A mind full of wonderment
by Te
February 23, 2011

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: References to older storylines. Takes place during an AU-ized version of Tim's retirement.

Summary: "At the very least, I'm going to commit several acts of brutal violence in the interest of getting thoroughly laid, and really, who among us hasn't done just that?"

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

Author's Note: Yet another from the boarding school multiverse, otherwise known as the And Each Moment Moved series. Specifically, this is a branch on the *third* fork, and so won't make a lick of sense without first reading A way so familiarThe glory as I dreamed, and There's science to do.

I am deathly afraid that this is going to be the beginning of yet another branching, and that I will actually have to teach myself some html in order to make it make any sense whatsoever on the page. Until then, though -- porn!

Acknowledgments: Much love and gratitude to ShadowValkyrie, Jack, and Mildred for audiencing, shocked noises, and encouragement. Mildred may never run out of bunnies for this multiverse, guys. Thank Blame her!


When one is embarking on a task which one knows will be both complicated and perilous, it behooves one to be as prepared as possible.

To that end, Tim spends every moment which hasn't been given to necessary body maintenance like sleeping and eating -- or to necessary emotional maintenance like finally, *finally* coming to know Bruce as a man --

A friend --

A lover --

A *father*, and Tim isn't really thinking of that as deeply as he could be because he can't, he really *can't* --

Not while he's still living with his stepmother and -- Jackson Drake.

But there are other moments, other things to do to *fill* those moments. He trains. He trains as he hasn't since he was thirteen. Back then, he knew he wouldn't be allowed onto the street until Bruce said so -- and he knew Bruce *wouldn't* say so for quite some time. Now...


Steph is Robin now, and doing far better than simply *well* at it. He's not -- precisely -- needed, and so he can and does pull out all the stops.

It was and wasn't a surprise how quickly Jackson acquiesced when Tim told him that he *would* go back to training his body as he saw fit. He had discussed the matter with Bruce during the time he'd allotted for them to cuddle --

("Perhaps it was something in your eyes.")

And the way Bruce had said *that* suggested a certain steeliness of gaze Tim has only ever managed with the white-out lenses, but Tim thinks it's all right -- and even fitting -- that Bruce should have moments of pure, impractical romanticism, too.

("My love...")

Yes, that.

He trains, and he *keeps* training, losing the eight pounds he'd put on in his time of -- of *lethargy* --

He's not thinking about that time. He's not --

It's just --

("*Teach* him, darling.")


*Lex* --

Lex. Lex.

Slate-colored eyes and a soft mouth. Clever hands and raw, feverish *energy*. Hunger.

("You need this.")

He's not -- entirely -- sure about that. He *does* have Bruce, and Steph -- well, she's been quite clear about her feelings. She thinks he should be on the street *with* her, and certainly it would be worth it just to see that *delightfully* demented look Bruce gets in his eyes whenever someone mentions there being more than one Robin --


Not yet. He --

He might not *need* Lex --

("I'll save the nobility for *you* --")

He might not --

There wasn't *time* to -- to fall in love or anything like that --


Yes. Yes.

He could teach. He's -- well, he's quite *good* at figuring out what other people need, just in general. He's not always good at *providing* it, but --

If he's needed --

But it's not -- quite -- time for that. He's not *ready* for that, yet, not ready to take what he *wants* --

Tim releases the upper bar and spins and turns himself into a dismount which is showy *only* in terms of how perfect it is.

He's *almost* ready.


Tim hums and checks over his heavy-duty belt for the fourth time. He has tanglers. He has explosive pellets by the score. He has shuriken and smoke pellets and knock-out pellets and tranq darts and flash-bangs and sodium thiopental -- you never know -- and zip-strips.

He has *two* belt knives.

He has the taser-staff.

The lock-picks in his fingernail have been freshly replaced.

The steel in his boots is heavier than it used to be to reflect his new strength.

The steel in his *gauntlets* makes him feel like Jason, and perhaps that's why he's doing this by the Case. Perhaps --

"You knew that there were things *only* Robin could do. I know you did."

Jason's mask stares down into him so --

Bruce and Steph are long gone for the night. Alfred is upstairs. Cass is in the 'haven with Dick --

They're all alone.

Tim shivers. "You also knew that you were -- that there were times when Robin deserved everything he could *take*."

And for a moment Tim *is* thirteen again, harder, stronger, *readier* than he'd ever been in his life and full --

So *fucking* full of the need to *move*, and *do*, and -- yes -- take.

Tim grins at the R on Jason's chest. "I think you'll find, Mr. Todd, that the time has come to, as the kids say, rock and roll."

He thinks he can *feel* Jason laughing for that, laughing at him for being *ridiculous*, but maybe --

Maybe also a *kind* of worthy --

Tim jogs for his bike -- Bruce had gotten Steph *new* bikes -- flips his helmet on, and takes off.

At this time of night, the drive to Metropolis should be smooth and clear and easy.

Tim floors it just the same.

It had been --

Finding that universe through the multiversal transporter had been --

Well, a part of him *still* hasn't gotten over the shock of watching a twenty-seven-year-old Bruce making out with a coeval Lex Luthor while *Clark* looked on *beaming* --


It felt good to obsess about that world, about those *people* and their search for -- him.

Or *not* him. A boy who could've *been* him so easily --

A boy who had lied to them and manipulated them and *seduced* them, and how could he *not* obsess about that? What possible way could there have been not to --

Not to *need* --

'Tom Wayne' had shown Bruce and Lex --

And he doesn't even *miss* the Tim who could only refer to the man as *Luthor* --

'Tom Wayne' had given them the *worst* of himself in so many ways, and still managed to make them fall in love with him, still managed to get something so --

So fucking *rare* --

And to find it then, to see that *then* when Tim had been convinced that he'd never truly have --

No, not that. He is -- Bruce has been *abundantly* clear about the *fact* that he has no intention of letting Tim doubt that he's needed --

Loved --

And perhaps he should be questioning the drive to do this. Just -- a little.

Dana and Jackson aren't going to be happy about his vacation to Metropolis -- assuming he survives long enough to call them. *Bruce* isn't going to be happy about it. At the very least, it's reckless to walk into hostile territory without backup.

(Bruce already knows what he's doing. He *must* know --)

Tim shakes it off and pushes it aside -- all of it, including the urge to remember every nuance of Lex's mouth on his penis --

His own mouth on *Lex's* penis --

The taste of him so *mildly* male --

Tim growls and pushes the bike up over a hundred. He's not --

("Take what you want."

"Or else?"

"No, darling. If you *don't* take what you want... you can just continue to not have it. Day after day, week after week... how long before you crack, do you think?)

Hn -- no. Not that.

He has been given concrete proof of what's possible when he allows himself to move beyond the bounds of his fears and doubts and *dithering*.

He won't waste time.


A rooftop entrance was tempting for any number of reasons, but the simple fact of the matter is that Lex *strongly* dislikes Superman. While *most* of the traps on the LexCorp tower roof are undoubtedly designed with Kryptonians in mind, Lex *also* dislikes the vast majority of Superman's friends and allies -- all of whom use rooftops as a matter of course.

There's no reason to get himself killed before he even has the chance to *greet* the man -- so.

So. He parks his bike in the loading area, scans his surroundings --


He smiles at the most obvious camera, inclines his head, and then dismantles the keypad just enough to allow himself to jack in with his palmtop and several of Oracle's most illegal --

"Some little bird is being very, very interesting right now," Oracle says in his ear.

Tim grins and continues to wait for the password 'sniffer' to work. "I do try."

"Hmm. Is there a reason for this excursion...?"

Well -- "I plan to seduce Lex Luthor to the side of goodness and light."

Oracle is silent for a long moment.

Tim hums a snatch of a song he doesn't quite remember and slips a mic through the hole he'd bored in the door --

Yes, there *are* several heavily-armed and armored mercenaries waiting for him. It really is very difficult to stop smiling.


"Oracle --"

"This line is clear. Listen to me carefully --"

"I haven't been drugged. I'm not being mind-controlled. At the very least, I'm going to commit several acts of brutal violence in the interest of getting thoroughly laid, and really, who among us hasn't done just that?"

A snort through the voice-scrambler is quite a bit like listening to a metallic dog being beaten to death --

Tim hums again. He likes that metaphor.

The sniffer's telltales turn yellow -- almost there.

"*Tim*, Prime is off-planet --"

"Yes, I know."

"I have no way to get you backup --"

"I don't plan on needing any," Tim says, and coils the mic back in before pulling out a flash-bang.

Worrying silence -- hm.

"It's all right, Oracle. I *won't* be murdering anyone."

"I wasn't worried about that, but now I *am*, Tim --"

"Please, Oracle. I'm on *vacation*."

"Do you have any idea what I'm going to do to your resurrected corpse after I have you dumped in a Lazarus Pit?"

Tim grins at the camera he *knows* Oracle is controlling. "Oh. I have my hopes."

That was more of a *splutter* --

Green telltales.

Tim unhooks the palm-top, punches in the code --

"One last time --"

"I'm afraid not. Robin out," Tim says, and waits for the doors to iris open just a little bit more --

There. He tosses in the flash-bang --

Bullets *rip* through the air --

And then there's the heavy crack of the thing going off and the sound of angry men and women cursing --


Tim scuttles in low, counting two dozen heads -- yes, they're all armored well enough. A few explosive pellets while he runs around in the kill-zone being distracting to the few of them capable of focusing on him --

Three holes in his brand-new cape --

The pellets blow and there are bodies flying. Very little blood as these things go, but -- yes, definitely several broken bones.

Tim uses his staff to dole out gentle head injuries, steals an extremely large hunk of plastique that a woman with lovely brown freckles over her nose was holding -- you never, *ever* know -- and advances.

Going from his memory of the tower schematics --

Left, yes, and up these stairs to *this* landing --

Duck out into the hall and keep the door open --

And there's the door-creak and thudding footsteps of another troop of mercenaries, coming down for him from three stories up. Tim doesn't particularly need *this* approach to the penthouse, so he waits until he can hear the mercenaries' panting breaths --

And then he tosses the next few explosive pellets, which do a wonderful job of turning the stairs into a smoking crater leading to the basement. Down go fourteen of the mercenaries, leaving the other ten to stitch the air with automatic weapons fire.

Tim tosses a tangler while he rolls and the flailing of the man it hits takes out *four* more of the mercenaries.

It must be kismet.

Tim pretends to be running for another stairwell --

Stops to listen --

"Upstairs, upstairs, upstairs!"

"We'll catch him on --"

"Shut the fuck up!"


Tim waits just a *little* bit longer -- and then dives into the crater, using his staff to take out the three mercenaries down here who were still capable of putting up a fight. They're not anymore.

Tim uses his smoke pellets to make it impossible for the cameras to pick up what he's up to as he walks through the halls --


An elevator *right* where Clark had thought it would be when he'd discussed the plans of the tower with Bruce during that last Lex-related bit of excitement. They'd never had to breach the tower, but -- it's important to remember things like this.

Oracle's sniffer gets the elevator open, and then it's just a matter of creating a trap at speed. He hasn't technically *needed* blasting caps since he'd gotten all the bugs out of his explosive pellets, but that doesn't mean he'd stopped carrying them.

He uses a *small* amount of the plastique for his trap, and sends the elevator up to the sixth floor, stepping out at the last moment and heading for the fire stairs.

Up and up and up --

The sound of panting breaths --

And, really, a part of him only wants to pat himself on the back for his ability to stress out highly-trained military personnel, but he has to admit that it's far more likely that the mercenaries are worried about Lex's reaction to failure.

And --

"Captain, he's on the elevator!"

"Do you have a *visual*?"

Ooh, there's a smart man --

"The elevator's programmed to stop on six!"

"*Fuck*, if he makes it that high -- go, go, *go*!"

Tim hums and follows them at a decorous distance --

"What are you planning to do when they figure out that you're smarter than they are, hmm...?"

Oh, *Oracle*...

"Go ahead and subvocalize. The pick-up is *that* good."

"As you say. I'm not on any particular timetable. I'm more than willing to fight a war of attrition."

"And when you make it to the promised land...?"

Tim smiles. "Well. Then I plan to be *very* clever. One moment," and Tim peeks --

Yes, they're really *all* waiting in front of the elevator. One of them -- presumably the captain -- *is* still looking around, but --

This is almost *unfair*.

Not that he's ever been particularly enamored of fighting fair, but still. Tim eases back into the stairwell --

And drops to avoid the knives which would've taken him in the eyes. Mercy. So soon!

Tim tosses a tangler --

Mercy dodges and whips out her nine millimeter --

Tim's shuriken hits her in the wrist, but she *doesn't* drop the gun --

Tim's *next* two shuriken take her in the forehead, making her spin --

But she whips her gun hand around and fires twice, perforating Tim's cape a little more --

"Shots fired, shots fired!"

"Ramirez, Jones, hit that stairwell n--"

But then Tim's trap blows up in their faces, and that, as they say, is that. Still, Mercy doesn't even *flinch* for the sound of the explosion, and all the bleeding she's doing just seems to be pissing her off. So.

*Batarang* to her gun hand, just a little more viciously than spec --

And that's the crack of bone breaking before she drops the gun -- and reaches for her ankle piece.

"No," Tim says, and shocks her with his staff to stun her enough --

The shot from *Hope's* nine-millimeter spins him, but the armor can handle it and, more to the point, he has all sorts of experience handling situations like this one. And that's what he's going to keep telling himself as he moves --

Strikes and moves and *moves* --

And Mercy has her other gun. Wonderful. The only possible option is to create a crossfire situation *without* getting shot again, and this is just as challenging as it should be with two extremely well-trained assassins. Still, he lives in a multiverse in which all sorts of things are possible, including *this* leaping tumble --

This double-toss of smoke pellets --

And just a few more of the *explosive* pellets, and really, it's possible he should care about how little armor Mercy and Hope are wearing, but, at the moment, he has to admit that he's more focused on getting out of --


-- range. Hm.

"Tim, what *was* that? *Answer* me --"

"Ah... well..." Tim coughs out dust and eyes his perimeter. "One moment."

"Are you all *right*?"

Tim coughs a few more times. "My hair is a mess and I think I must look like I'm wearing blackface, but -- yes. Let me check on Lex's pet assassins."

"You -- fine. Wait, tell me what --"

"I seem to have over-packed at least one of my pellets. One moment."

Tim finds Mercy's shoes first -- the leather will never be the same. Then he finds Hope's *guns*.

Then he finds a crater. Hm. "Possibly -- possibly I over-packed more than one."


"Just a second." Yes, he can hear Mercy groaning and Hope snoring. Wetly. He pulls out his flashlight and checks --

Well, both of Mercy's legs appear to be broken, but she's focusing well as she glares at him from the crater. She'll be fine. Tim shoots her with two of the four-hour tranq darts, thinks about it, then shoots her with a non-steroidal painkiller.

He waits the two minutes it takes for the darts to take effect, then another three for good measure, then shoots his grapple into the ceiling and rappels down into the crater and takes a better look at Hope.

From a distance.

Well, her arm is bent back in an unfortunate position and she's going to have a very large scar on her forehead, but she does seem to be in better shape than Mercy, overall --


"They're definitely not dead," Tim says, and shoots Hope twice. "But they're rather more damaged than I intended. Lex isn't going to be happy about this."

"Are you -- just tell me that you're *aware* of how crazy you're being right now?"

"Oh -- absolutely. It probably shouldn't feel this good, but --"

"It absolutely does?"

"Mm-hmm. Well, while I'm down here I might as well hack the security grid --"

Oracle sighs. "Check your palm-top."

"Oh. Really?"

"I was *bored*, all right?"

Tim beams. "Well. I know how it feels to have a little too much time on one's hands."

Oracle mutters something which probably isn't at *all* complimentary, so Tim checks out the grid. Lex puts tracers in each and every one of his security personnel, and --

There they all are. A huge cluster in the loading area. Another in that basement over *there*.

Another several by the elevators --

And Mercy and Hope.

The upper floors are pristine. Tim hums his pleasure, steals Mercy's all-access pass, and heads back up out of the crater.

He spares a few moments to check on the mercenaries by the elevators and dole out extra head injuries to the conscious ones, then jogs briskly to the *private* elevator.

Mercy's pass works well, and -- he's here.

And Lex isn't pointing a gun at him, yet. All's well.


"Yes, Teen Psycho?"

"Do you have any idea where his bathroom is?"

"What did I tell you about going before you leave the house?"

"Hnn. Say, if I do get out of this alive --"

"I'm *going* to *resurrect* you. Don't make me repeat myself again."

"Of course, but -- road trip?"

"Tim, I would spend the entire trip wondering when you were going to drive us off a cliff just to see what the boom sounded like."

Tim coughs. "I'm hardly *reckless* --"

"Judging by the plumbing set-up, the bathroom should be four hundred yards north by northeast."

"Thank you kindly."


Tim jogs *there*, and -- yes, his hair is terrible and his face is worse. He washes up quickly and thoroughly, neatens his hair as best he can without product -- he doesn't want to offend Lex's sensibilities -- and then takes a tube of lipstick out of *that* pocket.

"You're *not* serious."

"Ask B about Lex's relationship to glam," he says, then applies the lipstick both quickly and neatly.

Then a little blush for his cheeks --

And then he flips his lenses up to check on the eyeliner he applied earlier -- still in good shape. He flips his lenses back down.

"Why -- wait. You're saving the eyeliner for a reward."

"Precisely. Master bedroom?"

"Out the door, take a right --"

"I see it," Tim subvocalizes, because -- Lex is asleep.

Lex is --

Lex, according to Clark, nearly always sleeps in boxer-briefs. They're not visible now. What *is* visible...

Well, his musculature is slightly heavier than that of the Lex from the other universe. Nearly two decades of rich living will do that -- though, of course, Lex hasn't been out of shape since sometime before Lois Lane dubbed Clark 'Superman'.

He's frowning in his sleep -- in the *center* of the bed -- and he has one hand resting on his pale and impressive chest and the other tucked back behind the pillow. He is...

He is beautiful, and the part of him which wants to tranq dart the rest for thinking that is slow enough to require a ride on the short bus. Some thoughts are unavoidable.

Tim doesn't want to avoid them, at all. Tim wants --

Tim wants *this*, and so he takes off his cape, and his boots, and his socks, stacking them neatly by the small desk in the corner of the bedroom. He moves to --

"Uh oh."

"What is it, Oracle?"


Oh... heh. "Yes, Batman?"

"Your tracers -- please tell me you've decided to embark on an illicit relationship with Steel."

"Well --"



"Lois *Lane*."

Tim touches his tongue to his teeth. "They're really all fascinating people, Batman, and I'm not ruling out future excursions along those lines, but --"

"He's not the same *man*!"

"Not yet, he isn't."

"*Tim* --"


Bruce sucks in a breath --

Tim smiles and feels it like something both sharp and faintly *poisoned*, but -- "Don't wait up."

"Be *careful*."

"I will --"

"I *need* you," Bruce says, and it is Bruce and no one else. His voice is more naked than --

More naked than anything *else* -- Tim shivers. "I haven't forgotten --"

"Then live for long enough for me to prove to you that I can give you what *you* need."

Tim swallows --

*Blushes* --


"My son. You are loved."

And that -- was something of a blessing. Something...

Tim feels himself blushing *harder* -- but this was anything but a whim. "Dad... I'll be home when I can."

"Thank you."

"Robin out," Tim says, and catches himself *just* before he would have ruined his hair again. Just --

Oracle sighs. "Admit it. He almost had you."

Tim breathes a laugh. "Really, really yes."

"Was it your *plan* to tempt him to chain you to his bed for good and all? Because if it was, I'm reasonably sure you could've just asked."

"My way is more fun."

"*Tim* --"

"Now, if you'll excuse me... ellipsis..."

Oracle snorts again, and Tim flips the comm to passive-receive.

And then he moves, quietly and carefully. The carpeting is as luxurious as anyone could wish. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the night sky over the world's brightest, wealthiest city. The gunshot bruise over his ribs hurts sickeningly enough that Tim is *hard*, jock and all --

There are many, many reasons to be hard.

Tim climbs up on Lex's left side and just takes a moment --

To have still another nine millimeter pointed at his head.

Tim smiles. "Good evening."

Lex opens his eyes --

Lex *blinks* --

Lex frowns -- "Robin."

"Sort of. I'm semi-retired."

Lex narrows his eyes. "This fails to explain the large amount of damage -- property and otherwise -- on the first six floors of my tower."

"Well... I needed to see you."


Tim smiles a little wider. "Your alternate universe self convinced me that it would be a good idea to seduce you."

"Hence the lipstick."


"Hm." Lex sits up tailor-fashion -- Tim isn't at all sure how to feel about the fact that Lex's boxer briefs are lavender -- and gestures Tim to do the same with the gun in his hand.

Tim does so as smoothly as possible. "Do you like it?"

"It's definitely your *shade*... but rather too aggressive for an assignation which doesn't include at least a fair amount of sadomasochism."

Which -- Tim laughs quietly.


"I... ah... hm," Tim says, and taps the bore of the gun. "Batman agrees with you. The last time I wore this shade, I was infiltrating a drug ring at a rather excitingly liberal club in Pinktown. Personally, I thought it just made my mouth look exciting."

Lex nods slowly... and then makes a show of looking him over. "I like it better than the costume -- with which it clashes abominably. Of course --"

"The suit clashes with itself? I look like a Christmas tree ornament? Something along those lines, perhaps...?"

Lex's smile is sharply private.


"I'm waiting for you to talk to me about the long and noble tradition behind those ridiculously painful colors so I can feel -- more -- justified in shooting you."

Tim shows his teeth and shifts --

Lex raises the gun once more -- but he lowers it once Tim is sitting on his heels with his hands on his thighs. "Please tell me you're wounded somewhere I can't see."

"As a matter of fact, Hope managed to shoot me over my ribs," Tim says, and strokes himself over the bruise.

Lex nods with satisfaction. "Mercy?"

"Very nearly blinded me with her knives. They've both had wonderful training."

A *curious* smile -- "That was honestly admiring."

"I've become something of a connoisseur of such things over the years --"

"How old are you?"


"And it's been you for... a little over three years. Since the alien's all-too-temporary demise?"

"A little before."

"And you were in training for how long?"

Tim smiles. "A year. You know, I haven't heard your screed about *underaged* vigilantes in quite a while."

"Robin, you defeated fifty mercenaries and two of the most dangerous assassins on the planet. I find myself quite sure that there are a limited number of things you're too young for."

And that -- "Thank you."

Lex inclines his head... then stares at the gun. "You're absolutely sure that you could destroy me before I could so much as get off a shot, aren't you?"

"That's not what I'm here for --"

"Answer the question."

"Then yes. You're a talented amateur, but you're still an amateur."

"All right," and Lex pops the clip before using admirable flexibility to toss it and the gun to opposite corners of the room.

Tim would like, very much, to lick his shoulders. He --

"Talk to me about seduction."

"I want to be your lover -- and your friend."

Lex raises a pale, thin, un-enhanced eyebrow. "My lover more than my friend?"

"I have it on excellent authority that the two of us can do quite well at both."


"My own. I've been making a study of certain alternate universes in my free time."

"You're telling me you have access to *that* sort of technology."

Tim offers a casual shrug --

"Don't do that. It doesn't suit you."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Lex smiles. "You are not, actually, a teenager. You almost certainly haven't been one since the *Batman* got his hooks into you. Acting like one now just makes you look... poorly committed."

Oh -- ooh. Tim lets his lips part just as much as they want to --

"And I *absolutely* should have known someone like you would get off on being taught," Lex says, and shakes his head. "Go home and climb into Batman's tights, please. I'm not interested."

Tim snorts. "And you honestly believe I'm here because Batman rejected me? *Really*?"

"Would you rather I believe that you've had some sort of vast ideological shift? The people who belong to me *don't* wear masks."

Belong to him. Well. "Lex, I haven't had anything resembling an ideological shift. I do, in fact, feel terribly guilty for the amount of damage I gave your employees --"


"Well... somewhat guilty. I definitely didn't intend to break Mercy's legs."

"*Both* of them? What the hell were you *trying* to do?"

And Tim -- can't actually help thrilling for that moment of real passion. Still... he lowers his head. "I usually don't use my explosives while that close to humans who aren't wearing body armor."

"But you just -- don't you people have *limits* to the amount of violence you can offer at any given time?"

"If we didn't, Batman would've made you a great deal less attractive than you are after that business during the 'quake recovery. But... I'm semi-retired. As I've said."

"So *you* don't have limits, at all?"

"I assure you, Lex, all of your employees will recover eventually."

Lex tilts his head back, flaring his nostrils -- he blinks.


"Is that Chanel no. 22?"

"As a matter of fact, yes. Batman likes it on me." And his mother. "How do you feel about it?"

"Too old-fashioned. Too -- hm. Well, I suppose you *could* be harboring a fair amount of natural aplomb and class under the circus gear --"

"I could be naked."

"Did it ever occur to you that I might not be gay in this universe -- no, tell me more about the technology."

Tim smiles and opens his tunic. "No."

"Get out."

"Mm... no," Tim says, and tosses the tunic off the bed. And then takes off his shirt.

"You look like you've been through a *meat* grinder --"

"Do you ever use a knife on Mercy?"

"Yes, but then, I actually *like* her."

"Get to know me."

"Tell me your name."

Tim smiles again and rolls his head on his neck. "I like to be fucked -- hard. I like performing fellatio -- thoroughly and lovingly. I like to be spanked, whipped, and caned. I like to be choked --"

"*Death* games? Please."

"*Not* the way I do it. I know my own body very, very well."

"And so do all of your partners? *Every* last one of them?"

"I've only ever had three lovers... and two of them are in another universe at present."

Narrowed eyes -- "Are you trying to *tease* me with that technology?"

"Lex, I have every intention of giving you access to my multiversal fun-box and every last one of my other toys... but not yet. Everything has a price, yes?"

"What's yours?"

"You. I want *you*, Lex. I want your mind, your body, and your heart. And I want them for myself and for the lover I have in this universe," Tim says, and hums. "And, if all goes well, for Superman --"

"Clark Kent."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"So he *didn't* tell you I figured it out?"

Well... Tim laughs. "He did, actually. He shares everything with Batman *eventually*. I was just being a bitch."

Lex's laugh is a note, a *harsh* breath. "So. Batman chokes you."

"When I beg for it, yes."

"And what does he have to say about your presence here tonight?"

"Well... he intimated that he'd be rather upset if I got myself killed. I try to avoid that sort of thing, so I'm going to have to ask you to keep your acts of terrible vengeance... mild."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "That hardly seems fair. Considering."

"Life isn't fair."

"How long were you out of this universe?"

"Only about three hours. Well. For the trip out of this universe I actually *planned*, that is."

Lex raises an eyebrow. "You managed to seduce a Lex in less than three hours."

"To be fair, an entirely different me -- from that Lex's future -- had already done the proverbial heavy-lifting... when that Lex was a teenager."

"And do you have access to time-travel technology, too?"

Tim smiles and pinches two fingers together. "I can only jump to different times in *other* universes. So far. I'm working on it."

Lex opens his mouth --

Shakes his head --

And laughs again. "All right. Work for me."

"Lex. I *don't* want your money."

"Work for my *cock*, then -- and for that you make a face?" Lex smiles. "Mercy swears by it, I promise."

Tim stands up on the bed and pushes down his shorts, tights, and jock --

"Why do you wear it over your underwear?"

"It reminds me not to come in my pants," Tim says, and shows off the absorbent -- and shaped -- padding before tossing the thing and kneeling once more -- with his legs spread.

Lex breathes another laugh and leans back on one elbow with his hands folded on his abdomen. "The burgundy boxer briefs are much better with that lipstick."

"Thank you. They were a gift from Batman."

"Mm. *Why* have you been manipulating space-time?"

"I was deeply, deeply bored."

Lex looks at him.


"Do you not know *how* to read? Play sports? *Wank*?"

"Hnn. My parents don't like it when I read about abnormal psychology or theoretical physics, sports often involve socializing with troglodytes, and masturbation --"

"Your parents -- no. Finish that thought."

"Masturbation only gets me so far, even with the addition of accessories."

Lex nods thoughtfully. "All right. Your parents know what you do -- excuse me, *used* to do -- with your nights?"

"They do now. My rather useless father threatened to out Batman if I didn't quit."

Lex smiles. "And you actually blame him for that."

"Lex. I have -- personally -- saved the world multiple times with the help of my allies. I am a world-class martial artist. I am a creditable acrobat. And I've been one of the best detectives in the world since I was fourteen years old. Expecting me to sit at home and act like -- as you put it -- an *actual* teenager is, at best, *woefully* pathetic."

Lex smiles wider and curls and uncurls his toes. "What did he *really* do to you?"

"Absolutely nothing... and absolutely nothing *for* me, either. He's not a bad man. He's just incompetent as a father."

"Batman is your father."

Tim inclines his head. "And, sometimes, my Daddy."

"But he's not enough for you."

"No one person could be."

Lex nods thoughtfully again. "What do you want to know about me? Or have you decided that you already know all you need to...?"

Tim strokes down his thighs to his knees, then scratches his way back up. "I'd like to know what you dream about. I'd like to know what you think made you what you are. I'd like to know how you would dress me, and what food tempts you to overindulge, and what you look like in leather pants. I think that's enough for a start."

Lex looks at him for a long moment. "You think you're in love with me."

"Lex, I'm seventeen. I'm duty-bound to fall in love with at least *three* wildly inappropriate men before I hit my twenties."

"That wasn't an answer."

Tim shows his teeth. "I want you. I need you -- or, rather, I *will* need you once you realize just how much you need *me* --"

"You are, by far, the single most *entertaining* vigilante I've ever met. Do go on."

Tim blows Lex a kiss. "I'm reasonably sure I'm not in love with *you*, though your potential -- the man you *could* be with hardly any effort at all -- quite frankly takes my breath away. Lex... I discovered that man four months ago. I have spent every day since then preparing myself for this mission -- and only this mission -- in every way possible. It's entirely possible that I could have bullied my father into allowing me back out onto the street -- he really is *just* that *weak* -- but that would have been a distraction."

"You're saying you chose me over your *vocation*."

Tim inclines his head again. "Though I won't say that it wasn't easier to do than it would've been if I *hadn't* promised --"

Lex waves a hand. "I see. Or -- I think I do," he says, and smiles again. "I don't fuck teenagers, Robin. Not even fake ones."

Tim cocks his head to the side. "Do you make love to them?"

"Not to date."

"Will you answer my questions...?"

"Take off your mask."

Tim reaches up -- and flips his lenses up.

Lex parts his lips -- and laughs with *delight*. "All right, the eyeliner is perfect."

"Thank you --"

"I dream about power. You already knew that --"

"I don't know what you want to do with it."

"*Have* it."

Tim makes a moue --

"Change the color of your domino."


Lex narrows his eyes and his expression turns distant -- "Black would be best. It would highlight your makeup and your -- hopefully -- more flattering uniform."

"I'll keep it in mind --"

"I've been doing my level best to change the world since I took over this company, Robin. Your... community has been a source of endless distraction."

"And whose fault is that...?"

Lex hums and stands up off the bed, pacing briskly and gracefully to the windows.

Tim starts to stand --

"Stay *right* there."

"And what's my motivation for that...?"

"You *want* to leave your scent all over my bed, darling," Lex says, and smiles *rapaciously* at Tim from over his shoulder --

In more than enough time to see Tim shiver.

"So he did call you that."

"And Batman."

Lex jerks -- "You're joking."

Tim shakes his head slowly. "Though I find it fascinating -- literally -- that you've already placed me in the category of people who *could* be termed your darling, however ironically --"

"I've already told you that you're entertaining. *Batman* is not."

"You'd be surprised."

"I doubt it --"

"Lex. He helped *create* me."

"No, your *parents* did that --"

"Beyond the gross biology...? Really not. But we were talking about you."

Lex narrows his eyes and tilts his chin up slightly, turning around to face Tim fully again. "You didn't begin your training until you were thirteen."

"Yes --"

"That's *not* when he got his hooks into you."

"Well... no," Tim says, and licks his teeth. "I began stalking him -- by extension, as my true interest was in the *first* Robin -- when I was three."

Lex looks pained --

And then *hungry* --

"I'm still not going to work for you, Lex."

"Why *not*?"

"You're not the man I need you to be... yet."

"Darling, you *had* to have noticed by now that *no* one can change another human being --"

"Batman can --"

"Tell me your name so I can use it against you."

Tim grins and pinches his nipples very, very --

"Twist them."

Tim does so immediately and *gasps* --

And Lex narrows his eyes and nods. "Hands at your sides."


"Suck my *cock*."

"Mm... not yet."

Lex pinches the bridge of his nose. "Darling, if you're going to be *entertainingly* rebellious, we have to know each other better first."

Tim hums and strokes his way down his abs, letting his fingertips slip beneath the waistband of his boxer briefs... before taking them out and resting his palms on his spread thighs again. "All right."

Lex walks back to the bed and cups Tim's chin, tilting his head up and back --

"Lex --"

"Are you worth it?"

"Yes. And, where I'm not, I can be taught. I test very, very well."

Lex nods, expression distant once more -- and then steps back and begins to pace, ticking off points on his fingers. "Ease. An end to needless privation. Fitness. Individualism. Well-trained and funded police agencies. Leashes for the world's warlords and other rabid dogs who can't -- for whatever reason -- simply be summarily removed, leading to world peace. Transparency -- eventually --"



Tim smiles. "History suggests -- strongly -- that dictatorships are rather difficult to set aside, once taken up."

"Yes, well, tying on a pair of *sneakers* can *also* be rather difficult if you give the task to the wrong *man*."

Oh, *Lex* -- "And you're the right man...?"


"You don't have any doubts --"

"No, Robin, I do *not*."

"Not even -- "

Lex growls --

And Tim looks down -- yes, his penis just twitched dramatically --

"Oh, that's *pathetic*."

"Useful, though, when you think about it," Tim says, and pushes down to lie on his abdomen, bending his legs up slightly at the knees and resting his chin on his hands. "I mean, many of the men I'm attracted to do have distinctly animalistic tendencies."

Lex crosses his arms over his chest and raises his eyebrow.

"Mm. You know *precisely* how regal you look in that pose --"

"Yes, I do. Tell me *precisely* who you want me to be."

"A mad scientist."


"A dreamer -- you do seem to have that down --"

"Go on."

"Ah... beneficial to the public...?"

Lex frowns -- and then snorts hard enough that it was almost certainly *painful* --

Tim points his toes and kicks a bit like Steph does upon hearing particularly choice bits of superhero gossip --

"Stop that."

"Make me."

"My friend, my lover, and -- decidedly *not* my bitch."

"Except for occasionally, with a certain amount of prior negotiation."

Lex nods -- and then snorts again. "All right, your next question: I think most patterns would look terrible on you, so that's right out. Pinstripes to accentuate the curve of your ass and your admirable -- if small -- physique. Eyeliner as much as humanly possible, because someone like you desperately -- *desperately* -- needs to 'live out *loud*' as much as humanly possible. And because it will take away from your eyes' natural coldness. You would definitely prefer not to be seen as cold, yes...?"


Another nod, and Lex begins to pace again, considering. "Would you wear a waistcoat?"

"I've considered it --"

"Then yes to those. Boots, not shoes. If you ever put on a pair of loafers, I'll have you assassinated."

Tim coughs. "Ah -- yes?"

Lex smiles and rubs at his chin with his finger. "No more of this Boy Decoy business. If you were mine, you'd dress a damned sight more like Batman -- though with infinitely more class, and, yes, a certain degree of fetish-chic."

"Kitty ears?"

Lex *sneers* --

And Tim can't quite keep himself from smiling brightly.

"Darling -- keep that to a minimum."

"As you say. Go on...?"

"I --" Lex frowns at him.


"Are you a hacker?"

"Yes. Though, to be fair, Oracle is much better at it. Oracle is the one who made it clear that I had... hmm... successfully eliminated your defenses. And I'm still not going to work for you."

"The benefits package alone --"


"Is Oracle male or female -- or something else, entirely?"

Tim smiles.

Lex *scowls* at him --

And Tim -- catches himself beaming. He stops that. And coughs --

"So you *do* get off on ruining moods? It's not just something that happens naturally?"

"Lex... I want your passion."

"*Passion* is possible *without* making me want to -- " Lex rears back and frowns. "Is *that* how you get Batman to choke you?"

"Ah -- no. It really is just the begging. And a certain amount of posing --"

"Show me."

Tim kneels up again and raises his arms above his head --

"Tied or held?"

"Held, usually. His hands are quite --"

"Yes, I know. Go on."

Tim parts his lips and lets his eyes slip closed most of the way -- and then tilts his head back and swallows --

And shakes --


Lex hums. "All right, that's enough."

Tim drops his hands to his -- spread, of course -- thighs and cocks his head to the side. "Thoughts?"

"How often do you fake it with *him*?"


Lex raises an eyebrow.

"Never, Lex. He... mm. He buries me in his passion. He holds me -- so tightly --"

"You're not bruised."

"I asked him to start being gentle two weeks ago."

Lex stares at him.

Tim blows him a kiss and smiles again.

Lex looks down and smiles, shaking his head slowly. "I become downright primitive when presented with exceedingly rare meat of high enough quality. The same goes for asparagus."

"Oh, yes?"

"Yes. I also vastly enjoy waffles -- but only with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or some combination of the two -- that face is adorable, by the way --"

"Thank you --"

"And I eat yogurt with fresh fruit for breakfast every day. I would continue to do this even if it turned out that acidophilus caused impotence and extreme nasal hair growth."

"I -- do you have --"

"Cilia," Lex says, "are different. According to the radiation I was exposed to as a child, anyway."

Tim nods. "So that *was* the cause? Nothing else?"

Another quiet smile. "I'm a metahuman."

"You -- excuse me?"

Lex smiles more broadly and pinches his fingers together much like Tim had. "I have no particularly exciting powers, save that I'm somewhat -- somewhat -- sturdier than I would otherwise be. Do you know, it took ten solid years for anything to grow where Kent's spaceship landed? Even now, the plant-life there is poisonous to humans."

Tim blinks. "I... hm."

"Are you wondering why Kent didn't see fit to mention that little detail?"

"Mostly... I'm wondering about the quality of the radiation you were exposed to."

"How *much* time have you -- and your 'family' -- spent in close contact with him?"

"Ah... some of us rather more than others --"

"The *first* Robin, yes? The object of your focus. Does he *only* fuck exceedingly large aliens?"

"Hn." Tim shakes his head. "The fact that I've been in love with him since I was a toddler... well, I've *also* had time to build up a thick skin for the assorted taunts. Don't waste your time."

"Then..." Lex cocks his head to the side. "What do you want him to do to you?"

"Make sweet love to me and hold me all night long."

Lex's expression... could not be more skeptical without an actual sneer.

"He's the single most affectionate man I've ever met, Lex... and I'm his little brother, now and forever."

"Yes, but we're talking about *your* sexuality --"

Tim holds up a hand. "If I allowed him to actually fulfill my kinks..." Tim smiles and shakes his head. "It doesn't work. He's not wired that way."

"And you know that because you've made a detailed study of his sex life."

Tim opens his mouth --

"No, that wasn't a question, darling. I *have* been paying attention." Lex moves close again and strokes Tim's cheekbone. "Lovely. Go home and give him a chance."

"I don't want him as much as I want you."

Lex -- pauses, all over. It's a stillness which does nothing save highlight how very, very wrong it is that Lex is still, at all. It --

"You have too much natural energy for that --"

"It's all the cocaine -- and *that* face is adorable, too. Is that why you're his little brother?"

"It certainly helps --"

"Climb into his bedroom and beg. He won't last long."

"How do you know I *haven't*?"

Lex smiles and strokes the space just beneath Tim's lower lip. "Show a little more confidence, darling."

"I --" Tim blinks. "You think I'm desirable enough --"

"*You* already know how desirable you are."

"To *you*, yes, and even to Batman and Clark --"

And Lex pushes a hand into Tim's hair --

"Lex --"

"Like this, yes?" And Lex tightens his grip --

Tim moans and shivers --

"Vigilante 'families' are -- universally -- vastly incestuous affairs. I say that with confidence, because I've made a study of them. *Your* family was the only one I lacked appropriate data on, and so I must thank you for being helpful --"

"And entertaining?"

"Oh, yes," Lex says, and yanks Tim's hair until Tim kneels *up* --

"Lex --"

"That's not the way to say my name --"

And Tim can't help shivering again.

"I see some kinks are... multiversal."

Tim closes his eyes and smiles. "Yes, Lex."

An even tighter grip -- and then Lex lets go and strides away again, back to the windows.

Tim... lounges on his hip. "If you're looking for Clark... he's off-planet at the moment."

Lex grunts quietly. "Where."

"I'm not at liberty to say."

"But you knew he'd be gone -- did you think he would *save* you?" And Lex turns to stare -- and glare -- at him from over his shoulder.

"I knew he would," Tim says, and sketches a shield of El on the rumpled sheets --

"Stop that."

"All right."

"He's -- invested in you?"

"I *want* to say that he's invested in keeping Batman happy -- and that's even the truth -- but I've been forced to admit that he's attracted to me."

Lex narrows his eyes.

"And cares about me, yes. He is... warm."

"Yes, well, large amounts of deadly radiation will *do* that."

Tim smiles.

"You waited until you knew he'd be gone for some extended length of time."

"Or one night."

"Do you honestly believe --"

Tim raises the hand that isn't propping up his jaw. "I believe," he says, and shows his teeth again, "that I can convince you to allow me to visit you again."

"Oh, darling. You can visit *whenever* you'd like --"

"Without having to fight for my life? And my identity, of course."

"You think your identity will lead me to Batman's."

Tim -- doesn't shrug. "Stranger things have happened."

Another narrow-eyed look -- and then Lex is pulling on his robe and walking toward the door. "Follow."

"All right, Lex."

Lex leads them to what appears to be a study, though one decidedly more modern than anything the manor could offer. It's another room with floor-to-ceiling windows, and there's a great deal of muted lavender and *rich* violet.

Tim has never seen this room in a magazine spread or television interview.

Tim is... fascinated. He hums as he strokes the back of a deep, soft couch the color of an imaginative child's idea of wine --

And notes that Lex has stopped at a -- purple-veined marble -- bar. He's pouring himself a Macallan and the loose sleeves of his robe have fallen back to his elbows. Tim moves to join him --


"White, if you have it."

"And if I don't?"

Tim strokes Lex's pale, powerful forearm with his fingertips --

"You don't have permission to do that."

Tim raises his hands and steps back, inclining his head --

And Lex smiles at him somewhat wonderingly. "Tell me what else you drink."

"Would you lose all respect for me --"


"-- if I said that I've never seen the point of drinking for drinking's sake?"

Lex purses his lips --

Lex stops and cups Tim's jaw again. "Have you ever been drunk?"

"Yes. Batman is training me to... ah... hold my liquor, as it were."

"Because you might have to drink to protect your cover... yes, I see. As a matter of fact, I do keep wine here... for the women I choose to entertain from time to time."

"Would you like to get me drunk, Lex?"

"I'd *like* to strap you to a chair, feed you barbiturates, and then question you thoroughly, but --"

"None of the truth drugs work on me."

Lex frowns at him. "*None*?"

Tim smiles ruefully and strokes the rim of Lex's tumbler. "I was trained to resist them before I ever hit the street."

"No one even knows what sorts of effects those drugs *have* on children!"

Well. "Batman does."

Lex rears back, clearly *affronted*, and that --

Tim touches the back of his hand. "The dosages --"

"Do not. Even think. About making excuses for that man."

Tim raises an eyebrow --

"And I refuse to acknowledge that expression until the domino comes *off*."

"He didn't choose me, you know."

"What --" Lex takes a deep swallow of Macallan. "What are you talking about?"

"I stalked him --"

"Yes, you mentioned."

"I discovered his identity -- by first discovering the first Robin's --"

"*Work* for me! I'll almost never drug you!"

Tim snorts helplessly and turns to lean back against the bar, elbows on the marble surface and one knee bent --

"I want to give you to Bruce Wayne to sketch. He'd make you *look* like as much pornography as you clearly long to be."

That --

What --

Oh. Oh.

And Lex is laughing richly, quietly -- and somewhat privately. "He *used* to be -- among other things -- an amazingly talented artist," and he takes another swallow. "I know it's difficult to credit, but..." He shakes his head. "Well, he's pickled himself thoroughly. He probably can't pick up a pencil without getting the shakes now."

Or... not. Tim licks his lips and lets himself look as curious as he *is*. "What... *who* did he draw back then? And this is when you were at Exeter, yes?"

"Oh, yes," and Lex's expression is distant with memory. "He drew me at least once. He did it during a 'lab' in which the professor showed us all slides of someone *else* dissecting a fetal pig."

"That... sounds incredibly pointless."

"Well, the Titans of Tomorrow couldn't be expected to sully their hands et cetera, et cetera." Lex's smile manages to be both nostalgic and rapacious. "He sat on his stool and stared at me for five. Solid. Minutes. And then he spent the next twenty sketching me while the man who wasn't even a little bit two-faced at the time did his level best not to *shake* him."

"Oh... dear. Yes, sometimes Two-Face will... expound on his relationship with Wayne."

"My -- of course he sends you to interview the man. How on earth do you manage to disarm yourself before walking *into* that zoo?"

"Hn. I don't. Not -- entirely."

Lex raises an eyebrow at him.

Tim lifts his false fingernail. "I mostly keep lock picks in there --"

"What is *wrong* with you?"

"-- but it can also hold one and one-half explosive pellets."

"Did he --"

"I did it myself. And it's saved my life more than once," Tim says, and closes it again, careful to seat the small cover properly --

"I heard that *click* -- *augh*. You *touched* me with that hand."

Tim smiles... and sucks that finger.

"No, that *doesn't* help --"

Tim fucks his *mouth* with that finger... and three of its friends.

Lex hums. "*That* helps, however. Not enough, but I wouldn't want you to think that you're not... affecting."

Tim pulls his fingers out with a *small* wet sound and circles his nipples with them.

Lex's gaze is proprietary for a moment, and that --

Is worth a flush. "Tell me about the sketch?"

"Mm. I think... I'm reasonably sure he didn't expect me to ask to see it. Or, if he did, he almost certainly expected me to do it in the most offensive way possible. I had considered just that -- I had a reputation to uphold, and I'll be very disappointed in you if you don't know what that reputation was...?"

"There is a reason why I asked about the leather pants."

"Ah, true. I looked *exceedingly* homosexual in them. I never quite got the hang of being excitingly ambiguous in leather, and so I've relegated it to shoes and gloves."

"I've pictured you in a duster."

"You're just going to have to live with disappointment, darling. Well, no. When I rule the world, I'll wear absolutely anything I want. Every day."

Tim smiles. "Now *that* is an excellent reason to do it."

Lex looks down into Tim's eyes --

Lex *searches* Tim's eyes --

"He made me look remote. Dangerous. Sexual. Predatory. Cruel. And... hungry."

"Oh, my. And the two of you never...?"

Lex laughs. "I never fucked *anything* male back then, darling. There's only so far I could go. Well. Only so far I *thought* I could go. As is usual, it's remarkably easy to imagine oneself imprisoned. Or *more* imprisoned than one actually is. I believe you understand this very well...?"

Tim hums and rests his palm low on Lex's abdomen --


"Four months ago... I never would have imagined this night. My world was very, very small, Lex."

"I could give you a wider world, you know. Legally, even."

Tim smiles and turns away --

"Don't do that."

Tim sucks in a breath and turns back, tilting his head back to meet Lex's eyes. "I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it."

"You're already retired."


Lex smiles and strokes Tim's knuckles. "My mistake. Move your hand."

"Must I?"

Lex nods, and never takes his gaze away from Tim's own.

Tim sighs and brings his hand to his nose. Lex's scent remains tantalizingly faint, but it's warm and male and... wonderful.

"Batman has *taught* you to be somewhat animalistic."

Tim waves his free hand. "I've never been entirely free of certain urges... or enamored of my own scent."

"There's nothing wrong with it, and it *will* improve once you make your way through the thicket of puberty. What does your father look like?"

"Ah... nothing like me, save for the color of his hair."

Lex nods thoughtfully. "Your mother must be beautiful."

"She was, yes. She died several years ago."

Lex winces. "We're neither friends nor lovers, of course, but you still have my condolences."

That -- Tim swallows. "I didn't -- know her well enough. I mean. Thank you."

A long look -- and a nod. "No child can ever come to truly know a parent at that age. Stop blaming yourself."

"Lex --"

"Darling. She was an adult with an adult's interests. You? Were not."

Tim frowns and *starts* to turn away -- he doesn't.

Lex grins *triumphantly*. "Good boy."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

"I already told you what you have to do to get me to acknowledge that expression --"

"It won't happen. Yet. And -- I reserve the right to hold onto feelings of useless guilt."

Lex raises his *own* eyebrow. "You know they're useless... therefore you're almost certainly holding onto them in lieu of other, more positive feelings which you most assuredly lack."

That... no, he can be honest here. "Batman has two psych profiles on me. One, he allows the entire family to access. The other... it's possible that *only* the two of us have seen it."

"You're a sociopath."

And Bruce had left it open just three months ago, and then wandered away from the computers to have a lengthy conversation with Alfred about what they were going to get Dick for Christmas. The invitation -- the *order* -- was as clear as anything ever has been, and --

And the profile had more questions than answers. More *blanks* than conclusions.

It --

Tim hadn't been able to look *away* from the thing --

And, eventually, Bruce had cupped his shoulders from the back --

("My love...")

The kiss to the top of his head had been so soft, so gentle and *kind* --

("My love... I mean only to give you my fears. You asked me to give you all of myself --"

"I meant it."

"You mustn't -- it's only a fantasy. A nightmare.")

And Tim had nodded instead of saying anything else.

And Tim had deleted it with Bruce's silent, warm, *loving* blessing.


"I think I'll take that wine now."

"Of course. But, speaking as someone with a long and generally positive history with sociopaths, the fact that it worries you this much --"

"It doesn't. Not really."

Lex gives him a long and rather unreadable look -- and then nods and pours Tim an Alsace which his mother would have probably adored.

"Thank you," Tim says, and sips it thoughtfully, looking for the fruitier notes, and then the more oaken ones, and then, simply, the prickling warmth of exceedingly high-quality alcohol.

And then he downs the glass in a swallow.

Lex pours him another.

Tim repeats himself and licks his lips.

Lex pours him another.

Tim repeats himself and smiles, feeling every hour since his last meal, since his last moment of *deniability* --

"What worries you is the idea of losing the regard -- the love -- of the few people you *have* managed to come to care about."

"Mm-hmm." And Tim pushes himself up onto the bar and crosses his legs at the knee. "Does Hope care about anyone?"

"Mercy. And... hmm... the idea that forms the heart of me. A vein starts throbbing in her forehead when I go outside on a cold day without a hat and scarf. She cuddles with Mercy for hours at a time --"

Tim coughs and shakes it off. That's not dissimilar to what he knows of the Hope in the other universes, but -- still. "Go on."

Lex smiles at him and cups Tim's thigh. "That's really all... though there's an interesting divergence between her need to obey my every whim and her need to... coddle me."

Tim cocks his head to the side. "She loves two of you."

"She *needs* two of me. If she has ever experienced love, she doesn't remember it."

"All right. I -- I have experienced love. I'm experiencing it now."

"For Nightwing. And Batman. And who else?"

"Robin. All of them."

"Including your replacement...?"

Tim smiles helplessly. "I'm human when we're together. Or nearly so."

Lex nods and squeezes Tim's thigh just above his knee before letting go and pouring himself another Macallan. "Tell me something, if you can."


"Do you *want* to be in love with me?"

"I --"

"Wait. Think about your answer in terms of the man I *am*... as opposed to the man I could be in some bizarre alternate universe."

Tim closes his eyes and smiles more broadly.

"Are you thinking of him?"

"I'm thinking... I'm thinking of myself, Lex," and Tim opens his eyes again and rotates his uppermost foot at the ankle. "Only fear has ever.... has ever taken me *over* the way love does, Lex. And fear... well, it's not that I think I'm too old for it or anything like *that* -- fear is an incredibly *useful* emotion --"

"And utility will always be important to a boy like you."

"Precisely. But... I want more love. I want to have it for myself, of course, but, even more than that, I want to love more people. I want to feel *every* moment of every day -- not just when people are shooting at me or throwing knives at my eyes or -- whatever."

Lex nods thoughtfully. "Yes, that makes sense. Even were Batman capable of fucking you *all* the time, that would lead to dangerous levels of inefficiency."

"Mm-hmm," and Tim proffers his empty wine glass.



Lex smiles, shakes his head, and puts the wine bottle back in the small refrigerator. "If we're going to continue to converse, we'll do so sober. And, while we're on the subject? If you're going to fall in love with me, you're going to do it when you're no longer terrified of what I'll choose to do whenever you're not stalking me."

Tim makes a face --

And Lex laughs and *cups* Tim's face with both hands. "He's proud of you, isn't he."

"I -- yes."

"And... mm. He's told you, at least once, something along the lines of how anyone would be proud to have you as a *son*."

Tim takes a breath. "Yes."

Lex presses his thumb to the point of Tim's chin and narrows his eyes. "He doesn't... limit you?"

Tim raises an eyebrow. "If you're asking if he shows me trust --"


"Then yes. I... he's told me that he wants me to succeed him. There. There are Batsuits in my size."

Lex coughs a laugh --

Frowns --

"You're going to be terrifying, aren't you."

Tim smiles and kicks his feet a little. "That's the plan. I... I'm not sure I want him to be alive to see it, though. He needs to think of me as a good person."

"A real boy. A loving, warm, and not at all acutely horrifying boy."

"Mm-hmm. Lex... what would you do with me if I let you hire me?"

"First, I'd ask you *what* mind-breaking thing you'd most like to work on, and hope like *fuck* it was time-travel."

Tim grins and strokes Lex's shin with his toes. "Yes?"

"Then, I would stock a lab with absolutely everything you could ever wish --"

"A Croy?"

"If one was all you needed."

Tim licks the edges of his teeth. "Go on."

Lex smiles at him *avidly*. "I believe I *do* want to kiss you."

"Then," and Tim leans forward and closes his eyes --

And catches Lex's hand before the nerve-strike can land while using his free hand to jab -- gently -- at Lex's throat.

Then he opens his eyes again. "You knew that wouldn't work."

"Very true. And now I also know that you won't stint at offering a killing blow," Lex says, stepping back and bringing the hand that had been at his throat to his mouth for a long, hot, *wet* kiss to the palm.

"Lex --"

"One moment," Lex says, and licks a stripe from the heel of Tim's hand to the tip of his middle finger.

"Oh --"

"*Now* tell me why that wasn't *really* you deciding to cut your losses."

Tim looks down and kicks his legs a little more, letting himself blush.

"Oh, come now --"

"As much as I treasure your good opinion -- and lust -- I have to say that I wouldn't have killed you."


"I would have let you *think* you were going to die... and then I would have trach'd you. Possibly with this kitschy novelty swizzle stick," Tim says, looking up and twirling the thing over his fingers.

"Darling, where's the *romance*?"

"I want you alive, Lex."

"For now?"

Tim sets the swizzle stick down again. "For just as long as you are --"

"Beneficial to the *oh*-so-greedy public?"

Tim strokes Lex's shin again. "Or just me."

"Darling, we both know I can be good for *you* *while* still running roughshod over the little people. And some of the big people, too."

"True, but it wouldn't make me happy --"

"No, it would make parts of you happy that you don't especially like to consider."

Tim makes another face --

"Oh, don't pout for *that*. Pout for the fact that I'm learning how to *read* you and am thus that much closer to growing bored with you."

And that --

Tim grins.


Lex's frown is mild -- but very much there.

Tim grins more widely --

And Lex sighs. "All right, *explain* to me what about that was a lie."

"There is not one. Single. Lex. With your background. Who is capable of growing bored with me."

Lex opens his mouth -- and smiles and shakes his head. "All right, I *did* want your confidence back, but darling, I've had Mercy for a quarter of a century and Hope for half that long --"

"The other Lexes had them, too."

And Lex -- blinks.

"Kiss me?"

Lex looks *away* --

"I'm not a real teenager, Lex. I wouldn't have *been* a real teenager even if Batman had never accepted me -- and I've seen those universes, too --"

"Robin --"

"It's just a little step. Just -- a touch. And we're both allowed that, I -- hnk --"

Hand on his throat. Hand --

It's not as big as Bruce's, nor is it as *subtly* callused. Lex has no reason to soften his hands for *anyone*, and, as such --

Tim groans in his chest and lets his eyes slip most of the way closed --

"You know, I believe you could *still* kick my ass if I tried to get friskier than you *like*. More to the point, I believe you *would*."

Tim smiles and *knows* it looks drugged --

"You have no smile lines."

Tim shakes his head -- the small amount possible.

"You have -- *ridiculous* frown lines."

Tim *nods* --

"What did they do to you?" And Lex lets go --

And Tim *gasps* --

"*Answer* me."

Tim licks his lips and leans in close enough to smell the remnants of the cologne Lex wore yesterday. It's staid, manly, and dull, and Tim *badly* wants to *bite* it off Lex's skin -- but. "Nothing."

"By which you mean?"

"Nothing, nothing, and nothing. No physical abuse. No *emotional* abuse -- unless we're counting the ruthless and *conscientious* sharing of the facts of life with children."

Lex narrows his eyes. "What aren't you saying."

Tim closes his eyes --


Tim *opens* them and shows his teeth. "You *won't* convince me to transfer my allegiance -- such as it is -- from them to you."

"Batman already has enough of *that* to choke on, darling. Give me the *facts*."


"Oh, yes? Is that why you're so small?"

"I'm small because I take *entirely* after my mother. The neglect was... emotional."

Lex steps back and paces, circling the couch --

The desk --

He picks up the phone and puts it down again --

He comes back and circles the *bar* -- and then stands *directly* behind where Tim is sitting until the space between Tim's shoulder blades is crawling and his scrotum feels... louder. "Lex."

"The only time they spoke to you was to share those important life lessons."

Tim shrugs --

"I already told you not to do that, but -- it's an answer," Lex says, and comes around the front of the bar again, planting his hands to either side of Tim's hips and leaning in. "Attachment disorder?"

"I *have* control over myself, Lex."

Lex nods --

Bites his lip --

"Are you quite sure you've experienced love?"


"All right. All right. It's definitely *possible* -- work for me."

"Love me."

"Fuck knows, you *need* it."

"I need you, Lex."

Lex pants out a breath. "You're stunning. Sleep with me."

Tim *takes* a breath and leans in to nuzzle against Lex's mouth, and nose, and cheek.

So *smooth* --

And the kiss is -- hot. So --

There's no stubble to make it sharp, and Lex's lips are *soft*. Nearly as plush as *Steph's*. And *that* makes this kiss taboo, makes it dangerous and *strange* --

Tim moans because he has to, moans again and tries to make the kiss harder, more *familiar*--

And it's *something* when Lex pushes a hand into his hair, but even though his grip is painful, the kiss doesn't get any more --

Any less --

Tim groans and shudders, licking at Lex's tongue and begging, *needing* --

But he has to groan again when Lex starts to thrust, when he pushes in and *in* --

Tim can feel himself *blushing*. He --

The kiss wasn't supposed to be as *good* as one of Bruce's --

Oh, God, what's *wrong* with him?

Tim jerks himself back and wipes his mouth on the back of his hand --

And Lex raises an eyebrow. "Were you expecting me not to know how to kiss?"

Tim -- blushes harder.

"Darling. I don't *only* make love with Mercy."

"Ah... yes. That's... yes." Tim snorts quietly and shakes his head. "That was... shattering. Somewhat."

"How does Batman kiss you?"

"He... devours me. Though for the past couple of weeks --"

"He's been gentle. At your request."

"Yes --"

"What does that mean?"

Tim shivers and thinks of Bruce carrying him to bed like a bride --

Bruce making love to just Tim's *hands* --

Tim's *feet* --

And the kisses --

Tim licks his lips. "He... often makes me feel as though my mouth is full of... nectar."

"And we're not talking about fruit puree heavily adulterated with high-fructose corn syrup, yes, I see." And Lex nods and paces a little more --

And a little more than *that* --

"Come back to bed."

"Lex, we should still --"

"We're going to *sleep*, Robin. Well, I'm going to sleep. You're going to think about giving me your name, your face, and, in general, everything you are."


Lex narrows his eyes and smiles. "You haven't won yet, darling. Come."

Well. Tim strokes down the center of his chest -- slowly and *measuredly* -- until he's cupping himself through his boxer briefs. He's more than half-hard, but he's worked through -- *fought* through -- much, much worse.

He squeezes himself *viciously* --

"No, darling. Softer than that."

Tim lets his lips part -- and squeezes himself harder.

Lex's laughs is, actually, somewhat delighted...

And so it's definitely time to follow him back to the bedroom.


Tim listens to -- not watches -- Lex falling asleep. He does so on his side facing Tim, with one hand resting on Tim's chest. He slowly evens out his breathing, then slows it...

And slows it...

Until he's asleep, and Tim can indulge himself in stroking Lex's knuckles with one hand --

And toggling the comm with the other.

"He's not *right*, Tim."

"Which he...?" And really, it's rare that he gets this much practice at subvocalization.

"Either. *Both*."

"Oracle --"

"You're *human*. More to the point, you're a *hero*. And? Not even remotely a supervillain."


"*I'm* more of a supervillain than you are!"

Tim closes his eyes. "I'd like to believe that. Well, not about you --"

"He *told* you he was just being a paranoid ass!"

Tim opens his eyes again. "You spoke to him about it?"

"Yes, I *did*. And he's doing his level best to tear out his own liver with his *teeth* for showing that thing to you --"

"Tell him it's not his fault."

"Tim --"

"Tell him... tell him that he didn't write anything I didn't already know about myself."

"God, will you *listen* to yourself?"

"Oracle... I profiled myself after my predecessor was murdered. I wanted to know if I could be... if I could be correct. I skewed my answers positive -- I wanted it that badly -- but it still came out precisely like Batman's. The only difference is that mine filled in the blanks."

And Oracle is silent for a long moment.

Much too long --

And he doesn't need her to fight this battle. He just -- doesn't.

"In the end, I have my sense of morality, which is weak and somewhat threaded with grey, but present. More than that, I have my love for all of you, and my need to be -- to be accepted by all of you --"

"We *love* you, you jackass!"

Tim smiles. "And I intend to keep that. To -- hold that to myself. I will never deny myself love."

"This -- business with Luthor. I... Tim."

"Yes, Oracle?"

"I've been listening, of course."


"Yes, that, too. Dinah brought caramel popcorn and dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans."


"Precisely. Tim... watch your back. You've made him want you, but --"

"I've also made him want to break me. Yes, I'm aware," Tim says in his normal voice, and turns to smile into Lex's eyes. He strokes down the bridge of Lex's nose. "He won't do it."

"Tim --"

"He *can't* do it, Oracle. There is no one on this earth who can break me, or blunt my will. I would, in fact, die first --"

Oracle's response to that is somewhat unprintable --

Lex is *scowling* at him --

And Tim smiles and crosses his legs at the ankle before folding his arms behind his head. And waits.

"God *fucking* *damn* it, Tim, stop being such a psychotic *prick*!"

Tim hums. "I love you, too, Oracle. I always have. You're one of the few people other than Batman and Robin I've ever been able to imagine making love to *honestly*, with all of --"

"Do *not* forget Batgirl. I've *seen* you with her."

Lex shifts minutely and exhales --

Tim hums again. "I don't imagine *making love* to Batgirl, Oracle. I imagine her fucking the unholy hell out of me, and then there's some measure of weeping --"

Oracle chokes on a laugh --

And Tim smiles again. "He's going to try to break me -- and he's going to come *close* to succeeding. Not because he's that good -- though he's very, very sharp and talented -- but because it's *incredibly* tempting to *be* broken by him. I mean, he's perfectly loyal to his possessions --"

"He left Hope and Mercy in a *crater*!"

"But, as soon as there *are* conscious mercenaries, that situation will be rectified. At the moment, he has his hands full keeping an eye on the incredibly violent, heavily-armed, and emotionally unstable teenager in his bed."

And Lex shifts enough to take himself within Tim's peripheral vision before resting his cheek on his palm and studying him thoughtfully.

Tim mouths 'sorry,' and then refocuses on the ceiling. "A part of me very much wants to be his possession, but, well, I'm not taking this comm out. And the symbolism of that should be clear."

"Leave it on."


"Tim. So *help* me --"

"I'm asking Lex to focus solely on me, Oracle. The least I can do is return the favor."

Lex nods slowly and somewhat *sarcastically* --

Tim flips the sheet off and kicks his legs up and *back* until the soles of his feet are against the headboard.

Lex blinks and looks *thoughtful* --

"In any event, Oracle, you shouldn't think I don't know how much I'm expecting you to deal with here. I recognize that I must seem wildly unreasonable, and I know full well that I'm being selfish, callous, and even cold --"

"But that's who you think you are now?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "No, Oracle. That's who I've always been. Give me a chance to... blow off just a bit of pent-up insanity --"

"That's *not* what you're doing."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut -- opens them again. "No, of course you're right. I'm sorry for the urge to lie to you. I'm sorry -- I'm sorry for many things, Oracle, including putting myself in a situation where you would have to worry about me --"


"But --"

"You're not allowed to apologize until you're doing your *level* best to get the hell *out* of there, Tim. Anything else..." Oracle growls, and through the scrambler it's as blankly menacing as a White Martian. "Think about it."

Tim takes a deep breath. "Anything else is... meaningless? Worse than."

"Yes. And I'm *not* just talking about myself. Have you thought about what your older brother is going to do when he finds out about this? I nearly had to *tranq*-dart Cass to keep her from coming for you!"

Tim blinks. "I -- what?"

"Yes, Boy Teen-Life Crisis. *Think* about that. Think about *everyone* who loves you. Everyone who *needs* you. Everyone... everyone you're letting down right now."

Tim hears himself make --

A sound. He --

He lowers his legs --

Lex is searching him --

Lex is rubbing his *chest*, and what must he look like? What --

"O-Oracle. I."

"*Think* about it. And that's all I have to say --"

"It's worth *you* breaking me, Oracle?"

"Listen to me carefully, Tim. I will do *everything* that must be done, and I will not hesitate."

"I just -- I need --"

"Oracle out."

And Tim hears himself making *another* sound --

"What the *fuck*, Robin?"

"Don't call me that."

"Then give me your fucking *name* --"

"I don't. Have." Tim sits up and pushes Lex aside, stepping off the bed and just --

Just --

If he can just *think* for a minute --

"*Talk* to me. What the hell did that -- person *say* to you? What -- ah, *fuck* --"

But Tim is more than capable of flipping out of the way of the dart which almost certainly has something a lot nastier than a tranquilizer smeared on it --

"Stand *down*, Hope!"

"Lex. He is still armed," Hope says, and she's unsteady on her -- bare -- feet, and there's a sloppy bandage over the wound on her forehead --

And her ready-stance speaks of the kind of sanction Tim will only ever be able to give himself *after* Bruce is gone.

Tim begins to circle --

"What do you *mean*, he's still --"

"Ribbon blades on my thighs, Lex," Tim says, and pauses to tap the one on the right --

"You have blades tickling your fucking *balls*?"

Tim dodges Hope's feints and watches --

Watches --

She's not *entirely* recovered from *his* darts --

She wasn't supposed to be *this* recovered, at all --

"*Answer* me --"

"It's an excellent reminder to move... correctly, Lex."

Lex *snorts* -- "Are you going to use them on me?"

"No, but I may use them on Hope."

"You've already scarred her enough. Stand down, Robin --"

"Don't --"

"And tell me what Oracle *said* to you!"

"I can't --"

"*Hope*," Lex says. "Alpha tau."

Hope shows her teeth in a grimace that looks *painful* -- and stands down, swaying once more.

"You're on bed-rest --"

"I don't. I require. I don't understand, Lex."

Lex winces and rolls out of bed, moving to *brace* Hope -- and cup her jaw. "He has acquired my attention."


"For the moment, Hope. He is neither an assassin nor... some other sort of problem."

"You do not allow us to be armed in your bedroom."

Lex smiles sharply. "I would not have allowed him to be that way if I had known... but I have decided to make a compromise with him."

Hope narrows her eyes. "Is he... valuable."

Lex strokes her model-quality cheekbones. "That much remains to be seen... but I believe so."

"I understand. Mercy will not be able to resume her duties for at least seven weeks."

Lex winces again -- "No, I imagine not. Listen."

"Yes, Lex."

"It is now your responsibility to help her heal as quickly and thoroughly as possible."

"Yes, Lex. I will begin studying how best to do this immediately --"

"No, you will begin studying in twenty-four hours, after a trip to the infirmary, several tests, monitored rest, and a good meal."

"I am... drugged."

Lex smiles wryly. "To the tits, darling," and Lex rests his forehead lightly against Hope's own.

She strokes his back in long, firm motions --

And Lex laughs quietly and hugs her firmly before stepping back.


"Twenty-four hours. Go."

"Yes, Lex," she says, and -- departs.

Without so much as a *glance* at him.

Lex crosses his arms over his chest and watches her go with a critical expression. "*Did* you concuss her?"

"Probably not. Much."

Lex narrows his eyes. "Be nice to her, darling. She keeps *me* human."

"Ah... what?"

A smile -- and Lex closes the distance between them at speed, lifting Tim into his arms --

"I only let Batman do this --"

"You let him do it whenever he wants, because you enjoy being his woman at least some of the time."

Tim opens his mouth -- and closes it. "I suppose I *don't* wear makeup like an entirely male man."

"Not even remotely. I'll teach you how, if this all goes well, though," and Lex lays him down on the bed and strokes a firm line down his torso. "What did Oracle tell you?"

"I can't --"

"Wait, let me guess. Oracle used your 'family' against you."

"There's no need for the ironic single quotes --"

"I think there is. I will stipulate that they've kept you as human as Hope has kept me -- "

"You're going to explain that --"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I will," Lex says, frowning and studying him. "Robin."

"Don't --"

"Give me another name."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut --

"You can't, yet. I can accept that. *You* will accept me calling you Robin --"

"Fine. Fine. Just --"

"Families -- and I'm really *almost* entirely sure about this -- don't respond to a member's urge to find himself by shoving explosives in that member's emotional fault lines."

Tim -- doesn't open his eyes. But he stops squeezing them shut. He --

"Yes, *do* think about that, darling. Think about the fact that I would never do *anything* to damage Hope or Mercy more than they've already *been* damaged. Think about the fact that Oracle --"


Lex cocks his head to the side. "Tell me what -- it -- said."

"It's not -- it's incredibly predictable. When you think about it."

Lex narrows his eyes again --

Studies him again --

And kisses Tim firmly and *wetly* -- but only for a moment.

"Lex --"

"No, you're not actually -- Oracle knocked you off your game nearly *entirely*, and I'm afraid I can't actually forgive it for that," Lex says, kneeling up and looking Tim over.

Tim pushes up onto his elbows --

Lex strokes the cut of Tim's *abs* -- and shakes his head. "I can guess what it told you. It made you think of betrayal, of... hm. No. Betrayal is something a boy like *you* can live with. It made you think you *failed*."

Tim -- doesn't flinch. "Lex."

"Yes, that *was* good, but you shouldn't have tried to say my name. You've lost your joie de vivre, darling, and that's -- unacceptable. You didn't fail."

Tim --

Tim looks away --

"Oh, come *on*. If all it takes to fail your loved ones is to go out and try to have something -- *someone* -- for yourself, then they didn't *deserve* your love in the first place."

"You don't actually get to -- make that judgment. I." Tim sits up the rest of the way and pinches the bridge of his nose. "They weren't supposed to care about me like -- this."

"Is it you they care about? Or the boy they want you to be?"

Tim narrows his eyes. "I am capable -- more than -- of being that boy."

Lex searches him for a long moment -- and then smiles brightly. "Darling, there is no doubt in my mind that you're capable of *many* things. Including things which wouldn't be remotely healthy for you."

"You -- you don't get to --"

"Make decisions about what's healthy and what isn't?" Lex grins and cocks his head to the side. "Be yourself, darling."

"Lex --"

"Be the boy -- the *man* -- you were born to be. Raise high your hopes and live every sticky, violent, manipulative second of your dreams. *Actualize* yourself --"

"And suck your cock?"

"Well, you were going to do it *anyway*, darling. You might as well do it with *all* of yourself. Or -- how did you put it? 'Honestly?'"

Tim -- doesn't scowl. "Is this how you're going to break me?"

Lex's smile is *brilliant*, less hard than shocking, blinding --

"Lex --"

"No, don't talk, darling. Think for a minute about how much you need me. About how much a part of you *knew* you needed me -- because I could give you what your loving, wonderful family could *not*."

And Tim *does* think. He thinks very, very *deeply* -- but.


Oracle knew Lex would try to break him.

Oracle -- *Barbara* -- knew that Lex wouldn't be able to *help* himself. It's just that she *also* knew that Tim had gotten under Lex's *skin*.

Barbara has watched every *moment* of this --

Barbara is almost certainly watching right *now* --

And none of them have spent as much time digging into the *businesses* of supervillains as Barbara has. Sometimes Clark comes to *her* for background on what Lex is up to.

"Come on, darling. You can do it."

Yes, he *can*. Because Barbara will do anything and everything she *can* in order to control a given situation -- including throwing Tim's emotional well-being under a bus. She just wouldn't do it in any kind of *permanent* way. She --

She knew Lex would need to try to break him.

She knew that saying what she did *would* hurt Tim -- and badly enough that Lex couldn't help seeing it.

And she damned well knew that Lex would leap to exploit the exposed weakness *that* way... rather than spending time and effort to come up with something more...




Tim smiles internally, and knows in his *bones* that Lex and Barbara would be the only ones who could ever appreciate a smile like that. That only they could ever *want* that from them, because they are ruthless, amoral *bastards* --

And so is he.


Tim kneels up and crawls into Lex's arms, resting his face against the join of Lex's shoulder to his neck.

Lex shivers once -- and wraps his arms around Tim. "Join me."

"Not work for you?"

"You're neither Hope nor Mercy nor anyone else -- quite -- like that," Lex says, and turns enough to kiss Tim's temple. "You don't, actually, want to be my property."

"Except --"

"For when you do, yes. We can discuss that. Perhaps if I'd gotten you younger."

Tim shivers and tries to --

Just --

Tim had looked in on that other universe several times since his visit -- and he had looked in *at* several different times. Janet Drake *had* given birth to a Tim there... but not even having Jessica had stopped that Bruce from *taking* that Tim away from the Drakes. And that --

That could have *only* been Lex's influence.



Tim swallows --

"Are you building that time machine in your mind, darling...? Did you want to be *my* son?"

Tim reaches out and *grips* Lex's waist --

And Lex sighs. "*Is* it actually important to you to have a father in the public eye?"

"I -- no --"

"I'm not asking you if you're a fame-whore. I already know that's not in *your* make up. No, I'm speaking of... well, I suppose someone like you would think of it as the civilian sphere?"

Tim swallows again and licks his lips. "The daylight world."

Lex squeezes Tim and strokes the back of his head. "You're not now nor have you ever *been* a child of the daylight. Hope was when she was a little girl... but then, Hope actually had a *chance* to grow up human."

Tim frowns and strokes Lex's sides --

"The abuse she suffered at her family's hands was so blatant and over the top that the entire community assumed someone -- else -- would do something about it. When it continued, most of them convinced themselves that it truly wasn't. When she murdered her primary *physical* abuser in her late adolescence, the community was shamed enough not to do much of anything about it. And so she moved on, honing her body and mind ruthlessly -- for reasons she could never define to herself -- until Mercy found her and brought her to me," and Lex kisses Tim's temple again. "Darling... I can see it, you know."

"You --" Tim nuzzles Lex's throat. "See what?"

"I can see the child she used to be. I can nearly *smell* her, and taste her *tears*."

"You're saving her."

"As best I can - which isn't very good, at all. I can tell myself that she's too *thoroughly* twisted -- broken -- to be healed. I can tell myself that the only kind of care she knows what to do with is the kind that *uses*, and does so with ruthless brutality. I can even tell myself that I love her -- and have it be true -- but. I'm never going to take her to a psychiatrist. Not even one I've vetted."

Tim strokes up Lex's chest to his shoulders --

Tim *squeezes* --

Tim tries to feel something more, something *less* -- "You feel. I love the way you feel."

"I know you do, darling. *My* darling," and Lex kisses Tim's cheek, Tim's temple, Tim's *ear* -- "Say yes to me."

"Yes. I mean --"

Lex laughs softly. "Yes, I know. Not *quite*. But... I think you would be an *excellent* consort to rule the world with, even though you could never give me a child."

Tim *coughs* --

And Lex laughs again -- and holds on against Tim's weak and abortive attempts to pull back. "She makes me human. She makes me feel all those messy, contradictory emotions -- the ones neither Mercy nor my father were capable of twisting within me. Tell me -- what about the other Lex? Did *he* send Hope and Mercy off to be *fixed*?"

That -- Tim hums and nuzzles Lex a little more. "You sound precisely as contemptuous of the concept as you should, really."

"Tell me --"

"They were his bodyguards. Mercy was his lover and Hope his... friend. Sometimes... sometimes Lex would invite Hope into his bed, and they would hold hands, or... cuddle. Mercy taught Lex about herself in dribs and drabs over the course of years, and Mercy and Lex -- and Batman and his family -- taught Hope about families which weren't built on abuse."

"That's not so different."

"There are reasons why I thought this could work --"

"*Why* did that Lex need bodyguards? Was he a *known* associate of Batman's?"

"Not really, no. It was more... well, in that universe -- and several others -- Lionel Luthor did many of the things you've done in this one."

Lex stiffens, and Tim wonders if it's truly time for this particular gambit. If it *can* be...

Tim massages the tension out of Lex's sides and back -- "I've never needed to go up to some... some *acquaintance* and say, 'this is my parent.'"

"Hm. And the other way around?"

Tim smiles and lets himself lean back and show it to Lex --

"And there you are," Lex says, and presses a finger to Tim's lower lip. "Tell me."

"I've never needed Batman to say to someone else how proud he is of me. My sanction says all of that and then some --"

"Yes, he does... lead the way when Kent isn't doing so." Lex narrows his eyes again. "Tell me what you need."

"You --"

"You can have me, darling... but."

Tim smiles ruefully. "Yes, that. Well... you tell me, Lex. Are you ready to get down to brass tacks?"

"Frankly, I'm ready to sleep. I *was* ready to sleep. I was, in fact, in the process *of* sleeping --"

Tim hums. "So you were. I -- promise I'm not going to have another breakdown."

"That was hardly a breakdown. But -- I promise not to have you imprisoned, tortured, or shot until we've at least had a nap. Don't call Oracle again."

I don't have to, anymore. "All right, Lex."

Lex searches him -- "What aren't you telling me."

Tim smiles and lies back down on his elbows. "Mostly things about Lionel. Mostly."

Lex crawls up Tim's body and lowers himself down --

Tim -- purrs.

"Yes, I imagine Batman *would* make you appreciate this -- how hairy is he?"

"He is... a bear."

Lex hums --

Shifts --

And spreads Tim's legs with his own.

Tim smiles and wraps his arms around Lex's neck --

And Lex kisses him again, making it slow and hard and --

A kind of vicious. A kind of -- no, it's the control behind it, and something *like* the exhaustion behind it, too. Lex has no intention of taking this further than a kiss, and so, paradoxically, he will make the kiss as powerful and *driving* as he can.

Tim moans and sucks Lex's tongue, opens his mouth and *takes* --

Lex pulls back enough to lick Tim's lips, the fronts of his teeth --

"Lex --"

"Darling, you are... mm." And Lex sucks Tim's upper lip -- "I like this one."

"It's poutier."

"It makes me think of how much fun you're going to have sucking me off -- among other things."

"Are your nipples sensitive?"

"It seems to depend entirely on the type of encounter I've precipitated," Lex says, and kisses the *corner* of Tim's mouth. "I have no doubt that you can convince them to perform for *you*."

"Lex -- join me."

Lex's smile is soft, quiet, and shows every last day of the nearly twenty-seven years he has on Tim.


"Sleep," and Lex rolls to Tim's right and rests his hand on Tim's chest again. "And think about what you want for breakfast --"

"Yogurt and fruit works for me --"

"All right, but you're getting the whole-milk sort and possibly some sort of cereal, too."

Tim raises an eyebrow --

"Not while the mask is on."

"Hnn. Am I too thin for you?"

"You're *not* my property. I don't get to make that judgment."

"But you do get to judge my clothes?"

"All good, right-thinking people get to judge your clothes, darling," and Lex breathes deep and closes his eyes before stroking an idly possessive pattern over Tim's sternum.


"I don't want you to be my property. You'd be entirely too stressful that way."

"But not this?"

Lex's smile is softer with his eyes closed, but that *is* an illusion.

"I'm -- sorry."

That gets Lex to open his eyes again --

And study him --

And snort. "No, you're not, but you'd like to be. This means that you're either *almost* a good person or some variety of in love with me. Stop it."

Well... "Ah... fuck you. Sideways."

Lex leans in and kisses Tim's shoulder. "Sleep."

Tim considers sticking his tongue out at Lex --

He resists the urge, and Lex rewards him with another kiss -- a lingering one, this time.

Tim closes his eyes.

Eventually, he sleeps.


"-- for my guest. And, no, you may not poison it. Mm. I'm sure, yes. Thank you, Eva," and Lex hangs up the phone. "How long have you been awake?"

"I'm not," Tim says, and stretches. At some point, he'd rolled onto his stomach.

Lex hums. "Yes, I imagine Batman doesn't do all that well with morning people." He smacks Tim's ass. "You're with a morning person now, though, so... up."

Tim sighs and kneels up, squeezing his three-quarters-hard penis through his boxer-briefs in a pointless attempt to get it to shut *up* --


"Yes, Lex?"

"Cock rings?"



"Not my kink, but... interesting."

"Other sorts of CBT?"

"Penis- and scrotum-spanking is often highly enjoyable. Other than that, I haven't experimented. I've considered various piercings, however," Tim says, and flows into a few upper body stretches.

"How *much* have you considered them?"

"I would enjoy being... adorned."

Lex turns Tim to face him. "By a lover?"

"I almost -- almost -- had Batman pierce my nipples and frenum two weeks ago."

"When you told him to be gentle."

"Yes. I... well. You're important to me, Lex. If you don't --"

"Again, you are not my property," Lex says, and releases Tim's jaw.

"Fine, but would you *prefer* --"

"My darling, there is no doubt in my mind that you would wear absolutely everything of that sort well, and I believe I could trust Batman to do it neatly."

Tim stretches more --

Considers --

"Lex --"

"You know nothing about my work with sharp implements."

"So I don't. But --"

"You'd like Mercy to show you her scars...? She would do it for me... and make you pay for it for the rest of your painful life," and Lex stands up and paces to the windows. "Kent came for you this morning."

"Ah. What?"

Lex moves to the desk and presses a button on a remote --

And one of the panels over the bed rolls back to reveal a descending flat-screen monitor.

Tim turns and moves to the head of the bed to get a better look at the four feeds being shown --

And Clark is in three of them, hovering outside Lex's bedroom window and *staring*.


*Motionlessly* -- except for the snap and ripple of his cape.

His eyes are the red of imminent wholesale destruction, and his expression couldn't be more dark without Lex actually *doing* something. Which --

The fourth feed shows Lex sleeping with one hand resting at the small of Tim's back.

"I believe he does that sort of thing in part to make me tense," Lex says, rocking on his heels and staring out at Metropolis.

"Does it work?"

"Sometimes. *Not* last night, interestingly enough. You're a very pleasant bed-partner."

Tim hums and rolls out of bed -- and into some push-ups --

"We can work out later, darling."

"I -- all right." Tim stands -- and pushes up onto his toes to stretch.

Lex turns back to smile at him. "How good a bed-partner is Batman?"

"Well... there's a fair amount of staring. Hungry, dark, *greedy* staring, that is."

Lex rocks more -- excitedly. Hm.

"Are you happy?"

"I've embarked on a new and exciting relationship, darling. These things happen."

"Hmm. We haven't come to any agreements --"

"Of course we have. I've agreed not to kill you until you bore me, and you've agreed to wear the clothes I've had purchased for you."

Tim raises an eyebrow --

"Still no, darling."

Tim sighs. "I'm going to have to insist they match my domino."

"You're getting a new domino."

Tim opens his mouth --

"It's black, dashing, and equipped with infrared, night-vision, and white-out lenses."

"All right, but how do you know it will --"

"Mercy's head is rather small, proportionate to her size --"

"You expect me to wear *Mercy's* clothes?"

"No, I expect you to wear clothing originally purchased for Mercy which we then decided was perfectly horrible. There is, in fact, a difference."

Tim allows himself to scowl.

Lex grins like someone younger than *Tim* is -- "Let's shower."

And that's exactly what they do. Lex allows Tim to wash his back and his glutes.

Tim allows the same treatment --

But Lex spins Tim around, shoves him against the wall, and wraps his soapy hand around Tim's penis --

"*Lex* --"

"Say yes."


Lex's grin *this* time is perfectly rapacious -- "Tell yourself that it's nothing. Tell yourself that anyone could make you come. Tell yourself you'll make me fight for more."

Tim licks his lips -- and stares down at Lex's hand.

His *gripping* hand --

Tim's penis *twitches* --

And Tim groans and tilts his head back. "Lex."

"Is that an invitation...? I don't plan on choking you right now."

"Then when?"

"When I can convince myself to have a paramedic on-call for my sex life. Say. Yes."

"Lex --"

"Call my name the right way."

"I *need* you. I need you to see --"


Tim groans and pushes into Lex's fist --

Lex parts his *lips* --

"Please. I --"

"Good enough," Lex says, and kisses him again, slipping his tongue *deep* and making Tim whimper, making Tim *want* --

So *much* --

And it's impossible not to reach up and grip Lex's shoulders, not to pant in steam and the scent of soap perfumed so subtly that it would almost be like *not* wearing Lex's mark --

Lex's perfect *stain* --

And kissing Lex wasn't ever supposed to feel this good --

Lex is still only *gripping* --

Tim shoves Lex back and pants --

"You want what I can give you, darling."

"Of -- I'm still *sane* --"

"Are you?"

Tim snorts. "Sane *enough*. Lex --"

"Say yes to me -- and you'll only ever have to beg."

"Ah -- which of us is doing the seducing, again?"

"Both of us are, darling. Catch *up* -- and let me get you off."

Tim moans -- and clutches Lex's soapy hand. He --

Lex narrows his eyes. That --

"You think I won't let you."

"Robin --"

"You think -- you think I'm actually *strong*," and Tim can't help but laugh for that, can't help but squeeze Lex's hands with his own, against himself --

"Darling --"

"*Please* --"

"Do not *ever* let yourself be weak by *telling* yourself that you are. Do not -- don't you fucking *dare* write yourself off --"

"*Lex*," but Tim knows that he's really just telling Lex to love him, that he's really *begging* --

Lex lets go.


"Get control of yourself. *Now*."

Tim growls and *throws* Lex against the opposite wall --

Lex nearly *slips* --

And then he grins like something out of Arkham and -- laughs. "Darling. Better?"

"*Yes* -- I. What do you *want*?"

"I told you. A consort."

"You --" Well, no, he *wasn't* kidding. Not that *much*, anyway. Tim frowns and turns away to think --

"Don't do that --"

Tim holds up a hand.


"Yes, Lex. *Really*. Let me *think*."

"Should I be flattered that you don't trust yourself to do that while looking at me?"

Tim takes a deep breath, blinks four times, recites the first seventeen decimal places --

"Pi *is* soothing, but --"

Tim growls again and turns on Lex, backing him up against the wall again and jabbing his chest. "*Don't* fuck with me like that."

Lex tilts his chin up. "You're honestly angry with me for that... when nothing else I've said or done has so much as raised your heart rate. All right. Let me consider that."

"Do so."

Lex's expression turns distant, calculating --

Tim doesn't follow the tracks water leaves on his pale, hairless *skin* --

Nor does Tim lick the water from his suprasternal notch.

Nor does Tim drop to his knees --

Lex cups the back of Tim's head and searches Tim's eyes. "You thought I wasn't taking you seriously."

"You weren't. Not -- my feelings."

"You're telling me that -- we can't fuck?"

Tim -- blushes. That -- "That -- I don't mean --"

"You *do* mean that, darling," and Lex smiles ruefully, tracing the curve of Tim's lower lip with his other hand. "You were going to give in not because you want me -- though you do -- but because you care about me."

"That's -- a good way to put it."

Lex raises his own eyebrow. "No. It's an *adequate* way to put it for the morning after our first night together. But it won't be adequate for long, will it."

Tim closes his eyes -- and licks the tip of Lex's finger.


"Love me."

"You're too expensive. Emotionally, that is. I --"

Tim *bites* the tip of Lex's finger -- and opens his eyes again.

"You are, in fact, beautiful. Every last one of your issues *improves* you, and I hope to live long enough to know you when you're a truly devastating adult."

"Don't say goodbye to me, Lex."

A shadow in those eyes.

"It's not -- nothing is set in stone."

"No, darling, *you're* not set in stone. The rest of the world is a *damned* inflexible place."

"Not you. You can adapt to anything."

"My ego *adores* you --"


Lex closes his eyes, and they track fast behind the lids for a long moment before he opens them again. "There remains the question of what I *wish* to adapt to --"

"Love me."

"Darling, you're *not* the epitome of sweetness and light and *goodness*."

"I *am* the epitome of 'good enough,' however. Join me."

"What are your *goals*?"

"Social improvements. Sweeping ones --"

"Dangerous --"

"The sort which requires humanity to transcend itself? Yes. The sort which allow human sheep to remain as ovine as they wish... well. I don't want to be president of the world, Lex. I'd be perfectly happy to be the power behind the throne... or the iron fist in the velvet glove."

And *that* -- chases the shadow out of Lex's eyes entirely. "Grand viziers sometimes have to do terrible things to innocents, darling."

Tim smiles and shakes his head. "I want a safer, freer tomorrow --"

"The two *don't* go together."

"Mm, no, not *usually*... but I'm not Batman. I don't think I can end crime in Gotham -- or the rest of the world -- if I just train *hard* enough. I don't think that the world needs to rest on my back. What I think -- what I *believe* -- is that power, when properly applied, can make large differences. I believe that you're one of the strongest, most brilliant men in the world. I believe your strength has next to nothing to do with the company you've built and everything to do with... well. The fire in you. The creative and godlike *urge* that lives within you and gives you the ability to leap -- gracefully intuitively -- over *nearly* all of your fellows. And...

"And I probably wouldn't have reacted so poorly to you *fucking* with me if you hadn't ordered me not to do something *you've* been doing since the day you decided to kill your father instead of finding some other way to build your empire."

Lex searches him for a long moment -- and smiles. "You believe I've let myself be weak."

"I know you have."

"You believe... mm." Lex shakes his head, but he's still smiling. "Darling. My moral center is no more powerful than your own. The grief I felt for having my father murdered had everything to do with lost opportunities and atavistic -- and natural -- horror when faced with the stink of his blood all over my *lover*."

Tim -- doesn't flinch. But he can't keep from narrowing his eyes.

Lex nods thoughtfully -- and directs the spray to Tim's genitals. "Let's get dressed."

"Lex --"

"You're going to..." Lex frowns and shakes his head, stepping out of the shower. "I *am* weak in some ways, darling. I fully expect the answers to the questions I'm about to ask you will make my testicles try to crawl back into my body, and I'd rather have pants on for that."

Tim blinks -- and then realizes. "Lionel."

Lex's smile is small and rueful and young --

"*Love* me --"

"*Clothes*, darling."

Tim takes a deep breath and turns off the shower, stepping out and allowing Lex to dry him --

To crouch at his feet to get Tim's *toes* -- "He washes you, too, doesn't he."

"Slowly, tenderly, and thoroughly."

"Rubber duckies?"

Tim smiles and considers *that* afternoon...

That *entire* afternoon...

"I'm reasonably sure he's watched the film of me playing with my action figures and the -- black-painted -- toy boat at least three times now. Certainly, it's what I intended him to do."

Lex snorts and rests his head against Tim's thigh. "I didn't need *any* of those images, darling."

Tim hums and uses a hand-towel to wipe the excess water off his mask. "I'll stop fucking with *you* once you join me."

"You're usually a better liar than that. Aren't you...?"

Tim smiles wryly at himself in the mirror. "Yes."


The clothing Lex chose for him is... interesting.

The domino is black, plain, and forms something of a 'v' -- accentuating Tim's cheekbones and making him look somewhat diabolical.

The clothes *themselves*...

Well, there's no armor, and that's somewhat problematic, considering the dirty looks Tim has been getting from Lex's employees for the past two hours --

There's no armor.

There's a form-fitting burgundy mock turtleneck which hides nearly every single scar on his upper body. The pants are black with burgundy pinstripes. They *hug* his ass and they were very clearly tailored for a woman.

A woman with a lower body much like his *own*... but still a woman.

The boots -- which are all but invisible, because the woman the pants were tailored for is also *taller* than he is -- are sleek, calf-hugging confections the color of old blood. They don't have *much* steel in the toe, but they do have some. As such, Tim loves them nearly without reservation.

Lex had spent breakfast explaining to several particularly murderous-looking employees -- including a woman named Eva who spent the entire time fingering a *hatchet* -- that 'Robin' was a friend who should be extended every courtesy during his stay, and allowed every privacy.

Tim had eaten his yogurt and stayed quiet until it seemed like a good time to nod respectfully, and then Lex had dismissed them all.

Eva never stopped fingering the hatchet.

Now, here in Lex's *official* office...

Well, there had been a lengthy meeting with the executive vice president to discuss the dispositions of various *other* executives to oversee various entirely above-board projects, but he and Lex have spent the past ten minutes alone -- and in silence.

Tim is sitting on the edge of the desk with his legs crossed at the knee.

Lex is sitting in a twenty-thousand-dollar chair nearly identical -- save for the size -- to the one Bruce Wayne keeps in *his* office and staring out into the mid-morning Metropolis glare.

Tim... is willing to be patient. He hums to himself and rolls his head on his neck --

Lex sighs. "Field this, darling," Lex says --

And Clark is hovering outside the window again.

Tim reaches over to take the remote from Lex and opens the window --

"He can hear you *through* the window."

"But I can't hear him."

"You should use your communicator, Robin," Clark says in Superman's voice. His eyes are rimmed with purple.

"Only for emergencies today, Superman."

"Robin... I don't think you've thought this course of action through."

Tim smiles wryly and uncrosses and recrosses his legs. "He can't corrupt me more than I corrupted myself long before we met, Superman -- gah -- all right, we're in the sky. Clark, this isn't optimal --"

"He *needs* you, Tim!"

"That's why I -- oh. Bruce."

Clark *shakes* him -- gently. "You don't know what this is *doing* to him!"

"I know it hurts him. I know... it isn't revenge."

"Of course it isn't. I've never -- I've never thought that of you."

Tim raises an eyebrow --

"That's a *terrible* mask."

"I rather like it --"

"*Tim*. He *aches*."

"I -- I'm *going* to go back to him --"

"He doesn't -- he surrendered his *reserve* for you, Tim! He's opened himself for the first time in -- so many *years* --"

"And I *appreciate* that, Clark. I -- I had a chance to *stay* in a universe where there was a Bruce, Lex, *and* a Clark for me, where I could have all of them *and* the Mission --"

"*Defy* your parents --"

"You don't think I already am?"

"Of course you are, but --" Clark frowns and shakes his head. "Tim, you can't *change* Luthor!"

Tim smiles ruefully. "I don't want to."

Clark blinks. "What. What are you saying?"

"The day I make love with him -- the *hour* I make love with him -- he will still be the same man who's done all of those ridiculously horrible things, but --"

"*Tim* --"

"*Listen* to me, all right? *No* one can change *anyone* else. I joked earlier and said Batman could, but -- God, if he could, I'd be a better *person* than I am now -- be *quiet*, Clark!"

Clark closes his mouth and frowns more deeply.

And Tim takes a breath and nods. "No one can change anyone else. What we *can* do -- and what I *will* do -- is give Lex a reason to want to change himself. And, when it turns out that he can't? He'll *still* have a reason to *act* like he can, and to *live* like he can. Just like me," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "I... I was given -- no. I *took* a taste of him for myself, Clark. I know what he can be. I know what he can *do*. I *want* him. And I'm *going* to have him."

"No matter what?" And now Clark *sounds* hurt, sounds --

Tim swallows and reaches out to touch Clark's cheek with his fingertips --

And Clark catches Tim's hand with the hand he's not using to *hold* Tim. He --

"I'm sorry --"

"Tim, no, I --" Clark smiles ruefully and *kisses* Tim's fingertips. "I've always cared for you, Tim. You know that. Don't you?"

Tim closes his eyes for a *moment* --

"You didn't know. But *how* --"

"Clark, I -- I did know. Eventually," and Tim opens his eyes and offers his own rueful smile. "But --"

"But you -- want him," and Clark turns to stare down --

And *down*, because they are, in fact, high enough that the LexCorp tower almost blends *in* with the rest of Metropolis.


Tim touches Clark's cheek again. "I want him. And I care about him."

*Clark* closes his eyes and speed-babbles something -- "Tim. If you let him, Bruce will give you everything you could ever *need*. *Including* the freedom to love others."

"He cared for Lex, too, once --"

"When he was a *teenager* --"

"And beyond. I doubted that for a long time, but -- I can't anymore," and Tim strokes Clark's cheek again. "I know them *both* too well for that now."

"Tim, once more --"


Clark winces *hard* --

"I won't -- I won't turn my back on you. Not -- any of you."

"He is my *enemy*, Tim."

"And I am your friend, Clark." And Tim twines his fingers with Clark's own. "Always. I... compartmentalize too much. Everyone's always told me that -- well. Everyone save *Bruce*. Still... it's helping more than it's not, right now."

"Are you sure of that?"

Tim squeezes Clark's hand. "As sure as I can be. Take me back --"

"Will you let me bring you back to Bruce when -- when you're ready?"

"Clark, I rode --"

"Please. I don't want him to be without you for one moment longer than he must be."

"I haven't *left* him --"


Tim frowns. "He's. Oracle... mentioned that he --"

"He knows regret, Tim. And fear for you."

"I'm in no danger, Clark --"

"Perhaps... perhaps it is your prerogative to believe that."

"*Clark* --"


Tim -- glares. And gives in. "All right, you can -- I'll call to you. When I'm ready to leave."

And Clark kisses him, soft and dry and --

About as chaste as the average dockside *hustler*, actually. Tim pulls back --

"*Clark* --"

<<Fine one. Unfaithful one. *Dark* one... you need never be bored in a world with me in it.>>

Tim rears back --

And Kal shows his teeth. It's impossible to read his eyes -- the red glare is too powerful.

Many, many things are too powerful. Tim licks his lips and lifts his chin. <<Your proposition has been received and noted, Kal-El. You will now return me to the side of my lover.>>

Narrowed eyes -- <<And how should I define that?>>

Tim rests a finger on Kal's mouth. <<In the way which best pleases me... if you would continue to be known as one I esteem.>>

Kal inclines his head --

Tim feels the desk beneath his ass --

And there's no sign of Clark, Kal, *or* Superman.

Lex hits the button to close the window and then stands to face him. "He mussed your hair."

"Damn it. Do you have --"

"Let me," Lex says, and raises his eyebrows. "Please."

Tim smiles and recrosses his legs. "All right."

Lex neatens Tim's hair in a dozen quick, deft motions which leave Tim feeling distinctly primped. And that --

"You occasionally style Mercy's hair yourself."

"Darling, I *always* style Mercy's hair. The last stylist I sent her to pissed herself *while* having a nervous breakdown."

Tim coughs a laugh --

And Lex smiles broadly and with true -- relief.


"Forgive me, darling, but you have to give me room to be *pleased* that the World's Greatest *Hero* couldn't sway you from your course."

"He's *not* Batman."

"You *left* Batman."

Tim plucks a bit of lint from his knee. "I'll be going back to him."

"Will you?" Lex cocks his head to the side. "Or will a different Robin entirely ride back into Gotham?"

"I have no intention of losing any of them, Lex --"

"And when they ask you to show all the things you've been hiding from them for so long? When they *demand* it?"

Tim closes his eyes and forces himself to imagine...


Dick would want just that -- or think he did.

Dick would...

Dick has been mostly absent since Tim and Bruce had begun their romantic and sexual relationship, but even if Tim hadn't been absolutely sure about the *artificiality* of that... Barbara had been clear: the distance would *not* last.

Sooner or later, Dick is going to demand the long, honest discussion of their emotions, history, and needs that Bruce has owed him for the better part of fifteen years. Once *that* happens...

Well, more than a *small* part of Tim had been looking forward to the -- inevitable -- threesome, for all that it's his intention to keep it to just *one*. Dick isn't *for* him, but Tim has no difficulty whatsoever with the idea of making sure he knows he's for *Bruce*.

This, though...

He has to admit that this will accelerate things, whether or not it changes them. It's not *fair* that he's going to have his entire family jumping on him for his love life, but it is, in fact, the *definition* of family.

He can *take* the proverbial bitter with the sweet --

And Dick is going to want to know the parts of him which -- need Lex.

Dick is going to want to understand *that* quality of humor, that... that *flavor* of desire.

And when he can't... what then?

Tim takes another deep breath and opens his eyes to smile ruefully at Lex. "I'll give them the truth of myself when they ask, but I won't shove it down their throats."

Lex strokes the line of Tim's jaw. "You were doing a fair amount of shoving with Oracle."

"Hn. It can take it."

"And the rest of your family can't?"

"Robin... well, Robin broke up with me when I retired, and still hasn't entirely forgiven me for *that*. She's going to do her damnedest to take my head off for this, and I can't precisely blame her. I still won't let her hit me again."

"Why on *earth* was a boy like you dating a *female*?"

Tim laughs and shakes his head. "I am, actually, bisexual, Lex. Barely. And Robin... well. She's a beautiful, powerful, intelligent, emotionally *brilliant*, dedicated woman with any number of *other* good qualities that I'm just not going to share -- at this juncture -- because *you* don't deserve to know her."

"Do you?"

Tim stares up at the high ceiling -- and shivers when Lex strokes his throat. "No."

"Yes, you do --"

"No, I don't. Because I refused to tell her anything substantive about myself for the first year of our relationship, and because, in the end, I *did* retire. I didn't fight for Robin, and I didn't fight for Gotham, and I didn't fight for *justice*. Those aren't the only three things she cares about, but they are rather extremely important to her -- and I let her believe they were equally important to me."

"Just because you're taking a *longer* view than the average vigilante --"

"No, Lex." And Tim shakes his head again. "You've done the unforgivable countless times, and while you may come to regret *some* of those actions, you'll never regret *all* of them. Therefore -- by the reasoning of some -- you are not worth my time. I am *lowering* myself by choosing to care about you --"

"Darling. Is it a choice?"

"I didn't have to expose myself -- ahem -- to the full force of your personality. I *could* have chosen to believe that the Lexes from those other universes --"

"Multiple -- *work* for -- no, go on."

"Hn. I could've gone with the idea that they were -- all -- flukes. I chose to put myself into a position where you *could* become more to me than just another supervillain, somewhat *worse* than most. I --"

"Stop," Lex says, and rests two fingers on Tim's lips. "I'm going to ask you a question, and I need you to be as honest about it as you can. All right?"

Tim nods --

And Lex does, too. "Am I your self-destruct switch?"


"*Think* about it --"

"No. You're not."

"Robin --"

"My name -- my name is Tim."

Lex steps back -- but then he nods again. "I like it. It makes you sound... forgettable."

"And that's a good thing?"

"You're a stiletto, darling. As such, you should never, ever be obvious. Well. Except to the people you allow to *handle* you." And Lex touches Tim's mouth again --

Lex *strokes* Tim's mouth --



"Don't -- don't give up on your family."

"I won't --"

Lex presses on Tim's lips again. "You expect every last one of them to give up on you."

Tim shakes his head.

"No? Then who will keep you?"

"Batman, because sometimes he's in love with the boy I truly am. Batgirl, because I've never been able to lie to her about *anything*. And -- to the extent it's *ever* kept me -- Oracle."

"But not Robin and not the man you've been in love with since you were wearing diapers."

"The nannies potty-trained me quite early."

"Please. They left you to your own devices, and you were too fastidious not to potty-train *yourself*."

Tim laughs. "Possible. Lex... you should know. If we do become lovers -- more so than we already have -- I'm not going to let myself ever regret it."

"And *that* would be a choice...?"

"Yes. Because I'm never going to allow myself to pretend that I've changed something fundamental about you solely by being interestingly bitchy and sexually desirable, and thus it won't be a nasty shock if and when you do something particularly supervillainish in the future."

Lex takes a *sharp* breath. "And if I want more than that for both of us?"

"Oh... Lex. I don't know."

Lex closes his eyes and smiles, nodding again and sitting back down. "Come straddle my lap and talk to me about my father."

"All right."

There's more than enough room under the arms of Lex's chair for his legs, and so Tim can get quite close.

He wants the metaphor to be real.

He wants --

He cups Lex's shoulders and kisses him softly, making love to his mouth the way Bruce does now. It's a mouth that's more than worth the attention, worth Tim's focus and detail-oriented *nature*.

He pulls back to nibble and lick --

"Darling, I -- my darling, you're the single most manipulative bitch on the planet," Lex says, and pushes his hand into Tim's hair, and pushes his tongue into Tim's *mouth*.

Tim nods and goes down on it, sucks and *loves* it as much as he can, as much as he *wants* --

But Lex pulls him back. "Tell me, Tim."

Tim shivers. "You've become him. I -- what more needs to be *said*?"

"Be... specific."

Oh, Lex... "All right. You have people murdered when they so much as inconvenience you. You've had people *tortured* and murdered when they've actually *upset* you. You experiment on humans illegally. You funnel money and weapons to criminals -- both superpowered and not. You bribe politicians to look away from LexCorp's business practices. You manufacture biological and chemical weapons, then market them to the short-sighted and excessively violent. You -- you have your hands in *every* pie, and you use the power this gives you only to gain more power, and more than that. More?"


"You abandoned your dreams of a better world --"

"No --"

"*Yes*," Tim says, and cups Lex's jaw, not being especially careful of his pressure points.

"I'm listening."

"You're beautiful, Lex. You are --" Tim firms his mouth into a hard line and shakes his head. "You've abandoned your dreams, and that's bad enough, but it's even worse that you persist in telling yourself that you *haven't*. That -- you tell yourself that you're waiting for the 'right time' to implement your plans, that there's nothing keeping you from making the world a better place other than -- than fucking *Superman* --"

"*Did* he hit on you?"

"He kissed me, and offered me what would almost certainly be an *excitingly* frightening ride -- and now you're actually scowling. Lex, that's -- well. Adorable, actually."

Lex turns away and narrows his eyes in a glare aimed at the floor --


"I'm jealous."


Lex hums and looks at him again. "Don't worry. I *won't* be tiresome. However, I think you can understand why I might feel a fair amount of resentment toward someone who gained adulation, admiration, and, yes, *power*... solely by being gifted all-too-randomly with still more power. It's all a bit too objectivist to be borne."

Tim bites the tip of his tongue. "Yes. You're bigger than that."

Lex raises an eyebrow.

"*Greater*. Or -- you can be."

Lex cocks his head to the side.

Tim leans in and nuzzles Lex's cheek, breathes there and licks as *dryly* as he can --

"Darling -- Tim."

"I'm listening," Tim says, and kisses Lex's cheek four times --

Seven --

*More* --

And Lex sighs. "*How* did those other Lexes build their empires?"

Tim sits back. "Batman and Clark -- as teenagers -- seduced their Lex away from LuthorCorp... by offering --" Oh, dear. That would give away... everything. "Power. *Other* power."

Lex narrows his eyes. "Tim --"

"Not yet," Tim says, and presses his fingers to Lex's mouth.

Lex *moves* Tim's fingers. "And this wasn't some vigilante scheme?"

"No. The power was entirely legal, and well-suited to morning people."

"Tell me what you aren't saying."

Tim smiles ruefully. "No, Lex. Think about --"

"My -- my father, yes," Lex says, and turns away again.

And lifts Tim with his fascinatingly strong arms --

And turns Tim *sideways* on his lap --

"Lex --"

"Do I like this? Did we try this in the three hours we had together?"

"Ah -- no, we didn't. Though Batman --"

"Leave him."


"Do you truly love him? Or are you simply grateful?"

Tim wraps his arms around Lex's neck and spreads his legs, letting one of them dangle.

Lex makes a small, soft, appreciative sound and cups Tim through his pants.

"Oh -- Lex."

"Just this, darling. Answer my question."

"I love him. I didn't love him until we actually began conversing with each other -- it took much less time with Nightwing, as you know -- but, after that, it didn't take long. He is... brilliant. Loving. Funny. Hungry. Hopeful. Childlike --"

"*Childlike*? What --"

"Ah -- I like them young? Let's not discuss that --"

"No, let's *do* discuss it --"

Tim leans in and nips Lex's plush lower lip. "Lex. I had a chance to have you, Batman, *and* Clark. All at once. But all *this* Batman had to do was promise to give himself to me before I was letting him carry me bodily back to this universe. I love him."

"And his -- childlike -- need for you?"

"Need is more comprehensible, more *safe* than love --"

"But not as intoxicating?"

"Nn... differently intoxicating. Less like being stoned than like being... tipsy."

Lex nods and moves Tim back into a straddle.


"Tilt your head back for me."

"All right," Tim says --

And Lex tugs the neck of the turtleneck back gently and strokes over and over Tim's pulse point. "What will you do if I bite you here."

"Moan. And -- perhaps -- beg."

"What would you beg me *for*?"

Tim smiles up at the ceiling.

"Hmm. Yes, I suppose I did already know that. Consider your pleas noted --" And Lex bites him *hard* --

"*Lex* --"

Lex growls and *sucks* --

"Oh -- *ohn* --"

Lex grips Tim's hips and holds them *still* -- and that's when Tim knows that he'd been grinding --

*Taking* -- "Please. Please, Lex, let us *have* this --"

Lex growls again and pulls back, *panting* --

"You *want* me --"

"My darling. At this point, 'want' is rather euphemistic and inadequate," Lex says, squeezing Tim's hips one more time and letting go. "Get up and bend over the desk."

Tim *grunts* and stands --


"Lex, I --"

"Show me your eyes. Your -- yes, I suspected that domino would only deepen the damned *shadows* --"

Tim tilts his head enough that his eyes will catch the light from the windows --

"You... don't look the slightest bit cold, that way."

"I'm only cold inside --"

"And should I warm you the way Batman --"

"*No*, Lex. You --"

Lex holds up a hand and stands, as well -- and uses his free hand to *squeeze* Tim through his pants --

"*Please* --"

"You have to understand, darling. You asked what made me. My father..."

"Oh. Oh, *tell* me -- *mm* --"

The kiss is hard, sweet and dark and *hot*, so --

Lex's *mouth* isn't hard, Lex's tongue isn't --

It's so *wet* and Tim's moaning, pumping against Lex's palm and *moaning* --

And Lex pulls back again, staring at Tim's mouth and licking his lips --

"Tell me."

"There is -- a seduction to humanity," Lex says, and begins opening his belt --

"Please. Please."

"Don't -- hn. No. *Do*," and Lex kisses Tim again, *bites* -- pulls back. "Every part of the human animal must be considered before one makes a sacrifice. *Any* sacrifice, at all," and Lex sets the coil of his belt on the table. "Strip."

Tim shivers and stares into Lex's eyes. And waits.

"I can't -- just wait."

"*Tell* me, Lex!"

"You have too damned much control for a teenager --"

"Take it from me. You *know* how --"

"Humans are -- fearful creatures. Small and stumbling and *flailing* creatures. Are you with me so far?"

Tim frowns. "Are you saying you want to be *like* them?"

Lex smiles sharply and begins to unbutton his -- orchid -- shirt.

"Oh -- Lex --"

"I'm saying that it can be *relieving* to find out that one has the same drives -- and even the same *weaknesses* -- as the rest of the herd. Especially if one has felt like a freak for the entire --" Lex shakes his head and shrugs off the shirt. "Let me feel your mouth --"

Tim pushes close and leans in to suck Lex's left nipple, to lick and *bite* --

"Nnh -- not *quite* that hard, darling --"


And Lex sighs and pets the back of Tim's head, arches forward slightly --

Tim moans and sucks a little harder, plays with the other nipple -- no. He kisses his way across Lex's chest and sucks it *in*, then flicks his tongue against it --

Lex growls and lifts Tim's shirt, *twists* Tim's nipples --

Tim *shouts* against Lex's chest --

"Very nice," Lex says, and shoves Tim back into a sprawl on his desk. "My -- gods I don't have any intention of acknowledging. This view should be illegal."

"But it isn't --"

"More proof that the world isn't run especially well," and Lex massages Tim's thighs roughly before tugging off *his* belt. "I wanted to be normal for years."

"Me -- me, too --"

"And you know precisely how damaging that sort of attitude can be. How much it can *linger* long after one has accepted their status as an iconoclast?" Lex raises his eyebrows --

He didn't *color* them today --

And when Tim opens his mouth, nothing comes out but a moan.

Lex shows his teeth and studies him again, and his gaze makes Tim feel like his brain is being rifled through, makes Tim feel like his body is just the needy -- *greedy* -- cabinet where the card catalog is kept -- "You do understand. Good," and Lex starts working on Tim's pants. "Sit up and take off your shirt. And for the love of all that's terrifying and wonderful about you -- stop trying to be normal. Stop trying to be good. Stop trying to do anything but be yourself."

"Lex --"

"It's *dangerous*, darling. It's -- mm. Seductive. Do I want these lovely pants around your ankles?"

Yes. Yes -- no. "They'll wrinkle too much."

"Very true. Kick up -- oh, darling. I think I want your legs around my hips -- *not* now --"

"*Lex* -- *hnh* --"

"That much of a reaction just for me grabbing your ass? Noted." And Lex lets go and pulls off Tim's boots, setting them down on his chair --

Stroking Tim's socked feet --


"I hate worrying about shredding them --"

"For idle hours?"

"Done. I mean --"

"No, you mean 'done,'" and Lex bites Tim's ankle through one sock before pulling them both off. "Never put off until tomorrow -- et cetera. Seize every moment."

"I'm seizing *this* --"

"Seize. Every. *Moment*," Lex says, and *yanks* Tim's pants off. "You don't understand what can *happen* if you don't, and I don't know how to tell you, how to *show* you --" Lex growls and steps back from the desk, covering his face with his hands --


"I've known all this. All of it."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut and -- breathes. And strokes his sweaty hands on his -- black -- boxer briefs. And then he opens his eyes again and watches Lex try and fail to even out his breathing. He --


Tim stands up and hugs Lex from the side, tucking himself under his arm --

"There's room for -- sometimes I can feel the man *breathing* --"

Tim hugs him *tighter* --

"*Tim* --"

"He -- abused you."

"Of course --" Lex growls and pushes Tim aside -- gently.

"Lex --"

"I'm not --" Lex strides to the windows and looks out over Metropolis, fisting his hands at his sides before folding them behind his back. "I won't make excuses."

"You don't have to, anyway --"

"No? I -- no. You're right, of course. You just want me to *change*. To *stop* doing all the things which have brought me power, wealth, fame -- and admiration."

"Not from the right people."

Lex sucks in a breath and tilts his head back for a long moment -- "I don't want it from *you* people -- join me. There will be an *endless* number of people for you to mangle. Most of them will have committed crimes, even."

"Join *me*... and change the world."

"You've *saved* the -- how old were you the first time?"

"Fourteen --"

"Fucking *hell* --"

"I did have help --"

Lex holds up one hand -- and succeeds at evening out his breathing.

"I'm insulted."

"I'm going to -- make love with you. By fucking you *blind*."

Tim grunts and squeezes himself --

"Naked. Please."

"Lex --"

"I can't look at you, yet."

"Would you tell --"

"I would become -- distracted," Lex says, and Tim can see the ghost of his smile in his reflection.

Tim takes a deep breath and pushes down his boxer briefs. And straightens out his pants over the guest chair. And --

Sprawls himself back on the desk.

"I *feel* like property like this --"

"*Do* you belong to Batman?"

"I wanted to, once. He wouldn't take me, and so I gave myself to the Mission --"

"Don't *capitalize* --"

"I'm almost sorry --"

Lex breathes a laugh. "Bitch. Go on."

"Yes, Lex. The Mission wasn't good enough. Wasn't -- warm enough. So I gave myself to my family -- and, to a lesser extent, my friends."

"Did that work?"

"Brilliantly -- if still not entirely satisfactorily. By then, though, I knew I could never belong to just one entity."

"Not even Kal-El?"

"It would be exciting to be kept by him... but eventually I'd start growing bored."

"Never let me bore you."

"All right --"

"Are you transgendered?"

Tim strokes his inner thighs and tries an arch -- "Not in this universe. At least -- I don't think so. My inner woman only tries to fight and claw her way out *sometimes*."

"I hate to tell you this --"


Lex hums -- and rolls his head on his neck. "I hear his voice whenever I think about... softening myself."

"Oh -- dear."

"Yes. Hm. I -- he laughs at me. At my *weakness*."

"*Lex* --"

"I kill him in my mind over and over and *over*, but he never --" Lex sucks in a breath and shakes his head. "When I was nineteen, it seemed like the perfect insult, the perfect *beginning* to have him murdered by my lover. By the woman he *thought* was in love with *him*."

"Wait. I --" Tim sits up and frowns. "Did he know that she was *your* lover?"

"Yes, he did. I made sure of it. Just as I made sure it would be obvious to him that she was of a lower social class, and thus not 'suitable' marriage material for me. I knew he would set out to prove that she wasn't -- that I was being a fool. And I knew *how* he'd do it, too."

Tim -- swallows. Just -- "He seduced her."

"Mercy -- who still called herself Bethany then -- allowed him to believe he had. She's an excellent actress when she's motivated. She wouldn't ever fool someone like *you*, but --"

"Most people don't know to watch the eyes."

Lex takes a deep breath and folds his hands behind his back again. "Just so. Though babies do. Have you --"

"I've read those studies. The experiments were fascinatingly horrible. Lex, you --"

"I should've done it myself. With my own *hands*."

"*Lex* --"

"I loved him then. Loved him -- still."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut and tries and fails to fight back a blush --

"Oh, darling -- now is not the time for you to feel guilty that you don't love your biological father. *My* father actually *acted* like a father until my mother died."

"I -- yes?"

Lex rocks on his heels. "A bit distant, to be sure. Somewhat *awkward* in terms of dealing with pediatric psychiatry... but I'll never forget how powerful his arms were around me the day of the meteor shower in Smallville. I'll never forget him reading me a biography of Carnegie. I'll never forget him lifting me high in the air and *holding* me there as my mother kissed him -- soundly."

Tim swallows. "I don't know what to say."

And Lex looks back at him and smiles ruefully --

And then his eyes seem to heat like Clark's --

And then he's at the desk and pushing Tim down, bending over Tim and kissing him hard and --

*Brief* --

"Lex --"

"You're so beautiful, darling. You are -- *you* chase him away --"

"I -- I *don't* --"

"Mercy and Hope do, too. Perhaps paradoxically. I need them *badly* for just that reason -- and many others," Lex says, and kisses Tim again --

Lifts Tim's arms and pins them to the desk by the wrists --

Tim moans into Lex's mouth --

Tries to spread his legs *wider* --

And Lex *growls* and kisses him harder, more *wetly*, fucking Tim's mouth with his tongue *slowly* --

Tim shakes his head --

Lex pulls back --

"Wait, *no* --"

"Darling. My *darling* --" And Lex lifts Tim into his arms --

Tim wraps his legs around Lex's hips and cups Lex's face --

"No, I *do* want you on the desk, but --"

"Lex, I --"

"Hump me in this position. Just until my arms start shaking," Lex says, and squeezes Tim's ass *hard* --

Tim moans and kisses Lex and kisses him --

Over and over as he rolls his hips --

As he grinds and *bucks* --

Lex is *smiling* --

And Tim groans again and *clutches* Lex, kisses him and tries to drink from his mouth, tries to taste and *take* what makes him hurt --

What makes him *need* --

Shake --

And Lex lays Tim down *gently*, kisses him again -- pulls back --

"Lex --"

"I think..." Lex searches his eyes and winces --

"Lex, please --"

"Tim, I think if you love someone enough -- or, perhaps, *well* enough -- you can take them with you wherever you go --"

"I'll take *you* --"

"Will you?" And Lex's smile looks painful. "I'm rather worried about the fragments of me you'll leave behind. Or rather -- what those fragments will do."

Tim cups his face and -- "Please. Please."

Lex leans in and nuzzles Tim, breathes *harshly* -- "Leave Gotham."

"I can't --"

"Divorce your parents."

"I already have the documents drawn up --"

Lex kisses him *hard*, one hand on Tim's left hip and the other on Tim's right shoulder --

Pushing Tim's shoulder *down* --

But not as much as the kiss is. Not --

Tim moans and sucks Lex's tongue in pulses, tries to convince it to somehow go deeper, somehow take him *more*. He opens his eyes --

And Lex is staring at him hungrily, seemingly *willing* Tim to -- something. Anything?

Tim can't *look* at that expression without needing to spread his legs wider, arch, *hold* --

Lex breaks the kiss and licks Tim's cheek --

His chin --

Lex bites Tim's throat and growls again, squeezes with both hands --

Breaks and *pants* --

"Lex --"

"Do you think it would've worked?"

"What. I -- what?"

Lex hums and pulls back, staring into Tim's eyes --

*Searching* Tim's eyes --

"Darling, I -- am tempted to ask you all sorts of questions while your pupils are that blown."

That -- Tim laughs helplessly. "*Lex*."

"It wouldn't have worked to kill him with my bare hands. Or -- any other way. I do know that. I do know that all I really did was prove to him I couldn't win the game without cheating, without -- sinking to his level --"

"It's not a *game* --"

"It's *all* a game, darling, because it's cruel, capricious, and *fucking* random --" Lex growls again and bites Tim's throat again --

Tim groans and *arches* --

Lex pulls back enough to grip Tim's throat and *hold* it against the desk. "Love me."

"Lex --"

"*Love* me."

Tim squeezes his eyes shut -- no. He opens them and stares, needs, *begs* -- "I do."

"And I -- I believe I love you -- and what the *hell* kind of childhood did *you* have that that fucking *weaseling* makes you *melt*?"

Tim gasps a laugh and reaches up to stroke Lex's cheek, Lex's swollen mouth --

"*Make* me do what you want, what you need --"

"*Love* me, then, Lex, love me so much you *need* to do what I need you *to* do --"

"I." Lex smiles *fiercely*.


"Let's negotiate."

"Let's *fuck* -- mm?"

Lex's fingers are *firm* on Tim's mouth as Lex cocks his head, as Lex breathes through his mouth and *studies* -- "Tell me how hard you like it."

Tim licks Lex's fingers --

Lex narrows his *eyes*.

Tim lifts his arms over his head and laces his fingers together --

And Lex stares at Tim's hands for a long, *thoughtful* moment -- and then stares down into Tim's eyes again. And moves his fingers.

"Please. I mean -- hard."

"Should I hurt you?"

Tim's penis twitches *hard* --

"I want -- to jerk you off."

"Please, no --"

"Not right now. Not --" Lex licks his lips. "I'm too hard for that. And I'll want you on my lap for it."

"Okay. That's -- I'll do it -- oh --"

And Lex pushes a hand into Tim's hair and kisses him again, making it slow and wet and -- and *drugging* --

Tim can't *stop* moaning --

His penis twitches again and *again* --

Lex grunts into Tim's mouth --

Lex pulls back enough to *pant* into Tim's mouth --

"Please. *Please*, Lex --"

"I love you. Some -- some fucking *useful* power help me --" Lex growls and pulls back, pulling a bottle of STARslide out of his desk drawer and slicking his hand. "If you turn out not to be worth it, I'm going to sic Metallo on an elementary school Christmas pageant."

Tim coughs. "Ah --"

"I will make him blow up a puppy adoption agency on his way *there* --"

"Lex --"

"Plant your *feet*."

*Tim* grunts and does it, spreading as wide as he *can* --

"Your poor, abused *sac* --" Lex squeezes it *hard* --

"*Please* --"

"Where are your ribbon blades?"

"Still. Still in your bedroom --"

"Why the fuck are you *unarmed*, you bitch?"

"I have the pellets in my finger --"

Lex coughs a laugh and pushes in with two --


"You can take this."

"Yes. *Yes*," and Tim arches --


"*Fuck* --"

"I'm glad you're a teenager. I'm glad --" Lex growls and shakes his head. "You might have *met* my father otherwise --"

"You -- I need *you* --"

"I wouldn't have him -- you should never fucking breathe *air* he's breathed --"

"Please, Lex, *fuck* me --"


"*Please* -- *hnh* --"

And Lex has one hand planted on Tim's abdomen and he's *shoving* in with the fingers of his other one, he's pushing and slicking and --

"Lex, *please* --"

"Do you *like* it --"

"Burns. *Aches* -- I want -- I need --"

"How *long* have you been fucking yourself --"

"Since I was *eleven* --"

"And you wanted *Nightwing*."

Tim cries out and tries to force himself not to arch again, not to *writhe* --

"*Tell* me, damn it --"

"Lex --"

"I have to *know* you --"

Tim clenches hard and grunts, *jerks* -- "Nightwing, yes, Nightwing -- his first uniform --"

"I don't *know* -- oh, fuck, that *leisure* suit? What's wrong with you?"

Tim closes his eyes and smiles, remembers -- and croons for the feel of Lex spreading his fingers. "Lex --"

"*More* --"

"I could see -- his chest --"

"You wanted to come on it --"

Tim cries out and reaches down to *grip* his penis --

"Let *go*," Lex says -- and stills his fingers.

Tim groans and tosses his head -- "I'm sorry. I'm --"

"Let. Go."

Tim bangs his head on the desk -- and grabs the edge of it with both hands. "Please."

"Open your eyes."

"Hnh -- nnh -- Lex --"

"*Do* it."

Tim moans and does it -- and Lex is smiling rapaciously again, nearly leering with *greed* --

Tim's penis twitches *again* --

"Oh, darling. You..." Lex licks his lips. "I won't fuck you *again* until you talk Nightwing into bed."

"But --"

"I'll know if you lie," Lex says, and *bites* Tim's lower lip before pulling back. "I'll know if you fucking *dissemble* --"

"It's not like it's going to get him out of my *system*, Lex -- *ohn* -- just -- that *crook* --"

"For you, darling. For..." Lex laughs and shakes his head. "For me, too. You're a greedy boy --"

"Yes, fuck, *please* --"

"Harder? Absolutely," Lex says, and --

Three fingers --

*Hard* --

"Lex -- *Lex*!"

"Shall I ream you, darling?"

"Your -- your *penis* --"

"Not my fist? It's not as big as Batman's..."

"Nnh -- you -- *please* --"

"Does it hurt?"

"*Please* -- I mean, it does, it does --"

"Tell me all about it, darling," and Lex pulls back enough to bite Tim's *nipple* --

"*Ahn* -- oh, God, your *knuckles* --"

"*In* you."

"Yes -- yes, *Lex*, let me *move* --"


"*Please*, Lex --"

"You should've thought of that when you made me fall in love with you, darling. Now you have to take it."

Tim bangs his head against the desk --

Points his toes --

Tries to do something, *find* something --

But Lex's fingers are long and hard, Lex's fingers are thicker than they look, Lex's fingers are in --

So --

*Deep* --

And it feels so good to just yell for it, toss his head and grip at the edge of the desk, try to *live* in the burn, the incredible human *heat* --

Clark --

Kal --

Clark would feel so *frightening* -- but shouldn't Lex? Tim doesn't even know what he *means* by 'in love,' save that if it looks anything like his relationships with his bodyguards --


"Lex --"


Tim does it -- and screams for it immediately. Just -- he hadn't realized how *much* he'd loosened up --


"Please, oh -- *fuck* --"

Crooking *while* Tim clenches, *working* him --

"*Hold* yourself that way --"

"Lex, *please* --"

"Darling. You're going to be *raw* when I'm done with you."

Tim gasps and searches Lex, *needs* --

"You'll never make me be gentle when it's not what you want."

"I --"

"You'll never --" Lex growls and kisses him again --

Shoves in *deep* --

And Tim screams into his mouth and does it again, again for the burn that doesn't *fade* --

Tim clutches Lex's shoulders --

"No," Lex says, shrugging him off and leaning back. "Not *yet*, I should say. I should -- fuck, but you shouldn't be --" Lex winces and shudders --

And pulls out. Pulls -- "Lex --"

"I need you, darling. I need to -- well," and Lex's smile looks pained and gentle at once, full and soft and *thorned*."


"Yes," Lex says, and opens his pants, letting them fall to his ankles before pushing down his own boxer-briefs -- and there he is.

Long and thick and *bare*, more pale than Bruce but still *dark* --

"Oh, darling. We'll *examine* that look of yours... some other time. Stand up and bend over."

"Please. I mean --" Tim shakes his head and does it, dropping onto his elbows and bending his head --

"Does Bruce fuck you this way in that office of his?"

"What? Who --"

"You're perfect. And perfectly terrifying, which fits well with my... hm. Theme, perhaps?" Lex spreads him. "It's one of those famous superhero *things*, isn't it? Superman giving the Batman a *big* hunk of kryptonite just in *case*."

"Lex, *fuck* me --"

"I gave him kryptonite first, darling," and Lex leans in and *breathes* on Tim's hole --

"*Ohn* -- what -- I don't --"

"I... think your scent works even better than Mercy's with my soap. I'm clearly besotted, but -- you're worth it," and Lex *kisses* his hole --

Makes love to it like --

Like *Bruce* --

"Please, Lex --- *please* -- no --"

Lex pulls back --

"I mean -- fuck me, fuck me --"

"I can't look at your eyes while you're lying to me, darling. I know they'll be too perfect," and then there's the sound of Lex slicking his penis --

"Please -- I *need* you --"

"Yes, you do. And Bruce needed me, too -- once. We were twenty-four, and he was freshly home from Thailand...your hole is still pink."

"I -- what. I mean -- thank you? Lex, I don't know --"

"Shh, just take this," Lex says, and pushes in slowly, pushes in with a *hot* sigh -- "Oh, darling. My -- my beautiful --" Lex groans and *shoves* in the last two inches --

"*Ahn* --"

"Darling, my darling -- we fucked on the floor of his study. He had a tan everywhere except for his -- hn. Bathing suit regions...? I'm reasonably sure that's the last time *that* happened --" And Lex groans and *shudders* --

Tim clenches --

And Lex *grips* the back of Tim's neck. "Stop that. For now."

"Lex -- you can't just -- *please* --"

"Soon, darling. I have to... have to give you..." Lex groans again and strokes Tim's sides and back, strokes and squeezes Tim's *hips* -- "I think I have to give you everything."

"You -- you *don't* --"

"You're my last chance, darling. My -- ghost of Christmas future, perhaps? How the hell do you stay so *tight*?"

"You're *big* --"

"But not --" Lex shudders again, pants -- "Not as big as Bruce was. Nor as covered with fascinating and frightening *scars*. I showed up on his doorstep. I flirted. I charmed. It did nothing --"

"Fuck me, Lex, *fuck* me --"

"I looked deep into his eyes and apologized for every cruel thing I'd ever said to him -- I was so *fucking* lonely..."

Tim grunts -- and pants --

Tries to *think* --


"Darling. Tim. I saw my father in his eyes. It's just that I also saw how lonely *he* was... and he didn't fight me. And he didn't --" Lex groans and half *swallows* a laugh -- "I think he was a *virgin*, darling," and Lex pulls out most of the way --

"Nuh --"

Lex *slams* in --

Tim screams and beats at the desk --

"No please?"

"*Please* -- we can talk *later* --"

"No, *right* now," Lex says, and pulls out most of the way again --

"Lex --"

And shoves in --

"*Lex* --"

"He shook his head when I asked about his scars. I think he was too -- too hard to *lie* to me --"

"Please, he's not -- I don't --"

"Or maybe too lonely. Another, darling?"

"*Fuck* me, *fuck* me --"

And Lex shoves Tim's head down against the blotter and fucks him, fucks him *hard* --

"*Lex* --"

In and in and --

"Ohn -- oh, *please* --"

"Is it good, darling?"


"Is Bruce Wayne Batman?"

"*No*, you psycho --"

And Lex gasps a laugh and *stops*.


"Don't worry, darling -- that's *not* punishment. I just have a limited amount of control at the moment -- you are... so beautiful."

"*You* are -- *nnh* --"

"I love the sounds you make. I love the feel of you. I love knowing I'm getting you *off*," and Lex leans in and licks Tim's *ear*. "I even love that. Bruce went down on me like it was something he'd dreamed of for years. Like it was something I'd *denied* him for years."

"He -- he doesn't even have an attractive *mouth* --"

"Not like mine...? Hn. You love his mouth, darling. I know you do."

"*Lex* -- oh, *fuck* --"

"Ooh. And that's how you respond to direct prostate stimulation? Noted. You don't curse enough," and Lex stands again --

Shifts his *stance* --

"Here," and he starts to thrust --

"Fuck -- *fuck* -- *fuck* -- oh, *God* --"

"Are you going to come?"

"*Yes* --"


"*Yes* --"

Lex *stops* --

"*Damn* you --"

"You'll come with my hand on you, darling. You'll -- I spent the whole time he was sucking me trying to figure out *how* I'd get his monster of a cock down my own throat. I hadn't experimented *enough* --"

"*Please*, Lex --"

"Motivation was enough. His taste -- but I know you know it."

"I *don't* --"

"Stop *lying* to me -- no. No, I have to prove myself. I'm *not* going to fuck this out of you -- so. Let me finish?"

Tim shudders and pants -- "I can't stop you --"

"You *can*."

"Lex --"

"Darling, you can do *anything* you want. If I don't manage to teach you anything else -- " Lex growls and *grinds* --

"*Please* --"

"Let me *finish* --"

"*Do* it, then, *tell* me -- *fuck* --"

And Lex is biting the back of Tim's neck, growling and grinding and grinding his *teeth* --

"*Yes*, Lex --"

Lex pulls back and stands, gripping the back of Tim's neck again and thrusting steadily, *roughly* -- "Rape fantasies?"



"*Superman* --"

"You sick *bitch*," and Lex laughs delightedly and takes him faster --

Harder --

*More* --

And. Tim wants -- "*Finish*, Lex --"

"I knew -- I knew it wouldn't *last* -- don't leave me."

"I won't. I *can't* --"

"Don't go *home* --"

"*Lex* --"

"And don't fucking *listen* --" Lex growls and grips Tim's hips, holding them *still* --

"Oh, *fuck* me --"

"Darling, I -- God, I wanted him to do this to *me*, wanted him -- because I knew he wasn't the type to give up after a fuck like that. I knew he would *make* himself try to -- try to be with me --" Lex groans --

Tim clenches *helplessly* --

The burn is so --

So rough and hot and *sweet* --

And Tim knows he's making embarrassing noises. Just -- little growls and louder cries and helpless animal *grunts* --

*Bruce* makes him sound like this --

And he'd made Lex sound like this, too, once. He'd --

"I couldn't -- couldn't fucking *let* him. Say my name again --"

"Hah -- *Lex* --"

"Say you --"

"I *love* you, I *need* you -- oh, please don't *stop* again --"

"Never. *Never* now --"

"Nnh -- *nnh* -- so *hard* --"

"For *you* --" And Lex growls and lets go with one hand --

Shoves it into Tim's hair and yanks his head *back* --

"I should do -- do my next *meeting* like this --"

Tim tries to laugh, but it comes out a cry --

Another and another --

"Tim, you -- I can't. I fucking *can't* --" And then Lex is slamming in, thrust after thrust until Tim can't even beat at the desk anymore, can't do anything but scream and sob and --

Clench --

Lex *growls* -- "That's it. That's --" And then Lex's hand is on him, around him --

Lex squeezes and *strokes* --


"*Come*, bitch --"

And Tim tries to say please again, but he can only nod and work his hips in the rhythm Lex sets --

In the rhythm Tim *needs* --

"Yes -- yes, I *see*," Lex says, and Tim can hear the smile in his voice, feel the *threat* --

And now every thrust is pushing Tim up onto his toes --

Now he can't -- can't even move --

Tim hangs his head --

Lex *claws* Tim's *back* -- "Tim."

Please. Please. *Please* --

"Now," Lex says, and starts stroking so fast, so --

Black --

He has to fucking *breathe* --

But gasping makes his spine fuse --

Makes him clench and *wail* --

And then all he can do is shudder and scream his way through an orgasm, through being fucked to within an inch --

Several inches --

Laughing makes him scream *again* --

And then Lex pulls out and flips Tim over into the wet spot --

"*Lex* --"

Lex shoves *in* again --

Pushes Tim's thighs back to his *chest* --

Groans and *shakes* --

"Lex, *yes* --"

"I need -- just this, just this and I can --"

Tim clenches --

"You dirty *bitch*," and that was more growl than language, that was -- "*Here*," Lex says, and squeezes Tim's throat.

Tim tries to buck but *can't* --

"Oh -- your eyes --" Lex squeezes his eyes shut --

*Grips* Tim's throat --

And starts to fuck him again, ragged and almost rhythm-less, brutal and *sharp* --

Tim grips Lex's arm and yanks --

"Tim --"

"Let me -- oh, Lex! Lex! *Lex*!"

"*Fuck* -- *hnh* --" And Lex is coming as he thrusts, slamming in hard enough to *move* Tim and coming --

So deep --

*Hurts* --

Tim beats at the desk and *sobs* --

And then Lex yanks Tim's legs down around his hips and *drops*, crushing Tim just a little --

Just *enough* --

Tim wraps his arms around Lex and holds on, doing it tighter when it makes his arms shake.

Lex groans and bites Tim's throat *lightly* --


"Sweet jumping jelly beans."


"Flip-flapping butterflies."


"You -- darling -- are an excellent fuck."

Well. Tim hums and hugs Lex with his legs, too --

And Lex *kisses* Tim's throat, and jaw, and cheek. And then he pushes up onto his hands and pants, staring down at Tim like ---

"You do an excellent job of being Master Of All You Survey, Lex."

"I've practiced -- but you already know that."

Tim smiles and strokes Lex's hip with his toes.

"Foot porn?"

"Ah -- I do it for --"



Lex hums and licks Tim's mouth. "You ought to be working for the CIA, darling."

Tim makes a face.

"Yes, I know, but sometimes they get wonderful *gadgets* --"

"I have better ones."

"Yes, including a machine which manipulates *space-time* -- what the hell did you do? Leave those other Lexes lonely?"

"Ah... I made sure they had Tims of their own."

Lex blinks at him. "You --"

"Yes. The one I slept with has two, now. Though one is only a toddler."

Lex licks his lips. "Did you take away a Tim from an evil Lex or something?"

Tim stretches his arms. "From a... lethargic Lex. They'd let their Tim make it to age fifteen without doing *anything* to acquire her --"


"Well, her name is Jessica, but she's pretty much me --"

"What did she *look* like?"

"Ah... me? Hair just like mine, but down her back. Sloping shoulders. A-and-a-half cup breasts. *Excellent* with knives. Don't make me jealous, Lex."

Lex holds up a finger and looks thoughtful --

"*No*, Lex."

"Would you --"

"If we make a child, it *will* be in a test tube, Lex."

Lex kisses him --

Lex *bites* him --

Lex growls and pulls back. "What about my son."

Hm. Tim raises an eyebrow.

"You're *still* wearing a *mask*."

Tim makes a face. "Your son is one of my closest friends."

"But you've never slept with him."

Tim holds up a hand. "Three lovers before you. *Just* three --"


"What do you *mean* 'no'?"

Lex smiles and kisses Tim -- deeply. Wetly and softly and --

Lex kisses him as if he *isn't* softening --

Lex kisses him as if he wants to do it all *day* --

And Tim can't not wrap his arms around Lex again, can't keep himself from stroking and rubbing and *holding* --

And following when Lex pulls back --

And getting kissed back down to the *desk* -- "Lex --"

"You're not built for sexual *continence*, darling. I have no doubt whatsoever that you would've built something that destroyed the *universe* if it had taken you any longer to get fucked."

Tim scowls.

Lex *beams* -- "Yes, *that*. What's the real reason why you haven't fucked 'Kon-El?' Are you worried that I've programmed him to destroy all humans in tights if he comes too hard?"

Tim -- *works* on holding the scowl --

Lex grins like a *shark* --

"Be a father to him."

"To -- the *clone*?"

"Your son," Tim says, and folds his hands behind his head. "You'd be doing one better than Clark."

Lex blinks -- "And, knowing you, *that* little comment was absolutely *meant* for the alien's super-ears. Has he been *that* bad?"

"I gave him a pass for having come back from the dead to discover a clone who insisted on having his own -- decidedly brash -- personality... but that pass ended two years ago. He's been... weak."

Lex studies him *avidly*. "No greater crime...?"

"Well. He *could* have also been useless... but he has given Kon certain things he's needed. It could, in fact, be worse."

"Ah, and he damns with faint praise. All right, darling. What should *I* do with the clone?"

"Name him. Something... human."

"I -- do you have suggestions?"

Tim smiles and *scratches* Lex's hip with his toes. "Hawai'i is extremely important to him. He speaks several of the languages of those islands fluently."

Another blink. "He *speaks* like a drugged-out *surfer* --"

"When it suits him. He is, in fact, a brilliant polymath... who is afraid of dying alone, known only for being... a freak."

Lex -- grunts.

"I see I have your attention."

"Is he too *young* for you?"

"As a matter of fact... yes. Though that doesn't stop me from fantasizing about him using his power to fuck me blind, deaf, and dumb."

"Not his undoubtedly wonderful cock?"

Tim smiles again. "That comes after. When I'm too tired to protest."

Lex laughs and shakes his head. "He is... fourteen years younger than you."


"You --" Lex narrows his eyes. "You were on a team with him."


"You *led* that team."


"You raised him."

"As much as I could. I also had Impulse to consider, and the team dynamics in general, and the fact that I wasn't allowed to *give* myself to them as much as I wanted to -- or as much as they needed me to."

Lex nods thoughtfully --

Kisses the tip of Tim's nose -- "No, that doesn't work."

"Not at *all*, Lex --"

"Shh, darling, I'm having a moment," and Lex scans him at speed. "Your beauty really is much better *suited* to a woman."

"Certainly, Jessica is lovely."

"Are you bisexual enough for *her*?"

"Lex, that's --"

"Answer the question."

"Hn. I would've said no... before I watched her getting double-teamed by the same Batman --"


"-- and Lex who eventually double-teamed *me*. I think we could manage to be *exceedingly* gay about the whole thing, vulva and all."

And Lex looks... delighted. "What if I named him after myself?"

Tim offers another moue --

"All right, yes, that *is* weak. Forgive me; I was stunned by your cleverness."

Tim scratches Lex with the toes of *both* feet --

"You love being flexible."

"I learned it in the hopes of Nightwing using it against me."

"Not Bruce?"

"Batman -- in my fantasies -- never needed me to be *especially* bendy... as opposed to willing."

Lex hums and seems to consider -- "And Kent? In your fantasies, I mean."

"Bondage, domination, sadism, humiliation, slavery, scarring -- "

"And all of that *rape*, yes. Are you trying to horrify him or get him to kidnap you?"

Tim -- purrs. "I didn't give him permission to kiss me earlier. He really needs to pay for that."

"By which you mean that you're *reasonably* sure that he'd rather... make sweet love to you and hold you all night long."

"Mm-hmm. Though he made sure I knew that he was willing to... play."

Lex narrows his eyes and braces himself on one hand, stroking Tim's cheek with the other before cupping Tim's throat.

"Yes? Darling...?"

"*Don't* give him what he wants."

"I thought we agreed that I *wasn't* your property."

"You're not. You're my lover and, as such, you are ready, willing, and able to accede to my more reasonable requests."

"Hmm. What should I give him instead, then?"

"Your screams. Your cries. Your -- heartfelt -- pleas for mercy. And? Your *fear*."


"And so I have *your* attention.... darling. I don't give a flying fuck about what other people think about me -- except when I do. Marry me and *force* me to never care again."

Tim -- gasps.

"The *request* couldn't have been a surprise at this point, so... the honesty behind it? The fact that I'm *willing* you to change who I am?"

"Ah -- more the latter. Lex --"

"Don't backtrack now, darling. *Press your advantage*."

Tim hisses between his teeth --

Closes his eyes for a *moment* --

And then opens them again. "Veto power."


"*Everything*. Every project. Every act of corporate war. Every act of *political* war --"

"You don't think you'll be too busy --"


Lex stares at him for a long moment.

Lex smiles *slowly*. "Ruthless, aren't you."

"Sometimes. I don't actually think you *can* give me veto power --"

"Why not?"

"You're a *control* freak, Lex!"

"And you... are my darling. Mask and all. Would you like to know a secret?"

"No, Lex, I *never want to know any secrets*."

Lex breathes a laugh and smiles *brightly*. "After Bruce came in my mouth... after I looked at myself and found myself staring at a man I'd never *known* before..."

"I -- yes?"

"After all of that, Bruce said my name. And cupped my face. And asked me to look at him, to -- share with him. He actually said that. As if he really believed I *could*. As if he'd looked at me and seen someone who could be anything -- anything at all -- but terrified in a moment like that one."

Tim winces and unfolds his arms before reaching up to cup Lex's face with both hands. "Sometimes... sometimes good men are extremely stressful."

"*Oh*, yes. And so I was grateful when Bruce responded to my desperate drive to throw bullshit over all the love we'd made on his *floor*... with Brucie Wayne, billionaire idiot."

That --

He's supposed to say something, here, about not being surprised by that. Or perhaps something snide about what Lex should've expected. Or even something *curious* --

And Tim can feel himself *blushing* --

"Oh, darling. Do you hurt for me *that* much?"

Tim blushes *harder* --

And Lex leans in and kisses Tim's cheeks. "Push me out."

"I -- all right, Lex," Tim says, taking a deep breath and doing it --

"I -- am going to need a new blotter. What would you think of one with little spaceships all over it?"

"You have one of those *upstairs* --"

"Did you go through any of the papers up there when you were looking around?"

"Lex, let's talk about --"

Lex kisses him. "I was grateful. Just like how a part of you is grateful to my moral lethargy and overall turpitude, as it allowed the so-called 'World's Finest' to continue to operate as independent agents, free of everything resembling care for their secret identities."

Tim closes his eyes and beats his head back against the desk -- no. He stops that. "Lex --"

"*You* had nothing to do with my figuring out Bruce's secret. It was the scars, and the speed and ease with which he began putting on his act despite the fact that the sex was just as earth-shattering as what *we* just did, and the act's vast difference from how he'd been in school, and from the psych profile I commissioned on him six months after the Batman started appearing in news stories in Gotham papers. And, no, you don't ever have to admit it. You don't even have to confirm that your last name is Drake, or that you're in love with a man who willingly calls himself Dick, or that the current Oracle is -- almost certainly -- the *former* Batgirl or -- any of it. I am never going to be a part of your family --"

"You're my *lover*. I -- I told Clark that --"

"Of course you did, and of course you are. Lovers make their own families. Yes?"

Tim searches Lex's eyes --

Fights back the urge to wince and hide and just --


*Something* --

"Why did you give him the kryptonite?"

"To foster a working partnership between the two of us. We were twenty-seven, and Bruce had been Batman for eight months. That had given me just enough time to get over the fact that Bruce would never want to be my lover --"

"Lex --"

"I know you want us to be together, darling, and I *believe* you when you say that other Lexes and Bruces manage with that quite well... but. Those other Lexes didn't do the unthinkable."

"They'd all *considered* it --"

"We both know --"

"And Bruce -- Bruce knew that. And considered it, too."

Lex frowns and narrows his eyes, searching Tim --

"You -- know what I'm saying. Don't you?"

"Say it."

"God, fuck -- Lex, the other Bruces have long, detailed fantasies of *beating* Lionel to death!"

"The way Kent fantasizes about me, do you think...?"

*Tim* frowns and reaches to stroke Lex's chest, the sides of his throat -- "I'd stop him."

"Even if I... backslid?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "You're not my property."

"Of course not --"

"But you're my responsibility now, Lex --"

"What --"

"If you fuck up? *I* take you down."

Lex's nostrils flare as he rears back -- "A part of you would enjoy that."

"Mm. It's the same part that wants Clark to make me bleed. Or -- well. It's *close* to that part."

Lex *starts* to sneer -- stops and sits down in his chair with the fingers of one hand on his chin.

Tim sits up -- carefully -- and recrosses his legs.

"You're -- stunning. I already said that."

Tim inclines his head.

"Do you pose like that for Bruce?"

"This pose in particular? No. I thought you'd appreciate the insouciance more."

Lex nods slowly. "I -- *want* to tell you to try it on him anyway."


"*Guess*, darling."

Tim smiles sharply. "I have no problem whatsoever saving this particular physical configuration for you. Darling."

"Do you have any pet names for him? Other than variations on 'Dad.'"


"Not your thing...?"


"You terrible, awful, no-good, horrible bitch."

"Yes, Lex?"

"Veto power is yours."

Tim blinks rather a lot --


Tim coughs into his fist -- ah. "You're vastly attracted to the possibilities inherent in taking my attention away from vigilantism."

Lex scowls at him.

Tim smiles again, uncrosses his legs, and kicks out enough to stroke Lex's knee with his left big toe.



"I need a new Mercy. Or -- no, not a temporary one. Wait, *are* you jealous --"

"Lex. When you're fucking Mercy, she is almost certainly not being horrifying and violent to anyone else."

"*Very* true. And far too practical. Damn it, *I* want a toddler you!"

Tim recrosses his legs. "If we can find one, he's yours. Presumably, you'd like to see if it's possible to raise one who won't be 'acutely horrifying?'"

"Yes. Yes. And -- I want to raise him or her with physics textbooks in *every single room*."

Tim smiles. "All right. But I reserve the right to teach him or her how to be excessively violent --"


"No knife-y, no toddler-y."

Lex scowls at him again.

Tim purses his lips.

"Your lipstick -- what brand is that?"

"Galileia. The shade is 'Songhai.'"

"It's not smudged, at all. It's a bit more dull around the edges, but -- I approve wholeheartedly."

"Mm. It's cruelty-free, too."

"You're joking. They've gotten *that* good?"

"Mm-hmm. Though I sometimes use a base coat of cinnamon lip gloss to distract from the taste, which I find to be a bit... dusty."

Lex steeples his fingers and crosses his own legs. "You're going to cross-dress for me all the time."

"I refuse to dress impractically while Mercy is within one hundred miles."

"Hm. Not Hope?"

"Everything you've said about Hope -- and my own studies of her in various alternate universes -- suggests that we'll be able to find common ground. Eventually."

Lex inclines his head. "Give Mercy time."

"How much?"

"Until you're an adult. She loathes teenaged males."

"*You* were a teenager when you met her --"

"*But* -- according to her -- I didn't smell like one."

Tim -- makes a face. "I'm ready to be done with adolescence."

"Bruce fucks adults," Lex says, thoughtful again.

"Ah -- nearly exclusively. You *know* --"

"The psych profile was quite clear about how stunted he was emotionally. How... inclined toward the romanticization of certain varieties of youth."

"He's not a romantic *that* way --"

"Yes, you *would* know. He's... childlike."


"That *would* have been the nail in the coffin, by the way."

Tim winces -- but. "He dresses like a giant bat and goes out to fight crime. And he did it *after* the JSA all retired and *before* anyone else came out to do it again."

Lex tilts his head back and smiles nostalgically. "That day -- I thought I would have to explain to him how gay sex worked."

"You *do* think he was a virgin --"

"Yes. But he needed very, very little in the way of instruction. He'd probably been fantasizing about poor Harvey for a decade by that point... but I had thought those fantasies would be... innocent."

And Tim can see that, but -- "'Poor Harvey'?"

"You *don't* have anything like a soft spot for him? At all? He gave up money, fame, and safety to fight for justice the legal way, then went honestly crazy because of years of abuse he allowed to happen rather than fighting back."

Tim looks down and rubs at his knee.

"Are you *jealous* of him?"

That -- Tim gives Lex a look.

"Yes, Bruce *will* always love him. You --" Lex shakes his head. "You have to understand, Tim -- Harvey was the only light in Bruce's world for *years*. The only one who ever really *tried* to understand him, and to give him friendship. The rest of us were too *afraid* of Bruce -- and the things he'd *say* -- to do anything of the kind. He --"

"He knows the secret."

Lex blinks. "Really."

Tim makes a face. "Not -- consciously. Probably. But he knows it well enough to be jealous of Robins, and to thus make it his business to brutalize us whenever possible. That would be bad *enough* -- Dick has been able to predict the weather since he was *fourteen* thanks to him -- but... he's Bruce's weak spot."

"Darling, *you* are his weak spot --"

"*I'm* not a soft target with a history of losing my *shit*. And neither is the rest of his family. Additionally, I'm *fairly* sure that I would do my level best to get *well* if I ever found myself becoming a murderous psychopath. Especially... especially if a friend needed me to do just that."

"But you *don't* think you'll stay completely clean when you're the Batman."

"Some -- some people need to die. Others need to be beaten so badly that they're physically and emotionally incapable of causing any more trouble."

"Oracle is still listening to you. Isn't she?"

Tim smiles. "I don't think I'll have to work especially hard to convince her."

"Would you like me to make the Joker disappear?"

Tim -- stops smiling. He --

It's just that he *can't* -- yet.

Yet. Tim looks down and shakes his head.

"Tell me why," Lex says, and his voice is -- gentle.

"Batman would know it was you, and that you had done it for *me* --"

"Oh, just call him --"

"Lex. He would *be* Batman for this. He would." Tim looks up and smiles ruefully. "He would take himself away from me. And I can't -- I can't."

"That selfish *ass* --"

"Lex --"

"I know, I know. He's a *good* man. There's a perfectly wonderful movie from the forties you need to see -- it's chock full of incest; you'll love it --"

Tim coughs --

"It's called 'Mourning Becomes Electra,' and it contains the line -- oh, what was it -- yes: 'I hope there's a hell for the good, somewhere.'"

"Catchy, but --"

"But *nothing*, darling. The man -- the *creature* -- is a worse stain than my *father* was."

"That didn't stop you from *working* with him --"

"That's all over now. That's -- how *much* were you in love with Jason Todd? Everyone knows --"

"Yes -- ah. When I began following Batman and Robin around at night --"

"*What* --"

"*Leave* it --"

"What the hell was *wrong* with your parents?"

"Lex --"

"Answer the original question."

"I used to have -- so many photographs of him. His arms. His fists. His calves. His thighs. His -- incredible thighs. His beautiful and *wild* hair. His *smiles*. He had -- he had so many *vicious* smiles --"

"Like you?"

"*No*. *Nothing* like me. He was -- he was passionate all the *time* --"

"And Bruce loved him."

"I -- I would sometimes cut my last period study hall so I could go to his school and watch him play basketball, or have sex with girls on the athletic fields --"

"And you had pictures of that?"

"I --" Tim smiles ruefully. "I didn't keep those. Sometimes I didn't even develop them completely. I felt -- too guilty. I did, however, train my memory thoroughly before I destroyed them. He was... incredibly beautiful in an entirely different way from Dick, and I used to fantasize about somehow being Robin with him. I could see -- even as an eleven-year-old green-belt -- how our skills could complement. I..." Tim frowns and looks down, gripping the desk. "When I'm Batman, the Joker will die."

"Tim... he's going to get out again."

"I know."

"It would be incredibly easy for me to just make him *disappear*. He doesn't even have to die --"

"Yes, he does."

"Tim, don't let him hurt anyone else --"

"I'm not -- you're not going to *buy* me with this. And don't think I don't know how much you're hoping the veto power will *distract* me from being a vigilante --"

"I have my kinks. And my *needs*. And I would out Bruce in a *heartbeat* if the Joker ever hurt you."

"*Lex* --"

"I am a *vengeful* man --"

"There is... something of a solution."

"What *is* it?"

"It involves Clark -- who is floating right there. Hmm."

"Tell me," Clark mouths.

"Stasis, Clark. Until such time as psychotherapy -- or psychopharmacology -- advances *enough*."

Clark blinks at him.

Lex raises his eyebrows at him.

"Oh -- *what*, Lex?"

"You'd rather have the *alien* imprison the man indefinitely in a box somewhere in Antarctica than let me dispose of him."

"*You* said you wouldn't -- but you were lying."

"Like a *rug*, darling."

"I --" Tim snorts and shakes his head --

And Clark is glaring at the back of Lex's head through the chair. At least, that's what seems to be happening. His eyes are *incandescent*.

"Clark... everyone knows that there's nothing which can be done for him as he is now, and everyone knows that he *can't* be contained. Not for very long, anyway."

Clark closes his eyes and breathes deeply. And then knocks twice on the window.

Lex sighs. "I'm not going to put up with this indefinitely, darling."

"You really will."

Lex grins at him -- and opens the window --

And Clark is cupping Tim's face. <<Fine one. There is nothing we cannot negotiate/have.>>

Tim inclines his head. "This first."

"Batman will -- you know what he will say."

"The JLA and JSA already monitor the metahuman prisons and asylums. Why *not* build one to *our* specifications?"

"And staff it? Robin, it's not feasible --"

Tim pulls back from Clark's hand and grips his wrist. "Nothing in stasis requires monitoring. Or any care save for what the stasis boxes themselves provide."

"Even the strictest prisons and asylums allow the inmates time to exercise and *speak*, Robin --"

"Antarctica is not America, Clark. And inmates in stasis are far, far healthier -- and safer -- than inmates in the average maximum security prison yard."

Clark frowns --

Turns to glare at *Lex* --

And Lex smiles from behind his steepled fingers. "He won't do it."

"I don't recall giving you permission to speak for me, Luthor."

Lex waves a hand -- and focuses on Tim. "His reasoning -- no matter what he actually *says* --"

"*Luthor* --"

"-- is much the same as your own, darling," and Lex cocks his head to the side, smiling secretly, *privately* -- and then openly. "What's making you hungry? And does Bruce ever call you 'my love?'"

"Ah -- your thoughts. And yes, he does --"

"I want to say that I don't know what about him makes otherwise vastly intelligent people follow him to the ends of the earth and beyond... but," and this time, Lex's smile is much too old.

"Lex --"

"Don't let him hurt you. Don't -- ever -- do that."

Tim raises an eyebrow --

"*Either* of them, darling. Or both."

Tim sucks in a breath -- and inclines his head.

And Clark cups Tim's elbow.

Tim frowns.

Lex *stares* at Clark's hand -- and then smiles again.

Tim hums and removes Clark's hand from his arm. "What's on the schedule for the rest of the day?"

"Robin --"

Tim *looks* at Clark.

Clark -- Kal -- *glows* at him.

"All I can do is murder him in cold blood when I get the chance, Clark. You... have the power for more. And you won't use it."

"Tim -- I wouldn't stop you. I -- and I wouldn't turn you in."

Tim raises an eyebrow --

And there's a *ghost* of warm, smooth contact on his forehead. A caress at speed.

"All right, Clark. I... appreciate that --"

"Talk to *him* about it. And I will, too."

Tim blinks -- and lifts his chin.

Clark smiles ruefully and reaches out to touch Tim's cheek -- he doesn't do it. "I can hear everything, Tim. I don't *have* to *listen*... but the fact that I choose to do just that... Well. Perhaps you could choose to let it tell you something about me?"

Tim narrows his eyes thoughtfully -- "You don't truly want me to fear you, Clark."

"No, I don't. The scent of it is... unpalatable. But I'd rather have you fear me than have you choose to... ignore me."

Hm. "Noted. Please leave us alone for now."

"Tim --"

Tim raises his eyebrow again.

And Clark --

Or Kal --

Or *possibly* Superman -- shows his even white teeth and slurs something thick and impenetrably *archaic* in Kryptonian.

Tim *thinks* the phrase sounds closest to one used to describe a malfunctioning monitor-servant, but -- "Do you intend to translate that?"

"Perhaps another time. Perhaps... soon?"

Tim -- offers a wry smile.

"Oh -- I've missed that very much, Tim. And so has your brother, with whom I've just spent a fair amount of time --"

"Until later, Clark."

"Of course --"

And Clark is gone. There's a branching *tree* of cracks in the open window.

"I should start sending him bills," Lex says, and closes it again.

"Mm. It would probably hurt him more if you just made Lois laugh every now and again."

"I -- can't believe I didn't recognize that lipstick."

"Hn. Bruce wants her, too."

"Does he *dress* you like her?"

"No. He prefers me in... older styles," Tim says, and calls up the scent of Chanel no. 22 and aging silk... mm.

And he can feel Lex glaring at him.

Tim turns and blows him a kiss --

"I do have to work today, unfortunately."

"Let me shower and dress and I'll adorn your office while you do."

"And you'll nerve-strike anyone who suggests criminal activities?"

"Lex, I'm a felon *hundreds* of times over. 'Criminal' is *not* the problem --"

"Yes, yes, I know. I liked the *phrasing*, darling."

Tim hums and kicks out, pressing on Lex's penis with the pads of his foot. "Your aplomb in Clark's presence was perfect."

"I'm working on it," Lex says, and stares at Tim's foot while using his hand to make minute adjustments to its position.


"I can't decide whether I want this kink or not."

"Painted toenails? Yes? No?"

"I make Mercy use clear polish. I..." Lex frowns and wiggles Tim's big toe back and forth. "We'll experiment. Shower."

"As you say."


After their shower, Lex reapplies Tim's makeup himself, and does it with measured -- not slow -- care.

He doesn't take off Tim's mask.


When Tim changes back into the Robin suit for his trip back to Gotham, he does his best to *stop* thinking about all the changes he wants to make to the thing.

It's just --

Robin-green was *never* his color --

And he's willing to bet that Bruce has any number of sketches along just those lines. Bruce -- is not above the call of aesthetics. Still, he *can* focus on dressing himself --

He leaves the domino for last.

He --

He moves to where Lex is standing by the windows and brings Lex's hand to his face, Lex's fingertips to the thin and sensitive skin beneath his eyes --

"Your skin --"

"Perfect there, yes."

Lex takes a deep and somewhat shaky breath -- and turns to look out over Metropolis again. "Prudence -- who is not yet *named* Prudence, but will be -- is an expert with all sorts of munitions, types one hundred and fifty words per minute, wears stockings with seams --"

"And is a psychopath?"

"Sweet merry jumped-up Christ on a pogo stick, yes. She introduced herself by maiming -- mildly -- fourteen of my mercenaries, napalmed the greenhouse, and offered me the use of her uterus -- all before she told me her name."

"Oh, dear. Will you... ah?"

Lex smiles and leans in to kiss Tim's eyelids, once and once. "Only if you don't get me a toddler you. I'll also accept infants and kindergarteners."

Tim snorts. "Five is much too old."

"What were *you* doing when you were five?"

"Cutting out articles about Bruce Wayne and pasting them into scrapbooks. Even the ones in home and garden magazines."


"I could picture Dick *helping* to plant the flowers, or lounging on *that* chaise, or smiling while tumbling on the grass... et cetera. Where is Prudence now?"

"Orientation with Hope. I *had* been planning to give her to Mercy for a while, but... well."

Tim hums. "I truly didn't intend to damage her that badly --"

"I know. *She* won't care about that -- she doesn't *like* it when she can't perform her duties -- but I do. Though I probably shouldn't...?" And Lex raises a -- colored, now -- eyebrow.

Tim waves a hand. "It's -- a grey area."

"So it is. In any event, she *will* feel better once I straddle her chest and feed her my cock --"

"Nnh -- we --"

"*You're* going back to Gotham, darling --"

"I could --"

"Make Bruce feel better. Please."

Tim -- blinks.

"Yes, I do, in fact, continue to have... let's call it a 'soft spot' and leave it at that."

"We don't have to --"

"He's a generous man. He just might *agree* to a threesome for your birthday."

Tim groans -- and walks into Lex's arms, wrapping his own around Lex's waist. "I'm going to miss sleeping with you tonight."

"Promise Kent a blowjob if he'll be your shuttle."

"Mm. I might not manage to work up much fear while doing that --"

"I didn't say that you should actually *give* him the blowjob, darling."

Tim snorts and bites Lex's shoulder through his shirt --

And Lex cups the back of his head and -- holds on. "Thank you."

"Lex --"


"Hm. All right. For now."

Lex strokes down to the back of Tim's neck, sketches a pattern there with his fingertips -- a symbol?

Tim doesn't know... but it feels very, very good.

"When am I calling you to discuss the day's business? *Where* am I calling you?"

"Well..." Tim slips the comm out of the pocket where he keeps odds and ends -- like teeth for Jason's jar -- and presses it to Lex's palm.


"It's only practical. And you'll be able to reach me all the time."

"If I *let* him," Barbara says in his ear.

Tim smiles and kisses Lex's jaw. "One moment, Lex."

"Oh -- fine," and Lex steps back and goes back to looking out over Metropolis.

"What do you have to say for yourself, Teen Headcase?"

"What do I have to say? Hmm. Fuck you. And thank you."

Barbara turns on the scrambler for her laugh, stretching the whole thing out over a note that may, in fact, be bursting small blood vessels in Tim's ears.


"Back at you, 'little brother.' I think you're a lot more mine than you are *Dick's*, anyway."

"Well... you'll get no denial about that --"

"Come to me -- after you pick Bruce up off the floor of your bedroom."

"You have assignments for me?"

"Oh, yes. There are all *sorts* of supervillains who could benefit from the application of your ass."

"Did I mention 'fuck you,' yet? Because -- fuck you."

"Hnn. I do, in fact, have things to discuss with you. Things *Luthor* may find to be exceedingly interesting ways to use all the free time he's going to have now that you're not letting him murder people right and left."

"You have my attention."

"I thought I would. Tim -- don't do this again."

"I don't plan on it --"

"And *don't* let him fucking *turn* you -- no. I'm sorry. *Terribly* sorry. Don't let him make you think it's a good *fucking* idea to be a murderer."

"If you were listening --"

"Every word, Tim. Every word. Don't forget that I *know* you, Tim. *Better* than anyone else other than *Cass*, because we happen to have a great *deal* in common --"

"Oracle --"

"*Listen*. I know you, and I know a part of you would wallow in losing Dick and Steph like a pig wallows in *shit*. A part of you is just waiting to see the shock in their eyes as you explain all of those oh-so-*dark* thoughts you've been harboring for years so you can tell yourself that they never really loved *you* -- and thus it's *okay* to let them go."

"I don't *want* to let --"

"Tim. You want an excuse. *You* want to take over the world just a little -- and you're damned well looking for an excuse to do it. Bruce *told* me about his birthday present. Because I love him, I didn't ask him why he allowed you to believe that it wouldn't be you who broke. But then... I didn't have to, now did I?"

"I -- no," Tim says, and pinches the bridge of his nose. "No, you didn't. Oracle -- what do you want me to say?"

"You don't have to *say* anything --"

"Fine, what --"

"You're not actually capable of lying every minute of every day -- though I'll admit that you come closer than most. You're a manipulative, violent, and *mildly* sociopathic *asshole* when you let yourself off the leash... but the leash is part of you, too. The *leash* is the part of you which connects the asshole to the sweet, loving, lonely boy who didn't *have* to grow into the rest. And who still has a chance at life."

Tim takes a deep breath -- "I'll talk to Dick."

"Don't talk to him, Tim. *Be* *with* him. Let yourself have that --"

"Are you sure you're not just feeling a little *guilty*, Babs...?"

"Hnn. The more you bitch, the closer you get to pierced ears, gold jewelry, spanky pants and cleavage. Keep it up. I *dare* you."

Tim snorts helplessly -- "I -- okay, that was out of line. That was -- I'm sorry --"

"Yes, you actually *are* sorry -- and not just because I'm more than capable of having Bruce drug you, dress you in Helena's clothes, and take pictures. *Think* about that."

Tim closes his eyes and takes another breath --

And another --

"I will, Barbara. I -- I am."

"Good. It wasn't your fault that your father took you away from all of us for so long, and it wasn't *our* fault that you ordered us to *stay* away... but it was our fault for listening to you, and it was your fault for taking so long to fight back. We're fixing that now. *All* of it. All right?"

"All right, but --"

"But you don't want to get my hopes up? But you think there was more to the problem than just you being a trifle under-stimulated?" Barbara sighs. "Oh, Tim -- I know that. I really do. But anyone would've broken a little under those conditions --"

"All he did was *ground* me --"

"And you had been flying free for a damned long time. Or are you going to deny that?"

Tim -- rubs his temple. "No. I --"

"Don't fight me on this, Tim. You *care* about us --"

"Of course I do --"

"And you need us. Now more than *ever*. You're taking what you want and need in other ways... why not this one, too?"

"I can't. I'm not. I'm not allowed --"

"You are."

"It doesn't *work* that way --"

"It does."

"Barbara, *no* one gets to have everything they want!"

"Hnn. *Thank* you, Janet. Any other words of wisdom for me?"

Tim growls -- stops. "I'll try. With Dick and Steph, I mean. I'll... be some value of myself, and then I'll be a different sort of myself with Bruce, and still another with *Clark* --"

"Yes, it's such a *hardship* to offer yourself to the wonderful people who -- surprise! -- happen to love you. I'm a *termagant*."

And the urge to fight against that, to bitch *un*-attractively -- Tim laughs quietly. "I was -- it was too long."

"Oh, Tim. I'm so sorry --"

"Don't --"

"You can't do anything about the fact -- well. I can't speak for anyone else, but it never occurred to me that you would hurt this much without us --"

"I'm *human* -- oh."

This time, Barbara laughs without the scrambler.

"I -- you thought I'd be fine. That I'd... adapt?"

"You were matter-of-fact about ordering us to stay away from you. Recent events have made it oh-so-necessary to *study* that footage of you ordering Bruce and Dick to keep their distance, and there's absolutely no *there* there. Nothing to say that you wouldn't figure out a way back, or that you'd need help doing so, or that you'd need *anything*. I didn't forget you -- I couldn't -- but --"

"You thought... that I was finding my own way back?"


Tim nods -- is she monitoring? "You can see me?"

"And the way you're edging ever closer to your pet supervillain, yes."

"He's --"

"Your lover, yes. I picked that up," Barbara says, and the amusement in her voice... is itself.

"One moment," Tim says, and turns to look at Lex, to study him and the lines at the corners of his eyes, the lines at the corners of his mouth --

The *hard* line on his throat which speaks of all the times Lex has steepled his fingers and looked over them just so --

And Lex is waiting for him very, very patiently.

Tim lifts Lex's right hand and brings it to his cheek. He isn't *quite* pretending to scent-mark the thing like a cat. He enjoys a somewhat firm touch to his cheekbones, a somewhat --

Lex *presses* on his cheek --

And Tim moans quietly and shivers --

And gets pulled into another hug.

"You used to hug *me*," Barbara says.

"I used to feel as though I had the right to do so --"

"You do."

"I -- so noted," Tim says, and kisses a path from one side of Lex's collarbone to the other, then kisses his way back again, then --

Lex tugs Tim back by the hair -- and raises both of his eyebrows. "Distracting yourself, darling?"

"Ah -- did you feel especially used?"

Lex smiles --

Shows his teeth -- no. It *is* slightly more of a smile than a threat. Slightly. "Yes, you *do* feel used, and you like it. Yes?"

Lex nods slowly and obnoxiously.

Tim hums and *bites* Lex's collarbone before stepping back and touching his comm --

Because, right now, he can't touch Barbara.

"I was alone too long," Tim says, *owning* it --

"It *won't* happen again --"

"You can't promise that --"

"I absolutely can -- or Luthor can."

Tim opens his mouth --

Closes it again --

And stares at the back of Lex's head. He -- "Lex."


"Would you. Ah --"


"You don't know --"

"The answer," Lex says, and crosses his arms over his chest, "is yes. But you should feel free to elaborate on what you want. What do you need?"

Tim swallows around the *thing* strangling him --

And Lex turns to frown at him. "What did she say *now*?"

"Nothing -- bad. Lex. Clones."

"The way of the future. Though I've yet to have success without using a fair amount of Kryptonian DNA."

Tim frowns. "Are there --"

"Not conscious. Or even dreaming, really. They are... in stasis," Lex says, and smiles wryly. "Who would you like to clone?"


"You don't even *make* that sound!"

"I do *sometimes*! How is your work with whole-personality engrams?"

"Rudimentary, at best," and Lex waves a hand in a way that takes in a very *particular* part of the world within his ownership. "Do you have ideas?"

"I -- no. Not yet."

"Another point of interest? *Who* do you --"

"I can't be alone. I -- that's -- that is what it is, Lex, and I know it's rather problematic, but --"

"You need insurance."

"That sounds --"

"Like what it is. Yes?" And Lex smiles and closes the distance between them before cupping Tim's chin. "You'll have it. I promise you."

"Told you so."

Tim -- blushes.

And Lex strokes his cheeks. "You're allowed to need things, darling. Even things which embarrass you."

"Perhaps -- *just* perhaps -- especially those."

That --

Tim strokes the comm lightly enough to keep from toggling it --

And Lex raises his eyebrows again.

"I -- need to think. About... things," Tim finishes, and wonders if the lameness of that could possibly be forgotten due to the spectacular nature of his *entry* --


"Oracle, I'll see you tomorrow, barring -- et cetera."

"I'll be waiting with bated breath. Oracle out."

"Lex -- "


"I'm going to call you as soon as I get a free moment away from Bruce and my parents --"

"Your parents think you're visiting Ives. Clark did a wonderfully disturbing impression of you over the phone." Barbara says.

Tim blinks. "I was planning --"

"To leave them hanging out of a frustrated sense of injustice, yes. This is better."

Well. "Didn't you say --"

"Tim. I haven't slept in a day because of you. I'm not missing one *second* now that it's time for the denouement."

"Hm. Noted. Erstwhile-Robin --"

"You haven't stopped being Robin."


"You really haven't. You didn't see yourself molesting your R-shuriken while you were waiting for those mercenaries to get blown up."

Tim -- licks his lips. "I see."

"Hnn. Kiss him goodbye."

Tim laughs. "Any requests?"

"One sec -- Dinah says you should, and I'm quoting, make him 'really fucking *claim*' you."

"Noted. Robin out," Tim says, and reaches up to wrap his arms around Lex's neck. "Black Canary wants to see you 'claim' me."

"The fucking wasn't good enough for her?"

"I'm not asking."

Lex cocks his head to the side. "Are you blowing me off...?"

Tim blinks --

Considers --


"You had to think about it?"

"Yes, because Oracle has pointed out that my motivations and emotional life are not as transparent to me as they could be -- but mostly I had to think about what I could have said to give you that impression."

"You --"

"I'm sorry," Tim says, pushing up on his toes to kiss Lex's jawline. "I've been told -- repeatedly -- that I do absolutely nothing involving human emotion correctly."

"What do you do when you're happy?"

"I -- hm."

"Forget that question. What do you do when you're -- well, no, I already know what you do when you're bored. What do you do when you're sad?"

"Push through."

"Push -- remind me to give you to Mercy for remedial emotional training once you're in your twenties."


"It's done *wonders* for Hope. Tell me how to make you happy."

"I -- I believe I'm happy now. Though I'm also moderately frustrated, somewhat stressed in terms of my schedule -- *hnh* --"

Hand in his hair --

Hand on his *throat* --

And this kiss is going to bruise him. This kiss is going to --

This kiss speaks more of *colonization* than sex --

This kiss involves Lex *staring* at him, into him --

Tim groans and lets himself relax, go *limp* --

Get shoved against a *wall* --

And Lex's knee is *blunt* pressure on his jock, Lex's hand is heat for his chin and *tease* for his gorget-protected throat --

Lex pulls back --

"*No* --"

"Say 'please'."

"Please --"

"Say it *again*."

"*Please*, Lex --"

"Say --"

"*Kiss* me!"

Lex growls and does it, fucking Tim's mouth with his tongue --

Cupping Tim's face --

Biting Tim's *lips* --

And then he pulls back again -- and holds up a hand when Tim tries to follow.

"Lex --"

"Always leave them wanting *more*, darling. Now. Get out."

Tim narrows his eyes.

Lex smiles *sharply*.

Really. Tim shows his teeth -- and gums down his mask, flipping to the white-out lenses and deliberately glaring just to the *left* of Lex's gaze.

Lex's smile... slips.

Just a little. "Until later. Darling." And Tim walks out onto the balcony, using a bit of spirit gum to attach the short, carefully anonymous love note to the railing.

Clark stares at it with *thunderous* disapproval.

Tim raises his arms. "Take me to my *other* lover, Clark. Please."

Clark lifts him --

Wraps him --

"I *ought* to take you to the *woodshed*."

"I'd enjoy it too much."

<<Dark one, there will come a day when my patience frays to nothing.>>

Tim hums and wriggles *just* a bit --

"*Tim* --"

<<I am made full and ripe each day at dawn... you-who-are-most-high.>>

Clark *grunts* --

And then Tim is standing in the Cave in front of Bruce --

And Clark is gone. Hm.

Bruce frowns at the exit Clark takes most often --

"You were expecting him to stay?"

"We... were in the middle of a conversation," Bruce says, and pushes back the cowl. "About you."

"I'd like --" Tim shakes his head. "Where's Steph?"

"She's patrolling in Blüdhaven with Nightwing and Batgirl."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "You need me."

Bruce smiles and it looks painful, too *painful* --

Tim closes his eyes behind the mask --

Tim flips the lenses up and sits on the console, crossing his legs at the ankle. "I'm divorcing my parents. You're going to hire me."

"Anything you wish."


Bruce nods, and doesn't take his gaze away from Tim's own, doesn't *blink* --

"I'm going to be explaining the facts of life to my parents. I -- I'm not going to live here. Not yet."

"I -- you know what I wish."

Tim smiles ruefully. "It won't be long until I'm eighteen. Let's try to survive that long."

Bruce nods once.

And blinks once.

And stares --

"Ask me -- all of your questions."

Bruce smiles, and this one is a little better. A little *lighter*.

"I love you."

"You are... do you love him?"


"Will you keep him?"

"Until he gives me reason to let him go."

"Are you giving him a clean slate?"

Tim closes his eyes again and takes a deep breath. Then he opens them again. "Not quite. He's giving -- I've taken veto power for all of his projects."
Bruce raises an eyebrow.

"I confess... I'm looking forward to the arguments."

This time, Bruce's smile is purely nostalgic.

"I see that that isn't a particularly strange desire...?"

Bruce breathes deeply and closes the distance between them, reaching out -- and pausing.


Bruce nods and tugs off his gauntlet, caressing Tim's cheek with his knuckles --

His scarred and *frightening* knuckles --

Tim turns enough to lick between them, to kiss and suck --

"We never argued. But I've dreamed of it."


"Of course," and Bruce drags his wet knuckles over Tim's mouth -- and to Tim's other cheek. "He's a passionate man."

"So are you."

"But I can be controlled."

"So can he."

"Tell me... something, Tim." But Bruce only looks at him as if the question had already been spoken some time when Tim hadn't been paying attention.

It's not a difficult question to figure out. "I love you."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. Though... I knew less about my needs and motivations than I'd thought I did."

Bruce smiles -- nearly -- like Brucie and raises one perfect eyebrow. "Then how can you be sure now?"

"Because I need you, Daddy."

Bruce narrows his eyes. "Tim."

"I'll need you --" Tim swallows and shakes his head. "I'll need you until I die. I'll need you to give me what I never had before you, and I'll need to give it *back*. Even though I'm not as good at that --"

"Stop. Please."

Tim frowns and closes his eyes again --

And Bruce kisses Tim's forehead.

"Oh -- Dad --"

"Son. All that I have -- all that I *am* -- is yours."

Tim shivers and opens his eyes again --

*Searches* Bruce's eyes --

"Tell me what you need from me, Daddy. Tell me --"

"You'd like for me to give you... some task to perform. Something tangible with which you can prove your love."

"Well... yes? I take it that's less than optimal."

Bruce cups Tim's face and presses his thumb to Tim's lips. "It's less than optimal for me. With me. There is no task of that sort I can give you."

"I -- don't want you to regret -- I mean, I know I can't ask for that. I'm not a complete *idiot* --"

"No, you are not. And I don't regret anything about the past four months -- no. There is one thing."

"Tell me."

"I forgot to warn you about the volatility the explosive in your pellets develops over time."

Tim blinks. "I thought I'd *overpacked* the things."

"Yes, I gathered. You did not."

Tim nods thoughtfully. "I could blow sky high at any moment now, couldn't I."

"Are your pellets in the lead-lined pocket?"


"Did you replace the cushioning inside the lead?"


Bruce hums and -- very obviously -- considers.

Tim looks around for the nearest cliff to drop his belt over --

"Let's discard your belt."

"Good idea."

They do so, choosing the chasm that's about a half-mile deep instead of any of the nearer ones, because this one has running water and natural 'buffers' for any --


"*Tim*. Are you --"

"I'm good. I -- bleh. Bit my tongue, though."

Bruce strokes Tim's back through the armor -- it isn't at all a surprise that Bruce had managed to toss them out of range *and* cover Tim. "Are you injured anywhere else?"

"I don't seem to be, no. You?"

"I seem to have a cut on the back of my head."

"Let's go check it out," Tim says, standing and offering Bruce his hand.

Bruce is covered in dust and bleeding somewhat *profusely* -- but head wounds do that. It only takes three stitches and a bit of tape to take care of the problem. And --

Tim hums. "I'm glad I took the pellets out of my finger before coming back --"

Bruce looks at him. Loudly. And --

It's the sort of look which speaks of being *clutched*.


And shaken. "Bruce, I *had* to have an ace in the hole --"


"You *taught* me --"

Bruce closes his eyes. "I wish... I wish I had given myself more time with you when you were younger."

Well... that *is* a useful subject change. Tim smiles and hops up on the gurney to sit next to Bruce. "Lex seems to think I needed physics journals and hugs at that age. What are your thoughts?"

Bruce hums again and leans in to kiss Tim softly, so --

"Harder, please --"

"Shall I... devour you?"

Tim leans in for a nuzzle, a *scrape* of stubble --


"My lips are sore. Don't make them any more so... but."

"As you say," and Bruce kisses him firmly and carefully --

Firmly and *wetly* --

Tim moans and goes down on Bruce's tongue for... a little while.

And then a little while longer than *that*, because the feel is both slick and sleek, and it doesn't make him numb so much as... sensitized.

Eventually, Bruce cups Tim's thigh and *squeezes* -- and it's a message. Tim pulls back and smiles ruefully. "I'm sorry --"

"Don't be. Never for that."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Bruce hums and *scratches* Tim's thigh --

Tim *grunts* --

"That... is precisely how I feel at the moment."

"Perhaps the crime will fight itself for a little while...?"

"I've often wondered if that would, perhaps, *explain* Metropolis."

Tim grins and twines his fingers with Bruce's own. "I passed a knocked-over garbage can on the way to Lex's tower."

"Oh, yes?"

"A group of teenagers was cleaning up the mess."

Bruce coughs.

"One of them had a broom and dustpan."


"While they were working, an elderly woman with an equally elderly dog came walking along."

"I don't think I can hear this, Tim --"

"Oh, I think you must. They swept a path for her, Bruce. And then? They smiled at her. And *then*? They wished her a good evening."

Bruce groans faintly and pinches the bridge of his nose with his gauntleted hand. "They're not human in that city, Tim."

Tim hums and kicks his legs. "Not even remotely. What do you think my toddler self needed, Bruce? I really do want to know."

"Ah. To be honest, I had been thinking of your thirteen-year-old self. The boy who watched Sherlock Holmes films with me and spent quiet hours reorganizing my files until they could never frustrate me again."

"I -- oh. Do you miss him?"

"I miss... the spaces he inhabited. I miss the chance the two of us had to become something..." Bruce makes a gesture reminiscent of plucking a fruit from a tree --

And then a gesture reminiscent of an explosion, or perhaps a scattering. It -- "You've been spending time with Cassandra."

"Yes. I... sometimes I believe I could have been a better relationship choice for that boy than I am for you."

Tim squeezes Bruce's hand. "That boy didn't know you."

"But --"

"That boy... he would've changed when he *came* to know you. Because he would've wanted, more than anything else, to be who you *needed*."

Bruce smiles somewhat privately -- but when he turns it on Tim, it's not private, at all. It's inviting, and *darkly* so. It --

"Bruce, when you look at me like that..."


"Hn. Drag me to the next gala event."

"That expression makes you want to drink champagne and lie to socialites?"

"That *expression* makes me want to drink champagne to cut the scent of semen on my breath and lie to socialites about why I have mussed hair, swollen lips, and cloakroom dust on my knees."


"Yes, Bruce?"

"You and Jason really would have gotten along wonderfully."

Tim laughs quietly. "I could *murder* you for deleting *that* footage, Bruce."

"The feeling is mutual, truly, but -- I did not have you to speak sense to me then."

Tim squeezes Bruce's hand again. "Is it... do you think we could speak about Jason? More than we do, I mean."

"I... want to. I don't know if I can."

"Then --"

"Ask, Tim. Ask every question... but, perhaps, be gentle if and when I cannot answer," and Bruce brings Tim's hand to his mouth and kisses Tim's knuckles one at a time.

Tim breathes a sigh. "All right, Bruce. Thank you."

"Don't --" Bruce shakes his head. "One question, Tim. One more."


"How confident are you about Lex?"

"The part of me which has belonged to you since I *was* thirteen believes wholly in his change of heart. The rest of me is hoping for the best... and keeping my belt stocked."

Bruce -- looks wounded.

"Bruce --"

"No, Tim. It's only... it's a familiar pain to wonder what I might have done -- or said, or *thought* -- had I been less callow as a young man," Bruce says, twisting his hand free and caressing Tim's cheek again. "Mistakes you will never make."

"*Bruce* --"

"My love. You may have everything of me save my approbation."

Tim -- makes a face.

Bruce laughs and stands. "You'll note that even... Lex fell victim to the urge to extoll your many fine qualities."

"You know, this is *why* my fantasies about Clark are all so objectively terrible. If you keep this up, I'm going to make you whip me with one of *Matches'* belts."

Bruce raises an eyebrow.

Tim raises one of his own.

"Hm. I love you truly, madly, and deeply...?"

"No, that's fine."

"I love you so much it aches within me, and makes my soul toll like a cracked bell --"

"Oh my *God* -- disguise closet. *Now*."

"Crime. Now."

Tim scowls as blackly as he can -- and jumps down from the gurney and pulls on his gauntlets.

"Your hair?"

"Wild and free tonight. I'm considering a new style," Tim says, and heads for the cars.

"Do share your thoughts."

"I will."


"Yes, Bruce?"

"I was frightened to the core of my being when I realized that there was nothing Jason could do, no crime he could commit, that would make me stop loving him."

"Oh -- Bruce --"

"I don't know if I *am* a braver man now," and Bruce cups the back of Tim's neck with his gauntleted hand. "However, I do know, with all of myself, that you will live in me long after you have left me for another --"

"I'm not going to *leave* you --"


"I'm *not* --"


"*What*?" And Tim steps in front of Bruce and turns to glare at him.

Bruce smiles gently. "I know only one way to love, Tim. That's all."

Tim blinks and rears back -- but, ultimately, he isn't surprised.

Not as much as he could be.

Tim shakes his head and pushes up on his toes to kiss Bruce's stubbled cheek. "Batman."


"*Direct* me."

Batman's smile is broad and sharp and *wet* -- "Yes."