Terry doesn't show up for school.

It's not that big a deal- his absentee streak is half a mile wide, and Max tells herself intellectually that he probably had a rough night and wanted to sleep it off. But another, less sane part of herself points out the fact that no one would know for hours, days even, if Terry died on the job.

She stops in on the McGinnis place to see if Terry's in. When Matt opens the door, in shark pajamas with a grumpy, flushed face, she tries not to smile.

"Uh, hi Matt. Is Terry in?" He frowns.

"Yeah. He's supposed to be watching me, 'cause I'm sick, but all he's done all day is sleep." Smirking, she steps inside.

"You mean he didn't wake up at all?" Matt leads her to Terry's door and pushes it open, gesturing inside impatiently.

It's so dark that for a moment she's pretty sure he's trying to shut her into a closet. Then a dark lump of blankets stirs slightly.

"Matt, shut the door. You're letting the light in." Terry's voice is stuck in the familiar rasp, and Max resists the urge to snort.

"See? All he did today was kiss mom goodbye, go to the bathroom, make me a sandwich, and sleep. It wasn't even a good sandwich." Terry rolls over enough to look over his shoulder, squinting against the dim light spilling in from the living room. He looks like pale, sleepy hell, but manages to acknowledge her presence.

"Hey, Max. Scoot, twip." Matt snorts and turns away. The door shuts, encasing Max in darkness so thick she instantly breaks into a nervous sweat.

"I figured you'd be sleeping. That's all you seem able to do these days." Terry groans quietly and suddenly the light next to his bed flicks on dimly. She sighs, relieved, as he blinks furiously.

"Ow. Fuck." Sprawled across his bed with nothing but blankets concealing his nakedness, Terry's bruises stand out like splotches of ink on a white canvas. His hair sticks in the shape his pillow has molded it into, and his face is wan and sickly as he yawns. Slowly, he sits up, pulling his blanket around so he doesn't accidentally flash her.

"Man, if I spend one more night chasing down thugs, I'm going to die," he mutters emphatically. Max grins, settling on the edge of his mattress.

"Come on, Ter. It can't be that bad." He gives her a deadpan look and scratches the back of his neck, his eyes vacant and sleep-glassed. Max finds herself staring at him, warm affection creeping through her. She shakes it off quickly.

"I brought you something," she says, grinning widely as she digs in her bag. She resurfaces with a notebook and a steaming cup of coffee. He burbles unintelligible thanks as he gulps it greedily. Max grimaces- she can't ever understand how he takes it black and scalding without a flinch.

"Thank you," he manages, then opens the notebook. Inside is the day's homework along with her answers.

"You're letting me cheat? What, is it my birthday?" She laughs.

"No, I just figured you could use the help." He raises an eyebrow blankly. She fidgets, then caves quickly.

"And I think you should let me be Batgirl." Terry's face is in that moment, pricelessly shocked. She swallows her giggles with good grace.

"Max, no. First of all, Bruce would never go for it, and second, I can't train you, Max, I'm still learning myself! I mean, do you see this?" He pulls the blankets aside a little to reveal a disgusting yellow and green mottled bruise on his hip. But Max has never seen a naked boy's hip before, and is kind of fascinated. Terry is so very pale, his nude hip so sharply angled that she wonders for a second if she remembers her anatomy right. She quickly looks up when she realizes he's still talking.

"…came at me with a cattle prod, I mean, who uses those? And I clipped it on the counter this morning and nearly passed out." She rolls her eyes, then moves aside as he slides to the edge of the bed and levers himself to his feet with such caution that she gets up, laying a hand on his shoulder.

"Terry? You okay?" He blinks at her.

"Yeah. Just dizzy for a sec. Hang on." He grips her shoulders between his hands, his hold tight but not uncomfortable. He sways just a bit, then straightens. She winces when she hears his spine crack.

"Are you sure you're alright? Maybe you should go to the doctors." He grins at her. It's a lazy, indulgent grin that he never lets see the light of day. Max struggles to contain her growing panic. He waddles over to his dresser and digs around in the drawers, his blanket clamped around his waist. It slips a little as he bends down, growling under his breath.

"Man, my mom always rearranges my clothes, can't even find underwear…" Max twists her head so she can follow the line of his spine down the open mouth of the blanket, such soft white skin, with strong muscles. She's always liked that about Terry, and when he straightens to pull some boxers on underneath the blanket and it slips a little more in his grip, she doesn't look away. Finally he tosses the blanket on the floor, scratching his stomach absently as he searches for a shirt.

"Thanks Max, especially for the help with the homework, but I've got to get a shower before my mom gets home and then get ready to patrol. Again." He sighs, then looks up at her. She quickly fakes interest in the carpet.

"Look, Max, I really do appreciate the thought. And if I thought you could help me without getting hurt, I'd jump on Bruce and wear him down as fast as I could. But I just…" he sighs again, running a hand through his messy hair. Suddenly he arches his back in a stretch, arms up above his head as he groans fitfully. Max blinks at supple sinew and muscle before he relaxes again.

"Damn. I'm so tired," he whines. Max giggles.

"Poor Terry. You get really bitchy when you don't get your beauty sleep." He squints at her sleepily.

"I can feel the caffeine, but it's not doing anything. Uggh." He snatches his blankets up and settles back onto his bed, smothering his face into his pillow. Max smiles. He's out in seconds, of course, and Max tucks his blankets around him with absent affection. It isn't until she reflexively kisses him on the forehead that she catches herself, and quickly leaves.

The next morning, Terry looks ten times better when she sees him in school. He smiles at her.

"Did you call Bruce? He said someone told him I was sick." She shrugs innocently. She did call, but she doesn't want him to know how long it took her to finagle old Wayne into letting his protégé take a night off.

"Thanks." He hands her the notebook back, then pauses, peering at her curiously. Slowly he asks,

"This is a weird question…but did you tuck me in last night?" Max manages, just barely, to look surprised.

"Me? No way." He frowns, and they walk to class. Max has never been more grateful for silence.

AN: I've wanted to write a Batman fic for a while, but I want YAOI. But there are no other good, permanent male characters to pair Terry up with, besides Bruce. And I don't think Bruce would be interested in Terry, at his age. He's so damn cocky. XD

So this was meant to be fluffy, and some how it ended up being TerryxMax. Wtf. Oh, well.