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I Give in to Sin (Because I like to Practice What I Preach)

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He hasn’t spoken to or even seen Selina in days.

He’s feeling—

—alone, isolated, vulnerable, snappish, like there’s something dangerous coiling under his skin and any little thing could set him off—

—like he might have just lost his only friend by attempting to keep the truth about her mother from her.

He tries to lose himself in his studies, in his training. He reads up on strategy and spars with Alfred and runs through the carefully cultivated grounds of the Manor until his legs are burning and he’s heaving for air and his heart feels just about ready to burst out of his chest.

He’s fighting to catch his breath, hands braced on his knees and entire body slick with sweat, when he hears a voice call out to him from beyond the woods that encircle part of the property.

“Is something bothering you, baby doll?”

Bruce clenches his eyes shut and hisses out a breath through his teeth. He doesn’t attempt to look for wherever the owner of said voice might be hiding. Doesn’t want to see him.

Once he sees Jerome something inside of him is going to snap and he’s either going to unleash all of his anger on him or fall under his spell just as terribly easy as the last time. He’s not sure which would be worse.

“Now is not a good time,” he grits out. “Leave me alone.”

He needs to get back to the Manor. Needs to phone the police.

There’s a rustling from the trees like Jerome is drawing closer, and of course he would. Of course he wouldn’t listen to Bruce. Why would he?

“Now now, there’s no need to be like that, Brucie. I only want to help.”

Bruce turns away. “I don’t need your help.”

“Oh?” Jerome sounds amused, and even without looking at him Bruce can clearly picture the smile that must be on his face. He hates that it’s so easy to visualize. “I think you do. It seems like you’re even lonelier than usual. Have you been scaring people away?”

“Shut up, Jerome.”

“Make me, Bruce.”

A hand lays on Bruce’s shoulder, and Bruce—

Pivots, grabs Jerome by the arm, and brings the side of his hip up firmly against Jerome’s body before twisting and throwing him down into the grass. It’s not nearly a perfect execution of one of the judo throws that he’s been practicing, hane goshi, but even if it’s only a rough copy it had worked well enough. Bruce wishes he could feel happy about it.

Jerome blinks up at him, dazed and speechless for a few blessed moments, and then a lazy smile spreads over his mouth.

“You’ve been learning new tricks,” he all but purrs, eyes going dark. “What have you been learning new tricks for, darlin’?”

Bruce turns away. Doesn’t answer. Doesn’t look back at him as he starts running back to the Manor.

Jerome is long gone by the time the police arrive.

But when had anything in Bruce’s life been that easy?

That night he triple-checks that every window and door that could be used to slip inside is locked before he settles in for an uneasy sleep. When he wakes up nothing seems to be amiss, until he draws open the curtains and finds a white envelope taped to the outside of his bedroom window.

He should ignore it. Shred it. Burn it. He’s given in to Jerome’s whims far too many times.

But the lingering threat of other people getting hurt is there, just like it always is when Bruce caves in.

He opens the window and snatches the envelope. When he opens it up there are only two lines printed on the paper inside.

Let’s put a smile on that grumpy face.

Fred Astaire or Buster Keaton?

The questions momentarily throws Bruce for a loop before he remembers that each one of their ‘dates’ has been a parody of things that actual couples do. Then he springs into action.

After making a few quick calls he discovers that no operating movie theater within the city is playing any older films, and the drive in isn’t currently open thus making it too conspicuous for even Jerome to take over for one of these plots. Which either means that there’s an abandoned theater somewhere that Jerome’s planning on using, or he’s going to take over someone’s home for a more intimate feel; sitting beside Bruce on a worn-out couch with an arm flung around his shoulders, leaning in every once in a while to—

Bruce halts that train of thought before it can get out of control.

He should have kicked Jerome while he was down, dragged him to the Manor, then tied him up and up left him for the police to deal with.

He’s always making missteps with Jerome.

His fingers brush against the corner of his lips. The skin has healed, and the mark has grown dull, but there is a small scar left. An uptick that extends the line of his mouth, a barely-visible fraction of Jerome’s own unnaturally widened smile. With time and care it will fade away completely, just like the marks left by the staples in his arm.

With care and time spent away from Jerome maybe the things that Jerome had twisted up inside of him, had broken and reshaped to suit his own desires, would heal and fade too.

He doesn’t make plans to scope out any abandoned theaters, doesn’t go blindly running towards whatever trap Jerome is setting.

He studies, and he trains, and he spars, and he runs, and he tries not to think about how lonely he’ll be if Selina never talks to him again. He triple-checks the windows and doors at night, and sleeps off and on, and in the morning when he carefully peels back the curtain there’s no envelope to greet him.

He watches the morning news and as the reporter covers a prank at one of the local theaters—someone had replaced a reel of the newest blockbuster with Sherlock Jr., much to the consternation of movie goers the previous night—he feels on edge.

And later, when he’s sparring with Alfred and a hit splits his lips and the taste of blood seeps into his mouth, he feels something else entirely.

He’s too wound up, too tense, and Jerome’s been intruding on his thoughts no matter how hard Bruce tries to keep him at bay. Something’s got to give.

And if it will give Bruce at least a little bit of peace, then he’ll let it be him.

He tells Alfred he’s had enough for the morning, and maybe he really has been pushing himself too hard lately because Alfred actually seems relieved that Bruce wants to take the rest of the day to recover.

He goes upstairs. Locks his door. Falls into bed. Runs his tongue against his split lip.

Closes his eyes and thinks about a bigger, rougher hand as his own slips inside of the sweatpants that he’d put on for sparring. Thinks about Jerome’s blood in his mouth. Thinks about how Jerome’s leg had felt between his own. Thinks about the hot press of Jerome’s cock against his hip. Thinks about the way Jerome calls him darlin’. Thinks about Jerome, Jerome, Jerome.

He slowly drags his hand against his half hard cock, his legs spreading wider, and he bites his lip to keep the cut open. His thoughts flutter, unable to settle, and he has fleeting theories about what might have happened if he had gone out yesterday instead of staying in.

A dark theater, a black and white movie, Jerome chuckling darkly in his ear.

Jerome kissing him and provoking him and making all of Bruce’s rationality go up in smoke.

Jerome’s hand on his cock, unconcerned about whether or not they were actually alone in the theater. Jerome shushing Bruce gently and promising that he’d take care of him.

His breath hitches.

The name falls from between his lips.

Jerome praising him and calling him—

There’s a loud smack against the glass of his window.

He hadn’t closed the curtains after checking behind them for another envelope this morning.

Mortification floods through him even as something hot courses through his veins at the idea of being caught because really, he thinks as he opens his eyes and turns his gaze towards the glass, who else would be at his bedroom window but the person he was thinking about?

Jerome is balanced on the narrow perch of Bruce’s windowsill with one of his hands splayed against the glass. The intense look on his face is enough to make Bruce shudder, and everything about Jerome seems to sharpen.

“Bruce,” his voice is a little muffled through the glass, but not enough to disguise the commanding edge in his tone. “Open the window.”

Bruce shakes his head.

But he doesn’t stop touching himself.

“Bruce,” Jerome’s voice becomes softer, coaxing, fond. The exact sort of tone that Bruce is becoming weak against. “Come on, darlin’, let me in. We both know who it is you’re thinking about right now. I’m right here, you don’t have to play pretend.” A smirk tugs at the corner of his lips. “And I’ll just break the glass to get to the lock if you don’t do it for me.”

There’s no way that’s an idle threat.

“You’re deplorable,” Bruce grits out, pulling his hand away. “I detest you.”

“It’s not very nice to lie, Bruce,” Jerome croons at him, eagerly tracking every small movement that Bruce makes. “Especially after you stood me up yesterday. I was hurt.”

“I’m not in the mood for your games.” Bruce sits at the edge of his bed. He doesn’t go towards the window. Not yet. “You didn’t give me a place or a time, I’m not going to spend hours looking for you when I have other things I need to do.”

“But I would have made it worth your while, Brucie.” Jerome presses his forehead against the glass. “Don’t I always show you a good time? Don’t I always give you what you need?” His smirk widens. “Isn’t that why you’re thinking about me while you touch yourself? I heard you say my name. It made me wanna—” He closes his eyes and shivers in an almost theatrical manner. Exaggerated, like he wants to put on a show for Bruce and Bruce alone. “—steal you away and ruin you for anyone else. No one could ever give you what I can, darlin’.” He taps his fingertips against the glass. “Let me prove it to you, Bruce.”

Bruce stands up.

Facing Jerome unarmed, even if there was a physical barrier between them, doesn’t seem wise so he reaches out and slowly picks up the dusty shard of mirror on his bedside table. It’s the first time he’s touched it since Jerome left it behind for him.

Jerome’s smirk disappears and his lips part as if he’s started breathing heavily. His eyes are even darker than they were before. It makes Bruce feels like he has at least some control in this situation.

The things he chooses to do or say have an effect on Jerome.

He has an effect on Jerome.

Jerome doesn’t have any hostages right now, doesn’t have any of his Maniax with him, isn’t fast enough that he could break inside before Bruce could retaliate. He’s perched on the edge of a windowsill, he can’t risk moving around too much or he’ll fall, and Bruce definitely has the upper hand in this situation.

Bruce doesn’t have to let him inside.

He walks up to the window, and he spreads the fingers of his free hand out and presses them to the glass in a mirror of Jerome’s. His attention is briefly caught up in how much smaller his own hand and fingers are now that he can really compare them properly.

Something about it makes Bruce’s blood run even hotter.

“C’mon, Bruce,” Jerome coaxes in a mystifyingly enamored tone. “Aren’t you going to be a good boy for me again?”

Bruce’s fingers twitch against the glass. Jerome catches sight of it and his smile turns into something distressingly less mocking; a smile that Bruce could almost be persuaded to believe is genuine. “You know I’ll take such good care of you. I can make you feel so good, if you let me.”

That, at least, is true. Even if it’s agonizing to think about.

“If you keep seeking me out so obviously you’re going to end up getting caught.” He drags his hand down the window pane, his fingers trail over the lock at the bottom of the frame.

Wasn’t that what he wanted—what he needed? Jerome getting caught and being taken back to Arkham would give Bruce one small shred of much needed normalcy back.

“I love it when you worry about me,” Jerome coos. “But don’t worry Bruce, I’ve got a plan in the works.”

The lock disengages. Jerome presses his hard harder against the glass and slides the window open.

“And it involves a brief stint in Arkham, anyways.”

Bruce’s eyebrows furrow, because surely he didn’t actually mean that—

“But I couldn’t resist making a few more memories with you before I go.” Jerome slides one leg in through the window, then the other. “Thinking about you, baby doll, is going to be the only thing keeping me warm at night.” He slips inside and stands in front of Bruce, his irises a thin ring around his pupils. “But I’m a man with a mission, and I no matter how much I adore you, darlin’—” Bruce’s heart trips in his chest. “—I can’t put off my work forever.”

“What work?”

“You’ll see.” Jerome’s hands cup his face, and he leans in close. “Oh, it’s going to be spectacular, but I can’t ruin the surprise by giving it away. Not even to you.”

Jerome’s going to leave, Jerome’s going back to Arkham, it’s everything that Bruce needs even if Jerome has his own hidden agenda for wanting to return. Bruce should be happy to know that soon enough Jerome wouldn’t be around to twist him up any more.

But he doesn’t feel happy about it. He doesn’t even know what he feels.

He just knows what he wants.

Bruce lifts himself up on his toes and presses his lips firmly against Jerome’s mouth.

Jerome laughs under his breath, scratchy and soft, but it transitions into a moan when Bruce drags the edge of the mirror down the front of his shirt.

“Are you going to cut me,” he asks against Bruce’s lips before pulling back, eyes intensely roving over Bruce’s face.

“I could ask you the same question.”

“I do have the same knife from our last date with me.” Jerome’s thumb traces the small scar that he’d left behind, and Bruce presses the mirror shard a little more firmly against his abdomen. “I could cut you. I could leave even more traces of myself on you. Mark you up like you’re my own special blank canvas. Do you think about that when you touch yourself?” Jerome hums under his breath and moves a hand to lay over Bruce’s on the mirror shard. “Because let me tell you, Brucie, I think about our little tango in the maze of mirrors all the time. Fuck, I wish there had been cameras set up in there. I get hot just thinking about the fun we could have had if you hadn’t left me afterwards.”

“I hurt you,” the words sound weak, just a whisper, but Bruce’s grip on the mirror shard doesn’t waver and he doesn’t pull it back.

“Yeah,” Jerome sighs happily before kissing him again. He doesn’t try to push Bruce’s hand away, just holds it where it is. “You sure did, my perfect.” He presses a kiss to Bruce’s cheek. “Little.” His lips graze against Bruce’s forehead. “Match.” He presses a final kiss to the faded scar at the corner of Bruce’s mouth. It feels reverent, adoring, and Bruce can sense what little is left of his resolve begin to melt away. “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” the answer slips out before Bruce can think better of it, too fast and far too forthright.

Or maybe it’s not that he’ll miss Jerome—because that would be madness, wouldn’t it?—maybe it’s just that he’ll miss what Jerome makes him feel.

Jerome trails a line of kisses down Bruce’s neck, grazing his teeth against his throat, and his fingers trace gentle circles over Bruce’s hand on the mirror shard.

“I’ll give us something fun to remember each other by.”

Bruce’s heart pounds with anticipation.

“Before that.” He presses the shard harder against Jerome, feeling warm and eager when Jerome’s teeth dig into his skin in retaliation. “Take off your shirt.”

Jerome chuckles. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

“Fine.”

He steps back and strips out of his shirt quickly, then watches avidly as Jerome takes off his own. He looks good. He’s thicker and broader and more defined, and much like when Bruce compared their hands and felt a spark of something at the stark contrast between them he feels another fire ignite at the obvious differences in their builds.

“Look at you, what a gorgeous boy you are,” Jerome’s fingers trace over his shoulders, then down his chest. “So much soft, unblemished skin that I can mark as mine. I’ll make it so that no one else will ever see you and think that you’re not claimed.” He drags his nails down Bruce’s stomach, eyes intense. “You’re so sweet, Bruce, I can’t be the only one who’s noticed. People are going to start flocking around you like sharks who smell blood in the water. But I got to you first. No one else matters. I’ll gladly watch the life fade from their eyes if they so much as think about trying to steal you away from me.”

Bruce leans his face into Jerome’s shoulder, but he aims the tip of the mirror shard underneath Jerome’s ribcage and presses in until he feels Jerome twitch.

“You’re not going to kill anyone.”

“Oh, I’d really, really like you to try and stop me, baby doll. I’ll kill whoever I want for whatever reason I want, or for no reason at all. Maybe you’ll be able to save some of them even though they don’t deserve it—precious, unpredictable, vicious thing that you are—but you can’t save them all. You’ll try to, but it won’t be enough.” He chuckles under his breath, and Bruce feels his lips curl into a familiar snarl.

His fingers tighten on the shard and he steps back.

Jerome’s smile is wide and uncannily familiar. He’s saying these things on purpose, enthusiastic in his quest to force Bruce into angry retaliation. Bruce knows that if he gives into the vengeful feeling bubbling up inside of him that it will only end in victory for Jerome, who was always all too willing to stoke the fires of Bruce’s anger and violent impulses even though it made him into the main target.

But somehow he can’t find it in himself to even try keeping his cool. Not this time.

Not when he knows the heights that Jerome will bring him to when he gives in and lets Jerome have exactly what he wants.

He ducks forward and lashes out with the mirror shard.

Jerome dodges with a laugh.

Yesterday, with the element of surprise on his side, it had been easy to grab onto Jerome and throw him down onto his back. Today every hit he lands is hard-earned, and every time that he manages to dodge Jerome’s fists he feels a rush that he’d never been aware of when fighting Jerome previously. With that sensation comes a distant curiosity; did Jerome feel this captivated when they fought?

Had he felt like Bruce did in the present when they’d been in that maze of mirrors?

Bruce lunges. Jerome steps aside and grabs onto Bruce’s wrist, clenching down hard enough that his fingers go slack on the piece of mirror and Jerome is able to take it from him and toss it behind him where it lands with a near-silent thud on Bruce’s bedsheets. Bruce tries to twist out of his grip, but Jerome’s other hand grabs onto his arm and he reels him in close with a victorious grin.

“I win,” Jerome tells him.

Bruce sweeps his foot inward, catching Jerome’s ankle and forcing his foot off of the ground in a tryout of another one of the judo throws that he’s been practicing, and he watches with a wildly pounding heart as Jerome’s expression flickers from confidence to surprise as he loses balance, relying totally on his grip on Bruce to keep himself upright. It doesn’t work nearly as well as the throw yesterday but it is enough to catch Jerome off guard, and before he manages to right himself fully Bruce pushes him backwards.

The back of Jerome’s legs hit against Bruce’s bed, and his smile widens.

“What exactly is it that you’re learning all these new tricks for?”

Bruce digs a hand into red hair and tugs. “That’s a secret.”

Jerome kisses him hard. His teeth dig into the Bruce’s split lip to open it back up, and Bruce presses closer despite the sting. Or maybe because of the sting. He feels so caught up that it’s getting difficult to tell what attracts him to Jerome and what repels him from Jerome.

Maybe, once Jerome is back in Arkham, Bruce will be able to unravel the tangle that his thoughts have become. Maybe he’ll dislike himself even more for the way he’s giving in so easily now. But in the present, as Jerome falls back and drags Bruce down with him, Bruce feels hot and excited and his heart flutters at the thought of what might happen next.

Jerome twists them over so that Bruce is laying on his back and he reaches over to grab the mirror shard.

Bruce’s breath catches in his throat.

“This brings back memories,” Jerome croons as he taps the flat side of the shard against Bruce’s lips, “doesn’t it? Our first kiss after our first date, it’s almost enough to make me feel sentimental.”

Bruce presses a kiss to the glass, eyes fluttering half shut. He watches Jerome’s expression shift, hungry and possessive, from underneath his eyelashes.

“You’ve come a long way since then, darlin’.” Jerome laughs under his breath and brings the edge of the shard to the corner of Bruce’s mouth. “You’ve exceeded my expectations, even. I knew, I knew, that we’d be great together. All that’s left is for you.” His free hand drags down Bruce’s chest and abdomen, nails scratching lightly against skin. “To give in.” The hand teasingly skims the waistband of his sweatpants before his fingers hook into the fabric. “To the beautiful darkness that I see inside of you.”

“That’s not going to happen.”

“You keep telling yourself that, baby doll.” Jerome tugs Bruce’s pants down and Bruce’s hands rise up to settle on his shoulders. “But I know better.” He traces the mirror shard against the faded scar on Bruce’s neck before casting it aside. “You will too, someday soon.”

Bruce digs his nails hard into Jerome’s shoulders, and Jerome shudders.

“Blood on your hands, baby doll,” he sing-songs lowly. “On your hands and your clothes and your pretty face. I’ll be sure to kiss you nice and deep while it’s still warm and slick.”

“You’re sick.”

Jerome chortles and his hand finally settles overtop of Bruce’s cock. Bruce’s heels dig into the mattress as he grinds up against his palm. It feels so much better than his own hand, hotter and rougher and far, far more dangerous. Jerome has killed people with the hands that he uses to bring Bruce pleasure.

And that shouldn’t make Bruce’s breath catch. It shouldn’t make his heart skip. It shouldn’t make him want more.

“Tell me something I don’t know, gorgeous.” His fingers wrap around Bruce and tug, and he watches avidly as Bruce twitches and squirms beneath him.

“I think I’m a little sick, too,” he admits softly.

There was no other explanation for this.

Jerome hums, amused, and he briefly pulls away to lick his palm.

“Oh, I know all about that, darlin’.” His hand settles back on Bruce, slicker, hotter, tighter. He leans in to scrape his teeth against the corner of Bruce’s mouth. “Though I’m glad you’re aware, too.” He kisses him, too quick for Bruce to respond to it. “It’ll make everything else much easier.”

“I’m not going to kill anyone.”

“So stubborn,” Jerome grouses without a trace of any real irritation. His free hand presses down against Bruce’s chest, fingers absently running back and forth over a nipple, and his other hand begins to stroke faster. “One day you’re going to give in.” He grins, and he shifts his weight so that he’s able to start grinding his cock against Bruce’s thigh. The sensation of it is enough for Bruce’s tongue to trip over the denial that he means to say. “I think about it all the time. What you’ll do, how magnificent it will be,” Jerome’s voice lowers, “how I’ll reward you for it. I told you before, didn’t I, that I would fuck you so good afterwards?” His promising smile is nothing short of salacious, and it makes something inside of Bruce twist up like he’s on the verge of some kind of breaking point. Every muscle in his body starts going tense. “You think I make you fall to pieces now? Oh, darlin’, this is nothing compared to what I’ll do to you then.”

Bruce shivers, breaths coming in shallow, quick gasps. “Jerome.”

“What is it, Bruce?” He presses a lingering kiss to Bruce’s open mouth, sliding his tongue against his teeth. “Talk to me. This conversation is feeling very one-sided. That’s not really fair, is it?”

‘Tell me what you’ll do’ is on the tip of his tongue, but Jerome’s fingers tweak his nipple and his legs start to shake—

And Jerome pulls both of his hands away.

Bruce could just about scream in frustration and he reaches out to latch onto Jerome’s hands and bring them back, but Jerome resists his wordless directions with a delighted laugh.

“You’re so worked up. Is it because the sound of my voice turns you on that much? Is it because of what I say? Is it because you can’t get enough of the way my hand feels on you?” Jerome smirks at him, eyes glinting in a way that’s unfairly arresting. “Or maybe it’s all of the above? Whatever it is, it makes me want to absolutely wreck you.”

“Jerome, I swear to—”

“Shh, Bruce, I’m basking in the moment here.” Jerome’s hands settle down on Bruce’s knees, then pushes them wider apart. “Nothing like a bit of edging to make things a little more fun.”

“I don’t know what that is,” Bruce grits out through his teeth.

“You’ll figure it out soon enough.” Jerome digs his thumbs under the fabric of his own pants and pulls them down, and Bruce’s irritation dissipates at the sight of him.

“Here.” Jerome brings them flush together, and Bruce feels like he’s actually overheating at the feeling of hot skin directly against his. He rocks his hips unsteadily, something electric running up his spine at the friction, and Jerome presses down against him. Bruce folds his legs around Jerome’s hips and repeats the action with more confidence, unable to look away from Jerome’s face. “That’s right,” he says softly, eyes hooded. “That’s good. Keep going.”

Bruce drags his nails down Jerome’s back, and Jerome grinds against him. The look on his face is going soft and fond again, and it makes Bruce wonder what he looks like now—flushed and exactly where Jerome wants him with no desire to break free until the heat bubbling up inside of him is finally let out.

“You love this, don’t you?” Jerome rolls his hips against him and Bruce’s knees quake on either side of his hips. “C’mon, talk to me, you’re hurting my feelings by keeping so quiet.”

“I don’t—” Jerome repeats the motion and Bruce’s legs clench around him, keeping him as close as possible. “—what am I supposed to talk about?”

“How I make you feel,” Jerome whispers in his ear, one hand coming up between them to roughly twist Bruce’s nipple. “What you were thinking about when you were touching yourself,” he suggests with undeniable glee in his tone. “How much you want me to fuck you. It’s not shameful to admit it, trust me, there’s nothing embarrassing about it.”

“Everything about it is embarrassing.”

“Want me to stop?”

No.” Bruce digs his nails into Jerome’s back, and Jerome laughs into the crook of his neck. “You—you make me feel like I’m drowning, and I don’t know which way is up anymore.”

“Not exactly what I meant.” Jerome presses a kiss against him. “But go on.”

“You love it don’t you, the way you get under my skin and into my head?”

“Of course I do.” He digs his teeth into flesh, and Bruce feels himself jerk. He’s close. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“You drive me crazy.”

“Good.”

Jerome pulls away, again. He can’t go too far with Bruce’s legs locked around him, but it’s still enough to be maddening. Bruce feels cold and exposed, and maybe a little lonely, without Jerome’s body right over top of his. He won’t let Jerome get away with it this time, though; cruelly letting Bruce get so close to the edge and then pulling back and watching Bruce suffer.

He flips them over, reaching out blindly to the side until he feels the mirror shard, and he straddles Jerome’s firm abdomen as he holds the jagged edge to Jerome’s neck. He braces one hand on Jerome’s chest and looks at his face—his hazy eyes and flushed cheeks and parted lips—and he desperately rocks his hips against him.

“Look at you,” Jerome breathes, his hands coming up to rest on Bruce’s hips, “taking what you want. You need it so badly, don’t you? You’re so fun to tease, darlin’. I’m going to keep driving you crazy, you’ll never get rid of me now.” Jerome’s thumbs rub circles against his hipbones, and he licks his lips as he watches Bruce’s movements become even more unrefined. “My precious good boy. Let it out, you’re so close, let me watch you break apart for me.”

Bruce leans over him, mouth falling open with a cry as he finally comes. He continues to urgently grind against Jerome as his orgasm carries on longer than any he’s had before, with or without Jerome, and when the pleasure begins to subside he finds himself panting and staring at the red welling up from Jerome’s neck. He abruptly drops the mirror shard.

He’d cut him. Not deep enough to be too concerning, just deep enough to bleed. Maybe scar.

Like the faded line on Bruce’s neck.

Matching marks.

Jerome doesn’t look angry about it. If anything he looks pleased.

“There, didn’t I tell you that a little edging would make things more fun? You’ve got to learn to trust me, Brucie.” He drags two of his fingers through the wet mess on his abdomen and brings them up to Bruce’s mouth, smearing it on his lips before his hand digs into Bruce’s hair. “Give me a kiss, darlin’, let me have a taste of you.”

Bruce leans in, easily following Jerome’s lead in the kiss. Something inside of him feels settled, content, maybe even close to happy. He’s not worried about his training, or studies, or feeling lonely. He’s not worried about anything.

He pulls away and glances over Jerome’s face, then over the thin red line on his neck, and he lightly traces the cut with a finger.

Jerome hisses out a breath through his teeth at the action, but nothing about his expression indicates that he’s in pain.

And Bruce can feel him shifting restlessly underneath him.

“It wasn’t very nice of you to keep pulling away.” Bruce licks his lips and finds that he can’t quite find the nerve to flatly tell Jerome that he deserves to be punished for it. Jerome probably wouldn’t fall for it in any case. He could read Bruce too well. “You’re lucky that I—” His breath hitches, his heart thunders, he feels warm all over again and he’s not sure if it’s embarrassment or arousal or both. “That I want to be a good boy for you.”

He slips down and settles between Jerome’s thighs and the familiar feel of Jerome’s hands tangling in his hair is grounding, somehow.

His mouth falls open, and his eyes dart up to lock with Jerome’s as he takes the head into his mouth. Jerome’s fingers dig deeper into his curls, on the verge of being painful, and Bruce seals his lips around him.

“So perfect,” Jerome praises under his breath. “So pretty. So dangerous. I hope this mark you left on me scars, Bruce. Do you hope so, too?”

Bruce hums and takes him deeper, and Jerome moans. His legs start shaking, his grip on Bruce’s hair hurts, his breathing becomes quick and shallow.

“Not going to last. Fuck, Bruce, you looked too cute when you were rutting against me. I’m gonna miss you so much when I’m gone, baby doll. Gonna think about you every day.”

Bruce lays a hand against one of Jerome’s thighs and digs his nails into flesh, slowly dragging down until he’s sure that he’s drawing blood.

Jerome curses and shudders. His hips lift as his hands push down, and Bruce tries to relax and swallow around him the way that Jerome had instructed him to last time, and the taste of him swiftly coats the inside of Bruce’s mouth. He drags his tongue along the underside as he pulls back, feeling oddly thrilled at the sound Jerome makes because of it, and he unhooks his nails from Jerome’s thigh to take in the scratches that he’d left behind.

“Will you really think about me every day?”

“Why would I lie about something like that, Brucie?” Jerome’s hands impatiently tug him up, and he kisses Bruce like he’s still ravenous. “You’re far more interesting than anyone else I’ve met. This city would be way more boring if you weren’t in it playing at being a hero.” He fumbles for something, then pulls out a familiar knife. The flicker of unease Bruce feels must be as plain as day on his face, because Jerome’s touch becomes gentler.

“Shh, don’t worry.” He presses another kiss to the scar on Bruce’s mouth, then the one on his neck. “Just giving you another little token to remember me by. It’ll only sting a little.”

Bruce stays still, watching as Jerome carefully brings the tip of the knife to his hip. A small curve like a fish hook. A straight line slashed overtop. Marking Bruce with a ‘J’ as if he’s some kind if possession. It should make Bruce livid.

But the cut is shallow, and the discomfort is easy to ignore.

And in the back of his mind Bruce thinks that maybe, when he’s feeling isolated and alone, he can look at this and remember that someone was missing him.

Jerome presses a kiss to his mark.

“If you get too lonely without me keeping you company you can always come for a visit.”

“I don’t think you’ll be allowed visitors.”

“Allowed? Ha.” Jerome crawls back up his body, presses a long, lingering kiss to Bruce’s lips. “I don’t need to be allowed anything. I’m like you Bruce, I don’t require permission to do what I want.”

“And what do you want?”

“I told you before, Bruce, it’s a surprise. Oh, darlin’, I can’t wait. Nothing in this city will be the same after I’m through.” He cups Bruce face in his hands and it feels affectionate enough that Bruce could almost forget how much he doesn’t want whatever change Jerome will try to bring. “You won’t be the same, either.”

And in the darkest corners of his mind Bruce thinks,

I’m already not the same.