Your will of me/For any lord
February 7, 2007
Disclaimers: Not mine.
Spoilers: None at all.
Summary: He's known from the beginning, of course.
Ratings Note: Sexual content which dovetails with
the content some readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: Missing scenes/riffs on "But hold me fast,
and fear me not." Probably won't make sense without it.
Not quite part of The Fools Who Do series.
Acknowledgments: Love to the usual suspects, but
especially to Gloss, who told me what I actually
wanted to say.
The only moments of peace are in the --
The only times you feel remotely like (the person you used
to think you were) yourself are when it (*it*) is all over
again. Which, of course, just makes it worse, as, at those
times, you're sweaty, panting, often smiling, and when you
finally stop gasping (sparking, burning, all over your skin)
enough to breathe --
Well, then you can smell yourself. Both of you.
With the realization -- and it is one, always -- comes your
other senses, working perfectly as if they'd never tried --
never would! -- to drive you insane with their insistence on
pointing out such -- such irrelevant *inanities* as the
perfect shape of the sweat on his shoulder, the raggedness
in his breathing which matched the raggedness of your --
Are there even words for that? Do you want to know?
In any event, the *last* time you'd heard from your senses,
they were full of that sort of thing, along with the way his
voice was something beyond music, something which made
music irrelevant. That it was pure *feeling*, and that this
was something you needed -- want, then, was irrelevant.
Now, of course, everything is (almost) back to where it
should be. Back to normal. The hairs on your left arm
prickle with his impossible (inappropriate) proximity, the
scent of him (you) is animal and obvious and implies
nothing more (inappropriate) dire than a near-imminent
shower. You're just as sore as you should be.
He didn't, actually, just refer to you as 'darling.'
Certainly not in any way which you were supposed to do
more about than find amusing. Disturbingly amusing,
of course, but --
He is who he is.
You are who you are. (Aren't you?)
If there *must* be humor between you -- and, to be fair,
things seem to progress far more smoothly with that sort of
thing than without -- then it almost certainly has to be
disturbing. You're more than willing to admit that it's
possible you simply haven't found the right *way* to... to
*joke* with him without wending your way down roads
where angels would fear, etc., etc., but --
There has never been a time when you haven't appreciated --
no. Be honest. You can do that, now. It's all over. (for now.)
There has never been a time when that *particular* smile
on his face hasn't made you feel right within yourself,
hadn't made you feel perfectly (properly) placed within this
(his) life, hasn't filled you with that thankfully mostly
indescribable sense of *belonging*.
Which is, of course, problematic --
Being as you're freshly fucked, naked, and sharing a bed --
*his* bed -- with him.
Something has gone very badly wrong somewhere along the
way, and the awful thing is that you're absolutely positive
that the fact that you had responded to his putative
'darling,' with 'yes, sweetheart?' was merely a symptom of
the larger -- positively *gargantuan* -- problem.
And so you are struggling within yourself, you're searching
for something to say, something *correct* to say, you're
performing the mental equivalent of tossing some perp's
bedroom at speed because the perp in question (is the part
of you which is already -- *already* -- suggesting that you
really aren't *that* sore, all things considered) is about to
return with several of his closest heavily-armed friends.
This is what you find:
"You should know, Bruce..."
"You should be aware of the fact that this -- well. I *am*
going to have to go back home soon."
You're not as proud of yourself as you should be for that.
Really, it was perfectly phrased, it was pointed, it was *you*.
(Wasn't it?) The 'should' of thinly-veiled approbation and the
implication of your own desires having little enough to do
with the current situation combined with that hesitation --
might you have said something derogatory, something
terribly *negative* about this (affair? relationship? fling?
mind-boggling mistake?) whatever it is between you had
you not cut yourself off? Finally, the piece de resistance,
the perfection of stating as a fact (really!) that 'home' was
someplace other than here --
Honestly, the only times you've ever done (performed)
better is for your father, and that was a matter of *practice*,
really, and --
And the best thing -- one of the best things -- about these
little moments between the two of you is that you may
entirely plausibly have your eyes closed -- not squeezed
shut, mind, you've been better than that for *years* --
because you're simply exhausted, and providing yourself
with as much rest as you can before patrol.
Certainly -- certainly -- you don't have your eyes closed to
hide from *his*. You know his moods, his tendencies, and
his proclivities. There's nothing to see beyond the
unnecessary confirmation of how well they reflect your
own. You know this. You've accepted this as much as
anyone could reasonably be expected to -- more than.
You're not hiding from him, or the feel of him shifting
beside you with both economy (so, always, admirable) and
deliberation, or the feel of his fingertips on your cheekbone,
proprietary and gentle, proprietarily gentle --
On your mouth, your chin --
You know he's smiling at you, now, and you know what
that *looks* like --
"Home, darling? I'm sure I don't know what you're talking
about. There was this book -- maybe it was a movie --
something or other about not being *able* to --"
Smiling hurts, sometimes.
"In *any* event, cabbage --"
"You should be beaten -- perhaps pithed -- for giving me
positive associations for that -- for that *voice* --"
"Beaten...? Well, there *is* some old tack in the stables,
cactus flower, but --"
"B -- Brucie."
His laughter -- he's close enough that you can feel it in your
sternum in entirely explicable ways. The other places you
feel it are far less respectable on any number of levels.
Your own laughter is hoarse, uneven, unpracticed --
He kisses you and you're still laughing, and you know that
he's incapable of doing the same. *That* --
That may not be the problem, but it's certainly closer to it.
Both the loss of his laughter and your knowledge of it, your
understanding of it. You've met -- and treated -- amnesiacs,
come across and caused any number of brain injuries.
You're irrationally positive, just the same, that it's impossible
to lose knowledge. It's as permanent as a scar, and
infinitely less attractive.
(your tongue on his back, the way you shook before he
finally stopped you, caught you, changed you, changed
the direction, made you beg --)
You know him now, and this is the least of it and the most
You know he loves you.
And you've known for a very, very long time all the things
that meant. Not *could* mean -- this has nothing to do
He is, at base, a very simple man to your eyes. Where there
is love, with him, there is no limit, no boundary. Were you
to take one of the guns from the cabinet in the Cave, place
the barrel casually against the temples of -- just for an
example -- an eight year old boy's parents, and pull the
trigger, he would hunt you down and make sure the proper
authorities had everything they needed to put you away for
And you would never, ever stop being his (darling) lover,
even if he were never again in anything resembling reach.
And you know that *that* -- is merely the tip of the
You are afraid, and if he were dim enough -- dehydrated
enough, *impaired* enough -- not to know it before his lips
made it to the pulse points in your throat, he knows it now.
He's known from the beginning, of course.
The laughter comes out of you again -- it hasn't stopped,
and, as stress reactions go, you don't mind it, especially
because it all *is* very amusing --
He's kind enough to force it into something more like a
gasping scream with the scrape of his thumb against one
moderately tenderized nipple -- there's a time and a place
for everything --
No, it's not kind on his part. It's desperate. He feels you
slipping away from him through the laughter he can't share --
the making of love is a serious *business*, or perhaps the
secular equivalent of a sacrament, or --
You're not *altogether* sure -- if you were, you'd have the
comfort of ennui -- but the end result is the same.
You know him.
And he knows you have something to say, and shows it by
only dipping his tongue in your navel *once*.
"I love you," you say, and wait -- the way you always do.
He's worse than unresponsive -- the way he always is --
with a smile that laughter can't touch, that happiness runs
from. You need --
"I *love* you," and you make the accusation obvious, you
make it as clear as you can. You *love* him, and that was
never acceptable, never in the plan, not a part of the
Mission, not --
"Tim," he says, and you feel your heart rate speed with
something damnably similar to hope -- and fear.
You wait --
And he says nothing else, nothing at all.
The thing is, you've been waiting for him to put a *stop* to
this. Certainly a large portion of you has. You've offered the
truth of your unacceptable emotional state as a last-ditch
effort to make him *see*, make him --
(He was supposed to protect you)
It's bald, it's obvious, the elephant is no longer simply in the
room; it has defecated on the Persian and deafened you
both with its trumpeting.
(if only from himself.)
"Tim," he says, as if it's a statement of fact worth repeating,
as if the only reason his gaze is still meeting your own is
that you're beautiful to him, you're his love, you're his.
"I -- I'm terrified of you."
"You -- oh -- I'm not --"
Of course you were never yourself to begin with. Of course
it was simply an illusion fostered with your overload of
endorphins and your desperation. You've tried this any
number of times (five) before, and have yet to achieve a
You're afraid of him, and you're afraid of losing him, and he
doesn't just feel the same way, he *knows* he does, he
knows it's the same, and he knows you're only afraid of him
Because you're never going to lose him at all.
For any lord
It had been the twenty-seventh night (dawn) in a row that
you spent at his side.
With her in your arms.
It's not a matter of sex or sexuality, this, save for how it's
infinitely more convenient, efficient, and even -- often --
more pleasurable for the two of you to --
Prepositions are weighty things in a relationship with (to,
near?) Tim, you've found. There is a question within nearly
every one, or simply the potential for one. An example:
You make love to her.
You would prefer to make love with him.
You are incapable of even beginning to imagine him making
love to you without cringing from the images, from your
own mind, from the woman Tim would be if he ever wanted
to do such a thing, from the man you have no right to
desire Tim to be.
For what it's worth, you have accepted your utter inability to
even approach the question of pronouns.
You are not (yet) sure of the worth. It could be quite large,
given the --
'Circumstances' is both the correct word and a terrible
euphemism. It isn't that you're shamed by your attraction to
him, or even by the depth and breadth of that attraction. He
is -- Tim is a beautiful woman, perfect both in ways you'd
willingly share with others -- should they ever (get the
opportunity to) ask -- and in ways you are unwilling to share
very deeply with yourself. You have avoided -- shamelessly
and painfully -- every woman who has appeared to have
even a bare handful of the qualities you have found (instilled,
exploited, adored) in Tim.
You have long since learned that avoiding Tim is, at best,
You recognize the fatalism inherent in the above, the
sneaking, whining implication that Tim, in this form, is some
sort of reward, something -- some *thing* -- you deserve
simply for being a moderately efficacious partner. You
recognize the danger in both of these things -- the
intoxicating *relief* of surrender, the grinding pleasure of
succumbing to greed --
You watch the way he moves, the way her body seems
unsure within itself only when Tim is thoughtful. You know,
beyond a shadow of a doubt, the intoxicating relief she feels
in being overwhelmed by you, driven by your touch, by the
pointed obviousness of your desires. You can *help* Tim,
There is an elegant bit of mathematics in this: Each time you
make love, it takes just a little bit longer for Tim to
remember that he is in the incorrect body, that she is
something of an attractive abomination and does not belong.
Each time, you -- *you* -- lengthen the periods during
which she is only herself, perfect and sure, brave,
As graceful as the mocking curve of Tim's now --
somewhat -- fuller lower lip as he lets his head fall to the
side, as he curves one hard, strong hand against the side of
your throat, as he uses the other to tug your hand to his
waist and urges your fingers to tug, in their turn, at the
waistband of his sweats.
The fact that this -- pointed -- affection, this invitation,
comes after Robin has spent a long and fruitful session on
the gymnastics equipment tells you precisely what to
Tim's hips are still not so broad as to make Jason's shorts
well-fitting. The irony, of course, is that if Tim had chosen
one of the older pairs you still possess of Dick's --
He makes you so very *unsure*.
The smile is as hard as it was a moment before, unblunted
even by the cheap and entirely inappropriate lip gloss he
has begun to affect for training -- as a response to the
makeup you had purchased (and, in the case of the eye
shadow, blended yourself) for him.
However, he must be aware that you know what the shadow
of his eyelashes against his cheeks means, that the cut of
his eyes just beneath them is a little too fast, that, if you
were to touch his throat in precisely the same way she is
touching yours, you'd feel the speed and thrum of fear,
apprehension -- does he want you to know his fear so
You have dreamed of chasing her, of course. You have
dreamed his mockery.
All of the above suggests that your choices for this moment
are limited. While you have the capacity to reject him for
this -- though there is a part of you lost (as Tim must have
known there would be) to the image of Jason's breathless
laughter were he alive to *see* this -- you are both aware
of the consequences of that. The fact that Tim would,
eventually, let you catch him again --
What is left to you is a choice: You may guide Tim, his
arm twined with your own, to where you both know
Jason's most-worn and least-damaged uniforms are stored,
and then dress him completely -- yourself. You will make
him, and you will make love to someone else.
Alternately, you can smile, as you are doing now. And this
is -- it feels more correct, *right*, with every passing
second. Because Tim's body language has always contained
something of the coquette (you, of course, have yet to
discover the right moment for sharing that particular
observation), for all of his perfectly sincere honesty, his
honest sincerity. The fact that he is looking away from you
does not mean he would ever turn his head so far, cut his
eyes so thoroughly as to lose the ability to see (know) you
from his peripheral vision.
The sweat pants are new enough that even removing the
slightest amount of pressure -- like so -- causes the elastic
to snap back to Tim's strong, lean waist. The shorts are
hidden again, deniable. There is a part of you which is lost
enough -- which has *been* lost enough, since Tim first
showed you this new body, this lovely form, and demanded
you make it *fit* -- for it to seem almost fated -- another
reward -- that the sweat pants are also loose enough to
blouse, somewhat. An accentuation and exaggeration of
the curve of Tim's hips.
The question is rare for Tim: though the invitation is
disingenuous, the question itself is not. You have made
him unsure. The attractiveness of this is precisely as
powerful as the fear it engenders -- Tim is so very
cautious, so very disinclined toward situations which
strain his ability to predict, determine, and conclude. In
truth, with Tim there is only ever one choice available to
you: you must -- *must* -- be known.
And so you let your hand rest, once more, against her hip,
and let your thumb find a seam of the shorts through the
fleece of the sweat pants. You stroke, and memorize the
image of the moment's terrible strain in your lover's, your
beautiful boy's elegant throat --
"Have I been so *very* obvious, darling?"
As ever, the fulsome throatiness of *that* voice seems to
make something skip within Tim, to change gears with
clumsy rapidity -- the corner of her mouth twitches, he
blinks as though the light mascara both of you favor is
bothering his eyes, and the first sound from between his
lips is a gasp of -- abortive -- laughter.
"Oh -- Brucie, honey, you -- well, you've never been the
most *unpredictable* man, you know."
You laugh falsely, straining against the honesty which wants
to respond to the wince Tim gives you at the sound, a wince
so very similar to the ones you've received, over the years,
from -- well. "Janet, lotus blossom, you *know* you
shouldn't be listening to tales out of school from my exes --
romance can be so *complicated*."
The strain is as visible on Tim as it must be on you, and you
resist the urge to pull her closer at the sight of her catching
her tongue between her teeth, as she holds onto character
with both metaphorical *hands* --
"Janet...? Are you *quite* all right, brioche?"
"Bri -- I -- Brucie," he says, using the name as an anchor,
or, perhaps more accurately, a life preserver -- "I'm afraid
there are just too *many* -- stories -- to discount, entirely.
Now, admit it, honeybear, you were *comparing* me to
one of your -- hussies. Weren't you."
"Well, I..." You shift, fidget, twisting at the catch of the cape
as if it were a bowtie, or one of the more extravagantly
tasteless ascots even Alfred won't let you wear more than
three or four times a year.
"I knew it," she says -- only slightly too chill for Janet -- and
raises her chin in a precise mimicry of affront. "You're
*awful*, Bruciebear, just -- *awful*."
"Janet, pumpkin, sausage, gillyflower --"
"No, I won't *have* it --"
"Can I help it if I have an eye for beauty? Now, really,
darling -- surely you can't blame me for marveling at how
you out*shine* the others?"
You are amazed, always, again, anew -- you have yet to
determine how Tim has managed to *give* Janet an arch
of the eyebrow all her own. The shallowness, the fragile
veneer of 'sophistication,' the perfection --
The only time you have ever told Tim you loved him when
you were not safely sheathed, safely held within him, he
had turned around and walked out of the room. His hand
had shaken as he closed the door behind him.
You are more careful now.
"*Truly*, cabbage --"
"Could there be another like you? Your eyes are as cool
and forbidding as tundra…"
It's nothing, truly, that Janet's 'Brucie' would ever say, and
if you didn't know that already, the confusion written all
over Tim's body --
"Why, I've never met a woman so glib, so capable, so
*clever* in her brutality…"
And her confusion becomes something far closer to the
sort of apprehension which makes something inside you
shift, discordant and rough. Tim's hand doesn't shake, but
you must close the distance between, you must --
"My darling, dearest darling --"
"Bruce, you --"
"You are," you say in your own voice, in the only one Tim
could ever believe, "entirely unique." As ever --
As ever, this is not enough. You are not sure anything could
ever be. The fact that you are never more believable than
when you are yourself is not, in and of itself, enough to
*make* him believe -- certainly, this is the explanation a
very large part of Tim would like for *you* to believe.
It's so much more palatable -- for both of you -- than the
fact that knowledge comes with a price. In this case, the
cost is the chill in her hands when you take them in your
own, the moment's stiffness before he comes when you
pull, the --
The cost is counted in the words you can't say, the love you
can't confirm -- even after breathing her name against her
soft, vicious mouth. You haven't earned the right to say it,
not yet. You will pay, soon now, with your hunger, your
force, and the power -- beastly -- you have to drive him
away from --
From the rationality he lacks the ability to simply dismiss,
as you have done.
These are the moments when you remember his age, and
the relativity of experience.
These are the moments when you come closest to seeing
yourself as he must see you, and so you understand
perfectly how terrible it must be for him to love you.
"God, *Bruce* --"
As she does.