In love and madness
by Te
May 4, 2012

Disclaimers: Basically nothing and no one here is mine. I make no claims.

Spoilers/Timeline: Many, *many* references to both ancient and relatively new storylines, though pretty much all of them have been run through the AU filter. As to the timeline... well. Events in this story happen over the course of forty years, and not especially linearly. It's discussed throughout the story, but I highly recommend you open this document while you're reading, as well.

Summary: "I can't believe you built a time machine in your floating orgy house, Tim."

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which does and does not dovetail with the content some readers may find to be disturbing. Trigger warnings for more problematic -- by some definitions -- incestuousness than usual, non-con, medical kink, and descriptions -- without depictions -- of electrical shock. May contain other triggers I just haven't thought of.

Author's Note: Mildred gave me the first generation of this *bizarre* bunny last year as part of her blatant, shameless efforts to get me to write good parenting. It was a *heroic* -- and psychotic -- attempt on her part. Back in March, when my sinking health was getting me down, Britt reminded me that I'm never actually happier than when I'm writing truly insane AUs. This bunny was right there waiting. Jack then stepped in with the perfect storytelling device.

Acknowledgments: Much love and gratitude to Mildred, ShadowValkyrie, Britt, Spice, Nonie, Melissa, Pixie, and my Jack for audiencing, encouragement, critique, helpful suggestions, and anachronism spotting. I couldn't have done it without you guys. <3

Length: 276,000 words.


June 2000

Tim isn't allowed in the gymnasium -- not the one featured in Gotham Homes and Gardens last August, and *especially* not the one which sprawls for three stories below his and Bruce's *hopefully* still innocent-*enough*-seeming townhouse. Barbara Gordon is the other name on the deed -- and she even *does* stay here at times, just as Bruce sometimes stays in various other places -- but...


This is his home with Bruce, and it *has* been for sixteen years. Bruce had formally invited Tim to live with him when Tim had graduated from high school, and by then...

Well, by *then* Bruce was no longer doing *everything* formally. It had been... notable. Different.


For a moment, Tim builds a fantasy of applying pressure to those particular memories. He could take Bruce aside, gaze up into those admirably *steely* blue eyes until they softened --

Remind Bruce of all the years when they wouldn't soften, at *all* -- no, not that. He would remind Bruce of all the good times, and of how good and obedient and generally *cooperative* a person -- a *brother* -- Tim has been.

'Bruce,' he would say, 'it's not that I don't know *how* to take care of myself in a gymnasium environment.'

And Bruce --

Well, he's the *other* Batman. He's not the easiest mark in the world. Tim would have to work for it.

'Bruce,' he would say, 'I know I *have* overworked myself in the past, and worsened my injuries -- *annoyingly* --'

No, not that.

'I -- I won't do it *again*,' he would say. Plead?

He could plead. He certainly knows *how* to plead -- even though it's been nearly four weeks since he's been *capable* of getting down on his hands and knees --

'Bruce,' he would say, 'it's not my mother*fucking* fault that I got blasted through a mother*fucking* brick wall by mother*fucking* Star Sapphire and I will not mother*fucking* get better just by sitting on my mother*fucking* *ass*.'

Tim spends a few moments letting the fantasy whirl around his brain. Just --

Bruce had thrown Tim to the League with a haste which could only be termed *unseemly* once Tim's training was -- nominally -- complete, and, really, Tim thinks he's done a fairly *good* job leading and organizing the team in its various incarnations since then. He's had Clark's help for all of it, and, for the most part, they work well together.

In truth, the mission that had left Tim with two dislocated shoulders, seventeen new scars on his back, a broken tibia, a broken ulna, and a kneecap made of materials which -- technically -- should not exist on the *planet*... was a *success*. Slabside Penitentiary has eight new residents. The death toll was -- happily -- measured in the single digits. The monetary damage was, for once, well within the parameters of the emergency fund New York City had set aside.

The injuries -- other than Tim's -- were minor.

And --

And he can be honest: That burns.

That --

That *burns*. He's the (other) *Batman*. He's better than (nearly) *everyone*. He doesn't *get* taken out of the game like this. A gunshot wound every now and again -- sure. A knife slash requiring twenty to fifty stitches -- of course. But this?


Oh -- wonderful. He's fuming again. He's *fuming* -- and he's no closer to getting into a gymnasium. It's three-seventeen in the afternoon. In forty-three minutes, one of his ever-so-unofficial nephews will be showing up to make sure he does his physical therapy exercises and *only* his physical therapy exercises. Cassandra -- one of his ever-so-unofficial *nieces*, and how many children does Bruce *want* --

("Were you never...")

And Bruce had trailed off, but there had been no softness and no *distance* in his eyes in that moment. He had *looked* at Tim --

*Into* Tim --


"I know you were lonely --"

"Oh -- not that --"

"I know you were -- that you were *empty* --"

"Bruce --"

"As *I* was --"

"The answer isn't to build some sort of vigilante *orphanage*, Bruce!")

And Bruce had -- smiled at him, sharp and --

Bruce had smiled, and Tim had felt like he was thirteen again, skinny as much as he was lean, *needy* as much as he was --

Anything *else* --

And Bruce had been that -- *then* -- *ever*-so-important five years older than him.

Again. Tim had sighed.

("You don't have to say it."


"Of *course* I love them, too --"

"Need them, I believe.")

And there was a moment when his mind was -- a riot.

Dick's giggles when tickled.

Cassandra's gasps when clutched.

Jay's curses when --

When --

And Stephanie --

Thirty-five minutes. Will it be Dick today? Dick's sympathy for Tim's *plight* is warming, of course -- well. In the eleven years Tim has known Dick, there *have* been occasions when Dick has said or done things which were not, in some way, heartwarming. However, Tim has reason to believe that these failings have far more to do with his general inability to *be* warmed, at times, than with Dick's... everything.

Tim smiles ruefully, wheels away from his secondary console, and -- pauses.

Thirty-four minutes.

If he presses one small, unobtrusive button at his primary console, certain alarms secreted on his family's persons will cease to function. He could then shut down all the cameras in this room with *impunity*, and then --


It's been a long month.

It's been --

Three days into his convalescence --

Ten hours after the Kryptonian knee surgery --

Twenty-five minutes after the drugs had worn off enough *just* in time to allow him to really *focus* on the fact that Harvey and Bruce --

That his *brothers* were making out like *teenagers* next to his *bed* --

("Ah... Little guy, sorry 'bout that. You know --"

"Yes, Harvey. I know.")

And Harvey had managed *that* expression: a blend of rueful good humor with a general sense that Tims everywhere need to suck it up.

Tim hadn't rolled his eyes *once* while he was a teenager and he certainly didn't start then. What he *had* done was raise his eyebrow --

("You could consider gettin' yourself a hobby, little guy."

"A hobby."

"Yeah, you know. One of those things human beings do when they're *not* eating, sleeping, beating the crap outta people, or screwing teenagers.")

And Harvey had *looked* at him --

Crossed his arms over his chest --

Practically *dared* Tim to mention that Dick *and* Barbara are both in their twenties *now* --

That *Harvey* had been the one who *started* it --

Tim had sighed, instead.

("I am, of course, open to suggestions."

"Brother, you know there are any number of books --")

Tim had looked at Bruce.

Bruce had coughed and raised his hands.

("So *don't* read a book. Read a newspaper *without* looking for crime, for once. Build a model car. Rent some pornos from the adult video store I'm not supposed to know the Batman uses as a front for a safe house. *Something*. Because you're *not* goin' out there to fight any crime for a *while*.)

Harvey's expression had spoken eloquently about all the voluminous amounts of *it* that needed to be sucked up. By Tim, of course.

No one else.

Still, Harvey had been as sympathetic and gentle as Dick would have, when Tim had asked them both to leave him --

("Yeah, I won't sit on you, little guy. I know that's not what you need. But *you* know how to get hold of me when you *do* need me. Or just *want* me.")

Harvey's name was never on the deed to this house, but he was the one who had urged Bruce to buy it in the first place back in nineteen-seventy-nine, to move *out* of Wayne Manor and into someplace where they could -- all -- be together, even though Harvey attended Yale in New Haven during the school year, and even though Tim was only 'visiting' while he was still in high school.

*Harvey* had an apartment big enough for all of them *in* New Haven --

And some of Tim's 'visits' to both places had lasted for days at a time.

There were, in fact, any number of projects that Tim *didn't* have time for when he was healthy enough for the street, or even healthy enough for a halfway normal training regimen --

He's *not* thinking of the amount of deconditioning --


*One* project in particular, because *one* aspect of life as a member of the Justice League is that it is fundamentally impossible to be ignorant of certain things -- such as the fact that they live in a *multiverse*, made up of any number of bizarre and *terrifying* dimensions where all *sorts* of things can be true --

Or not true, at all.

After coming in contact with a Bruce Wayne who had never even *heard* the name Tim Drake save as the apparent *biological* and *young* son of a minor local *business* competitor --

A Bruce Wayne who had, with the help of his frighteningly powerful and *corrupt* pseudo-League, all but taken over the *world* --


That Bruce also built a machine which allowed for contact and travel between dimensions and across different *times*, and that was far too interesting not to acquire the plans for.

Before bombing the man's *cave* -- apparently, all Bruces will have a taste for high drama which will run *wild* if left unchecked -- into the Stone Age, of course.

Tim had gathered the materials for the machine over the years -- you really never *do* know -- and his family has been extremely agreeable about bringing the pieces to him and helping him put them together when his body has failed at the various tasks.

He's spent the past two weeks programming it.

Building its brain, as it were -- and hoping with everything he *is* that Shayera's gift of nth metal isn't allowing the thing to develop *consciousness*. That would be... problematic.

Twenty minutes.

The machine can do other things. The --

Tim frowns and wheels himself to the primary console, reaching into the strange and quietly *eldritch* space in front of the machine's 'viewscreen.'


Monitor -- whatever.

He watches all the hairs on the back of his wrist stand up and... undulate.

He moves his arm.

He turns on his *actual* monitor and considers, for the forty-third time, creating a less primitive user interface. Barbara would be disgusted with the one he *had* created, for all that its functionality is perfect.

Barbara appreciates elegance in her computing -- though in relatively few other things.

Barbara -- is the only one in the extended family with any inkling of what he's been building. Doing what it would take to keep his actions from her would've added *weeks* to his construction time, and he couldn't --

He is not the most patient person in the world.

And the machine can do other things.

It's *reasonable* -- if one squints after having consumed just enough wine and theoretical physics -- that time moves *differently* in different dimensions.

Tim is thirty-five in *this* dimension, and Bruce is forty. They were twenty-nine and thirty-five when the League first happened across those dimension-*hopping* Leaguers. *That* Bruce had certainly appeared to be in his mid-thirties, as well --

But that Tim Drake, according to information gleaned during his interrogation of that other Bruce, had been no more than *nine*. The possibilities --

He had, of course, *wanted* to study that universe more thoroughly. Had that Tim looked anything like Jack Drake? How *old* was Janet Evans Drake? Where were the *Robins*?

But the possibilities raised questions that were more general, as well. If timelines could be shifted that *seriously* --


Last night, while his family was patrolling, he'd looked in on his first alternate dimension. He'd used the remote he'd built to spare his shoulders the necessity of typing, and he'd set the machine to show him coordinates that would correspond roughly to the half-collapsed caves beneath Wayne Manor -- it was just too *Bruce* an idea *not* to -- and he hadn't been disappointed.

He'd found himself looking at a Bruce who had to be at least *seventy-five*. Withered in some ways. Scarred. *Bent*.

And in the process of *vigorously* fingering a black-haired, blue-eyed adolescent -- with a mouth not unlike Jay's -- who was bent over the pommel horse.

Tim's heart was warmed.

As was Tim's penis.

Still, even though Tim had taught himself all *sorts* of mental tricks to get the 'camera' angles to shift as he wanted them to -- nth metal is as responsive to directed thought and *will* as the Lantern rings, but less *choosy* -- he couldn't recognize the teenager, at all. The cheekbones weren't *entirely* unlike Cassandra's, but really, the resemblances were all superficial.

He'd saved the dimensional coordinates and forced himself to take detailed, coded notes about everything he'd learned.

And then he'd forced himself to go to sleep, because, along with everything else, he needs more *rest* now than usual.

Fifteen minutes.

Fifteen -- and he'd set this schedule himself. Three hours of physical therapy in the morning, followed by as much as he can stand in the afternoon -- with the caveat that *Clark* would be monitoring his vitals from wherever he'd gotten *himself* to, even if he was in the middle of a *battle*.

The truth is, he's going to want more than fifteen minutes for this.

The *truth* is --

Well, if he can see the future, why *not* the past?

If he can see *potential* futures, why not *absolute* pasts?

Nth metal is *notoriously* non-Einsteinian in terms of its properties --

And Tim has known for a week how to look in on his own reality. *Everywhere* in his own reality.

And, now, every*when*.

Tim swallows and catches himself staring at his closed bedroom door. *Dick* always knocks -- and then walks in anyway. *Jay* waits after knocking, now, but that's only been the case since he'd walked in on Clark being decidedly Kal-ish with Bruce.

Kal and Bruce enjoy rather more *extensive* CBT than Jay can ever be truly comfortable with --

Jay can be... gentle. In some ways.

Tim touches his tongue to his upper lip. He's staring at the door for another reason entirely.

Twelve minutes -- no, eleven.

Tim closes his eyes.

It's not that he's worried his calculations are off -- he knows they aren't -- and it's *not* that he's worried about what he'll *see*. It's --

He *knows* the answers to all the questions his parents -- and 'parents' -- have always been too genteel and correct -- if not simply uncaring -- to even allow to be properly *voiced* over the years. It's --

It's who he *is* --

But it's *also* who he is to want to know why, and how, and *exactly* when. What had made Thomas *Wayne* break his marriage vows so *thoroughly*?

When *did* Harvey know that *Martha* Wayne had had his father killed -- presumably to facilitate his adoption as Bruce's brother?

He knows when *Bruce* figured that little tidbit out -- it was one of the things which had brought him and Bruce closer *together* that last year before Bruce had left to travel the world -- but...

There are other questions.

There are so *many* other questions --

And he wants the answers to all of them.

Ten minutes.

Tim takes a deep, cleansing breath, sets the dimensional coordinates for *this* reality -- and the physical coordinates for the part of Wayne Manor that exists *aboveground*.

Temporal coordinates are somewhat trickier to pin down, but hardly impossible. Were he a Thanagarian, he could simply *touch* the machine and *will* it to show him Wayne Manor at, say, six-thirty-five p.m. on April twenty-ninth, nineteen fifty-eight -- an hour, or so, after Thomas and Martha would've arrived home from the private Wayne airstrip after their lengthy honeymoon in Greece.

As a human, he must ask for every detail as plainly and clearly as he can -- or, rather, as *thoroughly* as he can in the perfectly functional code he had worked out for this eventuality years before he began *building* this machine.

If Barbara is monitoring his keystrokes --

Again --

And it's not that he wouldn't tell her if she asked. She's *barely* seven years younger than Tim himself is, for one thing; and, for another, she has a deep and acute understanding of what it's like to have... inadequately communicative parents.

Her biological parents may not have been all that *genteel* about keeping vital information from their beautiful, brilliant daughter, but kept it they had, and --


It had been one of the nights Barbara had chosen to stay with them -- though she had timed her arrival to come after Bruce had already retired for the evening with Jason and Stephanie, and Dick with Cassandra.

She'd needed fifteen stitches to replace the eight emergency stitches and glob of wound sealant over her left lower ribs, tape for the two cracked ribs on her *right* side, and thorough massage for an old shoulder injury. And then the two of them had begun to make slow and somewhat *cautious* love on one of the gurneys -- until she'd laughed at both of them.

("Yes... Barbara?"

"I... mm. My hair hurts."

"I could stop pulling it --"

"The hair on my *arms* hurts, Tim.")

Tim had blinked, looked Barbara over more thoroughly --

("Yeah, I'm coming down with something, too.")

And her smile was rueful and annoyed and *sad* --

("That isn't the only thing wrong -- though I find I'm not sure whether I should pull out."

"My *pussy* doesn't hurt, Tim.")

Tim had raised an eyebrow --

And she had snorted and winced, gripping her sides --

("God, it feels like my uterus has a *rock* in it -- fuck, I just want an *orgasm* --"

"And that's why you arrived long after everyone has usually... paired off?")

She'd given him a long look then, hot and narrow and perhaps a little angry.

Tim had brushed her hair -- gently -- back from her forehead.

("I'm willing to accept 'I knew you'd still be up' as an answer."

"Even though you know it would be a lie?"

"Even then.")

Barbara had swallowed then, and looked down --

There'd been a *tear*, and there was the usual panic for that, the sense of being inadequate, inadequately *trained* --

But he'd lived with Bruce for a long time by then. He'd pulled out slowly and pulled her close, holding her gently and breathing in the warm and sweaty scent of her hair, her conditioner --

The rising scents of blood and something like *pain* --

And they'd stayed like that for several minutes, until --

("I think -- I maybe wanted more than just an orgasm."

"Anything is possible.")

Laughter, thick and wet --

The feel of her pressing *closer* --

Barbara is -- at five feet, seven inches tall-- only two inches shorter than he is, and the truth is that they can each wear some of the other's clothing. When she feels smaller than that, it's frightening, and there is a heat Tim isn't sure what to *do* with --

But he had held on that night, and laid them down side by side on the extra-wide, extra-thick gurney, and turned off the fluorescents directly over the bed --

Which had made her snort and point out the other *dozens* of fluorescents in the gymnasium -- all of them burning bright at nearly *all* times, for various reasons.

("It's the thought that counts...?")

And she had been silent again, though not stiff. She had breathed slowly and evenly, pressing closer and closing her eyes...

Someone else might have thought she'd been asleep.

Tim knew that she had, perhaps, found something temporarily better than that. He had taken those moments to enjoy the *victory* of being able to give something like that to someone he cared for, of being able to *provide* --

And then he'd kissed her temple and reminded her, gently, that she could tell him anything, at any time.

*That* had made her stiffen, but only for a moment before --

("I don't know my parents. I don't -- it just hit me, tonight --  I mean, my biological father has been dead since I was fifteen. My biological mother didn't even make it until I was *fourteen*. I told myself -- God, Tim, part of me just wants to tell you off for how much of this shit you *don't* tell us."

"I --"

"I already know you tell Bruce some of it, and Harvey, too, but we're not -- *some* of us aren't kids, anymore, all right? Will you just -- pay *lip* service to the *idea* of remembering that so I can get back to *whining*?"

"You're not *whining* --"


And Tim had heard himself gasp --

*Felt* himself wanting to backpedal --

("I'll talk. About my past.")

And Barbara had stiffened again before turning over to look at him, to *study* him with hope and suspicion and something *frighteningly* like need --

There is only ever one way to respond to need. He remembers having doubts about that when he was a teenager... but those doubts hadn't lasted very long once Harvey and Bruce began looking at him.

*Seeing* him --

Tim had shaken his head and cupped her face, stroked her wind-roughened cheek with his thumb --

("One day -- and, no, I don't know precisely when, yet -- I'll begin working on a project that's directly related to my own issues with my childhood and my... parents."

"A *project*? What --"

"Once I make decent headway, I'll be able to talk about it. I -- though perhaps only with you, at least at first.")

She'd frowned at him, then... but only for a moment before she pushed close and told him things he'd already known: about how she'd thrown herself into her new families, how she'd made Jim Gordon into her father before either of them were ready to have anything like that happen, how it had been the best thing she'd ever done for herself and still the most frightening, the most --

("I don't know who I could've been if I wasn't Jim Gordon's daughter. I don't know if that person could've been any good. I don't know where that person *went*. I don't know..."

"If she'll pop up and surprise you someday...?"

"I -- God. That's horrifying.")

And she'd snorted and elbowed him --

Tim had hummed and kissed her temple --

("I'm sorry."

"No you're not."

"Well... true. Horrible psychological surprises are an important aspect of adulthood --"

"You're *not* that much older --"

"Old enough -- in some ways. And I don't mean to argue, or belittle you, or anything --")

Tim had shaken his head --

("I'm grateful for this, Barbara."

"I... oh. I'm not blushing."

"No, you're not. Tell me more?")

And she had, until night became morning, until morning became *late* morning and they'd had to go upstairs to grab snacks from the kitchen and from there to Barbara's bedroom -- where *no* one invades without knocking *and* asking --

And Stephanie occasionally pretends to want to know how Barbara had *managed* that --

They'd spent the late morning and early afternoon in her soft bed, and Tim had failed to talk about the project, but Barbara had forgiven him *enough* --

And now there are only five minutes before his exceedingly *punctual* nephews --

Tim growls and picks up the telephone -- carefully. He *is* healing well -- Clark's access to nanotechnology wouldn't have it any other way. It's just that his sensitivity to the surgical lubricant and his allergy-like immune response to the nanites themselves wouldn't allow for more intensive treatment --

("I'm so sorry --"

"It's all *right*, Clark --"

"It's only -- if I'd known --"

"I know --"

"I would've had the AI begin looking for a workaround for your physical profile immediately --"

"Yes, I imagine --"

"Would you... would you like a hug?")

It had been very, very difficult not to glare at the man.

It had been --

At times like those, it's important for Tim to remember the differences between his upbringing and Clark's own, the definition of terms like 'well-meaning' and 'politesse,' the fact that Clark is a *phenomenal* lover, and the fact that -- sometimes -- Tim really does enjoy being hugged.

By Clark, even.

Tim had smiled.

Clark had winced.

Tim had smiled *ruefully* -- and meant it --

("Perhaps I'll offer someone *else* a hug...?"

"I think that would be for the best.")

Clark had hummed, kissed his cheek, and left the room so quickly he'd seemed to disappear.

And Tim had gone back to his plans and plots and schemes --

Three minutes.

Three --

He's better than this.

He dials, the telephone rings *twice* --

"Yes, Tim...?"

"Barbara... it's time," Tim says, and feels something *twist* inside him, twist *painfully* for the fact that he's about to expose secrets, expose *himself* --

She's *family* --

That's supposed to *mean* something --

He'd *known* that as a child -- even if he'd had no way to prove it then. He --

He breathes.

And listens to Barbara breathe.

And waits --

*Waits* --

"Barbara --"

She laughs then, and it's the breathless and *strained* thing which usually means that she *is* blushing, that she's thinking of pulling away, hiding herself --

And the thought of that causes an entirely *different* twist -- "Don't --"

"Don't *what*, Tim? I'm -- does *anyone* else know what you've been doing?"

Tim closes his eyes -- no. He opens them. "Bruce -- no. No one else."

"Bruce -- how do you *know* Bruce doesn't know?"

That... Tim smiles, and knows it for the one which had tended to make Harvey eye his teenaged self warily, and to make Bruce look *pained*. If he were remotely sane, he would've beaten it out of his repertoire of facial expressions entirely. As it is... "If he'd known... he would've stopped me."

Barbara snorts --

Giggles for a moment which fills Tim's mind with the memory of coltish legs, and freckles which have long since faded --

And sighs. "All right, you have a point. When am I coming over?"

Two hours of physical therapy -- no more than that, because it's Dick walking in his door with a smile on his face, and Dick has a tendency to work himself too *fast* for his own training if he feels he has a limited amount of time.

Dinner at six...

"Consider... consider being here at seven to seven-thirty," Tim says, and resists the urge to stroke the space in front of the portal before he shuts the machine down entirely.

Dick has a cheerful question in his eyes.

Tim mouths 'Barbara.'

Dick smiles even more broadly. "Hi, Babs!"

Barbara makes a sound reminiscent of all the times Cassandra has hugged Stephanie while Stephanie was in the process of growling. There is that same quality of *affronted* pleasure -- "I can't believe you're letting other people in that room --"

"Think about it," Tim says, in something like the Voice.

She lets the growl out unimpeded this time. "Oh -- tell him I said hi back, please."

"Of course," and Tim turns to Dick, who is arranging the assorted mats and rehab tools and toys and devices while whistling a Boy George song and dancing unselfconsciously. "She sends her regards."

Another *bright* smile -- and Dick goes back to work --

And Barbara sighs. "Of course you're doing it to allay suspicion. If everyone *sees* you working on something, then it can't be something horribly dangerous and disturbing --"

"And interesting."

"And *interesting* -- I'll be there."

Tim smiles. "Good."

"You'll let me --"


"Is it really --"


She growls at him again. "You've had these plans for nearly four *years*!"

"Very, very true," Tim says, and allows Dick to help him out of the wheelchair, biting back several different curses --

Snarls --

Growls --

He's upright, and he can even stand relatively straight. He can walk, as well -- he's just not supposed to do it nearly as much as he wishes to. He can, however, walk to the parallel bars, and that's just what he does.

One ridiculously awful step at a time.

One --


"I'm listening, Barbara," Tim says, and ignores the pain sweat -- and the feel of Dick hovering nearby. Dick is fully two inches taller than Tim is, now, and nearly thirty pounds heavier.

When Dick was thirteen, such a thing had seemed *impossible* --

"I'm listening, but I'm going to be hanging up momentarily."

She sighs. "You could let one of the magic-users work on you. Some of them even *like* you."

"Yes, the world *is* full of wonders, now that you mention it," Tim says, and steps up carefully onto the mats --

Sweat rolls and tickles its way down his *spine* --

*Already* --

And Tim does his own sighing. "Let's just say I haven't ruled it out completely."

"Oh --"

"Until later, Barbara. You have my love."

Barbara snorts. "And you have mine. Good sir. Please feel free to imagine me gesturing with a fan as if I were a character from a Jane Austen novel."

Tim hums and hangs up --

Dick takes the cordless away from him and places it dutifully on the receiver. "How *are* you feeling, Uncle Brother?"

Uncle -- Tim sighs as expected for the epithet and grips the rubberized parallel bars. "Better than yesterday." Sometimes, Dick lets him get away with that --


Sometimes he doesn't. Tim shows his teeth and begins the process of walking *therapeutically*. "Emotionally, I'm *much* better, Dick."

"Oh, *good*. Honestly, Tim, you're shut up in here so much -- *too* much -- you could at least come down to the gym to *visit* --"

"No, I couldn't."

Dick frowns, years falling away from his expression --

It's only when he smiles that he looks like a man in his mid-twenties -- his laugh lines are the only usually-visible feature which show his age. Dick has very, very few frown lines, and --

Sometimes Tim wonders if he'd put every last one of them there. He stops showing his teeth. "I'm sorry, Dick. I'm still..."

"You... you'd feel like you weren't working hard enough?"

Tim smiles *ruefully* -- *damn* it, he *can* keep his affect *friendly* -- "Precisely."

Dick bites his lip and nods.

Tim breathes, and focuses on walking to the end of the parallel bars. He turns and walks the twenty paces to the other end. He regulates his *breathing*. Back and forth and back again, and the turns almost feel natural now, almost feel like something he'll be able to do -- someday -- without having to think about it.

He *is* getting better, and he won't have to trust himself to Zatanna's marijuana-enhanced spells, or to Doctor Fate's increasingly *esoteric* mysticism, or to Jason Blood's --


Tim represses a shiver and *focuses* --

"We miss you," Dick says, quiet and low.

Tim blinks and --

"Don't stop. Don't -- you've got a good rhythm," and there's *guilt* in Dick's voice --

"Dick --"

"It's not -- I mean, you're *going* to visit with Babs tonight, so that's --"

"You -- you feel I haven't been spending enough time with the family?"

And Dick is staring at the floor.

Weeks of only the physical therapy and whatever family meals he had the stamina for after his exercises.

Weeks of his *project* --

Dick is staring at the *floor* --

No -- "Dick... I've been --" Busy. *No*. *Not* that, because he'd promised *with* Bruce not to do that to his children --

*Their* children --

"I'm sorry," Tim says, and forces himself to keep *walking*. "You're absolutely right --"

"It's okay --"

"No. It isn't. I allowed myself to... to become wrapped up in my project -- which I shouldn't have been putting ahead of family," and Tim ignores the pang --

The tearing, screaming *whine* which wants him to know how close he is to knowing, finally knowing, and can't they wait for just a *little* while --

Tim segregates the whining part of himself and beats it into a coma. And then he breathes. "Please look at me."

For a moment, Dick continues to look at the floor --


Dick *shivers* -- and looks up, and his eyes are the blue of sunlit seas, and his skin has the *dark* olive tint which tells him more about the season than anything else --

Tim hasn't had the *night* --

And Dick's eyes are full of the fact that the family which seems *terrifyingly* large to *Tim*... is just as terrifyingly *small* to Dick.

Compared to what he had once had.

Tim sighs and *has* to stop, and reach, and stroke Dick's perfect cheekbone --

Dick blinks. "Tim...?"

Tim smiles. "Now I know it's been too long. *This* should never surprise you."

A blush that comes and goes so quickly Tim can almost believe he'd merely hallucinated it -- and then a leer. "You're feeling *that* much better, Uncle Brother...?"

"Hn." Tim strokes down to Dick's mouth, his lower lip -- bitten. He'd hidden that with his perennially too-long hair. "Not enough to interrupt PT. But... yes."

The leer becomes something of pure *joy* --

And Tim realizes with a jolt that feels like the entire multiverse smacking him *vigorously* for being an *idiot*... that it's been a long month for *everyone*. "Little brother. It remains too easy for me to... forget myself," Tim says, and presses his *thumb* to Dick's lower lip.

Dick nods solemnly. "I know, Tim. I -- I *don't* get it, but I don't blame you, either."

"Perhaps you should --"

Dick shakes his head violently and *bites* Tim's thumb. "Just -- come back when we remind you to, okay? And -- dinner with the family tonight?"

Tim looks down at his legs, which are not shaking *yet* -- but. Bruce has been bringing Tim's meals to him for most of the past month, knowing perfectly well that Tim wouldn't *want* to see anyone else...

"Hey, it's therapy, *too*. Walking through the house, sitting on normal chairs, dealing with Cass on your lap --"

Tim coughs --

And Dick beams. "Please? Please please?"

The bloody, twitching Tim in his mind whines from his hospital bed, but --

He's better than *that*, too.

"All right --"

"Yay! Okay, back to walking," Dick says, and claps. "We have to get back on track -- I got some great new massage techniques from this physical therapist I met on the subway -- he works at Kessel! He kept trying to stick his hand down my pants, but he had good ideas."

Tim laughs and gets his hands back on the bars after giving himself one more moment to *catalog* the feel of Dick's skin --

His stubble and warmth --

He has ninety more minutes of this.

Then slightly more than an hour of dinner.

And then Barbara will join him... and he can begin.


May 1979

Wayne Manor is, Harvey thinks, the scariest freaking house he's ever been in. For one thing, he's actually supposed to think of it *as* a house -- no.

Martha and Thomas Wayne -- his Mom and Dad for the past five years, and when he thinks about how *that* went down he gets a little --

A *lot* --


Harvey sighs and doesn't fidget, or shove his hands in his pockets, or tug at his tie, or any of that crap. He's wearing the latest in a pretty damned long line of *truly* perfect suits -- this one's even that *smoky* brown Bruce likes to see him in so much -- and he's not gonna ruin the look even a little.

It's his first summer home from Yale, and even though he'd had plenty of visits from Bruce during the year -- not that there could ever be enough of *that* --

He wants to look good. He wants --

Martha and Thomas *both* talk a good game -- a *real* good game -- about wanting Harvey to think of the place as his home, wanting Harvey to be comfortable, wanting Harvey to know -- right down to his *bones* -- that he's a member of the family. That he's a *Wayne*, now and forever, and never mind *everything* the rest of the world has to say about that, because, in the end --

The Waynes are the people who make the rules.

So, yeah, *part* of wanting to look good today -- his first *day* home from blowing absolutely *all* of his exams out of the water, thank you very much -- is all about wanting to show Martha and Thomas that he is, in fact, still worth it.

It's just that...

It's just that Wayne Manor is a freaky, huge, dark, *old* house full of shadows and memories and *ghosts* -- and Harvey's pretty damned sure that at least some of those ghosts didn't go quietly, even if *Lester* Dent's shade couldn't find his way out to Bristol with a map and a compass.

Harvey licks his lips and checks his -- gorgeous -- watch.

Thomas had given it to him when he'd graduated from Exeter last year -- to go along with his three *other* hideously expensive and perfect watches, and, oh yeah, the chocolate-brown Accompli Spider with cream interiors. Like maybe there'd been something *wrong* with his two-year-old deep-green Lexedes?


At *all*?

Harvey laughs to himself. *Bruce* is the smart one -- always. He'd been careful to let his -- *their* -- parents know that he *definitely* didn't want a new car ahead of time, so *he* doesn't have to feel guilty about a perfectly good piece of rolling iron *languishing* in the garage --

The garage that's big enough to hold a family *reunion* in --

Harvey sighs and lets himself pace around the library a little, trying to enjoy how spacious -- *airy* -- and beautiful the place is, even aside from the sheer volume of *good* books. It's a great freaking library, full stop. It's --

He's not really enjoying it too much. It's not like the Waynes to be late for anything -- and, technically, they're not. It's just that it *is* like them to be early for *everything*, and they're rapidly running out of time to make that work.

Their graduation gifts from Martha were more personal. *Every* gift from Martha over the years has been personal.

To congratulate them for being co-valedictorians -- and Harvey never, *ever* wants to know what Lex had to put up with from his ever-so-suspiciously-and-*recently* late father for coming up *salutatorian* -- Martha had presented them with first-class tickets to Greece, penthouse reservations at the King George Palace hotel, and the reminder --

*So* unnecessary --

That it was *exactly* where she and Thomas had spent their honeymoon way back in fifty-eight.

And she had smiled. Specifically, *that* smile. The one that tends to make Harvey a little queasy *while* Bruce blushes -- and while Thomas looks *studiously* at Something Else.

They've known from the jump about him and Bruce. They --

One day -- and he means this -- he's actually gonna talk about that with Bruce. They talk about every-freaking-thing *else*, really, and --


A part of Harvey *needs* to know *how* fucked-up it is, how much it *hurts* him --

("Harv -- oh, *Harv* --")

How much -- how much he wants to change it --

("I *need* you!")

Harvey covers his face with his hands. Just for a moment. Just --

He just needs a *minute* --

But then the air or the light or the *vibe* changes, and Harvey knows he's *exactly* too late to move his hands --

Because that's a *small* hand resting between his shoulder blades, and there are rings on those clever little fingers --

"Harvey...? What's wrong?"

Martha Wayne's voice is --

Smooth. Cool. *Sleek*.

Vodka straight from the freezer -- and not the rotgut kind, either. It's not that she *never* has emotion in her voice -- right now she's got that *mild* concern going on. It's just that --

It's just that he'd returned to Exeter for the second semester of his freshman year in January nineteen-seventy-five with a whole lot of bruises he couldn't explain to anyone *but* his brand new best friend, who just didn't *understand* it when Harvey pushed him away or shut him down --

Who *hurt* when Harvey did that.

And who wrote to his parents twice a week *every* week.

And -- and it maybe would've been nice to know *this* -- who told them *every* goddamned thing. Every --

Lester Dent was dead before they'd *half* cracked the spines on their brand-new textbooks.

Harvey was a Wayne -- not before he could blink. But *well* before he could *think*. Because, see, it's *not* that he'd thought his useless old man had a long life ahead of him or anything like that. It's just that he was thinking -- a bullet in the head.

An ass-kicking that went too far.

A drunken freaking *fall*.

Something -- something *normal*.

*Not* a sudden and apparently hideously painful series of *massive* internal hemorrhages that left his old man looking like a hot water bottle full of blood. Full --

He'd *burst* on the autopsy table --

And the orderly who'd told him that had spent the next twenty minutes apologizing and begging Harvey to let him get him *drunk* --

("Jesus, kid, you *gotta* hurry up and forget this shit *fast*.")

Harvey doesn't get drunk. Ever.

Harvey doesn't forget anything, either. And Incredible Exploding Fathers make a lot more fucking sense when you find out that your Brand New Mom is banging an immortal sorcerer -- and has been for a good, long while. He --

There'd been a moment -- long and *queasy* -- when he'd looked at Bruce's big, shining eyes --

When he'd thought about how Bruce's happiness at the prospect of living with Harvey year-round was thick enough to *taste* --

When he'd wondered about Bruce and what he'd known and when he'd *known* it and what --

What he was *capable* of -- 

("Harv...? Are you all -- oh, what a foolish question. I'm sorry. Would you... would you like to talk? Or... we could...")

And Bruce had smiled ruefully, dropping his big, perfect hands to his sides.

("I'm afraid I'm not any good at this, at all, Harv. It seems wrong to ask you to teach me how to do this, as well, but... please?")

The moment passed. Just --

Bruce is *Bruce*. He *says* he wants to be a vigilante when it's all said and done, says it's the *only* thing he wants and the only thing he's *ever* wanted -- and, considering what Bruce has been *doing* for the past year, Harvey even *believes* him. But. The guy makes sugar trails to lead ants out of the house instead of stepping on the damned things, and he'd designed and built cute -- and *humane* -- little mouse hotels when the crazy hoarders next door brought the wrong kind of wildlife to Bristol.

Bruce could *never* --


But Martha sure as *hell* could.

And Harvey really is still just standing here *looking* like he knows he's in the room with a murderer.

Can't have that.

Harvey pulls a smile onto his face -- rueful, not too bright, a little tired -- and turns around to face her, not incidentally stepping back enough to get that perfect little hand off his body. "Sorry, Mom, just -- tired."

She raises an eyebrow at him like she knows *exactly* how much shit he's full of -- but then she lowers it and nods, glancing around the library with that faintly critical expression that usually means she's going to add something *else* beautiful and perfect to the room.

Last time it was the new upholstery on the window seats. The time before --

She's looking at him again. Christ. "What's up?"

Her amusement is as palpable as it ever is, the sense that she's just --

Just --

One day, Mom, Harvey doesn't say, I'm gonna ask you *why* you like having me around so much. And you're gonna be so honest with me that I'll wanna run screaming. And --

And we both know that I won't go anywhere, at all.

She hums. "Your father and Bruce are still in the solarium... but I'm not supposed to tell you what they're up to," she says, and her smile turns wry and confiding. *Inviting*.

Harvey knows how this goes. He crosses his arms over his chest and raises both of his own eyebrows. "Yeah, hunh? You know secrets are just *poison* for a family, Mom."

Another hum, a little bit of *sparkle* in those grey-blue eyes -- "So I've always been told. Still," she says, and strokes a slow line over the back of the chaise Harvey's voted most likely to wind up broken in half *one* of the times he fucks Bruce on it --


She grins and *taps* the back of the chaise. "They swore me to secrecy, Harvey. You know how seriously I take that sort of thing."

Are you a sorceress, too, Mom?

Did you grin like that when you were planning it all out with Jason freaking Blood?

What happens if I ever make Bruce cry?

"Heh. Oh, I know, all right," Harvey says, and stalks a little closer. "You're a regular little Vestal Virgin --"

Martha coughs, long hair swinging just as free as always and hiding her face for a moment. The late afternoon sunlight makes the few dramatic -- and just a *little* enhanced -- streaks of white look blonde and a little wild.

When she looks up she looks even wilder, even --

Crazier? Is that what it is?

It's a question Harvey has asked himself a *lot* over the years -- it would make some things a whole hell of a lot easier to *take* --


It would also be underestimating her by a long freaking road. Crazy people, as a rule, don't run *quite* as much of the world as the Waynes do, after all. Not that kind of crazy. Not --




Damn, he's losing a little of his cool. Can't have that, either. "Sorry --"

"You *are* tired," she says, and *arranges* herself on the chaise, peridot sheath dress clinging just a little where it counts and nowhere else.

Classy, like. Harvey shrugs and goes to sit on the table nearest to her, stretching out his legs a little. "I probably should've waited an extra day after exams before coming home, but --"

"You missed us...?"

("Harv... every day without your scent is an *ache* in me..."

"Ah, big guy --"

"You don't -- you don't feel --"

"Of course I -- God, just come *here* --")

Harvey does *not* lick his lips. "You could say that."

Martha hums again, and this is more of a *glitter* than a sparkle. "Bruce has a surprise for you --"

"Then don't tell me," Harvey says, and bites back a wince -- that was a little too sharp. "Sorry --"

She waves a hand. "I wouldn't dream of coming between you, of course. Brotherhood is... so very important."

Last summer, Bruce taught him a few tricks about how to avoid sweating when you're anxious. Harvey's nowhere near as *good* at it as Bruce is -- but. He's got it down enough for this. "You never had a sibling of your own, Mom --"

"Very true --"

"You don't know... you don't know what it means. You can't know," Harvey says, and lets his voice be low and serious and *honest*.

Martha catches her breath a little --

Looks *into* him --

And Harvey looks right back. Just --

You're not the only one in this freaking mausoleum who can brazen things out, *Mom* --

But he's the one catching his breath when she inclines her head. When she -- concedes the point.

Of all the things Harvey had planned to do today, winning a not-argument with his adoptive mother was *not* on the freaking list. He breathes.

Just -- breathes.

"I meant it, you know," she says, and her voice is still sleek and smooth, but it's just a little too low to be cool. "I *wouldn't* come between you." And -- she's still looking down.

Harvey's dead sure that shouldn't make her more trustworthy -- but it's not like he *hasn't* seen her lie with a straight face about a million and a half times over the past five years. So -- go with it. "No?"

"No," and Harvey can see the edge of a smile that actually looks *soft* -- until it doesn't. "Your father wanted Bruce and the... Drake boy to be significantly closer than they are --"

"Uh. I mean -- yeah?" And Harvey does his own coughing.

Martha's laugh is musical, bright -- the kind of thing that makes everyone at a cocktail party stop yammering and pay attention.

Harvey's seen it happen dozens of times now --

"I see you understand the problems inherent in that particular... desire."

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with the little guy." Except for how he couldn't be more obviously Thomas' *bastard* without growing a mustache and graduating from med school, and Bruce is as likely to forgive the kid for that as he is to forgive Thomas for letting it *happen*.


Well, either immortal sorcerers shoot blanks or they're a lot more freaking careful than doctor-CEOs.

And Martha is looking at him again. *Shrewdly*.

Harvey raises his eyebrows. "*I* like the kid."

"And that's why you invite him over so often...?"

That -- Harvey blinks. "Uh -- *he's* not my brother." Not the one I can admit to *here* --

Even though that's not freaking *right* --

"And your brother -- and your brother's *feelings* -- are very important to you. Yes, I know," she says, and turns to look toward the tall, curved windows.

Alfred, Harvey knows, gets up at four in the morning on window-cleaning day, drags in a two-story ladder, and takes care of business while the rest of the family is sleeping the sleep of the entitled. It's not that Thomas and Martha *haven't* offered to hire him more staff, it's that Alfred is stone freaking crazy.

Or --

Harvey guesses it could just be a British thing.

Maybe Martha will send him and Bruce to *London* to screw themselves silly this summer --

"I have nothing against the boy."

Translation: She wants something *from* the kid. Maybe. "No...? It'd be understandable --"

She waves that off like the bourgeois nattering it is, but --

"Seriously, Mom --"

"Did you think I felt he could ever be some kind of threat to Bruce's position?"


Another musical laugh. This one is a little like bells, really. "Harvey. Thomas will never, ever acknowledge the boy. You can be *absolutely* certain of that."

*She* sure is... and Harvey knows damned well that Tim is, too. "Heh. Got it," Harvey says, and rolls his head on his neck a little to kill some of the tension. "The kid's... thirteen now?"

"He'll be fourteen --"

"On July eleventh. Yeah, I remember. I planned to take him out for a game or something. Probably 'or something,' since he doesn't really go for that kinda thing --"

"You know him that well...?" And there's just a little hesitancy in her voice. A little... something.

Harvey frowns. "He's got about as many bosom buddies as Bruce did before we met. As *I* did --"

"You... pity him?"

"I -- no. It's not --" Harvey frowns a little harder and catches himself trying to stare through the back of Martha's head. "He's an interesting little guy. Sharp. Smart. Witty, like." Kind of like what would happen if Bruce were more like you, only not horrifying.


*Mostly* --

And Martha steeples her fingers. Harvey can see the edge of an *ugly* little frown, and it's the kind that makes Harvey want to get the hell *gone*, but --

"Hey, what's that about?"

"Janet's pregnant again."

"Whoa -- uh. Uh. And -- uh. You're sure --"

"I'm sure, all right," Martha says, and finally turns back to face him. The frown on her face isn't all that ugly anymore -- ugly never *lasts* on Martha Kane Wayne -- but it's still pretty freaking scary. "She does, in fact, allow Jack Drake into her... bedroom. But that wouldn't be the case if he hadn't had a vasectomy the week before the wedding."

Harvey winces, but -- "Those things -- they're not always permanent --"

Martha's laugh is half a purr. "Look who's been studying obscure medical trivia with his brother. Yes, Harvey, I'm *fully* aware of that little tidbit. And I am *also* fully aware of the fact that Janet drags Jack to his urologist by the *scruff* to have the *status* of his vasectomy *confirmed* *every* three months."

All right, now he's not wincing so much as he's *grimacing*. And clutching at his *belly*. Just -- "And Dad knows?"

A *sour* look -- "He's in scientist mode."

Translation -- he knows damned well that his married freaking mistress is pregnant with his child, but he's going to exhaust *every* other possibility *first*. Just --

There's a voice in Harvey's head right now. It's a loud voice. It's a clear voice. It's a *strident* voice.

And it's telling him not to ask the question bubbling up at the back of his throat.

It's telling him to do everything in his freaking *power* not to ask that question.

It's telling him -- "Why do *you* know? I mean -- don't tell me," Harvey finishes, but it's just as weak as the drinks Alfred mixes for him on the holidays and -- "Ah, Christ, Mom, just tell me you didn't bring Blood a vial of her pee or something."

Martha *snorts* -- and sparkles at him again. It makes her look twenty years younger and less frightening than *wicked*, naughty, fun --

And sometimes, when Harvey is *just* on the edge of sleeping, his mind offers all *sorts* of suggestions about the *sounds* those autopsy doctors had heard when his old man had --


So Harvey just shows his teeth a little and waggles his eyebrows. "Liked that, hunh? I got a million of 'em."

Martha crosses her legs at the ankle and sighs with luxurious pleasure. "So you do, and may you *always*, darling. And yes, I managed to restrain myself -- once again -- from stealing Janet's urine for nefarious purposes. I did, however, slip a champagne flute she'd been drinking out of into my purse, and, well, Jason did the rest. She's in her ninth week."

"Jesus, that far along? What the hell is she -- she's planning to have the baby."

Martha spreads her hands. "I can't say for sure... but, well. It isn't as though Drake Industries couldn't use the insurance."

Harvey frowns. "That's --"

"Disgusting, yes. As are many, many other things. I can't judge her --"

"Meaning you'd maybe lay Bruce out on some altar if you thought it would get you something *you* wanted?"

For a moment, she looks like nothing but a freaking *snake* -- but.

"Yeah, like that, Mom. It's not the same," Harvey says, and lets his voice be as hard as it wants to be.

For a moment, she keeps looking *exactly* like someone who could take someone out the *hard* way -- and then she laughs, musical and *low*, and shakes her head. "You judge Janet more harshly than you judge me. That... it's not often that I'm honestly surprised, Harvey."

His old man had probably *sloshed* on the way to the medical examiner's office --

His old *man*... wasn't an innocent kid.

Harvey rolls his head on his neck again. "You know where I stand."

A *shrewd* look -- "Yes, I suppose I do. I... I don't ask Bruce for very much..."

Harvey raises his eyebrows. "You don't ask *me* for much, either. What's up?"

The shrewd look gets hard again -- "Your father cares for Janet deeply, in his way. It's become abundantly clear to me that he always will -- no matter *what* she does... or doesn't do. *He* has been kind enough to... Timothy, but we both know how far that *won't* go, yes...?"

"Yeah, I do." Harvey frowns again. "You want... no, I got nothing. What is it, Mom?"

Martha curls her nails against the arm of the chaise and claws at it... "Jason tells me that Bruce's life will be in terrible danger -- *soon* -- without Timothy at his side, Harvey."

Harvey rears back. "What the -- *how*?"

Martha frowns and shakes her head, and all the years are *right* back on her face. "He couldn't tell me any more. He -- and I know it wasn't one of his little games. *He* likes Bruce too much to risk him."

As far as Harvey is concerned, Martha could have just said 'he likes Bruce too much.' The guy gives bitchy old queens a bad name. The guy gives nasty old *perverts* a bad name. But -- "Nothing more specific about this danger? At *all*?"

"Nothing. But he was clear that Bruce needed Timothy. And... and were I to ask Bruce to let the boy into his life --"

"You'd just be reminding Bruce of all the things he doesn't like to think about too much, yeah, I know," Harvey says, and scratches a little at his jaw. "But you think I can get him to open up to the kid. Let him in."

A brittle smile. "At this point... at this point, it's more of a fervent hope. Thomas will be punishing Janet for her manipulation by pulling away from her in various *subtle* ways. Janet will respond by denying him access to Timothy -- but Timothy is old enough, now, to make at least some of his own decisions," she says, and then looks up at him with wide, searching eyes. "Isn't he?"

"I -- yeah. And -- this is serious?"

"As the proverbial heart attack. Please, Harvey. Do what you can."

"I don't know anything *about* magic --"

"*Please* --"

"I'll do it," he says, and raises his hands, pushing at the air a little. "Of course I'll do it. Anything for Bruce. And it's not like it wouldn't do Bruce good to let go of his grudge against Tim. It'd be good for *both* of them."

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. "Thank you," she says, and stands, smoothing her dress unnecessarily over her hips. "I'm going to convince Thomas to leave Bruce to you, now. He should be joining you momentarily. Please -- work quickly."

Harvey frowns and nods. "I -- it'll be okay."

She raises an eyebrow at him... and lets his weak little platitude just kind of *sit* there as she walks out the door. Right. Fine. Okay.

What kind of danger? What the hell --

Well, no, what would Blood get out of *lying*? Martha hadn't said anything about Bruce needing to *do* anything with the little guy -- just keep him close. Somehow, Harvey's pretty damned sure that thousand-year-old sorcerers need more than *innocent* brotherly love to get off. And --

Well, yeah, *Bruce* gets off like crazy on calling him 'brother' when they're making love --

Bruce is maybe a little too *attached* to the whole incest *thing* --

But it's not like they're related by *blood* or anything. Tim may look like Janet freaking *budded* him out -- except for how he has Thomas' black hair -- but he's damned well Bruce's little brother.

Emphasis on the little.

Bruce doesn't even *go* for --

Well, Bruce doesn't really go for much of *anyone*, other than Harvey and people who look 'interesting' enough to sketch. Back when they were fourteen, Harvey had tried about six different times to get Bruce to tell him what his *type* was --

("But... why would anyone want to limit that sort of thing, Harv?"

"Uh. It's not... it's not really about *want*, big guy."

"No? Then... I don't think I understand.")

So Harvey had *tried* to explain it --

("It's only... it seems so rare that people *can* find other people with whom they can share their interests and... and *emotions*. These limitations seem so *frightening*.")

And tried *again* --

("But.. the world is *full* of beauty, Harv. And... and on the other side of things, I've noticed that many of the people who are considered to be particularly aesthetically pleasing *physically* are truly *terrible* in terms of their personalities --"

"Yeah, but --"

"It seems far more sensible to come to *know* a person before deciding whether or not one wishes to consider them your 'type'."

"You -- decide -- uh.")

He'd given up. He'd --

The *fact* is, Bruce had grown up one lonely weirdo of an intellectual in a world that *really* didn't welcome that kinda thing at all. The other kids wanted to talk about their toys, their TV shows, their sports, their vacations, their parties -- all that jazz. *Bruce* wanted to talk about bizarre medical facts and nineteenth-century literature -- and, oh yeah, art and history and politics and ethics and philosophy and beauty, *always* beauty.


What does the little guy like to talk about? He *always* lets Harvey lead the conversations, so they've spent a lot of damned time talking about baseball and girls. Getting him to open up isn't *impossible*, but...


He's been working on building some kinda *computer* in his *bedroom* of all things for the last couple-few years, so there's that. He *reads* --

What does he read?

Harvey reconstructs Tim's bedroom in his mind, filling in the thick, cream-colored carpeting that only sadists and idiots put in teenagers' bedrooms, the big, old-fashioned desk, the two utilitarian work tables covered with wires and weird chips and plastic crap -- bookshelves.

Bookshelves full of...

Medical stuff. Just like Dad, right. But also some... science fiction? Fantasy? Yeah, Harvey's pretty sure he remembers seeing some of that. He tries to convince himself he saw one of the Brontes or some Shakespeare, too --

Yeah, no dice.

He blows out a breath.

Maybe he can get Bruce to read some Tolkien or something. Pretty interesting stuff, there, though no way will *Bruce* be able to ignore all that racism. He might find the Christianity stuff interesting, though. Had Tim?

God, is he really trying to get a freaking Wayne/pseudo-Wayne/sorta-Wayne *book* club started up?


Like maybe Tim's gonna save Bruce's life by holding a big ol' copy of Grey's in front of his chest?

How *is* Tim gonna save Bruce's life? The kid is *tiny* -- just like his mother. *Harvey* has gotta be a foot taller than him, and he was skinny as a *rail* the last time Harvey had seen him... last year. Bruce is even bigger than *that* -- though. Maybe those Wayne genes kicked in?


Harvey covers half of his face with one hand and laughs, and lets himself keep laughing when the world gets that kind of heavy --

The *right* kind of heavy --

"Harv..." And the pleased *wonder* in Bruce's voice --

Like maybe Harvey did something better than just freaking *dressing* himself this morning --

Bruce sighs and stops -- yeah, it *will* be about three paces away.

Harvey drops his hand, looks up, and grins at his brother --

His best friend --

The most beautiful man --

Inside and *out*, and -- "Jesus, big guy, didja get *bigger*?"

"Yes," Bruce says, and just keeps staring and smiling at him. He's not blinking even a *little*, and he's wearing one of the pale linen suits that Martha keeps picking out for him -- like maybe one day he'll be casual enough to look *right* in 'em, instead of just gorgeous.

And maybe Harvey's doing his own grinning. "Ah, c'mere," he says, pushing up onto his feet and opening his arms --

And *then* he notices the big map case in Bruce's right hand -- Bruce sets it down on the table Harvey was sitting on, pulls Harvey into his arms, buries his nose against Harvey's *throat* --

Like that *doesn't* make Harvey shiver *every* damned time -- "Bruce --"

"I've needed you. Badly."

God, just -- right out there.

*Always* right out there, because Wayne Manor is *just* that big, and the two of them... might as well be alone. Harvey shivers again and lets his hands spasm on Bruce's waist --


"Yeah," Harvey says, and turns his head enough to nuzzle Bruce's cheek a little, press the bridge of his nose against Bruce's cheekbone the way that always makes Bruce --

Bruce *pants* -- "I have things to show you."

"Yeah, Mom said --"

"I need you too much. Too --" Bruce groans and pulls back *only* enough to kiss him, kiss him *hard* --

Kiss right there in the light, in the library --

Harvey can still smell Martha's *perfume* --

But mostly he can smell Bruce, smell that *dark* musk they'd picked up for him in that weird little market in Athens, and underneath it smell *him*, big and heavy and clean and male and *big*, and *yeah*, big is a scent --

Big is a *taste*, too, and Harvey wants it in his mouth, in his throat --

Bruce is *licking* Harvey's mouth as much as he's kissing it, but this is S.O.P. for every time they've been apart from each other for a while. This --

("I need. I need to taste something other than your *absence*, Harv!")

Harvey needs other things, like the feel of that *perfect* ass in his hands, so muscular and *hard*--

God, how much *has* he been working out?

Bruce groans and *shoves* his tongue in Harvey's mouth, backs Harvey up until he's bumping the table again --

And the last time had been two months ago, a weekend in the New Haven Chilton with just a *little* time on the town being brothers, *normal* brothers who dance with girls and get their pictures taken --

And the rest of the time in Bruce's hotel room, because Harvey hadn't been *able* to get up off his knees --

("*Harv* --"


And then hadn't been able to get up off his *hands* and knees --

("So beautiful, so -- *brother* --")

And he'd needed it just like this, just like --

Harvey turns out of the kiss to groan --

Bruce *thrusts* against him, grips Harvey's hair with one hand and his *dick* with the *other* --

"God, *please* --"

"Yes, *please*, Harv!" And that voice --

Harvey licks his lips and tries to think, tries to just --

Bruce sounds *too* desperate. Too... "Big guy, are you *okay*?"

Bruce shudders -- hard and all *over*, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment -- and when he opens them his eyes are *bleak*.

"Hey, hey, what's wrong?" And Harvey stands straight again, cups Bruce's *face*, kisses him *lightly*. "C'mon, tell me."

"I -- it's not. It's unbecoming."

And sometimes -- just sometimes -- he thinks he could hate Martha *just* for the fact that she read Bruce Jane freaking Austen for his bedtime stories. But now isn't the time for that. "Hey, none of that, we're *brothers*. You tell me *everything*."

A *wounded* look --

He squeezes his eyes *shut* --

"Bruce, brother, c'mon --"

"He is --" Bruce sets his jaw, takes a deep breath, and opens his eyes again. "Father... Father believes that... Janet Drake... has conceived again."

"He *told* you?"

Bruce blinks. "He told *you*?"

"Uh -- no. Mom did --"

"*She* knows? Oh -- I have to *talk* to her --"

Harvey grips Bruce's great, big, wonderful shoulders. Hard. "Not right now, okay? She... uh. I'm pretty sure she needs more time to... think about that," Harvey says, and tries not to think of the *incredulous* look that'll be on Martha's face when Bruce tries to comfort her. Just -- no. "But... it's okay --"

"It *isn't*, Harv! It -- it's *incorrect*."

And this... this is a conversation they've been having from the *beginning* -- almost. Bruce hadn't *wanted* to tell Harvey about the fact that his parents' marriage was pretty much a sham -- he hadn't wanted *anyone* to know that -- but he'd damned well felt *honor*-bound to make sure Harvey knew all about it once the word 'adoption' started getting thrown around.

The first time Harvey heard the name 'Timothy Drake'... was the first time he'd seen Bruce cry.

Just -- hell.

So -- he can think about this a little, and he can lead them over to the *couch* that Martha had put in here for *him* --

The couch they pretty much never *make* it to because it's back in the *stacks*, a little -- but they're here now, and Bruce is making the couch look like a damned love seat and feel like --

Something much bigger. Too big. Harvey knows what he needs -- and what *he* needs, too. He gets his shoes off and pushes back against the arm of the couch, throwing his leg up and hauling on Bruce until his back is against Harvey's chest.

"You're too stiff, big guy --"

"I shouldn't -- this isn't what you *want* of me --"

"I *want* everything *about* you, Bruce. *Remember* that --" And then Harvey's grunting, which wasn't the plan, but it's something that *happens* when Bruce uses those big, hairy hands on his thighs like --

When Bruce *grips* his thighs --

"Big guy..."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I want -- too many things," Bruce says, and even with him turned away, Harvey can see how *thunderous* that frown is, how freaking *poisonous* --

"It's *okay* --"

"*Nothing* --" The frown gets worse, and then smoothes out in the *exact* wrong way. "I'm sorry. I will... control myself."

"Ah, Jesus, big guy, not that. *Never* that. Not with *me*," and Harvey wraps his arms around Bruce's chest and squeezes him, holds him --

A part of him is only trying to estimate how *much* more new muscle Bruce has put on in the past couple of months --

He really must have been working out like *crazy* --

And now is *not* the time to molest his brother. *Soon*, *please*, but not now. Harvey kisses Bruce's ear to make him shiver. "You know I never want your control, yeah?"

"But --"

"Never. Not ever."

Bruce covers Harvey's hands on his chest, slow and *shaky* --

Harvey *fights* back the urge to beg him to put those hands back on his thighs where they belong --

Maybe higher --

*Definitely* higher --

No, thinking, definitely -- he can do that. "Talk to me, big guy."

"You don't..." Another frown. "You've never been as... offended by Father's behavior as I am."

"Well... true --"

"I'd like. I'd like to understand that. He won't. He did not *say* that the child was his, but he did not have to. He..." And Bruce just -- stops there.

And Harvey blinks, because *that* --

"I'd like to understand," Bruce says again, and squeezes Harvey's hands.

Harvey holds Bruce a little tighter. "I don't wanna make it worse, big guy --"

And Bruce laughs, sharp and bleak at once. "Perhaps you can understand why I doubt your ability to do so."

"I understand why you *think* that I can't -- ah, Bruce, it's like this: *Lots* of husbands cheat on their wives, and lots of wives cheat on their husbands --"

"Mother -- Mother never took *up* with Jason Blood until *after* Father began his affair --"

"Okay, okay, I know, I hear you, but -- gimme a sec, okay?"

Bruce frowns again, but nods.

"Or -- we could skip --"

"No, Harv. Please."

Harvey closes his eyes for a moment, counts to five, squeezes Bruce *hard* -- and kisses the back of his neck even harder. "I love you more than anything or anyone else in this world, big guy --"

"I feel the same --"

"I know it, and that makes me so happy -- anyway. Anyway. I'm just gonna say all this, okay? And you have to promise me that you'll remember that I'm not getting on you, or -- or saying *anything* about how you should *feel*, okay?"

Bruce nods. "You would never do anything of the kind. I know that, Harv," Bruce says, and there's just a little *scold* in his voice --

"Good enough. *Most* people? When they cheat on their spouses? They keep it a *secret*. A *dirty* secret, even. Meaning they make their spouses doubt, and suspect, and fear, and all that crap. They keep the other person on the *hook*, you know? They let them believe that everything is *okay*."

"Oh -- but..." Bruce frowns again. "I did know that."

"You just didn't really put it in perspective before, yeah?"

"I... please keep going."

"Okay, anything you say, big guy," Harvey says, and kisses the back of Bruce's neck again. "I know this might shock you a little, but... Mom isn't exactly... uh."

"What is it, Harv?"

*Mom* is crazy and a murderer and evil and also she wouldn't be faithful to Thomas freaking Wayne if he ejaculated chocolate and laughing gas -- okay, maybe not. New tack. "It's nothing, big guy. Nothing *big*, anyway. It's just that Mom and Dad went into this -- *all* of this -- with their eyes wide open. I don't think they *would've* married each other if they really had a choice about it --"

"Oh -- no --"

"Just listen for a minute, okay? Please?"

Bruce inhales sharply. "Yes, Harv. Don't -- don't let me stop you."

God, Bruce... Harvey hugs him even harder. "They're just. They're just different people, big guy. It's not. It's nothing on *either* of them. Dad likes science, Mom likes art. Dad likes business, Mom likes literature. Dad likes quiet nights at home, Mom likes parties." Dad likes ice queens, Mom likes... other queens -- no. No. "Uh... do you know what I'm saying?"

"It's... it's a *cliché*, Harv. You -- you *know* --"

"Yeah, I do. 'Opposites attract.' It's just... it's only true for *some* people, okay?"

Bruce looks that *sad* kind of hard, and Harvey knows in his *bones* that it's the same damned look that's been *behind* every *other* look on his face since Tim was born. Just --

Right. "Bruce..."

"I understand."

"Do you?"

And there's -- something like a shiver. Something like the *beginnings* of a break, because --

"There's no shame in it, you know. There isn't a single kid in this world who *doesn't* want their parents to love each other as much as he or she loves *them*."

"Somehow... somehow they manage to *accept* -- no. Please keep going, Harv. I know... I know it will *take* this time."

So does he, and -- he hates it. "Sometimes. Sometimes it's okay to be innocent, big guy --"

"And sometimes it is not. Please."

Harvey blows out a breath. "Okay, here goes: Mom and Dad are doing this as close to right as pretty much anyone can. They're honest with each other *and* with us; there are no huge, screaming fights where everybody rips each other to shreds; and nobody --  gets ignored." Harvey frowns --


"It's nothing --"

"You hesitated."

Harvey closes his eyes and just -- lets himself think a little about his last day in Gotham *last* summer before he'd headed up to New Haven.

Specifically, in a certain townhouse he had no real business in.

*Specifically* --

("I... have a question for you."

"Yeah, little guy? I just might have a couple-few answers for ya.")

And Harvey had grinned and sat back in the almost grotesquely oversized -- for Tim -- dark and painfully *classy* wingback chair in Tim's bedroom, crossing his legs and waggling his eyebrows and not thinking about Bruce --

Not thinking about what Bruce would say about him being *here* --

*Again* --

Not thinking about any of that, no sirree, because Tim had that frown on his face that made Harvey wonder why *anyone* believed the kid *wasn't* a Wayne. Something about all that Scottish highland blood just makes a kid -- or a grown-ass man -- look like he's carrying around all the storms in the *world*.

Or maybe that was just his eyes.

("Seriously, kiddo --"

"Why -- why are you here?")

And Harvey had blinked --

*Thought* about saying something flip and meaningless --

But then Tim had looked right *into* him, and there *wasn't* a plea in his eyes -- not then -- but Harvey knew in his bones that that had more to do with the fact that Tim Drake's pleas never got answered than with anything else. So.

("No b.s.?"


"You're my other brother, Tim. And I -- that means something to me.")

A blink -

*Narrowed* eyes --

("Thomas Wayne will never acknowledge me -- publicly *or* privately."

"Yeah, I know, little guy. But *that* doesn't mean crap to me. Okay?")

It had been -- a good day. Not perfect. Not *easy*. But who ever said family was *supposed* to be --

"Harv... please tell me."

"I..." Harvey gives Bruce's shoulder a little push. Just enough to get him to turn around and kneel facing him. "Do I really have to, big guy?"

When Bruce narrows his eyes, he looks more like Martha than anyone else --

But then, so does Tim. "You know what I'm saying."

"I know you... approve of the... boy --"

"Your brother."

"*You're* my brother, Harv. My *only* --"

Harvey holds up a hand --

And Bruce flares his nostrils and shakes his head once. "Not this, Harv. Please."

Harvey winces. "You're gonna make me force the issue, big guy? After all this time? He's just a *kid*."

"If he were only that to you, then you would not --"

"You're right. You're absolutely right. He's *our* brother, because even though it's somehow not *correct* for Dad to actually acknowledge his *other* kids --"

Bruce growls and balls his hands into fists, turning his head and glaring -- at the floor.

"Damn, I -- I'm not doing this right. I just wanted you to feel better --"


"Bruce --"

"You. You feel *I* have been incorrect."

God, and in Bruce-speak... that's pretty much accusing him of the worst of the worst. But. "The part of me that's always been in love with you wants to deny that, big guy."

"And the rest of you?"

You're still not *looking* at me -- Harvey shakes his head. "The parts of me *you* love the most are all *about* me pushing this. Right now."

Bruce's glare gets *hotter*, but his voice is perfectly even when he says, "you haven't before."

"No, I haven't --"

"Why not."

"Because I didn't want to hurt you --"


Ah... fuck. Harvey squeezes his eyes shut -- but only for a moment. "You don't want me to say it, Bruce."

Bruce nods slowly. At the *floor*. "Please tell me anyway."

Harvey takes a shaky breath and -- "I need -- I need to feel you --"


"Yeah. Yeah, okay. It wasn't my place. That's -- that's it, big guy."

Bruce makes a *sound*, low and *hurt* -- and the look on his face when he finally turns to *stare* at Harvey is just --

"I know -- I know what you're gonna say --"

"*Brother* --"

"I *know* --"

"You can't -- you *must* --"

"Bruce --"

And then he just *is* in Bruce's arms, feeling like a *small* ragdoll as Bruce squeezes about half the *life* out of him, as Bruce holds him and strokes him and -- "I *need* you --"

"I need *you*, Bruce --"

"You promised -- you promised you'd be my brother *forever* --"

"I *will*. Just -- always --"

And then Bruce pulls back enough to glare into Harvey's eyes. "Then how can anything not be your *place*?"

Harvey winces. "Ah, God, big guy, I just --" He shakes his head. "You had fourteen years *without* me, okay? And for *nine* of those years --"

"I." Bruce swallows hard. "For nine of those years... I denied the brother of my blood. And then continued to -- Harv... Harv, I have... I don't know what to do."

Harvey bites his lip for a second and nods. "We gotta... we just gotta do better, is all."

Bruce's laugh isn't *completely* without humor -- but.

"Yeah, okay, that wasn't exactly the most useful thing I've ever -- I *promise* he's a good little guy, okay?"

"Is he. Is he very like... his mother?"

Harvey blinks -- but, no, that's actually a good question, because if he'd somehow met Martha *before* meeting Bruce, he probably would've run in the opposite direction when he saw Bruce *coming*. And he really can't say any of that out loud. So. "Not... not that I've been able to see. Just, you know. In looks."

Bruce nods solemnly. "I dislike Janet Drake... a great deal."

No, *really*? "I know, big guy --"

"I mean -- it isn't only because of the... affair."

How long does an affair have to be going on before it's just another relationship -- no, not asking that question, either. "You wanna tell me about it?"

And that's more of a *glower* than anything else --

"Bruce --"

"Don't... don't humor me, please --"

"I'm *not* --"

"Or. Perhaps I mean don't *coddle* me," Bruce says, releasing Harvey and standing, pacing *away* --

"God, don't *do* that when I haven't seen you in forever --"

Bruce freezes and turns back to face him, blinking in *shock*. "I -- stopped touching you."

"Uh... yeah? You really did --"

"Harv. Harv..." Bruce shakes his head and all but tears his tie off, then shrugs off his jacket *while* stepping out of his shoes --

"God, finally, yeah, let's do *this*," Harvey says, standing up to do his own stripping at *speed* --

Unbuttoning his shirt from the bottom because --

Because Bruce loves to shove his big, hard hand up under it, loves to pet and stroke and *scratch* Harvey's abs --

Or maybe just loves the way Harvey always -- *always* -- twitches for it.

Harvey closes his eyes and licks his lips, finishes unbuttoning his shirt and shrugs it off --

"I love your suit --"

"I know you do, big guy --"

"I wore this one -- Mother likes --"

"I know that, too," Harvey says, grinning and working on his fly. It's *possible* that someday there'll be someone *other* than him and Bruce who knows the reason why Harvey never wears belts, but for now Harvey's just gonna be grateful that he can afford the best tailoring there is --

And more grateful than that to have Bruce's *other* big hand in his pants, cupping and squeezing him through his briefs -- "Harv... open your... your beautiful eyes..."

Harvey does just that -- and nearly closes 'em right back up again for that *squeeze* -- "Bruce --"

"I want -- I always want you *near* --"

"So don't let me go when we *can* be together --"

"Never -- *never*," and Bruce drops to his knees --

"Ah -- *damn* --"

"*This*, Harv --"

"I won't -- I won't say no --" Or much of anything at *all* once Bruce yanks Harvey's pants down the rest of the way and starts *nuzzling* Harvey through his briefs, sniffing and kissing and *nibbling* --

Sucking and sniffing *more* --

"God -- God, big guy, I don't know if I wanna shower again or sweat more --"

"*Sweat*," Bruce says, and grips Harvey's *ass* --

And Harvey was *expecting* to make a noise for that, but that was -- he'd cried *out* --

And Bruce is staring up at him hungrily, curiously, *hungrily* --

Harvey licks his lips. "We can -- we can talk later, yeah?"

Bruce nods *slowly*, dragging his *face* against Harvey's dick --

Harvey moans and *shudders* -- "Anything for you, big guy, anything *always* --"

"Then be loud for me," Bruce says, and *then* pulls back just enough to drag down Harvey's briefs, to look Harvey over like a project, a meal, a *possession* --

"Yours -- uh. Loud? *Here*?"

Bruce narrows his eyes and *claws* Harvey's ass --

"God -- hell -- yeah, yeah, okay, not arguing, not arguing at *all*, because --" Because it's not like this house doesn't need people fucking in it who love each other the *right* way --

And he's not saying that out *loud* --

And, thankfully, Bruce doesn't even look like he *wants* to ask before he starts licking Harvey's dick. The head, the shaft --

The head again, and Bruce is making *those* sounds, those panting moans that always mean that he's too hungry to stop for long enough to make a *real* noise, a serious --

Bruce *growls* --

But it's not even *half* over before he's swallowing Harvey --

Before Harvey is gasping and *whining* --

And Bruce is glaring at *him* --

"Can't -- wasn't *ready* for that, big -- big guy --"

Bruce nods *slowly* --

And pulls back even slower than that, scraping his freaking teeth the entire --

Way --

*Harvey* growls and *shoves* his hands into Bruce's hair -- "Gonna be mean to me, brother? Make me feel it?"

Bruce nods, eyes just *burning* --

"And you want me to *yell* for it, yeah? Yell the whole freakin' library -- no. Yell the *house* down."

Bruce nods *again* and pulls Harvey back in *halfway* --

Just *halfway* --

"You -- know how to get it from me. You *know* how."

Bruce narrows his eyes in a smile that's just --

Harvey doesn't even know *how* he's reading it as a smile, considering how narrow and dark and *evil* --

Bruce should never be *able* to look evil --

Except that his eyes get even hotter when he lets go of Harvey's ass with one hand and pushes two fingers into his mouth *slowly* --

Right next to Harvey's *dick* --

Harvey's dick isn't freaking *small* --

"God -- God, big guy --"

Another freaking *nod* --

"Not. Not too wet --"

Bruce growls again --

Stops and pants through his nose --

Sucks hard enough --

"*Unh* -- *Bruce* --"

And his eyes say 'brother,' and 'love you,' and all the other good things -- *best* things. It's just that they also say '*louder*.'

"Yeah. Yeah. *In* me -- oh, *Jesus* --"

And Bruce is so fast, so good, so *good* --

Bruce is already in to the first knuckle with *both* fingers, and it burns, it --

Freaking *aches* --

It's not like he'd slicked himself up before driving *home* --

It's not --

"God -- God, let's get our own place," Harvey blurts, and *then* realizes that his eyes are closed --

He opens them and Bruce looks *stunned*.

Harvey laughs breathlessly --

Clenches and *whimpers* --

"Ah, big guy, I *need* you --"

And Harvey didn't *mean* 'shove your fingers in deeper,' but he also really did --

He *always* means that with Bruce, and how could he forget?

How could he --

"Your fingers are so *good*, so --" And Harvey shoves his own fingers in his mouth --

Bites down and moans and *fucks* his own mouth --

But Bruce is growling again, shaking his head --

Harvey's supposed to be loud. Just -- he pulls his fingers out of his mouth and grips Bruce's hair again, pulls it a little until Bruce is looking him right in the eyes, seeing him and feeling him and *having* him the way he always does --

The way he always *should* --

"Fuck. Me."

Swallowed again --

"Nnh --"

And then those fingers are just --

Just so --

Harvey groans and tries to remember *how* to lock his knees a little, how to stay *upright* even when he's getting the kind of taken --

The kind of *fucked* --

One thrust after another after --

Bruce is *holding* Harvey in his throat, and the late afternoon May sunshine is turning everything gold and fuzzy and beautiful --

And every time Harvey grunts it freaking *echoes* --

And Bruce is giving him that hungry look, that *starved* look like something --

Like *nothing* will be right until Harvey gets his *other* hand in Bruce's hair, too --

Until Harvey opens his stance just like *this* --

Until Harvey starts to *thrust*, in and in and *in*, and now he's growling, too, *begging* and growling, *needing* --

"Opening -- opening me right *up* --"

Bruce nods and *twists* his fingers --

Harvey *shouts* -- and just barely remembers not to bite it back, not to do *anything* but feel it, feel himself losing it a little more, an inch at a time, every last *one* of his inches shoving down Bruce's tight throat --

And sometimes it seems wrong that he's had sex with *anyone* else, that he's ever even let himself touch all the pretty girls who've made themselves available to him ever since he became a Wayne. *Bruce* hasn't -- it was all Harvey could do to get him to make *out* with girls sometimes for their freaking *cover* --

And times like these it feels like Bruce has the right of it, feels like something --

Like *this* should be pure, heavy, right, *theirs* --

"Need you, *need* you -- *UNH* -- oh, Jesus, that *crook* --"

And now Bruce is making him feel it, feel every --

Every freaking --

God, they're bare-ass naked in the *library*, and Harvey's inner fourteen-year-old is cursing and screaming in *none* of the good ways, but he was supposed to therapize that kid away *anyway* --

Harvey laughs and gasps --

Thrusts *harder* --

*Aches* inside and thinks helplessly about what happens next, what --

God, he's fucking his brother's *throat*, and it's not like his dick likes all that many things *better* than that -- but.

Bruce is opening him up --

Bruce is sweating and staring at him *unblinkingly* --

Bruce isn't even *touching* his *own* dick, and -- Harvey can't. He *can't*, because now he's shaking and *molesting* Bruce's head, feeling him up and losing --

He's not even thrusting *half* right anymore --

He pulls out and staggers back, *making* Bruce pull out --

"*Harv* --"

"Fuck me, you gotta --"

Bruce growls -- and there's that speed again, that *crazy* grace that Bruce hadn't needed to play *any* sports in order to get, because he's up and moving both of them, pushing Harvey back and back --

Kissing Harvey so deep, licking into Harvey's mouth and --

Down, down on the couch, and it's good, it's great, because Harvey's pretty sure Bruce is *hairier* than he was two months ago, too --

Bruce pulls back and Harvey arches his head back -- "Please --"

But the word isn't even *out* before Bruce is licking Harvey's throat, mouthing and *biting* --

"Oh, yeah, *yeah* --"

"I *love* you --"

"You -- *nnh* -- ah, *damn*, big guy, not so -- "

"I won't *mark* you there," Bruce says, and he sounds angry, sounds hungry, sounds --

"It felt so *good* to wear you in Greece --"

Another growl --

And Bruce bites him *hard*, *low* on Harvey's throat, and it isn't the best place, but it might as well be, because Bruce's mouth is as big as the rest of him, Bruce's teeth are sharp, Bruce tongue is *slick* and *hot* --

"Need you, big guy, *need* --"

And then he's crying out, arching and *lifting* Bruce --

Bruce is *sucking* his neck, sucking *kisses* --

Harvey feels himself twitch and -- he's not gonna stop anytime soon. Just -- he knows that. He's *close*.

He *was* close, and --

"*Fuck* me. I *know* you brought slick --" And Harvey grunts for the feel of Bruce pulling away --

Not far. He pulls the tube of K-Y out of his pocket, slicks his hand up --

Harvey throws his leg over the back of the couch -- and *grips* himself, because Bruce is staring at him like Harvey's been teasing him, like Harvey's been freaking *torturing* -- "C'mon, big guy, *do* me --"

"I. I *need* --"

"*Anything* --"

"Let." Bruce licks his lips and *stares* at Harvey's dick --

It twitches *hard* for that --

It knows what it *gets* when Bruce does that --

"Bruce --"

"Stroke. Let me. Please *stroke*," he says, and *then* pushes back in with two --

Slick and sleek and easy and *right* --

Harvey groans and squeezes himself again --

"*Please*, Harv --"

"Fuck -- yeah," and Harvey does it, closing his eyes so he can keep a little control, so he can just *feel* --

But that makes him feel hot all over, makes him feel Bruce's *gaze* all over his body, like he's the hottest thing on two legs, the best, the worst *tease* --

"You want it -- like this?"

Bruce groans and *crooks* --

"*Fuck* -- sorry --"

"No, no -- loud. Even your *curses*."

"But --"

"*Father* hates rough language," Bruce says, and there's so much *anger* in that voice --

Harvey can't hold back a *wince* -- "He's not -- he's not a bad --"

"*Enough*," and Bruce crooks and *drags* his fingers --

"Ahn --"

"*Curse* for me, Harv!"

And so Harvey has to open his eyes, has to *stop* stroking for just a second, just long enough that he can *focus* on Bruce's eyes, on the need and anger and hunger and *love* --

So much *love*, like maybe Harvey is the only family that --

That freaking *counts* --

Except that Harvey isn't allowed to tell Bruce that neither of his parents *really* deserve him --

And Harvey isn't *ever* allowed to point out that sometimes he's pretty damned sure *he* doesn't deserve him --

"Harv, *please*!"

Harvey growls and spreads his legs *wider*. "*Fuck* me. Shove your dick in *deep*. Don't -- don't even *bother* to prep me any fuckin' better than this --"

Bruce grunts and *spreads* his fingers --

Harvey feels himself --

*Smells* himself sweating --

"Yeah, yeah, come the fuck *on* --"

"Harv, yes --"

"*Give* it to me, big guy, fuck me so hard -- *unh* --"

And that's still just his fingers, but Jesus, fucking -- no, say it --

"Jesus fucking *Christ*, that's good, that's -- hnh -- hnh -- *hnh* --"

"*More*, Harv!"

"*Fuck* me!"

And Bruce growls and crooks his fingers for every thrust, and Harvey is twitching --

Leaking --

Licking his lips because -- "You're making me fuckin' *drool* for it -- *mm* --"

And this kiss is hard, hard enough to make Harvey's lips swell like Bruce's --

Bruce is *yanking* on Harvey's hair and *crushing* him down against the arm of the couch, shoving and moaning and -- God, trying to crawl right *into* him --

And Harvey just wants Bruce to know that he *can*, that he's *welcome*, that he's the *best* --

*Brother* --

And the best way to do *that* ---

Harvey grips Bruce's ass with his free hand and starts stroking *fast* with his other hand, stroking *hard* and really digging his knuckles in against Bruce's abs --

Bruce grunts and *thrusts* against Harvey's thigh --

Again and *again* --

And they might as well be fourteen, rolling on Bruce's bunk until they fell off onto the ice-cold floor, shivering themselves closer together, begging and pleading and promising and moaning, pushing and *pulling* --

("More --"

"Yes, *more* --"

"Big -- big guy --")

And the first time Bruce came on him, Harvey's mind had just *blanked*, filling with nothing but heat and light and a *wild* feeling that convinced him that *he* was coming, too --

But he didn't. Not until --

("I want. I've *dreamed*, Harv!"

"About -- tell me, *please* --"

"I want. I want to touch... your penis."

"You. You *can* --"

"With my mouth --")

And *then* he'd come on Bruce, grunting and bucking like he'd been *electrocuted* or something --

He remembers every *moment* of that --

The look of crazy-horny *wonder* on Bruce's face --

And the way it just got deeper when Bruce had tasted his come --

When Harvey had swirled their come together and tasted *that* --

And now he's groaning into Bruce's mouth, stroking faster and faster *while* trying to hold on, trying --

God, Bruce is really *doing* his thigh, shuddering all over just like --

Harvey turns out of the kiss -- "C'mon, *in* me --"

"I won't -- I won't *last*," Bruce says, and he sounds *mournful*, but --

"I *know*, big guy, and I want you *in* me when you come, want you to fill me up, want you to *slick* me up --"

Bruce growls and bites Harvey's *lip* --

*Glares* into Harvey's eyes --

And Harvey smiles just as sharp as he can, just as hard and *wet* as he can --

And *this* growl ends with his left thigh pressed to his freaking chest and Bruce pushing, just *pushing* --

And *then* Harvey feels the aftermath of Bruce pulling out way too fucking fast --

But the head is in before Harvey can make a *sound* -- and then the only sound he *can* make is a moan, hungry and desperate and loud, loud like Bruce *wants* --


And he's nodding for it, trying to arch, trying to get it *faster* --

Bruce shoves Harvey's leg up *higher* --

"*Fuck*, Bruce --"

"Tell me -- you must tell me if it's too *much* --"

"Never, *never* too much --"

Bruce groans and *thrusts* --

And there's a hot little fraction of a second when Harvey realizes that he won't be *able* to swallow this scream --

Another when he remembers Bruce doesn't *want* him to --

He lets it out, chokes on it when Bruce grinds, screams *louder* when Bruce knocks Harvey's hand away from his dick and squeezes --

"So -- so fucking *hard* --"

"For *you* --"

"Give it to me, fucking *give* it to me --"

"*Always*, Harv!" And Bruce is *gripping* the back of Harvey's thigh --

Bruce is *staring* down at him --

Bruce is fucking *stripping* his *dick* -- but none of that means a goddamned thing against the feel of *Bruce's* dick filling him up, shoving so deep, so --

God, *every* thrust dragging against his prostate, and the rhythm is fucking *basic*, but it's the best --

It's what *he* likes --

"*Bruce* --"

"*Tell* me!"

"Don't -- *don't* --"

"*Please*, Harv --"

"Can -- can feel you in my *throat* --"

Bruce growls again, *squeezes* again --

"Fuck, hurts so *good* --"

Bruce gasps and thrusts *hard* --

Harvey *screams* again --

Bruce *sobs* -- and then the thrusts are faster, rougher and harder and *faster*, like maybe Bruce has been saving this --

Of *course* he's been saving this, and now Harvey's *laughing* through all the yelling and screaming, tossing his head and groaning --

"Fuck, you always make me feel so *tight* --"

"You *are* --"

Harvey snorts -- "Really *fucking* not, big guy, my guy, come on, come on, *harder* --"

And then the *strokes* get harder --

He's fucking *pulling* on Harvey's dick --

Making --

God, he's so --

Hot all over, sweating and needing, clenching and gasping --

Stomach turning over in the best way, the sweetest --


And he knows that sound, that *voice* --


Bruce is close, Bruce is --


"Gimme -- the head, just the head -- *fuck* --"

And Bruce is rubbing hard circles and pressing, *massaging* --

He's got a fucking *callus* there somehow --

He --

And this clench fills Harvey's head with fucking *stars* --

This clench is just so --

He's so --

Full --

"Harv, *now*!"

And there isn't even a fucking *second* where he can resist that fucking *command*, where he can do anything but throw his head back and *howl* for it, shooting off --

"Oh, *yes* --"

And shooting off *more* when Bruce gets fucking brutal, fucking perfect, fucking --

"My --*brother*!"

Every time, every *time*, and it feels like he's getting wrung out, *worked* dry, because Bruce is hitting his prostate even though he's in the process of freaking *coming* --

Even though he's groaning and staring down at him so hurt, so hungry, so --

Harvey reaches up to cup his beautiful *face* --

And Bruce shudders hard and slumps, thrusting *slowly* a few more times and then just panting right along with him.

It sounds loud as *hell* --

*Obviously* loud --

*Ridiculously* --


Harvey loosens himself up with a shiver and uses his *forebrain*. "It's okay, big guy, I'm just bein' an idiot."


"No, *really*, because I was just lying here thinkin' we were *panting* too loud."

"I -- hm."


Bruce raises an eyebrow at him.

Harvey grins and strokes it, and the bridge of Bruce's never-broken nose --

And Bruce kisses Harvey's fingers when he gets them down to Bruce's mouth. "I love your sounds."

"I had my suspicions about that," Harvey says, and pushes against Bruce's grip on his thigh until he eases up a little and Harvey can lower his leg --

And *immediately* feel some serious come-shifting happening in his ass.

Damn --

"Harv --"

"We... are gonna stain this couch badly and *obviously* if we're not *real* damned careful, big guy," Harvey says, and smiles ruefully.

Bruce's frown is dark. "I don't care."

Oh -- that. "Okay, you're mad at Dad, I hear you, I *really* do. But *Dad is not the one who cleans the furniture*."

Bruce blinks --

Winces --

And nods. "I take your point," he says, and smiles ruefully. "And I believe I have a solution."

Harvey raises his eyebrows. "Other than you rolling us onto the floor before the dripping starts?"

Bruce hums. "As exciting as that sort of thing was when we were students together..." And Bruce leans over and tugs his handkerchief out of the breast pocket of his jacket.

"Heh. All right, better than the upholstery. Kiss me first --"

And Bruce *lifts* him into the kiss like he weighs *nothing* --

So *strong* --

And the kid in Harvey still wants to see Bruce playing football or *something*, but not as much -- *never* as much -- as he wants just this: the feel of being held and held up and held *close* for a kiss that's warm, wet, loving and *right*. Harvey hums into the kiss, smiles into it, *licks* into it -- and gets his tongue sucked just the way they *both* like. He pulls back *slowly* --

Bruce catches Harvey's tongue between his teeth, *lightly* --

And Harvey waggles his eyebrows before taking it back. "Missed you like crazy, big guy."

Bruce just nods for that, solemn and heavy and unblinking. Which --

"Off-campus housing for me next year. Which -- no roomie. We can talk pretty much whenever we want."

Bruce takes a deep breath and nods -- and then pushes the handkerchief between them and pulls out slow and easy.

Harvey closes his eyes and breathes through it --

Remembers *not* to shift as much as he wants to --

And *then* he can get up and wipe up a little before dressing like a person who honestly believes that he *won't* be completely obvious about all the fucking he just did.

*Bruce* looks picture-perfect -- except for the missing hankie -- but Harvey doesn't *have* to see the lust on Bruce's face to know *he* looks freaking *debauched*. "Fix me?"

"I'd rather not."

"Heh." Harvey wags a finger at him. "Think with the big head, big guy. You know we'll be doing the family dinner thing soon."

And that frown comes back in a *big* way -- damn.

"Okay, okay, no. You heard me before --"

"You want... would you truly want us to move in *together*, Harv?"

Harvey spreads his hands. "We're nineteen, big guy. We're *supposed* to be getting out and about. And -- okay, maybe it'd be kinda weird for you to be living up in New Haven and *not* going to school --"

"Harv --"

"No, no, I'm *not* gettin' on your case about that right now, I promise. I know you have your own plans, and -- hell. I still think you're crazy, but you're *my* crazy brother, and I trust you, and I'm always gonna be right behind you. Just like you were right behind *me* when *I* was crazy. Okay?"

Another frown. "Do you -- you believe my training to be a phase I'm going through."

Harvey smiles ruefully and steps close, close enough to cup Bruce's shoulders and look up those couple of inches into his eyes. "Nah, big guy. I *hope* it's a phase. I *believe* you're gonna carry this through right to the end --"

Is *that* how the little guy is gonna save Bruce?

What --

He's *thirteen* --

He's a *tiny* thirteen and --

("Yeah? You like superheroes, too?")

And Tim had lit up like Kane Center at Christmas, like a bonfire, like --

Like a *happy* kid --

("The Justice Society has done so *much* for the world, Harv! They -- for the *entire* world! I think -- I mean -- I don't mean to be... excitable.")

And he had looked down -- again.

But the smile had stayed in his eyes for an *hour*, and --

("I've thought... about boxing. Lessons, I mean. I know it's ridiculous --"

"Hey, no --"

"I don't have anything like the musculature --"

"You can work *out*, little guy --"

"There's this one particular gym -- I -- never mind --"

"No, no, tell me about it?")

And Tim had balled his hands into hard little fists --

*Correct* little fists, as Harvey couldn't help but notice --

But then Tim had looked up again, and his eyes were so sad, so --

("Let me... change the subject?"

"Are you *sure*, little guy?"

"Yes. Please.")

So he had -- but.

Harvey frowns and steps back from Bruce, pacing a little and rubbing at his -- no, wait. He gives Bruce *his* handkerchief --

"Thank you, but...?"

"I... there's something..."

"I can tell, Harv," Bruce says, and there's a good-natured tease in his voice, a willingness -- no. A *desire* to share. And how long had it taken to get Bruce to the point where he'd show that *automatically*?

Harvey shakes himself all over and turns back to Bruce with a rueful smile. "Sorry, big guy, I'm just -- thinking about Tim."

A frown that looks *reflexive* -- but Bruce damned well wipes it off his face and stands straight, nodding like a damned *soldier*.

"Hey, don't treat it like nasty-tasting medicine --"

"I -- I'm sorry," Bruce says, and he absolutely means it --

Damn. "And don't let me push you too hard, *either* --"

"No, Harv. You -- I *need* you to push me," Bruce says, and folds Harvey's handkerchief into his pants pocket. "I won't -- I will not be incorrect about this. Not anymore."

Harvey winces. "Big guy --"

"Please tell me your thoughts about... is 'Tim' what he truly prefers? I've always called him 'Timothy.'"

Harvey thinks about arguing the point --

Thinks *hard* about it --

And then he thinks about Martha clawing at the chaise because her freaky boyfriend scared her *that* bad -- yeah, this is necessary. Harvey nods. "Tim, yeah. Or -- he seems to -- he said he liked it when I called him 'little guy.'"

Bruce smiles wryly. "I find myself somewhat less than shocked by that."

"Hey, most guys would *hate* that --"

"A nickname given by a man like you, Harv...?"

And yeah, Harvey *is* nineteen years old, but right about now he's *absolutely* sure that Bruce'll be able to make him blush when he's  *ninety*. "Aw, c'mon, big guy --"

"Is he. I've seen him... looking at you."

Harvey frowns. "Looking when? How?"

Bruce closes the distance between them and starts straightening Harvey's hair and suit with quick, easy motions. "At the parties, of course. He... studies you. And everyone else, truly. I've wondered about the conclusions he's drawn."

("Have you ever...")

And Tim had trailed off, frowning, tapping at his own lean thigh with the fingers of his right hand --


"I -- it's not important --"

"Maybe let me be the judge of that?"

"You're very -- agreeable.")

And Tim had blushed *hard* *while* he was saying that -- but he hadn't looked away.

Harvey had grinned and shrugged.

("When people are worth it, yeah?"

"This. This is your fifth visit."

"Uh, huh.")

Tim had bitten his lip -- but only for a moment before nodding sharply.

("I've come to believe that most people tell themselves... lies. Often very many lies at once."

"Heh. Something tells me that's about... half? A quarter? Of what you *actually* wanted to tell me.")

The blush had gotten deeper --

("Perhaps there'll be more... on another visit.")

Only he hadn't gotten back *down* here -- Martha had insisted they do the holiday thing in the Caribbean this past year -- and --

"You have your own thoughts about what those conclusions might be," Bruce says, and flat-out re-ties Harvey's tie.

"I -- thanks --"

"You're welcome," and Bruce raises an eyebrow at him.

Harvey frowns. "He's a smart kid. I -- need to go see him. Without you, I mean."

Bruce nods solemnly. "I will use the time to... prepare myself."

And he'll damned well do *exactly* that -- "I love you."

The solemnity blows away like dandelion fluff in a stiff freaking *breeze*. "And I you, Harv."

Harvey grins right back. "You know what we can do that wouldn't look weird, at *all*."


"You get yourself a place -- a nice *big* place -- in the city proper down here... while I get my *own* place up in New Haven. We can visit each other all the time, throw nice, suspicion-easing parties --"

"And give... Tim places he can go that are away... from his parents."

Harvey smiles ruefully and cups the back of Bruce's head, leaning in close enough that they can rest their foreheads together. Of course Bruce would figure that out before *he* had in his own freaking head. "You saved *me* once, big guy. Time for me to pay it forward a little."

"I feel... I still feel as though I asked you to accept far too much, brother."

And this is why I will never, ever tell you what Martha did to my old man -- but. "Never too much, brother."

"Harv --"

"Nothing's too much when it means I get to have you."

Bruce shudders all over and *crushes* Harvey against him --

"Oof, hey --"

"I'm sorry," Bruce says, but doesn't ease his grip even a *little* --

Which means it's time for Harvey to just go with it. He wraps his arms around Bruce's waist and kisses his cheek. "I missed this, too, big guy."

"Yes," and Bruce's voice is low and heavy and *fervent* --

So Harvey kisses his cheek again and just goes with it.


May 1979

Tim checks his height, weight, and certain other measurements every day. Most of the time, this makes him quite sure that he's developing a dangerous degree of masochism --

Just like his -- no.

It's practical. The dojo he's been attending for karate lessons for the past year doesn't offer *everything* Tim wishes it to -- there's been hardly *any* weapons training -- but one of the senseis just happens to be a nutritionist, as well. Kathleen has been *exceedingly* helpful in terms of helping Tim develop new muscle -- if not much in the way of other growth -- and is a firm believer in record-keeping.

Tim approves of that wholeheartedly.

He would *like* to keep his records on his computer -- and he does, when it comes to his personal growth and other non-incriminating sorts of things -- but the fact of the matter is that his computer, while being something about which he's *very* fond, is not in the slightest bit secure.

Tim keeps his other records... other places.

At the moment, those places are all secret compartments in his *bedroom* -- which is less than optimal for a number of reasons -- but it will have to do. A year ago, one of their live-ins had discarded the seventeen floppies Tim had left lying out on his worktable. While there was nothing of any *true* import on those disks, pretending there had been had proved entirely useful in terms of his gaining the right to care for his own living space.

Only his mother comes in here uninvited now, and *she* will never crawl along the baseboards knocking for hidden compartments.

Tim smiles at himself in the mirror as he wraps the measuring tape around his chest. It's not the best smile in the world --

He doesn't want to *think* about what could happen if his mother found out about what sorts of things he's been keeping records of --

He's not really smiling, at all, anymore.

And his chest isn't any broader than it was yesterday. Nor are his legs or arms longer.

He seems to be a full pound *heavier*, though, and that's something to rejoice about. The diet Kathleen designed for him is somewhat daunting in terms of the amount of grains and proteins, but...


He's thirteen years old.

He's five feet tall.

Four months ago, he was still *barely* one hundred pounds -- and often dropped below that if Jack Drake -- the man he must still, somehow, call 'Dad' -- was going through one of his phases when he insisted the live-in of the moment cook nothing but British food. Or, rather, *attempt* nothing but British food, as Jack tends not to hire live-ins for their *cooking* skills. Kathleen -- and karate, and weight-lifting -- has brought him to a respectable one hundred and seventeen pounds.

He doesn't look much *bigger*, but there's a great deal of definition to his musculature now, and he feels...



More... correct.

Tim re-rolls the measuring tape, places it in its small case, and sets it where it belongs in his armoire.

He then moves to stand in front of his mirrors and examine himself thoroughly. His thin, straight, black hair is too long for *his* comfort -- it brushes his chin annoyingly -- but fashion makes its own demands for teenagers. Thomas Wayne wears his hair much shorter, and Tim will be able to do the same once he's older.

Perhaps even before he graduates from high school -- and it *will* be Exeter. His mother wouldn't have it any other way, and never mind that there'll be no way to *escape* from the whispers there --

That he'll be *trapped* in the middle of *nowhere* --

Away from Gotham --

Away from the *JSA* --

How will he continue his *training* -- no. Not that. Examination now.

Tim takes a deep, meditative breath, adjusts his posture, and slips into a position from which he can move *easily* into any of four different ready positions and adequately well into three others.

He hadn't needed Kathleen *or* Takumi to tell him that he was learning quickly and well. At this rate, he'll be a black belt before he has to leave for Massachusetts -- no. The concept of 'jinxing' *feels* patently ridiculous, but Martha Wayne has been sleeping with a known magic-user since before Tim was *born*.

*Possibly* since before his mother had *planned* Tim's existence.

Tim doesn't shudder. The Justice Society has worked with Jason Blood multiple times over the years and, while reading behind the lines of the various post-mission interviews suggests that the missions themselves weren't always marvels of cooperation and bonhomie, the fact is that Blood is an acknowledged hero. Even though he is --

("Well. Timothy Drake. This *is* a surprise.")

And Blood had spun on his stool until he was facing Tim from behind the cluttered counter --

There was not one thing in his shop Tim felt was safe enough to *touch* --

The cigarette in Blood's holder was the color of old blood --

His mind had insisted that the smoke smelled like the color *chartreuse* --

And the holder itself... changed. Every time Tim tried to focus on it. It --

("Mm. What *can* I do for you, hmm? Hexes? Curses? Fetishes? Love potions...?"

"Do you *do* that sort of thing?"

"For the people ignorant enough to *believe* in that sort of thing. I've owned a sizeable portion of Gotham for hundreds of years, but there are still *incidental* expenses.")

And Blood had *winked* at him --

("Admit it, Timothy -- may I call you Timothy? -- a part of you is scandalized *most* by the fact that I'm a *tradesman*."

"I -- I don't consider myself --"


Tim had frowned and drawn himself up.

("I feel no need to -- judge you."

"No...? Merely to examine me for your own purposes...? Perhaps to build something of a... dossier?")

He hadn't been able to keep from *blushing* --

And Blood had laughed, low and not ungently.

("Free advice...?"

"If. If you want to. Offer --"

"Oh, I *absolutely* do. Watch from the shadows -- no. *Live* from the shadows, Mr. Drake. *Something* tells me that you'll find them entirely... cozy."

"Life -- isn't about comfort."

"Oh, yes, it is. Comfort and *pleasure*. *Survival*, now... that's a bit stickier. I believe you'll prefer the shadows for *that*, too...")

And he had looked Tim *over* -- and smiled.

("And, perhaps, just a *few* more years under your belt. Here.")

And he'd exhaled chartreuse for -- too long. Longer than *anyone* with that approximate lung capacity *should* have been able to exhale. Tim had caught himself trying to time the exhale --

And then caught himself trying to make the world go back to being the right *color* --

And then caught himself blinking on the sidewalk two blocks away... with a half-eaten ice cream cone in his hand. The flavor was chocolate.

He'd given it to a homeless man and gone back home.

Tim had been ten then -- *new* to his studies -- and Blood's advice had been reasonable. While there is much he will -- possibly -- *never* be able to find out about his extended family -- and 'family' -- there is far, far more that he *has* been able to find out about the *world* by working from the shadows.

One can get a great deal done when one's parents have separate, soundproofed bedrooms, and when one has a large, sturdy tree outside one's window.

This time, the smile on Tim's face is much better -- for certain values of 'better.' It's the smile that tends to make Thomas Wayne *pause* when it's on Tim's mother's face, and make him *start* to reach out when it's on Tim's own.

A hand on his shoulder, a careful stroke over his hair -- once, an unnecessary straightening of his tie.

Thomas Wayne doesn't *disapprove* of him as a person, and possibly even --

No, not that. Not --

Most of the time, Tim is reasonably sure Thomas Wayne likes him, and possibly even cares about him in -- filial ways. Possibly. Thomas Wayne has been known to smile down into Tim's eyes whether or not anyone is watching --

The *touching* only happens when they're alone, but --

("You have an interest in the history of psychology, Timothy?")

One day, perhaps, he'll tell Thomas Wayne that he prefers 'Tim.'

Or perhaps he'll just continue to allow his mother's edicts about the man's preferences for formality to stand.

*That* day, while Tim sat at his desk and Thomas Wayne sat in the somewhat *depressingly* brown leather wingback chair that's an *exact* match for the chairs in the man's study in Wayne Manor --

His mother *insists* on Thomas Wayne's comfort *always* --

While Tim repressed the urge to fidget *and* the urge to return the lion's share of his focus to Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature --

Anything to avoid looking at Thomas Wayne's perfect suit and wet *hair* --

Anything to avoid *knowing* that his mother was *recovering* --

Not that she'd ever *put* it that way --

Not *ever* --

But Tim was already nine, and too well-trained *not* to respond to Thomas Wayne's frown with a correction of his posture, a smile --

("I'm sorry, Mr. Wayne. I was distracted by... ah..."

"Scottish alienists...?")

And Tim had *wanted* to laugh -- such a silly word -- but --

("I don't think they were called alienists then, Mr. Wayne.")

And Thomas Wayne had smiled, mustache twitching agreeably --

("So they weren't. But you didn't answer my question, Timothy.")

And Tim hadn't asked how often he smiled at Bruce --

Or whether he would smile at his *new* son Harvey like that --

Or what the touching would be like --

("The human mind is very interesting, Mr. Wayne. I've been studying --")

And he'd remembered not to stumble, or stammer --

("-- local crime statistics. Gotham City has... a great deal of crime committed by people who turn out to be mentally ill. Severely mentally ill, I mean.")

And Thomas Wayne had raised his moderately bushy eyebrows --

("Is that the field you'd like to enter when you're older? Treating the criminally insane?")

Not... quite.


But Tim *hadn't* been entirely sure what he wanted then, so he'd played along just as he was supposed to --

Watched Thomas Wayne's *hair* dry --

And, when his mother had glided -- not walked -- in half an hour later with her *own* hair wet and the long-sleeved, full-coverage robe she *has* to wear on days the man visits belted on *tightly* --

They had been laughing, and smiling.

They were too far apart for his mother to rest one hand on Thomas Wayne's shoulder and one hand on Tim's, and so the wingback chair has been much closer to Tim's desk ever since.

It --

Tim isn't smiling anymore.

Tim isn't --

Tim gives himself permission to cover his eyes with a -- currently -- imaginary mask, his torso with skin-tight body-armor of the sort favored by Mr. Terrific, his legs with tights --

They would be... red and black, he thinks. Something dramatic, but still dark enough to blend in a *little* with *some* shadows.

He'll be a *hero*, and then --

And then there'll be people who want to speak with him, and be with --

He'll be a hero, and he'll do useful things, and the vast majority of the lies he tells will be for --

They'll be *mission*-related, in some way. He'll only hide his name to protect his life and the lives of his --



Tim looks at himself in the mirror. *Studies* himself, and his -- careful -- lack of a blush.

He has, of course, fantasized about the various members of the Justice Society -- extensively, even. He --

He's *been* to Serenity Flowers, because Dinah Drake Lance's dominos are *fragile*, because she's human and easy to *follow* --

She's beautiful, of course. *Incredible* in her corset and seamed stockings -- and how does she manage to keep them *perfect* so often? But beautiful even just in jeans and a t-shirt potting plants with her ten-year-old daughter.

Her suspiciously *muscular* ten-year-old daughter --

But, of course, if *Tim's* mother were a superhero, he would insist on learning everything she and her allies could teach, too. And one day...

Tim presses his hand to his sternum and strokes down and down over his chest and abdomen until he reaches the waistband of his -- slightly -- too-tight briefs. One day, he'll be good enough -- *ready* enough -- to approach them. If not Dinah, then Ted Grant -- whose large, perfectly-muscled body is *unmistakable* in the Wildcat uniform.

Or --

One of the others, perhaps?

Hour-Man is frankly worrying, considering what Tim has deduced about *how* he goes about acquiring the superhuman abilities he apparently doesn't have at any other time.

Rex Tyler is only in his early forties... but the two times Tim has photographed him through his apartment window after missions...

He'd looked much, much older.

That doesn't mean it isn't *tempting* to try to develop his own biochemical solution to the problem of his physical inadequacies --

Something *useful* --

Dinah has proven, time and again, that such things aren't necessary.

And she does it with style.

She --

Tim touches his tongue to his upper lip and strokes down over his briefs. Lightly.

As far as she knows, Tim Drake has a girlfriend who favors yellow roses, and who receives them from him once a week. She *teases* him about the entirely fictional girl, who Tim named Jean -- never Jeanie -- and who has Harvey Wayne's eyes --

So deep and brown --

("Oh, *really*, lover-boy...? Like mine?")

Tim had blushed *easily* for that --

("They're much -- much darker than yours, ma'am --")

And Dinah had blown a raspberry and swatted him with a spray of baby's breath --

("Leave that ma'am stuff for librarians and schoolmarms, lover-boy. My name is *Dinah*."

"Oh! I wanted --"

"To be respectful. I know, nice boy like you...")

And Dinah had winked at him.

("What does she give *you* every week, hmm...? These roses don't come cheap out of season."

"I -- I -- ah --")

And then she'd *giggled* -- and reached across the counter to ruffle his hair. It had been *abundantly* obvious that she was only a few inches taller than he was --

Just as it was abundantly obvious that her muscles and scars spoke of a *lifetime* of experience. He --

("You -- you're very nice -- I mean. Ah.")

And he'd blushed *again* --

And her smile had *quirked* --

("Some people say that, lover-boy. Some*times*."

"Not... all the time?")

And her smile had been Black Canary's, brilliant and sharp --

And Tim's briefs are around his ankles --

And seeing those eyes without a domino over them had been shocking, *pornographic* --

And Tim is squeezing himself, squeezing himself so *hard* --

And she'd licked her *teeth* --

And Tim doesn't moan; it's too early in the day; he'll get caught --

("Sometimes *no* one would say I'm nice, lover-boy. Remember that.")

He will, he *will*, he just --

Tim brings his free hand to his mouth and bites his wrist --

Fills his mind with the bounce of her breasts as she runs --

Leaps --

Kicks higher than her own *head* --

And the noises she makes belong to some other sort of bird entirely, some --

A raptor, a hunter, a --

Not a killer, never a killer, but a *predator*, and the Tim in the mirror wants to *be* prey, wants --

Needs --

The Tim in the mirror drops to his *knees*, because three weeks ago she'd been carrying huge bags of potting soil back and forth in her shop, and the scent of her sweat had been almost *sharp*, almost --

Tim *grunts* around his wrist and wants salt, wants --

He should've worked *out* more this morning, should've --

He yanks his wrist out of his mouth and swipes through the light moisture at the base of his throat --

Sucks his fingers --

Doesn't *moan*, but now he's stroking himself faster, now he's on his knees on the --

The *stone* tile at Serenity Flowers, and it's dark except for the faint and *ghostly* light from the gaslights outside, and the leather of Dinah's corset creaks, and the silk of her stockings *whispers* --

But they don't go all the way up --

And the corset --

Opens --

And Tim gives up on visualization -- he doesn't *want* to imagine Dinah having any of the vulvas he's seen in Jack Drake's poorly-hidden pornography -- and drives himself on by the imagined scent, so strong and --

Would it be musky? Deep?

Dark and --

Wet, female, *dark* --

And he would push close --

He's so hard, so hungry and --

He would push *close*, and nuzzle and *lick* --

He needs this, he needs this so *much* --

Suck, he could suck, and have her in his mouth --

He's *studied* anatomy, and maybe she would --

What's it gonna be, lover-boy...?

Oh --

Tell me what you like...

And her voice is so -- so *smoky* --


"*Nnh* --"

And Tim shoves his fingers *deeper* --

Gets *rocked* by an image of Dinah yanking his head back by the hair so Ted can push --

In --

We both know this is what you *really* want...

Both, it's --

Everything -- oh --

Oh --

Oh -- God --

And Tim is shuddering and arching, shuddering and *ejaculating*, and it's too much, too perfect --

He could be --

*He* could be beautiful, and right --

Something --

Something like *perfect* --

Though hopefully with less semen on his furnishings.

Tim sighs at his spattered mirror for a moment, then works on correcting his breathing while he retrieves the paper towels and the glass cleaner from the small cabinet he keeps under his secondary worktable. He cleans his mess, checks the floor to make sure he hadn't missed anything -- ah, a droplet four inches from the mirror.

Tim throws out the paper towels, then retrieves the rag and the *carpet* cleaner.

When he's done, he looks over his room to make *sure* there's nothing incriminating, then he takes his robe into his en suite bathroom and showers.

In truth, even the live-in -- the latest one is named, he believes, Berenice, and he's very proud of himself for remembering that, considering the fact that she has the same long black hair, dazzling smile, and pneumatic proportions as the last *four* -- won't be awake for another hour. *Everyone* sleeps in on the weekends in this house, short of some disaster at Drake Industries, and --

And it's entirely possible that someone --


-- would call him paranoid.

Harvey is, Tim knows, home from Yale now, which means --

Tim frowns as he soaps himself. He shouldn't make assumptions. The fact that Harvey has visited *every* time he's been in Gotham for the past two years --

Even when he was only here for two *days* --

Tim swallows and soaps himself faster. He's not --

He doesn't want to masturbate while thinking about Harvey again. It isn't --

It's too *much* --

("You know you can call me Harv if you want to, little guy.")

And his smile had been easy and warm and so --

*Not* all of Harvey's smiles are real -- Tim has *seen* that -- but all of his smiles for *him* are real --

And it's so hard to be *professional* around --

Around a smile like --

Harvey Wayne is, objectively, an incredibly beautiful man. He just --

As of last August, he was approximately six feet, one inch tall, and, given his musculature, somewhere between one hundred sixty and one hundred seventy pounds. His hair, which *he* feels no need to keep as long as fashion demands, is a thick, dark brown with the sort of wave which must require a great deal of --

Care --

It's too *easy* to imagine Bruce running his fingers through Harvey's hair, too easy to imagine him *gripping* it --

He's never *seen* it happen, but he's seen the way they look at each other sometimes, seen the way Harvey's lips part when Bruce narrows his eyes in a certain way, seen Bruce's eyes fill with nothing but *hunger* when Harvey throws his head back to *laugh* -- though he usually only does that *for* Bruce --

Or for Martha Wayne.

He doesn't want to think about Martha Wayne. He --

Harvey's shoulders are broad, and his arms are long, and strong. When he wears a t-shirt, the definition and *power* of his musculature is obvious, *clear*.

Harvey played baseball at Exeter, and, Tim knows, continues to play any number of sports recreationally at Yale, while also working out steadily in other, less organized ways.

When Harvey is dressed in only shorts and a t-shirt --

When he's sweating and smiling --

He tans so *dark* --

Tim licks his lips, tasting the strange and worrying sweetness of Gotham water and wanting --

He wants sweat again, wants dark copper skin and muscle --

Harvey has so little *body* hair --

He has so little body *odor* because of it --

But if Tim were to kneel and press his face to Harvey's groin --

Yeah, that's the ticket, little guy...

Oh -- oh, he can't groan in the *shower* --

Mmm, you... you've been waitin' for *just* this, haven't you?

There are too many *echoes* --

And Harvey's hands are callused from baseball, writing --

He'd mentioned *handball*, too --

Basketball --

*Those* shorts are so --

Tim wants to *see* --

But Harvey could cup the back of Tim's neck and *grip* --

Gotcha now, little guy... or maybe I should just call you little brother...?

Tim groans -- *no*, too *loud*, but he's so clumsy right now that just attempting to cover his mouth leads to him nearly *punching* himself -- 

Yeah, you're my little brother, all right. Tiny little thing... but don't think I haven't noticed you gettin' stronger --

No --

No. No. He won't --

He can't notice -- or. Of course Harvey is very intelligent and observant, but Tim can't just -- just *assume* --

Can't let himself fantasize about something that might not *happen* --

That would be --

He can't *expose* himself to that kind of *disappointment*. Too many disappointments at a young age lead to... to... difficulties. *Emotional* difficulties of the sort that Tim would dearly like to *avoid*.

When he's an adult, he will be escorting people to Arkham Asylum -- *not* the other way around. And --

And. He has yet to discern a method for forcing his erections to subside. He --

He retains *hope* that such a thing is possible without the excruciating pain of *tucking* while erect, but, for now --

He tucks.

And grits his teeth.

And finishes sluicing off.

The sudden, *desperately* wonderful image of Bruce forcing Harvey back against a tiled wall and washing him clean with his massive hands, so powerful, so --

Tim shivers and explains to his penis that *that* is what Harvey likes, and that that is what he will *continue* liking for the foreseeable future. When his mother had brought Tim to Thomas Wayne for his last physical, the man had explained that Tim would likely never grow much taller than five feet, nine inches -- assuming he reached *that* height -- and that he would likely always remain lean.

Even the *women* Harvey dates are statuesque --

And Tim isn't hard anymore. Knowing his body's schedule, he'll be hard enough again by mid-morning to *require* another masturbatory experience, but --

Perhaps he'll have Harvey out of his mind by then.

Tim steps out of the shower, dries himself, and dresses. In an hour, he'll fix himself breakfast -- Berenice has, at least, proven herself to be reasonably competent at acquiring the groceries Tim requests for the meals he prepares for himself -- but, for now, he's going to make his third attempt at slogging through Kent Nelson's books on Eastern mysticism. He's not at *all* sure if there's anything in the books which can help him -- other than, of course, the chapters on meditation and energy -- but if he's going to present himself to the JSA someday --

If he's going to insist on being taken as someone useful, someone already *partially* prepared --

He reads.

At the end of the hour, he goes downstairs and prepares himself a large meal of Kathleen's homemade whole-milk yogurt mixed with her granola as well as a cup and a half of blueberries. Six months ago, he would've balked hard at eating this much to start the day, but he *does* have a larger appetite now than he did before, and, as far as he's concerned, every pound gained is a victory over his genetic blueprint.

Not that there's anything wrong with his mother --

Or Thomas Wayne --

He'd like to ask the man so many questions. The fact is, were his mother to dye her auburn hair black, wear colored contact lenses to -- *slightly* -- soften the blue of her eyes, surrender half an inch of height, and allow herself to age more dramatically, she could *almost* be Martha Wayne's twin. As it is, any number of people who really should have already known better -- assuming they *hadn't* in fact known better and simply not cared -- have made comments along the lines of how his mother and Martha could easily be sisters.

Does Thomas Wayne only have *one* type? And -- his mother had been quite clear about the fact that the very, very quiet rumors about Thomas Wayne making use of high-end escort services from time to time are true. His tastes are --

What of those women? What do they *look* like?

How shallow *is* he?

Martha Wayne and his mother are nothing alike in terms of temperament and personality. His mother and Thomas Wayne can and do discuss the world of business and their respective companies for hours at a time, whereas, if his mother were to be tested on the contents of either of the literary journals Martha Wayne edits -- and which they subscribe to for the sake of appearances -- the results would be dismal at *best*.

*Tim* reads them every quarter, of course -- just in case -- but he's reasonably sure his mother hasn't read a novel since graduating from Hudson University, and that she's entirely pleased by that.

He'd also like to know what sort of things...

Was it a matter of Martha Wayne not appreciating the same sorts of things his mother clearly does? The Psychopathia Sexualis and the Kinsey Report -- difficult to acquire, but not *impossible* -- were quite clear about the fact that any number of people enjoy sadomasochism, though they were far less clear about *why*. Still, it remains recreation for the *minority*, and thus...


Tim doubts -- sincerely -- that Jason Blood scatters rose petals on a sleigh bed for Martha Wayne. It's just that there's a great deal of room between *that*, and...

And the need for robes that provide full coverage.

This train of thought isn't doing very much for his appetite *or* peace of mind, and so Tim meditates, focusing on the grain of wood in the kitchen table --

The tick of the clock --

The creak of the door to the servants' quarters -- Berenice is awake.

Tim abandons meditation and simply focuses on eating at a measured pace until she enters the kitchen. *Her* robe is pink, fluffy, and ends at mid-thigh. It gaps over her impressive chest.

She's already wearing *heels* --

Tim bids her good morning, and she smiles at him with an *empty* brightness which speaks voluminously about the many, many questions about the world and her place in it which she will never care to ask.

Tim has watched her struggling to read a bag of *coffee* --

And *not* one of the foreign ones --

She bids him good morning, *hugs* him --

She still smells a little like Jack's cologne.

She --

Tim pats her back, thanks her aloud for the hug and silently for the extra time she had given him to be free of sexual arousal, and finishes his breakfast while she puts the 'cuffee' on.

The fact that she's up this early *strongly* suggests that Jack will be rising early, too, and so Tim simply retrieves the newspapers and puts them in the usual place before returning to his bedroom. In a good week, he can limit the amount of time he spends in Jack's presence to under two hours.

He would very much like to beat his record.

He stretches slowly and thoroughly for half an hour, meditates for forty-five minutes, then returns to the mysticism. He's not due at the dojo for another seven hours, and while he would *like* to simply spend all day there, it's a Saturday. The senseis will be busy with younger students until well into the afternoon, and there simply won't be any *space* for him.

He will do katas on his own once he's digested more of his --

The knock is 'shave and a haircut.'

Tim knocks 'two bits' on his desk reflexively, *fights* back a *beam* until it's just a smile --

And knows Harvey can see it in his eyes just the same. He --

"Do I get a hug, little guy?"

"I -- yes," Tim says, standing and feeling awkward and clumsy and *wrong* until --

Until he's hugging Harvey, who is tall and beautiful and smells like the dark and *faintly* sweet Adon cologne which is either his favorite, or his favorite cologne for occasions when he knows he'll be seeing Tim.

Tim had spent the two hours at Scents and Sensibility he required to be sure which colognes Harvey favored. He'd purchased all of them, as well as a small selection of scents for himself.

He tries --

He doesn't sniff the Adon very often.

Only sometimes --

"Hey, somebody's put some *muscle* on. Nice!"

He'll be sniffing it tonight --

Harvey is gripping Tim's *biceps* --

Pushing him back --

Grinning down at him *proudly* --

He'll definitely be sniffing it tonight. It -- it's important to acknowledge one's --

"So what have you been -- oh, I *see* those weights over there," and Harvey lets go of him --

And Tim breathes --

And doesn't sway on his feet --

Harvey is wearing a t-shirt and *jeans*, just like he doesn't *care* that Thomas Wayne is his father, like --

But he doesn't have to care.

And he looks -- very, very nice.

And he picks up the barbell Tim *struggles* to bench-press... with one hand. And whistles.


"Hey, hey, don't gimme that sour-puss. You're *thirteen*. I wasn't lifting this much when *I* started out, and I was *bigger* than you," and Harvey raises his slim, dark eyebrows at him.

They're very nice eyebrows --

He's not going to be an *idiot* --

"I -- all right," Tim says, and tries very hard to breathe through his need to blush. Very, very --

Harvey smiles *gently* and jerks his chin at him. "So gimme the skinny, hunh? Weights and what else?"

"I -- ah. Karate?"

"Oh, yeah? Some kinda Bruce Lee action going on?"

The blush is just -- going to be on his face. He has to accept that, too. And it's time for the cover story -- the one he hasn't actually *needed* to use at *all* --

No, he's not going to think about that.

He's just going to smile like *this*, and -- "It occurred to me that, given my body type, I would probably have better luck with the martial arts than I would with nearly any other sport."

Harvey gives him a *shrewd* look and sets the barbell down gently and easily. "You sure about that, little guy?"

Tim blinks. "I -- yes? I mean --"

"You're absolutely, *positively* sure about that?"

"Ah --"

"'cause I'm thinking maybe... heh," and Harvey turns to walk to Tim's largest window, pushing aside the curtains and looking out at Gotham. Or possibly at Tim's dearly beloved tree.


"Nuh-uh, that's not what you call me," Harvey says, but he sounds... distracted. Distant.

Tim frowns and -- doesn't ball his hands into fists. "Are. Are *you* sure --"

"Oh -- damn. Sorry, that --" Harvey shakes himself in a distinctly canine way, drops the curtains, and turns to face Tim again, leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms over his chest. His muscular, beautiful --

He's not as *big* as Bruce and he doesn't *need* to be --

" -- with me, little guy?"

*Damn* it -- "Yes, I'm sorry," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "I -- I woke up early to work out."

Harvey raises his eyebrows again. "But you do that every day. Don't you?"

"Yes --"

"But you were up late last night...?" And Harvey's smile is *sly*.

"Ah... I was. Actually." He won't know until he gives himself time in his basement darkroom, but he thinks he took some very passable pictures of Hour-Man *and* Dr. Mid-Nite.

Harvey raises his eyebrows *higher*... but then he nods and looks down at the floor. "Would you... no. No." He looks up at Tim again. "First off? You *always* call me Harv, unless you're *really* pissed at me, okay? Aside from my parents, Alfred, and Dr. Thompkins, the only people who call me Harvey are people who can take a flying leap. Okay?"

"Does that include *my* parents?"

Harvey looks *horrified* for a moment --

Tim wants to *kick* himself -- "I --"

"Don't," Harvey says, and holds up a hand. "'cause that's the second thing I wanted to say. Wanted to *have*."

"I. Yes?"

"I wanna make a deal with you, little guy."

"What. What kind of deal?"

Harvey smiles ruefully. "Honesty. Just -- honesty. I'll never bullshit you, and you -- you'll pretend that you can trust me with anything you want. Because I *promise* that you can."

Tim doesn't *mean* to rear back, but --

"Yeah, I know, it's kinda -- I always let your little lies and half-truths slide. *Especially* when it has to do with your parents... and not-parents."

Tim's hands are sweating. That, more than anything else, lets him know --

"So who taught you how to make a fist, hunh? It couldn't have been your parents, and I *know* the school you go to doesn't *half* have that kind of thing to deal with," Harvey says, and pushes up off the wall.

Tim blushes *again* --

And Harvey nods thoughtfully. "That's another lie you wanna tell me. I think I knew it would be already. But it doesn't have to be, okay? I'm never gonna get on you for *anything*, little guy. I'm not..." Harvey bites his lip for a moment and closes the distance between them, cupping Tim's shoulders again and squeezing -- firmly. Not hard. "I like you. You're my brother. I'm *your* brother. Those things aren't gonna change. Get me?"

"I. I like you. Too. Ah."

Harvey grins. "I know you do. I could always feel it. Like maybe I was making something a little better just by showing up here --"

"A lot -- a lot," Tim says, frowning and looking down because he *has* to --

Except that Harvey has his fingers beneath Tim's chin --

Harvey is lifting Tim's *face* -- "Harv --"

"Yeah. Tell me a secret?"

"Ah. Could you. Be more specific?"

The smile on Harvey's face... quirks. "Are you playing for time?"


Harvey snickers and... chucks Tim's chin. "Okay, I'll tell *you* a secret. I think Martha Wayne is one of the scariest people I've ever met. Not society-scary. Not even *mom*-scary. Scary *period*."

Tim frowns. "You... make it sound as though you're *physically* afraid of her."

"And maybe that's ridiculous, little guy...?" Harvey chucks Tim's chin again. "Watch your back around her. *Always*."

Tim blinks... a lot.

And *keeps* blinking, because Harvey isn't laughing, and his smile doesn't speak of jokes, or even of 'jokes.' It's a *pained* smile, and a *worried* smile --


"I... ah. I'm not softening that one bit, Tim. Watch your back. Just like I know you can, because -- well. Tell me a secret. I'll even be specific," Harvey says, and holds Tim's chin in *place*. "Tell me what you want to *do* when you're an adult."

"I -- I've thought about being a psychiatrist --"


"But -- I do -- I'm very interested in abnormal psychology. Of course, I'll have to take over Drake Industries --"

"Tim. Why are you lifting?"

"Because -- because I hate being *skinny* --"

"Why are you... a purple belt? A brown belt?"

"Brown --"

"Tell me. And I'll tell *you* more secrets. Okay?"

Tim's heart is beating -- very fast.

Tim is chewing on the inside of his *cheek* --

And Harvey is frowning.

Harvey is frowning, and that means he'll leave, doesn't it? He'll leave, and he'll be disappointed, and this time he won't come back, won't --

He'll *never* come back, and Tim will be alone, and he won't have a brother, any brother --

Never --

He'll never --

"Maybe -- maybe I'm pushing --"

"*Please*! I."

Harvey blinks. "Hey, it's okay, it's okay, I don't mean to -- damn, I'm really doin' this all wrong, c'mere," and Harvey pulls Tim in for another hug -- "Oh, you're *shaking*. Jesus, I'm really messing you *up* here --"

"No -- no, it's okay --"

"It's not --"

"You never -- you never *hurt* me -- and I, I'll tell you, I'll tell you anything --"

"You don't have to --"

"It's just -- I don't know -- I don't know if you *keep* secrets --"

And Harvey's laugh is explosive, breathless --

Tim pulls --

Tim *tries* to pull away, but Harvey won't let him. Harvey is *strong*, *exactly* as strong as he looks --

Tim doesn't *moan* --

"I only laughed because I been keeping secrets my whole life, little guy," Harvey says -- *whispers*. In Tim's *ear* --

Tim *shivers* --

"All nineteen years of it. I -- I won't rat you out to *anyone*, okay? It's just us. And -- maybe Bruce someday?" And *then* Harvey pulls back, but only far enough that he can look into Tim's eyes.

Which. Tim never wants to *frown* like this at Harvey, but --

"Yeah, okay, I knew *that* wouldn't fly all that straight," and Harvey's laugh is a little better. "How's this: he knows exactly how bad he's treated you."

"He -- he has no reason to treat me *well* -- *mm* --" And those are Harvey's *fingers* on his *mouth* --

"Not that, little guy. *None* of that, because I'll tell you something: I am freaking *sick* of this family -- and we *are* a family -- acting like maybe it's *okay* to treat each other like crap even when nobody's done anything *wrong*. And -- okay, I got another secret for you. One I *didn't* tell Bruce, yet, and I'm hoping *you* won't tell him, either. You ready?"

He never *talks* to Bruce -- he nods.

"Jason Blood told Mom you were gonna save Bruce's life soon. And this -- look, I *know* you're looking to be a vigilante when you grow up, okay? You don't have to -- and there's the blush anyway. Did you think I'd screw with you about that? I *saw your face* when we talked about the JSA. Every *time* we talked about the JSA. A kid like you -- you should be going out there to make friends or at least start scamming on chicks with that sweet little body you're building for yourself, but no, you're just working *harder*. And studying *mysticism*. And *boxing* -- you think I forget *anything* you tell me?" And Harvey *scans* his bookshelf -- "Heh. And *other* martial arts, too, goin' by that section right there by all the anatomy books." He smiles and shakes his head. "I know, okay? And it's okay by me."

All Tim can do is stare. And --

Just --

"My interests -- all sorts of people --"

"Are interested in the JSA. Yeah, I *know*. But why don't you go with the fact that I have *two* brothers, and that maybe those brothers have something in *common*," Harvey says, and raises his eyebrows again, moving his fingers back to Tim's chin.

"What -- I don't -- what. Are you saying?"

Harvey grins ruefully. "Well -- that's *his* secret to tell. But I think you already know."

Tim shakes his head *dumbly*. He can't --

Bruce is already brilliant and muscular and -- and *huge* --

Bruce probably won't have to --

The JSA would *welcome* --

Bruce wouldn't have to -- to *work* --

Tim hears himself make a *terrible* sound, and that -- no. He backs up, and he... he tugs his polo shirt down, and he neatens his hair --

No, he's not going to *fidget* --

They'll never want *him* if they can have --

"Little guy?"

No, no, no --

"I was thinking... I was thinkin' maybe this would *help*," Harvey says, and he actually sounds *confused*, and that's --

That's *hilarious* --

Tim should *laugh* --

He can't. He can't.

Dinah would probably... probably find Bruce *extremely* attractive -- her late husband was a relatively large, hirsute man --

Dinah wouldn't even *see* Tim if Bruce were in the flower shop --

"Little guy...? C'mon, talk to me --"

"No. No. Please. I think. I think. I need. I have work to do --"

"Ah, Christ, what did I *say*?"

"How can you not *know*?" And that was a *blurt*, and it was too loud, and he's never supposed to yell --

He's supposed to have *control* --

Harvey --

Harvey looks *confused*, and -- what would his mother do in a situation like this one? He can't *fire* Harvey, and he doesn't want to. He just --

He just can't talk to him right *now*. So. Tim stands up straight again, and takes a deep breath. "I would like for you to leave now, Harvey -- Harv. Please."

And now Harvey looks -- wounded. *Hurt*.

That --

Tim shakes his head and reaches out because he *has* to -- except that doing that leads to Harvey *gripping* his hand --

Twining their fingers *together* --

His hand is so much *bigger* --

"Tell me what I did."

"I -- it's not --"

"Tell me what I did so I can freakin' *fix* it, Tim. I -- you know I need you happy, right?"

Tim shivers *hard* --

"Yeah, c'mon, just *tell* me. *Whatever* it is --"

"You can't. You can't fix it."

"*Tim* --"

"You can't make Bruce... smaller. Or less competent. Or -- less desirable. You can't make me... more. Ah. You can't make me more of anything," Tim says, and forces himself to keep looking up as he *tries* to tug his hand away from Harvey's --

It doesn't work. It --

"Please, Harv --"

"Tim... Jesus, little guy, you think this is... some kinda crazy *competition*?"

("Listen to me *very* carefully, Tim: you're the *second*. You will always *be* the second. Others have relished this position, but only because *their* firsts have been, in some way, inadequate. *You* don't have that luxury... and you never, ever will.")

There's no way he can *say* that --

He shouldn't *have* to --

And Harvey inhales sharply and nods. "That's exactly what it is, isn't it? You're supposed to be better than Bruce, and maybe -- no. *Definitely* you were hoping there was at least *one* thing you'd never have to compete with him for. Yeah?"

Tim -- doesn't chew his cheek again. He doesn't *sniff*. He nods. Once.

Harvey nods again -- and *yanks* Tim close --

"Oh --"

And kisses his forehead *hard* --

Tim makes an even *worse* noise --

"Little guy. Little *brother*. You think maybe Black Canary is having arm-wrestling contests with Wildcat in that headquarters of theirs?"

"I --"

"Or maybe Dr. Mid-Nite is chesting up against Doctor Fate about which of them can see better under the worst conditions? That freaking helmet's gotta be *awful*."

"You -- that's ridiculous --"

"Yeah," Harvey says, and pulls back again. "It *really* is. Because I don't know *jack* about superheroes, but I *still* know enough to know that they're all freaking *different*. Hell, that's why they *have* a team." And Harvey isn't just looking into Tim's eyes, he's --

He's *willing* knowledge into him by main *force* --

He --

"You --" Have such beautiful, deep-set eyes. "Ah."

"Yeah, little guy? You're hearing me a little, maybe?"

He wants to. He *always* -- "It. It seems... too easy."

"Like maybe lifting is easy? And -- you changed up your diet, too, didn't you?"

"One. One of my senseis is a nutritionist --"

"Uh, huh. I can see you got a little meat on you. And a body like yours -- you had to *work* to put it on."

Tim blushes *again* --

"*And* the karate, too. Heh. *Bruce* hasn't done that, yet. You could probably teach him a few things."

He doesn't *want* --

("Listen *carefully* --")

He can learn by *himself* --

He can --

Tim lifts his chin. "That would require him exchanging more than banal pleasantries with me."

Harvey's smile is wry enough to suggest that he'd overheard *everything* in Tim's mind, and --

And perhaps he'll simply continue to blush. Tim swallows --

"Like I said, little guy -- he knows he's done wrong by you."

"I don't. I don't *require* --"

"Anything from him? Maybe not. But he needs *you* --"

"And you need him to have me, yes, I know. Well, I certainly have no intention of letting him *die* if I can help it --"

Harvey holds up his free hand. "I need us, okay? *Us*."

Tim frowns. "What. What does that mean?"

Harvey *squeezes* Tim's hand. "Brothers. All of us. Because -- okay, Bruce? On the *surface*, he's a lot like Dad. Formal. Correct. *Conservative*. And you've seen that, yeah?"

"Yes, of course."

"Uh, huh. Underneath? Nothing like that. He's all emotion. All -- heat and art and *passion*. Running through him like a freakin' *river*. All the *time*. He spent his whole damned childhood *desperate* for someone to *share* that with, and there was no one. *No* one."

"Until -- until you."

Harvey nods. "And you know all about that, too, don't you."

"I'm not -- I'm not especially passionate --"


"I'm *not* --"

"You're on *fire* inside, little guy. Anyone who looks you in the eye -- heh. No. Anyone who looks you in the eye when you're not *hiding* can see it. And you don't hide from me."

"It -- you -- it's what you *want* --"

"And that's the only reason for it, maybe...?" And Harvey tilts his head to the side and smiles again. "You never go a little wild when Black Canary kicks the living hell outta some bank robber? You never get crazy when you're *alone*?"

"I'm *always* alone -- let *go* --"


"*Please* --"

"*No*. *Talk* to me. Just -- be *honest* with me, okay? *Be* my brother. I'll give you everything *about* me --"

Tim growls -

"Yeah, like *that* --"

"Oh -- what do you *want* from me? You already *have* a brother you can fuck!"

Harvey blinks and -- rears back. Loosens his *grip*.

Tim doesn't want --

He yanks his hand away and takes a step back because it's the right thing to do, the best thing, he has to -- to establish control --

"So that was -- you know that was the first time you ever cursed in front of me?"

"Should I have called it 'making love'?"

Harvey shakes himself again -- and snorts. And grins at him. "Yeah, maybe. No, definitely. That's what it is. *Every* time --"

"I -- I'm *happy* for you --"

"Are you? How much *have* you been watching?"

Tim -- doesn't narrow his eyes. His mother is always very obvious when she does that. She --

Harvey nods like he had done it, anyway. "I think you want to be closer to me."

"You're welcome to think --"

"I'd *like* for you to admit it -- things go a lot smoother when people admit that kinda thing to each other -- but I *don't* actually need you to. So I'm just gonna say this: I wanna be closer to *you*. I want us *all* to be close. I want people to look at us -- the *three* of us -- and know that if they try to mess with -- *fuck* with -- one of us? They'd be *fucking* with all of us. I want the Wayne brothers to take *over* this *fucking* godawful family, and then? I want us to take over this whole *fucking* town. You're smart, funny, loving, dedicated, and, yeah, *passionate*. The same goes for me and Bruce. We *belong* together, little guy --"

"You -- you sound like you want a *threesome* --"

"And *you* sound like you either spent too much time spanking it this morning or not *enough* -- but I was thirteen not all that long ago, so I *understand*," and Harvey *waggles* his eyebrows --

Tim *flushes* --

"Ah, Tim, brother -- how's this: ask me any question, anytime. *Call* me anytime. *Visit* me anytime. *You'll always be welcome.* That? Is what brotherhood means to *me*. Okay?"

He can't. There's nothing. He doesn't know what to *say*. He's standing here *staring* --

He doesn't know what to --

He's shaking his head, and he has to *stop* that, because Harvey is frowning again --

He can't --

"I can't have this!" Tim blurts again, and there's something -- it feels like there's something behind his *eyes*, or maybe in his sinuses, and he doesn't know what it is, and he's frightened, so frightened --

"What can't you have, little guy?" And Harvey's voice is so *gentle* --

What will his mother *say* -- other than to tell him to take advantage, take *every* advantage, get *close* --

Tim hears himself make another *sound*, and heroes are better than this, heroes --

Heroes can *smile* when good things happen, and -- and *recognize* them without *fighting* --

And this. Isn't this a good thing?

A part of Tim is only kneeling amidst a -- a *flutter* of Harvey memories, studying and examining, indexing and collating, trying to put *this* into some --

Some sort of *context* --

And Harvey is moving closer again, and if he touches Tim again --

If he touches Tim before Tim can -- can figure this *out* --

He cups Tim's face --

He cups Tim's *face*, and the silence is staggering, *shocking*, because Tim is moaning in his mind so much, so loudly, so *desperately* --

If Tim opens his mouth, he'll *beg* --

And Harvey strokes Tim's cheekbones with his thumbs, stares into his eyes and searches him, *sees* him --

He *must* see --

There's something behind his *eyelids* -- only it's not really *behind* them, at all, because he's --

He's *leaking* --

All the moisture is blurring his *vision* and he's *leaking* --

"Ah, Tim..."

Tim shudders, and he can't move, he can't even *move*, because Harvey has never *touched* his cheekbones before, never --

His thumbs are so *hard*, so *rough*, and Tim thinks that if he could just *feel* them between his teeth, taste *lightly* --

Not lick, not that, but just bite *down*, and hold, and *touch* with the tip of his tongue until Harvey's salt makes him salivate, until he has to pull back to avoid getting Harvey wet, *messy* --

"-- you out of here? Please?"

Tim blinks and stares -- dumbly. There are more *tears* rolling down his cheeks --

And Harvey pulls a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wipes them away like Tim is *four*. He --

Tim steps back --

"Okay, okay, but take it?"

"I -- yes," Tim says, and wipes his eyes, and tries to will himself to stop -- crying. That is the correct word for what he's doing. Wonderful. Just --

At this rate, he'll *ejaculate* on the man next.

Laughing at himself does, however, make it easier to -- eventually -- catch his breath. His cheeks feel hot, his eyes hurt, and his nose feels *swollen* --

He blows his nose, which is the absolute *last* thing he's ever wanted to do with a handkerchief that smells like Harvey and Adon.

And Harvey really is just standing here petting his hair. And his back.

And periodically rubbing his *shoulders*. Like -- like this is *normal* --

"I'm sorry," Tim says, when he can control his voice. It's still too low and rough --

"You got nothing to apologize for. I promise."

Tim frowns and -- folds the handkerchief --


"Harv --"

"You think I don't cry sometimes? You think *Bruce* doesn't cry?"

"You -- you have *reason* --"

"And so do you," Harvey says, and spins Tim around to face him. "You gotta let this stuff out sometimes, okay? That's -- all right, I *hated* having to go to Dr. Feelgood --"

"What -- what?"

"Heh." Harvey grins and -- chucks him under the chin again. "That's what I called Dr. Feeney. And I *think* you know all about why I was seeing *her*, yeah?"

The warnings in his mind for that are -- themselves. But they push the tears even further back, and, perhaps, it would be all right to simply nod --

"So say it."

Or not. "I --" Tim *tries* to look down -- Harvey won't let him. All right. "You were... abused. By your biological father. The rumors suggest that the abuse was physical and... extensive."

"It really was," Harvey says, and smiles ruefully. "And I... well, I was a mess by the time I was your age, really. Bruce saved me just by being there and being *himself* --"

"And -- by loving you. Liking you."

Harvey blinks -- and smiles a little more widely. "Yeah, that helped. That helped one whole hell of a lot -- lemme get us out of here? Just for a while?"

"Or --" Longer than that. Much -- Tim frowns at himself, but doesn't even try to turn away. He knows it won't work.


Tim shakes his head. "It's not -- I often want to... spend time with you."

Harvey *grins*. Like -- like Tim had said something *good* --

*Worthwhile* --

"So you *will* come with me?"

"I -- have to go to karate --"

"What time?"

Tim blushes *hard* -- "Ah... four-thirty. I know -- you probably didn't mean that you wanted to spend that much time -- I'm sorry --"

"I'll drop you off. Maybe watch you kick a little ass?" And Harvey waggles his eyebrows again.

And Tim... finds himself grateful for every moment of practice he's had of *living* with ridiculous erections, because he's certainly going to have to do just that -- today.

*All* day.

With *Harvey* --


"Ah. Ah. Let me get my... my gi. And my -- just a few other -- I'll be ready in a minute."

Harvey grins *again*. "Well, all *right*. I'll go tell your maid what we're up to so she can tell your parents when they're up -- uh. What's her *name*? She's not the same as the last one you guys had."

"Ah... no. She isn't. Her name is Berenice." And she might not *remember* --

And my parents might not *notice* --

And it doesn't *matter* --

But Harvey's already out of Tim's room. He --

There *is* a part of Tim which is only insisting that Harvey will leave, that it was all a joke, a *mean* joke --

That Harvey will *laugh* at him with Bruce, and somehow his mother will find out about it, and --

And then --

And then, perhaps, his mind will *collapse* under the weight of his own paranoia. Tim smirks at himself in the mirror --

And deals with the fact that the bravado only *quiets* the thoughts -- as opposed to chasing them away -- by the simple expedient of gathering his things.

He --

He *has* to try this.

He'd *promised* himself that he could have as much of Harvey's companionship as Harvey wanted to *offer*. And -- well, he'd been *nine* at the time, but that doesn't mean the promise is worthless. It --

Children aren't always *wrong*.

And Tim is as prepared as he's likely *to* be. He --

He goes.


June 2000

"You were *adorable*," Barbara says from the bed. She's resting on her stomach with her socked feet kicking in the air, and she would do something truly horrible to him if he were to share footage of the pose with Stephanie.

There are some things the Batwoman never, ever does.

Or, at the very least, never, ever admits to.

Tim has moved back to his wheelchair -- his lower back prefers it to the bed whenever he's watching something -- but he is close enough to touch Barbara's hair. He winds a lock of it around his index finger. "Adorable enough to catch *your* attention...?"

Barbara shows her teeth to... the room at large. "You built a computer in your bedroom. In the *seventies*."

"Oh, yes."

"You stalked superheroes -- and trained yourself to *become* one."

"It seemed the thing to do."

Barbara looks at him from under her -- moderately -- thick eyelashes. "You jerked off in front of your *mirror*."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "What better way to be sure of my form...?"

Barbara purses her lips.

Tim raises his eyebrow *higher* --

And Barbara snorts, giggles, and snorts *harder*. "You *weren't* joking about that."

Tim smiles and leans back, rolling his shoulders slightly -- the pain levels are quite low tonight. "I had extensive fantasies of performing for a lover."

"You hardly ever *do* that."

Tim unwinds Barbara's hair from around his finger and spreads his hands. "Actual sexual experience taught me to enjoy other things far, far more."

"I'm tempted to pout."

"You *do* have the mouth for it."

She sticks her tongue out at him -- something else that never happens when Stephanie is around. "But thank you. *You* know my kinks."

Tim shows his own teeth. "Adequately."

"Fine. *Be* a bitch --"

"All right."

Barbara snorts again and throws a pillow at him -- far too lightly.

Tim pretends not to notice her care as he plucks it out of the air and throws it back. "So you *don't* want more of Harvey's inimitable Harveyness...?"

"I -- mm. I didn't say that. I definitely didn't -- it's not *fair* that I'm somehow still too young for him --"

"You're not," Tim says, and lifts the leg-rests on the chair. "That's just his excuse."

"His -- all right, what *is* the real reason?"

"The mathematics of distance," and Tim massages his thighs --

"Let *me* do that --"

"I'm strengthening my hands, as well. I promise I'm not simply... being myself."

Barbara looks at him *narrowly* for a long moment --

"I promise," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "Dick... made his point, earlier."

She narrows her eyes *more* -- but then nods. "Jay did say you were behaving at dinner. All right, talk mathematics to me."

"He's never forgiven himself for becoming sexually involved with *me* when *I* was the violent teenager in question --"

"Oh -- but --"

"A part of him *also* never forgave the rest for 'corrupting' Bruce back in... hmm... yes, that would've been 'seventy-four."

"That --"

"*That* allowed him to forgive *both* of us quite handily when you and Dick came along and Bruce and I -- as Harvey put it -- 'tripped over our own dicks.'"

"Oh, for -- all right, that's *convenient*, but, come *on*!"

Tim laughs quietly and digs *in* against his quadriceps. "If vigilantes B.W. and T.D. were 'too young' for D.A. H.W., then not only is it comprehensible for those vigilantes to take up with other young vigilantes, but those other young vigilantes *must* be 'too young' for H.W., and thus untouchable in every -- *every* -- possible way."

Barbara's expression speaks eloquently of pain for Harvey, but --

"Be gentle, Barbara. We've asked him to accept a great, great deal -- and he's done just that."

"How often do you let him *rescue* you?"

"Not very. When... when he needs it," Tim says, and moves to his other thigh. "Would you like to know *why* he needs it?"

The vicious look on her face lasts for another moment -- and then crumbles dramatically. "He -- told me about his mother."

"Did he tell you that he'd tracked her down?"

"Oh -- God. No. I take it there's a reason she's not in his life?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "She won't take anything from him. Not his forgiveness, not his money, and not his presence. She'll never forgive *herself* for running away and leaving him to Lester Dent's tender mercies, and... well. I believe that's an attitude we can understand...?"

Barbara's expression is somewhat *queasy* now. "I -- yes. Let's go back to other people's pasts now, please."

"Would you like to --"

"No. Unless..."

"I'm listening, Barbara."

"Were you maybe *not* about to ask me if I wanted to talk about my own childhood? *Again*?"

Tim smiles at her ruefully. "Such things are somewhat... de rigueur. At times like this."

She flaps a hand at him -- and then uses it to point to the viewscreen.

"As you say. Any particular requests?"

She reaches up and back to grip her ankles, pulling them down toward her shoulders in a stretch --

Tim's smile isn't rueful anymore. "I remember Dick teaching you how to do that."

"I remember you pretending you didn't have a truly *impressive* erection under your jock. Uncle Brother."

"Hnn. These things happen. Little sister."

Barbara gives him a *hot* look --

And Bruce's knocks have been the same since he was a teenager -- only just hard enough for the sound to carry, and eminently polite.

"Come in," Tim says, and sets the controller for the machine on the worktable Bruce never touches without *invitation*.

When Bruce walks in, all he's wearing are a tightly-woven undershirt of the sort he prefers for when he'll be suited-up *imminently*, and a pair of black boxer briefs. He is tall, scarred, beautiful, and huge.

He is *cautiously* happy -- that much is clear by his expression -- and he is carrying a bowl of fruit which is heavy on red plums, white peaches, and red grapes -- Barbara's favorites.

She twists out of her stretch and sits upright on the edge of the bed. "I was already planning to stay a while, but thank you, Bruce."

"You're quite welcome," he says, and his voice is -- a touch.

A *caress*.

It wasn't always that way --

It has been for so long that sometimes Tim isn't sure *why* his mind insists on reminding him of the time before --

Why he can't simply let it *go* --

And, of course, there is a large, warm hand on his shoulder, and another on the back of his working right hand. Bruce is crouching beside the chair. "I presume you've already forbidden Barbara the right to help with this." His smile is a caress, too.

"You presume correctly," Tim says, and smiles helplessly. "My hand strength --"

"Has not slipped in the past month. You haven't let it," Bruce says, and raises an eyebrow at him.

Tim can *feel* Barbara glaring at him -- but.

"I feel weaker. All over."

Bruce nods. "You are not... but I believe I can understand how such a feeling can come to pass. Brother... will you tell me of your project?" And Bruce's eyes are wide and full --

Bruce's hands are *gentle* --

Bruce's *scent*, free of all of Bruce Wayne's colognes, is something to be sought, to be *reached* for --

("I'd like. I'd like to begin again. If you... if you think we can.")

And the rage in Tim had been a desperate thing, hungry and --


Here, in this moment, Tim can stop working on his quadriceps and smile ruefully. "Sometimes I think that I've spent the past twenty-two years trying -- unsuccessfully -- to find a way to say no to you."

Bruce frowns --

And, this time, Barbara doesn't reduce the force of her pillow-toss, at all.

Tim catches it, winces, and nods. He can -- do better. *Be* better. "All right, let me try that again: Yes, I will tell you about my project. I'll tell you absolutely everything about it, and I'll tell you in detail --"

"If -- you need do nothing of the kind if you don't wish to, brother --"

"No -- no. Not that. I..." Tim lets his smile become as crooked and broken as he feels. "I'm not at my best, Bruce. Not -- inside."

Bruce nods once, and -- he isn't blinking.

Tim shivers. "Brother..."


"I..." Tim shakes his head and cups Bruce's freshly-shaven cheek, stroking for the warmth, the smoothness that won't *last* --

And Bruce turns his head enough to kiss Tim's fingertips -- but not enough to break eye contact. He is asking -- again -- to be let in.

He *isn't* asking Tim to remember how much warmer it is -- how much *better* it is -- when they're together in as many ways as possible -- he'd never *do* that --

He'd never *push* that way, not when he knew Tim was hurt, broken, *hurt* --

("I *need* you -- oh. No. I'm sorry, I'm very -- I won't -- I won't *pressure* --")

And the hell of it was that he'd *meant* that, that he *hadn't* known Tim would throw himself at him, that he'd been *surprised* --

Tim touches Bruce's hard mouth. "I'll tell you. And... I suspect you'll dislike it a great deal."

Bruce frowns -- but nods. "I will not interfere. I trust you."

And that --

He doesn't actually *need* Barbara's low, *impatient* growl to know -- that he's continuing to do this wrong. He gets it anyway --

"No, Barbara, we must give Tim time --"

"No, Bruce," Tim says, and turns him back to face him. "I'm not... functioning. And it's getting in the way of all of us functioning as a *family*. And that's a problem."

"I will not *rush* you, brother --"

"Bruce. I'm looking into our pasts. *All* of our pasts."

Bruce blinks... and turns to *glance* at the machine before looking back at him. "The nth metal."

"Yes. And... certain other things."

"Tim... are you certain this is *safe*?"

Tim smiles ruefully again. "I have no intention of doing anything to change the past. I just... I want to see it. I need to see it."

Bruce frowns again and strokes Tim's thigh -- not innocently. Not --

"Bruce --"

"Brother... I am a better man than once I was."

"We all are -- *nnh* --"

Bruce's *grip* on Tim's thigh is --

Bruce knows exactly what that grip *does* to him -- "Bruce, don't --"

"Let me show you. It's been -- much too long since we've been intimate. Since you have *allowed* us intimacy," and there's anger in Bruce's voice, and, yes, *hunger* --

"I'm *injured* --"

"Not all of you, brother. Let me *please* you."

Tim feels himself *flushing* --

And Barbara is already at the door. She --

"Barbara, don't leave --"

"Well, since you insist," she says, and takes off her *shirt* --

"I -- I meant --"

"I *know* what you meant, Tim, but Bruce has a *very good point*," and she leans back against the closed door to open her jeans --

Tim knows that *scent* --

It's -- it's *wrong* that he can't smell her already, that he's not there on his knees --

His knees don't *work* that way anymore -- yet. They don't work that way *yet*, and they will again, he just has to work, to *focus* --

To be kissed, apparently, because Bruce is looming over him, gripping Tim's genitals through his shorts with one hand and the back of Tim's *neck* with the other --

Bruce is moaning like the lingering taste of Château Margaux -- and of *course* he had felt it necessary to celebrate Tim joining the family for dinner -- in Tim's mouth is something more than irritating and unfortunate --

Tim has to brush his *teeth* --

Bruce is *squeezing* --

("I will never *pressure* you --")

And he'd believed that, hadn't he?

It had been *true* -- in some ways.

It had *always* been true, because Bruce would never --

Bruce is --

Bruce has always been --

Better --

And there's a moment when Tim thinks he'll be able to breathe, to *think* -- Bruce's kisses have migrated to his cheek, his ear, his *throat* --

But Barbara kisses his mouth, and Barbara already tastes like peach --

How much *time* has passed --

So *sweet* --

Her lips are so --

They've always *been* so soft, and --

And she had blushed the first time Tim kissed her, freckles disappearing under a wash of red that made Tim feel young and hungry and monstrous all at once --

His gauntleted hand was in her hair --

His *bare* hand is in her hair now --

He'd bitten --

He's biting her lip --

And she and Bruce are moaning together --

Their hands are *twined* together on the back of Tim's neck --

Tim bites her harder, growls and tries to *stand* --

He wants to push, he wants --

He *doesn't* want to be up in Bruce's arms like this --

"Oh -- God, Bruce, put him *down* before he *stabs* you!"

"I must -- *please*, brother, let us *have* this," and Bruce's eyes are wide and wild, Bruce is looking at him as if four weeks have felt more like four *years* --

Bruce is ignoring the stiletto Tim has pressed to the soft flesh just beneath his left eye.

Bruce is ignoring -- everything. Except that he isn't.

Except that he knows *exactly* how much Tim is panting for this treatment, exactly how flushed Tim is, exactly how *hard* Tim is --

"*Please*, brother!"

Tim growls and lets his stiletto fall to the worktable. Just -- "*Bed*."

And this kiss comes with motion, heat, the *careful* press of his body against Bruce's own, the drag of all of his new scars against the duvet --

Against Barbara's skin --

And turning away from Bruce to have her is the better --

Is this valor? Is this --

What is he *gaining* by pretending he doesn't *need* --

No, no, he doesn't want to think about that, or anything but the feel of her thick hair between the fingers of his right hand --

The feel of his shorts and boxer-briefs sliding down his legs --

"Oh -- Tim -- "

And his arms are still strong, still --

He can pull her close, pull her *over* him, because her breasts have always been sensitive --

"*Beautiful*," Bruce says, and Tim can feel him watching, feel him *studying* the way he had when Barbara was sixteen and Tim hadn't even been able to finish getting out of the *suit* before he had to touch her, stroke her, *taste* --

("Oh -- oh, *ow* --"

"Should. Should I *stop*."

"No! But -- your gauntlets..."

"I'll be... more gentle --"

"*Only* more gentle on my nipples. *Please* --")

He has a lot more control with his *teeth*, and so he nibbles, bites and licks, bites and *sucks* --

And Barbara's growl catches low in her throat, catches hard and *deep*. Her freckles have faded almost everywhere *except* for her breasts, and if Tim were a different person he would lick them all, connect the 'dots' --

("Oh -- truly, it's one of the more worthwhile pastimes one can take *up*, Tim."

"*Thank* you, Clark --"

"If you'd like for me to demonstrate --"

"Clark --"

"It's -- well, it's just that she makes such wonderfully *indignant* sounds --"


"Out of curiosity, Tim, how *much* consideration have you given to the sorts of thoughts that tone of voice tends to put in *my* head?" )

Hours and hours and --

And Barbara cries out and braces herself on her hands, does enough of a push-up that her breasts swing over Tim's face --

Tim *grips* them and licks, suckles -- *shouts* when Bruce wraps his hand around his penis and squeezes *gently* --

When he *strokes* --

His hand --

His hand is never *harder* than it is right before patrol, hours after he would reasonably use moisturizer, hours *before* the gauntlets would leave them softened and sweaty --

Tim *pants* against Barbara's nipple --

Barbara whimpers and *yanks* Tim's hair --

"*Yes*," Tim says and suckles again, *laps* as he licks, as he *works* his lips -- and his fingers on her other nipple.

She begins to rock, to moan *rhythmically* --

And Tim remembers the way Bruce had moved closer and closer that day twelve years ago --

The way his rough, *tortured* breathing had seemed like the loudest thing in the gymnasium --

("Touch -- you. Please *taste* her, brother...")

And Tim had pulled off with a *slurp* --

Pulled off the way he *can't* right now --

Bruce is stroking him *faster* --

("Why don't *you* taste her?")

And Tim can feel the mattress shifting, feel Bruce moving between his legs --

He stops stroking --

Tim chokes on a *cry* -- and can't help but let it out when Bruce spreads Tim's legs wide so *gently*, so *slowly* --


Tim growls --

Barbara *gasps*, and --

And. Tim pulls back and licks his lips --

Tastes her *salt* --

"Please, *one* of you --"

"*Wait*," Tim says, and he's ultimately unsurprised that it comes out in the Voice --

That Barbara *shudders* --

But he can be -- something like *responsible*. "You. You don't have to let me work out my *issues* --"

And that... is Barbara's hand around his throat. Her hand is actually quite small for her frame, and so the hold isn't as effective as it *could* be --

Except that his idiot penis had, of course, twitched for it. "I'm listening," Tim says, through the constriction.

"I just watched Bruce fucking a nineteen-year-old Harvey --"

"What --"

"Shut *up*, Bruce --"

"But --"

Barbara growls -- and eases her grip on Tim's throat --

"I'll explain later," Tim says. "Please continue, Barbara."

"*Thank* you," she says, and squeezes hard again --

Tim *arches* --

She parts her soft, swollen lips --

Tim *wants* --

"Oh -- God, I don't *have* to talk --"

"Do. It. *Anyway*," Tim grits --

And Barbara growls again and digs in against Tim's throat with her nails. "Like I said. You were *adorable*."

"Hnn. Ride me until you come."

Barbara licks her lips. "What about Bruce?"

"The two of you can suck me off... after."

"God, you're such a *bitch* --"

*Bruce* growls -- and his speed is perfect as he catches Barbara by the hair --

As he *yanks* her back into a kiss that looks like the world's most sexually *focused* *mauling* --

Barbara claws his forearms --

Bruce *catches* her wrists in one hand -- and strokes down to her vulva with the other hand, pushes *between* --

She squeaks and *moans* --

Bruce *rubs*, and -- is he massaging? Spreading her lips and exposing her to the air? Pushing in?

It wouldn't be deep --

It *couldn't* be deep in that position --

She's flushing so *dark* --

And Bruce opens his eyes and stares at Tim, stares *into* him and silently calls Tim a tease *while* begging, demanding, *pleading* --

Tim is nodding and *panting* --

He never knows what he's *agreeing* to --

Except that Bruce breaks the kiss --

"*Fuck*, Bruce --"

"I can't wait," he says, and *moves* Barbara until she's over Tim's groin, and Tim's already holding himself --

Bruce is guiding her by the hips --

"Oh -- God, guys, I'm not *sixteen* --"

"You've grown into... such a beautiful woman," Bruce says, and bites her *throat* --

She shouts --

Tim pushes *in* --

She shouts *with* Tim, and Tim bites it off and pants through his nose, *braces* himself --

But her clench still makes him growl, still makes him need to fight, *arch* again --

"*No*, Tim," Bruce says, and holds his legs still --

He was about to bend them up and *use* them --

Use them the way they're supposed to be used at times like these, the way he *needs* to, and Tim knows that this growl makes him sound more like an angry cat than like the Batman, but he can't --

"Just -- just use your *arms*," Barbara says, and there's a plea in her eyes, desperate and --

She's beautiful, she's always *been* beautiful, and he misses the glasses she wore when she was a teenager --

And he misses his mother*fucking* legs --

But he can damned well sit up and grip her hips, which are far heavier and more curved than they were when she was sixteen, which *fill* his hands --

Stephanie --

No, just Barbara right now, and this kiss he can *take* as he lifts her --

As she shouts into his mouth --

As Bruce *grips* Tim's scrotum --

And Tim wants to tell him not to squeeze, not to make him lose --

Lose control --

But he's already *yanking* her into his half-awkward thrusts, already --

She's bouncing and crying *out* into his mouth --

She's clenching --

And clenching --

And --

Tim growls and bites her lip, her chin, her jaw, her ear --


He shoves his tongue in her ear and uses every bit of his strength to make her ride him *faster* --

"Oh --"

*Harder* --

"Oh, *fuck* --"

"I *need* this," he says, and he sounds like a Crime Alley junkie, like a desperate fucking *animal*--

"Brother, *yes*!"

And it only gets worse when Bruce starts to work him, starts to *molest* his scrotum --

Tim cries out and *grips* Barbara's hips --

Barbara shudders and wraps her arms around Tim's neck, shudders and *clutches* --

He --

He has to slow *down* if he's going to last --

Somehow --

He has to slow down and *stop*, *give* Bruce something --

He *always* wants Tim in his *mouth* --

("I've never had your *taste*, brother!")

Tim *flexes* and hears himself sob for it --

Bruce squeezes *hard* --

Barbara *whines*, and that sound does what it always --

It's a stiletto in his *mind*, it's a goad, a whip --

And Tim is growling and releasing her hips --

Yanking her head back by the hair and gripping her by the *jaw* -- "*Ride*!"

Barbara grunts and clenches hard enough to make Tim's vision *blank* --

Tim tries to bend his knees again --

He has to hold her in *place* --

But Bruce is holding him, Bruce is massaging him, *lying* on him --

And the sound Tim makes when Bruce takes Tim's scrotum in his mouth -- is no more embarrassing than the sound he makes when Barbara starts clenching on every down-thrust, no more loud, no more --

God, he's sweating and *writhing* for it, jerking in and in and --

Barbara looks so --

So *soft* --

She's *wincing*, but she's still riding, still --

"*Tell* me!"

She gasps and nods as much as she *can* with Tim's hand in her hair --

She opens her mouth and moans so *loudly* --


She winces again, clenches --

They groan and shudder together, and he has to kiss her again --

She turns out of the kiss, but -- "Good -- so *good* -- *nnh*--"

And the rest of that is a moan, and Tim remembers that she never likes to kiss when she's close to her orgasm, that she always wants to be able to cry out -- to her lover if not to the night --

And Tim is with her on the roof of the Klein building --

And Tim is bending her over the roof of the car --

And Tim is here, *right* here, because her clenches are random and vicious, her clenches are making him groan and *shake* --

She throws her head back --

She screams --

She screams --

She *slumps*, and Tim knows that her orgasm was too fast for her tastes, that she needs -- more.

He lets go of her jaw and pushes his right hand between them until he can rub her clitoris fast and rhythmically while he thrusts --

He still can't slow *down* --

Bruce is *nibbling* on him and *moaning* --

And Barbara nods and cries out, nods and pants and cries out again, again, clenching *purposefully* --

She's so beautiful, so flushed and *beautiful*, and Tim can hold on, Tim *will* hold on --

Somehow --

She's so *slick* --

"I need to *taste* you," Tim growls, and he hadn't even meant to say that *aloud* --

But she *grunts*, shuddering hard and clenching harder for her second, smaller orgasm --

Tim *whines* through it --

And *can't* fight when Barbara shoves him down onto his back. The bounce makes his knee twinge warningly --

But he can't think about anything but *loss* when Barbara lifts herself off him -- except that that only lasts --

"Oh. *Brother*..."

-- for a moment. Bruce *swallows* him --

And then sucks hard while pulling off --

And then swallows him *again* --

"*Bruce* --"

And then pulls *off* again, and Tim is spasming, reaching --

And Barbara takes his hands as she straddles his face --

As she drips on his chin --

His lips --

His cheek his nose his *tongue* --

Their mingled scents --

God, he'd forgotten a *condom*, and the fact that Barbara had chosen to have Clark's monitor-servant surgically remove even the *slightest* possibility of her ever becoming pregnant doesn't *matter*. He's supposed to be more careful, more --

More *neat* --

And perhaps that's a good *enough* reason to be groaning as he rears up to lick, to suck and nuzzle --

"*Oh* -- oh, I wasn't -- ready for -- "

To *growl* as Bruce scrapes Tim's erection with his teeth --

To shove his tongue *deep* once Barbara lowers herself down and down --

She's using *all* of her hand-strength to grip him, which means he can't have her hips, can't *control* this --

But it's better not to be able to, better to just lose himself to the blend of her ejaculate and his own pre-ejaculate, to the slick softness of her inner labia -- no, she likes to be mouthed there, to be *lipped* there --

She grunts and *thrusts*, knocking Tim's head back -- but only slightly. It's enough to make him *buck* --

Into Bruce's mouth --

Bruce's hot, wet, *needy* mouth --

He's still baring his *teeth* --

He wants Tim to *last* longer, but it's not going to happen. It *can't*, because Barbara is *grinding* against his face, *flexing* her hands against Tim's---

Bruce is gripping Tim's thighs so *hard* --

And Tim wants to tell him to push *in* --

He has to know --

It's been so *long*, and Tim can hold himself still, keep his stupid, *stupid* legs --

Bruce is releasing his left leg --

Bruce is sucking his fingers *next* to Tim's penis --

Oh -- yes --

Bruce always *knows* --

"Oh, God, I just *heard* that sound -- I want to *see* --" And Barbara releases Tim's hands, stands, turns around, and *then* lowers herself onto Tim's face again, and now the bridge of Tim's nose is crushed against the vestibule of her vagina --

Now he can make love to her clitoris with his lips and tongue and teeth *easily* --

Barbara *whimpers* and braces herself on Tim's chest --

Bruce pulls his fingers *out* --

And Tim can't keep himself from begging, even though it comes out slurred and incomprehensible --

Barbara whimpers *again*, *bucks* --

And Bruce pushes --

And pushes --

Tim keeps *begging* --

And then Tim *can't* beg, can't *breathe*, can't do anything but *shudder*, because Barbara is pinching and twisting his nipples --

And Bruce is *thrusting*, already *thrusting*, and he usually prefers to *wait*, to make *sure* Tim's had time --

Tim can't make a *sound* --

The burn is so --

He's shuddering and *sucking* Barbara's clitoris --

She's *grinding* against his face, and the burn is impossible, perfect, more right than anything in his life *should* be --

He's not alone --

He's full and he can't breathe and he's not *alone* --

"Tim... come," Barbara says, and *chokes* him again --

And Bruce groans and chokes *himself* --

And crooks his fingers --

And Tim is beating at the bed with his fists --

Straining against *himself* not to kick, not to bend his knees, not to *clutch* at Bruce, keep him, hold him --

He's not alone, but he needs more, he needs *more* --

And then Bruce starts fucking him harder and all he needs is what he has, all --

So --

And Barbara is lying down on top of him and he can't *get* to her clitoris as well anymore --

He's *confused* --

And then *she* grips the thigh Bruce isn't holding and he's not confused, at all, he's --

He's so grateful --

He's *howling* and he's *grateful* --

He's full and he's not alone and he's *grateful*, because he can writhe --

And jerk --

And *spasm* in the heat, the light, the *grinding* pleasure -- but not too much.

He's *safe* --

And somewhat flattened.

And -- extremely sticky. Tim laughs, unsurprised by the hoarseness of it -- and then moans when Bruce pulls off and pulls out. "Bruce..."

"Brother. I... What may I have?"

A part of him wants Bruce to roll him over on his stomach and shove *in*. It's just that that part of him has wanted that since puberty, and doesn't actually pay attention to Tim's physical, intellectual, or emotional realties. Tim taps Barbara's hip with two fingers --

"Some of us are comfortable," she says, and... wriggles.

Bruce hums --

And Tim turns his head enough to bite her inner thigh --

"*Gah* -- *okay*," she says, and rolls to the side to glare at him for a moment before turning to Bruce. "He was *never* any good at afterglow, was he?"

And Bruce is *smiling* as he shakes his head, but he doesn't actually say anything -- and his eyes are wide and more than a little full. Wild. Crazy.

Tim licks his lips and reaches for him --

And Bruce takes Tim's hand and moves almost *arthritically* slowly to cover him, to *shadow* him -- "Brother..."

"Kiss --"

The shocking thing is that the kiss *isn't* brutal, isn't *rough*. It's wet and deep and *hungry* -- and Bruce never closes his eyes, even when he starts to shudder.

Tim closes his own --

Bruce *groans* into Tim's mouth and shudders more, and -- yes.

Tim turns out of the kiss and wraps his arms around Bruce's neck -- "I think Bruce could... use a hand," he says, and *then* turns to Barbara --

Who smiles at him *while* snapping on a glove.

There is an ache in his chest for moments like this one --

Something --

Something heavy and almost *tearful*, even though he's still not *alone* --

Because he isn't?

He doesn't know, but it feels *correct* to kiss Bruce again, to *pull* until Bruce gives him all of his weight --

To kiss deeply and seriously and *repeatedly* the way they almost never *did* when Tim was a teenager, because back then Tim was convinced it was something Bruce could only share with Harvey, the one he *loved* --

("Brother, please, I'll give you *anything*.")

But Tim couldn't ask for years, or confidence, or *faith* --

He can ask for this. He can *have* this: Every *dip* of Bruce's tongue as he makes love to Tim's mouth, every moaning sigh as he bites and sucks -- and thrusts *roughly* against Tim's thigh.

There's a twinge for it every time Bruce grinds --

A more *dangerous* twinge when Bruce pauses for Barbara's push and then *bucks* --

But it would be terrible if he were careful *now*, if he didn't *show* Tim --

But Tim can open his *eyes* --

And Bruce groans louder, more *deeply* --

Bruce shudders --

Barbara *hisses* -- and Tim knows Bruce is clenching for it, that he's just that *hungry* --

His brother.

*His* brother, and he needs another kiss, needs to stroke Bruce everywhere he can reach, needs to blink as rarely as *possible* -- in part to show Bruce everything he's feeling, but mostly to allow Bruce to show Tim what *he's* feeling.

Nearly fourteen years with nothing of the kind --

The emotional equivalent of a *heartbeat* when Bruce had been unsure --

And then twenty-two years of this. Promises made, *apologies* --

No, the *concept* of apology is too small for this, for anything that could make Bruce shake like this and tear the *sheets* as he thrusts with tongue and hips --

As he -- gives.

He wants Tim to *have* everything, and it's not his fault that Tim doesn't always know how to *take* --

"*Brother*," Bruce slurs into his mouth, and Tim nods, *sucks* his tongue, claws his back the way Selina Kyle tends to whether or *not* she's in a good mood --

Bruce bucks again --

Grinds *viciously*, and there is pain for this, but also a needy and a *specifically* wrong kind of pleasure, a twist low in his abdomen that tells him that he'll pay for this --

He *wants* to --

*Needs* to once Bruce starts grunting and thrusting off-rhythm --

Barbara gasps --

*Whimpers* --

And Tim can see her shivering as she throws her head back and bites her lip --

*Both* of her hands are working --

Bruce is less kissing than *nuzzling* Tim's mouth, panting and *groaning* into it as his thrusts gets more and more *ragged* --

Tim knows these moments with all of himself now, knows that there will *be* a moment --

Bruce's eyes haze *over* --

"Brother. *Come*."

And now the thrusts are even more ragged, even more *desperate* as Bruce *tries* to kiss him --

Tim cups Bruce's face and uses his tongue to fuck his *mouth* --

Bruce *shouts* -- and goes absolutely rigid as he begins to ejaculate on Tim's thigh and abdomen. The part of Tim which has wanted the same thing since puberty is yelling about waste.

The part of Tim which will be having more physical therapy in approximately twelve hours is relieved -- and resentful for having to *be* relieved.

He needs -- more.

And one of the many, many wonderful things about making love with Bruce is that 'more' tends to be available, even when Bruce should be doing things like preparing for patrol. Tim turns out of the kiss and pulls Bruce's face against the right side of his throat. Just -- for a moment.

Bruce stiffens in surprise --

But then relaxes all over, giving Tim even more of his weight.

Barbara hums. "A girl could get jealous..."

Tim closes his eyes and smiles. "Alternately, a girl could take vicious advantage of her lover when he's temporarily needy and low of spirit."

Barbara *snorts*. "You're *always* needy and low of spirit, Tim. You're just usually bitchier about it," she says, removing the glove and discarding it before cuddling up to Tim's left side. "So how long will the rest of the family have to wait?"

Tim blinks. "I... you're making me picture a line outside my door."

Bruce kisses Tim's throat. "They would, of course, arrange themselves by age."

"Mm-hmm," and Barbara strokes Tim's calf with her toe. "It's only fair."

"I... I'm not exactly ready... ah. Help?"

Barbara raises an eyebrow at him. "You have *responsibilities* --"

"Barbara," Bruce says, shifting only just enough to be able to meet her eyes. "I don't believe his *penis* has responsibilities."

Barbara shows her teeth. "The kids are young and impressionable, Brucie. They have *needs*. They've been confused and *bereft* without their other parental figure --"

"Oh, God --"

"And, frankly, Tim could use about sixteen more blowjobs to loosen *up*."

And Bruce looks *thoughtful*, which is -- problematic.

"All right," Tim says, and gestures stand-down. "I will admit that I haven't been a marvel of emotional health by -- any stretch of the imagination. I will also admit that I've been in desperate need of intimacy of *all* kinds --"

Bruce chooses then to kiss Tim's throat --

Tim shivers and *moans* --

And the moan goes on. It just --

It *lasts*, and it wasn't a shiver. He's *shaking*, and it's been so long, and he's not *whole*, he can't trust his *body*, he's not *whole*, and he's so lonely, always so lonely, and his mother will --

Will --

"-- you hear me? Brother, *please*!"

Tim blinks and inhales sharply, feeling himself held, feeling himself *sticky*, yes, but warm, and *held*. "I'm here. I'm -- sorry," he says, and thinks about pushing Bruce away so he can sit up -- no.

Not just yet.

He licks his lips and turns to Barbara. "I'm feeling... my inadequacies. I -- no, don't say anything yet, please. These inadequacies are nearly wholly physical, but they're reminding me -- painfully and inevitably -- of the inadequacies I felt twenty-two years ago."

"Brother, leave such things to the *past*!"

"I can't, Bruce," Tim says, and turns back to him. "I -- I'm *haunted*. I have to see these things, and know them. I have to chase them down to and put them all in their places, because I think. I think I never *did* before. I *pretended* I was moving on, and you and our loves -- our *children* -- kept me busy enough that that was *possible*."

Bruce is frowning *deeply*, and --

God, Tim would be *inhuman* if he didn't feel the hurt of that, the *need* for Tim to be someone who can let go of all --

All of that *poison*, but --

"You *know* me, Bruce. You know how I *work* -- and how I don't work, at all," Tim says, and strokes Bruce's cheek.

"My love... there is so much hate I would never expose you to."

Tim smiles ruefully. "I know, Bruce. And... I suspect there are going to be any number of things... well. I'm going to know our family, Bruce. And then, perhaps, they won't have power over me anymore."

Bruce's expression is even more *pained* for a long moment --

And Barbara strokes a light path down over Tim's arm. "I'm not sure it works that way, Tim."

Well, it was a good try. Tim looks down and lets a rueful smile onto his face. "Perhaps not. But..."

"You have to try?" And Bruce lifts Tim's chin and searches his face.

Tim fights back the urge to hood his expression as best as he can -- "Yes."

Bruce closes his eyes for a moment and nods. "Perhaps... you'll look at happy memories, as well."

"That was the plan, yes."

Another nod, and Bruce turns to Barbara. "Will you stay with him?"

"When I'm not patrolling -- or working on my own projects. I planned on suggesting he give the rest of the family history lessons, too," Barbara says, and smiles... diabolically.

Bruce winces. "There is... so much shame --"

Tim holds up a hand. "And our children -- *all* of our children -- have shared their own difficulties and traumas with us, Bruce."

Bruce inhales sharply -- and sits up. "You are correct, of course," he says, and inclines his head to both of them. "You have my apologies."

Barbara's expression gains that precise quirk it tends to get when she's tempted to offer Bruce her hand to kiss. She restrains herself to a nod, as does Tim.

"For my part, I don't think the family will want to see everything I want to see... but I'll leave the offer open. I'll... I won't lock my door," Tim says, and smiles ruefully again.

Bruce sighs, and his breath smells of -- them.

Tim shivers --

And the kiss is gentle, warm --

So *loving* --

But Bruce pulls back much sooner than Tim had expected. He --


"You... will not let me apologize again."

Tim lets his expression be as sour as it wishes to be.

*Bruce* smiles ruefully. "Then let me love you always, brother. Let me..." Bruce shakes his head. "I do not know how to ask for what I need, other than to ask for forever."

And that --

Tim moves Bruce's hand to the place over his sternum where he can most easily feel Tim's heart pound --

Tim doesn't *shutter* himself --

And Bruce's smile grows broad, warm, *happy* -- he nods. "Thank you."

That -- well. Tim reaches out to stroke the bridge of Bruce's nose -- *he* has responded well to Clark's nanotechnology, and so the fact that he's had his nose broken three times over the years doesn't show in the least -- and then down to Bruce's mouth. "You're welcome." He turns to Barbara, and her expression is openly calculating. *Studying*.

She is, perhaps, trying to imagine what it would've been like to grow up with her cousin James, Jr. Even if the man *didn't* have as many psychological issues as he *does* have, he still would've been raised by the woman who hated -- with bad *and* good reasons -- the man *Barbara* still idolizes more than a little. Jim Gordon had, in many ways, exchanged one problematically violent -- if, sometimes, only emotionally -- family for another --

Barbara was raised for the first part of her childhood by alcoholics, then given to a man who *struggled* with the bottle and with the often -- too often -- painfully and *brutally* dangerous world of Gotham City. James, Jr. -- what's left of him -- spent the entirety of his childhood with one of North America's *most* justifiably angry and bitter women...

And they are all the products of their childhoods -- too much.

Far too much. Tim reaches out and cups Barbara's face, stroking her cheekbone with his thumb --

And she hums with a wry amusement. "I'm here. Just... thinking."

"Amazingly enough, I understand how that sort of thing can come to pass."

Barbara holds her wryness for another long moment -- and then leans in to kiss Tim softly. "You need a shower."

And, of course, Tim immediately feels -- everything. It isn't that he didn't feel it before; it's that he feels it all *more* now. Perhaps even more than he *would* feel it... were he not at the end of a rather long day. "I... may need help --"

"Brother, may I --"

Tim sighs, fighting back the *powerful* desire to let it be gusty, long-suffering, and terrifically immature. The fact that he's sighing at all is -- more than enough. "Yes. Let me..." And Tim is capable of sitting up, of swinging his legs over the side of the bed once Bruce moves, of --

His good leg can take his weight, but he's not *supposed* to use it quite this much --

He's not supposed to *favor* his injuries --

Tim growls. "Help me, Bruce."

"Of course --"

"*Just* to stand," Tim says --

Grits his *teeth* --

"For now."

Bruce nods and helps him to his feet easily, smoothly, *gently* --

Tim's shoulders twinge for it, but no more than they *should*, considering what he was doing with Barbara. It's -- all right. He didn't re-injure them. He can *feel* that.

Just as he can feel that he's standing evenly and *correctly* --

That he's *not* about to fall --

He *isn't* --

Tim reaches out -- and Barbara places the cane in his hand. Neither of them ask him how he is --

How much pain he's in --

If he needs anything *else* --

They *know* him, and this allows him to breathe as he walks as easily as he can into the bathroom. He reminds himself that he has not, actually, become even remotely flabby. He reminds himself that the past hour had proven -- conclusively, even -- that he could still be desirable to at least *two* people --

He reminds himself that his scars mark victories over mortality, criminality, *injustice* -- and that works much, much better. Better enough that his next breath relieves him of -- approximately -- eighty-five percent of his tension, which, in turn, relieves him of at least sixty percent of his pain. When he was thirteen, the power of endorphins had astounded him.

Tim is, apparently, still capable of that sort of wonder.

He smiles to himself, leaves his cane by the bathroom door, steps into the shower -- Tim had, before moving in with Bruce, suggested that *all* the bathrooms be made handicapped-accessible just in *case* -- and waits with his hands braced against the tile.

Not long.

While this *isn't* her kink in the slightest, Barbara is clearly amused enough -- or impatient enough -- to join Bruce in the loving and thorough *cleansing* of Tim's body. With her there, the process goes quickly enough that Tim doesn't need the shower chair before he steps out again. Barbara focuses on cleaning *herself* --

And Bruce dries him with *vigorously* gentle care, moisturizes him, and shamelessly tests at Tim's myriad injuries with his fingertips.

Tim doesn't insult either of them by telling Bruce that he's 'all right,' and, eventually, Bruce nods and stands, helping Tim get his robe on, then guiding Tim to the cane with a hand at the small of Tim's back and the promise -- silent and absolute -- that he will not let Tim fall.

Tim makes it back to his wheelchair without incident, settles in, and ignores the small voice which is telling him that all he *really* wants to do is *sleep* --

And watches Bruce strip his bed and begin remaking it with fresh linens, just as he's been doing for the past four weeks. It --

Tim smiles ruefully. "A part of me is... twitchy only because of all the missed chores."

Bruce hums and gives the sheets the perfect military corners Alfred Pennyworth had taught him before *allowing* Bruce to move out of Wayne Manor. Alfred had taught him -- all of them -- *many* things over the years, and sometimes...

Sometimes Tim wonders if the man wouldn't have preferred to leave the manor *with* Bruce... but, in the end, he'd never brought the matter up, and neither had Bruce. He *visits* often, and he's been a wonderful source of advice, information, and *recipes* --

But he's spent the years since Martha Wayne's death helping to turn the Wayne Foundation's community theater program into something every art-centric charity in the country looks to with admiration and not a little *awe*. When he's *not* turning Gotham's youth into the kind of actors -- and set designers, and costume designers, and lighting engineers, and everything *else* -- who can all but write their own tickets, he's living quietly with Leslie Thompkins, and helping her with her clinics.

Far away from Wayne Manor.

Barbara leans in and nuzzles Tim's cheek before moving to help Bruce with the bed. She'd used his body wash, and the combination of *subtly* masculine and feminine scents is enough to make him --



And Bruce picks that moment to look *into* him from over the pillow he's covering. Right.

Tim smiles and shakes his head. "*You* have patrol, Bruce."

Bruce hums *again* --

Continues to *stare* --

And then smiles. "Stephanie has threatened... mayhem if she has to wait much longer for your crepes."

Tim laughs. "That -- is warming."

Barbara *brutalizes* the pillows on the side of the bed she's working on. "Jay says his room 'smells funny' since you haven't been helping him with his laundry."

Tim snorts. "That's because Jay is physically incapable of using enough *detergent* unless someone tells him it's *allowed*."

Bruce blinks.

Barbara -- coos.

"Does he believe that we will... run out? I always try to buy enough --"

Barbara waves a hand at him. "We're talking about a kid who makes everyone pile into the car for a trip to the grocery store when there's a *suggestion* of an empty space in the pantry. There's no such thing as 'enough.' He may or may *not* grow out of that."

Bruce nods thoughtfully and turns to pull a fresh duvet out of the closet. "You understand this well."

"Better than you two rich boys," Barbara says, and raises an eyebrow at Tim. "You miss shopping with him, don't you."

Tim smiles ruefully again. "Badly. The battles between his need to make sure there are enough nutritious foods from every possible food group for every member of this household and his need for Funyuns and pork rinds are awe-inspiring."

Bruce shakes the duvet out over the bed -- perfectly. "I'm still not entirely sure we shouldn't be discouraging him --"


"Tim, he eats those things by the *case*."

"Very true," Tim says, and steeples his fingers. "Were we to try to stop him, however, he would *promptly* remind us of all the *vastly* unhealthy things *we* do."

"But --"

"He would include the *emotionally* unhealthy things, as well, Bruce."

"I... hm. I suppose that would include the rather large amount of intergenerational lovemaking."

Barbara snorts and throws herself back onto the bed, rolling onto her stomach again. She is naked save for the pair of her panties Tim keeps in his own underwear drawer, and she had not washed her hair. The scent of it would be -- no.

Tim lowers the leg-rests on the chair and wheels close enough that he can bury his face in her hair and breathe --

And breathe --

Bruce exhales quietly -- but not quietly enough.

Tim looks up and raises an eyebrow.

"A rather large part of me would like to stay here with both of you."

Barbara grins. "But you can't."

"Hmm. Cruel," Bruce says, and strokes her cheek with his fingertips. "Perhaps you should be punished for such things."

Barbara's grin grows -- sharp. "Perhaps you should make sure you survive patrol."

The light in Bruce's eyes turns *wild* again --

And Tim has no compunctions whatsoever about squeezing himself through the robe. It feels --

It feels good to be this desperate, this -- awake. As if he'd been sleeping -- comatose -- for the past month.

This time, Bruce's exhale is even louder. "Brother. I'm frankly unsure whether to ask you to wait for me or not."

Tim smiles. "You've nearly always been an exceedingly fair man, Bruce."

"Too fair...?"

Tim shrugs with a casualness he could never feel -- and watches Bruce catalog the motion of his shoulders, looking for the pain Tim *doesn't* feel --

Bruce nods with satisfaction. "I will return as soon as I can. I promise you both."

Barbara hums --

Tim inclines his head --

And Bruce gathers the dirty laundry and walks out with it, naked and half-hard and utterly unashamed.

He closes the door behind him.

"When did you know you wanted him?"

Tim smiles. "When did you...?"

Barbara gives him a narrow look. "You already know the answer to that question."

Tim laughs and rests his hand at the small of her back. "You have no idea how much I fumed that *he* was the Batman who got to carry your amazingly *precocious* self away from danger that night when you saved Jim's life."

"I was *fourteen* -- wait, you don't actually care about that. Except that I didn't have *breasts* --"

"Cassandra's breasts remain quite small."

"Or *hips* --"

"You didn't really grow those until you were... mm. Nearly eighteen."

"I *could* break your *other* kneecap."

Tim smiles. Broadly.

And Barbara snorts and *flicks* Tim's knee with her fingers. "Bitch. You're saying you honestly started lusting for me way back *then*."

"Not on a *nightly* basis... but you began making a habit of finding your way onto the roof of Central after that, despite Jim's best efforts to the contrary. It wasn't hard to see what you wanted."

"But you never *encouraged* me!"

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"All right, fine, you *needed* Dad not to sic the entire GCPD on your asses, but *Jesus*, one little *word* wouldn't have *hurt*!"

Which... Tim smiles ruefully and nods, tracing an infinity symbol at the base of her spine. "It's a lesson we've learned since then --"

"I *know* that. It's -- a little jealousy-inducing, actually," Barbara says, blushing and turning -- slightly -- away.

Oh -- no. "Wait," Tim says, and wheels over to the work-table for the controller, setting the machine to show the gymnasium on -- his birthday in nineteen-eighty-six, at four-thirty in the morning.

As always, audio comes before visual. Specifically, the sound of Tim's favorite car at the time -- a *heavily*-modified Chrysolet Thunder which Ivy had used as an impromptu planter some two years later. The spores had eaten through the chassis in *minutes* --

And the visual shows Tim stepping out of the car and peeling back the cowl -- which was hardly armored, at all, at the time. He was twenty-one then, but, to his own eyes, he barely looks eighteen onscreen.

He hadn't even managed to break five feet, nine inches, yet --

And, next to Bruce, he looks -- precisely like himself. Meaning that he looks far too abstracted and grim for the pleasure and *relief* on Bruce's face. It --

"Oh -- this was..." Barbara trails off and shakes her head, pressing her lips together.

Tim had been on the street as the *other* Batman for *nearly* a year at that point, but it must have seemed like an *eyeblink* --


The Tim onscreen peels off his gauntlets, rolls his head on his neck, frowns more deeply --

"I'm fine."

*Bruce* frowns -- "That wasn't in doubt --"


"Tim... what's wrong?"

His inner teenager wants to curse dramatically at Bruce for being able to read him that *easily* --

His inner teenager was a lot *closer* then -- but. Tim wasn't truly angry that night, which is clear enough when the Tim onscreen shakes his head, tilts his head back, and laughs quietly.

Barbara takes a breath --

And Bruce wraps his arms around Tim and presses a soft kiss to his cheek. "Please tell me."

"Mm. She was on Central again tonight."

"Oh... Tim."

"Yes, I *do* hear the forbidding undertones to your voice, Bruce... but."

Bruce squeezes Tim much tighter -- obviously so.

"Didn't that *hurt*?"

"Yes," Tim says, and draws another infinity. "That isn't what you wanted to ask."

"I --" Barbara bites her lip and shakes her head.

"Brother... we can't."

"She wants us to. Badly."

"I... it isn't enough. I don't. I don't think it's enough."

"It was enough for me, Bruce."

"She -- she is not our sister."

And the Tim onscreen frowns *darkly* --

And Bruce *shudders* -- "I want her to be our sister."

"*Yes*, Bruce --"

"We *can't*. We can't simply *take* -- and your growl for this makes me long to give you everything you could ever *think* to desire, brother, but we must show *care*. Mustn't we?"

Barbara shivers as the Tim onscreen narrows his eyes. "*Which* of you is the oldest?"

"Me... whenever I want something he can't give me *instantly*."

Bruce squeezes his eyes shut and nuzzles Tim's *ear* -- "Please, brother. Speak --"

"Turn -- ah. I get the point," Barbara says, and she is flushed dark -- and, perhaps, blushing.

Tim 'homes' the machine instead of shutting it down, and it's entirely unlike looking in a mirror --

Or watching real-time video --

Or anything *sane*, because the angles of the 'cameras,' shift as Tim *thinks* about turning --

"Oh -- God. I'm not going to look at that."

"Perhaps for the best," Tim says, and strokes *up* her spine. "But...?"

She smiles at him wryly. "You still let me work for nearly a *month* without... well."

"Claiming you...?" Tim smiles. "Dinah asked *very* nicely for more time with you."

"Oh -- she -- *what*?"

Tim leans back and spreads his hands. "Bruce owed her a rather exceedingly large favor."

"What about *you*?"

Tim closes his eyes and smiles. "I dreamed of seamed stockings, not fishnets, but..." He opens his eyes again and raises an eyebrow. "I still dreamed of birds."

"Fine. I reserve the right to stay bitter."

"As you say."

"And Bruce sounds better than you when he says that."

"He makes *many* things sou--"

"Don't be jealous of him, Tim."

Tim raises his eyebrow higher. "I'm not thirteen anymore, Barbara."

"You're also not the only detective in the room. You -- you *said* it, Tim. Your injuries are bringing all the old feelings back. Never mind Bruce not deserving your bitterness anymore, *you* don't deserve it. You..." Barbara kneels up, heavy breasts swinging. "Please be happy, Tim. Please *let* us all *make* you happy."

There is -- panic for that, old and unworthy and not small *enough*. "I'm working on it," Tim says, and hopes he's being honest --

And Barbara frowns and nods -- and very clearly pushes the thought aside. "What do *you* want to see tonight? You've been *very* accommodating --"

"I need. I always need you to be happy," Tim says, and forces himself not to *grip* at the wheels --

She looks at his hands for a moment anyway before looking up into his eyes and raising an eyebrow of her own.

"I recognize... that the feeling is mutual."


"I... this," Tim says, and programs the machine for Athens on April third, nineteen-fifty-eight at nine-thirty in the morning. He isn't sure of the exact coordinates, but he has had years to collect significant amounts of material from his parents -- and their loved ones. And 'loved' ones.

Setting the machine to seek out certain biological signatures --

-- gives them the sound of the sea crashing against a shore *distantly*. Closer is the unmistakable sound of a newspaper being folded, and of a china cup being set gently into a china saucer --

And when Martha Wayne sighs with *obvious* bored disgust --

When the viewscreen fills with an image of her twenty-six-year-old self draped in a silk robe and negligee -- both the color of rich cream --

When she crosses her legs -- always so long for her height --

She's beautiful, of course. She --

She's been dead for *eight* years, and he's looking at a ghost --

*Less* than a ghost --

Except that she's filling her bergère chair with grace and style.

Except that her hair is long and black and thick and perfect -- she'd worn it up every *day* for the last five years of her life, but now it hangs free, shining down around her shoulders --

Except that she's Martha Kane Wayne, and her gaze should be burning holes through --

The angle shifts accordingly --

-- Thomas Wayne's copy of Le Monde. *He* is sitting at the small breakfast table, bathed in light from the open French doors. He is fully-dressed in a three-piece suit, and even his mustache is perfect. At thirty-one, there isn't a single grey or white hair in either his mustache or the hair on his head --

And this is a Thomas Wayne who has, perhaps, never even heard the name Janet Evans.

This is a Thomas Wayne who has no children, at all.

This is a Thomas Wayne who could grow into someone who acknowledged all of his children, who reached out and --


"So you *have* decided to move beyond non-verbal communication today."

And Thomas Wayne lowers his newspaper and raises a -- moderately, at this point in time -- bushy eyebrow. His eyes are filled with amusement and *pleasure* --

("Your mother tells me your grades are perfect, Timothy."

"I -- I try to work hard, Mr. Wayne."

"That's the most important thing --")

It *isn't* the most important --

No. No.

*Thomas* has been dead for *eleven* years, and Tim is --

Tim is strong enough for this. He squeezes Barbara's hand -- and *then* becomes aware that he's holding it. He has to do better. He has to --

She squeezes back *hard* -- it's a message.

Tim meets her eyes without even trying to hood his own --

"You don't have to *do* this --"

And Thomas Wayne chuckles, low and familiar and easy. "Or not. Martha, you're welcome to glare at me for the length of our honeymoon -- for the length of our *marriage*, really -- but I believe you'll eventually get a terrible headache."

"Oh, for the love of -- fine. What the *hell* are we supposed to *do* with this marriage, Thomas?"


"Yes, *do*! We can't *stand* each other!"

And Thomas Wayne *hums* the way Tim has never actually heard him -- no. He used to hum fairly often when Tim was a *young* child. It's just...

Had he ceded that particular sound to Bruce?

Had it been his idea of a *gift*?

Tim catches himself leaning forward --

"Oh, never mind, now you're *interested*."

"Hnn. And you aren't?"

"I didn't say --"

"For the record, Martha..."


"I've been in love with you for ten years."
And Thomas Wayne smiles again, smiles *brightly* --

The 'camera' angle shifts with a thought -- yes, there is something of a light *dancing* in the man's eyes --

A happiness Tim had only ever seen in *glimpses*... when the man had been looking at Janet Evans Drake.

Another shift gives him Martha Wayne's expression, which is...

The only word which comes to mind is *acidic* --

And Thomas Wayne hums again. "It's true that I don't like you very much, though. Exactitude is important, don't you think?"

"With absolutely *all* of myself."



Thomas Wayne laughs and takes another sip -- it would be tea. He didn't start drinking coffee until the studies proving its health benefits were published in the eighties. "I was informed that I would never have control of Wayne Enterprises until such time as I produced a suitable -- read: male -- heir, with you and no one *but* you. What did they tell you?"

"Why do you care?"

"I'm curious. Rather desperately so, actually. I didn't think there *was* anything you wanted enough to make you agree to this."

If anything, Martha Wayne's expression gets darker -- and hotter. She has never been Tim's type -- he will *always* prefer women who have scars and the motivation and drive to acquire more of the same -- but in this moment...

Barbara twists her hand free and slaps him. Hard.

Tim coughs. "I never actually *made* it to a lustful thought, Barbara --"

"You're *welcome*."

"I --"

"Freedom. I wanted my freedom -- and you're going to give it to me."

Thomas Wayne blinks and raises *both* of his eyebrows, setting his teacup down. "Is this... was it something to do with all of your little jazz parties and the like?"

Martha Wayne bares her *teeth* -- but only for a moment. "Tangentially, only, Thomas. I was informed, in no uncertain terms, that I would either marry you on April first of this year -- a traditional wedding date in the Kane family --"

"Yes, I know --"

"Don't ever interrupt me again."

Thomas Wayne's nostrils flare -- and he inclines his head.

Martha does the same. "If I *didn't* marry you, I would be carted off bodily to a certain 'rest home,' drugged to the tits, electrocuted -- therapeutically, of course -- and locked in a small, dingy room to await the repetition of the process... until such time as I agreed to marry you."

"That... that's *barbaric*!"

"Oh, you think so...? Well, so did I. When I expressed this belief, my father invited a weedy little man in a -- dingy -- doctor's coat into his study. He was braced by two Swedes who were anything *but* weedy, and, well... his point was made. Curiosity satisfied?"

Tim -- shudders. And watches Thomas Wayne gape at his new wife as the Mediterranean sun glances highlights off their dark hair --

As Martha Wayne stares back *patiently* --

"They... really did things like that back then."


"What -- didn't Edward Kane die mysteriously?"

Well... Tim wheels himself to the fruit bowl, then brings it back to the bed. He sniffs the Anjou pear -- one of his favorites -- but can't quite bring himself to bite into it, yet. He --

"Tim --"

"He burned to death."

"Oh -- God --"

"On Martha Wayne's first wedding anniversary."


"In his study... where not one item of furniture was even singed."

"She -- that's not *subtle* --"

"No, it isn't," Tim says, and bites down -- tart sweetness, the faint creaminess which speaks of the fruit being the precise ripeness he prefers. He swallows --

"Why didn't you *tell* me?"

Martha Wayne snorts -- and then begins to laugh somewhat hysterically.

"Wait, wait, *pause* that -- *can* you pause that? Without leaving the... scene?"

"Possibly," Tim says, and thinks very hard about it --

The viewscreen stills on an image --

It looks like Martha Wayne is screaming.

It looks like Thomas Wayne is about to *vomit* --

Well, that's accurate enough. Tim turns to Barbara. "Yes?"

"That... is *really* -- all right, I'm not looking," she says, and turns to him. "*Bruce* said his mother didn't get involved with Jason Blood until after your father had been involved with *your* mother for a while."

"How *exactly* did he phrase it?"

Barbara opens her mouth -- and closes it again. And winces. "'Mother's companionship with Jason Blood didn't *truly* begin until...' et cetera, et cetera." She frowns. "Is he really *still* in denial about that?"

Tim spreads his hands again. "Bruce loved his mother very much. And, in truth, it's difficult to say *what* sort of relationship Martha Wayne had with Blood --"

"Bull. Shit."

"Hnn. Here's what I -- currently -- know for certain: Thomas Wayne began a sexual relationship with Janet Evans when she was nineteen years old... and when Martha Wayne was twenty-eight. The question becomes how one defines 'a while.'"

"The *question* is how old Martha was on her first *anniversary*."



"I did plan to look in on her relationship with Blood eventually."

"Do it -- hm."

"Yes, Barbara?"

She bites her lip and sits back on her heels, scratching a thin line between her breasts with the nail on her index finger. "That seems... dangerous. More dangerous than the rest of this, I mean."

"If all else fails, we'll remind Blood that he doesn't want to upset *Bruce*."

Barbara snorts. "God, that's -- so much *sicker* than it *used* to be."

"Not really. It was *always* rather impressively twisted."

"I -- did he screw Bruce's grandfather, too? His great-grand-aunt?"

"The family horse, perhaps?"

Barbara chokes and slaps him again --

And Tim grins. "I have no idea. And I wasn't planning on asking. Shall we?"

She gestures at the viewscreen with a flourish. "Let's."

Tim focuses on the viewscreen and *thinks* about it --

And Martha Wayne is laughing --

Wheezing --

Coughing --

Wheezing *more* --

"Martha, really, you've made your point. I am not *wholly* ineffectual --"

Martha Wayne *hoots* -- and flaps her right hand at Thomas Wayne while rubbing at her upper chest through the negligee with her left. "One -- hmm. One moment, please."

"Take your time."

"Oh, and now you're *offended*. Mm. You always did have your adorable moments, Thomas."

"Was that a compliment?"

Martha Wayne smiles -- brilliantly. There's even a hint of softness to it, and for a moment Tim can only wonder how she's *managing* that --

"It's probably the closest thing to a compliment you'll get from me *today*... so."

"Hmph. Noted. Martha, I never would've agreed --"

"Oh, *save* it, Thomas. It's not that I *don't* think you're noble enough to have struck out on your own and hung your shingle in some picturesquely shabby part of our fair city... but that just means that I would've been tasked to *convince* you to marry me."

"Father isn't --"

"*Think* about for a moment, would you...? Please...?"

And Thomas Wayne's expression turns *dark* --

Martha Wayne raises a delicately-shaped eyebrow --

And Thomas Wayne takes a deep breath before nodding. "Father, as dearly as I hold him in my esteem, had a rather unseemly determination that the Wayne family fortune be combined with that of the Kanes."

"As *my* father was determined... and so on. I was *vastly* tempted to get myself thoroughly impregnated by someone thoroughly *unsuitable* before the wedding, but, well, my father made it clear that *you* were more than capable of performing abortions."

"I would *never* perform an abortion on an unwilling --"

"Oh, *relax*. He *also* made it clear that you had gathered something of a *coterie* of abortionists around you --"

"You needn't make it sound so sordid, Martha. It's an important and criminally overlooked medical procedure --"

"Yes, yes. If you ever knock me up *after* you -- somehow -- manage to sire a son on me, I promise to give you *lots* of practice at it."

Thomas Wayne glares at Martha Wayne.

Martha Wayne pours herself a cup of tea, adding two lumps of sugar and the same surprisingly large amount of cream she used over the course of her entire life. She stirs her tea slowly and thoroughly --

And Thomas Wayne blinks and turns away, breathing roughly.

Martha Wayne sips her tea, looks thoughtful for a moment, sips again, and then sets her tea down again. "I prefer Lady Grey, for the record."

"I will remember that."

She smiles -- warmly. "I believe you about that, you know. I've never... mm. I've always known you were... conscientious."

"You need not compliment me --"

"Oh -- you're about to fall into a *welter* of guilt about our relative levels of suffering and obligation, *aren't* you."

Thomas Wayne blinks -- and then looks up again, obviously searching her for cues and clues.

She sighs. "I'll make it easy for you, darling: What's done is done, and you are now my lawfully-wedded husband. One day you'll have *absolute* control over Wayne Enterprises and my father will be -- painfully, one hopes -- dead. On *that* day --"

"I will not fight -- I will give you whatever you wish in the divorce."

Martha Wayne blinks rapidly, lifting her sharp chin. "You... mean that, too."


"Even if I *don't* give you a son."


"Even if we never so much as *touch* each other --"

"I did not commit rape in the first thirty-one years of my life, and I have no intention of beginning to do so now."

Martha Wayne licks her teeth, then leans back and crosses her legs. She frowns, and studies Thomas Wayne openly.

"Please. Ask."

"Tell me about this 'love' you have for me, Thomas."

Thomas Wayne laughs, obviously surprised and pleased. All right. You are the most beautiful woman I have ever met. You're brilliant, witty, stylish, bold, and never -- ever -- at a loss for words. This has been true since you were *sixteen*. It may have been true before then, but I did not know you at that time -- and I am frankly glad that I didn't, for reasons that I'm sure you'll find obvious enough...?"

"Oh, yes. Intriguingly perverse, too -- and there's the frown. Let's see. I'm also catty, mean-spirited, frivolous, inclined toward becoming intoxicated on various substances... what else?"

"I believe you are... unstable."

"Oh, yes, that's entirely true. It runs -- wild -- in the Kane family, as you'd know if...?"

"I did, in fact, study your family history -- and present it to Father with a list of my objections to our marriage."

"But he was having none of it?"

Thomas Wayne inclines his head. "Psychiatry is no longer merely a hobby for drug-addled dilettantes --"

"Like me...?"

"If you'd like. I... I find myself worried about any child we would make together, Martha."

She closes her eyes and smiles with something which looks like rueful *pain* --

"You understand."

"Yes, Thomas, I do."

"Do you... do you *wish* to have a child?"


Thomas Wayne takes a quick, deep breath. "Then --"

"You will not have control of Wayne Enterprises -- or the Kane fortune -- until I give birth to a son."

"Martha --"

"Thomas. Think about it. Please."
And she opens her eyes and looks at him again, grey-blue eyes wide and full --

"Oh -- God, *pause* it, Tim!"

Tim does --

And Barbara covers her face with her hands. She's covered in gooseflesh. She --

Tim transfers to the bed and pushes and pulls until he can wrap the duvet around her --

"You can't let Bruce see this --"


"You can't let Bruce *know* this, Tim!" And she moves her hands and *glares* into him -- but there is more horror than anger in her expression.

Tim hugs her through the blanket. "He's already aware that the last thing Martha Wayne wanted to do before she was thirty was have a child --"

"That -- that's not the *same* --"

"He is also already aware... Martha Wayne *told* him a great deal --"

"God, that's so *wrong* --"

"I know --"

"*Do* you? *Christ*, Tim, they're on their honeymoon planning their *divorce*! And -- we *all* know how Bruce felt about his mother. How he *still* feels about her!"

"I think she's doing rather well for herself, considering --"

"Oh -- God. I keep forgetting you were raised by *wolves*," she says, and her laugh is cracked and *hurt*. "Where's Dick when you need him?"

"Presumably turning a routine patrol into something spectacular --"

"*Tim* -- are you really not seeing -- no. *Tell* me what you're seeing. Please?"

Tim frowns and nods. "I see two -- flawed -- people who had a limited number of choices available to them because of choices they'd made earlier in life -- and because of choices they had no hand in, at all. They're in the process of making the best of it, and they're about to choose to make, between them, one of the greatest men I've ever known or am ever likely *to* know. They're not... they're not the best people in the world. They're not... I still don't know why Thomas Wayne treated me the way he did, beyond the gross facts of how he defined the word 'correct.' I still don't know what, precisely, drew him away from Martha Wayne and toward Janet Evans. I don't know --"


"Barbara. What do you want me to say?"

*Barbara* frowns at him, searches him *deeply* --

"It's all right --"

"I don't. I don't think it is," Barbara says, and laughs quietly before shrugging off the duvet and hugging him hard. "I have to believe you're getting something you need from this --"

"I am --"

"I have to believe it's not hurting you *more* --"

"I'm not -- but I think I'll just avoid saying something patently ridiculous," he says, and pulls back to smile ruefully -- and hopefully invitingly -- at Barbara.

She bites her lip again and nods. "Don't do this alone, all right? Not -- not the parent stuff."

"I can hardly take you away from your projects and patrol *every* night --"

"No, you can't, and you're *already backsliding*! You said you'd share with the family!"

Tim winces. "I -- yes. It's entirely possible that I'm imagining them reacting to this sort of thing even more poorly --"

"*You don't need us to like them*. *Any of them*."

"I think. I think I do."

"Oh... Tim..."

Tim laughs somewhat painfully. "It's -- all right. It's all right."

"No, it really isn't."

"You're right, it isn't, but..."

"Tim --"

"Wait," Tim says, and sits back slightly, rubbing at his eyes -- no, he doesn't need to do that. He also doesn't need to pinch the bridge of his nose or cover his face with his hands or --

"I'm waiting."

He smiles, knowing it's crooked and weak. "I need -- I've always needed to understand them. More than anything else --"

"No, you needed them to *love* you --"

"Well -- all children need that sort of thing --"

"'That sort of thing.'" Barbara's laugh is a *pained* scoff. "Tim."

"Barbara," Tim says, and cups *her* face. "If I can understand them, then I can... have them."

She frowns. "What does that mean?"

"It means... ah... virtual intimacy, perhaps? All right, that sounds terrible outside the dank fastnesses of my *mind*, but --"

"No -- no. I think I get it. I think..." She frowns more deeply. "It's the only intimacy you can have with them now."

"Or... ever."

She bites her lip -- but only for a moment before nodding. "It's -- I'm going to explain this to the rest of the family --"

"You don't have to --"

"I really do, because I can *translate* for you, and that's *necessary*."

"Is it so --" No. No. "Never mind."

"No, what -- oh. *Yes*, Tim, it's *exactly* that strange!"

Tim laughs again and uses his arms to swing and pull himself back against the headboard. "I'm *not* the only one who's ever wanted to understand more about their bizarre, poisonous and -- occasionally -- actively abusive parental figures."

"No -- no, you're not. But you're the only one who'd do it *this* way. No one. No one opens those bedroom doors by *choice*."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"They don't turn on *kliegs* after they do it!"

"Are you --"

"I'm *sure*!"

Tim hums. "I think I'd like more data."

"I think I'd like to *stab* you for every single conversation you've ever had with Lex Luthor."

("Darling --"



And Lex had been surprised and *predatorily* amused as he spun back and forth in his chair. They'd been in his sun-drenched -- but *ruthlessly* UV-filtered -- office, and he'd been backlit to an extreme --

Tim Drake, businessman, never, ever takes his sunglasses off in Metropolis ---

("Why not...?"

"Because I just buried Martha Kane Wayne, and there are only so many vaguely incestuous memories I can take at any given time.")

And Lex had *coughed* his way through a snort --

("All right, now I have *two* things to apologize for. You *do* know what I tend to do to people who leave me in that position, don't you?")

And the *Batman* had smiled *briefly* --

And the world's most *attractive* -- to him, and his opinion *does* matter from time to time -- supervillain had smiled *back* --

And then Tim Drake and Lex Luthor had gotten down to the more *public* sorts of business for an entirely fruitful ninety minutes before breaking for a lunch date full of silent promises and invitations and --

All of the things that they can never actually have, short of the sort of détente even Bruce has stopped hoping --

Tim catches Barbara's wrist before she can nerve-strike him --

Blocks her jab --

Yanks her *close* --

"*Tim* --"

"I'm repressed. Unfortunate sexual thoughts are... only to be expected."

She narrows her eyes.

"Would you prefer me thinking about Martha's beauty again?"

"She's not -- wait. I can't actually decide whether she's better or worse than Luthor."

Tim smiles. "She has a lower body count."

"True --"

"As far as we know."

Barbara gives him a *horrified* look --

And Tim laughs softly and kisses her knuckles. "I love you. I will not backslide. I only *occasionally* want Lex to fuck me. Feel free to inoculate the rest of the family against my insanity. Let's watch more."

She twists her hands free and slaps him again. "You should let more of the nerve-strikes land, by the way. *That's* going to bruise."

Tim hums and tilts his head back against the headboard... and presses against the heated place on his cheekbone with his fingertips. "So it will."

She snorts again and smiles at him fondly, and --

"Stay with me tonight. I -- please."

She blinks --

"Or --" Tim laughs and shakes his head. "I'm sorry --"

She *shoves* his fingers against the rising bruise. "You never ask."

"I --" He doesn't.

He doesn't.

He -- "I prefer... I prefer to know, with all of myself, that people are staying with me by choice."

"I... can understand that."

Tim smiles ruefully. "I promise to be less of a mess *eventually* --"

"I never needed you to be my father, Tim."

"But did you --"

"A Daddy, every now and again, is something different," she says, and raises an eyebrow. "And you *know* that."

"I -- yes, I do. Bruce is --"

"Bruce is hairier, stronger, and has a deeper voice. He could never be as *mean* as you. And you know what all of those things are worth."

He *does* -- "I. Again --"

"We're not letting you be alone for a good, long while. You know that, right?"

"Barbara --"

She shakes her head and mimes rolling up the sleeves she isn't wearing before curling against his side. "Let 'er rip, Daddy."

"You're tempting me to blush --"

"*Do* get that out of the way *before* Martha starts talking again."

Tim -- coughs. "Noted." He focuses --

And the Mediterranean crashes against the shore --

And the drapes whisper against the walls --

And Thomas Wayne makes a pained noise. "There must be another way --"

"Must there? I suppose it's *possible* we could convince the old monsters that a daughter would be suitable *enough*."

"I've never --"
Thomas Wayne clears his throat. "I have always felt that women can produce equal contributions to the fields of medicine and business --"

"Yes, yes. *Are* you fucking the Thompkins woman?"

"That really isn't any -- hm. But you *are* my wife."

Martha Wayne shows her teeth. "I believe you answered my question sufficiently well, just the same."

"She isn't -- Leslie and I are friends --"

"Are you trying to reassure me, Thomas...?"

"It... seemed the thing to do,"
and Thomas Wayne colors faintly. There is laughter in his eyes once more. "She will never be a threat to our marriage. Certainly not more of one than *we* are."

Martha Wayne's laughs is delighted, and makes her look like a teenager -- perhaps like the teenager Thomas Wayne had fallen in love with, considering the brief wash of *hunger* over his features.

"Oh... my."

"Hnn. We know Bruce wasn't conceived *that* day... but."

Barbara giggles. "I will admit..."


"If it wasn't for the mustache..."

Tim hums. "Should I slap you?"

Barbara *snickers* --


Thomas Wayne leans back and shakes his head, smiling wryly. "You are, as I've said, a remarkably beautiful woman."

Martha Wayne tilts her head to the side, undoubtedly aware of what it does for the fall of her hair, the play of light on her perfect skin --

And Thomas Wayne hums. "I am, of course, offering no --"


"Nothing of the sort."

She purses her -- unpainted, this morning -- lips. Thoughtfully.

"Please ask."

"Did you want my voice, Thomas?"

"There is a music to it... I find I much prefer it to the sort of thing your generation is *calling* music these days."

"It's *your* generation, too --"

"Five years makes a difference --"

"And I told you not to interrupt me."

Thomas Wayne's nostrils flare. "You have my apologies."

"And if I don't want them?"

"Then perhaps you'd let me give you something... else."

She smiles... and folds her hands on her softly curved abdomen, inviting --

And Thomas Wayne lets his gaze... move on her. Briefly.

She nods once. "You're discreet."

"The alternative is distasteful."

"Is it?"

"To me, yes. And, I believe, to you, as well."


He narrows his eyes in a smile. "While it is known that you *are*... active, there is not one *reliable* source who can say with whom."

"And you've made it your business to ask."

"Of course... wife."

"That's terribly untrusting... husband."

"Some would say a certain cynicism is becoming. Charming."

"Would you?"


Martha smiles slightly more widely and rolls her right foot on her ankle, clockwise, then counterclockwise. "Then I suppose I should say something about how obvious it is that you're trying to use a certain amount of my... persona in order to seduce me."

"I may simply be --"

"No, Thomas."

"Hmm. Very well. I consider myself a scientist, Martha. Scientists are not known for their tendency to rely on methodology which has failed them in the past."

"And so you're trying something new...?"

"I wonder... if I could ever shock you."

Martha Wayne laughs then, bright and pleased -- but her expression is curious.

And her nipples are erect under her negligee.

And --

And they are, for the moment, simply staring into each other's eyes.

"Oh... wow."



Tim takes a deep breath and turns to kiss Barbara's temple. "I'm listening."

"This is where a sane person would stop watching."

"Almost certainly."

Barbara breathes, low and *ragged* --

Tim touches the tip of his *tongue* to her temple --

And she giggles and shoves her small, hard hand beneath his robe --

And Thomas Wayne stands, tall and dark and *backlit* --

And Tim *yanks* Barbara's panties away from her vulva --

"Oh --"

"Mm. I suppose you are *something* of a magnificent specimen..."

"I'd rather not be displayed in the Gotham Natural History museum until some time after my death, Martha, but if you think it would add..."

"'Spice,' Thomas...?"

Thomas Wayne offers Martha Wayne his hand. He's still smiling, but the light in his eyes has a sharpness, a *hardness* Tim can't help finding familiar and strange at once, *difficult* --

As difficult as Barbara's calluses on his erection --

As strange as the scent of someone else in this bed has *become* --

As familiar as pleasure, the sound of Barbara's *swallowed* moans --

She's trying to be *quiet* --

And Martha Wayne stands with the grace of a dancer *before* resting her hand in Thomas Wayne's --

It's so small --

And Tim remembers how soft it *always* was --

And Tim remembers the *ruthless* care Thomas Wayne always took with his own hands --

"Were you planning to wear all of that to bed, darling...?"

"It *is* my favorite suit..."

"We'll buy you better ones,"
and Martha Wayne easily unknots his tie --

And Thomas Wayne shrugs off his jacket -- and pauses.

"What *is* it?"

"I'm thinking, once more, of shocking you."


It's a *dancing* hard light in Thomas Wayne's eyes -- "You could consider it an experiment."

"Darling, if you're going to bring test tubes into our bedroom, we really *are* going to have to -- *oh* -- "

Martha Wayne looks even smaller in Thomas Wayne's arms than she had standing in front of him. Tim is reasonably sure it *shouldn't* work that way -- or.

He doesn't know. He --

Barbara is *squeezing* him --

And Martha Wayne is frowning. "I *don't* put up with this sort of treatment from just *anyone*, Thomas."

"I assure you, Martha, you will not be in the air for long,"
And he walks *quickly* into the bedroom --

And *tosses* her down to the bed --


"One moment, please,"
and he removes his slim, leather belt -- but nothing else. He holds the belt between his hands and raises an eyebrow.

"Oh, *really*."

"You're blushing, Martha."

"It *happens*."

"It's beautiful. I don't hold with that particularly vulgar adage about how one should go about treating 'queens' and 'whores.' I believe all women should be treated as individuals --"

"*Very* interesting. Really."

"Let me tie your wrists. Please."

Martha Wayne... blinks.

"The first shock...? I would very much like more."

"I'm not... unfamiliar with this sort of thing."

"That makes things... easier. Or it could, if you let it."

Martha Wayne narrows her eyes. At this angle, in this *light*, her breasts seem to *heave* --

But she is only twenty-six, and she has never given birth. Her breasts are no larger than a A-cup. She --

Barbara is panting and licking her lips --

Barbara is *growling* under her breath --

And Tim realizes that he's *teasing* her, only just *barely* dipping his fingers into her vagina before pulling out again --

Pushing in --

Pulling out --

Pushing --

"What *exactly* do you intend to do to me, Thomas?"

"Shock you... in several hopefully pleasurable ways."

"Be *specific*."

"No, I will not."

Martha Wayne glares at him for a long, *hot* moment -- and then she snorts, and bites her lip, and snorts *again* --


"Oh -- oh, darling, you have to give me a *moment*. I never *predicted* this!"

"There are more things under heaven --"

"Oh, yes. And there's a great, *big* thing under your *pants* --"

"Let me --"

"Don't *interrupt* --"

"*Let* me. And I will please us both."

She inhales sharply --

"Oh, Jesus, come *on*..."

Tim pushes *deep* --

"No! Not yet!"

Tim *grunts* and pulls out again, *teases* --

Barbara *shivers* --

And so does Martha Wayne in the moments before she holds out her slim, pale wrists.

Thomas Wayne doesn't hesitate. The belt is around her wrists in moments, and he more than has the strength and dexterity to punch a new hole in the belt to keep it tight. He winds the tail of the belt around his fist --

And *jerks* Martha Wayne up onto her knees --

She grunts and *glares* again --

"You've never had any difficulty speaking up for yourself, Martha, and I do not expect you to begin to have such difficulties now. If you *don't* like something I do, you *will* tell me so... after you've duly considered it."

"Were you planning on *taming* me, Thomas...?"

He tilts his head to the side. "Do you think that's possible --"


"Then no. But I welcome your curiosity, as it gives me a great deal of hope for this marriage,"
and he *drags* her along the bed --

"Oh --"

Loops the tail of the belt through the upper part of the headboard and ties it *off* --

And then leaves the room. Leaves --

"Tim! *Follow* him!"

"I --" He can do that. But --

Martha Wayne is almost *sprawled* on her left hip, arms stretched over her head and legs --

Long legs --

She's *panting* --

She's *growling* -- ""*Thomas*!"

"I *would* apologize for that... hm... caesura, but experience has taught me that a certain degree of artificially-created passion --"

"Thomas. Jonathan. Wayne."

Thomas Wayne chuckles and walks back in range of the 'cameras' -- with a pair of surgical scissors in his right hand.

"What -- why the *hell* did you pack *those*?"

"Oh... call it the persistence of hope. I've wanted to cut you out of your clothes --"

"Since I was sixteen?"

"I wonder,"
he says, and begins slicing a path up through what may be the exact center of the back of her robe, if I should continue to let *you* interrupt *me*."

"You don't have a choice. Answer my question!"

"You were wearing a *deeply* conservative... oh, such lovely embroidery. Hm. We'll have it remade for you --"

"So you can *destroy* it again?"

"Perhaps. As I was saying, you were dressed quite conservatively. A gown that would've been entirely appropriate on your mother, or even your grandmother."

"Oh -- God. I *remember* that awful thing. Of *course* *you* liked it --"

"I lied. Well, implied an untruth. I did not want to *cut* you out of it,"
and Thomas Wayne *rips* the robe the rest of the way open --

"You wanted to tear it off. I see. I suppose you *are* repressed enough -- *nnh* --"

"How *many* men have you allowed to spank your lovely posterior, Martha? Shock *me*."

"You haven't even *seen* it, yet --"

"No, but I'm about to --"

"Don't -- nnh -- *NNH* -- *Thomas*!"

"Do answer my question. I'd like to develop a baseline for your sexuality.

Martha Wayne growls and twists away from Thomas Wayne's hands --

And he *puts* her on her knees at the center of the bed.

She pants --

"Oh -- *God*, he shouldn't be reminding me of *Bruce* --"

"I disagree," Tim grits and tries not to thrust into her *fist* --

Barbara squeezes *harder* --

Tim closes his eyes --

And misses whatever it is that makes Martha Wayne *gasp*. He can't --

He *needs* --

He *focuses* --

And the 'cameras' zoom in on the surgical scissors *dimpling* the flesh at the base of Martha Wayne's *spine* --

And then Thomas Wayne drags them down --

And down --

The blades dip between her *buttocks* --

"Oh, *fuck* --"

Martha Wayne is *shuddering* --

"I believe... that you'll want to stay rather more still than that, Martha."

"Oh -- God, you -- what --"

"Another shock?"

Martha Wayne's laugh is breathless, explosive -- and cut off with another gasp when Thomas Wayne tears open the negligee, baring her --

God, he's staring at Martha Wayne's *ass* --

And it's precisely as pale, creamy, and *heart-shaped* --

Tim hears himself *growling* --

"Oh, God, I can't even *blame* you for wanting to fuck that."

"I don't --"

"Stop *lying*!"

Tim coughs a laugh --

Groans and *arches* --

And Thomas Wayne --

*Thomas* starts spanking *Martha*, *Thomas* does it, and doesn't he know the man well *enough* at this point?

Isn't it --

*Shouldn't* it be allowed?

At least in his own fucking *head*?

"How many men, Martha? A good wife would answer that question..."

"Hnh -- nnh -- Thomas --"

"You'd like to be a good wife, wouldn't you? A *worthy* wife --"

"*Fuck*, no!"

Thomas pauses --

And Barbara splutters, hand *spasming* on Tim's penis --

"*Barbara* --"

"You can't *blame* me -- oh, look at his *face*!"

The focus is immediate and comes with the clarity of *crystal*. Thomas is the picture of consternation -- and rueful amusement. "Not even for the sake of a game, Martha?"

"Not. Even. *Then*."

"Then... you can be my *reluctant* wife,"
and he spreads her thighs --

She is pink and swollen and *wet* --

"Thomas --"

"Even your scent... but I always knew you would be exquisite. Let's try this,
And he pushes his left thumb *deep* --

"Rather -- rather *abrupt* --"

"I will not believe you if you tell me that you haven't taught yourself to appreciate such things --"

"I *haven't* taught myself to appreciate them from *you*."

"No. But... jazz singers? Trumpet players, perhaps? Cannabis salesmen?"

"All of the above, and *then* some -- *ohn* -- *Thomas* --"

"Your clitoris is quite large for such a petite woman. One wonders about your testosterone levels --"

"What are you *babbling* about?"

"How *often* must you shave to stay so attractively sleek, Martha?"

The noise she makes is affronted and nearly *deep* --

And Tim can't *tell* what Thomas is doing with his fingers, can't --

But the focus shifts --

The *zoom* grows *intense* -

And the view is perfect, heated, *shadowy* with Thomas' working fingers on her -- large -- clitoris --

"Tim, you *pervert*!"

Thomas is *massaging* it --

She is --

She is *just* as wet as Barbara is --

She is grunting and *moving*, and the 'cameras' move *with* her, *follow* her as Thomas --

Manipulates --

"Are you ready, Martha?"

"Mm -- nn -- what will you do if I say *no*?"

"Redouble my... efforts,"
and Thomas begins working his fingers *quickly*, nearly *vibrating* them --

Martha cries out --

Again --

*Again* --

"Oh -- oh -- wider view! Wider view!"

Tim pants and focuses --

In time to see Martha throw her head back and start to *yank* at the belt as she shudders --

Thomas *grunts* -- "Not quite yet, Martha," and he pulls out and begins to *spank* her outer labia --

"Oh my *God* --"


"I'm afraid I'm going to leave the tissues somewhat inflamed... are you accustomed to that, as well?"

"*No*! I mean -- I --"

"You're tempting me to bring you to orgasm as often as possible, Martha, which, again, bodes well for our marriage --"

"*Fuck* me!"



And Thomas chuckles... and starts spanking her harder, but no faster.

"And I can finally see the family resemblance -- *HNH* --"

"I believe it was necessary for you to feel *three* fingers for that, Barbara."

"Oh -- oh -- fuck. Uh. Uh. Please?"

Tim licks his lips --

Watches Martha yanking on the belt --

Watches Thomas gripping Martha's right hip with one hand --

Holding her in *place* --

"Stop stroking me and play with your breasts."

"Tim --"

"*Now*," Tim says, using the Voice --

And Barbara's moan is long and loud --

"And don't. Say. Another. *Word*."

She *grunts* --

*Martha* grunts -- and whines. She --

Tim focuses --

The angle shifts to show her biting her lower lip, show her flushed and sweating, hair curling at her temples. And now Tim *wants* to have looked in on her past before this point, wants to know how much of this *is* familiar.

Dark brown hands on her hips?

Her breasts?

Her throat?

("No offense, Batman --"

"John. If I'm going to call you by *your* first name...")

And John had laughed that *deep* laugh, the one that always seems designed to make Tim's sternum *thrum* --

("I suppose I *should* call you Tim, then, yeah. But."


"Like I said, no offense... but that kinda makes me wonder if you're about to put the moves on me."

"Ah... hm."

"What with the way you tend to relate to everyone *else* who gets your first name and all.")

And John had grinned at him *wryly*, eyes glowing *vividly* green...

And Tim had finally laughed and shaken his head.

("I won't say I've never been tempted..."

"Whoa --"

"... but I think I can contain myself around your ever so *powerful* masculinity if you can restrain yourself around mine.")

John had *coughed* -- and clapped Tim's shoulder through the suit.

("You got a deal.")

There are other men -- and other women, too.

There are --

There is Barbara, and the *vicious* clench of her vaginal muscles as Tim shoves as deep as he can --

There is *Martha*, and the shine of her sweat in the morning sunlight, the *glow* of it on her flushed skin --

So *pink* --

But *not* as pink as her outer labia, not as --

She isn't *shaved* there, and that suits the time period, but it also feels like a *tease* --

And the focus zooms in hard and *deep*, showing the flush *through* her dark, thick hair --

Showing the *shiver* of the flesh after every one of Thomas' spanks --

So *hard* --

So --

Barbara whimpers and squirms --

"Stay *still*."


And Tim uses his free hand to claw his own penis, to *pinch* it when it twitches -- giving himself that same bright *flare* of feeling he's loved since he was pubescent --

And then he begins to *twist* his fingers inside her, begins to use the position and his own force to *stretch* --

She whimpers --

And the outline of Thomas' erection is no more visible -- no less *tangible* -- than Tim's need for more, for --

A kind of *completion* --

"We could converse more..."

"Mn -- about. About *what*?"

"The upcoming Congressional elections come to mind --"

"Bought -- bought and *sold*!"

Thomas's sigh is exaggeratedly disappointed. "Cynicism in the young is --"

"*Charming* --"

"And desperately sexually attractive."

Martha pants --

And Tim isn't even aware of focusing before the angles shift and he's watching an expression of purest calculation come over her features. Her eyes are narrow and *hotly* thoughtful, her lips are swollen and tight at once --

Tim twists *harder* --

"*Please* -- *fuck* -- sorry --"

"Twist your nipples *exactly* as hard as I would."

"Oh --" But Barbara clamps her teeth shut on whatever word would've come next, pinches and *pulls* her nipples, and then twists them in opposite directions. She pants for it, ragged and beautiful --

She --

She's *throbbing* around his fingers --

And Martha licks her teeth. "You don't -- you *don't* believe in female equality."

"Of course I do --"

"You want -- *nn* -- women under your *thumb*."

Thomas chuckles again --

Barbara clenches *hard* -

"Twist in the opposite direction. Now."

Barbara *whimpers* -- and does it.

Tim licks his lips and drags his fingers *back* until he can manipulate her G-spot --

Until he can make Barbara *groan* --

Thomas is still *chuckling* --

"You -- you're proving my *point*!"

"Not truly. I'm merely desperately amused by your lack of sophistication --"

"*Fuck* you --"

"Rough language is, at best, a clear. Sign. Of. A. Failure. Of. *Imagination*,"
and Thomas spanks her *harder* --

Martha cries out *repeatedly* --

"And yet you can take this so well, so... mm. A proper sexual submissive is, in my experience, a *truly* strong person, able to surrender resolve, reserve, repression --"

"You want to -- to *punish*!"

"No, Martha. I *need* to punish. I am... a very needy man in this moment,"
and Thomas' smile is broad and wild --

Thomas' hand is wet and *shining* with Martha's fluids --

And he pauses.

And Martha jerks for the strike that *doesn't* come, making a curiously *squeezed* sound in --


Martha growls and yanks *hard* on the belt --

*Repeatedly* --

But she neither asks *nor* demands to be freed. Had she forgotten that was a possibility? Or...

Tim licks his lips and stills his fingers inside Barbara. He -- "Stop twisting your nipples. Fuck your mouth with the fingers of your right hand and play with your clitoris with the fingers of your left."

Barbara opens her mouth -- closes it and nods frantically as she obeys --

And Thomas is watching Martha struggle, watching -- the tension playing over and within her slim, pale back. Is he thinking of whipping her? Flogging her? *Caning* her?

Where had he *learned* this? Where -- but there's something like a *pit* yawning open within his mind for that question, something --

He *can* look further back --

He can *study* --

*Leslie* is still alive. She could, perhaps, be willing to provide certain --

Martha stops struggling and slumps.

"What. What do you want from me?"

"Martha... I want everything."

"You can't *have* it --"

"I know that. I've *known* that. So I will settle -- happily -- for your pain and our pleasure."

Martha pants, ragged and --

She's so *beautifully* flushed --

And a part of Tim is only remembering Stephanie bent over the pommel horse, naked and rude and slick nearly to her *knees* --

Jason tied spread-eagled to Bruce's bed and *sobbing* --

And Thomas hums and pushes two of his long, thick fingers *deep* --

Martha *shouts* --

"What do you want from *me*, Martha...?"

"I want. To be. *Fucked*."

"And then left alone?"

"I have. I have things to *do* --"

"It's said there are certain little clubs and cafes where you can still see dancing boys..."
And Thomas starts to *thrust* --

And Barbara whimpers and *shudders* -- she wants Tim to do the same.

Tim will not. Yet --

"Oh, *really*."

Thomas chuckles *again* -- "You are the single most *impressive* woman... well. I was thinking it was something *you* would enjoy. Though I'm sure I could find some measure of aesthetic pleasure --"

Martha snorts -- and then makes a sound like a *cat*, shuddering all over and drumming her feet on the bed --

"My experiences with female anatomy have led to me to suspect that the clitoris extends -- beneath the surface, of course -- to an area around the vestibule of --"

"Do -- do that *again* --"




This time, Martha's growl is entirely animalistic -- and she begins to work her hips, fucking *herself* on Thomas' fingers --

"Beautiful... but not what I asked for," and he pulls out --

"*Damn* you --"

"Do tell me how you feel about this,"
he says, and he spreads her outer labia with the fingers of one hand --

And begins to spank her clitoris. He --

Barbara makes a *mewling* sound -- yes. Tim spanks *her* clitoris --

Barbara is biting off *whimpers* and shuddering --

And Martha is gasping, louder and louder --

Martha is *gulping* air --

*Thomas* is flushed --

He spanks *faster* --

And Martha groans and lowers her head between her outstretched arms. Sweat patters to the bed --

She's --


"You know what to do."

"I -- I --"
And she groans again --

Again --

*Again*, more deeply, more *seriously* --

"You know *precisely* what to do, Martha. You always have."

Martha sobs --

"You should never doubt your beauty, your... but I've already said that you're exquisite. There is no jewel, no wine, no bodily process --"

"You -- you -- *please*!"

Thomas takes a deep, shuddering breath -- "Of course," he says, and stops spanking. His hands are shaking as he opens his pants, exposing simple briefs -- "I'll have to switch to boxers once we begin our efforts to conceive in earnest --"

"Shut *up* --!"

And Thomas' laugh is almost -- *almost* -- uncontrolled --

Barbara groans and grips Tim's *wrist* --

"Yes," Tim says, and points to his penis --

And Barbara's expression is pleased, incredulous, hungry, amused, *wild* --

And there is a moment when Thomas smiles as he takes himself in hand --

And Tim feels himself smiling the same way --

Feels the world *shiver* --

But he knows it's only his own need, the *perfection* of Barbara's grunt as Tim stops spanking --

Of her scent as he drags his fingers over his lips -- and hers, as well. For a moment they're only staring into each other, *knowing* each other as people who could be *this* aroused *for* this --

"On me."

Barbara licks her lips *slowly*... and straddles him with her back to his chest, lowering herself down --

And down --

Tim snarls and bites her throat --

And Martha and Barbara cry out together, low and *high* --

And Thomas hisses beneath his teeth as he pushes in --

And *in* --

"Do you. Do you exercise your pelvic floor, Martha?"

"Shut up and *fuck* me!"

Thomas laughs *breathlessly* -- "It's only that you're still so very *tight*. I can't help but find that surprising --" And then he grunts and thrusts *hard* --

Martha screams --

And Barbara starts to ride, bending over to grip Tim's thighs -- and to make sure Tim's view is unimpeded. She --

"Good girl," Tim grits, and *flexes* --

Barbara *clenches* --

"Do *that* again, Martha --"

"Fuck me, *fuck* me --"

"Oh, I will -- but you really ought to work your pelvic floor muscles again --"

"What are you -- talking --"

"Oh... oh, like that. Mm. Such a remarkable woman. Here,"
And Thomas grips Martha's hips and *rocks* --

And Tim grips Barbara's hips --

And Barbara gasps --

And Martha *croons* --

"Beautiful, so beautiful -- were you a virgin at sixteen?"

"Nnh -- unh -- of *course* not --"

Thomas sighs and *covers* Martha, cupping her small breasts and squeezing -- "I forgive you for ruining any number of dearly loved fantasies, but only because your vagina is so. Very. *Wonderful* --"

"*Ahn* -- *ahn* -- ohn -- oh, Thomas --"

"I have always... mm... always enjoyed hearing my name in moments like these --"

"Sign of -- of *ego* --"

"Terribly true, but --"
And Thomas rears up and brushes Martha's hair aside --

And Tim holds Barbara as still as he can and *bucks* --

And Thomas *grips* Martha's neck and pushes her head *down* --

"Thomas --"

"Does this count as you being 'under my thumb'?"


"Let's see how much we enjoy it,"
Thomas says, and begins to *grind* --

And Martha growls and *grunts* --

And Barbara pants and *strains* to ride --

And Tim wants to let her, needs to --

No, not yet, not --

"Oh... Martha. Are you religious?"


"Good, that's -- *mm* -- you feel -- your body -- but of course you're... very strong..."

Not stronger than Barbara, not --

But Thomas is fucking Martha at least as hard as Tim is fucking Barbara --

They're --

They're *all* crying out --

*Martha* is straining --

"Not -- not yet --"

"My -- my -- *touch* me!"

"Not. *Yet*,"
and Thomas thrusts *faster* --

And Tim makes Barbara ride him in *his* rhythm --

And Barbara digs her *nails* in against Tim's thighs --

Breaks the *skin* --

Tim growls --

Thomas grunts like an animal and *shouts* --

And does it again --

Barbara whips her head up to stare -- and Tim knows her sounds mean 'please,' knows what she *wants* --

Tim *focuses* --

And the viewpoint shifts to show Thomas *snarling*, sweat rolling down his smooth-shaven cheeks as he grits his teeth --

His growl --

His growl is so much like *Bruce's* --

And Barbara cries out and begins clenching around him randomly, powerfully, perfectly --

Barbara shouts and tosses her *head* --

So beautiful, so --

"*My* turn, Thomas!"

"So. So it is,"
and Thomas pulls out too *fast* --

Martha *screams* --

And screams again when he pushes back in with the first two fingers on his left hand and begins massaging her clitoris with his right --

And Barbara is shuddering and *trying* to ride even though her body clearly wants to *slump* --

Tim knows exactly how to make this -- faster. He focuses with every part of him which *can* --

Split-screen: Martha's slick and *puffy* vulva on the left, Martha's almost *anguished* expression on the right --

And perhaps she gave Bruce her passion more than anything else, her ability to *throw* herself into what she desires despite everything telling her to do nothing of the kind --

She looks so *hungry* --

So pained and *hungry* --

And Tim can't keep himself from groaning anymore, from just --

Losing it --

Bucking so *hard* --

Barbara is grunting for every *thrust*, and it just highlights the *lack* of rhythm, the --

Thomas is already catching his *breath* -- "How soon... do you think we'll be able to repeat this?"

But Martha doesn't answer in words, Martha growls and *works* her hips, slamming back and back and *back* --

She's leaking semen and her own fluids --

Barbara has left Tim wet to the *thighs* --

But Thomas thrusts hard enough to make the fluids *spatter*, and Tim hears himself make a sound like something --

Something *dying* --

He can see Martha *clenching* --

Tim flexes --

And flexes --

Martha opens her eyes so --

Wide --

Tim is *braced* for the scream --

But Martha *whimpers* as she clenches over and *over* again --

Whimpers and --

There are *tears* rolling down --

Tears and sweat --

She whimpers *again* --

And Tim hears himself *bark* as he throws his head back --

As something massive and *vicious* grips his spine and *yanks* --

And *then* Barbara starts to clench purposefully and he's yelling, wordless and helpless --

He's ejaculating and *yelling* --

He can't open his *eyes* --

He can't --

He can't even *hear* what's happening --

He feels so *warm* --

So --

And then it seems as though he's *fallen* against the bed, against himself, *into* himself --

He gasps and pants --

Yanks Barbara close by the hair --

Kisses her cheek. Just her cheek -- no. Her ear, and her temple, and her cheek again --

Her jaw --

She hums and turns enough to *bite* his lip --


And then she nods toward the viewscreen --

Where the... action is paused. Hm. "All right, I'm officially impressed with my control," he says, and kisses her again. "Please start talking again."

"*Thank* you. Was it the tears?"

"Quite possibly. I'm choosing not to examine --"


Tim hums and flexes again --

"*Yee* -- oh, start it up again! Let's see how the crazy people do afterglow."

"You don't think *we're* crazy?"

"I *know* we're crazy. But... we're the good kind of crazy."


"Oh, yes," Barbara says, kneeling up and *hissing* before moving to curl against Tim's side again. "Stephanie was *very* clear about this."

"Well, so long as you have reliable sources --"

"She's going to hit you so, *so* hard for that."

"You'll tell on me?"

Barbara smiles at him. Toothily.

Tim hums. And takes a deep breath.

And focuses --

On the sound of panted breaths and slick -- *slick* thrusts --

More whimpers --

A sob that makes Tim's penis *twitch* --

Tim catches Barbara's hand before she can grip him.


"I'd rather not cry tonight."

Barbara snorts and *giggles* --

And Martha clenches so hard that she *spurts* -- or. Hm.

"Did she --"

"Oh, my. Do you ejaculate on a regular basis, Martha?"

"W-what? No... I... pull *out*. *Slowly*."

Thomas hums and releases her neck, then leans in to kiss her there softly and *wetly* as he pulls out -- slowly.

Martha moans and shudders --

Clenches and *leaks* ---

"Ejaculation is quite rare in females, but not unknown --"

"You need to shut up now."

Thomas frowns. "You were far more agreeable --"

"When my pussy didn't feel like it was made for a woman twice my size? *Amazing* how that works. Untie me. Now."

Thomas... slumps. But only slightly before he unties the belt and releases Martha. She moves away from him immediately -- but stays on the bed as she massages her wrists, frowning at the ligature marks.

"I'll have to wear long sleeves. In *Athens*."

"Did you want an apology, Martha?"

And Martha's expression... bears a certain resemblance to descriptions Tim has read of basilisks.

Tim has, of course, avoided looking at actual basilisks --

"We don't yet know each other well enough for your non-verbal communication to be entirely effective --"



"No, I do not want an apology,"
and Martha flexes her hands once, twice --

Pushes her hair back behind her ears --

And then cups and lifts her breasts. "Do you not like these?"

Thomas narrows his eyes and it is, abruptly, very obvious that he is still partially erect. "I like them very much. I --"

"Too much to punish them...?"

"I... prefer using certain implements for that. Toys --"


Thomas raises an eyebrow.

Martha smiles. "Your non-verbal communication, while rudimentary, is clear enough. You will not use your *implements* on my breasts... or anywhere else on my person."

"And my hands?"

"Entirely acceptable."


Martha makes a moue. "If you're looking to be graded on your *performance* --"

"It was, in fact, our very first time."

"So it was. So..."
Martha sighs and closes her eyes for a long moment. In the morning sunlight, the tear tracks are startlingly visible, and make her look --

"She almost looks like she could be a *nice* person that way."

Tim smiles and kisses Barbara's temple. "I believe this is where something should be said about horseshoes and hand grenades."

Barbara snorts and elbows him --

"You gave me two *very* good orgasms. They weren't the *best* orgasms I've ever had, but they were still far more than simply adequate," and she opens her eyes and smiles wryly. "They were far, far better than what I usually tend to have with men with whom I've never had sex before. You're a good lover, Thomas."

Thomas inclines his head. "*Will* we be able to repeat the experience?"

"Not *immediately*... but. Yes. Though... are you only *capable* if the woman in question is in pain? I don't *judge* you, you understand, but...?"

Thomas... colors. "I am capable, yes."

"But you much prefer... hm. Even with *Leslie*?"

"No, not with Leslie --"

"Is that *why* she's only a friend...?"

Thomas hums and scratches at the very edge of his mustache. "The thought had occurred."

"But you chose not to pursue it...?"

"A man is allowed a certain degree of mystery, Martha."

*Martha* hums... and lies down among the pillows. "That's not a very *scientific* statement, Thomas."

"So it isn't. I would like to lie with you."

"Would you."


Martha shows her teeth... and kicks out to stroke a line down the center of Thomas' chest with the big toe on her right foot --

Thomas' penis rises -- slightly -- more --

And Martha hums again and takes her foot back. "Order us something positively decadent and unhealthy for brunch, darling. We'll cuddle up *right* here and eat it like the cheerful newlyweds we can *absolutely* pretend to be, and then..."


"And then we can get back to the business of making a son so that we can, eventually, find lovers we can *wholly* approve of. Off you go."

Thomas uses speed he *shouldn't* have -- to lean in and kiss the soft rise of her abdomen --

"Oh -- very sweet. Chop chop!"

And Thomas gets up and walks 'off-camera.'

After a moment, Martha winces and stares down at her mound --

And then she laughs in a manner which can only be described as *musically* raucous --

And Barbara sighs. "I think that's enough of that."

Tim takes a deep breath and watches for a moment longer --

Focuses --

And the view freezes on an image of Martha with her mouth open wide and her eyes full of something like wild-eyed *rage* --

"*GYAH* -- *Tim*!"

"I had to check," Tim says, and grabs the controller off his wheelchair. He shuts the machine down entirely --

And *then* becomes aware of something very much like the *absence* of electricity -- or. Some other kind of energy. He doesn't know.

Barbara shudders and presses closer to him.

Tim breathes.

And breathes --



"Have you -- you've never wanted to get married."

Tim smiles ruefully and lies down, settling them both under the covers. "The only people I've ever wanted to marry are you... and Bruce's children."

"Your children, too."


She jabs him, but it's gentle. "You know what --"

"I know what it says about me, yes," Tim says, and turns off the lamp. In the dark, Gotham's gaslights cast their usually faintly *eldritch* glow through the windows.

"Never Bruce."



Tim laughs quietly. "There was a significant length of time when I would have long, confusing, and *heated* dreams of him being my *father* --"

Barbara chokes --

"... but those dreams were, ultimately, a relief. Considering what the dreams of him being my *mother* were like."

Barbara *cackles* --

*Extensively* --

And Tim smiles up at the ceiling. He feels... different.

He's not sure *how* different, or what those differences *entail*... but.

It feels like a good start.


May 1979

It's seven-forty-eight in the evening, and Harvey has been gone since this morning. This --

Normally --

Bruce frowns, stands up away from his sketchbook, and begins to do push-ups again. He's already done one hundred and fifty today, but he believes that it's a better use of his time than -- brooding.

He knows precisely what Harvey is doing --

No, not that, either.

Harvey had told him, clearly and evenly and with a *sharp* sense of finality, that he would be going to visit the --

That he would be visiting *Tim*.

Bruce will, from now on, refer to him as Tim -- unless Tim himself asks him to use some other mode of address. It -- it is correct.

Bruce removes the frown from his face.

Harvey has, of course, visited Tim before. Bruce knows --

He's seen the way Tim looks at Harvey, of course. It's... well, it's one of the more *positive* things about him. He clearly holds Harvey in high esteem --

His smiles for Harvey at the assorted parties and other gatherings are all quite real. They are open things, if, perhaps, younger than they should be --

Bruce frowns again --

Forces himself to focus on his push-ups and *only* his push-ups --

Tim's smiles tend to look... very hungry.

Tim's smiles for *Harvey* --

And of course Harvey is kind, and beautiful, and brilliant, and passionate --

Of course Harvey is the most wonderful --

Even some of the most worthless and *shallow* people at Exeter and its brother and sister schools had been drawn to Harvey, had wanted to be near him, to *touch* --

("Ah, it was the *weirdest* thing, big guy!"


"James -- Harrington, that is -- just put the moves on me!"


"Yeah, he -- whoa. Big guy? Are you...")

And Harvey had waved a hand in front of his face --

And that had been what let Bruce know that he was clenching his fists, that he was growling, that he was staring at the door to their dorm room as if it was the Harrington boy --

("Bruce, you're scarin' me a little here --"

"I -- I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

"Are you -- no, tell me. Tell me?")

And they had *discussed* Bruce's jealousy, they had --

They had *shared* that the way they shared everything, and --

("It's only that it's hard enough to watch you touch *women*. I -- I know you *need* women, Harv --"

"I do, I *really* do --"

"And sometimes... sometimes, now, I can see their beauty --"

"Hey, that's great!"

"Aesthetically -- they still seem so terrible --"

"Not all of them, I *swear*, and maybe you should try some of the quiet girls? You know, the ones who *don't* come after you like Wayne-seeking missiles --"

"*You* don't like --"

"Ah, you can't go by *me*, big guy! I'm just a guy -- I see a nice pair and things go a little funny in my brain pan --"

"*Harv*. You're not *like* that --"

"Big guy. I'm *absolutely* like that, because some of these girls I don't even *try* to have conversations with. Okay?")

And Bruce remembers frowning, remembers feeling the ground beneath him *shift* --

("You thought I *liked* them? *All* of them?"

"I... I thought there were *aspects* of them --")

And Harvey had *snorted* --

("Oh -- uh. Sorry about that. But -- no, Bruce. I don't... I don't really expect to meet any girls I actually *like* until I go to *college* -- which most of these chicks will *not* be doing. Get me?"

"But why don't *you* try to become closer to the quieter girls? Surely, some of them --")

And Harvey had closed the distance between them, obliterated it as easily as he always did --

Harvey had cupped his *face* --

("Sometimes? I'm pretty damned shallow, big guy."

"It -- it doesn't *suit* you.")

Harvey's smile had been quirked, fond, beautiful --

But he had turned away from Bruce's kiss. He --

("Please --"

"One sec, okay?"

"I'm listening. I -- I will *always* listen --"

"I know. I know that with *all* of me, big guy. *You* suit me. Sometimes -- sometimes I think you're the only one I'll ever *need* --"

"Oh -- *yes*, I feel the *same* --"

"You're the best thing that ever happened to me --"

"*You*, Harv --"

"And you're not allowed to murder guys who grab me by the dick and squeeze unless I *ask* you to. Okay?"

"He *touched* --"

"Big guy.")

And Harvey's *tone* had been stern, but the light in his eyes had spoken of humor, pleasure and pleasure in *Bruce* --

("It's only that they don't *deserve* you, Harv!"


"They *don't* --"

"Oh, I know. I *absolutely* know -- most of the time, anyway --"

"You should know it *all* the time --"

"It's just that I *also* know that it's not *just* that, at all. You don't want anyone else's hands in your pie.")

And Bruce had frowned for the imagery then --

He's frowning again now. He --

The conversation had ended with Bruce promising to do better, to be less *selfish*, less --

("I want. I want more than our parents have, Harv."

"Ah, big guy, I know. I *really* know, and I want you to *have* it. But we're *brothers* *first*."

"It seems... it seems so dangerous that I could ever forget how wonderful it is to be your brother."

"Well... it *is* pretty fantastic being your lover...")

And Harvey had smiled so wryly, so *hotly* --

("I need you. I need you -- please.")

And Harvey's smile had become something much hungrier, something... something almost *loose* as he tilted his head back --

Harvey *always* tilts his head back when he wishes Bruce to be aggressive with him --

Bares his *throat* --

He's up to one hundred and seventy-three push-ups, but the motion is rapidly becoming painfully *suggestive* --

*Every* time Harvey calls him lover --

Tim would almost certainly want--

But --

Bruce doesn't know that.

He has watched Tim dance with the young girls Janet Drake has introduced him to, and he hasn't recoiled from them, or shown any signs of --

But then, neither has Bruce himself.

Bruce is glaring at the *floor* --

Bruce switches to sit-ups, careful of his form. Harvey has been exceedingly helpful with that sort of thing -- with *all* of Bruce's conditioning exercises, truly --

Harvey has been familiar with such things since long before they had met, because he had always been a student athlete --

It would be... natural for Tim to find Harvey attractive. Beautiful. *Desirable*. He --

Has he touched himself while dreaming of Harvey's touch?

Harvey's smile?

Harvey's *kiss*?

And Harvey -- Harvey can be so *generous*, so *open* with his heart. Harvey, Bruce knows, had accepted Tim as his brother *years* ago. He hadn't spoken to *Bruce* about it, but that was only because he wished to *spare* Bruce, to --

Harvey is protective, too.

Could he be protecting Bruce from jealousy even now?

Has Tim attempted to -- to *seduce*?

His *mother* --

("Oh, boychik. Janet was a *lovely* girl of nineteen when she set her sights on your father. Frankly, I'm not sure anything would've -- could've -- stopped *either* of them."

"Oh, Mother, I'm so *sorry*!"

"No, no, it's *all right*. You *must* understand, darling, your father and I have an *understanding* --"

"He -- he should have --"

"Shh, shh. Remember that we both love *you*. All right?")

He tries. He -- he *tries* --

He's been trying to comprehend what 'understanding' could mean since he was a *boy*, but it's still --

It still seems to boil down to his father choosing a younger, crueler woman over Mother.

It *always* seems to boil down to that. It -- but.

("Is he. Is he very like... his mother?")

And Harvey had *blinked* --but.

("Not... not that I've been able to see. Just, you know. In looks.")

That's bad *enough* -- no.

He's being incorrect again. He must not *indulge* himself in this -- unworthiness.

While Harvey *does* spend time with people he does not care for even when he doesn't *have* to, it's only with women, and it's only for *sex*. Even if Tim *were* female, he wouldn't be Harvey's type. He's too short *and* too small. Harvey would never think *twice* about --

Harvey likes him.

Harvey has *chosen* him.

Harvey --

("Ah, I'll be honest, big guy -- I would've spent *more* time with him --"

"If you had not been protecting my.... my feelings?"

"I... yeah.")

And Harvey had smiled ruefully as he sat against Bruce's headboard. It had been five o'clock this morning -- one half hour before Harvey usually leaves to return to his own bedroom for the sake of appearances -- and he had been mussed and beautiful, with a faint shine of sweat at his temples that was barely visible in the uncertain pre-dawn light.

He had reached for Bruce --

And Bruce had gone to him, of course. Bruce will *always* go to him, and take him in his arms, and kiss the faintly sour taste of sleep from his mouth --

("Mmm -- God, I love you --"

"And I you. Please, I -- you've *chosen* him?"

"Chosen how?"


"I... okay, I guess I *didn't* need to ask that question. Ah, big guy. For all I know he's grown into a real jerk while I was away all year --"

"But you don't think he has."

"No. No, I don't. He's a good little guy. He reminds me of you in a *lot* of ways --"

"Do you love him already?")

And Harvey had frowned at him, cupped his jaw and searched his eyes --

("He's my *brother*, big guy. That kinda thing -- you know what it means to me.")

He knows *everything* it means to Harvey -- or. He knows everything it *could* mean to him. He hadn't been able to ask then, though.

He hadn't been able to *bring* himself to ask --

He had used his mouth to make love to Harvey with *desperate* speed, instead, biting him everywhere --

("Oh, *yeah* --")

-- before taking Harvey's long, slender penis in his mouth --

Before taking *himself* to the sound of Harvey's desperate and *choked* moans --

He tries so hard to be *quiet* up here, just as if their parents *ever* open the door to their suite.

Just as if there wasn't a door built into the far wall *of* the suite --

("No, boychik, come to my *real* bedroom."


"Do you really not... but of course you don't.")

And Mother had laughed softly and *ruefully* --

Mother had cupped his *face* --

("Come with me.")

He had -- and seen a suite filled with pillows and drapes and the lingering scent of incense. The colors were warm and rich and almost *bright* -- and the record cabinet was massive and full.

This, then, was where she entertained Jason Blood -- and their few common friends -- when he visited. Right on the other side of the entirely innocuous -- and soundproofed -- door leading into his father's dark, staid, and *dour* suite.

Bruce dislikes *both* suites --

He will never tell Mother that.

He --

He has done two hundred sit-ups, and his abdominal muscles are somewhat unhappy with him. He'll only do twenty-five more.

It's after eight o'clock. The sun will be down -- very soon. Harvey isn't *home* --

What could he be *doing* with Tim?

*Had* he chosen to take him to see a baseball game? Does Tim like that sort of thing? Would he *lie* in order to spend more time with Harvey?

Bruce -- blushes. In truth, *he* doesn't find baseball games Harvey isn't participating in very interesting, at all... but he still attends them with Harvey. He still --

It's only that Harvey becomes so *excited*. So -- happy.

Anyone would wish to see him smile, to see him jump and shout as popcorn scatters from the sleeve --

And he enjoys eating hot dogs so *much* --

He is --

Bruce must remember that he has his own... failures of nobility.

He must --

Harvey hugs Tim every --

Bruce has *seen* it --

Will he kiss Tim's cheek this time? His forehead?

How will Tim *resist*?

The first time Harvey had kissed *Bruce's* cheek, Bruce had *groaned*, even though it had been the middle of the day, even though they'd been fully-dressed, even though Harvey's roommate Sylvester could've returned at *any* time --

("Big guy? Are you -- are you okay?"


"Hey, your voice is a little... uh...")

And Bruce could only stare at Harvey, only offer his need, his *understanding* of his need -- and *that* had only come because Harvey had made Bruce run with him out into the woods surrounding the campus one night before curfew --

Harvey had been so *graceful* as he'd leapt over dead twigs and cut around trees --

Harvey had *stopped* them by a deadfall --

("It's gorgeous here, isn't it?"

"I -- suppose --")

And Bruce had been panting like a *bellows* --

("Ah, you big lump, look *around*!")

And Harvey had spun around with his arms in the air --

And Bruce had looked up and seen --

Golden light on green, shining leaves --

Brown and reddish leaves carpeting the ground --

Countless tiny frogs on the trees --

And Harvey's smile --

And Harvey's sweat --

And Harvey's lean and perfect *grace* --

And Harvey's *excitement* --

Bruce mouths the words 'I want to touch you,' as he does his two hundred twentieth sit-up. He didn't say them aloud then, either. He --

He'd agreed that it was beautiful --

And then he'd asked Harvey about girls, as if he could ever truly *care* --

("Ah, that, big guy? I can tell you a *story* about *that*...")

And he had, right there in the *woods*. He --

It was the first time they'd masturbated together, and it was all Bruce could do not to stare at Harvey, at his working hands -- he'd stroked his own thigh so *restlessly* with his left hand --

At his slender penis -- significantly shorter then, but still perfect, still copper-dark and beautiful --

At his squeezed-shut eyes --

At the pre-ejaculate beading --

Dripping --

("And she -- oh, she let me suck her *breasts*, big guy --")

And Bruce had groaned and ejaculated all over a scattering of mushrooms, lost to images of Harvey suckling, mouthing --

Using his soft *lips* --

("Oh, yeah, big guy, *do* it!")

And Bruce had nearly *fallen* as he'd ejaculated *more* --

("*Harv* --"

"Oh -- nnh -- *nnh* -- *NNH* --")

Bruce hadn't been *able* to look away, then. Not --

Harvey's expression had been so *desperate* --

His beautiful eyes were open and focused on *him* --

And Bruce understood his own need. Bruce --

Some part of him had understood *everything* then -- or it had felt that way. They had used that deadfall several more times --

And then Harvey's father had died, and Bruce's parents had become *their* parents...

Was it their father who had insisted to the Exeter administration they share a room after that? It doesn't seem *like* him, but Bruce isn't entirely sure the headmaster and the Master of Students would've *listened* to Mother alone without causing the sort of friction she finds *distasteful*.

Not that that would've been enough to *stop* her --

She's always wanted him -- *both* of them -- to be *happy* --

("Well, boychik? What *is* it like to be *rooming* with your brother, hmm?"

"Oh, it's *wonderful*, Mother! Of course, I never want to be apart from him --"

"Oh, of course...")

And Mother had smiled *slyly* as she rested on the deep-red chaise in her sitting room --

Bruce had blushed from the overstuffed pillows she'd insisted he sit on --

("Do you think *Harvey* is happy?"

"He -- I believe his biological father hurt him very often, Mother.")

And Bruce had looked down at his knees --

("So you implied in your letters... but that horrible man is gone forever now, and your father and I -- and you -- will *always* take care of Harvey."

"Oh -- yes!"

"And... you won't ever leave him... alone for his nightmares and the like..."

"No, Mother!"

"You won't... hmm... fall back on your *reserve*, will you?")

Bruce had blushed *again* --

And Mother had -- had *pinned* him with her beautiful eyes. There's always so much in them, so much laughter and light and --

("He. He's very *passionate*, Mother.")

She had parted her lips --

("Is he."

"Yes, Mother, and... and... he... encourages me to be the same.")

She had bitten her lower lip --

*Giggled* --

("Oh -- I like that sound very much, Mother."

"Yes, I *know* you do, darling -- well. Be a *good* brother to Harvey --"


"And... hmm. Be just as passionate as you'd like.")

And that had been worth *another* blush, because --

Because, of course, he's never been able to keep *any* secrets from Mother. It's not that they'd ever *discussed* the fact that he and Harvey were making love -- it's that they didn't *have* to.

And a part of Bruce had already...

A part of Bruce knew, from the beginning, that they would *never* have to, that Mother would *understand*, even if their father wouldn't --

And their father has no right to judge *anyone* for how they negotiate their romantic relationships.

And --

Bruce has lost count of the number of sit-ups he's done.

And Harvey still isn't *home*. He --

Bruce moves back to his desk, looks over his sketch -- a first draft of another apartment building designed to be attractive, sturdy, and affordable to low-income families.

He audited two architecture classes at Hudson University while working on his physical conditioning, and discovered something of a passion for it. Not enough of one to steer him away from his *true* passion, of course, but...

Gotham has a great deal of crumbling architecture. Some of it *can* be saved -- Mother has agreed to have the Foundation look into it -- but others are wholly condemned, and must be razed to the ground. It would be a terrible mistake to replace the old buildings with flimsy, ugly 'cracker box' style tenements, no matter how 'cost effective' it seemed to be.

Harvey *and* Mother had been very encouraging of his few preliminary designs -- just as his professors had been, truly -- but, of course, he'll have to contact professional architectural firms, and also *politicians*.

For that, he'll need their father...

Bruce frowns and closes his sketchbook, then reaches to stroke the map case with his more finalized designs.

Their father hadn't *discouraged* him, but he had been far more interested in urging Bruce to matriculate formally at some four-year university -- or even a liberal arts college -- than he had been in discussing the designs.

That wasn't a surprise. That --

Harvey isn't home, yet.

Bruce takes a deep breath, and leaves his room for the gymnasium in the East wing. Their father had converted the smaller, secondary ballroom as a gift for Harvey's fifteenth birthday, and they've used it extensively over the summers.

It was difficult, at first, to use it alone while Harvey was at Yale, but Bruce had his many memories. For now...

For now, Bruce does chin-ups, and waits. And tries not to --

Tim has very pale skin. Very --

He looks so *much* like his mother. Neither of them spend very much time in direct sunlight -- if they did, they would be *much* darker --


Do they use the LuthorCorp 'sunblock'?

*Lex's* skin had always been *dramatically* pale -- far more so than Tim's. More attractively so, as well.

His mouth was almost... almost the color of *peach* skin when considered against the skin of his face, and his lean body was always *shocking* --

He always seemed far too languid to be as well-muscled as he was.

Is he working out still? He almost certainly isn't taking *runs*.

His last letter to Bruce --

("And that's *another* reason why you're not allowed to go crazy when I talk to other people, big guy.")

And Bruce had blinked somewhat *stupidly* up at Harvey, who had been sitting on the corner of Bruce's desk --

And Harvey had tapped the letter -- written on lavender stationery -- in Bruce's hands. And raised his eyebrows.

("Oh. *Oh*. Oh, no, Harv --"


"No! I've never -- I *would* never --"

"*Lex* would."

"He's never so much as *propositioned* me, Harv. I -- of course, he does seem to enjoy making me blush --"

"He looks at you like meat on the *hoof*, big guy."

"That's rather gruesome --"

"*You* look at *him* like you're trying to decide where to bite down *first*."

"His skin is very -- but I wouldn't --")

But Harvey had snorted -- and ruffled Bruce's hair.

("It's *okay*, big guy."

"Harv --"

"I promise. Even though *I* think he's a funny-looking skinny little *bitch*."

"He's actually not very skinny at --"

"Big guy."

"I -- hm. I appear to be proving your point.")

And Harvey had raised his eyebrows higher and nodded... very, very slowly. And pointedly.

Bruce had blushed --

("I truly wouldn't --"

"I know. But it'd be okay even if you *did*."

"I think... I think I want you to be more jealous.")

Harvey had snorted --

("No, big guy."

"Hm. As you say. Perhaps I'll answer this letter at some other time.")

And Harvey had waggled his eyebrows --

And gripped Bruce by his *necktie* --

("So maybe I should give you something else to do?"

"It's said that idle hands are the devil's workshop, Harv."

"What do you know about devils, hunh? Nice secular boy like you...")

And Harvey had *pulled* on Bruce's tie --

Pulled Bruce onto his *feet* -

("I feel -- I could be damned --"

"For this, big guy?"

"For something -- something so pleasurable --"

"Yeah, hunh? Why don't you get down on your knees and pleasure *me*?")

And Bruce had *wanted* to tell Harvey that he was always on his knees, that he'd been on his knees since the very first day of school, when Bruce had seen him *smile* --

But all he could do was moan and *shake* as he lowered himself --

As Harvey *slowly* eased his grip on Bruce's tie --

As Harvey spread his -- his long legs --

Bruce has no idea how many chin-ups he's done, save that it hasn't been enough to make him shake with fatigue.

He's going to have to do better --

But Harvey isn't --

"Big guy, there you are! I been lookin' all over this mausoleum for you!"

Bruce smiles because he must, releasing the chin-up bar and dropping to his feet, turning --



In their *gymnasium* --

And he steps back, undoubtedly because he could see the smile freeze on Bruce's face. He --

He's wearing a *suit*, and that doesn't --

It doesn't *fit* with Harvey's jeans and t-shirt --

*He* doesn't fit --

"Ah -- I'll go --"

"What -- oh, Jesus, Bruce, *not* this," Harvey says, and his tone is irritated. *Exasperated* with him --

Bruce winces and turns away, *fixes* his expression --

"It's -- it's all right," Tim says --

"It *really* isn't, little guy --"

"Little --" Bruce hears himself grunt and -- he's blushing. And. And that *can't* be any better than his frozen *grimace*, but he can -- be honest. He turns to look at them both, to --

To plead.

"If -- I need."

"*What* do you need, Bruce?"

Bruce winces again --

And so does Tim. "Harvey --"


"Harv. I mean -- he needs... time. He wasn't expecting me, and -- he was probably -- we spent a long time together today," Tim says, and nods at Harvey. He's blushing, too --

And Harvey is looking back and forth between them with so much *frustration* --

Bruce shudders -- "I'm sorry."

Harvey inhales sharply -- and looks only at him.

Bruce knows... what is needed. He inclines his head to Tim --

"Oh -- please don't --"

"No. I must -- you have my apologies, Tim. I. It's true that I was not expecting to see you this evening, but there is no excuse for my... behavior --"

"You -- you didn't *do* anything --"

"I believe that's the problem."

Tim rears back and blinks, biting his lip -- he stops that and shakes his head slowly.

Bruce frowns. "If. If you feel my apology isn't sincere --"

"No! I -- I know you would never want to... disappoint Harvey -- Harv."

*Harvey* frowns -- and the need in his eyes --

The disappointment which is there *already* --

Bruce swallows and -- doesn't clench his hands into fists. "I must -- do better."

"No. No, you really --"

"Yes, Tim -- I -- may I call you Tim?"

Tim's expression is *dark* -- but he nods. "Of -- it's what I prefer. I mean -- yes."

"Thank you," Bruce says, and takes a step closer --

Tim steps *back* --

And when Harvey hisses between his teeth, Tim's eyes grow wide and *frightened*. He doesn't *quite* look at Harvey, but the sense that he *wants* to is very powerful -- he steps forward again. He --

"Oh... Tim. You don't -- you don't have to --"

Tim's laugh is pained. "*I* don't want to disappoint Harv, *either*," he says, and his expression turns wry.

Bruce blinks and -- "Do you desire him?"

"*Big* guy --"

"I'm human, Bruce," and Tim raises an eyebrow. "And he has been unfailingly kind, gentle, brotherly... and many, many other things. Now, I imagine you want me out of your home even more --"

"*Tim* --"

"I." Bruce swallows. "I was not expecting your honesty."

Tim lifts his chin. "Harv has been... convincing about that. Honesty, I mean."

Bruce nods slowly and clenches his hands into fists --

Tim glances at them --

"Jesus, you guys, come *on* --"

"A moment, please," Bruce says, and takes a deep breath. And then he walks several paces closer --

Not enough that he will *loom* --

Tim *stiffens* -- and then relaxes himself with a *conscious* grace that Bruce finds himself studying helplessly --

Tim raises an eyebrow --

Bruce nods. "Will you try to take him from me?"

Harvey growls --

And Tim holds up a hand to him. "Even if that were possible, I have never particularly wanted to be... that sort of person."

Bruce stares at Tim --

Breathes and *stares* --

Tim stares *back* --

He's so *small* -- but not as small as he was last year. That's perfectly sensible -- *reasonable* -- but...

"You're not a child."

Tim raises his eyebrow higher. "By whose definition --"

"Your own. Please."

Tim nods. "Then, no. I'm not a child any longer."

"I think." Bruce clenches his fists tighter. "I believe that I still am."

Tim blinks and frowns.

"I would like. I would like to -- stop."

Tim blinks *rapidly* --

Starts to turn to Harvey --

And Bruce doesn't mean to grip Tim's chin, doesn't --

He can be gentle, of course, and he --

He's only ever touched Tim's *hand* --

His *right* hand --

Harvey catches his breath -- but he doesn't say anything. He waits. He -- he is waiting for Bruce, because he *trusts* him --

Even though Bruce isn't entirely sure he trusts himself. He --

He doesn't stroke Tim's jaw with his thumb, even though it's as downy *as* a child's --


"I have -- distrusted you."

Tim nods, as much as Bruce is *allowing* --

"I have... you have... hated me?"

Tim narrows his eyes -- shutters them, easily and well.

Bruce shakes his head --

"Little guy..."

"Oh --" And Tim shudders and blinks, showing something which looks very much like *anger*. "All right. You're the first son. You're the *desired* son. You're the *acknowledged* son."

"Our father... has treated you cruelly?"

Tim's smile is sharp, cold, and entirely reminiscent of his mother's --

Bruce will not *let* himself step back -- "Please. Please tell me --"

"Do *you* think that's Thomas Wayne's style, Bruce?"

"Style -- I. I believe it's rather more than a question of style, Tim."

"Hnn. Perhaps it has to be -- for a Wayne. For *me*... he will always be *Mr.* Wayne. His gifts will never be personal, or any more thoughtful than they 'should' be for the child of a business *associate*. His *conversation* will never show any particular -- it's possible. Maybe one day --" Tim shudders again and twists away, blocking Bruce's reach for him easily and turning to face the door. He crosses his arms over his chest and breathes... raggedly.

Bruce looks to Harvey --

But Harvey just raises his eyebrows. He --

Bruce nods and turns back to Tim, moving until they can face each other again --

Tim looks down at the floor between them.

Bruce reaches out --

"*Don't* touch me again -- please."

"All right. I'm --"

"Don't -- apologize. Either. Please. Not for that."

Bruce... has no idea what to do with his hands. It's usually not a difficult *question*, but -- no. It's not important. Not right now. Not --  Bruce takes his own ragged breath and nods. "I do not care for -- our father."

Tim stiffens again --

*Relaxes* himself again --

"Because of his relationship with my mother -- no, that's not enough, is it?" And *then* Tim looks up, studying him openly. "You... you're angry at him for allowing me to come to be. This... has allowed you to justify your behavior toward me. Yes?"

Bruce closes his eyes -- no. He opens them again. "Yes."

"Because I'm... a mistake? A cruel joke? A pathetic failure on Thomas Wayne's part?"

"I. I have also been unable to look at you without seeing a terrible insult to Mother, whom I love dearly and passionately."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "*She* has always treated me like a person."

"She's very kind and --"

Harvey is making a choking sound. He sounds almost *distressed*.

Bruce turns to him --

"No, no, go on, big guy. You guys are doin' fine, really."

Bruce frowns and nods, and when he turns back to Tim, Tim is studying Harvey. But only for another moment before turning back to Bruce. "I'm a thirteen year old boy with parents who have made... questionable choices. Nothing more, nothing less," he says, with something like unassailable *dignity* --

"You. You're not a child -- I'm repeating myself," Bruce says, and frowns *again* -- no. He shakes his head. "You're more than that."

"I'm not --"

"You're." There's something --

There's something *speaking* within him, something --

There's something spreading within him, stretching and making him *hurt* -- no. He has to hurt in this moment, and in many, many others. He has to *hurt*, because this --

"I am -- so sorry --"

"Don't --"

"I --" Bruce hears himself make a terrible sound and shakes his head --

Steps closer --

And of *course* Tim would stiffen every time Bruce moved within range, of course he would doubt Bruce's *intentions* --

"Please," Bruce says, and -- he doesn't reach out. He doesn't --

Tim doesn't want to be *touched*, and --

"It's only... I know... so few ways of making myself understood when I have made mistakes --"

"Because you don't *make* them?"

There's something *tearing* at him from the inside, because he can hear the *chill* in his voice every time he's wished Tim a good evening and meant nothing of the kind --

He can feel the *disdain* that had been on his face for Tim's attempts at conversation --

Tim used to *try* --

But he hasn't for a very, very long time. He --

"I am a *child*. I have acted --" Bruce groans and drops to his knees -

Harvey coughs again --

Tim blinks rapidly and nearly *trips* as he staggers back --

Bruce catches him by the hips, *steadies* him --

"No -- you -- what are you *doing*, Bruce?" And Tim pushes at Bruce's hands --

Yanks his own hands back --

Pushes *more* --

"*Please*," Bruce says. "I am. I am *limited*. There is so much I have never known, so much I only *do* know because Harv has been patient enough to *teach* me --"

"You -- you don't have to --" Tim growls and -- does something *exceedingly* painful to the backs of Bruce's hands.

Bruce pulls back -- "Was that -- some sort of pinch?"

"*Yes* -- I -- look, if this is some sort of -- of sick *joke* --"

"*No*," Bruce says, and reaches for Tim again --

Tim *snarls* --

And Bruce drops his hands to his thighs. "I -- you have my apologies. For *everything*, Tim, but especially -- oh, Tim, I don't know what to *say*. I have been *worse* than a child, because children have some -- some *excuse* for their behavior --"

"You -- you were protecting your mother --"

Bruce's laugh sounds no more pained than it is. "She will never need *my* protection, Tim. She -- I allowed myself to treat you disrespectfully -- *disgustingly* -- because *I did not have the courage to remonstrate with our *father*. I -- I *must* do that, but first I must make *amends* --"

"*How*? How do you intend to *do* that?" And Tim is staring at him almost wild-eyed, almost --

For a moment which shifts the ground beneath his feet -- beneath his *knees* -- no more than anything *else* has in the past fifteen minutes, it seems that Tim's eyes have far more in common with *Mother's* than they do with Janet Evans' --

It seems --

It seems they could be *beautiful* --

His skin had been *downy* --

And he had asked a question. Bruce licks his lips and *offers* his hand, palm up, without touching. "I'd like. I'd like to begin again. If you... if you think we can."

If anything, Tim's eyes seem even wilder, seem hungry and *dark* --

"Please. I... I can only beg in this moment --"

"What do you *want*?"

"Brotherhood. Companionship. A -- a chance to come to *know* you. I -- you spoke of jokes --"

"*Sick* jokes --"

"My sense of humor is *rudimentary*, Tim --"

"It really is," Harvey says, and -- moves close. *He* doesn't hesitate to touch Tim, to cup his lean shoulders --

Tim tenses again --

Shivers and frowns --

Shivers again and *relaxes* -- but only once Harvey squeezes.

"Little guy... this is the Bruce I know. This is our *real* brother."

"On -- on his *knees* --"

"I've often felt as though I've belonged nowhere *else*, Tim," and Bruce smiles ruefully. "Please. You -- Harv is so *gentle* with me, so -- so *forgiving*. I think, perhaps, that I've *needed* a brother who could be --"



Tim firms his mouth into a hard line... and turns to look at the floor to Bruce's right.

"It's okay, you know, Tim. It's -- well, it's *gotta* be scary and ridiculous and screwed-up for you right now, but the thing is? We *know* that. And we'll *remember* that when we're with you --"

"And -- and treat me with kid gloves?"

Harvey squeezes Tim's shoulders again. "Kid gloves feel pretty damned good on naked skin, little guy. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it."

"I --" Tim snorts and twists free, apparently solely to stare incredulously at Harvey --

Who waggles his eyebrows at him. He --

Tim blushes and *starts* to look down at Bruce -- but then he looks at the floor again, and that --

"This is what desire looks like on you, brother?"

Tim gasps and *stares* at him --

Searches him --

"May I call you that? May I... I feel we should share *more* than -- than our *inadequate* father --"

"He --" Tim frowns. "Has he... been inadequate... with you?"

"Please. Please take my hand?"

*Tim* makes a sound, and it's high and sharp and animal --

He almost *claps* their hands together --

And Bruce twines their fingers together. It's immediately obvious that Tim's hand, though small, is quite strong -- and well-worked. Bruce squeezes gently. "I'll tell you everything. I -- but you asked *one* question." Bruce laughs softly. "He offers me fatherly advice -- from time to time. He is available for -- conservative -- physical affection on a reasonably regular basis. His gifts are generous and thoughtful --"

"I -- I see --"

"I am a disappointment to him, and I always have been, Tim. That much has *always* been clear. I am too emotional, too inclined toward the arts, too..." Bruce shakes his head. "When I was a boy, he looked at me with confusion very often. Now that I am older, he makes pointed comments about *waste*. Wasted time, wasted money, wasted *education* -- as if that which we received at Exeter was anything to be *proud* of -- no. I must not... I must not become distracted," Bruce says, and licks his lips. "Tim, Mother has always been honest and *open* with me, both about her relationships, and about her ambitions for me. Our father has been circumspect and *correct*, and I find that... loathsome. Harvey believes I have been unfair to the man --"

"Not anymore I don't," Harvey says, and steps even closer to Tim. "I didn't know the half of how he treated the little guy."

Bruce flares his nostrils against the *rush* of feeling --

Is it jealousy?


Or is it simply *heat* -- specifically, the heat of *new* feeling, new *possibility* --


Tim jumps -- for the sound of Bruce's voice? The roughness of it? He winces, then, shakes his head --

And Bruce and Harvey squeeze together. Bruce reaches with his free hand to touch Tim's face again --

Just his cheek --

With just his fingertips --

"Bruce. I -- you should -- ah."

"Tell me. Please."

Tim shakes his head, and it drags his cheek against Bruce's fingertips --

So *soft* -- "Tim, I... anything. It can be anything."

Tim frowns in *consternation* --

And Harvey sighs. "You should listen to him, little guy. Bruce doesn't do *anything* by half-measures."

"Do -- *neither* of you do!"

"Heh, okay, yeah, that's true. So what do you want? What can we give you?"

"For -- for *what*?"

Harvey leans in over Tim's shoulder, and his smile is warm, bright, *happy* -- "You. *Brotherhood*."

"I don't -- I don't know how to *do* this --"

"Then let us teach you," Bruce says -- blurts. "Let us... I have learned *those* lessons well, I believe."

"Oh -- stand *up* --"

Bruce does --

But Tim was not ready to be loomed over. That much is clear by the way he steps back -- against Harvey.

"Steady, little guy --"

"I'm sorry --"

"You got nothing to apologize for --"

"You -- you're both very --" Tim shakes his head and moves *away*, moving to form the upper point on an isosceles triangle --

"Hey, not so far --"

"*Yes*, this far! Because -- because --"

"Because...?" And Harvey raises his eyebrows and crosses his arms over his chest.

A part of Bruce only wants to step back and *let* Harvey guide this, whatever it will turn out to *be*, but --

But he owes more than that.

And wants -- much more than that. Bruce nods to himself and walks closer to Tim --

"Oh -- stop!"

Bruce stops -- and raises his hands --

"I'm not -- I'm not skittish! I've never *been* skittish!"

"Okay, little guy --"

"Don't *patronize* me!"

"No. Not that," Bruce says, and lowers his hands. "Please. Tell us what you desire."

Tim looks at both of them as if they're *mad* --

"We had a good day today, didn't we?"

Tim blinks rapidly --

Blushes --

"Yes. Yes. Of course -- I. I appreciated --"

"*I* appreciated it, little guy," and Harvey jerks his chin at Tim. "We can have that all the time."

"We -- I'm going to Exeter -- and you'll be in New Haven --"

"And Bruce'll be in Gotham, yeah, I..." Harvey grins. "I've had some thoughts about that."

Tim blinks more and looks *hopeful*. "You. You have?"

"Uh, huh. See -- Exeter has the name and the pedigree, but you have to be *real* damned motivated to get anything out of your education there that *isn't* for Latin, French, or Literature, and -- Bruce?"

Bruce frowns and shakes his head. "Once you become an upperclassman, Tim, the Literature courses are as mediocre as the rest, I fear. I learned far more from my mother when I was a boy than I learned from Professor Sharpe."

"God, that woman -- well, you'll see. Or maybe you *won't*, because you know something? I'm betting your mother -- and I'm not saying a word about her or anything, okay? I'm betting she wants you to be *close* to Dad as much as she wants you to follow in his footsteps. And there are *other ways you can do that*. Other ways you can do that while getting a more useful-to-you education, even. In *Gotham*."

Tim's eyes are *wide* -- and then he shutters them. "Close to Bruce."

Harvey grins. "Close to the brother who'll damned well bring you to visit your *other* brother *all the time*."

A blush --

"I would, Tim. I know... I know it will take time for you to accept me, and to accept what I feel for you --"

"*What* do you feel for me? Do you even *know*?"

"That's a pretty good question, little guy --"

"Oh, let *him* talk!"

Harvey snickers. "Are you sure about that? Because... he'll absolutely talk. I mean, when you give him invitations like that, he pretty much *has* to."

Consternation --

Worry --

And determination. Tim lifts his sharp chin *slightly* and stares at him. "Answer my question. Please."

Bruce smiles. "Thank you."

For a moment, the determination *wavers* -- but only for a moment. "Go on."

"When I was younger, our father called me precipitous, and, for all of his faults, he has always been a vastly intelligent and perceptive man. I would throw myself at the other children in kindergarten, always striving to make connections, to have... to have an end to loneliness," Bruce says, and steps closer to Tim.

Tim stands his ground --

And Bruce nods. "It did not work. The other children found me hopelessly strange when they did not find me frightening or laughable or both, and, in truth, I came to find *myself* all of those things, as well. I simply remained incapable of *changing*, of becoming *less* strange..." Bruce smiles ruefully. "What I *did* gain with age was the ability to come to know people quickly and well. To... to *observe* them, and to use those observations to form reasonably accurate impressions of who they *were* as people --"

"You just didn't *use* that with me?"

"No, I did not," Bruce says, and takes another step closer. He's only two paces away now --

And Tim flares his nostrils, but stands his ground.

"I allowed myself to be blind around you, to... to throw up walls of distraction and *falsehood* in order to *wallow* in my own immaturity --"

"You -- you *covered* this. I didn't mean to bring it up again. I -- talk about --"

"My feelings for you? All right," Bruce says, and takes another step closer. "I am, thankfully, incapable of making myself utterly blind. Even when I was a boy flinging myself headlong at the other children, I could see that they were far more interested in fighting over brightly-colored and noisy toys than they were in discussing books, or even in learning anything about the human body -- hmm. Harvey is fighting back a laugh at the sort of child I was, but he would be the first one to tell you how much he enjoyed reading when *he* was a boy --"

"I liked the toys, *too*, big guy. *And* the games."

"You always were far better suited to the wider world... but I will not become distracted," Bruce says, and turns back to Tim. "I could see the other children, and even understand them to a certain extent. Just as I could see the people at the various interminable parties, see their blank, lying, or just hateful eyes, see their boredom and cruelty, see their *intense* lack of caring for me -- the son of the people whom they all wished to impress. And so they would bend to me, and *touch* me..." Bruce shakes his head. "I was filled with disgust from a *young* age, Tim, but my memory is quite prodigious. I remember every true smile, every moment of sincerity, every -- every moment of *interest*. And I remember how many of those moments came from you."

Tim rears back -- but only for a moment before he narrows his eyes.

Bruce nods. "You are correct to feel anger for that statement, to --"

"I *don't* need your approval --"

"Did you ever?"

Tim inhales sharply and *starts* to shake his head --

And Bruce smiles ruefully and steps a half-pace closer, close enough that he can touch Tim's face once more --

"Bruce --"

"You tried to give me brotherhood."

"I -- I had an *assignment* --"

"To become close to me. To gain some -- further -- measure of our father's approval. To, perhaps, learn secrets which would reflect poorly on me or on Mother --"

"Of course -- oh. Don't... do that."

Bruce pauses with his thumb pressed to Tim's lower lip, which is soft and smooth, but which looks far *less* plush than his upper lip. He would rather be touching that. He --

"Please -- Bruce..."

"Of course," Bruce says, and cups Tim's cheek, instead.

Tim frowns -- but doesn't object.

And Bruce nods again. "I wonder... I *must* wonder if your mother also told you that you had to feel eager to know me, that your eyes had to light when you saw me coming near --"

"Don't -- she --" Tim growls and shakes his head --

"I disdained your gift. I acted... I may as well have *been* one of the countless people I have learned to hold in contempt. Harv allowed me to be cold to you, but, at the same time, tried to lead me by example. I... I can be so very *slow*, Tim --"

"You -- not *now*!"

"No, not now," Bruce says, and suspects the smile on his face looks somewhat mad. "I am not always foolish, Tim. I am not always *dim*. When I saw Harvey on the quadrangle at Exeter, when I saw the light and life and *brilliance* in his eyes..." Bruce shakes his head. "It was all I could do not to *tackle* him --"

"You *wanted* him!"

"Badly. As I want you."

And, for a moment, there is only silence, only --

No, there is the tick of the small, tasteful wooden clock Mother had insisted upon after the seventh time Bruce and Harvey became so caught up in exercising that they were late for dinner --

There is the slight scuff of Harvey's sneakers against the mats --

There are Tim's panted *breaths* --

And he is flushing now, staring up at Bruce --

The consternation and fear are still there, but now there is wonder, curiosity, *hope* -- and something Bruce's mind will not *allow* him to see as anything but desire. There is something frightening about that -- something *dangerous*. He has been given so *much* since Harvey had come into his life, and he has taken even more.

This --

"I do not deserve this --"

"No. No, you -- you *don't* --"

"But... you wish you give it to me just the same?"

Tim frowns deeply, *thunderously* --

And Bruce has to take a deep breath. "You seem almost young like that --"

"Let -- I -- what -- I don't know what you *want*," Tim says, but it's less of a thrown gauntlet than a request, it --

Tim is *searching* Bruce's eyes --

And Bruce can *feel* Harvey watching both of them, feel --

He wants to know Harvey's *thoughts* -- but Bruce believes he can already feel the shape of them --

Already *taste* what it was like to spend the day in the company of someone brave, and brilliant, and hungry -- and desirous. Bruce lets himself shiver and takes the last half-step closer --

"Bruce --"

"I want what I can have, Tim. And more." Bruce smiles ruefully. "That answer will, I believe, always be the same." He cups Tim's other cheek with his free hand and tilts his head back. "Will you tell me... something?"

"I -- I. Something?"

Bruce nods. "Anything. I have to know you."

"You -- implied --"

"I know several facts about you. Harvey has shared others. I have deduced still others. I want -- please tell me more. I promise I will do the same."

Tim makes a soft and *pained* sound --

"Please don't back away again."

"I -- please -- I don't -- know."

Bruce strokes Tim's high, sharp cheekbones with his thumbs. "You could tell me what you don't know."

"I... everything?" And now the pained sound is a *laugh* --

Tim is looking around for *escape* --

Bruce leans in and kisses his forehead. He does it softly and lets it linger --

Tim *moans* --

And Harvey grunts. "Okay -- uh. Uh. Maybe... uh. Hell," Harvey says, and his laugh is soft and somewhat *panicked* --

Tim pulls back and turns to face him --

Bruce does, too, but in truth... "The way Harvey is gripping his own hip with the fingers of his right hand..."

Tim swallows. "I. I see -- that --"

"The way he's pinching the bridge of his nose with the fingers of his *left* hand --"

"He -- he's exasperated --"

"Uh --"

"No," Bruce says, and cups the back of Tim's neck --

Tim moans again --

Bruce squeezes because he *must* --

And Tim's knees buckle. He --

Bruce lifts Tim into his arms --

"Jesus. Jesus, big guy, you gotta --"

"He is -- young. So many..." Bruce licks his lips and searches Tim's eyes. "Many of these feelings are... quite new?"

Tim is *panting* and shaking his head --

"Please, Tim. Please tell me," Bruce says, and shifts his hold until he can *grip* the back of Tim's neck again --

Tim *groans* --

"Big guy -- you. Maybe talking's not the number one thing on Tim's mind right now..."

Tim blushes *deeply* --

And Harvey's laugh is breathless. "I know it's not on *mine*. Christ, Bruce, you -- but we can do this," he says, and moves to Tim's other side.

Tim immediately looks up at him with wide eyes, *shocked* eyes --

And Harvey's smile is the warm and crooked and *endlessly* reassuring one --

Tim whimpers.

"Yeah, little guy? Let's just say I remember thirteen *real* damned well. Lemme make sure the door -- no, screw that. *No* one bothers us in here. Or anywhere we're together," and Harvey waggles his eyebrows just once and starts working on Tim's fly with one hand --

"H--*Harvey* --"

"Shh, it's okay. We got you. Okay?"

"I -- I'm about. To make a mess. Ah." 

Harvey grins. "That's the funny thing, little guy. You're not *alone*," and Bruce learns that Tim wears briefs --

That his penis is relatively slim and quite straight --

That when it's erect it's almost *dark* -- though not as dark as Bruce's --

Bruce licks his lips --

Harvey wraps his hand around Tim's penis and squeezes so *gently* --

Tim throws his *head* back and cries out --

"Yeah, just feel it this time, little guy. Just *feel*. Don't even worry about telling me what you like -- unless you *can*. Just let me give it to you..."

"Let *us* please you --"

Tim whimpers and *jerks* --

And Harvey stares hotly into Bruce's eyes as he begins to stroke -- not slowly. Not.

Bruce licks his lips. "I want to touch you, Tim. I want -- I've never had your *taste* --"

The sound Tim makes is *strangled* --

"Squeeze his neck again, big guy --"

"*Please* -- I -- "

Bruce does --

"*Ohn* --"

"Yeah, you like that pretty good. So do I when Bruce is holding me down. He's *strong*, Tim. Stronger than *anyone* --"

"Nnh -- oh, please --"

"Maybe you wanna feel that? Feel someone holding you down?"

"I -- *Harv* -- *please* --"

"Yeah, I hear you, Tim. I hear you, and I'm not letting go for *anything*," and Harvey strokes *faster* --

Tim *shouts* --

Goes *rigid* --

"Ah, Jesus, I need -- " And Harvey growls and leans in to take Tim into his *mouth* --

Bruce groans --

Tim shudders *violently* -- but doesn't make another sound even once he starts bucking into Harvey's mouth. Harvey does nothing to *still* him --

And Bruce feels himself ache with the need to touch, to give, to *take* --

He'd always thought the feeling would be *less* if he'd ever found himself desiring a second person --

It's one of the reasons he'd resisted even -- even *looking* for such a person --

But it's only fitting that it would be Harvey who would find that person, who would *bring* Bruce that person --

All but place him into Bruce's *arms* --

Bruce clutches Tim *tighter* -- and then Tim sobs and gasps and *whimpers*, over and over --

Harvey doesn't stop *sucking* --

And the whimpers quickly turn to groans as Tim flushes once more and tries to toss his head, tries to *arch* -- Bruce is holding him too tightly for that. Bruce *wants* --

And Harvey pulls off with a slow, *wet* slurp -- and grins at both of them. "Bruce's turn...?"

Tim makes a shocked noise -- an affronted noise?

Bruce drops to his knees and lays Tim down gently on the mats. "We can do anything you wish --"

"You -- you -- what do you *want*?"

"What --"

"Don't say 'what I can have'!"

Harvey coughs into his fist -- and licks his lips. And shivers before gripping Tim's chin and turning Tim to face him again --

"Oh --"

"You kinda -- you gotta get used to answers like that from Bruce, little guy."

Tim frowns *deeply* --

"Oh -- I can do better --"

"Oh, yeah, big guy? Prove it," Harvey says, and winks at him. "Tell Tim *exactly* what you wanna do with him."

"But -- there's so much --"

Harvey's laugh is somewhat high-*pitched* -- "*Start* telling him. It might just work like it works on *me*."

"How -- I'd like to know -- ah. Never mind."

And then he and Harvey both are staring down at Tim --

Taking him *in* --

"That's *intimidating*!"

"Is it a *problem*, little guy?"

"I... ah. You. Of course -- I'm not a *coward*!"

"No, you are not," Bruce says, and strokes Tim's cheek once more. "Do you shave?"

"What? I  -- no. I mean. Once a week, a few hairs... my mustache -- what do you *want*?"

"I'd like to kiss you. To... to *nuzzle* you. Your cheek is so very *downy*, Tim --"

"I'm not *that* young --"

"You really are," Harvey says, and coughs a laugh. "But we're kinda not thinkin' about that. Much. Or at all. Or -- I think I need someone to slap me."

"Harv --"

Tim *punches* Harv's *side* --

"*Oof* -- hey, that's gonna *bruise* -- and I'm back on track. Good deal," and Harvey lies down on his side next to Tim. "You're that young. We're that -- uh. I'm thinking we'll be hearing about this from Blood -- though God only knows what that guy'll actually *say*..." Harvey sighs and shakes his head. "I don't care. You taste good. You *are* good. Tell Bruce to keep talking."

Tim stares into Harvey's beautiful eyes --

He seems almost *mesmerized* --

"Oh, yeah, little guy? How's this," and Harvey leans in and kisses Tim hard, *deeply* --

Tim groans and *shakes* --

And Bruce can't stop himself from resting his hand over Tim's sternum, from *pressing* until he can feel -- the pound of Tim's heart. Bruce's penis *twitches* --

And Harvey hums and pulls back *slightly*, eyes tracking back and forth behind the lids before he opens them. "Kinda... mm. Lick my mouth a little?"

"Oh -- yes. I mean. I'm sorry --"

"Nuh-uh. You're doin' just fine, little guy. And tell Bruce to talk. Go on."

Tim pants and turns back to face him, eyes wide and lips swollen and *wet*.

Bruce narrows his eyes --

"You -- you look *angry*!"

"I am not," Bruce says, and breathes deep, searching for Tim's scent -- pleasure. Sharpness. Sweat and an unfamiliar cologne -- "I want to taste you."

Tim grunts -- and *his* penis twitches --

"Hey, look at that, you didn't *have* to ask," Harvey says, and grins -- and strokes Tim's mouth with the tip of his index finger. "Another kiss?"

Tim squeezes his eyes shut --

His penis twitches violently and *repeatedly* --

"Oh -- yeah, I'll take that as a yes," and Harvey turns Tim back to face him --

And Tim lunges up to *take* Harvey's mouth, to -- yes, he's licking, lapping and *tasting* --

Harvey moans and nods --

Rolls Tim on *top* of him --

And Tim makes a sharp noise and *thrusts* against Harvey's abdomen once --

Again --

*Again* --

Harvey grips Tim's hips and yanks them down over Harvey's own --

"Oh -- oh, *God* --"

"Are you religious?"

Tim blinks and stares at him. "No. I'm. What?"

Bruce nods thoughtfully. "Thank you for telling me. Have you fantasized about doing that?"

"Doing -- what -- oh --*ohn*!" And Tim grips two handfuls of Harvey's simple white t-shirt and *stops* thrusting against his groin.

Harvey growls --

Tim cries out and shivers --

And Harvey shakes himself all over and smiles again. "Sorry about that, little guy. Answer Bruce's question."

The blush is impossible to tease away from the flush. The --

Tim is *rumpled*, now, and Bruce has never seen him that way, never *touched* --

Bruce licks his lips and grips himself through his shorts, squeezes *hard* and lets himself moan --

And Tim stares at him hungrily, shockily --

Tim's eyes are taking him *in* -- and Bruce can only nod and *give* of himself, try -- try to *push* his gaze into Tim's own -- "Please tell me, Tim."

"I -- wanted. I've thought about... being held down. While Harvey thrust against *me*," and somehow Tim's flush grows *darker* --

He looks *away* --

"I wanted that, too," Bruce blurts. "I -- " He shakes his head. "He was always so strong, so graceful and beautiful... I wanted to be forced down, forced to *take* --"

Harvey growls and *claws* Tim's hips --

"*Oh* -- I'm sorry --"

"No, you. You didn't do *anything* wrong. Keep listening. Keep talking. Keep -- c'mon, I --" And Harvey laughs and shakes his head, closes his eyes and *bangs* his head against the mats --

And Bruce reaches to slip his hand beneath Harvey's head -- as Tim does precisely the same thing.

Harvey moans --

And Bruce stares into Tim's eyes, Bruce *looks* -- "You want to protect."

"I -- always. Yes --"

"I want that, too."

Tim pants -- swallows and nods jerkily. "Harv. Harv -- told me."

There is *fear* for a moment, but only because he is so much less *intelligent* than his brother -- his *brothers*! "It's more than desire for you."

Tim lifts his chin again. "More -- it's my life. What -- what I want for my life --"

"What you'll *have*."

Tim bites his lip -- stops that and growls. "Yes. Yes, it is --"


Tim shudders --

"*Brother* --"

"Oh -- Bruce, I -- "

"May I -- "

"Kiss me, please just --"

And it's *difficult* not to lift Tim into his arms again, but *he* would want to stay close to Harvey, to stay in *contact* -- and so Bruce leans in and covers one of Harvey's hands on Tim's hip --

Bruce pushes Tim *down* against Harvey --

Tim groans into his *mouth* --

And Bruce has seen, Bruce can -- Bruce makes his kiss forceful, *aggressive*, Bruce pushes his tongue *deep* --

Tim shudders and twists to grab for Bruce's shoulders --

Bruce nods and squeezes hard, *takes* Tim's mouth --

Tim cries *out* --

Shakes his *head* -- oh --

Bruce pulls back --

"N-no, don't --"

Bruce cups the back of Tim's neck with one hand and his groin with the other --

"*Bruce* -- *mm* --"

And Bruce makes this kiss *more* forceful, *deeper* --

Bruce *opens* Tim's mouth with his own and growls -- no. He pulls back enough to bite Tim's upper lip --

Tim *grunts* --

Bruce nods and sucks him there -- "I want more," he says, and *licks* Tim's mouth --

"*Please* -- I mean. What -- tell me --"

"Did you like Harvey's mouth --"

"I'm -- I'm *human* --"

Harvey snickers and *bounces* Tim on his groin.

"*Gah* --"

"We like that kinda thing around here," he says, and licks his lips.

Tim turns to stare at him, to nod and lick his own lips --

Bruce can't stop himself from staring at Tim's *cheek* --

He leans in to kiss it, to nuzzle --

"Oh -- your *stubble*, I -- I didn't --"

Bruce pulls back. "You don't like it."

"No! I mean -- I do like it. I don't -- I didn't expect. I've never felt -- ah."

"Heh. Wait 'til you feel that stubble other *places*, little guy."

"Oh, God -- I mean -- I'm *not* religious --"

"Sometimes these things slip out. We get that," Harvey says. "Right, Bruce?"

"Yes," Bruce says, but he can't look away from Tim's *cheek* -- or. He looks up into Tim's eyes again --

"You -- look angry again --"

"I am not."

"This -- this is what you look like --"

"When I am... very aroused," Bruce says, and spreads his knees enough that his erection will be... obvious. More obvious --

"Oh -- fuck. Of course you're huge *everywhere*," Tim says, and *snorts* before covering his face and laughing somewhat hysterically --

And Harvey laughs with Tim and folds his hands under his head. "You shoulda been with me when I was watchin' it *grow*, little guy. I would think to myself 'okay, that's a good size, it'll stop there.' Then I'd wake up the next day and there'd be a whole 'nother *inch*."

Tim snorts again --

Bruce -- blushes. "That's -- it's not -- it's not quite --"

"Big guy. It's *huge*. And that's a *good* thing."

"It's an *intimidating* thing," Tim says -- but he's smiling. "And... ah. A somewhat... motivating... thing."

Oh... "Would you... would you tell --"

"Would you show me?"

Bruce pants through his nose and nods, kneeling up and pushing his shorts and briefs down --

"Oh, *yeah*, look at that, little guy..."

"I. I'm looking..."

"I always get a little -- heh -- a *lot* crazy for that view, knowing it's all for me..."

Tim -- licks his lips. And blushes. "It must. It must be -- flattering."

"Turns me right the hell on -- *heh*. More. Of course, it's *not* all for me right now. Right, big guy?"

*Bruce* blushes and nods.

"You maybe want Tim to touch that, big guy?"

"Yes -- but."

Tim makes a strangled noise and looks *up*. "I -- 'but'?"

Bruce shakes his head. "Only. Only if you wish --"

"You. You should tell me. Ah. You should tell me what you want. Please."

Bruce sighs and cups himself, squeezes --

Harvey grunts and arches *up* --

And Tim moans and clutches Harvey's hips with his thighs --

Harvey *grins* -- and nods to Bruce.

"I. I want... to see your penis, too."

"You say 'penis,' too, hunh? Just like Bruce." Harvey shakes his head. "I should make you both *wait* for my *dick*."

Tim shivers --

And Bruce laughs softly. "Please don't."

"Ah, this is why I'm not the disciplinarian in this house --"

"You're *not*?"

"*No* one is. That's why we're such a mess. Well, *one* of the reasons why. Scoot back juuust a little -- yeah, like that," and Harvey opens his jeans with a sigh and a *soft* groan that makes Bruce's palms sweat, makes Bruce *ache* more --

But Harvey doesn't hesitate before tugging his penis out through the slit of his briefs. It is much, much darker than *both* his and Tim's, and so *slick* --

"This what you wanted, little guy?"

A sharp inhale -- "Yes. I -- yes."

Harvey grins. "Ever think you'd have two rock-hard dicks waiting for you?"

Tim blushes deeply again. "I've -- fantasized. Ah."

"Oh..." Bruce licks his lips and strokes Tim's cheek again. "About us?"

"No! I -- not. Not the two of you... together."

"That's a shame, little guy. We get pretty hot, if I do say so myself," and Harvey grins more broadly --

"I... have no doubts about... that."

"Then why did your thoughts not -- no," Bruce says, and indulges himself by stroking Tim's mouth with his thumb again. "It seemed too much. Too... unbelievable."

"I -- yes."

"Hey, that's what fantasy is *for* --"

"No, brother. There would've been... too much pain?"

Tim looks down... but nods.

Bruce nods, too, and lifts Tim's chin. "I will never deny you."

"You can't -- you can't make promises like that --"

"I can."

Tim looks to Harvey --

"He absolutely can, little guy. *I* can't, though. For all I know, we'll get into a knock-down, drag-out argument one day and I *won't* wanna put it to you like there's no tomorrow... until we make up. But you'll still be my brother."

"You -- you want --"

"Yeah. And it's what *you* want... isn't it?"

Tim pants and strokes down to his penis, which twitches *twice* before he can grip it --

"Yeah, you *don't* actually have to answer that question aloud. A boy like you... so *hungry*..." Harvey licks his lips. "You Waynes drive me up a freakin' *wall* with the hunger --"

"*You're* a Wayne --"

"I'm just a guy --"

"No, brother," Bruce says, and cups Harvey's shoulder with the hand he isn't using to stroke Tim's cheek, his mouth, his chin -- "We're all *one* now. We -- there must be no divisions."

Harvey narrows his eyes and pants -- "I -- heh. Guess I asked for just that --"

"*Yes*," Tim says. "I -- you have to -- please --"

And Harvey sits up and kisses Tim *hard* --


Harvey pulls back and licks his lips. "No divisions anymore. No *breaks*. Just us. The *three* of us -- okay?" And he looks back and forth between him and Tim --

"Yes, brother," Bruce says --

Tim *moans* -- "I still don't know -- how --"

"We'll teach you everything we *know*, little guy -- little *brother*. And you'll teach us, too."

Tim pants and moans and nods, looking back and forth -- and leaning toward Bruce with his eyes *nearly* closed --

Bruce nuzzles his mouth this time, dragging his mouth and cheek against Tim's soft lips --

Tim moans again and nuzzles back -- and bites Bruce's chin.

"Oh. I like that very much, Tim."

Tim growls and bites Bruce harder, then bites Bruce's cheek, and lower lip, and upper lip, and lower lip again --

And then he *coughs* a cry against Bruce's mouth --

Harvey is stroking Tim's penis again -- "Could *not* keep lookin' at that without gettin' a little more touch. Hope you don't mind...?"

"Unh -- nnh -- I want..."

"You want...? What do you want, little guy?"

And Tim squeezes his eyes shut for a long moment --

Pants and grits his *teeth* --

"Hey, hey now --"

And then he opens his eyes and stares *into* Bruce. "Please. Please -- show me? How. How you want. I. I don't know how to *ask* for --"

"Oh, I *really* think you do, little guy," Harvey says, and lets go. "I just also think that was good enough for government work. Big guy?"

Bruce smiles helplessly --

Tim rears back --

"Don't worry about that too much, Tim. Bruce always looks terrifying when he's happy. Trust me -- you *will* get used to it."

"O-okay -- ah. Bruce --"

"May I move you?"

"Yes -- oh, *fuck* --"

"Did I mention that I like the way you curse, little guy? 'cause I *really* do."

"That's -- good, oh, you're stripping -- me --"

"I must see you," Bruce says, and wills his fingers to be deft, to regain at least some of the cleverness they have when he *isn't* aroused --

He feels as though he's been aroused for *hours* --

But Tim's necktie is in his hands --

Pressed to his face. The cologne has a sweetness to it, but it's mostly a musk which would be appropriate for a much older male. Bruce snorts the scent out of his nose and promises himself the chance to at least try to convince Tim toward other things.

He is --

He is wide-eyed as he stares up at Bruce, and his cheekbones are sharp, and his nose is as Gallic as his mother's. His mouth is soft -- swollen *softer* --

He is flushed so *deeply* --

Bruce swallows as he pushes Tim's jacket back off his shoulders, as he works on the buttons of his shirt --

"Oh... Bruce?"

"It's -- " Nothing. But he must not lie to his brothers. He -- "It's embarrassing... but I find myself wondering what Tim would look like in... makeup."


"You -- *what*?"

Bruce blushes and pushes Tim's shirt off --

"Bruce --"

"You are -- I feel very. Very *foolish*, Tim. I did not see your loveliness."

"You didn't -- you didn't see *me* -- and -- I'd rather not --"

"Perhaps... only lipstick? Or... eyeliner. Eyeliner can be very dramatic --"

"Big guy."

Bruce hums and tugs Tim's pants and briefs further down -- "Oh, your legs are very strong, very..." Bruce leans in to kiss Tim's inner thighs --

"Nn -- I --"

He kisses his way *up* --

No, he licks, and nibbles at the *well*-defined musculature. Does Tim run? Exercise his legs in some other way?

He can exercise *with* Bruce -- !

Neither of them have to be *lonely* --

And Tim's scent here is -- heady. There is a sweetness that fills Bruce with memories of the darkness of his bedroom --

His *lonely* bedroom before he ever knew Harvey, before he knew there could *be* anyone who would want to touch him, to share with him this strange and frightening thing that not even Mother could wholly explain to him, could wholly take the *sting* from.

His father's words had been too clinical, meaningless against the rush and *run* of feelings inside him, too cold against the *heat* --

And Tim is hot here, Tim is --

His scrotum is so *tight* --

"Oh, *Bruce*!"

And so perfect in Bruce's mouth, so --

"Oh, yeah, big guy, *suck* it..."

He can, he *will*, because Jason Blood had *appeared* in Bruce's bedroom one night and filled the air with strangely *cold* fire -- and he'd covered Bruce's bed with books in languages Bruce didn't know, showed him pictures of things Bruce had never *guessed* at --

Jason had *explained* everything, and from then on Bruce's fantasies had been much more *full*, much more *interesting* --

But he'd still needed Harvey to teach him the beauty and joy of making fantasies *reality* --

("Jesus, big guy, where -- where are you *getting* -- *unh* -- oh, *deep* --")

Yes. Yes, he *needs*, because isn't it a statement of intent as much as it's anything else? Isn't it the lovemaking which can *least* be denied?

Bruce moans as he pulls back from Tim's scrotum --

Bruce flips Tim over onto his hands and knees --


"Oh -- Jesus, big guy --"

"No *pain*," Bruce says, because other speech has become difficult, slippery, dangerously *ambiguous* --

Harvey *grunts* -- and pushes his long, beautiful fingers into Tim's collar-length hair before lifting Tim's head. "Bruce won't hurt you, little guy. He just wants to rock your little world. Okay?"

"Ah. Ah. Don't -- do we need... lubricant?"

Harvey shakes his head, but his smile *trembles* on his face -- "But I'm gonna want some when he's done with you."

Tim moans and *shivers*. "I've -- stretched myself --"

"Oh, *yeah* -- I -- " And Harvey shakes himself in a very canine-like manner and jerks his chin at Bruce. "Do him. And then be ready to keep us *both* from going *crazy*."

"*Yes*," Bruce says, but he truly means 'anything' and truly desires *everything* -- starting with the spread of Tim's firm and *gently* rounded buttocks --

"*Oh* --"

And his anus looks so small, so --

So *pink* --

Bruce licks a long stripe --

Tim cries out and jerks  --

"Try to stay still, little guy --"

"But -- he --"

"Trust me -- this is gonna drive you *crazy*," and Harvey grips Tim's hair harder and strokes Tim's mouth with his free hand. "*Let* it."

"I -- I only had a *brief* shower after karate!"

"Bruce can taste just that. And he *likes* it. Don't ya, big guy."

"*Yes*," Bruce says, and licks again, *again* --

Tim cries out and jerks again --

Shudders all over --

Clenches his anus nearly *shut* --

And now Bruce is shuddering, because the taste of musk and salt is one he hasn't had since his last visit to New Haven --

Because *this* musk is entirely new --

Because Tim is a boy, *just* -- no. Never that.

Tim is his brother, old and new at *once* -- and Bruce can have him. Bruce spreads Tim *wide*, giving himself a moment just to stare at the shine of saliva on the taut flesh --

To stare at the *endless* clenches and flexes --

("In *my* day, the *vaguely* educated people called this 'the Devil's Kiss'."

"What did you call it, Jason?"

"Good, dirty fun. Though I *don't* recommend doing anything *like* it if you don't have the materials to *thoroughly* clean one's mouth to hand. Without them, the morning after can be somewhat... hellish.")

And Jason had grinned for his own pun --

Complimented Bruce for his *curiosity* --

But how could Bruce *not*? He's *always* wanted to taste, wanted to touch and feel and *have* with his mouth --

To push *in* with his tongue when Tim flexes open --

In and *in* --

And Tim's cries begin to *peal* almost immediately --

Tim's body begins to shake with desperate *force* --

"Oh, yeah, yeah, I know *exactly* what he's doin' to you now, little guy..."


"Shh, just enjoy it, little guy. Just -- hey, how 'bout I give you two of my fingers to suck?"

"Please please please -- *mmmm* --"

"Oh, look at you rocking for this, back and forth and back again... mm. *Hot* boy..."

Bruce nods and tries to delve *deeper* -- he can't, but he can thrust faster, he can *take*, twist and *wriggle* his tongue --

Tim cries and moans are *muffled* --

"Three fingers, little guy? Are you *trying* to make me lose control -- heh, and look at you nodding. So maybe we should all be just as crazy as you and Bruce are right now?"

Muffled *words* -- no. It's 'please,' over and over again --

"Maybe. Maybe I should just push my dick right in there? Right into your pretty little --"

And Tim shouts around Harvey's fingers --

Clenches *hard* around Bruce's tongue -- and then clenches repeatedly and *convulsively* as he ejaculates on the mats --

"Aw, *yeah*, Tim, *just* like that -- yow, watch those teeth, now --"

Bruce slips his tongue out and sucks at the wrinkled flesh of Tim's anus --

And Tim screams --

"There we go, all free again --"

"Please! Please let me -- suck!"

Bruce hums and *grips* Tim's buttocks --

Tim growls and shudders --

"You *sure* you want it, little --"

"God -- oh, God, yes, *please* -- I can't -- I can't *think*!"

Harvey shudders out a long breath -- and then laughs. "I know the feeling. Ease up on the kid, big guy..."

Bruce hums and nods --

Tim groans and -- that sound almost certainly means that he's beating at the mats with his entirely clever fists. He --

Perhaps nail polish?

Lex wore *clear* nail polish sometimes --

And Tim is beating *faster* --

"Big guy, c'mon..."

Bruce had begun licking again. He -- he pulls back and sits on his heels, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He can't quite keep himself from holding Tim spread with his other hand --

From watching him *continue* to clench --

"I can *tell* how much you liked *that*, brother --"

"Brother. I... yes. I want more," Bruce says, and he and Harvey both look to Tim --

Who is clawing at the mats and panting with his head down. He is flushed all the way down to his waist. His skin is shining with sweat. His body is -- lean, not skinny, but Bruce believes he will always be somewhat small. Somewhat...

Perhaps... 'glam' clothing?

Bruce licks his lips and massages Tim's back carefully, using the lessons he and Harvey had learned on each other's bodies --

"Oh -- oh, Bruce..." And Tim looks up --

And Harvey grins. "You should see the expression on our little brother's face, Bruce. He looks *completely* out of it --"

"You -- Bruce just had his *tongue* in my *ass*!"

Harvey snickers. "He'll put it right back there if you give him half an excuse -- heh. And now you look like you can't decide whether to be terrified or turned-on --"

"You -- it's *rational* --"

"It sure as hell is, little brother. It's -- mm. It's pretty much how I spent the first *year* Bruce and I knew each other."

Bruce hums. "You were quite adept at rarely showing your fear, brother."

"Hey, I didn't wanna give you the wrong idea. You might've *stopped*." And Harvey jerks his chin at Tim. "And you don't want Bruce to stop, do ya?"

Tim -- moans.

Harvey grins again. "Didn't think so. Still want my dick?"

"I -- please --"

"Yeah. I -- don't try to take too much all at once. I *don't* need you to swallow me like some kinda pro, get me?"

"I want -- I want to --"

"You want me in your throat? Choking off your air? Making it so the only thing you can feel and smell and taste is --"


Harvey shivers and licks his lips, then shuffles forward on his knees until Tim is panting on the head of Harvey's penis -- but he's still holding Tim by the hair. He --

"Oh -- oh, Harv, please *let* me --"

"*Slow*, little brother. For *my* sanity, okay?"

Tim whimpers and *strains* against Harvey's hold --

"God, Jesus, c'mon, Tim --"

"Brother -- let him," Bruce says, sitting back on his heels and squeezing himself hard. "He has... I can *taste* this fantasy within him."

"I *know* what you can taste --"

Tim *sobs* --

"Ah, Jesus, okay, okay," and Harvey lowers Tim's head toward himself --

*Grips* his own penis and aims to make it easier for Tim --

Who takes the head in immediately, sucking and humming and *shaking* --

"Oh -- oh, *damn* --"

And Tim looks up with a panicked expression on his face --

But Harvey only smiles and shakes his head. "Perfect, Tim. Just -- yeah. Do *that* -- *unh* -- or you can use your tongue. You can definitely --" Harvey moans and shudders. "Gotta remember to -- take it easy..."

Tim hums and shakes his head *vehemently* --

And Harvey chuckles and *musses* Tim's hair. "*Yes*, little guy. Because if I fuck your face the way I want to? *Someone* will notice you *looking* like you got your face fucked."

Tim flushes hard, deeply, *thoroughly* --

Bruce licks his lips and begins to stroke himself. "I want your mouth as well, Tim."

Tim grunts and thrusts at the *air* --

"Oh -- the idea arouses you. I'm very glad," Bruce says. "I... perhaps I should... say more?"

Tim nods --

Harvey snickers breathlessly -- "What did we tell you? What do I *always* tell you?"

Bruce hums and squeezes the base of his penis as hard as Harvey had the first time Bruce had told him that he wished to be *taken* -- "You might have said... something..."

"God, you're the *worst* -- oh -- oh, Tim, *yeah* --"

"Harv, tell me --"

"He's -- mm. Lickin' the slit. Really. Really *shoving* his tongue at it. Trying to push in?"

Tim nods and hums again, *slurps* --

Harvey *grunts* -- "Love that sound. Love that *feel*. C'mon, Bruce, get me even higher --"

"I want. I want to *teach* Tim how to take you in his throat --"

Tim's moan is high-pitched, even more vehement that his nods --

Bruce sighs. "It is... a swallowing motion. A *gulping* motion, as well -- but you must wait until *Harvey* is ready --"

Tim whimpers and claws at the mats --

"And..." Bruce licks his lips. "You should touch him. You should... perhaps cup his hips, or his wonderful scrotum..."

And Tim's hands are shaking when he lifts them --

When he gazes up into Harvey's narrowed eyes --

"You wanna get me crazier, Tim?"

Tim nods *slowly* -- no, Harvey is gripping Tim's hair so tightly that he almost certainly *can't* nod any more quickly than that. He --

Harvey pants through his nose --

His own flush is so *dark* --

"I can't *fuck* you, little guy," he says, and --  oh. He's *pleading* --

*Bruce* shuffles closer and yanks Harvey back against him, holds him *still* by the hips. "I will keep you steady, brother," Bruce says, and kisses Harvey's temple --

Harvey pants again --

*Again* --

And nods as he loosens his grip on Tim's hair. "And -- and touch me, really --" Harvey groans in just the way --

"He has your scrotum."

"So. So *gentle*, big guy..."

Bruce pushes his erection against the small of Harvey's back --

Slides it in the warm *sweat* --

"Do you want him to be gentle, brother?"

Harvey groans again -- it's an answer.

And Tim meets *Bruce's* eyes when Bruce looks over Harvey's shoulder.

Bruce nods at him. "Harder, Tim --"

Harvey throws his head back and *tries* to buck --

Harvey cries out and rolls his head on Bruce's *shoulder* --

And Bruce has always loved this position, loved being able to *feel* his brother *this* way, loved being able to gather his brother *to* him --

Harvey enjoys Bruce's size so *much* --

And Tim seems so small between Harvey's strong thighs, seems --

So *determined*, and yet so *careful*. He *isn't* trying to take the whole of Harvey's penis right away. He --

Bruce shakes his head. "Tim... the first time Harvey allowed me to take his penis into my mouth, I choked myself again and again trying to have *all* of him. It ended with me coughing and *gagging*. You are..." Bruce smiles. "Yours is, by far, the better approach."

Tim raises his eyebrow -- and takes in another half-inch --

Harvey whimpers and *shakes* --

*Strains* --

And Tim's curiosity and *banked* sarcasm fades under a haze of wonder and *lust*.

Bruce nods. "You're pleasuring him, Tim. You... he's struggling quite hard to thrust into your mouth --"

Tim groans and slurps again --

Again --

Harvey grunts -- "*Please*!"

And saliva slips down Tim's chin despite his efforts. It --

"I'd like to taste you everywhere, Tim," Bruce says, and *grinds* against Harvey's back --

"*Mm* --"

"I would like -- your nipples have never been bitten? Or... suckled?"

And Tim looks up at him with wide eyes --

Tim begins to take himself with Harvey's penis hungrily, desperately --

Bruce licks his lips and kisses Harvey's flushed ear --

Harvey is shuddering and gritting his teeth --

Straining and trying to *twist* away from Bruce's hands --

"Be easy, brother," Bruce says. "He only wants your pleasure --"

Tim shakes his head *sharply* --

"No? Oh... this is *your* pleasure, as well."

Tim nods and *mouths* Harvey --

Takes *more* of him -- and lets his eyes roll back.

"Oh... beautiful. Perhaps you will convince Harv to take your mouth anyway --"

"Bruce, *please*!"

Bruce scratches at Harvey's hips. "He can stay with *us* tonight, brother. A... 'sleepover', I believe it's called? His mouth will *heal*."

"*Hnh* --"

And Tim moans and takes himself more *slowly*, which is curious -- but then Bruce realizes that the head of Harvey's penis must be bumping and dragging against the back of Tim's throat. He --

"You're trying not to gag, Tim?"

Tim nods and continues to take himself --

"Oh, God -- God, please, go *easy* --"

"Shh, Harv, our brother needs this. Needs *you*."

Harvey pants -- and his penis twitches repeatedly --

Tim makes a surprised noise and pulls back --

"No -- no, please --"

And Tim grunts and takes Harvey in again, sucks hard enough to hollow his cheeks --

"Ah -- ah, God, so *good*, so -- just this, *please*, just this --"

Tim *growls* around Harvey's penis --

Harvey *whimpers* just as he does whenever *Bruce* growls for him in moments like this --

And Bruce wants to let go and caress Tim, wants to hold him and pull him *closer* --

It's not time. It's not --

But Tim narrows his eyes and focuses on something that perhaps only he can see in the moments before he breathes deep --

And gulps --

"Don't -- ah, *fuck* --"

Tim coughs and pulls back --

"I need -- I need so *much* --"

"Shh, brother. Tim will... Tim will give you everything," Bruce says, and kisses Harvey's temple again, massages his hips -- "Tim, you must time yourself. You must wait until the head is at the back of your throat and it seems you will cough. Do you understand?"

Tim nods once and looks at him with *gratitude* --

Bruce smiles helplessly --

And Tim begins to work himself on Harvey's penis again, up and down and up again as he sucks, as he slips his tongue out between his lips to tease and inflame --

Harvey is groaning and *shuddering* --

Biting his lip and sweating --

The scent of him is so high, so powerful and *high* --

Tim slows himself --

Takes Harvey in deep --

And deeper --

And the gulp is *obscenely* loud --

And even if Harvey *didn't* whimper and go *rigid*, Bruce would know that Tim had managed to take Harvey into his throat by the way Tim's eyes lose their focus and gain something like dazed *wonder*. He --

Bruce can't --

Bruce grips Harvey's right hip harder and reaches out with his left, cups and *strokes* the back of Tim's head --

Harvey and Tim shiver *together* --

"Big guy -- Bruce, *please* --"

"He needs you now, Harv --"

"I can't -- God, I *can't* -- *hnh* -- *HNH* --"

Oh... "Are you manipulating his scrotum, Tim?"

Tim nods almost *dreamily* --

He's flushed and -- and he can get no air like this.

Harvey isn't *thrusting* -- and Tim isn't working himself, anymore. Tim is *keeping* Harvey's penis -- and this is something Bruce understands very well. He can -- he *must* help.

"I want -- Tim, let me *show* you something --"

Tim nods and groans in his *chest* --

Saliva patters to the mats --

And Bruce grips Tim's hair *carefully* and tugs him back --

Harvey cries out -- and thrusts *deep*, choking off Tim's cry almost before he can *make* it.

"Oh, you're both so *beautiful*," Bruce says, and pulls them apart again as they moan --

As they *shake* --

"Big guy --"

"*Now*, Harv --"

Harvey cries out and thrusts --

And thrusts --

And *yells* as he cups Tim's face and *pulls* him in, *holds* him against his groin as he grinds --

Tim's eyes are so *wide* --

He doesn't seem to know what to do with his *hands* -- and so Bruce takes them, holds them and holds them against Harvey's working hips --

"Ah, God, I'm sorry, I'm *sorry* --"

And Tim curls his short nails against Harvey's hips --

Bruce pulls Tim's hands to Harvey's buttocks --

"Oh -- oh, *fuck* --"

"Give him your pleasure, brother --"

"Can't -- *have* to -- ohn --"

And now every thrust is rough, *wild* --

Now he's *moving* Tim with his thrusts --

Tim is *clawing* at Harvey's buttocks --

Harvey is crying out again and *again* --

And Bruce realizes that *some* of the violence of Harvey's motions is the way Bruce himself is thrusting against Harvey's back, the way Bruce is -- demanding.

Needing --

"Please -- *please*!"

But Bruce can't *not* know what Harvey needs, what would make this even more -- "I will *always* love you," he says, then licks his fingers and forces himself to pull back enough to slide his fingers between --

To push *in* --

Harvey *screams* --

And Bruce knows that he's ejaculating even as he thrusts -- oh. Semen is spilling out of Tim's mouth even as Tim *tries* to slurp, to *keep* --

Bruce gathers it on the fingers of his other hand --

Harvey clenches and gasps --

Screams again *briefly* --

And slumps back against Bruce, panting and moaning *softly*.

Bruce kisses his cheek and pulls out slowly, *gently* --

And Tim makes... many, many arousingly *wet* sounds as he pulls back, as he licks Harvey's twitching penis clean, as he licks his lips --

Tim moans and blinks rapidly, seeming almost to be in the process of waking himself *up* --

"I want. I want to sleep with you," Bruce says, and reaches for Tim --

Tim makes a questioning sound -- and then obviously notices the semen on Bruce's fingers and *lunges* to take them into his mouth. His --

His wet mouth, so --

So warm and *soft* --

His lips are even more swollen than they were before, even more *plush* --

Bruce groans and *shoves* himself against Harvey's back --

"Ah -- ah, God, big guy, what are you gonna *do* with that thing?" And Harvey kneels up and shifts enough that he can face Bruce --

"I..." Bruce swallows --

He can't look *away* from Tim --

From the way he is *taking* himself with Bruce's fingers --

And staring deeply into Bruce's eyes. He --

He is smiling.

Bruce groans *again* --

"Oh, hey now, you -- you might *hurt* the little guy -- wait. Did *I* hurt you, Tim?" And Harvey turns to look at Tim, to *search* him. "Ah, God, your poor *mouth* --"

Tim tugs Bruce's fingers out his mouth --

Bruce *grunts* --

And Tim licks his lips again. "My mouth feels... very... well-used, Harv." His voice is -- less hoarse than Bruce had expected, but --

Harvey still winces. And then he nods and reaches out --

And Tim smiles wryly. "I tend to think... ah. I'm very happy about that."

"Yeah, but -- and I'm not -- and that was *fantastic* --"


"Tim --"

"I... ah. I'm not going to regret sucking you off."

Bruce blushes --

And Harvey grunts. "You -- heh. I forget you *can* talk like that when you want to, little guy."

Tim smiles *sharply*. "I noticed."

"And you --" Harvey narrows his eyes. "That hurt."


"That smile. I saw the way you narrowed your eyes. The way your shoulders tensed up a little," Harvey says, and reaches to cup Tim's jaw gently. "You're *hurting*."

"Ah. It can't really be *unexpected* --"

"I didn't wanna hurt you, little brother. I didn't want *any* of this to --"

"I was a *virgin*, Harv! These things *happen*," Tim says, and the asperity in his voice --

"You're quite sharp --"

"I -- what -- yes? Yes. Does it bother you?" And Tim frowns *cautiously*.

Oh -- not that. Bruce strokes Tim's mouth with his saliva-damp fingers. "It impresses me, considering how aroused you are once more. How..." Bruce shakes his head. "I'm never especially intelligent after Harv has taken me."

"Taken -- he. Oh. Oh. He -- did. Didn't he. Um." And Tim looks to Harvey --

*Harvey* smiles wryly. "I fucked your mouth but *good*, little guy."

"*Nnh* -- ah. Ah. I... no longer know why I'm... arguing."

"I believe you were --"

"Big guy, this is *not* where you help him."

"Harv --"

"I think -- I think I would like Bruce to help? I mean. That's not a question."

Harvey winces and releases Tim's jaw. "I -- am *real* damned late at this whole growing a conscience thing, aren't I?"

Bruce wraps his other arm around Harvey's waist. "Yes, brother. I think, for some things... no. We have *learned*, between us, that there can be more between brothers than what society would approve of."

"Yeah, but --"

"But Tim is young, and lovely, and, in some ways, quite innocent," Bruce says, and kisses Harvey's cheek. "I am not ignorant in all ways. You... you did not expect to lose control with Tim --"

"*Really* not --"

"It was the last thing you *desired* --"

"God -- you *know* --"

"I know, brother. But I also know that your loss of control aroused Tim powerfully, physically *and* emotionally."

"Oh -- *yes*," and Tim nods -- and kisses Bruce's fingertips. "Please -- keep explaining."

Bruce smiles and press his fingertips against Tim's mouth in another kiss. "I will try," he says, and turns back to Harvey. "I can only imagine how it would've felt if, the first time we made love, you had held back from me --"

"Oh -- no, big guy, but -- Tim is *younger* than we are --"

"And smaller, and -- so lovely, but the emotions are the *same*. The *need* is the same. You -- you *outlined* it for both of us --"

"Brothers, yeah, and -- God. God, I know what you're saying, what you're *both* saying --"

"But now that you're not aroused, it's harder to... see?" And Tim smiles ruefully.

Harvey blinks --

Stares --

"Ah, *Christ*, and now I'm making it *worse*?"

"It -- it wasn't bad, at all, before -- *oof* --"

And Harvey is clutching Tim against him, kissing him all over his face --

Bruce slips his arms from between them and hugs them both, *holds* them both -- "We must give everything, brother."

"And -- and *take*?"

"*Please*," Tim says, and -- "I don't -- I'm never supposed to beg for *anything* --"

"Ah, don't -- sometimes begging's the *best* thing, little guy! Sometimes begging just -- puts you right on the *map* between who you are and what you *need* -- I don't even know what I'm *talking* about --"

"I --" Tim shudders hard and hugs Harvey back. "Then. Then please don't -- pull away from this. Please don't *regret* this --"

"Please let *Bruce* fuck your poor little mouth?"

"*Yes*! I mean -- I mean *yes*, Harv. You can -- you can be gentle with me *later*... um. As long... as you keep. Touching me -- *gih* --"

Harvey growls. "I know I'm holdin' on too tight. I *know* -- God, Tim, just let us *fix* things for you a little, okay? Let us -- let us be brothers --"

"Yes --"

"And I won't freak out and lose the freakin' thread. I won't -- God, you're such a *sexy* little kid --"

"I'm not a *kid* --"

"Yes, you *are* --"

Tim growls and bites Harvey's *ear* --

"*Yow* -- okay, *okay*, but *I* was a kid at thirteen --"

"I'm not you!"

"And now you're *yelling* in my ear, and what if I decide you need a *spanking* sometime, hunh?"

Tim grunts and *bucks* against Harvey --

Blushes *deeply* --

"Oh, God -- I didn't -- I mean --"

"I vastly enjoy spankings, brother," Bruce says, and strokes down to Tim's buttocks. "Giving and receiving --"

"Oh -- and now I'm picturing -- ah. Hm." Tim pulls back and stares at both of them.

Harvey grins and waggles his eyebrows. "You should *hear* the begging I do when Bruce has me over his lap."

"Or the begging I do when Harv has me bent over, say, a couch."

"So what I'm saying is -- you're in good company, little guy. In fact, let's *talk* about your kinks --"

"Yes, please --"

"No! I mean -- ah. Not yet?" And Tim licks his lips -- and stares into Bruce's eyes.

"Oh... brother," Bruce says, and smiles.

"And that's my cue to get out of the middle," Harvey says, and shifts away.

There's the usual moment of cold --

But Tim shuffles closer immediately, cupping Bruce's face --

Stroking Bruce's *stubble* --

"We are *not* allowed to give the little guy stubble burn, *too*, by the way --"

"Noted," Bruce says, and leans in to kiss Tim carefully -- and deeply. He moans for the taste of Harvey in his mouth --

For the taste of Harvey's *semen* --

And Tim must enjoy being licked like this, being *tasted*, because he's moaning and trying to push closer, *nuzzle* closer --

But Harvey moves behind Tim and pulls him back by the hair --

"*Oh* --"

"You can kiss *me* like that all you want, little guy -- I don't *get* stubble like Bruce. But we can already see that you mark up like *crazy*... so maybe save kissing Bruce like that for right after he goes at himself with those straight razors."

"He -- you use a *straight* razor?"

"The shave is far superior --"

"It's very annoying to find that arousing."

Bruce frowns. "Is it?"

Tim snorts. "*Yes*," and he wraps his small, strong hand around the base of Bruce's penis --

"Nnh. Oh. Tim..."

"It's. It's one more way for you to be *bigger* and *stronger* and *manlier* --"

"He's actually pretty girly, little guy."

"I -- I truly am. Please. Please squeeze?"

Tim licks his lips and squeezes *viciously* --

"Oh -- thank you. I. I enjoy... Impressionists. Debussy. Lady Grey --"

"Eh, that last -- you like damned near everything Mom likes. That doesn't really count."

"I -- ah. I think it should," Tim says, and starts to stroke slowly, awkwardly -- but only for a moment before he finds his rhythm --

Bruce shudders and clenches his hands into fists. "Tell... me more?"

"Well. It makes you a 'mama's boy,' as it were. That... is automatically 'girly.'"

"Now *me*," Harvey says, and strokes down to *grip* Tim's penis --

"*Ohn* --"

"I never understood why being a *papa's* boy was supposed to be all that much better. I mean, let's face it -- either way? You're letting someone else live your life for you."

Bruce frowns. "I don't think I *am* letting Mother live my life --"

"Not *anymore*, you're not. But you absolutely were *before*."

"I -- oh. Oh, Tim, please -- you have wonderful calluses --"

"Thank you," Tim says, and smiles sharply through his flush. "Please keep talking."

"I -- about?"

"*This*," Tim says, and squeezes hard in emphasis --

Bruce groans and thrusts into Tim's fist -- "Please --"

"Better listen to the little guy, Bruce. He has you -- heh. No. Grab him by the balls, Tim -- yeah. Like that."

Tim *grips* Bruce's scrotum, and Bruce feels sweat roll down his spine --

His cheek --

Bruce licks his lips and starts to *take* Tim's fist --

"Oh -- that -- you never felt moved to be more like your -- *our* -- father, Bruce?"

Bruce growls -- "Never."

Tim licks his teeth. "Because of my mother."

"Because --" Bruce shakes his head. "Even before I understood the truth about his relationship with -- your mother -- oh, please. Please --"

"My thumb on the head? I like that, too --"

"I like that *three*," Harvey says -- and begins to work Tim's penis almost *ruthlessly* --

"Ah -- ah --" Tim bites his lip and *shivers* --

His wide, grey-blue eyes are heavy-lidded --

And Bruce was saying something -- important. "Even before then, he was... uninterested in that which. That which interested *me*. He was -- he wanted me to be a *scientist* and *businessman*."

Tim blinks and frowns. "There's nothing wrong with that --"

"No, there -- there isn't," Bruce says, and licks his lips. "But there was... little allowance for other choices."

And for a moment Tim's eyes are *hooded* --

"Oh -- Tim --"

"Hey, I *felt* that, little guy. Stay with the program, now," and Harvey squeezes hard and strokes *harder* --"

"*Ahn*! Oh -- oh, God, I -- I can't -- I can't focus!"

"Then merely stay with us," Bruce says, and twines his fingers with Tim's own around his penis when Tim's hand begins to spasm and shake. "We can speak about anything you wish --"

"I -- I only -- I *never* had choices!"

Harvey growls. "Yeah, that sounds about right -- and *completely* wrong," and he leans in to bite the join of Tim's throat and shoulder --


"Mother -- Mother rejects every part of me which leans toward business *or* the sciences... but welcomes every -- other -- oh, Tim, tell us a *fantasy*!"

"I can -- I mean -- *what*?"

Harvey pulls off with a *suck* --

"Oh -- oh, that feels so -- "

"It can be anything, little guy. Maybe -- heh. You get to thinking about those JSA guys? Wildcat's pretty damned huge for a guy who wears whiskers by choice..."

Tim groans and starts stroking *faster* --

*Bruce* groans -- and smiles. "I believe he liked that thought, Harv."

"*I* believe you're right. C'mon, tell us --"

"He -- he -- I think about him with -- Black Canary... ah."

Bruce blinks --

Harvey blinks and raises his eyebrows. "You *do* like women, too?"

"That's -- *yes* --"

"Hey, all right! Trying to get Bruce to check out a female of the species is like trying to get Dad to read a freaking *comic* book -- c'mon, what are the *ridiculously* hot superheroes doin' in your head?"

"I -- ah -- ah..." Tim blushes *deeply* --

"Please... please tell us, Tim..."

"But -- you don't like women!"

"I've always thought that female superheroes must be a far better class of woman than what I've been -- exposed to -- oh, Tim, yes, squeeze more, harder --" Bruce grunts and starts to thrust faster --

"She's -- she's amazing. And beautiful. And -- and she's not." Tim swallows and *whimpers* --

"She's not what, little guy? C'mon --"

"She's not -- very *big*. She --"

"Oh... she's small. Like you..."

Tim nods *vigorously* -- and begins to *pump* into Harvey's fist. "She -- and Wildcat. Wildcat is --"

"Big. Like *Bruce*."

Tim groans --

Harvey squeezes him so very *hard* --

Tim cries out and squeezes him with *both* hands --

And it's all Bruce can do not to throw his head back, not to give himself over to the *feeling* --

But it's better to watch his brothers, his beautiful brothers --

Harvey is licking Tim's *ear* --

"Oh, *God* --"

"More, little guy --"

"She -- she could -- *hold* him. With her thighs. His -- his head --"

Harvey growls -- "I like the way you *think*."

"Perhaps... perhaps he could hold her hips? Or... her buttocks?"

Tim nods frantically -- *his* eyes are closed --

"You want her to ride *your* face, little guy?"

Tim cries out and nods *more* --

Harvey *grins*. "That's it, big guy. We're double-teaming you --"

"I -- I certainly hope so --"

Harvey snorts. "You're gonna get your dick wet with a female of the species if I have to *hypnotize* you first --"

Tim cries out -- and ejaculates all over Harvey's fist --

His own chest --

*Bruce's* chest when Harvey *aims* Tim's penis at him --

"Oh, God -- oh -- oh, *God*," and Tim is panting, *swaying* on his knees --

He never loosens his *grip* --

"I freaking *love* making you come, little guy --"

"That -- oh, good. I --" And Tim shakes his head and almost *dives* down to Bruce's lap --

"Hey --

Bruce groans and pushes his free hand into Tim's hair --

They're all going to need *extensive* showers, but --

But Tim takes the head in his mouth and sucks so --

Tim pulls *back* --

Bruce grunts and *struggles* not to pull --

"*Easy*, big guy --"

"I -- I'm sorry. You're too big --"

"Oh, *I'm* sorry --"

"No! Really -- no. Ah. I just meant -- I won't be able to take more than the head -- right now. Today. Tonight? I have no idea how long it takes to *recover* from this sort of thing!"

"It *absolutely* varies, little guy, and also? No *pressure*."

"Yes. Yes, Tim --"

Tim moans and *stares* at Bruce's penis. "I like the way you taste. I like -- I like the way *both* of you taste. I never imagined --" Tim shakes his head. "I always thought *women* would make me feel this way, that -- that with men it would be the *sensations* more than anything -- um. I need to stop talking now. So that's what I'm --" He takes the head in once more --

Bruce moans and *rocks* --

"*No*, Bruce --"

Tim *whimpers* --

"Harv -- Harv, *hold* me --"

"I *can't* hold you still -- "

"You can. You can *remind* --"

"Yeah, yeah, okay, we can do that," and Harvey bends to kiss the back of Tim's neck --

Tim makes a high and *surprised* noise --

And then Harvey hitches up his jeans and moves to kneel behind Bruce, gripping Bruce's hips with his --

His beautiful hands --

Bruce licks his lips and nods. "I -- I'm ready now -- oh, *Tim* --"

The *humming* suck is so forceful, so --

It *feels* as though he's trying to *pull* Bruce deeper into his mouth --

It feels as though he *wants* that, *needs* that --

He's gazing up into Bruce's *eyes* --

And Bruce is already shaking with the need to thrust, to --

Bruce pants -- "Stroke. Stroke me -- again --"


Bruce growls and grips Tim's *hair* when Tim starts to stroke him *fast*, so  -- he doesn't pull. He doesn't *pull*. He --

He thinks of Tim's fantasy, and -- but. "Have you ever... Black Canary's fingers... must be. Strong."

Tim's eyes lose their *focus* as he nods --

Bruce licks his lips -- "She. She could take *him*."

The noise Tim makes speaks of nothing but *lust* --

"Meaning," Harvey says, and Bruce can *hear* the grin in his voice, "that our little brother has thought about *just* that. Man. I wonder what she *smells* like."

And Tim seems to be trying to say something --

Something *fervent* --

But then he shakes his head and begins to suck *rhythmically*, humming for every brief *release* --

Relief --

There *is* no relief, and Bruce doesn't *want* -- but.

Black Canary wears cosmetics. He's seen --

*Everyone* has seen the pictures. She may or may not wear anything around her --

Her eyes --

But --

And the images are sudden, and, perhaps, more shocking than they should be. The images are --

"C'mon, big guy, *easy* --"

"I -- I. *Tim*. Have you ever... would you ever wear a corset?"


Bruce licks his lips and pants --

*Strains* --

"Or -- stockings. Seamed -- or they don't have to..." Bruce groans and sweats, *licks* sweat from his upper lip -- "They could be... thigh-high..."

"*Jesus*, big guy --"

"It's only --" Bruce shakes his head and forces himself not to *thrust*, not -- "Such beauty --"

"You need a woman *bad* --"

"I don't *want* --"

"You just want to dress up our little *brother* like a -- uh. Not that there's anything wrong with what Black Canary runs around in, Tim," Harvey says --

And, when Bruce looks, there is indeed a very *dark* look in Tim's eyes. He --

Bruce strokes his sharp chin, the *cut* of his cheekbones --

Bruce tugs and musses Tim's fine and overlong hair --

Bruce sweats and shudders and *strains*, and it feels like everything he is has started to throb, to *pulse* with the beat of his heart --

No, with the rhythm of Tim's *ruthless* suction --

His --

"Your lips are already so *red*," Bruce blurts, and touches them with the hand he doesn't have in Tim's hair, strokes them and *presses* --

Tim makes a soft and almost *mewling* sound --

Bruce's penis *spasms* --

Bruce grunts and -- doesn't thrust. Doesn't --

He needs --

He needs so *much*, but --

"You're already -- so lovely, and I -- I can't help -- I would *worship*, Tim --"

"You'll do that, *anyway*, you big freak," Harvey says, and bites the back of Bruce's neck *viciously* hard --

Bruce cries out --

And cries out *again* when Harvey pulls *back* --

He's -- he's so *close* --

"Tell you what, big guy: *When we have our own place*? We all get *rip*-roaring drunk, and then we pull out a makeup kit for all three of us. Tim's little -- no way he can hold his liquor better than we can."

And Tim makes a *terribly* affronted sound --

Tim bares his *teeth* --

Bruce shouts --

"Ah, hell, I saw that -- be ready, little guy --"

"Mm -- *MM* --"

Just -- just a little thrust, a little --

But he has to do it again --

Again --

Tim's mouth is so hot --

So -- so *plush*, and in this moment it belongs to him, all the pain of it, all the *pleasure*, all the *sharp* sounds as Tim stares up at him with wide, shocked eyes --

As Bruce holds him in *place* --

Just --

Just like *Harvey* --

Oh, but --

He has *two* brothers now --!

And Bruce is expecting to shout, but this sound is more like a growling *yell* as he pushes deep, as he tries to push even deeper, to *take* Tim's throat --

It must be *bruised* --

And he will soothe, he will hold, he will *keep* --

Always --

"*Always*!" And then everything is the heat that *taught* him this, the heat that *showed* him this new possibility --

This new *truth* --

He is sweating and moaning so *loudly* --

He is arching and *losing* himself to his brothers, to the only touch he will ever truly need --

He could even --

Even live without *Mother's* --

And in this moment, even blasphemy feels correct, feels like something which *should* be given in the name of love --

And hope --

And brotherhood. He --

Bruce *slumps*, but not before he pulls Tim up into his arms, not before he can kiss him, nuzzle and *suck* his own semen from Tim's tongue --

"Aw, yeah, gimme some of that --"

*Always*, and his arms are shaking, but he can lift Tim higher yet, nevertheless --

"Oh -- *mmm* --"

And Harvey kisses Tim over Bruce's shoulder, kisses him wetly enough that saliva and semen *drip* onto Bruce's shoulder --

Bruce shivers --

Needs with a *quiet* force --

And is answered when Harvey pulls him into the kiss just as if a kiss with three people is something which can work as easily, as smoothly, as sweetly --

So wet and salt and *hot* --

So *soft* --

He has two brothers!

Bruce smiles and turns his body enough that he can hold them both.



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