The distance of tonight
by Te
August 17, 2007

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: References to older storylines. We're smack-dab in the middle of NML, here.

Summary: They could absolutely be warmer, right now, than they are.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which some readers may find to be disturbing.

Author's Note: I mentioned having trouble finding my way into Dick/Tim. Petra suggested I give NML a try.

Acknowledgments: To Betty and Pixie for audiencing and encouragement. Katarik gave me some beta.

The needle has been sterilized with some of their -- terrifyingly precious -- alcohol, and Tim can't really stop thinking about all the needles that they've disposed of in sharps containers over the years.

With very little effort, he can think of thirty-seven (thirty-eight, forty --), because, of course, it had always been more important to avoid any possible risk of infection than it had been to conserve.

This is his only needle. He has, in the past week, used it for basic stitching twelve times. Dick is lucky number thirteen.


Tim pauses. The gash along Dick's back and side looks nastier than it is, but it's still oozing enough blood that the stitching is necessary. Dick had refused the topical anesthetic -- Tim would've been shocked if he hadn't -- and he's shaking, a little. It's difficult to tell if it's pain or cold. Tim needs both of his hands for the wound and the needle -- he has had, to date, two nightmares of dropping it in an endless, unsteady -- and unsearchable -- pile of rubble. This doesn't remove the urge to touch -- soothe. "Nightwing...?"

For a moment, Dick continues looking off into the distance. They're as 'inside' as it's possible to be in this neighborhood -- only half of this building has fallen down. It would be warmer in the helpfully exposed cellar, but there wouldn't be enough moonlight to work with. Adequate for repairing Dick's suit, but not his flesh.

"Should I --"

Dick still hasn't *said* anything, but the look in his eyes is more than a little -- there's a glitter there that seems almost too bright to be human.

Tim swallows, and waits.

"You -- you should be somewhere warm."

That's -- easier to work with. "I have to admit that I have designs on this cellar's virtue once we're done for the night."

Dick grunts, twists --

"Careful, you're still --"

Dick cups Tim's face. He's still wearing the gauntlets, if not the top of his suit -- for a moment, Tim thinks about what this would be like if Dick still wore the light and *open* first Nightwing suit -- the gauntlet feels as cold and slippery as ice on his face, and the flush that rushes to Tim's cheeks feels painful and sharp. "Tim..."

"You should -- you should let me finish," Tim says, and marvels a little at the part of him which is enjoying the pain of the flush, and wondering what he could do to make it spread.

And Dick is frowning -- and still bleeding.

"Dick," he says, quiet and careful. There's something in Dick, right now, that --

He knows what it is. It's the thing that's in all of them, now, and if they're *not* careful, the fact that Gotham is a shattered mess full of people who are either also shattered or getting there --

Sometimes, these days, Tim thinks he can measure how much Gotham has changed for him with how little it *frightens* him to use names -- or hear his own name -- while suited up. They're always at least mostly suited up, now, and --

And there are hardly even any rats in this part of the city.

Everything's too broken here, too scattered and bare. They hadn't been able to find any of the rumored canned goods before the accident. "*Dick*," he says, again, because there's blood on his fingers, now. Warm, but cooling fast.

Dick frowns -- he seems to do it with rather more of himself than just his face -- but he turns, again, and -- Tim's going to have to use up another of their bandages to blot the blood away.

"Hold -- hold the needle for me."

Dick winces. "Sorry, little brother. I just --"

"I know. I -- it's okay," Tim tries, and breathes a little easier when Dick lets it go with just a nod.

None of them are supposed to think of anything beyond what they can do to help at any given moment. It's not that Bruce had said anything along those lines -- or much of anything, at all -- but he also hadn't had to. There are people who need help, here, and that's all there is to it. Tim will find more bandages somewhere -- baby clothes.

He remembers a crumbling boutique full of baby clothes in a "better" part of the city. Most of the people with young children who *could* get out had done so, and that's... baby clothes would make excellent bandages. Tim nods to himself and finishes the stitching, and catches himself exhaling *with* Dick, as if it was his own pain.

It's a reflex, and... Bruce tends to raise a very amused sort of eyebrow when Tim does that around him. Dick gives him another one of those glittery looks.

Tim -- doesn't bite his lip. It's just -- this is just what they have to do. It's nothing -- "I'm going to go over it with the alcohol again --"

"Use the bandage I already bled on."

Tim wants to protest, but, in the end, his hands had been thinking more clearly than the rest of him -- he'd tucked the thing in his belt rather than letting it fall to the ground. He uses the part that hadn't been touching his suit directly, and wishes, for a moment, for someone or something to pray to. If Dick gets an infection...

No, one thing at a time. One *moment* at a time. Dick doesn't make a sound while Tim is dabbing and swiping with the alcohol, but he stiffens visibly. Every ounce of anesthetic they save is another civilian who doesn't scream at their touch, another chance to keep someone from dying of pain-related shock.

Tim has seen one person die that way since he's been here. One is more than enough, and -- the bandage, at least, goes on easily.

And -- Dick puts the torn top of the suit back on. It -- well, it *is* cold, and it's not like Tim can't understand -- "Dick...?"

"You..." Dick twists, again, and grabs Tim's hands. "You could let me keep meditating on how good your hands are."

Tim had gotten a solid five hours of sleep yesterday morning, before the cold and all the little aches and pains had woken him up with an intense need to stretch and *move*. He's reasonably sure he can avoid actually sewing Dick *into* the suit. Still -- "I'd be a little worried about scratching you with the dirty needle."

Dick's smile doesn't get anywhere close to his eyes, and --

Perhaps this is where he questions Dick's use of the word 'meditation.'

"I trust you," Dick says, and squeezes Tim's hands for a moment before --

There's a little hesitation, or -- something, before Dick tugs Tim's hands up to his mouth and exhales on them. Tim's hands have been bare long enough that his skin prickles more with shock then pain, and the inevitable blush reaches his ears this time. They could absolutely be warmer, right now, than they are. Even here. "Then -- let's lower ourselves into the cellar?"

"Ooh, blind tailoring. Feelin' cocky, little brother?"

He wasn't -- not even a little -- but the smile on Dick's face is a little closer to something which deserves to be *called* a smile, every word of that sentence was another puff of wonderful warmth on Tim's hands and fingers, and -- maybe something Tim does or says *here* could make up for the fact that Tim had singularly failed to play with Dick on their way into Gotham.

Right about now, that seems at least as important as making sure the somewhat pathetic insulation in Dick's suit has the opportunity to *work*, so Tim pulls a grin onto his face (it's *Dick*), and --

"I learned my stitch-fu from an acknowledged master," Tim says, raising what he hopes looks more like a *challenging* eyebrow than anything else.

Dick's laugh --

It seems deeply, terribly wrong for Tim's enjoyment of it to be so deeply, undeniably *physical*, but there isn't much he can do about that so long as Dick keeps holding his hands.

"How many shirts did Alfred have you mend before you were allowed to help with the *body* mending...?"

Tim disinfects the needle, wraps it, and tucks it away. "Twenty-three. I found it rather soothing, to be honest. Alfred's holes were always so *precise*."

Dick snorts and stands, twisting back and forth only a little more vigorously than Tim can stand to watch -- the stitches will stay or they won't. "I got up to fifty-seven. It got to the point where I couldn't look at a nice shirt without starting to sweat, a little," he says, and lets Tim's hands go. "It didn't *matter* how many shirts Bruce destroyed on a day to day basis --"

"Alfred seemed to think the *waste* would be encouraging," and Tim heads for the vast, black hole that leads to the cellar. It's a deep one, which means that, even if they were inclined to trust the second-floor staircase currently lodged in the thing, they'd still have to get down to it. Tim pulls one of his grapples and starts checking the floor for solid places to lodge the grapple.

"I -- really hate watching you do that," Dick says.

"I'm going to be the smallest -- if not, necessarily, the quickest -- for the foreseeable future, Dick," Tim says, frowning at a creak beneath his left foot he can feel more than hear.

"After tonight, I'm allowed to freak out about this at least a little, Tim."

Tonight, a perfectly solid-*looking* section of balustrade had let go right in the middle of Dick's flight, turning Dick's jumpline into something rather more akin to a weighted death-line. Because it was Dick, he'd been able to tumble and *fly* enough to avoid doing more than slicing himself up, but -- yes. Dick has a point. Still -- "Keep trusting me," Tim says, and moves quickly and lightly away from the portion of the floor that's in the process of collapsing beneath him --

"Jesus. There are other cellars --"

"Beam," Tim says, rocking back and forth on his heels --

"I trust you! *Don't* start jumping up and down."

He hadn't been planning on it, and it probably shouldn't be tempting right this instant -- blindfolds and moving *trains* -- no. That was a world where they never ran out of clean sewing needles. It's enough, right now, to nod solemnly at Dick, leap, and then shoot his grapple where he'd been a moment before.

"Little *bastard* --"

The grapple holds, and it's much darker down here than he'd been prepared for. It -- there are so many different varieties of darkness in a city where electrical power is spotty, at best.

Tim gives himself a moment to completely fail to adjust, and then does his best impression of an intrepid canary in a mine. Down, down -- something a little too close on his right side with sharp edges --

"About two me-lengths down, there's something you need to watch out for on your right, assuming you come down facing toward the north wall."

"Noted," Dick says, and when Tim looks up, his shadow seems to bleed -- no, not that word. It blends with all the others surrounding him, as if the cellar is reaching up for him -- no, that isn't helpful, either.

Tim continues down, slowly enough to keep his orientation north, and, eventually, he hits bottom. Or -- no, it's the floor. It's humped in places, but there's only earth below it. "I'm down. Careful of your ankles on the floor, it's not even."

"Got it," Dick says, and then the rope jerks and there's no extra shadow above. Tim waits.

Tim -- "Do you ever catch yourself looking forward to a full moon?"

Dick snickers, and deliberately scuffs his feet once he's all the way down. "Oh, for a city with adequate light and enough warmth for me to respond to that the *right* way."

Tim makes a face -- and Dick's hand fumbles on his cheek for a moment before it settles, traces --

"Heh. Not fair to get all pinch-faced and cute where I can't *see* you, little brother."

"Noted," Tim says, pulling the needle out once more, and -- remembers that he'd failed to thread the needle when he'd had light. "I -- damn, this is going to be challenging."

"Hmm?" The pat on his cheek manages to be equally interrogative. Impressive.

"No, I -- doing this in the dark, I mean."

Dick's slides his hand to Tim's shoulder and squeezes. "It can wait."

Which -- no, he can do this. It's just a matter of getting the edge of his thumbnail *next* to the hole, holding it tightly, holding the thread *straight* -- "No, it can't. And -- okay, I've got something new to add to my skill-set."

Dick laughs and squeezes Tim's shoulder, again. "You -- oh, sometimes I think I wouldn't want anyone else at my back."

As far as Tim's body is concerned, Dick can spend all night making him blush. "I -- thank you."

"Hmm. Not being able to *see* you is going to get old pretty fast, but... all right, how do you want me?"

It would be easiest if Dick stayed standing, but they're supposed to get as much rest as they can, when they can -- no, the material wouldn't stay put in the right places if Dick crouched. "Right here, I think," Tim says, and reaches out with the hand he isn't holding the needle with.

Eventually, he hits Dick's side, and then it's just a matter of marking out the spaces he's filling. A part of Tim is somewhat unhelpfully amused about how well he knows Dick's body and poses at this point, but that's not the part who's going to be doing the sewing. He hits the bandage harder than he wants to, and feels Dick stiffen with more than just his hand.

He's probably wincing more than Dick is, right now -- "Sorry, I just need to --"

"You're doing fine," Dick says, quick and that variety of reflexive which, perhaps, can't help but still seem sincere.

Tim nods, thinks about it -- "All right. I -- I think if you just hold that position --"


It's hardly going to be his best work, and -- that's probably what he should hold on to. It doesn't *have* to be good, it just has to be good enough to help Dick retain his body heat through this rest period, until they can get somewhere with good light -- and possibly a *spare* uniform -- so one of them can do it right. With that in mind -- and with Dick deliberately breathing so regularly that Tim is kind of helpless to the urge to stay calm -- it goes quickly enough.

He uses his belt knife to cut the extra thread, knots it with fingers only just warm enough to hurt more than anything else, and tucks the needle back into his pocket.

"You're all set -- for now, I mean," Tim says, and pulls his gauntlets on. The insides of them feel like sandpaper, but he's already grateful to be covered.

Dick sighs -- laughs.


"You know, I..." In the dark, Dick's movements are something to guess at, something a part of Tim is convinced he can feel, even though there's really no rational reason for that.

Just as there's no rational reason for the hug to feel like this much of a *relief*. Granted, it's been hours since the last time Dick had done so much as thrown an arm over Tim's shoulders, and it's *Dick*, but -- still. With all the armor they're wearing -- mostly Tim, himself -- there's not even much extra warmth from the hug. It's the kind of warmth that needs time to build.

They're out of the wind, now, though, and they'd done enough, tonight -- 'enough' can't ever be the right word -- that Tim could honestly stay right here for at least five hours. Maybe six. Tim hugs back, and enjoys the shivers when Dick starts exhaling against his scalp.

"You were... were you going to say something, Dick?"

"Uh, huh. I was going to say that it was starting to seem like a waste to exhale anywhere your skin wasn't," he says, and demonstrates.

This shiver seems to thrum right through him, enough that Tim's teeth chatter a little before he can get control of himself. "I see your point."

"So you're not going to fight me on the Mission-related cuddling?"

"I -- think there's enough space right here for us to lie down. But you have to let me cover both of us with the cape."

Dick laughs, makes Tim shiver *more*, squeezes tighter -- the shivering is going to wear Tim *out*, if he's not careful. He never has very friendly dreams when he goes to sleep exhausted. They make it down to the floor without separating very much, and Dick throws one leg over Tim's own.

This is an excellent reason for Tim to shift until he has one leg between *Dick's* own, and then it's just a matter of getting the cape off and over them, as much as possible. "I -- wish this was larger."

"I wish we had *hats*," Dick says, and rubs at the mostly-dried sweat on Tim's neck until it's gone and won't send Tim's body heat into the atmosphere. "One hat, even. We could take turns with it."

"Or -- helmets. Big, padded --"

"*Insulated*. With -- visors, or something."

"Spoiler has a full face cowl *and* a hood."

Dick -- moans. "God. I always thought that was terrible for her peripheral vision, but... wow. Of course, right about now, she probably still has enough body fat to keep us both *warm*."

That's -- deeply wrong, somehow. Definitely it's wrong for him to snort. "I'm not sure No Man's Land is the best possible place for someone recovering from *childbirth*."

Dick sighs and squeezes Tim again. "I know. It's wildly inappropriate for me to think about what it would feel like to have your girlfriend wedged between us right now, and I promise you that I feel terrible about it."

That... "Starfire's starbolts generate heat. Plus, she's very -- very tall. Long-limbed."

"Mmm," Dick says. "She's pretty big on cuddling, too."

Not too many miles -- as the bat flies -- to the northwest, Barbara is alone in the Clocktower. She has power, if not much in the way of heat. She has a *bed*, with covers -- "Does Oracle cuddle?"

"You know, I... I feel like I ought to have an answer that I'm actually sure about to that question, but..."

There's still a smile in Dick's voice, but they're too close, right now, for Tim not to feel the tension. "I'm pretty sure warmth conservation is a good excuse for... setting off on a fact-finding mission."

Dick's laugh, this time, is soft and low. "There are things Robin can get away with which Nightwing really -- can't."

Oracle's big, strong arms and warm, soft breasts -- hm. He's apparently warm enough, now, for that not to make him shiver as hard as he was expecting. Improvement. And -- "If you say so."

"You're making me think of Jason. That's -- wow." Dick slides one hand up until it's cupping the back of Tim's neck, pushing up into his hair -- "Wait, it wouldn't actually help to tug you back enough to look at you."

"I'm pretty comfortable right here." Part of his cheek and forehead is pressed to Dick's throat. There's mostly only skin-contact for his forehead, but the rest of his face is -- deeply happy with the situation.

"And you're -- thinking about Oracle." Dick taps the back of Tim's neck.

"To be fair, I'm mostly thinking about that down comforter I saw on her bed once." And the bed itself, with her *in* it, being entirely mammalian and, perhaps, somewhat improbably profligate with her body heat --

"I --" Dick snorts. "I think I can *feel* you thinking about her."

Blushing has not stopped feeling wonderful, really, but -- "I think we're both wearing too much armor for that, Dick."

This laugh is almost a *cough*, and the hand on the back of Tim's neck abruptly slaps him. Lightly. "I -- I was talking about how your *breathing* changed, little brother, Jesus --"

"I would like to point out that prolonged exposure to cold can have a -- a deeply deleterious effect on thought processes."

"Is *that* your excuse?"

"I --" How to answer that question? More to the point, how to answer that question when the only thing he can smell is Dick's sweat and skin and the only thing he can be absolutely sure he's feeling -- Dick *moves* them -- is Dick's thigh between his own, nudging at his groin.

Jogging at it a little, and --

He's definitely warmer this way, but -- "Well. How much of an excuse do I really *need*, Dick?" It's possible that came out too plaintively, but --

"Ah, okay, I feel a little better," Dick says, and nudges him one more time. "If Jason *had* somehow found a way to possess you, you'd either be saying something about Barbara's breasts or hitting on me right now. Or both. It could've been both."

For just a moment, the only thing Tim can unpack from that sentence is 'Barbara's breasts,' which stops being embarrassing once he translates the rest. And... it's a pleasant surprise to have a response handy: "I'm reasonably sure that only happens when I'm within range of the Case."

"Within --" It's probably the best laugh of the whole night, for all that it's silent. It's... *substantial* enough to move Dick against him, and that almost has to mean that Dick is as honestly *cheered* as possible.

Another reason to be warm.

"How --" Dick curls his fingers in against the back of Tim's neck. "You never really told me how it was. Your training, I mean."

Not the easiest question to answer, and there was hardly any footage of *Dick's* training for him to judge against. What was there for Jason tended to be spottily inconsistent, and raised far more questions than it answered. The sort of questions which were difficult to put into *words* --

"Hey, I can tell you're still awake, kiddo."

"No, I know. I was -- considering how to answer," Tim says, and thinks about pushing back against those fingers. There are, actually, ways for him to move which wouldn't automatically entail rubbing up against Dick in one way or another -- it's just that there aren't very many.

"You know... I didn't mean for it to be a difficult question. I *get* that training had to feel, in a lot of ways, like one failure after another."

("No. Again.") "But the failures were always very -- purposeful. It *means* something to get -- something, after trying your hardest over and over."

"Mm, that, too," Dick says, and strokes his way down over Tim's back -- and ass.

The reasoning behind it seems to mostly involve hitching Tim closer, but Dick doesn't actually move his hand once he's done so. And --

It's Dick. That's reason enough, and reason enough for Tim to shift until he's resting his head on Dick's arm.

"Is this all right?"

"Pretty much perfect, little brother," Dick says, and kisses Tim's temple.

Tim blinks, thinks, waits -- *thinks* -- "Dick...?"

"I..." This laugh doesn't move Dick very much, and it's difficult to tell, right now, how much of it is rueful and how much is simply *quiet*. "Do you mind? I just need to -- feel you, right now. The quiet is getting to me -- everything's getting to me, to be honest --"

"It's all right," Tim says. Well, it was mostly a blurt. "I don't mind."

"No, hunh?" Dick strokes up over Tim's back again, and down, and -- pauses. Laughs, again. "Convince me."

"Well, I..." Was he *supposed* to hit on Dick? Is there some way to do that jokingly? Some way for *him*, and for everything his relationship is with Dick, as opposed to everything he's ever let himself want when he decidedly *didn't* have Dick wrapped around him -- "It's not like -- um. If we were naked, we'd probably die a slow and rather ignominious death."

"Heh. *Indubitably*. We don't have to take anything off," Dick says, and -- doesn't really say anything else, or do more than tap at the armor at the base of Tim's spine.

How is he supposed to respond, exactly...? "No, I... of course not?"

"I'm not being very helpful, am I?"

There's still a laugh in Dick's voice, but there isn't really anything else. Or -- no. He doesn't particularly want to, but he *could* treat this as an exercise in detection. Dick's breathing is slow, but it isn't quite even.

Dick is -- or had been, earlier -- obviously feeling somewhat less than optimal.

Dick needs... needs to feel him. And Tim doesn't need to keep both hands wedged between them, anymore. It's warm enough. Dick pulls back a little when Tim starts to move his arm, but not so far that Tim hesitates before bringing that hand up to Dick's face, slowly enough not to jog the cape too much.

It's -- he can't *feel* much through the gauntlet, but Dick sighs. And strokes down over Tim's ass again. This isn't much of an exercise, anymore, on his part. And --

It's not really a surprise. Tim could feel Dick shifting, feel the warmth of his breath getting closer. Dick's breath still smells like the canned pears they'd wolfed earlier -- the can had been one of the unlabeled ones they couldn't quite justify giving to any of the shelters, and the fact that it had turned out to be perfectly edible fruit had made Tim feel as if they'd stolen something --

It's not a *surprise* to be kissed, but Tim's body refuses to accept that. The part of him which isn't yelling, somewhat hysterically, about whether or not Dick is actually *okay* is busy screaming about the kiss itself, and how it's soft, and warm, and *Dick* --

How it's making Tim flush and tense -- or maybe relax, all over -- Dick pulls back.


Tim would like a good, solid week to do nothing but help people here and think about how to answer that question. He has *now*, and just enough saliva on his lips to make them feel a little cool, and Dick's thigh still wedged between his own. "I -- you want to --" Make out. That can't possibly be the best term for it, but it's the only one which is coming to mind. Or --

Perhaps he means 'share physical affection -- more.'

Or. Tim pushes his fingers into Dick's hair, trying not to tangle it any more than it already is --

"Mm. I like that," Dick says, and squeezes Tim's ass.

On the one hand, it would probably suit the moment to mention that Tim likes *that*. On the other hand, it might mean that Dick will stop doing it when they're not... doing this. "I -- good. Dick --"

This laugh is soft, and *distinctly* rueful. Perhaps it's something in the tone, the notes caught on exhales -- "How confusing am I being? You're not -- tell me I'm not making you want to snuggle up with some rusty metal instead of me?"

"I'm attached to my tetanus-free state," he says, because it's the easiest thing to answer --

And Dick laughs against Tim's cheek, then drags the laugh -- breathy and soft -- over to Tim's mouth. This kiss isn't as deep as the other one. It's more like a dozen -- more -- different kisses at once. It's -- really very wonderful, possibly especially because a part of Tim's mind has given itself over to the question of whether or not he should be using any of the tricks Steph has taught him. It would be --

It would be, perhaps, the best possible response to the feel of Dick's tongue sliding over Tim's lips and teasing Tim's tongue. Tim sucks -- Dick pulls back. "Um -- sorry --"

"No, I -- really no," Dick says, cupping the back of Tim's neck and tugging until Tim's within range of a -- nuzzle. A soft one, which Tim is abruptly, deeply sure is mostly soft because of the stubble on Dick's cheeks. Tim wouldn't mind feeling it more --

He drags his face against the grain, and Dick hums, squeezes Tim again --

"Tim.... how hard are you?"

Harder with that *question*, but -- but. "Most of me still wants to stay dressed."

"Good, practical, *reasonable* little brother -- God, I want to *see* you," Dick says, and kisses Tim's cheek, licks him there, and moves the kiss back to Tim's mouth --

Tim curls his fingers in Dick's hair --

Dick moans into Tim's mouth, pulls back -- "That's why I stopped, before. I couldn't -- God, if we're not using our flashlight batteries to stitch each other up..."

"We really -- we really can't. Dick, I -- I haven't. Changed."

Dick moves in for another kiss -- no. He's just close. Close enough that they're breathing each other's breath, now, and Tim feels -- a lot warmer.

Definitely --

"You've never watched Spoiler's face soften when you kissed her? You've never seen the way her eyes get wider just before she closes them? Her eyelashes on her cheeks, the shine of your saliva on her lips -- I've never seen her mouth, little brother. I've never seen her face --"

"She -- she's very. She's beautiful. Um, Dick --"

"Her lips get a little redder, like maybe yours are, right now. And -- her cheeks would be flushed. I can feel the heat of yours on my face, *my* mouth --"

"I -- oh. Dick, please, I --"

"Tell me her face doesn't change when she says 'please,' and I'll call you a liar."

It's -- he's never -- they haven't, really... Tim licks his lips -- and Dick's close enough that he winds up licking Dick's, too. "Sorry, I --"

"No, don't apologize. Don't..." Dick sighs, and kisses him, and that's when Tim realizes how different Dick's tone had become, how -- he doesn't have words for it, but he hears himself moaning into Dick's mouth and knows that he's trying.

Dick had sounded like -- "I want -- to see you, too."

Close enough, now, that, when Dick smiles, Tim feels every moment of it. Tim shudders, but he's really not cold, and he really wants --

It feels clumsy to lunge for Dick's mouth like this, but the sound Dick makes is really very *appreciative*, and that's enough. More than -- it's good to have another reason why 'enough' is an inadequate word. It's *Dick*, and Tim never thought this would ever happen, but now it almost seems like it makes sense.


Tim pulls back -- pulls against the way Dick is *holding* him --

"God. My turn to apologize. Sorry, Tim. Is it too much?"

By what definition of same? "I -- I'm not who you'd like to be kissing, right now."

"Mm. People are allowed to change their minds for this kind of thing, but then you wound up pretty damned close to *your* vigilante-friend pretty quick."

It's *Steph*. She wouldn't have it any other way. She -- "I miss her. But, I --"

"How unhealthy would it be for us to just -- take what we can have, tonight?"

Tim blinks, and wonders if Dick is close enough to feel it. The hand on the back of his neck feels almost restless, or -- maybe that's him, right now. The fact that he misses Steph doesn't mean -- "I -- it's you," Tim says, and bites his lip --

And gets kissed, softly, over and over until he stops. And then *Dick* bites his lip. Is it a smile?

Something else?

"Mm. What's me?"

Tim isn't sure if there are any *good* answers to that question, as opposed to true ones. "I like... I like the idea of 'tonight," Tim says. "I mean, it doesn't have to be --"

Dick squeezes the back of Tim's neck. "It doesn't have to be anything you don't want," he says, soft and so *sure*, just as if --

"It doesn't have to be anything you don't want, *either*." And that came out too loudly, too *much*, and it still isn't any of the right things, or even the true things. The sound of his own breathing -- the sound of his own *heartbeat* -- seems to drown out everything else, and he thinks it's possible that there would be nothing more beautiful than watching Dick kissing Steph --

He thinks he's going insane, really, but -- it seems to be the place for it, if not, necessarily, the time.


"Don't mind me. I'm just trying to figure out if it would be a bad idea for me to take that as a *challenge*."

The images -- the *feeling* -- "Maybe -- um."

"Maybe... some other time?"

That was a question, and a very -- it isn't a difficult question, it's just that it comes with Dick's hand in his hair, and the sound -- the feel, so *much* to feel -- of Dick's sigh, and Tim realizes that he's still kind of gripping *Dick's* hair. "It would probably... do you think we could --"

"Yes," Dick says, and the smile is still close enough to feel, and it's at least as important as the kisses, which aren't especially soft, but are definitely slow. Not as... encouraging as they could be, which is only something to work against until Tim remembers that they're in a hole in the ground. If there was light, there would probably be things that didn't need to be seen, failures in the form of bodies -- no.

Not -- not right now.

If they're in someone's grave, then at least there's room for them not to know it. They don't have to know everything, and they don't have to *do* anything, right now, but this. Tim squeezes Dick's thigh between his own and gets a deeper kiss for it -- or perhaps, in Dick's view, it was simply time for one.

There's no real way to be sure, which means that Tim probably shouldn't already be feeling so *comfortable* with this, or at least it shouldn't be something he's getting used to, no matter what his body has to say on the matter. What will Steph say when he kisses her like this?

Will she have waited for him, out there in the part of the world which is still America? What, exactly, is he going to tell his parents?

"What are you thinking about?"

Of course Dick can sense it, or feel it, or -- "Nothing that belongs here," Tim says, and kisses Dick again.

Dick slips his fingers out of Tim's hair and strokes down his back. He squeezes, and it's more of a hug than anything else, tonight, warm and some variety of safe.

It reminds Tim that he's actually tired, that the feeling that's never really gone away since the day after he'd gotten here is *fatigue*. He doesn't pull away from the kiss, but it becomes something closer to breath, sharing, closeness --

At some point, they're going to sleep, and then they'll work again. A part of him feels like now is a good time to consider the rumor that Penguin is stockpiling necessary supplies, and to wonder if he'll be working with Dick for that, or if Bruce will need him to be somewhere else.

And there's a feeling in Tim, deeper than he can touch with any degree of analysis, that may not be entirely different from satisfaction.

No matter what, he's where he belongs.