Seduction of the Timocent
by Te
July 4, 2011

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: Various AU-ized spoilers for both ancient and semi-recent storylines. Takes place sometime after Tim's seventeenth birthday.

Summary: "My issues... well. It all started when my first orgasm was brutally murdered in front of me by an unknown assailant."

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which occasionally dovetails with the content some readers may find disturbing. Specifically, dubious consent.

Author's Note: I've had this bunny since not long after I wrote myself in love with Lex/Tim. It accrued a great deal of additional bunnylets along the way, and gradually turned into less a story than a blueprint of What It Looks Like In Te's Head Pretty Much All The Time. That might be the real warning.

Acknowledgments: Much love and gratitude to ShadowValkyrie, Mildred, and my Jack, all of whom provided audiencing and awesome encouragement. Also, happy birthday to Britt, who stepped in with some incredibly helpful guidance and canon massage. <3


Bruce wants him to be happy. That -- there's no getting around that.

Alfred has been preparing Tim's favorite foods.

Dick has been leaving the 'haven once a week -- but not *quite* like clockwork -- to spend the night patrolling with him. Flying with him.

Barbara had pierced Tim's ears personally -- while two-thirds of the monitors in the Clocktower were full of Dick, Roy, Connor, and Bruce working out -- together and separately. The inevitable ice cream had been consumed while watching Clark have yet another clothes-destroying battle with some namelessly distressing Apokoliptian.

Cassandra --

Cassandra has shown up to every last one of her reading lessons, whether or not Steph was available to help with the teaching.

Steph, for her part, has interrupted the training she loves "more than my Supervibe. More than Clark *using* the Supervibe *on* me. More than *you*, boyfriend. Sometimes," to provide any number of objectively wonderful hugs, squeezes, gentle tackles, tickles, and spooning encounters.

Sometimes, now, Tim can smell her lemon-scented moisturizer in wisps and hints in various parts of the Cave. It's right. It's --

Bruce --

Bruce, for the most part, has been... present. *Quietly* present. He doesn't demand that they work together, he doesn't demand reports, he doesn't demand *anything*, anymore. He *asks*, and meets Tim's eyes while he's doing it.

He asks --

And, every single time he *does* ask -- for *anything* -- what he's really asking for is Tim's signature on certain papers that will, with a little legal wrangling Tim might not have to actually show *up* for at this point, cause Tim to become a Wayne in truth.

Just like Cassandra, and Dick, and -- Jason.

Tim swallows, and pauses in front of a pawn shop with a window grimy enough to provide a decent reflection in the iffy glare of the arc-sodiums. His lipstick is perfect. His eye shadow is fading a little, but -- enough of it is still there. His blush is making him look like his mother in a *mean* mood --

If she could *possibly* make it happen, his mother would be here *berating* him for not taking Bruce up on his offer *immediately*, and never mind the fact that getting adopted by Bruce Wayne is the world's quickest way to wind up *fucking* Bruce Wayne. Just -- he knows that as well as he knows anything about her. The woman she was before -- Haiti.

Tim *starts* to frown, but his reflection reminds him not to. He -- hm.

He turns slightly -- yes, the corset was creeping up on the right, slightly. He adjusts it, shivering for the feel of sweat beneath the leather. PVC would've suited the character he's developing better, but would've been just a little too deadly for the temperature in Club G, which had absolutely gotten up above ninety Fahrenheit. Several kids had passed out over the course of the evening -- some of them *not* from the various recreational chemicals Tim was tracking while wearing the clothes of 'Spence Hollingsworth.' 

The skirt is leather, as well, and is short enough for him to fight in -- and is slit on both sides to boot, just in case. This means that it's also short enough that he'd had to wear exciting underwear --

Bruce has never *admitted* that crafting undergarments which are both exciting and practical is a hobby of his, but he also hasn't *had* to. Bruce had this outfit -- and several others in the same vein -- *ready* for him.

Bruce --

Really, really wants Tim to be happy.

The boots alone would've done it -- the knives in the toes could split *hairs*, *and* they bring Tim's height to a respectable five-feet-ten-inches -- but really --

The entirety of the *look* --

Tim smiles at himself in the window, and gives himself a moment -- perhaps two -- to wonder *which* member of his family --

The only family he has *left* and it's been six *months* and he's allowed to stop thinking, stop *feeling* --

The smile stiffens on his face. He --

No. Happy things.

Like the fact that, sooner or later, *someone* in the family will *ask* why Tim hasn't protested even a little about the rather shockingly high number of a) undercover assignments Bruce has given him, and b) undercover assignments Bruce has given him that involve Tim being just a wee bit... fabulous.

In ways which mark him as a decided gender...

He thinks he'll go with the term 'enthusiast.' For now.

*One* of them will ask -- he's reasonably sure it will be Dick -- and then...

Well, then Tim can and will say all *sorts* of things.

Fun things.

*Entertaining* things.

He won't, truly, *shock* any of them, but... but. He'll settle for a jaw-drop or two. He thinks that's fair, and --

The smile feels better on his face. *Much* better, really, and so he can continue on his way. His *merry* way, because it's nearly dawn, and Tim isn't remotely suicidal enough to try his bike while dressed like *this* unless he has to.

*Someone* will appear to pick him up and take him -- home, probably in just a few more blocks. His subcutaneous tracers wouldn't have it any other way.

He walks -- no.

He *stalks*, because the boots are made for it in every possible way, because it puts a sway in his hips that makes the skirt look much better, because he *can* --


Specifically, a limousine the color of *tanzanite*. Tim is all set to wonder which local gang is allowing its members to express themselves *that* much --

But then the window is rolling down in the back passenger side --

And that really, truly is Lex Luthor smiling at him.

And beckoning.

Well. That's... unexpected.

However, every Tim Drake in this body who Lex Luthor is *allowed* to know -- assuming he's been recognized from one party or another -- would absolutely blush --

Or look like he's doing just that, which is good enough for government work --

And -- yes. Tim smooths his hands down over his hips, licks his lips, and takes a few -- shaky -- steps closer. Just a few. "Ah... can I help you?"

Luthor smiles, folding his arms on the lower edge of the window and resting his chin on them. "I believe we can help each other, Mr. Drake."

Tim blinks precisely as much as the seventeen-year-old civilian he's supposed to be should. "Ah..."

"You don't know what I'm talking about. You are, perhaps, wondering if you're about to be picked up by an excitingly -- hopefully -- bald older man you know only from terrible parties and equally terrible press conferences. Yes?"

"To be fair, there have also been any number of intriguingly... passionate newspaper articles."

Luthor makes a show of looking him over. And that --

Tim puts a fist on his hip and bends a knee. "I can get a great deal of reading done while waiting for my nail polish to dry, Mr. Luthor --"

"Call me Lex, please."

"I'd --" Rather not. But... Lex Luthor isn't a supervillain, as far as Tim Drake is concerned. He has a few -- a *few* -- shady business practices, but then... so did Janet and Jack Drake. Tim smiles, knowing that the lipstick will take the blame for how sharp it is. "All right. Lex."

"And may I call you Tim?"

Tim inclines his head. "Feel free." How did you *find* me --

*Luthor* inclines his head. "May I entice you into my rolling midlife crisis?"

That -- Tim hums. "I rather expect those to be... sportier."

Luthor smiles -- and it even looks somewhat real. "This limousine was built by people tasked to keep heads of state alive and kicking even when the citizens would rather have them be anything but. It can and periodically *does* leave 'sportier' vehicles in the dust."

"Of mortar fire?"

The smile gets broader -- "Not recently. Please, join me. I assure you, I have no designs on your virtue whatsoever."

Tim drums his fingers against his thigh --

Tim Drake has no reason not to get in the car. But --

"On one condition."

Luthor raises an eyebrow. "You have my word that I have no intention of sharing any information about you with *anyone* else. Not even what you've chosen to wear in public."

Tim waves a hand. "I really don't care about that, Lex --"

"No...? All right. Then what?"

"I'd like to know precisely how you tracked me down."

Luthor hums. "Is your location at any given time a matter of security...?"

"I'm the ward of one of the wealthiest men on the planet --"

"And you are alone in Gotham City in the middle of the night in decidedly impractical clothes. Or do you only care about security sometimes?"

Oh... hell. But -- Tim pulls on a rueful smile that doesn't go with his makeup, at all. "Everyone needs a night off."

Luthor inclines his head again. "I've had your parents' gravesite watched for the past three weeks --"

Tim rears back --

"Crass, ugly, and disrespectful, yes, but... it was very important to me to see how you lived, Tim."


"I didn't know it, but it was *also* important to me that I discover that you're the sort of young man who *would* visit your parents' graves with a trench coat over your *deeply* intriguing ensemble... before going out clubbing."

Tim -- doesn't growl.

Nor does he let himself look at Luthor the way he *wants* to --

Some expressions require a mask. That -- he'd learned that in the aftermath of Jason's death, when Bruce looked like the Batman more often than not... and looked like a man who had lost the love of his life at all of those other times.

He'd wanted to *hide* Bruce from the world --

But that was over four years ago, and sometimes no one gets to hide, at all. Sometimes --

Tim takes a deep breath and shakes his head once. "Mr. Luthor --"

"Please call me --"

"*No*," Tim says, because he *is* allowed to be offended. "You've intruded on my privacy, and on my grief. You... I *had* been going with the idea that at least some of those editorials in the Daily Planet were exaggerated, but clearly I was wrong to do so."

And Luthor is... studying him, searching him for points of data and obviously integrating at *speed* --

And then he steps out of the limousine, spreads his hands, turns them palm up, and smiles wryly. "A compromise...?"

Tim lets his lip curl --

And Luthor -- grins. "That expression is perfect for that makeup. You look like you're moments away from stepping *firmly* on some interestingly-kinked man's genitals."


Luthor laughs softly. "*Not* your kink...? All right. I assure you, it isn't mine, either. I... all right. I'll stop trying to entice you into my midlife crisis and be plain: I would like to adopt you."

What --

"Bruce Wayne, for all of his *many* quirks, doesn't pass up chances to adopt likely young people without very good reason -- like all those interviews Dick Grayson gave in his teens about how no one would ever -- *could* ever -- take the place of his parents. You... have given no such interviews."

What. The -- no. He can focus, and -- cope. "Bruce Wayne taking in orphans is a lot less newsworthy than it was fourteen years ago --"

"Are you saying he *hasn't* asked to... make it official?"

"I'm *saying* --"

"That it's none of my business, perhaps?"

Tim drums his fingers on his hip. "The thought had occurred."

Luthor smiles -- warmly. "I'd like to make it my business."

Well -- fuck. Tim decides to go for a pinch to the bridge of his nose --

"How much do the trappings of... drama amuse you?"

"Very, at times -- Mr. Luthor --"

"They amuse me, too. Look, I'll be honest --"

"Really?" And Tim looks up and raises *both* eyebrows.

Luthor... laughs. Softly. "Not many dishonest people get especially far with you."

"No, they don't."

"Because... someone taught you *all* about social mendacity...? Perhaps your late mother?"

Tim lets himself sneer again --

And Luthor's smile is delighted. "I remember her well, of course. A lovely -- and formidable -- woman --"

"You were going --"

"To be honest with you. I'm doing just that, I assure you," Luthor says, and slips his hands into his pockets. "You may not know it, but your mother and I had begun casual negotiations to bring our businesses closer together in the months before her murder. I considered -- deeply -- making a play to take you in then... but Bruce can move very, very fast when he wants to."

"*Bruce* was a family friend --"

"No, he wasn't," Luthor says, and offers his own sharp smile. "I *asked* your father about it when he came to me for advice about how to get you safely out of Gotham during that No Man's Land business..."

Tim -- stiffens. He can't actually --

Luthor smiles more broadly. "I thought you might not know that. Your mother wouldn't have needed any advice whatsoever. Your *mother* probably would've just sent in a team of heavily-armed mercenaries to drag you out kicking and screaming -- if that had been necessary. Your father was always... friendlier. That much was clear."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"Yes, I *will* continue -- thank you for asking... Mr. Drake. Your father told me that he hadn't the faintest *clue* how you managed to get on Bruce's radar, but that you'd assured him that there was... nothing *untoward*. He also told me that, in the end, it was clear that your true allegiance was to Dick Grayson. Your 'big brother.' Is that why you haven't taken Bruce up on his offer? Would you rather be his grandson than his son?"

Tim rolls his eyes --

"Brilliantly done, but it doesn't suit you in the slightest. You..." Luthor smiles again. "You're rather too serious-minded for that sort of thing, aren't you?"

"I don't --"

"Know what I'm talking about...? All right. I've given you enough background to my interest at this point, I think: I want Drake Industries."


Luthor takes one hand out of his pocket and raises his index finger. "I *don't* intend to take it *entirely* away from you."

"Still. No."

"I also have no interest in the DI profits. Not one red cent of them."

"Interesting, but --"

"Still no, yes, I see." Luthor cocks his head to the side. "Will you tell me --"

"Probably not."

Luthor -- rocks on his heels. "May I take you to an early breakfast?"

Tim blinks.

Luthor *grins*. "Pancakes? Waffles? Poached eggs?"

"Mr. Luthor --"

"I would like, very much, to have an *extensive* conversation with you. And to see how long you can wear those boots comfortably. It's been... six hours? Seven?"

"Seven and a half. Mr. Luthor --"

"Thank you."

"You're not welcome. Please stop interrupting me," Tim says, and raises his eyebrow again.

Luthor mimes buttoning his mouth shut.

That -- "You're having fun."

"Oodles of it. Just -- oodles."

Tim crosses his arms over his chest --

"You really ought to get corsets tailored more exactly to your form. That one rides up abominably."

"I'll keep that in mind. *Why* --" Tim sighs. And -- deals with his own curiosity. His own --

This is, actually, good intel. This is --

Knowing what Luthor is doing -- and *plotting* -- at any given time is the sort of thing that saves *lives*.

Large *numbers* of lives --

And Luthor is waiting. Patiently.

Bright-eyed and --

Tim takes a deep, cleansing breath --

"It's a shame you stopped studying the martial arts when you were younger. That sort of breath control --"

"Is very, very useful for it. Yes, I know," Tim says, and allows himself a glare. "What exactly did you intend to *offer* me for control of DI?"

"A home. Intelligent conversation. Access to more money and power than *Bruce* knows what to do with. The rest... well, it all depended on what -- exactly -- I could entice you to want."

Tim lets his expression be as sour as it wants to be.

"I'm not even a little bit impressive to you. That..." Luthor smiles broadly again. "You're making me even more regretful that I didn't have the opportunity to get to know your mother."

"Yes, well, I'm sure you would've found much to talk about before she systematically destroyed you for annoying her -- Mr. Luthor."

Luthor rocks on his heels *again* -- "Yes...?"


"Oh, yes?"

Tim checks his time sense -- no. "What time *is* it?"

Luthor doesn't check his watch before -- "It's approximately four-forty-five. The owners of Club G really *don't* care about curfews, do they?"

"It's *Gotham*, Mr. Luthor. *No* one does."

Luthor inclines his head... and makes a sweeping gesture toward the interior of his limousine.

Tim Drake should... be a little more exasperated, perhaps. Tim therefore squeezes his eyes shut --

And taps his right foot --

And sighs *somewhat* gustily before stalking the short distance to the limousine and crawling inside --

And then it's a matter of forcing himself to only tense in certain *ways*, because Mercy Graves is sitting inside with a very large gun -- with the safety off -- resting beside her. "Ah."

"Don't mind Mercy, Mr. Drake. There are some problems even a rolling midlife crisis can't solve."


"And truly," Luthor says, and sits across from Tim before crossing his legs. "Surely you're accustomed to *some* of the realities of security at this point...?"

And Luthor's expression is just a little *too* curious*, because -- Mercy... *should* be no one to Tim *but* inordinately attractive security. But -- "I'm *not* accustomed to security guards eyeing me like meat which isn't leaking *enough*, Mr. Luthor."

Luthor grins again -- and turns to Mercy. "Darling, pretend he's three years older and only wearing Lois Lane's shade of lipstick because *he's* a winter, too."

Mercy narrows her eyes -- and then smiles warmly, brightly, and horrifyingly. "Yes, Lex." She does, however, tuck her gun away --

No, not good enough. Tim Drake *is* allowed some measure of intellect, and so Tim allows himself to look irritated --

"Still no, Mr. Drake...?"

"Still no."

"She really is a wonderful woman, you know. Fascinating in *every* way."

Tim crosses his own legs, careful not to *flash* Luthor overmuch. "I'm afraid very *few* armed women are capable of... fascinating me."

"And the unarmed variety...?"

"Did you plan to *find* some for me?"

Luthor spreads his hands again. "I *haven't* experimented with pimping, yet, Mr. Drake. For all I know, it could turn out to be wildly entertaining."

That -- Tim laughs. A little --

And Luthor smiles delightedly again. "Mental note: subject *enjoys* joking about horrific criminal enterprise."

"Ah --"

"I do plan to refine the note as time passes, I assure you."

"Well. I suppose that's good to know," Tim says, and rotates his foot to the right, to the left, to the right --

"I would think you'd be somewhat more tired than that... or are you much of a dancer?"

"You weren't watching...?"

Luthor smiles at Mercy, who is pretending to lounge. She could be at Tim's throat in an eyeblink -- "The bouncer wanted no part of my darling -- or the security team I've had wandering through Gotham and its environs for the past few weeks."

Tim hums. "I'll have to tip him the next time I visit."

"Oh, yes. Though considering how well he stood up to Mercy -- and the rather large amount of money she offered at first... well. It might not make a difference. *Was* he a metahuman, do you think?"

Absolutely. And doing the job for fun, judging by the tattoo marking him -- the name he gave 'Spence' was T-Rod -- as being a member of *that* guild -- "Who can say? In Gotham, one learns to avoid questions like that, lest one pick up... unwanted attention."

"Ah, yes. The Batman and his tireless efforts to keep Gotham from sinking into the Atlantic. I've always found it fascinating that so few of the Gotham media outlets take him to task for his -- open -- prejudice against metahumans."

Oh -- really. Tim smiles. "People who actually live in Gotham take one look at what metahumans do to other, wealthier, better-protected cities --"

"And you've decided not to skewer me for my own prejudices --"

"And *you've* decided to keep interrupting me. I'll be honest, Mr. Luthor -- I really don't think you would've gotten anywhere with my mother."

Luthor looks down and smiles. "Please, tell me what you were going to say."

Tim raises his eyebrows.

Luthor gestures apologetically. "Please."

"Hmm. All right. As I was saying, Gotham residents look at what happens in other cities... and recoil in horror as they look around *this* city at the crumbling -- and crumbled -- architecture. And some of them are grateful to you for laying down... a useful narrative."


"Oh, yes," Tim says, and smiles a bit more broadly, rolling his foot on his ankle again and thinking of the many, many ways he could hurt this man --

Maim him --

And, perhaps, cripple Mercy Graves. He'd have to do that first, of course --

"Tell me more...?"

"Does your ego need feeding?"

Luthor points to Mercy -- who is filing her short nails *just* as if she'd like to bury the file in one of Tim's eyes.

Before burying it in the other. "Yes, Mr. Luthor?"

"I've taken an objectively beautiful, brilliant, and accomplished woman and turned her into a weapon -- and my adjunct. What do *you* think about my ego?"

Tim makes a moue --

Luthor gives him an *admiring* look, and that --

What? Just --

Luthor is blinking and *frowning* -- almost certainly at himself --

*What*? No -- carry on. Just -- intel. He's doing this for the intel. Tim drums his fingers on his knee. "I'm not usually in the business of humoring the emotionally needy, Mr. Luthor."

Luthor continues to frown for a beat --

Another --

Mercy's eyes are *glittering* as her grip on the file becomes infinitely more belligerent --

"Mr. Luthor...?"

"I -- hm. I believe you just caught me with my metaphorical pants down, Mr. Drake," Luthor says, looking up -- and looking pained.


"Your mother... was a lovely woman."

"So you've mentioned --"

"And you need not feed my ego, at all," and Luthor waves a hand -- apologetically.

Mercy resettles herself --

And Luthor sighs and stares out the window for a moment -- "There are more -- and more powerful -- metahumans every day, Mr. Drake. I admire the Batman, as he's managed to do something I never could, and likely never will."

"Some would say he made a terrible mistake by not doing everything in his power to bring in a metahuman presence after the earthquake."

"Certainly the ubermensch could've done *much*... but." Luthor looks at him again -- darkly and shrewdly. "Do you think he would've been able to get them out again after that?"

"You're asking me --"

"Don't do that. You've made your intellect and acumen abundantly clear -- and quite attractive. If you haven't given a particular subject enough thought to make yourself comfortable discussing it, say so. You're young enough that I wouldn't judge, at all."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Luthor raises one *back*.

Tim smiles, and nods to Mercy. "I'm not your adjunct, Mr. Luthor."

"Would you like to be?"

Tim *snorts* -- and coughs. "Ah... no."

Luthor grins. "It was worth a try," he says, and steeples his fingers. "Please. Humor me."

"By being bitchy?"

"*Interestingly* bitchy."

Tim hums. "All right. No, he wouldn't have been able to get the metahumans out again. They would notice -- immediately -- that absolutely none of the bad press Gotham has received over the years was exaggerated. As a breed... vigilantes need to be needed. Gotham is *always* needy. Though perhaps not as needy as you."

Luthor inclines his head. "Thank you for your answer. And kudos for managing to be thoughtful, detailed, and utterly ambiguous about where your own prejudices stand."

"Well. There's something to be said for a little mystery."

"Between friends...?"

"You *don't* want to be my friend, Mr. Luthor."

"No. I'd like to be your father. I -- am I allowed to ask you personal questions yet?"

"Am I allowed to demand a quid pro quo?"

"Of course."

"That gets an 'of course'...?"

"*That* gets you to stop kicking your divertingly-shod feet?"

*Divertingly* -- Tim makes a point of looking the boots over, noting their laces, the shine, the thickness of the leather --

He kicks out -- and forces himself not to move when *Mercy* moves to jab his throat with her file.

Lightly. The flesh feels dimpled, not broken --

And Luthor sighs. "Knives in the boots, darling?"

"Yes, Lex."

Luthor turns back to face him. "*Were* you threatening me?"

"No, but I'm more tempted to by the moment."

Luthor hums --

"He's telling the truth, Lex."

"Yes, I know, darling. *Still*."

Mercy shows her *teeth* -- and sits back. "Yes, Lex."

Tim lets his expression be sour. "Breakfast," he says, "had better be exquisite."

"I've had no complaints with the Chilton's kitchens... though it's true that I can't offer you anything to Alfred Pennyworth's standards."

"No one could."

Luthor inclines his head. "I will answer your questions honestly -- if you do the same."

"*All* of my questions...?"

Luthor smiles again. "If there's something I *don't* want to tell you -- for whatever reason -- I'll be clear."

"That's hardly encouraging, Mr. Luthor."

Luthor taps his fingertips against themselves. "If you allow us our first names again... there will be far fewer questions I won't answer. You have my word."

Which is worth... much.


Depending on whether he's temporarily teaming up with Superman or some *other* hero. Depending on what he *wants* -- and when he wants it.

Intel --

Intel uber alles.

Tim makes a point of uncrossing and recrossing his legs. "Lex."

"Tim. Why don't you want to be Bruce Wayne's son?"

"Because you think you can avoid his mistakes?"

Luthor inclines his head. "As an example, I will never drink champagne out of one of those boots."

"Even though they're diverting?"

"Even so."

Tim smiles. "I could say something at this juncture about simply not being *ready* to be anyone's son, at all."

"But you won't. Why...?"

"Because I'm being honest," Tim says, and makes a show of studying his nails -- they're still perfect. "Brucie Wayne horrifies me far too often for me to wish to attach my name to his own." Bruce, on the other hand... well. Bruce finds *other* ways to be horrifying.

"A fair answer. Your first question?"

"How long have you wanted children of your own?"

Luthor blinks in surprise for the question -- "Since I was fifteen, Tim. I've made a thorough study of it over the past twenty-seven years. The desire has not lessened one iota."

Then what the *hell* happened with Kon -- no. Not that.


"You didn't find that answer satisfactory? I assure you, it was perfectly honest."

And -- he believes it. He believes it with *all* of himself, or Tim's no judge of character, at *all* --


Tim shakes his head. "I found the answer surprising. Deeply so. Your next question?"

"Did you love your parents?"

His mother had a closed casket. His father had an open one, but --

But --

Smelling flowers and chemically-arrested decay did nothing to erase the stink of his father's blood and other fluids. He --

Death is messy. Always. And -- "Not as well as I might have. Did you murder your father?"

"Not directly... but yes. As a follow-up... I loved him very much. All I was capable of."

Tim inclines his head and -- breathes.

Thinks --

Death is --

"I'm sorry," Luthor says, and -- he sounds sincere enough that Tim has to look up, study --

He *is* being sincere -- "For what? Exactly."

"Depressing you."

Tim -- knows exactly how sour he looks --

"Even that expression --" Luthor inhales sharply and shakes his head. "I already miss your delightful insouciance."

"Your tragedy wounds me."

Luthor smiles brightly -- "Does it? Or are you just *that* much of a fighter?"

"Is that your next question?"

"Oh, yes."

"I live in Gotham, Mr. -- Lex. People who *aren't* fighters don't last very long."

"Neither do the fighters, at times."

"Just the same."

Luthor inclines his head again. "Free advice?"

"Will it be paternal...?"

Luthor pinches two fingers together -- and the chauffeur, who is almost certainly Hope Terrell, drives them into the Chilton's underground garage.

There *were* a few luxury hotels in Gotham which hadn't been built to be terrorist- (and thus earthquake-) proof... and just about all of their rubble has been cleared away.

"Please," Lex says, and opens his hand again.

"Who do you associate with who demands such clear body language?"

"Hope, whom you'll meet momentarily... unless you don't wish to?"

"Does she want to stab me?"

"She would almost certainly prefer beating you to death."

Tim snorts and *rubs* at the bridge of his nose -- stops and looks up. "Perhaps for our *next* date, Lex."

Luthor presses a recessed button in his armrest -- and then glitters at him to a certain extent.

Tim raises an eyebrow --

And Luthor inhales sharply again and turns away. "Your mother -- no," he says, and turns back. "Please let me give you advice."

"You didn't ask permission before."

"Before... before I was giving you the sort of advice which would lead to you being more enjoyable for *me* to be around. This... is rather more altruistic."

Tim smirks somewhat helplessly. "All right. Hit me."

"You can do nothing about your capacity for love. You can do nothing about your ability *to* love. You can do nothing about who and *what* you love. You can do nothing about how *much* you love anyone or anything --"

"And therefore I shouldn't worry about it...?"

"In a nutshell? Yes. Your feeling guilty for not loving your parents the 'correct' amount --"

"Is my prerogative, Lex. And I believe we're here."

Luthor frowns -- and then nods. "After you, please. I wasn't quite able to tell, before, whether or not you were wearing a gaff."

Tim *coughs* a laugh. "The ensemble *called* for it."

"Did it...? I suppose I'll take your word for it," and Luthor gestures toward the door.

Tim steps out and stretches... a fraction as much as he can and wishes to. He will *not* give up the store, as it were. Luthor steps out and gestures toward the small, auxiliary, and decidedly private elevator. "You took the penthouse?"

"Always when I'm in Gotham, Tim. It's the *only* way to see the *sky* in your benighted city."

Tim hums and follows Luthor. "Some of us are claustrophilic."

"I'll make you a pillow fort when we get upstairs."

"All right, but I demand battlements."

Luthor laughs as they step into the elevator -- and Mercy stands at quiet attention well within range of any number of attacks as Luthor uses his key to get them access to the penthouse.

It almost certainly has bulletproof windows -- every luxury hotel in Gotham protects the penthouse assiduously. The question is whether or not there are other reasonable escape routes for the wealthy and powerful.

It's been... not quite long enough for Bruce to check for input from Tim's subcutaneous tracers. Soon, though.

And then -- depending on Bruce's current levels of paranoia -- there may be exciting shadows outside those bulletproof windows. It's not that Bruce will set a charge and crash in -- he *trusts* Tim -- but...


Why hadn't Bruce told him that Luthor was in town? He *had* to have known. How much is Bruce trying to protect him?

*Why* would he try to protect Tim from this?

It --

"Will you tell me what's bothering you, Tim...?"

"Brucie," and Tim waves a hand. "The headaches are... constant, at times."

"But you still choose to live with him."

Tim smiles and walks out of the elevator behind Mercy, who immediately begins gridding the place. "It's not your turn to ask another question."

"Do you not trust yourself to keep track any other way?"

Tim sucks his teeth and shakes his head, and allows himself time and room to examine the décor. It's really quite lovely, if staid. There's not *quite* enough beige to choke him, though, and he can't help but approve of the deep magenta accents --

"Stay right there, please."

Tim pauses -- near one of the magenta accents, and the ridiculously ostentatious and modern mahogany bar. That can't have been *legal* -- no, not now. "Yes, Lex?"

"Who's your tailor?"

"Alfred Pennyworth."

Lex opens his mouth, closes it, and *looks* at Tim.

Tim laughs and puts both hands on his hips -- after adjusting the corset. "For this sort of thing... I buy off the rack."


"Because I want to... at the moment."

"Could I convince you to patronize one of my tailors?"

"Perhaps. I'm not at all sure I want you to have access to my sartorial secrets. And that's four."

"So it is. I'm at your disposal."

Tim cocks his head to the side. "Order us breakfast...?"

"Heavy or light?"

Tim peels up the lower edge of the corset, exposing his abs. "What do you think?"

"I *think*... that you don't give a flying fuck about people who would judge you for being vain. Which is intriguing in a boy your age who actually has a mind in his head."

Tim smiles. "Handsome is as handsome does...? Three left."

"For now."

Tim inclines his head. And then moves to examine the rest of the penthouse. He can hear Luthor ordering them yogurt, fruit, cereal, juice, milk, and tea... and Tim absolutely can't argue with any of that.

The art on the walls is disappointingly -- but not surprisingly -- bland.

The windows are UV-treated as well as being bulletproof.

The bed linens in the one open bedroom are white, which Tim loathes, but *he* doesn't have to sleep here -- and the art in the bedroom is much more exciting. Luthor's own?

The couches are designed for taller people, which will work well with these boots -- yes. Tim sits down in the living room and recrosses his legs. After a moment, Luthor joins him and takes the armchair opposite him.

"How often do you wear a gaff?"

"Rarely more than once or twice a week." Depending on how hard Bruce has worked to find clothes to please him which *demand* gaffs, which, of course, depends on how much Gotham allows him *to* work that way.

Luthor nods. "Are you transgendered?"

"To a certain extent... though I haven't given it as much thought as I could have."

Luthor winces -- "All right, please start asking questions again. I'm allergic to debt."

Tim laughs. "Do you want a daughter?"

"Yes, absolutely, and you can wear whatever you want *whenever* you want. Though I'd have to insist that you wait until you have your full growth before you began the surgeries. Do you want the surgeries?"

"Top surgery. Maybe. Was it only the debt that made you wince?"

Luthor smiles like a *shark* -- "Words cannot *express* how much I want to interrogate you."


Luthor waves a hand. "That usually doesn't happen with *civilians*, darling."


"No...? All right. I winced both because of the debt and because it didn't occur to me to bone up on the issues surrounding transgendered teenagers in this day and age."

"For shame."

"Yes, I'm *blackly* disappointed with myself -- ask more questions. Please."

"Are you attracted to me?"

"Possibly. On the one hand, absolutely. On the other hand, I *am* fully capable of beating that sort of thing out of myself -- sometimes. It's never been especially difficult to do with people your age, but you are... unique."

Tim -- blinks.

Luthor smiles and crosses his own legs. "You weren't expecting honesty. That's all right -- neither was I."

Tim laughs somewhat helplessly. "Ah. I'm not sure what to say."

"Then simply ask more questions."

"Are you a supervillain?"

"Not all the time. But sometimes, yes."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"There are times -- any number of times -- when my actions *and* my motivations are entirely altruistic. The naming conventions suggest that *most* supervillains miss that sort of thing entirely."

Depends on who you *ask* --

Because there are people in this world like Harvey fucking *Dent* -- who is, at the moment, entirely sane and working for a bail bondsman who lives and works not especially far from the Clocktower. And --

Bruce absolutely watches that apartment sometimes.

"Are you -- no. Ask more questions."

"Did you want to put *me* in debt, Lex?"


Tim hums. "I don't particularly mind owing people things --"


Well. "A little lie only. I owe Brucie, Dick, Dick's lover Barbara, Cassandra, and my girlfriend much. I've accepted the fact that I always will."

"You pay your debts to everyone else *promptly*."

"Oh, yes."

"Are you a lesbian?"


"Are you --" Luthor *scowls* -- and then laughs quietly. "You know, I don't give very many people the opportunity --"

"To be your son?"

"Or daughter. Or... non-gender-specific child. As the case may be --"

"And as it were, yes," Tim says, and begins rotating his foot again --

"*Did* you dance -- sweet dancing berserkers, ask *questions*!"

Tim smiles. Obnoxiously. And doesn't say a word.

Luthor stares at him.

Tim continues to smile.

Luthor narrows his eyes.

Tim continues to smile.

"Sleep with me."

"Did you want someone to call you 'Daddy?'"

"Mercy only does that when she wants to be caned. I -- Tim."

"Yes, Lex?"

"Are you monogamous?"

"No, and neither is my girlfriend."

"Stephanie Brown. How did you meet her?"

"She saw me while I was wandering through Little Osaka looking for decidedly weird candy..." That's close *enough* to where he'd taken a brick to the face -- "And decided that I would be decent boyfriend material... with training."

"What. Do you. Want to know about me? And if you smile at me again --"

"Did you not like my smile?"

"It's wonderful. I can *feel* my balls being crushed every time. Still --"

"Are you circumcised, Lex?"

"No. My mother didn't believe in it."

"Did you love your mother?"

Luthor's smile is... distant.

Tim raises an eyebrow --

And Luthor's smile turns pained. "Not enough, for how good she was."

"Do only the good deserve love?"

"*Love* -- is outside the realm of things which one can deserve or not deserve."


Luthor's smile turns rapacious again. "Oh, yes. Love is part of the human *disease*, Tim. As such... as such, it must be accepted for what it is."

"Not cured...?"

"As soon cure humanity of stupidity. It will not happen, and thus the question is irrelevant. A waste of time."

That -- hm.

"Yes, Tim?"

"I never would have figured you for a romantic, Lex."

"Darling --"


Luthor hums. "Are you attracted to me?"

"I --" Tim blushes and -- copes.

*Faster* --

"Increasingly," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "I assure you, it will not be a problem."

"Because you have control over yourself?"

"My underwear wouldn't have it any other way."

Luthor laughs delightedly again --

And then a bellhop wheels in their food -- while Hope Terrell shadows him and generally takes several years off his life with every step.

When Luthor nods, Hope tips the man heavily, and -- yes, that was something of a scamper. Tim can't blame the man at all, considering the lack of anything whatsoever in the woman's eyes when she looks him over. Still, Tim nods politely --

And she does the same before walking out once more.

"Do you like her more?"

Tim smiles. "There's less *immediate* mayhem in her eyes."

"There's *nothing* in her eyes, Tim."

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Let's eat."

Luthor inclines his head -- and they do just that.

Luthor leaves the juice and milk for him, focusing on the tea -- white -- and the water. The cereal is granola, which Tim is fond enough of to eat one and half bowls of -- along with his yogurt, berries, peaches, and more yogurt. Hm --

"You were hungry."

"Rather more than I thought I would be," Tim says, and pours himself some of the tea to clear his palate.

"You might be in the midst of a growth spurt."

Tim... flips Luthor off.

"So you *are* wearing heels for that sort of vanity?"

"I'm wearing heels because I have excellent balance in them and they tend to make my legs look fantastic."

Luthor raises an eyebrow.

Tim smiles ruefully. "And because I spend an inordinate amount of time with a man a full nine inches taller than I am. What do you want to do with DI?"

"Dump large amounts of capital into it to save it from the round of layoffs that *will* be inevitable next year without it. Expand its market share -- here and abroad. Step on Lucius Fox's toes."

"It's my intention to give DI to him -- and his children."

"Give -- all right, he's a fantastic businessman *and* a decent human being, but Tim --"

"He, unlike you, has given me no reason not to trust him."

"Trust is a *luxury*."

"All the more reason to appreciate it when it's feasible," Tim says, and considers more yogurt. It *is* low-fat --

"You have a stunning body which will not be adversely affected by eating more of *this* food, Tim."

Tim closes his eyes and smiles --

"*Do* you have an eating disorder?"

"I believe Alfred would cane me if I developed one... more than I already have. Control is also a luxury."

"I... find that I can't argue with that. Just the same. I already know you didn't eat anything in that club."

"Are you ordering me, Lex?"

"Would it make you more or less amenable to my various suggestions and requests?"


Lex sets his teacup down and tilts his head to the side. "There's a 'but' there."

So there is. What -- is he going to do with *that*? No, the answer is always the same: repress at *speed*. For now, though -- "I could change my mind about orders in the future."

"I'll keep that in mind. For now... please, Tim. Eat more."

"Is this part of a nefarious plan to make me so bloated I have to strip?"

"Darling --"


Lex grins. "Tim. Were we to fuck tonight, I can honestly say that I'd hope you'd leave on as many clothes as possible."

"So this *is* your kink."

"*You* are my kink. Increasingly, even. Please."

"How often do you say 'please?'"

"Rarely. *Desperately* rarely. Are you flattered?"

... fuck. "A little, yes," Tim says, and serves himself more yogurt and berries.

"Thank you," Luthor says, and there's *feeling* in his voice --

Tim tenses -- and relaxes himself at speed.

"Why did you stop studying the martial arts? Your mother said you loved it."

Tim pauses with a spoon of yogurt halfway to his mouth. "You're saying you've discussed me with *both* of my parents."

"Is it so strange -- no, strike that. Of course it is. I have, after all, *met* your parents."

Tim snorts and eats, slowly and measuredly. He wouldn't want to give himself a cramp in this outfit.

"I... honestly can't decide how honest I should be for the next few minutes," Luthor says, and adjusts the fall of his pants.

"Then let's agree not to discuss my late parents, at all."

"I can't help but feel that there are any number of points of interest I'd be refusing myself if I agreed to that."

Tim pauses to savor a blueberry for a long moment. It's perfectly ripe, and the flavor is *almost* as richly complex as the smaller, wild berries Alfred favors. When he's done, he meets Luthor's eyes -- which are, in fact, more accurately described as slate-colored than anything else. Thank you for every last one of your disturbingly poetic reports, Bruce. He licks his teeth and smiles. "Sacrifice is an important part of life, Lex."

"Sacrifice is meaningless when you're only doing it to exert control over some aspect *of* your life."

"I disagree. Sacrifice, performed for whatever reason, is often the only thing which can provide -- or maintain -- the happiness of others."

"But if their happiness isn't even in your top *five* reasons for doing something --"

"Then it's still a reason."

"Are you a sociopath, Tim?"


Luthor nods thoughtfully. "Work for me."

"While sleeping with you and also being your child?"

"You can't tell me you're not good at multitasking."

Tim hums. "*Have* you ever had sex with a man?"

"No. But Bruce and I made *love* any number of times when we were teenagers."

Well. That.



Lex laughs *brightly* --

And Tim decides to eat more.


Watching Tim Drake eat is precisely like watching some rather more average teenager jerk off. There's pleasure to it, and focus, and a certain degree of *obvious* desire for more --

But there's also a tension which doesn't abate until he's done. A -- could it be shame?

Even the blush on his cheeks from Lex's little confession -- hm, no, he *can* ask, and never mind the debt. "Did you not know that Brucie was bisexual?"

"I knew," Tim says, and sucks the last bits of yogurt from his spoon. The bowl is as clean as it's possible for it to be without Tim having used his tongue on it.

"Would you like more...?"

"No. Thank you. I... ah..." Tim laughs quietly and leans back, recrossing his legs without flashing Lex *nearly* enough --

He really is going to have to do something about this. He --

The *boy* is *seventeen*. The boy is --

Very interesting. Too interesting. The fact that Lex has never been any good at seducing people he *hasn't* wanted is no reason to let himself become ridiculous.

The tanzanite limousine, lavender jet, and Prudence Hargrove are all the midlife crises he's allowed to *have*. And -- "Yes, Tim?"

"I'm honestly surprised Brucie was your *type*, Lex."

"And that I was his...? *Is* he fucking Dick Grayson -- no. How *long* has he been fucking Dick Grayson?"

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Barbara Gordon is one of the single most frightening people on the planet, Lex -- and I'm including your bodyguards. I think Dick would rather sodomize a porcupine than upset her."

Lex frowns. "She's a computer consultant."

"She's Jim Gordon's daughter, and was taught to fight by the entire Major Crimes Unit," Tim says, and folds down the top of his boot to scratch his knee -- hm.

"Are those knee-highs?"

"Yes. I hate it when my feet sweat in leather, and thigh-highs wouldn't have worked with the rest of this look."

"Stand up for me, please?"

Tim rolls to his feet with a graceful *sway* of the hips --

And Lex stands and walks around him, considering --

His ass is really *quite* small, though well-shaped and probably firm enough to bounce *basketballs* off --

Not that he's --

Doing exactly what he's doing. Lex sighs to himself.

Tim turns to look a question at him over his shoulder --

"You have a marvelous ass."

"Ah -- thank you?"

"You're welcome. And you're right, thigh-highs would've been terrible with this outfit. Which just makes me more determined to put you in outfits where they wouldn't be terrible, at all."

"Personally, I'm fond of garters."

"Are you?"



"I haven't tried."



Lex walks around in front of Tim again. "I was in love with him."

Tim blinks -- adorably. Just --

Lex strokes his cheek --

And Tim steps back. "Lex --"

Damn -- "You have my apologies. I will not do that again."

Tim swallows and nods. "How... how did your relationship with him end?"

"I had my father murdered.... and Bruce left the country to travel the world doing fuck only knows *what*. Well, other than developing functional -- barely -- alcoholism."

Tim frowns. "I'm... I'm sorry about that."

Lex gestures for Tim to sit back down and moves back to his own chair. "You truly are. Why?"

"Because..." Tim shakes his head and sits down again. He doesn't cross his legs this time, though, as opposed to gripping his own knees and staring at something perfectly awful inside his own mind. He --

"We don't have to speak about this at all, Tim."

"No, I..." Tim squeezes his eyes shut -- but only for a moment before he laughs painfully. "You're somewhat stressful to be around, Lex."

"I think of it as being invigorating -- and I'm still more than willing to change the subject."

"There have been times... when I've seen the man Brucie used to be, I think."

"And you've wanted him?"

"Of course," Tim says, and doesn't look at him. "I -- anyway. I've wondered, in the past, about the people Brucie knew before he became... himself."

"I'm reasonably sure Harvey would've gone crazy anyway, if it helps."

Tim blinks rapidly and frowns -- "You call him Harvey still."

Look at me -- no. "Calling him Two-Face -- when he's not pointing a gun at my head -- seems needlessly enabling."

"It would probably be two --"

"And they would probably be twenty-twos, yes," Lex says, and idly considers ordering in more fruit, possibly something with bean curd -- "He would come back to school with ridiculous, terrifying bruises on his face and body. Exeter had a profound lack of guidance counselors -- and a profound surfeit of people who were afraid poverty was catching -- and so Harvey was left to stew. For the *entire* four years. I asked Bruce about it once -- as delicately as I was able."

*That* makes Tim look at him, and --

Yes. He *absolutely* knows that Bruce wanted Harvey -- and more. The question is whether he knows via observation or *conversation*. How much...

How much do you want this one, Brucie darling?

What would you give?

"I -- I'm asking, Lex."

Lex inclines his head. "He drew himself up to something like attention, looked *sternly* at me, and informed me that those were Harvey's secrets to share -- or not -- as he saw fit. When I teased him along the lines of how *he* didn't get to have the secrets, either..." Lex shakes his head and remembers the feel of darkness *taking* his dorm room, of loneliness and fear and *frustrated* love -- "It was abundantly clear that I was absolutely correct. I... Bruce was Harvey's only true friend, and, at the time, he was a truer friend than pretty much anyone else *could* be. If Harvey couldn't open up to *him*... he couldn't open up to anyone."

Tim nods thoughtfully. "You think he was doomed --"

"No. There is no such thing as *doom*. There are, however, outcomes which are vastly more probable than other outcomes."

And *that* -- gets Tim's smile to come back, wry and miserly and vicious as it is.

Lex hums. "You shouldn't tempt me to spout more philosophy, Tim."

"Could anyone stop you from doing that?"

Well. "It's rather difficult for me to do it when I have a cock in my mouth, just as an aside."

Tim coughs another laugh -- and, once more, the laughter in his eyes is brighter and more *intense* by far. And that --

"I'd really like to ask more questions about your parents."

*This* smile would rather be a smirk -- but it isn't. "No."

"All right. What else would you like to know?"

"What would you do if you managed to kill Superman?"

Lex opens his mouth --

But Tim's expression is even *more* wry than *usual*. That...

"You're expecting me to lie."

Tim shows his even white teeth -- no. There's something of an overbite, which was rather more difficult to discern with that lipstick. Lex nods in rather hopeless -- and helpless and hapless -- approval.

And really... "Are you thinking of me as 'Lex,' yet?"

The smile becomes more broad. "No."

"What would it take?"

"I'm honestly not sure. Are you going to answer my question?"

"I haven't decided yet. Date me."


"I'm not actually expecting you to put out, darling --"


"Tim. Conversation. Meals. Films...?"

"Shows? Fairs? Opera?"

Lex raises an eyebrow.

"Hn. No, you're right, I'm not the slightest bit interested in any of that. I..." Tim leans back and crosses his legs again.

"Why are you scarred?"

Tim looks at him from under his lashes. "When I was younger, I liked using what I learned in the dojo on assorted young men of low character."

Low -- "Date me."

Tim turns his foot to the right --

To the left --

"Convince me."

Oh, darling -- I believe I already have. Still -- "I successfully cloned him. The ubermensch, that is."

Tim blinks. "I -- wouldn't call Bizarro a *success* --"

"Nor would I. Superboy is a clone of the ubermensch... with a certain amount of human DNA to stabilize the process."

"I suppose that would explain the similarities -- ah. *Which* human's DNA?"

Lex raises an eyebrow. "That's the question you want to ask about this?"

Tim's expression twists. "It's *one* of the questions I want to ask."

"All right. My own."

If anything, Tim looks even more *sour* --

And Lex raises an eyebrow.

"You're honestly --" Tim sighs and uncrosses and recrosses his legs. Irritably.

Which is impressive, and says a great deal about just how experienced Tim is with Western conceptions of feminine behavior. His mother --

Lex wishes he *had* irritated Janet Drake now, and that -- is a distinctly odd wish to have. Still --

"Ask, Tim."

"You're not making me feel especially eager to be your child, Lex."

What -- oh. Lex frowns. "The clone isn't --"

"Your *son*? He has your *DNA*. You *created* him."

"He has the ubermensch's DNA --"

"Yes, because *you* played mix-and-match in some secret lab somewhere --"

"Cadmus, to be exact --"

And Tim waves a hand. Irritably. "Have you even had a *conversation* with the boy?"

"He's not --" Lex frowns. "He's a *clone*, Tim."

"And...? All signs point to a degree of sentience and emotional activity *entirely* commensurate with the *vast* majority of humans -- and otherwise -- on this planet," Tim says, and narrows his eyes. "Not that you'd know all that much about that sort of thing."

"You -- are, by far, the most *bracing* teenager I've ever met --"

"I'm just going to get more so, Lex. Honestly, what were you *thinking*?"

"That the world needed *insurance* --"

"In case you managed to murder his other father."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "Or some *other* supervillain did --"

"Has it occurred to you that *both* of them are needed? I mean, I was assuming you *did* pay attention to world events every now and again."

"And now I know where your prejudices lie."

Tim -- smiles again.

Lex's cock thickens for it like the mindlessly needy idiot it is. "Are you going to deny it?"

"O, the scandal. I prefer natural disasters to be as minor as possible and alien invasions to be as *abortive* as possible. I'm the dirtiest boy on earth. O. O."

"Yes, but would you *fuck* him?"

"Superboy...?" Tim makes a show of considering it. "He *is* rather attractive. Now that I consider it, he has your eyes."

"Oh -- please."

Another smile -- "They're very nice eyes. He also lacks Superman's jaw, which is good, as *only* Superman can pull that off --"

"The tight *clothes*, Tim. Do they help? Hinder?"

Left goes the foot --

Right --

"It would certainly make it annoying to try to shove my *hand* in there --"


"Yes, Lex?"

Lex -- considers. And blinks. And -- "You're a virgin."


"That's it? 'Yes?'"

"I'm not embarrassed by it, Lex. Sex can wait."

"For *what*?"

"Someone I want to make love *with*."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "That's an incredibly mature answer."

"Thank you."

"It was also bullshit."

Blush --

"For future reference, a *less* saturated shade of blush would work better at disguising your *natural* blushes."

"Ah -- thank you --"

"Are you *afraid* of sex?"

"Are you afraid of Superman?"

"Terrified beyond the telling of it. If he ever has a bad day, he could take a large fraction of the planet with him. Answer --"

"Do you respond to all your fears with violence?"

"Generally --"

"I think it's time for me to go home," Tim says, and stands, straightening his corset again.

"Wait --"


"Let me see you again. Please."

Tim narrows his eyes, turning away --

Lex stands and opens his hand --

"I'm not Hope."

"No, you're not. You are, however, precisely as fascinating and attractive as she is."

Tim looks at him from under his lashes. "I'm flattered. And... yes, I'll see you again. I have more questions."

"You could ask them now --"

"No, thank you. Call me. I know you have my number," and Tim stalks his way to the elevators just as if his feet aren't killing him --

"Goodnight, Tim."

"And to you," he says, and doesn't look back. That --


Lex walks to the master bedroom, strips down to his boxer-briefs --

Pauses --

No, he's not going to fuck Mercy while thinking about Tim. That would be weak. Boxer briefs stay on. He punches the subcutaneous 'trigger' that will call Hope to him, instead, and then lies down on the duvet.

Hope joins him in moments. "Shall I remove some of my clothing."

"Yes, do."

Hope begins to strip out of her bone-colored linen suit immediately, and --

Yes, she *is* wearing cotton and spandex underwear. Hm. "Darling, was I *projecting* a need for cuddle?"

"Yes, Lex," she says, sitting on the side of the bed before turning and lying beside him. As always, there's a pause --

A *thoughtful* pause --

And then she curls up beside him, pressing close and resting one hand on his abdomen. She rests her head on his bicep.

Lex sighs -- and relaxes.

Hope hums on the precise note that most reminds Lex of his mother. For the precise length of time.

"Thank you, darling."

"You're welcome. Do you like him."

"Oh, yes. Far too much."

"Will you make him yours."

Lex opens his mouth -- and frowns.

Hope begins to stroke him as if he's a skittish *cat* --

She has a point. "I'm going to try."


"He's a tougher nut, as it were, than he has *any* right to be, darling. Although... hm. I suppose it's *possible* that his mother was supportive in... some way, shape, or form."

"You believe he was abused."

"No, darling, I *know* he was abused. That woman was -- well. She almost certainly didn't have teeth in her vagina, and that's rather a shame. Some women *deserve* that sort of thing, after all."

"I believe that was sexist, Lex."

Lex sighs -- "Yes, you're right, it was. I'm sorry."

Hope gives her impression of a disapproving hum. It --

"That would be more effective if you paused in the stroke and curled your fingernails against my skin."

Hope does so --

"Yes, like that."

"Yes, Lex. Thank you, Lex." And she begins petting him again.

"You're entirely welcome. What are your observations?"

"He is a better martial artist than he pretends to be."

"Yes, I thought so, too. Though there's something to be said for his desire to move *correctly* in that ensemble."

"It would have been possible for him to injure you."

Lex blinks. "Really."

"I believe he chose those clothes in part for his ability to fight in them."

"That *would* explain why such an otherwise cautious and intelligent boy was walking around like that in the middle of the night."


"He was a black belt in karate and a brown belt in judo when he quit at age thirteen."

"I believe you should ask him why he quit."

"Absolutely. And I *will* be watching him closely when he answers."

"I believe." Hope turns her face against Lex's arm to let him feel her frown.

"Go on, Hope. It's all right."

"I believe he is capable of lying with ease."

"To me...?"


"To you?"

"I... don't know."

Lex nods and considers -- "That could help explain *why* I'm so attracted to him. Still, you're almost certainly far more of a sociopath than he is."

"Yes, Lex. How long will we be staying in Gotham, Lex."

"Is it getting to you, too, darling?"

Hope presses another frown to his arm. "Yes, Lex."

"You're getting quite good at those."

"Thank you, Lex."

"I... am not sure how long we'll be staying. With luck, I'll be able to talk Tim into coming back to Metropolis with us *soon* -- if only for a visit."

"Did you believe that he would be an 'easier mark.'"

"Somewhat. I didn't expect him to agree to be my son right away. I *did* expect to be able to entice him to start negotiating with me."

"You do not believe you did so."

"We've begun negotiating to be lovers. A boy like Tim... hm. A moment, please."

"Yes, Lex."

Tim Drake as a lover. He would... what?

He *was* lying about looking for someone with whom to make love -- he's either found that person or those people already or he *doesn't* give that much of a fuck -- but...

Virgins tend to behave in predictable patterns. It's not that Lex thinks the boy will become clingy -- though it's possible that he'd find a way to make that interesting, as well -- but...


*Would* it be a way to get DI? Would that even be --

Well, it would be *wildly* disappointing, which is proof that Lex didn't actually need about his essential masochism. Lex scowls.

Hope strokes him more firmly.

Perhaps Tim won't be quite that easy. He's attracted to Lex and Lex had made him laugh multiple times -- and convinced him to *eat* more -- but he'd still walked out without a backward glance. An orgasm or two in company wouldn't necessarily --

Lex realizes that he's begun convincing himself that he won't get what he wants.

What he's *in* this godawful hell-pit of a city for --

Hope is going to be bruising him in a moment.

Lex sighs.

And breathes deeply.

And -- "More data needed, Hope."

"Yes, Lex. I believe you should sleep, Lex."

"Absolutely. Once I'm out, please do go cuddle Mercy for at least twenty minutes. And then pick one of my enemies for Prudence to assassinate."

"Yes, Lex. Do you have any preferences, Lex."

Lex sighs again and closes his eyes. "No vigilantes. Other than that... surprise me."

"Yes, Lex. Goodnight, Lex."


Bruce takes his first deep breath in nearly ninety minutes once Tim's tracers show movement away from the Chilton. Tim is, at this point, more than skilled enough to deal with *most* of the things Luthor's bodyguards might throw at him, but... there are questions. Tim is in no way dressed for stealth. He rarely is, these days --

Bruce frowns at his hands, which are bare and free of color and shine now in the absence of the Batman, Brucie, or Matches. He'd wanted...

He'd wanted to keep Luthor's presence from Tim, ostensibly to continue providing him with only the assignments he would enjoy the most, but... it's possible that he had had other reasons.

*Likely* in the face of the amount of time Bruce has spent wallowing in his own needs --

His own *greed* --

Oracle's mask takes over five of the six monitors Bruce has on. The sixth monitor is a view of her legs, bare save for the cybernetic partial sheaths which allow her to walk and run nearly normally... and which tend to move around and around her legs, hips, and lower back in disturbingly random patterns.

Kryptonian technology will never be especially comforting, and --

"Yes, Oracle?"

The masks show a large number of pointed teeth.

The sheaths move decidedly belligerently --

"Stop brooding." The scrambler, as ever, turns Barbara's perfectly smooth and warm voice into something which could set a deaf man's teeth on edge.

"I --"

"I know you're brooding. Stop it."


The sheaths bare her pale and lovely right calf. Specifically, the part of it with a large bruise.

A bruise the size and shape of his mouth. "I... may I see you?"

"Are you going to stop brooding?"

The tonal shifts of questions, via the scrambler, tend to make Bruce feel as though his ears are bleeding into his sinuses. She knows this perfectly well, and so...

What is he doing?

What could he *possibly* be thinking, allowing himself --

Dick is his *son*. Barbara is --

He'd always wanted them to have each *other*. He --

Tim's father is dead because he was too *slow*. His mother had died for the same reason, and hadn't he been thinking of Tim then? Hadn't he been *filling* himself with those thoughts, those --

"Bruce. I'm about to electrocute you," she says in her own voice.

"I -- hm. It's only --"

Barbara switches off all of his monitors save for the largest one, which fills with her beautiful face. Her hair is wound into a loose chignon, and she's wearing a tight MCU t-shirt. She is not wearing a brassiere --

Bruce looks *up* --

"You know, Bruce, if you weren't adorable we'd have to beat you to death."

"I --"

"And then dump you in a Lazarus Pit."

"Barbara --"

"And then beat you to death *again*. I -- what *is* it?"

"I'm worried about -- Tim."

She frowns, lines biting deep on her clear, blameless forehead. "And somehow beating yourself up for being in a relationship with Dick and me was helping with that? I mean, we're *all* worried about Tim, Bruce."

Bruce nods and stares at his hands again -- no. He looks up. "Barbara... I. I can't help but feel as though I'm allowing myself --"

"Love? Happiness? *Fantastic* sex?"

"Obsession. Greed. Weakness --" Bruce grunts and *jerks* -- "Hm. When did you booby-trap my chair?"

"You were busy sucking Dick off on the mats --"

"You're rather illustrating my point --"

"You're *supposed* to trust me too much, Bruce. I'm *Oracle*."

Bruce raises an eyebrow.

Barbara crosses her arms under her soft, heavy breasts and raises her own.

"Hm. You do realize what I'm thinking about."

Barbara glares at him.

Bruce raises his other eyebrow --

And Barbara softens visibly, reaching out toward her camera.

Bruce reaches toward his own. "I... there was much I might have questioned -- and come to understand -- had I not buried myself in Jason."

"Oh -- Bruce." Barbara sighs and turns away --

"Please. Please, your eyes --"

And Barbara looks at him again. "Bruce, I love you. I've loved you since I was a *teenager*. I loved Jay, too... but no one could have loved him the way you did. And no one could have loved you the way *he* did."

Bruce swallows. "Yes. Yes, I --"

"You needed each other. Like *oxygen*. I -- tell me you know that?"

"I could've -- I *should* have --"

"Let him come up for *non*-penis-scented air? Maybe. But you were there, Bruce. You saw the bodies, plural. You saw the cords melted into that woman's *flesh*."

"Barbara --"

"How would you have stopped him from going into that warehouse, Bruce? How would any of us have stopped *any* of us from going in there?"

The smell.

The smell never *fades* from memory, and telling himself that he was smelling Sheila Haywood's burnt flesh instead of Jason's --

*Jay* --

"It's easier to blame yourself sometimes, Bruce. I know that. We *all* know that --"

"It's -- it's *rational* --"

"It isn't, though," Barbara says, and rolls her chair closer to her desk, resting her chin on her fists. "Bruce... one day it's going to be the end for all of us. Maybe there'll be something we can do to prevent it... but maybe there won't be. There wasn't anything you could've done with Jay in Ethiopia but what you *did* do. You know that."

Bruce clenches his hands into fists. "I shouldn't be making you have this conversation --"

"You didn't let Dick have it with you. Or Tim. Or *Cass*. Or even *Steph* -- and God knows *she* could use it after what went down with that pathetic waste of skin she called a father."

Bruce frowns. "Barbara."

"It's time, Bruce. It's -- Sheila Haywood was no good, but she was his mother. He *had* to save her -- or try to."

Bruce closes his eyes --

"*No*, Bruce --"

"It's only..." No, he can open his eyes again. He can *face* her -- "I've thought. I've thought about what I might've done to keep him from needing to search for his true mother."

Barbara frowns. "You mean... ways you could've wrapped him up with yourself even *more*?"

"Or -- if I had worked harder to make him feel as though he could be more than an auxiliary member of the Titans --"

"Bruce, Jay told *me* that he didn't *want* to be a Titan!"

"Did he..." Bruce rests his hands on the console. "Did he mention... discomfort with Dick?"

Barbara's nostrils flare. "All right, yeah, you can blame yourself for that. You firing Dick... the *way* you fired Dick --"

"Yes. Yes, I... I allowed myself to forget that actions often have long-lasting consequences."

Barbara swallows. "They got good after a while, though, Bruce. I... I have footage you might not have seen."

Bruce inhales sharply. "Dick and Jay... together?"

She smiles ruefully. "Yeah, I... salvaged from the old tower. Specifically, from Vic Stone's brain."

There is --

The hot prickle in his sinuses is familiar, painful and --

"Come over tomorrow, Bruce."

"I -- Dick might not be able to --"

"Just us. Okay?"

Bruce nods and swallows around acid. He can do nothing less, and nothing more.

"Good. Anyway... anyway. I can't say if there was something you could've done -- or not done -- that would've kept Jason in Gotham four and a half years ago. I just don't know, Bruce. But... we *are* talking about his mother."

"He was never... hm."

"Yeah, you *can't* actually finish that sentence. He was just as mother-obsessed as *you* are. As *Tim* is."

"Tim almost never speaks about his mother --"

Barbara looks at him.

Bruce laughs somewhat painfully. "No, he does not truly have to."

Barbara swings her legs up onto her desk again and scratches idly at the silver-white patterning on the sheath creeping up her left thigh. "Speaking of overdue conversations...?"

Bruce shakes his head. "I remain convinced that Stephanie is our best hope for getting Tim to speak about his grief in more than the vaguest, shallowest terms."

Barbara sighs. "Considering the fact that she and Dick are the only people who *touch* him on a regular basis..."


"Of course, it's Tim we're talking about. He's *just* crazy enough to think that he's already leaning on them some variety of too much."

Bruce winces. "I wish... I wish I had been a better man while I was training him. A more capable man."

Barbara smiles wryly. "The important thing is that you've since *realized* that hugs are better when the Batsuit is off."

"Yes --"



"Very, very --" Barbara snickers and jolts him again.

Bruce grunts. "Barbara."

"You *earned* that, you idiot!"

"I -- hm."

Barbara snickers more and then turns to the side -- "Ooh, incoming excitingly-dressed Boy Wonder and Gentleman's Gentleman Wonder. Ah... has Tim...?"

Bruce smiles ruefully. "He hasn't spoken about that, either."

"So you're just going to keep making him gaffs and hoping?"


"Hoping, of course, for *conversation*."

Bruce smiles and looks down --

"Ooh, do tell."

"It's only..."


Bruce laughs and looks up again. "There was a time when I knew, with perfect surety, that Tim would rather converse with me than nearly anyone else."

"Oh -- Bruce. He *loves* you."

"And I have hurt him... too many times. No, I will not pressure him in any way, Barbara."

"Then pressure *Steph*."

"I will not use her --" This jolt is rather stronger than the other two were. Bruce feels... somewhat scrambled.

And he bit his tongue.

And his hair is standing up. "Ah... you feel that it wouldn't be use?"

"Got it in one, boss-man."

Bruce hums. "Noted. I will speak to her. For now, however, I will bid you goodnight."

"*Do* stand near a camera when you're sniffing his corset."

Bruce coughs -- "Barbara --"

"For me...?" Her smile is... rapacious.

Bruce stands and raises an eyebrow. "Perhaps I should be pressuring you."

"Only if I'm allowed to pierce him again. That was more fun than should be *remotely* legal. Hmm. Maybe I should pull *that* footage for you, too."

Bruce... doesn't grunt.

"And Dick owes me a footrub. You giant, perverted ass."

"Barbara --"

"Tell him, Bruce. See what happens."

"Barbara, your beauty staggers me --"

"Yes, you've *mentioned*," she says, and her expression is distinctly annoyed. "You know what? Stagger around to *everyone* in that id of yours sometime, please."

"That would be... somewhat impractical."

Barbara snorts. "Okay, so now I know I'll be *interrogating* you tomorrow," and she shakes her head. "Well, I'd planned to train you in the art of talking dirty anyway."

("B, come on --"


"Just say it, say what you *want*!"

"To touch you. To... I want to taste you..."

"More, c'mon, *please* -- *nnh* -- okay, yeah, you can suck me off, Jesus fuck Jesus *Jesus* your *mouth* --")


Bruce raises a hand, but can't quite open his eyes. "A happy memory, Barbara. I assure you."

She sighs. "*One* day you'll manage to look happy without driving everyone around you to *despair*, Bruce."

"Hn." And Tim... sashays to stand next to him. "Didn't know you'd taken up pie-eyed optimism, Oracle."

"And I didn't know you'd taken up breakfasting with supervillains, Boy Wonder."

"Well. He did pay," and Tim turns to raise an eyebrow at him, cocking his head to the side. "*Are* you all right, Bruce?"

Bruce reaches out to touch Tim's cheek -- no. He cups Tim's shoulder, instead. "Barbara and I were talking about Jason. I am... well."

"Those two sentences really don't belong in the same *novel*, Bruce -- much less the same paragraph."

Bruce hums and squeezes Tim's shoulder. "Just the same," he says, and turns back to Barbara. "When shall I arrive tomorrow, Barbara?"

"An hour after you finish lunch. I wouldn't want you to get a cramp."

"As you say."

"Oracle... hmm. Boy Wonder?"

Tim looks up from the monitor he always chooses for his reports -- "Yes, Oracle?"

"Bruce is coming over to watch some footage --"

"Is *that* what the kids are calling it these days, Oracle?"

Oracle shows her teeth. "You could watch, too, you know."

Tim blinks rapidly -- but only for a moment before he shakes his head and offers a rueful smile. An *aloof* smile -- "Thank you, Barbara, but no. I believe I'm going to have a date tomorrow afternoon."

Barbara's sigh is warm and forgiving. "All right, Tim. *Do* keep it in mind. You've been missed."

Tim raises an eyebrow -- and then nods. "I'll come soon."

"You do that. Goodnight, boys. Oracle out."

The monitors are his own again, and --

He'd like, very much, not to have to say this: "Stephanie has a great deal of work to do on the thirteenth kata --"

"Before she's ready to use it on the street, yes, I know. The date's with Luthor."

Bruce blinks. "Your use of deadpan is improving by the hour."

"Thank you, but..." Tim sighs and hops onto the console, crossing his legs at the knee.

Bruce does not touch his bare thigh. He -- he sits down. "Luthor picked you up on your way out of the club."

"Mm-hm. In a tanzanite limousine, yet. He has, apparently, been having me followed for the past three weeks. He does *not* seem to know the secret."

Bruce steeples his fingers. "And... his desires?"

"You might have mentioned that he was your ex, Bruce."

Bruce blinks once more -- but. "That was a different life. He is... not the same as he was then."

Tim nods. "No, I imagine not. My feet feel like the original little mermaid's."

"Allow me --"

"No, no, it's fine. At this point, the pain is keeping me focused. As for what he wants... well... me."

"You... seduced Lex Luthor."

"Not on *purpose*," Tim says, and his voice has the irritated snap which tends to mean that Tim would rather be thinking than speaking. That he'd rather be... alone.

Not with him. Still --"I'm going to need --"

"More detail, yes, I..." Tim frowns distantly. "He opened with an offer to adopt me. I would receive a goodly handful of keys to the kingdom, he would get to do with DI whatever he saw fit -- this seems to boil down to rapid and rampant expansion. He mentioned wanting to step on Lucius' toes."

Bruce nods and continues not to touch Tim's thigh, which has been shaved close and well-moisturized with the cream Bruce had designed for Tim after Tim had -- obliquely and subtly -- confessed to his love for certain undercover assignments. The scents of vanilla and musk have faded over the course of the night, but --

This close --

"Are you thinking about him, Bruce?"

"No," Bruce says, entirely honestly. "At what point did he begin attempting to seduce you sexually?"

"I noticed his attraction not long after I got into the limo. It... well, the questions we were asking each other -- we set up something like a quid pro quo -- took that sort of turn, as I was doing my best not to look like a vigilante on the interrogation beat."

"Randomizing questions is sound technique. Well done."

Tim waves a hand --

"Will you keep the nail polish on?"

"Hmm? No, I don't think so. It's not really suited for the daylight Robining I have planned for myself. Why?"

You're beautiful, I love you, please talk to me -- "A moment's idle curiosity."

Tim looks at him from under his lashes. "Really, Bruce...? Will I, by any chance, find *another* ensemble which would work well with this color in my closet...?"

Only Tim and himself have disguise closets of their own. The rest of the family make do with a single large armoire -- and Bruce spreads his hands. "The future is not ours to see," he intones as Oracle would, and lets a smile into his eyes.

And Tim --

His smile is soft, warm, *grateful* --

"Thank you, Bruce. For everything."

Bruce -- doesn't swallow. He doesn't -- he cups Tim's knee and squeezes, just for a moment. "Anything, at any time."

"Within *reason*, of course."

"I don't --" Want that caveat. "Yes, within reason."

Tim's expression is suspicious --

Bruce moves his hand and pulls himself into the pose he knows Tim thinks of as 'listening with interest while calmly at rest.'

He'd watched the footage of Tim discussing those poses with Stephanie. He --

"Tell me more."

"Well, he wants to dress me, and feed me, and perform fellatio on me -- though that last was more of a broad hint than a direct request. He wanted me to stay with him *tonight*. He wants me to allow him to adopt me while I'm also working for him and allowing him to -- presumably -- plow me senseless --"

"Plow --" Bruce allows himself to look somewhat pained.

"You do realize I'm going to require details about your teenaged conquests, don't you?"

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "*Were* you planning to have sex with him?"

"Absolutely *not*. But I think it would be useful for future interrogations. I *took* the upper hand tonight, and I have every intention of keeping it." Tim shows his teeth. "He *likes* that sort of thing, Bruce."

("Look, I know it's your natural inclination to sit silently while *staring*, Bruce, but I'm really going to have to insist on signs of visible life."

"We can... speak?"

"*Yes*. Tell me something you haven't already told me. It *doesn't* have to be true."

"But --"

"A *starting* place, darling. Because it's all well and good to suck each other off until we're grunting like football players and making ridiculous faces --"

"I did rather enjoy that --"

"I *promise* it's better when there's conversation, *too*."

"Hm. All right, Lex...")

Bruce -- shivers.


"There wasn't much in the way of intellectual stimulation at Exeter. Socially or academically. There... without Harvey and, eventually, Lex, I would have... starved emotionally. Personally." Bruce massages a bruise on his thigh --

"Oh, I missed that one. Would you like --"

Bruce smiles, and hopes the one in his eyes isn't much different. "I'm all right, Tim. This is more nervous habit than therapy." And I would not be able to keep from touching you other ways. "I'm afraid that I've deliberately walled myself away from many of those memories... in any event, Lex is, in fact, a genius."

"So are you. So is -- Dent."

And Bruce realizes that he's been using their first names --

*Both* of them --

"We could speak about this at another --"

"No, Tim. I am well. Language is escaping me to a certain extent, but... I am well."

Tim smiles ruefully. "We spoke about Dent."

("Ah, big guy, if anyone can find the good in someone, it's you."

"Harv --"

"Just don't -- I can't see that. I can't."

"I'll never. I'll never bring him to our room --"

"Bruce... you know why I said no to you, right? You... you understand?"

"Yes, Harv. I wish... I wish for many things. But none more than your happiness.")

And Harvey had gasped, muttered something unintelligible --

Harvey had hugged him, and kissed his cheek hard, and promised love, love forever, friendship and *brotherhood* --

And Bruce had promised the very same things, and tried not to lose himself to the feel of Harvey's beautiful body against his own --

And Tim has turned away from him, and is holding himself still and steady and *clear* --

"I'm sorry, Tim."

"No, Bruce, I... it's abundantly clear to me that I've been using these delightful boots to tramp through your late-adolescent *trauma* -- "

"You were doing what you have been trained to do --"

"And *you* weren't feeling especially Batful after that conversation with Barbara."

Bruce blinks. "Batful...?"

Tim narrows his eyes in a smile. "It's the technical term for those times when you're *stoic* and *grim* and *machine-like* in your search -- pardon me, your *quest* -- for all that is good and pure and... justice-y."

Bruce hums. "I see. Just the same... I promise I won't fall head-first into the screaming vortex of my adolescent memories again."


"Not for at least the next five minutes."

*Tim* hums, and it's enough to make something in Bruce soar, *ache* --

"*Anyway*. He found me *tonight* because he was having Roselawn watched. He had *someone* follow me onto the subway, and then the whole crowd of Luthor-creatures crashed against the rocky shore of Club G's bouncer T-Rod with no joy for any one of them. Luthor wants to know if I can dance. *Badly*."

"The longer you tease him, the longer you'll hold his interest."

"Yes, that does seem to be the case. Especially with me *not* teasing him about *everything*."

Bruce nods his approval. "What did he give you?"

"He admitted to being a supervillain -- sometimes. He admitted having a hand in Kon-El's creation --"

"How *much* of one, Tim...?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "That information goes to the Titans first, Bruce," Tim says, and Bruce knows that *Tim* knows... that Bruce knows what that means.

Some secrets are held only with politesse, and the agreement to disagree. Just the same -- "I will never stand between you and Kon-El, Tim. Not anymore."

Tim raises an eyebrow -- and then nods. "All right. He... stroked my cheek."

Bruce hasn't done that since he'd foolishly *gassed* Tim in that alley at the height of his paranoia and rage.

Bruce hasn't done that with bare fingers, at all.

Bruce -- wants. "And when you stopped him?"

"He stepped back, and promised not to do it again. I believe... well. He also promised that, were I to date him, he would *not* expect sexual favors. I've begun to wonder if he wants a friend."

("Yes, but darling, *my* methods of social control are more *fun*."

"Lex. *I* have more friends than you do."

"I -- hm. Hm."

"Yes, Lex?"

"Let's go back to fucking.")

"I'm sorry --"

Tim waves a hand. "You were only staring into the bleak nothingness of your thoughts for a moment. Conclusions?"

"I have been lucky enough to be able to surround myself with brilliant, fascinating people who only rarely think about murdering me in my sleep --"

Tim coughs into his fist. "Ah --"

"Luthor... has not. Consider becoming somewhat *less* attractive to him. I'm perfectly willing to bring the family to Metropolis to rescue you from whatever lead-lined dungeon he brings you to... but."

"Yes, it *would* be a terrible inconvenience. And probably hell on my nails, too."

You look beautiful tonight.

I want to kiss you.

I want you to give me your *pain* -- "As you say. When *is* your next... date?"

Tim uncrosses and recrosses his legs. "I'm fairly certain he'll call me tomorrow. *Today*. Then... we'll play it by ear. How armed do you think I should be for our dates? Mercy sussed out the knives in the boots *quite* quickly."

"Problematic... but also not. You've given Tim Drake a reputation for being armed. He also presumably noted your scars and your martial arts training...?"

"Yes. I told him about Tim Drake's history of working out his issues through semi-random violence against the low of mien."

Bruce coughs. "Does Tim Drake have *many* such issues?"

"Oh -- oodles, to quote the Great Man himself. I'm thinking... one of my fellow students took a somewhat perverse liking to me when I was thirteen."


"He -- no. *She* taught me all sorts of useful things about knives and other things long after I'd left the dojo."

"Her name...?"

Tim smiles mysteriously. And obnoxiously.

"Very good." Beautiful -- no. "Did you do anything about her perversions?"

"Of course not. Tim Drake is *very* protective of his virginity, Bruce."

As protective as Tim, himself -- but he cannot ask that question. He --

There is nothing else. Bruce nods and stands. "You're sanctioned. If you can get Luthor to work against the ban on gay marriage --"

"I get a cookie?"

"Haaa. Tiger, you'll get the whole *box*."

Tim makes the expected moue, and then slips into the chair to do his reports.

Bruce strokes the air above his shoulder. "Do try to get some rest."

"Mm-hm. Goodnight."

Bruce breathes deep -- leather, sweat, makeup, and *berries* --

Bruce walks upstairs, and further up to the bedrooms, and --

Dick is sleeping in his bed.

Clark is *reading* in his bed -- and holding a finger to his lips before tucking the bookmark in and setting the book on the bedside table.

Bruce crosses his arms over his chest.

Clark looks *stricken* --

And then they simply are in the hallway with Bruce's bedroom door closed. "Clark --"

"Before you *fuss* at me, you should know that Dick would be *upset* if you didn't let him be here for you tonight."

"Clark, I'm *fine*."

Clark looks at him.

Bruce raises an eyebrow.

Clark *looks* at him --

And Bruce sighs. "All right. But he clearly needs his rest --"

"And so do you. In his *arms*. The way you always should've been. Please?"

Bruce closes his eyes  --

"Beloved friend, your dead are too much with you tonight. Please allow us to give you *life*."

Bruce swallows. "Jason. Jason tried many, many times to get me to admit to my feelings for Dick. I'd promised to never lie to him --"

"You *broke* that promise?"

"No, I -- or."

("It -- he was so young --"

"So was *I* --"

"Not. Not like that, Jay."

"Uh. Okay, *fine*. He's not that young *now*.")

And Bruce had smiled wryly and with *great* pain --


"Now... he wants little enough to do with me.")

And Clark is rubbing Bruce's shoulders --

Leaning *in* --

"Please tell me?"

Bruce takes a deep breath and nods. "I spoke *around* the truth. And I used the truth to lie. He... Jay could always tell that I was doing it. He knew of my desires."

Clark nods. "He was a very wise young man."

"Older -- older than --" But he had been so light in Bruce's arms, so --

His beautiful body had been so *broken* --

Bruce swallows and shudders --

And Clark pulls him into his arms. "Beloved friend, beautiful companion --"

Bruce -- groans. He can't stop himself. He can't --

And, abruptly, Dick is hugging him from the back. He --

Bruce can smell his interrupted *rest* --

He --

Bruce isn't supposed to --

He's supposed to be *stronger* than this, more --

Four years. Four years, and there has been pleasure and comfort. There has been light and life. There has been *family* --

And Jason should have shared in all of it. Every -- every *moment* --

For that.

For that, he can let himself weep. It's been -- there are never enough tears for such a thing. Such an *obscenity* --!

Clark strokes him firmly.

Dick murmurs comfort and love and kisses Bruce's throat, and cheek --

Dick was a *friend* to Jason, as much of one as Bruce's idiocies and *jealousies* allowed --

"A moment," Bruce says, and pushes Clark away from him --

Clark kisses the flesh beneath Bruce's eyes before stepping back. "Yes, Bruce?"

Another tear rolls down Bruce's cheek -- he ignores it in favor of reaching down to move Dick's hand from his waist. To -- to hold it, and squeeze it --

Dick *shivers* and presses closer --

And Clark smiles brightly. "Yes, I see," he says, and cups Bruce's face. "Do feel free to call me if you need... anything. At all."

Bruce laughs quietly and wipes away yet another tear. "As you say," and he strokes the back of Clark's hand. <<My companion. You have my thanks and allegiance always.>>

<<You are worth and fire, my companion.>> "And... I won't be far."

Bruce inclines his head --

And Clark is gone, leaving only a lingering warmth on Bruce's mouth and cheek.

Dick squeezes his hand. "I always want to hear about Jay, boss."

Bruce nods and swallows once more. "I'm not -- I wish. I wish that I had been strong more often --"

"*Bruce* --"

"Only -- strong enough to share my memories, and thoughts, and dreams."

Dick moves around in front of him, searching him and frowning slightly. His own eyes are damp, and there is a crease in his cheek from the pillow --

And Bruce is... allowed. He kisses Dick there, and uses his free hand to cup the back of his head --

"Oh -- Bruce."

He pushes his fingers into Dick's hair -- shoulder-length now, and as thick and *silky* as it's ever been --

Dick sighs and presses close once more. "Not to kill the mood, but --"

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

Dick shivers once more and squeezes Bruce's hand -- very hard. "Tell me... about making love with him."

Bruce grunts and stiffens --

"I want it. I -- I'll tell you the same --"

"Dick --"

"Let's *go*," and Dick pushes him, *moves* him back into his bedroom --

His overly *crowded* bedroom, and Jay had never minded his parents' armoires being present, but --

Bruce stops and holds Dick still before he can move them onto the bed.

"Bruce --"

"Do you. Do you think I should move into the master suite?"

Dick blinks at him.

"It -- didn't seem to be a non sequitur --"

"Why not?"

Bruce licks his lips -- and laughs quietly, gesturing to his parents' armoires. "Jay... Jay never minded them. I was wondering --"

"I don't mind them, either."

"They -- crowd the room --"

Dick kisses him, hard and brief. "The first half of my life was spent in a *trailer*, Bruce. When you put me in that huge, empty bedroom I *freaked*. Crowded is better."

"All right --"

"Also -- the master suite is incredibly depressing."

"You... it gets a great deal of light --"

"Would you let Alfred open the curtains? Ever?"


Dick grins and pushes gently --

And Bruce lies down on the bed and reaches for Dick, takes his hand, his body, his *weight* -- "When you were a boy, you would... launch yourself at me."

Dick hums and -- wriggles. "Is this where you tell me that secretly you loved it? Because I figured that part out."

Bruce strokes Dick's obliques, gives himself leave to enjoy, to *savor* --

He has left no bruises *there* --

And -- Dick wants him to speak. Dick has *always* wanted -- and he can give no less. "I... miss it."

Dick raises his eyebrows. "It might be a little tricky to make that work *now*, boss."

"I'd still like for you to try."

Dick bites his lip. "I -- you're a crazy person."

"I'd had my suspicions."

"I'm an even *crazier* person, though --"

"Because you love me?"

Dick grins, narrowing his eyes. "*Loving* crazy people is fine --"

"Is it?"

"Yep. Dating them, now... that's a problem."

Bruce hums and cups Dick's face, instead. "I suppose we could simply be... friends with benefits."

Dick snickers. "Okay, tell me this -- did Jay *ever* stop cursing?"

Bruce laughs quietly. "Never. Not -- I believe the longest he went without cursing when we were making love was five minutes."

"Let me guess -- he had your dick in his mouth."

"He would, from time to time, pull back enough to slur fervent curses before swallowing me once more."

Dick snickers and grins, eyes alight --

"Beautiful --"

"And so was he. So --" Dick sighs and shakes his head, spreading his legs over Bruce's. "Kory was *constantly* trying to get Joey to sketch him doing filthy things with us before I loosened up enough to actually *have* that threesome."

Bruce blinks. "I -- did he?"

"Mm-hmm. I -- I'll show you."

"Thank you --"

"More, Bruce. More."

"A kiss?"

Dick sighs and closes his eyes immediately, trusting and open --

Bruce rolls them until he can press Dick down to the bed, until he can make love to his soft, perfect mouth --

"Mmm -- oh --"

Bruce slips his tongue in -- not deeply. A shallow kiss to begin. A *loving* kiss -- and. "Jay loved this kiss. He told me..." Bruce shakes his head and kisses again, again --

Dick hums and teases the tip of Bruce's tongue with his own before pushing him back and raising his eyebrows.

"My love. He told me that it made him happy. *Warm*. He told me that it told *him* that I wanted to... 'stay a while.'"

"God, I -- we kissed for an *hour*, Bruce --"

Bruce moans and kisses Dick's throat, the wing of his collarbone --

"And -- and he was squirming. The panties were *killing* him."

"Did he --"

"He wouldn't let me take him out. He kept *moving* my hand and saying 'just this, please, Big Bird, *this*.'"

Bruce shivers. "He loved you."

"I could see it in his eyes sometimes. A lot of the time. Did he..."

"He spoke around it. Obliquely... though using that term for Jay --"

Dick snickers. "Yeah, he was about as oblique and murky as the *pool*. *After* Alfred's been at it."

"As you say," and Bruce looks at Dick. Looks --

A better man would have, perhaps, looked his *fill* by now. A stronger man --

But Dick raises his eyebrows again --

Purses his soft lips --

He is being ridiculous. "Such beauty in my life. My *world*..."

"*Our* world, too, Bruce," Dick says, reaching up to stroke Bruce's mouth --

"Yes. Yes, I -- I have learned not to be alone --"

"Have you?"

Bruce smiles, and knows it must look pained on his face. "I learn it anew every time you're here."

"Or Babs, or Steph, or Tim, or Cass -- where *is* Cass?"

"Stephanie informed me that Cassandra hasn't decided where she wants to sleep, yet."

"Alfred didn't pick for her?"

"She refused Alfred's choice out of hand. She said it was 'too lonely.'"

Dick frowns. "But -- it's up *here*."


"With all the *other* bedrooms."


"Does she... have you maybe... hm."

Bruce kisses Dick's forehead and cheeks. "Any suggestions you have are welcome."

"Maybe... she wants to *share* a bedroom?"

"The thought had occurred... but whose?"

Dick bites his lip. "Tim is already too tense."


"*Your* bedroom -- okay, that *would* be a lot like my parents' trailer, actually. And -- wait, have you figured out how to tell when she wants to make love with you, yet? I mean... are there signs other than her climbing on you?"

Bruce hums. "Yes. When she points at my groin."

Dick -- giggles. And coughs. And bites his lip again, eyes sparkling -- "Boss."


"I think -- I think you should move the armoires."

"And bring in another bed?"

"Mm-*hm*. I mean -- where is she sleeping *tonight*?"

"I believe she's visiting Stephanie."

Dick sighs. "*That's* all right, then. Batgirl and Robin should *always* be sleeping together."

Bruce raises an eyebrow.

"Hey, I made it work *eventually*. I get -- partial points?"

Bruce hums and licks Dick's suprasternal notch --

Dick gurgles and scratches at Bruce's *scalp* --

"I believe Barbara awards you full marks."

"I *believe* -- uh. Something."

Bruce hums and kisses his way down Dick's chest.

"Oh -- Jay always had *bite* marks on him --"


"His back and his *hips*."

"Yes," Bruce says, and detours to suckle at Dick's left nipple --

"*Mmm* -- uh. He said -- he said you were the only one he'd ever let -- and I'm quoting -- 'do him like that.'"

Bruce shivers and sucks *hard* --

"Oh -- oh, Bruce --"

Bruce nods and strokes down to Dick's right hip --

"How did you not give him *pants* to wear so you could bite those incredible *thighs*?"

("*Robin*. *Wears*. *Fucking*. *Panties*."

"I --"

"Don't you fucking start with me, B."

"Hm. As you say.")

Bruce licks across Dick's chest, circling his right nipple gently, perhaps ticklishly --

Dick shivers and grunts -- "*Tell* me --"

"He was... insistent about the uniform. More so after you gave him your own."

Dick sighs and massages Bruce's shoulders quickly and roughly before stroking, marking him out -- "He had to grow out of that thing in *seconds* --"

"An eyeblink. He --"

"He looked like he was going to be *your* size --"

"Close... perhaps..." Bruce shakes his head and moves to make love to Dick's navel --

"Oh -- oh, God, I miss him so *much*, Bruce --"

"Yes --"

"Just -- I think..."

Bruce closes his eyes and nuzzles -- no. He bites a path along Dick's abdominal hair --

"Oh -- *fuck*. Harder --"

Bruce growls and does it --

"*Tim* -- ah. I didn't mean to -- hm."

Bruce pauses and looks up.

Dick licks his lips. "Tim so wouldn't be a virgin if Jay were here. I mean -- you have to give me that."

Bruce closes his eyes and smiles --

"I can't *believe* you already had that fantasy without *telling* me! I mean -- Babs told me. And -- "

Bruce goes back to biting Dick's abdomen --

"Also -- also, you kinda have to tell Tim that you want in his pants, too."

Bruce pauses again. "I would be shocked if he didn't know."

"Yes, but he doesn't *know* know. Know. Uh. Were you aware that you were staring at my dick? Glaring, you might say."

"Yes. It's a very beautiful penis."

"Are you *angry* with it?"


Dick slaps the side of Bruce's head. "Then stop *looking* at it like that!"

Bruce hums and closes his eyes --

"No, no, I want the other looks!"

Bruce opens his eyes and raises an eyebrow --

"All right, now you look like my dick is *surprising* you."

"I remain shocked by how well it responds to me."

Dick giggles and slaps him again --

"Jay... he would do that much more firmly."

"Yes, but I don't *want* to give you a black eye."

"I deserve -- so much worse."

"*Bruce* --"

"For the lies. The *years* of lies --" Bruce shakes his head. "I can never ask you for forgiveness --"

"No, you *can't*, but I can forgive you *anyway* -- I knew I was too young for you --"

"Dick --"

"I knew --" Dick frowns. "Even then. Even *that* day. Even when my mouth pressed to yours -- did you feel me shaking?"

Bruce swallows. "Yes."

"I knew what you were going to say. I knew -- you'd want to be a *good* man."

"I *wanted* you --"

Dick smiles wryly. "And I knew that, too. Inside."

Bruce -- grips Dick's hips. He can't -- he *has* to --

"Oh -- did you want me to shake for you again, boss?"

"*Dick* --"

"You know it's -- not that hard," he says, and *tries* to arch, to twist --

"Please --"

"Okay, no, it's *very* hard," and Dick laughs and sits up on his elbows. "Tell me. Tell me more?"

"I was so *lonely* without you --"

"You *said* that --"

"Even. Even with Jay. Even in my happiness with Jay."

Dick parts his lips and swallows. "Even --"


"And now, boss? When -- what happens when I have Clark fly me back -- to the 'haven?"

"Your. Your home --"

"What *happens*?"

Bruce winces -- but he has promised to always give of himself, to be *honest* -- "I have. I have always wanted you near. Needed you near."

Dick groans and *claws* at Bruce's scalp --

"Dick --"

"What do you *want*?"

"You. This -- every moment --"

"Right *now* --"

"Your pleasure --"

"Then -- fuck." Dick shakes his head. "Do what you want. Do -- *exactly* what you want --"

"Dick, I must --"

"You'll please me, Bruce. You'll -- I need to *feel* you!"

Bruce groans and kisses the shaft of Dick's penis --

Kisses it over and over again --

"Oh -- oh, Bruce --"

"I love you. I've always --"

"I'm yours --"

"*Dick* --"

"Ooh, that sounded like a *scold*."

"You mustn't --"

"Boss. Is talking what you *really* wanna do?"

Bruce pants and -- licks his lips. The taste of Dick --

His sweat and pre-ejaculate --

And his eyes, the light in his eyes is so sharp, so *hot* --

Bruce groans and swallows Dick --

"*Nnh* -- oh, *Bruce* --"

Bruce groans in his chest and nods, strokes Dick's hips -- no. He grips Dick's hips and moves them, demanding a thrust, a grind --

Dick moans and lets his head fall back --

Allows himself to *be* moved --

And Bruce dreams of telling Dick the fantasies he'd had when Dick was a boy, a beautiful, loving boy --

Flexible and generous, open --

But no more beautiful than he is now. No --

Bruce pulls back and *tries* -- "I *love* you!"

"I know, I know, I can *feel* --"

"I need -- when you were a boy --"

"You *wanted* me --"

"I *ached*. I -- I masturbated myself thinking about your *scent* --"

"My body?"

"So *beautiful*. I --" Bruce shakes his head. "You are -- your beauty is different now. Full. *Complete*."

Dick pants and stares --

"Please, Dick. Please --"

Dick groans and twists his upper body enough to reach into the bedside table and retrieve -- the lubricant Clark had given to him after watching him look at footage of Tim sleeping.

"Dick --"

"This is *faster*. You know --"

"I do. I do," and Bruce swallows and reaches for it --

But Dick shoves himself backward and slicks his own fingers, pushing deep with no hesitation, no -- no *pause* --

"Dick --"

"Ohn -- oh, I need you, I need you --"

"Yes -- *anything* --"

"I *promise* I'll let you just do what you want someday --"

Bruce kisses the top of Dick's foot, a path up his shin --

"Bite *my* thighs -- *fuck* --"

Bruce growls and does it harder -- no, he bites a path --

Several paths --

Dick's sounds lose rhythm, coherence -- no, he must --

Bruce pulls back enough to stare, to *study* the motions of Dick's fingers --

He's using *three* on himself. He's --

"Beautiful, so --"

"*Yours*, Bruce -- and -- and Babs' --" Dick laughs and croons, throwing his head back and pumping his hips --

"I *need* you."

Dick tenses and faces forward again. He looks almost *anguished* and his penis is dark and *slick* --

Bruce laps at the meatus --

"*Ahn* -- oh -- *please* --"

"I need. You must be ready --"

"I *am* --"

"Dick --"

Dick pulls out and shoves and wriggles himself under Bruce again -- "Like this, like --" And he takes hold of Bruce's penis --

"*Dick* --"

"*In* me --" And once again there is no pause, no --

Not even at the maddening brush of his anus against the head of Bruce's penis --

Not -- he *does* pause when Bruce is halfway in --

"I -- Dick?"

Dick shudders and squeezes his eyes shut, shaking his head --

"Is it -- should I pull --"

"*No*! Just -- I need to feel you needing me, I need -- oh, fuck, Bruce --"

"I know -- I think I know --" Bruce swallows and pulls out *slowly* -- and then shoves in as hard as he would if Jason had demanded it, if he'd demanded it while *punching* him --

And Dick screams -- and locks his thighs around Bruce's *chest* --

"My *love* --"

"Bruce -- Bruce, *yes* --"

Bruce grips Dick's shoulders from the back and holds on, holds *tightly* as he thrusts -- as he *takes* --

No, for Dick this is a gift, just as it had been with Jay --

With Clark and Cassandra --

She had been *silent* save for panted breaths, a surprised squeak followed by a quick and joyous giggle --

Dick could never be silent, Dick --

"When. When you were a boy you would talk to yourself --"

Dick groans and laughs -- "Had to -- talk to *someone* --"

"I *listened* to every word I could --"

"Oh, Bruce --"

"You told the popcorn maker that you were sure I loved it just as much as the other appliances --"

Dick gasps a laugh and *clenches* --

Bruce *grunts* -- "You. You explained to the pommel horse that you were its *friend* --"

"Bruce --"

"Later you told it -- you were rather *obscene* --"

"It's my *bitch* -- just like the rings were Jay's --"

"Love -- oh, love --"

Dick bites his lip --

Dick opens his mouth and pants, gazes up at him with so much --

So *much* --

He must -- if he were to slow *down* --

"Oh -- no, Bruce, don't --"

"Dick --"

"I can't take --" Dick groans and shakes his head. "*Please*!"

"Then --" Bruce swallows and speeds himself again, tries not to --

But he *must* feel. Every *moment* of Dick's heat, Dick's welcome, Dick's *acceptance* --


"I --" Dick groans again and flushes, *pants* -- "I wanted *everything* -- everything I could *get* of you --"

"I -- I stood in your doorway while you slept --"


"I breathed you in and *dreamed* --"

Dick cries out -- "*More* --"

"I imagined you with Jay -- he spoke --"

Dick clenches *hard* --

"*Love* --"

"No, tell, *tell* --"

"Yes, I --" Bruce groans and thrusts harder --

Dick cries out --

Again and again --


"Your *hands*, Dick --"

And Dick immediately grips Bruce's shoulders, rubs at him with his calluses --

The calluses he'd had when he was a *boy* --

Bruce groans and pants, squeezes his eyes shut -- no. He will *speak*. "He *spoke* of your hands. With. With wonder. *Lust*."

Dick gasps --

"He told me. He was -- very tired. Half-asleep. He spun a fantasy of --"

"Oh, Bruce, Bruce -- no, don't stop -- I *feel* --"

"I *love* you --" Bruce kisses Dick hard, *deeply* --

Dick pushes him *away* -- "*Please*!"

"He told me he wanted to suck your fingers. To -- to go *down* on them --"

"*Fuck* --"

"He wanted you to *take* him with them --"

Dick cries out *again* --

"No -- no lubricant save for his -- saliva --"

"I would've, I *would've* --"

"You -- never?"

Dick bites his lip and shakes his head -- "Kory -- only Kory --"

"I'm sure he loved --"

"He *did* -- oh, God, fuck, *Jay* --"

"Yes --"

"Roll us *over* --"

Bruce does so --

And Dick braces himself on Bruce's chest --

Dick *claws* Bruce's chest -- "What'd he *do*, Bruce?"

"Dick --"

"When he *rode* you!"

Bruce grunts -- "This. Just that position --"

Dick stares at him open-mouthed -- and begins to --

To *ride* -- "*Please* --"



Dick smiles, and it's as wild and *full* as one of Jason's smiles, as bright and *hungry* --

"Jay..." Bruce shakes his head -- "I'm sorry --"

"*No*! He's -- he can be with us for this --"

"He would've *wanted* --"

"*Yes*, Bruce, I --" And Dick groans and works himself faster, *harder* -- "Oh -- oh, I love you --"

"*You* --"

"I *need* you --"

"*You*, Dick --"

"*Ahn* --" And Dick tosses his head and takes himself *brutally*, gives himself *over* to pleasure --

The heat --

The *scent* of him --

And it's all Bruce can do to keep his eyes open, to --

His body is a *fool* to try to take this from him, the rough poetry of Dick's beautiful and scarred body --

The flex and *release* of muscle --

The turn of bone --

The way Dick's hair is growing *lank* with sweat --

But suddenly Dick stops tossing his head and stares at him, shocked and *hungry* --

And Bruce realizes that he's gripping Dick's hips, that he's *moving* -- "I'm *sorry* --"

"No -- no --" And Dick screams and ejaculates, shuddering all over --

His clench makes Bruce *shout* --

And then his body is only demand, urge and *demand* as he takes Dick hard enough to make him wince --

To make him whimper and pant --

"*Yes*, Bruce --"

"*Dick* --"

And Dick's smile is broad, lazy and *warm* -- "*Give* it to me, B --"

"*Hnh* --"

And Bruce is aware that he's grunting, that he's *shoving* himself in --

Hauling Dick *down* onto himself --

Holding him and --

The rush is blinding, perfect --

Jay is *smiling* --

And Dick is doing the same --

Tim and Stephanie --

Cassandra and Barbara --

And Bruce has enough of himself left to wince at the *volume* of the noises he makes but --

Pleasure, perfect and sweet, perfect and *correct* --

And he falls back into himself with a rude and sudden *shock* --

He gasps and opens his eyes --

And Dick is -- grinning. And licking his teeth. "Remind me to do that *again* sometime."

"Dick --"

"Shh, no protests. That was good for *both* of us."

"I must --"

"Wallow in the afterglow. It's the rule."


Dick snickers. "Though Jay... well, you tell me. How *was* he about post-reaming snuggle? Kory just wrapped him up in her hair when she wanted him to stay still."

"It seemed..." Bruce laughs and pinches the bridge of his nose --

"Oooh. Do *tell*."

"He would demand more and more until he was exhausted. Too exhausted to move from my bed... and thus too exhausted to reasonably protest being held."

Dick's expression speaks -- fluently -- of Jay's... cuteness. "That is -- *aww*. But..." Dick frowns. "Your nightmares..."

"I would move him from my bed on nights when I knew I would have... difficulties."

Dick's expression now speaks of Bruce's *own* cuteness.


Dick prods Bruce's chest. Several times.

"Dick --"

"Did you *ever* get to spend the night with him? Or -- well. The *day*."

"There were days when we didn't leave this bed --"

"You know what I *mean*, boss."

"A handful of times when I woke to find Jay still in my arms. Not -- there could never be enough."

The sadness in Dick's eyes -- is one shared.

Bruce reaches up to cup Dick's face --

"Tonight, Bruce? Your nightmares, I mean."

Bruce winces. "I believe. I believe they will come, yes."

Dick nods and cups Bruce's hand in both of his own, kissing and nuzzling Bruce's fingers -- "I'm staying anyway."

"Dick --"

"Clark -- are you listening, Clark? -- can move me if things get dire."

Bruce frowns -- and his communicator chimes. Bruce taps it. "Batman --"

"It really isn't any trouble, Batman."

Bruce -- sighs. "You have nothing better to do."

"Not now that I've ejaculated on your roof several more times."

Bruce coughs --

"I'm kidding, of course. Your azaleas really seem to respond well to the mineral content --"



"Batman out." Bruce taps his communicator again --

And Dick is smiling at him brightly. "You really should cuddle with *him* more often, boss."

"I -- the thought had occurred --"

Bruce's communicator chimes --

Bruce looks toward the -- curtained -- window. "No, Clark."

Clark taps 'your loss' on the window. In Morse.

"Noted," Bruce says, and turns back to Dick --

Who is shaking with laughter. And --

"I never wish you to be silent when you're doing that."

"Yes, but *Tim* might. He has to be tucking himself in by now, right?"

Bruce waits for his communicator to chime again -- no. "Perhaps. He had... a long night."

Dick shifts to accommodate Bruce's softening penis -- and raises his eyebrows. "Is this where we talk about how you've been dressing him lately?"

"He... I believe you should ask him that question yourself."

"You shouldn't dare me, boss."

"I'm not --"

"I mean, I am *willing* to walk into his room *with* your come running down my thighs --"

"Perhaps... you could wait. Until later in the day."

Dick grins and winks. "We'll see who passes out first."


"What was he *doing*?"

"Tracking the movement of designer drugs on the club circuit... and inadvertently seducing Lex Luthor."

Dick's jaw drops.

"Yes. I... I never mentioned our prior relationship --"


"And... he seems to want to adopt Tim himself. And take over Drake Industries."


"It's something of a long and difficult --"

Dick covers Bruce's mouth. "Simple, yes-or-no questions. Are you ready?"

Bruce nods.

"He didn't -- did he actually have sex with Luthor?"

Bruce shakes his head.

"But you did."

Bruce nods.

"More than *once*?"

Bruce nods again.


Bruce raises an eyebrow.

"No, you're right, I don't want you to answer that question... uh. Ever, actually. "What *other* supervillains have you --" Dick winces. "Never mind."

Bruce nods.

"And -- we've all -- some -- did. Uh." Dick bites his lip and stares at him.

Bruce raises his eyebrow higher.

Dick sighs and moves his hand, pushing it back through his hair, instead. "This is his assignment now, isn't it."


"For -- Luthor's *dangerous* -- oh." Dick taps his communicator. "Oh, you're paying attention? Uh, huh. Well, that's good. Yes. Definitely. You should still be deflowering him."

Bruce blinks and opens his mouth --

Dick holds up a finger. "I *know* you'd do a good job of it; this is what I'm *saying* -- still nothing? At *all*?" Dick bites his lip. "I'll talk to him about it -- oh, it's not a problem. Really. If he makes it to eighteen with his virginity intact Roy said *he* would seduce him, and that -- that would mean I'd have to get married to Connor. Yes. Yeah. Though Babs does like him -- *me*? He's my little *brother*! Oh, don't say my name like that! No! No, don't! *Augh* -- look, I have to *sleep* soon, and he -- yes, he *is* very -- no, no -- good*night*, Clark -- yes, I love you, too -- oh, that's a great idea. Here," and Dick clenches viciously enough to make Bruce *arch* --

And grunt like an animal --

"You're *welcome*, Clark. Mm-hmm. Love you," and Dick taps his communicator again. "His virginity is a problem, Bruce. You *have* to admit that."

"I... do?"

"It's -- he's a *Robin*. Robin is *not supposed to be virginal*. Not after age fourteen. Fifteen at the *latest*."

Bruce -- blinks.

Dick raises his eyebrows.

"It's only... I believe it would be a mistake to *pressure* him in any way --"

"No, no pressure. Pressure is -- bad. Unless it's the kind of pressure that makes you hornier. Then it's -- mm," and Dick's expression grows distantly lascivious. "And -- wait, where was I?"

"I believe you were agreeing to be supportive and patient about your little brother's sexuality."

Dick makes a face.

Bruce raises his own eyebrow.

"Fine, but he should at least know how *many* people want to peel him out of all of those *layers* he wears."

"You don't think that would cause him undue stress? Perhaps in the same way it causes *you* undue stress?"

Dick opens his mouth -- closes it and glares. "Only when it's *strangers*!"

Bruce hums. "Be patient, Dick. He has his own choices to make, and we cannot make them for him --"

"But *you* want to. *You* went to dirty places in your mind about him *tonight*."

"I -- yes, but --"

Dick *waggles* his eyebrows. "You could get in before Claaaark..."


"You're no fun, at all."



Bruce smiles helplessly and tugs Dick down over his chest, sighing with him as he slips most of the way out. "I love you, Dick."

"And I love *you*. Though if you try to carry me out of here and put me in that shrine to my Lost Youth again, I will kick you in the kidneys."

"I -- hm."

Dick kisses him firmly. "Sleep tight!"

Bruce closes his eyes.


Tim wakes up to the sound of his own moans, which hasn't happened since he was fifteen. He examines his dreams at speed --

And then the wonderful feeling happens again and he --

Moans. Again.

Tim opens his eyes and sits up --

Dick has Tim's feet in his lap and is massaging them with an expression of perfect focus -- which shatters under the force of his grin. "Morning, little brother. Well, afternoon."

"I -- Dick?"

"I *saw* what you were wearing last night -- and those were some great poses you came up with for Babs' cameras, by the way --"

"Ah. Thank you. Why -- ooh. Um. Dick --"

"Shh, just take your footrub. I have to limber up enough to do this for Babs, too."

Hm. "How does that work with her sheaths?"

"Well, it gets a little tingly if they migrate to where my hands are, but it doesn't seem to hurt anything. It's a little like holding a vibrator on low."

That --

("Boyfriend, it's not going to *bite* you!"

"Steph --"

"Touch it. Touch iiiiit."

"You... want me to molest your vibrator?")

And Steph had grinned at him ruefully, thick blonde hair falling to cover some of her face --

Tim had tucked it behind her ear --

("I own my sad little kinks?")

And she'd rubbed his thigh with her socked foot --

("Just -- show me. How you *do* it."

"Oh. Oh! Oh. Ah. All right. Ah. Are you --"

"I'm sure."


Tim remembers blushing rather *helplessly* --

His face had felt honestly *hot* --

And the rhythm of Steph's breathing had roughened, *deepened* --

And Tim had wound up feeling... rather a lot like he does *now*. Because Dick is focusing on *those* pressure points -- "Dick."

"Hmm...? Oh! Uh. Heh. Sorry about that," he says, and winks. "You're not the only one who just woke up."

Because Dick -- is wearing a robe. And almost certainly nothing else. And he's rubbing Tim's *feet* --

Protesting that would likely wind up in the sort of teasing... he really doesn't want to start the day with --

Considering what his penis is saying at the moment. Tim sends silent gratitude to Alfred for choosing a bedroom for him which stays cool enough that sleeping under a duvet is *reasonable* for most of the year and focuses. "You're seeing Barbara today?"

"Mm-hmm, heading over after lunch with Bruce..." Dick looks up and smiles *slyly*. "You could come with."

"Dick, you don't actually want to have sex with me."

Dick opens his mouth --

Tim looks at him.

"I -- it's not that I think it would be a bad *idea*, little brother --"


"Don't sound so much like Bruce! And anyway, it's *not just me*. That's kind of the *point* --"


Dick mutters something unintelligible and then --

"*Oh* -- God. Ah --"

"It could be a *good* idea," and Dick keeps working on that spot --

Tim *pants* --

"*Relax*, little brother --"

"Yes, I -- ah. Hm. Apparently, those boots were uncomfortable."

Dick snorts. "Those *boots* were knee-high *fetish*-wear. How did you get through that club *unmolested*?"

"I'm very good with my elbows. Dick --"

"Anyway -- anyway. It's not like all *sorts* of people haven't pointed out how good the sex between us would probably be --"

"*What*? No, don't answer that question --"

"Are you attracted to me, little brother? I mean -- we got all the way through that conversation about how we *wouldn't* be having sex without you saying a word either way," Dick says, and frowns. "How the hell did you *do* that?"

Distraction, distraction, distraction -- "You sounded like you were having a great deal of fun last night."

Dick -- beams. "Yeah. We -- we *shared* Jason. And that --" Dick shakes his head. "There's no better way to deal with death. Not in this community."

Oh. That sounds...

"Oh -- little brother. Would you like that?"

"I -- ah. It's not as though I have anything to bring to that... sort of event."

"'Event.' You --" Dick looks at him. "You bring *yourself*, Tim. And -- a willingness to listen. Both of which you have in *spades*."

Yes, well. "I still don't want to have sex, Dick."

Dick *frowns* at him.

"Yes, I *know* you find it strange --"

"Wait, you avoided the *question* --"

"What *is* Bruce like in bed?"

"Oh, God, he's wonderful -- *Tim*!"

Tim smiles ruefully. "You can't blame me for trying."

"Yes, I can! I'm blaming you right now! Just *tell* me --"

"Yes, Dick, I'm attracted to you. Yes, I've fantasized about you. No, I don't want to have sex with you."

"That makes no *sense*!"

"Dick, you're my *older brother*. I happen to *like* that about our relationship."

"We can be brothers with benefits!"

"You still don't want to sleep with me!"

"I do! I really -- okay, I didn't before, I *admit* that, but Tim --"

"You changed your mind."

"Yes!" And Dick starts working on the other foot. "You *know* what I'm like. I change my mind all the time!"

"Yes, and *that is not what I'm looking for in a romantic and/or sexual relationship*."

Dick frowns at him.

Tim raises his eyebrows.

"What *are* you looking for, little brother?"

"I --" Something. Something -- "Ah."

"You don't know."

"Well -- I don't have *time* to think about this sort of thing, Dick -- oh, God, that spot --"

"This one?" And Dick rubs --

And presses --

And --

"Dick, *please* don't give me more of an erection than I already have!"

And Dick flares his nostrils and *stares* at him -- "Tim..."

Oh... dear. "Ah."

Dick lifts Tim's foot to his *mouth* --

"*Don't* --"

Dick closes his eyes and *exhales* on Tim's foot, and his breath his hot, and it's Dick, it's always *been* Dick --

Tim yanks his foot away --

Dick winces and shudders, raising his hands -- and opening his eyes. "I'm sorry."

Tim swallows. "I -- didn't mean to --"

"You didn't tease me."

"All right -- "

"But..." Dick takes a deep breath and shudders. "I don't change my mind *back*, Tim."

"Dick --"

"Not after I change it the first time. You know that about me."

He -- does.

And Dick nods slowly. "Let me finish with your feet. You have some supervillain-baiting to do today."

"I --"

The phone rings. It --

It *could* be Steph --

Tim knows it's not Steph. He picks up near the end of the second ring. "Hello."

"Tim. Good afternoon." And Tim can *hear* the pleased smile in Luthor's voice --

Well. "And to you, Lex. Did you sleep well?"

"Is that a question you'd like an honest answer to?"

Tim shows his teeth -- and laughs. "You should assume that I always want an honest answer, Lex."

Luthor hums --

And Tim catches his breath, because Dick is... rubbing his feet again.

"What was that?"

Well... "My brother is rubbing my feet, as he happened to see what I was doing to them last night. Now answer *my* question, please."

"That's very kind of him. Does he do that -- often. All right, no, I'll stop being avoidant: I woke up with a raging erection and the memory of your smile in my undoubtedly fevered dreams."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "You don't remember more than that?"

"I rarely do... but then, I rarely try. And, yes, I tried today. I'd like to know as much about your effect on my subconscious as possible."

Tim smiles again and lies back on one elbow -- no. "One moment."

"Of course."

Tim switches to the headset and lies back on both elbows. "There's something to be said for allowing yourself to be surprised."

"Do you...?"

"As rarely as possible."

Luthor hums again. "Thank you."


"For the pleasant reminder that you're absolutely worth my time. Please, allow me to take you out for a late lunch."

Tim studies the nails on his left hand. He'd managed to remove the deeply wine-colored polish without staining them over much, but it had taken obsessive care with tissue-wrapped toothpicks to get it all. And... "Casual or formal?"

"There's a steakhouse not far from Gotham's financial district which I used to take Brucie to whenever I was feeling masochistic. I'd like to build happier memories of it."


Luthor laughs softly. "I'd also like to torture my cock by watching you eat red meat."

"Your kinks... are deeply special."

"So I've always thought. Does it suit?"

Tim hasn't had red meat in... more than a week. And he does trust Luthor's taste... "It suits. When will you be picking me up...?"

"Say... ninety minutes?"

"All -- *oh* -- my. Ah --"

And Dick is looking at him from over Tim's feet. Which he'd just -- kissed.

"Did Mr. Grayson hit a pressure point...?"

Tim glares at Dick.

Dick shows his *teeth*, and -- that's really a Nightwing look.

Tim sighs. "Mr. Grayson... just kissed the tops of my feet."

"You should imagine me blinking somewhat rapidly."

Tim snorts and tugs his feet away from Dick. "It is, in fact, better than a noogie. One moment, please."

"Take your time."

Tim covers the mouthpiece and raises an eyebrow.

Dick shows even more of his teeth -- and whips the covers off to reveal Tim's entirely respectable and ill-timed erection. Happily, Tim is wearing boxer-briefs.

"We knew that already, Dick --"

"Just tell me you won't be taking that to Luthor, little brother."

"It was always my plan to jerk off extensively *before* my date."

Dick blinks. "'Always.'"

"*Yes* --"

"You're attracted to him."

Oh -- damn. Tim feels himself blushing --

And Dick stares at him in *horror*. Just --

Tim blows out a breath. "He's a very interesting man when he's not actively trying to kill anyone, and -- it's *not* going to be a problem."

Dick looks *pained*.

"Two words, Dick: Slade --"

"I never --"

"But you've considered it."

Dick *winces* -- and nods.

Tim inclines his head.

"All right. Fine. Just -- are you sure I can't convince you to let me give you a blowjob, little brother?"

A part of Tim's mind trips and falls over. Twitching. The rest -- "I'm quite sure, yes."

Dick smiles at him ruefully and stands. "I love you."

Tim uncovers the mouthpiece. "And I love you, Dick. Have fun with Babs?"

"Oh -- I *always* do when she plans to be mean."

Tim snorts. The twitching part of his mind spasms --

And Luthor hums.

Tim waves at Dick and watches him go --

"You wanted me to hear that...?"

"It seemed courteous to let you know that I wasn't lying to you about who was... touching me."

"'Courteous,'" and Luthor sounds like he's tasting the word. Possibly dissecting it.

"It's possible that I'm just a ridiculous cock-tease."

Luthor snorts. "No, darling --"

"Still no."

"-- that's *probable*. What will it take to get you to tell me about the part of the conversation you hid from me?"

"That's rather *grasping*, don't you think...?"

"I am, at times, an exceedingly greedy man."

Tim hums. "'At times'...?"

"Right now, as an example. Name your price."

Tim strokes down his abdomen -- wait, no. "I... tell me everything about the Superboy project."

"*Do* you want him?"

"I don't know him, so... no. I do vastly enjoy looking at him in various amateur footage on the internet."

"Do you think my telling you about him --"

"Do you accept my price?"

Luthor takes a sharp breath. "Yes. Tell me --"

"Dick was teasing me about *my* erection."


"Oh, yes," Tim says, and eyes his bulge critically. "I've certainly been *more* erect than this... but not by much."

"And what do you plan to do about it?"

Tim smiles and runs his thumb along the shaft of his penis through the boxer-briefs -- no. "I'll be showering as soon as I get off the phone with you, Lex, and... I have no difficulties masturbating."

"No...? Even with your gender issues?"

"Even so. A proper prostate health regimen --"

Luthor snorts again and *coughs* --


"I don't actually *trust* you to not have been serious about that, Tim."

Tim smiles -- broadly. "That's hardly the best basis for a bourgeoning relationship, Lex."

"Just the same --"

"Did you masturbate this morning?"

"I considered it... but Mercy was wearing leather when she came in with my breakfast."

Tim shudders, but -- no. He's allowed to be a bit disturbed. "I knew she was your lover, as well --"

"No, Tim; Mercy -- and Hope, and Prudence -- are my *property*."

"You should imagine me making a terrible face."

"No appeal for you whatsoever...?"

Tim stretches over his legs lightly. "I have a difficult time imagining you as a thoughtful... owner."

"Do you think I'd make a better master?"

"The ability to *remove* the leash with you would be entirely... necessary."

Luthor hums. "I assure you, Tim -- I am a thoughtful, conscientious, and *exacting* -- on myself -- owner."

"I'm sure your... Virtues would offer a glowing testimonial --"

"Tim. My *Virtues* could -- singly or together -- murder me slowly and *painfully* with ease if I ever so much as pissed them *off*."

Tim blinks and sits up again. "I -- hm."

"Yes, do consider that. They all like each other a great deal, as well. Even if I *would* ever play them against each other, it couldn't be done."

Tim licks his lips and --

They really do have access to him twenty-four hours a day and seven days a *week*.

He *sleeps* with them.

They're armed all the *time*. And -- there's something to be said for the idea that he'd broken them to his will... but.

Would they really entertain him then?

Tim laughs softly. "Your point is made."

"Then you *will* wear a collar for me."

"Hn. No. But I'll think less unfavorably of you for wanting me to."

Luthor sighs with exaggerated drama. "You're a cruel and *terrible* young man, darling --"

"No. And -- hm. That was rather *exceedingly*... fabulous."

"Did you like it...?"

"I'm reserving judgment," Tim says, spreading his legs and bending down between them with a sigh.

"And that was?"

"I'm stretching. I picked up the habit in the dojo. It always... centers me."

"Do you often need that sort of thing?"

"I'm *often*... tense."

"Who relaxes you?"

"How do you plan to control Superboy?"

Luthor says... nothing.

Tim snorts. "Lex. You don't actually expect me to believe that you would create a being with that much raw power and *not* include a way to control him."

"Tell me why you care."

"Well -- one moment," Tim says, and steps off the bed to stretch his quadriceps and calves, the latter of which are complaining rather bitterly about all the time spent in those wonderful boots. He makes sure to grunt and hiss somewhat --

"Yes, you *are* arousing me more."

"Mm. Good to -- enh -- know. I care because -- *mm* -- you're technically still on probation."


"I haven't ruled you out as a -- prospect," Tim says, and blinks because -- it's true. "Ah -- never mind --"

"You surprised yourself with that honesty."

"Lex --"

Luthor hums. "No, I *don't* need you to confirm that -- darling."

"Still. No."

"You'd like to have a reason to put me firmly back on the proverbial shelf, perhaps?"

Tim -- knows his expression is sour. But. "It would certainly be -- mm. Relaxing."

"So would a backrub and two to four screaming orgasms. Which I am, in fact, offering."

"No, thank you. My answer?"

"There are ways to teach -- program -- a clone while it --"


"-- is still developing. This is why Superboy was 'born' speaking several languages fluently *and* idiomatically as well as having an intelligent young man's grasp of mathematics, physics, and various other topics."

Tim hums and stretches his upper body. "Are these techniques viable for more traditionally produced children?"

"Yes, but it takes a ruthlessness and dedication most prospective parents lack. I... don't believe I would be able to use those techniques on a child of my own."


"Yes, you believe I already *have* one. I --*are* you a biological determinist?"

"I *believe* in the chosen family. Wholeheartedly," Tim says, and flows into the next stretch like Dick --

Who wants to *fellate* him --

Repress, repress, repress --

"Was there a 'but' at the end of that declaration, Tim?"

Tim sighs for the feel of his muscles loosening, warming, becoming -- "Yes. I also believe that people who decide to produce children have -- a responsibility to them."

"To provide for them?"

"More than that," Tim says, and thinks of his mother's hands in his hair --

Her fingernails on his scalp to tell him to be correct --

"This is where you tell me that you have, in fact, done something -- anything -- for Superboy."

"The ubermensch has claimed him for his own --"

"Weak," Tim says, and rolls his head on his neck. "Pathetic, even."

"Tim --"

"Are you going to *argue* that? *Dad*?"

"Do you *want* me to bring him to heel?"

So you can. Interesting. "Is that the only way you know how to provide care, Lex...?"

"Well, I'm not going to make sweet love to him anytime soon, so -- yes."

"That's -- sad." Tim frowns --

"And you actually said that without an implicit threat to my testicles. Don't pity me, Tim. Ever."

"Don't order me until I *say* you can."

Luthor inhales sharply.

"Are you going to try to argue with *that*? Because I recommend that you don't," Tim says, and bends himself backwards until he's resting on his palms and the pads of his feet.

And there's a pause --

A rather *long* pause --

Tim lies flat and kicks up slowly, trying -- and failing, again -- to press his thigh to his abdomen. He thinks he's closer, though.

And it's... interesting to do while being this hard --

*Dick* --

"I apologize," Luthor says, and sounds -- sincere.

"Are you opening your hand?"


"All right. Apology accepted -- provisionally."

"I... would rather you not pity me."

"I only pity people I -- *nn* -- don't respect."

"Please. Respect me."

"Give me a reason," Tim says, and switches legs.

"I... have reason to believe that Superboy wouldn't come if I called him. On the telephone, I mean."

"You could always visit," and Tim imagines the singular sensation of being given a stricken look by Kon. "I presume you know where he lives when he's not flying around in those ever so fascinating jeans...?"

"Oh, yes, I do."

Fuck -- but Clark *had* said that there was a chance his identity was compromised. He --

"I know... I make it my business to know such things, Tim."

"For when you call him to heel...?"

"Information -- in all its forms -- is power. Please, tell me how you're stretching right now."

"I'm flat on my back and doing my level best to press my quadriceps to my abs."

"I believe you just made me wince with lust. Thank you."

Tim snorts. "You're welcome. It's almost time for me to shower."

"Will you think about Superboy while you're masturbating?"

Tim sighs and rests. "No. But I have in the past."

"Do you ever think about your brother?"

"You are... so *very* deeply in debt right now."

"I'm trusting you to be a lenient creditor."

Tim grins. "How quickly they tangle themselves in my coils."

"I'm sure you'll eventually find *some* way to be an average teenager -- and thus not especially necessary to my cock's happiness. Until then... tangle away."

"Hn. Did you just *dare* me to keep being interesting?"

"Did it work...?"

Tim hums. "We'll see. It's time for my shower, so... farewell."

"Mercy or Hope in back with us?"

"What's Prudence like?"

"Cheerfully psychotic, mendacious, and inclined towards -- as she puts it -- recreational demolitions."

Tim coughs. "I... see."

"She's also working elsewhere, at the moment... but if you were to visit me in Metropolis --"

"No, thank you. Hope, please."

"I'm fascinated by --"

"Everything I do?"

Luthor laughs. "So far... yes. I'll see you in an hour."

"Mm-hmm." And Tim hangs up.

And sits up on his elbows to examine his bulge, which has reduced itself not at all. There's something to be said for youth and good health... but.

Tim sighs and strips out of his boxer-briefs before putting on a robe and heading to the bathroom. There's no one else up here at the moment, and that... is absolutely a relief. Bruce had almost tipped his hand about his attraction to Tim last night, and Tim would rather not endanger any *more* of their plausible deniability.

There is...

Well, it's *pleasant* to be considered attractive by so many attractive people. It's flattering -- in the best possible way -- and, thus, good for Tim's self-esteem... which had been problematically low for rather a long time due to certain realities of size.

He will almost certainly be *less* than a hundred pounds lighter than Bruce *someday* -- but that day is not today.

He will *never* be as flexible as Dick, nor will his smiles ever be so arresting.

Jason... Jason's eyes had been --

And his *body* --

Even at *fifteen* --


He can't even strike any blows for the feminine aesthetic, given Barbara, Steph, and Cassandra. He doesn't break mirrors when he walks past them by any stretch of the imagination, but his is the kind of attractiveness which takes effort. A certain amount of ambiguous and/or inviting body language, the occasional enhancements by way of makeup, a wardrobe that accentuates his lean and *toned* form --

Effort. Not *much* effort -- and he isn't complaining in the least -- but still *some*.

Barbara can and does look like a particularly tech-savvy supermodel when she rolls out of bed in a t-shirt and athletic shorts with her hair twisted into a *knot*.

No, it's nearly entirely wonderful to be attractive enough to his family that offers are made, and he'll absolutely *miss* those offers when they all take the hint about his --

Well, it's not that he's *celibate* --


Tim smiles wryly and steps into the shower, soaping himself quickly and efficiently --

And gasping at the touch of his own hand. Oh --


Tim leans back against the wall and takes himself in hand, closing his eyes --

And Lex is there, looking wry, looking admiring, looking *blackly* angry --

Looking at him.

Looking --


Kon is there, grinning and *cupping* his groin, and that had been --

("You sure, Wonder Boy? I *promise* I'll be gentle.")

That had been an exciting day.

("Unless, you know, you don't *like* gentle...")

And his -- slate-colored -- eyes had glittered a little, *hardened* a little with arousal, old fantasy --


"You could just *tell* me what you like. You know I won't tell anyone else..."

"Hn. Enjoy the mystery.")

And Tim had walked out and breathed, somehow *breathed* --

And walked *briskly* back to his room --

And laughed, off and on -- mostly on -- for the better part of ten minutes before masturbating himself at speed.

With the white noise generator on.

Kon had squeezed himself --

No, he's not thinking about Kon --

And Lex would vastly *enjoy* watching Tim masturbate --

*That* would be worth a great *deal* of quid pro quo --

He'd like to know what Lex's *penis* is like --

*Is* he hairless all over? It seems like it would be information --

*Useful* information --

Tim laughs at himself and groans, squeezing hard and spreading his legs, aching and --

It's been too long since he's fucked himself. Just -- days. And days.

Dick's penis is --

Tim could take it easily, considering the years of practice he's had with anal play. Tim had *wanted* to take it when he was eleven, twelve, thirteen-fourteen-fifteen --

Sixteen changed things. Sixteen always -- but isn't it normal? Sexuality *changes* as we age, and people are --

Are --

People can't be *trusted*, no one can ever --

Tim whimpers and dumps the slick, creamy soap -- which had randomly appeared among his toiletries one day -- onto his fingers. If he can just --

He braces himself against the tile and reaches back --

He can't get *deep* this way, but --

"*Yes* -- *ohn* --"

Dick could *hold* him against this wall, twist Tim's arm behind his back and guide himself --

In so *deep* --

Tim can't *get* deep, but --

Tim whimpers and bangs his head against the tile, and -- fast. Fast makes up for --

Many, many sins --

Dick could call him 'little brother' again, and his eyes could have that wild look, that *hot* look that didn't used to *be* there, not *ever* --

Tim groans and twists his fingers as much as he -- "*Fuck* --"

His penis is twitching just -- *constantly* --

He's close --

He *needs* --

Bruce could get deeper. So much.

He could --

Hold Tim still and *push*, push and push --

"*Please* --" And Tim sobs and feels himself -- tearing, not crying. Just a little. It's normal. It's perfectly --

Bruce wants him to be *happy*, and this would do it --

For a little while --

And laughing makes him seize makes him gasp makes him *need* --

Makes him *come*, and he's grunting for every spasm, every --

Every *twitch* --

His knees buckle. He -- he catches himself.

This couldn't *possibly* be as good if he *were* having sex on a regular basis. And he'd miss that *badly*.

Tim sighs and stands, sluicing off and then washing himself all over again. The hand-held they'd installed for Cassandra works wonderfully for Tim's rectum, which is feeling just a bit tingly. Buzzy.

And very clean.

Tim hums and washes his hair quickly, then steps out of the shower and dries, moisturizes, and checks himself for pimples and other blemishes. It's tempting to apply some foundation and perhaps a *little* blush --

Less *saturated* blush, even --

Not for a steakhouse. Not -- today.

Tim smiles at his reflection and promises himself that his cheekbones are perfectly attractive and dramatic.

He straps two knives to his back and dresses in the semi-casual dove grey suit which makes his physique look more typically male --

He strips again, and dresses in the semi-casual indigo suit which makes him look as queer as queer can be. Alfred had chosen it for him.

Alfred is, occasionally, as subtle as a brick to the *face* -- and Steph likes the suit, too.

He takes a picture of himself in his full-length mirror, then he takes another while pretending to be James Bond. He e-mails them both to Steph with his compliments, and best wishes for her to have a lovely day. She'll be training with Cassandra today. Tonight, they'll *both* be going out as Robin --

Or -- hm.

Tim slips in his comm and taps it. "R-1 to B."

"Batman here."

"I'm wondering if I should *be* R-1 while contra-Prime is watching."

Bruce hums. "I take your point. Consider yourself benched -- but be ready for any eventuality."

"Of course --"

"Including the need to bore contra-Prime at speed."

Tim snorts. "I'll do my best --"

"*Will* you, little brother?"

"*Yes*, N --"

"Wait, no, *can* you?"

"If all else fails, I'll begin talking about FaeQuest incessantly," Tim says, and uses just enough product to give himself a respectable brush. "There's a rogue I've been developing for approximately ten years."

Dick snorts. "Okay, but you haven't *played* that since before the *quake*."

"Au contraire. I've been playing it in my head quite regularly. Give O my regards."

"As you say --"

"Will do."

"R-1 out," and Tim taps the comm back to passive receive -- and takes it out. As always when he does, there's a twinge of *queasy* guilt --

But there are operatives Bruce can call on who *aren't* him now, and -- all is as well it can be.

Tim looks himself over once more --

Wishes for a cravat --

There *is* the tie he usually wears with this suit -- a perfectly attractive Impressionist-inspired thing which is several different *shades* of blue --

Tim considers *slapping* himself --

No tie for lunch at a steakhouse and -- yes. The top button of his Egyptian-cotton shirt -- which is an azure which lends an even greater degree of fabulousness to the suit -- is unbuttoned, exposing just a bit more of his throat than is entirely *toward*. Or -- something.

He jogs downstairs with a spring in his step, utterly unsurprised to find Alfred straightening things unnecessarily in the entryway.

"Good afternoon, young sir. I trust you slept well?"

Tim smiles and inclines his head. "I did, Alfred. Thank you for asking."

Alfred inclines *his* head and whips an immaculate dust "rag" out of his sleeve before applying it to the equally immaculate umbrella holder.

"How was your own rest?"

"Entirely satisfactory, young sir. I awoke with precisely enough time to prepare a suitable repast for Masters Bruce and Dick."

And if Tim doesn't show up for the *next* repast, there will be hell to pay. Still -- Tim smiles ruefully and lifts the holder so that Alfred doesn't have to bend. "I'm sorry for missing it, Alfred. My current assignment is... ah... time-consuming."

"Ah, yes. The business with Mr. *Luthor*," Alfred says, frowning and dusting more vigorously for a moment.

"I *do* intend to be careful, Alfred."

"That was never in doubt, young sir. I..." Alfred sighs. "Has Master Bruce spoken of his own relationship to the man?"

"Ah... shallowly only. Though I believe it won't take much effort to get him to speak more."

Alfred nods and tucks the rag away. "Master Bruce *has* been rather more communicative than usual of late. It could only be good for him."

"Yes, I believe so," Tim says, and sets the umbrella holder down again.

Alfred eyes him -- shrewdly.

"Yes, Alfred?"

"Be careful, Master Timothy."

Tim opens his mouth --

"With your *heart*, young sir."

Tim blinks. "I -- Alfred?"

"It has never escaped your attention how *much* you have in common with Master Bruce -- do not let it begin to do so now. Master Bruce was *deeply* infatuated with Mr. Luthor, and I daresay a part of him still is, as Master Bruce is loyal to a *fault*."

"You... believe that *I'll* fall for Luthor?"

"I *believe*, young sir, that there are many ways to be attractive in this world, and that you are a deeply open-minded young man."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Open-minded to a fault?"

"One hopes *not*," Alfred says, and sniffs, dismissing Tim utterly before turning his attention to the rest of the entryway.

Tim decides to sit down and --

Plot. Scheme.

He *has* to find out *how* Luthor can trigger Kon's programming. Sharing the information that he can *without* giving Kon a workaround will just lead to panic and, possibly, ill-advised panic-based reactions.

Tim... has never *entirely* disagreed with Bruce's concerns, as opposed to his prejudices, and Kon is...

It's Tim's responsibility as Kon's closest friend to keep his strengths and weaknesses duly in mind, and so that's exactly what he's going to do. And if he has to prostitute himself -- more of himself -- for Luthor's secrets... well.

There are infinitely less enjoyable ways to do that.

Tim closes his eyes and centers himself, and remains still and steady even when the doorbell chimes decorously.

Alfred goes to answer the door --

Tim waits for a full forty-five seconds, listening to conversation he can't *quite* parse --

And then he goes to join Luthor and Alfred at the door, just in time to watch Luthor presenting Alfred with a metal-bound book of some sort. "For you, Mr. Pennyworth, with my compliments."

Alfred raises an eyebrow. "Indeed, sir?"

Luthor smiles -- warmly. "It's something of a cookbook, featuring my favorite recipes from various cultural backgrounds. I've been collecting them for a number of years... and I must admit to hoping for your input on them. I remember fondly every meal I've ever eaten in this house."

Alfred blinks and inclines his head. "I will peruse the book when I have a spare moment, sir. Thank you for your compliments."

Luthor grins. "Thank *you* for the mousse which finally convinced me that there was merit in French cuisine," he says, and turns to Tim. "Good afternoon. I considered bringing a gift for you... but I didn't want to be grasping."

Oh -- Luthor. Tim licks the back of his teeth. "Your instincts serve you well, Lex," and Tim turns to Alfred. "I'll be home for a late dinner, Alfred. If something comes up before then, I'll be sure to call."

"Very good, young sir. Enjoy your afternoon," and Alfred turns to nod at Luthor once more before leaving briskly --

And Luthor watches him go with a thoughtful expression on his face.

"Yes, Lex?"

"I have the strangest feeling that he wanted to act as your chaperone."

Alfred has been more my mother than --

Than --

Tim swallows and breathes --

"Oh... Tim. What's wrong?"

Tim waves a hand. "It's -- not important."

Luthor frowns and reaches out -- and drops his hand. "Your happiness has become important to me, Tim. Please -- allow me to help you maintain it."

That -- Tim smiles wryly. "We're still not going to talk about my parents."

"You are worth... far, far more than... you might believe," Luthor finishes lamely, and then scowls.

Tim raises an eyebrow. "My self-esteem is fine, Lex."

"Is it?"

"I was just complimenting myself less than an *hour* ago."

"Yes, but were you doing it on your own merits --"

"Yes --"

"Or were you comparing yourself to others...?"

Tim... allows his expression to be sour. "There's such a thing as feeling -- in some way -- *better* than others, Lex."

"Were you? *Are* you?"

Well -- no. Tim lets his expression twist a little more.

And Luthor smiles with a *sad* triumph.

"Don't -- I'd rather you avoid pitying me."

"It's entirely possible to feel sadness for someone while still respecting their strength, intelligence, and wit. Which is something I believe you know...?"

"All right, if I disapprove of you any more, my face might stick in this configuration -- let's go."

Lex offers --

*Luthor* offers -- his arm. Much the way Bruce would in a fit of irony designed to *mask* the fervid honesty enough for polite company.

"I think not," Tim says and strokes down the length of Luthor's forearm before walking past him out the door --

Luthor hums and walks -- briskly -- past him --

And opens the door of the limousine for him.


"Yes? I'm always polite to beautiful young... people."

"You *flog* women --"

"Viciously. Are you saying you *don't* know how loving that can be...?"

"Are you saying you wouldn't believe me if I did?"

Luthor raises a pointed eyebrow. "Yes."

Tim toys with his collar. "Point taken, but... how would Mercy respond to that sort of behavior?"

"The last time I tried anything of the kind with her, she caused four hundred thousand dollars worth of damage -- human and otherwise -- to the LexCorp tower."

Tim allows himself a pained expression --

And Luthor laughs. "My Virtues are deeply, deeply stimulating women... and *must* be treated as individuals with individual wants and needs. Remember that."

"I don't plan on allowing myself all that much *time* with them, Lex."

"Are you saying you *don't* try to plan for every eventuality, Tim...?"

Tim blushes and turns away. Just -- damn.

Luthor sighs. "I'd like to stroke your cheek."


"I promised I wouldn't. I plan on keeping every promise I make to you."

Tim raises an eyebrow and turns back to face Lex. "An honorable man keeps *all* of his promises."

Luthor cocks his head to the side. "Does honor excite you?"

"It... moves me. Deeply."

"I believe I would like to move you," Luthor says, and strokes the top of the door.


Luthor inclines his head. "To you, Tim. I *will* keep *every* promise I make to you."

Tim makes a moue.


"Entirely self-serving. You'd only be doing it because you want what I can *give* you."

Lex smiles, and it's warm and almost *soft* --

His eyes --

Tim turns *away* --

"Tim... I want your happiness."

"You *want* --"

"Many, many things. But... you've become a priority."

And that's -- a good thing. A *wonderful* thing, really, because it means he's doing this *correctly*. *Well*, even. Tim shakes his head and steps into the limousine, taking the seat he'd taken last night.

Hope isn't filing her nails, glaring, fingering her guns, or anything else in particular. At all. She's simply sitting there... looking at him. Well.

"Good afternoon, Hope."

"And to you, Mr. Drake."

Oh -- why not. "Please, call me Tim," Tim says, and offers her his hand while Lex steps inside.

Hope takes his hand, squeezes it gently but firmly, and shakes three times before letting go again and turning to Lex expectantly.

"Yes, he *may* have your name, darling. If you wish to give it."

Hope -- stares. And --


Tim feels a distinctly *creeping* sensation in his testicles -- and then Hope looks at him.

"You may call me Hope, Tim. Until such time as you displease Lex."

"That's fair. Thank you, Hope."

"You're welcome."

"Out of curiosity, Hope..."


"What made you decide to work for Lex, with everything that entails?"

Hope blinks once -- and turns back to Lex.

"Go on, darling."

"All right, Lex." And Hope turns back to him. "Before I answer, I am curious about why you wish to know."

Tim crosses his legs and tugs on the crease of his trousers --

"As an aside, Tim -- I love the suit entirely without reservation."

Tim looks at Lex from under his lashes. "Alfred chose it for me."


Tim shows his teeth. "No. He doesn't approve of you enough for that."

Lex laughs softly. "He never, ever did."

Tim nods and turns back to Hope. "I find your life -- and lifestyle -- choices curious when I don't find them... odd. I am... filled with questions. I rarely allow that to stand."

Hope nods. "When Mercy found me I was purposeless. Directionless. And... enervated by every second I spent in that... condition. Working as a security guard for people who only wished to see someone with my features and skin tone hurting other people was... dissatisfying. Additionally, I believe I was... depressed."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "I'm sorry."

Hope studies him for a long, *flat* moment -- and then nods again. "I appreciate your sympathy, Tim. It was a... dark time in my life," she says, and the corners of her mouth curl downward for a moment. "I was suicidal, at times."

Lex sighs. "You *will* come to me if you ever feel even the slightest *stirring* of emotions like that."

"I will come to you with all of my emotions, Lex. They are... yours. When they are not Mercy's."

"We *will* find you even more people, darling."

"Yes, Lex," and Hope turns back to Tim. "Lex provides me with comprehensible yet challenging tasks to perform. Lex provides me with care and aesthetic education. Lex provides me with... badly needed education about human emotion. Lex provides me with... companionship and people whom I can... nurture."

Tim blinks. "That last... is important to you?"

"Yes," she says, flatly.

"Do you ever feel... used?"

Hope tilts her head to the side. "You use that word... badly."

"Ah... yes?"

"I believe it is possible that I mean... inexactly. There are those who use people without first being sure that the person in question wishes to be used, or wishes to be used in that way. Additionally, there are those who use people without first knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and other... qualities of the person in question."

"You're saying that Lex is nothing like those other... users."

"Yes, Tim. When Lex uses me, I know that I am useful. Additionally, I know that I am known, appreciated, and cared for. Many people would be... happier if Lex used them," she says, and stares -- into him.

"Ah -- hm."

Lex laughs softly. "Thank you, Hope. You are, by far, my favorite 'wingman.'"

"Is it because I'm not subtle."

"To a certain extent. *Mostly* it's because you're terrifying... and thus causing Tim to pull himself up with bravery and aplomb."

Hope nods. And stares at Tim.

Tim swallows and -- doesn't reach for the knives strapped to his back. She's not, actually, threatening him. It's not that he expects her expression to change dramatically if she were to *begin* threatening him, it's that --

Well. "Are you... improving me for Lex?"


Tim nods and bites his lip -- briefly. "If you don't mind, I'll begin conversing with Lex again."

"That is for the best," she says, and continues to stare.

Tim takes a deep breath, waits for Hope to blink, and turns back to Lex.

"The fascinating thing -- at the moment -- is that I'm positive that you *don't* regret choosing Hope today."

Tim smiles. "I sincerely doubt Mercy could have -- or would have -- given me answers like that."

"Would you have *wanted* them from Mercy...?"

He *wants* -- to punch Mercy somewhere painful. Though the question of why he'd rather not do the same to Hope --

At the *moment*, and, of course, if she attacked him --

Or some other innocent --

Tim frowns. He's being too open-minded. Definitely too --


Tim waves a hand. "Interrogating myself at speed."

"About Mercy?"

"Ish," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "Mostly about my desire to injure Mercy versus my desire to do nothing of the kind to Hope."

Lex nods thoughtfully and turns to Hope. "Mercy's distaste for Tim's age and makeup choices showed through quite clearly, Hope. Tim is, as you can see, usually quite fair-minded."

"All right, Lex," and she goes back to staring at him.

Lex smiles at him. "I'm now wondering how you'll get along with Prudence."

"I'm sure I'll find her... stimulating, Lex."

Lex grins -- and laughs. "Yes, everyone does. For at least a little while. May I offer you a drink? Traffic is a bit murderous today."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "You'd planned to arrive early...?"

"Always, darling."


"Am I 'Lex' in your mind, yet?"

"I --" Oh -- fuck.

"Oh, Tim. If you were to make me this happy for even a few *moments* every day, I'd have to marry you."

Tim -- it's not a scowl.

No matter how delighted Lex looks. Just --

"Go on. Ask me another question which will make you think less of me again. You'll feel better."

Tim considers crossing his arms over his chest -- no, that would rumple his suit unacceptably. "I'll take a half-measure of gin."


"Straight, please. I enjoy the flavor."

Lex leans over and pours -- neatly and slowly -- immediately before leaning over to offer the glass to Tim. "Alcoholism in your family?"

"Other than Brucie...?" Tim smiles and waves a hand. "Of the genteel sort only. There were no... dramas."

"That you know of...?"

Tim sips his gin and hums. "I made a study of the Drakes going back a few generations. Not much in the way of excitement -- in any way."

"And your mother's family?"

"Entirely successful social climbers. The roots of the family are... murky, at best."

"Does that shame you?"

"Not in the slightest. Why?"

Lex smiles again. "Merely providing myself with another moment to marvel at your general superiority."

Tim snorts. "Lex."

"Please. Ask me another question."

Not about Kon. Not -- yet. "When's the last time you had a lover you didn't own?"

"Two years go. Marta Gutierrez, new CEO of --"

"The Tontano corporation. Yes, I'm familiar. Why did it end?"

"With great power comes great... desire to throw off the shackles of political heterosexuality. She'll be coming out... soon."

Tim blinks. "But she *was* your lover...?"

"Oh, yes. We even pleased each other sexually. I'd say she's a Kinsey five point seven or so. *Are* you attracted to women? Cis-gendered women, I mean."

Tim smiles. "You've been reading."

"Of course."

"And... some few. But it seems to be a measure of their personalities more than their bodies."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "But you still want to make love to them?"

Steph had been sleeping that night -- the night before she *officially* started training as Robin -- and Tim had known she *would* be --

He'd snuck out of his house and climbed in her window anyway --

He'd loomed over her bed, and studied her curves and the rise and flex of muscle as she shifted --

("You're going to be even stronger soon, Steph."

"Muzza -- Tim, are you being creepy?"

"Yes. Sorry.")

And she'd flailed out until she could grip his bare arm --

("Wheresa. What? Fuck, are you *still* listening to your stupid father?"


"Blpppt. Come to *bed*."

"For -- a little while --"


He'd held her then, and stroked her as she went back to sleep, and dressed her in red, gold, and green.

Masturbating later had been... illuminating. Tim takes a deep breath and smiles ruefully at Lex.

"Who was in your thoughts?"

"My girlfriend."

"I won't use her name if you don't wish me to."

Tim raises an eyebrow -- and then nods. "Steph, then. We've never gone further than 'first base,' but... I'd like to. Someday."

"And her desires?"

"She'd like the same. Perhaps sooner than 'someday.'"


"Her secrets."

Lex inclines his head. "How do you think she'd feel about me?"

"Oh... she'd want to hit you. A lot."

"Is she violent with *you*?"

Tim smiles. Obnoxiously.

Lex's expression twists. "That is *not* the kind of question you can be *mysterious* about, darling --"


"Tim, then --"

"No, she's not abusive, Lex. That's not my kink even emotionally."

Lex frowns.

"Lex --"

"Are you *sure*."

Tim kicks his foot restlessly -- "Yes, Lex, I'm *sure*. She's no more violent than I am."

"Hm. Hope, darling, how heavily-armed *is* Tim today?"

"He is carrying at least one knife, Lex."

"'At least?'"

"His suit is tailored too perfectly to be sure, Lex."

Lex crosses his own legs and steeples his fingers. "Now why would Alfred Pennyworth have a suit tailored for you that would allow for *weaponry*."

"Because he *knows* me."

"Work for me."

"Mm... no."

"Sleep with me."

"Still no."

"All right. *Drink* more and *then* sleep with me."

Tim sips more gin and licks his lips. "Do you miss Marta?"

"Oh, yes. She's a wonderfully perverse individual. I rarely fucked Mercy more *creatively* than after an interlude with Marta."

"What counts as a creative fuck?"

Lex inhales sharply. "Curse again. Please."

"Fuck," Tim says, slowly, clearly, and slightly more loudly than necessary.

"Thank you. A creative fuck would -- perhaps -- entail me rubbing you down until *most* of your tension was a memory, molesting you until you were full of an entirely *different* tension --"

"Cock ring?"

"If you didn't want to test your control."

"Hm. Go on."

"Rubbing you down again until you were cursing me and my ancestry -- they all deserve it, by the way --"

Tim laughs helplessly --

And Lex grins again. He looks --

"You look young when you do that."

"Thank you? I'm sorry...?"

Tim waves a hand and sips his gin again. "Keep being creative?"

Lex hums. "Well, let's see. When you were moaning and writhing *enough*... I would start to make you come. One, a blowjob --"

"That's not very creative, Lex."

"It is when you're restrained too seriously to thrust -- or do anything but take it. All of it."

Tim... doesn't shift. "Keep going."

"Two -- a *thorough* rimming. Slow, serious, and just a bit vicious. Depending on how you respond, I *might* touch your cock while I'm doing it."

"I... see."

Lex -- glitters at him. And holds up three fingers. And waggles them. "Three... well, three is where we see just how much your marvelous little ass can take. Unless you'd care to share that information?"

"You're assuming I enjoy that sort of thing?"

"No, darling --"


"-- I'm *hoping*. And hoping that I can, if necessary, *convince*."

Tim hums and strokes the length of his thigh with his thumb. "I do enjoy it."

*This* smile is -- delightedly *hungry*.


"*Next* -- when you're aching, panting, and close to *exhausted* -- I fuck you. Slowly."

"And you have the control for that after... all of those festivities."

"Darling --"


"-- I *won't* see forty again. Control is something of which I have a *surfeit*."

Tim hums. "I'm tempted to tell you to prove it."

"But you *won't*... because you enjoy it when your lovers lose at least a little of their control?"

"I don't *have* lovers, Lex."

"Not even in your mind? I think your fantasies must be... wonderful."

"They are. For *me*."

Lex parts his lips and nods. "Was that creative enough?"

Tim waves a hand. "More *thorough* than strictly creative. But enjoyable just the same."

"How do you want to be fucked?"

"Deeply, moderately painfully, and -- thoroughly."

"Then --"

"In the future."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "When?"

Tim smiles. "When I'm ready."

"All right. Ask another question, please."

"Do you enjoy having fellatio performed on you?"

"How aroused *are* you?"

Tim waves his hand again. "I could stop asking questions like that."

"No, I want them," Lex says quickly. "All of them. And yes, I do enjoy it -- but only when it's being done by someone who vastly enjoys at least *most* aspects of the experience. I never wanted Marta to do it, for all that she has a beautiful mouth."

"The opportunity for a certain variety of dominance doesn't work for you?"

Lex raises an eyebrow.

"Did that question expose... something?"

"Your virginity, Tim -- because a *properly* applied blowjob leaves the blow*ee* rather too staggered for any sort of dominance behavior, at all."

Tim -- takes a breath.

He would like, very much, to perform fellatio on... someone.

He would like to do it *well* -- *properly*. He would like --


"Ah... yes?"

"I remain amazed at your ability to have this conversation while Hope is staring at you."

"I -- um. Hm." Tim turns to look at Hope.

Hope blinks. Once.

"*Do* you find this sort of conversation uncomfortable?"

"No. Why would I."

*Tim* blinks. "I haven't the faintest clue -- ah, no. Many people would."

Hope nods once. "Many people are... repressed. Are you repressed."

"Very much so --"

"You should... stop. Lex would please you."

"Yes, I think you're right --"

Lex *shifts* in Tim's peripheral vision --

"Ah -- I'm not ready to have sex with anyone, Hope."

"Why not. I do not think you are asexual like me."

"Well -- you are -- I'm very curious about that."

Hope nods. "It is a function of the abuse I suffered throughout my childhood and adolescence. I believe I was... stunted."

"Oh -- I'm very sorry."

"Thank you. Please answer my question, Tim."

Tim licks his lips, and -- "I -- can't trust anyone. At all."

Hope narrows her eyes. "Were you abused."

"Oh -- no. Not like -- a case could be made for a certain amount of emotional neglect, but -- ah. No."

Lex sighs. "I'm proud of you, Tim."

Tim frowns. "*Why*?"

"I --" A buzzer sounds, and Lex toggles the intercom. "Yes, Mercy?"

"There are several people double-parked near the restaurant, Lex. The restaurant itself seems reasonably empty, but I'm going to either have to triple-park or drive around the block another several times."

Lex frowns at him critically. "You haven't eaten at all today, have you?"

"I wasn't hungry --"

"Triple-park. We'll be quick."

"Yes, Lex."

"Thank you, darling," and Lex toggles the intercom again. "I'm proud of you because you've recognized that you *were* neglected. The abuse admission will obviously have to come later --"

"Ah -- stop."

"Tim --"

"Stop. My parents are dead, and I choose to remember them well."

Lex inhales sharply -- and inclines his head. "All right."

Tim turns back to Hope. "In any event, I have no intention of making love to anyone I can't trust, and, as I've said, I trust no one in that way."

Hope frowns. Minutely. And turns to Lex. "I believe I am confused, Lex."

Lex... gestures. It seems to express 'it's all right,' and 'stand down.' "I have my suspicions about where Tim's lack of trust comes from, but we must discuss them in private, Hope."

"Yes, Lex."

The limousine rolls to a stop -- and several people immediately begin blaring their horns at them. Tim steps out *quickly* --

And people begin cursing him vehemently. It's thus difficult not to feel like an inadequately-dressed Robin, but Tim makes it to the sidewalk without any spittle landing *on* him --

And Lex is there with a hand on the small of his back. Hope is behind them both.

"Out of curiosity, Tim..." Lex is keeping his voice low.


"Are you wearing a gaff today, as well?"

Tim smiles. "Yes."

"Do you like your body?"

"Sometimes. Sometimes... very much."

"Other times?"

"My mother was beautiful."

Lex hums and they walk into the restaurant. Tim can see the limousine pulling around the corner through the windows --

And the host greets them wreathed in smiles and professional good cheer before leading them immediately to one of several back rooms. There's a great deal of the dark wood and brass accents which speaks of a certain sort of moderately ridiculous masculinity, but there are also a large number of plants, and the furnishings in the back room are comfortable and not especially frenzied about proclaiming themselves a haven for penises.

Tim gives it a B minus --

And watches Hope set herself up with a sightline to the one entrance -- and a potted palm destroying her outline for any heavily-armed passersby on the street. Solid A --

And Lex is studying him curiously from his seat at the small -- intimate -- table.

"Yes, Lex?"

"Work for me."

"Would you teach me how to shoot?"

"I'm absolutely terrible at it, but Hope would love to. Wouldn't you, darling?"

"Yes. I believe Tim would be a good student."

Tim smiles and inclines his head to her. "Thank you, Hope. And no, thank you -- for now."

"You're welcome."

And Lex gestures at the other side of the table.

Tim feels somewhat -- restless. Itchy under the skin. In need of another... shower.

Or perhaps a conversation with Bruce about why he'd chosen that particular soap...

"Tim. What do you need?"

Tim smiles and sits down. "A moderate amount of red meat."


Lex grins. "I'm so glad to hear you say that. I'll tell you more secrets if you eat potatoes, too. They're quite good here."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Prince Edward Island?"

A boy who had spent a healthy chunk of his adolescence near and dear to Alfred Pennyworth... well. "Yes," Lex says, and gestures to Tim's menu. "I already know what I want, so...?"

"I've decided that you're going to order for me."

"Darling --"


"If you *want* me to get hard for you, you simply have to keep *talking*."

Tim snorts -- and the light in his eyes is sparkling. Almost *merry* --

"Visit me."

"Sometime after you make nice with your son."

"You're serious about that."

Tim raises *both* of his eyebrows and -- hm.

"Do you pluck them?"

"Only my toiletries know for sure."

"Threading is even more effective... or so I've been told."

Tim makes a moue.


"I'd either have to take the time to learn a new skill wholly related to physical vanity -- I do have limits with regards to that -- or I'll have to visit some terribly unsanitary *salon*."

"Alfred cuts your hair...?"

"*I* cut my hair."

Hmm. "Did he try to convince you to wear it longer?"

"Briefly, yes," Tim says, and arranges his napkin on his lap. "This length gives a great deal more freedom."


"On occasion. Tell me... hm," and Tim's expression turns distantly thoughtful -- but only for a moment. "You let me get away with my little bombshell in the car."

"Was I not supposed to?"

"Oh, you were. But I didn't expect you to."

This -- boy...? Lex smiles and leans forward, resting his elbows on the table and folding his hands together. "Trust is a luxury. I believe... that you allow yourself relatively few of those."

"Perhaps. And...?"

"I plan to convince you that perfect trust isn't necessarily a prerequisite for perfect pleasure."

Tim purses his lips --

Not even the faintest *hint* of gloss today, or any other makeup. The suit, though...

The suit more than makes up for the absence.

"You, my reluctant darling --"


"-- are an absolute confection of a -- person."

"Even though I'm not sweet...?"

"I think I could *make* you sweet, Tim..."

Tim *snorts* -- and coughs. "Ah...?"

"For a time, anyway. Not long enough to bore *either* of us. Ask --"

"When are you going to contact Superboy with your heartfelt apologies?"

"Promise to allow me to kiss you."


"Sometime in the future...?"

"Lex. *I* never make promises I don't know if I can keep."

"How many people have you kissed? Including your girlfriend."


Two. Just -- two. Lex is going to vastly enjoy teaching Tim not to waste *time*... assuming the wall that's going to rise between them imminently -- Tim is *due* for it -- can be shattered like the rest. And then there'll be the next wall, and the one after *that*... Lex smiles. "Thank you."


"Providing me with any number of pleasant thoughts today."

Tim hums and drums the fingers of his right hand on the table. The fingers are long for the size of the palm, but the hands themselves are as proportionally small as Tim is, himself.

Without the boots he is, indeed, five-feet-six inches tall to Bruce's six-feet-three inches. Not quite *diminutive*, but well under average. Bruce could pick him up and --

"Will you answer my question?"

"I'm going to call him after lunch," Lex says, and -- hm.

Tim shows his teeth. "That was true."

"Yes, it was. Hm. Is there anything in particular you'd like me to say to him? Other than an apology for ignoring him."

"A *heartfelt* apology."

"I -- no. A moment," Lex says, because Hope had just *started* to reach for her guns, which means --

That the waiter is here. Lex orders his usual prime rib -- it's nearly as good as Eva's -- and steamed fingerling potatoes --

Considers --

But there's no true contest. Tim is going to have a plate full of medium rare tenderloin and herb-roasted new potatoes. Because Lex is a realist, he has them eschew even putting the sour cream on the side, though he orders house vinaigrette on the side for both their salads. For drinks, Tim gets a neat gin and a tumbler of -- ice water. Tim is absolutely a tense enough person to enjoy chewing ice --

And he nods in approval. While sitting *primly* across the table.

Lex dismisses the waiter --

Considers a rousing game of footsie --

And doesn't slap himself, even though he deserves it. "I'm not sure I can manage 'heartfelt,' Tim."

Tim purses his mean little mouth again. That --

"I... will stipulate that he's my biological son."


"I will also stipulate that people who don't provide for their children are... are... hm."

"Worthless? Pathetic? Pustules on the body politic?"

Pustules -- Lex raises a finger.

"Make it good."

"Sleep with me."

Tim gives him a *bored* look --

And that will never do. "All right, I've failed as a -- father."

Narrowed eyes.

"I -- don't allow failure to stand. I try, and try again, and try *again* until I succeed."

Tim's smile brings to mind crocodiles and, of course, crushed testicles.

"Yes, Tim?"

"Does that mean you're still working to kill Superman?"

Hell. "Not... vigorously."

Pursed lips once more and a shaken head.

"It's only --" Lex sighs, and copes, immediately, with the fact that he wants to take Tim with him to every last one of his laboratories -- secret or otherwise. Wait. Lex frowns.

"Yes, Lex?"

"Do you have *any* interest in the sciences whatsoever?"

*This* smile is *pleased* --

And Lex copes with his response to that, too --

And Tim hums and prepares to tick off points on his fingers. "I follow advances in neurochemistry, neurobiology, biochemistry in general, and theoretical physics."

"Visit my labs."

Tim blinks. "Really."

Lex knows this smile speaks more of his desire to bend Tim over something than of *science*, but -- perhaps the bending could be over a lab table. "Really."

Tim hums. "I'll consider it. Thank you."

"You're welcome. Thank *you*."

"For my superiority?"

"Oh, yes. Is that why you plan to give DI away? The sciences call you?"

"That's one of the reasons, yes."

"What are the others?"

"You were going to elaborate on the definition of 'vigorously.'"

Lex hums. "Was I?"

"Oh, yes."

Lex sighs and forces himself to sit back, crossing his legs and taking himself away --

He can't smell Tim from over here. That's criminal. That --

"Could I ever convince you to eat while sitting -- platonically -- on my lap?"

Tim's expression is shocked and appalled.

"All right, that was terrible. You have my -- heartfelt -- apologies."

Pursed lips, raised eyebrow --

"I miss your *scent*, darling --"

"No. And -- I'm not even wearing cologne."

"Who chooses your soap?"


Lex nods thoughtfully. "So there *hasn't* been enough coke to destroy his sense of smell. Good to know. Have you considered the idea that he'd like to fuck you senseless?"


Lex raises his own eyebrow.

Tim sighs. "Many people think they want to have sex with me --"


A sour look -- "Yes, Lex, *think*. Many of those people *also* think I'm a nice person."


"Because I'm a liar --"

"To your girlfriend?"

Tim opens his mouth -- and closes it again. "No."

Lex folds his hands together against his abdomen. "Is *she* wrong about the fact that she wants to sleep with you...?"

Tim gestures *sharply* -- and then frowns at himself.

"Her secrets, yes?"

"I -- yes." Tim stares at his hands for a moment, then takes a deep breath and looks up again. "'Vigorously?'"

"*Vague* interests in exogeology? Yes? No?"

"Ah, you're doing something with kryptonite."

"'Something', yes. It has any number of fascinating qualities, Tim, including the ability to turn light decidedly deadly --"

"And *cancerous*, yes," Tim says and gives Lex a *derisive* once-over. "If you're radioactive enough to give me cancer, I'm going to be *extremely* pissy."

"I find your pissiness deeply attractive."

"Pissiness does *not* make *me* harder, Lex."

"What does...? Other than honor, of course."

Tim -- studies him.

"If you tell me, I'll donate an absolutely obscene amount of money to the bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgendered rights group of your choice."

"One World Rights Campaign."

"All right," and Lex takes out his cell phone, calls his secretary Samuel, and makes it happen. He repeats the figure three times -- Samuel can be somewhat timid and conservative -- asks if there's anything in particular he needs to know --

"The board has appointed Helen Reyes as their spokesperson, Mr. Luthor."

Meaning... what? She's attractive enough, but the board *ought* to know by now that Lex only fucks his *armed* employees. Other than that, she's bright, cheerful, and as much of a yes... person as the rest of the board.

Or is she...?

"Tell her I'd like to hear from her about her thoughts, her desires, and her goals."

"Yes, Mr. Luthor. Should I suggest the telephone?"

"Not yet. E-mail is good enough for now. Anything else?"

"No, Mr. Luthor. The day's reports will be sent to your hotel within the next hour."

"Excellent. *Do* have a good day."

"Thank you, Mr. Luthor."

Lex hangs up, tucks his cell away, and raises his eyebrows. Tim is giving him a thoughtful look --

A *considering* look --

An honestly *measuring* look -- "Yes, Tim?"

"You've donated to them before."

"As a matter of fact, yes, I have. Though not enough to terrify the right wing politicians I support into refusing my money."

"This *will* do that."

"Oh, yes."

Tim takes a deep breath. "You're willing to take risks for me."

"I'm lunching with you in public... and you're wearing that."

Tim shows his teeth. "There's nothing wrong with *adopting* a gay teen."

"There is -- to certain people -- when you're not going to be bundling the teen in question off to church."

Another moue --

"And yet again, you make me happy -- no. Tell me *precisely* how you feel about the beings who call themselves gods."

"Dangerously powerful and unpredictable. Also, many of them seem to be, as Steph would say, jerktastically douche-y."

"Is power acceptable when it's predictable...?"

Tim turns away and smiles *softly* --

"Do tell."

Tim waves a hand. "Just -- thinking. Some of my favorite people in the world are deeply predictable."

"And powerful?"

"Not really," Tim says breezily. "I don't really go for that sort of thing as a general rule."

And Hope turns and cocks her head at Tim before looking at *him* --

Yes, Tim isn't a breezy boy, at *all* --

"Power makes you hard."

*This* smile is much darker -- and honest. "All right, yes. Certain *kinds* of power -- if well-applied."

It's tempting to try to determine if there were any other lies Hope had simply *missed*, but -- there are other temptations. He is *human* -- "The ubermensch?"

"He's something of a physical *ideal*, Lex --"

"To some."

Tim narrows his eyes *hotly*. "To me. At times."

"You'd like to be overwhelmed?"

Tim inclines his head. "At times."

Lex -- doesn't narrow his eyes. He has more information to mine. He -- he drums his fingers --

Tim stares at his *hand* -- and then raises one perfectly arched eyebrow.

Lex *growls* --

And Tim looks at him with *relish*.

"All right, yes, we *have* already established that normally-controlled people *losing* control works for you."

"You're not at *all* controlled when you're jealous."

"And you *like* that?"

Hope shifts --

And the waiter returns with their drinks as well as a basket containing two small sliced loaves of garlic bread, one crusty and one with a distinctly softer crust. Both are steaming.

They thank him -- and Tim immediately sips his gin. Hm.

"What *is* your tolerance like?"

"I lived with Brucie for close to a year when I was thirteen and fourteen, Lex. And I'd already been drinking wine with dinner -- and occasionally lunch -- since I was three."

Lex stares at him.

"You're picturing a Cabernet Sauvignon in a sippy cup, aren't you."


Tim laughs softly. "Not quite. I was, in fact, a fairly graceful toddler."

Lex continues to stare.

Tim raises an eyebrow at him --

And Lex still isn't allowed to bring up his parents. *Damn* -- all right. He can... move on. He sips his water --

He watches Tim narrow his eyes in enjoyment for the gin --

"I'd like, very much, to lick that taste out of your mouth."

"Not fuck it out...?"

"The ways you choose to use profanity -- hm. No, as a matter of fact. I don't want to fuck your mouth until after you've proven to me that you could enjoy that sort of thing."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"You'll find a way, I'm sure."

Tim hums and eyes the bread -- and then sips water, instead.

"What else, darling?"



"A hand on the back of the neck."

"A squeeze?"

"Firm," Tim says, and absolutely looks as if he's imagining just that. "Mild to moderate pain also works for me... very well."

"BDSM? Semi-formal to formal, that is."

"Theoretically. The pornography I've perused -- deeply -- has all been woefully flawed. I'd still give it a try."

"With someone you trusted."

"A great, great deal," and Tim smiles again.

Lex takes a deep breath and tries the crusty bread, which is entirely delicious. He swallows. He does his best to *pin* Tim with a glance --

But Tim had spoken about sex while Hope was sitting next to him and *staring*. He --

"Do you get anything at all out of being absolutely perfect for me?"

"A great deal of amusement. And what will likely be some wildly entertaining masturbatory fantasies."

"Do tell...?"

Tim switches back to gin -- no. This time, he only sniffs it before setting it down again. "Today, I thought about Dick fucking me."

"Your brother. Specifically, the brother who is not above kissing your undoubtedly attractive feet."

Tim makes a face. "I haven't had time to give myself a proper pedicure in --"

"Sleep with me."

"Still no, Lex. In any event... I've seen him naked before. He's quite free with his body."

"Has he seen *you* naked?"

Tim laughs *darkly* -- "He has no bathroom shame whatsoever, and has done everything in his power to cure me of mine, so -- yes."

"You liked your body less then."

"Oh, yes."

"Do you think he hasn't noticed that you've grown?"

Tim opens his mouth -- and then frowns. "Wait. Are you about to try to convince me to seduce my *brother*?"

"Was it a believable fantasy?"

"In -- various ways, but --"

"Did he make you come?"

"No. Not today --"

"He has in the past."

"Yes -- Lex."

"Darling --"


"Tim," Lex says, and has more of the crusty bread. He chews slowly, meditatively -- "I... I think you should be fucking your way through the world."

Tim snorts. "Lex."

"I *think* -- that you should be getting your cock wet with metronomic regularity."

A moue --

"I think that you're wasting your *talents* as a confirmed celibate --"

"I don't *have* talents --"

"I'm talking about your inborn gifts, Tim. And your terrible-childhood-given kinks."

*Mean* look --

"I'm... sorry? In any event -- you couldn't be a boring lover if you *tried*."

Tim crosses his arms over his chest.

"And you actually manage to be adorable when you pout, which, frankly, should be a crime punishable by hanging."

Tim bites the tip of his tongue --

Shakes his head --

And laughs, uncrossing his arms and pinching the bridge of his nose.

Oh, yes. But -- "Breath-play?"

"On occasion."

"Please tell me you don't use a belt or something else guaranteed to end in your name as a punchline."

"I am not, actually, an idiot, Lex."

All right -- wait. "Give me a better answer than that."

"Assuming I find someone I can trust, I'll *consider* that sort of breath-play. As it is... no," and Tim meets his eyes so perfectly and *firmly* --

"I really do think you're lying."

Tim -- smiles. And leans back to toy with the buckle of his -- leather -- belt.

"You know, for that amount of money, I think more honesty would be *reasonable*, Tim."

Tim cocks his head to the side. "Am I your whore, Lex...?"

Lex opens his mouth --

And the waiter returns with their entrees. Lex waves the bread away and watches Tim study his plate with glittering eyes. The tenderloin platter comes with *three* steaks, and Lex hadn't *thought* Tim would eat even two, but...

But. "You make exceptions for protein, don't you."

"Mm-hm. Well, some kinds of protein."

"The yogurt this morning --"

"I have... creaminess issues."

Lex blinks --

Considers asking about semen --

Not yet. "Would you *like* to be my whore?"

Tim slices off a bite-sized chunk of meat, lifts it on his fork, and examines it with covetous pleasure.

"Promise me you'll look at my cock that way someday."

"No. Unless I'm dissecting it."

"Hm. Answer the question?"

Tim touches his tongue to his upper lip and continues to study the meat -- "It's one of the things I was considering while I was masturbating."

Lex -- squeezes his utensils much, much, *much* too hard --

And Tim smiles without turning away from the meat. "It wasn't what got me off, though."

"Tell me what was."

"No," Tim says, and *then* looks at him. "Let's eat."

They do so, and Tim waves off every attempt Lex makes toward conversation -- and eats every last morsel of the steaks.

And four -- just four -- bite-sized chunks of potato.

When he's done, he breathes deeply, licks his lips, and drinks his gin in three swallows.

And then he licks his lips again. "How tortured does your penis feel?"

"Say cock?"


"All right. I'm going to feed you meat at every. Possible. Opportunity."

Tim grins. "Good choice. I haven't entirely given up on increasing my muscle mass."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "Would you really risk losing that shape?"

"There are any number of beautiful women with broader, deeper chests than my own, Lex. Many of them are even my *height*."

Lex takes another deep breath and imagines -- "Let me dress you."

"Invite your tailor to our next date."

Lex knows for a fact that the grin currently on his face has been known to make people at least *want* to wet themselves.

It makes Tim... flush.

Though that could be the gin. "Come back to the hotel with me."

"Mm... no. I need to work out."

"The gymnasium facilities at the Chilton --"

"Are *not* Brucie's own, Lex. The improvements Dick has made over the years... well. I do, in fact, plan to use the pommel horse today."

Lex blinks. "You're a gymnast."

Tim pinches two fingers together. "Dick told me that he goes a little crazy without people to teach how to bend and twist and *flip*. Take the boy out of the circus..."

Sweet prancing red foxes. Well. "*Don't* have sex with him."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"I don't want you to grow too accustomed to lovers who can fold their legs behind their *heads*, darling."


"Can you -- no, you can't."

"I'm sorry?"

Lex waves a hand. "I don't actually find most kinds of contortionism attractive -- we could experiment with your being my whore."

"Not today," Tim says, and dabs at his mouth with the napkin before setting it down beside his plate.

"It occurs to me... a whore doesn't *have* to trust their john."

Tim shows his teeth. "And probably shouldn't."

"I --" Lex frowns. "Rape fantasies?"

"Only involving superheroes. Big, muscular, square-jawed superheroes."

Lex stares.

Tim laughs. "Take me home, big spender. You have a phone call to make."

So he does. Lex summons the waiter.

The ride back to the manor is mostly quiet, as Tim had expressed a desire for relative privacy with which to consider his sexuality in depth.

Lex is --

Lex may, in fact, be allergic to keeping Tim from doing that.

Certainly, every time he catches himself opening his mouth to say something, there's a strangling sensation in his throat.

Tim stares out the window looking at *nothing* --

Tim's profile is damaged by the lack of character to his nose. He would, perhaps, make a *cute* woman... until such time as she opened her mouth.

Or her eyes.

His upper lip is better than his lower lip.

His cheekbones -- there is nothing whatsoever wrong with his cheekbones, save that Lex wants for there to be blush.

His brow is clear and perfect.

His hair should be longer -- no.


His kinks are --

Lex sighs and turns to Hope, who blinks at him. Once. He gestures --

And she arranges herself with mathematically precise seductiveness, shifting perfectly to cause her skirt to hike itself halfway -- *just* halfway -- up her powerful thighs. It --

It's beautiful.

It's -- not what he wants.

Lex sighs. "Perfect, but no."

"All right, Lex," and Hope turns to stare at the back of Tim's neck.

They watch him -- slowly -- stiffen together.

And then Tim laughs and turns to smile at Lex. "Yes?"

"Open another button?"

Tim hums and does it, spreading his collar with his deft little fingers and exposing the shadowed dip of his suprasternal notch.

Lex hums. "In the good old days, Brucie would stare at me *just* there until I was almost -- almost -- ready to tell him to just choke me."

"And then?"

"And *then*... he would tongue me there until I was making embarrassing gurgling noises and considering asking him to just *bite* me... which was something we had to avoid."

Tim blinks -- "Ah. You couldn't be marked."

"*Not* at Exeter... save for the nights after dances. We took advantage of those as much as we could. I would like, very much, to press my thumb there."

Tim does it to *himself* -- "Like this...?"

"Harder -- slightly."

Tim does it... and his eyes slip most of the way closed. He --

"What would it take to get you to put on a show for me?"

Tim presses *harder* --

Flushes --

And moves his thumb. "Significantly less supervillainy. For a start."

And that... was the first *near*-positive given. Unless -- "Do you think it wouldn't count as sex?"

"It's only a matter of time before someone walks in on me masturbating. There isn't... much of a difference that I can see."

Lex looks to Hope --

And she shakes her head minutely. Not a lie.

"That -- is fascinating, Tim. I'd like to explore that attitude at length."

"And in depth?"

"Oh, yes. I --"

"We're here," Tim says, and re-buttons the second button as they -- damn it -- pull onto the Wayne manor drive. 

"You know, Alfred will probably *know* you unbuttoned it, however briefly."

Tim laughs. "There's no reason to thrust it in his face, Lex," and he turns to -- look Lex over.


"Make it a *good* phone call."

"Stay in the car while I make it."

"Mm... no. Fathers and sons deserve privacy. Oh -- and call him from a landline. More thoughtful."

Lex stares at Tim again. Just --


Mercy rolls to a stop.

Tim reaches for the door handle --


An *irritated* look --

Lex promises his cock a stern talking-to. "You won't know, Tim. If I call, what I'll *say* if I call... any of it."

"Yes, I will."

Lex raises an eyebrow.

Tim licks his lips. "You're going to tell me everything in hopes that I'll be so impressed with your... remorse and caring that I let you call me 'darling' and touch my cheek. Perhaps *while* I'm blushing."

That can't possibly be -- true.

"That look of horror on your face is priceless, by the way."

"Have better self-esteem. *Now*."

Tim *touches* his tongue to his teeth. "Are you giving me orders, Lex...?"

Fuck --

"Just for that... don't call me until the day after tomorrow," Tim says, and steps out of the car --

And closes the door behind him --

And walks away -- *saunters* away -- without looking back.

Alfred is there to open the door for him, of course.

Mercy buzzes the intercom. "Where to?"

"Somewhere with a partially frozen lake I can jump into."

"Tricky, it being summer everywhere this vehicle can get to." Mercy... is always friskier when she starts the day with leather.

Lex sighs.

Hope cups her gun butts.

Mercy growls.

"No, we're not going to kill him. Back to the hotel, please."

Mercy pulls off.

Lex -- tries to put things into perspective.

He's met someone who excites him intellectually, physically, and emotionally.

This person is, in fact, attracted to him.

These are -- objectively, even -- good things. Very good things.

Very -- Lex sighs again.

Mercy growls again.

"No, Mercy."

"I believe we should kidnap him."

"No, Hope."

Hope frowns. "I believe he would respond well to being broken psychologically, Lex."

So many people *do*, but -- "It wouldn't be the same."

"Lex --"


Mercy doesn't huff -- Lex believes she's physically incapable of that -- but there is an exhalation. It's just that Lex knows for a fact that it has more in common with some mythical fire-breathing creature gearing up to turn something to charcoal than with anything else.

"I'm depressed because I *like* him."

"We know that, Lex," Hope says. "Please tell me why he does not trust."

"His mother was a pit viper, his father was a weak reed, and his stepmother was a trophy wife who had the bad luck to actually fall in *love* with the weak reed -- by all reliable reports. She's currently taking a decidedly euphemistic rest cure while doctors do everything possible to fill her mind with fluffy, happy clouds -- as opposed to the stink of her late husband's blood. There's more, but -- it's a start."

Hopes nods thoughtfully.

"I don't like him."

"That much was clear, Mercy. You *will* treat him with respect just the same."

"*He* doesn't treat *you* with respect --"

"He has been treating me with respect, actually, and the amount of respect he accords me will only increase. Perhaps in interestingly painful ways," Lex says, leaning back and crossing his legs.

Hope blinks. "How can you be sure."

"Well -- he wants me more than he did yesterday. Additionally, his attempts to make himself think the worst of me went nowhere. Additionally, he's actually lonely as *fuck*... because absolutely no one sees and appreciates that side of him."

Mercy exhales again.

"I'm *absolutely* sure, darling."

"Then why are you *depressed*?"

"Because I won't be able to keep him -- even after I fuck him blind, dumb, and *stupid*."

"That seems... unlikely," Hope says, and moves herself into the configuration that always makes Lex swallow.

Lex swallows. "Thank you, Hope, but..." Lex shakes his head. "Mercy...?"

"He's *moral*, Hope. He's been playing it cool and open-minded, but he probably jerks *off* thinking about Superman."

"Raping him, yet," Lex says and snorts. "I can't decide if that's better or *worse*."

"Better," Hope says, with perfect surety.

"Yes, darling...?"

"He desires... grey areas."

Well, there's *that* -- hm. "He might simply believe himself *unworthy*, Hope."

Mercy sneers. It's not that it's *audible*, it's just that a quarter of a century with the same woman breeds a certain degree of familiarity.

And Hope cocks her head to the side in the angle which speaks of deep thought.

Lex leaves her to it. "Mercy, darling, what did Prudence say when she called?"

Mercy hums. "'Burn, baby, burn.'"

Lex smiles helplessly. *That* means that Intelligrow's brand new -- scheduled for its grand opening next week -- multi-million-dollar research facility is in smoldering pieces all over southeast Missouri *and* that the same can be said of their backstabbing leech of a grand vizier. Well, CFO. It serves them right for that last assassination attempt. "What shall we give her for a job well done, darling...?"

"She wants a desk outside your office. *Just* outside."

Lex blinks -- but yes, she really *did* insist on going on the books as an 'administrative assistant.' "I'll consider it. Order her several pairs of moderately unflattering glasses frames and... hm."

"Impractical shoes she can wobble around in while you say sexist things?"

Lex sighs. "Tempting, but no. She *is* supposed to be *security*, Mercy."

"She can wear them while one of *us* is on duty, Lex."

"True, but still no. I -- turtlenecks."

Hope stares at him.

Mercy stares at him, too, despite the fact that Lex is absolutely sure she's watching the road.

"*Turtlenecks*," Lex says again, and considers -- "And cardigan sweaters."

"Are you feeling all right, Lex."

"Oh, yes. Prudence wants to be a secretary in nineteen-sixty-two? Prudence *gets* to be a secretary in nineteen-sixty-two. Make sure there's some argyle in there, Mercy."


"Even *my* cock has limits, darling. Punch it."

"Yes, Lex."

They make it to the hotel without being -- nearly -- sideswiped more than twice, thus avoiding the necessity of using any of the car's more belligerent accessories. And --

It's time.

Lex makes himself comfortable and does his level best to fill his mind with fatherly thoughts --

He has no fatherly thoughts. He --

The boy uses the word 'dude.' *Frequently*. The -- clone.


He picks up the phone and starts dialing Tim's number --

But he's going to have to wait forty-eight hours for that. He --

He pushes on the implant that summons Mercy.

She comes, holding a large and decidedly *slick* dildo. Well.

Well --

No. Lex sighs and shakes his head.

Mercy sneers.

"Come here, darling."

"And if I don't want to?"

Lex stands up and uses every bit of his learned speed to grab her by the throat and slam her against the wall.

She sneers more powerfully. "I should make you *suck* this, *Daddy*."

Lex cocks his head to the side -- and tightens his grip. Not enough to *truly* cut off her air -- Hope isn't here and Mercy doesn't *deserve* it right now -- but just enough to *remind*.

She narrows her eyes.

Lex reaches up her skirt with his left hand, rips her panties free, pinches her inner lips together, and *yanks*.

A gasp -- and another sneer. "I don't buy it."

All right, then. Lex releases her throat and backhands her hard enough to stagger her and make his knuckles sting.

She spits blood on the terrible beige carpeting. She --

"Lick. It. Up."

She smiles, exposing bloody teeth. She's going to bruise terribly, and that --

Is just what *he* deserves for making her doubt his internal cohesion for even a moment. "*Now*."

She drops to her knees and begins.

Lex pushes her skirt up over her ass -- still as round and *creamy* as it was when she was in her twenties, but somewhat more *determinedly* muscular --

He considers -- no, there's no question. He shoves in the dildo, then lines himself up and pushes deep into her pussy, and sighs. "You're going to come *this* way, Mercy."

"Lex --"

"Shut up," Lex says, and winds her hair around his fist. "*Your* job is to clean the carpet and come when I tell you to."

She pulls against his grip --

Lex checks -- and gives her just enough slack that she *can* lick the carpet -- while feeling several hairs pull free every moment. This --

She's so fucking *tight* here, because she *hates* it when he uses her pussy --

Except when she needs him to be a particular kind of ruthless. Well --

Well enough. Lex grits his teeth and begins, moving as slowly as he wants to, as *gently* --

She *sobs* --

"Be. *Silent*."

She nods, pulling more hairs free --

And she's warm, so warm --

And she's tight-hot-*soft* --

But Lex isn't going to growl yet. He -- has things to say. "No matter what, you will *always* be my property. Lick *faster*."

More nods and obedience --

"No matter what, *I* will always be your owner."

*More* nods --

"No matter *what* -- my will is *paramount*," and he emphasizes himself by shoving in harder with the dildo.

"Nuh --"

He yanks her head back further and slows *down* --

And she begins to clench, just like that. Just --

Desperation is a wonderful motivator *always*, but --

He has things to *say*. Lex forces himself not to *think* about the *sweet* pressure on his cock and -- what? What *else*? Ah yes, rolling his hips a little --

*Grinding* -- no, not that much pressure yet. She hasn't *earned* it. He gives her slack again and she *drools* on the carpet, bloody-pink and *wet* --

"*Suck* it up."

*Instant* obedience --

Sweet -- "What you *will* understand is that what I will, in this moment, is a bitchy, tiny, issue-laden teenaged boy. We're *going* to fix him -- and *I'm* going to have him --"

"*Take* him --"

He bounces her face off the carpet --

And she comes, bucking and wild and --

Fucking *hell* --

Well, finesse isn't precisely necessary at times like -- like *these* --

Lex growls and fucks her *brutally*, thrilling and aching and *fearing* for the sounds she *can't* keep in --

She's still sucking on the *carpet* --

"I *will* keep him. He -- until he *bores* me. And then --" '*You* can have him.' It's easy. Four words, four syllables. Four fucking syllables --

He can *feel* her straining to hear them --

No. He can't. "And *then* -- you will still. Be. My. *Property*," Lex says, and *grinds* her face against the carpet --

She clenches hard enough to make him see fucking *stars* --

Oh, Mercy --

If you would just *let* me be a different sort of man *sometimes* --

Not -- not all --

"Nnh -- you *bitch* -- *loud* --"


"Come. *Again*."

And she reaches back and begins *reaming* her ass with the dildo, which --

Tempting --

But she hasn't *earned* his cock in her ass --

Her beautiful --

And the Intelligrow assassin had *scarred* her there --

"Lex -- oh, *fuck* --"

Ah, yes, he's started *helping* her ream herself --

He's clearly -- clearly too *soft-hearted* -- "I can't *help* it, Mercy, you -- *nnh* -- you sound *perfect* when you're taking it just. Like. *This*."

And she begins to scream for him --

To growl and beat at the carpet with her free hand --

There really is a *spreading* pink stain --

Fuck --

*Fuck* --

No, time it right, *feel* it right --

She deserves no *less* --

And so he fucks her *harder*, holding onto his control on the edge of a blade --

On the edge of a fucking *drop* --

She's grinding her *own* face into the carpet --

Maybe he'll buy this hotel. Maybe --

"Ohn -- nnh -- *Lex*!"

Now -- "Come *now*!"

And this scream almost *ululates* -- which strongly suggests that he's doing something right. That he's winning again, winning at the woman he *loves* --

Even though he'll never get to have her the way he wants.

Lex smiles sadly while she can't *see* it and rides her clenches --

Yanks her head back to make her bucks easier to *follow* --

And then she has control again, because she's *not* clenching anymore --

Because she's giving him her *softness* --

Because she knows him just that well.

I love you, he doesn't say, and he doesn't slow down one fucking *iota* --

And the pleasure rips through him like something which can un-knit him from the inside out --

And he comes growling, auburn hair biting into his palm and cock wrung *right* --


She *smiles* -- and does it hard enough to make Lex.... not bark. He has dignity.

He's just going to cover her and pretend he's not falling *over* --

And bite the back of her neck.


He breathes.

He -- breathes.

He *breathes*, and then he kneels up, pulls out, and kicks her onto her back. Lightly. "Well?"

She shows approximately four hundred even white teeth. "Sorry, Lex."

Lex crosses his arms over his chest. "You know what this means, don't you."

She raises an eyebrow.

He shakes his head with *mock* sadness.

She begins to lose some of her... insouciance.

"Yes, I see that you're beginning to understand. You *don't* get my cock in your ass for... seven days."

"Oh -- Lex -- I was just --"

"I *know* what you were 'just,' darling. Social control goes both ways. Up and out. You can *actually* clean this carpet when I'm done charming my offspring."

Mercy sticks her tongue out at him.

Lex steps on her groin, just to the left of her pubic bone. Lightly.

"*Mmph* -- uh. Seven days."

"Oh, yes. Go."

"Yes, Lex," she says, rolling to her feet with the same dangerous grace she's *always* had --

What the hell is Tim doing with *knives*? Does he know how to use them -- no, a boy like that wouldn't *carry* knives if he weren't confident about his ability to use them. And *overconfidence* in Gotham City is fatal -- even for the rich and famous.

Still... odd. Very -- no, wait. *Jack* Drake had spoken of packing Tim off to boarding school as punishment for all the time he spent away from home --

It's amazing the man hadn't run DI even *further* into the ground in the last three years --

Tim Drake had been a public school boy, and thus subject to all sorts of instances of Gotham being itself. That *would* be enough. But was it?

What else could there *be*?

Forty-eight hours until he can even *begin* to come *close* to finding out, because weeks of following Tim Drake hadn't told him *anything* useful until the very last *night* --

And then...

Well, *then* he couldn't wait anymore.

You just don't *see* that kind of *quality* --

Lex picks up the phone and dials 'Conner Kent's' private line. It rings once --

Twice --

Three times --


Oh, for the love of -- no. "Conner Kent, this is Lex Luthor calling --"

"Uh. What."

Carry on, carry on -- "Specifically, calling about mistakes I made when you were still Clone Two-Three-Two. And, of course, beyond then up until this day."

"Okay, seriously, *what*? I don't know why you'd wanna pretend to be some rich, bald douchebag, guy, but you're *not* getting my parents' credit card information." And then he hangs up.

Well -- at least he's developed a poker face --

That's *something* --

Lex dials again --

"Fuck off. Seriously. I've got homework to do."

"Have you considered calling on the incredibly large amount of information you were programmed with?"

'Conner' sighs. "Look, are you some kinda perv? 'cause we can do the phone sex thing if you want, but you gotta give me something to work with other than 'crazy.'"

Lex -- snorts. "That was very good."

"Yeah, you like it? What *else* do you like? And why the hell are you calling *Kansas* from *Gotham*? There are *plenty* of freaks out there."

"Conner... do you prefer Kon-El?"

Silence. Silence -- and lots of it.

"When it became clear that you were the only clone which would ever -- *could* ever -- become viable, I was tempted to name you Alexander."

"But even you're not that douche-y, Luthor?"

"In a word -- yes. I... I gave up on you. Wrongly."

"What do you *want* --"

"To apologize. To... a young man from this ridiculously terrifying city pointed out that I would never have the right to look down on deadbeat fathers and the like --"

"You are *not* my father."

"Is Clark?"

"Fuck, no. I don't *have* a father. I'm a *clone*."

"And proud of it?"

"Shouldn't I be? I survived and *made* something of myself when the other two hundred and forty-seven --"

"There were originally three hundred and sixty-two --"

"What. The fuck. *Ever*. Look, seriously, just tell me what your deal is. Are you gloating because you know our secret identities? Planning to fuck me or Clark over in some way? *What*?"

Lex frowns and -- "Why *don't* you use your programming?"

"Because I wanna *learn* shit. Tell me --"

"Like... a real boy?"


"Strike that question from --"

He hangs up.

Lex stares at the phone --

Considers having Prudence fly Lionel's remains to a Lazarus Pit so he can ask the man for advice -- and immediately do the opposite --

Considers cloning *another* boy --

He could use *Tim's* DNA --

All right, no, that would be too disturbing.

Lex dials. The phone rings seven times --

"*You* don't get to fuck with my head!"

"All right --"

"God, you're just -- you're fucking *evil* --"

"Very true --"

"And -- who the fuck was talking to *you* about *fatherhood*?"

"A young man I'm trying to convince to allow me to adopt him."


"It's not going to work --"

"So wait. You're trying to convince some dude to be your son."

"Well, now I'm trying to convince him to date me --"

"Augh*! How *old* is he?"

"Seventeen --"

"And you're fucking *ancient* --"

"I'm *forty-three* --"

"That's forty years older than me and fucking ancient, dude. Anyway. You're trying to hook up with this guy, and you get to talking about the Kid --"


"*Me*. You get to talking about *me* -- and he says he won't put out unless you're a better father? What's up with that shit?"

"Well, he *is* a big fan of yours."

"Yeah, but -- hunh. Maybe he's using you to *get* to me. You think of that?"

"While gritting my teeth, yes. Though I do know he's attracted to me."

"Uh. You're sure?"

"Oh, yes."

"*Really* sure?"

"One thing about having gone through puberty decades ago is that I've learned to trust my instincts about such things."

"*Sick*! I gotta -- uh. Think about that."

Lex frowns. "You really don't. I was just giving you background --"

"Yeah, so -- no, not my father."

"I'll never... pressure you or anything of the sort --"

"Did you give me a kill-switch?"

Lex blinks. "No... but --"

"But *what*?"

"It's in my power to... control you."

"Oh, that's fucking ass. You *gotta* know that's ass."

"In my defense --" Wait, why the hell is he starting a sentence like that? Possibly Mercy *should've* shoved that dildo down his throat. "I --"

"*What*? No, no, I get it. You're cloning the most powerful fucking guy in the history of fucking ever, so you told yourself that you had to be *sure*. That it was *prudent* to turn a *sentient being* -- that's me, by the way --"

"Yes, I --"

"Into a *robot*. Right?"

"It *was* -- look, what name *do* you prefer?"

"For you? Stick with Superboy."

"Hm. And your friends?"

"None of your business. Get that shit outta my head, Luthor. Then? We can talk."

"I - you have to admit that that wouldn't be the most intelligent thing --"

"Do you want a kid or do you want a robot? And what the hell were you gonna do with me, anyway? Make *me* kill Superman? Because that is some *Greek* shit right there."

"Greek -- ah. *Do* you want to marry Lois? And did you learn that in school --"

"I use my programming *sometimes*. And Lois is one hundred percent Betty. Just -- you know that."

'Betty.' Hm. "I do, yes. She's one of the most beautiful women I've ever met."

"And? She thinks you're a stain. I don't know about you, man, but when *I* wanna get next to someone? I try to *impress* them."

"You're still talking to me."

"Uh. Yeah? Why?"

Lex smiles triumphantly -- and then realizes that he's cheering for his biological son being lonely enough --

Having a difficult enough *life* --

He'd spoken to Lionel, too, sometimes.

"Any-fucking-way. Seriously, Luthor, that shit with you sending e-mail to Robin just to get him to suspect me? Fucking *lame*."

"It's a standard tactic --"

"Divide and conquer, yes, I *know*. *Lame*. Just meet me fucking head-on and do your *worst*."

"Or forever be known as a 'pussy?''

"*Yes*. And -- dude. Old people shouldn't curse."

"I'm not --" Lex sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose. "I apologize. For not giving you a home, for not helping you when you needed it, for --"

"Trying to murder my *other* father? You know, the one I *like*?"

Lex drums his fingers on the arm of the chair. "You don't have a father."

"I can if I *want*. *Sometimes* -- oh, damn it."


"Clark is totally beaming at me through the window now. Fucking A. Okay, I'm gonna go *bond*. You -- uh. What's the dude's name, anyway?"

"Tim Drake --"

"Listen to him if he says more shit about you not being evil. He sounds -- he sounds pretty smart."

"He is --"

"I'm gone --"

"May I call you again?"

"You didn't ask *this* time, so -- whatever," and Superboy hangs up.

Lex takes a deep breath and hangs up, as well. He has two days to fill, and it may very well be time to start... pruning certain projects.

If he's *going* to be someone who can have -- and *keep* --

Lex scowls and fills his mind with what Mercy will look like when her face finishes swelling and *begins* bruising.

If he's going to be someone who can avoid *that* as much as possible --

Who can keep himself from being *depressed* --

Who can fucking well *keep* --

Then he has work to do.


"Oh, my," Clark says, and looks up from making love to Barbara's vulva.

Barbara sits up on her elbows on the hastily-cleared work table.

Dick pauses masturbating himself on the bed.

Bruce raises an eyebrow -- he can do little else from where he's chained to the floor some distance away from everyone else -- "Trouble?"

"Ah. Ah. Hm. *No*. Kon-El just referred to me as his *father*!" And Clark beams at all of them. "Ah... if you'll excuse me?"

Barbara tickles Clark's ear with her toe. "You'll make it up to me."

"Oh -- of course," and Clark kisses her pubis and flies.

Dick grins. "My turn, Babs...?"

"Hmm. I'll think about it," she says, swinging her legs off the table and standing. As always, there's just enough hesitation in the movement to speak of her sheaths' inability to fully interface with a human -- rather than a Kryptonian. She is still far, far more graceful and quick than the average woman in her early thirties, but Barbara had surrendered Batgirl with a finality which was frankly unnerving.

It said too much about what *Bruce* could -- and couldn't -- do with his own life. The sheaths...

Clark, Cyborg, Blue Beetle, and Barbara herself have done much to improve the sheaths' ability to repair human neural tissue when they don't simply become it for the length of time needed to send impulses to this or that muscle, and the technology has been shared with the world -- though without Barbara's sheaths' ability to interface with every computer network on the planet. Thus far, there have been no especially terrible results to this --

Bruce cannot, in good conscience, look *down* on the vast and growing number of people who produce and consume pornography based around the sheaths, for all that most of the pornography in question is terribly inaccurate --

And Barbara is cupping his jaw. "Where did *you* go?"

"The question of kink," Bruce says honestly. "I'm hoping to avoid fetishizing you in any way."

Barbara's expression... quirks.

And she is now wearing a very large and intimidating phallus. Bruce lets his lips part. "Or I *could* fetishize you --"

"No, stick with not doing it," she says, and grips the phallus -- it's the precise shade of green she favors for the Oracle mask -- and --

"Did... Black Canary give you that?"

Barbara shows her teeth. "No, *Dinah* did not, Bruce. Helena did."

Bruce shivers and fights reflexively against the flood of imagery. Huntress is --

Huntress is herself, and will never conform to the *Bat's* rules --

Barbara tightens her grip on Bruce's jaw --

The Bat is not supposed to be here. Only Bruce himself, and perhaps those fragments of his personality which most amuse, most *inflame* --


"Barbara, I need --"

"*No*, Bruce. Your *thoughts*."

Bruce shudders and -- "I believe. I believe Alfred approves of your program of making me more communicative --"

Dick snickers. "The whole *community* does, boss. Now tell --"

"Dick," Barbara says, smooth and low and dangerous.

Dick hisses through his teeth. "Yes, Babs. I'll just. Uh. Do *this* for a little while," and the slapping sound --

The *smacking* sound is immediate, *maddening*. Is it his scrotum? His penis?

Bruce must *see*, and, while Barbara's grip strength is prodigious, it isn't -- enough.

Unless he wants to stay right where he is. And -- he does. Bruce hangs his head.

Dick begins crying out for every smack --

Bruce shudders helplessly --

"Enough, Dick."

Dick groans and pants. "Yes. Yes, Babs. I -- mm. What *are* you gonna do to Bruce?"

"Oh... make him talk about his fantasies. His... we'll start small."

Bruce looks up and raises an eyebrow. "Small?"

"Oh, yes. Three fantasies, three entirely different people," and Barbara smiles again. "Starting with Helena."

"Oh -- whoa --"

"Shh, Man Wonder. This is *Bruce's* show."

"It's just --"

Barbara turns to look at Dick --

"Yeep. Okay, shutting up. Getting disturbed, but shutting up."

Barbara snorts. "Do you or do you not want to make love with Tim *while* Bruce is also making love with him?"

"I -- mm. That -- that's completely --"

Barbara pulls on a greater degree of... presence.

"Oh... damn. Yes, you're right, not actually all that different, at all. Babs... do I have gender issues?"

"Yes, now hush," she says, and turns back to Bruce. And strokes Bruce's mouth.

And *taps* Bruce's lips.


Barbara's smile is warm and --

"The scent of you..." Bruce swallows and strains to lean forward -- he can't, of course. He --

He settles himself --

And Barbara strokes his face with her small, hard hands. His brow, the bridge of his nose, his chin --

Bruce closes his eyes and surrenders to the sensation --

"Such a beautiful man..."

Bruce shivers and strains to feel those fingers on his lips again -- he can't. He *surrenders* --

He tries to. He --

"So easy to *forget* when I have the Man Wonder over there being all lithe and cheerful and... himself."

"Fearless. Graceful --"

"And *effusive*, yes," Barbara says, and there's something of a *snort* under her voice. "Dick, remind me that I don't want to see Bruce's files on me?"

Dick snickers. "You don't want to see Bruce's files on you. *Ever*. Because --"

"I'll never, ever get them out of my head again. Yes, that's enough of a reason," Barbara says, reaching between her legs to gather pre-ejaculate -- and, perhaps, ejaculate from the last orgasm Clark had given her --

She --

She *slicks* the phallus with it, scenting the air--

*Flavoring* the air --

Bruce swallows -- "Please --"


Bruce groans and winces -- but turning away would be disobedient, would --

Barbara strokes Bruce's upper lip with her slick fingers --

"Oh -- *please* --"


"I --" Bruce licks his lips and groans again, swallows, *salivates* --

"You will not be judged, Bruce. Not without love, and humor."

"I deserve -- I've never --"

"Given her her due? *Tried* to make her a part of the family? Kept an open mind...?"

Bruce shudders and tries to --

Tries to hold *on* to himself, to his strength and --

But Barbara has been teaching him different meanings of strength. Different --

Different uses for *shame* --

"You wanted her, Bruce."

Bruce shudders and squeezes his eyes shut --

"No," Barbara says, gently and firmly.

"I --" Bruce swallows again and opens his eyes. "I'm sorry."

"Mm-hmm. You wanted her. You looked at her -- at everything she could and couldn't do and everything she *would* and wouldn't do -- and wanted her. And a part of you still does," Barbara says, and her smile is soft once more, welcoming --

*Accepting* --

Her eyes are so *bright* a green --

"Helena," Barbara says again, and raises her eyebrows *slightly*.

And Bruce realizes that he's straining against the chains again --

That he's *aching* --

All *over* --

"*Fear*," he blurts, and it feels like the deepest possible confession, the darkest --

"Oh, Bruce. We both knew you're afraid of her already," and Barbara strokes his hair. "We know you -- and love you for precisely who you are."

Bruce blinks and shudders again --

Nods helplessly --

"My fluids are drying, Bruce --"

"*Touch*. I. The softness of her abdomen before -- before No Man's Land."

Barbara takes a quick, soft breath. "She has a treasure trail...."

Bruce moans. "I. I would -- stroke it. Learn its softness and." Bruce swallows and strains to scent her --

No, *Barbara* --

Bruce shudders *again* --

"More, Bruce..."

"I. Her scars. Her scars as she -- I set her up to *fail* --"

"You really did, boss --"

Barbara gestures Dick to silence *sharply* without turning away from Bruce. "Because you were afraid of her."

Bruce groans and nods, strains --


Bruce grunts and kneels still, *steady* --

And Barbara drags the phallus over and over Bruce's lips. He knows --

He knows he is not supposed to lunge -- or even try to. The scent is --

He is shuddering again. He --

He looks a *plea* into Barbara's eyes --

"Tell me your fear, Bruce. It's all right. You're safe here."

"There -- there *is* no safety --"

Barbara shows her teeth. "There is when I *say* there is, Bruce. And right now... it's only the three of us. And whatever Clark can hear while he's smothering Kon-El."

Dick snickers -- and cuts himself off with a hum.

Barbara's expression is *avid* --

And he owes them both his honesty. His -- "I feared. I feared she would bring death to Batgirl."

She sighs. "You know better now, don't you?"

Bruce shudders. "Yes. She -- she respected the symbol too much, then."

"She still does... in her way," Barbara says, and watches him take that in, watches him *try* to --

"I. I don't understand."

"I know, Bruce. None of this will come right away. Open wide."

Bruce's penis twitches with helpless *greed* -- he opens his mouth --

And Barbara guides her phallus in, coating Bruce's tongue with her fluids, which are salt and sweetness and musk, at once --

Bruce sucks and *groans* --

Barbara begins to thrust. Slowly. Slowly and --

She pushes in so *deeply* -- but not so deeply that Bruce would have to attempt to swallow the phallus, which is unforgivingly hard plastic. Bruce closes his eyes --

"No, Bruce."

Bruce shudders and opens his eyes again, tries to work himself --

He can't. The collar around his neck is chained *firmly* to the floor with no give, at all. His wrists are locked behind his back. His legs are free, but that's meaningless with the chains. He can *only* kneel -- no. He can moan his pleasure and suck, and lick, and moan *more* --

"Oh -- God, I -- I mean. I can stay quiet."

Barbara laughs and wags a finger at Dick. "You *had* your chance with this mouth."

"I -- want more chances? I want more chances."

"Too bad," Barbara says, pulling out --

"*Please* --"

"Shh, Bruce. We're not done."

"I -- another fantasy?"

"More of the *first* fantasy."

And Huntress is in his mind, smiling sharply as she applies her plum-colored lipstick for another night of the work, secrets bolts all over her person, strokes over and over bruises -- "I want. I've wanted to massage her. To -- oil her skin."

Barbara clucks her tongue. "With that complexion? She wouldn't thank you."

"A simple extra virgin olive oil, infused with aromatics, could... it's quite... quite an old method --"

"Oh, boss, talk *Classics* to us!"


"Yes, I *do* deserve punishment, Babs, but --"

"*Grip* your balls, Man Wonder," Barbara says and turns Bruce's head enough that he can see Dick again. 

Dick is kneeling at the foot of the bed --

He grunts and bites his lip -- and grips, eyes widening at once, hazing over with deeper arousal. He squeezes himself very *hard* --

He flushes *dark* --

And Bruce thinks he can *taste* his sweat. He --

"Harder, Dick."

A strangled noise --

A whimper and a *powerful* twitch --

"Please, Babs -- please, I'll be good --"

"I doubt that... but this isn't *for* you. *Pump* your sac."

"Oh -- *God*, Jay should've *had* this --"

Bruce grunts --

Barbara gasps -- and laughs. "*Some* of us haven't given up on random resurrections," and she turns Bruce back to face her. "You've massaged her. *Oiled* her. What next?"

Bruce shudders again. "I watch. I watch Dick with her. I watch them making love, and it's... rough. Despite Dick's best efforts to the contrary --"

"*Don't* interrupt, Dick," Barbara says without turning.

"*Yee* -- okay."

"Are there... bruises, Bruce?"

Bruce swallows and fills his mind with shadows --

A *different* musk --

"On her thighs. On -- on his back and shoulders. There are -- welts, as well."

Barbara hums. "She *did* used to like wearing her nails a little too long... well. What else?"

"Dick... isn't using a condom --"

Dick makes a strangled sound --

"Keep *going*, Bruce."

"Yes. Yes. He spends himself in her vagina. I -- tear him away --"

Barbara gasps again and smiles. "To save him...?"

"Yes -- no -- I bury my face in her sex --"

"Are you trying to *save* him?"

Bruce groans and strains -- no. No. For this, he can obey. He *should* obey. He looks up into her sea-green eyes --

Her beautiful eyes --

"In the fantasy, I tell myself that I wish to save him, but I truly don't. I wish to share with him in that moment, to share *her* with him, to taste..." Bruce lets his mind fill -- "She used to use... traditional hand-dipped beeswax candles. From... a convent, I believe..." Bruce swallows again and tries to think --

It's harder to *focus* --

And then he's *shouting*, because Barbara is touching Bruce's penis with the sheath on her left foot, and the vibration --

The vibration *she* only feels when she *wishes* to --

It blinds. It aches. It *reminds* Bruce that he's been erect for the better part of an *hour* --

And that thrusting only makes the matter more -- excruciating --

Barbara pulls her foot back --

Bruce shouts again for the *loss* --

And Dick moans from the bed. He -- the sounds suggest that he's masturbating himself again *slowly* --

And Barbara cups Bruce's face tenderly. "Better, Bruce?"

It -- hm. "Yes. I... that's very strange."

Barbara smiles. "Not really. I just... refocused you a little. That sort of thing is *usually* helpful... according to people who do this rather more often than I do."

"I. I would have this... often."

"Mmm. We'll see. Do you fuck her in the fantasy, Bruce?"

Bruce swallows and -- accepts the profanity. "No. I make love to her with my mouth until she achieves orgasm several times. Until... until she is too weary to try to converse."

Dick snorts --

And Barbara hums. "Noted. I'm going to reward you for that."

"Oh... Barbara..."

"Come here, Dick --"

And Dick tumbles off the bed and jogs over. He is erect, and his scrotum is mildly swollen and dark with blood -- but not as dark as his slim and lovely penis. He --

"Fuck his mouth, Man Wonder."

"Oh -- thank you thank you thank --"

"*Now*," Barbara says, stepping back -- and gripping Dick's scrotum from the back --

"*Nnh* -- oh, boss, I -- I really love you, and I love you for doing this --"

Barbara growls --

*In*, then, and they groan together. They --

"Oh -- *God*, I could never -- I never wanted this *enough*," Dick says, and begins thrusting immediately --

"You wanted the other way around, of course," Barbara says, cupping Dick's hip with her free hand and pressing close enough that her phallus peeks out from between Dick's thighs and bumps Bruce's *chin* --

"Yes -- *God*, yes, all the *time* --"

"You wanted him to... take you."

Dick nods frantically and strokes Bruce's hair, his cheeks --

"Take you over, Dick...?"

"Always -- just the *best* --"

Barbara strokes the hollow of Dick's hip. "Come in his mouth, Dick."

Dick cries out and seizes --

Shudders --

And Bruce can only groan and suckle, *take* as he strains to touch, to feel --

If he could only have the hair on Dick's legs --

The sweat on the backs of his knees --

The livid and frightening *tautness* of his many, many scars --

He has Dick's penis, and his taste, and his steady leak of pre-ejaculate. He has Dick's *wildly* powerful thrusts, and the sight of him dazed and hungry, *lost* --

And Bruce sucks harder, because he'd dreamed of this a thousand times -- *more*. Because Robin always rises above. Because even the Bat must kneel in worship to --

To the brighter things --

Born on the first day of *spring*, and surely his parents had known that for an omen in and of itself? Surely they had understood the true meaning of *treasure* --

And Dick cries out --

Thrusts *oddly* --

Cries out again and again, but *not* for his rhythm --

And Barbara is smiling at Bruce from over Dick's shoulder. Both of her hands are hidden now -- she's taking him.

She --

Bruce grunts and *begs* with all of himself, with his eyes and body and spasming penis --

Dick goes *rigid*, tense beyond all *reason* -- and begins to ejaculate. Clark had brought him to orgasm before, blurring around and around Dick's suspended body as they all *watched* --

And Bruce can't help feeling as though there isn't *enough* ejaculate, as though he's been --

Not *cheated*. Clark would never -- no, the answer is the same as it always is, as it always *has* been: he is a creature of greed. There will never, *can* never be enough --

"Ooh. Very pretty, boys."

"Nuh. Buh?"

Barbara laughs softly. "Breathe," she says, and the particular tension in Dick's body -- especially his thighs -- tells Bruce that she is pulling out. She sighs. "I really need to remember to keep the gloves *near* the chains. Talk amongst yourselves while I clean up."

Dick gurgles his assent and pets Bruce's forehead. He's swaying lightly on his feet, and --

He hasn't pulled out of Bruce's mouth. Hm. Bruce uses his tongue to press Dick's softening penis against his palate --

"Oh God."

Bruce *rubs* Dick with his tongue --

"Nuh -- megh -- okay, no, stop," and Dick pulls out and drops into a crouch, laughing softly and breathlessly --

"I'm sorry --"

"No, you don't get to apologize for that. You..." Dick grins and kisses Bruce warmly, *firmly* --

Bruce strains to get closer --

"Oh, hey, none of that -- God, I can't believe that isn't *killing* your *neck* --"

"The restraints are quite well-made, Dick. And padded, as well."

"Yeah, yeah, I -- I'd go crazy in those. In *seconds*."

Bruce smiles. "You've never been inclined to stop moving."

"And somehow -- *somehow* -- you love that."

"It -- often made me fear when I was younger, Dick --"

"But now it doesn't...?" And Dick cocks his head to the side, honestly curious --

"I would like to stroke your face."

"Heh. Admit it -- part of how touchy you've been lately is you *knowing* how long Babs is willing to keep you tied up."

"It does tend to... focus one's desires," Bruce says, licking his lips and tasting Barbara *and* Dick --

His penis twitches --

Dick's focus... shifts. And he narrows his eyes. "I wonder what Babs plans to do with that."

"I've decided not to try to predict. And... you've taught me that it's foolish to fear for you far more often than it isn't."

"Even with me bouncing around like a maniac?"

"Even then. Please... may I have a kiss?"

"Oh -- Bruce --"

"The answer is no, boys," Barbara says, and she gestures Dick back to the bed. She's still wearing the phallus, but it's obviously been wiped clean -- and thus certainly also thoroughly disinfected. "Good conversation without me?"

"Yes, Barbara."

"Goodness, yes. Bruce is kind of the self-esteem fairy these days."

Barbara smiles and plants her palms on her softly rounded hips. "Dinah always told me that he just needed more orgasms."

"I -- hm."

"Yes, Bruce? Did you have a comment, perhaps...?"

Oh -- dear. Bruce blushes.

Barbara... purrs. "Talk."

"I -- Barbara --"

"Talk... or I *don't* fuck you up the ass with Oracle Junior here."

Dick splutters --

And Bruce... considers.

There are parts of him which want him to consider much *faster* -- and Bruce already knows what those parts want. What they crave. What they -- need. Denying himself now, when everything is so close, when he can smell Barbara even more than he could *before* --

Bruce inclines his head. "It has often seemed to me, in the past, that Dinah believes many situations could be improved via the addition of orgasms."

Barbara bites the tip of her tongue, eyes sparkling.

Dick coughs.

"I... not that there is anything... wrong... with that sort of belief system --"

"Oh, Bruce. We're going to have such a good time when it's her turn with you."

"You don't think Green Arrow would object --"

"I *do* think *Ollie* would object. *Strenuously*. Which will be all the more amusing for me and my Birds," Barbara says, and scratches his scalp. "Tim."

Bruce shivers. "You... a fantasy?"


"I... there are many --"

"So says the *glorious* footrub Dick gave me just a couple of hours ago. You only need to pick one... but you have thirty seconds to do it."

Oh --

There is the tourmaline-green silk negligee which he'd placed near the back of Tim's disguise closet -- but that would involve sharing far too many of Tim's secrets. That *hope* --

That need.

The same difficulty is present for the fantasy involving a carefully made-up and maturely dressed Tim accompanying Bruce Wayne to dinner, a show --

Dancing --

"Fifteen seconds."

Or... older fantasies would, perhaps, work as well --

No, he can't -- the fantasies he'd had of *taking* Tim in his parents' house are obscene now, wrong and -- and *ill-fitting* --

"Ten seconds," Barbara says, and takes a step *back* --

Bruce groans --

"C'mon, boss, you can do it --"

"His bedroom," Bruce blurts, flexing his arms uselessly, *wanting* --

"*Which* bedroom, Bruce...?"

Bruce -- fights past the shame. "In the manor. In." Bruce swallows. "He was so young."

"Whoa. *That's* the fantasy you picked?"

Barbara gestures Dick to silence. "Would the others have broken a confidence, Bruce?"

"Yes. And... and I am too ashamed of others."

"But not of this one? When Tim was... fourteen?"

"Thirteen," Bruce says, and looks up to meet her eyes. "He was still in training. He was... he trusted me."

Dick blows out a breath --

And Barbara's expression glitters as she comes closer once more. "Go on."

"It was... he had worked himself extremely hard, forcing his body to build strength it simply did not desire at the time. When he tried to do his stretches that night..."

("*Oh* -- um.")

"He... he'd usually been so silent, so --" Bruce shakes his head. "I had learned that it took much for Tim to voice his pain, and so I was... alerted. I had, at that time, finally come to understand how much -- how badly -- I needed him at my side. I --

"I had not accepted my desires."

"You rubbed him down."

"Yes, Barbara. He couldn't even jump up onto the massage table himself, and shame made him flush. His beautiful skin... I stripped him down to his simple briefs. He began hardening immediately. I... said something meaningless about the vicissitudes of adolescence in the hope that he would laugh. He blushed harder and nodded. I... began to dream."

Barbara slicks the phallus with medical-grade lubricant and strokes herself in much the same way -- oh.

"Tim's rhythm."

"Oh, yes."

"Oh -- are you -- both of you -- oh, that's *dirty*!"

Barbara chuckles.

Bruce... cannot look away. "I dreamed of relaxing him, at first. Of... all the sorts of things I could do to make him find his ease. I imagined tickling him, bathing him, playing hide and seek as I had with Dick so long ago... nothing seemed *plausible* -- or better than rubbing him."

"Did you love him with your hands?"

"Not at first... but yes. He could feel the change in my touches immediately, and his tension began to grow once more... until I told him that it was 'all right' in the Batman's voice." Bruce smiles ruefully --

"That relaxed him immediately."

"And perfectly, Barbara. I... my dreams changed, and I was carrying him in my arms to his bedroom. I was suited up as I was as often as possible in those days. Alfred... Alfred rarely scolded after Jason..." Bruce swallows --

And Barbara cups his face with her free hand and strokes his cheekbone. "It *is* all right, Bruce."

"I believe I -- no. I *know* that I taught him to accept the Batman's comfort over my own, and that. That wounds me --"

"You'll teach him *better*, boss --"

"Perhaps," and Bruce strains to feel more pressure from Barbara's hand --

She presses more firmly.

"Thank you --"


"Yes, Barbara. In my dream, I carried him to his bedroom. He was... nearly asleep, but struggling to remain awake enough for further orders and demands. Dick and Jason were just the same. I -- I thought that. I thought that and I shook, because my desires were plain to me, at last, and it seemed that every thought I'd had about what a good partner Tim could be to me were lies. A *tissue* of lies."

"Oh, Bruce..." Barbara sighs and shakes his head. "Wanting something for one reason does not preclude *needing* that same thing for some *other* reason."

"A simple concept -- and a difficult one to accept when one finds oneself massaging the gluteal muscles of a thirteen-year-old boy and aching to *spread* --"

And Dick moans. Quite loudly.

Barbara hums and turns to look at him.

"Look, Tim just *told* me that he wants me and has *been* fantasizing about me --"

"And that you still can't have any, yes. Bruce...?"

"I have found myself wondering, more than once, if Tim might not have been more receptive to advances... before."

Dick sighs. "God, yeah. The way he used to *look* at me --"

"Eyes wide; soft, pink lips parted... hn. You boys are pathetic," Barbara says, and strokes her phallus in Dick's rhythm --

Bruce's --

Some other man's altogether?

"Clark -- when he slows down enough for company," and Barbara walks around behind Bruce -- and presses her sheathed foot to the small of Bruce's back --

Bruce grunts and *flexes* --

"*This* is why waiting is a *problem*."

"Babs, you made *me* wait --"

"Until you were -- nominally -- an adult. As you can see, I've given up waiting for Bruce entirely."

Bruce coughs. "Barbara."

"Yes...? Are you going to *protest* that, Brucie-I-mean-Batman-I-mean-Matches-I-mean-the-guy-who-wants-to-go-back-in-time-to-bang-a-tween?"

Dick *snorts* --

"And about that. What *did* you want to do to that sleepy, sleepy little boy?"

Bruce closes his eyes --

Barbara presses her foot to his *scrotum* --

"*Please* -- I. I wanted to *touch*. I wanted to learn his every... his every *texture*."

"With your fingers?"

"My lips, my tongue -- I wondered if he'd ever fantasized about having the head of a penis dragged over his lips --"

Dick moans -- "Okay, so apparently I'm getting hard again. That's *fair*, but why am I not kidnapping Tim over here against his will?"

"Because *he's* working," Barbara says, and *bounces* Bruce's scrotum on her foot. "More, Bruce."

"I wanted. I knew he had taken himself. I had heard him doing it. The unmistakable sounds... he would cry out for the *Batman* --"

"Oh -- God. He did that when *I* was Batman --"


"In reality, I had begun to all but *molest* him, turning him and moving him... he would periodically drift off into full sleep despite his powerful erection. I picked him up in my arms. I carried him up the stairs, feeling strange and wrong in only my workout clothes." Bruce licks his lips. "Please. Please... may I have a kiss?"

"Not yet, Bruce. More."

"Yes, Barbara. I dreamed as I walked, and then as I jogged. I carried him... I carried him all the way to my own bedroom -- he was snoring lightly and didn't notice, even as I stood in my doorway and clutched and *shook*."

Barbara sighs and moves back around in front of him. "You carried him to *his* bedroom...."

"I... tucked him in. Without his pajamas. With. I held my bare hand over his erection -- *pinned* behind his briefs. I felt his heat. I stroked the air and dreamed... I nearly *woke* him..."

"And then?"

"He opened his eyes. And called me... Batman." Bruce laughs softly and strains reflexively, needfully. "I wanted the uniform. I knew I didn't *deserve* the uniform. I told him -- I *ordered* him to sleep. And I did not kiss his soft, innocent smile before I left the room."

"And jerked yourself *raw*?"

Bruce laughs again. "Twice, as a matter of fact. And then I wept, because I knew Jason would've wanted to protect Tim from me."

"Boss --"

"Probably," Barbara says, and cocks her head to the side --

"*Babs* --"

"Tim was a very, very young boy once, Man Wonder. You know that."

"I -- he grew up so *fast* --"

"No arguments," and Barbara steps closer. "Now, if *I* were more serious about my occasional desire to fist your little brother, Dick --"

"*What* --"

"I would've nabbed him, say, one of the times he came here to huddle for warmth during No Man's Land. A year spent with Bruce, Alfred, and the Case, those months on the street, and, yes, all of that unrelenting *horror* aged him up *quite* nicely for my tastes --"

"Babs --"

"Shh, Dick. Mama's turn now," and she loosens the harness, tugs the phallus to the side, and presses her pubis to Bruce's face. "Pretend, if you'd like, that Tim was just turned into --"

"*No*," Bruce says, and kisses her pubis, her outer labia --

He tugs at the fox-fur-red hair --

He *sucks* at the fluids shining on the *longer* hairs --

"Oh... all right. *Don't* make me wait," she says, and spreads her labia with the fingers of one hand --

Bruce kisses her clitoris --

Bruce breathes deeply and kisses again, again --

"Mmm. Too *much* like Dick, Brucie..."

Bruce slurs a terrible laugh. "Sorry about that, crumpet, I just get over*whelmed* sometimes..."

Barbara chokes and slaps him --

"All right, I'm going to go back to thinking about the fisting."

Bruce hums --

Barbara *growls* -- "When you think about it -- my hands are *quite* small --"

"I've had your fingers *in* me, Babs! *Recently*."

Bruce *sucks* --

"*Mnh* --" And Barbara giggles and grinds. "And you did... ooh, oh -- very well -- oh, Bruce --"

*Bruce* growls and strains to be able to reach her urethra, the vestibule of her vagina --

"No, no, be *good*, Bruce --"

Bruce grunts and suckles her clitoris again, teasing it with his tongue until it swells more, *burgeons* --

"Ah -- Bruce and I have *seen* Tim's toys, Dick. Nnh. All of -- *nnh* -- them --"

Dick groans -- and begins to stroke himself faster --

"He has one in black and blue..."

"Oh -- *fuck* --"

Barbara laughs again, breathless and *heavy* --

She *rocks* her hips against Bruce's face --

"That's -- mm. You're *going* to make me come, Bruce. And then you'll tell me another fantasy. And then... you get what you want. Do you understand?"

Bruce nods and laps at her, nuzzles her as much as he can --

He *aches* --

Helena -- he would've given this to Helena --

He would've *taken* this from Tim --

But what *would* he do if he were ever changed? Could Bruce ask Zatanna for such a thing?

Would it be a gift? For *whom*?

And then the sheath from Barbara's right leg migrates --

It's like suckling electricity, a live wire, something humped and *alive* -- *more* alive --

And Bruce remembers the X-rays and MRI scans from nearly five years ago --

The terrible damage, the obscene *loss* --

The *stillness* of Barbara's body in the hospital, and the way her legs hadn't moved at all --

She'd seemed so *small* --

And Clark had pulled him out onto the roof of the hospital while Jason stayed with her, worried and so *angry* --

("There is... my companion, I believe there is something *I* can do --"

"*Do* it."

"I must *ask* --"

"Her permission. No. No one else's."

"Of course.")

Jim had been there to watch Clark injecting the nanites into Barbara's arm --

Jim had stared at *him*, anger and fear and hope and *hurt* warring in his bloodshot grey eyes --

And then Barbara's eyes had turned *black* as she began speaking with the AI's voice, laughing with *Lara's* voice --

And moving again, beautiful and graceful and correct before the colonization was even partially complete. Jim's hand had been around his throat when her eyes slipped back to green and her voice became her own again --

And a part of Jim will never forget that moment of hating him -- *loathing* him --

Not now, not *that*, because she's Barbara now, Barbara forever, beautiful and strong and right as she *slams* her vulva against his face, as she grunts and cries out over and over again --

Bruce wants to hold her *hips* --

Bruce's *tongue* is numb -- but he can still taste her, slick and ripe and *ready* --


And he's behind her in an instant, cupping her breasts -- heavier and softer now than once they were --

Kissing her the way Bruce *longs* to do --

Tugging on and toying with her long, roseate nipples --

Bruce groans --

Gasps when the sheaths migrate again, because the flavors seem stronger, the pleasure seems --

Barbara is crying out and *pumping* her hips --

"C'mon, Babs, you're almost there..."

"Fuck -- *fuck*, Bruce, *suck* -- *hnh* --"

And Bruce hums while he's doing it, giving the vibration back to her, needing more --

And getting it when the shudders take her whole body, when she claws at his scalp and whimpers --

When she slams against his face one last time and screams, loud and beautiful and *free*.

But Dick is the one who can catch her when she slumps, who can kiss her and *touch* --

Bruce shudders.

Bruce shudders and *waits*, and he doesn't -- he doesn't have to *yank* against the chains --

He's not yet a *beast* --

"Mmm -- mm -- enough, Dick," she says, reaching up to pat Dick's cheek before standing straight again -- and rearranging her phallus. "That was... perfect," and she pushes three fingers into Bruce's mouth --

Bruce lips them, licks and *pleads* with his eyes --

"I think... yes. Unchain him, Dick."

"*Anything* you say --"

"*Don't* kiss him, yet."

Bruce squeezes his eyes shut and strains -- no. No. He opens his eyes and waits, and Dick is as deft and quick as he always is, as gentle and right as he massages the tension out of Bruce's back and shoulders --

Bruce can't keep it from coming *back* --

"Come on, boss, we're almost there."

"Yes. Yes. I..." Bruce shakes his head and stands, stretching as much as he can --

Feeling himself taut and -- and *hulking* --

But Barbara is staring at him avidly, seemingly *studying* Bruce's height and breadth -- "On the bed, hands and knees."

"Yes, Barbara --"

"Oh, and -- stay near the edge."

Bruce swallows and obeys --

"Dick... get him *good* and slick."

"Can I just say that I'm not even *remotely* used to this?"

Barbara laughs softly from Bruce's blind spot -- "How *many* times have you fantasized Dick inside you, Bruce?"

"Many -- countless --" Bruce pants and hangs his head. Robin should -- no. *Honesty*. "Robin should be -- *is* -- always above."

"Oh -- boss," and Dick's hands are familiarly rough, hard --

He'd never taken to moisturizing them the way Bruce did with his hands --

("I'm a *circus* boy, Bruce! I'm *supposed* to have good hands!")

Always --

*Always* --

"Okay, I -- oh, Bruce..."

Breach, and it feels as if it's been years --

*Decades* instead of merely days --

"You're so *hot* inside, I --" And Dick mutters something unintelligible, tonally complimentary --

"Dick. *Please*."

Dick gasps and crooks his fingers immediately --

Bruce grunts and *clutches* at the duvet. He -- he can smell Barbara and Dick here --

He can almost *taste* them --

And then Barbara crawls onto the bed and lounges -- in range for him to kiss her shins, and knees --

"Would you have had Clark shoot me up with all those nanites *without* my permission...?"

Bruce winces --

Pants for the feel of Dick speeding his fingers --

And Barbara taps Bruce's mouth with her big toe --

Bruce kisses it --

"*Naughty*. Answer the question."

"I -- nn -- I would like to believe I wouldn't have done so."

Barbara laughs and *presses* her toe against Bruce's mouth --

"Please," Bruce slurs --

"Clark. Specifically, a *fantasy* about Clark... because I don't *quite* need him here with us at this moment."

"He's *probably* still bonding with Kon-El, Babs."

"Or doing something else with him, yes."

Bruce blinks --

He can't seem to blink away the *images* --

Because Clark... if anyone has a right to incest, it's the man missing the vast majority of his species --

Of course, Bruce would be shocked if that reason were anywhere near the top *fifteen* --

"*Someone* looks amused," Barbara says, and circles her areolae with her index fingers --

"Ooh -- is it me? Because I can look other ways --"

"Shh, Dick. Tell us all about it, Bruce."

"Yes, Barbara. I -- *hnh* --"

"I can't believe you can *take* three of my fingers, boss."

"Not. Not without... profundity of... please."


"Yes, I -- I was musing... on the catholic nature of Clark's... sexuality. Please."

"Soon, Bruce. Did his nature bring to mind a fantasy...?"

"Not -- he." Bruce shakes his head. "I am in his Fortress. I am... restrained. In this position -- nearly exactly."

Barbara hums. "What's different?"

"The head of my penis has been pierced --"

Dick grunts --

Barbara grins *delightedly* --

"-- and..." Bruce licks his lips and struggles not to clench, not to --

He must *feel* this --


"There is a weight. Dragging -- my penis is pointed towards the bed-like surface I'm on."

Barbara sighs. "I like you, Bruce. Do you like him, Dick?"

"Oh -- tons. I really -- there are parts of my body which like him even *more* than tons. Just to put that out there," and Dick's thrusts are long, steady, *relentless* --

Bruce shudders and moans --

Barbara -- giggles. "I'll think about it. More of the *fantasy*, Bruce."

"Yes. Yes. He's using -- a mixture of the muscle relaxing... lubricant -- *please* --"


"Oh -- sorry. Reflex," and Dick stops rubbing at Bruce's prostate.

Bruce pants more, *shudders* more -- "He is -- he is stretching me *quickly*. Opening me seemingly for... his whole hand --"

"Would you like that, my companion?" And Clark is seated beside him on the bed -- and eating what seem to be 'tater tots' from Punkin' Pastries. His eyes are hopeful --

And Barbara and Dick are laughing and snorting together.

Bruce smiles. "I would welcome you back... were it my place."

"That's really not an answer, Bruce --"

"Clark," and Barbara sits up and raises an eyebrow at him.

Clark sighs and points mutely at Bruce --

"Hmm. *After* Dick. And me. Maybe."

"*Nnh* --" And Bruce's penis twitches, spasms --

Spatters the *bed* --

"You -- Babs, I haven't done anything *like* that since I was a *Titan* --"

"And whose fault is that, Man Wonder?"

"I -- hm. All right, I'm shutting up. For *now*."

And Clark beams happily at all of them. "Kon-El sends his regards, by the way," and then he wags a finger at Bruce. "Though he has very uncomplimentary things to say to *you* about your allowing Tim to spend so much time alone with Luthor and his psychopaths."

"Perhaps. Perhaps if Tim were enjoying himself. Less. *Please* --"

Barbara hums. "Dick, are you hitting his prostate *again*?"

"I -- we *could* always give Bruce a cock ring --"

And Clark is holding one and looking hopeful again --

And Barbara smiles. "No. Tug on his sac."

"Oh -- *mean*. You're a mean woman, Babs, and -- and -- meanies never prosper," Dick says, and seemingly *yanks* --

Bruce *shouts* --

"*Talk*, Bruce."

"Oh, yes, please," Clark says, leaning in --

"Don't kiss him, Clark."

Clark makes a distressed noise --

Bruce makes one of his own -- but he owes this. He owes -- "I feel myself... stretched nearly beyond. Beyond *endurance*. I'm -- sweating. I can smell myself. I'm salivating as well. Aching and *needing*."

Barbara purrs. "Like now...?"

"Yes. And more. I can't *speak*."

"Hunh. Does that *ever* happen, boss? I mean -- more than emotionally."


"Right, right, okay. He's ready, Babs. For me, for you -- and we can *get* him ready for Clark."

"Hmm... pull out."

"*Please* --"

"Shh, Bruce. It's almost time."

Bruce groans and shudders again --

And can't hold back a whimper when Dick pulls out. He is -- so empty.

He is clenching on *nothing* --

"You know what to do, Bruce."

"I. Yes. He speaks to me in Kryptonian. He... whispers endearments and encouragements which are... objectively filthy. He tells me that I must give my all, that I am... a beautiful slave --"

Clark gasps --

Bruce nods helplessly. "He tells me that I *must* be brought to heel, that I *will* be. That I will understand what it means to belong to... to someone *better*."

"*Bruce* --"

"Hush, Clark."

"But --"

"Mama. Is. Listening."

Clark moans and clutches himself through his trunks and tights -- "As you say."

And Dick begins to massage Bruce's back once more --

And Barbara nods. "Go on, Bruce."

"He -- I am blind with it. On the edge of pleasure and exquisite suffering. He has made there be a mirror in front of me -- I can see all of myself. He tells me that this is what I have asked for countless times... and I can only agree."

Clark moans --

Barbara hums. "Would you be calling him 'Kal' if you could speak?"

"In the fantasy... in the fantasy I'm not sure. I go... back and forth --"

"Oh, goodness -- ah. Barbara --"

"Be *patient*, Clark," and Barbara reaches between her legs and begins to play idly with her clitoris. "More, Bruce."

Bruce claws at the duvet -- no. "There is... little else. Often I achieve orgasm by this point --"

Clark *growls* -- "Oh -- sorry --"

Barbara gestures for *silence* --

And Clark stops breathing. Simply -- stops.

Dick's breathing is rough and heavy --

His touch on Bruce's back is somehow even less clinical than Bruce's had been on Tim all those years ago --

"What happens if you *haven't* come by then?"

Bruce licks his lips and looks up. "He whispers orders to the Fortress -- too quickly and quietly for me to parse. The bed grows tendrils which wind around and *into* my penis --"

Clark's penis twitches *powerfully* --

"*Talk* --"

"They. They hold me still more effectively than anything else *could*, Barbara. I am... taken and unmanned at once." Bruce swallows dryly. "He pulls his fingers out of me too quickly, once more, for me to parse the motions. And then he enters me slowly... achingly slowly." Bruce clenches on nothing and groans. "I never last beyond that point."

Barbara sighs and rolls onto her knees. "Kneel up, Bruce."

"Yes, Barbara."

She cups his face and smiles at him, warm and loving and so happy --

"I. I love you."

"And I love you," she says, and kisses him softly, deeply --

Bruce's hands twitch at his sides -- no. He *reaches* --

But she pulls back and licks his lips before he can touch. "Can you handle being inside me without coming?"

Bruce twitches and grunts again, scrotum *tightening* -- "I -- no."

"Then that can wait. *In* him, Dick -- and don't be slow."

Dick moans and grips Bruce's hips. "Fast -- fast I can *do* --" And he massages more -- "God, Bruce, this is -- you *know* what this is for me, don't you?"

Bruce opens his mouth -- stops and looks to Barbara --

Who smiles and nods, stroking Bruce's mouth.

"It must seem... it must seem that I demanded to have you on your knees -- or hands and knees -- every day --"

"*Yes*. Everything you did -- everything you *were*."

Bruce closes his eyes and tilts his head back. "Sometimes... sometimes I can only demand. Even when I wish, more than anything, to beg."

Dick moans again --

Releases Bruce's right hip --

And guides himself in. He is -- this, at least, is relatively easy physically. Nothing else will be --

And it says nothing about the emotion of this, of Dick doing this for -- somehow -- only the *second* time --

"So many -- so many *years* --"

"Oh -- boss --"

"I." Bruce shakes and looks to Barbara once more. "Please. Please let me drop onto my hands once more --"

"No. Your elbows," she says, and her smile is *bladed* welcome --

"Thank you, Barbara," Bruce says, dropping himself --

And he and Dick both shout for the shift in angle --

And Clark has gone back to *eating* as he lounges beside him -- though his eyes speak of far greater enjoyment than what could be gained from... from deep-fried *potatoes* --

He thinks --

And Bruce hadn't expected to laugh, and so it comes out breathless and -- many-noted --

"Oh, *boss*, I -- tell me -- Babs, let him tell me *again* --"

Bruce looks up --

And Barbara inclines her head, parting her lips -- as she parts her lips.

Bruce groans -- "*Everything*, Dick --"

"Even --"

"*Hard*, Dick --"

Dick cries out, high and *sharp* -- and then begins to thrust *fast* and hard. Not -- not quite brutally --

His rhythm --

The *grind* of his hips --

The slap of his swollen scrotum against Bruce's own --

Bruce groans and pants, letting himself salivate, letting himself imagine that Dick's Robin trunks are only puddled around his ankles --

That Dick's gauntlets are rough and *right* on his hips --

Oh -- no, not that. Dick is *Nightwing* now, and will be Nightwing unless and until some disaster strikes --

He is -- "So beautiful --"

"Bruce --"

"I *need* you -- "

"*Bruce*, oh -- ohn -- *ohn* --" And Dick is clawing at Bruce's hips --

Bruce clenches and feels himself flex and spasm once more --

Barbara pushes a hand into his hair --

Bruce clenches *harder* --

And Dick screams, shouts and *screams* -- "Oh -- fuck, I can last better than -- *nnh* --"

"Is he *holding* you, Dick...?"

"Yes -- oh, Babs -- oh -- he's so *hungry* --"

Bruce groans again and pants, tries to -- if he can clench *rhythmically* --

If --

But now *he's* shouting for Dick's thrusts, getting -- somehow getting *harder* --

He aches so *much* --

"Hnh -- hnh -- Babs -- *Bruce* --"

"He's *milking* you, isn't he?" And Barbara's voice is full of *sharp* happiness, *relish* --

"I -- I --" And Dick is shouting now, rolling his hips --

Shifting angle --

And Bruce grunts and shudders and shudders *more*. Every -- *every* thrust is aimed to drag against his prostate --


"Oh -- Bruce is definitely milking him, Barbara. Though it doesn't seem to be on purpose anymore."

"Hmm. Dick, tug on his sac again."

Dick cries out and does it --

Bruce groans like something -- something *wounded* --

"Oh -- *fuck*," and Dick covers him, bites the back of his neck and grinds in --

*In* --

And he cries out over and over --

He laps and salivates --

Bruce clenches *helplessly* --

"Oh, my," Clark says --

And Dick screams again and begins to ejaculate, clawing at Bruce's obliques and moaning as he thrusts seemingly as part of his involuntary orgasm response. The motions are that jerking, that *helpless* --

"I *love* you," Bruce says --

And Dick growls and pushes up, thrusting several more times until he's whimpering and blowing --

"Dick. Are you hurting yourself...?"

"I need -- he has to *come*, Babs --"

"*Not* yet," she says, and moves off the bed and behind Bruce. "Pull out."

"Nnh -- oh -- oh, fuck, wait, let me clip on your butterfly vibe --"

Barbara laughs. "Clark took care of that while I was on the bed."

Dick laughs and whimpers again. "Is it time for me to be decorative again?"

"Mm-hmm. Though you should feel free to help Clark jerk off onto Bruce's face."

Bruce clenches and gasps --

And Dick staggers on his feet, pulling out much too quickly --

Bruce beats at the duvet with his fist --

"Sorry! God -- I really need to fuck people up the ass more *often*," Dick says, laughing again and moving to sit beside Clark --

Who has taken Barbara's place on the bed. "I've always thought so," Clark says, and pops the last bit of potato into Dick's mouth --

And then there's the scent of soap and lubricant --

And Clark is slicking Dick's hand. "Perhaps you could start with your little brother?"

"He said *no*," Dick says, and twines his fingers with Clark's on Clark's penis --

"To *fellatio*. I don't think I can stress enough how *often* Tim takes himself with his fingers and toys -- oh -- oh, yes, *aim* me at Bruce." And Clark sighs and smiles at him. "My companion, you look *drugged*."

"I. I am -- oh. Barbara..."

"Oh, yes, Bruce. Your hole is spasming in... several inspiring ways."

Bruce laughs and moans. "I'm happy to -- *hnh* -- *oblige* --"

Barbara sighs. "Look how well you take this. Honestly, Bruce, you deserve to be *whipped* for *every* day you pretended you didn't want just this."

"More. More and --"

"And more than that? And more than *that*...?" Barbara hums and claws Bruce's *back* --

Bruce jerks and clenches --

"Oh -- I could feel -- yes, I *see* why the Man Wonder inspired himself so quickly --"

Dick snickers and strokes Clark *roughly* --

And *Clark* hums. "He really does get *wonderfully* needy, Barbara."

"*Greed* --"

"Shh, boss, we *like* that sort of thing around here."

"We really," Barbara says, and begins to thrust -- "really, *really* do --"

Bruce grunts and does it rhythmically, tries -- "The phallus. The... so hard..."

"We know that, Bruce. It feels... unnatural?"

Bruce shudders. "Cool and -- *strong* --"

Barbara laughs softly and thrusts faster. "No, you *can't* break it with your ass, but -- you're welcome to try."

"I thought he was going to break *me*," Dick says, and squeezes Clark's penis --

"Oh -- he breaks me every time. *Each* and every time. I lose my words, my bearings, my resolve..." Clark sighs and reaches down to play with his scrotum. "My beloved companion surpasses."

Dick snickers. "Everyone?"

"Ah -- hm."

"*Do* -- answer the question," Barbara says.

"Oh -- yes, Barbara," Clark says, and dips his head just so --

And Bruce's mind fills with images of Barbara taking Clark with some phallus shaped by the Fortress --

Clark straining and gritting his teeth --

Clark's eyes glowing as Barbara thrusts over and *over* --

"-- so, you see, I compare each lover solely to how I've imagined them to be."

"*Very* politic answer, Clark."

"Oh -- I'm willing to be interrogated. Viciously, even."

Barbara laughs --

Gasps --

"Oh, this vibe -- nnh. I need it stronger."

"Yes, one moment -- ah, it seems... perhaps if you were to thrust with a slightly more rightward angle, you would find the vibration better-placed than it is -- "

"*Ahn* -- *fuck*, *thank* you, Clark --"


And Barbara is growling now, thrusting and clawing at Bruce's hips as she thrusts --

So very *hard*. So --

Bruce feels himself beginning to shudder again, to ache --

This is Barbara's phallus. This --

This is Barbara's *pleasure* -- and it's difficult not to consider the thing to be a part of her --

As much as her *sheaths* --

Bruce groans and tries to take more of her, rocks and *pushes* himself at her --

"Oh -- no, Bruce, stay *still* --"

"*Please* --"

"Another *time*, big boy. For now, mama *really* needs you to stay. Right. *There*," she says, growling again, panting and *shoving* herself in him --

Thrust after *thrust* --

And Dick hums --

And Clark *sighs* --

And Bruce opens his eyes just in time to see Dick pulling his slick fingers out of his mouth --

"Okay, that would be better *without* the lube, but -- mmm..."

<<Would my companion enjoy a taste of what he *will* be fed...?>>

Barbara grunts. "*No*, Clark. Not until you come."

Clark sighs again and urges Dick to stroke him faster, squeeze him *harder* --

Bruce's scrotum feels more full than it *ever* has, more *tight* --

Tighter than his anus when he clenches --

When Barbara thrusts more *powerfully* --

And *this* is brutal, this --

She  is *forcing* her way in, *driving* her phallus within him even as her growls turn to croons --

The vibrator is *pleasing* her -- and so is he.

Bruce closes his eyes and hangs his head --

Lets himself be *moved* by it --

By the woman he's loved since she was barely more than a girl --

By the woman he's feared and feared *for*, lusted and *yearned* --

The scent of her so strong on the duvet --

Bruce nuzzles it and pants, gives *in* --

"Want -- *show* me, Clark --"

"Oh, Barbara -- I -- *soon* --"

And now Barbara is grunting, shoving harder --

*Faster* --

Bruce can't stop *shaking* --

And then there's a large, *hot* hand lifting his head by the hair --

<<*Feast*, my companion.>>

Barbara *chokes* on laughter --

And Bruce isn't quick enough to open his mouth before the first spatter of ejaculate hits him there, but he's ready for the next --

And the next --

And -- so on. By the end, he feels less marked than *sheathed* by a significantly less *helpful* portion of Kryptoniana --

But laughing makes him clench again --

Barbara cries *out* --

Oh --

Oh, *please* --

Bruce groans and *grips* the duvet --

"Hm -- not yet, I don't think," Clark says, moving -- and tugging on Bruce's scrotum --

This time, Bruce can't hold back a scream, can't keep himself from *clawing* at the duvet --

But that makes him miss far too much of *Barbara's* scream as she loses her rhythm and achieves her orgasm, digging into his hips with her short nails --

"Oh -- oh, *Bruce* --"

She thrusts once more and screams again --

She *claws* his hips -- "Bruce..."

Bruce pants and licks his lips. "Barbara, I... please."

"Oh, yes. You get to come as soon as you'd like... mm. Just as soon as I manage to pull out," she says, laughing softly and covering Bruce --

No, it's a hug, warm and firm and --

So *loving*, but --

"I can't -- Barbara, I *need* --"

"Then enjoy the feel of my *breasts*, Bruce, because standing is something that happens to other people right now."

Dick snickers --

"I believe I can be of assistance," Clark says -- and he is, of course, fully erect --

"Mmm. Lick him clean first. And kiss him *just* like you plan to fuck him until he screams your name."

"Oh, yes --"

And abruptly Clark is under him, cupping Bruce's face and licking him slowly --

Kissing him *deeply* --

Too quickly for Bruce to *catch* before he's licking again, nibbling and nuzzling --

Bruce pushes up on his hands --

But Clark's next kiss is wet, hot and slick, mineral and *sweet*, and Bruce shakes himself back down to his elbows for it --

Clenches around Barbara's phallus and cries out --

Clark takes his *mouth* --

And Bruce wants that, too, wants to share, to give --

To take and *be* taken --

He -- he can hear himself *slurring* things and he doesn't know what they *are* --

His penis feels like it's *throbbing* and he can't --

The kiss is making him *sob* --

"Oh -- I believe that's my cue," Barbara says, standing up and pulling out slowly --

Bruce shouts into Clark's mouth --

And the kiss migrates down Bruce's body to his nipples, his abdomen, his navel --

Clark *sucks* Bruce's penis *hard* -- and suddenly enough that Bruce can make no sound other than the one that comes when he coughs out all of his air. This can't --

*He* can't --

"Oh, boss, your *eyes*...."

But Bruce can't look at Dick, can't see --

He crawls forward and drops his head onto Dick's thigh, nuzzles and begs --

Surely he's begging aloud --

Surely that's what those sounds are --

"I've got you, Bruce. You're okay," Dick says, cupping the back of Bruce's neck --

And Barbara cups his cheek. "Everything is fine. Everything is..." She sighs and strokes him. "You're doing wonderfully. Perfectly."

Bruce nuzzles more and moans --

And gasps for the feel of Clark moving --

Clark *spreading* him --

Please -- please *please* --

"I *don't* think he can take a rimming right now, Clark."

"No, you're right," Clark says, and squeezes Bruce's buttocks firmly. "Another time." And he lets go with one hand --

He drags the head of his penis over and over Bruce's anus --

Bruce can feel the swelling and he wants, he wants so *badly* --

Someone strokes moisture from the corners of his eyes --

Someone groans with desperate *volume* --

But it's Clark who pushes in, who *takes* --

"Oh -- " <<My companion *takes* -- >>

Yes --

<<I must give, must -- there is *ease* between -- >> "Oh, *sweet* --"

Bruce groans and drags his face against Dick's thigh, tries to --

No, the only thing he must do is feel right now. The only thing --

The *perfect* thing --

He is full. He is... he is *aching*, but there *will* be relief --

He is *allowed* relief --

Clark's powerful and hot hands all over him --

Clark's *heat* within him --

<<My companion, I would have your *voice*.>>

"Go on, Bruce..."

"Can't. I. *Please* --"

Clark gasps and *flexes* within him --

"*Clark* --"

"That -- there could never be *enough*," Clark says, and begins to thrust -- no, he *rocks* within Bruce, easing himself --

Opening Bruce *more* --

So -- so *hot* --

And the salt in his mouth means that he's making love to Dick's thigh, that he's licking as he nuzzles, kissing as he bites --

"Oh... boss. Uh. Gimme a few?"

Barbara laughs. "I think he just... needs you."

*Yes*, always --

"My companion -- my beautiful friend needs -- *much* --"

*Always* --

"I would taste your *thoughts*, Bruce --"

"I have. I am only --" Bruce shakes his head and groans --

But he can work his hips now. Clark has no vibrator to *dislodge*. He --

Bruce pushes up on his shaking arms and *moves*, urging Clark to the rhythm he wants --

*Needs* --

"Oh -- *yes*, Bruce -- you're so -- you're going to be *raw* --"

"*Please* --"

"Anything, beloved friend, beautiful *friend* --" And Clark groans and matches his rhythm, his *speed* --

So -- the perfection --

Bruce drops again, and this time Barbara pulls him into her lap, cradles his head and strokes him --

They -- they're all *saying* things again, but their voices --

"Love -- "

"-- just take --"

"-- perfect like this, so --"

He can't *parse*, can't --

He can't stop *moving* --

No, he can kiss, and touch --

Barbara's skin is so *smooth* --

And then Bruce is jerking and crying out, losing his -- his *rhythm* --

Barbara hisses and moves him from her lap --

Oh, the *sheaths*. And Bruce tries to tell her it's all right, that he's pleasured --

Given --

But Dick is holding him --

Dick is hauling Bruce up onto his knees --

Bruce can't *balance* --

But Clark has an arm around Bruce's chest --

And Dick is holding Bruce's hip and cheek --

The kiss is warm, wet, *hungry*, because Bruce can't stop himself from trying to take every kind of kiss at once, can't stop himself from biting Dick's lip and licking his jaw --

Sucking his tongue --

Nuzzling and shouting and *groaning*, because Clark never stops, never *pauses* --

And then there are hands on his penis. On --

The touch --

He's twitching and *flexing* --

He throws his head back and shouts more, grinds the back of his head against Clark's shoulder --

Clark and Dick are feeling him as much as they're stroking, seeming to *test* his hardness --

Or how much he will call out? How much --

"*Please* --" And for a moment he's proud of himself for getting that *out* --

But Clark cries out --

Clark says it again, *again* --

And Bruce realizes that he's clenching *randomly* --

That he's panting and trying --

No, he wants another kiss, another --

Bruce leans forward -- and Barbara pulls him into a kiss with *both* her and Dick --

"My *companion* --"

The pain is -- so *bright* --

Clark and Dick squeeze at *once* --

And Bruce loses his vision to sound --

To *feeling*, to scent and *feeling* --

The sounds he's making are objectively -- objectively *terrible* --

"Oh, boss --"

"*Yes*, my companion --"

Barbara *purrs* --

Gradually, Bruce becomes aware that he's spasming all over, that he's *slamming* his hips back against Clark, forward against Barbara's soft-over-hard abdomen --

He can't stop --

It seems --

It seems to *last* --

And then he's on his back *between* Barbara and Dick --

Clark is rising *over* him -- "I can't -- you're *too* raw for this, but I need --"

"*Anything* --"

Clark cries out and thrusts against Bruce's abdomen --

His thigh --

His abdomen again, and the speed is impossible, the feel --

"More of your *weight*, Clark --"

Clark *yells*, voice breaking high -- and then he's *shoving* Bruce down against the bed, squeezing his eyes shut and clutching Bruce everywhere at *once* --

Bruce clenches and feels himself *blank* --

And comes back to himself for the feel -- the *taste* -- of Clark's semen-slick fingers in his mouth --

"Oh -- so beautiful --"

"I agree," Barbara says, and swipes semen from Clark's fingers to suck and *lick* --

Bruce clenches *again* --

Shouts --

And when he opens his eyes, Barbara and Dick are kissing over him --

"*Please*," Clark says, "I can't -- I can't focus --"

"You need to see the boss' face, Clark?"

"*Yes* --"

And Barbara and Dick move --

And Clark's eyes are unreadable, too bright to look at without squinting --

Beautiful. A *miracle* -- Bruce smiles helplessly. "I love you, Clark --"

Clark *barks* a sound, rhythm stuttering as he seizes --

Shouts --

And ejaculates all over Bruce. All --

Over. Hm.

Dick snickers. "Oh, *Superman*."

Clark pants and smiles ruefully. "Ah... terribly sorry."

Barbara snorts and licks a stripe of semen off Bruce's left pectoral. "Now I remember why I usually prefer this sort of thing to happen *elsewhere*. Bruce, if you roll over on this duvet, I'm *not* going to flog you next time."

Bruce hums. "I suppose I'll just... be still."

"Oh -- no, there has to be *snuggling* now," Clark says, and --

Bruce is clean. If somewhat... saliva-covered.

Clark licks his lips and smiles hopefully at all of them. And makes hugging motions with his arms.

Barbara scratches a circle around Bruce's nipple --

Bruce clenches again -- but doesn't quite lose touch with reality. His rectum is beginning to speak -- quietly still, but quite eloquently -- about the pain he's going to be feeling... soon. He takes Barbara's hand and kisses her knuckles. "Thank you. All of you."

Barbara smiles and presses close to Bruce's side. "You're welcome. Dick isn't, though."

"Hey --"

"You're *terrible* at this, Dick."

"I'm *not* --"

"You truly are," Clark says, arranging Dick against Bruce's other side before spooning up behind him. "Disobedient, disrespectful, hyperactive --"

"I -- uh. I'm just -- um."

Barbara hums. "It's okay, Man Wonder. Roy *warned* me what to expect from you before I ever decided to do it."

Dick sighs --

And Bruce strokes his hip. "I was quite entertained."

Dick snorts and smiles ruefully. "But *you* think I'm terrible at it, too."

Bruce licks his lips. "I think... hm. I think you were made for love in many, many forms... but not quite all. I don't believe anyone is truly made for all kinds of love."

"Which is why we all need to experiment to figure out which sorts work best for *all* of us."

"Oh -- all?" And Clark sits up enough to smile at Barbara.

Barbara shows her teeth. "*You* were disobedient, too, if I recall correctly."

Clark looks stricken. "I -- plead the heat of the moment?"

Barbara... shows more teeth.

And Clark hangs his head. <<This one does seek to abase.>>

"Maybe later," Barbara says, and turns back to Dick. "We'll find *other* ways to play when you're joining us."

Dick leans over Bruce and kisses Barbara's cheek. "*Anything* you say, Babs."

"Mm-hmm," and Barbara turns to Bruce. "How are you?"

Bruce reaches up to stroke her cheek. "I have felt as loved as I do at this moment before... but never more so. You are a wonderful, caring mistress. You bring me out of myself. You... give."

Barbara's smile turns soft, warm once more --

And then she leans into kiss him again, to make love to his mouth --

To give still *more* --

Bruce closes his eyes and accepts.


Tim spends much of the night at Club G, developing 'Spence Hollingsworth's' contacts and watching for signs of Lex's employees. He doesn't expect to see any -- T-Rod happens to like Spence's style, and had refused his money, as well -- and he doesn't.

He *does* see large amounts of designer drugs changing hands, but he's still not sure if he's marked *all* of the middlemen. He's *close* to sure about the higher-ups on this particular totem pole, but he'd very much like to wrap up the entire organization this time -- and there's no better way to do that than to wrap up the mid-level executives so tightly they -- squeal. Heh.

*Speaking* of tight --

Tim thinks even 'Spence' would be a bit *too* pained by the shorts --

Well, no. They're spanky pants.

Black *leather* spanky pants to be exact, and if Tim weren't wearing a gaff underneath them, he'd be committing a misdemeanor -- no. A felony, because there are any *number* of kids in this club, and --


Tonight's corset is perfect, though. It has something of a heart-shaped bodice and it was, in fact, made for an extremely flat-chested person. As such, it doesn't ride up even a little when he dances --

Struts --

Or punches a particularly *grabby* young man in the face.

Spence's knuckles are killing him, though, so Tim shakes his hand out and pouts to everyone in hearing distance.

T-Rod has the bartender send him an icepack.

T-Rod... thus gets the lion's share of Spence's attention when Tim steps out to smoke one of the *Bruce*-filtered clove cigarettes that Spence was keeping in his boot pocket.

Tonight's boots give him only *three* inches of extra height, but the knives in the heels are truly inspiring.

And when Lex's limousine rolls past midway through a discussion with T-Rod about the state of Gotham's community colleges... neither Tim nor Spence spare it even a glance.

It doesn't roll past again.

Steph's *bike*, however, does. Specifically, the black one with eggplant accents that Bruce had given her for a non-Robinly birthday present after she began training with them. She had held on to her old moped for a little while out of loyalty -- and an intense desire to thumb her nose at Bruce for the years of being Bruce -- but.

("I came the first time I rode it, boyfriend. Twice."

"I -- hm."

"I nearly ran over a little old lady."

"Steph --"

"So worth it. So. Effing. Worth it.")

But. Steph takes her helmet off for long enough to shake out her hair, and Tim turns to T-Rod and leans in to kiss his cheek. "That's my cue, honey."

"You're getting on a motorcycle in *that* outfit, Spence?"

"She *always* drives safe with *me* riding bitch."

"Uh, huh," and T-Rod looks at him from over his sunglasses. His eyes are yellow-green with black sclera which look distinctly... distinctive against his light brown skin. "Be *careful*. I already know you're hanging out here more because of the local *businessmen* skinning the owners alive --"

"*T-Rod*, I'm not into that stuff!"

"No, you're not. You're *into* things that make you move like a first-class martial artist when you're *dancing*."

Oh... dear. *But*. "I... suppose you know a few people like me from your guild...?"

T-Rod smiles, exposing very impressive -- and entirely real -- fangs. "A few. That guy in the limo -- is he really Lex Luthor?"


"Does he know who and what *you* are?"

"No. And we'll just keep it that way for now, hmm...?"

"Heh heh. Fine by me, Spence. Tell your girl that I love the headband."

"All good, right-thinking people do," Tim says, winks at T-Rod, and jogs to the curb.

Steph hands him his -- black -- helmet without a word.

Tim puts it on, saddles up, and wraps his arms around her. "Hey, girlfriend," Tim says through the radio in Spence's voice --

And Steph snorts as she pulls out. "*Hello*, boyfriend. Is *that* how you've been spending your night?"

"That and some -- apparently very belligerent -- dancing."

"You *dance* now? Like real, non-freaking-waltzing dancing?"

"Only when I'm on assignments like this one --"

"You're *supposed* to be benched, Boy Leather Queen."

"I think this still counts as me being benched, considering what I'm wearing."

"Boyfriend, you..."


"I'm still not asking that question."

Tim hums. "I'll tell you anything you want to know, at any time."

"I -- yeah. I know. I love you."

Tim squeezes her firmly. "And I love you. And you have a fan."

"The big meta bouncer?"

"Mm-hm. He made me for a vigilante from my dancing... and he loves the headband."

Steph purrs and brings them up to sixty-five. "I got to stab a dealer with it tonight."

*Tim* purrs. "Somewhere interesting...?"

"They're gonna be calling him Drugsy McHalfsac now."

Tim smiles. "Have I mentioned recently that I like you?"

Steph sighs. "No. Not in fucking *hours*."

"I like you --"

"Not good enough, boyfriend. You have to *like* me like me."

"Hmm. Does that involve... touching?"

"Uh, huh. Maybe even touching *skin*."

Tim grins -- and reaches up to unzip her light jacket --

"Oh, you *jackass*," she says -- and doesn't swerve --

"Hmm. I know there's skin under here *somewhere*..."

"Look, just because *you're* naked right now doesn't mean *I* have to be."

"Lady Stephdiva...?"

"Lady God*stepha*. Get it right," and she snickers and takes them -- *away* from Bristol.

Hmm. "Your place tonight?"

"Yah-huh. I'm pretty sure Mom's getting sick of Cass boning me every night, so it's your turn to get some cuddles."

"I approve of this plan wholeheartedly. Though... where *is* Cassandra sleeping tonight?"

"Wherever she *wants*, natch. But I'm thinking she'll head to the Clocktower tonight. She said Bruce was fucked *out*. Well, she didn't say it *that* way, but that's what she meant. I'm thinking she'll want the footage."

Tim coughs. "That... certainly jibes with what Barbara and Dick implied would be happening today."

"Aww, boyfriend, were they hitting on you?"

"Well -- yes."

"Just *hit* them when they do that. They'll totally stop."


"*What*? Are you about to criticize my interpersonal skills, Boy Wonder? 'cause Robins who do that *don't* get to ride on the Eggbird."

"Egg-- hm. How long have you been saving that?"

Steph snorts and giggles. "Oh, man, *weeks*."

"Hmm. You do realize that I'm going to be *calling* it the Eggbird from now on, right?"

"So long as you do it in front of Bruce at least once a week, I'll be satisfied."

"Your satisfaction *is* important to me, Steph --"

"And *your* satisfaction totally can't even *begin* to happen in those spanky pants. Don't you *like* your dick?"

"Ah... most of the time."

"Most -- oh. That question."

Tim squeezes Steph again. "It's all right."

"I -- yeah. We do kinda have to talk about it --"

"Not until you're comfortable --"

"Tim, I'm *banging* *Cass*. Who totally does not have even a *little* penis."

"Technically, the clitoris --"

"No, Tim."

"Hmm. All right. Still, the fact that you've embarked on a lesbian relationship does not necessarily mean that you *have* to be ready for a discussion with your *boyfriend* about his gender issues. Gender and sexuality *do* intersect, but --"

"Blah blah health class blah. You're *my* boyfriend, Tim, and I *love* you, and you deserve a lot fucking better than me being freaked," she says, and pulls onto the Crosstown Expressway, which, at this time of night -- and at *no* other time -- is the quickest way to get to the Chisholm suburb.


"No buts. And no *arguments*. Just -- *is* it wrong for me to call you boyfriend?"

"You can call me anything --"

"Tim, I will *lay us down* and grate you like parmesan."

"I -- hm. I prefer romano -- "

"*Tim* --"

"I'm... not always a boy in my head, no. Or... my heart."

Steph shivers.

"But -- sometimes."

"How much of the time?"

"Most. I -- I can confidently say most. I feel... I sometimes feel as though I'm missing... things. That happens more often than I feel... incorrect," Tim says, feeling himself blush much too hard --

"Okay. That's -- okay. *Are* you gonna do something about it? Something... choppy?"

Tim laughs softly. "I don't think so, no. I mean... well. I'm about eighty percent sure that I want breast implants. But I often rather like my penis."

"Breast -- um."


"Um. Big ones?"

Steph is a thirty-eight C who occasionally 'cheeseburgers herself up' to -- nearly -- a forty D. Her hugs are awe-inspiring. And more than a little intimidating --

"Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

"I... I think a B cup would suit me."

"Oh. Really?"

"And... they would still be... practical."

"Boyfriend -- um. Personfriend?"

Tim laughs. "I -- yes, that works."

"Okay, personfriend, here's the deal: tits are never practical."

"But --"

"They're floppy and they randomly swell up and they're sensitive, and -- okay, *you* wouldn't have to deal with that, I guess, but still. Who would you even *trust* to do the surgery?"

"I've been... researching plastic surgeons."


Tim bites his lip. "I -- there are several highly reputed ones in New York."

"Well -- I *guess*. Um. You'd have to change your *uniform*."


"And that doesn't faze you even one little bit."

"Ah... no?"

Steph shivers again and takes them up to eighty. "That's it, cuddle needed *stat*."

"Steph, are you --"

"*I'm* fine, personfriend. I just -- I just need to hold you."

"While I'm still... flat?"

"No! Not -- well, maybe? *Damn* it, I am *totally* fucking sensitive!"

"You really are --"

"And I'm not -- you can do anything you *want* to your body --"

"Yes --"

"And I'll *still* love you, and think you're hot, because you'll totally be walking around all boobieful --"


Steph snickers. "Cuddles!"

"Yes, I concur."

They make it to Steph's house without further incident, and Steph parks the bike in the driveway. It's late enough *and* early enough that everyone's lights are off, but it's still decidedly strange to walk into a small, normal house dressed the way he is.

It makes him tense *for* Mrs. Brown, even though there's no sign of her when Steph opens the door. It still feels better to strip down to his gaff -- red tonight -- and use Steph's cold cream on his face until he looks... reasonably average.

If somewhat neutered.

Somewhat *disturbingly* neutered, judging by the look on Steph's face as Tim packs away his disguise in the extra backpack he keeps in Steph's closet. "I could... put on other underwear?"

Steph bites her lip -- she's stripped down to a t-shirt and panties -- and throws a pair of his boxer-briefs at him. They --

Hm. "Steph --"

"Yes, they *were* under my pillow shut *up*."

"I'm shut," and Tim changes in front of her for the nth time -- though the first time when a gaff is involved. He tries to keep his wince of freedom to a minimum --

"Oh -- man. They *hurt*?"

"It's more... I spent the night feeling distinctly *contained* -- if painfully so. Right now I feel like I'm flopping all over the place."

"Uh. You're *not*."

"I think it's most like the difference between wearing a sports brassiere... and wearing one of *Bruce's* brassieres."

Steph's jaw drops.

"Yes, precisely," Tim says, and crawls onto the bed. "I'm ready for my cuddle-up, Mr. DeMille."

Steph snorts and swats him -- and spoons back against him, sighing and wriggling.

Tim kisses the back of her neck and moves his left leg over hers. "All right?"

"Well, I can feel your poor dick poking me, so yeah."

"You shouldn't spoil it, Steph. It needs the discipline to thrive."

Steph snorts again and elbows him. "Seriously, though, how much *does* the family hit on you?"

"I -- Cassandra only did it once --"

"Yeah, she told me you looked like she'd asked if you wanted her to rip your nuts off. She has a pretty great gesture for that."

"I imagine so, yes. Bruce never does."

"He totally wants to."


"He gives *me* burning looks of sex-doom now. No *way* you haven't been getting those for --"

"Longer -- ah. Longer than I'd like to think about. Though I'm reasonably sure he was giving you those looks when you were Spoiler, too. He's very good at hiding them."

"*Augh* -- uh. Hunh. There was *one* night..."

Tim smiles. "You're thinking about it."

"*Yes*, and -- okay, what the hell was he like with *Jason*? I mean -- that's the only Robin he's boned while they *were* Robin."

"He deleted a lot of the footage where they weren't just training together, but... sometimes I got close enough, when I was following them... well."


"I watched them make love on the street multiple times. Always from a distance, of course, but -- Bruce wasn't always... quiet."


"No *words* -- other than 'Robin' -- but... ah. Yes. I definitely got the impression that Bruce was in the process of losing his mind. Which would explain the *several* times I watched them slipping away from parties... and coming back... flushed."

"Holy *shit*. Uh. But he doesn't hit on you."

"Never. And most of the time he doesn't even look as if he wants to. I'm reasonably sure you could get him to cut back on the burning looks with just a withering stare or two."

"Personfriend. I'm *not freaking Alfred*."

"Steph. You have a stare which could turn a plum into a prune. A *desiccated* prune."

"I do *not* --"

"Just pretend he said something in support of progressive taxation."

Steph snorts. "*Bite* me, you limp-wristed liberal."

Tim bites a significant fraction of her ponytail and growls as kittenishly as he can.

Steph reaches back and swats him several more times --

And Tim hums happily, pressing closer. "I love you."

She sighs. "Back at you. What about the rest of the family?"

"Barbara has been making the occasional *mostly* ambiguous comment since No Man's Land --"

"No *way*! You weren't even -- uh. Never mind."

Tim snorts. "No, I *wasn't* especially... developed at fourteen. But I grew a fair amount over that year... and I have reason to believe that she didn't want me for PIV."


"Penis In Vagina --"

"*Augh*! You made that sound like a *disease*!"

"Well. It's an excellent way to *spread* disease --"

Steph elbows him.

Several times.

Tim snickers until he starts running out of air, and then he simply hums and kisses Steph's neck, her shoulder, her upper arm --

Steph starts to giggle --

And then she rolls onto her back -- the new queen size bed she'd allowed *Cassandra* to pay for is quite useful for that -- and grins up at him, eyes bright and beautiful --

Tim rests a hand on her abdomen and smiles down at her. "I love you."

"Mm-hmm. What *does* Barbara wanna do with you?"

"Well... she's rather... dominant."

"Uh. And? She wants to whip you or something?"

"She hasn't been clear either way, but I wouldn't be shocked. She's also informed me that she has a large number of... toys."

Steph blinks and stares at him.

"Yes, it *is* quite intimidating --"

"Do you even want her a *little*? I mean -- I know you don't really --"

"There's no woman I'm attracted to more than I'm attracted to you --"

"I *know* that --"

"-- but I am somewhat attracted to Barbara, yes." And I know exactly what will happen if -- when? -- she ever loses her already shaky grasp on vigilante morality --

And I know she'll never be especially attached to *my* grasp on such things --

And I know --

" -- go, Tim?"

"Ah --" Tim smiles ruefully and shakes his head. "Just... thinking about the attractions of celibacy."

Steph's expression turns soft and somewhat sad --

"I'm all right --"

"Personfriend... I totally noticed when you stopped giving your family *those* looks, you know."

"I -- they're your family, too --"

"Yeah, I know. But they weren't *then*. Back then, they were *just* yours, and -- you totally stopped. Even with *Dick*."

"He -- he only started hitting on me *consciously* quite recently --"


"Steph, I --"

"Are you *seriously* keeping yourself pure as the driven snow because Bruce made you *scared* of your family?"

Danger, danger Will Robinson -- no. Tim blanks his expression --

Steph smacks him.

"Ah -- ow?"

"Answer the *question*!"

Tim winces. "Could we -- I mean. You know this room is bugged --"

"Because you *and* Cass *planted* bugs. *Deal*!"

"It's just --"

"It's *just* that Bruce should fucking *know* what he *did* to you!"

"It's not -- it's not the only *reason*, Steph --"

"I *know*! If it were, you would've maybe touched my boobs the dirty way once or freaking twice!"

Tim blushes. "I -- yes. So you see --"

Steph sits up and grips Tim's shoulders. And shakes him.

"Steph --"

"We're not going evil, Tim."

"Not -- I know *you* won't ever --"

"Oh. Tim..."

Tim smiles ruefully and remembers those sleepless three days -- "In the end... in the end I couldn't stop myself from applying the question to... everyone in my life."

"You. You didn't say that," Steph says, and bites her lip.

"I -- no. I didn't. But -- it's the sort of question that's... difficult to stop asking."

Steph frowns worriedly and cups Tim's face. "You... you couldn't make me go evil in your head?"

Tim smiles. "The closest I came was you deciding to do to other criminals what you did to the Riddler."

Steph winces. "I -- okay, that's fair --"

"And -- it's not especially different from what I do when Bruce wants me to... vigorously interrogate people."

"Still, Tim. I don't -- I don't really *want* to --"

"I know. I just... applied worst case scenario thoughts to the... metric," Tim says, and strokes her hair. "You. You were the only one."

"Oh... Tim." Steph bites her lip again. "Is that -- no. It's *not* the only reason."

"No, it isn't. I'm still -- I'm just not ready."

Steph nods slowly. "And that's *totally* okay. I mean -- you know *I'll* never pressure you, right?"

Tim smiles and leans in to nuzzle her mouth, to kiss her cheek and smell the moisturizer she uses to protect herself from wind-burn --

Spoiler's full-face cowl provided much more protection --

But they both know that this is better for her, better for *both* of them -- "I love you --"

"I love *you*, and -- we could talk about that, too? I mean... you've kinda talked *around* it," and Steph smiles ruefully. "Just like I've talked around *my* issues."

"You were very open --"

"Oh, yeah, because I spent *tons* of time talking about my fucked-up fantasies of being molested *again*, and how they make me come really hard and *then* cry --"

"Oh. Steph --"

"Or how sometimes when I'm smiling and not doing anything I'm thinking about just -- castrating child molesters and letting them bleed and suffer for *hours* before I call the EMTs --"

"That's -- we *all* have fantasies like that --"

"Or how I used to have panic attacks about you suddenly deciding you *were* ready to hook up with me."

Tim blinks. "I -- Steph?"

Steph's smile gets a little more pained. "Yeah. I just -- you already knew that I needed you to be as non-groinal as possible for a while."

Tim nods and pushes a lock of hair that had escaped from her ponytail behind her ear. "It was never -- well. I never thought less of you, or -- felt used. Or anything like that."

"Yeah, I. I would still. Some of the nights I took off from being Spoiler were all about me just... sitting up here and crying as quietly as possible and shaking and all that other -- stuff. Because part of me -- a really *dumb* and also really *persistent* part of me -- *knew* you'd get sick of waiting and start... start pushing."

Tim pulls Steph into a hug and strokes her back. He opens his mouth --

"I *know* you never would, and *most* of me even knew back then. But -- still. And the worst part of it -- no, wait, I *need* to look you in the eye for this, okay?"

Tim loosens his grip and sits on his heels --

And Steph reties her ponytail and rubs at her eyes. "It's always so -- one of these days I need a mask which *doesn't* change the way I see light. I can't get used to this shit, at all."

"I felt the same --"

"And you totally got used to it *anyway*, just like I got used to the Spoiler mask and *will* get used to this and -- sometimes I need to whine, personfriend."

"Of course --"

"And sometimes -- sometimes I really needed to beat myself up for hooking up with Dean all those times with, like, no problem at *all* except for how he wasn't any *good* -- and still having huge issues about hooking up with you."

"Steph, it's *normal* --"

"I *know*. I -- I totally looked that shit up *first* in the big pile of psych books Bruce dumped on my head a few months back. It doesn't mean it's not still *lame*."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Steph glares at him.

Tim raises his eyebrow higher.

Steph makes a fist.

Hm. "All right --"

"*Thank* you --"

"But you really couldn't manage to be lame even if you put *effort* into it."

"And I have to just take that?"

Tim takes a moment to examine the -- clear tonight -- polish on his nails. "Take it like a birth control pill, Steph."

Steph snorts and shoves him. "Jerk. More cuddle now."

"All right --"

"Wait. I..." Steph bites her lip and scrubs her palms against her thighs . "Tell me? I mean -- tell me what makes you not ready. Other than the fact that you think the people you're *most* attracted to are ticking time bombs of potential evil."

"Ah -- hm."


"No, I -- you don't -- I mean. I'll tell you."

Steph nods encouragingly.

"Or. I *would* tell you. If -- if I really... understood."

"You... don't?"

"I... I *remember* thinking about this sort of thing, and fantasizing about all sorts of people -- I still *do* fantasize --"

"I know that --"

"And -- and I would... imagine it. Letting, say, Dick see something like the *truth* in my eyes, and the truth, back then, was that I would've let him do anything he *wanted* to me so long as it involved him *touching* me --"

"I know that, *too*. And -- it stopped."

"Yes," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "It's just that it also... didn't begin."

"Uh. What?"

"It was all -- it was all theoretical, Steph. All of it."

"But..." Steph frowns. "Do you mean you were lying to yourself -- and *me* -- about what you wanted when?"

"I think so, yes. I mean... I don't think I can blame... all of this on a thought exercise."

"It was more -- and *worse* -- than a freaking *thought* exercise, Tim!"

"I -- I agree --"

"Even if you *do* think it was necessary, it was still fucking *wrong*."

"I *agree* --"

"And -- no. I still don't understand, Tim. I mean... what? You *didn't* want to fuck your brother?"

"I... did? Ish...? I -- damn," Tim says, and scrubs at his face with the palms of his hands. He's going to need a shave... two days from now. Maybe. He's -- no. He can think, and he can tell Steph. He -- Tim drops his hands. "I can tell you anything."

"Well, *yeah*, personfriend."

"I mean -- I mean I always knew... that. Even when I was being a lying ass. And -- the same isn't true for any of the other people I'm attracted to."

"I -- *none* of them? Not even *Superboy*?"

Tim pushes a hand back over his brush. "I think -- I think I'd maybe have better luck with Kid Flash. Bart --"

"That is such a terrible name to give a kid -- um. What? *Why* can't you be honest with anyone else?"

"There's always... something. Something about me which would hurt them, or worry them, or -- or even *disgust* them. I just -- I didn't leave *myself* out of the thought exercise *either*, Steph --"

"Okay, so, I'm hitting Bruce with a two-by-four."

"Steph --"

"With *nails* in, freaking -- *Tim*! *Everybody likes you*!"

"The way -- the way I *am* with them --"

"People like you even when you're a giant *bitch*!"

Sometimes especially then, offers the Lex in his mind --

Why the hell does he *have* a Lex in his mind?

And, really, that's just the sort of thing --

Dick would lose an important fraction of his *mind*, because, no matter what, he'll *never* have a *Slade* in his mind --

Unless he was *turned* --

An end to -- to fucking *circuses* --

"-- *out* of it!"

Oh -- dear. He really has buried his face in his hands and started to rock. He stops. He uncovers his face. He smiles ruefully. "I'm sorry."

"Were *you* about to have a panic attack?"

"Ah... maybe? A little one --"

Steph hugs him -- and uses every pound of her greater weight to slam him down to the bed.

Tim -- it's possible that he's clutching her a little --

She makes a soft sound and *grinds* him against the mattress --

And, after a moment, Tim can breathe.

He does so.

He -- "Steph..."

"I'm listening, personfriend."

"It's just. It was never real before. None of the fantasies. I was... taller, or more flexible, or more muscular, or wittier, or *smarter*. I had always achieved... some sort of goal. I had always made myself better."

Steph hugs him harder. "You're already perfect, you know."

"I'm. I don't. Sometimes my fantasies now are -- sometimes I'm just as I am. Now."

Steph kisses his cheek. "Yeah?"

"A lot of the time, even. Maybe -- no. Definitely most."

"Well -- that's good. Everyone likes you. Except for, like, supervillains -- hey, wait, *no*, because you totally have the supervillainest of supervillains *up on your jock*."

Tim snorts helplessly. "I -- I tend to torture him."

"Yeah, well, keep it up. You..." Steph kneels up again, straddling Tim's waist and pressing down on his shoulders.

"Yes, Steph?"

"Sometimes people can -- okay, wait, no, I was about to give you the Sensitive And Caring Vigilante Wants To Help *You*, Youngster bullshit. Uh. Lemme try again."

Tim smiles. "I'm at your disposal."

She pinches his nose.

"Or... not?"

"No, you totally are. You just -- needed the nose pinch."

Tim raises an eyebrow and considers asking her how *much* time she's spent with Dick lately --

And Steph snickers and *tugs* on his nose. Several times. And then stops. "Okay, I'm done. Um... anyway. It's easy to think that you're no good. I mean, sometimes that's one of the easiest things in the world. And it's even easier than *that* to think that you're just a *little* good. That you're, you know, just good *enough* to be liked by a few people. A few people who don't *know* better."

Tim winces. "It's -- it's not that I think my loved ones are *idiots*, Steph --"

"You totally do."

"No --"

"*Yes*. Because you think that your family -- your *family* -- which just happens to be made up of *several of the best detectives on the planet* -- doesn't *get* you."

"Ah. I don't -- I mean. I don't *show* them all of myself, Steph. Not the way I show *you* --"

"Personfriend. This. House. Is. *Bugged*."

"And I'm not -- I'm not the *same* person with anyone other than you --"

"And so only *Bruce* -- and now me -- know for sure why you like *these* undercover assignments, and only Dick -- and me -- know how much you like being cuddled, and only Barbara -- and me -- know what a *ridiculous* geek you are, and only Cass -- and *me* -- know what a damned liar you can be, and on and on and on?"

"Well -- yes --"

"They're not *dumbasses*, Tim! Look, I will *stipulate* that *no* one is better than you at keeping your peas out of your mashed potatoes, and yeah, the family *lets* you do that because they're all scattered all over the place, but..." Steph *flicks* Tim's nose. "You're a retard sometimes, personfriend."


"You totally are. Because if *I* noticed that you were doing *everything in your power* to *always* meet us one-on-one -- and I did. *Years* ago -- then so did everyone else. And *they're* just too nice to call you on it."

Tim frowns. "I wouldn't call Barbara *nice* --"

"Nah, you're right. *She* probably just thinks it's cute. I *know* Cass does. Seriously, Tim, *think*."

He -- he can do that.

And he can consider the fact that absolutely no one in his life would be surprised to find out that Tim was hiding *something* from them --

That they could be interested *enough* in what that 'something' would turn out to be --

That they *understand* secrets and Tim's need *for* secrets --

But. Tim frowns more deeply, because --

There remains the question of what they would *accept* from him. What they would understand and *welcome* --

And it's *exactly* what he's asked for -- from his life and from the world he's living it in -- to be struck *now* with the image --

The false sense *memory* --

Of Lex's thumb in his suprasternal notch.


Tim winces --

"Was that a good Steph-is-totally-right wince or a bad Tim-is-totally-a-retard wince?"

Tim snorts. "Ah... both? Neither? I'm actually fairly attracted to -- Luthor."

Steph stares at him --

Balls her hands into fists --

"Steph, I'm fairly sure this can't be punched out of me."

"Were you about to call him *Lex*?"

"Ah... maybe a little? It came to mind --"

"Let's have sex."


"Or -- let's take you to the 'haven so you can fuck your brother. Or -- Jesus, we can *go* to the Clocktower and you can have a threesome with Babs and Cass --"

"Steph --"

"Tim, I will even take you to the *manor*. I will *watch* you have sex with Bruce and not bite his dick off even a *little*. You know why?"

"You've... developed a certain shocking degree of masochism?"

"No, personfriend. I'll do it because you're *officially* too fucking repressed for your own fucking *good*!"


"Don't argue with me."

"No, I -- I mean. I'm definitely repressed."

"But you think you're not *too* repressed? Even though you've started mind-fucking the one person on the entire planet *Clark* hates?"

"Mind-- Steph --"


"It's really -- I mean -- *every* vigilante winds up with at least one enemy they think about having sex with. You'll eventually have one of your own --"

"No, I *won't*, because *I'm* actually *sane*."

"You're definitely one of the saner vigilantes I've ever met, yes, but it's really inevitable --"

"And he's not even *your* enemy! He's *Clark's*!"

"I --"

There's a knock on the window -- and it's Clark. Holding a bouquet of daffodils and what appears to purple foxglove. And waving.

"Aww. That's -- one sec," Steph says, and goes to open the window. "You know you didn't have to bring me more flowers!"

Clark smiles. "I can't help but enjoy your bedroom even more when your many wonderful scents mingle with that of flowers."

"See, that *would* be flattering, but *you* told me you liked the way my *ass* smelled. After I was *training*."

Clark's eyes *flare* red -- "You have one of the lovelier musks I've ever experienced, Stephanie."

"Heh. Perv. What's the what?"

"Ah... well. Two things," Clark says, and peers around Steph to wave at *him*.

Tim nods to him.

"One: Luthor is truly the enemy of the *world*. I mean, the things he does on a daily basis are perfectly horrible."

"Yeah, see, Tim? *Too fucking repressed*!"

Clark clears his throat and smiles at both of them. "I'd also like you both to know that I'm more than willing to... ah... make myself available? To help Tim with his issues, of course."

Steph snickers and takes the flowers. "Wanna enjoy *his* musk?"

"Oh. Very much. Perhaps... well. It's a very slow night, and you do have that wonderful new bed --"

"No," Tim says. "But... thank you."


"Steph --"

"Tim, he's *really* good."

"So I've been informed. By *multiple* people," and Tim raises an eyebrow.

Steph sticks his tongue out at him -- and then winces. "That was totally pressure, wasn't it?"

Tim pinches two fingers together.

"Damn -- um. Sorry," she says, and turns back to Clark. "No dice, Clarkie. But I'll *totally* call you if he changes his mind."

Clark takes her free hand and kisses the palm. "And... perhaps sooner than that, as well...?"

Steph grins. "Hell, yeah."

Clark *beams* -- "Until then." And flies.

Steph closes the window again. "Lemme just get a vase for these, personfriend."

"All right," and Tim lies back on his elbows and -- thinks about it.

The way he *hasn't* thought about it since the *first* time Clark had smiled at him just that way --

*Offered* just that way --

And, no, the fantasies don't count, because the Clark in those fantasies is an entirely different person, if never entirely Kal-El --

And never, ever takes no for an answer.

It's entirely possible that he's a danger to himself and others. It --

Tim laughs too quietly to be overheard by anyone *but* Clark --

And whoever is paying attention to the feed from this room. To --

"Bruce," Tim says directly to the camera he'd planted in the northwest corner of the ceiling. "I forgive you. I forgave you a long time ago. Don't -- it's all right." There. He -- feels better?


Something like that. The question of *Clark*, though...

Lex would have a stroke -- no. Lex would have an apoplectic *fit* which would, eventually, dare to call itself a stroke. Tim shows his teeth. It's something he could *absolutely* use to torture the man --

Make him *growl* --

Make him -- lose control.

Just like he makes Tim... *want* to lose control. Wonderful Just --

There has to be something -- badly -- wrong with fantasizing about cock-teasing Lex Luthor while in Robin's bed. There -- really does.

Tim laughs again and pushes the thoughts aside, focuses on --

The most powerful being within several parsecs.

The potentially *immortal* being who has, in fact, made love to *every* member of his family -- living or dead -- *except* for him. Even Cassandra approves of him -- when he's not pretending to be entirely harmless.

And he...

("Tim... you should know that we could do anything you wished."


"Oh -- anything at all."

"*Mission*, Clark."

"Of course.")

'Anything at all' means... what, precisely? Dick's stories about Clark all involve laughter, fun, and *gentle* perversion. Steph's are much the same. Cassandra...

Tim had looked at an image of Clark on the monitors, then turned back to her and raised an eyebrow. Cassandra had cocked her head to the side and studied him --

*Known* him --

And shaken her head with finality. Cassandra has never once done -- or said -- anything she knew would hurt him. Not deliberately. Cassandra had been able to *see* that he feared her answers far more than he was honestly curious --

And, in the end, Tim is all right with not knowing.

*Barbara* speaks of him as a particularly pleasing *subject* -- with the emphasis on 'sub.'

Bruce... occasionally has very large handprints on his hips.

And Jason? What had *that* been like? Jason, from the stories he's collected from everyone he possibly *could*, would have almost certainly had some of the same issues with Clark that Cassandra did.

Would Clark have eased them the same way? *Could* he have? Or -- no. He must have, because it's unlikely that Jason would've spoken as positively about the encounter as he had if it hadn't been wonderful. Dick had been... clear about that. *Sure*.

There's an ache in him where Jason isn't. Where he doesn't say Tim's name, where he never cups Tim's shoulder, where he never turns that sharp, dangerous smile on *him*. And never, ever will. *That* is what death means in this family -- every family.

It --

It's too soon for another trip to Roselawn --

"Sorry that took so long, Mom rearranged the closets again while I wasn't paying attention," Steph says, and sets the filled vase down on her dresser. The vase is porcelain the color of rich cream, simple and elegant. Wait --

"Is she all right?"

"Yeah, she is. Worried as *fuck* about me, but, you know, I *told* her that I was actually getting serious training now," and Steph eyes the vase critically. "Closer to the mirror, maybe?"

"No. Further away will give more depth to the reflection."

"You are so damned queer."

Tim grins and crosses his legs at the ankle. "I think you'll find that I'm *not* the one of us who engages in all sorts of gay gayness."

Steph snorts and flips him off. "It's not gay if it's Cass."

"I... what?"

"If a woman can kick Batman's ass? She can totally have mine."

"Remind me to bring that up with Lady Shiva," Tim says, and offers his *most* obnoxious smile.

"Augh! Just for that? I'm gonna make out with a supervillain you *don't* like in front of you."

"Hmm. We're not supposed to think of Catwoman as a supervillain anymore, are we."

Steph snorts *harder* -- "What *is* it with you and her? She's all good now!"

"I --"

"No, wait, *I* know," Steph says, and crosses her arms under her breasts.

And taps her foot.

And smirks.

"Ah -- all right, hit me."

"She's exactly the same kind of bitch *you* are."

"Oh -- *no* --"

"Oh, *yes*, personfriend! You both like to dress up in ridiculously impractical clothes. You're both cock-teases. You're both slutty for Bruce --"

"Steph --"

"You both like to pretend you're mysterious and unknowable --"

"How do you -- oh, yes, you've worked with her --"

"Uh, huh. Let's see, what else... oh, yeah, you're both fucking *bitchy*!"

"There are any number of ways to *be* bitchy --"

"And you both picked the one where half of your smiles look like they're weapons aimed at some asshole's poor sac! And, yeah, you totally both hate men."

"I don't -- she doesn't -- ah. Hm. You think I hate men?"

Steph raises her eyebrows. Pointedly.

"Some of my -- *most* of my -- oh, God, that's horrible, isn't it."

"Uh, huh."

Tim rubs his abdomen. "I think I might be a little *ill* now --"

"Admit I'm right and the cuddles come back."

"Steph --"

Steph takes a step *away*.

"Surely you can understand -- I mean, *I've* never had sex with Bruce and I don't *intend* to!"

"Okay, I'll change the wording: you're both willing to bend over freaking *backwards* to do shit for Bruce even though he's the worst boyfriend in the *world*."

"I -- hm."

Steph raises her eyebrows higher.

Tim -- slumps. "You're right."

"Say it again."

"You're *right*, Steph --"

And Steph -- crows. And does a victory dance.

And takes a victory *lap*.

Hm. "Doesn't that hurt your breasts?"

Steph stops and stares at him.

"Or... not?"

Steph cups her breasts through her t-shirt and presses them against herself. More against herself.

"They look very nice! Very -- bouncy."

"Was that a *research* question, Tim?"

"Ah -- maybe. In a way. I would like your breasts to be pressed to some part of my body now."

Steph snorts. "Are you sure you *deserve* these puppies, personfriend?"

Sweater puppies, yet -- no. Not that. "I... promise to be less like Catwoman?"

"Nah, then you wouldn't make Bruce all hard all the time, and really? He needs to yearn for you and suffer. A *lot*."


"Are you arguing? Are you arguing when you could be breasting?"

Tim opens his mouth -- he closes his mouth. "All shall love me and despair?"

"*Exactly*," Steph says, and moves to kneel over him again. "Now sit up and put your face between 'em."


"You *know* you love it."

"I -- really do."

"And you know *I* don't mind."

"It just seems -- it's not a tease?"

Steph claps her breasts together under her t-shirt.

"Is... that... an answer?"

Steph snickers and takes her t-shirt off. "Mostly naked cuddles commence now, personfriend."

"But --"

"*But* -- if it gets to be too much for me? I'll push you away. I... I need to be close to you pretty much always, Tim. You know that."

Tim smiles ruefully and sits up --

And presses the tip of his nose to her sternum --

And cups the sides of her breasts -- careful to avoid the sensitive areolae --


Tim mushes.

And sighs.

And closes his eyes.

"Hey, one day you'll be able to do this for me!"

Maybe he *will* get bigger breasts.


Other corporations have shredding parties. Lex... has Prudence.

Specifically, he has Prudence tear through LexCorp Storage Facility Thirty-Nine B -- where every single record of the Superboy project 'disappeared' to when Cadmus was exposed for exactly what it was ---and remove absolutely everything about the implanted commands. This is tricky, as the information is coded and he has to *share* the codes, but --

Prudence is allergic to asking him questions about anything but her specific orders, which, in this case, leave everything about the *creation* of clones intact.

You never know --

And Tim might *want* a son of his own someday --

Not that Conner Kent --

Kon-El --

All right, he should've named him. He -- there's absolutely no excuse for the fact that he *didn't* before now. Lex scowls.

Hope sits on the arm of his chair. Perches, really -- hm.

"You picked that pose up from Mercy."

"Yes, Lex. Do you like it."

"I like -- I like you. Always," Lex says, and strokes her strong lower thigh.

"Thank you, Lex. What is wrong."

Lex sighs. "I miscalculated with the clone. *Badly*."

Hope rests one scarred and lovely hand on his shoulder. "What can be done."

"Well -- I'm having Prudence remove anyone else's ability to control him. Additionally, I've called a halt to all of the projects directly -- and indirectly -- designed to bring about the ubermensch's death."

"Is that wise."

"I'm honestly not sure, darling, *but* -- I do know that it's the only way to get a foothold with the boy."

"Is he a clone or is he a boy."

"Good question. At this point... he seems to be both," Lex says, leaning back and steepling his fingers. "He's both proud of his -- somewhat -- paradoxically unique birth situation and shamed by it. He clearly feels some degree of loneliness despite being apparently well-liked by the vigilante community. He..." Lex frowns. "He *wants* to be a boy at least some of the time."

"Can he be."

"He can *be* whatever he chooses to be."

"Yes, Lex. What is the correct path for him to choose."

Lex frowns. "I don't know."

"I believe that you should find out. I believe that you should place him on that path. This will gain his gratitude and, perhaps, his allegiance."

Oh... Hope. Lex smiles into her beautifully blank eyes. "While I *will* seek to discover his proper path, I'm going to have to be *subtle* about putting him on it. He is *partially* human, and is thus subject to the stubbornness and poor judgment all human adolescents must fight their way through."

Hope turns down the corners of her mouth. "He is your son."

"Yes, he is. And I assure you, Hope, that I was an *idiot* when I was a teenager."

"You met Mercy when you were a teenager."

"She improved me *dramatically* solely by being herself," Lex says, and strokes the lapel of her ecru linen jacket. "As have you. As will Prudence."

Hope cocks her head to the side. "We will improve your son, as well, perhaps."

"Perhaps. Or we can do our *level* best to surround the boy with people... more his speed. I think an *hour* with Tim once a week would make him show marked improvement in terms of his life goals. And... we're going to refer to him as Superboy for now."

"I do not like that."

"No, I know. But."

"I do not like that because *you* do not like that."

Actual tonal stressing -- sweet crumbling plague victims, that's terrifying. But. "It's what the boy -- Superboy -- requested himself. And, to be fair, it's a name that he *took* for himself, rather than having it bestowed upon him by the ubermensch."

"That... is better."

"Yes, I thought so, too. It speaks well of his *will*, after all."

"Will you call him to heel."

Lex -- doesn't bite his lip. That's a terrible habit. "I don't know. It would damage my chances to develop a relationship with him -- almost certainly permanently -- but it's not like I can make myself *forget* those code words. And -- there is no telling what sort of emergency will pop up in the future."

"Insurance is always the better choice."

"Is it, though?"

Hope turns the corners of her mouth down again.

"Bear with me for a moment, darling."

"Yes, Lex."

Lex stands and paces to the window --

No, Gotham remains as grey and awful as ever. He paces to the bar and pours himself a half-measure of -- gin.


Twenty-four hours left. Lex drinks and considers --

And then moves back in *range* of his favorite devoid, the best possible -- "Darling, think back to that study you did on love."

"Yes, Lex. I do not feel I properly encapsulated it, Lex."

"You did as well at it as the best minds ever have, I assure you, because you noted that it gives both joy and pain, both strength and weakness... well. It can drive a person -- human or otherwise -- to transcend every obstacle placed in front of him, her, or otherwise. It can drive that same person into a black pit of *despair* so deep that they can't even move themselves out of *bed* in the morning. It can do all of that and more -- and it can do all of it within a *day*, depending on how susceptible a given person is, and it can be filial, romantic, a friendship... anything, at all, almost."

"One can, by this definition, be said to love even an enemy."

"Oh, yes, because hate -- as lovely and *useful* as it is -- is, in fact, a close cousin *to* love, Hope. Perhaps nothing so trite as the other side of a coin, but still quite dangerously *close*. One major difference between the two is the question of insurance."

"I do not understand, Lex."

Lex smiles and tastes juniper --

He would *very* much like to be tasting Tim's *mouth* now --

Tomorrow. He *will* get a kiss tomorrow -- or a touch. A simple, solitary --

Lex shakes it off and returns his attention to Hope. "Darling, when you set out to hate, you must plan, and plot, and *scheme*. You must understand everything about yourself and your enemy, if only to keep yourself from making false starts and the sorts of mistakes that can put you in *prison*. You must, in short, give yourself *insurance*. The fact that I've avoided prison to date is just as much a matter of luck as skill, because I didn't do *any* of that when I took the ubermensch as my enemy. I allowed my *emotions* to reign supreme, and hate is far too dangerous and powerful a thing to be *wholly* ruled by emotion."

"Love is... different."

"Oh, yes. You *should* be prepared about it, and learn yourself and your prospective lover, but you must *also* be prepared to be given no time to do *any* of that. Hate -- proper hate -- allows a person time to settle into it, if you're willing to take it. Love... does absolutely nothing of the kind. Love will drive you to your knees *instantly*. Love will take your *will*. Worst of all is the fact that love, in its purest form, *disdains* insurance. If I were to say to Tim, 'all right, let's get closer, but first you should know that I'm ready, willing, and able to replace you at a moment's notice,' I believe he would be *distinctly* unimpressed."

"Does this intersect with polyamory."

"Not truly. It doesn't *have* to, because true polyamory is something which demands that the lover love *all* of their lovers, and thus not be able to 'replace' any of them -- as opposed to filling their time with *different* ones. Does that make sense, darling?"

"It is... the difference between choosing to share physical affection with Mercy and choosing the same with Prudence. They are both affectionate in their ways, but those ways are... different. And differently desirable."

"Precisely. Insurance, in terms of love offered to another, is at best an insult and at worst utterly pointless. A lover cannot be replaced. *Love* which has broken you in one way or another cannot be *eased*."

"Are you saying that your hate for the ubermensch can be eased."

"Sadly... yes. But I don't think that will happen anytime soon."

"Are you in love with Tim."

"What? No, of course not. I am, however, *desperately* infatuated. Time will tell how long that will last."

Hope cocks her head to the side.

And blinks.

And turns the corners of her mouth down.

"Yes, darling?"

"I believe you have told me a lie."

Lex -- blinks. "I... Hope?"

"You are changing your life and goals. You are allowing yourself brands of morality you have previously disdained. You are thinking about him more often than you're not. You have denied him to Mercy to punish for when he bores you. You --"

"I -- all right, I will stipulate that those are... are very... telling," Lex says, and frowns. Deeply.

"Would you like craniofacial massage, Lex."

"I -- will not lie to you."

"All right, Lex."

"I will not lie to *myself* -- oh, damn. *Damn*."

"I will bring Tim here."

"No, no, we still can't kidnap him --" Lex growls and paces.

And continues to pace.

And --

Hope has her hands on her gun butts. That will *never* do, but --

All of this --

He was about to cancel those arms deals --

And all of those *handshakes* with *Intergang* --

And they're all pathetic, short-sighted thugs *anyway* and Apokolips is a *speaking* -- *shouting* -- example of what can happen when short-sighted thugs take power --

*He* will never be --

He's been that. Of course he has. He's been -- a supervillain. Lex's lip curls for the naming conventions --

Hope relaxes.

Lex takes a deep breath and moves back to his chair, patting the arm once more.

Hope arranges herself with her stockinged feet in his lap. She's wearing gold polish on her toes.


"Thank you, Lex. What are your conclusions."

"I -- might be in love with him. And I'm very unhappy about that."

Hope nods. "I would not want to be in love with a... moral person."

"Honestly, this is *why* love is so dangerous. It makes you *irrational*."

"Yes, Lex."

"He's *seventeen*."

"Yes, Lex."

Lex scowls and gestures --

And Hope begins to massage his face and scalp, humming under her breath tunelessly, but not tonelessly.

Lex closes his eyes and breathes.

And breathes.

And -- breathes.

He opens his eyes. "If there were any justice, we could *buy* him."

"My research suggested that that rarely works, Lex."

"No, it doesn't, but it could have given me time to seduce him in *other* ways."

"Like Beauty and the Beast."

"I -- hm. Yes, actually. Now I feel terrible about not bailing out DI when Tim's pathetic father was alive."

"I believe you should continue to breathe, Lex."

"You're almost certainly correct, but -- but. Maybe if we *introduce* him to Superboy?"

"He may try to seduce Tim for himself."

"Tim isn't -- well, all right, Superboy *has* apparently slept with everyone and *everything* the ubermensch *hasn't*."

"And some he has."

Lex snorts helplessly.

"That is a much better sound."

Lex -- breathes. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Lex," and Hope begins working on Lex's jaw. He leaves her to it for the five minutes it takes for him to begin feeling as though his jaw is made up of muscle and bone -- as opposed to rusted metal.

"Why is he scarred, Hope."

"Because he is... violent."

"I wonder..." Lex frowns and muses on hate --

The nearly *proprietary* interest in Superboy --

The amateur gymnast 'brother' with shoulder-length hair and an apparently perfect body -- 

*Scars* --

The violent *girlfriend* --

*Bruce* --

Bruce traveling the motherfucking *world* --

"Lex. I believe you should relax."

"I... don't think I can, Hope."

"Why not."

Lex pushes her hands aside gently and thinks about punching himself in the eyes --

Swallowing one of Hope's guns --

Piece by *piece* if necessary --

"Lex, you are growing depressed once more. I believe that we should speak of happier things."

"Hope... I'm in love with Robin."

Hope blinks once --

Cocks her head to the side once more --

"May we kidnap him now."

"Not... yet."


Lex sits back and crosses his legs. "Yes, I think so. For now... for now, I will... think."

"Yes, Lex." And Hope leaves him with grace and speed, carrying her simple, stylish flats in her hand.

Mercy wears heels *always* --

Mercy... really isn't going to be happy about this.

What the hell is he going to *do*? What possible --

It's obvious why Tim had chosen to get next to him -- any so-called *hero* *would* -- but...

The liberties allowed and forbidden.

The desires expressed and not.

The attraction... shared.

He wants more. He wants the mendacious little shit right *now*. He wants to *compliment* him on his *skills*, and --

Subvert him. A *little*.

It would serve Bruce *right*, and -- fuck. Had he been planning all of this when they were teenagers?

How *many* times had he had to beat the shit out of Harvey?

Fucking *No Man's Land* --

All right, no, he's fuming now, and that never does anyone any good. He has to --

Lex gets up and paces again --

Tim had, almost certainly, called Superboy to *warn* him right after their date. They probably could have had a *longer* date if Lex hadn't said he would call after lunch --

Lex strokes the bar --

Tastes the gin in his mouth --

Tim wants it. Wants *him*. Superboy hadn't wanted to think about that -- probably because he's hoping to get a taste of his best fucking *friend* --

Tim is, most assuredly, a virgin. That much was clear --

Why *isn't* he screwing Bruce?

Nightwing is. The *second* Robin was -- and now he knows how Jason Todd died. How --



Bruce had to be --

Lex frowns and *grips* the bar. It's his own fault for dressing the boy up like it was Carnivàle and sending him out to fight *crime*.

But Bruce still hadn't killed the Joker. Bruce had held on to his stupid fucking *morals* --

("All right, Bruce, I know why *I* have issues with the death penalty, but surely the man who killed your parents deserves --"

"Death is the end of everything, Lex. There is... there is nothing that can be done. There is nothing that can be saved, or salvaged. There is no hope for a better tomorrow. There is only... dust. And blood. And the screams of whoever was left behind.")

Lex swallows and squeezes his eyes shut.

Did you scream, Bruce?

Did you --

Does his blood haunt your dreams, as well?

Did you gather an army of the *exceptional* to yourself only to teach them *that*?

Lex paces back to the window and stares out at the unrelenting grey, at the gargoyles and grotesques across the street, and the daytime traffic of a city which turns into a damned *werewolf* at night --

*Every* night --

And Tim almost certainly loves it. *Craves* it. Had his parents known? *Could* they have known?

Janet wouldn't have tolerated it for even a moment -- but she'd died *before* there was a third Robin on the street. It --

Lex goes to his laptop and pulls up his rough timeline for Gotham's vigilantes. Robin III -- black-haired, five-feet-one inch tall, no more than one hundred and fifteen pounds, proficient in at least four martial arts, heavily armed -- had appeared in October of that year. Janet had died in... June.

Tim had been in training then... and very obviously hadn't stopped for even a moment, even though his mother was dead and his father was an apparent vegetable. Ruthless.

Just --

You took what you wanted, didn't you, darling? You would have done anything *for* it... almost certainly including giving up your virginity.

Bruce was too noble for that, though...

Lex frowns and checks the latest information he has for the Robins *plural*. The male is indeed black-haired, *potentially* blue-eyed -- those dominoes *rip* -- five-feet-six inches tall, and no more than one hundred and forty-five pounds. Including the boots and body armor. The female is five-feet-seven-and-a-half inches, blonde, and at *least* one hundred and fifty five pounds. Rumored to be the former Spoiler. There are no pictures of the two of them *together*, but... there don't have to be.

Stephanie Brown. Tim Drake.

Is *she* fucking Bruce? Would Tim put up with that? Would he care?

*Had* Tim quit for those four months last year? Or had he simply been better than the many, *many* 'hero' spotters?

It --

There is one -- *one* -- very good picture of Robin III in uniform. It was taken during the *day* for one thing, and, for another, it was a sunny *California* day. The sort that the Mission gets... sometimes.

He doesn't want to look. He --

He's looked at it before, of course. He remembers giving himself a headache trying to figure out how the hell Starfire's 'uniform' stayed on. He -- doesn't want to look.

He doesn't want to *know* this --

Lionel laughs in his head. Fucking -- *uproariously*.

Lex opens the picture. A translucent yellow blur is almost certainly Kid Flash. The exceedingly butch engineer boots *above* the blur are Superboy. Starfire's 'uniform' is either superglued on or made of yet another fascinating piece of exogeology that Lex doesn't own. Yet.

And there --

There, crouched, looking at something out of frame to his right --

There is the cheekbone he wants to touch, the jawline he'd like to bite, the *mouth* --

The throat is hidden, as is every other part of him save for the insides of his elbows, and that shadow is *absolutely* the dangerous-looking animal-bite scar Tim has on the inside of his right elbow.

*Did* Bruce have a dog at some point?

And that green isn't his color even a *little* bit --

Robin's ears aren't pierced --

But those were studs in Tim's ears. The piercing was recent. Oracle's?

Who *is* Oracle? No, work it from the other direction. Who's *left* in that incestuous little -- Cassandra Wayne. There have been no photographs taken of the current Batgirl when her -- practical, for *once* -- full-face cowl has ripped, but...

And who is Barbara Gordon? Could she be a civilian? Would *Nightwing* even date a civilian?

Red hair. Approximately five-feet-seven inches tall.

Not the *current* Batgirl, but maybe the *first*...? Oh, Commissioner Gordon, *that* little tidbit won't get you very far with the law and order crowd...

Lex licks his teeth and picks up the phone -- no. He hangs it up again.


He can *absolutely* play by the lying little bitch's rules... for now. After that...

Well. He'll just have to see.


Bruce hadn't meant to watch for long this morning. Just --

Enough time to see Tim and Stephanie together.

Enough time to know that they were both well, and happy with each other. Tim is so *light* when she's near, and Stephanie so *warm*. The proof that it's possible to have both her happiness as his Robin and *Tim's* happiness as his *other* Robin...

So beautiful. They are both so...

Bruce swallows and stares at his hands -- gauntleted. Safe from -- himself?

He had patrolled alone tonight, not trusting his composure with Stephanie *or* Cassandra. He had --

He had run through Tim's words, and Stephanie's, countless times -- in flight, while interrogating criminals, while brutalizing still other criminals --

Tim doesn't trust anymore. Tim --

Tim has cut himself off from *love*, and it would be fitting and even *correct* for that to be true of Bruce's love -- it's a risk he'd *accepted* when he'd given Tim that gauntlet -- but Barbara's --

Cassandra's --

*Dick's* --

("Nightwing's coming *tonight*?"

"I believe he said something about feeling a need for... 'brother time.'"

"Oh! I mean... ah. I'm sure that will be... um. I'm going to go hit the weights.")

And Bruce had... taken that away from him.

For over a *year* now --

A creaking sound -- he's clenching his hands into fists. He --

He opens his hands.

Right now, Tim's tracers put him on a path to Bristol. He's close -- and riding with Alfred once more. It wouldn't be --

There have been many times when they haven't said a word to each other after patrol. It wouldn't be untoward. It -- but they'd been doing better than that. They had been --

("Thank you, Bruce. For everything.")

He'd been making Tim *happy* --

("I forgave you a long time ago.")

Bruce had taken love from him. His chance to *make* love with the man he fell in love with as a toddler, to spend more time with the woman he admires more than anyone save Stephanie herself --

Cassandra is with Stephanie again tonight, but couldn't they have found happiness with Tim between them? Wouldn't that be *correct*?

Bruce squeezes his eyes shut behind the cowl -- no. He has work to do. He...

There are reports to write, gang movement to triangulate -- yes.

He works.

He works, and he ignores Tim's toneless humming as he jogs down the stairs in yet another pair of wildly dangerous boots --

Red, this time, as is his lipstick and thickly-boned corset. His skirt, fingerless gloves, and gaff are silver --

Beautiful --

Bruce shudders and continues to work, struggling --

No, he is capable of focus. He is -- even when Dick would do handstands on the back of his *chair*, he could focus.

Would Jason have been able to reach Tim now? To touch him past the wall Bruce had built brick by *brick*? He -- oh.

Tim is looking at him. Subtly, still, but --

He doesn't *deserve* --

Bruce pulls on his most forbidding expression and types nonsense until he can remember what he was *supposed* to be typing. He then deletes the nonsense and works, allowing the back of his mind to catalog the sound of water running, Tim's soft sighs and grunts as he frees himself from Spence Hollingsworth's clothes --

Had the metahuman bouncer propositioned him, yet?

Would that...

Perhaps someone whom Tim hadn't known before, someone with no connection whatsoever to the gauntlet which had never left Tim's mind --

Will it ever leave? Could it?

Tim is as silent in the showers as he ever is --

Bruce works, and for approximately half an hour he remains focused --

Until Tim begins moving close, *broadcasting* his energy --

Why are his feet bare? He always at least wears socks when he's walking on the stone. Bruce looks up --

And shivers, all over. Tim is wearing the negligee. It --

Bruce had forgotten that he'd put the thing *in* Tim's closet --

He'd meant it for something they could *joke* about --

It fits perfectly, of course. Including the bodice, because Tim is wearing the brassiere Bruce had designed which straps firmly to the chest with no shoulder straps, at all -- and the B cup falsies he enjoys the most --

And a gaff.

Bruce swallows and looks *up* --

And Tim is smiling at him *wryly*. "Was I supposed to bring this to my next date with Lex, Bruce...?"


"I don't really see... I mean, I can't kick at *all* in this thing," Tim says, and strokes his thigh through the silk. The negligee is quite conservative, with thin straps, a lace bodice, and a straight, simple shape that flows down to just below the knee -- and demands *small* steps.

'Feminine' steps.

And Tim raises an eyebrow. "Are we -- talking about this?"

Bruce shakes his head mutely.

Tim raises his eyebrow higher. "Bruce."

"I. I meant to. I wanted you to laugh."

"*At* you?"

Bruce reaches out -- no, not with the gauntlet. Not again. He drops his hand.

Tim frowns. "You... weren't expecting the negligee to be this... affecting?"

"You're always beautiful."

Tim blushes, and there is no makeup to soften or disguise it --

It is what it is, and Bruce wants --

Bruce stands --

And Tim steps back.

"I won't -- I will not pressure you in any way."

"I think. I think I might be sick of hearing those words," Tim says, and frowns thoughtfully, turning away. Someone else's glitter is stuck to the back of his neck --

Bruce brushes it away --

Tim stiffens and looks at him with wide eyes.

"I'm sorry. There was. There was glitter."

"I -- oh. That sort of thing... well. Par for the course. Bruce, are you *sure* we're not speaking about this?"

He is still standing here when he'd meant to walk away. He is still *close* -- "Would you like to."

"I'd *like* to buy a question mark for you so you stop sounding like *Hope* --"

"You... use *her* first name, as well?"

Another blush, and Tim shutters his gaze.

A part of Bruce can only sigh -- "I do not begrudge your attraction to Luthor or his lifestyle."

Tim crosses his arms under his false breasts -- "I don't -- it's just --" Tim growls and shakes his head. "It's -- touch, isn't it? Something I can have. Something *available* to me -- no matter what?"

Bruce frowns. "What are you saying?"

A deeper blush -- "I shouldn't -- this is wrong. I'm sorry," Tim says, and turns away --

Starts to *walk* away --

Bruce catches his shoulder before he can stop himself --

"Oh -- God. Every time I *feel* that, I'm thirteen again," Tim says, laughing and pinching the bridge of his nose.

Bruce squeezes gently -- no. He tugs until Tim is facing him again. "Please. Please tell me what you mean."

Tim's expression grows pinched. *Pained* -- and then he smiles ruefully. "You know, don't you? I mean, I've been spending all day and night -- I already *knew* I was repressed --"

"There's nothing -- nothing *wrong* --"

"But that's not true, at all, is it? I mean -- Steph's right, isn't she? I'm hurting myself."

Bruce's hands are shaking --

And Tim can feel that. He -- "Oh. Bruce..."

"You're. You're denying yourself love."

"Not *love*. I mean -- and not even *touch*. Not really --"


"Oh -- God. I really should save the whole 'have both sides of the argument' thing for -- the professionals. Hn." And Tim's expression is arch. *Sharp* --

Harvey --

But not in this moment. Not -- Tim had a *reason* for bringing Harvey up, and *that* --

Tim has never wanted to offer *hurt* in that way, never unless Bruce had been *foolish*. Or unless someone had gotten too... close.

Bruce reaches slowly and cups Tim's other shoulder, too --

"Bruce --"

"I don't think you truly wish to chase me away right now, Tim."

Tim bites his pale pink lip -- oh.

Bruce lets go for long enough to yank back the cowl --

Tim gasps as if Bruce has some secret he *hadn't* already known -- no.

"Is it my eyes, Tim?"

"You -- ah. I already knew you wanted me --"

"I loved you before I wanted you."

Tim swallows and shakes his head --

"I loved you... and I." Bruce shakes his head and lets go again, tugging his gauntlets off.

"Bruce, we can't -- I mean. Obviously, we *can*, but --"

"You don't trust me. You'll never trust me. Correct?"

Another blush -- Tim looks away again. "I had this argument with Dick."

"I never hurt him the way I hurt you. And I'll never hurt you the way I hurt him. I -- I am a *fool*, Tim --"

"Yes. Yes, you *are*, and so am I. I mean, I'm here, and I'm doing *this* --"

"Would you look at me again?"

"It's not like I didn't *know* this would turn you on --"

"Tim --"

"Your *mother* probably wore -- ah. Never mind --"

Bruce touches Tim's cheek gently, *carefully* --

"*Fuck*, you -- Bruce, don't  --"

Bruce hisses between his teeth and drops to his knees.

"Get *up*!"

"I can never apologize --"

"No, you *can't* --"

"Please, Tim --

"Get *up*, Bruce --" And Tim takes Bruce's hand and tugs --

And then he stops and shudders --

Looks down and *away* --


"I... I don't. It's just that it's all *possible* if Steph is right, and that means -- I don't know what that means, and I think I want you to teach me -- the way you used to --"

"*Anything* --"

Tim cries out -- and drags Bruce's left hand to his right breast.

Bruce *pants* -- and squeezes. Gently --

"I can't feel -- I want to *feel* that --

"As. As soon as you're eighteen --"

Tim's laugh is *explosively* derisive. "I'll be using my *own* money for that, thank you."

"Of course --"

"But. You could." Tim shudders all over and *then* looks at him again, eyes bright and full. "I don't think I'm going to be good at this."

"Tim --"

"Or -- even *about* this -- oh, *fuck* --"

There had been no thought, there -- it's only that Tim is straddling Bruce's thighs now --

The negligee is hiked up high on *Tim's* thighs --

And Bruce is still cupping Tim's breast. He. "Tim..."

Tim pants and -- flushes, not blushes. His pulse is beating fast in his throat. His lips are parted --

"Please. Please let me kiss you."

"That's *not* all you want."

"No, it isn't."

Tim's expression turns *wounded* -- and his moan is enough  --

High enough and *loud* enough --

"Bruce. Please."


*Tim* pants -- "Even if I tell you to let go?"

Bruce fights back the wince --

He isn't sure whether the wince is for his emotions or for the *determined* twitch of his penis behind his jock -- but there are some things he *is* sure of. Some --

Bruce releases Tim's breast -- and watches Tim's expression turn heavy-lidded and dark. The kind of dark...

"Beautiful... beautiful girl..."

Tim blinks rapidly and covers his breasts --

Her breasts? Bruce strokes the backs of Tim's hands. "Tell me what I can have, Tim."

"I -- Bruce..."

"Tell me what you *want* of me. I promise you can *have* it --"

"Because you know I'll never ask for something I *can't* have?"

Bruce smiles ruefully and tugs Tim's hands away from himself, kissing them and nuzzling --

"Bruce --"

"That's part of it, of course. You are so beautiful... and your gender is in flux?"

"More -- it -- I don't know. I mean... a third gender could be -- or I could just be a boy with... more. I don't know," Tim says, but he doesn't look away. He --

"Did you like me referring to you as a girl?"

"When I'm dressed like *this*? Yes, Bruce," and Tim laughs, *she* laughs, high and sweet and sharp at once --

A razor-sliced morsel of fruit --

"I mean -- I don't know what I mean --"

"Anything you desire, Tim. I. I am yours, for this --"

"What about for all those other things?"

Bruce squeezes Tim's hands and tugs them out to the side before letting go and reaching *slowly* for Tim's breasts.

Tim pants and stares --

Licks her lips --

And arches toward Bruce, closing her eyes.

Bruce cups Tim's breasts through the negligee, through the brassiere --

Bruce splays his fingers enough that Tim can hopefully feel the heat of his fingertips *around* her breasts --

Tim moans and presses *closer* --

"I belong. I belong to many."

"Yes. Yes, you -- do. Bruce."

"I used to believe that that could only be incorrect. That it was weakness to even consider such a thing --"

Tim laughs and *rocks* her breasts against Bruce's palms --


"You know better now, Bruce? You *are* better now?"

Bruce laughs quietly and moves his hands to Tim's hips -- "No. I -- I may never learn that lesson, no matter who tries to teach me. However... I recognize, now, that there is a lesson which *could* be learned."

Tim parts her lips and studies him -- and covers Bruce's hands on her hips. "I like -- I enjoy this sensation."

Bruce takes a deep breath -- "So do I."

"I don't think. I don't think I can learn that lesson -- please."


"Please touch me? I mean. I don't --" And then Tim moans, and Bruce realizes that he's cupped Tim's buttocks --

That he's squeezing and *spreading* Tim through the gaff -- "I love you. I *want* you --"

"I know. I know. It was never --" Tim shakes her head --

"*Tell* me --"

"It wasn't supposed to be this *much*, Bruce!"

Bruce groans and squeezes Tim's buttocks *firmly* --

"*Fuck* --"

"Let me. Let me take you upstairs --"

"No, oh, God, no, I have to *sleep* up there!"

Bruce blinks and licks his lips. He tries to *think* --

Surely he can --

Or. There could be some... way...

Tim laughs breathlessly and covers her face. "I'm sorry. I'm really --"

"It's all right --"

"We can... stay here?"

Bruce swallows. "Perhaps. Perhaps you've had a fantasy...?"

"Oh... one or *two*," and Tim's smile is pained, but present.

"I'd like. I'd like to know all of them. I'd like to make them come true --"

"Including the ones where you love me best of *all*...?"

Bruce blushes. "You. You've wanted --"

Tim's smile grows wider, but no easier. "It's not -- it was never serious -- you didn't choose me."

"You gave me no *chance* --"

"Were you angry about that, Bruce?" And Tim cocks her head to the side. Her throat is --

Long and bare. Unmarked. How long will that last? How long could any lover *resist*?


Bruce strokes Tim's throat and presses on her suprasternal notch --


"I was angry. Even... even for some time after you proved to me that you would be a wonderful partner. I am not *wise* --"

"Please, Bruce --"

"I fell in love with you so *slowly* --"

"I know, I know --"

"*Weeks*. Weeks when I could only see my own pain --"

"I -- what?"

"Please, Tim. Let me -- *tell* me --"

"Just -- if you touch me --"

"Let me. Let me raise your negligee --"

"It's *your* --"

"No," Bruce says, and smiles as gently as he can. "You've made it yours, Tim. And I am... so hungry."

Tim stares at him, opening and closing her mouth --

Her pale *lips* --

Jason would've kissed them red, kissed them swollen and *sensitized* to every touch --


"I. I..." Tim shakes her head and *stands* --

"*Please* --"

"Don't -- but you weren't going to say anything about not pressuring me then. Right. I..." Tim *bites* her lip... and raises her negligee slowly, slowly --

She exposes her long, lean legs -- not quite coltish, anymore. They are strong, and scarred --

Shaved *bare* -- again, tonight.

Bruce shivers and clenches his hands into fists --

"You -- *touch* -- fuck, don't make me *ask* --"

Bruce *grips* Tim's thighs --

Tim moans and shudders, allows the negligee to *begin* to fall once more -- she catches it. "I. I -- like that?"

"Every -- I. I can be gentle," Bruce says, and *strokes* Tim's thighs, and shins, and calves --

He kisses the knife scar on Tim's left thigh --

He licks and Tim *groans* --

Bruce makes love to the scar, sucking and nuzzling --

"*Please* -- ohn -- *back* --"

Bruce growls and *yanks* himself away --

And Tim pants and stares, wounded and *apologetic* --

"It's all right. It's -- it can be anything --"

"I liked -- I didn't mean -- *fuck*," and Tim pulls off the negligee, revealing her deep-green gaff and the simple white brassiere --

"Would you like. I... I would like to make you more foundation garments --"

"God, do it, *always* -- would you." Tim swallows and reaches --

"Tell me -- no. Show me, Tim."

Tim pants and nods, gestures for Bruce to give her his hands --

Bruce does so --

And Tim brings Bruce's hands back to her lean hips, her --

The gaff is designed to expose the hollows of her hips --

*Tim* had demanded --

Bruce squeezes carefully, *firmly* --

"In. Push. Um --"

"May I. May I remove --"

Tim *whimpers*, *shakes* --

"I'm sorry --"

"If you." Tim swallows and steps closer. "Just -- I'll stop you if you do anything -- if you try to do anything --" And the rest of that is a moan, because Bruce is nuzzling her pubis --

Breathing deeply --

The gaff is too clean. *Tim* is too clean --

"I want your *sweat* --"

"You'll *have* it," Tim says, laughing -- and pushing with her hips.

"Yes. Please, yes --"

"I. I. You could -- I mean. I might stop you if I *like* it --"

"I will never abuse. I will never -- you need never *trust* me --"

Tim whimpers again -- and takes the last step closer. She --

Bruce licks a stripe up the center of the gaff -- he can taste so *little* other than detergent and fabric --

He does it again --

Again --

He growls and bites at the thin strip of purely black abdominal hair --

"Oh, *Bruce*. You. You want --"

"Everything. Anything --"

"Just -- just *do* --"

"Tim --"


And the gaff is around her slim, strong ankles --

Her penis rises strong and *straight* --

"A dozen fantasies. A *hundred* -- more --" Bruce shakes his head and licks the underside of Tim's shaft --

Tim makes a *strangled* sound --

"Beautiful *girl*," and Bruce mouths her, licks and nuzzles, pulls the shaft down and kisses the head -- "Your *taste* --"

"You. You can still see me -- oh, please, Bruce, please, it hurts -- *ahn* --"

And swallowing Tim is -- everything. A kind of everything --

For *this* moment, and he'd always thought Dick would have it first --

He'd *feared* that Kon-El would, and would thus lead Tim --

To where he will be going tomorrow -- hours from now. Bruce growls in his chest --

"*Bruce* --!"

Bruce *sucks*, hard and harder still --

Bruce strokes Tim everywhere he can *reach*, including the sweat-soft hollows of her knees --

Her tantalizingly smooth inner thighs --

"Please -- *please* --"

Bruce nods and cups her buttocks again, urging a thrust which will drive him --

*Fill* him --

"Oh -- *no*," and Tim pulls back, staggers, nearly *trips* --

Bruce catches her and pulls her close, kissing her pubis --

The carefully-shaped triangle of her hair --

He nuzzles and breathes and *shudders* --

"Bruce -- Bruce, it's not right, it's not --"

"Please. Please, let me *make* it right --"

"You shouldn't -- I have to touch you --"

"This *first* --"

Tim whimpers and pets Bruce's hair --

Claws his *scalp* --

"*Yes*, Tim --"

"Oh -- *God*, I'm not -- I'm not good. I've never been --"

"*Lies*," and Bruce sucks a kiss to Tim's shaved scrotum --

"*Bruce* -- oh -- oh, you're going to give me stubble-burn -- "

"I'll *shave* --"

"*Don't*," and Tim begins thrusting at the air, clawing harder -- "I want you, Bruce, I've always *wanted* you --"

"Will you love me?"

Tim shudders and cries out again --

Thrusts harder --

"Perfect girl. It's all right. It's -- I'll show you," Bruce says, and swallows Tim again --

Tim screams and claws at Bruce's *ears* -- and begins to thrust.

There is a part of Bruce which only wishes to go back to nuzzling and kissing --

There is a part of Bruce which only wishes to make this *last* --

But he can show Tim such things later. He can give her --

He can give her everything, in time, and please them *both*. For now --

For now, he can provide them with speed, and care --

A touch for Tim's anus --

"*Yes* -- oh, please, *yes*!"

Bruce feels his body *trying* to grunt, his penis trying to *spasm* --

I have *dreamed*, Tim --

Your beautiful body --

Sweet girl, loving girl, I *know* you --

And I know what you can take.

Bruce pushes in with one dry finger, doing it as slowly as he *dares* --

The sound Tim makes is a *screaming* growl --

He *stills* for the thrust --

Pants and growls again --

*Again* --

And then Bruce's finger is in to the second knuckle --

"In me. You're in me. You're -- oh, Bruce, you have to fuck me, you have to, I *need* you, I've always *needed* you --"

Your *brother*, Tim --

"Nuh -- no, can't wait, can't --" And Tim begins to work himself between Bruce's mouth and his finger --

*Yes* --

Tim cries out --

Tim *grips* Bruce's head --

"Fuck me, *fuck* me, please -- *fuck* me --"

Bruce counts off briefly -- and works himself in counterpoint to Tim's rhythm --

"No -- oh, *no* --"

And for a moment Bruce can only suck harder, thrust *faster* --

And a moment is all it takes for Tim to scream again and begin to ejaculate, shuddering and spasming --

Pulling *back* --

Bruce *grips* Tim's hip --

"Bruce --!" And Tim ejaculates twice more on Bruce's tongue before his knees buckle --

Bruce pulls out gently and eases Tim to the floor, tasting her --

*Panting* -- no. No. He is not --

"I'm sorry," Bruce says, and nuzzles Tim more -- and more than that. There is, in fact, stubble-burn on her thighs and lower abdomen --

Bruce will shave next time. *Every* time. For now he'll be careful --

"Beautiful girl. I love you --"

And Tim laughs, loudly and somewhat *desperately* --


"Ah... well. Are we going to pretend you didn't hesitate?"

Bruce winces -- and presses a kiss to Tim's hip. "I'm sorry --"

"Are you?" And Tim sits up on her elbows and raises an eyebrow.

Bruce closes his eyes -- no. He must see. He must -- "You are beautiful. And I thought... I thought it would be all right."

Tim nods and bites her lip -- stops. "It was."

Bruce takes a *deep* breath. "My love --"

Tim *sobs*, expression *crumpling* --

"No, please --"

"No doesn't *mean* anything to you -- I -- *fuck*," Tim shakes her head and crawls *away*, shaky and --

"Tim --"

"I'm not -- it's not your fault. Of course, it's not your fault," and Tim stands and *shakes* -

*Bruce* stands and reaches out --

"Don't *touch* me -- *fuck*, I'm not, this isn't --" Tim growls and raises her hands. The pushing gesture is unmistakable.

Maddening -- "Please, Tim. Let me -- let me ease you --"

"You *can't*," Tim says, and her smile is vicious, *bladed* -- until it isn't, and she's staring at her hands --

Looking around at everything and nothing at once --

She touches the back of Bruce's chair -- "It's just. This is *why* I didn't want to -- it's not your fault --"

"Beautiful girl, please -- please tell me... what I can do."

Tim hugs herself -- but only for a moment before she drops her hands to her sides and balls them into fists. "I'm sorry --"

"*No*, Tim, there isn't -- *I'm* sorry --"

"I'm not ready, Bruce," Tim says, and her voice is low and *hurt*. "I don't think I'll ever be --" Tim bites her lip what must be *painfully* hard --

And Bruce reaches out to take her hands. Just -- her hands. "We need do nothing you don't desire --"

"I want -- everything."

"Then --"

"You were *inside* me, and I --" Tim growls and yanks her hands away -- "You *hurt* me --"

"Oh -- no, I'm so sorry --"

"Not that way! That was fine, that was -- that was very." Tim covers her face with her hands and rocks on her heels. "And -- I don't think I'm female right now. And I'm going upstairs. You're. You're going to stay down here for --  a while."

Bruce swallows. *Breathes* -- "If I. If we could only hold each other --"

Tim's laugh travels through most of an *octave* --

"Tim --"

"It's. It's a *curious* feeling to want something *badly* and also be terrified of it."

Bruce clenches his hands into fists. "Yes."

"Yes. Yes, you would know *all* about it --" And Tim laughs more easily and drops -- his hands once more, smiling wryly. "How long did fear keep you away from Lex?"

"The better part of two years after I first recognized my attraction. I. Please."

Tim shivers and reaches to touch Bruce's face --

Bruce closes his eyes and presses his cheek to Tim's fingertips. "Only this -- it can be only this --"

"It's too much. I'm -- really *fucking* sorry --"

"Tim --"

"There's an *ache* --"

"I feel it, too," Bruce says, and steps closer. "I feel -- the pain is. Indescribable."

"And it has my name on it?"

Bruce nods mutely and cups Tim's hand -- no. He kisses it --

Tim yanks it *away* --

His eyes seem almost *bruised* --

And Bruce nods and steps back. Away.

"Thank you, Bruce. I'm --"

"Please. Please don't blame yourself, Tim."

The sound Tim makes is hurt, dark, full of *shards* -- it's another laugh.

"*I* will never blame you --"

"Bruce --"

"And this --" Bruce smiles ruefully *around* the acid in his throat. "This can be anything you wish."

"Don't --"

Bruce holds up a hand --

And Tim stares at it --

At him --

He nods, jerky and rough.

Bruce takes a breath. "My love. I am available to you. I ache to pleasure you again and again, and scent you on my sheets --"

"Bruce --"

"I ache to *hold* you, and taste your tears --"

"No. You don't. You *don't* --"

"I've tasted you, at last. I will. I will burn, I think, until I have tasted you again --"

Tim's penis twitches --

Tim moves to *cover* himself -- he stops, and glares at something in the distance.

He --

"It's your choice, Tim. I promise you. And. And I won't hesitate the next time --"

"That's what made me *come* -- "

Bruce *grunts* -- "*Tim* --"

"Fuck -- you -- ignore that. Forget that --"

"I *can't* --"

"I'm going upstairs. You -- I'm sorry --"

"I will not." Bruce swallows and presses his armored jock against himself until the pain lets him breathe. "I will not take your apology."

"Bruce, *please* --"

"Anything, Tim. Anything but your -- suffering."

"Not pain. Not -- of course you wouldn't put that in there, you *know* me --" Tim growls and runs a hand back over his short hair. "Goodnight, Bruce. And -- thank you."

Bruce nods once, and --

He can't keep himself from watching Tim as he brings the gaff and brassiere to the disguise hamper --

As he takes his robe from the hook next to Bruce's --

He pauses, then, and leans in -- stiffly and slowly -- to breathe the scent of Bruce's robe in. He. He knows he's being watched --

Bruce takes the gift for what it is and sits down. There will be --

There will be another chance. He must believe that.

He --

An hour doesn't pass before the tracers show Tim leaving --

And the largest monitor switches to a view of Tim tearing down the back roads on his nearly entirely unenhanced red and black civilian bike --

And then the view cuts to Barbara's workroom, where Barbara herself is eating licorice -- almost certainly raspberry -- and smiling wryly.

"Barbara --"

"He's going to Luthor."

"He... often throws himself into the work when he is... distressed."

Barbara raises an eyebrow.

"You don't believe that is the reason."

Barbara takes another bite of licorice and shakes her head.

Bruce closes his eyes and covers his face -- no. "I believed... I've always believed that, were I to somehow find a way to satisfy my lusts with honor, there would come a day when I could control myself with ease."

Barbara chews thoughtfully, swallows, and smiles. "Maybe if you weren't lusting for several dozen people."

"Barbara --"

"Have *you* counted?"


"I don't think you could've improved your performance very much, Bruce."

"That's what I'm *afraid* of."

Barbara snorts. "In all seriousness -- he *doesn't* blame you."

"He should --"

"He's wanted you to lose your mind for him for years. Probably since the first time he watched you disappear with Jason and return with cloakroom lint on your tuxedo."

"Jason. Jason would've eased him."

Barbara's expression softens. "Maybe. Or maybe he would've tried to punch him out of it."

"Barbara --"

"Levity," Barbara says, "is *allowed*."


"Especially since Cass now owes me four solid hours of computer training."

Bruce raises an eyebrow.

Barbara smiles again. "She said Dick would be the one who finally relieved Tim of his virginity. *I* told her she was underestimating how much Tim would want to stab himself with his own sexuality."

Bruce -- winces. "Indeed."

"To be fair, Tim *has* kept his dick under lock and key around her. Even more than he usually does. She couldn't have known that the big, neon, flashing alarms he'd put up to keep her away from himself were hiding *that*."

"But you did."


"I -- don't want to be the weapon he uses to wound himself."

"That's -- I'm pretty sure there's nothing you can do about that at this point."

Bruce closes his eyes and nods.

"Oh -- Bruce. I'm *also* pretty sure that he's working on stopping himself from doing things like that. He loves you too much not to. And -- he's going to have to do it himself."

"What... what do you think he wants with Lex?"

"And now *you're* using that bastard's first name -- well, all right, I suppose you're allowed," Barbara says, but her expression is sour. "I think he wants to punish himself a little more."

Bruce stands --

"Sit *down*."

"I must go to him -- protect --"


"Barbara --"

"Bruce. *Think*. He won't thank you for blowing the operation."

"I -- could go as Brucie --"

"And he would be *duty*-bound to ignore you and spend even more time with that -- person."

"Call him what you will --"

"Mm, no, I don't think so, Bruce. Please sit down."

Bruce takes a deep breath and turns on the monitor slaved to their tracers --

Tim is going at least seventy miles per hour. He could --

Bruce turns the monitor off and sits down.

"Thank you, Bruce. I... there's good news."

"I'm... listening."

"Tim's reports suggest Luthor is wrapped *securely* around his little finger."

"He's deceptive as a *rule* --"

"And Tim is inclined to play *down* his effect on people."

Bruce holds up a hand -- and calms himself.

Centers himself.

And when he looks up again --

Barbara smiles *hotly*. "There you are."

"Indeed. Lex... I didn't understand at the time, but I believe he loved me."

"Quelle surprise. Next you'll be telling me that you have a phenomenally large penis and the will to use it."

Bruce hums despite himself. "Barbara."

"Yes...? All right, I'll be good. Tim is taking his traumatized self not to you, not to his girlfriend, and not to his beloved brother -- whom Lex already knows is close enough to Tim for kisses."

Bruce nods thoughtfully. "He's going to be flattered. Possibly... moved."

"Almost certainly, going from *my* profile of him."

And that -- "Tim knows that."

"He *is* your partner."

"He's *using* himself --"

"Viciously, brutally, and ruthlessly... but the other good news is that he's probably going to enjoy himself *immensely*."

Bruce squeezes his eyes shut --

("Darling, what is it?"

"Sometimes. Sometimes you mean different things when you say that word --"

"Yes, of course, but we're *talking* about *you* and the fact that I didn't know before this *moment* that you could actually look more *terrifying*.

"It's just. I'm sorry."

"*Bruce* --"

"My dreams. It's only -- it's only my dreams. Again."

"Oh. They were. They were worse?"


"I think -- that this is probably where we hug in an *entirely* unmanly way --")

And Bruce had laughed --

And Lex had smiled as if he'd done a *trick* --

And then... there had been other things. After the hug. Bruce opens his eyes.

"I can't tell if that's the grimace of a good memory or the grimace of a *bad* one."

"I'm sure you'll be able to differentiate with time," Bruce says, and stands --

"Bruce --"

"Only this," and Bruce begins freeing himself from the uniform.

"Ooh. Does this mean you'll be going to sleep soon?"

Bruce raises an eyebrow and cracks open the chest armor --

"*I* slept all afternoon. Call it the perqs of a retired --"


"*Mostly* retired woman," she says, and eats more licorice.


"You... are a very attractive man."

"I'm glad you think so."

"You absolutely think you're less attractive than your parents were."

"They were both considered to be *exceedingly* beautiful --"

"And so are *you*, you ass."

Bruce... strikes a pose, and purses his lips.

Barbara stares at him.

Bruce *licks* his lips.

"You know -- I honestly can't decide if I want you to do that to Tim or not."

Bruce laughs quietly and goes back to removing the uniform. "You do."

"Oh, yes...?"

"The particular pleasure in your eyes whenever he looks sufficiently pained is... distinctive."

Barbara snickers and hums. "All right, yes, I'm a terrible person. *You* love me for it."

"And for many other reasons, as well. I -- he brought bugs with him, didn't he."

Barbara smiles. "Just the ones in his ears and around his throat."

"You'll be with him."

"Whenever he needs me. I have Kara on-call tonight if things get *too* nasty."

Bruce nods once and stretches, nude save for his boxer-briefs --

"Turn around."


"Pretty please...?"

Bruce turns, and slowly raises his arms above his head...

And Barbara sighs. "All right, yes, you're *going* to jerk off for me sooner rather than later --"

"Barbara --"

"*After* Tim is out of the belly of the beast. Though he'd probably make a terrible face for us hovering."

"So long as he is alive and well enough to be that *precise* variety of annoyed," Bruce says, and bends over --

Barbara makes a small sound --

Bruce hums... and plans several more poses.

It's an excellent way to ensure that Barbara will notify him should Tim call for help --

And to ensure that he will enjoy every moment of his stretches.


It's not that he thinks this is a *good* idea. Certainly, it's not tactically sound to put himself in range of the most dangerous man in the world when he's feeling less than *optimal* but --

("Tim... you're waking me up."

"I'm sorry --"

"What happened."

"Ah. Ah. I need to get out of this house. Badly."

"Come *here*. I -- whatever it is --"

"Lex --"

"That wasn't an order. It was -- a plea. Please listen to it.")

And Tim had swallowed and willed himself to stop shaking --

He'd tangled his *hair* getting the stupid headset on --

And doing push-ups hadn't been helping --


"I'm coming.")

Nothing in *particular* is *helping* --

There's stubble-burn on his *thighs* --

It was supposed to be *Dick* --

No, no, no. This is -- there *are* tactical considerations. Namely, the opportunity for Lex to believe -- with all of himself -- that he's getting some of his own back with the incredibly mean-spirited teenager who'd been leading him around by the nose.

Men like that always --

*People* like that --

When, exactly, had he become a misandrist? Wouldn't it be more likely for him to be a misanthropist in general?

Steph --

Steph has Cassandra tonight -- and possibly Clark. She doesn't need him. Dick is busy in Blüdhaven. Barbara is *Oracle* --

And the jewelry Tim is wearing tonight will have to make up for the fact that he's only wearing one knife --

Bruce --

("I'll show you.")

What, exactly, Bruce? That there's only so much teasing you can take before you do exactly what we both know I want?

That you'll *seduce*?

That you'll put up with me -- walking away.

Tim groans -- no, Oracle's jewelry has far too much pick-up for that. He -- he drives, and he thinks about comfort --

The kind that *can't* be found in a *lover's* arms --

Cold comfort, perhaps? Something -- something bracing, and more intellectual than not.

Something to occupy his *mind* --

Because that's the part of him which hasn't gotten very much in the way of *control* --

Steph --

Steph, I don't know if you *were* right. Surely -- surely there are people who aren't built for this sort of thing? There *has* to be room for that --

The whole human experiment is one of *variety* --

Sort of.

Tim lets himself laugh --

Tim stops that *immediately*, because if he's going to laugh like that --

Well. He might as well have let Bruce keep touching him.

Stubble-burn on his *thighs* --

This can't be --

It's *embarrassing* to react like this, it's --

It's not as if his virginity had huge, mystical importance to the *universe*.

(Just to him.)

That sound is even worse.

And -- he really had left Bruce hanging.

(Aching, he'd said --)

Steph, I'm no good at this. I'm really -- I'm so happy you and Cassandra finally began making love, and Clark -- well, Clark used to *ask* me about you. I always knew he would be -

He would be good for you --

And I can't. I absolutely can't. For anyone. If I can't for Bruce --

And Bruce *needed* me --

It was written all over his *face* --

His *hands* were shaking --

And he's here. He's -- here.

He pulls into the garage. He parks. He screams inside his head -- no, that doesn't work, at all.

Comfort. Conversation. The furtherance of his plan to make Lex *fucking* Luthor... dependent on him? Really? What on earth would he do with a *supervillain* in his pocket -- oh, no, that's an idiotic question. Fine. Dependence.

And --




"What --"

"Uh. Please don't ever seduce me to the Dark Side, man. Just -- seriously."

"Hmm. I take it Luthor called again...?"

"Fucking *yes*! And he's -- uh. I mean, I hung up on him again, but. Uh."

"Not right away...?"

"So I'm changing the subject right now. But remember that Dark Side thing."

"Mm. No promises.")

He's done a positive thing with this already. He can -- he can do more.

Yes, that's -- that's what he's going to do.

Tim steps off the bike and stretches reflexively, hanging his helmet on the handlebar.

He's dressed in a simple charcoal-grey button-down which makes his eyes seem less cold -- according to Steph -- relaxed-fit jeans, and the sort of boots which make Kon seem butch and Tim seem like he's trying too hard. They -- like the jewelry and the knife -- are his concessions to good sense. He can do a great deal of damage with them.

He doesn't have the faintest idea why he's wearing yet another gaff -- oh, wait, yes, he does.

Bruce's hands --

Bruce's *mouth* --

Bruce's *finger*, and it had gone so *deep* --

Tim pinches the bridge of his nose and goes, utterly unsurprised to not even have to *ask* for the penthouse access key -- as opposed to simply giving his name.

If he let Bruce adopt him, even *that* 'inconvenience' would stop.

The same would be true of Lex --

No, no, and no.

Tim heads for the elevators. He --

Has Dick called Bruce 'Dad,' yet? *Would* he? No. No -- or.

By accident. That could happen. And Bruce would...

Well, he doesn't *know*, of course --

He certainly doesn't know *exactly* what was informing Bruce's expression on the day his father had pointed a *gun* at Bruce --

The day Tim had agreed to *quit* --

No. He doesn't know everything. What he *does* know is that Bruce had always been the sort of correct about Tim's relationship with his father that spoke of *deep* disapproval.

The sort of thing which could -- *could* -- include jealousy.

Filial jealousy.

Tim strokes the necklace absently --

"Careful with that, Boy Impulse Control Problems."

Tim stiffens -- and subvocalizes. "Was I in danger of hurting the mic?"

"Just of calling attention to it. He hasn't seen you in it before."

Very true. "Noted. If I were a different sort of person I could let it sit off-center... but," and Tim steps into the elevator.

"Indeed. How fucked-up are you right now?"

Tim smiles -- and remembers that the elevator isn't bugged --

Wait, no, Barbara has absolutely already hacked the feed from the Chilton's security cameras. He turns his smile at the likeliest location for a camera --

"So I see. B would very much like you to *not* punish yourself."

"Punishing myself isn't in the plan even a little."

"Just the same. If you need to be beaten bloody? You *have* options."

Including *Roy*, who had stopped by Tim's room on his last visit to the Tower just to leer at him, compliment him on growing up 'hot,' and invite him back to his New York City 'playroom.'

"I like that smile better. Who does it belong to?"

Tim shakes his head.

"Tell me and I'll keep Bruce busy *anytime* you need me to."

Tim blinks --

That really is a wonderful offer --


"Ooh. I recommend it. Highly. For now... be safe."

Tim inclines his head and then stands straight --

And Lex is there in a thick robe with a double-measure of what Tim is going to assume is gin as soon as the doors open.

Tim walks out and smiles ruefully. "I'm driving tonight."

"You don't have to."

"Lex --"

"Take it," he says, and offers. "You don't have to drink all of it."

That... is true. Tim nods and takes it, sipping --

And letting himself breathe.

"You look... rather more like a weapon than usual."

Damn. Tim raises an eyebrow. "I promise I'm only *slightly* armed."

Lex smiles somewhat *secretively* -- and then shakes his head once and starts backing into the suite proper. "Let's get comfortable."

"I... can do comfortable," Tim says, and follows.

"Can you? Tonight, I mean."


"I rescind the question," Lex says, and turns to face forward. "Would you like to stay in the living room again, or...?"

"For now, yes -- ah. I mean... fuck. I mean fuck, apparently," Tim says, stopping and pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Will you tell me what happened." And there's something *off* about Lex's voice, something --

"Are you sure I shouldn't be asking you that question?"

Lex laughs softly. "Not even remotely. However -- answer my question first?"

"I -- yes. I'll tell you. At least -- at least some of it. It's the least -- I woke you up --"

Lex turns back around and seems to be doing his level best to *pin* Tim with a look.

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"That's better. Keep your *confidence*, darling." And then he raises his own eyebrow.

Well. Tim crosses his arms over his chest and taps the rim of the glass. "It would be one thing if it was *before* three a.m. when I called, but..."


"You can call me darling."

"As much as I'd like?"

Tim smiles -- helplessly. "We'll see."

Lex's expression is avid, dark with *pleasure* -- and he gestures them further into the suite. When they get to the living room, he moves to the chair he'd taken the last time, but --

"Share the couch with me?"

Lex stiffens --

"Or not," Tim says, and raises his hands.

"Did someone..." Lex scowls *blackly*. "Who hurt you?"

"I hurt myself... using Bruce."

Lex blinks and rears back --

And Tim sits at one corner of the couch with his legs curled beneath himself before nodding to the chair --

"No, not tonight," Lex says, and sits on the opposite end of the couch.

They're not significantly closer together -- this couch could comfortably seat five and a *half* Tims -- but it feels --

Better. "Thank you, Lex."

"You're welcome," and Lex turns to face him, crossing his -- very, very nice legs.

Tim squeezes his eyes shut.

"You had sex with him."


"I don't suppose I'm allowed to send Mercy to do something about his cock...?"

Tim smiles ruefully and opens his eyes again. "I seduced him."

"Tim, I know this fact may have escaped you, but he's nearly thirty *years* older than you are --"

"So are *you*, Lex."

"Yes, and I will *happily* take the blame for anything and everything --" Lex cuts himself off and glares.

"Yes, Lex?"

"Stop blaming yourself."

"I'm... not sure I can. Considering."

"Considering *what*? Did you tie him up and *force* him to fuck you?"

Tim blinks. "I... can honestly say that's not a fantasy I've had."

"Did you get him -- more drunk?"

"No, I --"

"Did you get him *high*?"

"*No* -- Lex --"

"Stop blaming yourself."

"I -- stepped on his kinks. Kinks I knew about, I mean."

"He has his *son* for that sort of thing --"

"Lex --"

"Tim, I have no interest whatsoever in publicizing Bruce's affair with your brother --"

"There is. No. *Affair*," Tim says, and gives Lex the look of murderous affront which works best on social workers --

Lex scowls again --

And waves a hand. "All right. You're not going to give on that point. I understand. Stop blaming yourself."

"I... dressed in a negligee --"

"What color?"

"Tourmaline-green --"

"Conservative or modern?"

"Conservative --"


"Exciting and... enhancing."

"You *do*  want breasts?"


"I --" Lex frowns again and turns away, drumming his fingers on the arm of the couch.

Tim sips more gin and thinks of cool silk --

Soft-over-*hard* hands --

*Big* hands --

Tim shudders --

"What did he do to you?"

"Sucked me off. Exceedingly well. And... fingered me." Tim stares at his gin --

Tim drinks more of his gin.

"He wanted more. He wanted. He wanted to *hold* me. I --" Tim swallows and sets the gin down on a coaster on the coffee table.

"Are you nauseous?"

"Ah... a little. It's not -- it will pass."


"I have. There's stubble-burn on my thighs."

Lex winces. "I suppose this isn't the time for me to say something *needy* --"

Tim looks at Lex.

"I'm sorry --"

"I want you, Lex."

Lex flares his nostrils. "I know. But it's wonderful to hear, just the same. If... somewhat poorly timed...?"

Tim snorts. "Trauma *isn't* really ever attractive, no --"

"I wouldn't say that."

Tim takes a breath -- "What would you say?"

"That I'm absolutely sure you took his breath away... and that it still isn't your fault."

"Lex --"

"That I want you *badly* -- and that it still isn't your fault."

"I'm not *twelve* --"

"You're beautiful, and brilliant, and entertaining, and a *magnificent* cock-tease. You are, however, also *seventeen*. And a product of a society which does everything short of *forbidding* maturity to teenagers --"

"I'm *not* --" Tim cuts himself off and turns away.

"Not that, Tim. Please."


"Look at me. Please."

Tim closes his eyes and swallows -- "This was supposed to be comforting. I'm -- wait, no, it's comforting to *certain* parts of me," Tim says, and turns to look at Lex again. "Go on."

"I will stipulate that you're anything but the average teenager. You are, in some ways, *younger* --"

"Because I didn't want to have sex?"

"No, Tim. Because..." Lex smiles gently.

It probably shouldn't make Tim *terrified* -- "Say it."

"All right. You're a romantic idealist. Under all your cynicism, all your misanthropy, all your *bitchiness* -- and I love every bit of all of the above -- you believe in... a better world. Higher emotions. Higher *callings*."

"I -- don't know what gave you that idea --"

"Don't you...? All right. Leave it aside for now. It's not important when compared to the central issue, which is that Bruce should've known better than to have sex with someone who was a) wildly conflicted about him, b) wildly conflicted about *sex*, and c) *living* with him."

"Lex, if no one is allowed to have sex with me until I stop being conflicted... ellipsis."

Lex laughs again. "It's entirely possible that I just think I'd do a better job."

Tim smiles. "I do like a man with confidence. They break more entertainingly."

"Oh, darling, I'd be *happy* to be broken on *your* wheel," and Lex... smolders at him.

Tim snorts. "That's -- all right, Lex. You win this round," and Tim grips his right ankle through his boot.

"Is that comforting?"

It's a reminder not to throw myself -- at you. Oh, dear. "Somewhat."

Lex raises a thin, uncolored eyebrow. "It's also disturbing?"

"My reasons for doing it are -- I. Leave that for now, please."

Lex narrows his eyes -- and then nods. "All right. Did you buy those boots because you're such a big fan of Superboy?"

In many ways -- "Mm-hm. I'm already aware that they don't work on me... but *they're* comforting."

"They make you feel closer to him?"

"In step, perhaps. I -- I'm feeling less confident than I --"

"Should, yes. Ask anyway. I am in your debt," Lex says, with odd formality.

"Lex... what *is* wrong tonight?"

Lex shakes his head.

Tim lets his expression be as sour as it wants to be --

And Lex laughs. "All right. I'll tell you... but not quite yet."

"Lex --"

"I need... more time," Lex says, and his expression is *gently* covetous. "More time with you."

Tim lets his lips part -- "All right. Then -- how did it go with your son?"

"You were right."

Tim smiles. "Do tell."

Lex narrows his eyes and cocks his head to the side.


"That's one of your tells, by the way. Your allegiance to the concept of family, your *passion* about making *my* family better... it says a lot about you."

"I have no problem with that whatsoever. Tell me."

Lex inclines his head. "It's driving me up a wall that I allowed the ubermensch to give him *both* of his names."

"Hn. And?"

"And -- care," Lex says, and scowls blackly at something inside his own head before turning back to Tim. "I was short-sighted and needlessly callous, and now Superboy has frightening weaknesses."


Lex lifts his hands and prepares to tick off points on his fingers. "One, he's vulnerable to people openly curious about him and interested in his opinions. Two, he's *lonely* -- there is no reason whatsoever for him to have decided to have two substantive conversations with *me*. Three -- he has no deviousness whatsoever."

Tim smiles. "A terrible crime."

"In his line of work? *Yes*. And please don't even try to tell me you don't know what I'm talking about."

Tim laughs softly and looks down at the couch -- but only for a moment. "There's absolutely a place for Machiavellian thought processes in the vigilante mind --"

"*Yes* --"

"But the world, as a whole, responds more positively to those vigilantes who don't seem to have anything of the kind."

"The world is full of *sheep*."

"Baa. Put enough sheep in one place and they can do a *great* deal of damage, Lex. And if you didn't know *that*... you would've spent far less time and money on social control over the years."

"I -- fine. Just the same, Tim -- he needs what I can give. And he's *going* to have it."

And that... is just what he wanted. Tim inclines his head, dealing with the flush for what it is --

"Have you eaten?"

"Hours ago."

"Let me --"

"Something... fattening."

Lex blinks.

Tim smiles ruefully. "Sometimes I eat ice cream with Barbara."

"And only with her?"


"You're adorable, Boy Wonder," Barbara says -- and Tim looks up at Lex --

"Do you want to feed me cake, perhaps?"

"Hmm. Superior to *pie* -- what about waffles?"

Tim licks his lips --

"I'll get the phone -- wait. Are you about to develop bulimia?"

Tim coughs. "Ah -- no. But I will be working out extensively tomorrow."

"Fine. Stay there. Please."


Lex walks out --

And Tim gives himself a moment to center himself, to --

What, exactly, does Lex think he can do to him -- or with him, or for him -- that Bruce couldn't? He --

It's *possible* that Bruce was an inadequate lover in some way as a teenager -- no, Lex thinks Bruce has pickled himself. Lex has *every* reason to believe that, and --

And that's the way it has to remain. Perhaps Tim will just avoid answering more questions about the loss of his virginity.

He reaches up to stroke the stud in his ear -- not that.

"O," Tim subvocalizes. "This suite...?"

"Not bugged even a little. Luthor almost certainly had it swept as soon as he moved in."

"All right."

"What are you going to tell him about the significance of the necklace if it comes up?"

Tim smiles and uncurls his legs enough to take off his boots and socks. "The open circle --"

"*Empty* circle."

"Hn. It hasn't found the right way to be filled."

"Oh, Boy Wonder. One day... well. Keep anticipating."

"And fearing?"

"Of course."

"R-1 out," Tim says, and sets the boots and socks down next to the couch --

And opens the first two buttons on his shirt --

And stretches out with his back against the arm of the couch and his legs straight. Lex will still have plenty of room, and --

He's relaxing. That's allowed. That is, in fact, *optimal*. Relaxed individuals almost never look as though they have anything to hide --

And Tim Drake would be grateful to Lex --

*Pleased* with his progress with Superboy --

And inclined toward making any number of excuses in order to justify continuing to enjoy himself.

Tim sighs and stands --

Considers --

Paces --

Bruce's *hands* --


What *is* he doing right now? What had he thought when he saw where Tim's tracers had stopped? Hopefully --

Hopefully he isn't thinking about Lex's very nice legs and very attractive... everything. Nearly everything. That pesky supervillainy *remains* --

Tim snorts to himself -- and stiffens, because he can feel someone watching him. He relaxes himself deliberately --

Considers the *lack* of other cues --


"Yes, Tim. May I speak with you briefly." And Hope is -- at the east exit from the living room.

Tim turns to face her. "Of course," and Tim moves to join her. She's wearing well-tailored plain cotton pajamas the color of cream, and a matching silk scarf around her braids. There is no makeup, and she remains --

Infinitely more disquieting than the most lifelike and beautiful waxwork.

"Will you continue to... tease Lex."

"While he continues to find it entertaining," Tim says, honestly. "There's no percentage whatsoever in doing so beyond that point."

Hope looks at Tim's feet --

Tim's throat --

She nods. "I believe you should tease him less even before he stops finding it entertaining."

"Yes? Why so?"

"He is... lonely."

Tim blinks.

"Do you find that surprising."

"Ah... he *does* have the three of you. And... other lovers?"

Hope stares *into* him. Balefully.

"Or... I could not ask that question. Ah. Ever again."

"I was not threatening you."

"No? Ah -- all right."

"I do not threaten, as a general rule."

"That... yes, I imagine that would be both needlessly time-consuming and somewhat problematic in your line of work."

"Yes. I believe you should allow him to... touch you."

Tim swallows. "And -- why? I mean... I imagine it would make him happy --"

"Yes. It would... prove things."

"I would think you'd know that such things were possible without sex."

"I did not mention sex."

Tim blinks and -- "Oh. Yes. Right. I'm. I'm not very good at cuddling, Hope --"

"Are you willing to be taught."

"Ah. I meant -- I manage to cuddle with my girlfriend fairly successfully. And -- sometimes with my brother --"

"Do you believe that Lex is worth less."

*Yes* -- sort of. But -- "I never -- I've never considered cuddling with him. In either a positive *or* a negative light."

Hope nods.

Hope blinks once.

"Consider it. Good night," she says, and turns and walks away.


Well. That --

Tim shakes it off -- no, not that. What would Lex get out of allowing one of his bodyguards to expose one of his emotional vulnerabilities? To make it *plain*.

It's *possible* that Hope had chosen to speak to him on her own accord, but --

Tim frowns.

Allowing Lex to touch him --

It wouldn't have to be more than a *hug*, friendly and warm, possibly spiced with a certain amount of additional teasing...

Bruce would have loved that tonight.

Bruce *needed* that tonight --

Nearly *everyone* appreciates some degree of physical contact after a sexual encounter --

It's *human*, and Tim had refused it out of hand. He'd barely even *touched* Bruce, and that's something --

It's something he used to *beg* for, however silently and internally --

Tim growls at himself and crosses his arms over his chest. And stares at the perfectly dull carpet. And --

And Lex announces his return with a sigh. "You're blaming yourself again."

"Ah -- it's more berating at this point," Tim says, and turns to smile at Lex --

Who closes the distance between them and reaches out with an open hand.

Tim looks at it --

Thinks about it --  no. Just. There's no --

There's nothing wrong and a great deal of tactical *possibility*. He takes Lex's hand and brings it to his face, closing his eyes and dragging Lex's fingertips along his cheekbone before pulling back.

Lex inhales sharply. "Thank you."

"Thank *you*."

"Oh, yes?"

"I'm not thinking about Bruce anymore."

Lex gives him a *shrewd* look. "I don't think that's true."

"It's more true than it could be. Couch?"

"I'd like... for you to share my bed tonight."

Tim smiles. "Noted."

"Was it the fact that he wanted to hold you that threw you most of all?"

"He's never been especially... cuddly."

Lex's smile is distant. "He was. Once. He never seemed to figure out how to *ask* for that sort of thing, but when it was given... he could make anyone feel like the most generous and loving person in the world solely for providing a hug."

The way he'd responded to Tim touching his cheek --

Lex blinks. "I'm sorry."

"No --"

"We're not going to think about him, darling. How do you feel about business in general?"

"Ah -- guilty. My father tried very hard to get me interested in the inner workings of DI."

Lex rears *back* -- but only for a moment. "All of this simply for letting you wake me out of a sound sleep?"

"It's -- rather a big favor --"

"Tim. How lonely *are* you?"

"Ah. Lex. I have a girlfriend --"

"And a brother, and a friend who is fifteen years older than you, and a young woman who reportedly refuses to speak more than strictly necessary, and *Bruce*. Who else?"

Kon and Bart on weekends. Some weekends.

Connor over e-mail once a week --

"All right, I rescind that question, as well. Why didn't you call your girlfriend tonight?"

"She's with her other lover," Tim says, and -- yes. He moves back to the couch and --

He can't lay himself out again. He sits with his legs curled under him again instead --

"You have a beautiful throat."

"Thank you --"

"Stay with me tonight."

Tim hums. "I'm tempted to punish you for that, Lex."

"But you *won't*... because you know precisely what it sounds like when I'm giving orders," Lex says, and closes the distance between them again --

And rests a hand on Tim's shoulder. It's warm through Tim's shirt --

"How often do you spend the night with your girlfriend?"

"When I can."


"Four to seven times a month," Tim says, and rolls his head on his neck. "How often do you spend the night with... someone?"

"Never with Mercy. I often spend *part* of a night with Hope. Prudence likes to sleep across the foot of the bed, which isn't the most restful thing in the world."

"Ah. Hm."

Lex laughs softly and squeezes Tim's shoulder before letting go and moving back to his end of the couch. This time, he stretches his legs and crosses them at the ankle. His skin must be --

No. "Your other lovers?"

Lex shakes his head. "Never."

Tim frowns. "Not... any of them? Ever?"

"You may have noticed that I'm not the most trusting man in the world."

Tim snorts. "And yet -- somehow -- you want to sleep with me."

Lex waves a hand. "I'm giving myself permission to leave you dozing if I need to."

"I think I'd like you to have someone you could sleep with on a regular basis, Lex. It... renews me."

Lex raises an eyebrow -- and then nods. "There is no doubt in my mind that a boy like you *absolutely* needs to be renewed from time to time."

Tim smiles and strokes down the buttons of his shirt. "A boy like me, Lex...?"

"You're getting your sparkle back at *speed*, aren't you."

"Some of us were born for it."

"You walk like a *pissy* supermodel when you're in heels. When you don't walk like a dominatrix."

Tim shows his teeth. "Thank you."

"And when you don't walk like a weapon -- how do you dance?"

"T-Rod informed me that I danced like a weapon, too. I don't have much in the way of... rhythm."

Lex rests his cheek on his fist. "You're stunning. Interest in capoeira?"

Tim waves a hand. "I think I'd make an ass of myself, frankly."

"Is your pride great enough to keep you from trying?"

"Ever...? No. For now, yes." That's really *only* for those times when Dick is determined --

Lex nods thoughtfully. "Judo. Karate. What else?"


"*Formal* training?"

Tim waves a hand. "One of my fellow students... liked my style. She taught me quite a bit off the books."

"For what reason?"

"Hn. Apparently, solely for the opportunity to hit on me. Gotham is a very interesting place to live."


"Yes, Lex?"

Lex smiles, pleased and warm --

His smile lines don't make his expression *gentle* --

Absolutely nothing here needs to be gentle. Just --

"Did you just want to see me responding positively to that?"

"Possibly. I would've slept with Bruce. I did, in fact, fall asleep in his arms more than once."

Tim shakes his head. "You're a better man than I... in some ways."

Lex snorts. "Tim."

"He -- I wouldn't let him carry me to bed. The idea of making love to him somewhere I'd have to sleep... or *near* to where I sleep -- ah. I think I might need therapy, Lex."

Lex bites his lip -- stops.

"You *are* allowed to laugh at me."

"Are you wearing a gaff tonight?"

"Oh, yes."

Lex nods again. "Please don't have sex with anyone else you don't want to touch."

Tim makes a face.

"That's adorable. Do it again?"

"*No*," and Tim glares. "It's not that I don't *want* to touch him. I've even... I've imagined being hugged by him and -- things of that ilk."

"He's never *hugged* you?"

"When my mother died. And, again, when my father died."

Lex stares at him.

"It's not that there weren't other *opportunities* --"

"But he somehow didn't *take* them? Did he forget that you were there because you were so short? What?"

"Lex --"

"*Lionel* hugged me more than that, Tim!"

Tim lets his expression turn sour again. "One? Bruce *isn't* my father. Two? You wound up *killing* the man, so I really don't think you get to talk --"

"I'm sorry --"

"You are *not*!"

"I'm sorry for my *next* question," Lex says, and raises an eyebrow.

Tim narrows his eyes.

"You're beautiful -- how much physical affection did you get from your *blood* family?"

Tim *tenses* -- no. No. He can -- it's a reasonable question. "They weren't the touchiest people in the world --"

"You can leave it there --"

"And let you make insulting assumptions? *You* didn't even visit your son in the crèche, or -- wherever his tube was."

"Some of the scientists did, in fact, call it a crèche. And I did visit him there. Multiple times."

Tim blinks. "Did you say anything to him?"

Lex smiles ruefully and shakes his head. "I mainly plotted and schemed, I'm afraid. There was no way to be sure that we were successful at programming him with information. There was no way to be sure he would ever have a *consciousness*."

Tim nods and tugs at a fold of his jeans. "Steph and Dick have taught me a great deal about... cuddling."

"Have the lessons taken?"


Lex raises an eyebrow at him.

"Oh -- fuck off. I let you touch me *twice* tonight!"

"Out of *gratitude*. You --" Lex smiles again. "Darling. Let's hug."

Tim -- doesn't make a face. Much --

Lex snickers.


Lex holds up a finger and turns away to laugh *harder*.

"All right, I've changed my mind, you don't get to laugh at me anymore."

Lex *hoots* --

"Oh, for the love of -- *Lex*."

Lex coughs and takes a deep breath --

And another --

And then he turns to Tim with a wild and *feverish* look in his eyes. "Visit me."

"No -- not yet," and Tim frowns at himself and turns away --

And Lex moves closer and cups Tim's jaw *gently*. He doesn't try to turn Tim to face him again. He --

He doesn't.

Tim swallows --

"I love you."

"You *what*?"

And Tim is expecting a laugh, a joke, an elaboration --

He gets none of the above. At all. At --

Tim turns to look at Lex --

And Lex is only looking at him patiently, openly, *hungrily* --

"Oh. Ah. Ah."

"Darling -- feel free to wake me up in the middle of the night."

"Lex --"

"Feel free to tease me *bloody*."

"You don't --"

"Feel free to lie to me about absolutely *everything*, because a) I know you will *anyway*, and b) you do even that attractively. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find liars who make it look *good*?"

Tim... is blinking. He's doing a lot of that.

Lex parts his lips and strokes Tim's chin with his thumb. "Did you kiss him?"

"No. I. Lex --"

Lex pulls back and releases Tim's jaw, lifting his open hands into view.

"I -- all right. I don't know what to say."

"Do you feel young right now, darling?"

"Ah... yes, as a matter of fact." The blush is *belated* and feels -- somewhat terminal. "Lex... I'm --"

"No. Don't treat me differently. Not -- not by one *iota*, darling. I don't want your gratitude and I *don't* want your pity. I want your desire, your humor, your manipulativeness, your bitchiness -- everything else. *Everything* else."

"And how do you intend to get it?"

"Ooh. Much better, darling," Lex says, and shows his teeth. "I... am going to be entertaining, and diverting, and attractive -- work for me."

"No, Lex."

"Mm. More attitude?"

Tim sneers despite himself --

And Lex grins like a *happy* shark and looks Tim over like a project. And that --

*That* --  "I can't give you what you want, Lex."

"Oh, darling, no, keep your *sparkle*."

"*Lex* --"

"All -- *all* -- you have to do is allow us to continue enjoying each other's company -- and that frown is adorable, too."

"*Thank* you, Lex, but --"

"*But*... you have some ideas about what love entails? Perhaps about what it would entail with *me*?"

"Perhaps a *few*, yes."

"I'm forty-three years old, darling. I won't say you *can't* give me blue balls -- you and I both know you'd just see that as a challenge --"

Tim snorts --

"Perfect, where was I?"

"Explaining that you *don't* love me with your penis."

Lex gaps open the top of his robe and looks down --


"I *believe* it's only infatuated at the moment."

"So are *you* --"

"No, darling. I'm afraid I'm going to have to put my foot down on that score. Even if I didn't know myself that well -- and there are times when I don't -- my Virtues know me very well, indeed."

"You're telling me that *they* told you that you're in love with me."

"Hope has been at my side nearly every day for twelve years, darling, and Mercy... well, I *was* older than you when I met her, but not by much."

That's... painfully true. It's -- "I don't want to hurt you."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "Then don't."

"*Lex* --"

"One moment."

Tim narrows his eyes again -- he doesn't growl. He just... doesn't. "Go on."

"And fuck myself sideways, perhaps?"

"It would be *almost* like trying to take Bruce's penis --"

Lex snorts again. "Good... science. It's probably even *bigger* now. I -- well," Lex says, and shakes his head. "Darling."

"I'm listening."

"Darling -- there's a difference between you setting out to deliberately hurt me, possibly by stepping on my cock with those boots --"

"There are *other* kinds of hurt --"

"*Or* treating me with contempt when I *haven't* done anything to deserve it, or just showing up in the middle of the night to torture me with your fabulous little body while not intending to let me so much as *stroke*... and this is your cue to feel guilty."

"I --"

"Except that it also *isn't*, because a part of you wants to share my bed *badly*. This isn't a game for *you* anymore, either," and Lex's expression is absolutely a dare for Tim to call his bluff.

Tactically -- something.

Just -- what on earth *would* Bruce do in a situation like this? Assuming there weren't any tureens of gazpacho to dump on Lex's mellowly gleaming head?

If it allows him more time with Lex -- and more *access* -- then... what?

At what point is he allowed to call the game on account of *terror*? Or -- no. The answer to that question is, of course, that it's *never* a game, Robin, and there is *no* escape, no retreat, no *surrender* --

"Darling, are you thinking about Bruce touching you again?"

Well -- "Ah... emotionally, yes," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "It's still a game, Lex. It can't be anything but."

"I disagree."

"You're entitled to your opinions."

"Darling --"

"Repetition doesn't make it true."

Lex laughs softly. "I honestly thought I would have to do something *dastardly* to get you to put one of your walls up."

"You should get to know your lovers better."

"Then let me."

"I'm still here. And, for future reference, declaring your love to traumatized teenagers does, in fact, count as somewhat dastardly."

Lex grins. "Meaning he told you the same thing."

"I already *knew* -- ah. Anyway --"


"Lex, forget it."

"He's actually been trying to seduce you."

"He's been *trying* to *adopt* me."

"Same thing -- insert reflexive argument here."

Tim rolls his eyes --

"Don't do that. Please."

Tim lifts his chin --

Realizes he'd got that gesture from Steph at her most *irrationally* belligerent --

Fuck. *Fuck* --

Tim turns and plants his feet on the floor, his elbows on his knees, and his face in his hands.

Lex sighs and strokes over Tim's brush *lightly*. "I am, in fact, fully aware that I'm being hard on you."

"Oh, good."

"I think... I *think* I know you well enough to know that, right now, you wouldn't have it any other way."

From a *lover* --

You're not supposed to *be* my lover --

I *want* you --

I'm Robin. I'm Robin. I'm -- "I think it's time for me to go."

"Please don't."

"Did the concept of not *pressuring* traumatized teens *miss* you?"

"Yes...? All right, no, it didn't. We can play a different game altogether."


"Do you *like* that game?"

Kon had set fire to the Tower's copy with his eyes. It -- had probably been an accident.


Tim laughs quietly and sits up again --

Sits *back* --

"I want -- something," Tim says, and frowns.

"The food should be here imminently."

"I want --" Your hands on me. *Yours*. I want to feel them, and catalog my emotions and sensations, and cut it all out of myself until I can *laugh* at you --

At myself --

At the *heat* haze I can feel when you're looking at me --

Lex tugs Tim's hands away from his face. And raises an eyebrow. "Let's talk about something easy."

Tim snorts. "All right, I'm as braced as I can be."

"What's your gender right now?"

"Male. Ish."

"Do the clothes make the... person?"

"To a certain extent. There remains the question of what drives me to put on whatever clothes I *do* put on."


"Comfort. Security. Attractiveness. Lack of sexual availability."

Lex blinks. "And what confers that last?"

The jewelry -- no.

The knife -- unfortunately no.

The gaff -- never *again* --

"Ah. Apparently I wasn't thinking clearly."

Lex nods thoughtfully -- then raises an eyebrow and *slowly* lowers his hand toward Tim's chest.


*Slowly* --

Tim opens his mouth -- but nothing comes out until Lex's hand is pressed to Tim's sternum through the shirt, at which point he moans.

"Tim. There are any number of highly-skilled plastic surgeons in Metropolis."

"Not until I'm *eighteen*, Lex --"

"You should probably wait even longer than that... oh, did I imply that I *wasn't* thinking of something long-term?"

Tim opens his mouth again -- closes it and glares.

"You poor darling. Positively *surrounded* by people who enjoy your company and yearn to enjoy it *even more*."

("People *like* you, Tim!")

"Whatever will you do?"

"Apparently, I'll bitch. Lex --"

Lex moves his hand -- away.

"You're enjoying having the upper hand."

"'The upper hand.' Hmm. You have an interesting way of interpreting things like that, Tim."

"Are you saying you *don't*?"

Lex smiles. "I'm saying that I want to hear you moan... a great deal. But first I'm saying that it's time to eat," and Lex moves a solid foot away --

And, thirty seconds later, the bellhop -- a different one than had come the other night -- wheels in a tray with a terrified look on his face. Mercy is walking just *slightly* too close to him and smiling while fingering an unsheathed hunting knife.

She has one hell of a bruise on her face and a healing cut on her upper lip. She --

Doesn't look displeased by it in the slightest.

Lex snorts. "Mercy."

"Yes, Lex...?"


"*Anything* you say, Lex," she says, and swivels her hips enough that one brushes the bellhop --

Who lets out a small, helpless scream.

It is *exactly* who he is that he finds that amusing.

You *see*, Steph --

I think you haven't hit me with enough bricks.

I think --

Maybe if Cassandra helped?

Tim waves Lex off and tips the bellhop himself -- using *most* of the ready-cash he keeps on himself in case of emergencies and/or muggers who attack while Tim can't reasonably beat them into new careers.

Mercy gives him a dirty look for it.

Lex clears his throat --

And Mercy -- curtseys to him. While smiling as if she'd rather be using the knife to increase the number of Tims available for Lex's delectation.

Tim... shows his own teeth.

The bellhop looks back and forth between them -- perhaps with his life flashing before his eyes -- right.

Tim turns to Lex and raises an eyebrow.

"Your tender heart commends you, darling," Lex says, and nods to the bellhop -- "Thank you. We won't be needing anything else."

The bellhop runs --

*Nearly* trips -- and recovers and leaves at a brisk walk.

Tim takes a deep breath -- and doesn't relax himself in the slightest. Though he does stay loose.

Lex strokes Tim's right shoulder and hums. "Aikido, Tim...?"

"Just judo and karate. Why, have you studied?"

And Mercy -- growls.

Lex stands immediately --

"I'm *behaving*, Lex."

"Barely, darling," Lex says, and tilts Mercy's chin up what must be uncomfortably far. "We both know you can do better."

"We *also* both know that *you* can do better."

Lex hums. "And we all know precisely what you meant by *that*... so. You will not attend me, at all, tomorrow."

"Emergencies --"

"Will be handled by Hope -- and by Hope alone."

"That's not *safe*, Lex!"

Lex raises an eyebrow. "Then let's hope I survive. Understood?"

*Fuck* -- "Ah. Lex. I'd rather not be responsible for you not being *protected*."

"Your mother once told me that secrets were the gold standard, Tim. She was wrong: *respect* is the gold standard, and I have let Mercy forget that because it's been amusing to allow her to run roughshod over the world." Lex turns back to Mercy. "I'm sorry about that, darling. I *will* be more careful in the future. As for now... well. I won't say I'm no longer amused -- that could *never* be true -- but I *am* in need of a rather different sort of service at the moment. You *will* provide it."

She narrows her eyes. "Until when."

"Until I need a different sort of service altogether, darling. You *know* that. You are -- by far -- the single most *useful* person on the planet. You are versatile, adaptable, and skilled. You are a woman for *all* seasons... and you are my property. Remember that."

Mercy closes her eyes for a moment -- and when she opens them, they're blazing. "Yes, Lex."

"Then --"

"*Own* him, Lex."

Lex raises an eyebrow --

And Mercy doesn't waver, or look away, or even *blink*.

Lex releases her chin and taps it with his index finger before turning to Tim with a darkly unreadable look.

Tim raises his own eyebrow --

And then Lex nods once and turns back to Mercy. "I suppose we'll just have to see. Dismissed."

She shudders once, all over, and then turns to go at a slow, measured pace that calls attention to her aesthetically perfect shape -- and every last second of her martial arts training.

Tim takes another *deep* breath --

Considers relaxing -- no. He turns to smile ruefully at Lex. "I feel I should apologize, but I'm not sure for what."

Lex opens the tray. "Perhaps for being *almost* the worst possible person -- for Mercy's needs -- for me to fall in love with...?"


Lex hands him the smaller tray with his Belgian waffles --

"Thank you. But --"

"Do you think I should do something or other to prove my love to you, darling? Does that sort of thing *ever* work?"

"Ah... it depends on the definition of 'work.' Many grand gestures work brilliantly to convince the world that the gesturer is a... what's the word I'm looking for... oh, it's on the tip of my tongue... moron. Yes, that's the word."

Lex hums. "Lovely. I'll keep that in mind," and Lex...

Starts pouring chocolate syrup on his waffle.

In each and every hollow. He only fills them halfway, though, that's something --

"Oh, God."

"Yes, darling...?"

"You're. That's caramel... syrup..."

"Oh, yes, it *really* is," Lex says, and continues to fill each of the hollows. Some of it is dripping *out*...

"Are you. That can't possibly be -- ah."

"It's the most delicious thing in the *world*. And, if it makes you feel any better, I picked it up from the ubermensch."

Tim blinks. "You're serious."

"Oh, yes. He was discussing his vegetarianism with some apple-cheeked child reporter, and how it didn't have to be *either* dull or healthy. He mentioned *this* particular dish, and, after my atavistic horror *faded* --"

"I don't think mine ever will, Lex. Just... as an aside."

Lex grins. "Noted, darling. I had to see what it was like."

"And if Superman jumped off a bridge, would you *follow*?"

"Only if I left my kryptonite in my other pants. One must be *prudent* about such things," Lex says, then pours a puddle of caramel sauce over the top of the whole waffle.

"Oh -- Lex."

"It really is delicious, Tim."

"Do you mind if I... look away?"

"I hereby give you permission to wipe every last *atom* of sugar glaze off yours. There's enough butter in these to put you into milkfat shock plain."

"Oh... good."

Lex chuckles. "You make Alfred give you supermodel-sized *portions*, don't you."

"Tim-sized portions are perfectly adequate," and Tim begins to eat, pacing himself with one fresh berry per bite of -- delicious, buttery, sinful -- waffle. Lex's... sugary *swamp* disappears at a much faster rate.

He actually makes sounds of *enjoyment* --

No, he's not looking. He's --

"I do believe I'm getting a sugar *high*, Tim."

"I'm *going* to laugh at you when you crash. Derisively."

Lex snickers. "Remind me to never try to seduce you with chocolate-covered... anything."

"Not even if you put it on your penis, Lex."

Lex raises an eyebrow at him.


"You realize you just implied that showing you my penis -- touching you with it? -- would get me somewhere."

"Hn. Arrested... if we were in public."

"*Is* that a kink?"

Tim makes a face.

"Dark alleys? Rooftops overlooking the living, breathing city?"

"Gotham alleys are full of more and more *exciting* wildlife than what can be found in a bioweapons laboratory. Gotham *rooftops*... tend to fall on people."

Lex studies him for a moment. "The vigilantes seem to do all right, as these things go."

"Some of us like to keep our feet on the ground."

Lex laughs -- rather more than what the line is worth. Hm. Tim raises an eyebrow.

"Nothing, nothing. Just considering the run-ins I've had with vigilantes over the years."

"You really ought to keep that sort of thing to a minimum, Lex. You don't know where they've *been*."

"You'd be surprised."

Tim hums around an -- adequately ripe -- strawberry.

"I really do enjoy that light in your eyes, darling."

Tim lets his eyes go heavy-lidded and swallows.

"One day -- soon, one hopes -- I'm going to make you come *screaming*."

"Been there, done that, did one hundred seventy-eight push-ups in a futile attempt to erase the memories..."

Lex snorts. "Yes, but I'm going to do it *better*."

"Anything you say, Daddy. Now, tell me about all your superhero surveillance. Is it true that Superman is the biggest manwhore on the planet?"

"Are you *interested* -- ah, yes, you want him to *rape* you."

"Only sometimes."

Lex shakes his head and uses his thumb to swipe a smear of chocolate and caramel off his otherwise empty plate, before sucking it off with -- loud -- relish.

"I have significantly less respect for you now, by the way."

"*Noted*, darling. He is... difficult to catch on camera."

"Of course."

"That said... he is *definitely* the biggest manwhore on the planet, yes."

Tim hums and eats another bite of waffle, chewing meditatively...


"It's an interesting question, don't you think? Whether he's promiscuous because he's *super*, or simply uses his super-ness to be as promiscuous as he wants to be, I mean."

Lex studies him again. "Do you look *down* on him for it?"

He lets it distract him from *missions* -- no, not that. "Perhaps a little. I wonder what he could be doing with his time if he *weren't* screwing... whoever he was screwing."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "He's not allowed downtime?"

Tim blinks. "I... everyone is allowed downtime."

"Are you *sure*...?"

That... is a surprisingly good question. Hm. "Allow me to consider that in depth for a moment."

"Please do," Lex says, and uses a wipe on his hands before pouring himself some white tea.

It's not that Tim expects everyone -- or anyone -- to spend every waking moment working. That would be ridiculous and impossible. People -- *Bruce* -- who try to do things like that fall apart *quickly* -- and they do so physically, intellectually, *and* emotionally. That last can be the most dangerous -- emotionally broken people make decisions which aren't just foolish or damaging, but also actively hurtful to themselves and others.

Sometimes *countless* others --

And, really, the world -- and every living being on it -- has a large number of reasons to want Clark to be rested and happy --

As rested and happy as inhumanly *possible* --

And it's not like Clark *doesn't* bring happiness everywhere he goes, including to the people Tim loves most in the *world* --

So why, precisely, does he think less of the man?

Tim winces and eats more of his waffle. He doesn't want it to get cold -- he'd then have to *acknowledge* the amount of fat he's consuming, and that would never do. It --

Lex cups Tim's shoulder. "You're allowed uncharitable thoughts."

"I do know that, Lex. I quite enjoy having them about *you*."

Lex grins. "But not about your heroes...?"

"They're not *my* --" Tim cuts himself off and has another two bites of waffle.

And three berries.

And --

Lex hands him a cup of tea.

"Thank you."

"You're *entirely* welcome, darling. Go on, wish the creature ill."

"Are you trying to turn *me* into a supervillain?"

"Do you think it would... work?"

Tim narrows his eyes at Lex and glares. While sipping tea. And -- "You honestly look like you'd *enjoy* me stepping on your genitals, Lex."

"Only metaphorically. My genitals have given me any number of reasons to appreciate them over the years, after all."

"Including pointing you at teenagers...?"

"Not just *any* teenagers -- oh, that's terrible. Hm." Lex eyes him thoughtfully. "I don't suppose you'd let me try to artificially age you."

Tim stares at Lex.

"Oh, don't be like that, darling. You'd take a nap in a nutrient bath and *poof* -- you'll be able to go *straight* to Drs. Nip and Tuck. How big...?"

"No, *thank* you, Lex. And -- I haven't decided, yet. I'd been thinking a B cup, but discussing the matter with my girlfriend made me consider larger sizes."

"It can be difficult to make the larger ones look and feel realistic on smaller-framed people, but... I support you in whatever you choose."

Tim raises an eyebrow and eats his last bite of waffle.

Lex *strokes* Tim's shoulder and then sits back again. "Darling, I'm invested in your feeling as beautiful as you are. Confidence is often the *most* attractive thing about a person."

"Along with their uncharitable thoughts."

"Oh, yes. But -- again -- not just *any* uncharitable thoughts. I have no attraction to short-sighted thugs, and..." Lex smiles darkly. "I do, in fact, regret every occasion where I allowed myself to act as one. Thoughts about downtime...?"

Tim sets his tray back on the cart and stands up to stretch --

To pace a little -- just to the windows. He takes in the view for a moment, forcing himself to deal with the fact that he can't feel the wind on his face --

Can't *smell* the city --

Can't *hear* the city --

And *can* see a certain telling flash of red and blue... outside of Lex's field of view. Hn. "I'd like to be... a better person."

"But you don't think you can be, darling?"

"I don't think I can want it *enough*, Lex. I..." Tim shakes his head. "I wouldn't be at all surprised to discover that I look down on Superman's extracurricular activities because he's having something I *can't*."

"There's nothing stopping you -- no, that's not true, at all, is it. *You're* stopping you."

"I made... a spectacularly bad showing with Bruce, Lex."

"It wasn't the first awkward and moderately traumatic first time in the world, darling."

"I know that," Tim says, and crosses his arms over his chest. "I just don't think I could ever... no, forget that. I'm not actually *allowed* to treat people unfairly, Lex, so --"

"You really are."

"No, I'm not. It's the bargain I made with myself when I decided to let myself be as mean as I wanted to be -- sometimes."

Lex hums thoughtfully.

Tim waits -- and watches Clark rise above the roof of the old Mourning Arms hotel. It *hadn't* been overly damaged by the 'quake, but there are other issues in Gotham, sometimes.

Bruce doesn't like to think about this sort of thing, but the fact of the matter is that when seventeen people are brutally murdered in a single old building over the course of a decade --

When that building is in *Gotham*, certain things... change. And linger.

Honestly, the fact that *Clark* is lingering there is, thus, a *problem* -- no. If Tim has to save him, he will. Simple as that.

And Clark reaches out with open hands.

It only makes Tim want to put him in robes and surround him with lambs a *little* bit.

Tim laughs to himself while subvocalizing 'friends, Clark,' and watches Clark beam and fly away --

"I'm very curious about what has your attention."

"Haunted hotel across the street."

"You -- you believe in ghosts."

"Lex. I live in *Wayne manor*."

"And we *both* know Bruce would be a different person if his parents came back to visit from time to time."

Tim laughs and grins back over his shoulder. "I think they do, Lex. I think they come back and *yell* at him for being a pathetic failure and a disappointment... but those aren't the ghosts I'm talking about."

Lex narrows his eyes and crosses his legs. "Do tell."

"Jason Todd. And saying more than that... would break several different confidences." Including his own.

"But... you've seen it? Felt it?"

Tim thinks about Anarky --

His *first* trip out as not-quite-Robin --

The *fire* in him, the need to go out and hurt and hurt and *hurt*, and never mind taped knuckles or armor or anything but his own *fists* --

And the feel of someone else smiling with his face. Tim closes his eyes and shivers. "Yes."

"*Now* I think you need therapy."

Tim snorts. "Don't think I'm happy about the fact that there are honestly supernatural creatures in the world, Lex. I'm far more of a fan of science fiction." Though a part of Tim will always, *always* miss that *particular* fear that would take him --

Looking at the Case should never, ever be safe.

"Anyway," Tim says, and waves a hand. "If I can't keep promises to myself, then I'll almost certainly fail at keeping them to anyone else. And that... is unacceptable."



"I promise to *always* help you keep your promises to yourself... so long as they're reasonable."

"As my desire to treat Superman fairly *isn't*?"

"Darling, I have no objection whatsoever to moral and emotional consistency."

"For other people...?"

Lex laughs. "Yes. But -- I'm working on it," he says, and stands. "I've canceled every remotely shady arms deal I was making."

Tim blinks. "I... yes?"

"Yes. I've also scrapped my nerve gas project and ordered the little worker bees back onto cancer research -- that's how they discovered the nerve gas in the first place."


"My -- numerous -- ties to organized crime will take a bit of time to work my way out of, especially since I'm going to need several teams of mercenaries for Hope to drum into shape to discourage reprisals," and Lex stares at his hands. "Hm. Bruce did this a lot when we were young."

Tim -- breathes. "He still does. Why are you doing it?"

"I'm wondering who I am -- no, that's a lie," Lex says, dropping his hands to his sides and smiling at him again. "I'm wondering who I've *been*. I know *precisely* who I am now."

"And that is?"

"The man who will do many, many things in order to have you."

Tim lifts his chin. "Bruce offered me anything."

"Did you believe him?"

"I believe that he'd wound himself to *try* to give me anything... and wound himself even more when he failed."

"*I* will not fail."


Lex's smile is... absolutely rapacious. "I will not fail, Tim. I am, appearances to the contrary, a realist. I will not promise you that I'll become a friendly person. I will not promise you that I'll stop hating the ubermensch. I will not even promise you that I'll stop plotting to take over the *world*. But I'm promising you now that I will always -- *always* -- be a man who you can give yourself to without shame."

Tim swallows and -- blinks.

And stares.

And --

Lex comes closer. "I understand, darling. You're still not *accustomed* to people loving you for exactly who you are. There were always goals to achieve, tests to take, changes to make within yourself..." Lex shakes his head. "Your girlfriend. Does she appreciate you?"

"Yes. She -- she tried to explain... ah. It doesn't matter --"


Tim turns to face Lex more fully --

He moves closer. Just -- close enough to smell the hints of cologne he'd worn yesterday, the *mild* soap he'd used on himself --

Tim touches Lex's chest. Just -- his chest.

He pushes the robe aside --

He gasps for the feel of *shockingly* smooth skin, smooth and nearly entirely *unscarred* -

And Lex parts his lips and *starts* to lean in --

Tim shakes his head --

Lex pulls back. "What else needs to be said?"

"Ah..." Tim lets his fingers splay --

He can feel Lex's *heartbeat* --

"She tried to tell me... this. That I could have this."

"With *me*?"

"With -- whomever I wanted. She's less than impressed with my attraction to you."

"You talk to her about everything," Lex says, and he sounds -- proud. Thrilled. "She's... a partner to you?"

"I've thought about... marrying her someday."

Lex blinks. "Really."

Tim laughs and moves his hand. "It's not the *most* ridiculous fantasy I've ever had --"


"I. Yes?"

Lex raises his eyebrow and tugs gently at the ties of his robe.

"You're. You're wearing boxer-briefs?"

"Yes. I rarely sleep entirely naked."

"You should... be comfortable in your own --" Tim snorts at himself and pinches the bridge of his nose. "Let me try again."

"Of course."

"I'd like to see more of your body."

"It would help if you would look up."

"Yes, I suppose it would," Tim says, and doesn't look up --

And so gets to see Lex's robe puddling on the floor. He --

"I wish."

"Yes, Tim?"

"I wish I was wearing my breasts," and Tim continues not to look up. Lex's feet seem far too *strong* in appearance to be so pale.

No one should be paler than he and *Bruce* are --

"You make me feel *ruddy*, Lex."

Lex laughs softly, breathily -- "You aren't. Do your breasts make you feel more actively sexual?"

"Yes...? Ish. Ah. I'm going to -- step back," Tim says, and does it.

"I can take your fear, Tim."

"I'm actually -- I'm a fear-based organism, Lex --"

"No, you're a *bitch*. A *glorious* bitch -- and glorious bitches should never fear anything about their desires."

"Sometimes the fact that Superboy is a three-year-old is tempting."


Silence --

Tim smiles at Lex's feet -- and looks up *slowly*, allowing himself to enjoy the view. Lex's body is well-sculpted -- in the Greek model. He'd look ridiculous oiled like some gym-bunny, but as something cast in marble --

He would've been a redhead --

But there aren't even any freckles --

His nipples and small areolae are nearly *peach* in color --

His boxer-briefs are *violet* --

And his expression is wry. When Tim finally looks up far enough to notice it. "Yes, Lex?"

"Did you want to *teach* him something, darling...?"

"Ah... bondage. Domination. That sort of thing."

"And you want his *other* father to punish you for it...?"

"I've definitely had that fantasy, yes."

"Can you only be punished by the deserving...?"

And -- yes, he's absolutely getting hard for this. In a *familiarly* uncomfortable way. "I -- it would mean more."

Lex nods thoughtfully again. "Still more incentive for me to... improve myself."

"Did you want to punish me for my bitchiness, Lex...?"

"I could never, ever do that, darling," Lex says, and crosses his arms over his chest. He --

"A little too Yul Brynner --"

"You can take it. And it's either this or grip at myself like a *callow* teenager."

"I -- suppose we couldn't have that," Tim says, and gives himself permission --

He looks down, and Lex's bulge is growing by the moment. Thickening, and --

His heat would be --

*Is* --

But Tim isn't really reaching out, and, anyway, it's over now. "This is a bad idea, Lex."

"Getting you over your fears?"


"Total immersion, darling... and I know *precisely* how to talk down a virgin."

"I'm not -- all right, I'm probably going to be somewhat virginal a decade after I let the Justice League run a *train* on me, but -- ah. Have there been many virgins?"

"A hobby in my insecure youth. I don't recommend it for someone like you."

"Because I need experienced lovers to deal with my neuroses?"

"Because you'd get bored *quickly*," Lex says, and holds out his open hand. "I will never bore you."

"That was never in doubt. I think. Goodnight," Tim says, and walks back to the couch, sitting to put his socks back on.

He is, of course, *tracking* Lex's movements as he comes closer --

As he steps around *behind* the couch --

As he cups the back of Tim's neck and *squeezes* --

And Tim grunts and grips the couch cushions.

"Tim. Please give me permission to give you orders. It can stop anytime you need it to."

("I'll show you.")

Tim squeezes his eyes shut -- no. Not that. Not --

He's supposed to be *entertaining* --

He should at least have better *boots* -- but. There's something.

("Ooh, that block was *slow*, little brother. Tsk, tsk."

"Dick, in case you haven't noticed, we're *naked*."

"*Always* be prepared. Don't tell me Bruce didn't teach you *that*."

"I -- we have to *shower* --"

"And we will. *This* first.")

And Dick had flowed into capoeira perfectly --

*Stunningly* --

And Tim had made an absolutely terrible showing for himself for the first five minutes -- until he was able to focus less on Dick's body and more on the spar. It had *still* ended with Tim being ground into the mats *repeatedly* --

With Dick kissing his forehead and *teasing* him for being *slow* --

With Dick cuddling him and loving him and --

Tim *knows* how to be... attractive. The voice that wants to let him know that he probably couldn't be *more* attractive to Lex --

"Let go," Tim says, and pulls off his sock again.

Lex inhales sharply -- and does it.

Tim stands and -- doesn't look at Lex. He opens his shirt, instead. He shrugs it off and lays it on the couch.


Tim shakes his head and strips off his pants, leaving himself in only Oracle's jewelry and the gaff. And *then* he looks at Lex, bending one knee and stroking over and over the smooth plane of his groin.

Lex -- stares.

Tim presses on his suprasternal notch with the index finger of his other hand --

And it's enough to make his eyes heavy-lidded. More heavy-lidded. "Lex."

"A show, darling?"

"Is that what you want?"

"Not right now --"

"Then no."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "Are you saying I can have what I want?"

*Exactly* what you want --

*Everything* you want --

I'm *Robin* and that means you'll never get to *have* me, not really, and it had to be Bruce, had to be, he *made* me for himself, he twisted me up and changed me, *took* me --

*Look* at me --

"Tell me what you want, Lex."

"A kiss."


Lex looks Tim over thoughtfully --

Thoroughly --

Tim steps back from the couch, spreads his arms, and turns --

"Stop, please."

"At a three-quarter turn...? All right, Lex."

Lex comes closer and strokes an arc along the back of Tim's right shoulder. "What *bit* you? That mark -- there is *no* dog which could've made it."

Killer Croc -- but. "Certain things came out of the sewers during No Man's Land."

"When you were running around -- care to tell me *why* you walked into a disaster area for months?"

Tim laughs softly and stretches his arms over his head --

Lex *cups* Tim's wrists -- but only for a moment before he's stroking down the length of Tim's left arm. "Feel free to lie."

"Oh -- Lex. There were things I wanted in Gotham far, far more than I wanted to be anywhere near my father and stepmother. Is that sufficient?"

"I'm -- still not allowed to speak of them, am I."

Tim inclines his head. "Have you decided what you want?"

"Your power. I want you to take it even more than you already have."

It -- Tim can understand the appeal.

And he's done exactly enough of the reading to know that it *wouldn't* preclude him allowing Lex to give him orders. He --

He can have this.

He can do -- this. Can't he?


Tim takes Lex's hand and squeezes it, then brings it down to his groin, pressing it against himself. "Have you ever made love to a man in a gaff?"

"No, as a matter of fact. Shall we keep you in it?"

"For now," Tim says -- and gasps when Lex pushes his hand between Tim's legs and *cups*. "Lex."

"I love the design. I didn't see anything quite like them when I was looking them up."

"It helps that I'm not especially large, but... they're custom-made."

"By whom...?"

Tim smiles and shakes his head.

Lex narrows his eyes and presses *up* --

And Tim growls.

"Is that a no...?"

"What do you think?"

"I think... that I want to buy you every piece of moderately to severely intimidating underwear I can find."

Tim laughs and rocks his hips against Lex's hand --

*Rides* Lex's hand --

And Lex's expression --

"There's -- there should be heat-haze, Lex."

"When I look at you?"


"I agree," Lex says, and tugs his hand away --

Tim narrows his eyes --

And Lex sniffs his fingers thoughtfully.

Thoroughly. He --

"Do you like it?"

"Yes. Though I'm not at all sure how I feel about the fact that you apparently use at least one of the same soaps I've chosen for Hope."

Tim coughs -- "Ah. Well. She is a wonderful-smelling woman."

"And you... are a wonderful-smelling boy," Lex says, and slips his hand back between Tim's legs --

*Grips* --

Tim growls again and narrows his eyes.

"Thank you."


"Making that sound again *while* looking like you were planning to murder me. I've developed just a few kinks over the years."

Tim hums. "Was it you who bruised Mercy?"

"Oh, yes. Did you want to know why...?"

Tim considers --

Tim works his hips *while* considering --

Lex hums and presses *harder* --

"*Mm* -- was it my fault?"

"Indirectly, yes. You'd made me depressed."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"I'm useless when I'm depressed, darling. I *mope*. And that sort of behavior drives Mercy to... certain problematic behaviors of her own," and Lex raises his own eyebrow. "Is that enough of an answer?"

"Would more of one break a confidence?"

"Visit me. I'll *buy* you gymnastics equipment."

Tim bites the tip of his tongue and smiles.


"You're going to be unhappy when the gaff comes off, Lex."


"Yes. The harder I get, the more panicked I get."

Lex nods. "All right. Thanks for the warning, but... let's just say that's not an unfamiliar protocol."


Lex cups Tim's hip with his free hand. "An answer to that *would* be breaking a confidence -- I believe. You're welcome to ask Hope to elaborate, however."

Tim blinks -- "Ah. I choose not to think about that right now."

"As you would. As for Mercy... well. She is, of course, *utterly* ruthless -- I am *fully* aware that I have a type -- and she will thus work to... hmm... *brutalize* me out of a depressive episode using any and all means at her disposal. Including the judicious application of contempt for my ability to dominate her."

"And so... a backhand to the face."

"When other measures didn't work. *She* is fully aware that there are few things I enjoy less than marking her unattractively -- and that if I'm willing to do it, I'm *also* willing to do everything it takes to be her owner. She's spoken of it as being... settling."

That -- Tim grips Lex's wrist. "Stop for a moment."

Lex tugs his hand away immediately --

Bruce had had control at first, too --

Maddening, *hurtful* control --

No. Not now. Not -- yet. Tim takes a deep breath around the growing heaviness he's feeling and meets Lex's eyes. "I have no idea how I feel about the fact that I feel guilty for damaging your relationship with Mercy, but -- I need you to know that I do."

Lex cocks his head to the side. "I find that... more curious than I should, perhaps. In the end, I don't believe there's anything you can do to make Mercy think well of you short of becoming one of my Virtues... and we both know you'll never do that."

"You'd *have* a male-bodied Virtue?"

"For you, I could -- and have, and *will* -- make any number of exceptions. I'd like to kiss you."

"Because I didn't allow Bruce to?"

"Because I was dreaming of your mouth when you called."

Tim... shifts.

Lex studies him -- "Would you like to know what I was dreaming...?"


"All I could see of you was the lower half of your face. Someone -- not myself -- was making you make noises I couldn't hear. Someone had driven you to the point where you *couldn't* close your mouth anymore, or purse your lips, or sneer, or snarl."

"Is that what you want?"

"Yes. But only for *brief* periods of time."

Tim shows his teeth. "Good." And then he turns and walks toward the bedrooms --

He's not in the *least* surprised to walk past a bedroom and see Hope sitting up and working on a laptop with an -- undoubtedly loaded -- gun sitting in easy reach --

Nor is he surprised to feel *menace* coming from behind the one *closed* door in the hall --

Nor is he surprised that Lex had chosen the corner bedroom, which will receive a truly terrifying amount of -- grey -- light once the sun comes up. Hm.

Tim examines the room, finding it neat to the point of crippling exactitude and bland... save for the art -- Magritte, Escher -- which absolutely did not come standard to the suite, any more than the richly purple linens had.

"You were walking like a supermodel again."

Tim smiles. "Did you enjoy it?"

"Yes, which makes me terribly angry, because the overwhelming majority of supermodels aren't even *remotely* worth my time. It's not very friendly to give people kinks like that, darling," Lex says, and moves up behind Tim -- *just* close enough that he can cup Tim's shoulders. That --


Lex sighs and does it, and now his skin is *brushing* Tim's own --

Tim presses back against him, and reaches back and up to wrap his arms around Lex's neck --

"You're incredible like this."


"Experimenting. *Boldly*."

"Did you want to put me in a lab?"

"Would you enjoy it?"

"Almost certainly."

"Then --"


"You're allowed to have what you want, darling."

"I do," Tim says, and blushes --

He does. He *does* have what he wants, and there's no reason for him to be so fucking *angsty* --

He's in the process of *turning* Lex *Luthor* --

Though he's not going to be at *all* happy if and when the truth about who Tim is comes out --

Fuck, fuck, *fuck* --

"Does this mean you're getting harder...?"

Tim -- snorts. "I..."


"I'd like to warn you about me, Lex."

"Let's see, I already know you're an exceedingly good liar."


"And that you're not above stabbing me with what you see as my failings."

"Yes --"

"And that you're not -- yet -- in love with me."

"Ah --"

"What else is there, darling...? *Have* you been luring toddlers onto the back of your motorcycle?"

Tim snorts and -- rubs himself against Lex. Skin like that --

*Heat* like that --

Pressed *right* to the base of his spine, and that --

Tim presses *harder* -- and growls.


"Oh -- yes."

Lex *rocks* against the base of Tim's spine --

Tim growls *again* --

Lex grips Tim's *hips* --

"*Lex* --"

"Oh -- do that often, darling. Please. And please remember that I'm nearly thirty years older than you are and exceedingly experienced with various sorts of interpersonal relationships. I'm *fully aware* that I don't know everything there is to know about you -- and I'm all right with that."

"Because -- you believe you'll know eventually?"

"Oh, yes," Lex says, and *grinds* --

Tim *pants* --

"No growl...? All right. There's also the fact that I've decided that you *won't* betray me."

"I don't think that's something *you* can decide, Lex."

"Oh, but it is. In order for you to betray me, I have to believe that you have some degree of loyalty to me."

"You *do* --"

"You have loyalty -- at this point -- to what I can *do* for you, darling. That's not quite the same thing."

Tim blushes --

"Beautiful. Don't worry. I know you're not truly using me. I know you *need* me -- and that a part of you always has."

"I -- Lex."

"I know you *care* -- and that it is, at present, driving you up a wall. I'm not what you've taught yourself to want."

"Not -- not even remotely --"

"I'm going to show you how to teach yourself *better* in the future, darling. In the meantime... I will keep a *rational* view of things. You, despite your youth and magnificent repression, are more than strong enough to resist me even at my most attractive. *I* fell for you like the proverbial ton of bricks. You're holding the whip, darling -- and I will not *ever* forget that, even as I dream of flying you back to the city which has recognized what *century* we live in and making you wholly mine."

Tim closes his eyes and leans his head back against Lex's shoulder. Just --

For a moment --

For the chance to just *feel* Lex against his back --

He could have *more* than that, so much --

Lex kisses Tim's temple. *Softly*. "Darling. I *promise* you that I will never forget. So, please, do *not* worry about betraying me. You can't do it."

I'm *Robin* -- "I -- all right."

"Good," Lex says, and kisses Tim's temple again --

Strokes the hollows of Tim's hips --

*Tests* the elastic of the gaff -- "All right, how is this not in danger of putting a *literal* crimp in your cock?"

Tim laughs helplessly. "It's designed for *my* body. With my exact measurements."

"You're still *growing* -- never tell me if Alfred made these for you."

Tim hums. "Are you sure...?"

"Never. Tell. *Me*."

"I mean... Alfred takes my measurements every three months like clockwork..."


"It always made me feel guilty for not growing faster..."

"Tim, if your tailor is *measuring your cock*, there's a *problem*."

Tim snickers. "Alfred doesn't make these for me, no. He'd undoubtedly find the low hip clearance deeply distasteful."

"It's obscene."

"It's perfect for certain... looks."

"Like what you were wearing on the night you were ignoring me?"

"Mm-hmm," And Tim unwinds his arms from around Lex's neck and walks to the bed, considering... "I really wish I were wearing heels."

"I'll have the concierge send a pair up for you --"

"No, I..." Tim shakes his head. "I want my *boots*."

"How many exciting pairs of boots do you own...?"

"Fifteen, at present. I'll be shopping for more soon." Assuming Bruce hasn't *already* --


Tim shivers and crawls onto the bed. "Yes, Lex?"

"How does he look at you when you're strutting around in corsets and leather?"

"He looks me in the eye and searches for my happiness. And then he smiles," Tim says, and turns over onto his back. He sits up on his elbows and spreads his legs... *almost* as far as he can.

Lex takes a *sharp* breath.

Tim -- lets his lips part --

"Does your cock *hurt*, yet?"


Lex nods thoughtfully. "It's helping."


"I didn't think I *would*... but I believe I'd like to whip you."

He's *benched*. He *can* -- "Tonight...?"

Lex -- cups himself through his boxer-briefs and squeezes. Hard. "No."

Oh -- "Are you sure?"

Lex squeezes himself *again* -- "*Yes*."

Tim smiles, bends, and rolls up onto his knees. "And if I said you could tie me...?"

"*Tim* --"

"If I said I've wanted to be whipped since I was *twelve* --"

"The answer is no," Lex says, sharp and *curt*. He stops squeezing himself. He very clearly tries to pin Tim with a look.

Tim purses his lips and raises an eyebrow.

Lex continues to look.

Tim raises his eyebrow *higher* --

And Lex snorts. "Fine, darling, *be* that way. You still won't get what you want, because that is *nothing* I will give without having a *firm* idea of what I can expect."

"You're tempting me to pout."

"You're tempting me to set fire to *everyone* who's scarred your beautiful little body -- but I won't do it."

"Hmm. What *will* you do...?"

And Lex moves to join Tim on the bed, moving behind him again --

Gripping Tim's *thighs* --

"Oh --"

*Spreading* Tim's thighs --



"Ah... no?" Tim laughs. "You're reminding me a little of Bruce."

"He couldn't resist your perfect thighs...? No, that's not a question. I can *see* his failure. Do you think he wanted to fuck your thighs?"

Tim grunts -- "I. It does seem like -- it seems plausible."

"Would you like me to?"

"It would be too much of a tease," Tim says, and -- deals with his blush.

"All right," Lex says, and tugs Tim back until Tim's straddling his thighs.

"I want for there to be more of a stretch."

"The perils of training yourself into that impressive flexibility. Sit...?"

"On your erection, Lex...? Isn't that... suggestive?"

Lex laughs somewhat breathlessly. "You've given me the image of you batting your eyelashes at me from over a lace fan."

"Hn. How do you like it?"

"If you ever lace your corset so tight you faint, I'll be *exceedingly* pissy about it while I'm molesting your unconscious body."

Tim snorts and elbows Lex -- lightly.

"*Violence*, Tim...? I'm shocked and appalled. Spar with me."

"*Nnh* -- ah. Hm."

Lex hums and -- makes love to Tim's hips with his hands. "Is *that* why you quit studying the martial arts, Tim? Too many ill-timed erections?"

Well. That -- hm. "Ah... there were any number of occasions when I found myself wishing for underwear like this during spars, yes."

"Noted," Lex says -- and tugs *gently* on Tim's hips.

Tim smiles and *swivels* his hips. "Say please."

"When Mercy does that sort of thing --"

"You punch her?"

"Repeatedly. With my cock. Hmm. Please."

Tim breathes and licks his teeth -- "Again."

"Tim. *Please*."

Tim -- growls. The *hunger* in Lex's voice --

The *pain* --

But is it the pain in his genitals or -- something else? Something more?

Tim shakes his head --

"It's all right, Tim. There's nothing to fear."

"I --" Tim balls his hands into fists -- no. He reaches for Lex's left hand and drags it back between his legs.

"Should I cup you? Or hurt you?"

Tim growls and presses Lex's hand against himself *hard* --

And sits --

And grinds because he has to --

Because it feels --

*Lex* feels --

And Lex's breathing is getting -- rougher. *Heavier*. He -



"How -- how much can you take?"

"Of this...? A great deal. I... he lost control for you quickly."

"He -- his eyes were --" Tim shakes his head.

"You shouldn't think I love you less. Bruce has *always* had something of a hair trigger."

"Ah -- oh."

"Don't get me wrong -- his staying power as a teenager was well and truly awe-inspiring. But there was never *much* time between getting him hard and getting him... desperate."

"All right, now I feel *less* attractive --"

"*Not* my intention in the slightest, darling. If you bounce a stunningly beautiful idiot on my lap enough, I *will* fuck him, her, or otherwise. Bruce wasn't -- hm. I suppose he *has* turned himself into something of a pussyhound."

Yes, in that way where Wayne manor is the *only* manor house Tim has been in with a guest area which could reasonably be called the Roofie Suite. Before Barbara and Dick had invited Bruce in --

Before Bruce had invited *Clark* in --

There had only been Jason.

Tim swallows --

And Lex kisses the shell of his ear. "He lost control for you because you're incredible, darling. Because... I'm willing to bet he's wanted you for years."

Weeks. Weeks to fall in love --

Tim shivers. "Don't -- ah. We'll leave that aside."

"All right," Lex says, and begins *working* Tim through the gaff --

"Oh -- ohn -- "

"Yes, like that. Keep in mind that the longest I've gone without getting *thoroughly* laid by someone I've *liked* in the past quarter century is two *weeks*... well. Control is much, much easier."

"Liking -- I suppose it does make a difference --"

"Oh, yes. I love your ass."

It loves *you* -- no. "Do you."

"Will you beg me to fuck it?"

Probably -- "Almost certainly."


"I sounded like bad pornography as soon as he touched my *hole*, Lex."

Lex *squeezes* --

"*Ahn* --"

"You sound like *wonderful* porn now. Let's see if we can keep that up. Kneel up for me?"

"I -- sure --"

And, as soon as he's up, Lex tugs down the gaff. He --

"Oh. Lex."

"There you are. Lovely," and Lex reaches into the bedside table for -- STARslide.


"You're not slick enough, darling. I -- how much pre-come do you usually produce?"

"Not -- I've been purchasing STARslide for myself since I was thirteen. Lex --"

"Noted. You're beautiful, darling. I'm going to make you come, and then... well, we'll see," and Lex slicks his hand and kisses Tim's cheek.

"I. I think."

("I'll show you.")

"I think I'm --"

"Losing the thread? It's all right. Just tell yourself that I *won't* lose it," Lex says, and *grips* him --

"*Hnh* --"

"That's right, darling. You're perfect, you're absolutely..." Lex sighs and wraps his free arm around Tim's chest --

He's *strong* --

Tim -- doesn't need to struggle. Doesn't --

"Lex, please --"


"Just. Just. I'm getting *harder* --"

"Yes. You need this."

Tim groans and shakes his head.

"You need to feel this," Lex says, and begins to stroke --

"I. I --"

("I'll show you.")

"He's so *big* --"

"Yes, and he always will be. I'm a far more manageable size," Lex says and presses his *smile* to Tim's cheek --

Tim laughs and shudders --

Shudders more and tries to --

If he could just hold on to something --

Anything --

Tim grips Lex's forearms --

Lex hisses between his teeth. "Your grip strength is *phenomenal*."

"I'm sorry --"

"*Don't* let go, please."

"Yes. Please. I --"

"Faster, darling?"

Tim cries out and pumps his hips --

He's dragging his *cleft* against Lex's erection --

He's -- moving --

It feels like Lex is moving *him* --

His hands aren't *soft*, aren't --

Strong, hard hands, and some of his calluses are in the right places --


Tim growls and grips Lex *tighter* --

And feels himself getting harder, getting --

He can't stop moving. He can't --

Lex slows *down* --


Lex shivers and *bites* Tim's shoulder. "It's all right --"

"*Please*, Lex!"

"I *promise* it's all right, darling. I promise..." Lex lets out a shuddering breath. "I won't let you go after this --"

"Oh, *no* --"

"I'll make you feel it, darling --"

"Lex --"

"I'll make you feel *every* moment..."

Tim groans and feels himself twitch, feels himself spasm and *jerk* in Lex's hand --

His heart is beating too fast -

He's sweating and he can't --

He's having a hard time *seeing*, and his body just wants more, just --

More of *this* hand, more --

"Holding me --"

"I'll hold you down one day, darling --"

"*Please*, Lex --"

"I'll fuck you with my tongue, and my fingers, and my cock. I promise you."

Tim swallows a cry, but can't --

The next one comes without *warning* --

And so does the next --

Tim is shuddering and *clawing* at Lex's arms --

"You're going to come, darling. And it will *still* be all right."

"Can't -- I can never be *weak* --"

"Then don't be."

Tim sobs and *fights* -- no, no, he can't be *good* at that, he can't --

"The strength in your perfect body..." Lex hisses between his teeth. "You're never supposed to *surrender*, are you, darling?"

"Never -- never *break* -- I mean -- I can't --"

"Shh, you can. You can have everything, darling. Everything you want. Everything you need. Including *this*," Lex says, and grabs Tim's *scrotum* --

Tim hears himself *bark*, because that pressure --

His hand is so *big* --

His hand is so big and Tim is small, young, not ready, he'll never be ready, he'll always be needy, he's not supposed to never supposed to oh God oh please --

"Almost there, darling..."

It's so -- so *hot* --

He's sweating and he can smell himself, taste how needy he is on the *air* --

"*Lex*, please don't, please don't make me --"

"Do you want to come, Tim?"

That sound --

That sound wasn't even *human* --

"It's all right."

"It's not. It's never --"

Lex slows down --

Tim *screams* --

"Take what you want, darling. Take it -- and make it yours," and Lex *stops*.

He --

No stroking no squeezing --

"Remember, Tim -- everything I have is yours. Including pleasure."

It would feel --

So good --

Tim is twitching *constantly*, leaking --

He's still clawing Lex's *arms* --

He clenches on nothing and *shouts* --

No, he's shouting because he's working his hips again, because Lex is *thrusting* against him --

"Almost, Tim. You're so close now --"

"*Lex* --!"

"Almost there. Almost... and it's yours. You know I want to give it to you, don't you? You know how -- it's a fever in me, darling. You're the best sickness I've ever *had* --"

Another --

He's growling and screaming at once --

There aren't any *words* --

But he's working Lex's hands on himself, he's --

"Perfect," Lex says, and strokes him fast and *hard* --

*Pumps* his scrotum --

Tim can't scream --

Can't breathe can't --

And it feels like -- like fucking *Clark* is gripping his spine and *yanking* --

Like --

White-out --

Flash of  On the Threshold of Liberty --

Flash of sound --

His own screams and Lex saying something so calmly, so deeply and calmly --

Heat and pleasure, *forced* pleasure --

*Forcing* pleasure, and it's so much, so bright --

"Nuh -- *Lex*!"

"I love you, darling --"

And Tim shouts for the feel of himself ejaculating *again* --

He's shaking and --

Coming down. Coming --

His come is all over Lex's *hand* --

He's. He's going to --

He should go. He should --

Why is he straining?

"Not yet, darling."

"You're holding me."

"Yes --"

"You *can't*."

"I can," Lex says, and kisses the back of his neck. "This is where we talk."

"I'm not feeling especially -- *conversational* --"

"Breathe, please."

"Don't -- you." No, it's a reasonable -- Tim breathes, slowly and evenly.

Slowly and evenly --

He can -- he'd just come.

He'd just had sex with Lex Luthor.

He'd just --

"Keep breathing, darling."

"I'm not your --" But it's too late for that. It's --

"It's all right."

"It's not."

"Tim. Downtime."

Tim grips Lex's arms *harder* -- and gasps a laugh. "Fuck. Ah. I'm not freaking out."

"All right."

"I mean -- I am. Of course I am. But -- it's not you."

"I'd had that thought, but I vastly appreciate your telling me, just the same, darling," and Lex -- kisses the back of his neck again.

Tim swallows. "I... did you like that?"

"Oh... very much. Your sounds were incredible. Tell me how you feel...?"

"How... how do you keep yourself from giving orders?"

"By remembering what happened the last time. I'm rarely the same kind of idiot twice."

Tim swallows and nods. "I need -- water."

"Right now?"

"I -- soon."

"Will you lie down with me?"

"You don't have to --" Tim squeezes his eyes shut, because -- he is absolutely acting like someone who needs this sort of treatment.

"Please stop berating yourself."

"Ah -- Lex. I'm freaking out over a *handjob*. I think I'm allowed to be upset with myself about it."

"No, you're freaking out over an *excellent* handjob with optional humping as provided by a -- recovering -- supervillain."

Tim snorts. "And exactitude is important?"

"If it's important enough for your underwear, it's *absolutely* important enough for what happens when you take your underwear *off*, darling."

"Or when a recovering supervillain takes it off for me?"

"Or then. Tim. If all you ever allow me to do is this... I would still be a happy man."

Well. That sound was positively *embarrassing* --

Lex laughs. "Oh, yes, you also have to freak out over the fact that the recovering supervillain is in *love* with you."



"Ah -- get bent?"

Lex hums. "I never did go that far with Bruce. I wasn't brave enough."

"Have you with anyone else?"

"No one. Though I've often wished my relationship with Mercy would allow it. Do you want to...?"

Tim shivers. "I've only. There's only one male I've ever wanted to fuck... as opposed to the other way around."

Lex sighs and eases his grip on Tim --

And Tim realizes he's not straining to get away anymore. He's -- calmer. He can -- he can move. Tim swallows and lies down next to Lex --

Who smiles down at him with his eyes *while* sucking Tim's come off his fingers.

Well. "Are you sure I can't do that for you...?"

Lex pulls his fingers out of his mouth with a wet pop. And licks his lips. And strokes down Tim's chest with his clean hand. "Not without me needing your mouth on me."

"We can --"

"Not yet, Tim," Lex says, and licks himself clean at speed before lying down on his side facing Tim. "Please tell me how you feel?"

"I --"

"Think about it first, please."

That's -- reasonable, too. He feels... awake. A little nervous. Inclined toward not paying attention to the large amount of screaming -- oh, dear. Tim winces.

Lex nods. "You've cut yourself off from the bulk of your reactions."

"All right, how *many* neurotic virgins have there been?"

"Who keeps track? None of them were *you*, though, and you... are far too important to me for me to want to chase you into someone *else's* arms."

"And so... this."

"Yes," Lex says, and rests a hand low on Tim's abdomen. "Rest with me for a little while."

"And... talk? About my issues?"

"Or about how much I love the taste of your come."

Tim grunts and -- they both watch him twitch. He's not getting especially soft. Tim sighs and peels the gaff off the rest of the way, and then folds his hands on top of Lex's. "My issues... my issues... well. It all started when my first orgasm was brutally murdered in front of me by an unknown assailant."

Lex chokes --

"Hn. There. Now I'm *absolutely* morally reprehensible enough to have had sex with *you*. All better."

Lex leans in and kisses Tim's shoulder. "Excellent try. The judges award full marks."

Tim flourishes like Dick in a manic mood -- and prepares to be as honest as he can be.