No greater love
by Te
September 6, 2011

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine. Ish?

Spoilers/Timeline: AU-ized ones for older storylines, specifically The Lesson. Takes place during Bruce's childhood.

Summary: You remember love.

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

Author's Note: So, while I was writing The sweetness sounds within, I gave myself a bunny about Bruce and the Scary Bat-God. A romance bunny. That's a warning, too.

Acknowledgments: With love to KingNorth, Pixie, Jack, and Mildred for audiencing, encouragement, helpful suggestions, and mockery of my id.

Length: 23,000 words.


You laughed when you were told you'd be punished with darkness. You remember that well.

You told them that you were formed from the dark, that there were neither mysteries nor terrors to it. You remember that, too.

Even then, though, there was a moment of fear, niggling and small. A *worm* of fear.

This is what you do not remember:

The gleam of firelight on sharp teeth.

The pain of the sun on your limbs.

The number of limbs you have.

Laughter in burnished mirrors.

The dance of shadows.

The source of the ache inside you.

For a long time, you assumed that that last was fear -- the worm become a *wyrm* -- but it isn't.

You know fear very well now.

It has the taste of eternity.


The thunder is new.

You don't remember what that word means -- precisely -- but you remember shaking, and the trembling of the smaller creatures.

The *solid* creatures who couldn't shift or move --

What did they *look* like?

You lose yourself to questions.



The thunder ceases, and you wish you remembered how to weep.


When the thunder comes again, it is... different. It moves from place to place above you -- you have remembered 'above' -- and it is a small thing.

You remember, slowly, that the small, solid creatures shook the ground when they moved.

One of them is above.

One -- but who?

You strain, up and up and up --

Your limbs stretch and begin to tear --

You realize that you have fourteen limbs that have all become very, very thin over time.

You realize that you are chained.

You realize that you are hungry.


With time, you realize that there are four primary thunders -- creatures.

One of them seems no larger than a -- you don't know. One of them is small.

The other three seem average -- you remember average -- and the little one is growing.

You thirst.

You hunger.

You *ache* --

And you remember -- so, so slowly -- how to *reach*.


"Hello? Hellooo? Mother, are you down there? Father? Alfred? It's really much too dark, but I'm here now. You *called* me. Or... I don't think I *did* hear a voice. Or. Mother...?"

Something spasms within you.

Something --

The creature's voice is very low, and you know that that's strange for one such as it.

You remember --

You remember children.

You try to call again -- what if it's brought a *light*? -- but in your excitement you only screech and hiss like one of the tiny, senseless things that share this space with you.

You --

"Oh! Oh, I don't like -- I have to go!"

The creature -- the *child* -- becomes thunder again, fading into the distance. But --

You have remembered distance.

You have remembered space.

You have remembered *calculation*.

You will call again.


You remember desperation when the child doesn't come, and doesn't come and --

There is no thunder above you. There --

You remember that you have a mind, and you wrack it for explanations.

You remember that young ones -- *children* -- often die before they can grow to adulthood.

You remember that they are *weak* and *fragile*.

You remember that you delighted in this, once.

You wonder, briefly, if this is why you were punished in the first place.


Come! you call. Come now!

You don't remember the prettier words, but you know --

You know you *will*, if given a chance.


When the thunder comes again -- finally comes *again*!

When the thunder comes again, you hold yourself calm and quiet until the thunder becomes steps --

The scrape of flesh against stone --

"*Ow*! Mother --"

The child makes a sound, then, low and desperate --

And then the child makes many sounds, and they echo and shatter the silence --

They *batter* you, and you don't know, you don't *know* --

"Mother -- *Father* -- please, please come *back*!"

The child is... weeping?

You taste the word as much as you can, fighting through dust and stale, stale air --

"Mother, I'm *lost*!"

The child is coming *closer* --

"You said -- you said you'd always *be* there!"

You sigh and feel thinner and smaller --

No --

You inhale for the first time in as long as you can comfortably remember, and there is salt, and sweat, and something that tastes of a different *sort* of cold --

An *above* cold --

But the child is warm.


I am here, you say, and feel blunt, careless --

The child *screams* --

I will always be here.

"What. What?"

I will always be here, you say, and you don't know why --

No. The words came to you. The *meaning* came to you --

Take me *with* you, you can't say --

The child has brought no fire with -- him.

The child is male. He --

You remember that you are male, too --

"Where -- *what* are you?"

You inhale again, because the boy might know, might *understand* --

"Are you... are you a bat? I don't like --"

I am the Bat, you say, and feel yourself shrink and solidify and *change* --

The chains change with you.

"I don't like bats. Bats are -- are *scary*. And smell bad."

You sigh, and the thinness comes again, the *loss* --

You *inhale*, and you seek within the boy for that which is known, that which is *desired* --

And you see a male adult with hair -- you remember hair -- that is very black and thick. He has it on the top of his head, above his lip, under his arms, and all over his chest and legs. His groin is covered with some sort of tubing, and he is damp.

You remember damp.

He is showing his teeth.

The light in the boy's memory is from the sun.

You inhale again, and there is a very small female -- larger than the boy, but almost delicate. *Her* hair is also black, but quite fine, and it is shaved away from her legs and under her arms.

The tubing she is wearing over her torso is a color whose name you can't --

It is purple.

The female is not showing her teeth, but she is pleased.

You remember the look of such things.

They have four limbs, and mostly symmetrical features.

They have pale skin -- the sun would not have been kind for very long.

You concentrate --

You concentrate and inhale and shake and *shudder* --

You cry out, and the boy covers his ears and falls into a crouch --

You stretch and move --

You *become* --

And now there are chains about your ankles and wrists, and another tight around your neck.

Now you are... something else.

Look at me.

"No... please no..."

You *inhale* -- and you know the boy knows want, knows...


I need you.

The *boy* inhales --

Looks up --


You feel yourself *changing* --

"No! No, you're *not* Father!"

You stop changing. I am not, you say, and strain against the chains. I need you.

The boy frowns, and his cheeks are wet. There is heat from there -- greater than the heat from other parts of his body. He is flushed.

I need you, you say, and wonder what the boy sees. What the boy *knows*.

But... could it be anything, at all?

It's so *dark* -- no. The boy heard something in your voice. Something *familiar*.


"Are you a -- a bad guy?"

You inhale, and there's a flash of light -- so quick! So fiery!

There's a great and terrible *BANG* --

And then there is another.

You don't know --

"You're probably -- you're probably bad. Bad people get locked up. That's what the policemen said."

Policemen are people of... order. People who *fight* the darkness. This is what the boy gives you. Policemen do not always know the way.

The boy inhales sharply. "What do you mean?"

Order is not always the answer. Not... the only answer.

"I -- I don't..."

The darkness has many treasures. And many answers, you say, and you force yourself not to strain against the chains. You --

"Oh. Oh. Really?"

Yes. Yesss.

The boy leans forward then -- you can *feel* it -- and reaches for you blindly --

You yearn.

You thirst.

You *hunger* --

"Master Bruce? Master Bruce, you come out of there this instant!"

You had missed the thunder of this creature's coming, and you feel a start --

A rattle of *chains* as the boy takes his heat away --

I *need* you!

"I'll come back," the boy whispers. "I promise!"

Soon. Be *quick* --


And... bring light, you say.

You ache so much that you almost can't fear it being the light of the sun.



You listen for the thunder every moment, and with every part of you.

You acquaint yourself with the body the boy most wanted you to have while you wait.

You move the hairs on your head until you can judge the length -- most of the way to your shoulders -- and the thickness, which is very close to that of the missing male. The 'Father.'

You twitch your nose, and it is long and straight.

You move your eyebrows up and down, and they are slightly thick, and curved.

Your lips are much like the missing female's -- the 'Mother' -- though broader to match your larger size.

Your chest is flat, and broad, and hairless.

Your groin is furred with thick hair, save for the scrotum, which seems to be bare. You're reasonably sure that's... incorrect.

Perhaps the boy doesn't understand adult bodies for his species?

You will ask.

Your *legs* are as hairy as the Father's, and there is hair on your toes, as well. It all seems very haphazard and somewhat ill-designed -- why not a true pelt? -- but you remember this from the time before.

It's *mostly* correct.

You make yourself erect, just to see, and you gasp because you hadn't realized how cold it was down here.

You'd forgotten.

You change the blood in your veins until there is no pain beyond the terrible fury of being chained.

You change nothing else.

You wait.

You *wait* --

You wait.


This time, you know the thunder is the quick, eager steps of a boy named Master Bruce.

You wait, and you calm yourself as much as you can.

The boy is easily-frightened, and he misses the female and male your new form is based on.

They were... killed? Killed.

By a bad guy.

A --

You frown --

You blink --

You realize that you have taken the boy into yourself, taken enough to start to become *him* -- as opposed to merely what he desires.

You remember that this is dangerous, and you promise yourself to be careful, measured and sure --

And then there is something pale and white --

Something that ranges all over the space you're chained in --

You remember *space*, and now you can --

You can see it.

You swallow, and the chains around your throat bite deep. They are older and stronger than you are.

They know something forbidden comes.

They --

They can only stop your *body* from calling out. You show your teeth, and something within you *surges* --

Here, Master Bruce. I am *here*!

"Oh! I'm just Bruce!" But the white circle --

The *light* circle swings close. There is no heat. No... heat?

But you can see the chains leading down into the stone --

And you can see your pale new flesh -- white as the belly of a fish!

You remember fish, and the taste and tang of salt --

"Who -- do I call you -- oh, you're naked! Aren't you cold?"

The white light shines on your face, and you instinctively close your pupils to slits --

"Oh! What -- what *are* you?"

You inhale --

You *reach* --

And you know that you are smiling when you say: I am your friend.

But -- the boy is too quiet for that. Too...

Just Bruce...

"No, no, I mean -- you just *say* Bruce. You *only* say Bruce."

The other... human said --

"That's just Alfred. He's my valet."

You inhale --

And you see a man performing the duties of a servant, or a brilliantly-trained slave.

You add 'valet' and 'master' to the things you know. The things you *think* you know, because the boy --

Bruce comes no closer.

I need you, you call, and you let your desperation free, let the feel of the chains *bite* --

And Bruce shines the light on his own face. There is salt at the corners of his eyes, and the eyes themselves are bloodshot with old tears... but they're also very hard. "You -- you had better tell me who and what you are."

Your friend --

"I don't *have* friends. And -- and you weren't that before."

I need --

"Tell me!"

You do not growl -- the chains will not allow it.

You do not clench your fists.

You --

You can't stop yourself from glaring, and Bruce's heart beats as fast as its own kind of thunder, and the smell of his fear makes you rise and *ache* --

But he does not back away, and you realize... many things.

They call me daimon, little one. They call me black-thing. They call me darkling *god* -- and they are wrong. I am no god --

"F-Father said there *were* no gods!"

You smile. He was wrong.

"He was *never* wrong!"

You want to cock your head to the side, but the chains won't let you. Not ever...?

"He -- he was very smart! He read all kinds of books and showed them to me and helped me read them, too!"

There is knowledge not found in books, little one.

"How do *you* know? Have *you* read all the books in the world?"

You start to answer --

But then you realize that you have no idea whatsoever about how long you've been *in* this hole. Do they even still bind books with flesh?

The only thing recognizable about the boy's clothes are his gloves and -- obviously thick and perfectly-sized -- *boots*. Everything else...

I would hang my head if I could. Perhaps... perhaps there is a book which has tales of me in it.

Bruce frowns and stares at him... suspiciously.

And your mouth pulls itself into a smile. I have been trapped here long and long, Bruce.

"But -- *why*?"

I no longer remember, save that I angered beings more powerful than myself. I am being punished.

Bruce bites his lip. "*Are* you bad?"

I am... I am what you make me, little one. Please. I need you so very much.

A shiver --

A *step* closer --

And Bruce runs the light over your chains, examining them as closely as he can --

He steps closer, and closer still, and reaches out to touch --

"Oh, cold! Even through my gloves! Do... do they hurt? And what's your *name*? You don't *look* like a bat, even though your ears are kind of pointy."

You would shake your head if you could. I am your friend. I am the one who needs you. I am the darkness --

"Those aren't *names*!"

I am what you make me --

"How am I supposed to -- to be your friend if I can't call your *name*?"

If you free me -- But for a moment you cannot speak, at all. You feel yourself *leaking* --

"Oh -- oh the chains --"

The pain. The. The chains *know* --

"*How* do I free you?"

Blood. Light. *Will*!

Bruce shines the strangely warmthless light over the chains, showing you both your blood, and the way it spills down and down and down...

*Your* blood, little one! Your *desire*...

"I want... I don't want to die!"

And you realize, with something like an internal *spasm* -- I do not want your death, either. Only... only a little blood. A drop for each chain --

"Oh. My. My parents. There was a lot of blood on the ground. It soaked into my pants. It. It dried on my skin and it smelled like metal and it was so hot until it was cold and I was so scared so --"

I will never leave you, you say, and you *strain* --

"*Everybody* leaves! Everybody *dies*!"

You smile around the blood in your mouth. I do not.

Bruce shines the light on his own face, showing wonder and fear and hope, so much --

I will never *leave* you!

"I found -- I saw -- *wait*!"

You can do nothing *else*, and suddenly you remember amusement, what it had truly *felt* like to laugh --

You can't do it, yet.

Not *yet* --

Bruce returns only minutes later, light bobbing and swinging, and in one sweep you see that he is holding a sharp shard of stone.

You *surge* -- Please!

"Okay, okay, but -- you can't hurt anyone! And you can't -- especially not Alfred!"

I will *not* --

"You -- you have to do what I *say*! And -- I don't know. You can't be a *bad* guy!"

I am what you *make* me!

And Bruce makes a soft sound, high and sharp and frightened --

But he makes no sound at all when he slices his finger open --

When he presses --

Please, the *light*!

For a moment, terrible and cold as a century of *dust*, it seems that the chains won't break, at all. They feel no *looser*. They seem no *weaker* --

But they *do* feel lighter --

And lighter still --

"Oh! They're *fading*! Turning transparent!"

You swallow --

You *grin* --

You tear yourself *free* and you run, and you jump, and you shout!

You give yourself wings --

"Oh! You *are* a bat!"

"For you!" But it comes out hoarse, *harsh* --

You heal your throat and fly, up and up --

The little creatures -- the *bats* -- scatter sleepily and scream and screech and coil around you in a flood of leather and dusty fur --

And you laugh --

And you *chase* --

There is *warmth* -- there. You fly and you fly --

"Wait! Wait for me!"

For a moment, you think of disobeying. You remember *freedom*, and how it had felt to belong to no creature, at all --

And then you remember that you haven't belonged to *anyone* for a very long time, and that there are some sorts of freedom which are the same as being frozen.

You fly to Bruce, who is running to catch up, and you lift him high and high --

"Oh! *Oh*!"

You pull his face to your shoulder, your throat --

"You're *cold*!"

"You're *warm*," you say, and fly them closer to where his sounds always begin, where the thunder *becomes* steps --

There is *warmth*!

"Oh, I think the sun came out!"

"Yesss --" But you stop yourself just in time. You --

*Bruce* is excited by sunlight.

*Bruce* is capable of walking through that light without being hurt.

You -- are not. Not like this.

You stop them a bare few paces away from the pool of warm, golden light, and you laugh softly.

Bruce pets you, and rubs your arms, and pats your back -- "Are you... sad?"

"I nearly killed myself, little one," you say, and you consider the voice Bruce has given you. It's a cool voice, and somewhat forbidding, but there is a sweetness to it, as well. A welcome. You stroke Bruce in turn, especially his flushed cheeks --

And then you see that he is both frightened and confused.

Your face pulls into a wince. "I forgot, for a moment, that the sunlight would be dangerous to me. That is all. I am not... in love with death."

Bruce bites his lip and nods. "You -- you *wouldn't*."


"And -- you won't forget again?"

You laugh again, more powerfully this time. "Perhaps if I spend another several centuries imprisoned in the dark. So long as I don't... well."

"I'll protect you," Bruce says, stern and hard.

You consider asking him how... but you would rather be surprised.


He comes to you every day he can, bringing you books which confuse and inflame, food you have no need for, and once, memorably, wine from his dead father's cellar.

You drank it all in a handful of swallows, and then showed Bruce many shapes, all the people you have been for your owners.

Your loves.

You remember love, you think.

You're not sure.

When the 'flashlight' goes out, Bruce explains batteries to you.

When Bruce brings you a Christian bible, you show him all the most amusing parts.

When Bruce brings you an anatomy text, you study and study. You give yourself a heart, but you can't make it beat.

You take it away again.

The days grow warmer, and Bruce wears fewer clothes, with less coverage. You touch his skin everywhere you can, and he never grows colder.

Sometimes you grow warmer.

He hugs you, and tells you that he didn't do it enough with his dead parents.

He hugs you, and tells you that you look like the portrait of his grand-uncle, who was named Gerald.

He hugs you, and sometimes weeps.

You taste his tears.

And you begin to go to *him* at night.

The valet sleeps belowstairs, and you have learned that this is proper.

Practically, it means that this broad, rich, warm, and heavily-decorated expanse of room after room after room --

It is empty of everyone save Bruce, who is yours as you are his.

You whisper to him every night until he sleeps.

Sometimes, he asks you of revenge.


When Bruce is eleven -- and you were shocked to learn that these soft, modern creatures named their children almost immediately after birth, and sometimes *before*, but you are adaptable -- he stomps down into the Cave.

His clothes are torn and rumpled --

And his face is bruised.

You growl and wrap him in your wings, but he doesn't tell you anything for nearly an hour, at which point you find out that several of the boys he attends school with were abusing still another boy.

Bruce had fought them.

Eventually, he is excited enough to show you what he had done, and what had been done to him, as well.

His ribs are bruised under his fine shirt.

His knees are scraped.

His elbows are *scratched* --

But he had knocked teeth out of two of the boys' heads, and had fought and fought until they beat him down.

The school punished all the boys by sending them home, but Bruce is only upset about the fact that the bullied boy was punished, as well. You explain what you know of pedagogues, and how most often they seem to be chosen for their rank inability to understand the minds of the young.

He asks you to tell him of fighting, instead.

You show him how you would tear at the faces of your enemies with your claws, and how you would open their bellies with your teeth.

You pull out the anatomy text and show him the ways of hamstrings and tendons, and arteries --

"I don't want to *kill* anyone!"

You frown. "They are your enemies."

"They -- they're just *kids*."

"They are your enemies --"

"No -- no *killing*!"

You frown more deeply, but you nod. You show him how to make a fist, and where to kick, but the rest... you shake your head.

"You don't know any more?"

You pull your wings in so that he can stroke your back the way you like. "I have not lived in a human for long and long, little one."

"Lived... in? Are you talking about possession?"

You nod. "And other things, as well. We could exist together within you."

Bruce bites his swollen lip, but never winces for the pain it must cause him. "You mean... we could talk?"

Like this.

I don't I don't I don't know how --

You will, you say, and smile.

But sun! Sun bright death no no MOTHER --

Shh, shh. In your body, I could stand at the center of a trackless desert at high noon... until you ran out of water.

Bruce's eyes widen, and you can see still more bruises darkening his beautiful face.

You want to beg him to tell you his enemies' names and the places where they can be found.

You want to *rend* --

But you are owned, and must obey.

"You -- you'd be *safe*?"

"With you."

"And -- we'd never have to be alone?"

You shiver then, and kiss his soft mouth gently.


He kisses you back, over and over, and he is not at all careful of his bruises even though you know your cold flesh must not be --

"Oh -- *oh*!" He holds you close --

So *close* --

It disgusts you that his bruises make his flesh even warmer, even more pleasurable --

You groan and pull him closer still --

"But -- but you could still hold me? At night?"


He shivers the way he always does when you hiss without distance between you -- and then he pulls back. "Do it! Please do it!"

"Don't you wish to know if it will hurt?"

"I don't care!"

You smile and kiss him again, parting his lips with your own --

And then you change, thinning yourself to something which can be compressed, and squeezed --

He tries to cry out when you force yourself down his throat --

But he calms quickly enough.

Are you I feel I'm full --

I am here.

Oh oh oh feel you inside inside are you warm?

Always with you. Always.

And you'll never leave me!

Never, you say, and stretch until Bruce sways --

Until you both do.


You teach him subtlety, and lies.

You teach him the art of luring enemies to dark places, and then leaving them there when you're finished with them.

You teach him of the power of ambiguity, and how it is something pedagogues will cling to when the alternative is knowing things about children they do not wish to know.

You teach him --

You teach him his body, and it seems to grow bigger and stronger by the day.

On the day his penis begins to ache, you force him to leave class and take you both to the inaptly-named bathroom.

The stall is private enough for your needs -- once you force him to bite his own wrist.

After, he turns to search for you within his mind, and there is wonder --

So much --

You smile at him.

And then you make him do it again.


That night, in his bed, you spill from his mouth as he moans and tell him the darker truths behind the words Alfred Pennyworth had said about sexual maturity.

You tell him of every act you've even heard of a human performing, and you list the books you knew about which showed even more.

He tells you about a screed called "The Joy of Sex," but only in hints and guesses. He has never seen it.

You tell him of the acts you want to perform with him, to him, for him --

He grows hard, and dark with blood.

You make your own penis dark, and he touches it gently and curiously until you tell him -- show him -- other ways.

He tells you he prefers it pale, so you change it.

He kisses you there --

He kisses you there, and the heat of his small, soft mouth makes you growl and toss your head.

You tell him that you'd wanted to do this to *him* -- and he laughs like another child entirely and tells you that you still can.

Once he's finished.

You sigh --

You pant --

You moan and *curse* --

He stops to *scold* you --

And you growl again and pull his head back down with one hand while you hold your penis still with the other. A part of you remembers having tendrils --

A part of you remembers being nothing *but* an organ of procreation --

You think this is better. There is a separation to it, a *slow* growth of warmth and sensation for every part of you Bruce isn't touching, and, for the parts of you he *is* touching --

The hand that *you* made rough is on your bare scrotum --

You pant more --

You whisper that he is beautiful, perfect, *yours* --

You want to *shout* --

But you will be careful. You will be... you will be strong, and *mostly* silent --

You will moan when he tries to penetrate your penis with his *tongue*, and remember that humans leak at times like this.

You have not tasted Bruce's pre-ejaculate, but you can extrapolate and give him salt and sweetness --

"Mm! *Mm*!"

And you push into his mouth just a little --

And you tell him to *suck* --

And he gazes into your eyes with perfect trust, perfect --

You remember love, and you want your heart to beat.

It doesn't, but the pleasure is still enough that you must bite your *own* wrist, and bleed on the bed while you ejaculate more of the fluid you've made.

You know that's not quite *correct*...

But it makes you both happy.

After, you gather him into your arms and pet him until he ejaculates --

And suck him until he ejaculates --

And suck him again until sleep takes him.

You hold him until dawn comes, and then you wake him and fill him with yourself.


You learn the world with him.

This has been true from the very beginning, of course, but you were not expecting the female humans to be so prudish, and yet so forward.

He was not expecting this, either.

One female corners and kisses him at a party, but recoils when he asks her if she wants to have sex.

The two of you discuss the language used, and come up with options, but the next female who corners and kisses Bruce responds no better to the question of whether she would like to make love.

You urge him to discuss the matter with Alfred.

*He* doesn't recoil, but he says many things which boil down to an admonition to Bruce to wait until he's older. He is amused, however, and clearly pleased by the prospect of Bruce being attracted to females.

Bruce says nothing of any import to the next female who corners him, and you urge him to kiss her the way you kiss him.

This gives you time to reach within the female enough to know the shape of her desires and needs... and, when you show them to Bruce, *he* recoils.

She is like my *enemies*!

I do not think you would be allowed to beat her.

No, but --

Bruce pulls away from the female and bows to her slightly. "Thank you, but I don't wish to kiss you anymore."

The female stares, stunned and swollen-mouthed, as Bruce walks them away from her and back into the thick of the party.

I believe she will try again, little one.

Then I will refuse her.

She may tell tales...

There's nothing *to* tell... ah. I see. She will lie.

Perhaps. She may, as an example, tell others that you prefer to have sex with males.

But -- she doesn't *know* about you!

And she never will, you say, soothing as much as you can. Still, that is an accusation which goes far to blacken a reputation in this era.

Bruce grows angry, and you work his expression to something mild --

Something *bland* --

Thank you.

You are always welcome, Bruce.

It's not right that homosexuals and bisexuals are so despised.

It was not always the case. Not in some cultures.

Bruce nods slowly -- and then you feel an idea forming within him. You can't see it -- you are not quite so close as that, and Bruce is always, always careful with his inchoate thoughts -- but the feel of it is large, and dark, and smells of dust and stone.

Tell me...?

I could use it. I could become... a stereotype.

Of a homosexual?

Bruce nods internally. They're known as weak creatures. *Fearful* creatures. No one would suspect the truth about us in the future if we were 'known' to be weak and contemptible.

You watch, through Bruce's eyes, servants circulating through the decorous and quiet crush of the wealthy and fashionable.

You watch the female Bruce had named enemy whispering with another female.

You consider...

What is it?

There's something -- There is something within me which says that could be dangerous, little one. Needlessly so.

But you're not sure why?

I need... more knowledge of these humans. You are not like them.

*Good* --

Very much so.

*Alfred* knows a lot about humans like this. He just pretends he doesn't because he'd rather be a servant than anything else.

He is a very strange man. But... you will ask him questions.

He could grow suspicious.

You will tell him you wish to have more friends. This is the truth --

And 'the best lies always have a kernel of truth.' Yes, I see.

I am very proud of you, little one.

I love you. And you'll never leave me?

There is an ache whenever that last is a question rather than a statement -- Never.


You watch his dreams as much as you can, but they are dangerous things. Even now, when he has control over so many things, the wounded and desperate boy he is *inside* will claw for you --

And pull you into a chill and stinking alleyway --

An abattoir.

The female whose mouth -- and other things -- you have twitches and bleeds.

The male whose hair -- and other things -- you have gasps and *rattles*.

The boy --

Bruce screams, and screams, and screams. There is no comfort. There is no hope. There is no chance for a better world, or a brighter tomorrow. There is only death, and when the shadows cease to dance --

When the blood grows cold --

When the moon *hides* itself --

He pulls you in, inch by cloying, clammy inch, until *you* feel the fear and loneliness and *horror* of *death*.

It's very uncomfortable. It's --

You still wish to show him the proper ways to *deal* with enemies --

But when he pulls you into his dreams, you know you never will.


Bruce felt a terrible fear when Alfred told him that he would be attending boarding school, but you comforted him.

There would be no confusing young females -- Alfred's advice for dealing with them rarely took *caprice* into account, or the necessity of them *not* being mysterious -- and a minimum of occasions when it would be necessary to take anathemic strangers into the inner sanctum.

Bruce had argued that they'd *have* no inner sanctum anymore, but you reminded him of the power and warmth available within his own mind, and you'd promised, again, to never leave.

You had soothed him, and eased him, and known pride when all your efforts bore fruit.


Here, now, you have doubts.

There is a tall boy -- nearly as tall as Bruce himself, though much more lean -- standing in the center of the quadrangle. His smile is bright and guileless, and he has been turning in slow circles to stare at everything as if he's never seen such a place before.

That's interesting enough... but Bruce has been staring wordlessly at the boy for nearly four minutes.

He'd allowed you to guide him to a place of shadows, but other than that...


Little one...

I don't. I don't know.

What don't you know?

This. He. Who -- what?

He is a human male.

You're quite sure?

Yes. I scented him when he brushed past us --

He touched us?

A brush --

Was he. Was he warm?

Bruce --

I want to talk to him.

There is a lurch inside you, a fear --

Bruce is *yours* --

Please. Please, I must --

I will never leave you!

Bruce frowns. I wouldn't...

Bruce. Bruce -- what wouldn't you do?

I want to talk to him.

You desire him.

Is that. My penis isn't erect.


Am I not supposed to desire him?

You rage as far away from Bruce's perception as you can.

You flex the wings that live within you.

You *rage* --

And Bruce pulls deeper into the shadows and turns within, searching -- I can feel that *you're* feeling something strongly, but I can't tell what.

I will never leave you.

Please don't.

I am what you *make* me!

Am I... am I making you angry?


Bruce shivers then, and gathers the stuff of you in the hands of his mental construct, and pulls you *close* -- You must tell me how.

You show your teeth --

You snarl and fight --

You *ache* --

So *much* --

It's all right. Everything's all right, he says, and you realize that you need every *moment* of his comfort --


I am here, and I am yours, and I will be yours until I die.

You moan, and you scratch at the walls of Bruce's mind until he hisses like you and pulls you close. You desire him.

I don't know him, he says reasonably. Yet.

You remember love, and you don't know --

You're not sure --

There is a word within you, and you think -- you think it might be a word of power. A *Name*.

Your name?

Bruce strokes the stuff of you, and winds you around the stuff of himself, braids you *into* the stuff of himself.


I could never leave you.

The fact that this is *true* -- you remember nothing which could free him of you without either his death or your *will* --

I *would* never leave you.

I am the fear in the darkness.

You are my love.

Yes. Yesss.

He shivers then, and, outside and away from *this*, he leans his body against the brick of some educational building or another, and pulls a casually thoughtful expression onto his face.

I am very proud of you --

I am what you make me.


He smiles, within and without.

He takes you in, inhaling as if he would know everything of you, all of your secrets --

And you realize, with a sensation of sinking into the sweetest pleasure, that you would have no secrets, at all.

You smile.


You will speak to the boy.

If you don't --

We will acquire him for your pleasure.

Are you --

I will never leave you.

As you say.


"So... do you spend much time in the city? Or -- heh. I gotta quit doing that. *Gotham* City."

Bruce smiles at the boy, who is named Harvey Dent, and who has started bringing a small bottle of pepper sauce with him to the dining hall to improve the meals they are served.

You remember the years you lived in lands with few spices.

You do not feel wistful for them.

"I go on the occasional outing in order to buy gifts for the people I socialize with, or to take in shows."

Mostly to study and learn the people who will know his -- *their* -- justice in the future. And their wrath.

Harvey's expression quirks, however... hm.

I believe he heard some of what you didn't say, Bruce.

Yes, I believe you're right. I...

And Bruce smiles ruefully and ducks his head.

"Hey, what's that?"

"It's only... I'm known as one of the most socially awkward people in my... circle."

"Uh. Yeah?"

Bruce looks up again, and you help his smile grow wider, more open -- "I watch people when and where I can, Harvey. I try to... understand."

Harvey raises his eyebrows for that. "People are just people, big guy -- uh. Bruce, I mean."

Bruce doesn't need your help to smile for that. "A nickname...?"

"Uh -- it's not -- I don't mean to be -- uh. Hell?"

"I like it. No one has ever given me a nickname before."

Harvey stares at Bruce. "No one?"

"No one."


"I did mention the social awkwardness." And I cannot tell him about you.

Very true.

Harvey snorts. "I guess you did. But... uh. That brings me to my other question..."

I want him to ask me many questions.

You must show care...

Yes. Yes, of course, but --

I think this is well.

So do I. And Bruce smiles again. "Ask, please."

Harvey nods thoughtfully. "You didn't say 'friends' before."


"You said 'people I socialize with.'"

"Ah... that."

He is... astute.

I will be as careful as I can. "I don't make friends easily."

"Or at *all*?"

Bruce ducks his head again --

"Or -- Jesus, I can quit with the third degree --"

"Do you want to be a lawyer?"

"Uh... yeah? Yeah, actually --"

"I'll tell you if I don't want to answer one of your questions. You... well." Bruce looks up again, and lets his hair fall over his forehead the way a female named Edith Honeywell had said was deeply attractive. "You seem to ask questions because you want to know the answers."

"Well... uh. Why wouldn't I?"

"Harvey... that's a question that the people I socialize with have never seemed to ask."

Harvey makes a face. "Why do you stick around with them?"

"Because my guardian believes that at least some of them will be important for my future."

Harvey *winces*. "Ugh. Okay, yeah, I guess I can see it. I'm still hoping the people *here* won't be like that."

Give him a list of people to avoid.

Yes. And Bruce does so --

And Harvey mimes taking notes. "So. You plan on making friends *here*?"

Bruce looks deeply into Harvey's eyes --

Harvey blushes like a much younger boy --

"Yes," Bruce says, and smiles the way he does when he wishes the touch -- however brief -- of a female.

Harvey blinks... but he doesn't recoil.


It takes only one letter to Alfred before Harvey is Bruce's roommate.

You wait.


"So... uh. There's... uh. Heh."

The lights are off, but Bruce is no longer even close to sleeping.

Neither are you.

"Yes, Harv?"

"Heh. I like you callin' me that, big guy. No one ever -- well, you know exactly how that works."



Silence --

What do you think --

I can't be sure.

Hmm. "Harv?"

"You ever... those people you *socialize* with."


"The guys, I mean."


Harvey laughs, and there's a sound of flesh moving on cheap linens. He is restless.

You slip out of Bruce's mouth just enough --

He is aroused.


Very much so.

"God, I don't even know... uh. Never mind, big guy."

"No, I... I'd like to know."

"It's -- it's stupid."

Bruce smiles. "I doubt it," he says, and the arousal in his voice is... clear.

Harvey catches his breath. "Uh. Okay, I'm just gonna ask, and you can tell me I'm crazy or weird or -- anything. Okay?"

"I'm listening."

"You ever... you ever jerk off with another guy?"

Bruce grunts -- and fills his mind with the memory of your hand around his penis, his hand around yours --

And then the memory of performing for you --

And then the memory of you performing for *him* --

"Oh -- Jesus. I knew -- just -- forget it. I get too crazy not seeing enough chicks --"

"I'd like to."

"And it's not like -- I mean I *wouldn't* --"


"Uh. What?"

Bruce licks his lips. "I'd like to masturbate with you. To --"

Don't tell him you wish to touch him. Not... yet.

Are you sure?


Bruce shivers --

"You uh. *Have* you ever done it with another guy?"

I don't want to lie --

You must.

Yes. Yes, of course. "No. I've... thought about it."

"Oh. Yeah?"

Bruce licks his lips. "I've thought about... what it would be like to trust someone that much. To have that sort of... intimacy."

Harvey makes a soft sound, something like the beginning of a moan. "And -- you wanna do it with *me*?"

Tell him --

Yes. "You're my friend, Harv."

"And. And you're *my* friend. I -- heh. How 'bout that. I... uh. I've got... lotion."

Show him --

Yes, and Bruce tugs the tube of lubricant from under his mattress and reaches up to give it to Harvey on the upper bunk.

"Uh. What? I mean -- uh. *Why* --"

Bruce laughs. "My guardian insisted on it when he learned that there would be joint dances with Seneca Day, as well as with Rothschild Ladies. I also have a supply of condoms."

Harvey snorts. "Well -- damn. I've never used this stuff. I mean. What's it like?"

"Thick. And... slick."

"But... nice?"

Bruce fills your mind with the feel of your fingers pushing deep inside his body, inside his *heat* --

The feel of you *taking* --

The feel of your penis, so cool and hard and *thick* as he called you friend, and lover, and demon --

"Yes," Bruce says. "Though... it's better if you warm it --"

"Yeah. Yeah, lotion's the same. Uh. You mind if I --"

"Go ahead."

"Heh. Okay, then," and a moment passes before Harvey hands the tube back -- "Whoa, this is. Uh. I've seen... uh. I fingered a girl once. You know -- do you know?"

"I've studied a fair amount of female anatomy... but not in person."

Harvey's snicker is high and breathless. "Yeah, uh. I recommend it."

"As you say."

"I *do* say. Heh. Anyway, this stuff is way thicker than her juices were, and it doesn't smell *half* as good... but it's slick like she was."

Bruce warms the lubricant between his fingers. "You liked that."

"Yeah. I. I couldn't stop thinkin' about, you know, pushing right in."

"With your penis."

There's a pause -- and then Harvey laughs. "You're pretty much never gonna say 'dick,' are you?"

"Would you like --"

"Nah, nah, just had to check there for a minute," and Harvey laughs again. "Yeah, I wanted in her. She had... she was so *purple* down there. You know, a black girl."

"Oh. I've never really... hm."

"Heh. I recommend *that*, too. So many of 'em have... real soft mouths. Curvier curves."

Bruce *reaches* a question to you --

Many of them don't. You've seen them in our travels.

Only at a distance.

We will remedy that.

Thank you. "She was... beautiful?"

"God. God, yeah. Hair this -- cloud around her head. Only *neat*. Like she maybe spent half an hour or more every morning combing it out to a perfect sphere or something."

"That sounds... daunting."

"Yeah, well, I wasn't allowed to touch her there, so... maybe? Oh. Fuck, so -- uh. Sorry --"

"It's all right. You... you touched yourself?"

"Got a. Got a *good* grip. God, so *slick* -- uh. You wanna hear more about the girl?"

Bruce licks his lips --

And you bring his hand to his own penis, which is much bigger than it used to be.

You wonder, at times, if it will be as big as yours when he's finished growing.

You wonder if it will ache when he stops growing --

And Bruce sighs.

"Oh. Uh. You... got a grip, too?"

"Yes, Harv."

"Do you --"

"Did you... how many fingers did you use?"

A shuddering breath. "Just. Just one at first. And I... we'd made out for a while first. A *long* while."

"Do you like to kiss?"

"Nn -- uh. Yeah. Yeah, I do. Gets me... pretty hot."

Bruce licks his lips and narrows his eyes. "And she was... a good kisser?"

"Yeah. I. Her mouth tasted like... uh. Okay, this is ridiculous, but she *had* been eating chocolate, okay?"

Bruce laughs. "I... take your point."

Harvey laughs, too. "Yeah -- I... anyway. She really... she was kind of... tough. Didn't just wait for me to kiss her the way I wanted --"

"Do you like being kissed by aggressive people?"

"People. People. Um. Uh. Yeah?"

Be careful, little one...

Yes. "Did you... touch her breasts?"

Harvey's pant sounds... relieved. "God, yeah. I just. I was all over 'em. They were little and... uh. Really firm. Have you ever touched...?"

Bruce smiles. "I'm afraid not."

"Yeah, well -- another recommendation for ya. Right up there with ice cream and pussy."

Bruce blinks. "You use... that term?"

"Uh. Sorry? I don't have to --"

"It's all right! I... hm. It's not that I haven't heard it before."

"I... heh. Sometimes..."

"Yes, Harv?"

"Sometimes you seem... real innocent. Like -- more innocent than innocent."

Bruce closes his eyes and smiles. "And sometimes I don't."

"*Really* not. And... I don't have to ask the questions. I mean, I like you --"

"I like *you* --"

"A *lot*. You're -- I haven't liked anybody this much -- uh. Anyway."

Bruce opens his eyes and exhales in *that* way --

You *reach* --

And Harvey moans. "Oh. Uh. Was there. Did we leave the window open or something?"

Bruce inhales. "I think there are... cracks."

"Okay? Okay. I mean -- uh. What was I even *talking* about?"

My love...

He desires you emotionally. Perhaps even more than he desires you physically.

Bruce squeezes his penis firmly. "You were wondering, perhaps, about my sexual experiences?"

"Um. Yeah."

"I... have a rather large and varied amount of sex in my mind, Harv."

Harvey snorts again. "*All* guys have --"

"My father was a doctor. I had access to a great deal of medical and psychological treatises and texts. Additionally, I have perused large amounts of erotica and pornography."

"Uh... what?"

Bruce shows his teeth. "I go many, many places in Gotham, Harv."

"Heh, I can *hear* that smile, but -- you know you gotta be *careful* with that stuff, right?"


"I'm *serious*. There are... uh. A lotta perverts out there?"

"There's at least one pervert in *here*," Bruce says, and the laugh under his voice is the one which makes you ache *to* see him grow --

And become --

And change --

And Harvey rolls over to look down over the edge of his bunk. "What's *that* supposed to mean?"

Yesss. Now.


To start...

"I've thought about this... extensively."

Harvey frowns, and it's only just visible in the moonlight through the window. "Thought about *what*?"

"Being with... other boys. Men."

Harvey gasps, and his shoulder flexes.

You know that he's squeezed himself.

You know that he *aches* --

"You can't -- that's -- that's. Wrong."

"No, it isn't."

"*Bruce* --"

"I've studied that, as well," Bruce says, and pushes the covers down to expose himself to Harvey.

There is already thick hair on his abdomen leading down and down --

You want to *touch* --

You will as soon as the two of you are alone again.

"-- *what* have you studied?"

"History. Culture. In many parts of the world, at many points of recorded history, homosexuality was simply another expression *of* sexuality --"

"*Not* here. Not *now*!"

"Very true," Bruce says, and strokes himself. "But I still desire you."

Harvey gasps again -- but he doesn't rear back. "We can't. We -- there's a right way and a wrong way --"

"Do you desire me?"

"Bruce, this isn't -- stop joking *around* --"

"I'd like to fellate you. Do you know that word?"

"It's -- freaking Latin. I'm *good* at Latin --"

"You're good at a lot of things. You --"

Gently, little one...

Bruce takes a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to... pressure you."

Harvey's laugh is somewhat hysterical and wild. "That's -- that's *my* line --"

"I'd like for you to pressure me. I'd like... have you ever taken yourself with your fingers?"

Harvey grunts -- and stares. "You. You've done that?"

Bruce licks his lips, and then you both remember Bruce begging you to make your fingers longer, *harder* --

And Harvey groans. "Bruce -- *Jesus*, Bruce, you gotta be *careful*!"

"With you?"

"*Yes* with -- no. No, I don't. You don't ever have to -- to lie to me, or --" Harvey swallows. "We were. We were just gonna jerk off, yeah?"

"You could come down here --"

"*Bruce* --"

"You desire me. I've seen it in your eyes."

"You're -- you're a real handsome guy, real. Uh. There's nothing -- it doesn't *mean* anything --"

"I'll never betray you, Harv. I'll never use you. I'll never... I know what friendship means."

"Yeah? *How*?"

I want --

I know, little one. Perhaps... someday.

Yes. Yes, *please* --

Tell him...

"I know what I've always wanted. I know what I wanted when I first saw you smiling on the quadrangle. I know -- I believe in us."

The noise Harvey makes is strangled -- "What -- what do you *want*?"

"I'll tell you. I'll tell you everything."

"You -- *fuck*, Bruce --"

"Are you harder now?"

"*Yes* -- I should be -- I shouldn't -- oh --"

And Bruce stands, letting his pajama pants puddle around his ankles --

"*Jesus*, Bruce --"

"Sit up? So I can see you."

"Any -- anyone can come *in* --"

And Bruce laughs. "I don't know about you, Harv... but I'm not expecting this to take very much time, at all."

Harvey chokes -- "Funny guy. I'll give you *time* -- uh. That didn't even *work* -- fuck," and Harvey sits up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bunk. "*Happy*?"

"Oh... your penis is... very dark..."

"*Nnh* -- uh. I'm -- I'm part American Indian -- that's not important -"

"Your penis is also intriguingly slender --"

"Jesus, Bruce, I'm a growing *boy*!"

Bruce grins. "So am I," and he steps back so that Harvey can see his penis again --

And Harvey moans -- "That's -- uh. Yeah, I'm gonna keep callin' you big guy --"

"I want to take your penis into my mouth, Harv."

"Jesus -- you *said* --"

"I'd like... stroke yourself?"

"Yeah. Yeah, okay -- you, too!"

And you bring Bruce's hand to his groin. You cup and squeeze his scrotum until *he* moans --

And then you begin to stroke his penis in the rough, slow motions that please you best --

And Bruce flushes warm, so very -- "I want to *hold* you in my mouth, Harv."

"Oh -- yeah?"

"I want to... to lick you. All over."

Harvey whimpers. "I -- I dunno if I can *take* that --"

"I've thought about... making you take it --"

"*Fuck* --" And Harvey grunts and squeezes himself viciously --

You do the same to Bruce, who *also* grunts -- and shudders. "I want to taste your pre-ejaculate --"

"Bruce -- fuck, Bruce --"

"I can smell it like this, Harv. It makes my mouth water --"

"*Bruce* --"

"It makes me *ache*."

And Harvey whimpers again, staring as he strokes himself *frantically* --

Please, my love --

Yesss. And you stroke him faster, *harder* --

"Oh -- oh, *fuck* --"

"Will you touch me this way, Harv?"

"I -- please --"

"Will you... mm. Your hands are very rough. Very *hard*."

"Love -- love my own calluses -- oh -- please say more, please --"

"I want to bite your nipples -- and your throat. I want to push my fingers deep inside you, and then kiss you when you cry out. Will you cry out?"

"I -- nnh -- *hnh* --" And Harvey catches his ejaculate in his palm as he shakes --

As his -- hairless -- toes curl --

He never closes his eyes, and you understand this very well. Bruce is so very beautiful like this --

And in every other way.

He's panting now, staring at Harvey's sticky hand --

I *want* --

Tell him. Tell him!

"Let me *taste* you, Harv!"

Harvey's penis twitches powerfully -- and he pushes his shaking hand toward Bruce's mouth --

And he bites his lower lip --

And he moans, low and powerful when Bruce takes his fingers into his mouth --

When you open your mouth *within* Bruce --

When you lick out just *so* --

"Oh -- cold?"

You draw back --

"Nnh -- don't -- don't know what I'm talkin' about -- God, big guy, what do you want *me* to say?"

Bruce sucks *hard*, and fills your mind with the taste, the *texture* --

"I -- I don't know if I can -- I mean, I only know how to talk dirty to *girls*. Not that that was -- okay, no, that was pretty freaking dirty --" And Harvey laughs. "Do you want me to... you know..." And Harvey begins to thrust his fingers into Bruce's mouth --

You shudder with Bruce for the sense of breach, of *taboo* --

And then you laugh within him. You have belonged to only one person for six years as measured in this dimension now.

Once, this would've seemed to be no time, at all.


Every day is a new eternity of light, and shadow, and *pleasure*.

And Harvey will give us more, my love.

Oh, yes, you say, and stroke Bruce quickly, *brutally* --

"Feel -- should I be tellin' you to take it *easy* on your dick?"

Bruce shakes his head and smiles around Harvey's fingers, *bites* Harvey's fingers --

"Oh -- fuck. You want *my* hand, yeah?"

You squeeze him --

"You want... you want me to be mean to you, to... to be a little dirty."

You bring Bruce's other hand back to his scrotum.

Harvey licks his lips and takes Bruce's mouth far less gently -- "You ever want me to do you, big guy? To *fuck* you --"

Bruce bucks, and you fill each other's minds with the taste of the pillowcase Bruce bit whenever he wished to quiet himself under your *assault* --

"Oh. Oh, yeah. You're so freaking -- you're big, and -- and your ass looks so *hard* --"

Bruce sucks Harvey's fingers and nods, staring into his eyes --

Harvey moans -- "Come. You gotta come, because I -- I don't think -- ah, Jesus, I want you to come in my *mouth* --"

Bruce tenses in just the right way --

And you release his scrotum in order to catch his ejaculate --

"Fuck, *look* at you," Harvey says, and his eyes are wide and dazed --

And you force Bruce to keep his eyes open --

And it takes only moments for Harvey to jump down and bring Bruce's hands to his mouth. He tries to lick both of them at once --

He nuzzles and *bites* --


"Jesus, just -- I don't know, I don't know what to do --"

"I'll show you," Bruce says, and pushes Harvey down on his narrow bed.


Harvey comes back from Thanksgiving break with bruises, but no answers to Bruce's questions, no matter how subtly he asks.


Harvey refuses your invitation to the manor two days into Christmas break, but agrees to let Alfred drive you both back to Exeter after spending New Year's Eve together in the manor. 

When he arrives, the bruises on his face and throat are yellowed, ugly things, and his gaze darkens to something almost alien when Bruce mentions his father.

Say nothing else of it.

But --

Let me... examine the man.

For a long moment, Bruce only studies Harvey's un-bruised cheek as Harvey looks determinedly at the television news.

Then he touches Harvey's cheek --

"Hey, hey, what about your guardian?"

"I asked him to give us privacy."

"Uh. What?"

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "I try not to ever lie to him, Harv."

"Uh. Uh. Well. That's -- I got nothin' here. Help me out, big guy."

Bruce smiles. "He told me that dinner would be ready at five. Until then... we can do whatever you wish."

Harvey's expression speaks vividly of consternation -- but then he winces, very obviously for the pain from his facial bruises.

Little one...

Yes. "Excuse me for just a moment," Bruce says, and takes you into the master bath, which has a wonderfully silent window. He exhales --

And you form yourself winged and rampant. "I will learn everything I can."

Bruce nods slowly. Thoughtfully. "Will you hurt him?"

"If what we both believe is true."

"Will you --" And Bruce winces and shakes his head.

Your boy. Your beauty. Your...

You remember love, and you wonder if it ever tasted like the smoke above an altar.

You cup Bruce's face, and give yourself a moment to note that Bruce is barely six inches shorter than he'd made you now, and is nearly your breadth. You wonder, idly, if he will need you to grow larger --

And then you give all of yourself over to kissing him, and stroking him, and warming yourself with his perfect flesh, his beautiful --

He moans into your mouth and surrenders the way he always does --

You don't have *enough* of this when he's in school --

You lick his cheeks with a relatively dry tongue.

You thrust the *tip* of your tongue into his suprasternal notch --

"My love --"

"I thought, perhaps, I would take away his ability to care for a child," you whisper.

For a moment, Bruce looks thrilled and *relieved* -- but only for a moment. "Harvey might wish to leave school in order to care for him."

You narrow your eyes. Harvey *is* that noble. Still -- "There are other ways."

"Please tell me --"

"I can imprison him. I can take him to a place where time does not move. He will exist in one moment of time until I free him again. If he is hungry, he will stay hungry. If he thirsts, he will continue to thirst."

"And if he is pained..."

You smile, and slit your pupils. "Yesss."

"This... you could do this?"

"Of course --"

"Even though *you* were imprisoned?"

At times, there is no human more noble than your boy. You cup his face again. "Perhaps I deserved it this much."

Bruce frowns more deeply. "I cannot believe that."

"I am what you make me, little one. I was not always this."

For a moment, the frown remains on Bruce's face, but he nods just the same. You both know he is still troubled...

"I will learn everything about him before I do anything --"

"I trust you."

You stroke his cheeks with your thumbs.

You do not frown.

You *consider* -- "Make Harvey your *brother*, Bruce."

Bruce gasps and rears back. "Oh -- I. Truly?"

You lean in to nuzzle his ear, and then you hiss, long and cool.

You take his shivers --

You take his growing scents of hope, and happiness --

"I will never leave you," you say, and fly.


Lester Aloysius Dent prefers bourbon to other beverages. *All* other beverages.

He also prefers redheads to 'that blonde bitch' he married seventeen years ago, and who had left him ten years ago.

He thinks books are for 'pussies.'

He thinks lawyers are all 'wannabe Jews.'

He thinks *Jews* are cheating, lying, money-grubbing -- the list goes on.

When you begin to hurt him, he tells you various inaccurate things about his son.

When you push into his mind, you see that the female's name had been Helen, and that her features had been quite symmetrical before the introduction of bourbon into Lester's life.

You search for information about Harvey, and you find the satisfying crush of knuckles against flesh --

The crack of a belt --

The tinkle of broken glass --

You know enough.

You shift as you have not done --

You don't know how long it's been.

This does not stop you from opening yourself and pulling Lester through into a place of stillness.

The grey place.

The desperate, mad screams of the others you have trapped here brings back the *flavor* of memories, but not the memories themselves.

You bury Lester up to his neck in cold, dusty shards of ancient bone and interrogate the screamers for a time/no time.

When you are satisfied that you wish them all to remain where they are, you go back to Lester's apartment.

You examine it.

You consider.

You decide to leave the blood spatter where it is, so that the policemen will have a narrative they can understand.

You fly.


Bruce demands that you tell him everything once Harvey is asleep, and so you do.

You lick away his tears until he shivers and calms, and you do not need him to tell you that they are for Harvey, and for the missing Helen.

It warms you that he does just the same.


Harvey Dent becomes the ward of Alfred Pennyworth by the end of January.

You study, and you work, and you consider how best to make everything perfect, but there is much you only learn when Harvey tells Bruce.

Harvey understands humans in ways you don't believe you *ever* considered, and certainly it's all very new to Bruce.

When he weeps, it has the roughness of disuse and *frustrated* pain.

You are as you were made.

You are --

You reach for him when he weeps while Bruce sleeps in the next room --

He shivers and tosses --

You show yourself.

"What -- who --"

"I am Bruce's."

"You -- uh. You're a big, naked meta is what you are. Do I need to call the cops?" He reaches subtly for the baseball bat which is the only possession he took from Lester Dent's apartment.

"Please wait."

"Look, guy -- I mean. I can get you some clothes --"

"I never wear clothes."


You smile, and you *reach* --

"Fuck, *cold* -- and. Real damned familiar what the *fuck*?"

"I am Bruce's," you say again.

"Bruce's *what*?"

You cock your head to the side. "Demon. That is one of the things I've been called."

"What's your *name*?"

"I don't know."

"Okay, so you're crazy --"

"I live in him during the days, and when he is with you. I come out to hold him at night, and tell him stories, and make love -- please don't call out, yet. Alfred doesn't know."

"Maybe he fucking *should*!"

"I will show you," you say, and leap down his throat. He struggles --

He screams with no voice --

And there is a schism in his mind, terrible and deep.

Hands that feel like Lester's try to grab and beat you, while Harvey's soft, brown eyes only ask you for explanations.

You know of this thing. You read of it with Bruce.

You *show* Harvey the schism, and then flow out of his mouth once he recoils.

"What -- you -- oh, God what was -- I don't understand --"

You grip his shoulders, letting your claws just barely prick his flesh.

You sigh for the scent of blood --

"Harvey. Bruce needs you."

"You -- I'll never hurt him --"

"Bruce needs you *happy*, and whole."

Harvey flinches then, and the terror in his eyes makes you want to rub more bone-dust into Lester's wounds.

You'll do that later. For now... "You'll be his brother. I need him to have you as his brother."

"His -- don't deserve --"

"He loves you. He needs you."

"I can't -- I'm *sick*, God fucking help me, I'm *sick* --"

"Will you do what it takes to be well?"

"What. What does that -- he needs me?"

You nod then, and you tell him of your jealousy, of *your* need.

You tell him how you were made, and you show him your seams.

He doesn't understand, but...

"I'll do it. I'll fucking -- anything he needs! *Anything*!"

You smile then, and reach for Bruce, who wakes and comes looking for you.

For both of you.

"I -- whoa, big guy, did I wake you up?"

Bruce stares at you with wonder -

With happiness and love --

"Thank you," he says, and inhales --

You bury yourself in his warmth.

"Uh. You just -- and he's in you. The way he was in *me*."

"Oh... yes?"

Yes. I had to see the shape of his pain.

Bruce nods and sits next to Harvey on the bed, and strokes the tear stains on his cheek --

"I'm okay, big guy -- okay, I'm *not*, but -- uh. He's *in* you?"


"And... he's... *always* in you?"

"Except when he holds me, or when we make love as two people."

Harvey blinks. "Uh. You. How *long* --"

"I first heard his call -- he was imprisoned in the caves beneath the manor -- when I was seven. I thought he was a particularly large bat, and ran away. I fell into the caves again after my parents were killed, and then I freed him. He has been with me ever since."

"And..." Harvey searches him. "How *long* has he been... you know, touching you?"

Bruce laughs. "You're worried for me."

"Big guy, you have a child-molesting demon inside you."

Bruce nods thoughtfully. "I suppose you could see it that way."

"There's no *other* -- or. Fuck. He said -- he *showed* me things in my head, Bruce. Bad -- really bad things."

Bruce takes Harvey's hand. "Tell me?"

"Yeah, I -- wait. First answer *my* question?"

"He first entered me -- possessed me, I suppose -- when I was eleven. It aroused me powerfully... but only emotionally. Alfred explained puberty to me not long after that and, a little less than two years ago, I began having erections." Bruce smiles. "Which my love was exceedingly helpful with."

"Your -- but. He doesn't know his name, so you can't exactly --" Harvey squeezes his eyes shut. "My head hurts."

"Let me," Bruce says, and begins massaging Harvey's temples the way you'd taught him. His fingers are deft and gentle.

You know they are warm, as well.

"How *old* is he?"

"He doesn't know, though the things he describes from before he was imprisoned..." Bruce shakes his head. "I believe he's very old, indeed."

Harvey nods. "And... uh. He looks..."

"Yes, Harv?"

"You -- you have real -- your hands are great," Harvey says, and laughs nervously.

For months, that was the laugh he used when he wished to begin something sexual. You do not think this is the case now --

And Bruce pauses in his massage. "What is it, Harv?"

Harvey looks up into Bruce's eyes and smiles ruefully. "He looks like your brother. Your -- older brother."

Bruce blinks. "He isn't -- oh. Hm."

"Uh. You didn't notice that?"

"I... I always found him to be very handsome. When I was younger, I thought he looked somewhat like Gerald Kane, but, over time, that description came to seem too simplistic."

Harvey coughs. "Uh. Yeah, I. I mean, he's got your Dad's hair, only longer, and that's -- your Mom's eyes. Your Mom's *mouth* and... uh. I mean, you've showed me all the pictures."

Bruce nods slowly, thoughtfully --

I am what you make me.


I am not sure that is what you wish, little one.

Perhaps... not when I was younger...

Harvey will be your brother --

Need I have only one?

"Uh. You in there, big guy? Oh -- hell. You're talking things out with -- him?"

"Yes," Bruce says, and smiles. "He shaped himself to be what I most wanted to see when I was a child. He's shown me other shapes --"

"Uh. What's his *real* shape?"

"He doesn't know," and Bruce goes back to massaging Harvey's temple and face. "But he showed me the form he was imprisoned in. Fourteen limbs, very dark and shadowy. At least ten eyes --"

They were not eyes as you know them. They looked within.

"Hm. Apparently, they weren't eyes. In any event, it was deeply intimidating."

Harvey is staring at Bruce.


Harvey blinks once --

Bites his lip --

And then laughs, long and with apparent helplessness.

Bruce smiles and drinks it in as he always does. "Will you share the joke?"

Harvey flaps a hand. "I -- uh. Heh. Heh heh. Uh. You? I mean -- you've got an apparently immortal demon who made himself look like a *relative* -- a *close* relative -- and you're his *lover*... what do you need with me, big guy?"

Some of that was not a joke.

Yes, I see. Bruce leans in and kisses Harvey's forehead. "I will always need you, Harv. I needed you --"

"*What*? What *about* me?"

"Your mind. Your humor. Your wisdom. Your understanding. Your -- you're so *human*, Harv, and you're... very often I think that you're the best humanity has to *offer* --"

"Whoa -- hey --"

"From the very first moment I *saw* you --"

"Bruce --"

"I love you, Harv. I need you -- I'll need you forever," and Bruce takes Harvey's hands in his own. "Please stay. Please be with me."

Harvey shivers and looks down at his hands. "How... how often does he tell you what to say to people? To me?"

Bruce smiles ruefully. "Sometimes. Far more rarely than he used to, when I was young and even more awkward --"

"You're not --"

"We learned this world together, Harv. But there was much -- *is* much -- that remained terribly confusing. *You're* changing that for both of us. And..." Bruce smiles more broadly. "Sometimes you laugh when you're not, truly, amused -- but not in the same manner as the false laughs I'd grown used to with the people I socialized with before I met you. I needed him to tell me what those laughs meant. Additionally, he guided me in how to seduce you. I know what you must be thinking..." Bruce shakes his head. "The only lies I ever told you were about my sexual experiences, and about having a friend."

Harvey searches Bruce for that --

He has known many lies.

Yes, I see. "He calls me... sometimes, he calls me 'little one.'"

Harvey coughs again. "Uh."

Bruce laughs softly. "I believe I will be taller and broader than the form he chose one day... but I also believe that I will always be his little one."

"I'm -- I don't know if I'm jealous or *not*, big guy."

"We can be together, Harv. All of us."

Harvey's eyes are wide, shocked --

Perhaps not this, little one. Not... yet.

Hmm. As you say. Bruce raises Harvey's hands to his mouth, and kisses the knuckles one at a time. "He just suggested that I don't recommend the ménage à trois right away."

Harvey's laugh is an explosion of breath --

And Bruce smiles. "Brother."

"I -- I -- yeah. Brother," Harvey says, twisting his hands free and using them to pull Bruce close.


Harvey is less sanguine about Bruce's plans for the future, but you help Bruce to be convincing.

Bruce had already collected large amounts of evidence in support of the conclusion that multiple members of the Justice Society are human.

You are proud of Bruce always.



You're being watched, little one.

Can anyone see my sketches?

No. But the male known as Lex would like to.

Bruce narrows his eyes, and absently strokes the unmarked parts of the page on which he's sketching Harvey's torso.

You believe that is like his skin.

It isn't. It -- hm. Lover...

I am here. Always.

This isn't the first time he's watched me.

He watches Harvey as well, at times.

I believe he's hoping to catch us making love.

Yes, you do.

Bruce smiles, and turns to a blank page -- and begins sketching an image of your back and wings. You don't agree.

In truth... In my observations, sexually satisfied humans are most attractive to other humans.

I don't believe Lex is truly a homosexual, lover.

You wonder about this. You wonder about many things.

You --

Bruce is sixteen now. Harvey will be seventeen in a matter of days --

What is it, lover? Is he getting closer?

Bruce is sitting with his back to a tree which abuts an intersection. It's busy today -- it's 'Homecoming' -- and so no one can comfortably move close without gaining Bruce's attention.

You want to cover him just the same.

Bruce narrows his eyes once more, but doesn't look up from the page. He's getting to be a wonderful artist --

And only you and Harvey get to see it, save for when he draws portraits especially for Alfred.


I am here.

What troubles you?

I am changing to you.

Hmm. Are you sure I'm not changing to *you*?

You bite back the first retort. You --

You are not sure.

Still -- I am what you make me.

Bruce nods thoughtfully. I will never leave you.


Bruce smiles. Are you unsure?

You rise within him, making his shoulder blades itch for the feel of your crushed wings, making his fingers shake and need to *rend* --

Perhaps you should fly tonight.

I would take you with me.

Bruce hums, internally and not. Would you have me gasp and strain, lover?

His penis is nearly as large as yours now.

He hisses as you stroke it from the inside. I wish...

Tell me.

You are the darkness. You are vengeance. You are my brother and lover and first friend. I would have a name to call you.

Do you need one? After all this time?

Sometimes, now, there is an ache where a name would go.


I believe... I believe Harvey's discomfort is a part of it.


All is well. You are... everything.

*Not* everything.

No...? Very well; you *give* me everything.


Of course --

You are smoke and shadow in Bruce's mouth --

And your senses -- not Bruce's -- give you the scent of the sweet perfume Lex wears when he wishes to anger authority figures. It only *seems* as though Lex has not moved from his carefully languid pose against the second-nearest tree.

His soul is closer.

He comes, little one.

Then Harvey would have me go. But...

I would like to know why -- precisely why -- he watches.

Bruce hums again, and sketches the veining on the underside of your wing. You would protect me from Harvey's wrath with that excuse...?

It might work.

For a time... until I admitted my attraction, Bruce says, and looks up to stare at Lex's pale cheek until Lex turns to meet Bruce's eyes.

His smile is only a smirk until you study his eyes.

Little one...

Yes, I see. That's... new.


Bruce hums again, closes his sketchbook, and stands before closing the distance between them.

You study the rest of the quadrangle -- there is no one near.

Bruce will have time.


"Lex. What can I do for you?"

A flare behind his eyes... but he recovers quickly. "I don't believe I summoned you to this fine oak --"

"I believe it's an elm."

"It's a matchstick as soon as it gets to Metropolis," Lex says, and waves a hand.

The motion is *almost* honest --

Yes, I see. Bruce raises an eyebrow. "You were watching me."

"Was I...?"

"I pay attention to such things whenever I'm sketching in public."

Lex smiles brightly. "Does that mean there's something interesting in there, Brucie...?"

"Of course," Bruce says, and raises his eyebrow higher. "To me."

Lex purses his lips. "You don't usually play this game -- or any other -- with me."

Hmm. I like this.

Enjoy it.

As you say, Bruce says, and cocks his head to the side. "I won't say I've never considered it."

"Oh, my. Are we *considering* things now...?"

Bruce shows his teeth -- and then smiles. "I'd very much like to know what *you've* been considering."

"Hmm. Show me what you were just sketching...?"

Bruce closes his eyes for a moment... and opens the book unerringly to the sketch of your back.

The wings are and aren't like a bat's. They're quite thick, and the leather is not mammalian in nature.

You remember when he couldn't capture that, at all.

You are so proud, so full --

And Lex is very, very confused.

*You* hum. Tease him.

Yes, I think I will. "Satisfied...?"

"Somehow... I never expected you to be drawn to..." Lex frowns. "Is that... fantasy art? Hank Hazetta?"

Harvey had introduced you both to his work. Bruce was deeply disturbed by much of it, but had approved of the skill --

"He's something of an influence, yes," Bruce says, and closes the sketchbook again.

Lex stares at it as if he wishes to dissect it.

Lover, Lex stares at many things that way.


Do you --

"You know, Bruce..."


Lex's expression turns shamelessly shrewd. "You have the strangest quality about you at times."

"Do tell."

"You look... as if you're having a conversation with someone."

"I'm having a conversation with *you*."

"You know what I mean, Bruce."

Bruce raises both of his eyebrows. "I'm afraid I don't."

And Lex... smiles sharply. Brightly.


"You use that *precise* expression when you're telling a dorm mother that you haven't the faintest clue how Harrison -- or young James, or the *other* young James -- wound up with all those *painful* injuries. Coincidentally after they'd been making life difficult for some weedy little freshman."


He need never bother you again, little one.

No, let me see. "Are you suggesting something, Lex...?"

Lex's smile gets brighter, and he lifts Bruce's free hand to stroke over the scarred knuckles. "You should wear gloves more often."


Lex hums -- and actually rocks on his heels for a moment before stopping himself with a blush and a *delighted* laugh. "What can I give you for your secrets, Bruce? Consider me the large, brightly-lit, and *desperately* shiny emporium you just walked into with a handful of credit cards and a *raging* erection."

Bruce coughs a laugh. "I'm not usually that aroused when I shop, Lex --"

"Yes, but I? Have a very special store, indeed."

"Are you offering to sell me sex?"

"Is that your kink...?"


Lex smiles. "Good. The sex trade is *abominable* in this country. I... look, *everyone* here knows that you periodically beat the unholy hell out of the students you find morally unacceptable."

Bruce inclines his head, but doesn't say a word.

Lex sighs. "And you'll just *insist* on making this difficult -- fine. *One* question."

"I'm listening."

"What you *are* -- is not giving an *inch*."

Bruce smiles. "Is an inch all you'd like...?"

And Lex... blushes.

You lift Bruce's hand to feel the heat of it --

Lex shivers for your chill -- "Bruce."

You lower Bruce's hand again. "I am, in fact, listening."

"What *is* it to you that it's your name -- far more than your lies, your intellect, or even your *subtlety* -- that keeps you from being drummed out of here on your admirably firm and shapely ass?"

"Oh... an excellent question."

Lex bows shallowly. "*Thank* you. Will you answer?"

"Yes," Bruce says, and smiles. "It's a convenience and a reminder. It's also a wound, and something of a source of *shame*... but it's a convenience more than anything else."

"Then what does it remind you of?"

"What I will do to this school when I have just slightly more power."

Lex gasps.

"That's... shocking?"

"Don't you *dare* take over this school, Bruce!"

"Why not?"

"*I'm* going to. It will be a *marvel* of modern education that the best teachers will crawl on their knees over broken *glass* to be a part of, and --"

"Hmm. Coeducational?"

"Of course!"

"Open scheduling?"

"Teenagers need *different* sleep schedules --"

"Physical education...?"

The two of you watch as Lex's expression turns gimlet, *violent* --

And Bruce steps closer. "I believe you answered that question adequately well. Lex... you're welcome to it."

Lex narrows his eyes. "You don't truly *want* to --"

"I do. But I don't believe I want it as badly as you do."

"And this is what munificence looks like on you?"

"Are you angry at me for a reason?"

Lex opens his mouth, then closes it, then growls -- then laughs. "Yes, but it's a terrible reason."

"I'd like to hear it."

"Show me a different sketch...?"

Bruce hums... and opens his book to a sketch of Harvey laughing with all of himself.

Lex sighs. "Now you're just teasing me."

"You could tell me what you want me to show you."

"That would be... telling," Lex says, and snorts. "I'm mad at you for being *interesting* and *desirable* despite the fact that you're a lying *and* moralistic thug."

So you were correct.

I often am.

"*When* did you and Harvey start fucking? It can't have been *long* into our freshman year -- are you faithful to him?"


"What do you *want*?"

Bruce laughs quietly. "Why... is it *only* that I'm 'interesting and desirable'?"

"Isn't that *enough*?"

"What about Harvey?"

"What *about* -- no, no. He's perfectly attractive. He's not my type."


"*He* doesn't go around -- he's too noble."


Lex glares at Bruce, and you seek at the edges of Bruce's teeth for that heat --


He has violence within him, little one.

This pleases you?

At times. If he can be made to be loyal to you.

*Solely* an internal hum this time --

And Lex leans back against the tree, crosses his arms over his chest, plants one foot against the tree, and purses his lips.

"Very nice."

"Isn't it, darling...? Now don't be tiresome -- tell me what you *want*."

"You. Increasingly."

This time when Lex narrows his eyes, it reminds Bruce of those times when he's seen him in eyeliner and other sorts of makeup.

You must admit that kohl, as much as you once loved it on humans, is hopelessly primitive.

You *want* --

"*This* me, darling...? It can be arranged."

"Can it...?" And Bruce rests his broad and growing palm on the tree next to Lex's head.

Lex parts his lips. "Dangerous. In public."

"I have my name. You have your father's money."

Lex... sours. And turns his head.

Bruce moves to cup Lex's chin --

And Lex's block is fast, graceful, and nearly expert.

You feel something falling into place, something *forming* correctly --

What --

He is a student of the martial arts, little one.

Oh... I see. "I will not touch you without your permission," Bruce says, and lowers his hand again.

"Oh, don't *you* go being noble --"

"Shall I be beastly? Crude? Violent?"

"Stephen Edgerton limped for a *week* --"

"I enjoyed every second of that. And, of course, all four blows I delivered to his testicles."

"And now you want *me* to give you a blow, darling...?"

"Not until you look at me again."

Lex sucks in a breath -- and doesn't turn. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to be vengeful with you, Bruce."

"Did you enjoy the way Stephen used to brutalize the weak very much?"

Lex *snorts* -- and still doesn't turn.

"Perhaps... hmm. His habit of sneezing into his hand and wiping the mess on the unwary?"

"Oh -- Christ. And now you're making me use religious curses --" Lex growls good-naturedly and turns. "I'm going to have to be *vengeful* with you --"


Lex lifts his chin, and parts his lips --

"You are... very beautiful."



"You saw me vulnerable, darling."

"Did I...? I'm afraid I have no memory of that whatsoever," Bruce says, and steps *slightly* closer. "It may have something to do with the sheer number of times I've banged my head against the wall while Harvey was taking me."

Lex hisses between his teeth. "Is that what you like...?"

"At times." Bruce smiles. "At many, many times."

"Is that what you want from me?"

"I'd like to know what you want. I'd like to... negotiate. I --"

There are eyes on you.

Bruce shakes his head and steps back.

"Changed your mind?" And Lex's voice...

You *taste* -- That was not as casual as he would have you believe.

As you say. "We have an audience."

"You never looked away from my *eyes* --"

"I've trained my peripheral vision extensively," Bruce says, and mimes laughter and straightening his tie. "It's a useful thing to do when one spends significant amounts of time fighting."

Lex narrows his eyes again.

"You're tempting me to raise both eyebrows even though that *was* the truth."

"It wasn't *all* of the truth --"

"We don't know each other that well. Yet?"

Lex stares at Bruce hard --

Show him...

And Bruce opens himself to the desire he feels --

The desire he has felt and *repressed* for the sake of Harvey's distaste --

Lex shivers -- but his eyes remain hard. "Another sketch."

Bruce hums, and opens the book to a sketch of your face. On the page you are serious, calm, hungry, *devoted* -

And Lex finally blinks. "Who...?"

"The brother of my spirit. And my heart," Bruce says, closing the book and tucking it away. "Shall I come see you?"

Lex waves a hand again. "Singles *are* useful."

Bruce inclines his head and walks away.


You separate later that night, and you spread your wings as wide as you can.

Harvey grins at you. "I don't half get sick of seeing you do that."


"Nope. Bruce is a big SOB, but the idea of being stuck *inside* him all the time is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies."

You smile and fly up to crouch at the foot of Harvey's bunk --

"Hey, don't scrunch your wings up already --"

"There is no pain. I wish..." You cup Harvey's bare ankle and watch him shiver from the cold. You cock your head to the side to see, to taste, to feel --

"Uh. Yeah? What do you wish?"

You make Harvey uncomfortable sometimes. You wish that was not the case.

You shake your head and release his ankle. "I can show you the other places I can go."

Bruce laughs and settles in his own bunk to read. "*Don't* take him up on that offer, Harvey."

Harvey's smile quirks. "You're a literal demon from H-E-double hockey sticks, aren't you."

"I have no memory of existing in or near any of the places described in Christian, Jewish, or Islamic texts. But then... I have very little memory beyond a certain point. It's possible."

"Okay, fine. What *are* the places you can go? And -- you can go there *while* you're inside Bruce?"

"Yes. But I never do," you say, and you show him places of shadow, and places of dust -- though not the grey place -- and places of endless water.

Those last Bruce found disturbing --

And Harvey does, too.

You ask him --

"Uh. Because it doesn't *move* like water? Also I can't *see* the things I *know* are moving around in there."

"Water is the universal amnion. This I was taught when I was... other."

Harvey blinks. "'Other'? Not... smaller? Younger?"

"I do not remember being... a child as you would conceive it." You crawl closer, moving over him and sniffing, slipping out shadows to taste --

"Uh. Inky? What are you -- uh?"

He calls you 'Inky' as a short form of 'incubus.' You like this a great deal.

"What is it, Harv?"

"I'm kinda being... sniffed? Up here?"

"Lover --"

"I am testing his calm. Tasting his emotions. You are confident now," you say to Harvey. "Pleased?"

"Uh. Pretty much? Why did you need to test me?"

You claw lightly at the side of the bed --

And Bruce reaches up to cover your hand. "Because I have something to tell you, Harv. And something to ask."

"Okay, so now I'm worried. But -- tell me anyway? What's up? What do you need?" And Harvey automatically hangs himself over the side of the bed so he can face Bruce.

You fly to perch on the desk, instead, and you wait.

And you listen --

You prepare to *help* --

"Big guy, you don't need my permission to go for *anyone* you want --"

"Harv, you're my --"

"*Brother*," Harvey says, and wags a finger at Bruce. "It's what you wanted. It's what we *both* wanted. And still do."

Bruce frowns and stands, and Harvey sits up and shakes off the disorientation of having been upside down. "I think you're being... noble."

When Harvey raises his eyebrows, he's never lying. It's one of the many things you find interesting about him --

"What do you want me to say, big guy? That I hate him? That I think he's not good enough for you? That I think he looks like a big, pale dick? No offense, Inky."

"None taken," you say, and watch Bruce take Harvey's hands in his own.


"It'd be different..." Harvey shakes his head. "I don't need to protect you, big guy. Sometimes I *think* I do -- and I won't lie, I get off on that like *crazy* -- but most of the time I know I don't."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm *saying*," Harvey says, and points to you, "that I already know *he's* gonna be watching Lex like a hawk. Like a *hungry* hawk, even, because *nothing* will get past him. Ah, big guy, I wanted to be your guardian angel. I *really* freaking did."

"Harv, I don't know what I would do without your wisdom --"

"And my love?"

"Of course. *Always*."

Harvey grins again, rueful and bright. "Yeah, well -- you got it. And you *always* will. Just don't go forgetting about me --"

"*Never* --"

"Hey, do you think he's got a prettier mouth than I do?"

Bruce blinks. "I... he certainly has a *paler* mouth than you do."

Harvey smiles, and it's an impression of 'wickedness' that you've come to find endearing. "You like that kinda thing."

"He's hardly as pale as our brother, Harv --"

"Yeah, well, *theoretically* he's got blood in his veins --"

"I have blood in my veins," you say, and open one to prove it. "I made it myself."

"Okay. Okay, that's. Inky, seriously, that -- uh."

You smile. "Is it the smoking?"

"Yeah, I gotta say -- ah, Jesus, it's coming this way."

"I believe it likes you."

You enjoy the look of horror on Harvey's face as your blood moves and *seeks* --


You hum the way your little one does and call your blood back to you, urging it to slough off the dust and other small detritus it had picked up before it returns to your body.

"Okay, seriously, Inky, do you *like* the smell of my fear?"


Harvey stares at you.

Bruce shakes his head at you.

"It's really a very delicious scent."

Bruce *coughs* --

And you smile. "But I can stop... provoking it."

"*Thank* you," Harvey says, and turns back to Bruce. "Do what you need to do, big guy. *Everything* you need to do."

"Harv --"

"And remember me when it's time to beat the crap out of him."

"I... you think it will be?"

For a moment, Harvey's expression is only incredulous... but then it softens. "Ah, what do I know? Inky likes *both* me and Lex, so... who knows. It might all work out just fine."

"I want it to."

"And *I* want," Harvey says, and wraps his arms around Bruce's neck --


"I want you to have *everything* you want, big guy."


"Uh, huh. Now c'mere and lay one on me."

You move to the door and breathe through the keyhole until you can taste the passage of everyone who could conceivably interrupt.

You will guide them away if necessary.

Perhaps forcefully.


"How many sketches do you *have* of your 'brother?'"

"Please don't use ironic single quotes," Bruce says, and studies the lines of your face on the page.

This time, your smile speaks of blood -- and large amounts of it.

Lex frowns and sits up on his elbows. He is naked save for -- silk -- boxers.

Bruce is naked save for cotton boxers and the beaten-silver bracelet Harvey bought for him in a moment's lustful whim.

Most of you is a deeper shadow near the door, though, to your knowledge, no one walks into Lex's bedroom here without permission.

For Bruce, it is an interesting mystery.

For you, it is an interesting mystery that you will not allow to stand for much longer.

"You're -- serious about him."


"It's not just... all right, no, I have no idea how I was going to end that sentence," and Lex smiles ruefully. "I apologize for being disrespectful."

Bruce looks toward your shadows and smiles --

You coil cold and smoky around his ankles --

And then Bruce turns to smile at Lex. "You're forgiven. You had no way to know what he means to me."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "Does Harvey -- no, that's terrible. Please pretend I didn't start a sentence that way."

"Done," Bruce says, and starts to give you wrinkles you don't have -- and then stops and erases them.

You'll ask him later.

"All right, I'm trying again."

Bruce smiles at the page. "Go on."

"Why the fuck are you so *calm*?"

"It helps, I think, that I began making love with males... when I began making love."

"*No* women?"

"I've yet to meet any I care for that much. I do enjoy dancing with them --"

"And making out with them. I've *seen* that."

"So you have."

Lex frowns again, and it's thoughtful, but also filled with a rage you very much want to taste. You coil around *his* ankles --

He shivers and puts his feet under his -- silk -- sheets.

"But you had a question, Lex."

Lex sighs --

And scowls --

And pulls his feet back out from under the sheets --

Bruce hums.

"You're infuriating."

"You... are desperately attractive."

"'Desperately,'" Lex says, and seems to taste the word the way you would -- "What does that mean?"

Bruce spreads his legs --

"... I see."

"Do you...?"

"What do you intend to *do* with that?"

"Tease it -- and the rest of me -- by withholding contact with your perfect skin until you ask your questions," Bruce says, and lengthens your ears in his portrait.

"Are you -- is he an *elf*?"


"A... dryad?"


"Then --"

"He's a demon," and Bruce looks up and raises an eyebrow.

"You're challenging me."


"You're --" Lex frowns.

"Ask your question, please."

"*Who* knows how important your brother is to you?"

"Harvey. And now you."

"*Why* are you letting me know?"

"I did mention the desperation."

Lex frowns more deeply.

Bruce hums and crosses his legs, resting his left ankle on his right knee and leaning back against the desk before going back to sketching. "It's getting to be somewhat... painful."

"You -- why didn't you do anything *before*?"

"With you? Mostly because I didn't wish to anger or hurt Harvey."

"Do you *now*?"

"No. But Harvey is neither small, nor weak, nor insecure. I was doing him a disservice in my mind."

"I -- don't understand you."

Bruce smiles. "I know. I'd very much like to help with that."

Lex nods, and he is very clearly studying something within the privacy of his own mind.

You move to taste more of him --

But Bruce waves you back.

I know desire, little one, and you slip within Bruce just enough --

We will have him, brother. But I believe we must be patient.

As you say, and you populate the shadows by the door once more.

"How many secrets do you have, Bruce?"

"From you...? Only one of any import. Though I must admit that there are clusters of other, smaller secrets gathered around it."

Another thoughtful nod. "Who did you lose your virginity to?"

Bruce closes his eyes and smiles, tilting his head back.

"It was *that* good?"

"We repeated the process... multiple times."

"I suppose there's something to be said for the stamina of youthful masculinity -- and for the lack of hymens."

"He wasn't young," Bruce says, closing the sketchbook and tilting his head forward again. "And I've always wondered about hymens."

"He -- all right, first? Hymens are absolutely terrifying. *Intimidating*. And completely unfair."

"Yes, I've often wondered why women don't have them surgically removed as soon as possible."

"Some parents *do* send their little girls to the surgeon for it. I don't know *how* I feel about it --"


"*No*. Because most of them do it before the child can make any sort of informed choice about it."

"Hmm. But if they're so terrible --"

"Some -- *some* -- of the women I've had sex with vastly enjoyed their hymens while they had them, and enjoyed losing them the old-fashioned way even more. They're terrifying and unfair for *men*. And for the more penetration-minded women, I suppose."

*Bruce* nods thoughtfully. "Yes, I'm not at all sure how I'd feel about *knowing* I'd have no choice about causing a woman pain with my penis."

"Precisely. And, while the occasional menstrual fuck can be good, dirty fun for *any* liberal-minded gentleman..."

"Blood is most assuredly *not* all the same."

Lex inclines his head. "Speaking of..."


"Who *was* your brother looking at like that?"

You remember the male who put that look on your face. He liked to 'accidentally' poke young girls in their growing breasts. This made Bruce rage on levels his twelve-year-old self couldn't quite encompass --

And Bruce had broken his nose and cheekbone with a brick in an alley as he'd walked home from school.

Like all of Bruce's enemies, thus far, he had been too fearful to give more than vague reports about who had done it --

And Bruce smiles. "Robert Morris."

"I don't think I know that name...?"

"His family left the country after I assaulted him for the second time."

Lex snorts. "What do you plan to *do* with your violent tendencies when you run *out* of worthless bluebloods?"

Bruce flexes a fist... and pins Lex with his gaze.


"Vigilantism has occurred."

"Oh -- *please*."

"I've heard you speak about your objections before --"

"You have a *company* to run. *And* a charity!"

"I *don't* plan to spend every waking moment reveling in the piteous screams of the wounded."

"Oh, *good*. Bruce, I'm being serious --"


"*Bruce* --"

"Lex," Bruce says, and raises an eyebrow. "It's not that I don't want to listen to you speak about whatever moves you the most. It's just that neither you nor anyone else living has the power to turn me away from decisions made while I could still smell my parents' blood."

Lex sucks in a breath and recoils.

Bruce smiles ruefully. "I feel strongly that you should never be forced into activities which waste your time."

"You... have the remarkable ability to leave me speechless."

"Hmm. Then I change my mind. *Do* try to convince me --"

"No. No. I...." Lex frowns. "How often do the nightmares... how often?"

Bruce waves a hand. "My brothers -- both of them -- have been a great comfort."

"Your brother in the sketchbook..."


"He was all you had before Harvey."

That wasn't a question, but Bruce inclines his head just the same.

You will never leave him.

Lex licks his lips. "Tell me more about him. Please."


"*Yes*," Lex says, and glares -- and then laughs, very clearly at himself. "Yes. Please."

Bruce inclines his head again. "I found him in the caves beneath the manor. Hungry. Thin. *Imprisoned*."

"For what crime?"

Bruce smiles. "He didn't remember, though he knew it must have been terrible for him to have been left chained in cold and endless darkness with no company save... bats."

Lex holds up a hand.


"The wings. The wings are your brother's?"

"Yes. I've never quite been able to capture the dull gleam light gains when it touches them."

"Your imagination --"

"Is not so powerful as all of this," Bruce says, and turns to the shadows.

Now, brother...?


You emerge, and solidify, and flex your wings -- careful of Lex's many posters and scarves.

Lex's mouth is temptingly open -- but then he closes it and turns to Bruce. "Bruce."




"What. The. *Fuck*?"

"My love has no name he remembers. Harvey calls him 'Inky' -- as a short form of --"

"Incubus," Lex says, and frowns... direfully.

And looks as if he has been unmanned --

And *scowls* --

And then stands, arms crossed over his chest and legs spaced wide apart. His expression is hard, demanding, *sharp* --

Bruce's expression is patiently appreciative, and you feel appreciative, as well. Though not patient.

You let your tongue fork as you taste his exhale, his fear, his rage, his *determination* --

You shiver. "You are beautiful to me, Lex. Will you let me taste you?"

Lex's eyes widen --

You lean in --

And Lex steps back, calling on grace learned from the martial arts. You sigh and thin yourself, coiling around him like a python -- but not touching. "Please," you hiss. "I would know you."

The fear within Lex is rising, but you think --

Yesss. He is calling on still more determination, still more of his personal force, his *violence* --

"Step. *Back*."

You inhale his breath --

And you move away, standing on feet once more. "Lex. What would you know?"

"When did you start fucking Bruce?"

There was no hesitation. There... "That was the first question in your mind. I am pleased --"

"*Answer* me!"

"I taught him how to masturbate four years ago. I taught him other things over the next several months. He has taught me... much. What else?"

"And the *violence*?"

"He --"

"*No*, Bruce, I need to speak to your *demon* now."

Bruce hums. "As you say. Though I would recommend... calming down."

"Did *Harvey* -- *argh* --"

"You definitely never began a sentence that way in my hearing," Bruce says --

"You're laughing. Are you *laughing*?"

"You amuse him," you say, and lean in enough that his perfume becomes a large fraction of your perceptions. "You please him, as well. I will taste you now --"

"You will *not* --"

"I must learn if you're suitable for Bruce, Lex," you say, as reasonably as you can. "He is mine."

"And you protect him by throwing him into *fights*?"

Bruce hums again. "I would like to state, for the record, that I throw *myself* into fights. My lover, brother, and friend makes sure those fights remain as safe as possible."

Lex rears back -- slightly. "You don't fight *fair*?"

You cock your head to the side.

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "Would you?"

"Of *course* not! But I also wouldn't go around beating up *mean* people unless I was sure I had the moral *high* ground."

Bruce shows his teeth.

You show yours, and lean in to sniff the other side of Lex's throat. There is more sweat here, more *salt*.

You take a droplet for yourself --

And Lex stiffens, but does not move.

You nod with satisfaction and pull back.

"Chivalry," Bruce says, "is a deeply entertaining concept. And of no use to me whatsoever."

"How is Harvey not too noble for *you*?"

"I vastly appreciate his nobility. His... lightness of spirit. His *softness*. And, of course, his beauty, intellect, and passion."

"And my -- *what*?"

"*Your* nobility -- when you can't help exposing it to me. Your hopes for a brighter world. Your softness -- even when it's only your perfect skin. And, of course, your beauty, and intellect, and passion."

Lex snarls and you coil around his wrists --

"Oh -- what -- *stop* that --"

"Would you have freed me, Lex? You were lonely when you were young, too. I can *smell* it."

"Oh, so you *admit* preying on --"

"I have taken his sweat, his tears, his blood, and his semen. I will take all of these things again, and again, and again. I have tasted him *growing*. He is mine. And I am what he makes me."

Lex narrows his eyes. "What does *that* mean?"

"My body is what he desires. My love is what he wills. My violence is as he demands... and allows." You turn to see Bruce closing his eyes --

You move to cradle his head against your abdomen, shifting so that his stubble scrapes you there.

"What -- Bruce. Has he... done something? All right, no, that's asinine. Has he done something *you* can't approve of?"

Bruce laughs and cups your hip, and kisses the navel which is only a smooth depression.

Even when he was eight, your little one had a taste for... verisimilitude.

"I did something for which Bruce can never wholly forgive himself," you say. "For all that he never ordered me to do anything of the kind."

"You're a killer."

"Not since I became Bruce's," and you extend your shadows and self into a window Lex can look through and see the grey place.

"Is that *screaming*? Who's *in* there?"

"People who have displeased me. Greatly," and you shift the view to show --

"Who -- he looks. Oh my God," Lex says, and steps back. "You -- he doesn't know."

"No, he does not," Bruce says, and gestures you to close the window. "And he never will."

"He's *trapped* there? With no -- food, or water, or *shelter* -- why *didn't* you just kill him?"

"Because there are no second chances in death. Because death is the end of possibility --"

"There's no possibility *there*! You're *torturing* him!"

Bruce's gaze turns hard, and you stroke his hair. "There is a part of me which can only respond to that with relish."

"What did he *do* to Harvey?"

"Torture," you say. "And the same to his mother, who finally escaped after he had destroyed her beauty and cowed her into deserting her child. We have not found her, yet."

And Lex looks... horrified. Frightened. *Sick* --

You scratch lightly at Bruce's neck and move back to Lex --

Who stands his ground.

"Let me taste you."

"And have you bury me up to my neck in *Golgotha* if you don't like what you see?"

"You fear?"

"I'm *sane*! Unlike --" Lex shakes his head. "*Bruce*. *Kill* him. Or -- let your demon do it. Let it *end*."

"There's something to be said for penance --"

"For *both* you and Harvey's father, yes, I know, I can see it -- fuck, I could practically *taste* it. And it tasted like *lingering* death."

Bruce narrows his eyes and stands, moving quickly to cup Lex's face.

"Bruce --"

"And madness, Lex?"

"*Yes* --"

"Do you think me mad?"

"I think -- I think you're letting things *go*. I think you're letting yourself slip *away* --"

"The proverbial slippery slope?"

"It's *pathetically* clichéd, but that's true for a *reason*. Don't you see? You've been letting that man scream for two *years*. Every day. Every *night*. You -- I *know* you. You cried for him at least once, and that's all well and good, but if you're going to make decisions like this, if you're going to remove people from even the *possibility* of the justice I'm *quite* sure you're going to slather all over your spandex and body armor --"

"Lex --"

Lex grips Bruce's shoulders. "Don't let the decision be taken from you. Don't put *walls* between yourself and the decision. If you can't look at what you've done, if you can't *breathe* around what you've done --"

"Then it shouldn't be done, at all," Bruce says, and nods, stroking Lex's cheek with his thumb. "Yes, I see."

Lex shivers. "Do you?"

"Yes," and Bruce turns to you.

"Yesss," you say, because there is no question in your little one's eyes, and no doubt, and no *fear*.

You fold yourself inward and spend a leisurely no-time tearing Lester Dent apart.

You do not bathe in his blood.

You do, however, allow it to soak into the dust --

Things rise.

Scaled things, winged things --

*One* furred thing --

They all have many, many teeth.

The other inhabitants of the grey place will not last long, and the things which rise from their passing will then turn on each other --

And more things will rise --

The grey place will live again, for better or worse.

This will be interesting.

You return --

"-- *talk* to me -- "

"Give me a moment, please," Bruce says, and sits on the edge of Lex's desk with his head down.

You hold yourself still in the shadows. It is not your touch he wants right now. It --

"You killed him."


"You --"


Lex swallows with an audible click, then laughs. "I didn't think you would."

Bruce's smile has no humor in it. "I'm a thug --"

"You are *not* -- at least. You don't have to be --"

"I would've done anything to get Harvey away from that man... and into my home. The fact that it took me this long to admit it..." Bruce shakes his head. "Unacceptable."

"Are you." Lex steps forward and cups Bruce's lower thigh.

"Yes, Lex?"

"Do you plan to do this *often*?"

Bruce considers. You'd be able to smell it even if you couldn't see it. You...

There are shadows within your little one which do not belong to you. This has always been the case, but the shadows have grown with time --

You wish he would tell you more of them. You wish he would *give* you more of them.

You know that he won't, because there are responsibilities he demands for himself. He believes in 'honor,' even if the subset of beliefs known as chivalry is something which leaves him cold.

He believes in many things.

You believe in him.

Lex squeezes Bruce's thigh. "Please."

Bruce nods once. "I believe I will do it when I know justice cannot be served through the standard channels. I believe I will do it with my own hands whenever possible... but I had not allowed my love to kill in the past eight years. There are... forms."

He did it for you!

A *gift* --!

You hiss in pleasure --

Lex jumps and moves into a position which would allow many attacks --

"Be at ease, Lex," Bruce says. "That was one of the sounds my love makes when he is pleased."

"He's --" Lex pinches the bridge of his nose, takes a deep breath, and then looks at you. "You... no. By far the most important question, I believe, is this one: do you *have* a true name? Something with which you can be bound?"

"I am bound by will. Bruce's and my own."

"And only Bruce can command you?"

You smile and move closer, though you do not coil around him again. "I can choose to be commanded by anyone."

"But you *belong* to Bruce."

"I will never leave him... but I am only a slave when I choose to be."

Lex looks *pained* for that... and smells aroused.

You suspect that you look hungrier than most humans would be comfortable with. You think... "You would be... happier if you could control me."

"Of *course* I would!"

"Then control Bruce."

Bruce laughs softly --

And Lex blushes. But he doesn't turn away. "How."

You smile, and you stroke the heat of his aura. You've never been able to *see* auras -- at least, this is not something you remember -- but feeling them is something else entirely.

Feeling them is... life.


What you can *have* -- "Love him. Share with him. Give him what he wishes from you. He will fall at your feet, beautiful one... and he will bring me with him."

Lex lifts his chin. "You have your own attraction to me."

"Yesss. Let me taste you now?"

Another pained look -- and another laugh. "Fine. But I warn you, Bruce, I'm going to be *very* annoyed if you have your demon kill me."

"As you say."

He turns to you. "What do I need to do -- *mmph*!"

You fill his throat --

You *stretch* within him --

You tickle his penis --

What what what are you don't --

I am sorry, Lex. You are beautiful to me.

Are you tasting what do you see what do you SEE!

He shows you a male with long, leonine hair --


He shows you Lionel's back.

He shows you Lionel's curled lip.

He shows you blood, and scars gained for no correct reason at all.

You taste, and you dive deep --

You *seek* --

And you find patricide time and time again, though it is laced with guilt and the lonely cries of a child.

You ask for his mother, then, and you are flooded with the memories of a woman strong enough to fight for everything -- save her own life.

Cancer it was CANCER!

You know this is a disease which *breaks* many humans --

Never her, damn you!

And he shows you a memory of Lillian dressing Lionel down for his failures as a parent even as paramedics carry her away --

Last TIME --

He fills you with Lillian, and you see her caring, and her steel, and her shameless absurdity.

He fills you with Lillian, but you know Lionel is beyond. You push her aside --

no no no no NO NO NO --

Beautiful one, I must know, you say, and push him behind you, taking his place in memories of being berated --

Insulted --

*Dismissed* --

But he fights for his own place back. He *demands* --

Lex --

Mine! He's *MINE*! And *I* will destroy him *as I see fit*!

You shiver inside.

You shiver *him* --

Oh -- what --

Lex... thank you, you say, and slip back out, flexing your wings and cupping his face. "You should not disdain the willing -- and eager -- help of a friend."

"And I'm supposed to think of you as my *friend*?"

You smile and lean in to nuzzle his mouth, so pink, so soft --

"Get back."

There is a scar on his lip you know belongs to Lionel --

"Get. *Back*."


He firms his mouth into a hard line, and you allow yourself a mournful noise.

And then you step back.

Bruce is offering his hand. "We must give Lex time, brother."

You pull your expression into the ruefulness Bruce has taught you. "As you say, little one." You squeeze his hand, and sink back into the shadows.

"Where --"

"By the door. Mostly," Bruce says, and curls his fingers over the edge of the desk. "How are you?"

"*Worried*," Lex says, and tries to see you.

You coil around his ankles again --

"*Fuck* -- okay. Okay. Thank you, Demon. I feel... well, no, I still feel atavistically *horrified*, but at least I know where you *could* be. Hm."

"Yes, Lex?"

"He watches the door for you when you and Harvey are fucking."


Lex's smile is sharp and a little smug. "He *doesn't* have to do that here."

Bruce laughs again. "I don't suppose there's something I could offer you to get you to share that particular secret...?"

"You could tell me that he wears pants sometimes. I'd take that *happily*."

"Did you *want* me to lie to you?"

"How the *hell* does *Harvey* put up with that?"

"He's really quite adaptable when provided with motivation."

"'Motivation,'" Lex says, and he's tasting words again.

You *want* --

"All right, no. Demon -- *is* there anything in particular I should call you?"

You rise from the shadows and smile. "Friend...?"

Lex snorts. "Demon, then."

"You're tempting me to learn to pout."

Lex looks at you. And then turns to Bruce. "Would you find that attractive in him?"

"I don't believe I have that kink, no."

"*Don't* pick it up. Only the *worst* people pout. I *know*. I'm *one* of them --"

"Hmm. Would you show --"

"*No*," Lex says, and turns back to you. "What *precisely* would you like to do with me sexually?"

You smile and taste the air -- but there isn't *enough* of arousal. You will be patient. "I want to fellate you. I want to lengthen my tongue and slip it deep into your rectum. I want you to penetrate me --"

"You're a *bottom*?"

You smile more broadly. "Bruce will teach you not to disdain... other pleasures. I can be... patient."

Lex snorts *derisively* -- and then, visibly, remembers how much of him you know now.


"I..." Lex takes a deep breath and turns back to Bruce. "The Master of Students has a pregnant teenaged lover in town."


"*Oh*, yes. It's all going to come out *eventually* in some sordid, tawdry way... but, until then, I have a great deal of freedom and I use it accordingly. Your brother *could* go spend more time with Harvey."

Bruce hums and stands, moving close to Lex and nuzzling the air near his throat.

You know he is enjoying the perfume.

You know, very well now, that Lex *wants* to enjoy Bruce enjoying it.

You know that you are an obstacle. This is... unacceptable.

You coil around Bruce's wrists and squeeze. "I will fly...?"

Bruce *grips* your shadows. "Is it what you wish?"

You smile again. "For now."

Bruce inclines his head and lifts your shadows to his mouth.

Lex sees a kiss.

*You*... feel Bruce taking just enough of you in that you will never be apart, at all.

There is no need for Lex to be... uncomfortable.


"Is he *in* you this time?"

Lex asks this every time, as if he expects the answer to be different. You like the other ways he goes about being insane better.

Bruce sighs --

"That's a yes. What is the *appeal*?"

"Will you kiss me?"

"Will he *sodomize* me?"

"No," Bruce says, and gives Lex no time to say anything further before he takes Lex's mouth, kisses and nuzzles it, licks Lex's scar and *bites* it --

Lex moans --

Growls --

"*Talk* to me --"

"Even when my parents were alive, I was alone. And lonely. From everything you've told me about your mother --"

"I was never -- not when she was alive."

Bruce nods and kisses Lex again, hums into his mouth and slips his tongue *deep* --

Lex tenses for this. He *always* does, and it's a tension that makes Bruce growl --

And Lex tense *further* --

And release the tension in a gasping, grasping *pull* that presses Bruce's body to his own.

Your little one always wants to grip Lex equally hard at times like these, but you have all learned how sensitive Lex's flesh can be.

How *delicate*. Too delicate, considering that his body must be exposed daily in the communal showers.

Bruce growls again and begins to strip Lex carefully, and only as gently as he must.

Many of Lex's clothes have been torn. It's a liberty Harvey never allows -- despite his equal access to the Wayne fortune -- but then, Harvey's flesh doesn't bruise easily, at all.

You uncoil yourself further into Bruce's hands as he strokes Lex's skin, as he moans and whispers words of lust for the softness, the lack of callus or roughness, the *thin* scars --

Lex heals well.

You want Bruce to tempt Lex with this, but you know it will not happen *yet* --

"Bruce, *please* --"

But it will someday. You are confident about this, just as you are confident about what will happen once Bruce takes Lex's penis into his throat --

"Oh -- *fuck* --"

Once Bruce presses his fingers behind Lex's scrotum --

"*Bruce* -- I -- oh, fuck -- oh, *damn* you --"

You have already guided Bruce's other hand to the lubricant in his pocket.

You have already made your plans, and schemed your schemes --

You enjoy speaking like Lex, at times.

Still, Bruce is himself, and so he *stops* once his fingers are slick. "Lex."

Lex groans and writhes like someone tortured. He is sprawled on his low bunk with his torso bare and his pants around his ankles. He is flushed and sweating. His eyes are wide... but they are not dazed.

"Let me," Bruce says, and shows his slick fingers.

"I. Fair's fair?" And Lex's laugh is a thing of shards, but it's not as hysterical as it could be.

"I'll pleasure you --"

"I *know* that --"

"I'll *swallow* you --"

"You do that *anyway* --" And Lex gasps for the press of Bruce's fingers.

He had forgotten Bruce's other hand.

"Bruce --"

"Let me. Let me have what I *want*."

Lex *grunts* -- and stares into Bruce's eyes. You know what he's seeking, and you know he will not find it.

Not in your brother.

"Fuck -- *do* it!"


"*Hurry* --"

"No," Bruce says, and swallows Lex again, sucking hard and working his head viciously --

Brutally --

Your memories fill with the taste of Bruce's earliest ejaculate, so thin and *sweet*. This is how you took yourself with his small penis in the weeks and months before you both learned that he preferred a slower touch much of the time.

Lex has no ability to resist this sort of contact, and it takes only moments before he is shoving the corner of a pillow into his mouth and trying and failing to strangle his own shouts in his throat.

The pillow is good enough -- with Lex's music playing.

Harvey is quieter when Bruce does this, though he often bruises Bruce's scalp with his knuckles.

Lex writhes again --

Bucks --

And you both feel him relax --

And Bruce does not wait even one moment longer before pushing one slick finger in slowly, so *slowly* --

You watch Lex flush nearly dark.

You watch Lex's mouth fall open around the corner of his pillow.

You watch Lex open his eyes to *stare* --

And you watch all focus leave his gaze as he falls to pleasure.

You *will* him to let it last, to give in, to *have* --

He clenches and *shudders* --

And Bruce growls. "Lex. Your heat is... indescribable."

"Blood -- works that way --"

"Sometimes," Bruce says, and laughs. "How does this feel?" And he begins to thrust slowly --

"Like you have a *finger* in my *ass* --"

"I see that your rectum is as astute as the rest of you. Shall I make you come this way? I'm quite sure that you can."

Lex's eyes fly open --

He clenches harder --

He cries *out* --


"Fuck -- Bruce, don't --"

"Another time, then," Bruce says, and takes just the head of Lex's penis in before crooking his finger --

And Lex bites a shout into his own fingers and bucks, shoving deep into Bruce's mouth --

Gasping and *grinding* --

And Bruce begins a vicious rhythm with lips and tongue and finger, sucking and rubbing, licking and *pressing*, urging Lex to fuck his mouth until he loses all rhythm --

"Bruce -- *Bruce* --"

And Bruce slips in a second finger --

"You *bastard* --"

And Bruce hums, loud and obnoxiously while Lex shudders through his orgasm.

You taste Lex with your brother, waiting until his shuddering and cries are at their peak before licking him with *your* tongue --

And your purr for Bruce when it makes him ejaculate again.

And then you pull back and wait while Bruce mouths Lex gently, warmingly, soothingly --

Lex clenches and *whimpers* -- "Fuck. All right, pull *out*."

Bruce pulls back --

"Oh -- don't --"

"Only this: Breathe as you would for the end of a spar," and Bruce takes Lex's softening penis in once more and makes love to it with his tongue as Lex sighs --

And pants --

And mutters unintelligibly --

And breathes, evenly and slowly.

Bruce pulls out and wipes his fingers on one of the disposable napkins from the dining hall.

A comment from Alfred years ago  -- dry, subtle, and ambiguous -- had stopped Bruce from using his handkerchiefs for that.

Bruce tosses the napkin in Lex's -- purple -- trash basket and cups Lex's hips as he mouths and kisses Lex's penis with slow, affectionate care.

"I'm -- going to talk about this."


"You really are a bastard."

"Mm-mm," Bruce says, and shakes his head.



Lex groans and covers his face -- and then laughs, releasing every last point of tension at once. "You didn't have to be *good* at this, too."

Bruce raises an eyebrow.

"Yes, well, *neither* of us had any way to know that Harvey's sexual tastes were at all universal --"

Bruce raises his eyebrow higher.

"Oh -- fucking hell. He watched every second -- did he taste me?"

Bruce nods, and licks the meatus with the flat of his tongue.

Lex shivers --

Growls --

"No, wait, I want an actual conversation. Please?"

Bruce pulls off and licks his lips. "Every time you use that word I find myself needing to make you come screaming."

"Yes, darling, but I could hardly let it become *stale*. Floor?"

"As you say," Bruce says, standing and pulling the soft, thick, and obviously old down duvet out of Lex's closet. As far as they know, it's *only* used for this:

Bruce lays the blanket out flat on the floor, nudging boots and books aside to make room, and then they lay themselves out in the middle of it.

You believe it belonged to Lillian.

Bruce settles on his back with his left arm spread to the side and, as usual, Lex rests his head on Bruce's biceps --

Tenses --

Growls --

And turns on his side to face Bruce with one hand resting on Bruce's chest.

There will be no comments about *this* struggle -- beyond Bruce's appreciative rumble when he can wrap his arm around Lex.

Harvey prefers to 'spoon,' though has shown no preferences as to direction.

Harvey also still enjoys trying to do it on the bunks, despite his and Bruce's size.

Lex sighs out most of his air and curls his nails in against Bruce's chest. "I didn't make you come."

"I'm hoping you'll remedy that."

"You're *hoping* I'll let you shove your cock up my ass."

Bruce smiles. "Often. But not today."


"The only way I could keep from hurting you with that act *today*... would be if my lover held you open for me."

Lex's jaw drops. "He -- I'm not asking."

"All right."

"And we're not *doing* that, you psycho!"

"As you say."

"What does that even --"

"Harvey," Bruce says, "found it to be too disturbing to continue. Even though my lover was able to mask his temperature to a certain extent."

"How did *you* get used to that?"

"He grows warmer when we are close for a time. But it didn't take me long to come to crave the cold."



"I feel too warm for you."

"No. I don't make comparisons like that --"

"You, my friend, are a violent, moralizing, *murderer* of a thug. You do not also get to be *high-minded*."

Bruce laughs warmly, happily. "I'm terribly sorry. Your humanity disgusts me in every way. Better?"

"Yes -- no."


"I..." Lex claws a path down Bruce's chest to the top of his pubis.


"I enjoyed that precisely as much as you knew I would."

"I'm glad... though in truth I had no way to know anything of the kind. Beyond my knowledge of anatomy, of course."

"Hell. That's how you made your brother so perfect despite being *eight*. Your father was a doctor, *too*."

"He would hold me in his lap and teach me both the Latin and common names for various parts of the body."

"And you began sketching...?"

"As best as I could. Mother purchased art supplies for me of every variety she could get her hands on, as well as books on technique. She was killed before I ever learned to draw her smile."

"How many times can you hear the words 'I'm sorry,' before it all tastes like ashes?"

Bruce smiles and closes his eyes.

You slip a little out of his mouth and watch Lex studying Bruce, watch Lex *needing* --

He needs an answer to that question, little one.

Yes, Bruce says, and opens his eyes again. "I'm tempted to ask you the same question --"

"It's been ashes for a very long time. But you --"

"Every time is different... from the people I care about. It stopped tasting of ashes when I met my lover."

"He expressed... sympathy?"

"He expressed hunger, and power, and vengeance. When he spoke of my parents, he brought the future with him... and left the past behind."

Lex nods thoughtfully and splays his hands on Bruce's abdomen in much the way you do when you wish his absolute attention.


"I have a question I want to ask you. Badly."

"Then do so."

"Not until I already know the answer," Lex says, and his smile is a weapon aimed at himself. It wouldn't be a gun, though.

Those are much too merciful and quick.

"Lex --"

"Leave it."

"It's only that it seems somewhat... inefficient."

Lex's laugh is nearly light, and warm enough that you slip out to taste --

And you know what the question is. You --

There is a part of you, new and strange, which only wants to hold on to the knowledge for a time, to *protect* --

But Bruce breathes you in, and you remember the warmth of his body, the need, the welcome --

The knowledge and time and *care* --

You know that Lex will come to care about you someday -- his nature wouldn't have it any other way -- and, on that day, you can consider having more than one master. Until then...

He wants to know if you love him, brother.

So soon?

For you...? Or for him?

You know the answer to that question, brother. You know how *I* am made.

You hum for that, and turn Bruce's gaze to Lex's eyes, which are softer than their color should be capable of.

Humans are capable of many wonders.

You reach *with* Bruce to stroke Lex's cheek, and trace the soft curves of his mouth. You stroke his eyelids when he blinks, and the shells of his ears when he blushes.

And then Bruce pulls Lex down into a kiss --

Rolls Lex on *top* of him --

"Ask any question, at any time."

"Bruce --"

"Make love to me."

Lex grunts, and you both feel his penis twitch against Bruce's thigh.

Bruce smiles...

And spreads his legs.


The first time Lex deserts his troupe of hangers-on with a laugh and an airy wave in order to join you, Bruce, and Harvey, Harvey chokes painfully on his overdone roast.

Lex takes great pleasure in slapping Harvey's back.

Minutes later, Harvey takes great pleasure in watching Lex blush when Bruce smiles at him with warmth and lust.

The meal ends well.

Lex doesn't join them every time, but he *does* join them more and more over time.

The conversation ranges over neutral topics for the most part, but occasionally touches on religion and the supernatural as well.

Harvey and Lex eye each other ruefully after they catch themselves both watching Bruce's eyes for signs of you.

You watch them with pleasure, such pleasure --

You watch, and you stretch and reach within Bruce, and you wait --

I believe it's all... coming together, brother.

You believe that's a terrible pun.

You remember what you thought was love, once.

You remember --

You remember, and you watch Harvey and Lex eyeing each other again. This time, the emotion is suspicious and rueful *humor*. It makes Harvey's eyebrows quirk and Lex's mouth purse.

It makes Bruce smile.

You remember what you thought was love, and you *feel*.

There are no words, but you do not believe you need them --

You need nothing but yourself, brother.

And you, little one, and your happiness.

Then you shall have them forever.



"You sure about this, big guy?"

Harvey has asked this question more than once over the past few months, and you knew he would not let the two of you get on the plane without asking again.

Right now, he's sitting on the uncomfortable plastic chair just opposite to the one Bruce is sitting on. Bruce's knees are brushing his own, and you're not sure if Harvey realizes that he's been moving closer and closer to the edge of his chair.

Closer to Bruce.

Bruce smiles warmly and ruefully. "I'm sure."

"But -- *really* sure? I mean, you had more colleges after you than *Lex* did."

Lex, right now, is 'taking a break' from his academic career. This is the official story. In truth, you all know, he is firming his plans for taking over LuthorCorp.

You're not entirely sure he'll be able to do it so soon, but he *has* been working on the plan for years.

You and Bruce had agreed not to stray too far from places where you could be contacted on your travels, at least at first. You will be there to help if needed.

Sometimes your thoughts are filled with the imagined taste of Lionel Luthor's blood.

You are hopeful --

And Bruce has taken Harvey's hand.

"Ah, big guy, we can't beat up *everyone* here who'd get pissed-off about us gaying it up. You know that, right?"

Bruce hums. "As you say. I can't learn --"

"You can't learn everything you need to *here*. I *know*. But -- still," Harvey says, and frowns. "Lex could *buy* you senseis. *You* could buy you senseis. *I* could buy you senseis."

"Not the --"

"Best ones, I know, I know. I just..." Harvey squeezes Bruce's hand and frowns. "At least Inky'll take care of you if that damned plane stops working five miles up."

Bruce laughs. "One hopes, yes."

You will take him into one of your other dimensions if necessary. All will be well.


"Yeah, big guy?"

"You'll be missed. Desperately."

Harvey smiles 'wickedly.' "I dunno, big guy. My *ass* will probably appreciate the time to heal."

Bruce's own smile is purposefully dark. "I did mention the regular visits."

"I --" Harvey shivers and laughs. "Yeah, okay, I *will* let you drag me to Cloud Cuckoo Land, Cockayne, Shangri-La, and Laputa, at least sometimes. What's Yale gonna do to me if I fail my exams due to jet lag and acute come leakage, anyway?"

Bruce coughs.

Harvey grins. "Liked that, did ya?"

"Quite a lot. Often, even."

Harvey wags a finger at Bruce. "So *you* come back *here* sometimes. More than sometimes."

Bruce smiles and squeezes Harvey's hand firmly. "Always for you."

"And for Lex, and -- hey, you might meet a girl you actually *want* to touch for more than the length of a song out there." Harvey frowns ruefully. "I dunno if I want that or *not*."

Harvey is capable of imagining changing his life for the right woman, as he had changed his life for Bruce.

You're not sure whether Lex is or not.

You *are* sure that --

"Nothing will keep me from coming back here, Harv. Nothing and no one."

"Hey, don't bury yourself in *cement*, big guy --"


"I mean --"


Harvey blows out a breath and smiles again, though it's rueful, too. "Yeah, I hear you. When you make decisions, you really *don't* fuck around. I can't help worrying for you, though."

Bruce aches for that, and wishes -- "I would kiss you if I could."

"Yeah, hunh? I guess I'd probably kiss you right back. Maybe."

Bruce and Harvey smile at each other, then, and speak about inconsequential things until the passengers on Bruce's flight are summoned to the gate.

They part with a warm hug that lasts for nearly a full minute --

"You take care, too, Inky."

You slip out just enough to tickle his ear and sensitive throat, and for a moment everything is the same, and right, and clear.

But then you remember -- something.

I am Devotion, you say, and wait for Bruce to name you, *claim* you --

Brother, you are far, far more than that.

You shiver as Harvey does.

You listen to Harvey's laugh.

You fill Bruce with as much of yourself as will fit --

And you know you have no need for your missing memories, at all.


.The rarest rose.

Feed me, please!
.DW. :: .LJ. :: .E-mail.