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by Te

December 8, 2003
by Te

Disclaimers: Not mine. Not mine.

Spoilers: None, really.

Summary: Dick takes a nap. Things go badly.

Ratings Note/Warnings: R. Contains content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Jack sent me the pictures that put my head here. Where I went with it? All on me.

Acknowledgments: To Jack, Bas, and Livia for audiencing. Liv and Jack also had very helpful suggestions, and Jack came up with a title. Any remaining mistakes and Issues are entirely my own fault.

Feedback: Keeps me still.


In Batman's life, there is a process to everything.

Even this.

All beginnings are essentially the same, if only in the way they strike something within you, that same internal tuning fork vibrating you toward the end with that same sort of inevitable force.

Batman doesn't believe in fate.

He believes in consequences.

The first beginning he remembers is entirely predictable, for those few people who know him, or know enough to think they do. Pearls, moonlight-blackened blood. For many years, he had been taken aback by the sight of his own blood in daylight. Every scrape was fascinating, every red drop fantastic and strange.

Alfred had explained, with painstaking care, the mechanism of blood loss, thinking him struck by the act of being wounded.

Alfred understands now: first impressions are everything, and blood, while essentially unimportant, is always more palatable in the darkness.

The second and third beginnings were clear from the start, at least for him. A cave, a mugging stopped before the woman -- blind -- could be hurt.

The fourth... was more complicated than it should've been.

He'd known himself well enough, by then. He'd been an adult, his view of the world solidified to the consistency -- for the most part -- of stone.

A beautiful, weeping boy in his arms.

A beautiful, weeping boy in his arms.


There was no question, no real one, that Dick would eventually become Robin.

Still, there had been something truly warming, truly different about being in the position of one who gave comfort, however awkwardly, however inexpertly.

"You're doing quite well, Master Bruce."

Alfred has always been proud of him, but that pride...

There is nothing quite so tempting, so needfully believable as the admiration in a man's eyes not just when you've done something well, but done something well you never imagined you could.

Of course, in recent years he's had his doubts about that.

He loves Alfred, he needs Alfred, and he believes in the man more, perhaps, than anything he hasn't built with his own hands.

But he knows himself, and has studied child psychology with a more singular focus than most anything else.

He knows his first beginning could have gone quite, quite differently.

Every beginning is the same, and every end is wholly dependent on the choices one makes -- or has made for one -- in response to that beginning.

Batman believes that the day he can't hold himself responsible for everything he's caused is the day when, hopefully, someone will stop him. One way or another.

That's just one of the reasons why Dick had to become Robin.

He is...a good soldier.

Even as a boy, a child.

And part of it is -- has to be -- the fact that he'd felt he had something to prove. That Batman had never made enough of an effort to make him think otherwise.

But part of it is just Dick.

Brilliant in body and mind, competent, dedicated.

Pushing himself to be the man he thought Batman wanted him to be.

That was, of course, one of the choices made.

He had studied this, more of it, he suspects, than some of the actual doctors and therapists out there. He'd had far more reason than any of them to do so, after all.

And a part of him had known how it had to be.

Dick becoming Robin in almost -- almost the same way Bruce became Batman. But never quite enough that Dick didn't exist.

Smiling, laughing. Living in carefully average clothes for his age and station, far more natural in them than Bruce could ever be in a suit.

He was.

He is.

Sometimes, Batman looks at him and doesn't feel anything like pride.

Sometimes all he can see is a work of wondrous art, brought to life and moving easily, happily through his world. As if there's nothing to fear.

And he thinks: I did this.

Because holding yourself responsible doesn't have to be entirely awful, does it?


Though perhaps that was a choice, too.

After a while, it all starts to run together. Between the beginning and the end, between the acknowledgment of the end and the road one takes to get there as slow as possible.

There is little meaning in the 'middle,' though certainly it is important.

Perhaps it's just something beyond comprehension, or perhaps he simply hasn't studied enough.

Perhaps there are words for these nameless, drowning emotions that would make them all make sense beyond their unapproachable air of inevitability.

'Delusion' would certainly work.

He never feels saner than when he's right here, one palm pressed to Dick's door -- always open at least a crack -- and the other curled loosely at his side.

The knock he won't give.

"You know you never have to," Dick had said. As a child, with wide eyes filled with nothing but trust.

Because Bruce had always knocked, and that meant, for the child, that Bruce never had to.

He takes a breath, and catches a surprising hint of green. Dick has at least one window open.


And... waits.

Usually, by now, Dick is asking him -- telling him to come in, already.

"We lurk enough as it is, Bruce," and that had been said with an easy smile by the creature Dick had become.

No, creature is a terrible word.

And yet there is something inhuman about his beauty. The thickness of his curls, tamed into a parody of the latest conservative cut. Barely tamed -- they fall around his ears, over his clean, clear brow.

Never quite long enough to occlude his vision. Just long enough...

He hasn't touched Dick's hair in a very long time. That has to be another choice, doesn't it?

Especially since he touches Robin as much as is necessary.

Bruce pushes his way in and.

Dick is asleep.

Snoring faintly, splayed across the single sheet on the bed, and.

It takes a moment to backtrack, to remember the morning's conversation with Alfred. The relevant facts: heat wave, black-out.

It wasn't as though the house was lit in more than a bare, few places on a regular basis, anyway, and the Cave has long since had its own emergency generators and back-ups for same.

He forces himself to think about it, to focus on his body for the hint... yes. It is very warm up here. His body begins to sweat beneath his Bruce-clothes.

And Dick is faintly flushed with it, or perhaps with whatever dream he's having. He is still asleep, in a way that seems both sodden with the heat and... willful.

Dick knows better than this.

To be naked here, like this, is entirely understandable.

To be so deeply asleep that Bruce can watch, can see every slow rise of breath. Every faint shift of his hair as a hot, damp breeze tries and fails to ruffle it...

It is entirely different.

And he hadn't planned this, not at all. This was to be another step toward the end, no more. A chance to hone the images he keeps with him in his bed.

A chance for Dick to say something, do something, more and beyond his usual easy acceptance of Bruce.

Shameless and unafraid.

And it's exactly like leaping into space onto a rope, the way there was always just enough time to catch hold before the fire blasted through the roof of the building he was escaping, before the bullets ripped through the space he'd occupied before.

A sense of pride, a sense of rightness, and a sense of 'of course.'

Action, consequence.

He crawls onto the bed as lightly as he can, quietly pleased at the firmness of the mattress. His movements are made subtle with this.

He is close enough to feel the heat baking off the boy's skin.

He is close enough to see that the flush is far more likely a tan, with a hint of a burn.

The mistakes are piling up, inexorable as any life story.

He shakes his head and smiles to himself.

And catches Dick's neck with his fist. There is no strain in holding it -- the boy shows no signs of growing out of lithe perfection.

He has waited for so very long.

Choice, opportunity.

Yes, all of it in the way Dick wakes late, wakes wrong. Blinking-eyed confusion and a slack mouth damp with spit at one corner.

"Bruce --"

He bears down hard, hitting a pressure point with his index and middle fingers.

"Fuck, Bruce, what?" His eyes are clear and wide, faintly betrayed.

"What did you take?"

"Wha... what?"

The next jab is a meaningful one, muscles moving beneath Dick's skin to flex, to tense. "What. Did you. Take."

"*Benadryl, Bruce, Jesus! Those gang members got me good last night, it was too hot to sleep, I didn't want to take a painkiller, but I needed to sleep... fuck, you can let go. You know I don't use drugs!"

He relaxes his hold, but doesn't let go. "Benadryl is a drug."

"I needed something to fall asleep."

His pulse pounds beneath Bruce's fingers, sped with something between anger and fear.

Dick is... he is young.

Robin was necessary, but he makes concerns about the boy's age petty, and easy to ignore.

Even when ignoring those concerns led to mistakes.

"I'm going to teach you a lesson, Dick."


"Close your eyes."

A blink, a moment's hesitation, but he does so. Trust.

Bruce nods to himself and removes the hand from the boy's neck. Curls it into a fist.

"Oh God, Bruce, ow -- what --?"

"That blow was to the apex of your spine. If it had been any harder, you would be unconscious --"

"Jesus, I know that --"

"You are only conscious so I can be sure you learn your lesson."

"Fucking A, Bruce, I get it --"

Dick is silenced by a jab to the rising bruise. "No. No, you don't."

Most of the suit is in the Cave, save for those few items he could comfortably wear beneath his Bruce-clothes. He unbuttons his shirt halfway, from the bottom, and slips the rope from the appropriate pocket of the belt.

"You are unconscious, but I know who you are. I know all your secrets, Dick."

"I --"

"You are unconscious."

Confused, angry blinks, tossed at him from over Dick's shoulder. His eyes are heavily dilated with pain and shock. Dick nods, winces, and pushes his face against the pillow.

Another choice, spiraling down to meaninglessness with the rest.

There is the future to be concerned about, but the present is always, always right here.

And Dick is ready for the lesson.

The boy's wrists are appropriate limp when he lifts them, even when he tests the set of the skin with his thumb.

"Even though you are unconscious, I'm far too careful to leave you free."

He watches the boy's eyes move behind the lids, watches the lips tighten.

"You must be tied."

An audible swallow, but his limbs remain limp, and pliant. The briefest nod of understanding.

It only takes a few moments to get the boy's wrists secured. Less for his ankles. "You're helpless."

Appropriate silence.

"You could have stopped this easily. There were any number of options available to you. However, since you were drugged insensible, you have no options at all."

"I --" Dick bites his lip.

"The knife you usually keep beneath your pillow isn't there right now. Why is that? Answer."

"I forgot."


"Because I was drugged."

Batman nods slowly, mostly to himself. "And now I have the run of the house. No alarms have been raised.

"And I have a gun."

The boy shudders once, all over. Stills. "You can kill Alfred," he says, voice small and younger than the length and strength of his body.

"I know your secrets. I kill Bruce first. In fact, I wait right here for him. He'll come to check on you soon.

"I can't decide whether to gag you or not."


He slips back into his Batman voice. "You're begging, Dick."

Hissed breath. "I. 'Begging is nothing but a goad to the criminally insane. I will not beg.'"

Batman nods to himself. "We hear Bruce's footsteps in the hall. You shout out a warning."

"Don't --"

Batman backhands him on cue. Nothing that would leave a mark, but it still makes Dick yell. The amount of invisible damage Batman can do with his knuckles has always been prodigious. "Bruce comes in after us."

"No. No! He wouldn't. He'd. He'd know --"

"He'd know you were in danger, and in pain." He gives it a moment to set in, watches it do so in the slump of the boy's shoulders. Visible even with the stretch. Every muscle. He breathes. "He comes in after us, stealthy. I don't know why he didn't choose to use the gas. Perhaps he isn't wearing the belt. Perhaps worry isn't allowing him to think clearly.

"I shoot, and miss. I do not miss the second time. I adjust my aim. The third shot hits him in the temple. He falls. I move closer. My fourth and fifth shots are true."

"Oh God, Bruce --"

"Is dead on the floor."

Dick takes a long, shuddering breath. Batman can't decide if it's the precursor to some outburst or an attempt to calm himself down. The look in the boy's eyes offers no clues.

"Depending on the dose, and the timing, you will not be thinking entirely clearly for quite some time. Perhaps even an hour. Your body has no tolerances to such things."

"Bruce is dead."


"Because... because I took an allergy pill?" And Dick's brief laugh is as honest and pure as ever.

"He's dead because you weren't prepared."

The laugh cuts off with the click of Dick's teeth meeting. The sound is as good a sign as any other. They are in Dick's bedroom.

They could be outside, in the night, just as easily.

"He. He..."

"He trusted you, Dick."

"Oh God..."

"He's dead because of that."

"Please --"

"And I am not done with you."

"Wh-what? Bruce, I --"

"I could be the Joker." He twists his voice into an approximation of the madman's own, letting his lips pull back from his teeth. "I've always been fond of you, Dickie boy."

He runs a slow, incautious hand down the hollow of the boy's spine.

"I could be Catwoman." He speaks from the top of his throat. "This is just. Too. Sweet."

Batman digs his blunt nails in, and rakes them over the boy's ass.

"Oh God oh fuck Bruce don't --!"

And Batman is.

And Bruce is hard, desperately so. Choices.

He forces himself to ease off the pressure, but can't quite take his hand away.

Crawls back onto the bed and kneels between the boy's thighs. The sun is setting, and the cleft of his ass is a shadow among shadows.

Dick is breathing heavily now, and stinks of fear.

Bruce closes his eyes and forces himself to regulate his own breathing.

Lesson complete.

"It's all right, Dick. It's only me."

"Only. You." A cracked sort of incredulousness.

Bruce slides his hands up over Dick's back, up to his straining shoulders. "It's all right," he says again, and begins to rub.

Gradually, the boy's muscles begin to relax.

Bruce loses himself, just a little, in the feel of warm, smooth skin. Slick, sticky here and there with sweat. He works the kinks out of the boy's arms, and unties them.

Does the same for his legs, bending and stretching them.


The end has been chosen. There's nothing more to be said.

When he's done with Dick's legs, he leaves them spread. Slides his hands up to cup the backs of the strong, lean thighs, to tickle his palms against the sparse hair.

"Bruce. What are you --"

Slips one hand between the boy's legs, and cups his half-hard cock. Begins to stroke.

Dick gasps. "Bruce. Bruce, I don't --"

Bruce gives the boy's cock a squeeze, and strokes a little faster.

Dick tenses, all over.

That doesn't matter now. There are no choices left.

Only the consequences.

Dick will understand.

Robin, perhaps, already does.

"Shh," Bruce says. "It's only me."


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