Title: Awful Feels Softer
Fandom: DCU (Future-ish, I guess), Jason Todd/Tim Drake; implied Bruce/Jason
Word Count: ~6,300 words
Rating: hard R for Sex. It's kind of rough sex, even, but everything is very much consensual and everybody is an adult.

He really always looked the same to Tim. Red Hood had ditched the hood for a plain domino, but the uniform of jeans, and leather hadn't changed. The older man's hard planes were a combination of both tight muscle and a Kevlar-blend body armor that made the body's movement distinctive and lethal. A black gun at his hip was holstered in soft, worn camel-colored leather and the silver one he was reloading and inspecting carefully caught the reflection of a streetlight and winked back at him.

Red Hood smelled like rolled cigarettes and clean sweat and leather. Lots of leather.

And he didn't look up when Tim stepped out from behind the wall covering the air-conditioner and into the light, "It's been a while." Red Hood's gruff voice was non-committal.

Red Robin watched as the older man switched on the safety. There was no stink of metal in the air, he didn't notice any darker patches of blood on the gloves or the jeans Jason wore; he didn't smell gunshot residue. As much as Tim wanted to think that it was Jason practicing restraint, it was more likely just a slow night for the man. Winters were quieter than other seasons. Crime dropped as people stayed in around miserable Gotham Februaries, when winter storms picked up and dropped inches of snow that quickly turned dark, dirty and gray. Tim's boot crunched on the ice, "Not so long."

Jason took out the Kris and dumped something on it, probably an acetone-based cleaning solution judging by the smell, that splashed against the metal and dripped to the floor before he wiped the blade on his jacket until it was dry and re-sheathed it. "Fourteen months."

Tim would have tried to make a joke of it with anyone else. Something like how usually people wanted him gone longer. But as blasé' as Jason's tone was, he knew that was the wrong thing to do. He knew that Jason was always his most serious when he was exactly as nonchalant as he was acting now. "I'm here now. Something you need from me?" Moved closer to where the man was standing by the ledge.

"Nothing at all, Replacement. Or is it 'Replaced'? Which do you like better?"

And that was mean, but Tim had always thought that his subconscious was far more cruel to himself then anyone else could be. "You know you can call me whatever you want."

The strike of a lighter, the flare of the cherry of a burning cigarette startled the silence of the night around them as Jason took a drag, blew the smoke in Tim's direction and raised an eyebrow. "Whatever, Replacement." And he turned to the iron fire-escape and began to climb down.

The roar of a powerful engine echoed out of the alley a minute later.

It was several hours later when Red Robin had been neatly tucked away in the cave and Timothy Drake-Wayne was back out in jeans and a heavy winter parka with his worn converse losing grip under the snow that was poorly shoveled from the sidewalks.

It wasn't so much that Red Hood was a creature of habit, because he wasn't. Red Hood randomized as well as Batman- Bat*men*, as well as Robin and Batgirl. But Jason Todd was indeed a creature of habit.

Or maybe this was the only bar that was open until 6am. Tim wasn't too sure.

He pushed open the heavy wooden door that was surrounded in familiar neon signs and - "Hey Mel, the guy who's gonna pay my tab just walked in. Two shots of rye and two more beers, yeah? And hell. He's good for it, buy yourself a round, too."

Tim watched as Jason drained the last of the amber liquid in his glass as he unwound the thick scarf from around his neck and slid into the stool next to him.

A tumbler filled with an inch of whiskey appeared before him along with a frosted glass that had a foamy top. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Jason lean his head back and swallow his shot without even a wince for the burn of the alcohol.

Never one for hard alcohol, Tim ignored his own whiskey and took a cautious sip of the beer and swallowed appreciatively. It wasn't a complex brew, but it had a light, crisp taste, not too hoppy, not a wheat beer; probably just a solid, cheap pale-ale. He set the glass down and licked his chapped lips, "What is it they say about 'whiskey-dick', Jason?"

Jason snorted into his own beer, draining a quarter of it before giving Tim a hard shove off his seat, "Like you don't know, faggot."

Tim smiled, righted himself on the cracked, aged vinyl and took another sip before he pulled out three twenty dollar bills from of his wallet and placed them on the bar. "Are you done here?" The prickle of dawn that Tim's eyes couldn't see, but felt in his blood was growing more and more anxious as the sky outside grew lighter and lighter.

Jason reached over and quickly downed the whiskey that had been in front of Tim. "You're no fun, you know that?" But he pulled on his jacket, while Tim zipped up his own coat. "See ya, Mel. Think I'm getting punished - or lucky. Play my cards right? Possibly both."

The older boy followed Tim out into the cold, walking in a fairly straight line, "So how drunk are you?"

"A lot to very." Jason's heel hit a patch of ice and Tim caught him by the elbow before he went down.

"How glad are you that I drove here and didn't drink that alcohol?" Tim lead him over to the black hybrid sedan that Tim had parked across the street.

"A lot to very." Jason shoved Tim's hand off of him and got into the passenger side seat while Tim slid into the driver's side, put on his buckle and started the engine. "This is such a gay-looking car-"

The heat blasted on, drowned out whatever insult Jason was in the middle of saying. A moment later he reached over and turned the temperature down a few degrees and the listened as the fans quieted. "Hey. Protecting our earth using fuel-efficient and alternative renewable resource cars isn't gay." Tim reached over to the console again and depressed a button, "Besides... seat warmers."

He heard Jason sigh in content and smiled to himself.


Jason snorted, "So where are we going, Replacement? Where are you going to take me in my weakened and drunken state to have your way with me?"

Tim hummed, "The cave."

He watched Jason open his eyes and look at him, "The cave?"

Tim turned on the radio for the rest of the drive; didn't say anything until he cut the ignition when he parked inside the hanger-garage attached to the manor.

Jason didn't move from his seat.

"Why not? I mean, you know Bruce is out of the country. And you know Dick doesn't use the cave at all. Alfred probably isn't even here - he *likes* the penthouse." Tim clicked out of his seat-buckle, but didn't move to get out of the car. "But... We don't have to, Jason, really."


Tim smiled guiltily, "Because I want to have cave-sex and this is the only one that has clean, matted floors."

Jason's smile was wicked. "God. You're so *gay*."

"Works out well for you, huh?"

Tim honestly hadn't been sure that this was a good idea at first, as he lead Jason through the grandfather clock, a path that had to be so familiar and so *painful* to the man, but when Jason reached the landing at the bottom of the cave, he'd looked more curious than sad.

More interested than homicidal, so Tim thought maybe it would be okay.

"Hm. It looks different."

"It doesn't really get used as often as it did even just a year ago." Tim leaned against the far console and watched as Jason looked around, absently touched things, examined lockers and files and the bookshelves that contained the tombs of Bruce's mission. Watched as Jason put a dirty hand to the clean, warm glass of the Case. "We can go somewhere else, Jason. I... you already know I made a reservation at the Season's."

But Jason turned towards him, began to stalk forward, shrugged off the heavy leather coat and let it drop to the floor with a dull thud. "You wouldn't be having any second thoughts, would you, Replacement?"

Tim leaned up to push himself off the side of the console, but Jason was right there to aggressively throw him back into the steel casing. His head slammed back and caused vibrations of pain to sing through his vision and out of his molars. The breath he blew out was quickly swallowed by Jason and the man's mouth and tongue delved deep into his own parted lips as a strong, muscular, denim-clad thigh was shoved roughly between Tim's legs.

The arm that wasn't at the side of Tim's throat, squeezing and bruising, climbed up the back of his neck where, deft, calloused fingers slid through his hair and pressed at spot that had slammed against the console and caused his vision to glitter behind closed eyelids.

All the while Jason's tongue made quick work of the inside of Tim's mouth, made his previously aching molars quiet as his moans were coaxed out and Jason ate them up; drank them down. The burn of his chapped lips felt a horrible sort of wonderful as Jason dragged his own across them, coating them with saliva that tasted like tobacco and the bite of cheap whiskey.

Or maybe that was just Jason *actually* biting him.

It was like gravity, the pull that Tim felt to Jason, it had its own... its own measurement of distance over time and it wasn't long before Tim wrapped his own arms around Jason's neck, wrapped his legs around Jason's waist and tried to take the kiss for something of his own.

Jason's hand in his hair roughly yanked down and his face and chin shot up causing his lips to drag up over Jason's as the other man's mouth moved to bite at his now exposed neck. "You lost weight, kid." Jason licked along the scar, framed it in several bites, "Aren't you supposed to gain weight in fancy Ivy-league colleges?"

Tim shoved Jason's face away from his neck, used the fact that his back was still against console to reach down and pull off the baggy thermal shirt he was wearing and throw it over Jason's shoulder. "Heh. Well, I was still working a few weekends a month and cafeteria food just doesn't have the Alfred seal of approval. Besides, you probably don't remember, but I was kind of a chubby kid before Bruce literally *whipped* me into shape. That sort of thing sticks with you." He unwrapped his legs from around Jason's waist and reached down to rub and scratch lightly over the thin denim at Jason's groin; teased the older man's penis that was taking an interest and getting into the game.

Jason moaned out a chuckle, "You were a fat kid? Ha!" And then he leaned in to lick at Tim's right nipple while his other hand thumbed open the button at the top of Tim's jeans and shoved them down and around his ankles.

And Tim had to stumble a little as he stepped out of the puddle of clothes because Jason had chosen that moment to work his thumb into the slit of his boxer-briefs, his nail grazing the head of his cock, just missing the slit. "Not *fat*, just... well there was *baby* fat... at four*teen*. It. It wasn't very becoming on me- Ohhh. Jason."

"Yes." Jason hissed out, then leaned in again and gave him, what Tim thought was a more conventional kiss, soft and wet and consuming. It made Tim sort of miss the angry one; the one where it felt like Jason was trying to eat him whole. But when he pulled back from the current kiss, Tim missed this one as well. "This *isn't* cave sex, Pretender."

Tim knew this. In theory.

"Come on." Jason pushed Tim's hand from where it was resting on his lower stomach and walked towards the back of the caves where Bruce hadn't placed flooring down and the ceilings lowered so you could actually see the rock formations without much artificial light.

He watched as Jason walked away, watched as he kicked off the heavy utility boots and pulled off his own shirt, tugged down his pants and stepped out of them, away from Tim and further into the dark.

"This works better if you follow me, Tim." His voice echoed around him.

*Tim*. How was Tim supposed to argue with that?

He abandoned his pile of clothes that had been already been discarded. Tim had nothing else to strip. It was an awkward feeling, being this bare in this part of the cave. Neither Robin, Red or otherwise was here with him. Timothy Drake felt shapeless and small in the cave he had for all but grown up in. But Tim had always been good at following, so he did just that; followed the trail of clothes that Jason had carelessly dropped.

Tim had just stepped off the sealed laminate and onto the natural rock and dirt floor when he felt a large presence shout at him from a dark shadow and half a breath later a hard kick to the back of the knee sent him face first into the tepid, slightly damp sediment.

Some part of *some* Tim Drake was there to react, because he spun his torso just enough to take the abuse from his face and onto to his shoulder. He wasn't quick enough on his recovery and he felt Jason launch a knee into his right bicep femoris. The yelp couldn't be held in and Tim got to hear it two or three more times as it echoed up and off the walls.

A breath later, Jason's muffled groan followed right behind it, when Jason had rolled Tim over and Tim had thanked him with a left knee to the older man's solar plexus.

Jason settled his heavier weight over Tim, locking him down and laughed a cold, obnoxious snicker in his face which made all the pain worth it when Tim leveraged his head so that his forehead met Jason's nose with a sickening crunch.

"Fuck!" Jason howled and grabbed Tim by the throat before he reached up with his other hand and cupped his nose that was dripping with blood, getting in Tim's eyes. "Fucking cunt!"

And... they stayed in that position for a few moments, Jason's heavy breathing and Tim's wheezing loud in the cavern around them. And then Jason laughed again and closed his eyes as he squeezed even tighter around Tim's throat. Tighter and tighter until his vision started to go black around the corners. Struggling against Jason's perfect form was like trying to peddle through wet, dense sand.

He heard another sickening pop when Jason moved his broken nose back into alignment and the hand at his neck eased and stroked down his sternocleidomastoid and down to cup his shoulder.

The thud of his heartbeat was so loud in his ears that he thought it too must be echoing throughout the cave and god! He was so hard that it was a challenge to even notice that Jason's hand had moved down his ribs and past his hips and ghosted past his penis to just *press* calloused fingers under his balls and that was all Tim needed to take a big, deep surprised breath and rejoin Jason in the present.


Hard fingers pressed *harder* and a tongue licked into Tim's mouth with purpose; cleaned up the drops of his own blood. "You, my Replacement, are just too much fun to play with." Tim felt his cock spit out pre-come with each press from behind and he heard himself pant and moan even more as Jason leered down at him. "Yeah - you're getting me all messy and wet. The clean Robin. The tidy one, I'll bet. Look at you now. What would *Bruce* think?"

Before Tim could even think about an answer, Jason leaned down, dragged his teeth up and over his left nipple, made Tim whine and gasp into the humid air and pump his hips up into Jason's thigh. He could feel the coarse hair there, the sweat, even when Jason licked a fat stripe up his neck and bit his chin and jaw so hard Tim was sure there would be a bruise the next day.

Jason's erection stabbed at his stomach and pelvis with their breaths moving them, rocking them to-and-fro. "*Fuck*, you feel good." And that was more than enough incentive for Tim to strain his neck forward to steal a kiss from Jason's open, gasping mouth and work his hips harder, every pass over Jason's leg brought him closer and closer and he became slicker and slicker and his breath became rougher and rougher.

Then, Jason sunk his teeth into Tim's bottom lip, ripped the wet, pink flesh and the small capillaries there, pulled at the broken skin with his teeth before he let go and kneeled up and off of him. Jason laughed softly as he sat back on his heels and lazily stroked his own cock.

Tim's mouth filled with saliva and blood, he felt it run down his chin and the sides of his neck to mingle with the sweat that had broke out in a thin layer all over his body. His hips pumped just once into the warm air left by Jason's body, before he gritted his teeth and held them still. "God, Jason. *Do* it." He heard himself gurgle, in a voice that didn't sound like his own, that bounced off the ancient walls of the cave.

His breath sounded wet so he turned his head to spit out the blood and saliva that was flooding his mouth, but before he could do so Jason reached down to shove three fingers in, pressed hard on his tongue and his teeth. Made Tim breathe heavily from his nose as he sucked on the digits; used his teeth to feel the ridges and swirls of fingerprints and the hardened skin of callouses. He tasted the copper of his own blood, the earthy quality of dried tobacco and the chalkiness of the cave floor and limestone. It made him gag a little, but he kept sucking, followed Jason's hand as he thrust it in and out of his mouth.

Made Jason narrow his eyes in lust, in heat, as the older man worked his cock harder. "Gonna fuck you through the *water-table*, Tim."

Tim opened his mouth wider and stole a breath around Jason's fingers, panted around them for a moment, before he felt the sticky fingers retreat.

Jason's mouth was bloody - probably matched his own. His tongue snaked out of the corner of his mouth the taste the welled up blood. The cold, wet fingers that traced down his ribs and over his hips went lower and lower until they circled Tim's hole and despite the sweating and the blood and spit, it was still a rough tease. Tim couldn't stop the shakes that wrecked his body, danced up his arms, and slipped down his spine.

He felt more pressure, more *burn* when the man's digit pressed in and the shocked shriek was his own and it made the bats screech back at him. He hears their wings flap in the air in time with his heart.

"God. Tim. So fucking tight." Tim squeezed his eyes shut and felt Jason's teeth in the bowl of his hip. "Relax, Tim. Kid, you have to *relax*."

But he couldn't! All he could do was pant helplessly in the humid air of the cave, rock his head back against the limestone and sulfur. He wanted to twist away, he wanted to pull Jay in closer.

"Tim... Tim... *Tim*." And then he felt tight, warm lips wrapped around the head of his penis and he screamed back at the retreating bats. And the finger pressed deeper and he felt something split and just like that he was wet inside with bright red pain and then nothing but the hot, encompassing pleasure of Jason's finger at his prostate.

The pain/pleasure made him feel like he was losing his mind, second by second.

"Fuck... *Fuck*. Tim. M' sorry." Jason apologized against his groin, teeth scraping against his hip as a second finger joined the first and began to scissor and stretch him until he felt like two parts of himself.

"God. Jason just f-fuck me!" He pleaded again. He wanted to kick at the floor, pound at it with his feet and fists. He wanted to wrap his legs around Jason and pull him forward. He wanted Jason's mouth again. On his lips. On his dick. At his neck.

"Okay... okay." Jason sounded breathless as he pulled out his fingers, wiped them on Tim's stomach leaving pink stains against his skin. His voice was raw even though Tim didn't remember hearing the man yell even once.

Time halted; it dragged and burned and he felt frozen as Jason crawled away from him and towards his jacket several feet away. Tim brought his legs up, hugged his knees to his chest when he heard the sound of foil. And then Jason was there, pushing in with a slow, strong stroke. No ceremony despite the fact that it felt like the entire *night* had been one celebration of sorts. "Oh. Oh, Jesus - *fuck*. *Jay*." The moans that came out of his mouth were obscene and he couldn't stop them. He squeezed his eyes shut and balled his hands into fists and clenched up tight because it hurt about as much as the endorphins would allow.

Jason didn't say anything. His voice was caught in his throat as he just rocked. The cadence of his hips gained momentum and the hands gripped Tim's narrow thighs squeezed, cupped and scratched in some sort of chaotic pattern. "So fucking *tight*. How do you *stand* it, Tim?"

He wasn't sure why Jason was asking him questions. He wasn't sure why Jason wasn't moving. The man just held his hips, so tight that Tim knew that there would be bruises there for the next few days. Physical reminders of what they were doing right now. Reminders that Tim could watch fade away, hour by hour.

It was one of the things Tim depended on with Jason. That the older man would constantly leave physical reminders of himself all over Tim whenever they were together.

Scars, bruises, blood. The smell of the Marlboro Reds that Jason smoked.

Tim often felt he could ghost through his relationships with people. They were shallow and distant; one dimensional. But with Jason, he had no choice but to be slammed against the frame of whatever sort of relationship that they had built, that was subsidized by Bruce Wayne, by Batman, by the Mission.

The physical signs of life that Jason left on Tim were *important*.

So when Jason stopped fighting him, and paused, just carefully, hypnotically, rocked his hips, and the skin at Jason's pelvis met the back of his thighs, his ass, with just a whisper of intent, panic and confusion swelled up in Tim, rose up like high-tide of the Atlantic ocean.

He felt full with Jason in him, but empty without the assault of motion and fists, Tim felt like was drowning in sand.

Tim felt his body tense up, felt every muscle pull itself tight, felt himself squeeze Jason inside him, tried to compel the man to start moving.

"Jay... *Jay*. You... please... please move!" He heard himself plead in between shocky breaths of air. He felt his nails dig into the skin at Jason's forearms. Seeking to mark, seeking the sweat and skin. They scrabbled for purchase without his consent. Out of control.

And it was like a damn broke in Jason, because then the man's hips were moving without precaution. Battering down whatever wall Tim had built up in his head. With every third thrust, Tim felt Jason's cock head nudge at the gland inside of him, caused stars to burn in his vision, white hot light. Caused him to scream out and arch his neck back, slam his head against the limestone and evaporated minerals, thousands of years old. "*Jason*."

Calloused fingers and palms loosened their grip on Tim's hips and mapped the skin down the sides of his ass and came around to cup the back of his knees and Jason leaned over him, bent him in half until he could feel Jason's sweat drip down on to his stomach. The beads of moisture ran together with the pre-come leaking from Tim's cock on his belly.

Faster and faster Jason pushed into him, filling him and then retreating back. The ebb and flow speeding up, trying to reach an inevitable crescendo.

"Come on, Tim. Tim. Tim." Jason breath was over him, smelled less like whiskey, more like himself and the stale cave air that Tim had both dreams and nightmares about. "Oh, Tim. God! Tell me you're close! Please, Timmy."

The sweat and pre-ejaculate on his stomach swirled in between his own fingers, under his nails, until he was slick and wet and able to slide his hand down to grab his penis and start to stroke in rhythm with Jason's hips. Tease the head and groan into the air between them.

He made sure not to shut his eyes, made sure to lock them on to Jason's as he felt the white light of orgasm wash over him, send chills down his spine and come through his fingers and shoot on to his already slick chest.

He sighed in exhaustion and really looked at Jason's face. Sweat at the temples and a frantic, panicked look in the older man's eyes.

"Oh, God Tim. I can't... I can't stand it." Jason slammed his hips in faster and it burned and Tim felt the wince on his face before he could stop it.

His hand was gross, covered in sweat and come and whatever was hanging around in the cave air, but sex was messy, so Tim brought one hand up to cup the back of Jason's head, brought it around to trace the shell of his ear. Trace at his open, panting mouth. "I know. Jason." His breath hitched, again without his say-so. "Come on, Jay. Come," he groaned out.

"Don't leave me!" Jason wailed as he bent Tim over further. Until Tim could feel the pain of the stretch, his knees nearly at his chin.

"I won't. I'm right here, Jason. I'm right here." Tim let his hand snake behind the man's neck, gather the drops of sweat and traced his down Jason's spine. Each vertebrae seemed to be making a point in Tim's own rough palm.

"Timmm. I don't know what I'm doing. What do I do?" Lost and confused. Violent.

"It feels *good*, Jason. It feels good?" Further and further his fingers slipped until Tim could slide the tips of his sweat-covered fingers down Jason's crack.

"God, yes, Tim. So, good. You're... so tight. So good. Better-"

Tim circled Jason's hole, pressed the tip of his index finger in and the man's words were cut off as Jason screamed into the rock at Tim's shoulder, came with long shouts and let go of Tim's legs to grab at his shoulders and press Tim's shoulder blades into the floor.

And Tim knew that they had been loud. They had screamed and shouted. The groans and panicked breaths. But the silence afterwards, when Jason was in a boneless heap on top of him, it was a slap in the face. Heartbeats and echoed drips of moisture off of a stalactite from far away were nothing but white noise.

Tim just let Jason lay there, larger body pressed the air out of him until Tim felt his eyes droop shut and the hand that was slowly and firmly petting Jason's back and shoulder felt like it had a lead weight attached to it.

Tim let Jason start to feel like himself again; start to knit the layers and layers of issues back together again until the bravado was back. Until he could lie without crying.

Tim could absolutely relate to this need. This sort of *compulsion*. And he took the time to mend his own psyche, pull on his own game-face, so that Jason wouldn't be alone.

The frayed edges could be burned off.

He leaned up to kiss Jason's shoulder, wiped his brow on the hard, smooth muscle. Politely ignored the way one of Jason's hand swiped at his red-rimmed eyes. Tim knew he would be ready soon. It never took *Tim* very long to gather up the loose pieces and Jason had always been better than him at nearly everything.

"Wow." Jason breathed from on top of Tim, still panting, trying to catch his breath while Tim attempted to do the same. The come was drying between them, cooling quickly.

Back up, Tim told himself. Turn it down. Turn everything down. "So that's cave-sex, huh?" Tim dragged a hand roughly through his own hair, tried to smooth it down, gain back some sort of control, no matter how small.

He felt Jason's laugh from his position under the larger man and it felt really good. "Yeah. That's cave-sex, Replacement. I can't believe you've never done that before."

Jason rolled most of the way off, skin only stuck to each other a little. He kept one leg thrown over Tim's hip, though. It felt good. So good, that he couldn't stop himself from petting, really feeling the strong, powerful muscle there. "Believe it." His other hand reached down and wiped up the almost-dry come on his stomach and chest. Before he could even blink the fingers were in Jason's mouth, tongue licking the web of skin between his middle and index finger. He felt the sharp outline of Jason's teeth, saw the hollow of his cheeks. "Oh - Jesus. That's." Tim couldn't look away. "I've only been thinking about it since, oh. I was pre-pubescent, though. The echos. The humidity."

The finger popped out of Jason's mouth with a wet smack, "Never? Not with Dick? Not with your Super-Clone? Not with... heh. Any of the Bat-girls?" Jason grinned lewdly.

Tim stared contently at Jason, watched as the grin faded into a waiting smile. "Jason, I never slept with any of them." He felt his face heat up when Jason looked at him strangely. "I've only ever had sex with you." He paused, let Jason think about that, "I mean, there was that one time, with *Tam* in a cave, but I was bleeding out pretty bad and a dozen or so ninja were in the corner. But it's not like they were there for an orgy."

Jay snorted and patted Tim on his stomach below his navel, "You're so gay."

He raised an eyebrow and bit back an amused smile, "How come you've clearly slept with more guys than me, yet *I'm* the gay one?"

"Because, Pretender, for every dude I've fucked, I've slept with two *extremely* hot chicks. And Bruce doesn't count. He's... the exception to the rule. The Boss? Well... you should know all about that, right Baby Bird?"

Tim leaned up, wiped the sweat from his eyes, "Know all about what, exactly?"

Jason paused and sounded false-ambivalent when he asked, "You never fooled around with Bruce?"

And that made him pause, and smile curiously at Jason, "Bruce never wanted to have *sex* with me, Jason." Tim shook his head a little, "I only even worked with Bruce a small fraction of the time. We both worked hard to... need each other as little as we could while still functioning as 'Batman and Robin'. Bruce and I... were barely even around each other all that much until my father... and even *less* after that, actually."

Jason was quiet and Tim watched closely as the man's cerulean blue eyes tracked back and forth in thought while Tim waited for the new revelation to sink in. "Are you sure about that?" Jason hadn't sounded sure at all.

Tim had the pieces of Bruce and Jason's relationship in order before the boy had even died. It had bloomed in the developer solution in the red light of his dark room when he was twelve years old.

And Tim knew that he would never have the relationship with Bruce that Dick had with the older man. Tim was sure he'd never have the relationship that Bruce and Jason had.

He's 97.9% sure that he will not have the same relationship with Bruce as Damian.

It was these thoughts and almost ten years of acceptance that allowed Tim to level a calm, honest look at Jason, "I'm positive." He shifted to crack his spine, felt the bones shift and pop back in place and he hoped it looked as blasé as he wanted it too. "Guess I'm not really such a good replacement for you."

The man's face, when he glanced over, looked stricken, but the words out of his mouth didn't match, they were callous and mean, "Clearly you just aren't pretty enough."

Tim knew this already, so he just smiled with closed lips. "Are we really talking about your relationship with Bruce?"

"Are we really talking about yours?" Jason glared back at him, but never even thought about moving his leg off of Tim. As if the younger man would go anywhere, want to be anywhere else.

"Bruce only really ever touched me when he was literally pounding the mission into me and then the careful, measured touches that he gave every time someone else died. The irrational part of my mind, the side that's even more paranoid then what I openly show, screams at me that Bruce started to love me more and more as the people in my life died."

"Fuck. So, what does the other side tell you?"

"The rational side? The side that knows that I can use logic to convince myself of anything?" Tim didn't let himself sigh, "I told myself that it was several things, like how, as he took the opportunity to comfort, the touches became a fraction more natural. I was around more. He could more easily relate to me."

"That's really fucked up, Tim. They call me the crazy one?"

"I generally don't think people limit themselves on the sanity of Robins. For instance, anyone who has spent just thirty seconds with Damian, knows that the insanity is strong in that one. Or possibly he's just an ass."

Jason growled into Tim's neck, "I *hate* that kid. Why does looking at him make me want to... I don't know. Smoosh his face in."

"It just kinda does. Practice restraint, though - he's a biter." Tim let his voice trail off before he gently prodded, "Jason."

Jason sighed, pressed his face to the crook of his neck and breathed in deep, the tip of his tongue catching a bit of salt and sweat from Tim's skin. "You're not allowed to forget about me, Tim. Don't *forget* about me."

Tim raked his fingernails gently through the hair at Jason's neck and followed the hairline up and around the shell of an ear, "What are you talking about? Jason, *no one* could forget about you. No one is forgetting about you."

A large, powerful arm wrapped around his waist and Jason turned his face into the damp cave air, "You all already are. Bruce... he's never even in Gotham these days, hasn't been all *year*. He's been to Japan, to France... He's been to Cape Town. He's never in Gotham anymore. He's forgotten about me." Tim watched Jason close his eyes. "Dick told me to my face, that I was Bruce's hang-up. And Bruce *forgot* about me and Dick doesn't *care*." Blue eyes opened once more and they were rimmed with pink, they were raw and irritated. "Everyone is moving past me."

"No. Jason. Jason, that isn't true." Tim heard his own voice and it sounded desperate. His breath caught in his throat.

He watched as the man's mouth formed a frail, bitter smile, "Fourteen months, Tim. You left Gotham. You're never here. You're forgetting about me right now."

"I was at *school*, Jay. It's not... It's not forever." He clutched tighter to the larger man, hoping that with the pressure and contact he could make Jason believe. "I could never leave Gotham for long. I couldn't *ever* forget about you. No one wants to leave you behind!"

Jason turned his head away from Tim's, rested a stubble-covered cheek on the cool limestone ground.

"Hey!" Tim rolled over, covered Jason with his body, snaked a hand up to push Jason's face so that he looked him in the eyes; blue to grey. "Jason. The only one staying away is you. *You*. The hand on Jay's jaw shakes a little in emphasis. "And you *know* how *easy* it would be to catch up. You *know* it, Jason." He let go of Jason's mandible with a small, short stroke, watched as the older man let his face turn away once more before he slid his own hand down to Jason's chest, over his beating heart.

Tim pressed a kiss to the crown of Jason's head and another where the color split to white. "I won't forget about you. I won't; I couldn't. I *couldn't*."