title: The Demon's Lover: Book and Bell
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Bruce, Dick/Jason
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Batman is out of town when Jason Blood comes a-callin', leaving Nightwing to fill in.
notes: this is the first of a three parter. this is also firmly in the animated series, as i've seen all the jason blood eps in the animated series, and can therefore feel comfortable writing him. as if that ever stopped me before... and if it helps anyone, just a reminder... in the batman ep with jason blood, billy zane was the voice of jason blood. rrar!
also, this is for sarah. ^_^ happy birthday, sarah-girl!! *snuggles*

There were times when being rich was a very, very good thing. Being able to jet off to the Greek islands for a weekend was a bonus. Never having to worry about the cold or hunger was a definite bonus. Staying on top of the latest advances in technology and entertainment was also nice.

There were disadvantages as well. Sipping warm champagne and listening to some pompous twit babble on for four hours about the horrors of dishonest household help was enough to make a good man want to do bad things.

Bruce wasn't even pretending to listen anymore, preferring instead to stare off into space while two or more females whose names he couldn't remember to save Gotham twittered at his elbow. It would feel so good to slam his knuckles into that jackass' face. The smallest of smiles twitched in the corners of his lips.

"Excuse me," Alfred's refined tones dissolved Bruce's fantasy, "I am sorry, Mr. Wayne, but you have a call on your emergency line." The perfect gentleman's gentleman offered Bruce his cell phone on a silver tray, appearing totally unaffected by the proceedings.

Bruce nearly sighed with relief. "Thanks, Alfred. I'm sorry, but you'll have to excuse me..." He barely acknowledged his 'peers' disappointed expressions.

Stepping out onto the balcony, Bruce checked the phone's display before answering. Seeing the number of Gotham's swankiest hotel, he made a mental list of all the possible people who could be calling him.


"Bruce! Old man, it's been ages since I've seen you. How are you?"

Bruce smiled, as the Batman simmered underneath the mask of gentility. "Jason Blood. It has been too long. I hope business is good?"

"Could be better. I missed my chance at an important find last week. In fact, that's why I'm in Gotham now. I was hoping that maybe you could help me... persuade someone to part with their newly acquired artifact? I'm staying at the usual place."

Batman snarled silently. Bruce only sighed, sounding vexed. "Jason, I would love to help you, you know that, but unfortunately..." Bruce eyed the outline of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. "I'm not in Gotham right now."

"Oh, no!" Jason sounded really disappointed, instead of the affected tone of friendly interest he had been using up to now.

Batman thought of something, and even though Bruce objected, he made the offer. "Actually, I have an associate in the area, though. He may be able to help you. He can be very... persuasive."

"Your young friend that you introduced me to the last time I was in town?" Jason sounded skeptical. "This might be a bigger job than he's up for."

"Oh, no, another associate. Trust me." Bruce leaned casually over the edge of the balcony. "He'll be able to handle whatever you throw at him."

Jason Blood waited on top of the Gotham Arms Hotel, just as he had arranged with Bruce. He'd been waiting for nearly a half an hour. He was sure he had been clear with Bruce that this was an emergency. Why was he even bothering to wait? Some sidekick was going to help him? The only reason he called Bruce, really, was that he knew he couldn't operate in Gotham with the Bat hanging over his shoulder. But with the Bat out of town, what harm could it do to fly solo, as it were?

If he had any clue how to start the search for the Book of Dread, he would have left the roof in a heartbeat.

"Jason Blood, I presume?"

The low voice took him completely by surprise, and that was a feat, as very little had taken him by surprise in the past millennia. What was even more surprising, however, was that even after he turned he couldn't locate the source.

"I presume Batman told you to expect me."

Jason whirled around once more, to find a young, somewhat surly-looking man standing on the ledge of the building, his feet half hanging off the side, his arms crossed over his chest. He was sleek, and agile, teetering gracefully on the edge as if that was where he was most comfortable. He had an attractive face, what was visible, and long, silky, black hair that fell neatly down his back.

Jason swallowed once, not bothering to consider how much time he had spent looking this Nightwing over. "Yes. You're late. I need you to help me find a book."

Nightwing sighed audibly. "I'm completely surprised that you and Batman are friends. All right, what book? Are you sure you shouldn't be trying Amazon.com?"

Jason didn't even bother acknowledging the sidekick's attempt at humor. "The Book of Dread is rumored to belong to Timus Longfetter, a collector of antiquities both rare and arcane. He is known to be a Gothamite, but he has been out of the loop of society for a long time, and his exact whereabouts are unknown."

Nightwing hopped lightly and silently off the ledge, using as little motion as possible to achieve his result. "And this Book of Dread...?"

Jason made a dismissive gesture. "The Book of Dread itself is unimportant. It is incomprehensible, written in an ancient demon tongue that is long dead. It is harmless, except for one thing."

If Nightwing was thrown by the phrase 'ancient demon tongue,' he certainly didn't show it. "And, naturally, that one thing is something that will bring untold harm to us all, right?"

"The Bell of Mnoncnic supposedly has the power to bring the pages of the Book of Dread to life. It was in the safekeeping of an old ally, but..."

"It was stolen?"

"He died. I did say an old ally. His great niece inherited it. I'm afraid..."

Nightwing sighed, turning his hand in a circular pattern to indicate his boredom with the exposition. "She's looking for the Book, will let out all the horrors trapped within, fire and brimstone will pour over the earth, blah blah blah... So. We need to locate this Timus Longfetter, then, is what you are saying."

Jason glared at Nightwing long enough to determine that the other man didn't care. As if a protégé of the Bat would flinch under a demon's glare... "Yes, that about sums it up."

Nightwing nodded, his shoulders slumping ever so slightly. "All right. And you know Bruce?" The question bordered on hesitant.

Jason smirked. "For longer than you've been alive."

Nightwing seemed slightly disappointed. "All right. Here." He moved to the side of building, looking down on the alley, 57 stories down, and stepped lightly up to the ledge. His right arm was extended to Jason, although the rest of his body was facing away.

Jason stared stupidly at the arm before taking one hesitant step forward. Looking from the arm to Nightwing's sleek, supple back, he sighed.

He stood up on the ledge, careful not to look down. No reason to give Etrigan any reason to get jittery... "You know, the building does have an elevator..."

Nightwing smirked, and Jason ignored the little rush that expression gave him. "If you want to take the slow ride down, old man, that's 100% cool by me, but personally? I like it fast."

Before Jason could even appropriately determine whether he was just being cheeky, or if he was making a pass, Nightwing had looped his arm around Jason's waist, and jumped off the edge.

They fell straight down, and the demon inside of him roared, nearly blocking out the screaming air rushing around Jason's ears. It was loud, and he could feel his skin trying to stay up on the roof, but...

There was also a rush, like pleasure on speed, and there was the body next to his, hard and confident. There was a total lack of sensation, as the fall was all Jason could feel, but there was a comfort in falling with someone who loved it.

And Nightwing did love it. Try as he might to pretend otherwise, there was an energy in his body that just sang of peace and happiness, as if this was his home.

Jason didn't even notice it when Nightwing lazily let out a line, but he did feel the jerk that came when the line pulled taut. Reflexively, he held on tighter to Nightwing, pressing his face against Nightwing's neck. Even if they weren't flying through the air at the speed of gravity, he wouldn't have been able to see the smirk on Nightwing's face with his face where it was.

They landed far more softly than Jason could have expected. While he tried to keep from toppling over ungracefully, Nightwing slipped away, disappearing into the shadows with the ease of a whisper. Jason decided that he would corner that young man and find out how he managed to appear to disappear so easily.

Thinking about cornering Nightwing was doing nothing for Jason's ability to keep his legs solid.

"Here." Nightwing rolled a midnight black motorcycle out smoothly. "Hop on. We need to get to a computer."

Jason took the proffered helmet reluctantly. He preferred to travel with several layers of protective material between himself and the pavement. He never could get used to these modern means of transportation...

Grumbling as he hefted himself onto the back of the bike, he put his hands on Nightwing's waist, griping tightly. For safety. "Do try to keep an old man in one piece, please."

Nightwing smiled, only slightly maliciously. "Old man, hm? Well, keep a good grip, then, gramps, here we go..."

Jason found himself wrapping his arms around Nightwing's waist, his whole body pressed against Nightwing's as they careened through the streets of Gotham. The young body in his arms was strong and lean, with a tight, flat stomach that seemed to slope to his groin, as if his body was designed to bring the eye and the hand to his...

Jason forced his eyes open, and banished all thoughts of Nightwing's firm, agile body. Demons, he reminded himself. He was there to prevent demons from being unleashed on the world.

They finally pulled into a garage, after seemingly heading straight for a wall at full speed. But Jason had, after over a millennium on the earth, perfected the art of appearing fine. Nightwing didn't even pretend to help Jason off the bike, although he did pause to remove Jason's hands from around his stomach.

Jason had also perfected the art of pretending not to care when someone held his hand for an unnecessary moment.

The space was gray and cool, and displayed a neatness that bordered on anal, given that it was a garage. Nightwing immediately headed to a wall, tapping a kanji painted on the wall. Jason exercised his memory, translating it as the Chinese symbol for fear.

A touch surprising, but still, it made sense.

Another panel on the wall slid down, revealing a monitor and a keyboard, which extended out automatically. Nightwing began typing before the keyboard fully came out.

"Timus Longfetter... Hrm... and lets throw in the Book of Dread while we're at it... Hm. Interesting. There's no listing for a Timus Longfetter in any directory, renter's listings, or property owners database.... But, there is a bank account. Let's see... it's a joint account. Let's take a look at a Ms. Granger, then. Ah. Well. Jackpot. She has three addresses to her name: two here in Gotham, a small townhouse, and a penthouse in the MacDougall building, very tony, and a beach house fifteen miles north. Well. Ah, a listing with the Gotham Numinous Society for the Book of Dread and Timus Longfetter. Seems he allowed the Society to show reproductions of the Book for a fund raiser."

Jason waited patiently as Nightwing flew through the search. The young man had a certain... intensity to him that was reminiscent of Batman, but there was an ease to his manner that was completely different than the Bats'. There was no other human as well trained and suited to his purpose than Batman, but it always seemed to Jason that Bruce wore the mantle of the Bat like a yoke. But Nightwing worked as if he were made for this purpose. Even hunched over a computer terminal, his fingers dancing over the keyboard, his brow furrowed slightly as he sifted through all the information, he appeared totally at ease in his skin.

Jason cleared his throat as he considered that skin, before promptly setting those thoughts aside.

"Well, it is probable that Timus is using an aide to handle his financial affairs, and to maintain his privacy."

Nightwing nodded tightly. "Right. Best guess... MacDougall Building. That place is built like a fortress, and promises all of its tenants complete security." Nightwing leaned back, holding his chin between his forefinger and thumb as his other hand took hold of his elbow. "That won't be easy to break into. I don't suppose you could get in through the front door?"

Jason blinked. "Er, well, I have some spells, but I think it might be risky. It might alert anyone in the area that uses magic that I'm here, and I don't really know Longfetter well. He might have countercharms set up to protect his collection."

Nightwing paused, before smiling. "Actually, I was thinking that you could, you know, knock, say hi... use those other charms of yours, keep the security and staff busy while I steal the Book."

Jason blinked. Twice. And then the corner of his lips quirked. "Good plan. You think fast."

Nightwing's eyes flicked over Jason's body from head to toe and back again. "I'm fast when I need to be... Now let's get going."

The MacDougall Building was a deceptively nondescript high rise in the middle of Gotham's older Park District. Stately and discreet, the building offered the perfect home for some of Gotham's wealthiest and most private citizens.

Ms. Granger had the west penthouse, so Nightwing was waiting on the nearest rooftop, scoping out the security in the building. He had already pulled up the schematics on the computer, but he also needed to check out the arrangements in person. He was pretty sure there was a weakness, but a mistake could end up being very tricky to untangle.

Meanwhile, Jason was making his way in through the front door. A simple spell was all that was needed to get the doorman to let him in the private elevator for the west penthouse. He spent the long ride up purposefully not thinking about Nightwing, and how he was doing breaking into Longfetter's library, and how the muscles in his back flowed when he moved.

He didn't want to give up the game by acting suspiciously.

At the door to the penthouse, he was met by a very efficient-looking young woman with small glasses with elongated octagonal lenses. She wore a pursed expression, and kept her small hands flat at her sides. She stood precisely in the middle of the front door.

"Can I help you?"

Jason decided not to waste smiles on her, and got straight to the point. Hopefully, he could be persistent enough to give Nightwing the time he needed. "My name is Jason Blood. I'm here to see Timus Longfetter regarding the Book of Dread."

The woman blinked once, before recollecting herself. "I'm sorry, Mr. Blood, but you must have the wrong address. There's no Timus Longfetter here."

"I'm sorry, miss, I don't usually barge in on friends like this, but I really do need to speak to Timus. You see, my friend Jorge, who had in his possession the Bell of Mnoncnic, has passed away, and his niece Deborah now has it in her possession. I wish to talk to Timus about the book to be sure that it is still safe."

The young woman smiled a tad bit unpleasantly. "I can assure you, Mr. Blood, that there is no Timus Longfetter in this residence, so it really doesn't matter what you need to discuss with him."

Jason smiled at her unpleasantly. "I don't think your employer would appreciate it if you turned me away. I'm only here to help."

She smiled back at him completely unpleasantly. "I don't have an employer, Mr. Blood. And I don't appreciate you using your parlor tricks on my doorman to gain access to my penthouse. Now, leave quietly, or I'll be forced to call the police."

"Parlor tricks?" Jason scoffed. "I'm sorry, miss, but you clearly have no idea what you are getting yourself involved in."

She stood a little taller. "I'm well aware of who you are, Jason Blood, and what you have inside of you, and might I add that I am not impressed. Your assistance is neither accepted nor desired. You will leave the premises now, or face the consequences."

Jason was ready to retaliate with his own veiled threat, when a loud crash from inside interrupted him.

Jason pushed passed the woman, and soon they were both running up the stairs to the sounds of a fight. A bright blast of energy illuminated the stairs, and Jason leapt up to the landing.

Nightwing had the book crooked in his arm, but his other hand was occupied with trying to stave off the pygmy boar people that were swarming around him. From the window, Jason could only just make out the silhouette of a figure, but it was enough.

Placing his fingers together in a triangular pattern, he started to chant in ancient Sumerian. The energy building up within his fingers was hard to contain, but he held on until he had built up enough to blast all the pygmies into dust.

Nightwing scuttled quickly closer to him, but the figure from the window growled, and jumped into the middle of the room.

It was an avatar, and a powerful one from the looks of it. Patterned after an Egyptian sphinx, the avatar held a staff made of old wood, with an onyx stone at the top.

Jason prepared his next incantation. Clearly, Deborah was behind this. The young woman had always been fascinated with ancient Egypt. Aiming his blast for the onyx, he dove forward to shield Nightwing with his body as he blasted the avatar.

The stone trembled, and for a moment it seemed that it would survive. Small cracks of light appeared at first, and then the cracks widened until the entire stone was traced with light. When the stone did burst, the avatar screamed for a moment before vanishing without a trace.

Jason took the moment of calm afterwards to assess Nightwing's condition. This seemingly required him to lay his hands on Nightwing in various places. It was necessary.

"I'm fine." Nightwing shifted the book forward, not making any motion to move or to evade Jason's hands. His voice was deep and throaty, and Jason let his hands rest for a moment on Nightwing's sides.

A gasp broke their reverie. "Behind you!"

But it was too late. From the shadows, Deborah melted into view, snatching the book away too fast for anyone to do anything about it. With a triumphant cackle, she swept away toward the window.

Jason jumped up and prepared another incantation, but before he could, Deborah lashed out with a sachet of powder aimed at Nightwing. The ensuing explosion provided the cover she needed to jump away.

Nightwing was on his feet before Jason could lend him a hand. "Smoke and mirrors... this is exactly why my father told me to never trust magicians. Can we follow her?"

Jason went to the window. He couldn't see her, but he also couldn't sense any trails of magic. Which meant that... "I can track her. But..."

The young woman from the door inched closer. "What is going on here? Who was that woman?"

Nightwing regarded her for a moment. "We apologize, Ms. Granger. Your uncle must have told you about the Book of Dread and the Bell of Mnoncnic. That woman has both, now."

Ms. Granger fidgeted for a moment, which looked very odd on her. "Mr. Blood... you should go after them. My uncle... was very specific about the dangers."

Jason swallowed nervously, which was silly, really. After all, he was in Gotham for this purpose, and he couldn't let vanity get in the way of stopping Deborah.

Closing his eyes before he lost his nerve, Jason intoned, his voice gaining volume with each word, "Gone! Gone, the form of man! Rise the demon, Etrigan!!"

Jason was never quite sure what other people saw as the demon took possession of his body, but he found himself considering it for the first time in a long time. The demon sneered as it rose, and Jason futilely attempted to cling to some vestiges of control as he slipped into the background.

The demon was expressing far too much interest in Nightwing.

Etrigan stretched out, barely taking a moment to look over his surroundings before he was at the window and in pursuit of the witch. Nightwing blinked twice before turning to the imperturbable Ms. Granger. "Well. It appears as if we are off. We'll try to get your book back."

"Don't worry about the book." She graced him with a tight smile. "Just get that bitch."

Nightwing smiled in return before giving chase.

It wasn't easy keeping up with the demon. For the most part, the only way Nightwing could track him was through the noise. It's not easy for a 400-lb demon to traipse lightly through the rooftops. Still, he couldn't get any closer than four blocks behind the demon, and only kept up by pushing himself to the extreme.

It was a little frightening how much he loved it.

Forty city blocks later, Nightwing caught up with Deborah and the demon Etrigan, already deeply engaged in battle. Deborah had a few other avatars, which Etrigan was dispatching with inimitable style. Nightwing decided not to spend too much time watching the demon. Instead, he focused on Deborah.

She was frantically pulling something out of a case, something dark and stone-ish looking, which Nightwing correctly guessed was the Bell. The Book was already on a little platform, open.

Nightwing pushed air out between his teeth, annoyed. They were on the roof of the Gotham Central Library, pretty much smack dab in downtown Gotham. This was not an ideal location for a fight involving the minions of hell.

He dove quickly for the witch, but she caught sight of him just in time to repel him with a quick spell. At this point, she had the bell set up, using one of her avatars to hold it in place next to the book. She pulled out a long, black shillelagh, wielding it like a baseball bat.

Cursing violently, not quite under his breath, Nightwing pulled out a 'rang, trying to knock the rod out of her hands. Again, she was able to deflect him. With a sharp exclamation that sounded approximately like 'Skkreet!' she called one of her avatars away from Etrigan to engage Nightwing.

Etrigan growled, sparing Nightwing an annoyed glare. "Fool! You should have stayed out of the way!"

"Sorry," Nightwing mutter as he flipped out of the way of the avatar's claws. "But I hate missing a party."

The deep, bone-chilling toll of the bell froze the blood of both demon and man and turned the avatars into stone. Etrigan and Nightwing had only a second to take stock before the book spilled out its horrors.

Black miasma rolled out of the open book in thick coils, almost masking the creatures that were clawing their way out the opening of the book. Dimly, Nightwing was aware that the bell was still reverberating, though the sound was too low for him to hear anymore. Most of his attention was fixed on the black scales and foot-long fangs covered in filth and what might have been blood.

Etrigan looked from the book to Nightwing and back again before making up his mind. Leaping over to the young vigilante's side, he scooped him up in one quick motion and carried him off, leaping from one roof to the next, carrying Nightwing above and away from the fight.

Despite his size, the demon moved very quickly, so Nightwing didn't have a chance to protest until Etrigan placed him down on the fire escape, fifteen stories up and two blocks away from the library rooftop. Even then, he wasn't able to be very articulate.


Etrigan sniffed the air around Nightwing, starting at about his thighs until his nose was at Nightwing's eyes. "Stay here." He then leaped back toward the fight.

Nightwing stood still for precisely 49 seconds. "Did he just... sniff me? And why am I talking to myself?" Shaking his head, he jumped off the fire escape, opening the wing flaps under his arms right away so that he could glide to the library rooftop.

He landed softly on the roof across the street from the library, focusing the lenses in his mask so that he could see what was going on without straining. Etrigan was containing the demons, and the miasma was no longer pouring out of the book, so apparently the bell had stopped ringing. Deborah stood back, laughing manically as the demons preyed upon Etrigan. Several of the creatures had sunk their long fangs into Etrigan's flesh, and others were clawing at his eyes so that Etrigan had to keep his eyes closed for protection.

Deborah continued to laugh, pausing briefly to threaten Etrigan with more horrors occasionally, and also to make broad boasts about swallowing the world whole or some such nonsense.

Nightwing shook his head, and pulled out a special 'rang, setting up the timer in its explosive device.

Etrigan threw off some of the creatures chewing happily on his leg and roared, leaping toward Deborah even with some demons still clinging to him. The witch cheerfully threw him off with a spell, her eyes gleaming with madness and power.

Nightwing threw off a line, swinging over to the library roof lightly. Deborah saw him coming just a second before he threw his 'rang, and redirected him with a casual flick of her wrist and a muttered curse. He went in one direction, and the 'rang went in another, and for a moment, it seemed like he was going to go rolling off the side of the building, but Etrigan was at his side in a miraculously short time span, grabbing his waist to keep him from falling.

The demon's thick arms were wrapped tightly around Nightwing for an uncomfortably long moment before Nightwing wriggled free.

The 'rang whizzed harmlessly past Deborah, who smirked triumphantly. She hefted up the shillelagh up again, taking her time as she prepared to ring the bell once again. She paused dramatically, savoring the moment as she grinned at Etrigan and Nightwing, enjoying their defeat.

Which gave the 'rang, which had bounced off the stoplights with unerring precision, time to come back and hit the stand on which the Book of Dread rested.

Three high-pitched, short beeps, and the 'rang's explosive device was fully charged. The explosion threw Deborah off to the edge of the building, and knocked down the avatar holding the Bell of Mnoncnic, disintegrating it. The bell hit the ground hard, cracking it.

The book was consumed in the fire that followed the explosion.

Deborah had just enough control of her consciousness to scream out a useless, "Noooooo!"

Etrigan snarled, leaving Nightwing to go to her and take both her wrists in one hand. The demons that had crawled out of the book died with it, and the last vestiges of Deborah's witchcraft dissipated.

The ending felt vaguely anticlimactic, after the long chase and brief but exhilarating battle.

"Witch!" Etrigan cursed, his face contorted in an expression of vulgar disgust. "Back to where you once were held, back to the land of sorrows cold, back you go and forever more, back to where you will harm no more!"

A bright red circled swirled around Deborah's feet, before swallowing her, taking her away.

Nightwing glared uncertainly at the only demon left. "What did you do to her?"

Etrigan grunted through his nose, making a sound reminiscent of a bull. "She has been banished to the land of Cronos, where time stands still and those of magic are punished for their misuse of their power." Etrigan considered, and then turned to the young vigilante. "What did you think, that I had killed her? You aren't that much different than your mentor after all."

Nightwing's spine froze, but he refused to show the demon his displeasure. "And is Jason Blood still inside of you, or has he been sent away too?"

The demon was clearly disgruntled with that question, but instead of replying, he simply threw his head back and swore to the sky, "Return, thou wretched man!"

Just as he had disappeared, Jason returned, appearing no worse for the wear.

Nightwing took this moment to pause and take stock of the evening. He had been working out in the cave, minding his own business, perhaps teasing Tim a little, but that was part of being a big brother, when he got a call from Bruce, got suited up to meet one someone who had come to town looking for the Bat, stopped an armed bank robbery on his way to some Jason Blood, of whom he had never heard before, got pulled into some light b & e, got ambushed, went on a wild demon chase, got sniffed, and now he was on a roof with a suave, debonair friend of Bruce's with a demon inside of him, and all he had to show for the night was a demon's word that the bad guy was put away nicely.

Smirking, Nightwing asked Jason, "Need a lift back to your hotel?"

Everything Jason was about to say got choked in his throat, and for a moment all he could do was blink. Well, he was smiling too, but he was almost positive that he wasn't in control of that.

"Sure. Beats taking the train." Jason smoothed back the single hair that was out of place, and put his arm out so that Nightwing could take him by the waist.

Throwing out a line, Nightwing turned his face a fraction of an inch closer to Jason's, so that his lips were nearly brushing against Jason's jaw. "You don't want to take the train at this hour. All kinds of freaks there..."

Jason found himself laughing out loud as the air rushed around him, and they swung from one rooftop, window ledge, or lamppost to the next. Nightwing's arm around his waist was strong and tight, and their bodies were pressed against each other from their shoulders all the way down...

He tried to remind himself that he had millennia on the boy holding him. He tried to remind himself that he was cursed, and that cursed people did not flirt with young, virile young men. He tried to remind himself that he had spent centuries purging himself of the sexual desires that had proved to be his downfall.

He tried, but Nightwing was so close, he smelled like the air in the forest plus a hint of axle grease, he skin was smooth and muscular, and his smile was enchanting.

They landed on the roof of the hotel gracefully as one, Nightwing retracting his line with one hand.

Neither man made a move to separate for long past the time in which they needed to be holding onto each other.

Clearing his throat, Jason took himself severely to task. He pulled away from Nightwing abruptly, violently shaking his head. He could not allow himself to think like this. If for no other reason, then there was always the fact that Nightwing was Batman's son, for cripes sake!

"Thank you," Jason spoke formally, not quite looking at Nightwing. "Your assistance was invaluable. I'm make sure to thank Batman for the recommendation."

Nightwing crouched down so that he could rest his elbow on his knee, perched on the edge of the ledge like the thinker gone extreme. "Oh, a good rec to my boss, how nice."

Jason stopped short, grinding his teeth until he was almost certain that he wouldn't have any teeth left. "I'm sorry. I'm not good at social situations."

Nightwing smirked, looking up at Jason from under his bangs. "Ah, well, that will make asking me out difficult, then, won't it?"

"Excuse me?" Jason's spine turned to electricity, and he tried to force himself to look away, but how could he? He had to face Nightwing.

The smirk was only getting more wicked with each passing second. "Don't worry, I understand. I'll coach you through it. You start out by telling me that you had fun tonight."

"You really are cocky, aren't you?" Despite himself, Jason was grinning back, feeling his blood pump as his heart pounded a little.

Nightwing raised his eyes to wink at Jason. "You know my name, don't you?"

Jason paused for a second, thinking about what Bruce had told him about his young partner. Then it hit him.

His laughter brought Nightwing out of the crouch, stretching a little as he did, before he took a few steps toward Jason. "After you tell me how much you enjoyed my company tonight, you ask me if I have plans for tomorrow night."

Jason threw up his last defense. "Aren't you a little... freaked out? You saw my curse. And after everything we went through tonight... You know the kind of life I lead."

Nightwing shrugged, and somehow was able to be impossibly sexy as he did. "My father was Rom. He always told me to distrust the practitioners of magic. But... He wasn't right about everything. And, on the other side of the coin, after everything we've been through tonight, you know what kind of life I lead."

"Touché." Jason's voice was low and husky, and he crossed his arms over his chest, protectively.

Nightwing took another step, breaching Jason's personal space slightly. "Then, you suggest dinner. Now, given that you've got a swanky room in one of the classiest hotels in Gotham, I would suggest Nobu. Getting a reservation might be tricky, but fortunately, I have a connection, so I can take care of that. You would ask me if eight sounded good..."

Nightwing took one final step, placing himself just a breath away from Jason. He leaned up on his toes to make up for the two inches difference in their heights, as he inched closer and closer to Jason's face, his eyes shut, and all Jason could think was, please.

Closing the distance, Nightwing just touched their lips together, barely kissing. When he moved away, he was still close enough that their noses were touching. "And I would say eight sounds perfect. I'll pick you up here."

Jason just stood there, eyes unblinking, watching the vigilante jump off the edge of the building with nothing more than a wink and wave as he went.

"Batman is going to kill me. It might be worth it." Jason shook his head, smiling slowly. "...Why am I talking to myself?"

Timus Longfetter was the only name i could come up with for the keeper of the book. his name is inspired by a character from Harry Potter.

Ms. Granger's name is right out of Harry Potter. because coming up with a name for the bell sucked all the creativity out of me. ^_~

i used the name Deborah because i was watching the anime Trouble Chocolate while writing her first scene. that show is so hilarious...

a shillelagh is an Irish walking stick. snort well, it is a walking stick, but instead of being smoothed wood, it is just a lacquered stick, with all the knobs and pointy ends left on. so, while it is a walking stick, it does have other uses as well...

Nobu is the restaurant where Iron Chef Japanese Morimoto Masaharu used to be head chef. It's in New York, actually, but let's face it, Gotham is just retro New York anyway. ^_~

Jason blood is 6', Dick Grayson is 5'10''. i looked it up. ^_^