title: Dating Batman
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Bruce/Dick, Tim, Barbara, Alfred, Lucius Fox
rating: Mature
warnings: sex, family, mentions of torture
summary: Falling in love isn't easy, but it is rewarding. Sequel to "Inspired By."
notes: sequel to Inspired By... because it was explained to me that there needed to be a sequel. i didn't think so, but apparently, i was wrong. go fig. so this is animated series continuity.

Their first date, and it was going to be one to remember.

Dick swung the bat as hard as he could, enjoying the satisfying feeling that can only come when the ball hits the bat dead on center, throwing the ball far and straight.

He had a few moments before the machine was going to spit out the next ball, so he watched Bruce hit in the cage next to him. Damn! He shouldn't be surprised; after all, he'd never seen Bruce hit a baseball before, but still, for someone who was so graceful and powerful, really, he hit like a girl. Which Dick considered telling him, but decided against it on the grounds that it was unromantic.

"So, is this where you bring all your young men for the first date?" Dick lined up for the next pitch.

Bruce spared him a glance. "Naturally. I like to see how they handle the bat before things get too serious."

And Bruce was rewarded by seeing Dick spin himself completely around hitting air.

Dick glared at Bruce. "You doubt my abilities to handle the bat? And do you usually start your dates at 3 am?"

"I love the night life." Bruce tried to speak casually as he nicked the ball, hitting foul. Damn! he thought, should've come to practice before tonight!

Dick nailed another one, the perfect arc reaching up over the home run net. He was at a loss as to what to say. "So, how did you manage to arrange this, anyway?"

"I own the place."

"Huh?" Dick let the next ball sail past him, turning to see Bruce. "Why would you own a batting cage?"

Bruce shrugged, feeling nervous and exposed. "Well, it was about... um, nearly ten years ago. There were plans for a big strip mall to come in here, and you and your friends were grousing about how this was the only real batting cage in Gotham, and where would you go after that? So, I bought the cages, and the diner next door."

Dick stood stunned, completely unaware of the ball whizzing by him. "You bought these cages... just because of a conversation between me and those knuckleheads from school?" He couldn't possibly express his shock with words, or even expressions. He couldn't even feel all of his shock. Why would Bruce do such a thing?

Bruce just shrugged. "It didn't really matter. It wasn't that much money, and it didn't matter to me if it made more money. Hell, a few upkeeping type improvements and a coupon-advertising campaign, and this place became quite successful. And, well, I never knew how..." Bruce lowered the bat and gave up the pretense of hitting. "When you were a kid, I knew how to show you how much I cared. But when you were in high school, I didn't know how to show you. So, I made a bunch of really broad stupid gestures you never noticed because you didn't care about things. Well, anyway," he hefted the bat up again, and lined up, "when you were in college, things seemed to sort out for a while anyway. For a while, we were friends again."

Dick watched him hit for a moment, processing, and then turned back to his own pitch. After thinking of things to say, and rejecting each in turn, he finally said, "Maybe now isn't the best time to rehash the past. But this is great. Easily the most interesting first date I've ever had."

"Well, at least I have that."

The machines ran out of balls, and Dick swung his arms around to loosen up. He caught Bruce's hooded glance, and it suddenly occurred to him that so far, their conversation may not have gone as well as one may have hoped. But damn! This was tough!

"Ah, don't suppose the concession stand is still open?"

"No, but I brought a 'picnic' of sorts."

And without another word, Bruce left his cage and pulled out the cooler, and started to lay out the food: hot dogs, kept warm in a special thermal lunch bag, Cole slaw, Zesti colas, and watermelon. Dick chuckled as he sat down. "Alfred didn't have anything to do with this, I can tell."

Bruce's eyes flicked to Dick shortly, and replied, "No, I set it up myself. I figured you would like..." Bruce seemed to flounder.

Dick impulsively reached out and caressed Bruce's hands gently. "It looks great. This is great, Bruce. I honestly haven't had time for this kind of fun in a long, long time. Thanks for bringing me here."

It was amazing to watch Bruce puff up from that simple comment. Ever since that night when Ivy's toxin had released the Bat's inhibitions with unexpected results, Bruce had been walking on eggshells around Dick. It was good to see a glimmer of confidence returning.

They started to eat, both ravenous from the batting and the night's patrol. Bruce was telling himself to enjoy it, but it was hard. It just didn't seem real. And then the words just... popped out.

"Why did you agree to go out with me?"

Dick paused mid-bite to consider. He put the hot dog down and responded slowly and carefully. "Well, it took some getting used to, knowing you were interested in me. At first, well, I was... pissed. Really pissed. But..."

Bruce prodded him to continue by maintaining his intense look of interest.

Dick took a deep breath. "Look. We should get this out in the open from the start. When you pinned me against the wall that night and started kissing me, I was shocked. Horrified. Angry. But that was after, when I thought about what had happened and why it had happened. At the time, all I could think was that you were the best damn kisser and why the hell had I never noticed how really built you were?" Dick's nervous laughter almost made Bruce crack in his intensity. "There were a lot of things that I needed to process, but trust me, things would have processed very differently if I hadn't been really turned on by that kiss. And the way you held me. And... just being so close..." Dick was getting flushed.

"So, um, that means...?"

"It means that after I thought about it some, I realized I wasn't going to get anywhere if all I was thinking about was what you would look like with your head thrown back right before you came."

Bruce flushed a deep red, and looked away. Dick chuckled at the idea that Bruce could be so easily embarrassed. If that was the case, he was going to have a great deal of fun....

"So, this is about lust?" Bruce's voice wasn't harsh, exactly, in fact, it wasn't Bruce's voice at all. The Bat was talking. Dick tried to control the shiver of delight that ran up and down his spine at the thought.

"No. If it were simply lust, it would still be lust for the man I had thought of as a father. No, like I said, I was thinking. It was a couple of weeks before I could even talk to you again, if you remember? And during that time, I was thinking of leaving Gotham , of confronting you, of never speaking to you again, of lots of things. Then we spoke, and it was horrible, and then I thought some more, and we spoke again, and it was still horrible, and I realized that I still wanted to speak to you. So, then I started thinking again."

Dick paused, pulling off chunks of watermelon, thinking. Bruce waited for a moment, then couldn't wait. "And, um, what did you come up with?"

Dick took a deep breath, centering himself as so many mentors had taught him. "I think... I think that you and I don't really know each other all that well. I think that in the past... in the past you and I needed something from one another, well, different somethings. Sorry, I'm not really good with words, I'm more of an action guy."

Bruce smiled, and looked down, which, for some reason, warmed Dick, allowing him to continue.

"Look. I needed you to be father and mentor, so I cast you in that role, and viewed everything you did through that role. You needed me..." and Dick broke off, nearly laughing. "Actually, I don't know what you needed me for. But, well, and I don't mean this in a hurtful way, you were never a father to me. Alfred was the one I ran to when I had a problem, or a personal crisis, or a sudden urge to stick my tongue in some guy's..." And fortunately, Dick broke off before both he and Bruce burst into flames from the heat in their faces.

"I saw you through colored glasses, and when you kissed me, it was as if you ripped those glasses off and made me see you. And I saw someone I didn't know. Someone I wanted to get to know, not only because he was amazingly gorgeous with a talented tongue and a really fab body, but because he is simply the best person I've ever known."

Bruce was dumbfounded. Dick's tone of voice was exactly the same as if he were speaking about the weather, and yet the things he was saying... In fact, he was so stunned he nearly missed the next thing Dick said.

"Just out of curiosity, and not that it matters in the least, but when did you first realize that you... um, for me?"

Bruce swallowed the mouthful of hot dog he had as if it was lead. He took a second to gather enough sense and reason to respond. "Last... Last Christmas. You came over in those," and now Bruce was just plain sick of blushing. He couldn't remember blushing this much in the past. "leather pants, and that really, uh, tight sweater. And, uh, we talked in the cave. And, well, I was attracted to you. Really, really, really attracted. It just completely changed the way I saw you."

Dick and Bruce just watched each other for a moment, and then went back to eating, quiet for a moment. Then, with his usual flair for humor at unlikely moments, Dick said, "Those leather pants have served me well over the years...."

Bruce looked up startled, then laughed. Then, they were both laughing, for long past the time that the joke was still funny, simply because they found themselves enjoying the sound of each other's laughter.

Slowly, conversation began again. They talked about their night's work, which lead to a discussion of the place of vigilantism in society. Bruce was as surprised by Dick's vehemence in defending the vigilante as the watchguard of justice in an imperfect system as Dick was by Bruce's assertion that the vigilante was as destructive to the course of justice as the criminal, but that he continued simply because people like Two-Face and the Joker required more effort than the police could provide. This lead to a philosophical discussion on the nature of justice, which somehow evolved into a debate over the proposed tax cut in the Senate.

Dick felt like he had to pinch himself the whole time - he was debating politics with Bruce. No, better, he was debating politics with Batman. And he was listening to him, hearing out his points and then countering them, conceding on issues and challenging others... It was heady on the one hand because for the first time, he felt like his mentor was viewing him as an equal, but on the other hand, it was even more heady because it was like he had just met someone really fascinating and intelligent and desirable, and all of this fabulous man's attentions were focused on him, Dick Grayson, lowly circus brat. Dick felt like he was floating a bit above ground.

The first vestiges of dawn began to creep onto the borders of the horizon, making both men suddenly and embarrassingly aware of the amount of time that had passed. They got up, cleaned up, packed up, and closed up the cages. After stowing the cooler in Bruce's trunk, there really wasn't much left to do.

Inspired by the feeling that a new day was about to dawn, Dick leaned up quickly, kissing Bruce while letting his hand graze his chin. Bouncing back on his feet, he quickly said, "Really, this was the best first date I've ever had. Thanks so much. What are you doing tomorrow night?"

Bruce felt like he'd just been injected with the most wonderful drug. In a haze, he replied, "I've... got no plans."

"Dinner? Before patrolling this time?"

"Sounds great."

Dick just smiled at him, not at all seeing how goofy they looked, just standing there and smiling. Then, Dick got on his bike and Bruce got in his car and they left.

It was a good thing there was very little traffic at that hour, given how much attention they both had for the road.

The restaurant they went to on their second date was not what either would have chosen. Bruce had asked Alfred to make reservations, not trusting so important a rendezvous to his secretary. It was a classy place, eclectic in design as is fashionable, and out of the way enough for neither of them to feel too self-conscious about the other diners. However, most of the clientele tended to be youngish artistic families, a testament to niche marketing if there were family-style restaurants for the tragically hip with children. There was even a young lesbian couple with their toddler, so it wasn't as if Alfred had chosen a place that was too stuffy for a second date between two men.

But, there were an awful lot of children around...

The fact that they were both nervous was what finally settled each of them down. They started conversing, random stupid things attempting to fill the void. It took a minute or two to settle into something that resembled a comfortable rhythm. Dick was blown away by it. Talking to Bruce had never been like this. It had often been awkward and hard, but never like this. It was almost as if Bruce was talking to a peer instead of him. The realization that he was Bruce's peer brought on another long pause, making Dick feel like a stupid teenager instead of a self-assured man. It had honestly never occurred to him that even the mundane things like this would change.

The waiter came by, interrupting the awkward silence. He was a flouncey little pixie with flaming red hair and a roving eyes that visibly widened when he caught sight of Dick, something he took his time at doing. Bruce ordered a wine for them, and an appetizer, even though the waiter never turned his head to look at him.

Dick was practically choking with laughter and Bruce nearly had steam coming out of his ears, as he mumbled about damn pansy waiters and we're never coming here again...

Bruce felt a little better when Dick rubbed his foot against Bruce's calf, in soothing circles. Swallowing down his ire with a mouthful of water, Bruce composed himself enough to speak. "I guess I can't blame the guy. You do look awfully hot in that sweater." Bruce's eyes traveled down the v of Dick's sweater, following the lines of the collar bone and the indentations of Dick's well-defined pecs.

Dick just blushed. "You... ah, well, nothing better than a sharp-dressed man."

Now Bruce had blushed. He'd never had a dinner date with a man before, so he fell back onto his old standard for a first date with a woman: a well-tailored grey Armani with the blue silk tie and black silk shirt. Now, though, he felt over-dressed and overly formal. "I look like I just stepped out of the office. I did change..."

"Bruce, don't be silly. I recognize the first date suit."

Now Bruce really was a bright crimson. "Ah, Dick, I'm sorry, I didn't' mean to..."

Dick just reached out and lightly held Bruce's hand. "Bruce, don't apologize. Honestly. There's no reason to. It just means that this is just a date to you, that you don't feel weird about being with a man or being with me. That's good."

Before Bruce could respond, the waiter came back, swaying his hips lightly, and nearly tipping Bruce's wine glass as he tried to put it in front of Bruce's plate without looking away from Dick. He put the appetizers right in front of Dick. When they ordered, he asked Dick about twelve hundred questions about how he wanted his meal prepared, and what sort of things he liked. He forgot to ask Bruce how he wanted his steak done until Dick called him back.

Bruce was scowling, and this was not how Dick wanted their date to be going. So, he improvised.

"So, what do you think is the story behind those two?" surreptitiously nodding towards a table with a young, gawky-looking boy and an older, graying woman with a very dramatic velvet cape covering her shoulders.

Bruce's mouth twitched, and they began their game of inventing stories about their fellow patrons, one-upping each other by pointing out minute 'clues' that clearly showed this person was a closet flaming-sword-swallower/arsonist, or that that person had a fish-fetish.

They didn't even notice their waiter's incompetent attempts to grab Dick's attention when he brought their salads.

Bruce pointed out a youngish-looking couple of boys that were at a large table with two pairs of adults. "Check that out. So, do you think the future in-laws are getting along?"

The look of pure longing on Dick's face caught Bruce's next sarcastic comment in his throat.


Dick just shook his head, a wry look twisting his lips. "Nothing. It's just... sweet, isn't it?"

Bruce gave a dubious look to the two young men, who were both sinking deeper into their chairs.

"I'm sorry... I shouldn't be... they just remind me of me and Garth. I know, it's stupid, they don't look anything like us, and this really isn't the time or place..."

Bruce nodded, thoughtfully. "You loved him, right?"

Dick smiled. "Well, yeah. But we don't have to talk about that..."

"No, no. I mean. We should be able to talk about these things... right?"

"I wouldn't really know. I guess... maybe. It's still a little weird, though, don'tcha think?"

Bruce fidgeted a little bit, and was actually glad to see the waiter for the first time, as he deposited their dinners.

For a spell, their conversation revolved around food, and eating. There were a few awkward spells, and Bruce couldn't help stealing a few glances at the young men who were clearly having the worst night of their young lives. He could sort of see the resemblance, now that he was looking, mostly because one had short, curly hair and the other had slightly shaggy, straighter hair, and they both had very similar body types.

After their dinner plates had been cleared, and they were waiting for their coffee, Bruce felt he had to say something.

"Tell me about Garth."

Dick jerked his head up, surprised. "Really?"


"But why?"

"Because... because I've never really been in love, not really, not with anyone but... and, and I guess I just wanted to know.. what it was like, why him..."

"Garth is... sexy, soulful, noble. I fell for him pretty hard. We clicked from pretty much the first moment. Are you sure you want to hear this?"

"And what happened? Why'd you break up?"

"Because... well, you've heard the phrase, 'from two different worlds?' That was actually literally true. Garth could stay on the surface for a long while thanks to his magic, but he had obligations, a life under the ocean. And I couldn't, of course... It was, really, only a matter of time."

Bruce put his hand over Dick's. "I'm sorry."

Dick watched Bruce carefully. "You really are, aren't you?"

"Of course. I don't want you to be hurt."

Dick smiled, inwardly.

"Have you... been in love, um, often?"


"More than... more than once."

Dick sighed, and leaned back. "I... I loved Barb back in college, but I only loved the half of her that I knew, and I only loved her because she provided sanctuary for me. I loved..." blushing deeply, now. "I loved some people while I was gone. They were... well, instructors of mine, of sorts."

"A couple of teachers of yours?"

"Um, no. A couple of prostitutes I hired, a married couple."

Bruce just stared.

"They were, uh, really high-end. Um. Well, anyway. They, they weren't like, common street people or anything."

Bruce's jaw dropped.

"Zera and Zu. I was with them for three weeks. Cost me half my savings.... fortunately, Zera showed me all about internet investing, so since then, I've managed to make most of it back..."

Bruce tried to collect himself enough to speak. "And... and, you fell in love with these, these whores?"

"NOT whores." And Bruce could tell, he was now treading on dangerous ground. Which meant that Dick really had loved these people... "They were the best teachers I ever had at teaching me to be myself. And I loved Zu passionately. He was, simply, beauty. I wouldn't be here, tonight, if it hadn't been for what I learned with them. So, show a little respect."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... It was just a... shock, that's all."

Dick softened, turning to look away. The young boys and their parents were getting up, and they each hung back just a little to let their parents get ahead, automatically reaching for each other's hands. Dick turned back to Bruce, with a small sigh caught in his throat.

"You've never been in love before? Really?"

"No." And Bruce didn't sound sad.

"But... What about Selina?"

"She and I... push each other's buttons, but..."


"She's damn sexy, but probably evil." With just a little shrug.


Bruce started. "That... no. That wasn't love." And he shuddered.

Dick nodded, understanding better than he wanted to.

"I'm afraid... I've never been, and this, with us... I'm afraid of messing this up. I'm afraid that I don't know how not to mess this up."

Dick reacted more to the tone of Bruce's voice than his words, exactly. He took Bruce's hands in his and squeezed, slightly. The waiter turned away from delivering their bill, feeling affronted.

"We just need to be honest with each other. Which, I know, won't be too easy, in and of itself. And, well, maybe we should be upfront with each other, as well."

"It seems like, well, that this is all happening very fast."

Dick nodded, thoughtful. "Fast... can certainly be a problem. If we want things to last, which, I'm assuming, we do?" Dick got his answer in the set of Bruce's jaw. "So, maybe we should set certain... boundaries... to be sure that we don't go too fast. Like, maybe, we should hold off on certain things.. you know, until we've settled certain other things?"

"Right. Good. Like, what?"

"Well, I mean," and Dick was blushing much harder at the thought of discussing this than his experience would have suggested he was able to, "you know, um, sex. Maybe we should really, uh, hold off, until we've both gotten to know each other, and these emotional things are, well, settled...."

Bruce nodded, a little dazed. His brain was having trouble processing this turn of the conversation. It was one thing to fantasize about Dick beneath him, sweaty and wanting. It was a completely different thing to actually be talking about sex with Dick. "Right, right, that's a good idea, we could do that..."

"And no spending the night at each other's place, until we are ready."

"Sure, sure..."

"And we should keep our side-dating to a minimum, for a while, at least."


Dick giggled. "Just making sure that you were still with me!"

"Funny," in that perfect Bat-voice that said it wasn't at all funny.

"Seriously, though, no outside dating."

"Of course not!"

"Not even for next month's big charity event, no matter how much the gossip mongers wag their tongues."

"Oh." Bruce hadn't thought about that.

"I mean it Bruce."

"No, no, of course not. Just hadn't thought of that... of being out...."

Dick shifted nervously, pulling his hands back to himself. "Well, let's take one thing at a time. Let's not worry about that right now."

"That's not really fair to you, though."

"Actually, I'd really rather not deal with the press right now. And we would have to, believe me. That's one thing I didn't miss when I was gone. Just because I grew up in the spotlight doesn't mean I want the press meddling in my personal life."

Bruce's wheels were spinning out of control. "Is that... is that going to be a problem?"

Dick's eyes darted around the emptying restaurant. "Not now, it isn't. And we'll cross that bridge at the proper time." His eyes coming back to his date's. "Together."

Bruce just smiled, and when the waiter came with the bill, he actually looked at Bruce and smiled wanly. Feeling sorry for the boy, despite his under-his-breath comment about old men grabbing up all the good ones, he left a hefty tip.

In the doorway of the restaurant, they kissed. Bruce made a mental note to bring Dick back here sometime for an anniversary or something.

Bruce was mentally berating himself, as he stood outside Dick's apartment before their third date. Dick had promised him a great, home-made dinner, and now Bruce was standing outside the door of Dick's apartment, trying to shake the nervousness that had been building in the four days since their last date.

He was just about to raise his hand to knock, when the door swung open. All the oxygen was swept out of his lungs as his eyes raked down the beautiful form before him, the silk shirt half-open and clinging, the leather that hugged and begged to be touched, the bare feet with curling toes, grasping the carpet...

"You haven't changed your mind, have you? I've got video surveillance, so I could see you..."

Bruce swallowed hard, trying to remember how to speak. "No... uh, just nerves. Nice pants."

Dick smirked, his confidence back. "Well, I remembered how much you said you liked them. Hungry?" And so Dick turned his back to Bruce, a suggestive glint in his eyes and a slight swing of his hips that brought Bruce's eyes to the firm, perfect ass that was sheathed in leather and emphasized by a thin layer of silk...

Bruce nearly stumbled into the apartment.

The dinner was already laid out, roasted portabello mushrooms over feta cheese crumbled in fettuccine. One of Alfred's signature dishes, with a side of warm, crusty bread and a well-picked vintage airing out next to the plates.

Bruce felt a hunger fill him like never before, and it had nothing to do with the food or wine.

The lights were low and there were candles, lightly scented, and music Bruce had never heard before drifting through the background. Dick used every bite of food and sip of wine to draw attention to the sensual curve of his lips and throat, seemingly unconsciously. Bruce choked down his food and kept up his end of the conversation, all too aware of his own body.

Later, they ate cherry cordials on the couch while Dick went through his cd collection with Bruce. They laughed and teased each other, playfully touching and rubbing against each other at every opportunity. Bruce had never had a date like this before. His experience was mostly limited to the wine-and-dine and impress with wealth type affairs. This sensual overture was intoxicating.

Bruce kissed Dick first. He kissed the ear that was in front of his mouth when Dick leaned over to drop the cd's on the coffee table. Dick shifted and put his hand on Bruce's waist, and suddenly they kissing.

Light kisses on the cheeks and temples, lingering kisses on the mouth, their lips intertangling to give the promise of taste, brushing kisses against throats and wrists.

Eventually, they were facing each other on the couch, their hands roaming and brushing against each other, their mouths becoming more seriously attached at each pass. Their breath was hot and shallow, their blood pumping with vigor. And everything else was in the background.

Including the batsignal; at least, it was in the background until Dick's monitoring system picked it up and began beeping.

Two pairs of sapphire and onyx eyes met, holding a gaze that was far deeper than either had been prepared for, dawning realization spreading gently between them.

Reluctantly, they got up.




"You... will you..."

"I... yeah. You have to go back to...."

"Barb and Tim will bring the car. I have the suit in the trunk."

"Always be prepared."

"And you..."

There was a question there, one they both recognized without being able to vocalize. Dick leaned over and kissed Bruce, his tongue joining in, so that they could really taste and feel.

"I'll... meet you out there, at police HQ."

Bruce let his hand reach up and gently stroke Dick's cheek.

Dating, he decided, was fun.

"I don't see how you could say you hated that movie!"

"I don't see how you could say you liked it! It was horrible, vapid, portraying amoral bigots as ideals of society..."

"Oh, please! It was beautiful satire on the ideals of a society that value wealth as an objective. I can't believe you couldn't appreciate that."

Dick and Bruce had wandered into the kitchen with empty bowls that had held popcorn. Alfred was just cleaning up, and nearly smiled at the pair as they put their bowls in the sink. He was off to pick Tim up from school, nodding at them as he left. They each acknowledged him in their own way.

"I can't believe I took the day off of work to see that. It was just... vicious."

Dick shook his head, enjoying the debate almost as much he had enjoyed the movie. "Of course it was! But think of all the layers involved. The intricacies of a completely disturbed psyche mirrored in a wasted society as it is ripped apart, hiding in plain sight before the indifferent eyes of an unseeing world, no justice to provide context for behavior, the behavior is lost in the fabric of excess." Bruce looked dubious. "Plus, it had Christian Bale running around naked for a good portion of the movie."

Bruce wrinkled his nose, which was just damn cute.

"You didn't like Christian Bale?"

"I guess he was ok." But there was a slightly disturbed look on his face.

"You didn't think he was hot?"

Bruce just flushed, and looked away.


"He was all right, I guess. I didn't really think of him as..."

"It's too bad. I was thinking, if they ever made a movie based on your life, I mean, if they knew about the real you, he would be perfect to play you."

Bruce turned on him, surprised.

"Think about it. He could easily play the ditzy Bruce Wayne." Making a rolling motion with his eyes. "I mean, that's basically the role he played in this movie, only with less killing."

Bruce snorted, wryly.

"And he definitely has the body to play Batman." Dick shivered, remember the shower scene, with the water rolling down the muscled back... he wanted to see Bruce like that.

Thinking better of his words when he saw the nearly crestfallen look on Bruce's face, he got a devilish look on his face, and with a snaking motion, reached around to grab a handful of Bruce's ass, causing Bruce to tense, his eyes widening. In a deep, sultry voice. "Not that anyone else in the world has this kind of fabulous body."

Bruce wasn't sure what to do. A playful grab he knew what to do with. But Dick's hand hadn't moved. Suddenly, he bent forward and grabbed a kiss from Dick, one that was nearly biting. They stayed close, breathing from the same air, touching with grazing motions. They kissed again, and this time, they could really taste each other.

It was like a spell. They broke off to keep air circulating through their lungs, but they were still together.

"I still can't understand why you hated that movie." Dick was whispering with the same husky tone he would use in the bedroom, Bruce imagined.

"I don't like violence." Bruce tried to whisper back, his voice strained.

"Oh. Sorry." And Dick really did sound sorry.

"Don't be. I guess Christian Bale was kind of..."

"But you don't really notice men."

Bruce smiled, glad to finally be the one to be devilish. Grabbing a cheek of Dick's ass, he whispered, "Only really hot ones."

They kissed again, and then Dick put his arms around Bruce's neck, cuddling close.

"You have impeccable taste. But don't worry, you'll like the next movie."

"You can't guarantee that. I have weird taste in movies."

"It's a no-brainer. Pure popcorn fun."

Bruce raised an eyebrow. "Movies aren't really my thing..."

Dick just smiled, grabbed the new bowl of popcorn Alfred has considerately made, and began humming, something that sounded vaguely like "Yellow Submarine."

Heartened, Bruce grabbed two Zestis and followed.

Bruce had his back flush against the couch, Dick's whole body over him, and it was all so much to take in, he barely knew where to touch or where to feel or how to move. He kept his mouth moving, though, and could barely manage not to just explode from the sensation of Dick's tongue and his getting acquainted.

Until the little buzzer went off, indicating that the Batsignal was lit.

Dick pulled up, dazed, and Bruce leaned back into the couch, defeated. "I think James Gordon has some wickedly awful timing. He must be stopped. Doesn't he know there is a proper time and place for these things?"

Dick snorted. "I used to tell you that when he interrupted dessert, and you used to lecture me."

Dick was untangling himself, offering a hand to Bruce.

Bruce sighed. "Just... give me a minute here, ok?"

Dick smiled. "Just imagine the Penguin in drag."


"Works, though, don't it?"

"Baseball is so boring."

Dick was spread out on the couch, reading "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," and Bruce was in the chair reading the Wall Street Journal. Or, pretending to while he mulled over the latest string of grocery store armed robberies.

Tim was on the floor, ready to spring.

Dick stuck his nose over the book. "C'mon, Timmy, it's the American pastime."

"Playstation is the American pastime. At least in most houses..." while glaring at Bruce, who started ruffling the pages to appear engrossed.

Dick sighed, and put the book down. Saturday morning, and he had come over early to work out with Tim. After four hours in the gym, showing the kid some gymnastics that could easily be translated out on the street, he was bushed and Tim was just getting geared up. He had hoped the baseball game would provide enough of a distraction, but alas!

"Well, you don't have to watch the game...."

"Can we go swimming?"

"No, we'll be having dinner..."

"Can we go to the arcade?"

"Not right now, it's getting..."

"Can we go the movies?"


"How about we go out for ice cream?"

"I'm sure we have ice cream here..."

At this point, Dick was openly glaring at Bruce, who was huddled down in the chair actively ignoring everyone else in the room.

"Can I get a tattoo?"



"But Dick has one!" Tim turned to appeal to his suddenly attentive adoptive father.

Bruce just stared back blankly and said, "No."

Getting huffy, Tim folded his arms over his chest and squared his shoulders. "I don't need your permission, I can get one on my own..."

"Tim." Dick decided to interject. "There's a reason there are laws against getting tattoos too young. What were you thinking of getting a tattoo of, anyway?"

Tim stuck his head out, trying not to be too obvious about his thinking. "Um, maybe a Superman 's' on my arm! Yeah, that'd be so cool!"

"And then every thug in Gotham would know that Robin had a Superman 's' on his arm."

"So, you saying I have to make all my decisions based on how it impacts Robin?" Tim was getting better and better at debating Dick. He and Bruce still clashed too much to really debate, but he was learning how to with Dick. Bruce watched their interaction with interest and pleasure. He had been really worried about how his 'relationship' with Dick was going to affect Tim. But so far, the only real impact was that Dick was around more to be a good influence on the boy.

"Of course not. But it's a concern. Hell, it'd be a concern no matter what. You know that the police keep records on perps with tat's. Help's them to id people."

"So, I should think twice about getting a visible tattoo because it will help the police catch me?" Tim was smiling crookedly at Dick, deeply amused by the idea that he should be trying to thwart police efforts against him.

"Sure. Why not?" Dick was amused himself, but wasn't going to let Tim see it. "Whatever you get, it will be there for the rest of your life. Unless you want to have a painful laser operation to remove it."

"But I won't want to."

"You never know. When I was your age, I worshipped Superman, too, but I wouldn't want to have a Superman tattoo now." His voice had that I'm-trying-to-be-reasonable glint to it.

"But you have a tattoo. How did you know you'd want that for the rest of your life?" Tim's voice had that I'm-trying-to-poke-holes-in-your-reasoning-so-work-with-me-here glint.

"Because it was a reminder of someone I loved, and would never want to forget." The soft, gently quiet whisper in his voice won the point for him.

Tim slumped a little bit, and then asked. "Well, when will I be old enough to get a tattoo?"

"When you are old enough to pay for it yourself without a fake id or by lying to the artist."


There was a peace that settled over the room, and Dick was starting to think that he could get back to his book. He noticed Bruce watching him, surreptitiously from behind the paper, but enjoyed the teasing so he started to settle back to the couch again.

"Can we go to the store to get comics?"

Dick sighed, seeing Bruce huddle behind the paper again. "Why don't you go downstairs and work on my bike?"

Tim practically flew up. "You coming down?"

"You can get started on your own, after all we talked about it last week. Just start by getting out the tools and the new filter. You can even start draining the oil, like I showed you. I'll be down in a bit."

"Oh, boy!" And Tim dashed out of the room, at top speed.

"Was that wise?" Bruce murmured.

"Sure. He can't hurt anything, and now he's out of our hair."

Dick leaned back, and began reading again, enjoying Bruce's little rustles and sighs and clearings of throats.

Bruce was becoming more and more impatient. He knew Dick was noticing him. He knew Dick knew why he was trying to get his attention. He was trying to figure out where the tattoo was, and why Tim knew about it and he didn't. It wasn't fair.

Finally, he put the paper down and cleared his throat in a definitive way. Dick gracefully shifted in the couch without moving his arms, his torso snaking about in a tantalizing way.




"You have a tattoo?"

"Hm. Yeah."

"Can I see it?"

"You want to see my tattoo?"


"Let me finish this chapter."

Bruce fumed quietly.

Dick finally put the book down, and stretched. Looking over at Bruce, he scratched his back, yawning. "What were we going to do, now?"

Bruce just stared at him with his most menacing Bat-glare.

Smirking, Dick sauntered up, loosening his limbs as he did. He put one knee on one arm of Bruce's chair, and the other went down on the other arm, slowly. With his huskiest voice, he asked, "Are you sure?"

Bruce swallowed slowly, letting his eyes trail over the lean, tight body in front of him. He nodded, sure.

"'Kay..." And Dick lifted his shirt up, hooking the bottom of it in the collar. Picking up Bruce's hands, he placed them on the waistband of his nylon shorts. "Sure?"

Bruce's fingers trembled.

Smiling, Dick pushed Bruce's hands down, having made sure the thumbs were hooked under all the cloth, brushing flesh. Bruce's spine spasmed, as the stomach, upper chest, and now groin were revealed to him.

"Like it?"

Dick's voice was a taunt, but Bruce didn't care. He was eye to eye with Dick's limply hardening dick, an almost irresistible sight.

But somehow, he managed to tear his eyes away, thankfully not seeing any tattoo on Dick's shaft.

"It's... perfect." Bruce traced the graceful bird on Dick's hip, following the bold swaths of blue. "Is this where the name Nightwing came from? Or do I have that backwards?"

Dick cocked his head to the side. "I don't know. Zu did this for me. As a going away present." At Bruce's shocked stare, he added, "He was an artist. He didn't ask me what I wanted, he just... knew."

Dick's tone brought home the sacred nature of this gift. "You were lucky... to have known him, I guess."

Dick was unbearably pleased that Bruce was finally seeming to understand. "I was."

"Hey Dick, when are you coming down...."

With the sudden rush of air and noise, Bruce quickly wrapped his arms around Dick, bringing his body close to the safety of his own. Dick had to choke out his words through giggles. "Just give me ten minutes, Tim. I got distracted."

Tim turned tail, muttering something that Dick's laughter was drowning out. Bruce was in a panic.

"Thank God I grabbed you when I did! God, what he might have seen!"

"Give the kid some credit, Bruce. I think he saw. Besides, he already knew about the tattoo."

"Yeah, how did that happen? It's not exactly in a visible place." Bruce was sounding fierce and accusatory, putting Dick on edge and in his element.

"Relax, tiger. He caught a glimpse when I was coming out of the cave's showers the other night. I had a towel on. And he grew up on the street, he's seen plenty of tattoos in his time."

Bruce sighed, out of excuses to be nervous, but still holding Dick.

Dick let the short dark hair guide his fingers around Bruce's temple. "Is this going to be a problem? Because if we are together, Tim's going to see us together, you know."

"I know." Deep sigh. "I guess it's just weird... my instinct is to protect him from this, that it would be wrong for him to see us like this. But, I wouldn't feel that way if you were a woman, so I know that it mustn't really be wrong, just I feel like it is."

"First off, never use the phrase, 'if you were a woman' again," which earned a real Bat-smile, "and secondly, there's nothing wrong with this. Yes, that takes some getting used to, but it's true. And you know? It'll be easier for Tim than for you, or even me, for that matter. He has fewer years of indoctrination to overcome."

Bruce nodded, slowly, resting his head on Dick's shoulder. Dick rubbed Bruce's neck, and ran his thumb over the line of Bruce's ear. "Tim's going to be fine with us, as long as we are honest with him. He'll be curious, but it's not going to scar him or make him gay or anything. Just like seeing you with a woman wouldn't scar him or make him straight."

Bruce ran his hands up and down Dick's back, regretting that the shorts had been pulled up again. He was really looking forward to getting his hands on the flesh of Dick's ass. "I know. It's all so... new, I guess. Relationships, and fatherhood, and all that. Takes some getting used to."

Dick pulled Bruce's face up and kissed him softly. "For what it's worth, I think you are doing just fine on all fronts."

Bruce just smiled at him, and let him go so that he could help Tim with the bike.

They had been kissing on the couch for what felt like hours. It was nearly dawn, and they had collapsed on Dick's couch after a tough night of vigilantism which saw them putting away drug smugglers and two major players in Gotham's organized crime. They had been exhausted, and just fell on the couch together, Bruce now keeping a spare suit in Dick's locker. They had eaten, a little, even though Bruce had groused about the cold pizza and cereal that was all that Dick had to offer. They had talked for a couple of hours, just lying together, dozing in between sessions of conversation.

About an hour before dawn, they had both been startled by the sound of Dick's alarm going off. Laughing, Bruce teased Dick about where he had to be. Dick admitted, blushing, that yesterday he had slept past the alarm that was supposed to get him up for a pancake breakfast at the downtown teen shelter. He was going to flip 'cakes, but instead he ended up washing dishes after everyone was done. And there weren't even any pancakes left!

Somehow, that had lead to kissing. They were kissing, and holding, touching, letting hands wander, and both of their blood pressures were rising, their heart rates jumping and spiking. Their shirts came off, which took more effort than either would have thought possible. Bruce nearly jumped out of his skin when Dick grazed a nipple with his nail. That made Dick snicker, and touch again, touch harder, with more skill and direction.

They couldn't hear anything but the heaving of air into and out of each other's bodies. Still tasting each other's bodies wherever the mood led them to put their lips, Bruce managed to scoop his brain back into his skull long enough to be afraid.



"Dick? Should we..."

Dick licked Bruce's neck, and looked up into Bruce's eyes. "You're right. We should move to the bed."

They got up in a tangle of limbs and pulling each other.

"Are you sure..."

"Yeah. Bed's definitely more comfy."

"But..." Dick pushed Bruce down onto the bed, kissing his neck and then down, licking nipples that were already hard and reactive. "You... said... no, no sex..."

"Right. So, we'll say, no penetration now."


"Bruce." Dick took Bruce's face into his hands, rubbing gently with his thumbs. "Shut up. Right now, this is perfect. We'll figure it out later."

Bruce wanted to rebuke, but didn't bother once Dick's tongue snaked its way into Bruce's bellybutton. His chin rubbed against the skin above Bruce's pants. Bruce just threw himself back.

"Dick. Dick. Maybe, I mean..."

Dick pulled the pants off. "Want me to take my clothes off?"

"Yes. Yes. Yes, I do..."

Dick flung his own pants across the room, before starting to kiss at the base of Bruce's cock. Bruce just reacted, not wanting to break the spell. Dick's hands were moving too, and Bruce was completely unable to process all the stimuli.

When the heat surrounded him, his only thought was that it was Dick who was sucking his cock.

Dick. Nightwing. A visual of Nightwing, framed in the night, jumping off of a building fearlessly, just spreading his arms gently as the ground rushed up to smash him flared in front of Bruce's eyes. He could see the ground, feel the air rushing, the adrenaline pumping, the firm round bulges of Dick's ass encased in the black of his costume...

Bruce didn't know what he shouted when he came, his hands buried in Dick's thick sweaty hair, but it was either Nightwing or spoon.

Dick had come up to rest his head on Bruce's chest, his heavy breath playing through the light hairs that ran down the middle of the pillow of muscle.

Strands of dark silky hair fell out of Bruce's fingers as he pulled them progressively further from their head. "That was highly entertaining."


"Better than a movie."


"We should do that again sometime."


"Did you..."

Dick slapped his hand onto Bruce's face, leaving a milky smear across Bruce's lips.

Licking his chops, Bruce asked, "Plans for the day."

Dick shifted. "Shower. Sleep. Be at the Battered Women's Shelter at 11, to pick up a list of deliveries. That'll probably take up most of the afternoon. Mm. Coming to the Manor for dinner, helping Tim with his English paper."

Bruce nodded. "I have a video conference at two. I need to meet with Lucius first. I guess I should get going."



"Not right away."


"Love you."

Kiss to the top of Dick's head. "Right back atchya."

A pause.

"We're still ok, right, with the, uh, boundaries?"

"Sure. Why not."

"But there were reasons..."

"We were ready." Dick kissed Bruce's tender nipple. "We still have boundaries. We've just... crossed one."


"We're fine. Hell, right now, we're fanfuckingtastic."

Bruce smiled, tightening his hold on Dick for their remaining time in bed together.

Tim stood on the rooftop next to Barbara, feeling achy and tired and pretty sure that they were never going to catch sight of the Hatter this way. Looking up at Batgirl, he gauged her mood. Seemed like she was in the same spirit as he was.

"Pretty lousy night, huh?"

Barbara caught herself right before some meaningless drivel about every night counting came out her mouth. Looking down at Robin, she felt like she could see the circles under his eyes, even through the mask. "Yeah, I think it's safe to say tonight's a wash. Wanna head back to the cave?"

Robin just grinned up at her.

Once back in the car, the steady sound of miles passing under them was peaceful and calming. "Hey, Barb?"


"Do you find it icky that Bruce and Dick are together?"

"Oh, yeah."

"Good, it's not just me then." With that, Robin set his head against the window and fell asleep.

Dick's head kept banging the headboard, but he barely noticed. Bruce's head was somewhere in the vicinity of his navel, dipping lower with every second. They were both completely naked, and had invested more time to exploring for this round. And now Bruce was licking the base of Dick's cock, and Dick wasn't sure he could handle it.

Heat was pounding into him from all directions, surrounding and embracing him, squeezing his throat shut. He felt like he was being torn apart, from the inside, like his body was betraying him, like he was being manipulated.

He felt his senses overload. He felt like he was drowning.

Bruce started to take in inches, sucking and showing commendable skill. Dick wanted to cry.

It was all too much, far too much, he was drowning, losing, tearing apart and shattering, he had no clue what was going on, and he just couldn't handle it.

"Stop. Stop. Stop, stop, stop, stopstopstop..."

Pulling on the back on Bruce's neck, he was out and up in a flash, sidestepping his way into the bathroom, oblivious to any pain.

Bruce just lay on the bed, his mouth a little foamy, too deeply confused to have a reaction. He heard some grunting, a large grunt, water running, movement, and then Dick came back, wearing loose pajama bottoms.

Dick sat cross legged on the bed near where Bruce had collapsed. For a moment, there was just them on the bed together.

"What.... what happened...?"

"I... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I couldn't..."

"Did I do something wrong?"

"God, no, I just..." Dick was getting agitated, running his hand through his hair before pulling his legs up to his chest and hugging them. "I couldn't. I'm sorry. I couldn't let you make me come. I'm sorry. I just...."

Bruce started to pull himself up, cognizant enough to begin to react. He pulled the sheet around his waist. "I don't understand. You don't want me to..."

"No. I... Look. It was just too much, too fast. I was there, thinking, this is Batman, going to town on my cock, and I couldn't handle it, ok? I was... There's been this little voice, tiny, inconsequential, stupid little voice, since that first kiss, that said, been pining for his approval all these years, have you? Well, all you had to do was pull your pants down, dumbass. And I know, I know, that's not it, it's just, there, in the back, and I don't even need your approval, but I have needed you, and for years, years, I got nothing, there was always something I could have done better, something I could have known better, and I needed validation, and it's not important, because I know how you feel, and it doesn't even matter because I found I didn't need to hear you say it, but it's just like, all the external validation I've ever needed in my whole life but learned to live without condensed into one glorious moment. And I couldn't deal with it. I'm sorry."

Bruce just listened, wishing he could put his arms around Dick, wishing he could comfort. "God. Dick, I'm... this is my fault. I'm sorry. I think you are just..."

"I KNOW! That's not it, really!"

"But I should say..."

"Maybe you should and maybe you shouldn't. It's not important because that's not the road we've chosen to travel."

Bruce felt cold. "This... what does this mean? I mean, if we can't..."

"No." Dick let go of his legs, straightening, and took Bruce's hand. "This isn't permanent, and this isn't your fault or my fault... I just need time. This is exactly what I was talking about when I said we needed boundaries. We need honesty just as much. I want this, and so much more. I just need time to... adjust."


A squeeze to the hand. "Yes. To everything, and to the you I used to know being the you I'm getting to know, and to us, and to everything. It just takes time, that's all."

Bruce nodded, unable to look at Dick. "And... if after some time, you realize...."

Dick leaned in and kissed Bruce, gently. "It will just take some time. I love you."

Bruce looked up slowly. Dick smiled, and then so did he. "Yeah. Time. I love you, too. So we're ok?"

"You know when we'll be ok? When it stops occurring to us to ask that question fifty damn times a day. But yes, we are."

Bruce brought the hand that was holding his up to his lips for an uncharacteristically romantic motion, feeling for the first time that there was a reason to kiss someone's hand.

"Well, as long as you say so... So, now what?"

"Hm. Well, on top of the sink full of dishes to wash, and three uniforms to clean before I can patrol again, I have a jizz-covered bathroom wall to clean."

"Should've aimed for the tile."

"Hopefully, I won't have to remember that for the future. Wanna watch cartoons til you hafta go?"

"I don't think there are cartoons on at this time..."

"Cartoon Network, always on."

"Don't doubt it. What is it with you and cartoons anyway?"

Dick pulled Bruce up to his feet. "Come on, let me show you..."

"You're reckless. That's what he's worried about."

"I know how to handle myself in a fight. He knows that. It just takes some adjusting, now that we are dating." Dick was still suiting up, even though Batman had been clear about staying home and nursing his cold. Cold be damned, with Two-Face out there, Nightwing wasn't going to let Batman face it alone. The others didn't know how deeply Harvey affected Bruce, how blind the Bat could be to that threat. How Two-Face seemed to unconsciously tap into that.

"Adjusting. Right." Barb just rolled her eyes.

"What?!" Dick quickly spun on his heel, meeting Barb's green eyes with a steely blue gaze. She shuddered inside, remembering how those eyes used to look at her.


"You've been making these little comments like that ever since I told you I was going to go out with Bruce! What is it with you?!"

Barb felt her stomach flip-flop, but she had never let fear rule her before. "You are making a colossal mistake. This relationship..." She hadn't been prepared to have this conversation at this time; she had to put her brain into double-time to find a tact she could feel safe discussing. "You are just as reckless with your heart as you are with everything else. Look, I was the one who supplied the chocolate after you broke up with Garth; how will it be when you break up with Bruce? And what makes you think he can survive it?"

Dick took a deep breath. Leave it to Barb to cut to the quick and leave a guy legless. "What makes you so sure the Bruce and I will break up?"

Barb just made a derisive noise in response.

Dick tried to keep cool. "Fine. So we break up. So what? Ever heard the expression, better to have loved and lost?"

"Dick... this isn't a simple thing we are discussing. This is you and Bruce. I remember when you and he could barely speak to each other, and he was driving you nuts. I remember how much it hurt you to be separated from him. And if this fails..."

"No." Dick was pacing nervously about the room, as Barb kept herself still on the stool. "This isn't going to be... Look. Yes, it is me and Bruce. Don't you see that? This is the man that held my chin up after my parents were killed, the man who taught me how to be strong after that, the man who gave me all his knowledge so that I could avoid making the same mistakes he did, the man who helped me bring in the man who killed my parents without killing him, the man who has been and always will be my guiding light.... How could I ever lose him, Barb? I carry him with me wherever I go. I carried him with me across the globe, I carried him with me into every bed I've been in, I carry him in my dreams and when I wake up, I try to find him again. Yes, he's caused me pain over the years. But not because he hurt me, because I was trying to be him, and I couldn't. I couldn't, I'm not him, never will be. My peace came when I accepted that, and accepted who I was, without him. Even then, I carried him, not as the image of what I wanted to be, but the reminder of why I wanted to be the person I wanted to be. And yes, he means everything to me. Everything. But don't you see? If it wasn't worth risking all that I have on the off-chance that I could have more, what would it be worth? If I was too afraid of the chance of losing it, then how could 'it' be worth anything to begin with? I have to risk it, Barb, and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't, that's fine. What I can't do is sit here and pretend I don't feel what I feel and that he doesn't feel what he feels. That wouldn't be worth a damn thing. It wouldn't."

Dick was pacing madly, speaking so fast Barb could hardly keep up. There were tears buried in her heart, tears she had promised herself that he would never see. What he was saying, in her ears, it wasn't about him and Bruce, it was about him and her, and he was telling her it was worth losing just to have had the chance. The heartbreak and lonely nights were too close, too real, he had moved on and grown up, she had waited patiently at home for jack shit. It wasn't fucking fair.

"You... but do you love him? I mean, without the father thing, can you be sure this isn't just the only way to gain his approval? Are you sure... how can you be sure that you are making this choice?" Her voice was remarkably steady and calm. She was proud of herself. And she was grasping at straws.

He stopped pacing right in front of her and met her eyes. "I do love him. God, Barb... I love him. And I know it isn't about approval, because if it was, I'd be in his home, his bed, right now. I stopped looking for his approval a long time ago. And, I know that this is hard to really get, but I don't need his approval anymore. I don't. I love him, and when I say that, I mean, I love the man I've gotten to know since I've gotten home. I don't know the man who raised me anymore, but I love him, the man he is now."

"You're in love with Bruce Wayne." And she tried, but she couldn't keep the scorn out of her voice.

He smiled, and put on his mask. "I'm in love with Batman. Even better."

Bruce could feel Dick shudder underneath his mouth and hands, but he had already asked if he was ok so many times that Dick had impatiently shoved Bruce's head back down to his lap, so he continued, looking up from his extremely limited vantage point every so often. Dick's shirt was open and hanging off his shoulders, his pants bunched down around his shins. He was even sexier like this than when he was completely naked, he made Bruce whimper. Bruce was damn sure that he had never whimpered before in his life.

Dick was griping the edges of Bruce's big bed for dear life, his back pressed against the head board. He was losing control, and he was trying not to care. Moving through every mantra and prayer and slogan and catch phrase he could remember, he tried not to focus on the sensations of Bruce's tongue and hands, even as those sensations threatened to rip him to shreds.

Bruce was moving so slowly, so tenderly, in an attempt to make it easier for Dick, but it only made it worse. Knowing that Bruce had leashed and tamed the Bat for him was just making Dick even more wild and insensible inside.

He had been thinking about this a lot since the last time, and had decided it was a question of trust. Yes, giving his body to Bruce was going to tear him apart inside. That was a given. Did he trust Bruce to put him back together properly?

It was one thing to decide to trust someone. It was something else entirely to actually trust them.

Bruce worshipped at Dick's altar with such reverence as he laid gentle kisses on bone and flesh and blood vessels and tender skin. His fingers kneading with devotion. His tongue lapping at every drop of Dick that was offered.

When Bruce took the tip of Dick's cock into his mouth, sucking and lapping with his tongue, they both felt unhinged. It had been a while since Bruce had done this, and he didn't remember it being so involving. He never remembered being so connected to the person he was giving pleasure to. It was a question of love, of course, but god almighty, Bruce wasn't prepared for it.

Dick's head was back, his body taut, an elegant line of light and sweat shining from his brow, down his curved neck, through the middle of his chest, and bisecting his belly to meet the dark sheen of Bruce's hair. He felt unwound.

Bruce held Dick's testicles as he quickly deep-throated his love, the dual shock causing the young man to convulse and spasm. From then on, the gentle worship fermented into fevered passion, movement and heat pulsing between them.

When Dick came, he felt his soul leave his body, but he was sure, completely sure at that moment, that it was just going to visit Bruce. He was going to be ok.

Afterwards, they both just lay on each other, restless and breathless. Sweat and semen filled the air around their nostrils. Not a word was spoken, but the way Dick brushed his cheek against Bruce's told more of his state than words anyway.

"Best chocolate?"

"A little shop outside Paris, family owned."

"Hm. I was going to say Switzerland, just about anywhere."

"Hm. Best place to go climbing?"


"There are no mountains anywhere near there!"

"You haven't lived 'til you've jumped off the Sears Tower."

"You jumped... never mind, I don't want to know. I was going to say Everest."

"Heh. Best place to go driving?"

"Canadian Rockies."

"Ha! Knew you loved a challenge. Um, I guess I'd say the Western Coast, you know, the Pacific Highway."

"Best museum?"

"Um, the Louvre?"

"That's what I would say. Heh."

"Best tacos?"

"Ooh. Ah, I guess in Cancun, there's a fantastic restaurant in the resort that WayneTech has a villa in."

"Senora Menedez's kitchen on the western coast of Mexico."


"She's this great lady, she takes care of orphans from the area. She has about twenty kids, keeps them working, keeps them honest, and she's makes the best tacos ever. I stayed with her for a few days when I was passing through Mexico on my way to Panama. I built a fence for her."

"That's hardly fair."

"Well, those were the best tacos I ever had."

"Hm. Ok, best place to hear music?"

"Paddy Reilly's. New York."

"What is that?"

"Great bar, we'll go sometime."

"Ah. I was going to say London Philharmonic."



"You love me...."

"Yes... But then, you love me too."

"Sure. Why not?"


"Hey, guys?"

"Hey, Robin. What's up?"

"You busy, radio's been active all night."

"Nightwing and I are on separate patrols. I'm going through Krensky's files. Nightwing is watching the docks, waiting for the Riddler's gang to show."

"Oh. Hey, what's the quadratic formula?"

"Shouldn't that be in your notes, Timmy?"

"Well, it is, but I have it in two places, and they don't match up."

"Look it up in your textbook."

"I can't find it."

"Try the index."

"No, I can't find my textbook."

A sigh. "Ok, um, let's see, it's negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac, whole thing divided by 2a. Isn't that right?"


"Wow. You remembered that off the top of your head? Please don't tell me that I'm gonna use this at some point in my life..."

"Heh. I've no idea if you'll use it or not. I just remembered."

"Hm. Okay. So, what have you been talking about?"

"We've been comparing notes of our travels. Now go do your homework."

"You're not the boss of me..."

"Robin. Finish your homework."

"Yessir." An exaggerated sigh. "Talk to ya guys later."

"Heh. You're intimidating."


"Having fun with the files?"

"No. I think this guy is dyslexic or something, there's no order here."

"I hate it when thugs don't keep the records that will prove their guilt in an orderly, easy to follow system."

"Shut up."

"So, best place for hiking?"

"Black Forest."

"You just like the name."

"True. And you?"

"Brazil. I love the rain forest."

"Best place for a beer?"

"Um. Ireland."

"Any particular place."

"Nope. Anyplace there. They don't have to pasteurize the Guiness there, the turnover rate is fast enough to be able to serve it fresh."

"Heh. I know, that's what I would have said, too."


"Hey guys! I'm back! What's going on?"

"Batgirl. I'm scouting Krensky's office. Nightwing's at the docks."

"'Kay, great! Where do you guys need me?"

"Oops! I'm on!"

"Be careful."

"I think Nightwing's in action already. Want me to meet up with you?"

"Not necessary. Just do a routine patrol, stay close to the docks, just in case."

"'Kay. My date went ok, if anyone's interested..."

"Batgirl. The radio isn't for frivolous conversation."


"Ok, hold your wrist steady and hold the batarang like this."

Alfred just shook his head. It was early afternoon, and he was in the cave making sure his little family of soldiers were eating properly. Dick was showing Tim how to throw some trick shots with a batarang, and Barbara was updating some of the computer's subsystems. Bruce was still at the office, probably near out of his skin at this point with boredom.

"Let 'er fly!"

Tim did so, then scowled when it landed far off of the mark. "This is hard."

"Sure, but you'll get it. You just need to relax, and try to focus less. You're overextending. You need to let it flow a bit more naturally."

Tim scowled, and tried again. This time, he hit the head on the dummy dressed as the Grey Ghost, 15 feet away from the mark. "Well! That didn't work."

Dick just shook his head, trying to keep from laughing. "Here, let me show you again. Grip here, hold your arm up like so, feet planted and square, turn into the throw slightly, and...."

With remarkable ease and precision, the batarang flew from his hand to dead on center of the target.

Tim whistled low, appreciatively. "Show me again!"

Dick laughed, and complied. Just as he was getting to the point of release, Tim suddenly asked, "Is it weird, kissing you dad?"

"Master Dick!" Alfred shot up, indignant, holding the gleaming silver teapot with a black batarang embedded into its side at arm's length from his body.

"Oh, gosh, I'm sorry Alfred!" Dick was pale, and nearly shaking. He couldn't remember the last time he had been taken by surprise like that. Probably the night Batman kissed him for the first time. "Tim," turning to the younger vigilante, not at all sure what to say, "I don't.... I mean... Bruce isn't my father, you know."

"No, but he raised you." Tim stood, looking very placid and calm.

"True..." Dick's voice was shaking. "I... I never really. Look, let's sit and talk about this." And he lead them to the workout bench off to the side of the computer area, noting with some small level of disgust that Barbara and Alfred were trailing after them. "Does it bother you that Bruce and I are dating."

Tim squirmed a little. "Wellll... a little. It just seems kinda... gross. I guess it surprises me that you want to be with him."

Dick nodded, trying to keep his head from feeling too squirmy. "I'm sorry, then, that we haven't had this discussion before. Bruce did raise me, and for a long time, I did think of him as my father. But we aren't biologically related, he never adopted me like he did you, I still remember my real dad, and when people ask about my father, that's who I usually think of. Or Alfred. It's... hard to explain, because it's pretty complex, but really, it's just a question of perspective. Bruce and I have known each other for a long time and care about each other very much. That's really the most important thing."

Tim nodded, thoughtfully. "But... isn't it a little gross?"

Dick's mouth quirked into a smile. "Not at all, trust me."

"Master Dick..." Alfred really didn't want to interject, but he couldn't help feeling Master Timothy's queries were opening the perfect opportunity for him. "It is rather hard to understand, even given the lack of a parental tie. He was, after all, your mentor."

"One of my mentors, Alfred." Dick's voice was soft, and very nearly pleading. He knew, on some deep subconscious level, that Alfred didn't approve of their relationship, but he also knew that he, and certainly Bruce, was too afraid to confront the elder gentleman on the matter as he was still too important to both of them to for either to feel comfortable disappointing him. "I've had many. I know... the years that I was gone, I didn't keep in touch, and in retrospect, I regret that. But, when I was gone, traveling, I was so intent proving my independence, I forgot that it was still important to keep tabs on the people I cared about." His eyes fixed on Alfred, silently begging for forgiveness. Alfred's relaxed calm granted him his plea equally silently.

"So... when you were gone, then Bruce wasn't your dad anymore?" Tim was scratching his head, confused.

Dick sighed. "See, when Bruce took me in, it was a lot like when you came here, I would imagine, except that my parents had just been killed, I had watched it happen, and I was still grieving. And Bruce... well, he really didn't know how to deal with that. He could remember grieving for his own parents still. I didn't know that at the time, I just knew that Bruce was fun, but not hardly ever around. Alfred was my support then. And when I discovered, or was allowed to discover, that Bruce was Batman, we spent more time together, but we were training. It's true, I did think of him as a father, but that was because I needed a father, not because he was ready to become one."

Dick shook his head, looking away. The more he was talking, the more he could see why Tim would be so nervous about all this. If Bruce wasn't Dick's father, then maybe he wasn't Tim's either. And that opened a whole can of worms...

"Tim, what's important to realize here is that Bruce and I have always cared for, and well, loved each other. When I was younger, he was my teacher and guide, and I loved him like I would love my father. When I left, and I told you all about that time, I still cared about him, I just didn't know how to live in his world anymore. When I was gone, I guess... I was figuring out that it wasn't his world, I was learning to be my own person. But I always cared for him. And then... well, sometimes, things change in a relationship, but the essentials stay the same."

Tim was nodding, and watching Dick carefully. "Are you guys having sex?"

"Tim!" Barbara was the first to voice shock. "You can't ask questions like that!"

Dick recovered, resisting the urge to burst out laughing. "Actually... you have every right to ask that question." All eyes turned to him in shock, even Tim's. Dick chuckled, a little. "Tim," Dick rested his hand on Tim's shoulder. "You are a part of Bruce's family, you are his son. Really and truly, so Bruce's relationships affect you. And, well, I'd like to think that we're friends, so my relationships affect you too. Living here, you have a right to know what to expect from both Bruce and I."

Tim grinned up at Dick. "So, are you guys doing it?"

Dick blushed, making Tim grin harder. "Well. Um, we've been... intimate. But we're trying to move slowly, since, well, we have a lot of history to deal with, uh, emotionally."

Tim nodded. "Like the father-son stuff?"

"Uh, sorta. We're not... spending the night with one another at this point."

"But you will be." Tim sounded sure, and a little afraid.

"Probably. I hope so. But Tim," squeezing the shoulder under his hand slightly, "that isn't going to change anything. Nothing that goes on between me and Bruce is ever going to affect your relationship with Bruce, or us."

"But..." Tim looked out of sorts. "You guys... will be together. Maybe, you won't want me around..."

"Don't be ridiculous. Tim. You are a part of this family. Seriously, that isn't going to change. This is your home, and it always will be. Frankly, this place wouldn't be the same without you. Who would help me rig up stairway skiing?"

Tim shyly bent his head, laughing. "But... what if... I mean, I don't want to be morbid, or whatever, but what if you guys split up? What will happen then?"

"Nothing. Look, Tim, I told you, Bruce and I have always cared for each other. And we always will. If we can't be together, then we won't be, but I'll still care for him, and he'll still care for me, and we'll still work and live as we are, and you and I will still be friends, and nothing will change for you, I swear."

Tim meet Dick's eyes for the promise, understanding the meaning of it. "Hm. But, what will happen when people find out. They may not understand about the mentor and independence thing. They may think you guys were doing it before, and that Bruce isn't a good dad."

"That won't happen."

"But it could."

"I won't let it."

"But how could you...."

"Timmy. I would never, ever let anything jeopardize your home here. Neither would Bruce. Whatever we would have to do to make you secure, and help you feel secure, we would." Dick smiled, brushing his hand through Tim's hair. "End of discussion," in his best Bat-voice.

Tim giggled, unable to stop himself.

"Tim. If you ever have any questions, or concerns, or problems, or if you feel uncomfortable about anything, just let me know, and I'll do my best to give you an answer or help or whatever."

Tim squirmed a little, obviously wanting to say more, but not sure he should. Dick just raised his eyebrow, until Tim was able to screw up his courage and ask.

"Um. When you guys do have sex.... will it... will it hurt?" Tim's eyes were big and scared, and transparent. Clearly, he was under the impression that it was painful, and as much as he wanted Bruce and Dick to be happy, he didn't want Dick, or Bruce, to get hurt.

"No, it doesn't. It feels good, actually." Dick was straightforward, and unemotional, putting Tim at ease.

"Not at all?"

"Nope. Not if it's done right."

"You can do it wrong with boys?" Tim sounded awed.

"You can do it wrong with girls, too. If both people aren't careful, and thoughtful, sex can be a very bad thing. No matter what genders are involved. But don't worry. We'll get it right."

"Oh." Tim sat back, thinking again. Dick started to sweat. "Did you have to have someone teach you to do it, then?"

With that, Alfred picked up his tray and murmured something about fetching Master Bruce, and Barbara just sat there and giggled.

Dick sat, motionless. After a too-long pause, he said, "Well, not so much teach per se, as that everyone has a first time. Presumable when they are old enough to understand the consequences of their actions."

"How old is that?"

Barb interjected, too amused to be silent any longer. "Well, according to my dad, about 12 years after hell freezes over. But I think Dick's answer, and Bruce's as well, is 'not for a good number of years, young man!'"

Tim made a face, and Dick got up while the getting was good, suddenly remembering to remind Tim to finish his French homework.

While he was packing up his things to head home, Barb came over to him.

"Good job handling the third degree."

"Well, it was easier after having some practice with you."

"We're all just concerned, you know."

"I know. And I know you have no reason to be."

"Ok. Fair enough. Staying for dinner?"

"I have a thing at the teen shelter, a group dinner thing. So, I'll probably see you all tonight."

"Dick...." Barb just stood there, trying to think of what to say. "Bet you wished Bruce had taken the afternoon off."

Dick grinned. "He would never have asked with Bruce around. He worships Bruce, he would be too afraid of the answers to ask him. But I'm glad he asked. I'd hate to think the people I care about are 'grossed out' by my relationship."

Barb made a face. "Oh, yeah, that would be awful."

Completely unexpectedly, he leaned over and kissed her, gently on the lips, just the way he used to when he was leaving her apartment in college after...

"You know I love you, right?" She just looked up into his bright, beautiful eyes. "You know your friendship means the world to me? That your support after Garth left kept me sane. I can never thank you enough for all you've given me. I wish like hell I could give you more in return, but if I'm ever hurting you..."

Her voice broke through, clear as a bell. "Your friendship means the world to me, too, Dick. It really does. And I... well, I'm less grossed out than I used to be, honest."

He just rolled his eyes and made a face.

Barb watched him leave, feeling less left than she ever had before.

They sat on the couch, watching the cat jump up and basically act like a thing possessed, chasing the ball. Bruce was aware that Dick was watching him peripherally, and found himself flush from the attention.

"So, all in all, a good birthday?"

"Very." Dick's deep response made Bruce shudder a little.

"And you are sure about the cat? Because we can still get you a puppy if you've changed your mind..."

"Dogs are too high maintenance. It wouldn't be fair. Besides, Phantom and I have come to terms with one another. I can't abandon him now."

"Phantom? Because he kept hiding on you that first week?"

"Um, sure."

Bruce was now watching Dick from the corner of his eye. There was something.... nearly predatory about the way Dick was watching him, it radiated from his comfortable sprawl over the couch, the way his arms and legs were stretched to show his lean and elegant body to the best advantage. Bruce shifted, finding himself fighting off arousal.

"You liked all your presents?"


"And you enjoyed the birthday party?"


"And you are sure about the cat?"

"Yes! Bruce, give it up. I'm not a dog person."

"Hm. Well, anyway. So, um, I guess this means the celebration of your birth is nearing a close."

"Mmm, I suppose..."

Bruce shifted his eyes over the remains of Dick's room. There was still some discarded wrapping paper, that the cat was enjoying, and plates and glasses and such.

"So, how did your meeting with Haley go?"

Dick stretched and leaned closer to Bruce. "Thought you'd never ask. You are now looking at a proud co-owner of Haley's Amazing Big-Top Show. I know, the name is a little weird, but it's still the same great show."

"Fantastic. We should celebrate this, too."

"It was interesting, though."

"Oh?" Now Dick was out-and-out watching him, a glint in his eyes that was doing incredible and uncontrollable things to Bruce.

"I found out that there have been several times over the years that Haley's has nearly gone under. In fact they would have gone bankrupt at least three times if not for the intervention of a benefactor."

Now Bruce was shifting, all the pleasant tremors turned to nerves. "Oh."

"Wayne Enterprises. In fact, Mr. Haley was going on and on about how lucky 'we all were' that you had been there that night." Dick just shook his head, ever so lightly. "Why didn't you ever tell me you were supporting the circus?"

"I... I didn't.... I didn't want you to ever feel.... obligated to me..." Bruce was all different kinds of uncomfortable at once.

Dick just sighed, and moved with fluid grace to plunk himself down straddling Bruce's lap. He brought his hands up to just brush his fingertips through Bruce's hairline and over the contours of Bruce's face. "I have never felt obligated to you, Bruce." The tone of voice was the perfect combination of wonder, awe, and lust. "I have felt grateful, for all the things you've given me, none of which were material. I have felt admiration, deep admiration. Respect. Loyalty. Faith. Lust." Dick brushed his nose against Bruce's mouth, and unusually erotic motion.

With more depth than Bruce had ever imagined he could have inspired in anyone, Dick practically whispered, "Bruce. You really are the most amazing person that I have ever known..."

Bruce couldn't imagine how to respond. He felt overwhelmed and totally unworthy. He could only just bring his hands up to just touch the slim muscular waist.

They kissed. Only kissed, just kissed. Kissed, and it was the most intimate interaction ever experienced by either.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Fox, but Mr. Wayne left very specific instructions not to be disturbed under any circumstances. He has a visitor."

Lucius looked at the sleek black lacquered door, curious. "Who's he got in there? A hot date?"

Margaret flushed. "Oh, nothing like that, sir! Dick's come to visit."

Lucius' whole body relaxed. "Dick! Well, for God's sake, Maggie!" And then Lucius flung the door open and went in, exclaiming, "Dick! You little scoundrel! How come I haven't seen you since...."

He stopped dead at the sight that slapped him in the face. Fortunately, the door slammed behind him. If Margaret were able to see this too...

Dick was sitting on Bruce's desk, right in front of Bruce sitting in his chair. Dick's shirt was open, and his chest was glistening slightly. Both men were flushed and red and breathing hard. Bruce immediately shot up to be standing, which only made the slight bulge in his pants more obvious.

Everyone was perfectly still for a full minute, and then Dick burst out laughing, nearly falling off the desk as he rolled around hooting and gasping.

Lucius relaxed, but stayed rooted to the spot. Bruce, scowling, turned away from them both and straightened himself out. Dick finally rolled up to his feet, and pulling his shirt closed, walked over to Lucius still laughing.

"Sorry, Mr. Fox. I know I haven't seen you since the Christmas party. But I've been kinda swamped lately."

Dazed, Lucius tried to keep up his end of the conversation while Dick buttoned his shirt. "I... Joanie told me you were volunteering with the Battered Women's Shelter in Tricorner."

"Yeah, picking up donations and doing deliveries for them. And working at two teen shelters, and the hospice and I'm working as an umpire in Tim's little league..."

It was positively surreal. Bruce was standing in a corner, practically, trying to kill an erection, obviously, Dick was here dressing himself and carrying on a conversation as if nothing was wrong, and there was Lucius, in the middle of it all, wondering why he hadn't just knocked first...

Dick said goodbye, after some more chit-chat. As soon as he and Bruce were alone, it felt like someone had replaced the air in the room with ice.

The only thing that kept Lucius from getting really mad was knowing how at ease Dick had been and seeing how guilty Bruce looked.

Letting out a big whoosh of air, Lucius flung his hands above his head and practically fell onto the plush couch, still too dazed to think of something to say.

"Lucius..." Lucius knew Bruce Wayne was not the simple playboy he pretended to be. He knew there was a really good reason why such an astute and intelligent man would act like a fool. He knew that the pain of his parent's death had never faded one iota for Bruce. He also knew the pain in Bruce's voice now was rare, and deep. "Look. I can't imagine what you must be thinking right now, but let me just be honest with you. Dick and I... well, we're dating, I guess you'd say. We're involved. And it's likely to stay that way, so it's just as well you know now. I'm sorry you had to find out this way. God, you didn't even think I might be gay or bi or anything..."


"...and this is just an shitty way to tell you anything..."

"Bruce... there are security cameras everywhere here."

Bruce just stared blankly at him.

"That time you... uh, took that temp into the copy room...."

Bruce turned bright red. "Oh! My God! How many people saw that?!?"

"Only me, and Maggie, later, and well, my wife, and," Lucius blushed, and began speaking very fast, "my assistant, and the head of security, and Shirley in accounting..."

Bruce was as pale as a corpse. "Why... so many..."

"Well.... there was some talk about how much we could make in tape sales..."


Lucius felt himself laughing, a good sign, he decided to feel.

"Don't worry, we decided against it. Too many legal entanglements. Plus, none of us were good enough with computers to sell it without implicating ourselves."

Bruce leveled him with a hard look that he rarely showed. "You're making fun of me."

"Boy howdy." The two most uncomfortable men on the eastern seaboard grinned uneasily at each other. "Ah, Bruce? I guess it goes without saying that this is a fairly recent turn of events? And that you never had any such thought when Dick was your ward?"

"Of course not!"

"And you know that if you hurt Dick, I'll have to make you pay for it. Dearly."

Bruce stilled. "I'm glad to know that you would look out for Dick like that. And yes, if I hurt Dick, I know perfectly well that I will pay for it, dearly."

"Well. All right then. Ok. So, we'll go on with our day."

They both shifted a little. "Um, all right. Well, did you need anything..."

"No, no. I'm going to go on the net and try to burn that image out of my brain. I'll see you tomorrow, Bruce."

They both got up, and oddly, Lucius put out his hand. They shook, feeling out of sorts. "Remember, dearly."

"I know."

Bruce let the soft dark hair fall through his fingers as he lay a soft kiss to the top of Dick's head. The dark head rested on his shoulder lightly, Dick's hand falling limply on Bruce's leg. It was no wonder Dick had fallen asleep; between his work at the teen shelter and bringing the Serona gun smuggling ring down, he had probably only gotten an hour's sleep in the last three days. The movie droned on with blinking lights unnoticed. Bruce loved the dark hair that slipped through his fingers. He wouldn't tell Dick this, but he loved the way it fell across Dick's shoulders, long and decadent. The scent of the hair was clean and musky, a product of Dick's generic shampoo and his pheromones. Bruce was totally an addict.

There wasn't a single aspect of this moment that he would alter, in any way. It was so perfect, so much more than he deserved. He thanked silent gods for Dick's incredibly bad taste in men as he kissed the hair that he tenderly held between his finger and thumb.

It was almost like being happy, Bruce thought, and if he were capable of happiness, it would be bliss.

"Tim!" Bruce let out an exasperated sigh. "The game is in this direction!"

"Sorry Bruce!" Tim felt like he'd been given a free shopping spree to biggest and best toy store ever, only the toy store had grown up as he had. "I've never been in a skybox before! Look, there's a Playstation!" It was like Christmas morning, without the boring parts.

Bruce rolled his eyes theatrically. "Sorry I haven't brought you up here sooner. But there is a major sporting event going on down there... maybe you could hold off on the video game until halftime?"

Tim sighed, happily, and snaked over to where all the food was before plopping down next to Bruce.

"This is so damn cool, um, I mean, darn cool. Thanks, Bruce!"

Bruce smiled affectionately down on his young charge. "Anytime, champ. You worked really hard on your history project. You deserve a reward. And anyway, this is here all the time, if you want to come to any game, you don't have to wait for me, Barb or Alfred or Dick would love to come, too..."

"I like being here with you. And being Robin is the coolest reward for anything and everything, so you don't hafta feel like you need to give me anything."

Tim had spent so much of his life taking care of the adults around him, Bruce felt like he was only adding to the poor kid's problems most days. But on days like today, Tim's gritty wisdom displayed age beyond years, which made his care both better and worse. Bruce put his arm around Tim, and stole a chip.

Tim looked up at his adoptive father carefully. "Hey Bruce?"


"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure thing."

"Um, last night, uh... with Ms. Kyle?"

Bruce smirked at Tim's inborn sense of subterfuge. "Yeah?"

"Well, the way she talked... it sounds like you guys used to, uh, well, sorta be a thing or something."


"Well, does that mean that you are like Dick?"

"Like Dick... how?"

"You like boys and girls?"

Why could he never ask the simple questions? "Um, well, that's a little complicated, why do want to know?"

"Welllll... I was thinking... if you and Dick both liked both guys and girls, maybe you guys could go out with Barb. I think she's kinda lonely. Then, we could all be one family."

Bruce just sat, shell shocked. "Uh... that's not going to happen."

"Why not?"

"It's just not."

Tim was always fascinated by the subtle shift between Bruce and Batman. "You don't want to share Dick."

"Well, no. I would hope he wouldn't want to share me either. But it's not just that. We... it's just us, you understand. There's not going to be a third, no matter how much we care about them."

There was a contemplative pause, and then, "You mean, sexually, right? You guys don't want to be totally alone, right?"

Bruce partially hugged the near-adult with his one arm. "Of course, I mean... uh, well, we don't want to exclude anyone. You know we both care about you."

"Yeah. I do." There was more warmth to Tim's voice than Bruce was accustomed to hearing. "But you didn't really answer my question."

"What question?"

"Are you like Dick? Are you bisexual?"

Bruce started to fidget, and pulled his arm back, ostensibly to grab a Zesti. "Um... well, why are you asking?"

"Because I want to know."

Can't argue with that. Damn. "Well.... it's more complicated than that, Tim. See, I don't really think of myself as bisexual, heterosexual, or homosexual. I don't really think of myself as sexual. I've never been attracted to someone because they were... um, physically... I guess I'm attracted to the person, really..."

"Oh." Tim sat quietly. "So, does that mean that you don't...."

Bruce blushed, bright red. How come ever since he and Dick started going out, he was blushing so easily? "I... nevermind. Yes, I do, I just don't get attracted to someone for that reason."

"Oh." More thoughtful silence, which couldn't be a good thing. "So, what attracted you to Dick?"

Oh, lord... "Dick.. you should understand, that before I knew Dick, I was... alone. And then, there was this... boy, who understood. Because, he'd been through the same thing. And it... well, it saved me from being an even darker and more depressing person than I am now."

That made Tim laugh, which was good. It helped ease Bruce's tension over the subject matter.

"But of course, then he was my ward and my friend... It wasn't until he came back, when you met him for the first time... before, he was my friend and partner, but he was also my student and charge. There was too much age and power difference..." How weird to discuss this with a 15 year old! "When he came back, we were peers. Friends, partners, peers. And, we understand each other. Because, well, we both watched our parents die, violently. And, we both fought back. And, we both bear the same burdens."

"And you both look good in black leather." Tim looked at his adoptive father's gaping expression. "That's what Barb said."

"Ah." Maybe he should limit the amount of time Barb and Tim spent together...

"Anyway, that makes sense." And Tim turned to the game, satisfied.

Bruce chuckled under his breath. That kid was just so damned incredible.

Batman sat at the computer, tension rolling off of him. Tim had hung up his Robin suit carefully, as if excess noise might set something off. Dick was in the back somewhere, banging around repairing his bike. Every slight clang of metal on metal seemed to ratchet up Bruce's tension. Tim was stepping lightly around them, utterly confused and hoping to slip upstairs unnoticed. Dick grunted loudly, dropped the last of the tools into the toolbox and started rolling the bike to the entrance of the cave. Bruce scowled and hunched lower, trying to focus on the computer screen.

As Dick walked by, he dropped a bottle of lotion in front of Bruce on the control panel of the computer. Both Tim and Bruce looked up, puzzled.

"Figured that would make it easier for you to go fuck yourself tonight."

"So, what are you guys fighting about again?"

Matthew leaned back against the park bench, enjoying watching Dick take a long drink of water after their pick up game.

"Oh, God, what was it again? I forget exactly, I think he said something, and I overreacted, and then he said something stupid... It doesn't really matter, I guess. It's just hard, sometimes."

Matthew just grinned, a look of pure evil covering his face. "Dating your dad isn't as easy as you thought it would be, huh?"

Dick just blew some water out his cheeks onto Matthew.

"It's... He's not what people think, you know. He's unbelievable, amazing, beautiful, strong, glorious... and I... I just get sick of being less than him, sometimes."

"Dick. Be serious, you know he doesn't think that."

Dick sighed, plopping down on the bench next to Matthew. "I know. I do. I just... I get frustrated. So many things are right on, and then something comes up that throws everything off..."

"Maybe if you were fucking him, you wouldn't have to worry about things coming up throwing stuff off."

Dick blushed hot, nearly choking with laughter and shock. "That's not it! I... I know I'm not making any sense."

"No, but that's ok, you rarely do. Has it occurred to you that what is wrong is that you are trying to have a relationship that's in the closet?"

Dick just made a face.

"No, really, think about it. You've never been particularly hidden. Sure, in college you weren't advertising that you were bi or anything, but you were still figuring it out. You were talking about frustration..."

"Not that. Really. Being out with Bruce... that would just be gossip-fodder. It has nothing to do with us. I... Christ. What am I feeling?"

"Might be a good idea to figure that out, especially since a week ago you were going on and on about how much you loved him."

Dick sighed, feeling weary all of a sudden. Sometimes, it was just hard. Bruce was not a giving person, he knew that from the get-go. But there was just something... he hated being dismissed, feeling less than totally worthy simply because Bruce was too busy to really listen. He hated feeling like second best, for any reason. He hated being the responsible one in a relationship.

"Bruce has this thing that he does, when he feels sorry about something that he's done. He just sort of... shrinks into himself, getting smaller than he is. And he talks softer. He asks about stuff. I always thought it was kind of nice, because then, you know, he was taking an interest and he was less intimidating. But now... I don't want to see him like that. I don't want him to walk on eggshells around me. I want him to be comfortable around me... I think. I think he thinks he's, I dunno, robbin' the cradle or something."

Matthew snorted, in his own uniquely sarcastic manner.

"Yeah." Dick grinned. "He... he sees me as his equal, and he treats me that way, but you know... all his instincts, they lead him to take care of me, nurture me."

"And you don't want to be the little boy in his care anymore."

"Not even in a role-playing game. Nope. I'd, well, I'd like to care for him, you know? I... I think of the future, though, and it just gets... I mean, where is this headed? Someday, we'll be really serious about each other, and want to live together, and it won't be us looking for an apartment together, it will be me moving into his house, and then.... we'll be right back where we started."

Matthew's pale eyes were full of understanding and acceptance. His friendship had always meant so much to Dick, in such turbulent times of his life. Now, he needed this shoulder to cry on more than ever.

"Thanks for being here for me. I know it's hard listening to me bitch when I won't tell you anything, really."

Matthew smiled and then looked into the distance. He was collecting his thoughts, Dick could practically see the mental fingers flipping through the file folders, organizing. "Whatever this is, Dick, that is going on? Resolve it. Forget about the future, the future is tomorrow's problem. You love him, he loves you, it's hard 'cause he's famous and your former guardian... But don't let this continue. Don't let him push you away. You do remember psyche 101, right? It's a defense mechanism for him. He's lost a lot of people, Dick. God, you know that better than anyone. The more important you become to him, the more impossible it will be for him to lose you. He'll push you away to protect himself, and as a result, will ending up hurting the both of you. Don't let him do it."

Dick was processing what Matthew was saying as Matthew searched Dick's face intently. "You don't realize this, I bet, but you are the one in charge of this whole relationship. You call the shots, and he'll do whatever you say. You've got him in the palm of your hand, Dickie. He's yours. So, make him respect you. Make him trust you. And make him let you go enough so that you guys can be two separate people in a relationship, and not two codependent freaks heading full-speed for a brick wall. And don't let him go, or I'll kick your ass. I will."

Dick and Matthew grinned stupidly at one another before they busted up laughing.

And Dick now had something to think about.

Bruce tried to rip his mouth off of Dick long enough to form either a thought or a sentence. "Dick.... Dick... wait, wait, um, should we be...? Um, shouldn't we talk, or something?" And the hint of pain in his voice almost made Dick burst out laughing.

"Shut up. Look, we're both pretty physical guys, right? So, let's resolve this, right here, now. I'm not letting this just end, you know. We're together. Pretty much forever, now, got it? So, let's get it on."

They were wrestling and grinding into one another. It had only been a week, possibly two, and they were both so tightly wound. It was almost like they were sparring, or actually fighting, it was so much rougher and more violent than all their previous encounters, that Bruce started to get afraid, started to hesitate.

Dick wasn't about to let him do that.

"Look. Look at me, dammit!" Not hard, since Dick was writhing on top of him, but the sight was so primal and heated that Bruce had trouble controlling himself. "Look. Damn you, Bruce, I'm not your fucking ward or responsibility or whatever. I'm your boyfriend, your lover, your friend. You have to trust me, and you have to let me take care of myself. So this is how it is going to be," and now Dick was stripping, sensually and slowly right there in Bruce's lap, sliding against Bruce with lithe shivers of his body. "You are going to fuck my mouth, hard. You're going to leave me bruised and aching. You are going to trust me when I tell you this is what I want." Dick paused in his instructions long enough to taste Bruce's tonsils brutally. "And, you are going to trust that I can take care of myself enough not to let you hurt me more than I find pleasurable." Dick slid his hands up Bruce's chest, skinning the shirt right off of him and hitting Bruce's nipples with his fingernails, roughly grating his way up. "Understand?"

Bruce looked up, catching the dark and hard gaze of the man he loved. He didn't understand, not in the slightest, but he half-nodded anyway. Dick slipped his pants off, biting his hips hard enough to leave half-moon dashed marks temporarily. Then, Dick was kneeling on the ground in front of him, willing him to stand and act. Bruce didn't want to, didn't want to want to, but in a few minutes, what he wanted was moot. The heat, and the fingers digging into his ass cheeks were too goddamned demanding to be denied. He didn't think about it, didn't want to, as he pounded his way to release, freedom.

Later, leaning against the bed with Dick's boneless body spread against him, he still didn't understand, but he did know they had crossed a threshold. Dick was kissing him, caressing his body, and it was all so exactly right, he didn't even care that he felt pride at seeing Dick's puffy, red mouth.

"I know you think you have to restrain yourself, you have to be in control, but you don't, I'm in charge and that's ok, I'll take good care of us. You think I can't handle the Bat but I can and oh, god, Bruce, I want to, I want the Bat, I want to handle him and manhandle him... Just let it out Bruce, let the Bat out, you're safe with me, it's all good..."

Bruce had to get up and leave much later, but at that point the sun was coming up and they had spent the night on the floor, holding each other and kissing and soothing.

It was always hard leaving home, but Bruce had to get back to the Manor to dress for another day at work.

"So, you think I should ask Steph to homecoming?"

"I definitely do."

"Think she'll say yes?"

"Timbo, I've never met this girl, I have no idea what she'll say. But, people usually say yes when they're asked out, at least, when they are asked out by reasonably attractive, nice people. I think there's a good chance she'll say yes."

Tim looked up at the guy he was starting to think of as his big brother. Dick was flipping through a news mag, while giving out advice about dating. He had come by in the morning to go over some gymnastics with Tim, something that had become something of a tradition with them. Then, he helped Tim with his geometry, and then listened as Tim poured his heart out about the bad girl in school Tim was smitten with. It was hard to think of Dick as being anything but perfectly normal.

"So, how do I do it?"

"Do... what?"

"Ask her out."

"Go up to her. Say hi. Ask about how stuff is going. Then, ask her out."

"Just like that?"


"But... I mean, is that how you used to do it?"


"Will that work for me?"

"Why wouldn't it?"

"Well, you are a lot better looking than I am. And, you have it a lot easier, making friends and stuff."

Dick practically dropped his magazine. "What makes you say that, Tim?"

"Well... look at you. And look at me."

"Tim... did you ever see pictures of me when I was your age? No one is completely happy with their appearance as a teen. It's one of the bonding things of humanity that no one realizes is there until later."

"But... even in high school, you were pretty, well. Barb said you were a hottie in high school. And I don't think that it would be as easy for me to..."

Dick was flushed and bothered. Really, Barb could be such a pain in the ass sometimes! Maybe she shouldn't spend so much time with Tim.... "Timbo. Barb was a couple years younger than me, when there were big society events, I was always watching after her... So, her view of me at that age may not be totally unbiased. Trust me, I was just one of the guys. And from what you've told me of Steph, she likes you, spends time with you. So just ask her. Or I'll call her myself. I have a vocal modulator that would make me sound just like you..."

Tim turned bright red. He was still really sure that that Dick was never just one of the guys, but he wasn't about to call Dick's bluff. "Ok, ok, I'll ask her Monday, I swear! Jeez, lay offa guy sometimes Grayson!"

Dick just smirked. "I'll check up on you ya know..."

Tim glared.

"Aw, crap, look at the time! I gotta get downtown for a teen group thing. Tell Bruce I said hi when you see him, ok?"

Tim started. Dick was packing up his junk, cds and mags and such. It hadn't occurred to Tim until right then. He smiled.

"Thanks, Dick."

"Hey, anytime you need someone to give you a hard time, let me know..."

"No. For today."

Dick stopped, looking confused in Tim's direction. "Huh? What do you mean?"

"Wellll... we spent the whole day together. You never saw Bruce. Didn't even ask about him or anything. Like you came here to spend the day with me. So.... thanks." Tim was working hard on not blushing. It would be so not cool to blush in front of his bro over this!

"Tim." Dick felt like he'd just been taken to task. "Tim, I did come here to see you. Just because I'm dating Bruce doesn't mean that I wouldn't be here for you and just you. Sorry if you ever felt differently..."

"Aw, Dick, you don't hafta apologize. I know what it's like when you first start dating someone."

Dick just arched an eyebrow. "Oh, you do?"

"Sure. All new relationship stuff, and the foolin' around...."

Dick could feel his eyebrows leaving his face. "And, where, exactly, did you learn this?!"

"Sitcoms, mostly. And seeing Bruce these past months.... He's kinda, you know, happy. Must be cool, making the Bat happy."

Dick grinned. "It has its moments. Thanks for being so understanding, kiddo. And remember, ask Steph on Monday, or I will, and trust me, you don't want me calling her!"

Tim groaned as Dick laughed, walking away. Always have to take the good with the bad, he decided.

"Do you ever stop and think how weird these are, just hanging between our legs like this? I mean, just look at it. If you look at one long enough, they just start looking really.... unnatural."

Bruce's head lay on Dick's chest, they were naked and resting peacefully on Dick's bed. "Stop playing with yourself, Dick. That's my job now."

Dick grinned, but didn't stop. "I mean, really! Think of all the blood vessels, the various tubes and channels! And all the controls and checks and so forth. I mean, it really is a marvel of bio-engineering. One minute, they are all floppy and tender, the next they are as hard as a steel bar and hyper tender! And the whole process of hardening... I mean, have you ever really just watched one get bigger, harder.... your own, or your lover's?"

Bruce lifted his head long enough to give Dick an odd look.

"They are really remarkable, truly! I mean, think of all the pleasure they can give, and at the same time, they fulfill probably the most menial of labors. Well, second most. The part that makes a man a man and yet it is the softest, most vulnerable part..."

Bruce groaned loudly, and rubbed his nose against Dick. "Please don't tell me you've written a poem called 'Ode to a Grecian Obelisk' because if so..."

Dick snerked. "Well, I probably should tell you... I'm kinda obsessed with these things. I mean, they're so addictive!"

Bruce leaned up and impulsively kissed his young love. "You are a strange and bewildering creature. You are just so charmingly weird."

Dick sighed and rubbed his forehead against Bruce's. "I should also tell you... I'm kinda obsessed with male nipples, too. Not mine, they are too small, but yours, for instance. Not so tiny as to be forgettable, not so big they look freakish. Two little pleasure-buttons that serve absolutely no purpose other than to increase arousal." Dick sighed, contentedly.

Bruce groaned again. "I'd better get going before you start waxing poetic about the prostate gland!"

Dick just rolled away. "God, it's all just such a well-designed system!"

Bruce laughed, that deep, barrel-chest laugh that was so him. "Oh, I wish I didn't have to go to the office today. Oy! A three hour meeting with a bunch of CEO's. It'll be like a contest to see who can talk the longest while saying the least and making the most stupid jokes."

"What day is it? Thursday? Ah, man... Don't complain. It's my day to go to the AIDS hospice. Have I told you lately how depressing that is?"

Bruce bit his lip to keep from saying anything.

"'There but for the grace of God...' Ah well. We should probably get some sleep and take a shower. Neither of our audiences will appreciate the tousled and just-fucked smell!"

"Might cheer up some of the patients at the hospice."

Dick smiled.

"You patrolling tonight?"

"Yeah, south docks. Just watching, you know, been hearing murmurs. Want to get some good info."

Bruce nodded. "Yeah. Things are going to be busy for a spell here. Whenever we get all the loonies in Arkham, the regular thugs get restless."

Dick just hmmm'ed, already letting sleep creep up on him.

Bruce ran his hand through Dick's hair, letting it slip between his fingers and fall back to Dick's body. "Keep your radio open."

"You too."

A light kiss to the forehead. "Yes, dear."

"'M not the wifey. You are."

Bruce arched an eyebrow, to no effect as Dick already had his eyes closed. "How do you figure?"

Dick smiled in his near-sleep. "'Cause you're the one with the nesting instinct."

Bruce shook his head as he left, muttering something about robins being the ones with nests.

"You're late, Grayson." Barb barely looked up from her menu to chastise her friend.

"Sorry, doll, I got hung up at the shelter with some work, lost track of time." Dick sat down, gulping down water as soon as he hit the seat.

Barbara just sighed. "You know, it used to be a lot easier to get mad at you for this kind of thing. Your excuses have improved immensely. It's really annoying. Where are the days when you used to ditch me to 'clean out the fridge?'"

Dick just groaned. "Oh, God, I actually said that to you once, didn't I?"

"When I was in a sexy strapless number, no less."

Dick placed his face in the palm of his hand. "Yeesh! I remember, trust me. Ah, well, we've come a long way since then."

Some of us longer than others, Barb managed not to say. "Nice shirt."

Dick looked down at his shirt, uncertain of which one he had on. "Oh. Thanks."

"It's Bruce's, isn't it?"

"Um, yeah, I guess. How'd you know?"

"Sorry, sweetie, but Bruce is a little broader in the shoulders then you." Barb had that wicked grin on now. "That shirt is practically hanging off of you."

Dick grunted. "He's not that much bigger than me."

"No? You have the sleeves rolled up three times and it still reaches the bottom of your wrists." Barb was enjoying this way too much.

"Well, he's not bigger than me in any way that really counts." Dick leaned back, feeling smug.

"Ack!" Barb playfully put her hands up to cover her ears. "Don't tell me stuff like that! I don't want to know stuff like that about Bruce!"

Dick was wearing the wicked grin now. "I thought there was a time when you totally had the hots for him. Didn't you tell me that once? Besides, you used to love to hear junk like this."

"That was another lifetime. And I used to have the hots for Bruce's night image. I mean, really! Ick." Barb made a faux-grossed out face.

"Ah, same diff."

She gave him a hard look. "Is that... I mean, isn't that.... Are things ok? No trouble with... you know, the night image."

Dick shook his head. "I've tried to explain this to you... I know him, Barb, the real him. I like the night image. It excites me, to be honest."

"Really? I don't think I could ever do that."

"I thought you didn't want to hear the gritty detail." She stuck her tongue out at him. "And really? You can't possibly see yourself with him?"

She watched him, long and hard. "I guess, nowadays, I have a hard time seeing him with anyone who isn't you. And vice versa."

Dick smiled. "I'm sorry. I know... well, that things between us... could have been resolved better. And that you don't like admitting that this isn't the biggest mistake of my life."

"Oh, it's still the biggest mistake of your life. I mean, you could have had me. Poor dear, had to settle for him."

"Oh, yeah, some days it's hard just getting out of bed, knowing what I'm missing."

Barb enjoyed looking smug, patting him gently on the hand. "I know, dear, I know."

Dick stood at the end of the bed, just watching. Tim was huddled up under the covers, still looking pale, and sick. His brow was creased with lines of worry, his rest not peaceful, as drug-induced sleep often can be. Tim's hands were clutching the sheets, and he was curled in the fetal position in the middle of his big bed, looking very small and weak.

Until Bruce's arms snaked around his waist and he leaned back against the granite chest behind him, Dick didn't know that he was shaking. It felt good to be held, the fear that was trying to kill him was so foreign.

Bruce didn't say a word, just stood there with him, watching.

"I keep thinking about what might have happened... if I hadn't been there.... if we hadn't been on the radio together, no one might have known the Joker took him... with what happened to him in the 5 hours he was missing, think what might have happened..."

Bruce just spoke quietly into his ear. "He's home. He's safe. In a few days, all will be well again. You were there, you were speaking on the radio..."

"As near as I can figure it, that monster and Quinn were trying to make a family for themselves."

"Quinn said as much in holding." Bruce's voice was so quiet and gentle, soothing Dick almost as much as the chin rubbing his shoulder.

"I started looking for him as soon as he stopped responding, but they were already gone."

"I know."

"I must've caught at least three lucky breaks in tracking them down. If anything had gone differently, if I'd turned my head differently when I first stepped into that first alley, or if..."

"Stop. It's ok, now."

"When I first found the place, I hadn't wanted to believe..."

Bruce couldn't speak, or move.

"I think he was mostly ok, afterwards, don't you think?"

"He was, I know it. In a few days..."

"It was horrible."

Bruce just kissed the back of his neck.

"I almost couldn't do anything, I felt so sick."

Bruce just held him tighter.

"There were all these chemicals around, in vats, I recognized some of them. And he had him strapped to this dental chair..."


"You didn't see the implements he had. You didn't see how he stood over Tim, laughing."

"Dick, I know..."

"I think he was going to turn him, you know, like he had been turned, from the chemicals."

"It's possible."

"I can't believe... I mean, it was so close..."

"He's safe at home now."

"He was being tortured."

"I know." And Dick could hear the strain in Bruce's voice but he couldn't stop talking.

"He was so brave, Bruce, through it all, but he was weakening, I could tell..."

Bruce just continued to hold him.

"That.... monster.... I could kill him. I could, I mean that, literally."


"You didn't see the bulge in the fucker's pants as he stood over Tim, laughing like a fucking hyena."

Bruce didn't know what to say, what to do.

"I think I'm going to be sick."


"No, I mean now, I mean, I can't move and...."

Bruce swiftly grabbed the trash can, and lowered Dick to his knees in front of it. Dick emptied the contents of his stomach, and much of his small intestine, and then a few mouthfuls of bile for good measure. Bruce just sat behind him, a presence there, and every so often he would pull a strand of hair away from his face. After a while, Dick just leaned back, resting his head on Bruce's shoulder, exhausted.

"I was so scared."

"Of course you were."

"I've never been so scared."

"No, I know."

"I didn't know I could be that scared."

"It's different when someone you love is in danger."

"I tried so hard to get there faster.... I was so lucky to get there at all."

"He's safe, now. Everything is fine, now."

"I can't do this."

"Of course you can. You've done a wonderful job so far. Try to focus on what is, and not what might have been."

"No, I mean, I can't sit here on the floor next to this trash can... the smell is making me ill again."

Bruce couldn't help chuckling, as he helped Dick back on his feet. The stubborn hero insisted on helping with emptying and rinsing the can, then he washed his face and brushed his teeth and washed his face again.

They went back into Tim's room, each knowing that they were going to spend the night watching over him.

Dick couldn't help shaking again, but stood apart, not defiantly but wanted to see Bruce while they talked.

"I don't know.. I mean, how... how do you do it? How do you put up with this fear? I know how many times I got hurt, or trapped, so you must know this fear... how can you go on like you do?"

Bruce gazed down at Tim's prone body, chilled a little by the stillness of it. "I keep the people I love close to me, and I protect them. And when I protect them, I protect myself."

Dick felt a little more calm after hearing the gentle admission. He actually had enough presence of mind to feel blessed with the trust implicit in it.

"Tell you what, lover. Tonight? You can protect me." And Dick took Bruce's hand, leading him to the chair by the bed, sitting himself down in Bruce's lap. "I'm scared."

Bruce settled them into a comfortable position, resting Dick's head in the crook of his neck, and slipping an Afghan around them, comforted by the weight and warmth of the body shivering in his arms.

The sun was just beginning to set when Dick was caught looking at Bruce. Truthfully, he had been doing it all day, as they had been grilling and eating lunch, during the volleyball game against Barb and Tim, while they were swimming, during the sunbathing break, through the whole day, Dick had kept one eye on Bruce, watching with an odd look.

But this time he had been caught.

"Why are you lookin' at Bruce like that Dick? You guys want some privacy?"

Dick had to smile, because he was just so damn proud of how guilelessly Tim was able to embarrass Bruce. "Nope. Just... wondering about those trunks."

"What's wrong with my trunks?" Now Bruce was embarrassed and bewildered.

"Yeah, nothing. What year is this, anyway, 1950?"

Barb rolled over and put her chin on her arms. "Mmm. 1958, I think, but then I was never much into fashion. You guys should both be wearing speedos. They're gayer."

Dick rolled his eyes. "Gayer? Please. Those things aren't exactly comfy for a family day at the beach."

"In this fucked up family?"


"Sorry, Bruce. Timmy don't swear, you'll end up lonely and bitter."

"Seriously. Why were you looking at him like that?"

"Like what, Timbo?"

"I dunno. Kinda like you've been looking at me, lately, but more so."

Dick smiled at Bruce, both of them arching an eyebrow at one another, laughing inside at the wisdom of youth. "I'm just having a damn fine day, that's all."

"Oh. Hey, is there any way I can work the guilt over the whole Joker thing into a new Playstation?"

Barb groaned, Dick laughed, and Bruce fell down onto his back.

"Remind me to teach him about subtlety, tomorrow." Dick said, smirking at Bruce.

"Will do, boss."

Tim scowled. At this rate, he'd be ancient before he got a Playstation.

When Bruce came up to his bedroom, Dick was there, sitting comfortably against the headboard. It was still early, and he couldn't contain the tingle of excitement that worked its way up and down his spine. It had been a harrowing couple of weeks, but things were calm in Gotham now, and he was looking forward to some quality time with his love.

"What do you want to do tonight?" Bruce was almost nervous with anticipation as he sat down on the side of the bed. "We have plenty of time before you'd have to head home. Plenty of time."

Dick smiled a tiny, knowing smile. "Actually, I thought I would spend the night." And the way he smiled, the way he leaned into the headboard, the way his body stretched, the tone of his voice, Bruce knew exactly what he meant. His whole body shuddered involuntarily.

"Are... are you sure? This is what you want? We're... ready?" Bruce didn't know the exact reasons behind their waiting, their boundaries, except that Dick had wanted to really get to know each other, and not mess their relationship up with the physical.

Dick chuckled in a surprisingly sexy way. "Sure? I've been sure for a long while now. Want? Most definitely. Ready? I figured out a week or so ago that we were ready. I was just waiting for the right time. Tonight, we don't have to worry about any interruptions. Tonight, I can take the time necessary to drive you wild." And now Dick was gracefully pulling himself upright as he moved into Bruce's lap, his thighs touching the outside of Bruce's thighs.

The kiss was deep and passionate, full of all the heat and desire each of them had kept hooded until now. Rubbing foreheads together, Dick asked, "Is that acceptable? Are you ready?"

Bruce sighed. "I... don't know how to be ready. But, I am sure. Just... you should know, I've never done this before."

Dick pulled his shirt off with such ease that Bruce felt himself twitching. "I kinda figured that. It's ok, you'd be surprised how much it is similar to being with a woman. With a few important differences..."

They were kissing again, as Dick started to unbutton Bruce's shirt, and Bruce deeply regretted having to pull away. "No, I mean I've never, um, penetration, never done that."

Dick's head popped up from where he was kissing Bruce's collarbone. "Really? But... I mean, why? Certainly wasn't from lack of opportunity."

"No, not that. I... was waiting for someone worthy." Bruce almost shrugged.

Dick burst into a bright smile. "Well, I must compliment you on your taste. And, don't worry. It's actually quite commendable. I kinda feel bad now, though. I mean, I didn't wait for you. I really didn't wait for you."

Bruce smiled. "That's a good thing, I think. At least one of us knows what he's doing."

"Oh, don't worry that pretty little head of yours. Either of them. This is the kind of thing that you know how to do, I mean, instinctively. So, no problem."

Their conversation continued without words as they began devouring each other, their tongues tangling and tasting every bit of flesh they could. Bruce felt like he was vibrating, he was so overcome by what was happening. He tried not to think about what was happening, actually, for fear that he would burst, literally, from the thought of it.

Dick was underneath him, undulating as he took off both his and Bruce's pants and underpants using his hands and feet. Bruce felt a sudden spike of ice drive down his spine as he realized what, exactly, was about to happen. He hesitated.

"Maybe... um, maybe, you should, you know, me, since I've never... I don't want to hurt you." His voice became weaker as he went on.

Dick's perfect blue eyes met his. "Oh, no, no, no. I've been wanting to take this amazing body of yours for a ride for a while now," punctuating his point by wrapping his legs around Bruce's waist, and pushing their now-bare groins together. "I get under first. But you'll see soon enough, 'top' and 'bottom' are relative terms. You should know, well, apparently, and I don't necessarily agree with this but according to just about everyone I've ever been with... I can be kinda... pushy, in bed. I tend to take charge, no matter what position I'm in. And, well, I'm a gymnast and an athlete. I don't like to stay in one position all night. So, just relax, enjoy yourself, remember to move as much as you can, and try to stay calm. This is going to be quite a night!"

Bruce was suddenly flipped onto his back, with Dick still wrapped around him. His nervousness only ratcheted up a notch. "Um, isn't that... ah, well, a lot of pressure? I mean, this is our first night, maybe we should just..."

But he was quieted as Dick put his finger over Bruce's mouth. "Let me set the rules. There's no pressure. I love you, Bruce. Let me show you."

And then, Dick proceeded to cast a spell over Bruce with his lips and tongue, covering Bruce's body with loving adoration. After a few moments, Bruce was completely under Dick's spell, and was just concentrating on keeping himself still. As still as he could be while writhing and moaning under Dick's care.

Dick kissed him long and deep, and then pulled up. Bruce was in a daze as he looked up at Dick's perfect body, ready and taut for him. Dick grinned and pulled a tube from the bedside table.

Now, Bruce was shivering again. Dick had come prepared. Well, that was good. Except, that meant the anticipation was about to end and be realized.

Dick nudged Bruce to sit up a little against the headboard, turned, and leaned down, his bottom up practically in Bruce's face. Mouth watering, Bruce leaned down and kissed the round muscular flesh beneath him. Dick just shuddered, and spoke. "Ok, so, yeah, so this is the first step. Preparation."

Dick spread his legs out as much as he could, and moved one hand with greasy fingers into his crack. Bruce was enthralled, watching as Dick's fingers spread himself out, and circled the tiny pucker of flesh. Unbearably aroused, Bruce couldn't keep his hands off the round, delicious bottom, kneading the flesh. He eyed the pucker and then eyed his throbbing erection. "I don't think I'm going to fit in there..." his voice full of wonder.

Dick gasped a chuckle. "Don't underestimate the elasticity of the anal sphincter. Watch..." And with that, Dick slipped one finger into the hole. Bruce sucked in a breath, delighted as the hole seemingly swallowed the finger. A vision of the finger being replaced by his cock floating in front of his eyes, causing him to bend down and start kissing the muscular flesh reverently. Dick shook, then added a second finger. Gasping, a moment passing as he pushed the fingers as far in as he could, letting a soft moan escape. Bruce was beginning to lose higher cognitive functions.

"You... use your fingers, like I did..." Strange that Dick could issue orders in such a position, while so aroused.

But Bruce complied happily, after Dick clasped his hand, thus transferring the greasy lubricant. Bruce had never felt anything so odd in all his life, and if Dick wasn't making those noises that sent Bruce's brain on a magical mystery tour, he would think it was kind of disgusting. As it was, he was finding this the most exciting adventure he'd ever been on.

Suddenly, Dick moved forward and up, pulling away from Bruce's hand. "Now. Ready now." Dick's eyes were almost all black, and so so beautiful, Bruce barely noticed as Dick arranged his body, pulling Bruce down off the headboard, situating himself above Bruce, straddling him. Without warning, Dick set himself down on Bruce's erection, both of them nearly screaming with pleasure.

Bruce felt like he was on drugs, the heat surrounding him so intense it filled him. His hands drifting up Dick's powerful thighs and Dick's hands trailing over his chest... Dick's voice coaxing him, teasing him, taunting him, forcing him to focus, as if he could think about anything right now...

When Dick stilled, he wasn't sure what was going on, only that he was being denied something. Dick was panting, and gasping, and whispering something about control. Then, their eyes met, and Dick smiled. "Ready?"

"For... what?"

Dick's smile became almost... evil. Then, he actual spun on top of Bruce, never losing contact, keeping his legs on either side of Bruce's, positioning his arms, and then... before Bruce could figure out the how or the why, he found himself lying on his side, chest flush with Dick's back, Dick's leg slung over his, his arms wrapped around Dick, panting and heaving right into Dick's neck. The stars in his eyes were colors he had never dreamed of, and there was a wondrous pounding in his ears. Then, Dick's voice came to him, calling him. "My love, my Bat, just move..."

It was startling how easy it was to fall into this pattern. It seemed as if he had been put on this earth for the sole purpose of moving. One of Dick's hands came to rest on his hip, guiding him lightly, while the other took one of Bruce's hands and guided over Dick's chest and downward, their clasped hands grabbing Dick's cock and stroking it in time to their hips. Dick's head leaned back and they were kissing, and altogether there was too much sensory information for Bruce to process... He wanted to explode, visualized exploding, saw geysers bursting and volcanoes erupting...

With a grunt and a moan, suddenly, Dick was in motion again. He turned so that Bruce was flat on top of him, then somehow pivoted, so they were chest to chest, flat on Dick's back, on the bed. They were so close, and Dick's legs were hooked across Bruce's back, and Dick's cock was trapped between their sweaty bodies. Sweat was everywhere, pouring off of Bruce and onto Dick, and running rivers down Dick's temples and chest. Momentarily entranced by the motion of sweat across Dick's body, Bruce was totally unprepared for the kiss that came, turning all thought to ash.

The kiss was deeper and brighter than anything, it seemed like their whole bodies were kissing, like they were one body of two intermingled parts. They were moving again, as one, with their tongues and their dicks acting in perfect accord.

Their climax shook them both, cascading one after the other, with an intensity that actually left Bruce blind for a minute. Until he realized that his eyes were closed.

Touching and kissing continued until they had settled comfortably, wrapped around each other. After much time past, Bruce worked up the strength to speak. "That was... enjoyable."

Dick chuckled into Bruce's collarbone. "At least I'm not boring you..."

Bruce traced the contours of Dick's face gently, bringing blue eyes up to met blue eyes. "So, when do I get a turn to take a ride on your fabulous body?"

Soft smiles, so beautiful, so many different ones that lit up his face. Dick's smile now was so full of warmth and happiness, Bruce didn't know how to process it. "In the morning, lover, now we sleep."

As Dick was settling in to sleep, Bruce started sniffing the air around them. "Um, Dick? Shouldn't we wash up or something?"

"Nope. I love the smell of sweat and sex in the morning. Perfect thing to wake up to. I like the feeling of semen drying on my skin. Now, go to sleep, and dream of what you are going to do with me tomorrow."

Bruce couldn't really fault that logic, so he followed the instructions like a good little Bat, and slept better than he had in years.

Alfred was surprised to see the condition of the bed in the morning. Master Bruce was usually such a calm sleeper, and didn't usually sleep on his belly....

It took a moment for the elder gentleman to realize that there was more than one body in the bed, and that there were two heads, dipped together, both dark.

Hastily stepping out and readjusting his breakfast plans so that what he made would be ready to be eaten whenever the masters arrived to the table, Alfred felt his calm demeanor being sorely tested. He was familiar with homosexuality; in his old acting troupe in London, he had been good friends with Philip and Ty, who had been together for nearly 14 years. He knew that wasn't the problem.

He sighed to himself as he set about making muffins and scones. The problem was, as Master Dick had tried to elucidate, one of perception. For years, he had thought of his young masters as sons. Master Timothy was, perhaps, more closely akin to a grandson than son, but still. In his mind, Master Bruce and Master Dick were, well, brothers. To see them together these past months... Well, it had been very trying. And this morning...

Carefully setting aside the wave of nausea that assaulted him, Alfred staunchly set about remembering the happiness he had seen in Master Bruce these past months, the easy friendship and camaraderie that all three of his boys now shared, the sense of, well, peace that Bruce now carried.

Since taking up with Master Dick, Master Bruce had become more conscientious at the office, more approachable, a more complete person. And Master Dick, who had always been more stable, was finally grounded, a relief after years of worrying after the young master who had always suffered the misconception that he could fly, in all matters.

You knew this was going to happen, Alfred told himself, since the first date, you knew this was coming! How could you not have better prepared yourself?

Alfred berated himself, as he folded blueberries into the batter. For decades, old man, you've prayed for Master Bruce to find healing. Now, you are upset because of the method of his healing? Don't be so juvenile!

Pouring the batter into the cups of the pan, he set himself upright, and resolved to be very pleased with things indeed.

After all, if Master Dick could stop seeing Master Bruce as a father, and Master Bruce could stop seeing Master Dick as his responsibility, then surely, he could stop seeing them as siblings.

It was, after all, only a matter of perspective.