A hundred thousand hours
by Te
September 23, 2009

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: It's that there trip around the world.

Summary: "You didn't name this yacht The Flying Dutchman, did you?"

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which does and does not dovetail with the content some readers may find to be disturbing.

Author's Note: This wasn't the story I wanted to write, but Dick always leads me ridiculous places. So.

Acknowledgments: With love to Pixie, Jack, and Mildred for audiencing in the face of trauma.


He can't touch Tim anymore. He's too -- too serious.

It's not that he wasn't *always* a serious little guy -- emphasis on the *little*, and knowing that he wasn't any smaller than Dick himself had been --

By the time Dick had met Jason, Jason had been *solid* -- and growing more with every chili dog and snuck cigarette.

Tim -- and he's known this for years, and so should probably *start* getting used to it -- actually enjoys wheatgrass shakes and -- Dick has *seen* this -- will take time out of his busy patrol schedule to lecture kids about the dangers of smoking.

And drinking --

And everything else.

Tim is straight as a *die* -- in some ways.

Just some.

Dick has been paying a little too much attention to the other ways. To --

Yeah. He's doing this. Right now.

The Cave is empty save for him and about -- at last count -- three hundred extremely tolerant bats. He's on the uneven bars. This routine...

He's never actually tried to do it in his sleep, but he's willing to bet that it would go just fine.

So long as he didn't dream --

Dick isn't thinking about his dreams right now. He's thinking --

Little things. One: Young Master Tim has two -- count them -- of the t-shirts Superboy had worn when --

When. There's a part of Dick which wants to know if he *really* wants to do this now --

God, Tim had given Superboy a *Case* --

No. No. He's doing this. He has to, because if he doesn't... well, he'll just have to think about those dreams, now won't he? The question makes those annoying parts of his brain shut right the hell up, which -- yeah. Back to one.

Neither of those t-shirts made it into the Case. One is stuffed in the back of Tim's own t-shirt drawer -- just where a boy who wanted people to *think* that everything important about him could be discovered in a cursory search would put it. The other... well, now, that was interesting, wasn't it?

Not in the closet, not in any of the well-built secret compartments, not under the bed, not in the even *better*-built secret compartment near the foot of the bed, not in any of the parts of the Cave Tim had made his own. No. *That* t-shirt -- slightly stiffened with old sweat but nothing more damning -- had been carefully pulled taut over Tim's pillow, stitched in place, and hidden under the pillow-case.

Tim had insisted on doing his own basic housekeeping when he'd agreed to move back into the manor.

Tim --


But see, thing one *could* just be a question of grief and how well none of them really handle it -- Kon-El had been Tim's *best* friend -- but.

None of Steph's things had gotten the same treatment.

Thing two: When they *do* talk about women -- and girls, can't ever forget girls, Tim's still young enough *for* girls -- it's always Dick who starts the conversation. It's always Dick who *leads* the conversation, who has to coax and tease and *encourage*, and --

Haven't those conversations always been somewhat generic on Tim's part? Of course, his feelings for Steph had been deep, true, *real*, but --

Tim would *express* pleasure for the form of this or that heroine -- or villainess, if Dick were feeling more in need of proof of Tim's basic *humanity* --

He's not thinking of the -- the fucking *dreams* --

Generic. Tim. *Bland* -- Tim. No eyes narrowed in pleasure. No flushed cheeks. No attempts to look away --

No, there *were* a few of those if he remembers correctly -- and he knows he does. But, in accordance with thing two, all of *those* moments had occurred when Dick had gotten *himself* a little excited, leaning in, wanting more --

Thing two is so, so *dangerous* --

Dick leaps down into his dismount and paces, moves, gnaws his thumb, *moves* --

Oh, look where he is now. The Case.

The *lie* --

He should take a damned baseball bat to the thing, rip Jason's suit out and drag it right to wherever the asshole is holed-up now. Look what we have for you, Jay. Look what you gave *up*. And --

And after Jason had laughed in his face and made another attempt to *maim* him, then...

Well, then Dickie would run right home, wouldn't he?

Right. Back. Here.

He hadn't thought he'd have any of the new dreams in the bed he'd slept through his childhood in. He really -- he really hadn't.

He's not thinking of the dreams, or of how dangerous thing two can be, because --

Oh, because there's thing three. Yeah. That.

Every smile. Every laugh. Every dare accepted and every hug leaned into. Just a little. Just -- enough?

There's laughter in Dick's mind right now, rattling around his skull like some -- some --

It's not the right laughter. It's not. If it *was* the right laughter, then all of that *would* be enough for Dick, and Dick wouldn't be spending so *much* fucking time running away from his dreams, and --

Oh, running away. Now *there's* a good phrase. Five hours from now they're piling into the Rolls with their *real* luggage in the trunk. Five point seven five hours from now -- or thereabouts -- they'll all be boarding a yacht with a terrible, forgettable name --

Joining the *fake* luggage they'd had carted to the thing for the sake of appearances --

Not much more than six hours from now, they'll be setting sail on a voyage around the world which will take them damned near everywhere Bruce had gone twenty-some-odd years ago. They'll learn, they'll train, and maybe they'll start looking each other in the eye again.

They're running away.

They don't really have a choice. Not -- not after everything. Not *with* everything this world needs them to be --

Who they need each *other* to be --

Dick covers his face with his hands and rocks on his heels. Forward into the mild warmth radiating from the Case, backwards into the *eternal* chill of the Cave --

He needs to sleep. He needs --

The dreams --

Dick checks the tape on his wrists and moves to the pommel horse. He can sleep on the damned boat.


"I need to ask you something," Tim says, and his eyes are sharp with a light Dick can't name but *wants* to --

"Anything, little brother. You know that."

"Um -- hm. Well..." Tim strips off his t-shirt, revealing an 's' burned into his chest -

"Jesus. Jesus, *what* --"

"Clark burnt out the nerve endings first. It was entirely safe --"

"*Tim* --"

"It's just that I *loved* him, Dick. Loved him, wanted him -- when he touched me I shook for him. When he kissed me? I moaned. When he fucked me --"

"Don't -- don't *tell* me this," and Dick feels himself staggering back, tripping over things --

Where is he? Where --

He has to wake up. He has to wake. He has to --

He can *hear* himself --

I have to tell you this, Dick. I have to because you need me to. Because you *want* me to --"

"I don't -- I *don't* --"

"But you have to understand this, Dick. You're my *brother* --

Dick shouts and sits up hard enough that he promptly bangs his forehead against --

Well, it's probably called a bulkhead or something like that. Something --

He's awake. He's safe --

Dick laughs at himself and isn't in the least surprised by how hollow it sounds. God, he --

He'd stopped wearing watches once his time-sense developed, but right now...

Right now he can't tell whether he'd been asleep for two hours or twelve. He listens --

They'd left the crew Bruce profoundly didn't need -- and neither he nor Tim *will* need once Bruce is done with them -- in the Bahamas with a hush-bonus... two days ago.

Assuming he hadn't slept --

All Dick can hear is the ocean. All Dick can smell is his own fear sweat. All he can *feel* --

God, he hadn't let Tim ask his *question*. He has to --

Dick shakes himself like a dog. The last question Tim had *actually* asked him was whether or not he was all right, to which he'd answered in the affirmative. He'd fooled neither of them, but some things need to be said. Some dances need to be danced.

In the dream, Tim's forehead had been clear and smooth.

In reality, Tim is peeling a little from what will likely be the first sunburn of many -- sunblock or no sunblock -- and his brow is furrowed from -- everything.

Everything making him too damned *serious* --

He has every right to be.

Dick gets up and moves into his nightmare routine. The first kata he'd learned, followed by the eighth, followed by the sixth, followed by -- "Bruce, this cabin is way too small for both of us right now --"

"Stand down," Bruce says, using words instead of the gesture which would've led to Dick breaking several bones in his hand with that last kick --

"I need --"

"You slept for four hours. You need more than that --"

"Thank you, and yes, I know that. This -- you know what I do," Dick says, and moves into the twenty-fourth kata, the one which always forces him a little, drives him --

His ever-so-slowly-healing thigh *hates* this kata --

"Bruce, just -- Christ, did I wake you?"

Bruce shakes his head minutely, and -- heh. Really --

"How *much* are you missing the supercomputers right now?"

Bruce's smile is a slash in the dimness, too *bright* -- "Not as much as Tim is."

("I need to ask you something.")

Dick doesn't -- doesn't make a *sound* --

"Dick... we should. Would you tell me?"

Dick stands down, absently rubbing his thigh and letting his hair hide his face in perhaps the most obvious tell he has.

This is where Bruce says something non-committal and backs out of the cabin. Or --

This is where Bruce gives an order with about half the conviction he used to have when they were partners. Or --

This is where Dick lies his fool head off in the interest of -- of -- momentum, maybe? Dick looks up and smiles ruefully. "You know how it goes, Bruce. You *taught* me how it goes."

Another tiny head-shake. "We're not training right now. Nor are we --"

"Training never *ends*, Bruce."

A wince. God -- a *wince* --

"I -- I'm sorry --"

"It's all right," Bruce says, raising his hands -- lowering them again. "Will you let me examine the wound on your forehead?"

"The what now?" Dick frowns --

It *hurts* to frown --

And when he reaches up to touch, there's a thin skim of blood there --

Blood droplets on the floor --

And the *bed* -- "God, I'm -- a danger to myself and others," Dick says, and tries out another laugh. It's better than the last one. "Apparently I was doing the katas with my eyes closed --"

"You often do."

Dick frowns again and fights back a wince -- Bruce really is just *filling* that doorway. "You couldn't have gotten a you-sized ship, boss?"

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "Much larger and it would, technically, be an aircraft carrier, Dick."

Dick snorts *helplessly* --

And there's another slash of a smile, which -- yeah.

Okay. Dick sits on his bunk, tilts his head back, closes his eyes, and smiles. "Do your worst, tough guy. I'm -- uh. I can take it."

Bruce hums, and Dick can hear him retrieving the first-aid kit *this* cabin is equipped with -- and he knows damned well that *Alfred* had packed those, so --


The alcohol swabs sting.

The prodding makes him want to growl --

Or it could just be because Bruce is this close to him. He's been -- he's been *doing* that just lately -- ever since Dick had run home after the Tarantula business --

God, *Catalina* --

Bruce touches Dick's cheek with two fingers. "Once, we were able to speak about the nightmares which afflicted us."

Dick hums... noncommittally.

Bruce's laugh is closer to a sigh than anything else. "Yes, I recall the rest as well," he says, and dabs on the antibiotic cream. "I made you stand at attention and *recite* your dreams to me. I... Dick, at the time... at the time, it was the only thing I could think of to make you talk to me."

Dick blinks and opens his eyes. "I -- really?"

Bruce's smile is rueful. "I did somewhat better with Jason... in that I'm reasonably hopeful that he did not find the experience as traumatic as the dreams, themselves."

"Are we -- talking?" About *Jason*?

The smile is gone -- and Bruce looks away.

Crap. Fuck -- "No, I -- it's all right -- *ow* --"

The bandage is, of course, placed perfectly. And Bruce takes a step back. "I... I'm going to read, for a time."

"Bruce --"

"You should sleep," Bruce says, meeting his eyes for a *moment* --

Dick lets him go. He can't --

He can't.


Much of the yacht's space is taken up by a gymnasium which is just large enough that the things they do in it aren't *insanely* dangerous, as opposed to merely wildly so.

Right now, Dick is watching Bruce and Tim make capoeira look infinitely more serious than it ever, ever should.

They're not even playing any *music* --

Granted, Tim hadn't brought any CDs with him, at all --

Tim owns *hundreds* of CDs, and his mp3 collection is close to half a terabyte --

And, for a while, it had been a quietly cheerful question in his mind -- was there *ever* a time when Tim actually listened to any given song more than once? Was he just the sort of collector who kept their possessions in Mylar?

The musical version of a crazy cat-lady?

Tim is too serious now. Just -- not *all* of his music should remind him of dead people. Right? At least the Enya should be --

All right, capoeira and Enya are two great tastes which do not, in fact, taste great together, but -- still. *Bruce* can spar in this style while never actually feeling a single rhythm save for the ones inside his own body. Tim is much, much too stiff.

(And, within him, there's a voice laughing about excuses.)

Dick claps his hands together hard. "Time, guys. Tim needs a new approach."

Bruce stands down smoothly and nods.

Tim --

Tim is staring down at the *mats*, and --

Dick is his brother. Dick can -- he moves, cupping Tim's shoulders and stroking down his lean, tightly-muscled arms, back up -- "You're *not* bad at this."

"Mm. There's a reason I rarely use these moves on the street, Dick."

"Yeah, well, they *aren't* street-ready, but they *will* be. I promise. Come up on deck with me --"

"Training --"

"Is going to continue up there. C'mon, I'll slick you up with your SPF Nosferatu myself."

Tim's chest hitches, but there isn't even one of those little *Bruce* laughs to go with it.

"Tim --"

"I'm good," Tim says, twisting free and giving Dick a smile which had probably fooled the *hell* out of his father and Dana. And --

Bruce isn't looking at either of them, and he's not looking *loudly* -- until it quiets. That --

There's something --

And Tim raises an eyebrow at him.

All right, then. "Let's go."

As it happens, Tim is covered save for his arms, face, and the back of his neck. Absolutely no excuse whatsoever to --


The sunblock smells terrible, anyway. Dick moves to the railing and breathes deep. Sun and salt. They won't reach their first port of call until tomorrow, and that means they're far enough out that they might as well be the only humans in the world --

They aren't, and so it's time to train. "Okay, little brother. Settle yourself into that halfway-meditation for me."

Tim nods once, and Dick watches Tim's expression grow distant, watches him --

*Feels* him tense up all over and then slowly -- so incredibly slowly it *hurts* -- relax his body one spot at a time. It's the same way he does it, really, and the knowledge that Bruce had taught Tim Dick's way instead of his own...

There's pride for that, and fear -- what is he *doing*? What happens when everyone figures out that when he *isn't* following Bruce's rules and edicts he's just making all of this up as he goes along?

Dick watches, and watching makes him slip down a little, too, makes his energy feel just a little diffuse, dangerously *detached* --

No, he's solid in himself. Present. *Here*.

Ready. And so is Tim. "Listen to the ocean. To the waves slapping against the ship."

Tim nods *slightly*, and when there's a gust of wind he leans naturally with it, allowing his body to bend a little --

"You're so good at this, little brother..."

Tim raises an eyebrow *slowly*.

"Heh. Trust me. You *know* most people can't put themselves under like that."


Dick sighs and copes. "All right, fine, *don't* take a compliment. Move with the waves."

Call it *half* an eyebrow raise... and then Tim nods and begins to sway -- ending with a jarring little jerk for each slap of the water against the hull.

"Good, smoother," Dick says, and clenches his hands into fists to keep from reaching out. He's not down anymore. He's not --

Tim spreads his arms and starts moving his body in rough ovals, starts --

"Yeah, *flow*."


"Use your feet, too."

"I -- a kata?"

"Not yet," Dick says, and lets -- lets himself. Close enough now to smell the sunblock, close enough to *guide* --

Maybe a little tai chi -- yeah, *that*, because Tim knows how to let his body do this, knows how to give *in* to his own energy --

("When he fucked me --")

Just -- hands on Tim's shoulders, fingers stroking as Tim moves, as Dick moves with him --

"I -- I do realize you're trying to remind me of how I dance when I'm undercover, Dick --"

"Close, but no cigar." I'm trying to seduce you. I'm trying -- "I want you to go deeper than remembering, deeper than *cover*..."

Tim sighs. "I really am very White, Dick."

"*Nobody* is as White as you were downstairs, little brother --"

"I believe the proper term is 'below,' Dick --"

"*I* believe -- that you have a serious fear of failure working on you right now."

Tim stiffens --

"No, not that. C'mon, back down."

"I --" Tim nods and fixes his breathing. Dick can't see his face right now, but he'd bet that that distant look is back, that --

God, stay *with* me -- "That's right... just like that. Don't stop moving."

A move --

A sway --

And Tim is tapping his fingers against his palms to a beat that has nothing to do with the ocean and *everything* to do with --

Dick forces himself to breathe slowly, *easily*. Dick forces himself to back away. He claps in the rhythm Tim's chosen -- "Now."

Tim dances into the second capoeira kata, and -- it *is* dancing. Just as wild and *loose* as he'd ever been when playing one kind of club kid or another, just as -- nearly perfect.

"Deeper, Tim," Dick says, and adds a little complexity to the rhythm of his claps, a little --

Dick plays on his own chest and abdomen, glad he'd skipped putting on another shirt after he'd sweated through the first one sparring with Bruce --

Getting tossed *around* by Bruce --

Pinned when his thigh had given out --

Dick grits his teeth a little and lets the percussion say it for him, watching for the moment, the need --

It's always a need --

"*There*," Dick says, because Tim looks lost to almost everything save for what the rhythm demands, looks -- "Good, little brother, more," and Dick speeds up the rhythm, holding it there --

Tim spins, tumbles, kicks, *moves* --

"You got it. More."

"I don't -- I don't know if I can *do* this on the street --"

"You just sink down, little brother, down and down. You *feel* this rhythm --"

"*Yes*, but --"

"But the other rhythms are necessary, too. More compelling. I hear you. C'mon, more," Dick says, letting the rhythm guide his stalk into Tim's space before he stops and attacks, and --

Tim is good, *so* good, because Dick is using the karate that's in Tim's *bones* at this point, but Tim isn't countering with anything *but* the capoeira, swaying and dancing, bobbing and flipping --

"*More*, Tim --"

And the attack comes with a *different* rhythm, closer to salsa than dancehall, and Tim's gaze never leaves Dick's own, never --

"*Yes*, it's --" Dick bends back to avoid a kick that wanted to take his head off, tumbles, flips up -- "Sex, Tim. It's --"

"I generally like my sex less *violent*, Dick," Tim says, and that would be *enough* to knock Dick off his game *without* the light dancing in Tim's eyes --

He's missed that light so *much* -- *play* with it. "I -- that's a fair option, little brother, and I don't judge you for it --"

A snort in the *middle* of a flurry --

"But -- the motions are that natural, that *right* --"

"There's nothing -- I don't --" Tim growls softly -- the growl that means he *would* shake his head if he wasn't concentrating --

"You do --"

"I don't *have* this."

Did you ever? Never? Oh, *please*, little -- *Tim* -- "Then I'll show it to you, show you everything --"

Tim stutter-steps back away from Dick's renewed attack -- "You can't."

"Tim --"

"You can't show me. No one --" Another growl, and Tim flips back -- stands down. "I think it's time for me to head back down for more punishment."

It is. It *is* --

"Here is perfectly fine," Bruce says, and steps out of a shadow that had no right to *be* there --

And it says *something* that *both* he and Tim stiffen for that, but --

Tim doesn't give Dick a chance to laugh it off before he's nodding and moving into a ready stance. Damn --

Bruce pauses at Dick's side to cup and squeeze Dick's shoulder. "Excellent technique," and his voice is low and approving, but there's a question in his eyes --

And then there isn't one, at all.

Bruce moves between them and gets into his own ready stance.

Dick -- breathes. And settles onto the railing to watch. Maybe one of them will accidentally knock him into the ocean.


The sigh lasts too long for comfort, for --

This isn't about comfort, because Dick doesn't *do* that, anymore. He can't ever --

He can't make this anything but what it is. Anything else would be obscene --

"It's not obscene, Dick," Tim says, arching against the ropes tied around his wrists and ankles, rubbing himself against the sheets -- maybe to ease the itch from all the sweat --

"Does it -- can it --" Dick doesn't have words for this feeling, he -- "It's always like this --"

"With you, yes. Don't make me wait. Please."

"Tim --"

"Please, Dick, do it, you have to -- you have the *knife*."

He does. He --

The lightning bolt on Tim's chest isn't bloody, at all. The skin gaps, yawns as Tim stretches --

"But really, Dick, you're the one with this kink."

"No --"

"I told you that I didn't *like* violent sex, Dick."

"You *lied* --"

"Are you sure?"

Dick gasps -- and his body remembers to put a hand up before he knocks himself against the bulkhead again. He'd *padded* the thing, but --

Safety first?

Dick covers his face, opening his mouth to let the laugh out --

It's a groan.

He's hard. He's --

Usually, he's *not*, but --

Dick sobs -- and bites his lip against it. He doesn't have to --

"Will you talk to Tim about your nightmares?"

"*Gah* -- I -- Jesus, Bruce --"

"I'm sorry," Bruce says, and, now that he's paying attention, Dick can make out Bruce's shape in the dimness. He's wearing cream-colored pajamas, and somehow --

Somehow, in some *way*, this all makes sense. Dick will go with it until he figures out how. "I -- hadn't been planning on it."

"Perhaps you should."

"Yeah, boss, and maybe you should see a shrink you don't have to beat unconscious sometime."

"Hm. Anything is possible. May I come in?"

He's *hard* -- but just because it's been a few years doesn't mean that Dick doesn't still remember how to -- deal. Dick waves Bruce in and turns to sit with his back against the wall and the sheets bunched in his lap.

Bruce crouches next to the bunk. "Tim has been having nightmares, as well."

"I -- that. That isn't a surprise."

Bruce nods. "He won't... he offers me the subjects of them, but little else. You tend to have the worst of your nightmares four hours into your rest cycle; Tim has his own three hours in."

Dick bites his lip -- stops. "You're still at two and six?"

"Like a very particular sort of clockwork. I..." Bruce rests a hand on Dick's knee. "I'm worried. About both of you."

Dick looks away -- *stops*. "I know. I don't -- what are Tim's nightmares?"

"Stephanie. His father. Kon-El. His stepmother. His mother -- after having years without those."

"God, I --" Dick puts his face in his hands. Just -- just for a *moment*. "I can't. I can't risk *giving* him mine, Bruce."

Bruce squeezes Dick's knee. "Always something to fear with Tim. He has a natural empathy..."

"Yes. *Yes* -- oh, God, I -- Bruce -- you know what I'm dreaming. Don't you?"

Silence, but it's meaningless against the shadows in Bruce's eyes, against --

"You. You don't have to answer --"

"Don't I? Dick... I want you to know that I understand --"

"You *don't* --"

"*Dick*. You have -- both of you -- suffered losses and tragedies beyond what most humans can bear. *Far* beyond, and in such a short time --"

"I need. So much," Dick says, and feels something tear in him, something -- "Strike that. Just --"

"I can't --"

"You -- why are you *like* this, Bruce? I can't -- I don't need your -- your *pity* --"

"*Dick* --"

Dick growls and stands, kicking his way out of the sheets and just *owning* the fact that he's hard, slick with sweat, that Bruce *knows* -- "Get out, Bruce."

"Dick, please," Bruce says, and then he's just *there*, cupping Dick's shoulders, squeezing, leaning *in* --

"You're not *like* this --"

"I'm trying. I -- I was like this with. With Jay --"

"And that worked so well?" Dick chokes on it, bites his lip -- "Sorry, Bruce, I'm not -- I didn't mean --"

"I think, perhaps, that you did," Bruce says, swallowing and stepping back. "Should I. Should I stop. This?"

*Which* this? "You --" Dick shakes his head, pushes a hand back through his hair. The cut is scabbed over, but the bruise still hurts far more than it has any right to -- cope. Think. *Something* -- "You can put a stop to a lot of things, Bruce."

"Are you sure?"

Dick *flinches* --

"Dick...?" Bruce frowns. "I -- that wasn't meant to be -- I don't want to *hurt* you --"

"It was just -- the dream. It was something --" Dick starts to cover his face, and isn't in the least surprised to discover that he's hugging himself. "Bruce, I don't. Know what to do. And you know that, you *knew* that --"

"This trip -- I wanted us all to begin again. As much... as much as is possible," Bruce says, stepping forward again and reaching *out* -- not touching. "Dick... he loves you --"

"*Stop* -- don't. Not that --"

"I've always known --"

"*Bruce* --"

"Then think about how much it would hurt him to know that he's the cause of *your* hurt --"

"He's *not* -- I -- there's no room to *pace* in here," Dick says, and damned well tries *anyway*. It's exactly as bad an idea as he thought it would be, since it leads to him orbiting Bruce like a particularly *retarded* satellite. Up on the bunk, down off the bunk, trip over the bulkhead -- "Who *designed* this ship, anyway?"

"I did."

"You *hate* me --"

"Dick, you don't *have* to stay in this cabin --"

"Yes, yes, I know there are others, but this one is now Dick-proof -- mostly --" Dick stops on his bunk and hugs himself again, rocks on his feet, laughs -- "I can't -- I can't take this from you."

"I want. I want you to."

"I know. Or -- no, that's a lie. Because if I *knew* that, then I *would* be able to take it, since that's just how I'm built. How you built me --"

"Come down," Bruce says, voice low and rough --

Commanding -- he's down.

He's down and Bruce is touching his hands, holding his hands, pulling him closer by his hands --

"Bruce --"

"Don't let yourself -- don't *hurt* yourself, Dick. Please."

"I'm not -- hurting anyone. I'm just. I just need a little more time to --"

"Berate yourself for a desire --"

"*Stop* -- I -- what are you getting *out* of this?"

Bruce doesn't *flinch*, but -- his eyes --

And Dick wishes that he couldn't *see* that, that he hadn't grown *accustomed* to the dimness -- "Oh, Jesus, Bruce, what *is* this?"

Bruce looks away -- but only for a moment. There's a smile on his face which is sad and old and *small*. "Families, I've been told, give each other what they need."

"You don't *know* what I need --"

"Then tell me. *Show* me -- or Tim. You could..." Bruce swallows and pulls Dick even closer, slowly wrapping Dick's arms around his own waist --

"God -- *God* --"

There's more warning for this hug than there's been for --

He *needs* warning --

Bruce is wrapping his own arms around Dick, moving in slow motion like --

"This is a *horror* movie, Bruce --"

"You may have a point," Bruce says, and pulls Dick that last half-step closer, stroking Dick's back, up to the back of his neck --

The squeeze makes Dick shudder, *twitch* -- "Bruce. Bruce. I can't. I don't *trust* --"


"*Myself* --"

"I trust you," and Bruce strokes up to the back of Dick's head, pulling Dick's head gently down to rest on his shoulder. "It's -- it doesn't have to be terrible."

Dick snorts and rubs his face against the silk, cool over warm skin, hard flesh -- "Oh, God --"

And Bruce's other hand is on his *hip* --

"Bruce --"

"Stay, Dick. Just -- for a moment."

Dick takes a breath and -- it hitches on the way in and shudders itself *out*. He's too close. *Bruce* is too close and he has to tell him that, let him know how dangerous, how *much* --

He can smell Bruce. He can't smell anything *but* Bruce, and this --

Too close. Too *close* --

Bruce *squeezes* Dick's hip and turns his head. "I love you."

Dick -- his knees don't buckle. He's better than that. He's *not* better than some seriously hysterical laughter, though, because that -- "That's not helping."

"Dick --"

"Just -- I wanted you to know. That I. Appreciate this, really, but -- you could also just stand across the room and glare at me from a shadow --"

"Please --"

"There are *lots* of shadows here, and -- and it could help -- *nn* -- all right, that's the kind. The kind of hug that can really --"

"What do you need."

Dick squeezes his eyes shut and pushes *off*. Just --

"*Dick* --"

"Let me. I think I'm going to sleep. And -- not think. About anything," Dick says, and it's -- it's *weak* that he can't even look at Bruce for this, but --

Bruce goes.

Dick sits down on his bunk.

He tries laughing for a while.

He tries other things, too.


The cantina is about as authentic as it can possibly get, considering the dirt floor, heavily-populated flypaper, evil-looking men smoking evil-smelling cigarettes, and -- a bonus which Dick appreciates -- the rotary phone.

The fact that the yacht *has* a satellite phone they can use at any time --

Some calls are different. Some calls --

"Christ, 'mano, you sound like you're underwater. And afflicted with underwater throat cancer. And underwater --"

"I get the idea," Dick says, smiling and using one of the disinfectant wipes he'd brought with him -- ooh, but his father would hate the *kind* of American he's become -- on the phone itself. The wipe doesn't bear looking at when he's done, and the lack of a visible waste basket --

God, if he were his little brother, his *insane*-making little brother --

"Dick? You still there?"

"Yeah. Just --" *Tim* would have a specimen bag. Dick has a pocket. "I need some advice."

"Only the expensive whores. You can afford it."

"Roy --"

"Yeah, I know, I miss you, you asshole."

Dick smiles helplessly. "I wasn't much to miss just lately --"

"You'll *note* that I didn't say how *long* I've been missing you."

"Heh. So you didn't," Dick says, and elbows the man coming up behind him in the nose. The clatter suggests that the knife the man had been holding -- Dick had seen the flash in the grimy mirror behind the bar -- had been an impressively large one. "Hang on just a sec."

"Yeah, sure."

Dick turns around and eyes the crowd. Drinking, more drinking, smoking -- "Ooh, I think I need to beat the crap out of some locals."

"I'll be here."

Dick sets the phone down, cracks his knuckles showily, and smiles. "Who's next?"

It takes five minutes, and another ten to move the bodies away from where he wants to sit with the phone. Dick buys five bottles of some frightening -- and frighteningly expensive -- tequila, sets them on the tables the men had come from, and picks up the phone again.


"Uh, huh. So what's going on that you need my advice?"

"I'm going on. And on. And on some more, actually."

"Yeah, but you *do* that, 'mano. Hang on, need a beer." In the background, he can hear the squeak in Roy's favorite chair as he rolls across the floor to his mini-fridge. "Microbrew or imported? How angsty are we talking, here?"

Dick sighs and orders another bottle of tequila for himself. "Very."

"Microbrew, it is. This stuff is like malty vodka."


"Don't knock it 'til I've poured it down your throat and gotten you to sing me show tunes, Short Pants."

Dick snorts. "That's -- the problem."

"Oh... hell, Dick. Seriously? You're getting wound up on *that* again?"

"Yes and no. Mostly no. Mostly -- it's the current wearer of the Short Pants."

"Meaning the little brother who you definitely, completely, totally would never think of in *that* way... except for how you totally do. Don't deny it."

Dick pours himself a shot, downs it, and winces. "I'm not denying it, anymore."

Silence. Too *much* --


"You're saying you've finally figured out what I've known for about --"

"Don't. Don't say how long. It'll just depress me more."

Roy blows out a breath. "Well... okay, then. What advice do you *need*? Hit that and hit it *hard*."

"God, Roy --"

"Don't even go there, 'mano. I've *seen* the way he looks at you. Half the damned *community* has seen the way he looks at you --"

"The timing. The timing is -- fucked."

"You don't think he *needs* a little comfort --"

"I can't. I can't do that. It wouldn't be. Comfort."

"Maybe not for *you* --"

"God, even Bruce -- he knows, Roy. He just -- he *looked* at me and he could see what I've been thinking, what I've been -- God. What I've been dreaming about."

"He's B -- he's *Bruce*."

Dick laughs and pours another shot. He downs that one, too. "There's that, yeah. Except when there is *not* that. Like -- let's just say he told me that he loved me."

"He did *what*? Wait, I need to chug this."

"You go on ahead," Dick says, and deals with the oily feeling in his mouth by pulling up his sleeve and licking salty sweat from his arm.

"Okay, I -- I'm getting another beer." Squeak, roll, quiet thunk of the refrigerator door closing -- "Wait, are you drinking, too?"

"I plan on cutting myself off before this stuff blinds me. Beyond that..."

"Maybe... hell, Dick, you know me, but -- maybe not tonight? Or maybe you should bring the rest of that bottle back to the Love Boat."

The snort hurts. "That could be... um. I'm not sure it'll help, Roy."

"Booze is not the enemy, 'mano. Well, okay, it's kind of *your* enemy, but -- uh. It's not the Dark Lord?"

Dick laughs until he stops. "I think I'm gonna kiss Bruce for all the wrong reasons pretty soon."

"*Just* kiss?"

"You'll note that I didn't say *where* I'd kiss him."

"Maybe it's time for you to drag all the *right* reasons back up, Dickie. I'm just saying -- they aren't going anywhere."

"He's my father. And Tim's my brother. And I -- I just want it to make a little sense."

Roy sighs. "Sometimes. Sometimes the only sense *is* what you can make. You've known that for years."

Dick frowns at the bottle. "I want -- the dreams -- God, Roy, I wish you were here."

"There's nothing stopping either one of us from getting on a plane, 'mano. Just to put that out there."

"It -- it would feel like I was running away again --"

"Dick --"

"*In* you. No matter which way we swung it --"

"It *wouldn't* be --"

"But it would feel that way, and somebody really... really pretty smart pointed out to me that I can and do make my emotions bigger than the real world," Dick says, and he can't smile for that.

He knows Roy is wincing. Fuck.

"It wasn't a bad thing to say --"

"It was."

"*Roy* --"

"I was trying to get you to *see* me as opposed to actually trying to help -- it was a fucked thing for me to say."

Dick squeezes his eyes shut -- and *stops* squeezing the cheap little shot glass. "I -- still wish you were here."

Roy laughs. "Why? Wanna not-comfort me a little?"

"Jesus, yes. You -- you've always made so much sense --"

"Ah, 'mano. You know that's not what you need."

He does.


"*Oh* --"

"Don't move, little brother -- don't even fucking *breathe* --"

"Yes -- *yes* --"

And it's black, everything is black, he has to turn the lights on --

"*Dick* --"

"God, you're *tight* --"

But he can't feel it, he can't feel anything, he has to --

Has to be *harder* --

"I love you -- always -- always loved you --"

"I *know* --" And he does --

He does --

Oh, God, he *can't* --

"Don't *stop* --"

And suddenly he can feel it, a grip on his dick and a *burn* in his spine. He's sweating and moving, crying out --

He's jerking himself hard and steadily. He's --

His mouth tastes horrible and his hand is too *dry* --

He'd make his little brother wet for him, make him slick, make him ready --

Dick licks his free hand and thinks of Tim jerking himself off. He's never watched. He's never *seen* --

Has Bruce?

Did Tim ever -- ever push open the door to Bruce's bedroom and have his knees try to give out for the scent?

Has he ever --

Dick sucks his fingers *hard* and squeezes himself, arches off the bunk --

Just -- Tim in Bruce's bed with his face buried in the pillow. Tim up on his knees, Tim moaning and giving it to himself --

No, not like this, not --

Dick slows himself down and switches hands, spasming for the familiar unfamiliarity, listening for the beat of another heart, the moan of someone *appreciative*. And maybe.

Maybe *Bruce* could appreciate his little brother, catch him the way he hadn't caught Dick --

The way he hadn't *chosen* to catch Dick, not then, not *ever* --

But the manor wasn't wired from top to bottom back then. Even if Bruce had noticed (he'd noticed) the dip in his sheets, the scent of teenaged need, the echoes of all that *noise*... he wouldn't have been able to watch it later. Even if he'd wanted to.

(He did.)

Tim would --

Tim had --

Dick squeezes himself harder, reaches down to squeeze his sac, tries to think --

The dream wasn't enough.

The dream just --

He wouldn't *fuck* Tim the first time, and he knows that it was the first time in the dream, that he'd somehow managed to do well *enough* to make Tim want it from him, need it from him enough to forget everything else, to focus *only* on Dick -- oh.

Oh, no.

Is it that? Is it --

Four *years* of having a little brother, *knowing* a little brother --

Knowing when to expect a blush, when to expect shining eyes, when to expect smiles that looked painful, felt wonderful --

And now this. Now.

Dick lets go of himself and clenches his hands into fists.

Four years.

And the fact that Dick can't drag Tim away from everything else anymore... is apparently enough to drive him right out of his fucking *mind*.

("I was trying to make you *see* me --")

Dick squeezes his eyes shut, but that just makes the blackness gain explosions of color, brightness he's too pathetic to *deserve* -- how needy can he possibly *be*?

Once upon a time, Kory had answered that question by throwing him down and *sitting* on his dick --

("Needy *enough*.")

More recently, Babs had said the same thing... and meant the exact opposite.

Dick laughs -- quietly. He doesn't really want to know what he'd do if Bruce were to come check on him *now* -- no. He knows *exactly* what he'd do. What he'd beg for, what he'd do his best to *take*.

He could use some --

He could use.

Dick breathes himself down into a half-assed meditative state -- all he's been able to manage for longer than he likes to think about, and significantly more shallow than the *half*-meditative state Tim could probably have managed on the worst day of his *life* --

Which was when, exactly? What day would he choose? What does that particular hierarchy *look* like?

The questions are enough to distract him until he's up with his robe on, but they don't get him out the door.

He doesn't want to know what gets him out the door.


The trick is timing.

Bruce has, in fact, taken to standing vigil over Tim for the twenty or thirty minutes every night he spends being wracked by his subconscious. This means that if Dick wants time alone for his own vigils --

His own *pathetic* --

The trick is timing, and Dick's sense of that isn't *always* terrible. This is the fourth time he's pushed his way into this cabin. Whether Tim had chosen to start sleeping with his door open or if it's something his little brother had worked out with Bruce...

Dick doesn't know. It's good *enough* --

It gets him here.

Right here.

They'd spent the evening going over everything they'd learned from the sensei they'd found, doing a little physical cross-reference with the things they'd already known --

Tim's doing so well. So --

Tim is *focused* on the training, throwing himself into it exactly like someone who doesn't want to think about anything else --

"I only want you to be that focused when -- when --" Dick swallows. He's good enough that that was more of a subvocalization than a whisper, but still. Still.

Dick crouches next to Tim's bunk and doesn't reach out. Not to the hand fisting the sheet, not to the furrowed brow, not to the tension in Tim's left shoulder.

Dick squeezes himself instead. "I know -- I know a part of you can feel me, little brother. I know it's no good, anymore."

Dick breathes deep, smelling the good soap Alfred had packed for Tim, smelling sleep and warmth --

"Once. Once, I could make you relax."

Tim groans in his sleep, frowns more deeply... and slowly begins to relax once more.

"I wish. I wish I could just hold you for a little while."

Dick leans in. Just a little.


He's going through his thigh-healing routine when Bruce joins him. Bruce doesn't say a word, though -- just starts in on weight training close enough to --

Close enough to hear.

To -- eventually -- smell.

Dick surprises himself by being happy about that -- it's distracting enough that he's not thinking about all the good, necessary pain which means that he's Getting There.

Too damned slowly --

He's getting there. He is.

Once he's worked his way through the routine and done a mental check -- he is, in fact, a *little* ahead of schedule -- Dick wipes himself down with a towel and decides to do a little weight training of his own --

Bruce breaks off from flowing through his katas and comes to spot him.

Dick thinks about saying something -- *demurring* -- but, in the end --

He can still use the distraction.

Bruce is wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

The t-shirt is sticking to his chest and back with sweat.

His hands are strong, square, long-fingered.

His thighs are columnar and --

Dick's jock is making itself known in several different eminently familiar -- and awful -- ways. Dick can't help but smile for that --

"Will you let me give you a rubdown?"

Dick blows out a breath for his lift. "We both know that's a terrible idea."

"You don't trust your control."

Do you trust yours? No -- "I thought we'd already established that, Bruce."

"You could consider trusting mine," Bruce says, and, "stop at twenty."

"Why? And -- why?"

Bruce smiles at him with his eyes. It's cold enough to burn and twice as --

As -- Dick moans --

Bruce's lips part -- slightly. "I would like to teach you new definitions of control --"


"Keep breathing," and Bruce lets Dick get up through fifteen --

Sixteen --

"It's a strange emotional sensation," Bruce says, and strokes Dick's knuckles lightly --

"God, I -- *talk* --"

"I have -- for *once* -- solid, mostly rational reasoning behind my desire to make love with you. And yet those reasons -- for all that they include such things as my belief that making love would *help* you -- are pathetically small things. Petty things --"

"Compared to *what*?" Dick stops at twenty and sits up, shoving a hand back through his hair.

"Compared to the fact that the need running through you right now --"

"As opposed to the need running through me when I was *fifteen*, Bruce?"

Bruce smiles again, showing *teeth* -- and crouches down beside the bench. He rests a hand on Dick's thigh. "You are... even more beautiful now than you were then. And the need you feel right now has but little to do with me."

"You *contrary* --"

Bruce raises a hand. "I have nothing to live up to in your eyes. I am exactly as weak and fallible to you, now, as I wasn't ten years ago."

"That's not --" Dick swallows and shakes his head, doesn't cover his face, doesn't chew his thumb -- "You'll always be Batman --"

"I --"

"Not really," Tim says, *appearing* halfway into the room with a nasty twist of a smile on his face. "Assuming I survive, that'll be my job."

Dick grits his teeth, but -- "I knew that. And it's not the same. And it's -- you're getting ridiculously good at stealth."

Tim raises an eyebrow... and then he inclines his head. "Thank you. My question is -- do I leave the two of you alone?"

"Yes," Dick says, at exactly the same time as Bruce squeezes his thigh and says,

"No. You should stay."

Tim narrows his eyes... and that expression means that he is carefully -- oh so very carefully -- biting the inside of his cheek. "I'm not sure about that, Bruce."

"That's fair," Bruce says, and strokes up Dick's thigh until his fingertips are just beneath the hem of Dick's shorts. "Just the same."

"Just the *same*," Tim says, and moves exactly *one* step closer, "none of us are in the right state of mind to embark on a sexual relationship. Or sexual relationships, plural."

Dick -- Dick stares, and stands, brushing Bruce's hand away. He moves closer on something he wishes he could call autopilot, and then he moves closer than that.

Tim frowns and lifts his chin to maintain eye contact, challenge -- dare?

If it's a dare --


If it's a *dare* -- Dick kisses Tim, keeping it slow and soft until Tim gives in to it, until Tim relaxes *enough* that it doesn't feel like Dick's trying to hold some -- some kind of *tree* --

Dick kisses Tim, and licks his way into Tim's mouth, and can do nothing to keep himself from making it dirty, wet --

Roy --

*Roy* --

Dick kisses Tim, and pushes one hand into Tim's carefully un-styled hair, and thinks about cultures with shorning, ashes --

Dick *kisses* Tim, and does it again, again --

Tim shakes in his arms and kisses him back, and he hasn't made a sound, he's barely moved --

Yes, yes, *please*, and he can cup Tim's hip and think of Bruce's hands, he can pull Tim closer and *push* against that lean body, strong body, *hurt* body --

Tim pulls back and turns away, panting and shivering --

"Tim --"

"Not. You can't. This doesn't." Tim laughs and shivers again -- "We could try just hugging it out."

"I can't do that."

"Because you've been --" Tim laughs and shakes his head, backing away -- not far. He looks to Bruce --

And when Dick turns, Bruce is still in his easy crouch, ignoring any number of injuries he's taken to his own legs, ignoring -- ignoring absolutely nothing else.

Tim sighs. "Am I or am I *not* supposed to pretend that I don't know that you've been imagining just this, Bruce?"

"More than this."

"I see," Tim says, and smiles another one of those cruel smiles, *warning* smiles --

"Tim. Don't," Dick says, and has a moment to marvel at how *calmly* that came out --

"Dick," and Tim turns that smile on him. "I'm just trying to let my emotions out in a timely fashion. You did tell me once or twice that that would be a *good* thing, didn't you?"

"I'm not --" Dick swallows. "I'm not strong enough for that, right now."

Tim blinks and frowns, turns away again -- "But you're strong enough to fuck me. I see."

"He wants to make you see, Tim," Bruce says, standing and moving close. "So do I."

"'Weakness into strength,' Bruce? Are we training?"

"No. We're not."

Tim nods slowly and turns back to them, looking back and forth between them. "Part of me is tempted to tell you both to do your worst."

Dick smiles ruefully -- he *tries* to smile ruefully, but he's too hard for that. Too --

"God, Dick, you look *ill* --"

"Touch me, Tim. Make me. Make me stop dreaming about you."

Tim takes a deep breath and shudders as he exhales. "I'm a virgin."

Dick blinks. "You -- *really*?"

That gets him a snort -- "Yes, *really*, Dick. I've never done more than *kiss*. Not my girlfriend, not my best friend. Not anyone."

Bruce takes another step closer, looming over both of them. "You feel as though you'd be cheating on them --"

"I *would* be, damn it -- I." Tim shakes his head again. "They're not dead in me. Except when they are. They're not -- I can't --"

"Tim," Bruce says, and Dick has to wonder why he'd ever believed that voice was better than the Voice, why he'd ever *wanted* something which could do this to him --

Make him -- make him fucking *ache* --

Dick clutches at Bruce's shoulder and keeps himself steady, *dealing* with the irony of holding himself up on the very thing making him *lose* it --

And Tim is almost panting through his nose now, looking back and forth and back again, clenching his hands into *fists* --

"Don't run, Tim," and Bruce cups the back of Tim's head. "Don't run from us."

"Because -- because you can't *take* it?"

"*Yes*, I --" Dick clutches at Tim, instead, pushing and moving him, forcing him to walk backwards toward the door, the bedrooms --

"Dick --"

"I *want* you --"

"*Dick* --"

"I -- I can make it so good for you, little -- little *brother*," and Dick knows his voice is fucked, that he's pleading and demanding, *clutching* --

And he lets Tim knock his hands away *because* it means that Tim isn't protecting his hips, because it means he can grip, *pull* --

Hold him and *feel* him --

God, why are they wearing their *jocks*?

Dick kisses Tim, and Tim doesn't fight, doesn't --

Doesn't *give* --

Dick knocks them down to the mats and tries again, and he's not surprised to find himself pinning Tim, pinning his little brother, making him *take* --

And the sound Tim makes when Dick moves to his throat is raw, loud, *mournful* --

This, a part of Dick's mind says --

The next noise is *worse* --

*This*, and it has to be his lizard brain, his weakness, his ugliness, his *need* --

"Dick, *please* --"

Dick bites and *sucks*, and Tim bucks under him, writhes, *sobs* --

Nothing violent, nothing cruel, nothing --

Everything --

Dick bites his way to the other side of Tim's throat --

Dick *thrusts* --

And Tim is panting for real now, working his legs --

Dick *shoves* one knee between Tim's own, shifts until he can *feel* Tim's jock, the hair on Tim's legs, the heat --

He licks Tim's ear -- "Let me taste you --"

Tim growls and *fights*, shaking his head and trying to buck Dick *off*... about half as often as he tries to buck for more.

"Soon, little brother, soon --"

"You -- you're better than this --"

"I'm *not*," Dick says, and it feels so good to finally say it, to finally *erase* everything he used to see in Tim's eyes --

Thing fucking *three* --

Dick kisses Tim again, taking the bites, the tossed head --

The *suck* when Tim catches his tongue --

The *jolt* when Tim opens his eyes and stares into him, *glares* into him --

Dick shakes --

And Tim flips them, rolls them, shoves his hands into Dick's hair and bangs Dick's head against the mats once, twice --

"*Tim*," Bruce says --

Tim cries out and kisses Dick hard, bruisingly hard, punishingly --

And Dick pulls Tim's t-shirt up and shoves Tim's shorts *down*, fumbling with the jock until he can lose himself in the feel of warm skin, sweat, the twist and flex of muscle, bone --

Dick growls and rolls them again, rearing back until he can *yank* Tim's jock away --

"*Dick* --"

And that was Bruce again, but he can't --

He *won't* --

"Say *yes*, little brother --"

Tim moans and bangs his own head against the floor --

Tim stops and opens his eyes, staring into Dick's own with passion, hurt, rage, pain -- need.

"Say yes to me and I promise I won't stop. I promise I'll give you everything you *want* --"

Tim *snarls* -- "You *can't*."

It feels exactly like being hit, like running smack into the real world when all he wants --

All he's ever *wanted* --

*Roy* -- Dick shakes his head and strokes Tim's cheek with his fingertips --

Tim shows his *teeth* --

And Bruce crouches beside them, taking Tim's hand in his own. "Control this, Tim --"

"What -- what are you *talking* about?"

Bruce's smile is cold, sharp, *Bat* --

Tim moans -- and cuts it off sharply. "Bruce --"

"Make of this... something with which you can live, Robin."

"*Batman*, you -- I don't *want* to live --"

"But you must. And you always do what you must."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut and *shakes*, body moving -- practically *vibrating* --

"Robin," Batman says, and squeezes Tim's hand *hard* -- "You have always been *precisely* what I've needed --"

Tim gasps and shakes his head --

"Choose your battles wisely --"

Tim *yanks* his hand back and sits up --

Stands --

"*Suck* me, Dick."

Robin voice. *Robin* voice -- "Tim --"

"*Do* it," he says, lips curling into another snarl, into something like --

No, it's not a sneer. It would be *easier* if it were a sneer --

Tim steps out of his shorts and jock and grips himself, stroking himself fully hard in what feels like a *heartbeat* -- "You need it. You need *me* --"

"All of you, little brother --"

"This -- hn. This *first*," Robin says, shoving his free hand into Dick's hair and pulling --

*Forcing* --

God -- oh, God --


But there is this:

The taste is its own fantasy, its own *moment*.

The feel, warm and heavy on Dick's tongue, demanding as a nightmare --

The sound of Robin growling sharply, rhythmically --

Every thrust --

Every *thrust* --


A *break* when Robin thrusts deep enough that Dick can swallow.

A *moment* when Robin sounds like Tim at his most hurt --

When Tim strokes Dick's face and *shouts* --

And Bruce is kneeling behind Dick and cupping Dick's shoulders, urging -- being there, being solid *enough* --

And Dick wants to tell Bruce that Tim needs him more, wants to point out the way Tim is shaking, the way he's crying out over and over --


Every thrust is ragged now, helpless --

His little brother is *helpless*, and it's *not* because of him, not --

He has to fix that. He's always needed to *fix* that, to be there, to be *right*, to just for one moment be *right*. Dick grips Tim's hips and holds them still and steady until Tim cries out again and opens his eyes.

Most of Dick knows that Tim can't really focus right now. The rest of him knows that Tim is *trying* to focus on him --

It's enough, even though he can't offer anything resembling a reassuring smile, anything but his own *need* as he works himself on Tim's dick, as he takes and *keeps* taking --

As he *begs* with every choked-off moan, every drop of sweat running down from his hairline, every bruising *clutch* of those slim, perfect hips.

I want you, he can't say.

I *want* you.


Bruce lets Dick be the one to hold Tim after he's collapsed.

Tim lets Dick hold him.

Tim --

Tim lets Dick lay him out once more on the mats, lets Dick kiss and bite his way all over his body until Dick is making the best love he can to Tim's navel, tasting sweat and just a *little* musk, just --

Dick moans when Tim cups the back of his head, moans again when Tim tugs until they're face to face once more --

"This doesn't fix anything," Tim says, but he's smiling when he says it --

But he looks so *sad* -- "I -- I know --"

"I would've -- anything for you."

Dick swallows back -- he swallows. "Roy -- tried to tell me."

Tim raises an eyebrow and seems to be thinking about it -- he nods. "If anyone would have, I suppose it would've been him."

"I couldn't -- you're my brother."


Dick winces because he *has* to --

"Yes, I suppose it would have to be that way," Tim says, pushing Dick back and sitting up. He leaves his hand on Dick's chest when he turns to Bruce. "And your... thoughts? Actions? Thoughtfully problematic actions?"

Bruce takes Tim's other hand and brings it close to his mouth. "Whatever you wish."

Dick winces *internally* --

Tim's smile is wry. "You do realize you're just giving Dick another reason to measure himself against you and find himself wanting, don't you?"

Bruce frowns. "I don't... what are you saying?" And then Bruce *looks* at him and his frown gets deeper --

"I would like to try being the subtle and unknowable one in this family. Just -- for a *day*," Dick says, and the laugh feels better than -- almost -- anything else. "A few *hours*, even --"

"Dick, why are you --"

"Because, Bruce, you're showing every sign of not needing to throw me around and -- ah..." Tim sighs and smiles wider -- "Have your way with me."

Bruce -- that's almost a *scowl* -- "Dick. I acknowledged my inappropriate feelings about Tim years ago. While he *wasn't* living within reach. Within my ability to *touch* --"

"Oh -- thank God," Tim says, and snorts. "Sorry, carry on."

"Dick... I won't say that you can't punish yourself for your desires --"

Dick chokes a little -- "Probably -- probably a good plan, boss --"

"I'm not --" Bruce shakes his head. "At the very least, you must not try to punish yourself for the *force* of those desires. I have learned -- you *taught* me -- that there's no *good* in that."

"Bruce... I -- you *saw* --"

"He watched you... loving me," and Tim's smile is back to being wry. "I suspect that he knows *very* well how that sort of love works."

*Jason* -- Jay. Dick looks to Tim and knows that his smile is really more of a wince. "Maybe you could skip the part where you take out your fucked-up relationship with me on Gotham."

Tim's smile broadens with something --

Tim's wider smiles always look so *painful* --

"No promises," he says, and strokes Dick's chest, splaying his fingers and staring into Dick's eyes --

Dick grunts when Tim's finger brushes his nipple --

Tim narrows his eyes, parts his lips -- "Dick..."

"Yes. I -- the dreams were." Dick shakes his head and starts to lean closer --

Tim holds him *back* --

"Please. Let me --" Dick squeezes his eyes shut just for a *moment* --

And that's Bruce's hand on the back of his neck, squeezing firm, squeezing *hard*, and it makes the tension leave Dick's body. *Most* of the tension --

"Brother," Tim says, voice calm and matter-of-fact. "Have you ever considered that you might have fewer issues about me if you just... let Bruce?"

Bruce makes a soft noise and squeezes *harder* --

"Wrong. Wrong *reasons* --"

"For all of this, Dick," Tim says, but he's close enough to breathe against Dick's mouth -- "Dick -- God, I can smell myself --"

Dick kisses Tim, and this time he keeps his eyes closed, this time --

Hand in Tim's hair again. Other hand -- on *Tim's* chest, on the nipple which feels hard enough, sharp enough to cut as Dick pushes his tongue between Tim's lips --

Tim *groans* --

Dick pinches, bites Tim's lip --

"Ah -- oh, God --"

"Too -- too *reasonable* --"

"*Dick* --"

"I know *exactly* how -- how selfish I am, little brother, how needy, how --" Dick licks Tim's cheek, licks his way back to Tim's mouth --

Dick *kisses* Tim, and owns that it's not enough, that it can't ever be *enough* --

"*With* me --"

Tim groans and forces his arms between them --

*No* --

But all he's doing is trying to get into Dick's shorts, scratching and scrabbling, petting and *reaching*, and Dick can't stop kissing him now, can't give him *time* --

Just this, just this one *thing* -- "Need me, little brother, *need* me --"

Tim rears back and bites Dick's jaw --

And Bruce grunts and *yanks* Dick back, works his shorts down, nearly tears Dick's jock *away* -- and doesn't touch --

"*Please* --"

"Be *specific*, Dick," and Tim sounds pissed and amused, stressed and -- hungry.

Dick smiles and knows that it looks drunk on his face, that he'd be *swaying* without Bruce's hand on the back of his neck --

But --


Kissing Bruce is every fantasy and none. He wants to hug Roy and he wants to point out that he *still* doesn't know everything about Dick, that there's *more* to him, more *of* him --


There is this:

Bruce's tongue is everything it should be, filling and demanding.

Bruce's hand around his dick makes Dick want to think the word 'penis,' instead.

Bruce's strength --

Bruce's *power* --


Pinned, like this, he can do nothing about the fact that he isn't touching Tim anymore.

Pinned, he can barely lift his head to follow Bruce's kiss.

Pinned --


He can cry out when the kissing stops, and he does.

He can open his eyes when Bruce tells him to --

He can --

Oh, that *stroke*, but --


"*Tim*," and Dick's voice isn't right in his own ears, isn't --

Bruce can hear everything, Bruce can *smell* him --

"I want -- *please*, little brother --"


Bruce *stops* and Dick can't breathe, can't think, can't --

He's arching for more, he's struggling, he's *sobbing* --

Tim's mouth --


Tim's *mouth* --


"Kiss me, Bruce, please kiss me --"

"I have to. I have to hear you," Bruce says, kissing Dick's throat, licking --

Biting hard enough that Dick can almost --

No, he can hear himself, and he can smell himself, and Tim is still --

"Tight little *mouth* --"

Tim hums and sucks, licks and *sucks* --

And there are no words.

There are no *words* --

But there's a lot of noise.


Having two hands means that he can cup both Bruce's head and Tim's own, means that he can hold *on* for at least --

At least a little while.

He does.


It's not surprising in the least that Tim moves first. That's just the way it *goes* when there's want like this, family like --

Tim moves out from between Dick's legs and sits on his heels beside him.

Bruce kisses Dick's *nipple* --

"Oh -- oh, Bruce, you --"

"Beautiful," Bruce says, rolling onto his side and resting one hand on Dick's ribs.

"There was always something like whiplash for me," Tim says, and there's a thoughtful smile on his face. "Moments when Dick's physical beauty would drive me several different kinds of insane versus those moments when Dick's personality just made me want..."

"To be a better man," Bruce says, and smiles down at Dick.

Which means he probably shouldn't be frowning --

"Yes... that," and Tim brushes a lock of hair from Dick's face. "You know, I did think about it. What it would be like for the three of *us* to closet ourselves on a boat away from everything resembling the things we do -- and use -- to keep ourselves functional."

Bruce's laugh is a low rumble. "Somehow I can't help thinking that your thoughts were less positive than my own."

"Yes, well, *one* of us has to be able to think with something other than --"

"Our hearts, Tim...?"

Tim's smile is exactly as sharp as it needs to be. "As you will. Anyway..." Tim turns his smile on Dick, which means --

"I -- little brother, I'm going to just lie here looking like an imbecile for the next several minutes. I just -- much more than that is a little beyond me."

Tim hums and smiles a little more widely --

"I love you -- so much."

"And I you. But you have to admit... I mean, this couldn't have been much worse a prospect than, say, putting Steph on a boat with her father. Bruce on a boat with *Harvey Dent*. Barbara --"

"I -- think we get the point," Dick says, and decides that sitting up is the better part of -- something or other. "We're the crazy ones."

"In the proverbial floating nutshell --"

"Ooh, little brother, that would've been a better pun without the 'floating.'"

"Mm, noted. Are we going to talk about this now? Or something else remotely healthy? I'm sick to *death* of trying to sleep through burning, unblinking stares."

Bruce hums again. "You do it well."

"I'm also very good with *throwing* knives, Bruce. You don't see me using that on the *street*."

"Please don't," Dick says, and rests a hand on Tim's shoulder. "None of this -- none of it is about the street."

"It damned well *should* be --"

"Tim," Bruce says, managing once *again* to stop them both with a word -- "If you must, you can think of it as being something which will allow us to be on the street with *all* of our focus."

"You -- and Dick -- had that problem. *Not* me," Tim says, standing up and heading for the door. "Of course, families *do* share with each other. Right?"

Dick watches him go, and --

It's too much to put his face in his hands, or get up to pace --

It's practically too much to close his fucking *eyes* --


"Don't, Bruce. Don't try."

"Only this, Dick: I know him better than you do --"

"You always *have* --"

"Perhaps. And perhaps that's even something you can blame yourself for," Bruce says, standing and offering a hand to Dick.

Dick takes it --

"He needs time to be angry with both of us -- and with himself. The former will pass quickly --"

"And the latter, Bruce?"

Bruce squeezes Dick's hand and pulls him closer --

"Oh -- Bruce --"

"My first. In so many ways..." Bruce shakes his head. "I have no intention of taking us home until we can live with each other. And with ourselves."

"You didn't name this yacht The Flying Dutchman, did you?"

Bruce smiles. "I admit nothing. Will you let me massage you now?"

Dick -- catches his breath. "I. Will you tell me what *you* need?"

"More of both of you than I can have. More of *all* of you..." Bruce shakes his head. "I will take what I can get."

Dick closes his eyes and kisses Bruce.


Five minutes into the massage, Bruce starts on Dick's neck.

Five minutes after that --


"Please. Please, Bruce, I need you --"

"Dick --"

"You won't *hurt* me --"



The push --

The rush slams through him once --

Again --

Again, and Dick cries out and claws at the massage table, drives against it until he can tell himself that he's fifteen again, younger, fresher, *cleaner* --

"Oh, God -- oh, God, please don't stop --"

"My *love* --"


Screaming for this is right, begging for this is *right* --

Bent over and shaking --

Bent over and rocking, twisting for more of a grind, sweating for more of Bruce's *touch* --

Bruce's hands are locked around his hips, Bruce's breath is warm and damp against the back of his neck --

"So -- so full --"


"*Please* --"


And this is what it means to be drugged, this --

If he could just give *this* to Tim --

If he could make him feel this loved, this needed --

"*Dick* --"

If Tim could sob like he's sobbing, if he could reach for him --

For Bruce --

For *this* moment --


Over the edge and screaming, endless screaming, more even when he's wrung dry and limp, more when he's being pulled close, held against --

He can't *have* this --

He has to say -- something, something to make this right, make it *fit* --

Somewhere, Roy is laughing at him.


"Dick... I have to ask you something."

Dick doesn't -- this *can't* be --

"Please don't flinch anymore, brother. I can't *take* it --"

"Don't -- please don't laugh at me --"

"Oh, Dick. Someone has to," Tim says, and when the lights come on Dick sees that they're in Babs' bedroom.

Babs is naked and working on one of her less well-connected laptops, and Tim --

Between her legs and moving, moaning --

Babs looks up and raises an eyebrow, light throwing a glare on her glasses that hides everything he *needs* --

"Babs --"

"I think I might miss the days when you moaned Bruce's name in your sleep."

"I -- *what*?"

Babs' smile shows too many teeth -- "Hn. Birdboy?"

"Mm?" Tim doesn't stop *moving* --

"I think you might have a visitor."

Tim sighs and kneels up, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Seriously, Dick? *Seriously*?"

"Yes, *seriously* -- oh... crap," Dick says, and takes a moment to make sure he's not about to smash his face into anything --

He's good.

He's --

*Why* is he sleeping alone, exactly?

Why --

All right, Tim wouldn't do that. He doesn't know if *Babs* would do that --

He's *reasonably* sure she wouldn't... think that she had a damned thing to talk to Dick about if she *did* do it.

How gay *is* Tim?

Is it *possible* not to want to have sex with Babs? God, the *fantasies* Donna told him about after that one time Batgirl had teamed up with the Titans. At least Wally's didn't involve *bondage* --

Dick bangs his head back against the pillow a few times.

He yanks the twisted mass of blanket off.

He removes his other hand from around his dick -- he licks his hand. And --

It's not that he was expecting to be able to taste Tim's saliva -- he's had a *shower* -- but still. There should be something. There --

God, Tim had *blown* him, and he hadn't even been able to really *watch* --

And Bruce. Oh -- Jesus.

Dick clenches because he *can* --

Dick closes his eyes and arches --

Dick gets up.

Clothes are --

He doesn't plan to need his clothes. Somewhere, two thousand-odd miles to the northwest, Roy is asking him if he should really be doing any planning at *all* --

Roy's not here.

*No* one is here but his father, his brother, his brand new lover, and his --

What, exactly?

Dick pauses in the hall, and for a moment it seems like the waves he's hearing are somewhere inside him, deafening him and making him want to sway more than he knows he already is --

The light is on in Bruce's cabin.

The light --

The light is on because Bruce and Tim *had* been playing chess. That much is clear from the crooked board and scatter of pieces.

The rest --

Tim has a pillow over his face, and his bathrobe is spread open to either side of his body. *Tim* had worn boxer briefs for this --

This --

They're around one of his ankles, and Bruce is going down on him like there's nothing else he wants, like there *could* be nothing else --

Dick steps back --

Tim's aim with the pillow is off -- it only *grazes* Dick's face.

"Tim, I'm sorry --"

"Jesus, Dick, you -- oh, *fuck*, Bruce, *wait* --"

Bruce pulls off and tightens his grip on Tim's hips. "Your wish. Tiger."

Tim snorts and kicks Bruce's shoulder before turning to Dick with a hot, deadly, *familiar* look in his eyes --

"You -- shouldn't ever remind me of Jay, little brother."

Tim raises an eyebrow... and his chin. The scar is livid against the flush of Tim's skin, as accusing as it needs to be --

Dick shakes his head. "Let me get out of here --"

"No," Tim says, and gives Dick the come-on. "Even I knew we weren't finished."

"Which is not to say that your exit-line wasn't wonderfully concise," Bruce says, and kisses the head of Tim's dick.

"I -- heh. You --" Tim shakes his head. "We're going to be adult about this," and Tim arches, exposing muscle, the shape of fine bones, scars --

Dick -- catches himself gripping the doorjamb much too hard. "Are you sure?"

"If I have to murder both of you before killing myself and allowing this yacht to drift into myth and mystery, I *will*."

"Rename it first, please," and Bruce licks Tim's shaft --

Tim *growls* -- "*Dick* --"

Dick closes his eyes and follows his dick.


"I want to ask you something --"

"Yes. It's always yes. Please, just --"

"Wake up, Dick."

"You always wake up before we get anything *done* --"

"I'm sorry. This time it'll work. I just have to ignore you --"

"Dick, if you punch me when I start shaking you, I'm hiding all of your escrima sticks."

"You're not sorry, at all."

"I'm not -- sorry," Dick says, opening his eyes to find Tim half on top of him. It would mean more if Tim's only other option wasn't somehow learning to stick to the wall Dick is currently crushing him against. "I -- hell, little brother," and Dick scoots back a little --

*Right* into Bruce, who chooses that moment to grip the back of Dick's neck.

"Okay. Okay, I'm awake. And even relaxed. In a way."

Tim's smile is only cold in the right ways, the *Tim* ways --

"Did you like that? When I was --"

"Fingering me breathless? Yes. The question is whether you're more or less likely to believe that now that we're sharing a bed. Brother."

Dick winces --

Bruce *squeezes* the back of his neck --

Right. "I trust you, Tim. More than -- more than myself."

Tim strokes Dick's mouth. "That's not saying much. At the moment."

Dick reaches up and cups Tim's cheek, searching his eyes --

Searching and *wanting* --

"Little brother..."

"I'm here, Dick," Tim says, and leans in to kiss him softly. "I'm here."

Dick closes his eyes and --