Tim sits up quickly, leaning in, and then pauses.

Bruce... it's an ache, now. Steady more than maddening.
He's had months of just this feeling, after all.

It's still different -- and somewhat terrifying -- when the
boy leans back and lifts his hips off the bed before
skinning off his pajama bottoms and tossing them over
the side of the bed. The shirt follows, and Bruce
wonders when the boy had put it back on.

He doesn't need to wonder *why* he had, and -- the
throw isn't the best. One arm remains on the sheets
while the rest dangles over the side, and --

And the boy is in his arms, again. Naked, abdomen slick
and pressed to his own.

"Bruce. You can do anything --"

"Tim," he says, and the warning is, perhaps, only clear
to his own ears.

Tim makes another briefly, mildly frustrated noise, and
the boy's legs are around his waist again. His hands
are on Bruce's shoulders, and his mouth is... very close.
Red and wet. "I mean it. I *want* it."

"You didn't, when you came in here." He shouldn't be
shocked at his own capacity for honesty. He should be

But Tim smiles at him, *for* him. "You changed my

It shouldn't be so easy to kiss the boy. It shouldn't feel
this right to suck on his tongue until he moans, until he
*moves* against him. He's somewhat small for his age,
having filled out more than grown. The length of his
thighs suggest he'll eventually be far taller, but, at the
moment, he's still shorter than even Barbara.

Shorter than Dick when *he* was that age. Already, he
has watched a gratifying number of criminals assume
Tim was an easy target because of this, and...

His mouth. His long, lean legs flexing around his waist,
his arms around Bruce's neck. The boy is... Tim is
perfect in his arms, mobile and *willing* --

Bruce stabs at the boy's mouth with his tongue -- too
many times to count -- before leaning back. He squeezes
Tim's shoulders to still him when he tries to follow.


"It will hurt. Perhaps... badly."

The boy exhales sharply once, twice. "The first time."

Bruce doesn't bite him. Yet. "And the second." The third,
if he can't make himself *wait*.

Tim's mouth falls open on this exhale, and his eyes
*gleam* in the dimness. "I trust you," he says, and
*shoves* against the hold Bruce has on him until he
can kiss again.

Until he can *be* kissed. The boy calls him 'Batman' when
he isn't thinking clearly. The boy...

The boy doesn't fight him when Bruce lays him back
down. And spreads his legs, planting his feet and offering.

If he tongues the boy, he'll need to take him immediately.
There is no guarantee that fingering him will be any less
maddening, but. He has to *try*.

He cups the boy's right thigh and pushes, and Tim lets
his leg be bent back to his chest, and fans the other out,
breathing hard, fast. The images are, of course, right
there for the taking.

It hadn't taken long for Dick and Barbara, between them,
to make the boy as limber as he is now, but the first
few sessions... Tim had stopped complaining, very
quickly, about "just" stretching. Bruce remembers the
sight of Barbara's hand on the boy's thigh, just like this.

The smile on her face, and the sweat which had broken
out on the boy's forehead as Bruce watched, and he
pushes, just a little more --

The sounds are brief, choked. He's trying so hard to be
quiet. So...

Bruce slicks his fingers as much as he can, and then can't
do more, do *better* than just pushing until his index
finger is as deep as it can go. "Breathe."

The gasps are noisy, high things, and --

"You don't have to be entirely quiet," he says, and *wants*
at the feel of the boy flexing around him. Fighting him.
He looks at the boy. "*Breathe*."

"Bruce... Bruce, oh -- inside me --"

"Yes. More, soon." Yes. So --

"Ohh... oh God -- I --"

The tightness eases -- slightly -- with every sound the boy
makes. Every... hm. If he can keep the boy... there's a
*rush* crashing through him, making ten years of
adrenaline surges and accidental or malicious poisonings
seem laughable, ghostly. He has, perhaps, the perfect
*excuse* to demand that the boy make noise for him.

"I -- oh Bruce -- oh --"

"Say it."

"Oh, *fuck* me, Bruce --!"

He flexes his finger, just once, and the boy spasms,
*moans*. "Again."

"Fuck me -- fuck me, *please* --"

"Yes." And Bruce pulls out a little before pushing in

"*Oh* --"

Further this time.

"God -- *God* --"


The sounds grow more incoherent with each thrust, and
the flexing becomes... more focused. Directed. Tim is
tight enough that stimulating the boy's prostate is
wonderfully, terrifyingly easy. He's doing it already,
every time. A crook and he could...

No. He wants more first.

He tightens his hand on the back of the boy's thigh in
something he could, if he were an even weaker man,
pretend was a warning, and pulls out until just the tip
of his index finger is in. And then pushes back with
his middle finger as well.

The boy tenses and stills, tellingly. There are reassurances
he could offer. Soothing words which would not be...


"It hurts," he says, and there's a curious satisfaction to the
blank and almost conversational tone of his own voice. An
honesty to it which --

"I... yes -- Bruce -- Bruce --"

Honesty is, perhaps, the best he can hope for. He pushes,
slow and steady, and the boy shudders and bites his lip.
Bruce bites his own, and promises himself hours just to
pleasure the boy. Just to --

This moan is loud, long and helpless and deadly, choking
itself off when Bruce flexes his fingers in helpless reaction.

Tim is softening again, and his thigh is shaking against
Bruce's palm, damp with fresh sweat. The smell... the
*scent* of him. It feels like another excuse. Like... like
something *more* shameful to take the boy's penis into
his mouth.

Even when he flexes and screams before muffling himself
with his own spasming fingers.

That Tim begins working himself between Bruce's fingers
and his mouth is unsurprising, but still rawly wonderful,
still *gratifying*. Perhaps even more than the next scream,
or the *next*. Cooling semen and warm -- *hot* --
pre-ejaculate on his tongue. The damp, clumsy brush of
Tim's fingers on his face, and his sounds grow choked


And when Bruce crooks his fingers, Tim grabs a handful
of his hair and comes in his mouth, gasping soundlessly.

The sound returns when Bruce pulls off, a moan for every
exhale. *Louder* with every exhale, and the boy's gaze
burns into his own, wide and unblinking. There's an edge
of hysteria.

"Breathe," Bruce says, again, and the boy stares.

Moans more, *stares* more and -- *keens*.


And -- there. The next keen is choked off into a needful
little hum.

Such... such a wonderful boy... "That's right..."

"P-please. Bruce --"

He crooks his fingers again, and Tim arches, gasps because
he's working Bruce's fingers inside himself *more* -- the
realization or the *feel*? -- and falls back to the bed. "I'm
going to start. Start thrusting again --"

Tim pants, mouth twisting into an entirely unfamiliar
snarl... no. It's unfamiliar because it isn't a snarl at all,
and Tim *sobs*,  shuddering again before stilling.

"Oh, Tim..."

Every thrust is an effort, now. Against the boy's virginity
and against the coiling, maddening knowledge of his own

The fact that he hasn't -- yet -- injured the boy should not
be a victory, but --

It is, whispers a voice he doesn't want to hear.

And Tim turns his face against the pillow and closes his eyes
and. And *lets* him. So good. So quick and willing. So
*trusting*, as if it's entirely sensible for Tim to offer his
body for Bruce to reshape for his own needs.

It is, the voice whispers again.

It's a test to crook his fingers again, but he can no longer
say of *what*. He also can't bring himself to care, because
every hard rub makes the boy gasp, makes him flex and --
yes. Working himself back on Bruce's fingers again.
*Wanting*, even if the sounds he's making are ambiguous
and strange.

It's... too charged for clear thought. Too *emotional*. As
much as his own need, as much as everything the sight
and sound and *reality* of this boy, this *new* boy, has
done to him over the months. He's shocking Tim,
*changing* him with this, and the fact that he can guess
some of what the boy must be feeling is irrelevant.

It's *new*, and the boy is.


Bruce leans in, and teases the boy's sac with his tongue,
licks away the last few drops of semen and sucks at the
soft skin before moving to swallow him again. *Holds* him
there, in his throat, and rocks his fingers in and out, hard
and slow enough for the boy to retain Bruce's rhythm even
as he hardens.

Even as he sobs for... for...

Bruce isn't sure.

He pulls off again --

"N-n-no, please, please, Bruce --"

"Soon," he says, and means it. The boy tastes... Bruce's
tongue curls in his mouth and he takes the boy harder
again --

"Ohhh -- God, *Bruce* --"

*Faster*, again, and it *is* easier now. Easier and --

He should make the boy orgasm again before he --

Every brush of his own pajama bottoms is torturous,
impossible and *painful*, and all he can do is keep
*thrusting* for another endless stretch of time until he
can believe that he *isn't* just telling himself that it's

When he pulls out, Tim gasps and reaches for him, and
Bruce is biting the boy's fingers before he realizes he's
caught his hand. His wrist, and the boy's pulse is fast
and strong --


Tim's eyes are wide, and... and *understanding*. He
knows hunger. He knows... so much.

Bruce slips the boy's fingers out of his mouth and presses
the boy's hand to his hole, instead, and watching as he
swallows and *touches*. Slick fingers, and the reddened
imprint of Bruce's teeth. Watching, *yes*, as he teases at
himself, or... or perhaps this is just an examination.

Tim pulls his knees back further, shaking a little at the
strain. Even Dick had rarely demanded quite so much
from the boy --

"Do... should I..."

He can't *breathe*. "Yes," he says, ignoring the low growl
of his own voice as much as he can. "But not now."

Another gasp.

*Another* when Bruce shoves his pajama pants down,
when Tim sees him. Sees him and reaches to squeeze
himself, stroke himself and lick his lips and watch *him*.

Bruce hisses at sudden cold, and -- again, his body is
moving, working without his permission or the pathetic
remnants of his capacity to reason. The lubricant isn't
especially cold, but he has been aroused for much too
long, now.

It should be a blessing to know that he won't last very
long, but he still can't keep himself from growling in

Even when the boy shakes.

"Hold yourself for me. Your... thighs."

Tim moans and squeezes his own erection. "I --"

"Do it." He isn't sure whether it's better or worse that
*this* growl is intentional, but the boy's nod is jerky and
fast. And Tim obeys him without a word, closing his
eyes and -- yes.

The first push feels impossible, and makes the preparation
Bruce had done seem pathetic, at best, but he'd expected
this. And the boy breathes for him without being told,
*yanks* himself spread and open, demanding more of

Perfect. He's...

Biting his lip to keep from screaming, and even his failure
is beautiful. As beautiful as his flush, as his twitching,
spasming erection, as the tensed white of his knuckles
on his flushed thighs as Bruce *pushes*.

Tim arches for it -- for *him* -- the muscles of his throat
flexed to the point where the screaming begins to quiet
and die under the boy's need for breath, and --

*This* attendant rush of images is nearly overpowering --
his hand on the boy's throat, his body grinding the boy's
own against the mattress, the floor of the cave, the hood
of the *car* --

He can't steady his push and he can't be *slow*, and the
slap of his sac against the boy's skin is far more damning
than the boy's strangled gasps.

But inside...

So warm. So close and --

The boy spasms around him, whimpers breathless --

He could come, just like this. Just *from* this. He should.
He should --

He knows the growl is his own, but it's meaningless to the
way it feels to let himself fall on his hands, to let himself
cover the boy and *thrust*.

Shadows, again, and -- the sounds are still so quiet, lost
under everything else, but when Bruce presses his mouth
to the boy's throat he can *feel* every sound Tim's trying
to make.

Over and over, and he understands, he --

He doesn't want to choke the boy. He has to *hear* this,
*soon*. Nearly as much as he needs to suck and take the
boy. No. *Fuck* the boy, one thrust after another.

Tim's knees knock against his ribs, Tim's thighs shake --
*quiver* -- for him, and he's tight, so *tight*, and Bruce's
orgasm is blinding.

And not enough.

The boy takes a shuddering breath, throat moving under
Bruce's tongue, and whimpers, softly.


It takes a moment -- and a breath which sounds faintly
pained -- for Tim to answer. "Y-yes..."

"I'm going to take you. Again."

The boy swallows, twice, and Bruce sucks hard. He'll leave
a mark, but the cape will -- oh, this *boy*.

"Do you understand?"

Another swallow, but Tim nudges him with his knees. It's
an answer, even though it isn't, quite, the correct one.

Bruce sucks again, because there *is* no alternative, and
leans back. And pulls out, as slowly as he can.

Semen and lubricant on his penis. Nothing else. A blessing.
The suggestion is there, of course. To leave it like this, to
take the blessing *as* a blessing, and treat it with all the
gratitude it deserves. The suggestion doesn't touch Bruce's
*body*, and, perhaps, it can't.

The boy is pliant, heavy with exhaustion when Bruce turns
him over. However, once he pushes the boy onto his
knees, he's steady. It doesn't matter that Bruce knows it
won't last.

He slicks himself more, again, and considers masturbating
over the boy's back. The rational part of his mind growing
clever, perhaps. He wants *that*, too. But not as much.

He pushes in, one not-slow-enough *stroke*. And it isn't
easy, but it's... a question of relativity. Compared to


"Hnn -- oh -- y-yes --"

Bruce cups the boy's slim, smooth hips and squeezes. "Let
me hear you."

"Yes --"

He pulls out --

"B --"

And *shoves* in --

"*Bruce* --"


"Please -- *please* --"

*Again* -- shuddering in his *hands* --

"P -- Bruce, oh *God* --"

Not enough. Not *enough*. He holds on tightly and lets
himself sit back on his heels, pulling the boy with him --

The scream is brutally lovely, *raw*, and the boy is shaking
again, pulling *against* him.

Bruce *yanks* him down and Tim shudders and keens for
him, gasps and *yells* for him, shakes in his arms and takes
it. Every stroke, every thrust, every --

He squeezes the boy's hips *again*, and feels himself
sweating, but all he can smell is the *boy*. All he can taste
and all he can *feel* --

"*Touch* yourself."

The boy whimpers and nods and reaches for himself,
squeezing himself and shaking his head, muttering and
sobbing again, and Bruce bends enough to lick some of
the salt from the boy's cheeks and has to growl again,
has to fuck his way in *faster*, harder.

The whimpers become rhythmic, and it's all too easy to
imagine himself shoving them out of the boy's throat with
the force of his thrusts.

He *knows* it, and --

The boy comes, gasping and *flexing*, and Bruce lets go
of one of the boy's hips for long enough to yank the boy's
hand up to his mouth again. The *taste* of him is a
confirmation and another deadly *thrill*, and he holds
onto the boy's fingers with his teeth, because he *has*
to hold the boy steady now.

And because he can.

The boy is limp, soft and -- and nearly *liquid* in his arms,
even as every muscular spasm pushes Bruce closer to the

His noises have lost the rhythm again, falling into one
unsteady moan after another. Helpless sounds, *tired*
sounds, and there's a queer kind of symmetry to this.

It's --

It's just what he *wanted*.

Bruce moans and digs his fingers into the sweaty, shallow
bowls of the Tim's hips, and pulls him down onto himself
once more, holding the boy there until he stops spasming.

And continuing to hold him there until he can breathe
again, and achieve something resembling thought.

Tim is making a soft, low 'hnn' sound with every exhale,
and it doesn't change, even when Bruce lifts him off.
Even when Bruce turns him, and pulls him against his

His face is wet, his back slick with sweat, his belly and
thighs slick with semen. His cleft is hot, and feels --

Tim whimpers, shifting awkwardly. It takes a moment to
realize that he's attempting to spread himself over Bruce's
lap again, and then Bruce has to clutch him.


"I... Again?"

"Yes," Bruce says. "But not tonight."

Tim nods against his chest. And pauses. And then brushes
the scar closest to his mouth in a rough, slick nuzzle.

It would be obscene to ask the boy if he's 'all right,' so he

He lifts them off the bed and carries the boy into the
bathroom, setting him down on his feet and holding him
upright against the wall with one hand while the water
warms in the shower.

When it's right, Bruce lifts him in, and joins him.

And washes him thoroughly.

Tim rests most of his weight against the tile, but has
enough... *enough* to shift for Bruce's hands.

He should let him... rest.

It should be gratifying that the voice of reason has once
again attained the ability to form, however stiltedly,
complete sentences. Bruce resists the urge to laugh at
himself -- it's a sound he feels no need to hear -- and
turns Tim to face the wall before dropping to his knees.

And tongues Tim until the boy's whimpers begin to grow
louder and more purposeful.

Bruce pauses and breathes, scraping the stubble on his
jaw against one of Tim's cheeks, the other.


"Would you like to come again?"

Tim shivers and pushes his hips back toward Bruce's face.
"Please, Bruce. P -- *ohh* --"

Bruce cups the boy's sac, petting and squeezing, and licks,
and wants.


He growls against the boy's hole and holds on to his left hip
and *takes* him, squeezing in a rhythm designed more to
serve his own needs than -- He *squeezes*, and takes him,
until the boy jerks and moans.

He wants... *more*.

Bruce stands again, and rests his palm against the center
of the boy's back, holding him still against the wall and
stroking himself roughly.

"Bruce... Bruce, are you jerking off?"

Crude, and accurate. He rubs at the boy's skin with his
thumb in a rough, slow circle. "Yes. I'm going to... to
come. *On* you."

The boy tenses and struggles. "My mouth. I -- I can --"

Yes. *Yes*. He hadn't *considered*, and has to jerk
himself roughly another time, and another, before he
can release the boy, who drops -- nearly *falls* -- to his
knees and opens his mouth and -- and --

Too much. Too *much* --

Bruce watches his semen splash the boy's cheek and
mouth and makes another promise to himself.

Another *several*, and the urge to laugh hits him harder,
this time. "Hmm. My control isn't the best."

Tim blinks, and licks his lips, and shivers, and stares up at

Bruce smiles ruefully, and cups the boy's face. "I'm going
to have to wash you again."

Tim blinks, again, and... laughs aloud. A rusty, hoarse
chuckle that makes Bruce *seize* inside. "Oops?"


The boy is reasonably steady on his feet. There's no
reason to carry him. Bruce does, just the same, and Tim
loops his arms around Bruce's neck. He has no pajamas
for the boy in this room. He...

He can't even begin to move toward the door. He strips
the most stained cover off the bed and lays them down,
pushing until Tim disentangles himself and rests on his
back, watchful and quiet.

The bruises on his throat are darkening already. The ones
on his hips are...

Tim has school in an hour, and... It's a strange
phenomenon, to be able to *feel* simple fact become
mere theory. Bruce strokes Tim's cheek with the back of
his hand, and watches the boy's eyes slip half-closed. If
he kisses the boy again, he won't be able to stop.

He'll deepen the stubble-burn around the boy's mouth,

It's an effort not to do it, just the same.

Especially when Tim opens his eyes again and scrapes his
teeth *very* deliberately over the back of Bruce's hand.

Bruce narrows his eyes, more to keep himself from doing...
*anything* than for any particular reason. The boy's
tongue is pink and sharp. "Sleep."

Tim bites him, once, and lies back. "Sure thing. Batman."

His smile curves like Barbara's, and cuts like... like Dick's.
His eyes are even more knowing than before. Even
more... It should, perhaps, not be a surprise. It should
only have been *expected*.

Bruce hears himself make a small, pointless humming

And strokes the boy's chest until he sleeps.

Until he can *see* it.


Deer Crossing the Sea

Many things were like sleep,
wholly in the power of the forest,
the deep middle, deep shiver, deep shade,
from which many things ran, unawake,
in search of new mountains to graze,
covered in flowers, my love, I am sick,
or covered in snow, pink with algae,
in search of impossible light
made of water, whose sapphire waves
swathed their heads, you were only a dream,
as they swam out to meet it, kicking their hooves,
no longer breathing, because no one
or nothing can quit once the body gets wind
of an eden the promise of nectar
haunts them forever, the shore pecked out
of their eyes, and there, in its stead,
something greater to catch,
a scent that would paralyze God.

-- Larissa Szporluk