title: Incidentals: First
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Dick/Tim, Dick/Joey, Tim/Kon
rating: Teen
warnings: sexual content
summary: Afterglow leads to story time for Dick and Tim.
notes: none

Afterwards, they were never able to let go right away.

Neither of them wanted to roll over and sleep, or go to the bathroom, or get something to eat, or clean up. They just wanted to keep holding each other, kissing and touching. Occasionally, this lead to more, but most nights, they just continued in what Dick affectionately called their 'cool-down' period until they fell asleep, to wake the next morning uncomfortably stuck to each other with all kinds of cramps.

Tim kissed the line of Dick's collarbone with reverence, his brain buzzed on the feeling of hot, sweaty skin beneath him. It made him dizzy sometimes, being with Dick. They had been together long enough now that it was no longer funny to find themselves naked together, and long enough to find themselves naked together quite often.

It was so much sometimes, that Tim thought he wouldn't be able to handle it.

He wanted more.

"Tell me a story."

A soft chuckle that made the chest under his lips rumble. "Am I putting you to bed, now?"

"Why not?"

"What kind of story?"

"A happy one."

"I don't know many of those."

"Ha ha. Tell me everything about yourself."

"Timmy, you know everything about me." Dick's smile was something that you could hear from a block away.

"No, I don't. Tell me about your first kiss."

"Girl or boy?"

"You kissed a girl once?" Tim had to laugh at him, whenever he could.

"Yeah. And I'm still scarred emotionally."

"Well, that at least is true... Well, tell me about whichever came first."

The circus was nearly empty, the field which served as the parking lot was just open space again. Dickie turned cartwheel after cartwheel, just loving the feel of the mud between his fingers. He couldn't believe it! His mom had finally let him do the show without a net, just like dad and her! It was so neat, being up there, nothing to break their fall, with all those people, gasping and cheering! He felt like he was riding a giant wind, carrying him above everything. It was the bestest night ever!

If only they would have let him go to the party with the rest of the big performers afterwards. But no, it was get washed up and go to bed son, it's another big day tomorrow. Well, it was still a big night tonight. And Dickie knew that his parents never got back to the trailer before midnight. That meant that he had another hour to play in the mud before he had to get washed up and pretend to sleep.

Dickie couldn't help thinking that playing in the night was a lot more fun than playing in the day.

He didn't even notice the girl until he practically jumped on top of her.

"Oh! Sorry, I didn't see you there! Did I scare you?" She looked like a local girl, definitely not from the circus. Dickie was careful to keep his distance. Local people could be friendly, or they could be really not friendly. His dad had told him that some people were afraid of circus people, but that didn't make sense. Dickie just thought that an awful lot of people who didn't live in a circus weren't very nice.

"No. You really do that well. I saw you perform tonight. You were awesome!" She grinned at him, shyly. Dickie smiled and leaned closer. She wasn't a bad person. He could tell.

"Thanks! I had a really great time! My name is Dickie, what's yours?"

The girl blushed, it looked like, and bowed her head down. "Kara. Were you scared, without a net?" She sounded scared just thinking about it.

"Nah. We practice all the time." It was too dark to get a really good look at her, but Dickie could see her fidgeting and blushing. Girls were so weird; what was she so nervous about?

"Kara! Dammit, Kara, get over here now!" The voice was from fairly far away, sounding annoyed like his mom would sound if Dickie went to play with the elephants right before dinner and didn't come out in time to wash up.

"Oh, sounds like you better go." He sounded sad, and he was. He didn't get much chance to be with kids his age. It was the only thing he didn't completely love about being with the circus.

"Yeah, but..." Kara sounded really nervous, and started fidgeting more. Suddenly, she sprung forward and grabbed Dickie's collar, dragging him close to her, putting her mouth on top of his.

After a second and a loud smacking noise, she broke away, running away as fast as she could. "Bye, Dickie, it was really really great meeting you."

Dickie watched her run away, stunned.

Girls were so weird.

"And how old were you then?"

"I dunno. Eight? Nine?"

Tim sighed, and placed his forehead on his lover's chest. "Typical," he muttered under his breath. "First boy, then?"

Every part of his body was sore from rehearsal that day. His dad and he were perfecting Dick's quadruple somersault and it was taking a long time. And a lot of falls.

Everyone was lining up for dinner. Dick didn't really feel very hungry, but Jake was there.

Jake was with the carny they had joined up with. His father operated and assembled a few rides. Jake was three years older than Dick, with shaggy, dirty hair and a penchant for flinging little rocks and bouncing them off of stuff to hit people. His mom really didn't like Jake, but Dick did.

Jake had a sympathetic smile on his face before Dick even had the chance to whine. "Tough rehearsal, huh?"

Dick grinned back at him. "Can ya tell?"

"Well, you are limping... and you didn't even bother to change!"

Dick looked down at his tight nylon sweatpants, and tank. He was filthy, and sweaty. "Eh, who cares?" He grinned up at Jake, and was a little thrown by the expression on his face. He looked like he was concentrating really hard, staring down at Dick's clothes.

He eyes snapped up to meet Dick's, and he grinned. "You know what you need? A swim. C'mon!"

"What about dinner?" Dick was confused; they had just sat down.

"Can't swim if you just ate. We'll bring it with. C'mon!"

So Dick obediently followed the older boy, carrying his plate and cup. His mom had tried to catch his eye before they left, but he had kept his head down.

When they got to the little river, Dick was even less sure then when they had left the circus. "But, Jake, we don't have swimsuits..."

Jake just laughed, pulling his shirt off. "Are you a prude, Dickie? C'mon, just strip, and we'll have a quick swim. It'll be refreshing."

"The water doesn't look very clean..." Dick eyed the brownish water dubiously.

"Man, for a circus brat, you really are fussy." Jake's teasing eventually got Dick moving. That, and now Jake was naked. Dick felt weird, one of them being clothed and the other not, so he started to take his clothes off too. Jake watched, keeping his head facing the water to give the younger boy the illusion that he wasn't watching.

They both jumped into the water, trying to make the biggest splash. The water was cold, but not frigid. Jake had been right, it was refreshing. It would have been better for his sore muscles if the water had been warmer, but is wasn't like the circus had a jacuzzi or anything. Have to make do with what you had.

After a while, they got tired of horsing around in the water, and slipped out to eat. Jake laughed when Dick started to get dressed right away, but he reluctantly followed suit. Cold from the water, they huddled close together to eat.

Jake was unusually quiet. He normally would be a non-stop chatterbox, talking about the rubes they had seen that day, and funny things his dad had done, and stuff from other places they had been. They watched the moon rise over the treetops, as the light in the sky gently died away, leaving the darkness to stay.

"Look, a shooting star. Make a wish." Dick wasn't sure why he was whispering. Probably because Jake was so close.

Jake looked down at Dick, until Dick's bright blue eyes turned up to see him. Dick was going to make a joke, until he noticed how serious Jake looked. Then, Jake bent his head down. Dick thought he was going to whisper something back, but instead the other boy just kissed him.

It wasn't like when some silly girl came up to him and kissed him, or when he kissed some girl on a dare. Dick actually enjoyed it quite a bit.

"Dick! Son, where are you? It's getting dark!" Jake scooted away from him before his dad broke through the trees to the riverbank. When John Grayson did find his son, sitting next to the river with that carny boy, soaking wet and looking guilty, he fixed the older boy with a stern glare. "C'mon son, it's dark and you still have studies to finish. Otherwise, we'll have to postpone practice tomorrow."

His dad was still glaring at Jake. "Ok, Dad, sorry I was late. Coming, Jake?" Dick just ignored the way his dad was staring at Jake. He didn't understand why his parents distrusted the carny people so much. True, many of them didn't really have great dental hygiene. Maybe that was why his mom didn't like them much, but...

Walking back, Dick and Jake let John get ahead of them as much as they could. Jake would occasionally let his hand come up to brush Dick's as they walked.

Dick didn't care what his parents thought. He liked Jake.

"And let me guess. You were eleven then?"

"How'd you know?"

"And you didn't think anything of that, didn't make you think that you were gay."

"Well. I was eleven. It was just kissing."

"Did you kiss him a lot?"

"Yeah, we'd go out at night and kiss sometimes. But he was only there that summer, and mom and dad really didn't like him."

"Can you blame them??"

"Well, no, but at the time I didn't understand..."

"So typical..."

"What about you?"


"Your first kiss?"

Tim riffled through the texts and notebooks in front of him, overwhelmed.

"We are never going to be done. What was Hinckleman thinking? Practically everyone in that class is in Honors Physics! He knew there was a test! Why would anyone fling a surprise term paper at his class?" Tim's brow was furrowed, as he tried to organize his English and Physics notes, too flustered to really know what should go where.

Ariana sighed. "It'll be fine, Tim. Jeez, you've got a what, 97.9% average? I think you'll survive this..."

"We are never gonna be done in time. Man, there's just no time..." Tim fretted. He was finally starting to get into the groove with Batman, but just when his training was reaching a point where it seemed like Bruce would trust him, his 'real' life was getting chaotic. And he was more than a little afraid that if Bruce saw any sign that Tim couldn't perfectly handle both, he would take Robin away.

Ariana laughed silently to herself. Always the way with this boy... "You know, Tim, when I invited you over for a study date, I didn't think that you would take me so literally..."

"We should start by making an outline for this damn paper. Once we have that out of the way, we'll have a better idea where to focus our energies. Do you have that poetry book?"

Ariana picked up the book before Tim could spot it. Holding it behind her back, she leaned in until Tim looked up, ready to ask her something. She kissed him, quickly, letting her lips touch his for a good long moment.

"Here. And you are right, the outline is the first place to start."

She nestled down, getting ready to study. With a wicked smile, she looked up at the dazed Tim Drake, until he settled down again too.

His brow wasn't furrowed anymore.

He went through the motions of organizing and studying, wondering why she had kissed him and whether she would want to do it again.

"Aw, that's so cute!"


"No, really, you and your little girlfriend, studying..."

"Well, we can't all be seduced by fans or pervert carnies..."

Dick giggled, kissing the base of Tim's neck reverently. "True, true. I'm so lucky!"

Tim sighed a smile, running his fingers through the sweaty mass of dark hair under his chin.

"So, that was your first kiss, how about the first time you kissed a boy?"

"I thought that you were telling the stories."

"We're sharing. I told two, now you have to. Then I'll go again."

"Fine. Baby."

Tim gently swabbed the bleeding cut with a wet paper towel. He knew how much the cut must hurt, and how the cold water would both feel good and bad. The younger boy was still shaking, holding on to the edge of the sink, his thin fingers wrapped so tightly around the porcelain that Tim thought they would break.

The bathroom was in a pretty dead part of the school, and it was during a class period, so the chances of anyone coming in were slim, but Joshua still watched the bathroom door with the nervous concentration of cornered prey.

"It's going to be ok, Josh. Those guys... just ignore them, and imagine them working at the Kwik-E-Mart when they are 40." Tim tried to make his voice sound soothing, but he was still so angry.

"Joshua." His voice was as frail and weak as he was. Clearing his throat, he started again. "My name, it's Joshua."

Tim smiled, inwardly groaning. Poor kid, he wasn't going to have an easy time at school. He was effeminate and bookish, walking around like a frightened mouse all the time. "Joshua. My name's Tim."

Joshua blushed slightly. "I know."

"Anyway, I think you'll be ok. Just take it easy and watch those bruises. Keep your face clean, and everything will be fine." What a liar, Tim thought to himself, but what else could he say? Look, Josh, either you gotta butch up or get some girl to be a beard for you cuz otherwise, you're screwed...

"Thanks. Um," Joshua's eyes fell to the tile, "Why... why'd you help me? There were four guys around me, you coulda gotten hurt."

Tim met Joshua's eyes, so big and bright green, so full of pain and hope... "I... well, I'm not the kind of guy that can just walk by stuff like that." He shrugged and grinned, trying to make light of it.

Joshua blushed, a beautiful glow coloring his fair and smooth skin. Then, he leaned in and kissed Tim right on the mouth, so quick that Tim barely knew it had happened.

Bright red and too afraid to look even near Tim, Joshua leapt up and ran out of the bathroom. Tim just leaned back against the sink and sighed. Life never was going to get any easier, he thought.

Stepping out of the bathroom, he nearly knocked over Ariana. "Hey! What's up? I heard Kevin Tyler and his thugs were whaling on some freshman and you stopped them?" Her dark eyes were suspicious and afraid. Tim just shrugged. "It was no big deal."

"Are you all right?" She was really watching him now.

"Yeah. Why?"

"I don't know. You look... guilty."

"I... what do I have to be guilty about?"

She watched him for another minute, and then rolled her eyes. "Timothy, if you are going to apologize for missing dinner last week again you can forget it!"

"But Ari..." Tim felt his face go red as he tried to follow his girlfriend.

Nope, it never would get easier.

"My hero."

"Behave yourself."

Dick nibbled Tim's ear. "Don't wanna..."

"Mm, ok, your story time. Your first time?"

"I told you that story before, Timmy..."

"Oh, right. Mm, well, uh, hm, yeah... Ok, then, the first time someone kissed you and totally swept you off your feet..."

Dick pulled up to look Tim in the eye. Tim's eyes were so wondrous to him, they were so open and full of love... He had to wonder at his detective skills sometimes, knowing that all of that was always there and he never saw it before.


Tim's grin faded to a near-smile at the serious tone in Dick. He knew what was coming, really, right from that.

But he wanted to hear it from his lover's lips.

With equal sincerity, he said, "Yes."

Dick had to seriously stomp down the desire to turn his back. Joey always got that frustrated, hurt look when people turned their backs on him. Dick hated that look. But he felt like he was going to crawl out of his skin.

"Joey, look, I'm sorry, I am, but this... It can't work. You can see that, surely? We're teammates, friends, we depend on each other, and others depend on us. We just can't... I mean, there are repercussions. We shouldn't just leap into this, we have to think of the Titans first." It wasn't as eloquent as Dick was hoping, but he figured it would do the job.

He didn't expect Joey to break out in an ear-to-ear grin.

Frowning, Dick tried to figure out what was going on. Was Joey not interested in him?

Before he could speak again, though, Joey just shook his head, nearly laughing, and waved Dick's hands out of the way. He grabbed Dick's face and kissed him, passionately.

For the first few seconds, Dick was so stunned he couldn't move. Then, he was almost ready to resist, when the sweet taste of Joey touched his tongue. It was only a few moments later that they were tearing at each other, trying to find flesh with frantic hands. Dick pushed his hand down the back of Joey's pants and felt his whole body go on fire.

They were in the bedroom within minutes, clothes flung to the far corners, and consumed enough in the inferno they were concocting to begin to really explore.

Dick felt parts of his brain overload, dizzy with joy. He hadn't known sex could be like this, never was like this before, the want and the need and the desire focused and inflamed by the...


Joey's kisses were intoxicating, his skin divine, his hands...

Man, Joey had good hands!

It was hours later, the sheets destroyed and their bodies getting cold as the sweat evaporated off of their skin, that Dick remembered that he thought that this wasn't a good idea.

Turning to Joey, he grinned. "I'm not the brightest of bulbs, am I?"

Joey smiled, content and tired. He signed back,

That's ok. You have a really great ass. You'll do.

Tim loved feeling aroused when he was physically spent. It was like the sensation that was normally focused in his groin was dissipated through his whole body. His sensual lover, being swept away by his friend...

"That. Was a really great story. Wow, you and Joey must have..."


Tim cradled Dick, holding him to his chest. "Do you... ever think about..."

"No." Dick's voice had a strangely final way. "I don't think about that, or how things would have been if my parents had lived, or what it would have been like if Babs hadn't been shot... It's just a waste of time."

Tim grinned. "Most people say that and then think about it anyway."

Dick grinned against the skin of Tim's chest, hugging himself closer to the heat of the younger man's body. "Yeah, well, I'd be holding up a cell in Arkham if I let myself give into those thoughts, so..."

With a kiss to the top of Dick's head, Tim whispered, "I love you."

Dick kissed Tim's chest in return, murmuring into the flesh. He looked up with a devilish glint.

"Your turn. I've never heard about your first time..."

Tim felt like he was suffocating, like he was hanging above a live volcano, like he was coming unhinged.

He and Kon had been making out on the couch at YJ for nearly an hour now, making this their longest session so far. Kon's body was so tight and hard, and before he knew it, he was on his back with that tight, hard body on top of him, those strong hands groping at his clothes.

It took the boy wonder a minute to realize that Kon was trying to get his utility belt off.

Gasping, Tim pushed until Kon got the message that he wanted to stop for a minute. Those intense eyes focused on him, and Tim practically moaned at the sight. Kon looked exactly like a little boy who was trying to solve a puzzle so that he could get to the candy inside.

"Kon... what... what are we doing?"

"We're messin' around. I thought you would have been able to figure that out by now..."

"Yeah, but... hmm... uh... that's... i think... uh... We're going... going a bit further than we have... hey!"

"Sorry." Kon blushed, looking sheepish. "I forget my strength sometimes."

"That's a very important area not to forget your strength in, especially if you want to keep going!"

Kon's eyes darkened immediately. "You want to keep going, Rob?"

Tim looked up, feeling helpless. He and Kon had been messing around for a few weeks now, just kissing and groping. But things were moving fast now and he wasn't sure...

Kon sat up, his thighs still straddling Tim. He pulled his shirt off and tossed it aside. "You wanna stop, man, say the word and we stop. Whatever you want."

Tim's hands moved up involuntarily to stroke Kon's perfect abs. His mouth was dry, so he swallowed hard before speaking. "Bleedin' hell, Kon, you have such an amazing body..."

Kon smirked, and leaned back down to kiss Tim. "Hey, I'm the Kid."

Tim rolled his eyes, and kissed Kon back.

Now, they were tumbling and rolling together, Tim helping Kon to divest him of his Robin uniform. In no time at all they were naked, lying facing each other on the wide couch, kissing and touching and rubbing and groping, frantic and needy and wanting and aching and moaning and gasping.

Kon ran his fingertips over Tim's body. He loved Tim's body, so lithe and agile and quick... He traced the outline of his Robin mask, cutting off Tim's guilty apology with a wet kiss. He loved the idea of making love to a masked man.

Tim squeezed and grabbed everywhere he could, unbearably aroused by the strength of Kon's body.

"You... ever do this... before...?" Kon was almost cute, the way he caressed Tim's cheek with his thumb.

"Not... not... really, ya know, to the finale, with anyone else... You?"

"I've done... some things... but... nothing... serious. I still consider myself a virgin."

Tim grinned, feeling sly. "But tomorrow..."

Kon grinned, and then they were at it, full teen force, rubbing to no real rhythm except hard.

Tim didn't start to think about it until afterwards, when he was licking the sweat from between Kon's beautiful pecs.

"Um, Kon? Did we... I mean, this wasn't... I guess I mean..."

"Relax, Rob. I'm not in love with you. We are still friends, we haven't messed that up."

"Are... are you sure? Because maybe things are different now."

Kon smiled. "Sure, things are different now. Now, we are friends who have sex. Which I think is great, cuz man, sometimes I get so horny..."

Tim giggled, feeling shy and naked suddenly.

Kon sighed. "Rob, man, why do you have to think so much? It's ok, really. Besides... I know you are in love with someone else."

Tim raised an eyebrow and half-smiled. "Oh, really?"

"Yeah, but I don't blame you. He's got a fantastic ass, and he's really flexible... plus, you guys are so close. When you do get together, if you guys ever wanna do a three-way, keep me in mind, okay?"

Tim's face gradually fell as Kon spoke. He hadn't known he was so transparent. "What... Who do you think..."

Kon put his hand on Tim's back as a reassurance. "Rob, it's cool man. It's just, you always talk about him. 'Nightwing said...' this and 'Nightwing does...' that and 'When Nightwing was in charge of the Titans...' and 'Well, Nightwing wouldn't put up with...' this. And when you talk about him... it's like, that's the final word, Nightwing said that. Plus, your heart rate spikes." Kon shrugged. "Like I said, I completely understand."

Tim felt like someone had turned a floodlight on him and was now airing this whole encounter on national tv. "I don't... I mean, it's not... not like that. I just, admire him, ya know? He's kinda a role model for me. It doesn't mean that..."

"But you do, Rob, don't you?"

Tim rested his forehead on Kon's shoulder. This really wasn't such a hot idea, except now Kon was rubbing his back and kneading his neck oh so gently...

"He wouldn't though." Tim's voice was so soft as to be nearly inaudible, except Kon had superhearing. "He would never... he thinks of me like a brother. A much younger brother."

"Rob... man, I know what you think, and if you told anyone else how you felt, they'd tell you that it would never happen. But trust me man, it will. He's not actually your brother, is he?"


"Cuz that would be creepy..."

"He's not!" Tim couldn't help smiling.

"Angel Sanctuary, anyone?"

"Shut up!!" Tim was laughing now. Maybe this would be ok...

"So, what's the real problem, then? I know he's gay, or at least bi, cuz he used to be involved with Tempest. And he's not a sibling, not really, so what's actually the problem? That you are too young for him? He's not that much older than you. The problem isn't that, it's that you are 17. Yeah, him doing a 17 year old would be creepy, but you won't be 17 forever. When you get older, he'll still be hot, cuz damn! check him out! You'll still be hot. You guys will still be friends and junk, and have all that history. He'll totally fall for ya, man. You're a pretty great guy."


"No, I'm making it up so I can get you naked. Oh, look..."

"Ok, ok... well, maybe..."

"Not maybe, man, can't think maybe. Gotta think definitely." There was an almost evil look in Kon's eye, as his hand drifted down to cup Tim's balls. "Trust me, when you are trying to get a bat boy to spread 'em for ya, ya gotta think positive..."


"Yeah. Kon was the only one who ever told me that I might have a chance with you."

"So, what you are saying is... we could have a threesome with Superboy. Hm, that's really intriguing..."

Tim bit hard on Dick's shoulder, stopping before he broke the skin. "No way, unless you wanna have a threesome where the other guy can't touch you or see you..."

"Hm... you're right, I guess if we did that, he's hafta be able to touch you as well, and that isn't going to happen... again... Maybe Kon wouldn't mind if we tied him up and just played with him?"

Tim rolled his eyes and groaned.

"I bet he wouldn't. I'm not saying that we should do it, just something to keep in mind..."

"Whatever. Your turn."

"What do you want to hear about?"

"Um. The first time..." Tim's lashes touched his cheekbones, as he thought about the next thing that popped into his head. But, thinking that he was almost sure what the answer would be, he wasn't sure he should ask. He wasn't sure that Dick would answer him. "We don't have to play this game if you don't want to, you know."

Dick kissed Tim's eyes gently. "What do you want to know about?"

"The first time someone broke your heart."

Dick stood over the grave of his lover, feeling like it was his heart and soul in the box in the hole. They had come to fill in the grave an hour ago, and now the sun was down and it was getting cold. When his parents had died, he hadn't wanted to stand over them like this, but he felt rooted to the spot.

How could he have been so stupid? He had been living with Joey! How could he not have known??

And he knew all the rest of the Titans blamed him. They all thought that he was so wrapped up in his own life and problems that he hadn't even noticed when his live-in boyfriend had been possessed by a demon. It was his fault, and all their pretty condolences meant nothing because he knew that secretly they hated him.

They had every right to.

He wanted to crawl into the grave with Joey. He belonged there, with Joey, didn't he? He belonged with Joey in life, why not now? There were some cultures that did that, weren't there? Granted, it only worked when the man died, and usually it wasn't a because the woman was so in love with him, but because she was his property...

Why hadn't he ever let Joey know how much he loved and cherished him? Why had he let there be any distance between them at all? Maybe if he hadn't held back, he wouldn't be here now, he shouldn't have been ruled by his fear. Wasn't that the first lesson that his father had taught him, when he started to train on the trapeze?

"Why did you leave me?" Dick wasn't aware that he had spoken, until he heard the response.

"He didn't have a choice, son."

Dick leapt back, startled. Turning, he saw Slade Wilson, in a beat-up leather jacket and black jeans, leaning against a monument.

"There just wasn't any other way."

All of Dick's grief, his agony, his guilt, his terror... all of it was instantly transmuted into rage. "How. DARE. You. You have no right to be here! If you know what is good for you, you will leave, right now!"

Slade cracked a smile, his eyes drifting to his son's gravestone. "Or what, pretty boy? And I have as much right to be here as you do."

Dick's eyes narrowed and he saw red. "Murderer."

Slade chuckled, harshly. "Yeah, I am. But honestly, Dick, what did you expect me to do? There was no other way..."

"You bastard, he was your son, and you killed him..."

"He was my son. That's why I had to do it. If I didn't, he wouldn't have been Joey anymore anyway. Dick... Joey was the best man I ever knew. That you knew, too! I couldn't let him be perverted like that!"

"In cold blood..."

"It had to be done."

Without thinking, Dick flung himself at the meta human, a bleak keening shriek ripped out of his lungs as he began to pummel Slade. Senseless, he was blind to the futility of the gesture; he was weak from exhaustion and grief, standing motionless in the cold for so long, and from not eating since before Joey died. He brought his fists down again and again, until he felt like his arms would fall off, his hands bloody from the effort.

Slade just let him spend his fury, waiting until the heart-breaking keen faded into sobs. Then, he grabbed both of Dick's wrists, and held the young man up.

"Look here, son. The only reason I'm not killing you right now is that I know that you loved my son. Maybe I wasn't thrilled about that always, but I know that you loved him and that he was happy with you. So, I'm going to overlook this now. But I loved Joey too. I know you don't believe me and I don't give a rat's ass. I admired him. It nearly killed me to do it, but I had to kill him."

Dick was still limp in Slade's iron grip, trying to pull himself together. He could barely see for the tears in his eyes, and idly he thought that it was odd that he was crying now, when he was in the grip of this murderer, but that he couldn't cry before, during the service.

"Dick. I don't blame you for his death, any more than I blame myself."

The tears dried, as Dick's bile rose through his throat. Slade dropped his grip, leaving Dick to fall on the ground, still looking up at him with hate. Slade shook his head, and started to walk away.

"Slade." Dick's voice was an iron edge. "I will kill you for what you did. Maybe not anytime soon, but I will. Someday, I will."

Slade turned to look at him. So many things came to his mind, but he held his tongue on all but one.

"See you then, Nightwing."

Dick just sat on the ground, his whole body made of lead. He was still shaking with hatred and grief when his phone rang, nearly surprising him.

He answered without speaking.

"Dick? It's Bruce. I... I heard. Are you there?"


"Dick? Are you ok?"

Dick nearly laughed, the tears welling up again.

"Dick. I'm sorry."

"Yeah." His throat felt like he'd been swallowing lava. "Me too."

Tim just lay in Dick's arms, letting the story settle in. He had expected Dick's first heartbreak to come sooner, when he had had to leave the Manor when he was 18.

This was much worse.

"Did you mean it?"

Dick pulled at Tim's hair, letting the strands run through his fingertips. "At the time, yes. And for a long time after that. Every time I met Deathstroke for a while after that, I meant to kill him, but he was too strong. Now... I... I guess he really didn't have a choice. But, that doesn't really help either. Anyway, I know Joey wouldn't want me to be a murderer, and I have this hot med student who might have a hard time waiting for me if I went to jail, so..."

Tim leaned up to kiss Dick, long and sweet. "I'm sorry, too, babe."

Dick sorta shrugged. "Now, your turn. Hm, any heartbreaks in your past?"

"I only fell in love once. And so far, it's been a little angsty to begin with, but it's settled out nicely."

They kissed again, insinuating themselves into each other as they held on tight.

"Ok, then. First... first... first time you talked to Bruce knowing that he knew."

Tim arched his eyebrow. "Knew?"

"That we were together."

"You've been dying to find this out, haven't you?" Tim had to repress the desire to giggle.

Dick shrugged, grinning. "Hey, it's your game..."

Tim felt weird being back at the Manor. It certainly wasn't that he wasn't welcome, since Alfred had been overjoyed to let him back in.

Terry being here, training, didn't help. Glancing over at the slim, muscular teen, he couldn't help but feel a stab of jealousy. Terry was everything that he wasn't as a Robin. Terry wasn't the brightest kid in class or the sharpest, but he had determination.

He was more like the Bat than Tim would have thought possible.

But, of course, that wasn't it either.

Bruce wouldn't look him in the eye. He had noticed that when he had first come in the kitchen, but hadn't really taken note until he had been there for a while and Bruce still hadn't looked him in the eye.

So. He knew. Big shocker, the Batman knows everything, right?

When Bruce went down to the cave to consult with Oracle, Tim followed. He pulled up a chair and waited while Bruce and Babs went over the minutiae of some new evidence they had found in the latest Two Face job. Tim watched them as he had for so long; Babs handled Bruce like no one else. It was almost as if she wasn't afraid of him.

Tim knew that she was, but she still didn't act it.

Bruce was mid-sentence when Babs broke the connection. "Look, Batboy, it's time for Angel's dinner, so unless you wanna come over and give it to her, you'll just have to wait until tonight for the search, when I have time." And that was it.

Bruce sat scowling at the screen.

Of course Babs was afraid of him, she just knew that he couldn't threaten anything that really mattered to her.

Lucky Babs.

Tim cleared his throat, and Bruce turned, still not looking at him.

"Dick and I have gotten together."

"I heard."

"You heard from Dick?"

Bruce glared. "I heard."

"Riight." Bruce looked up at Tim's sarcastic response, and nearly blew Tim off the chair. Never had he thought that he would be the recipient of one of Bruce's menacing glares. It was almost as if Bruce hated him... "Look. I don't expect you to be happy for us, or for me. But I do expect that you would stay out of the way."

Bruce arched his eyebrows and leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest. "Oh?"

"Bruce... you know that I love him. You know for how long I've loved him. I'm not... I'm not saying that I could make him happy. I just... if I have a chance to, I will. And you know that."

Bruce looked straight ahead, as if Tim weren't there.

"You love him. You want him to be loved. Let him be."

"With you." Tim sucked in a breath, stunned by the bitterness in Bruce's tone.

"With whomever he chooses."

"It was always your forte to sit back and be happy for him, not mine." The petulant tone made Bruce seem younger, like the childish brat he probably would have grown up to be if his parents hadn't died.

"And it was always your forte to sit back and silently judge him, never directly interfering. If you want him, then go for it. I say, give it your best. And if he wants to be with you instead, then I'll be happy for the both of you." Bruce's jaw jutted out just a tad. "But you won't. Will you? Not ever, no matter what the circumstances. Because you are too terrified to live without him, you won't even try to be with him. Fine, that's your choice. And maybe it's the right choice. But I've been a part of this household for 8 years now. I stood by your side and helped you. I risked my life for you. And I won't be made to feel like an outsider because I'm stealing him away from you. God, Bruce, I wouldn't do that! I know that he loves you! I wouldn't try to come between the two of you!"

Bruce looked up, meeting Tim's gaze. They sat there for a long time, just watching each other.

Finally, Bruce bent down, rubbing his hands through his hair, before he stood. He came over and put a hand on Tim's shoulder. "I just... I'm sorry, Tim. I just... never thought it would be you."

Tim smiled. "Me neither."

Bruce smiled back. "Well... I can't think of anyone I would dislike seeing him with less than you, so I guess I'll be content with that. Just... you are so lucky, you know that?"

Tim reached up to squeeze Bruce's forearm. "Thanks."

Dick ran the tips of his fingers up and down Tim's spine. Tim let the heat from his lover's chest soak in through his cheek, and side. Enough time had passed now that they were both feeling the effects of their hot, sticky bodies pressed against each other. Tim let the feeling of slow arousal seep into him, trying to suppress the anticipation. The second time would be slower, more intimate.

He shivered.

Dick laid his palms down on Tim's bum. "You do make me happy, you know." His voice was a mere whisper into the inky black of Tim's hair.

"Hm? Dick?" It was the tone of voice, the inflection, the emphasis... Tim was blown away.

"I mean, you don't put a gun to my head and force me to be happy, but I'm happy, being with you. Every time something happens to me, good or bad, I just want to share it with you. It's nothing until I share it with you." They shifted together, so they were facing each other, noses just barely not touching. "You have no idea, do you, what a difference you've made in my life?"

Tim was afraid to breath, afraid to really hear what Dick was saying. His whole body ached with each word. So many years, so long, he waited, never expecting anything in return for his devotion. To have all he desired and more here beside him, it was enough. He didn't believe in the rest. He couldn't. Not yet.

Dick kissed him, slowly, their only points of contact were lips and tongue and noses brushing.

"You know... that I have feelings for Bruce, but, they mean nothing compared to how I feel for you. How you make me feel..."

"Dick..." Tim pushed himself closer, needing more touch, more stimulation.

"You can't know how grateful I am for you, Timmy. From the first day I met you, you've meant more to me than you could know. I love you."

Tim smiled. "And I love you, cutie."

"Do you remember that day we met, not... not the day my parents died, but when you tracked me down to get me to help Bruce?"

"Of course. The day I became Robin, really... You were so annoyed with me, thinking I was an interloper..."

"That day... You changed my life that day, Timmy. Do you know that?"

Tim blushed, feeling a new kind of heat fill him. "I... I didn't... I know that you and Bruce..."

"It's not about me and Bruce, Timmy. It was about me. Your boundless enthusiasm and hope... you really pulled me out of a bad place that day."

"Dick... No, I didn't do anything extraordinary..."

"Tim. You did, just by being you. You really are incredible." Dick's smile was involuntary, the light in his eyes brighter than sapphires sparkling in the sunshine.

Tim squeezed his eyes shut and pushed Dick onto his back. There wasn't time or air for words, only the slow burn of friction, of sweat fueling them, feeding passion onto passion, forward and back, slowing and speeding, feeling each other everywhere, holding each other down and up, until not even they could contain the climax.

Falling asleep still wrapped around each other, the pale slant of light from the window brightening a narrow stretch of disheveled bedding, there wasn't even time for thought as flashes of sensory recall colored their imaginations.

Dick had his arms crossed over his chest, trying to look stern, but, apparently, it wasn't working. The young spitfire was still looking up to him with the same puppy-dog gaze as before.

"Wow! How'dja know that Harry didn't do it?"

Dick sighed. The kid would not be put off, obviously.

After explaining things, and carefully herding the kid to the side, Dick started to really examine this boy. He was young, 13, and God, Dick couldn't remember being that young. And he was so full of hope and life... It had been a long time since Dick had felt either of those things.

Holding his aching heart in, Dick tried once again to instill some fear into the boy. "What's your name, anyway?"

The boy beamed like a center ring floodlight. "Tim. Tim Drake. And I've been a huge fan of yours since I was a toddler, practically!"

"Thanks. Now I feel old." Dick's wry smile dimmed Tim's gaze.

"I... I didn't mean..."

"No, forget it." Dick sighed. What was he going to do? This... kid had figured everything out! Bruce... man, Bruce was going to blow a spigot...

"Look. I know that you don't have any reason to trust, or even like me. But I'm not asking you to. Just hear me out! Maybe... maybe you haven't heard the news from Gotham in a while? Because, well, ever since... ever since the other Robin... I guess he would be Jason? Ever since he died, things have gotten bad." Tim's wide blue eyes were shimmering in the unnatural light of the sideshow glitter.

"I know. But that still doesn't explain what you are doing here."

Tim swallowed hard, gathering all his courage. He reminded himself that this was why he was here, why he had spent his entire break tracking this guy. He reminded himself of the way Batman was acting the last time he saw him, of his uncharacteristically weary body language. "It's about Batman, Dick. He needs you to come back."

If the boy had just slammed a brick wall in his face, Dick wouldn't have been more shocked than he was now. "Needs?!" He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. "Look... I know you put a lot of work into this, and you think that you know us pretty well, and I'll admit that you know us better than any other outsider that I've ever known..." Tim beamed. "...but you have no idea what you are saying. You have no idea what you asking. That just... that's not possible."

"That he would need you?" Tim's guilelessness was disarming and disconcerting. Dick wondered if he was ever so unjaded. He couldn't remember anymore.

"That I could go back."

Tim looked down, pained. If Dick Grayson couldn't help him, then who could help the Bat? "But Dick... He's become reckless, unstable. People are talking. About stopping Batman. And... I think he's gonna get himself killed. Don't you care about him? Don't you love him? Don't you owe it to him?"

It was all Dick could do not to pick the boy up and fling him across the midway. "Just leave it alone, Timmy. It's none of your concern." Dick's voice was like some odd blend of his and the Bat's.

"But..." Tim's eyes widened in fear but he persevered.

"No! Look! I care more about him than you will ever understand!! Than most people will ever care for anyone else! But I can't!" Dick was hovering over Tim, his fists balled up and his nails digging into his flesh, his arms taut and held just off of his torso.

Tim had never been more afraid.

But there was no other way...

"I... I'm sorry. I know I'm interfering, and that you've known him a lot longer than I have, and that I don't know everything. But... He's going to get himself killed, Dick. I... I have pictures of his last encounter with Ravager... Dick... just look..." Tim carefully pulled his snapshots out his bag, never letting his eyes leave Dick's. "He's losing it, Dick. I don't know what happened between you, but do you really mean that you can't help him? He needs you..."

Dick looked away from the image of Bruce limping, so close to the edge of the dam. He let out a derisive sigh. "What makes you think that it's me that he needs?"

Tim's hands were shaking. "Well... you were the first Robin. Before you, he was all alone, and no one could ever get close to him. Then, he was part of the dynamic duo! And socially, he was a lot more approachable. When you left, he got someone else to take on the job, because he realized that he needed a partner. And now his partner is dead, and he needs you, Dick!"

Dick shook his head, amazed at this kid. Not only did he figure out all the details, but also all the motivations... "And what makes you think that I would help him? That I would even want to, or that I would be able to?"

"Um." Tim became fascinated by his sneakers. "Ever since... ever since... since... Joseph Wilson died, Nightwing has been really... uh, intense. Lots of sources have said so. And now, you've left the Titans. Maybe... I thought... Maybe you guys needed each other. To, you know, help each other through this."

Dick just watched Tim for a moment. The kid really was remarkable. Clever, bright, intuitive, with a good heart and an almost instinctive understanding of people. Dick didn't want to be thinking what he was thinking, but he couldn't help it. It didn't matter, though, because this wasn't some orphan or run away. This was a kid with a family (admittedly, a family that didn't seem to be aware or concerned that their son was traveling all over the place, tracking vigilantes...) and a future, he didn't need...

Dick spoke low and softly. "And what makes you think that he will let me help him?"

Tim's bottom lip quivered. "You guys are the dynamic duo! You are a team! He... he would have to listen to you! He... has in the past."

Dick shook his head. Tim just stared up at him, waiting. "And why are you doing this? Tracking us and everything, just to get me to help him? Do you have any idea how dangerous this is, what you are doing? This is not a game, you know."

"I know that! I... well, you guys are my heroes. I..." Tim swallowed hard. He'd imagined meeting Dick Grayson again for what felt like his whole life, and the experience was proving to be a thousand times more challenging than he would ever have thought. More than anything, he wanted to prove himself worthy of that challenge. He briefly considered telling Dick that he'd fantasized about being Dick's best friend since he had first met the Boy Who Could Fly. That he'd even had weird fantasies about living with Bruce and Dick and having them be his parents. "I just think, you guys are really important, and amazing. And if I could do anything to help you, I would."

Tim's clear and bright eyes shone up to Dick, filled with hope and promise... Dick thought that he would never again experience that again.

But this kid... this kid that challenged him to break out of his shell and face Bruce again...

Facing Bruce again. After that night, they had barely even spoken to each other. To see the other man again...

And here was this eager, intelligent, adoring boy who wanted nothing more than to help his heroes.

Despite himself, Dick wanted to help Tim realize his hopes. Even if it wasn't exactly the fashion he was expecting...

Smiling for the first time since Tim had met him, Dick slapped his hand on Tim's shoulder. Tim gaped, unsure of what he had said or done to win him over. "Well, I guess we should get going then. You said you were from Gotham, right? On the way there, we can discuss what we are going to do."

Tim gave a whoop of pleasure and leaped up to hug Dick, who practically fell back with shock. "Thanks!!! Man, you won't regret this, I mean it!"

Dick just gave Tim a noogie, and put his arm over the kid's shoulder. He couldn't believe he was doing this but...

For the first time since Joey died, Dick thought things might actually work out. Maybe there was hope for the future, with kids like Tim around. And Dick would help with him training, between him and Bruce, Tim could learn enough to avoid the pitfalls that his mentors and predecessors had fallen in... He might be the one to really make a difference...

Tim just glowed as they walked to Dick's bike together.