The Art of Losing
by Te
December 27, 2004

Disclaimers: All belongs to DC.

Spoilers: Takes place after the events of Robin
#125, but *before* "War Games."

Summary: There are perquisites.

Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Contains content some
readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Meant as a prequel, of sorts, to "None
of these will bring disaster" by... someone whose
name I won't mention until jbbs authors are
revealed. :D


Tim's life is a series of shifting boundaries, rules,
limitations, and unfortunate -- or 'unfortunate,' as the
case may be -- necessities.

It's always been that way, and that hasn't changed.
He thinks it's possible that it's this way for everyone,
really. It's just that other people have neither the
need nor inclination to really *think* about it.

There is, after all, a difference between calling the
wrong nickname where someone else might hear,
and calling the wrong *name* -- when the other
person is wearing a mask.

Or when they aren't.

He sees Bruce very little, but still far more than he
should. Bruce Wayne owns pieces of much of
Gotham's cultural infrastructure. There's no reason
why he shouldn't choose to tour a museum on a
certain day, or a library on another.

And if those happen to be days when Tim's classes
are visiting...

They don't say anything to each other. Not really.
Only Ives has any inkling -- or memory -- of the
time he'd spent in Wayne manor, and Ives has
managed to retain pretty much the entirety of
his original opinion on Bruce Wayne.
The majority opinion, and the party line: A Bruce who
will wave absently at Tim and call him 'Tommy.' This
seems right to Ives, and to everyone else.

And none of them bother to watch the man's eyes.

The fact that he does is... a fact. Of himself and his
existence. Those eyes... they give the lie to the
plausible deniability of Bruce Wayne's activities.
Batman has no business in these museums and
other places -- Tim has checked -- and he's wearing
Bruce like armor.

Or perhaps like a man-shaped key to the... what?
There's a genuine question there -- an honest one,
even -- but it's one Tim doesn't feel as though he
has the room to answer. To think on.

It's possible that this is just an excuse.

Probable when he wakes up, one night, to the cool,
slick feel of a gauntlet on the back of his neck, to
another over his mouth.
Unnecessary -- a life with Bruce had cured him,
eventually, of the reflex to scream when awakened
suddenly and randomly.

He waits until Bruce can tell that he's calm enough
to work with, and...
And waits. Because the gauntlets don't move. It's
tempting to raise an eyebrow, but the fact that
he'd never quite managed to train himself out of
sleeping on his stomach... well. The pillow
wouldn't appreciate his silent communication.

When Bruce *does* move, it's only the gauntlet on
the back of his neck. It slips down, tracing his spine
until it reaches the scar near the center. And then it
moves to a few of the other scars on his back. Not
searching for them -- finding them. Testing them.
"I'm fine," he doesn't say, because it should be
obvious. And because the gauntlet is still over his

And because it would've come out loud and strange.
There's a *tongue* on the back of his neck. Lips
and teeth -- very wet. Very...
"Bruce," he says, against the gauntlet, and lets the
shiver become a shudder. He's not, precisely,
ticklish, but the reaction is honest enough.

Bruce keeps kissing his neck. Slow, wet, and --
'Relentless' seems both melodramatic and accurate.
There's room for a joke here, however minor. A
simple 'I missed you, too,' would, perhaps say it all.
A blend of 'I don't mind,' and 'this really is a bit
*far*, don't you think?' It would be perfect.

Save for how the only sounds he can make are
muffled and entirely ambiguous.

The mattress is a good one -- new with this townhouse
and still barely a year old. It doesn't creak when he
shifts. There are other languages to use, after all.
Languages which Bruce should -- *does* -- understand
as well as Batgirl, at least in some respects.

And Bruce stops kissing -- Bruce stops.
Tim waits.
The breath on the back of his neck is hot and smells
faintly of coffee.
There's a simultaneous urge to wait for Bruce to say
whatever it is he has to say and to make himself
*clearer*. In the end, he settles for saying "Bruce"
against the hand again.
And Bruce... moves. The bed dips with the
redistribution of weight, and Bruce is straddling
his thighs. There's enough room for Tim to turn
over, and he uses it.

There's nothing readable in the line of Bruce's jaw,
and rather too much in the faint wetness of
Bruce's mouth. The back of his neck doesn't feel
raw so much as it feels... sensitized. An answer
to Bruce's slick lips, or, perhaps more accurately,
a *response*.
The lenses on the cowl are down. The hand is still
over his mouth. The *gauntlet*.
Tim raises an eyebrow.
And Batman's free hand is moving over his chest.

Tim reaches up to circle Batman's *other* wrist and
tugs. It's a great deal like trying to move a
hand-shaped boulder -- and the hand on his chest
doesn't so much as pause -- until it isn't.
Tim takes a breath. "Clarity, here, would be a good
idea. As good a one as we can hope for,
considering --"
"Tim," he says, in *that* voice. The one Tim knew
before all the others. The real one.
Tim closes his eyes.

And Batman pets his mouth, and tugs *up* on
Tim's t-shirt, and it's possible that the joke wouldn't
have been *just* a bit small and weak. That it
would've been *inaccurate*.
Batman doesn't miss him so much as --
Tim surprises himself by grunting when Batman
pushes two fingers *into* his mouth, when the
taste of armor and plastic and --
His own gauntlets don't -- *didn't* -- smell like
Bruce's. He'd never tasted them, of course, but the
materials used were entirely different.

The stroke over his tongue is impossibly smooth
and *just* as strong -- and hard -- as it should be.
Batman doesn't miss *anyone*.
Because Batman is always... always.
It's a different question entirely, he thinks. Perhaps
a new paradigm. He isn't Bruce's ward -- however
temporary and barely official -- and he isn't
Batman's ally or student.

Boundaries. Necessities. And...
Tim tugs on Batman's wrist again, and thinks about
biting when Batman makes it difficult this time.
And does it anyway when Batman finally stops
pretending Tim doesn't have nipples and pinches
the left.
Batman doesn't moan, or grunt, or do anything else
beyond exhaling sharply.

And when he slips his fingers out of Tim's mouth,
the move feels nearly natural, as opposed to
requested. Natural enough, anyway, that it takes a
moment to remember what he wanted to say.
"Tim," he says, and it's an order.
"Is this... a perquisite?"
Batman hums quietly, pleasantly. A brief sound, but
a memorable one -- far more applicable to the
breaking of someone's jaw under Tim's staff --
under the staff that *used* to be his -- than anything
else. Familiar, though.
If he were Robin, still, he'd be waiting for a cue, for
a *direction* -- however implied. But he isn't, so
he sits up, and back, pulling his legs out from
between Batman's thighs and then pushing onto
his knees.

Batman shifts agreeably enough, and it's... really
very easy to spread himself over his thighs, and
brace his hands on Batman's shoulders. The cape
is cool and slick and nearly liquid under his hands.
He gets a good grip and leans in, and presses his
mouth against the corner of Batman's own. "Who
made these rules? These... distinctions. Who
decided what would be allowed, and when?"
"I didn't," says Batman, and the amusement is
wintry and mixed with a weird sort of... greedy
Something that started being Tim's due long before
he was allowed to call himself *Robin*. And... it
makes sense. In a way. Sometimes he thinks he
knew the touch of these gauntlets -- and the older
ones -- long before he knew anything else.

Certainly long before Tim knew anything else from
*him*. And the fact that Batman hasn't asked
doesn't mean that there *isn't* a question. It's
never worked that way for them, after all.

"Yes," he says, against the corner of Batman's

The kiss is fast, and hard, and ends with one
gauntlet cupping and *lifting* his ass while the
other buries itself in his hair. "Again," Batman

"Yes," he says, and digs his knees into the chest
armor, and "Yes," because there's at least as much
magic in threes as there is in the concept of the

"Tim..." and it shouldn't, precisely, be possible for a
growl to sound that *happy*, but it also shouldn't be
possible that the feel of Batman's gauntlet slipping
down the back of his shorts -- yanking his shorts
out of the *way* -- should seem so familiar.

Reminding himself that it had never happened
before -- that every touch had had, at least, the
*patina* of respectability -- feels just the same as
*telling* himself...

And he tells himself lies all the time.

Better, perhaps, not to think about it beyond the
baldest facts. His own bed, his own skin, and the
fact that whatever eyes are behind that cowl are
meaningless. That whatever skin he could touch
other than the few planes of Bruce Wayne's face
he's allowed will be a question of physical
necessity as opposed to truth.

Everything else, from the insanity of this happening
while his parents sleep approximately two hundred
feet away to the insanity of it being this *good* is

Tim pushes his face against the smooth curve of
the cowl's throat, and works his jaw on the armor,
bites and groans into it when Batman finally stops
playing with his balls and reaches around to grab
his dick.

Yes, he doesn't say aloud, but only because he
has a great *deal* of willpower. Most of which is
being used to let him shift back, *move* to give
Batman a better angle --

"Tell me how."

Robin likes it fast, because Robin is always busy --
too busy for anything like this. All *he* has to do
is stay in bed until his parents are awake enough
to hear him moving in the bathroom at the
appropriate time. "Slow," he says, because he
can. "Hard," because he's allowed to state the
obvious, as well.

"Tim," and he does it. Just like -- just like --

It's nothing like anything else. He'd always *meant*
to apply a greater deal of control to this, just for
himself, but --

There was never time, room, or anything like an
*excuse*. He's sweating -- all over Batman's armor
and all over himself -- and biting down isn't enough
to keep the sounds livable.

He doesn't *want* them to be and he thinks -- he's
almost *sure* -- Batman would -- would --

He can't. His -- his *parents*. "Other hand. I -- in
my --"

Batman yanks his head back, and his eyes are white
and angled and narrow, and Tim has to bite his lip
to keep from moaning, and Batman's eyes get even
*narrower* before he slips his other hand out of
Tim's hair and covers his mouth.

It isn't what he wanted, but he still has to moan in
gratitude, and moan again because Batman is
*squeezing* him. Something that would hurt --
*should* hurt -- if Tim Drake hadn't spent the past
several weeks wondering just when you *did* jerk
off if it *wasn't* right after patrol, or right before.

As it is, it's perfect, and if Batman were kissing him
Tim would have to suck his tongue. Instead, he licks
the palm of the gauntlet and tastes his own product
and thinks about buying something with a better
flavor and thinks about laughing and --


And comes all over Batman's fist, and jerks at the
feel of some of it hitting his own stomach. And
*bites* the gauntlet, because it isn't *enough*.

"What else?"

It's laughable. So much of this is new -- constructed
from fantasy and memories he'd shoved somewhere
behind wherever Batman stored the *old* armor.
The softer, weaker --


The voice he'd used when someone was about to
shoot at him, and he wasn't sure if Tim -- if *Robin* --
knew it. Tim twists his face away from Batman's
gauntlet -- with an effort -- and looks Batman in
the lenses. "What can I have?"

Behind the noseguard -- Tim wouldn't be able to
see if the angle was different -- Batman's nostrils
flare. Slightly.

"I'm not teasing."

"I know," Batman growls, and shows his teeth. More
amusement. More... *more*. And Batman cups
Tim's hip with his slick -- *slicker* -- gauntlet and
pushes. It misses a shove by the fact that Batman
knows how well *he* follows... silent communication.

Tim moves back and settles on his heel, and *stops*
when Batman slips off the bed. He sits down properly
and lets his lips part on the 'yes' he isn't going to say.

The gauntlets are steady as Batman unhooks the
paneling over his groin, as he shoves the shorts and
jock down, as he takes himself in hand -- in
*gauntlet*, and Tim doesn't wait to be told. He
doesn't *have* to wait, anymore.

And while there's some question as to how much
agency -- how much *difference* -- Tim should
have in matters like this one, in matters where
there's *quite* this much freedom...

The questions aren't nearly as *important* as the
weight of Bruce -- *Batman* on his tongue.
Emotional, physical.

The intellectual is caught up on the many memories
of Batman using staff weapons, on the jokes and
the limitations that *should* exist when one is
fucking Batman (the Bat?), but which, apparently,
don't exist at all.

It doesn't matter that Tim's life to date has been
*about* the intellectual, and that Batman surely
loves him for his mind as much as anything else.
It just...

It's *better* when the reasonably clean gauntlet
is back in his hair, and when the other is painting
sticky stripes on his cheek.

When the urgency of this -- this *act* -- becomes
clear in the tension of Batman's hip under his
hand, the *warning* of it. Tim doesn't bother to
look up. He focuses on breathing and --

The thrust still makes him choke, still makes him
*stutter*, somewhere inside. Because he's --

Another thrust, another --

He's being *fucked*, by *Batman*, and the part of
him which finds it laughably obvious and even sort
of familiarly absurd is just *smaller* than the part
of him which is a mouth, a hand braced on
something scarred and solid, and a stained abdomen.

Than the part of him which is a body without
uniform, (reason) excuse, or, apparently,

Batman tightens his gauntlet in Tim's hair. And Tim...

He closes his eyes, and lets himself forget about
the mechanism of breathing while performing fellatio,
and strokes at the largest scar he can feel under
his thumb. He doesn't even mean anything *particular*
by it, but he can certainly understand why it would
make Batman *yank* on his hair.

And he has no need to understand why that makes
it better.

Batman only tastes like a man.

He *feels* like something else. Something real,
distant, and just a little too *much*. Tim doesn't
know how he feels about having a metaphor in a
split lip and a sore scalp, but perhaps it *has* to be
this way.

Not just now, but...

Perhaps it was always supposed to be something
more like this, where the knowledge was *only* for
his body, and the questions of his mind would
never -- *could* never be answered.

If he pulls off -- if he *tries* to pull off -- to say
Bruce's name, he'll conjure something more
unpleasant than discomfort, or even pain.

He could, perhaps, conjure an end to this solely by
pointing out the facts that Batman is so, so good at
ignoring. The scars on his back are as much Robin's
as Tim Drake's, and Thomas Wayne had
undoubtedly circumcised the dick in Tim's mouth

'I *do* believe in urban legends,' he thinks, and
chokes on his own laughter *and* Batman's --
*Bruce's* -- dick.

"Tim," Batman says, with far too much urgency for
character -- and far too much desperation for a Bat.

But the boundaries' only strictness is what they
give, and there's room, perhaps, for just a little

In Tim Drake's life, anyway.

The satisfaction of coughing, a little, when Batman
comes in his mouth feels nearly taboo -- but not as
much as the feel of Batman gathering Tim against
himself. Of the cape falling around his body and the
armor dry and scratchy against his cheek.

He has a handful of memories like this -- all vague,
because all of them involved him being, at best,
questionably conscious. This is... different. A little too
warm, and it's too dark for him to see anything at all.

The cape isn't soundproof, of course, but it's heavily
armored in its own right, and, at this time of night,
both his house and his neighborhood are quiet
enough to make it *feel* that way.

His own little cave, now with just a bit more *intent*
in the molestation.

Tim smiles, and wonders how it looks on his face.

Batman squeezes him -- just a little too hard.


  The art of losing isn't hard to master;
  so many things seem filled with the intent
  to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
  Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
  of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
  The art of losing isn't hard to master.
  Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
  places, and names, and where it was you meant
  to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
  I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
  next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
  The art of losing isn't hard to master.
  I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
  some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
  I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.
  --Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
  I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
  the art of losing's not too hard to master
  though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

-- "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop

.None of these will bring disaster.