A wondrous mirror
by Te
May 20, 2008

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: References to older storylines. Veers AU after The Killing Joke.

Summary: Tim moves, Jason loves, Bruce fails, and excellent cocoa is consumed.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which doesn't really have anything at all to do with the content some readers may find to be disturbing. Additionally, this is probably one of the most sugary things I've written in my life. If tooth decay is a worry for you, you just might want to give this a pass.

Author's Note: AU-ish sequel to "All the things of the world." I played around with the timeline, a little. This one still won't make much sense without the other.

Acknowledgments: Much love to Pixie, Mildred, and Jack, all of whom helped to make this much better than it would've been.


The kid who steps out of the back of the Rolls --

The kid who's thanking Alfred and being gently pushed toward the door, toward Jason --

The thing is -- the kid looks, of course, exactly like the pictures in Bruce's file. Tim Drake, and the fact that the file has been there for nearly as long as there's been a new Batgirl --

It would've been cheating to look before. He wanted BG to *tell* him her name, to maybe whisper it against his mouth in the seconds before a kiss, a grope -- something.

But that was before Tim Drake's parents died, before *this* --

Batgirl is moving in.

Batgirl is --

Tim Drake is moving toward Jason, head down and strong-looking hand (small, though -- the gauntlets make them look bigger) wrapped around the handle of one medium-sized suitcase. And --

"You gotta have more stuff than *that*," Jason blurts, and kind of has to hate himself for it, because Tim freezes up right there, freezes without *looking* up, and -- hell.

Jason jogs down the steps and reaches for the bag --

Tim pulls it back, twisting just *so* -- oh. "BG..."

*That* makes Tim look up, and it's hard not to wince. There are deep, dark hollows under his -- her. Her eyes are terrible, and the simple, severe buzz cut is making them look even worse. But they *are* blue, a lighter and greyer blue than Batgirl's, and -- she's just looking at him. Waiting.

"Hey," Jason says, and strokes Tim's forearm where the spikes aren't, right now. He's never gotten to touch her there, or anywhere *skin* other than her face. It's impossible to tell if the hair feels strange or not, if it's what he'd expected...

Alfred is pulling around to the garage. Tim is *watching*.

"I want to say something about how it's going to be all right, but I -- really do know that's stupid," and he strokes down to that small hand and taps. "Let me?"

Tim colors for that, or maybe for... he still doesn't have a real handle on what makes BG blush, and he has no idea if they're the same things which make *Tim* do it.

"C'mon, it'll make me feel like I'm doing something useful."

Tim looks down again, mouth twisting dangerously *hard* for a moment, just --

Would the Drakes still be alive if Bruce had brought Jason *with* him to Haiti? If Bruce had found out sooner? Jason shakes it off as best he can. "Please, BG --"

"You. You don't have to call me that," Tim says, and her voice is flat and a little... not dead, not that, but -- missing something.

It makes Jason want to chase her somewhere, want to make her move, feel something other than the black fucking pit that has to be eating her alive, right now -- "Would you... you never told me your name," Jason tries, smiling a little.

"You know it," she says, and shakes her head. "I can't. I -- can't," and when she looks up, there's a plea in her eyes, and Jason doesn't want to chase her anywhere he can't *catch*.

Jason squeezes her wrist. "Say my name. Please?"

"Jason," and it's more of a sob than anything else, and Tim looks unsteady, *hurt* --

Jason pulls her into a hug, and a part of him is only cataloguing the feel, the lean hardness of the body against his own, the lack of armor, the warmth -- the rest of him is leaning in, just a little. "Tim..."

Tim's breath hitches in just the wrong way, but this -- this is something Jason wants, too.

"I'll call you whatever you want, whenever you want it."

He hears the suitcase hit the steps and fall over, and he waits, *wants* --

And Tim wraps her arms around him and holds on tight, strong like Batgirl always has to be. When she starts crying, it's quiet and rough, like maybe it's physically painful in addition to everything else. Maybe it has to be.

Jason strokes her back and listens to the wind in the trees.


He's not going to stalk her or anything like that. It's enough to know that she probably won't be diving out the windows of her bedroom to get away, that she has nowhere to --

Nowhere else to go, maybe, and *that* makes him feel more than a little sick to his stomach, makes him remember those last few days with his mother, and the days after that, after he'd slipped away from the overworked social workers and everyone else and gone right back to the streets.

No one, as far as he can tell, had come looking for him.

The streets weren't a *home* or anything like that, but he knew them well enough, how to hustle and how to *hustle*, because his mother hadn't been able to do anything once the sickness got her bad, and his father had been gone for a while, and because -- because.

The *point* is, Jason knows where Tim is, and her door is closed -- not even a little bit open, not even a crack -- and... yeah.

Jason rests his hand against the door -- three away from his own, five away from Bruce's -- and then gets himself moving again. If she needs anything --

What had he needed? Really... to be away from the people who didn't know enough to really care, to have someplace safe and warm, something to eat... to know how to get through to the other *side* of everything eating him up and spitting him out to bleed on the fucking pavement.

Jason frowns and catches himself trying to will Tim to open the door, to make some kind of sound loud enough to hear, *something* --

And then he heads down to train.

The thing is --

The thing is, Tim could've moved in with Babs. Maybe that's even what she wanted, to be with the first Batgirl, Oracle -- the woman who'd trained her and helped her become who she was. Jason's not sure why she hadn't, and he's not all that sure how Bruce had finagled things to get her here, beyond the whole 'Bruce Wayne never met an orphan he didn't want to help' thing that the press eats up with a fucking spoon.

Had he gone to her as Batman? Showed up at that townhouse to apologize for fucking up and offer, promise...

("You'll always have a home, Jason.")

He could ask.

Bruce is right there at the monitors, working on something that looks like one of the ever-changing, ever-edited maps of the city that take in things like gang activity and construction projects... had he watched Tim's arrival?

And Bruce tenses up a little, the way he always does when Jason watches him a little too long --

Jason clears his throat and tries to figure out if he *wants* to have this conversation with Bruce, if --

"Jay...?" He turns around in his chair and he looks about as open as he ever gets, like maybe he's a little messed up and worried, too --

Feeling guilty about the Drakes? That -- maybe it's fucked up, but that's easier. "What -- what happened with the Drakes, Bruce?"

Bruce frowns -- it seems to take all of him, including everything *behind* his face -- and nods. "I took down the targets, but neglected to --" Bruce sighs. "I never imagined the Obeah Man would poison the water he was torturing them with. They were both dehydrated, desperate..." Bruce sighs. "If I'd spent more time studying the man's modus operandi, perhaps... perhaps."

"Had he... had he kidnapped others?"

"For intimidation purposes, not for ransom. He was looking to... branch out. And I don't think you're asking me what you'd like to," Bruce says, and his voice is gentle for everything but himself.

Because Bruce is Bruce. Jason scrubs a hand through his hair and looks around the Cave a little, tries to imagine Tim here training, changing, *being* -- "Why not... why isn't Tim staying with Babs?"

Bruce -- blinks. It's not too fast or anything like that, but Jason can still tell that the question had thrown him a little bit. He stands and moves closer, hands on Jason's shoulders -- "Did you not want... is it all right that Tim's here, Jay? For you?"

His turn to blink, and kind of do it a *lot*, because -- "What -- no, that's not -- it's *fine* with me, Bruce, better than fine," Jason says, and reaches up to cover Bruce's hands with his own. "I just thought... maybe she'd prefer staying with Babs?"

Bruce's eyebrow goes up a little -- Jason would bet it was for that 'she,' because it's not like he and Bruce had ever actually *talked* about Batgirl, and who she really was, but --

Not now. Really not now. "I mean, if this is going to be..." Jason shakes his head. "I don't want it to be any harder for her than it has to be."

"No, of course not. I... I talked to Barbara about it, and she expressed some concerns about her home, and how it wasn't really set up for more than one person -- or for inspections from the Division of Youth and Family Services. She also felt -- and I believe she expressed this to Tim -- that spending time with *you* would be the best possible thing for -- for Tim."

Did that mean Tim talked to Babs about him? What did she say? What did Babs *think* about their relationship, other than liking it well enough to trust it for *this*?

Jason nods and moves away from Bruce, trying to put it all together in his head, trying to focus on more than the weird *pull* in his chest that wants him to know *exactly* where he'd left Tim, where she is right now, maybe needing -- something.

"I just -- I guess. We both know how much she's hurting, right now," Jason says, giving up and looking back toward the stairs.

Bruce cups Jason's shoulders again and squeezes before letting go. "I don't think you should worry about not being exactly what Tim needs, Jason. The fact that you're here for her, that you are yourself --"

"I'm just a kid, Bruce --"

"You have never been 'just a kid,' Jason," and Bruce's tone is low and almost lecturing.

Jason waves him off. "You'll help me? I know Alfred will do his best and everything, but -- you'll help me out with this, help me give her what she needs?"

And when he turns back to Bruce, he gets a nod, solid and promising. It's not enough against the pull he feels, but it's something. Enough to let him hit the weights for a while, anyway.


There's another place set at the table for dinner, and that kind of slams things home more than anything else has up until this moment. It's across from Jason's own, on Bruce's other side, and -- he's going to be *eating* with her, watching her mouth move, her eyes close with pleasure at whatever ridiculously incredible thing Alfred prepares...

Probably not for a while. It's all going to taste like *ashes* for a while, but still -- *still*.

And he's watching that place so hard that he barely notices when Alfred sets Jason's food in front of him, and -- Tim's not actually *here*.

Jason looks up and catches Alfred's eye --

"I'm afraid young Timothy feels unwell this evening, Master Jason. I'm preparing a light meal she can take in her bedroom."

The disappointment is so strong he can't *think* for a minute, but -- Jesus, of course it's too much to ask right now. Of course it is. He should've *thought* --

Bruce rests a hand on Jason's own --

"Alfred, perhaps Jason could bring the tray up himself."

Oh -- yeah. Really -- Jason pulls on a smile. "I promise I won't drop it all over the carpets, Al --"

Alfred nods. "Very good. I'll have the tray waiting for you in the kitchen," he says, and turns to leave.

Jason takes a breath and wonders what's wrong with him -- no, he knows. Nothing is going to feel the way it should, feel *right*, until he knows that BG is... okay. Or close to it.

Before, he could always relax a little, figure somewhere in the back of his mind that if anything was *really* wrong that Babs would take care of it. Now it's up to *them* --

It would still feel like it was up to *him* even if she *was* living with Babs now, because this is just too big. Too much for any of them to handle on their own, and that...

Well, that's always been kind of the point, hasn't it? Bruce had Alfred when he was falling apart, and Dick had Bruce and Alfred, and he's had all kinds of people -- even if he didn't have them right at the time he needed... everything he needed. And --

"You should eat, as well, Jason," and Bruce squeezes Jason's wrist lightly.

Jason blinks and shakes himself out of it a little. "Yeah, I -- sorry," Jason says and twists his wrist free absently. "Just thinking about... things." He looks up, and Bruce is smiling ruefully and generally looking like he'd heard a million things Jason hadn't said or even thought at the top of his mind. He's Bruce, and he does that. Jason smiles back and focuses on his food.

"I know how much Tim means to you. And I think -- I think Tim will know that, too, if she doesn't already."

That would be... he needs that. Jason nods and keeps eating -- just slow enough to avoid getting any pursed-up looks from Alfred.

And Alfred just nods at him when he walks into the kitchen, and the tray is right there... he goes.

The door is still mostly closed when he gets up there, but someone -- probably Alfred -- had left it open just a little bit, which will make things easier. Jason uses the tray to knock gently --

"Come in."

That flat voice, but -- at least it's an invitation. Jason pushes in and stops in the doorway. Tim is sitting in a chair and staring down at the little matching table -- vanity. Alfred had picked this room because it was decorated for a woman. It must have been empty since Bruce's parents were alive, and a part of Jason's brain is wondering about them, if they'd imagined having a daughter to be Bruce's sister...

What would that have been like?

Jason shakes it off and clears his throat a little --

And Tim tenses all over and looks up into the mirror. Her eyes are wide and she's pale as *hell*, and generally looks like she needs to eat everything on this tray, whatever it turns out to be.

"I brought you... well," Jason says, lifting the tray a little higher and generally feeling like an idiot.

"I was expecting -- don't you have to go get ready for patrol?"

It's such a huge relief to hear her tone change -- even if it's just for a question -- that Jason has to blow out a breath. "Not right away. I -- you know I go out on my own, sometimes."

Tim blinks like it's something she's forgotten, and... damn. Just --

"Look, Tim, I..." Jason shakes his head and sets the tray on the big, canopied bed. "I don't have to stay, but I'd really... you shouldn't be alone."

"I don't need..." Tim's mouth twists hard, just like on the steps -- "God, I'm at a *vanity*, and you're --" Tim pushes up to her feet roughly and it looks... strange.

Like she's pulling on a skin that doesn't really belong to her, or... something. Jason shrugs. "It's a nice vanity. Didn't you have one at home?"

Tim's eyebrows go up and she smoothes her hands down her hips -- stops and crosses her arms over her chest --

And Jason realizes that Tim is trying really, really hard to look anything but girly, which is the craziest thing he's ever seen her do, and that includes every time he's seen her flip backwards off a rooftop without doing more than taking things in with a glance. "Tim, what -- you don't have to pretend for me."

"Pretend? I -- I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not doing anything."

"Tim --"

"Look, I -- I'll eat. You don't have to stay here, right now. I'm fine. I'll be fine."

It feels a little like being punched, only BG has never hit him that hard, even when she *really* wanted him to back off. Jason frowns and reaches out --

Tim takes a step back -- and knocks into the vanity. And blushes, and all of a sudden the crossed arms look a lot more like Tim is hugging herself.

"Tim, seriously, you -- you can *talk* to me --"

"I don't. Want to talk."

"Or we could just sit together, and you could --" He's hit -- *hard* -- by the memory of BG in his arms, tense with nothing but how *hot* Jason was making her, kissing him just as hard as he was kissing her, moaning --

No, not now. Not even *close* to now. Jason takes a deep breath and raises his hands in surrender, taking a step closer and trying to will her to meet his eyes.

Her lips are thinner than they look with the makeup on -- still no. "BG..."

Tim's eyes, when they meet Jason's own... they're almost *panicked*, but she's looking at him, *seeing* him even though she's shaking her head, shifting back into a wide-legged stance that probably fools all kinds of people, but just looks wrong to his eyes.

"Tim --"

"Jason. Please."

Close, now. Close enough to touch, close enough to smell her -- no trace of the light perfume Batgirl always wears, no hint of her sweat -- Jason doesn't touch. "I'll go if you want me to. I -- I promise. The *last* thing I want to do is make anything harder on you, but -- that's just it. You don't have to be anyone but yourself, here, and I want... God, I want to see you so *badly*, BG --"

"I'm not -- I'm not always that. You shouldn't think --" Tim bites her lip and closes her eyes, tilting her head up and back for just a moment -- she's incredibly tense, and Jason knows what that feels like, too --

"I know you're Tim, too. But I -- you've had to lie a lot?"

Nothing for a long moment, long enough that the air starts feeling thick, hard to *breathe* --

"Tim --"

"Yes. Yes, I've --" Tim's laugh is rough and cracked, and she doesn't open her eyes. "There've been... a lot of lies. To. To my --" She bites her lip *hard* this time, and it's all Jason can do not to reach out, try to *soothe* --

"I get it. I -- I think I get it."

"Jason --"

"Just -- please don't ever stop saying my name, BG, Tim..."

A harsh breath, and Tim opens her eyes again, seems to almost *search* him, beg him for something --

And Jason wants to promise her anything, wants to -- "You don't know... you've done so much for me, Tim. You've been there, been *you* when I've been so fucked up in my head I couldn't even *think* --"

"I -- I haven't --"

"You *have*," and Jason can't -- he cups her shoulders and squeezes lightly, *lightly* -- "You have, okay? You mean so much to me, and I can't stand to see you *hurting* like this. I know -- you have to hurt right now, there's no way around that, but -- *please*, Tim. You don't have to do it *alone*."

"And I don't. Have to lie."

Jason shakes his head and just -- wills her to believe, *needs* her to believe --

"I don't. What happens if I'm not sure... if I don't know how not to lie in --" And she takes another shaky breath and unfolds her arms... gestures at herself. The jeans, the t-shirt -- does she really like that band?

No jewelry, nothing... nothing sleek, nothing *pretty* -- if that's even what she means. Jason smiles a little cautiously, watches her look at his mouth, maybe remember how his teeth felt against her lip --

Maybe something.

Maybe -- anything. "I get one fuck of an allowance here, BG. We can go *shopping*."

And she blinks at him rapidly, lashes dark and thick even without the makeup, eyes that jarringly *sharp* blue that Jason wants to spend a long damned time getting to *know* --

"I bet... I bet Alfred already has *plans*, Tim --"

"I can't. I can't just --"

"You can do anything you want. I -- I promise. It's what I want for you, for both of us --"

"Us. I. Jason..." And Tim's looking at his mouth again, looking shocky and looking -- *here*, right fucking here, where she belongs.

Jason squeezes her shoulders a little harder, lets his thumbs brush her neck -- warm skin where the cowl would be protecting her, thudding pulse -- "Hey..."

Tim closes her eyes and relaxes, all over, and that does *not* mean lean in and kiss, lean in and *feel*, but it's taking so much not to that Jason thinks he might lose some important parts of his mind.

"Tim..." His voice is too low for this, too --

"I -- I should eat," Tim says, opening her eyes and visibly pulling on something like a bright, brittle *skin* over her real one. Another one, and maybe this one's better than the other, but --

Jason winces -- and watches the skin start to crack. "Food -- yeah. Food is good," Jason says, letting himself cup the back of her neck for just long enough to tug before letting go and backing off.

Tim nods and walks to the bed. Her body language isn't *perfect*, but it still looks one hell of a lot more natural than it had before, like the real Tim is in the tiny and half-absent sway of those lean hips, those loose but *controlled* strides. She sits at the foot and opens the tray --

Soup, sandwich, and a salad, and the way Tim is looking at it makes Jason think she might not make it through more than *just* the salad -- and yeah, that's what she reaches for. He should... do something. The door is yawning open behind him like a particularly unsubtle *hint*, but -- he's the one who'd left it that way. "Um. Did you... should I go?"

Tim pauses with a forkful of cucumber -- and looks down at her lap. "I. You have. Work to do. I'm not. I'm not fit to go out."

Jason drops into a crouch and just -- covers one knee with his palm. Lightly. "You really aren't right now, no, and I *will* be heading out later, but there's no rush --"

"You don't -- you really don't have to watch me eat, Jason --"

"And if I want to?" Jason smiles again and lets it stay on his face until Tim looks at him again --


It makes him want to shiver, want to lunge up for her, kiss her throat until she sounds like she sounds when he's kissing her and in his dreams --

So many *dreams* --

"Right here, BG. And --" Jason snags a grape tomato from the salad and pops it in his mouth. "I'm *always* hungry."

The laugh is quiet and brief, but it's there, and it's for him, and the way she's looking into Jason's eyes --

"You could look at me like that all day and I'd be fucking thrilled."

She raises an eyebrow --

Jason raises his own --

"I -- noted," she says, and eats the cucumber.


It's not the first patrol he's spent with the sound of BG's laughter running through the back of his mind, running *him* and making him feel like the best and baddest thing on the fucking *block* --

The one not going by *Batman*, anyway --

It's not the first time, but it feels that way, because it's the first time he knows she'll be right there when he gets home. It almost makes it okay that he *knows* he won't meet her out here tonight, that he won't swing around a corner just in time to see a bright yellow boot slamming into the face of someone having a *real* bad night --

Yeah. He's about as focused as he always is, and he can see it in the way Bruce is relaxed around him when they hook up, the way they hit every mark and *do* it.

It's the way it has to be, because he damned well *is* going home tonight, and he's *not* going to get himself too fucked up to be right there for her. No playing around.

And the time passes the way it always does, slow enough to drive him a little crazy, fast enough to make him feel breathless and a little lost in the big, dirty, living *thing* that's Gotham, that's the suit he wears.

It's late when Bruce signals him for a stop, and Jason follows him to a rooftop near what, he knows, *used* to be the center of the town that was Gotham hundreds of years ago. Not far from --

"Oracle mentioned that she wanted to see you tonight, Robin," Bruce says, and cups Jason's shoulder.

It's a little like -- he wants to go home as fast as he *can*, because he'd gotten Tim to eat the salad, the soup, *and* half of the sandwich, and he could probably get her to eat a little ice cream or something with the night's cocoa, too --

"I don't expect that she'll want to keep you for very long."

And Jason -- snorts. "Okay, so my poker face is kind of nonexistent, hunh?"

Bruce's smile tugs at the corner of his mouth just a little more than what belongs on the street.

"Got it. I'll head there now and grab one of my bikes from the garage to get home...?"

Bruce nods and squeezes Jason's shoulder. "I'll see you there," he says, and strokes Jason's shoulder a little before nodding and leaping off the edge of the roof.

Babs wants to see him. Okay. Probably she could give him some pointers, and -- and whatever. He won't *let* her keep him long.

Except --

When he gets to the Clocktower, he realizes that it's actually been *months* since the last time he'd seen her face anywhere other than a monitor, that he hasn't been *here*...

He hasn't been here in a long, long time. And it's not like he's a mystery to himself or anything. The Clocktower is a lot like stepping into her *brain*, and it's always -- *always* -- a reminder of how much he just hadn't gotten to know her before the fucking Joker had taken her away from all of them, and it's a reminder that he *had*.

Even though she'd found her way back, fought and *clawed* her way back --

He wonders how often Dick makes it here. Dick has so many memories of her as Batgirl... he doesn't know, and he really has to suck it the fuck up. The fact that he'd spent months having nightmares about the hole in her back, the fact that the nightmares didn't really *stick* to the times when he was in bed, asleep --

He spent a lot of time angry and scared and *more* angry, all twisted up in his own head about this whole fucking *life*, thinking maybe it didn't really matter what Batman and Robin did if freaks and fuck-ups like the Joker could just walk up to the door of one of the best people -- one of the best *families* in the city and shit all over everything --

"If you spend too much more time lurking outside my window, Robin, there'll be a certain loss of plausible deniability."

Babs' voice -- not Oracle's -- in his ear. Right. He is just kind of -- lurking's definitely the word for it. Jason shakes it off and pushes in, reflexively resetting the manual alarms he knows she tends to leave off in favor of her *other* alarms, and --

Babs is right there in her little living room. The place is cluttered with books -- she's clearing one of her shelves.

"Moving things around?"

"Thinking about it. Just -- just in case," she says, and wheels around to face him. "It's good to see you, Jay."

"Back at you," Jason says, smiling and moving further in, sitting on the couch. It's one of the extra long ones, like maybe for someone like Dick to crash on if he ever came by... he doesn't know. *This* part of Barbara's place is just like any other home, if you don't think about all the hidden cameras, alarms -- probably traps, too. Or even if you *do* think about them, because Babs is one of them, right down to where it counts.

And right now she's just looking him over, an absent little smile on her face that makes her look both friendly and exactly as much older than he is as she is. She'd always looked young in the Batgirl suit.

Maybe anyone would.

"Jay... how is she?"

Jason sighs and scrubs a hand back through his hair. "I guess you haven't talked to her in a while...?"

"A brief call, a few moments at the funeral. I wish there'd been any excuse for you to be there. As it is, I had to make up some lies for the social worker..." Babs shakes her head, and she isn't smiling anymore. "This *life*..."

He nods. "I hear you. I -- man. She's hurting, really a lot. And I wonder how much of it is the fact that her parents are dead versus... well..." He's blushing. She *knows* Tim, and he really -- doesn't. Except on the inside, and that counts for a lot, but --

"Go on, Jason."

"The lies. The lies came up. *You* know what it's like to have to lie to your father --"

Another head-shake. "It's nowhere near the same thing, Jason. *My* father *lets* me lie to him, and wants me to lie, because it makes everything work more smoothly. I might as well not be lying at all, most of the time," she says, and smiles ruefully. "Can I get you something?"

Jason scrubs his hands on his thighs. "A drink? Maybe some juice? And I can get it --"

"*Please* don't make me give you the independent living speech, Jay, I'm nowhere close to being in the mood," and she waves him back and wheels herself into the kitchen.

He feels himself blushing and -- right. He leans back against the couch and waits.

"Anyway, Jay... the two of us *joked* about everything her parents didn't know about her, and I would tease her, sometimes..."

Jason can't *hear* her sighing over the sounds of what she's doing in the kitchen, but he can *feel* it, and -- yeah, he's wincing. "Fuck, I think it's maybe killing her a little, Babs."

Babs is silent, and after a minute she comes back with glasses of orange juice for both of them on a tray in her lap. Jason can see how the tray snaps on to the chair, and it's perfectly steady as she wheels back in. He wonders if they make things like that for the paralyzed or if she'd had to design it for herself. He shakes it off internally and reaches to take his juice before leaning back again and waiting for Babs to say something.

She's clearly thinking hard about it, and... he can wait.

After another minute or so... "She's always a girl for you," she says, and she's smiling again, a soft smile that makes him feel about ten years old.

She's more than a girl, she's *Batgirl*, but -- that's only a part of it. Jason smiles ruefully. "There was a moment, when she was getting out of the car, and she just looked like hell warmed over, and I couldn't -- I couldn't *see* her."

Babs nods.

"But then she moved this certain way..." Jason shrugs. "She'll either correct me or she won't. You -- you know a lot more about her than I do."

Babs unsnaps the tray and lets it swivel out, leaning back in her chair and taking a long drink. "And that was hard for you to say. You... I have to say, Jason, when she told me about that little conversation the two of you had between making out like the teenagers you *are*... you surprised me."

Jason stares at his juice because... because. "I think... you know I used to hustle. I saw a lot out there. I *learned* a lot. And there are things you just kind of learn not to miss, no matter how good the person in question is."

"And Tim is very, very good..."

Batgirl fighting, Batgirl flying. Batgirl laughing like he needs her to again, like he'll do anything to have again -- "It's who she is, Babs. Or -- I *think* it's who she is...?"

Babs nods. "You're on the right track, Jay. Trust me on that."

Jason nods back. "Yeah, so... maybe when she's eighteen she'll have a couple of painful and scary operations, or maybe she won't. It won't change... it won't change what I see."

Babs taps her glass with her short fingernails a couple of times and then nods once. "She's a lot shyer than Batgirl, quiet and as likely to stay quiet in a corner with a thick book or a computer game as anything else. She'll never push for anything she wants. Never, no matter what. She has a wicked sense of humor -- but you knew that already. She knew who all of us were before she ever came to see me in the hospital --"

"Wait -- *what*?"

Babs' smile isn't so friendly anymore, but it's -- proud. Warm. "Oh, yes. She's a natural detective, along with everything else. That's how she knew to find me. And if I wasn't hopped up on painkillers at the time, I probably would've sent her to Bruce -- no. No, that's not true. She came to *me*, and I needed that more than anything."

Jason... blinks. And tries to *think*, but mostly just blinks. A lot --

"I'll wait."

It makes *sense*, because he'd never really figured out how Babs had even *found* someone to train to replace her between all the renovations on this building and her physical therapy and -- everything else, but -- damn. Just -- "Damn."

"Mm-hmm. I do remember the incredibly young boy who used to come to the library all the time looking for articles and information about vigilantes, remember the camera around his neck -- but she remembered me *better*, Jason. She told me, when I asked, that I didn't move like a civilian... well. What else do you need to know?"

"Does she --" Love me. Jason tightens his grip on the glass of juice -- Jason chugs back the rest of his juice and tries to think, actually *think*. "How... how do I make it better for her?"

"At a guess...? Be there," Babs says, and reaches for Jason's glass. "And remember there's a Tim inside the Batgirl."

The number of times he's called her BG instead of Tim... yeah. Okay, he has to deal with that. Jason nods and stands up -- stops.

"Yes, Jay?"

"You said she'll never push for what she wants -- but what about her coming to see you in the damned *hospital*?"

Babs smiles again. "You can't guess...?" The smile gets a little wider and Babs rolls the glass between her fingers -- still just as strong as they were when she was Batgirl. "'Gotham,' I was informed, 'needs a Batgirl.'"

And yeah, he's blinking again, but -- okay. Okay. That tells him something, right there, and... okay. Jason nods and heads for the window.

"Jay... tell her to come see me when she can...?"

"I will --"

"And don't be shy about coming *with* her."

Jason pauses at the window -- and then walks back over and hugs Babs, more than a little surprised that she lets it happen. It's their first hug ever, and it feels so good...

It feels better than he ever would've guessed.

No one ever said that he was the smart one.


Bruce isn't at the console when he gets back, which is a little on the weird side. Jason's used to him monitoring his tracers -- and doing a dozen different other things with the reports and everything else -- whenever he comes back late and alone. There's a tray of fruit, though, and Jason goes for it once he's off his bike -- the clank of the weights.

He looks over, and Tim's benching. Bruce is there spotting her, and apparently most of his brain is hopelessly slow, because somehow he hadn't really come to terms with the thought -- the *possibility* -- of working out with Tim.

Just -- wow.

They could *spar*. And Bruce leans in to tap her elbow -- she's locking it a little -- and a wave of jealousy hits him like a fucking brick. It's just her *elbow*, and it's not like Bruce wants her -- does he?

*Would* he? And okay, now he's jealous and a little freaked *out*, because that would be incredibly fucked-up, and also... he has no idea. Possibly this is just the inevitable result of having spent hours anticipating coming home to Tim, *being* home with Tim --

She can bench more than he would've thought. Or... possibly she's going this high so that Bruce can measure her potential?

Possibly he's walking over with a nectarine in his hand and a lot of need he can't quite *control*, and --

Bruce signals Tim to stop and smiles at him. "Jay. How was Barbara?"

"You saw --" Tim sits up -- almost seems to be at *attention*, just that fast. Jason smiles at her and thinks about touching her shoulder, rubbing at the tension he can see --

Bruce, right. "Uh -- she's good, Bruce," he says, and turns to Tim. "Worried about you. I think --" She wants you to move in with *her*, or at least stay with her, and -- he should say it, should let it *out*, but what if she wants to go right away? Tomorrow?


Jason looks up at Bruce and knows he's seeing the panic written all over him. He looks *worried*, and this -- maybe this is a little more ridiculous than he can *remotely* get away with. He turns back to Tim. "Babs misses you, and -- we talked, some."

"About me," Tim says, and it misses being a question by about a mile. She doesn't so much cross her arms as grip them, a little, and it looks like she's testing her own muscle and it looks like she's thinking about all the patrol she'd missed tonight, and maybe a dozen other things that aren't really *good* for her to think right now --

Jason can't. He tucks the nectarine into one of his belt pockets, drops into a crouch in front of the bench, and reaches to cover one of her hands with his own. The skin is smooth except where it's *too* smooth -- scars. Her knuckles are hard, sharp things, and she's warm with exertion, and -- he can smell her with the next breath he takes. Some kind of sweet-smelling soap he can't name, clean sweat - "Uh. Yeah, we talked about you. She's really... I think she was trying to figure out how to make her apartment work for. Two people."

Tim's eyes go wide and she tenses even harder for a moment. "She's not -- it's *her* place, Jason --"

"Yeah, it really is, and -- no pressure or anything, but I... really like having you here?" Could he *sound* any lamer?

Bruce hums a little under his breath, that noise that means he's trying really *hard* not to just bust out laughing, and yeah, Jason's blushing.

Tim shifts, bringing her hands down to curl them under the bench a little, forearms flexing as she squeezes, and Jason's left with a hand *almost* touching her, and just -- hell. She's wearing *his* old workout clothes, some of the first ones he'd had, and they're worn and don't quite fit her right, and Bruce *had* to have given them to her, which means Bruce is clearly trying to drive him right out of his mind --

"I... thank you, Jason. And Bruce, thank you, too, of course --"

"You never have to thank me for this, Tim. You're always welcome."

And Tim blushes and looks like *she* feels a little panicked, like maybe they're crowding her? Emotionally? Shy. *Quiet*. Doesn't like being the center of attention... unless she's got her Batgirl on.

And Jason thinks about pulling the makeup kit out of the disguise closet, but -- he doesn't know if she *wants* that. He clears his throat and Tim focuses on him again. Her eyes are still wide, and she's still *really* tense -- change the subject, stat. "Were you working out all night?"

It makes her lift her chin a little, take a *deep* breath. "There's a lot of space to run, here. Alfred showed me the way down."

Jason nods -- and watches Bruce rest one hand -- just his fingers -- on Tim's shoulders. "You're always welcome to take advantage of this space, Tim."

Tim looks up and smiles at Bruce. It doesn't seem one hundred percent real, but it's not all a lie, either. "Thank you. I -- I will."

Bruce nods and steps back. "Why don't you let Jason spot you? I need to work on the reports."

He needs to work on his *own* reports, but when Bruce looks at him, there's only another smile. So -- okay, he's got some free time, then. He smiles at Tim and nods back at the weights, a part of him watching Bruce move away out of the corner of his eye --

Tim raises her arms and flexes them, raising an eyebrow, too --

Jason snorts. "We *could* just wrestle a little. I'm fine with that, too."

"Aren't you always...?" And she lowers her hands to the bench again and leans in, mouth curled in a sharp little smile and eyes narrowed --

Batgirl, all over her sudden and *complete*, like all the panic and shyness was just a *lie* -- but it wasn't. It *wasn't* a lie, and he's going to remember that just as soon as he can make himself stop looking her up and down like the meal he's been starving for -- yeah. Jason shakes himself like a fucking *dog* --


And if he listens -- and he *is* listening -- there's something a little unsure under the soft purr of her voice, and that unsure thing means that Tim is right there, was *always* right there, and now -- *now* he's got a handle on himself. Jason puts his hands on her knees and squeezes before looking up into her eyes. "There are a lot of ways you can pretend to be someone other than who you *are*, Tim, but I don't think -- none of them are really *okay*."

For a second she looks hurt, *really* hurt, and Jason wants to backpedal like *crazy* --

"Tim --"

"You don't." She looks down between them and shudders once, all over. "There's a lot you don't know about me, Jason."

"I get that. I'm *getting* that. I just -- maybe it's really fucking selfish -- *probably* it's really fucking selfish, but I just don't want you being any of the other people in your head unless you're really *feeling* it, Tim --"

"Not even... BG."

"Not unless that's how you feel," he says, and realizes that he means it with absolutely everything he is, even the selfish parts. It's kind of terrifying, and maybe that's why he lets go of one of her knees and touches her gently beneath the chin, pushes up until she's looking at him again.

Her eyes are haunted, searching things, and the blue is perfectly real, and --

Do you love me? He doesn't say it, and he doesn't *say* it, and after a minute Tim nods and smiles, small and rueful. Quiet.

Jason smiles back.

"I... those weights aren't going to lift themselves."

"They almost never do, no," Jason says, and forces himself to let go and stand up. She looks up at him for another long moment, and then lays down and starts lifting.

As it happens, that *is* the weight level she's at, and knowing that makes Jason feel...

It makes Jason think of the way Barbara smiles when she thinks of Tim. *She* has the right to feel proud. He's just -- insane. He can go with that.

She spends about an hour lifting, and it's clear that it's something she knows how to do well enough, even though the thought of Babs spotting her is one that makes him feel a little queasy and scared -- how did she get the chair close *enough* back before Tim was experienced enough to at least mostly watch out for herself?

It also makes him wonder a little about the locked elbow earlier -- rookie mistake -- but looking at her, *really* looking... the answer is right there, really. She's a about a million times less tense than she was when Jason had got in, and whether or not that has anything to do with him, it feels good to see her relaxed and just -- working herself.

Even though she doesn't say a word.

Jason fights back a yawn as she finishes her third set on the leg press --

"You should sleep, Jason."

Jason jumps a little internally and the smile is a reflex -- and a good one, since it almost seems to *pull* a smile out of her. "I'm fine."

She raises an eyebrow. "Even Batman -- even Bruce is out of his uniform."

Is he? Jason looks, and -- yeah. Bruce is at the console in one of his robes, suit bundled away for Alfred to clean and mend. "I -- wow. I can't remember the last time Bruce stripped down first without being *injured*." He shakes his head and smiles at Tim again. "Guess I was distracted."

"Because I'm absolutely scintillating company," she says, and it sounds like she's beating herself up some -- no. Just no.

"Hey, you want me to strip, I will *absolutely* strip," he says, and waggles his eyebrows a little --

Tim snorts and shakes his head. "I didn't mean --"

Jason raises a hand -- and brings his other hand up to the catches of his cape. "We have to get used to each other, right? Out of the suits and everything..." He catches his cape before it slithers all the way to the floor and sets it on the bench.


Like I *haven't* wanted to see your body since fucking *forever*, BG -- no, not that. Jason works on the tunic. "I'm not -- I'm not asking you to peel off in front of me, okay? It's just --"

"I don't -- it's okay. I'm not really. Ah. Barbara sees me naked all the time and so does Dinah. I'm..." One of those cracked laughs, high and not really all that full of humor. She's not looking at him, anymore.

Jason pauses with the tunic open halfway and thinks about it, tries to figure out what he'd done *exactly*... he isn't sure, but -- "Barbara sees you. *Dinah* sees you -- and no guys, right?"

"Is that it? I'm -- hell. It can't be. It -- can't. I go to private school and I'm..." She's blushing *hard*, staring at her own knees. Or maybe at Jason's old sweatpants.

Jason rests his hand on her knee -- and feels her tense. She relaxes pretty much immediately, but still -- "Is it me? Or -- us?"

She looks up, mouth a tight line and eyes wide and *frustrated* -- "It shouldn't be."

"Not what I asked, Tim --"

"It *shouldn't* be. We -- we *work* together --"

"And sometimes we *work* together --"

"Jason --"

Jason squeezes her knee. "I know, I'm sorry, sometimes my mouth just gets way the fuck ahead of me. I -- uh. I just meant that it maybe has to mean more than just... any two vigis stripping down for the night?"

She doesn't answer him, and Jason tries to think of something else to say, something else to make this *okay* -- she pushes his hand off of her knee, not roughly, and stands up away from the machine.

"Tim --"

And she pulls off the t-shirt in one smooth motion, laying it on the bench next to Jason's cape, and he really doesn't care about the cape, because she's so *lean*. Almost too lean, and he knows what that feels like against his body, and he *needs* to know what that feels like against his fingers, his palms --

Her nipples look stiff from the chill of the Cave. She --

She's not looking at him at *all*. Jason takes a step closer --

She steps back, graceful and more sure than he wants her to be for *this* -- she shoves her thumbs under the waistband of the sweatpants, and this is where he says something about how she doesn't have to, that she can go over by the lockers, or he could, or --

Jason's throat is dry, and he's *staring* now, tugging his tunic open the rest of the way -- Bruce is still right over there at the *console*, and he's been naked in front of Bruce fucking hundreds of times, and he's been *hard* in front of Bruce, too, he's a teenager, he's --

He's making excuses in his mind, because Tim's still just standing there with her thumbs between fabric and skin, because Tim is bare from the waist up, fucking *sleek* --

And then she's shoving the sweats down over her hips, and Jason can see that she's wearing briefs, simple and white --

That she *was* wearing briefs, and the hair there is dark, of course, but it catches a shine from the fluorescents, and Jason's mouth isn't dry, anymore. Isn't --

She's not hard. Not --

Not even a little. "Tim..."

A hitched breath and she steps out of the briefs and the sweats, another and she looks up -- past Jason's shoulder. No. *No* --

"Look at me, Tim. Look -- look at my *eyes*..."

And for a long moment he thinks she won't, that she'll just stand there, naked and this close to shivering until he turns away, *walks* away --

"Please, Tim --"

And when she does look at him he has to try hard not to flinch. There's so *much* in her eyes, seemingly everything from rage to grief to *terror*. They almost look like they belong on a wild animal, something hunted and a little too *small* for those eyes. But then --

Maybe she sees him, or maybe it just took that long for her to *understand* what she was seeing, because the wildness starts to fade and she curls her hands into loose fists --


Jason nods and tries to think non-threatening thoughts, non-*demanding* thoughts, because the jock is biting into him *hard* and everything he wants is right there, naked in front of him and too screwed up in the head for -- for more. But. "Can I...?" He tugs at his gapping tunic.

And she looks confused -- "There's nothing -- you don't have anything to hide. From me."

Which is what he needs to *hear*, but -- "Tim, I..." Jason shakes his head and smiles ruefully. "I'm kind of... uh." He gestures at the shorts. "At the moment."

She blinks rapidly again and shifts on her feet, the muscles in her long thighs -- strong thighs, and if he hadn't seen her use them a hundred times, he'd still *know* by the look of them --

"Fuck, you're hot," he blurts, and she looks even more *confused*, shaking her head and opening her mouth --

Closing it again, and -- he gets it. He *gets* it.

"Jesus, Tim. Did you think I was looking for tits and a smooth little..." He strokes down with one hand over the shorts that he *really* needs to get out of -- "I already knew... you knew I already knew," he says, and shrugs out of the tunic, kicks off the boots --

She looks down at his feet, back up *slowly*, and it looks like she *wants* to cross her arms over her chest, but the fists at her sides are tight things now. She's holding *on*, and he fucking --

He loves her for it, and for so many other *things* -- "Used to each other, right?"

"I -- getting there. I suppose. Jason, I -- what do you *see*?"

And maybe that's the biggest question she's ever asked him, the most important one, and so it feels like stalling to push and shove himself out of the shorts and the jock even as it also feels like the most necessary thing in the *world* --

She doesn't look down really *loudly*, and she swallows once, eyes widening before she clenches her fists even harder --

He can see the tension all over her, and he has to be just a little bit *closer* --

"Jason -- please."

"I see -- I think I see you." Finally. "Like I... like maybe we don't have to play any more games with each other, or --"

Or something, because that line on her forehead is a frown which doesn't seem to have anything to do with *this*.


"I --" And it's like watching Zatanna do something amazing and impossible, like watching the way dawn hits certain parts of downtown and turns everything to fire, like --

Like Batgirl, rolling her shoulders back and flipping the hair which is only not there if you're an *idiot*. Watching her tilt her head to the side, raise an eyebrow --

"I thought you liked the games we play... Jason."

Robin. She was going to say *Robin*, and that's reason enough to let himself smile the way he wants to, let all of it onto his face and into his voice when he says, "yeah, well... sometimes I'm not sure what the rules are. Tim."

And the light doesn't catch on any lipstick when her mouth twists, purses, when she cocks her hip -- "That sounds like the kind of excuse a loser would make."

This time she doesn't move when he steps closer, when he's close enough to feel her heat in the Cave's chill, when she tilts her head up and narrows her eyes -- "Sometimes losing feels pretty fucking good --"

"I wouldn't know," she says, and she's shorter than she should be -- no heels -- but that just means he has an excuse to lean in as close as he can, to breathe against her pretty little mouth --

"I could show you..."

"Could you, Jason?"

Robin again, and it's a dare, a *push*, and it doesn't matter that they aren't on a rooftop or in an alley, it doesn't matter that Bruce is only a couple hundred yards away -- nothing matters but the feel of her mouth against his own, and her slim little waist against his hands, those hips --

No curve, no padding. Just skin and the tickle of hair when he strokes with his thumbs --

And the way she sighs into his mouth feels like finally, feels like *everything*, and he definitely loses the game by moaning, but when she shivers and presses close he thinks he wants to lose like this all the *time*.

Just -- she should be touching him, hands between them so she can shove him away, and he backs off just a little --

But she pushes her hands into his hair, tugs and opens for him, hot and wet and right, so *right*, and he wants to know what it's like for her, if she likes feeling how hard he is, how *hot* he is for her, if that's what's making her press even closer again.

Naked together, and he's tried to picture it so many times, tried to piece it together from what he knew and what he could guess, but there's nothing in his memories and fantasies like the feel of her dick just barely sliding against his thigh, soft and vulnerable --

He wants to make her *hard* for him, wants her slick and hot, dark and crazy for him, crazy like he feels when he slips his tongue into her mouth, when she makes a sound so soft and brief that it's not even a moan and tightens her fingers in his hair.

He could slide his hand between them, grip her and *stroke*, make her *know* how he feels, what he sees and what he *feels*. It's probably the best idea he's had in his *life*, and he thrusts deep with his tongue and does it --

She bites his tongue. Not a tease, not even -- it feels like shock, and she's tensed all over again -- she pulls back and grips his hand, tries to push it off her --

"Tim --"

"N-no. Jason, don't --"

Too much. It's -- she feels so good and he doesn't want to let *go*, but she's looking back and forth, she's hard everywhere she *shouldn't* be and *shaking* --

Jason lets go --

"Sorry, Tim, I only wanted --"

"I -- no. Sorry. I shouldn't have -- oh -- fuck."

Jason snorts -- and regrets it immediately when she looks at him and it's the wild look, the *scared* look. "No, I -- I was agreeing. With that 'fuck.' Tim, we could -- uh. Shower?"

Her nostrils flare just a little, and Jason can't *not* wonder what he smells like to her, if she likes it, *wants* it --

"Or we could -- hell. There are... help?"

She blinks at him for a moment -- stops and takes a breath. Batgirl in the way she stands up straight, the way she nods sharply and -- meets his eyes almost steadily. "Showering -- would probably help. I should... upstairs."

"We could -- I mean, it's a big shower here, and there are robes...?"

She looks -- like she wants to touch him again, kiss him or hold him, and fuck, they could do that, too, anything she wants, *anything* she wants, and --

"I'll keep my hands -- I'll keep 'em to myself. I promise. We really --"

"We really should. Get used to each other."

Jason takes a deep breath and resists the urge to reach down and *grip* himself -- she doesn't need to see that right now, and -- she doesn't. He nods dumbly instead and then nods toward the showers.

Tim sets her mouth -- and her shoulders, too -- and starts walking in that direction. Jason follows.


He spends the night -- probably too *much* of the night -- thinking about that shower, and the way Tim hadn't looked at him until Jason had given up on anything like subtlety and blasted himself with the cold water.

*Then* she'd looked, and --

Hurt in her eyes, and more apology than he could *remotely* deal with. He'd told her it was okay, promised her it was okay, but he really doesn't think she'd believed him.

And the cold water hadn't really done all that much --

She'd all but *fled* the shower when she was done, muttering goodnight as she went --

And Jason had spent some serious time beating his head against the wall.

Her door was closed when he got upstairs, and that meant that the only thing *he* could do was leave his door open and hope. God, just --

He's an *idiot*. He has no idea what kind of experience Tim has with sex, but he's willing to bet that it isn't much. She'd had a lot of reason not to let him get too far when they were just being Batgirl and Robin -- or thought she had, and that might as well be the same thing --

He can't stop thinking about that one night. That -- that *one*, when it had all come out -- or almost.

She'd been under him, *moving* under him, kissing him hard and moaning, *moving* --

She'd reached for the catches on his tunic and he'd been the idiot who'd *stopped* her, because he wasn't sure if she was ready to give up *all* of the games. He'd asked her a bunch of questions, and -- okay, they were *good* questions.

She hadn't answered a single one, and then she'd gotten past his guards like they were *smoke* and gone over the side of the roof, bringing the game right back.

They hadn't done more than kiss and touch a little since then, and he'd been okay with that, okay with giving her time to do what she needed to do, figure out what she needed to figure out --

And tonight he'd just lost that, all of it, because he's *not* okay. He needs --

He needs her, her smiles and her teases, her strong, hard hands and her tongue in his mouth. He can *guess* why it had blown the whole thing for him to grab her dick, can theorize that maybe she's not all that happy about *having* a dick, or -- something.

("I'm not -- I'm not always that.")

Which -- did that mean she wasn't always a girl inside? Wasn't always *Batgirl*? Wasn't always sure she wanted *him*?

He doesn't know, and a part of him is already out of the bed, knocking on her door and opening it before she has a chance to say word *one*. Going to her and begging, demanding, *needing* --

Do her sheets smell like her, yet? Would she maybe try to distract him with more kissing, more touch...

Jason groans aloud --

"That didn't sound pleasant," Bruce says, from *right* next to Jason's bed --

Jason sits up and reflexively calms his breathing, because it's Bruce, and he will *always* be able to appear out of fucking nowhere and give him heart attacks. "*Jesus*, Bruce. Did you do this to Dick, too?"

"Often," Bruce says, and sits down on the side of the bed, reaching out to -- hand him the nectarine he'd left in one of his belt pockets.

Well, he'd been distracted. Jason takes it and sighs. "So how much of that... that were you paying attention to?"

"I wouldn't say... paying attention," and when Bruce sighs, he seems only a deeper patch of shadow -- until he reaches and turns on the light. "How are you."

More of an order than a question, and... Jason sighs, himself. "A little... twisted up inside, I guess. I -- pushed too hard, tonight."

Bruce nods and his eyes are full of sympathy. "There are... I think it would be fair to say that there are a lot of things on Tim's mind, right now."

Jason nods. "I know that. I -- I *knew* that, but I still... fuck, Bruce, I don't know what to do. I mean, sometimes I think I *have* it. I can guess where the landmines are and kind of... steer us around them. But sometimes all I can see is *her*, all I can think about is how much I *want*..."

Bruce rests his hand on Jason's. "There's nothing... there's nothing I can do to help you with that --"

"No, I know, it's not like I can make you live in my head and tell me the right things to do or say --"

"Jason," he says, and squeezes Jason's hand. "Love and desire... they can be very difficult things. Very *painful* things, but..."

Jason closes his eyes -- and Bruce touches his face with his other hand until Jason opens his eyes again. "Bruce...?"

Bruce's smile is small and quiet and rueful -- and not all that different from some of Tim's smiles, when he thinks about it.

"I'm -- I'll be *okay*, Bruce --"

"I know you will," he says, and he's still smiling a little. "There's nothing wrong with how you feel about Tim, Jason. That -- you must hold on to that, and remember it, even when things are difficult."

"But -- it's how I feel that got me *in* this mess --"

"No. It's what you let those feelings allow you to *do*, Jason, and there's a very large and important difference between the two."

Jason frowns. That was -- that was really serious, and said almost in the same voice Bruce uses to tell him things designed to keep him *alive*. "I -- okay, but... it's kind of hard to see the difference right now."

"Is it...?" Bruce sighs again and pats Jason's hand before leaning away again. "All right. Just -- hm. Try to remember that she cares for you, that you may very well be the most important person in her life right now --"

"That's *Babs*, Bruce --"

"And *that*... is a very different sort of important. I think, perhaps, you could trust me about that...?"

Because *Bruce* is important to him, but not... yeah. All right. Jason takes a deep breath and lets himself lie back down. "She was so -- I've never seen her *scared* before, Bruce."

Bruce hums and stands. "Love is not so far from fear as we might think, or wish to believe."

That -- "That sounds really fucking *grim*, Bruce."

Bruce laughs softly. "I'll take your word for that, of course, Jason," and he moves toward the door.

"Goodnight, Bruce -- and thanks."

"You're welcome. And do try to watch your language," he says, but it still sounds like he's laughing and that --

That's okay.

He *does* feel a little better, even if he's not all that sure... no. He's known for a good long while that Bruce *approved* of Robin's relationship with Batgirl -- he probably loved it when it was Dick and Babs, too. He's just -- he's *like* that.

But knowing that he's completely okay -- *more* than okay -- with him and *Tim*... well, it would be really fucking easy for him *not* to be, especially since it's not like Jason has any idea how it would go for a Wayne heir to start dating a -- guy.

He can *see* Tim all dressed up in a tux at some damned party, and he can see *himself* dragging Tim back into a cloakroom and peeling her out of it --

And he never actually got *soft* from before, but now he's really fucking hard again, because it would be a fucking gorgeous kind of *obscene* for Tim to be in a tux, moreso than those jeans or sweats and t-shirts --

The way she'd *move* --

He was trying to think about how this would work. He was -- he was really *thinking*, for a minute there, but fuck, she's three doors down and she *does* want him, *does* care. She wouldn't have been half so scared, so freaked *out* if she didn't.

And yeah, Bruce is cool with that, and that's *great*, but it wouldn't matter if he wasn't. He'd -- he doesn't know how it would work, but he would *always* go to her, camp out in the alley behind the Clocktower if he had to, beg for anything he could have and tell Bruce to fuck *off*, because she's beautiful, because she kisses him like it's the only thing she's ever really wanted to do, touches him like maybe *she* can't believe he's right there needing her, wanting her --

And this time when he groans it almost feels *good*, like he's letting himself off a leash.

Love and fear --

And the scent of the nectarine in his hand is sweet and heavy and *nothing* like Tim, but there's something about the *feel* of the scent that's the same, that same kind of drugging *thing*, like maybe if he bites down there will only be a *little* give --

Tim's throat, long and slim, unmarked -- by anyone?

What would've happened if he'd kissed her there instead of reaching for her dick like a fuck-dumb idiot? If he'd licked and bit --

She likes it when he bites her lip, when he grabs her hard by the waist and pulls her close --

So *close* --

Jason puts the nectarine on the end table and reaches down to rub his thigh, the place where her dick was rubbing against him so *soft* --

And he's hit, hard and fucking *rough* by the image/sense of her under him as he thrusts, grinds himself against her, slides and pushes, leans in and kisses her as he moves, rolls them until she's on top of him, looking down at him with her blue eyes wide and that smile on her face.

*That* smile, shy and hungry at once in the moments before she closes her eyes --

Jason bites back another groan and takes himself in hand, feels himself and tries to imagine *her* hand there, hard and -- would she be unsure at first? Hesitant or awkward until he moaned for her, pushed *into* her fist once, again --

"Tim..." His voice is too low, too hungry, but there have been times when she's liked *that*, too, when it's made her lips part, her face *heat* so close to his own --

He can smell her in his mind, he can push himself out of this bed and down into himself where every kiss, every touch and smile and kiss *lives*. He's *used* to this, it's nothing *like* the first time --

Even though it's the first time she could maybe hear him if she opened her door, if she stepped into the hall --

He wants her to *know* this about him, and everything else, too. He wants her to know that sometimes he can't stop himself from stripping himself fast and hard, chasing every hint of memory before they leave him alone in this bed again, before he's just himself again -- too desperate to be Robin and too hungry to feel entirely like Jason.

*Jason* --

Jason doesn't want to be alone.


It's summer, and he usually sleeps in -- especially when he's spent the night patrolling and training -- but he can't really make himself do it today. He could blame it on the light from his window -- warm and bright and promising -- but that really doesn't have anything to do with it.

He throws on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and thinks idly about getting in more training downstairs --

He *tries* to think about that, but of course he doesn't head right for the stairs when he gets to the hall -- her door is open.

The sudden *knock* in his chest would tell him all he needed to know about where his head was at he if he didn't already know, and he knocks, lightly, trying not to just shove his head in --

Alfred clears his throat behind him, and Jason -- mostly -- manages not to jump.

"Young Timothy is taking her breakfast downstairs with Master Bruce," he says, and Jason turns around and smiles ruefully at him.

"I'm just gonna be... completely obvious for a while, aren't I?"

"I'm sure I don't know, young sir," Alfred says, and there's a light in his eyes that -- yeah.

Makes Jason want to blush and makes him feel warm, too. Right. "Enough chow for me down there?"

"One does what one can," Alfred says, and raises an eyebrow.

Jason waves and heads down. The table is set the way it was last night, with Bruce right in the middle, and Tim is there, dressed pretty much the way Jason is -- the clothes aren't his. Maybe Alfred had gone by the Clocktower to pick up some of Tim's own things?

It shouldn't feel like a *loss* that Tim isn't wearing his clothes, but... damn. He's standing here just *staring* -- and so he can see Tim tensing, and Bruce looking at her --

Jason walks in. "Hey, good morning," he says, and his voice sounds shaky to his own ears, but he can fucking well cope.

He grabs his plate and pulls some things from the sideboard without really looking. He knows Tim isn't looking at him, but he can still *feel* her -- feeling him. Too awkward. He really has to -- something.

He sits down and notes that Bruce is eating oatmeal, and Tim has cereal with some fruit in it. "Guess I'm the only one being a pig this morning?"

Bruce hums and smiles --

Tim blushes. "I'm not really used to... ah. I usually eat light in the mornings."

Jason nods and feels himself filing it away, something else for him to *know*. "Bacon *is* eating light," he says.

Tim looks at him from under her lashes, and there's a really kind of *cautious* smile in her eyes.

Something else for him to just -- feed on. The bacon might as well be a fried piece of cardboard. But -- "Seriously, the frying process -- uh. Gets rid of all the fat?"

Bruce shifts -- and doesn't say a word.

Tim looks at Bruce for a second and then turns back. And raises her eyebrow in a way that somehow doesn't have a thing to do with Batgirl. "I'm reasonably sure it doesn't work that way, Jason."

Jason grins and takes another bite -- better. Much better. "Were *you* in the kitchen when Alfred was frying it up?"

"No, but --"

"Then how can you be sure? This particularly delicious-looking bit --"

"With the grease actually shining *on* it, Jason...?"

"That's the one," Jason says, and bites it off. "Mm. Yeah, that might be just -- uh. Meat. No salty, wonderful --"


"*Fatty* -- fat. None at all," and he licks his lips and reaches for another piece...

Tim hums and -- hunh. Jason looks at Bruce again, and he's *not* looking at Tim, not really, but he also seems a lot more aware of her than he was a second ago. That *hum*...

Bruce looks up at *him*, and there's a question in his eyes --

And Tim is looking at both of them, and is starting to look a little wary again.

"Uh -- you laugh a little like Bruce. Sometimes," Jason says, and feels himself blushing, and -- lives with it.

Tim dabs at her mouth with her napkin and -- up goes the eyebrow again.

"I like it. I... heh. I'm used to it?"

*Bruce* hums this time and goes back to his oatmeal, and Jason watches Tim really *look* at Bruce, take him in like maybe she wasn't paying all *that* much attention before, or -- no. He's betting Tim *always* pays attention. Just -- maybe she was only paying attention to Batman, before.

Jason thinks about reaching across the table and just... running his fingers over her knuckles a little, but he settles for just smiling at her --

And knowing, inside, that when she closes her eyes and ducks her head slightly that *that's* a smile for him. Maybe more important than the one tugging at the corner of her mouth.

The rest of breakfast is quiet and easy, and Jason congratulates himself for only staring a *little* every time Tim tilts her head back a little to sip her juice. That *neck* -- yeah, only a little.

He's *fine*.

And then Bruce is leaving for WE and Tim is kind of... she's *not* playing with her spoon, not really, but the way she's holding it says that there's the *potential* for that. Like maybe she doesn't want to leave the table just yet, but isn't sure what to say or do to give her a reason *to* stay.

And that -- okay, so he *could* be fooling himself, but really, what if he isn't? He picks up his own spoon and taps hers --

"En garde...?"

Jason blinks and grins. "If you tell me that Babs taught you fencing along with everything else..."

Tim blushes -- and spins the spoon over her fingers, quick and easy. "Ah... Dinah had picked it up from some members of the JSA."

That makes sense... Jason thrusts a few times and gets blocked, parried -- and has his knuckles spanked with the spoon's handle. He laughs and brings his spoon to his forehead, bows. "Noted. Babs and Dinah are pretty close?"

"Best friends, I believe. I think... I think Babs learned a lot from her when she was Batgirl."

Because she didn't really have *Bruce*, at the time... Jason nods. "So who else did you learn from?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "Richard Dragon and ah -- Selina Kyle."

Jason blinks. "Fucking *Catwoman*?"

"She -- as near as I can tell, she owed Babs a rather big favor. I don't have much in the way of acrobatics, but what I do have... I learned from her."

"Hey, I've *seen* you. You're pretty fucking bendy out there."

The smile gets a little wider. "Not like Nightwing."

Jason waves a hand. "*Nobody* is like Dick. And don't pretend you didn't know his name. Babs *told* me you figured it all out."

"She did? I..." Tim bites her lip. "I had a lot of free time as a child."

And -- there's a question in there about her parents. There really is, starting with how Jason can't figure out how they could've been *remotely* in Tim's life and not noticed what she was *doing*. But --

Everything in Tim's eyes is telling him not to ask it. Maybe begging him, a little.

Jason nods again and tries to think of something else to ask, something... "How do you like Bruce?"

For some reason, that makes her start a little, right there in her chair --

"Uh -- was that a bad question?"

And another blush. "Ah. Not as such, no. I..." She shakes her head and looks at him, smiling ruefully. "He actually came to talk to me last night. Perhaps I mean 'talk me down.'"

Well... hunh. It would be really *like* Bruce to make sure *neither* of them were spending too much time beating up on themselves, but... hunh. "You... it was a good conversation?"

Tim looks down at the table, smoothes the cloth a little bit. "I was really... kind of a mess."

Jason winces. "Yeah, I -- I'm really sorry --"

"It *wasn't* your fault," she says, sharp and hard -- and blushes a little deeper before looking up again. "I think, maybe, that it's easier to be Batgirl around you than it is to be Tim, except that I can't seem to keep it up."

Which is... really kind of a lot to say in one little sentence. Jason nods and -- gives up and reaches across the table to cover one of her hands. "I'm not -- I won't ever pressure you. For anything."

"I know that -- I know. It's just --" She shakes her head again. "Bruce -- he's a very caring man. Very... I never would've expected him to be quite so... warm?"

And that... Jason grins. "He's the best. I didn't know *what* the hell he wanted from me when he dragged me out of that alley -- I actually thought he was some kind of freaky pervert -- but... yeah. He made me something."

"I suspect..." Tim looks down at their hands for a long moment -- and then turns her hand over, so that they can just kind of... hold each other.

"I like that," Jason says --

And Tim smiles at him, small and almost soft. "I was going to say -- I suspect he saw something in you... well. I don't think he'd take all the credit for who you've become, Jason."

It was probably just his *turn* to blush. "I'm not --" I'm just a kid, he wants to say, but the Bruce who lives in the back of his mind is kind of scowling at him for that. "Uh... well. Mutual admiration society?"

Tim laughs and looks away again, only it feels more like Tim offering her cheek, the twist of her throat --

Jason swallows and squeezes her hand just -- loosely. Not too hard or anything like that --

She shivers anyway, and maybe she's thinking about Jason's hand other places. Or possibly that's just him.

"Uh -- so. I was just going to get some training in, maybe hit the weights myself for a while..."

And Tim frowns *hard*, face twisting up --


"I just. I was about to. I was about to say something about. Needing to get home. I -- excuse me," she says, tugging her hand away and standing up, keeping her face turned *away* --

Jason stands up. "Are you sure -- you don't have to be alone right now, Tim --"

"Alone. Alone. Oh." Tim covers her face with her hands and rocks on her feet -- stops and stands *rigid*, like maybe there's a stiff wind running through the dining room that Jason just hadn't *noticed*, and -- he gets this, too.

"When I was -- my mother was sick for a real long time before she died. I was -- I thought I was used to the idea, that I'd be okay when she *did* die, but..."

Tim shudders and doesn't say a word... but she also doesn't *move*, and that's something. Jason walks around the table and moves -- not too close. Just enough that he can reach out and rest a hand on her shoulder, feel her stiffen and *not* twist away.

"I had -- I had a lot of other things to think about, a lot of things to focus on just to survive out there --"

"I know I'm not -- I know I'm really *fortunate*, Jason, and I -- I'll be all right in a minute," she says, *scrubbing* at her face before dropping her hands and seeming to stare right through him.

Jason winces again and rubs her shoulder, shifts until he's cupping the back of her neck. "That's *not* what I meant, Tim. I just -- I wanted to say that I wasn't okay, not even a little. And I pushed and pushed and thought about everything *but* my parents, and it all just meant that I was fucked up for longer than I might've been if I'd just let myself..." Jason shrugs. "Deal with it."

Tim's expression twists again, milder this time -- "I don't think -- I wouldn't call that *dealing*, per se --"

"You were feeling it, though. Letting yourself really..." Jason waves his free hand. "You know what I'm talking about."

"I do, I really -- but. I keep wondering how my father would feel about this, what I'm doing, where I'm living..."

Jason squeezes the back of her neck. "Your Dad didn't know the real Bruce Wayne."

"No, he certainly... didn't. The only problem is that I'm not sure it would've made things any better if he had, Jason."

"Oh. I... oh." What is he supposed to do with *that*?

"Yes, that." Tim sighs and closes her eyes for a moment, and when she opens them *this* time she looks a little better, a little closer to being herself, as opposed to the somehow solid ghost who would never, ever need a minute just to cry a little.

Jason can't help smiling at her for that, and doesn't bother to try --

"Jason. You're... I think I always knew you'd be like this. That you wouldn't let me..." Tim shakes her head and steps back, reaches up to catch Jason's hand in her own and squeeze. "I could spot you on the weights...?"

Jason nods and doesn't pull her in for a hug. He squeezes her hand, though, and gives himself a second just to feel her calluses, her strength... "Yeah, sure."

And he expects her to slip her hand free and go, but -- she doesn't. She's waiting for him to do -- something, and *that* has to be improvement, so he *does* pull her in. Slowly, carefully until she sighs against his jaw -- "I. Didn't think you would."

Jason squeezes her. "I didn't think you wanted me to."

"I always -- um."

Definitely his turn to shiver. "Tim," he says, and he doesn't know what comes after that, unless it *is* one of the dozen things he's pretty sure it's not the right time to say. He doesn't kiss her forehead, but he does nuzzle her a little at her hairline --

She squeezes him back. "You're making this. I think you're making this too easy for me, Jason. I think it shouldn't be --"

"It *should*, as easy as it can be -- which just isn't all that fucking easy at all, Tim. I -- if you ever need, if you ever *want*... I'm here."

"I. I really -- fucking -- hate crying."

Jason smiles against her forehead. "I kinda figured that out."

"Mm." And Tim strokes Jason's back before pulling away. "Weights?"

"Weights," Jason says, and gives her a little 'after you' gesture --

And gets a narrow-eyed *look* that's pure Batgirl for the half-second it takes for her to turn around and start walking. Easily, lightly, and the *way* she moves makes Jason wonder if she misses her heels.

Was the uniform one of the things Alfred had brought over?

Are her toenails still painted to match Batgirl's lipstick?

Is he going to make an ass out of himself before they even get down to the Cave?

Maybe -- no. He's under control, and he's not going to do *anything* to shake that fragile-looking control she's working with right now, certainly not anything like spending a good solid minute thinking about those loose-fitting shorts of hers, and how the ass under them is lean and curved and *hard*, and would feel fucking fantastic in his hands --

She pauses at the clock and turns, a question in her eyes...

"Uh -- go ahead. I was just... thinking."

That eyebrow says she knows exactly what he *was* thinking, but the little smile on her face is fond and really kind of *sweet*, and he doesn't pin her against the wall next to the clock, and he *does* follow her down the stairs.

When she reaches the mats, she speeds up, raises her arms -- flips up onto her hands and into a spring, another one, sticks her landing --

On her *toes*.

Jason grins and whistles. "We could probably find you a pair of heels down here if that would be more comfortable...?"

The Cave makes her brief laugh echo strangely and seriously, like maybe she's changing some of the more solid-*looking* carved out places just by being here -- "Ah... Alfred brought some of my uniforms. I was thinking -- Batgirl can't stay down long."

And what about Tim? "You *know* that's not what he was saying, right? That it's not what *anyone* is saying --"

She raises a hand and rocks on her heels, pushes up onto her toes and stretches up with her arms -- "No one but me. I *do* get it. Whether or not I can -- believe it," she says, laughing again and turning into a series of cartwheels, faster and faster until she flips up again, turns a somersault in the air --

Down on her toes. "Fuck, Tim --"

"Ohh, this feels... very, very good. It's been almost two weeks," she says, and bounces up, higher, spins into a ready position --

The first moves of the *second* kata Bruce had taught him --

Another ready position --

Jason stalks onto the mats, pulling on something like Robin with every step until he knows there's a *hard* light in his eyes and his own kind of spring in his step --

She dances back, tosses the hair that isn't there --

"Grow it out," Jason says, and winces internally because that sounded like an order, and Tim isn't dancing anymore. "I mean -- hell. I just think... I think it would look..." Jason scrubs a hand back through his own hair.

"I -- heh. The wig has a lot more body than my hair can manage on its *best* day, Jason," she says, and she's still in a ready position, but -- Batgirl isn't here.

Not entirely. Okay, they're still talking and that's... they can do this. "Your hair is... thinner?"

"Finer, too," she says, kicking out -- and drawing a line on the mats with her toes that's only invisible if you're an idiot.

"Oh -- really."

The smile on her face is almost too *cheerful* for Batgirl, for all that it's small and a little hard to catch.

Tim, all over her in this moment, and a part of Jason just wants to sit back and *watch* -- but the rest of him is in his own favorite ready position... *is* that her favorite? He'd lay money that it is, even though it's not like she goes with any one position over the others on the street.

"Of course," she says, and starts to circle, "it's been a rather long time since my hair has been much longer than this..."

"It could've changed," and Jason turns with her, watches her eyes and keeps himself balanced, breathing evenly --

The kick comes out of nowhere, but she isn't tall enough to tag him from there, so Jason doesn't move from his ready position even to block.

The smile on her face gets narrower even as she acknowledges his cool --

"I've looked at pictures of myself with longer hair," she says, and starts to circle faster. "I can hardly see myself at all."

"How much," Jason says, and *moves* for her --

Blocked, blocked --

Blocked again where Bruce would've gone for a catch --

She drops and goes for a leg-sweep that Jason leaps over, strikes down and hits nothing, because she rolls into a somersault and back onto her feet.

"'How much,' Jason...?"

"How *much* do you see yourself *now*?"

"Ooh. That's not a very friendly question at all," she says, and the laugh is silent, but it's all over her, all through her and absolutely in the sudden spin-kick that Jason *just* manages to rear back from --

He reaches for her ankle and misses, and --

She's coming for him, fast and *hard* --

"Should I apologize?" He blocks her, blocks again and spins, twists, strikes out and gets blocked hard enough that he might have bruised her forearm --

"Never. Not -- not *you*," she says, and doesn't even pause before she's using that arm to jab for him, *strike* for him at every nasty little place Bruce had taught him about --

She's *fast*, and Jason has to dance back a little -- and *move* for her again when she swallows the bait --

She jumps up over the kick he'd aimed at her shins, comes down with his thigh between her legs and flips back --

No, she stops herself on her hands and goes for a double-kick that would've bruised his ribs if he hadn't bent himself *back*, but he's fast enough to catch her ankles, spin her --

And she twists in the air when he lets her go, managing a three point landing --

No pause before she makes it four and kicks for *his* shin, grazing him with the heel of her trainer --

And if she *had* been wearing heels, he'd have a *nasty* cut coming up. "Good one," he says, and punches down for the meaty part of her calf, forcing her to pull back, spin up onto her toes again --

He doesn't give her time to get all the way up, but she blocks every blow easily, reading him *just* like she'd spent every night they worked together *learning* him as opposed to wanting to get into his shorts --

And then she kicks out *from* her crouch, solid and strong, and Jason doesn't stumble, but he does have to move back --

And then she's up again, spinning into kick after kick, and she's exactly as flexible as she should be, and every time he blocks he thinks about the time she must have put in to make her lower body as strong as Babs' had been, to make herself Bat*girl* --

"Oh, don't you fucking *stop* --"

"Wouldn't," she says, and starts going for his legs again as she twists and shifts her upper body away from Jason's punches and strikes -- "Wouldn't dream of it --"

"What *do* you dream of?" And he picks up speed, forces her back again, forces her to focus on *her* blocks and dodges --

"Gotham," and she's spinning and moving, dancing on the heels she's not wearing --

"More," he says, and goes for her knee -- gently --

But it doesn't matter, because she flips from her stance, spins and kicks for his *head* --

Jason bends himself *all* the way back --

"The night, the -- I move and I run, I fly and I -- I *dance* --"

"Fuck *yeah*, you do," and Jason tries his own flip, feels a kick *just* miss his back, gets back to his feet and *attacks*, because this is what she wants, what they both *want* --

And it's still not Batgirl. There's no tease here, and the viciousness doesn't come with a flirt. It's Tim, and everything she's learned, everything Babs and Dinah and Richard Dragon and fucking *Catwoman* --

He can see them if he looks, he thinks, if he can make himself focus on more than the heat of her when she closes, when she smiles so sharp and fucking *deadly* as she tries to numb his arms, turn his legs to fucking jelly --

Close means he can *punish* her a little, see just how much of that speed can protect her from having to block him, because it's the blocks that are going to end this, make her *need* to end this --

And he can feel it when she dances back again, when she starts using her kicks more and more --

She can do this all *day*, but she has to know that he'll catch her again, eventually, throw her *hard* --

There, her ankle in his hand and she's up on her other toe, panting and staring at him, fucking *glittering* at him --


"*Don't* give," he says, loosening his grip enough that she can twist free --

And immediately kick for his face again, *absolutely* busting his nose all over his face with the reinforced heels she's not wearing --

And then it's just motion, and the fact that Tim is perfectly silent even when he *knows* the blocks must be starting to hurt her.

It's the sharp smile on her face and the sharper one in her eyes, it's the way she moves *exactly* like she was born to do just this, and fuck everyone and anyone who would try to keep her from it.

It's the fact that he's getting the kind of hard that just makes this *better*, and the fact that even though she's slowing down, she's not *stopping*, not doing anything but giving Jason more, and *more* --

She loves this. She -- she loves this as much as *he* does, and he can see it, and fuck, they should've been doing this every fucking *night*, chasing each other across rooftops and never letting themselves get too far *away* --

"Better than fucking *tag* --"

And she laughs and closes again, cries out sharp when he makes her back away from a head-butt --

Laughs again and hums and *moves*, all around him now, coming at him from every angle she *can*, and maybe this is what desperation looks like when it's sweet and perfect, when losing just means --

*There*, he catches her arm and flips her like a wrestler, and the mats knock the breath out of both of them --

She rolls, but he catches her again, pins her arms and her legs and *holds* her --

She's still laughing even as she gasps, and the color is high in her cheeks, spilling down her throat --

The scent of her is *high* in the air, shoving right up inside him where he lives and breathes and *needs* -- "*Now* you can give. If you want."

"Oh, can I...? Really?" And she laughs more, and Jason doesn't think he was being all *that* funny, but -- it's really good to hear, and maybe she needs to let it out.

"Yeah, well. If you wanna punk *out* on me..." Jason grins and watches her struggle a little to control her breathing. It's good -- no, it's fucking incredible to watch, and -- yeah. He shifts off her legs --

And she lifts them immediately, bending them back and digging her knees into Jason's sides just a little --

"Or we could do *that*. Or maybe I can just picture Catwoman teaching you how to bend that way..."

Tim smiles and shakes her head, setting her feet down on the mats with her knees still bent up. "Ah -- Barbara taught me quite a bit *long* before she called in... reinforcements."

"I'm *okay* with the image of Babs twisting you up like a little pretzel for justice."

"Mm. Extra mustard," Tim says, and twists her wrists back and forth in Jason's hands --

And Jason remembers that he's *seriously* hard at right about the same time he realizes that yes, he *is* still pinning her -- he lets go, but can't really make himself stop leaning over her, fucking *looming* --

But she's still smiling. And -- "Jason... thank you."

"*Any* time. I -- that was *fantastic*. I mean, I spar with Bruce pretty often, but it's not like *that* ever lasts long enough to make it *good*."

"Good. I -- yes," and she closes her eyes for a moment, lashes dark on her cheeks --

"You're so -- you're beautiful."

Tim opens her eyes wide, searches him for... he doesn't know. He thinks he *might* know, but --

Jason wets his lips with his tongue and braces his weight on one hand so he can touch her face with the other, feel the fine bones, the sweat at her temples, the curve of her eyebrows. It would be incredibly easy to superimpose the image of the cowl over her features -- he's *seen* her like this, *had* her like this -- but. "I just realized -- you were being Tim for me out there, a lot of the time?"

"I -- it's not something I could really. Help. Jason --"

He brushes his fingers over her lips, and he doesn't really mean to make her stop talking, and he can *keep* himself from pressing, but... It's the first time he's ever touched her mouth, and he wants that memory for himself, that *feeling*. Hard little mouth, soft only once he's kissed it hard a couple of times, bitten it a little --

"Jason..." And her voice is soft, low and *soft*, like maybe he should be straining to hear it over the sound of the generators of the bats, like maybe he shouldn't be able to *feel* it absolutely everywhere, and especially at the base of his dick.

Jason licks his lips again and he knows that he's frowning in the same way he knows that he's kneeling between her legs. It's knowledge he doesn't know how to *deal* with, what to *do* -- "I. Tim..."

She gasps like maybe *his* voice is doing things to her, like --

"Please," he says, he -- he fucking *begs*, and he doesn't even know what he's *asking* for when he has her like this, when he can press against her mouth with his thumb, stroke and --

She licks her lips, licks his *thumb*, and maybe she didn't mean to do that --

They're both moaning, and Tim closes her eyes again, and Jason can't --

He leans in slow, presses his body against hers *slow* --

She *bucks* under him and gasps again, and now she's *squeezing* her eyes shut like she doesn't want to *see* --

"Please, Tim, I -- you could. I could stop. I can stop, and -- just tell me what to *do*."

She tenses so hard it makes Jason feel a little sick with the fear that he's pushing too much again, *demanding* too much -- he pulls his hand away from her face, takes a deep breath --

And she grabs his hand *hard*, squeezes it and brings it back to her face, her mouth --

"I -- Jason..."

Breath against his fingers, warm and damp, and Jason hears himself groaning. It's nothing against the feel, the *warmth*, and this time he touches her tongue, pushes in with two fingers just to stroke --

And she sucks his fingers, licks them and sucks, and her *eyes* are still closed --

"Jesus, *Tim* --"

And it's more of a whine than a moan, high and lost. She --

She's *shaking*, and his body wants him to know that he can *help* with that, that he can press down with more of his weight, hold her still, hold her *steady* --

Hard. She's *hard* against him, still shaking and so -- Jason doesn't thrust so much as drag himself against her, giving her that friction, giving it to both of them --

And she cries out loud and high around his fingers, grabbing his shoulders and squeezing --

Shaking her head --

"*Please*," Jason says again, and "no, no wait, I'm sorry, I --" He pulls his fingers out, completely incapable of not sliding them wet over her lower lip, but -- "Do you need me to stop?"

"I want -- I don't want --" And it takes a long moment to translate that sound to the cracked and desperate laugh it *is*, and even once he does he has no *idea*.

"I just -- you feel so good against me, under me --"

"*Jason* --"

"Oh fuck *me*, Tim, *please* --"

"K-kiss me --"

*Yes*, and it feels so right to slip his hand under her head, to lift her into it and hold her there while he sucks on her lips, gets them a little swollen, a little soft --

She bites him hard and almost lunges for his mouth, slipping her tongue in under his own and stroking -- coaxing. And the sound she makes when he thrusts into her mouth makes him feel almost disconnected from his own body, or --

Like something just cut *loose* inside of him and now the only thing he can do is thrust against her, drive them together and God, fuck her *mouth*. Had she liked the taste of his fingers? The feel?

Would she ever want to -- just the *thought*, and the images are impossible, sweet and wild, and he groans into her mouth and rolls them until she's over him, because that has to be better, easier --

Something --

And now her hands are on his face, cupping his cheeks and shaking so *much* even as she sucks his tongue. Her weight on him is so good, pressing down where he needs it, and Jason can't stop rocking his hips. She's not really thrusting so much as pressing against him, riding him a little --

His body wants him to know that he can come *just* like this, that all that needs to happen is more of this, and more of the little sounds Tim's making into his mouth.

Little -- like she can't stop, like she's maybe trying to *tell* Jason something even though she's sucking and licking into his mouth just as much as he's doing into hers -- break.

She pants against his cheek and keeps pressing against him, keeps --

"Look -- look at me, Tim. Please -- oh, fuck, you --" She looks almost *hurt* and *definitely* desperate, definitely *lost* -- "Tim --"

"I can't -- you feel so good, Jason. You..." She closes her eyes again and shakes her head, shudders hard and moans, bites her lip --

"That's -- that's all I want. To make you feel good, touch you, taste you --"

"It's so -- so hard, I -- I don't think I know how to *do* this, Jason --"

"It's okay, it's --" Jason turns and kisses her cheek, reaches to cup her hips, hold them --

"Oh -- your hands --"

Jason squeezes and strokes, squeezes again -- "We don't have to do *anything* --"

"Sometimes -- sometimes all I want is for you to touch me everywhere, Jason, sometimes I can't even -- I dream of *you* --"

His turn to buck, almost fucking tip her *off*, and he's holding on too hard now, he *knows* he is, but she's thrusting against him now, and he can guide her, make it right, make it *perfect* --

"I want -- I want my *control* --"

"Not for this, not -- let *go*, Tim, please --"

Another terrible laugh, so rough it sounds like it *hurts* -- "You don't -- you don't *know* --"

"Then *tell* me, I'll listen, I'll -- I *hear* you --"

"Batgirl is the one who gets to have this, she's so much -- she *understands* this, and she knows what to do, what to feel. Her body is right for it, and she's always been --"

"Fucking *hot*, yeah, but so are you, I --" Jason stops thrusting for long enough to sit up, feel Tim straddling his lap, press them *together* --

"Jason --"

"I *want* you, I've wanted you for so long --"

"You want *Batgirl* --"

"Her, too, always, just --" Jason cups Tim's face, gripping just enough to make her stop shaking her head, just enough that they can look into each other's eyes, *see* each other. And maybe he can think a little, put together a few of the pieces --

("She's always a girl for you.")

Just --

("She'll *never* just take what she wants.")

And -- love and fear, all wrapped up together in the body he wants to feel against his own all day and night, all wrapped up with the two of them *together*, because if he pushes too hard and makes her run from him again -- he thinks he'd survive it, but it would feel like ashes, fucking *death*.

"Jason, I'm -- I'm so sorry. You shouldn't have to -- I should be better than this --"

"No. *No*, Tim. You should be *just* like this, because it's you, because it's what you feel. And I -- never mind my fucking *dick*, because you have to know that I'm *grateful*, that it means fucking everything that you'll talk to me, tell me this stuff --"

"I don't -- I don't remember ever knowing who I was."

That -- he's squeezing too hard again, only this time it's her *face*, and Jason gets that she's so far from complaining right now she's in danger of coming out the other side, but --

Coming out. *There's* a phrase. Jason lets up on his grips and strokes her face, tries to soothe -- *something*. But.

"You don't know...?"

Tim bites her lip and shakes her head, once.

His body -- the way they're pressed together -- he can focus. He can -- he *can*. Jason licks his lips and just cups her cheek again, teasing his fingers with the buzz of her hair, silky-fuzzy and warm scalp right there, waiting for a wig... "I think. I think *I* know. Or -- everything I've seen. I can tell the *difference* between you and Batgirl, now, Tim."

"I wasn't -- that wasn't Batgirl --"

"When we sparred. No, not even a little bit," Jason says, and smiles. "It was all you, and maybe a little bit of everyone who had a hand in training you up?"

Tim nods, cautious and slow.

Jason nods back. "And see, I *get* that there's not always a big difference, and that sometimes there's no difference at all, and -- I guess I always just assumed that you had dealt with that, because you're so *good* out there. Never hesitating, never getting all wound up when the assholes called you a bitch instead of an asshole or a prick -- okay, maybe that's not the best example -- uh."

Tim just looks at him for a moment -- but then she snorts. "I -- think I get the gist. You thought I was *okay* with the fact that I spent a good part of my life... being a woman."

"You *are*, though. At least -- at least part of you is, or you'd be a completely different person, Tim. Right?"

"Maybe I'm not okay with the part that's okay," Tim says, and shakes her head. "I'm... I'm your girlfriend?"

It should feel stupid to have her say it like that, or -- no. It should feel stupid that having her say it like that makes him feel so *high*, but it doesn't, and that's all there is to it. "If you want -- hell. There are some really *painful* songs I could quote here, but I won't. Just -- yeah. You are. And I told Babs -- you can correct me any time you want. Maybe you *are* just a guy who's sometimes Batgirl, but..."

"That's not how I -- read," and Tim looks past Jason's shoulders and seems to just be thinking about it, which is impressive considering how hard she is, and means Jason has to keep focusing on more than just how hard *he* is. Still --

He strokes her buzz while he waits, and squeezes her hip a little with his other hand, and just -- enjoys the feel of her.

"It used to just... feel good. I felt free, and happy, and I could play with Babs, and be Dinah's little... little *sister*, Jason. I -- and then I would go home."

Jason winces and nods. "And you were... your father's son."

"I tried to be. Not hard enough, but -- that worked, *too*, most of the time, because if he -- if he wasn't paying too much attention to me... if I wasn't what he wanted me to be, or. Or." And her face is knotting up again, and --

Jason wants to tell her that she's everything *he* wants her to be, that she's perfect and he wants her, loves her so much -- can he? Shouldn't he be encouraging her to *talk*? "Tim..."

"No. I -- no. I know this all makes perfect sense to you. I don't *get* it, but I -- I understand. I'm just the girl who's a fucking *cocktease* --"

"You're a *lot* more than that, Tim --"

She raises her eyebrow, and her smile is a hard little twist of a thing -- "I note that you're not denying that I *am* a cocktease, Jason."

"Uh -- I could --" Something. Jason gives up and laughs. "Look, I *know* you're not doing it on purpose, okay? I don't blame you, and most of the time it just gets me crazier for you, and then you're right here where I can see you, touch you -- fucking *smell* you --"

"Jason --"

"It's *great*, okay?" Jason squeezes her hip a little harder. "Because I know that you're just as hot for me as I am for you. Because you let me *feel* it, and because I know that one day you'll be able to relax, let me *really* touch you -- what?"

She looks sad and hungry all at once, desperate and -- and *sad* --


"What. What if I can't? God, Jason, it -- every time I start to relax a little bit I start thinking of my parents, of the little jokes my father would tell about the gay people who worked for him, about my m-mother and what she'd think if she saw me in a pair of her heels... ah. I'm supposed to -- they don't deserve for me to be like this, and now they're *dead* --"

"Jesus, wait, *wait*, okay? I --" Jason pulls her tight against him and holds on, rocking them a little until he can feel her forcing herself to relax a little for it, feel her feeling *him*, and -- shit. Just -- "I never had to deal with my parents about my -- sexuality. Um. I can fucking *guess* how my Dad would've reacted to the fact that my girlfriend has a *dick*, but I think maybe my Mom would've been -- amused. Happy I had someone who made me feel like you do, Tim..."

"I'm not --" Tim laughs and it shudders her body against Jason's own, and it goes on for a while --

She's crying again, but she's not trying to pull away, and so Jason holds on tighter, tries to think of something to *say* --

"Oh God, Jason, what if I *am* a girl?"

"Then you're the smartest, sexiest, toughest --"

"Jason, *please* --"

"What? Tell me -- tell me what to say, Tim, tell me what you want to know, or -- I can't. I love you. I'm in love with you and I have been for a while, now, and I -- I can't let you beat up on yourself. I can't let you just *hurt*, and I --" Jason shakes his head and turns enough to be able to kiss her cheek, her forehead, and he knows he's holding on too tightly -- he can feel how she's struggling to breathe a little now, but --

He's not letting go.

"You have to know I'll do anything for you. You -- you have so much to deal with right now just with your *parents*, and -- God. This doesn't have to be about sex. You don't even have to try to *think* about sex. We can just hold each other --"

And Jason immediately makes a liar out of himself by moaning at the feel of her short nails digging in against his back, through his t-shirt --

"Shit, *sorry* --"

"No. No, don't be sorry. Not --" She sucks in a breath and laughs again, cracked and low. "You're so good to me. So -- why can't you just *stop*?"

What... *that* -- "You want me to not love you?"

Another laugh, and now she's rocking them, or maybe rocking herself and Jason's just along for the *ride*. "A *condition* or two wouldn't be amiss. Something --"

"Something *familiar*? Jesus -- Tim -- I'm not. I'm not your fucking parents, or any of the lousy fucking friends you've had who made you think you weren't good all on your own, weren't perfect and *right* --"

She gasps and stiffens, and Jason knows -- *knows* that he'd just said the exact wrong fucking thing.

Just -- "Tim, no, I'm sorry, I didn't mean --"

"You *did*. You -- I think I should --" And her hands are between them just that fast, pushing --

She stumbles to her feet, grace entirely absent for a moment until she draws herself up, strokes her palms down over her shirt --

Jason stands up, too, raising his hands when she takes a too-smooth step back, begging with everything he *is* when she starts looking around, panicked and *clearly* looking for something she can do that doesn't involve *him* --

Fuck. "Tim, let me... can we pretend the last couple of minutes didn't happen? I don't -- I didn't even know your parents or your friends --"

"Friends. I -- I have people who played D&D with me. I had -- I could call them up and. Some of them were at the funeral, but what you have to understand --" Another laugh, and she scrubs a hand back over her buzz and keeps looking around, and she rocks up on her toes -- "God, I want my *boots* --"

"Let's go *get* them, Tim --"

"No, no, there's something -- I don't have *friends*, Jason. I never -- I was too wrapped up in my secrets, even before I was Batgirl. They don't know me and they *can't* know me --"

"*I* can know you."

"I don't *want* you to," she says, and she covers her face with her hands, rocks on her toes again, again --

And Jason tries not to feel like she's just hit him, just -- tries not to fucking *beg* --

"That -- came out wrong."

"Did it?" She flinches, all fucking *over* -- "Fuck, no, not again, please Tim, I'm sorry --"

"Don't *fucking* apologize to me until you -- you fucking well do something *wrong* for once, Jason -- Jason --" And she *rips* her hands away from her face, hugs herself hard and rocks *again* --

Lets go of herself and fists her hands at her sides, stares down at the mats, and Jason still has his hands up, still -- he's still *apart* from her, and maybe that's what she wants. Needs? She doesn't want him to know her. She -- "Tell me. Tell me what you meant --"

"One day you're going to know everything, absolutely everything about me. Because that's just -- that's just the way things *are* now. I can't hide from you and I can't run from you --"

"Do you want to?"

"Always. Never. I --" She looks up, then, and there's something in her eyes that's just begging Jason to *understand*, even as she holds herself like -- like some kind of fucked-up weapon that might go off at any time.

But. "Go with never...?"

"It would feel so good if you really -- there's nothing like --" She growls, low and serious, seriously *frustrated*, and Jason catches himself patting the air where she isn't like an *idiot*.

"Tim, it's *okay* --"

"No, I -- I hurt you. A moment ago --"

"It doesn't matter. *Everything* has to be fucked up for you right now --"

"I. I love you."

"I -- oh." Jason lowers his hands and tries to think, tries not to just -- the grin that's all over his face on the *inside* wants out, but --

"I'm afraid of you. Fucking -- fucking terrified, because. Batgirl is supposed to be *strong*, and care deeply for Robin, of course, Robin is *important* to her, Robin is her partner, her friend, but maybe not her best friend, because there's Batman to consider, to be considered..." Tim shakes her head, crosses her arms and rises up onto her toes for a moment. "Possibly I'm babbling --"

"I'm listening," Jason says, and takes a step closer. Just one -- and another because she doesn't back away, because she *loves* him, she'd said it, and that means everything else has to be okay *somehow* --

"One day you're going to *know* me," she says again, and smiles ruefully, painfully --

"I already feel like I do," and he can keep his voice quiet, a little soft -- he can move *closer*, until she has to look up to meet his eyes, maybe have something physical to focus on instead of everything ripping her *up* inside --

"I don't want. I don't want to lose you, Jason."

"You won't --"

"You don't *know* that --"

And he has to cup her face again, hold her head still so she can look into his eyes --

"Oh. Jason, please --"

"You love me --"

"Yes --"

"You *want* me --"

"So much. So -- all the time, and when I was alone last night -- I --"

Jason kisses her hard, sucks the sharp little noise she makes into his mouth, strokes her cheekbones and licks, sucks -- yanks himself *back*. "You -- you don't know how many times I've jerked off thinking about you, how many -- I can't touch anyone else, can't even think about anyone else without needing *you* --"

"I -- I can't."

*Fuck*, he's doing it *again*, and maybe he's the one who should be wishing for control, because -- because. Jason nods and backs off --

"No, *don't* --"


Reaching for him and shivering, *wanting* --

Jason pulls her against him and strokes her buzz -- "I'm right here, I won't -- I'm right here for as long as you want me --"

"I just meant. Sometimes I have a hard time... masturbating," she says, so quietly it's almost not even a *whisper*, and --

Did she just say that? Really? "You -- you don't jerk off?"

Another laugh, and he really wants to hear her laugh when she's actually *happy* again, just *please* --


"Sometimes it just." She's looking past his shoulder, biting her lip... "Sometimes I can't stop myself. Sometimes I just... against the sheets, or."

Jesus. *Jesus* -- cope. "It doesn't... feel right?"

"I don't. I don't know. Oh, God, I can't believe I'm *saying* this --"

"No, it's good, it's --" Jason squeezes her against him and tries to imagine what he'd be like if he couldn't deal with his own fucking hand -- or his own dick. "Okay, it's really fucked up --"

Another laugh, and she kind of beats her head against his shoulder. "I know it is. I guess I just don't feel... like myself. When I do it."

And the hurt -- it's huge and it's -- it's fucking *impossible*, like maybe if he tries to swallow he won't be able to get *past* it -- "Is that -- is that why you freaked when I touched you there?"

"Yes. No. Sort of. I don't -- I really don't know, Jason, and perhaps you can see why I don't feel very *smart*," she says, sharp and *angry*, but he knows that it has everything -- and nothing -- to do with him.

Jason sighs and cups the back of her head, strokes her back. "I'm not -- I'm nothing *like* an expert about this stuff, but I... I think you *have* to go with what feels right, whatever it turns out to be."

And she doesn't say anything for a while, just rests her head against his shoulder and holds on, maybe tries to feel him and only him --

No, that's what *he* wants, and -- wouldn't it be easier if she was a guy? If she could... if *he* could -- Jason doesn't know how it works, and what he wants shouldn't matter. *Doesn't* matter, so long as he can have... her. All of her, just like this, and a part of him -- he knows himself.

A part of him needed *just* this, for all that she wasn't exactly cradling his head against her fake breasts when he was screwed up and angry all the time -- she was.

She just *was*, with every smile and every tease, with every *demand* that he get out of his own head and be with *her*, if only on rooftops and in alleys. He *needs* to be this for her, to give this back and *take* it for himself --

He's so fucking *greedy* -- She sighs. "Tim...?"

"I love... I love being beautiful for you, Jason. That feels. That always feels right."

Jason shivers and clutches her, turns and kisses her ear until she's shivering, too. "You always are."

"No. I mean --" This laugh sounds a little better, and --

"I'm still listening."

"Maybe if I could... maybe if I wasn't Batgirl when I -- ah. I couldn't help noticing the... disguise closet."

Jason blinks and pulls back a little, just enough to see her face. She's smiling ruefully and she keeps looking *away* -- and blushing. "I... hey. I could *help* you with that --"

"No," she says, looking at him again, and the smile gets harder. More... more. "Let me. You just... I've already kept you from training for quite some time, and I -- let me?"

Jason wets his lips with his tongue -- she looks at his mouth and blushes more. "You just want me to... I'll. Uh. I'll hit the free weights and kind of not look in that direction for a while?"

She smiles a little wider. "Thank you. I -- thank you," she says, and pulls back.

Jason nods and keeps nodding -- stops and just takes one more moment to look at her like this, flushed and tensed, cheeks wet -- "You know -- it's *going* to be okay," he says, and thinks about feeling *completely* lame --

She raises her eyebrow -- and points toward the free weights.

"Heh. Noted."

He goes, and does his level best to focus on his curls and extensions, really -- really focus, and not listen to the small sounds from over *there*, and not think about what beautiful means to Batgirl --

She likes being beautiful for him, likes --

That doesn't really sound like just being beautiful, full stop, but he has no idea how to parse that out into something that'll *just* make sense to him. Just --

So many *pieces*. Fucked up parents who had no idea what they *had* in her, and he gets that they couldn't ever *have* an idea, that it wouldn't have worked if they knew, but... still. Never takes what she wants, which means that she'd never pushed them, never tried to give them *half* a reason to look at her --

They shouldn't have needed one. They just -- no. He'd told her that his mother would've understood, and he believes that, but he hasn't told her anything about those papers that he'd found, once upon a seriously fucked up time.

Adoption papers. He -- he hasn't even talked to *Bruce* about that. He doesn't know if Bruce *knows* that somewhere out there is the woman who actually gave birth to him, and maybe the man that had knocked her up in the first place, too.

For a while he'd been all set to grab some of Bruce's plastic and head out *looking* for her, been all set to throw everything away just for a *glimpse*, because it had to be better than the fucked up life he was living, and maybe was going to die in. Or worse.

No -- he'd *used* Babs to feed that nasty thing inside himself that was maybe born the first time Bruce had looked at him with doubt on that balcony. A dead man far below and that aching *itch* that was nothing and everything like hunger, that thing that made him -- *let* him be an asshole to Bruce and Alfred and avoid even talking to Babs, who really was *still* alive, thank you very fucking much --

He'd been ready to run like a coward, and never mind the oath he'd sworn to never do anything of the kind. And then...

And then.

Hell, maybe he's using Tim, too. Maybe he really is *just* that greedy, just that selfish -- he's not looking over. He's just -- she doesn't want him to, and he's not going to look.

Maybe this is a -- surprise-that-really-isn't. Maybe this is just something *she* needs --

She loves him. She really -- Jason gives up and smiles, fucking grins and hopes he wouldn't look too creepy if something freezes his face this way --

She loves him, and that means it *will* work out, and they'll eat together, fight together, *be* together --

And it's not that he didn't know she could move like a ghost when she wanted to, but he still jumps a little when she sighs from --

Right there.


The first thing he thinks is: the breasts are too big.

The next several things he thinks boil down to several different varieties of 'whoa,' because she's standing there -- the dress --

The *heels* --

And Jason's standing up before he can think, *moving* for her before he can think --

"The lipstick's not --"

"Not Batgirl's, no. I -- this is. I think it's more. Ah."

Jason nods dumbly and reaches out -- doesn't touch her face. The makeup is too perfect, too -- it highlights those sharp cheekbones, makes her eyes look wider and *older*, and her mouth -- Jason swallows. "It's -- your shade. Yeah."

The smile is only sharp until he meets her eyes again, and then it's just --


"I... wasn't sure about the wig, but at least it's the right color..."

Black, like her hair. Thick, though, and too long -- Jason shakes his head and licks his lips. "Take it -- take it off?"

She looks down. "I thought... it seemed to. Complete the look."

Which -- okay, he can see why she'd think that. Cocktail dress, falsies probably built into the strapless bra she's wearing. Stockings and high heels -- matching the blue of the dress.

And now that he's paying a little more attention -- it's not quite the *right* blue, and of course it isn't. This is something *Dick* had to wear, once upon an -- again -- seriously fucked up time. And she's kind of... peering at him from under her -- staggering -- lashes.


"Do you --"

"You look incredible. You look -- I want to take you dancing, maybe to one of those godawful parties Bruce is always dragging me to. I want -- we can --" Jason licks his lips again. "Please take the wig off?"

She frowns. "It really -- it bothers you?"

Jason sighs and just -- touches *lightly*. Just her cheek --

She turns into the touch and kisses his palm --

"Tim..." His voice is rough and fucking *needy*, but she's right there, she's -- "Beautiful. Just..."

The laugh is a little brittle and wild, but it's real, and -- she pulls the wig off, and now she looks like a model, a little strange and --

A different kind of wild. "Yeah. Yes. You -- uh."

She's looking down again, but the smile on her face is soft and kind of solid, *real*, just like at the table earlier. She spins in the heels -- strappy and *dangerous*-looking --

"Jesus, *baby*, I -- uh."

Tim raises her eyebrow and the smile gets sharp -- "The age difference really isn't all that... dramatic. Jason."

And Jason's blushing, *just* like that. "Sorry, I -- uh. I plead -- blood not reaching brain. Do you... do this? Often?"

"Sometimes Batgirl needs to go undercover. You know that."

"Yeah, but -- Jesus, are there *pictures*?"

This time, the smile shows teeth. "If you're *very* nice, Babs might provide video," she says, Batgirl to the bone -- or.


She looks away again, but only for a moment -- "Still me. I. You're very... inspiring."

"*I* am? You --" He looks at her, looks her up and down... long legs made longer by the heels, slim and sleek -- "No way Dick looked half as great in that as you do?"

The makeup doesn't hide all of her blush, but it makes it -- milder, somehow. Sweeter or --

"Dance with me?"

The frown is more *bemused* than anything else. "Ah... to what?"

Jason grins. "*Pretend*," he says, and offers his hand.

She takes it, and for a moment he just has to feel her calluses, the hard strength there -- and then he wraps his other arm around her waist, forces himself to only pull her close enough for the music in his head --

She tilts her head to the side, sharp chin up, and Jason turns them slowly, trying to focus enough on just *one* slow, sappy song, or -- no, all of them at once, because it's enough just to be moving with her, just to feel the hand he's not holding settle on his shoulder.

She's still smiling at him, letting him lead like Batgirl never, ever would, and she never misses a step. It's --

Maybe this is every time they've ever fought back to back, or flown patterns through the Gotham sky playing tag. It's all of that, and also just the fact that they can *be* this for each other, that *this* is what beautiful means to her right now, but he can teach her a dozen, a hundred other ways.

He gives up and pulls her closer, and she rests her head on his shoulder, tall enough to turn and whisper in his ear if the mood strikes her, or if she just wants to let him hear her breathe.

He wishes he *wasn't* still hard, because this isn't about that, or it shouldn't be. He wishes he could look at her like this and not just want to lay her down somewhere --

A bed. He wants a bed, softness she can sink into, kisses in the dark --

He wants more of *this*, especially the feel of his fingers sliding between her own, spreading them as they press their palms together, their bodies together --

"Am I allowed to ask what you've got on *under* that dress?"

Another blush, and he does *not* slide his hand down to cup her ass --

"I mean, I can guess about the bra...?"

"Mm. Not my usual... size. Barbara convinced me that I should go with something more proportionate to my frame."

Jason nods and turns them again, starts dancing them slowly around the bench. "It would've been overkill, I think."

"Mm. I wanted to be as much like *her* as possible. Sometimes... sometimes I still do."

"It's not like I don't get *that*," Jason says, and dips her --

She laughs and tilts her head way back --

Jason lifts her again and lifts her hand, letting her spin... "Sometimes it used to kill me that I couldn't move like Dick."

"You move like *you*," she says, squeezing Jason's hand and shoulder.

Nice kind of emphasis right there. Jason smiles and dips his head. "Subtle as a fucking tank and twice as hard, baby --"

"Baby. I -- *really*?" *Both* eyebrows up, and it just makes it more important to keep looking into her eyes, try to see past the liner and mascara, the *very* lightly done eye-shadow that goes so well with the rest of the look --

"Uh... honey? No, that doesn't sound right --"

Tim snorts and shakes her head. "And 'baby' does. Right."

Jason grins a little wider and brings her hand to his mouth, kisses her scarred knuckles, *feels* them with his lips and watches her watch him, lips slightly parted and eyes just *focused* -- "I promise I'll only call you that when I can't help myself?"

Tim hums and jabs him -- lightly -- with those knuckles. "I have faith in your ability to control yourself."

"Really? Because *I* don't."

They laugh together, and it feels as good as anything, feels absolutely perfect, and Jason thinks there ought to have been someone Tim could have this with. Maybe not the dress and the dancing, but the *feel* -- and he knows she's feeling what he is, that it's just that good for her, too.

Jason turns them into a stop and just looks at her, stays right there and feels her in his arms, brings their twined hands down and squeezes, leans in --

The kiss is soft and as quiet as one of her smiles, and it goes on for a while. Jason lets himself taste her lipstick, just for the dozens of Batgirl memories to make things sharper and a little heavier. Tim wraps her arms around his neck -- pushes her hands into his hair and holds on, not yanking or anything.

He doesn't ask her if she likes the way his hair feels, but only because that would involve not kissing anymore, and -- yeah, not so much. She's coaxing his tongue into her mouth again, and Jason thinks of all the times when Robin's had to push and shove and growl to get Batgirl to open up --

All the times when Robin's been shocked *blind* by the slip and slide of that sharp little tongue into *his* mouth --

Of course Tim kisses differently, even if Jason really doesn't. Maybe these are the kinds of kisses she *really* wants, more than anything else... she sucks his tongue lightly and scratches at his scalp, and it's still slow, still *quiet* --

Jason pulls back enough to suck on her lips, nibble lightly --

She pulls back more. "Ah. Jason."

Frustration and just a little actual *pain* -- yeah, he's been hard for kind of a while, and what *is* she wearing under there? Bruce had never made him dress up like a woman... had he provided gaffs for Dick? Jason shakes it off. "Too much right now?"

"I think..." She smiles, rueful and small, and slips her hands out of his hair to his shoulders. "We should both be training."

And how much did she get to train when her parents were alive? How much were they *around*? "Yeah, I -- heh. Probably," Jason says, letting go of her hand so he can stroke her sides, feel her through the dress --

Tim sighs and covers his hands, squeezes them before pushing them off --

"May I have this dance?"

Bruce, close enough to take them both out without breaking a sweat, and never mind *how* he'd managed that, because he's Batman.

"Uh --"

"Oh, I -- I should probably... um. Put these clothes back where they belong --"

"Oh, hey, no, Tim," Jason says, and Bruce says --

"Not yet, please," and cups Tim's shoulder. Bruce is smiling at both of them -- but *mostly* at Tim. "I never expected anyone to make use of those clothes by *choice*."

Tim's expression -- it's somewhere between embarrassment and panic, and -- yeah. She's probably thinking she's trespassing or something. Jason catches one of her hands again. "Hey, *don't* worry. Bruce has to get his jollies *somehow*," and he makes sure the laugh is all *through* his voice --

And Tim blinks rapidly and looks at him questioningly for a moment before turning to face Bruce.

Bruce nods once and raises his eyebrow. "You wear them well, Tim," he says, and strokes lightly down her arm to the hand Jason *isn't* holding. "Please."

"Ah. Well." Tim laughs and looks down at her feet, maybe thinking about the polish that matches *Batgirl's* lipstick shade, and a part of Jason is only wondering if they have polish that matches *Tim's* shade, and if not when they can get some.

Those *heels* -- focus. He can do that. A little. He squeezes her hand again. "Hey, usually I'd be kinda pissed about a guy trying to cut in on my action --"

"Your -- action. Jason," Tim says, and it sounds a lot like "*really*," and also "don't make me *hurt* you*."

And Bruce is looking at him like he'd just pissed on the centerpiece in the dining room... but also like he's just one good push from laughing out loud.

Jason grins at both of them. "You should see him at those parties, Tim. Gliding one brain-dead debutante after another across the floor..." He uses his free hand to mime the dancing. "Come on, give him someone *good* to dance with."

"I'm hardly -- ah. I'm not a very experienced dancer," she says, and the blush is getting deeper, taking away the years the makeup gives her --

"Perhaps," Bruce says, and lifts her hand, "you would allow me to teach you."

And that -- there's more there than just this moment, and it's kind of... if Bruce starts training Tim, *too* she'll be fucking unstoppable. It's just that there's also more than *that* there, like maybe Bruce is a little... something.

Jason remembers that one insane moment when he'd wondered if Bruce could want her, and that's -- she's young. Younger than *he* is, and also Bruce really *isn't* that kind of guy --

But the way they're looking at each other right now kind of makes Jason wonder if he *should* be worried. Not that Bruce would ever *do* anything, but -- he's Bruce, and it would make all *kinds* of sense for Tim to find him -- 'attractive' doesn't really cut it.

Jason shifts on his feet -- and Tim turns to look at him again, smiling and... asking. And that -- there's only one possible answer. Jason lets go, backs up a step, and makes an 'after you' gesture --

And Tim laughs briefly and lifts her free hand to Bruce's shoulder, tossing the hair that isn't there and raising an eyebrow.

Bruce smiles and nods once -- "Just... feel."

"I -- all right --"

And Bruce -- pretty much shows them both how it's *done*. He's completely smooth -- more so than when he's being Bruce Wayne, and a part of Jason thinks that's the most painfully obvious thought he's ever had, but really --

Just -- *smooth*, and gliding was absolutely the right word for it, because they're hardly making a sound -- just the whisper of the dress against those stockings -- and that just means the imaginary music is louder, and maybe the imaginary other guests, too.

She's so *small* next to Bruce, and so perfect, like jewelry would be too much, like *hair* would be too much --

And Bruce sees it. He just -- he has to, and he's *enjoying* himself, and --

Of course he is. Anyone *would*, and he's teaching her the steps by doing them, or -- no. He'd told her to *feel*, and Jason can *just* see the way he's tensing lightly every few moments, signaling her when there's going to be a turn, or a change --

And then Bruce speeds up, starts getting the kind of fancy which would make people clear a space on the dance floor --

"Oh --" And Tim laughs again and follows his lead, quickening her steps and smiling so *much*.

She's --

Jason sits down on the bench and just -- watches. He gets to see Bruce happy pretty often, all things considered. He gets to see him laugh and *make* him laugh, but he doesn't get to see that happen too often with *other* people. Once or twice when Babs was still Batgirl, a few times when Alfred said something *just* that proper and mean --

Things are better than they *had* been between Bruce and Dick, but not good enough yet that he really wants to ask what happened to make Dick not be Robin anymore. Serious fucking *minefield*, there, and he is *not* stupid. The strain there -- not *enough* of it is gone for Bruce to ever seem really happy when Dick's around, except for those times when Dick is teaching Jason new tricks and they're fucking around with each other.

This is -- different. And part of it is the fact that they've never really had a girl around for any serious length of time, and Bruce just *has* to be getting off on that, no matter *how* confused Tim is about herself, but... yeah. Part of it's just Tim, and those little smiles. The shyness and the *correctness* and those little moments of humor and happiness even though she's twisted up with hurt.

Bruce *likes* being around teenagers, and he's *good* at it, and -- yeah.

So maybe Jason is a *little* jealous, but so long as he's not too sure who he's jealous *of* --

It has to be okay.

Plus -- it's fucking fantastic to watch. They really *will* have to go to one of those parties like this. They can pretend they left Tim Drake home if Tim doesn't want to out herself just yet, and she can dress herself up *just* the way she likes and be... Jason's date.

Not Bruce's. Dammit. Jason laughs at himself and shakes his head.

And watches the show.


Tim seems so determined to strip down in front of them both that it's impossible to be sure whether Jason's supposed to/allowed to watch or not. He settles for taking a few glances as the dress comes off, the bra with the built-in falsies, the --

Panties. Plain-looking, really, except for how there's no sign whatsoever of what's *really* under them, which means it really *is* a gaff. It makes Jason a little uncomfortable on purely male and mostly brain-dead levels, but -- she wasn't hard under there, and she really does *have* to be used to it.

Better to focus on those garters, lacy and tight around her thighs -- which probably *are* about the same size as Dick's when he was around her age. It's easy to forget how *built* those thighs are when taken against the rest of Tim, and he wonders if it was Babs' choice or Tim's to focus her training that way -- no.

*Whatever* Babs would've wanted, *Tim* would've wanted to be able to do as many of Babs' signature moves as possible, and that means serious lower-body strength.

He knows, now, that Tim pads her hips for Batgirl, and that *does* make the thighs seem more proportional than they are --

Okay, this isn't really a glance, anymore. Jason blushes and looks up -- and Tim is smiling at him a little cautiously, like maybe she's *still* not sure that Jason likes what he sees. And that -- well. Jason's not *very* hard, anymore, but it's easy enough to shift, spread his legs so she can see the bulge in his shorts --

And blush. And smile with a lot more confidence. Jason smiles back and turns to Bruce --

Turns to see Bruce watching him and looking *seriously* amused. Jason blushes and shrugs and Bruce nods once and goes back to changing out of his suit into his own workout clothes.

Jason works the free weights a little more and wonders if Bruce has anything specific planned for him today. It's been a while since he's worked the bag, but he pretty much has that down. It's usually something he saves for when he's too tired or distracted to do anything else, or when something in the Gotham night makes him need to *punish* something that won't bleed.

He could maybe get up on the pommel horse for a while, work on keeping his strength from out-stripping his agility...

Does Tim ever use the pommel horse? She *has* good upper-body strength, but pretty obviously never pushes it too much. He could see that when he was spotting her last night, and... yeah. Chances are, whether she's thought it out or *not*, she doesn't want to fill out all that much.

Her body type suggests that she never really would no matter what she did, but Batgirl has to look a certain way. He's willing to bet that it's even more important to Tim than it would be to Babs.

Another glance -- Tim's chalking her hands and going for the bars, and *that's* something he really wants to see, so --

"I'm gonna hit the bag, Bruce."

Bruce nods and tapes his hands. "Not too long. You've been neglecting your flexibility work."

"Heh, got it. But I'm gonna need a good forty-five minutes before I'm up for any splits, B."

Bruce laughs softly and glances at Tim -- she's up and moving, and isn't paying attention to her hormone of a -- boyfriend.

Or Bruce, either.

"Noted," Bruce says, and leaps easily for the bar and into the first of what will probably be some impossible and intimidating chin-ups. "Try not to let it get out that I'm such a soft touch."

Jason laughs and positions himself to get the *best* view of Tim just -- flying. "I think your secret's pretty safe."

Bruce hums and doesn't say anything else, and Jason starts beating the crap out of, oh... the last stupid, stupid asshole who'd said something nasty about Batgirl while Jason was there to hear him. There goes his nose, there goes a couple of ribs... heh.

They work out quietly for a while, Tim eventually moving to do katas on the mats while Bruce works the weights, Jason dutifully stretching himself into something that can move and bend the way Robin needs to. He's the only one who makes any noise when he's working out -- it just *feels* better with the occasional grunt and sigh -- and he has to admit he'd been hoping that Tim would make little sounds here and there --

Just as he *also* has to admit that if she did he'd get pretty much nothing done.

Alfred brings a meal down for all three of them after about an hour, and they eat together at the conference table Bruce had put in about a year ago that pretty much only gets used for this.

Bruce clearly *wants* Dick to come over more often, to discuss things with him and -- hell, he probably has all kinds of plans about things Dick could be doing in New York when he wasn't working with the Titans. Maybe Jason should call him in, talk to him about -- skirt *around* whatever the Big Nasty is --


And Tim is eating lightly, but she does take a little of everything, and she doesn't look too queasy, and Jason only spends a little while thinking of laying her out on a couch somewhere and feeding her little bits of whatever would make her make pleased noises -- noises, period.

Bruce finishes first and looks at Jason for a long moment, until Jason raises his eyebrows. Something on his face makes Bruce smile again and look to Tim, who is drinking juice and just -- being quiet. Calm and steady.

It's not awkward like it was this morning, and so Jason doesn't really feel like he has to say anything. Tim feels *comfortable* after that workout, and maybe after everything else, too, and Jason's perfectly content to be quiet with her, if that's what she wants.

After another moment, Bruce reaches out and covers Tim's hand. She doesn't stiffen or tense but she does kind of *pause* a little before setting her juice down and raising her own eyebrow.


Bruce pats Tim's hand. "Would you like to see Barbara tonight? Alfred would be happy to drive you if you didn't want to take a bike."

*Her* bike -- is still at the Clocktower, and that's one of the facts spinning around Jason's brain as he tries not to blurt something about how Tim has to stay right *here* --

"Oh, that would be..." Tim looks down at Bruce's hand over hers. "I wouldn't want to --"

"I trust you with both my vehicles and my valet, Tim," Bruce says, and that's absolutely a laugh.

Tim smiles and looks up again. "I -- yes. I'll take a bike, since you don't mind. I have to admit I've always... admired your vehicles."

Bruce hums. "Perhaps you could help Jason and me with the maintenance."

That gets a smile with *teeth*, and Tim looks at Jason with real *excitement* --

That -- "Oh, man, you never said you loved working with the cars and bikes, *too*," Jason says and grins right back at her.

"Barbara wouldn't let me use *my* bike until I knew what I was doing, Jason --"

"That's different and you *know* it, Tim --"

"And, to be honest, you never really expressed that sort of interest in *my* interests... when it came to what happened *inside* the vehicles in question," she says, and her smile is hard and a little *mean*.

Which -- okay, yeah, mostly he's wanted to bend her *over* her bike, but *still* --

Bruce smiles like he'd heard every last thing she'd almost said and Jason hadn't said at *all*, and that's perfectly right and normal, even if it's a little weird to be not-talking about sex in front of *both* Bruce and Tim.

Jason shakes his head and -- he has to. "You're coming back tonight, right?"

Tim blushes and the smile gets quieter -- and Jason can practically *taste* Bruce telling him to ease back on things a bit, but --

"I mean, sure you need to see Babs, but --"

"I'll come back," she says, and Jason -- relaxes.

And Bruce pats her hand again and pulls back, leaning back in his chair and smiling at both of them with his eyes.

"I mean. I -- I do *live* here now, Jason," and she's protesting a little, and probably -- *definitely* Jason deserves it.

"I -- sorry. Just... I guess I'm already used to you."

"As am I," Bruce says, standing and -- pausing to rest a hand on Tim's shoulder. "You will always have a home here, Tim. I understand that it's difficult to consider right now, but please try to remember it, just the same."

Jason tries to keep the wince off his face. It's not that Bruce was laying it on any harder than he was, but using the word 'home' right then...

Yeah, Tim's looking down again, and the smile looks *fixed* on her face in the moments before she lets it slip and nods, once.

Bruce squeezes her shoulder and moves for the console without another word or look, and everything about him says that he trusts Jason to make this okay, that this is part of what their partnership means.

"Hey --"

"I'm -- all right," she says, and he's expecting her to give him a fake smile, maybe even make it look like Batgirl's, but -- she doesn't.

Is it better if she just keeps looking at the table? *Most* of him thinks so, even though he can't really say why, for sure. Jason shifts his chair closer to hers and puts an arm around her shoulders. "Of course, I probably shouldn't be torturing you with my stink --"

"I like -- the way you smell."

Jason grins. "So do I shove your face in my armpit or just sit here thinking about all the ways we can get stinky *together*?"

Tim's mouth twists and she laughs, brief and not *quite* entirely amused.

"I mean, if I'm going to start trying to think of you as a guy --"

"You aren't," Tim says, and turns to look at him, eyes sharp and focused and just a little cold. "You can't. Can you?"

Jason smiles ruefully. "I can *try*."

Tim nods once, and yeah, that really *was* all the answer she needed. She takes another swallow of juice and then leans back in her chair, tugging on Jason's hand so it falls on her chest a little bit more. "I'm your girlfriend."

"We could... find a better word?"

Tim shakes her head and the smile is still a little cold, but --

It's not for him. "Tim..."

"I was just thinking... no, it doesn't matter."

Jason strokes her collarbone through the t-shirt. "You could let me be the judge of that."

"I *could*, yes, but I think -- I think I've maybe hit a wall with how much I can whine to you today, how much I can --"

"Lean on me?"

"I know --" Tim's voice cracks a little, and she looks up at the fluorescents, blinking and -- blinking. "I know you'll never let me fall."

"*Good* --"

"It makes me feel worse, a little. You deserve someone who can *cope* for more than five minutes at a time, Jason. And no, don't -- don't say any of those good and sweet and perfect things to me right now, because if I cry any more today I'm going to have to stab myself in the eyes."

"Is it -- how about I just keep holding you?"

This smile is warmer, but... "I don't think -- I don't think I could give that up. It will be good to see Barbara tonight. At least -- at least I know she's used to my mood swings."

"I -- man. I was *wondering* why Bruce just came *out* with that, but... yeah, he's really kind of good at knowing what people need."

Tim nods. "I was a little obsessed with Batman and Robin before I discovered Batgirl and... kind of lost my little fan-- fanperson mind. Dreamed about them, wished on them... I probably would've prayed to Bruce and Dick if my parents had ever... if they'd ever treated religion as anything but opiate for the great unwashed. It's a little strange to realize that Batman and Robin are just as perfect as I thought when I was *three*, but... well. Maybe *Dick* will turn out to be a terrible person...?"

Jason nods solemnly. "He rapes puppies. Like, daily."

Tim -- splutters.

Jason smiles innocently.

"Oh -- God. I. God. I think I need to lobotomize myself now," Tim says, and starts to stand --

And doesn't fight when Jason tugs her back down. "The pain means it's *working*, baby."

"*Baby*. Jason, you --" Tim shakes her head and laughs. A couple of tears roll down her cheeks, but the makeup is good enough to stand up to it, and Jason can just pretend he didn't see them.

"So you... how old *were* you when you figured out everyone's identities?"

"Nine," Tim says, wiping at her cheeks absently. "By then I was just -- there needs to be a stronger word than 'obsessed.' I was constantly finding ways to get into the city, to be around the Gordon residence... and of course getting out at night to get pictures of everyone. I even went to New York once or twice."

Jason nods. "I'd like to see them one day."

She smiles at him. "I'm hardly a professional photographer, Jason."

"And I'm no art critic, but -- I want to see what you saw. See what you *see*."

"Oh... oh. Well. Perhaps sometime we can go to the Clocktower... together. The pictures I have of you... well. Even with Barbara's access to training and street footage..."

Jason shifts until he can bump her shoulder with his own. "Yeah...?"

She smiles again, and blushes under the makeup. "I spent a lot of time with them once I... once we'd met, out there. I would trace the line of your jaw, sometimes. Your mouth."

Jason shivers --

"Oh -- sorry. I didn't really mean to -- I'm not --"

"No, I know," Jason says, and squeezes her. "Just... I was thinking about how Bruce had files on you from the beginning, and how I just wouldn't *let* myself look at them --"

"Oh. Never?"

Jason smiles at her and brushes her cheekbone with his thumb, drags his fingers over her chest. "I wanted you to tell me. Show me. I knew you would, one day."

"Oh. Oh," and her face twists *hard*, and she's biting her lip --

"Tim, no, what's wrong?"

"I treated it like a *game*. I --"

"It *was* a game. I just hadn't *won* yet --"

"You loved me and I --" Tim shakes her head and this time she *does* try to stand up, tries to get away from him --

He lets her stand, but *doesn't* let her get away. He holds her against him -- "It's okay, it's really *okay*. I would've been *fine* with you running from me and teasing me --"

"I knew *you* and you didn't --"

"Batgirl is *supposed* to be a little mysterious. And a giant cocktease."

That gets a shocked laugh out of her and Jason strokes her back, holds her tighter -- "We just -- look, we're fucking *kids*, Tim, and we had to have at least *one* game, *I* had to have at least one game or I would've gone bugfuck."

"And now -- there's no more game."

"We'll make a new one. I'm kinda liking 'Tim dresses up and makes Jason cock-stupid for hours.'"

"Jason," she says, and hugs him back. Her breathing is a little rough, but he doesn't think she's crying again and -- okay.

Okay. "Okay?"

She nods against him and sighs, breath warm and damp through his t-shirt. "Do you really... want to take me shopping?"

"There are probably a bunch of boutiques we could send your measurements to, make you the most fashionable chick in Gotham. And -- I'm *not* saying I don't also want to see you in jeans and t-shirts or chinos or whatever else you want to wear. I just think that it won't be long before Bruce and I are fighting over who gets to dress you up *when*."

Another laugh, and Tim pulls back enough to look him in the eye. "Bruce's resources are... impressive."

"And so is his *determination*. Seriously, I think you came close to blowing his *mind* in that old dress of Dick's."

"I really do hope there's some footage somewhere of Dick in that dress. Just -- for comparison. The breasts alone..."

"Yeah, I don't know. Maybe the mission called for a *rack* -- I try not to *ask* those questions, because getting the answers might involve *me* in a get-up like that."

Tim's smile is distinctly *measuring* all of a sudden, and she makes a little sound --

"Oh, hey, no, I'd look *ridiculous*, Tim --"

"Confidence is everything, Jason. If you *believe* you can pull it off... well."

Jason snorts. "Confidence and a sweet little body like yours... heh -- fine. If it would get you off? I'd shove myself into a fucking tutu and flounce around my stupid fucking high school at lunchtime. With ribbons in my hair. That *doesn't* mean I'd look good doing it."

Tim looks away -- and smiles again. "I -- don't think I'll need anything quite that drastic."

"Hey, say the *word*." But... hunh. "Would you tell me how you knew you wanted to be Batgirl? You're so... you're *not* confident all the time, or even all the times you should be."

"Just because I'm not confident about *you* -- no, I was about to lie to you," Tim says, smiling ruefully and pulling back. She looks around the Cave, seems to pause a little at the sight of Bruce typing away at the console... And when she turns back to him, she looks wry. "It's not entirely my secret to tell, so... go with it when I kind of gloss over things?"

Jason nods. "Sure."

Tim nods back. "When I read about Babs being shot, that she'd been paralyzed... I kind of lost it. I had to go see her, I had to know if it was really true, if there was any hope. She was so *important* to me that I couldn't really think about what being shot meant to *her*. And so one of the first things I said to her was that Batgirl had to keep going, had to *exist*, and she -- was less than impressed with my reasoning.

"She kicked me out. And I -- she didn't *understand*. That's what was going through my mind -- that *she* didn't understand. So I kept going back, and I showed her my pictures, and I begged, and I lied to nurses about being her cousin... I wasn't thinking about being Batgirl myself, but I was *dreaming* about it at night and waking up -- desperate. Hungry. Every night she wasn't out there -- there was something *missing*, Jason."

"Yeah, there really was. I -- you really weren't the only one losing it. It felt like the universe had played a nasty fucking joke --" Jason shakes his head. "Keep going."

Tim takes his hand. "I'd been taking karate classes, going running every day... running to the hospital with my backpack full of photographs. I guess it wasn't really... maybe I should've expected it when she said 'fine, *you* be Batgirl,' but I really didn't. And I... it was like something opened up inside of me, like the world was a different place from the one I'd always thought it was...

"And she was so angry, so *hurt* -- I wanted to show her it was possible. I wanted to... well. I broke into her house when I knew the Commissioner wouldn't be home. I -- I *searched* her house for hours until I found her cache of uniforms and equipment --"

"You stole her *uniform*?"

"You have to understand, Jason -- I don't think I had a *forebrain* that whole week. I don't even know how I -- I mean, I'd read a lot of books about picking locks, and sleight-of-hand, and I had... a lot of free time..." Tim's laugh is high and sharp. "Anyway... she laughed. Hard. A lot. To the point where I could *see* it hurting her. And then she told me how many push-ups I had to do that night, and how many miles I had to run."

Jason shakes his head. "I -- wow. And you did it."

"And kept doing it, and... eventually, I found out that she'd started the plans for making a training space in the Clocktower after the *first* time I went to her. Sometimes I wonder who she would've chosen if it wasn't me. Sometimes... sometimes I wonder if I ever got my forebrain *back*, because -- well, it *is* crazy. It's just that it was also the only thing I *could* do, the only thing that made any sense.

"Confidence... confidence really didn't come into it, at all."

And that doesn't sound entirely *right*, but it's more because he can't really picture himself in the same situation -- can't even *remotely* picture himself in the same situation. "Jesus, I... Batman picked me up in an *alley*."

Tim smiles. "In which you were busy boosting his tires."

"Have you *seen* the tires on the car up close? Do you have any idea what I would've gotten for those things?"

"Mm. Hardly the all-weather radials you can pick up at House Depot, no."

"*Exactly*," Jason says, and grips her waist. "What do you think you'll do tonight?"

Tim looks down and then up again, smile *almost* steady on her face. "Call up old photos on the servers, try to convince Barbara that Batgirl needs taller heels --"

"I really *like* the ones you have now --"

"Mm, with the retractable knives, yes. Tricky to get them *to* retract while I'm in the middle of a brawl, though."

"You never seemed to have any trouble that *I* could see."

"Well," Tim says, pushing up on her toes and -- twisting away from Jason's grip. "I had you to hold things down while I got them back in place."

Heh, well... Jason gives her a little Robin stalk. "You know I got your back."

"Sometimes a girl needs her own space," and it *is* still Tim -- he can see that in the ruefulness behind her eyes, but --

"Sometimes a girl could *use* a guy ready, willing, and able to make a space *for* her," Jason says, and this is where there's a wall behind Batgirl, and he can plant a hand and loom a little. The fact that there isn't a wall doesn't keep Tim from stopping and tilting her head back, and -- yeah, they're playing now, and it's *not* going to go anywhere, but that doesn't mean Jason can't cup her waist again and -- "Any kinda space you want."

"Mm. What about one with no -- grasping young boys?"

Grasping... heh. Jason grips a little harder and strokes with his thumb. "I'm not that young."

"You're hardly an adult," she says, and flexes her abs just a little, just enough for Jason to feel her not moving away, not fighting like she *can* --

"Is that what you want? A nice, old --" Daddy. Hell, no. "Someone big and strong who could hold you in his arms all night long...?"

The smile slips just for a second, but she visibly fucking *hauls* it back -- and looks over her shoulder toward Bruce. "The benefits seem... obvious."

Tim *and* Batgirl, and for a moment Jason feels a little ganged-up-on, but... "See, I get it. They can buy you pretty things, keep you in those cute little shoes..."

And the trainers might as well *be* spikes for the way she's standing in him, rotating one leg back and forth...

"Trust me, baby. You'd get bored in that big house with nothing to do but play with your... toys."

Up goes the eyebrow, and now she's laughing behind her eyes, laughing hard enough that she's clearly struggling to hold it *back* --

And yeah, Jason has to grin. "You *know* I'm right."

"Do I...? Do you have a *lot* of experience with rich old men...?"

And she tilts her body just *so*, making it almost necessary to sight along her to Bruce, still working -- and how fucking wrong is it to be talking like this with him right *there*? Jason snorts and raises his free hand. "I give, I *give*."

He's expecting a mean little smile of triumph, which makes it strange that her expression is so -- thoughtful. Hunh.


"I..." Tim stands straight and covers the hand Jason has on her waist, pushing gently --

Jason lets go and steps back, raising his hands --

Tim laughs. "Hardly -- hardly *that*, but. Thank you."

"You're welcome," Jason says, and winks at her to get --

Yeah, that smile. One of the ones he used to... not *dismiss*, really, but they weren't the smiles that heated him up and drove him *on*.

Now that he knows that they're the *real* smiles, the ones Tim keeps for *Tim* -- and for Jason, too -- well. "What were you thinking?"

"Some of the things you've said about Bruce, about what you thought about him at first..."

Jason laughs ruefully. "Yeah, well -- you can take the hustler off the streets, but... I just never realized that *men* like Bruce really did exist, and it took me a real long time to get used to."

She nods slowly and doesn't *quite* look back at Bruce again, but it's there. She's thinking about him, and that makes plenty of sense. He's her *guardian*, now, if not her father -- and here's hoping he never gets that bright idea, because Jason really seriously doesn't want to be dating his *sister* -- and he's Batman, too.

The fact that Batgirl never really belonged to Batman in any way... well. Babs and Bruce get *along*, and pretty obviously care about each other. Obvious even though he's only seen them together a couple of times. They *respect* each other, and it must feel, for Tim, a little like meeting family she'd only ever heard about in stories, before --

Tim shakes her head. "I have no trouble... I can see why you care about him so much."

"I really kinda love him. There's -- no one like him in the world, and I'm pretty much the luckiest guy in the world to get to work with him every night."

Tim smiles again -- "I think he probably feels pretty lucky, too."

Seizing inside, just -- because she's trying to compare apples and oranges, and also because. She loves him just enough to think he's that *good*, and he *is* good, but -- damn. "Tim --"

"Now you know how I feel, pelted with compliments every time you open your *mouth*," she says, and she's laughing --

Jason blushes. "Yeah, but you --"

She raises a hand. "Why don't we go with the mutual admiration society thing, for now? I know Barbara cares about me, and she's... from the first day I trained with her *there*, she's made me feel welcome."

"Yeah, well... anyone with a brain *would*. I bet you would've made a fucking *killer* Robin."

*That* makes Tim laugh at loud, and Jason can see Bruce shifting from over Tim's shoulder --

Bruce is smiling at him, and maybe he's been paying attention all along and maybe he *hasn't*, but for now Jason kind of has to bask. He'd made Tim laugh *and* Bruce was there to see it happen. It's possible that a victory dance wouldn't be too out of order, and also -- "Well, you *would* have. The acrobatics, the nerve strikes --"

"Your boots *wouldn't* be improved by the addition of high heels, Jason."

And how about you think about the fact that you immediately went *there*, instead of thinking about being Robin as a boy...? No, he's not going to push. In the end, she doesn't *need* him to. "Maybe not, but you'd fucking *rock* the little shorts," he says, and makes a point of looking her up and down...

She switches her hips. Once, twice --

"Wow. *That's* gonna be playing on repeat in the back of my mind --"

Tim snorts and backs off a step. "I doubt Bruce would be as amused by my choosing *those* clothes as he was by the other."

*Amused* might not be the word for it, no, but... Jason shakes himself like a dog. *Those* images he doesn't need.


"Uh -- just my dick taking over my brain for a minute, there. No big."

She *looks* like she wants to ask how, but -- she also looks like she doesn't want to push him that way, which -- after *this* afternoon he kind of appreciates.

"I'm fine," he says, and reaches to stroke her cheek. "Gonna take that off before you head out?"

"I think -- yes. Sometimes Barbara likes to 'forget' to remind me to wash my face before I go. Ah."


She holds up a hand. "Not a game we're going to play tonight, I don't think. Besides, I haven't moisturized thoroughly in a while," she says, brittle and light.

Jason nods instead of pushing -- anything.

"In fact... I think I'll go do it now," she says, and the smile she has for him isn't totally fake, and --

That has to be enough, for now.

He watches her wash up at the sink over by their little medical area, and she actually *does* grab some moisturizer from the disguise area. It makes him wonder what her bathroom had looked like in her parents' house. They were rich enough for her to have her own pretty much from the get go, and... no. It probably didn't say a thing about her.

Maybe if she didn't keep her hair buzzed for the wig she would've had some nice shampoos and conditioners, but even those would've said 'rich *boy*' more than anything else.

And -- right. He has more flexibility work to do, and he doesn't have to watch her changing into jeans more than a little bit.

He still catches himself sighing when he hears the bike start up. It'll be at least another hour or so before he and Bruce head out for patrol, and then...

Well, probably she'll come back before it gets too late. Oracle has her own things to do, and --

And Tim probably spent every hour she *could* at the Clocktower before her parents had died. There are probably tons of things for her to do there that don't include training, and when, exactly, had he started needing her to be right there for him all the time?

Hell, she's *supposed* to spend a lot of time with Babs. She's not her partner or anything like that, and Batgirl isn't *really* a Bird, but -- yeah. He really has to cope.

It helps when Bruce comes over to push him a little harder into his stretches, silent and ruthless. This has always been the hardest for him, even more than the few acrobatic tricks he has to work with. Those at least let him use his power as much as anything else, and Bruce has never tried to make him push it too far...

Heh. Jason bends over his right leg and holds it, letting Bruce ground him with a hand at the center of his back, guide him a little --


And of *course* Bruce can feel the things he isn't thinking or saying. Jason grins. "Just thinking of my early training. I used to get really... really kind of *upset* that you didn't teach me some of the tricks Dick could do."

"Your body type --"

"Really *wasn't* right for it, yeah, I get that. I'm not bitching at you," Jason says, and bends down between his legs. "It's just that for a long time it seemed like you not teaching me that stuff was just another way for you to tell me I wasn't *good* enough."


"It took a real fucking long time to get that it was *okay* that I'd never be Dick, that's all."

"I never would've wanted..." Bruce sighs and pushes on Jason's back half-absently --

Jason drags another inch out of the stretch and tries to focus on his breathing.

"I'd hoped I made it clear that I wanted you only for yourself."

"Yeah, well... to be honest?"

Bruce taps Jason's back with his fingers, and it's absolutely another kind of nod.

Right. "To be *honest*, you could've made big neon signs with that written on them and put them up all over the Cave, and I still wouldn't have *believed* you."

"Hm. Noted. But... how *did* you come to understand?"

"The street. The *night*. Being out there with you, having your back night after night... suddenly all the things you *were* teaching me made sense, and I could... I guess I could see where I *fit*."

Bruce sighs again and taps him out of the stretch and into the next one. "No one could ask for a better partner."

Heh. Well... "You're the one who'd know, B."

"Your trust is, as ever, deeply warming, Jason."

"Oh, don't do the Alfred voice while I'm all pretzeled, B, it *hurts* to laugh for that --"

Bruce hums, and -- engine.

Is she coming back already? And okay, he's *supposed* to still be doing his stretches, but the fact that Bruce's hand isn't on his back anymore is *enough* permission to sit up --

It's not the right engine. Hunh.

"Did Dick say he was coming over today?"

"Not," Bruce says, and stands, "to me."

Which... okay, maybe Dick wouldn't -- pretty much all of his visits have *been* out of nowhere, including the one when he'd showed up just to drag Jason off for a ski weekend of all fucking things --

Dick pulls in and the bike is barely *stopped* before he's off the bike and tearing off his helmet. "Jason! Jesus, I thought I wouldn't *see* you --"

What? "I'm right here, Big Bird, what's up?"

"I --" Dick shakes his head and practically *runs* over to where they are on the mats, cupping Jason's shoulders and squeezing. "Is everything okay? You're not hurt or anything?"

"Uh -- I'm fine, what's wrong?"

"What's --" Dick laughs humorlessly and *glares* at Bruce, who's standing right there, waiting patiently -- "Where is he? This -- *who* is he?"

"Dick... if you're referring to Tim --"

"Yes, Tim *Drake*, and I have to read in the damned *paper* that you've got a new ward? Where did that even *come* from? *Are* you planning to kick Jason out?"

Jason blinks. "Whoa, seriously -- whoa. Ease off, Dick, it's not -- it's *really* not like that," and Jason twists free and grabs Dick's hand --

"I know how he *operates*, little wing --"

"He kicked you *out*?"

"Why am I *not* surprised that you didn't tell him, Bruce?"

And Bruce kind of looks like he's going to be sick, but -- Jesus. Jason shakes his head. "Bruce, uh... I think you need to explain a little here, because --"

"I wasn't..." Bruce fists his hands at his sides and stares at the floor. "There's nothing I can say to excuse my behavior with Dick. My reasoning, however --"

"Reasoning. Right," and Dick couldn't be more fucking *derisive* without actually spitting on the floor. "We're *not* talking about me right now. Where the hell is this Tim?"

That's -- okay. That's something Jason can *answer*. "She went to see Babs for the night, Dick --"

"She? She who?"

Oh... hell. Bruce has an eyebrow raised in that way that kind of screams 'serious internal amusement' even though he's still looking kind of grey, and --

"*One* of you has to tell me what's going on, here," Dick says, and he's glaring at both of them now --

Yeah. Jason scrubs his free hand through his hair. "Ah... Tim. Is a she. Kind of. Mostly? Tim's Batgirl, Dick."

Dick opens his mouth -- and closes it again.

Jason blows out a breath. "Uh -- yeah. She's been... her parents just died, and Babs didn't really have the space for her, so she's living with us now."

"In my grand-aunt's room," Bruce says quietly, and flexes his fists once, again --

Dick looks like his eyes want to cross. "Wait. The new Batgirl is a *guy*?"

Really -- uh. "The new Batgirl is Tim Drake, Dick. That's not -- that's not really the same thing," Jason says, and Bruce nods once.

Dick looks back and forth between them like he's thinking they're trying to run a game on him or something --

"Really, Dick. I -- you actually just missed her by a few minutes."

"Her..." Dick blinks and turns to face Jason completely. "You told me you were 'kind of' *dating* Batgirl, Jay."

"Well -- yeah. I'm... uh. I'm actually in love with her."

That makes Dick grin, sudden and all over his face, all over his *body* --

Jason grins back -- and watches the confusion fall over Dick again like a damned *curtain*. "Dick --"

"You're gay? Batgirl is -- gay. A guy, who's gay --"

"Jesus, Dick, you can't tell me you've never met a tranny before."

Bruce frowns --

"Sorry, Bruce -- a trans person," Jason says, and squeezes Dick's hand. "Seriously, Dick --"

"He's -- she. I need to meet him. Her. She's going to the Clocktower?" Dick tugs against Jason's grip --

Jason squeezes harder. "Uh -- maybe not now? She's kind of -- she's all fucked up over her parents, and she kind of needs her space a little right now."

Dick frowns. "I *have* to meet -- her. I can't believe I've gone this long without..." Dick shakes his head. "Tim and Babs are close?"

Jason nods -- and Bruce nods, too, even though Dick isn't looking at him.

"Just -- how *old* is she, anyway?"

"A little younger than me --"

"Fourteen," Bruce says, still quietly, and...

Wow. Jason had known she was younger, but... she must've been kind of *insanely* young when Babs had gotten shot --

Breaking into the *Commissioner's* house -- Jason shakes it off and watches Dick doing a little of the math himself. He can tell Dick's doing it by the way his face looks a little *pinched* --

"Young. Just --  *hell*."

Jason shrugs. "Dinah, Babs, Richard Dragon, and -- Catwoman. All training her."

Dick nods slowly and tugs his hand away from Jason. Starts to pace around them in a circle, chews his thumbnail -- "How are her acrobatics?"

"Selina taught her quite a bit," and Bruce is watching Dick almost warily --

"And Dinah would've taught her a lot of the really *nasty* things, I --" Dick pauses and stares at his thumb like he's wondering how it had gotten wet. "I really have to meet her," he says, flat and low.

"She'll be back tonight," Bruce says, and reaches out slowly. Dick lets Bruce put his hand on his shoulder, but tenses kind of hard. "She won't be patrolling."

"Because she's still..." Dick shakes his head. "I saw that thing about the Drakes on the *news*. I --" He turns to Bruce. "You were there?"

Bruce nods. "I failed."

Dick winces. "You did -- if anyone could've gotten them out of that, it would've been you, Bruce. You -- you know that."

"Dick... I want to apologize to you --"

"No -- wait. No." Dick shakes his head. "You -- you're not going to change the subject *and* throw that at me. Jesus, first you tell me you were fucking *lonely* and now -- no."

Jason raises his eyebrows and thinks seriously about backing the fuck *off*, because this is something he really hasn't been a part of and doesn't want to be, but -- hell. "Dick --"

"It's okay, little wing. Let the big boys fuck up all over the place. We're *good* at that," Dick says, sighing and starting to pace again, twisting away from Bruce's grip on his shoulder --

Bruce reaches again -- "Dick --"

"I'm not -- I get that you're feeling extra sane and reasonable at the moment, Bruce, and that's nice -- it's *good* for you -- but I'm nowhere near ready to talk to you about what you did to me."

And Jason thinks he's maybe wincing *for* Bruce, because Bruce is just standing there staring -- no, he's *wanting*, really loudly, and the mess between Bruce and Dick makes even less sense than before, because --

It couldn't be more *obvious* that Bruce misses Dick and wants to be *okay* with him again, even if they can't be partners anymore. Why the hell would he kick Dick *out*?

"Uh -- guys --"

Dick sucks in a breath. "Sorry, Jay, I -- sorry. This has nothing to do with you, and you don't need the drama at all."

"Yes," Bruce says. "I'm -- I'm sorry."

"Look, you guys don't need to apologize to *me*. I'm the only one here who's actually being *sane* right now --"

"Jay, it's not -- it's not *simple*," Dick says, reaching out --

Jason catches his hand again. "I *get* that Bruce fucked up *bad*, but he's really -- it's not like he's not ready to fucking *crawl* for you right now --"

"I don't want him to *crawl* --"

"What -- what do you want, Dick?"

And Jason wants to wince again, because Bruce's voice is so *full* -- but he thinks maybe Dick can hear it this time, because Dick closes his eyes and *grips* Jason's hand.

Jason glances at Bruce, expecting to see him boring holes into Dick's back with his eyes -- but Bruce is looking at *him*, and he looks --

He looks almost *young*, and hungry, and lost, and a lot like those kids Jason meets out there who need Robin like air, so -- okay.

"Dick? You -- you've got a really *good* chance here to be --"

"Big about it? Forgiving?" Dick opens his eyes, and they're almost Nightwing hard -- until they aren't. "God, I... Robin makes things better, little wing?"

"Robin fucking well *tries* --"

"Even when Nightwing doesn't," Dick says, sighing and squeezing Jason's hand *hard* before letting go and standing straight.

*Now* Bruce is staring at Dick --

"I'm still not ready to talk about it --"

"Dick --"

Dick puts up a hand. "Easy, Jay. I -- I didn't say I wouldn't *ever* be ready to talk about it. Heh. Does she do this for you? Soften up those edges? Where's that pissed-off little punk who set my skis on *fire*?"

Heh. "I told you that was an *accident*, Dick," Jason says, raising his eyebrows --

"Yeah, and I trusted that *almost* as far as I can throw -- Bruce," Dick says, and looks back over his shoulder at Bruce. "I -- I'll chew on the fact that you want to apologize. That I can do. Okay?"

Bruce nods, and he's barely fucking blinking --

Dick nods and turns to Jason again. "Can I at least check out Tim's room, or are you going to try to protect *that*, too?"

Fucking Bat-family traditions. Jason snorts and gestures to the stairs. "Not that I think you'll find anything. She's not exactly... well. You'll see."

Dick raises an eyebrow and looks between Bruce and Jason for a moment. "Batgirl isn't supposed to be *subtle*."

"Yeah, well... Tim kinda does her own thing," Jason says, backing off and starting the process of convincing his body to loosen up and relax. He's going to *need* Bruce to help him with the upper body stuff at this rate.

"Right, okay, and can I just say that you're making me want to *interrogate* the love of your life, Jay?"

"Don't -- don't tease," Jason says. "It's serious."

Dick puts up his hands. "Okay, okay. God, if I'd gotten to live with Babs when *she* was Batgirl --"

"She would -- perhaps -- have been tempted to push you down a flight of stairs," Bruce says, and he's absolutely laughing a little.

"Ooh, now you're getting *mean* again. You *must* be feeling better," Dick says, and heads for the stairs. "I'm staying in Gotham tonight, so why don't you figure out where I'm working...?"

"Noted," and Bruce doesn't turn to watch Dick moving up the stairs. Bruce --

Bruce is watching him kind of *seriously*, watching *for* him, almost, and it's this huge thing between them, like Dick had brought in something massive and serious and left it there. Still... it doesn't have to be there. Jason waits until Dick's out of earshot --

"I get it, I think."

"Do you?"

Bruce's voice is all full again, and it feels a little like the first time he had to save people from a fire all on his own, like maybe this is something just as huge as the lives or deaths of a dozen civilians at *once*, but -- he can handle it. Jason stretches his right arm --

And Bruce is right there to brace his shoulder and make the stretch better.

Jason nods. "I don't really -- I don't know what made things so bad between you and Dick that you thought you had to... get rid of him, and I don't think I really need you to tell me, because I know it *won't* get that bad between *us* --"

"Jay. I -- thank you. And no, I would never... I was dangerously immature and -- I acted like a spoiled child --"

"I'm getting that, too, but just -- listen for a second?"

Bruce tightens his grip on Jason's arm and shoulder -- he nods.

"Okay. It got bad, and it's *still* bad, but you're not the same person you were then -- I can tell by the way Dick talks about you when he *does* talk -- and you *get* that it's a good thing you're not, and I... you need me."

"Very much." And Bruce's voice -- it's almost *small*. It's that low, that *quiet*.

Like -- like Tim. Jason sucks in a breath. "You need me to help smooth things over, and maybe for a bunch of other things, too, and I just -- I'm here. Okay?"

"Jay..." Bruce shakes his head. "Partner."

Jason smiles. "Yeah, *that*. Even after I'm too old to be Robin anymore, and -- whatever. Just remember that and we'll be fine."

Bruce's smile is small and almost looks painful -- there's still so much in his *eyes*. "Noted, Jason."

"Okay," Jason says, and switches arms. "First thing: the next time Dick brings up the big fucking mess between you? I don't care if you're bleeding out and half of Gotham's on fire -- talk to him. Tim and I will handle everything else."

"I've neglected... so much." Bruce nods. "I see your reasoning."

"Good. That's pretty much the big thing right there, the rest is actually listening to what Dick *said* today. You really *hurt* him, and for a while I thought that it was more mutual than that, that you guys had just ripped each other up over something..." Jason shakes his head. "Whatever, you fucked *up*. And even if your reasons were good, like maybe you thought it was time for him to branch out or be with the Titans more or something... you hurt him."

"I -- betrayed the partnership."

Jason shrugs in the stretch. "You were all he had for a long time. Just like how you were all *I* had for a while."

"It can be easy to... not forget, not that, but..." Bruce shakes his head. "He didn't seem to need me, anymore. I had become... addicted to that feeling."

And that's... really a *lot* --

"I'm sorry, you didn't want to talk about this, and there's no reason why you should --"

"No, Bruce, it's okay. You need *someone* to talk to about this until Dick is ready to hear it from you. It's just... pretty big. I don't really think of you needing all that *much*, period."

"Just you...?" And Bruce's smile is sharp and much, much older than Jason ever thinks he'll be.

Jason laughs. "Dick was -- your closest friend after things got bad with... with Dent?"

And Jason can see gratitude there. Every time he doesn't just say 'Two-Face' or 'that fucker who murdered my father.'

It's something he doesn't much like to think about, but it would be impossible not to *acknowledge* that need in Bruce right now. "I mean... him and Clark?"

Bruce nods. "I -- I *hope* it must seem difficult to credit, but I came to depend on Dick a great deal. And when he started to drift away..."

Jason pushes out of the stretch, thinks about it -- lifts his hand to Bruce's shoulder. "The Titans became his other family."

"Yes. I grew jealous. And I let that jealousy rule me. When I *did* realize that it would be better for Dick if he had more independence, I resented it a great deal."

And Jason... he can see it. Bruce is a *good* man, strong and kind and everything else, but Jason has always been able to see that young thing in him, that -- that *thing* that lets him have such young partners and to be so much *better* at it than the other members of the League. It's just that it's a double-edged fucking sword. "You let it fester."

"Until I exploded. And took Dick with me," Bruce says, and reaches up to cover Jason's hand with his own. "I... you made Tim laugh, today."

Changing the subject *hard*, but... Jason smiles. "I think I'm getting the hang of how to be there for her."

Bruce nods and steps away. "You will, I think, find it even easier with time. Certainly, she's determined to make things easier for *you*."

"Yeah, I... of all the things I would've expected her to be..." Jason laughs and shakes out his arms before crossing them over his chest. "I thought I'd have to make her fall for me. I had a plan and everything."

"A plan to make her love you, Jason?"

"Okay, mostly it was a lot of images of playing tag with her and telling stupid jokes and kissing her blind."

"Hm. I've seen worse planning."

"From *me*, even," Jason says and looks around. "Can I stop trying to bend myself into a new shape and work the bag a little more?"

Bruce inclines his head. "But you'll run an extra mile for me tomorrow."

Jason salutes. "You got it, bossman."

And Jason has barely made a start on beating Harvey Dent into a bloody smear when he sees Dick jogging down the stairs out of the corner of his eye. Bruce is back working at the console -- he's got several Gotham maps up on the screens -- and Dick goes to join them, and at least they can talk well enough about the Mission that they can figure out what Dick's doing tonight.

Maybe they'll even work together for a while -- no, probably not. Batgirl hasn't been on the streets for a while now. Chances are, Bruce will direct Dick to that territory. Dick...

The thing is, he *really* should've known Batgirl before now, or at least known *about* her. It's not like he doesn't visit Babs from time to time, and while he can see Babs having her reasons for not bringing Tim up -- including wanting to see Dick's face whenever he found out -- Dick still should've sought her out on his own.

She wears the *Bat*, and Dick is *still* part of the family -- or his domino wouldn't look like that. If she hadn't found him, he would've tracked her down if he'd had to camp out on the roof of the Clocktower.

Of course, Dick had worked with Babs for years, and he was probably tons more messed up about her getting shot than Jason had been... he doesn't know. He thinks Dick will *like* Tim -- maybe enough to send Tim up a wall, because Dick doesn't do like in *quiet* ways...

Well, if he gets too pushy, Jason will put a muzzle on him. Or try.

After a few minutes, Dick comes to hold the bag for him, and Jason focuses on beating the hell out of it.

"Just so you know, I *did* find one interesting thing in -- her room," Dick says.


"Heh. That t-shirt I bought you up in the Berkshires. Either she's been up there herself, or..."

Jason *sleeps* in that t-shirt when it's the kind of winter night when he can't stand to be under the comforter. It should be in his drawer... "I... where was it?"

"In the night-table. *Not* with her other clothes. And -- I didn't *see* any girls' clothes?"

She took a t-shirt and keeps it next to the bed. She... Jason grins and crunches up the Riddler's face a little. "She must've done it when I was patrolling last night. Little *sneak*."

"Mm-hmm. What would I have found if I searched *your* room, hmm? A lock of her hair?"

"She keeps it buzzed so the wig won't make her sweat too much. I -- wow." Maybe she sleeps with it. Maybe --

"Come on back to me now, little wing. This bag won't pummel itself. Where *are* her pretty things?"

"Hunh? Oh, she doesn't have any. Her parents didn't know she was... well." Jason gives the bag a flurry, another -- "I think maybe she'll let me take her shopping."

Dick whistles and starts moving the bag a little, making things more challenging -- "You want to *shop* with her? You *do* have it bad."

"I swear, Dick, I love you, but if you say *anything* that makes her even a little bit *upset* --"

"You will cut me open and hang me by my intestines. *That* I picked up," Dick says, and jerks the bag just far enough left to turn a rib-breaking punch to a graze.

Jason growls under his breath and focuses --

"What's she like?"

"Uh. Right now? She spends a lot of time trying not to let the grief take over. I don't... in some ways I'm just getting to know her."

Dick frowns -- makes the bag *lunge* for Jason --

Jason dances back and tries a few kicks --

"Ooh, nice extension. And -- there's more to her than just Batgirl, then?"

"One whole hell of a *lot*," Jason says, beating the bag back and back -- beats the fake right Dick tries and keeps working. "She's a lot *quieter* than Batgirl is --"

"She'd almost have to be if she's any kind of --"

"She really, really is, Dick. And you should've known that by now."

Dick's expression is pained and not very well directed *at* him -- "Jason, I -- I couldn't."

Jason shakes his head. "Not like I don't *get* it, but if Babs could -- and she *did* --"

"I should've been able to deal, too. I -- heh. So she's a lot like Babs out there."

Jason grins and thinks about rooftop-tag, about following her bike to bike, ripping through the empty streets at ninety-plus while she whispers dares into his ear -- "She really took the *meaning* of Batgirl to heart, and... man, you should see what she does in those *heels*."

"Kept the heels. I -- I *knew* that, but I still can't -- the sheer *number* of times Bruce tried to talk Babs into something more practical --"

"They're pretty well reinforced now, and there's a lot more ankle support, but -- man. Tim and I were sparring today, and she never once acted like she *wasn't* in the heels. And she would've fucked me up pretty badly if she had been."

"Catwoman, Black Canary... yeah, I can see it. But -- quiet, how?"

Jason frowns and goes back to the kicks, working on his balance and speed against Dick's little tricks. And -- he doesn't really know why he's keeping so much to himself. Dick is -- well, he's the closest thing Jason's ever had to an older brother, complete with the constant bruising, stupid jokes, and suicidal recreation activity -- those fucking *trains* --


But. Jason shakes his head --

"C'mon, the more I get outta this interrogation, the less likely I am to screw up and say the wrong thing."

Which is nothing but the truth, *but* -- Jason sighs. "She spent a lot of time thinking about us. Our -- family. *She* knew who Batgirl was -- and who we were, too -- and she *went* to Babs."

"I --" Dick shakes himself like a dog and holds the bag steady for a while. "Yeah, I'm just gonna -- go with that."

"That's *my* plan," Jason says, and uses the opportunity to try a somewhat experimental flurry -- more uppercuts than his usual, along with a truly devastating -- if he does say so himself -- left cross.

"So -- smart. Obsessive. Passionate."

"Sweet. Shy --"


"That's what I *said*," and Jason starts bringing a little more power, a little more speed --

"Okay, okay. So I should kinda... take it easy on her."

That -- that's not right, either. "She's not gonna break if you throw her in the middle of a bunch of 'bangers and tell her to get to it."

"*Not* what I meant," Dick says, and starts moving the bag at speed.

This is actually a little dangerous. He's not wearing his gauntlets, and if a punch lands badly he could easily fuck up his fingers or his wrists.

They *won't* land badly, and --

Dick is watching him curiously -- a little cautiously, too. "Okay, so I'm kind of protective as hell. She's just -- really important to me. She's done a lot *for* me, and now it's..."

"Your turn, little wing...?"

Jason nods and wraps it up with one of his standard flurries, flowing and following the bag until Dick stops and claps it twice. Time out. Jason steps back and reflexively checks his knuckles, making sure they won't bleed and stick to his gauntlets tonight --

"I remember when you didn't even bother to tape them without someone sitting on you."

Jason smiles. "I learned. Eventually."

Dick hums and takes Jason's hands in his own, rubbing over Jason's knuckles with his thumbs --

"I'm *good*, Dick --"

"Yeah, you are," Dick says, and when he looks up his eyes are serious and kind of deep. "I would've done my best to beat the hell out of Bruce if he'd replaced you the way... the way he did me."

Jason's stomach twists, and he knows it's all over his face by the way Dick just keeps looking at him so *seriously* -- "I get -- I get why you were freaked, Dick --"


"But -- I think he's different now. I think... I think he kind of learned that lesson."

"*He* learned a lesson. That's -- that's new," Dick says, laughing and letting go of Jason's hands.

Jason lets them fall to his sides and closes his eyes for just a moment -- if he doesn't think and kind of reaches out with himself, all the senses he has -- yeah. Bruce is over by the cars, Giving Them Space. He *always* does when Dick is around, and now when Tim is around, but it's still different this time. And when he opens his eyes, Dick is staring off into the distance and basically singing a damned *aria* about how he's thinking really, really hard about Bruce.

About the bad times.

"I'm not -- I'm not apologizing for him --"

"I know that," Dick says, sighing and making a mess of his hair. The tie is off-center now and --

Okay, leave it. "Man, if I had hair like yours -- I wouldn't last a fucking *hour* with hair like yours. I'd be shoving my head under fucking lawn mowers."

That gets a laugh out of Dick -- "I can't say I've never been tempted. I just... I spent a lot of time with perfect little good-boy hair when I was Robin, and I'm not -- quite -- ready to give up my little rebellion."

"Heh. I'm trying to convince Tim to grow hers out a little. The red wig is great, but..."

Dick's smile is sharp and *knowing*. "Want a little something to grab hold of, Jay?"

And that image... her hair is thin, fine. It would be like a little cool wave over his fingers, and he could --

Dick snickers and Jason flips him off.

"Fuck you, man. Like you *didn't* spend hours every night trying to figure out what Babs' hair felt like."

Dick sighs dreamily and tilts his head back, clutching his hands together and grinning like an *idiot*. "What I *wouldn't* do for a *touch*..."

Jason snorts. "Okay, *now* you're fucking with me --"

Dick holds one hand out, fingers pinched together. "I've *been* there. Everyone wants Batgirl. The few times the Titans worked in Gotham back then -- I honestly thought Babs was going to break Roy's fingers."

"Heh, okay, I can see it --"

"And Wally was using his speed to be an *ass* that day -- she got him with the marble trick. *I* spent the whole time trying to be worldly and suave..." Dick grins again and shakes his head. "I'm pretty sure Babs was ready to give up on males entirely by the end of the mission."

"It *would* kinda explain the Birds."

"Honestly, I -- *do* you think Tim will be okay here? If she's really... well," Dick says, and his gesture takes in all of the Cave. "Babs was always pretty clear about saying that this place wasn't the most woman-friendly space in the world."

And Jason thinks of Tim changing, and the way it was just that *hard* for her after all that time changing in front of Babs and probably the other Birds -- or maybe just that hard *period*. She'd *done* it, and been okay eventually, or would've been if Jason hadn't fucking *jumped* her --

"Hey, are you okay?"

Right. Just -- right. "I think part of me maybe wants her to be a guy for some things. Or maybe just a different *kind* of girl. Or -- I don't know. I don't like thinking about the idea that living here could be *bad* for her."

"Because you really -- *really* -- want to live with your girlfriend. I get *that*, but... it could get kind of hard if you guys ever broke up --"

"Dick, man, *living* arrangements wouldn't be my worst problem if she broke up with me."

Dick moves in and cups Jason's shoulders. "And I get that, too, because you're really, *really* in love, and... well. I'm just saying that it might not be *all* bad if she *did* live with Babs."

"I know -- I know. I don't *wanna* know, but I know. I'm just -- not going to deal with that right now?"

Dick smiles ruefully and nods. "Okay. That's completely fair. And maybe it was *time* for this place to have -- a woman's touch."

"*Go* with that," Jason says, reaching up to tug hard on Dick's elbows until Dick lets go and throws a punch --

Jason rears back away from it, kicking out --

Dick dances back and gives Jason time to stand straight again, throw a few punches of his own --

Blocked, blocked -- *caught*, but Dick doesn't have the leverage to throw him, so Jason can yank him close --

"Ooh, tough guy --"

And aim a punch at Dick's eye --

Dick spins away, using those ridiculously flexible shoulders to *good* effect --

Jason chops down for one with his free hand, goes for Dick's ankles --

And Dick is out of reach just that fast, grinning and weaving a little, still as impossibly *light* on his feet as ever, and Dick *always* makes Jason feel heavy and fucking *unwieldy*, but if he can close --

Jason drops under a fucking *sudden* spin-kick and uses the little flexibility he has to kick out for Dick's down ankle --

"*Don't* fuck your groin --"

"Hey, don't worry, I've got *plans* for it," Jason says, rolling away from the double-strike Dick aims for his shoulders and getting back up again. Dick has the reach --

"*Naughty* Robin," Dick says, and *uses* his reach to keep Jason at a distance. "What *would* Batgirl say?"

Block, block -- can't catch him, *can* move inside those kicks -- "*Batgirl* likes it when Robin's a little dirty --"

*Block*, because Dick is striking and punching for him at fucking *speed*, moving in like he doesn't *care* that he's in Jason's territory --

He *is* just that good, which means he's good enough for Jason to get a little mean, a little of the *other* kind of dirty. Jason *stomps* at Dick's toes, waits for Dick to spin --

Grabs him by the hair and *yanks* him into what would've been a *good* punch if Dick had let it land, taking three to the body before Dick drops a little and *tackles* Jason --

They roll and push and strike and roll some more, Dick going for pins Jason *used* to be too weak and slow to evade --

"*Good* --"

"Yeah," Jason says and tries a throw --

Dick leaps off and away, which means he has less than *no* time to get back up before Dick --

Strikes for the back of Jason's neck, letting Jason feel the *wind* of that one -- "*Damn* --"

"Should've kept me down for a little longer --"

"Got it," and Jason rolls up, closes again. "I didn't get enough hits to your body to slow you down --"

"Just right," Dick says, and he's far enough away to use his kicks, one after another until Jason kind of *wants* Dick training Tim, using that flexibility, that lower-body *power* --

And he just manages to rear away from one that would've clipped his nose -- strike and he grazes Dick's calf, just enough to make Dick not *quite* stumble --

*In* and he goes for Dick's moving shins, blocks a knee *hard* -- "Oh, I hope you use *that* --"

"When they're stupid enough to try that when I'm this close --"

"Cocky, *cocky*. Batgirl like that, too?"

Tim's *dick*, hard in his hand, not quite twitching for his touch -- Jason dances back before *his* dick can get him in trouble --

"Oh, little wing. You're *adorable* --"

"*Eat* me," Jason says and goes back to blocking more kicks, waiting for his chance to close again, waiting --

"Nightwing. Robin."

They stop with Dick up into a kick, Jason's arm midway through knocking it back... Dick grins at him and stands down, and Jason does the same, turning to look back over his shoulder. "Yeah, Bruce?"

Bruce has that one really almost *scary* smile on his face, the one that always makes Jason think of those times when Bruce has given him a really *nasty* new weapon, or taught him something he can only use on the street if he's about to *die* --

Dick laughs. "C'mon, Bruce. How often *do* you watch when Jay and I are messing around on the street?"

Bruce raises his eyebrow at Dick and *doesn't* lose the smile. "Do you really have to ask?"

Another laugh and Dick pulls the tie and shakes out his hair. "Yeah, yeah, *got* it. You have *all* the best vigilante toys. What's up?"

Bruce looks at Dick for another long moment, long enough that Dick loses a little of his smile and starts to tense --

And then Bruce nods toward the conference table and -- Alfred, with the pre-patrol snack for the three of them. Has it been *that* long? "Wow, I didn't even realize I was getting hungry again," Jason says, just a little louder than he needs to --

Dick shakes off his tension and smiles at him. "You always did love a good fight more than *anything* else."

Jason waggles his eyebrows. "I wouldn't say *anything*."

"Ooh, and somehow that reminds me -- Kory says hi."

Heh. Oh -- Kory. "Leer at her for me a little? I just don't have the chops for it these days."

Dick snorts and throws an arm around Jason's shoulders, leading him toward the table. "You *can't* tell me you've lost your adorably pathetic and worshipful lust for my girlfriend. I'll have to see if Tim's *drugging* you."

Jason punches Dick lightly in the side. "I didn't say I *lost* it. I'm just -- focused."

"*Obsessed*, but okay, okay, I'll get to meet her when we all come back for the night, and I'll see for myself, and you'll kick me in a *really* unfriendly place if I so much as touch her delicately scarred knuckles."

Jason snorts and sits down. "Hey, I let Bruce *dance* with her."

"Dancing? I missed dancing? There was *dancing*, Bruce?"

Bruce sits down and picks up his sandwich without a word, but his eyes are still smiling.

Still Jason's turn. "Heh. Remember that blue cocktail dress Bruce made you wear?"

Dick kind of *blanches*. "Bruce, you said there weren't any *pictures*!"

Bruce hums and looks mysterious, and yeah, it's *really* tempting to pretend that Jason *had* seen pictures, but --

"Nah, I just guessed from the size, Big Bird. Your secret is -- relatively -- safe," Jason says, and takes a bite.

Dick shudders a little extra dramatically. "I swear, I could hate you for the dresses *alone* -- okay, I'm fine. What *about* that thing?"

Bruce swallows. "Tim decided she wanted to wear it, for a time."

"She just -- grabbed it out the disguise closet and put it on? By *choice*?"

("I love... I love being beautiful for you, Jason.")

And maybe Bruce can *see* him hearing that -- was he watching from upstairs? Bruce is looking at him steadily and smiling, and Jason gives up and owns the fact that he's blushing. "She likes to dress up."

Dick, for his part --

Jason can see *him* filing that away, adding it to his personal Tim *dossier*, and Jason doesn't really want to rip it out of his head, anymore, but he has to admit that he *likes* Tim being all his. Not his *secret*, really, because Bruce has always known that Jason's gone for her, but...

Bruce is different.

Dick looks at both of them and snorts. "Well, was there music?"

"I believe Jason heard a symphony," Bruce says, dry and -- fucking *dry*.

"Hey, *you* were dancing, too."

Bruce inclines his head.

"Babs *never* let me take her dancing," Dick says, and it sounds like he's grumbling because he absolutely *is*.

*Does* Babs have the Cave bugged? Well -- yeah, of course she does. The *real* question is whether or not she listens -- or watches -- often.

Would Tim want to be watching all of this while she's there? Would Babs think it was necessary for her to understand everything going on? Babs --

"We should tell Babs that Dick's working Tim's territory tonight," Jason says, and thinks about it -- oh. "Uh -- *if* Dick is working Tim's territory?"

Bruce nods, and Dick spins a pickle over his fingers --

"Before you ask, I am *not* wearing heels tonight," Dick says. "*One* time dressing up like Batgirl was enough."

Jason works *hard* to keep from choking on his sandwich. "Oh -- man. *What*? Seriously?"

Dick scowls at Bruce, but it's obvious that he doesn't really mean it -- because it turns into a rueful smile once he turns back to Jason. "We were protecting Babs' identity from her father. I looked *ridiculous*."

Jason snickers and pats Dick's hand. "You realize I'm going to use this against you a *lot*, right?"

"*You* can't," Dick says, and jabs at Jason with his finger. "Because the *second* you even imply there's something non-aesthetically pleasing about the Batgirl uniform, Tim will shut you *down*."

Would she? Or would she want to change it? Either way... "Heh. It's *all* in how you wear it, Big Bird."

"Yeah, well, *I* wore it like a fifteen year old boy forced to tuck for the very first time and *hating life in every way*."

Jason snickers a little more. "*Tim* doesn't seem to mind the gaffs."

"*Tim* -- is clearly a very special person and I would never think a bad word about her *ever*," Dick says, and settles in to eat.

After that, it's just the kind of stretching he doesn't really mind, and they suit up. He tries to imagine Tim being here doing the same, tries to imagine it just being natural and normal like this, as opposed to sexy as *hell* -- yeah.

If Tim never gets comfortable enough to be like that, it will absolutely be at least partially his fault. He'll deal.

... eventually.


He spends most of the night alone, working his territory and checking on things here and there, getting a feel for *his* city, and the people in it.

The *night* people -- the actual citizens running the all-night convenience stores and the bodegas that stay open as long as there's a family member to run things. And then there are the other people, the pros and the homeless people, the junkies trying and failing to stay right for just *one* night...

There isn't much in the way of a word out -- just Gotham being Gotham -- and that's more than good enough for him. He's pretty much grown out of needing more than that to get him off, especially since there are always -- *always* -- the *other* other kind of people for him to deal with.

The scum and the animals, always with something to say, something to prove to either the big, bad Bat or his partner.

Like most nights, it doesn't take long before his gauntlets are blood-stained and dark in the streetlights, before the boots are covered in all kinds of crap Jason doesn't really want to think about.

Tonight, one guy leaves a tooth sticking out of one of the boots, and Jason is already up on a rooftop and resting up, scoping *out* before he digs the thing out.

There's actually some root there, which means that either it was a better kick than he thought it was, or that the guy had a serious need for dental work before Jason ever got a hold of him. Heh. He tucks it in the belt pouch he keeps for souvenirs and keeps moving.

Does Batgirl keep souvenirs? He's never *seen* her take anything, and there doesn't seem to be a trophy space in the Clocktower... then again, she's *always* wired up, even more than Jason is. There's footage of every single night she's *been* out here, and -- man.

He usually never *thinks* of it, but Babs had to have known about *every* single time they hooked up out here --

("You surprised me.")

That's actually kind of damned unflattering, like maybe Jason just wouldn't have *noticed* every time he was pressed up against Tim. Sure, the padding was great -- good enough that he didn't know much for *sure* about Tim's body until just freaking *yesterday* -- but *still*.

It's not like Babs ever really got to know *him*, as opposed to the Robin he -- used to be. Maybe he came off as *just* that stupid and closed-minded. Maybe...

He doesn't know, and it's almost time for him to circle back around to hook up with Bruce for the really *tough* neighborhoods. The best way to figure out what Babs was really thinking about him would be to actually go there and *talk* to her, but the Clocktower is really too far out of his way for him to detour -- and it's Tim's turn to be with her, and maybe Babs' turn to be with *Tim*.

He goes.

He finds Bruce in the middle of making a serious mess in a 'social club' with a terminal case of ironic single quotes, as Batgirl would say. The only possible response to that is to help make that mess as expensive and painful as possible, especially since a couple of bright sparks are running onto the scene with full-autos.

They get concussions for their trouble, and then it's just a matter of working his way *to* Bruce through the crush, striking and punching and *hurting* as he goes. There's the usual music for this -- the crash of furniture and the sound of voices going from angry cursing to *pained* cursing -- or bloody-wet snores.

Bruce stops him from knocking out the guy whose arm he just broke with one raised finger. Two and a jerk sends him after a couple of *really* bright sparks who are trying to make a run for it. Jason trips one with a bolo, and he does Jason the favor of falling *on* the other.

Jason finishes them off with a few cracked ribs and wishes -- mostly idly -- that he knew enough about these guys to decide whether they deserve any worse. The *protocol* is satisfied, but sometimes that's not really enough for Jason. Not really...

He's not sure. He's past the days of breaking collarbones just because he can -- as opposed to doing it when it's necessary to bring some asshole pumped on PCP down -- and he gets Bruce's reasoning behind most of the things he calls 'excessive' violence, but there's still so much they *could* be doing on a nightly basis --

Oh. That --

*That's* the kind of thinking that builds up in him, pushes him until he stops talking to Bruce and starts spending more and more time on his own until suddenly there's a mission Bruce -- or Babs -- really, really needs Robin to take on with Batgirl.

Together, they make a little noise -- or a lot. They fly and they play, they kiss and they *touch*, and then Robin fits on him so well he might as well have been born for it, as opposed to slotted in as a replacement.

It's been almost three *weeks* since he's *worked* with her, and -- yeah.

Jason snorts at himself and heads back over to where Bruce is scaring the shit out of Mr. Broken Arm. This, at least, never makes him feel anything but right, even if all *he* does is, say, pick *up* that broken arm and start twisting -- slowly.

"Robin is impatient, Fiorello," Bruce grits, hard as stone and twice as *cold*.

Jason lets his grin get wide and kind of wet, knowing that it shines in the otherwise dim light, knowing that he looks like a wild fucking animal in brightly-colored clothes. He's pretty sure Dick never did it this way, but it works for him. He keeps twisting --

Fiorello screams and jerks --

Screams again and starts talking about a drug shipment coming in on a container ship, tucked away in brand new Chrysolets meant for two of the three car lots owned and maintained by other members of the man's 'family.'

*Nice* work of the kind he likes best, productive and *meaningful*, and Jason doesn't do more than give the man's arm a mean little pat after he lets it drop.

He follows Bruce out the door and into the sky, and it looks like they're headed toward Central. They'll talk to Gordon, Gordon will talk to Narcotics, and then there'll be a bunch of unhappy smugglers. Bruce falls back to let Jason take point, and that means the same thing it always does: time to *really* fly.

He doesn't *need* to whoop when his swing takes him down barely a few feet over the passing cars, but he does it anyway, because even though Bruce has never said a word about it --

Maybe *because* Bruce has never said a word about it --

He likes it. He maybe even gets off on it a little, and why shouldn't he? He used to *live* in the night all the damned time -- but Bruce made him own it.

The signal isn't lit, so Bruce hits the small button on the underside of the thing that makes a little light start to blink in Gordon's office while Jason leaps up on the balustrade and feels the wind a little, letting it yank on his cape and scrub at his face, his arms and legs --

"I've thought about altering your uniform," Bruce says, quiet, out of nowhere, and pretty much *entirely* Bruce.

"Uh... okay? I don't think these panties can get any shorter without me breaking a few more laws than usual, B," and that *ought* to get him a hum, if not a laugh --

It doesn't. Bruce isn't looking at him.


"You've never... complained about the uniform. As opposed to offering occasional bits of... commentary."

"Uh. It's the Robin suit, and I'm *Robin*."

Bruce grunts and turns enough that the wind starts playing with his own much heavier cape, but he still isn't *looking* --

Jason steps off the balustrade and moves close enough that he can *see* Bruce's face, the hard line of his jaw, the harder line of his mouth. Batman, or playing it that way. "You okay?"

"I could ask the same question."

Meaning he'd seen Jason thinking about hurting those guys a little more, but really... they almost never *talk* about times like that, as opposed to Bruce doing the necessary to get Jason's head back in the game... and yeah, he had every right to expect that it wouldn't be strictly necessary considering everything. Jason grins ruefully and punches Bruce's arm. "I'm good. Just had a little moment there... I'm not about to fly off and lose my shit."

Bruce nods slowly.

Jason takes a breath and turns to watch the door Gordon'll be coming through --

"You could... I'd like for you to talk to me about your objections, Jason. Perhaps we can find a compromise."

Still very, *very* Bruce, and Jason sighs and stretches up onto his toes. "I always wonder if we can be doing more, B. *Getting* more out of the assholes out there. Like tonight."

"The information which led me to Fiorello came, indirectly, from one of the prostitutes you've befriended."

Jason raises his eyebrows and turns to face Bruce again --

And gets another nod.

"Well -- cool. Which one?"

"Susan "Crystal" Watkins, who usually works on --"

"Giddings and Twelfth, yeah," Jason says and frowns. "Look, are you sure you're --"

The door opens with a slow, grinding creak designed to let any wandering cops inside know that they really want to be elsewhere, and Gordon is there, nodding a greeting to both of them and lighting a cigar that makes Jason think about the last cigarette *he'd* smoked --

And the look on Batgirl's face when she'd tasted it on him. Heh.

Jason nods back and heads back for the balustrade while Bruce gives Gordon the low-down about the shipment.

It only takes a minute, and sometimes on nights like this Gordon will give him a kind of long, searching look, like maybe part of him is still looking for Dick, or maybe like he's making sure that it *is* still Jason under the domino.

What Gordon knows and doesn't know and pretends not to know kind of gives Jason a headache a lot of the time, which is one of the best reasons to crouch on the ledge and look like he couldn't care less about *this* part of the mission --


Gordon actually *calling* him. That -- Jason spins in his crouch. "Yeah, Commissioner?"

There's a hint of a smile buried somewhere under the mustache he will never, ever think of as a pussy-tickler, which maybe means at least some of Jason's surprise is visible.

Bruce is doing his best to look blank. Okay --

"Batman tells me that you're responsible for the intel on the drug shipment. Good work."

"Uh -- I really just -- um. Thanks?"

Gordon nods again and takes a long drag off his cigar, eyeing Jason *just* like the cop he is to the fucking bone, which means that he looks a little like he expects Jason to kife a CD the next time he walks into a damned store. It probably isn't the best idea to *react* to that smile with a look of his own, especially not the 'fuck you, cop' look which used to get him into a lot of fucking trouble, but --

Bruce is smiling just a little, and... okay. This is *for* Bruce, and whether or not Gordon knows it or why it needs to happen --

"You take care out there, son."

-- he's going with it. "Whatever you say, man," Jason says, glancing at Bruce --

And getting the nod which means it's time to fly again.

Jason leaps and goes, moving northwest into the part of Bruce's territory that he *knows* Bruce hadn't gotten to, yet.

After a moment, he can feel Bruce flying behind him, and his voice isn't there in his ear telling him to veer off in one direction or another, so Jason just goes with it.

*Why* had Bruce wanted that little moment with Gordon? He has a *few* guesses, but... well, they'd already *talked* about how Jason wasn't going anywhere, and how Bruce wouldn't be *sending* him anywhere, and he can get Bruce still being kind of fucked up after that conversation with Dick, but, well --

He *isn't* Dick. He doesn't need to know that the big, friendly cop approves of him to feel like he's being a good Robin, and he doesn't need...

Why the *uniform*?

Is Bruce thinking that *Jason* is thinking he's getting a little old for things? That would be -- okay, he *had* said something about growing out of Robin, but he hadn't meant, like, *now*. Dick had done this until he was *nineteen*, and he hadn't exactly been all that ready to stop.

If he had been, things wouldn't have been so hard then -- or now -- and...

He doesn't know. There's *something* going on in Bruce's head, and it may only have something to do with him *tangentially*, which means figuring it out -- and getting it *out* of Bruce -- will probably be a fucking bitch.

Jason sighs to himself and focuses on looking for Batman-and-Robin-style trouble they can make.

Whatever it is, it won't come out tonight.


Jason dozes in the passenger seat on the way back to the Cave, not tired so much as loving the seat Bruce had had specially made to fit *him* about three months ago. It's still incredibly perfect, almost *painfully* perfect, and there are times when Jason almost wishes they could take a *long* drive in the car.

Not that there's anywhere he'd like to *go*, really -- Gotham has everything he needs and then some -- but still. He has a few memories of long car trips with his parents, vague and untrustworthy things full of the smell of hot dust, sunlight through the windows...

It was before they'd moved to Gotham, which means Jason couldn't have been more than four or five...

He remembers his mother folding herself into the back seat to scrub at his face. He remembers that popsicles were always too hard until they were melting faster than he could lick.

He remembers --

The back of his father's head, sunburn on the back of his neck. Trees rushing by on the side of the... highway?

Where had they been going?


Jason shakes it off internally. "Right here, B."

Silence, and the deeper silence which means they're on the back roads now, getting close to home, where Bruce is *going* to do a fade and brood on whatever it is.

Jason reaches across the center island and jabs at the chest armor. "Bruce, come on --"

"You shouldn't... Dick can be effusive, especially when offered the chance to get to know someone new to him, someone already loved by people he cares for."

Okay... "Um. Yeah, I know. I've seen him in action a *few* times, Bruce."

Bruce kind of tightens up all over -- relaxes. "I only... he may trespass, without meaning to do anything of the kind."

Jason frowns. This *really* isn't what Bruce wants to talk about, but it's -- something. "I was *mostly* kidding when I was threatening him, Bruce. I -- it'll be fine. If Tim can't deal with him, she'll say goodnight and lock her door."

Bruce hums almost absently and nods after a moment, the silence coming back hard enough that it almost seems to fill up the car, pushing out the air through every imperfect seal --

Dammit. "Bruce, you really *need* to tell me what's --"

"It's nothing, Jason. A private matter, and something I need to see to on my own. It has nothing to do with the Mission."

Always, always capitalized in Bruce's voice, and... Jason doesn't punch his own thigh, or Bruce for that matter. That was a shut-down, pure and simple and the only way *in* has more to do with how Bruce sounds than with anything he can actually talk about.


He sounds tired in a way that sleep won't be able to touch, and a little... sad. Jason thinks about Bruce dancing with Tim, Bruce *wanting* to and asking for it openly, almost cheerfully -- he'd been *okay* earlier. Better than. What had *happened*?

*When* had it happened?

Jason turns to look at him, making it as obvious and as *loud* a look as he can --

And Bruce laughs, soft and low and not happy at all. "Jason. Please. I promise... I promise I'll tell you."

"*When*, Bruce?"

"When I can," Bruce says, pulling into the Cave and parking.

Jason would like to see if just staring some more will drag anything else out of Bruce, but he's already undoing his restraints. Jason undoes his own at speed and reaches out to cover Bruce's hand.

The blood on his gauntlet is dark and uneven, satisfying and sickening at once, and maybe that's what makes Bruce frown at it before sighing and looking up -- no. The smile on Bruce's face is fucking *obscene* with the cowl on, so quiet and *soft* --

Jason shakes his head -- "Bruce --"

"Jay. Let it be for now. Please."

And that's the second please, and he doesn't think...

He doesn't *know* what he'd get after that, if it would be another please or something harder, if -- he doesn't know if he could take it if it *wasn't* something harder, because Bruce is *begging* him now, and that --

That's just not the way it should go. Ever. Jason grips Bruce's hand hard and holds on. "You'll tell me."

"I'll tell you," Bruce says, and for a moment it looks like he's going to say something else, but -- he doesn't.

Jason lets go of him and gets out of the car. They'll deal. They have to and they *will*, and if Jason ever figures out who's twisting Bruce up like this --

If there *is* a who --

That person's going to hurt, simple as that.

He strips as he walks, undoing the cape and kicking out of the boots, gathering them as he heads for the hamper. Tim is up on the beam, and he doesn't really want to be Robin, right now. Robin can't help with this, and Tim --

Bruce is heading *right* for the showers, even though the night's reports have to be written and --

He already knew Bruce was going to do a fade --


And maybe it's what Bruce needs, right now. Jason takes a deep breath and forces himself to focus on not just balling up the uniform and *shoving* it in the hamper, and no, he's *not* just going to rip the domino off his face. His eyebrows have done *nothing* to deserve that kind of treatment.

Jason smiles ruefully and finishes stripping down, and then forces himself to detour toward the robes instead of just wandering over naked. *Tim* is in the same shorts, t-shirt, and trainers she was in earlier, after all, and -- yeah. Woman-friendly environment. They can *do* that.

When he's got the robe on, he heads back over and crouches on the mats a few feet away. Tim's got a sort of serious-distracted look on her face which either means she's really focused on the fact that she's got her leg bent up to her *face* or that it *does* actually hurt as much as it looks like it should.

He doesn't know, and he isn't going to break her concentration, if that's what it is.

She gets up on one toe and turns, not wobbling or straining. The toe on the foot she has up is already pointed at the stalactites.

*Bruce* --

Jason squeezes his eyes shut and tries to listen for the sound of the showers, even though he's known for years that the acoustics just don't work that way down here. What the hell *is* it? Everything else is so good, so --

Bruce and Dick are getting better, and they'll get better than that. He and Tim are -- so good and so *close*. He and Bruce have never been better, really, and Babs is right there where they all need her, happy and *okay*. Everything's coming together the way it should, but Bruce is so messed up Jason can *feel* it. He can't stop feeling it, like the fucked-up emotional version of a busted rib or a wrenched back --

And when he opens his eyes, Tim is up on her hands, legs split -- and looking at him steadily. *Patiently*.

Jason knows his smile is a little shaky, but it's not like he can keep it off his face. "I don't know whether to get a hard-on or fucking cry when you do that, BG."

Tim raises an eyebrow and lifts her legs, scissors them -- and keeps looking.

Oh -- Jason winces. "Sorry. Tim. I'm --" He waves a hand. "A little messed up."

Tim nods, spins into a cartwheel and up onto her feet -- not her toes. She looks down at him for a moment -- "Can I help?"

Quiet, honest, and -- now that he's *really* paying attention -- a little worried. This time the smile feels better on his face. "You already are."

Tim's smile reaches her eyes, but doesn't stay there. She shakes her head once and leaps down off the beam --

"Hey, you don't have to interrupt your routine --"

"To be honest, I was posing more than anything else," Tim says, and brushes *that* off like it's nothing. "Jason, if something's wrong, you have to --"

"Wait, wait, you were posing for me?"

Tim's smile kind of... quirks at the corner of her mouth. "Yes. I do realize why my flexibility is so... fascinating to you, but it doesn't stop being pleasant to see."

Jason laughs and stands up, grabbing her hands and pulling her in against him until he can feel her breath against his collarbone. Tim pushes her fingers between Jason's own and sort of nuzzles there a little. "Tim..."

And kisses him, soft and slow enough that the large part of his brain controlled by his dick starts wishing for tongue. She likes the way he smells. He *needs* her to like the way he tastes -- she pulls back. "Jason. Tell me, please?"

*Bruce*. But -- 'private matter.' "Tell me about your night with Babs?"

Tim frowns, getting a groove on her forehead that Jason can absolutely kiss.

She *started* it --

"Jason, you have to realize how much... it would be very, very good if I could help *you* right now."

Yeah, he can't *not* get that, but. "It's not really my problem to talk about. It's..." Hell. She *lives* here now. "Something's upsetting Bruce. I can see it, he *admits* it, but he won't tell me what it is, yet."

Tim frowns a little more, obviously thinking -- "You tried to get him to talk about it and he refused?"

Jason nods toward the showers. "You saw him. Right about now, he *should* be at the console, or standing over me until I do my stretches for the night, maybe training me a little more."

Tim nods slowly, bites the inside of her lip just hard enough that Jason can watch it curling in a little --

"I am *willing* to be distracted, since he really won't just give. He -- he specifically *asked* me to leave it alone."

Tim looks at him, searches him a little -- "Not an order...?"

"That --" Jason frowns. "That isn't really the way we work. Not anymore, anyway. I mean, he gave me all kinds of orders when I was first training, but I could always tell..." How to *say* this? "I -- he didn't really want to? Kind of?"

Tim nods. "You're his *partner*."

"Even though I'm less than half his age and he's taught me *everything* I know -- I don't know. I guess... it was a long time ago now that I realized he wanted to be my *friend*, and that blew my mind, but I've... gotten used to it."

Tim smiles. "Not so different from Babs and me, though she's always... sometimes it feels like working for my... relative. She's the boss, but she's also -- close to me."

She's being cautious, probably trying to avoid landmines in her own head... "Having Babs as a big sister would be pretty awesome, I think."

"Sister," she says, almost trying out the word in her mouth, maybe seeing if she likes the taste... her smile gets rueful. "That works."

They both know the word she's avoiding, and -- yeah. It *does* work. "I don't know if Bruce is my *brother* or anything, but he's only my father on paper. Still more than just a friend."

She looks... doubtful.


"It's nothing, but... sometimes the way you speak about him...? It seems to be more than just... paper."

Jason shakes his head and grins. "I *had* a father. He was kind of useless *and* he worked for fucking Two-Face and got himself killed back when my mom and I needed him most. He was still my father, and -- nobody can replace that."

She nods seriously. "All right, my mistake," and she squeezes Jason's hands. "You *are* Bruce's partner and his friend. Perhaps he just doesn't want to... burden you, right now, with whatever's bothering him."

"It wouldn't be a fucking *burden* --"

Another squeeze. "I happen to have a good understanding of the way thought processes like that work, Jason, and I..." She closes her eyes for a moment, and when she opens them they're wide and clear and almost pleading.


"It can be very difficult to let someone help with personal problems, very... it can feel worse than having the problems themselves, because you have to watch someone else hurt for you, *work* for you..." Her laugh is quiet and kind of old. "Or I'm projecting horribly."

"I don't think Bruce would..." Do that to himself? Do that to himself knowing how badly it would hurt *him*? Jason frowns and slips his hands free of Tim's own before resting them on her hips. Just -- to feel her. Solid warmth through her clothes, lean perfection that somehow he gets to *touch* --


Jason leans in and kisses her forehead, just because he has to. He can smell hints of sweat in her hair, under the shampoo she still uses even though her hair is just *that* short... "Sometimes I just want to be in bed with you, not doing anything but talking and kissing. Being together."

"I..." Tim curls her fingers around Jason's forearms and strokes lightly. "I think I'd like that."

"We can... and I'm totally changing the subject again," Jason says, and kisses her one more time before pulling back again. "I think you're at least a little bit right about Bruce, and I don't like it much."

Tim nods. "I'm sorry."

"Maybe -- hell. It's not like the two of you know each other, but if you get what's driving him..."

"I'd planned to talk to him more when he wasn't particularly busy with anything. *Get* to know him."

"Hey, that's great. He'd love that -- I know he really likes *you*," and Jason squeezes her hips a little, strokes her through the shorts with his thumbs --

"Hmm, that feels..." Quick, bright smile and Tim looks down between them -- up again. "I'll certainly mention how much this is bothering you. If I can, at all."

"Heh. You're part of the *family*, now. I mean, you always were, but now..."

Tim nods and strokes her way up Jason's arms until her own arms are around his neck. "No more secrets. I didn't expect to find that so... pleasant."

Jason grins. "Is *that* what you talked about with Babs?"

"Among other things. We... she told me that I'd always have a place with her, and with the Birds --"

"Hey, no, wait --"

"If I ever wanted to take it," Tim says, and tugs lightly on Jason's hair. "At the moment, I'm rather more inclined to the Bat side of things -- *mm* --"

Okay, so that didn't really translate to 'kiss me now,' no matter how many ways he tries to spin it in his head, but he can blame the impulse a little on the feel of her pulling his hair, because she's fucking *trained* him to find that hot. That little --

The moment *before* the moment before she tells him to stop or just plain shoves him away, when she's moving against him and sucking his tongue, moaning quiet for the night --

Moaning *now* and *licking* his tongue, pressing closer, close enough that the falsies would be in the way if she were wearing them --

Like this, it's *almost* body to body, like maybe it wouldn't be *much* better if they were naked, if there was no robe or shorts to get in the way of him pushing a knee between her thighs and rubbing, *pressing* --

And now she's carding her hand through his hair, petting him and tugging more, kissing *harder*, and her mouth is going to be swollen -- he's left her mouth swollen so many *times*. Made it soft, taken her lipstick all over *his* mouth, and there's a part of him which misses the taste, but even *that* part can't complain about the fact that he can taste chocolate, taste *her* --

Jason lifts her a little by the hips, gets her up on her toes so the kiss feels even better, the right angle, the right *feel*, and he wants her so much, wants her *always*, even if she keeps her door closed tonight, even if she strips down where he can't *see* her --

Jason groans into her mouth and lifts his knee higher, just enough that he can feel her through the shorts, her heat and tight hardness --

She yanks herself back and pants against his mouth, makes a sound that might've been a word before it actually got out of her mouth --

"Yeah, baby?"

Her laugh is almost a cry, and Jason remembers that he was supposed to save that for *special* occasions --

"Sorry, sorry --"

"I just -- ah. I'm not. Averse. It's just that Babs gave me the impression that I was supposed to meet Dick, tonight...?"

Dick, right, yeah --

"Oh, don't mind me, kids. I can be *patient* --"

The punch he throws gets *caught*, and he can see Tim down in a ready position out of the corner of his eye -- and Dick is laughing at both of them silently, practically rocking on his heels --

"Shit, how long?"

Dick holds up two fingers. And waggles them. And keeps laughing.

Tim blushes *hard* and stands up again. "Ah -- hello."

"Hello to you, *too*, Tim Drake. Ever Timmy?"

"Never," Tim says, and glances at Jason --

Jason twists his wrist in Dick's grip until he lets go, and then scrubs a hand back through his hair. "Uh -- yeah. So. Fuck."

"*Almost*, going by what *I* could see," Dick says, looking them both up and down before folding his arms over his chest. "I can't believe you didn't even hear the engine. You two get up to this on the *street*?"

Tim blushes harder and wipes her palms against her shirt, looking everywhere *but* at Dick --

Dick whistles and waves a hand in front of Jason's face --

Jason slaps it away and tries not to scowl. "On the *street* -- we know we can be interrupted at any time."

Dick raises his eyebrow and looks at Tim, who's doing a good job of getting her skin to match Jason's fucking *tunic* --

She looks at Dick. "There's a certain degree of additional... care. Out there."

"But *not* in here, even though Bruce could come wandering in at any moment?"

Jason doesn't think Bruce is going anywhere near *him* tonight... not the point. "He --"

"He doesn't seem to... ah. Mind," Tim says, quiet and steady -- and then she seems to pull herself up into another few inches of height, and she tosses the hair that really isn't there -- "What about you...?"

The last person who'd gotten between Batgirl and a kiss she wanted to give Robin had gotten a broken cheekbone for his trouble. And -- heh.

Dick is blinking and staring hard.

"I mean," Tim says, and plants one hand on her hip. "If you have some sort of problem..."

Jason bites his lip and does *not* snort. He knows she can *feel* him laughing, anyway -- it's in that light in her eyes, the kind of seriously vicious curve of her smile --

Dick blinks a little more. "Uh -- wow. I take back *everything* I said about it being weird that Batgirl is -- I take it back."

"Do you....?" Her voice is somewhere between a purr and a growl, a hot little *threat* --

Dick barks a laugh and raises his hands. "I -- nice to meet you, Batgirl. It's been a while."

Tim rises smoothly up onto her toes, turns her leg -- and *then* looks at Jason. "What about you, Robin? Anything to say...?"

"Oh -- fucking always, BG. The *question* is... what do you wanna hear?"

Batgirl's smile -- Tim's smile gets wider and softer, and she looks down at the mats -- and settles back on her heels. "I... I could question the reflex that makes *that* come out when I'm feeling a little too -- shy."

Jason squeezes her shoulder, slides his hand to the back of her neck and rubs. "I think it's a pretty fucking sweet reflex, if you were looking for opinions."

"Mm, I --" Dick laughs again and reaches out to put two fingers under her chin.

Jason shifts on his feet a *little* --

Tim looks up. And raises an eyebrow. "I assure you, I was only taking a moment to be awestruck about meeting a childhood hero."

Dick tilts his head. "I thought *Babs* was your hero."

"I'm -- greedy," Tim says, pulling away from Dick's fingers and shifting until her side is pressed to Jason's --

Mm. Jason strokes the edge of her buzz and watches her eyes narrow a little --

"Okay, that's fair, Tim-never-Timmy," Dick says, and lets his hand drop to his side. "Jason says you're a detective, too?"

She waves a hand. "Barbara always finds me fascinating things to do."

Dick looks at Jason and raises his eyebrows -- what? Dick's eyebrows get a little higher and Jason gets it. *Jason* is supposed to help pull Tim out of her shell a little, which... okay, he can see why Dick would want him to do it, but he kind of *likes* her shell.

It's strong and hard and always, *always* has a space for him to get inside it with her and -- possibly he's still kind of losing his mind a little at the way Tim is pressed against him because *she* wants to be, warm and lean and hard all over --

Tim shifts and looks at both of them. "Am I missing something...?"

"Mostly Jason's forebrain shutting down for you again," Dick says, "but I'm guessing you're used to that by now."

Jason flips Dick off -- he always seems to do that a *lot* when Dick's around -- and Tim blushes and looks down again.

"Oh, hey," and Dick reaches out for her chin again, "I'm laughing *with* you, I promise. I've *been* your age --"

"And had a Batgirl of your own," Tim says, and this time she pushes Dick's hand away with her own, gently and firmly.

Dick smiles ruefully. "Maybe not *had*... and anything else I say in response to that comment could get me a *beating* should Babs choose to listen in on this conversation, so... how about I change the subject?"

Tim's own smile is a little wry, and she wraps her arm around Jason's waist. Squeezes --

Jason rubs at the back of her neck with his thumbnail lightly and -- there go those narrowed eyes again. Mm.

"Ah -- what did you want to talk about?"

Dick looks down at the hand Tim had pushed away, smiles ruefully and drops down onto the mats, sitting tailor-style. "You. Your favorite television show. If you like ice cream. When you realized that you *had* to be Batgirl. If Jason is just the most perfect boyfriend you've ever had. If you'd like to be a Titan --"

"That -- that's a lot of questions," Tim says, pressing her hip against Jason just a little harder.

"Yeah, Dick, slow down a little --"

Dick raises his hands and spreads them. "I have a lot to catch up on," and then he bends over and taps the floor in front of himself. "C'mon. Neither of you are tired."

Jason frowns -- but Tim takes a breath and pulls back, dropping down to the mats. Well, at least he can stay with her.

Dick smiles at both of them, then focuses on Tim so hard she has to be able to feel it. She shakes her head --

"I never expected you to be quite this... interested."

"You're *Batgirl*, Tim. That's -- you know exactly how important that is --"

She waves a hand, sharp and quick --

And Dick raises an eyebrow, and very clearly tucks another fact into the Tim file that Jason still does want to rip out of his head a *little* bit -- but Tim is holding her own, and maybe that's the most important thing.

"There's a difference between being interested in Batgirl and being interested in... well. I'd expected you to test me physically, perhaps give me a few puzzles to solve --"

"We could do that, too. I checked some of the training footage before I left for my patrol -- and you've done a *lovely* job keeping things peaceful --"

Tim inclines her head --

"You're *very* flexible and quick, and that means there's a lot I could *give* you in terms of training, if you were willing..."

"That would be... deeply satisfying," she says, and reaches out to rest her hand on Jason's knee.

She's being very... open? That's not quite it, but it's close. Like maybe there's something she's trying to tell Jason on top of everything else, and it all boils down to several different varieties of "I'm here, and I'm okay."

Which probably means she'd heard -- or, hell, *watched* -- Jason getting crazy protective earlier and is trying to keep him calm. And that -- he's really not that *bad*. Except that it *is* absolutely necessary to cover her hand with his own and squeeze it.

Jason watches Dick stare at their hands for a moment -- watches Dick shake his head and turn back to Tim. "So -- love at first sight?"

"First sight..." Tim turns to Jason and searches his eyes for a moment before saying, "I had a lot of footage to examine."

Dick laughs softly and Jason -- thinks about it.

"You used to watch me?"

"I -- it's fair to say that... Barbara made it something of a reward, while I was still in training. It was motivating. And..." Tim looks down again. "I'm being disingenuous. I told you earlier... I was following all of you as much as I could before I ever went to Barbara. I was following you... a lot."


"Yeah, *that* --" Dick taps the toe of Tim's trainer. "Jason told me you figured out all of our identities? *How*?"

Tim smiles and looks up again. "You were the key, Dick. In terms of learning about you and Jason and Bruce, anyway. Babs... well, I'd spent a lot of time in the library where she worked, and I was going out at night --"

"What about -- uh." Dick blushes.

Jason winces --

"My parents," Tim says, but she doesn't look down again. "They traveled... extensively. And nannies and babysitters aren't always very careful people. I made a point of telling them... telling them I preferred the ones who were the least careful of all."

Tim's tensing all over -- the tension seems to almost be flowing into her, one moment at a time. Jason squeezes her hand again. "You don't have to talk about this."

"No, I -- I don't." Tim's smile is brittle but real. "Barbara knows all about this. I -- I'll tell her that it's all right to tell you both about it if you'd really like to know."

Jason kind of thinks he *needs* to know this, and he really wants to hear it *from* Tim, wants to see what it does to her to say it -- no, not that. The fact that it's an important part of Tim, that he wants *all* of her... he can wait until she's ready, and he will. Jason nods and Dick does, too.

"Okay, so you had a *lot* of time to get used to Jason's many, many charms..."

Tim snorts a little. "I thought I had. I thought I was... ah. Ready for him. I wasn't."

"Uh -- and that's in a good way?"

Tim strokes his knee with her finger, and Jason realizes that the motion is probably completely hidden by *his* hand --

And that Dick saw it, anyway.

Tim blushes a little again. "In a good way, yes."

"I -- sure as fuck wasn't ready for *you*."

"Well. You weren't supposed to be," she says, and there's just a little Batgirl right around the -- sharp -- edges.

Right where she should be.

"Okay," Dick says, and claps his hands on his thighs. "Ice cream?"

"Vanilla. Or assorted sorbets. The occasional gelato."

Dick mimes making a note. "TV?"

"Not if I can help it. Though I do like Monty Python, The Kids in the Hall... some other things."

"Ooh, comedy. I *like* that," Dick says, and Jason knows, with all of himself, that Dick will be buying DVDs for his apartment, just as he'd suddenly just kind of *had* Jet Li's entire freaking career after that one conversation in a middle of a spar.

Jason nudges her knee with his own. "We can watch sometime. I've never really seen any of that stuff."

Tim smiles at him and nods once before turning back to Dick and raising her eyebrow.

"Have you always known you were trans?"

Jason winces again and Tim blinks --

"Oh... wasn't supposed to ask that, was I? We can skip it, absolutely, I get that that's -- really kind of uncomfortable --"

"I'm -- ah. Still in the process of figuring that out. I just know that... I realized, tonight, that I'd never dreamed of being... Robin."

Which is as good as admitting that she *had* dreamed of being Batgirl, at least once.

Dick reaches out, probably meaning to cup her knee or something -- he stops, raises that hand and sits back. "But you let *Bruce* dance with you. I'm officially jealous."

Tim smiles. "I was feeling a lot more... relaxed. At the time."

"Because you'd just had *Jason* spinning you around the Cave, and -- dresses? Really? Heels and stockings and garters and -- all the rest?"

"I don't really... I haven't spent a lot of time questioning myself on what feels... comfortable. It's not something Barbara has ever asked and... at the moment I'm wondering if that was as much as a good thing as it felt like at the time."

"Hey, as far as I'm concerned, you never *do* have to ask," Jason says, bumping her knee again until she looks at him...

Reads that it's the truth in his eyes, maybe, because she smiles ruefully again.

"It's -- you're you. That's more than enough for me, and... I don't know. Figuring yourself out *can* be a really useful thing to do, but it's not like you're doing crazy shit or hurting anyone you care about."

This time, Tim's snort is kind of *loud* -- "Because it was entirely sane to steal the Batgirl uniform and hector a woman who'd just been shot."

"Well, okay, there's *that*, yeah, but --"

"You did *what*?"

The tone of Dick's voice -- "Hey, ease *off*, Big Bird --"

Dick throws up a hand and he's staring at Tim *hard*, which means it may be time for Jason to get *up* and make his point --

Tim looks back at Dick steadily. "I'd say something about how it seemed like a good idea at the time, but that would imply a lot more thought than what was actually going on in my head, Dick."

"You -- she was --" Dick frowns and shakes his head. "That *wasn't* right, Tim --"

Jason growls. "Dick --"

Tim squeezes Jason's knee. "No? I suppose I could've waited. Perhaps should have. But I didn't, and it's over now. And because I'd like for this to stay as friendly as possible, *Dick*, I won't mention how often you *haven't* been to the Clocktower."

Dick rears back *exactly* like she'd just slapped him, and yeah. He can absolutely stand the fuck down.

And try not to think about how rarely *he's* gone there, and what Babs might have been thinking about -- all of it. Was it something she talked to Tim about? The Birds? She was *supposed* to have *them* --

Dick blows out a breath. "Okay, temper, too -- and I'm *not* saying I didn't deserve it. Truce?"

Tim raises an eyebrow and nods once.

"And on *that* note," Dick says, standing up and offering Tim his hand.

Tim takes it and lets him pull her to her feet. Jason stands on his own, and watches the way Dick's still holding her hand --

The way Tim's *letting* him hold her hand.

Dick sighs. "Tim..."


"I didn't ask you again about being a Titan, but it's something I'd like you to think about. There are heroes your age out there, meta and otherwise, who could use someone who's both their age and *experienced*."

Jason tries not to frown again --

"I -- I'm aware of... some of them."

Dick smiles. "Babs wouldn't have it any other way, and..." Dick looks at Jason. "I know *you* aren't built for the team life, but I *have* to put it out there, little wing."

It's an apology, and Jason -- nods.

"And it's my choice," Tim says, sharp and smiling somewhere behind her face, because, yeah, Jason needed to *really* hear that, too.

"*All* your choice, Tim. Come to New York sometime. We can talk about it, and I can introduce you to everyone."

"That could be... awkward," and she rubs at her hip.

Dick puts his other hand on her shoulder and leans in. "You're Batgirl. That's all that matters."

"I -- noted."

And Dick lets go, steps back and looks at him again, raising his eyebrows.

Jason snorts. "Yeah, you passed. *Barely*, but you passed."

Dick bows -- and strikes out for Jason's head.

Jason blocks it and gets his wrist caught -- and gets yanked into a hug. "Asshole."

"I love you, too, Jay," Dick says, saccharin-sweet and fucking *drippy* before letting Jason go and turning to Tim with his arms open.

"I don't get hit first?"

Dick -- fucking *leers*. "Well, we *could* play it that way, little sister, but I think Jay might *object*."

"Oh, fucking hell --"

"I really only play rough with Robin, Dick. You'll have to wait your turn," she says, cocking a hip and *daring* Dick, and Jason wants to warn her about that, but --

"Mmm. Sure about that, BG? I can be *very* entertaining," and Dick licks his *lips*, and yeah, okay, he's playing, but --

"Can you...? I hadn't noticed," she says, and *smiles* --

Jason gives up and laughs --

And Dick actually does kind of *tackle* her into a hug, but she takes it all right, patting his back -- and kissing him on the cheek. Dick hugs her harder.

"Okay, okay, that's *enough* --"

"I'm just getting *started*, little wing --" And Dick laughs as Jason drags him back and *away* -- "Okay, okay. It's not *every* day I get to feel a pretty girl pressed against my body -- oh, wait, it *is*. I'll tell Kory you say hello, Jay."

Jason shakes his head. "You *do* that, you fucking bitch."

Dick turns to Tim as he backs away toward the cars. "*Do* something about that mouth of his, would you?"

"Oh," she says, and smiles a little wider. "I plan to."

Dick laughs again and turns for his bike, lifting his hand in a last wave just *exactly* like he knows that Jason kind of *needs* to grab Tim and pull her to him before Dick's even completely gone.

She laughs, too, and wraps her arms around his neck, and this kiss feels like... maybe the third or fourth of a good night, when he's got her pinned against a wall and she's breathless from the chase, from wanting him to do *just* this.

Jason feels his robe slipping and thinks seriously about doing something about that, but her legs are long and moving against his own, and Jason *has* to push his knee between them again, has to feel her again --

Soft, but he can change that, he can --

He can stop, and *think*, and mostly stop --


"You could call me Jay sometimes. I --" That wasn't what he was going to say, and he can see Tim knowing that in that little frown line of hers which he can -- still -- kiss.

"Jay. I..." She blushes. "It feels like I should know you better before calling you that."

"What do you want to know? You have to -- I'll tell you anything."

Her smile is small and quiet, and doesn't shift a millimeter when they hear Dick's bike growling to life.

"You know I will --"

"I know," she says, and curls a lock of his hair around her thumb, tugging a little -- "Start with whatever you were going to say a moment ago and didn't."

"Oh -- heh." Jason feels himself blushing. "I was just -- I was going to ask you how far you wanted to go, tonight."

"I -- oh."

Blushing together -- feels really good. "It's okay if you don't know, but -- uh. It might be... easier?"

"Having -- goals usually is. Easier. Um." She tugs on his hair again, closes her eyes --

Jason pulls her a little bit closer and wonders if they should go upstairs so Bruce will feel comfortable hitting the console. *He* should shower and... he has no idea where Bruce is, at all. He could've gone upstairs already, he could be mapping out parts of the Cave for future expansion, he could be lurking in that shadow right over *there*, doing that thing where he's so still and quiet within himself that Jason can't even *feel* him --

"Could we... could we go upstairs?"

Jason shivers. "Yeah. Yeah, we can. I can shower up there just as easily --"

"If you don't want -- I mean, don't you usually do cool-down exercises, and --"

"I wanna be with you right now. I want -- we have the whole night."

*She* shivers, and Jason strokes her back, down to her -- hips. Just her hips --


"Then. Let's go," she says, only she doesn't twist away or -- she's barely breathing.

Jason squeezes her hips and leans in to kiss her cheek, letting it linger, letting himself feel her soft skin until she sighs and pushes her hands between them, stroking up Jason's chest and --

Not pushing him away.

Jason smiles against her cheek. "I love you."

"It's too -- part of me thinks it should be too much, or -- too good."

"It's perfect," Jason says, and kisses his way to her ear. "Let's go."

Another shiver, and *now* she pushes Jason back, turns and walks for the stairs.

There's nothing in the shadows there but more shadows, and once they're upstairs, she starts walking a little faster, and Jason wants to know if she can feel him behind her as much as she can hear him, maybe smell him --

He can feel *her*, and --

"Ah, Master Jason and young Timothy. I'd expected to find you in the Cave," Alfred says, and steps out of his own shadow. He's holding a tray.

"Uh -- we were just. Going upstairs," Jason says --

Alfred nods once and offers the tray. "Something for the two of you to enjoy before you sleep."

Tim looks a little bit like a deer caught in the headlights, but since that's how Jason *feels* -- yeah. Alfred is *Alfred*. Jason takes the tray. "Uh -- thanks, Al. Do you know..."

"Master Bruce expressed to me a desire to take the air in a rather more -- hm -- *conventional* manner than what has become his usual," Alfred says, and his voice is as crisp and sharp as always, but his eyes are gentle. "It will, perhaps, do him some measure of good."

That... Bruce outside? Taking a *walk*? Well... hell, maybe he needs it. Okay. Jason nods. "Um -- good night."

"Good night, Alfred," Tim says, quiet and *small* --

And Alfred's eyes flash with some *serious* amusement -- "Indeed, sir. Timothy." Alfred nods and walks back into the shadows, and Jason takes a *breath*. Well, at least he'll be able to think for a little while longer now. He turns to Tim, and -- she's gripping the banister hard enough that her knuckles are white.


"I'm -- ah." She laughs and relaxes her hold a little, turning to look at him over her shoulder. "I haven't -- changed my mind."

Jason nods. "You know you --"

"I know," she says, and she doesn't smile -- it seems like maybe her eyes are too wide for that -- but she does turn and start walking up the stairs.

Jason watches her for a moment and then follows with the tray.

She pauses by her door, but doesn't stop --

"Are you sure?"

"I -- yes, Jason."

Somehow, his room has never smelled more like him than it does right now. The little lamp is on by the bed, and the bed itself is turned back. She goes right to it, resting her hand on the bottom sheet, and Jason wonders where to put the tray.

If he puts it on the floor by the bed, he'll be demanding one thing, but it wouldn't be much better if he put it all the way over on the bureau. He knows he doesn't want it *on* the bed with them --

And clearly he's thinking *way* too much about the tray, because her shirt's off. Just -- off, and hanging from the fingers of her left hand --

Jason swallows and tries not to lose it completely at the way the lamp makes her nipples this deep rust color. What would her dick look like? Will she -- "Tim, you don't --"

"I want to," she says, and pushes her thumbs into the waistband of her shorts.

"Then -- can I help?"

She tenses for a moment, and Jason's ready to start the process of getting flexible enough to kick himself in the *balls*, but she laughs and relaxes -- not quite all the way.


"I don't know why -- somehow I just keep tripping over the fact that you've *seen* me naked. Felt me and -- you know."

Jason takes a deep breath and puts the tray down right there on the floor. "I think that's something... you'll get used to."

"I'm ready for it to happen *any* time now," she says, and laughs again. "Yes, Jason. Yes, you can... strip me."

Jason walks over and crouches beside her, looks up -- "Thank you."

"Oh, you'll..." She reaches down and brushes Jason's robe with her fingertips. "Pay me back."

"Happily," Jason says, and reaches for her waist, touches her skin. There's a small scar on her abdomen Jason remembers her getting like it's burned onto his brain. She'd knocked the knife out of the hand of a gang member and turned to his friend. He'd pulled *another* knife, and Jason had been across the room --

"Not a mistake I'll make again," and she runs her fingers over his knuckles.

"No, I -- I know. It's just..." It's just that she'd let him give her a stitch because she hadn't wanted to break the patrol to go back to the Clocktower, and she'd been leaning back almost casually against a gargoyle, uniform gapping open and eyes steady on him. She'd sighed when the needle went in, but hadn't moved or made any other sound. And it's not that he wasn't used to that from Bruce, and it's not that he'd expected her to throw a fit or something like that, but... Jason lets his fingers splay against the scar.

"It's yours. Ah -- in a way."

Jason closes his eyes and leans in, kisses the length of it back and forth and back until she sighs for him and pushes a hand into his hair --


"Yeah," he says, and pushes his fingers into the waistband of her shorts --

"Oh -- I."

He looks up, and her eyes are closed. Not squeezed shut, but. "Tim?"

She nods and tugs his hair, and that's a yes. That's *always* a yes. He slips the shorts down to her ankles and she steps out, kicking out of her trainers, too. She's down to socks and -- panties. They fit her perfectly -- hiding everything -- so they *must* be hers, but --

"Wasn't it kind of uncomfortable when I was... uh. Nudging you?"

She laughs without opening her eyes. "Not in any sort of unfamiliar way. Babs had... had these made for me. Several of them, so..." When she *does* open her eyes, they're sharp and amused and -- mostly *sharp*. "The *next* time someone goes through my things, there'll be something interesting for them to find."

Jason blushes. "Uh -- that was --"

"Dick, I know. I... I *had* been planning to tell you about the shirt, myself."

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

"No, I -- I know that, too," she says, and reaches down --

Jason gives her his hands and she presses them against her thighs, dragging them up to her hips -- Jason swallows. "We can -- you can leave them on --"

She squeezes his hands *hard* --

"If you want to, I mean. Um. I'd rather have them off."

Tim's laugh cracks in the middle a little, and she lets go of one of Jason's hands -- strokes down over the panties, curling her fingers between her legs --

"Jesus, Tim --"

"So many -- so many things would be *easier* --"

Jason yanks her other hand to his mouth, kisses the palm over and over --

"Jason --"

"Anything you want. Anything I can *give* you --"

"You can't give me this. And I --" Another laugh. "I need to *cope*," she says, and pulls Jason's hands back to her hips. "Do it."

Jason nods and follows orders, doing it slow enough that she could change her mind, stop him --

She's not really breathing all that well, and Jason wishes it was for the same reason *he* isn't. It's just... sleek black hair and her soft dick. Her balls are fuzzed with hair, and -- her eyes are closed again. A part of Jason is fucking *insistent* that he could solve a lot of problems with one really good and heartfelt -- and it really, really would be -- blowjob, but --

He's pretty sure that's not on the menu for tonight, so he's *not* going to let himself think about it any more than he absolutely has to. She steps out of the panties and Jason goes for her socks --

"I'll do that. I --" Her laughs are getting worse, and that's so far from what Jason wants --

"Hey, it's okay, and -- you know I like to do a *thorough* job," he says, and watches her searching him, looking for...

He doesn't know what she's looking for, but he's betting it's nothing good. Whatever it is, she *won't* find it in him, and, after a moment, she turns and sits down on the side of the bed. Jason squeezes her ankle, strokes up her leg to her knee --

Kisses her there while he strokes back down and takes off her socks. When he looks, the toenail polish is a little more chipped than it had seemed under her stockings. Batgirl red. Batgirl's pretty *mouth* red. He runs his fingers over her nails --

"I've been -- thinking about a new shade."

"Like the lipstick you were wearing today?"

"Ah -- yes. You... you liked it."

Jason kisses her thigh -- not too far up -- and stands. "I could tell that the other wasn't really *your* color."

"The perils of not being a natural redhead," she says, curling her hands over the side of the bed -- no. She's *gripping* the side of the bed.

"Still okay?"

"I... I was going to take your robe off," and she bites her lip. Her legs are pressed together and she's leaning forward enough that it would be hard to tell... if she wasn't naked from the waist *up*, too.

"Yeah, you were. But we don't --"

"Jason. I -- you don't have to keep saying that. I trust you."

And maybe that shouldn't warm him -- heat him *up* -- as much as it does, but it does, and the robe isn't very long, but it's still long enough to mostly hide the fact that he's hard and getting harder. It's not that he doesn't think she knows, but -- there's a difference between knowing about something and being forced to deal with it. But. "Uh -- okay. Look, I can take it off, myself."

"It's only that... I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to stop myself from doing... more. If I take off your robe."

Oh. "Oh. You've... thought about stripping me?"

She smiles and rolls her shoulders a little -- "Perhaps as much as you've thought about stripping me."

"Heh, well. You do realize I've spent a *lot* of time just thinking about feeling you up through your clothes, right?"

Her smile gets a little wider and softer at once. "Because you'd figured out that I'd be more comfortable that way...?"

Jason flips the ends of the belt around a little. "Well, that and I was thinking about what you'd let me get *away* with."

She hums and kicks out slowly, running her toes down Jason's shin.


"Come here," she says, sitting up and -- spreading her legs.

*Hell*, yes. He stops when his knees are just brushing the insides of her thighs, smooth and sleek -- "Here?"

"Here," she says, and undoes the knot in the belt, letting the ends fall before pushing the robe wide --

"Tim..." His voice is way too low and rough, and maybe that's why she tenses. "I -- sorry. Just -- heh. You know *exactly* how impaired I am."

Tim looks up at him -- down again. She licks her *lips*, and Jason doesn't grab his dick and stroke, but it's kind of a near thing.

"Uh... should I shrug it off?"

"You should..." *Her* voice is low and almost slurred --


She laughs and shakes her head. "I have no idea why I thought I'd be able to *do* this. I..."

Shit. *Hell* -- focus. "Should I go?" It's his *room*, and he's a dumbass, but -- "I can --"

"*No*," she says -- *growls*, and grabs him by the hips, pulls him so close he can feel her *breath* --

"Uh -- Tim. You -- I can't really --"

"I don't want to think anymore, Jason. I don't want to -- worry and be afraid. Not of you --"

"You *never* have to be scared of me, but maybe you should -- oh, *Jesus* --"

Tongue on him, slick and *hot*, and Jason nearly falls on Tim before he grabs the nearest bedpost and can steady himself a little.

*Really* just a little, because she's --

Her *tongue* --

Her *fist* -- wrapped around the base of his dick and she's licking him, head and fucking shaft and head again -- *again* --

"*Tim* --"

"Don't -- please don't tell me to *stop*," she says, and her voice is still slurred, still low --

"I won't. I -- you feel so good, you feel -- God, do you *want* --"

"You don't know what I want. I --" She licks him again, fast and wet, sharp and *wet* --

Jason feels himself leaking pre-come *just* like that, because she's bent over with her mouth open, because she's holding him *tight* -- "Oh, fuck, baby, *tell* me what you want --"

"This. For now. And then --" Her laugh sounds *completely* cracked, and then it's a moan, loud and fucking *sweet* --

Jason groans in response and *doesn't* thrust into her fist, doesn't -- he can hold himself up by the bedpost and *watch* the way she slides her tongue out and tries to work it into the slit, tries to fucking *taste* him -- "Tim -- Tim, that feels -- oh *fuck* --"

She moans again, *pants* -- and then she takes him in, just the head --

Strokes him and *sucks*, and Jason feels his eyes rolling back in his head and tries to think of something good to say, something about going slow, about how he'd be okay if she -- if she *stopped* --

It's too much. It's -- her mouth is hot, *soft*, and he's getting harder, fucking -- filling her *mouth*, and that --

Fucking *dozens* of fantasies, nights dreaming of this with his right hand working and his left fist in his mouth, licking his fist and biting it as he dreamed of lipstick smears and the sounds she'd make --

Wet and fucking obscene --

Low and *dirty*, and she's still working him with her tongue as she sucks, as she *strokes*, and it looks like she's pumping him into her mouth, like she's dragging him into it, fucking *demanding* his dick, and oh, he wants to give it to her, wants --

Jason feels himself shaking and reaches to cup the back of her head with his free hand --

She moans *loud* around him and takes more, and if she was wearing the wig he'd be tearing at it right now, because it's all he can do not to claw and scrape at her buzz. He --

He can just hold her there, cup her and stroke with his shaking hand, bite his lip hard to keep from yelling, and -- oh, he wants to touch her more, feel her all over, taste *her* until *she's* shaking, until she knows how much he wants her, how beautiful and fucking *perfect* --

"Tim -- Tim, I can't -- you're making me fucking crazy --"

She opens her eyes and looks at him, and Jason hears himself whimper -- locks his knees to keep from dropping --

He can barely remember *anything* about the last time someone had done this for him, vague memories of long, blonde hair that he wished was red, soft lips that should've been harder, soft hands that should've been *stronger* -- "I want you, oh -- fuck, I want you so fucking badly --"

Another moan and this time he can't keep himself from thrusting, just once -- Tim gags and pulls back --

"*Fuck*, sorry, sorry, just -- squeeze me harder, I won't -- please --"

Tim hums and does it, squeezing hard enough to *hurt*, and Jason strokes down to the back of her neck, drags his fingers over the soft fuzz until she shivers --

"So good. So -- I want to make you feel like this, want to give this to you --"

She closes her eyes again and goes down a little farther, gagging *herself* --

"No, don't -- don't do that, don't -- it's good, it's *good* --"

And the sound she makes is frustrated, almost angry --

"Okay, I'm not protesting, I'm not -- do what you *want* --"

She looks at him again, and the smile in her eyes is either pure Batgirl or just what happens when Tim is *that* serious about driving Jason out of his fucking mind -- no matter what clothes she's wearing. Either way, it's fucking mesmerizing, to the point where he doesn't quite *feel* what she's doing until his hips are already moving, already --

She's *pulling* him in by his dick and pulling him right back out again, slow and hard and not too deep --

Just deep enough that Jason groans and lets go of the back of her neck --

She makes an *unhappy* sound --

"Just -- I can't -- can't be gentle and still do this *slow*, sorry, I --" Jason groans again closes his hand into a fist, punches his own thigh once, twice --

She grabs his hand and pulls it to her face, rubbing her cheek on his knuckles --

"Oh -- God, Tim, you -- I don't -- I *can't* hurt you, I can't -- mother*fuck* --" Teeth. Fucking -- *teeth*, and it's just a little drag, just --

Fucking *scrape*, and he doesn't mean to growl, but he's doing it anyway, thrusting faster because he needs to, needs more of *this* --

"I love you so *much* --"

Wet moan and she squeezes him even harder before loosening her grip enough that Jason can slide through her fist and into her mouth, over and over --

"Never -- always wanted this, wanted *you* --"

And she covers her teeth again and starts to suck rhythmically, hard every time he pushes in so it seems like it just gets tighter with every thrust, *hotter*.

"I -- not gonna last, baby, I -- slow down, or -- I don't know what you *want* --"

And she cups Jason's hip with her free hand and urges him faster, maybe *harder*, and that's all he needs to know right now. That's -- that's everything, and maybe Batgirl isn't supposed to order Robin to come in her mouth, but if anyone has *any* right to set fucking terms, it's her.

Jason takes a breath and opens his fist, strokes her cheek awkwardly -- his fucking palms are sweating, but she nods, hums and moans --

She wants to be touched for this, wants to be -- maybe wants to be able to feel with more than her mouth just how close Jason is, how good this is --

He's shaking again, and it's not going to stop. The best he can do is just stand here for this like another damned post and keep stroking. Her cheek, her throat and shoulder, the back of her head --

*Would* she grow out her hair?

Maybe not as long as Dick's, but she's *used* to working with a lot of hair in the way, and maybe --

He *wants*, and suddenly he's thinking about dancing with her, about kissing her and flying with her, always --

He *needs*, and he can't keep himself from thrusting deeper and she's not stopping him, giving him more and more, and Jason can feel the flutter at the back of her throat that means she's being fucking *ruthless* with herself --

Batgirl --

"*Tim* --"

And she squeezes him *hard*, and Jason feels himself tipping over the edge for a hard, hot second before he can't feel anything but white-hot pleasure, burning him all over and making him jerk and spill, over and over --

That flutter gets *serious*, but he can't, he --

He hears himself shouting but it keeps going, she keeps *sucking*, fucking wringing him *out* --

And then he's staggering back, keeping his feet more by luck and practice than by anything else, and she's coughing and gasping, and maybe he shouldn't be tackling and hauling her up onto the bed before stroking her chest and tilting her head back, but --

She clutches his shoulders and holds *on*.

"You're good, baby. You're -- you're fucking *fantastic* -- okay, laughing's probably going to make it *worse*, but --"

She sounds good. She sounds happy and *amused*, and that's the best possible thing. Jason keeps stroking her chest and lets himself kiss her face. Her cheeks, her chin --

He *licks* her chin, and the laugh turns into a sharp little moan, just like maybe she's remembering those times when Jason hasn't kissed her so much as he's licked her mouth, her lips and her teeth --

("*Puppy*--" "I *do* like it doggy-style...")

Yeah. He does *that*, and she laughs a little more, and the gasps start sounding less like recovery and more like -- more. And when Jason *does* kiss her, she wraps her arms around his neck and bends a knee up, planting her foot flat on Jason's bed, and somehow that feels like more than anything else.

Like -- like a statement of *intent*, or -- he doesn't know, but it makes him moan into her mouth, moan again for the *taste*. He isn't quite pinning her, but he can feel --

She's hard for him. She's.

Jason bites her lip and holds on for a moment, another -- pulls back and just looks at her, eyes closed and cheeks flushed, mouth swollen and wet. "You liked that."

"I --" She opens her eyes and smiles. "It would be fair to say that I've wanted to do that for... quite some time."

Jason grins back. "Yeah, well -- *warn* me next time and I'll try to do a little better."

"Next time. I... I like the way that sounds."

Which means his heart can start beating again. He shifts until he's on his side beside her and cups her face. "Me, too. I... I really want to make you come."

Tim licks her lips and shivers --

"Still tasting me?"

"I -- hmm. It's going to be somewhat emotionally challenging to brush my teeth tonight."

Jason snorts and strokes her cheekbone with his thumb. "Trust me, you'll regret it in the morning if you don't."

She raises her eyebrow and doesn't -- quite -- meet his eyes. "You have... a lot of experience."

Jason smiles ruefully. "Some good, some bad. It's completely okay that you don't --"

"I'd like to... I mean, if you ever wanted to talk about it..."

"I haven't even talked about it with Bruce --"

"Oh, I'm sorry, I wouldn't --"

"But I would with you," he says, and kisses her again, soft and slow.

She moans and pushes her hands into his hair, cups his head and holds him for it, which is the best possible reason to make it deeper, give her *more* until he can start tasting *her* again. She sucks on his lips one at a time, sucks his tongue --

Goes *down* on his tongue, and that's something she almost never does on the street unless it's been *that* kind of night and they're both sweating and wired up *tight*.

She *wants*, and God, please, she has to let him give it to her, one way or another --

Anything she *wants*, and Jason pulls back and pants against her mouth, licks her lips, and maybe...

He licks her cheek and her chin again, down over her throat --

"Oh -- Jason --"

"Are you sensitive here?"

"I -- apparently so?" She laughs --

And gasps when Jason sucks her Adam's apple --

"Oh -- you're making me want my uniform --"

"Too much?"

"Just -- ah. Uncomfortable reminder?"

Which doesn't really bode all that well for him getting his mouth on her *dick*, but -- "It feels good. *You* feel good, and you taste -- heh." He licks around her Adam's apple, and down to that little hollow. Dips his tongue there and feels her shiver and clutch at his hair.

"I just don't... I want --"

"You want to be beautiful like Babs, like... oh, Dinah. Fucking *Selina* --"

"She really was quite professional about my training --"

"Uh, huh, and she's never left a whip scar on your inner thigh, either --"

"That's *hers*?" And the growl sounds completely unintentional, lower than Tim ever really pitches her voice -- heh.

"You can bitch her out for it some other *time*," Jason says, and kisses the side of her throat with a *lot* of tongue --

"Ohh. I. Jason, would you -- touch me?"

*Way* too soon for his dick to be asking *where* like that, but he's *not* complaining, and -- it's a good question. "Where?"

"Ah -- ah."

Jason nuzzles in the wet left by his tongue --

"Throat. My -- where you're not. Kissing me."

Jason strokes down from her face and cups the other side of her throat, presses beneath her Adam's apple with his thumb --

"Ohh. That..."

"Yeah?" Jason licks her again, back up over her jaw, her cheek. "You're so *pretty*. I mean, you're beautiful, and that's one thing, but you're just -- uh."

Tim smiles and opens her eyes. "Pretty, too?"

"Mm. Maybe I mean touchable," Jason says, and squeezes her throat a little, just to see --

She narrows her eyes and presses up into his touch.

"Oh, *yeah*. Fucking sexy, too, but that's different. You're... like a picture, like art. I. I think about you all the time, and you'd *think* I'd have come up with better words by now, but -- "

"Jason. You make me feel..." She sighs and pulls his hair *hard* --

Jason bites her throat, and his teeth almost want to feel nomex and kevlar, but it's better to feel skin, soft and giving --

"Oh -- oh, God, I didn't mean --"

Jason pulls back --

"No, don't *stop* --"

Jason does it again, pressing with his hand, and she *bucks*, groans and shudders and pulls his hair, scratches his *scalp* --

"Jason -- Jay -- oh, your *mouth* --"

He licks the skin between his teeth, gets it wet and keeps licking, sucks and wants and *doesn't* want to mark her, but --

"I -- I've never had a *hickey* before," and her laugh is breathless and high, she loves this, wants it, and Jason strokes down to that little hollow, presses his *thumb* there --

She makes a gurgling sound and bucks again, pumps her lean hips, and Jason's palms *ache* with wanting to touch her, wanting to stroke and tease and just give her everything, do *everything* --

"Jay -- oh, Jay, I -- it hurts, but --" She groans and gasps again, again -- "*Please* --"

Jason pulls back --

"Oh -- *no* --"

He kisses her hard, forcing her head back a little until she starts fighting to kiss him back, until she's *yanking* on his hair and writhing a little, so beautiful -- "Let me touch you." And that came out like an *order*, but --

"Jason, I -- I don't -- I don't *know* --"

"Then -- trust me. Please trust me, Tim, I only want -- you know what I want."

Tim bites her lip and nods, takes her hands out of his hair and cups his shoulders --

"I'll make you forget all -- all the bad stuff, all the confusing stuff. I'll make you feel so *fucking* good, I *need* to make you feel good --"

"I -- Jason, please --"

"*Please*," he says, and he's pushing too hard, he *knows* he's pushing too hard, but -- "You're so beautiful, so -- all those other women have nothing *on* you, Tim. There's no one I'd rather be with, no one I'd rather *touch* --"

She -- she *sobs*, shaking all over and gripping his shoulders --

"Oh, no, no," and Jason strokes her face, strokes her mouth with his thumb. "I love you, I've always loved you -- oh..."

She's biting his thumb, and -- she rears up to suck it into her mouth, suck it *hard*, and Jason's right back by the side of the bed, shaking on his feet and needing her --


She squeezes her eyes shut and lets her head fall back against the pillow. There's a thin string of saliva connecting her mouth to Jason's thumb, shining in the lamplight --

She panting and tensed, all over -- "I'm sorry, I'm --"

"D-do it. Please, just -- don't *wait* --"

Jason kisses her and *seizes* inside at the sound of her almost wailing, at the *feel*of it against his tongue and his palate, and --

Don't wait. Don't *wait* --

He pulls out of the kiss and licks her throat again, bites her again until she moans and shudders, and then he shifts until he's on top of her, reaching down to spread her legs --

"*Jason* --"

"You can tell me -- you can make me *stop* --"

"*No* --"

And Jason has to reach up for her mouth again, get bitten and *held* while he kisses her chest, so lean, hard and scarred -- he pinches her nipple with his free hand and sucks on the other, licks it slick and fast --

"Nuh -- Jason --"

He *bites* and she cries out, arches under him, and he can see it, see *her*, clear as anything -- holding herself up on one hand and using the other to fucking *torture* herself while she rubs against the sheets and wants something she thinks she can't *have* --

Jason growls and bites her harder, licks to soothe and moves to her other nipple --

She's sucking his thumb again, moaning around it and tossing her *head*, and he has to make this good, has to make it so perfect she won't be able to *not* want it.

He rears up and she's so *hard*, blood-dark and rising for him, fucking *reaching* for him, and Jason licks the palm of the hand she doesn't have and wraps it around her, squeezing and stroking while she sucks, while she whimpers and *shakes* --

"You feel so good in my hand, baby. You feel -- I've *wanted* this, just this --"

"*Please* --"

"And more, too. A *lot* more," and Jason tugs his hand away --

She brings her own hand up so fast she nearly punches herself in the *mouth*, and Jason has to take a moment to watch her biting her fist, watch her --

Her cheeks are wet and she looks like she's *hurting*, and he has to -- "Stay with me, Tim, stay -- it'll be okay -- I. I just have to taste you --"

She nods and arches again, beautiful and *hungry*, and she's pumping into his *fist*, and Jason doesn't know whether he wants to cover her or --

No, this first. *This*, and he shifts down the bed and catches her next thrust in his mouth --

She yells and pulls *back* --

"Just feel, baby, just -- just *feel* me," and he's there for her next thrust, and for the one after that, just riding it at first, squeezing her --

It's been a long time since he's done this, but it's not like he's forgotten how. Only -- he's never done this for *her* before, and he doesn't know what she likes, and he -- it's something he *needs*, because this *has* to be good, has to be *right* --

He sucks her hard and she *stops* thrusting -- no, she's arching up again, trying to get deeper into his mouth -- God, *yes*. He lets go of the base and takes her in, swallowing --

She shouts something that might have been his name, shakes even harder and punches the bed with the hand she's not biting. Jason grabs her hips and lifts her into even more of an arch, holds her right *there* and works his tongue against the underside.

She tastes like everything he wants, like need and fear and strength, and the scent of her is going to drive him -- the *memory* of her scent, because he's not breathing right now, not --

Oh, he wants to lick her all over, wants to flip her over, wants to watch her bend herself in half --

Pose for him --

He groans deep in his chest and sucks harder pushing her hips down to the bed and lifting them up again. It's his *turn* to urge, and the sounds she's making are low and desperate, so *sweet* --

I love you, he says with his tongue, with his lips pressed to her mound and her hair tickling him, scratching and -- it's another kind of urge, another *sweetness*, because this couldn't be better if she *had* a pussy, this --

She's *inside* him, and part of him has been waiting for *just* this since the first time she'd responded to a kiss with her tongue instead of her fist, since the first time he knew that she could want him, need him --

He'll *be* here, right here, and he'll give her everything she can think of wanting and everything he can *make* her want -- struggling. She's trying to twist her hips free, trying to --

No, *please*, but -- he lets go --

And she cries out and *thrusts* into his mouth, pushing *deep*, and Jason swallows and nods, strokes her hips but doesn't squeeze. Rides her again, and there's no rhythm to this, anymore, nothing he can really catch.

He can suck, though, taste her salt and faint sweetness, follow her thrusts and lick at her when she pulls out, swallow her down and --

"*Jay* --"

That was almost a scream, and maybe it's meant to be a warning, too, because she only thrusts a few more times before *slamming* into his mouth and staying right there where he can hold her with his throat, feel her and tease her with his throat --

She comes sobbing, clawing at the comforter and shuddering. Jason pulls back enough to catch it on his tongue, let it spill out of his mouth a little --

And pulls off when she cries out again, twisting *away*. Jason sits up on his knees and wipes his chin, licking off her come slowly and just -- watching her. She's flat on her back and panting, more naked than naked because she's flushed right down her chest and still *shaking*. He can't just watch, no matter *how* good she looks --

He lays back down and rests an arm over her chest, squeezing her when she shakes harder. "It's okay --"

"J-Jason. I."

"You taste *incredible* --"

She opens her eyes, and her lashes are wet and kind of clumped together... he brushes at them lightly with his fingers while she stares at him.

"It's -- it's really okay."

She swallows and -- it almost looks like she's *pleading* him for something --

"Tell me," he says, and tries to keep his voice as gentle as possible.

"I don't -- I don't know. I feel..." She shakes her head.

Jason frowns. "Was it... too much? Did I push too hard?"

Tim looks away -- and scrubs at her face with her hands.

"Tim, I shouldn't have --"

"You *wanted* me --"

"I shouldn't have let that -- please don't," he says, and tugs at one of her wrists --

She lets him pull it away from her face and turns to face him -- no, she turns on her side and pushes her face against his shoulder.

It feels good. It feels like he's *good* for her, even though he'd been a horny *asshole*, and he can't keep himself from holding her close. "I meant to just -- be here with you. Like this. I really --"

She wraps her arm around his back and squeezes hard, digging in with her fingers, her short nails --


"You can't -- I can't let you apologize for that," she says, and presses closer. "Not for wanting me."

Jason sighs and wants to *go* with that, but -- "It's like -- it's like Bruce said. There's nothing wrong with how I *feel*, but what I let those feelings make me *do*... you didn't want that."

"Bruce... Bruce said that to you...?"

"Uh... yeah. Last night. Either right before or right after *you* talked to him."

"I..." Tim shakes her head, takes a deep breath, and pulls back enough to look him in the eye. "The fact that you... it's not your *fault* that I'm so -- fucking screwed *up*, Jason."

"Don't talk about yourself like that --"

"*No*, I -- it felt good. It felt *too* good, and I couldn't get away from it, from the need -- it was like being trapped in my body."

"That..." Jason strokes her back. "That doesn't sound *good*, Tim --"

She laughs, soft and quiet. "Hence my point about being screwed up. God, I can't even *admit* to myself that I'm... I keep thinking that maybe I'll just get to a point where it will all fall into place. My life, my body, sex... maybe I should've just asked you to fuck me."

Jason sucks in a breath. "Uh... yeah?"

The smile on her face looks a *lot* like Batgirl. "I've done a fair amount of... physical 'research,' Jason. I like it."

"That's -- a much better picture than the *other* ones I have of you... well. *Not* jerking off."

Another laugh. "I -- I *would*. I want that, with you... if it's something that you. Ah. I think it might be -- easier."

*Easier*. Just -- really? Except that he can see it, and see her wanting to be on her belly, or on her hands and knees. And never, ever reaching for her dick. Jason shivers and Tim looks down --

"You're not entirely averse to the idea, I see."

"Uh -- I *couldn't* be, Tim. I would --" Jason squeezes her and kisses her forehead. "I'd love to be inside you --"

"Mm. *Good* --"

"But I think... I want the other things, *too*. Or -- no. What I really want is for you to love your body as much as *I* do."

"Yes, but if that happened, I'd never get anything *done*, Jason --"

"I'm *serious*, Tim," Jason says, and squeezes her harder --

"I. I know," and Tim digs in with her nails again before rolling away, onto her back.

Jason strokes her chest, and after a while she covers his hand and tugs it lower to her abdomen. "Here's better?"

"I'm. I might be trying to get accustomed to the feel of you touching me *almost* there," she says, and laughs again.

"Any plan that involves more of me touching you is pretty fucking great."

She smiles, quick and small, but it fades again -- "I just. You think of me as female, which means you think I'm in the *wrong* body --"

"Uh -- no. And if you've been thinking that, I'm sorry, because that's really --"

"But, Jason --"

"Listen to me for a minute, okay?" He presses down on her abdomen a little and watches her frown --

Watches her nod.

"It *means* that I think something screwy happened fourteen years ago, and you were born into a body that wasn't right for *you*. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing wrong at all, except that it doesn't make you as happy as it makes me. If you wind up wanting the op in a few years, I'll be right there for you. But if you don't -- well, I'll still be right there."

Tim's still frowning, but she looks at him again -- "Would you prefer it --"

"It doesn't matter what *I'd* prefer, Tim --"

"No, please, Jason. Please. I have to know."

It's Jason's turn to frown, because he really doesn't want to answer the question, because --

He thinks he knows her well *enough* now to know that whatever he says would *influence* her, and that's nothing he deserves the responsibility for.

"Tim --"

"I -- I'm begging now, Jason. If there was ever something you wanted to do for me --"

"Tim, don't --"

"*Please*," she says, grabbing his hand and squeezing it --

Jason closes his eyes. "No. I don't want -- I don't want you to have the op."

Tim blows out a breath. "I -- oh."

"There's nothing -- if you'd been born female, I'd still love you, and I'd love *making* love to you. But you weren't, and no surgeon could make you better than you are now," he says, and opens his eyes again because he knows she'll want to see them.

She searches him for a long moment and then nods. "I -- thank you."

"It still doesn't matter what I think --"

"It matters," she says, letting go of his hand and turning on her side again and pushing close. "It always matters."


He dreams he's having sex with a thin, dark-haired woman with the wrong eyes. He can't tell what's wrong about them, but he knows if he figures it out that she'll be Tim again.

She clutches him tighter with her arms and her legs and her pussy, and she sobs for more, *faster*.

She feels wonderful inside, slick and soft, and it's hard not to call Tim's name. It would be cheating to call Tim's name, and he never cheats --

He has to fix her *eyes*.

She sobs again, and Jason keeps thrusting, keeps giving her what she needs, taking what he wants --

If he doesn't figure it out soon --

Another sob, and another, and it doesn't seem to have anything to do with what *he's* doing, anymore. He's losing her, and -- motion --

Jason wakes up and opens his eyes just in time to see Tim moving for the door. "Tim, wait --"

"I -- no. I have to. I have to be alone right now, Jason, and that's -- not going to happen in your *bedroom*." She laughs, and it's *completely* false, and he knows where the sobbing sounds had come from.

He gets out of bed and goes to her, cupping her shoulders --

"It's just. I woke up in your bed instead of my own, and I realized I'd never wake up in *my* bed, again, and -- it's stupid, Jason, just let me go lose it --"

"You shouldn't be *alone*, Tim --"

"I'm *not* alone. I know you'll be right here, and there's Bruce and Alfred, too -- I. Please."

Jason frowns. "Look at me...?"

She sighs and reaches up to grip his arms, strokes them, and that's better -- she looks up. Her eyes are red around the edges and the plea is there, again.

"Tim, you can tell me --"

"Anything, I know. I -- I *know*, and that's the problem. There's a little voice in my head telling me -- asking me how it feels to give up my family for... this."

"And would Bruce have been so gung fucking ho to take me home if he hadn't known Two-Face had murdered my father? Like *that*?"

Tim sucks in a breath and squeezes Jason's arms hard before letting go. "Jason, you -- you can't think that."

"Yeah, *well*? I didn't really have anybody to chase those thoughts out of my head way back when -- I just couldn't *talk* to Bruce, at first -- and it didn't do me any good. What were you planning? Going back to your room and crying in the dark, letting the guilt sink in good and deep?"

She turns away -- growls under her breath and turns back -- "And if I was? You can't *fix* me, Jason. I'm not -- I won't be your *project*."

Fucking -- ouch. But. He knows where that comes from, too. "You're not my project, Tim. And there's nothing about you that needs to be *fixed* --"

"Oh, yes, I forgot, you want me to just stay in this body for the rest of my *life* --"

"It's not a *prison*, Tim, and -- hey, are you *actually* mad at me for something or are you just trying to get me to leave you alone so you can tear yourself up in peace?"

And her face pulls into the kind of snarl he's only ever seen her use when there were kids involved, when it was just *that* bad, and she's rigid under Jason's hands --

"*Talk* to me --"

The snarl fades back a little, twists into something more familiar and a lot more painful-looking. "I'm. I'm sorry. That wasn't -- I'm sorry," and she looks at him, and there's new moisture in her eyes, and --

Jason feels like he'd kicked her or something, even though he *knows* it was all stuff she needed to hear. "You're forgiven. I promise. And I won't -- I'm not gonna crawl all over you twenty-four seven. I *know* you need your space, sometimes. It's just that right now... you're not really the best judge of *when* you need your space."

"And you are...?" But there's no heat there. It's almost an honest question, and it makes Jason --

He pulls her into a hug, wondering if this is how Dick feels all the time, like the world just *needs* this from him whether or not it knows it. "I'm -- probably not the best judge, either, since all I want is to be with you, but... yeah. I'm better at this, right now."

"I don't. Want to cry again. Not in front of you."

"Well, how about if we get back in bed and I'll turn over on my side and hum something for a while?"

That choked sound doesn't sound all that much like a laugh, but he's betting that it was, anyway.

"The thing is -- it's better if you get the crying out. It's like -- some part of you needs it, Tim, and if you keep holding it back it'll just be worse when it *does* come out --"

"I wasn't thinking about them for hours. My parents. Just -- hours, and I wasn't thinking of them even a little bit, and I think I need to pay for that."

Jason hugs her tighter, and she pushes her arms under his own and slides her hands up his back to grip his shoulders. "Do you really think -- I didn't know your parents even to look at, Tim, but don't you think they'd want you to be happy?"

"I think they'd want me to be responsible. Respectable and -- and smart about things." Another cracked sound. "Happy. I... they thought I was happy with my life, and I was. It's just that they didn't know what that life *was*."

Jason frowns and -- he doesn't really like the picture of the Drakes he's building in his head. Had Bruce known them? He must have, or -- Bruce *Wayne* would've known them. What had *he* thought? "You... you don't think they would've approved."

"I *know* they wouldn't have. The things they said about vigilantes... my father wanted us to move to a quieter city, one with more -- respectable -- heroes." Tim shakes her head, dragging her face against Jason's shoulder. "Do you know... I never really wanted to tell them. Not -- not even a little bit."

Jason starts walking them back to the bed, slowly and -- slowly. She follows with a sigh, and Jason tries to figure out what she wants him to say to that -- no. What she *needs* him to say -- "They weren't really a part of your life. Your *real* life."

Tim's breath hitches, and she pulls back -- only far enough to sit down on Jason's bed again, curl her fingers over the mattress. She looks small and exhausted, like maybe it would be *hard* to get Batgirl out of her even if he pushed, and... damn.

He gives her the stand down gesture reflexively and she nods, once. Jason crouches by the tray, opens it and finds -- a thermos. Undoubtedly full of Alfred's world-class cocoa. Two mugs. Well, that works, and never mind even trying to figure out where Alfred's head was at when he'd decided to give them a *thermos* instead of -- yeah.

Never mind.

Jason fills up the mugs and brings them to the bed, sitting beside Tim. She takes the mug and smiles at it wryly. "Is this the sort of thing I'm going to have to get used to at night?"

Jason grins. "Pretty much, yeah. If you like, I can track down some booze to put in yours. Help you sleep."

"I'm reasonably sure I never want to be drunk in Bruce Wayne's house. It's possible I'd rather be naked and staked over an anthill."

"See, you had me at the 'naked' part."

Tim snorts and drinks her cocoa, neat little sips that don't really seem to be as *appreciative* of it as they should be, but Jason has to admit that she wouldn't look all that great with a cocoa mustache. Jason downs his in the standard three and a half deeply satisfying gulps and wipes his mouth with the napkin, setting the mug down and letting himself fall back on his elbows.

Tim turns and just... looks at him, up and down and again, lingering on his thighs, his abdomen. Possibly his shoulders. It *could* be his jaw, and --

Yeah, Jason plans on doing everything possible to keep getting looks like that, especially for the blush that goes along with it. He reaches out and takes the hand not holding the mug and brings it to his abdomen --

Tim closes her eyes. "Not the action most conducive to -- talking."

"Mm, well..." Jason watches her fingers splay against his skin, and it seems like the best kind of too much that he's also *feeling* it. Strong fingers, callused and a little rough.

Stroking down to his abdomen and tugging a little on the hair there. He watches her take another sip of cocoa, watches her swallow.

"I figured -- you're about to hit the wall for me saying good, reasonable, emotionally *sensible* shit..."

She laughs and blushes harder --

"So. You like the way the hair feels?"

"You..." Tim shakes her head. "Every time I look at you... it seems like you keep getting bigger. More... beautiful."

He knows he's pretty attractive, that he's got *something* that makes the girls at his school -- and just a few of the guys -- go after him. He knows it's not just the fucking poor-little-bad-boy *cachet*, but that's not really... that's not what's in her voice. "Uh... I don't really think of myself that way."

"You'd be an entirely different person if you could," she says, and strokes to his navel, dipping a finger in --

Jason shivers. "You know, you can... I like the way you touch me. It always feels..." He shakes his head and grins ruefully. "More. It feels -- more."

She smiles back at him and strokes his abdomen, up to his chest, pressing her palms against his pecs --

He flexes them and she laughs -- scratches at him a little. That feels... he covers her hand and drags it back down, pushing on her fingers so she'll keep them clawed -- "Oh, yeah --"


"Keep -- keep touching me?"

"I." She turns and sets the mug down on the bedside table, and when she turns back -- she gets up on her knees and leans in, pressing her hands to his body and stroking, pressing --

Scratching and stroking more, faster and harder. Jason lets his eyes slip half-closed and pushes himself further onto the bed. Tim crawls closer and -- it's almost like she's shaping him with her hands, or maybe just making him more real than he was before.

She curves the fingers of one hand over Jason's shoulder and scratches her way down the center of his chest with the other, down and down, and he's expecting her to change direction, change the *touch*, but --

Jason jerks and moans. "Hey, I -- oh, fuck, your *hand* --"

"I -- it can't be healthy to do *this* instead of thinking about -- about my parents, either, but somehow I don't quite *care*," she says, gripping him hard and stroking.

He was pretty soft, but that's not gonna *last* -- he covers her hand with his own. "Hey, just because I wanted you distracted doesn't mean --"

"I know," she says, squeezing his shoulder and squeezing his *dick* --

"Fuck, that feels good -- hey --"

She strokes up and off, biting her lip and reaching between his legs to cup his sac --

"Or that's good. That --" Jason sits up and pulls her in for a kiss, tasting salt and chocolate, tasting *her*, more when she slips her tongue into his mouth and just *more* when she starts *working* his balls, and -- Jason pulls back. "Don't touch yourself there, either, hunh?"

"I -- is it. Not good?"

"It's *great*. Just, uh -- a little harder than most guys *would*, right off the bat. I... mm." He leans in and licks her mouth, her cheeks. More salt, and she kind of pushes her cheek against his face, rubs against his mouth. "I never want -- just you, Tim. Just --"

"You shouldn't say -- I mean, there'll be other people, someday, and we --"

"Right now. Right *here*," Jason says, and slides a hand down her back to her ass, lean and perfect -- "Were you really gonna leave without getting *dressed*?"

She laughs and pushes back against his hand. "I wasn't exactly -- thinking. Much."

"Yeah, okay, I -- tell me. Tell me you like --"

"I love the way you feel. I love -- you're so *soft* here, so. Almost vulnerable in my hand, I -- I think I want to suck you again --"

He kisses her again and brushes her hand away so he can get up on his own knees, turn and press himself against her, pull her into a sprawl over his lap so she can feel *him* --

"*Jay* --"

"Yeah. Hell, yeah. Just..." He lets go of her ass and brings his hand up to her mouth. "Lick my fingers. Get 'em wet --"

"Oh. *Oh*, I --" She *sucks* his fingers into her mouth, going down on them, up again, licking and sucking and moaning -- shaking.

"Remember -- remember we can *stop* --"

She hums around his fingers and looks at him, serious and *sharp*, and her eyes are still red around the edges, but all she's thinking about is *him*.

It feels like he's cheating --

And the dream comes back hard and fucking *heavy*, making it strange that Tim's hair isn't long, that her eyes are just this perfect --

Jason shakes it off and fucks her mouth a little with his fingers, watches her narrow his eyes and listens to her moan, listens to it get loud when he pulls his fingers out and she tries to follow them. He kisses her again, nice and hard, and she strokes his back, scratches him and rubs her abdomen against his *dick* --

He bites her lips and feels her shake harder --

"I'm not gonna -- I'm just gonna try to fuck you a little with my fingers, let you feel me --"

"*Yes* --"

"Let me feel *you*, how -- how fucking -- God, Tim, I fucking *swear* I had a brain a minute ago --"

Her laugh is high and a little crazy -- "Brains get in the *way*," she says, and reaches back --

She's holding herself *open* for him, and that -- "Oh, fucking *hell* --"

"Do it. Do -- I usually use lubricant, but I'm not that tight --"

He kisses her to keep from throwing her down and flipping her *over*, and it sounds like she's still trying to talk, still trying to *tell* him things even though his tongue is in her mouth. When she stops, she *sucks* his tongue, and Jason brings his wet fingers down where she's hot, where the skin is smooth and sleek and *thin*.

Puckered skin and that little hole where she *wants* him, where she --

He pushes in with one finger and groans because he can see her doing herself, probably fucking herself *raw* -- he pulls back --

"Tell me what you do, how you do it --"

"On. On my back --" She wraps her arms around him again -- "Jason, you're inside me. You -- Jay --"

He curls his finger *up* --

"*Jay* --" And she *digs* her nails into his back and shakes her head, pushes back with her hips --

"Oh yeah, yeah -- tell me more, tell me -- were you thinking about me?"

"Always you, always, I -- covering me, pushing in --"

"Spreading you open with my dick? Making you take me?"

Her dick twitches against him and she bites his shoulder, *really* digging in, and -- she wants him to thrust, wants him to --

He really *could've* gotten the lube in his bedside table, but maybe this is better right now. She *is* tight, but it's not too much, and *he* can feel the friction, the burn -- "You *want* this --"

She bites him harder and now she's working her hips rhythmically, and -- he has to thrust, *has* to. Just one finger and the smell of cocoa on her breath, and Jason wants everything right *now*, but especially this -- the feel of her body against his own, the feel of her getting a little harder every time he pushes in --

"Where were we, baby, c'mon, stay with me --"

"My -- my bed, mostly. You'd come to my window and break in, tell me you were t-tired of waiting for me to tell you my name --"

"Oh, *fuck*, Tim --"

She laughs and scrubs her face against his shoulder, leans in to lick his neck -- "I love the way you taste, Jason. That and -- mm. Sometimes we're in an alley..."

Jason squeezes his eyes shut and tries to *deal*, tries to be a little more than his rock-hard dick and tightening balls --

"Sometimes -- oh. Holding me against a wall, pushing my tights down --"

"I'd get down on my knees and *lick* you --"

"Oh, not -- Jason --"

"I think. I think I could make you like that, make you... fuck you with my tongue before I did anything else until you were all loose and ready --"

"Oh -- *harder* --"

Yeah and yes, absolutely, and she grunts for the next thrust, gasps for the *next* -- and then starts making little sounds like he's punching her instead of fucking her, or --

They're deep like that, *rough* like that, and Jason --

"I want you so much, want you hard and crazy for me, spread out and *open* for me --"

And the sound she makes catches on a low note, loops down and all through him, grabbing his dick from the inside and making him *crazier*. They -- they were going to *talk*, but all he can feel is her, all he can *smell* is her -- he pulls back enough to look at her --

She fucking *claws* his back, and her eyes are wide and wild, pupils blown and shoving back that sweet grey-blue...

Her mouth is open and he's just -- he's fucking the sounds out of her with his finger, and he wants to give her *more*, but --

"I'm gonna pull out --"

"*No* --"

"Just long enough to get slick, I promise. I have to -- I'm gonna give you *more*, okay?"

She bites her lip and nods, clenches around him and *pants*, and he has to thrust a few more times, just a little harder --

She clings *hard*, working herself against him, and she's getting hard, getting -- he can feel her painting him with pre-come, and Jason groans and pulls out, not as slow as he *wants* to, because she bucks again --

"Ah -- Jay... Jay, I --" She shakes her head and lets go of him, crawling backwards -- "I should've searched *your* room thoroughly. I should know where you *keep* your lubricant --"

Jason snorts and taps the bedside table. "No mystery. No *subtlety*, either," he says, pulling out the tube and opening it, slicking himself. He can smell her more than anything else. She's starting to sweat a little, staring at his hand like it's the best weapon she's ever seen, like she wants to tuck it away someplace private and save it *up* -- yeah.

"Jason," she says, and shows her *teeth*.

"On your back? Is that the way you want it?"

She nods slowly and fucking *drops* back, legs still bent under her -- until she lifts them and plants her feet -- her toes, first, and Jason can't fucking be blamed for thinking about her in her boots like this.

Maybe *just* the boots -- Jason groans and moves in, pushing her legs wider and staring at her rising dick, sleek hair -- "Just like this?"

"I'm -- convincing myself not to put my legs on your shoulders --"


She laughs and does it, digging in with her heels and pulling *in* --

"Fuck, I love it when you're fucking *rough* with me --"

Another laugh and the smile on her face is wide, almost hectic -- "I figured that out the first time I punched you in the mouth and you spat and tried to kiss me *again* --"

"I'm a bad, bad Robin, baby," he says, slipping his dry hand under her ass and lifting her --

"Oh -- you were off the *script*, Jason."

Jason raises his eyebrows. "What? You wanted me to pant and sigh from *afar*? Maybe pout and brood when you shoved me away even though I could *see* you laughing behind your face?"

She shakes her head and rubs his shoulder with her calf. "There are *rules* --"

"Hey, you kept me at first base for a *year*, BG. I think I followed those rules pretty fucking *well*."

She snorts and -- reaches between her legs, covers herself with her *hands*. "Now look away while I cover my *shame*."

"*Not* fucking likely," he says and tugs her hands away, holds them and *deliberately* stares at her, looks her up and down while she stares and pants --

"Oh... what. What are you going to do to me?" And the laughter is still in her voice, but there's more there, too. Something deeper and sweeter, dark like chocolate...

Jason licks his lips and rubs her palms with his thumbs. "Fuck you 'til you come for me. And then maybe fuck you a little more."

She shows her teeth some more and arches up, curls her fingers around Jason's thumbs --

He's getting her *hand* slick, and maybe --

"What are you waiting for?"

"Let me see you fuck yourself a little?"

Her eyes get wide and she pants, once -- twists her hand in his slick one and gets her fingers *all* wet -- and goes right for her hole, *twisting* in with two fingers and *watching* him. "Jason...."

"Oh -- baby." Jason licks his lips again and takes her legs off his shoulders, spreading them wide enough that he can *see* her --

"This. Like *this*," she says, and starts fucking herself *hard* --

"This is the way you do it? Or this is how you want *me* to do it?"

"Either. Both. I --" She groans and closes her eyes, pumping up against her hand slow and rhythmic, slow and fucking ruthless -- "I think about *you* --"

"Not Dick ever?"

She makes a shocked sound -- "Not for this. Not -- not in a long time --"

For something else? And *when*? Fucking ask a *stupid* question -- "He wasn't. He wasn't hitting on you --"


Well -- "No more than he hits on fucking *everyone*, all the *time* --"

"Barbara... nnh. Barbara said he was very. Friendly."

"That. That's Dick -- I don't wanna think about Dick --"

"I'd never --" She sighs and it catches a high note coming out of her chest, raising her free arm over her head and gripping the pillow. "He's *not* who I want."

"I'd -- kind of understand?" Jason snorts at himself. "I'm totally lying."

She opens her eyes and smiles at him -- and then tilts her head back and starts fucking herself faster, longer strokes -- "Jay..."

"Beautiful. Fucking --"

"Anything that makes you want this, Jason. I'll do --"

"I *already* want this. Fuck, just -- that time you had me on your bitch seat --"

"You'd totaled your bike --"

"And your ass was just *pressed* against me. All real, all *you* through the kevlar and nomex..." Jason grips her ankles and bends her knees back to her chest --

"*Oh*, that -- please, Jason --"

"Please what? Tell me --"

"Don't -- don't. I need you --"

Jason moans and squeezes her ankles *too* hard, they're so slim and right in his hands, graceful -- "Want me in you, now?"

"If -- if this is enough --"

"Pull *out*," he says, and it's an order more than anything else, loud and *rough* --

She does -- and cries out when *he* shoves in with two, twisting and fucking her in the same rhythm she was using. She punches the bed, clutches at the comforter and bucks for it, twisting the ankle Jason's still holding until he lets go and then fanning that leg out.

She should be too *hard* to do that -- her dick is trying hard to get to her abdomen, leaking pre-come on her skin --

Jason feels himself drooling for it and swallows, watches her face --

She's biting her lip and shaking her head, tensed in all the *best* ways --

"So -- so good, Jay, you feel -- I want --"

"I know what you want. I -- you've got me so *hard* for you --"

She moans and urges him faster with her working hips, pushing down on him over and over, and he can't *not* think of her riding him, eyes squeezed shut as she takes him inside, as she fucks herself on him --

"Every position, every fucking room in the manor --"

"Every *rooftop* --"

Night air cooling their skin, making them get goosebumps as Jason lays their capes out --

"Jay --"

"*Yes*, Tim, I want -- I won't be able to give this *up* --"

"I love you --"

"Mine. Just -- fuck, Tim, the way you *move* --"

And she goes faster, *shoving* herself onto his fingers, panting and clutching the pillow, clutching and *yanking* on the comforter -- she should be touching *him*.

Should be --

She could dig those short nails in and *make* him do what she wants, order and beg and fucking *demand*. She's *hot* inside, around him, and Jason can't stop thinking about just sinking *in*, burying himself inside her and never fucking coming out --

He groans and she tenses, clenches up tight -- her rhythm stutters and Jason feels ruthless, impossible, like *him* keeping the rhythm is too much, or --

"D-don't stop, oh *don't* --"

"I won't. I *can't*, you feel too good around me --

"Fuck me, Jason, don't -- don't keep trying to be *gentle* --"

"I --"

"*Please*," she says, and stares into his eyes, pants and it's like her whole body is begging, like every twist and writhe is something for him to hear and understand and *feel*, and --

He could. He *wants* to, but he doesn't know -- it might be too *soon*, too much for her after all this time waiting, teasing and playing -- "Tim..."

"I don't -- nothing but you. J-just *you*."

And Jason feels himself nodding, feels himself getting ready to pull out even though he isn't sure he'd actually made a decision. He doesn't know if he's *capable* of making a decision right now. She's --

She's in his *bed*, and she wants him, and all he wants is to stroke her a little while he's fucking, make her get used to the feel of it, make her like *that*, too --

And that shouldn't *be* a lie, but it is. He knows he *has* been harder than he is right now, but he can't parse the knowledge into actual memories, can't think of anything other than the fact that she's still pumping her hips, dick swaying a little, dripping more pre-come on her belly --

*He* wants to beg, and he's already on his knees, already between her legs, already so fucking *hungry*. He takes a breath and hears it come out on a whine --

She's still staring at him, lips parted and still a little swollen -- "Jay..."

Jason closes his eyes and pulls out, grabbing his own dick and whispering something that might be a fucking prayer but is probably just *please*, over and over --

And she lifts her legs and puts them on his shoulders again, and that --

He can't -- he kisses her ankles, licks them and strokes himself, slicks himself up and reaches for more lube. He has to be wet for this, get *her* wet, and she's still watching him, still staring -- there's nothing in her eyes now but *want*. She's almost blank with it, and Jason thinks that *one* of them should be thinking better than this, but maybe that just isn't possible right now.

This -- this will make it better, get them closer to where they need to be, if only just to the point where they can figure out where that place *is*. She closes her eyes when he strokes more lubricant around her hole, shivers and Jason can feel her clenching against his fingertips, feel her opening up again --

"Need you --"

"Yes, Jay, you --" She laughs and it sounds completely breathless, like maybe he'd worn her out in some wordless and important way -- "I need you, too..."

"You *have* me," he says, and he wants his voice to sound better for this, more smooth or less desperate and almost *angry* --

She shivers and reaches down, and Jason realizes he's still stroking around and around her hole, trying to --

He doesn't know *what* he's trying, since she's as ready as she's going to get, but he thinks he maybe needs a touchstone, some baseline of connection to make this make sense. He was just going to *hold* her -- "Tim --"

"It's okay. It's..." She strokes his wrist and squeezes it hard until he stills his fingers --

"We -- I think we're out of *control*, here --"

"We are," she says, and her voice is low and almost calm -- save for the rough growl under it.

He can't *not* meet her eyes. They look almost black in the light, huge and full again, the hunger only a haze over the rest of her expression. "Tim, are you --"

"I'm not sure of *anything*, Jason. I -- thought you'd figured that out, already," and her mouth quirks a little...

It's his cue to say something about how they should wait, ease back a little bit. Hell, maybe go *outside* so that they could maybe smell something other than each other, sober *up*, but all he can manage is to shake his head a little --

"Jay. I'm not going to regret this unless you do."

That's -- it's a promise, and a threat, and a hundred other things Jason can't even wrap his head around -- she loves him. And he loves her. Jason closes his eyes and tugs his hand away from her, grips himself and moans so loudly he shocks himself a little --


"Yeah," he says, and "yeah," and when he opens his eyes she's holding herself open and looking right at him, and -- he's waited too long, already.

He kisses her ankle again and lines himself up, brushing her fingers with the head and making them both shiver before he gets himself straight and pushes --

She gasps, high and sharp, and he can't look at her yet, can't look at anything but the way his dick is sliding *in*, stretching her open for him --

So tight around him, so warm and *sweet*, like a taste *just* for his dick, or -- he's not thinking, he *can't* think. It's all images and sense, and the knowledge that he won't be able to deal with just his own hand, anymore, that none of his little tricks and teases will be *enough* now that he's had this --

This *feel*, so good, and Jason realizes that he's moaning continuously when he runs out of air and still needs to moan. He gasps in a breath, another --

"Jason --"

"Tim, this -- this is what you want --"

Nothing, no sound -- he looks up and she's nodding and biting her lip, not *breathing* --

"*Relax* --"

She tosses her head back and cries out -- and the pressure eases around him for a white hot moment --  he's in, all the way, and Tim's gasping like Jason had been choking her, like --

The way she'd looked with her *mouth* on him, that flutter he'll feel in his fucking *dreams* --

Jason thrusts, much too soon -- she cries out again and moves her hands, sliding them up over Jason's abdomen, his chest -- she's bent in *half* and still touching him, eyes squeezed shut --

"Open -- Tim, let me -- let me see --"

"*Jay* --" And her eyes are *wild*, but it doesn't look like panic, and that -- he can *work* with that --

"It's okay, I -- I'll stay right here for a minute --"

"*Please*," and her hands are on his shoulders next to her *legs* -- she wraps her arms around his neck and *pulls* --

"*Fuck*, baby --"

"Fucking *baby* --" And her laugh is loud and wilder than her eyes, moving up and down the scale until Jason leans in, until he's folding her legs up against her *chest* --

"Fucking *beautiful* baby -- fuck, so *deep* --"

"Y-yes, oh -- Jay --"

"Like *this*?"

She grins and *rears* up, biting Jason's lip and shouting through her teeth --

And Jason's hips fucking take *over*, grinding and pushing --

"Ah -- ahn --"

He kisses her and grinds harder, feeling her shudder all over him, clench around him until thrusting seems like it would kill them both, *hurt* her --

"*More* --"

"How do you even have -- have fucking *air*?"

She chokes on her laugh, groans and claws at the back of his neck -- pushes her hands into his hair and *yanks* him into another kiss, licking the underside of his tongue until he thrusts into her mouth --

Fills her *there*, too --

Oh --

A part of him realizes -- *understands* that his hips had never stopped moving, but it's more important now, deeper or harder or -- he doesn't know, but she's groaning into his mouth loud enough to make his tongue feel like it's humming, buzzing like the thing at the base of his spine that's going to yank him right out of his body if he just keeps doing *this*.

He kisses her down to the bed, breathing a little easier at the loss of tension, at the shift in angle that makes things a little harder, a little --

He almost has to *fight* for it, now, struggle for every thrust --

She's pushing against him with those long thighs, bending her feet in to drum against his back, dig in with those sharp little --

Fuck, he wants to do this when she has her boots on, even if it gets him stabbed, fucking *especially* if it gets him stabbed --

The sound changes and Jason realizes that she's not moaning, anymore, probably not breathing -- she shudders all over and Jason pulls out of the kiss, tries to ease the pressure --

She gasps and *bucks*, *yanks* on his hair -- tosses her head and moans with him, begs with every part of her, including the clench and release around his dick, seemingly harder with every thrust --

They're shaking the bed, shivering the headboard against the wall --

He's *inside* her, and it's nothing and everything like his fantasies. He'd never guessed she'd be so wild for it, and he'd always known he'd be helpless sooner or later, that he'd just go and *go* until she stopped him, until she pushed him away --

She's pulling his hair hard enough now to make his *eyes* tear, and maybe that's not the only reason. She's *hot* inside, slick and perfect, moaning until the sound strangles in her throat, gasping and moaning again --

"Jay -- *Jay* --"

And her voice cracks on his name, making it sound like a weapon in the air between them, something that could hurt him, hurt them *both* -- "Here -- here, Tim, inside you --"

She growls and *fights*, kicking his back and trying to thrust up against him, get *more* --

Harder, then, and it feels so good he has to squeeze his eyes shut --

And suddenly everything else is clear, the smell of her and the smell of her *wanting* him, the taste of cocoa, the sounds she's making --

The sounds *he's* making, and he realizes that it's actually words, he's cursing and begging her with every breath --

He's shuddering and her thighs are sliding against his chest with sweat --

Jason groans and kneels up, twisting free of the hands in his hair and *losing* some. He pushes her legs off his shoulders --

She wraps them around his waist *immediately*, squeezing him and pulling him *in*, fucking hauling him until he has to brace his hands on the pillow to either side of his head and -- fuck *yeah*. He can move a little better, now, lean in and pull back --

Not too far before she digs in with her knees and *demands* --

"Not -- not goin' *anywhere* --"

"Make -- keep going, keep fucking me, don't *stop* --"

"Want you to come. *Need* you to come, baby, Tim -- show me how much you *need* this --"

Wordless noise like a razor to his fucking *spine*, hot and painful, perfect -- he braces himself on one hand and touches her mouth, presses on her swollen lips until she starts licking --

"C'mon, bite me again, let me -- fucking *ow*, *yeah* --"

She growls again, teeth digging in against his fingers -- she's licking the tips, sucking, and the only possible response is faster, harder, *more* --

"Jay, I -- please, I --"

"Tell me --"

She bites him again, clenches *hard* around him --

"Fuck, you're so *tight* --"

She cries out and works her hips, and there's no rhythm to it at all, there's --

He can *feel* himself wanting to just fucking *rut*, but he needs to keep a little control, he -- "*Come* for me, Tim, you love this, you *want* it --"

"*Yes*, I -- I can't, I -- *please* --"

"Just tell me, c'mon, I'll do anything for you, anything you need, anything you want --"

"T-touch me -- touch -- oh, *fuck* --"

He strokes her face with his slick fingers, her cheek and her ear, her buzz --

"No -- n-no, please, *please* --"

And Jason feels something breaking loose inside him, something hard and important and possibly connected to his ability to *exist*, because what if she means --

He has to *try*. He reaches down between them and grabs her dick, hard and hot and slick in his hand, dripping pre-come constantly, making his hand feel so *right* --

She whimpers and chokes, whimpers again --

Opens her eyes and *begs* him, and --

"It's -- it's okay, Tim, it's -- you feel so good, so right --"

"Please -- *ahn* --"

Jason thrusts *hard* and squeezes, and she closes her eyes again and arches for him, hips stilling -- "No, c'mon, keep -- keep moving, keep -- oh fuck, baby, just like that, right into my *hand* --"

"Robin --"

"*Batgirl*. Let me see you come. Let me *feel* it --"

She *yells*, twisting and writhing, bucking for more and he can give it to her, over and over until he's crazy with it, fucking *high* on it --

"*Please*, baby --"

And she goes so rigid Jason gets *scared*, she's --

Arched in a bow -- and fucking jetting all over his fist, her chest -- he points her dick at himself and gasps at the feel of her coming on him, feels himself twitch and -- not yet, fuck not *yet* --

But she *screams*, and Jason loses his rhythm, loses the thread, loses --

"*Tim* --"

"Please, oh -- *please* --"

And that's it, that's --

He can't see, he can't -- he can hear her gasping, fucking *feel* her trying to catch her breath -- he *can't* --

And then there's nothing but the pleasure, the sweet-perfect *loss* --

Everything --

His arm buckles and it's all he can do to let go of her dick and brace himself to keep from just falling on her, bad fucking *form* --

And after a moment he realizes that the pain is her yanking on his hair again, trying to -- he kisses her and she clenches around him hard --

He moans into her mouth and kisses her harder, *deeper*, and now she's running her hands through his hair, tugging and stroking. It makes him feel fucking owned in every way that matters, and it makes him want to just -- stay.

He *can't*, but he can keep this up until she pushes, tells him --

She bites his lip and holds on, sucks it, too -- pulls back and lets Jason lick her, taste her sweat, the salt on her cheeks --

"Hnn. *Puppy*."

"Say the word and I'll fucking flip you *over* --"

It's more of a gasp than a laugh, but it still makes something inside Jason seize and need, love, and he's known for a long time that love can hurt like this, but it's so sweet now, so good --


"I don't. I don't think I could -- ah. Again. Tonight."

Jason licks below her eyes, one after the other. "I like that 'tonight.'"

She kind of -- hums. Shifts beneath him and strokes him with the insides of her thighs, her calves --

"Uh. You. Are you okay?"

"You know I am," she says, sighing and stretching beneath him, arching up and making Jason slip out a little --

They both groan and Jason laughs. "Damn, you... *damn*."

This time her laugh is more complete, fuller somehow. Maybe rounder. "I wonder what -- existing is going to be like tomorrow. On a purely physical level."

"Heh. Probably a bit more ass-oriented than you're used to. Here, let me slip out while I'm still thinking with my big head."

"Ah -- *which* big head would that be?"

Jason grins and nuzzles her cheek. "You can take me."

"The power of motivation. And... long-term planning."

Jason laughs and licks her again. "Hey, I could've been small. *You* only felt my jock."

"Mm." Tim strokes the back of his neck -- "I suppose Batman could've simply been giving you room to grow."

"He's considerate like that," and Jason does half a push-up -- "Deep breaths, now. This'll probably hurt a little."

She nods and does it, and the sound she makes is kind of high and sharp, but all she does when he's out is sigh -- and *grip* Jason's hair when he starts to roll to his side.

"Okay, staying *right* on top of you. Man, I think you gave me a couple of bruises."

"Ah... well. Are you complaining?"

"Not at *all*," Jason says, and nips the line of her jaw. "I kinda wish I had more friends so I could walk around in front of 'em with my shirt off."

"They'd assume the bruises were from the work, I'd think...?"

"Not with the smirk I plan on having on my face for the next, oh -- ever."

Tim laughs softly and wraps her arms around his neck, squeezing him a little.

Jason takes a deep breath -- sex, and lots of it -- and smiles. "I love the way you feel."

"I -- spent a long time convinced that you'd... miss the padding."

"Yeah, well, it looks good on you, and it even feels good -- right up until I think about the fact that it's not *real*," Jason says, rolling them onto their sides and stroking down to Tim's hip. "This is better."

Tim looks down between them -- no, she's just looking down.

"I'm just gonna keep trying until you believe me, you know."

"And then...?"

"And then... well, I'll probably start taking you for granted, refusing you sex, not getting hard every time you pull my fucking hair -- what do *you* think, Tim?"

Tim snorts and looks up again, and the smile is wry on her face. "Point taken."

"Good," and Jason squeezes her hip for emphasis. "Back to me loving the way you feel --"

"You really don't have to keep... seducing me."

"See, if I was *seducing* you, I'd have my hand back on your dick. Because I'm just that subtle, in case you hadn't noticed."

Tim smiles wider, searches his face --


"That -- handjob. It was really... it was okay."

Not the *most* flattering description in the world, but -- he gets it. He smiles back and draws a little infinity on her skin. "I'm glad. Because let me tell you, I would've had a fucking *difficult* time stopping if it turned out I hadn't guessed right."

Tim blushes and shakes her head. "I didn't -- I couldn't ask. I wanted to, but the words kept -- sticking."

Jason nods and moves his hand to her arm, strokes down to her hand and pushes his fingers between hers. "Maybe we can come up with a gesture or something, something you can do to let me know when it's okay?"

"I --" Tim snorts. "I'm sorry, but I just realized what sorts of gestures might be appropriate."

"What -- oh." Jason snickers. "Okay, maybe not. But I still -- I need something like that. Because I pretty much *always* want to grab your dick and stroke -- or lick, or suck -- but I get that sometimes it's going to be the last thing you want me to do."

"I'll give it some thought," she says, and touches his face.

Jason closes his eyes and lets her just feel him, callused fingers stroking over his cheek, his nose, his jaw. He kisses her fingers when she brings them to his mouth -- she pushes and Jason sucks them.

"We're filthy. I... mm."

Jason bites down gently and pulls back. "We could shower. You know what the bathrooms are like up here -- plenty of room."

"I... sometimes I'd take baths at the Clocktower, wishing there was any way I could excuse coming home smelling like Barbara's bath oils..." Tim shakes her head. "Anyway --"

"She is a *good*-smelling woman. So are you, though --"

"I. How do you feel about... perfume?"

Jason raises his eyebrows. "Most of 'em are too flowery for me, or too... I don't know, sharp. I trust your taste, though. I like that scent Batgirl wears, sometimes."

"Scent...? I -- oh. Batgirl gets to use some very nice moisturizer. Tim Drake probably needs a different brand."

Jason nods and squeezes her hand. "*Are* you going to... femme it up?"

"There seems to be..." She smiles again and strokes Jason's hand with her thumb. "It's a little terrifying to be honest. Specifically, the seemingly vast space between what I'm free to do and what I'm not."

"It's gotta be a little like waking up somewhere the sky goes on forever and you realize you're just a tiny speck of grit on the great big world, or... heh. Something like that --"

"No, that's about right," Tim says, twisting her hand free and stroking Jason's arm, instead. "You keep saying -- and Bruce does, too, in his own way -- that I can do anything I want, *be* anything I want..."

Jason nods.

"I feel as though I ought to know what that *is*, other than Batgirl."

"But -- there *is* more than that. Little things you didn't let yourself do before because they would have said things about you that you didn't feel free to say."

Tim waves her hand and frowns. "There are, yes, but now... well, those things could say a great *deal* about me other than just 'this is what I feel like right now,' and I'm not sure how I feel about... all of the other things."

"You're worried about us making assumptions about you?"

"Shouldn't I be?" Tim laughs and sets her hand on Jason's arm again, squeezes lightly and strokes. "You already... hell, *Alfred* doesn't commit to giving me a gender at all."

"Yeah, well, he kind of wrote the *encyclopedia* on polite and cautious. It doesn't have to mean... well, it's not like I feel like a 'Master Jason' all that often, you know?"

Tim nods. "I do know. But... it's intimidating, just the same. I'm used to playing with Barbara about these things, *playing* like I'm more feminine than I really am and knowing that *she* knows I'm *only* playing."

Are you? Jason frowns and strokes her hip. "You can always just correct us if we're reading you wrong, you know."

"That seems... I'm sorry, but that seems a bit. Awkward. I can *see* myself just not saying anything at all and suddenly waking up to find my closet full of perfectly-tailored women's clothes --"

"Like I woke up one day with a wardrobe full of clothes that fit me perfectly in *every* way, including my *personality*." Jason laughs and shakes his head. "It was pretty fucking creepy, yeah, but -- well, you *have* a lot of clothes in your size. It's not like Bruce or Alfred will make you replace everything you own."

"Mm. Yes, but... I'm now very *publicly* Bruce Wayne's ward. There'll be interviews, press following me -- and, of course, there'll be the social events."

Jason winces a little, because... "Okay, I have to admit that I was mainly just thinking of... two options, there."

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Jason sighs -- "Yeah, okay. Option number one? You go as my date. We make up a name for you or something, and you just... let it all hang out. *Let* the press wonder about my date's Adam's apple -- it doesn't have anything to do with you."

"That's... um. Hm."

"The *other* option -- you go as Tim Drake, Boy Heir. You'd rock the tuxedos pretty fucking hard, and no one has to know how you actually feel about them. *However* you feel about 'em."

Tim smiles ruefully. "No third option for Tim Drake, occasional transvestite?"

Jason shrugs. "*I* wouldn't have a problem with it. It'd be a lot more attention of the most annoying kind *possible*, but I'd be fucking shocked if Bruce cared about that, either. He could probably find a way to spin it to make 'Bruce Wayne' look even dumber and more harmless."

Tim shudders. "I never really -- I've never had to be a part of anyone *else's* deception, before. I really should've considered that."

"Hey, well... I mean, you would've had to do it with Babs, *too* --"

She holds up her hand. "Yes, I know. I'm not -- I wasn't saying that I regretted taking Bruce's offer."

"Well -- good." Definitely time to keep breathing. "And -- you don't have to make a choice right away. No one is going to expect you to show up to these things right away."

"Mm. You never noticed me when I went to them with my parents."

"I -- oh. I. Was I supposed to?"

Tim's smile is small and a little old, but still there. "Not even remotely. It was nice to be able to watch you -- no, that's a lie. It was painful to watch you without being able to speak to you, and just to watch you full stop. You hate those parties, and I can't say I don't understand."

That... well. "It always felt like my skin was trying to crawl right off my body, to be honest. It kind of makes me feel a lot better to know that a *couple* of the eyes I could feel on me were yours."

"I -- sorry --"

"*Relax*. We do what we have to for the work. You get that, I get that -- we all get it, okay?"

She searches him for a moment and Jason raises his eyebrows -- she nods and strokes up to his shoulder, curling her fingers in and sighing again. "I'll -- have to think about it."

"Hey, talk to Bruce about it. No one has been doing this longer than he has. He probably has something figured out that would work for all of us."

"Barbara and I talked about that a little tonight. What it felt like to *know* Bruce knew what we were doing, and probably everything about how we were doing it..."

"Yeah, well -- he *is* Batman."

"Quite," Tim says, smiling and shaking her head again. "Barbara said she expected Bruce to come down on her like a ton of bricks any number of times. She even had a speech prepared for it when the time came."

Jason frowns a little. "Bruce never wants to get in the way of Babs doing her thing. There aren't many people he *respects* the way he does her."

"Yes, well, knowing that *now* isn't really knowing it *then*, if that makes any sense. We were... breaking new ground. Barbara said she expected Bruce to -- try to -- take me away from her."

"Hey, he already *had* a Robin --"

"And who's to say he couldn't have had two? Well, *Babs*. And *me* --" Tim squeezes Jason's shoulder. "It's something I pretty much never even *considered* at the time --"

"Well, that was the right *idea* --"

"But it was in Babs' mind, and it really *should* have been in mine. Bruce is... in some ways he *is* this city, and he has to be the most careful man alive, because every singly mood swing of his could have life or death consequences, and I just... I don't know."

"What... what are you saying? Is there something... you don't want to spend time with Bruce?"

"No, that's not -- I don't know what I'm saying," Tim says, and scrubs her cheek against the pillow. "I guess it's all falling in on me what *kind* of life I've chosen to live, and I keep getting hit on the head with all of these desperately salient little *facts*." She laughs softly and rolls onto her back, resting her hand on her chest and staring up at the ceiling. "And this isn't really what I wanted to talk about, either."

Jason covers her hand with his own. "Tell me?"

"I never could've managed tonight -- to the extent that I managed it at *all* --"

"*I* think you did pretty fucking well, if my opinion counts for anything there --"

She laughs and turns her head to smile at him. "I love you."

"I love you, too. What's up?"

"I never could've managed tonight without Barbara giving me kind of a serious reality check about... about *bodies*, and what it means to live in them -- as opposed to surviving."

"And tonight was living."

"Oh... yes. Maybe for the first time..." Her smile is so far from being sharp that Jason thinks he might be bleeding for it. Just -- happy.

"Hey... how about *every* time?"

"Mm. We can certainly *try*... I think she might be a little lonely, Jason, and it's the kind of lonely... if I thought I could do anything about it I'd still be *there*, you know?"

Jason rubs her hand. "I think... I think she kind of pushed Dick away a little? After she got shot."

"I think she pushed away everyone who would go. I -- did you know that computers were just a hobby for her, before? That it wasn't even something she considered making a civilian career out of? She wanted to be a *police* officer... anyway. She's not pushing anymore, and that's something, but it still feels like... well, it hurts you that Bruce won't talk to you about... whatever is bothering him."

"Hell, yeah. He's my *partner* --"

"And you're probably the closest friend he has, as well as... well. I'm really not... I think Barbara *is* more like my family than anything else, but it still hurts."

"And you want to find a way to make it better for her --"

"*Yes*. Just... maybe if we worked together more fully, if the Birds and the Bats were more than just occasional allies..."

"Hey, *I'm* all for it --"

"Well. She *is* looking to recruit Huntress," Tim says, and looks at him like he's supposed to know something bad about that.

"Bruce doesn't like her? She's great as far as I'm concerned. Maybe a little too pissy about teenaged vigilantes, but that's her thing."

"I think... Bruce thinks she's too violent?"

Jason shrugs. "She hasn't killed anybody, and it's not like I don't think we're too gentle on the criminals sometimes."

"I noticed," she says, smiling and rubbing Jason's palm with her knuckles.

"Heh. Well... there's a difference between what *we* do when we're together and what I do when I'm Batman's Robin."

"And what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, Jason...?"

"Fuck, yeah," and he covers one of her legs with his own --

"Mm. I take it you don't want me going anywhere anytime soon?"

"You need to *sleep* more. It's good for you."


"Hey, I will *absolutely* shut up and let you sleep. And -- I'll talk to Bruce about things with the Birds if you talk to Babs?"

Tim nods. "Thank you."

"Hey, thank *you* for giving me an excuse to talk to Bruce about *something*. Maybe he'll slip and let on about what's actually fucking with him."

Tim smiles. "He doesn't strike me as the type to... slip, all that often."

"Heh. Talk to fucking *Dick* about that, sometime. And hey, are you really thinking of taking him up on being a Titan?"

"I -- Barbara makes sure I stay informed about the other heroes in various cities. Who they are, what they're doing, who their most difficult enemies are... etcetera. There are some disturbingly powerful younger metas out there, and at least one non-meta who may or may not be Oliver Queen's child."

"And you think you can... what, wrangle them into something useful?"

Another laugh. "I have no idea. Batgirl was always meant to do her *own* thing, and that -- mostly -- works just fine for me. I have my own territory, I have... I have *you* --"

"All yours, baby --"

"Someone has to do it. The other adult heroes aren't *like* Batman, really. The ones who've had younger partners have really, well -- fucked *up*, not to put too fine a point on it."

Heh. "Can I just say I love it when you curse? 'Cause I do."

"Noted, Boy Potty Mouth --"

"That's *not* where I had my mouth tonight..."

"I -- you liked that. Really --"

"Just like *you* liked sucking *me* off."

Tim shakes her head. "No, I know, but... I never even imagined that with you, never... I had a lot of wrong ideas."

"What -- even after you knew *I* knew?"

Tim blushes -- and turns her head on the pillow to face him. "There was... Barbara made sure I knew about... your history. As much information as she had, anyway."

Jason blows out a breath. "I could probably be mad about her sticking her nose in, but that *is* kinda what she does. Look, enough pussy-footing around. I used to hustle, and that means I had a lot of bad sex with a lot of really fucking *problematic* people. It wasn't -- it wasn't even sex. It was a job, and it was right when I probably should've just been starting to experiment or whatever..." Jason shakes his head. "I had support, though. My mother was a pro after my father ran out on us, and a lot of the women she knew helped out, showed me the ropes, made sure I was okay..."

Tim nods. "You -- if you don't want to --"

"I know," Jason says, and strokes Tim's chest. "The point is, if it doesn't freak you out too much... I always knew I'd have to talk about it with whoever I really wanted to be with, because it *is* important. I'm still not... I'm probably a lot harder on the johns we meet out there than I'd otherwise be --"

"I'd -- wondered."

"Yeah, well, most of them deserve it. There *was* the occasional guy who didn't seem like a complete prick, but they were still trying to fuck a twelve year old kid. And the ones that go after the older women... some of them just haven't gotten up the *nerve* to go for the kids, yet."

Tim covers Jason's hand. "How long were you... out there?"

"Heh. Forever. It *felt* like that, I mean, but it was actually less than a year. I'm lucky, and I'll never forget that."

"And... you thought that Bruce was... like that?"

"Well, he tied me up and dragged me back to this huge, scary Cave, tied me to a *chair* -- I mean, I get now that *Bruce* was kind of fucked in the head at the time over Dick and his own... his own *loneliness*, but it was still a pretty fucking fair assumption to make."

Tim snorts. "Well -- *yes*. I'm surprised you didn't try to stab him in his sleep."

"Well... he explained what he wanted from me, and he never made a move once he *did* untie me... fed me up and let me get clean... and he was Batman. And the women, the other guys -- they were all pretty clear about that. That I could trust him -- and Robin -- to do right by me, and even try to help me out." Jason grins, and knows it must look pretty crooked on his face, but --

Tim only nods again.

"Now it's my turn to be the one who does right by all the people who are stuck in that life because there's nothing better for them. And it's *also* my turn to see if I can figure out how to actually be with someone I care about, and maybe *use* all the little things I picked up out there the way they're *supposed* to be used."

"Jason, I -- I don't know what to say."

"You don't *have* to. Look, when Bruce put me in that school and all the little debs were throwing themselves at me like sex was going outta style..." Jason shakes his head. "I fucked around a *lot*. Hey, Leslie told me I was clean, and they were right there, and none of them were controlling whether or not I got a meal that night. And, in a way, that was *just* as fucked up as the other, yeah?"

"I can't really... judge. But, no, it doesn't sound especially healthy."

"Right, because I barely knew their fucking names, and because sometimes when they were sucking me off all I could think of was how those same people would've driven right past me without a second fucking *glance* if they'd seen me on the street, and hey, maybe they had. They were using me to get their bad-boy kicks, and I was using them because they were the kind of people who wouldn't piss on the people *I* cared about if they were on fire. And then you came along."

"What did... what did I do?" And her voice is so *small* --

"You gave me a third way. You -- God, you were sex on legs, and you *knew* it, and you wanted me -- but you didn't let me pull any shit, and you didn't try to use me for your own ends --"

"I -- I *teased* --"

"Like a *motherfucker*, but I always knew you weren't just getting your kicks *that* way, either. I could *feel* you pulling away for your own reasons, and I knew, right from the fucking *jump*, that the day you trusted me, the day you let me in... I knew that it would be everything I wanted, and I knew I had to do everything I could to make that happen."

"Oh --" And Tim turns back on her side and pushes close -- with her *whole* body, and a part of Jason is really only focused on the feel of her dick against his abdomen, but the rest of him knows that it really isn't about that, that she *needs* to be close to him right now --

Needs him to feel her. Jason wraps his arm around her waist and holds her there, tucking his head in so he can breathe against her buzz, tease his mouth with it --

"Jay, I -- thank you."

"I didn't *do* --"

"You did. You always -- you *do*, every moment of every day, and I'm grateful."

Jason kisses her head, does it again and again until she hitches her leg over his own and squeezes him that way, too. "This... this is what I wanted."

Tim nods against him. "I -- me, too."

"Do you think... could you sleep this way?"

"I plan on trying to."

Jason smiles and kisses her again.


He wakes up searching the bed, wakes mostly because Tim's not there, and has to snort to himself, because -- really.

He sits up and stretches, scratches at some of the more disreputable places on his chest -- the shower's running in his bathroom, which he knows because the door is *open*, and -- hell, yes.

He rolls out of bed and walks in -- steps back to knock on the door --

"I saw you," Tim says, and her silhouette is small and fucking *tempting*.

She tugs back the curtain and the rest of her is better, wet and sleek and wet and naked. And wet.

Jason raises his eyebrows.

Tim pulls back the curtain even more. Jason steps into the big, wonderful tub and remembers the first time Bruce had walked into his room, hauled his sore and fucking *broken*-feeling body out of bed and walked him in here. And made him lean against the door while he ran the tub. Jason grins --

Tim raises one of her own eyebrows.

"Just thinking about Bruce being Bruce. Sometimes he took care of me kind of *despite* myself, you know?"

Tim grins and leans back to let the water run over her body --

"And now I'm all done thinking about Bruce. *Damn*, you look good."

And the hips go switch, switch -- and when Jason looks up... that is definitely a smirk.

"Okay, so what can *I* do to make your brain go from zero to fuck me in zero point nothing seconds? Shake my dick at you? Play with my -- heh -- pert little nipples?"

Tim snorts and reaches up to turn the water on Jason.

"Aw, c'mon, be *fair* --"

"A girl can't share *all* her secrets, Jason."

"Oh, it's like *that*, is it?"

Tim strokes down the center of her chest, down and down to her treasure trail --

"That's fucking *asking* for it --"

"'It,' Jason? Just what are you planning to give me?"

The wrestling match is pretty brief as these things go. She's quick and mean and *slick*, but he's bigger and stronger -- and she's not being half as mean as she *could* be. It ends with Tim pressed against the tile with her arm halfway up her back and Jason pressed close *everywhere* it counts. "*This* -- is what I was planning to give you."

"Ah -- noted," Tim says, turning her head to press her cheek against the tile and also to *watch* him. "Anything else...?"

"Depends on how nice you treat me, baby..."

"Hmm." She lifts her foot --

Jason twists to avoid a stomp --

And she slides her foot up his calf and down again. "So *untrusting*."

"So fucking well-*trained*," Jason says, and tugs her arm up a little higher. She can do this stretch in her sleep, but that doesn't really matter right now. What *matters* is her feeling him, knowing that he *is*, in fact, a typical guy with a typical morning... issue.

She smiles, slow and lazy and wide. Jason leans in --

And gets shoved nearly on his *ass* when she bucks and twists, lifting the arm Jason's holding, grabbing Jason's hip with her other hand -- and pulling him back in.

"Rub against me?"

"Your wish is my *command*," and the height difference is a problem, but Tim doesn't seem to think so. She sighs when he starts thrusting against her abdomen, closing her eyes and tilting her head back. "Hey, what about you?"

"Just you, right now. Just -- mm. I want you to come on me while we're in this nice, handy shower."

"Oh -- damn. Yeah," he says, and grabs both of her arms and lifts them up against the wall, pushing them together so he can hold her by the wrists with one hand --

"I wasn't planning on trying to run away --"

"You look *good* like this, baby. You look -- mm. Ever do escape work with Babs? Have her tie you up tight?"

"Mm. Selina, actually --"

Jason makes a face. "There goes *that* fantasy --"

"Though Dinah taught me quite a bit," she says, and twists her wrists in Jason's hand...

"Oh, yeah...?"

"She doesn't have Selina's flexibility, but... she's quite creative. And somewhat mean-spirited in her teaching style."

Images, and lots of them. Hell, she *wears* a damned corset --

Tim laughs softly. "Part of me really, really wants to puncture the fantasies you're currently building in your mind. The rest... well."

"Heh. Just gimme a few minutes to really *solidify* those fantasies against the wicked, wicked depredations of truth."

"Mm. I do love it when you let that expensive education show through," she says, pushing up on her toes and rubbing back against him --

"Just don't tell anybody, baby -- I've got an image to maintain."

"Noted. Ah -- was there something in particular you wanted to do with me in this position...?"

"Well... feeling kinky?" And Jason uses his free hand to stroke down between them, cup her tight little ass -- not so tight *anymore*...

"Oh... hm. I'm feeling... curious. As to what you consider kinky."

"Well... uh." Jason leans in and bites the shell of her ear, tugs a little while he's cupping and squeezing --


"Hold still," he says, and he knows his voice is kind of husky --

And he knows she likes it, because that flush has nothing to do with the heat of the shower, and that tension makes Jason want --

A lot.

He pulls back just enough to give himself room to work, and then smacks her ass. Just hard enough to make a noise that echoes around the shower, the whole bathroom --

"Oh -- mm. Somehow, seeing that coming really didn't do anything to actually *prepare* me -- ah. Again?"

This time, the sound is a nasty little crack, and Tim pushes up even higher on her toes --

"I -- that really makes last night's activities -- well." She shakes her head. "Would you tell me... what's the fantasy?"

"There's not really... uh. I haven't thought about this. Not..."

"Not *really*?" Her smile gets wide and a little knowing. "If we're going to play it that way..."

Jason squeezes her ass again. "Hey, no -- it's just that *having* a fantasy like this first requires me having at least one fantasy of you being naked for me that didn't fall apart because of all the pieces I didn't *have*."

"Mm. All right," she says, and pushes into his palm. "I've had the fantasy."

Jason takes a deep breath -- it's really more of a gasp. "Me *spanking* you?"

"Well. I've been a naughty, naughty Batgirl. And you have... very big hands."

"Uh. Damn?"

She twists her wrists in his grip a lot more purposefully, and Jason lets go and lets her turn around. She reaches up to cup his shoulders. "Maybe another time...?"

Focus. Focus is a good, good thing -- "Well -- we *can*. We *absolutely* can. It's just... um."

"You're not all that sure about the... subtext. I understand -- I'm not so sure about it anymore, myself," and she smiles ruefully. "You keep surprising me."

"You and Babs..." Jason frowns. "You've got all the surveillance on me. You should *know* who I am --"

"It's not --" Tim licks her lips. "The way you are, with me... you're not like that with anyone else, except maybe for Bruce. And we don't have all that much footage of *that*."

"It's just -- I'm not a bad *guy* --"

"No, you aren't. Not even a little bit," and Tim strokes his shoulders and squeezes *hard* --

"I'm listening."

Tim nods once. "You... you're not even a *normal* guy most of the time, Jason. I... I could always tell that there was something in you, something different from everyone else... You're not like anyone else, and maybe I'm putting the pieces together a little, myself."

"Hey, I'm a guy with a beautiful, kinky girlfriend who likes to play rough pretty much twenty-four seven. I *appreciate* that. *Any* guy would."

"Fine. Nobody *appreciates* like you," Tim says, and strokes down his arms until she can tug his hands onto her hips.

Jason looks down, and -- she's a little hard. Not much, but -- more than she had been before those spanks. "Would you tell me what -- tell me about the fantasy?"

"In detail, you mean." She smiles again. "Over my bike. Or yours, if I was feeling especially in need of... well. The scent of the wax you and Bruce use, the feel of leather *you've* beaten into shape."

"Yeah, I'm stuck on wow. On the street?"

"Some dark little alley -- perhaps a little less fragrant than most. Barely big enough *for* both us and the bike. I -- scratch at the wall. Wonder a little how much it will change things for us --"

"It *wouldn't*," and Jason really has to make her *know* that -- he squeezes her hips a little too hard --

"I'm listening, Jason. I do -- understand. But the power balance between us, the rhythms of our relationship --"

"You call the shots, always."

Tim nods and licks her lips again. "And... and I don't. In that fantasy."

And that... that plus the things she was saying before about him tracking her *down*... "You want that? Me to... push things, a little?"

She closes her eyes and strokes Jason's forearms kind of roughly, hard -- "Sometimes a lot." She shakes her head and *squeezes* her eyes shut -- opens them and her eyes are wide and that kind of deep grey-blue...

He doesn't know what that means, yet, not entirely, but he thinks he can guess. Just -- Tim. Just Tim. "Batgirl doesn't get to have all the things *you* want."

She shrugs. "Pretty much. And it was -- difficult to let myself go enough that I could really *think* about the things I wanted with you when I was so sure that what *you* wanted was -- only -- Batgirl... but sometimes I couldn't *help* thinking about it."

She doesn't make it sound all that *nice*, but -- "I think it's a good thing. It's not like I fucking *bury* myself in Robin."

"Everything you *do* is Robin, Jay --"

"Everything Robin does is *me*, just like how everything Robin did was Dick, back in the day. I... Bruce made it *really* clear that he wanted *me* for Robin and no one else. Eventually, I kind of had to believe him."



Tim squeezes his forearms and pushes up onto her toes again, kissing his chin and jaw, *biting* the line of his jaw --

"Oh yeah, *leave* some bruises on my face --"

Tim's laugh kind of bounces around the room, hitting him all over, *touching* him all over --

"What? It's that or get a bat tattooed on my ass, and that might send the wrong *message* -- *ow* --"

*Hard* bite, and she pulls a little with her teeth, and Jason twists and kisses her, thinks about it and backs her *hard* against the wall --

She grunts into his mouth and lifts her leg up to rub against his hip and thigh, and yeah, the *first* thing she'd asked for was for him to thrust against her. This would be better with them horizontal, but it's pretty fucking good just like this, especially because --

He does it *hard*, shoving her with his hips, dick sliding all over her tight little abdomen --

Tight. Fuck, she *has* to be feeling last night, and he wants -- "Do you like it?"

"Yes --"

"How 'bout inside? Does it *hurt*?"

"Oh, *fuck*, it -- it *aches*, Jay, it -- sometimes it almost feels like you're still *there* --"

"I *will* be. The fucking *second* you heal up enough --"

"Yes, Jay, I -- *please* come on me --"

He grabs her hips and lifts her --

"Ah --"

Just enough to rub their dicks together, and this would be *much* better horizontal, but she looks so good, *sounds* so good when she starts moaning and gasping --

She's trying to be quiet and failing, because she *likes* this, wants it from him --

"I've got you, baby. Not -- not letting go," he says, setting her down and spinning her fast, and when he shoves her against the wall she moans, long and low -- "Up on your toes for me. And *stay* there --"

She nods and does it, hands splayed against the tile, back tensed --

And it's the easiest thing in the world to crouch a little and push between her thighs, wet but not slick, so this'll be a little rough. Maybe just rough enough.

"Oh. I --"

"*This* way I get to come on those long, pretty thighs... and why don't you hold your dick down for me?"

More tension, but -- she wants the *push*, and -- "I -- I don't think --"

"It's okay if you don't want to. But it's better if you do..."

And part of his stupid brain wants to think about the guy who'd done this with him, who'd pushed Jason's thighs together with shaking hands and told him -- begged him -- to hold still --

Jason shakes it off as much as he can. It's just because he was *talking* about this stuff, and he really should know better -- no, it was *good* that he did, and he knows that, but he doesn't want it getting in the *way* --


"I'm okay. Just a little brain-trash. Get your thighs together for me?"

She nods and does *that* -- and rocks a little, dragging her sac against him --

"Oh, *fuck* that's good..."

"Jay, I -- it's a little. It's what you want?"

"More than anything right now. I -- are you *okay*?"

She laughs, and he knows he must've sounded a *lot* impaired, but -- "I wasn't expecting... it's so, ah. Formal? Primitive?"


"Mm, that, too. Do it --"

"Fuck, yeah," he says, grabbing her hips and holding them *nice* and still. The first thrust feels like it might shudder him to pieces, but that might just be the way Tim's gasping for it, already --

*She* shudders -- "Jason. Jay -- *fast* --"

"So you can't think about it? Or just because you *want* it that way?"

"Either -- both. *Pick* one -- *ah* --"

Holding her ear between his teeth isn't as good as some of the other things he could do, but this time it makes her relax all over -- and she's sliding one of her hands down the wall.

"Jay. I. Please?"

That -- Jason feels himself heating up all over, starting to *need* to sweat for this -- "Tell me. Tell me how hard I push --"

"Oh. Oh, God --"

"*Tell* me --"

"*Harder* --"

And his hips take that like the order it is, driving him between her legs where they both need him to be, where it's good and hot and the wrong kind of wet, the *right* kind that'll leave them both a little raw, a little closer to the edge with every thrust. "C'mon, gimme your dick, too --"

And the sound she makes is choked and high, sweet and deadly as the sight of her shoving her hand down between her body and the wall --

And now he's rubbing her with every thrust, pushing up against the head of her dick, her pretty *dick* -- "So good, so *good* --"

"Your -- God, I -- your program of acclimatization --"

"It's a *good* program, baby. Can't you feel it?"

"I *can*. Oh, that's -- faster, *please* --"

"Fucking -- fucking love the way you *beg*," and faster is the best kind of torture, and now he *is* sweating -- and so is she. He can smell hints of it under the faint mineral scent of the water and he wants *more*. "Want you. *Need* you --"

"T-tighter. My hips --"

"Want me to leave bruises?"

"*Yes* -- oh, *fuck*, Jay, ow --"

"Sometimes just want to hold you this way, make you feel it, feel *me* --"

"Please, *please* --"

"I'm already close. I'm -- thighs so fucking hard, so fucking strong --"

"I want -- oh, I think I want to suck you again, or -- please don't stop --"

"I *won't*. I'll just think of that sweet little mouth of yours, those teeth -- wanna fuck you again, fuck your mouth and then your ass, your *thighs* --"

"Jay --"

"Want to touch you all over, I -- oh, *God*, baby, wait, wait -- let me. Just let me do one thing, trust me?"

Tim moans and shivers in the heat, turns her head against the tile -- "Okay. I -- okay --"

And Jason drops to his knees, wincing at the sound she makes, *needing* at the sound she makes, and he has to be fucking crazy to give her thighs up, the way they're shaking makes his eyes want to roll back in his *head*, but --

He can spread her, see her hole clenching in shock, maybe for that *ache* --

"Keep trusting me --"

"Jay? You. You -- oh, *God* --"

And now she's clenching around his tongue, holding him right there even as she shakes all *over* --

"Oh. Your tongue -- you -- *Jay* --"

He catches her hand before she can push him away, holding her open with the other, and if she *really* wants to fight this, she can, but -- he thrusts, hard as he can --

Her hand spasms in his own and she loosens around him, groans --

Dirty fucking *hot*, and he thinks he can taste a hint of last night's lube, but mostly it's just dark, fucking *musky*, and he needs her to like this, needs her to *want* it --

"Jay, *please*, you -- oh my God, that's --" She pants and shudders again, but she's not trying to fight his grip on her hand, and it feels like he should be able to take her *deep*, push in all the way --

He's thrusting without anything *like* a rhythm, and every clench feels like a cry, every release like *trust*.

He lets go of her hand and grabs her again, spreads her wider and pulls out to lick around her hole, up and down her cleft until she *does* cry out, and then he shoves back in and hums, promises her everything he has, anything he can.

He feels her locking herself upright and feels her body try to almost *melt* for the feel of this, or maybe for the fact that he's doing it, *taking* her this way --

Every way he *can* --

"*Jay*, I -- I think I'm going to fall down, I think -- oh, please, please, I don't know what I *want* --"

Then let me give you everything until you *do* know, and he pulls out enough to kind of wiggle his tongue --

She makes a gurgling sound and staggers, and Jason lets go of her ass and catches her by the hips again, holds her *that* way again, and he *has* to be squeezing hard enough to leave bruises --

Fucking bent over his *bike*, crying out so anyone can hear her --

No, not that, she's *his*, and he'll make her know it, he'll *show* it to her every day, he'll --

He'll fuck her, just like this, until the moans are constant, until she has to be feeling a little liquid, a little *soft* everywhere except her dick --

"Oh, God, *please* --"

Harder, faster, and if he stretches his tongue until it hurts he can get just a little bit deeper, he can be held by the way she's clenching randomly, no rhythm and a lot of *force* --

"F-fall. I -- *Jay* --"

And she collapses in his hands, and he can feel her trying to find her feet again -- she slips and Jason slips *out*, but he can lay her down in the tub facing away from the stream, lay her out --

She gets up on her *knees* -- "*Please* --"

"*Yes*," he says, and it's slurred and as wet as everything else, because that wasn't stop, that -- he'd made her *fall*, and part of him just wants to hold her and *check* to make sure everything's okay, but she's rocking her hips back and forth --

She *wants* --

And she *yells* when he spreads her this time, stills all over and sobs when he shoves back in with his tongue.

She starts shaking again immediately, tensed and pushing -- beating at the tub with her fist by the sound, and Jason wants to feel those punches, wants to *pay* for this --

There has to be a way to *pay* for this --

"*Jay* --"

He's bent over her, practically fucking *feeding* on her, shoving in again and again --

"Oh -- *ohn* --"

And now she's twisting in his grip even as she shakes, trying for more, and Jason's dick fucking *hurts*, his balls feel tight as rocks, and he knows she would *let* him fuck her again right now, that she'd want it even though it hurt --

It would be so *easy*, and it would kill him. He can't hurt her like that, can't ever not be *careful* --

This isn't careful. This isn't -- it's greedy and it's wonderful, it's --

She screams and tightens up all over, clenches *hard* around him -- and he knows she's coming, just from this -- he kisses her hole as hard as he can, feeling the pucker against his lips and drowning in the want, the steam --

She moans, long and low, and that thump -- she's collapsing on her elbows.

He kisses her again and *yanks* himself back before he can start thrusting again, strokes her back and her ass, reaches between her legs just to feel --

"Jay, please don't --"

Hisses and pulls back. "Sorry, sorry -- I -- you okay?"

"Ah -- think. I." She shudders again and looks back over her shoulder. There's a smile on her face that looks loose and anything but easy, looks *perfect*.


"You. Still haven't come on me," she says, and flips over onto her back -- and rolls up onto her knees. "I'm -- stand up?"

"Sure I can't just hug you?"

The smile gets a little sharper. "In a minute. Please."

Jason stands and she looks up at him, but her eyes are kind of distant, or... not distant enough. There's something going on in her head that he's not quite invited to. "Tim?"

Her eyes get wider and she strokes up his thighs to his dick, squeezing hard --

"Oh -- oh, yeah, it won't take -- I'm *close* --"

"Would you... would you jerk off? For me?"

"Uh? I -- that's -- really?"

Tim strokes him *lightly* and lets go. And nods, resting her hands on her thighs. "I want... let me *see*."

And she's right there, and she wants him to *come* on her, and she's right *there* -- Jason grabs his dick and tries to convince it that his hand is good enough, even though she's -- right there.

And watching him so closely he *has* to stroke.

"Like -- like this?"

"If it's the way you do it when... ah. I can't believe. I feel --" Tim shakes her head. "Please," she says again and reaches to rest one hand on his thigh, right over a scar she wasn't there for, at all.

Jason nods dumbly and gives it to himself hard, moaning out a breath that wants to be in her mouth -- "Do... do you have to be on your knees?"

"I... I can see better than I would if I were standing," she says, licking her lips and *rubbing* his thigh. "Like this --"

"Oh -- God. Fuck. On your *knees* for this --"

"For you."

"Over -- over my fucking *bike* --"

"For *you* --"

"Fucking -- *Jesus*, Tim, I --"

"Don't stop, Jay. I -- you don't know how you look like this. You *can't* know --"

"I'm not -- I can't come on your face --"

"Oh. I wasn't --" Tim licks her lips *again* -- "It's all right."

"All *right*? I --" Jason laughs breathlessly and strokes himself faster. "If I'd known you wanted me like that -- wanted me that *much* --"

"You look -- almost wild. Dangerous. Like you could do... anything. Like you *would* do anything --"

"For *you*, Tim, Jesus -- fucking *touch* me, please -- ah --"

Right for his sac, cupping it and squeezing once for every stroke, running her thumbnail over and over it --

"Tim, I need you, I need to feel you --"

"After. I -- anything you want, just -- give me this, and I'll..." Her laugh cracks in the middle, falls *apart* -- "I don't know what I can *offer* you, Jason, but this -- it feels good."

"Then -- tell me. Tell me why --"

"I've dreamed about you touching yourself for me, thinking about me. Tried to picture it. Every time you'd grab yourself and squeeze so hard, right in *front* of me --"

"Made me hard, made me -- had to get *control* --"

Tim nods. "And I'd wish I could do the same, that there was something..." Tim shakes her head. "And you look incredible, Jay, crazy with it and needing me --"

"Just you. Just -- oh, fuck, *harder* --"

And now it hurts every time she squeezes, and the pain is pushing him higher, *forcing* him higher, because Batgirl's got him by the balls like she's always had him, like it's the most natural thing in the world --

It *is* -- "God. God. More?"

"I'm -- holding myself back. I want to..." And Tim *lunges* in and licks the head, licks away all the pre-come and *keeps* licking --

"*Tim* --"

Tim covers Jason's working hand with her own, rides the motion and nods to herself -- he can feel her *learning*, and that -- he catches himself against the wall with his other hand and watches that tongue, that sweet, sweet *mouth* --

"S-suck me. Please. I -- I'll tell you when I'm close and you can pull *off* -- oh, *fuck*, yeah --"

She's watching him and going down, not so much opening wide as forcing her own mouth open with Jason's *dick* --

"Fucking -- Jesus, that's *hot*, baby --"

And the smile in her eyes is sharp and fucking *dirty*, knowing and just -- on him like a stroke, a touch -- she's still squeezing Jason's *sac*, and now the pain is like the downbeat of some song he can't quite hear, distracting him from the feel of her hot little mouth, wet little *mouth* --

"Not -- not gonna last --"

She *hums* around him, hard and loud, and Jason feels himself twitching, feels himself held and sucked, licked more --

*More* --

And he's still stroking himself a little, still -- he sees himself making the strokes as short as possible, and knows it's just another way for his body to beg her to take *more*.

It's a *tease*, and it's the best one he's ever felt, the most -- she's still smiling at him with her eyes, still loving him --

The whimper is loud and fucking *humiliating*, but it makes her stroke his hand and arm, makes her soothe and *pet* him, take care of him --

"Fuck, *now* --"

Her eyebrows go up, and for a hot, terrible, *perfect* second he thinks she'll keep going --

She pulls off and pants, licks her lips -- and points Jason's dick at her chest, just like he'd done with hers, just --

Maybe *exactly* like that, because she needs to feel him, be marked by more than that world-class hickey he'd left on her neck --

Her skin --

"*Do* it, Jay --"

And the sound he hears himself making, the stroke of his own hand -- she squeezes *hard*, and all he can do is gasp and come, moaning and fucking stripping himself --

He can hear his come hitting her *skin* --

She moans and he spills a little more, squeezing himself helplessly and trying to keep his fucking *feet* --

And he's back to himself in a rush, aware of the water hitting him for what feels like the first time since he'd gotten *in* the shower -- it's nowhere near as important as Tim, who's stroking her fingers through the mess and still watching him.

"Uh. What -- was it what you wanted?"

She smiles and nods -- and brings her fingers to her mouth. And narrows her eyes when she touches her tongue with her fingers, when she *tastes* him --

Jason shivers and offers a hand --

"Did you want me to stand up, Jason...?"

How often will you call me Jay when one or both of us isn't losing our *minds* -- "Uh. Do you want to... stay down there?"

*That* hum is a laugh. Right around her fingers. Right -- she pulls them out again. Clean. "Well. I *was* enjoying the moment --"

"Oh, I -- uh --"

She takes his hand and rolls up to her feet, shaking out her legs... and resting one hand flat against her chest and *stroking* herself.

"Jesus. I should've come on your *dick*."

Tim shivers. "That would be... interesting. And possibly effective -- depending on what your purposes actually were."

"I... well. I'd like to think I wouldn't be *that* manipulative? But it's not like I haven't thought about *you* jerking off."

That's a blush, and Jason has to take a moment to touch it, wish he could feel the heat under all the steam. She turns her face into his hand and rubs a little.

"I wouldn't... I wouldn't ask."

"I know," she says, kissing his palm -- "Look."

"Hunh -- oh. Uh -- oh --"

She strokes down her chest, all the way down, and she's tensing up hard, he can *see* that, but she just --

Strokes her dick. With the hand that's covered in his come --


That's an answer, maybe, or -- it could be another question. She's not hard at *all* right now, and -- her eyes are closed. It's -- it's so much, and he knows he can't possibly be getting all of it, can't ever understand what this *means* for her --

He knows it's a lot. He licks his lips and reaches over to twine his hand with her own -- she sighs and lets him.

"I -- you know I love the way you feel..."

Tim nods and strokes back to the base, stops and just holds *on* --


Jason takes a deep breath and tugs until she strokes back to the tip with him, forces her to squeeze herself a little --

"Oh, I -- not. Um. Not now," she says, and opens her eyes. They're not quite pleading with him, but the possibility is there.

He *could* push. He knows he could -- there are so many things he could *do* to get her hard for him again, make her need anything he wants to give her -- Jason winces at the *pull* inside his own dick, that sense of not just too soon but *much* too soon.

It feels the *hot* kind of terrible, and Jason is just -- infinitely far past being scared of the way Batgirl makes him feel. Maybe not so much for the way *Tim* makes him feel, but... right here, right now, the difference is only semantics -- either way, she fucking owns him.

And he owns her, and maybe that's *why* she's not pleading with him, yet. Maybe that's what's keeping her fingers wrapped tight around herself as much as Jason's fingers are. He doesn't know, and he doesn't *want* to push.

Not -- not now.

Jason nods and lets go, and she does, too, sighing kind of heavily and looking down and away.

For this -- he doesn't bother trying to turn her face back before pulling her in for another hug, feeling her a little more. "It's okay. You know I can wait, and I know you wish I didn't have to wait at all, and -- it's all okay."

She laughs softly and strokes his back.


Bruce is nowhere to be seen in the "small" dining room, which... well, it doesn't *have* to have anything to do with anything save for the fact that he and Tim had spent *just* that long in the bathroom, but...

No, Bruce *is* avoiding him -- he can *feel* it -- and he can't let that last.

He finishes his breakfast quickly and, when Tim looks a question into his eyes, nods at Bruce's empty chair --

"You don't think he's just... waiting for us in the Cave?"

"Oh, I *know* he's in the Cave. It's just that he's totally going to tell me to go train, maybe run that extra mile I owe him, and he's going to push and fucking *push*, and he's not going to *look* at me -- " Jason growls and waves a hand. "I want to get the process *started*, so I don't have to keep thinking about it."

"Perhaps... you could let me help?"  

"Hunh? I -- okay, tell me how."

"Well, I *don't* know him the way you do. Possibly no one *does*, but... ah. I could ask him to teach me a few new moves, get him somewhat focused on that --"

"While I interrogate him?"

Tim smiles and runs her finger over the rim of her glass of juice. "Perhaps not that. Just... ease him into talking to you, period. Simple things, easy topics..." She waves her hand. "He's uncomfortable around you right now. You're very good at *making* skittish people comfortable with you. Use that."

Bruce... skittish. The image is a little -- a *lot* -- hard to credit, but... Jason nods. "Okay, deal. We get him feeling good, *then* interrogate him."

"Or something," she says, and rests her hand on Jason's own. "It might not be... it could be something he just *can't* talk about with you, even though you're partners. Even though you love each other."

"Look, I don't know how it works with you and Babs, but it *can't* work that way for us. We're just -- we're not *anything* unless we trust each other all the way, Tim."

Tim nods, but she looks almost troubled. She squeezes his hand, lets go, and finishes off her juice. "Let's go."

Bruce is at the console when they get down to the Cave, which is a message. It's just that it's not even a *fraction* as much of a message as the fact that he's suited up.

It's not even *noon* --

Right. He stays back by the mats while Tim walks up to Bruce. Her body language is a little soft, or maybe... not shy, but something like that. Quiet. Maybe even *diffident*.

He watches Bruce stop typing while Tim talks to him quietly enough that Jason can't hear a word --

Bruce nods and stands up, and they walk to the mats, and -- Jason knows he's anything but subtle, but he feels like a damned neon sign flashing what-the-fuck when Bruce *does* look at him.

That frown wouldn't play on the street at *all* -- and Bruce looks away from him again without saying a word.

Tim gets into a ready position that makes her look like Batgirl at her *most* vicious -- or most faced-with-a-seriously-hardcore-opponent. And Bruce -- Jason can almost *feel* him focusing on Tim, looking her over for any points of weakness, any *mistakes* --

And when he nods and slips into a ready position of his own, Jason has to take a deep fucking breath. Really -- he won't *hurt* her, not enough that they won't be able to use Batgirl if they really need her tonight, but --

Come-on from Bruce, and Tim switches ready-positions almost too fast for *Jason* to track --

Leaps for Bruce and gets shoved back under a fucking *barrage* of -- pulled -- punches and strikes. She flips backward, lands on her hands and kicks hard --

Bruce dodges and grabs for her ankles --

She pushes off from her hands and flips back onto her feet -- into a spin-kick, and another --

Blocked and blocked, and Tim bounces on her toes --

"You *won't* always have your heels, and the heels themselves are not immune from breakage."

Tim nods and drops -- and rears back and away from Bruce's kick, reaching to grab him for a throw --

Bruce *slams* his leg down, and Tim follows it just enough to take a strike to the back --

"You're not strong enough for that."

Tim twists away, shaking it off and nodding --

Jason's supposed to be *talking* -- "Bruce, do you think we *should* be working Tim's upper body?"

Bruce doesn't say a word at first. He's watching the way Tim's moving, measuring the level of hurt in the way she twists and looks for an opening -- and remembers that she's not supposed to be *waiting* for this.

She moves in kicking, balance perfect and flexibility a little mind-bending --

Bruce blocks and nods, blocks and grabs --

Tim flips back again --

"I have no way to know what her potential is in terms of raw power, but it has always disturbed me that she hasn't -- seemed to -- try to increase it as much as she can."

Tim makes a sound and moves in again, fakes a punch, drops and goes for a leg sweep --

Bruce leaps over it, stomps down -- Tim rolls and kicks *up* --

And Bruce shifts back smoothly from a kick that would've put a serious hurt on his fucking tackle. He's *seen* her use that on the street, and -- talking. He can *talk* --

"You know I lost a lot of flexibility when I started bulking up, B."

Bruce goes for another grab and Tim spins on the floor like a dancer, tumbles and jumps right into a kick aimed at Bruce's reaching arm --

It's not there, and Tim's on her feet again, up on her toes -- down and moving in strong and quick, using the length of her legs to try to go for Bruce's shins and feet while Bruce punches at her abdomen --

Tim bends herself in half and claps her forearms to either side of Bruce's own -- lets go before he can yank her in, drops and rolls --

"Tim has a lot more flexibility to work with. And I strongly suspect she won't complain about extra stretching exercises." There's a smile in his voice --

Tim grunts and comes in striking and punching, using what looks like *all* of her speed and getting blocked again and again.

"Man, this is where I usually start getting *pissed*," Jason says, going for more of that smile --

"Hmm. I'm not sure Tim feels the same, Jason," and Bruce catches her arms, moves like fucking *water* into the hip check that'll let him throw her --

Tim spins around it, making another small sound and possibly dislocating her fucking *shoulder* --

No, Bruce isn't holding her that hard --

She kicks for the backs of Bruce's knees while Bruce moves forward, pulling her arm *up* --

She elbows him *hard* with her other arm, leaps up, twists *again* and wraps her legs around Bruce's waist --

And stays there, because she can't move him at *all*.

"A good thought," Bruce says, and he's *absolutely* smiling this time. "Nine times out of ten, that would work, but you'd still be better off using an opponent's grip on your arm to distract him from his genitals."

"Ah -- noted," she says, and tugs on the grip Bruce has on her arm.

Bruce lets go and Tim drops back onto her toes -- her feet. And slips into another ready-position.

Bruce looks at Jason, and the smile on his face is really fucking perfect. It's all about Tim and how much he *likes* her, how much he approves...

Jason blushes and shoves a hand back through his hair --

And misses whatever it is that makes Tim cry out sharp and *run* back --

He's going for her *hard*, pushing her back and back, making her block more than she dodges --

"Tim, don't let him wear you out. He fucking *loves* to do that --"

"Noted," she says, kicking out high and a little sloppy --

Bruce crouches --

Tim leaps *over* him, using his back as a springboard --

Bruce stands up sharply, but Tim already has her momentum, turning in the air and kicking again for Bruce's head, a little weak --

Bruce blocks it *hard*, spinning her out of an easy drop and kicking for her abdomen --

Jason's up on *his* fucking toes --

She rears back from it *barely*, striking up hard with both hands for Bruce's ankle --

"Aw, man, you gotta love that."

"Weakness into strength. You've been trained very well, Tim," Bruce says, punching down to where she's tucked a little awkwardly --

Tim twists and tries another leg sweep, and this one forces Bruce back because he's trying not to hurt her --

It still gives her time to get back up again, spin into a kick Bruce leans away from --

He strikes for *her* ankle, but she's already swinging her leg back, going for another spin-kick --

Faked and she drops again --

"Oh, *nice* --"

"One gets the impression that you're not entirely neutral, Jay," Bruce says, and this time it's a *laugh* under his voice even as he flows back from the kicks she's aiming -- fast and fucking *vicious* -- for his knees.

"Hey, you're my partner and everything, but you gotta root for the underdog."

"Must one?"

And Tim rolls back up to her feet and starts aiming kicks for Bruce's hands and arms. Fucking *dangerous*, but she still has all of her speed, and -- "Oh, *yeah* --"

One of her kicks connects hard with Bruce's palm through the gauntlet when he tries a grab --

"Don't *wait*, Tim --"

And she's *just* barely quick enough to get her leg back out of range when Bruce twists to grab with his other hand --

And then Bruce goes for her again, working her back and back, trying to get her dancing again, slowing down again --

Tim growls like Batgirl and circles Bruce -- no, comes in hard and fast, twisting *in* to a body shot and turning her forearm against the lenses of the cowl --

Jason winces --

"Time," Bruce says and grabs her shoulders when Tim stands down. "Do you always try to blind your opponents, Tim?"

Tim is blowing air and *visibly* trying not to curl in on herself -- "I haven't -- ah. Often. Only when there are no other options."

Blind...? Oh, the spikes on her *gauntlets* --

"Hm. Who taught you that move?"

Tim tries to stand straighter and winces. "Barbara. She -- ah. She told me it could be... helpful."

Bruce nods slowly, but he isn't really laughing, anymore, and -- yeah.

That really *would* be too brutal for him, and --

"You shouldn't... sacrifice yourself, that way. I could've injured you badly."

Tim looks down -- up again, and she's raising her eyebrow. "That's not your objection."

Bruce frowns. "No. But you are not my student," he says, stepping back and letting go of her shoulders.

And that sounds really -- final. "Oh, hey, Bruce, no..."

Tim winces and rubs her abdomen. "Ah. I believe it would be a terrible -- and potentially dangerous -- waste for me to not take this opportunity to learn what I can from you, Bruce. If -- if you could bring yourself to teach."

She's not looking at either of them, really, which means it's a good fucking time for Jason to grab Bruce by the gauntlet. "Seriously, B --"

"Jason, I can't condone --"

"No one is *asking* you to," Jason says, and takes a moment to check on Tim, who's still rubbing and looks a lot like she wants to sit *down*. That body-blow... Jason shakes it off. "Tim is good and so are the people who trained her, but you're the *best*. And maybe you can teach her a few things that'll mean she doesn't *have* to go for the eyes the next time some huge fucker goes for her."

And Bruce looks kind of pained, which is so far from the plan it fucking *hurts*, but -- he looks back at Tim and nods. "But you'll need to build your upper body, Tim. I feel confident that between us we'll find ways to maintain both your flexibility and... illusion."

Tim looks at Bruce and her smile is wry. "If anyone could... and, really, it's not that I made a conscious choice to *limit* myself --"

Jason can *feel* Bruce raising an eyebrow behind the cowl, and he's willing to bet Tim can, too, because she's just kind of standing there blushing.

"All right. I wanted to be Batgirl --"

"You are," Bruce says, low and kind of fervent. "No one can take that away from you. Perhaps not even yourself."

"I -- all right," Tim says again, and throws herself back into an arch that has to be killing her abs right now. She grunts and holds herself that way --

"Is that helping?" Bruce sounds honestly curious, and -- yeah, it's not like she's pulled a muscle. She's gotta be bruising up hard under that t-shirt.

"Ah -- it's putting the pain into a context I can understand. And cope with."

Bruce nods and turns back to Jason. And then he kind of *pauses* for a moment, all over --

"Yeah, Bruce?"

Silence, stillness -- and then Bruce puts a hand on Jason's shoulder and squeezes. "Run. I'm going to work more with Tim."

"You're blowing me off," Jason says quietly -- though probably not quietly enough that Tim can't hear him if she puts her mind to it.

Bruce shakes his head once -- sighs and releases Jason's shoulder. "For the moment."

That admission... maybe it shouldn't feel like more than the "please" from last night, but it does. It's enough, for now, and -- "There'll be a later."

"I know."

Jason nods and goes. It's probably a nice enough day out there that it would be worth it to take this outside, but there's something like --there's another pull inside him now. Something -- it's not that he thinks he'll lose ground with Bruce just by leaving the Cave, and it's not that he can't make himself put a little distance between himself and Tim, but...

It's better down here, where he can take in all the trophies and weak excuse for atmosphere -- no, not that.

He wants Bruce to *see* him, to feel him the way Jason feels *him*. And Tim isn't a part of that, at all, especially since he *knows* she'll be focused on learning as much as she can as *fast* as she can.

The way she'd moved... she'd poured it *on* for Bruce, maybe more than she'd done for him, and that's a little jealous-making, but only until he stops to think about it. She'd wanted to be *close* to him, wanted to touch and feel as much as anything else.

For Bruce -- she wanted to show him what she could do. *All* of what she could do, and -- man. *He'd* never been around when she'd used that blinding move, but that doesn't mean anything. Or rather -- all it means is that it's a *desperation* move.

They've never been desperate *together*.

He can *see* her using it, and she wouldn't even have to make it permanent. One good rake and the fucker's eyelids would be shredded and bleeding. Easy to fix with stitches, but it would take him *right* out of the fight, leaving him helpless enough for Batgirl to do her thing and keep moving. It's a *good* move, and it almost makes Jason want to change his gauntlets for ones like Bruce's and Tim's...

And the *second* he asked for them, Bruce would know why. He probably would even if he *hadn't* had that spar with Tim. He'd see it on him, and understand, and -- yeah.

He *has* a belt-knife, but he's never pulled it for anything other than getting hostages untied in a hurry and to slice up some of Ivy's vines. Bruce had all but *beaten* that into him, to the point where Jason had felt like it was tattooed on his brain: Just because you can doesn't mean you *should*.

They're past the days when Bruce has benched him for being too vicious, but he wouldn't put it past Bruce to start doing it again, no matter how bad Gotham got. Or... maybe not that.

But he'd *want* to bench Jason, and Jason would *know* that he wanted to, and it would get messed up between them again. Everything would go all silent and they wouldn't be meeting each other's eyes -- he can't handle that, and he knows he can't.

Better not to give him weapons he'll just want to *use* out there, and to let things stay the way they are. *That* he can handle, no matter how much some people out there really deserve the absolute *worst* he can dish out.

It's some kind of enough to know that *Batgirl* will still be there to do the dishing, maybe because she has to and maybe just because she can. And maybe that Huntress, too.

Heh. Women's work. He'll be six weeks dead and also mind-controlled before *that* stops being satisfying.

Jason focuses on his run.

When he's done -- extra mile included, thank you very much -- he heads back over to the mats where Bruce is showing Tim a kick that *he* never uses on the street. *Dick* uses it all the fucking time, and he wonders if Bruce wants to bring him in for this, too.

Some part of Bruce has to love getting the chance to do this, reservations or no reservations. To take someone already trained, already as *good* as Tim is and get to make her better, maybe do a little cross-pollination...

Bruce holds Tim up in a split and turns her ankle just *so*, and Jason whistles. "Hey, go a little easy, B. I *need* those groin muscles."

Tim blushes and holds the pose perfectly --

"Batgirl," Bruce says, dry as a fucking *bone*, "needs them more."

"Aww, c'mon, training never *stops*, right? Nothing like *motivation* to stay limber --"

"*Jason*," Tim says, turning a little to face him --

Bruce turns her head back into position and fixes her ankle again.

"I -- sorry --"

"Not at all," Bruce says. "I *understand*."

And that makes Tim blush harder, and Jason *wants* to laugh, but there was more in Bruce's voice than sharing the joke at the Boy Sexual Peak's expense. Just -- more.

Bruce steps away from Tim -- "Practice. Only that," and turns to Jason, nodding toward the console.

"Oh -- now?"

Bruce frowns -- and fists his hands at his sides.

"Bruce --"  

"Ah. Jason -- maybe Jason could spar with me?"

"The two of you should wait at least a week before doing that again," Bruce says, still *looking* at Jason, and really --

Why is Tim trying to cockblock? "I'll spot you on the weights when you're done with that, Tim --"

"Yes. That would be best," Bruce says, and the words are falling out of his mouth like fucking boulders --

"I only -- um." Tim spins down from the split, and the plea is back in her eyes. "Later might be better, Jason --"

"*No*," Bruce says --

"Really *not*, Tim," and Jason frowns. "Seriously, don't -- don't."

Tim frowns, too, and the pleading is *deep* in her eyes, almost making them seem more grey than blue... but she nods.

Jason shakes the weirdness off internally and walks over to the console, Bruce right behind him. Bruce sits down and there's another one of those weird pauses, like Fugate's got the world on freeze or something. The world except for *him*, because he's *not* fidgeting, but he wants to.

"Bruce, whatever it is, I'll *help* you make it okay --"

"Don't make promises like that, Jason --"

"I *will* --"

"I'm. I'm attracted to you. That's... the problem. Why I've been acting so strangely, why I've been..." Bruce shakes his head, and his eyes look like Tim's, and he'd just said --

He'd --

"Jay -- Jason. I would never act --"

The world just -- "How long." And Jason's voice sounds fucking *awful* to his own ears, like maybe his brain -- this *situation* is too --

"Years. I've been able to control it. I'll continue being able to, I promise you --"

"Control. Fucking -- control. Bruce, this isn't. Why aren't you *joking* with me? Why is this *true*?"

"I have no excuses, Jason, and little in the way of explanation," and Bruce is curling his fingers over the arms of the chair.

"No. *No*, Bruce --"

"I'm sorry, Jason --"

"You *adopted* me. I'm -- I'm your *son*," and it's the last thing he would've ever expected to come out of his mouth, but it's there, and there's nothing he can do about it.

Bruce just --

He'd said that he was --

And Bruce is wincing, but he isn't looking away from Jason's eyes, and -- years. *Years*. Every time he'd changed in front of Bruce, every time Bruce had helped him with his stretches -- fucking *pinned* him --

It has to be all over his face, and he doesn't *want* it to be --

Bruce looks down. "I'm sorry, Jason. I would -- I would never have failed you this way. I --"

"*Look* at me --" And that was a yell, meaning Tim could hear it, and -- is this why she was trying to block Jason from having this conversation?

Had she *known*?

Bruce is looking at him again, and his eyes are fucking awful, fucking *bleak*, just as if he knows he's going to be alone again, that he'd fucked *up* the way he promised --

("You'll never have to worry about that here, Jason.")

Jason hears himself making a noise like a wounded fucking *dog* and backs up a step, and another --

Bruce is *gripping* the fucking chair --

"Don't. You don't -- stay right fucking *there* --"

Bruce nods once and sits back in the chair.

"You." But he knew, didn't he? All the little things, the little smiles. The touches and the -- company in the *dark*.

Partners, right?

"I think. I think I'm gonna." Be sick -- no, that's not it, even though it would probably feel better if he was. Breakfast is a fucking *rock* in his stomach and he can't imagine --

Eating with Bruce, working with Bruce, training and living -- fucking *showering* --

"Jesus fucking *Christ*, I need to get out of here," Jason says, spinning and heading for the stairs -- fuck, no.

He heads for the bikes, instead, and thinks about the fucking *hours* he's spent under the cars while Bruce handed him tools, or vice versa --

All that time *together*, and he'd *promised* --

"Jason --"

Tim's voice, and she sounds almost *panicked* -- Jason stops and turns around. She's only a few yards away, and Bruce --

Bruce isn't looking at either of them. Bruce had brought her *here*, in part for him --

Because he'd wanted -- what? To watch them have sex? To have Jason here for that, too?

He has no idea what look is on his face, but he knows it's bad when Tim almost *flinches* back -- Jesus. Jesus --

"It's not you," Jason says, and it sounds like he's fucking *gritting* the words out. He takes a breath and tries again. "It doesn't have anything to do with you, Tim."

Except -- what if it does? Is Tim fucking *safe* around Bruce? Had Dick ever -- Bruce had thrown Dick out, and it probably wasn't because Dick wouldn't *put out*, but what if that had been under everything else?

Jason reaches out. "Come with me."

"I -- *where*?"

"*Anywhere*, Tim, just -- let's go."

And Tim looks back at Bruce, still sitting rigid in that fucking chair, hearing everything, *knowing* everything, and Bruce was supposed to be *different* --

"*Tim* --"

"I'll come," she says, quick and soft. "But we're not dressed for a ride."

"I'm *not* --"

"Jay," she says, and her voice is still soft, but there's something like a solid *block* under it. "I'm not getting shredded with road rash for *anyone*."

Jason feels himself fucking *snarling* -- and Tim just keeps looking at him. "Fine. Let's change."

Tim nods and heads for the lockers. Jason follows her, and he can *feel* Bruce behind him, feel him like something sharp and awful shoved in between his shoulder blades, feel him like a rotten tooth or a busted rib --

When Tim hands Jason his jeans, he deliberately turns around to look at Bruce, and he hates that it feels better to see him there, to have it confirmed, once again, that he's just that close, that he's always been that *close* --

Bruce looming over him in the dark like some -- some --

Jason growls and puts on his jeans, part of him wanting just to try to rip them apart with his bare fucking hands, knock over the trophies Bruce had put up for him, take a crowbar to the computers --


Tim, and she has a hand on his shoulder -- he doesn't know how long it's been there. He -- He reaches up to cover it with his own and nods toward the bikes.

"All right," she says, and starts walking there.

Jason takes another moment to try to sort through the parts of him which are fucking *enraged* -- no, he takes a moment to calm down enough not to splatter them all over the first curve in the road and follows.

He picks the bike, and she lets him take the driver's position, moving up behind him and wrapping her arms around him. It feels good -- better than he wants, right now --

He can't leave her here.

For a while, Jason focuses on the road, letting it take him further and further away until the ache in him starts shutting up a little and he can think --

No, not that. Feeling first. The bike between his legs, the girl at his back. *His* girl, and he's never going to let anything happen to her, never let her feel like she's trapped and the only way out is her body --

He's not *thinking*, and Tim's holding on a little tighter than she has to. She's pressed up against him as much as she can be, and Jason knows she's trying to ground him, trying to make things better.

She can't. She just --

Bruce --


The road, then, and just that. Jason gets on the highway and starts heading north. He doesn't know where he's going, where he *could* go --

He thinks about Dick and Kory, and for a minute that's okay, that's almost *comforting*, but then he thinks about what he'd have to say --

He doesn't need to make things any worse for Bruce and Dick, and that would do it. He *knows* it would, and there are so many different reasons why that it almost doesn't hurt to run through them in his head -- one image after another of how Dick would *look*.

Would he get on his own bike and tear off to Gotham to rip Bruce a new one? Does he *want* that? Part of him... part of him *does*, and look, a new reason to fucking hate himself.

He's not a *kid* anymore, needing big brother to fight his battles for him, and he's not -- not that.

If it comes to that, he'll just *keep* heading north.


Tim signals that she wants Jason to pull over by pressing hard against Jason's abdomen. Or -- he thinks that's what she's signaling, and as soon as he can make words come out of his mouth in anything other than a growl or a shout he'll ask her.

For now, he takes one of the rest stop exits and finds a place to park the bike. Then he just sits there, and -- sits there.

He can feel Tim shifting behind him, pulling away a little -- he reaches down and grabs her wrist.

"I'm here."

"Yeah, I..." Another growl, and Tim presses close to him again, and they have to look a little strange just sitting here like this, but Jason can't be fucking bothered to see if anyone's paying too much attention.

After a moment, Tim turns her head against his back and squeezes him.

And about two minutes after *that* -- Jason can move. He lets go of Tim's wrist first --


Jason nods, and forces himself to fucking cope with the fact that Tim is moving again, that she's not going to be right there to keep him from -- whatever. Something.

He has *enough* control, and he stands up and takes off his helmet, takes Tim's and stashes them.

He nods toward the building, and Tim walks at his side, brushing against him every few steps just like *she* doesn't care about whoever might be looking. Jason rests a hand on her shoulder and squeezes something he hopes feels like thank you.

Inside is a mass of vacationing families and bored-looking employees. Bright colors everywhere -- daytime people. Jason picks the quietest looking restaurant and slides into an empty booth.

"I'm going to order," Tim says.

Jason nods. She's probably hungry, and -- yeah. "I just -- a soda?"

"Sure," she says, and goes.

Jason tilts his head back and closes his eyes. If it was nighttime, he could count on the atmosphere of back-the-fuck-off he's probably sweating out through his pores to keep people away. As it is, he can't really let go of any of the tension, especially not when people start passing by the table. He can *feel* eyes on him, and just --

Not fucking now. He should've brought a ball cap or something.

Still, no one tries to talk to him before Tim heads back to the table -- her tread is steady and smooth, fluid like no civilian ever is. She slides into the booth across from him and presents him with what looks like a large Zesti cola -- and a bacon double cheeseburger and fries.

"I --"

"Something light," she says, and raises an eyebrow.

Jason snorts and it's kind of painful -- it still feels good. He nods and starts eating, watching her attack a chicken sandwich and a cup of yogurt with some pretty sad-looking fruit on top.

Jason steals a piece of melon mostly reflexively and she smiles at him with her eyes.

"You -- eat too healthy."

"Do you know how much crap was in that chicken sandwich, Jason?"

"I'm saying -- it's a good start. But you --"

"Need a little meat on my bones?"

*Right* into a minefield, or -- no. She's still smiling behind her face. "Okay, okay, maybe not. *Don't* get the soft-serve. Or the shake."

"Which is made out of *seaweed* --"

"Seaweed is *totally* healthy. Uh... slimming?"

The smile is tugging at the corners of her mouth. "I have to do what I can to keep my girlish figure, Jason. My admirers wouldn't have it any other way."

Jason snorts again, and -- it feels better. A little. Right up until it stops, and Jason stares down at the greasy little wrapper and breathes.

Tim reaches across the table and covers Jason's hand, and that --

"Hey, no, you probably don't want to -- break character?"

Tim stills, and Jason can *feel* it -- "What character am I supposed to be playing?"

"You know. Um. Tim Drake, normal... boy?"

Tim pulls her hand back. "If that's what would make you more comfortable." And her voice --

Jason looks up. "Shit, shit -- *shit*. No, I didn't mean -- look, I don't care if you jump across the table and start humping my face, Tim. I just -- for you."

She searches him for a long moment and then nods. "Okay. Let's start over. I was attempting the act of providing physical comfort..."

Jason raises his eyebrows and pushes his hand to the middle of the table.

"T-minus three, two... one," Tim says, and covers his hand again. "Jason. I'm not going to ask you if you're okay... and doesn't *that* sound familiar?" She laughs softly. "We should try talking about it. If you can."

"I... shit. Yeah. I don't know what I can say that you haven't already guessed, Tim. And you... did you know? That he was going to say that?"

"I... I'm correct that he was... confessing his feelings?"

Jason frowns. "If that's what we're gonna call it."

"What do you want to call it?"

"I -- no. Tell me. Did you know?"

"I had... suspicions. The way he looked at you, sometimes. The way he sounded when he spoke about you to me. And then what he said to me while you were running."

"Tell me."

"Jason --"

"No, *tell* me," Jason says, flipping his hand so he can hold hers.

She nods. "He said, 'you must remember that Jason will need you. That he does need you, and always will. I know you won't let him down.'"

Jason winces -- growls and does not punch the booth. It's the kind of plastic that'll just hurt *him*, and -- he's pretty sure he doesn't want that.

"I could tell he was worried about something *specific*, and, well... I could guess what it was."

"Worried. *He* was worried. That fucking --"

"Jason --"

"*Fuck*, Tim, he was supposed to be *different* --"

"I know --"

"He was supposed to be *better* than that, and -- he said he'd wanted me for *years*, Tim. Fucking *years* --" Jason bites his lip and shakes his head, looks out the window at a kid probably making himself motion sick on one of those cheap little rides --

"He didn't. He never... tried. Did he?"

Every shower. Every cool-down session with Bruce bending him into a better stretch than Jason could manage himself -- "Of fucking *course* he didn't, or I would've --"


"*Hell*, yes. I never wanted to be any rich fucker's kept boy, and I didn't -- I didn't need that --"

"Do you think... do you think he wanted to act on it?"

"*Yes* -- I."

("I would never act --")

But there's a difference between not doing something and not *wanting* to do something -- "I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to fucking *do*."

"I know, Jay --"

Jason laughs too loud, and it sounds fucking awful. "You know he was the first person who called me 'Jay' and it really meant something? *Seemed* like it really meant something, anyway."

"Well..." Tim squeezes his hand. "I think he just told you that it *does*. Just -- more than you want it to."

Jason blinks and stares at Tim. She's -- she's calm, and watching him, and -- "Are you *defending* him?"

Tim looks down and -- blushes.

"Tim, Jesus, *what* --"

"I find I. It's not difficult to have sympathy for someone who's in love with you, Jason. Not for me."

It's like being punched. It's. "That's not what he *said* --"

"No?" Tim looks up at him again, one eyebrow raised. "My mistake."

Jason rips his hand away from Tim's and shoves it under the table where he can make a fist in fucking *peace*. "You don't. You don't get it."

"I'm sorry, Jason, no, you're probably right. I'm. I'm *here*, with you --"

"He fucking *promised* me, Tim. He told me. He told me I was fucking *safe*."

Tim frowns and -- kicks him. No, she's trying to rub at Jason's leg with her foot, because that's just the kind of girl she is, and he's not -- he can't be too stupid to take that.

To *have* that. "No, I -- here," he says, and puts his hand back on the table.


"I won't take it away again. I need -- I need you. Even when I can't deal with it."

"That sounds familiar, too. Or maybe I mean 'feels,'" she says, and strokes Jason's knuckles, finding all the scars and giving them each a little attention. "Talk to me about... safe."

Jason shakes his head again. "How would you have felt if you knew Babs was checkin' you out every chance she got?"

"Um... odd? Very, very... I *pushed* myself into her life, and --"

"And what? If she demanded you put out for it you wouldn't have had any issues with it?"

Tim makes a face, and yeah, that's closer, but --

"Or -- okay, no. Not demanding. Not *anything* like that. Just looking at you and wanting you and -- fucking *wanting* you, all the time. For *years*."

"It would... I think I understand. It changes everything about your relationship."

"*Yes*, and I -- he took me off the street and he fed me and clothed me and trained me, *made* me, and I thought... this is the best man in the world. This is the man -- I'll do anything for him, *be* anything, because I know he wouldn't want anything wrong, anything fucked-up. He's --" Jason lowers his voice and leans in. "He's *Batman*, and that makes it all okay."

"He's -- he's a man."

"Yeah, just another fucking *john*, only he's the kind who just wants to look at you while you put on a fucking show, and maybe touch you a little because he hasn't got the fucking sac to do anything else."

Tim shakes her head. "Jason --"

"You don't *know* him, Tim. You *don't*, and I do. And it was all right there if I'd been paying attention, if I hadn't been too fucking *happy* to look at what was right in front of my eyes. You've been here for three *days* and you saw it. I'm a fucking *idiot* --"

"*No*. No, Jason. I don't think -- well. Why do you think it's coming out *now*?"

"Because I have you. Because he can see me moving away and he had to try to fucking --"

"You weren't going anywhere, though. If anything, you were bringing me *in*, making me a part of what was between you and Bruce --"

"*Tim* --"

She squeezes his hand *hard*. "*No*, Jason. You're right that I don't know him as well as you do, but -- he didn't want to talk to you about it, at all. *You* told me that, and you were *right* --"

Jason snorts. "It still fucking found its way out of his mouth *somehow*, Tim."

"Because you could tell there was something wrong. Because you could feel it and wouldn't let it go --"

"Are you seriously blaming *me* for this?"

"*No*," Tim says, and brings her other hand up, holding on and stroking as she leans in closer -- "No. Absolutely not. I'm just... I can't help thinking that Bruce is maybe feeling a little like how I did all those times I watched you at the parties and knew -- *knew* -- I could never just walk up and be with you --"

"You *could* have --"

"I know that *now*, yes, but those feelings are still --" She laughs and shakes her head. "They're still *really* close to the surface. The wanting and the love, sure, but also the self-loathing and the *fear*. He *knew* this would break the two of you apart, but he also knew that if he refused to talk to you, refused to tell you the *truth* --"

"It just would've taken longer and hurt more. I -- fuck. Okay. Okay, I get it. The poor, poor man has a boner that won't fucking *quit* --"

"Jason, *please* --"

This time he *does* punch the booth with his free hand, and it's just as pointless and painful as he knew it would be. It satisfies something, though. Maybe more to see the way she flinches --

Oh, fuck, *no* --

"Tim, no, I'm sorry, I'm -- fuck, I didn't mean --"

"I know you won't hurt me --"

"Then why did you *look* like that, baby?"

"Because I *don't* know you won't hurt yourself," she says, leaning back and running a hand over her buzz.

Jason bites the inside of his cheek, does it harder and wants to fucking bleed -- and no, that won't help anything, either. He sighs and breathes deep. Once, twice -- "Tell me what this *is* to you. Tell me why it *matters*."

She keeps her eyes closed for a moment, pinching the bridge of her nose, and -- her eyes are tracking fast behind the lids, so much so that it's a shock that they're so *steady* when she does open her eyes. And it's a question, backed up with another squeeze of her hand, hard enough to grind the small bones together.

"I'm listening. I'm -- I'll hear you."

She nods. "It matters because it's you, and the most important relationship in your life. It matters because it's Batman and Robin. It matters because it's *you*, Jason, and I don't want you to hurt, and I don't want you to be so angry you don't *know* you're hurting." She blows out a breath and eases her grip. "And it matters because I'm selfish, and I'm figuring out what home means, and I want it to work."

Home -- she. "God, baby, I'm so sorry. This is the *last* thing you need --"

"Is it? Maybe. I'm certainly not thinking of my parents," she says, and raises an eyebrow. "Not even of the way they used to rip each other up for sport."

Jason winces. "They fought a lot?"

"It went in cycles. They were... they were just gearing up for a bad patch when they left for Haiti together. I like to think that being kidnapped helped some, with that. But I have my doubts."

"*Jesus*, Tim --"

"No. No. This *isn't* about them, or about anything but... *are* you planning to quit?"

"*No*. I --" Jason bites the inside of his cheek again. He hadn't really known until *that* moment --

Tim nods. "All right. So there needs to be a plan of attack. I'm pretty sure Bruce wouldn't fight if you wanted to emancipate yourself and move out. He'd probably set you up in your own apartment --"

"I don't *want* Bruce paying my way, anymore --"

"But you do want to move out?"

"I. Not unless I could be with you. Not... mother*fuck*, that place is my *home*."

"I know it is. And now it's mine, too. And I'm not saying I'd stay there without you, but I'd rather. I'd rather stay there with you."

"You. You trust Bruce that much?"

Tim's smile is wry and soft. "He managed nearly four years in your company without so much as hinting that he wanted you, Jason. And... I believe he said that he wouldn't try anything now? That he just wanted you to know the truth?"

Jason sighs. "Yeah, that was... that was the gist."

"*Do* you think you could live with him?"

The Cave. Alfred. The bed he'd made love to Tim in, and that had been all his, safe and secure -- Bruce, and every shower he didn't reach out, every nightmare he'd talked Jason down from without ever... ever. Every night together on the streets, every. "I don't..." Jason sighs. "I think I can try."

Tim nods again. "Then... we have to figure out how we're going to do it."

We. It's a *good* we, and it feels like something new and something old and familiar at once. "Yeah." Jason closes his eyes and tries and fails not to think about Bruce dancing with Tim, smiling and making her laugh. Everything seemed so *good*, so...

Tim scratches Jason's palm with one short fingernail.

"You -- you should paint them. Your nails."

"I --" Tim laughs. "Black would be the most politically expedient color, and it's really not my style."

"Mm. Point," Jason opens his eyes. "Okay, you're the smart one. What are your ideas?"

Tim sighs. "He knows how you feel, but you should tell him, anyway. I think... I think it would help *you* to really... let him have it, a little."

("You will always have a home, and you will always have a purpose.")

"I don't want to --" Jason frowns and cuts himself off, because -- "Shit. I don't *want* to let him have it. Not -- more."

"Oh... Jason."

("Love is not so far from fear as we might think, or wish to believe.")

Jason snarls and covers his face with his free hand, scrubbing at it because he can't scrub his fucking *brain* -- "Look, I'm not -- it's not like I'm fucking in love with *him*, and I'm still fucking pissed. It's just that he doesn't need to hear me -- he knows."

"I love you."

Jason smiles. "I love you, too. What else?"

"I -- I still think you should talk to him. Maybe even more than before. Just to -- clear the air. He hurt you, and you --"

"I hurt him back, already."

"Jason --"

"Look, I know what you're saying, and I know I *do* sometimes kick guys when they're already fucking down, but -- no matter what else, we *have* to work together, and we have to do it right." Jason holds up a hand. "But I *will* talk to him about it, and I'll be honest and everything else. I've already seen what it did to Dick and Bruce when talking *didn't* happen, and I'm not --"

("You need me." "Very much.")

"Fuck, I need him out of my *head*, Tim."

"You must... sometimes I can hear Barbara talking to me in my head. Little lessons, jokes, the occasional speech..."

"Yeah, of *course* you do. It just makes sense. She helped *make* you --"

"Everything *right* I am is because of her."

Jason laughs. "And I'm disagreeing with that solely within the confines of my own fucking brain, because I know you're about to say something about Bruce and me and I really can't deal."

"Well, to be fair, I was planning to just -- think it very loudly."

"Uh, huh. What's the rest of the plan, BG?"

She turns a hand over in something like a shrug. "I think the rest is just going to be a day to day sort of thing. I'm perfectly willing to run interference, in as much as that's possible."

"Of course you are," Jason says and takes both of her hands in his own. "Thank you. Just -- thank you. And now you just have to let me cope with the fact that the man who... fuck."

"You do think of him as your father a little, don't you?"

"Oh, go ahead and ask the *easy* questions, why don't you?"

Tim's smile is pretty much pure apology -- "Sorry. I... sorry."

"No, it's okay. It's -- it's more that I've spent years trusting him to be *one* thing, and he's *still* that thing, but there's other stuff there, too, that I can't trust even a little bit."

Tim nods.

"It's the first lesson, really -- don't *get* hustled. Don't try to pretend the john is anything but a john, or that you're anything but a fucking whore."

"Jason --"

Jason tugs on her hands until she leans in again. "You don't think that's what's going on, and part of me agrees with you wholeheartedly. Just -- of course not, right? It's a bad situation, but it's nobody's *fault*, and it'll all work out fine with time and understanding. I get that, I do. But I don't *believe* it, and nobody is gonna make me believe it right *now*. And maybe not ever."

"That's. Pretty final."

"Is it? Hell, I don't know *anything*, Tim. There's a fucking *hole* inside me, and it's been there for a long fucking time, and I was kind of... packing it. Filling it up a little, here and there. And now..."

"Bruce ripped it open."

"Whether he wanted to or not. Hell, maybe this is just the brand new and fucked-up way he's found to chase people away who get too close to him. He's -- he's not a *sane* guy. He's good, and he's brilliant, and he's the best at damned near everything he does that doesn't involve cooking or cleaning, but he's still kind of a giant *fuck-up* when it comes to emotional things. Maybe he *does* want me gone."

"I... that would be surprising."

"She said, being *real* fucking neutral about it. Heh," and Jason strokes her wrists with his thumbs. "That's stuff I usually don't let myself think about either, mostly because I just *knew* that he -- that he needed me, and that he knew it, and -- more important than anything else -- he was *okay* with it. I thought it didn't matter that a part of him was always going to be in that alley kneeling in his parents' blood -- shit, Tim, I'm --"

"No, I'm not -- it's all right. A part of me I don't like very much is glad I didn't try to get to Haiti myself. That I didn't have to watch the poison send them into convulsions, pull their faces out of true, force their eyes and extremities to swell --"

"Jesus, did you --"

"I looked up the poison's effects. I -- I had to. And I'm not talking about it anymore, right now," she says, and looks down at his mouth -- looks up again and smiles. "As a not-quite-aside... how are you going to feel about... ah. In the manor?"

"It just doesn't get any easier, does it?"

Another apology-smile.

"You know, I -- I *had* to get you out of there. At first I was just going to leave, just -- get away and be *alone* --"

"That wouldn't have been... optimal."

"Really not, but it's what I wanted. And then I started thinking about just *leaving* you there with him, and the way I've seen him look at you --"

"Jesus, Jason, he's not attracted to *me* --"

"Yeah, maybe not. But if he ever laid a hand on you and it wasn't training or, like, patching you up after an injury -- fuck, how are your abs doing?"

"Bruising spectacularly, by the feel. I've had worse. And I'm not the one he's in love with."

"You're beautiful, well-trained -- trained by fucking Selina *Kyle*, even -- and you're smart like he is. *And* he likes teenagers."

Tim -- it's more of a flush than a blush --

"I'm sorry, Tim, but guys like that don't ever go for just *one* kid. That's not the way it fucking *works*."

"I think he's more likely to dip his genitals in battery acid."

*Image* -- Jason snorts and leans in close enough to kiss her forehead. "And on that note... if *you're* comfortable enough to want to, I'm not ever gonna say no to you. Even if I've just dipped *my* junk in battery acid."

"I'd hardly call it 'junk,' Jason."

Jason sighs and lets go of one of Tim's hands, reaching to cup the back of her head and hold her in so he can rest his forehead against her own. Maybe feel a little bit of her calm, her *reason*.

If there's a hole inside of her, she's still filling it up nice and tight. She's *okay*, and he wants to be okay again, too. Jason leans back and squeezes her hand again. "Let's go... let's go."

Tim nods, probably as much for what he didn't say as for what he did.


It's pushing sundown when they get back to Gotham, which means that Jason's not really surprised that the car is already gone. The *surprise* comes when he goes to grab the night's uniform, and finds... new ones.

*Seriously* new ones.

The materials are like what Dick and Tim use, and the design --

"What if I *liked* the wind burn on my thighs?" And the laughter in Jason's voice sounds choked to his own ears, sounds fucking *shocked*.

Tim is looking over the gauntlets, turning them in her hands. "More armor. These could do some damage."

"I just -- what the *fuck*? He tells me he wants my ass and he gives me a new uniform? What the hell is he trying to *say*?"

Tim sets the gauntlet down and raises an eyebrow, reaching to touch the stylized R on the chest. "At a guess...?"

"Yeah, whatever, fine --"

"He wants you to be better protected out there. Not because he thinks you can't handle yourself, but -- probably -- because he knows you're going to want to work without... without a partner. More."

Dark green. Gold for the R and the belt, red accents so deep they're like blood under a streetlight. No cape, heavier gauntlets. He checks the boots -- *real* boots that would go right up to just beneath his knees. Steel in the toe *and* the heel. And coverage from toes right up to his jaw. "Fucking A. I *told* him I didn't need a uniform change."

"Ah -- when?"

Jason waves a hand. "The other night. Yeah, I know, he's been working on this for a while. I just... I'm trying to connect this to that little *confession*, and maybe that's stupid, but... what? Was I showing too much skin for him?"

"Well. I have to admit, Jason, that sometimes you were showing too much skin for *me*."

Jason snorts again and shakes his head. "See, you were *supposed* to be getting all hot and bothered when I flexed my quads for you."

"Of course, my mistake. I -- maybe you should try it on. See how it feels."

"What? Do you *like* it?"

Tim smirks. "It makes me want to get Barbara to design something sleek and dark for me. To match."

"Hey, no, you fucking *rock* the Batgirl uniform --"

"I know. But I could... rock a little harder. Perhaps. Try it on."

And that wasn't *quite* an order, but it wasn't a request, either. "Fine," he says, and strips off.

It takes a minute to figure out how best to get into the thing, but it fits like a glove. Fits like fucking *sex*, really, and yeah -- not thinking about that. The boots are heavy in a weirdly satisfying way, the gauntlets fucking *make* him shadow-box a little, working his feet a little just for the feel, just to prove that he *can*.

It stretches over his shoulders, bends and moves *with* him, and he feels a little like he's pretending to be Nightwing, but mostly like a fucking tank on legs. Heavier armor through the chest, shaping designed *specifically* for his knuckles in the gauntlet --

And Tim's watching him with *narrowed* eyes, and --

"That good?"

Tim nods and reaches out to run her fingers over his chest, curls them in to scratch --

"Oh, yeah...?"  

"I -- patrol," Tim says, blushing and stepping back.  

Jason catches her wrist and grins, hauling her in against him -- the sound her skin makes against the uniform could be the best porn he's experienced since -- this morning.

She laughs and wraps her other arm around his neck. "I *really* need a redesign. I'd look *dowdy* next to this."

"Who says I'm even going with this one?"

"Jason," she says, and it sounds like 'please,' and not any of the fun pleases, either.

Jason snorts. "All right, all right. The lack of a cape is fucking weird, though. Doesn't *feel* like Robin."

"How much do you even use your cape? It's true that I've never seen you get tangled in it, but..."

"Okay, so it makes me feel like a tool a lot of the time. It's still *Robin*."

"*You're* Robin," she says, tugging on the grip he has on her wrist until he lets go and she can wrap *that* arm around his neck, too. "You look... very, very good."


"I was including that in the 'good,' Jason."

"Heh. *Noted*," he says, and leans in to kiss her, rubbing up against her a little just for that whisper and glide.

She gives his lower lip a hello bite and licks his tongue, doing a little rubbing of her own, and man -- *sleek*. No one could really grab him in this, but he's willing to let Tim try extensively. She hums and pulls back. "Try it out tonight. If it feels too odd, you can always come back and change."

True. And it's not like his old uniforms aren't still right there --

And it's *exactly* like he's started thinking of them *as* his 'old uniforms.'

Jason sighs. "All right, I'm out. What are you up to, tonight?"

For some reason it makes her pause -- "Training," she says, and looks at him like she'd rather not *be* looking at him, and that's too fucking weird --

Until it isn't, because Bruce *had* been showing her new things today and he hadn't exactly given her any time to work on them. "I -- I still think you should learn everything from him you can."

Tim nods -- and traces the R on his chest --

"You know it, BG," he says, and brings her fingers to his mouth for a kiss.

She smiles at him and walks backward toward the mats for a few steps before turning around to jog the rest of the way. Mm.


He thinks about edging into her territory for a while, but Nightwing had just hit it last night, and he really wants to be on his own ground for the first night in this suit. Gotham doesn't ever give much in the way of comfort zones, but sometimes the illusion is a good as the real thing.

It's *weird* to fly without the bite of the wind fighting him for every swing, and he thinks he might actually be moving fractionally faster. A lot less wind resistance with materials like these, and maybe he'll ask Dick how he'd adjusted.

It's a nice safe topic -- relatively -- and he's going to need those for a while to keep himself from spilling what Bruce had said.

The night...

The night is the same as it ever is, as *different* as it always is, and sometimes it feels a little like a nasty little game played with the daytime people -- what had they done to change his city around *this* time?

There isn't much in the way of new construction or anything like that, but there are a few lit windows in a building that had been all but vacant and decomposing right where it stood. He takes a closer look and sees signs of renovation in progress, and the sign on the front door says the building's been purchased by the same real estate company Batman had gutted of executives last year for slum lord activities.

Something to watch, maybe.

There's a new pimp lurking a few blocks away from where *his* girls usually set up shop, and Jason takes a few minutes to tune him up -- gently, really -- just in case he starts thinking of trying anything.

The girls make a lot of comments about the new uniform, including several about what it apparently does for his ass, but they don't really have much information for him, beyond some rumors about gang activity closer to Bruce's territory. He dutifully hands out cards maybe one in five of them will ever even think about using and keeps going.

The dealers watch the skies more than they watch for narcs, and it's new and kind of *sweet* to be able to move in subtle enough that even the lookouts don't see him until his brand new boots are ruining the dental work on the muscle.

There's only one gun and not much in the way of product, but it's all stuff that won't be doing any damage *tonight*. He uses the new gauntlets a little extra on the *other* muscle for the hell of it -- not enough to do more than crack a few ribs -- and gets some names that aren't familiar *enough*.

He makes a note to check the computers when he gets back to the Cave and keeps --

Keeps *moving*, and no, he's not thinking about how awkward it's going to be to report to Bruce right now --

And then he has to stop on a roof and breathe a little, because -- Bruce isn't going to be expecting Jason *to* report to him. He *might* ask, but unless he really *doesn't* know a thing about the man --

Does he?

No -- *no*. He does, and the *real* message of the new suit is just what Tim had said. Bruce is letting him go, and the part of him that's pissed as fucking hell about that is no more stupid than the part of him which feels like the whole world just skipped past him without a word.


He takes the bike deeper into the city to an area he hasn't worked in a few days, and the neighborhoods show the difference. Dealers out in force, including two he can see from *this* rooftop that he'd beaten up only a week ago. Hooray, Gotham criminal justice system.

Hurting people like that is never *not* going to feel good, but, *damn*. Some of the bruises still look *fresh*, and the guy he'd taken a gun off of already has another one --

And if he keeps this up for *long* enough maybe the police will show up and make a few arrests that'll actually stick, but that goes beyond reckless to fucking stupid.

He shuts it down as quickly and neatly as he can, and just -- breathes when everyone's down and groaning. Whimpering like animals.

Bruce would get the names of the bosses out of these guys, but he already *knows* who they're working for, and knows exactly how long the cops have been trying and failing to get anything on them. But.


He picks out the guy who'd had the piece and hauls him into the alley by his collar. When he's choking and gagging enough to quiet something in Jason he doesn't have a name for, Jason gets him on his feet and *systematically* breaks his ribs.

Just -- keep him off the street a little while, keep him busy *healing*, maybe *thinking* about what the vigilantes will do that the cops really won't.

It's not much. It's not *much*, but --

"Oh shit, *shit*, I'll give you Martinez --!"

Jason pauses mid-blow and actually looks at the guy. He's sweating and his face is twisted up into something that looks like a smile's mutant cousin. He's nodding fucking frantically, and -- "Give me *how*."

"I -- I know where he is tonight, what he's doing and who he's probably with!"

Nothing *good*. Nothing about stash houses or shipments or anything like that. But. "Where'd you get this information, asshole?"

"I was there when they were talking about it, it's a party, everyone's gonna be there. Birthday party, I mean!"

Well... hell. He can do -- something. He can... He nods, once, and the man spills what he knows. The party's at a private club not too far into Bruce's territory, some place that's stayed quiet enough that it's never been on their radar. He knows where it *is*, but nothing else.

That's gonna change.

He knocks the man's head against the wall, zip-strips him, and leaves him to kneel and retch in the alley. He takes care of the others and --

It's a little like being on autopilot. He knows where he's going, and his body knows how to take him there, how to keep him watching for trouble even as he's moving, how to read the streets and see nothing that will stop him, nothing --

"O to R."

His heart skips a little, like maybe she'd caught him doing something -- he shakes his head. "You got me," Jason says, and flies for another rooftop --

"Cycle back around to Grant. Domestic turned hostage situation."

Jason winces and switches gears with a wrench. Domestics like *that* are always too ugly to ignore. "Backup?"

"B is fifteen minutes out. You may not be able to wait for him."

"Got it, R out," and his bike is only two blocks away, but with his momentum -- flight is faster. The *question* is whether or not he'll have time to scope the place from an opposite rooftop, and --

He doesn't think so. There are already a couple of radio cars blocking off the north end of the street, and the windows have either been broken or shot out. Jason lands on the roof and rappels down next to a window that's still dark and solid. He pulls his mic -- all the pockets have just the right things in just the right places -- and holds it up --

A lot of yelling and screaming that resolves into a man, a woman, and at least two children -- gunshot, and there was no sign of HRT out front. Jason listens a little more --

Still four voices. He waits until the screaming gets loud again and breaks the window, waits a beat --

Opens it up and slips in, setting one foot on the floor and the other -- toy truck which would've fucked things up *bad* even eight months ago or so. He can't do slow, but he can do quiet, easing toward the lights and noise until he can see a crying toddler with a nasty-looking red splotch on his or her face. That'll bruise.

He gets a little closer, moving through the clutter of the hall like it's just another alley --

"I want a helicopter or they all fucking *die*!"

And see, that's something Jason has always wondered about. These people all own televisions. They *have* to know the helicopter thing never *works* --

Crying woman kneeling, clutching two -- barely -- older children. One of them is crying, too, the other looks like she's in shock --

"Danny, *please* --"

"*You* don't fucking talk," Danny-the-gunman says, and Jason can't see him, but the .45 he's pointing at the woman is hard to miss, and --

He's got a nice, handy shadow to lurk in, but the toddler is *right* there, and Jason can't count on the kid not throwing the game if he tries to move *slowly* --

"Fucking whore *cunt*, always popping out another fucking brat like I'm made of money! I could kill you right now and *still* get outta here fine, thanks to all the fucking kids --"

Backup would be nice, but it's *not* an option. Jason runs to the end of the short hall, watching the gun and tossing a batarang --

Danny turns his head -- not the gun --

No time. He tosses another two batarangs --

"I will fucking *kill* this bitch -- *no* --"

*Yes*. The gun goes flying, and it's way too close to the toddler now, but --

Danny has a cheap switchblade and one of the older kids. The batarang would fly too close to the kid, who's struggling --

"I don't know who the fuck you are, but you're gonna get the fuck out of my apartment or I'll peel this little shit like a grape!"

A *grape*? Really? Jason fights back the hysterical laughter and holds his hands up, taking a step closer --

"Stay the fuck *back*!" He nicks the kid's ear, and the screaming is all just a babble now, irrelevant to the actual situation, which...

"You really think you're fast enough, tough guy? Faster than *me*?"

"You *won't* risk a kid getting hurt. I *know* you people --"

"Do you? Ever think about how sometimes we might have a bad fucking night? I don't know these kids from Adam, *Danny*. And you look like someone I'd have a real good time hurting. *Especially* if the kid gets hurt."

Danny's nostrils flare and he just stares for a long moment, trying to read Jason, trying to *see* how much he is and isn't bluffing -- movement.

More unintelligible screams and Danny takes his eyes off him, turning just enough -- swinging the kid, and that's *all* Jason needs to get him moving. One kick to shatter Danny's kneecap, one uppercut on his way down to the floor --

And then the woman is yanking the kid away with the hand she's not using to point the .45 at Danny.

"I'll kill you! I'll kill you for this, you fucking asshole!"

Her eyes are wild and her hand is shaking hard. Danny tries to scoot backwards and the woman's hand stops shaking -- shit --

Jason strikes out for her arm and the gun goes flying again -- goes *off*, and Jason hopes to fucking God there's no one in the line of fire next door. He catches the gun before it can hit the floor, trips the woman before she can fling herself at Danny, catches the *kid* --


It's a tone he'd learned from Bruce, and it works. Everybody freezes, including the kids, and it gives Jason enough time to stand up and *breathe* a little --

And then the crying and yelling starts up again, and Danny is *still* trying to scoot away --

Jason growls and stomps his groin, getting a new kind of scream -- and shutting the woman up.

"You okay now, lady? Say yes, because I *don't* have the fucking patience for this."

"I -- I -- he's a *bastard* --"

"Yeah, and now his nuts are gonna swell up like grapefruit and he'll get his ass raped in jail. Look, how's this -- I'll break his jaw, too."

The woman blinks at him for a few seconds -- and then gathers her kids and walks toward the door. *Improvement*.

"Make sure you go out with your hands up -- I don't trust Gotham cops as far as I can throw 'em."

She pauses at the door, looking back over her shoulder. "I -- thank you. You. Are you Robin?"

"Yeah, I'm Robin. And -- you can stay and watch me break his jaw if you want."

When she smiles, she looks ten years younger and the kind of pretty that makes tear-streaks and bruises completely invisible.

Jason smiles back --

"No, I -- I trust you. Thank you," she says again, and goes.

Danny's curled up on himself and cursing and whimpering. Whether or not he heard anything that was just said is a question for some time Jason actually gives a fuck. He turns the pistol around and cracks him a good one.

Then he sets the gun down, kicks Danny onto his belly, and zip-strips him nice and tight for the cops.

He leaves the same way he went in, heading up for the roof -- Bruce. Just the trailing edge of his cape is out of the shadows, but -- Bruce.

Jason fights back everything that wants to come up and out and goes to tap his comm --

"I told Oracle that it was taken care of," Bruce says, quiet and low and -- quiet.

Jason freezes with his hand up -- lets it drop to his side. "This rooftop is about to be way too fucking public. Let's find another," he says, and shooting his grapple and dropping over the side.

He hears Bruce following --

He *feels* Bruce following, and part of him wants to take the sky harder, really let go the way he always does when Bruce is behind him, when --

He *just* flies, heading for the nearest R-point, and never mind what every stupid and slow part of him wants. When he gets there, he makes the landing plain and simple and starts to walk into the shadows -- no. He doesn't want shadows for this.

No one in *this* neighborhood is looking up tonight, and -- yeah. Bruce lands and pauses, not looking at Jason while he tucks his grapple away.

Jason nods. That's -- what he expected. "Look at me."

Bruce kind of slumps a little, and there's so little Batman on him right now that he might as well be a different guy altogether. Maybe the one who wants his ass.

"*Look* at me --"

"Yes." Bruce turns. "I'm sorry, Robin --"

"No one's listening here, Bruce. *Fuck* the protocol."

Bruce frowns for that, and maybe for Jason's language, too. It looks -- a part of him is honestly relieved, and there's nothing he can do about it.

"We have to talk."

Bruce stands straight and sort of shifts... and Jason knows that he's closing his eyes. "If you wish."

"If I -- mother*fuck*, Bruce, don't just --" What? Stand there? Listen? That's -- that's not it. It really isn't. It's the *way* he's listening, like Jason's here to fucking tear him up and he knows it. Wants it.

Just -- there's nothing up here to *hit* except for Bruce, and he doesn't --

Jason punches his own thigh, and the gauntlet slips against the material -- "This fucking *uniform* --"

"It was only... the first design that seemed to work. There are other designs, if you'd --"

"*Don't*. There's nothing wrong with the uniform. It's fucking *perfect*, you asshole!"

Another frown, another -- it's *better*, and Jason catches himself nodding before he can really think about it.

"Yeah. Just -- yeah. Be *you*, Bruce, because that's -- that who I want to talk to, right now."

"I'm not... I didn't think I wasn't being myself," he says, and there's a question there, under all the soft and fucking *shy*, fucking *cautious* --

"You're acting like we *haven't* known each other for years. Like -- like I'm your fucking boss or something. *I* don't know, but you need to fucking *stop*."

"Jason. If... perhaps we shouldn't be quite this... loud."

Jason closes the distance between them and jabs Bruce's chest. "I will *keep* being this loud until you stop treating me like --"

"I am not your teacher anymore, Jason. I can't be."

Jason freezes with his fingers shoving at the bat, at the armor. He -- he *freezes*, and he swallows, and -- "No."

"Jason --"

"*No*. I am *not* letting you fuck this up anymore than you already *have*, Bruce."

"Is there really -- I didn't think you thought there was anything to salvage," Bruce says, and he doesn't take a step back, but he looks like her really *wants* to, jaw tight as hell and lips pressed together in a hard little line --

Jason shakes his head. "I'm gonna say this once. You're Batman. I'm Robin. That means we *have* to make this work or Gotham's gonna go to fucking hell, and I'm not letting that happen on my watch."

"Jason..." Movement, and Jason looks down in time to see Bruce opening his hands. He'd curled them into fists, and --

Shit. "Were you about to *touch* me?"

This time, Bruce *does* take a step back, raising his hands between them and sort of... pushing down at the air.

Jason growls. "No. *Answer* me --"

"Yes. You make me --"

"I make you *hard* --"

"You make me *proud*, Jason," and Bruce's voice is low, almost *angry* --

"Yeah. Like *that*. Like you still have your fucking *spine* --"

"I don't know what you *want* from me -- I'm sorry, I shouldn't have --"

Jason closes the distance again and *shoves* Bruce, and for a second, a *good* second, it's like shoving a wall --

And then Bruce steps back again. "Jason --"

"You had it right the first time. You..." Jason shakes his head. "You really fucked me up *good*, Bruce, you know it?"

"I know --"

"Because I *don't* think you do. You took me *right* back to the street and fucking dropped me there, you shit on all those promises you made, you made me feel like an *idiot* for fucking trusting you," and Jason's jabbing Bruce's chest again, and he doesn't know when he'd gotten close again --

"I never meant to. I never meant for you to see that --"

"Yeah. I get that now. I fucking -- you just meant to keep *lying* to me, keep pretending you were someone you've never fucking *been* --"

"Jason, it was better. I could --"

"What? Watch me all you wanted? *Touch* me all you wanted -- no, not that. You could fucking tease yourself with me, get off on everything you weren't doing --"

"*No*, Jay -- Jason --" Bruce makes a sound Jason can't classify between low and hurt and angry, and then his hands are on Jason's shoulders, *squeezing* Jason's shoulders -- "Please."

Jason takes a breath and tries not to think about -- tries to--

And Bruce's hands are off him before Jason can bring his arms up to knock them off. "I'm sorry," he says, and there's so much there, so much *in* it that has nothing to do with the touch and everything to do with *this*, this thing between them --

Jason steps back and runs the gauntlet through his hair, feeling it catch and tangle in completely different ways from his old one. It's something to focus on while he tries to cope with himself, something to hold *on* to while Bruce stares at him, wants -- "What are you sorry for," he says, and he sounds tired to his own ears, a little lost -- "Tell me."

"For not being able to control myself enough. For needing you -- needing you to know this."

That. No. Not -- Jason stomach feels like it's tying itself into a knot, and he can't -- "You weren't *ever* going to tell me --"


"Then why -- why *now*, Bruce? *Why* did you need me to know?" And Jason looks at Bruce -- stops. The cowl is back and hanging down Bruce's back, and Bruce's eyes are so fucking *full* -- "Bruce --"

"Jay -- Jason. It became so much in me, so --"


Bruce sucks in a breath -- his hands are fisted at his sides again. "Jason, it's not -- it's nothing you need to *hear* --"

"You already fucking -- Bruce. Fucking *give*."

"Tim," he says, and he looks -- his fists are so tight Jason can hear them fucking *creaking*, and he'd just said --

"You -- you *do* want her --"

"*No* -- I --" Bruce growls and reaches out -- stops himself with his hands, his *fists* an inch away from Jason's shoulders, and part of him wants that inch gone, wants to *feel* this as much as he's hearing it, know it so he'll never forget again, never --

Never fucking *trust* -- "Don't *lie* to me --"

"I'm attracted," Bruce says. "But that's not -- it's not what I wanted. Not what I meant."

Jason feels his face twisting up -- "Jesus, *Bruce*, we're not -- we're --"

("You were never *just* a kid, Jason.")

Jason covers his face, scrubs at it with his hands and lets his feet take him away a little, just a *little*, until he can breathe again. "What is it. What did you mean."

"I thought -- I didn't give thought to how it would feel to watch you with her constantly, as opposed to in the bits and pieces of footage Barbara shared of your time working with her --"

"You -- you got *jealous*? You're the one who -- you fucking *pushed* me at her --"

"Not jealousy. Not --" Bruce laughs, cracked and *awful*. "Jealousy would've been easier, and I want -- I wish you could understand --"

Jason rips his hands away from his face and points -- "Don't. Don't get off *track* --"

"Watching you love, Jason. Watching your happiness, your pride in her, your care... it brought everything to the surface, everything I'd been burying and -- most of the time I didn't even *think* of my -- my *other* feelings for you, Jason. Most of the time I was satisfied with loving you as a partner, as my *friend* --"

"You --" Jason bites the inside of his cheek and shudders once, all over. "You couldn't, anymore."

"No," Bruce says, and his hands are at his sides again, and the way the wind moves his cape -- the way it moves the *cowl* is just wrong, completely *wrong* --

And the wind isn't even close to the issue. "It didn't feel like lying to me, before? Even though you wanted..."

"It felt like something... better than the truth. It meant I could have you in my life, close to me. I wish..." Bruce sighs. "One day, I hope you'll come to understand -- no. I hope you'll come to believe me when I say that I wouldn't have ever tried to seduce you, that it was far more than enough to be your friend."

Never... never just takes what... he wants. Just like --

Jason crosses his arms over his chest and stares down at the roof. Just -- if he can let things settle a little bit, if he can make all the images go away, all the fear go *away* --

("It's all right, Jay. It was a dream, and you're awake now. You're *safe* now...")

"You were. You made me feel safe, Bruce."

"I know," he says, and his voice is so fucking *small*, again --

("He's a man.")

"Jason... Would you tell me what you want?"

Jason closes his eyes and squeezes himself -- growls and lets go, walking up to Bruce again, close enough that he has to look *up*, get that feeling again, that -- that *feeling* -- "There's this... this *hole* in me, Bruce, and it's all about how the world is full of assholes who just want to use you, just want to fuck you over any way they can..."

Bruce nods and -- another creak, because he's trying not to touch Jason, again. Trying not to *take* --

Jason laughs softly. "God, this is such a fucking *mess*, B."


"Understand. That's what you keep saying. Keep -- you want me to *understand* you. Right?"

"I... yes. Yes, I do."

Jason nods slowly and thinks about those fists, those ridiculously powerful hands, and everything they're not doing now, everything they'd never do. Not to him. "And -- it doesn't even matter if I still *like* you once I get it, right? Because the understanding is something you... you just never thought you'd have."

"Not without... without somehow being someone other than who I am."

Tim's eyes and the way they search Jason's own, sometimes, the way she can't ever quite *believe* him when he says anything about loving who she keeps way down deep, about wanting -- understanding. Jason closes his eyes behind the mask.

He listens to the wind playing with Bruce's cape, the slap of the cowl against his back. He listens to the city, moving and breathing, yelling and fighting. Sirens and --

Sometimes it's like one *big* engine, like all the cars and trucks and bikes are just pieces of this huge fucking machine that's the *real* Gotham, running and driving and *grinding* --

Jason opens his eyes. And wraps his hand around Bruce's fist.

"Jason --"

"No Jay for that, B? No... do you really feel like I'm not paying *attention* to you, right now? Because -- I really fucking am."

And yeah, Bruce is searching him now, searching his face --

Jason reaches up and flips the lenses on his mask. "Go ahead and look."

"I don't. I don't understand."

Jason laughs a little and lets the smile stay on his face. "I don't, either. I don't think... I'm never going to really *get* how you can be *Batman* -- no, that's not it, at all. Lemme try again."

Bruce nods, and it doesn't even seem like he's *blinking* --

"You're just -- you're who you are, and I... it's not your fault that I kind of built my entire *world* around you, *on* you -- you never asked for that, and you never *pushed* for that. It was all me, and now it's all kind of in pieces, because somehow the guy you are is also these other things, these really... really kind of fucked *up* things. Things I don't know how to build on."

"Jay... you never have to --"

"I don't have to do *anything*, because if I said the word, you'd give me a stack of money, buy me a fucking *building*, and let me go my own way. And you don't -- don't say anything to that, because I can't think of that. Can't think of *us* that way without getting more hurt, more -- more *upset*."

Bruce nods again.

"Tim... you know, she gets you? She *trusts* you, even though she's only known you for a couple of fucking days, even though she knew you wanted me before *I* did."

"I... suspected that she had guessed," Bruce says, and slowly, so fucking *slowly* opens his hand.

Jason clasps it before he can scare himself out of it --

Bruce sighs. "Jay..."

"She didn't *say* it, probably because she knew it would make the top of my fucking head fly off, but I bet she doesn't even think there's anything too fucked about you wanting me. That's not -- that's not me. And I don't think there's anything anyone could do to convince me that she's right and I'm not. But that doesn't mean... It doesn't mean I'm ready to just call it quits between us."

And Bruce is searching him again, and his face has that kind of stiffness which always means the person doing it is trying with fucking everything they *are* to keep their face from twisting right *up*.

Jason squeezes Bruce's hand *hard*. "Can we do this? Can *you*?"

Bruce closes his eyes and takes a breath -- opens them and nods, once.

Nice and firm, nice and *right*. Jason nods back and lets go, stepping back and -- and. "Bruce. That alley. What... what were you really thinking?"

Bruce smiles softly. "That you were brave and strong. That you were alone. That -- that I was alone, as well, and perhaps didn't have to be. They weren't very clear thoughts, but the way you fought me when you saw you couldn't run... I was already picturing you in uniform."

Jason frowns. "Not -- not anything else?"

Bruce inclines his head. "I saw your beauty immediately, of course... but I was not yet in love."

And... he knew that part. That *last* part. He'd known it, just like Tim had known it, and... the knowledge is still nothing against the sound of it, quiet and calm and honest. A part of Jason is in his bedroom in the dark with Bruce's hand on his shoulder. They're changing the darkness into something warmer again, taking the sting out of secrets by making them not secret anymore.

They're being who they are.

Jason nods again and pulls his grapple -- pauses again. "The big shots in the Latin Lords are all at a birthday party down on Thirty-Ninth between Kittering and Stone. I was planning on busting it up a little," Jason says, and waits and wonders, hopes and fucking *fears* --

"For the hell of it, Jason...?" Dry as dust and twice as strangling -- at least *Bruce* is, on the tiny little laugh he's not letting out.

"Yeah, well. You know how I get when I'm understimulated."

"It's true that you haven't had very much to deal with lately," Bruce says, and that's the sound of the cowl falling into place. Maybe his life, too.

"You just don't know... don't know how to take *care* of a kid," and Jason can't manage to laugh at that, quite, but maybe it's enough that he actually is a little amused.

"I've always needed guidance in such matters." Bruce -- Bruce isn't laughing much either, anymore, but it's the same for both of them.

The same night, too. "Guidance, hunh?"

And Bruce is that kind of silent that's all about being watched and maybe known. Definitely listened to. *Seriously* listened to, and that *feeling* --

Jason shoots his grapple and leaps. "Better tag along, then."

Bruce is *right* behind him in the air, following him again, and Jason still doesn't feel like *ripping* through the air, but right now...

Right now that has more to do with the fact that his game face is *right* the fuck on, with the fact that this uniform cuts through the wind resistance like one of BG's boot-knives, and with the fact that, maybe, Bruce can feel him doing it, anyway.

Whatever it is, it's not long before they get there. It's late enough that the casual guests -- assuming there were any -- are gone, leaving the big players and their women. Nice of them to pick a place with a great big window. One of the players is dancing with his woman. Through the scope, Jason can see that he's either flushed with exertion or alcohol or both.

The rest of them are all at one big table, drinking and eating something that looks like dessert. "No cake. Tough one."

Bruce grunts non-committaly. "Where are the guards."

*Good* question. And a teaching question, too, for all that it was quiet and soft. Supportive, really, like maybe Bruce is gonna back his play in this all the way. The least he can do is pay a little more attention... hunh. "None inside. That's fucking *odd*."

Silence from Bruce, waiting --

Jason takes a wider view -- still nothing. He drops the scope and checks the surrounding area with his own eyes, just to get a *feel*. Parked cars at the ends of the street, a scattered handful near the middle. Not *enough*, considering how many people *live* on this street.

And those cars at the ends... he lifts the scope again and takes a closer look. Tricked-out SUVS fucking *packed* with people. And he's about ninety-five percent sure they're all men.

"Jesus. They took the whole street. Since when do they have this whole fucking *street*?"

"They didn't, last night, beyond it being within... call it an 'offshoot' of their regular territory."

Jason growls. "No way. No way, B. We don't *let* this happen in our city."

Bruce hums and shifts beside him. "Some might say there's something to be said for people of their chosen occupation choosing to have -- and enforce -- a peaceful evening of celebration."

"*Some* might need a goddamned reality check. The people who live here have to be scared out of their *minds* right now. And this probably happens *every* time one of these assholes decides to have a party." Jason tucks the scope away and curls his hands into fists. "What's --" The plan.

No, it's his move. His *show*, and so he thinks about it, forcing back the anger *and* the urge until he *can* think. He doesn't want to alert the people inside that there's something going on until he and Bruce can go in *hard*, so...

"Tear gas in the cars, delivered in flight -- both of them have windows open for us. When they come out, drop 'em fast. Knock 'em out so they can't yell for help --"

"Were you planning to give them all concussions, Robin...?" Soft. *Dangerously* soft, but really --

"They're in the wrong fucking line of work," Jason says, pointing Bruce at the north end of the street and flying for the south.

And it goes off like clockwork. He can't see or hear Bruce's toss, can't know that it's at the same time as his, but he knows just the same. He lands and there's that moment, that yelling-and-cursing moment --

And then his guys are all tumbling out on the pavement like candies from a piñata, coughing and retching, and it couldn't be easier if it was some perfect fight from his dreams. He takes the guy with the cell phone first, trusting Bruce to do the same, and then goes for the others. It's almost *too* easy with his domino protecting his eyes and the rebreather taking care of his nose and mouth, and Jason decides to take the extra time to gag the two who didn't go to sleep in his first rush. Nice of them to wear those bandannas, like that.

The gas is dissipating when he's done, and Bruce is moving up the street to meet him, flowing dark and fast like some nightmare river, making Jason need to move *just* that way -- whistle, high and sharp.

He looks, and Batgirl's on the roof of the building they'd left, grapple-gun out and waiting for a signal.

Looking to *him* for a signal -- oh, *fuck* yes. He gestures toward the restaurant, checks Bruce's progress -- right where he needs to be. He gives the go signal and --

It seems to happen in an instant. One second there's a nice regular glare from the shine of the streetlight off the window, the next there's glass flying everywhere, because Tim knows *just* how much Jason likes it when she makes her entrances *that* way.

He leaps in before the glass is fully settled, noting the shadow flowing at his left, noting Tim coming out of her crouch -- and sending a *vicious* fucking kick to the jaw of the dancer. It spins him like a top, gun flying in the opposite direction --

And Jason breaks the arm of his dance partner before she can go for Tim with her very, very nice blade --

And it's on, gunshots and breaking crockery, tables getting flipped while he leaps, dodges, fucking shows them how to *really* dance, because all Bruce is doing is picking off the guns with batarangs and BG is --

Tim is at his side, tumbling and tossing her own batarangs --

Ooh, *right* off the forehead of the guy who'd had *two* guns --

No guns, anymore.

After that it's just a fight the players couldn't win even if they *weren't* all drunk and shocked, and Jason feels himself grinning, hears himself growling and laughing --

And Tim's laugh is sweetness, the best fucking high in the world as she fucking *teases* the guy coming for her like a switchblade is any fucking good against --

Sharp little click, almost buried under everything else, and she's using the kick Bruce had just taught her with her *heel* knife out --

And her guy is on his knees with blood sheeting down over his face from his opened forehead, blinded and screaming like she *had* taken his eyes. Fucking beautiful -- motion --

And Jason has to wince, because he saw the gun before he saw who was holding it, and he fucking *hates* kicking women in the face. That nose is never gonna be straight again, and never mind her broken arm, but --

Everyone's down.

Tim looks at him with her hand over the pocket where she keeps her zip-strips, and Jason thinks about it. It's not like they're going to be calling in the cops for a bunch of weapons violations, but it's also not like he feels any great need to make these fuckers' lives any easier. He nods, and they start trussing them up.

The other women are all huddled behind one of the tables, and they don't put up a fight when he ties them, too. Maybe they'll think about getting better boyfriends. When he's done --

"This, I presume, is the reason for our visit?"

Jason looks over in time to see Tim kicking Martinez over onto his back. Nothing on his face, but he's wincing hard. Tim must've gotten his ribs. "Hmm, lemme think -- uh, *yeah*," Jason says and walks over nice and casually.

Martinez doesn't spit or curse or anything, but it still feels good to break his nose --

"Oh, that wasn't very nice, Robin."

"*I'm* sorry, BG, next time I'll let you do it," he says, and turns to Martinez. "And there'll be a next time, right? I'd be kinda disappointed if this was a *retirement* party for you, big guy."

Martinez glares and doesn't say a word.

"Cat got your tongue? That's all right. See, you're probably thinking about how when the cops come they'll just let you walk away, since you don't even have any GSR on your hands. At most, you'll spend an hour waiting for your lawyer, right? Right."

*Now* Martinez spits at him -- mostly blood --

Tim breaks his jaw for him, one sharp little kick using the steel in *her* toes.

Jason shakes his head mock-sadly. "That ticked her off. She's really kind of a neat-freak, you know. Spitting just isn't *classy*, big guy. But I was saying something before. What was it...? Oh, yeah. You're feeling good because you know the cops don't have shit on you. That's fine -- you're absolutely right. *We* know that, too," and Jason puts his foot on Martinez's chest, prodding a little until -- yeah, there are those busted ribs. He puts on just a *little* pressure.

Not enough to puncture a lung or anything.

"See, this isn't about that. This is about the fact that you're a murdering, drug-dealing shithead, and that we don't like it very much. So we're going to *keep* doing this. Maybe not every day -- we're busy people -- but every time we feel like it. And you? Are gonna suck it up and take it." Just a little more pressure --

Martinez groans, long and low.

"Yeah. Like that," Jason says, moving his foot and turning for the door. He can feel the others following him, and he spares a moment to glance for the south end of the street -- everybody's still tied up tight. He knows Tim is checking the north.

He flies, leading them to an r-point a few blocks away and settling into a shadow. He watches Tim land and smiles --

And watches Bruce veer off to the east. Fucking --

He gives Jason the stand-down gesture as he *flies away* -- "Oh, *come* on --"

"Robin," Tim says, slipping into the shadows with him and resting her gauntlet on his shoulder.

"We just -- we *talked*. It's *okay* --"

"Oh... yes?"

Jason growls and punches his thigh -- his hand slips again. "Man, I'm gonna have to get used to that. I --" He turns to Tim. "Lemme guess -- you talked to O and she suggested that it might be good to keep an eye on me tonight, just in case things went fucking pear-shaped with B?"

Tim squeezes his shoulder. "Something like, yes, but --"

"They *didn't*. I yelled some, and he took it, and he told me everything, and I fucking coped, and *he* fucking coped, and it was good. There's no *reason* to dump me on you, tonight. I'm *good*. *We're* good -- or I fucking *thought* we were."

"It's -- perhaps you should think of it as B wanting you to have a good time tonight and leave it at that? I mean -- unless you don't want me --"

"*Don't* do that," Jason says, grabbing her padded hip and yanking her in close. "I *always* want you. I just fucking hate the idea that you're only out here tonight for *me*."

"I..." Tim twines her fingers into the hair at the back of Jason's neck and tugs. "I have to admit I was starting to feel a little... fungus-like."

Jason grins. "Kept in the dark and fed bullshit?"

"Well... maybe not quite *that*, but... I think it wouldn't hurt if I at least *tried* my routine a little. Not buried myself in it or anything, but... well... this crime won't fight itself...?"

Jason strokes her through the uniform, makes her rub up against him a little -- mm, hot little *whispers* -- don't get distracted. "Just so long as you know when you *need* to step back."

"I have a strong suspicion that you'll make that rather easy to... ah. Test."

"Better fucking *believe* it," Jason says, leaning in to nuzzle her cheek and the edge of her cowl. "Weird seeing those fake blue eyes."

"Yes...? Well, I originally wanted them to have them be more like O's, but I realized they would also work for disguise purposes, considering how *little*, relatively, my cowl hides."

"Yeah, makes sense," and Jason kisses her nose --

Tim snorts and fucking *uses* the material of their uniforms to help her slip free --

"Hey, no fair, I used to have friction on my *side*, here --"

She dances back and laughs, tossing her hair and putting her hands on her hips --

"Like *that*, is it?" Jason stalks close again --

"Tell me about tonight...? O sent me to this neighborhood by yours and B's tracers, but... ah. What was that?"

"I -- heh." Jason pauses and runs a hand through his hair. "Blowin' off a little steam? I was fucking up one of Martinez's dealers earlier and he just kind of *volunteered* the info about where the big shots would be tonight."

"And you thought... 'I'm going to ruin their night for the sheer bloody hell of it?'"

"Pretty much?"

"Mmm. I like it. Maybe we can start doing that on slow nights."

"Like -- regularly? I mean, I was mostly fucking with Martinez in there, but -- damn, *yeah*," he says, reaching out...

Tim takes one hand off her hip and presses her palm to Jason's own. She's got that smile on her face that always *used* to just mean 'Batgirl's feeling happy and a little mean,' but now means that and also that *Tim* is feeling happy and kind of... kind of a little free.

Jason twines their fingers together and squeezes, which is more than enough warning for Tim to be ready when Jason yanks her close again. "You pick the targets?"

"Mm. Well. I do have a few individuals in mind, now that you mention it," she says, tilting her head back --

Jason kisses her, and maybe this kiss never belonged on the street, as opposed to all the private spaces they can share, now. It's soft and *slow*, and part of him is waiting for Tim to bite him, for Batgirl to shove him or nerve-pinch him, stomp on his foot and make her slam her back against the water tower --

She just kisses him back, and Jason can feel her enjoying it, enjoying *him*, and maybe the sounds their uniforms make together. Maybe the distant sirens and that grinding Gotham *engine* -- she pulls back and sighs. "Robin."

"BG," he says, squeezing her hand again.

"Let's -- ah..."

"Make a little noise?"

"Maybe a *lot*. We'll see," Tim says, and *then* shoves Jason, dances back --

And leaps backwards off the roof.

Jason gives himself a moment just to watch her fly, and another to actually make note of her *direction* -- he runs off the roof and follows.

It's their time now.


.The old earth spins.