Disclaimers: Profoundly not mine.
Spoilers: Many, many references to various moments on
GK/TNBA and in GOTHAM ADVENTURES.
Summary: One day, it will just be beautiful again.
Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which just happens
to dovetail neatly with the content some readers may find
Author's Note: Somewhere between a sequel to and an AU
to "This place, this prayer." Probably won't make sense
Acknowledgments: To all the people who stayed up much
too late listening to me attempt to 'redeem' chatpr0n. Lord
knows I put enough of you through it. Heh. Jam gets extra
props, though, for forcing me to give this some semblance
of an emotional arc, and Betty gets special thanks, too,
because (I'm invested in ruining her rep) she's the
one who encouraged me to go ahead and do this, and to
put some thought into it, as well.
Dick is wrong about this.
He's -- less -- wrong than he once was. He's reached the
point where he does return to the Cave sometimes, though
he still hasn't slept in the Manor for much too long. He
works with Tim now nearly as much as he ever did before.
However, they haven't... they haven't talked in a very long
time, and Dick has never been adept at hiding his
emotions. He's never been especially willing to, when he
feels Bruce is wrong.
("I was wrong. This isn't -- just -- selfishness with you, is
it? You're *blind*.")
He works with Tim as much as he does now, perhaps, to...
counter what he sees as Bruce's blindness.
This is the same dubious comfort as it was in the beginning,
of course. Bruce has never been as blind as all that.
Here, now, in Tim's doorway, watching -- *this* --
Dick wasn't entirely wrong.
There are other forms of blindness, of course. Sorts --
too -- easy to ignore in the midst of everything --
Clark is touching *the boy*. He's --
There's a part of Bruce which is -- admirably -- insistent
about pointing out just how much of the rage, the --
emotion thrumming through him, right now, boils down
to both the most shameful sort of possessiveness and that
precise and pathetic embarrassment based in having
been wrong. No --
He hadn't been blind. He'd just...
Tim had, before, always been very... catholic in his... in
The first thought which comes to mind Bruce feels capable
of saying aloud is, "Get out."
He fights back the rush of -- *emotion* -- at the fact that it
is, at this point, a somewhat literal order. He --
He watches Clark stiffen -- and there's a part of him making
note of this, of the *precise* sort of thing necessary to
neutralize those ever-so-disturbing alien powers -- and
he watches Tim...
'Stiffen' is far too mild a word.
But Tim is the one who looks at him -- *to* him -- first.
And the question -- so mild, so calm now -- is answered
within them before Bruce has to struggle to come up with
something else to say. He twists out of -- Clark's *grip*,
Perhaps, suggests a part of him capable of logical -- if
irrelevant -- thought, Clark had deliberately narrowed the...
focus of his senses. For *this*.
"Bruce, Tim, I -- oh --"
Clark, who is, perhaps predictably, somewhat slower on the
But it's fascinating to watch Tim cover the -- alien's --
mouth with one hand and give just one, brief headshake.
It's enough -- suspiciously so -- to make Clark nod and --
The rush of air feels like yet another trespass. However,
since it marks Clark's *exit*, it's one with which Bruce
"No," he says, too fast. Too --
It's not the sharpness ("Maybe you *forgot* this kid used
to sleep with a *batarang*.") which makes Tim pull back
within himself like that. He knows it isn't. He's just not sure
And he lacks the luxury to give it thought. Tim is -- he's
*better*, but -- "Not... at the moment," he says, weakly.
After a moment, Tim nods.
Bruce goes to the Cave.
Alfred has never been averse to accusing him of -- *hiding* --
in the Cave --
Had never *been* --
It's useless, really. *He* is, right now, though it's never
entirely pointless to refamiliarize oneself with the files,
He's not even sure which file he's *reading*.
And Tim is, of course, fully aware of that fact. He'd almost
have to -- need to -- be.
They've been... closer. Lately.
"You know it's. You shouldn't." Tim growls behind Bruce,
almost certainly at himself.
"Say it," Bruce says -- orders -- reflexively.
"Perhaps it was time for *you* to have a little... breakdown."
There's a laugh beneath Tim's voice which is the wrong --
He isn't, entirely, sure when he'd begun dreading the sound
of Tim's laughter more than wishing for it. Still.
"Is that what I'm doing?"
Tim moves soundlessly closer -- the knowledge comes from
the way his scent intensifies within the carefully dry air in
the Cave. He's -- had a shower.
If Bruce were to turn, right now -- not the chair, just his
head -- he wouldn't, quite, be dragging his cheek across
Over... the *boy*.
His -- he isn't going to ask what he'd done with Clark. He
knows -- he knew, once -- the sort of things Tim... favored.
As if his body had only ever been something to be used for
the sake of -- of --
"Bruce. I need you to. Cope."
And he isn't speaking of Bruce's -- *feelings* -- about the
business with Clark. That would be infinitely easier. He
wants to ask the boy for room, for *time*; there are so
many ways in which his -- their -- home has become
laughably, obscenely *small* --
There's something almost endlessly *hurtful* about the fact
that he knows, now, that it's something they will almost
never be able to have. And the boy... has always made a
mockery of space. "Tell me why you did it," he says,
deliberately low and blank of emotion.
And Tim... it's not quite a 'hum,' but it is a very... a very
pleased sound, just the same. "Good. That's --"
He sees -- senses -- the movement; he can stop it.
He doesn't, and Tim is kneeling on Bruce's thighs, trusting
less to Bruce's capacity -- or will -- to brace him than to his
own athleticism. His palms are still on Bruce's cheeks. His
fingers are... restless.
"What," he says, "do *you* think?"
The fact that there is a part of Bruce honestly tempted to
berate *the boy* for playing -- *playing* -- is... Tim is better,
"Hnn. I didn't think you wanted this from me, Bruce. But
you do, right?"
It stops him. How could this possibly be a question? ("Any
way you can have me. Right?") It -- it *should* stop him.
"You know. You know how badly --"
Tim's hand over his mouth is dry and hard. "I didn't think
you wanted to *act* on it," he says, quick and light. His
eyebrows are sharp and curved with a smile Bruce can, of
course, *feel* as much as he can see. "I thought you'd
prefer me going *elsewhere* for... this."
And after a moment, he moves his hand, and the
expression on his face becomes a question.
But not an honest one.
He hadn't -- he'd *never* wanted --
("But --" "Tim. This -- *this* -- isn't what this means.")
And before... it had been infinitely easier to...
Before, nearly every way Tim chose to define 'elsewhere'
was a starkly brilliant improvement. Over the alternative.
And Tim's fingers still on his face, save for his thumbs.
There's a message (acceptance) in the slow, steady stroke
of them over his temples.
"Things change," he says, in acknowledgment and answer,
and Tim digs the caps of his knees into Bruce's quadriceps
in a -- slightly -- different sort of smile.
"He has perfect muscle control, Bruce. Even --"
It's -- almost -- more of a sniff than an inhalation.
Bruce knows precisely how Tim responds to that... and
to that voice --
"No. I -- *no*. You *want* me to finish that sentence.
-- most of the time. Bruce narrows his eyes behind the -- he
isn't wearing the cowl. He calms. And waits.
Tim nods, sharply, and the corner of his mouth *twitches*.
"Even, I was saying, in his *throat*. You know that. He can
sound *exactly* like you... Batman." Another twitch. "He
was going to. For *me*."
He wishes -- there's a part of him that wishes -- he could
truly be shocked. Surprise isn't enough, for this.
Surprise *wouldn't* be enough.
"You know... you know what I want."
The smile -- it had *been* there -- fades, drops, *sinks*
behind the smooth mask of control Tim uses in lieu
of... of everything he doesn't have, anymore.
"You know. What I need."
Don't, Bruce hears himself say, but the Tim's mouth tastes
like some execrable soft drink or another, Tim's hair is
damp (the boy is perfect again, perfect), Tim is silent and
shuddering, and the word --
Was only within the dubious safety of his own mind.
The chair is wrong for this in ways he can't define, the Cave
He lacks both the time and capacity to define more --
*better* -- but the gurney is there, and there's a... salve.
Excellent for bruises, designed to soften, soothe. Designed
not to irritate open wounds.
Tim is watchful, but not still. It takes... control for Bruce to
keep his hands from sliding randomly, messily over the
planes of Tim's body.
And the boy knows this utterly.
He knows -- the boy always --
That fascinatingly effective moment of communication
between him and *Clark*. That --
Bruce pauses, one slick hand cupping Tim's unscarred
right knee, the other holding Tim's left arm out of the
way and still *enough*.
And the boy knows this, too.
The *boy*... is an open wound. "Why didn't you just --"
The boy never *asks* for anything. He never has. "-- tell
The confusion is -- brief, hopeful, *confusing*, and brief.
"You think --" Tim blinks rapidly for just slightly too long to
solely be about surprise. It's not something he does often.
It's... it's the *replacement* for a very specific laugh. ("Are
you fucking *kidding* me?") Bruce closes his eyes behind
the cowl -- the cowl isn't *on*. Bruce resists the desire to
*snarl* and bears down with both hands.
It makes Tim stop blinking, and narrow and sharpen his
expression into something Bruce hasn't seen since Tim's
first *night* here. A communication of suspicion.
"Then," he says, carefully, "you should *explain* the
serendipity, Robin. Now."
A different -- the better -- sort of narrowing. "It was never...
hnn. I knew you'd *know*."
Which is the *problem*. "*Robin* --"
"I just -- I needed -- I thought -- oh, fuck."
It's the calm in that last which is the warning. The cold (not
dead, *not*), blank *mockery* of calm. "Tim, don't."
The *pull* of his face --
-- frozen there, caught, gone.
Tim growls. "I'm not. I'm better. I'm *better*," he says, and
the stress is deliberate and entirely for himself.
This is what Dick is never allowed to see. This is for himself,
and for Barbara, when she's here. Their...
Bruce gives himself a moment to brush Tim's dry cheek
with the back of his hand, digging in only when Tim looks
at him again -- there.
That *flash* in the boy's eyes. That --
"You seduced him."
"I was *hungry*."
He makes no sound for one finger, and it adds to the
*unreality* of the moment. Surely it hadn't been so easy to
do, to move from moment to another. To --
It sounds, a great deal, like "thank you."
It looks, on Tim's face, like... like...
He can't, and Tim's protest when he pulls out is barely a
flicker in his eyes. That sense ("I don't believe in
you. Anymore.") --
Impossible. Unacceptable --
He lifts Tim, turns him over, giving him only enough
time to brace himself before entering him with two fingers,
slow and hard.
If he'd used a different salve, he could do this to the Tim's
mouth. Feel the sharpness of his teeth --
Tim would let him. The boy wants him to do it.
Tim -- The boy *needs* him now, and it's like watching
something from outside. He can't quite credit the fact that
he isn't yet stabbing the boy with his fingers, but.
And Tim is rocking back, and making low noises in his
throat. Similar, in a way, to the cautious inroads Tim
has made into trying to teach himself how to laugh again,
"Is this... is this..."
A hitching breath, and Tim shudders so violently Bruce
has to squeeze his hip just to --
"Bruce... oh *Bruce*, you want me so *much* --"
It feels like a congratulations -- a mocking one despite the
utter lack of amusement in Tim's voice --
("*Now* you're getting it.")
"*Robin*," and there's no reason to keep the growl out of
his own voice.
"You make me make *sense*, Bruce --"
Breaking, shattering. The boy -- There is nothing between
himself and this experience, there *could* be nothing,
and the boy is flushed and sweating and slick.
Devastatingly approachable and --
Bruce drags him over the side of the bed, catching and
pinning his wrists to the relatively thin mattress until the
boy holds on, and then spreads him.
*Takes* him. His fingers again, but harder, so much --
"Batman, *yes* --"
The boy moves his hips, *works* them back for him,
urging him faster.
Bruce doesn't know if he wants harder or not, but -- he
There's so much he can *do*, now, so much he can feel,
and touch --
("And *how* many laws did we break tonight, Bruce...?")
Always. That's --
The boy comes with a scream and slumps, the faint scratch
on his neck from the implant livid against the flush of his
That's the *point*.
And he recovers, quickly -- *so* -- standing and looking
back over his shoulder. Dangerously calm, true, but --
Yes, happy. It's in his eyes, and the curve of his brows. "In
(Whatever they need. When --)
He pushes in, as far as he can get, and the boy fights for
more, spasming around him and making those beautiful,
terrifying sounds in his throat.
Someday they'll just be beautiful, again. He --
Bruce wraps one arm around the boy's chest and holds on,
leaning back and lifting, and the boy is so good, so perfect,
lifting his legs and bending his knees for Bruce to catch him
that way, *hold* him that way, spread and --
He *believes*. "Robin..."
A hitch, a sigh -- he hears the 'Tim' in Bruce's voice. The --
tolerable weakness. "Oh..."
Enough for it to be tolerable. *Enough*.
He can feel every pound the boy has regained, but he's still
light. More than light enough for this, and Bruce holds him
there and rocks. It would be better if he were sitting
down, but he can't make himself stop. Just... one short
thrust after another, and the boy makes sharp little "hn"
sounds which bear no resemblance whatsoever to his
terrible compromise of a laugh, and reaches back to wrap
his arms around Bruce's neck.
A weakness shared...? "You are so -- very beautiful --"
"And you're --" He can't. He can't. This is --
The boy needs Bruce, too.
And in his own voice, "You're mine."
This will -- this is -- More. *More*. "Say it. Say it for me."
"Yours -- *yours*, Bruce ah -- *ah* --"
Screaming now, and Bruce knows he shouldn't bite,
shouldn't -- shouldn't have to hold the boy with his hands
*and* his teeth, but he can't do anything else --
Orgasm hits him too soon, too *sharply*, and he has to
keep thrusting, despite the discomfort, despite --
"Oh God, *Batman* --"
Never stop. *Never* stop. He's not *done*. He pulls the
boy against him and drops to his knees, pushing the boy's
face to the floor --
"God -- *fuck* --"
-- and receives the incandescent flash of yet another *gift*.
It had been -- 'instinct' gives the low, mindless need he'd
felt a moment ago far too much credit, but...
Every time the boy curses, now, it's a victory. A -- so
beautiful. So -- "I *love* you," he says, and he can't care,
can't *question* the fact that it sounds like an accusation.
Not when it makes the boy tense and *flex* around him,
not when he can *hear* the wet slap of the boy's come on
the floor. And the animal whimpers.
And Bruce holds on tight to the boy's hips and takes him
There is no rhythm, no grace to this.
Only the boy, *his* boy, for some pathetically liberal
condition of sanity --
Only the boy, and the low, ambiguous noises of his
pleasure and fear, the violence inside him, the --
"I love you. I love you so *much* --"
There is no answer but the noise in the boy's throat, the
scrape of his short nails on the floor --
"Never -- never let you go --"
"Nn -- n --"
"*Mine*," and Bruce spills inside him again. And holds
himself there, just --
And strokes the boy's back.
Hard, with the heels of his palms. It's the first sort of touch
Tim had responded to positively, after.
As opposed to merely accepting.
Tim, sometimes... It's the intensity, Bruce thinks. The
question of *emotion* and the need to sort it, cautiously,
before letting it ride him. Bruce understands, and it's all
right that Tim is shaking. It's all right that the sounds --
The sounds become gasps, after a moment, and then a soft,
He pulls Tim up carefully, settling him over his lap and
hissing a little as his softening penis pushes briefly deeper.
Tim is quiet, pliant in his arms. There's a scrape on his
cheek from the stone, and when Bruce kisses it, he
receives a nuzzle in return.
"Bruce," he says again, and it almost seems as though
Tim is feeling the name with his mouth. As if he's
considering swallowing it.
"Mm," he says, in return, and lets his lips part to better feel
the Tim's skin with his mouth.
"Don't be angry with Clark."
He doesn't want to know the nuances of how Tim
had gone about seducing Clark, but it's something which
will undoubtedly be... edifying, just the same. Weaknesses
often are. "I make... no promises."
"Hn," Tim says. The laugh-which-isn't, and so it shouldn't
have this brand of familiarity. This sort of --
("Aw, Bruce, suck it up. You know you love it when I'm a
But it does.
The *boy* --
Bruce breathes, and lets his teeth scrape over the lobe of
the boy's ear.
"Batman," the boy says. Swallowing him again.