To be worthy
by Te
August 18, 2011

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: Vague references to older storylines. Takes place a couple of weeks after Tim's sixteenth birthday.

Summary: In which Tim gets what he wants, and so do a few other people.

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

Author's Note: This is actually the oldest of my WIPs -- started well over two years ago. I'd started to despair of ever actually finishing it, or even of managing to make it something I could be proud of, but 3goodtimes' commission request was just too perfect. I buckled down and shaved away some things and added some others and tweaked the smut and fiddled the language... and damned well found an ending for it. I hope you like it, chica! You've given me a lot of happiness.

Acknowledgments: Much love to Jack, Mildred, Pixie, ShadowValkyrie, and ever so many others who have held my hands over the years and gently urged me to finish. *Thank you*.

Length: 157,000 words.


It's not a good idea.

It is, in fact, a terrible idea.

It may be one of the worst ideas Tim has ever *had* -- but he's doing it, anyway.

When life hands one assorted Bruce-related trauma --

When life forces one to come to terms with certain aspects of one's bleak, terrifying future --

When life does things like hand one the rope to hang oneself, tie the noose, and kick the *chair* --

All right, he's exaggerating *and* using fuzzy, self-serving logic. He had *chosen* this life -- with nothing like encouragement or manipulation from *anyone* -- and all Bruce had done, ultimately, was stick a full-length mirror in front of Tim and staple his eyes open --

It's possible that Tim is still angry about his birthday 'present.' At any other time, Tim would change that to 'probable,' but the fact is that he's spent the past two weeks performing at peak efficiency. His father and Dana believe him to be a reasonably cheerful teenager. Steph hasn't given him any worried looks. Alfred, while pointedly offering him alcoholic beverages *every* time he visits the Cave, is being far more apologetic than... mothering.

Bruce --

Bruce has been giving him those chill, precise nods of approval right and left, really, and while that *could* be a sign that he believes Tim is in *need* of that sort of thing -- no. Bruce keeps *smiling* at him. Not with teeth and barely with his mouth, but his pride and pleasure are obvious things.

Ergo, the anger is only a possible thing.

It's still a bad idea for him to be heading to Blüdhaven right now. While Dick has made it abundantly clear that he wants and *expects* Tim to come to him whenever he needs -- or wants -- to talk...

Tim had learned during the Fairchild debacle that attempting to have substantive conversations about Bruce with Dick... is a bad idea.

He's doing it anyway.

It's just --

He needs --

He could use some comforting. He never *had* spoken to Dick about Bruce's plans for his future -- or Tim's own failure to derail those plans. He wants someone to *speak* with about the gauntlet Bruce had had him run through every painful part of his own mind. He wants --

He wants.


He's not getting. And -- maybe this is a sign.

Breaking into Dick's apartment -- while as terrifyingly easy to do as ever -- has not led to him being slammed to the floor and pinned.

It has, in fact, led to him snagging an arrow out of the air and rolling through the streetlight-broken darkness until he can choose a 'safe' position -- based on the arrow's trajectory -- and pull a few batarangs. He listens.

He listens to silence, and calms his breathing, the beat of his heart -- movement, too fast and smooth to be human.

Tim aims his toss at the place where the movement had started --

Listens to the *particular* sound of arrow hitting batarang and getting snapped --

Rolls, twists -- wait. "Arsenal?" Tim scrambles again just to be sure -- but the arrow that seems to have been aimed at where his *mouth* had been a moment ago... is one with a suction cup. "Hn."

"Jesus, Short-Pants-the-Third. Warn a guy, will ya?" Roy -- Tim has always, always thought of him as being Roy, rather than either of the code names he has used thus far. The perils of being *Dick's* little brother. -- flips on the light.

Tim stands up with a rueful smile. "My fault. I wasn't expecting Dick to have guests."

Roy grins at him and moves into a controlled fall that leaves him leaning against the wall. "Yeah, he *does* keep forgetting to invite us elderly ex-Titans."

"I would assume you all had a *standing* invitation," and Tim raises an eyebrow.

Roy waves it off. "Not the same. Not for *us*, anyway. You should know that by now."

Tim raises his eyebrow a little higher... and nods. "Titans are different."

"Got it in one. Were *you* expecting Dick? I broke in half an hour ago and I haven't seen any sign of him. Before you ask, I came in through the door. You didn't miss anything."

"Ah... thank you." The blush is unfortunate, but all too present. "I really do feel rather off my game."

Roy shrugs. "You never know what kind of weapons a bad guy will pick. Nobody *really* has a signature, anymore."

"Very true, and -- the last time I checked, this was supposed to be Dick's night off."

"Which means that he would've at least waited a little while before going out. Yeah, I hear you," Roy says, sighing and rolling his head on his neck. "Anything I can do for you?"

Tim knows the smile on his face is a tight one, but he doesn't really know what to do about that. "I'm afraid not. It's... a bat-problem."

Roy's own smile isn't tight, at all, and there's a light dancing in his eyes. "Isn't it always?"

Well... Tim scrubs a hand back through his hair, enjoying the familiar feel of hairs catching on the gauntlet's texturing. "All too often, anyway. One moment," and Tim pulls out his palm-top, using the stylus to switch the thing to a view of the family's tracers. "Dick's about three miles northwest of here and moving east."

"So much for nights off. Care to join me in hunting him down?"

He's never actually had a conversation with Roy that wasn't Mission-related. He's never done more with, for, or *about* Roy than begging Dick in increasingly abject ways not to go into *detail* --

Bruce's files on Roy Harper are more extensive than for any other member of the Titans. Tim has more than one theory about why that's so, and is confident enough to believe that all of them have at least a little objective truth.

And he needs to speak with Dick. Tim pulls on one of his better smiles --

"You get away with that one, little 'mano?"

"Little -- ah. As a matter of fact, I do," Tim says, and gives Roy a real smile.

Roy licks the edges of his teeth and nods. "That works. Especially since I'm guessing *that's* one of the smiles you were planning to give to Dickie, yeah?"

Hm. "How much do you *want* the things I planned to give to Dick?"

A brief widening of eyes which hardly show their green at all in this light -- and a smile which seems somewhat... wet.

That's a warning. That's --

"Well, I don't know, little 'mano," and Roy reaches down to stroke his own thigh. "What do you *usually* give your brother?"

Heh. "Headaches. And the opportunity to deal with a primate who doesn't often want to admit to that particular designation."

Roy raises his eyebrows in -- mild -- confusion, and -- yes, that was somewhat obscure.

Tim waves a hand. "It isn't important. Just -- it isn't important."

"If you say so --"

"Shall we?" Tim gestures to the window.


Roy lets Tim take point after Tim sets his radio to the Outsiders frequency --

"How many frequencies do you just kind of *know*, Robbie?"

"I... I've always been good with numbers."

Roy hums and follows Tim with a casually muscular grace, which makes Tim wonder how familiar Roy is with Blüdhaven. There's really no way to tell --

"Two o'clock, Robbie --"

"On it," Tim says, adjusting his flight --

There really aren't very many gangs worth the name in this city -- as opposed to petty little 'families' which have been trying and mostly failing to expand themselves since Rohrbach and Nightwing had cleared out the most *effective* of the criminal-minded officers of the BPD -- but there are clearly still enough young men with little enough to do with their nights.

This time, there are fifteen of them, a number of makeshift weapons, and just a few knives -- no, Roy's first arrow sends the only gun flying. Tim dives in and starts working, aware of Roy some eight feet away and doing the same. Shouts, curses --

One very *stupid* individual who drops his hands solely so he can *spit* at Tim --

Some interestingly meaty thuds from where Roy is working --

They're done in minutes, to the point where it takes longer for Tim to zip-strip everyone than the fight itself had taken. When it's all over but the *residual* cursing -- and shamelessly futile attempts to show defiance by flopping around like mildly electrocuted inchworms just to offer weak and poorly-aimed kicks --

Roy grins at him. "You know, your predecessors would've had at least a few things to say at this point."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "I suppose an earnestly passionate 'crime *doesn't* pay' wouldn't be enough?"

"Heh. Not even close, little 'mano. Got any extra zip-strips? I was planning to steal some from N."

"Of course," Tim says, handing them over and -- striking a pose. "This is what you *get* when you mess with *Robin*," he says, pitching his voice just a *little* higher...

Roy snorts. "No, no, do -- uh. The other one."

Tim shows his teeth. And strikes an entirely different pose. "What's that, tough guy? You got something *else* to say?"

The 'tough guy' in question actually pumps his hips -- "*Suck* it, fag."

Well. In for a penny --

And Tim's kick *doesn't* break the man's jaw, but *he* won't know that until after the jail doctors tell him so.

Roy whistles and claps.

Tim jerks his chin at him --

And Roy makes a *choked* noise and waves Tim off. "Okay, that was *too* good. Been studying that footage *extra* close, maybe...?"

Tim hums and lets himself slip out of character as he tracks down the one gun and kicks it into the light after first jamming the firing mechanism. "Everyone needs hobbies."

"Uh, huh. I gotta say I approve of yours, little 'mano. Now how about you show me a little more of how *you* work?"

Tim smiles at Roy and pulls his palmtop -- Dick is still moving east. "Well. I wouldn't want you to be bored, Arsenal."

"Oh... somehow, I don't think that'll be much of a problem. Onward."

"As you say."

They head roughly northward. Very roughly -- it just wouldn't do to cover the ground Dick has *already* covered. There's a part of Tim which is only wondering why neither of them have tried using their comms to find Dick, but Tim has to admit to himself that this is...


It's been months since Tim has worked with anyone other than Bruce, and while that's never strictly a problem in and of itself...

He misses Dick.

He misses *Steph* -- for all that she's seemed happy enough being retired since that Riddler business he's not supposed to know about.

The Riddler business he has no intention of sharing *with* Bruce --

Anyway. Thirty minutes in finds them in a neighborhood which seems to have as many drug dealers as *rats*, which...

Tim *does* have a protocol for neighborhoods like this one -- fast, brutal, and *silent* -- but he'd very much like to... "Arsenal..."

Roy shifts in his crouch on their wonderfully convenient rooftop. "Yeah?"

"How do you usually handle situations like this one?"

Roy smiles and mimes pulling his bow -- and mimes taking out the muscle for the first three dealer-clusters they can see. "The last one is a little out of my range."

Tim hums. "I suppose I could just take those out *while* you're busy with the others."


Tim considers being shy about things, but -- but. He shakes his head. "I'd rather watch you work."

"Heh. You have no *idea* how I *work*, little 'mano." And, yes, that *is*, in fact, an eyebrow waggle.

There's no way to avoid blushing --

"Sometimes you *really* remind me of Short-Pants-the-first."

"I have to question how much you want to work with *me*... Arsenal."

"And sometimes? You really, really don't. Put it like this: after how much N talks about Oracle -- and how much he *doesn't* talk about Batman -- there's *you*."

Oh, good, the blush is deepening. "I... well..."

"How 'bout you tell me just how many *benefits* you're getting out of being N's little brother."

"Ah -- Arsenal --"

"Because? When I try to get *him* to talk about that? All I get is blushes. Blushes..." Roy strokes Tim's cheek with his fingertips, and Tim can smell the leather of his fingerless gloves. "Blushes like that one, now that I'm thinking about it."

They really are... flirting. Well... well.

The part of Tim whose response is a resounding 'why *not*?' really shouldn't get a say in how Tim chooses to respond to this. It's just that the part of Tim whose response is a resounding 'flee, flee like the wind itself!' shouldn't either. What that leaves is --

"I... have to admit I've always been curious about you," Tim says, and doesn't bother to pull back from Roy's fingers by more than a millimeter or three.

"Yeah? You can ask whatever you want."

"N... talks about you. Often in detail." By which I mean, I know where your piercings are -- no.

Roy laughs quietly. "Yeah? You wouldn't really know that by the way he *disappears* from our lives..." Roy shakes his head. "But I can see it. He really is my brother."

"And you're his."

"*You're* his, little 'mano --"

"But I'm *not* the only one," and Tim rests one hand next to Roy's free one on the balustrade. "You're important to him. He -- he really does offer at least one story about you *every* time we're together."

Roy raises his eyebrows... and smiles. "That's... pretty damned good to hear, actually. He's... well, he is who he is."

"Indeed --"

"But you didn't answer my question, Robbie."

"I -- like to think of myself as more of a 'Rob.'"

Roy frowns thoughtfully and looks Tim up and down before nodding. "Okay, I can see it. Rob. Answer the *question*. Just what were you hoping to get up to with N tonight?"

"Brotherly affection, for the most part. I -- needed someone to talk to. And no, we don't have the kind of benefits you were speaking of."

Roy reaches that last bit of distance to touch Tim's cheek again. "That's a shame."

Yes. "One makes do."

"Meaning *you* think it's a shame, too?"

Tim swallows and -- too much --

"Yeah, you do. Heh. I think that's proof that you're *sane*, little 'mano, so don't worry about it, hunh?"

That -- Tim raises an eyebrow. "Arsenal. If I spent my life worrying about the content of my fantasy life, I would vibrate like a speedster on crystal meth."

Roy snorts and *strokes* Tim's cheek -- before moving his hand to Tim's shoulder and squeezing. "Like *that*, hunh? I get you, I think. How's this -- I take out the muscle-men and whoever else gives me a good shot, you keep a weather-eye on the guys out of my range... while watching me work."

Tim hums. "Agreed," he says, and turns enough that the fourth group of dealers are in his peripheral vision --

And then it's almost too fast to be *believed*. The fact that he'd known that Roy was a faster shot than either of the Green Arrows *or* Cissie is absolutely meaningless when held against the *seconds* it takes for the three bodyguards to be down and writhing with arrows in their shoulders --

The four actual dealers to be doing their *own* writhing --

Two of the three runners --

"Damn, I *hate* it when they're smart enough to weave," Roy says, and then they're both up and leaping.

"Leave the runner," Tim says through the comm --

"Yeah, he didn't have time to grab anything --"

"I'm on the unwounded ones. Get the guns --"

"And the stash, got it, Rob. Do your thing."

Tim does, breaking out the auxiliary grapple-gun so he can stay in the air --

He gets lucky -- the last cluster of dealers has the stash and has no intention of leaving it for vigilantes or the police. A moment of flight --

A moment to watch the muscle and the dealer arguing over which way to run --

A moment to watch the last runner show far more intelligence than his superiors --

Tim aims his flight for the muscle's jaw, hearing the crack which, at times, makes his life more worthwhile. He flips back over the falling body, spins into a kick the dealer dodges, pulls his staff --

One hit to the hand fumbling for a cheap gun, one to the kneecap -- *only* a dislocation -- and one to the head. Down.

He checks on the muscle, but he seems to be more interested in cradling his own face than anything else. He checks on Roy -- he's made it to the second group of dealers. The first one is neatly trussed. Tim nods to himself and does his own tying, and joins Roy for the third group.

"Wonderfully done," Tim says honestly --

"Eh, tough on the arrow supply."

Tim checks -- Roy has ten left in his double-quiver. His guns have remained holstered for the whole night, but... they don't have to be. Tim chooses not to say anything --

"And don't think I don't know what you're thinking," Roy says, cinching his last man tightly. "I've *always* thought that B made you guys way too superstitious."

"I... have nightmares about what I'd do with a gun," and Tim keeps his voice quiet, but --

"Fucking pussy!"

Tim strikes down half-reflexively and breaks the man's nose.

Roy snorts. "How much of this do you get in Gotham?"

"Not much once everyone is down, but, well. Gotham is used to us."

"Very, very true," and Roy stands up straight -- and retrieves the arrow that had only skittered across the cement, examining it. "Hm."

"Is it bent?"

"Not as much as it *could* be, but..." Roy sighs and breaks it with one quick flex of his right hand.

That kind of power... Tim feels his eyes narrowing and... covers, a bit. He makes a brief show of scanning the entirely pacified -- for now -- area and stands, as well.

"N check?"

Tim pulls his palm-top -- "He's still northeast of us, but is moving back south."

"You okay? You looked good, but now..."

A part of Tim would dearly like to be entirely honest. They're not flirting right now, but they *could* be -- he has to find something to say. He has to -- he looks up and smiles at Roy --

"Oh, Jesus, not *that* again. Look, Rob, N already *told* me what your tells are."

Tim blinks. "I -- what?"

Roy gestures to where they've stashed their bikes -- Tim has borrowed one of Dick's -- and doesn't say a word until they're mounted up and moving. "It was one of the nights when he got to talking about touch," Roy says through the comm. His voice is low and somewhat...

Somewhat husky. Tim swallows. "Touch?"

"How much he loves it, how much he needs it... that kind of thing. We'd just finished screwing around in the gym after a good, long spar. You know how that goes. Or... do you?"

"N and I often speak after spars. Or... during."

"Heh. Not *quite* the question I asked, but... okay. Moving on. He got to talking about *you*, little 'mano, and all the expressions you make when he's about to touch you, when he's already touching you, when he's about to *stop* touching you..."

"Oh... dear," Tim says, and swerves around a trash can that had been kicked into the street. "Ah -- we weren't touching. Or speaking about touching."

"No...?" There's a smile in Roy's voice. "Sure, whatever you say. He told me about your smiles, little 'mano. He told me he'd catalogued about two dozen of them, only four of which were real."

"I -- have to tell a lot of lies."

"And it gets to be a habit, I hear you. I'm just saying -- you don't have to lie to me."

"Are you sure about that, *Arsenal*?"

"Oh, I'm absolutely sure about that... Rob. See, I could say something here about just who you were living with a couple of years ago... but I really shouldn't have to."

Hell, that's -- Tim offers a rueful grunt. "Point to the individual on the lovely red motorcycle."

"Heh. Thank you *kindly*. Now. Tell me why you were giving me the fake smile then? Was it your nightmares coming back to fuck with you?"

He *could* say yes, but..."I don't suppose you'll let me get away with saying 'unexpected emotional discomfort?'"

Roy offers his own grunt, rolling ahead for exactly long enough to let Tim see his head-shake before slipping back again --

"You... really have spent a great deal of time with N."

"You know it. But -- we don't really know each other, for all that we know the secrets which could get us both messily killed. You don't owe me anything."

True, *but* -- "Not even for the good time?"

"Heh. Not even that, little 'mano. I *like* spreading sunshine."

And spreading other -- no. "To be honest... I'd been thinking, on certain shallow levels, about the fact that we don't know each other. It made me feel... uncomfortable." In my jock, even.

"Because we're working so closely?"

"Because... because I often feel regret when I find myself having a good time with someone I haven't given myself the time to know."

Roy hums -- and then hums a snatch of a song Tim can't identify.

One of his own?

"So long as you don't let the regret get in the way of you *getting* to know the person in question... I can understand it. And -- we're getting to know each other right now --"

"Nine o'clock," Tim says, using the mostly empty street *hard* as he spins his bike and rolls into the narrow little next-best-thing-to-an-alley that is Printer's Court. The target runs hard and fast; the victim -- a young woman in the kind of clothes which speak of a career in the sex trade -- slumps to the ground --

"I've got her," Roy says. "Move."

"Done," Printer's Court leads into a crumbling parking lot where Tim had once helped Dick break up a particularly nasty attempted hit, but --

The target *won't* reach it. Tim rolls past him, tripping him with his staff, and blocks the alley. He's off the bike before the man finds his feet, and then it's a simple matter of --

"Fast, Rob, I need you."

Two quick shots to the head to knock the man out, the usual pain of turning his back on someone he hasn't zip-stripped --

The woman has multiple stab wounds and has taken a terrible beating. Tim triggers the nine-one-one macro and looks for the worst wounds that Roy *isn't* putting pressure on --

"Down by her liver, Rob --"

"Got it," Tim says, and pulls out his full supply of bandages -- not enough. He takes off his cape, too --

"Thought... though you didn't *wear* a cape," the woman says, slurring through broken teeth.

"That's his big brother, honey. We're just visiting."

The woman laughs and coughs. "Good -- good thing..." Her eyelids flutter.

"Stay with us, ma'am, please," Tim says, and presses as gently and as firmly as he can.

The woman frowns -- "Don't. Like 'ma'am.'"

"How about you tell us your name, honey?"

She smiles and it makes something seize in Tim, makes him want to go back to her assailant and -- something --

"Honey's good, pretty boy. Honey's. Real good --" This cough brings a spray of blood that hits Roy's cheek --

Roy doesn't wince. "Tell us about yourself, honey."

"What... no..."

"Do you like television... ah... honey?"

A laugh... and another cough. "What... what kind of question *is* that?"

"Don't mind Robin, honey. Batman electrocutes him if he tries to watch Spranger."

This laugh is more of a sigh. "He's real... should've. Moved to Gotham..."

Tim checks her color -- it's not as grey as it could be, but --

He knows the whole encounter has only taken a few minutes, but --

"C'mon, honey, tell us about the TV."

"Kia stole it. Last blackout."

Roy sighs. "Can't trust anybody, am I right?"

"Fuck yeah. Um. Am I... am I gonna live?"

"Yes," Tim says, carefully firm and sure. "I've seen much worse."

Another frown. "You're... too young. For that."

Roy shrugs. "Yeah, but Batman is kind of a freak. Uh -- not that kind."

The woman laughs, but doesn't cough this time. "Know *those* stories."

Sirens in the distance -- and getting closer. "Those are for you, honey. And --" Something. Something to keep her interested -- "Ah... I'd have to say I'd be a lot less tense much of the time if Batman *was* that kind of... ah... freak."

She makes a soft hooting sound. "Heard. Heard he's *big*."

"Oh, huge," Roy says. "Muscles on top of muscles. Fucking hot, to be honest, and he's not even my *type*, you know?"

She hums. "Did you... should beat up Frankie."

"Rob took care of that. He's gonna have a hell of a headache when he wakes up."

"Go... go back and break *his* teeth. Fucking... dentists. So expensive."

Roy gives him a *look* --

"Done," Tim says, and the alley fills up with EMTs and police officers, none of whom seem to be much older than *he* is. Rohrbach had restructured the BPD with a *will*.

Once the EMTs are in position, Roy slips back out to the street with a gesture for Tim to meet him --

And Tim moves quickly and silently to where the aforementioned Frankie is surrounded by police officers. "If you'll all pardon me for a moment? The lady made a request."

An officer with truly impressive ears and a piece of tissue covering a razor cut gestures at Frankie. "Be our guest."

Another officer with eyebrows so blonde they fade into her face grunts. "Go for the balls, will ya? I hate this shit."

This --

This is something he's never quite *done* -- as opposed to letting victims get their own back in any way they choose so long as it isn't fatal.

This --

Tim pulls his staff once more and jabs for the man's scrotum, and then for his front teeth. "You should keep him on his side --

"We got it," Ears says.

"Yeah. We wouldn't want him to choke on those teeth or anything."

The officers laugh and wave him off --

"Tell Nightwing he's got a *sweet* ass."

Tim coughs and gets on his bike, nodding to Officer Blonde. "I believe he's aware of that, but I'll let him know just the same, Officer...?"


Tim nods. "Ma'am."

He pulls out.


They spend the next hour slowly but surely getting close to Dick's position. He's never more than three miles away, but the city...

Tim can't say he doesn't understand why Dick had decided to skip his night off.

Roy calls a halt when they're a mile to Dick's west, and Tim takes a moment to just *enjoy* the darkness and relative silence of the alley they're in. His extra cape is covered in cheap scotch.

Roy smells remarkably like someone who'd landed in the results of a keg being shot open. "God, I hate bar fights."

"No argument whatsoever."

"Heh." Roy rolls his head on his neck. "How long are you willing to spend tracking N down -- as opposed to just calling him?"

Tim shakes his head. "On a night like this? I'm frankly terrified by what might happen if we *interrupted* him."

"Jesus, yeah. I wouldn't be surprised if somebody gave a bunch of dealers a suitcase nuke tonight."

Tim groans softly. "All right, now I feel guilty for stopping."

"This *isn't* your city, Rob."

"It isn't yours, either."

"True, true, but..." Roy smiles at him. "I'm not the one who's only here because they needed to *relax* tonight."

Tim smiles back ruefully. "*Some* of what we've done was relaxing."

"Oh, I'll give you that, but I..." This time when Roy trails off, he only shakes his head.


"I think maybe... heh. I like the way you work. I like the way you move. I like how prissy you are --"


"Are you seriously gonna deny that? Seriously?"

Tim opens his mouth... and closes it again.

"Heh *heh*. *Anyway*... I *was* thinking that I wanted to take you out for a drink and maybe see if I could get you to talk to *me* about your bat-problem, but..."

Oh. "Ah... but?"

"You have no interest in booze right now, do you?"

Tim swallows. "To be fair, I rarely do. I... do have an interest in spending more time with you."

Roy's smile is really more of a grin. "Well, okay, then. So either we spend a little more time slowly getting the sense that it wouldn't hurt to call in the National Guard..."


"You let me take you back to New York for a little while. You -- oh, hell. You have parents to go home to, don't you?"

Tim smiles ruefully, more than a little surprised that he can *manage* -- right, yes. "I -- yes. In about... four and a half hours."

Roy shakes his head and smiles back. "So do I even want to know how you manage to *swing* this with parents who aren't in the life?"

"Ah... lying like the proverbial rug, for the most part. You. There are other places we could... go."

"I'm thinking I probably shouldn't try seducing N's little brother in his apartment."

"Seducing -- oh."

Roy's smile gets a little wider. Much wetter. "What do you think about that?"

"I think --" That you wouldn't have to try that *hard*, and where had this come from? "Um."


("Oh, *Roy*. Sometimes I think he was *born* knowing how to kiss. And how to suck dick. And how to --")

"It's just -- ah..."


("Pass me the soap, little brother? God, did I ever tell you about the time Roy nearly made me *drown*? He was doing this thing with his fingers --")

"I think... that I'm probably not a good... prospect. For this."

Roy raises his eyebrows. "Because something's got you twisted up inside?"

"I... yes."

Roy nods. "Not to be a dog, but... there's such a thing as getting *help* to work things out."

I'm going to be Batman one day, and I don't think you'll be able to fuck that out of me -- no. "I'm... very attracted to you."

Roy nods again -- slowly this time, and steps off his bike, moving close --

Closer --

His thighs are pressed against Tim's leg, and he has one hand on Tim's shoulder and the other on his *face*, and Tim's already facing him, but --

Roy turns him a little more. And --

"You... I've been checking out your mouth all night, little 'mano. And I've been thinking about N fucking the hell out of you --"

"Jesus --"

"Let's just say 'for a while.'"


"He wants a piece of you. I'm *absolutely* sure *he* doesn't know that, yet... but I think he's gonna be pissed about this for more than one reason."

"I -- this?"

"This," Roy says, leaning in and kissing him. He doesn't close his eyes and his mouth is soft, scented with the energy bar Tim had split with him before the bar fight --

His tongue --

His *stubble*, tickling and scratching Tim's face --

His *tongue*, and Tim can't keep from narrowing his eyes for this, for the feel of himself licking Roy's tongue deeper into his mouth --

For Roy's *appreciative* hum --

And when Roy closes his eyes, the kiss goes from drugging to *serious*, slow and rough at *once* --

Tim moans and Roy squeezes his shoulder, *teasing* Tim's tongue with his own, and --

Steph doesn't kiss like this. Ariana hadn't kissed like this --

Roy kisses *just* like this, hard and slow, hard and slower than *that* until Tim has to moan again and try to make things faster, *more* --

Roy pulls back. "Let's go... somewhere."

Tim pants. "I -- we should -- N could need --"

"We'll leave him a note. And we'll *both* come back to see him during the *day* sometime, yeah?"

Tim finds himself nodding before he can *think* about -- he swallows. "I have to ask you if you're... sure about this."

Roy grins. "I'm pretty sure that's my line, little 'mano."

"I mean -- I have a girlfriend."

"I have any number of friends with benefits. And I'm not gonna try to own you even a little."

A very *very* part of Tim's mind wants to know what 'owning' would feel like -- he's nodding again.

They go.


In the end, Tim had let Roy compose the note to Dick -- mostly because he'd found himself staring blankly at Dick's puppy-intensive stationery and trying and failing to come up with something to say other than 'I love you' and 'I've always wanted you.'

The sort of thoughts that *always* bubble to the surface whenever Tim finds himself wanting *anyone* male and --


He has no idea what Roy had written -- just that it had taken him two and a half minutes of time that Tim had wanted him to spend doing other things. Definitely --

He'd checked with Oracle to make sure that Dick wasn't in a situation where he ought to call for back-up and just wasn't doing it --

("Hn. Not even remotely. Go play.")

Right now, Roy is pacing him through Gotham. He hasn't expressed any curiosity about where Tim is leading them, and that's really --

That kind of *trust* --

Or is it just lust?

Tim licks his lips and takes the bike up over seventy. Just -- "Arsenal... the place we're going..."

"Satellite Cave?"

"Ah... most assuredly not, actually. It's... something of a hideout."

"Just tell me it has a functional shower and I'm *all* yours, little 'mano."

Well. "Yes. Yes, it does."

"*Good* deal."

"And... there are clothes." That you probably won't want to wear --

"How much are you planning on wearing?"

Oh... God. What is he doing? What is he *doing*?

"Still with me, little 'mano?"

What -- "I think. I think I'm looking forward to you using my name."

"Now, how 'bout that. The feeling is *absolutely* mutual... Rob."

Tim shivers.

Tim *drives*, trying to keep an eye on his surroundings. Trying -- it *is* his night off, but he'd suited up to go see Dick on the assumption that they'd wind up doing something related to crime-fighting --

He really *should* switch his frequency back to the family one. Oracle would be able to get hold of him if he were needed, but no one else could --

And they're close to the right neighborhood. Tim toggles the switch on his bike that will open access to the satellite *garage* and pulls in, parking next to one of the older cars -- and two spaces down from the *other* car.

"What in the --" Roy takes off his helmet and shakes out his hair -- "*hell* is that?"

"That... is a nineteen-seventy-eight Chrysolet Hercules."

"I can *see* that, but... dear God, is that interior *green*? In a *gold* car?"

Tim stashes his helmet and smiles ruefully. "Yes. And the fuzzy dice are, in fact, pink."

"The *hell* --"

"You'll see," Tim says, locking down the outside entrance of the garage and gesturing Roy to the *other* entrance.

Roy shakes himself like a dog -- "But -- blue primer paint --"

"There's grey on the trunk."

"*Augh* -- okay. Okay, I'm not looking anymore. Lead the way... Tim."

Tim closes his eyes behind the mask and swallows again. "Roy."

"The way you said that..." Roy grins and closes the distance between them in something between a stalk and a strut --

And there's no hesitation before he's kissing Tim again, no pause, no --

His hands are on Tim's hips --

He pulls Tim *closer* --

Tim moans and tilts his head to make the kiss a deeper one --

"Yeah, I see what you like. Here," Roy says, moving one hand to the back of Tim's head and thrusting *deep* with his tongue --

Oh, God --

Oh --

Roy growls and slides his other hand to Tim's ass, squeezing once before settling into a slow, petting *stroke* --

Roy keeps *thrusting* --

Roy stops. "I can't wait to see your body, Tim. I... heh. You wear too many *clothes*."

"Spoken like someone who's never had a supervillain try to *eat* him."

Roy snickers. "Okay, point. Still, you should've known you were this tasty when you left the *house*."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Are you saying I'm asking for it, Roy?"

Roy licks the edges of his teeth. "I think I want you to ask for a whole lot of things, little 'mano."

"So you can say no?"

"Not even close... unless that's the way you like to roll?"

Tim -- catches his breath. His eyes feel much too wide behind the mask, and --

Roy purrs. "Hot little thing. We can play it *exactly* the way you want to."

"And... if I'm not sure about that?"

"Then we figure it out together. C'mon, show me the undercover character who belongs to that car."

"Ah... I should say it's not one of *my* covers --"

"Kinky. This one of Batgirl's? Bruce's?"

"The latter. I --" Tim kisses Roy, and it feels exactly like jumping off something forbiddingly tall, like meeting Bruce's eyes after he's been alone with the Case, like *letting* Dick touch him --

It feels like kissing a man who knows how to kiss and likes to show off that knowledge to great effect. Roy *grips* Tim's hair and strokes his hip --

Roy tilts Tim's head back and kisses his way down to Tim's throat --

And catches a fold of the cape between his teeth for a moment just long enough to make Tim want to be naked *already* -- "Tim..."

"Yes. I -- yes," Tim says, and leads them into the building. The motion detector turns on the television in the empty first floor apartment -- and triggers an alarm in the Cave.

Roy looks around the carefully dingy hallway with a bemused expression on his face, but offers no commentary -- not even on the decidedly X-rated graffiti mural of a crudely drawn blonde woman with two exceedingly well-endowed male lovers.

Bruce had let Tim do the shading on the woman's breasts, as Tim's artistic skills are just that non-existent. Tim uses his palm-top to send the stand-down command he really, seriously, *sincerely* hopes Oracle and Bruce will listen to, and --

Yes. He leads Roy up the stairs and into apartment two-A.

"Oh. My God."

The way Roy is looking around...

Well, there's no way to tell what in *particular* is making him make that face. It could be the chartreuse mohair couch, the rainbow beaded curtain coyly hiding the water-stained bathroom, the brown-flocked wallpaper, the yellow shag carpeting --

All of the above?

"I... ow? I think I'm going to go with 'ow.' Is that velvet painting supposed to be Elvis or a sad clown?"

"According to Bruce, it's supposed to be an angel."

Roy makes a choked noise. "Who. Just -- *what*?"

Tim smiles and strips off his cape. "Welcome to chez Matches Malone. Try not to look at *anything* too closely."

Roy snorts and runs a hand down over his face. "Jesus. Dickie always said Matches hurt his head, but this... this... uh."


Roy laughs again and gives Tim a *crooked* smile. "For a while there, I was feeling *guilty* about wanting to take you to Outsiders HQ... as opposed to an actual *home*."

Tim shows his teeth just a *little* --

"Oh, *really*."

"Home is where you find it, Roy. Shall we hie ourselves deeper into the belly of the beast?"

"*Hie* -- heh. A part of me just said that it can't possibly be worse than this, and that part deserves *exactly* what it gets."

Tim resists the urge to rock on his heels and leads Roy into the bedroom --

"Oh, God, I just felt my *soul* try to leave my *body*."

"I believe there are blindfolds in the night table."

"I can *work* with that --"

"They're all in pastels. And polyester."

"*Christ*, I -- Dick *told* me about Matches, but I never thought Bruce could ever --" Roy shakes himself like a dog. "Okay. Okay. No, *not* okay. God *damn*, Tim, that's a fake tiger hide!"

"With a fake head, yes."

"Glass -- glass *eyes* --"

"Plastic, actually."

Roy screams quietly. "No, I'm back to thinking -- *how* could Bruce --"

"Batman," Tim says, and moves closer, "can do *anything*."

Roy snickers and hauls Tim close. "You know what this means, don't you?"

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"It *means*," Roy says, and licks Tim's cheek, "that I'm gonna have to focus *all* my attention on you."

Tim -- can't keep himself from panting a little --

Roy smiles and nods. "Yeah. Like that. *Do* you have any requests? Things I shouldn't do?"

That... is an excellent question. Something that needs an *answer*, even, but --

What the hell should he *say*? He -- he has a lot of *theory*, but --

Why doesn't he spend more time looking at *pornography*? That would've surely been *helpful* for a moment like this --

"Hey, what's wrong? I'm not pushing -- oh. Oh, fuck. You're a virgin."

Tim closes his eyes for a moment --

And Roy lets go and steps *back* --

"Roy --"

"Tim... I. Hell, I didn't know --"

"It's okay --"

"You -- Jesus, you haven't even. Uh. You're... maybe just a virgin with guys?" And the expression on Roy's face is all about *hope* that Tim will say yes, but --

"Ah... no. I'm a virgin... all around."

Roy winces. "You -- are you sure --"

"Yes --"

"You didn't come *out* tonight looking for -- oh, God. Does Dick even know you *like* guys?"

"Ah... that would be a definite maybe," Tim says, and tries very hard to keep back, to not -- he fails, and moves closer. "I've never... spoken with him about it."

Roy moans -- and cuts himself off with a hand over his mouth, which he then drags down over his chin. "Have you talked to *anyone* about it?"

"Ah... my girlfriend --"


"Yes. She... often asks me if I've met any particularly attractive male vigilantes. I can't really decide if she's hoping I have or not."

Roy nods slowly, closes his eyes for a moment, blows out a *breath* -- "Tim. Are you *really* looking to do this?"

"I. Ah. I've really enjoyed... kissing you. Feeling you."

Roy narrows his eyes and licks his lips. "Yeah. And I -- we don't have to do -- uh. We don't have to do *anything*, but we can *just* do that --"

"You -- you're treating me differently than you were --"

"*Yes* --"

"I don't want that," Tim says, interrogating himself a little --

Pulling out the hot lights *and* rubber hoses --

Tim smiles ruefully. "I don't want that, at all."

*Roy* swallows and strokes Tim's cheek with his fingertips -- right along the path he'd taken with his tongue --

"Roy --"

"I've never... ah. I mean. Not even *Dick* was a virgin when we first -- uh. All right, I think this feeling is *intimidation*, little 'mano --"

"Please don't be," Tim says, and only hesitates a *little* before putting his hand on Roy's shoulder. "Please --"

"There's also -- uh. I think I'm gonna call *this* feeling abject *terror*, Tim."

Tim frowns. "I don't think I understand --"

"*Dick*. *Bruce*. I -- *Oracle* --"

"What *about* them? I -- they're not here." Unless one thinks about the cameras and feeds and -- well, he's not going to say that. "Roy... I'd like to have sex with you."

"But -- your first *time* --"

"Is it all right if I'm just not as invested in that particular concept -- I. All right, I'll admit to having had any number of fantasies about my first time which haven't involved you --"

"*That*, Tim. That's *important* --"

"But the fantasies. I..." Tim smiles a little again. It feels tight on his face, and --

"Oh... that's the honesty smile. That's -- Christ, it's just like Dick *described* --" Roy growls and kisses him again, fast and *hard* --

Roy moans and makes it slower, makes it wetter, *better* --

Roy cups the back of Tim's head and *licks* Tim's tongue, and this time his eyes are almost *squeezed* shut --

Tim presses closer, wishing he'd taken the time to take *more* of his uniform off --

He can't feel Roy's *warmth* -- "Please. Please, Roy --"

Roy moans again. "Tell me. Tell me what you were going to say."

"The fantasies -- I. I've thought about... seducing you."

Roy blinks. "I -- but you just said --"

"I... ah. Wasn't a virgin in those fantasies. And... the way Dick talks about you. The -- you've always seemed very. Free."

Roy nods slowly. He's breathing through his mouth and tangling his fingers in Tim's hair -- "Christ, you're pretty."


"We. We *have* to talk about what you want. You know that, right?"

"I don't really *know* --"

"Here's the deal, Tim -- sex, as you're *about* to learn --"

"Oh... Roy..."

"Heh. Yes. And yeah. *Sex* -- is intense and crazy-making --"

"I'm... beginning to notice that."

Roy narrows his eyes and grips Tim's hip. "I -- really wanna do you. But I *don't* want you to regret this. Get me?"

"That's entirely fair. I'd rather not have you --"

"I'm only gonna regret this in the few seconds between Bruce letting me see him coming and Bruce punching my face out through the back of my head. Keep that -- in mind. But *you* --"

"*Roy*," Tim says, and does his very best not to listen to the increasingly strident shouts from his penis -- "Roy. There is nothing remotely mystical about my virginity. If there *was*, I would've suggested to Superman that he use me whenever a volcano needed to be convinced not to erupt."

Roy's laugh is low and -- yes, husky again. "I can think of a few things *Clark* would like to use you for."

Tim feels his eyes widening -- he blinks and nods. "He... ah. I suspect he... was making a pass... a few months ago."

"Yeah? He just not your type?"

Tim licks his lips and thinks of hands that can turn coal into diamond, thighs with a resemblance to tree trunks --

Clark doesn't wear a *cup* --

"I... ah. Wouldn't say that. I was -- there was a mission --"

"There always is," Roy says, tilting his head and smiling. In the harsh light, his eyes are the green of ivy in the sun...

But not in the imminent death-by-poison sense. "I was also... ah. Superboy was *right* there."

Roy winces. "Yeah, that could've been awkward -- considering what I *know* about how Superboy looks at you," he says, and *squeezes* Tim's hip. "C'mon, tell me what you're pretty sure you *don't* want. Because once I get you naked... I'm not gonna stop."

"You -- have to realize that your saying things like that is less than conducive to --" Thought, but Roy has two fingers pressed to Tim's mouth --

Roy's eyes are narrow and *hot* --

Tim lets his eyelids be as heavy as they want to be and licks. Just -- licks.

Just --

Tim *sucks* Roy's fingers into his mouth and goes down on them. There's a part of him which wholly approves of this action --

All right, there are *several* parts which approve, but only one of them is pointing out that it might be a good idea to put on something of a show for a man like Roy --

For a *man*, and --

*Finally* --

Tim groans and sucks harder --

"Oh... fuck. That's -- heh. Okay, we'll put that on the list of *one* thing you wanna do -- or. Is it *just* my fingers?"

Calluses. *Different* calluses -- but that was a question, and Tim can absolutely suck *while* shaking his head --

Roy grunts -- and starts thrusting, pushing *exactly* deep enough to make this very serious *without* triggering Tim's gag reflex --

Roy is *experienced* --

And Tim's knees are shaking as if he'd just run eight miles -- and raced for the last *two*. Tim grips Roy's forearm with both hands --

So *strong* --

Tim groans and works his head faster, urges Roy *faster* --

"Oh... oh, yeah, little 'mano. You're makin' yourself *absolutely* clear," Roy says, pulling *out* --

Tim whimpers --

"Naked. *Right* now."

Excellent idea. Top-notch. Tim starts working on his uniform -- and immediately gets stuck on the visuals of Roy working on his own. His hands are shaking --

Roy shakes his head. "Close your eyes, Tim --"

"I really -- don't want to. Ah."

Roy licks his lips and smiles. "It'll go faster if you do."

Faster -- is better. Yes. And more efficient, as well, because as soon as Tim *can't* see Roy he remembers that it's better to remove his mask before he gets rid of the belt --

Roy gasps when Tim peels it off --

"Roy --"

"*Keep* going."

"Yes," Tim says, swallowing and speeding through things as if he was home *and* could hear his parents moving around, as if at any moment he could get *caught* --

"Fuck, your *scars* --" Roy growls. "You shouldn't be a virgin."

"Good -- good thing you're going to help with that --"

"Hell, yeah," and suddenly Roy's hands are on Tim's bare shoulders and pushing, moving him --

The fake tiger whiskers tickle the backs of Tim's knees *abominably* -- and he's on his back on the bed --

"Any alarms I should know about on your tights? Boots?"

"Ah -- they're all disabled --"

"Good enough. Open your eyes?"

Tim does, and Roy is smiling at him, *leering* at him --

And taking off Tim's boots. "Heh. Even your *feet* look all economically graceful --"

"Ah. What?"

"Socks *off*."

Tim bends his knees back --

"Oh, *Jesus*, yeah -- no, stay right there for a moment. *Just* like that -- I. Ever wanna get fucked?"

"*Yes* --"

Roy groans. "Okay, that was. That was a really *stupid* question for me to ask --"

"I *disagree* --"

"Shh, shh, just be a little careful with my mind, little 'mano. I'm *not* gonna hurt you --"

"Roy --"

"*Much* -- wait, *do* you like that -- fuck, you don't even *know* --"

"Let's find *out*, Roy," Tim says, removing his socks at speed before planting his feet again and arching --

"Too many *clothes* --"

"I -- suddenly agree. And am likely to continue to agree until such time --"

"I -- really wanna fuck your mouth."

Tim grunts and *bucks*, hands slipping on his own tights -- "*Roy* --"

"Almost, little 'mano, almost --" Roy sighs. "There," he says, crawling onto the bed --

Naked --

*Hairy* --

Less hairy than Bruce, but still -- Tim reaches out --

"Keep *stripping*."

"Right, yes, I -- *rings*, Roy --"

"Like Dick *didn't* tell you all about 'em."

"To be fair -- ah. He spent more time telling me about the *other* piercings," Tim says, giving up on the last shreds of his dignity and *shimmying* out of the tights and shorts --

"Stop," Roy says, and emphasizes his point with a big, strong hand on Tim's *jock* --

Tim squeezes his eyes shut -- "Please. Please --"

Roy hisses through his teeth. "Fuck -- you're that close?"

"I -- sorry --"

"No, no. Uh -- we're gonna do this more than once. You okay with that?"

"*Yes* --"

"Then --" Roy manages to tug the jock away carefully and *quickly* and then --

Oh --

*Oh* --

"*Roy* --"

Roy *hums* around him, licking and squeezing Tim's hips, *lifting* Tim's hips and moving between Tim's legs --

Spreading Tim's legs *wide* --

Tim cries out and tries not to buck, not to thrust, not to --

Tim screams before he can stop himself and brings his fist to his mouth -- and bites down *hard* when Roy pulls *off* --

"Here's the deal, little 'mano --"

"*Please* --"

"You're gonna come down my throat. And that means? You're gonna fuck my mouth."

"I -- I --"

"*Watch*," Roy says, and *waits* until Tim is up on his elbows and staring before --

"Oh -- you -- all the way *down* --"

Roy hums and nods --

"You -- so -- *please* --"

Roy *winks* at him and starts working Tim's hips *for* him --

"Oh, *fuck*," and it feels next to impossible to keep his eyes open, even with Roy *looking* at him, *into* him -- "Please -- please don't stop --"

Roy shakes his head slowly -- and starts swallowing around Tim, over and over --

Again --

*Again* --

And trying to get a grip on the tiger hide is *exactly* like trying to hold a material which is, technically, an abomination against god and man, but it's at least enough of a distraction to --

Roy stops working Tim's hips and raises his eyebrows --

"Oh -- oh, *God*, Roy -- *nnh* --" And the first thrust *makes* him squeeze his eyes shut. It feels too good, too right, too much like *exactly* what he's supposed to be doing, and suddenly he's thirteen and six months into his training and his body just wants more and more than that --

He couldn't sleep because he'd wanted to *move* --

Wanted --

Tim plants his feet for leverage and *thrusts* just as Roy moans, and he --

He'd choked it *off* --

Roy is *nodding* --

"*Roy* --" And he chokes *himself* off with a gasp, a sob --

He's close and he has to *warn* Roy -- no. Roy knows exactly what's about to happen and he *wants* it, maybe --

Maybe needs?

And now Tim is choking off moan after *moan* --

Now Roy is gripping Tim's *ass* --

Now Roy is -- is *holding* Tim in his throat, and that --

He can't --

Tim throws his head back and shouts, feeling his spine trying to fuse to itself, melt in the -- the *incandescence* -- "*Yes* --"

He can hear Roy humming --

He can *feel* it and it makes him ejaculate again -- *again* -- "*Roy* --!"

Tim collapses and shudders, and begins the process of convincing his fingers and toes to stop clenching --

He shudders more --

He *moans* -- and realizes Roy is still holding Tim's penis in his *mouth*. "I -- Roy?"


"Oh -- *fuck* --"

Roy pulls off with a slurp. "Heh. You maybe *don't* get hard again right away after you come?"

"I... ah. I masturbated before... um."

"Before coming to see Dickie? Heh. I can *see* that -- but both of you clearly need to learn how to stop doing that," Roy says, and crawls up to join Tim. "That was gorgeous, by the way."

"Ah... glad. Glad to oblige," and Tim works on his breathing, his control --

His control is currently a Tim sulking in the corner of Tim's mind wondering why Tim is bothering to consult with him *now*.

Tim laughs helplessly and rubs at his eyes --

"Share the joke?"

"I... ah. I'm anthropomorphizing my issues, actually. Again."

Roy snickers and strokes Tim's chest. "Do that often?"

Tim smiles at Roy and waves a hand. "It can be helpful, to, say, let Control beat up Towering Rage. Or to lock Disappointment in a closet --"

"Closets are *bad* for you, little 'mano."

Tim hums. "I think you may have a point."

Roy grins at him and traces a circle around Tim's left nipple. "Go with that. How are you feeling?"

"Good. Very good. And -- ah. Clean, as well."

Roy raises his eyebrows. "Not dirty?"

"Not in the least."

"Maybe I can help with that."

Oh. Tim licks his lips. "Dirty would... ah. Seem to suit the decor."

"*Fire* suits the decor, Tim --"

"Really, Roy, think of the effect of the fumes on the neighbors."

Roy snickers and *taps* Tim's chest. "Wanna know a funny thing?"

I'd like to know everything about you -- no. "Yes."

"I'm having a pretty tough time deciding whether I like you better like this... or when you're writhing and screaming my *name*."

Oh... "Perhaps... perhaps that's something we could work out... in time."

Roy's expression is a little surprised. "Not just one night? That wasn't even close to my best blowjob."

"I -- it wasn't?"

Roy laughs again. "Not even close. *Good* blowjobs take *time*." He taps Tim again. "Answer the question."

Question? What -- oh. "I thought... I thought we'd already established that we'd... have this more than once?"

"Oh... heh. *I* was just talkin' about *tonight*, Tim."

Tim licks his lips *helplessly* -- "I -- I believe I want... more than that. Or... we could just talk, or patrol together... um."

Roy narrows his eyes and touches his tongue to his upper lip. "You are... real damned sweet. Not just prissy and efficient." He nods. "Yeah, I can see why Dickie's gone for you."

"The way you talk about him... I. He *is* dating Oracle, Roy. You know that --"

"Uh -- what? What I *know* is that he's dating the chick who used to *Batgirl* -- oh... damn. *Really*?"

"Oh... goodness. Ah. Whoops? You didn't hear that from me? *Hell*," Tim says, and pinches the bridge of his nose. "She's going to kill me. I just -- I assumed that Dick already *told* you --"

"And the fact that I knew who *you* are... yeah, I can see it. Don't worry so much, little 'mano. I learned how to keep secrets like that when I was younger than *you*. Ollie even taught me how to do it when I was *hammered*."

Tim snorts helplessly and drops his hand. "Bruce is training me to do the same thing. So far, I've come close to vomiting on him four times, but I've as yet managed to avoid sharing any deep, dark secrets. Even when Oracle sets me up with funny ones."

Roy traces another circle. "Yeah? The two of you hang out? Fuck, it's weird knowing that Oracle's the woman Dickie's in love with."

"I don't suppose you can... compartmentalize?"

That gets him a snort. "Not likely, little 'mano. God, she must look *incredible* now."

"She -- ah. She really does. Very... strong."

"Not all pasty-pale from computer time?"

"She's pale, yes, but it suits her. And her arms... um. Okay, I may have had a moment or two."

Roy grins. "Better watch that. Even if your girl *doesn't* mind you hooking up with guys, she *might* just have something to say about a gorgeous grown woman."

Tim smiles. "No one compares to... the former Spoiler. Just -- everything. She's smart, she's strong, she's wise, she's determined, she's beautiful... and when she smiles at me I always have this little... ah. *Skip* in my mind."

"She sounds incredible. I don't suppose *she* has any bugs in this day-glo rat-trap?"

Tim laughs. "Unfortunately, no. Just -- ah. All right, I wasn't going to mention that --"

"I may not have *all* the secrets, Tim, but I *do* know what it means to be a Bat. Hence my plan to get the hell out of Dodge *just* as soon as the two of us are finished... and to do my best to convince you of the inherent beauty of the Big Apple."

Tim shows his teeth at Roy.

"Oh, yeah...?"

"I'm sure Outsiders HQ is just a month or two away from being in Architectural Digest."

Roy snickers and thumps his chest. "Hey, that place is a sci-fi fanboy's wet dream, little 'mano. Automatic doors, little blinking lights, a sweet little helicopter-harrier-jet-like-*thing*... you gotta see it."

"And you do live there?"

Roy shrugs. "For now. Part of me is waiting for the rest of me to catch up with just *how* insanely expensive apartments are in that city."

Tim nods... and rolls over onto his side. "Roy..."

"Got somethin' for me?"

"I..." Tim smiles and strokes Roy's chest, curling his fingers in against the hair, scratching at the scars...

Roy licks his lips. "You can touch me all you want, little 'mano."

Tim shivers and -- "Would you mind if I straddled you?"

Pursed lips and -- heat, again. A lot of it. "Not even a little. C'mere," Roy says, and rolls onto his back.

Tim straddles Roy's thighs and begins to stroke in earnest, not quite letting himself pay attention to the piercings --

"Don't be shy, now."

He pays attention to the piercings. Rose gold rings in Roy's surprisingly large nipples, a small hoop in his navel... "Hm."

"'Hm?' Oh, the navel ring. Heh. That's an experiment. I haven't decided whether or not it looks too girly."

"If my opinion counts at all... ah. I'm not entirely sure you *could* look... girly."

Roy raises his eyebrows and folds his hands behind his head. "I gotta say, when Dick told me about getting shoved in dresses all the time..."

"You laughed yourself sick?"

"Sick with... uh... pity?" Roy snickers. "He done that to you?"

"Just a few times. It's mainly problematic for me when I have to have *large* breasts for my cover."

Roy grins again. "Seriously? Handful's just fine?"

Tim grins back and flexes his pecs once, twice --

Roy snorts --

"Ah... anyway. I like to be proportional."

"That's *fair*. What else do you like?"

"These," Tim says, slipping his index fingers in Roy's nipple rings and raising his eyebrows.

"Mm. Pull 'em. Start -- start slow..."

*Heat* for that, only this time it's inside him -- and Tim realizes that his body *wants* to start sweating again. He pulls, watching the flesh grow taut, stretched -- "How. How does that feel?"

Roy arches and smiles. "Like you could make me come if you just did *that*."

"Oh. Really?"

"Nah. But it *feels* that way."

Tim nods and swallow, tugging harder --

What must be *too* hard --

Roy groans and licks his lips, moving his hands from behind his head and gripping Tim's wrists --

"Oh. Should I stop?"

"No. Just... ah. Here," Roy says, moving his hands to Tim's fingers and forcing him to twist in opposite directions --

"Oh -- God. I. May I -- I'd like to. Suck."

Roy meets his eyes with a *slow* grin --

"God, Roy -- um. I think you're about to make me stupid. Again."

"Looks good on you. Trust me. But..."


"You haven't checked out my tackle, at all. Which could mean a couple of things --"

"I'm -- ah. Working my way up to that. Dick... told me."

"I never wear the ladder when I'm on patrol --"

"Don't -- um. Don't tell me?"

Roy grins at him again. "Anything you say. Keep twisting -- oh -- oh, yeah --"

Twisting *pulses*, then, because Roy jerks a little for each one, because Roy is squeezing his eyes shut --

Tim looks, and -- P.A. *Hard* penis. *Leaking* --

"Roy, you're so... I..." Tim licks his lips. "I have... no idea if I'll be able to suck you with that P.A. in. Ah. This is not to say that I won't *try*."

Roy laughs and opens his eyes again. "Hungry, are you?"

"*Yes*. I --" Tim shakes his head. "I want. I want more."

"*Take* what you want, Tim. Little 'mano. You know why I call you that?"

"I'd assumed it was... something of a joke. I know you call Dick 'hermano.'"

"I usually only say the full word when he's doing something inspiring with that sweet ass... but no, that's not it. That's not -- *mm*, yeah, *just* like that..."

Tim looks... and sees that he's started digging his *fingernails* in as he twists -- "Oh. Are you *sure*?"

"Just about as sure as your sweet little body is. See, sometimes... sometimes you just have to *let* your body do what it wants to do."

Tim snorts. That --

"What's the joke this time?"

"Ah... the last time... the *only* time Bruce ever gave me that advice was when he was convincing me that I shouldn't try to avoid vomiting when I was close to the threshold of alcohol poisoning."

Roy snickers and moans -- "Oh -- just. A little. A little harder on the right --"

"Yes. I -- yes. Roy."

"I'm thinking..." Roy bites his lip and arches again --

Starts arching *constantly* -- "Roy. Please..."

"God, the way you beg makes me wanna fuck you until we're *both* screaming --"

Tim groans and starts twisting *faster* --

"*Unh* -- oh, yeah, you're gonna make me lose it, and that's --" Roy's smile is *lazy*. "That's *exactly* what we both want, yeah?"

Tim nods and tries to keep it from being *frantic*. "Please. You were saying --"

"I call you 'little 'mano' because it's like *I* get to have a little brother of my own. Maybe I should call you 'manito... but the other is better. For me. How do you like it, baby?"

Tim grunts. "Ah -- better than 'baby.'"

Roy snickers and *lifts* them with a pump of his hips --

"*Roy* --"

"Mixed messages, there... little 'mano."

"I -- blame crippling lust --"

"Yeah. *About* that. You ever told Bruce you wanted him?"

Tim snorts. "He's *Batman*. He *knows*."

Roy sighs and rolls his head back and forth on the pillow a little. "Yeah, I can see that. But -- heh. Call me a pervert, but I can't help thinking of you sharing *that* dark secret when Bruce has gotten you good and juicy..."

"Oh. Oh, God, that would be -- ah. I think I'd have to pray for traumatic *memory* loss --"

Roy's laugh this time is surprisingly high-pitched, a *sweet* tenor --

"I -- I'd like to hear you. Sing."

Roy blinks and smiles up at him, arching again. "Maybe you can tell Bruce that *I'm* going to help you practice the art of inebriated secret-keeping. Or -- heh. Tell your parents you're going on a karaoke night with a friend...?"

Tim laughs and *rubs* at Roy's nipples with his thumbs --

"Ooh. Tease. I like it."

"Noted. Ah... every time I make myself sound remotely social, my stepmother tries to *help* with it."

Roy winces a little, but it's eminently clear that it has nothing to do with what Tim is doing... as opposed to what he'd said. "So what you're saying is that you actually have *good* parents you have to lie to all the time. That's -- fucking rough, actually."

Tim smiles ruefully. "One makes do. I... you never said --"

"Suck my nipples for me. Get -- get those rings between your pretty teeth."

"Pretty *teeth*?"

Roy grins broad and lazily. "You heard me. Small mouth, perfectly-*proportioned* teeth... everybody needs kinks."

Tim hums and lays himself down over Roy, giving himself permission to push one thigh between Roy's own --

"Oh, *that* feels good. How you doin'?"

"Very well... I hope."

"You have *nothing* to worry about. God, the way you sounded when you came -- mm. Rub off on me a little?"

"Oh. Yes," and in this position the muscle and scars of Roy's thigh are a goad, a -- a *wonder* --

Roy's penis is hard and *good* against Tim's abdomen --

"Roy, you feel..."

"You feel like muscle and *bone*. Like -- heh. Just the way Robin *should* feel."

Tim blushes more than a little helplessly. "I wasn't aware I was being very Robinly --"

"The way you *talk* -- nnh. Tell me... tell me about *your* kinks. What got you thinking about doin' me?"

Tim licks his lips. "It was... ah. You stroked your own thigh," Tim says, and adds the kind of grind he uses when he's not just alone, but alone in the entire townhouse. When he's *needy* --

Roy grunts -- "Yeah? That was it?"

"Ah. When you broke the. The arrow. One-handed --"

Roy grins at him and shakes his head. "*That*? You're used to *Bruce*."

"Yes, well, he's *Bruce*. It's neither thrilling nor strange when he does something ridiculously spectacular... or, all right, it's still thrilling, but --"

"You weren't expecting it from *me*. Heh, I get that. But you *know* archers have to be strong in a lot of ways."

Tim licks his lips and thinks about Connor, about *his* hands --

His *mouth* --

Tim leans in and kisses Roy's nipple --

"You just went somewhere *pretty*. C'mon, give."

Tim smiles and catches the ring between his teeth, tugging and growling quietly --

Roy grunts -- and laughs. "Nuh-uh, no distractions," Roy says, and cups the back of Tim's head. "Be nice or I *won't* hold your head down on my cock."

Tim *pants* against Roy's nipple, thrusts and -- and *squirms* --

"Yeah. Thought you'd like that idea. Give."

"Ah... you already have a younger brother," Tim says, slipping his tongue into the ring and tugging that way... he can't get much force. He's clearly going to have to find ways to exercise his tongue in the very near future. But... he can stimulate the actual nipple more easily this way --

"I -- what? Oh -- oh, God, you and *Connor*?"

Tim sucks hard for a moment, and Roy cups the back of his head and pulls him closer --

Tim groans and tries to use as much force as he *can* --

The ring *taps* against his teeth, and almost seems to cause a low *thrum* --

"You -- *he's* a virgin. And -- unh. Before you ask? He doesn't really care who knows it so long as you don't... don't get on him about it... he. Fuck, he's beautiful --"

Tim nods and gets his teeth back on the ring --

Roy moans and strokes down to the back of Tim's neck, tickling and scratching -- "Wanna hear what I would do to him if he ever wanted a taste?"

Tim tugs *reflexively* --

"*Fuck*, that's a yes. Uh. His mouth... you've seen his mouth. I'd kiss him for... God, an hour..."

Tim nods again and *licks* his way to Roy's other nipple -- Roy grips the back of Tim's neck to stop him. "I -- Roy?"

Roy shudders. "You -- I kinda always wanted you for him."

"I -- what?"

"He -- likes you. Doesn't *talk* about you all that much but..." Tim knows that wet sound is Roy licking his lips. "It's not his way. You know that, right?"

"I... he's always very concise in his letters."

"Letters. Fuck. You're his *only* pen-pal, little 'mano. You work that Robin mojo pretty fucking hard when you're in the mood to."

Tim closes his eyes and thinks about almond-colored skin --

Wait, was that racist?

Tim files the thought away for later. "I... I've thought extensively about kissing him."

"I *like* the way you kiss. I -- yeah, this is why I own the fact that I'm a pervert: part of me is getting off on the idea of getting you *ready* for him."

Tim groans. "That's... ah. Filthy, actually."

"You got that right," Roy says, and the smile in his voice is *sunny*.

"Roy. I want. I want your other nipple."

"Uh... well. I know I said things about not saying no and also not *pushing*, but right now I'm thinking about my little brother's lips wrapped around your cock --"

"Oh -- *ohn* --"

"Yeah. Suck me?"

Tim shivers *while* he kisses his way down the center of Roy's chest, pausing only to tug on the navel ring with his teeth before --

Oh, the *scent*. The --

So rich and *heavy*, and there are still hints of the beer that had soaked Roy's uniform but they seem almost hallucinatory when compared to the scent of clean sweat and aroused *male*. Tim lets Roy's penis brush his neck --

"*Fuck* --"

Bump his *chin* --

Roy moans and grips hard --

Tim moans louder and has to force himself to wrap a hand around the base of Roy's penis as opposed to just diving *on* --

"Don't -- just don't make yourself *gag*, okay? I'm only in the mood for that *sometimes*."

"Noted," Tim says, and his own voice is unfamiliar, rough and almost *growled* --

Tim licks the head, pushing into the ring --

"Jesus, *yeah* --"

Tim works the ring with his tongue, testing the range of motion, his ability to move it out of his way --

Roy moans and *scratches* the back of Tim's neck --

"*Roy* --"

"Like that, too? *Good* to know. C'mon, play with me a little. Have *fun*."

Tim moans again and strokes Roy, squeezes -- and licks away the drop of pre-come that beads at the tip. Roy isn't very long -- compared to *Bruce* -- but he's thick, curved, *pierced* --

The frenum ladder he isn't wearing has left five pairs of holes that are both neat and *intimidating* -- tempting. Tim lets go and trails sucking kisses along the holes on the right, the ones on the left --

Roy's penis twitches, spattering Tim's forehead with more pre-come, more --

"You. You *marked* me, Roy --"

Roy grunts and pants. "Gonna -- gonna *keep* doin' that. C'mon, your mouth again --"

Tim licks up the shaft, shudders for the sound and feel of the ring hitting his teeth -- and takes the head in.

Roy groans, hand *flexing* on the back of Tim's neck -- "Oh, suck me, *suck* me --"

And Tim doesn't realize *until* he's slurring and humming that he'd wanted to call Roy's name again --

"Ah -- Jesus, you're -- look what you *do* to me, little 'mano --"

Want -- Tim *wants* --

Tim sucks hard and tries to work his tongue on and around the ring -- and loses his *place* when Roy's penis twitches. He grabs hold again --

Squeezes --

"*Tim* --"

Tim moans and tries to take Roy deeper, succeeding despite the fact that the feel of the ring makes him shiver --

And what, precisely, would that feel like in his ass?

How does he go about finding *out*?

"Unh -- you -- God, you make me wanna do you all *night* --"

Tim nods helplessly and grips Roy's hip with his free hand, trying to lift --

The leverage isn't *good* enough --

Tim moans and looks up at Roy --

And Roy is up on one elbow. His hair is mussed and sweaty at the temples, his lips are parted and red --

They could be more swollen than they are. They --

His eyes are so *green*, but a different green from Connor's. Connor's eyes have more brown to them, Roy's more blue --

And there really is a *penis* in his *mouth*. Tim groans and lets himself close his eyes, lets himself take Roy just a little *deeper* --

"Fuck, little 'mano, you look so -- so *determined*," Roy says, laughing and cupping the back of Tim's head again, pulling *slightly* --

Tim moans and *coughs* --

"Easy, now. Take it -- take it *slow*. It's -- heh. Better that way, anyway."

Tim pulls back slightly and nods -- and runs his thumbnail along the holes.

Roy grunts and *arches* -- but doesn't thrust. Tim hears himself making a frustrated noise -- he doesn't want to pull off to ask --

Oh. There are other *ways*. Tim pulls back a little further, careful not to jostle the ring too much in his mouth, and then goes back down *fast*.

"*Fuck* --"

The thrill is incredible, the feel is enervating and numbing at once -- his lips already feel *used* --

Tim squeezes his eyes shut and pushes up on his knees enough to be able to reach back with his free hand and *grip* himself. And --

Oh. Stroke with the same *rhythm* --

"Oh -- oh, *fuck*, yeah, Tim, just -- just don't get yourself so hard you *need* to come right away. We -- we got other things to *try*."

Tim shudders *again* -- and remembers that he was going to work his mouth on Roy's penis, that he was going to *ask* for this with his body, his mouth --

So *used* --

Tim whimpers and starts working his mouth. It's awkward, at first -- his body keeps trying to tell him that there are too many rhythms at *once* -- but, in the end, he was trained by *Batman* to toss batarangs perfectly while dodging crossfire and reciting the Gotham City penal code. Among other things. This --

It's not 'just' sex -- Tim has become positive that there's no such thing as 'just' sex with Roy Harper -- but it's entirely manageable.


Salty-thick-*hot* --

"Some -- somebody *remembered* what I said about wanting -- nnh. Wanting to fuck a certain *mouth*."

Tim nods and squeezes himself hard -- *moans* --

"Yeah. I -- show me how deep you can take me, Tim. Need to -- heh. *Calculate*."

That's an entirely practical concern, and perhaps Roy just *is* the kind of person who can be practical at times like this and *still* let himself run out of zip-strips on the street. Tim nods again and slows down --

"God -- fucking *torture* -- no, no, that's good, do your thing --"

Tim hums acknowledgment and takes Roy a little deeper each time, feeling himself stretched and *taken* even though Roy's holding himself so tautly that he's *shaking*, and that --

Tim lets go of himself and strokes Roy's hip again, trying to be soothing, trying to make this *good* --

Roy groans and strokes restlessly through Tim's hair, scratches the back of Tim's neck again -- "Tim. Tim..."

Saying his name. Saying his name while *letting* Tim do this -- Tim moans and pants through his nose, wants *more* --

But the ring is tickling the back of Tim's throat, and that -- Tim pulls back again as slightly as he can while still making this work and gives Roy the go signal while loosening his grip on the base --

"*Fuck*, yes, you -- hnn. Heh. You -- press your tongue up against the underside a little -- yeah. Yeah, like that --" Roy pants once, twice --

So Tim *keeps* rubbing at Roy with the flat of his tongue --

"God, that's fucking *perfect*, Tim. I can -- can almost feel you *in* me... my scars..."

Tim looks up, and Roy is shaking himself like a dog --

"Want your *throat* -- no, no, I didn't say that, I completely. Didn't say that. Uh." Roy meets his eyes and grins at him. "I'm gonna come in about two minutes if you keep that up --"

Tim moans and tries to pull on Roy's hip again --

"That'll be more like... uh. Ninety seconds. Tops. You want me to come in your. Your pretty little mouth?"

Tim nods and feels his face heating, his *body* heating -- he's sweating again, and all Roy has to do is *move* to make Tim moan more, *need* more --

"Yeah. Yeah, okay. Like this?" And Roy's grip on the back of Tim's head is impossible, *frightening* --

Tim feels himself twitching and *flexing* -- and he's biting back a moan before he remembers he doesn't *have* to --

"I think... mm. I think you should know that I have an *extremely*... large. Collection of sex toys."


"Just keep that in mind, little 'mano. And *take* this," Roy says, thrusting smoothly and *powerfully* -- but never thrusting beyond the point Tim had set, never --

And Tim suddenly *wants* to gag for this, wants more, wants to be able to *take* --

But wouldn't *not* being able to take it be that much better? That much more *overwhelming*?

Tim whimpers and squeezes his eyes shut --

"Oh, no, no -- oh, fuck, I want you *loud* --"

Tim whimpers again, humps at *air* --

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

Tim squeezes Roy's hip, tries to keep himself still -- but Roy is holding him in place, keeping Tim where he *needs* him --

Oh, so *good*, and there's something like a grainy burn behind Tim's eyes, something like a *stutter* as all the empty holes run across his tongue --

Roy's taste is all *through* him --

And Roy is panting now, *not* steadily. Roy's breath hitches and catches, hitting low notes *and* higher ones -- "*Look* at me --"

Tim opens his eyes and thinks it must look like he's pleading --

And *knows* that he looks exactly right for *Roy*, that he --

Oh, Roy looks almost *hurt* as he stares at Tim, into Tim --

His thrusts lose their *rhythm*, but Tim can help with that, make another one, a *faster* one --

"*Tim* -- gonna -- oh, fuck, don't you stop, don't you --"

No, he won't, he *won't*, and Tim shakes his head and tries to keep sucking, working his tongue, working his whole mouth --

Roy growls and arches, the thick and corded muscles of his body tensing with power *restrained* --

Faster, then, *more* --

Roy shouts and starts to thrust again, harder this time and just a *little* deeper --

He won't *cough* --

Roy shouts *again* -- and the first spatter of come paints the back of Tim's throat, makes him feel --

Feel so *much* --

"Oh, *God* --"

Yes, Roy, *yes* -- and Tim can't remember how to swallow, can't --

There's come spilling out of his mouth and pooling on Roy's groin --

Tim can't keep himself from *digging* his fingers in against Roy's *hip* --

Roy collapses down onto the tiger hide and grunts loudly and repeatedly --

No more spurts. No more --

Tim sucks because he *has* to --

"Oh, *fuck*, *Tim* --"

He doesn't want to stop, he doesn't --

Roy whimpers and strokes Tim's head restlessly, roughly -- "I know, little 'mano, I know how that *feels* --"

*Tim* whimpers -- and there's no way to ignore the gentle tugs at his hair, the *careful* --

Tim pulls off and gasps, *sobs* -- he buries his face against Roy's thigh and just -- tries to *breathe* --

Roy moans and sits up, hauling Tim into his arms and *hugging* him, and apparently --

This --

There's nothing *wrong* and he's making himself look like --

He can't stop --

"Shh, Tim, little 'mano, Tim -- not baby. I can manage that. And you -- fucking *hell*, that was fantastic --"

Tim -- he doesn't have to *clutch* at Roy's shoulders, but trying to avoid it just leads to him prodding and poking at them like he's checking for an *injury* --

"Wha...? I'm fine, Tim, but -- oh -- hell, I get that, too. Touch all you *want*."

"Roy, I -- that was -- I --"

"It was *incredible* -- and pretty fucking intense, too, and you don't even have any *context* for this -- hell," Roy says, and *slams* them down onto their sides, shoving a thigh between Tim's own and stroking, holding *tight* --

"God, Roy, I'm sorry --"

"*No*. That was --" Roy shakes his head. "You're good. *We're* good. And I'm just gonna keep holding you for a little while, okay?"

"Roy --"

"You -- uh. Pretend I'm Dick?"

"*No* -- you -- you're *not*, and I can't -- I *won't* --"

"Shh, it's *okay*. Anything you need --"

"I don't want to *need*," Tim says, and it comes out too raw, too *honest* --

"I understand that, *too*, Tim, but --"

"Roy, I. I can *taste* you. I can -- I need --" Tim growls and beats his head against Roy's shoulder --

"Easy, *easy*. Yeah, you can taste me, and my cock is still fucking *singing* for what you did, what you made me *feel*, I --" Roy kisses Tim's forehead gently, and then he does it again --

Harder --

*Again* -- "Tim... stay with me. Just -- this moment, okay? This is sex, *too*."

Steph -- Steph would, perhaps, agree with that. Tim takes a deep breath and nods, closing his eyes and forcing himself to push closer --

Reminding himself that Roy's body is *incredible* --

Tim smiles and -- yes, laughs a little.

"Tell me?"

"I..." Tim kisses Roy's shoulder --

"Ohh. I like that. I like that a lot."

Tim licks his lips and does it again, more seriously, more *wetly* -- and then he stops. "I think. I think I have a few issues with regard to physical intimacy."

Roy snorts. "You're a *Bat*. Bruce probably wouldn't have taken you on if you *didn't* have those issues."

"I -- *Dick* --"

"Is an *addict*. He literally goes into withdrawal if he goes too long without someone lying on top of him -- whether or *not* they're humping him. Why do you think we all get so worried about him?"

Tim closes his eyes. "I often. I think that I'm not... enough of what he needs."

"Ah, little 'mano... sometimes I think no one is. Though Kory came *damned* close. Sometimes she'd wrap him up in her hair while he was sleeping so he'd have to *ask* to get up and go take a piss in the morning."

That -- ah. "Really?"

"Heh. Vic got it on film. You only *think* you know how much hair Kory has. The theory is that she's got a damned pocket dimension in there."

"That... all right, it wouldn't actually explain anything about her ability to fly. I just want it to."

Roy pets him. "There, there. Logic is for pussies, little 'mano."

*That* -- Tim smiles helplessly. "My girlfriend has told me that more than once. Ah... in those *exact* words, actually."

Roy snorts. "Apparently, you have a *type*."

"Mm. It seems to be working well for me, all things considered."

"That so?"

"Oh... yes," Tim says, and *pushes* against Roy's thigh.

"I -- damn. I *want* you to hump my leg, but I never really got into that kind of thing unless the other person was also doing their best to hump *me*."

"And you're not really... up for that."

"Heh. *Yet*," Roy says, and cups Tim's ass. "Your call. I'd *like* to see you move for me."

*For* him -- Tim shivers. "I think... ah. What are my other options?"

"I could take my *time* on your cock now...?"

Tim licks his lips. "I... um."

"You want something. Say it?"

Tim nods -- stops. "You -- give more orders when you're aroused."

Roy pulls back enough that he can grin at Tim. "Get me hard enough for ya and I'm fuckin' *rude*, little 'mano."

Which is certainly *worth* a blush... but. "There's more there that you aren't saying."

Roy's eyes widen *fractionally* -- but still noticeably.

Tim hums. "Tell me?"

"Uh... okay. Fine. *Most* of my sex toys involve bondage. Domination games, pain games... that kind of thing."

Tim nods slowly and licks his lips. It's not -- ultimately -- a surprise. "Would you like that with me?"

"It's not --" Roy shakes his head. "You can't really do that kind of thing with someone -- all right, we didn't *just* meet --"

"Not what I asked, Roy," Tim says, and shows his teeth.

"Heh. *That* smile... do you think maybe Dickie taught me about you because he was hoping someone *else* would relieve you of that virginity?"

"Should I let you avoid that question?"

Roy traces a spiral on Tim's hip. "You avoided mine first."

"Oh, I'll answer. I want to be fucked --"

"Jesus. Uh -- Tim, you know you can't --"

"I've been stretching myself for years. And I want to know --"

"Yes," Roy says, wincing and shaking his head. "I wanna make you scream down the house. Every house we wind up in. And -- hell, maybe it can't ever be more than once --"

"It can --"

"You don't know how you'd *react* to that kind of game, Tim. You --"

"Freaked out abominably, yes --"

"It wasn't --" Roy growls and *grips* Tim's hip. "Listen to me, okay? Just -- listen for a minute."

Tim licks his lips. "I'm listening."

"It's intense. It's -- *more* intense than this was, okay? If you do it right it's so intense you can just -- leave your body. And I know that sounds like exaggeration --"

"I... I've studied. It," Tim says, and reaches up to stroke Roy's hair --

And Roy's speed is --

Tim's on his back with his wrists pinned, his legs *spread*. He can get out of this pin -- Roy *isn't* as strong as Bruce -- but not without committing to causing the kind of damage which really wouldn't be *toward* with an ally. "Roy --"

"Shut it. What if I say that you can't say a word? What if I say that you can't move in any way but the ways *I* say? What if I say you have to do everything -- and I mean everything -- I tell you to do?"

And this -- it's absolutely designed to make Tim balk -- or at least *demur* --

It's just that it's also designed to make Tim *flex* -- and Tim can see Roy feeling that by the way he narrows his eyes. "Answer me."

"I don't want to speak --"

"*Answer* me --"

"If it's not allowed," Tim says, and tilts his head back, exposing his throat --

Certainly the pornography... the photos included in certain studies --

Roy narrows his eyes. "You -- Tim."

"Please. Show me."

Roy winces again... and Tim can feel him starting to harden against his thigh. Just that fast. "Answer. Me."

"I won't speak unless you tell me to... though I might make other noises. I know precisely how to keep myself still. I'll do anything."


Tim smiles helplessly... yes, that's a good word. "Yes."

Roy closes his eyes and laughs.

Tim -- doesn't ask.

And when Roy opens his eyes again, there's a glitter in them --

A *sharpness* --

Tim moans --

"You can make any noise you want, little 'mano. You can even *talk*... but you can't ask questions. *Any* questions. Understood?"

Tim nods --


Tim feels something *seize* -- "Yes."

"You can *move* any way you want... except that when I put you in a certain position? You stay there. Understood?"


"You'll come screaming."

"Fuck -- yes --"

Roy rolls off of him and *reclines* on his back. "Get the lube out of your belt. Now."

Tim moves, and there's a part of his mind --

All right, several parts of his mind are yelling several different *things*, but the most important one at the moment is the one pointing out that he has no idea what he had done with his belt -- there.

Tim fumbles with it before he can pick it up, and...he's shaking. He's actually --

And maybe this means he shouldn't --

The tube is in his hand. Tim goes to stand beside the bed and... waits.

Roy looks him up and down with a kind of lazy thoroughness, a perusal that seems to include everything from his toenails to the hair Tim knows is ridiculously mussed.

Tim is, abruptly, very grateful for every traumatic moment which had led to him being comfortable with his own nudity... if never precisely satisfied. Tim holds out the tube in his right palm.

"You look damned good to me. You know that, right?"

"I... you've done a wonderful job of making that clear."

Roy smiles. "One does what one can, little 'mano. Get on the bed, on your back, with your head resting on this orange and black abomination's neck... yeah. Like that."

It feels like he's being jabbed by about a million wool spikes, but Tim understands that this is because he's allergic to wool. The material of the 'hide' is nothing which could occur without moderately mad scientists and --

And his brain is trying to distract him --

He can't see Roy.

He can't --

Roy isn't making a *sound* -- well, no, he must be, but Tim's heart is pounding, Tim is *panting* --

Tim calms himself --

Tim *tries* to calm himself --

Tim clutches at the hide and jerks a little at the feel of the material slipping beneath his fingernails --

"Don't worry. You *don't* have to relax. Yet."

"Ah -- all right --"

"Pull your knees up -- no, not all the way to your chest. Yet."

Tim plants his feet --

"Would you do this for Dick?"

"I. There was a time when I would've done anything for Dick. I had... fantasies. Any number, a large amount of variety... most of them faded as I actually came to... to know him."

"Because they didn't fit, anymore? Seemed less realistic?"

"I... yes. But if he wanted this..." Tim shakes his head. "No, I'm sorry, I can't see it."

Roy sighs. "That's fair. Bruce?"

Tim -- the only word for it is 'squirms.'

"Now what, I wonder, was *that* for?"

"Ah... discomfort. I. It's one thing to know that Bruce knows that I'm attracted to him, but --"

"We're in his place. In a very, very weird -- and loud -- corner of his brain. And we're just both gonna hope that I shouldn't have said 'soul.' The bugs are throwing you."

"I. Yes."

"I don't care," Roy says, and the sunny smile is back in his voice. "Tell me."

Tim catches himself stroking his own chest -- stops --

"No, no. Keep that up. Touch yourself everywhere you can reach -- without sitting up or moving your legs."


"And answer the question."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut. He -- this is -- "This. I. These are the real... dark secrets. That I keep myself from sharing when Bruce makes me drink."

Roy sighs again. "Ohh... I figured as much. Ever think he maybe hopes you --"

"No. Ah -- no. I don't. I'm not -- I'm not."

"If you say so, little 'mano. Talk. Or I get dressed."

Tim sucks in a breath -- "Please --"

The bed shifts --

"Oh, God -- I. I'm afraid, and I --"

"I *know* you're afraid --"

"No, I mean -- that's the fantasy. It *starts* with fear."

Roy takes an audible breath of his own... and the bed shifts again. "Then go on."

"I." Tim scratches at his own abdomen and squeezes his eyes shut. He'd known about the mirrored ceiling -- he'd helped *install* it -- but seeing it this way --

Seeing himself this way --

"I'm afraid. I'm more -- it's worse than anything else. But it's also. It makes me. I'm almost wired with it. I'm shaking, and I almost *hurt* --"

"Where are you?"

"It... it varies. Sometimes it's my old bedroom in the manor. Sometimes it's the Cave. Sometimes... sometimes it's the bedroom I had when we lived *next* to the manor --"

"Most of the time?"

"Bruce. Bruce's bedroom," Tim says, and keeps his eyes *closed*. Scratches more, scratches --

The way his scars add a *jagged* edge to things --

"The scent... it makes me. A little crazy. About half the time, it's the scent which makes me afraid. Because it's Bruce. The *man* and not the Bat, and I've always wanted -- and I never thought I'd be allowed -- and I know it's not for *me* but I'm taking it *anyway* --"

"Other times?"

"Some. Ah. Terrible..." Responsibility. "Mission."

"Heh. We'll come back to *that* little pause."

"Roy -- "

"More. What does he do? What do *you* do?"

Tim pants -- stops -- he squeezes his eyes closed more *tightly* and gives himself a moment to just try to understand the pattern of the colors --

"You gotta be faster than that, little 'mano. Now."

"He. Ah. He tells me to make myself ready. For him."

Roy takes a deep, slow breath. "And that means?"

"That I'm." Tim licks his lips. "It means that he knows everything about what I've done. It means -- it means that he watched me fucking myself with my fingers at least once. Maybe. Maybe when I was using the old gauntlet of his that I -- stole."

Roy whistles appreciatively. "Where you got that hidden?"

"There are... several hidden compartments in my bedroom --"

"Touch yourself more. Keep talking."

"Yes, I --" Tim strokes his own thighs, squeezing and testing the muscle the way -- "Sometimes. Sometimes he touches me this way."

"Like he's measuring you for *another* kind of uniform."

Oh, Roy. If you knew... but. Would he tell Dick? "I -- yes. Exactly yes. Actually."

Roy purrs quietly. "All right. So he'd watched you fucking yourself -- pretending you were getting it from the Bat --"

"Not. Not the Bat. The *Batman*. There... there's a difference."

"Oh, *really*. Okay, we'll go there, too at some point. He'd watched you. Was he turned on when he saw it? Or was he just... satisfied?"

Tim hears himself panting. "You know... a lot."

"I *could* just be intuitive, little 'mano," and this time there's a *laugh* in Roy's voice --

He wants to *ask* --

"Tell me."

Tim scratches his inner thighs... and lets himself lift his hips slightly. Just --

"Pretty, pretty. Now."

"He's satisfied. With me. He -- he thinks I'm *good* enough. He knows I'm ready -- that I can *be* ready -- with just. Just a little help."

*Quiet* wet noise. "And that's what this is? Help?"

Tim laughs -- and the feel of it rolling through him makes him *shake* again. "No, I -- we both know, in the fantasy, that it's more than that to me. That it's better and deeper... even though it shouldn't be. It's not -- it wouldn't be a good fantasy if I were perfect."

Roy grunts noncommittally. "Lift your hips again. High as you can get."

"Yes -- yes," Tim says, and does it  --

"Down. Spread wider, lift up again -- yeah. Like that. Hold yourself there."

"Yes, Roy."

"Listen to me stroking myself."

"Oh -- oh, Roy --"

"Do you wanna see it?"

"Yes -- please --"

"No," and Roy starts stroking himself faster. That sound. That *sound* --

The rhythm is so *harsh* -- "Are you --" Very hard. But -- he can't ask. "I'm sorry."

"Heh. Get down."

"Yes --"

"Slap your cock."

"I -- what --"


Tim groans and does it -- "*Hnh* --"

"Now the *fascinating* thing," Roy says, and slows down. "Is that I *didn't* tell you to do it that hard."

"I -- ah. Assumed --"

"Did you? Or did you just want it?"

Tim groans again. The sting in his penis is just --

He feels almost *numb* around the edges of where he'd slapped, while there's a *burn* everywhere else, and --

Roy had asked a question. "Oh -- Roy, I -- I'm not sure --"

"No? All right. Slap it again. From the other side."

"Ah -- *ah* --"

"Do you like it, little 'mano?"

"It -- it's such a *bright* pain, and I -- it feels -- I'm not *sure* --"

"All right. Think of it this way -- it's my hand."

Tim moans and blinks his eyes open, and the look of himself in the cheap and warping mirror... he looks both wavery and more solid, more *real* than anything else in the room.

It occurs to him that he could see Roy if he just --

He closes his eyes again. "I want. I want your hand."

"Yeah? Touch yourself the way you want me to touch you --"

Tim *squeezes* his penis and grunts --

"Yeah. And tell me more about the fantasy."

Somewhat paradoxically, now that he has to *focus* on how he's touching himself --

It's easier.

*Easier* -- "He -- orders me to lie on the bed. On my stomach."

"Mm. More."

"He -- massages me. Quickly. Efficiently. It -- when he touches me certain places, I can't keep from moaning --"


Tim pinches his own nipples and arches again -- "I -- the back of my neck. The base of my spine --"

"Noted, little 'mano. And I'd pinch those harder --"

"*Ohn* --"

"Mm. Good boy. Are you relaxed when he's done with the rubdown?"

"I -- despite myself. He's --"

"Batman. Yeah, I hear you. Does he want you to stay in that position?"

"N-no. Hands and knees. I -- I want -- ah."

"What do you want?"

"Touch. To touch my penis --"

Another quiet wet sound -- Roy is licking his lips. "What if I don't let you?"

"Then. I obey. I -- please, Roy --"

"Can you still taste me?"

"*Yes* --"

"Grab the lube, slick your fingers, and fuck yourself *exactly* the way Bruce does you in the fantasy."

Tim moans and shakes his head -- no -- "That -- that didn't mean no --"

"Heh. I could *tell*, little 'mano. Now do it."

Tim picks up the lube and follows orders. Just -- "He always. He always starts with one finger --"

"So you start with two?"

"Yes -- yes, *please* --"

"Do it. Show me -- but *don't* change your position too much."

"Yes, Roy, I --" Tim swallows and pushes in as deep as he can -- "Oh, *God*, he's so -- I --"


"*Ruthless*. I -- *relentless* --"

"He's Batman in the fantasy."

"Please -- please, *please*, Roy, I -- I don't know what I *want* --"

"Then I'll tell you," Roy says, and the bed is shifting under him -- Roy cups Tim's knees and looks Tim *over*. Thoroughly. "Hot boy. Fucking -- heh. You wanna get fucked."

"Oh -- *yes* --"

"You want it *hard*."

"*Roy* --"

"And you want it... heh." Roy smiles, showing his teeth and stroking his way down Tim's thighs to his abdomen.

"Please. Please tell me --"

"Right now -- you want it from me."

"Oh -- God, yes," Tim says, and fucks himself faster --

Roy purrs, flattening his hands on Tim's abdomen and *pressing* as he strokes to Tim's chest --

"So -- so *good* --"

"Uh, huh. Is that the way Bruce does you? Fast and hard?"

Oh -- fuck. "No. It -- it's you. What I want --"

Roy narrows his eyes. "Slow down."

"*Please* -- *oh* --"

Roy is *pulling* on Tim's nipples -- "Slow. Down."

Tim gasps -- and keeps doing it. But he can make himself slow down, and --

"Good. Good boy," and Roy licks his lips again. "Are you ready to give yourself another finger?"

Tim nods -- "I mean. Yes -- *yes* --"

Roy breathes through his mouth and lets go of Tim's nipples. "You need some body art, little 'mano. Your nipples could be... louder," he says, and smiles again. "Maybe I'll pierce you myself one of these days."

Tim grunts for the twitch of his penis, for the way he can't help *clenching* --

"Three fingers. *Right* now," and Roy sits back on his heels...

And watches Tim stop thrusting for *exactly* as long as it takes to work his ring finger in --

"Push *deep* --"

"Oh, *Roy* --"

"Love. Love the way you say my *name*, little 'mano. *Good* boy. *Now* you can fuck yourself the way you want me to do you. You can keep your eyes closed for it."

"Yes -- oh, it's so -- the pain makes it *better* --"


"No. I -- sometimes. Sometimes I can be... slow. A little. *Unh* --"

"Arch up, tilt your head back -- yeah. That's good, little 'mano. You're all flushed, sweating... I can smell you more than whatever hellspawn-created potpourri Matches uses."

Tim laughs --

Cries out --

Laughs *more* --

"God, you're so *pretty* -- mm. Stop fucking yourself, but *don't* pull out."

"Yes -- yes, Roy --" Tim cuts himself off with another moan and tries to convince his body that it knows how to *breathe* --

And gives up on that immediately when Roy starts stroking his formerly-working arm. Just -- Roy's hands are bigger than *Dick's*, and the way he's touching --

It *is* a little like the way Dick touches him sometimes, that -- that possessiveness that's anything but casual in the moments after Tim *nearly* makes a mistake -- or after a criminal comes close to hurting him, whether or not it's just luck.

The part of him which Bruce owns wants Tim to know that there's no such *thing* as luck --

The part of him which wants to *panic* -- even at this late date -- wants him to know that he could still stop this --

("I'm *not* gonna stop.")

Tim moans and clenches around his fingers -- and realizes that his arm is practically *vibrating* with tension. Roy --

Is trying to soothe him. Trying --

Tim forces himself to take a deep breath -- and moans again at the feel of his hole *opening* again --

"Yeah, like that. *Now* is when you relax," and Roy lets go of Tim's nipples and starts to massage Tim's chest.

His hands are as deft and expert as the hands of any experienced operative in this life should be, and Tim focuses on breathing, on not asking questions, on just --

This could, perhaps, be -- oh, dear --

Tim laughs a little breathlessly --

"Tell me."

"I -- ah. I was imagining Bruce teaching me how to meditate *this* way."

Roy snorts. "I can't decide if Dick would have more or *less* issues."

"Certainly... certainly they would be *different* issues."

"*Indeed*," Roy says, smiling down at Tim and working on his shoulders.

"You -- I. You have wonderful hands."

"Yeah, hunh? Tell you what -- you can suck on 'em just about anytime you want."

Tim licks his lips. "Now?"

Roy smiles sharply --

"Oh, *hell* --"

"Shh. Take your punishment like the good boy you are," and Roy *caresses* Tim's cheek before tapping it with two fingers. "Head back."

Tim does it --

And the bite to his throat makes him *scream*, makes him start thrusting again *reflexively* --

Roy catches Tim's wrist and squeezes *hard* --

"Sorry -- *sorry* -- oh, God --"

The bites seem to *march* across Tim's throat, each one harder --

*Wetter* --

Oh --

"*Roy* -- hurts. So -- *please* --"

Roy growls and bites harder, working his way to the other side of Tim's throat --

He's not close enough to *hump* -- but Tim is still pumping at air, anyway. Just -- his throat has always been *sensitive*, but this --

And Tim isn't remotely close to being ready for it to stop when it does. Roy stares down at him with a *wild* grin on his face --

A dare in his eyes --


"Wanna try that again?"

"I would. I would like to suck your fingers again."

Roy hums and tilts his head to the side, releasing Tim's wrist and bracing himself on his hands to either side of Tim's head. "What *else* would you like?"

Tim closes his eyes -- "I want. I want you inside me. Please."

Mattress shift -- and Roy strokes the bridge of Tim's nose with one finger. "I change my mind. I'm not gonna regret this even *when* Bruce does his best to beat me not-quite-to-death."

Tim snorts -- "He -- he *wouldn't* --"

"No? We'll see, I guess. Mm. Got an order for you. You ready?"

"Oh --" Tim opens his eyes again. "Yes --"

"Don't start thinking that I only said I wanted more from you than just tonight to be *polite*. Don't start going back over and over everything I've said for lies -- even harmless ones -- because there weren't any. Don't think... that you ever have to wait to call me."

Tim blinks -- "I -- oh. I think. I think I should be blushing."

Roy shrugs. "Maybe. You could be in that *particular* state of mind I like to call sex-shock."

"Ah --"


"I could -- um?"

"Dick-dementia...?" And Roy waggles his eyebrows, and that --

Tim laughs again, breathless and -- "I. I really don't think I've ever been. Ah. That I've ever laughed this much while being this *aroused*."

Roy raises an eyebrow -- almost certainly for the hesitation --

"I. I was going to say... happy."

Roy licks his lips. "I didn't ask that question, Tim."

"I -- sorry. It's just. I could read... you."

"And you don't wanna hide from me? Not even a little?"

Tim smiles and -- writhes. A little. "I wouldn't say that. But... you're certainly teaching me any number of benefits to... ah. Not hiding."

"Coming out in *this* community..." Roy shakes his head. "It doesn't get better. You know that. You've *known* that."

Tim swallows. "Yes. Yes, I did."

Roy nods. "But you hid out anyway. Because *that's* how at least part of you rolls," and Roy kneels up again. "A part of you thinks it's just fine to be alone..."

"Cold. Ah... mostly."

"The rest of you hates it."

"Yes. I -- very much. Roy... please..."

Roy closes his eyes for a moment -- and starts stroking himself slow and *rough*. "Cold is just another *way* to say 'alone,' little 'mano. You know that."

"Yes. Yes, I -- I need --"


"God, Roy, I'll do *anything* --"

"To get me to fuck you?"

"*Please*, yes -- please," Tim says, and clenches around his fingers again and *again* --

Roy opens his eyes -- narrows them. "Stop that."

"Oh, God, I don't think I *can* --"

"Oh... you can. You just don't *want* to."

"*Please* --" Tim pants and stops, pants *more* --

"Free lesson, little 'mano. If you can't laugh with your lovers -- and yes, I *am* using that word --"

"Ohn... *sorry* --"

"Shh. If you can't laugh with your *lovers*," and Roy lets go of himself and strokes the back of Tim's hand with slick-sticky fingers for a moment before tugging once --

Tim pulls out with a *gasp* --

"*If* -- and that's a very important if -- then they shouldn't be your lovers, at all," Roy says, and presses the head of his penis against Tim's hole.

Tim groans and clutches at the tiger hide --

"Just like that. Do you understand me, little 'mano?"

"Yes. Yes, I -- Spoiler -- I always. When she laughs I'm *happy* --"

Roy hums and bites his lower lip, sliding the head of his penis along Tim's cleft --

Tim shudders and tries to keep himself from arching --

Roy finds the tension in Tim's abdomen and rubs it out with his free hand --

"I want. I want to touch your hand."

"Do it."

Tim uses both hands to do it, stroking the back of Roy's hand, his fingers --

Finding the older scars, the newer ones --

There's a chip missing from Roy's fourth knuckle, but Roy doesn't wince even when Tim presses there --

And he's still sliding his penis --

His dripping *cock* --

"Roy... I really. Really want to suck your fingers."

"Soon. I promise."

Tim nods and strokes up to Roy's wrist, his forearm --

Muscle so *different* from Dick's, Bruce's --

It's Roy. Roy and no one *but* Roy, and when Tim looks up, Roy seems to have been waiting for just that moment, just that --

"I want. I want to know what this... is. For you."

Roy smiles. "A gift. Every moment. Tim... *every* touch is a gift -- so long as it's well-meant. So long as there's feeling behind it, *good* -- hell. So long as there's love. Do you understand?"

Tim's heart is beating too *fast* -- "I -- yes. But --"

"But *this*..." Roy shakes his head and nudges Tim's hole once, twice -- he licks his lips. "*This* is a gift that's just... invaluable. Nothing comes close. Not money, not freedom, not even a good spar with someone you love and respect. This -- this *need* in you, this hunger between the two of us... I don't have the words, little 'mano. But I'm never gonna forget a moment of it."

Too fast and too *much* -- "Roy... I... when -- oh, *God* --"

"Shh," Roy says, and, "here."

Fingers on the head of his penis, sliding in the pre-come --

The pinch makes him shout and *arch* --

The pinch doesn't *stop* --

"You... nnh. You're beautiful like this, Tim. Incredible. And yeah, I'm gonna fuck you so hard we *both* scream for it."

"*Please* -- I -- it feels like the only word I *know* --"

"But it isn't. It's just the most important one right now. Just..." Roy pinches harder --

Tim bucks helplessly, endlessly --

"You want me to know how much you need me --"

"*Yes* --"

"I need you just as much, little 'mano. Anyone would. Anyone who could *see* --" Roy shakes his head and *slowly* eases the pressure --

Increment by *increment* until Tim is gasping --

"I'm aching for you, little 'mano. I'm so hard I can barely *see*. You did this to me. You're *doin'* this to me."

"Oh, Roy, I want -- please -- please come inside me --"

Roy changes his *grip*, and now he's holding Tim around the base of his penis, now -- "Reach down and spread yourself. Wide."

Tim groans and does it --

"Keep breathing," Roy says, starting to stroke --

Starting to *push* --

It doesn't feel anything like fingers, it doesn't --

"So -- so *blunt*, I --"

"Uh, huh. And you're gonna feel every inch, little 'mano. You -- *nn*. You're still stretched out *inside*, but your hole was starting -- starting to *recover* --"

"*Roy* --"

"That's what I wanted. *This* is what I want --" Roy hisses between his teeth --

Tim grunts at the *unmistakable* feel of the head slipping in, breathes, *breathes* --

"Oh, little 'mano, pretty little --" Roy squeezes his eyes shut and bites his lip again -- "Not -- not gettin' you ready for *anyone* --"

"Ohn --"

"Just me. Just *me* right now --"

"Yes -- oh, *Roy* --" And Tim wants to tell Roy that he isn't thinking about anyone else right now, but he can't -- he opens his mouth and a groan comes out --

Another --

Oh, he's pushing so *deep* --

"Be. *Ready*."

"Ah -- *ahn* -- please --" And the rest of that is a scream as Roy *slams* in, *moving* Tim with the thrust, shocking him --

He can't even *feel* the pain that must be there, must be --

He thinks he's screaming more for *fear* than anything else, but --

Oh. Here it is. Here --

The *stretch* around his hole --

The way breathing makes it feel *exactly* like he has something thick in his *ass* --

And when Roy opens his eyes, his expression is dark, wild again, almost --

Almost *devoted* --

Tim shakes his head and thinks he must look anguished, or -- he can *feel* the way his expression is twisting --

Roy smiles and cups Tim's cheek with one hand, caresses Tim's cheekbone and starts to *rock* --

"Roy -- Roy -- *oh* --"

"Different, isn't it?"

"*Yes* --"

"Makes you feel..." Roy licks his teeth and smiles wider. "Makes you feel a little more helpless than you thought possible, yeah?"

Tim nods *frantically* -- no, he -- "Yes, oh, Roy, please, please -- you -- you have to *move* --"

"No. I don't have to do anything. In fact..." Roy stops rocking and pushes so deep --

It feels like Roy is somehow *lifting* him with his penis, even though that's not *possible* --

"Feel me, little 'mano."

"I *do* --"

"*Clench* --"

And Tim screams again, because -- oh, that *burns* --


"*Hnh* -- Roy, you -- oh, my God --"

"Beautiful -- beautiful *Robin*. Do it *again*," and Roy is almost *glaring*, almost --

Oh, Tim can see *him* shaking and --

And clenching again makes him *need* to bang his head against the tiger hide, makes him --

He wants to scream again, he *needs* to scream again, but a part of him is stuck on the idea that it shouldn't happen *yet*, that he should wait for Roy to --

"Beg me."

"*Please* fuck me, please do me, take -- *please*, I'll do anything, everything -- oh, God, *Roy* --"

Roy groans and it seems like it takes a longer time than it should, seems --

Time feels like some -- some ridiculous kind of *taffy*, stretched long and causing any amount of -- of *damage* --

"Now," Roy says, gripping the backs of Tim's knees and *shoving* them back against Tim's chest --

"Oh -- I -- hard to breathe -- don't *stop* --"

Roy laughs breathlessly. "Was that an *order*, little 'mano?"

"Oh -- maybe? Oh, God, I'm sorry, pinch my penis, bite me, choke me --"

"*Choke* you? Seriously?"

Tim squeezes his eyes shut and bangs his head again, again, a few times --


"You -- I'm so *full*, and I. Hold my breath. Sometimes --"

Tim can't tell if that sound was a growl or a *purr* -- but suddenly both of his legs are over Roy's left shoulder and Roy --

One hand, one big *hand* --

"Blink twice when you need. To breathe," he says, squeezing *hard* --

Tim gurgles, *bucks* --

Tries to keep from doing, from wanting --

Oh, it's so *warm* --

"*Jesus*, this won't take long. If you don't come -- nnh. I'll take care of you. I promise --"

Tim signs 'I trust you,' and keeps his eyes closed, keeps himself quiet --

No, Roy's doing that *for* him, and this --

Roy is pulling *out*, and it's so slow, so --

Tim doesn't *want* to know what sound his body is trying to make. It feels like he's *losing* parts of himself --

"Fast. Fast and hard," Roy says, loosening his grip on Tim's throat --

Tim gasps -- "*Please* --"

"All. I needed to *hear*," and Roy slams in --

Tim feels his entire *torso* hitch for the scream that can't get out, feels his eyes widen --

Oh, but he doesn't want to *blink* -- for a lot of reasons. So -- so many --

Roy slams in again --

Faster this time --

*More* -- but the strokes are getting shorter. He -- he can *feel* that, feel *everything* --

Oh, so *much* --

And Roy is *studying* him, and Tim knows that *part* of that is the fact that Roy wants to make sure that this *isn't* too much, but the rest --

Oh, so much *hunger* in Roy's eyes --

"Good boy. Good -- ah, fuck, I can't -- you'll scream for me --"

Tim nods as much as he can --


For a moment Tim can't remember *how* --

"C'mon, baby, *now* --"

Tim blinks -- does it again --

And Roy lets go, gripping Tim's hip again --

Still --

Oh, *faster*, and Tim can't even make himself moan with the thrusts, can't --

His noises are off *rhythm* --

"*Roy* --"

"Good boy, good -- *hnh*. *Take* it --"

And Tim *shouts*, shakes his head, *tries* to rock into Roy's thrusts and can't make it *work*, can't -- "Hands -- hands and knees --"

"*Not* this time --"

Tim hears himself wail and clenches helplessly, twitches --

Roy grunts and starts -- oh, harder, more --

The burn -- the friction and *heat*, like a fire inside him, like -- oh, he can feel it in his *penis* --

No, Roy's stroking him, and every touch, every *pull* --

*His* rhythm is perfect, and Tim wants to watch him dance, wants to touch, hold, *have* -- "Please *please* --"

"Such -- good fucking boy, good *fuck* --" And Roy throws his head back and pants, squeezes Tim's hip hard enough --

Squeezes Tim's *penis* --

"What you *do* to me --"

"Roy, please -- oh, please don't *stop* --"

"Not until I come, little 'mano, not --" Roy jerks his head forward and *grins* at him. "Maybe not even *then*."

Tim feels his mouth falling open, but there's no sound, no --

He can't understand why there's no *sound* when his heart is beating this fast, when his body needs so much and is *getting* it --

"*Breathe*, Tim --"

Oh. Oh, *that*, and Tim feels the laugh bubbling up, feels himself starting to *smile* --


But it turns into a juddering shout, a *thrum* through him as Roy makes him take, makes him feel --

He *has* to yell for this --

Roy wants him to, wants him to *scream* -- "Please, *harder* --"

"Mother*fuck*," and Roy *slaps* Tim's penis --

That was a scream. That was -- oh --

*Again* and Tim can't breathe again --

*Again* and Tim chokes, gasps --

And then Roy is *driving* in, shoving Tim closer to the edge of the bed with each thrust --

*Stripping* Tim's penis --

"Oh, your sweet little *cock* --" Roy growls, laughs, growls *again* -- "I'll treat it right. I'll make you -- make you *see* --"

"I *do* --"

"Shh, just *scream*," Roy says, dropping to cover Tim, shoving his arms under his shoulders --

*Rolling* them --

The changes in angle -- oh, he's screaming again, shouting and -- are there words? Is he begging? It *feels* like he is, like there's nothing he could *stop* himself from saying --

From *needing* once both of Roy's hands are back on his hips --


Yes -- *yes* -- and this is something he's practiced, too, and it's so much *easier* when it's not his own fingers, when --

Oh, Roy, Roy's so *deep*, and gravity is helping him, showing him the *way* --

"Oh, Jesus, *look* at you  --"

But he can't, and he can't *stop*, and he has to -- has to just *clutch* at himself while he does this, while he takes *himself* with Roy's penis, Roy's touch, Roy's *gift* --

"Yeah. Almost. Fuck, *almost* --" And that was practically *gritted* out --

And Tim realizes that Roy's trying *not* to come, trying --

Oh, but he has to, has to give Tim this, too, and he'll --

"*Anything* -- I --" Another scream, but that's for the feel of Roy *stopping* him, using his strength to hold Tim *still* as he --

Oh, he's bucking, arching and --

*Spasming* inside him, and the heat is *wet*, he -- he's *coming* --

Roy shouts and gasps, shouts again and bangs *his* head against the bed --

He's not letting Tim *move* -- and Tim hugs himself harder and tries to breathe, tries to -- to --

Roy's eyes snap open and he *growls* -- "Fuck. Not this time, little 'mano. Not --"

"What -- I -- please, Roy --"

"Shh, I got you. Just breathe," Roy says, and starts lifting Tim *off* --

And Tim can't keep from wailing, *shaking* --

A part of him is cataloguing physical realities, but he wants more, *needs* more --

"Down on your *back*."

An order. He can. He can definitely -- he gets down and tries to keep breathing --

And that sound was almost a *howl*, but those are Roy's *fingers* inside him, thrusting hard and fast and *slick* --

Tim is slick with Roy's *come* --

Roy moans *happily*. "Looks like I got you *nice* and dirty, pretty boy..."

"*Roy* --"

"Yeah. Like *this*. You're *gonna* come --"

"Yes -- *yes* --"

"Just from this?"

"I --" Tim shakes his head and arches --

"*Talk* --"

"Don't -- don't know. *Different* --"

"Hell, yeah, it is. But I need a little more from you than this, so..."

*This* scream cracks in the middle, but Roy just *swallowed* him, Roy --

Oh, the suck --

The *fuck* --

Tim clutches at the tiger hide with one hand and *beats* at it with the other --

Tim pumps his hips and howls again, screams again --

Everything is in *flashes* and he can't --

The pain in his ass --

The sweet *clutch* of Roy's throat --

The heat, all over, all *over* --

Roy *hums* --

And suddenly his body just *is* arching, just -- he can't rock *back* this way --

Another hum --

Tim screams and *stays* arched, bucking *sharply* and wanting it to be wilder, *more* --

And the orgasm turns his scream into another wail, a keen, something --

So much *heat* --

He can't see can't *think* --

*Black* --

And there's something -- he.

*Black* --

Roy's pulling out, Roy is kissing his *penis* --

Tim gasps and screams again even though it's over, even though he can't -- *something* --

"That's right, little 'mano. Just let it out."

Tim shakes his head and just --

He's shaking and curling in on himself, balling his hands into fists --

"Oh, not that, little 'mano, I -- here," Roy says, lifting and *moving* Tim with a quiet grunt until Tim's head is on the fuzzy blue pillow.

Like this, Tim can admit that the thing does, in fact, have a certain amount of comfort. It's very. Very *cool* on his hot cheek, and that's --


Tim lies still for the feel of Roy massaging him, stretching out his limbs --

Kissing him everywhere.

Tim is aware that Roy is speaking, but he can't really translate more than a few of the sounds at a time. Just --

"-- got me so crazy --"

And --

"-- how beautiful you look --"

And --

"-- want you --"

And --

"-- *real* bed," and Roy rolls Tim over onto his side and presses up close behind him.

Tim closes his eyes. "Roy..."

"I'm here, Tim. It's all okay. Everything you're feeling is okay."

"I -- but --"

Roy kisses Tim's shoulder. "Trust me. I've been *exactly* where you are, and... heh. This is *standard*."

Tim snorts helplessly. "I -- all right. Roy, if sex were *always* like this? There wouldn't be any *crime*."

Roy snickers and wraps an arm around Tim's waist. "Okay, so it's standard for really *good* sex. C'mon, tell me how you're doing."

"I -- I lost consciousness. Briefly. Multiple times."

"Ooh. Love that."

"I -- definitely left my body -- Roy -- I. Want to ask questions again."

Roy rumbles a little and presses *hard* against him. "You sure you're ready to be free?"

Tim blinks and there's -- there's almost something like a *cold* feeling, but. There's also a need to *stretch*, like he's been clenched inside a small part of himself --

A *wonderful* part of himself --

Tim smiles and pushes back against Roy. "I'm sure."

Roy *bites* Tim's shoulder. "Collar off. What do you want to ask me?"

"I --" Tim laughs. "About three hundred and forty-seven different things at once, actually, but... um. Have you had many lovers who... dominated you? I mean, obviously you don't have to tell me --"

"I want to. And... just two. Donna -- who nearly convinced me to start worshipping her gods -- and Clark. Who is sometimes Kal, and who really... man. I don't know *who* I'd be without what he did to me. For me."

Tim blinks. "Oh, that's -- ah. Clark? Really?"

Roy smiles against the skin of Tim's shoulder. "Hard to see, isn't it? Like I said, he doesn't do things that way *all* the time, but... well. He didn't *introduce* me to this kind of sex, but he taught me how to do it *right*. And then Donna finished the lessons."

"I -- want to write them thank you letters, actually."

Roy laughs softly. "I'm *sure* Clark can come up with a few ways you can thank him. Donna... well. Donna would've been happy just to see me this happy, I think."

Tim closes his eyes and covers the arm around his waist with his own. "Roy... that was incredible. I don't think... I don't think I can really..." He shakes his head.

"It's okay if you don't have the words for it. I can *feel* you, little 'mano. You're... heh. *Relaxed*."

"Is *that* what this feeling is? It's..." Tim frowns and thinks about it. His body definitely isn't at all tense, and he feels something *similar* to... "Oh, this is... I feel like I've just had a particularly *good* meditation session."

"It can be like that, yeah."

"I... don't feel like this after I masturbate. Which, all right, that should be obvious, but --"

"You *were* a virgin, and I -- heh. No, I don't regret a second of this. You?"

And there's something *under* the casual ease of Roy's tone. "I -- no. This was wonderful, but... Roy, are *you* all right?"

Another soft laugh, a *gentle* bite... "This was not what I was expecting out of tonight. Not when you started catching my arrows, not when you were giving me those narrow looks when we were on patrol, not when we started kissing, and *not* when you made me come my brains out the *first* time."

"I... hn. Somehow I can understand that particular feeling --"

"Can you, Tim?"

Another *serious* question... Tim pulls away enough that he can turn to face Roy, whose hair clashes horribly with the *fuchsia* fuzzy pillow. There's a depth to his expression --

His eyes --

"You. You really have beautiful eyes."

Roy's expression *quirks*.

"All right, no, that wasn't what I was going to say. That -- I want this again, Roy. And I. Want you."

Roy raises an eyebrow and nods. "Absolute ditto, little 'mano," he says, and again there's *something* --


Roy smiles and shakes his head. "Don't mind me, Tim. The fuck-dumbness takes a while to *fade* in the elderly."

Tim frowns --

And Roy brushes it away. "It's okay --"

"I don't. That feels like a lie."

Roy winces. "And right now that's the worst possible thing -- fuck, I'm sorry, little 'mano --"

"It's okay. I mean, you don't have to --"

"No. You *don't* do this with people you have to lie to, Tim. You just --" Roy shakes his head. "Just -- trust me when I say that it's one of the *worst* possible things you can do to yourself in the long run. No matter *what* kind of sex it is."

Tim smiles ruefully. "That much... that much I'd picked up." And was Dick still only 'Robbie' when you started making love -- no. Roy looks much too -- "Did I. Did I say something wrong? I don't -- I'd really like to know."

"You didn't say a *damned* thing -- you didn't *do* --" Roy squeezes his eyes shut and takes a deep breath. "It's like this, little 'mano: there's a part of me wondering where you were all those times when I very clearly needed *you* -- and not just someone a little *like* you."

Tim feels himself *staring*, but -- "I --"

"You weren't expecting that. I know. And it's nothing you have to deal with. This is -- heh. Way too soon. Let's just say that this kind of thing is intense on *both* sides of the equation and leave it at that, okay?"

'Okay' sounds like it should've been '*please*.' Tim nods and strokes Roy's arm. "I. I want this."

Roy smiles lazily and presses two fingers to Tim's mouth. "You can have it, little 'mano. Now why don't you get your suck on?"

Oh... yes.


Saturdays tend to be Tim's favorite day of the week for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that it's the only day he can *really* train as much as he wants to -- but not even remotely ending there.

So, after a morning spent working himself just a little *close* to the bone in the -- blessedly empty -- Cave, he gives himself permission to put the bike through its daytime-traffic paces until he can get to the satellite garage which, coincidentally, is an excellent starting place for a five mile run which will take him to the satellite Cave closest to Steph's house.

He showers there, dresses -- he tends to keep many of his better civilian outfits there -- and takes a leisurely walk in the suburbs.

Dogs bark at him, children who have never been chased down by Robin for acting as runners or mules stare at him --

The sun shines that much brighter --

Tim smiles to himself -- and he's been doing a fair amount of that just lately -- and keeps walking. Along with everything else, he keeps sunblock in that particular satellite Cave. Steph lives *just* far enough out that the air is distressingly clearer.

Perhaps her mother thought this would be a good place to raise a child when they'd moved out here when Steph was four. Steph has never mentioned much about that particular era of her childhood -- it was when her father had first given up on leading a law-abiding existence.

It was when her mother *only* used marijuana regularly.

It was when Steph pretended to be Superman --

All right, he's really going to have to keep a *leash* on those --

Thoughts. Right.

Tim smiles a little wider and steps onto the street to avoid disturbing the rousing game of hopscotch currently meandering along this patch of sidewalk. One of the children playing could've been Dick's South Asian twin sister. Tim smiles at her.

She sticks her tongue out at him and giggles at him hard enough that she trips out of the pink-chalked rectangle.

The other child points and laughs.

Yes -- a good day.

A good day after *three* other good days --

And that fantastic *night* --

Thoughts, leashing them -- yes. Tim turns onto Steph's street, noting the slightly shabbier yards, the older cars...

Tim has known for years that other cities -- and their surrounding areas -- don't have such sharp and sudden demarcations, but he honestly doesn't know how he would live in them. He'd always be at least a little suspicious of the socioeconomic sameness if it lasted for more than a block or three.

He walks up to Steph's door, rings the bell --

Heavy footsteps. Mrs. Brown is home. Hm. Tim checks his internal clock and discovers that he is, in fact, early for his date. Steph tends to hate that, so he silently wills Mrs. Brown to walk *slower* --

It doesn't actually work.

She opens the door and smiles broadly. "Tim! Steph said you probably wouldn't be here until after I left for my shift."

Tim smiles ruefully. "I think I might've been rushing my routine a little, Mrs. Brown."

She gives him a 'you bad boy' look that manages to sparkle, and --

"You look wonderful today, Mrs. Brown. Is that a new hairstyle?"

She pets her dark blonde bun and snorts. "It's called 'last shift a patient tossed his cookies on my hair and I'd like for that not to happen again.' Do you like it?"

Tim inclines his head. "It suits you *very* well. It makes you look quite severe."

"*Severe* -- oh, come on in. I know Steph's still getting ready and I'm *pretty* sure she'd like for me to delay you."

"I assure you, Mrs. Brown, I am eminently available to *be* delayed."

The look she gives him as he walks in is both narrow and sly. It's both the look of a parent who -- believes she -- knows exactly what a given teenager is up to, and the look which, on Steph, tends to make Tim think of kisses which taste like Zesti-Ade and turkey sandwiches.

Tim decides that looking rueful is the better part of valor and allows Mrs. Brown to lead them into the small, neat kitchen. The thin white curtains are pulled back far enough to let as much sunlight in through the arrow-slit of the window as possible, and there's a faint scent of... lemon-infused detergent, he thinks.

Tim sits at the table and lets Mrs. Brown bring him a glass of water. She sits opposite him and continues to give him that narrow look, which...

"Mrs. Brown?"

She hums and taps on her own glass. With her eyes narrowed, the wrinkles at the corners of her eyes bite deep -- and her frown lines disappear entirely. She really --

"I'm sorry, but you really do look wonderful --"

"And so do *you*, Mr. Drake. Now. What have you been doing with my daughter when I haven't been around?"

"Ah... mostly we just talk. I'm not really -- er." Well, the blush is timely --

She laughs and shakes her head. "Steph has told me time and again that you're not 'like that,' and that I should trust *you* even if I can't trust her..." The frown lines are back. "I do trust her," she says, and looks away. "She raised herself, really. And... you know that," and she turns back to face him.

Tim nods slowly. "It's... it was one of the things which first... attracted me. She's one of the strongest people I know."

Mrs. Brown raises her eyebrows. "Then you must know some powerful people, Tim, because Steph is *the* strongest person I know."

Well... oops. Tim smiles ruefully. "One of my closest friends -- my unofficial brother, really -- survived being raised by Bruce Wayne and is now a police officer in Blüdhaven. It -- I admire him very much. Ah... all right, it's more like hero worship."

She smiles at him and shakes her head again. "All right. Here's the deal, kid -- you don't go near my little girl with what you've got between your legs without at *least* a condom --"

"Mrs. Brown --"

"She's *on* the pill now, and that's fine and dandy, but..." She reaches into the pocket of her scrubs and pulls out... a box of condoms.

"I. Um. Um?"

"This is always going to be here, Tim. I *will* be watching the level, but not to get on your case about it... as opposed to making sure there are always *enough*."

Tim -- yes, that's a strangled noise. "I assure you --"

"Save it," she says, and pushes the box of condoms toward Tim. "You *will* keep those in that drawer right there," and she points. "And you *will* use them."

"But -- we're not -- we *don't* --"

"Maybe not yet... but *maybe* one of us has a daughter who stares grimly at makeup displays whenever we go out shopping --"

"She doesn't *wear* makeup -- um."

Mrs. Brown nods. "And maybe that daughter has a boyfriend... who can't help arriving for their dates early... and with a spring in his jaunty little step."

"I -- jaunty?"

Her smile is bright and fond. "Keep up the good work. And make sure she always knows exactly how you feel about her."

"I can do that. I *will* do that --"

She sighs. "I still can't believe you carted that massive pot of chicken soup over here. *Homemade*, yet..." She pats his hand. "I'm off to work. Tell Steph that I expect her to actually *eat* the vegetables I've set aside for her... as opposed to just feeding them to her *eminently* agreeable boyfriend."

"Ah... yes. Ma'am."

She pats his hand. "Have a *good* date."

Tim watches her leave through the back door, listens to her lock it, listens to her drive *away* --

And stares at the box of condoms until his eyes start trying to cross.

He puts the box in the drawer --

It's a little too big with all the pens, rubber bands, pennies, paper clips, and other detritus --

It's possible that he's trying to *shove* the box in --

No, calm. He can be calm.

Tim takes everything out of the drawer, puts the box of condoms in the *back*, organizes the rest of the things, puts *them* in --

"You know, boyfriend, if you keep that up my Mom is gonna try to *adopt* you --"

"*Gah* -- I mean. Hello. Steph," Tim says, closing the drawer, and backing up against it.

Steph snorts and cocks her head to the side. "She gave you the condoms, didn't she."

"Oh dear God yes she did."

Steph walks up and pats his head. The pleasure she takes in being nearly two inches taller than him is -- nearly -- enough to make Tim satisfied with his own height. "It's okay. You can breathe now. The scary birth control devices are all gone."

Tim closes his eyes and breathes.

Steph laughs at him.

Tim opens his eyes and *glares* --

"Oh, c'mon, boyfriend, *you* can't see your face right now, but *I* can."

"Hm. And how would you feel if Dana tried to take you to get fitted for an IUD?"

Steph's mouth... puckers. "Uh. Okay, yeah, that's fucked," she says, and shakes her head like a dog before smiling at him more gently. She's wearing jeans that emphasize the curve of her hips but fall moderately loosely down to her ankles, and something like a form-fitting blouse which *hints* at cleavage. The latter looks to be fine cotton, perfect for the weather and a blue that matches her eyes perfectly.

Her hair is damp but still well-styled... "You're beautiful."

"Mm-hmm. Where's my cuddle?"

"Oh... right here," Tim says, and doesn't move.

Steph frowns, blinks -- "You're trying to hold the drawer closed with your body."

"Ah... maybe?"

"Tim. The box of condoms isn't *sentient*."

"You say that now --"


Tim smiles and pushes forward. "I do love it when you use the command voice, you know."

Steph crosses her arms over her chest -- not incidentally changing the hint of cleavage to something more like a promise -- and glares at *him*.

"I love you."

"*Cuddle* --"

"Yes, ma'am," Tim says, pressing close slowly enough that Steph can move her arms to around his neck before getting a nice, firm grip on her waist. "How are you?"

"*Not* vibrating like a life-sized 'personal massager,' so, you know, *good*," she says, and kisses him softly.

Tim hums and kisses her back, shifting just enough that a damp lock of hair brushes and teases his cheek --

Steph hums back and starts stroking Tim's shoulders and upper arms with a lightly possessive touch.

The kiss lasts for the better part of two minutes, and by the end of it they're swaying together, laughing a little --

Tim squeezes Steph hard and pulls back --


"I've missed you."

Steph's smile is crooked and bright. "I missed you, too, you freak. Note how between our last date and this one I *called* you. On the *phone*."

Tim winces. "I -- Steph, sometimes I honestly forget that phones *exist* as more than just potential bludgeoning tools."

"Of course you do. But -- that's why you have me."

"For only that reason?"

Steph tilts her head back and makes a show of thinking about it, jaw out-thrust and lips pursed.

"I'll wait."

Steph's nose wrinkles with an amusement she can't quite bank --

Tim smiles helplessly --

"You..." Steph meets his eyes again, and the sparkle is soft, light, wonderful --

"Oh, Steph..."

She raises her eyebrows and grins at him. "You need me for all *kinds* of reasons."

"I think you might be right."

"Upstairs? We've got a *lot* to catch up on."

"Ah... so we do --"

"Oh, *yeah*? Did Nightwing finally grope you someplace interesting --"

"Ah -- he often *does* --"

"Yeah, but did he *leave* his hand there?"

Tim smiles ruefully and shakes his head, gesturing toward the hall --

"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming. But did *you*?"

Tim snorts. "It -- well, I was *planning* to go see Nightwing a few days ago. Just for a casual visit -- all right, no, it was actually to try and find someone *else* to whine to about Batman's birthday present --"

"Aww, honey, you *know* you can always whine to me. I *like* it."

Tim turns on the stairs to frown at her. "Nobody *likes* whining, Steph."

"See, that's where you're wrong," she says, reaching to shove Tim's *ass* --

"Steph --"

"*Move*, boyfriend."

"Well, all right, but -- whining? Really?"

"*Really*. Because, see, you *never* whine. About *anything*. I bet you apologized for needing a break when you had the damned *Clench* --"

"Ah -- all right, I tried to --"

"Because sometimes you're a *dumbass*, but I still love you," and Steph pushes past him in the narrow upstairs hall, takes Tim's hand, and pretends to heave and struggle as she pulls him into her bedroom.

Here, the scent is young woman and sleep that isn't happening yet. The walls are still covered with the yellowing posters of various superheroes -- including a *decidedly* unauthorized picture of Jason as Robin that had been snapped after a nasty hostage situation with far too many reporters present --

It had been in *all* the Gotham papers for a while --

Jason looks like he's about three seconds from maiming the person taking the picture and, according to Dick, Bruce had *had* to pull him back --

"That's the one that *always* catches your eye," Steph says, and her voice is fond and low. "You know, if someone had *told* me that Robin himself was the biggest Robin fanboy in the *universe*..."

Tim smiles ruefully. "Sorry. You know I never --"

"Met him, yeah." Steph kicks off her clogs and settles on the bed tailor-style as she stares at the poster which had made the reporter in question a very, very large amount of money.

Money which had attracted an unusual number of IRS audits... because Bruce was, at least once, perfectly willing to indulge his partners in *all* of their pursuits -- no matter how petty.

"I... he really is *damned* hot. That hair looks so *thick*."

Tim gives into the urge to look again. "I had... a lot of pictures of him. His hair would get just... incredibly wild over the course of a night. He would shove a hand back through it even if his gauntlet was covered in blood."

"Uh... ew?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "Let's just say I owe Robin II for a lot of my more problematic kinks," and Tim sits down on Steph's bed and takes off his own trainers.

Yesterday, sitting down anywhere had *still* been very interesting. Today, it's just... memorable.

"Anyway, about Nightwing --"

"Who totally touches you in your Robin places way more than I do, because apparently he's a total *perv*."

"I wish," Tim says, leaning back toward the pillows and raising an eyebrow...

"Ooh, *more* cuddle. Yes, please," Steph says, and *bounces* on the bed until it's just easier for Tim to move into a controlled fall --

And into a position which is highly conducive to having Steph pressed to his body from chest to ankles. "I love you."

"Mm-hm, I know -- hey. You *did* do something! With someone!"

Tim smiles ruefully. "I did. And I... *do* you want the story?"

"What are you *thinking*? Of course I do!" Steph jabs him -- lightly -- in the abdomen. "This is *news*, boyfriend!"

"It's just... well. I mean. I wouldn't want you to be --"


Tim blushes and offers another rueful smile. "I hate -- sometimes -- no. *Most* of the time I don't think I love you enough, Steph."

Steph's expression for that is *so* soft --

"You're so beautiful --"

"And *you're*... really, really gay. We talked about that."

"I know. But --"

"But *nothing*. I -- look, Tim, we both know... we both know that we wouldn't work so well if we didn't need us to be *exactly* who we are. Don't we?"

Tim cups Steph's face and frowns --

Steph turns and kisses his palm. "Right now... right now you're wondering what I get out of all of this. Right?"

"That's... the gist. Yes."

Steph sighs and offers her own ruefulness. "I'd be lying if I said I didn't ask myself the same question sometimes."

Tim winces. "Then --"

"*Then* -- I think about touching you, and holding you, and kissing you, and spending half the night *giggling* with you..." Steph shakes her head. "You're the best boyfriend I've ever had. Deal with it."

"But --"

"But *nothing*, *Tim*. Just -- *think* about the fact that the only reason you're hesitating to share your deep, dark secrets with me is that you're afraid you'd *hurt* me. You're -- ridiculous. And gay. And awesome."

"I -- love you."

"And I love you more than pretty much everything else in the world, boyfriend," Steph says, and pushes her knee between Tim's own. "Maybe one day I'll find someone worth my time who actually *wants* to have something to do with my girl parts... but I'm pretty sure I'm still gonna *need* *you* --"

"Oh. Steph --"

"Just like..." Steph smiles, turning to nip Tim's thumb. "Just like you still need me. " There's a *shadow* behind her eyes... but it's a small one.

"I do, Steph. I -- always will. I was actually... ah. We talked about you."

"We *who*?"

"Ah. Arsenal."

Steph blinks. "The *Arrow* Arsenal? As in used-to-be-*Speedy* Arsenal?"

"Yes --"

"Wait, *wait*," Steph says, turning and bending over the side of the bed, rummaging through the boxes of -- quite well if idiosyncratically -- organized superhero fan magazines until she comes up with two. She sits up and flips through the first --

And finds a picture of Arsenal in the very awful trenchcoat-having... purple... thing. "He really does dress better than that now."

"I *know* that. Damn, I should've renewed my subscription..." Steph shakes her head. "This isn't a good enough view of his face -- and the other one just has Speedy."

"I could... ah... use your computer..."

"To hack into some database the Secret Service would *kill* for? Go *to*, boyfriend."

Tim rolls out of bed and heads to Steph's desk. It had been a simple enough matter to pay the cable company to give her and her mother broadband access -- and to fake a letter purporting to be a congratulatory letter from the company for a sweepstakes Steph had never actually entered -- well.

Steph knows what he had done, but --

("There is so much porn in this world, boyfriend. I'm not gonna check out *all* of it, but I'm damned well gonna *peruse*. And, well, school stuff, too.")

The first thing Tim does is check the integrity of the specially-tailored firewalls he had installed for her -- it was far easier to give her truly powerful ones than it would've been were she anything resembling a gamer -- as what he's doing isn't hacking so much as utilizing his Oracle-granted access --

Everything is fine -- but he checks *again*, just to be sure --

Yes, everything is fine.

After that, it's only a matter of easing in through the 'browser' Steph has never actually showed any interest in learning how to use --

Rollergirl57: Oh, really? And what if I say I won't let you play?

Oh. Well.

AD14159: Would abasing myself help?

Rollergirl57: Probably not as much as it helped Arsenal...

Tim swallows back the choked noise --

Rollergirl57: Probably.

AD14159: Ah?

Rollergirl57: You get in on one condition. Ready?

AD14159: And willing, and, one hopes, able.

Tim smiles helplessly -- and listens to Steph continue to flip through her magazines while grumbling quietly --

Rollergirl57: You have a 'free period' tomorrow. Use it to come see me.

AD14159: I -- you never have to ask. I mean, of course I will.

For a moment there's nothing --

And then, scrolling down the screen is the Arsenal 'page.' With the kind of careful redactions which mean that Oracle had had this *ready* for him -- to share with Steph.

Tim smiles ruefully.

AD14159: Thank you kindly.

Rollergirl57: Two o'clock. -Don't- be late.

There are neither sounds nor flashes for Oracle cutting their deeper connection, but Tim thinks he can feel it, anyway. Just -- something like the loss of a *weight*.

He tends to feel the same sort of thing when Bruce turns away from him both physically and in terms of his focus. Tim scrolls up to the most current picture --

And has to stop, for a moment, just to *deal* with the fact that he'd had sex with that man.

*That* one.

The one with the narrowed green eyes, the broad shoulders, the powerful biceps --

The picture is one of Roy drawing his bow and preparing to let fly. In the distance, Tim can just make out a series of archery butts. That -- and the quality of light -- tells Tim that the picture was actually taken at the Tower, presumably some time before Starfire and Cyborg had started gathering Tim and the fragments of Young Justice.

Tim -- doesn't reach out to touch. "Steph?"

"Ooh, you got him?"

"Just -- a few images," Tim says, turning around and smiling at her. "He looks much better here."

Steph comes over and casually shoves Tim over so that they can share the chair. It isn't a tight fit so much as it's not a fit, at *all* --

But comfort comes in many forms. And --

"Ooh, okay, I can see the appeal. This says he's six foot even. Is he, or is that just a lie to make himself feel better?"

"No, he's definitely that tall. Though sometimes he wears heeled boots for reasons I can't even begin to guess at."

Steph blinks. "You like that?"

"I --" Tim blushes again. "I think it would be fair to say that I think he can make any number of sartorial choices appealing solely by being himself. For all that there are years of evidence to the contrary."

Steph grins at him. "My boyfriend has a boyyyfriend, neener neener neeeeener..."

"I wouldn't say -- I mean. We did talk about you."

"*While* you were cheating on me?"

Tim feels the blood *drain* from his face --

"Jesus, Tim, *kidding*," she says, shoving him hard enough that he has to brace himself to keep from falling.

"Steph --"

"Talk more. How did you even -- I mean, have you even *worked* with him before?"

"Once before the other night. It was... well, actually it was a disaster. I told you about Young Justice's last mission."

Steph winces. "I -- yeah. With the Titans. Damn. But... you got to know him a little then?"

Tim waves a hand and scrolls down to a picture of the last Titans lineup before Tim's own. He has an arm around Dick's shoulders and he's smiling like... a little like he'd smiled at Tim before leaving to head back to New York. "Very little. As it happened, we were both in the 'haven looking to spend time with Nightwing."

"An *accidental* hookup, then." Steph frowns. "That's really not like you."

Tim smiles ruefully. "I know. I... well, Arsenal is very *blunt*, and... all right, from the beginning. I broke into Nightwing's place. It was dark enough that Arsenal couldn't see who I was, but more than light enough for him to send a few well-aimed arrows my way --"

Steph snorts. "You *guys* -- okay. What happened *after* you measured each other's dicks?"

"We decided to go looking for Nightwing and wound up patrolling together for a couple of hours. It was -- a crazy night, but we still managed to have a fairly substantive conversation. I was... well, to be honest, I'd always... wondered. About him."

"Even though you didn't *know* him? You whore."

"To be fair, Steph, Nightwing always *talked* about him. Just -- always. And not all the stories were sexual ones, but any number of the ones which weren't happened at times just before or just *after* a sexual encounter."

Steph's mouth drops open -- "Uh. Seriously? Nightwing talks to you about *that*?"

"Ah... often. Very, very often."

"Is that -- *is* that a guy thing?"

"Not the way Nightwing does it, I don't think. Or... hm. I suppose it might be? That sort of thing just didn't come *up* when I was hanging out with Hudson and Ives on a regular basis."

"Psh. Ives is as gay as *you* are, and Hudson is saving himself for Princess Leia."

Tim laughs helplessly. "I think he may have moved on to Xena."

"He's still lagging behind the *rest* of the geek world."

"I think he thinks of it as being 'faithful.'"

Steph snickers. If anything, the light in her eyes is even brighter than it was before. "So *when* did you talk about me?"

"When -- ah. At first, just before he kissed me the first time. It really was... I don't know if I can describe it --"

"The kiss?"

"The... the *moment*," Tim says, and frowns a little. "It was like... well, he was *there*, and I had all of these stories about him, stories so vivid that they might as well have been my own memories. And... I'd had fantasies about him, too. Not many --"

"Okay, pause," Steph says, and makes the time-out sign. "How many heroes *are* you banging in the privacy of your own mind?"

"I -- I really don't --"

"Think of it that way. I know. Give anyway."

Well... well. "Ah... Superboy and Superman -- er. Not at the same time. And Nightwing. Sometimes... sometimes Batman --"

"You *freak*! You don't even *like* him! And he's your *boss*!"

Tim shrugs. "I also shower with him." And sometimes --

"Uh --" Steph blinks -- and shakes her head like a dog. "And he's really just *that* -- big. Uh. Who else?"

Sometimes -- "Sometimes I do like him, Steph. This -- this is the problem with whining. It can give the whinee too many of the wrong ideas --"

"*And* the right ones, boyfriend. Listen, trust the girl who actually *did* have sex with someone she didn't like all the time -- *bad* idea."

Well... there's that. Tim nods. "Arsenal pointed out that I shouldn't ever have sex with people I couldn't laugh with."

Steph nods. "And that's the *least* of it. You have to *trust* the other person, and you really should at least think you *could* be in love with him, otherwise it's just... grunting and mess."

Tim thinks about it --

"C'mon, sign out of the O-Files and come back to bed."

Tim turns to do it, and wonders...

Roy had certainly seemed to feel... less than casual. He'd said it was a factor of the intensity -- and he'd probably meant 'intensity' to *include* 'intimacy' --

And Tim has wanted Roy close again since he'd ridden *away*.

In truth --

In truth, a part of him had started missing Roy before they'd even finished getting dressed in their alcoholically-fragrant uniforms. Hm.

Tim goes back to the bed and cuddles close --

"You've got that hard-thinkin' line on your forehead, boyfriend. Spill it."

"I was just... after you'd made love with your ex --"

"First off? It *wasn't* making love, Tim."

"I -- all right. But *after*. Did you feel closer to him?"

Steph twines her fingers with Tim's own. "Yes and no. Yes, because he actually *did* get me off, and there's nothing like that. No matter *how* good it is when I play with the kitty, there's *nothing* like getting it from someone else. And... heh. You know that now, yeah?"

Tim smiles and squeezes her hand. "I do, I think."

"Mm, so we know that Arsenal is at least *competent* in bed. Okay, then. Anyway -- I also *didn't* feel any closer to him, because even *my* idiotic hormone-soaked brain could tell that all I'd really done for *him* was scratch an itch. It wasn't like that with Arsenal, was it?"

"I -- no. Not at all. He was very... um. Gentle. Careful." Loving. "Very -- ah. It was good. All the way through."

Steph narrows her eyes and smiles *sharply*. "You totally have a boyfriend. Have you called him, yet?"

"No --"

"Wait, you *can* call him, right?"

"He... ah. He actually told me *to* call him. And said... that he wouldn't call me because he didn't want to push."

Steph frowns thoughtfully and wags her head from side to side. "Okay, I can see where he's coming from. Still, if he'd known you at *all* he'd know that getting you to pick up a damned phone is like trying to curl your hair with a damned ice cube... okay, that's a sucky metaphor --"

"Simile --"

"*Eat* me. Anyway. How long has it been? Two days? Three?"

"Ah... three."

"When *are* you gonna call him?"

That feeling... "When I think about it... it feels like the first few times I jumped off roofs without wearing the safety line."

Steph sighs. "Oh, honey. But you *do* wanna see him again, yeah?"

"Very -- much. Ah." Tim squeezes Steph's hand. "You -- really think I should call him."

"*Yes*, you dumbass. Look, it's -- he totally knew you were a virgin, yeah?"

"He figured it out before we even did more than kiss --"

"*That's* insulting. I taught you how to kiss *good*."

"I certainly think so -- and I think it was the fact that I couldn't give him anything resembling a decent answer about what I did and didn't want to do with him that gave away the store, as it were."

Steph sighs. "Yeah, that would do it. Anyway, maybe he *is* used to deflowering pretty boys in colorful clothes --"

"He -- ah. He implied that I was his first virgin."

"Ooh, yeah, that -- yeah, he's not even gonna *think* about calling you without feeling guilty until *you* call him. I mean, when I figured out that you were a virgin? *I* had guilt just for slipping you some *tongue*."

"I -- really?"

"*Yes*. I felt like I'd been humping a damned *temple*. The *altar* part of a temple."

Tim knows his smile is a little crooked. "Like I told *him*, my virginity was not a mystical state conferred upon me by some perverse sky-god."

"Yeah, well, I guess Oracle would've heard if he'd been hit by lightning or attacked by a bunch of sentient dildos since your big night, so you're probably right. Seriously, though, boyfriend -- I'm betting he's dying to hear from you."

"I -- sometimes. Sometimes using the phone feels like an intrusion."

Steph gives him a very... well, it's a Look.

"I mean -- with the comms, at least, you know that the person in question is *choosing* to be on the grid --"


"Steph --"

"Call him."

"But --"

"*Right* now," she says, reaching back -- her flexibility is still admirable -- to nab the cordless off the night table. "I know you memorized his numbers, so -- do it."

"I... suppose you'll do something horrible to me if I don't."

"Uh, *huh*. And it might just involve those condoms Mom bought."

It's possible that he's making a somewhat -- all right, he knows perfectly well that he looks terrified.

He can see it in the *nastiness* of Steph's smile.

Tim dials Outsiders HQ, listens for the click that means he's being shunted to a secure line while having *this* line's security tested --

Oracle has a long *reach* --

And the phone is ringing.

Steph hugs him hard and kisses his cheek --


Child's voice -- *Lian* -- "Ah. Hello. Is your father home?"

Steph rears back and *stares* at him -- Tim gives her the sign for 'later.'

Lian giggles. "I know how to talk on the foam!"

Oh... my. Lian is... three. "Yes, you do, and that's wonderful --"

"Daddy says I'm not supposed to."

Steph eyes are very, very -- wide.

"You... ah. It's important to listen to your father --"

"'kay!" And Lian hangs up the phone. Just --


"You did *not* say he had a *kid*!"

Tim stares at the phone in his hand and shakes it off. "He -- yes. She's three and a half --"

"He's running around fighting crime with a *toddler* at home? Is he *nuts*?"

Tim bites back a wince. "I -- he had no choice about having the child, but I think... well. He loves his daughter, and he needs this life. I believe he's already had several different versions of this conversation with people who have more of a right to bring it up with him than I do."

"Or me. Right -- right." Steph shakes herself all over. "Tim... getting involved with someone who has a child..."

"It's a lot of responsibility. That's... something else I've been thinking around more than thinking *about*." But I still would've stayed with you if you'd kept *your* daughter, Steph --

But that's not a sentence he has any right to utter. Steph --

He bites it back. "I... want to give this a try."

Steph still looks worried, but -- she nods. "Call him again."

"You -- now? Maybe -- maybe I should wait for his daughter's naptime."

Steph snorts. "Do you even know when that *is*? Wait, what did you used to do with *your* naptime?"

Tim laughs. "I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would feel like if -- the first Robin was tucking me in."

"Heh. I guess you were thinking about more than just *tucking* when *he* came along?" And she points at the poster of Jason.

"Well... considering the amount of time I spent watching him make out with girls from his school..."

Steph chokes. "Oh, no. *Please* don't --"

Tim shows his teeth *just* a little. "Let's just say that you might have wound up with a more fabulous boyfriend if I'd ever gotten a *hint* that he liked boys that way."

"God, I *hate* you. And -- okay, I gotta own this. Uh."


"If you ever show up here dressed like a chick? I am *gonna* want to reach up your skirt at least once."

"You. Seriously?"

Steph blushes and looks down -- and mumbles something.


"I blame *Cass*, okay? I blame Cass."

"But -- she doesn't even *dress* in a feminine --"

"Shut up and dial."

Tim does just that.

The click --

The first ring --

"Wait, you totally didn't give me the full list of your fantasy boyfriends, did you?"

"I -- no."

"No? No, what, little 'mano?"

Oh -- that nickname. He really -- "I -- ah. Like the nickname. And I was... speaking with my girlfriend."

Roy snorts. "You -- are calling me with your girlfriend right *there*? She's that cool?"

Steph presses her ear to the back of the receiver.

"The coolest, as a matter of fact. Ah -- sorry it took me so long to call," Tim says, wrapping his arm around Steph's shoulders and pulling them both into a sitting position. "I -- how are you?"

"First and foremost -- you don't have to apologize for taking so long. I... well, I figured you'd need a little time."

Tim smiles ruefully. "I know you said that... intense emotions were de rigueur for this sort of thing, but it's still rather... humbling."

"Which part?"

"Oh... all of the above. The... ah... former Spoiler had to strong-arm me to a certain extent."

Roy snorts. "Okay, just to be clear: your girlfriend, who you're with right now, told you to call me -- and somehow this is *not* about you telling me that it's over before it's even half begun?"

"I -- that about sums it up, yes. Is... ah. How are *both* you and Lian?"

"Lian's good. She's playing with rifle bullets at the moment. Now that I've convinced her not to chew on them, it's pretty much entirely adorable."

Steph coughs --

And Tim has to admit he wants to. Just --

"You know, little 'mano... I'm pretty sure I can *feel* the expression on your face right now. Kids *need* toys. And arrows would just be dangerous. Reckless, even." The smile in Roy's voice --

"Hm. I believe I can tell what expression is on *your* face right now, as well."

"Heh. As for how *I'm* doing? Well, right about now I'm flying a little high on the fact that you finally called."

"Oh. I -- I really am sorry --"

"Stop that. Seriously. I don't regret a damned thing, but I *knew* this would be tough on you. I... Tim. Tell me when I can see you again?"

Steph jabs him --

"What... what's your schedule like?"

Roy sighs. "Well, I don't have a babysitter for tonight, so I'll be staying in. I'd love to have you come on up here -- Lian always passes out cold when Kleinfeld comes on, which is a pretty good sign for her future sense of humor -- but I'm willing to bet that you have Things to do."

"Yes... yes, there are... Things," Tim says, and -- "This is another perfectly rational reason to hate the phone, security or no security."

"Another reason?"

Steph jabs him again --

"Ah -- sorry. My girlfriend and I were discussing my aversion to the telephone a few minutes ago."

"Aw, it's a *good* invention, little 'mano. It's letting me think about you *while* your voice is in my ear."

"I always sound so -- all right, I'm not fishing --"

"Your *voice*," Roy says, and Tim can hear the phone scraping against his stubble -- "Your voice is the prissiest thing about you --"

Steph snorts --

"I believe my girlfriend is agreeing with you --"

"*Clearly* a woman of taste and discernment. And I'm absolutely dying to meet her now, so... make sure she knows that --"

"Ah, she's listening to every word, actually."

Roy laughs. "Well, then, *hello*, pretty lady -- and I can *say* that because I've seen you in your -- heh -- work clothes."

"You couldn't see my *face* in that -- outfit. Uh. Don't mind me --"

"Well, you *sound* cute, honey --"

"I am so totally not a honey. *Tim's* the honey. Also? Your daughter's stuffed animals are cute. *I* am *hot*."

Roy laughs in a way which suggests utterly uncomplicated pleasure. "*Anything* you say. I -- schedule, right?"

"Yes... please."

Steph shifts next to him --

And Roy makes a purring noise. "Need to see you *soon*, little 'mano. I -- how about this: if a mission doesn't pimp-slap us, I'll come down to Gotham on Monday. Would that work?"

"Oh... I thought you didn't want to --"

"Sacrifices *must* be made. You Bats oughtta know that by now."

"There's sacrifice, and then there's sacrifice for the sake of -- ah --"

"Your increasingly intriguing -- one hopes -- sex life?"

Tim laughs -- and realizes that he's stroking his own thigh. Like Roy had. "My increasingly *existing* -- and, yes, intriguing -- sex life. I... I'd still have to work."

"Well, now... the *funny* thing about that? Is that work almost always go faster when you have a little help."

Tim hums. "Working in Gotham with someone like you is rather... ah... different from working in Blüdhaven."

"*Very* true. *Undeniably* true, even... but. I think it'll be okay."

Well... "You seem a lot more confident about that than you were the other night."

"Do I...? Maybe so. Or maybe I'm just looking forward to having you for a good, long while."

Steph snickers. "How *did* you have my boyfriend?"

Roy coughs a little. "In ways little pitchers *probably* shouldn't hear about *just* yet. Or, you know, ever."

Steph grins. "She'll figure it out anyway sooner or later..."

"*Later*, please. The world is full of way too many men -- and women -- *just* like me, thank you very much."

That... "I'm really not very sure about that... person whose name I'm not using because my girlfriend is very tolerant of protocols."

"Heh. *That* just means that you need a nickname for me, little 'mano. Why don't you work on that while I'm waiting impatiently to see you?"

The interesting thing is that Tim isn't sure, this time, when he had started blushing. That degree of distraction is... rare. Tim touches his tongue to his upper lip. "I believe I can do that."

Roy makes a *louder* purring noise --

And Lian giggles in the background, shouting something Tim can't quite make out.


"Here's something for you to laugh at me for -- Lian loves it when I make that noise and *always* wants me to do it repeatedly."

"Oh... goodness."

"Uh, huh. I'm not looking forward to the day when she figures out *which* people bring that noise out of Daddy --"

"Again! Again!"

"Or when that noise tends to *happen* --"


"One sec, little 'mano," Roy says -- and purrs loud and *long* while Lian giggles --

"Daddy's a *lion*!"

The sounds change to roars and growls --

And Lian's giggles reach octaves which could shatter glass.

Steph groans and flings herself back down to the bed. "That's so adorable I could *die*. Carry on without me, boyfriend."

"Yes, ma'am --"

Okay, Roy is making *elephant* noises --

Lian is starting to *choke* on her giggles --

"Okay, okay, *that's* enough," Roy says, and Tim is absolutely sure that that exaggerated grunt was for Roy gathering Lian into his arms and, perhaps, hugging her until she's forced to even out her breathing.

Or -- do parents do that?

"Still with me, little 'mano?"

"Oh... right here. And wondering if 'big 'mano' was responsible for the elephant noises."

"Heh. You know it. Listen, my little girl is sticking to me at the moment and there's a *distinct* smell of grape jelly..."

"Bath time?"

"For both of us *and* the rifle bullets. Man, I didn't think we had any jelly *left* --"

"It was under the fridge, Daddy! I finded it!"

Tim chokes --

Roy groans. "Right, I know what *I'm* doing as soon as the so-called comedy comes on."

"I... have a friend who swears by the utility of citrus-oil infused cleansers for things like that."

"And dried blood, too, yeah?"

Tim builds an image of Alfred in his mind, pristine right down to his white gloves -- "I believe he prefers baking soda and vinegar for that."

"Yeah, I can see it."

"I... find myself reluctant to put the phone down. But I will --"

"Monday, little 'mano," Roy says, and the smile in his voice *promises*. "And, you know, maybe I'll dress up in one of big 'mano's spare BPD uniforms and tell your parents that I'm taking you *to* him."

Tim snorts. "More than one purposely aborted visit and he won't be especially happy with me."

"Heh. There's *that*. *Has* he called -- wait, strike that, I forgot what family I was talking about."

Tim smiles a little helplessly. "I suspect I'll see him... soon. And then I'll remind him that New York isn't that far away."

Roy sighs... lasciviously.

Tim didn't think that was *possible* --

"You do that and I'll have to come up with something *creative* for you, pretty boy --"

"*Who's* a pretty boy, Daddy? Is he nice?"

"This guy right here, honey. And he's *super* nice. You'll meet him one day."

Tim smiles. "I certainly hope so."

"Yeah, little 'mano? Kids don't throw you?"

"I think it's more accurate to say that I throw *them*... sooner or later."

Roy snickers. "Noted. Monday?"

"Monday. Have --"

"I'll have a comm in tonight. Just to put that out there."

"I -- oh. I -- um. Noted."

"*Heh*. Have a good one, little 'mano."

"You, too," Tim says, and hangs up before his traitorous, hormone-starved brain can make him say something more...


More. He lies back down, handing the phone to Steph so she can hang it up --

"I don't ever regret giving up my baby, you know."

Oh. "I -- all right."

"It just wouldn't have been..." Steph shakes her head. "When I think about how mature I *wasn't* two years ago... when I think about the fact that in two years I'll be having the same thoughts about who I am *now*..."

"I think I understand," Tim says, and twines his fingers in Steph's own.

"What I regret... no. What *gets* me is the fact that someone else is getting to have ridiculous conversations with him or her, or is making silly animal noises, or is reading him or her a story... that stuff."

Tim nods and squeezes.

"I made sure the adoption agency would know that he or she should feel free to contact me when... when he or she is old enough."

He knows. He checks, himself. "I think that's a good idea."

Steph nods. "I think, one day, I'll be able to ask you about... him or her."

"I'll be here."

Steph turns and smiles at him. "I know. Now let's talk about shopping."

Tim smiles back. "Your mother seems to think that you're stalking the wild mascara beast for me."

Steph chokes and blushes. "Oh... God. Of course she noticed. Um... no. I mean. Would you *like* me to wear makeup?"

Tim strongly suspects that that sort of thing would be a trick question with any number of other teenaged girls pushing seventeen. With Steph... "I won't lie and say that I never find makeup aesthetically pleasing, but... ah. Mostly I find it jarring on people our age."


"Yes. Like... hm. Well, you never really spent very much time on the prostitute beat."

"Mm, Oracle said that was Robin's job. Only she made it sound like a threat against all my tender places."

"And those places are very important to me. I -- yes. With the first Robin, there was trust in them, and a desire to help him out. With the second Robin..." Tim can almost feel Jason glaring at *him* -- "Well, he was on the street before Batman picked him up. I don't have any specific information about how he survived that... but."

Steph winces. "Damn."

"Exactly. So, by the time I came along, Batman flat out told me that the prostitutes were my responsibility. *They* -- almost universally -- wear large amounts of makeup. The older ones... and the youngest ones in an attempt to look less arrest-able. I... it's safe to say that I tend to have negative associations."

"Now you're making me feel guilty for my addiction to peach lip gloss."

"You should only feel guilty for making me *taste* it, Steph."

"Aw, suck it up."

Tim hums. "Anyway, you never wear anything which isn't subtle, and you *always* look beautiful to me. But there isn't anything wrong with wanting to... perform, a little."

"Yeah, I know, but... I don't know. I kind of... I have this little fantasy. It's -- really stupid."

Tim tugs on their joined hands until Steph rests hers on his waist and Tim can stroke her arm. "I doubt that --"

"You don't even *know* --"

"But I want to," Tim says, making sure to look into her eyes --

She sighs and smiles again. "I was going to help Cass with her reading a couple of weeks ago, only I forgot the children's books I'd taken out from the library. I didn't feel like going back home -- I was *almost* to her Cave -- so I picked up a handful of random magazines from a newsstand."

"Did they *have* children's magazines?"

"Not even close. I got her, like, Gotham Woman and Superstar -- don't *look* at me like that! It was that or Sports Today or *porn*."

Tim shuts up internally.

Steph glares at him for a moment longer before nodding. "Okay, so I got the magazines. I figured we'd get a good laugh out of some of the articles and then Cass could use the pictures for batarang target practice or something."

"All right, yes, that makes sense."

"You bet it did. Only -- she *only* wanted to look at the pictures. I mean, it's always hard to get her interested in learning how to read more than basic, *important* words, but this time she was just *obsessed*. And it was *always* the pictures of women who are supposed to be sexy but just look like they need a damned sandwich, you know?"

Tim smiles. "I'm aware of that particular periodical trope, yes. If I saw any of those models on the street I'd assume they were homeless and hand them a card and an extra energy bar."

"*Exactly*. So, you know, I asked her what it was about those pictures she liked so much, and she got that really adorable Cass-frown, and then she was all 'this one is lying,' and 'this one is not sober,' and 'this one is frightened,' and on and on. I will *never* be able to look at those pictures the same way again.

"Anyway, I talked to her a little about modeling, but she waved me off and demanded to know why they were all still *pretty*. Why people *thought* they were pretty. And so there I am, *way* the fuck out of my depth, trying to explain, like, *culture*, and that frown on her face just got more and more *frown-y*... And I gave up a little and told her that the makeup has a lot to do with it, which -- it totally does, yeah?"

Tim nods. "We are... programmed, to a certain extent, to find certain makeup choices more alluring. Though I've never really understood why eye-shadow should be included in that."

Steph snickers. "Bruises are *hot*, boyfriend!"

Tim snorts. "Oh, yes. I always feel like I can fornicate my way through a regiment after I've been beaten with pipes and chains for a while."

"*You* probably could. But anyway, yeah. I told her about the makeup thing, and she got that Cass-is-determined-to-*learn* look on her face, and she asked me to help her out with it."

"I... I'm trying to picture... all right, I'm failing miserably."

"I *know*, right? So, by day, your intrepid Steph is looking for makeup colors which would actually halfway *work* on her skin tone --"

"You should really head into the city for that."

"I -- yeah, probably. Anyway. By *night*? Your *way* less intrepid Steph is thinking... thinking about putting lipstick on her just so she -- I -- could kiss it right off again."

"I -- oh."


"Steph --"

"Yeah. I -- I don't even know if I'm really *like* that," Steph says, and squeezes Tim's waist. "I mean... do *you* think I am?"

Tim suspects he looks a little panicked, which makes sense as he's a lot *more* than a little panicked. "Um?"

"C'mon, boyfriend, *use* that gaydar!"

"Ah --"

Steph thumps his hip. "Help!"

We were going to talk about *shopping* -- all right, no, he can be brave. "I think... I think it's definitely a sign of... something... that you're thinking about kissing her."

"I *got* that already --"

"Also... ah. Well. Do any of your fantasies ever... ah... progress?"

"Do you mean, like, do I think about muff-diving?"

"Oh God."

"*Cope*, boyfriend! And -- ah. She smells. Really good. When she's been working out."

"Yes, it's a very -- ah. You -- smell better. To me."

Steph's grin is *hard*. "I *better*. I -- well. I... it's more *theoretical* thinking."

"Okay --"

"Except when it totally isn't."

"Oh --"

"Yeah," Steph says, sighing and rolling over onto her back. "She's hot. I mean, even *you* can see that. Right?"

"Well... she's certainly not... I mean, I don't think she's unattractive in any way."

Steph snorts again. "Please don't *ever* let me hear you describing how I look to *anyone* else."

"It's always -- you're beautiful. That's what I say. And mean."

"Oh... Tim," and Steph turns to face him with a little smile. "I think -- I blew off our last reading date."

Tim doesn't let his wince out. Steph is really the *only* one who has been able to get Cass to read *anything* not Mission-related --

"Yeah, I know. I *really* can't do that. I just -- I'm a little worried. I mean, she'll be able to *see* what I'm thinking and feeling."

"You... it's possible that she's *already* seen it, Steph."

Steph looks horrified. 

"Er -- all right, I suppose that was less than helpful. Um. I'm reasonably sure she won't... ah... mind?"

Steph groans and covers her face with her hands. When she speaks, it's muffled effectively enough that Tim can't actually understand a word of it.


"I *said* --" She moves her hands -- "Aren't people supposed to figure this stuff out when they're, like, *pubescent*? Or -- *earlier*. You said *you* knew a long time ago."

"To be fair, Steph, I'd been obsessing about muscular young men wearing very small amounts of clothing for quite a while."

Steph snorts. "Okay, okay, there's that. And that second one -- those *thighs* --" Steph growls a little. "Okay, so maybe I've been spending a kind of *significant* amount of time working up lust for guys to *distract* myself."

"Ah... does that work?"

"Yes. Sometimes -- no."

Tim pats Steph's hand.

"*Argh*. I -- what would *you* do?"

"Hm. Well, for the first *year* of our actual acquaintance, I spent all my time with Nightwing repressing wildly and agreeing to suicidal recreation activities in the hopes that he would never look deeply into my eyes at just the wrong time."

"Or the right time."

"Or -- well, yes. But with Nightwing... it's really a running joke in the community that he tends to *miss* just how staggeringly attractive he is. Wonder Girl told me that Troia had told *her* that the only way to get him to notice that you were attracted to him was to jump on him bodily, convince him that you didn't just want to spar, and then, when that didn't work, kiss him. And... I have to admit that it wasn't a surprise."

"So why didn't you -- okay, no, I know why. *Argh*. Cass knows."

"I -- probably."

"She *knows*, Tim!"

Tim nods and squeezes her hand.

"And -- she probably knew before *I* did, and was maybe waiting for me to catch up so that we could talk about it. Or... something."

Knowing Cass... probably 'or something.' Tim nods again.

"Okay. Okay," Steph says, and makes one of her own determined expressions.

She has several, with varying degrees of pugnacity --

"I won't skip another date. I'll go, and I'll spill it, and she'll say *something* -- if I have to *beg* she will say something -- and then... uh. Craaaap. *Tim*! I'm going to be *thinking* about this!"

Tim winces and nods. "You have my utmost sympathy."

"Wah. Come here and hug me."

Tim does just that.


Dinner was mostly a matter of watching his father and Dana give each other heatedly amused looks and pretending he wasn't doing anything of the kind. They're going to be spending the night and much of the next day at a four-star -- money must still be saved -- hotel and it certainly looked as though that would go a lot better than it ever had when his mother was alive.

It hadn't been difficult to wish them well and keep a little of the warmth for himself while he suited up for his patrol.

Patrol itself...

It's a rather quiet night, all things considered. Two armed robberies right off the bat, and then nothing more for the last hour and a half than causing the dealers to have a difficult night. And --

It's break time.

It's --

Roy had *said* --

Tim smiles and blushes to and for *himself*, which, for him, has always been a warmer prospect than doing it with someone else nearby. He doesn't have any real idea why... though he supposes he *could* know if he put some thought into it.

He doesn't want to... right now.

"R to O."

"Mmm. Now whatever could I do for you?" The synthesizer makes her voice sound exceedingly threatening, which means that all is right with the world.

For certain values of same. "I'm going to... change the station for a little while. No more than ten minutes. Unless I'm needed?"

"Hn. Do you want to be needed?"

"Ah... well..."

Silence. Which *stretches* --

"You know, Oracle, when you smile like that I always feel approximately five years younger and more useless."

"Hn. You're assuming I was smiling...?"

"I do have some faith in my skills of detection, Oracle."

"Arrogance is so unattractive in the young. I've informed your partner how you can be reached."

"Oh -- I was going to --"

"But I did *first*, Boy Wonder. Hn. Have fun."

Yes, blushing for company is a lot less... fun. "As you say. R out."

Tim strokes his comm for a moment before taking it out and changing the channel. And then for a moment more --

No, he's on the street. He *has* to be on the grid... no matter what he uses the grid *for*. Tim slips deeper into the shadow of the water tower, toggles -- "R to... A."

"Oh, little 'mano. I -- heh. Didn't think you would."

Tim smiles, letting it feel as tight and *held* as it wants to. "I didn't, either. I -- it's a slow night. So far, anyway."

"Mm. Feeling a little bored?"

"I -- wouldn't say bored, no. More... ah. Hopeful."


What are you wearing -- no. "I've... well. It would be... nice if you were here."


Tim laughs. "All right, it would be several varieties of wonderful. I have to admit that I've spent some time tonight wondering how you would've handled, say, a particularly belligerent dealer."

"Mm, I might've just laid back in the cut and watched you *work*, little 'mano."

That... sounds precisely as dirty as he'd meant it to sound. "Well. Members of my family do tend to respond positively to voyeurism."

Roy snorts. "Oh... God. N told me once that he didn't really feel like the 'haven was home until O let him know... ze was watching by blinking a few red lights at him. When he did a sweep, he found *B's* bugs, natch."

"And N breathed a sigh of relief, yes, I can see that. B gave me his bugs to plant around my various living spaces, but I'll never actually believe that he didn't plant a few more himself."

"Heh. Maybe just one somewhere you'd never think about. *Just* to fuck with you."

Tim hums and drops into a comfortable crouch. "It does seem like him. I... honestly, it's force of habit at this point. One of my pockets is full of *only* surveillance devices."

"And you plant 'em everywhere you go?"

"Everywhere I go more than *once*."

"Mm. *That* sounded like a warning, little 'mano."

Tim smiles. "Look at it this way, A -- you'll never have to worry about slowly bleeding out if, say, you fell and hit your head in the shower."

Roy laughs. "So I'm just gonna *go* with the fact that you're kinda the opposite of sweetness and light as a general rule."

"I -- can be sweet --"

"Like sugar, yeah, but... it's gotta be *coaxed* out of you. Stroked a little, maybe," and Roy's voice has gotten significantly lower. Huskier.

"I... it's possible. Yes."

"Yeah? Is that what I should do, little 'mano? Stroke you nice and slow?"

Blushing -- *heating* --

"Maybe *mean* and slow...?"

Tim grunts and looks around somewhat frantically -- there's no one on any of the surrounding rooftops --

"Yeah. I like that. I like *you*, little 'mano. And right now? I'd like for you to just... stroke a line down the center of your chest armor."

"I -- oh?"

"Do it."

Tim pants -- stops. He does it, and the sound of his gauntlets on the armor -- the *scrape* of it seems so loud that --

"How's that, sugar?"

Tim swallows. "I -- sugar? Really?"

"Yeah, I think so. You *are* gonna show me how sweet you can be, aren't you?"

"Oh... God. Ah. *How* many people use this channel?"

"Oh... a few. But they know not to interrupt."

"A --"

"Shh. Do it again."

His hand is moving before he can think about it. His *self* is moving --

And this time the scrape is even worse because -- his hand is shaking.

"A... I. Please."

"Please what?"

"Don't --" Tim swallows. "Don't make me do this on a rooftop."

Roy sighs, and Tim realizes -- it's the same sigh he'd made when he was stroking himself.

"Oh. Are you --"

"Takin' care of little business? Maybe. And maybe you need to put on a little show."

"For you. I would -- ah --"

"And you think this isn't for me? Get a little deeper into whatever shadow you're using --"

"Please --"


Tim grunts again and does it -- "I. I'm here."

"Right here, yeah. How's that jock feel?"

"Ah... horrible. In several wonderful ways."

Roy laughs softly. "I think I can get used to playing with teenagers... now that I'm nothing of the kind."

Tim grits his teeth a *little*. "Your sympathy is overwhelming."

"Didn't you know? Sympathy comes after *I* do."

"Oh, God --"

"Get yourself out in the air, sugar-boy. Let the *night* see you."

"I -- A --"

"*Do* it."

Tim groans and clenches his hands into fists to try to stop the *shaking* -- except that's not what he's doing, at all. Except --

His gauntlets are on the roof and he's deactivating himself, leaving himself *vulnerable* --

And he knows, deep inside, that he couldn't look around again at the other rooftops if he tried. He -- "I. I'm out."

"Tights around your knees?"

"Yes --"

"Belt in a little coil on the ground?"

"On. On the rooftop. I'm --"

"Remember that rooftop, sugar-boy. I'm *going* to fuck you there one day."

Tim moans and *shudders* -- "Please. Please, A --"

"Slap your cock for me."

"Oh -- God --"

The sound is *impossible*, almost loud enough to make Tim *need* to look around --

"Did you. Did you hear."

"I've decided you can't ask questions anymore. On your knees."

Tim drops -- "Ah --"

"Can you hear the grit grinding under your knees?"

"Yes. Yes, A."

"Can you feel how *dirty* you are right now?"

"So -- won't get clean. Not from this. I -- I don't know what I'm *doing* --"

"Shh. You'll be clean again just as soon as I tell you to be."

"But --"

"Squeeze yourself. *Hard*."

"*A* --"

"Nnh. Fuck, yeah. That's what I'm doin' to myself right now. That's what I'm *feeling*."

"Yours -- I want. I want to touch you --"

"You think you aren't?"

Tim groans and shakes his head, groans and squeezes harder --

"Pretty, pretty, *pretty*. Stroke."

"Yes --"

"And take a listen."

"I -- oh, I. I want to know how I should --"

"*Just* the way you want me to do it, sugar-boy. Start now."

"Yes -- *yes* --"

Roy moans softly. "Yeah. That's me. I'm right in front of you. You could see me --"

"Oh, please, I want to, I want to --"

"But you can't open your eyes."

"A --"

"Keep 'em shut. Yeah. Like that."

It's not even *remotely* a surprise that his eyes are closed. His -- he --

"Good boy. Now. Use your thumb on the head. Slow and hard."

Tim groans --

"Yeah, keep it up. Keep going..."

"Please. Please. It feels -- you feel --"

"Oh, I sure do, sugar-boy. Mm. Poke the slit with your thumbnail..."

It makes him *growl* out a cry --

"Oh, yeah. You -- mm. You're perfect, fucking *perfect*."

"*Anything* --"

"Stroke again. That's *my* hand on you. My scars, my calluses --"

"The one -- index finger --"

"The one you kept nibbling on? Heh. I like that one, too. I'm using it on you --"

"Using -- you're using *me* --"

"That's just right, little 'mano. I use *everything* that belongs to me."

Tim cries out and *has* to squeeze, has to stroke harder, *faster* --

Roy is panting -- "You -- you're just a little bit mine, T -- little 'mano --"

"Oh -- oh, *Arsenal* --"

"Too much *control*. That's all right. Heh. You'll lose it. Squeeze your fuzzy little sac for me --"

"*Ohn* --"

"Over and -- and over, sugar, baby --"

"*Please* --"


Tim gasps, eyes flying open --

He has to keep them *closed* --

He stops stroking for long enough to *slap* himself --

"*Now*, Robin," Roy says, and his voice is a growl, an order, a *need* --

"*Please* --"

"Don't -- don't you *dare* make me wait --"

"No -- no --" Tim shouts and it sounds strangled --

Strokes once --

Twice with a *shaking* hand --

And then everything is white light and the noise of his own cries, the feel --

Oh, God, *losing* himself --

He wants to cry Roy's *name* --

Back in his body and he's swaying, rocking on his feet --

Roy is panting --

He *stops* --

"Ah, *fuck*, yes --"

Roy is *coming*, and the sounds he's making are strangled things, choked -- *careful*. He wouldn't want to wake up --


Tim licks his lips and *listens* -- and stares at his dripping hand while he waits for Roy to... give him another order.

"Nnnh. *Good* boy. Now -- lick your hand clean. You can use a wipe on it -- heh. Later."

"Yes. Yes -- Arsenal," Tim says, and licks himself clean. He doesn't --

He doesn't bother to do it quietly.

Or quickly.

"I think... I think I'm gonna fuck your mouth again Monday. After we do just a *few* other things."

Tim moans. "I. I would like to ask a question."

"Are you ready?"

"I... can honestly say that the only thing I'm ready for right now is to be bent over something --"

Roy snorts --

"But... ah. Work."

"Yeah, there's that. Collar off. What do you need?"

"May I... may I dress myself again?"

Roy sighs. "Collar's off. You can do whatever you want."

Tim opens his mouth -- and nothing comes out but a groan.

"Oh... little 'mano. If you were here right now I'd wrap you up so tight you couldn't fucking *breathe*."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut. "I think. I could use that. Ah -- I'm putting my uniform back on."

"You do that."

Tim wipes himself down and dresses at speed. Somehow, his hands know how to work again, and he -- "A... that was. Ah. Very good."

"You better believe it was for me, too. *Hot* boy -- mm. *What* are you doing tomorrow?"

"I -- I would've usually had some down-time in the afternoon, but Oracle has a claim on it now."

"Damn it. I -- wait. *Have* you talked to anyone else in the family about this?"

"I don't *think* so, but he's sure as hell about to," Dick says, and *melts* out of the shadows on Tim's rooftop. He has the fingers of one hand on the comm, and his expression couldn't be more Nightwing without a criminal screaming obscenities from a mouth full of loose teeth.

Tim *tries* to catch his breath --

"Oh... hell. I -- N --"

"*We'll* talk later, too, A. For now, I think you need to leave me alone with -- with my little brother."

"*N*. Keep in mind that he *is* your little brother --"

"Are you seriously giving me advice about R, A? Is that what you're doing?"

Tim can *feel* Roy wincing, and that -- "N, at the moment he has a fair idea on how to *do* that. Just --" Tim shakes his head. "I'll call you tomorrow, A. I plan on using the phone."

"Are you sure you're okay for this, little 'mano?"

No. "Yes," Tim says, firm and sure --

And watches Dick's eyes narrow behind the mask.

Roy sighs again. "All right, I'm out."

Tim closes his eyes for a moment, and then changes the channel on the comm before slipping it back in. The silence is... more than a little upsetting after... all of that. "R to O. I'm back on the standard grid."

"Noted, Boy Wonder. Shall I use N's comm to electrocute him gently?"

Of... course she knows. Tim fights back a smile. "I'll keep you posted."

"Oh... *that* was never in doubt. O out."

Tim turns back to Dick... who really is just standing there staring. Tim takes a breath and straightens his posture. "I... appreciate your waiting --"

Dick holds up a hand. "R. What are you doing?"

"Talking to you --"

"Don't start."

Right. Tim considers and rejects pushing a hand back through his hair and settles for crossing his arms under the cape, instead. "Having... a great deal of fun. Pleasure."

"With -- *why*?"

Tim raises an eyebrow --

"You know how I meant that --"

"Do I? No -- no, I'm not going to play that game. Look, I'll stipulate that it was  monumentally stupid to do that on the street, N, and I'll be working to convince A of the utility of other locales, but --"

Dick closes the distance between them at speed, gripping Tim's shoulders and shaking them once before staring down into Tim's eyes. "That wasn't just good, old-fashioned comm-sex."

"Ah -- I really wouldn't *know* that --"

"Just -- trust me," Dick says, mouth firming into a hard line. "*How* did this happen with him?"

"We happened to break into your apartment at around the same time, we decided to patrol together while heading in your vague direction --"

"Instead of *calling* me --"

"Nightwing. Would you have really done it differently? Assuming you didn't have something urgent to tell me or Arsenal?"

Dick frowns again -- nods. "Go on. Please. I -- I really have to know this, little brother, because -- for one thing -- you gave me every reason to believe you were *straight*."

Tim winces. "I -- had reasons for that --"

"*What* reasons?"

"Mostly not wanting to risk your noticing that I was attracted to you," Tim says -- blurts --

Dick steps *back* --

*Hell* -- "Nightwing, no, it's just -- it's just hero worship and... all those other things. I would never --"


Tim winces *more* -- "No, I -- never. You've never been interested in me that way, and I'm also not thirteen anymore. I can handle myself *and* my emotions, all right?"

Dick looks *stricken* --

"Nightwing --"

"That *long*? I --" Dick shakes his head and *pulls* Tim down into a crouch before leaning close. "Tim. You can't..." Dick sighs against his ear --

"Dick --"

"We could have --"

"No. No, we couldn't have, and just don't -- don't even *say* that, Dick," Tim says, and flips the lenses up on his mask.

Dick flips up his own. "Tim, you don't understand, I've *always* thought you were attractive --"

"And that -- that's really good to know, and flattering, but even my most *treasured* fantasies about you... Dick, I would've wanted more than I could have from you --"

"You don't *know* that --"

"I would've -- okay. All right. I'm saying this, and I'm only saying it once, and I'm not going to want to talk about it again, all right?"

"Tim --"

"Please," Tim says, tugging one of Dick's hands off his shoulder and holding it between his own. "Please."

Dick bites his lip and nods.

"All right. I." Is this really where he says it? How much honesty can he *afford*?

*Roy* wants him to be honest about everything, and, of course, Steph does --

But Dick is looking at him like he wants everything from him, like he won't *take* being fobbed off --

Tim swallows and breathes --


"I... would've wanted to be *your* partner -- no one else's. I would've wanted you to never think about anyone else -- because I knew I could never measure up to your other loves. I would've wanted -- God, I would've wanted to *live* with you --"

"That -- that's a lot more than attraction and hero worship. That -- Tim -- you were in love with me?" And Dick... he looks like he doesn't know whether he wants an answer to that question or not, and maybe that should be enough to make Tim keep his mouth shut --

At least *lie* --

"You have to *tell* me, little brother --"

"That. That, right there. You're my brother, and I think about you that way, and I think about you in all of those other ways... and yes, I was in love with you. Desperately. *Selfishly*. And a part of me will always *be* --"

Dick kisses him.

Dick *kisses* him --

Dick kisses him, and it's hard and wet and *serious* and there's a part of his mind which is only saying *take* this, *have* this, take as much as you *can* --

Tim pulls back and shakes his head. "No. Please."

"Tim, don't -- if we can have this --"

"You're dating *Oracle*, Dick --"

"And I'm still sleeping with -- with Clark, and she *knows* that," Dick says, cupping Tim's face with the hand Tim's not holding and strokes Tim's cheekbone restlessly. "I think. I think she'd say something about keeping it in the family. And maybe drive me crazy with whatever disturbing footage she has of you having private time --"

"*Jesus*, Dick --"

"I love that. I love *you* --"

"Not -- not enough, Dick, or -- not in the right *ways* -- which are really the *wrong* ways --"

"Give me a damned *chance*, Tim --"

"*No*," and Tim pulls back further, standing up -- pacing. Pacing sometimes helps. Pacing --

Well, if he can keep himself out of Dick's gravitational *pull*, then --

Something --

"Is. Is it because of you and Roy?"

Yes -- no -- maybe? "It's *mainly* because of me and *you*, Dick," Tim says, giving himself leave to stare up at the moon for a moment -- no. He looks at Dick. He meets Dick's eyes. "I've never... it took me a long time to figure this out, but I have, and I -- I don't want you in anything like a healthy way, all right? I've been obsessed with you since I was three years *old*, and I've finally reached a point where I can be near you and still be able to think *rationally* --"

"Rational isn't always the best way to *be* --"

"For me, it is --"

"You weren't being rational ten *minutes* ago --"

"But I am now," Tim says, and forces himself to move back into Dick's space. "You're in love with Barbara."

"Of course I am --"

"Do you really want to see me when I start trying to be more like her, Dick? When I start trying to give you everything she does in an attempt to make you need me more?"

Dick rears back and shakes his head. "You -- Tim, how are you getting involved in a relationship with *anyone*? What about your *girlfriend*?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "She knows... just about everything. Not the gory details of most of my fantasies, but definitely the fact that they exist. As for your other question... well, it helps that I haven't devoted my *life* to being good enough for any of those other people. To --" Tim shakes his head. "I'm at a point where I can consider having relationships without being -- being an obsessive *asshole*. I think that's --" 

"*What* other -- no, no, go back to Roy -- come here so I can *whisper* --" Dick hauls Tim close, squeezing Tim's biceps hard and staring into him. "You -- I felt that. I felt you *opening* to me when I kissed you --"

"I know --"

"I *want* that --"

"So do I. But -- I'm not old enough. Or -- not mature enough. Not *anything* enough --"

"But you are for *Roy*? How did that even *happen*? Was it -- I know I've talked about him a lot -- God, I've talked about *you* a lot *with* him. He kept trying to make me admit I wanted you --"

"He -- mentioned that --"

"I tried not to *have* those feelings, little brother. I thought --" Dick growls and pulls Tim in for a hug that may very well leave bruises. "God *damn* it, little brother, why did you *do* this to us?"

The feeling? Or the talking? "You know why. I've always been exactly smart enough to know that the fantasies had to stay that way, no matter how much --"

"*Stop*, I --" Dick growls against his ear. "Stop *talking* like that before I try to see if I can make you *come* again."

Tim feels himself twitching in his jock, feels himself *tensing* -- but he doesn't have to moan --

"I *feel* you --"

"I know --"

Dick shudders all over and pulls back to look at him. "Tim, I would've *tried* to make things work with you --"

"I know -- I know that now," Tim says, and squeezes Dick's waist. "This -- it's better --"

"Tell me about *Roy* --"

"We went on patrol. We talked. We... flirted a great deal --"

"Since when were you even *attracted* to him?"

"Your stories... made a difference. I used to think about going to him after I'd gained some measure of sexual experience and skill and seducing him."

Dick pulls back only enough that they can look into each other's eyes. Dick's eyes manage to be both wide and hard, both hurt and *confused* --

"Dick, I'm --"

"Don't -- apologize. Just. Please --" Dick shakes his head. "You have to know what this is going to *do* to me, little brother. What -- all this *time* when we could've --"

"*No*, Dick --"

"All this time when I could've *convinced* you, *shown* you -- God, even when I was Batman? Even *then*?"

Tim grits his teeth -- stops. "Especially then. It was. It was a lot like my fantasies."

Dick nods slowly. "I think. I think I might *resent* you --"

"I'm sorry --"

"*No*, I -- please, little brother," Dick says, cupping Tim's face and leaning in --

Just to rest his forehead against Tim's own. Just that. He can take that --

Dick takes a shuddering breath. "Tell me. Tell me more about Roy. Tell me how he *convinced* you to -- *that* --"

"We flirted. I -- it was very easy *to* flirt with him, and then it became difficult *not* to flirt with him --"

"He's. So sensual. I -- I *told* you about that --"

"Yes," Tim says, and presses his forehead against Dick's own a little. "It -- I never took it as a warning. And -- I don't even think I should have."

Dick's laugh is cracked, *sharp* -- "I can *tell*. He -- kissed you?"

"Very... he moved in slowly enough that I had enough time to think about whether or not..." Tim swallows. "I was aroused by then. Very much so. And -- it was a very good kiss."

"Good enough for you to break off *patrol* -- and don't say anything about how it was your night off, because *none* of us work that way."

"I -- won't. All right --"

"And you let *him* leave me a note. A *casual* note about how you'd both 'catch me later,' and --" Dick pulls back. "You made love. In... the normal way *first*?"

Normal. Normal? "He -- once he realized that I was a virgin, I had to convince him --"

Dick snorts. "That -- that much I could've guessed, but yes, I *did* need you to tell me that, anyway. You -- seduced each other?"

Tim -- he knows, with all of himself, that now is not the time to mention how helpless he had felt, even though the helplessness had felt better than *anything*. "Yes. And... during... I could tell that there was something he was holding back. That there was something he *wanted* but wasn't talking about. By then... by then I needed everything."

Dick frowns and strokes Tim's cheeks, pushes his hands back into Tim's hair --

And moves his hands back down to Tim's shoulders. "Tim. There are *reasons* why I never told you about... about that *part* of Roy's sexuality. Starting with the fact --"

"That it was never like that between the two of you. I know," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "I could figure that out. But I... well. I've had fantasies which included BDSM for... a very long time."

Dick squeezes his shoulders. "You... with me? I don't -- I mean, I could try --"

"Oh, God. Ah -- no, Dick. I -- my fantasies about you never -- ah." Mostly never, and not even *remotely* recently --

"I want to *know* those fantasies, Tim --"

"You -- all right, I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but --"

"Then maybe you shouldn't," Dick says, and his voice is low, *rough* --

Tim steps *back* --

"Please, Tim --"

"I *don't* want you -- thinking about that, Dick. I don't. I can't -- I *can't*, all right? I'm -- begging."

Dick winces -- it's almost a *flinch* -- but then he nods, taking a deep breath and blinking -- "I'm sorry. I'm -- for a lot of things."

Tim swallows again. "So. So am I."

Dick nods again. "All right. All -- okay. One thing about Roy, little brother..."

"I'm listening."

Dick smiles at him wryly. "What you *are*... is getting ready to blow me off in the politest possible way. Right?"

"Dick --"

"I *know* your *tells*, little brother. Apparently, I didn't know them well *enough* before, but I do now --"

"And you told Roy all about them."

Dick winces again. "So I did. And -- he used them against you."

"Ah... gently. But yes."

"All right. Just -- just this, then: he does things *differently*, little brother, and a lot more casually. Which you know now, right?"

"I -- yes," Tim says, and folds his hands under his cape. "I'm not -- I don't plan to let myself get any more... casual... than this."

Dick nods. "I'm not even gonna try to get you to ease back on the comm-sex throttle, because God knows that Jay worked me like a bitch *regularly* --"

"Ah? I -- really?"

Dick smiles ruefully and nods again. "I actually have no idea why I didn't share *those* stories with you, but I think I don't want to know. Let's just say that Jay was the acknowledged master of making me want to do *incredibly stupid* things -- if only to shut him *up* -- and leave it at that, okay?"

"Ah... for now?"

Dick sighs. "Him, too?"

Tim bites his lip. "I -- yes. He... my pictures..." He's blushing again, but there's no way around it. Not for this.

Another nod. "He was... incredibly beautiful. And this means -- heh. Roy is the *only* cape who's ever gotten all three of us. I think it's possible that Ollie would buy Roy a *bar* if he ever knew about that."

Tim makes a face. "I -- that's really rather... tawdry."

Dick raises an eyebrow. "Arrows do things differently, little brother."

"And perhaps that's the gist of your warning, Dick?"

"It -- yeah. Yeah, it is. He won't spread your secrets around if you tell him not to -- but that does *not* mean that those secrets won't go anywhere."

"Like to you."

"And probably Connor. If he'll sit still for it."

*Connor* -- Tim shivers a *little* --

"I -- him, *too*, Tim?"

"I -- they're just fantasies --"

"See, that's the thing, Tim," Dick says, and closes the distance between them again. This time, though, he doesn't touch.

"What. What's the thing?"

"I don't think they're ever just fantasies with you. I think you might believe at least a few of them are, but --" Dick shakes his head and smiles sadly. "Will there be a later for us, little brother?"

I won't be able to keep saying no to you indefinitely -- no. "I think. I think so. I can't -- I think so."

The kiss comes *exactly* too quickly to avoid -- but it's just to Tim's forehead. Tim stands still for it --

Stands still for the feel of Dick *pressing* his lips to Tim's forehead, and tries not to think about how that would feel on other parts of his body, how --

"B to R."

Tim jerks -- and forces himself to relax. "Here."

"R-point twenty-two, fifteen minutes."

He'll have to take his bike -- "Noted, R out."

"What are you going to do when *he* asks you about this?"

Tim blinks *while* double-checking himself and the fit of his belt. "Ah -- how much did he ask *you* about your sex life?"

Dick smiles wryly. "It was never directly. He has other ways... and strike the question from the record. I already *know* you'll do fine," he says, and the pride in his voice is so --

The *whiplash* is so --

Dick. Tim *wants* --

Tim nods, flips the lenses down on his mask, *doesn't* squeeze his eyes shut -- he knows Dick would be able to see it -- "I'll talk to you soon, Dick."

"Oh, I know. I made a surprise dinner-date with you and your parents as soon as I'd seen you'd come by," Dick says, rocking on his heels and *smirking* --

Right. "I love you," Tim says, and dives off the side of the roof.


He'd spent the lion's share of the rest of his patrol last night officially as Bruce's back-up and unofficially as Batman's heir -- or.

There's some question in Tim's mind as to which one of those was unofficial for *Bruce*... but he owns the fact that he's probably not going to find out for sure anytime soon.

Or ever.

Right now, he's in the Cave writing a report on the night's activities which neither he nor Bruce technically need --

He doesn't even need to *be* here to do it --

He wants his workout here.

He wants to write this report *knowing* that Bruce is right over *there*, lifting weights and knowing exactly what Tim is doing --

He still hasn't talked to anyone but Steph *about* this --

Tim shakes it off internally. If he'd tried to throw that little factoid into his conversation with Dick last night, Dick would've accused him of trying to change the subject, and he would've been absolutely right. So... he'll just continue tucking the subject away for later.

And writing this report.

Most of their activities last night had boiled down to the gathering of intel. There had been nothing particularly juicy in what they'd picked up from the three mid-level dealers they'd cornered *or* from Gotham's newest -- and possibly most fragrant -- fence, but...


Last night was all about teaching Tim the things Tim didn't know *yet* about on-the-fly interrogation techniques, including an intriguing moment when Bruce had chosen a 'fellow men of the world' approach with the second mid-level dealer. It had worked well enough -- without even a hint of Matches -- and Bruce had directed Tim to try the same with the fence.

The challenge of leaning close to a man who smelled strongly of sauerkraut and Spear-brand body spray had been enough to focus Tim on the task of pretending not to care about the man's criminal activities... as opposed to the activities of those the man knew.

*That* had worked less well as near as Tim could tell, but Bruce had given him the nod that meant that he was to try using it more often on the street.

The *true* purpose of this report is to find out why those men had *warranted* that approach. He's been over the men's yellows three times each. He's cross-referenced their aliases, alibis, and known associates.

What he has after all of that -- and a part of him is, in fact, focused on the time, and how he only has ninety more minutes before he has to leave for the Clocktower -- is... vague.

Both men had served time in two of the toughest maximum security prisons in the state. Both men had served less than three years each. Both men are recently off parole --

Which is a *perennial* problem --

Hm. Tim types up his conclusions, stands, stretches, and moves to join Bruce near the weights --

"A moment," Bruce says, and continues his set. He doesn't ask what Tim wants to know -- they know each other too well for that at this point -- and he doesn't ask...

Anything else.

It's not that Tim *wants* him to ask about Roy -- he thinks he would surrender at least *part* of a kidney to avoid that -- but...

It had been Dick's relationship with his Titans that had helped cause the break between him and Bruce. The fact that Bruce is the one who had pushed Tim -- gently, for him -- into joining the Titans may or may *not* be proof that the man had... what? Learned a lesson?

Changed his ways?

Tim had told Bruce in no uncertain terms about the damage he'd caused by forcing Tim to stay apart from Young Justice, but he'd never gotten much in the way of *acknowledgment* of that -- careful -- tirade. When it comes to Tim's personal life, however...

He had saved Ariana's family from needing to sell their store and move. He'd pushed Tim at Steph *repeatedly* -- in several idiosyncratic ways -- and had even outed him to her... not long before Tim had outed himself. There had always been a certain subtext behind those actions, though. A certain sense of Bruce doing what he could to make things easier for Tim as a person without doing -- or saying -- anything *personal*...

Tim blanks his expression and makes a quiet little show of studying Bruce's -- perfect -- form, Bruce's -- slight -- level of strain, and Bruce's -- intense -- Bruceness. Which...

Tim smiles.

"Yes, Tim?"

Don't you know...? Tim shakes his head. "Call it a moment of considering what we're making of this partnership."

"And how we can improve on our efforts?" And Bruce doesn't actually *look* at him, but... amusement. Pleasure. *Open* pleasure --

"All right, I give. What aren't you telling me?"

"About our work last night?"

"Not even close, Bruce," and Tim crouches beside the bench. "What do you actually *want* out of us now that I'm no longer allowed to pretend I don't know what you intend for my future?"

"Did you spend very much time doing that?"

Tim waves a hand. "I saved all considerations of the future for my nightmares. You know that."

Bruce doesn't respond, even with a grunt.

"I would like -- no. I think I *need* a response to my question, Bruce. How are we -- in your mind -- supposed to be working?"


Tim suspects the smile on his face is as sour as it could ever get --

"Tim..." Bruce sighs once and sits up, snagging the towel so he can wipe sweat from his shoulders and the back of his neck.

Tim looks Bruce over for signs of strain -- and for the sake of doing it.

"Let me look at your conclusions," Bruce says, gesturing Tim up before standing himself and walking toward the console.

Tim decides that hesitation isn't quite the same as a flat-out attempt to change the subject and follows.

Bruce doesn't bother to sit down to read the report, and he doesn't make a sound or any remotely reactive motions.

He's *Bruce* --

"Yes," Bruce says, saving the document and turning for the pommel horse without -- anything else. At all.

"Ah -- more data *needed*, Bruce --"

"You're absolutely correct in your conclusion that, knowing what we knew about the individuals in question, they could prove to be excellent sources of intel in the future."

"Yes, but --"

"The psychology of non-violent career criminals of that sort -- men who never get caught for the *worst* of their crimes -- is such that they retain enough confidence in themselves and their basic legal invulnerability to find it natural -- even plausible -- that men such as *us* would wish to cultivate their acquaintance."

"Yes, I figured as much, and there's also the fact that their contempt of official law enforcement makes them terrible snitches for the actual police, but --"

Bruce's shoulders drop minutely.

Surrender? There is a distinct and *powerful* desire to be able to see the man's face for this, even though Tim knows it wouldn't help. "Bruce..."

"This... you do not, truly, wish to speak about our partnership with me, Tim."

"Ah... what? I *asked*, Bruce --"

"And you rarely ask me for anything at all. Rarely..." Bruce shakes his head and turns to face him, a rueful smile on his face. "Tim. I want the two of us to speak freely with each other. I want the two of us to trust each other implicitly. I want you to understand -- even more than you already do -- the task we are undertaking together."

"Then tell me *how* --"

"Continue to do what you're doing. Including... including questioning me. I will never tell a lie to you again. Not even to save your life."

Tim rears back, blinks -- *thinks* --

"Hn. I know you wish to interrogate that statement for... duplicity. There is none. I promise you."

That -- Tim laughs softly and manages -- barely -- not to cross his arms under the cape he's not wearing. "I suppose it says something about us that I found that statement acutely horrifying."

Bruce smiles. On another face, it could, perhaps, be gentle. "No, I believe it would be horrifying even if we weren't who we are. Still, there is something to be said for not knowing another person completely."

Tim narrows his eyes -- stops. "Is this where I apologize for thrusting myself into your life, Bruce?"

Bruce blinks and *starts* to shake his head -- the smile is gone. "Never that, Tim. I am... I am grateful to know you."

"Right, all right -- you *have* to realize that you *can't* actually talk to *me* like this and not get --"


"I suppose I could gas you with something nasty."

Bruce rumbles a laugh --

"Before testing you thoroughly to make sure you hadn't been gassed with something even *nastier*."

"Hn. I could tell you that I'm as close to being in my right mind as I ever am... but that's precisely what I would want you to believe."

The amusing thing --

All right, *one* of the amusing things is that a part of Bruce is serious about the need to examine him thoroughly to make sure he isn't about to go crazy in any one of the ways he has in the past. They're *both* being serious --

He could go crazy in a *new* way --

And Bruce is raising an eyebrow at him while smiling.

Tim sighs. "I'm not Batman, yet. I'll save the worst of the paranoia for you."

"Mm. I've never known you to be so... casual."

Now *that*... is an interesting word choice, considering what Tim had been doing *just* before Bruce had called, and -- "Should I thank *you* for having waited, Bruce?"

For a brief moment, Bruce's smile shows teeth and the triumph of one of the world's most successful predators -- but then he closes his eyes for a moment and shakes his head. "I trust you to treat your personal life with the same aplomb you bring to your professional life."

"Meaning that --"


All right. All right, he *is* pushing a little, but --

But what? He has *Steph* to talk to about his relationship with Roy. This *isn't* like the Batman... *thing*. He doesn't need anyone else's input.

He *shouldn't* need --

*Why* does he need --

"You'll be seeing Barbara at two?"

An entirely pointless question given what they both know about what Tim has been doing -- an offer to change the subject.

Bruce isn't meeting his eyes, anymore, and --

"I need. I'd like to know your objections, Bruce. Assuming you have any..."

Bruce's nostrils flare and he clenches his *fists* -- and then he relaxes all over. "I have no objections, Tim. Roy Harper has proven himself, time again, to be a good friend to this family."

Did you object when it was Jason? Did you -- no. He doesn't. He doesn't have to push.

He'd like to know why Bruce was *tense* --

"You... I think you told me a lie."

"I did."

And now his heart is beating too damned *fast* -- he calms himself. He calms himself. "All right. The question then becomes what sort of objection you could have to my... relationship which you nonetheless feel is unworthy of being uttered."

Bruce closes his eyes again, straightening his posture even more than it had been before -- he takes a deep breath. "Tim. I'm asking you to leave this alone."

Oh, just -- "You *just* said --"

"I know. Just the same," Bruce says, turning to face Tim once more and resting his hands on Tim's shoulders. The grip is gentle, warm --

And Tim knows. He -- knows. "I -- oh."

There's a *light* in Bruce's eyes, but it feels like a poorly-maintained weapon with an indiscriminate spray pattern.

They are, perhaps, both bleeding in this moment. A little. Just --

"Matches' apartment, Tim?"

Tim closes his own eyes.

Bruce squeezes Tim's shoulders. "My homes, such as they are, are your own. I will never... interfere."

Perhaps... perhaps he's just too shocked to blush.

"I will never pressure you. In -- in any way..."

Shocked at being... less than shocked?

"I believe... I believe that he can make you happy. And that is the most important thing. I was... wrong-headed with Dick when it came to that relationship. I should've known much better."

What does this even *mean* --


What is he *doing* -- no. No. Tim knocks Bruce's hands from his shoulders and takes a step back. He opens his eyes --

Pride in Bruce's own. *Pride*. For what? Not being weak enough to --

To *what*?

"Tim. Are you all right?"

He's panting. He's -- his heart feels like it's *thrumming* in his chest. He's -- not quite starting to get hard. A blessing? Of some sort? Tim evens his breathing as best he can --

"Yes, Tim. It... it can be, if we remain strong --"

"*Strong*? You -- what are you *talking* about?"

Bruce winces and lowers his hands to his sides.

He has such big *hands*, and -- God, he -- "Did you. Did you watch?"


"Did you *like* it?"

"Yes," Bruce says, and raises an eyebrow. "And no."

Tim nods and he doesn't -- he doesn't know what he's agreeing to, or acknowledging, or -- anything. Except for how that's not *true* -- training.

That's --

"I'm hitting the weights," Tim says, as unnecessarily as possible.

Bruce's right hand twitches at his side. "I will be on the pommel horse. Tim... I trust you."

Tim can't quite hold back his shudder.

He can't --

Strong? Tim looks at the floor. "Do you have... anything in particular for me to do tonight?"

"Intel gathering -- if there is time."

"All right, call me when I'm -- needed," Tim says, and walks back to the weights.



He navigates his bike through Gotham with the usual ease, and doesn't come close to having -- or causing -- any accidents. He's better than that.

Bruce would, perhaps, say *stronger* --

He should've asked how long the attraction had been --

He should've asked more about *jealousy* --

He should've --

Tim rides, and keeps riding, and parks the bike two blocks over from the Clocktower, as he's wearing Tim Drake, civilian.

He carries his helmet with him, and it's only once he notices the fourth pedestrian shrinking away from his path that Tim realizes that he's sending a death glare out to the world in general.

Tim blanks his expression and keeps moving until he reaches the front door --

"You look," Barbara -- *not* Oracle -- says through the speaker, "like a Timbot."

Well -- heh. Tim raises his eyebrow at the camera. "I do try to play to my audience, Barbara."

"Hn. More on *that*... inside," and the locks on the door disengage.

Tim heads in, listening always for the sound of the locks reengaging and speeding up once they do. In the elevator, a wash of pink light flows over him --

A flash of blue at his fingertips --


"Testing a new toy. You were working with the explosive pellets this morning."

"I wanted a bit more bang for the buck. It's a bit disturbing to know for a fact that the residue remains on my fingers."

Barbara hums as the elevator opens and Tim walks inside. He finds Barbara among her computers -- as always -- and moves to perch on the second-nearest worktable --

"No, that one," and Barbara points to the closest one.

"Your wish," Tim says, hopping up and folding his hands together between his knees. The crouch is almost sinfully comfortable after all the work he'd done on his quads.

"First and foremost -- why weren't you wearing work gloves?" Barbara doesn't turn away from the monitor showing feeds from... Blüdhaven.

Tim smiles ruefully. "The detonator triggers are my nemesis with my gauntlets as they are now."

Barbara hums again. "I'm sure Bruce is already fashioning new ones for you, but..." One of the monitors changes to a view of sleek black gloves designed to reach to the biceps.

"A new gauntlet?"

"Actually, it's a popular accessory for the fisting crowd --"

Tim chokes --

"And I'm shocked and disappointed that you didn't already know that," Barbara says, turning her chair before leaning back in it. The expression on her face...

It's precisely like being thoroughly scanned by a human eye after several far more useful scans had already been done. Tim smiles ruefully. "I'm something of an amateur... in a great many ways."

"Mm, I suppose it's a *good* thing that you -- generally -- learn very quickly, indeed," and, for a moment, her expression is only fond. "Tell me something, 'little brother.'"

Tim winces --

"No, no, I'm not even a little bit angry with you. I am, in fact, sympathetic enough to your plight -- as it regards to the man who has become my lover -- to flat-out say this right now, as opposed to making you twist: you've done nothing to earn my retribution."

Tim starts to take a deep breath -- stops --

"While I'm fully aware that that *is* just the sort of thing I would say before beginning a slow, Byzantine labyrinth of revenge against you and everything you hold dear..." Barbara raises an eyebrow.

"I did already decide to leave paranoia to Bruce for the day, yes," Tim says, and offers what he knows looks more like an artist's rendering of 'caution' than a smile. "What can I tell you?"

"How much of what you told Dick last night about your feelings was true... as opposed to being a remarkable work of improvisation?"

"It --" It really would be nice to be able to protest that. It -- really, really would be. "All right. The truth is that I'm not entirely sure. The deeper truth is that thinking about Dick, for me, has never included any real degree of *critical* thought. And."

Barbara nods and gives him the come-on gesture.

"It wouldn't take very long at all for me to get myself *to* that point about Dick. The question, at this point, is whether or not I'd be doing it on *purpose*."

Barbara steeples her fingers. "You're afraid of answering that question."

Tim shrugs. "I have any number of excuses I could offer about just why I'm choosing not to confront my fears head-on at this point in my life, but, in the end, they're still excuses."

Barbara's smile manages to be both rueful and -- old. "I've decided that I'm going to call cowardice generosity. I..." She shakes her head. "I can't love him enough."

Can anyone? "He loves *you*."

"Mm, so he does. He has for a good, long while, and a part of me... a part of me only wants to call up Starfire and apologize. Or commiserate. Or, if all else fails, let her ply us with Tamaranian intoxicants until we do something egregiously stupid."

Tim raises an eyebrow --

And Barbara *barks* a laugh. "Not *quite* that stupid," she says, and narrows her eyes in the best *possible* warning -- "I'm *not* your girlfriend."

Heh. Well. "I don't suppose you have any advice on that matter I could share?"

"Not even a little. Tell me about Roy."

"Distracting. Addicting. Eminently... approachable."

Barbara nods judiciously. "A rare treat...?"

"Perhaps not rare so much as rarely available *to* me -- no, that's not it. Thanks to Dick, I've known for a long time that there's no one quite like him. I'd like... I'd like to try to make it work."

"Hn. So would he," Barbara says, punching a button on the arm of her chair --

Roy's living space is very, very... Roy.

Navajo artwork on the walls, enough weapons -- out of toddler reach -- to justify the codename, and Roy himself sitting tailor-style on the floor in front of an incense burner with his eyes closed and a smile on his face. There's no sign of Lian --

Strike that. There are many brightly-colored toys, what looks to be a child-sized blanket patterned in rainbows, and, oddly, pineapples, sticky-looking sippy-cups --

"Lian is, presumably, asleep," Barbara says, and rolls closer to Tim's table. "Roy accepted the bugs as -- partial -- payment for my tech, but the ones in her bedroom always disappear sooner rather than later."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"Hn. Yes, he is, in fact, that good -- when he chooses to be."

"It was... amazing to work with him."

"Mm. The way to a Bat's heart... well. This footage is from the night before you last visited Stephanie."

Which means... what? But no, there's no point in asking. Barbara never offers footage like this unless a reason will become readily apparent with time. It's just...

Tim is reasonably sure that the reason, this time, won't be anything as safe (as ever, a relative term) as simply her own amusement.

Tim shifts into a slightly more stretch-inducing position --

"I must admit, I'm desperate to know how you managed your daily activities after your last date."

Tim smiles. "Happily sore. He really was... ah. Well."

"Mm-hmm. Just so you know, Tim? You can talk to me whenever you want to."

Tim blinks and looks to Barbara --

"No, pay attention," she says, and gestures to the monitors in question *sharply*.

"Ah -- all right," and Tim turns back. Roy is still... enjoying the incense. Hm. "Is that some sort of aromatherapy?"

"Hn. Some sort. According to the man himself, those are Tamaranian joy-sticks. Yes, that's really how the term translates."

"I -- *drugs*?"

Barbara waves a hand. "For a Tamaranian, yes. For a human... little more than aromatherapy."

Tim narrows his eyes --

"Roy asked Clark to analyze it for him -- no addictive qualities for people with Roy's particular genetic fingerprint."

"Why do you --"

"Clark keeps me updated on *all* sorts of things," she says, and her smile is broad enough that Tim can see it out of the corner of his eye.

"Ah -- all right."

Barbara hums again, reaching down to cross her legs -- carefully enough not to tax the weakened muscles. It's a pose which always makes Tim feel both uncomfortable and relieved -- and it's another mystery he has chosen not to examine very deeply.

Tim goes back to watching --

And the shadows shift *just* beyond what Roy would be able to pick up with his eyes closed and -- possibly -- his senses addled. From that --

No, it really isn't a surprise to see Bruce, or to see him wearing one of the rebreathers. He pinches off the 'cherry' on the stick --

"Uh -- *fuck*," but it's Roy, and so he isn't done emoting before there's a gun pointed at Bruce's chest --

"I know you unload them as soon as you enter any space you share with your daughter. And... I'm reasonably sure you don't want to shoot me."

"Uh. Maybe to save my own life? Maybe? Hell, Bruce," Roy says, standing, holstering his gun, and walking to the wall --

The sound of the ventilation system is quiet, but still picked up perfectly --

"It'll be about two minutes before the air is clear," and Roy's body is a picture of tension, worry --

He slowly and visibly relaxes himself before turning to face Bruce, who is still in his crouch. Roy nods and moves to sit on the couch. "So -- hit me."


Roy's smile is crooked and warm, but seems pained, as well. "I'm not gonna say that's not a relief, Bruce, but -- uh. You're *here*."


"And you *weren't*. For either Dick *or* Jay."


Roy laughs quietly and scrubs a hand back through his hair. "Okay? Help?"

Bruce -- and it really *is* Bruce, cowl or no -- smiles. "Do you really need my help...?"

Roy looks down at his own lap for a moment and shakes his head. "If you were a *normal*... uh... father? Mentor?"

"Neither of those. Not with Tim."

"And *that* would be the problem -- uh. My problem, because I'm not sure what you actually *want*, Bruce."

Bruce nods once. "Pretend that I am... normal."

Roy raises his eyebrows, and the laugh in his eyes --

"He really is extraordinarily attractive," Barbara says. "I can definitely see the appeal, and I usually don't care for... other redheads."

Tim smiles somewhat helplessly. "Why would you when the best is in your mirror every morning?"

Barbara laughs with her mouth *open* this time -- "Oh... Tim. You really do owe me for outing me like that."

"I -- whatever you'd like --"

"Bug Lian's room *effectively*."

Tim winces. Just -- he can't *not* wince for that --

And Barbara pauses the playback just as Roy starts to open his mouth. "That... answered a question I needed answered."

"*What* --" Tim stops, takes a breath, and turns to face her. "Barbara, I -- she's his *child* --"

"And a highly vulnerable pawn in the game that we would never, ever think of as a game." Barbara's smile is wry, and -- "It's about as good as it can get for her now, since when she's not at day-care -- or in the park with one of the few nannies with special forces training -- she's in a windowless subterranean *fortress* -- but. I would still feel better if I could keep an eye on her until such time as she's, say... thirteen?"

Tim -- has to admit that she has a point. A good, *rational* point. Lian's too young to learn more than how to run as fast as she can, and to learn *some* of the situations where that response would be applicable. If she's to have anything *like* a happy childhood --

Normal really *would* be too much to ask for -- and.

Barbara wasn't truly asking him to do it. "You... needed to know if I would fight for him."

"Oh, that I already knew, Tim. I needed to know if you would fight the *wrong* battles for him."

And that... is worth another wince. Tim nods. "I see what you're saying. I'm -- attached."

"Very much so... after exactly one date and two calls. Perhaps *too* much so. If Dick hadn't been distracted by all of those other things... oh. Oh, Tim..."

Oh... dear.

Barbara's smile is , and this time her laughs hits several different notes with a rusty sort of *pleasure* before she stops. "That... would be the real reason why you threw your feelings for Dick down on the table. Now --"

"I didn't -- it wasn't entirely on purpose --"

"Oh, yes, and I heard that *very* important 'entirely.' Mm. Tim, you are... deeply special. *Slightly* more than that -- you are deeply special to me. I'm not going to warn you about how crazy Arrows are, and how that crazy is different than *our* crazy, because you already know that. I'm not going to try to get you to hold your heart back, because you've done too much of that already -- and that's from someone who *knows*. I'm not even going to tell you to be careful. But..."

"I'm listening, Barbara." This time --

"And that time, you were even being honest," Barbara says, and rests her cheek on her raised fist. "I think."

"I was --"

Barbara waves her free hand. "Decide if you're ready to be a father."

"Oh, God --"

"Decide if you're ready to come out to your *family*."

"I can't -- I'm too young --"

"And? Decide if you're ready to have Oliver Queen riding your ass in absolutely *none* of the fun ways. The man has a lot to prove to Roy, and, more dangerously, he *knows* it. You have *maybe* six months before Roy starts talking to Connor about you in *non*-perverted ways -- I really can't make a better estimate -- and once that happens? You're *going* to have a -- new family."

"You were about to say 'real family,' weren't you?"

Barbara winces. "Yes. But that's my issue, and nothing you have to deal with."

"Barbara --"

"Please," she says, and raises her hand in surrender.

Tim really *wants* to protest -- but Barbara has never asked him for anything valuable before. Not -- anything. He nods, and -- "All of this is moot. We don't know how Roy feels about *me*."

Barbara gestures for him to turn back to the monitor -- and starts the playback again.

"Look, I -- Bruce --"

"Please," Bruce says, and makes a gentling motion which is only obscene with the gauntlets on because of Tim's own fantasies. "I want -- I would like to know."

Roy frowns in obvious *consternation* -- but then he blows out a breath and nods. "I'm not gonna hurt him -- ah. Not -- in any of those bad ways," Roy says, and he's wincing --

"Noted. Go on."

Roy squeezes his eyes shut -- opens them again. "He's a special kid. He *is* a kid in some ways -- enough ways that I should probably be wondering what the hell I'm doing --"

"But you're not. Go on."

"No, I'm not, and maybe -- hell, I've learned to go with it, because it's too damned *easy* to lose everything in a heartbeat in this life. You *know* that --"

"Yes," Bruce says, and Tim wonders if Roy can see that tension --

Roy's eyes are narrow, but not at all cold. "Yeah, you know. I -- I want him, Bruce. I want him in my bed, his bed, *your* bed -- even with that horrible fucking -- where did you even *get* that?"

"Hn. Sometimes I enjoy garage sales."

Roy chokes on a laugh. "I -- okay, then. So -- the want is there. And the want is getting to *be* need -- just. How do you even know he'll *call* --"

"I know. And so do you," Bruce says, gesturing for more.

"Yeah. Yeah, it -- it's going to be need," and Roy claps his hands on his knees, squeezing with enough power that his knuckles pale --


"Bruce, I -- I know myself, all right? The way he was with me... the way he just opened right *up* for me, like -- like I was exactly who he *wanted* --"

Bruce stands --

"Or -- I could stop talking. I could definitely --"

"No, I..." Bruce shakes his head and peels back the cowl -- and takes off the rebreather. His hair is mussed, spiked here and flattened there with sweat, and his eyes --

Tim can't see his *eyes* -- but whatever's in them makes Roy's own eyes widen as he swallows.

Bruce closes the distance between them and crouches down again. "Tell me more. Please."

"Ah... that's. Are you sure you want me to get that *personal*, Bruce?"

"Roy... I'm sure of all too little when it comes to Tim, beyond knowing that he would not give himself, so *much* of himself --" Bruce shakes his head again. "Please."

"I -- uh. I guess this counts as... something involving family..."

"'Something,' yes."

"Dick -- Dick is a little obsessed with him. The way he is with his -- your -- entire family. That's *how* I got to know... I wouldn't have been able to get *close* to him without the things Dick told me --"

"Would you have wanted to?"

Roy licks his lips and smiles again. "I wanna say yes. But -- no. I tend to like my -- my friends to be a little more *relaxed*."

"The way Dick used to be?"

"He's still --" Roy sighs. "Yes. And no. I don't think I'd be able to take it if I wound up falling for someone *else* wrapped up so tight in you they can't even blink if your eyes are open, Bruce."

"You. You weren't that close to Jay."

"No, I wasn't, and Jay had that cracked and *filthy* sense of humor going for him, too... but you still owned a great big piece of him. You know that."

"I -- loved him."

"I know that, too. I..." This time, Roy just *touches* his tongue to his upper lip. "I went back and forth with Tim. I went -- I had to keep testing to *see* how much of him you owned, even though I knew it would fucking *hurt* to -- uh. To see that."

"I... wondered if your curiosity was only..."

"Prurient, Bruce?"

Bruce dips his head, and Tim doesn't have to see his face to know that his expression has been taken by a *particular* smile, rueful and bright somewhere he's never been able to *touch* --

He *could* touch it, though, and he could --

He wants --

Tim growls -- "Stop the recording. Please."

Barbara -- pauses it. "You're thinking of the conversation you were having with Bruce when sane people were eating sandwiches and the like."

"I can't -- how could I --"

"I think you mean 'how could *he*.'"

Tim stands up on the table and -- stretches. He can stretch, and think --

Thinking would be a good thing to *do* --

If he could just focus and -- "Bruce. Bruce wants me to be *strong*. I -- what does that even *mean*?"

"I believe, going by what I know of the man, that he believes he wants for you to ignore years of obsession, attraction, and love both filial and otherwise --"

"So that I can... have Roy? I -- Barbara, what am I supposed to *think*? I never -- I never *tried* to hit on him. He doesn't *have* to discourage me. I never *once* tried to even *hug* him --"

"Stop and think for a moment, Tim. You know he's attracted to you. He's *asked* you to 'be strong.' What does that tell you?"

Tim blinks, frowns -- he crouches again and just -- grips his arms for a moment. It's a habit he'd told himself that he'd grown out of years before -- he already *knows* how puny his biceps are likely to be for the foreseeable future -- and --

It's not actually a comforting thing to do.

Tim rests his forearms on his knees, lets his hands dangle loosely between his knees, and tells himself to treat the problem the way he'd treat any puzzle Bruce had given him --

Except. Except that it's not really a puzzle, is it?

*Bruce* had thought he knew everything already, that --

"Oh, God."

Barbara rolls close enough to take Tim's hands in her own and squeeze -- *hard*.

"I'm listening."

Barbara *grinds* the bones together --

"I'm *listening* --"

"Then say it, Tim. Say what you *know*."

"He wants --" Tim growls and glares at Barbara -- "He wants me, and he just spent a fair amount of time telling me that if I *do* try to seduce him -- all bets are off."

"It's more than that --"

"I *know* that. I -- Christ," Tim says, scrubbing both hands back through his hair and breathing. Just -- breathing. "I'm sorry --"


"You have to let me *apologize* --"

"No, I really don't. I suppose you can tell yourself that I'm angry at you for having a remarkably sane reaction to your childhood heroes wanting to have naked-time with you --"

Tim chokes --

"I could even *be* angry if you'd like. I mean, I managed to hold off Dick for *years*, but I still had to throw in the towel."

Tim laughs and shakes his head. He considers crying out. He considers trying to flip the grip Barbara has on his hands to one where *he* could do the phalanges-punishing -- no. He just pulls his hands away from hers. "All right. What about Bruce?"

Barbara sighs and spins her chair to face the monitor. "I could say something about how it wasn't really an issue and even have it be *mostly* true -- from Bruce's side of things, anyway. But -- he did, in fact, want me enough to show me. Once. And fantasizing about him was an excellent survival tactic to keep me from fantasizing about the terrifyingly young boy whose kisses were so very sweet."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut for a moment and nods. He knows Barbara can see it.

"He still kisses me that way. Sometimes. If I knew whether or not I liked them better than his other kisses -- the ones he gave *you* -- then... I don't know, Tim. I really don't," she says, and turns her head to smile ruefully at him.

Tim nods again. "I -- don't want this responsibility."

"I know."

"It's not -- fair --" Tim growls again. "Forget I just said that."

Barbara's smile gets softer. "Done."

"I want -- a part of me wants to just *scream* 'why now,' but that part is an imbecile."

"Perhaps. Do you know what you're going to do about this?"

Tim lets his smile be as tight as it wants. "No. Start the recording again, please."

Barbara nods and does so.

Bruce sighs and looks up at Roy again from his crouch. "Your interest could never be more prurient than my own, Roy."

"Uh... wow. So this is you, just... kind of *admitting* that. Christ, Bruce, are you *sure* you don't want to hit me?"

Bruce -- chuckles. And rests a gauntleted hand on Roy's knee. "You've always been... you've given my loves light, hope, and, yes, love."

"Your -- uh. Bruce?"

Bruce squeezes Roy's knee. "Love him, Roy. Please. I -- of course I know that this isn't something I can ask of anyone, much less of a man who has never owed me *anything* --"

"And, see, maybe if you were *like* this with *them* --"

"Roy," Bruce says, tilting his head enough that Tim can see the side of his face --

See that Bruce is showing *teeth* --

"If I had been like *this* with them, I would've had to send them even farther away from myself. I am a man, and I have limits."

"And this..." Roy exhales sharply. "This is what it looks like when you push them --"


"With *me* --"

"Yes. With you."

"What are you -- no. Just -- no," Roy says, standing and starting to pace -- no, he stops by his antique longbow and strokes the curve of ash wood -- "You're not gonna live through me, Bruce. I don't care if you bug the entire eastern seaboard, I will *find* places to take Tim where you can't reach us if you're gonna be like that."

Bruce tenses. "Don't -- don't take him away. Please."

"So *keep* him," Roy says, moving to join Bruce again, to crouch beside him, to use his strength to *spin* Bruce to face him --

Bruce lets him do it -- "Roy --"

"I'm not saying you should take him back from me -- God, he's not even mine --"

"He would've offered that to you that night --"

"Because I fucked him *silly*. That's not even close to a recipe for a lasting --"

"You don't know Tim well enough --"

"And neither do *you*. Look, I can *read* a person, Bruce. I can see --" Roy shakes his head. "You have a chance. We *both* do."

"I..." Bruce moves much too fast --

Fast enough that Roy *only* has time to rear back --

Before Bruce is cupping Roy's face with one gauntleted hand.

"Uh. Bruce?"

"You... are a passionate man. Use that with him," Bruce says, standing and pulling the cowl back on before pausing, all over.

"Good night?"

The smile on Bruce's face *almost* suits the cowl. "And to you."

Bruce leaves, closing the door behind him --

And Roy covers his face with his hands and shakes. He's... laughing. Silently, but obviously.

Tim wants to be laughing with him.

He wants... too many things. "Stop the recording, please."

Barbara does so and sighs. "I'm tempted to tease you with footage of what Roy was doing before he went to sleep... but you're probably not in the mood."

He *wasn't* -- he's not. Tim smiles at her ruefully. "Perhaps another time."

Barbara hums -- stops and blinks. "I -- does this mean the Graysoncam won't work so wonderfully on you, anymore?"

Tim bites back a snort and pulls on his best scowl. "I am a teenaged boy, Barbara. I have... limits."

Barbara... that may actually be a *titter* --

Tim smiles and enjoys the pain of it.


Tim spends the lion's share of his time at school on Monday repressing to the point that Ives actually tries to clap him manfully on the shoulder in an attempt to make Tim seem more lifelike.

At least, that seemed to be the gist of his explanation as he sucked on his fingers and winced.

They'd decided to blame the pain of it all on Ives' lingering Lyme-disease-related arthritis, and the effort involved in doing that --

Well, it had allowed Tim to remember to have actual facial expressions during his last two classes.

When in doubt, improvise.

He makes it home while repeating Roy's phone number in his mind like a *mantra* --

And has to stop short because Dana is waiting for him in the foyer with the mildly smug expression which always means that she has a surprise for him.

He's brave. He's strong. He smiles. "What's up?"

"*Somebody* is having guests tonight."

It's -- not his birthday for another -- prayerfully calm -- ten months. Tim remembers to raise both of his eyebrows. "Oh?"

"*Dinner* guests," she says, smiling and bending her knees slightly before straightening again in pure excitement --

And Tim remembers. And remembers to keep looking curious. "Who? Oh, is Steph coming? I have some books I wanted to loan her --"

"Nooo. Care to guess again, loverboy?"

Choking is actually a good idea. "Um?"

Dana sighs. "*Dick* is coming -- and he says he's bringing a friend. Isn't that exciting?"

Dana always, always approves of Tim liking to spend time with other human beings. She's a good stepmother. Tim smiles brightly. "Really? He didn't *tell* me --"

"That's why it's a *surprise*. But I knew I wouldn't be able to hide all the prep-work..." Dana sighs and laughs. "Actually? I need your help. Your father promised to be here, but..."

Tim smiles easily enough. "The market-monster caught him. I hear you. Just let me stash my pack and wash up. I'll be down in five."

Dana --

Dana doesn't really hug him -- Tim suspects this has something to do with the fact that his early efforts at receiving hugs were weak, at best -- but she does, occasionally, clap her hands to Tim's cheeks and *press*.

Like now.


That gets him a giggle, a proudly fond look -- "Hurry up and sterilize those hands, buster. We're gonna put out a *spread*."

The spread turns out to be an antipasto with ingredients harvested from the moderately chic Italian deli which Dana refuses to let his father visit because of their wide selection of products designed to cause everything from arteriosclerosis to diabetes, a large amount of chicken marsala -- Dana's influence present in the choice of the chicken itself, which was raised and slaughtered humanely with nothing in the way of chemical enhancements -- eggplant parmigiana, and, for dessert, an even dozen pastries from the deli -- an unprecedented *two* of which are to be set aside for Tim's father.

"Has he been a *very* good husband, Dana?"

Dana swats him with absent affection as she attempts to glare the mozzarella to the correct shade of golden-brown. "I'm not a *stick*, Tim. You're both allowed to have *treats*."

Tim smiles. "Does this mean you'll be eating one of the pastries yourself?"

Dana winks at him. "The order was for a *baker's* dozen, and if you tell your father that you're grounded for a month."

Tim mimes locking his lips shut.

By the time his father gets home, they're nearly done with all the preparation, and his father is contrite enough to immediately begin setting the dining room table, even though it's a task he hates with an unreasoning passion.

Once, years ago, his mother had told him that his father needed a mnemonic to remember the placement of all the utensils. There had been some measure of contempt in her voice.

Here, now --

Dana is humming "Walk Like An Egyptian" while she checks the good china for dust --

Dana is *whistling* --

And his father is smiling fondly at her.

This is better, without a doubt. This is *good*. And Tim... doesn't want to do a thing to change it. Even if he came out, he could never tell his parents that he was dating someone ten years older than he is *along with his girlfriend* --

Tim pushes the thoughts aside and works on convincing Dana to let them use the napkin rings *she'd* purchased. The ones with the disturbingly happy and athletic pink dogs --

"But they're so *ridiculous*."

Tim smiles again. "So is Dick. Trust me; he'll love them."


"We can impress him with the *food*, Dana."

Dana smiles at him and looks like she *wants* to press his cheeks in again -- she restrains herself. "Pinky the Doggy Destroyer it is, then."

When everything is all set, they spend a solid two minutes trying and failing to find something else to do --

His father raises one finger and loosens his tie before heading to the living room. He turns on the TV.

He eases himself down into his chair -- the one he loves despite the fact that it's low enough to give his bad leg trouble from time to time.

He makes a show of relaxing, folding his arms behind his head and stretching out his legs --

The doorbell rings.

His father smiles, breathes on his fingernails, and buffs them on his shirt.

"Oh, *Jack*," Dana says, shaking her head and smiling.

All right, it's good *and* a bit surreal -- but only because of what *most* of his childhood had looked like. Tim goes to get the door --

And Dick and Roy are standing there looking ridiculously attractive and very *neat*. Dick is wearing a shirt which could've been ironed by Alfred -- a shirt which isn't even especially exciting, even when taken in conjunction with his pants and shoes. Roy is leering cheerfully enough at him that it actually takes a moment to notice his clothes --

Dick had ironed a dress shirt for Roy, too. It's a little snug through the chest and at the wrists, but that just makes him look more --

More. He wonders, more than a little helplessly, what Roy had been planning to wear before Dick... interfered.

"Ah... welcome," Tim says quietly, before plastering a much more family-appropriate smile on his face and, "Dick! You could've *told* me!"

Roy looks somewhat stunned --

Dick leans in close to Roy. "I *did* warn you."

"Right, right -- uh --"

"It's a *surprise*, kiddo, and -- hey, meet Roy Harper. He's been a friend of mine for years. His dad and Bruce used to pal around."

Roy shakes himself like a *dog* -- "Nice to meet you, l -- Tim. Dick's been talkin' my ear off about you *forever*," he says, and then gives him a questioning look.

"That works," Tim mouths, and steps back. "It's great to finally meet you, Roy. Please, both of you, come in," he says -- once Dana has finished helping his father up from his chair.

Dana hugs both Dick and Roy, and Dick gets a kiss on the cheek.

His father shakes their hands -- and immediately offers Tim to Roy to give him the tour.

"Oh, that's an excellent idea," Dana says, and turns to Dick. "Dick, would you mind helping me bring in the antipasto?"

"Not even a little, Dana," and Dick raises a *pointed* eyebrow at Roy --

Roy only smiles back briefly before turning to Dana. "I haven't had a good antipasto in years. My -- uh -- Dad used to put out some seriously fantastic ones."

"Oh, is your father a chef?"

Roy coughs. "I -- ah... no. He's not really much in the kitchen *except* for things like antipasto and, of course, his world-famous -- in his own mind, anyway -- chili."

Dana laughs. "One of my friends from high school went to school in Texas and got just *obsessed* with trying every kind of chili she could find. You don't even want to *know* what her dorm room smelled like after a night out."

*That* gets laughter from the whole room -- and a pleased look in Roy's eyes.

Clearly, fart jokes upon meeting someone new are a good sign in Roy's book --

Arrows do things differently.

Tim offers Roy his best moderately-embarrassed-but-too-geeky-to-be-truly-embarrassed-teenager smile. "Tour?"

Roy looks at him like he's an *alien* -- and then offers a smile which probably wouldn't have been out of place at the parties Oliver Queen used to throw. It's sort of sleepily casual... hm.

Perhaps to give an impression of inebriation?

"Lead the way, Tim."

In the dining room, Roy strokes a napkin ring with a somewhat relieved sigh.

In the kitchen, he makes appropriately appreciative noises about the various good scents.

In the office --

In the office, Roy pushes Tim against the door, using Tim's body to *close* it --

"Upstairs --"

"This, first," Roy says, kissing Tim hard and stroking Tim's obliques with restless *possession*.

Tim bites back the first moan --

The second --

Roy shoves his knee between Tim's thighs and Tim groans, *bucks* --

And shivers for the *thrust* of Roy's tongue into his mouth. One, two --

Three --

*Four* and Tim groans again --

And suddenly there's a hand over Tim's mouth and Roy is panting and grinning at him. "Sugar-boy."

Tim's *eyelids* are heavy --

"Dick's taking your territory tonight -- no, don't even try to argue. We're going someplace quiet, private, and soundproofed."

Tim grunts --

"Yeah. Like that. Only you'll be much, much louder by the time I'm done with you, little 'mano. Now. Say yes." Roy moves his hand --

"I -- I --"

"Say. Yes."

Tim shudders and fights against -- he doesn't know *what* he's fighting against --

Roy sighs and nudges Tim's groin with his thigh. "It's all right, Tim. I know you have responsibilities -- we both do. But I need you tonight... and I think you need me, too."

God, fuck -- "Half patrol."

"Two hours."

"*Half*," Tim says, and pushes up onto his toes to make it -- slightly -- more difficult for Roy to drive him crazy.

Roy narrows his eyes --

Licks his lips --

And smiles. "Lie down with Bats, get up with a Mission...?"

Tim laughs and lifts his arms between them, pushing gently. "Upstairs?"

"Yes --"

"And you can say that you were impressed with my father's computer system. I designed it myself, and I was understandably proud to show it off."

Roy snorts. "Sir, *yes*, sir, you lying bastard, *sir*."

Tim shows his teeth. "One does what one must."

"Oh, I agree. And right now, *I* must --"

*Speed* --

And Roy's hand cupping Tim through his jeans, cupping and *squeezing* --

"*Roy* --"

"Ever think about how naked you are without a jock, sugar-boy...?"

"Nnh -- all the time. Actually. Roy, please -- please don't make me *hard* --"

"Just a little. Just enough so that we can --" Roy drags Tim's hand to *his* groin -- "Match."

"Oh, God, I want you in my *mouth* --"

"You'll get *just* that -- after half a patrol."

"And -- dinner. Right. Okay. *Upstairs*," Tim says, twisting free and deliberately giving Roy his back --

Roy strokes down the center of Tim's spine -- and steps back. All right.

Tim opens the door and steps out -- "And I *maybe* had a little too much fun setting all of that up."

Roy's laugh is cheerful enough. "Understandable. I'm not all *that* good at this stuff, but I have a damned good time playing with it."

Tim gives Roy a grateful smile. "I *like* living in the future."

"Heh. Sign me up for a jet-pack and a flying... car."

Tim hums and -- yes, Dick is doing an excellent job of running interference by sharing some of the funnier stories of life on the BPD. Both Dana and his father are laughing, and, chances are, they haven't noticed a thing.

All is well.

And then things are a lot *better* than well, because Roy is looking over Tim's bedroom *exactly* as if he's making detailed plans for the future --

"Mm. Exposed beams can be so..." Roy smiles *sharply*. "When are your parents going away on vacation? When will they both be out of the house for *work*?"

Tim moans *quietly* -- and shakes his head. "They just did give themselves a mini-vacation, so... probably not for a while. Dana only works part-time --"


Oh -- God, yes. "Wednesday. Afternoon --"

"Cut school."

"Roy. I can't exactly have Oracle call me out of school early for *this*."

Roy cocks his head to the side. "Oh, *I'm* sorry Miss Pennybuckets, but we simply *have* to have Tim home for the afternoon," Roy says, and the voice --

"Ah. A little too much... ah. Brucie, actually. And the individual in question is Vice Principal Winthrop --"

"Okay, okay..." Roy concentrates for a moment, narrowing his eyes -- "Ah, Mr. Winthrop? Yes, it's Jack Drake calling. I'm sorry for the short notice, but we have a little family emergency -- no, no, it shouldn't be too serious. It's the boy's grandmother, you see... yes, well she wants what she wants *when* she wants it, and *most* of what she wants is to spend more time with Tim before she passes... ha, yes, family is *complicated* --"

"All right, that's -- magnificently creepy, actually," Tim says and smiles helplessly. "It's almost... I'm not even sure *how* you managed to make yourself *feel* like my father --"

"Dick," Roy says, and brushes a finger down the bridge of Tim's nose. "He gave me the rundown on the way here."

Tim licks his lips and nods. "Wednesday."

"You'll e-mail me *all* the information... and we'll have a whole lot of good, clean, *honest* fun, little 'mano."

"Roy, I... I would like another kiss."

Roy narrows his eyes. "Maybe you should kiss *me*."

"Oh. Oh, I keep forgetting I'm not -- ah."

"Wearing the collar...? It happens, little 'mano. Given some practice, the mind-blowing orgasms will start acting like a nice, clean border in your mind."

Tim -- he knows his eyes are wide. He knows he must look *young*. He steps close and wraps his arms around Roy's neck --

"Mm. You have no *idea* how good you feel to me. Too much *time*, Tim."

"I agree," Tim says, and leans up and in for a kiss, making it slow and careful until --

Until he can't anymore. Roy is clean-shaven *enough* to justify nuzzling closer, harder --

Roy is *willing* enough --

Roy is following Tim's *lead*, and that means it's necessary to coax Roy's tongue back into his mouth, to press closer until Roy *pulls* him close --

And to moan for every second of this, every *moment* of being close, warm, held, kissed --


Tim pushes his hands into Roy's hair and *tries* to remember not to muss it --

It's hard enough to remember not to *hump* the man --

Roy drags the kiss along Tim's cheek to his ear. "I'm gonna spank you tonight, little 'mano."

"*Fuck* -- I -- all right --"

"Oh, it's gonna be a lot better than all right. It... mm. I haven't decided whether or not I'm gonna fuck you again --"

"Please. Oh -- please, Roy --"

"Yeah, you liked that just fine. I know it," Roy says, licking Tim's ear and growling *softly* --

Tim feels himself *flex* --

And Roy laughs and reaches down to cup Tim's ass and *squeeze*. "Feel so *good*, Tim..."

"You -- I'm glad. Because -- God, the way you *smell*. Like -- all the leather you wear at night -- *oh* --"

Roy eases the force of the bite to Tim's earlobe and just -- tugs for several seconds before letting go and sighing. "You should smell Connor, sometime. It's hard to get him to give up training with wooden bows, and those need to be *oiled* --"

"I -- I've smelled him. And -- ah. Yes. Very... moving."

Another laugh, and Roy steps back -- but only to get to Tim's throat. He folds Tim's collar down --

"I -- probably shouldn't be marked --"

"You *have* a girlfriend, Tim," Roy says, licking the place where Tim's shoulder meets his neck -- "And a boyfriend, too."

"God -- Roy. You make it so hard to *think* --"

"Mm. And that may very well be one of the *nicest* compliments I've ever received," and Roy licks him again --

Again -- "Please --"

"Please what, sugar-boy? And you are so, so sweet..."

"Oracle. I -- she showed me. Bruce --"

"At my place? Good for... hir. I was gonna tell you about it *after* we made love. After I'd had you all to myself," and Roy nuzzles, kisses --

Tim groans -- "He -- he *confessed* --"

"To you? About *wanting* you?" Roy pulls back --

"Please, *don't* --"

Roy kisses him, hard and brief -- "It's okay. I'm right here. Are you sure -- fuck. Are you sure about *me*?"

Tim nods -- stops. "Yes. Yes, I'm sure. It's just -- it's in my *head*, and I." Tim squeezes his eyes shut.

Roy kisses Tim's forehead. "We can talk about it all you want. I know -- no, I *don't* know how huge this is for you, but I can *guess*."

Tim takes a deep breath and lets himself shiver. "Yes -- I..." Tim laughs softly. "We should go back downstairs," he says, and forces himself to actually *look* at Roy again.

Roy frowns. "I want you someplace *private*, little 'mano."

"The feeling is... entirely mutual," and Tim reaches up to touch Roy's mouth, feel the softness of his lips --

Roy cups Tim's hand in his own and kisses Tim's fingertips. "This is moving pretty fast."


"You -- you can call a halt anytime you want. You know that, right?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "Yes, but then you might *stop*."

Roy grins at him. "Don't worry so much, little 'mano. I *promise* to whine like a little bitch whenever you *do* make me stop."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Roy raises both of his own.

"Somehow, the whining and general bitchery seem rather more like my job than yours."

Roy purses his mouth in an expression that doesn't -- quite -- make it to a frown. "There's a great *big* difference between subbing and being a bitch, little 'mano. I -- please tell me you know that?"

"I..." Tim laughs ruefully. "Intellectually. And even emotionally -- most of the time. I've done a fair amount of the reading, after all. But... it's still more than a little disconcerting to find myself following orders which aren't in some way designed to save lives."

Roy bites Tim's fingertips. "Think of it this way -- you're saving your soul."

"I -- what?"

"Trust me. You'll see what I mean."

"That -- that's what I'm *afraid* of --"

"Then... don't think about it," Roy says, squeezing Tim's hand once more before releasing it.

"Just like that?"

Roy grins -- and points to the door.


All right.

Dinner is a rousing success, if he does say so himself. Roy and Dick sit together on one side of the table, Tim sits on the other, and Dana and his father take the head and foot respectively. Dana always gets the head of the table, and, while Tim doesn't know for *sure*, he suspects that has a great deal to do with the number of times Tim's late mother had used the words 'be a man' to his father.

There's none of that here.

It does come out that Roy is Oliver Queen's adult ward, but his father knows little enough of Queen's reputation that things continue on smoothly. Roy talks about his work in Queen's community center, and about his various adventures... as a stay-at-home father.

This leads to a mercifully brief series of anecdotes about the things Tim had done when he was Lian's age, and it doesn't even hurt all that much to have the thought that such recitations would *have* to brief, considering how little time Tim had spent with his parents while growing up --

Though it does get him a briefly commiserating look from Dick -- and an openly curious look from Roy.

Tim nods once to acknowledge both and steers the conversation to Dana's work at the rehabilitation center. He, Dick, and Roy all pretend to know much less on the topic of physical therapy than they do, and --

It's always nice to see Dana excited. She's quite punctilious about not naming her patients -- or even giving all that many specific details about their injuries -- but her happiness is just...

Sometimes -- just sometimes -- Tim wants to be honest with Dana. There's an innocence to her that never makes Tim think of the people he saves from certain awfulness as Robin --

She's a daylight person, he thinks, and being around her always makes Tim feel a hint, a *charge* --

A moment, always lost quickly, of the way it had felt to honestly believe that he wouldn't spend the entirety of his life as a vigilante. The feeling of there *being* an end for him, or... something.

He's not sure, and it's yet another thing he chooses not to interrogate too deeply. It's entirely possible he has a few too many of those --

"-- but I've been blathering *forever*," Dana says, and actually colors slightly --

"Nah, nothing like that, Dana," and Roy reaches over to pat her hand. "I know for a *fact* that you haven't gone overboard."

"Oh? How's that?"

"Because..." And Roy smiles at all of them. Suddenly, there just *is* a packet of photos on the table. "*Nobody* goes overboard like I do."

Dick snorts. "How did you even -- don't you use a *digital* camera?"

"Gotta go analog for sharing and caring, 'mano. I can *never* make those photo printers work right."

His father laughs. "Sounds like I ought to be sending Tim home with you, Roy. I don't think there's an electronic gadget he *can't* work."

"Aw, Dad..."

"Now, don't be modest, son. Did you tell Roy that you built your own computer from spare parts you bought with your allowance money?"

With just a *little* help from Oracle and the sort of cash that flows so *freely* from the accounts of known criminals. Tim ducks his head to hide a blush that doesn't actually exist --

"Oh, *look* at her," Dana says, pushing her plate aside unceremoniously so that she can lay the photos out in front of her --

"I'm *especially* fond of the little flower-pot costume Ollie got her for this past Easter."

Dana -- coos. That's really the only word for it. And --

Hm. If his father were to get Dana pregnant, they would be *deeply* distracted...

"Oh, my *goodness*. I could just *eat* her!"

On the other hand, he would almost certainly be expected to baby-sit at least some of the time --

"Now, check out this one with the chocolate cake, Dana. Well, you can't really tell it's cake anymore, but -- trust me."

On the *third* hand, having an infant to focus on would allow his father to assuage a great deal of guilt. To start over, as it were. That could only lead to him spending more time thinking of Tim as a near-adult, which would be --

"Oh -- God, Roy, is she wearing one of Donna's -- uh -- bathing suits?"

"She is *indeed*, 'mano. She likes to sleep in it, sometimes."

On the fourth hand -- or possibly the tentacle -- Dana would almost certainly work harder to make Tim feel as much a part of the family as possible. She's already quite determined about that sort of thing --

"Oh, Tim, *look*," Dana says, and hands Tim a stack of photos. The trick with this sort of thing is to both pretend that he hasn't seen every detail of the photo immediately and to allow his reactions to be at least somewhat 'loud.'

Of course, he's still a teenaged *boy*... hm. Tim looks up from under his lashes. "You do this to everyone, don't you, Roy?"

Roy folds his hands behind his head --

His biceps are so --

"You better believe it, little 'mano. *All* shall love my little girl and *despair*," he says, and *winks* --

Tim checks, but his father is surreptitiously taking a third -- and extra cheesy -- helping of the eggplant parmigiana and Dana appears to be having paroxysms of toddler joy. Hm. He may not have to -- or get a *chance* to -- influence the child decision --

And Roy has his eyebrows raised... challengingly.

"She's incredibly adorable, Roy. I don't really get a chance to spend time with many children her age."

"Oh... you just wait, Tim. I might hire you to baby-sit *while* bringing my computer set-up into this century."

"Oh, who cares about *computers*? She's wearing a teddy-bear suit!"

Dick raises his hand. "I'm responsible for that one, Dana. I couldn't *not*."

"Dickie here *also* bought her about eighteen --"

"It was only *sixteen* --"

"-- mini-bears to go with it. Because he *loves* it when there's no space whatsoever in my home," Roy says, and mock-glares.

"The little eyes and noses were stitched instead of plastic! You can't *blame* me."

Dana sighs and starts reorganizing the pictures -- and examining them closely for the second time. Tim checks --

And his father has paused with a forkful of food halfway to his mouth. He's managing to look both panicked *and* guilty... and Tim knows precisely why. None of that tonight.

"Uh, Dad?"

His father blinks. "I -- son. I was always -- I regret --"

Tim clucks his tongue and shakes his head, pretending that he hasn't heard a thing. "Isn't that your *third* helping?"

"I -- oh -- *Tim* --"

"Jack! Your *diet*!"

His father groans... and looks an entirely different kind of guilty. "Dana, really, it's just -- it's hardly a helping, at all --"

"Tell that to your *arteries*, mister. Surrender the plate -- or no *dessert*."

Judging by the blush on his father's face... heh. He hadn't thought Dana *would* resort to that kind of rank, shameless manipulation. He applauds her internally and steals his father's plate --

"Little brother. We *both* know you're not actually going to eat that," Dick says, and gives him a look of skepticism and mockery --

"And neither are *you*, Mr. Always Gets A Salad When We Eat Out," and Roy takes the plate away. "I, on the other hand, have to keep my strength up."

Dana smiles at him. "Is she very active?"

"Oh, absolutely. She's old enough now that she likes solitary playtime *sometimes*, but young enough that I can't actually let her *have* it."

Dana nods thoughtfully and -- just barely -- glances at Tim's father.

They spend the rest of the meal talking about little things, and eat their pastries at the table. Dick and Roy compliment Dana profusely on the meal, and promises are made to do this again 'sometime soon.'

Tim knows Dick means it -- Dick calls this sort of thing 'undercover lite' -- but he's not sure about Roy, who has been giving him more and more *looks*. They're subtle, but they're also curious and a little troubled.

He had, of course, noticed Tim's father's... slip. And Tim's reaction to same. It's not that Tim particularly needs Roy to be a part of *this* family --

*He's* barely a part of this family --

Tim shifts position enough that the pastry and his hand will hide a fair amount of his expression --

But Roy is still paying attention. After a moment, he nods *slightly* to Tim, and goes back to telling stories about Lian to Dana.

The dinner ends with Dick's BPD-issued cell phone vibrating on his hip -- he's needed, which is more than enough reason for Tim to be relieved that he'd refused Roy's... demand. Except for how he absolutely isn't. Tim lets all of the rueful smile out and takes Dick's goodbye hug as his due.

Roy makes his own goodbyes... and shakes Tim's hand. It's *absurd*, and Tim lets *that* be in his eyes -- but then Roy strokes a slow circle in Tim's palm with his middle finger --

While *holding* Tim's gaze with his own --

Nothing is absurd, at all.

Tim watches them go, wondering where Roy is keeping his uniform tonight, where they'll meet *up* for patrol, how much he'll be able to focus on justice with Roy at his *side* --

"*Homework*, kiddo," Dana says, and Tim realizes that he'd been staring out the window.

"Ah -- right, yes."

"You can have your own motorcycle when you're *thirty*. Not before."

Tim smiles wryly. "I have to admit, they look a lot more cool than safe." Except when he's driving one on an empty stretch of road...

Dana smiles at him fondly. "Roy certainly seemed to like our little family. I think he was pretty curious about you, too."

Oh... leave that *alone*, Dana -- "Well, Dick's mentioned him to me several times. They've been friends since they were younger than I am. Probably Roy was just wondering what kind of person would get Dick to call him 'little brother.'"

"And *you* like *that* a lot. I... did you ever want a sibling, Tim? A blood-sibling, I mean."

Oh. Okay, then. "I've definitely thought about it, Dana. I was kind of... well, when I was young, the mansions were really extremely *large*, you know?"

Dana bites her lip and glances back toward where his father is sitting in his chair. "Were you... lonely?"

"Sometimes," Tim says, and lets the wry smile stay on his face. "I found other things to do."

"I... well, your *father* doesn't know about this, yet, so it's really all moot --"

Tim holds up a hand. "I think you're an excellent mother, Dana, even if I still can't quite... well. Any child would be in good hands with you, whether you choose to have one of your own or adopt."

Dana blinks. "And you really wouldn't mind?"

"Not in the least... though I can't promise to be overjoyed by diaper duty."

A laugh --

"Talk to him about it, Dana. I think... well, I think it would be good for the whole family."

"Oh --" Dana reaches for his cheeks --

Tim braces himself --

Tim gets hugged. And Dana doesn't have the upper body strength of Bruce or Dick, but she knows how to use what she *does* have and --

It's a good hug.

He hugs back.


Tim is half an hour into his patrol -- and two minutes into an interrogation of a dealer he's never seen before -- when Roy lands to his left and starts fingering his holsters helpfully --

"Hey, fuck you, those aren't even real!"

Tim shows his teeth. "Arsenal isn't from Gotham, Mr. Tate. Arsenal? Is from Star City. Where, if you haven't been paying attention, the occasional criminal never makes it to trial."

Tate turns his muddy hazel eyes back on Tim --

To Roy --

To Tim --

Roy pulls one of his guns at speed --

Tate flinches -- 

And Roy proceeds to demonstrate the reality of the gun in question by letting the bullet he keeps in the chamber fall to the ground with a quiet clatter. He racks another.

Tim grips Tate's jaw and turns him back to face him. "Care to try again?"

After that, it's a matter of trying not to look too disappointed when he finds out that Tate knows nothing more about the West .44s than Tim does. While it's good that he's not from a *new* gang... well.

Bruce probably has to deal with repetition of this sort every night.

Tim finishes the transaction by breaking two of Tate's ribs before zip-stripping him to wait for the police he'd summoned with via macro. Normally he'd leave someone this low on the totem pole to wait, but Tate had been stupid enough to bring the entirety of his supply with him. The last thing he wants to do is cause some 'lucky' junkie to have an overdose. And --

This neighborhood is quiet tonight. Time to take the bike elsewhere. "Your bike, A?"

Roy smiles. "N gave me access to your tracers, little 'mano. Our bikes are currently canoodling."

Canoodling -- right. Tim smiles and gestures --

"Oh, no. I think I want to spend a *good* long time... following you around tonight."

Well... focus --

Stepping into Roy's space is a *kind* of focusing --

The sound of Roy's fingertips on Tim's chest armor is something to focus *on* --

Roy gives Tim a gentle push in the entirely correct direction, and Tim lets his sigh be as heartfelt as it wants. "As you say."

In the mostly-empty parking lot -- the neighborhood is primarily commercial -- Tim watches Roy straddling his bike, and then gives himself a moment just to circle him, to re-catalogue everything he knows about Roy's uniform and the bike itself --

Roy smiles and shakes his head. "Am I gonna have to order you to behave tonight...?"

"Mm. You could certainly *try*," Tim says, and strokes down the length of Roy's mostly bare arm --

And gets his wrist caught.

"Oh... yes?"

"You're pushing. I like that. But you should know that I can only be pushed so far before..."

Tim presses his tongue to the backs of his teeth -- stops. "Before?"

"I bend you over your own bike and spank you *right* here."

God, yes, but -- "Would that be a punishment?"

"Oh, yeah. But only 'cause I'll stop *before* you ruin your jock."

And yes, his heart *is* pounding just that fast, just that *much* -- "I want you."

"You'll have me. Get on your bike and find us some crime to fight."

"Yes. Yes, Arsenal --"

"No. Not that when we're alone."

Tim licks his lips and wonders if Roy can feel his pulse through the gauntlet. "Then... then what?"

Roy's smile is broad, lazy, *maddening* -- "Oh... you'll think of something. Now, *move*," Roy says, and lets go.

Tim follows orders.

They spend the next hour punishing dealers. All the talk between them is professional -- to the point where the interlude in the parking lot starts to feel like an illusion... or at least something a lot less real than the crack of bone and the spray of blood.

Roy fights with a precision which has less to do with any particular school of martial arts than with a certain rough determination to cause pain as quickly and cheerfully as possible.

He uses neither his guns nor his arrows, but that, Tim thinks, has more to do with the lightweights they've been up against tonight than with anything else.

Some of his punches have Bruce all over them.

Nearly *all* of his kicks feel like having Dick with him -- and it's a history Tim has no part of. He's not --

This shouldn't really belong to him, should it? It just -- it doesn't make *sense*. He may not be *entirely* new to the life at this point, but he's hardly a veteran. This isn't really his *place* --

Caught by the wrist --

Before he would've punched a man in his already-broken nose. Well -- *hell*. "Thank you --"

"Are you okay?"

There is no vigilante more dangerous than an amateurish one. It's nothing Bruce had ever said to him, but, then, he hadn't had to. Tim shakes his head once and works on zip-stripping their targets. He can tell by the pattern of bodies on the ground which ones he'd had a hand in downing. None of them were excessively injured, none of them were *insufficiently* injured.

He could've killed the last man, and that --

"Follow," Tim says, shooting his grapple and heading for the rooftops. He can *feel* Roy behind him, and he wants --

He has to set *ground* rules --

The nearest halfway decent rooftop -- shadowy *and* with a view -- still isn't good enough to be an r-point, but it will do for this.

It *has* to --

Tim lands, rewinds the grapple, breathes deep --

And Roy spins him around to face him. "What was that? You -- *were* you angry about something?"

Tim smiles tightly. "Distracted."

"Dis- seriously? That's *it*?"

Tim nods. "Yes, and I know exactly how -- pathetic that is. I can't -- A, we can't do this with me... dangling on your hook."

Roy frowns. "I hadn't thought I was fucking with you that much, little 'mano. We can ease it back, though."

"I don't -- want to --" Tim laughs and reflexively checks his gauntlets for blood before pushing a hand back through his hair. "I -- apparently I'm just not very good at... this sort of multitasking."

Roy squeezes his shoulder. "You're doin' fine, I promise. It's -- heh. A little too easy to forget that you're new at this."

"I -- that's. Flattering."

"That's *true*," and Roy shakes Tim lightly back and forth. "Okay, how's this -- nothing on the street."

Tim fights back a wince as best he can --

And knows that he'd failed when Roy smiles ruefully. "There *will* be other times, Rob."

"Yes. Yes, I'm -- going to keep that in mind --"

"Why don't you tell me *exactly* what had you distracted?"

"I don't -- all right, no, I do know. It -- you were so clear and focused, and it made me feel... ah..."

"Like maybe I *wasn't* all that into you?"

Tim frowns. "That sounds -- horrifically needy on my part. Mainly because it's true."

"It's okay. This stuff --" Roy sighs and shakes his head. "N pretty much begged me to have more 'normal' sex with you. I can't help wondering --"

"No. I -- no. Please. I don't -- it would feel too much like you..." Tim frowns more deeply and tries to think of a *reasonable* way to put it. Just -- "It would feel like you were lying to me... or like we were lying to each other."

Roy nods and touches his tongue to his upper lip. "Yeah, I agree. We know what we want."

"What... what we need."

"That, too," and Roy steps close, pressing his thumb to the side of Tim's throat --

"You -- don't worry about fingerprints."

"Not particularly. Too much paranoia takes me right off my game."

It's not a -- right. "I think -- I think you're right. About leaving this off the street."

Roy nods again. "Yeah. *But* -- I'm thinkin' about you, little 'mano. Thinking, wanting, needing... I'm not gonna let you go all that easily tonight. Understand?"

Tim opens his mouth --

He manages not to pant.

And not to moan. "All right."

Roy nods *slowly* this time, and steps back again. "Let's find ourselves some more crime."

Tim smiles, nods, and jumps off the edge of the roof --

"This is me not saying *anything* about how hot you look when you do that," Roy *purrs* into the comm.

Tim chokes a little --

"Not even one little word about how *professional* it is, how serious and fuckin' *grim*..."


"My lips are absolutely sealed, little 'mano. Starting... now."

The next hour goes entirely smoothly -- and more than that when Roy starts using his arrows more often. He hasn't worked with a projectile-weapon-using partner since the days before Helena was a Bird, and it's a pleasure to force himself to start getting used to it again.

The geometry of keeping his body out of sight-lines, the relaxation inherent to all situations where there are guns out and he doesn't *have* to try to create crossfire situations for the criminals in question to injure themselves with --

And the pure pleasure of watching Roy demolish an entire 'social club' full of shameless recidivists without ever moving more than two feet in any direction.

They're getting close to when Tim wants to cut things off for the night, but --

Oracle had *asked* them to make life inconvenient for the men here, and it's certainly *interesting* that so much of this particular gang's muscle was present for the night.

Which one will be the first? Tim moves through the crowd, dispensing kicks and the occasional punch as he goes.

The obvious muscle with the skull tattoo on his neck looks about as bright as Crime Alley at three in the morning, so -- no.

The gentleman in the grey suit -- currently writhing because of the arrow jutting from just to the side of his right shoulder blade -- looks like a good prospect... until Tim registers his features and can mark him as Gino "The Terror" Schwartz-Morelli. The man has *always* had far too much to prove to his associates, and would need to be far more injured than Tim is comfortable with before he says a word.

The gentleman in the blue suit is "Pumpkin" Norooz -- a hitter out of Blüdhaven -- and isn't likely to know many of the Giardelli family's secrets. Tim dislocates both of the man's kneecaps and breaks several of the small bones in his hands with his staff -- safety first.

He's honestly *about* to go back to the muscle scattered around and just take what he can get when there's a groan from behind the bar and -- ooh.

Tony "Shakes" Moroni. Distant -- very distant -- cousin to the man who'd first burned Harvey Dent. A lieutenant the last time Tim had checked, recently paroled from a three-year sentence for tax evasion, convicted previously of manslaughter... yes. Tim gestures to Roy to help him take the man out back once he's done zip-stripping. While he waits, Tim gives Moroni his best unnerving blank stare and occasionally prods at the broken shaft of the arrow in the man's thigh.

He ignores the cursing as best as he can, though he has to admit it gains levels of true inspiration once he and Roy start being very mean about hustling the man out the door.

The alley smells of too many different brands of cigarettes to count -- the Giardelli family establishments have all been non-smoking since Vito Giardelli had lost his grip on the business to a fatal case of emphysema two years ago -- and of a surprisingly cheap grade of marinara sauce. Disappointing on a culinary level, but useful in terms of how the tenor of Moroni's complaints change once Roy dumps a trash can full of the stuff on his head --

"Jesus, *what*?"

Tim breaks Moroni's nose, and --

He trusts Roy, but Tim still takes a moment to tear Moroni's pants and check the placement of the arrow in Moroni's thigh before smacking it *hard* with his staff --

The scream does an excellent job of quieting the night in their immediate surroundings, and the shaft is nearly two full inches away from the femoral artery. He could do this --

Well, *not* indefinitely -- that wouldn't do, at all -- but... still.

"You better talk, man. Robin's cranky tonight."

"Ah -- ah -- I can fucking *tell* -- and who *are* you?"

"Me? Oh, I'm Arsenal. I'll be hanging around more often."

"I -- you --" Another scream for the *lighter* smack of the shaft --

He's *not* thinking about shaft-smacking -- "Moroni. You want to talk to me."

"No, I *don't* --"

"You really do," Tim says, and *fakes* a jab with his staff --

"Fuck, please don't do that *again* --"

"I won't. If you tell me what I want to know and -- for fun -- scream nicely when I signal you to do so."

Moroni looks confused for about a minute -- then frowns. "You're going to *pretend* to torture me?"

Tim smiles. "Oh, yes. And you're going to pretend to resist. This way, we both get what we want."

"I didn't want a damned *arrow* in my *thigh* --"

Roy sighs. "So few people do. Still, I'd listen to the kid if I were you."

Moroni narrows his eyes. "What do I get out of this, exactly?"

Tim fakes another jab --

"Jesus, *don't*!"

Tim shakes his head. "You're going to have to sound a lot more defiant than that."

"Brave, even," Roy says.

"I'd like to see *you* being brave with an *arrow* --"

"In his thigh, yes, we understand you, Mr. Moroni," Tim says, and *spins* his staff --

Marinara drips from both of Moroni's earlobes nearly simultaneously --

Tim doesn't laugh. "I'm a reasonable vigilante, Mr. Moroni. I think we can be reasonable together. Think of it this way -- either way? You *will* talk."

Moroni shudders --

And talks.

The Giardellis are *considering* going to war with Tong Shen De -- a tong which, at the moment, is trying to increase its share of the heroin and prostitution trade in Gotham. This would be problematic on a number of levels if the Giardellis weren't still working under a serious leadership vacuum. The 'consideration' has been going on for the better part of two weeks, with any number of family members offering suggestions on when, how, and whether the war should actually occur.

Moroni is of the opinion that a war will get the Giardellis wiped out and *swallowed*, and that enough of the right people know that to keep things reasonably quiet.

All bets are, of course, off if the tong strikes first -- or does more than picking things up piecemeal on the borders of Giardelli territory.

Tim's going to have to brush up on the Mandarin which Tong Shen De members tend to speak to throw off suspicion among the ignorant -- and the Cantonese the *bosses* will speak. He *could* shunt this to Bruce -- who is proficient in an *obscene* number of languages -- but...

It's his intel.

Throughout Moroni's recitation, Tim has him break off to scream obscenities. When Tim judges that he's gotten *enough* information, Tim makes sure that Moroni will have at least one truly spectacular black eye, and several *bruised* ribs.

To Moroni's credit, he understands that part of the game.

Whether or not he understands that he's put his *life* in Tim's hands for the foreseeable future... well.

He will.

"Wait five minutes after we leave to stagger back in. If you spit out some of that marinara contemptuously, you might look that much more believable."

Moroni smiles at him wryly. "*Anything* you say."

Tim shows his teeth.

They fly, and --

It's time.

It's *time* --

He doesn't even know *where* Roy wants to take him --

Bruce had offered him *any* of his living spaces and he -- could take advantage of that. He really, really --

Bruce *wants* him --

Tim growls and veers for the *nearest* rooftop, despite the fact that it gets way too much light --


"I -- wait," Tim says, sticking his landing and just giving himself a moment to breathe.

Roy steps close and rests his hands on Tim's shoulders. "It's okay, little 'mano."

Really, just -- Tim laughs quietly. "It really is ridiculous how easily you can calm me down."

"I won't say ridiculous is my middle name -- that really *is* your big brother -- but I've been around the ridiculous block a few times."

Tim smiles a little helplessly. "Where... do you want to go?"

"Well... we have some options. Not least of which is the safe house Oracle called me up with the address for just before N picked me up tonight."

"Safe... you. It'll be bugged."

Roy raises his eyebrows behind his mask. "So was Matches' place."

"I thought... I thought you wanted someplace private."

"Oh, I really do... but you Bats have *taught* me that privacy is an *entirely* relative thing. Unless you know of someplace that actually *is* clean?"

Tim frowns and looks away. "I'm doing this badly --"

"You're not --"

"I should -- I shouldn't be making you do all the *work* --"

"*What* work?"

"Arsenal --"

"*Rob*. Your life is complicated -- so's mine. Think about it from my perspective, little 'mano -- the *only* objection you've had to coming back to my place, the place where my three-year-old daughter sleeps -- is that it won't give you enough time with me before you have to get back here. I..." Roy smiles and shakes his head. "It's okay. *We're* okay."

"I want -- I want that," Tim says, pushing closer. "I want to be okay with you, and -- better than that. More."

Roy licks his lips. "You got it. Now let me take you someplace *quiet*."

"God, I -- yes."

"And we *will* talk tonight, little 'mano. But not until *after* we release a little... tension."

"Is it. Is it wrong that I'm looking forward to talking with you almost as much... ah. In some ways *as* much --"

Roy's smile softens. "No. No, it really isn't. C'mon."

He lets Roy take point on the bikes, even though they've only ridden ten blocks before Tim knows *which* safe house they're going to. He hadn't done any of the architectural work or decorating, but he had, in fact, planted half of the bugs.


It's an otherwise empty townhouse in the kind of neighborhood which -- when combined with all the work Oracle *had* done on the place -- make the townhouse itself worth at least a million in this housing market. There isn't much in the way of *crime* in this neighborhood -- except for the white-collar things they spend so little time on, relatively, and the occasional marauding Arkhamite -- but, well, it *is* a *safe* house.

He doesn't have to feel guilty for being here.

He doesn't --

He toggles the macro which will update Oracle and Batman --

*Bruce* --

Both of them undoubtedly already knew where he was, but -- now they know better.

They park their bikes in an alley two blocks away and fly. Landing in the wrong place on *this* rooftop could cause tragedy, but Roy doesn't miss his mark and neither does he. Inside --

Inside the vigilante equivalent of a mud room, Roy *lifts* Tim by the hips, shoves him against a wall, and kisses him hard, wet --

*Deep* --

Tim moves to wrap his arms around Roy's neck --

"No. Hands up. Grip your hands together."

Tim grunts for the feel of his penis weighing *in* -- he does it.

Roy nods. "Good boy. Remember -- no questions."

"Yes -- yes, Roy --"

"Still haven't come up with a good name for me when we're playing this game?"

Tim winces -- "I'm -- bad at that. I've never -- um."

Roy nods. "Give me your thoughts," he says, and squeezes Tim's hips *hard*.

"*Oh* -- I. It's not a *game* -- I mean --"

Roy purrs and lifts his chin. "I think you're absolutely right, little 'mano. This is... serious."

"Yes. I. Please --"

"Thoughts. Now."

"S-sir. Or -- master. Or -- um. That's all I have."

Roy smiles and cocks his head to the side. "Daddy would probably be a little much --"

"Oh, God --"

"For *both* of us. So... I suppose you'll just have to keep calling me Roy for now."

Tim licks his lips. "If you -- I don't have to --"

"Scream my name? Yes, you really do," Roy says, leaning in to nuzzle Tim's mouth, lick him, *bite* --

Tim groans and promises himself that he won't use Roy's name unless he *is* screaming, or at least --

"Tilt your head back and *lock* your legs around my hips."

"Oh, God, yes --"

And Roy uses his teeth to open Tim's cape, nuzzles Tim's *throat*. The stubble isn't as severe as it was the first time, but it's still --

The scratch of it --

*Bite* and Tim bucks and shudders, squeezes Roy hard with his thighs --

Roy growls and bites harder --

"Oh -- *Roy* --"

So much for promises. So --

He's as hard as he can *get* in the jock, and that's -- God, he wants to be harder, needier, *more* obvious --

Roy pulls back and the *flood* of blood back to that spot makes Tim gasp, shiver --

"Please -- please, *again* --"

"Was that an order?"

"Oh, God, *no*, I'm sorry --"

Roy growls and squeezes Tim's hips. "On your feet."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut behind the mask and does it, working to stand straight, ready --

"Just for that? You *don't* get your throat sucked tonight."

Tim clenches his hands into fists -- stops. Opens his eyes. "Yes, Roy. I'm sorry."

Roy nods slowly. "Strip, then follow me," he says, and... walks out of the room.

There's a part of Tim's mind which is just -- shouting. Wordlessly. There's a lot of that, and he doesn't --

What is it shouting *for*? What does it *want*? Other than more...


Could it *be* less? Tim smiles to himself. That's a question -- along with *all* the other questions -- that's just going to have to wait. If nothing else, the abrupt stop makes it possible for him to strip himself quickly and efficiently.

He really, really wishes that Roy had done the same. He --

Hm. There had been a fair amount of literature -- and 'literature' -- which suggested that having the dominant partner remain clothed and in some way untouchable could... heighten things.

Tim considers that as he walks through the townhouse, following Roy's...

Well, an empty duffel, boots, pants, and -- thank God -- a used jock is certainly a *kind* of trail --

Tim only pauses by the jock briefly. Only --briefly.

He finds Roy in the bedroom, naked from the waist down, *hard* --

"I -- I would like to suck you, Roy."

Roy grins at him -- and pats his cheek. "You made that clear hours ago. Didn't I already say you would?"

"I -- yes. You did. I'm sorry --"

"Shh, I'll tell you when you need to apologize -- if you don't keep figuring that out for yourself. Still, though -- do you know the real reason why you should be sorry for making that demand?"

"Please. Please tell me. I -- need to be taught."

Roy strokes Tim's cheek with his thumb and narrows his eyes. "That's exactly what we're doing, sugar-boy. The thing is -- when you misbehave? You force me to take things away from *both* of us. I *wanted* your throat tonight."

Tim -- his knees are *shaking* -- "Oh -- oh, I'm sorry --"

"Shh, I know. But you'll do better."

"Yes. Yes, Roy."

"Back to the door."

Tim does it -- and *then* notices the loops hanging from the door. "Oh..."

"Yeah. You know what to do."

Tim stands spread-eagled and closes his eyes --

"No, leave 'em open," Roy says, and starts working the loops -- cuffs -- around Tim's wrists and ankles. "No, this isn't the best set-up -- that's home -- but it works well enough for traveling purposes."

He wants to *ask* --

"Ooh, that's a question in your eyes. Keep it there."

"Yes, Roy."

"Good boy," and Roy crouches to cuff Tim's ankles. The cuffs themselves aren't lined -- the material being something that feels a bit like canvas --

Easy to *wash* --

Roy stands and looks Tim over for a long moment before nodding. "Shuffle forward."

Tim does -- and takes the door with him, though there's a bit of slack for his left wrist --

"*That* won't do." Roy moves to the other side of the door --

And there's no longer any slack at all for Tim's wrists. Tim swallows and tries to tell himself not to think about all the different ways he can escape this, tries to focus on something else, anything *else* --

His hands are shaking --

And Roy steps back around and pushes the door closed, dragging Tim with it.

"Oh -- this --" Tim shakes his head. There's so much he wants to *ask* --

"Oh, I like that look on your face, sugar-boy. It tells me that I'll keep you at *least* as long as it takes to get your questions answered --"

"You -- longer than that. Please."

Roy cocks his head to the side again and smiles... lazily.

"Your smiles. Your smiles are different when we're... doing this."

"Yeah, Donna said the same thing to me once. It's all about headspace, little 'mano," Roy says, and runs his thumbnails down from Tim's shoulders to Tim's nipples --

Tim moans and tries to keep his eyes open, tries -- "Please. I would like to know more."

Roy nods and *pinches* Tim's nipples --

The cuffs around Tim's ankles are too tight to let him stand on his toes --

"*So* pretty," Roy says, leaning in --

The kiss is slow and wet, slow and -- not deep. Not deep enough for Tim to suck Roy's tongue, not deep enough to excuse this groan --

He doesn't need an excuse --

Unless he needs an excuse for all of this.

Tim settles back into himself and takes the kiss Roy is giving, following it a little until he thinks he can understand it, until he's not doing anything but *being* kissed --

It's another kind of being taken. It's --

"*Oh* --"

Roy is pulling Tim's nipples *hard* as he twists them --

"Hurts -- *nnh* --"

"Do you like it?"

"I -- I think my penis. Likes it a lot. Ah --" Tim laughs helplessly and tries and fails to push up on his toes --

Arching forward is *better* --

"Oh -- oh, Roy, please --"

"Please *what*?"

Please don't stop. Please pinch harder. Please -- a lot of *demands* -- "I don't -- I don't know --"

"*That's* a lie," Roy says, and lets *go* --

"Oh, God, I'm *sorry* -- I just -- I couldn't think of how to phrase what I wanted," Tim says, and he's panting, he's -- God, *aching* --


He can feel himself *leaking* -- "Yes. I'm sorry. Please. I don't want to disappoint you any more."

Roy narrows his eyes and smiles again. "You don't disappoint me all that often, sugar-boy."

"It's still -- too much. Please, Roy. Please -- I would like to show you how. How good I can be."

Roy takes a deep breath and cups Tim's throat, squeezing -- gently.

"I love. I love your hands --"

"I love your *throat*. Too bad I can't suck on it tonight --"

"Oh, God, Roy, I'm so *sorry* --"

"Shh, it's okay. You're learning -- and we're learning each other," Roy says, squeezing harder and leaning in to kiss each of Tim's cheeks in turn before turning Tim's head and licking his way into Tim's ear --

"Oh, *Roy*..."

"I have to refuse you more nipple play tonight -- lying is *that* serious an offense, but..."

But? No, no *questions*. Tim pants and -- "Yes. Yes, Roy."

"You hadn't lied to me even a little since early in our *first* date, have you?"

"I -- no --"

"Thought not. Now, there's something you *didn't* tell me that night at casa del tacky. You were talking about how you had that fantasy about Bruce. That... you said something about a terrible *night*..."

"I meant -- responsibility. I. Bruce told me that he's now explicitly training me as his... heir."

Roy winces. "No wonder you need this --"

"I. I need it for a lot of reasons," Tim says, and -- "Oh -- God, I *interrupted* you -- I'm sorry. I just keep --"

"Mistakes happen, little 'mano," Roy says, and bites Tim's earlobe. "That's all right -- you'll pay for all of them."

"Please, yes, please -- I -- I don't think I know how to *do* this right --"

"And right now..." Roy sighs against Tim's earlobe. "Right now you maybe want a nice little lecture, something you can take notes on?"

Tim shudders. "I feel so -- I -- weak --" And the rest of that is a *gurgle* because Roy is choking him, squeezing hard enough that his tongue feels huge, *unwieldy* --

Roy moves to face him. "You're not weak. You're not -- useless, or problematic, or disappointing -- none of that shit."

Tim can't even *nod* --

"You're fucking -- heh," and Roy pushes close, grinding hard against Tim's abdomen --

He's so *slick*, and Tim can't keep his eyes open, now, not all the way --

"You're so good for me, sugar-boy, so sweet and *right*..."

Oh --

"You feel how hard I am for you, baby?"

*Baby* --

"No, don't fight that one. You're an infant to this -- to *everything* that's body-to-body like this, soul to fucking *soul*..."

Blooms of black --

"Everything but the *violence* is new to you, and I could see that, could practically *taste* it at your house -- fuck, Tim, you deserve so much *more* --

"Please," Tim mouths, but he doesn't know what he's begging for, what --

"Do you *know* what you're asking for? *Think* about it," Roy says, and eases his grip --

Tim gasps -- does it again and shakes, again --

He forces himself to stop --

Roy *strokes* Tim's throat and chest, cups his cheek --

Tim tries to *focus* -- and Roy is right there waiting, wanting an answer --

Maybe *needing* an answer --

He can give. "You. I'm asking for you. I'm asking to -- to be taught how to be good for you, because that's what I want more than anything else. Not -- I won't say it doesn't have anything to do with... with the pressures I'm under. I -- what Bruce did to me to *make* me ready for this kind of training -- no, that's not important --"

"It is. But -- not right now. Now we'll leave it with 'fucked with your head royally,' because *that* much I can guess."

"I -- yes," Tim says, and catches himself nodding like an idiot -- he stops. "I'm asking for more, and I -- it feels so good with you, Roy. It's -- you're what I *want*, and I don't know how else to say it, and I want -- please make me good --"

"You --" Roy squeezes his eyes shut for a moment and swallows. "Bruce never gave you a chance to say this to him."

Tim smiles ruefully. "No. And Dick didn't, either, but -- you're not third best. Ah -- if that's what you're thinking."

Roy grins *softly* and pinches two fingers together. "Maybe a little. I can't make you into a little vigilante machine. I'm never gonna be your brother --"

"You. You can be another. Kind of family. Or -- if you want -- *mmph* --"

This kiss is -- it's everything he wants in this *moment*. It's almost brutally hard -- Roy had cupped the back of Tim's head just before slamming him back with the force of the kiss --

Oh, so *deep*, and Roy's stubble scratches, blinds, makes --

Tim wants so *much*, and it's good to only be able to moan, to know that he *can't* mess this up, that he can *give* --

So good so *good* --

Better when Roy starts biting his lips between delving in with his tongue --

Better when he's mussing Tim's hair, gripping the *back* of Tim's neck --

"*Want* you, Roy, want -- I want to be *used* --"

Roy growls and pulls *back* --

"Oh, God, *please* --"

"*Easy*," Roy says, and his voice is rough, *curt* --

"Yes. Yes, Roy."

Roy scrubs a hand down over his face. "It should be -- it's not enough to know that I'm taking advantage of you --"

"You're *not* --"

"*Quiet* -- until I say different," Roy says, and looks at him --

Tim nods, biting his lip hard and looking for the indentations of *Roy's* teeth --

"I wonder -- I think, maybe, that Kal had some of these feelings about *me* --" Roy stops himself with a laugh. "No, *Kal* didn't. But Clark pretty much had to." Roy shakes his head. "You're perfect, little 'mano. And I'm gonna give you *everything*."

Tim nods *helplessly* --

"I -- am gonna give it to *both* of us," Roy says, turning around and moving toward the mostly-shadowed left side of the bed. He turns on the lamp on the night table --

And Tim has to bite down *hard* to keep from making a noise. Just --

A bottle of STARslide.

Three different anal plugs.

A paddle.

And a multi-tailed whip.

Roy picks up the paddle and glares at it before tossing it aside. "Not this tonight," he says, and picks up the lubricant, the medium-sized plug, and the whip, moving them closer to the foot of the bed before setting down the whip again. He takes a deep breath and turns to look at him. "You can talk again."

"I -- you're not taking advantage of me. I'm not. I don't think I'm ignorant enough for that. Or -- I hope I'm not."

"Yeah? All right. I'll go with *just* that," and Roy brings the plug and lubricant over. "Open your mouth wide."

Tim does --

And Roy slips the plug inside.

Tim *can't* keep a noise back for that --

"Oh, don't worry. It's *brand* new. I bought it just for you. Right now, you're getting it warm in your mouth so that you won't clench too much when I push it in. Cant your hips forward."

Tim does *that* and watches Roy slick his fingers -- *stares* at Roy's fingers --

"You can guess what's gonna happen, can't you?"

Tim nods -- and realizes that he's *sucking* on the plug --

"Yeah. The worst *that* whip -- it's called a scourge, by the way -- will do to you in *my* hands is leave you with some welts that will fade over a day or two. Of course... it won't *feel* that minor while I'm using it on you."

Tim moans --

"Think of it..." Roy sighs, reaching between Tim's legs --

Pushing between Tim's *cheeks* -- and Tim is tensing hard to keep himself from bucking, to keep himself from ruining Roy's aim --

He *can't* ruin Roy's aim --

"That's right, baby. Hold yourself nice and still for me..."

Tim nods --

And the *push* of Roy's fingers makes him shake so hard --

So *much* --

Just -- he's never *had* Roy's fingers inside him while he's been tied up, and the fact that they've only made love in the same room once is meaningless, thinking it is *churlish* --

Roy sighs. "So hot inside. So... mm. See, I was gonna tell you about headspace, about how this stuff is no good if you're not in the right state of mind for it, if you're not ready enough, willing enough, and *able* enough to take yourself right down to where everything is true and real... but you send yourself right down into it so *sweet*..." Roy licks his lips and shakes his head. "You know how to give and you know how to take. You know how to open yourself up. You're *strong* enough to open yourself up for me, strong enough to *trust* me. You *know*, and I don't know if it was that reading you did or just *instinct*, but -- you're working me, little 'mano."

He wants -- a part of him wants to *apologize* for that, but moaning has to be enough --

He's starting to *drool*, and something about the feel --

The fact? He's clenching rhythmically around Roy's fingers and hoping, *wanting* --

Roy sighs again and licks Tim's collarbone. "I'm gonna whip you while you have the plug in your ass."

Tim nods and hums, clenches *harder* --

"I'm gonna *hurt* you, Tim."

Tim bucks his *hips* --

"Yeah. You're gonna love it. And you're gonna show me how *much* you love it. Understood?"

Tim nods and -- he can't actually stop himself from *trying* to say 'yes, Roy,' with the plug in his mouth --

Roy purrs. "You look so good to me, baby. Like you're *ready* to be used," Roy says, and starts thrusting faster, spreading his fingers --

Tim whimpers and nods again, more --

"God, so pretty with that flush on your face, spilling down right past your nipples... I can't wait until you're screaming for me."

*Don't* wait, don't -- no, he can't make *demands* --

"Look how hungry you are for this... mm. You could turn anyone into a dom for you --  *just* so they could get to see that look on your face... no, keep your eyes open. Keep lookin' *right* at me... yeah. You won't be able to keep your eyes open while I'm whipping you -- I won't let you -- so I need all of this that I can get."

Yes -- "*Mm* --"

"Now, the question is... what are we gonna do when I'm spanking you after?"

Tim's *eyes* roll back --

"No, no, *focus*," Roy says, crooking his fingers in emphasis -- and pushing the plug back in when Tim can't keep himself from shouting.

He's so *sorry* --

But Roy looks so *pleased*.

It's *not* that he can't do any of this wrong -- there are *rules* -- it's just that the rules are so light, so relatively easy to follow if he just -- focuses.

Roy purrs. "That look. That one right there. The one that says that you're here and *nowhere* else."

He wouldn't want to *be* anywhere else --

And Roy smiles like he'd heard that and possibly much, much more. "You're not pretty -- you're beautiful like this. Open for me, willing, *wanting* --"

Tim tries to push his hips forward *more* --

"No, not that, sugar-boy, you're clenching too much."

Tim nods and eases back --

And has to moan when Roy pushes even *deeper*, somehow --

Before pulling out.

"Now," he says, taking the plug out and slicking it lightly and quickly. "This one is about as thick as my cock. I *thought* I'd want to stretch you a little tonight, but... no. I'm not making us wait that long."

Tim nods -- stops. "Yes, Roy."

"Ready for me?"

"Please -- I mean. Yes --"

Roy smiles, leaning in slow --

And pushes the plug in *as* he's pushing in with his tongue. The feel --

Tim feels himself relaxing all over, feels himself being filled --

*Stuffed* --

He groans and shudders --

He *fights* against the need to clench --

And the widest part of the plug seems to almost *pop* its way in, making Tim grunt and shudder again, pant against Roy's moving *mouth* --

He feels so *warm* --

"Beautiful," Roy says, and licks the sensitive skin beneath Tim's eyes. "I think I wanna make you cry for me."

Oh -- that --

"It's -- heh. To be honest? It would make me a little paranoid. Nobody should be brought to tears unless you *know* you can be right there to hold them, comfort them, *be* with them..."

"Anything -- I -- I'll do anything --"

"Does it hurt yet? Inside?"

He's -- really not talking about the plug. Tim swallows and forces himself to think about it, to really consider what he *is* feeling other than at least as aroused as he ever has been and in *need* --

That --

"Need. Need always hurts," Tim says, trying and failing to shift on his feet.

Roy nods. "I hear that. Sometimes... sometimes it can be a pretty *literal* ache, yeah?"

"Yes. Yes, Roy. In my -- my hands, and my thighs. Everywhere. Everywhere I'm not being touched."

Roy narrows his eyes and purses his lips just slightly. "Where you feelin' it now?"

Tim groans and tilts his head back -- stops. "My. My throat. My palms. My -- penis."

Roy grins and cocks his head. "You absolutely never think the word 'dick,' do you?"

"Ah -- when I'm thinking about you, I occasionally think the word 'cock.' Being around Bruce for the past three years have made other sorts of speech... impossible."

"That's completely fair. Remember -- make as much noise as you want," Roy says, patting Tim's cheek and stepping back.

He looks over the whip -- the *scourge* -- thoroughly, examining each tail for --

Tim has no idea what he's looking for. Just --

The plug in his ass feels huge except when he can keep himself from clenching, when it just feels *heavy*. His nipples are stiff and sore and *neglected*. His throat is cold. He's hard and, yes, *aching* --

And he has no idea *where* Roy is planning to use the scourge on him. And that --

"I. We don't. Have a safeword."

Roy smiles -- not at him. "Nope. How much is that bothering you right now?"

"Well --"

Roy strikes out with the scourge and the tails snap in the air --

Tim's penis *twitches* -- "I. Am not sure. I think. I don't. I want to be *good* --"

"Then keep doing *exactly* what you're doing, Tim. We're gonna have a great time," Roy says, bundling the tails and taking the tips of them into his mouth.

*Wetting* them --

There's so much Tim wants to *ask* --

"I. Please, Roy. Please hurt me."

Roy nods and smiles with the tails in his mouth... and then he reaches down and squeezes his own penis, strokes through the slickness --

"I want you -- oh, *please* --"

Roy shakes his *head*, pulling out the tails with a wet and almost *slapping* sound. "You're starting to think you want to get this over with. *That's* no good, little 'mano."

"I'm sorry --"

"I know. I'll make it easy on you: focus on what you think the whip will feel like on your skin. On the sounds you think you'll make. And? On how much you're turning me on by being *this* much of a good boy."

Tim pants, nods -- "Yes -- yes, please, please, I'll do that, I promise --"

"Close your eyes."

For a moment he *can't*. Just -- first he can't remember *how*, and then --

He wants to *see* Roy, to be able to *anticipate* --

"If I have to blindfold you, I'll be *very* disappointed."

Tim groans and *squeezes* his eyes shut --

"That's right. That's *just* right --"

And it's sound more than anything else, more --

That was over his *ribs* --

That *cracking* sound --

Oh, his thigh, and that -- he shouldn't -- he has to --

"Keep *breathing*, Tim."

Tim gasps and fights against the urge to open his eyes, against the *need* to touch where he's been -- been *whipped* --

Some of the scars on Bruce's back look like --

"*Ah* --"

"First sound for your arm, hunh? Interesting," Roy says, and the *feel* of the shadows changes --

"Oh, *God* --"

Roy is *biting* Tim's arm, holding the flesh between his teeth and *pulling* --

Growling --

And stroking Tim with the scourge. Just -- his chest, his underarm, his hip --

Roy stops biting and -- kisses Tim's eyelids. "Relax."

"I'm -- not sure I *can*."

Roy strokes Tim's cheek with the scourge --

Tim shivers --

"Breathe. Nice and slow."

"All right," Tim says, and uses the first breathing exercise he'd ever learned -- in the karate dojo his parents had paid for him to attend. It was good enough that Bruce hadn't trained him out of it, and -- maybe this is how it should be.

Maybe --

*Bruce* isn't here. Right?

Tim smiles ruefully --

"Ooh, what's that for?" Roy strokes Tim's *mouth* with the scourge.

"Ah -- the turn of my thoughts --"


Tim smiles a little wider. "Unfortunately. I -- it started when I got an image in my mind of some of the scars on his back."

Roy laughs. "*Whip* scars?"

"They *look* that way -- from not very far a distance, at all. It's certainly possible that some of them *are*, considering how thin the first Batsuits were --"

"And the *kind* of crazy you have running around this town, yeah," Roy says, and *wraps* the tails of the whip around Tim's *penis* --

"*Oh* --"

"How's that feel?"

"*Intimidating* --"

"As well it should, little 'mano. The first *hit* here is gonna shock you, maybe the next one, too. After that..."

He can't ask. He can't *ask* -- Tim breathes --

And Roy kisses him softly, *sweetly* -- pulls back.

"I want. A part of me is thinking about how long it will be before I can see you again --"

"Wednesday afternoon, little 'mano. You can do it."

"Yes. I -- yes, Roy --"

"Now," Roy says, taking his shadow with him --

*Tugging* on Tim's penis with the whip until the tails almost seem to *slither* from around him --

"Just like that --"

*Crack* -- for his right shoulder --

His left thigh --

The left side of his torso --

His left *shoulder* --

He can't -- he can't --

The *sound*, and the hits come so fast, so --

He's *writhing* --

"*Don't* stop moving," Roy says, and then --

Tim *screams* for the first hit to his penis and scrotum, but Roy was right -- it *is* more of a shock than anything else --

More --

"Oh, *fuck* --"

"That for your nipple? Okay, then," Roy says, and of course he isn't winded or breathless or anything like that, but --

"So -- so casual -- *ah* --"

"Is that what you think, little 'mano? Think this is nothing for me?"

"I -- I don't --" *No*. "It seems that way, please -- oh, please --"

And the hits come fast and *hard*, moving up and down Tim's front --

One hit to the top of his right *foot* --

And Tim is screaming again, arching and *jerking*, because that felt like *heat* on his penis, like a lash of *fire* --

"*That's* what this is for me, Tim. Every hit. Every *strike* -- right to the cock currently reaching for my belly and spattering pre-come all over this pretty little rug."

"Oh -- oh, *God*, Roy --"

"Is it a tease, yet?"

"*Yes* --"

"Then take it," Roy says, and just --

He's working Tim *over*, and there's no way to stop moving, stop struggling to offer his side -- no, Roy wouldn't *want* that. He'd tied Tim this way for a reason, is *holding* him this way --

Oh --

Oh --

The ropes are just because Roy *can't* hold Tim with his body while he's doing this. He wants to, though, he needs to --

"Roy, *please* --"

"Please *what*."

"I don't want to make demands! I just -- I just want to beg -- beg for more --"

"Then do it, little 'mano," and Roy grunts --

Another hit to his penis, and this time -- God, Tim is *leaking* more, wanting --

Right now, his penis needs *contact* and somehow the whip counts, somehow --

But Roy *said* he could beg --

"Oh, please, Roy, my penis, my penis again --"

"Beg more," Roy says, and the shadows change again --

He's coming closer and Tim has to clench --

Has to *shout*, because the *shift* of the plug inside him, the feeling of being stretched without being fucked --

His skin is *stinging*, more with each drop of sweat --

"*Now*," Roy says, and his breath is on Tim's lips --

"Please hurt me, Roy, please hurt my penis, please whip me there, please --"

And the kiss this time is hard enough that it feels almost like another strike, almost -- no, it's a *kiss*, because Roy wanted it, *needed* it, and Roy should always have what he needs, Roy should never have to *wait*, and Tim wants to *say* that, wants to be able to do more than moan and buck and not be able to get close *enough* --

He can't even make himself make the kiss a *good* one and --

And that sound was a *sob* --

Roy pulls back --

"Please, *please* --" But the rest is just a needy *grunt*, because Roy is stroking Tim's penis, calluses finding everywhere the whip-tails bit, fingers so *deft* --

"Make that noise again."

"*Roy* --"

"You know the one I want. You can *feel* it in you --"

"Oh, God, I don't know *how*, and I don't want to disappoint you, I don't want to make this -- make this *bad* --"

"Then cry," Roy says, and his voice is both rough and *reasonable* as he strokes Tim faster, *harder* --

"I -- I think -- I think I need to be hurt more --"

"No. You never cry for that. Not you, Robin."

Tim *wails* because it's true --

"Oh... Tim. I'm gonna fuck you *so* hard..."

"*Please*, Roy --"

"After you give me *everything* I want. And I think..." Roy purrs. "Open your eyes."

"Oh -- yes --"

"Pretty baby. Mm." Roy's eyes are hard, *hot* -- "You never cry at all -- if you can help it. You don't think you deserve that right, do you?"

"I -- I *don't* --"

"You do if I say so. That's all you need to know," Roy says, and holds the whip up in front of Tim's face. "Bite the ends of the tails. The *very* ends."

"Oh. Oh..." Tim stretches his neck forward and does it, tasting leather and salt. It feels like --

It *is* the next best thing to having Roy in his mouth, and he's moaning for that even more than he is for the hand on his penis or the plug in his ass. Or all the places where his skin is just *yelling* at him with confusion and pain and *hunger* --

"This," and Roy loops the tails around Tim's *throat*. The handle sticks against Tim's pulse point --

Tim pants and gets nothing, nowhere --

"You know what I want."

Tim tries to lick his lips, but his tongue feels too large again, too *clumsy* -- "Yes," he mouths, and does his best to make his expression say everything he's feeling, everything he needs --

"Give it to me, Tim."

He can't. He has to. He *can't* --

"*Don't* disappoint me again."

And for that he wants to wail, *needs* to wail, but -- he can't.

"You *know* what I *want*."

He can't wail and he can't talk and he can't *breathe*. He's so hard that it feels like Roy could make him come at any moment, even with those slow and *painful* strokes --

Especially with those --

And he's full with the wrong *thing*. He needs *Roy* inside him, needs *Roy's* hand on his throat --

He can't have it. He can't --

If he comes too soon, he *will* disappoint Roy --

"Oh, you're so close to where you need to be, baby. So close I can *taste* it. Give me what I *want*."

He can't --

He just wants to be good at *something*, right for -- no, just for Roy, just for this *moment* and everything else he can *have* --

*Please* -- he doesn't know who he's begging, what he's begging *for* --

"Surrender, Tim. Surrender to *me*."

Oh. Oh, he just --

If he gives up --

Bruce isn't here to *be* disappointed, and he can --

Oh, he can -- 

And the sound -- the sound is so strange, so -- he doesn't know where it's *coming* from --

And then the whip hits the floor with a quiet thump and Tim realizes that he's gasping. That he's -- sobbing.

Crying, he's --

Crying and *clenching* --

Crying and thrusting into Roy's *fist*, and it's so hard to focus on him through -- through the *tears*, but Tim can see that his eyes are wide, that his lips are parted --

"Oh, Tim, I -- oh, baby, that's just right, that's --" Roy groans and shakes his head, leans in --

The kiss is hard to hold onto with the way his head is moving, with the way his whole *body* is moving, trying for more and getting it, trying for less and *not* getting it --

Roy groans again -- right into Tim's *mouth*--

And Tim's shouting, jerking --

His ass is *burning* with how hard he's clenching --

Coming. He's coming, and he has to scream for it, wail for it, jerk and twist --

"Oh, no, *please* --"

"Easy," Roy says, stepping back and lifting the whip again, and it feels like everything is in slow motion, feels --

He's still *coming* --

And this time, when the whipping starts --

When Roy hits him everywhere the whip can *reach* --

Tim feels himself ejaculate *again*, but it doesn't stop, it *won't* stop --

"*Good* boy, such a good -- oh, Tim, you --"

Roy growls and strikes for Tim's penis *hard* --

And Tim's scream cracks in the middle as he feels himself spasm and clench *again* --

Black --

Somewhere outside there is movement, or --

Black --

A voice saying *something*, and it sounds fervent, *important*. He has to --

Black --

And this time there is weight, and that's even more -- isn't he supposed to fight? But he's pinned, and that means he has to think, and also --

Something --

Tim opens his eyes -- and Roy is staring down at him. His eyes are still wide, and his lips are so --

They almost look *bitten* --


"Right here, little 'mano. You feelin' me, yet?"

"I -- on me. Over me. You're... covering me," Tim says, and his voice sounds dreamy to his own ears, almost drugged --

"I sure am. You tell me when it gets to be too much."

That -- Tim smiles. "I'm not sure what 'too much' means at the moment, Roy."

Roy smiles back. "You did... beautifully. Just perfect. You know that, don't you?"

Tim frowns --

"Nuh-uh. Do not say a *word* about how I did all the work. You gave it *up* to me. Every little inch of you was all mine."

"Still. I still --" Tim shivers and tries to *just* blink as opposed to drifting away again. It's a little uncomfortable to breathe.

He doesn't *want* for it to be comfortable to breathe, because that means Roy would've *moved* --

"Yours, Roy. I -- never. Never like that."

Roy sighs and strokes up from Tim's wrists until he can twine his fingers with Tim's. "That was incredible. *You* were incredible, I -- God, I want you."

Tim inhales sharply and tries to spread his legs for Roy, tries --

"Easy, easy. We're not there, yet."

Tim surprises himself by *whimpering* --

"Oh, baby, I --" Roy kisses him and *rocks* against him, thrusting against Tim's thigh --

Tim moans and *shakes*. He wants it to be better, he has to make it *better* --

Roy kisses him *harder*, squeezing Tim's hands and grinding, thrusting *more* --

Break --

"There is no single way I can think of -- there's nothing I won't do with you, to you, *for* you --"

"*Roy* --"

"You need to be hard again --"

Tim's penis *twitches* -- "Oh, *fuck* --"

"Oh, *yeah*," Roy says, grinning down at him. "*Good* boy. Stay still."

"Yes -- yes, Roy --"

Roy kisses his mouth briefly, then *pecks* Tim's throat --

Tim whimpers again, but Roy still only gives his nipples brief *touches* of his lips before scraping his teeth down Tim's abdomen --

Tim's hands *twitch* with the need to cup Roy's shoulders, the back of his head, to stroke, pet, squeeze --

He stays still.

He stays *still* --

Roy *breathes* on the head of Tim's penis and Tim twitches again, whimpers *again* --


"That didn't sound too eager, little 'mano," Roy says, and there's a light *dancing* behind his eyes. "Afraid of a little pain?"

And -- yes, that *would* be just that ridiculous right now. Tim smiles ruefully. "Ah -- yes, I was. I'm all better now, though."

"*All* better...?"

Tim smiles. "Um... you could consider... trying me."

Roy purrs -- and *licks* the head of Tim's penis --

"*Oh* --"

"I'm considering, all right. I'm considering how *many* different ways I can make you scream."

"Oh, God --"

"Be ready, little 'mano," Roy says, and just --

Swallows --

So *tight*, and Tim can feel everywhere the scourge touched him, everywhere that *had* been screaming in joy when he was coming, everywhere Roy's *mouth* is --

Working him --

*Forcing* him, and it's exactly like being *driven* toward arousal, ridden like some --

Some --

Roy pulls back just enough that the head slips out of his throat and *hums* --

"Roy, *please*, it -- too much -- no. No, I didn't mean that. I didn't -- oh, my God, so --"

*Teeth*, and Tim doesn't know if it's a punishment or *not* -- no. The light is still in Roy's eyes, the --

It's happiness. Roy is *happy* with him, pleased and amused even as he does what may or may *not* be his best to suck Tim's brain out of his *penis*. Just --

Tim's *eyes* are crossing, but -- oh, God --

"I wasn't supposed to sit up -- oh, God, I'm *sorry* --"

Roy makes the *stop* gesture and keeps sucking, licking, *pressing* --

"Roy, you feel so *good*..."

Roy narrows his eyes -- and swallows Tim again. This time, Tim *has* to drop back down to the bed, has to --

He has to focus, because if he doesn't he'll start lifting his hips, bucking for this, fucking Roy's mouth --

The image --

Tim growls his way into a *scream* --

*Break* --

"*Ohn* -- oh, *Roy* -- "

"Shh. That's better, isn't it?"

Tim suspects he looks incredulous. "I don't seem to actually be capable of that kind of *value* judgment, Roy."

Roy *grins* -- shakes his head. "Virgin. What am I gonna *do* with you?"

"I... am still pinning my hopes on 'everything.' Prayerfully multiple times."

"Candle wax?"

"All right."


"If you'd like, I --"


Tim blinks. "I -- I presume we're talking about... ah... rods for insertion in the penis?"

Roy smiles, gripping Tim's thighs and spreading them --

"Oh, that's -- ah. In the interest of full disclosure..."


"Doing that is an excellent way to convince me of any number of things," Tim says, licking his lips and just *testing* his strength against Roy's own --

Roy presses harder --

Tim moans --  "Ah -- I. I'm more than willing to try. I would like to know if you like it."

"Depends on my mood, really. Sometimes that much urethral and prostate stimulation is a little too much, sometimes it's exactly the right *kind* of too much."

"I would... like to know if you did that with -- Kal."

Roy smiles and stands up, stripping off the upper part of his uniform --

The rings in his nipples tonight are *thicker* -- "Oh, that's -- you -- you're so beautiful, Roy..."

Roy lifts the rings on his fingertips and lets them drop. "I save these for the times when I want to drive myself a little bit crazy. They make taking hits to the chest pretty damned problematic, but..." Roy grins at him again and *tugs* on his rings. "Your chest armor protects you from pretty much everything. If I pierced you, I'd have you wear a chain between them as soon as the piercings were healed enough to handle that."

Tim licks his lips and thinks about it --

Tries to think about it --

Tries to think of a way to *express* any of the thoughts in his mind... he's left with smiling ruefully and shaking his head. "I can't imagine it."

Roy raises his eyebrows. "Not even a little? Your nipples can take -- and enjoy -- a whole lot of punishment."

"It's not that," Tim says, and raises his eyebrows before slowly and carefully sitting up on his elbows --

"That's fine. I like what that position does for your abs."

Tim blushes -- and that's just *ridiculous* --

"Such a pretty boy... mm. Answer the question," and Roy takes himself in hand again and starts stroking *slowly*.

Tim feels his mouth falling open -- talk. He can talk. And stare. "I learned how to work through varying levels of sexual arousal years ago, but to have something... something *driving* me that way at all times... I don't know if I could take it," and Tim forces himself to meet Roy's eyes again. "I -- still want to try."

Roy smiles ruefully. "Look at me, already planning to give you permanent accessories..." Roy sighs and shakes his head. "We can at least wait on that. As for your earlier not-quite-question... mmm... I wound up doing all kinds of things with Kal. He has one hell of an imagination... and an AI that can *make* toys and other things almost as quickly as Kal tells it to do so. Ever think about him?"

"I -- know nothing about Kal other than what you've told me and the few things I've been able to infer from Bruce. Clark... I've thought about him, yes. Mostly... um. About sucking him off."

Roy narrows his eyes and squeezes himself hard. "What happens if I order you to let him do you? *Whatever* he wants to do."

"*Unh* -- ah. Apparently... I like that idea. I just -- well. It's hard to imagine him having that kind of interest. Even though he's already -- possibly -- made a pass. I would. I think I would want you to... be there."

Roy squeezes himself again -- and lets go. "Clench around that plug in your ass."

"Oh -- yes. I -- I'm doing it --"

"Hold yourself that way," Roy says, and climbs back onto the bed, settling himself next to Tim with his back against the headboard. "Crawl over my lap. And keep clenching."

Tim moans and does it. The trick is to just --

Moving feels like being fucked even as he tries to get *away* --

He -- is already shaking again. Already --

"Is that for the spanking you're about to get? Or something else?"

"It --" Tim lowers himself carefully and tries not to just *rub* himself against the erection pressed to his side -- "I was thinking... about being forced."

Roy takes a deep breath and settles one hand on the back of Tim's neck. "Forced to do what?"

"Ah -- to be fucked. I don't. It didn't feel like... like rape."

Roy strokes Tim's ass with his free hand. "Nothin' wrong with a rape fantasy. I know all kinds of heroes who use fantasies like those to get them through the night."

He -- he wants to *ask*, but -- "I -- all right. I've thought about. I've thought about Bruce forcing me. Sometimes I beg. Sometimes I beg him to stop and he. Does it harder."

Roy lifts his *hips* -- "You wanna play that game, Tim?"

Tim squeezes his eyes shut -- stops. "I don't -- I'm not sure. I don't think I'm capable of saying no. I mean -- not in more than token protest."

"Stop clenching," Roy says, and, when Tim does, he strokes a line down Tim's cleft --

Tim moans and tries to lift into the touch --

"Good boy," and Roy *shoves* on the plug --

"*Roy* --"

"There's a trick to playing that kind of game -- for me, anyway," and Roy holds the plug in deep *while* gripping the back of Tim's neck rhythmically. "It's all about getting yourself hot enough before the main event that you *can* take just about anything... while also pushing yourself down. Making yourself a body more than a person. Making yourself *useable*. Now that sounds like sub-space, but it's not, quite. Not for me. See, there's this thing that has to be able to fight, has to be able to hold onto some *objection* -- even if it's only 'no, not *yet*.' Do you understand?"

"There are... fewer objections in sub-space, I think. For me. Or -- no. I think... Roy, you feel so good --"

"Shh, concentrate, baby. This is important."

"Yes. I -- yes, I'm sorry --"

"Keep going," Roy says, and squeezes the back of Tim's neck hard enough that it's hard to even *imagine* moving --

But he can focus. "The -- in sub-space... um. The objections are ultimately unimportant."

"Just that, yeah. Whereas when you're getting yourself good and *raped*... the objection *has* to be important. Even if you have to elevate it to importance yourself."

And that is... interesting on all of the levels Tim's penis isn't *obliterating*. "I can't help but think... of the lack of safeword."

Roy laughs quietly and starts to use the plug to *fuck* Tim --

"Oh -- oh -- please --"

"Shh, shh. In my best rape fantasies, I'm the one on my hands and knees. I can -- and do -- fantasize about finding places you don't want to go and *convincing* you to go there..."

"Anywhere. I -- please, Roy, I want to be *taken* --"

"I know, sugar-boy. And if I were raping you, you wouldn't even have to hate yourself for giving in -- because it would all be forced out of you. It's better for both of us when you walk right into your own cock-ly execution. When you strip *yourself*. When you... give it up."

"For you --"

"For *yourself*, Tim. Remember -- you've got a soul to save."

Tim pants and tries to think about something other than the plug in his ass, the position --

Such a *shameful* position, so --

"I'm not -- I can't be *weak* --"

"What can be stronger than facing your own emotions, baby? Your own *terrors*?"

"But if there's nothing *wrong* with the rape fantasy --"

"It's --" Roy sighs and turns Tim's head to the side, moving his hand from the back of Tim's neck to his mouth. "Suck my fingers."

"*Mm* --"

"Good boy. Rape fantasies... are all well and good until you make them into a place where you can hide from yourself. Until you start using them for false catharsis, *cheap* catharsis..." Tim can see Roy shaking his head out of the corner of his eye. "Until you start telling yourself that being dragged along and used is the same thing as connecting to another person... and connecting *with* yourself. Nod if you understand."

Tim *starts* to nod, but... he has to shake his head. He doesn't think he *does* understand. Not -- not yet.

He wants to.


"That's okay, baby. I promise I'll do everything I can to help you work it out. I won't -- I'm not gonna let you go until you need me to do just that."

The *fear* for that --

Tim groans and shudders --

Tim tries not to thrust against Roy's thigh --

"Right here. Now," Roy says, and --

He doesn't start slow. He doesn't start *gentle*. Just -- one slap after another, bare fingers and half-gloves, leather and skin and *leather* again until Tim is groaning around Roy's fingers --

Trying and *failing* to suck --

Roy takes his fingers *away* --

"Oh, *no* --"

Hand back on the back of his neck, and Roy forces Tim's face to the bed, Roy doesn't even *pause* --

One hit after another after *another*, and Roy has hard hands, strong hands --

He's never *been* spanked before, and suddenly that's profound, important --

"Roy -- *Roy* --"

"That's right, keep taking it, Tim, keep -- nn. Make as much noise as you *want*," Roy says, spanking him *harder* --

*Faster* --

"Hurts -- Roy --"

"Spread your *legs* --"

"Ah -- yes, yes, Roy --"

And then Tim is shouting, yelling --

It's not quite a scream, it's not --

He doesn't have to --

Those spanks to his scrotum *have* to be lighter than the others, have to -- don't they?

Tim can *feel* his skin getting hotter, and -- he must be getting so *red*, and --

"Oh, please, please, *please* --"

"Right here, baby. Giving you what you *need*."

"*Yes*, Roy --"

"What you *deserve*."

"Bad. I'm -- you have to *punish* me --"

"No, baby, this isn't punishment," Roy says, and he *stops* --

Strokes Tim's hypersensitized flesh with his *calluses* -- "*Roy* --"

"This is *taking* you where you need to go. Learn that," Roy says, and *scratches* his way across Tim's cheeks --

Tim cries *out* --


"*Please*, Roy, please don't stop, please show me, teach me --"

"*More*," Roy says, scratching harder --

"Oh, God, I can't, it's too -- no, I can take it, I can -- I can be good --"

"That's right..."

"I can be what you *need* --"

"You already are, sugar-boy. *More*."

"Please *hurt* me --"


"Use me, show me -- show me how I can be better, Roy, please don't leave me like this, please don't *leave* --"

Roy *growls* --

"I'm *sorry* --"

"Keep *going*," Roy says, and lifts his hand away --

"I want -- I want to be *yours*, and I'll do anything, I'll *be* anything -- I -- make me, make me your whore --"

"Fucking -- *Tim*," and Roy's voice is fervent, his tone is hard and *rough* --

And this time when the spanking starts again, all Tim can think about is how he must look, how --

He's jerking, writhing, trying to arch into the slaps, trying to make it even harder, more *painful* --

He can't stop *moving* -- every part of him save for his head and neck is just --

He can't --

"*Roy*..." And that was almost another wail, almost --

Will he cry again? Could he take that?

Would Roy *like* it?

Do children ever -- is this what it feels like to be spanked by a *parent*? Knowing --

"So -- so *helpless* --"

"*Mine*," Roy says, and this slap to his scrotum makes Tim *howl* --

The next slap makes him do it *again* --

"*Mine*, Tim, *say* it --"

"Yours, I'll be yours, I *am* yours, I -- I want you so badly --"

"*What* do you want?"

"Fuck me! Fuck me hard, fuck me until -- until you make me cry again, force me -- *hngh* --"

Hand around his *throat* again and Roy is squeezing, *lifting* Tim's head and forcing --

Spanking --

Spanking Tim so *hard*, and now Tim's thighs are yelling almost as much as his ass is, now --

Oh, he's clenching around the plug again, fucking *himself* with it and it's not enough, it's not *enough* --

He knows what he could be *having* --

And then he's lost to it, to the image of Roy bending him over and *shoving* in, scraping Tim raw and giving him pain to go with the pleasure, pain to make all the pleasure real --

More real -- or. No, it doesn't have to be that way. It doesn't --

Black --

And Tim is gasping and getting nowhere, no *air* --

Tim is fighting and writhing more, grinding helplessly against Roy's thigh and needing, needing so *much* --

So much of what he's *getting* at last, at *last* --

Roy loosens his grip *slightly* -- and turns his attention back to Tim's scrotum. Just --

"So *fast* --"

"For *you*, Tim."

"What -- what I *deserve* --"

"*Yes*," Roy says and squeezes Tim's throat again --

Tim is shaking now, shuddering all over, spasming *randomly* --

"*Don't* come."

No, he won't, he can do that, control himself, be *good* --

Oh, but this is -- all of his body is pain and *pleasure*, need and *answer* --

Roy stops spanking him --

Roy *twists* the plug and pushes it up against --

Tim's prostate --

He can't scream. He can't come. He can't --

Loosened grip and he *is* screaming, tossing his head and trying to stay still everywhere else --

Trying --

"How long can you keep from coming?"

He can't -- Tim groans. "It -- not. Not long, oh, *please*, Roy -- *no* --"

Roy moves *both* of his hands and Tim is *free* --

Too *free* --

"Suck me. *Just* like you want to."

Oh, God, *yes*, but when Tim tries to move he finds himself clumsy, distracted by all the twinges and stings --

*Shaking* --

*Leaking* --

He keeps moving, and he suspects he looks like an elderly man with a neurological disorder, but he still gets himself between Roy's legs, still --

Oh, he's so *hard*, and it's -- for him.

For hurting him, for touching him, for making him *cry* --

The *power* --

The power of surrender. Tim smiles up at Roy and wraps his hand around the base. Roy has his hands folded behind his head and he's *also* smiling --

"Roy... I would like to have you come in my mouth."

"I know you would. We'll see. Get started."

Tim licks his lips and leans in -- he can do this exactly the way he wants to. He can --

Tim drags the head over and over his lips, parting them enough that the ring clicks against his teeth randomly, *goadingly* --

He nuzzles the head and the shaft --

He breathes deep and feels himself flex, feels himself *clench* --

He's never had *anything* in his ass for this long --

And he has to moan for this, for the pleasure and, yes, the *power*. *He* can do this. *He* can choose how this goes -- but.

Does he really want to? Or -- is that the *only* thing he wants in this moment?

The image of Roy holding his head still and *using* his mouth --

Tim groans and takes Roy in as deep as he can, shuddering for the feel of the ring brushing his palate, for the feel of it almost seeming to *try* to make him gag --

He *won't* gag and that's -- that. Tim hums and starts deliberately working the ring against his palate, using his tongue to *move* Roy around his mouth as much as possible --

Palatable --

All right, it's *possible* -- that he's just a little punchy. He recognizes this feeling from the *early* days of his experiences with endorphins, the way it seems as though his personal energy is running through him at high speed, *delighted* speed --

The way the energy seems to simultaneously make him aware of everywhere he's hurt and to make it all unimportant -- no. It makes it all *wonderful*, because he wouldn't *be* here without the pain, without everything that's come before --

And that's when Tim realizes that he's making... a lot of noise. Hungry noises, happy noises --

He is, perhaps, a cock *slut* -- if only in this moment. He looks up to meet Roy's eyes again --

And the expression of *entitled* pleasure on Roy's face means that they *both* know it's not only in this moment, or -- it feels that way. The urge toward greater and greater degrees of connection could be dangerous -- maybe even *should* be dangerous -- but --

If this is available to him --

If it makes them both feel *happy* without -- injuring each other or anyone else --

And, yes, Tim is absolutely aware that it's not just the noises, anymore. That it is, in fact, the way his eyes are pleading with Roy, the way he can't quite bring himself to stop stroking Roy's hip and abdomen with his free hand --

So much hard-worked muscle -- and fewer scars than Dick. Possibly as few as Tim himself has, and there's certainly something to be *said* for distance weapons --

Laughing will make him *cough* --

But seeing the laughter on Tim's face seems to be making Roy happier, more *pleasured* --

"You are... mm. Here's the deal, little 'mano -- you -- oh, yeah, just keep doing what you *want*..."

Tim nods and hums again --

"We have to... hn. We have to keep this up, if *only* to get to the point where we can... can spend slightly *less* of our time off the street fucking as opposed to *talking*..."

A noncommittal grunt with a penis in one's mouth...

"Heh. I sense some *conflict* for that idea. Just wait until you *are* gettin' it regular -- oh, fuck, that's so *sweet*..."

*That* would be Tim kissing his own fist and trying not to cough. He can feel his throat seizing for it --

It makes the fuck of this that much *more* internal, and never mind the fact that that doesn't make a great deal of sense. It's his *body*, all of it, and when Roy lifts his hips --

When he groans and lowers them again --

Tim is making Roy *want*, making him need --

And he tastes good, *feels* good --

The salt and heat and *weight* -- Tim wants to be fucked, and right now it almost doesn't *matter* how --

Almost doesn't matter that he's fucking *himself* on Roy's penis --

God, the *rush* --

Tim lets his eyes fall closed and does his best to stay in the feeling, *live* in the feeling, and the way it seems to almost *be* Roy fucking him once he starts moving quickly enough --

Roy is moaning and *shifting*, muttering --

Tim can't help from humming *hopefully* --

"*That* sounded -- unh. Sounded like a *question*," Roy says, and pulls Tim off by the *hair*, which --

"Roy, if you're *successful* at taking away my natural inquisitiveness, there will be *issues*."

Roy snickers and pants. "Trust me, little 'mano, it'll be worth it to see the look on Bruce's face the first time you fail to put him on the rack."

"I don't -- all right, but I mostly don't do it *aloud*."

Roy's grin is broad and unassailably cheerful. "He's *Bruce*. He can *feel* you turnin' the crank."

Well... probably. Tim licks his lips and tries to come up with something to say that doesn't come with a question mark --

"You look *so* damned adorable when you're trying to get around the rules."

"I --" He can't *ask* -- "I've never thought of myself as 'adorable.'"

Roy's smile gets wider as he *tugs* on Tim's hair. "What, you think serious-minded people can't be cute?"

That -- "You sound a bit like my girlfriend."

"Ooh. I bet she loves it when you're all buttoned-up tight and frowning *just* a little."

"It -- seems to make her cheerfully determined to *un*button me, actually."

"And that? Is love," Roy says, and moves his hands to Tim's hips, stroking up and down, squeezing...

"I love -- the way you feel. I love the way you touch me. Ah -- all the ways you do."

Roy narrows his eyes and licks his lips. "What do you *do* with that girlfriend of yours? Dick told me you've been seeing her since not all that long after you *started* being Robin."

"Ah... yes. She... followed me around on the street -- very well, actually -- until I caught her... she hit me with a brick... the rest is history."

Roy sighs. "A brick? Yeah, she sounds awesome. But -- you were a virgin. Is that just how she rolls?"

"To... a certain extent. I -- she knows I'm gay. Obviously."

"And she just... goes with that?"

"Um. For the most part? I think... no. I know she had reasons for not wanting to get sexually involved with anyone for a while... and I can't share those reasons with you."

"That's fair. But?"

Tim blushes. "I believe... she's having questions about her own sexuality. Many of those questions seem to revolve around Batgirl. But -- we love each other. I never -- I want to be with her in any way she allows... for as long as possible."

Roy smiles at him --

Roy kisses him, slow and deep and *serious*, pulling Tim in by the hips --

*Lifting* Tim until Tim is straddling his thighs --

Tim locks his hands behind his back --

"Beautiful. In a lot of different ways. And you're *sure* you're completely gay?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "As sure as I can be. I... there's no woman I care for as much as I care for -- the former Spoiler. Sometimes I lose myself when we're kissing, or when we're curled up together on her bed, and I try... I try to make the things I feel for her... different."

Roy nods. "It doesn't work. And you've patrolled with her and everything, and if *that* doesn't work... yeah, I hear you," he says, and strokes around to Tim's ass --

"Oh -- yes, I -- ow."

Roy scratches up and strokes down --

Again --

"You figured out that I jerked off before patrol, didn't you?"

Tim blinks. "I -- in retrospect it seems like a reasonable conclusion I could've made --"

"If you had any *real* idea of how hot you are... heh."

"You -- you really have made your attraction for me very clear, Roy --"

"*And* Dick planted one on you."

"I have to admit that I can't quite... think about that. It's -- too much."

"And Bruce's not-so-little confession?"

"I --" Tim laughs and tries to get just a *little* closer to Roy --

"Another kind of guy would start thinking that your family is doing everything they can to close *ranks* around you."

Tim shakes his head. "I -- no. The things Bruce said to you --"

"All of 'em, yeah," Roy says, and scratches him again --

Tim shivers -- "Ah. When it rains, it pours. Or something. It's all a bit... much."

Roy grins and licks the skin at the corner of Tim's eye. "Mm. I'm easy, little 'mano?"

"You make sense. You -- I don't have to rewrite anything with you. And. I trust you."

Roy rears back slightly and raises his eyebrows. "You saying you *don't* trust your *family*?"

"I wouldn't put it that... baldly. I think. I think I would say that I don't trust them to always be able to make the best decisions in terms of their personal relationships. Ah -- any of them. At all."

Roy snorts. "Okay, you've got a point, I hear you... uh. I'm really not used to *Bats* noticing that they're fucked in the head about this stuff."

Tim lets the smile that wants to be on his face... out.

"Oh, yeah, little 'mano?"

"I, of course, make perfectly reasonable relationship decisions at all times."

Roy snickers and *spreads* Tim --

"Oh --"

"You managed to get yourself one hell of a girl -- despite the fact that you can't do more than kiss and cuddle her a little --"

"Ah -- that really was *her* decision. She knew that we were right for each other well before I figured that out."

"Still. You *kept* her -- and she can even see who you are beneath the mask."

Tim smiles *wryly* --

"Aw, hell, what? Were you sitting on her bed all suited *up*?"

"Ah -- no. But we had been that way before. Before Bruce outed me."

"*Bruce* outed you?"

"He was always rather pleased -- in his own confusing and occasionally brain-breaking ways -- with my relationship with the former Spoiler. And... Bruce was having issues. I was off the grid -- in Tibet, actually -- without telling anyone where I was... he attempted to use her to find me, and outed me in the process. The fallout from that... not our finest hour. She... I was really surprised that she decided to keep putting up with us after that, actually... ah. Roy..."

Roy nods slowly. "I spent a good chunk of my life being best friends with Dick. I know how you people work -- and completely fail to work. With Dick, though... it always seems like he just gets closer and closer to being Bruce. Specifically, to embodying all the things about Bruce he *used* to hate..."

"I think. I think he still hates those things --"

"And maybe thinks that the fact that he *does* hate them is proof that there's something essentially wrong with him, yeah, I know, little 'mano." Roy sighs and squeezes Tim's ass hard. "Don't do that to yourself, Tim. You have better reason than *anyone* else *to* do that to yourself --"

"I'm -- trying. Right now, and -- every chance I can take to be... something like myself. To figure out who that is."

Roy nods again, but he still seems troubled...

"Roy... I would like to know if there's anything... you were happy. Before."

Roy's smile is crooked and gentle at once. "Seems like I got a little distracted."

"Well... I did commit the terrible crime of asking a question."

"*While* sucking my cock, and you should be ashamed of yourself for depriving us of that," Roy says, joking and not, serious and *not*...

"You. You flow so easily between dominating me and... being with me."

"I'm with you even when I'm domming you. And..." Roy lets go of Tim's ass with one hand and taps Tim's nose, instead. "A part of you is *being* dominated by me pretty much all the time right now. That's just how these things work when you're young enough."

"And... good enough. You're a natural, Roy --"

"I'd say that you're clearly not used to dominant personalities, but -- ah..." Roy's expression is *incredulous*, and that's -- 

Closer to what he wants. "There are differences between Bruce and Batman, Roy. And Bruce... Bruce isn't always -- or even often -- especially dominant. As opposed to... charismatic. Impossible to ignore..." Tim frowns. "I -- apparently I meant that. Or -- no, what I mean to say is that apparently I'd been *thinking* about that."

Roy laughs softly and cups Tim's cheek. "Which one of them owns you, little 'mano? Which one puts you to sleep at night?"

"I -- *neither*. Ah. In terms of the sleeping. I have *nightmares* about Batman judging me, ignoring me, finding me *wanting*... and they're nothing compared to the nightmares I have about him *accepting* me. As for Bruce... he wants me to be *strong*. To keep up this... this fucking *charade* between us where we act like we're really *only* Batman and Robin --" Tim stops.

Tim growls.

Tim -- laughs. "All right, both of them own me. Neither of them could put me to sleep without drugs or, at the very least, a judicious blow to the head."

Roy strokes Tim's cheekbone with his thumb, and the callus scrapes, drags --

"Oh, Roy, I want you -- I wish. I would like to sleep with *you* sometime. Just -- to share a bed. To be warm... with you."

"We'll have that one of these nights," Roy says, voice low and promising... and back to being troubled.

That -- it makes something *seize* in Tim a little -- too *much* --

"Hey, what's wrong?"

"Ah. You're not happy. You're -- something I've said --"

"Fucked with me, yeah. But *only* because I want you and wanna *keep* you, little 'mano. You -- you *don't* have anything to worry about. Not with me, all right?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "Not even you deciding to... ah... take the sane way out?"

"Heh. Sane is *muy* overrated. Safe and consensual, now -- those are pretty sweet. Relax, little 'mano," Roy says, scratching with the hand on Tim's ass and --

Choking --

With the other --

Tim groans and feels it *stop* before it makes it to his throat, feels it get cut *off* by pressure, warmth --

"*Relax*," and that's the command voice that does and doesn't have things in common with the one for the street.

That --

"Yeah. Like that. I know you're gonna have some trouble sinking back, *easing* back... because of me."

He *wants* to protest that, to point out that there's *nothing* wrong with *Roy* --

"Oh... baby. I need you. That's it. That's all. I knew it was *gonna* be like this by the end of our *first* night together, but I... thought I'd have a little more time in my own head, my own heart..."

Please -- *please* --

"God, you look so *good*, baby. And the only thing I can do is *be* good for both of us. To give us what we both *need*," Roy says, loosening his grip.

"I -- please. Please let me be good for you. Please show me --"

"Hands and knees, Tim. It's time."

Tim shivers and moans -- *moves*. The surprise is that he'd started getting soft again -- there's no surprise whatsoever that that's not going to *last*. Tim orients himself with his head towards the wall --

And Roy's *spank* makes him cry out, makes him spread *wider* --

"No, not that far, baby. You need to be *steady* for me."

"Yes. Yes, Roy," Tim says, adjusting his stance --

Feeling himself hang, *leak* --

Feeling himself *want* -- and he's crying out again, *again*, before he realizes that Roy is fucking him with the plug again, moving it in him, stretching him more -- "Oh --"

"So ready for me -- mm. There's nobody like you, little 'mano..."

"Hard... hard to *credit* --"

Roy's laugh is breathy and *rich*. "You think I find someone like you every day? You think I had any right to *expect* to find someone like you?" Another laugh. "You'll learn. Breathe," and Roy pulls on the plug --

"*Ohn* --"


He -- breathes, slowly and carefully until he can get it to be something more like slowly and *easily* --

The plug is out.

The plug is --

There's something *like* mild pain where the hard plastic of the thing couldn't stop reminding Tim's body that it wasn't a penis --

The plug isn't sentient. The plug isn't --

He's okay. He's *fine*, and he can just --

"That's right, baby. Keep breathing. Right about now you've gotta be feeling... mm. Really empty...?"

"Yes. I -- yes, Roy."

"It's frightening."

Tim nods -- "Yes. I don't. I don't know how I'm going to get used to this feeling again."

Roy sighs and spreads Tim *wide* --

"Oh -- please --"

"Easy, Tim, it's all right. You're all right. I'll tell you something -- you will and won't get used to the feeling. A part of you will always be *hoping* to get filled by something hot and hard just for you..."

"God -- please, *yes* --"

"Sometimes... sometimes you won't be able to *have* it, and that'll drive you a little crazy, a little..." Roy laughs softly and covers Tim, pressing himself close --

"Oh, you feel -- God, you feel so *good*, Roy --"

"And so do you. I don't think I can tell you how good you feel to me, baby, but I'm sure as fuck gonna *try*." There's a smile in his voice, something --

Something avid and *hot* -- "I. Please. I don't want to be *needy* --"

"But that's exactly how I want you, baby. That's..." Roy kisses the back of Tim's neck so *softly* --

Tim moans --

"It turns me on. Sexually, intellectually -- and emotionally. Do you understand?"

"I don't. Think I do..."

"God, *Bruce* -- no, not that," Roy says, and presses down with more of his weight -- "*Down*."

Tim drops, laying himself out on his stomach --

Roy *grinds* against Tim's ass --

Tim groans and *shakes* --

"I want you *just* like this for me. I want it all the *time*. I want you to come when I call --"

"I will -- I *will* --"

Roy groans and grinds *harder* --

"Oh -- please *let* me --"

"I will, baby. I..." Roy sighs, pants -- "You don't know how good this is for me, and that's killing me a little. You know what I was thinkin' about when I jerked off earlier?"

"No. I... please..."

"Your mouth. Your hands. Your *eyes* -- and every last one of your smiles. Even the lying ones, and I *know* you don't understand that, but... I can *make* you smile the real way, baby."

"You can. You -- you *do* --"

Roy purrs and *licks* the back of Tim's neck. "Yeah. Yeah, I think I can *make* you mine..."

Tim shudders and moans, tries to *move* --

"No, stay *right* there..."

"Yes, Roy, I -- want to feel good. For you."

"You think you don't? Hard little body, *sleek* with sweat for me... mm. You taste so good, baby. Next time I'm rimming you."

"Oh -- *God* --"

"Yeah, you know what that means. You *don't* know what it's like -- you can't know -- but you will. I promise I won't make you come that way the *first* time, though."

"So good. You -- God, *anything* --"

"*Everything* -- and I know I'll make you love it for me," Roy says, kneeling up -- "Back up, baby. It's time."

Tim *moves*, ignoring the shake in his arms and legs, sobbing a little for the way he's clenching on *nothing* --

"Pretty, *pretty* boy. Listen -- *just* listen -- to the sound of me slicking myself up for you."

"Yes --"

"You hear that sound?"

"Yes, Roy --"

"You know what it means now. You -- heh. You know it means you *don't* have to wait any longer for what you need."

"So wet. So -- oh, God, Roy, I can still *taste* you --"

"I know you can. And I've got your salt on my tongue, stinging me a little, givin' me a taste of how much you *hurt*."

"So much. So -- Roy, please. Please do it hard. I -- please come in me --"

"This is the need I want. The need I -- *nn*. Reach back with one hand and help me spread you... yeah, just like that..."

He must... he must look like *pornography* like this, something anonymous, anonymously dirty, bald --

"This is what you mean to me right now. This tight, flexing little hole... the way you've been so good to *wait* for this -- no more. No more, baby," Roy says, and the push --

Oh, he'd forgotten the *push*, the feel of metal warmed from skin but still not the same, not --

Oh, he feels so *big*, but Tim knows he can take it, that he's ready, that Roy has *made* him ready --

Roy wants him, *needs* him --

Roy won't *stop* --

Tim cries out sharp and *high* for the head slipping in, for the moment where he can feel exactly how much Roy had stretched him and exactly how much he *hadn't* --

Roy groans and *pants* -- "Baby... oh, baby, *yes* --"

"*Roy* --"

"*Take* it," and Roy *shoves* in, one long stroke, one --

Tim is shouting and trying to stop, trying to *focus* on the feeling, on what he's finally *getting* --

Roy. *Roy*, and shouldn't there be something incredulous in him, something which is, at the very least, *apart*? *One* part of him insists that just asking the question is enough to prove that he is himself --

Another points out that asking questions is breaking the rules, that he can't possibly let someone else set all of his *rules* --

"Stay with me, baby, stay... right... *here*," and Roy is working his own hips, Roy is --

"Teasing -- teasing me --"

Roy's laugh is breathless and sharp at *once* -- "Yeah? Maybe I'm just enjoying your hot little ass."

Hot -- Tim groans and lets his head hang, lets himself --

Roy moans long and *loud*. "God, baby, you just -- *nnh*, all right," and that's Roy's hand in his hair, *gripping* his hair and forcing Tim's head up --

And Tim is screaming before his mind catches up with the fact that Roy is thrusting, that Roy is *slamming* in --

"Love -- that -- *sound*," and Roy laughs again and doesn't stop, doesn't --

Tim can't *hear* the sound Roy's scrotum is making against his own, but the feel --

The *secondary* vibration of flesh against flesh, something much softer than Roy's penis, much more forgiving --

Does he need forgiveness for this?

Could anyone give it to him *except* for Roy? And, oh, there's a part of his brain which wants to give him Bruce for this, wants Bruce to take him away *from* this --

So much time cold, so much time *alone*, and it never had to be that way, never --

Roy wouldn't have done that to him. Roy -- Roy knows what strong can *really* mean, knows that it can be bodies in motion, bodies *finding* rest in each other, on each other, *near* --

Everywhere Tim was whipped.

Everywhere Tim was *spanked* --

And now he's being fucked by someone who wants him and needs him, someone who doesn't just not *care* if Tim knows it but *wants* him to know it, to believe it with all of himself.

To know that *this* pleasure is for him, and this pain, as well, this -- *everything* --

It's not a surprise that he's calling Roy's name now, that he's screaming it over and over --

It's the only important word *left*, since even 'please' is *becoming* Roy on the way out of his mouth --

Is he being programmed -- no, of *course* he's being programmed, and the only function he's supposed to have is *this*. To enjoy himself and to be obvious about it, to enjoy everything Roy *gives* --

This. This must be the purpose of religion, and the thing about it which can bring in so many people. This *faith*, and how it feels:

Roy won't stop until he's had his pleasure.

Roy will enjoy -- and is enjoying -- every moment of this.

Roy won't *stop* -- oh --

Oh, God --

Oh, *God* and he can't even say that anymore, can't --

He can't even toss his *head* because Roy is *holding* him still --

"*Fuck*, baby, *do* it."

Yes -- *yes* --

And there's a moment when Tim feels himself going rigid, feels himself tensed and held by his own *need* --

Hears -- his own *loudest* scream --

And then everything is light, heat, pressure that *becomes* pleasure as he shakes himself *apart* --

As Roy grips Tim's hips and *rides* --

*Roy* is shouting --

And Tim collapses onto his elbows, shaking and moaning, practically *crooning* --

"Fuck -- *fuck*, so *good*, baby, so -- you. Keep taking me --"

"Yes -- yes --"

"Keep *feeling* this --" And Roy growls, digging his fingers in against Tim's hips and holding on, holding Tim *still* --

Strength like that is meaningless, but passion like that, *need* --

Tim works to make himself clench rhythmically, to *give* this to Roy --

Roy is grunting with every thrust, *losing* himself --

He wants Tim so *much* --

And Tim doesn't know what the expression on his face looks like, but he knows it's a happy one, a *joyful* one --

"*Tim* --"

Tim closes his eyes -- and the heat inside him increases, the slickness -- "Roy..."

Roy shudders and flexes, *tenses* --

Shouts Tim's name *again* even as his thrusts turn ragged --

And then he *stops* -- and hauls Tim up into a straddle of his thighs, wrapping one arm around Tim's chest and yanking Tim's head back with his other hand. The kiss feels like a mauling from... a lover.

Tim gives it back as best he can and decides to leave the task of remembering how to breathe for another time.

Some moment in the distant future when he doesn't have *this* --

Heat and pleasure, want and something like --


Tim shivers and kisses Roy harder, reaching up to grip the arm around his chest, to stroke and pet and reach and *hold* --


Tim sighs and tries to press closer, even though that's not actually possible --

"I've got you. I..." Roy kisses his way from Tim's cheek to his forehead. "Incredible. The way you were moving for me..."

Tim blinks. "I... don't remember moving."

Roy laughs softly and rocks them. "You were working your hips so fast and perfectly... I wound up *needing* to fuck you faster." Roy kisses Tim's forehead again and strokes a lock of Tim's hair back. "Just to keep a good rhythm, mind. I certainly didn't have *any* other reasons for that."

"No, of course not. I... didn't think I could come just from being fucked."

Tim can just barely see the edge of Roy's smile out of the corner of his eye. "'Just?' I only get a 'just?'"

That... is more than worth a blush. But. "Well. You were hardly doing much else at the *time*, Roy."

Roy growls and *pumps* his hips --

"Oh God --"

"*What* was that, little 'mano?"

"Ah... probably nothing. Certainly nothing important."

Roy laughs again and moves his hand from Tim's hair to his throat. "I think, one day, I'd like to do you with my belt around your throat --"

Tim clenches *hard* --

Roy grunts. "Except for how we *can't*, because that's *ridiculously* dangerous when no one has superpowers. Before you not-quite-ask -- Kal was excellent at using his speed and *control* to the point where he could *just* use his hand."

"I. I see," Tim says, and tries to not be disappointed. Or to at least adequately harangue the part of him which is disappointed, because -- really. One of the many things Bruce had trained him to *deal* with was the various life-threateningly silly things people occasionally got up to with belts --

"Uh, huh, I hear you. It *would* be hot, and we *would* both enjoy the hell out of it... but my cock isn't gonna be anywhere near you when I choke you that way. *One* of us...?"

"Has to keep control. I -- yes, I understand," Tim says, and feels himself blushing more --

Roy strokes his cheek. "What's that for?"

"Ah... mainly thinking about how you *did* lose control."

"For you."

Tim closes his eyes and presses himself back once more -- "For me, yes."

"Anyone would, baby," Roy says, twisting his arm free of Tim's hands before stroking a line down the center of Tim's chest -- all while keeping the other hand wrapped around Tim's throat. "You look good, smell good, feel good, taste good... and sound like everything I *want* once you really get started."

"I believe I'm going to be somewhat hoarse, actually."

"It'll do wonders for your street-voice. And if you hadn't figured that out, yet..."

"Ah...the friendlier prostitutes tend to offer me lozenges when I sound *too* hoarse, Roy."

Roy snorts and *tickles* Tim's abdomen --

Tim *wriggles* -- "*Oh* -- I wasn't ready for the feel of you starting to slip out..."

"No one is ever ready for that when it's good. Even when they're as swollen as *you're* gonna be -- which... it might be a little severe. It might not, though. You'll tell me all about it tomorrow."

"That... sounds like a great deal of embarrassment at once."

"*Dick* told me all about the time antibiotics for an infection picked up in the Gotham sewers left him with some serious fucking constipation... which he had to tell Bruce about."

"After a certain degree of discomfort left him distracted enough on the street to nearly get shot. I -- yes. Bruce uses it as a teaching story."

Roy snickers. "Happily for my *sanity*, Ollie favored a less hands-on -- and *in* -- approach."

That... has a question begging to be asked by more than just the part of him which wants to break the rules. Though, to be fair, it's also a question which other parts of him would want to eschew even if it *wasn't* against the rules --

"Ohh... little 'mano. What am I gonna do with you?"

"Everything. Repeatedly."

Roy dips a finger in Tim's navel --

"That feels. I'm frankly not sure why that seems so much more intimate than some of the other things we've done."

"Because you are an odd, odd teenaged boy who had way too little in the way of cuddles."

"I -- you don't know that --"

"Don't I? All right. I don't have any stories... but neither of us are new to the whole psychological analysis thing. Parents play with their kids' belly buttons all the time, little 'mano. They're right *there*."

"My parents --" Tim shakes his head. "I will stipulate that they were less physically affectionate --"

"And present --"

"-- than other parents, but really, I was hardly neglected. No uncared-for wounds, no lingering cases of -- of *rickets* --"

"Stop. 'No rickets?' Not exactly a ringing endorsement, little 'mano."

Tim winces and -- decides to cope with his real objections sooner rather than later. "I don't feel comfortable criticizing someone who I've been lying to nearly non-stop for three years, despite the fact that the man very obviously loves and respects me, and wants the best for me."

Roy splays his hand on Tim's abdomen and presses. "All right, fair. We don't have to touch that even a little."

"Thank you --"


"I told him the truth -- all of it -- when he was in a coma, and the accepted wisdom was that he'd never come out of it," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "And then had something of a panic attack when he *did* wake up. He -- he's tried very hard to be a father to me since then, and, the truth is... I haven't let him."

Roy -- hugs him.

"I'm all right --"

"No doubt, little 'mano. You needed a hug, anyway."

"I don't think people need hugs when they're all right, Roy, I mean, isn't that the point of *being* all right?"

"Amazingly enough? No. And I'm tempted to lock you in a room with Dick until you figure that out for yourself..."

Tim laughs. "Roy --"

"But I think it would probably be more effective to lock you in a room with the kid you were, say... four years ago."

That -- all right, now he's wincing. "Roy, honestly, I don't -- you're making me think I should be encouraging you to find another... person to have sex with --"

"Lover. Say it."

"Lover --"

"And no, you shouldn't. This isn't about you being too fucked-up for *me*, little 'mano, because, first of all, I don't think that category actually *exists*, and, second of all... you've gotta own your needs. You have to. There's no way around it."

Tim swallows. "I thought. I thought that was what I was doing. With you."

"Oh, you are, lover-boy. You absolutely are. But I want more than just your sweet little body."

Lover. Lover -- "I -- oh."

Roy sighs, stroking down to Tim's hips. "Breathe."

Tim does --

And Roy lifts Tim the rest of the way off his penis. The spill of semen feels *copious*, but he already knows it isn't --

Knowing doesn't change the feel at *all* --

"Down," Roy says, giving Tim a gentle push designed to alter Tim's trajectory enough to keep him out of the wet spot.

"Ah... thank you," and Tim settles on his stomach with his hands under his cheek.

Roy strokes his way up from the back of Tim's knee to his shoulder. "You know, the funny thing is that I'm not gonna mind doing this load of laundry, at all."

That -- is an excellent reminder. "I'd be more than willing --"

"You'll be doing the laundry at *your* house, little 'mano. Division of labor is a *good* thing."

"It still seems like something I ought to be doing --"

"Are you my sub? Or are you my slave?"

My. He said -- and Tim can focus and think, but -- "I'm not sure if I know... the difference between those two things."

"A fair answer," Roy says, moving off the bed for just long enough to fold the duvet over on itself before getting back on and... cuddling close. "People define those terms in a lot of different ways, but, to me, the major difference was always about how having a slave meant that you were both pretty deep in headspace twenty-four-seven. No breaks, no time to be just two people who *sometimes* like to play like the other person is owned -- or like to be *serious* about the fact that the other person is owned. Not for me."

Tim bites his lip -- stops. "Then -- I'm your sub."

Roy raises his eyebrows. "Do you *want* to be a slave, Tim?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "I honestly don't know. I suspect it would... grate, over time, but... I don't know. It's a moot point since you don't care for it. I don't really see myself... doing this with just anyone."

Roy's smile crinkles the skin at the corners of his eyes, and he strokes Tim's back again. "Probably for the best. There's a lot of people out there who are a lot closer to being abusers than doms."

"I've... happened across a few like that. As Robin."

Roy's smile gets even wider. "Jay once showed me a scar on his cheek he picked up from rapidly teaching himself how to use a bullwhip when *he* came across a guy like that."


"Mm-hm. Apparently right up until Bruce confiscated the whip."

"At which point it almost certainly became an opportunity for a lecture," Tim says, and smiles. "I... tend to adjust my behavior with the goal of avoiding lectures, which... probably isn't surprising in the least."

"Not even a little, no. It suits you... except when it doesn't."

"Roy. You're not going to convince to play fast and loose on the *street*."

"Nobody said *anything* about being either fast *or* loose, little 'mano -- though you excel at *both* of those things --"

Tim snorts helplessly. "I saw that coming, and yet..."

"You're used to placating Dick. A man like me is *gonna* take advantage of that whenever and wherever possible, you know."

Tim shows his teeth. "You excel at the art of taking advantage, Roy."

Roy grins *sharply* -- "Ooh. And I'm supposed to just take that, little 'mano...?"

"I suppose you could... show me the error of my ways..."

Roy is so *fast* --

But the spank doesn't land. Even considering the fact that Tim had arched to meet it. "You are... very, very good, Roy."

"Why, thank you *very* much, Tim. I do try. Back to you being a good boy all the time."

"I am, of course, only supposed to be a good boy for *you* -- *hnh* --" Thumb. *In* him --

"Watch the attitude while the collar is on."

God. *God* -- and he can't even tell himself he'd *forgotten*, because he'd still been careful to avoid asking questions -- "I'm sorry, Roy. I didn't -- I did mean to be bitchy. I just didn't think very clearly about it first."

And Roy's breathing is a little rough. A little --

So is Tim's own. Tim closes his eyes and gets up on his elbows solely so he can let his head hang.

"That's right. You'll have plenty of time to mouth off... when I feel like hearing it."

"Yes, Roy. I'm sorry -- *ah* --"

Roy is *moving* his thumb in Tim, and Tim realizes that he *is* raw, that he *is* swollen --


"You ready to be good?"


Roy *wiggles* his thumb --

Tim shudders --

And Roy pulls out, slowly and gently, wiping his slick-sticky thumb on Tim's buttock.

A part of Tim is only wondering if Roy had considered making him suck it --

"Here's the deal, Tim -- you *are* going to be Batman one day. And we both know Bruce wouldn't have picked you for it if he didn't know that you were capable of thinking on the fly and coming up with your own ways of doing things."

He *wants* to protest that -- Batman has *never* appreciated much in the way of innovation out of his Robins --

Not if it goes too far --

He's supposed to stay *safe*, and Batman's rules on how to do that are the *best* --

He --

Bruce knows that Batman's way isn't *always* the best, though. *Bruce* is the heart of Batman, the man who gives the Bat *life*, mercy, independent *thought* --

"And maybe I should just let you keep working that out on your own...?"

Tim suspects his expression is a little on the sour side, but really -- "You have... successfully led me to the proverbial water."

Roy pats Tim's ass and rolls onto his back, folding his hands over his abdomen. His sigh is... different. Almost *strained*, really --

Hm. "Roy..."

"I'm pushing too hard, too fast. I know it."

"Ah -- I. Wish you weren't. I mean, I wish it wasn't too fast for me."

Roy laughs and shakes his head. "You wanna be perfect."

"Of course."

"You wouldn't be half as much fun if you were, even if you were perfect for me, little 'mano. Especially not then, actually."

"I -- that doesn't make much sense. To me."

Roy turns to face Tim, lifting his eyebrows. "You love every little thing about your girl, don't you?"

"Well -- yes --"

"Does that mean there's nothing you would change about her if your *rational* mind got to run the show?"

Tim opens his mouth -- and closes it. He nods. "I don't think I could love her as much as I do if she didn't occasionally cause important parts of my mind to vapor-lock in terror with the things she does." But this isn't love. Right?

Roy is looking at him -- no, Roy is *searching* him, and not just for proof that Tim understands the point he's making.

Tim moves to kneel beside Roy. "I think. I think I need the collar to come off."

A *hard* light in Roy's eyes -- "And if I say it has to stay on?"

Oh -- "Well. Then I find myself deeply conflicted."

"More than you already are?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "Answer unclear. Ask again later."

Roy grins back and reaches out to stroke a line down Tim's abdominal hair to the top of Tim's groin.

Tim shivers --

"Collar off."

Tim can't actually stop himself from rolling his head on his neck --

"God *damn*, you're attractive."

Somehow... "Hearing you say things like that when I'm not... when we're not... ah..."


"Is that what we're doing, Roy?"

Roy shakes his head and sits up against the headboard, offering his hand.

Tim takes it, and Roy tugs until Tim's kneeling somewhat closer to him. Close enough that smelling him is something unavoidable, as opposed to a frequent gift from the air currents in the room. "Roy... I need to know."

"Yeah, so do I... heh. It's up to you, Tim."

"I... really?"

Roy smiles ruefully and nods. "The dirty little secret behind every halfway healthy BDSM relationship in the world. You can always tell who the dom is in a relationship like that because they're the one doing everything the sub wants."

"It... is *really* tempting to protest that --"

"I'm sure."

"We don't even have a *safeword* --"

"We could."

"*No* -- I. No. I don't want one," Tim says, and considers smacking himself vigorously in the face with his palm. "I'd be too tempted to *use* it and then I'd miss *out*."

Roy grins at him. "Yeah, I should give us one anyway, though. Considering how deep down you *go*."

"I really -- that can't possibly be *exceptional* with you, Roy."

Roy shrugs. "Maybe if I wasn't a vigilante it wouldn't be. I've played around in a whole lot of the bloodier clubs here and there over the years, and mostly that kind of thing starts shallow and *stays* shallow... but who knows what it could've been like for me if I could've been honest about who I was?"

Tim nods and thinks about biting his lip -- he doesn't. He just -- "All right, so I do want to be exceptional for you --"

"Yeah, I know that, too. And the truth is? All of that was just bullshit. There's *porn* all over the place about subs like you -- some of it's even pretty good -- but, in the end, ninety-nine percent of it is pure fiction. Wish fulfillment. I know that," Roy says, bending his knee back to scratch at a spot on his calf. He frowns. "I'm trying to convince myself that you aren't the best thing that's ever happened to me -- in case you couldn't tell."

"Oh. We -- we're not playing."

"It's up to *you* --"

"Look at me, Roy. Please," Tim says, and it feels like daring to reach out and cup Roy's shoulder and it feels like the most necessary thing in the world. Maybe the *only* necessary thing in the world.

Roy's jaw is *tense* --

"Please. I -- I'm begging."

"So am I -- or I will be soon," and Roy laughs and turns to face Tim. "Kiss me."

*Very* tempting to just lean in, but -- "Was that an order?"

Roy shakes his head and smiles. "We can play -- we *will* play -- whenever we want, little 'mano --"

"And sometimes you'll punish me for it."

"Gotta get you used to *risk*," Roy says, and cups Tim's face. "Kiss me -- or don't. This -- all of it, the whole damned thing -- is plenty serious. And we both know it. And we're both gonna deal with it."

"Oh... yes," and Tim leans in to nuzzle Roy, to just enjoy the feel of growing stubble, soft lips --

Tim kisses Roy, and does his best to do a thorough job of it. To *concentrate* on providing the best one he possibly can, the most appreciative one, the most -- hopefully -- *addictive* one --

Roy hums --

Tim bites Roy's lip *carefully* --

And the glint in Roy's eyes may as well be designed to make Tim want to sit up and beg -- or at least find some way to be even more naked than he already is. "No one like you, little 'mano. Though if your girl taught you how to kiss like that..."

"Ah -- she really did. My first girlfriend gave me the basics. Steph -- hell --"

"I didn't hear a thing," Roy says, kissing Tim again and pulling back. "The former Spoiler was the graduate course?"

"And then some. I spent some time not entirely convinced that I wasn't bisexual before I was forced to accept that I never wanted things to go further than kissing."

Roy nods thoughtfully. "And now she's going after Batgirl. You think she'd ever wanna play with us? Maybe *watch* you takin' it?"

"Nrgh -- ah. I don't know if *I* could handle that. It would feel. I'm not sure. Incestuous?"

"Oh, *yeah*, *brother*?"

"*Gah* -- all right, Roy, I *will* call you Daddy if you're not more friendly to me, and I've been assured that my impression of a traumatized four-year-old is spot-on."

The splutter is certainly gratifying -- "*Why* can you do an impression of a traumatized four-year-old?"

"I'm tempted to offer a mysterious smile at this juncture --"

"But you *won't* --"

"No, I won't. It was Bruce's description of my first attempt to cultivate a 'feminine' voice."

Roy looks... bemused.

"Yes, I'm fully aware that my natural voice isn't precisely a marvel of masculinity. When I was *four*teen I still had a few illusions I needed to have brutally beaten out of me." Tim says, and... indulges himself by squeezing Roy's shoulder.

Roy glances at Tim's hand and smiles. "This is where you tell me -- as honestly as you can --"

"I -- really don't ever want to lie to you."

"But you're smart enough to know that you might have to for the Mission... or for some other reason --"

"No. No. Just the Mission," Tim says, and squeezes harder.

Roy frowns... but he nods. "This is where you tell me if you're *sure* I shouldn't be making fun-time with the former Spoiler an *order*."

"Oh. Ah. Um?"

"Of course, this is *also* where you tell me how much my desire *to* make it an order is about me getting a *taste* of the girl the gayest vigilante in Gotham wants to marry."

"I... there is a *lot* in that sentence I don't know how to *touch* --"

"*But* you didn't deny the last part, I noticed."

Tim blushes, and it's late, but it seems to want to make up for its tardiness with vehemence. "And -- anyway, she'd have to agree to it."

"Of course. But I'm hoping I'm already in her good graces," Roy says, and waggles his eyebrows.


"You gotta gimme this one. You talk about her like Wally talks about *Linda*."

"I love her --"

"And you're *in* love with her, incompatible parts notwithstanding. I'm okay with that -- love can be a real damned generous emotion."

Tim thinks *this* squeeze of Roy's shoulder is closer to spastic than to anything else. "Do you really think so?"

"I know so. I also know it isn't *all* the time -- or Dick would probably still be with Kory even though he's with the former Batgirl. And his relationship with Clark would be a lot more than just friendly."

"You... really do think of Clark and Kal as being two separate people."

Roy nods and kisses Tim's chin. "Superman's in there, too. So is Clark *Kent*. He probably does the multiple-identities thing better than anyone else on this whole planet, actually."

"I always thought that doing that sort of thing *well* wasn't exactly something to aspire to, Roy."

Roy shrugs, and his smile is crooked and fond. "Who am I to judge? Sometimes I think that I might've been a happier kid if I'd managed to draw my own lines a little sharper... Rob."

Tim winces... for a number of things.

"Hey, it's okay. I'm not gonna pour my angst out all over you --"

"You can. I mean -- I wouldn't mind. No, that's not it, either. I mean -- I'd like you to. Sometime."

"Are you saying you *didn't* have it all from Dick? Hell, from Bruce's *records*?"

"I have the facts, and I have Dick's perspective. I don't have what the facts mean to you... and I would like to."

Roy narrows his eyes in a tease that doesn't have much in the way of conviction behind it. "And what if I don't wanna give you *any* reasons to remember why good vigilantes don't play with me?"

No. Just -- Tim shifts until he can straddle Roy's thighs and wrap his arms around Roy's neck. Eye to eye --

Body to body --

"When I think about how I might've chosen to -- to *resist* you if I'd been feeling slightly less wounded and *raw*... it frightens me badly, Roy. I -- I need you. And I'd like. More than that with you."


"Yes," Tim says, and presses as close as he can without losing eye contact. "You... might think this is a problem because of the ways we've gone about making love and because what those ways would do to a teenager of my relatively extreme lack of experience --"

"You hadn't even had *one* orgasm in company --"

"Maybe. Maybe I was waiting for you even though I didn't know it --"


"Roy --"

"Wait," Roy says, and presses a hand to Tim's sternum. The way he cups Tim's hip with his other hand makes it feel less *and* more like an order.

"I'm... waiting."

"I need something from you, Tim --"

"Yes --"

"Get Bruce."

Tim blinks. "For a *threesome*?"

Roy coughs, and *his* eyes actually widen a little bit -- "Uh. No? But that's a thought that'll be following me into my dreams for a while --"

"You want him?"

"He's *Bruce*. *Straight* guys wanna suck him off. *I have heard Wally say this out loud*. But -- that's not what I was talking about, little 'mano," Roy says, and squeezes Tim's hip. "You know what I'm talking about."

"He doesn't *want* --"


"He -- *believes* that it would be better if we just pretended that the attraction didn't exist, and I'm inclined to believe *him* --"

"Are you, Tim? Really? Because your body says *different* things, and we both know that."

"I'm -- more than the sum of my *parts*, Roy, and I want *you* --"

"You want him, too."

"*Yes*, but that's -- greed and *rampant* stupidity at work. Not all wants and needs *deserve* the light of day --"

"Ohh... Tim." Roy licks his lips and shakes his head. "When Bruce watches *this* footage, he's going to be hard as a rock, proud as a *good* father, and hurting like a *motherfucker*. You *saw* the footage of him at my place."

"I did, yes, but --"

"I need to know I'd still be able to have you if Bruce gave it up for you. If *he* started giving you what you need."

"You -- Roy, if you want me to do trust exercises, shouldn't there actually be someone behind me to catch me when I fall?"

Roy snorts and shakes Tim back and forth a little. "You jump off skyscrapers with a piece of string, Tim --"

"I *check* those strings. *Every* night --"

"And your observations are always perfect and spot-on?"

Tim frowns --

And Roy blows out a breath. "Okay, let me try this another way: It's about me. It's about *my* needs. Because I've been in love with Dick since before I knew I *swung* that way, and if I hadn't been so wrapped up in my own issues I would've tried to recruit Jay *away* from Bruce -- and both of those things are wrapped up in so much failure that sometimes... heh. Sometimes I can't think of a thing to do other than poking more holes in my body."

Tim can't quite stop himself from rearing back for that --

"Yeah, I know. The piercings aren't as sexy as they were before you knew that little detail. Don't worry -- I'm just about done with all that, and I don't expect that I'll be doing any more than I already have. No fake corsets up the back, no bones through my nose -- nothing that would get in the way of the *work*. But if this has to end --"

"It *doesn't* --"

"If it even has to get a great big wall built between it and going any further than it has... I need to know as soon as possible. You're already pretty damned poly -- I need to know how poly you *get*."

And... it's not as if Tim can't understand where Roy is coming from. He'd spent most of his *life* knowing, deep down, that he'd never truly be good enough for Dick -- even if Dick would never put it or think of it that way. But. "I can't help -- Roy, what happens if it all goes just fine and then I fall in love with someone *else*? Some -- some *civilian* or --"

"Okay, one? The fact that you can't even figure out what that hypothetical 'someone else' would look like tells me everything I need to know --"

"*Roy* --"

"Two? I am *exactly* egotistical enough to believe -- with everything I am -- than I could and *would* measure up pretty damned well against anyone *other* than Bruce Wayne."

"I --" Well, yes, that was a choked sound. "I can't disagree with that. Except for the part --"

"Where I don't think I *do* measure up to Bruce. I know. You're a loving, loyal kid, and I've given you a pretty fair number of things to be loyal *to*. Just -- give me this, Tim."

Tim frowns and looks away, knowing his body language is terrible, but -- no. He turns back around. "I don't even know what to say to him."

"Climb onto his lap and kiss him. Trip him with a bolo and tackle him onto the mats. Give him a handjob under the dinner table at some gala event --"

"My father isn't even *invited* to those, anymore --"

"Strip naked and make him *look* at you --"

"Jesus, Roy --"

"Pick something. Because we both *know* it won't take much."

Tim suspects his expression is more than a little --

"God, you look so good when you're prissy, baby," Roy says, leaning in to *bite* Tim's jaw --

"He -- he's going to be *prepared* for this. He'll know -- he'll know *why* I'm attempting to seduce him --"

"Yeah, he will," and Roy leans back again, smiling.

Tim resists the urge to cross his arms over his chest. Barely.

Roy *snickers* --


"Tim. Little 'mano. Prettiest of *all* the pretty babies. He's gonna know *all* the reasons why you're doing it -- including the ones you're being extremely adorable about not admitting to yourself --"

"I'm not in *denial* --"

"Considering *what we talked about on our first date*."

Well. Well. Tim sits back, resting lightly on Roy's thighs. It's possible that he's glaring, but Roy's expression is sunny enough that it must be a mild glare at best.

Or Roy shares Dick's absolute *immunity* to Tim's glares -- hm.

"I would think you'd be more worried about Dick."

"Nah. He's no good for you," Roy says, calmly and easily -- almost *breezily*.

"I -- what?"

"You -- unlike approximately ninety-nine point nine percent of the sixteen-year-olds in the world -- actually know what you *need*. And you know Dick's not it."

"I -- I really was... I *followed* him into this life, Roy --"

"And you'll always love him, and want him, and -- and you won't actually regret not taking him up on the offer that nearly made me want to punch him in the face."

Tim winces --

"*Nearly*, I said. It's fine, because I *know* Dick, and if I'd known about you loving him for all that time, I *would've* known that he'd try to push you into a relationship with him no matter what. He needs love. He just -- everyone needs love, but Dick..."

"He... spent too long without the kind of love he could understand."

"Point to the pretty baby. And, of course, Bruce gave him just enough of what Dick *could* understand here and there to make Dick think that there was just something he wasn't doing right the rest of the time..."

"I -- Christ," Tim says, and shakes his head. "I knew all of this. I mean, I could *surmise* it well enough before now, but -- I now have an image of myself jerking Bruce off *while* ordering him to pin Dick and say useful things until they stick."

Roy looks thoughtful. "That could work. Chances are nobody *else* has tried that method on Bruce."

Tim snorts --

"Well, maybe Clark. Maybe."

Tim smiles helplessly. Just -- Roy. "All right, you're apparently exactly as good at reading people as you should be."

"Bats may know everything, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are functionally retarded, little 'mano."

"Point well taken, I assure you. I wonder... I wonder if, maybe, you haven't read yourself too harshly. Ah. In the past."

Roy sighs and takes Tim's hands in his own, bringing them to his mouth and scraping his teeth along Tim's knuckles. "I am never gonna get tired of how *used* a good vigi's hands look. And no, I'm not changing the subject. Quite. I can't actually remember what was going through my head the first time I shot up. I can guess that I was probably already pretty drunk, maybe a little stoned on pot... it *didn't* start with the horse."

Tim winces and nods. "I... didn't think it had."

"Yeah, well... I still drink, and sometimes I even drink too much. That goes against everything smart on the issue there *is*. But it's a compromise every day, little 'mano. Every day there's *something* that makes me want to feel that close to dead, that close to... God, being nothing more than a sweet, good feeling spiraling down to *absolute* nothing."

"I -- every day?"

Roy smiles ruefully and squeezes Tim's hands. "Some days there's nothing at all. You've studied junkies. You know how it goes. Once the mind -- the *heart* -- is opened up to something like that... that mind and heart is always going to remember it's an option. Even when they know -- *I* know -- that it's not really an option, at all."

Tim nods again. "I would like it... I want you to call me when you have... times like that. Anytime, day or night --"

"Tim --"

"I know I'm young, and I'm hardly -- qualified to do more than bargain basement *counseling*. But I also know that counseling isn't what actually got you *out* of that... that *hole*."

Roy raises his eyebrows -- and nods. "Can you guess what *did* get me out?"

"Ah... everything I know suggests that it wasn't Oliver. Or the Titans."

"It *could've* been the Titans -- if I'd let them. If I'd given them the chance to be more than just... well, they were the top of the mountain for me. What I could have if I could just get *back*. And that meant a lot more than just getting off the drugs and reconditioning my body."

"You had to recondition your mind. Your -- soul."

Roy grins. "You're not too comfortable with how I throw that word around. I know --"

"It's just -- if I spend too much time thinking about souls, I start thinking about *gods*... and how useless most of them are. And I can't -- it's a reminder of everything I didn't have with my mother. None of that is about you."

"That's cool, I'm hearing you," Roy says, and strokes up and down Tim's arms, pausing to squeeze Tim's biceps. "I never knew my mother. My father... my father is the smell of pipe smoke and pine, two little notes that may have been a laugh or a sigh... I didn't know them long enough for the loss to mean as much as it must mean to you."

Tim smiles ruefully. "Sometimes... sometimes I'm not sure about that. Roy... was it Kal who brought you back?"

Roy sighs. "Yeah. Yeah, it really was. With Clark on slide guitar, as it were. Dinah was there to hold me through the shaking, the vomiting, the hallucinations and nightmares, the sweats -- all that good stuff. I'll owe her for that until long after I'm dead. But there I was one day, out in the woods by the Titans' *first* place, teaching myself how to shoot again...

"I hit every mark I set for myself, hour after hour. I was clean -- I could feel it, all the health I'd just been *missing* for so damned long that it was all fresh and new again.

"I hit every mark, even once I started crying my fucking eyes out because I knew it wasn't enough, that I was broken *inside* and nothing could fix me. Now, whether or not Kal had been keeping an eye on me since Ollie told the League about how badly I'd fucked up --"

"I -- I don't think. Bruce is never going to forgive him for how he treated you. The way -- the way those reports are worded... um. Anyway."

Roy blinks. "He never said a word to me either way... which, now that I think about it, *is* pretty much entirely Bruce's way of being approving."

"I -- yes. I built myself in his silences. To a certain extent. He -- trusts you. Believes in you."

Roy nods slowly. "You know, I used to think that he didn't try to cut me out of Dick's life because he knew Dick wouldn't have it, but... heh. Well, he could have had all kinds of reasons."

Tim smiles and squeezes Roy's hands. "That does tend to be how he goes about... things."

"Yeah. *Things*. So -- back to Kal. I don't know how much he was paying attention to me before that day. We'd *worked* together a few times, but only in a Titans-League kind of way. I didn't know who he was... but then he was just there, standing next to me as I shot out my quiver. I didn't have a thing to say, and I thought to myself -- 'well, this is it. Superman is going to go back to the League and let them know that I'm not worth anything, anymore -- only he'll be real damned *polite* about it -- and I can hurry up and go back to killing myself.' It actually made me feel better enough to stop crying, if you can understand that."

"There can be... a certain comfort in fatalism."

"And nihilism, too. Otherwise there wouldn't be half so many stupid, short-sighted people swearing by it. So. There I was, using my t-shirt to wipe my face, blow my nose, the whole nine. And I turn to him when I'm done and say, 'what can I do for *you*, Big Blue?'

"And he smiles at me. Just -- smiles. Silent and silent and fucking *silent*... until it occurs to me that I'm not seeing a *Superman* smile at all. It was an old smile, and a *hard* smile, and -- I had to shiver a little. He wasn't wearing the uniform, and he wasn't wearing Clark-Kent clothes, either. He was just in this simple black t-shirt and jeans, and it was all...

"He looked *smaller* than Superman. And a whole lot more real."

Tim licks his lips. "Kal."

"Uh, huh. Only I didn't know that, yet, so I was busy wondering if maybe *Clark* had had the kind of bad day we *all* have nightmares about."

"Oh... dear. Yes, that sounds rather acutely horrifying."

"Even I wasn't numb enough to be immune to that. I started thinking about getting away, realized that wasn't gonna happen even a little, started thinking about how I could maybe try to talk him down, realized that I didn't even remotely have the chops for *that*, and then I just thought to myself... 'okay, I'm gonna have to survive for long enough to get the word out. I'll just focus on *that*.' I took a deep breath and... relaxed.

"Kal nodded then, and his smile... well, it got a little softer. And a hell of a lot warmer. He cupped my face, and all I could think -- his hand is smooth. No calluses. No anything but *heat*.

"He stroked my cheek.

"And then he said, 'come home with me,' and his voice was quiet and reasonable and warm and *clear*... and it was absolutely an *order*. Ollie hadn't given me any real orders in years. *No* one had, and a part of me was suddenly fourteen years old and *needy*, and a part of me was fucking *incredulous* -- no *way* does anyone wake up and think 'Superman is gonna hit on me today,' you know?"

Tim laughs softly and pushes a bit closer. "Really not. Well -- it's possible that Dick does. Sometimes."

"Nah, little 'mano. If Dick ever started *thinking* about how much he gets hit on, he'd lose everything left of his *mind* and never leave his damned *apartment*. You know that."

"I -- well. Yes, you're right. Go on, please."

"Sure thing. The *rest* of me was thinking -- fuck this. I've got shit to *do*, and a man to see about the best horse in the *world*. So I tell him, 'no thanks,' and back off -- only there's nothing even like a pause before that hand is on my *throat*, and I'm remembering that I should maybe go back to being terrified.

"'Come home with me,' he says, again, and his voice hasn't changed even a little. I start to ask him what the fuck is *wrong* with him, and he smiles *warmly* and touches my mouth with the fingers of his other hand. You know, the one *not* around my throat. And he says...?"

"'No questions.'"

"Uh, huh. Over time, I figured out what a fantastic way that was to narrow a sub's focus, to get him -- or her -- started down the road to where they needed to be. Right then... right *then*, my cock twitched and I thought to myself 'why not? Why the fuck *not*? If Clark wants a piece, then I'll show him what he *gets* when he messes with me.' Now, mind you, I had no fucking clue what that *meant*. I mean, really, I was *barely* nineteen. I'd been fucking my way through the world since Ollie first bought me that pro --"

"He did *what*?"

"Heh. That's another story, little 'mano. But yeah. Happy -- and *traumatic* -- fourteenth birthday, right there. Anyway. I was no virgin, and I'd even made love a few times -- with Dick and with Dinah --"

"Oh. My. Um -- yes, please continue."

Roy grins at him. "I'm never gonna tell Ollie about it. Unless he *really* pisses me off -- Dinah gave me permission to do just that if he did. Anyway, I knew just enough about sex to think I was hot shit, and I thought -- I'll blow his freaky alien mind and *then* I'll get down to the real business of the rest of my hopefully short life. I said, 'sure, I'll go home with you,' and the next thing I knew I was bare-ass naked in the *Fortress* -- a place I'd only heard a *little* about from Dick.

"And Kal started explaining the new facts of life, starting with his name. As he talked, he led me deeper into the Fortress, showing me the sights with a casual voice, leading me along... until we reached a place that managed to look like a bedroom and a *temple* at once. By that point, I was wondering if I was *already* on the nod, if maybe some of my H got laced with something interesting and the last eight weeks had been a nasty dream...

"Anyway. He pointed to a wall and told me to go there. I asked him why. He shook his head and said, 'that's one,' and pointed to the wall again. I asked him why again, and he said 'two' and kept pointing. I laughed. I told him he was gonna have to prove to me that he was *worth* it.

"And the next thing I knew I was up in the air with that mouth, that hot, powerful, *hot* mouth wrapped around me and I was screaming and jerking like the teenager I *used* to be. Right before I would've come down his throat, he set me down on my feet -- and pointed to the wall. I asked him why *again* --

"And then I was just *at* the wall, and *then*? I was halfway *in* the wall, getting pushed and pulled until I was positioned right about how you were against the door."

"Oh. You -- was the AI doing the... ah... pushing?"

"Uh, huh. Kal was good enough *that* time to let me hear all the orders he was giving the AI in English, but he didn't always."

Tim shivers a little. "That's... intimidating. On a number of levels. Despite the fact that my grasp of Kryptonian is fair enough... well."

"Mm, yeah. Mine is, too, at this point. So Kal just speaks it too fast for a human ear to parse -- or too quietly. Once I was all trussed up -- he had me tilted back a little, just enough that I had to strain to see his face when he wasn't floating -- he told me that I would be punished for my questions, and asked me if I preferred to be punished with pain or pleasure."

Tim... believes that sound is something like a squawk. "Um?"

"See... I don't know if I wanna tell you this part or not. I think I want you *surprised* when I do that to you... heh. Yeah. Let's just say he punished the *hell* out of me and that, by the time he was done doing that, I was begging for *pain*."

Tim moans and -- realizes that he's gripping his own penis. He's not hard, but a part of him wants to maybe *warn* his penis, or comfort it, or -- he has no idea.

And Roy is grinning at him *sunnily* again.

"Fine, mock me all you want --"

"Oh, it's not mockery, pretty baby. It's *appreciation*. It is, in fact, a certain joie de vivre."

Tim snorts --

"What? I can be classy if I want."

Tim smiles helplessly and, he suspects, at least half as fondly as he actually feels --

"Mm. *So* sweet. And Kal... well. After he got me off three times in... I don't even know how long. It could've been days -- I was that strung out on it. Anyway, *after*... he explained the rules to me *again*. This time, they stuck pretty good. Especially since he didn't actually let me leave the Fortress for a week."

"A whole *week*? But --"

"Remember -- I was *off* the street. Two days in, I asked for permission to call Dinah to make sure she knew that I was okay. He let me do it, I told her I was visiting an extremely sober friend, thanked her for everything she'd done for me for about the eighteenth time, convinced her that I wasn't planning on offing myself -- apparently I sounded just a little *too* calm -- and confessed that the sober friend was -- heh -- *Clark*.

"That relaxed her enough that she told me an extremely *filthy* story about the time some weird space-pollen got sucked into the Watchtower's filters... I. Hey. *Did* Bruce write about that one?"

Tim smiles a little more widely. "In language so dry it makes his usual prose seem absolutely florid. I know who became... involved with whom, but nothing more than that."

"God, that's a *crying* shame. You'll come out to Star City for a weekend sometime and we'll get Dinah drunk enough to share details. Though I gotta admit, I never really wanted to think about Barry that way. Hal didn't surprise me even a little, though. He was *always* kind of a freak."

"*Really*? The way the other heroes talk about him --"

"It's called *eulogizing*, little 'mano. Remember, this is a man who once spent about three months with no one to talk to but a starfish. A man who was best buds with Ollie *and* Barry."

"I just... I had assumed that was proof of a desire for *balance* --"

"What it was? Was proof of a desire for *conflict*. And lots of it. He was... kind of lonely guy, and it twisted him up something awful. One day I walked in on him... he had bought a bunch of cheap glasses, and he was using his constructs -- about four dozen different ones -- to smash them all. The whole time he was just talking and smiling about the 'persistence of memory' and how much he missed his father... yeah. Another time, he put the moves on me when he was drunk. I was about sixteen and Ollie was screwing this chick they'd picked up at a bar somewhere..." And Roy looks thoughtful and a little distant.

"Was it... uncomfortable?"

"Hell, yeah, it was. I was a kid -- but I was smart enough to know that those were some *real* deep waters. At the same time... well, I was a little lonely, myself, and Hal was always a damned good-looking man. I would've gone for it -- I started *to* go for it -- but once I was cupping him through his pants... Well, he gave me long enough to feel him *twitch*, and then he jumped up off the couch so fast he nearly fell over. He made a construct of *himself* to hold him up, apologized incoherently, and was out the door before I could think of anything to say." Roy sighs. "Shift off and let's just lie together for a while?"

Tim nods and does it, and they settle in together, Roy twining his legs with Tim's own and cupping Tim's waist --

"What position do you sleep in?"

"On my stomach, usually. Unless I'm ill or especially exhausted."

"Seriously? *You* sleep on your stomach?"

"Bruce offered to teach me how to do otherwise -- multiple times, even -- but the fact that he didn't make it an order... well, I find it comforting."

"To leave your *back* exposed?"

Tim smiles. "You *could* think of it that way. Or you could think of it as making sure my most sensitive places are warm and safe."

"And maybe just a little held?"

"I admit nothing. Certainly not to any tendencies which would imply that I had a stark and lonely childhood warmed only by the light of obsession and a touch of monomania."

"See, and you *say* that like it's a joke, but --"

"Believe me when I say that a part of me knows full well that it isn't. I... a week? With Kal?"

"The first time, yeah, and I *will* just let you change the subject --"

"Thank you --"

"You're welcome. I've never spent that long with him since -- but that doesn't mean I haven't wanted to. I... I'm actually under a standing order to call him whenever things get too rough for me."

"I -- oh." Of course Roy doesn't actually --

He wouldn't have *survived* this long without having people he can call on when he needs them -- much less thrived the way he's done.

"I'm glad you have him, Roy."

Roy gives him a distinctly skeptical look -- and then blinks and nods in the way which has come to mean that he's realized yet another embarrassing thing about him. And the only way to deal with *that*...

Tim sighs. "Yes, I am a little jealous of him. I recognize that I'm being even more adolescent than I have been --"

"You're *allowed*, little 'mano."

"No, I... think not. You may not mind me being tiresome, but *I* do... and yes, I believe I'll draw the line right there. I'm glad you have a support system, and, more than that, I'm glad that you have friends, lovers, and... a dom?"

Roy smiles ruefully. "*Kal* likes it when I call him..." <<Father.>>

Tim blinks. "I... and that's what you say when you call him to you?"

Roy's smile gets wider. "If he *wasn't* paying attention to this, he is *now*."

And that... is ultimately unsurprising. But. "Will he *expect* you to... offer me on the proverbial silver platter?"

"I wouldn't be shocked if he made it an order... but I'd be fucking stunned if he made it the kind of order I couldn't safeword out of."

Tim nods thoughtfully. "You *do* have a safeword with him."

"Not an official one, no. But..." Roy shakes his head. "We're talking about a man who can *taste* -- from a distance -- when I'm freaking out. Who can taste the difference between the good kind of freaking out, the neutral kind of freaking out, and the *bad* kind of freaking out. And... he pays attention."

"From the beginning? I would think he would've needed time to establish a *baseline*, at the very least..."

Roy shrugs. "The fact is -- and this is a fact he hates with all of himself -- that he's Superman *all* the time. Those powers don't go anywhere, even when he wishes they would."

"I think... I would want to have the chance to get to know him -- all of him -- before we tried to do anything... exciting."

"That's entirely fair, little 'mano. Of course -- I'd *highly* recommend jumping into the deep end as soon as you're even a little bit confident for the maximum rush."

"Hn. Adrenaline junkie."

"*Vigilante*. Just like you," Roy says, stroking down to Tim's hip and squeezing. "You okay?"

"Yes --"

"*Think* about the question for a minute, Tim. You went all noble on me a minute ago."

"Well... I *am* a hero, Roy," Tim says, and bats his lashes.

"What you *are*... is incredibly tempting. Addictive, even. Are you *okay*?"

"I. Wednesday."

Roy sighs and pushes closer, breathing warm and soft against Tim's mouth. "Want you, baby."

"You -- don't ever have to ask --"

"Are you --"

"No. I'm not okay. And I'm not going to be okay until the next... date. And the next one after that, and the next one after *that*. I'm... going to need time to make all of myself believe this is real. And then I'll need more time to believe it's mine. And -- I think you understand that very well."

Roy sighs again, licks his lips --

Kisses Tim briefly and *firmly* --

"Every day, little 'mano. We'll talk every day -- even if we don't have jack shit to say. And -- we'll switch off calling."

"All right. I -- I believe it's my turn tomorrow."

"Uh, huh. This *will* get easier for you. I promise. It won't take all that much time, at all."

And if it does, he'll just keep it to himself --

"*And*... you'll have your other assignment to work on."

Hell. "Bruce."

"Just let him make you come screaming two or three times. I'm not greedy."

Tim snorts and -- deals with the fact that it feels good, feels right, feels warm, feels -- altogether too pleasant to be borne stoically. "I think part of the problem is that you keep insisting on making me happy."

Roy pats Tim's hip. "I know, baby. I'm cruel and awful in *every* possible way, and there's going to come a time when I tie you up and tell you ridiculously true stories about the various members of our community until you're breathless with laughing and so stoned on it that... heh. You'll wind up being even *more* emotionally honest."

"I don't suppose you'll let me commit suicide after that."

"Not a chance."

"Hm. I hate you."

Roy kisses Tim's nose. "Back at you. Take a nap."

Tim hums and closes his eyes.


Tuesday is his bi-monthly day to escape the small campus with Steph and treat her to food with just as little culinary value as what gets served in the cafeteria, but which has the cachet of being that much greasier.

Grease, as Steph has told him multiple times, is an important part of the teenager's diet.

Right now, Steph has her eyes narrowed in uncomplicated pleasure as she bites into a cheeseburger that is probably chock full of -- no.

Tim isn't allowed to think thoughts like that on excursion days. He turns, instead, to his 'cheese' fries and the remains of the chicken sandwich which is, in fact, the closest thing this place has to a healthy lunch option.

Steph has been known to glare at him for the better part of an evening when he doesn't eat every last yellow-gooped fry. He's allowed to not finish the chicken, and his theory on the matter is that Steph believes the bleached-white color of the meat is due to it being mostly breast. Were he to disabuse her of this notion, he would undoubtedly have to eat the whole thing --

And Steph is smiling at him with her eyes. The cornflower color of them matches what Tim thinks was the original color of the walls here. Years of built-up smoke and fat and --

He's not thinking about it. He eats another fry and washes it down with his grape Zesti. Steph approves wholeheartedly of his addiction to Zesti products --

All right, now Steph is *laughing* at him with her eyes, and that's --

More than enough reason to make his expression prissy enough to, perhaps, give Roy an erection. And on *that* note... "I saw him last night."

Steph stops chewing and stares at him. And then swallows a bite which can't possibly fit in her esophagus -- it does. Steph is remarkable in this way and many others -- "*Well*?"

Tim smiles. "It was amazing. Just... amazing."

Steph bounces a little and makes a sound she probably won't want to admit to -- "Oh my God, you just made me peep."

"It was a very strong peep," Tim says, and realizes that there's a bit of fry stuck to one of his back teeth. He drinks more soda -

And Steph grins and blushes at *once*.


"I -- totally can't decide if I want you to tell me what you actually *did*."

"Oh. Um. Well. I *would* tell you if you wanted me to --"

"I know, because you're awesome. But. Um. What kind of kisser is he?"

"Ah... well. Is it enough to say that he's very, very good at it?"

Steph waves a hand. "No. There are totally kiss categories. Like, me? I'm a moderately aggressive kisser with high levels of noise. You -- left to your own devices, anyway -- are a non-aggressive and quiet kisser. *Cass* is a very aggressive and dead silent kisser --"

"Oh. Oh?"

Steph blushes and bites her lip for a moment -- "Um. Yes. Anyway --"

"But -- when?"

"She crawled in my window last night with a stack of fashion magazines and -- and maybe she smelled like all the perfume samples and maybe I really had to hustle her into the shower and also maybe I joined her. Um. Maybe."

Tim blinks and pictures it --

Tries to stop picturing it --

Continues to picture it --

Steph reaches across the table and smacks him.

"I'm okay! I mean. Um. Good? I mean -- that's good. Right?"

Steph blushes a little harder and drags one of her fries through the mound of catsup on her plate. "Yes. Yes, it's. She giggled. After she came. Like -- a lot. A lot, a lot."

Tim has, in fact, experienced Cassandra giggling, but it was only once, and it was because a knife-wielding dealer had slipped on a bit of trash in an alley while running for them -- slipped so spectacularly that he'd wound up doing part of a backflip before landing on his head -- and so it's difficult to apply his memories to... Steph's new reality. He decides to go with, "hm."

Steph snorts at him. "Tim."

"I -- yes?"

"How much are you freaking out? Like -- seriously."

"I'm -- not sure I would call it 'freaking out,' Steph --"


"No, I mean. Ah..." Tim takes another sip of soda, enjoying the sting of the greater degree of carbonation one tends to get from fountain sodas as opposed to cans -- "All right, I think I am freaking out. But. It's not jealousy."

Steph narrows her eyes at him.

"I don't *think* it's jealousy."


"It's jealousy. I mean. I'm jealous. Of Cassandra. Because -- she could do things I couldn't. With you. And I think... I think a part of me just wants to point out that that's not fair, considering how *many* different things she can do that I can't."

Steph frowns. "Are you seriously comparing macking on me to, like, a triple backflip ending in a split-kick which knocks two big guys unconscious and causes another three big guys to accidentally shoot each other?"

Technically, Tim can do that now. Cassandra had taught him how. "Ah... maybe a little?"

"You're incredibly gay."

"This is true --"

"And it's real damned cute that you're jealous... even though I don't want you to be," Steph says, and hooks her leg around Tim's under the table.

Tim squeezes her with his calf. "I'm going to try not to be jealous. Are you. You've never seemed jealous."

"I was, though. Back when you weren't doing anything with anyone."

Tim blinks. "I. What?"

"Yeah, I know that doesn't make any sense. It was just..." Steph shakes her head. "I knew that you *could* be doing something with some hot superhero at any time, and... basically I needed time to get used to the idea."

Tim nods slowly. "I love you."

Steph smiles at him. "Then eat more fries."

Tim eats more fries.

Steph finishes her burger and hums in pleasure before turning to her -- chocolate, *always* -- shake. She fights a near-constant battle with herself over those shakes. Or, rather, over whether to get a soda to drink *with* the shake. She has explained to him that it's basically a no-win situation, being as how she either gets a soda and then becomes too full to properly appreciate the shake, or she skips the soda and winds up consuming too much of the shake while eating the rest of her food.

When Tim had suggested that she simply get a *small* drink -- perhaps even one which wasn't carbonated --

Even Alfred isn't capable of giving looks so withering as a Steph who is forced to educate her boyfriend -- yet again -- on the rules of diner food. He... probably shouldn't mention what Roy had said about Tim wanting to marry her.

Probably --

"You... totally couldn't handle hearing about what me and Cass did. Right?"

Tim looks up and meets Steph's eyes, seeing ruefulness, curiosity, hope -- "Anything, Steph. You can... I always want you to tell me things about your life."

"Even sticky girly things?"

I watched you give *birth* -- no --

"Then again, it's possible that you know more about my bits than my *gynecologist*."

"Ah -- probably not that much --"

"*Yes* that much, because I actually *talk* to you about my she-parts."

Tim frowns. "You don't like your gynecologist?"

Steph waves a hand -- and the gesture misses being airy by about three miles. "I don't like the way she looks at me."

"Steph --"

"No, I. It's just that it's *real* damned clear how she feels about women who don't *keep* the babies God gives them."

Tim winces. "Let's find you a new doctor."

"It's a *pain*, Tim --"

"Steph. I may not spend much quality time with your... ah... she-parts, but I like them healthy and... healthy. My boss knows any number of qualified physicians --"

"Who take *my* mom's insurance?"

"Who either take your mother's insurance or who will suddenly decide that they *need* to take your mother's insurance."

Steph giggles. "After you maybe kneecap them?"

Tim shows his teeth and dances Steph's spoon over his knuckles. Belligerently.

Steph *snorts*. "Okay, I surrender -- wait, you never told me what kind of kisser your boyfriend is."

He has a *boyfriend*... who wants Tim to think of him as his lover. "He's... he changes. Sometimes he's very aggressive, and moderately loud. Sometimes he's more demanding than aggressive, and thus encourages *me* to be aggressive. Sometimes he's quite gentle and... um. He often interrupts the kissing to say... things."

Steph raises her eyebrows. "What are things?"

"I. Ah. He's really quite good at... dirty talk."

"And you *like* that?"

Tim blushes. "Very... very much. We... ah. Misused comms the other night."

"You did *not*!"

Tim winces and makes the quiet gesture --

"Oh, no *way*, Tim, you -- you wouldn't even let me tell dirty *jokes* over the comm," Steph says, but her voice is actually somewhat more quiet.

"I could say something, here, about how, at the time, I was deathly afraid of *breathing* wrong around my boss, but..."

"We both know that's not the whole of it. I --" Steph shakes her head again, almost tossing her hair a little. "I can't *believe* you. I mean -- does he do that kind of thing all the time?"

"He is... popular in the community. By which I mean he absolutely has that sort of reputation."

"Tim, is this where I warn you about bad boys? Because -- uh. Wait, who *is* his baby mama? Are you about to have some chick flying in your window at night and shooting you with laser beams for taking her man?"

Tim suspects that he's blanching impressively --

"*Who*? It's not Power Girl, is it? Because she could kill you with her *tits*."

"Ah... she would be the better option, really. Ah. Have you... heard of Cheshire?"

Steph's jaw drops.

"Yes. I. Apparently they parted amicably? As amicably as that sort of thing could possibly be."

Steph shakes herself like a dog. "*Tim*. Does the word 'baggage' mean *anything* to you?"

Tim winces. "It's. I don't mind carrying that weight. At all."

"See, and I'd say that must *prove* that he's awesome in the sack, but it's you, so all that it proves is that you really, really, *really* like him."

"We... well. We spent some time just dozing together. It felt. It felt the way it does when I get the chance to do that with you."

Steph's expression softens -- and she takes a long slurp of her shake. "I uh. Me and Cass cuddled some, too."

"Is she... cuddly?"

"Once you get her started, yeah," Steph says, and looks somewhat dreamy. "She's also *really* good at translating my random shimmies and pushes to 'put your tits on me again,' which is awesome."

Tim smiles ruefully. "You're making me wonder how many of your messages I've missed."

Steph reaches across the table and pats Tim's cheek. "Eat those last two fries and I'll tell you."

Tim eats the fries, ignoring the plastic-y texture as best he can --

"*All* of them, you dumbass. That's why I *tell* you how to cuddle me."

Tim winces. "I'm --"

"No, don't apologize. It's *not* your fault --"

"Don't. Don't mention my parents."

Steph frowns. "I wasn't gonna rag on 'em, boyfriend. You know I don't do that. Besides, I like Dana a lot."

"I know. I know. It's just -- well. He and my brother actually showed up for dinner last night. And... he could see... things. About my family dynamics."

"Oh... honey. Okay, first -- already doing the family dinner thing tells *me* that maybe your man's rep isn't *all* deserved. Second, having to watch you be a lying liar of lyingness with your family is enough to mess anyone up."

"It -- you never said it bothered you before."

Steph's smile is rather older than she is. "At first and for a long time I took it as proof that we could be good for each other. It's not like *my* family was all that happy and honest, you know."

Tim nods and squeezes Steph's leg with his own again. "Tell me more about Cassandra?"

Steph's smile becomes much, much better. "I thought, maybe, that she'd do it like we were sparring and so I was a little freaked --"

"A little?"

"Okay, a lot. But she was... really gentle. *Careful*. We... she said we would learn together, and then she smiled at me and hugged me and we spent about an hour making out and learning all the kisses that worked and giggling when the kisses *didn't* work and... yeah. By the time we were doing, you know, *other* things, I felt like I could float away *and* like I could just curl up and go to sleep."

"And that's... that's what you like?"

Steph's smile gets crooked. "I think so? I mean, I didn't really *play* all that much with my ex, as opposed to just letting my pussy lead me into doing stupid things that didn't even make my pussy all that *happy*. I want... I can see playing with Cass a lot, and learning and trying and *experimenting*. Um. Is that what it's like with -- your boyfriend?"

And -- yes, Tim's blushing. "He's... very experienced. And confident. And -- he deserves to be confident. I'd had a lot of ideas about what I would like to do... ah... sexually, but now all of those ideas almost seem childish. Small."

"He's... pushy?"

"Yes and no. He... ah. Well. We're... playing with BDSM."

Steph narrows her eyes *exactly* like she knows he'd just told a lie.

"All right, it's more than just playing. A lot more. I'd thought about that... very much. And we talked about it, and I... pushed him. I wanted him to show me, because I could tell how much he liked it, how experienced..." Tim shakes his head and feels his smile get shaky on his face. "It's incredible, Steph. It really... he. Makes me scream."

Steph blinks rapidly and... copiously. "He's... topping you? Like... you're the Boy Love Slave?"

Tim shifts a little in the booth -- and stops before all of the twinges in his nether regions can make him moan aloud and need to grab his *penis*.

"Uh... Tim?"

"Ah -- sorry. He was very clear about not wanting me to be his slave. When the -- metaphorical -- collar is off, it's off, and we relate to each other as equals. There's a great deal of talking and joking around, as well as a large amount of talking about our lives. Getting to know each other."

"And you don't think you should be doing that *before* you get into the whips and chains, boyfriend?"

"Ah... probably?" Tim laughs quietly. "Somehow that kind of logic doesn't work very well when I'm gazing into his eyes."

"Are they blue? Green?"

"Green. And... beautiful. Sharp. Full -- all the time."

"I don't know, Tim. I mean, that seems kind of... *how* much older is he?"

"Ten years. A few months older than my brother. And -- I'm okay. I'm *really* okay. And not just because we haven't done anything I would call serious. I... trust him."

Steph raises her eyebrows. "That sounds like a lot more than just *trust*. I mean -- I *hope* you wouldn't do stuff like that with someone you only trusted."

"I have to admit that there wasn't *much* more than that the first time, but..." Tim shakes his head helplessly. "I want him to meet you. I want... I want all of us to go out some night --"

"And do *what*?"

"Ah... all right, this is where I admit that the things I've told him about your personality have made him *interested* in you --"

"I am *not* getting whipped for *anyone*, boyfriend --"

"No, I know -- and that's not everything he does. I just. I would like for all of us to be friends, and I think that's actually possible."

Steph's expression speaks of *confusion* --


"I -- okay, 'possible' is totally not the most eager-sounding *word*, Tim. But your tone of voice... um?"

"Oh... well. I've never actually been this close to anyone I thought you could put up with."

Steph snorts. "*Seriously*?"

Tim spreads his hands. "The closest I could come up with -- before Arsenal -- was Superboy. And while I do believe you could spend a certain amount of time with him -- even having fun with him -- I also believe, in my heart, that it wouldn't take more than two hours for you to want to bludgeon him."

"He's your best friend!"

"Yes, he is, and he often makes me want to... well, not bludgeon him, per se. Perhaps just hypnotize him into a semi-conscious state... hm. He can be very... blithe. He's a wonderful person, loving and generous and kind. He's cheerful almost all of the time. He honestly cares about the world we live in, and about the various living creatures we're all surrounded by... blithe is a good way to put it. *Willfully* blithe is a better way to put it."

"That sounds a lot like 'willfully ignorant," Steph says, and narrows her eyes.

"No, not that. I wouldn't be able to take that. Just..." Tim thinks about it for a moment, absently holding up a hand.

Steph turns her attentions back to her shake. Or, rather, to the few stray molecules of shake which are left in the glass. Each slurp is punctuated with a small, pleased noise which makes Tim think things about Cassandra that he'd rather not think, at all.

And what would he have done if Cassandra *hadn't* been gentle with her? How would he have *coped*? Even *if* Steph had said that it was everything she wanted...

This isn't the first time that Steph has proven herself to be more capable of coping quickly and thoroughly than Tim himself. It won't be the last. Tim clears his throat, mainly because he can --

"Yeah, boyfriend? You figured it out, yet?"

"I -- love you."

Steph smiles at him and squeezes Tim's leg with her own. "And?"

"And -- he's young. In some ways he's younger now than he was when he was decanted. He's young and he's beautiful, and I want him to stay that way forever, and I'm not the only one who *feels* that way, and he *knows* that -- God, he's brilliant and he keeps that buried so *deeply* --" Tim stops and scrubs at his face with his hands. "He holds onto his youth with both hands. I need him to do just that, sometimes --"

"Because if he didn't, you'd have to admit that you'd left *your* youth behind about a decade ago?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "No more than, say, seven years."

Steph winks at him and mimes taking a picture.

Tim strikes as heroic a pose as possible, considering the leg cuddles and the nature of diner booths --

And Steph sighs. "So what you're saying is that you couldn't ever imagine me spending time with your best friend in the *universe*... but that that's mainly because you've been part of a conspiracy to make him into Peter Pan."

"I can't decide if I want to apologize to him or just beg him to keep. Not. Changing."

"You know what *I* have to vote for, boyfriend. You don't *get* to be a kid in that life."

That, not this. How retired *are* you, Steph? How long will this last? Tim squeezes her leg again instead of asking. "Someone -- there ought to be room for that sort of light. Life. Something."

Steph raises her eyebrows. "'Ought to?'"

Tim waves a hand. "Yes, I know. I do. I'll talk to him, and -- maybe he'll even listen. He really is *invested* in keeping things the same as much as possible --"

"Omnia mutantur," Steph *intones*.

"Nihil interit," Tim says, and raises an eyebrow.

"Yeah, tell that to your predecessor, why don't you?"

Tim winces. "All right, point. But -- it can't be a crime to want to hold on to happiness."

"It isn't. But it's *totally* a crime to hold yourself so far into the past that you can't have *today's* happiness, boyfriend. If you *didn't* know that, you'd still be mooning over Nightwing."

"I wouldn't say I've *stopped* mooning, but -- yes, you have a cogent point."

"I always do," Steph says, sticking her finger in the mound of catsup before sucking it clean.


"And maybe -- mm. Pass me the salt?"

Tim does, and watches Steph pour a truly frightening amount of it on her catsup before stirring it in and continuing to suck bits of it off her finger. He knows better than to suggest a utensil. "'Maybe?'"

"Maybe once he isn't repressing his, like, emotional HGH --"

"I like that."

"You can steal it," she says, picking a bit of dried cheese off Tim's plate and dipping *that* in the catsup.

"You are my personal miracle, Steph."

"Yep. Where was I?"

"Emotional HGH."

"Oh, yeah," she says, and takes a quick glance around the table for stray bits of food -- quite literally turning up her nose at the last few bites of chicken sandwich before turning back to him. "Maybe once you all let him be a *real* boy, you'll have more than one friend you want to introduce me to."

"It's not that I don't *want* to introduce you --"

"I know, I know. It was totally hyperbole."

Tim smiles helplessly.

"How much time before we have to head back?"

"Four minutes --"

"*God*, it's freaky how you can do that without a watch."

"It really isn't much of a trick, Steph. I mean, I'd be happy to teach you."

"No offense, boyfriend, but I'd rather *live* than be aware of every second of every -- hunh. Does it work when you're screwing?"

Tim -- blushes.

Steph grins. "And that would be a big, *fat* no. Heh. So he *is* that good."

"Um. Better, I'd have to say."

"*And* he wants to meet me."

"He... wondered how you would feel about... watching."

Steph makes a choked noise. "Okay, points for kink. And all those points and *then* some taken away for thinking that I'd want to watch freaky gay porn featuring my *boyfriend*. The boyfriend I don't get to *touch*."

Tim winces --

"Stop. It's not a huge, big, horrible deal. It's just -- not my kink. At least not at *this* point in time. I mean... uh. Would you really *want* me there?"

"I told him that it would feel... odd. Incestuous."

"I'm not your *sister*, Tim!"

"I know! I know. Really, it was just the closest word to what I was feeling that I could think of. It's more... I can't really imagine doing that with someone I both love and *can't* be with sexually."

Steph nods. "Which makes perfect sense, so, you know, go with it. But -- does that mean you think you could do it with someone you didn't love? Or -- with someone *else* you loved and wanted? Is he big on threesomes or something?"

"I think... I think that he's big on sex in general," Tim says, giving up and dipping his finger into the catsup.

Steph beams at him. "*Lick* it. *Lick* it. *Lick* --"

Tim licks -- "God, Steph, it's like a tomato-flavored salt lick --"

"I know, and that's *awesome*. Heh. But totally not for beginners -- *much* like your sex life."

Tim finishes off his soda to clear the taste from his mouth. "Noted. Shall we?"

Steph scoots out of the booth and offers Tim her arm. Tim stands and takes it, after first leaving money for the bill and the tip -- they've done this often enough that Tim knows the exact amount.

The waitress gives them a cheerful goodbye wave, and the cook flaps a towel at them in a way which may or may not be friendly. They *do* tend to tip better than the average high school student, so...

It's a question for another day. By the time they're back on campus, Steph's arm is around Tim's waist and she's humming a song which she almost certainly wouldn't admit was country.

Tim smiles.

"Shut up," she says, and goes back to humming.

Tim smiles just a bit more... and hums along.