The Pathology of Attraction
by Te
August 12, 2005

Disclaimers: No one here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: None, really. Pre-War Games.

Summary: There's a problem.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Not for the kids, though not explicit.
Content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: An attempt to write 'schmoop' for myself.
Owes rather a *lot* to Betty's "Able to Succeed." Also,
owes a lot to the way Lieberman wrote Bruce and Tim
in GK.

Acknowledgments: To Jam for audiencing and


The problem, when he considers it (and he often doesn't, as it
isn't, precisely, that sort of problem), is threefold:

One: It isn't who they are.

Two: It isn't who they -- either of them -- wish to be, for any
number of good reasons.

Three: Neither of the above have been -- remotely -- effective.

In terms of stopping.

Tonight, Tim believes it will be the sense of attention between them,
even though both of them are focused on the monitors. Different
monitors, even.

Perhaps there is something in his -- their -- body language which
would explain their status at this moment which should, by rights,
merely be one of efficiently plausible deniability.

He considers asking Batgirl about it, but... he suspects her answer will
simply be "of course," with an entirely physical subtext of 'why are
you asking stupid questions?'

Tim thinks, perhaps, if he understood the less... pointedly useful aspects
of the physical somewhat better, he would be able to pinpoint what it
is between them, tonight.

If he could do that (tension in Bruce's hands -- *not* his shoulders),
and if he could explain it (silent pressure of Bruce's mouth on his hip,
through Tim's shorts), then it's possible that they could -- could --

After, they shower side-by-side. It's a somewhat ridiculous image, or
perhaps a precious one -- he's not sure.

He just knows that he's still nearly a foot shorter than Bruce, and *over* a
hundred pounds lighter. Side-by-side, like this, they must look...

Tim frowns. He isn't entirely sure. In any event, he's going to need to
return home soon enough, and --

"Tim. I've been considering our... situation."

Of course. "Yes?"

"Hm," Bruce says.

He doesn't bother to look at Tim to share the laugh more thoroughly -- he
never does. At this point, there's no need.

"I must admit a desire to hear your theories."

Tim nods and tilts his head back to sluice the shampoo out of his hair. "The
first thought was, of course, adrenaline."

Bruce begins scrubbing his back for him. The strokes are quick and
somewhat brutal -- necessary, considering how much they sweat beneath
the armor. "The thought faded rather quickly, I imagine."

"By the fourth -- instance -- yes. The second theory I came up with had
more to do with theories and assumptions I'd formed... earlier. About your
association with your other Robins."

Bruce pushes him until the water will sluice over his back. "Interesting."

"Yet ultimately ridiculous, of course."

Bruce's hand lingers on his shoulder -- no. On a recent wound. "The stitches
came out too early. You're going to need to work this shoulder harder to
avoid -- more -- permanent damage."

"Noted," Tim says, and waits for Bruce to turn and offer his own back. This
has never been anything less than suggestive, of course -- the man has to
brace and *bend* -- but it's really only shallowly suggestive. They've yet
to manage to... tease each other.

He believes that would be the word for it.

"In any event, my other theories are even less --"

"Tell me."

"We've had the time to... come to know one another. We took rather longer
at it than either of us have done with anyone else. There's a certain attraction
in the difficult."

Bruce makes a sound which -- just -- manages to edge past non-committal
to agreement.

"Certainly, the analyses we've done on ourselves and each other suggest...

"The pathology of attraction, Tim?"

Tim smiles at the humor in Bruce's voice, and lets some of it into his voice.
"Isn't that what we're doing, right now? Other than showering, of course."

Bruce stands straight again, and the water slides down his back -- diverted,
here and there, by the scars.

Fascinating to watch, really.

"No," Bruce says, and it takes -- a moment -- for Tim to realize that the man
had treated his question as a serious one.

"Oh?" He steps back to give Bruce room to turn.

Each finger on the hand which is currently cupping Tim's jaw is mere millimeters
from being able to cause him a great deal of pain, and damage.

Tim raises an eyebrow.

Bruce raises one right back. "No," he says, again. "I believe it would be far
more accurate to say we're... flirting."


"And no," Bruce says, leaning in, "it doesn't bring us any closer to solving the

It really doesn't. "Good thing," Tim says, when he catches a breath, "that it
isn't that sort of problem."