Where hunger finds us
February 10, 2004
Disclaimers: If they were mine? Two words: Group Therapy.
Spoilers: Vague ones for Batman #416. Takes place sometime after that, but before #424.
Summary: Bruce trusts his instincts.
Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Contains content some readers may find disturbing.
Author's Note: I pretty much had to write this. Third and probably last in the "In the Shadows" series, following "The lie I was born to" and "Miss."
Title from Audre Lorde.
Acknowledgments: To Jack for audiencing and encouragement.
Feedback: Always appreciated. email@example.com
The first time Jason looked at him without the raw, brittle suspicion of everyone and everything he'd been harboring for God only knew how long before they met, Bruce wanted to give him a mask.
It was more than the potential in him, the healthy athleticism that not even life on the streets had beaten out of him. More and less.
Jason's eyes are the softest things about him, broad and blue and faintly tilted, with long, thick lashes that cast shadows on his face. A woman's eyes, and effortlessly lovely.
It's one of the things that make the boy's anger so comforting, even beyond its essential familiarity. When Jason is angry, all trace of ambiguity is wiped from his expression, leaving something entirely safe.
Dick had never been safe. There were just too many differences, too many ways in which his mind worked that were impossibly difficult to even predict. And even his anger was... accessible.
There is something immensely soothing in the way Jason tends to hold himself away when he's angry. He strikes out as passionately as Dick ever did, but with infinitely more care of himself. He strikes out from a distance within himself, most probably, even now, expecting a much harder blow in return.
And when he is in the suit...
He understands the conflict within himself. Dick hadn't needed to tell him the darker, meaner reasons he'd had for taking Jason on, after all. He just had to drag them out of him by main force. Bruce feels himself smile at the memory. Dick had given him what he needed: the reassurance that he remained in Bruce's life in the best way he could, and the deliberate approval of Jason.
For Jason's sake -- if not consciously for Bruce's own.
The effect is the same. He knows how often he compares the two of them in his own mind, even though it's far less than he does aloud, and he is not ignorant of the effect it could -- and did -- have on the boy's confidence.
It has proven... immensely difficult to hold on to that fact, to stay silent. He only means to offer compliment, to share approval in one of the few ways he's capable of. To be like Dick is to be something very fine, indeed. The large and ever-growing part of himself that is Batman does not have very many positive things to offer a child, and Bruce often isn't sure he has much more.
The need is too strong for that, wordless and overwhelming and greedy, and he has long since given up on the idea of holding it entirely in check.
He's only a man.
They're in the library now, and Bruce isn't actually getting much reading done at all. Jason is scowling almost absently at his history textbook and taking notes without looking at the page. From experience, Bruce knows that the resulting scrawl will be unreadable to everyone but Jason, but it seems to work for him.
He has applied himself diligently and dramatically to his schoolwork, taking Bruce on his word that all knowledge improves their chances for success on the streets. He isn't as good a student as Dick was, but Dick had spent his early childhood surrounded by a community of people who were utterly invested in his being the best he could possibly be at anything and everything. The circus had been an extended family.
Jason, however, had had nothing but indifferent public school teachers and a father Bruce finds himself wishing was alive solely so the Batman could visit him.
It's better this way, and Jason's grades are improving by the day.
The boy's will is impressive, in everything he chooses to apply it to. And he has flourished here. Grown out of wiry, undisciplined scrappiness into a fighter more powerful than most anyone in his age group. Grown into a soldier anyone would be proud to have at his side.
And if his discipline still isn't always the best, if his capacity for violence seems high and his capacity for empathy low...
Gotham is more dangerous than it ever has been, with seemingly every two-bit punk they come across carrying a gun, too high to know to be frightened, or both. Jason saves his empathy, his restraint, for the innocent. And Bruce isn't sure he's wrong to do so.
He looks up to find Jason staring at him with a kind of careful curiosity. "Yes?"
"I... you were kind of glaring at the fire. For a while now. Is something wrong?"
Perhaps just a little empathy left over for the guilty. It's easy to smile at the boy. "You caught me brooding."
"Anything I can help with?"
You already are. Bruce shakes his head ruefully. "I think your homework is more important than my mood."
Jason ducks his head. "I'm actually finished. I mean... I was trying to read ahead a little."
Pride, fierce and joyful, floods him like some intangible adrenaline. The words stick in his throat, threaten to make him stammer and flail if he tried to say them aloud. But there are other ways. "Come here."
The boy looks up, eyes wide and soft with surprise. Here, in his father's house, they've limited their activities to Bruce's bedroom. It must seem strange. But Jason nods jerkily and stands, crossing the room to stand in front of Bruce's chair. "I... how?"
Bruce smiles and takes his hand, pulling gently until Jason crawls into his lap and straddles him. Bruce rests his hand over the boy's heart, and the pound of it is almost the same as his own.
Is it narcissism to love that? To crave that?
He isn't sure. There are so many things about relationships that mystify him, no matter the reputation he's cultivated for Bruce Wayne, socialite playboy. Affairs of the heart only come naturally when they have nothing to do with the heart at all.
He only has his instincts, and his instincts demand... this. He slides his free hand into Jason's hair, enjoying the thick wave of it over his fingers, and pulls Jason into a kiss.
He wants to be gentle, but the boy's mouth is soft, wet and hot for his tongue. The old, familiar hunger bleeds into it quickly, and when he breaks the kiss to breathe, Jason's lips are already starting to redden and swell. He lifts his hand from Jason's chest to touch them as softly as he can manage.
The boy takes a deep, hitching breath, lashes fluttering on his cheeks, and flicks his tongue out to taste Bruce's fingertips tentatively.
Jason is, perhaps, equally overwhelmed.
Bruce can never decide if he wants to make this easier on him or if he wants to just... wallow in it. Revel in the heart-pounding rush of touching the boy, the sense of having found something that finally, finally works.
He could never have had this with Dick, even if it wouldn't have been an atrocity to want it from a boy he'd raised.
And while Jason is young, while Bruce had adopted him... it's not the same. The events that have shaped his life happened without him and without his influence. For better or worse, his essential self had been shaped before Bruce ever found him.
It's a relief.
Bruce isn't sure what he would do if he had to resist this.
"Open your pants for me?"
Jason nods and does it, hands shaking slightly. Bruce strokes his face to soothe him and gets a little lost at the feel of the thin skin beneath his eyes. He pulls the boy in and licks and kisses him there, shocking a brief laugh out of him.
Another reason to gasp, and Bruce buries it in Jason's mouth, and slips his hand down to the heat of Jason's groin. The boy is only half-hard, but he responds to Bruce's touch quickly.
He always does, shifting and moaning for him so quietly.
Bruce wants to tell him not to hold back -- every sound Jason makes is another joy -- but there's something seductive about it, too. Another aspect of the boy's essential separateness, forcing Bruce to work to reach him.
To have him.
It only seems right.
The boy sways and shudders in his lap, and the feel and sight of it triggers a rush of images. Everything he could do with Jason right here, and everything he has already done. The way he would look if Bruce stripped him and bent him back until he had to catch himself on his hands.
The way he had looked on his hands and knees, red flush spreading down his back, black hair plastered to his neck, and the white-knuckled grip he'd had on the sheets. Something out of a fairy tale unhindered by the need to make stories safe for children. That seems right, too, for the boy who'd made him laugh in Crime Alley.
Bruce wants to give him everything.
He settles for pausing mid-stroke, and waiting for Jason to look at him with dazed confusion before tapping at the boy's soft lower lip with his other fingers.
"Do... should I suck them?"
He nods, unable to manage so much as a simple yes. Jason is so very beautiful like this. Desperately so with two of Bruce's fingers in his mouth. He can't resist thrusting a little, and he doesn't want to. It makes Jason's eyes go heavy-lidded, makes him whimper and shift on Bruce's lap.
When they're wet enough, he slides them out of Jason's mouth and down the back of his shorts, seeking.
Tight heat, and just the feel of it around his finger makes Bruce hard. Harder.
The first time he'd touched the boy, he'd been too lost in his own hunger to even think. He'd waited so long, waited until even a cold and windy rooftop had seemed like the perfect place. It's better with every chance he gets to have Jason, every chance to learn the boy's pleasure and take his own. And, of course, he understands now that the setting doesn't really matter.
Not for the two of them.
Jason braces his hands on Bruce's shoulders and works his hips back and forth between his hands, head dipped forward and eyes squeezed shut. And when Bruce crooks the fingers of one hand and squeezes with the other, Jason throws his head back and shouts, coming all over Bruce's hand.
Bruce slips out as gently as he can and strokes the boy's back as he pants and shakes.
"Jay," he says, and gets a somewhat bleary smile in response.
He likes the nickname. Bruce likes using it.
Jason leans in slowly, kissing him carefully for the heartbeat it takes for Bruce to respond, and then making it deeper. Hungrier. Bruce pulls the boy in close and rocks against him, getting another quiet moan.
And then Jason pushes away and steps back, dropping gracefully to his knees between Bruce's legs and staring into his eyes, watchful and waiting.
Bruce strokes his cheek and nods, opening his pants with his other hand.
And when Jason takes him in his mouth, Bruce lets himself go, lets himself feel it.
Warm and safe and not alone.
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Title: Where hunger finds us
Series Name: In the Shadows
Author: Te [email] [website]
Details: Series | NC-17 | *slash* | 10k | 02/10/04
Characters: Bruce, Jason
Summary: Bruce trusts his instincts.
Notes: Content some readers may find disturbing.
Sequel to: Miss
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