Catch me low
by Te
November 10, 2008

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: References to various older storylines. Meant to take place not long after "A Death in the Family," or, depending on how you look at it, Red Hood's earlier adventures through the canon I'm not actually reading.

Summary: Jason knows how to make things better.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which does and doesn't dovetail with the content some readers may find disturbing. I'm extra serious this time. In fact... Jack suggested that I provide an *extra* warning: If you can't watch this video all the way through, this story *might* be a little too fucked up for you.

Author's Note: Jack gave me this idea after reading Everything awakened, though this story has nothing to do with the other. There's just something lovely about throwing Jason around the multiverse.

Acknowledgments: Much love to Jack, Pixie, and Mildred for audiencing and encouragement.


The anomaly closes behind him with a sigh and something like a pop without the fun of it. It makes him need to yawn and force back a pressure headache -- there. Gone.

Just like his past.

Jason smiles and checks his pockets reflexively. It's not like he can go back to his base to fill them if he comes up empty on knives or zip strips, but it feels good to do. A nice way to start the night...

Or end it, judging by the sky. Time's different in this universe. He'll have to remember that --

He's not likely to forget.

He heads toward downtown and revels in the fact that it's the real Gotham, with all the buildings still where they should be, all the broken-down tenements still standing for another... oh, call it two and a half years. He revels in those, too, and takes the time to break a few faces --

And ribs --

And collarbones as he goes. Leisurely-like. Nice and easy. Right about now, Bruce is settling in the Cave after *his* night, maybe thinking about the Jason Todd who'd lived and died -- and stayed dead. Maybe thinking about doing the sort of things to the criminals of this world that Jason does as a matter of course.

It's not that he hasn't thought about going to him -- all it would take was one quick DNA test and Bruce would probably be some variety of all over him, even if he *did* manage to control what he'd liked to call his baser urges. He *could*, and he could explain to Bruce what he already knows, deep down where the kid in him has always lived. It doesn't work his way. It never has, and it never will.

He could *show* Bruce, teach him all the nasty little tricks he'd picked up from Talia's happy fun gaggle of assassins, and then they could *take* this city.

He could do it, and he knows himself well enough to know that a part of him wants it, oh -- more than anything. More than fucking *air*.

It's just that that isn't what he's here for. It's not the *plan* -- and, he knows, it's a damned *good* plan. Something happened to Bruce long before Jason was born, something fucked up and fucking horrible, and that makes him need people. Trained people, hard people -- who are still soft enough to make a space for him, to need *him*.

And right now... well, he's *not* as needy as he's going to get, and it may be a cheap trick to weight the dice, but it's a damned effective way to make sure you win the toss.

Jason has no intention of even coming *close* to a loss for this --

And that means letting Bruce stew for a little while, letting him live with the mistakes he made with Jason, and who knows? Maybe he'll beat himself up some about fucking up with Dick, too.

And in the meantime... well. Jason is going to pull the rug out from under Bruce's great big boots.

Before *Bruce* knows there's a rug there to begin with.


The nice thing about bearer bonds and carefully crafted false identities is that they lead to having a nice, hefty chunk of cash on hand. Nothing like what Bruce has on tap, but more than enough to buy the old, beat-up gym from a woman with a seriously Gotham lack of interest in asking questions, and more than enough to stock it at speed.

There's a part of him which wants to move on to phase two *now*, but the rest of him knows that the week it takes to get the gym and the loft above it to where he needs it to be is just a drop in the bucket of the time he *does* have. The bucket isn't the *ocean*, but still.

When he's done sweeping away dust and getting the windows to let actual sunlight in, he feels like he might just have himself a home. There are things he still needs -- weapons and the like -- but his *night-time* labors had given him a line on a nicely independent agent who *will* get him what he needs. The money will run out eventually, but by then he'll have moved to a whole different phase of his plan.

It might even be the *Bruce* phase --

No, he's not thinking about that just yet. He has other things to do. He dresses for the night and gets moving, taking the freshly-painted bike -- black will just have to *do*, thank you very much -- and giving himself a solid two minutes to wish for something better. He *could've* brought one of his own bikes through the anomaly -- hell, he could've stolen one of Bruce's -- but the *one* anomaly leading to this particular universe let out on a rooftop, and getting a bike down from there would've attracted way too much attention, and he'd already taken too much time getting ready. He's being *subtle*, which means that this old Harley is both more and less than good enough for his purposes. It's nowhere near cherry -- lessening the chance of too *much* attention being paid to it -- and it's nowhere *near* cherry -- lessening the chance of him being able to beat a speedy retreat should he have to do so.

Still, it gives him that grown-fucking-man feeling which usually means he's about to do something immature, but still feels damned good. He's *not* going to fuck up tonight. He has so much information on his target --

He's never *had* a target with this much information available before. Honestly, he thinks he might be a little *giddy*. And all he has to do is *turn* the little fucker. In the direction -- so he'll think, anyway -- that he *wants* to go --

And now he's feeling paranoid. All Drake has to do is to go to Bruce or Dick -- the way he's *itching* to do right now -- and tell them that a scary man calling himself Jason Todd is climbing in people's windows at night and it's game over. Just --

No. No.

He'd known that was a possibility from the jump, and he's got a handle on it. In the end, Drake's just a kid who knows too much. And if he *doesn't* make the right decision, he'll be a kid with the kind of head injury which doesn't lead to trustworthy narratives.

Jason smiles to himself and picks up a little speed, only slowing down when he's a few blocks away. And... it's late. Dawn's coming soon, but Drake has parents who live nice, rich leisurely lives -- that much would've been clear by the neighborhood. Drake *himself* might not be sleeping --

And now he's just wasting time.

He hits the rooftops, and gives himself exactly *one* moment to rest his hand against the roof of *the* townhouse, to get the kind of feel for the place which means nothing to every part of him except for *that* one --

And then he's checking the windows. A piece of intel he *hadn't* had, because Talia's hack of Bruce's files was limited to things which didn't touch directly on the -- family.

Little stalker *freak* of a pretender --

Jason pastes on a smile when he finds the right window, taking in the neat decor, the empty -- and neatly made -- bed, the clutch of shadows near the desk. Oh, really.

Jason makes a come-on gesture, and Drake steps out of the shadows... while holding a phone with his finger very *clearly* hovering over the one. Well. Jason tugs off his domino and tosses his hair, raising an eyebrow --

Drake drops the phone *and* his jaw. Point to not changing all that much since his last -- and hopefully *last* -- trip to Ethiopia.

And now Drake's shaking his head, backing off, going to pick up the phone again -- but still looking.

"If I wanted you dead," Jason mouths, as carefully as he can, "you'd *be* dead," he says, and gestures for Drake to open the window.

He gets a frown for his trouble, something that looks more thoughtful and calculating than freaked, which... he can work with that. This whole *plan* --

Later, later.

Drake opens the window and Jason swings inside, clenching and unclenching the fist he was using to hold the line -- he'd broken two of those fingers a couple of months ago, and yeah, still feeling it. Yay, adulthood. And...

Up close, Timothy Drake is a scrawny little *nothing* of a kid. Barely five feet tall, and... he looks like a pair of wide blue eyes on a stick. They're not even *pretty* blue eyes --

"Who -- who are you," he says, quiet, but not a whisper. The parents are *deep* sleepers, then.

"Who I *look* like, dumbass --" No, be nicer. At least for now. He turns the smack he was aiming at the back of Drake's head to a grip, forcing the kid to look up. "You know who I am."

"You're too old," he says, flat as anything, even though he *looks* like he's feeling his heart try to pound right out of his chest. Fine. Let the kid play it hard.

"Funny things happen when you bounce between universes, kid. In *my* world, I crawled right up out of the grave and had me a couple of years of adventures."

"Years -- I. I'm sorry, but that's very difficult to believe --"

"My name is Jason Todd. I used to be Robin with Bruce Wayne, who is Batman. You -- well, your name's Tim Drake, and you've been following all of us around for oh, say... four years?"

The blush *takes* the kid's face, and his eyes are back to being wide as hell. Improvement.

Jason nods. "Yeah. Like that. Get some good pictures tonight, did you?"

He fidgets -- and stops. "I still can't -- I mean, you could be. Um. A shapeshifter. Or something --"

"Who knows as much as *I* do?" Jason shakes his head and lets himself grin a little. It makes the kid swallow. Good. He tugs a little more on Drake's hair. "All right. *Let's* get more personal. Pretty soon after I kicked here, you started thinking about going to *Dick*. About telling him something about going back to Bruce and being Robin again," he says, watching Drake's eyes widen a little more and not thinking --

Not thinking about that one *night* when Bruce had tracked him down after he'd broken Drake's arm and tried ever so fucking *hard* to put things in *perspective* for Jason, tried to make him -- fucking *make* him -- see Tim fucking Drake as something other than what he was.

Something *better*. But not right now. Oh, no. Right now -- he's still *just* a stalker, and -- "And you've got one fuck of a hard-on for Dick, don't you?"

Blush, and man, scoring points just shouldn't be this *easy*. *He'd* had a lot more fucking armor when he was Drake's age...

But then, he hadn't had this nice, soft life. Jason shakes him a little by the hair.

Drake -- tries -- to turn away --

"Nuh-uh. It's talking time, now --"

"What. What do you want," he says, and his voice is flat and *almost* even. Almost -- heh. Robin.

"Well, that's just the thing, kid. You're *needed*," Jason says, and raises his eyebrows. "It's time for you to step *up*."

"Step... I don't. I don't understand," Drake says, but his eyes say he's lying. They're wild now, tracking back and forth, searching that brain of his...

And a *big* part of Jason wants to *really* yank on his hair, to tell him to use that so-called detective brain he's supposed to have -- fucking A. A kid like *this* figured out the secret? Jason shakes it off internally --

"Um. Jason. What are you... saying?"

Turn, turn, turn. "Batman's all alone now, kid. You can't tell me that escaped your *notice*."

"Well. Yes, but. I think... won't Dick come back? Now that -- why aren't *you* going to Bruce? He needs someone, he's -- he must be so -- ow --"

All right, that was too hard a yank. Stick to the plan. "The anomaly I walked through isn't there, anymore, but there will be others. Things are *real* damned unstable -- and some shit's due to go down here that'll make a dead Robin look like *nothing*. Are you listening to me?"

A wince -- and a nod. Drake's focusing hard now, listening -- and probably looking for the lie. All right.

"In some ways, I'm in my own past right now, and you ought to know all *about* how things like that usually work out -- judging by what you've got on those bookshelves --"

And he has to stop, because, if anything, that was the deepest blush *tonight*. For the books? Really? No, more.

"In *any* event -- I can't risk Bruce or Dick finding out about me until things settle down a little bit more and I know I won't be changing things too much for the fucking fabric of spacetime to handle. But there's *you*," Jason says, and smiles.

It makes Drake shiver and swallow like Jason is the scariest damned thing he's seen in his life, and -- yeah, he can work with *that*, too.

"In my world -- my *timeline* -- you start training to *be* Robin in a little less than six months --"

"I don't -- I can't. I'm not --"

"Stammer *later*, kid --" And tell me all about how that could be so honest when you know it's what you want more than any fucking thing else -- no. "There's no time for that, here. No time to *waste*."

"You. You want to start. Training. Me?"

Jason smiles a little wider and lets go of Drake's hair, reaching into his pocket for the little slip of paper with the address of the gym on it. "Memorize it. Flush it. And be there tomorrow after school."

"I can't -- I mean. It's not. I'm not *ready* --"

"No, you aren't. You're a pathetic fucking *excuse* of a kid. But you can *be* ready -- and you will be."

"I --"

"Unless you *want* Gotham to go to hell?"

Drake blinks at Jason more times than he feels like counting, paper held between his fingertips... he turns it, looks at it, scans it what feels like a hundred times in a second.

Score. "And keep your mouth *shut*," Jason says, and moves to the window --

"Jason, I -- um."

He should just leave. He *has* his exit line, and --

And he has it.

He goes.


He *should* be sleeping -- it's fucking *day*, and Drake will *be* here, unless he chickens out --

And the image is right there, the sense memory of a wiry little body against his own, *lifted* against his own while he held a knife to the kid's throat. He hadn't made a sound, then. Just kept trying to get clear and get a shot in of his own. Just --

He'll be here.

Which -- Jason's not sleeping. He's gone over and over the equipment Drake won't be good enough to even *look* at for fucking *weeks*, he's checked the evenness of the mats, stared in fucking *despair* at the gi he'd gotten for a Drake who was *bigger* than the one he actually has --

He'll grow *into* it. If he has to force-feed the kid protein shakes and get him HGH on the black market.

Drake is going to *be* worthy enough to be a partner to Bruce, the kind of partner Bruce *really* needs. He can't do it -- at this point in his life, he can't see himself being a partner to anyone save all the little voices in his own head -- but.


The Drake he knows had barely given Bruce six months of Robin time before he was flitting off on his own. He had a team *before* the Titans, and he'd been all over the fucking world, instead of in Gotham where he *belonged*.

He's going to *teach* this kid Gotham, show him how to love it, how to hate it so much it got under your skin and *stayed* there. And, in return, Drake is going to give *him* the *right* kind of Robin, the kind Dick could never be, the kind Jason had been too scared and fucked-*up* to be.


In the end, he settles for resting by the computers he'd set up a few days ago with the information he'd taken from Talia. He's somewhere between meditation and a doze, and, if necessary, he could *move* in a heartbeat.

But he's drifting now, and mourning a little for the way he hadn't had time to put more of an effort to get Bruce's own files -- if never Babs' -- before the anomalies had started popping off all over the place. Before he knew what he *had* to do in order to make the world a better --

To *remake* the world, and Talia *and* her father were fucking nutbars, but they had a lot of good ideas. Things he couldn't help but listen to and want -- in his *own* way.

This is the way to do it. This -- will get him what he needs. What the *world* needs.

Are you sleeping yet, Bruce? Are the nightmares making you sweat through the sheets and tangle yourself up the way you used to?

Do you ever think about the way I taught you that it was okay to turn the heat up and just sleep on *top* of the sheets?

Are you naked? Hungry? Wanting me?

Fucking *wait* for it, then, you perverted asshole. Just -- fucking wait.

He's coming up out of his doze on his own when the doorknob rattles, and really, he's going to have to do something about the fact that there's nothing but a *door* between this place and the world.


For now --

He moves to open the door, and there Drake is, shorter than life and twice as terrified, going by the way he's actually *trembling* a little bit.

"Get here sooner tomorrow."

"I -- yes, okay. I. I put on workout. Clothes --"

"There's a gi for you over by the bathroom," he says, and points. "Get in here, strip down and put it on."

Drake swallows and moves past Jason without so much as brushing him, looking around as he moves -- quickly and quietly -- to the bathroom. Jason *wants* to find something else to criticize, but the kid isn't giving him anything, yet. And that's -- he has to be a little careful with this. He doesn't *think* Drake is the kind of kid to balk for the sake of balking, but you never really know. He can really put things in the *toilet* if he decides to seek out Bruce or Dick, and it's not like Jason can just kidnap him and keep him locked up here.

Though it's not like he hasn't had that thought.

Jason takes off his shoes and starts stretching casually, and that's how Drake finds him when he comes out with the gi perfectly situated on his small, small frame. Jason sighs to himself. "We'll get you a smaller one soon. For now, show me how you stretch for karate."

"Oh. You -- know."

"Yeah, I do. And don't you forget it, kid -- I know more about you than your damned mother, and I'll use every last bit of that knowledge if I have to."

Drake stares at him for a long moment, searching and scared.

Jason stares right back -- and then taps the watch he isn't wearing.

It's clear that the kid had gone to a *good* dojo, probably the best that money can buy. He knows a great deal of the stretches he needs to, even if he's not getting as much out of them as he could --

A split-kick that had only *just* missed Jason's jaw --

He *will* get more.

Jason pushes and pulls on the kid, waiting for the whimpers and grunts and getting them, letting them guide him -- oh, that was a loud one --

"Sorry, I -- sorry, I'm just -- need a moment --"

Jason checks the kid's quad reflexively and it's as tight as a *rock*, pulled the wrong fucking *way* -- he growls and starts working it.

"Ow -- I mean, sorry, I'll do better --"

Motherfucking *idiot* -- "You're *supposed* to let me know if I take you too *far*, Drake." 

"I don't -- I didn't know. What was too far."

Jason -- doesn't growl again. Of course he didn't -- but. "The *pain* didn't tell you anything?"

And Drake looks like he's about to fucking *cry* -- but something tells Jason it doesn't have a damned thing to do with the pain.

Fucking A. "Kid --"

"I just thought -- I'm not flexible enough. But I will be. I can keep working --"

"No, you *can't*," Jason says, and keeps working the scrawny little muscle until it starts feeling like it's supposed to. "Not today, anyway. Jesus."

"I'm sorry --"

"Yeah, you *really* are. Stop saying it -- and *remember* this little lesson, kid."

"I -- I will," Drake says, and when he looks up, there's a promise in his eyes that Jason... really doesn't know *what* the fuck to do with.

Other than using it.

He leaves off the kid's leg and goes through the upper body stretches -- a lot more slowly. Now, every time he's about to cross the line, the kid speaks up, quiet and unsure but *there*.

He's not getting what he *wants*, but the foundation is there -- to a kind of scary degree, because the kid only makes two mistakes when Jason tells him to show all the stretches he'd been taught. All right, then. "Do these stretches *every* day. Once when you wake up, once before you crash. I don't care how tired you are -- you do them."

"I -- yes."

A little hesitation? "What?"

"Will I -- I was just wondering if I'll be doing them here, too."

No, he wasn't. There's *more* there, somehow, and it's making Jason's knuckles itch. "No. You *don't* lie to me. Not now, not ever."

"I wasn't -- I was just --"

Blushing like a fucking fire truck. Jason nods to himself and grabs the kid by the jaw. "What. Was it."

A brief moment for the kid to look miserable again, almost *pleading* -- but that's *not* aimed at Jason.

"Spill it. Now."

"I was -- wondering. About whether I'd still be able to go out. At night."

Oh. To take his little fucking *pictures* of them all, and what kind of shit does he have on *him*? Jason shakes his head --

Drake squeezes his eyes shut. Just for a moment, but -- there.

"That's all over now, kid. In fact, you're going to *bring* me all of your pictures tomorrow --"

"Please, I --"

"*Relax*. I don't plan on burning them," Jason says, and wonders if he means it. "They're not safe at your place --"

"*This* place isn't safe. The door -- I was going to pick the lock, and the windows are old and thin, and --"

"And you really want your vigilante porn?" Jason smiles and squeezes Drake's face just a little too hard. He can *feel* the heat of that blush. "Listen up, kid. Maybe I wasn't clear last night, but I *own* you. From now until I say you're ready to hit the streets, you're *mine*. And that means when I give you an order, you fucking well hop *to*."

"Why. Why aren't you going to B -- to Bruce? He thinks you're *dead*, and he --"

The rest of that is a pained little grunt, because Jason really is squeezing *too* hard -- he eases up. "I already *told* you, kid, and every time you make me repeat myself, I get a little more pissed *off* --"

"You're changing the timeline *now*, with *me*. If I'm not supposed to start training until --"

"I *told* you," Jason says, searching those ice cold fucking blue eyes and finding only a mind that's thinking too hard and too *fast* for right now -- Jason shakes his head. "You don't get it. You don't know what's *coming* for this comfortable little world of yours --"

"Then. Then tell me," and Drake looks determined, suspicious, and yeah, just a little balky.

Because of his fucking *pictures*. Unbelievable. "All right. It won't be long before Two-Face gets out. He's going to wire up too many parts of this city to count, and I *still* don't know where his base is going to be. He'll capture Batman *and* Nightwing, and the only person who's going to be able to save them is *your* skinny ass."

"But -- if you were to go to. To Alfred, and the base --"

Jason shakes him a little, but -- he doesn't know it's a Cave. That satisfies something in Jason that he can't really name *and* scares the shit out of him, but it's a fact, and he has to deal with it. "And maybe I put on my old suit and save the day? Heh, no. I'm not going to *be* here forever, kid. I've got other universes to get to, other places to *fix* --"

"Jason, I -- it's just that you seem to expect me to be able to do things I can't, that I don't know --"

"Chickening out on me?"

"I -- no, but -- I don't know --"

"Fucking *grow* a pair, kid," Jason says, and shoves Drake back lightly enough that he only stumbles a little bit. He shouldn't have stumbled, at all. "You've spent your whole fucking life watching, but now? It's time to *do*."

"I don't. I don't want to fail," and Drake's looking down at his feet, and God, even *they're* small, like maybe this one won't even grow as much as Jason knows he *should*.

"Yeah, well, I? Didn't want to get beaten senseless and then blown the fuck up. You could walk under a fucking Mack truck tomorrow, kid. But first? You're going to *train*."

And Drake looks up, searching again -- "I was really... Robin?"

Jason *doesn't* grind his back teeth. He crosses his arms over his chest, instead. "Yeah. You were." Whether or *not* you ever should've been. "And if you do what I say? You can be Robin again." The real way. The *right* way.

Drake nods and stands straight again, favoring the hurt leg -- and then not doing anything of the kind. "I -- I'll bring in the pictures," he says, and it sounds like he's promising to murder his fucking parents...

But it's what Jason needs. Obedience. "And you *won't* be going out at night until I fucking tell you."

He clenches his jaw -- and nods.

"All right, then. Give me some push-ups."

"How many?"

"As many as you can."

And it's not enough, but he'd already known it wouldn't be. He has his memories of how Bruce had trained him, but he knows, now, that it had been all about getting the most out of a basically *strong* kid with no chance of ever developing serious acrobatics.

Drake is *different*, and so he's going to have to treat him differently, and, yeah, learn as he fucking goes. The stuff from the assassins will help -- most of what he'd learned from them doesn't have a damned thing to do with body type -- but the kid will almost certainly want to know what the strikes and pushes will *do* to a human body, and he's definitely not ready for that, yet.

Making him ready, now...

Well, he has some ideas about that.


A week into things, and it's time to give Drake a taste. He's been obedient, quick, and has even learned how to hide a limp from casual eyes. Jason had been worried that the kid's parents would be a little too interested in their suddenly exhausted and pained son, but they were good enough to flit off to Monaco the day after they'd started, which is the kind of thing that makes the honestly superstitious part of Jason feel like the multiverse is behind him, like the multiverse *knows* what it needs.

He shows up at the Drakes' around three, when the night's still humming and popping, when the air is still full of screams and sirens. He teaches Drake the best way to rappel down a line by doing it, confident in the knowledge that if Drake *is* stupid enough to fall, he'll just wind up in the Dumpster Jason had dragged close.

It would serve him *right* -- but the kid makes it with just a few awkward moments, and fits like a bony little glove on the back of the bike.

They ride, Jason musing on the question of whether or not he wants to get helmets with radios while he searches for a likely -- there.

There's no telling who'd started the fight in that alley, but it's between Blacks and Mexicans, and maybe that had been enough. He parks, gives Drake the stay sign he'd taught him just ten hours before, and wades in. It doesn't take long before all the players -- pre-bloodied for Jason's convenience -- are focused on him, and it doesn't take long to start taking them down.

A blow to the head there, a shot to the abs there, a knee to the groin for the asshole stupid enough to pull a knife on him --

And he can see the kid creeping closer out of the corner of his eye. Fucking --

Jason *throws* the next target at Drake, not bothering to spare a glance to see if he bounces or not, and finishes up --

Just in time to see Drake giving the guy he'd thrown a creditable kick to the knee. It doesn't drop the guy, but Jason had *heard* that crunch --

And so had Drake, because now he's wide-eyed and a little sick-looking, and there's a knife --

Jason gives the guy an elbow to the apex of the spine, *just* hard enough to send him to la la land, since his busted kneecap will be causing him no *end* of trouble...

"Sorry. I -- I think I may have kicked. Um. Too hard --"

"Depends on what you were trying to *achieve*, kid," Jason says, gripping Drake's shoulder and moving him back and forth a little.

The kid looks shocked and still kind of sick -- "I didn't. I think I *broke* his kneecap," he says, and not even the little red domino Jason had made for him -- to match his own -- can make him seem *anything* but poleaxed.

"You were supposed to stay put --"

"I'm sorry, but I couldn't see everything, and I -- I broke. Oh, no, he's going to be *crippled* --"

"And he *won't* be getting into anymore fights like this one," and Jason shakes him again. "Do you have any *idea* how many times I've used that move?"

Drake frowns and shifts on his feet. "You were always... rougher. On people."

Too rough? Most of the Robin pictures in Drake's set were of *him*, but that probably has more to do with when he'd gotten a really good camera than with anything else. "Sometimes they deserve it," Jason says, as gently as he can --

It makes Drake look up at him, and Jason can tell he's searching even with the lenses down.

Jason raises an eyebrow and waits.

"I need. I should have more control," Drake says, at last, pulling himself up straight and clearly making another one of those soul-deep vows.

Jason squeezes his shoulder. "Yeah, you should. And you will. But for now? The only thing you did wrong was not following orders --"

"But -- that man, he won't be able to --"

"Disturb the fucking peace as much as he wants to from now on? No, he won't. And that's *all* on you --"

"*You* didn't -- didn't maim anyone," Drake says, and Jason will just *bet* that those cold blue eyes are fucking burning behind the domino. Time for --

A smile. "I save that for the people who deserve it, who go after innocents to rob, rape, kill -- you'll see," and Jason pats the kid's shoulder. "Let's go."

All the Batman-catching action is on the East side tonight, so Jason goes west, heading for the areas with drug dealers and finding them. One or two of them comment on the kid on the bike -- before getting their teeth knocked out of their heads.

Every time he hears the distinctive *tick* of one of them hitting the pavement, Jason thinks about the jar back in the manor full of the most diverse collection of mouth ivory outside of a dental clinic. He can never decide whether he wants to go take it back or if he wants to just get a new jar, and so he lets them fall where they will, leaves them for the street-sweepers and whatever gruesome-minded little kids come along. And it's --

It's nothing like having a partner, of course, but he can *feel* Drake, feel him watching and learning, studying and waiting for a slip, a moment when Jason can, maybe, show him who he really is.

But he doesn't find anyone worth the real pain, and soon enough it's time to let Drake crawl into bed and get a nap before school.

He drops the kid off -- and he'd looked tired enough that Jason had *carried* him down from the roof before shoving him through his window.

"You know where you're gonna hide that?"

Drake strokes the domino on his face and shivers like he'd just had a serious fucking Moment.

"C'mon now, focus."

"I -- yes. No one ever. No one searches my room."

"You come in looking like death walked over a few times and they just might *start*, kid."

Drake nods. "I -- I have a place in the old heating vent. It. I kept my -- the photos there."

"Good enough for now. Start thinking about where you can install a hidden compartment. Say... large enough for two pairs of uncollapsible calf-high boots."

And the kid's eyes go wide and a little wild on him --

"It *won't* be tomorrow or even three months from now," Jason says, and it comes out gritted because it's way too fucking true.

"Yes. I -- yes. What -- what do I call you when you're... well, you're not really suited up, but --"

"When the mask is on, you just call me 'J.' Nice and simple. And I'll just keep calling you 'kid.'"

"You. I mean. I don't mind if you use my name. When. If you want to."

Fucking really. "This isn't an Afterschool Special, kid, and I'm *not* your friend --"

"I know. It's just -- um. I'm sorry I brought it up. I'll just -- get cleaned up and sleep, now."

Jason feels his eyes narrowing behind the mask, but that was... correct. He nods and goes.


The thing is, Bruce really *ought* to be making an effort to find the new masks in his territory, but Jason figures he's got a few weeks, at least, before anything like that happens. He's not making a splash and he's not making *bodies*, and that means that Bruce has *other* things to deal with.

Going by the papers and the *word* on the street, the Batman is going out *every* night, breaking heads and putting people in the hospital right and left. The papers are muttering -- real quiet-like -- about the dangers of vigilante justice, but they're still using examples from *other* cities, which means that most people are still a lot more scared than pissed *off* and scared. Bruce isn't really due to seriously slip up for a while, yet, but Jason knows he can't really trust that.

This is a man who devoted his entire fucking life to becoming one of the most dangerous weapons in the world because he lost his parents. Losing a --

He'd called Jason his lover. He'd --

("I *love* you, Jason, you -- you *must* understand --")

It has to be fucking with him. Talia had called it 'a difficult time.' Bruce, himself --

("I was lost. Unhearing, unseeing -- Tim brought me back to myself, and helped to bring us all back together in your absence.")

He can't see it. The Drake he gets is just as quiet, obedient, and *quick* as anyone could want. It's just that he's also still way too small and about as *blank* as it's possible to get without also being a goddamned sociopath.

He's taking *in* everything -- he gives back every test Jason gives him with near-perfect recall, and even *that's* getting better.

Where he fails -- always -- is in the ruthlessness he's going to need. He's got this *idea* of heroism that probably works just fine for Clark fucking Kent out in Metropolis, but doesn't fucking cut it for Gotham City.

Today, then, Jason gives the kid his first spar, dropping him again and again and waiting for the kid to speak up, to protest, to call *time*. Jason's just using touches, but --

There. The kid's throwing punches, using everything Jason's taught him in order to maximize every blow. He's quick and serious about it. He's --

That's it. He's *serious* about it, and it's not like Jason hadn't been serious the first time Bruce had sparred with him, but it hadn't *lasted*. Once Bruce had dumped him on his ass four times, Jason had just *coped* with the fact that he wasn't going to pull out any surprises, that he didn't *have* any surprises *to* pull out.

And then he'd gone with it, watching the way Bruce had moved, sure, but also just throwing himself *into* it --

Jason shakes his head and bites back a scowl --

"I'm not? Is there something --"

"Come *at* me," Jason says -- growls, and Drake does it. Dutifully. Jason gives him two more falls that way, and --

Is he just like this? Is this something that's ingrained, somehow? He won't be any *good* for Bruce if he's not having fun at least *some* of the time. Jason holds up a hand and the kid stands down, rubbing his hip where he'd landed hard the time before last. And -- that's something he doesn't do all that often, at all.

Jason moves the kid's hand and yanks down the -- better fitting -- pants. The blood's pooling, all right. "This is going to hurt," he says, before he can think about it, and starts rubbing and soothing.

Drake hisses through his teeth, but stands perfectly still, and -- "I can't. I can't see what you're doing. Quite."

Quite. Yeah, *easy* to forget the way the kid talks when he just -- doesn't. Jason shakes his head again. "If and when I need you to do this for me, I'll guide you through it. The words don't cut it."

"All right," he says, and starts evening out his breathing. He's having a little trouble by the sound of it, but they *have* been sparring for a while now. And -- how to get the kid to loosen up?

He hadn't thought he'd *have* to, hadn't realized that the things he saw that made the kid so poorly fucking *suited* for the Robin suit ran that deep... "Okay. You're doing this wrong."

"The spar. I -- I know I'm not fast enough --"

"You're not, no, but not. Not that part," Jason says, and keeps working. He's going to have one *hell* of a bruise no matter what Jason does, but at least it's from a fall and will *look* that way. And... hell. "Were you like this when you sparred in your karate class? This... tight?"

"Um... tight? I -- I tried to keep my mind on what I was learning, if that's... what you mean?"

"Yes and no," and Jason doesn't sigh. "When I tell you to come at me? I want you to let loose. I need to see *all* of what you got, your control *and* your instincts."

"I -- hm. I'm not sure... if I understand what you mean," Drake says, and it still sounds like he's having trouble breathing.

Jason moves to the last crescent of the bruise. "There are gonna be times when you're just too slow out there, when there's *no* time for you to think about what the *best* move will be. Are you hearing me?"

"And then -- I'll have to do *something*. I can't freeze."

"Exactly. That something -- whatever it is -- can be the difference between life and death. *And* can make the different between whether or not the *secret* stays kept."

Drake shivers. "I -- I've wondered. How it stayed kept here."

"Because the Joker is, first and foremost, a whackjob. He's dangerous, sure -- about as dangerous as they come without also being martial arts experts. He had me half-conscious and twitching on the ground, but he never even tried to take off my mask, even though he *had* to know that it could lead him to Batman's identity. Most of the people we deal with out there? Aren't that crazy, at all."

"I'm not just protecting myself, I'm protecting *Batman*," he says, and it definitely sounds like he gets it, voice all soft and wondering...

And the bruise-to-be is about as good as it's gonna get. Jason stands up, yanking up the pants -- bulge.

And Drake knows Jason sees it, judging by the *dark* blush on his face and the way he's wincing and turning away.

"You always get off on pain, kid?"

Drake clenches his hands into fists. "I'm fine. I'm -- just. You know it's normal," he says, and it's *almost* an accusation. Really.

Jason lets himself smirk a little and grabs the kid's chin, turning him to face Jason. "Normal, hunh?"

"Y-yes. It's. I'm. We don't have to stop. Or anything."


And now that blush is a *lot* more like a flush -- "You said -- you wanted to see my instincts --"

"*I* just want to make sure that *one* of those instincts isn't going to lead to you trying to hump my leg like a damned Golden Retriever."

And *that* makes the kid show his teeth a little, though it's hard to be sure which one of them he's angry at.

Jason lets go and backs off, giving the kid a come-on that's slow, lazy --

And not at *all* finished before the kid is *leaping* at him, and that was a nice enough fake, but he doesn't have the power or lift for that kick. Jason rears away from it and slaps the kid's calf, and then there's another kick, and another --

Faster, now, and Jason bets he *used* to be proud of these kicks. The truth is that they're great -- for a civilian dojo full of people who will never even *compete* in the martial arts.

For this... they're too weak and they lack a certain... something. Something Jason can't quite name, but maybe -- maybe. The next time Drake gets in range, Jason spins him by the arm and *lifts* him into a choke hold some other Tim Drake probably remembers well -- by the scar Jason had left.

The *good* thing about this is that Drake's still fighting, still *working* to get himself free, get a decent kick in --

"In a moment, I'm gonna let you go," Jason says, pulling the knife he always keeps at his back and tickling Drake's ear with it before making it dance in front of his eyes.

The sound Drake makes is shocked -- which would've been obvious by the way he *stopped* fighting even if Jason *hadn't* been able to interpret the noise.

"Mistake," Jason says, and cuts Drake behind the ear --

"Ah --"

"Just a scratch. But you'll remember it every time you're tempted to stop fighting. You'll remember that I *could've* cut you open like a pig in a slaughterhouse --"

"Jason, I -- I already --"

"You didn't. But you do now," he says, and drops the kid. "Now fight for your *life*."

And Drake goes for his knees *right* away, making Jason dance a little, turn to give Drake his side and a smaller target --

"*Now* you're getting it," he says, watching Drake spin into a kick, drop and go for Jason's ankles, roll when Jason stomps *down* -- no, he would've taken that one hard and not going anywhere, but --

Still good instincts. And Jason could stop this anytime he wanted to by going on the attack, but he needs to *see* this, needs to know by that strike that Drake's flexibility is nowhere near where it needs to be, needs to know by that kick that Drake *can* push himself to that kind of stretch even now and still be able to keep moving.

And he *definitely* needed to know that Drake can -- and will -- do this silently. Jason's done the absolute opposite of encouraging chit-chat, but this is a whole new level of quiet. If some -- untrained -- asshole were to attack this kid on the street -- heh.

They might get in a lucky shot or two -- especially if they had a weapon -- but they'd definitely pay for it. Pay *hard*.

Drake is pushing him back and back -- toward one of the work tables. Jason's going to have to fight them back onto the mats sooner or later, but for now... yeah, let him.

Especially since Drake is pushing himself faster, sacrificing some of the accuracy for a speed that *absolutely* matches his size. He's not making Jason work for it, but, for the first time since he'd taken the kid on, he can see a future where he will -- shit, *pipe*, swinging for his *knee*. Jason leaps over it, yanks the pipe away, and *drops* the kid with a blow to the shoulder.

Drake grunts when he hits the floor and -- tries to push himself up on his arms, one of which is *definitely* not working right now.

"Stay *down*," Jason says, and takes a good, hard look at the pipe that he'd just taken out of the bathroom this *morning*. He'd been trying to figure out if he could justify using it on someone deserving tonight, or if he could maybe melt it down into something better...

And Drake had yanked it right off the table. If he'd gone for a headshot, Jason would've probably had to hurt one of his arms a little to block it -- no, that's the kind of thing that needs to be *said*, if he's going to be any kind of teacher.

"A heavy, blunt instrument like this -- you don't bring it out unless you *know* you'll be able to keep it. One good shot to the head from this and you're down and useless, if not dead."

"I -- noted," Drake says. "May I... get up?"

Jason snorts. "If you can without help."

Drake nods and pushes up -- on his good arm -- until he can get to his knees and then up again. He's clenching the fist on the good arm -- the other one is just hanging useless. Damn. He's really going to have to *check* his reflexes -- and there's more to say.

"That was good, kid. *Real* good."

Drake looks at him, blinking and confused -- "But you said --"

"I know what I said. But I'd *also* told you you were fighting for your life. When *that* happens? Anything goes," Jason says, tapping his palm with the pipe. "My goal is to get you *good* enough that you'll only be fighting for your life *rarely* -- and that was a good start."

A bitten lip, and Drake's staring at the pipe, watching it go up and down and up again --


"Could you... I. Is there more? I mean -- why was it good?"

Fishing? No, he doesn't think so -- and this is *just* that important. "You went low -- that's good. Most people aren't quick or skilled enough to know how to avoid that, and it's almost impossible to block without causing injury that might give you another second or two to finish the job. You get me?"

"Yes. Yes, I -- I thought you'd have an easier time avoiding a high shot."

"Exactly. I could've caught the pipe and yanked it right out of your hand -- which I did anyway, but you see my point."

Drake nods and the fingers on his bad arm twitch.

"Trying to clench your hand into a fist? That won't work for another ten, fifteen minutes."

"Oh -- all right. Is there something -- what should I do while I wait?"

I shouldn't have -- fucking *say* it. Jason pushes a hand back through his hair. "Hit the weights. Work those legs of yours until you're *just* starting to feel the strain -- no more than that."

"Yes, all right," and Drake immediately starts moving to the machine. And --

"And next time you pull something like that -- I'll know not to hit you that hard."

Drake freezes -- and then nods, and keeps walking.


He takes the kid out every night for a week, working through every part of the city that seems Bat-free. He's limiting *himself* to the two hour patrols that he's allowing Drake to try to keep himself off the radar, limiting himself to the dealers and the few incidental muggings and other things that happen on his watch -- and there aren't *enough* of those.

Not enough violent ones, anyway, and Drake really needs to know, needs to understand it in his bones the way he *only* can if he's right there to *see* the shit going down.

It's --

He can't risk Bruce getting too curious too soon. Dick's still running all the hell over the place with the Titans, so *that's* fine, but there's only so much he can count on grief to hold Bruce down -- especially since the skels have started calling Drake Robin. And *that* had been a tough few moments the first time, since Jason had been in the middle of five 'bangers and it would've been *easy* for Drake to let himself think that it was time for him to come in, to try using everything Jason's taught him over the last couple of weeks --

He hadn't. He'd sat right there on the bike and *watched*, not moving a muscle as near as Jason could see... because Jason had given that order *once*. Or...

Maybe because he was afraid of going too far? There's just no way to be *sure* until the shit *really* hits the fan.

And really, he almost *wants* the child-sized body armor he'd gotten for Drake to come into play, wants to see --

Well, he's *on* the street now, and Drake's riding bitch, and there'll be something tonight. Something, anything...

Right now, they're on the edge of the small -- but growing -- piece of the city alternately called the Pink Side, Shore Leave, the *other* meatpacking district... and a lot of other things that are less polite. Part of him can't help remembering the first time Bruce had taken him on patrol here, and the way Bruce had spent the whole night starting and stopping -- trying and *failing* -- to explain the *other* facts of life to Jason.

He remembers finding it *impossibly* cute -- and more than a little insane, considering the fact that this was the same fucking guy who'd put him through a two hour *lecture* about heterosexual sex despite everything he'd *had* to know about Jason's past. And really, that everything *should* have taken care of the homo side of the force, too, but --

But. The *truth* is, he knows now, that Bruce had *also* been trying and failing to deal with how much he wanted Jason's *ass*. Whether or not he was working up to something about that while he was flailing around using words like 'tolerance,' and 'perfectly natural'... well, he'll probably never know.

And that's fine.

It had all worked out the way it did *anyway*, and the past is dead and gone -- or.

*Had* this Bruce been sleeping with his Jason? Had he ever gotten up the balls to break a spar to pin Jason to the mats and kiss him? Fucking -- *grind* him down against the mats and kiss so hard Jason hadn't been *able* to give any of it back, hadn't been able to do more than make a stupid fucking *surprised* noise --

He hadn't thought Bruce *would* --

He hadn't thought --

Jason shakes it off and keeps an eye out for *in*tolerant types, but there's no one showing up on his radar, no one --

There, in the alley. The movements are ambiguous, but the heads are shaved, and sometimes that's really *all* you need to know.

Jason parks a block away and *moves*, beckoning Drake to follow and not bothering to make sure he does until he's seeing --


And *that's* the kind of sick shit that doesn't fucking happen, that's not supposed to happen *here* --

Jason pulls one boot knife and slips the fingers of his other hand into the perfectly-sized titanium knucks Talia had presented him with on the long, good night before he was due to be tested -- or butchered -- by three of the League of Assassins' finest --

("*This*... is only for when you're sure that you've won.")

Of course. Of fucking -- "Hey, *fuckheads*."

Everybody freezes, everybody turns -- except for the guy he's just hamstrung, that is.

Jason counts two chains, three knives, and one cheap-looking .38. He breaks .38's nose and slices open the wrist with the gun, hoping like *hell* the first guy had AIDS --

And then it's on, and there's no time to check on Drake, to see how he's *dealing* with this, but it had to be like this. Had to be.

And everyone's down and bleeding in just about three minutes, groaning and cursing, begging for mercy --

And Drake's gone.


Shit fuck *shit* --

Jason runs out of the alley -- and Drake's on the pay phone talking to a nine one one operator and looking pale and sick. He hangs up and walks back to Jason.

"I thought -- that man. The victim. He's probably bleeding internally, and I. He needs help."

Jason stares at him for a long moment, and Drake's face crumples --

Freezes --

Blanks. "Was I wrong, J?"

"No. You weren't. How much of that did you catch?"

"You -- hamstrung the first man. And then you slashed open a wrist -- no, you broke the man's nose first. And probably at least one cheekbone. You kicked -- you kneecapped the third man and slashed his forehead and. And chin. You used your elbow on the fourth man's mouth and stabbed him -- I think it was his kidney. I -- there was only one man left, so I went to make the call."

Jason nods, because that's... that's correct. It's just not good enough. He makes the gesture for follow and walks back to the alley, pushing Drake in front of him. "What do you see?"

"Um. Six gravely injured men in their twenties and thirties. One may be in his forties."

"No," Jason says, and rests the hand with the knucks on Drake's shoulder. "You see one victim and five *assholes* --"

"Who got what they deserved," Drake says, except that it *almost* sounds like a question.

"Do you think I was too... rough, I think, is how you put it, kid."

"You were brutal. You -- these men won't. You hurt them after they were down, when they couldn't cause any more injury to anyone. You --"

One of the assholes calls for a doctor, so Jason breaks his jaw with a kick. "Go on."

"I -- it was. You weren't stopping a crime, J. You were *punishing* one, taking *revenge* --"

"Hell yeah, I was. Go check on the vic."

Drake goes immediately, stepping over bodies -- but being careful to make *sure* the bodies won't be moving too much. Jason listens for sirens with half an ear and listens to Drake calmly and quietly talking to the victim, getting his name and making him talk about his friends -- good that he didn't ask about family first, if strange for Tim to know not to -- so he'll stay conscious.

When the sirens get closer, Jason gives the come whistle and Drake -- squeezes the victim's shoulder gently before following him out of the alley to the bike.

It's time to head in.

The ride to the Drakes' place is necessarily, annoyingly quiet -- even though he doesn't exactly want to have this conversation while he's driving. He's still going to get the radio helmets tomorrow, while the kid's in school. He feels something inside him loosen kind of fucking *alarmingly* at the thought, but practical is practical.

He parks, they take to the rooftops, and Drake looks good up here, almost *right*. He's moving like a shadow, like he's exactly as light and small as he is, and he's *learned*. Jason has to admit it had taken *him* a long damned time to learn how to move silently, but Drake had taken to the lessons probably better than he had to anything else.

Jason nods internally and watches Drake rappel down to his always-open window -- hunh.

He slips in after Drake and gets a look of surprise and something like the bastard lovechild of worry and anticipation. What? Later. "Your maid never closes the window?"

"I -- I told her that I wanted my room to smell like fresh air. I believe she thought I was being... fastidious."

Jason raises an eyebrow. "That's seriously enough."

Drake nods. "She's not very... I think, maybe, you're used to a different sort of... servant."

*Used* to -- except that he'd had just about three years of Alfred, followed by another four with Talia and her fucking *slaves* -- fine, all right. "We need to talk."

"I -- yes," Drake says. "May I... I should stretch."

Meaning... he's still *enough* with the program. Good to know. Jason nods and gives him the go-on gesture, and Drake starts stripping out of his night clothes. Sweatshirt, armor, t-shirt. Boots -- very good boots, and had he bought them himself? His parents weren't even in the *country* when Jason had told him to get the things. Then come the socks, then come the tough -- but easy to move in -- jeans. When he's down to his good-boy briefs, he starts to *flow* into the stretches. Jason hadn't taught him that, it had seemed to come straight from all the new katas he'd given the kid, but it's good to see.

He's hard, but it doesn't look serious. He's *been* hard around Jason for at least an hour every *day*, but the kid hasn't called a time for it, yet, and Jason's not going to worry about it. The first few months of *his* training had been one long fucking erection -- getting longer by the day, it seemed -- and --


Jason takes the opportunity to move around and around the kid, checking out the great new muscle definition and the *sad* -- but expected -- new muscle growth. The flexibility is coming in leaps and bounds, though, which means that Drake has absolutely followed orders on that.

Still, though... "Stop tensing up."

"Sorry, yes."

"What are you worrying about, kid?"

"Um. There are... a few things," he says, bending and twisting *just* right.

Jason taps the back of his neck twice, then bends his ear forward and pushes his hair out of the way... there. The scratch has already faded white. It won't last much longer --

Drake shivers --

"Speak your mind, kid."

"Is that -- I don't think -- Batman doesn't *do* that."

"With the knife? No. But maybe you just haven't *seen* him punch one of those batarangs through someone's hand...?"

Another shiver. "That -- there are ways to do it that won't. I've *studied* anatomy --"

"And all the target has to do is flinch for it to be a serious damned injury --"

"You *hamstrung* a man, Jason --"

"A man who was raping another man with a *bottle*, kid. Keep it straight."

"I -- it. He'll be crippled. For life."

"And the next time he wants to fagbash? He'll just have to have a little fantasy about it, instead."

"It's said -- many of the worst homophobes are people who are just closeted, themselves --"

Jason snorts and gives the back of Drake's head a little push. "You're seriously balking because one or two of those assholes might realize that there's a *reason* for their huge fucking issues? Seriously?" And when he moves around in front of the kid, he's looking down with his jaw tight enough to be wired that way. "Look at me."

He does, and everything's in his eyes. Just -- fucking everything. Fear, anger, sickness... and things that look a lot like hope and faith, *need* --

"Jesus, kid --"

"It's just that -- we. You're supposed to be a *hero*, Jason, and heroes don't treat people like that, no matter *what* they do. We had to stop them from -- from *brutalizing* that man, but there were other ways to do it. You've been *teaching* me those ways --"

"Yeah, I have," Jason says, and drops into a crouch. "And those are the things you're going to use *most* of the time, you hear me?"

"But -- we're already outside of the law. Don't we at least have to *try* to provide an equal standard?"

And he thinks of Bruce, of all those ideas about *fairness* that look so pretty and feel so damned *good*... right up until they don't. Jason smiles and shakes his head. "What do you think our vic wanted tonight, kid?"

"Graham. His name -- his name is Graham. And he wanted a hospital and a large amount of marijuana -- not necessarily in that order. Jason -- what you did. What *we* did, because I was there and I didn't exactly try to stop you --"

"Remember the pipe, kid. Remember that's it's us or them --"

"*You* said it wouldn't always be about that, and -- and those men couldn't have hurt you. Not *you*."

"You don't think so? That one guy was pretty damned good with his chain, and there were *five* of them. If they'd been just a little less drunk, and a little *more* organized -- like the *real* gangs in this town -- I might just have *needed* you."

And Drake -- shuts down. Just like he'd flipped a switch inside his brain and fucking stepped *out*.

"Hey, don't fucking do that. Save that for when you're on stakeout or when you're getting tortured or something."

A blink, and all the everything comes back -- and brings a blush with it. "I'm. I think. I'm frightened."

"Of me? Or of what *you* think those assholes deserved?"

"Both," Drake says, quiet and low. "I don't want to be... bad."

Of course not. God, how young *is* -- focus, focus. "And you think I am?"

"I think something happened to you. I think -- and maybe it was the Joker or maybe it wasn't. But you're angry all the time, and you're brutal, and -- I'm *not* talking about your teaching methods --"

"Maybe you should," Jason says, and he's *aware* that he sounds fucking *cold*, fucking *harsh*, but --

"No, Jason, I don't -- you're making me *better*, and I can't -- please don't think I'm giving up, or criticizing, or -- I'm not. All right? Please?"

And he wants -- *badly* -- to hold on to the *cold* rage that's running through him. It's so *rare* that he gets that one, as opposed to the ones that make him feel blind and fucking animal. Right now, he feels anything *but* blind. Just -- this kid, looking at him and looking up to him, wanting nice, easy answers when there aren't any. Wanting -- hell, maybe something like truth, justice, and the American fucking way. He'd *seen* those sheets.

And... that's not all he wants, at all. He wants *Robin*, yeah, but *that's* not all of it, either. He wants to be better, stronger, and faster. And while he wants to give that to Batman...

He also wants to give it to Jason Peter Todd.

"Please, Jason. I. Um."

Well. Jason blinks and shakes it off. "I'm *not* giving up on you, kid, so just wipe that from your freaky little brain."

The look the kid gives him is pure, unadulterated *how*, but...

He still doesn't know what to do about that. He takes Drake's jaw in his hand and grips, careful of the pressure points. "There are reasons for the rules Batman follows, and some of them are even *good* reasons -- like keeping the cops on our side and keeping it so we can all sleep easy at night."

"Yes, I -- yes."

"Here's the deal, kid -- having the cops with you can only take you so far when the big guys get out of Arkham and start tearing the city into bloody little strips. The cops can't *handle* that -- and, to be fair? No one really can. No one but *us*, because we can do the things they can't. *All* of the things they can't. There's nothing stopping us but our own *will*, and so long as Batman is doing all the right things, all the *good* things... well, who's to say *who* is doing the rest?"

"Oh. Oh. I -- you mean to give Batman plausible deniability. For Batman to *take* plausible deniability while I." Drake blinks rapidly, and his eyes track even faster than that. "Batman never has to break his own rules, at all. Not if I'm the one who. Who. Oh."

Jason smiles and makes Drake nod for him. "They always said you were the quick one. Partners *complement* each other, kid. You're never going to be able to do *half* the things Bruce can -- that's just physical reality. If it were all up to me? You'd be four inches taller than you are now and thirty, thirty-five pounds heavier. And *growing*. As it is... well, I know for a *fact* that by the time you're seventeen --"

"Don't. Please don't tell me. I'd like. Um. To keep my fantasies for a little longer."

That -- Jason snorts. "Okay, freakboy, that's fair. So long as they don't keep you from focusing on all the skills you can -- and *will* -- pick up," Jason says, letting go of Drake's face and standing. "One last thing."

"I -- yes?"

"I sleep just fine at -- heh -- day. And you will, too." Jason raises his eyebrows.

Tim nods -- after a moment.

Jason goes.


Still, nothing in this life is that easy, so Jason spends the next few days watching. During training, during their nights out on the town... and other times, too.

The Drakes' townhouse has a lot of handy windows, and Jason can blend in pretty well, all things considered. It's one of the benefits of not having let himself get used to a new uniform, as opposed to living *and* working in several practical mix and match outfits. It's just not *that* big a deal to take off the domino and move through the daylight city.

The *twilight* city, which is a bit of a mix and match in its own right -- but he's not looking for trouble right now.

Right *now*... he's got a front-row seat for dinner at the Drakes, a scope, and a directional mic which is giving him...

A lot of damned bickering from the kid's parents. They've been going at each other for a good, solid twenty minutes while the kid eats fucking take-out. *Good* takeout by the looks of it, but still takeout. The maid's off tonight, then.

And just --

"Well, maybe if you'd actually *told* me that you didn't want to go to St. Moritz --"

"Darling, if I'd told you in any more ways than I did, you'd have it tattooed on the insides of your eyelids."

"*Sweetheart*, I've told you a hundred times: I don't *speak* passive-aggressionese --"

"Oh, come *off* it --"

"I wasn't aware that I was on --"

And on. And on. And *on*.

Fucking A. It's the *kind* of fighting that *can* last like that -- he knows it from his old neighbors -- who'd cursed a lot more but the gist was the same -- but... still.

Fucking. A.

Neither of them have said word one to Drake since they'd all sat down together, so really, what's the point? Is he even *tasting* his food at this point?

Jason shakes it off and watches Drake stand (quietly), collect his utensils (without so much as letting them jangle against each other) and cartons, push in his chair (a little bit of resistance from the carpet), murmur -- something about homework. And then he's gone, while his parents keep up a steady stream of invective that never goes too far -- but never lets up.

He keeps listening for another ten minutes, just to see if the kid's *name* comes up, but there really doesn't seem to be any *there* there, not even any good, old-fashioned 'you're the reason our kid sucks.'

And then he moves to a rooftop he can use to watch the kid, and...

He doesn't know what he's looking for, exactly. That arguing was a little too *ingrained* for there to be tears or even raging, but...

Drake is just sitting there, working on his computer -- not playing, judging by what's on the screen.

His expression is... *not* the same kind of blank he gives Jason when they've been training enough that Drake's hard, and not the blank he gives Jason when he's hurting and doesn't want to admit for anything in the world, and *also* not the blank he uses when he's listening and watching with all of himself, when he's *learning*.

Which just means that all those other times weren't really blank at all, whether or not he wants to deal with that fact.

He's getting to know the little fucker. The little *weasel*, crawling down deep into the Cave and into *Bruce*, so far that the man had actually *come* to Jason to plead Drake's fucking *case* --

No. No.

He's not that Tim Drake, and, if Jason plays his cards right, he never will be. He'd known from the word go that he was setting Drake up to *present* himself to Bruce in a way little different than what he'd used in Jason's own world, that he was *editing* the narrative more than he was rewriting the thing, but...

It's still hard to deal with. Bruce ought to *know* what he needs, ought to be hunting right now for a new Robin, a Robin who can lead him away from all the seriously dark places his mind gets him into. Hell, he should've known that Drake had been *following* him years ago, should've brought him into the fold *one* way or another, even if he would've been too young to send out onto the street.

Blind spots. Everyone has them, but Bruce -- *Batman* can't afford them. This whole thing...

If Jason gets it right, Bruce will have another pair of eyes, another pair of hands and feet. *This* Robin will see what Bruce can't, touch what Bruce won't, and kick the living *shit* out of everything else. All of that -- instead of getting shoved into a uniform he'd make a mockery of solely by *existing* and trying -- fucking *pretending* -- to be someone he can never be.

No. He might still be getting to know just what makes Drake tick -- and he might never know *all* of it -- but he's getting to learn something like *enough* of it. Bruce was never meant to be dark. Not really. No matter *how* good at faking it for the cops and criminals he is.

Drake... well. He'd never once tried to say that what Jason does on the street was *wrong*, because a part of him knows that it isn't. He's a little squeamish, sure, but that actually speaks *well* of him. If he didn't get a little sick about the idea of being covered in someone else's blood, Jason wouldn't be able to *use* him for this. But what he is --

The *whole* of what he is --

Jason had seen it, a little, in the records of what the kid had done with his teams, in the way he'd managed to keep his distance in ways Dick never could, ways *he* never could --

And he watches, and remembers that one night with Roy, beer and Roy, and what had felt like a hundred million things he could never say about Bruce even as Roy kept his own Ollie-related crap to himself, even as they kissed and rolled around and kissed some more --

And when Roy had called out 'Robbie,' Jason could *almost* believe he was thinking about *him*. Almost.

No, the little fucker -- the little *freak* -- was never meant to be a part of anyone's family, as opposed to being on the outside looking in --

And if that feels like a little too much irony right about now, then maybe that's just proof that Jason's doing exactly what he should be these days. Maybe he *has* to know this kid, this --

This kid.

So he keeps watching. It's harder to keep an eye on him at school, but not by much. At first glance, there are friends there, but when he catches a glimpse of them out on the athletic fields, Drake is *smiling*, showing his teeth like a real boy and chattering and laughing along with the rest. He barely *needs* his scope to know that the kid's telling lies with as much of his body and his self as he can control.

Reading lips tells Jason that he's explaining why he hasn't been going to their little get-togethers, making up a story about extra practice with his sensei that *handily* explains all the bruises. Good deal.

In training, Drake just gets better and better, faster and *stronger* -- and the little hand-strengthener he'd given the kid has been getting a *lot* of use. He can do a respectable number of push-ups and chin-ups now, even though he can't really manage them one-handed, yet.

He'll *get* there.

Just -- he's on time *every* day and ready to work, and never complains about missing his friends or losing sleep, never breaks to deal with the erections that are getting more frequent and -- by the look of his gi -- more serious --

And Jason doesn't think he ever will.

At home, his parents are still arguing, still, it seems, having the *same* argument -- even though showing up early one night had given him a scene of the two of them screwing just like they cared about each other. According to Drake, they've got another vacation coming up -- and this time they're not going to leave the maid to pick up after the kid.

Jason knows what he's going to do.


The kid's first night sleeping over at the gym is quiet enough, since the kid even has his bad dreams mostly silently.

Jason wakes up for it, anyway and watches as Drake twists himself tighter and tighter into the sheets on the mattress he'd gotten for him, watches him sweat and shudder.

Smells him in the air and wonders --

He doesn't know what he's wondering, and if it has anything to do with the *itch* he feels in his skin at the sight of Drake *moving* like that, like he's in the kind of pain that leads to fucking *death* -- he doesn't want to know.

"Kid. *Wake up*."

"Hnn -- oh, God," Drake says, sitting up and rubbing his face, his eyes -- "I'm sorry, Jason. I didn't mean --"

"I -- I know," Jason says, sitting up and turning to face the kid. "Tell me the dream."

"Oh -- I. It's just a dream," and Drake turns to face him, blinking owlishly and looking... scared?

Of what was in his head or of sharing his little rich boy trauma --

Except that Drake *never* acts like the assholes at that school Bruce had sent him to. Not ever, not even for a moment.

Jason growls to himself --

"I mean. I can -- it was Dick's parents. Um. Again. I watched them fall, and then they were just lying there while everyone watched and did nothing. And Dick cried between them, but no one *came*. Batman didn't come. And I -- it just. Went on too long."

Seriously? *Seriously*? "Why didn't *you* do anything?"

"I was tied to my. I was chained to my parents, and they wouldn't do. Anything. No matter what. Um. I have that dream -- variations of that dream --"

"A lot, yeah. I can't fucking believe you actually have *other people's* nightmares for them, kid."

Drake looks down at the mattress, making a mostly futile effort to unwind himself from the sheets. "I didn't. I was *there*, Jason --"

"Here, let me help you with that," and Jason stands and walks over, yanking on the sheet until Drake rolls out. Then he recovers Drake and moves back to his own bed.

"Um. Thank you," Drake says, and tries -- really fucking *horrendously* -- to smile at Jason.

"Stop that," he says, making the stand-down gesture reflexively.

Tim blanks his face -- no. It's the hungry look, the *lonely* look, and there's just too much of it --

He's *dealing*. "Being at Haly's that night made you need to start stalking Dick and opened up his identity for you?"

Tim nods. "He was... very nice to me."

Unlike *him* -- "Yeah, well, he does that. Reflexively, even," Jason says, and knows he's really just making noise to fill the quiet that's still echoing with the silence of that nightmare. Jesus. "You saw it all, then."

"I -- yes. It's. It's the sound more than anything else. And the way they -- bounced."

Jason winces because he has to -- and watches the kid search his face, obviously looking for an answer for this, an explanation of why Jason... cares. Right. "You can't let your nightmares wind you up, kid."

"I know. I usually just -- um. Let them happen and then kind of chase them away. In the morning."

Jason raises his eyebrows. "Yeah? How's that working for you?"

Drake looks down. His hands are under the sheet so Jason can't see them, but he'll bet that the kid is clenching his fists.

"I'll take that as a 'not so good.' Look, you were bound to start having more nightmares. Your lizard-brain knows what's coming for you, and you're a lot more scared than you think you are --"

"I'm not -- I'm not a coward, Jason," he says, looking up -- looking hard.

"No one said you were. This life is *about* fear, in one way or another. The *trick* is making sure that you're not the one sleeping badly. Get up and stretch again."

"Yes, Jason. All right," he says, throwing the covers back and showing off his pajamas. They're actually a little small on him, which means it's time to send the maid off to do some shopping, unless his parents --

No, it would be the maid. He knows that now.

"Should I -- should I go down to the mats?"

"No, you can do it here. I need to see the gains you're making, anyway," Jason says, and puts himself in a lotus to better see the part of the floor Drake is claiming for his own.

He's actually getting to be a little *more* flexible than Jason had seen in his own -- in that other world, like maybe Bruce just hadn't pushed him as hard as he could've done on this stuff. It's not as surprising as it could be, considering the world he'd caught a glimpse of where Tim Drake was bending and moving like *Dick* -- Jason shakes it off. If it gets to the point where Jason can't teach him as well as he can *learn*...

Well, by then he'll *be* ready.

But Drake's getting more tense by the second. It's *not* the observation -- though that used to get to him in the beginning -- so... what?

"Spill it."

"I -- it's not --"


"You said..." And Drake is absolutely using the *excuse* of stretching to not look up, but Jason can go with it for another few seconds, at least.

"What did I say?"

"You said -- you implied that you didn't have nightmares."

Heh. "No. I *said* that I slept fine -- and I do. But the nightmares still come, from time to time."

"Oh. But not... often."

Jason shrugs, knowing that Drake is catching it with his peripheral vision. "More than a civilian, less than *Bruce*. There are ways around it. One is what you're doing right now -- reminding your mind and body that there's a reason for all of this, that you're getting better and *will* reach a point where you can just walk into your worst nightmares and kick a little ass." Or hug a little boy, as the case may be...

No, Dick was older than Drake is now when he had his really bad day -- but still.

"You hearing me?"

"I -- yes. But... I was wondering if I shouldn't be training in other ways? Maybe using the weights or... or something."

Heh, good boy. Jason smiles and shakes his head. "It's kind of a fine line, but no. Your body already needs you to work it *every* day -- you'd feel like shit if you slacked off now -- but you also can't overdo it. You have to give it *just* enough every day that you'll be able to do just a little *more* the next day. So, for *this*? You stretch, or maybe do a kata or two."

Drake nods thoughtfully and moves into the next stretch. "And... the other ways?"

"Mindless stuff. Target practice with the knives or the shuriken. Try making patterns *on* the targets. Jerk off until you're raw. Have sex. Find a good thing -- a thought, a memory, some object that makes you happy -- and really focus on it, turn it around and around until you can almost *taste* it... stuff like that," he says, and he's not thinking about that one day when he and Bruce had done nothing *but* spar and fuck and spar some more, only breaking to eat when Jason's stomach wouldn't let him focus on getting blown again --

He's not.

He squeezes his eyes shut for a moment --

"I could -- I can be quiet. I don't need. You could sleep. More."

Yeah, 'cause *that's* what he was thinking about. "Don't worry about me, kid. Just putting all the daytime thoughts in their places."

"You... have a system."

Jason blinks and focuses on the kid. "Yeah. And you'll need one, too. Day thoughts, night thought, fight thoughts, fuck thoughts -- you'll *eventually* need a space for the last one. You can't do all of this just inside your *own* head."

"Oh. I don't suppose... I don't suppose the Tim you knew had... someone?"

Because you're just that lonely? Christ, he hadn't *had* a life when Bruce took him in, as opposed to the streets. This kid... this kid. Fuck.

"I mean... if you felt like. Telling --"

"Yeah, you had someone." She even came back from the dead. Kind of. "And I'm not telling you a thing about her, because that could fuck things up too much," Jason says, pushing a hand back through his hair and trying to fucking deal, trying to --

"Her? I had... will have. *Her*?"

Jason blinks a little *more*, because that -- he focuses on the kid. "You're queer."

Drake blushes -- his hands are shaking. "I'm not -- it's not --"

"It's not *what*?" Jason snorts. "That *would* explain a couple-few things. Not just a *metaphorical* hard-on for Dick, then?"

If Drake gets any redder he'll look like a tomato. On a stick.

"C'mon, give it up. They'll all know when they get to know *you*, anyway," he says, and -- thinks about it. *Bruce* would know. About one fucking *heartbeat* after he gets to see Drake in Dick's space. Dick, though...

"I -- it's. A long-standing... crush," Drake says, and moves to the next stretch. The flush is showing a little on the back of his neck.

Hm. "Except that you don't think of it that way, because it's gone on so long and because it goes that *deep*. Right?"

"He's very. He's. Jason, I don't see how this --"

"I'm getting to *know* you, you little fucker," and yeah, that's the truth. It's not a truth he knows how to deal with all that well, but -- fuck it. *Ride* it. "What about Bruce? Ever think about *him* when you're spanking it?"

"Jason --"

"Answer me," he says, and he means it to come out conversationally, with a *laugh* behind it, but -- it doesn't.

Drake swallows. "Yes. Yes, I do."

And a part of him wants to be pissed for that, for Drake taking something *else* he's not supposed to have, was never *supposed* to have -- no. No. Not this Drake and not the other one, either, because he never *did* have it, and --

Jason was *dead* and Bruce was alone and here was this *kid*, so obedient and quiet, so careful and *good* --

And if Bruce had ever so much as given the kid a handjob, Jason would've known about it when he'd seen Bruce *with* Drake. He would've been able to see it -- fucking *smell* it -- when Bruce had come to him, whether or *not* he'd looked for it.

And he'd looked, all right. Fucking *defending* the kid, trying to put in a good word -- with nothing about how Bruce felt about him, if he'd needed the kid or not. And really, that *could've* just been tactics -- right about then, if he'd heard anything like that --

He has to know *himself*, no matter what else he does. He's got fucking issues, and he's managed to carry them into a whole *new* world, and if he's not careful...

If he's not careful, he'll fuck *everything* up. Right now, Drake is staring at him with the kind of fear -- it's the wrong kind of fear. Fear of *failure* is workable, fear of your teacher losing his shit and breaking you into your component fucking parts... is not.

"Settle down, kid. I'm not gonna break your balls -- too hard."

Drake blinks those wide blue eyes, searches him -- and blushes again. Just -- damn. Right when the *old* blush was fading.

It's tempting to ask him what it's for *this* time, but -- hell, he *knows* what it's for. He and Bruce just weren't all that *subtle* about things -- on the street *or* off, and there were times when Bruce had peeled Jason out of a tuxedo with his *teeth*, times when Jason had screamed so loud he'd hurt his throat, times when the bite of the wind on his dick had just been another part of what made it so *good*, so fucking *good* with Bruce as he bent Jason over a damned gargoyle and fucking *took* --

He knows, and hell, maybe the kid has a picture of it in the collection Jason has stashed somewhere. Maybe whenever he looked at it he replaced Jason in his mind with himself -- or with Dick.

Or maybe there weren't any replacements, at all.

Drake looks down, and shifts until his knees are up and his feet planted. He's not quite *hugging* his knees, but the possibility is there.

"I'm -- still not gonna break your balls much, kid. There's nothing wrong with being queer, and... you should know that's the way I feel, by now," he says, and -- that's about as close as he's going to get to asking that question.

Drake nods, looking up, and -- he really just doesn't seem to be blinking all that much.

"*Do* you need to jerk off?" And who are you gonna be thinking about, if you do?

"I could. Um. Go to the bathroom," he says, and the funny thing is that he's not looking down again. Jason has *all* of his attention, and at least a part of him plans on keeping it that way.

Right. Fine. Teacher and student, and whatever else goes along with that, whatever it *takes* to turn the kid and keep him turned --

It's not that. It's not --

"How much did your old man tell you about sex?"

"I -- have the internet, Jason," he says, and sounds a little *offended*, which --

Which *really* means that if his father had done any more than buy the kid a pack of condoms --

If he'd done that *much* --

Jason snorts and shakes his head. "You know about condoms? About *all* the reasons it's important to use them?"

"I've studied all the STDs and their effects. I don't plan to -- you said I had -- I'll have a *girlfriend*?"

"If things go more or less the same way here. She's -- beautiful."

Drake nods thoughtfully. "I suppose... there are a lot of studies that suggest many people don't know the full extent of their sexualities for quite some time," and he sounds so fucking *doubtful* --

Jason laughs. "Yeah, that's right, *go* with that." He shakes his head. "Anyway. You know that there's nothing bad or wrong about jerking off --"


"And you know that -- okay, we'll leave the issue of pregnancy alone for the *moment* --"

"Yes, um. Please."

Jason laughs again, and it feels like something is breaking in him, something small and sharp and too fragile for what he needs it to *be*. Just -- he hasn't laughed for anything but someone else's *pain* since --

And maybe it's been too long.

He raises his eyebrows again and stares down at Drake, who's staring up at him like maybe he'd done something amazing and difficult to credit as opposed to just laughing at him. Jason sighs internally and lets himself fall back onto his bed, reaching for the tissues and his slick -- the kind that feels *most* like sliding into a woman who wants you *just* that much. He holds them out for the kid.

"Um -- thank you. I -- I'll just --"

"Get back in bed, kid. You'll have a better shot at getting back to a *good* sleep if you do it that way," he says, and watches Drake stand and reach for the stuff like maybe Jason is asking him to take some heroin and a needle. "Go on."

Drake swallows, nods, and does it, pushing down his pajama pants a little before climbing back in. They really are just that small on him, small enough that he'd have to work a little to get them down if he was already on his back --

And there's a new bruise on his hip to replace the first one. He's really going to have to go over falls again --

Drake's biting his lip and slicking his hand, very *much* not looking at Jason -- and he doesn't have to look, either.

Jason pulls the covers back up over himself and works on putting himself back to sleep, letting go of some things and shoving others down to the place which will wake him up again when he *needs* to be awake.

Drake already knows -- well -- how to get to school from here, so that won't be a problem. He knows he *will* wake up when Drake does, but it doesn't have to be all the way --

That sound. Not a moan and not really a sigh, either, but he can't classify it right away --

Not until after the old, familiar sound of a hand *working* a dick sinks in deep enough to fucking stick. Christ, maybe he *should've* sent the kid to the bathroom. Bruce mentioned how he used to jerk off in his room at fucking *Exeter* with his roommate -- and that had been an interesting little road to wander down in his mind *right* up until he'd remembered that Bruce had gone to school with fucking *Two-Face*. He'd never asked for confirmation and Bruce had never offered any, and that --

Was just fine.

It's just that the *only* time Jason had ever been in the same room as someone jerking off -- other than those times when he's had to hit a porno theater for some reason or another, and he'll just forget about the smell of those places right *now*, thank you very much -- is that *one* time he'd gotten Bruce to jerk off *for* him.

When he'd gotten to see *exactly* how Bruce looked when he was thinking about Jason but not *having* him, and all the ways it was different from when they were actually fucking, how it made Jason feel like the worst person in the world, the worst *tease*, because how could anyone deny Bruce? How could anyone stand up in the face of that much *need*?

That *sound*, and the strokes are shorter and faster than anything he uses for himself until the very end, than what Bruce had used until he was begging for it, begging Jason just to touch, to kiss, to do *anything* --

Another sound, low and sharp -- it's a moan, cut *right* off, and should he have told the kid he didn't have to worry about being quiet? He's gotta be used to it, living at home with his parents like that --

And a closed door and music on that sweet stereo system would really have been enough to give the kid all the freedom he *wanted*, and he -- knows that, now.

And knows that Drake tries to stay quiet, anyway.

And knows that he's probably -- almost certainly -- *good* at staying quiet, which means that the fact that he's failing now --

Another cut-off moan --

Shit. It's *nothing* like watching Bruce jerk off and it's *everything* like those first few times he hadn't been able to keep himself from jerking off in the shower even though Bruce had been right there, *because* Bruce had been right there, and he'd thought --

Maybe he wants this, maybe he wants *me*.

He'd thought that, and also --

Maybe if I show him, if I do *this* -- God, I can't *stop* --

Jason growls --

"*Oh* --"

And that really was Drake coming on himself and, hopefully, a tissue. Jason squeezes his eyes shut and thinks about punching himself in the brain two, maybe four or five times.

Maybe eighteen or so. How many punches could he get in before he just fell over twitching? It's definitely worth a little experimentation, because yes he *had* just gotten himself hard, and while it hadn't been a formal *plan* not to jerk off in front of the kid while he was here --

It's been a long time since Talia. A long time and a whole separate *world*, and if he tried flying out to Egypt or Abu Dhabi or wherever she's hanging out these days, he'd just get a couple dozen Ubus to the face. Jason snorts to himself --

And listens to the kid pant.

After a minute, Drake sits up and tosses the used tissue -- perfectly -- into the waste basket.

"You're good, kid?"

"Um. Definitely a lot... better. Thank you."

"You're *welcome* to touch your own dick anytime you want that doesn't interfere with training or get you arrested."

And *that* sound -- like a hum Drake wasn't sure he wanted to let out of his mouth -- was absolutely a laugh. Good deal? Yes? No? Figure it out, later.

"Get to sleep," he says, shifting -- and dealing, yeah. "And hand me the tissues and slick."

"Oh, sorry," and Drake hops to, tucking the little bottle of slick inside the tissue box before handing them over.

And... yeah. Coping *now*. "How hard... how hard are you gonna get listening to *me* jerk off?" And the answer to that question is the answer to a *lot* of questions that really aren't anywhere *near* to being things he wants to hear, things he can *deal* with hearing --

No, no, and no. He can *deal* with the kid wanting him. It's natural, it's -- it was almost fucking *inevitable*, no matter how fucking grim and mean he came on.

Hell, he'd probably made the kid think of Bruce -- the *Batman* -- more than once --

"I -- I -- I think. It's soon enough... after. I'll be fine. I *am* fine, I mean. Um."

Except that *that* answer had managed not to be *much* of an answer, at all. And perhaps he should've known it *could* be like that with a kid who fully understands the meaning of plausible deniability. All right then. He can worry about it some *other* night -- along with worrying about what the kid thinks about the fact that Jason *needs* to jerk off right after he had. If worse comes to worst, he can always set the kid straight about *that* little aspect of human sexuality.

He can call it the Echo Effect or something. Or he can just own up to the fact that he's nowhere near being over --

His ex. "All right, then. Try to sleep," Jason says, pushing the covers back and shifting -- he slips right out of the slit in his boxer briefs and really has to take a moment to laugh at himself. Just -- Jesus.

It's not like *he's* still a kid, *whatever* his dick has to say about it. He slicks himself up and starts to stroke, thinking of long dark hair and subtly golden skin, curves and muscle and eyes that never stop calculating, never stop being focused on the main chance.

Talia had wanted to do with *him* what he's doing with Drake, and he'd even agreed with the program -- for a while. Mostly he'd been wandering in his own head between confusion and rage, between terror and *loss* --

And she'd been right there to guide him through it, to *make* him better at what he wanted to do, who he wanted to be -- but he'd had too many different goals, too many fucking *issues* with Bruce to do what needed to be done. He just hadn't been *able* to push himself back into Bruce's life, to make his case in more than overdramatic fucking *gestures* --

He'd been immature, and he's not going to make that mistake again, not going to pretend that he doesn't want the things he wants, not going to fucking *hide* from himself in his own damned mind --

Talia, and knowing that she wanted Bruce had been part of the attraction. He'd read the *files* on her, and had been smart enough to read between the lines -- Bruce had wanted her, too. *Desired* her for her body and her brilliant, twisty, Daddy-obsessed mind -- and hadn't that made all kinds of sense?

Just -- *Bruce*, and the way he'd get in Crime Alley, the way he'd get when he looked at that huge portrait of his parents, the way he'd get sometimes, right around dawn, when the light was coming up on another day where he wouldn't get what he needed. Not all of it, anyway.

And now he's thinking about having Bruce in his arms, so big and so *lost*, so hungry for understanding that he'd even look for it from a foul-mouthed kid with a serious fucking attitude problem. And he'd given what he could, *been* there for him as much as he could --

He can't have that again. He can't *take* that, but oh --

If he could have just the *touch*, just those big, powerful hands on his body, *moving* his body the way Bruce wanted it to move, until it seemed like those hands were all over him at once, until he was moaning for it, sobbing and fucking *begging* for it --


And when Jason opens his eyes, it's just a ceiling above him, not *the* ceiling, the one he'd come staring at so *many* times, the one he'd tried to shout down onto both of them, because living with that feeling inside him --

That *need* --

And what does Drake need? What was he thinking about when he was jerking off? Whose hands were on him?

Would it be too much to hope for that they *weren't* his own? No, not that. Not -- he can't fucking think about *that*, and is this what all vigilantes who deal with teenagers go through?

Maybe there have to be moments like this one, where necessity breeds just a little too damned *much* intimacy, and everyone has to deal with it and pretend it's all perfectly normal --

He'd *started* it. He -- the kid would've just *lived* with his erection, or maybe waited until Jason was asleep again before slipping down to the bathroom. He wants Drake to be at least a little comfortable with him, *needs* that now that they're getting closer --

Closer --

And fuck, maybe he can just *shoot* himself in the head, because damn if he isn't thinking about what that kid could do with the hands he's been working so *hard* to strengthen, with that pinched little lying mouth --

*Bruce*, and maybe his brain just ambushed him to get him back on the right track, because he gets a flood of images, memories --

They'd never fucked in or near that Olympic-sized swimming pool, had *barely* ever done it in full daylight, because it had taken ten damned minutes to convince Bruce's curtains to open enough that the sun could hit the bed, and Alfred had just closed them again once he and Bruce had gone back down to the Cave.

But --

Golden light on Bruce's chest, and the way it had made most of the scars fade instead of gleam the way they did under fluorescents. Bruce squinting his way through a rueful smile and touching Jason's face while he'd jerked Jason off just --

Like --


And now he's pumping into his own fist, panting a little, feeling the fuck in his palm and in his dick, and it's hot enough to maybe --

God, *Bruce* fucking his fist, doing it hard and fast -- no, he needs it the other way. It's Bruce's hand and it tightens like *this*, speeds like *this* and never falters, never pauses since --

("Like... like this?")

-- the first time, because Bruce wants nothing more than to give Jason what he wants, what he *needs* --

And Jason can feel himself wanting to call Bruce's name, wanting to taste it on his tongue before sending it out to the whole world, or at least to Gotham. Bruce.

His -- his fucking *lover*, and the only home he thought he'd ever --


-- have, the only --

The right --

And the tissues are right there for him, right where he needs them, where he needs Bruce's *mouth*, because he *never* missed a chance to taste Jason when the option was there for him, even when Jason *just* wanted those hands --

Yeah, *both* of them, and now he's working his sac through the boxer-briefs, just squeezing them *hard* once --

Twice, and he's coming, mouth open but thankfully no sound coming out, because he'd bitten back on it hard *enough*, and God, it's good, so *good*, making him feel like sweating and moving, making him fucking *high* --

Until he's back in his body with a sucked-in breath he can't do anything about and the tissue is a dead loss. He tosses it without looking, knowing it'll land in the basket and just -- takes a moment.

Just --

Drake's exhale is low and shuddery, but it's only a breath. Yeah, he'd known the kid wasn't really going to sleep through that. Still... "You okay?"

"Y-yes. I'm not -- I'm fine."

Not hard? Not obsessing even a little? Not *what*? Jason sighs and tucks himself away. "I'm going to hold you to that, kid. We start training..." It takes the kid an hour to get here from school on the subway, so... "Six o'clock. Breakfast at five-thirty."

"All right, Jason. I -- sleep well."

Jason closes his eyes and wonders what he's getting himself into, what he's *doing* to himself, to the plan, to *himself* -- "Yeah, you, too, kid."


The kid gets up at five and washes up -- for long enough that Jason knows that he's taking care of the *raging* erection he'd woken up with and tried and failed to hide.

Jason puts himself back to sleep until five-twenty and then makes them some eggs and toast. The kid watches him do it after offering to help -- and then admitting that he knew absolutely nothing about cooking eggs or anything else, for that matter. Jason lets him butter the toast, and...

He doesn't much care for milk, but he'd bought some -- whole -- for the kid, who needs all the help he can get. They each have some juice, and then he sends the kid to stretch while he thinks about... nothing much in particular.

Or everything. One of those.

At this rate, the kid's going to be at least as ready as he was when he first put on the suit within several weeks, save for the strength. He'll be *more* ready in terms of the strikes and the kind of kicks that require serious flexibility, which means it'll be time to send him to Bruce. Or...

Hm. He *could* just track down the Tailor and have him make a Robin suit to his specifications. He *has* the sketches for the thing, and the Tailor takes commissions from people who *weren't* trained to draw by Bruce Wayne. And... yeah.

He could have Drake present himself *that* way, suited up and ready to go. Ready to *fly*.

Yeah, that... works.

At six on the dot, he makes Drake start showing him the last two katas he'd been taught, and they're just fucking *perfect*, just the right levels of grace, balance, and *viciousness* to make up for the lack of power. Hmm.

"That strike. What would it have done to a target?"

"Paralyzed his arm from the elbow down," Drake says, and keeps moving --

"What about that one?"

"Ah -- extreme pain. Possibly to the point of screaming --"

"Do it again," Jason says, and watches Drake shift to an aggressive stance -- there. "What would it have done if you'd sent it higher and to the left?"

"Crushed. Crushed windpipe."

"And that frightens you."

"I don't -- want to kill anyone."

"Good. I couldn't use you if you were fucking bloodthirsty -- but you'll remember that."

"I could. If I carried a pen with me --"

"You could trach someone you'd downed that way, yeah. Heh. That idea make you more comfortable, kid?"

Drake closes his eyes. "Infinitely."

Jason strokes the tension he can see in the kid's shoulders with two fingertips -- pulls back. "You'll have one. Or -- we can just get you the real thing. A nice, hard, pointed metal tube. And you'll *know* how to use it."

"And then I'll be able to... let loose. To a certain extent," he says, and then opens his eyes, turning a questioning look at Jason.

"Being prepared means being *prepared*. You're not big enough to weigh you down with *too* much equipment, but... you're going to *need* to go for the throat sometimes."

"Because... of my size. And the kind of -- of Robin I'll be."

"Got it in one," Jason says, smiling and pulling off his shirt until he's down to nothing but the boxer-briefs. "Now I'm going to show you a new kata. Watch the way my muscles move."

"Yes -- I mean. All right," and Drake stands down and moves back to give Jason space.

That yes had been a little too... much. And Jason -- he could've just said 'watch' and left it at that. That's what he's *been* doing --

Fuck, fuck, and fuck some more. Maybe he'll get lucky and the kid will say or do something that'll let Jason put a fucking *stop* to this before he --


Jason takes a breath and moves into the kata, trying to make it as slow as he'd done it the first time Talia had one of her minions show it to him. He doesn't think he can manage *that*, but, well -- this one calls for something close to the *edge* of his flexibility, and the challenge is *enough* of a slow-down.

Drake. Tim Drake, who maybe -- definitely -- wants a taste of the big, scary man who's been teaching him to be something better than he has any right to be. Than he *thinks* he has any right to be, because those neighbors of his had *had* a kid.

A kid who'd grown up thinking she was the most useless, undesirable thing on the face of the earth. A kid who started using when she was fucking *eleven*, and so Jason had drifted away from her and just --

Watched her kill herself while her parents went on and on about *their* problems, never stopping to look, to see, to *help* --

And maybe the Drakes aren't that bad. Maybe they remember his birthday and Christmas and shit like that, and take him out to --

Well, they'd sure as fuck taken him to the *circus*. Jesus fucking Christ -- no.

Jason focuses on what he's doing and *only* that, letting the rhythms take him --

Work him --

*Twist* him, and he doesn't bother to look to see if Drake's paying attention. He knows he is. That he's memorizing everything -- *especially* how Jason's muscle groups are moving.

He's just that good and just that *focused*, and --

You'd think the father would at least *want* to take the kid to work, sometimes --

"Drake," he says, not stopping --


"Have you been -- blowing off your parents for this?"

"Um. It hasn't... come up. I bring my camera with me to school every day... I think they believe I've just been practicing my photography."

Which... "You'll need some evidence of that."

"I've been trying to take more pictures on my way here. And -- around school."

"Good, *but* --"

"They don't. I've never. I don't show them my pictures. They know that's private."

"What -- you could be wandering off every day to get fucked up the ass by the local child molester --"

"But I'm not," Drake says, and when Jason slips back into his own skin and turns, there's a smile on his face, rueful but still a little -- bright. "It's really not an issue, Jason. If it comes to it, I can always say that I'm out playing Elfquest with Ives, or... or something. Pick-up basketball in the park, studying in the library -- my grades haven't slipped. I -- just. You shouldn't... worry. If that's what you were. Doing."

"I was *worried* -- " About what the hell your *life* looks like. Shit. "Never mind. Let me see you."

Drake nods and moves into the kata immediately, hitting point after point after --

"Stop," he says, and Drake holds himself mid-kick. Jason pushes Drake's foot down a little. "Lower is better for this one -- it'll help your speed into the next strike."

Another nod. "Ready."

Jason taps his ankle and moves back. "Go."

He makes three more mistakes, and then makes two *different* mistakes in his second run-through.

There's no time for a third before school, though, so Jason backs off and sends the kid to get ready.

While the kid's learning whatever it is... why *is* he in a public school? He would've been up shit creek if the Drakes had let their money do the talking for their kid's education, but it's still a little on the strange side. He -- maybe he'll just ask.

He spends the morning hacking the Drakes' bank records and -- yeah, they're rolling in it, and they like to spend it all over the world. Judging by what he sees, they've taken fourteen trips out of the country over the past three years. There are *also* trips to California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Colorado -- and he'll bet they'd left the kid home for every last one of them.

Maybe his neighbors would've done the same thing if they'd had the cash, going everywhere they could because they just couldn't stand to be home and dealing with what their marriage actually *looked* like. Maybe the Drakes are better people when they're on the road. Maybe...

Maybe he should just fucking cope with the fact that he has the *perfect* opportunity to train the kid the way he wants to and leave it at that. Maybe.

Was it this way in his own world? The Drakes are due to have a truly nasty time in Haiti in several months. He hadn't planned to do anything about that -- the kid *should* be in with Bruce by then, all set to be a ward while Jack Drake slowly recovers. Slowly enough that it'll be too late for him to have *any* influence on Tim's life.



And how, exactly, is the kid going to take it when he knows Jason is *worried* about him? He could soak it up like water in the desert -- and Jason will have to work fucking *hard* to keep a little professional distance.

Or he could balk harder than he ever has for *anything*, and that -- would be a damned problem. He doesn't *want* Jason to worry, and he's been so --

He's been so damned *accepting* of all of this, even -- especially? -- Jason being a fucking *dick*, and -- yeah, he can see that now.

This was never about punishing the --

This was never about punishing Tim, who, he has to admit, has never done one fucking *thing* to him. It's about Bruce, and about Gotham, and all the good that can be done for -- for all of them. For the fucking *world*, because, yeah, those other meta-kids will need someone, a little guidance *sometimes*, when he's done what he needs to do *here*.

So... this is the way it's going to be. There's no telling how long the anomalies will be popping off -- he hasn't had even a whisper of one on his sensor for two weeks -- and so there's no telling how long he's going to *be* here once... once Tim is ready.

He doesn't have to be a dick.

And yeah, a *big* part of him is mouthing off about him being soft, being an *idiot* again, because it's not like he has any reason to give a shit about *anything* here.


One good world.

One *right* world.

And if he has to carve a place for himself *out* of this world --

Then he's making an okay start at it, if only in his own head.



Jason takes the kid out twice during the week he spends living at the gym, and the second time...

Well, it was a gift.

Three dealers and no weapons to speak of once he took their cheap little knives -- that's what a lack of gang affiliation will get you in Gotham.

And once he'd taken out the two big ones...

He'd gestured for up, again for *attack* -- and Tim had slipped off the bike while the asshole was still trying to back away, moved up quick and silent and *perfect*.

A kick to the back of the knees, a kick to the *head* -- and it was all over but the... heh.


Tim had looked up at him and it hadn't even seemed like he'd wanted approval or, hell, even an *order*. It had just been a *look*, and Jason had known that if Tim hadn't had the domino on, he would've been a little fucking stunned by it, maybe floored --

("J... that was. That. I want *more*.")

And he'd felt that in his chest, wrapped around his *dick*, and maybe somewhere deeper than either of those places. Maybe better.

Just *remembering* it --

Jason grins to himself and watches Tim work himself on the pommel horse. The kid -- he fucking loves that thing, and has from the first days when he'd fall off and come close to braining himself more -- far more -- often than not. Right now, he's unsteady and wavering some, but there's a tight little look on his face that means he's either in incredible pain or trying not to smile.

Jason knows where he'd lay his money down.

"Five more minutes, then you hit the rings."

"All right," he says, and moves into swinging his legs, turning like the gymnast he'll never really be --

Dick. He needs to get this kid to *Dick*.

He'll get there. Bruce *first* -- because Dick would be able to keep his mouth shut for approximately five minutes, and that's including the time he'd take to bitch Jason out for not going to Bruce immediately.

And -- last night was Tim's last *here*... until the next time his parents take off. Maybe he can convince the kid to convince *them*...


Let him have as much time as they can, then. And -- they'll see.

After Tim's worn himself out on the rings and swung around the uneven bars a little, Jason calls him to his work-table. The collapsible staff *isn't* as good as the one he *will* have from Bruce one day, but it's more than good enough for practice. He puts it in Tim's hand and waits for the question.

He gets a questioning *look* -- good enough.

"Back up onto the mats and hold it away from you. *Then* hit the button."

Tim nods and does it -- and blinks for the staff's extension. "For... me?"

"You *need* a weapon. And... I happen to know you're suited for this one. For other things, too, but... you'll start here."

Tim swallows and looks the staff over, turning it -- it snags on the mats and Tim blushes. "I -- I'm not. Too short?"

Well... Jason grins. "You *are* too short. For *life*. But not too short for the *staff*. You're finally getting the strength you're going to need to use it, to keep holding it *up* the way you'll have to if you're going to use it *well*."

Tim... licks his lips. "I. Thank you. I mean -- for everything so far. But -- thank you."

Jason... doesn't squeeze his eyes shut. He nods, and gestures for Tim to give it back. "Watch. You're going to have to learn a lot about the staff on your own, because I've *barely* worked with them. That means? You're going to have to *play* with it. From now on, you're staying an extra hour *just* for staff work -- when you can."

"Oh. Oh -- yes, of course --"

"You are *not* to risk getting caught. And *that* means? When your -- your parents want you home? You *stay* home."

"I -- all right, but they won't --"

Jason holds up a hand. "When you *think* they want you around? You stay. Even if they don't say anything."

*That* makes Tim frown, and --

And. "Tim. Listen to me on this one. I'm not -- I'm not trying to fuck with you."

If anything, Tim's eyes are wider than they were for the staff, more *full* --

And it's not like he hadn't seen that coming, so he just holds still for the look in Tim's eyes, and gives it back as much as he can.

After a moment, Tim swallows and nods, blanking his expression. "But... tonight? You'll show me more?"

("I want *more*.")

"Yeah. Watch."


The knife he puts in Tim's hand three weeks later gets a less positive reaction, but -- not quite a negative one, either.

"I wasn't aware knives of this type were made in this -- oh. It's sized for my hand. Weighted -- balanced for my grip. I."

And the thing is, he'd taught the kid enough *about* knives that it's not a surprise that he can *feel* it, but it still feels --


Jason pulls his own -- favorite -- knife and walks to the mats, gesturing follow, gesturing attack --

"Jason. I -- we've never --"

"And that's about to change, kid --"

That gets him a wince, though whether it was for the 'kid' or the tone of his voice is up in the air.

Jason shakes his head. "You're *not* afraid of getting cut *and* you know the moves. Attack."

"I --" And *Tim* shakes his head, but it doesn't look it has anything to do with Jason -- as opposed to something in his own mind. And then he's leaping, dodging and moving --

Circling, and if he's aware of the fact that he's waving the knife back and forth -- no, he knows he is. He'd *taught* Tim about how you can pull an opponent's attention away from what you're planning to do that way --

Leap --

And Tim kicks instead of striking with the knife, which *nearly* gets him an impressive slash to the calf, and *does* get Jay to dance back a little. Jason smirks. "Nice, but that's not what you're here to learn today."

"Just -- testing," Tim says, and starts circling again. This time he's holding the knife perfectly still and tracking Jason with his eyes. He blinks --

Blanks --

And their blades glance against each other with a little metallic scream.


Tim goes for his fingers --

His arm --

Tim spins and rolls, stabbing down for Jason's *foot* --

"And if you get your knife caught, kid? The kind of people you'll need this for *won't* stop for a stab wound to the foot."

"Right, I -- right," and Tim switches the knife to his left hand, which means -- yeah, strikes aimed for Jason's ribs, his hand --

Slash to the *thigh* -- which Jason meets with his knife. "What would that have done?"

"Femoral slash. Deadly within minutes. I. Jason --"

"Don't *stop*."

And Tim makes a quiet, frustrated noise --

And then he *gives* it to Jason, moving like he's exactly as small as he is, making himself a *difficult* fucking target even though Jason's not attacking. Each strike comes with a scream of metal, and they come faster and *faster*. He's using everything Jason had shown him, and his form isn't as steady or perfect as it could be, but that'll come with *practice*.

Jason starts moving for more than just dodges and blocks, gradually speeding up until they're using the whole surface of the mats and occasionally dipping off the edges.

The runs he's been having Tim take have brought his stamina up *high*, and he's calling on it now. The only sounds are their feet, their knives, and Tim's breathing, fast and even with a hitch for every strike.

It's a *sweet* little hitch, speaking of a hesitation he *wants* to give, but isn't, at all. This is flat-out vicious, the kind of thing he'd seen from that other Tim just once, at the Tower, *after* Jason had beaten him bloody. He's going to have to find a way to get Tim to draw that line a little further back, closer to the body that's getting to be a lot more wiry than skinny, a lot more *dangerous* than pathetic --

And Jason knows he's grinning now, showing his pleasure and maybe just a *touch* of his own viciousness. He's making Tim *work* for it, and Tim is fucking well doing his *job*, following Jason all around the fucking gym and making every strike count, every slash fucking *sing* through the air, every blocked strike scream and cry like the world's *nastiest* fucking -- bird.

"*Yes*, Tim --"

And *that* gets a cry, but Tim never stops and only falters for a moment before coming right back even *harder*. *Now* his breathing is a little uneven, and he's flushed from his cheeks right down his perfect, unmarked throat.

"This is what I want. This is what we *need* --"

Another sound, but no falter this time, and when Jason fakes a lunge, Tim spins right around it, sending his knife arm up to block a strike that doesn't come --

"Oh yeah, now you're gettin' it --"

"Please, Jason, I." And he cuts himself off, spins and moves when Jason jabs with the knife --

And now he's adding his kicks to it, making it more *real*.

Fighting for his *life*, because Jason only had to tell him once, only had to *show* him once, and he's back to being silent and focused, working through the different styles Jason had taught him in a *pattern* -- hm.

"Change it up, I can see you coming."

"You always -- yes," he says, and sticks with karate for a stretch of beats before moving to the little they *both* know of muay Thai, which always makes Jason want to dump milk into the kid until he *knows* his bones are as strong as they can be --

Back to karate --

Just a little capoeira --

And then the knife-fighting that Tim was fucking *born* for, because his breathing is *rough* now, but his form is better than it was when he'd *started*, and --

"You feel it, don't you?"

"Jason --"

"How *good* it is. It's singing right through you, isn't it?"

"God, I -- *yes* --"

"Good," Jason says, and forces them just that slightest bit faster before *letting* one of the slashes land on his forearm -- slightly.

"Oh --"

"Don't you *dare* fucking stop, kid --"

And he doesn't, but his eyes are wilder now, slipping to the blood on Jason's bare arm, the blood on his knife --

Until Jason slashes right in *front* of those eyes --

Tim grunts and redoubles his attack, focusing on Jason's left side -- his *wounded* side -- precisely the way he should.

"Yeah --"

"Jason, I think --"

"*Don't* think. *Fight*."

But he *is*, and it's fucking beautiful to see, fucking *perfect*. Just -- it's something building in his chest, something *tightening* at the base of his spine and in his balls, too.

And now Tim's *definitely* getting tired, and Jason thinks he can maybe feel *that*, too. The burn in the muscles, the sense that his body is throwing up alarms here and there --

He grabs Tim in the middle of a sloppy spin and tosses him --

And he *damned* well keeps his grip on the knife and rolls, getting back up on his feet and coming right back in, quick-stepping, stopping, dodging a couple of slashes Jason throws in to keep things interesting --

And going for his wounded arm again, almost seeming to *hunger* for it, and maybe it's just the moment, but it feels like the blood in Jason's body is trying to come out *faster*, trying to *get* to the kid, to Tim fucking Drake who will never, ever be defenseless now.

He'll always be ready, always be a *fighter* -- even if he's not ready for the *street*, yet.

*He'd* done this, crafted this sweet little weapon out of --

Not nothing. Not that.

He tosses Tim again, stalking up to make Tim roll faster, get himself up --

Slash for his legs Jason has to *jump* over, and Tim is up again, moving, pushing himself *right* to his edges and over --

"Does it hurt, yet?"

"I -- hn. Yes --"

"Two more minutes," Jason says, mourning because he wants *more* --

And, if anything, Tim pours it on even more, smoothing out his *flow* and showing everything he's learned. Just -- everything, and if it takes exhaustion to randomize his fight style, he'll fucking well *keep* Tim tired.

If it takes a little shock and fucking awe to get him to be vicious like this, dangerous like this --

Not *every* one of his slashes and strikes would be killing blows, but he's not holding back even a little, and --

His body is going to *remember* this. Every move, every spin, every slash and strike and *stab*. His body is going to *know* this in every fucking *sinew*, and it'll be there for him when he's desperate or angry, ready for him to make the *move*.

And nothing can ever change that now.

"Time," Jason says, turning away from a slash which would've laid his chest open to the bone.

Tim stands down and bows -- and then stands there panting, searching Jason hard with his eyes wide and his body *shaking*. And yeah, he's hard.

Jason *isn't*, but if he was just a couple of years younger... he cups Tim's face, stroking the sharp little cheekbone which, if anything, will just get *more* sharp as he gets older.


"You know you did good, right? I don't *have* to tell you."

"I. I couldn't even -- you *let* me -- and I should. Will you let me bandage it? It will be awkward. Um --"

Jason laughs and shakes Tim a little. "Yeah, you can bandage me up, kid. In a *minute*. You. Did. *Good*."

Tim bites his lip and -- *tries* to look down.

"Nuh-uh. Focus."

And right back on him again. "I -- thank you. I don't know... those moves I was using --"

"You don't know if you can use them on the street, I know. But sometimes you're going to *have* to. There are metas out there, and there are *still* assholes who get themselves hopped up on PCP, and then *nothing* can stop them short of the kind of moves you'd use *on* a meta."

"But -- there's the staff for that, and I know I'm still not any good with it --"

"There are *other* times, kid. And you know what they are. *When* they are."

"I --"

"Stop," Jason says, and squeezes the kid's face a little. *Just* enough to hurt --

And the wince is only *behind* Tim's eyes.

Jason nods. "How much of this is what you think about right and wrong and how much of it... heh. How much of it is you wondering what Bruce and Dick are gonna think of you?"

Tim closes his eyes.


The look in those eyes... miserable. *Ashamed*. And so damned hungry Jason isn't sure he's still breathing right.

"Kid... Tim. Do you see me killing people every night? Blinding people, maybe? Putting people on the transplant list?"

"*No*, but -- you still do it. And I can't stop thinking --"

"That Robin isn't supposed to be like that. That Robin is supposed to be *better* than that. Right?"

Tim nods the little bit Jason allows. "But -- I'm not saying -- you *are* good, and I understand everything you do and the reasons why you *do* it --"

"But you want to be loved, too. I hear that. It's human. It's *natural* -- so don't go thinking you're weak. You're strong as hell to keep fighting me on this, and don't think I don't *see* that," Jason says, and smiles ruefully, stroking that cheekbone again --

Tim shivers and closes his eyes -- opens them.

"Bruce is gonna lose his *shit* the first time he sees you. Dick will probably deal a little better, but he'll still be suspicious. *Cautious*. But let's stick with Bruce, since Gotham isn't Dick's city, anymore, okay?"

"I -- okay."

Jason loosens his grip -- he pushes Tim's hair off his forehead, and thinks about telling him to cut it, maybe style it the way he used to in Jason's universe... no, that would just make Jason want to hit him. He smiles to himself and brings his hand back to Tim's cheek --

And Tim shivers and *moans*, squeezing his eyes shut and blushing --

Well -- fuck. He'd *had* things to say, good, convincing things about how Bruce will do everything to change the world -- and do it *for* a Robin -- but. Maybe not now.

Tim *rubs* his face against Jason's palm -- definitely not now.

"Kid --"

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry -- let me. I'm *sorry*," he says, and his face twists --

"*Tim* --"

"*Hn* --" Tim's *knees* buckle, and it's reflex to catch him, hold him up --

"Jesus, did you --"

"Let me. Let me go. Wash up. Change. Please."

"Shit, I --"

"*Please*, Jason," and Tim's eyes are wide and fucking *wounded*, shamed to the point of --

Of. Jason lets go, and the kid -- Tim *runs* for the bathroom, and never mind the fatigue that has to be making his muscles feel like fucking burning jell-o right now --

And there's the quiet groan of the water coming on, and --

He'd just made the kid come in his fucking pants. Hell, shit, fuck, damn, and damn some more. If that had ever happened with Bruce before they started screwing, before Jason knew for *sure* that Bruce wanted him --

Jason walks to the bathroom and opens the door to find Tim scrubbing out his pants like maybe there's the blood of a dead baby on it as opposed to just a little come -- and there's come smeared on his dick, which is still half-hard.

Tim gives him a look that almost seems *betrayed*, and Jason uses the stand-down gesture before he can think about it --

"I have to. They're *dirty* --"

"There's *come* on them, kid, and if you had any *idea* how many gi I spunked up in my day --"

Tim *moans*, squeezing his eyes shut and *starting* to bring the pants to his face -- he makes another sound, lower and more *hurt*, and pushes them under the water again.

"Kid --"

"Just -- I'm sorry, and if you give me just a few minutes, I. I'll be able to train more, and there's nothing -- I'm not a *Golden Retriever*."

Which makes no sense whatsoever -- until Jason remembers and has to wince. "I know you're not. Just -- you need to know that this is *okay*, Tim --"

"And you use my *name* now, and that's -- that's actually very confusing, Jason, because I don't know why and I don't know how to feel about it," he says, and there's a hard little line on his forehead that'll be a serious *groove* by the time he's seventeen.

Jason reaches out to touch it --

"Please don't. Please don't make me -- I think. You should tell me the *rules*," Tim says, and shakes his head. "Because I don't think I know them, and that's a problem. I think."

Rules. *Rules* -- for teacher and student, because no, they're *not* friends, and they're certainly not brothers or. Anything like that. Because he'd said so. "Rule number one -- you're not allowed to freak about this, even though it's embarrassing as all hell --"

"I'm sorry --"

"Rule number two -- you're not allowed to apologize to me for it, because it's not like you interrupted actual training."

"But --"

"Rule number three -- even if you *did* interrupt actual training, you're *still* not allowed to apologize, because you're at the age when the erections should be fucking *crippling* you. Especially because of the work we're doing."

"But you said -- you *implied* --"

"I know I did," Jason says, and grips the door -- too hard. He eases up. "I was wrong. I was treating you like the seventeen year old I knew, instead of --"

"I'm not a *child*! Or -- you can't. You can't treat me like that, Jason, not -- not if you expect me to -- to castrate a rapist or something."

And -- heh. "A little fire for that? Good, I like it. But the seventeen year old? Knew these rules. You don't. Yet."

And Tim glares at him a little more -- but then he relaxes, all over, and starts regulating his breathing.

"Yeah. Like that. Rule number four -- I was a dick to you for a good long time and I know I was. You should therefore take every fucking non-training-related thing I said to you with a grain of salt. You're not useless, you're not pathetic, and the fact that we're not friends --" And Jason has to cut himself off, because *that* part of him is speaking up, the part that thought it was a great fucking idea to parade around dressed up like a goddamned supervillain.

The part that fucked Talia *because* Bruce couldn't ever let himself have her.

The part that used all the great stuff he'd learned in the wrong damn ways for the wrong damned *reasons* --

"Jason --"

"*Wait*," Jason says, and tries to grab his ghost, his fucking internal *demon* by the throat, tries to shake and squeeze the *life* out of it, because he needs this kid, needs *Tim*, and not just because he's so *useful* --



Jason laughs and closes his eyes, thinking about getting himself in a position to bang his head against something hard -- no, he started this, and he's fucking well going to finish this. He looks at Tim *hard* --

And Tim's looking *just* as hard. Harder, searching and studying and just plain *begging* with his eyes... because he's just a little bit harder than he was a moment ago.

"Rule number five," Jason grits, and lets go of the door to step closer, loom a little until Tim's craning his head back. "Rule number five isn't a rule so much as it's a fact -- there'll be more rules. I've never taught anyone before you, Tim. I'm making this shit up as I go along --"

"It doesn't. Seem that way."

Jason smiles. "Thanks. But you haven't had a *real* teacher, yet. See, all of this? Is just to get you to the point where Bruce and Dick can take over, take you to the next level and give you all the things I can't. But that's neither here nor there right now. Right now, you're ashamed and hurting and horny, and I want -- I want to know what I can do to make it better."

Blush -- no, it's a flush, because it's spilling down under his tunic where Jason can't see, because it's filling Tim's dick and making it *rise* for Jason.

"Yeah, I thought so," Jason says, and puts one hand on Tim's shoulder to steady him before wrapping the other around his slick-sticky dick --

"*Jason* --"

"Don't tell me it's not what you want --"

"It is, oh -- oh, *God*, Jason, your hand --"

"On you. Wrapped right around you --"

"*Please* --"

"You're gettin' me dirty. Getting my fingers *slick* --"

Tim cries out and closes his eyes, pumping into Jason's fist once, twice --

And then holding himself still except for the shaking, the *trembling*, because this is what he wants.

*Some* of what he wants. "You want it like that night? Short strokes?"

"Ah -- nn. You. Please, Jason, I don't *know* --"

"Yeah, I -- right," and Jason shakes his head and just *gives* it to him. Totally too much to ask him to be coherent right now, considering -- everything. Just.

He's done *damage* here, and whether or not he's making up for it right now -- no, he knows he isn't, just as he knows that he can't really *predict* where that damage is going to come out. But.

"You know how excited you got me out there, Tim?"

A questioning noise, and when Tim opens his eyes again they're wild, unfocused --

"Yeah, look at me. *See* me," he says, and gives Tim a *good* squeeze --

And then catches him around the waist when his knees buckle -- buckle *again*, really, and --

"You've got kind of a hair trigger, there -- which is *completely* normal for --" Someone your age. Fuck. "It's completely normal. Things will start settling down for you in a year or two --"

"Nnh -- okay?"

And also not the damned sex talk right now, *Jesus*, where the hell is his head? Focus on this, just *this*: The *rock*-hard dick in his hand and the boy loving it, wanting it --

Eyes tracking so fast over Jason's face that he has to be *memorizing* it --

"Think about what you want, Tim. What you *like*."

"I -- your hand. Just -- so. All the calluses --"

"Yeah, I get off on those, too. You're getting your own calluses, though --"

"Make -- you're making me *better* -- oh, God, Jason, please, please --" Cut off with a whimper, and Tim is shaking all over now, sending the feeling through him, making *him* --

"I won't stop, kid. I won't -- I've got you now, and it's all right --"

"*Please* --"

"Fuck, don't -- don't *beg* like that --"

*Groan*, and -- "I'm sorry -- I'm so sorry, Jason, I'll do better --"

"*No*. It's not -- fuck, it's just that you're getting to me a little here, Tim, making it hard to *think*," and Jason strokes faster, shifts his hold to a more comfortable one and pulls Tim against him harder --

"*Oh* --" And Tim turns his face against Jason's chest, pants and shakes *harder* --

"You're good. You're *good*," and he pets Tim's hair a little, thinks about other ways he can touch --

*Tries* to think about other ways he can touch, but it's all just images he can't really deal with, all things that go a little -- or a *lot* -- too far. He can't go there, and it wouldn't be any good for Tim --

That's a lie. "Just focus on coming for me --"

Tim nods frantically and starts pushing into Jason's fist again, starts making rhythmic little grunting noises that are really --

*Really* --

How much more *does* he want? How many hours had he spent online trying to figure out what goes where and how *this* worked or that --

"I've got you," he says again, and --

Tim clutches at him, yanks his hands free and strokes, yanks his hands back and whimpers --

"It's *okay*, kid -- Tim --"

And Tim's cry is loud and *sharp*, cut off hard -- fucking *brutally* -- as he snaps his teeth shut and swallows --

And comes all over Jason's hand, spattering the sink a little and shuddering, fucking *spasming* --

"Yeah, that's it. That's just right," Jason says, and holds Tim for another few moments, loosening his grip on Tim's penis and trying to even out his *own* breathing.

Which -- okay, so the last guy he'd had sex with was Bruce, years ago, and that has to be part of it, but most of it *has* to be the fact that he has Tim Drake's come on his hand, and Tim Drake's body pressed against his own --

But Tim isn't clutching him so much as staying *put*, and there's so much tension in his body right now... "You okay?"

"Yes. Yes, I'm okay," Tim says, and pushes back against the hold Jason has on him. Jason lets him, and Tim steps back, looking down -- he'd dropped the pants somewhere in there, and he picks them up and puts them on the sink, smoothing them out a little. "I think. I got all of it out."

"Then just hang them up anywhere to dry -- no, here, I'll take them --" In his *clean* hand, and what's the etiquette for this, exactly? Jason takes a breath and hangs them on the hook on the door, and then he -- holds his sticky hand up between them.

Tim blushes and bites his lip, and --

Jason really could just wash it off. The sink's right there, and he -- he *should* just wash it off. It's just that something inside him feels a little unfinished. Or maybe a lot.

And -- he wants to know.

He moves his hand close to Tim's mouth -- and lets the screams in his head do their job, drowning out everything but this moment, this --

Tim leaning in --

And he can stop this, he can call it over and it *will* be, because he *knows* Tim is never gonna push --

Tim opens his mouth --

He can call it a *joke*, though it wouldn't be a very good one. He --

Tim takes *three* of Jason's fingers into his mouth and closes -- *almost* closes his eyes. There are just two narrow little bits of blue he can see, and --

Tim's mouth is just as hot and wet as it should be, as it *had* to be, and his tongue is quick and --

Not sharp. They'd left their knives in the other room, all of their *weapons* --

And maybe he should be saying something here, something to make sure Tim knows that it's all right, that there's nothing too fucked up going on here -- not for the world *they* live in, anyway --

But Tim is standing still, hands clenched into fists and dick hanging out as he --

He's not *cleaning* Jason's fingers so much as he's going *down* on them, showing off a little with how deep he's taking them -- or maybe he just needs them that deep, needs to *show* Jason.

And when Jason moves to pull them *out* --

Hands wrapped around his wrist and forearm, *careful* of the wound that had stopped bleeding sometime when Jason wasn't paying attention, and -- back and forth, in and *out* --

"You. You know what you're asking for, Tim?"

Eyes *wide* open -- and a nod, and whether it's the nod or the look in his eyes that make it feel like someone -- small and deadly -- is going for his dick and *squeezing*-- 

It doesn't really matter, because *something* is making him feel this way, and this -- could be a whole lot of trouble. A part of his mind just wants to know who *started* it, another part is telling him to slap the kid down, *another* part is telling him that he has to get more training time in today --

And the rest is fucking Tim's mouth with Jason's fingers, slow and just a *little* hard. Just hard enough to test, to *see* --

And Tim pulls off -- and licks Jason's hand clean before letting go and clenching his fists at his side again. Really? "Too much?"

"No. But I thought." Tim doesn't bite his lip, but he looks like he *wants* to -- right up until he's staring at Jason's crotch.

Right. Jason's just *standing* here waiting for his forebrain to kick in, and -- it's really not going to do it. Wing it, then. He puts both hands on Tim's shoulders. "Look at me."

Tim licks his *lips* -- and *then* he does it.

"Jesus, kid -- Tim. First and foremost? Sometimes I'm gonna call you 'kid' just because I got used to doing it. If I need to call you on the carpet for something, I've got less passive-aggressive ways of doing it," he says, and strokes the place behind Tim's ear where the little cut has already faded to nothing.

Tim tenses... but it doesn't look like a bad tension. It looks like a *more* tension, and Jason's stroking that spot again before he can think --

He *stops*. "Second thing -- you don't need to blow me just because I gave you a helping hand. I'm grown, and I can deal with my own erections --"

"If you're going to put it that way, Jason, *I* can deal with *my* own erections. I just -- don't want to. As much as I want. Other things. Um."

And Jason *has* to laugh for that, because -- "Man, you were doing so *good* at having balls for just a moment there, Tim --" He flicks Tim's ear. "You're old enough to know what you want -- I hear that. I just meant that, *at your age* -- and yeah, I'm saying it again -- sometimes the only thing that can stop the horniness from taking *over* your system is another person. You've got a lot more control than pretty much anyone I've ever seen your age, but you're still human. Get me?"

Tim looks thoughtful and just a *little* rebellious -- but he nods. "I... suppose that would help to explain some of the behavior of the students at my school."

"Why *do* you go to public school?"

Tim blinks at him. "I asked, Jason. I wanted to stay in the city and have a lighter, more casual workload so that I could continue following you."

His *turn* to blink. "And your parents just went for it?"

"I told my mother that I thought I could learn more about different sorts of people if I stayed in the city -- she liked that. I told my *father* that the Gotham public libraries had a lot more of what I needed for my own projects than any private school's collection, and that I'd look more worldly on my eventual college applications."

He's -- not going to blink again. "Okay. That's... heh. Pretty fucking manipulative, actually, but since it works for me..." Jason squeezes Tim's shoulders. "Get yourself cleaned up and changed. We have more to do today."

"Jason, I." Tight jaw and eyes full of *determination*, and it makes them warmer, easier *and* harder to look at -- "I'd really. I want to -- go down on you. To suck you off."

"Tim --"

"It's not -- it's not gratitude or even. Even a sense of owing you something -- though I definitely feel as though I do, and there's nothing you can say to change that --"

"It's not going to happen," Jason says, and takes a moment to be proud of himself for it coming out flat and even, no-nonsense --

"Would you... I just want. You never have to touch me again, I -- I know you know that, but. You could teach me how to do it right, how to make it good. You know I'd listen --"

"*Tim*." And the grip he has on Tim's hair probably isn't taking the kid anywhere *good* at this point, but it's there, and he's keeping it. "It's not going to happen. Get it out of your head right now."

Tim frowns and blushes hard -- "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been so -- forward. About that. Or --"

"You can *be* fucking forward, Tim. But I'm not about to start something like this with -- with you, and that's the way it's going to be. Now clean up and get changed -- I'll toss you a fresh pair of pants in a minute."

"Yes, Jason," Tim says, and gives him a look full of waiting, full of patience and -- yeah, just a little shame.

"You have *nothing* to be ashamed of and nothing to apologize for."

"If you -- yes, Jason."

Hell. One step forward, *three* steps back, and Jason doesn't have clue fucking one what to do about it. He sighs internally and lets go of Tim's hair, backing out and grabbing the pants.

He tosses them in, and watches for long enough to see Tim catching them perfectly -- in a way that keeps his vision from being blocked for more than a moment --

And then he moves back to the mats, collecting the knives and setting them aside to be polished and sharpened. He can do that when he's winding himself down for sleep later.

He's got a sheath for Tim's knife that fits on a belt he can wear comfortably -- and discreetly -- under just about anything, but it's not like he can send Tim home with it. No, he's just going to think harder about how to make it work with a uniform that's both form-fitting enough to be Robin-standard and armored enough to make Tim into the miniature tank he'll *need* to be out there.

He *could* just leave that decision up to the Tailor, but -- he doesn't want to. This is *his* addition to the legacy, and he wants it to be as *much* his own as possible. He wants *Tim* to be --

Yeah. *Not* on his knees for Jason, no matter how much Tim thinks he wants it --

He could just *tell* the kid. Explain to him what it's like to be that age and screwing your teacher, your mentor, your partner, your -- father. He could show off the scars that *don't* show up under fluorescents, and give the kid a story for each one.

Hell, he could probably get Tim *off* that way, painting pretty and dirty little pictures for him to think about while the lessons -- hopefully -- sink in.

This will change your whole damned life, kid.

You won't ever get *away* from this.

You'll feel it in your bones until you *die* -- and maybe after that, too -- because even knowing that I'm anything but perfect, I'll always be the man who changed *you*, and that --


Tim comes out with his game face on.

They train.


Teaching Tim to fly is harder than he thought it would be, though he has to admit that has more to do with his own paranoia than with anything else. Thus far, they've avoided the cops, but there could be just about anyone watching them on these streets.

Having a rough idea of where the Bat is stomping around -- and some of those news reports are getting *damned* serious about vigilantism, and only a tiny part of what's making them that way is what he and Tim get up to -- is one thing. Knowing where everyone is who could eventually, conceivably *report* to the Bat is something else.

And two guys flying around? Not so much with the subtle. But Tim is careful and quick, taking Jason's request that he learn *fast* to heart. The training line with the catch on the waist saves his life six different times -- while slamming his body against buildings -- but after that he's a lot smoother, daring when he needs to be, *trusting* when he needs to be.

If anything, he's a lot more upset about the time he'd wound up breaking some penthouse-living fuck's window than any of the bruises or the de-cel 'rashes' on his palms, and that's something Jason can definitely work with --

And then it's time to train him in the gauntlets, the *real* ones -- assuming his hands and forearms don't grow any more in the next couple of months.


Right now, Tim is holding his hands up to look at them, flexing and releasing, flexing and waving them -- and then clenching his fists and slashing at the air with the spikes, one arm then the other --

"You'll have to move in for the second slash."

"Yes, of course. I -- they're not as strong as actual blades."

Jason smiles and shakes his head. "Not as effective, either... depending on what you're trying to achieve."

Tim smiles back, small and a little shy... and that's new, really. The *look*, like he's tempted to share a joke, or thinks that *maybe* he's been invited to do just that -- "I could definitely make someone... give me space, this way."

"You could take out someone's *eyes* that way, kid. But Batman normally just slices into their foreheads," Jason says, and traces a line above his eyebrows.

"Head wounds do bleed... impressively," he says, and Jason would bet that he's thinking of the pimp currently missing an ear and *part* of his nose thanks to Tim, himself. The man had been branding 'his' stable, and Jason still isn't sure if it was the fact of it that had made Tim pull his knife when Jason had signaled him to go in, or the stink -- and Tim wrinkles his nose.

"Yeah, I hear you. You're going to go over everything you've learned to do with your hands over the last few months with me while you're wearing those."

"Wouldn't it have been... I mean, why wasn't I training in them in the beginning?"

Jason smiles a little wider and traces a curving line along the black perfection of Tim's gauntleted forearm. "Word to the wise -- it only *sounds* like a good idea to jerk off with these on," he says, and raises his eyebrows --

Blush, right where it should be. Maybe right where it has to be. "I wasn't. Thinking that. Much," Tim says, and looks up from under his lashes.

Jason laughs. "Uh, huh. Just remember that you'll still *get* hard even if the skin is too chafed from the texturing on the gauntlets for you to be able to *do* anything about it."

"I. Is it terribly wrong that that just makes me think of some of the more... ah. *Extreme* websites I've visited?"

Jason *snorts* and gives Tim a shove. "I'll just fucking bet, you little pervert. Go on, get on the pommel horse for me."

*Quick* smile, bright and small and nothing but real -- and Tim's jogging to do it, moving for him, if not in the way he'd done yesterday, or the week before, or -- that first time in the bathroom.

A couple of other times.

Sometimes Tim just *does* get a little too hard for Jason to deal with, even though the only thing Tim does at those times is look at Jason a little longer, or maybe he means *deeper*. He keeps *working* right up until Jason calls time, and then he waits for *orders* --

And Jason thinks, maybe, that it's a problem that the orders he gives are all about getting Tim up to the loft, getting his pants down and getting a little slick on his hand before wrapping it around Tim where the kid needs it, where Jason -- needs it to be.

Yesterday, Tim had finally clutched at Jason a little once he started pumping into Jason's fist, had looked up into Jason's eyes with all the need and hunger anyone could *want*. His lips were parted, and it had been fucking *impossible* not to imagine sliding his dick between them, or maybe just painting his lips a little with pre-come --

Or maybe kissing him, *feeling* him and, yeah, giving *that* to him, too.

Taking it for himself, because it's hard to look at Tim and not see something he'd created, hard to look --

Right now, those are moves Tim wouldn't *know* if Jason hadn't taught him, and taught him how to smooth *out*. He's wearing the gi Jason had had tailored for him, and -- fuck, even his *breathing* is something Jason had given him, since the sensei at his dojo just hadn't done a complete enough job.

Tim is *his*, if not entirely his creation, and that --

Is this something like what Bruce had felt? Is this how it *worked*? No, it can't be, because --

("From the very first moment, Jay. The sound of your voice, the scent of your fear --")

It's not, but it's -- something. Maybe like what Bruce had had with Dick, where every day turned him a little more from a half-wild circus boy --

("The trick is to grow *out* of the urges, little wing --")

Into the man he's become, the very *different* sort of weapon, made more out of grace than viciousness, and -- what had it been like to decide to let go of his parents' sense of right and wrong and cleave to Bruce's, instead? Hell, maybe he should be asking Bruce for *advice* --

Hey, Bruce, I've got this kid who would make a damned good assassin -- when he's not just being one of the most effective operatives this city has ever seen, anyway -- but he's still just a little too *attached* to you, to all the *ideas* of you he's built over the years -- no, you *can't* have him, yet, he's *mine*.

Jason laughs to himself -- quietly enough to keep Tim from hearing him. Bruce probably *won't* be all over Tim the way he was all over him. Bruce doesn't *handle* grief all that well, after all, and right about now...

Well, maybe he's telling himself all sorts of things about how he'll never take another partner again, never *risk* --

("I was *lost* --")

It will *be* hard, but he'll have to test Tim, have to *try* him. Tim knows too much for it to be otherwise, and there's no way he's grieving so much that his paranoia is offline.

He'll learn everything there is to know about Tim Drake -- perhaps while Tim, himself, is gagged and tied to a chair -- and *then* there'll be tests. How far, how heavy, how *much*. And he won't be able to keep himself from seeing all the things Tim would be able to *do* on the street, and then --

And then.

Of course, it's possible -- probable -- that Jason will have to make his own appearance. The things he's taught Tim include a great *deal* of things Bruce had never taught *him*. Tim's story will thus be difficult to credit on a number of levels... he doesn't know. He isn't *sure*. But the idea of Bruce checking Jason's *work* --

There's something to it. Something hot and almost strangling, something tight and sharp at once. Look what *I* can do, Bruce. Aren't you proud of your *son*?

Yeah, *that*, and that's enough to make Jason want to claw out his own brain and use his skull for a begging bowl, but there's also the other part of this. The --

You made this *okay*, Bruce. You showed me how it could work, how it could feel so good and right to *be* the boy under your hands, pressed to your bed, bent over your fucking *car*.

You made me *pity* Dick and Roy for not having this, put hot little fantasies in my head about Donna and fucking Wonder Woman -- okay, I would've had those *anyway* --

No. It's no one's fault but his own that he wants Tim to get *that* hard for him again, that his palm fucking aches --

That sometimes now, when the light gets indigo just before dawn hits, he's thinking about other orders he can give. About making Tim strip down so he can see all the *progress*, so he can drag the knife along the lines of muscle and bone until he sees red. Just welts, because he doesn't have to teach Tim about blood, anymore --

(The way he looks at the fresh scar on Jason's arm.)

He can rub the kid down, teach him more about how to relax, how to give *in*, because the alternative is waking up too sore to do anything, some days --

(The way his hard little hands *feel* when he clutches, when he shows that much want --)

He can *touch*, and show Tim that maybe he *doesn't* want everything he's been thinking about. He can push and shove and fucking *breach* --

("Oh, Jason, *Jason*, it's good, it's -- *ah* --")

And --

*Is* this what wanting someone who isn't anywhere in Bruce's huge, fucked up sphere of influence feels like? Bruce had obliterated *everything* when they were together, turning him into someone who looked at pretty girls and wondered what their *personalities* were like, *fucking* him into someone who just kind of fucking *missed* the sexual aspects of the people around him until he just got more and more addicted to what Bruce could give.

And how many times had he slipped into Talia and told himself he was feeling what Bruce couldn't?

How many times had he done everything *short* of fucking her with Bruce's dick, touching her and squeezing her and *tonguing* her in every way Bruce had taught him, shown him, taken...?

Here, if nothing else, he has something new -- except, of course, for the breadth and *scope* of the desire. *Here*, there's something just for him, because Tim had never gotten a chance to smile at Dick or *perform* for Bruce --


It won't be long now, something dark and a little cold whispers in the back of Jason's mind, and maybe -- *maybe* -- it's talking about the order already in to the Tailor, and how he just has to give the man the word for the suit to be ready a *week* from that day.

And maybe it's not.


He spends his short patrol renewing contacts and getting the word on what's going down with which gang *where* -- the way he does once a week, without fail, no matter *how* much it hurts not to be breaking the heads of the deserving. 

It's something Tim needs to see, anyway, especially the part where he cultivates new contacts via threats, bribes, and the -- judicious -- application of a little pain. *Just* a little. If the weasels feel too much pain, they tend to get resentful -- and start carrying tales to *other* people.

He lets Tim question a guy about heroin movement, and feels something -- something *else*, *again* -- move in him when Tim starts asking about guns without so much as a signal from him.

So good.

So *close* to being ready, and it's fucking hard not to let Tim wear his gauntlets on their little outings, not to make the call to the Tailor right fucking *now* --

But the slim, simple, and perfectly fitted assassin gloves are good enough for now, especially since Tim, at this point, wears them like the oh-so-deniable second skin they're supposed to be.

And when their target telegraphs a lie by scratching at his ear, Tim pulls his knife and presses the tip just beneath the man's left eye --

"Hey, you don't -- you're *Robin* --"

"Not yet. But you don't want to lie to me," Tim says, flat and about as menacing as a voice like his can get. Heh.

Jason crosses his arms and lets himself lean against the alley wall --

"Hey, Nightwing, come put a *leash* on this fucking kid -- *ah* --"

Quick little cut beneath the eye, not too deep. Just enough to make a point. "You guessed wrong," Jason says. "He doesn't like that."

And -- yes, Tim really is easing the tip of the knife into the cut and working the sides of it apart, which *may* be a little too much pain --

"Fuck, Jesus, okay, okay! I'll tell you! It's just that he threatened my kids, and you know I love my kids --"

"Talk," Tim says, and he does. Just the way he should.

When they're done, and they've let the weasel of the moment scurry on home, Tim pulls an antiseptic wipe from Jason's belt pouch without a word or hesitation and thoroughly cleans the knife before tucking it away, just the way he always does -- and then he pauses.

"What's up?"

"I worry about the sheath breeding infection," Tim says, and raises an eyebrow behind the mask.

Jason smiles at the way it pulls Tim's features out of true and stands straight again. "I flush them once a week with alcohol. It's hell on the things, but -- there are always more when they wear out."

Tim nods and moves into something like an attention-stance --

"Bike," Jason says, and soon it'll be time to teach Tim how to drive, but he's going to want the kid's parents on vacation for that, to have the *time* to take the kid out into Jersey's vanishingly small countryside...

They'll go soon. They're *due* for it --


Not yet. Not --

Jason takes them around to his other -- older and tamer -- contacts, and he can feel Tim itching for something to do, something to fill the hole in him Jason had helped to *shape* -- if not create. Hell, *he's* itching, and there's always *something* to be done in Gotham -- it's the greatest city in the world for people who make the kind of lifestyle choices they do -- but he'd set the rules down for himself when he got here, and he'd been right the first time.

He takes Tim home, instead, and always now there's a sense that *this* time the lights will be on in Tim's room because his parents had come in to check on their only child and found out that he was running around God only knew where. He's even come up with the stories Tim can tell -- though he's sure right down to his bones that Tim's got better ones all saved up in his twisted little brain.

But the lights aren't on, and there's nothing to do tonight but watch Tim move over the rooftops on his own, watch him swing right into his window --

Or follow, because that's what he's doing, and he doesn't know why.

Tim doesn't, either -- that much is clear by the tension in his neck and shoulders, by the way his movements aren't as smooth as they could be when he peels off the domino and removes the sheath and gloves before stashing them away in the compartment he'd built himself beneath his desk.


What is he doing here?

"I -- did I make a mistake? I -- should've hurt Cramer more?"

Jason shakes his head, and -- what is he *doing* here?

"Ah... less?" And Tim can't keep the incredulousness out of his voice, at all, which is really damned *endearing* --

"Show me the twelfth kata," he says, because it's the one that comes out the least when Tim's sparring with him, and Jason's not sure why. It's neither particularly brutal nor difficult -- given the skills Tim *has* at this point --

And Tim is moving easily, smoothly, perfectly despite the ass-kicking boots and the body armor he has on under his loose sweats. He looks --

He looks like the weapon he was always born to be, like a boy who'd never had Bruce take it easy on him with the training --

Why *hadn't* Bruce taught Tim more of the good things, the *dangerous* things he knew? Is it because he was afraid Tim would be *too* good at them? He hadn't taught them to Dick, Jason knows, because he thought they wouldn't be any use on the street. He hadn't taught them to Jason because Jason hadn't had the *control* to use them the way Bruce *thinks* they ought to be used.

But Tim?

He doesn't know and maybe he never will, because it's been a month and a half since an anomaly had popped off, and *that* one had showed a fucking *forest* where Gotham was supposed to be --

And Tim's still moving, and his room is more than big enough that Jason can move around him, take him in in three dimensions, really fucking *study* the body he can only see in hints and glimpses right now, but which he knows has become as tight and darkly sweet as whipcord, has become *right*, at last, even though his shoulders won't even start broadening for another year, maybe --

Maybe --

"Stop," Jason says, and his hands are on Tim's shoulders, his body is closer than it needs to be to Tim's own --

And Tim is searching Jason's *mask*, because that's all he can see right now, that's all he can *know* --

"Why don't you use these moves more often?"

"They're too -- I. They're tempting. Because they're easy. And they make me think that I could just *not* use the other ones. Should I...?"

"Everything, Tim. You use -- you use everything," Jason says, and he's massaging the tension out of Tim's shoulders, making him feel --

Could it maybe be something like a poison slipping from Jason's fingertips down into Tim's skin? Something to make this shared, as fucked up as it ever gets, fucking *intimate* --

"Oh. That feels very -- um. I didn't realize how tense I was."

"You should probably just assume you're *always* tense, kid," and Jason's voice is too low to his own ears, too heavy -- "'cause you always *are*."

Tim laughs quietly. "I -- suppose you have a point. Do you want me to -- should I lie down?"

Yes. "Strip off, first," and it takes a little too *much*, but Jason can let go, back *off* --

And it's the sight he's seen countless times, but he's not surprised that it feels like more right now, that it's *getting* to him --

A break, something like a *reprieve* when the body armor comes off and Jason can take it from Tim's hands, tuck it away in the little compartment --

And turn in time to see Tim sitting down on the bed to unlace his boots. The Tim in that universe had worn tabi -- until he hadn't, for reasons Jason wasn't privy to. *Probably* a breakthrough in flexibility and speed that allowed him to switch to the heavier ones, but Bruce might appreciate seeing Tim in tabi, more. They'd undoubtedly been his choice...

He'll get Tim both.

The socks come off, and then he stands again, ditching his jeans and leaving his briefs. He has no reason to tell Tim to switch to boxer-briefs. He has no reason --

"Everything, Tim."

And Tim doesn't even look *up* before skinning the briefs off, revealing his quarter-hard dick, revealing that it's rising the way it always does for Jason, sooner or later --

"On your belly."

"All right," and Tim does it, tense again, but easing under Jason's hands just like the touch is a command in itself -- it is. He's two-thirds of the way down Tim's back when he sighs, turning his head to the other side. His eyes are closed, lashes dark on his cheeks, body loosening, becoming more pliant --

It won't stay that way, and it won't really go back to this even after he makes Tim come -- he *knows* that now, and so he has to. To enjoy this while he has it, to enjoy *Tim*, who is no one's boy but his own, no one's *Robin* but his own, and the fact that he hadn't thought he'd needed one --

No one ever, ever, ever so much as gave him a damned cookie to think, and there are *reasons* why. And -- maybe it's better to be smiling for this, to be laughing a little as he moves to Tim's glutes --

His tight little ass. Hardly any curve to it, at all, nothing to catch the eye or put a fire under the imagination. Tight.

Move on.

Tim's thighs are better. Lean like a runner's, long for the inches he *will* get eventually, and then just a little longer for the fact that he's built that way. And the calves are perfect for Tim's size and build, hard and defined, honestly attractive...

"Bruce... is gonna put you in so *many* dresses," Jason says, and waits for --

A cough, not a choke. Oh, well. Jason moves back up to Tim's shoulders --

"Um. Why? I mean... undercover work?"

"Uh, huh. I also think he gets off on it a little."

*That* gets him a choke, and Jason rewards Tim for it with a hard stroke down the slight dip of his spine.

"You never think about Bruce's kinks?"

"He's -- he's Batman. I mean... kink? Really?"

Jason lets the question sit there for a little while. It's not that he's thinking about how to answer -- at this point, he knows exactly what wants to come out of his mouth -- but. Tim's shoulders. His *neck*, and Jason wants to carve a little something on the back of it, some symbol or *something* to make Tim wear his mark for life.

He'll lick the blood away and smear ash in it to make sure it's a *good* scar --

Except that just about anyone would be able to see it, considering how short Tim's going to *have* to keep his hair for the rest of his life, and -- no. No.

Jason kneels up. "Turn over."

"Ah -- I --"

"I already know you're hard, Tim," Jason says, and taps the back of Tim's neck with two fingers. "It's all right."

"O-okay." Tim turns, almost laughably careful to keep his dick from brushing against Jason's thigh.

Jason strokes Tim's chest with his palms, feeling the thin layer of muscle over Tim's ribs, the slightly heavier pecs --

Tim's eyes are wide open and -- confused.

"He's the Bat*man*, not the Bat, Tim. Men? Have kinks."

Tim nods. "I just -- I never. Thought about that."

"There's a disguise closet in the Cave. When I first started training, it was still full of Dick's things -- and there were way more dresses than there should've been," Jason says, and reaches up to massage Tim's long -- graceful, he can admit -- throat.

"Nn -- ah. I... see."

Jason lets his smile get a little harder. "Yeah, I think you do."

Tim nods and bites his lip. Against questions he's afraid to ask? Maybe. A *part* of Jason wants to order him *to* ask, just to see what would come out of that reddening little mouth -- if not, necessarily, to make things any clearer for the kid -- but he hasn't exactly been nice or easy about that part of his life with Tim, and he doesn't want more tension.

Not right now. "Twice he put me in dresses. I looked like a dyke. A *mean* dyke, because there was nothing that would get the scowl off my face."

Tim -- blushes. "I -- oh."

"He made me shave. When I wouldn't do it? He had Alfred dose me with a sedative and shaved me himself. Not with a straight razor -- I might've tolerated that a little better, heh -- but with one of those girly little razors that bend in the middle. No nicks, scratches, or missed spots. It made my legs look huge and ridiculous, and made my armpits feel *naked*. You ever feel naked in your armpits, kid?"

"I -- can't say that I. Have. Um --"

"I *don't* recommend it," Jason says, and moves to Tim's chest. "The first time he did it was before we were fucking, but I could see it in his eyes. That *want*, and the way it flared when I bent over in that dress -- too much for him to bank it again before I was up and looking at him."

"You. You knew he wanted you, but you... didn't?"

"I was *pissed*, kid -- and I was scared shitless, too. Twenty years older than me. Bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, *better*. In *every* way. He could do anything he wanted with me, and all I'd be able to do if I didn't like it -- is take it," and he lets his thumbs find Tim's nipples the way they want to, the way it feels like they *have* to --

"Oh. Oh. Jason...?"

"Watching him in the shower -- communal, by the way, so start getting used to that thought now -- and seeing that huge fucking dick of his..." Jason shakes his head and *pinches* --

Tim arches --

And drops when Jason eases the pressure. "I'd never taken anyone that big. I'd only been fucked up the ass six times when Bruce pulled me off the street. It would've been more than that, but I used to run from the men who wanted that from me -- whether or not I got the money first."

Tim is -- fucking *crimson*.

"Yeah. I used to hustle. Didn't think about that, did you? What a kid has to do for himself on the street?"

"I -- no. I didn't know. I -- I don't know what to say."

Jason smiles. "Then don't say anything. Don't worry -- you don't have to think about it too much. I *won't* be testing you on it."

Tim swallows and nods. "But. You were... you thought it would. That he would *hurt* you?"

"He's just a man, Tim. Even with everything else he is, even with all the things he does for Gotham and the rest of the world, and even with how *good* he is. Men have -- needs," and Jason pinches Tim's nipples again --

"Oh -- God. Jason, I -- please --"

"Please what? Touch you more? Don't hurt you? Or *should* I hurt you?"

Tim's eyes are wild for him -- *just* that fast. "Anything you want, anything -- I'll do anything --"

"Yeah. I know you will. And maybe one day you'll do *everything* for me --"

"*Yes* --"

"But not tonight," Jason says, and it hurts to put a limit on this, even one as small as that. It makes the itch rise in his skin, intensify until it's almost a *burn*, and yeah, Jason can feel the prickle of fresh sweat. "I want you."

"Oh -- you can. Oh, Jason, *please* --"

"And when you beg? I want to fuck you, hard and fast until I'm coming right up your little ass, filling you up and making you slick enough that I can do it *again*," and Tim's nipples are so small even though they're hard, almost hard to hold *on* to --

But that doesn't stop him from pinching, from rolling them between his thumbs and forefingers and noting that Tim *hadn't* begged again, that his eyes are wide and -- yeah, there's fear there.

And there's nothing he can do but own the fact that he'd needed it to be there, that it makes this --

Can anything make this right? Jason shakes his head and smiles again, knowing it looks hard, old --

("Little one, your smiles make me want to press my throat against your lips -- but only if we're near to a Pit.")

Little one. And what would she call Tim? Anything? Nothing until she saw him *move* --

"I'd tell you that you didn't *have* to be scared... but we both know that's not true," Jason says, and moves his hands to Tim's throat, pressing his thumbs in just a little. "Don't we?"

"I'm. I think I'm... confused?"

Which... it makes sense. "Then I'll break it down for you. We're going to have sex -- right here in your bed. It's going to be fucked up. And we're both going to like it, anyway."

"Oh. I... Jason. Could we... will you let me suck you?"

Jason... licks his lips. "Yeah. Yeah, I think I will," and Jason squeezes, watching Tim's eyes go wide, *freaked* --

And watching -- *feeling* -- Tim relax, all over.

"You trust me that much?"

Tim nods --

"No, go ahead and tell me. I'm not squeezing hard enough to kill your ability to talk --"

And Tim's dick twitches hard. He's leaking steadily, slick and hard enough that he's reaching for his own abdomen -- "I. I have to. Trust you. There aren't any other --" Tim bites his lip and shakes his head.

"No other options? Yeah, okay, I can see that," Jason says, easing his grip and moving his hands until he's stroking Tim's face, his fucking *downy* cheeks, his bitten lip and his upper lip, too, taking a moment to try to feel the difference in texture, try to *know* it -- "I've been there. And maybe we all have to go there, sooner or later."

"All -- um. Vigilantes?"

"All of us who start out this young, anyway. Open your mouth for me."

Tim nods and does it, closing his eyes -- opening them again when Jason pushes two fingers in, but he doesn't open them all the way. His eyes are heavy-lidded now, *hot*, and the fear seems to be entirely gone.

This is familiar *enough* for Tim, close enough to what he's entirely sure that he wants, and it makes Jason fucking *hunger* to choke Tim with his dick, to slide it in *deep* just to see Tim --

Change his mind? Plead with those big eyes?

He's not sure, but he knows if he doesn't start this *soon* that he's not going to have *any* control to speak of, and that -- that would be a bad thing. It *would*.

He fucks Tim's mouth a *little* and then pulls out -- and has to bite back a groan for the way Tim tries to *follow* Jason's fingers. He cups Tim's face with his other hand and *pushes* it back down --

"Oh -- sorry --"

"I'll tell you when you should be sorry. Eagerness is *good* for this, kid. It -- heh. Keeps me on the right track," Jason says, and circles Tim's nipples with his wet fingers --

"Jason -- Jason, I won't. I don't think I'll last. Long."

"No, you won't. But that's okay -- you'll go *again*," Jason says, moving off the bed --

Tim whimpers and *reaches* --

"Easy now. It's all right," and he has a decision to make. Either he does this with his pants and underwear and jock down around his thighs, or he makes like he's going to stay a while. Neither option feels like the best possible way to do things with the kid's parents right down the fucking hall, but --

But they're not coming anywhere near here. Hell, if they heard a sound, they'd probably put in earplugs and call themselves giving their kid privacy the way modern parents should -- no, he's not thinking about them. They'd given him the perfect kid, the perfect *canvas* to paint on, and for that he owes them... no kid at all.

No *Tim* for them to ignore, for them to forget about as they traipse all over the damned world --

Haiti --

Not today.

He's naked from the waist down when he crawls back onto the bed, hard enough that he has to stroke himself a little once he sits back on his heels. Tim looks like he's pretending that he's *tied* to the bed -- and that's certainly an *idea*, what with those bedposts right there --

"C'mere," Jason says, and holds on to the base of his dick while Tim bends his legs back and rolls gracefully, perfectly up onto his knees.

His eyes are wide again, and his dick is as hard as he's ever seen it, as ready --

He *wants* this, and somehow that's enough -- when added to everything Jason wants. "You're just going to take the head in right now, Tim. We'll go from there."

Tim nods and bends down, comes closer, leans in --

And makes a soft, pleased sound once his lips are wrapped around the head --

And *sucks*, hard and fucking *good* --

Jason can't hold in a gasp, but he *can* swallow back the groan. No reason to be too loud --

Or every *possible* reason to be too loud, because Tim's sucking in hard little pulses, making a noise for each one, and that tongue. That --

"Easy. Easy --"

Questioning noise, and Tim looks up without *stopping*, and that --

Jason laughs and lets his breathing do what it wants for just a little while, just long enough for him to get a hand on the back of Tim's head, to cup and pet a little --

Tim shivers and sucks *harder* --

"No, not -- not that --"

Another questioning noise, and Tim has *stopped* sucking... but he's clearly not even *thinking* about pulling off.

"Fuck, you're -- heh. Hungry. Take more."

Nod and *down* -- gag and a *shocked* noise.

"Yeah, it's *not* easy. But you'll get it," Jason says, and strokes Tim's hair, the unmarked back of his neck, his shoulders -- Fuck it, he thinks, and pulls the knife he keeps at his back, flashing it past the edge of Tim's field of vision --

No sound at all. No doubt, no -- oh, but there's fear in those eyes and plenty of it. It's just that it's fear of *failure*, and, as ever, he can work with that.

"Don't worry so much, kid," and he gives Tim a little gesture with his chin. "I won't cut you if you fuck up. I'll just cut you if I *want* to." And -- Tim's lines are so *sharp*, almost more like some kind of futuristic vehicle than a boy, and yeah, Jason wants to ride.

It's just that he also wants *this* -- tracing Tim's neck and shoulders with the point of the blade while he tries to work out scientifically how to take more of Jason's dick --

And with the flat as he tries --

Again --

*Again*  --

Jason sighs and traces a spiral on the back of Tim's neck with the point as Tim pants through his nose and tries to get control of himself. "You shouldn't worry that you don't feel good, kid. Hot and wet, tight and *struggling*. That's a lesson about this you might not have picked up in -- heh -- all of your *reading*."


"Oh, yeah, do that again, pressing hard with those lips of yours --" Jason grunts and rocks his dick back and forth, not getting much depth but getting a *lot* from Tim's low, *heartfelt* groan. "I know you want me to fuck your mouth, that you want to be *able* to have me fuck your mouth without gagging or coughing, but -- that lesson..."

Tim nods and starts sucking in pulses again, being just as good as he *can* be as he waits --

"Good, good -- boy. Mm. It *feels* good when you fail, kid. A nice little uh... mm. Call it a *flutter* when you cough, a fleshy little *push* when you gag --"

*Down* again, and this time Tim stays right there, gagging and turning *red* --

"I *won't* like it if you puke on my dick, though," and Jason pulls Tim up again, just far enough that he can keep panting and mouthing the head. "You just gotta swallow me," and Jason drags the flat of the knife up and down Tim's spine, down and *up* with the point --

"Hm -- mm?" *And* a lick for Jason's slit, a little bit of stabbing --

"Oh, that's -- yeah, you *have* been thinking about this a little, but not enough. *Open* your throat for me. Like -- taking a breath without actually getting any air, or... pretend you've got a quantity of liquid you want to get down your throat in the shortest possible length of time.... since I know you've never actually chugged a beer."

Tim nods and takes a deep breath, another one --

"That's right, *get* ready. Because once I'm in you? I'm not pulling out for a good long while --"

Tim's *hips* jerk and the noise he makes is something between a grunt and a *shout* -- but since it's muffled by Jason's dick, he can live with it. He *grips* Tim's hair just to see --

Another jerk of the hips and Tim's going down, slowly this time, and the feel of his lips on Jason's shaft --

The drag of his sharp little *tongue* --

And the feel of him swallowing, over and over. *Working* the head of Jason's dick and making Jason *need* to rock his hips, *push* against that resistance while Tim shakes and --

God, Jason thinks he can *taste* that fear, thinks he can hear the sound of that freaky little brain working overtime --

What if he can't do it? What if he stops? Yeah --

"I won't stop. Though I *will* get impatient," Jason says, and digs in enough with the point of the knife to get a *scratch* for Tim's spine -- while Tim holds *still* for it with everything but his pumping hips. And that -- "Is it the scratch? Or the fact that I *want* to mark you?"

And Tim looks up at him for the first time -- it feels like it's been much too long, and knowing Tim's naked doesn't do a thing for the *weight* of those eyes, filled with all the heat in the damned world, all the fear and the *need* --

Bruce --

Jason hears himself grunt, but it's nothing compared to the fact that he's rocking his hips again, fucking that sweet little mouth, good little mouth, *working* little mouth --

Tim groans and catches Jason's rhythm *immediately*, and tries to take Jason deeper again, swallowing as he goes, and it won't be long.

It --

Jason *knows* it won't be long, because eventually he's just going to grab Tim's fucking *ears* and shove in --

No, it won't be long. Tim's going to *get* this, the way he gets everything else, and Jason will be his first for -- everything. The *one*, even if Tim would've preferred it to be Bruce or Dick --

They can't *handle* this kid. He's too raw for them, too sharp and needy, too dangerous in all the wrong ways. Bruce must've *blunted* Tim in Jason's universe somehow, must've shaved off all but the most deniable and *immediately* useful sharp edges --

Fucking *A*, that *mouth* --

"Want you, kid. Want to fuck you, take you -- make you come all over yourself --"

*High* noise -- but Tim manages to keep himself from lunging for it, taking more in millimeter by fucking *millimeter* until the pressure is impossible, perfect --

He knows what will be *better* -- "C'mon, now. Open *up* --"

And it feels like fucking vacuum, and his body knows what that means before it sinks all the way into his brain, knows --

*In*, and it feels like Tim should be screaming for him, should be fighting and *begging* --

But Tim's eyes are wide and *full*, wondering --

Jason smiles and *knows* it comes out fucked beyond all *recognition* --

Tim closes his eyes and *sucks*, *carefully* resting his sweaty palms against Jason's thighs, and somehow, maybe --

Even *Bruce* would get sweaty palms for this sometimes, but it still makes Tim *feel* young, younger than he looks, younger than he *is*. God, just a fucking *kid*, and Jason's making him take this, making him fucking *hold* Jason's dick in his throat while air gets to be more and more of a *necessity* --

Had a part of him been training Tim to hold his breath *just* for this, as opposed to for all those times when he'd have to be in the damned Gotham sewers, or, fuck, in the *river*?

A *kid*, a *boy* --

His boy, and no one else's. No one's -- "They don't *want* you this way, Tim --"

A shudder, and dragging the edge of the knife over Tim's shoulder like he's shaving the kid can't be anything like soothing, but he does it, anyway, and then moves to the other shoulder, his back --

"Maybe -- nnh. Maybe they never, ever will --"

God, that *nod*. Such a small movement and so much *in* it, and yeah, Jason's feeling it in his spine, his balls --

He cups the back of Tim's head with his free hand and squeezes. "But I do, kid. I want you *just* like this -- and a lot of other ways, too. You're -- always gonna have this, long after I'm gone --"

*Clutch* for his thighs -- released *almost* immediately --

"*No* -- go ahead. Hold *on* to what you want, touch me --"

Low groan that doesn't go anywhere, muffled fucking *obscenely*, and Tim is shaking all over, stroking Jason's thighs hesitantly and yeah, pumping his hips at nothing --

"Gonna come for me?"

Nod and Tim strokes up to the creases between Jason's thighs and his abdomen, strokes up *over* Jason's abdomen -- and down to Jason's balls --

"*Fuck*, yeah, stroke me, squeeze me --"

Another groan -- and Tim goes rigid, still everywhere save for his *pumping* hips --

Yeah. "*Come* --"

And the sound is still muffled, but Jason thinks that it *wanted* to be a scream, wanted to be high and desperate and perfect as those slim little hips work and *work* --

And Tim's body slumps, his hands spasming on Jason as he swallows more, tries to give this *back* --

He will.

Jason takes a handful of Tim's hair and tugs until he's only *just* in Tim's throat before hauling Tim back down, *on* him, and it's just as good as it should be, just as perfect --

Sweet --

*Again*, then, and again, and Tim is loose and *obedient* if not pliant, not begging for air, yet, not doing anything but stroking and letting himself be *moved* until Jason stops. "Now -- now you. *Fuck* yourself."

And Tim does it fast, does it --

God, *pressure*, tightness, and that tongue working against the underside of his dick, those lips kissing Jason's mound until he just wants to hold Tim still again, make him take it just a little faster than he's already going. Not because this isn't fantastic, but just *because* --

Spasm, and that has to be for the lack of air. He has to let Tim take a breath, but he doesn't *want* to --

"God, the ways I can *use* you --"

Muffled *grunt* and Jason wants more, wants to *take* more, longer strokes, something --

He yanks Tim's hair and Tim *stops*, trembling, spasming *again* --

He pulls out of Tim's throat and listens to the gasps, feels the panting against his dick -- and a careful little squeeze for his balls.

"Yeah, keep that up, keep --" The moan comes out of him before he's ready for it, but he'd had to get *used* to the feel of Talia's hands on him after Bruce -- and now he has to get used to the feel of Tim's. Calluses he'd put there, strength he'd *forced* into the kid -- "Take me again. *Do* it --"

*Down*, and Tim's shaking all over, probably shocked that he could manage it --

"Good. So *fucking* good," and he shoves in that last little bit, that last perfect fraction of an inch and holds himself there -- "Suck me. Hard as you can," he says, and turns the knife again, giving Tim another scratch parallel to the first and getting another deep little groan --

Another *shake* --

"You'll feel those tomorrow under your -- hn. Under your shirt. You'll *know* --"

A nod, fervent and *sharp*, somehow, fucking --

Fucking *deadly*, and how is Jason ever supposed to have anything like a normal relationship when it's so good fucking weapons, crazy people, dangerous people you never want to turn your *back* on --

And fucking Tim's face is gonna kill him before it makes him come, because Tim *isn't* ready for the long strokes, Tim will choke and his throat will fucking *reject* Jason's dick, and he can't *take* that right now, can't --

He *doesn't* want to hurt Tim, not this way. It's too small, too fucking *petty* when he could be up the kid's ass and making him move, moving the *bed* --

Jesus, he *needs* more, and he knows he's fucking Tim harder, knows that this *does* have to hurt, or at least be a little uncomfortable --

But Tim's thrusting against the bed again. He's *hard* enough again to do that, need that --

"Don't fucking come again, yet. Hold *still* --"

Rigid, *tense* -- perfect. And squeezing Jason's sac in rhythm with Jason's thrusts, with his own *sucks*, and maybe this could be --

No, it's not enough. Not --

He promises himself, deep down and dead fucking serious, to teach Tim how to *really* suck dick sometime when he's not already this hard. For now --

He pulls Tim off and shoves until he's on his back, legs bent beneath him *right* up until Jason yanks them out straight -- and Tim further down the bed --

"Oh --"

"The first time Bruce had to yank me into place -- I was trying to get away. He was... doing something I didn't want him to do."

"I -- hurting. You?"

Jason smiles. "*That* would've been a lot easier to take. Maybe I'll show you what he did, sometime -- no, I definitely will. Who knows? Maybe you'll like it."

"But." The frown on Tim's face --

He's not gonna laugh. Just -- no matter how much -- "He's *just* a man, kid --"

"But he *loved* you. He -- I saw the way he looked at you, at -- at the parties --"

"The parties. Heh. You know how many times we slipped out of one of those to fuck in a bathroom? A cloakroom? A *janitor's* closet?"

"Um. I only know about. Four. When you came back, you were very flushed, and I -- he *loved* you --"

"Sometimes love *hurts*, Tim," And Jason crawls up over Tim, leans in and *licks* Tim's swollen mouth -- "You taste like my dick. I like that."

"So do *I* --"

Jason laughs and licks him again, again -- and Tim shakes for him again, opens his mouth --

Jason shoves *in* with his tongue, and maybe it *shouldn't* feel this good, but it *does*. Like -- he doesn't know, but there's warmth to it *under* the heat he feels when Tim moans, need --

And the kiss is a lot harder than he wants it to be --

He doesn't know *what* he wants it to be --

But then Tim's hands are on his shoulders, *shaking* on his shoulders, touching and moving back over and over again like a kid who just doesn't *believe* the burner is as hot as it is --

Jason makes the kiss deeper and *covers* Tim a little bit, fucking against those long, lean thighs and feeling the kid shake like he's freezing to death, like he doesn't know what to *do* with himself --

Except that he's sucking Jason's tongue like maybe Jason will make him stop the way he'd made Tim stop sucking his *dick*. Hot little pulses and almost a moaning *murmur*, almost --

Jason pulls back with one last lick -- "What were you trying to say?"

"Ah. Sorry --"


Tim swallows. "That I wanted you, wanted to have you, touch you. I couldn't. I -- please? I want to make you come --"

"You will," Jason says, and crawls forward a little more, just far enough that he can shove his dick against Tim's own, paint that hard little abdomen with pre-come and cover Tim with shadows, the way he always should be. "I... what was I saying, before? Oh, yeah. Love hurts. And sometimes it hurts the *one* you love, sometimes it twists him up inside so bad that he can't see straight, can't think of anything but how to get more *and* how to get away --"

"You. You left him."

"Oh, yeah. Great idea, *terrible* execution," and Jason *grinds* against Tim's dick --

"*Ohn* --"

"He came right after me, though. Told me he'd never let me go, that he needed me, loved me... and it was all things I knew. Things I could *taste*. And then I got myself killed."

"*Jason* -- oh --"

"I was thinking about him when the lights went out, wondering what he'd do --"

"I -- *please*, you -- I can't -- I can't *concentrate* --"

Jason laughs and moves back to kiss Tim again. He's got a little of his control back -- *somehow*, heh -- and he can do it slow, do it nice and slow and hard until Tim's arms are around his neck and Tim's legs are around his waist, clinging *tight*. He can't get anything much for his dick this way -- not without shoving *in* -- but he can wait, make the kiss just a *little* unforgettable.

The way Bruce had done.

*Every* time.

And Tim is whimpering into his mouth, almost *sobbing* with it as he works his dick against Jason's abdomen and the *armor* -- fuck it. He peels Tim off --

"No -- oh -- *please*, Jason --"

"*Wait* for it, kid," and it only takes a minute to take off the jacket, the shirt, and the armor --

"Oh, you're so *beautiful* --"

"And *you* sound like Bruce -- if he was ever a skinny little kid, which... yeah, I suppose he was, once upon a time," and Jason takes another kiss, rolls them over until Tim's on top of him, sprawled over him, and now he can *feel* every one of the kid's desperate little thrusts, have them for *himself* --

And it's just about possible that he'd knock the kid's parents into *matching* comas if they came in right now, and fuck *everything* else but the chance to have *this*.

He's stroking Tim all over now, touching and squeezing, pinching his nipples and spreading his ass cheeks --

Tim pulls back from the kiss and pants, tucks his head in against Jason's neck and *pushes* his ass into Jason's hands --

"*Please* --"

"Please is *right*. You don't even have the right kind of *slick* here --"

"Under the mattress. Right side. Um." Tim pulls back and searches Jason's face, eyes wide and *determined*. "That -- I remembered the brand."

"And you went and *bought* yourself some?"

"It took -- they wouldn't sell it to me in the first two drug stores I tried -- which I found very disappointing, considering the fact that it would just encourage teenagers to use something like lotion or Vaseline --"

Jason fucking *chokes* on a laugh -- "Okay, okay. Yeah, I'll finger you a little --"

"Oh, *Jason*, I want -- please, I want you to. Fuck me."

"Not tonight and not *here* --" But. Jason licks his lips. "Next time your parents are gone, kid, maybe. You're gonna scream for me."

And his eyes get even *wider* -- but he nods. "We'll -- you'll do this. Again?"

Damn. Just -- he's not going to hug the kid. He's not fucking *Dick*, and even Dick would have to have a problem doing that when he was rock fucking hard *and* so was whoever he was doing --

All right, no, Dick *wouldn't* have a problem --

And focusing lets him know with all of himself that he's stroking Tim again. Just -- petting him, and getting a little lost in the raised welts on his back, the marks *he'd* left behind -- "Yeah. We'll do this again," he says, and he thinks his voice is too low, too serious --

"Thank. Thank you, Jason. I --"

He covers Tim's mouth, presses against the swelling -- he knows what Tim was about to say --

And Tim knows he knows it, because he closes his eyes and the flush on his face gets deeper and darker.

"Yeah. It's okay. It's --" If he's going to finger Tim, then he *needs* all the control he can get. "Scoot back and wrap a hand around me."

Tim nods and does it -- and licks his lips. And very, very slowly and carefully pushes his free hand between Jason's legs until he can get a grip on Jason's sac. Which --

"If you're jerking me off, I want your other hand on my sac. If you're *sucking* me off, I almost *certainly* want your hand on my sac."

Tim *bites* his lip. "Ah -- noted. I know I wasn't doing it correctly, but --"

"But *you* were having fun, because you're just wired that way -- or because I was making it that good for you --"

"The latter. I think. Um --"

"I don't need the compliments when I can *see* you losing it for me. When I can feel you," Jason says, and drags his fingertips between his pecs and down to his navel where he can scratch at the hair there, a little --

"Let me. I mean -- please let me?"

"No, go with the first one," and Jason grins a little while he pumps into Tim's hard little fist.

Wide eyes -- narrow eyes. "Let me suck you again, Jason. Let me -- fuck my face on your. Dick."

That... Jason shakes his head and laughs a little more. "So the dirty talk is gonna take a little practice, too. Were you seriously about to refer to it as my penis?"

"It's *accurate* --"

"It's *clinical*. Like a latex-covered hand on my balls instead of nice little sweaty one. Go on, say 'dick' again. You can pretend you're calling out oh, I don't know, someone's *name* --"

"*No*. No. I'm not. I'm not thinking about him, Jason. Only you --"

He cuts himself off for the knife Jason's retrieved -- he doesn't even remember deciding to put it *down* -- or maybe for the way he's weaving it back and forth. But Tim's only focused on Jason's eyes.

"I could... stop. Expressing feelings?"

Jason laughs *again*. "You could consider doing that, yeah. Or you could just get your mouth back on me."

"Oh -- *yes*," and Tim doesn't even bother scooting back any further -- just *uses* all that flexibility to bend in and *take*. *Almost* down to his fist.

Jason sighs on a moan. "Nothing -- nothing wrong with your technique, by the way. You've got the eagerness, the *passion* for a -- fucking job well *done* -- fuck, *suck* me --"

Hollow cheeks and just a *little* bit of up and down, like maybe he's not sure Jason wants it --

"Want *you*, kid and -- mm. Everything you can give me," Jason says, bucking up for the depth, the heat and *sweet* fucking suction, and the way that tongue is moving on him --

Yeah, Tim's still talking to him. Still *communicating*, and maybe it's more of those messy, messy feelings. All of those things that *help* make it wrong to do this with a kid, no matter how good he is, no matter how *hungry* --

And Jason gives in to it, lets himself feel both a little liquid and *centered* on his own dick --

And lets the knife slice a shallow little line that follows the tops of Tim's shoulder blades.

Moaning *whimper*, and another for the second line about a half-inch lower down, for the scars that *may* form for this, but --

It's a tough call. He just doesn't *know* what Tim's skin is like, yet. Still, there are just a few drops of blood welling up, gleaming black in the light from the street -- "So good. So..." Jason lets the knife hit the bed again and pushes both hands into Tim's hair. "You should tell me -- some other time -- how you like this. I'll probably do it whether or *not* you like it, but... nnh. You should still tell me."

And Tim's nodding for him, *drooling* for him, spit dripping on Jason's mound --

"Hum. Just --"

Just *that*, and the vibration makes him tilt his head back, makes him want a kiss, a bite, a *touch* that doesn't come, that *can't* come because Tim's mouth is *busy*. But he can pet his own throat if he wants --

No, he wants to keep his hands in Tim's hair, so fine and soft, so -- "Yeah -- just. Do it *rhythmically*, like your sucks -- *fuck*, yes --"

A hum for *every* suck, until it feels like he's blanking out every few seconds, losing just --

Fucking everything for this, this *feeling*, like maybe he'd just needed a few minutes of sanity -- or honesty, and it's *possible* that it's both of those things, but not fucking likely -- to be able to enjoy this without needing to fuck --

Except that *thinking* about it --

He's working Tim's head for him again, and it's too *fast*, but Tim doesn't stop sucking, humming, *or* squeezing, and every hum sounds like the words Jason's not letting him say, every squeeze feels like digging deeper --

Dirt under his nails and dirt in his mouth, worms --

*No* --

*Just* this, and the way it's just more proof that he's alive, that he can still change things, still make a fucking *difference* -- even if it's only to a boy who'd never, ever needed him in order to become a hero but has him *anyway* --

The right way, they can do this the *right* way --

Tim's losing his rhythm, losing -- whimpering around him and squeezing harder with both hands, stroking with the one on Jason's dick --

Jason groans and tries to fucking *impose* a rhythm on Tim, on *himself* --

Except that his body is telling him that it's too much to ask right now, too much --

"Fuck, *Tim* --" And that was too close to being too *loud*, and Tim's whimpering constantly now, somehow sucking harder --

Blank --

*Fuck*, too good, too much of what he *wants*, and the best he can say for himself --

He's not making his thrusts too deep, he's not and he *won't*, and his jaw aches from gritting his teeth --

Fucking *Bruce* --

And the shadows are deeper, the world is stranger, scarier --

*Mouth*, and his mind's not doing any better than --

Blank --

And he's coming when it all comes back, when he realizes that fucking fantastic feeling is Tim coughing, Tim *trying* --

He's curled up enough to *watch* his come spilling out of Tim's mouth as he spurts again --

*Again*, and it feels like everything's going, every dream and plan and hope --

And he has just enough of himself left to *yank* Tim off before he slumps back against the bed and pants around his own seriously cracked laughter. Oh, yeah, he'd *told* the kid it would be fucked up, but he'd forgotten to specify for *whom*.

Jason forces his fingers to untangle themselves from Tim's hair, and when he gets his hands to his face there are two thin little tufts, one for each hand. It just makes him laugh more, because... he's not done.

Not *yet*. "Come up here."

"Yes, I --" Tim coughs again and crawls close, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand --

God, he couldn't look more obvious without a few lipstick smears and a bowlegged walk. "On me. Wait -- get your slick."

Tim nods instead of trying to talk again, and his breathing is a mess, but he's *not* panting. Quite. And no, Jason's not gonna laugh again.

Tim pulls the bottle from its surprisingly half-assed hiding place -- no, every teenaged boy needs a little slick of *some* kind. Perhaps the kid's fucking maid just thinks he has better taste than others. Jason smiles and watches Tim move, graceful and just a *little* unsure as he straddles Jason's waist -- and offers the bottle.

Which just makes a lively and interesting part of Jason's mind present the image of Tim fingering himself *for* Jason -- hm. He takes the bottle and notes that it's been used... some. It's possible he'd just poured out too much the first couple of times, but -- "How often do you use this to fuck yourself?"

"Ah. Every night. It's. I find it motivating. In terms of my stretches."

*Motivating*, yet, and that lively part is making some serious noise right now, but -- "Ever think about putting on a little show for -- me?"

Tim's eyes narrow for that hesitation, but it's easy enough to fix that --

And Tim moans impressively for the feel of Jason's thumb on the head of his dick --

("You were a beautiful boy, little one, but now you're a man. Tell me -- what will you do? How will you choose?")

Jason shivers a little -- "Answer me."

"It's -- not um. Quite?"


"I think about you... telling me to do it. Telling me to do it harder, or faster. Telling me to take -- more," and Tim swallows, pushing a little against Jason's thumb -- and gasping when Jason takes it away.

"You get off on that, but do you *want* --"

"Not as much as I want your fingers. Your dick," Tim says, biting his lip on something that would almost certainly be an apology, and --

"That was good. You almost didn't hesitate, at all, and I -- appreciate that," and Jason smiles, bouncing Tim on him a little --

And watching Tim watch *him* as he shifts perfectly to keep his balance.

"I think I want to hear you laugh, kid."

Eyebrow raise -- and a lot of blinks.

Yeah. "You don't do that too often -- not and actually mean it. It doesn't seem to be something you grow into, either... but then, we never actually saw each other in... let's say *congenial* circumstances."

"I'd... picked up that the two of you weren't... close --"

Jason laughs *again* -- "Yeah, really not so much."

"I just... what did I do? I don't... you've always been..." Tim looks down. "I don't understand what would make me -- or the person I become -- be anything but. I've always wanted to *know* you, Jason."

"If not get fucked by me?"

"That -- that, *too*. I -- my. The pictures, I could see you, and you were so strong, so much bigger -- I watched you fight and I watched you *fly* --"

"Look at me," Jason says, and sits up on his elbows, closing his fist around the bottle to start it getting a little warmer --

And Tim looks desperate, confused... and hungry for answers Jason doesn't know how to give. Just -- how does he explain it to the kid? How does he explain it to *himself*?

He'd gone for over a year without asking himself all that many questions about it, letting the hate sit there and build and shift and push itself right through him. He'd scarred the kid and broken his fucking arm and beaten him unconscious. All because --


"There was never supposed to be anyone else. Bruce -- heh. He promised me that he wouldn't ever kick me out of his life the way he'd kicked out Dick --"

"He -- what?"

Oh, yeah. *That*. Jason shakes his head. "Dick didn't retire, kid, and he sure as fuck didn't *quit*. The way Bruce told it to me -- with a whole *lot* of shame -- when I asked was that after Dick quit school, he started spending more and more time with the Titans in New York -- and all over the fucking galaxy -- than he was spending with Bruce in Gotham. *That* fucked Bruce up big time, and they started fighting a lot. He was *afraid* that Dick would leave him for good, so, like the bright spark he sometimes *really* is, he fired Dick, instead. Throw in a little Superman acting like the big, freaky, *nosy* alien that he is, and... instant Nightwing." He's just a man, Jason doesn't say again --

And knows he doesn't have to -- if the horrified look in Tim's eyes and the fact that his dick is sinking a little is anything to go by.

"Near as I can tell, it must've gone down pretty much exactly the same way here --"

"Or Nightwing -- Dick would be here. With Bruce."

Jason nods. "Anyway... he told me he wouldn't replace me. That I was his partner now and forever, that he loved me and would do anything *for* me. And then I died, and he put me in the ground, and when I got jumpstarted -- by some seriously universe-bending shit featuring a young Clark from another universe -- hunh. Yeah, Superman? Clark Kent. Investigative reporter and kind of a creep."

That gets that frown line in Tim's forehead a little deeper. "I -- what? I mean... he's Bruce's friend --"

"Bruce's *best* friend, despite or maybe because of the fact that he's been fucking Dick since he was a little older than you are -- and made a pretty serious attempt to get in my pants even though he knew perfectly well that I was with Bruce. I -- Tim. The Justice League? Is full of fuckups. They aren't all kidfuckers, but they all have *serious problems*. That's just the way it works when you're *also* the kind of person who puts on colorful tights and goes around beating the shit out of strangers."

"*You* --"

"*I*? Am fucked in the head. I used to try to deny it, try to tell myself that I was better than at least *some* of them -- but I'm not. If I didn't know that *before* I fucked your pretty little mouth, I know it now. And *you* need to know it. None of these people -- none of *us* are worthy of your awe, and every last one of us needs to *earn* your respect. Remember that, and you'll be in good shape."

And Tim's eyes are searching... not him. Maybe the world that only exists behind his own eyes.

Jason leaves him to it, and tries to think about how he wants to finish that story Tim had asked him for -- and had let him interrupt twice. It shouldn't be that hard to say, but it is, and he knows exactly why. It's all about that great big streak of angry immaturity that runs through him, that's *been* him for --

Not as long as he can remember. Not that. He was a *happy* kid for a good long while, even after his father started spending more time in jail -- and doing the things that would *put* him in jail -- than he'd spent with him and his. His mother, and he knows *that* now even though not knowing it had helped put his ass in a box. He doesn't know if it *should* be that way, but he knows that it is.

Just like how he'll *never* know what had made his biological mother into the woman who'd died right next to him. In his world, Bruce had had her buried in a different cemetery. A nice one, with perpetual care for her grave...

He'd never asked Bruce if he'd figured out the role she played in his death, and he doesn't think he ever will. That's over and done -- and he's still not dealing with what he'd done with the Tim in his world, and with all the other vigilantes he'd fucked with and fucked over. But especially Tim Drake.

"Did you... did you kill the Joker in your world?"

Interesting on a few too many levels that *that's* the first question that Tim wants to ask, but... all right. "No. I beat him with a crowbar, just like he'd done to me, and left him to live or die as he would." Because I couldn't do it. Because -- "I couldn't do it. I'd never killed anyone, and I wasn't ready to start. Later, when he was healthy *enough*, I set up a little situation where Bruce could either kill the Joker himself or let... something bad happen. Bruce, *being* Bruce, found a way around it. Last I checked, the asshole was back in Arkham."

A nod and a thoughtful look. "Would you -- are you going to kill him here? Or... try to get Bruce to kill him?"

Jason sighs and strokes Tim's thigh. "First chance I get. Nice and quiet, and then I'll make sure his body is someplace public. You know why, don't you?"

Tim frowns. "I -- I know it's not just because he killed you. I know that he's killed dozens of people, that he keeps escaping -- I. I know that he can't actually be rehabilitated, and I know -- I want him to be dead, Jason, but I don't know if I could do it."

Jason taps Tim's thigh. "No one's asking you to."

"But if it's something I can't do, then I shouldn't want anyone else *to* do it. If it's wrong, it's *wrong*."

If. Did you catch that, Tim? Oh, I really think you did --

"Oh. Oh. I've... changed."

Jason tries to make his smile a gentle one. "It looks good on you --"

"Is that why you hated me, Jason? Because in that other world I *didn't* change?"

"I never even tried with him, kid. Nothing I -- he never did a thing to me, and tried real damned hard to get me to listen to *reason*, but I wasn't ready for it, and the fact that he *existed*, that he *was* Robin when I should've been, could've been, that he was seeing Bruce every night while I was fucking around with the League of Assassins, that he made me *think* about the time I should've been in Gotham... he was just a symbol."

"And I'm... not."

"No. *You*... are something else. Someone else. It just took me a little too fucking long to see it," Jason says, and strokes up Tim's thigh until he can reach between and cup his sac, roll it a little on his palm.


"Any other questions? Or should I just get ready to fuck you a little?"

"I want -- there's nothing I don't want to know. And I think I'm angry at my -- dick for getting in the *way* of that --"

"Welcome to adolescence, kid. But there's nothing really special about tonight," and he gives Tim's sac a *hard* squeeze --

"Oh *fuck* --"

"Well, listen to *you*. Mm. I was saying -- you'll get other chances before it's time for me to leave you --"

"Don't -- God, please, Jason, *don't* --"

"Easy. Just think about this. How it feels. How much you *want* it --"

"Yes -- yes, Jason, I do, I want *you* --"

"You've got me. And I've got *you*," and Jason gives him another squeeze, and another, over and over until Tim's dick starts rising for him again, until the flush starts spilling down Tim's chest and he's panting --

"Please, in me, I don't want to come until you're in me --"

"Done." But he doesn't let go right away. Just -- this *feeling* of having another guy's sac in his hand --

No, it's not Bruce in his head right now. It's Tim, or the mass of want and need and fucked up *duty* the name Tim *means* now. Responsibility and power, danger and pain -- all his.

He lets go. "Down on me a little. You know I can take your weight."

"Yes. I -- or should I be on my hands and knees? Or -- bent up?"

"Do you want to be? Because *I* want you right here," he says, and reaches around to cup Tim's ass, squeeze it and think about carving a little something *there* -- no, he'd feel too much like he was compensating for something.

"Here is good. Here -- I can feel you. And see you. I just --"

"Wanted to make things easier for me, I know." Jason gives Tim's ass a hard *slap* --

"*Ah* -- I. That, too?"

Jason snickers. "Yeah, maybe. Another time." He slicks his fingers -- "Reach back and spread yourself for me."

Tim nods and does it, staring down at him with eyes that are kind of *burning*.

No more waiting. He pushes in with one finger, one smooth slide that makes Tim pant and squeeze his eyes shut -- and clench. "Tell me you want it."

"I *want* it --"

"Tell me to *fuck* you, nice and hard --"

"I -- fuck me hard, Jason, fuck me -- oh *God* --"

"Shh. But not silent. Not --" Jason sighs and gives it to him hard, feeling the tightness and knowing that one day it won't be enough to stop him, that he'll *have* to --

"Yes, Jason, *yes*, I -- sorry, don't stop, oh God, you're *in* me --"

"Uh, huh. Just what you wanted. You're *making* me think about *doing* you," he says, and goes a little harder --

"*Please* --"

"When I *want* you to bleed, I'll cut you. So you're just gonna have to *add* this to your -- heh. *Regimen*. Find a sex shop that'll sell you a toy -- it'll make it easier on you."

"Yes, all right, I will -- oh --"

"And then *tell* me what store it was so I can pay a little visit to the *owners*. Shut your mouth tight, now --"

Tim does it and nods --

Jason crooks his finger up and makes it *shudder* a little inside the kid --

And the shout stays muffled just the way it should, and -- fuck. Tim's eyes are rolling back in his head and his dick twitches once, twice -- this *won't* take long.

"I'm giving you another. I'm telling you so you'll be prepared for it and be able to keep yourself quiet *enough* -- no, open your mouth again."

"Yes. Oh, God. Oh, *fuck* --"

"You're gonna look *so* good riding my dick, kid --"

"Jason -- Jason, I -- please, more, before I -- *hnn* --"

"Oh, yeah. *Look* at you. Holding yourself spread for what I'm giving you, flushed all the way down to your abs..." Jason takes a deep breath and *spreads* his fingers inside the kid --

"Just want -- just want to be *good* --"

"You *are*, and don't -- don't think about anything else. Just about how good you are, what a *hot* little boy you are, all lean and needy for this, all -- mm. I can *smell* how much you want this, feel your balls tightening up against my abdomen..."

"Love -- *sorry*," and Tim shakes himself like a dog, bites his lip --


"*Jason* --"

"Yeah. Right about now? You're all mine. That's *gonna* change -- it's just the way this has to work -- but I'm satisfied --"

"I'm *not* --"

Jason laughs and gives Tim another crook --

"*Fuck* -- oh, fuck, oh -- you're making me -- I want to --"

"*What* do you want?"

"S-suck you, ride you, bend over the -- the pommel horse --"

"*There's* an idea. Creative little fucker, aren't you?"

And the look on Tim's face is somewhere between anguished and *pissed*, and he knows what that look *feels* like, knows what it means and how it *works*.

"Don't you worry, kid. I've got you. I've got *this*," he says, sitting up and wrapping his free arm around Tim's waist, presses his body *tight* against Jason's own --

"Oh -- God, I'll *come* on you --"

"Yeah, you will. Go on, lick my shoulder a little. Bite it, kiss it -- do what you *want* --"

And the bite starts out gentle, *hesitant* -- but then it's *hard* enough that Jason thinks he can feel every one of Tim's sharp little teeth, thinks he can *sense* his own skin's breaking point --

"*Good* boy. Go ahead, *leave* a mark --"

And Tim shudders and cries *out* against Jason's shoulder, licking almost frantically, sucking and biting again, again --

He's still holding himself *open* for Jason, and that kind of perfection, that kind of *dedication* -- he's not getting hard again, but it's not that far under the surface, either. "Let go of yourself," he says and licks Tim's ear, bites the lobe --

And those hands are on him, one clutching the arm he has around Tim, the other stroking and squeezing and *pressing* on Jason's working arm, restless and sweet, so good --

Jason breathes on Tim's ear. "Don't try to hold off, Tim. You'll have this again -- mm --" That *bite*, and yeah, that time the skin gave a little. "Do you like it? The taste of my blood?"

Tim bucks *hard* --

And comes on him, biting *harder* as he cries out, voice spiraling higher and higher until it's almost frightening, until he wishes he could hate himself for this, until he wants to hide himself in Tim's body and only come out when there's someone to *hurt*.

Jason kisses Tim's ear and squeezes him just a little tighter. Not hard enough that he can't breathe, just --

Just a little.

After a while, there's only the pain in his shoulder and Tim's intermittent shudders --

The pain *flares* and Tim pulls back, turning to face him with bloody lips and wide, lost eyes.

Jason smiles. "It's all right. Lick your lips for me?"

*Heat* again, but just a flash of it while Tim does it, shuddering again. "Jason. That was -- I wanted it to *last* --"

"You're too young for that to work. But..."

"You'll do it again," Tim says, and when he smiles there's still a little pink on his teeth --

So Jason licks it off.


Watching Tim learn the staff is a lot like watching a duckling learn to swim. It seems to just *happen*, and while Jason knows that a part of that is the fact that it's hard to make the days last as long as they should when you're getting your dick sucked on pretty much every one of them, it's still amazing -- and maybe a little humbling.

He'd like to know how Bruce *knew* that the staff would be Tim's weapon, or - had Tim chosen it, himself? He would've learned *early* that he needed the extra *reach* for his blows... hm.

Right now, Tim is spinning and moving and *striking* exactly like he's in the middle of a bunch of people in need of pain as opposed to being alone on the mats. That one's a few small bones in a foot going crunch, that one's a seriously sore hand, that one's a paralyzed shoulder -- and *that* one's a broken jaw.

"Very, *very* nice," Jason says, meaning it --

And now Tim's smiling while he works through the forms *faster*. He can't use his perfectly deadly little hands right now, but his feet and shins are right there for him --

Oh, someone just got a shot to the crotch. Heh. "Interesting tidbit: We're not the only ones who get hard for this kind of thing."

"Ah -- the criminals? Sometimes?"

"Oh, yeah."

"That's... disturbing, actually," Tim says, cracking some ghost in the head with the staff before flipping back and sweeping, kicking --

His breathing is so, so perfect. Jason moves closer... no, not yet. "You're on a rooftop, and the ledge is oh, say -- two inches behind your heels --"

"Noted," and Tim starts using it, slowing down to... oh, he really is luring his imaginary opponents *in*. Heh.

"You should *almost* never drop people off rooftops, kid. But that's not really a criticism so much as an observation..."

And Tim's smile turns sly. *Wet*.

Yeah, he was saying something. "Anyway. The ones who get hard for it? It's not about how badly you can hurt them --"

"They'd just -- like it. Yes, I hear you. Take them out faster, even if it means less pain." And that sweep, spin, and *jab* is someone -- a fairly tall someone -- taking a header off the roof.

"Tim, Tim, Tim," Jason says, shaking his head sadly.

"There was a *very* full Dumpster down there," Tim says, and rolls with the staff -- a little sloppy. "Damn. May I --"

"Yeah, practice those rolls. Remember the cape."

"Yes. I feel. Um."

Hesitation -- which means he was *thinking* about suggesting something about the way Jason's training him. There's a part of him which wants to tug the leash *hard* -- possibly yank on it a little -- but... it's a smaller part every day. "Go on."

"I'm not sure... I think I'll need a lot of time to learn the cape, Jason," and Tim starts rolling, trying out different holds with the staff.

Jason thinks about it some, letting the back of his mind purr a little over the lack of *bad* tension in Tim, over the way he's just letting himself -- flow.

Every day, Tim leaps up on the beam and shadow-fights with the staff, moving and turning, dipping and striking and swaying not at all. His balance, his flexibility...

Better every day. But -- yeah. "You're right. My cape was a lot shorter and lighter than yours is going to be."

"Oh. I -- a weapon in its own right?"

"Not as good a one as you *will* get from Bruce --"

"I think. Should we really count on Bruce that way?" And Tim nods to himself after his fourth perfect roll in row *while* coming up and starting to fight again, spinning the staff in front of him to avoid projectiles before moving *in* --

It was a good question, *but*. "You know too much for him not to take you on. And that's *both* in terms of your training and your *secrets*."

"I --" Frown. "Jason... is it wrong that it still bothers me... I really don't want him to *resent* me --"

"Tough. He *can* control his more immature urges, kid, but sometimes he just doesn't *want* to. For him... be honest, be determined, be *sure*, with all of yourself. Never back down and never show fear."

"He's -- only a man," Tim says, and starts dodging blows. Mostly punches from a long-armed and mean-spirited individual, by the look of it.

"And you're a smart, tough, and *serious* -- Robin."

This smile is almost ghostly, but only in terms of its diffuse focus. A dream outside of himself still, then. But not for long.

Jason rolls his shoulders and stalks in, taking Tim's widened eyes and *predatory* smile for his own -- because they absolutely are. And punishing Tim for making him feel this way --

Is it punishment when Tim smiles for every touch? Cries *out* for every toss like maybe he's still working on learning *how* to laugh?

And he hasn't had to convince Tim to actually *try* to hurt him since the first time -- and maybe, just maybe, he hasn't done a damned thing with that pipe but tuck it away in one of the old lockers he hasn't bothered to have carted out --

The strikes are constant and just as hard as the blocks, just as *precise* as the dodges, because Tim knows, now, that running too hard from a hit can just get you in other kinds of trouble --

Spin-kick *drop*, too fast for Jason to catch his ankle after *he* dodges.

Leap and a downward strike -- no, *two*, one after the other, and Jason catches the staff --

And has to let go when Tim uses his flexibility to kick for his hand.

Steel-toed boots winning over tabi again, but only marginally, only --

"Ah -- knife, Jason?"

Jason smiles. "Because you wanna practice or because you wanna get off?"

Tim manages to give the *appearance* of ducking his head fucking *demurely* even as he dances away from a flurry -- "Well. I was trying not to... ah. Limit myself."

The laughter, Jason thinks, is in Tim's eyes, so much less hooded than they used to be, or -- no. He'd never really put any kind of effort into *hiding* from Jason so much as he'd tried to be... unobtrusive. Subtle. Jason pulls his knife and starts weaving it a little...

Yeah, the kid probably thinks the light in his eyes is the equivalent of dancing around and shouting. It *isn't*... and Jason isn't sure how to teach that lesson.

And he's not sure if he wants to, either. Just --

There's no fear here, right now. None at *all* -- and if it was some other kind of kid, Jason would call it trust that Jason wouldn't hurt him, but it's *Tim*, and so the lack of fear means that he knows that even if he *does* get cut he'll still be able to keep going, keep *coming* for Jason with that staff and every vicious little thing he can do with it, like --

*There*, a strike aimed for Jason's *hip*. The kind of injury that can take a guy out of the game in the *future*, because hips almost never heal perfectly --

A spin to keep the knife from getting anywhere near him --

A turn, and Tim is coming for him, grinning *hard* and maybe just a little manic -- because he's doing his *damnedest* to force Jason toward the 'ledge.'

"Little *bastard*," Jason says --

Tim licks his *lips* --

And Jason takes a strike to the shin.

First touch. First *touch*, and, if anything, it's affecting him *more* than it's affecting Tim, because even though Tim makes a *sound* -- low and *sweet* -- he never stops, never --

Jason goes in fast and hard because he has to, because he *needs* this, needs to see that line on Tim's forehead get just a little deeper as Tim pours it on, defending himself about seventy percent of the time, now, but never ceasing his own attack, never so much as *hesitating* to take every tiny opportunity it even *looks* like Jason is giving him --

Harder, then, and Tim growls for him when Jason forces his defensive percentage up to eighty --

"What do you do now?"

"Shuriken. Smoke bomb. Start hoping sincerely for back-up."

Mm. "You're out of shuriken, the guy has a rebreather, and back-up is twenty, twenty-five minutes out."

"High ground --"

"None --"

Block and *sweep*, and Tim *almost* gets his shin again --

"Good boy. No high ground."

"I --" And Tim spins the staff and moves, keeping up the speed and forcing Jason back a little --

A little more --

And seeing it *coming* is nothing -- fucking *nothing* -- against watching Tim do a backflip *while* pulling the knife at his back --

Turn in the air --

*Throw*, hard and accurate enough that Jason can snatch it out of the air without so much as adjusting for a wobble. *Fuck*, yes --

"I. Hm. I think this is where I run for my life?"

"Yeah, pretty much," Jason says, and lets himself snicker as he tosses the knife back. "On the plus side? There just *aren't* all that many non-metas who'll be able to do this to you on their *own*."

Tim sheaths the knife and nods thoughtfully. "What about guns?"

Yeah. "You already know how to shoot... but you'll need the Cave for crossfire training situations."

"Bruce," Tim says, and sounds worried.

"Hey --"

"I -- I know. I just want to be as prepared as I can possibly be before I meet him. He -- I know you've been paying attention to the news reports --"

"*And* the scanner when I'm not out there, myself. We just don't have that much time left, kid," and Jason moves up close, cupping Tim's face and making him look up into Jason's eyes. "You're coming out with me tonight."

And Tim still looks worried, but the light is creeping back into his eyes. The *good* light, the one that's hard and sharp, wet as a smile --

And the healing bite-mark on Jason's shoulder itches just a little. Just enough to make him *aware* of the rest of his body. Of his *dick*, to be precise, and the fact that he has to send Tim home... soon. He strokes Tim's cheekbone and watches Tim's eyes slip half-closed --

And snap open again. "Oh! There's -- a party. This weekend. I mean, one of the society parties. My parents were talking about it... they mentioned that Bruce might be there."

That -- Jason grunts. "Are they planning on bringing you along?"

"They asked -- ah. They don't usually ask, but this time... I told them I'd think about it," Tim says, and the question in his eyes is honest and clear, just as if Jason had *erased* the part of him which would've moved heaven and earth to be there.

Jason manages to keep the shiver internal. "Go, watch -- and I'll be waiting at your place for the report."

"Yes, Jason. Um..." And Tim rests his hand on the hip he'd done his damnedest to break, blushing but keeping his eyes *sharp* on Jason's own.

Jason smiles. "The last time I sucked you off you didn't make it a minute, kid. Maybe I'm not so interested."

Wide eyes -- too wide.

"Nuh-uh. Learn to *play*."

Eyebrow, fast-tracking *search*... and the smile on Tim's face isn't the most honest one in the world, but it looks a hell of a lot like the one he'd used when he was breaking up his shadow-gang.

"Yeah. That one," Jason says, and moves his hand to Tim's mouth, tracing the curve of the smile until it almost seems to settle *in* on Tim's face.

"Perhaps I should pretend you're about to stab me the next time -- your mouth is on my dick."

Heh. "Sure you wouldn't like that too much?"

And -- there. That little *shift* of the kid's shoulders as he tries to make the gi pull and drag against all of his little scratches.

Jason's little scratches. He pushes his thumb into Tim's mouth -- "Suck." And keep your eyes open, he doesn't say, because he's still working on this particular Tim theory. Eyes closed *could* just be for concentration and enjoyment, but there's still a part of Tim that's hidden from him. He's not sure what it is or how it *looks*, but there's *something*.

For all he knows, it's hidden from Tim, himself, but --


It's *amazing* how ready, willing, and able the human mind is to come up with excuses for bad behavior, because, yes, Jason is seriously standing here making a kid suck his thumb for him in preparation for *other* things while telling himself it's all about getting to *know* the kid in question.

His dick wants him to know that it doesn't care *what* he has to say to himself in order for it to get what it wants -- so long as it *does* get what it wants. "Tim," he says, letting it be as heavy and low as it wants to be --

Tim *bites* Jason's thumb -- and keeps sucking.

"Good, good boy," and he starts to fuck Tim's mouth slow and hard, sharp teeth scraping his skin and making him think of... oh, all *sorts* of things. And the smile on his face is probably showing off every last one of them, judging by the way Tim's eyes *flare* for him. "Yeah. Strip off."

A nod and Tim starts doing it -- and doesn't let go of Jason's thumb. It's a little more awkward this way, but it's very, very nice to see.

Tim's body is bruised up from all of the sparring they've been doing recently, but it's still easy -- still *obvious* -- to see all the places where Jason's *sucked* bruises onto him.

Dark around those little nipples, yellowing at Tim's hip --

Jason takes his thumb back and licks for the taste of Tim's saliva. "Stand up straight and turn for me."

Tim raises his arms above his head before he does it, just like maybe he could *feel* Jason wanting to see the healing scratches -- three for each side -- on Tim's triceps.

What *is* Bruce going to think the first time he sees Tim naked? When he *confirms* for himself that *Robin* is no virgin, blushes or no blushes...

A part of Jason only wants to *prepare* Tim for Bruce, wants there to be some set way for that to happen, more than just forcing Tim to become someone who *can* look into that cowl and know, all the way down, that it's only another man -- and one with the kind of weakness a Robin is *born* to exploit. It's just that Bruce is *still* going to surprise him -- and probably find ways to surprise Jason, too. He's an *extraordinary* man, and Tim isn't completely wrong to worry.



"What are you gonna do when Bruce wants to touch you, kid?"

"I -- you said he wouldn't. Him *or* Dick."

Jason presses two fingers against Tim's skin and lets them drag as he turns. Pecs -- just a little bigger -- obliques, shoulder blades... "*I'm* just a man -- though one who knows Bruce just a *little* better than most. And what I said was that they *don't* want you this way -- yet. You're not even a blip on the radar. But once you are...?" Jason *cups* Tim's oblique and holds him still. "Things are gonna move fast."

"How so?"

"Bruce can't just kidnap *you* for a few days before sending that team of lawyers to make you his, so there's that going for you --"

Haiti. *Haiti* --

"But he'll have an eye on you. The day after you meet him, you might just find yourself snatched off the street on your way here, but... it's my *plan* to vet you for him. And that means his eye is going to be on *me*. Bugs, tracers..." Jason shakes his head and lets go of Tim to start stroking him again with just his fingertips.

Muscle and bone, bruises and scars...

"The way he is right now, the way he's *going* to be when he finds out that I've done an end-run around him --"

"But he didn't -- he wasn't going to pick *me*. He doesn't *know* me --"

"But he will," Jason says, and hooks his thumb in Tim's navel a little --

"Oh -- that feels. Strange --"

"Uh, huh. You can *make* yourself get used to it, a little, though. Maybe even make yourself *like* it," and Jason shoves his thumb that millimeter or two deeper --

Tim grunts for him, shifting on his feet -- stilling.

"Good. And I was saying... he'll know you, and he'll think to himself 'I should've known. I should've seen him' and *most* of him is going to admire you for it even while he berates himself for missing it. The rest of him... well, how do you think *you'd* feel in his position?"

"Paranoid. Possibly terrified. But that's *me* --"

"That's *human*. Some people get off on being watched. Bruce? Really isn't one of them." Jason pulls his thumb back out, dragging it down until he can take the head of Tim's penis between his fingers and *pinch* --

"Jason --"

"Let's see how long you can take this touch."

"I --" Tim nods and bites his lip -- shakes his head and pants. "All right."

Jason cups Tim's face with his other hand and tilts Tim's head back again. "That paranoia and terror you give him? *That's* where the resentment is gonna come from. And just a *little* bit of the hunger."

"Hunger. I don't. That's difficult to imagine, Jason."

Jason smiles again. "Of course it is -- for *you*. So let me give you something easier: picture a little boy full of grief and rage and, yeah, terror. One day he sees something even darker, angrier, and scarier than the inside of his own head. He sees it, hears it, feels it -- hell, tastes it and smells it, too. It knocks him right down. Shuts him *up* -- all of the screaming in his head wiped away. With me?"

Tim licks his lips and nods, swallows -- winces and *bucks* when Jason starts pinching rhythmically --

So many kinks, so *little* time. "This little boy -- that big, scary thing is suddenly the best thing in the world, the most *wanted* thing, because the thing about having a head full of screaming is that it's a little on the *stressful* side --"

"I'm not Bruce. I'm not -- I haven't suffered. And *you're* not -- oh. You are. I." Tim shakes his head. "I still don't think that Bruce will want me. You're still -- he still has clothes that smell like you, Jason. He hasn't forgotten what you taste like, or how it sounds when you laugh..." Tim looks at him, searching and almost seeming to *push* a plea out through his eyes. "And I don't want him, anymore."

*Heat*, just -- all through him, because a part of him knows that's the right answer, the *only* answer he can take -- but Tim isn't going to be *his* Robin, at all. Jason takes a breath and shakes his head. "You will again, Tim. And it will be bigger and a lot harder to take, because you'll know *exactly* what it's like. What *he's* like -- but you can keep that stubborn look on your face a little longer, anyway."

"I -- harder?"

Jason gives Tim a *good* pinch, and his dick twitches just before Tim cries out for him, shifting on his feet and bucking again, trying for more...


Jason lets go. "Go get up on my work table. Legs dangling over the side."

Tim pants and goes in a *stiff* jog, feet soundless on the floor. Jason follows at a walk, looking him over, planning -- wanting.

Wanting *more* when Tim sets Jason's tools aside *neatly* before climbing up and spreading his long, lean legs.

The part of Jason which only wants to watch Bruce *want* again, wants to see it from the outside and *measure* it, is thinking *hard* about shaving Tim down and teaching him to walk in heels...

And hell, maybe he *should*. Prepare Tim for as much as he can, for the feeling -- unlike *any* other -- of a big, male hand pushing up your fucking *skirt* and taking what it wants --

Jason shakes it off and sits in the chair, letting it rock back and forth and looking Tim over just a *little* more. Tim's going to be in a bed the first time -- only time? -- he rims him, but it's not like he isn't prepared for other things. "Scoot a little closer to the edge for me."

Done -- and Tim raises an eyebrow, thoughtfulness, hunger, and something a *lot* sharper warring in his eyes.

"Do tell," Jason says, and pulls the bottle of slick out of his gi.

"When you touch me... do you do it the way Bruce touched you?"

"Oh, I'm a *lot* nicer than he is, kid. I don't make you put up with soft and slow and oh *so* gentle."

Tim *coughs* a laugh, and it sounds exactly as pained and strangled as Jason had been imagining. Heh.

"Liked that, did you? Put your feet on my shoulders."

Tim does *that*, and now the war looks like it's between more laughter and a healthy dose of embarrassment. Which...

"A little shameful, isn't it?"

"Ah... the exposure. Yes. I'm... very aware of my own body."

"And you don't *like* that, because you know your body is never going to look like mine, or Bruce's, or even Dick's."

"I think you can understand the... frustration."

"And the pain, yeah. I can *see* you now, kid. See everything I want and some of the things I *don't* --"

"I could change them. If you told me."

"I just bet," Jason says, and slicks up his fingers before shoving in two --

"*Oh* -- tell me, Jason, please tell me --"

"No. Because *then*? You wouldn't be the boy who gets me *hard*, anymore."

Tim bites his lip -- stops and groans --

Stops and tenses up hard, *very* clearly trying to concentrate against the feel of Jason fucking him like this. Heh. Jason does it *harder* --

"*Fuck* -- Jason --"

"Yes...? Got something to say to me?"

"*Fuck* me -- I mean. I mean *that*, but also -- *hnn* -- I." And Tim pushes up on his hands and *rocks* against Jason's fingers, *taking* more for himself.

"Oh yeah, do *that*."

"Feels -- oh, you always feel so *good*, Jason, I -- I've been using the toy --"

"Oh, I can tell. And you're going to show me... one of these days," Jason says, crooking his fingers and just *rocking* them a little inside him, just -- having this as Tim cries out and *keeps* crying out --

And gasps when Jason straightens his fingers again -- "I was going to say -- I was. You don't -- you *don't* get hard for the parts of me --"

"Oh, but I really, really do," Jason says shoving in deep and just *holding* his fingers there. "When you're just the bestest little boy you could ever be? When you're careful and unsure and hating yourself a little? That's when I *really* want to do you. Chain you up, beat on you a little, make you *feel* me --"

"Oh -- *oh*. I do feel you, I *always* feel you. When I'm in school, when I'm alone, when I'm not alone --"

"When you're sitting between your parents pretending that they really *do* love each other...?"

And Tim's eyes fly open *wide*, shocked and scared and knowing, all the way *knowing*, because --

"Yeah. Like that, Tim. See, you're *going* to change for me, but you're gonna do it *my* way. Whenever you start thinking about backsliding, about buttoning yourself up and fucking *burying* yourself under all that good little boy *bullshit* -- I'll be there --"

"You *won't* be, Jason. You'll just -- you're going to go to some other *universe* -- *hn* -- I. It doesn't matter how hard you fuck me if --"

"Oh, it matters," Jason says, shrugging off Tim's feet, standing up, and *pushing* Tim back down by his shoulder. "It's everything, kid. You're never gonna get rid of me. By the time I'm through with you? I'll be in everything you do and everything you *are* --"

"God -- *fuck*. Jason, please, just don't stop, just don't *stop* --"

"Gonna beg me for it?"

"*Please*," Tim says, and starts trying to push himself up on his hands again --

Until Jason squeezes his shoulder hard enough to get a different sort of cry out of him. "Stay down. And *take* this."

"Yes, I -- *yes* --" And Tim throws his head back, baring the clean, unbroken lines of his throat, the places Jason hasn't bitten or cut because he can't fucking *risk* it --

But he can grab Tim there and *squeeze* --

Tim *kicks*, shuddering all over and staring up into Jason's eyes, *glaring* up --

"Fuck yeah, kid. That's what I want from you. That's what I *need* from you. All your anger, all your hurt -- and all the control that's letting you follow my *orders*."

And Tim glares *harder* -- before mouthing 'I love you.'

That -- Jason hears himself grunting and he can't keep himself from fucking Tim *harder*. Just -- "Tricky little bitch, aren't you? Yeah, well, I like that, too. I fucking love it. Now come for me -- because I'm not letting you breathe until you do."

That gets him a better shudder, a *deeper* one, somehow, because he can feel it in the hand he has around Tim's throat and in the fingers he has *inside* the kid. And --

Jesus, he's hot inside, with *just* enough give to make Jason think about another finger, his *dick* --

He could take the kid like this. Right *here*, with everything he'd just said and everything Tim *knows* now -- about both of them. He could do it, and then send him home with come dripping down his thighs --

No. He wants more than that. Not *much* more, but -- a little time. Time they really don't *have* for this, but that he has to take, anyway --

And Tim's eyes roll back in his head while he spasms, jerks --

"Fuck, *do* it, Tim --"

And when Tim opens his mouth it feels like there's an *absence* of sound, the auditory equivalent of *vacuum*, pulling him in and making him want --


Tension, sweet and fucking trembling -- and then Tim clenches *hard* around him and comes, spattering himself and Jason's gi and making Jason want to be *naked* for this, for the heat he's *not* feeling. He squeezes harder and *shakes* Tim a little --

And gets one more spurt for his trouble. Mm. Jason lets go and just watches Tim slump. His arms won't hold him right now, and --

God, he's never going to *be* looser than this. Jason can just push him down and lift those legs around his hips --

"You've got fifteen seconds to get my dick in your mouth, kid --"

And Tim *laughs*, hoarse and cracked and utterly real as he looks up at Jason with an eyebrow raised. "Why don't I just spread my legs a little wider. Jason."

Holy... hell. "Because that's *not* what I told you to. Ten seconds."

"Or else you make me listen to more of my... ah. Psychological foibles? Cut me? Spank me? I *could* roll over."

Jason -- licks the edges of his teeth. "Kid --"

"Come *in* me, Jason. You already know they don't want me at home, that *no* one does -- except for you. There's no such thing as being late when there's never any -- any *fucking* curfew."

Time's up, and he's seriously just standing there staring. He asked for this. He really, seriously --

He fucking *demanded* this, and now he has it, and -- there's only one more thing he needs to know, really.

Jason turns and walks away, promising his dick whatever the hell it wants if it'll just let him stay *steady* for this, just let him --

Spin away from the flying *tackle* that, in a different sort of world entirely, would've sent a bony shoulder *right* to his kidney --

And Tim rolls *right* back onto his feet -- with one of *Jason's* knives in his hand. His stance couldn't be more perfect *without* putting a uniform on him. Just --

"Is that what you got for me, kid?"

"My *name* is *Tim*," and there's nothing wild about his attack, nothing uneven and *nothing* merciful.

A strike for his femoral artery, a strike for his liver --

And a slash that would've left Jason's guts all over the fucking *mats*, and he can't hold back the smile, can't breathe around the *pride* as Tim takes a jab to the abdomen and keeps coming, as he expertly tosses the knife to his other hand when Jason chops his shoulder, as he *fights* the pin, snarling nowhere but his eyes and promising *pain* with every flex of muscle.

He bites Jason's *tongue* when he kisses him --

He groans and *takes* it, bucking up with his hips even though Jason's gi has to be torture for his oversensitized dick. Jason fucks his mouth for a good, long while, knowing that he's bruising Tim's forearms with his hands, Tim's thighs with his *knees* --

He pulls back. "Mine."

"I already fucking *knew* that, Jason, and if you weren't still fucked in the head about dying, about Bruce and everything *else* --"

"Tell me you want it."

"I want your *dick*, Jason, and you want to give it to me, you *need* it and I can see it in your eyes, I can *taste* it --"

"And what are you gonna do when Bruce wants to touch you?"

"Whatever I *want*. Jason --"

"Yeah," Jason says, and stands --

Tim *growls* and starts to get up --

Jason puts his foot on Tim's chest. "Easy, freakboy. You're *gonna* get what you want," and Jason starts to strip.

And watches Tim think *seriously* about trying to throw Jason -- or maybe just twisting his foot around the wrong way.

Jason gives him a *shove* with his foot and steps back. "Go get the lube."

Oh, that's a *mean* look in Tim's eyes -- but it's also *calculating*. He grabs the knife and goes to do it -- and when he comes back with it he heads straight for the pommel horse, setting the bottle down and sending Jason a *daring* look.

Heh. He steps out of his pants and walks over behind Tim, grabbing the back of his neck and squeezing hard -- while Tim presses back *into* it. His -- and even *more* his for the way he fights against Jason pushing him down until his cheek is on the horse. And then *stays* there. "Spread yourself for me."

Tim pants and does it, and Jason can't look. Wants to, has to --

So *fucking* small, and undoubtedly clenched up again with everything they've said and done since he was *inside* the kid -- Tim, now and forever.

Maybe a bed just wouldn't cut it.

Jason dumps a healthy amount of lube on his fingers and paints Tim's crack with it, circles his hole -- and pushes in with *three*.

"*Ah* --"

"Don't scream yet. This is just *prep*."

"Hn -- I *know*. And I *want* to scream."

And Jason wants a *gag* -- but it doesn't matter how good it would feel to put it on and how good it would *look* to have it there. He doesn't want to give up the noise. "Then I guess I just have to be a nice guy and *let* you," Jason says, and starts to thrust, forcing his fingers in and making Tim cry out for every push, every *shove*.

And --

"Does it make it easier? Make it hurt less?"

"Makes -- makes it hurt more *coherently* -- *Jason* --"

"Yeah, faster. I won't make you wait *too* long..."

"*Please*. I want -- may I put my hands on the horse?"

"Mm, since you asked so nicely? No."

"Oh, *fuck* you," Tim says, *laughing* for him again --

Jason grins and leans in to bite the back of Tim's neck. "*That's* better. Yeah, go ahead and brace yourself."

Two quick pants and then Tim does it -- and it's absolutely a demand to take him harder and faster *still*, forcing past all the resistance and then doing it again, over and over until Tim is whimpering steadily, gasping and begging --

"Now work your hips for me. Beg with your *body*." And he gets *just* that, Tim's slim little ass pumping back and forth on his hand in the *perfect* rhythm as Tim groans, scratches at the horse and shakes... Jason checks, and yeah, Tim's getting hard for him again. Just a little, but it's easy to fix that with some nice, hard strokes --

"*Ohn* -- oh, please, *please* --"

"Beg me to fuck you, Tim --"

"*Please* fuck me, please, God, I'll do anything, I'll *be* anything -- ow, fuck, so *hard* --"

"*Just* for you," Jason says, trying and *mostly* failing to spread his fingers. "One day I'm gonna *fist* you."

"*Jason* --"

"Maybe I'll even do it while someone's watching. Watching you give it *up* --"

"I only want you to see me --"

"Too fucking *bad* -- Tim," and Jason licks Tim's neck, *twists* his fingers inside --

"Oh, God, it *hurts* --"

"It always does the first time. And the second, the third..." Jason bites his lip and tries to imagine not doing this, not *having* this. Tim's cries --

Tim's *sobs* --

They sound like -- it *feels* like the universe is giving him one last chance not to do this, one last chance to take a good look at this kid, this *boy* who only wants to love him, only wants to be whoever *Jason* wants him to be --

"*Jason* --"

And yeah, he's hurting him, and the fuck will be even worse, brutal and rough, and all of this preparation might not save him from bleeding, at all. Jason squeezes his eyes shut and stills his hand. "Tim. Tim, listen to me --"

"*No*. Don't say no to me, don't try to convince me or -- God, I don't *know*. You *want* me, Jason, I -- I can feel it and it's driving me crazy. Just let me scream, just let me -- I promise I'll make it *good*," and Tim works himself back on Jason's hand faster, every sharp breath coming with a sharper noise --

A *high* noise, and his dick knows what that means, knows that even through the pain --

That the pain is *making* Tim want this more, making him ready for this -- God, the feel of his dick in Jason's hand --

He could *make* Tim come this way, and even he won't be able to go again before he *has* to go home --

"*Fuck* me, Jason, make me -- *need* me --"

"I do," Jason says, and pulls out much too fast --

"*No* --"

"*Yes*," and shoving in with his dick feels like --

A part of him is only watching this from the outside, taking note of every detail, from the bottle of slick resting behind Tim's left hand, to the way *both* of Tim's hands are flexing and shaking, to the flush on Tim's back --

Look closer and there are those scratches -- scars -- thin white lines in all the pink forming a broken 't', and there's Jason's dick sliding in and in.

Jason can feel/see the look on his face, the way it must look like he's angry and hurt --

The way he *is* angry and hurt, because he's not strong enough for this, wasn't even strong enough to *wait* for Tim to be a little bigger, big enough that at least the *first* push wouldn't hurt like he knows it *is* --

And Jason watches his hands move on Tim, watches himself gripping slim hips, skinny hips, little *boy* hips --

And every scream seems to echo around the whole gym, seems to batter against him in one more kind of sensation --

Tim should be beating *him* with those fists instead of the horse, should be calling him a rapist because he *is* --

He is. And it feels *exactly* as good as he'd known it would -- tight heat and only the slickness *he'd* left behind --

And Tim's clench shatters everything, breaks the wall between himself and the *rest* of this feeling --

"*Please* --"

So tight, so fucking *tight* and all around him, squeezing him and fucking *fighting* him --

*Literally* fighting him, because Tim is trying to pull against the grip Jason has on his hips. Trying to --

He doesn't want to know. "*Stop*," he says, using the street voice --

Tim stills all over, panting and *whimpering* -- "Jason..."

"Yeah. Yeah. Can you take it?"

"*Yes* --"

"Can you *take* it --"

"Jason, it's -- it's okay, I was just. I thought. Maybe slower."

The laugh has no *place* here, but it comes out, anyway, and watching the tension *flow* over Tim's body is still no preparation for -- "Mother*fuck*, you feel good, kid. *Tim*."

The noise is so soft, so -- fucking devastating.

"Keep talking, Tim. Stay *with* me."

"Yes, I -- I'm sorry, I. Oh, God, Jason, you're really. Very big."

Jason laughs again -- it sounds a lot like a fucking *sob* --

"Oh. Jason? Are you -- is there something I should... do," and it doesn't come out as a question, at all, and then Tim is *moving*. Tiny. Fucking *tiny* little motions because that's all Jason's hands on his hips are *allowing* --

"Tim. Jesus -- Jesus fucking *Christ*, Tim --"

"Ah. Ah -- I. Faster? Should I?"

*Yes* -- "God, I." Jason groans and leans in, meaning to lick the back of Tim's neck, taste the new sweat, pain sweat -- he *bites* --

Tim cries out and *clenches* around him --

And cries out *louder*, because Jason's hips didn't wait for permission, for sanity, for --

There's no sanity *here*, just tight, sweet heat and the feeling of being buried again, only this time there's only flesh, only perfection --

"You feel so *fucking* good," Jason says, and at least he's not biting, anymore, at least he can say *that* while he's licking Tim, his throat and his face, his ear --

"I want to, I want to be good for you, Jason, want --"

"Want me to need you. *Need* me to need you --"

"*Yes* -- I. The way I need you. Please, Jason, please do it, fuck me --"

"Tim," and it's not the street voice, at all. It's not even *close* to being anything he wants to admit to -- but Tim's not talking, anymore, and that means --

Something. God, it's a fucking *fever* in him, or --

Never anything this tight, never anything this -- his. Jason kisses the space just behind Tim's ear and tries to feel where the scratch was, tries to have that, too --

"Jason. I. The angle -- shifts."

"Yeah. You... God, Tim," and it doesn't make anything better to bite Tim's earlobe, to think about getting the kid earrings so long as he can pierce him himself --

"It's. Do you like --"

"You feel. Better than anything else. *Better*. And part of it is the way you -- hn. Fucking demanded this. The way you're *moving*. The way you need this, need me. Tim. It's going to get worse."

"Oh -- okay --"

"I can't wait. I can't -- I'm sorry," Jason says, pulling out just far enough to satisfy his hips, the hunger in him, the *need* --

And Tim relaxes himself all over, evening out his breathing and -- it almost feels like being *released*, and it's nothing he wants --

No, it'll help, it'll *help* --

"It's okay, Jason -- *ah* --"

That sound. He wants *that* sound, and he gets it again, again -- "That's -- that's good, Tim, that's. Give it up for me --"

"*Jason* --"

"And you -- call me Jay, sometimes -- fucking *Christ*, I'm fucked up --"

Tim laughs, and it's just two breathy, rusty little noises before he's crying out again, but --

It has to mean something, even if it doesn't come close to making this all right, to making it anything other than what it is, what it feels like, what it's doing to Jason's *mind* --

"Oh -- oh, that --"

"You liked that."

"I -- it was more like what. Your fingers. Oh, almost --" And Tim's breathing is getting uneven again, getting --

He doesn't *have* to hold Tim's hips. He can -- God, he's almost *soft*, and Jason can't. He pushes in deep and holds himself there, forcing himself to breathe when he only wants to *take* --

"Jason -- Jay. I -- you don't have to --"

"Yes. I. Do," Jason says, and bites Tim's neck again, tastes him and wants blood, wants --

"Oh, *God* --"

For his teeth or for his working hand? He knows what he hopes and he knows what he *wants*, but -- yes, Tim getting harder for him, again, moving because he *has* to, but -- "Stay still. Just for now. Just -- feel this."

"I -- I -- all right. Oh, Jay, I can feel it everywhere, I can -- I'm so *full* --"

"Yeah, and you're gonna *stay* that way for just a little while longer, just until..." Mm. Leaking on his fingers, and Jason has to take a moment to just *feel* that, let it answer a *little* of the screaming in his head, and --

The memories come in flashes, sensory *jolts*. Bruce's dick between his thighs *while* his thumb was up Jason's ass --

Bruce pushing in so slowly, so silently --

He wasn't breathing --

*Tim* isn't breathing --

"*Breathe* --"

"*Yes*, I'm sorry, I'm -- oh God, Jason, I can't -- please let me *move* --"

("Steady, Jay, you must -- I need you *steady* --")

God, *please*, just let him get through this, let him take this and not fuck anything else up, let him not *hurt* --

("I can't *hurt* you, Jay --")

"Jay, no, please, I don't want to come, yet --"

"Tim --"

"It -- it will be *harder*."

Bruce, and the way his breath at the base of Jason's spine had been a *threat* --

The way every touch meant more -- more than he could handle, more than he could *stand* --

"*Tim*," and he sounds like he's fucking begging because he *is*, because somehow both of his hands are back on those hips --

"*Yes*, Jay, it's all right, I can --" And Tim reaches back to stroke Jason's thigh, feeling hair and scars and skin getting a little sleek with sweat, and maybe --

Maybe feeling like things are finally making sense, like he could finally know what his *place* was, what was needed, what was right -- no.

Tim was never on the street and never -- fuck, Jason can *feel* all the never, wrapped tight around his dick and squeezing --

Rhythmically. "Tim. You don't --"

A gasp and a shiver, a *nod* and a restless stroke, hungry stroke, desperate --

And that's his own voice he's hearing now -- a little bit younger and a lot needy, begging Bruce not to stop, that it's worse when he stops, terrible, and please, Bruce, please don't make me beg for this, please I'll do anything --

"*Jay* --"

"Anything," Jason says, and it shouldn't feel this easy to thrust, shouldn't feel this right to shove himself in and *in*, and this time there's no break in perception, no sense of being outside himself. He's alive in his own body, a twist of something dark and *pulsing*, throbbing for the sound of Tim's cries, the way they've already lost their words again, the way Tim's hand is spasming on his thigh --

Except that now he's holding Tim's wrists, pressing them against the horse --

Not too hard, not too *hard* --

And the ticklish brush against his chest is Tim's hair as he throws his head back, the warmth all through him is the undeniable fact of this, and the way this won't be the only time --

The *promise* that this won't be the only time, because Tim is too good for him, too right and perfect, everything he wants, everything he's *asked* for --

And maybe that was supposed to be his name, but the noise of it --

It's better that it's incomprehensible, because Jason doesn't think he'd be able to fucking *appreciate* language, doesn't think he'd be able to hear --

Oh, God, so fucking *tight* --

Tim comes for him, for *this*, head tilted back far enough that Jason can see the tears at the corners of his eyes, his squeezed-shut eyes --

And he's shouting, helpless, heedless --

He opens his eyes and Jason gasps, groans, but there's no focus there, nothing -- Tim can't see what's on his face, right now, and maybe that's for the best.

Maybe --

*Definitely* grab Tim's hips, because he was slumping, and Jason's not *done* --

"S-sorry --"

"*No*," and he really wishes he could be more specific than that, really -- just now, for this --

To be something more than an *animal* --

And sometimes Bruce would turn away, shift until his face was in shadow until Jason had to haul on him by the fucking *ears* until he could see --

Everything. And Tim isn't worth less, isn't --

It's not *enough* to shift his grip until he has an arm around Tim's chest and Tim is pressed against him as much as possible. There should be something -- "*Tim*," he tries, but there's nothing that comes after that but more of the same, more of him fucking *rutting* as Tim grunts and shakes --

And reaches up to wrap his arms around Jason's *neck*.

"*Tim* --"

"Sorry. I have to. Feel you. Oh my God, Jay, you're -- it's so *much* --"

"I know. I know -- *fuck*, I know, just hold on --"

And he *didn't* mean 'tighten your grip on my neck until I can feel every last one of your new muscles' but it's good, so good, so right it's going to fucking kill him --

Except that he really hadn't *counted* on Tim starting to give it *back* to him, working his hips like he wants it, like -- "*Jesus*, Tim --"

"This. *This* rhythm --"

Jason groans and hopes that counts for an answer, because the only thing he has *left* is the rhythm --

"I think. Perhaps it would be more comfortable on my -- my hands and knees -- *oh*, Jay --"

Biting Tim's *arm*, now, and he's not going to draw blood, Tim shouldn't have to explain --

"I want -- I didn't know I could want so *much*, Jay --"


*Fuck*, he can't --

A stutter in his rhythm and *he's* shaking, it's so good his body doesn't know how to fucking *handle* it, and Tim is still giving it to him, still working those hips --

Fucking *clenching* --

"Please come, Jay. I -- I'm not sure how much --"

And his hand shouldn't be over Tim's mouth, he shouldn't be getting *higher* for that muffled shout, or for the way the next one's higher, better -- *no*. He moves his hand again --

"Nnh -- Jay. I'll try -- to shut up now --"

"Don't, don't shut up, don't -- fucking --"

He's clutching Tim too hard, he's taking too much --

He's coming, and the relief almost buries the pleasure, Tim's body just fucking *takes* him, swallows him --

Tim's mouth and Tim's hands, Tim's arms wrapped around him --

Tim's *body*, and no one else's, and he doesn't have a clue what sounds are coming out of his mouth, but it feels good to let it out, spill everything, show everything --

"*Jay* --"

And the best he can do is hold Tim tight to him as he drops to his knees, tight enough to keep the jar from being too much --

Tim still yelps for it, but Jason just --

Has to breathe. For some reason it's easier to do after he pushes his face against the back of Tim's neck, drags his nose against skin slicked with sweat and Jason's own saliva --

And Tim is petting him. The back of Jason's neck, his hair...

Jason squeezes his eyes shut. "You're trying to comfort me."

"Um. No?"

The laugh comes out low and almost normal-sounding, but Jason knows that has more to do with how little oxygen he's giving himself than with anything else, and --

"Oh. Your. That almost burns. Um. A little," Tim says, and shivers once as Jason traces his hole.

"Yeah, it'll do that. Focus on your breathing for me, because you're *not* going to enjoy the feeling of me pulling out."

"I already know -- that. Ah." Tim pulls his arms from around Jason's neck and sets his hands on his thighs, pulling on his control and maybe his game face --

"Just your breathing for now, Tim. I..." Jason shakes his head and strokes Tim's chest, his throat, the insides of his thighs.

"O-okay. That feels very... good."

"Heh. That wasn't what you were going to say," and Jason drags his short nails up those thighs...

"Well. It's also kind of. I mean it seems. I -- possessive."

Bruce's hands on his back after a fuck that had left him panting and doing everything in his fucking *power* not to whimper -- "Yeah, probably. Keep breathing."

"Of course. I... Jason -- Jay. It only hurt a little... after a while."

"The human body is resilient that way. I didn't want to hurt you with this, at all."

"I -- know that. Now," and Tim turns to look at him, frown line getting deeper -- probably for the fact that he can't see Jason as well as he wants to. And...

"The first few times... I needed to see Bruce. Needed to see his face, see if he was feeling anything like what I was feeling, make *sure*..."

"Yes, that. I -- that."

"You made me come so hard I *fell*, kid -- Tim. I..." Jason shakes his head again and leans in to bite the side of Tim's throat. *Lightly*.

"I -- know you don't want me to say it, or even talk around it, Jason, but that -- it's better that you lost control. It really. Meant something."

Jason closes his eyes and tries to think of a way to change that, blunt it, *alter* it --

And he thinks of the way that other Tim had looked at him before they were fighting in earnest, the way the hollowness and the *need* were obvious enough to make him insane --

He hadn't needed anything to make him insane. He kisses Tim's throat and squeezes him a little before moving his hands back down to Tim's hips. "Are you ready?"

"Yes. I can -- I can do it myself --"

"Let me," Jason says, and wonders why he needs this, too -- no, he knows. He needs something that at least *looks* like control. A little of it, anyway. He pulls Tim off inch by slow inch, and the drag and friction is wonderful, horrible torture for his dick and must feel like getting fucked all over again to Tim --

No, it would be worse than that. A pull that seems to take everything inside you, a shift in the *come* inside you and the knowledge that you're dirty from this, marked by it.

Nothing will be the same --

"There's -- I. *Loss*, Jason. Jay. Um. When *should* I call you Jay?"

Whenever I'm fucking you -- "When we're alone, when you feel like it. Don't do it if it doesn't seem --"

("May I... does anyone ever call you Jay?")

"Natural. I..." Out, and the air feels cold and unforgiving on his dick, on all the moisture -- he looks, and yeah, there's blood, dark and streaked. "Don't be surprised by the blood when you go to the bathroom."

Tim nods. "Is there... a lot?"

"Not as much as there could be, more --" A lot more. "More than I wanted," and when Jason releases Tim's hips, Tim turns immediately, wincing --

Forcing his features to blankness and then, from there, to something like worry. "I'm all right, Jay. That was... very intense?" Tim laughs quietly. "I don't think the words that are coming to mind are adequate."

"Just --" Tell me you'll want it *again*. "C'mon, let's get you cleaned up."

Tim nods and stands, steady on his feet -- and very clearly determined to stay that way. Jason follows him to the bathroom because he has to, feeling ridden by something nameless and impossibly heavy until they're both in the old tub and the water is sheeting cold on them both -- no, wait.

"Don't get your hair wet --"

"I know. I -- I know," Tim says, and the smile on his face is cautious and a little horrible, because he's *feeling* all the ways Jason is fucked up in his head, right now, and --

Jason grabs the soap out of Tim's hand and lathers Tim up, focusing only on getting him clean, getting him *right* again. His dick is soft and vulnerable, his sac loose and even softer in ways Jason doesn't think he's capable of describing. Better to crouch down and take care of his legs while the water finally warms to something comfortable and Tim --

Stands steady. Quiet.

Jason squeezes his eyes shut -- stops. "What's on your mind."

"You don't seem. When I thought of you doing this -- er, not the washing part, because that really didn't come up. Ah -- I had been... thinking that you might be. Happier."

For fucking a kid too lonely and screwed-up to know that he was supposed to run the fuck *away* from people like him? *Really*? Jason looks up from washing Tim's feet with his eyebrows raised --

"It really *did* seem like a reasonable assumption to *make*, Jason. The endorphins alone --"

"I'm high on getting off. Your ass was gripping me so tight I saw fucking *stars*, kid -- Tim." Jason shakes his head. "That wasn't right."

"I disagree."

"Tim --"

"I *disagree*. You -- you're making me into *Robin*, Jay, and that --"

"Means you should be prepared to bend over any time your teacher wants? What the fuck kind of dojo did you *go* to, anyway?"

Tim's laugh is brief and -- angry. "You know that's not what I mean. I -- obviously you think you did something wrong with me, and I suppose that curious expression on your face means that you're hating yourself for it, but -- you already pointed out how unattractive that is. I --" Tim turns around and gives Jason his back. "It's just that I'm not sure what to do with that other than to -- disagree."

"You're too fucking *young* --"

"If I'm not too young to slice off parts of a man's face or to, perhaps, kill someone, I can't possibly be too young for sex," Tim says, pedantic and *even*.

Even as a fucking level, which means... something. Jason slips soapy fingers into Tim's cleft --

"Oh -- that's. Extraordinarily embarrassing, actually."

Jason snorts. "Distracts from the pain, I bet."

"There's that. Ah... Jason, I really am all *right*. You don't have to... I mean, *are* you beating yourself up?"

"Be confident. *Go* with those deductions," and Jason can't hold back all of the smile as he soaps Tim's back.

"Well -- all right. You're beating yourself up, probably *because* you lost control and hurt me, but you were already planning to fuck me at *some* point. You wouldn't have had me buy that toy, otherwise --"

"I *might've* just been giving idle hands something to do," Jason says, and pulls and pushes Tim until he's under the water, tilting his head back to keep his hair out of the stream and generally looking like something Jason *wants* --

"You weren't. You wanted it. Something... something about me, or maybe about your memories *made* you want it, and you don't deny yourself things like that unless there's a good, Mission-related reason. It's just not the way you work."

"And how *do* I work?"

"Your emotions and your... physicality play a role in the decisions you make, but that doesn't mean you don't think. You have very clear ideas of right and wrong -- clear enough to be frightening to other people, and that doesn't always bother you. It doesn't even *often* bother you. You... you want me to be absolutely clear about *everything* this life entails, so much that it's more like a need some of the time. It's mostly about making me into the best Robin I can be, but you also *do* see me as young and vulnerable at least some of the time, and you can't help wanting to protect me," and Tim turns a little to face him. "You're a good man."

"Don't --"

"You *are*, Jason, and maybe it's wrong that you wanted to fuck me, and that you wanted to fuck me like *that*, but it doesn't feel that way. I feel... settled in my own skin in a way I never have before -- and part of you knew *that* would happen, too." Tim strokes his body with his hands, wiping away soap residue. I just -- you can give me a gentler touch without resorting to *kid gloves*, Jay."

Jason traces the scars on Tim back and breathes, thinks -- "And what if I *can't* give you a gentler touch?"

"Then I learn to take what you *can* give me. I -- it won't be hard, Jay. I'll never forget what you did to me, what you made me feel. And I'll never forget that when I asked -- you gave."

Asked. *Gave* --

"Or -- all right. When I *demanded* -- at knifepoint..." Tim laughs again. "There's something to be said for... ah. Consistency of tone."

And there's really nothing to do with that other than to spin Tim around to face him and pull him close, to *know* the feeling of Tim stiffening in surprise and, perhaps, apprehension, before the deliberate relaxation -- and the slim, hard arms wrapped around Jason's waist.

("Your father... I promise you, Jay, I'll never lie to you again, never hold anything *back*.")

And he hadn't. Not one single, solitary thing. No matter how much less fucked up it would've been if he had.

"I *am* yours, Jay. And that means... whatever we let it mean."

Jason pushes back and raises his eyebrows. "Not whatever *I* want it to mean?"

The smile is wet again, *sly* again -- and that's definitely a hand on his balls. "I'm sure you're right, Jason. I don't know what I was thinking."

Right. That -- is a whole lot of answers at once. Jason reaches down and grips Tim's wrist until the bones grind together a little --

And Tim lets go. "I suppose we can wait for another time?"

"You -- get a couple of nights off from fucking yourself, Tim. And a couple of days of not even *mentioning* anal in my presence."

Tim raises his own eyebrow. "It was that good."

Jason lets go of Tim's wrist and smacks him -- *lightly* upside the head. "It was fantastic. I wouldn't be this fucked up about it if it wasn't, so stop asking."

Tim -- nods solemnly. "Perhaps next time --"

"Tim --"

"I -- all right," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. And shifts his shoulders in an odd gesture --

No, it's not odd, at all. It's just that there's no gi in the way of seeing it -- and no gi to rub and scrape against his light little knife scars. And why, exactly, is that *less* upsetting than Tim actually wanting to be fucked again? It's a question for another time. For --

That was the longest conversation they've ever had. *That* --


Jason washes up quickly, aware of Tim's eyes on him, Tim's *focus* on the body he's known was attractive from nearly the beginning of his puberty, for better or worse. He lets Tim scrub his back, and then he sends Tim to towel off and dress while he gives in to the urge to wash himself again.

The water runs clean, and he steps out in time -- Tim would've made sure of it, he knows -- to see Tim hitching on his backpack and heading for the door.

"Tonight," Jason says, and lets himself drip on the old cement floor.

Tim nods and goes.


The Tailor's work is perfect -- better than spec in terms of the armor at the lower spine which still leaves room for Tim's knife. He makes Tim practice pulling it in various positions, in the middle of various moves --

He makes Tim *move* in the suit, and watching that --

It feels like Gotham is reaching in through the cracks in the insulation, like the night is right there *waiting* even though it's not quite sundown, like --

"Faster," he says, and Tim pulls his staff, leaping and tumbling, rolling and twisting --

He's fighting a shadow-gang again, and sometimes Jason thinks it's his favorite thing to do --

But then he thinks about what it was like to have Tim on the *street* these past few nights -- still without his suit -- when there've been *real* gangs to take out -- after Jason had taken care of the few guns. Tim likes:

Breaking jaws.

Shattering kneecaps.

Breaking *hands*, which -- mm. He has a gift for remembering which of the targets are right or left-handed, and for making a point of *destroying* the hands in question with his staff.

Tim likes --

Last night, Jason had backed out of a knife-fight and let Tim wade in with his own knives. He'd pulled out the stops a little *too* much for his own stamina, and the fight had lasted seconds before their target was bleeding on the ground, coughing and crying and gripping the ruin of his scrotum.

Tim likes destroying pimps *just* as much as Jason does, and it's beautiful to watch.

Just -- beautiful --

Cape tangling at Tim's neck and shoulder --

Tim growls and moves into a spin with his staff, backing up and waiting, obviously, for Jason's advice. "Think of it -- your shape with the cape is larger and more fluid. You like physics -- go with it."

"Larger. Fluid," and Tim nods and goes back into his shadow-play -- and now he's treating the cape almost like back-up, spinning and moving in ways that would make the quickest eye doubt just where the actual body *is*.

"Yeah, nice --"

Tim leaps, striking down with the staff and using the cape --

"No, you could get grabbed that way. You want more of a tumble in the air."

"I -- am beginning to want a shorter cape."

Heh, probably. "You *will* get this. Trust me."

"I do," Tim says, and it sounds like a lot more than that --

It *always* sounds like a lot more than that, and Jason's afraid that he's getting used to it. That he's -- weakening? Softening? It's damned fucking *hard* to look at Tim *doing* this and not want... more.

More of absolutely *everything*, *because* it's there for the taking. All his, and knowing that he'd bypassed Tim's natural sense of security and self, knowing that he'd gotten *all* the way in --


He's thus far managed to avoid fucking Tim in his parents' house -- he just doesn't *trust* himself not to rip out any gag he uses -- and that means everywhere *in* this place has become somewhere with distinct and wonderful possibilities.

Tim had given him a brief lesson in pederasty when he'd taken Tim's thighs while they were on the mats, laughing all the way through it.

Tim had fucking *crooned* for him the last time Jason had sucked him off, petting Jason's hair and somehow managing to stay *still* right up until Jason had urged him to fuck his mouth -- and he'd had Tim up on his work-table again.

On his bed, up in the loft, and he hadn't managed to strip Tim out of *all* of the uniform. There'd been armor under his hands when he'd stroked up to Tim's shoulders, and skin when he'd given up everything and cupped Tim's hips, skin when he'd stroked Tim back to hardness, heat and *friction* as he'd fucked his way in, so far *in* while Tim cried out and *shook* --

He's *pretty* sure there's no part of Tim thinking about sex right now, as opposed to the problem of his calf-length cape, but there's only so far down thoughts like that can be *buried* at Tim's age...

Which just begs the question of what *his* excuse is --

And what Bruce's had been, of course.

("Please don't say no to me, Jay, not when I can smell you, taste you in the air -- please.")

Tim is always ready for him, always ready to set training aside for a quickie -- or something a lot more involved.

His fingers know the inside of Tim's body and so does his dick. He can call up the taste of Tim's mouth in a heartbeat, as well as the sound of every last noise Tim has given him, from the terrifyingly helpless whimpers, high enough to make something inside Jason *seize*, to the low, groaning growls when Jason goes too slowly, too -- gently. Which is not to say he isn't accepting of those touches, but --

Tim knows what Jason *likes*, knows what takes Jason out of his head until he's just slamming in, thrust after thrust, bite after *bite* --

Maybe. *Maybe* he can ease things back a little bit by pulling his knife on Tim the next time he's balls deep and wanting to adjust, waiting to remember all those good things he tells himself about making it slow and easy...

*That* would make Tim stay still instead of rocking back against him --

"Still no. You're overcompensating for the weight of the cape -- hm. *Is* it getting to you?"

Tim puts his staff up into a spin and works himself around, shifting his shoulders, pushing up on his toes -- "It's noticeable, but -- I don't think so? I'm strong enough for it."

And he's not just saying that to keep Jason happy, because he'd beaten that out of him months back, now... hm. "You need crossfire training."

"I -- yes," Tim says, and moves into one of the staff-centric katas. "I don't suppose you've had any ideas on how to do that without Bruce...?"

Only if he goes to *Dick* for it, to the Titans... and then he might as well *be* going to Bruce. Jason shakes his head. "I know how to pump you full of bullets, and how to *miss* you. I *have* rubber bullets to make up for any mistakes -- or fucking *innovations* -- you make..."

"But it can't be here. I -- in retrospect I really am surprised that it never occurred to me that Bruce would have a training space underground."

Jason nods and thinks about the satellite Caves -- and the fact that he *doesn't* know for sure how to disable all the alarms. "It just has to keep waiting."

Tim nods. "You think... crossfire training will help me learn to use the cape?"

"I *know* it will. That's how Bruce trained me *and* Dick, even though our capes were much shorter. No, for now you go out without it."

"And keep riding... bitch."

Heh. "You *could* just call it 'pillion,' you know."

Tim manages to make the spin of his staff both rude and challenging. "Just as soon as you start thinking of it that way," he says, and taps the mats twice with the butt. "Show me how to use it in a fight situation again?"

Oh, yeah. "Done."


There's something obscene, something *naked* about the look of Tim on the street when he's all suited up *except* for the cape. It's something in the spare and desperately lean lines of his body, in the gelled stiffness of his hair -- less extreme than the pictures he'd seen of that other Tim once upon a time, but still hard enough to keep his hair out of his face entirely.

It's just a little aerodynamic, and Jason can't decide if he wants to tell Tim to just get his hair *cut* or to keep it just like it is. There's a rightness to the way it looks with the reds, blacks, and golds of his uniform...

Jason doesn't know.

He looks *good*, and Jason can't ever bring himself to make Tim stay on the bike while he tenderizes the targets for him. Let him get close, let him *watch* the way Jason leaves the targets healthier and healthier so that Tim can get as much practice as possible --

It's not practice anymore. Not really.

Not when Tim's only response to a *surprise* gun in this latest clutch of dealers is to knock the thing right out of the guy's hand and kick in his ribs before turning to the rest.

Not when Tim's flights are even and precise -- brutal when he sends the steel in his boots right into another dealer's face --

And not when he carves up the faces of a couple of asshole fratboys -- by the look -- who were taking out their frustrations on one of the girls from down on Simone.

It's patrol with a *partner*, and Jason's all set to think it's as good as it's *going* to get -- except that Tim stops him from nearly getting brained with a garbage can lid by a guy who *should've* been dropped by his stab wound. No shout and no hesitation -- just two strikes to the back of the guy's head and one seriously unconscious motherfucker. And all the confidence he needs to go back to punishing the guy's buddies --

Tim gasps, but there are knives out, now, and Jason doesn't want to risk dividing his attention again. He can take care of himself. If he can't, he knows the code words --

Two batarangs, two assholes with stinging hands and the clatter of knives hitting the pavement. Oh --

Shit, because his *body* recognizes the feel of *that* gauntleted hand in his collar, that rush of the world moving past his peripheral vision -- and yeah, he's bouncing against a wall.

Tim is just about free of the bolo around his ankles, and -- focus. "Batman. Are you gonna finish these two off or are you just planning to fuck everything but the -- heh -- family reunion?"

"Who *are* you."

That voice. That *voice* -- and the cowl is right, the suit, the feel of the man's *energy*, like a wall pressing down from every direction at once --

Except that the edges are ragged as *fuck*. There's a smell the armor only gets when it's been used too long, and Bruce doesn't have stubble as much as the beginnings of a *beard* --

"Fucking *cope*, *Batman* --"

Except that Tim's up and dealing with the other two dealers handily. And -- Bruce is letting him.

"Or not," Jason says, and deliberately relaxes as much as he can when there's a large, fucked up man trying to lift him by his shirt --

"They're all unconscious," Tim says, quiet and sure. "Batman, it's *him* --"

"Tim Drake. You've been watching me. This is *not* the way to acquire my attention --"

"On the street -- you call me *Robin*."

And it's not like the uniform doesn't have the R-shuriken right there, not like Tim doesn't look every fucking *inch* Robin -- *including* the knife in his hand that he'd used on the bolo --

But Batman -- *Bruce* -- is managing to look shaken and seriously confused. Which...

Had Jason waited too long? Is he too far gone? "Snap *out* of it, *Bruce*. Take a DNA sample from me and go on home, because Robin and I? Have *got* this."

Hesitation -- *need* --

But then he's bouncing against the wall again -- and *hurriedly* giving Tim the stand-down signal --

"You." Bruce snarls and *rips* Jason's domino off --

"Mother*fuck* --"

"Your mother's eyes. Your. Who *are* you?"

"I'm *me*. Just from a different universe," Jason says, and -- Bruce *lets* Jason shove him back --

And twists Tim's knife out of his fingers --

"That's *mine* --"

"It is, B. I trained him to use it, myself. I trained *him*, myself. Everything you taught me that I could reasonably share -- and everything I picked up from... heh. Other people."

"The League of Assassins," Bruce says, gritting it out like maybe it'll cut his tongue open if he's not careful.

"Among others," Jason says, and straightens his jacket. And gestures at the knife Bruce is just letting *dangle* from his fingers.

"This *isn't* appropriate --"

"Neither is your lack of control, Batman," Tim says, and shoulders his way between them. "You've lost yourself. You've lost sight of the *Mission*. And right now you're acting more like someone with a nasty case of the DTs than the trained vigilante you are."

That -- Jason bites back the laugh --

Jason watches Bruce *hear* it just the same, watches him *feel* it --

He shakes it off. "Listen to the kid, why don't you? He's pretty fucking smart, B -- and he's your new partner."

"I don't *have* a -- open your mouth."

"And say 'ah?' Or something dirtier? Truer? Dad...?" Jason gives himself one more *moment* to smirk, and then opens his mouth for the cheek swab, trying like hell not to pay too much attention to the way Bruce's hands are shaking, the way his breathing is fucked *beyond* all recognition... "Go *home*. Run the results --"

"Take a shower. And a *nap*," Tim says, and --

Yeah. "Seriously, B. You're making a *terrible* first impression on Robin."

"He's *not* --"

Bruce turns and flies, using his cape just like he's the man he's supposed to be, the legend --

In flight.

And Tim's knife is wedged in a two-by-four. Jason yanks it out and hands it back, noting Tim testing the edge with a frown on his face and watching --

Just watching.

"He's unstable."

"No doubt."

"J... I don't think. He's not *safe*."

"And who are you trying to protect, exactly...?"

Tim doesn't have an answer for that, but Jason can't make Batman out of all the other darkness and shadows, anymore.

He shakes his head and turns to Tim, resting his hands on Tim's shoulders and *feeling* a need to tell Tim to look up even though he already is. Call it dimension-lag. "He was never safe. To anyone -- but especially not to the people he's closest to."

"He -- he didn't even --" Tim frowns and shakes *his* head.

"What? Worried that he didn't pay enough attention to you? Heh. He knew who you *were*, which means that he fucking *felt* those eyes of yours on him that last party."

If anything, that makes Tim frown *harder* --

"Hey, remember who he *is*. Remember the fact that he's been training to *be* this since before you were *born*. He knew you couldn't do anything to take him, and so he treated you like a secondary issue. Which -- for him, right *now* -- you are."

"I don't -- I don't *need* his *attention*."

And that -- is the heart of things. "You will, R. You really, really will --"

"J --"

"Just trust me -- and start *preparing* yourself for the feeling. You're an unknown quantity right now, but... that won't last."

"He ran *away*. He -- he let us *send* him away --"

"And he made a godawful first impression, yeah. Look at it this way -- part of him was working well enough to know that the two of us can do more good than harm. *Part* of him was watching us for just that long -- and that means he was watching *you*. He *could've* decided to drag your ass back to your parents."

Tim shudders -- *just* the way he should.

Jason squeezes his shoulders again. "Not that I would've *let* that happen --" And he's struck, sudden and *hard*, by the *fact* that he just might've been able to *take* Bruce tonight. Take him without getting too badly hurt *himself* --

Fucking A, Bruce --

Jason shakes it off internally. "Anyway. Just wait until he *does* get a good night's sleep or two. And be *ready*."

"Yes... yes, J."

Jason nods and claps Tim's shoulders. "Let's hit it. The whole city is ours, right now."

Tim sheathes his knife and nods back.

They roll.


It's a little on the late side when he drops Tim off, and it's too hard not to *feel* him. Just -- thrumming with everything they'd done that night, everything he'd seen and everything he *knows* right now --

Jason follows Tim in and kisses him hard, taking some of that energy for himself until he can feel it, too.

He pulls back and helps Tim strip down, and he's silent except for his breathing, except for sharp little hums that are barely *louder* than breaths.

"You can feel it, can't you?"

"I feel -- ah. A lot. A lot of things I'm not sure about," Tim says, stepping *back* so he can take his belt off as carefully as Jason had taught him, and it just makes Jason itch to have him *closer*.

"The ground's shifting under your feet a little --"

"*Yes*. I -- Jay, he's not supposed to be --"

"Just a man...?" Jason smiles and hooks his fingers in Tim's waistbands.

"He's not supposed to just be a man like *that*," Tim says, toeing off his boots --

Jason shoves the tights and shorts down to Tim's thighs, and lets himself pause to cup Tim through the boxer-briefs his parents almost certainly haven't noticed that he's started wearing. "He needs you."

"He needs *something*."

"You're gonna bring him *back*," Jason says, squeezing *hard* when Tim shakes his head. "You're *gonna* bring him *back*."

"He doesn't even *see* me, Jay --"

"Oh, yeah he does. You're already in there a little. Enough that he recognized you, put *some* of the little pieces together... heh. *Naked*."

Tim steps back again and finishes stripping, tucking the uniform away because it didn't get dirty enough for Jason to take it -- and how grateful is he for every moment spent figuring out just how Alfred did what he did when he did it? But --

It won't be long before Alfred's doing it *again*, before Tim is just another one of Alfred's *charges*. Another black-haired, blue-eyed boy, another Robin, another --

Another *moment* to feel Tim slipping away from him. It's right and it's the way it has to *be*, but it still feels like several different kinds of necessary to walk Tim back to his bed with one hand on his shoulder and the other wrapped around Tim's *dick*.

He's got his own damned glove between his teeth --

He spits it out on the duvet and starts to stroke, looking *deep* into those hot and cold flashing blue eyes and seeing hunger, lust, fear, doubt, need -- "*With* me, Tim --"

"Always. *Always*," and maybe it shouldn't feel better once Tim closes his eyes, but it does. There's that trust and that *need*, the sense of Tim giving himself into Jason's -- hands.

All the more reason to push Tim down and take off his *other* glove --

Tim pulls his knees back to his chest and fucking well *asks* for what he wants, and --

Why not? He's taken everything else, *had* everything else --

And there's a part of him which only wants to call that a lie, which throws up image after image of Tim tied up and tied *down*, Tim bleeding and Tim over his lap --

But the basics, the body-to-body...

"On your belly for me -- no, wait. Hands and knees."

Tim flashes him a smile that only feels like it should be illegal because it *is*. Just --

"What the hell are you doing with a nineteen year old *boyfriend*, kid?"

"Hopefully achieving orgasm... relatively soon," Tim says, laughing *under* his voice and settling on his hands and knees nice and *pretty*.

Had Bruce stopped by here before following them? Would he have had the time? Wanted to be sure that he recognized *that* jawline, those cheekbones?

Would he come back out to visit?

It wouldn't take Bruce long to prepare the sample for testing...

But right *now*, Bruce is only here in *spirit*. Jason spreads Tim's cheeks and takes a nice, *long* lick --

"*Oh*. Jason --"

"I used to hate when he did this to me," Jason says, lips and tongue moving against that tight little hole, his favorite little hole -- "I'm still not sure how I feel about it."

"Um. Neither am I?"

"Heh. Reserve *judgment*," and Jason takes another lick, another, circles Tim's hole and stabs in against the clench, against the feel of Tim shuddering for him --

"Oh. God. That's so -- I don't -- I don't *know*."

"Uh, huh. Kinda heats you up all over, but *not* the way other sex does. It's more... mm. A humid day, a sense of yourself being exactly as dirty as you *are* --"

"I -- *yes*. I should. Maybe if I showered?"

"Nuh-uh. It's better this way. I can *taste* your sweat -- and your tight little ass," Jason says, slipping in again and just staying there for a little while, working his tongue in short little motions --

"Nnh -- ah. I. Fuck. Oh, fuck. Jason. Jay. Please?"

Jason pushes in as deep as he *can* --

"*Please* -- fuck. I -- don't want to be loud. Don't want -- Jason, could you -- Jay, why do you want this?"

Jason pulls out with a *slurp* --

Tim shudders and clenches for him, hole looking so sweet --

Jason goes back in for a nice, hard kiss, pulling Tim's cheeks apart as far as they'll go, far enough that his taint has to feel tight and vulnerable, like something that could *tear* --

"Oh, *God*, Jay -- I. Please, please. Please -- fuck me, or -- something, I can't --"

"I want this," Jason says, pulling back to *breathe* on Tim, "because I haven't had it before. Because I need you to feel everything *I've* felt. Because... you need to be *ready*. And I need you to be ready, need you to... mm. You were so *fucking* good tonight..."

"Always. Always want to be good for you --"

"You didn't take *anything*, and Bruce is gonna remember that, Tim. He'll *always* know he can't get away with anything with you."

"I -- *good*. He *can't*. I -- Jason, please. More?"

"My tongue? Sure," and Jason shoves back in --

Tim moans and shifts, pulling -- yeah, he's trying to get away, and then forcing himself to relax, and then trying to get away *again* --

Good *boy*, and Jason's hips want to move, Jason's hips *are* moving, and the jock is getting to be the kind of torture he fucking *lived* for once upon a time, when the night was fresh and new --

He doesn't need the torture right *now*. He pulls back long enough to free himself, and then just lets himself hang while he opens Tim up again, licks him and fucks him and thinks about Bruce doing *just* this -- to *Tim*, not himself.

Would Tim make those noises? Little *crooning* noises like maybe Jason is soothing as much as he's fucking. It's -- he *can* imagine Tim being silent for it save for his breathing, but he knows that would just drive Bruce a little crazy, make him do something like --

Oh, like -- *this*, and shoving his thumb in beside his tongue may have been the best idea he's had all *night*, because Tim's clenching over and over now, clawing at the duvet until it makes that kind of *sleek* sound, whispery and electric. *Tim's* noises are croons broken up with gasping little *sharp* noises, high-pitched and terrible, perfect --

Tim's voice is never going to *be* all that deep, and Jason thinks that's one of the reasons he can take this, *deal* with it --

Jason knows that's not even close to the whole of it, knows that *he* was turned, once upon a time...

And he's fucking Tim steadily now, using his thumb to open Tim *wider*, and to maybe make this easier. A little pain, a little *hurt* --

"Jay -- Jay, I'm going to -- I don't -- oh, please make me *come* --"

When you ask so *nicely*...

Jason uses his thumb to fuck Tim in *counterpoint* with his tongue, digs his fingers in against those hips again until maybe there'll be new bruises, new *proof* that this is his, even if nothing else can be --

Oh, Bruce --

Tim's noises get fractionally louder and infinitely more uncontrolled, and the smell of his sweat is high in the air, mild and thick at once --

*Sex*, and Jason can feel himself leaking pre-come, feel himself *needing* to give himself a squeeze -- or something better.

Not now. Not until he can make Tim lose it for him, give it *all* up for him --

And the shaking is a good start, the feel of Tim teetering right on that sweet, sweet *edge*. He wants to tell Tim to hold his breath. He wants to choke Tim again, press his thumbs in against the back of Tim's neck and hold Tim's head against the bed while he *fucks* his way in, and never mind lube --

No, Tim's not ready for that kind of fuck, yet, and won't be for a *long* time. Maybe long past the time when he has to move on --

And he's not thinking about that right now, not thinking of Tim's denial or anything but the need, the energy, the *power* of this, because Tim's *working* his hips now, trying to get more --

"Just like that," Jason says, slurring and grinning when it makes Tim *gurgle* for him --

So *fucking* good, and Jason has to add this to the list of things he'll be doing to Tim as much as he can, as much as he *wants* -- but.

He pulls back. "Come for me. Come from *this*."

"Ah -- *hnh*. You -- oh, God, please, Jay, please don't stop again, *please* --"

Faster and *harder* then, and Tim's such a good boy, such a good *fuck* the way he's clenching deliberately now, trying and *failing* to do it rhythmically as he pants and squirms, writhes and shakes --

Jason pulls his thumb out and grabs Tim's sac instead, *pumping* it in his fist until Tim's noises start getting dangerous, start getting *broad* somehow, coming from deep in his chest --

And getting muffled -- with his own wrist, by the sound, and it feels like Jason's hard enough to *kill* someone, right now, but he knows the only casualty will be himself, his sense of pride, his *idea* of himself as someone with anything that could be considered *control* --

"*Ohn* --"

And the sound goes on and on as Tim's clenches lose anything like coherency, as they seem to get hooked *in* to all those shudders --

*Tight* clench -- and the silence that means Tim's orgasm had hit him *just* that hard. Jason tongues him through it and just a little bit more, aching a little for the way Tim's hole just *relaxes* for him --

But there'd been more blood last time. He'd promised not until *tomorrow* at the earliest --

And he can't keep himself from growling for that -- especially since it makes Tim tense up and try to spread his legs wider -- mm.

Jason pulls back and gives himself the squeeze he's been needing, thinks about jerking off on Tim's back, about nestling himself in that sweet little cleft -- except that that *would* lead to him fucking Tim again. "On your back."

Tim does it -- and pulls his knees up to his chest. And raises an eyebrow.

Jason smiles and shakes his head. "Legs down."

Tim licks his lips and does it, and then swipes come from his abdomen and brings it to his mouth.

"Ooh, I do like *you*. Or are you just doing that to make *sure* I know that your mouth is an option available to me?"

The eyebrow gets a little higher and there's a *twitch* at the corner of that mouth. That *sucking* mouth.

"Uh, huh. I hear you. But... tonight was special. And I know how I want to celebrate," Jason says, and pulls his kris, watching Tim's eyes follow the gleam of streetlights on it before Tim looks up into Jason's eyes and pushes up onto his elbows. "Yeah, like that."

"I... if I may make a suggestion?"

Ooh, some more. "Go right on ahead, freakboy. I'm listening."

And Tim settles on his right elbow and traces his left pec. Right where the 'R' goes.

"Heh. Thinking of something permanent?"

"Perhaps something more abstract than representational... but yes, I'd like to feel it even when I'm not wearing it."

"I *could* say something here about how there'll come a day when you won't be able to *stop* feeling it, no matter how much you *want* to --"

"I have my doubts... about the latter part of that statement," Tim says, and settles back on both elbows again. "Which is not to say that I don't trust you."

Too much. *Just* enough. And a part of Jason can already smell Tim's blood. Yeah, he's doing this. "What's your excuse for the bandage?"

Tim narrows his eyes for a moment -- "I was making myself some pasta and dropped the pot. Boiling water splashed me."

Jason thinks about it... good enough, especially since there'll be no way Tim *can* explain the actual scars, and --

They've *already* reached the point where Tim won't be able to go shirtless without questions being raised. Hm.

"What *do* you do about gym class?"

"A t-shirt under my clothes at all times. I never take it off."

Jason nods and lets himself live in the *satisfaction* for a moment, the warmth that goes straight for his dick but doesn't leave the rest of his body cold, at all. He slices a three-inch arc right above Tim's nipple, echoing the curve of the areola and watching Tim's eyes narrow again, watching the blood well and drip.

Another arc above it, and the feel of the skin's slight resistance transmits itself through the blade, through the handle --

Jason grunts and makes one more slice above *that*, flipping the knife next to Tim's mouth so he can lick --

And watch Jason with steady, *burning* eyes. "Yours," Tim says, and makes a point of licking his lips, smearing blood there and making his mouth look that much more beautiful, perfect --

"Good boy."

"What you made me."

Jason's dick twitches and there's no reason whatsoever not to let the groan out. He'd gone too *fast*. There's nothing more he wants to do right now -- no, that's a lie. There's a *lot* more he wants to do right now, but the fact of the matter is that Tim only *has* a limited amount of skin -- and he has to be careful about scarring him badly enough that the skin won't stretch as he grows.

Jason tucks the knife away and pushes Tim flat, one hand splayed on Tim's chest with blood trickling down by his pinky and ring finger. They have to be careful of blood stains --

Which is all the more reason to lean in and *lick*, fast to get the excess, slow for Tim's whimpering moan, for his own rising -- fucking *spiraling* -- awareness of the taste, the metal-shear *stink* --


Right here, he doesn't have to say. Right *here*, and he sucks at the deepest cut, resisting the urge to try to shove his tongue *in* -- Tim's already going to have to disinfect the hell out of these cuts.

"You -- I wish I knew --" Tim sighs and arches, beneath him, moans --

Jason pulls back for just long enough to say "tell me," before leaning back in and *dragging* his lips over the cuts, aching for the way smooth skin breaks, the way blood touches and *runs* --

"I don't -- I feel I *should* want to mark *you*. I... I mean, I do, but it's more that I want to bite you that hard, or suck you that hard, or --" Tim's laugh is quiet and low. "Or actually get a *blow* in during one of our spars."

Jason nods and strokes down Tim's side to his hip, lifting it because he can --

"Oh, I -- am not saying everything. Which is a pretty passive aggressive thing *for* me to say, but. Jay. Jay..."

Jason gives Tim the continue gesture...

"It's just that I love this. I love that you want this, that I can give it to you... I love that you can *change* my body for your own... your own *pleasure*. It's almost better than all the training."

Jason hums and thinks about starting a spar with Tim *on* the balance beam, about tossing Tim down to the mats and just rubbing himself off on every *convenient* stretch of Tim's skin, about teaching Tim how to fucking *vamp* as a woman --

He'd actually look a little like *Catwoman* --

Jason swallows back the laugh and thinks about Bruce gagging for this, for everything *Tim* can give him. Look what I made for you. *Need* what I made for you --

"I wonder. Ah -- should I be reading up about other... kinks? Are there other... I mean. I'd like to be tied up, sometime. For something other than escape artistry training --"

"We'll do it," Jason says, and his voice is low, dark and heavy and *needy* --

"Oh, Jay. You're so -- you want so *much* right now --"

"You can feel it."

"*Yes*. I -- I know you said we had to wait again --"

"I'm not fucking you again tonight. Because I could either do it as hard as I want and risk *seriously* hurting you, or I could just frustrate myself -- and you, too."

Tim frowns, bites his lip -- nods.

Jason takes a good, *hard* look at Tim's mouth -- and another at his chest. He's still *leaking*, but it's not enough to risk the comforter all that much. Jason kneels up and sits on his heels. "Suck me."

Tim makes a little *purring* sound and shifts until his head is in Jason's lap. "Fast or slow?"

Jason closes his eyes, but there's no getting away from his internal clock. "Fast," he says, and cups the back of Tim's head, letting himself feel the curve of his skull, the broken spikes of his hair, the fuzz on the back of his neck --

And the wet, sweet *heat* of Tim's mouth. Not as tight as it could be, not quite as *hot* as where he wants to be --

And then Tim's sucking, licking, and *working* his head, fucking *smoking* Jason's dick, and Jason can't keep the gasp in and doesn't *want* to do a damned thing about the sigh.

"You are *so* good --"

Tim hums and goes *all* the way down for a *hot* little second, taking Jason in so *deep* --

"Oh, yeah, Tim. You --" Jason grits out a laugh as Tim pulls back. "Little tease. And you already know that *wasn't* a complaint."

Another hum and Tim goes back to working himself, wrapping a hand around the base and squeezing --

And yeah, there's that hand on his sac, teasing and tugging, pressing and squeezing --

Jason lets his head fall back and closes his eyes, giving in and giving *up*, because this is exactly as good as it should be, as close to right as any of this is likely to *get*.

His mouth is full of the taste of Tim's blood, and his body is humming, skin sparking and itching with fresh sweat until he pumps his hips and the itch becomes just another part of the burn, the sickly-dangerous fever heat running through him --

But he has to *see*, and maybe that need was just another way the energy between them is working them both, because Tim is looking up, staring and studying his reactions...

Jason pets Tim's cheek, his swelling lips --

Jason pumps once, again --

Again and Tim swallows him *right* down, making Jason grunt and try to push deeper, try to *bury* himself --

God, he wants Tim's *sounds*. The hums and choked-off groans aren't enough, not when he knows what he *can* have. The proof that this is as fucked up as it is, as necessary as it is -- something --

Tim pulls *back*, but only for long enough to take three quick *shots* of air in through his nose --

*Down* again, and Jason lets himself pump and thrust, breaks more of Tim's spikes and then just strokes around, teasing his palm with Tim's fucking *hairstyle* until it's loose enough for a grip --

A *pull* --

An *indignant* hum that makes him laugh --

Gasp --

Thrust *faster* until he's slipping in and out of Tim's throat, and Tim's just holding himself *open* for it, holding his *breath* --

"Jesus, yes," Jason says, and his voice is too rough, too *hard* --

That hand on his sac is fucking *vicious* --

"Use your *teeth*, Tim --" And now Jason is grunting, fucking hissing, yanking hard on that fine hair and wanting to lick away the taste of Tim's fucking *product*, wanting to pull out and flip Tim onto his back, bend those legs back and fuck Tim so hard he screams again, screams this fucking *house* down --

And Tim's free hand is on Jason's thigh, scratching and petting --

Tim's cheeks are flushed red and his hips are pumping against the bed because this is a *turn-on*, this is --

So perfect --

Jason slams in *hard*, feeling Tim swallow around him, feeling him drool and shake --

And the orgasm fucking *yanks* him out of his body, leaving just a fucking *shred* of his mind to deal with the feel of Tim's want, the feel of his own pleasure --

Sweet, so sweet --

The inside of his lip is bleeding because he's biting down *just* that hard, and the tastes were always supposed to mingle, always --

Back into his body and Jason gasps, chokes back the shout and feels himself spill once more --

Twice --

Jason hauls Tim off and *up*, and it's *just* possible that there's something wrong for him loving the way blood and come mingle in his mouth, but right about now...

He doesn't *give* a rat's ass.

It only takes one pull to make Tim straddle Jason's thighs, and then -- damn, he still has his body armor on, and even through the buzz he can't bring himself to strip down the rest of the way. He has to let Tim *sleep* --

And he *has* to get him off. Mm.

He pulls out of the kiss and *lifts* Tim until he's standing up on the mattress and looking down at Jason on his knees. Heh. And *how* long since he'd been in this position?


Jason laughs a little and strokes his way up Tim's thighs, squeezing them -- "Spread a little more."

Tim does it --

"And I was thinking about all the ways you're *not* Bruce," and Jason reaches between Tim's legs and presses two fingers up behind his balls --

"Oh -- I. More diffuse. More -- I'm sorry, Jason, I -- I could try --"

"I don't *want* you to be Bruce, Tim. If nothing else -- heh. You smell a *lot* better than he did tonight," Jason says, leaning in and taking a *good* whiff. Fresh sweat, dick, male, and Jason thinks he can *maybe* also smell that thing which makes Tim so young --

Bruce would be able to smell it. Bruce would be able to *describe* it --

"Just wait 'til you see him in the shower, see all that muscle, all that hair and those scars --"

"I want *you*, Jason --"

"It's my *job*," and Jason grabs Tim's hips and rocks him back and forth a little, "to make you ready for as many different things as I can. And *nobody* as *thoroughly* queer as you will be able to stand up to Bruce."

"I'd do it for you," Tim says, low and fucking *earnest* --

And yeah, he would. He'd walk over a bed of nails that was in the *process* of burning -- Jason shakes his head and gives Tim a nice, *long* lick, base to tip --

"Oh, Jay --"

"And what if I want to see Bruce doin' you, Tim? What if I want to see the way you move for those big, big hands?"

Tim stills all over, tensing --

"Yeah. You're going to be his partner, Tim. You're going to be the thing that keeps him from the deep black *pit* of pain and need inside of him..." Jason licks Tim again, sucks kisses along the shaft --

Tim whimpers and covers Jason's hands on his hips. "I -- I. You -- want that? But --"

"It's not cheating -- if it's family," and Jason sucks Tim down exactly like he's been starving for it, for the dick that's still too small to do him much good in any way *but * this --

And he gets a flash of memory for that, dark and *sweaty*. Talia's toys and *all* of the ways she used them, used *him* --

("Are you thinking of him, little one? So am I.")

The scent of pussy and the *feel* of something slick and heavy on his tongue --

Silk sheets slipping around beneath his palms and the caps of his knees --

"*Jay* --"

Tim, and everything, right now, has to be boiling down to his dick in Jason's mouth, has to be *that* pleasure, *that* need, and maybe -- possibly -- Jason should work harder to avoid saying shit designed to break that twisty little mind *right* when they're about to fuck in one way or another, but --

"I -- I -- please, Jay, you have to -- I'm *confused* --"

But he isn't, really. He's too smart for that, and Jason had given him all the pieces he could scrape up off the thoroughly fucking *disreputable* floor of Jason's mind --

"Unless -- I. Would it be better? Would it help -- I mean. If I did it *for* you --"

No, no -- no. Jason pulls off --

"Oh, God, *please* --"

"You'll *do* it for yourself, Tim. Because he turns you on. *Because* he makes you need him. Because you *want* him -- and nothing else matters."

"But -- if it's what you want, Jay -- I. What if I don't want him *enough* for that?"

Jason smiles and slips two fingers into Tim's cleft, giving that hole a nice, slow *rub* --

"Ohn. Jay, I only want *you* --"

"Then open right up again, Tim. You *used* to have room for -- heh, me, Dick, *and* Bruce. That means you still *do* have room for him. I couldn't care less if you wound up fucking Dick -- he's got his own thing, now, and it probably wouldn't be any good for him *to* wind up back in Gotham. But Bruce..."

"I. Partner? Partner."

"That's right. That's *just* right. Now grab your dick and *push* it into my mouth again."

Tim shudders all over and obeys, making sharp little 'oh' noises and petting Jason's mouth, his face --

Jason winks at Tim and sucks *hard*, grabbing for those hips again when Tim's knees buckle and watching Tim squeeze his eyes shut, *feeling* Tim's hands spasm against his cheeks --

"Anything -- everything -- oh, God, Jay, your *mouth* --"

Yeah, because he's been good at this since he was *younger* than Tim, because there was a regular who could tell right away that Jason was new and had been *all* about letting Jason *practice*, coming back again and again to teach Jason how not to gag, how to keep his teeth hidden, how to push *past* the ache in his jaw --

He'd promised himself that if he ever found the guy he'd teach him some lessons of his own, but so far, no dice.

Maybe some other boy had knifed him for his wallet or something. The world *does* correct *itself* from time to time...

And Tim is petting Jason's hair now, hands shaking just as much as the rest of his body, eyes open wide and *completely* unfocused. He's somewhere else in his head, right now. Somewhere deep under all the pleasure, under the *force* of the suction Jason's using and --

Maybe trying to hold on a little, or even claw himself back up. Jason doesn't know if he wants that or not. It has to be *better* for Tim if he can lose himself, spend a little more time *not* thinking about exactly what Jason wants for him --

And right about now it's hard to think about anything else. Bruce will go down on Tim *exactly* like it's the only thing he *can* do, and Tim *will* feel that need, know that he's causing it and *work* to fix it, ease it --

Such a *nice* boy, and it makes Jason want to fucking beat at him until he's the boy he was *tonight* -- not nice at all and hard as fucking *nails* -- but Bruce is going to need that nice boy --

*Jason* needs that nice boy, that hungry boy --

He's confusing the fuck out of himself, and that means it's time for him to get down to business. He squeezes Tim's hips and *makes* him start thrusting, feeling himself fucking *surge* for the way Tim's growl is almost *plaintive*, for the way Tim's grip on his hair is so gentle, so *careful* --

*More*, he tries to say, and makes Tim give it to him faster and just a *little* harder --

("Jay. Jay, you mustn't let me *hurt* you --")

But Tim knows how this works -- or is maybe just that far *gone*. Either way, his hips are moving without Jason's help, and his dick is making Jason's lips numb, making his tongue want to curl for the taste of pre-come and the lingering hints of blood and his *own* come --

Yeah. *Yes*, and there's nothing he can do to stop himself from going back to playing with that hole, from pressing at the mild swelling and coating it with Tim's own sweat until Tim's gasping and *hissing* --

For the burn? For the need?

He wants to be *inside* Tim for this, wants to crawl inside that skin until he's pressed down and *concentrated* into himself --

Except that would make it even harder to avoid dealing with himself, make every corner in his mind a risk -- because he'd be right around every single one of them. No matter where you go --

For now, where he *is*... is on his knees on the inspiringly big bed of a skinny, dangerous kid who is -- he can own this -- madly fucking in love with him to the point where even now when he's right on the edge, he's not fucking Jason's mouth as hard as he could.

Hell, even knowing that Jason *wants* it --

Jason growls around his mouthful and listens to Tim bite back a shout, watches him clench his fists at his *sides* --

Jason pulls off --

"No -- oh, I --"

"Fucking *do* me, Tim. Pretend --" No, not that. Maybe never that *again* -- "Pretend I *want* it -- because I sure as *fuck* do."

And Tim looks down and searches Jason's face, wild-eyed and lost and yeah, still *confused*.

Jason smiles, and smiles a little wider for the four distinct streaks of blood on Tim's torso. "Pull my hair, some. *Feel* it --"

One hand in his hair and the other on the dick reaching for the *sky* --

*In*, and it's just right, hard and fucking *harder*, sac slapping Jason's chin and hips pumping *fast*.

Jason hums and *sucks*, giving into it because there's no other *option*. Fuck air and fuck politesse, this is the real deal, the *raw* deal --

Tim chokes on his own gasps --

Tim twitches and *moves* in Jason's mouth --

Tim *slams* in, shakes like he's going to fall *apart*, and comes in Jason's mouth, splashing the back of Jason's throat and making noises like he's being kicked to death by someone with a *grudge*.

Jason swallows and strokes Tim's hips, swallows and *takes*, swallows and sucks --

Until Tim yanks himself out of Jason's mouth and proceeds to wobble and sway on his feet. Jason hums and steadies him *just* enough that Tim lands the *right* way when Jason yanks him down, thighs spread around Jason's own and mouth right *there* for what has to be one of the dirtier kisses of Jason's existence. His lip is bleeding again and there's *just* enough of Tim's come still in his mouth to make it --

An experience.

It takes a moment, but Tim wraps his arms around Jason's neck and presses closer, doing a little taking of his own until Jason wants to carry him right back out the window and put him on the back of the bike again, take him *home* --

Hey, Bruce -- would you have coped better if I'd just walked into the Cave one day with Tim bare ass naked and wrapped around me?

I promise -- I would've only fucked with you a *little* before laying Tim down somewhere we could --

Share him.

*Hell* --

Jason grunts into the kiss and tries *not* to think about it, about how it would feel to have those hands on him *now*, to have Bruce learning him all over again, new scars and old. Tim would watch it happen, see what it *did* to Jason and... what?

Be jealous? Scared? Turned on? All of the above?

He'd *have* to pull Tim in, have to hold him down even if he didn't fight, maybe *especially* if he didn't fight. He'd maybe *tell* Tim to fight, to make Bruce *take* every inch he gets --

Nearly three years of learning every *nuance* of the ceiling above Bruce's bed, nearly four years without anything of the kind --

And now these *months* with a Bruce he could've -- something.

God, there'd been a little *white* in that beard --

And what would it be like to see Tim's small hands cupping that jaw, that *clean-shaven* jaw --

Or maybe with just a little stubble --

Jason moans into Tim's mouth and gets clutched, arms and thighs, and one day, maybe, there'll be a chance to do *just* this for a little while, hold Tim's body against his own and share warmth, contact, intimacy with no judgment and only the kind of fear that belongs to something like this. Would Tim even go for that? How much *has* he twisted the kid?

Jason pulls back --

Tim winces -- because his chest had *stuck* to Jason's shirt, leaving lots of little spots of blood to go with everything else that had gotten on that thing tonight. Jason frowns.


Jason squeezes Tim's hips. "I want you to disinfect those cuts three times each. No half-measures."

"Yes, of course. I -- does it have to be. I mean, if you stayed. If you wanted to stay for a little while longer --"

"I do," Jason says, because it's easier than coming up with a nice, tough lie. "But you won't sleep if I do, and I need you rested."

"Because of Bruce."

And sometimes, just *sometimes*, Tim looks and sounds exactly like the kid he is. Jason's frankly not sure whether he should be beating it out of him or *not*. He compromises by squeezing Tim's hips hard. "Because *sooner* rather than later, Bruce is going to want to *test* you. And you're going to have to bring your A game for that. Better than you are with me. Better than you are on the *street*."

"Because -- Gotham is his."

"Yeah. It is. Even now. I..." Jason cups the back of Tim's head and pulls him in enough that Jason can bring their foreheads together. "You can do this. Which is... heh. Well, it's a *good* thing -- because I *need* you to be able to do it. Get me?"

"Yes, Jason. I --" Tim squeezes him and lets go, shifting back until he's sitting on his heels.

The fact that Jason wants to pull him close again... is just something he's going to have to live with.

He goes, feeling eyes on him for the *entirety* of his trip back to the gym but seeing no signs of... anything.


The next night...

Well, it's one of those moments that really let you *know* that you'd gotten yourself into a dangerous routine. He'd pulled up to *that* corner, shifting reflexively on the bike to assure himself that there was plenty of room...

And then he'd waited for Tim to melt out of the shadows and take his place.

And waited.

And *parked*, because he couldn't just fly off half-cocked, because it didn't matter that he knew *exactly* where Tim was -- he had to go through the motions.

So, back to the townhouse where there was no symbol message for him on Tim's window and no sign of Tim, himself. Sleeping parents, sleeping live-in to replace the maid -- and *there* was a cock-up --

No Tim.

And this drive...

What, exactly, does it say about him that this drive makes him only want to ask himself why he's going home so *early*? Is it anything he actually wants to know?

The questions run through his mind back and forth, up and down, all the way the fuck around. They're looking for a way down deep into the *meat* of his mind, the parts with neither armor nor control, and Jason thinks he'll be pretty damned fucked if he lets them in, if it turns out that he has weak spots other than the ones shaped like skinny kids with more brains than actual *sense* --

Oh, there's something to think about. Had Tim put up a fight when Bruce had told him where he was going? Or -- possibly he'd just sunken deep into himself and put on the mask.


Robin is with *Batman* right now, and that's --

Well, he's going to have to see, isn't he?

There are cameras all along this road, good enough and fast enough to pick him up. There'll *be* no surprise, and that's something else he has to deal with. He parks just beyond the hologram, watching for new traps and seeing none, and --

What did you do when you saw that the mask was still on my body, Bruce? Did it make anything easier?

Did it make you hate yourself, a little?

Jason walks in, and for a while there's nothing to hear and the kind of darkness that's just too damned familiar for comfort. There's a light, though, and he has to follow it. And maybe has to remember his *first* trip down this path, trussed up and shoved in the passenger seat of the car, thinking about the tires Bruce -- the *Batman* -- had made him put back on, about the way he hadn't even been able to sabotage things a little because the Batman had been watching him just that close --

Is he going to find Tim tied to a chair? Maybe hanging from a stalactite in consideration of his greater level of training?

The light gets bigger and broader, and now he can hear footsteps, quick and light --

The distinctive thump of a staff hitting the mats --

The *meatier* thump of a body -- small and hard -- hitting those mats --

"Again," Bruce says -- in Batman's voice -- and there he is, fully suited up and gesturing Tim up off the mats.

Tim's in nothing but his boxer-briefs and a t-shirt, his nice, new uniform in a pile on one of the work-tables. He looks fucking *battered*. No new bruises showing, but his movements are stiff and slow as he gets up, and Jason knows *that* frown means Tim's body is betraying him with exhaustion.


"Fucking *time*," Jason says --

"No. Again," Bruce says, gesturing attack, and --

Tim pulls himself into a ready stance -- and stands still.

Good boy. "How long has he been working you, Tim?"

"Three hours and approximately fifty-three minutes."

Which means he must've picked Tim up *right* after his parents had crashed, that Tim had been... yeah, he would've been doing katas in the suit, getting *ready*. "What are you trying to prove here, Bruce?"

Bruce brings his gesturing hand down to his side. "He's not ready."

"He's as ready as I *ever* was --"

"You --"

"And yeah, that means he *isn't* ready -- for everything," Jason says, and moves up close enough to put his hand on Tim's shoulder. "He needs you."

Bruce's expression is blank and fucking *hard* --

"And take that motherfucking *cowl* off before I knock it off, Bruce."

Bruce turns to focus on Tim. "If he can't stand up to this --"

"Then you've been throwing him around for four goddamned hours --"

"Jay," Bruce says, and his voice is low, rough and fucking heavy the way --

The way it has to be, maybe. "*Off*, Bruce. You know who I am -- and we both know who you are."

"Because you told the secret."

Heh. "Not quite. He already knew who you were -- and knew Dick and Babs, too."

Bruce shakes his head once. "That's not --"

"I recognized Dick. Four years ago," Tim says. "He was doing the quadruple somersault he used to do at Haly's. The one only three people in the world are capable of doing. He's the only one who would've... looked like that."

Bruce grunts and *stares* at Tim --

"I swear to fucking God, Bruce, ditch that cowl *now*."

Bruce *growls* and does it, revealing pale, sweaty skin and eyes that would make fucking anyone *flinch* back. Tim tenses but remains in his ready stance -- and stares right back.

"Yeah, Bruce. *That*. I can't fucking believe you thought I *would* tell anyone who didn't know -- as opposed to filling in a few really fucking *crucial* blanks for someone who did."

Bruce stands straight and takes a deep breath. "He's too young --"

"I'm sorry, but I think I have to respond to that with a resounding *bullshit*, Batman," Tim says, and stands straight, as well.

Oh... yeah. Jason smiles and moves his hand to the back of Tim's neck.

"I'm older than Jason was when you took him off the street. And I'm better prepared -- for Gotham and for *you*."

"I taught him the things you couldn't, Bruce --"

"Assassins' tricks."

"*Effective* tricks," Jason says, and strokes Tim's neck with his thumb. "Look at it this way: he'll *be* out there whether or not you give him any more training than he has now --"

"*Not* if I inform his parents what he's been doing."

"Bruce --"

"Oh, please," Tim says. "If you were going to *tell* on me, you would've done it already. You've certainly had ample opportunity. This is all just because your mind is still a mess from being faced with a living Jason. I sympathize -- I was in a shock for at least the first *week* after he came to me. Part of me still is. But I'm *Robin*, Batman, and that's not going to change until the day *I* die -- not that I haven't appreciated the chance to see assorted counter-moves tonight. I'll remember all of them."

"I've had -- heh -- *several* months to see that for myself," and Jason lets himself just stand there and *watch* the thoughts run through Bruce's mind.

All sorts of people would see that look as blank or neutral, but Jason knows that darkness behind Bruce's eyes is fear, that that tension running through him is all about knowledge Bruce doesn't *want* --

Which is just too damned bad. "If it helps -- he was Robin in the universe *I* come from. He'd saved your ass -- and the asses of all *kinds* of other people -- countless times... *without* the training I've given him."

"Teach me, Batman -- Bruce. Teach me how to use a cape and how to dodge crossfire. Teach me how to effectively counter you despite my size. Teach me how... to be a partner to you."

"Yeah. And if you don't do it for yourself or the city... well," and Jason raises his eyebrows. "You told me you'd do anything for me, B."

And that wild look is back in Bruce's eyes as they seem to fucking *laser* in on him. It feels like they're boring right *through* him, and Jason has to take a fucking *breath* --

Tim pushes back against Jason's hand --

And Bruce turns to look at *him*, again, frowning and searching like maybe if he just looks *hard* enough this will all start to make sense.

Tim is still giving Bruce a hard, steady look --

"He won't break and you won't chase him away. *Deal* with it."

Bruce doesn't *slump*, but there's an air of it around him, a sense that he's had *exactly* too much to take and it would only maybe take one *good* push to knock him down. And that --

Jason fucking *hates* seeing it, but if that's what gets the plan to the next stage...

"He doesn't go out again until *I* say he's ready."

Jason can feel Tim looking up at him, but... "Yeah, okay. That works -- for now. But you're not going to second-guess yourself and you're *not* going to try to make him into something he *isn't*."

"You made a young boy into an assassin, Jay."

And he's so, so good at leaping out of the way of blood spatter from his knife... Jason smiles. "Then I guess it's your job to convince him not to use all of his skills all of the time. But he won't be a clone of you. He's going to *complement* you on the street, and the quicker you go with that, the quicker Robin will fly again," and Jason moves his hand from the back of Tim's neck and steps back --

"Where are you going?"

That was Bruce, but it might as *well* have been Tim, judging by the tension in his shoulders. Be steady, kid. Be *easy*. "Home. You know where to drop Tim off when you're done with him, don't you?"

"*This* is your home, Jay --"

"No, Bruce. The Jay who belonged here is still in the ground. And I've got other places to be."

Tim turns to look at him, and the plea in his eyes --

The plea in Bruce's eyes and that fucking *case*, like maybe the only part of him which ever counted was Robin --

Not fucking likely. He turns to Tim. "You know where to find me, for now."

"For. For how long?"

"Until I find an anomaly that'll get me where I need to be, Tim," Jason says, and there's a part of him that's protesting that *loudly*, but he can't listen. He can't --

He'd known it would go down something like this, and there's nothing more he can *give* Tim that Bruce can't, no way to prepare him that he hasn't, already --

He'd known it would *be* like this, and so Jason forces himself to nod to both of them and forces himself to walk away and not turn *back*.

A part of him is waiting for the tackle from behind, for a hand in his collar, for some word spoken that would make him *need* to stop --

But Tim wouldn't and Bruce maybe can't -- he doesn't know.

He keeps walking.


He keeps his jacket stocked with everything he'll need to jump universes again and keeps an eye on his jury-rigged sensor. He has it set to make a loud and truly annoying noise when an anomaly pops off anywhere within twenty miles, and he goes back and forth between cursing himself for not figuring out how to make it better before leaving his own universe and coping with the fact that he probably wouldn't be able to *get* to any anomaly site further away than that in time.

And then there's that other fact he has to cope with -- there haven't *been* any anomalies popping off in weeks, and there might not be --

No, that's a *might* not a fact, and so he stuffs it down and ignores it as best he can.

He stays in for three nights of a whole lot of nothing, and that's all he can stand before he's making a mock-up of the sensor that can run on batteries and be stored on the bike. He has no *idea* what the range is, but it has to be better than nothing.

After that, he gives himself a week of going out for a few hours every night, keeping an ear out for Bat sightings and moving around the city he knows and loves, hates and fears.

There's no one to teach, so he works quickly and efficiently and tries not to spend too much time thinking about what Tim is learning, what Bruce is teaching him and maybe teaching him *not* to know --

No, Tim *is* steady. If Bruce tries to break him down, Tim will balk hard -- the same way he'd balked whenever Jason tried to push him too far too fast. Right now, he's probably taking a few laps around the Cave or maybe a run through the obstacle course so Bruce can measure his reaction time --

No, again, because Bruce would've learned all he needed to know about where Tim's physical limits were within a day or two. He's full-on training now, every night and every day.

Training with *Bruce* --

And not with him.

His *dick* has something to say about that, but he'd known not to try thinking with that head *before* he met Bruce. If he hadn't figured it out, he might've wound up catching a bad case of the feelings for any john who was a little gentle about things -- or gave him a damned reach-around. And --

What's Tim doing when he gets hard?

He hadn't *been* hard for all the punishment Bruce had ditched out, but that sort of thing gets to be seriously difficult to *control* at that age -- especially when you've already *got* a kink for being treated that way --

Thrown *around* that way --

And there are ways to keep his mind from getting away from him. Like so:

Break only the *right* arms as much as possible, and except for those assholes who show themselves to be *definitively* left-handed.

Work in a widening spiral, filling in the map in his head with color-coded blocks for each gang he encounters.

And -- when possible -- time himself, a little. If he can take *these* assholes in less than ten minutes, then he can break a few teeth. If the guns are all down and out of the way before a shot goes off, then he can try to break the ribs evenly as opposed to *merely* effectively --

And his time is up for the night, and he'd gotten a fair distance away from his *bike* -- and much farther than that from his base. It's just that the night's still humming and so is *he*.

It's just that he wants more and knows exactly where he can get it --

Jason breaks the last man's nose and heads for his bike, for *home*, dammit --

And for that he has to let himself go on autopilot, has to move the way he's trained his body to move here and in no other way. If *he* was Bruce he'd be training Tim in the middle of the night, too, and --

He doesn't know. Maybe Bruce *is*.

Maybe *that's* the reason the scanner goes quiet on all things Bat every night --

Hell, he doesn't *know*, and he's going to *be* home, listening for that little alarm, waiting for his *chance*.

There are other worlds than this one, and maybe if he can ever get back to his own he can... what, exactly? Pull that older Tim aside and apologize? Promise to teach him at least some of the things *he* knows in return for forgiveness?

He doesn't *need* forgiveness, or at least he doesn't think he does. What he needs is for every Tim possible to live up to their *full* potential, to live and breathe the Mission so they can stand up when Bruce falls down, strike where Bruce won't, fight where Bruce will back away --

And he'd done that, here. Just *thinking* about the way Tim had fucking stood *up*, the way he'd pushed *back* --

Flutter -- deep blue instead of black (or gold *and* black), and yeah, that's Bruce on his damned roof.

Jason parks the bike in the little garage that only looks like it's falling apart from the *outside* and moves inside the gym. If Bruce isn't in there -- if he hadn't been in there *already* -- then he's not worth anything, anymore --

Not worth a trained damned *Robin* --

And Bruce is moving down the inside wall with slow care, using the kind of movements which are all about trying to make someone else stay calm and together --

"Stop -- fucking reading me," Jason says, and *then* gives up and laughs, because Bruce is moving across the floor toward him, Bruce is suited up and every step *feels* like a stalk --

Bruce is pushing the cowl back and *stopping*, four feet away. "He didn't tell me where you were."

Jason raises his eyebrows and watches Bruce's jaw tighten, his hands *flex* --

"I followed him last night. You trained him well in misdirection."

Last night? But he hadn't -- no, focus. "He was born for it."

Bruce nods once, hands flexing again -- "Why not you."

Direct, clear, and anything but simple -- no, it *is* simple. It's just that it won't be easy to make Bruce see it that way. Jason shakes his head. "I can't be your partner, anymore. It's just not who I am."

Flex, release, flex *harder* -- "I would like to learn you. I would... did the Bruce from your universe not... try?"

"Oh, he tried, all right. But that's over, B. I'm not *for* you."

Flex hard enough that Jason thinks he can feel it in his shoulders, his hips. On his *face* --

"And I'm not the Jason you lost. I haven't been for years, now."

"Years with... the League of Assassins. And R'as al Ghul."

"R'as hated me. Talia... didn't," Jason says, and moves a step closer, dealing with that moment he still isn't used to and maybe never will be, that indescribable *something* that hits as he realizes how little he has to look up, how much taller Bruce *isn't*. "I'm not for you."

"But Tim... is."

Jason smiles. "Good, isn't he? Kind of *scary* good in some ways..."

"He learns quickly, and listens... well."

And the thing is, Jason can *hear* Bruce's hands flexing -- thanks to the fact that he's still wearing his gauntlets. A creaking scream, a sense of absolute *potential* --

"Jay. I can. You smell the same."

"So do you. Mostly. It's not going to happen."

Bruce shakes his head and sucks in a breath. "I've seen his body. I've touched his scars. Your scars."

And? Jason raises his eyebrows again.

"Was that something the Bruce from your universe..." Bruce frowns and shakes his head again, and yeah, *not* a surprise that he can't even get that thought out --

("I never managed to convince Bruce of how distinguished he would look with a scar on his cheek, perhaps one near his eye... ah, little one, is that for me?")


Jason smiles a little. "A memory. I'd like to say that I don't have to tell you how Talia's mind worked, but that's not *quite* true, is it?"

Bruce closes his eyes -- just for a moment. When he opens them, they're clear and only curious --

No, they're not 'only' anything, because they're Bruce's eyes and that means... a lot. Jason swallows --

"Jay --"

"No, Bruce."

Pain, sharp and obvious, *deep* -- "Did you love her?"

"She did a damned good job of keeping that from ever being an issue. I was her possession and sometimes her pet -- not her lover."

If anything, that makes the pain in Bruce's eyes *worse*, which --

"Bruce, you should... this is my home, here, and it's time for me to crash --"

"A little. A little longer," Bruce says, resting his hand on Jason's shoulder and squeezing *lightly*. "I never thought I'd see you like this. I regret never having the chance to see you grow. You are... eighteen?"


Bruce nods. "The boy --"


"He cares for you deeply, Jay. He... feels your loss."

"I'm not *gone*, yet."

Bruce squeezes Jason's shoulder again. "You've come to know him. You... should know that that's not enough."

"And how do you know it *isn't*? Or am I supposed to believe you *have* been paying as much attention to him as you should?" Jason shakes his head and brushes Bruce's hand off his shoulder. "I already knew that it would *take* time, B. You weren't ready for him. You aren't ready for him, *yet* --"

"But you knew that I would be, and I have not... you've given me a gift, Jay. I'm not capable of ignoring such a thing --"

"His name is *Tim*. I -- look, Bruce, if you're seriously trying to get me to stay put for *his* sake --"

"I would say and do anything to make you stay, Jason."

Jason, not Jay, and that means he should be paying attention --

He already *is* paying attention. It feels like his *skin* is paying attention --

And why hadn't Tim come to him? If he was right there, if he *wanted* --

And pacing isn't going to do him any good. He moves back to Bruce -- fucking *noting* that he hadn't shifted from his spot. Fucking *Bruce*. "He's your partner now, Bruce. You have to give him what he needs, just as he has to give you what *you* need --"

"And when what we need is you?"

"You don't even *know* me, Bruce. These things that are the same, these things you remember --"

"Everything, Jay. Have you let him call you that?"

"*Yes* --"

"Because he's been your lover," Bruce says, nodding to himself and looking thoughtful, curious, *interested* in ways that Jason really wants to *protect* Tim from --

If he can't protect himself. Jason laughs a little, choking it off when it's too cracked for him to deal with. "Yeah, you can call it that. He's -- good. Perfect in more ways than I can count. If you train him right, if you give up just a *little* of yourself --"

"He's yours."

His. *All* his, and he knows that, but -- "That's the thing about him, Bruce -- he can be a real *generous* kid."

"I --" Bruce closes his mouth and frowns. "I'm not sure what you want me to say, Jay. He watched me like the predator you shaped him into. He trains as though the Mission is the only thing he cares about --"

"*Go* with that --"

"And when he comes here, his face softens and the tension leaves his body. And he watches, quietly, from the roof. The loft is where you sleep."

When he sleeps. Jason pushes a hand back through his hair and watches Bruce track the motion, *take* it for himself exactly like he can't help doing it, wanting it --

"Jay. You can do good work here. You've been *doing* good work here. I -- I don't know why you came --"

"For Tim. For *you* -- and for this world. And... yeah, maybe for me, too. I saw a chance to make a real difference and I took it. It's up to you guys, now --"

"Stay," Bruce says, and takes a step -- *just* a step -- closer. And there's no one *but* Bruce to see if he hesitates before stepping back --

*When* he hesitates --

"When I saw the way you moved, I paused within myself for the familiarities. I tried to focus on the *differences*, but it was difficult. I was not myself -- no. I was *only* myself, and none of the things I've tried to make myself into over the years. I can be a better man, Jay. I know that I've. He *must* have failed you the way I failed the Jason from this world, but... we have another chance."

("He brought me out of myself, Jay. He forced me to realize that the world hadn't ended because of my own pain and grief --")

"Tim --"

"Tim, yes. I wonder -- would we notice if he were watching us now? I dropped him off a block from his parents' home, but does he truly have any reason to stay there? I'm sure he must have told lies in order to protect his ability to train with you and now with me, but how many, do you think, were truly necessary?"

Left fucking *field* -- but not, really. "You probably know the Drakes about as well as I do," Jason says, *hedges* because -- why? Who is he protecting right now? Tim *isn't* supposed to be hiding anything from Bruce, and... could this help?

And Bruce nods as if Jason had answered the question. "Yes, I know them. And I find myself wondering if there had ever been a chance to... steer them, perhaps. If not to warn them about what their son could become, given just the *right* interested third party."

*Humor* in Bruce's voice... but Jason has to admit he sees the joke. "Fuckin' A, Bruce. You have what you need. Just let him in."

"You took away his awe and a great deal of his fear. My only choice, with him, is to either be myself or reject him entirely -- and you've both made it abundantly clear that the latter is no option, at all."

Jason nods -- dodges and blocks, but Bruce was only reaching for his face.

And he doesn't put his hand down.

Jason sighs and takes Bruce's hand in his own, *itching* inside at the feel of Bruce's fingers and *pushing* the hand back down --

Bruce *grips* Jason's hand and takes a step -- the last step -- closer. "You presented him to me as a partner, but it's you I think of. Dream of. It hasn't been so long that you don't remember the way the two of us worked together --"

"And the way we fought *and* the way we fucked. It's -- it's years for me, Bruce --"

"Not," Bruce says, leaning in until he's close enough that Jason can taste the coffee on his breath, smell the armor -- "For me."

"Bruce --"

"Show me who you are now, Jason. Give me that chance the way you gave it to Tim. Show me the man who couldn't resist marking that body, the man who could *teach* love to a boy profoundly lacking in same --"

"He *has* -- more than enough love. He's built for that, too, Bruce. He -- you don't know how much he can *give* -- given half a chance --"

"I would give him everything if I thought it would make you happy. He's a beautiful boy, brilliant and strong, dedicated..." Bruce smiles. "It would not take much for me to give -- and take -- for myself."

And Jason -- there's no holding back that shiver, just as, apparently, there's no stepping *back*, no way to move and no way to fight, but it's all right, because it's Bruce. The best man in the world and the only man to ever love him just the way he wanted, just the way he *feared* --

"*Is* that what you want? If so, I'm afraid Tim will take some measure of convincing --"

"He knows he's for you. I prepared him, told him everything, everything about you --"

"Then tell him this, too," Bruce says, and --

The kiss is too soft, too *cautious* --

And then it's nothing of the kind, either because of the noise Jason couldn't hold back or because Bruce couldn't wait even *that* long, couldn't stop himself --

The grip Bruce has on his hand is *iron*, but Jason knows at least fifteen ways around it, and if he just lists them in his mind --

He can keep kissing, keep *having*, and he thinks about Bruce in the rain, thinks about the way Bruce had come to him and never tried to touch, never tried *this* --

And hell, maybe he should've if it makes Jason give it up like this, makes Jason *reach* for more --

Gauntlet on his face, and he knows that texturing, knows just how to prepare himself for the feel of it pushing into his hair --

For the feel of several different hairs being yanked *out* because Bruce is gripping his hair, pulling Jason *in*, and he could ask if this is how Bruce plans on starting to be a better man, if this is the *plan* --

Bruce groans and lets go of Jason's hand, wrapping his arm around Jason's waist and pulling Jason's whole *body* in until they're pressed together, swaying together on the edge of a fall that would go nowhere good, that would feel fucking *fantastic* --

*Are* you watching this, Tim? Are you flying below our radar right now? You need to *sleep*, kid, need to let the grown-ups be *fuckups* --

Break, only it doesn't feel like one, doesn't *count* as one because Bruce is nuzzling him, dragging his mouth against Jason's own, against his cheek to his ear --

"Make love with me. It only has to be for tonight, it -- it can be anything you want --"

"*Liar* --"

"*Yes*," and Bruce kisses his way back to Jason's mouth, kisses him hard and starts pushing, too. It's a matter of walk or fall *down* --

No, it *isn't* --

It is, and his body knows they're heading for the stairs, for the loft -- they'll *have* to stop kissing to walk up the stairs --

They're *not* going up the fucking *stairs*, and somehow *enough* of his body was paying attention that he manages to push Bruce back --

"Jay --"

"*No*. And I know that's not a word you're used to hearing from me --"

"Our bed is empty --"

"*Your* bed --"

"I *love* you, Jay --"

"You still. Don't. Know me," Jason says, and fucking takes a *breath*. His mouth is tingling from the kiss but *not* from stubble -- "You shaved before you came here."

"Assiduously," Bruce says, and his hands are clenched into fists, the muscles of his arms fucking *corded* with tense muscle --

Jason snorts. "This isn't a fucking *date*, Bruce --"

"I've missed the sound of your curses. I promised -- I promised myself that if I could ever hear your voice again it wouldn't matter what you were saying --"

"Even if it was 'no, fuck off?'"

"Even then. I." Bruce starts pulling off his gauntlets --

"Don't *do* that --"

"It's only. If I could touch your skin, Jay. Feel your warmth. I need." Bruce grits his teeth and looks *down* --

"Don't do that, either -- fuck, this is a mess."

"It doesn't have to be, Jay. It can be. I know you can *feel* it, that what's between us --"

"It was never between *us*. I -- fine, take your gauntlet off," Jason says, stepping close again --

Into the lion's fucking *den* --

And Bruce's hand on his face is warm and soft with sweat, smelling of the plastics in the gauntlet and making Jason feel oh, call it *fifteen* years old, wound up so tight he couldn't see straight and ready to fucking *run* -- "Are you done?"

"Never," Bruce says, but takes his hand back. "Tell me how you're different, other than the age and experience which makes you even more beautiful than you used to be --"

"Experience. I... you know I was trained by assassins."

"Yes, and I find it interesting that the block you used earlier was one you learned from me... as opposed to the deadlier ones I know you know."

"I've killed people, Bruce. And I'm going to kill again. If the Joker so much as sets *foot* outside Arkham while I'm here, he's a dead man. If Two-Face gets out? Same deal."

Bruce *doesn't* frown, but it's all over his face just the same, all over *him*.

"And no, it's not revenge -- or not *just* revenge. I got over that in my world --"

"Where you killed them."

"Heh. *No*, actually. I just made a few heads roll in the gangs that were choking the city dead. I wasn't ready to do anything else. I was *too* angry and too fucked up over *you*," Jason says, and *shows* his hands. "I'm all better now."

"Jay..." Bruce shakes his head. "Murders solve nothing --"

"You don't think so? What do you think you'd be doing *right* now if someone -- and I know it can't be you -- had taken out the Joker?"

"Stalking your mother."

Jason -- chokes. There's no other word for it, because... yeah. "Heh, okay, there's *that*. But I never could've stayed with her, Bruce. Even if she *hadn't* gotten the chance to hang me out to dry for the Joker's goons. She was bad fucking news, *just* like my two-bit father, and you would've wound up putting her away sooner or later. But my point..." Jason shakes his head. "I know you see it. There's a difference between risking your life every damned night for this city and being an *idiot*. The prisons and hospitals can't handle people like that, and they've proved that over and over again."

"I can't. I can't let you kill here, Jason."

"'Jason' for that, too, hunh? Well, Bruce, you can ride my ass every second until I leave or you can do what you do best. And let me -- and Tim -- do the same."

This time, the frown makes it onto Bruce's face. "Is that what you call being 'complementary,' Jay? Robin isn't *meant* for death."

"But he's pretty fucking good at it, just the same. No, don't go second-guessing Tim now. He *hasn't* used any of the nasty little things I made sure he learned *well* to kill anyone -- yet. But it's there in him, and he will *do* the necessary thing -- even when you can't."

"Jay... do you honestly think he'd do anything of the kind if it wasn't to please you?"

And that -- was supposed to be a hit. But it isn't. "Yeah, I do. Maybe if you'd gotten to him a little earlier, taken a look *behind* you one of the *countless* times he was following you around and snapping his little pictures -- he's pretty damned good at that, by the way. Make sure you take him to *all* the crime scenes -- well, you didn't and I *did*. He knows the score, and no one and nothing can take that away from him. Not even me."

"It's always been there, this anger in you --"

"No, Bruce. Look at me. Take a good, *long* look at me, and then ask yourself if it's *really* anger," Jason says, and brings Bruce's hand back to his face so Bruce can tilt his chin up and fucking *loom* the way that *always* brought anger to the surface.

But that was back in the days when he was helpless, when there was nothing he could do or say to change anything, to stop Bruce, to fucking make him keep *going*. Now...

Well, he might not be able to do anything about all those *other* emotions roiling in him until he wants to be *sick*, but. He's not angry, at all.


Jason pulls back and spreads his hands. "Like I said -- you don't know me, anymore, Bruce. It would be -- heh -- *wrong* for us to pretend that you *do*."

And the look on his face says Bruce is fucking thinking *thoughts*, like maybe he's remembering all those times when they'd fought like animals right up until Bruce threw and *pinned* him -- and they could do *other* things like animals.

"I don't wanna fight you, either -- but I will if I have to, B."

Bruce squeezes his eyes shut and *snaps* his hands into fists. For a moment he only stands there, holding onto his control by a fucking *thread*...

"Go to your Robin, Bruce. Let *him* take care of you."

"I can't -- he's so." And the expression on Bruce's face is more of a grimace than a smile, but that doesn't mean there's no humor in it when he turns it on Jason. "He doesn't --"

"Want you. Yet. Yeah, I hear you," Jason says, splaying his hand on the Bat and giving Bruce a push. "Make him want you. Show him everything running through you -- his parents could sleep through a bombing raid, by the way -- and make him *know* you. He won't last."

"And you know that because of the way he was in your universe?"

Jason waves a hand. "I know that because of the way that *Bruce* was about him. What he said Tim *did* for him."

"The two of you... still spoke?"

And what, exactly, is Jason supposed to do with the *hope* in Bruce's voice? "Yeah. Whether or not I wanted to."

"Let me kiss you again."

Not and have you still get *out* of here. "No, Bruce. Go."

"I'll come back," he says, soft and gentle and the kind of threat Jason can do nothing about, because --

"I know."

And Bruce pulls his cowl back on and goes. Jason gives it twenty minutes, time enough for Tim to melt out of whatever shadows he's found for himself and fucking *come* to him --

No dice.

Jason strips, showers, beats off in the tub and doesn't make a fucking sound, doesn't cry out, doesn't fucking --


But when he puts himself to sleep, he does it with ice-cold blue eyes on him in the dark. The kind of eyes you can never get away from, that see right straight through to your dirty little heart.

Now just who those eyes *belong* to... is a question for another day.


The next night --

He's halfway out of his armor when the shadows spit Tim out. He looks exhausted and fucking *freaked*, and -- shit. "Okay, so I really need to do something about security."

Tim blinks, shifts on his feet -- "Yes, you really do. Um. Is it all right? That I'm here?"

"I told you --" Except for how he really *didn't*. Whoops. "Yeah, it's fine," Jason says, and finishes getting down to his boxer briefs before closing the distance between them and starting to push Tim toward the stairs --

Bruce --

"*Is* it Bruce?"

"Very much so. I -- he came to see me last night. He said... you told him to?"

"Well, it was that or have sex with him, and I *treasure* my hard-won sanity, kid -- Tim."

Tim pauses halfway up the stairs. "You can call me 'kid' sometimes, Jay. I mean -- I know that you're not always using it to treat me like something you can't quite scrape off your shoe."

"You could just say 'dog shit.'"

"I've been trying to parcel my questionable language out. It's all about practice. Fucker."

Jason snickers and gives Tim another push. "Gettin' there, gettin' there."

"I do try," Tim says, and *scans* the loft.

"I *didn't* fuck him, Tim."

"I -- reflex? Both you and Bruce have been quite clear about my developing my observational abilities."

"Uh, huh, well -- it's a natural talent in you. *Innate* -- right up there with the stalking," Jason says, and lets himself fall on the bed. And raises his eyebrows.

Tim scans *him* -- and smiles. He strips down *quickly* -- not even pausing for his boxer briefs -- and crawls onto the bed.

Seeing the scars on his chest... they're still *angry*-looking, but it's clear that a bandage would've been superfluous. Jason traces the skin around them. "It's good that you heal fast."

"I do wonder about situational nudity and explanations I'd have to make."

"I trust you to come up with some doozies," and Jason sits up enough to grab Tim by the hips and settle him over his own hips. "You don't have to ask. Just come -- when you're not training."

"I -- he does take up quite a lot of time," Tim says, and raises his own eyebrow --

Jason nods, and Tim strokes his chest -- no. Tim gives himself over to the *art* of stroking Jason's chest, firm and hard enough that Jason can feel every last one of those calluses and know that they -- mostly -- belong to him. And --

He was going to say something --

Something. "Look at it this way, Tim -- by rights? You should be living in the manor, training before school, coming right home to train *more*. Training all day weekends and holidays... you know what I'm saying."

"Mm -- I. Really do. My mother congratulated me for making such good friends this year. My father -- rather awkwardly -- stuttered and stammered out a question which may or may not have boiled down to whether or not any of my friends were *more* than friends," Tim says, and smiles like the vicious little predator he is. "Ives -- my closest friend -- believes that there's a young Puerto Rican woman who has been taking up my time, and has sworn to cover for me to the death."

"You got it all covered, then," Jason says, and folds his hands behind his head. "Puerto Rican? Not Haitian? Pakistani?"

"I'm fairly fluent in Spanish, already."

"Heh. Your little plot thickens."

"I do my best. I wish... I want more. I want you to train me, *too*, Jay. There's so much you haven't taught me --"

"*Most* of which Bruce'll cover. You *still* need your rest, Tim."

Tim frowns, little mouth pressing in on itself and making Jason's dick pay a little more attention -- "Oh." Tim grinds down against him, working his hips like a --

No, not a pro. Like someone *dedicated*. Maybe one of those temple prostitutes he'd read about a lifetime ago. Certainly, Tim is starting to make him feel religious again -- but. He wouldn't have come if Bruce hadn't freaked him out. "Tell me what Bruce said."

"He -- talked about you, mostly. How much he loved you, how he felt something quote 'almost entirely *unlike* lust' the first time he saw your face. Something 'brighter, stronger.'"

Jason shakes his head. "*Pervert*."

"He described it the way people describe religious experiences. Oh, he -- planted two tracers on me that I've found. Was it wrong to take them off?"

"Let him work for it. Go on."

"Well, at first he was sort of looming over my bed, seeming to take every shadow in the room for his own --"

"It's kind of his shtick."

"Mm. I told him he could sit down if he wanted to, and you know -- it really is extremely odd to watch a large man sweep a cape out of the way to sit down -- I'm babbling."

Jason laughs a little and bounces Tim on his hips. "Yeah, but it's cute. Keep going."

"I -- cute? Hm. All right. He told me about the months he spent training you, only if I went just by what he was saying, they were months *you* spent training while he stared at your nubile -- he didn't actually *use* that word, but there was a hint of it just the same --"

"Uh, huh?"

"Well, there was a lot of staring. And he talked about wanting to lick the arch of your foot, the back of your knee, talked about wanting to spread you and taste your *musk*..." Tim shakes his head. "I told him I could understand the urge, and then he started talking about us, about how he wants to know everything we've done, how he's dreamed of it and wondered -- and about how he'd never actually ask. I. Would it. Do you think it would *help* anything if I... came clean, as it were?"

As it were. Jason laughs just a *bit* more and *arches* under Tim, lifting him up just a little bit --

"Oh, that feels very -- Jay, what would you *like*, tonight? Because I've wanted -- everything."

"One question at a time -- yeah, I think it *will* help if you tell him everything, but you should definitely wait until you're ready for things to move to the next level."

"Next --" Tim frowns again. "He treated me like -- like his *confessor*. Everything was love and fear, sin and hunger... I felt like I should have studied Catholicism."

Jason waggles his head a little. "Can't hurt."

"I --" Tim's frown cracks right down the middle and he laughs, breathless and quiet, and --

Yeah. Jason moves one hand from under his head and rests it on Tim's chest, splaying it a little and just giving himself a moment to feel his heartbeat, steady, even, and just a little faster than it would be if they weren't just *one* pair of boxer briefs from being naked. Poor fucking planning on *his* part.



"I like it. When you make me laugh," Tim says, and suddenly his eyes are wide and soft and focused on him.

It makes Jason mentally run through everything in the pockets of his jacket and it makes him want to burn the thing to ash while the fire throws crazy shadows on Tim's back. "Well, I like *making* you laugh -- but I meant it. If you want to know Bruce, it really *wouldn't* hurt to read up on abnormal psychology, religion, philosophy, superhero comics... everything you can get your hands on, really, because *all* of that went in to making him who he is."

Tim nods seriously. "All right. I'll -- keep that in mind. Anyway, after all of that, he started telling me about his nightmares --"

"And giving you a few *new* ones, I'd bet?"

"*Yes*, actually. He made me -- well, no, he *asked* me to tell him about my own, and I really couldn't... well, there wasn't any *real* choice there, though I can't really put my finger on *why* --"

"Because he's Bruce. That's the only answer you really need, kid," and Jason strokes the center line of Tim's chest with two fingers, down and up and down again.

"Well -- certainly, that's *an* answer."

Jason grins. "What else did you tell him? Other than your nightmares, that is."

"I -- well. I told him about my fantasies of Robin when I was younger, about getting to see Robin up close, and watch my hand get swallowed in a -- green -- gauntlet, or to feel Robin lifting me up high... um." Tim looks down and gives Jason his first blush of the night.

Jason *taps* Tim's chest before dragging his fingers back down to his navel, and tries not to... well, he *can* imagine it. Tim being even smaller than he is, now, and himself maybe being a little bit bigger than he ever actually got in the suit. Lifting the kid up so he can get a *good* view of the city while they stand on some rooftop... "Everyone needs a hero sometime."

Tim looks at him from under his lashes, dark and *serious* -- "Who's yours?"

"Heh. Myself. And yeah, that *does* kinda fail at the whole 'keeping the night monsters away' thing from time to time."

Tim nods. "*Is* Bruce supposed to be my hero?"

Yes. No. Maybe. "Sort of? He's supposed to be your partner, but you already know there's more to that than just you having each other's backs out there."

Another nod. "He said... he said that even you were afraid of him sometimes, and that he hated that more than almost anything. The only thing worse, he said, was when you loved him as more than a man."

Jason grins and shakes his head. "Fucking Bruce. Well, yeah, he was right, and yeah, that was fucked up. I was *way* too young for him -- young in ways *you're* not. Which isn't to say you're *not* young, just that it's different."

"I think... I think it's possible that I'll understand that. At some point."

"Mm-hm. Just keep it in mind until you do. Anyway -- Bruce is the best at what he does. And he does a *lot* of things. It's hard not to... oh, put him on a pedestal, I guess. I've done what I can to protect you from that, but it's not like I could always -- or even *often* -- protect myself."

"Did you... I know you said the two of you didn't have sex, but --"

"We kissed. And came *real* close to coming up these stairs and fucking like crazy, because I could feel him, and he could feel me, and there's all that *history* there. And because when he wants to, Bruce can *talk* anyone into bed."

"He's... seductive."

Jason raises his eyebrows again. "You tellin' me you *didn't* feel it?"

"I -- more than I wanted to. A great *deal* more. He was so close, but he still made my bed feel huge and... inconvenient, I suppose. I could tell that he wanted -- something."


"He wanted me to be someone I'm *not* --"

"Try again."

"Jay --"

Jason taps Tim's chest again before dragging his fingers up over that long throat, along Tim's jaw, up over his chin -- he *dips* his fingers into Tim's mouth just long enough to get the tips wet. "Try. Again."

"I -- all right. He wanted to be close to someone. To be heard and understood and maybe -- I. Held."

Jason nods. "And?"

"And he gave me the *distinct* impression that if I tried anything of the kind I'd wind up fucked through the mattress."

Jason snickers. "Yeah, he's special like that. But there'll be times when you can *just* be there for him. A hand on his shoulder, or maybe in one of his own. A good, long eye-to-eye *look*." Jason waves his hand. "Something like that."

"That would be... a lot more comfortable."

"You think so, kid? Well, I don't know. We're not the same person, so maybe it *would* be like that for you. Batman needs Bruce to live. *Bruce* needs... one whole hell of a lot. And you're more than strong enough to give it to him."

And Tim nods like Jason had given him an order, and then blinks -- shifts. Internally -- he can see it in Tim's eyes -- *and* externally, grinding his hips against Jason's own and getting harder *quickly*.

"What do *you* want?"

"For you to fuck me, Jay. I -- I've been using the toy. And a bigger one -- well, that's. I've only used the bigger one twice, but --"

"But you're ready for me, I hear you."

"Can I -- I would just like to state for the record that it was extremely disturbing to have Bruce slip through my window *exactly* five minutes after I put the toy *away*."

Jason snickers again. "Yeah, get used to that. It's Bruceish for 'I'm being polite.'"

"And maybe for 'I watched the *whole* thing,' Jay?"

"*Hell*, yeah. The sheer *number* of times he managed to show up in my bedroom fucking *seconds* after I came down from the afterglow... well. There are a *lot* of reasons I never brought anyone home."

"You had... girlfriends?"

"I had girls who were friendly acquaintances -- with benefits. It didn't take all that long before Bruce was fucking me too regularly for me to spread it around. As it *were*, heh." And Jason reaches for the slick, thinks about opening it up... hm. "Show me how you slick yourself."

"Oh. I -- all right. I'm usually um. On my back."

"Mi bed es su bed, Tim."

Tim gives him one of those sharply *bright* smiles for that, brief and just a little stunning, so it takes Jason a moment to sit up after Tim shifts off him and lies down with his head toward the foot of the bed.

Making things easy for him again, and... yeah. Tim slicks his fingers and bends his knees back to his chest before reaching and pushing in with two. No pause or hesitation, just *in*.

And then he's twisting his fingers back and forth, concentration-line deep on his forehead, lower lip held between his teeth...

"Yeah, that's good. Fuck yourself a little."

Tim nods and does it, gasping for the first deep push and then going silent, concentrating *harder*...

Jason strokes Tim's shins and watches the show, noting that Tim gives himself a *little* twist even for this and wondering if he'd learned that from *him*. It's a little too scary to think about and it's fucking *hot* to watch. Just --

Bent up little boy, all muscle and bone and *hunger*. Dick reaching for the sky and sac hanging down, asking for all *kinds* of things. Mm.

Jason leans in and takes Tim's sac into his mouth, letting himself feel full, feel powerful and a little strange --

"*Jay* -- oh. If you. If you -- suck?"

And he's tempted to pull off and make Tim *really* ask for it, but it's a lot *more* tempting just to do it, stroking down to feel Tim's hand so he can catch the rhythm of that fuck, so he can get a little slick, *too* --

"Oh. So *good*. God, I -- I won't last if you do that, but please don't stop, yet, please --"

Anything you want, kid, especially if it's more of this, more of the feel of hair just a little thicker than what's on Tim's head, straight and fuzzy, ticklish and scratchy. Jason hums --

Tim cries out and starts fucking himself harder. *Not* faster, and Jason promises himself that he'll remember that little detail for sometime when he has a little control and a lot of time to just *give* it to Tim, watch him writhe and flush, twist on his dick like it's spearing him instead of just fucking --

And it's a *good* idea to stop stroking Tim's working hand and *start* stroking the edges of Tim's hole, feeling the stretch he plans to make worse, better --

"Oh, *yes*, I -- God, Jay, I've wanted -- I want you, always *want* you --"

And he's been *such* a good boy, giving Bruce what he needs and not flinching, not pausing, and only holding back as much as he *had* to.

"Can't. I can't imagine being with anyone else. I -- oh, God --"

No, not that, and letting Tim's sac slip from his mouth feels like a tragedy right up until he gets his tongue on the underside of Tim's dick, right until he's licking up to where it's slick, hot, *wet* for him.

And he *had* something to say, but it's better to just suck the head into his mouth and give it to Tim in those same pulses, take it *from* him and paint his tongue with Tim's pre-come, which is just a little sweeter than his actual come, milder...

Yeah, and there's always *another* reminder of Tim's age, something else to keep him from ever forgetting what he's doing and *who* he's doing it with --

"Jay, *please*, in me, I need you --"

Jay pulls off and lunges in for a kiss, nice and hard, nice and *messy*, and Tim's *still* fucking himself, but it's a little faster now, *less* hard -- hunh. "Are you dialing it back because it feels good or because you're losing a little control?"

"Ah -- the latter. Usually I try -- I mean. I've gotten a little spoiled. With the toys."

Mm. "You usually prepare yourself *with* the smaller toy, don't you?"

Tim nods and searches Jason, narrows his eyes and bites his lip again --

"I think I want to make you make *just* that face, kid..."

Tim laughs. "It *won't* be difficult, I -- ah. Assure you."

"Heh. Pull out."

Tim does and tries to pull his knees back even *closer* to his chest --

"Relax, feet down."

"All right --"

"And... think about Bruce doing this to you. *Giving* this to you."

"Oh -- Jesus, Jay, that's really. Um. Ah?"

Jason grins, slicks his fingers, and -- mm. Two go in *slow*, but without *too* much difficulty, making Tim arch and *squeeze* his eyes shut. "Look at you takin' it like you were made for this --"

"I *was*. Or -- it feels that way, it -- oh, God, Jason, I've *missed* you --"

"Feeling's mutual, kid. Now be a good boy and think about Bruce's big hands, long fingers..."

"I -- he's. He wants *you*, Jay --"

"Yeah, he does. But he *told* me that it wouldn't be hard to think of you that way, that he already *has*... just a little."

"He -- oh, God. I -- I feel like running *away* --"

"And that was *before* that little talk the two of you had. Tell me -- when he was training you today --"

"S-suited up. No sign of *Bruce* -- oh *fuck* --"

Jason eases the crook of his fingers and pushes in just a little *deeper* --

"Jay, *please* --"

"You know what that means, don't you?"

"It seems -- it would be... reasonable. For him to want to impose distance. After last night."

Jason *rocks* his fingers a little. "Just right, freakboy o' mine. But you could still feel him, couldn't you? Watching you from behind the cowl?"

"Watching -- *waiting*, I -- I have to *move*, Jay --"

"Then do it. Show me. Show *Bruce* --"

Tim tilts his head back and *braces* his feet, working himself on Jason's fingers and panting, *grunting* --

"God *damn*, you're a good boy. He's going to love doing this to you. Making you come *just* like this --"

"Want -- want *you* to come, need you to come --"

"You think I won't?" And Jason grabs one of Tim's ankles and brings Tim's foot to his crotch. "Feel that?"

"Oh. *Jay*, I -- I miss sucking you, too. I want --" And Tim works the pads of his foot against Jason's shaft, a good *and* frustrating touch --

"Oh, now he's gonna want to lick *your* foot."

"Jesus, fuck -- Jay, *fuck* me, please fuck me --"

"Mm. Now *there's* a good idea, but -- ask Bruce."

"I -- what?" Tim opens his eyes and they're fuzzed, unfocused...

Jason licks his lips. "Call his name for me. Tell *him* what you want."

"Bruce. I. Fuck me?"

"Nuh-uh. *Give* it to him, Tim. Give it *up*," and Jason starts fucking Tim slowly. *Gently*.

"No -- fuck. Please, please, Bruce, I want -- fuck me, fuck me *faster*."

God. *Right* to his dick, and he's still only *faking* it. "Yeah, like that. But *more*."

"*Bruce*, I -- if you're watching this, if you're seeing this -- I'd let you, I want you, you -- you can *have* me --"

"*Yes*, Tim, *more* --"

"Bruce, *please*, I need -- he won't fuck me, he won't -- I need it so badly, I promise I'll behave, fucking *obey* --"

"Now don't go *too* far," and the smile on Jason's face feels as wet and hungry as the head of his dick, which *could* be somewhere much warmer, tighter -- "Tell him *how* you want it."

"*Hard*, Bruce. Make me scream. Make me *hoarse*, and I -- I'll be yours, for a little while -- Jay, please, I don't -- it's too much --"

"It is *not* --"

"But I think he could *be* listening, Jay, or watching -- I saw, or thought I saw, thought I *felt* --"

"Yeah, he *followed* you here, before. But it *could* just be your paranoia talking," Jason says, and cups Tim's hip with his free hand. "Tell me you're ready."

"I'm *ready* --"

"Then fucking *take* it." And the motion of his own hand feels brutal, like the *real* 'too much' in this room, but Tim just plants his feet again and gives it *right* back, shouting and clutching at the sheets --

Tossing his head and *clenching* around him, shuddering --

Arching up *high* and slamming back down to the bed before shouting *again*, like maybe the *impact* forced it out of him.

And -- he's slick *enough.

"Brace yourself," Jason says and pulls out as slowly as he can manage, which is still much too fast --

"*Jay* --"

"Come *here*," and Tim is trying to help, but it's still more Jason's pulling that gets Tim into his lap than anything else. Face to face won't give quite as much *depth*, but -- yeah, he wants this. He *owes* this. "Get my dick in you."

"*Fuck*, yes," Tim says, reaching down and fumbling a little before he gets Jason all lined up --

And Tim *sits* on Jason's dick, taking it in as deep as it will go and letting his eyes roll back in his head.

Beautiful. Fucking *gorgeous*, and knowing that Tim would do anything for him is nothing against the feel of *this*, against the tight heat and the pulse he can feel, the clench that makes him grunt --

"You look *so* good on my dick," and Jason cups Tim's hips, squeezes them... "And you feel even better. Look at me."

Tim nods and does it, eyes tracking wild before focusing *hard*.

Jason grins and bucks a little, *fucks* a little --

"Oh, *more* --"

"You got it." And lifting Tim is just as easy as it should be, as it *never* should be --

So fucking *small* --

So *perfect* when he drags Tim down again and Tim groans, burying his face against Jason's throat, breathing damp and hot --

The fever of this --

The *pleasure*, and the way it refuses to have anything to do with right or wrong, old or young -- no. He has to deal with the fact that at least *part* of him thinks it's better that Tim's *just* this young, that he's not Robin *yet*. Not Bruce's yet.

And maybe --

Maybe by the *look* on Tim's face, the need and the *wonder* --

Never Bruce's?

"Ride me," Jason says, and lets go of Tim's hips to stroke his hair, still damp from the shower he'd taken after Bruce had dropped him off... night training, and it's *good* for the Robin he'll be and *bad* for --

No, the kid in Tim *needs* this, and Jason's never going to let himself forget that. He can't *possibly* --

"God, so *tight*."

"I -- hnn. I worry, a little, about... losing that."

Jason laughs -- and groans for the feel of things moving inside him, for the shudder at the *base* of his dick. "Maybe -- *maybe* -- if Bruce starts fucking you daily. Which he won't, because he's going to want to taste you all the time... and *you're* going to want that dick in your mouth."

"Still. I. Still haven't seen it. Seen *him*."

"Then I'll have to tell him to stop being a *tease*. Can you give me faster?"

"Yes, I --" Tim frowns and bites his lip again, settling his hands on Jason's shoulders --

"Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, fuck, that's incredible, perfect..."

Tim smiles and starts clenching around him for every downstroke --

"Oh, *good* boy. Mm, you were *born* to be fucked, kid."

"I think -- oh, that. Angle. I can't really --"

"Heh, relax," Jason says, grabbing Tim's shoulders and making him lean back a little while he rocks and grinds, pushes and fucking *shoves* --

"*God*, I -- am really not relaxed. At all."

"Guess I just need to *try* harder," and Tim gives him a hot little cry for every thrust, gripping Jason's forearms and still *trying* to give it back to Jason --

"So good, so -- no, I want you riding me, again. As fast and as hard as you can."

"Y-yes. Jay --" And Tim shakes his head and wraps his arms around Jason's neck, pushes his *face* against Jason's neck --

And the only thing Jason can do is grunt for it, *buck* for it, because Tim is riding him like pain is something that happens to other people --

Tim is licking him, dragging his mouth --

"Yeah, *bite* me -- *fuck*, sharp little teeth, sweet little ass, gotta --" Jason shakes his head and strokes Tim's back, finding the light scars with his fingertips and wanting more, *needing* more even though the first time Tim comes home with a scar ruining the lines of the scars Jason has given him --

No, he won't *be* here, and -- what the hell does 'home' mean, anyway?

Can't -- not that, not *any* of that, and Jason deliberately gives up a little of his control, letting the *rush* run through him and stroking Tim more, squeezing and pressing, letting the crossbar of the 't' on Tim's back tickle his fingers as Tim fucking *bounces* on him --

Fucking takes him *deep* --

Bites and sucks and *drools* on him --

And pulls off to lick again, because maybe there's a little blood --

"Fuck, I want your *blood* --"

"You can *have* it, Jay. Anytime you -- you want, oh, you're so *big* in me --"

"Bruce is bigger. You -- nn. You won't be able to *do* this with him --"

"You want -- I'd just take it. On my knees --"

"On your *back*. So he can fuck you with the way he *looks* at you, too."

"Oh, God, Jay. Oh, God, that's so *frightening* --"

"I know. You can *handle* it," Jason says and catches Tim's hips when the rhythm starts to slip, holds Tim *up* so he can fuck his way in, over and *over* --

"*Jay*, so good, always so *good* --"

"*Not* the first time --"

"*Yes*, because you lost control, because --" Tim moans and licks Jason again, *sucks* --

"No, tell me. Fucking *tell* me --"

"Sorry -- oh, *God*, I -- it was good, it was. You made me feel. Feel like you were the only thing in the world, like I was the only thing you *wanted* --"

"Not. Not a *thing* --"

"For *you*, Jay, for you I'll be anything, do anything --"

"Mother*fuck*, just -- easy," Jason says, only he can't stop himself from tipping them over, from moaning when he slips most of the way out before Tim's on his back --

And then those legs are around his chest, knees digging in hard --

*In*, and Tim shouts for him, shakes for him, scratches at Jason's shoulders and tries to rock, to *take* --

No waiting, no hesitation, no anything but *this* fuck, hard and fast because anything else would kill him, *break* him --

And Bruce had wanted this from him, but he'd only managed it once because it was too *much* for him, Bruce was too tight and too *loud* --

But Tim is just loud *enough*, eyes closed and mouth wide open for the cries Jason's fucking out of him, for all the *goodness* Jason can't --

He can't see, can't touch --

And Tim is yelling, *screaming* Jason's name with his hands buried in Jason's hair, pulling and *holding* --

Tight little *ass*, so hot and perfect around him, so begging for *just* this --

"God, the way you *ask* for this --"

"*Beg*, Jay, oh, *Jay*, oh, *please* --"

"Then just keep *taking* it, Tim. Fuck, God, fuck, your little hole --"

"*Yours*, Jay, oh everything, I love you, I love you so *much* --"

And it's better to brace himself on *one* hand for this, to push three fingers into Tim's mouth and get *bitten*, watch Tim toss his fucking *head* a little -- "*Suck* --"

And it's right there for him, perfect and sweet, better than -- no, it's *not* better than anything, because his dick is being fucking *milked* by Tim's ass, because --

God, *yes*. Tim coming all over Jason's abdomen and chest, making him wet, making him *dirty* for this -- "Good *boy*."

And Tim fucking *wails* for him, shuddering all over and spattering him one more time, hot and wet, so fucking *wet* --

And loose enough, now, that Jason can *really* fuck him, give in, give up, give everything he's fucking *got*, because the only consequence is the blood Tim *wants* to give him --

Because he can't fucking *stop* --

Oh, Bruce, Bruce, can you see me? Can you feel me inside you? Feel *this*, because I'm making him for you, because he's too good to give up, too *mine* to give up, clenching around me *rhythmically* and making me fucking *high* for this --

God, *Bruce* --

And he can feel it building at the base of his spine, at the base of his *dick*, feel it rising sharp and high until Jason doesn't know *what's* coming out of his mouth, until all he can see is Tim's wide eyes and the way he's *wincing* for every thrust --

Too hard --

He can't stop --

Too *hard* and nothing can be better than this, nothing can be *worth* this --

Can't fucking give this --

And the orgasm hits him like Superman having a *real* bad day, and he's aware that he's balls-deep in Tim, that he's shooting his fucking *brains* out --

Nothing else, everything else --

Can't see can't *think* --

And it feels like the sound of his own hitching, *grating* breaths is what yanks him trembling back into his own body, like he's going to fall *on* Tim --

No, he can stay up. He's -- okay. A lot better than that. Jason licks his lips and grins at Tim -- and gets a grin right back once he pulls his fingers out of Tim's mouth. He uses them to trace lines and idle patterns on Tim's face, to stroke the shell of Tim's ear.. yeah.

"How *much* does it hurt?"

"There's -- ah. Mostly a sense of my lungs having relocated to my throat."

"Heh. That deep, hunh?"

Tim nods almost *solemnly* -- and then shifts down the bed to ease things for himself a little bit. The tightness leaves Tim's face and gets replaced with something that looks a little... holy. Grace, need, beauty --

It seizes inside him, grips and shakes, fucking *demands* --


"I'm okay, kid. Just -- zoning, a little."

Tim raises an eyebrow, but otherwise *lets* the lie sit there, because he loves Jason, needs him and wants him and loves him *that* damned much, and shouldn't he have something to give in return? *Shouldn't* it seize and hurt like that?

He can't give this *up* --

Jason growls internally, shakes it *off* --

He *needs* this --

He kisses Tim, and it's a little too hard, too, but not as much as that fuck, that beautiful, perfect --

Jason licks his way around Tim's mouth and reaches back to stroke the outside of Tim's thigh, squeeze it and feel it as Tim ever-so-fucking-slowly eases his *grip*.

They make a little noise together as Tim sets his feet down and Jason slips out about halfway, and they keep kissing as Jason softens. The *trick* to this is to stay as still as he can so that his dick doesn't get any *ideas* --

Out and Jason sighs, licks Tim's lips and pulls back. "How are you?"

"Wonderful," Tim says, and smiles for him, sweet and young and *sweet* as he squeezes Jason's neck. "Um. Could you... I mean. Maybe you could lie on me? For a little while?"

"Yeah, we can do that. And you don't have to..." Jason shakes his head. It's the kind of thing he's *denied* Tim more often than not in the interest of training, of getting Tim back home *something* like on time... "You shouldn't think I don't want this," Jason says, settling on top of Tim and generally feeling huge, greedy, *needy* --

"I -- all right?"

"Just because other things get in the way... shit, I've gotta get you *home* --"

"I can get there by myself --"

"Not *fast* enough," Jason says, shifting until he's just *half* on Tim, because --

Well, it *feels* like the kind of compromise he needs right now.

"I'll take you home."

"I just -- I didn't want -- I didn't come here to make *work* for you, Jay."

Jesus. Hell. Jason cups Tim's cheek and turns him enough that they can look at each other, that Jason can *see* the fucking *trouble* in Tim's eyes and take that for himself, too. "One day, you're going to have a sweet little bike and you'll *take* the city with it. Until then, Bruce and I just need to move you around when and where we want you. It's *not* a big deal."

"I --"

"Trust me. Or trust the fact that I like having you wrapped around me."

Second blush of the night, and it's a *little* late, but... he likes it just fine. Jason pats Tim's cheek and then focuses on just petting him a little. His chest, his sticky abdomen, his mound to either *side* of his dick --

And Tim takes a deep breath and covers Jason's hand with his own. Hunh. "You need me to stop?"

"I -- no. I just... wanted to feel."

"That's fine. Usually after a fuck I was too blown to do anything but *let* Bruce pet me all over, but -- heh. I'm not Bruce."

"I think... it's fair to say I'm pretty blown, Jay."

"Mm, well... how *are* those orgasms you have without anything touching your dick? Better? Milder? Different?"

"Different is a good way to put it. They seem to almost come out of nowhere, even though they also take longer to happen. I can't quite compare them to the others."

"I never liked them as much... but I sure as fuck don't mind you having them."

Tim smiles again. "It's *also* fair to say that I don't, either. Jay, that was incredible. Especially at the end, when you were just..." Tim shakes his head. "I never know if I can *take* it. It's always so close to the edge, to where pain stops being great and starts being a problem, I suppose."

"Heh. Now *that* we can agree on -- which is great, because it's not like I'm gonna stop fucking you that way."

Tim laughs, shifts -- hisses and hums. "Please don't. I..." Tim shakes his head.

"Hey, what was that?"

"Nothing, Jay. Just -- noise in my head that doesn't need to come out of my mouth," Tim says, and smiles ruefully at him.

Which... "You know I liked that tonight. Having you talk to me about what was on your mind."

Tim blinks at him. "I was very -- there was babbling."

"*Interesting* babble," Jason says, and traces a circle around Tim's chest scars, clockwise and counterclockwise.

"Bruce... makes for a very diverting subject."

"Fuck, yeah, he does, but it's more than that. I..." How to say this? How to *deal* with what he's done -- and failed to do?

And the answer is the same as it always is -- push through until it *is* dealt with.

"I know I haven't exactly encouraged you to talk at me, but... it works for me. It lets me know *exactly* who I'm fucking, which is something... heh. *Somehow* I find it soothing."

And Tim just stares at him for a long moment -- blush number three.


"I was just... I'd actually been thinking of saying something along those lines. That I'd enjoyed just speaking with you."

"Look at that. Another patch of common ground," Jason says, and smiles.

Tim smiles back at him, and they stay that way for a little while, talking about bikes Jason has known and loved, and which kind might be best for Tim, given how little he'll actually grow over the next year or so.

When his internal alarm starts yelling at him, Jason pulls his auxiliary knife from under his pillow and cuts four horizontal lines -- each longer than the last -- high on Tim's right arm.

He indulges himself in the taste of Tim's blood for a little while, in the soft sounds Tim makes when he sucks, in the sounds *he* makes when he stops sucking to lick --

And then he jerks Tim off, fast and hard, before taking him down to the gym to disinfect and bandage him. *He* can see the way the bandage puffs out the sleeve of Tim's shirt, but he has to admit that most other people would miss it entirely --

"And I'll be careful with the way I move," Tim says, and --

Of course he will.

He takes Tim back to his neighborhood in the thick and heavy pre-dawn darkness and *doesn't* follow him across the rooftops.

He leaves.


And he wakes up too damned early for no good reason he can figure. He works out *hard*, staring at the silence of his little anomaly sensor -- *living* in the silence, a little --

He goes out to eat at the Chinese noodle joint he loves more than is strictly healthy, buys something for Alfred at the little hole in the wall bookstore, has it wrapped, and --

Fucking well owns *up* to himself -- and his need.

The ride out to Bristol takes too long *and* goes too fast, and when he gets there --

When he gets there, he *is* there, and has to deal with the fact that Tim is up on a *gurney*. And -- he doesn't look hurt.

*Bruce* looks hurt -- and incredibly fucking hungry as he peels the bandage off Tim's arm --

As Tim looks at him like he can maybe *help* --

As Bruce presses his lips to the cuts --

As Tim shivers.

"Should I clear my throat, guys? Jesus."

"It could... help?" And... yeah, that's a little too much white showing around Tim's eyes.

Jason shakes his head and clears his throat as dramatically as *possible* --

Bruce looks at him *without* moving his mouth. Well, no, he *is* moving his mouth, and that's the problem -- judging by the way Tim's looking at him. But... but.

"Why don't you tell me how you wound up in this position, Tim?"

"Um. Well, there was some carrying. I felt a bit like a package. A *small* package."

Laugh or not? It doesn't really matter -- it's *on* his face. "And before that?"

"Ah. I was running through the staff-centric forms on Bruce's -- oh, God, that -- really is his *tongue*. Um --"

"Keep going, kid," and Jason makes the continue gesture.

"Yes. Well. I *believe* one of the new cuts started bleeding. Enough that it showed through the bandage?"

"Yes," Bruce says, in *that* voice, the one that means *control* is something that happens to other people, the one --

His *body* knows it *really* damned well, even after all these years. His body is going to know it until Jason dies horribly in some *alley*, somewhere, but *Tim* shouldn't know it, at all.

It's just that he closes his eyes for it and shakes again, and...

"Is it obvious, Tim? Can you --"

"Very. And yes, I can tell. It's -- he came to my bed again last night. No more than five minutes --"

"Three," and that's Bruce again, still *mouthing* at Tim --

"Jesus, Bruce --"

"You *said* --" Bruce makes a low sound that's somewhere between a growl and a groan and wraps one arm around Tim's waist.

"Oh -- fuck," Tim says, and starts pushing at Bruce's arms, or --

It's more of a testing *prod* than anything else, and that concentration-line is deep in his forehead, and --

What would this have been like if Jason *hadn't* come? Would Tim be putting up more or *less* of a fight?

And how about those reflexes and reactions Jason has put effort into *instilling* in Tim for the feel of being marked and wounded -- and having those wounds made love to?

Jason presses his tongue against the backs of his teeth for a moment, takes another moment to *live* in the look in Tim's eyes a little, the apprehension and *confusion* --

He walks up to the gurney and there's a kind of body-shock to the way the wet sounds get louder as he goes, and another for the way Tim is fighting back *that* wince, the one that means he's enjoying the pain a little too much for his own sanity --

He wraps a hand around Bruce's forearm and tugs until Bruce stops holding Tim. "I know you know this is not how you seduce a scared kid, Bruce."

Bruce grunts and pulls back, mouth reddened with blood and a little bit of swelling. His eyes look *betrayed* --

"Yeah, I said *kid*. Look at him."

Bruce stands straight and does it, cupping Tim's face and forcing him to look at Bruce. "I don't. I don't think I understand."

He never, ever did. "I know you don't, which is why... no, it's not why I'm here, but I might as well explain it, hunh?"

Tim is tense enough to bolt -- or try to bolt -- at *any* minute --

And Bruce lets go of him and steps back, taking a deep and shuddery breath. "I'm listening," he says, and turns to Jason.

Jason nods. "Okay. He was good last night, wasn't he? Listened to you and had good things to say back?"

"He understood. He was -- open. He laughed."

And the look on Tim's face is -- really kind of *extremely* hilarious, and is all about how he's noticing just *how* crazy Bruce is. Just a man, right. Jason takes a couple of steps closer and rests one hand on the join of Bruce's shoulder and neck.

"Jay... the things you said last night, that you encouraged Tim to say... no. I -- knew he wasn't entirely ready then."

"Patience is a *virtue*," Tim says, and his expression is a lot more pissy than anything else at the moment, which --

Yeah, still funny --

"I have few enough of those," Bruce says, and turns to smile at Tim ruefully --

It makes Tim blink and frown. Yeah, go ahead and think about that a little, Tim...

And he has something to say. "He *is* good, Bruce. If you let him, he'll take everything you can give him --"

"I -- I was trying. It seems better to offer such things *with* pleasure, Jay, the way we were."

"Tim's *not* me. Yeah, he's horny all the time, but that's just his age --"

"And the company," Tim says. "Er -- sometimes."

"I have no difficulty whatsoever understanding the power of your attraction to Jay, Tim."

Tim smiles *wryly*. "I'd picked that up."

Bruce nods and turns back to Jason again. "Tell me more. Or... you could let Tim explain?"

He could... but would Tim say everything? Does he know how to say it the right way? Jason raises his eyebrows *at* Tim --

"Um. Well. The fundamental difficulty -- as I see it at this moment, and I could change my mind -- is that you're not the man I thought you would be. Which is not to say that Jason hasn't been working very hard to prepare me for that fact, because he *has*. It's just that it keeps being... surprising."

Bruce nods. "And you would prefer me to be... more like the man you've been imagining?"

Tim blinks again. "I -- I don't think I could ask for that, Bruce. It's not who you are, and we're not... you don't owe me anything, and I don't *like* the idea of asking for a favor that large, especially since you're already training me."

Oh... Tim.

Bruce frowns. "That seems a rather mercenary view of friendship -- partnership, Tim."

Tim looks down and blushes -- Jason tilts his head back up again. "Yes, I'm sorry," he says. "Ah... I just want to make sure you get -- that *we* get what we need from each other. That we can be partners with no... issues. Or resentments."

And Bruce's frown gets a little deeper. "Do you resent my desire?"

"Your -- desire." Tim swallows and now there's something a lot more like a flush on his face. "I can't be sure why Jason won't... with you, but it weighs on everything between us, Bruce. At least, I think it does. Or... I don't know --"

"No, Tim, keep going," Jason says, and taps the underside of his chin.

"Right, trust my deductions and observations. I -- all right. It weighs on everything we are to each other. I'm not the partner you want and I'm not the *lover* you want, and having you treat me like I *am*... is disconcerting, to say the least. There's something of a skin-crawling sensation attached to it, actually," and Tim shifts -- winces.

Last night, and Bruce has to be able to see it, has to be close to *smelling* it, and never mind showers and sweat.

Bruce nods after a moment and raises his hand, looking a question at Tim --

"I." Tim nods, and Bruce rests his hand on Tim's knee, fingers splaying up along Tim's thigh.

"I don't want to turn you into Jason, Tim. I don't want to turn you into anything -- as opposed to wanting to get to know all of you. The fact that you're sexually involved with Jason is something that moves me, that encourages and *arouses* me --"

"I -- picked that up. Too," Tim says, and rests one hand on Bruce's own, lightly enough that he can snatch it away at any moment --

Bruce smiles, eyes crinkling at the corners and making Jason want --

A lot, all at once. Jason sighs internally and moves his hand from Tim's chin to his shoulder, giving him a squeeze before letting go and crossing his hands over his chest. Just -- listening now. That's all.

And Bruce squeezes Tim's leg. "I trust Jason's judgment, Tim. I trust his *taste*. Even when he was interested in shallowly physical affairs, he only chose young women with whom he could also converse. And now, for this... he's chosen you. And chosen you to be *my* partner. Surely you understand what that means about you, if not everything that means to *me*."

"It's -- a great deal of responsibility, Bruce. And more than a little frightening --"

"It means you're a truly wonderful -- and desirable -- person. It means that you've *moved* him. The way you move me, already."

And... yeah. There's nothing there Jason can argue, nothing he can *say*, because *fuck* yes, Bruce remembers *everything* about seducing scared kids -- and Tim is trying very, very hard not to look at him. "It's true, Tim. I... heh. I came here for you. And not because I was worried that you were gonna crash and burn or something."

Tim looks down -- looks up again and shifts back on the gurney, curling his fingers around the side and squeezing -- "I'm sorry, but that's rather a lot to -- assimilate."

"And patience is a virtue," Bruce says, and his smile gets a little wider. "I will endeavor to become a more virtuous man... but I would like to kiss you first."

("I would only like to touch you, Jay. Or to... if I could *watch* you pleasure yourself...")

Jason's *still* not laughing, but now he knows Tim can see it on him, because that confusion and *suspicion* is aimed at him --

"Memories that don't have a thing to do with you, Tim," Jason lies and gestures with his chin. "Make a choice."

Tim squeezes the side of the gurney even harder, staring *into* Jason, but this isn't something he can do for Tim, isn't something...

He'd set the pitcher up and all but done the stitching on the ball, but it's up to Tim to hit it out of the park. He'd like to know what Tim is thinking, but he can always ask later --

And Tim turns back to Bruce and closes his eyes -- no, not all the way. Just enough to make him look heavy-lidded and *extremely* available.

"Tim," Bruce says, tasting the name a little and making Jason feel out of place, jealous, scared, hungry --

Too much.

Bruce tightens his grip on Tim's thigh and brings his other hand to Tim's face, leaning in slowly enough that Tim can back out at any time, but all Tim does is tense a little and stay still for it until the very last moment when he darts close and presses his lips against Bruce's.

As kisses go, Jason's seen -- and lived through -- ones that seemed a lot better, but he can understand what's making Tim keep his mouth that tight, just as he can understand what's making Bruce *push* for it, making him *try* for it.

It's something like a teaching kiss -- though Tim doesn't have all that much to learn about the basics. No, the lesson is more about what Bruce can give and *how* he can give it --

And Jason knows Tim's feeling it when he shivers and makes a soft noise into Bruce's mouth. It's the kind of thing that tends to make Bruce *need* to go in for the kill, but he holds himself back *right* up until Tim releases the tension in his jaw, at which point Bruce wraps his arm around Tim's waist again and lifts him *right* off the gurney.

Possibly this is where he clears his throat again, but he's had lots of very, very nice practice at dealing with Tim when he makes *that* noise, high and surprised and very much *game* -- if not necessarily willing, or all the things that go along with it. Bruce is definitely using his tongue, doing his best to learn everything Tim likes, everything that makes him --

Another noise, and Tim is shifting in Bruce's grip, trying to get his hands up to those barn-beam shoulders and --

Push? Hold?

Bruce uses his free hand to stroke Tim's side, his back, his ass --

And Tim's hands spasm on Bruce's shoulders. Jason knows *that* feeling, too. A little doubt, a little fear, and a healthy dose of the kind of arousal that demands at least a little soul-searching --

Tim pushes and Bruce pulls back immediately, but doesn't set Tim down. Tim's searching Bruce's face *hard* and Bruce is standing still for it, offering his expression for Tim's examination and generally being... heh. Patient.

Jason makes a point of shifting on his feet, knowing that both of them can see him out of their peripheral vision --

"Ah -- training," Tim says, and pushes again -- cautiously.

Bruce nods solemnly and sets Tim down on his feet. If he's hard --

The erection Jason *knows* Bruce has is hidden behind his jock, and Tim's got his own jock. *Jason* doesn't, but -- hell, it's Tim and *Bruce*. Jason reaches down to adjust himself a little and gives himself a moment to think about what they all *could* be doing right now, about how it would feel to watch Bruce watching *Tim* give it up, about *making* Tim give it up for Bruce, for both of them...

And Tim moves just a little closer to him, just as if that's anything resembling safe. But. "How are you doing, Tim?"

"Um. Good. Very... good," he says, and the look on his face is all about him wondering if this is okay, and maybe if anything *can* be okay.

Jason lets a smile onto his face that he knows is too sharp and too *hard* -- but Tim just smiles back at him, looking up to get the best possible *view* of Jason's face and exposing that pale, unmarked throat. Jason unfolds his arms and reaches out to stroke the space where there'll never *be* a scar -- not from him, anyway -- and Tim gives him the *real* heavy-lidded look.

And Bruce is watching -- seeing -- absolutely everything.

"Bandage," Jason says --

"And disinfectant," Bruce says, and moves to get it from one of the cabinets.

Tim smiles ruefully and hops back up on the gurney. It only takes a minute or two before Tim's down again, and Bruce sends him back to his katas. There's no real reason for Jason to be here, but the same was true when he'd made his decision to come. He joins Bruce on the edge of the mats and watches Tim do things *he* hadn't taught him, perform moves Jason doesn't know...

"I was deeply disturbed when Dick began showing me things he'd learned from his Titans," Bruce says, low and mild and inviting.

That... "That's different."

"Is it, Jay?"

Fuck. "No. No, it's not."

Bruce nods and gives Tim the 'faster' gesture. "It's tempting to teach him as much as possible as *quickly* as possible, to... hm. *Erase* the training you've given him so that he can... well, I suppose the motivation behind that revolves around possession."

Jason nods right back. "I did think it would take you longer to reach this point."

"Covetousness? Desire? Obsession? Truly, Jason?"

And okay, *that's* a point, but -- "*Truly*, B. He's not your usual type."

"Cynical, cold, occasionally quite harsh... when he isn't idealistic, warm, and relentlessly kind," Bruce says, and smiles. "I'd like to understand his contradictions a little better."

"And you think you can do that with your dick?"

"It seems to be worth a try... but no. I've never allowed myself that *particular* illusion -- or delusion, for that matter," and Bruce holds up the hand signal for stop before ordering Tim to practice his tumbling and flips. Hm.

"You should make him do that in the cape."

"I'm not sure he should have one."

"He should. In my world --"

"In your world, he presumably only had *my* training. Most of what you've given him would make a cape superfluous at best."

And the uncomfortable feeling for that... is a seriously uncomfortable feeling. Robin has a *cape* --

"You begin, perhaps, to recognize some of my reservations about having him be Robin?"

"He *is* Robin --"

"Yes," Bruce says, and fingers sketching the ghost of 'stand-down' in a way Jason finds familiar from way too many fights. Screaming matches in the Cave that always ended with Jason storming off on the bike and hating to take anything from the stupid, rich asshole --

Jason shakes his head. "Go on."

"He is Robin, and only a death will change that. But you already knew he'd be a different sort of Robin, entirely. You set *out* to make him a different sort of Robin, and, perhaps more importantly, to make him proud of that fact."

He *really* wants to argue that -- "His self-esteem was in the shitter, B. His parents..." Are set to have an incredibly *difficult* day in just a few weeks. "I didn't help, at first. Since I caught a clue, I've been doing what I could to improve things."

Bruce nods again. "Such things are important. So is the *protection* a cape can offer -- but only if it doesn't slow him down. You've done quite well without one."

"I have years Tim doesn't. And you know he hasn't had any crossfire training."

"Three days ago I introduced the subject. He was terrible in the cape, but entirely adequate without."

Jason grunts. "I." He doesn't have anything to go after that.

"You don't like it. I understand. And I haven't yet made up my mind," Bruce says, and they watch Tim in silence for a little while. He makes the mats his own, treating the assignment as though he's under attack from... hmm.

Jason would guess four or five large and well-trained targets. He pauses to attack with the staff every now and then, but mostly focuses on dodging and moving. "Do you have a better staff for him, yet?"

"In production. He'll have it as soon as it's finished."

Jason brings his hand to his mouth -- no, it's *Dick's* bad habit to chew his thumb. He just has to deal with everything in him that's making him want to fidget.


"You ever think about the fact that he *would* be ready if he was just a little bigger -- or if he wasn't capable of learning so much more?"

Bruce smiles with his eyes. "The bitter with the sweet. I also understand why you were taking him out as much as possible, but I can't. The fear is too great."

"You can't hold him back for much longer."

"No. But perhaps for long enough. I'll be using him to interrogate the more recalcitrant informants."

Jason crosses his arms over his chest again and tries to tell himself he feels comforted, steady -- "The way you used me."

"*Every* time we spar, he tries to cripple me. Sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. Tell me -- did he learn the more pain-oriented strikes faster or were you just more... assiduous?"

"Heh. A little of both. He's a vicious little bastard at heart."

"Which explains -- to a certain extent -- the attempts to maim me with his knife."

Which... hunh. Jason turns to face Bruce and raises his eyebrows.

Bruce keeps his eyes on Tim. "Yes, I let him train with it. I had to see how... natural he was with it. And then I had to see... more. Do you think you'll ever allow him to mark you?"

"I have. But not permanently... unless those bite marks scar. I..." Jason shifts, thinking about the seizing thing in him, the thing he can feel even now, that -- he has to admit -- he's been feeling all fucking *day* -- "If he wants to. If it feels right."

Bruce nods as if that was actually honest, and -- hell, maybe it was. No one's better at reading the truth under lies than Bruce is, full stop. And --

If Bruce has to know how Jason feels about that kid, then Bruce has to know. There's no way around that, and there never could've been. Maybe... maybe it even helps. Something.

"What... what can you tell me about how much and how quickly he'll grow?"

"That wasn't what you were going to ask."

Another smile, and this one narrows Bruce's eyes so much that it makes Jason ache, all over.

Diffuse and fucking *annoying* --

"Humor me for a little while," Bruce says, gesturing Tim to stop and then to the uneven bars.

Right. Well... "I was out of the country for most of Tim's tenure as Robin in my world, but my general impression -- and the records I acquired -- suggest slow growth and not much of it. He was only about an inch taller than he is now when he started out. Another five to six by the time he's seventeen."

"That fits my calculations. I'd hoped... well."

Jason nods and they walk over to watch Tim act like the acrobat he absolutely *could* be --

"If there were some other suitable candidate for Robin, would you have sent Tim to Dick?"

Jason thinks about that, because... he really hadn't. It was Tim and it had to *be* Tim, for a lot of different reasons. He doesn't want to say there was no one else -- if *anyone* could flat out *pull* a Robin out of the fucking ether, it's Bruce -- but... "Dick *should* have a hand in training him."

"Agreed. But you've done well, Jay. I... I never imagined that you would have the flexibility you've developed."

Jason laughs a little. "You wouldn't have been able to pull it out of me, B. I learned a whole hell of a lot by dying -- and by dying that *way*."

"Jay... you must know that you don't have to leave. If you want a civilian existence, something can be arranged. And you will always be --"

"Your son?"

Bruce swallows, but he still isn't looking away from Tim. "I wish -- I tried to be a father to you, to take the opportunity you'd given me, the *gift* you'd given me by allowing the adoption --"

"I never wanted you to be my father, B. I thought, maybe... once in a while, I imagined what it would be like if you *had* been my father in more than name... I don't know."

"Would you tell me what it was like in your fantasies?"

"Warm. Safe. Not at all *insane*." Jason laughs a little and bumps Bruce with his shoulder. "The fantasies always fell apart real damned fast. They depended on you being someone you just *weren't*... and me being able to deal with that."

"But if I had never been myself, *wholly* myself --"

"Then you would've been lying to me, and I *would've* picked that up sooner or later. And hated you for it the way I hated all the other adults who tried to snow me." He turns to look at Bruce again. "It's *just* like that thing with my father, B, only it would've been worse."

And Bruce is frowning when he looks at Jason, but he nods. "I've never loved anyone the way I love you, Jay."

"Heh, well, I *hope* not. Because the way you love me is seriously FUBAR."

Bruce nods again. "You were beautiful with Tim last night. The love you felt, the need he brings out of you --"

"He drives me fucking *crazy*. I -- there are things I want to do with him, people I'd like to *be*, but I can't, because when I look around, he's looking at me with those big eyes and suddenly I'm too hard to *think*."

"Because he needs you --"

"*Yes* --"

"Because he loves you, as well," Bruce says, and turns back to watch Tim work, watch him flip and turn and *fly*. "He has a curious beauty. I -- someone once called it the 'second-look' beauty, because it was completely unnoticeable until and unless one took the time to come to know the person involved. To tease out their contradictions and moments of perfection, to watch the person behind their eyes shift and change..."

"Yeah, that's about right. And -- someone?"

"Harvey Dent," Bruce says, and shakes his head. "I'm sorry, but it seemed... fitting."

Jason feels the scowl take his face and fights it back with the image of holding a gun to Dent's head --

Holding *two* guns to Dent's head and pulling the triggers --

No, he doesn't want to use guns unless it's necessary. He just -- doesn't. A knife would be good enough, quick and clean and neat... have you figured a way out of Arkham yet, Dent? Are you ready to die?


Sharp and neat as any order, because yeah, Bruce can hear him thinking, all right. "Leave it. I asked."

"What do you hope to achieve with the deaths of our enemies?"

"The deaths of our enemies. Look, Bruce, I know that more will rise in their place, that people like Dent and the Joker help keep the other criminals *down*, but the other criminals just aren't as fucking *poisonous* as they are. Small-timers or half-assed crime families, the lot of them -- or haven't you been paying attention to the crime stats in the cities that *don't* have their very own vigilantes? Hell, their very own criminal *brand*."

"Ivy told me once that there would always be 'freaks' for me. That they would spring fully-formed from the minds of the disturbed and imaginative, and that they would do so until the day I died -- or retired."

"A *dead* freak or two swinging from a lamp post will help, Bruce. You can't do anything about the real crazies but *end* them. Eventually, things will settle down *enough*," Jason says, and thinks about the gang war he'd helped put a stop to, about the blood on his hands and the machete he hadn't even been able to look at after the last head had finished rolling... "If you *didn't* hear the sense in what I'm saying, you'd have brought down Green Arrow years ago."

"He does more good than harm."

"He's a killer."

Bruce's jaw is tight -- "And so are you. But if you were entirely comfortable with it --"

"I wouldn't be defending myself right now, no," Jason says, smiling a little and shaking his head. "Part of me still needs you to love me --"

"I *do*, Jay --"

"Part of me will *always* need it, because you're the best man I've ever known, and I wish to God I could see the world you see, that I could *live* in that world, and only ever know love and warmth, hope and beauty..."

"Robin --"

"Is over *there*," Jason says, and thinks about pointing for good measure... but Tim would see it and wonder. He doesn't do it. "Your world is a wonderful place, B, but it's not the one the rest of us have to live in."

And Bruce is silent for a long moment, the only sign that anything is going on in his mind at all the way that he's tracking Tim's movements as Tim goes into the second routine Jason taught him.

The one he's better at than Jason will ever be.

Eventually, Bruce grunts. "Tim asked me, last night, what I thought about the concept of magical thinking. He was both skewering me with an exceedingly gentle -- and thorough -- touch and asking me a real question. He has yet to tell me where *he* slips into that particular failing."

Jason smiles because yeah, he can picture it. That eyebrow going up just a *little* as Tim kept himself from fidgeting by oh, say, stilling himself and thinking about cold things.

Or Jason's hand on the back of his neck.

Or -- something. Jason sighs a little. "I'd bet it has something to do with Batman and Robin. We're talking about a belief system he's devoted most of his *life* to, after all."

"By his account, it was *Dick* he devoted his life to -- and then Robin."

Jason raises a hand and waves it a little. "Can't get away from Batman. The dark knight who *saved* the little boy who still cries in his nightmares, night after night after night."

Bruce turns to look at him again, eyes just a little wide. "Is that -- no, in retrospect I know that's exactly what he thinks. What he *believes*. I have to tell him --"

"You could let him learn on his own," Jason says, smiling just a *little*.

"Oh, yes, that would go over positively brilliantly," Bruce says, and rubs a hand over his face. "He needs to speak to Dick immediately."

"Mm. I'd like to say that I try to save the Tim's-soul-destroying revelations for when he's feeling good and strong, but... that would be a *lie*."

Bruce grunts again and shakes his head. "*Saved* Dick. I. He tried to comfort me after you... after the Jason from this world died."

"So that was a cock-up."

"I hit him. I --" Bruce clenches his hands into fists. "Every small, fragile inroad we'd made into being able to speak with each other again, being able to *work* together... why is it, do you think, that I always seem to fail so spectacularly at things people with no training whatsoever in psychology manage without so much as a misstep?"

Jason grips Bruce's shoulder and shakes him a little. "You're kind of a fuckup that way, B. I mean, I know you already know that, but sometimes you just have to really put some time into *thinking* about it."

And Bruce's laugh... is an actual laugh, breathy and low. It only lasts for a moment, but it means the same thing it always has, *works* Jason the same way it always has.

It's a *victory*, and it's all for him. "Seriously, though. You'd just lost your *lover*, Bruce. Dick probably forgave you before he was all the way back to New York."

"He shouldn't. He shouldn't forgive me anything, Jay. The things I've said and done --"

"Are over," Jason says, and gives Bruce a good, solid squeeze before -- all right, so he's *not* letting go, just yet -- "Look at it this way -- the better you get along with Dick *now*, the happier your little Robin will be. The happier *he* is --"

"The happier you are, Jay...?" And Bruce gives him the damned eyebrow.

Jason jabs Bruce in the chest with two fingers on his free hand. "*And* you. That's the only real problem with the kid I can see. You *need* a little sunshine around you, and Tim was born with a damned Vitamin D allergy."

Bruce smiles. "It suits him well. And there's something soothing about not being the only one perpetually in a black mood. And something disconcerting about being the more cheerful one... but I plan to get used to that."

Jason snorts. "You *do* that."

Tim dismounts perfectly, which means he's tired enough to doubt his ability to continue *safely*.

Jason thinks about it --

"The beam, do you think?"

Yes, actually, but --

"The beam, Tim," Bruce says. "Staff and cape."

Tim's attention *lasers* in on the hand Jason has on Bruce's shoulder, which makes something seriously *twitchy* inside him, but -- he goes without a word or so much as a facial expression. Jason takes a breath.

"Tim has begun sharing dinners with me down here," Bruce says, in the idlest possible way. Distraction offered --

Distraction taken. "His parents are the most useless people on the planet."

"I have some recognition software set to 'mark' the recordings whenever... certain words are used."

Words like 'Tim,' 'son,' and 'kid,' probably. Jason shakes his head. "We'd all be better off if you just took him away from them."

"That sort of thing works a lot more smoothly when the parents in question are either dead or in prison, Jason," Bruce says, and that was fucking *arch* enough to *deserve* a laugh, but --

Haiti. The fucking *countdown* has started, and the tickets have already been purchased --

"Jay? What is it?"

And the solution is right there for him, sudden and kind of perfect, because Bruce wasn't *able* to save both Drakes in his world, despite being right *there*... "You're gonna have to pull their asses out of the fire in a little while -- assuming things keep going here the way the same way they went in my world."

"What's going to happen to them?" And all of the arch is out of his voice, leaving something dead serious and solid as a fucking brick. *Just* because they're parents.

"A kidnapping in Haiti -- they already have their tickets. I don't have all the details, but I know that the kidnapper *is* Haitian and that there are no other victims."

Bruce searches him hard, but that was nothing but the truth --

Even if it *was* offered with one hell of a lie in his *heart*.

"Both of them were killed?"

"The father survived -- barely. He spent a good, long while in a coma," Jason says, and shifts, a little --

"You think Tim is going to become suspicious of this particular conversation. And. You didn't tell him because there was nothing he could've done about it without raising suspicion."

*Something* like that...

Bruce frowns. "And because you don't want them to survive."

Jason spreads his hands. "Drake Industries writes a lot of paychecks to a lot of people who'd be starving without it. But the Drakes themselves are a waste of space -- and you know it."

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "Should I be surprised that you haven't killed them yourself?"

"I needed Tim to be on *my* side, B -- and he still loves them well enough, I'd bet. *And*... Tim is their only victim. I guess you could say I still have a few standards."

"Jay..." Bruce covers the hand Jason has on his shoulder with his own. "I have to save them."

You have to *try*. "I know you do, B. But I'm not gonna stop hoping you don't try all that hard. It's for the sake of *Gotham*, too."

"I don't care for omelets so much that I subscribe to the theory, Jay --"

Jason raises his other hand. "I know, I know. And I don't need you to. Let's go watch Tim make the beam his bitch," Jason says, and pulls away from Bruce --

Bruce squeezes his hand before letting go, and --

Yeah, Tim looks good up there. A little stiff and cautious, but that's only hurting his speed. The cape looks a little weird over workout clothes, but with the moves and the look on Tim's face...

It works. Or... it *could* work. He'll have to ask Tim how *he* feels about it, since there's no way in hell he doesn't know just how much he slips with it on.

Dick hadn't looked back once after ditching his cape, which... well, he'd been taking it off to fly long before he knew Bruce. Jason can feel Bruce studying both of them, and Jason has to own the fact that it feels good. He knows *exactly* what he'd given Bruce in Tim, and Tim is too good to fail in this. His balance is almost instinctive and the stiffness is fading as he works.

He's flushed with exertion, but Jason knows he can keep going long after the staff starts feeling like it's made out of lead --

"Do you think he'll believe you?"

When Jason tells him there was nothing more he could do for his parents? Jason can feel the heat rising all through him, and there's nothing he can do about it, nothing he can say but the truth Bruce will drag *out* of him --

"Oh, Jay... do you believe *me* when I say there's nothing wrong with your love?"

Love. Bruce was asking about *love*. Motherfucking *Christ* -- "Bruce, I'm not -- it's not *like* that."

"You can't stay away from him. You couldn't spare a moment when he came to you before you were leading him to your bed. He makes you *lose* yourself --"

"Fuckin' A, Bruce -- I." Jason turns enough to look at Bruce, at the hunger in his eyes that somehow doesn't have a thing to do with what's between *them*, and how Bruce even *manages* that --

He's Bruce.

"He just turned thirteen. That sort of thing is *rarely* part of any plan for a rational adult," Bruce says, raising an eyebrow again and still *beaming* out hunger.

Need. "I need him, I want him, and I don't -- it doesn't do anyone any good if I love him, because I'm not *staying*. So, no, I *don't* think he'd believe me if I said it, because I'm just going to be one more person who abandons him," Jason says --

Bruce looks just past Jason's shoulder, and it hits. Too loud. That was too fucking *loud*, and when he turns, Tim is standing there with the staff collapsed into a harmless stick, staring up at him with his eyes too wide and his body tensed so hard --

"Don't do that. Loosen up," and it's reflexive enough to come out a damned *order* --

And Tim relaxes himself deliberately, but doesn't stop staring even when he starts blushing. And --

He'd heard that. How *much* of it he'd heard is something -- no, he'd heard all of it, and now he needs --

He *needs*, and why the hell were they that close to the beam, anyway? Where was his fucking *head* --


And the look on his face has to be fucking awful right now, judging by how he *feels*, and that means it's necessary to get a hand on Tim's face, to feel warmth and the dampness of sweat, the proof of all the *work* Tim has done for this -- and for him.

*Bruce* -- is a pair of eyes currently burning holes in his *back*, and never mind the fact that he absolutely *would* be taking in every last detail of this little moment as opposed to focusing just on Jason, because sometimes how you *feel* has the right of it, and the facts are just... details.

Jason strokes Tim's cheekbone with his thumb. "I meant it," he says, knowing that it's useless with everything *else* he meant, knowing --

Tim makes a soft, high *noise* and turns his face against Jason's palm, kissing fucking *frantically* and whispering something Jason can't hear. That he doesn't *want* to hear, because it just makes all of this more real, all of it heavier and completely fucking *inescapable* --

Like the feel of Bruce's hand on his shoulder. "It wasn't always easy for me to say, Jay. Even in the privacy of my own mind."

And now Tim is gripping Jason's wrist, squeezing hard enough to be more than a little uncomfortable as he keeps kissing, whispering, nuzzling, and Jason thinks maybe he'd want to start *rubbing*, but that --

Jason pulls his hand back -- and brings Tim closer by default. "Tim --"

"I'm sorry. I'm honestly very -- sorry. It's just that right now, I need. I mean, I want. I mean -- I do believe you, Jay, because you wouldn't look like you'd just been stabbed in the liver if you didn't mean it, and I'd like to make it easier for you and I know I *can't*," Tim says, biting his lip and looking frustrated with himself, *pissed* at himself -- "I'm sorry. And I won't say that it's all right that you have to -- to leave, but I understand. And I hope that makes it. Better."

Ouch. Fucking -- he pulls Tim in against him, digging his chin in against the top of his head and holding on as tightly as he can. Fuck oxygen. Nothing is better when Tim wraps his arms around Jason's waist --

But nothing is worse, either.

What's worse, as sins go? Tim maybe wishing Jason never finds a way home, or to any home-*like* universe, or Jason wishing Tim's only family into the ground? Is there a balance sheet for that? Maybe a supercomputer fired up and ready to crunch the numbers?

Jason strokes Tim's back and feels Bruce moving closer -- for only a moment before the hand on Jason's shoulder is gone and Bruce has moved himself and his fucking *presence* somewhere Jason can't quite feel him. He *hates* when Bruce does that, because the only time it works is when Bruce is in some way closed *off* from him, and that's not the way partners *work* --

But he isn't Bruce's partner, anymore, and Jason knows, down deep,. that Bruce is only doing it to give Jason as much *space* with Tim as possible. Not that he needs much --

He needs enough. Jason sighs and kisses the top of Tim's head, breathing in the scent of him and taking the rush of familiar desire, the *seize* inside him --

Tim pulls back and smiles at him very, very cautiously.

Jason offers a rueful one in return and then turns to *look* for Bruce -- who is helping Alfred with the dinner tray. Alfred isn't staring at him or anything like that, but he's having a lot more trouble setting things out than he should, which...

Yeah. Jason retrieves Alfred's present from the pannier and gets back just in time to watch Bruce catch the pitcher of lemonade before Alfred drops it.

"I got something for you, Al."

"That truly wasn't necessary... Master Jason," Alfred says, and when he looks up, there's suspicion and fear in his eyes, but mostly there's *hope*, and that particular brand of cautious affection...

Jason smiles and offers the book. "Necessary means different things to different people."

Alfred blinks and takes it, swallowing and closing his eyes for just a moment. When he opens them, they're clear and blank and professional, and that...

Jason smiles a little wider and shoves his hands in his pockets. "I really, really missed you."

"Then perhaps you should consider not staying away... for quite so long. I understand we have you to thank for Master Tim's presence in our lives?"

"He would've found his way here sooner or later. I just thought sooner was a little better," Jason says, and watches Bruce and Tim sit down to eat out of the corner of his eye --

Three place settings. He *really* should've known --

"Well. The least I can do is be sure that you have a good meal before you leave us again," Alfred says, and gestures, smoothly and subtly, at the table.

"I -- heh. Noted, Al. And thank you."

"You're very welcome, indeed, Master Jason," and Alfred inclines his head and starts walking up the stairs with the book sandwiched between his gloved palms.

He'd *sent* presents to Alfred in his own world and called it enough to the hungry thing in him, promised it was *enough* to the *raging* thing in him...

Jason sits down and eats, noting that -- at least while *he's* here -- Bruce and Tim do it in silence and across from each other. Getting Bruce to talk about little things was never the easiest thing in the world, and lord knows Tim's *used* to eating in silence --

And the slight twitch at the corners of Tim's mouth is a smile he's ruthlessly beating back, which is cuter than it has any fucking right in the universe to be. Jason swallows a bite of roasted asparagus and reaches across the table to tap Tim's plate with his fork.

Tim looks up with eyes that are almost fucking *brimming* and Jason pretty much has to smile at him again.

"Better than eggs and milk, hunh?"

Tim lets the smile all the way onto his face. "You're a good cook, Jay."

"Necessity is the mother of a whole lot of scrambled eggs, kid," Jason says, and looks at Bruce --

Who was managing to do nothing but stare *at* Jason for fuck only knows how long without registering past the great, big *wall* of Tim currently blocking out large portions of Jason's mind. Bruce looks pleased and starved at *once*, and Jason smiles at him, too, taking a little advice from the *fourteen*-year-old that still lives in him, sometimes --

Things being fucked up is no reason not to have a little fun, sometimes.


Magical thinking is a funny kind of thing. It doesn't matter how stupid and damaging you *know* it is -- it's still pretty fucking tempting. Like this:

For the afternoons when he heads out to the manor, he leaves the portable sensor at home. The semi-rational reason is the fact that the anomalies only really seemed to pop off regularly in heavily-populated areas. The *real* reason is that a part of him honestly believes that he has a better chance of *getting* an anomaly -- and the kind of one he actually wants -- if he leaves it unwatched for a certain fraction of time every day. Like maybe one will go *just* as he gets back to the gym, because, hey -- it's Gotham, and stranger things happen every fucking day.

The fact that this means he gets to spend time working out in the Cave and not incidentally watching Tim get better and better... is a fact. And gravy. And nothing he's going to deny himself. He drops Tim back home every evening, he patrols, and he climbs in Tim's window every night and gets what he needs, pressing on new bruises with his fingertips and thinking idly about where he's going to put the next scar and what it'll be.

He *doesn't* use his knife, but he uses everything else -- and he gets Tim used to having sex with the bedside lamp on, because *sometimes* Bruce will break off patrol and lurk.

Mostly on the rooftop with the best view, but once actually in the corner of Tim's bedroom. Jason's not sure how long he was there -- he was pretty damned *focused* on the sight, feel, taste, smell, and *not* sound of Tim tied to his own bedposts and gagged, but he'd obviously been there long *enough* --

And had stayed after Jason had left. Jason had paused on that rooftop for long enough to see Bruce massaging Tim's wrists and saying *something*, and then he'd gone back to the gym and had a long and restless night filled with images and fantasies.

He hasn't told Bruce or Tim that he wants to be there when they *do* finally do it, and it's an itch at the back of his brain, because he doesn't think it's obvious *enough* what he wants.

There are other itches. The silent sensor, the fact that Dent's *long* overdue for that breakout, the fact that Dick still doesn't know anything, the fact that every fucking *day* he gets closer to sweeping Bruce's feet out from under him and pinning in, having him, *taking*. Fuck resolutions and good intentions, he's *right there*.

The fact that Bruce has booked his own flight to Haiti --

The fact that Bruce can feel him, that Bruce is *knowing* him, that Bruce is lurking somewhere at the back of his mind every time he snaps some asshole's collarbone or slices off an ear --

The fact that Tim *isn't* with him and could be, should be --

Batman and Robin, and maybe it's just the multiverse having a good belly laugh at his expense, because he really had thought he'd get away from it by now. Yes, even *with* all of his plans.

Jason snorts to himself. Right now, he's going through Bruce's files on gang activity and wondering -- for not even close to the first time -- where Bruce *finds* the time to get this kind of information. He's got the girlfriends and occasional boyfriends, he's got the kids' names and sometimes where they go to school... everything to make the occasional interrogation by the Batman *good* and terrifying.

It's the sort of thing that makes it impossible not to wonder just what kind of information was available about Willis Todd back in the days before Two-Face killed him. Did Bruce have *his* name down? Maybe a picture or two? Bruce has always talked like meeting Jason was some kind of revelation to his *soul*, but...

But. Jason keeps working and studying. The information will come in handy on the street, and also he doesn't especially want to turn around, because...

*Right* now, Bruce and Tim are having a spar. Most of the noise coming through are the sounds of two *very* different pairs of feet moving on the mats and of two staves clacking and occasionally sliding against each other. The fact that Bruce hasn't *used* a staff since some sensei somewhere had taught him how is meaningless against the fact that he's *Bruce*, and is thus still *exactly* that good with one.

*He* could almost certainly pick up a few things just by watching them go, but --

It's hard to watch them spar. It's --

It's two bodies he's deeply, deeply fond of in *motion*, two bodies punishing each other and moving, striking, and moving again. It's Bruce and it's *Tim*, and how many spars has he had with both of them which have ended in sex?

The answer is a deeply sincere 'a *lot*,' and he just doesn't want to start something here -- both because he doesn't think he's fucking *emotionally* up to finishing it and because he's not sure of *Tim*. It's not that Tim has been *especially* wary of Bruce -- certainly not enough to put a crimp in the training -- but the wariness is still there.

Sometimes when they're all down here in the Cave, Jason thinks he can *feel* it. A sense of being watched, of being *measured* for something he'd never signed on for. A sense of his mouth being both a little on the raw side and his arm being obvious about being wounded -- even though Jason doesn't even have any *old* scars where Tim has his new ones.

A part of Jason is only waiting -- impatiently -- for Tim to reach for what he *does* want, to lay down a few ground rules so that Bruce can set about changing Tim's mind about them. To give it *up*, and while Jason can recognize that his motivations *and* desires around the whole thing are pretty damned murky, his dick has a *pretty* fair idea of what it wants --

And what it's not *getting* no matter *how* many bite marks Tim has been leaving on his shoulders, his chest, and just a *little* one on his neck --

Which had felt so good that Jason had wound up fucking Tim a second time just for the throb of the thing with his pulse --

*Clack* go the staves, and those are Tim's footsteps as he tries to get away from what would be a seriously powerful shove from Bruce --

Clack-*clack*, and that means Bruce is on the attack, chasing Tim around the mats and making Tim work for every single dodge, every abortive attempt to get a strike in of his own --

Jason *reads* and ignores the fucking Technicolor images in his mind, the layout of the Cave, the things Tim might use to protect himself --

Oh, but that was an *interesting* noise. A little *thunk* which Jason's pretty sure means that Bruce had given Tim an opening to throw his knife, only to dodge and have the thing bury itself in... it would be one of the dummies, judging by what the sound of footsteps tell him about where the spar has taken them --

And yeah, he's still reading -- it's just that he's gone over one particular line of text about this guy's seriously dangerous grandmother *eight* times.

Motherfuck. He spins Bruce's chair around and looks --

And watches Bruce approach Tim at about three quarters of the speed he *can* use, giving Tim just a little time to read his eyes --

Tim swings and leaps to the side, tucking his legs in to avoid the end of Bruce's strikes --

And then Tim rolls to his feet and attacks, spinning his staff to avoid Bruce's strikes and absolutely feeling every vibration of contact in his hands. Jason had taught him to push through the inevitable bouts of numbness spiked through with pain, which, considering how *many* strikes and slashes Bruce is aiming at the kid, has to be pretty severe by now.

They're both silent and *focused*, and Jason wonders if he would've had an easier time concentrating if Tim -- never Bruce -- had maybe let out a few grunts and cries --

Okay, no, that was one of his *stupider* thoughts. As it is...

Tim doesn't get *frustrated* the way Jason did back when he was in training -- and still does. Jason knows Tim would deny that if it was ever phrased to him that way, but Jason doesn't think it should count *as* frustration if you can control it the way Tim does.

He never loses sight of just how dangerous his opponents are -- or can be -- and he never deviates from the lessons he's been taught. Whether it's the gymnastic perfection of that jump over Bruce's sweep or the perfect cruelty of that back-strike which would've taken out the kneecap of a good, solid, ninety to ninety-five percent of the opponents Tim's likely to face on the street.

Bruce, of course, just steps *around* it, but Tim doesn't even growl before moving back into defensive mode and focusing on staying alive. He's had two falls before now, and Jason knows, deep down, that Tim is desperate to avoid a third before Bruce calls time.

He knows that feeling for himself, that sense of wanting -- *needing* -- to at least win one on a *technicality*. It'll be years of pain, practice, and *growth* before Tim's a match for either one of them, but he thinks, maybe, that *Tim* doesn't think that way. It may be because he doesn't expect to live that long -- which is an attitude which would kind of suit the little bastard -- or it could be something else entirely. Maybe something like the hero worship they've been beating out of him in one way or another since this whole thing started?

It *could* be -- it's not like either of them have taken the shine off *Dick*, and shines like that are the kinds of things that can really spread the fuck *out*...

No, he doesn't know for sure, and a *large* part of him is willing to just call it Tim being Tim and leave it at that. Sometimes he thinks he would've been able to *deal* with Tim a lot faster if he *did* get frustrated... but that doesn't work, either, because then he would've had an *excuse* to take it out on the kid, which would've made the eventual sex a lot more fucked up.

Possibly even *too* fucked up. Not that he'd know *anything* about that. Jason laughs to himself and watches Tim strike and move, taking Bruce's *hard* blocks and working through them, not hesitating, not losing his rhythm even though he's probably numb from the elbows down, by now.

That kind of stamina... it hadn't taken *Jason* all that long to learn it, but he'd had a whole lot of rage on his side, the determination not to take *any* of this lying down.

Tim has Robin, and Jason guesses that desire is enough. Maybe those tastes Jason had given him of the real city, of the feel of blood spattering your cheek...

He wants Tim *out* there with them. Tonight, right now --

He wants Tim on the back of his bike or riding next to him on his own. Bruce has already started the driving lessons, but Jason hasn't been here for any of them. Hasn't *let* himself be there for them, and why not? Why the fuck *not*?

And the weight of all those other universes, all those possibilities, all that unfinished *business* in his own universe --

Damn --

And Bruce has picked up speed. He's not giving Tim *all* he's got, but he's giving a sizable fraction of it, and...

The *thing* about Bruce is that he's big enough that you don't *just* miss how fast he can be, you miss him *being* fast even when he's doing it right at you. And right now, he's trying hard to make Tim panic -- on top of just trying to drop him or make him give up --

It's not going to work. He knows that in his *bones*, because if you can't get the kid frustrated, you sure as fuck can't make him feel any more fear than he already does. That fear... Jason would bet that Tim's been living with fear since he was old enough to realize that his parents *would* just up and leave -- or start tearing strips off each other and maybe anyone who got too close to them -- if they got pissed enough.


*Haiti* --

Not right now, because it's fucking beautiful to watch Bruce fight Tim back across the mats, watch him push and shove and strike and --

And there was a *kick* that Tim *just* managed to bend himself under, but it's making Tim unsteady now, a little slow to get his balance back --

"You're on a *ledge*, kid --"

And Tim gets his balance back just that fast, dancing along the fake ledge until he gets *just* far enough away to get back on the 'roof' proper --

"A potentially dangerous fantasy," Bruce says, and comes in hard --

"But a -- useful one," and Tim is spinning his staff against the strikes, using its length and his own stamina, speed --

Clack-*crack* and Tim's staff is in two pieces -- which he immediately tries to stab Bruce with.

Jason snorts *and* grips himself through his pants --

"Time," Bruce says, and there's a smile in his voice that's even bigger and wilder than the one on his face.

Tim grins back -- and then frowns at the pieces of his staff.

"Go to the supply closet, Tim," Bruce says, standing down and still smiling, and Jason knows what it *means*, but it's possible that Tim doesn't, just yet.

He watches Tim jog over to it and gives himself a good, *solid* squeeze -- and the feel of Bruce's gaze on him is enough to get him out of the chair and moving, so that he's close enough to hear Tim's soft little 'oh' as, yes, he discovers the newer, tougher staves.

Jason moves closer and rests his hands on Tim's shoulders from the back, leaning in close to his ear. "Sometimes money -- and a team of *extremely* short-sighted eggheads -- is a *real* good thing, kid."

"I. I broke *your* staff, Jay --"

"No, *Bruce* broke *your* staff. Someone was going to, eventually -- be glad it happened while you were safe and could *get* new ones," Jason says, and gives Tim's shoulders a squeeze.

"It's. All right, but."

"Feelin' sentimental? Save that for the first time your sweet little knife goes flying off a bridge. *That* you can cry for," and Jason steps back and pulls Tim with him.

He's got the broken staff pieces in one hand and the new staff in the other, and Bruce is watching every moment of this, watching Jason spin Tim around to face him, watching him tilt Tim's head back and look down into those wide eyes, those eyes that are only cold if you're not *doing* it right --

"How are you feeling?"

"Ah -- good. Exhilarated. Not entirely sure if my arms are still attached."

Bruce hums quietly.

Jason grins. "Oh, they are. Why don't you let me help you check...?"

And those eyes go *very* wide, before Tim smiles up at him and *starts* to reach --

And then very obviously *remembers* that Bruce is right there. Heh. Jason strokes Tim's cheekbones. "It's all right."

"I -- we've never. Here. And that seems. Like a very important step," Tim says and *just* barely turns enough that he can see Bruce --

And it falls into place. What he has to do and how this *has* to be. "Look at me, Tim. Only at me."

"Oh." Tim swallows and does it. "You're really. You want --"

"After watching that spar? I *need*," Jason says, placing the new staff in the hand with the pieces and bringing Tim's empty hand to his crotch --

Tim squeezes him immediately and licks his pretty lips, making it *incredibly* obvious and important that he has a *mouth*, and that that mouth is getting to be as skilled as the rest of him.

"Mm. You feel good, Tim."

"Better by the moment, actually. I..." Tim smiles, quick and sharp. "If you're sure it's all right --"

"Yes," Bruce says, and it's as useless as it always is to ask just *when* he'd gotten that close, because he's *right* there, big as life and moving behind Tim. Out of his field of vision.

Wide eyes again, and Tim's hand *spasms* on Jason's dick.

"Mm. Don't get fancy just yet," and Jason grins and peels off his t-shirt -- and gets his field of vision back just in time to watch Bruce gently and carefully removing the new and old staves from Tim's free hand. Which immediately winds up on his chest.

Tim touches him the way he always does when he still has most of his control, with a firm and thorough care that skirts the line between clinical and hot. He's squeezing Jason rhythmically as he strokes and touches -- and doesn't *quite* touch the bite marks he's left. Which --

"Touch them. *Feel* them -- they're yours."

Tim shivers and searches his eyes -- and then *presses* on the latest bite mark hard enough to make Jason grunt for the pain, the body memory and the *sting*.

It makes Jason want to ask Tim if he'll mark Bruce that way, but he knows it's not time for that, yet, even with Bruce *right* there behind him. Maybe *because* Bruce is right there behind him.

Tim moves to each bite mark in turn, pressing harder and harder as the bites get older until Jason is pushing into Tim's other hand. They're staring into each other's eyes in just the right way to make the feeling get stronger, to make Jason get *higher* on all the sex that's right there for him.

What *does* he want to do with Tim? He wants to reward him for being just *that* good in the spar, but that doesn't necessarily mean a blow job. His dick is pointing out very true and wonderful things about Tim's mouth and ass, but he's not sure how that will fly *when* Bruce starts joining in. Tim loves to blow *him*, but that doesn't feel like *quite* enough --

Except for the image he gets of lying on his back for it while Tim crouches over him, while Bruce eats Tim's *ass* --

Oh, fuck yeah. Jason pushes a hand into Tim's hair and gives it a *good* grip --

"Oh. Yes, Jay --"

"You know how good you looked today, Tim?"

"I -- was trying hard. I still can't actually *feel* what I'm doing with my hands except for flashes, pressure --"

"I couldn't look away from you and Bruce. Couldn't tear my *eyes* away."

"It was... a good spar," Tim says, and smiles at him again, stepping closer and pushing up onto his toes to kiss and lick the bite marks, suck them a little --

"Oh, yeah. Like that," Jason says, and thinks about closing his eyes --

And doesn't, because Bruce is right there looking at him, hungry and *happy*, and Jason knows it's because they're doing this here, that Bruce has been waiting to *have* this here --

But it's not *time* for Bruce, yet, and one part of Jason is screaming about how it shouldn't *ever* be and another part is screaming that it's *always* time --

And Tim is sucking kisses all over Jason's chest, moving around closer and closer to his nipples -- and veering off to scrape his teeth over Jason's pecs.

Jason snorts. "Tease."

Tim pulls back *just* enough to let Jason see the little bit of *sly* in his eyes before he *darts* back in and bites Jason's right nipple.

"Fuck, that's good. That's -- nnh. Love your mouth, kid..."

Tim hums and *sucks* -- and then alternates sucking and biting for long enough that Jason's hard-on goes from being interested to being *just* a little demanding. Jason toes off his boots before thinking about it, and there's a little spike of fear and shock in him, but --

Yeah, he's staying a while. When he tugs, Tim moves to his *other* nipple and repeats the process, and when he *looks*...

Bruce is staring at his wet nipple, and almost seems to be trying to *will* it to get harder -- or maybe just to get closer to *his* mouth. And Bruce rests his hands on Tim's shoulders. *Lightly* --

Tim shivers again and sucks hard, moaning something that sounds like a question but *feels* like a statement, like maybe he just *needs* to let Jason know that Bruce is touching him and that that's a *serious* thing, even though it's still --

No, it's not innocent, at all.

"You've been getting him used to your touch, Bruce...?"

"I never like treating people like horses which need to be gentled, but it's something I seem to find myself doing... often."

"Heh. Well... bitter with the sweet," Jason says, and pulls Tim back away from him altogether. His lips are wet and his eyes are already just a little hazed. Dazed.


Jason steps back and strips off his pants and boxer briefs.

"Jason," Tim says, and it sounds like 'beautiful' and 'please' and a lot of other things Tim still has enough of his control not to say --

"Jay," and Bruce tightens his grip *just* slightly on Tim's shoulders -- enough to make Tim tense and blink.

"Forget yourself for a minute there, Tim?"

"I -- yes --"

"*Go* with that," Jason says and gets down on his back on the mats, resting on his elbows --

And Bruce releases Tim, who immediately drops to his knees between Jason's legs and starts scanning him, going over him like a boy-shaped supercomputer on a *mission*.

"Make me harder, Tim."

Tim moans -- cuts himself off and shakes his head before wrapping both hands around Jason's dick. "Did you have... preferences?"

Jason smiles and tilts his head to one side and then the other. "Yeah, I *think* I do," and he arches his hips up just slightly --

"Oh, I really love. I love. This touch. The right to have this touch. I -- Jay," Tim says, and there's a pleading look in his eyes when he starts to stroke, a hungry and needy and *Tim* look, and it makes Jason want to beat down everyone who ever turned *away* from whatever milder, quieter versions of that look Tim gave them and makes him want to thank them *profusely*, because --

"All mine."

"*Yes*," Tim says, and now there's determination in that look, something like anger --

And Bruce drops to his knees behind Tim and *strokes* Tim's shoulders, massages them a little -- and possibly gets off a little at the feel of them working for what Tim's doing to Jason's dick. Bruce's eyes are *only* on Tim right now, focused on the back of Tim's neck for the flush -- maybe -- as his fingers brush Tim's throat in a way that's about as accidental as a gunshot from a trained sniper.

Tim's breathing hitches for each brush and Jason's *pretty* sure that he's not completely aware of the way he's stroking and squeezing Jason faster, more purposefully --

Such *good* little hands, but --

"Come up here and suck my nipples a little more, Tim."

Tim nods and does it -- *not* letting go --

In the same way as Bruce just kind of lets his hands *slide* down Tim's back. He's going to need Tim's shirt off soon. *Jason's* gonna need that shirt off soon, but right now he has Tim's mouth, and he's a good, good boy who isn't *just* sucking.

He's mouthing, nibbling, biting *hard* every now and again as he *works* Jason, and the only possible response is to arch up into that touch as much as he can and push his hands back into Tim's hair, letting his abs do a little of the work so he can still see everything --

See *Bruce*, and the way his hands are moving on Tim's back, and -- God, *teeth*, and that sharply *electric* rush between his nipples and his dick, that warm and *tight* feeling between his dick and every other part of his body --

His skin is already prickling with fresh sweat and they haven't gotten *close* to the main event. Unless --

How much control does he *want* to have once Bruce starts touching Tim for real? How much does he want to be able to think?

Bruce hits a *good* spot and Tim groans against Jason's chest, shudders all over and tenses up again --

"Don't do that, Tim."

Tim nods and squeezes his eyes shut, deliberately relaxing himself --

"It took me nearly a year to be able to do that effectively," Bruce says, voice low and admiring...

Heh. "Maybe you just didn't have the right kind of *motivation*, B," and Jason yanks Tim off and up into a kiss that feels like a finally, tasting something a little sweet and illusory in Tim's mouth before coaxing that tongue into his own mouth so he can suck on it a little, and a little more than that. And then he slows things down -- enough that Tim can let go of Jason's dick and shift into a straddle of Jason's waist and *stroke* Jason's chest.

The touches are still controlled, and that's starting to be a *problem*. He wants the clinging, the scratches, those hot moments when Tim's digging in with his short nails like he's trying to get a good enough grip that he can rip Jason's skin off in more ways than the metaphorical.

And he knows exactly how to get them. He slips his hands out of Tim's hair and strokes down his back, sliding over Bruce's hands with a shiver he can't bank before getting to Tim's waist.

Workout shorts are light and *weak* things, nothing like the uniform Tim'll be wearing again *soon*. Bruce could rip Tim's off in a heartbeat, and so could Jason with a little more leverage, but -- not that. He pushes them down, instead, taking the *high* noise Tim makes into his mouth for his own.

You're bare now, he wants to say. Bruce can *see* you -- and what are you gonna do about it? But not *yet*. Maybe after the jock comes off --

And oh, those are Bruce's hands working on that *right* now, moving slowly and gently while Tim shakes and kisses Jason *harder* --

Jason pulls back and *bites* Tim's lip when he tries to come in for more. "Easy."

"I -- okay? I'm not. Sure."

"We are -- and you *will* be," Jason says, smiling to make that a little softer and trying to will a little of his dick-led confidence into Tim, trying to make him *feel* it...

But words matter, too.

"You seriously *don't* know how good you look like this -- sprawled out and flushed, mouth open --"

Tim closes it and *blushes*, turning a deeper red that just --

"And sometimes I just wanna spank your little ass until you *really* turn red for me," and Jason grips Tim's ass and spreads him a little --

"Oh. Oh, please, I don't -- Jay --"

"Are you looking, Bruce?"

"Memorizing," Bruce says, and strokes Jason's fingers before moving them --

"Oh, *God* --" Tim squeezes his eyes shut again, tenses -- relaxes and *pants* --


"I'm stroking his cleft. I admit to being somewhat... focused in my touches."

Which means he's teasing that little hole, which in *turn* means that Tim is thinking about all the *other* things Bruce could be doing --

And making a lot of soft and incredibly sexy little noises which really shouldn't be *anything* of the kind. The kind of noises that suggest -- fucking *scream* about what Tim will be like *after* he's fucked, when his eyes are still closed and his body won't stop clenching around what he's speared on -- "God, you're making me crazy, Tim --"

"*Please*, Jay. He's. He's not --"

"He's not *me*, I know. But he knows what you like. And what you can *take*. Right, Bruce?"

"It's a subject which has held the lion's share of my attention for some time, now," Bruce says, and --

Tim's eyes fly open wide -- "Oh *fuck* --"

*Agreed*, but -- "Finger inside you?"

"Y-yes. Just -- not far. Oh. He's *inside* me, Jay --"

"Feeling your heat, Tim. *Knowing* it a little. Does it burn?"

Tim nods -- shakes his head and then nods again. *While* he's tensing and relaxing himself almost with the same rhythm of his breathing. It's fucking *terrifying* to watch, and it makes Jason's dick *twitch*.

Jason licks his lips. "You know what I want, Tim."

Tim opens his eyes, and the plea in them is desperate, wet and soft, somehow. *Young* --

"Then let yourself feel it. *All* of it. Because... it's fucking beautiful to *watch*."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut again and nods, biting his lip and pushing back against Bruce's hand --

And the breath Bruce takes is shaky and manages to seem louder and *be* more important than the bats, the generators --

But Tim makes another one of those sounds and that cuts right through everything, reminding Jason -- of what he wants right *now*.

"Pull out, Bruce --"

"Not... just yet. Please," he says, and cups Tim's hip with his free hand. "I'd like to... Tim. I'd like very much to give you pleasure."

Tim makes a sound like he's taken a hit --

He doesn't *make* sounds when he takes hits, and Jason's dick wants him to know that Tim should be *on* him, pressed to him for that slight and *cautious* rock, that *obedient* rock --

Jason strokes Tim's hair and cups the back of his head. "Will you let him?"

"Yes," Tim says, and this time when he opens his eyes he looks clear, *focused* -- and then they go wide and he shudders all over, moaning long and low --

"I've noticed," Bruce says, "that you don't often spare much time to stimulate Tim's prostate as opposed to simply preparing him."

Jason smiles and pets Tim a little more, shifting until he's braced on one elbow and his abs can let him focus on his *dick*. "And now you've got me thinking of all those times when you would finger me until I came cursing you *and* all your ancestors. Guess I just get distracted easier than you do, B."

Bruce nods as if Jason had just given him a piece of *important* information and squeezes Tim's hip before letting his hand move on Tim's back, over to Tim's other hip, down and maybe between Tim's thighs --

"*Nnh* -- please. Oh. Oh, God --"

"Tell me, Tim --"

"My -- sac. His hand. I'm not sure *why* it's so easy to tell the relative size of Bruce's hand with my sac, but. It is, and I -- may I...?" And Tim rests his head on Jason's chest, ear right over Jason's heart -- "Oh... please."

"God, yeah, Tim. You just... take a minute," Jason says, and wonders if Tim will try to measure out an *exact* minute  -- "Take longer. And don't be afraid to make those noises for me. For *us*."

"Yes. Please," Bruce says, and whatever he does makes Tim moan again, scratch a little at the mats --

"Heh. Maybe *you* should tell me what you're doing, B."

"I've begun a light thrusting motion, and am manipulating his scrotum."

"Mm," and Jason keeps stroking and petting Tim's hair, occasionally slipping down to the back of his neck and squeezing there. Every time he does Tim gets a little... looser. More pliant. More ready? Maybe, but they're taking it a little easy for now, easing Tim into this as much as possible --

"I haven't had this. I haven't felt -- this," Bruce says, frowning and shaking his head.

"Feel *free* to elaborate. Dad."

Bruce looks up sharply, *warningly*, and the only possible response to that is to squeeze the back of Tim's neck again and raise his eyebrows.

"I only meant... it's not. It's difficult to *describe*," and Bruce shifts, maybe reaches --

"*Oh* --"

"His penis, now. He's only half-hard, and I confess that I can't accept that," and Bruce doesn't need to describe *this* --

Jason can see it in the way his shoulder's moving, *hear* it in the way Tim pants for every stroke and then starts crooning a little, long sounds with a lot of o's and n's. He's working his hips a little more seriously now, and really, there's only so much fear and confusion can do against being thirteen years old and in the hands of someone *truly* dedicated. "Tell me more about how this is different, B. I think Tim should hear it."

"I've been considering how to describe it. It's been such a long time since I've had to *doubt* the purely physical desire you've felt for me... but Tim is different. If he ever truly wanted any part of me that way, it would've been the Batman... and I wonder if that's what I should be providing."

"Good question. Tim?"

Tim rubs his face against Jason's chest in something that feels like a 'no' *and* a 'please.'

"C'mon, freakboy. This is *important* --"

"Lies. It would -- *ohn*. It would be a lie, and I can't -- there are too many of those. Already."

Jason blinks. "How do you mean? Be *specific*," Jason says, and squeezes Tim's neck again --

"He doesn't want to touch -- he wants *you*, Jay, and I do, too, and I don't understand -- oh, *fuck*, Bruce, *Bruce* --"

"I don't understand how you could doubt my desire for you, Tim. And I feel driven to provide incontrovertible proof. Shall I offer a fantasy while I stimulate you this way?"

"I -- what. No, you just -- Jason, please *let* him, and I'll be all right, I'll -- " Tim *shouts*, tensing in a *much* better way --

"I thought you knew, kid. I'm not giving you up for even a *minute*," Jason says, arching enough that he's painting Tim's chest and upper abdomen with pre-come --

"I have been jealous, Tim. Of every moment you've touched Jason, of every moment you've looked at him and heard his voice while I was alone. Even now it's an ache in me -- but it's soothed by *this*. Your lithe and beautiful body that changes every day, your voice when you cry out, this pleasure you offer to Jason on the *altar* of your body. I. Forgive me this," Bruce says, shifting --

He's pulling out and *moving*, pulling Tim back until his head is flush to Jason's mound --

"Bruce. What -- *fuck*," and Tim is managing to sound both scandalized and lashed *down* on the fucking rock of his own arousal. Which --

Jason should've known that he wouldn't have to say anything to get Bruce on his wavelength. For this, for *sex* -- they've always been together *enough*, always been close to each other, and if sometimes that meant they were too close for anything *like* Jason's comfort...

Well, he *has* wanted Tim to feel this. *Just* this, because being honestly helpless does funny damned things to arousal, makes the body fight harder to *take* its pleasure from whatever is actually happening, and the only thing to do, the only thing that can make it okay --

"It's all right, Tim," Jason says, reaching down so he can keep petting Tim some. "You know you -- that that feeling does it for you --"

Tim sobs and *grips* Jason's hips. His own are working hard for Bruce, for Bruce's tongue deep within him --

"Yeah, hold on tight. Just..." Honesty. Give it *up* -- "I know you think this is just because I won't let Bruce touch me --"

Bruce groans and *jerks* Tim closer --

Tim sobs again and holds *on* --

"Easy, *both* of you. I --" Jason laughs softly and moves his hand so he can stroke Tim's face, brush tears from the corners of his eyes and bring them down to Tim's mouth... "The *truth* is that I can't wait, anymore. Can't hold on to all the reasons why I *haven't* been letting Bruce at me. It's always there and always *possible*, and -- heh. I'm only a man."

"Jay. This feeling. I can't -- there's nothing I can *do*," Tim says, and turns, lifts his head to look at Jason --

To let Jason *see* him. "I know there isn't. There never *is*, and that's part of what makes it so fucking *attractive*. You've gotta remember that *what* you are is at least as hot as *who* you are, Tim."

Bruce groans again, and the angle is just good enough to let him see those huge fucking hands flexing on Tim's hips as *he* tries to control himself and maybe convince himself to *just* do this as opposed to kneeling up and shoving *in* --

Jason shivers, and there's a question in Tim's eyes under all of the pleading --

"It's *okay*, Tim. I need you to know just how *much* Bruce wants you, and you need to know it, too. It changes everything, right down to... God, right down to how the two of you are on the *street*."

"Power. I. There's a... power?"

Jason grins. "God, you're good. *Yes*. Yeah, that's just it. And just because it's a power that leads to you being on your knees with a face full of my *crotch* doesn't mean that it's not a *good* power."

And at first Jason thinks that's another sob -- and another one after *that*, but they keep going, and Jason realizes that Tim's laughing, that it sounds terrible *and* ridiculously hot --

That it's making Bruce grunt like a fucking *animal* --

That *he's* gripping and pulling on Tim's hair until --

Fuck, such sweet heat, wet and slick, tight the way only Tim's *throat* can be, because he hadn't waited to take a deeper breath before sucking Jason *in*, choking off his own laughter --

And staring *deep* into Jason's eyes, sharing the kid in him, the adult in him, the *Robin* in him --

"You make me feel --" Jason gasps on a laugh and strokes Tim's face, brushing at the deep concentration line and wondering a little about destiny, inevitability -- "I love you for letting me have this, Tim. I'll always -- fuck, your *mouth* --"

Tim's making noises deep in his chest, noises for him and noises for Bruce --

"I promise -- I'm *pretty* sure it can't get any more fucked up --"

Tim narrows his eyes and pulls *off* --

Not far. Just enough to *get* a breath before going back down, taking Jason in where he belongs, where it's as right and irresistible as it has to be --

"God, fuck, *Tim* --"

And Jason groans because his own eyes are closed now and he can't quite figure out *how* to get past the wall of feeling to open them, take more of this --

"Mine. *Mine* -- oh, mother*fucker* --"

Teeth and suction at once, and the fucking full-*bodied* clench of Tim's throat, the way it's working for him, working *him* --

His eyes are open again and he can look, focus on the way Tim's eyes are dazed again, on the way he's drooling for this and for what Bruce is *doing* to him -- "No. Escape. Never any fucking escape, no matter where you go, what you do -- fucking *feel* this, Tim --"

Tim nods almost frantically and sucks harder, *holding* it and shaking all over --

No, the *sounds* he's making are frantic, muffled and not *going* anywhere, and --

Yeah, Bruce only has *one* hand on Tim's hips now. The other one's out of sight and anything *but* out of mind, anything --

("I wish -- perhaps this will be easier, Jay, perhaps this touch will let you --")

Do this to another kid, *take* this from another kid, and is it better that he couldn't have ever done it alone? That he *had* to come back to Bruce when things started getting serious --

Perfect --

Jason groans and starts working Tim's head on his dick, teasing himself with the rhythmic loss of Tim's throat and surrendering to the fuck the way Tim has to, the way it always *works* --

And there's a voice in his mind speaking of love, alternately low and high until it blends into something that can never be soothing because it's always going to be *true* --

Never *escape* --

Tim seizes and shudders hard, coughing --

And Jason knows he's coming, and has just enough of his own control left that he can hold Tim still and die a little for the flutter and flex of Tim's throat against the head of his dick, for the long and *hungry* sound Bruce makes --

A moment --

*Please* --

Another --

And then Tim *is* still -- save for the way he's pulling against Jason's hand and trying to take more, to *give* more --

"*Tim*. Tim, just -- don't fucking stop. I *need* you," Jason says, easing his grip and letting Tim go to fucking *town* on him.

His eyes are closed again and he can't keep his hips from bucking, can't even slow *down* --

*Bruce*, sitting Jason up and pulling until Jason's back is pressed against his chest. Hot breath on his ear --

"Thank you," Bruce says, kissing him and stroking him the way Jason's always loved, so fucking possessive and *endless* with his big, hard hands until Jason's skin feels raw, stinging in the air until the feeling *merges* with all the heat taking him higher --

Making him need this, always *need* this --

"Thank you for letting me see that I could want both of you, so beautiful..."

Tim digs his short nails in against Jason's hips and *rakes* down, making Jason buck harder --

And then one of those hands is between Jason's legs, *just* cupping his sac for a hot moment that makes Jason shiver before working it the way Jason likes --

Needs --

"God, *please*," Jason says, and isn't sure which of them he's begging for, or if it's maybe for the sense that he's too warm and anything but alone, that he's in a place he'd promised he'd never be again --

Not like this --

And the fear and anger for that twists around the base of his spine and *yanks* until he's bending himself up further --

Bruce holds on *tight*, and he can only just reach to hold Tim's head, stroke it like he's blind --

God, he needs to *feel* -- "Bruce, I need -- fuck, I need him *closer* --"

And he's barely *focusing*, but he can see Tim's eyes get wider, see him trying to shift his body around while still sucking hard --

"So good, so -- it's --" Jason laughs again and shudders, gets kissed on the back of his neck by Bruce over and *over* -- "It's all right, Tim, I need -- need to get off more than -- fuck, *swallowing* around me --"

*Too* good, and it makes Jason throw his head back, moan when he finally *does* get a good grip on the back of Tim's head again, when Tim starts squeezing Jason's sac *hard* with one hand and reaching up and back to *cover* Jason's hand with his other --

"There's never..." Bruce moans softly and presses a kiss to the *side* of Jason's throat -- "There's never any such thing as being close *enough*."

He's right, and Jason *knows* that, but --

But maybe Tim has the right idea, because it *feels* right to reach back with *his* other hand, cup the back of *Bruce's* head --

"*Yes*, Jay --"

"Yeah, fuck -- fuck, so *close* --"

Tim pulls *back*, gasping air in through his nose for a second of torture, tease --

Down again and this time Jason can't keep himself from fucking himself up, in, *taking* Tim's mouth because it's his, because it's that good --

So fucking --

*Teeth* again, and he thinks --

Knows me, has to know all of me now, every little thing, every --

And then everything's gone save for the feel of himself losing it, pumping deep into Tim's mouth, his throat --

Losing everything again, and he knows he's shouting and clutching, knows he's shaking all the fuck *over* --

Knows absolutely *nothing* --

For a moment --

And then he's gasping and panting, trying to sit up straight and pushing against the wall of Bruce --

Tim. *Holding* Jason in his mouth -- not his throat, which would be the best *and* worst kind of torture right now --

Jason tugs on Tim's hair instead of talking and Tim pulls off -- and brushes Jason's hand out of his hair before kneeling up and turning away -- and feeling Bruce tense up behind him just kind of *underlines* the wrong of that.

"Tim, c'mere --"

"I -- I'd rather not. Right now."

And when's the last time Tim's said no to something? *Anything*? Jason frowns and tugs on the arm Bruce has around his chest until Bruce lets go and he can crawl over to Tim, resting a hand on Tim's shoulder and the other on Tim's thigh. "Talk to me --"

"Um. No. Sorry," Tim says, head still turned and jaw *tight*.

Jason squeezes with both hands -- too hard, because Tim is wincing. He eases up and moves his hand from Tim's thigh to Tim's face, turning it toward him as gently as he can with Tim *resisting* --

Tim makes a sound and lets Jason do it, and his eyes -- wide and kind of fucking *betrayed*, and that --

Part of Jason wants to *celebrate* that, because now Tim knows what it's really like, what it's always *been* like deep down inside Jason where nothing ever really changes or gets *better* --

It's just that the rest of him --

He pulls Tim into a hug that gets resisted, too -- until it doesn't, and Tim's wrapping his arms around Jason and holding tight.

Fuck. "Still think I'm a good man?"

Tim shivers and clutches tighter for a moment -- says something Jason can't catch.

"What was that?"

"I'd rather not. Repeat myself."

Jason strokes Tim's back, and there's a part of him which is only focused on the fact that they'd somehow never gotten Tim's *shirt* off, but -- there's no way Tim wants to be any more naked than he is right now. In *any* way, shape, or form -- but.

He needs Tim to talk. Bruce does, *too* -- whether or not he knows it.

"Please, Tim. I -- I need you to tell me what's on your mind --"

"It won't make -- it's irrelevant," Tim says, pulling on that cold thing he wears for the street and, Jason thinks, for home, too.

Jason sighs --

Tim stiffens and starts to pull back --

"No, not that, either," Jason says, stroking down to Tim's hips and gripping a little, tugging until Tim's over his lap --

"God. Jay -- Jason. It's just that you're the only one who's ever -- you're the only *one*," and Jason thinks that if he could see Tim's eyes right now they'd probably kill him.

At least some part of him. But -- "I don't have to be the only one, Tim. You know that now, don't you?"

"Is *that* what --" Tim kind of chokes on his own laugh. "I don't know *what* I know right now -- other than the fact that you're the only one who's ever shown -- a fucking *interest*, and it's hard enough to get used to that, to be the person you want me to be --"

"I *want* all of you, kid --"

"And that's another thing. You have a seriously --" Tim pulls back *just* enough to look Jason in the eye. "You have a very, very fucked up idea of what childhood means."

"I know I do. For kids like *you*. And kids like the one I was, too. You knew that going into this."

Tim's eyes flash with anger -- and then seem to get *overrun* with humor. "All right, I suppose I did. It's just standing *out* right now. Loudly. Like -- like a thumb that's been chopped *off*."

Jason grins. "But you're going to be prepared. For *everything* this life can throw at you."

"I -- if I were any more prepared right now, Jay, it's entirely possible that I'd be *cooked*, or -- all right, that metaphor got away from me --"

Jason laughs a little --

"Jay, please. I. I'm *scared*, and I know that you don't want me to be, that I have to be stronger than this, but I'd thought, maybe, that I didn't have to be strong for. For the personal things."

The personal is *political*, offers the ghost of a girl who'd had a pussy like the world's friendliest vise and hairier legs than his own -- Jason shakes the memory off and strokes Tim's face a little, until some of the hardness leaves his eyes and he's only looking at Jason, pleading *with* Jason for an answer Jason can't give. "You have to tell me what scares you."

"You'll only tell me that I'm not allowed to *be* scared of it -- or worse, you'll *convince* me not to be scared, even though the fear is a perfectly rational one --"

"And it's yours," Jason says, and spares himself a moment to think about Bruce, still kneeling right over there, still dressed -- and absolutely waiting for them. "I haven't let you have too many things of your own, have I?"

Tim frowns. "I'm not -- I mean, I don't need -- no. I *do* need it. Just -- a little privacy within my own mind, a little *space*. And I know that you can't let me have it -- at least not until I'm Robin for real, and maybe not even then, but the *feelings* --"

"Can't get in the way --"

"I just don't see how this *helps*, Jay --"

"You're making things easier, every day. You're --" Jason shakes his head. "Maybe you can't see it, but you're *hope*. Every moment you're strong, every moment you're *happy*. I need that, and Bruce does, too."

Tim frowns a little harder and looks past Jason's shoulder.

Jason squeezes Tim in anticipation of the shudder, but -- it doesn't come. He raises his eyebrows.

"I will stipulate that... that Bruce wants me, for some reason --"

"For who and what you are, as Jason said," Bruce says, and *that* gets a shudder --

"I don't think I want to know what I am -- what the two of you *think* I am," and Tim growls and shakes his head. "I -- look, I'm all right. I just think that I should go."

"I disagree," Jason says, squeezing Tim's hips. "What you *should* do is tell me --"

"I don't want -- to be alone," Tim says, and the first half of that came out strong and serious, but not the second half, which... is understandable. Completely, because --

Because the part of Jason which wants to slap Tim in the back of the head for being *irrational* is really missing the point entirely. "You don't want to get so used to the good things that you'll be weak *when* all the bad comes down."

"And -- I don't appreciate being shunted off to Bruce like a hand-me-down. Or... a hand-me-*up*, I suppose."

And really, it's possible that that should've been at the *top* of that little list -- as reasonable objections go -- but it's *also* possible that, if it had been, Jason would have an entirely different boy in his lap. "First things first, kid -- the *only* thing that makes the bad times workable is the fact that you proved to yourself, once, that they *could* be good. Especially if you've proved that they could be good in part because of something you did."

"That didn't seem to help *you* much, before, Jay."

"Point," Jason says, and smiles a little ruefully. "But then I had some -- heh -- *grave* resentments to work through... and the only therapy I got before *you* was from a woman who was just fine with me being that kind of angry."

Tim looks *seriously* doubtful... but Jason would bet that has more to do with the idea that he might've done something to help Jason than with anything else. And... he's going to put his money on that.

He gestures with his chin a little. "What do you think I would've done without you, hunh? Tracked down some *other* kid who knew as much as you did? Who was as *serious* as you were? Who could follow orders and *learn* as well as you did? The real world -- this one, anyway -- doesn't work that way. I'm not saying that you'll never be alone again -- I would *never* say that. I'm just saying that if you go about things the *right* way, if you keep *taking* what you want even when it scares the hell out of you..." Jason raises his eyebrows again.

And this time, when Tim glances over at Bruce, his expression shifts to something... it's the kind of helpless Jason can *work* with.

"You have to fight for it. You have to fight *for* it, Tim. For all the good things you can stand --"

"And I presume you'll be taking your own advice?"

'I'm here, aren't I?' wouldn't be good enough for this. "That's the plan. That's -- part -- of why I'm pushing this. I want you both to have each other, because that's the way the partnership works *best*. He has to know you won't leave him by choice, you have to know he won't *ditch* you by choice --"

"But it didn't *work*, Jay! I --" Tim pushes back a little more, resisting the pull Jason has on his hips. "If anything, it went *worse* with you than it did with Dick --"

"You don't have the same weaknesses I had, Tim. And Bruce... heh. Learns *his* lessons, too," Jason says, and *yanks* Tim close again. "I'm not shunting you off. I'm not giving you up. I just want -- *need* you to have more. And yeah, you having more *does* help with me doing the same in ways that barely have anything to do with who you are as a person, but that's not the *whole* story, and it would be wrong -- and stupid -- to treat it that way. And you're anything but stupid."

"I don't... want to fall in love with anyone else," and Tim isn't looking at Bruce at all, this time, but he doesn't have to. Bruce is Bruce, and he'd heard every last bit of that, including the miles of it below the surface.

Jason raises his eyebrows. "Do you mean you don't want to belong to anyone else?"

He gets another frown for that -- "It's the same thing --"

"Really not --"

"For *me*, Jay. For me it's the same thing," Tim says, and puts his hands on Jason's shoulders, moves them to Jason's face, his hair for a moment, and then back down to his shoulders again. "And you're going to say that it doesn't work that way, and you'll be right that it *shouldn't* work that way, and I'm going to try to live, try to *be* the way you want me to be..."

"You think you'll fail."

Tim smiles, bright, sharp, and just a little too old -- even for Robin. "Oh, no. It wouldn't be so bad if I thought I would fail. I think... you've already made me into a new person, and I've *been* getting used to that person. But you weren't done, and I have to live with that. Let me go home? Just... for now?"

The ache of this... he doesn't know what to do with it, doesn't know how to make it fit with either the screaming, jealous, and fucking *vindictive* kid in him or the adult who only wants everything and intends to get it. It's just there, hovering over some middle ground that hasn't been charted yet. A bright little spark of pain in a field of black.

Jason nods. "Tell Alfred we said to drop you off," he says, letting go, and Tim stands up and moves to change into his street clothes. A part of Jason is only thinking thoughts about Tim's *ass*, and how it's probably still a little wet from Bruce's spit --

The rest is wondering what he's going to *get* by giving Tim room to be -- himself, for just a little while. He hasn't exactly done that, and that *had* been part of the plan.

It was -- and he has to cope with this -- a seriously fucked up plan.

He watches Tim move up the stairs in an easy jog, and then he turns to Bruce -- who is absolutely waiting. It's just that he's also giving Jason a *sympathetic* look --

"Do we always wind up having minds of our own, B?"

"Despite one's best efforts to the contrary. Of course... that's part of the appeal."

Heh, right. Jason stands up and moves close to Bruce, offering his hand. "You say that like you *haven't* wanted to reprogram me on at least fifteen different occasions."

"I tried not to count," Bruce says, letting Jason pull him up and close --

"Which means you totally *did* count and just don't want to tell me the number. That's fine -- I *don't* wanna know."

"Jay. He'll come back to you."

"Oh, I know he will. I -- *that's* part of the *problem*, B. He shouldn't come back to me, at all. He shouldn't come back *here*. But he'll do both, and that's just the way he is -- and the way I helped him to be," Jason says, cupping Bruce's face. "I'm pretty sure I fucked up."

Bruce gives him a *seriously* rueful look and cups Jason's hips. "I'm afraid I was following your lead."

Jason snickers. "Never *do* that, B -- no, okay, do that *more*. Just... not with this. Because I'm pretty damned fucked in the head about it. I don't know what I'm doing, at all. I don't... I have to *leave* --"

"You don't --"

"I have to leave *him*, with you, and I just wanted... no, I wanted to *watch* him with you, because my dick happens to think that's *one* of the better ideas I've had. I also want you and him to be as tight as we were at our best, but that's... I don't know. Smaller, maybe."

Bruce nods, and pulls Jason against him, letting Jason feel -- a jock.

"That thing killing you right about now?"

"It's excruciating, but I can survive it. Jay... you have to know that I want your happiness --"

"And his?"

"I'm not at all sure what it would look like, beyond those glimpses I've seen him offer you -- mostly when you weren't looking."

"I could feel it, though. Feel..." Jason sighs and reaches down into Bruce's shorts, tugging the jock away as gently as he can. "All of it. All the time. He loves me."

"Yes. He... Jay, your hand. Your hand is enough, but --"

"You want more. I know," and Jason leans in to take a kiss. It's slow and it's *hard*, and Jason can *hear* Tim whimpering through it, feel it in his skin and his not-actually-ready-for-business dick. "Tell me more about how he'll come back to me, to *us* --"

"I'm not -- hn. I'm not sure about the latter --"

"I pushed him too far, too fast. I -- it shouldn't *be* a huge deal that he said no to me and had to leave, but our relationship... I'm gonna keep going with fucked up."

"He loves you. Almost certainly more than anything... anything else in his life."

"Except for *Robin*, and I think I've *always* been jealous of *that* little bastard," and Bruce is huge in his hand, perfect and warm, *slick* -- "God, you feel good. So good."

"Jay. Your hand is..." Bruce's laugh is breathy and low. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the differences."

"Mm. You're exactly the same. Making me want you, need you --" Jason gives Bruce a squeeze before letting go --

"*Jay* --"

"Easy, easy. I know... I know," Jason says, shaking his head and pulling Bruce's shorts down, the jock and the boxer-briefs -- "How in the *hell* am I supposed to deal with you being right there. Looking at me. *Thinking* at me --"

"I do try to keep my attempts at telepathy to a minimum --"

Jason laughs and drops to his knees. "You're like that with him, aren't you? You show him the man you are?"

"Helplessly," and Bruce cups Jason's face for a moment before petting and stroking Jason's hair, tugging at it a little --

"That different, too?" He doesn't really want to wrap his hand around the base of Bruce's dick, but -- it's been a while since he's had something this big, and --

And the thing in his head which has been counting the days needs to shut the hell *up* --

Jason sucks the head to shut *everyone* up, takes it in and licks, sucks *hard* --

Bruce sighs and strokes Jason's head faster and a little wilder for a moment before slowing down again -- "Your hair seems thicker, but it might be -- an illusion brought on by insecurity, the sense that I shouldn't have this at all -- Jay."

Jason nods and takes more, pumping Bruce's dick a little until Bruce starts to thrust, short and *mostly* slow strokes into his mouth --

He's sweating a little again, starting to really *feel* his nakedness, availability --

And it's the same old question that always bubbles up for this: What if this is the time Bruce breaks too *much*? What if he loses control more than Jason can *take*?

"I want. To have this with Tim. I."

Images for that. Tim on his knees and *reaching* a little, or Tim sitting down in one of the wing chairs in the study while Bruce guides himself into that mouth --

"To suck him, I mean. Or -- both, of course, of course you know --"

Bruce lifting Tim by the hips, *pulling* him into Bruce's mouth --

"I can't help but wonder how I would've felt about him without you. He's so *small*, Jay, so quiet and controlled --

Jason pulls off with a wet sound and licks a little bit, up and around, down to his own hand until he can mash his tongue between Bruce's cock and the heel of his palm --

Bruce grunts. "A punishment? Or. You've had years to develop your... sexuality. I've only had my memories..."

One more lick and then he can *think*. "I have to -- I need every inch of you, B," and Jason's voice is heavy to his own ears, *ridiculously* insinuating --

"There's nothing you can't have of me, Jay --"

"Oh, don't say that. You know I'll ask for impossible things --"

"*Please* --"

"You loved him in my world. I don't know how long it took or how much of it was gratitude... but you loved him. It's not just me."

Bruce shivers and *clutches* Jason's hair for a *moment*, and Jason has to wonder if the Jason from this world had maybe not bothered teaching Bruce not to be polite --

But then both of Bruce's hands are *deep* in his hair, clutching and pulling --

"Fuck yeah," Jason says, and goes down to his own hand, fighting back the gag reflex in another reflex he wasn't sure he still *had* --

And he never thought he'd be laughing for this. In every fantasy he's had of going to Bruce again, after everything he'd said and done, there'd been too much anger and pain for anything like the *lightness* he's feeling, the way *this* need is buoying him up, almost --

God, *Bruce*, and fucking his own face on Bruce's dick is the necessary thing, the *only* thing, because Bruce catches his rhythm immediately and makes it his own --

"My love..."

Jason gets his free hand on Bruce's hip, strokes around to his ass and thinks about it --

Tries to think about something other than the dick in his mouth, the weight and slide and *push* of it --

He *always* likes it, and Jason slips his fingers into Bruce's cleft, warm and faintly damp with sweat --

"Jay, *yes* --"

Jason groans and slips in with one, and Bruce is just as tight and *hot* as he should be --

Tim wrapped around him --

Tim bent in half and screaming for him, bent over the horse and screaming because it was too *much* --

And when Bruce clenches around him and shudders, Jason knows Bruce is a lot closer than the *image* he's been presenting -- which is *also* as it should be. No one has as much control, no one can do so much with --

So much. Jason laughs again and thinks about Tim choking off his own laughter --

*Yes*, and doing it sends a *jolt* to his dick, makes him tense and need in a way that has nothing to *do* with his dick --

Tim, he'll say one day, sex is *confusing*. You've probably noticed that already, but I just want you to know that it never actually gets any easier. The trick is to *enjoy* the confusion --

Enjoy *this*, because Bruce is moaning quietly, cutting himself off periodically with little gasps as he fucks Jason's throat, as Jason *helps* him fuck his throat --

"*Please*, Jay -- oh --"

Because *shoving* in with his finger is the best way to get *that* sound --

And get Bruce to thrust *hard* into his throat and stay right there for a beat --

Another, perhaps to *let* Jason brace himself --

And then Jason stays still and *takes* it, letting Bruce move him as fast as he wants, as hard as he *needs*. Bruce is grunting now, muttering something that could be love or his name or something else altogether --

*Come*, Jason thinks, and tries his own version of telepathy, working his finger in a twisting motion to maximize the burn that has to feel so *sweet* right now --

"*Jay* --"

And that was loud, perfect, and maybe better than the feel of Bruce *holding* him skewered on his dick while he twitches and comes, pulling back just far enough -- and *right* on time -- to let Jason taste him a little, roll it under his tongue and spit a little back out to make things messier.


It's over when Bruce tugs his hands out of Jason's hair and starts to stroke, to comfort and soothe as he *ruthlessly* brings his breathing back under control. Jason pulls back and licks his lips, licks Bruce clean for those last shudders, that last --


"I hear you," Jason says, and stands up, letting Bruce pull him into his arms and thinking vague thoughts about patrol --

He still needs to actually *read* those reports --

Bruce laughs and pushes Jason back, a wild smile on his face.

Jason raises his eyebrows --

"You were thinking of Tim again, perhaps?"

"Not *just* then," Jason says, because admitting it is better than not.

Bruce nods, letting the smile fade from his face and *flare* behind his eyes. "Then what? What made you leave me?"

"Ah..." Fuck. "Patrol," and Jason shakes his head and snorts. "I think I might be getting old, B."

"Were you ever young?"

And *only* Bruce could ask a question like that and have it be honest. Innocent. "Yeah, I was, actually. Sometimes I even remember what it was like. Sometimes I put Tim *through* what it was like."

*That* makes the smile fade. "Were you punishing *him*? With me?"

Jason holds up two fingers about an inch apart.

"Jay --"

"I think maybe he could feel it, too. But listen -- that doesn't mean the two of you shouldn't have each other. It just means that maybe I shouldn't be a part of it."

Bruce strokes down to Jason's upper arms and grips. "I want you to be."

"I want it, too. More than... a lot of other things. When I think about you touching him for me, for both of us... God, part of me *regrets* that blowjob earlier because it meant I couldn't pay *attention* to you rimming him."

"Jay --" Bruce stiffens in the *wrong* way, and Jay has about *half* the time it takes for him to think that it's a bitch to be bare-ass naked *now* before he notices Tim at the foot of the stairs and his brain can trip over itself in something like peace.

Jason smiles and flexes his arms to get Bruce to let go, walking over and taking Tim *in*: Stiff body language, frown on his face but not in his eyes, backpack *half* full of summer reading books the kid had finished three weeks ago and plans to return the day *before* their due date, *here*. Jason cups Tim's face and lifts it. "Here because you forgot something, or...?"

Tim blinks and the frown is real for a moment. "Um. Or. If that's --"

"It's all right. If nothing else we can always train you more. Good job staying off the radar, by the way. What did you try?"

"Moving like Alfred. Mostly. I. I'm sorry, Jay. I don't ever want to be -- I'm sorry."

"You needed to call time. That's -- the fact that my *dick* didn't like it doesn't mean it's a problem."

The frown comes *back* --

"Tim, hey --"

"It's easier if I can be... as close to perfect as possible for you, Jay. Everything else is... terrifying, actually. You've never lied to me or even held anything *back*. You trained me and convinced Bruce to train me, as well. I'm *better* now, better than I ever could've been. I just -- I'm sorry."

And maybe he just needs to get used to being several different people -- each with *many* different issues -- at once, because, yeah, there's a *part* of him which is telling him to clap Tim on the shoulder, give him another hug, and send him off to train with Bruce so he can get used to the fact that Bruce had had his tongue up his ass *quickly*.

It's just that he *hates* that part, and the rest of him is mostly in agreement over what he has to do *instead*: Try to be something like... a good man.

"I saw this coming, you know. That you'd come back apologetic -- fucking *contrite*."

Tim blinks at him and frowns even harder. "I meant it --"

"I *know* you did, kid. That's kind of the problem," Jason says, sighing and dropping into a crouch in front of him. "First of all -- are you okay with the fact that Bruce is listening to every word of this, or do you want to go somewhere private?"

"I -- there doesn't have to be a *this*, Jason, we can do -- whatever you want," Tim says, and generally looks brave, true, and ready to take on the world head-first. *Dick*-first, if Jason says so.

"There really, really has to be a this. I have things to say that you need to hear. Bruce has already heard pretty much all of them --"

"Then I don't want -- you don't have to --"

"Not what I *meant* --"

"Jay -- do you always talk to Bruce like that? About me?"

Jason smiles a little. "We talk about you pretty often, yeah. About everything, just about. We keep so many secrets from so many people that it's just more comfortable to know everything about each other in this family -- whether or *not* we're actually talking about it."

"In that event... I suppose talking about it is... better. Than the alternative."

"Exactly. Now tell me if you need privacy."

Tim looks at Bruce -- Jason looks, too, just to confirm that Bruce is doing that thing where he might as *well* be deep in shadow somewhere. He's not blinking much, and he looks... sympathetic. Hopeful.

Can Tim see that? Jason cups Tim's shoulder. "He just wants you to feel more comfortable -- on top of maybe also being happy to be here. And he hopes that you and I can hash this out in a way that could make that happen."

Tim shifts the backpack on his shoulders, which is Tim-speak for 'I want to fidget *really* badly and I bet you can tell so I'll just stop.'

"Tim --"

"Bruce." And he turns to face Bruce -- "You... is that true? What Jason said? Not that I think he'd lie to me, but I don't trust him not to try to make me feel better in whatever way he can think of, right now, and that includes stretching the truth."

Jason blinks and bites his tongue a little --

"Jay left out the fact that I was thinking of kissing you, but other than that he was being entirely honest."

Oh... Bruce.

Tim's eyes go wide and a bit shocky-looking, but he recovers quickly and nods. "I -- all right." He turns back to Jason. "I don't... need privacy right now. But thank you for asking."

For *once*, Tim doesn't say, and it doesn't even seem to be *under* the words... but it's still there for Jason. "I *haven't* told you the whole truth. Yeah, I meant for you to be a partner to Bruce, and to be the kind of partner I couldn't be, anymore, but I also meant for you to be *different* from the Tim I knew in my universe -- different from who you actually are."

"More... violent?"

Jason nods. "Harder, just in general. I didn't want you to be the same kid who made the Bruce in my universe all better again after I kicked. I wanted you to be *better* than he is, in every possible way, but I'm getting -- starting to get -- the fact that my definition of 'better' isn't always the right one. I haven't changed my mind about what I think you need to do on the *street*, but *this*, between the three of us..."

"What, Jay? I --" Another frown, but this one is lighter. "I really *do* need to know. That."

"I want a threesome. I want more than *one* threesome -- badly. I think it would be hot as hell and get us all off like crazy. I want Bruce's hands all over you where I can *see* it, and I want it to happen where I *can't* see it -- so one or both of you can tell me all about it. Like I said, for a while it *did* have a lot to do with not wanting to have sex with Bruce, myself, but -- I think you caught that I'm mostly over that?"

Tim swallows and *just* the tip of his tongue shows for a second. And he blushes and nods.

"Yeah, exactly. *All* of that and then some, because there aren't too many things I like better than getting that big dick in my throat -- and I *know* you can love it, too."

"Ah, probably. But --"

Jason holds up a hand. "But you're not ready. I pushed too hard, too fast. And -- hell, it fucking *kills* me to think about it, but maybe you won't ever *be* ready -- and that's fine, too. It's not like Dick wouldn't freak the hell out if Bruce up and tells him that yes, *now* he's ready to give it up --"

"Wait. Wait. Dick never had sex with Bruce?" Tim looks at Bruce again, and Jason knows Bruce is shaking his head, and --

Hell. If Tim was thinking... fuck. Fuck. Telling Tim about those fucking dresses and *not* being clear -- "I'm pretty sure I would've died on the street if Bruce and Dick had ever gotten together, kid --"

"If I had found you, I would've brought you home," Bruce says, low and solid and -- completely sure.

Jason shakes his head. "Bruce, that's not --"

"You made me laugh at one of the darkest, loneliest moments of my life, Jay --"

"You wouldn't have *been* lonely --"

"Perhaps. But it's always dark in Crime Alley."

And what is he supposed to say to that, exactly? Tim is watching both of them, sinking back into himself to do it *unobtrusively*... just like Bruce. Jason raises his hands. "All right, I won't argue. But -- Bruce doesn't give up on people he loves. I don't think he *can*. He might be an ass and he might act like he's got one of your staves *up* his ass, but when he pushed and Dick actually *left* --"

"I learned a very important lesson," Bruce says, quietly. "I can't -- I tell myself that it was better for Dick to go out on his own, and I think he's doing well... but I'll never escape the fact that I pushed away the second true friend I had ever had. My partner and, in some ways, my son. Tim... I was *prepared* to act in similar ways when I lost the Jason from this world, but that was grief and, perhaps, a sort of madness --"

"Oh, it was definitely madness, you big freak," Jason says, and focuses on Tim, who's focusing on Bruce... exactly the way he should.

"Mm. As you say, Jay. I've learned hope, again, and learned, once more -- and hopefully for the last time it will be necessary -- that I need whatever family I'm allowed. And I will do everything in my power to keep it. Including keeping my more sexual desires to myself."

Jason nods. He knew it was like that for Bruce, but now Tim knows it, too. And the kid's still totally rewriting that internal Dick narrative, so Jason decides to give him a little time and just give in to the urge to be relieved.

Knowing that Tim would come back and that he would come back just like *this* is nothing against the fact that Tim had come back this soon, at just the right time to catch Jason with just a *little* bit of sanity at his disposal.

Maybe he should suck Bruce off once a day just to keep himself on an even keel. Keep his protein levels up and what-not. Jason smiles to himself and watches Tim think and watch the both of *them* --

"I -- all right. I shouldn't have... assumed."

"Not like I didn't give you good reason *to* assume --"

"I find myself wondering what, precisely, you *did* tell Tim about me, Jay," Bruce says, and there's amusement in his voice.

"Heh, well... I had to get Tim *prepared* for you, B. In several different ways," and Jason looks back over his shoulder to offer Bruce his most extreme shit-eating grin --

Bruce hums a laugh and turns to look at Tim with an eyebrow raised.

Jason turns back and Tim is setting his backpack down and looking... a different kind of determined. "What's up, Tim?"

"I think... Bruce, do you ever *call* Dick?"

"He wouldn't welcome it --"

"Or, '*no*, because I'm a dumbass who needs to apologize.' Maybe we should call him right now."

"I'd like to... spend some time talking to him. If he wants to talk to me, that is," Tim says, and looks at both of them.

"Yeah, that sounds like a plan. We'll even give you privacy to do it -- after I do a quick walk-on to give him some background."

Tim nods, and when Jason turns again, Bruce is inclining his head.

Good. "Lemme just put some clothes on."

"Ah... um."

Jason squeezes Tim's shoulder. "Yeah, Tim?"

"Does... you say you don't keep many secrets in the family, but does Dick *know* that you and Bruce are... together?"

Jason sighs. "We've never talked about it, but yeah, he knows. It didn't exactly help our relationship much, but Dick's a good guy. He really worked hard to be a friend to me when I needed one. The fact that I couldn't actually accept it from him isn't *on* him."

Tim nods slowly. "You don't speak much about him."

Jason claps Tim's shoulder and stands, giving him the follow gesture. "Here's the quick lesson: he never would've quit being Robin, and that works a nasty kind of magic on him, sometimes. Part of him will always *be* Robin, and not just because he gave Robin his *name* -- it was his mother's nickname for him."

"I -- all right. What else?"

"He's friendly, loving, warm, crazy. He loves stupid jokes. He can't sit still -- ever. He's slept his way through the Titans while *still* managing to be pretty conservative *about* sex, and who should be having it with whom *when*. He hits on everyone he knows, but mostly doesn't mean it. He's in a committed relationship --"

"With Starfire."

"Heh, yeah, you *would* know that, wouldn't you," Jason says, and pulls on his boxer briefs and pants. "What you *don't* know is that Starfire has been pushing Dick to invite someone -- not just anyone, but anyone Starfire likes as a friend -- for a threesome. As of my death? No dice. Even though Dick has slept with most of these people, himself. Kory was pretty annoyed about that, but *mostly* resigned."

Tim nods. "That's what you mean by conservative?"

Jason waves a hand and grabs his shirt. "Mostly? I'm pretty sure he gets buck wild *with* Kory, and I'm equally sure that he'd be shocked blind if he knew -- strike that. He *will* be shocked blind *when* he finds out about us and some of the things we do."

Tim looks thoughtful... and strokes his pec through his shirt.

"Heh. Is that your favorite scar?"

Tim smiles, and it looks so *damned* good --

Jason strokes the corners of it and smiles back --

And Tim's smile gets wider as he blushes. "Ah -- yes. At the moment. It's very interesting, aesthetically, and you were... well. Anything else I should know about Dick?"

"Don't be surprised *when* he says something completely inappropriate for how little you know each other. A, you're going to be Robin, and B -- that's just how he is. You can tell him to back off a little or you can answer him and let him just flow on to the next topic the way he does. Your call."

"All right. I... did you and Dick ever...?"

"I... call that an 'almost.' He kidnapped me for a ski trip of all things. I made him a deal -- I would stop bitching and try to have fun if he let us spike our cocoa at night. Neither of us had any tolerance and I was seriously *curious*. We made out a little until his guilt reflex kicked in. I pointed out that Kory *wouldn't* mind, he kicked me out of his room *very* nicely, and the next morning he tried to give me the sex talk." Jason shakes his head and thinks about how *earnest* Dick can be... "Anyway, neither of us broke a leg, both of us came home with an *excuse* to be so damned windburned all the time, and it never came up again."

"Would you have liked more?"

Jason decides to actually think about the question as he pulls a shirt on and heads over to the console --

Bruce has made himself scarce by the weights, and yeah, everybody has ways to be supremely 'not ready.' Tim's following close and looks *good* and patient. In the end... it's not a hard question.

"Yes and no. Yes, because, as you *may* have noticed, he's incredibly fucking hot, and you can't actually be *around* him for more than five minutes without knowing in your bones that he's great in bed. No, because it would've made things more complicated than they were -- I was already screwing Bruce, and I already knew things were *bad* between them, even though I didn't know how bad. At that age, though... I would've done it, anyway."

"But not now."


"What if he and Bruce made up?"

The funny thing is that it doesn't sound like jealousy as opposed to deep-seated curiosity -- oh. *Heh*. Jason strokes the side of Tim's face with his fingertips, up and down and up again. "*Someone's* thinking thoughts."

"I -- the blush currently on my face has nothing to do with how I feel, as I refuse to -- well, you already *knew* that. It's practically the first thing you *said* to me, Jay."

"True, true. It took me a while to figure out how *literal* that hard-on of yours is -- but. Seriously? You've never had a conversation with the guy and you're angling for a little action?"

"All right, *now* the blush is appropriate -- um. I think... I was just wondering."

"And maybe hoping," Jason says, and sits in Bruce's chair.

"Maybe hoping, yes. And we *did* speak... when I was three. Briefly."

Jason snorts and calls up the Tower. "Uh, huh. If you wanna fuck him and he's game? Go for it," he says, and jabs Tim lightly in the arm -- *beneath* the scars. "Just remember who *brought* you to this dance."

"*Jason*, I'd never forget, you know I love --"

"Love? Who's talking about love... in the *Batcave*? There's no love *allowed* in the Batcave, and who -- holy *shit*."

Which means that Roy's picture came up at just about the same time theirs did. "Before you ask," Jason says, "yeah, it's me. Just a few years older and from a different universe. I can send you the DNA scans if you want 'em, but I'd rather keep 'em in the family for now. I want a low profile."

"Holy -- holy *fucking* shit. *Jay*, Jesus, I --" Roy shakes his head and laughs. "Well, if you're in the Batcave, then I guess you're all right by us. I... it's great to *see* you. When are you coming up here?"

And there's a part of him -- still another fucking *part* -- that wants to smack Roy down hard for... pretty much everything, but *starting* with the security issue. It's just that this is the *past*, and the Titans do things differently.

Tim's Titans will be a lot different, and he has to make sure Tim *knows* that... though the slight frown on Tim's face says he already *does* know, which -- mm.

"Did I say something wrong? And who's the kid?"

Jason opens his mouth --

"Robin," Tim says. "At least... ah. Eventually. It's nice to meet you, Arsenal."

Roy raises an eyebrow. "Okay, we'll play it *that* way. Nice to meet you, too, short-pants-to-be. Did you bring him from your universe, or...?"

"Nah, he's homegrown. I just gave him some training before... bringing him home to roost. He's good people, just a little on the shy side."

"Which I can see by the fact that he's not *quite* trying to hide behind the chair. Yeah, okay. When did you *get* here? How? Do you -- will you be going back?"

"A few months ago. Anomalies that were popping up all over the place in my universe but not so much here. And... that all depends on where the next anomaly will open up. I'm stuck here for now, and that's not so bad."

"Well, *I* happen to think our universe is the best. Seriously, guy -- get *up* here. Because Bats won't like it if we have to come get you ourselves. Or -- hell. *Were* things the same in your universe? As far as you... know?"

And Jason would lay money that *that* particular hand gesture was pure Ollie. He checks --

Yeah, Tim's raising an eyebrow.

Heh. "Yeah, things seemed to have gone down pretty much the same. But it was all four long years ago, and I was doing... other things, in other places, with other people."

Roy holds *up* his hands. "No pressure, tough guy. Just... heh. *Curious*. So, you're obviously not calling just to chat. Shall I retrieve Lord Nightwing, or do you need the team?"

"Lord Nightwing, hunh? He getting all Bat on your asses?"

Roy holds up his thumb and forefinger. "Kory's off-planet. You know how it goes when he starts feeling guilty *and* bored."

He really, really does, and -- fuck, if this isn't warming something up in him. Jason smiles and shakes his head. "Get 'im for us, yeah. He needs to know the score."

"Well, then, you just hold the line, sir. He'll be with you just as soon as I finish blowing his mind. I think I'll do that in *person*," Roy says, and grins. "Fuck, Jay. Stay a while, if you can, hunh?"

Jason smiles a little wider. "If I can, yeah."

"Good deal. And short pants the third? The invite's good for you, too -- and not just because Dick'll teach you things you'll *need* out there," and Roy slaps the console in front of him twice before heading off.

"How you doing, kid?"

"A bit on the contemplative side, actually. I can't help wondering how it is that people can forget the Jason from *this* world so easily."

Well, there's *that* -- but. "Don't think about it as forgetting the Jason who lived and died here. Think of it as people doing everything they can to pretend he never died, at all. When I think about what I would've been like if, say, Bruce died -- and then showed up again a few years older but still *enough* like my Bruce that he had all the right memories, said all the right things in all the right ways..." Jason spreads his hands. "Put it this way -- I'm not surprised that people who knew the Jason from this world react to me this way, and I'm also not surprised that *you're* a little more cautious about things."

"That's... thank you, that does make it better."

"You cared about him."

Tim looks down. "I... I know it's as silly as my feelings for Dick -- sillier, even -- but yes. Yes, I did. Very much."

Jason reaches out and takes Tim's hand, squeezing it a little. "Somewhere, that counts pretty big."

Tim looks up again and smiles at him. "You make a difference everywhere you are."

"Yeah, soundin' like Bruce again. You really need to quit that, kid. C'mon, curse for me."

"Bite me, motherfucker," Tim says, in the sweetest, *poshest* voice he can manage --

"Hey, hey, hey, none of that -- oh my God, you're tiny. And you're Jason Todd. And you -- why doesn't anyone ever *tell* me about new Robins? And you're *Jason Todd* --"

"Hi, Dick, nice to see you. We're telling you *now*," Jason says, and gives Tim's hand one more squeeze before turning to face the monitor. Dick looks pretty poleaxed, which is only to be expected, but he's also got something like his game face on, which is impressive even considering what he's wearing.

"I need the scans. I need to *see* the scans. Look, I'm sorry, guy --"

"Like I told Roy, I *can* send 'em, but it might be better if you came down and checked them out for yourself --"

"Where's *Bruce*?"

Jason points toward the weights and watches Dick frown hard enough that it *almost* looks natural on his face --

"How are you *older*?"

Jason shrugs. "Time moved differently in my universe. It's four years --"

"Roy said," Dick says, and waves a hand. "I -- I'm coming down there."

"Probably for the best," Jason says, and swivels the chair a little. "Now say hello to the Robin in training like you have a little *class*, 'guy.'"

Dick frowns harder --

Dick *blinks* --

And the smile he turns on Tim could melt lead, blind eagles, and give dead guys erections -- as a former dead guy, he's qualified to *make* judgments like that. Tim... has actually taken a step *back* --

"No, hey, don't do that. You're not that tiny, I swear. *I* was that tiny when I started out, and -- there'll be growth?"

"Ah... one hopes. Um. Hello, Nightwing. I'm --"

"No, don't give me a name yet, little... person. I'll *be* there in an hour --"

"Two, two and a half this time of day," Jason says --

"Damn, you're right. *Right* during patrol, but -- you'll be there, won't you, Robin-to-be?"

"I... um. I actually have to go home. I live with my parents --"

"You have *parents*? Who are *alive*? What are you -- how did Bruce *find* you?"

Tim blushes hard, like maybe having parents is something to be *ashamed* of --

"*I* found him, Nightwing... but he would've found *you* sooner or later, which is a story you'll hear when you get here."

"I --" Dick shakes his head hard. "All right, I'm leaving now. *Somebody* stay put. Nightwing out."

"Um. Bye?"

Dick sends Tim another one of those smiles -- at a *slightly* lower wattage. "We'll talk *tomorrow*, kid. Or maybe I'll just crawl in your window tonight. We'll see."

Tim chokes -- *mostly* after Dick signs out.

Jason grins. "Had that fantasy once or twice, didja?"

"Ah -- once or twice. Or several dozen times. One of those."

Jason snickers and gives Tim a shove. "Did I ever --"

"Yes. Definitely yes."

"What about Dick *and* me?"

Tim smiles at him wryly. "There may have been inappropriate use of the gauntlets. And the batcuffs."

Batcuffs. Jesus, he *remembers* those things -- "See, this? Is where I stop worrying about *making* you too kinky."

Tim hums. "You really shouldn't sell yourself short in that respect, Jay."

"Oh, there's *nothing* short over here, kid," and Jason hooks one leg around --

Jason *tries* to hook one leg around Tim's, but Tim leaps over it easily.

"It's like *that*, hunh?"

"Ah... maybe? Mostly it's time for me to go back home," Tim says, and gives him a *rueful* smile. "I'd much rather... stay. No matter what."

Jason raises his eyebrows. "You know you don't have to --"

"I know. And that helps... rather a lot." He bites his lip -- stops. And then leans in to kiss Jason, quick and light.

It's sweeter than anything he knows what to do with, which means he just has to take it and *let* it be that -- good. "You should do that more often."

"I -- yes?"

"*Maybe* with a little more tongue," and Jason kicks idly for Tim's shins just to watch him dodge and move. "Maybe."

"I'll keep that in mind. Should I still have Alfred --"

"No, I'll take you home. Give Bruce some more time to brood on all his failings while pumping iron -- he needs that, every once in a while."

Tim nods just like he's filing that information away... the way he should be.

Good boy.


Which is pretty much how he wound up *back* here, *alone* in the Cave, because Bruce is failing to deal spectacularly -- by way of pointing out that *one* of them needs to be patrolling -- and...

He hasn't done anything to piss this Dick off, other than the same old song about taking his name, his place, and a healthy chunk of his identity. They're not enemies, and they're not even allies always on the *edge* of being enemies. He's --

He can *be* 'little wing,' for all that it would be like stepping into a pair of pixie boots as small as the ones in that fucking Case --

All right, maybe not that, but -- still.

There's a need in him with Dick's name on it, and since he's admitting to all *kinds* of weak-ass shit today, he might as well admit that, too. Right?

Jason spends the last twenty minutes before Dick could reasonably arrive going over and over gang activity reports, checking on the people he'd paid special attention to in his own world and finding only two of the eight rate a red flag in Bruce's system. And one of them is only *provisionally* on the watch list, because Bruce hasn't confirmed the assaults and murders listed for even his own purposes. None of the things he *knows* the guy has done are --

None of the things he knows the guy *will* do, eventually, because... yeah.

He can't add anything to Bruce's records other than provisional red flags of his own, which is the next thing to useless. If even Dent can't perform on time, then there's no telling *how* many things will go differently here -- which is a little on the queasy-making side.

Had something he'd done by *accident* altered the timeline? Was someone he'd beaten bloody and left for the cops supposed to have helped Dent or something? Had Tim done it?

And something in him really, really, *really* doesn't want him to walk down that road, because...

Because all the changes here were supposed to be ones he'd *intended*, and if *that* wasn't a stupid fucking thing to hang a belief system on -- yeah.

Fucking butterfly wings. Jason pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath -- movement. *Stealthy* movement, and Jason's up and slashing --

Missing --

And the kick Dick sends at his head is something he can bend himself back to avoid --

Up to catch it on the downswing --

Miss and Dick's coming for him hard. Jason blocks and moves, blocks some more and *doesn't* strike, and -- fucking hell. "This isn't exactly the best *start*, Big Bird."

Dick quick-steps back but stays in his ready position. "You tried to *gut* me, little -- hell."

Jason stands down, sheathing his knife and raising his hands. "You snuck *up* on me. When have I *ever* responded well to that?"

Dick's expression kind of twists, quirks -- "Hell," he says again, and stands down. "Where are the scans?"

"I told Bruce to put 'em somewhere only you would know where to look."

Dick scowls and shakes his head. "Because of course he couldn't just *stay* here for five freaking *minutes* -- God. The *last* time I was here --"

"He told me," Jason says, without thinking, and the look on Dick's face says that maybe he *should've* been thinking, because --

"He *talked* to you about the two of us? When he can't even make a damned *phone* call?"

Jason winces and makes a little pushing motion with his hands. "When I was a kid I made a serious effort not to even *try* to get between the two of you, and I still think that's a good plan of action for me."

Dick glares at him for another moment -- takes a breath and pushes a hand through his hair. "Go work the weights while I try to figure out how that Byzantine labyrinth of a mind is working *this* time. Do it *loudly*."

Jason snorts and follows orders. The quicker this is done...

Yeah. He puts lots of extra clanking into it, deciding to give himself a little room to pretend to be thirteen and determined to be able to bench Bruce before he was *fourteen*. Bruce had let him work the weights without too much discipline, and...

At first he hadn't noticed the lapse. Then he'd spent some time thinking that it was just because he didn't think Jason *could* do better. Then, toward the end -- after he'd started controlling *himself* in one of the *less* destructive fuck-offs he'd aimed at Bruce -- he'd realized that it was all about Bruce realizing how much he *liked* working the weights, liked having something his clumsy, inflexible body was naturally *good* at.

Every kid needs a little fun, right?

They *really* could've talked a lot more than they had, back then, but... who would he be if that had gone down? Would he have just ignored the fact that he'd had a mother out there? Would he have followed Bruce's lead a little longer?

Movement -- but it's Dick, and Jason relaxes himself and sits up, letting his hands hang between his knees. The shock is hitting Dick full force, now.

After a long moment of staring, Dick drops into a crouch in front of him and takes one of Jason's hands in both of his own, turning it back and forth before running two fingers down the center of Jason's palm.

And that -- pretty much always makes him shiver --

Dick shivers, too. And nods. "I remember. That night --"

"The ski lodge. And a *giant* cocktease."

Dick smiles broadly, but it's almost absent, or... it doesn't quite go all the way down *into* him, somehow.


"I never thought. I always wanted to see what kind of man you'd grow into. I mean, that was *important* to me, for a lot of reasons --"

"Starting with the fact that the *boy* always made you want to smack him."

"Him. Not... you." The smile falls off Dick's face, getting replaced with something pretty awful. "It's obscene that he's still in the ground and you're... no, it was always obscene. Did you just not have a run-in with the Joker then --"

"He killed me. I remember dying, all the pain and anger and *disappointment*. And then something woke me up, healed all the places I was broken..." Jason smiles ruefully. "I woke up *just* before my heart started beating again, and it was the worst pain I've ever felt. And then I dug myself out --"

"Of the *ground*? Could he be -- was he --"

Jason shakes his head. "I checked. The anomalies have been popping off to all kinds of universes. As far as I know, I was the only Jason Todd who got a second chance. This world won't have the tech to register or really study the anomalies for another couple of years -- unless I give it to someone."

Dick raises an eyebrow. "You're thinking of keeping it to yourself?"

Is he? Why *hasn't* he given the sensor to Bruce to study? Is he afraid Bruce will recalibrate it or something just to keep him?

Well, *now* he is, but --

Jason shakes his head. "I don't know, really. Something to keep to myself, maybe."

"Something from home."

"Everybody needs a keepsake or two?" Jason laughs. "Seriously, Big Bird, I don't know."

"God, you're only... two years younger than me?"

"Two, yeah."

Dick nods slowly. "So what about Robin the third? Why aren't *you* taking Bruce's back?"

I saw a chance, Dick. A *real* chance to *do* something real -- "I can't be Robin anymore, Dick. It's just not in me. And --"

"Not even a little?"

And of course Dick would have to ask that. "Do I miss working with Bruce? Hell, yes --"

"Wait, wait, that sounded like -- did you not *go* to Bruce when you... got out?"

"I *think* I was going to? I was pretty wild. Terrified, confused, off my game. I got hit by a car and things are seriously hazy after that. Talia picked me up --"


("Is anyone ever truly home, little one? I've learned to distrust the very concept.")

"Talia. And the League of Assassins. For a little over three years," Jason says, and thinks about all the ways this conversation could've happened with the Dick in his own world --

If he hadn't put so much time and effort into shitting where he ate. And Dick looks poleaxed again.

"Dick --"

"But -- okay, you needed help, and someone had to be there to give it to you, but -- why did you *stay*?"

And the parts of him which have been waking up all over the place want an answer to that, too. Jason shakes his head again. "I was a mess, Dick. In... in a lot of ways, I still am. I don't really let myself think about it much --" Or fucking *ever* -- "But sometimes I'm not sure I came back *right*. Then again -- I wasn't exactly in the best fucking headspace in the weeks and months *before* I died."

"We didn't talk for just -- it *was* months. Jesus, Jay. I'm so *sorry* --"

"Shit, no, don't do that, Dick. I can't -- I can't really take that, okay?"

Dick looks like he wants to protest that *hard*, but he nods and settles for gripping Jason's hand between his own again. "So... what's the score? Should we be working to get you back home? Call in some of the big physics and magic guns?"

"As near as I can tell, the only way back is through another anomaly. And -- I came here by choice, Dick."

"You -- but. I don't think I understand."

"Everybody wants to start over sometimes, too, right?" Jason laughs a little, but it sounds fucking awful. He tilts his head back to choke it off and then just lets himself blink at the stalactites, a little. When he's got something like himself --

And isn't that the problem? Hasn't he just *been* "something like" himself for the last four fucking *years*?

"I fucked up over there, Dick. All over the place. Some of the things I did when I finally went back to Gotham I'd do again, but not most of them. I blamed everybody else for what had happened to me and I found all kinds of ways to take it out on them. *Especially* Bruce and Tim -- that's his name, by the way --"

"'Timothy Drake, aged thirteen. Significant training in the martial arts from Jason Todd and myself, moderate acrobatic abilities, potentially powerful investigative mind. Chosen weapons: staff, throwing stars, *hunting knife* --' And what's the deal with *that*? Since when are knives part of the Mission?"

"Since I made them be," Jason says, and he knows his voice is too hard by the hard look he gets from Dick in return.

"All right, we'll deal with that *later*, Mr. Oh, I Think I'll Just Eviscerate The Guy Who's Just Trying To Say *Hello* --"

"By coming up on me like a fucking *assassin* --"

"In the Cave where *everyone* walks like a ghost, and you *know* if you ever try that crap with Alfred he will *hurt* you --"

"*Alfred* always clears his damned *throat* --"

"*Anyway*," Dick says, smiling a little. "You took it out on Bruce and Tim -- who was Robin in your universe and... I guess seventeen? Did he *grow*?"

"Sixteen when I started fucking with him, and not enough."

Dick nods. "Okay, so you... what did you *do*?"

"Beatings, deathtraps -- Dick, you should know. I've killed people. Several."

Dick rears back and looks sick -- "And is that filed under things you'd do again or *not*?"

*Yes*. Yes, it is. It is, because some people need to die, because I can *do* it even when other people *can't*, and yeah, it's fucked up, but sometimes -- "Sometimes you can make the world less fucked up if you make it a little more fucked up first," Jason says, and, in the end, he's really not surprised when Dick snorts --

"I'm not buying it, little wing. I'm not -- all right, you've killed people, but that's not who you are *inside*. None of the crap you've pulled -- and I *know* you, and that you can do some serious damage when your head's not on right -- sits right with you, or you wouldn't have jumped fucking *universes*. God, your Bruce has to be driving himself *crazy* over you --"

"*Dick* --"

"No. You *listen* to me, Jay," Dick says, squeezing Jason's hand hard enough to grind the bones together. "Whatever you've done, whoever you've done it *to*, the biggest and *best* part of you knew that you had to get *right*. You didn't think you could do it where you were, so you came here --"

"I *came* here to make Tim Drake into the kind of Robin who can get things *done* in this world --"

"And what? You were just going to get him good and fucked in the head and send him to Bruce? Look at where you *are*, Jay. Look at what you're doing -- what you're still willing to do. What you *want* to do."

"Fuckin' A, Dick, I *want* to punch you in the *face* --"

"But you *don't* want to slit my throat -- or whatever the hell you did to..." Dick shakes his head. "No, Jay, I know you don't want it, but --"

He sees the move coming enough to dodge, but it's Dick, who still knows at least *some* of the ways he moves, so they wind up rolling on the stone, pushing and shoving for leverage neither of them is *getting* --

"Okay, I'll say one thing, *someone* trained you pretty damned well --"

"Jesus fucking *Christ*, Dick, what do you *want*?"

"*This*," Dick says, faking an elbow to Jason's jaw which leaves Jason with just *enough* room to roll on his side --

And get hugged. Seriously, thoroughly, yes, that's his *whole* body, and everyone should just be glad that Dick *does* wear a jock under the Cleavagewing suit, because *damn* -- hugged.

"Now just *take* this hug, and -- I don't have anything that comes after that," Dick says, trying and failing to blow the hair out of his face.

"You wanted a hug."

"I wanted to give *you* a hug. I *needed* to give you a hug."

"You could've fucking *asked*, you asshole!"

"You don't hug! And you *rebuffed* my earlier efforts at comfort."

"I totally hug! Sometimes. When I *feel* like it. God, did you grow extra fucking arms or something?"

"You're still not taking the hug."

"I'm --" Jason growls and shifts as much as he *can* -- which happily is enough to take his shoulder out of the dislocation danger zone. "Fine. I'm taking the hug. Are you *happy*?"

"*Ecstatic*. Except that whatever terrifying damned thing you have in your inside left pocket is poking the *hell* out of me."

"I was *planning* to go out on patrol after I gave you the heads up, you lunatic --"



"Nothing was the same without you. I didn't realize how much even just knowing you were *there* made a difference. I didn't appreciate you enough --"

"Oh, Jesus, Dick --"

"So help me, I will hug you *harder* if you don't let me finish."

And Jason realizes that he's fucking *glowering*, like maybe he'd turned into Bruce at some point -- Christ, no. Just -- Jason snorts a little and shakes his head. "Okay. *Have* your moment."

"*Thank* you. Where was I?"

"How awesome I am and how much you *really* wish you'd let me suck you off that night --"

Dick headbutts him. Lightly. "As I was *saying* -- I didn't appreciate you enough. I was too wound up in my own shit, too pissed and hurt over Bruce -- you know all that already, because you were putting *up* with it --"

"Just like you were putting up with *my* punk ass --"

"And we never -- God, I know it's cheesy, Jay, but we never *connected* the way we could have, the way I *knew* we could have, because of all those little *moments* when it worked between us. And yeah, I'm *including* that night, because even though I still think I was right not to put out, there could've been something else. More talking, *sleeping* together... hell, I don't know. I'm not doing this right."

"You don't *have* to --"

"I *do*, because I haven't been here an *hour* and I already know that things got too messed up in your universe -- whether or *not* it was your own damned fault for being an ultraviolent little *psycho* -- anyway. There were more missed chances, and that makes me hurt inside, Jay. Little wing. *Brother*."

And there's that *thing* inside him, that seizing, clenching -- fucking *spasming* thing, and it wants things from him he can't give, that he doesn't know *how* to fucking give -- "Dick..."

"Yeah, I -- I'll let you go in a minute. I..." Dick laughs a little. "I was the soppy one, you were the vicious one, and... what's Timmy?"

"Tim. Or... hunh. I've never *asked* him if he liked being called Timmy, but somehow I've gotta go with a big no on that one."

"Ooh. He can be the *serious* one, then. I can see it now," Dick says, and detaches, rolling onto his back.

Jason does the same, reaching back to put an arm under his head. "Yeah? What do you see?"

"We can get him a pair of little granny glasses --"

"Which every asshole out there would try to break all over his *face* --"

"The glasses," Dick says, "will of course be made from titanium. And... uh... some space-age polymer for the lenses. They can have *lasers* in them, which will make them good and practical -- "

"Seriously, Dick, do Kory's pheromones have psychotropic qualities or something?"

"Wouldn't *you* like to know --"

"*Yes*, Dick. Yes, I would, because I'm a red-blooded vigilante male, and she walks around wearing two strips of metal and *boots*."

"God, yes, she really, really does. Spuh. Where was I?"

"Making Tim into a *target*."

"Yes! Yes, I was. Okay, so there's the glasses," Dick says, sketching them in the air with his fingers. "And -- he likes throwing stars. He's good with them?"

"Good enough that he can only practice with them with *Bruce*, now," Jason says, and thinks about the thin little *slice* along the outside of his right thigh. Mm. "Vicious, too."

"You *would* like that. Okay, he gets *special* throwing stars. Ones shaped like... oh, little *books*."

Jason snorts. "Not enough *points* --"

"If he's *that* good, he can work *around* that," and Dick's smile -- his *grin* -- is broad and a little manic. "The serious ones *like* books."

"He's going to be *Robin*, not the fucking *Librarian*, Dick --"

"Ohh. Mm. Did you ever *see* Babs in her little reading glasses?"

Babs. *Babs*, and what if he'd gotten here sooner? What if he'd *found* this anomaly sooner? The world needs Oracle, and right now she's off with the Suicide Squad *becoming* the Oracle they all need, but --

Dick knocks the back of his hand against Jason's chest. "Hey, where'd you go?"

"I -- Babs. And not the reading glasses -- which, hell yes, were extremely hot."

Dick sighs. "I... I take it that went down the same way in your universe, too?"

Jason nods. "It did. She comes back with a *vengeance* --"

"No. No, Jay, I don't -- I don't want to hear what happens. I mean, I *do* -- but it might not happen *here*, you know? God knows what's *already* different in this universe thanks to you popping in."

Jason winces. "Yeah... that."

Dick turns back on his side and rests his hand on Jason's chest. "Things are already different?"

"Yeah, they are."

Dick frowns. "I... since whatever it was already happened -- or didn't happen, I guess. Tell me?"

Jason blows out a breath. "Well, there's a lot I *don't* know about what was supposed to happen in this time period since I was across the world, but -- Two-Face was supposed to get out and *nearly* off you and Bruce together."

The frown gets a little harder. "Together? Meaning me and Bruce were *working* together?"

"Yeah. I..." Jason moves his free hand to cover the one Dick has on his chest, drumming his fingers a little. "Which actually brings us back to Tim."


"Let me give you a little backstory on our trainee: You met him before. The day your parents died."

Dick rears back -- a little. "He... went to the circus? Wouldn't he have been --"

"Three, yeah. He remembers it like it was yesterday. You? Made a *serious* impression. Add that to the fact that he was *watching*... well, he's been having nightmares -- and the occasional *good* dream -- about you since then."

"Jesus. That's -- uh. That's... kind of a thing, right there. But what does that --"

"He's obsessive and *focused* -- and he focused on you. Knew when Bruce took you in, read all the little articles and interviews. At the same *time*, the fact that he saw Batman arrive on the scene gave him a *second* obsession. Are you following me?"

"Yes, Jay, I -- wait a minute. Wait a *minute* -- are you saying...? No, you're not --"

Jason shakes his head. "I really, really am. The quadruple somersault gave you away, Big Bird --"

"I -- *damn*. Bruce always *hated* it when people got footage of us and it wound up on the news. Jesus, I was *proud* --"

"And *Tim* -- probably had his very first orgasm. Heh. He got his parents to give him a camera and started sneaking out at night. Back at my place? I have four *years* worth of pictures of you, Bruce, *and* me. All over the city -- and New York, too. Rooftops, alleys... it's actually pretty amazing that he didn't get himself *killed*. Or caught, for that matter."

"Holy..." Dick pushes off and lies back down. "I think my spine is trying to fuse itself together, here, little wing."

"Heh. Yeah. It took me some serious time to deal with it, myself, but... he's a *good* kid, Dick. He never would've tried to out anyone, or do anything more than *keep* taking his little pictures and having his little fantasies of justice."

"I'm still stuck over here. He knew. He *knew*. For *years* --"

"Yeah, he really did. And when I died and Bruce started losing it... well, I don't know *everything* about how this went down -- just what my own Bruce told me one day in an attempt to get me to stop fucking with Tim -- but... he went to you. Tracked you down, told you his story, and tried to get you to come watch Bruce's back."

"Jesus. I would've taken that... badly. Very, very badly. But Bruce -- he was really -- no, strike that," Dick says, and drags a hand down over his face. "He was a wreck, and I knew it, and I didn't think -- I *don't* think -- that there was anything I could do about it."

Jason waves a hand. "Bruce couldn't have fucked things worse between you if he'd been trying. Whatever really happened, you and Bruce wound up in a bad way with Two-Face... and Tim and Alfred stepped in to save the day. After *that* -- you got Bruce to take Tim on."

"Okay, *that* much makes sense. A kid like that kind of *needs* structure so he doesn't grow up to be a damned supervillain."

Jason tries to picture Tim going evil, but he gets stuck on memories of the Tim from his universe, fighting as hard as he knew how *while* trying to convince Jason to come in out of the cold... he shakes his head again. "No, I don't think I'd ever worry about that with Tim."

Dick turns to face him and raises an eyebrow. "We're talking about someone ready, willing, and *able* to stalk someone for *his entire life*."

"Heh. I will totally own that he's obsessive, but... he's one of *us*, Dick. His brand of crazy blends in just fine."

"And all of this means that *you* like him a lot -- it probably helps that he has as dirty a mouth as you do --"

"I did my *level* best to teach him how to curse. Left to his own devices, he's pretty prim and proper."

"Mm. I'm back to wanting the glasses and the little... booken. Shurikook. Bookiken?"


Dick knocks the back of his hand against Jason's chest again, and... it feels good to let him.

"Anyway, Dick --"

"No, wait, I need more."

Jason raises his own eyebrows. "Yeah? Still freaking out a little?"

"I wouldn't say -- no, I would say. Yes, I'm freaking out. You're sure he didn't tell anyone? I mean, doesn't he have friends?"

That... Jason bends his leg up to scratch at one of last night's bruises and tries to think about that, about how to *put* it...

"*That* doesn't look good --"

"No, really, he hasn't told a soul. It's just that the friends he does have... well, there's exactly *one* of them -- a kid named Ives -- who gets to know anything about his life. And what *he* gets to know... are a whole lot of lies. I told him to keep his mouth shut *once* and he *really* took it to heart. On the surface, he's got this nice, normal life with all the fucking trimmings -- his parents are *the* Drakes, by the way --"

"*Hell*. Really? I *know* them --"

"From all the parties, yeah. But they're always traveling and leaving the kid alone with the maid, and his "best friend" thinks he has a girlfriend tucked away somewhere that those parents can't know about. He gives *everything* to --" Me. "Us."

Dick frowns. "That's not really healthy. At *all*, Jay. Haven't you --"

"Done something about it? Hell, Dick, in my world... things started going really bad really *fast* right about now. I wanted Tim to be ready as soon as possible, because we're -- you're all going to *need* him --"

"Stop right there. *Are* you thinking of staying? Fuck, Jay, we need *you*. I know you probably want to... okay, no, I *don't* know -- hell," Dick says, sitting up, turning, and pulling himself into an easy lotus.

Jason follows suit and holds up his hands. "I planned to get out of here as soon as an anomaly popped off that would take me somewhere else. Maybe home, maybe not."

"And that was the *past* tense I heard there, right?"

And maybe this is the real reason why he hadn't wanted Bruce and Dick to know that he was here. This kind of -- family. Jason sighs and looks at his own hands for a moment before setting them down on his thighs. "Dick, I... fuck if I know, all right?"

Dick reaches and takes Jason's hands in his own. "I can't stop you from going back home, Jay. I know that. *And* I know that I can't really stop you from doing *anything* you want to do, but bear with me a minute, here, all right?"

Jason nods and squeezes Dick's hands because he can --

It makes Dick smile and squeeze him back. "Little wing. It sounds like you've done a whole hell of a lot of soul-searching in between training up a new Robin and maybe -- probably -- giving Bruce a large portion of his soul back. You could -- and probably *should* -- use that to go back home and make amends wherever and however you *can*. But I'm not going to lie to you. The way I see it? *One* Jason -- wherever the hell he comes from -- is better than no Jason, at all. And I'm willing to bet that Bruce *and* Tim feel the same. Just -- think about that when an anomaly *does* pop off close enough so you can feel the breeze, okay?"

Yeah, so maybe he wants another damned hug. Jason swallows and nods, squeezing Dick's hands one more time before letting go.

"God, Jay, you look... are you honestly *surprised* I would say that? I *love* you, you idiot."

Jason laughs quietly. "Yeah, sometimes I just need reminders that *everyone* isn't out for something from me --"

"Jay --"

"And that I *enjoy* it when the things people are after are what I want to give, anyway," Jason says, and gets up. "C'mon, you're already dressed, Big Bird. Let's get *out* there."

"Patrol? In *Gotham*? I really should --"

"Take my hand, get up -- and make a little noise with me. Call it old time's sake."

"You sentimental *fool*. I'm in," Dick says, taking Jason's hand and holding on to it once he's up. "My God, are you *ever* not supposed to be taller than I am."

Jason snorts. "Fucking *deal* with it, bitch."

Dick makes a kissy face at him -- and dances back out of range. "Oh, yeah, I *was* going to stick around long enough to invade Tim's house -- Jesus, it's weird that he has living parents."

"Yeah, well, they don't *act* like parents, so we're good there. Sometimes Bruce takes the kid out for night-training --"


"When it was just me and him? *I* would pick him up around eleven and start showing him the city *my* way."

"Ah, yes, *your* way. I think if you added up all the blood I got on my Robin suit over the *years* it wouldn't add up to what you did in a month."

"Heh. Alfred used to give me these *looks* for my gauntlets --"

"Yeah, because red, gold, green, and *dried blood* makes such a nice *statement*."

"Do I get to tell you about the uniforms you pick out when all the Kory-fumes wear off enough for you to *think*?"

"No, you do *not*," Dick says, primly, pulling his gloves -- you *can't* really call them gauntlets -- back on and heading over to the uniforms for some reason.

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to see for myself how fashion-forward *you* are, Jay -- and what do you call yourself out there since you're not Robin? Deathbird? Blackhawk -- no, that's taken --"

"Dick, I'm *wearing* my patrol clothes," Jason says, spreading his arms and doing a little turn. "And I just go by 'J.' Since 'Red Hood' makes even me a little sick these days --"

"Red -- eugh. *Seriously*? But --"

"C'mon, you *felt* the armor."

"I thought that was just for *me* -- okay, no, I don't know what I thought. I don't know what I *think*. I mean -- what if someone gets a shot of you?"

Jason pulls the red domino out of his pocket and pastes it down. "Happy?"

Dick frowns and shakes his head. "Where's the *showmanship*?"

"Man, your priorities are kinda fucked. You know that, right?"

Dick flips him off -- and flips his lenses down. "Hey, wait, what's that red back there?"

"Ah -- take a look. Tell me what you think," Jason says, and moves a little closer.

"Oh... wow. Now *that's* entertainment," Dick says, and turns the dummy around. "But where's the green?"

Jason puts his hands in his pockets and grins. "Doesn't suit him."

Dick strokes the R-shuriken and whistles softly. "Guess I wouldn't want anyone that tiny running around in the little --"

"Panties --"

"*Shorts*. Trunks, even. God, how the hell did Bruce *okay* that? *Twice*? Because let me tell you, little wing -- you looked like seriously *scary* pornography in them when you started filling out."

Jason snickers. "Yeah, because *you* looked perfectly normal."

"You had -- *have* -- those *thighs* --"

"Big and bold and made for heads to nestle *between*."

Dick makes a choked sound and shakes his head. "So you took him out in this a few times?"

"Had to train him in it, get him used to it... I also didn't like hearing all the 'Robin is dead' rumors on the street."

"Some things *can't* die," Dick says, and turns back to face him. "Though if anyone had *asked* me if there should be another Robin after you... I'm not sure *what* I would've said."

Jason shrugs. "Bruce needs it."

"It's not that I can't *see* that. I only had to *look* at him with you to see... well. To see a lot. Jay... are you and Bruce...?"

Jason raises his eyebrows and runs his tongue over his teeth. "Uh... Dick --"

"Yeah, I'm asking. Even though I never asked before. We both knew that *I* knew, though, and -- I need to know now, too."

"Then yeah, we are. I told myself I *wouldn't* do it --"

Dick raises a hand. "You love him too much. I hear that. Hunh. What does *Tim* think about all of this?"

Oh, well, *there's* a point. And turning away isn't going to *help* anything, so... yeah. "Tim and I are fucking, Dick."

Dick looks at him. Then he looks at the Robin suit -- at the *size* of the Robin suit, most likely -- and then Dick shakes his head like a dog.

"Dick --"

"*How* old is he?"

Jason pulls his hands out of his pockets and crosses his arms over his chest. "Old enough to devote his life to the *Mission*, Big Bird. Or is this where I call you on Big *Blue*?" 

Dick makes a strangled sound and brings the heel of his hand to his forehead, banging them together a few times. "Yeah, okay, okay. Maybe it's been a little too long since I *was* that age -- which is *another* reason to maybe -- gah. You know... I never *did* ask Clark what was going through his head back then. Maybe I should?"

Jason smirks. "Depends on if you actually wanna *know*."

Dick laughs. "Okay, yeah, you're right, you're right. Jesus. Did you ever ask *Bruce*?"

"Didn't really have to. He can be... uh. Verbal? Sometimes?"

Dick blinks. "Like... talking? About his feelings? And all you have to do is get him off first?"

"Sometimes you just have to get him... let's call it 'excited' and leave it at that."

And the expression on Dick's face is more *wondering* than anything else, which...

It could be a *lot* worse. "C'mon --"

"Yeah, I hear you. I... thank you, Jay. For being willing to talk about this with me."

Once upon a time -- no, say it. "There was a time when I thought *you* could make it make sense for *me*, Dick."

"Yeah, and then the drugs wore *off*. Okay, I'm set."

And --

Patrol is patrol, except when it's exciting. And except when it's with a *partner*. He's using one of Bruce's bikes, Dick's using his own -- which he'd parked the exact same place Jason had the first time, and that *feels* like an 'of course' -- and right now they're tearing down Broadway at a comfortable seventy after breaking up a party at a 'social club' that Dick hadn't visited since *he* was Robin.

They hadn't been doing anything more wrong than a little illegal gambling, but Dick had definitely been right when he'd pointed out that *everyone* there deserved at least an *occasional* beating.

And Dick --

He's having fun. Very clearly getting to know Gotham all over again and very clearly loving it like oxygen and great sex --

"You feel it, little wing?" Dick's voice is a *little* tinny in his ear, but the radios are -- of course -- the best.

"The need for speed? Or just the *night*?"

Dick laughs and veers in front of him, making Jason weave --

And then they're giving the citizens a thrill, making the bikes burn and fucking *stitch* through traffic and generally making a nuisance out of themselves. Jason laughs right back and pops a wheelie --

Dick gives him one right back -- and then stands *up* on the bike, shaking his ass and laughing in Jason's ear.

"Crazy fucker."

"I think you'll find," Dick says, grunting as he gets back into *something* like a safe riding posture, "that *I* only fuck *sanely*."

"No, *you* only fuck aliens. What's that kink called, anyway?"

"Good *taste* -- ooh, I think I see a possible. Two o'clock."

Two o'clock is a big, nasty-looking fight with eight, maybe nine individuals -- gun. "I'm riding through."

"I'll cut 'em off north."

"Deal," Jason says and knocks a few assholes flying -- two still holding beer bottles.

They actually wind up stopping at about the same time, but that's the last of Dick he's aware of for a good, solid minute of fighting off angry drunks until he can get off the bike and *really* start causing pain.

There *are* nine of them, and, as usual, they've forgotten whatever made them decide to fight each other and are doing their level best to make Jason's life difficult -- and he's not seeing the gun anywhere. Hm. Jason breaks a jaw with his elbow -- "Yo, N, where's the heater?"

"*Just* a sec -- there. It's flying into the gutter as we speak. Don't see any others."

"Yeah, these guys aren't serious --"

"Hey, *fuck* you, motherfucker!"

"I wasn't *talking* to *you*, asshole," Jason says, dropping a guy who'll have some serious dental costs. "But since you *want* my attention --" Two quick hits to the face, breaking his nose and maybe one of his cheekbones, followed by his favorite nut-cruncher of a kick --

He catches the hand with the bottle that was aimed at his head and throws the guy at two of the others --

Just in time to see Dick taking out the last two with a split-kick.

"Man, I can't wait 'til you teach Robin that," and Jason wades in to give everybody down a good, solid kick to the -- ribs. He's being good.

Dick pulls out the zip-strips. "He's that flexible?"

"Oh, yeah. I've been pushing him hard because of something I saw in *another* universe," Jason says, taking half of the strips.

"I do *love* a bendy little boy -- though probably not as much as --"

"*Do* feel free to gobble my crank, Big Bird."

Dick smacks his lips --


They grin at each other and start tying everyone up *faster*.

The rest of the night is easy and quiet. A little too quiet for *both* of them, Jason thinks, but it's good, too. A nice way to spend an evening, really.

Right now they're crouching on Tim's roof because Jason had led them there, and Jason can't help wondering...

Well, Tim is Tim, and if *Dick* didn't exist, there'd be a picture of Tim next to 'loyal' in the dictionary. His whole damned *life* for them -- but. *Most* of that life had been for Dick, and Jason's not forgetting how Tim had reacted to *just* seeing Dick smile at him. *Dick* wouldn't want Tim to do anything he didn't want to do, wouldn't ever --

Motherfuck. He's jealous.

He's *jealous*. *Already* --


"Heh. Ah -- something you should know about Tim."

"He sleeps naked? Maybe has one of those little race car beds? I always wondered how you *would* go about having sex in one of those. I mean, all that hard plastic --"

"There's a reason they make those for *six* year olds," Jason says, and gives Dick a shove.

"Yeah, but *he* could still fit in one."

"Try *not* to harp on the size thing --"

"He's sensitive about it? You know he'll hear it all the time on the street --"

"He has a crush on you. Like, big-time."

Dick blinks at him -- his lenses haven't been down for hours. "Seriously? On *me*?"

God, Dick. "Yes, Dick, on *you*. Since, like, *well* before his balls dropped."

"Which wasn't last week or anything *like* that -- I know, I know, gobbling, cranks. I -- Jeez. When I think about him maybe watching me and Bruce at one of those parties --"

"Definitely watching. And hoping. And thinking."

"So... what, did he have a crush on you and Bruce, too?"

Jason smiles ruefully. "*Not* like the one he has on you."

"And this is all present-tense, I -- does he talk about me while the two of you are in bed or something?"

"No. But he also doesn't *have* to, because every time your name comes up... anyway, the completely innocent reason he has for talking to you is the hope that you'll talk about what it was like to partner with Bruce -- the good *and* the bad. The *real* reason he wants to talk to you is that you're *you*, and that means one whole hell of a lot. So... be nice? I guess?"

"Wow, you... it's not just the presumably great sex for you, is it?"

And he *wants* to be offended for that -- Tim's *family* -- but. He hadn't exactly gone *into* things acting that way. Jason sighs. "I like him pretty good, yeah."

"And from *you* that's pretty much love poetry --"

"Oh, kiss *off* --"

"I think *not*... but I promise to be good and well-behaved and treat the Boy Stalker like he's one of my own and -- anything else?"

Jason makes a point of looking thoughtful for a good, long moment --

"*Jay* --"

"Your hair's kind of a wreck. You could fix that."

"What was that you said earlier? Something about crank gobbling? And what does that even *mean*? Am I supposed to grab your dick and rotate it? What?"

"Just redo your damned ponytail. You look like --"

"I spent all night fighting crime?"

"You need a hair*cut*."

"Ooh, them's fighting words 'round here, partner." Dick puts up his fists and starts throwing short punches. "Put 'em up!"

"Fine, *don't* fix your hair. Ruin the poor kid's image of you *forever*. See if I care."

Dick sighs and strips out the hair tie, pushing it onto his wrist and shaking his hair out before raising an eyebrow.

"Okay, *now* you look like you should be on the cover of a romance novel."

"A romance novel with vigilantes? Like what, The Young and the Battish?"


"All My Robins?"

"Dick, those are *soap operas*."

"Guiding Batsignal?"

Jason rolls his eyes, sets his line, and rappels down the side of the building --

"One Life to -- well, okay, that one doesn't work for *you* --"

-- and into Tim's room, dark because he's --


Not at *all* asleep. Heh. Jason turns on the little bedside lamp and sits down on the bed. "Brought you a present, kid."

Tim sits up and smiles. "You didn't -- oh."

And about half a beat later, Jason hears the soft, controlled thud of Dick's boots on the floor. Tim is staring pretty hard, and hey, it's a fantasy, so Jason doesn't bother trying to get Tim's attention with more than a light stroke of his cheek with his fingertips.

"At last we meet," Dick says, and there's a slight pause before he's crawling *on* to the bed and sitting in a lotus near the foot -- with his boots off.

Right. Jason sighs and takes off his own boots --

"Um. Hi. Nightwing. It's very nice to meet you," Tim says, and he sounds... pretty rigidly controlled, actually. *Barely* a step away from how he might've acted at one of those parties if Dick had somehow decided to introduce himself.

Jason sits up next to Tim at the head of the bed, grabbing Tim's shoulder and shaking him a little. "You're only being graded on this a *little*, I promise."

Tim looks down and blushes -- "Ah... how little? Exactly?"

"You can pretend I'm naked if you think that'll help," and Dick is *waggling* his eyebrows --

Tim's expression is an excellent illustration of --

"Or maybe not," Dick says, expression shifting to rueful.

Yeah, *that*.

Tim blinks rapidly -- blanks his face and generally sends out waves of bland, bland little boy --

"Hey, no --"

"*Not* that, Tim," Jason says, and shakes him again.

"I'm just trying to... not. Be. Um."

"Oh, you should absolutely *be* at me, Timmy -- Jason said you haven't said whether or not --"

"It's Tim. I -- please."

Dick nods. "Okay, then. That *is* what Jason thought, but it never hurts to ask. I *like* giving people nicknames," and Dick gives Tim one of those killer smiles...

Tim swallows, and it's funny. Dick has been smiling at him all night, and the smiles *haven't* been all that different from the ones he's given Tim -- except when they've been *dirtier* -- but somehow they seem a lot more intense when directed *at* Tim, and he's not sure why.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he *knows* how they must be affecting the kid. Jason squeezes Tim's shoulder --

"Um. I. Did you have any... questions? For me? I mean. I could answer, if you think -- I'm going to stop talking."

Dick's smile turns rueful. "Hey, I'm just a guy, Tim. Jason told me a lot about you -- and that makes you blush even more. *Please* tell me Jason has told you how much he cares about you?"

Tim turns to look at him, and the expression in *his* eyes is rueful. "He has... let me know. Yes. Sometimes it's still a little hard to believe, though," Tim says, and *very* deliberately slips closer, the slightly oversized pajama top tugging away from his throat and shoulder.

He looks just as pale as he *should*, but somehow being able to see the tracery of blue veins beneath the surface of his skin... no, not somehow. *Everything* is conspiring to make Tim look a lot more vulnerable as he is. Jason bumps Tim on his shoulder. "You'll get used to it."

Tim's eyes widen and he searches Jason's face, looking hopeful and suspicious at once --

Oh, yeah. He's *leaving*. Jason frowns and wraps an arm around Tim's shoulder, squeezing *while* being fully aware that he's giving a mixed message --

Tim turns back to Dick. "I have it on good authority that I have an issue or two with regards to interpersonal relationships."

Dick raises an eyebrow. "On *whose* authority?"

Tim smiles. "Every psychology text I've ever read, actually."

Jason snickers a little --

Dick looks like he's bitten something sour -- he shakes it off. "Okay, fair, but remember that psychology is a *soft* science, Tim."

"Two words," Jason says, "Hugo and *Strange*."

"That, too. And, well... none of us are all that healthy, as these things go."

"Ah... yes. Jason had... mentioned. More than once."

Dick grins again. "I'll just bet. Just remember every time you feel a little crazy? You can't *possibly* be weirder than Bruce."

Tim laughs a little. "I... had picked that up. To a certain extent. I... um. About you and Bruce...?"

Dick sighs gustily and tilts his head back to look up at the ceiling, hair swinging a little and throat looking... yeah, Jason's just gonna go with hot. When he checks, Tim is scanning Dick at *speed*, lingering, by the looks of it, on the expanse of tanned chest exposed by the Nightwing suit.

Jason *doesn't* squeeze Tim's shoulder or shake him or anything else. He's being good and open-minded and all those other things, too --

And Dick tilts his head back down again *just* as Tim lifts his gaze --

Dick's smile *quirks*. "Don't tell me *you* have objections to my uniform, *too*?"

"Um. No? I know I barely know you, but it does seem to... suit?"

"Is that a *question*?"

"Yes, Nightwing, it's *definitely* a question," Tim says, and smiles a little more. "I'm... reserving final judgment."

Jason drums his fingers on the outside of Tim's far arm. "You gotta admit that's fair, Big Bird."

Dick's scowl is exaggerated to the point of cartoonishness -- and then he tosses his hair. "Well, *fine*. Both of you can deny my beauty and stylishness all you want -- *I* know I'm fabulous."

"Jesus, *how* much time have you been spending with Beast Boy, exactly?"

Dick snickers. "You should *see* him since he's gone Hollywood, Jay. It's something truly -- special." He turns to Tim. "And *you* need to start calling me Dick."

"Oh... all right. Dick."

"If it *ever* gets hard? Just pretend you're Jason and *insulting* me."

Tim laughs quietly --

"Hey, I have *never* called you a dick -- mainly because you would've *enjoyed* it too much, but still."

"Point, point... and we're getting afield. Me and Bruce, hunh, Tim?"

"If you feel like talking about it. I'm... um. Trying to get a picture of... everyone."

"*Family*, kid. As in the one you're a part of, now."

Tim blushes *again* -- but presses his side against Jason's own for a brief moment. "All right. The family."

Dick's smile is sly as he looks back and forth between them. "Not to change the subject again, but... that was pretty damned cute."

"Yeah, yeah. You can be my flower girl, asshole. Get to the good stuff."

"And the bad, too, I suppose." Dick sighs and shakes his head. "The first thing you need to know about me and Bruce is that he had *every* intention of hiding the fact that he was Batman from me. He took me in and promptly disappeared from my life, telling me that he was in long meetings and working late -- while investigating my parents' murder. It wasn't until I got too frustrated to cope and started trying to hunt down the killer on my own that he owned up, and then it was just... beautiful. Perfect. I thought I was having the best life any kid *could* have, even though I missed my parents like crazy, kept getting injured, and came to truly hate razor blades."

Tim nods. "It's definitely understandable. I... you always seemed so happy whenever I saw you."

"Which you did as much as you *could*, yeah. I can't *believe* I never noticed you. What did you do, hide behind plants at the parties?"

"Well, no, but... how many people my age notice smaller children who don't make an effort to *be* noticed?"

Dick tilts his head back and forth... "Okay, there's that, but I was trained *to* notice everything around me, and I've *had* a toddler point a gun at my head. Hell, how did *Bruce* not notice?"

Tim looks down --

"Don't --"

"Hey --"

Tim looks up again. "Ah -- sorry. Force of habit. I can't really... answer those questions. I'm sorry."

Dick raises both eyebrows. "For watching?"

Tim's smile is very, *very* small -- Jason can only really see it as a shifting of the kid's facial muscles -- but it's very much there, just the same. "I... no. Not for that."

Jason strokes Tim's arm with his fingertips.

Dick gives another dazzling smile. "The courage of your convictions is a *good* thing... and boy, were you *ever*... uh. Convicted?"

Tim hums a laugh --

"Oh, that is *way* too much like Bruce. Laughter involves an *open* mouth, Tim. I will do my best to demonstrate that for you at *length*."

This time, Tim's smile is a little wider. "I promise to pay very close attention," he says, and mimes taking a picture.

"You know, I feel like that *shouldn't* be incredibly creepy, but --"

"Oh, it totally is," Jason says, and strokes Tim arm a little more. "You should *see* some of the shots he has of us."

"I was just trying to get the best possible pictures," Tim says, and he sounds *just* a little affronted.

Heh. "Yeah, *we* know. And how would *you* feel if you found out some freaky little stranger was following *you* around with a camera for years, kid?"

Tim manages to look *both* stubborn and a little queasy. "I -- Nightwing, Robin, and Batman are -- in a way -- public figures. Which is not to say I wouldn't be a bit horrified. Um. All right, it's creepy. *I'm* creepy --"

"But *still*," Dick says, "not as creepy as Bruce."

"Not by a long road. Every once in a while? He *talks* to the empty suits. Which I'm not sure *I'm* supposed to know, but there you are," Jason says, and crosses his legs at the ankle.

"Mm-*hm*. Also? I've *seen* him frighten children with that smile of his."

"Did he ever frighten you?"

Dick smiles ruefully again. "God, no. The only thing that ever scared me about Bruce in those days was the idea of somehow not being his partner, anymore. Note: I never once even *considered* the idea of not being *Robin* anymore, even as something to be scared of."

"Oh... dear."

Dick snorts. "Yeah, pretty much. Like I said -- it was *great* back then, for a good long while. I set 'em up, Bruce knocked 'em down. I came in high, Bruce came in low. If it was a *real* good night? He let me drive the *car*."

"Ooh. I mean -- no, I mean 'ooh,'" Tim says, and shifts a little.

Jason laughs. "Yeah, kid. Look forward to *that*. Guaranteed erection, right there."

"*Jesus* yeah," Dick says, and mimes leaning back to drive. "And erections are nothing to *sneeze* at in the clothes *we* were wearing."

"Fucking A. The first time I had to patrol with a stiffie for more than an hour? I thought my dick was gonna be crippled for *life*."

"Or maybe just permanently stamped with those little scale things. And you *wonder* why I jumped down Clark's tights as soon as he made the offer."

"You had the *Titans*."

"Not *quite* yet," and Dick settles his arms on his knees, letting his hands hang. "Don't listen to Jason about Clark, Tim. He's a wonderful, beautiful, generous, loving, and ludicrously sexually talented man who longs to give pleasure to *everyone* he cares about. As Robin-to-be? You're already on that list."

To Tim's credit, he looks a little non-plussed. "Isn't that a little... um? I mean, he doesn't know anything about me."

"I'm willing to be that the second Bruce started talking about you out loud, Clark started paying attention --"

"Which? *Creepy*."

"He can't *help* being able to hear everyone everywhere. And he's *invested* in our little family," Dick says, and turns back to Tim. "He's funny, brilliant, kind, and just plain super in *every* possible way. Yes, he's an alien. Yes, he has terrifying god-like powers and can literally hear every sparrow fall. But if you give him a chance to *get* to know you? He'll be grateful and pleased beyond *all* measure. And then maybe you can spend some time learning just *how* super he really, really is."

"*Jesus*, Dick, stop trying to throw my -- stop throwing him at the damned *alien*." Dammit --

Tim looks at him with an eyebrow *slightly* raised -- and his smile is about as sunny as he's *ever* seen it.

All right, fine. "Just remember, kid -- you *can* always say no."

"Yes, yes, of course you can," Dick says, making a complicated gesture that seems equal parts 'go on' and 'you're being a tool.' "But why *would* you? Just wait until you see him up *close*, Tim."

"He could *beat* people with that chin of his. And his hair? Is stupid," Jason says, and he's fully aware that he sounds about ten, but *dammit* --

"*You're* the one whose hair winds up in a double curl if you don't work at it. Like right *now*," Dick says.

"And *you're* the one who flies around just like someone couldn't grab your hair and slam your face into a wall, Dick --"

"My hair *rejects* evildoers, and also looks good wrapped around Kory's hands. *Anyway*, where was I?"

Tim clears his throat quietly. "Um. You were saying something about how you'd never imagined --"

"Losing Robin, right. Well, here's the deal: Robin? Was my mother's *nickname* for me. The last thing she ever said to me was 'knock their *socks* off, Robin,' and I did my best to do just that. Nobody else ever called me that, and deciding to call myself that when I started fighting crime was my way of keeping her memory green, if that makes sense?"

Tim nods.

Dick nods back. "Gradually, Robin got to be more and more about who I was with Bruce, and being with Bruce got to be more and more of who I was, *period*. So, when Bruce fired me..." Dick's eyes get distant, and the frown on his face says everything about how *much* that still hurts.

"I... I'm sorry, Dick, you really *don't* have to talk about this --"

"Yes, I do. I mean, I've talked about it a little with Jay, and with Kory and Roy, but I kind of think the more I *do* talk about it, the easier it is to deal with. And -- you need to understand everything about what you're getting into, okay?"

Tim nods again, biting his lip -- stopping.

"Okay. When he fired me, I wasn't just losing my best friend in the world, my home, and my *self* -- I was losing a part of my mother, too. That part isn't Bruce's fault, really, but that doesn't mean I don't blame him for it. A part of me? Probably always will."

Jason shifts his feet until one of them is pressed against Dick's knee. Tim looks like he *wants* to be touching Dick in some way -- his hands are curling in against the duvet --

Dick smiles at both of them. "I appreciate it, guys. I... yeah. It's been a few years, now, and I think I know most of what was going through his head with the jealousy and fear... I don't *understand* it, and I've mostly accepted the fact that I might *never* understand it, but I know. And, in the end? I *couldn't* be the partner Bruce needed me to be. Being Bruce's partner -- *more* than being Robin -- is kind of a full-time job. The Titans needed me, and I needed the Titans."

Tim looks thoughtful -- and like he's filing everything away the way he should. "And... Nightwing? Came from Clark?"

Dick's smile gets wider. "Nightwing, according to ancient Kryptonian mythology, was a great hero, coming out of the darkness and bringing light. His partner was Flamebird -- which is its whole weird and kind of *embarrassing* story --"

"Betty still after your ass?"

Dick winces and holds his thumb and forefinger slightly apart. "She's a great hero in her own right, a beautiful girl, and a very nice person. Just... not for me. Anyway. Becoming Nightwing felt both like a chance to acknowledge the two most important men in my life and like a chance to *become* my own man. No one's son or ward or partner or anything else -- just me."

Jason smiles. "It looks good on you. Except for the suit."

"My parents would've *loved* this suit, I'll have you know. It's not very different from the kinds of things my Dad used to wear. *Therefore* -- I get to have a piece of *him*, too."

"Circus freak."

"Street punk."


Dick smiles *meanly*. "Leather. Queen."

"Oh, *really*? Gaywad."

"*Gaywad*? Are you *serious*? Tim, do you let him get *away* with this crap?"

Tim smiles at both of them before turning to Dick. "He usually gives me... ah. Incentive?"

"Ooh, I'll just *bet*. And what *kind* of incentive would that be? He's been telling me how good he is in the sack since you were about *ten*. How's he measure up?"

Tim blushes *hard* -- but keeps smiling. "I'd have to say he's worth it --"

"*Thank* you --"

"Not that I have much to compare him to."

"*Hey* --"

Dick snickers. "*Good* one. Now it's your turn to share."

"I -- all right. There isn't much to tell, really. I mean, I'm sure Jay has told you everything --"

"He told me a *lot*, yeah -- including some stuff that's making me almost *need* to have you get up and show me some stretches -- but, there are other things I need to know. Like what it's like for you to have to lie to your parents and friends. Jay and I lost the former, and didn't really *have* the latter once we moved in with Bruce."

"Well. I... it's a little stressful, but so far... I mean, I haven't had to tell very. Um. *Big* lies? I suppose?"

"You will," Dick says. "You'll have to come up with reasons for missing birthday parties, for bruises and cuts on your face, for not being able to leave the city... all kinds of things, really. In a way, you've already chosen *our* family over your own -- and you might not ever be able to have a *real* friend who isn't also a cape."

"I've thought about that... and. I miss Ives, who has been my closest friend since we were six. I miss Elfquest parties and movie nights, and... lots of other things. Little things. But even Ives..." Tim shakes his head. "He doesn't even believe Batman is *real*, and it's not like I could just show him my pictures. In a way, I've been lying to him by omission almost *since* we've known each other. It hasn't gotten... harder. Though I do wonder what kind of person that makes me."

Dick nods thoughtfully.

Jason gives Tim a squeeze. "It's fucked that we *have* to lie about who we are, Tim, but -- we have to. The way I dealt with it -- when I had to deal at all -- was by reminding myself that I wasn't lying because I was a bastard, that I was lying for something better and greater than anything else."

"*That*," Dick says, bracing his hands on the mattress and swinging himself closer to Tim, close enough that he can reach to take Tim's hands in his own. "You really *can't* start second-guessing yourself on this stuff. I mean, you're going to *anyway*, since you're a good person, but you can't let it take over too much of your mind. That way lies some serious stress that you *don't* need."

Tim looks at Dick's hands on his own and starts blushing again, but he nods. "All right. I'll remember that --"

"And don't think I didn't notice that you didn't say a thing about the two people presumably sleeping peacefully down the hall."

"Well. They." Tim frowns. "They have lives of their own, and I've always done my best not to interfere."

Fucking *fuck*, he wants to beat them.

Dick -- looks seriously confused. "Interfere? I don't think I get that. At all."

"I --"

"Tim. Tell him how many times they've asked you what you've been up to since I started training you."

Tim frowns harder. "Um. Twice."

"And would that be twice for *each* of them?"

"Jay --"

Jason squeezes Tim *hard* and turns to meet Tim's eyes. There's something behind them that looks small and scared *and* angry, and yeah, Dick needs to see that, too. "*Tell* him. And look him in the eye when you do."

The thing in Tim's eyes gets worse -- but he turns. "Once. For each of them. They've been very busy with the company, and their travels, and like I said, they have lives of their own."

And *now* Dick looks like he has the whole picture, which is to say terrible and hurting *hard* for Tim --

"Dick, it's not -- I think you're getting the wrong idea --"

"It's okay, Timbo," and Dick's smile is pretty fucking *awful*, but he's trying. "We've both met your parents. We understand that they're busy people."

"Look, I --" Tim twists and jerks away from Jason, tugging his hands away from Dick's own and pushing up onto his knees. "They *love* me, because I'm their son and because I'm a very good -- I don't do anything to upset them, and they don't -- I. I haven't *missed* that Jason and Bruce think that there's something wrong with them, but I wouldn't *have* any of you if they weren't just like that, so I think. I think you both should leave them to me, and have done with it."

Jason closes his eyes for a moment.

When he opens them, Dick looks like he's about a half second from a tacklehug which Tim *really* couldn't take right now. Jason shakes his head *minutely* --

Dick frowns and nods. "Okay, Tim. We can leave it. I just want you to know -- and I *know* Jason feels the same -- that we don't *have* to leave it. You can maybe tell us what your parents are up to with the company. Or... something."

Good save, but it loses points for the look that's still in his eyes, judging by the fact that Tim's holding himself like he really *wants* to be in a ready position. Jason reaches over *slowly* and curls his fingers into the waistband of Tim's pajamas. Tim tenses even more -- and then relaxes himself, all over.

"I'm sorry," Tim says, and the frown on his face looks like it's aimed *inward*. "I think -- I probably overreacted."

"Or maybe I'll just tell you about *my* parents someday, Tim," Jason says, and tugs on the pajamas. "You know -- the *other* three."

Tim smiles at him cautiously. "You *have* focused heavily on the Bruce part of that equation."

"God only knows why," and he jerks his chin at Dick. "What about you, Big Bird? Can you think of any reasons?"

Dick's grin is sharp and very, very Nightwing. "Not a *single* one, little wing. I think you might have some kind of obsession."

"Damn. And I'm so fucking healthy in *every* other way. I think I'll go find myself a shrink."

Dick's smile gets wider --

"I think... I've heard of a good one in Arkham," Tim says. "Their success rate is so high."

And Dick looks fucking *ecstatic*. "Oh, yes. I mean, people are always getting *out*."

Tim's smile gets a little steadier. "I imagine they're eager to share the lessons they've learned inside with others."

Jason sits back and just watches a little --

"With as many people as *possible*, really," Dick says, and his smile gets sharper. "And you know, Jay could be pretty popular in there."

"I think his methods of making friends and influencing people would allow him to find the sort of common ground that we all wind up searching for, sooner or later," Tim says, making his voice earnest and about as low as it gets.

"Common --" Dick bites his lip and *stares* at Tim. "Have I mentioned that I like you, yet? Because I really, really do."

"Oh --" Tim blinks a few times. "I like you, too, Dick."

"Well, *good*," and Dick turns to Jay. "I think Tim and I are already doing better than *you* and I did, little wing."

"Heh. Like you *wouldn't* drag him onto a train if there was one nearby."

"You shush," Dick says, turning back to Tim. "Trainsurfing is for *after* you're officially Robin."

"Train... surfing? I... imagine that's exactly what it sounds like."

"Heh. Maybe I'll bring out the *blindfolds*."

Jason snorts and thinks about Tim's balance, his reflexes... yeah, he could do it. Probably *sooner* than Jason had been able to manage. He looks at Tim --

And Tim is looking at him, eyes full and a smile just kind of holding *court* at the corners of his mouth. Yeah.


Tim sits down again, not *quite* snuggling close, but there's something of that *to* it, and it ends with Jason's arm around him again and Tim's cheek pressed against his jacket.

There are *way* too many layers between that cheek and Jason's *skin*, but... he can deal.

And the smile on Dick's face *should* be making Tim blush again, but he's not tense, at all. *Good* deal.

"*I* think... it's probably time for *me* to go," Dick says, and claps his hands on his thighs.

Tim shifts a little. "You really don't have to. I mean --"

"*You* have to spend all day training tomorrow, little... brother? Yes? No?"

Jason doesn't *have* to be able to see Tim's face to know just how he's looking right now -- it's all over *Dick's* face, making him seem both rueful and a little cautious. Maybe it's time for a save --

"You can -- I'd like it. If you called me that," Tim says.

And all the caution and ruefulness melts right off Dick's face. "Then little brother it is," Dick says, and looks to Jason. "You know you have to come up to the city. I know it, you know it, Tim knows it, Raven -- who isn't even on this *plane of existence* at the moment -- knows it."


"Don't give me that, little wing --"

"I'll try," Jason says, and raises the hand he doesn't have on Tim. "Okay? I'll try."

Dick kind of scowls at him, but it's *Dick*, and so it's just not as dark as it would be on just about *anyone* else.

And... Tim puts his hand on Jason's thigh. Lightly, cautiously --

"Yeah, Tim?"

"It would be nice... to go up to New York together."

And *how* much had that cost him? Considering everything? Jason *thinks* it's a lot, but it would have to be measured against the way Dick is smiling at Tim right now, and... who knows, really? "I could send you to their gym with Dick for a few hours..."

"He already *has* a nice little domino," Dick says, and -- "How *do* you like that uniform, Tim? Does it feel Robinly enough for you?"

Tim shifts again and squeezes Jason's thigh with his strong little hand. "Actually, I wondered about that when Jason first showed me the suit, but... the truth is that people were *calling* me Robin out there even when I was just wearing street clothes with body armor under them."

Dick raises an eyebrow. "Jay, you took him out there without --"

"*With* armor. And a domino I made myself," Jason says. "Save being scandalized for other things, Big Bird."

Dick looks like he *wants* to frown, but they both know Tim's his -- at least for *this* kind of thing. And Bruce's, of course. Though it's *also* not like Dick won't be coming down to give Tim acrobatics training whenever he can once he *does* see what Tim can do --

And he really should be happy about that -- the more training Tim gets, the *better*, and this *was* part of the plan, in a way...

It wasn't a good plan.

*That* part of the plan *was* good --


Tim is stroking and squeezing Jason's thigh, now, and Dick's giving Jason an *understanding* look, just like this kind of jealousy is *normal*, as opposed to irrational and ridiculous.

"*Anyway*," Jason says, and gives Dick a little shove with his foot. "Like I said, I'll try. And Tim can *always* go up on his own."

"Not without... ah. Compromising my identity," Tim says, shifting to look up at Jason. "And... if they know who you and Dick are, they presumably know who Bruce is. *Why* am I keeping my identity a secret, exactly?"

Good --

"Good question," and Dick shakes his head. "Call it Bat-reflexes? When I outed myself to the Titans, I kind of shifted a *very* big balance. I should've considered it more deeply than I did, but... well, they were already my family, and I was sick of being called 'Robbie' at times when people really *should've* been using my name. Anyway, what it *means* is that every Titan from now on is *going* to know who I am, and who *Bruce* is, and thus who *Robin* is -- or so I thought."


"Well, you're in kind of a *unique* position, kid," and Jason curls his fingers in enough to stroke Tim's collarbone a little. "You *won't* be living with Bruce --" At least until Bruce hopefully fails to save your parents, even though I don't know how that's going to *work* -- "Anyway. It's really your call. It *might* be a good idea to have a stealth Robin, it might be a *better* idea for you to have a big, friendly group of capes to call on whenever things get too fucked up in Gotham."

"I... see. I think I'll have to think about it."

Dick and Jason nod pretty much together -- and then Dick is in motion, yanking Tim away from Jason --

"I -- what --"

-- and into one of his Dick-special hugs. Jason shakes his head and pulls one knee up, planting his foot and just... watching it happen like it's the fucking *inevitable* thing it is.

After a moment, Dick eases his grip *just* enough that Tim can get comfortable while still being *enveloped*, and --

How do you like the way he smells, Tim? Is it the same as what you remember from all those years ago?

"Mm. You feel *good*, Tim," Dick says, and starts stroking Tim's back, squeezing with his thighs --

Tim makes a soft noise and hugs Dick back --

"Ooh, yeah. *Good* response strategy," and Dick rolls them until Tim's on his *back* --

Jason snorts. "Dick --"

"Can't talk, hugging."

Tim makes a choked noise and starts *patting* Dick a little --

Dick hums and kind of *rolls* them back and forth --

Jason snickers. "*Seriously*, Dick --"

"You are *no* fun at all, Jay. You agree with me, don't you, Tim?" And Dick pulls back enough that he can look -- *gaze* down at Tim with the kind of happiness Dick *only* gets when he's wrapped around someone.


With him, with the Titans, *probably* with Bruce once upon a time... Jason shakes his head --

"Well, okay, I guess Jay probably is at least a *little* fun -- I know he's waiting *impatiently* to enact some of that fun with *you*..." Dick waggles his eyebrows --

Tim swallows. "It seems. Ah. To be the case?"

Dick laughs a little and kisses Tim's forehead --

"Um. Dick. You should probably. Oh... dear."

Dick's grin gets sharper. "Yeah, I felt that. When I was your age? I'm pretty sure I was hard at least as often as I wasn't, little brother, so just... relax?"

Right. *Really*. Jason scrubs a hand over his face, pulling a little --

"I can try. To relax, that is. Dick, I don't mean to -- I mean I know you're not... flirting --"

"Oh, I'm totally flirting," Dick says. "Everyone says I do it all the time, but the *truth* is that I only do it on purpose --"

Jason makes a *point* of coughing --

Dick sticks his tongue out at him and before turning back to Tim. "Don't listen to him. I'm very *conscientious* about my flirting. I wouldn't want people to get --"

"The absolutely *right* idea, you whore --"

"I am *not* a whore. I'm a perfectly sort of almost monogamous --"

"That... sounds a bit like being 'almost pregnant,' Dick," Tim says, and it's clear that he's *trying* to wriggle a bit -- maybe to keep his dick from *jabbing* Dick -- and it's equally clear that Dick's having none of it.

Dick is, in fact, headbutting Tim lightly and repeatedly.

"Ah... yes?"

"Do you have any *idea* how many women you're screwing through little wing over there, little brother?"

Tim *shivers* -- and closes his eyes for a moment --

"Uh -- whoa," Dick says, and headbutts him again. "You okay down there?"

"Y-yes. Very okay, really. Just a bit... I have the distinct sense that I'm going to remember this every time you call me 'little brother' in the future."

"I can *work* with that," and Dick grins up at Jason. "Can I keep him? Just for a little while?"

Jason makes a little show of studying his fingernails before buffing them on his shirt. "I dunno, Big Bird. You been a good boy, lately?"

"Oh, I'm *always* a good boy, Jay. Some might even say I'm an *excellent* boy."

"He thinks of you as his son, Dick. I -- all right, that probably seemed like a non sequitur. Because it was. Um."

Jason chokes and *winces* --

Dick is looking at Tim like he'd just grown two heads --

"I'm sorry," Tim says, looking a little panicked. "We could all pretend I didn't just say that."

"Uh -- no," Dick says, and rolls them again until Tim is straddling him. "He said that? Out *loud*?"

Tim looks at Jason, clearly wanting *help* --

Jason shrugs and gives Tim a rueful smile. "You said it, kid."

"I -- so I did," Tim says, taking a breath and looking down at Dick. "He said it, yes. He also said you were only the second friend he'd ever had, and... the implication seemed to be that you wouldn't ever want him around you again."

Dick's frowning and his eyes are searching *wildly*, and Jason doesn't think he *could* be any more obvious about going over every even remotely related memory in his mind.

Jason reaches over and squeezes Dick's shoulder. "Dick --"

"He *said* -- that he'd never be my father. Never *try* to be my father. I. The *hell*, Jay, why didn't you tell me --"

"Because it's something he needs to say to you for himself."

Tim winces hard. "I'm really sorry. It's not my business, at all --"

Dick laughs, cracked and high. "That's where you're *wrong*, little brother. It *is* your business, and Jay's, and Babs'..." Dick squeezes his eyes shut for a moment. When he opens them, they're clear again, determined -- "I have to talk to him. If I have to *chain* him to that damned Case, I'll make him sit still for it."

Jason debates telling Dick that, given the time, there's a pretty good chance of finding Bruce on *that* rooftop right over there... but that just leads to questions that *really* don't need answers right now. He squeezes Dick's shoulder, instead. "You guys will work it out sooner or later, Big Bird. It *can't* last the way it is."

"See, that's what I keep *thinking* --" Dick growls and strokes Tim's sides restlessly -- "Hey, you've got some good definition under there."

Tim blushes. "I -- thank you. I really am sorry --"

"Shush," and Dick starts unbuttoning Tim's pajama top with an expression somewhere in the middle of distraction, anger, and curiosity.

Tim gives him another 'help me' look, and yeah, the kid's packing some heat.

"You don't have to let him," Jason says. "You're not training right now."

"Right. Um --" Tim catches Dick's hands as they get up to the second button from the top. "Dick?"

"Hm? What? I just want to see how far you've gotten, Tim. It's all right," Dick says, twisting his hands free of Tim's own and pushing them *under* the top to -- pet.

Tim's eyes are wide as *hell*, and yeah, he's tense --

"Definitely good definition. You're going to be a lot more wiry than either Jason or I was." And --

Jason is absolutely positive that Tim has no *idea* that he's plucking at the button he hadn't let Dick open.

"I -- well. You. Um. Do you think I should be working harder to... fill out?"

"Hm? Oh, I... no. If it's going to happen, it'll happen on it's own. Just eat Alfred's cooking the way you've been doing -- or. Hm. Ask Bruce what you should be eating when you're here with your family."

Jason nods. "Learn to cook if you have to. It'll *be* simple things."

Tim nods and drops his hands.

Dick smiles. "Yeah?"

Tim nods again and, by the look of his jaw, bites the *inside* of his lip.

And then Dick is pushing Tim's top down off his shoulders --

"Oh, what the *hell*, Jay? Those are *knife* scars."

Yeah, that. Jason shakes his head. "Hunting knife scars, to be exact, Dick."

Dick looks at him like he's lost everything *resembling* his mind, but for some reason Jason just can't get too fucked up in his head about it -- no, he knows the reason.

"Dick, it's -- kink," Tim says, and strokes the scars on his pec with his fingertips.

Dick growls and sits up, pushing until Tim is bent back over Dick's legs, dick doing its level best to push its way out of Tim's pajamas --

"You. Tim. Where the hell did *you* pick up a kink like that?"

"From Jay --"

"My *point*," Dick says, and he's stroking Tim restlessly, going over the scars again and again --

"I think you're *missing*... um. The point, actually. I'm always going to have something of Jay's like this. No matter what."

"You -- are a lot more muscular than I thought you were, which is very, very good, and keep it up, but Jesus fucking Christ, Tim, have you thought about this? You can't go *swimming* --"

"Chlorine irritates my sinuses and I hate the beach. Ah -- do you think I could sit up?"

"Not yet -- good flexibility, too, just like Jay said -- *Jay*, he's too *young* for this kind of kink --"

"I disagree," Jason says, and reaches out to stroke the cap of Tim's knee a little --

"So do *I*," Tim says, and sits up anyway, rubbing his thighs -- stopping and staring up at Dick. "I wasn't planning to share that aspect of our sex life with you, but not because of shame."

Dick's frowning hard. "I feel like I should be taking Jay out of here and *beating* him --"

"Or *trying* to --"

Dick lifts Tim and moves him -- "Don't fuck with me right now, Jay. Tell me *why*."

And to get Dick to curse like *that* -- Jason shakes his head. "Kink, Dick. Emotional and otherwise --"

"That's not *good* enough --"

"It really is," Tim says. "And you should probably lower your voice a little."

"I -- sorry, Tim, your parents -- grah. What happens when Jay runs out of *skin*?"

"I have to be honest, Dick -- I'm rather more worried about what happens when my -- ah, *other* lifestyle choices start leaving less attractive marks."

"Attractive. Marks. You -- Tim, are you *sure*?"

"Scarification has a long and rich history in any number of cultures -- and it really made me a lot less squeamish about the sight of blood."

Hunh. "You were squeamish?"

"Exceedingly so," and Tim smiles at him before moving closer to him on his knees. "I'm glad I managed to hide it."

"Aspect. Of your sex life. Attractive marks. Scarification --" Dick squeezes his eyes shut again and shakes his head. When he opens them, he's looking at Jason with an almost pleading expression. "And you picked this up from Talia?"

"Some of her... acquaintances, actually. And business associates. Look, Dick, I know it's pretty out there, but as far as 'completely fucked up' goes, I think it's way more of a problem that I took Tim's virginity *months* ago and did it without being at all sure in my head how I *felt* about him. That's something else I can't even begin to take back --"

"Jay, no, it's okay --"

"Just relax for a second Tim," Jason says, and pulls him close again, petting his hair and his back --

"Oh, God, they're on his back, *too*. Jay --"

"*Dick*. Think about what I'm saying, here. It's not abuse if everyone is on the same page. If it *is* -- then our entire lives are even more fucked than we thought they were."

Dick sighs and scrubs a hand back through his hair -- and steps off the bed to pace a little.

In retrospect, Jason thinks he probably should've seen this coming. Seen *more* of it than he had, anyway, and Dick --

Dick looks good no matter what he does, but there's something about the sight of him *agitated* that adds a whole extra layer to how ridiculously hot he is. It's the kind of thing that's gotta make a guy -- and a whole *lot* of women -- want to hold him down, a little, and make him take and take until he's still again, or at least moving in ways that feel good for everybody.

Add the sharp violence of *some* of those movements -- the snapping turns, the gestures that don't go anywhere or communicate anything -- and you've got the recipe for a seriously dangerous night... and one you're not fucking likely to forget.


"I'm listening, Dick."

"I -- little brother. *Were* you both always on the same page?"

"Ah -- no. I read ahead, as it were. I couldn't help it. Jay is always going to be the man who took me out of myself and made me better, made me into someone who can be useful and even *important*. I'm going to be Robin -- and maybe I would've been even without him, but that's an entirely different world, and maybe an entirely different Tim. And -- I think you understand what that means."

And Dick looks -- Jason can't really place it. There's sadness in it, and maybe even misery, but there's also something like *exultation*, something irrational, religious, and terrifyingly *pure*. It makes Jason want to make sure Tim *never* goes to New York, and it makes him want to beat Bruce bloody, because --

"I always... I always just wanted to *show* him, to prove to him that there wasn't anything I couldn't be without his help, his guidance, his --" Dick laughs and pushes *both* hands through his hair, holding it back and tilting his head up. "His approval."

That. Jason winces on the *inside*. "I think we all pretty much get that, Dick --"

"Except that it's *not* Bruce for Tim, Jay, it's *you*," and Dick takes his hands out of his hair and lets them hang at his sides. "How does it feel? I'm not being a -- heh -- dick about it, I really want to *know*. Because I'm going to *talk* to that man tonight, and I really need to *get* it."

"It's scary as hell, Dick. Like nothing else. I look in Tim's eyes and I think -- I can't possibly deserve this. I can't possibly be *worth* this, and wonder what happens when I fuck up. And I *have* fucked up a *lot*, but Tim's still right here --"

"I always will be," Tim says, quiet and sure.

Jason urges Tim to turn around and then wraps an arm around Tim's chest and pulls him closer, holds him *tight*. "There's *that*. Right there. See, I knew that -- the way a *part* of Bruce has always known that *you'd* never really leave him. And he fears it and hates it, because it means that he's never going to be *free* of you, and he loves it and fucking *craves* it, because it means that he's never going to be free of you. And it's the same damned thing for me, so I maybe try to push Tim away, try to make him imprint on Bruce a little, but I can't fucking stand the idea that it might *work*, because I love Tim, and I need him... And you know, when Tim starts making *real* friends in this life? When he turns to Bruce or finds some vigilantes his own age? I'm probably going to be a complete *dick* about it, because I don't *want* him to be free..." Jason laughs. "Is any of that making sense?"

"I never would've left him. Not for anything," Dick says, sighing and going to the window, holding onto the sill and probably not seeing much of anything -- "Wow, there are some seriously good sight-lines to this building."

Yeah, *about* that... Jason grunts non-committally and kisses the top of Tim's head.

Dick sighs again. "I'm going. I *meant* to go before, and maybe I should've -- no, all of this is good information, even though I think I'm probably more confused than I was before."

"We're still family, Big Bird. That's what matters."

Dick looks back over his shoulder and grins. "Sappy, sappy, *sappy*. I think you have to give up your leather jacket for something... oh, let's say *floral*."

Tim snorts.

"Let's say sit and *spin*, *Dick*."

"You *wish*."

"So would *you* if you had half a clue of -- heh -- what you were *missing*," Jason says, pumping his hips a little. Just enough to bounce Tim --

Who moans *impressively*, because yeah, he's been hard for a *while*.

Dick has the nerve to look *shocked* -- and then laughs. "Riiight. *Okay*, then, I'm gone. *Try* to play nice."

"I rather think... ah. That we always do," Tim says, and *grinds* against Jason's thigh. Which is one big, serious, *fuck* yeah.

Jason pushes his hand into Tim's hair and yanks his head back for the kiss he thinks he's been needing since Tim had walked *out* earlier. Tim still tastes a little bit like sleep -- meaning he *did* get a little rest before all of this, which is, in its way, as much of a relief as the kiss itself -- and he's kissing Jason like his life depends on it.

It's not that Jason isn't aware of Dick laughing quietly over by the window, it's just that he doesn't pick up the end of the laugh or even realize that Dick's gone until the kiss is over and he's licking his lips.

Which... Dick has things he needs to do. Jason sends a wish out to the multiverse for him and starts stripping --

"Oh, thank God," Tim says, and goes for his pants. "I think I've been terminally spoiled, Jason."

"Heh. Sex on demand?"

"*Yes*. And -- you don't have to get entirely naked, but I'd have to say that I'd appreciate it."

"Oh, yeah? How much?" And Jason starts working on the catches of the armor.

"Um. A lot? Very much? Googolplex?"

Jason snickers and lifts his hips so Tim can tug his pants, jock, and boxer-briefs down. "*Geek*. I really should've guessed you were back in my own world --"

"Maybe I wasn't. Maybe I was *straight* in that other world, and not at all socially awkward, and also imbued with a strong, native self-confidence," Tim says, and wraps a hand around Jason's dick.

"Mm. Well -- you did have a lot of friends, but they were pretty much all capes as far as I could see."

"Which would make sense, considering -- Jay. You feel incredible and I've been thinking about having your dick in me and your knife at my throat since -- ah. The rimming, actually."

"Ooh," Jason says, using his very *best* Dick voice --

"That's *disturbing*. Mostly because I'm trying and failing to imagine Dick cutting patterns into my skin... I. Wow. I got to know *Dick*. Dick was *here*, and we *talked*. About multiple things --" Tim blinks and shakes it off. "I'm done, but it had to be said," and the stroke Tim gives him is hard and *fast*, absolutely designed to get Jason to the point where he'd fuck Tim even if his ass was *already* bleeding --

All right, maybe not that -- "Hey, slow down a little --"

"Please don't make me do that, Jay --"

"I need a little bit of talk out of you, and I want my *whole* brain for it," Jason says, tucking his hand under Tim's chin and lifting his head.

Tim makes a little choked sound and slows his stroke. "Your wish..."

"That was downright *snippy*. I like it. Anyway, you know I won't be upset with you if you ever do find yourself coming all over Dick someday, right?"

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Jay. That's something of a contradiction --"

"Oh, I didn't say I wouldn't be *upset*. I just said I wouldn't be upset with *you*. There's a big, big difference between the two -- and I know everything he said and did tonight might as well have been designed to make you love him even more than you already did."

Tim looks -- stubborn. "I'm not. I'm in love with *you*, Jay. And I'd rather not imagine spending time with anyone who *isn't* you -- unless you're there, as well."

Jason raises his own eyebrows. "Yeah? Just like that? Even after everything today?"

"Especially after everything today, and -- I did already mention --"

"You did, you did... mm. I love your hands. I love how hard and fucking *vicious* they are -- yeah, *on* my sac --"

"Jay," Tim says, licking his lips and letting his eyes go a little hazy, letting his lips stay parted --

"You make me want to give you *everything*. You know that, right?"

Tim's smile is quick and sharp. "Then I *will* get your dick up my ass tonight...?"

"And you sound *fantastic* when you talk dirty. *Good* boy," Jason says, and pulls Tim in for another kiss, and another one after that, and another one after *that* until Tim is doing his best to crush Jason against the wall with his body and grinding their dicks together -- Jason pushes. "Pajama pants *off*."

Tim *grins* at him and stands up on the bed, pushing the pants down and balancing for a minute as he looks down at Jay like a project well... *begun*. Heh.

Jason scoots down until he's lying on his back with Tim casting a nice, even shadow over him. Bruce's shadows always shift, somehow -- even when he's being still. Just another one of the creepy little things about him which -- maybe -- Tim will grow into.

Or maybe *not*, because the smile on Tim's face couldn't frighten anyone but the coward in Jason, the one who wants to run *solely* because this is too much --

It's only too much for the parts of him he doesn't like. Jason grabs for the slick, pushing a pillow out of true -- knife. The *first* knife he'd given Tim to be exact about it, and... he pulls it out. "Who *else* were you expecting, kid?"

"Ah -- no one," Tim says, and kneels down over Jason's thighs. "Though sometimes I find myself feeling paranoid whenever I pass an alley or wake up in the middle of the night. That's -- not why, though."

Jason nods. "An increase in paranoia is normal for this life. I *highly* recommend avoiding civilian friends who like to throw surprise parties or tickle people."

Tim laughs quietly. "Noted. I -- um. Just like having it there when I'm sleeping."

That... "I used to like sleeping with a gun under my pillow in my own universe. It... confirmed things for me the way nothing else could. The smell, the feel..."

"You've... shot people?"

"Eight of 'em. Then, I beheaded them and brought their heads to a meeting of their -- former -- lieutenants. At the time, it seemed like the best way to help put an end to the gang war that was strangling the city -- and, more than that, it seemed like the *very* best way to make a point about who I really was. It took three nights to get them all, with me shoving those heads in my refrigerator so the stink wouldn't chase me out of my base..."

"Jay, I..." Tim shakes his head and crawls close again, wrapping his arms around Jason's neck and squeezing.

"No, Tim, you don't have to do that. I'm not --"

"Forgive me, Jason, but I think you are. I think it really -- fucked with you, and you're only just now acknowledging that fact. It's not about me trying to convince you that you're someone you're not, and it's not about me pitying you, either. It's just... wanting to be close to you. For this. Because you shared with me."

"Jesus, Tim. I've shared a whole lot of things --"

"*Not* things that made you doubt yourself, except in terms of relationships. And I'm not denigrating those things, either. I just -- it's okay if you're not sure about things. I don't need you to be perfect in every possible way," Tim says, and pushes his face against Jason's neck. "I know you're a man."

Jason closes his eyes and strokes Tim's back, thinking about the things unsaid, like whether the men had deserved it, whether he would do it again... and Jason remembers the exact moment when he had gone to pull on his jacket for the last time in that other world, when he'd *looked* at the holster with the nine millimeter nestled inside...

When he'd turned away and put the jacket on. There hadn't been any pull, and there hadn't been any sense of freedom, either. There's nothing stopping him from getting another gun -- or a dozen of the things. It's just that there's nothing *driving* him to do it, either.

Jason turns and kisses Tim's ear. "Loving Dick would be a lot easier on you in the long run, you know."

"Mm. Because I like so many things the *easy* way."

Jason laughs. "Noted, 'little brother.'"

Tim pulls back and smiles ruefully. "That was rather nice. I think my inner toddler passed out from joy an hour ago. Dick is very... he's very *exuberant*."

"Uh, huh," and Jason strokes Tim's sides, his chest... he pinches Tim's nipples *nice* and hard --

"Nnh -- Jay. There's not much -- I won't be able to take much."

"Tell me what you'd let him do to you, Tim. Just, you know -- if I was *there*."

Tim laughs and shakes his head. "I suppose... I'd want to know what *he* liked. I'd want to make him smile. As much as possible."

Jason grins. "*Nobody* smiles the way he does," and he pinches Tim's nipples one more time before sliding his hands down and back so he can cup Tim's ass, *feel* it... "Please tell me you got a look at that ass."

"Oh, I really, really did. Um. Have you... ever seen him naked?"

"Heh. Showers at the Tower are *also* communal. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing -- especially since they're unisex."

Tim blinks and frowns -- even when Jason slides two fingers into his cleft.

"What is it, Tim?"

"I just... they'd all *been* together since they were fourteen years old or younger... oh, could you -- oh, yes, Jay, that *feel* --"

Just *pressing* on his hole while circling it a little. Teasing them both. But -- "It bugs you?"

"It seems... I mean. *None* of the other heroes were thinking about teen sexuality?"

Jason grins. "Well, firstly -- you know they didn't always have that Tower, right?"

Tim nods.

"Yeah, so they had a *place*. And the other heroes... I think they were *all* thinking about it -- and hoping the Titans would fuck themselves stupid with *appropriate* people. People who could know all the secrets, people who probably wouldn't turn out to be supervillains or reporters... that kind of thing."

Tim manages to look both dazed with lust and *thoughtful*, which is impressive enough that Jason has to kiss him a little. His forehead, his cheeks, his sweet little mouth...

"Tell me more about you and Dick. His dick is a little shorter and leaner than mine. Plumps up when it's hard, but not that much --"

Tim groans and swallows, searching Jason's eyes. "I'd want... I'd want to see how that felt. In my mouth."

Jason smiles and presses a little harder on that hole, settles his free hand on Tim's hip... "Yeah? Want me to hold your head while you do it?"

Tim *bucks* for him --

"Hell, yeah. Believe me when I say I'm taking *note*. He could fuck you harder than I could, too."

"Would you... want to see that?"

Jason smiles a little wider and leans in to lick Tim's cheek, the corner of his eye... "Sometimes I think I want to see all *kinds* of people fucking you. Dick, Bruce, *Babs*..."

"Could you explain the appeal? It doesn't seem to jibe with what you've said about your own... um. Capacity for jealousy."

"I *never* claimed to make sense in my own head, kid," Jason says, and stops petting for long enough to get his fingers good and slick. "Still, I think a lot of it boils down to wanting to show everyone what I *have* in you. How good you are, how crazy you make me... you're *supposed* to share good things with your family, right?"

Tim blushes for him, but that doesn't stop him from looking wry. "If they're my family, too... what am *I* sharing?"

"They are -- *we* are your family. And you're sharing... you," and it's just as perfect as it always is to push two fingers inside Tim, even though a part of him -- crazy and *slow* -- wants to look for Bruce's saliva, for the *tracks* of his brutal, brutal tongue. "Your sense of humor, your shyness, your moments of *cuteness* --"

"I really don't want to be cute -- oh, *fuck*, Jay, *deep* --"

"Too bad, 'Timbo.' You were really *giving* it to him tonight. All those shy little looks from under your lashes, those tiny, bright smiles --"

"I give those to *you*, too --"

"But you *also* give me other things to play with," Jason says, and starts a twisting thrust designed to make Tim really *feel* the fact that it's two, that Jason's hands are *just* that big --

"Like." Tim puts his hands on Jason's shoulders and holds on tight. "Like what?"


"I prefer to think of it as -- ah. My continued studies into a rich and complex subject oh god faster."

Jason laughs and bites Tim's ear, then the other one. "Hot little boy. You give me *this*, for one. The way you're moving for me, the way you can order and beg and plead without stumbling or stammering --"

"I'm well-*trained* --"

"Some people *never* get it. Trust me on that."

"I -- all right."

"There's the way you study everything, look *into* everything before making your own conclusions, too. I like that *and* it scares the hell out of me."

"You. Shouldn't be scared. Oh. Oh, *please*, Jay, you feel so good --"

"Yeah, *squeeze* my shoulders, Tim. Really feel them. Fucking *know* them --"

"With my eyes closed *and* drugged. Jay, I love your body, you really are -- beautiful. And I hate reminding you of Bruce."

"*Air* reminds me of Bruce, kid. He's a big part of my *world*, even now, and nothing is gonna change that --"

"I. I know that, sorry -- *fuck* --"

"*Don't* do that," Jason says, and eases his fingers out most of the way from that last shove. "I -- *are* you jealous of me and Bruce? You've never --"

"Said anything, I know. It's just -- I don't think. No, I'm going to answer your question, and then... I'll have said it," Tim says, and his smile is tight and tense in ways that don't *belong* to a moment like this one --

But Jason can be patient. "Go ahead."

"I want -- the way you talk to each other. You touch and laugh and look in each other's eyes and see each other perfectly. Or -- almost perfectly. I think Bruce maybe sees a version of you that you *think* never really existed --"

"It didn't --"

"And I think you see a version of Bruce that only ever existed for *you*."

Jason frowns, but -- "I. All right, I can see it. He has... he told me, once, that he saw me as his friend. His *closest* friend at that time, in ways that had only ever been true for Dick, *Clark*, and Harvey fucking Dent, and being in that company... hell, being Bruce's *friend* -- when he was old enough to be my *father* -- was a whole hell of a lot of *stress*," Jason says, and tugs Tim's hip until he moves a couple of inches closer, until the head of his dick *just* brushes against Jason's abdomen every few breaths. "You want us to be... comfortable?"

Tim closes his eyes, and they're tracking fast behind the lids before he opens them again -- and nods.

"And you think that's a lot to ask -- no, I know you do, because you look like you *want* to look away." Jason shakes his head and starts thrusting again. "It's not a lot to ask. It's the least of what you deserve."

"If you -- say so."

"I know so. Because I need you, and your twisted up little mind, and the way you see the patterns in things that just look like chaos to me... you're going to be one *fuck* of a detective one day, Tim. You already *are*."

"I -- *is* it that I remind you of Bruce? I... God, you can just... I think. Ah."

"*This* thrust?"

"Yes. Yeah. Please --"

"Anything you say, baby bro --"

"Oh, *fuck* --" And the rest of that is a groan loud enough that Jason has to clap a hand over Tim's mouth, because he's coming so hard that he's jerking like he's been tasered. His eyes are rolled up in his head and he's *gripping* Jason's shoulders --

He's shaking and *grunting* as he shoots --

He slumps and turns his face away from Jason's hand. "*Damn*."

"A little too much stimulation?"

"I -- apparently," Tim says, panting and frowning *darkly*. "I really wanted you *in* me before I did that."

"Hey, don't get too upset, Tim," and Jason cups the back of Tim's head. "You're *thirteen*. You don't get to *have* that kind of control all the time."

"I *know* that -- intellectually. Emotionally... it's something of a different story."

Jason smiles. "Next time you get too close like that, just try to *remind* me of what I'm supposed to be doing. I got a little too distracted, there."

"Mm. I -- suppose there'll be times when you *want* me to come like that, as well?"

"Got it in one," Jason says. "Come here and kiss me."

Tim kneels up and lets go of Jason's shoulders to wrap his arms around Jason's neck again, and the kiss is slow and *hard*, filled with Tim's frustrations and the hunger Jason's touching with his fingers, the hunger Jason's *feeding* -- though not enough.

After a while, Tim stops licking enough that Jason can suck his sharp little tongue, and Tim slides his hands into Jason's hair, petting and tugging and giving Jason a little itch beneath the skin. Would Dick feel this and wonder a little? Have a moment to really *deal* with the fact that he's getting turned on by a kid who *has* to be old enough -- but only because thinking he isn't would make too many of his own memories fucking *suspect*?

Is it really any better that Jason *knows* his own memories are suspect? What does *owning* this really do for him -- other than making it *easier* to do what his dick wants, anyway?

Jason does his best to shake it off internally. Dick has his way of doing things -- of *living* -- and he has his own. And hell, maybe Dick is *right*. He certainly never went hungry because he couldn't stand to open his own fucking refrigerator --

No, not that either. He can't be forgiven and he can't fucking brood on it, either. The world doesn't work that way -- whether or not it should -- and Tim deserves better. Jason starts thrusting again, tongue and fingers, working more on *preparing* than pleasuring --

And Tim makes a *pleased* noise and starts working his hips for him, tugging harder on Jason's hair and licking the underside of Jason's tongue *lightly*. Just enough to be a tease, to make Jason salivate more --

And then Tim takes *one* hand out of Jason's hair and shoves it between them, jerking Jason hard and fast --

Jason pulls back. "That the way you want me to fuck you?"

"I -- know you can't stay long, but --"

"There will *be* more nights when we can *have* the whole night --"

"Or the *late* night and some of the morning. I -- you know my parents are going away again soon."

Jason nods. Fucking obscene to be thinking of *this* trip *that* way, but he can't --


"Just hating your folks a little, kid. *Nothing* for you to deal with."

"I. I almost want to be able to introduce you to them, to make you see --"

"What you see. I know," Jason says, and kisses Tim's forehead again. "They're *your* parents, and you love them, and that's the way it should be."

"I -- *will* you tell me about your parents, Jay?"

"Yeah, I will. But not *now*," he says, and pulls out slow. "How do you want it?"

"I -- could we... the edge of the bed, and you standing behind me?"

Jason grins. "Bow wow -- baby bro."

Tim shivers and moans for him, looking *right* at him -- and smiling.

It's good to look at, good to *feel*, and so Jason just takes a moment to smile right back before giving Tim a little push. He feels Tim's *absence* on his skin immediately, and -- yeah.

Maybe he didn't *waste* time by not fucking Tim sooner -- he wasn't anything *like* ready before, and it would've made things even more fucked up than they were -- but it still feels that way.

Nights he could've had this, could've gone to sleep to the sound and feel of Tim's breathing --

No such thing as *enough* time for this, and probably the guardians of those other Titans had felt the same way when they decided to leave the kids alone. Maybe. And Tim's up on his hands and knees just beautifully, head down and the *picture* of ready --

Jason slicks his dick and gives Tim a little more lube around his hole, wanting this to be fast and easy and as good --

"Oh, *Jay* --"

*So* good, so *right* to slip in like this, centimeter by centimeter, inch by fucking *inch* --

"Always -- God, somehow my body always *forgets* --"

"Yeah. Mine, too. Jesus, you're good around me. Tight and fucking *open* for me -- except for that hot little *clench*, heh. Hold me. Hold me *tight*."

Tim gasps and does it, holding himself still, holding Jason the right way, the best way --

And his back is right there, bare and scarred only because of *him*... and the back of his mind knows more than the rest of him, because he'd never taken off his belt sheath, and now...

"*Oh* -- Jay, *yes* --"

Now he's got the tip of the blade pressed to the side of Tim's throat, and it's hotter than it has *any* right to be. "Like this?"

"I. I was thinking... more the edge?"

Jason flips the knife and presses as lightly as he can, sliding the blade back and forth enough to raise a welt without cutting --

"Oh. Jay. I -- I'm getting hard again. I --" Tim laughs shakily --

Jason pulls the knife *back* --

"Sorry, I. I just didn't expect that so *soon*," Tim says, and grunts when he clenches --

Safer -- in all *kinds* of ways -- to just start fucking with the *back* of Tim's neck --

"Or that. That's good. Too. I -- I think one of us should be moving. Possibly both of us."

Jason smiles -- but Tim can't see that in this position. "Oh, I'm gonna move. When I want to."

Tim groans and shakes a little, clenches *hard* --

And it feels like it *forces* the groan out of him, and he has only *just* enough time to stop himself before he slices a line into the back of Tim's neck. "Fuck, Tim. *Easy* --"

"I'm sorry, but I just don't see -- you don't *need* your control --"

"I *can't* cut your neck --"

"But --"

"*Think* about it, Tim --"

"I don't *want* to -- all right, no, you're right. You're... God, Jay, *filling* me, and -- cut me *somewhere*, please, all that talking about it tonight -- *nnh* --"

Blade to his throat again, and now Tim's clenching rhythmically, tensed hard to keep himself from shaking --

"Jay, you *want* me," Tim says, and it sounds like he's making an important discovery -- no. It's more of an important *announcement* --

"Like maybe I didn't know that?"

"Everyone should know, should see -- oh, God, Jay, you make me feel so *perfect* --"

"I am -- mm. *Happy* to share my personal reality with you. *Any* time you want it," Jason says, and rocks in a few times, a few more --

Tim starts grunting for him, once for every push, every slick slide -- "Yes. Yes, *please* --"

"Hold *still*," and Jason can't keep himself from emphasizing his point by dragging the tip in a nasty little smile around Tim's throat, Tim's *pretty* throat -- "And do me a favor and think about getting yourself emancipated in a year or two."

Tim moans and *spasms* around him --

"Yeah. *My* boy." Jason traces another smile, another *half* of one before bringing the knife back around to the back of Tim's neck, flipping it to shave down a few of the already short hairs --

"Oh, *God*. Please, Jay, please fuck me, cut me, *take* --"

"What you *do* to me," and Jason cuts two short, diagonal slashes over Tim's shoulder blades, one for each --

"*Fuck* --"

And then another two *just* before Tim shudders too much for it to work *neatly* --

"*Yes*, Jay --"

"Lick the knife for me, Tim --"

And the wet sounds are too quiet for this, too *subtle* when the blood's welling like this, following gravity down Tim's sides, lingering near his ribs -- Jason swipes some up and paints his lips with it, forcing himself not to lick until the fingers are in his mouth and he can *suck* --

"*Now*, Jay --"

Jason *grunts*, because that order went right through him, fucking --

"Do it *now* --"

Jason does *not* toss the knife so it buries itself in the wall. He sets it down on the bed, grabs Tim's hips --

"*Fuck* me --"

He gives it to Tim, hard and fast and just brutal enough to ease the thing thrumming for those *orders*, and the part of him which is breathing *only* because there's enough slick to make it smooth is letting the rest of him live, letting him --

He can't think through this, he can't --

It's Bruce all over again, but it also *isn't*. It's Tim, and the way *he'd* wanted it. It's the stink of blood and semen, the feel of it drying on his own abdomen and the knowledge that Tim is loving this with every breath, every grunt and *fucked*-off groan --

"*Yes*, God, yes, I've been waiting -- *ah* --"

Too high, but *not* too loud, because it's Tim and he can control himself, it's Tim and his body, his blood, his *perfection* for this --

Would you give this to him, Dick? One day, I'm willing to bet you won't be able to help yourself. Little brother's just a little *different* from little *wing*. Or a lot different, better --

But I'm your brother *now* --

But Tim is so *good*, matching every thrust and tossing his head, digging his fingers in against the comforter he's *dripping* on, and no maid for *these* people would ever say a word about stains --

Fuck, *faster*, and it's not enough to hold Tim's hips for it. He gets *one* hand in Tim's hair and yanks his head back, forces him to face his own reflection in the mirror on the closet door, closed *neatly*, and there's too much of a glare for *Jason* to see anything, but --

"Oh, God. God, your face, Jay --"

"And what. About. *You*?"

Tim whimpers, sobs -- clenches and gasps and *shakes* --

"*Tell* me."

"I look -- like I'm going to cry. Like -- I'm flushed and I keep making *faces* --"

"Love those faces. Every last *one* of them --"

"I'm. Thinking about Bruce."

*Jolt* through him, knocking him off his rhythm and making him harder, need more -- "More. *More*."

"*This*. I -- he's been here, Jay. He's touched me. I know. What he *smells* like --"

Jason growls and *finds* his rhythm again, makes a *new* one, and the sound of his sac slapping against Tim's own, the wet sounds of his dick in Tim's ass, the *high* note Tim's moans keep catching on --

"Bruce doing this, doing *me* like you because he knows I like it --"

"Tim, *yes* --"

"He would, I know he *would* -- I. He'd ask you if he should. Do it harder."

Jason laughs breathlessly and can't do anything about the way it turns into a groan -- or about the way a part of him *wants* Tim's parents to walk in on a masked man fucking *giving* it to the son they don't deserve *just* so he can let them know, once and for all, that Tim is *his* --

"J-Just don't leave me, Jay --"

"*Never*," he says, before he can fucking *think* --

Tim seizes hard, clenches tight enough to fucking *hurt*, and Jason's still trying to think of something to say, something to make it *work* --

And then Tim's *slamming* himself back against him, pushing Jason to go even *faster*, and there's nothing he can say, nothing he can do or *think* --

Sweet boy --

*Good* boy, ruthless and silent save for the grunts, staring at himself in the mirror, staring at both of them and seeing everything --

Knowing everything --

God, he has to *know* that Jason wouldn't give this up unless he had to, would fight for this, for *Tim* --

"*Love* you --"

Another seize, but Jason can't *let* him stop. Not now, not *yet* --

Both hands back on those hips and now he's moving both of them, working them like a flesh machine, still obscene but maybe beautiful, too, maybe some kind of perfect --

Right --

"God, *Tim* --"

"Love you so much, need you so much, Jay, anything, you have to know --"

"I *do*," Jason says, reaching for it, for that thing that's going to choke him, kill him, make him come -- "God, I do, Tim, and it makes me need you *more*."

And Tim sobs for him, moans for him, clutches at the comforter and *shakes* for him. This is just that good for him, and even though Jason wishes it could be some other way, he *knows* that part of it *is* the fact that Tim can give this to him, surrender his *body* for Jason's needs --

"Fuck, is it *religious*?"

"*Yes*," Tim says, laughing and gasping -- "*Fuck*, yes, Jay --"

"I'm not your personal *God*, kid --"

"Mmm, no. But -- *hnnh* -- the *sex* is," Tim says, and there's a lie in there, but maybe it's the best way to keep them both relatively sane --

*Relatively*, because his rhythm is gone again and there's nothing he can do about it, no way to keep himself from *gripping* Tim's hips, holding him still for the *pound* of his fuck --

But oh, it's Tim's fuck, too. Exactly what he wants and exactly what Jason can give --

"*Jay*, I -- make me come, please make me *come* --"

Jason hears himself growl because he knows that means it's getting to be *too* much for Tim, that he needs help *relaxing* for it or just taking it --

And it's fucking hard to take a hand off Tim's hip, but he manages it, and taking hold of Tim's dick is the most natural, the best --

The *best*, because he's hard for Jason and leaking, still streaked with his own drying come -- "Fucking *dirty* for me --"

And maybe that was supposed to be words, but it definitely isn't. *Noise* for him, carefully controlled volume and *noise* --

*Clench* and there's nothing left but his body and Tim's own, nothing but the moment of fear at his loss of perception and the way it gets buried under heat --

Pleasure --

God, *Tim* --

And he has just enough warning to *clamp* his jaw shut before the orgasm rocks him, making his knees buckle --

Make him almost slip *out*, and slamming back in makes them both cry out, too loud, too much, too --

And he doesn't blank out at all for this one, just twitches and shoots and grunts like the animal he is until there's nothing left but his own need for air.

Jason pants and strokes through the blood on Tim's back with his free hand while he works up the *focus* to give Tim a *good* stroke, as opposed to the fucking spastic one he's managing right now --

"Jay. Jay, please --"

"Yeah, kid, I've got you. Just -- heh. That was a little *serious*," he says, laughing because he *has* to --

"I -- ah. Understand. The feeling. God, Jay --"

"Right here, and if you *ever* make up a shrine to my dick..."


"No black candles. They're just too fucking gay."

Tim snorts -- clenches again --

"Mother*fuck* that hurts. Do it again -- *nnh* --" Jason starts stroking Tim fast and serious, the short strokes he likes the best while wincing through all the flexing and *jerking*.

Tim's fucking his fist *and* fucking himself back on Jason's softening dick, and it's going to make him pass out if it lasts too long --

Tim starts making these hot little *keening* noises, though, and that's worth sticking it out for, worth a good, solid chunk of his fucked up *soul*, because damn if he doesn't want to see if he *can* go again in a little while --

"*Jay* --"

"*Right* here. Give it up for me, now --"

"Say it again, *please*..."

And there are a *few* different its to *choose* from, but -- "I love you, kid. You're all through me now. Nothing -- there's nothing I can *do* --"

Tim chokes, fucking gurgles like maybe he's feeling Jason's dick in his *throat* --

Tim comes with a gasp, spilling all over Jason's hand and the comforter and clenching hard enough to make Jason groan, long and low. He drops onto his elbows and pants, spasming a few more times and generally being fucking gorgeous.

Perfect for him.

Jason waits until Tim starts working on controlling his breathing -- and until he's just a little softer -- to pull out. He needs to get clean, but it's not like he's going to risk using Tim's bathroom here. He grabs a few tissues and wipes himself off -- and sits on the bed again.

Tim smiles at him and comes close, wrapping his arms around Jason's chest and resting his head where Jason's heartbeat can thump at him a little. And -- it's late.

It's *very* late. But.

Jason wraps *his* arms around Tim and holds him close, careful of the new cuts. It's silent except for their breathing, this part of the city held apart from the rest by main force and a whole lot of money. The room reeks of sex with just the slightest taint of blood beneath it all.

It's possible that Tim thinks of it as spice.

It's possible that he does, too, deep down where too much of him will always live, always need, always fucking *hunger*.

After a while, Jason shifts enough that he can grab the knife and sheath it, promising it a thorough cleaning and sharpening later. And --


"I didn't say what you wanted me to say, did I?"

"No," Tim says, and presses closer still. "But you said enough."

Jason kisses the top of Tim's head and closes his eyes. He can doze here for a little while longer.