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Bruise on Your Conscience

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“I know that the police in Gotham are useless, or else they wouldn’t need us,” Bruce said mildly, glancing up as Jason emerged from the shower in gym shorts and a loose tee. “But you need to learn to use necessary force only out there, Robin.”

Jason made a face. Bruce was starting to get good at cataloguing these new faces, the faces of a Robin who wasn’t Dick. Jason’s involved a lot more pouting, in general.

Necessary force,” Jason spat and leaned his ass against Bruce’s desk, almost knocking over a half empty cup of coffee, kicking his long legs out in front of him. He smelled like soap and rubber and toothpaste. “B.”

“You shattered that officer’s arm, Jay.” Bruce kept his voice soft, almost disinterested. Jason arced up like a cat when he thought he was being attacked. “He didn’t deserve that.”

Jason scowled off into the gloom of the cave, mouth turned down, lower lip on the verge of jutting out. Bruce was still in his suit, cowl pushed back from his sweaty hair and making his neck too warm. He needed a shower too, and some sleep. It was Saturday morning at least, they could both catch a few hours.

“Jason.”

“Deserve,” Jason repeated, and then twisted to look down at Bruce. “You know, I can tell you the name and badge number of every officer whose dick I sucked on the street to keep myself out of a cell.”

His eyes were narrowed and cold, and around them, in the space between one heartbeat and another, the cave froze over.

Bruce felt like his veins were full of ice. He couldn’t… there was not enough room in his body for air, not with the sudden cold fury that was filling him as he looked up at his Robin, his Robin. He thought, slow and stupid, he came from the streets, what did I expect, that he wore a newsie cap and picked pockets the whole time? He thought, slow and stupid, I should have known.

“If you tell me who they are,” he started, in a voice as brittle as glass, “I’ll-”

Jason laughed. There was a nasty cut on his lower lip from patrol, it had broken back open and sent a thin trickle of blood down his chin. He wiped it away with the back of his hand, the red looking very dark in the gloom of the cave. His mouth was starting to swell up.

“B, please. What do you think’s gonna happen?”

“They forced - forced you to-“

Jason looked almost pitying. He gave the pout that meant, aww, poor baby, and tossed his tangle of wet, black hair out of his eyes. “No one forced me to do anything. I’ve got this mouth, I just had to learn how to fuckin’ use it.” He shrugged, and bit his bottom lip, teeth pressing into the cut and sending a fresh stream of blood down his chin.

Bruce looked away.

He didn’t kill. But he could hurt.

“It’s not right,” he said, stiffly. “They took advantage of you, Jesus, how - how old?”

Jason sighed, and straightened up. “You know why I love being Robin? When I’m in the mask, I don’t have to give that away to anyone I don’t want to. You already did that for me, Bruce. You did a good thing. Don’t beat yourself up over the details.”

“Someone,” Bruce muttered between his teeth. “Ought to be getting beaten up.”

Jason laughed again. He smelled like blood, now, and - and teenage boy. Bruce stared at the computer monitor in front of him, at nothing.

“Oh shit yeah, B. Necessary force, right?” He moved around behind the back of Bruce’s chair, leaned in to watch the monitor with him. Bruce had up the profiles of the officers who had gotten in the way that night. Jason reached out, leaning over Bruce’s shoulder, and tapped the screen. “Fuckin’ necessary.”

Bruce stared at the grainy profile shot of the officer who was currently in hospital with an arm shattered into a million jagged pieces and thought, viciously, good.

“Go on up to bed,” he said, hoarsely. “Get some sleep.”

Jason hesitated, and moved around to the side again, back into Bruce’s line of sight. His long fingers were playing with the hem of his shirt, and his mouth and chin were smeared with blood, there was blood on the back of his hand, and his lips were huge and dark. “Bruce.”

“Jason, go to bed.”

“Yeah, okay.” He paused again, though, looking between Bruce and the monitor. “Hey, you did this for me. I don’t have to - no one gets this except who I wanna give it to.” He tapped his bottom lip. “Never again.”

“Never again,” Bruce agreed, and nodded stiffly. He meant that promise with everything in him, he meant it from his bones. “If you - hurt an officer from here out, I’ll assume-“

“Necessary force.” Jason nodded. “Yeah, I get it.”

His hand, the bloody one, dropped down hard of Bruce’s shoulder as he passed. “Thanks, B.”

Bruce sat, stiff in his chair, until he heard Jason’s footsteps fade away, and then for some time after that. The computer hummed at him thoughtfully,and he hummed back as finally some of the ice left his veins, replaced with a slow, sick burn. He worked steadily, calmly, building several layers of encryption around a folder, into which he put the dossier of Officer Glenn Boyd. Then he pulled up last week’s patrol records, found the cop he’d stopped Jason from throwing headfirst through a window, and added that, too.

There’d be more, and Bruce would find them.

The sun was up, and shining, by the time he pulled himself up the stairs and into bed.

~

Jason Todd was bright, always smiling, eager to learn, worked hard. He didn’t have the advantage of a circus background like Dick, but he brought other skills to the table. Dick had taken to the acrobatics of the fight like a duck to water, but Jason already knew how to throw - and take - a punch.

“You gotta learn to fight dirty in the Bowery,” Jason told him, after pulling off a nasty low blow that had almost caught even Bruce off guard, “or you stop learning pretty quick.”

“Who were you fighting?” Bruce tossed him a water bottle, looked away as Jason sucked half it down and then squirted the rest over his head, the back of his neck.

“Oh, you know, everyone. Older kids, drug dealers, pimps-”

“Pimps?”

Jason shrugged, all loose limbs and long, boyish muscle. “I liked to stand up for the corner girls, no one else did. And then a few tried to recruit me.” He grinned, and dragged his lower lip through his teeth. The cut, days old now, was a dark red smudge just off centre, his whole mouth was still a little swollen. “Didn’t take.”

Bruce frowned, awkwardly. “But the cops,” he started, and didn’t know how to continue. His blood still boiled and iced over in turns when he thought about that, about the way Jason had been used.

Jason lifted a shoulder. “That was different,” he said shortly. “Come on old man, fight me again?”

“You’ve had enough for today.” Bruce shook his head, and grabbed a towel from the pile Alfred had left for them. “Go ice up, no patrol tonight.”

Pout pout pout. It was almost funny. Dick had relished every night off, bouncing away whenever he got the chance, stealing Bruce’s cars and tearing through the city, taking a line out by himself on the rooftops. Jason, on the other hand, Jason always wanted to be working.

“If I can’t patrol I wanna train,” he said, and Bruce could tell he was trying to sound reasonable, adult, even though the effect was ruined by the exaggerated moue of his lips. “How else am I gonna get as good as you one day?”

“So is that the plan?” Bruce asked, already bending to him, giving in. Jason grinned and squared up as Bruce slowly slung the towel around his neck. His blood was still up. He wanted to keep going, too, even as a small, tinny siren started going off in the back of his head. Danger, danger.

Yeah that’s the plan!” Jason exclaimed. “Robin 2.0, man. Bigger and better than ever, gonna take over the firm one day.”

“Oh, I see.” Bruce stepped up, got into a fighting stance. “Well in that ca-”

Quick as a flash, quick as lightning, Jason had ducked in, grabbed either end of the towel still around Bruce’s neck, and used it to pull him forward into a sharp, brutal headbutt. Bruce twisted away in an instant and put Jason down hard on the mats, but the damage was done, he could already feel his lip swelling, the blood beading up and dripping.

“Jesus Christ.”

“There,” Jason said in satisfaction, smiling up at him from his back, head tilted up and legs asprawl. “Now we match.”

“You’re too short to pull of that move,” Bruce shot back, to laughter. “You need to aim for the nose.”

“B, I got exactly what I was aiming for.” Jason popped back up like a jack-in-the-box, tossed his hair out of his eyes. “Again?”

His lip was throbbing. Bruce dragged the back of his hand over it, flicked the blood out onto the mat. He couldn’t stop himself from grinning back, even though it hurt, the stretch, and made the blood flow faster.

“Yeah,” he said, and nodded, sharp. “Yeah, again.”

~

Bruce spent his life in an abusive relationship with the city of Gotham and it was strange to see the same thing going on with Jason.

Dick - and Christ, everything Jason did was in comparison to Dick, still. Bruce didn’t know when that was going to stop, didn’t know how to stop it - Dick wasn’t a Gotham native and didn’t have any particular attachment to the place. He’d been happy enough to fly the coop, run away to another city, another state, start a new life like he was changing clothes. Jason, though, Jason was Gotham City to the blood.

“Leave the Bowery corner girls alone,” he was saying, quietly, as they perched on a rooftop casing out an abandoned strip club just off Crime Alley. “You think they do what they do for fun and profit? Be sweet to them, B, and they’ll be sweet to you.”

“How sweet do you think I need corner prostitutes to be to me?” Bruce wondered, peering through his binoculars into an upper window. No movement yet, but the drop wasn’t scheduled for another thirty minutes. “In particular.”

Jason let out a soft snort. “Not that kind of sweet, god.” He turned his back to gaze out over the rooftops and said in a voice just loud enough for Bruce to catch, “Fuck knows you could use it, though.”

Robin,” Bruce snapped, schooling the smile away from his lips before Jason turned back to him. “Language.”

“Are you fucking serious?”

“‘As a bullet.” He cocked his head towards the club and passed over the binocs. “I’m checking the perimeter, you know what you’re looking for.”

Jason took them with a sigh, and moved into Bruce’s space, kneeling as Bruce stood, looking up at him with a smirk.

“Sure do,” he said, and bit his smirk away before turning back to business.

Bruce hesitated, looking down at him, his messy, windswept hair, the tiny, vulnerable sliver of skin high at the back of his neck that his armour didn't cover.

“I’m not in the habit of roughing up teenage girls,” he said quietly, before he left. “You know I wouldn’t.”

Jason shrugged and didn’t look back at him. “Yeah, well, everyone else is. If I’m not looking out for them who will? They see everything, anyway. Keep them safe, be nice to them, and they’d be great for recon.”

“You - you said they tried to recruit you.” Bruce didn’t know why he was asking. He was supposed to be checking and rechecking the area, checking the traps, the surveillance. Jason stilled, and then twisted, still on his knees, to look up at him.

“Yeah, well, it’s not just teenage girls out there,” he said lightly. “At least I knew how to take care of myself.”

Bruce felt every inch of his suit pressing into him, too tight, just tight enough, holding him together. Jason’s face was all mask and mouth. Bruce wanted…

He didn’t know what he wanted.

“Never again,” he said, remembering his promise.

Jason tilted his head to the side, pressed his lips together, and gave a thoughtful hum.

“Never again,” he agreed thoughtfully. “Unless I say so.”

That, Bruce thought, made all the difference.

“Watch your windows,” he said tightly, and turned away. “I’ll be back in five.”

“I’ll be here.”

Dick, Bruce thought, as he shot out a line and went flying over the rooftops into empty, back air, was never this kind of trouble.

~

It was his own fault.

Jason wasn’t the same kind of innocent as Dick had been, Dick who’d grown up safe and loved, a storybook existence, a whole community of people to take care of him, let him thrive. Dick had liked girls, sure, had chased after them with red cheeks and a slowly growing confidence in his own attractiveness, but he’d never lost that touch of something wholesome and sweet. Even as he got more violent, more withdrawn, even as his temper burned and flared and eventually blew him away from Bruce completely, he was still the sweet, earnest circus kid at heart, believing in the good in the world, believing that kisses always came freely given.

Jason, on the other hand, used his sexuality like a weapon, razor sharp and vicious.

“Gafrini wants to fuck me,” he said once, casually, as they planned to take out a minor drug lord and his budget group of goons. “Send me in first and I’ll distract him.”

“What?” they were in the cave, dressed down, and Jason was perched on the corner of Bruce’s desk as he watched Bruce work at the computer, making his plans. “I’m not using you as bait.”

Jason scoffed. “Pretty well armed bait.” He leaned in close and traced his finger across the screen, outlining a route through the blueprints Bruce was studying. “I’ll go in alone, let him think I got too cocky and came without backup. I’ll get him to corner me...here, in this office. You come around this way, he’ll be way too into me to know what’s going on. Take out his security here and here while I’ve got him distracted and it’ll be almost too easy.”

He sat up, looking proud of himself. “We’ll be home for ice cream in no time.”

“I said,” Bruce started, and coughed, staring at the screen. Jason was too close, he gave off heat like a fire, burning Bruce’s skin. “We said never again. You’d never have to.”

“Who says I have to? If it’s my choice it’s okay.” Jason studied him closely. “It’s a good plan. The less backup he calls in the less people get hurt. I know you don’t like needlessly hospitalising goons. I’ll have him where I want him and when he goes too far I’ll drop him. Soon as you clear the warehouse I’ll take him out, easy.”

“And what will you be doing in the meantime?” Bruce couldn’t believe they were even having this conversation. Dick - had drawn looks, but he’d been bemused by it, maybe a little disgusted. He’d never wanted to use it.

“Putting my mouth to work for once, I dunno.” Jason looked frustrated. “It’s a good plan. The whole point of Robin is to be a distraction, I already know he wants me, we’d be stupid not to use that. You’re the one always telling me to exploit every resource!”

“Your mouth is not a resource!” Bruce snapped, slamming his hand down hard on the desk and making Jason jump.

“In my experience, Bruce, yeah it is.” Jason slipped down and put his hands on his hips. His white tee stretched over his shoulders, over the muscle he’d been starting to put on on his chest since he’d been with Bruce. He’d come from the streets scrawny and wiry, but he was bulking up now, under strict eating plans ruined weekly with ice cream, with daily training, with care. His jaw was set, sharp enough to draw blood and his mouth…

Christ.

Bruce stared at his keyboard. “Robin is a distraction in a fight. You’re supposed to jump around with a yellow cape and be a smartass, not suck dick for a job.”

He regretted the words the microsecond they came out of his mouth, sneaking a quick, guilty look up at Jason’s shocked face. Jason, who’d let his lips fall open and his hands drop form his hips in surprise.

Jason, who was laughing.

“Bruce. You said a swear.”

“For fuck’s sake.”

“And another one! Look, how fast do you think I move, anyway? I don’t suck dick on the first date, B, he’s gonna have to work a bit harder to get this Robin on his knees.” He reached out and clapped Bruce on the shoulder, and Bruce wanted to set himself on fire at the way the touch made him shiver. “Can you chill out about this? I’m not a kid.”

You’re nineteen, Bruce thought miserably. And you’re right.

“We’ll look at all our options,” is what he said out loud, on a sigh. “And...I shouldn’t have said that, Jason. I apologise.”

Jason just shrugged, and jumped back onto the desk. “Hey, it’s whatever. I guess I’m a different kind of Robin to Dick Grayson, huh?”

Bruce laughed dryly, and ran a hand over his eyes. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, you have no idea.”

~

Damn.”

“No.”

Jason’s eyes were bright and his colour high with adrenaline as he watched after Harley, skipping away across the rooftops with Ivy and a tired promise from Bruce to leave it, for now.

“I wasn’t saying anything,” Jason protested. “I was just saying damn.”

“Well don’t,” Bruce snapped. “Not Harley.”

Jason raised his eyebrows. “Oh...kay,” he muttered and then, shrugging it off in that easy, careless way he had. “Let’s go eat, I’m starving. Were those hyenas? Fuck man, Gotham is so fucked up.”

The kid was nineteen, and Harley was beautiful, dangerous, and fucking insane. Bruce supposed he could forgive a single damn, under the circumstances, and let himself be convinced into burgers and milkshakes. Just this once.

~

“Okay, is Slade Wilson fucking hot or is it just me?”

Bruce was going to have an aneurysm

“Just you,” he muttered, holding a thick wad of gauze to the superficial bullet wound (just a graze, he reminded himself, he might as well have tripped over) in Jason’s side. “Do we need to put you in for psychiatric evaluation, Robin? The man just shot you.”

“I mean, yeah.” Jason was stretched out in the back of the car, eyes closed, bits and pieces of his uniform scattered around the interior. “Yeah, but like. He’s fucking sexy.”

“You’re delirious,” Bruce informed him, forcing himself to be gentle as he checked the bleeding, dabbed antiseptic on the wound. The autopilot had them almost back to the cave, he could do more in the infirmary, check for infection, fever, shock.

Jason laughed.

“Never been shot before. It’s not so bad, actually? Doesn’t hurt so bad.”

“I’ve pumped so many painkillers into you you think Slade Wilson is attractive,” Bruce said dryly, “So don’t go making a habit of it.”

Jason just laughed some more. “First Harley, now Slade. Who am I allowed to be attracted to in this town, Bruce?”

“Eliminating my rogues gallery would probably be a good place to start.” Bruce sat back on his heels, looking at the sleepy, high, half naked Robin sprawled out in front of him. “Go find yourself a nice girl at a roller rink or whatever kids these days do.”

Jason smiled faintly. “Or a nice boy.”

“Or a nice boy,” Bruce allowed, and looked away. “Just not Deathstroke, please.”

“Hmm.” Jason stretched, and then winced as it pulled on his wound. “Hey B? Does it bother you?”

“He’s a bad man, a murderer and a thief, and an asshole. Yeah it bothers me.”

“No.” Jason frowned and kicked Bruce softly in the thigh. “Not that. That I like boys too.”

Bruce let out a long sigh, and made himself look at Jason’s face. He wasn’t very good at being a...father figure, or pseudo-father figure, or mentor or whatever he was trying to be with these kids. But he knew enough that this was important.

“No, Jay, that doesn’t bother me. I promise you that. Just your taste.”

Jason’s smile looked fainter. He was on his way out, the endorphin crash and the pethidine working against him. “I bet Dick Grayson just likes girls, huh,” he said, almost slurred. “I bet he was a good boy. Good Robin.”

“You’re a good Robin too,” Bruce whispered, but Jason, Jason was already out.

Bruce told himself, as he switched out the gauze and checked Jason’s pulse, clinical, professional, detached, that it was probably for the best.

~

Bruce wasn’t stupid, and it didn’t take him too long to start wondering whether Jason was deliberately turning the well mined resources of his mouth on him because he wanted something, or if it was just an innocent teenage crush.

Someone like Jason - a kid like Jason - didn’t expect to get anything for nothing. Bruce worked him hard, but he’d still been plucked from the streets to live in the lap of luxury. Also he got to beat up cops pretty much whenever he pleased. Bruce supposed it was reasonable for him to expect a price somewhere. But Bruce didn’t know how to tell him that being Robin was the only price Jason needed to pay. He thought Dick could probably explain it better, but he wasn’t ready for that yet. The two of them together.

But despite all the little touches, the casual innuendo, the brief, heated glances thrown his way, Bruce thought it was an honest mistake when he came down to the cave early one night to find Jason leaning against the car with his shorts around his thighs, jerking himself off with his head thrown back in ecstasy and one hand scrabbling desperately at the paint.

Bruce got maybe half a second to commit everything to memory before he made a low, hurt noise in his throat, startling Jason’s eyes and mouth open. He got to see the long, lean lines of him shaking with tension, he got to see the tendons in his neck standing out in effort, the red flush on his cheeks and throat, disappearing into the low neck of his tee. He got to see the quick, frantic jerk of his arm, muscles bunching, got to see the pink, wet head of his cock, leaking out onto long, callused fingers.

Got to see it, and then put it away.

Bruce.”

Jason sounded shocked and breathless and so close to coming that Bruce ached for him. He was frozen still, a deer in the headlights, with just enough presence of mind to cup his hand over the head of his cock, pushing it against his belly where he had his tee pulled up over his abs. Bruce couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, and he knew he had to, time rapidly falling away from under him and if he didn’t look away, turn away, apologise and leave the room, he was going to do something terrible.

“Fuck, Bruce?”

Jason’s voice was low and hoarse, tentative. Hopeful. He was still hard, hips still twitching a little, desperate to push into the wet grip of his hand. Bruce allowed himself the wild fantasy of dropping to his knees for him, hated it, hated himself, and finally, just as Jason started to slowly, hesitantly move his hand under the scrutiny of Bruce’s gaze, turned around.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, and heard a noise of pure, animal frustration behind him.

“Oh, god,” Jason moaned, and yes, Bruce could move fast when he needed to, was out of the cave in a heartbeat, back up to his rooms, and if he stood under the brutally hot cascade of water from his shower for long enough he was almost sure that he’d forget the sound of Jason’s impending orgasm.

Nineteen is not a child, an ugly, viciously pragmatic part of himself whispered in his ear. He braced both hands against the tile, face under the spray. His cock was thick and heavy, half hard and begging for a touch. Jason had been pink and damp and fresh, his mouth sweet and slack and so plush Bruce wanted to sink into it.

Nineteen may as well be a child, he thought, and turned the shower to cold, let the icy water pierce his skin like a million tiny needles.

Never again.

~

It was an hour before Bruce let himself go back down to the cave, consciously letting his tread fall heavy on the stairs to telegraph his approach. He needn’t have bothered. He found Jason scrubbed clean and pink on the workout mats in loose grey sweats, his hands and feet strapped, kicking the shit out of the punching bag. Bruce paused in the entrance, watching with his hands fisted deep in his pockets. Jason was good with his legs, strong, each kick powerful and precise. There was a fine sheen of sweat covering his skin, and his hair was wet, falling in his eyes and being impatiently flicked out every few kicks.

“You need a haircut,” Bruce said, voice surprisingly loud in the quiet. “Or you need to start tying it back.”

“It’s fine,” Jason said, and was immediately proved wrong when he had to toss his head again. “It’s not so bad when I’m in the mask.”

“Hmm.” Bruce wandered a little closer. Jason smelled like peppermint body wash and sweat. He kept his eye on the bag.

“You’ve got good form, kickboxing suits you,” Bruce said, lowly. “I’m gonna mix some taekwondo and savate into your training.”

Jason paused to catch his breath, and the bottle of water Bruce tossed his way.

“What the hell is savate?”

Bruce smiled. “Boxe française, French boxing. Based on a street fighting style, with a focus on kicking, long extensions.” Bruce squared up to the bag and demonstrated a few moves, feeling Jason’s attentive gaze on him. “Not very fashionable, but very effective.”

Jason hummed, tried to copy Bruce’s movements. He was passable after only a few tries, and Bruce itched to put his hands on him, correct his stance, his form.

He couldn’t stop thinking, though.

“I’ll revise your training plan,” he said roughly after a minute, hands shoved back in his pockets. “Okay?”

“Bruce.” Jason was staring at the floor, and Bruce’s heart skipped a beat or two, knowing, knowing what was coming next. “I, uh…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Bruce cut in quickly. “It’s fine.”

“No, I am, I’m sorry.” Jason peeked up at him through his bangs. “Not my finest hour.”

“Probably better places in the mansion to do it,” Bruce agreed, and forced a small smile. “It’s fine. It’s forgotten.”

Jason nodded, but still looked wary, embarrassed, spots of red dancing high up in his cheeks. “I don’t wanna mess things up,” he said quietly. “With us, you know?”

“Hey.” Bruce felt, not for the first time, not for the first time even that night, like the worst person alive. “You haven’t. Remind me to tell you what I caught Dick doing in the Porsche one time. Cost a fortune to get the interior cleaned.”

Jason cracked a smile at that, still embarrassed, but looking a little easier with it.

“Oh, god.”

“Yeah. And I mean,” Bruce coughed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Alfred’s been washing my sheets my whole life. We’ve got a gentlemen’s agreement to never mention it.”

Jason laughed, and seemed to take a deep breath. “Yeah, okay, sure. If that’s - sure.”

Bruce nodded and forced himself to reach out and clap Jason on the shoulder like it was nothing, like it was easy. His skin was hot and damp, and Jason looked up at him through his bangs, with his fat mouth open and wet, his eyes wide, and Bruce felt it like a punch in the gut.

“Get dressed,” he said hoarsely, “let’s go on patrol.”

Jason paused, staring up at him, breath heaving in his chest, muscles tense and shaking.

Bruce had never wanted to kiss anyone more in his life.

“Okay,” he agreed, nodding slowly. “Okay B.”

And he stepped away, slowly, like he did not want to do it, and walked towards the dressing rooms.

~

“Dick Grayson is a fucking joke.”

Bruce hardly had time to look up, to see Jason storm in with his mask off and his eyes red, before Jason was gone again, slamming up the stairs with a crash, throwing his case into a corner as he went.

So that had gone well, then.

He waited a few minutes before following Jason up, gathering himself for whatever inevitable storm was to come. He changed out of the Suit, first, even though a part of him wanted the armour. He’d learned somewhere along the way that some conversations should be had as the Bat, and some...really not.

A last look at the flash of Dick’s tracking beacon, coming now from within the mansion, and he slowly headed up to Jason’s room.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Oh, good, I hate talking.” Bruce leaned against Jason’s door frame, looked at the lump of Kevlar and messy curls facedown in the bed. “Dick always said I was better at brooding.”

Jason twisted to look over his shoulder, face full of storm clouds.

Fuck Dick.”

“Hey.” Bruce walked in a few steps, relocating himself to Jason’s desk chair. “You gonna tell me what happened?”

For a minute, he thought that Jason wasn’t, that he was going to sulk all night, staring at his ceiling. Bruce was getting ready to get up, try again later, when Jason spoke.

“He doesn’t care.”

Bruce sighed. “Dick has always cared too much,” he said, gently. “Just not always about the things I wanted him too.”

Jason looked at him sideways. “You guys had a real big fight, huh?”

“It...could have gone better,” Bruce said uncomfortably. “Yeah.”

“Yeah, but even so…” he looked frustrated, hurt. “He’s Dick Grayson. He’s the original Robin, I thought he was gonna be so cool, but he just…”

“He’s more than just Robin, Jay, and so are you,” Bruce reminded him. “He’s a grown man, too. He’s got his own life now.”

“Then why has he been traipsing around the country in a fucking Robin suit?” Jason snapped, bitterly. “It’s mine -“

He cut himself off, looked a little mortified at what he’d been about to say. Bruce kept quiet, waiting.

“If he wants to be Robin, then he should be Robin,” Jason eventually continued, quietly. “And if he doesn’t, then he should shut up and let me do it.” He sat up, and took something out of one of his pouches, held it out to Bruce. It was Dick’s tracker.

“He doesn’t want it.”

Bruce ran a hand over his face before reaching out, hand steady even as Jason’s fingers brushed his palm. “He’s not obligated to have it,” he said, hoarsely. “Neither are you.”

The look Jason shot him was incredulous. “You gave him everything, and he doesn’t want it. He doesn’t want you.”

“Jay…”

“But I do.” Jason bit his lip, eyes on the floor. “I want you, Bruce.”

“You want Robin,” Bruce corrected. “And you’ve got him.”

A soft laugh. “Yeah, sure.”

Jason was silent for a minute, a flush high up on his cheeks. His mouth was very full, and very red, and Bruce had to draw on years of training to keep his breath even and his heartbeat steady.

I want you, Bruce.

After a few minutes, Jason sighed and went on.

“You know, he yelled at me? I...hurt a cop. Pretty bad.” He snuck a glance up through his lashes, not guilty but trying to look it. Bruce just gestured for him to go on. “He said there was no way you could be okay with that, like he...like he knows us. Like he had the right.”

“Did you tell him?”

“No, I told him he was pathetic and walked out.” A twitch of a smile, then. “I lost my temper, B, but I just...I don’t get him. I wanted to get him.”

He was so obviously torn. Bruce regretted sending him out, even though he’d been so sure it would be good for them to meet, for both of them. The jealousy...should have been expected, really.

“Dick’s a good man, Jason,” he started. “And he was a good Robin. But he’s just a man, same as me, same as you.” He leaned across the space between them, caught Jason’s eyes, and casually tossed the tracker in the bin. Jason appreciated grand gestures, symbols, tangible declarations. “And now you’re my Robin, okay?”

Jason’s mouth was hanging open, eyes wide and a little wet. He was panting softly, and Bruce couldn’t stop himself from studying him, the elevated heartbeat, the dilated pupils, that mouth, swollen and so soft it was all he could do not to touch.

“I’m yours,” Jason repeated, and tilted his head, looked Bruce in the eye. “B.”

Bruce had to go,

“Get some sleep,” he said, roughly. “You’ll feel better in the morning.”

“B, wait.”

Jason was reaching for him again, for his hand, catching his sleeve.

“Jay…”

“Never again, right?” And with his free hand he tapped his bottom lip twice, held it there. “Unless I say so.”

Bruce had to escape, but he was frozen, standing in the middle of Jason’s room, with Jason in his fucking bed, that tight, tenacious grip on his sleeve, those huge eyes locked to his. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t breathe and he knew without a shadow of a doubt what Jason was seeing on his face.

I want you.

“I’m saying so, Bruce,” Jason whispered, and Bruce let himself draw one ragged gasp in, eyes falling closed.

“Goodnight, Jason.”

The door shut quietly behind him, and the walk to his own room stretched into a mile and all he could see was Jason’s face, triumphant, because he knew.

He knew.

~

Slade Wilson was back in Gotham, and Bruce was going to goddamn kill him.

Well, no, he wasn’t. But he was going to enjoy coming close.

“You got a new Robin, Bat.” Slade’s face was pushed up against a brick wall, shock of white hair gripped in Bruce’s armoured fist, but he didn’t seem too cut up about it. “You just picking these pretty boys up off the streets or you growing them in a lab or what?”

“Shut your mouth,” Bruce muttered, too angry to be original, and smacked Slade’s face hard into the bricks before ducking a stray elbow, dancing back out of range.

“Ooh, touchy. You fucking this one? Cause I gotta say, Bat, the mouth on that kid is criminal, wouldn’t blame you for having a ta-“

The heel of Bruce’s boot came around in a wide arc and smashed into Slade’s jaw with a satisfying crunch. Slade went flying backwards, bounced off the wall and hit the ground, and Bruce didn’t hesitate.

“Shut your fucking mouth,” he growled again, and let his fist add to the damage, working the weak point of Slade’s jaw as Slade grunted and laughed.

“Fuck, Bat,” he slurred through a mouthful of blood. “If you’re not using it maybe I’ll have a go. See what those lips can do.”

The next punch knocked him out. Bruce, ice in his veins, shattering through his bloodstream, didn’t let that stop him.

Later, after Robin had swung in and informed him that the police were on their way and so was an ambulance and holy shit, B, you fucked him up, after they’d taken the car back to the cave in thick, stony silence, after they’d both showered and Alfred had taken one look at his swollen, bruised hands and thrown him some ice before heading to bed, after the reports had been written and the adrenaline had finally died down, after all that…

Jason cocked his head.

“So you really went to town on Deathstroke tonight, huh,” he said, mildly. He was in his standard post patrol clothes, loose sweats, an oversized tee, hair damp and curling over his eyes. Even in the chill of the cave he looked warm and pink, scrubbed clean and fresh as a peach.

Bruce looked, and looked away.

You fucking this one?

“He deserved it,” he said tightly. “He’ll heal.”

“Well yeah, B, they all deserve it,” Jason said, parking himself on his corner of Bruce’s desk and looking down at him with shadowed eyes. “But I mean…”

Bruce let out a long sigh. Maybe I’ll have a go.

See what those lips can do.

“Call it,” he started, voice rough, a low rasp in the dark of the cave. “Call it necessary force.”

Jason smiled, a sharp quirk of his mouth. “Oh I see,” he hummed, nodding. “How necessary, B?”

Bruce held his gaze. The heat coming off all that soft, fresh skin was like a bonfire. Bruce wanted to bask in it, wanted to dive into it and just let himself burn. His knuckles were throbbing, his head was pounding, and he wanted, oh, god, he wanted.

“Very fucking necessary.”

“Bruce.”

The first slide of Jason’s fingers over the back of his hand sent Bruce’s heart into overdrive. He twitched, before he could stop himself, and Jason made a soft, soothing sound, rubbed the pad of his middle finger over Bruce’s swollen, bloody knuckles. “It’s okay,” Jason said. “It’s okay.”

“It’s not,” Bruce sighed, and they both stared at their hands, Bruce’s lax on the desk, gently bleeding, Jason’s smooth and brown, long, unmarred fingers rubbing over the torn skin.

“Does it hurt?”

Bruce almost laughed. “Yeah.”

There was a moment, he thought, where he could have stopped.

A second ago, thirty seconds ago, a week, a month. A million moments, and he’d just closed his eyes and blazed past them all.

He turned his hand over and let Jason touch his palm.

“Let me,” Jason started, voice a little shaky, and then didn’t seem to know how to continue. He traced bloody streaks over the meat of Bruce’s palm, the base of his thumb, down his wrist.

The cave was silent and dark around them, just the light from the computer creating a small, private island around the desk. Jason’s lashes cast shadows halfway down his cheeks, his jaw was sharp enough to cut, lined in the blue glow from the monitor. His mouth, oh god, his mouth. Bruce could feel his resolve crumble away like ash, and he knew he was lost, knew he was Jason’s. Had been Jason’s, even when he couldn’t admit it to himself. It felt like looking down and seeing the earth had fallen away from under him without him noticing. It felt like the most natural thing in the world.

“Just let me.”

And Bruce did.

Jason lifted Bruce’s hand, cradled carefully in his own, and pressed his lips to Bruce’s knuckles. Bruce hissed, softly, and Jason glanced up and smiled.

“Don’t be a baby,” he murmured, and Bruce’s blood was on his lips.

“Jay…”

“Yeah, B.”

Jason kissed him again, opened up his fingers and pressed kisses down each of them in turn, his lips pushing in like cushions, like something plush and opulent. So out of place in the cave, like they’d always been. Too lush, warm, vital. And so, so soft.

“We can’t,” Bruce said, stupidly, and Jason just smiled.

“We already are,” he said, and kissed the inside of Bruce’s wrist. Bruce shivered; he could feel his pulse pounding against Jason’s mouth, slamming through his veins

“We shouldn’t,” he amended, like it meant anything.

Jason shrugged. “Says who?” He turned his attention back to Bruce’s knuckles, peppering them soft, sucking kisses. “I don’t think we need to listen to anyone outside this cave, Bruce.”

“You don’t listen to half the people in this cave, either,” Bruce muttered, and Jason laughed, light and easy and everything Bruce wasn’t.

“Neither do you. How long have I been saying, B?” He let go of Bruce’s hand, and the absence of touch was like a slap, until then he was twisting, sliding down off the desk and onto Bruce’s lap. Warm and solid and sweet, thighs straddling Bruce’s, palms pressed to Bruce’s chest.

I want you.”

Bruce swallowed and carefully set his battered, shaking hands on Jason’s narrow hips. “I know.”

“And do you want me?”

Bruce closed his eyes. Jason gazing at him wide eyed and eager, so painfully hopeful that Bruce could hardly stand it. He wanted him so bad it was killing him. Wanted him with every cell in his body, with every breath he took, with every heartbeat.

“Yes,” was all he whispered, heartfelt, and Jason’s hands slipped up his chest and looped around the back of his neck.

“Yeah I know, B.” It could have been smug, but instead it just felt like permission. “Will you kiss me now?”

Bruce - still - hesitated. He looked down and smoothed his hands up over Jason’s hips to his waist, rucking his shirt up a little until he could feel warm skin under his palms. Jason squirmed on him a little, like it tickled, and Bruce could taste his heart in his throat.

“Or,” Jason continued, voice low in Bruce’s ear, “Do you need me to kiss you? Do you need me to take the choice away from you, do you need it to be me, because I can, B, I-”

No.

One hand reaching up to tangle in Jason’s hair, the other curling strong around his back to pull him in, Bruce crushed their lips together at last, at last. Swallowing the soft, surprised moan, he kissed Jason like they were both dying, open mouthed and wet, licking over his lips, sucking and biting. He wouldn't be a coward in this, he thought fiercely, if he was going to jump off the cliff he was going to do it with his eyes open.

Jason tasted like red Gatorade, sweet and salty, and he gave back just as good as he got. He’d been waiting too, maybe for longer even than Bruce, for this kiss. He pushed his tongue into Bruce’s mouth, messy, sloppy, too hard and too much, clawing at Bruce’s neck to draw him in and keep him there.

“B,” he moaned into Bruce’s mouth, over and over. “B, please.”

Don’t let me go, don’t push me away, please let me have this.

Bruce was done with pushing him away. He wanted to wrap him up, smother him, fold himself around that perfect body like a bomb shelter and hold him tight and steady and safe. He settled for tightening his grip, deepening the kiss, pouring everything he had into it.

And then Jason twisted on his lap, dropping his hips and dragging his ass in a slow, dirty slide over Bruce’s crotch, and Bruce froze up again.

“Jay, wait.”

“Why?” Jason did it again, strong thighs flexing, hands going to Bruce’s shoulders for balance. “Feels good.”

“I don’t want…” God, he was hard, aching, and he could feel Jason’s hardness meeting him. Had a brief flashback to that pink, wet cock, the flush in Jason’s cheeks as he built towards orgasm, the hitch in his breath.

They were almost there already.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he blurted out, and Jason smiled against his mouth, lips shiny-wet and full to bursting from kisses.

“If you try to hurt me,” he said, low and soothing, “I will shatter your fucking arm.”

Bruce groaned and dropped his head back, cock pulsing in his pants, throbbing. Jason just kissed along his jaw, down over his chin, sucked at his neck.

“If you hurt me I’ll break every bone in your back,” he promised, grinding in Bruce’s lap, licking at his collar bone. His back was in an obscene arch, long limbs everywhere, hair a wild, dark tangle of curls. “I’ll destroy you, B.”

It was a warning and a reassurance, and all Bruce needed. He swept his hands up Jason’s sides, taking his tee with them, and stripped it over his head before pushing him back against the desk.

“I’ll hold you to that,” he murmured, and leaned forward, Jason’s hands scrabbling in his hair, to taste the skin of Jason’s chest. Jason was gasping, heart fluttering like a bird in the fragile cage of his ribs.

“You won’t need to,” he breathed. “I swear it, Bruce.” He was tugging at Bruce’s hair fretfully, restlessly, and his hips were still pushing up trying to rub his cock against Bruce, against anything. He was so fucking gorgeous in his desperation that Bruce’s own need faded into the background.

“Let me,” he started, and paused, licking his lips and catching the edge of one of Jason’s small, pink nipples. “Tell me,” he corrected himself. “Tell me what you want.”

Jason laughed in disbelief. “Are you kidding? Anything, fuck, I’m so-”

Close, Bruce thought, and smirked to himself as Jason reddened, looking away. Already. Jesus fucking Christ, he was gorgeous.

“Watch your mouth,” he said, quirking an eyebrow, and Jason laughed again.

You watch my fucking mouth,” he breathed, and grabbed one of Bruce’s hands, sliding it up until he had two fingers pressed against those plush, soft lips. “Like you always are,” he added, before pushing Bruce’s fingers in and sucking.

Bruce’s cock twitched, spurted precome into his boxers, the reaction helpless and automatic. Jason’s mouth was wet, hot suction, the slick slide of his tongue lapping against the rough pads of Bruce’s fingers, against his sore, torn knuckles, and out of nowhere Bruce felt like he was close. Like he could just fuck his fingers between Jason’s lips and push his hips up against his ass and come for him, just like that.

Like this beautiful, dangerous, wild-eyed kid had him on a goddamned string.

“Everyone’s watching your mouth,” he said, voice rough. “All the fucking time, Jason. Slade-” he broke off as Jason bit him, sharp teeth catching at his broken skin, and then twisted his head to spit Bruce’s fingers out.

“What about Slade?”

“Tonight, he said...he was talking about you.”

Jason went even redder, embarrassed and pleased, and Bruce nearly growled, hauling him back in close, possessive. “He got what he deserved.”

“You jealous, B?” Jason whispered, and then he was frantic again, hands everywhere, tugging at Bruce’s pants, pushing them down, grasping for his cock. “Is that why you fucked him up so bad? For me?”

“He deserved it,” Bruce repeated, and then surged up, lifting Jason and setting him on the desk, crowding over him. He had to kiss him again, had to feel. He pulled at the waistband of his sweats until they were halfway down his thighs, reached in and wrapped a hand around him as Jason groaned, trying to spread his legs in invitation. “Fuck Slade Wilson.”

“Fuck me instead.” Jason pushed his cock up into Bruce’s grip, hot and wet and smooth, hooked a leg around his waist and tugged him still closer. “I want it, B, just you, I swear to god. I think about it all the time, you fucking me, in the car, in the cave, out in the middle of fucking Gotham. I want you to fuck me on the streets, in an - in a dirty fucking alleyway up against the wall, on a rooftop. You’ve got no idea how many times I wanted to sneak into your room at night and just ride you, oh fuck B, please.”

“Jesus Christ, Jason,” Bruce muttered, stroking Jason steady and fast, palm sticky with precome. “The mouth on you.”

“Oh, I know, I know,” Jason panted. “Yeah, it’s fucking filthy the things I wanna do to you, want you to do to me.” He was writhing in Bruce’s grip, twisting his hips, chasing the sensation. “I wanna...can I…” He blinked hazy eyes up at Bruce and licked his lips. “I really wanna come while I’m sucking your dick. I wanted to - ah, fuck B, I wanted-”

He was right on the edge, and Bruce, Bruce had to - he shoved his free hand down his own pants, palming at his cock. “Fuck, Jay” he panted, leaning in close and mouthing at Jason’s ear. “Next time, I’ll take your mouth next time I swear, just come for me now, come on.”

Jason nodded frantically, eyes slipping closed. His whole body was tensed and hard, breaths coming in quick, sharp heaves. “Yeah, B, like when you caught me, I jizzed all over myself before you even left the room and it was all for you oh, oh, Bruce-!”

And that was it, he was pumping in Bruce’s tight grip, cock pulsing and spilling all over Bruce’s fist and his own stomach. And Bruce couldn’t stop himself, Jason hadn’t even finished before he had his own sweats shoved down and was pushing his cock against the sweet, damp crease of Jason’s thigh.

“Can I,” he managed, and Jason just pulled him in, whispered yes, yes, and please B, and come on me, and they were kissing again, Jason slack and soft and oh, god. Bruce fucked against him and ate his mouth and he could feel it building, months of tension, months of desire. He’d wanted this for so long and now he had it, Jason’s body, Jason’s mouth, Jason open and yielding against him.

“Give it to me, Bruce,” Jason whispered in his ear. “And then take me to bed so we can do it again.”

Bruce’s hips stuttered, his cock skittering up over the flat, smooth planes of Jason’s stomach. “Tell me you want this,” he panted, “Say it again.”

“God, I can’t, I’ve gotta-” Jason pushed at him, right on the precipice of coming, and dropped gracelessly to his knees, caught between Bruce and the desk. Bruce was trembling, looking down at his upturned face and open mouth. “Want this too bad, need to taste you,” Jason breathed, almost apologetically, and wrapped a hand around Bruce’s cock, brought the wet, dripping head to his lips. ‘Here.”

Three pumps, four, and the sweet suction of Jason’s mouth around the very tip of his cock, and Bruce was gone.

He came against Jason’s lips, over his chin and cheek, watching as Jason groaned and closed his eyes, pink tongue out to lap at the drops. He came like it was killing him, heart seizing up and muscles locking, and everything was Jason.

Every part of him, every inch of him, belonged to Jason.

~

Jason was in the gym, pummelling the bag with fists and feet, when Bruce walked in. He’d pushed a sweatband up over his forehead to keep his hair back, and it was flying around like crazy as he spun and danced, strikes landing with brutal accuracy. He’d never be as aerobatic as Dick, Bruce thought, but he didn’t need to be. He was perfect.

“Hey,” Bruce said, approaching slowly as Jason wound up. “You’ve been working on those new moves.”

Jason looked at him around the bag, and executed a perfect three kick combo, keeping his right foot extended up above his head for a few seconds before dropping it, showing off just a bit. “Yeah,” he said, panting. He was dripping with sweat, breathing hard. “That French shit, the savate.”

“Looks good.” Bruce moved in close, took in the flushed cheeks and chest, the slight tremble in hs muscles. “You got a little bit more in you?”

Jason smirked.

“Always,” he promised and before he could react, Bruce came in quick with a grapple, bearing him down to the mats. Jason countered fast, a lot faster than he’d been, but he was exhausted, and after a few moments Bruce let up.

“Come on, come here,” he said, tilting his head and urging Jason back up. “Come here.”

Jason sprung back up into a flip, ducked around to Bruce’s back, and that was Bruce’s chance. He knew how to manipulate a fight. He knew how to lose.

A second later, Jason had him back down and in an armbar, thighs braced over his chest, grip tight on Bruce’s wrist and hand as he bent his arm back and through the point of pain.

Bruce grinned into the mat.

“You could break it,” he gritted out, struggling a little to test Jason’s hold. Jason twisted, pulling back a little harder.

“Fuck you.”

“Finish up down here and come up to my room,” Bruce suggested, keeping the tension in their bodies, keeping the pain. “If you want.”

“Man, fuck you.” Jason let him go and collapsed backwards, laughing breathlessly. Bruce’s arm was throbbing, and he could see the way Jason was starting to tent his shorts.He propped himself up on his elbows. “I know how to say ‘no’, you realise. I don’t actually need to break your fucking arm, old man.”

“I like knowing that you can,” Bruce said, getting up. “You coming? I got a lead on a dirty cop cartel operating out of the Bowery, after we can go hunting.”

“B, you say the sweetest fucking things to me.”

And Jason, high on endorphins and adrenaline, filthy with sweat and so fucking sweet it hurt, beat him to the door.