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

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Perhaps Bruce shouldn’t be surprised that after he’d been ambushed, kidnapped, thrown into a van with a bag over his head, then taken to some unknown location and forced into a chair, that when his sight was finally restored to him the first thing he was allowed to see was Jerome’s smiling face directly in front of him.

So much for him getting caught before his next mad scheme could occur.

“Hiya darlin’, miss me?”

Bruce scowls at him. Jerome chortles and reaches out to ruffle his hair. Bruce would slap his hand away, but a pair of Jerome’s Maniax are still in the room with them and he knows with absolute certainty that they have guns.

He’s also relatively sure that he wouldn’t be the first person that Jerome would order to have shot if he did anything to piss him off, too, so he bears the touch with as much composure as he can manage until Jerome finally withdraws and circles to the opposite side of the table that Bruce had been forcefully seated at.

There’s nice silverware and place settings laid out.

There are lit candles, too.

It’s very… Atmospheric.

Oh. No.

Jerome leans his elbows on the table and folds his hands together, settling his chin on his interlocked fingers.

“Surprise,” he calls over the table cheerily.

Bruce resists the urge to bury his head in his hands. He has no idea where he is, he’s got nowhere to run or hide, and Jerome doesn’t appear to be in the midst of causing too much pandemonium right now, so maybe the best course of action would be for him to play along until someone came looking for him.

Alfred would figure out that he was missing soon. He’d likely tell Detective Gordon immediately, and the Detective was already aware that Jerome had tried to get close to Bruce after the night that he and his Maniax took over the city. He wasn’t aware of how close Jerome had gotten, or how he had successfully broken into Bruce’s bedroom, or what he had wanted, but he knew enough that Jerome should be the first suspect that he thought of.

Bruce just needs to make sure there’s enough time for Detective Gordon and Alfred to find him before anything too terrible happens.

“Is taking me by force going to be a theme for all of our dates?” He tries to keep his expression neutral as the dreaded word passes over his tongue. “Because I don’t find it particularly romantic.”

Jerome smirks. “Would you rather I threaten civilians in order for you to come willingly? I could do that instead if you want. It wouldn’t be too difficult. I’d even get someone to broadcast it live so that you and everyone else in Gotham could see their pathetic, terrified faces.”

Bruce’s hands curl into tight fists and Jerome smiles at him as if he sees the dark, violent thoughts filtering through Bruce’s head. “How about next time—” Bruce grits out, and he inwardly prays to whoever might be listening that there isn’t an opportunity for a next time. “—you tell me when and where to be beforehand.”

“And trust that you won’t share that information with any of your buddies at the GCPD? Bruce, darlin’,” Jerome drawls the pet-name lowly, as if basking in the mere act of saying it, “I don’t think we’re quite there yet.”

“I find it odd that you don’t trust me yet want to date me. Maybe your mind is still a little scrambled post-thaw. Perhaps you shouldn’t be making decisions about romantic partners before you’ve gone through some sort of neurological assessment.” At a medical facility far, far away from Bruce.

“No, I don’t think that’s quite right.” Jerome leans back in his chair and signals one of his Maniax closer. Bruce watches, trying not to let the bewilderment show too clearly on his face, as she starts pouring wine into their glasses. “I’ve always been a simple guy. I see.” He locks eyes with Bruce, grin stretching at his lips. “I want,” he states pointedly, lifting his glass as if in a toast. “I take.”

“Believe or not, I noticed.”

Jerome chortles, evidently amused.

“You and I are going to have so much fun together.”

Bruce has no idea what to say to that, so he sips on the wine instead and tries not to make a face at the unfamiliar flavor.

Dinner goes…

About as well as Bruce had expected it would go. Jerome seems to know exactly what to say and how to say it for Bruce to feel irritated and on edge, and he seems intent on pushing all of Bruce’s buttons just to see which ones bring forth the best reactions. He dismisses his followers from the room after a time, and he keeps drawing his foot up and down Bruce’s leg under the table, which is—

Very distracting. Even if Bruce wishes it weren’t.

“You’re so cute when you’re angry, when you’re on the verge of letting your darker side take over,” Jerome tells him with a happy little sigh when they’re halfway through dessert. “It makes me want to order my cult of lunatics to kill your precious butler all over again.”

And that—

That’s enough.

Bruce lifts himself out of the chair and jumps onto the table, intent on grabbing Jerome by the neck and doing something.

Jerome cackles madly as Bruce grabs at him, then he tilts his chair back and Bruce is pulled along with him, falling to the floor with a crash that must alert Jerome’s followers that something is going on, even though no one seems to be rushing in to ensure that their leader is alright.

And then they’re wrestling on the floor.

Bruce wonders if this is going to become a theme, too.

Perhaps he should have grabbed a fork on his way over the table so that he would at least have something a little more intimidating than his bare fists to threaten with. Not a knife though. Not when he knew he’d never go so far as to use it.

Plus, knowing his luck, Jerome would show up in his bed again to offer it up as another memento after all of this was over. Something for Bruce to remember their second date by. He’d leave it right beside the mirror shard that Bruce couldn’t bring himself to touch, and thus had left on his bedside table to collect dust.

He punches Jerome in the face, and Jerome knees him in the gut, and then Jerome twists them around so that Bruce is pinned on his back. Bruce can see that his pupils are blown, and his expression has that same hungry edge as when he’d pushed his thumb into Bruce’s mouth and waited for Bruce to do something about it.

Then Jerome is kissing him and, just like before, Bruce has nowhere to retreat to.

He bites Jerome’s bottom lip instead, hard enough to draw blood, but instead of backing away like a reasonable person Jerome moans and presses against Bruce harder.

He’d done that last time, too, when Bruce had dug his nails into his scalp.

Jerome liked it when Bruce was brutal, he liked seeing the rage and violence he tried to keep locked up inside get the better of him. Bruce’s lips are getting slick with blood that isn’t his own, and it’s just as awful as it had been when Jerome had painted that frown on his face at the carnival.

The metallic taste is pervading his mouth, and he abruptly finds himself wishing that he hadn’t broken skin.

Jerome, on the other hand, is obviously delighted by this turn of events. One of his legs forcefully parts Bruce’s thighs, and he grinds himself against Bruce in a way that can only be categorized as obscene. Bruce feels the press of something hard against his hip, and he’s angry and mortified not only at Jerome’s actions, but also at the way he’s not entirely unaffected by it.

Jerome’s kiss feels good. Jerome’s thigh against him feels good.

Jerome’s blood is on his mouth, is in his mouth, and not only is it disgusting but Bruce is sure that the taste of him will linger long after this night is over.

His hands curl into fists and he lands strikes against Jerome’s shoulders and sides, and his back arcs off the floor in an attempt to throw Jerome off. Jerome merely chuckles into the kiss as if he’s charmed by Bruce’s attempts to get away before he grabs onto Bruce’s wrists and pins them down on either side of his head.

The kiss finally breaks and Bruce takes in quick, shallow breaths through his open mouth as he watches Jerome watch him.

“Look at you,” Jerome coos, “so flushed and pretty for me.” His chapped lips are tinged with red, and the open wound that Bruce had left with his teeth bleeds sluggishly. He runs his tongue over the cut, and his eyelashes flutter at the sting. “So angry and violent. Tell me, Brucie, are you feeling what I’m feeling?”

“No,” Bruce retorts vehemently, trying to pull his wrists free from Jerome’s tight grip. “I’m not.”

Jerome cocks his head to the side, mock-thoughtfulness written over his features. “I find that difficult to believe.”

“We are very different Jerome. We perceive things in different ways.”

“We’re not as different as you’d like to think, Brucie baby. Plus.” Jerome rolls his hips against Bruce languidly, like he has all the time in the world, and Bruce feels himself go hot. “You’re thinking from an emotional standpoint, but I’m currently way more interested in the physical.” His thigh shifts against Bruce, firm and purposeful. Bruce has to bite his lip to stifle a noise and tries to force himself into stillness, but his legs jerk and twitch on either side of Jerome’s, and Jerome’s eyes glint with elation as he asks, “Do you want to know what I feel right now?”

Bruce shakes his head. If he opens his mouth to speak he’s not sure what will come out.

“I feel you getting hard because of me.”

Bruce shuts his eyes and tries not to let the mortification overwhelm him.

“Hey,” Jerome’s voice is sharp, and one of his hands lets go of Bruce’s wrists so he can take Bruce’s jaw in a viselike grip. “Look at me, or else the owners of this lovely hideaway who are a little tied up at the moment are going to get shot in places that’ll make them bleed out agonizingly slow.”

Bruce’s eyes snap open and his lips curl into a snarl.

Jerome smiles like he’s won something, like he has the upper hand.

Bruce punches him across the jaw, then arcs his entire body to throw Jerome off balance and scrambles to get on top of him. His hands come to wrap around Jerome’s neck.

“You’ve had hostages this whole time?”

“Of course, doll. What do you take me for?” Jerome laughs, and Bruce’s hands clench tighter around him. Jerome’s laugher transitions into a pleased sound. “That’s it, you’re doing so good,” he rasps, and Bruce hates that even when he has the upper hand Jerome seems to be getting something out of it.

When Bruce had been holding onto the mirror shard, when he’d almost killed Jerome, he’d seen something dark inside of Bruce that brought about this macabre fascination. And now, with Bruce’s hands around his throat, Jerome’s eyes glimmer with that same fevered interest. He reaches up and his fingers trace irregular patterns on the backs of Bruce’s.

Jerome is still hard.

Bruce is, too.

“You’ve got such soft, delicate hands, I bet you’ve never really tried to strangle someone before,” Jerome tells him lowly. “That’ll change someday. I know it. I can sense it.”

“You’re wrong.”

“No. I’m really not. Someday you’re going to hurt someone real bad, Bruce, and I’m going to be there to see it.” Jerome’s grin stretches wide again, and he rocks his hips upwards. “And I’m going to fuck you so good afterwards.”

Bruce lets go of Jerome’s neck and attempts to retreat—hopefully away from this entire situation—but Jerome greedily follows after him, fingers hooking into Bruce’s shirt and forcing him back to the floor.

Fighting only seemed to excite Jerome more. Ignoring him would get people shot.

Bruce has got to bite the bullet; it would make Jerome ten times more unbearable, but Bruce could survive that. He’d survived it last time, at least, and that had to count for something.

He digs his hands into Jerome’s hair and pulls him into a kiss. His lips part, quick and easy, when he feels him respond to it. Jerome’s tongue slips inside of him again to drag against his teeth and the roof of his mouth, and his legs settle on either side of Bruce, forcing their pelvises together. Bruce doesn’t let himself think about who he’s with, or why he’s here, he just grinds up against Jerome and digs his nails into Jerome’s scalp.

Jerome’s followers could walk in at any time. Alfred and Detective Gordon could come storming in without warning. There are so many variables that Bruce isn’t aware of and Jerome has hostages and Bruce feels feverish and lewd and gross. Sparks of pleasure are running down his spine, and his blood is pooling low in his belly, and he feels like he’s too clumsy and amateurish for Jerome to be reacting the way that he does; encouraging noises and breathy sighs and obvious arousal.

But he’d said before that he liked that Bruce was a blank slate, hadn’t he? He wanted to be the one who showed Bruce what he’d been missing out on.

He wanted to leave his own marks on Bruce before anyone else had a chance to.

“So sweet,” Jerome murmurs against his lips, “I could eat you right up.” He pauses for a moment, then chuckles crudely. “Well, I did tell you that I was going to blow you away on our second date.”

And Bruce, no matter how little practical experience he might have, isn’t oblivious to what Jerome is insinuating. Jerome must see it on his face, because his expression gains a wicked edge that makes Bruce break out into goosebumps.

“How about it, Bruce, want me to find out if you taste sweet everywhere?”

Bruce’s mouth falls open, mind too frazzled to list the pros and cons of answering one way or another, but the sound of heavy footfalls interrupts him before he can make a terrible mistake.

The door slams open, and Bruce clenches his eyes shut and wishes he were invisible.

It must be so obvious what they’re in the middle of.

“The GCPD are closing in,” one of Jerome’s Maniax informs them without pausing, apparently not too shocked at the sight of his leader straddling the person who he’d tried to murder with a cannon not very long ago. “We’ve got maybe ten minutes before they start canvasing this block.”

“Right,” Jerome says, short and clipped. Bruce doesn’t open his eyes to look at his face, but he sounds like he’s not very happy. Good. “Didn’t I tell you to knock if you had to come back in here?”

“Well, yes, but I figured—”

Jerome shifts overtop of Bruce and before Bruce can even work out what he might be doing there’s a sound of a gunshot, then the thump of a body hitting the floor.

All of the heat that had been building up inside of Bruce is washed away in a cold wave of dread.

“Some people just don’t know how to take directions,” Jerome mutters under his breath. “But overall I’d call date two a rousing success. Wouldn’t you agree?” He trails the barrel of the gun across Bruce’s cheek, and Bruce forces his eyes half-open. “It’s too bad it’s getting cut short again.”

“You could stay and get caught by the GCPD,” Bruce suggests after taking a few moments to find his voice. Jerome huffs out a laugh.

“And get carted back to the looney bin, away from you? Please darlin’, I have so much more in store for us.” Jerome presses the barrel to Bruce’s temple, and Bruce’s breath catches in his throat. “I’m going to make you fall to pieces, Bruce, one way or another,” he promises. “Maybe in even more than one way. I bet you’ll cry so prettily for me next time.” Jerome reaches down between them, and Bruce bites his own lip hard enough to bleed when Jerome presses his hand against him. “I bet I can make you beg for it.”

Bruce parts his lips to deny it but all that comes out is an embarrassing, wordless plea.

Jerome laughs and grinds the palm of his hand down harder. “Think about me when you touch yourself tonight, Brucie baby, and know that I’ll be thinking about you.” He leans in to press a stinging kiss to Bruce’s bleeding lip before he lifts himself into a standing position. He doesn’t point the gun in his hand at Bruce, but the presence of it and the still-warm body of one of Jerome’s followers is enough to keep Bruce in place.

“Oh! And tell Jimbo I said hi, though you might want to keep the rest of this our little secret.” Jerome winks at him as he walks backwards to the open door. “Who knows what your friends would think of you if they knew what we get up to when we’re alone together. I bet they’d see you in a whole new light.” Jerome hums as his eyes ravenously take in the sight of Bruce; angry and ashamed and still so pleasantly flushed. “Till next time, darlin’.”

He turns with a flourish and rushes out of the dining room.

Bruce watches him go and wonders if Detective Gordon will have any luck with catching him this time, because if not…

He can’t even imagine what the future holds for him.

Chapter Text

Bruce has things to do.

He’s got blueprints to memorize, city blocks to stakeout, a break-in to orchestrate, and skills to brush up on. He’s also got a very confusing relationship with Selina to figure out while absolutely not thinking about anyone else at all who might have input about that particular problem, and he has his own lessons and Alfred’s training to attend to.

In short; he absolutely does not have time for this.

Yet here he is.

“You look stressed, doll. Why don’t you tell your favourite messiah all about it?”

And how is it that he found himself in this terrible situation?

Jerome had, evidently, wanted to test out his idea of threatening civilians and broadcasting it live so that Bruce would willingly come to him. For every half hour that Bruce spends with him one hostage will be set free; physically unharmed though no doubt traumatized by the experience all the same, and if Bruce tried to leave early… Jerome hadn’t explicitly stated what he’d do, but it was fairly obvious that it wouldn’t be anything good.

All eyes in Gotham were glued to the news screen that showed off a live feed of the hostages, hidden away in some dark, dreary place that could be almost any of the buildings within the city while the GCPD frantically tried to trace the eight people who had gone missing; all of them influential, rich Gotham socialites. Jerome would be finding even more lunatics eager to pledge their loyalty to him after all of the chaos he’d stirred up with this.

And while the police were busy elsewhere…

Seated on the floor in front of a low coffee table Bruce half-heartedly rolls the die in his hand and ignores Jerome’s comment about his stress.

Date one was the carnival.

Date two was dinner.

Date three was evidentially board game night.

Bruce slides his token forward another four spaces and lands on a snake. He impassively moves his piece down to the 53rd square.

“You have no luck, do you Bruce?”

Bruce glances up at Jerome and scowls. Jerome just rests a hand on his fist and smiles at him like he can’t get enough of watching for the violent impulses that Bruce is valiantly resisting. He takes the die into his hand without looking away from Bruce and lazily tosses it back onto the board, eyes flitting down for just a moment to see what side had landed upright.

“Looks like I win, Bruce.” Jerome slides his token onto the 100th square, then leans across the board. “How about a kiss for the champion?”

It hasn’t even been an hour, and Bruce already can’t stand the idea of playing whatever else Jerome picked out for them. Frankly, when Bruce was roughly escorted to the location that Jerome had demanded his presence at, he’d been expecting Jerome to pick up right where they left off last time. That was what he’d mentally prepared himself for.

The handful of people who knew the specifics of Jerome’s demands were sure that Bruce was walking into a death-trap like a sacrificial lamb, but he’d known that wasn’t the case.

He’d just been wrong about other things.

But, then again, last time they’d made it almost completely through dinner before anything physical—aside from Jerome’s foot trailing up and down Bruce’s leg—happened. And all that had come after that had started because Jerome had goaded Bruce into action, threatening Alfred and making him angry just to see how Bruce would react. Bruce had obviously played right into his hands; Jerome wanted him to fight, wanted him to be violent, wanted to get under Bruce’s skin and into his head and twist him around so that he couldn’t control the darkness and anger inside of him. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he wanted to kiss and mark and—

Jerome’s eyes begin sparking with something dangerous as he waits for Bruce to meet him in the middle, and really, what choice does Bruce have but to give in?

He keeps it chaste; soft and sweet and exactly what Jerome doesn’t want from him, and he pulls away before Jerome can try to coax his anger to the surface.

Jerome doesn’t look as disappointed by the tenderness as Bruce thought he would. Instead he looks almost-content; as if his fantasies about Bruce involved domesticity and hand holding instead of bloodshed and leaving behind discarded weapons for Bruce to remember him by.

“It’s good to know you’re not a sore loser,” Jerome tells him, casually pushing the board and pieces to the side instead of putting them away properly. “Now then my stressed, sad little volunteer, let’s turn that frown upside down,” he drawls in a mimicry of his tone at the carnival.

He pulls out Battleship. Bruce somehow manages to hold back a frustrated sigh.

In the back of his mind a voice that he’s desperately trying to ignore is saying that he’d much rather they just make out and get it over with.

“Is there a point to this?”

“What, is our quiet night in not to your liking?” Jerome pouts at him, the expression especially strange since the scarred corners of his lips are now eternally upturned. “We could go out on the town if you’d prefer, but I feel like you’d really rather keep me all to yourself instead of sharing me with the entire city, no?”

Bruce can’t hold back a sigh, this time around. “You have a point.”

“I sure do, darlin’. Are you feeling lonely sitting a whole two feet away from me? If I’d known you were so needy I would have let you sit in my lap during our first game.”

Bruce sets up his ships and ignores the heat in his cheeks. “I’m not needy.”

“Oh, but you are,” Jerome says with a grin. “You’re just not sure what you need yet since you’re the most absolutely, preciously virtuous boy in this city,” his tone is mocking and praising all at once, and Bruce detests it. He’s in no mood to be made fun of, especially not by Jerome. “But don’t worry, I’ll show you.”

Just as he had during their dinner Jerome pokes and prods and pushes Bruce’s buttons. He’s getting a good idea of what makes Bruce tick, now, because Bruce is already too on edge and irritated to mask the little sparks of rage that Jerome so successfully ignites inside of him. Whenever he tries to look away from Jerome his gaze is drawn to the small, muted screen that’s playing the news, and that just works him up more. The more aggravated Bruce becomes, the more pleased Jerome appears. He’s probably waiting for Bruce to try and attack him just so that he can twist the situation to his advantage.

The minute Bruce tries to hurt Jerome, Jerome wins. He’s got to keep his cool.

“G 5,” he says as placidly as he can manage while looking at his tracking grid. He can’t say for sure, but he’s fairly certain that Jerome attempted to arrange his ships into the shape of a heart. It would be cute if it weren’t so incredibly concerning.

“Aw, there goes my submarine,” Jerome purrs, evidentially not at all put off by Bruce sinking his final ship. “Looks like you win this time around.” Jerome pushes his plastic board aside and starts leaning closer.

Assuming that the hostages weren’t found before the night reached its conclusion Bruce is facing just under three more hours in Jerome’s company. That’s also assuming that Jerome is just going to stand aside and let him leave after the four hours are up, which Bruce is honestly a little skeptical of.

Bruce doesn’t think he can tolerate another three hours of board games when he knows that there are people terrified out of their minds hidden away somewhere in the city, all because Jerome feels the need to be as dramatic and awful as possible.

Jerome’s hand cups the back of Bruce’s head and their lips slide together, slow and easy. He still has hours to do whatever he wants, he doesn’t have to rush, and the slick feeling of his tongue running against Bruce’s mouth is becoming a familiar sensation that, quite disturbingly, makes Bruce’s heart beat a little faster. Then he bites Bruce’s bottom lip, not hard enough to break skin but enough to be startling, and he pulls away with a dreamy look in his eyes.

“You know,” he begins breathily, and Bruce can’t tell how much of his expression and voice are being masterfully faked. “I cannot wait to play live action Clue with you someday.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’ll be a bit different since you’ll already know who the culprit is, but I’ll leave behind little clues for you to figure out where they were murdered, and with what.”

He needs to stay calm. He needs to stay calm.

“Killing your butler almost seems predictable at this point, so I’ll have to find someone else to be the centerpiece of our first game.” Jerome tucks his chin into his hands and smiles at Bruce like he knows exactly how much willpower it’s taking for Bruce to stop himself from wiping the grin off of his face with his fists. “What about that girl you always seem to be hanging around with?”

Calm. Calm. Calm.

“I bet she’d be feisty, but that’ll only make her hurt more before it ends.”

“Don’t even think about touching her,” Bruce grits out, his voice low enough that it almost sounds like a growl to his own ears.

“Do you think she’d cry for help? Or do you think she’d—”

Bruce scrambles forward onto his knees. He doesn’t punch or kick or scratch or bite or any of the many things he wants to do—the many things that Jerome wants him to do—but he does cover Jerome’s mouth with his hands.

“Shut. Up.”

Jerome licks his palm leisurely, then he digs his teeth into the skin and clamps down for several painful seconds. Bruce breathes through both the sharp sting and the throbbing ache when Jerome’s teeth unclamp only for his tongue to drag along the wound. Jerome makes an obscene sound and Bruce tears his hands away before Jerome can greedily lap up any more of his blood.

“There’s that beautiful darkness finally coming out to play,” Jerome says, crimson smeared on his lips as he lifts himself into an ominous crouch as if he’s about ready to leap over the coffee table between them and pin Bruce down all over again. “Don’t get me wrong darlin’, you’re still an awful lot of fun even when you try to keep it locked up inside of you, but when you let it out?” Jerome places a hand over his heart and flutters his eyelashes dramatically. “Brucie, baby, I think I’m in love.”

Bruce doesn’t know what to say to that, so instead he scowls and curls his fingers into tight fists while his heart does a strange, entirely unnecessary lurch in his chest.

“I was hoping to play with you a bit more before playing with you, but I really can’t resist you when you start looking at me like that.”

“Like I want to knock you unconscious?”

Jerome rises into a standing position and Bruce belatedly mirrors the movement.

“Like you want to rip my heart right out of my chest.”

“I’m not going to kill you, Jerome.” Never. He’d never stoop that low. Especially not when Jerome would spend his last breaths laughing with delight at that outcome. The very idea of it makes him feel sick.

“Well, I wouldn’t let you. Believe it or not death is way too dull for me to go back to it, even if it was by your hand. I would let you try, though. I’d let you see how far you could go.” Jerome’s grin turns razor sharp and he shows off enough teeth to be purposefully unsettling. “Does that turn you on, darlin’?”

“No.”

“Too bad. Thankfully I know what does.”

Jerome is on him like a flash, pressing Bruce up against a wall and forcing a thigh between his legs. Their height difference, however few inches it might be, makes it so that even when Bruce lifts himself up onto his toes Jerome’s thigh is still there, pressed right up against him.

Jerome leans in to kiss him again, and there’s nothing soft about it from either of them this time.

Bruce digs his nails into Jerome’s shoulders and snarls, though he knows better than to bite, now. He doesn’t want Jerome’s blood on his lips, in his mouth, doesn’t want him to linger again just like last time.

Last time—

When Bruce had gone home after being found and gently questioned as if he were as fragile as an eggshell, had licked his lips and tasted the hint of a metallic tang, and had desperately tried to ignore the way heat flooded through his body at the memories he couldn’t seem to block out.

Last time; when Bruce eventually gave in and shoved his hand into his pants, screwing his eyes tightly shut and unsuccessfully trying not to think about what a bigger, rougher hand would feel like against his overheated skin.

It was a moment of weakness that Bruce has no plans to repeat. It was one thing to react when Jerome was with him, but a whole new level of embarrassment was involved when Bruce was actually alone.

“Such a good boy,” Jerome murmurs against Bruce’s lips. “You’re a quick learner. I’d never guess that just a few weeks ago you kissed like you didn’t know what to do with your mouth.” Jerome’s leg shifts against him and Bruce bites back a moan. “You haven’t been practicing with other boys behind my back, have you? Trying to get me jealous?”

“No,” he grits out, unable to stop the shallow rocking of his hips. Jerome really did bring out the worst in him; he made Bruce livid, he made Bruce want to hurt him, he made Bruce feel debauched. He made Bruce want more than he should.

There must be something horribly wrong with Bruce, since Jerome could affect him like this so easily.

Jerome grinds against him, and Bruce can feel his hard cock against his hip, and he can’t seem to stop the whine from leaving his throat.

He knows it’s wrong, but it feels too good to ignore.

“Sweet thing, are you going to cry for me this time?” Jerome’s hand fumbles for something and soon he’s drawing the flat side of a switchblade across Bruce’s cheek. “Are you going to beg me to help you come, darlin’?”

“Is that really what you want? Me crying and begging?” Because—not that Bruce tries to put too much thought into these confrontations—Jerome seemed to get so much more out of Bruce standing up to him, pushing back, defying him however he could.

“Yeah,” Jerome says with a pleased sigh, “At least once. I bet you’ll look adorable all glossy-eyed and desperate for something only I can give you. The thought of it reminds me of our first meeting. You were frailer back then; a little wisp of a thing caught in a cruel spider’s web. I wasn’t interested in you so much as the idea of killing you and the notoriety that would go hand in hand with it, but if I’d known back then what an interesting boy you were, when I had you up on that stage with me I’d have—”

“Shut up,” Bruce snaps. “Shut up, shut up.”

“Gosh, Bruce, why don’t you make me?”

Bruce kisses him. His hands slip up the back of Jerome’s shirt and he drags his nails across Jerome’s back hard enough to leave welts. Jerome chortles and sighs, and when he pulls back he slips the tip of the knife into Bruce’s mouth, the blade finding a place to rest at the corner of Bruce’s lips. He doesn’t cut, not yet anyway, but the threat is there. His hooded eyes are almost unreadable and Bruce squirms against him.

He should be repulsed.

He’s not.

“You’ve got such a pretty face, it would almost be a shame to scar it,” Jerome tells him flatly as his gaze drops down to Bruce’s neck. “But the other physical marks I’ve left on you are small and faded. If I didn’t know what to look for I might not even see them at all.” He pushes the knife a little firmer against the corner of Bruce’s mouth, and Bruce pulls his lips back into a mimicry of a smile while his heart beats like a drum in his chest.

He’s not exactly sure what he wants, he just knows it’s something that he should find sickening; like the idea of offering up his neck for Jerome to retrace the thin white line he’d left at their first meeting.

He should want Jerome’s knife far away from him.

There really is something wrong with him.

“And you’re always such a serious boy. The notoriety of killing you almost seems overshadowed by the infamy of being the one who put a permanent smile on your face.” He presses, and Bruce can feel a sharp flash of pain as the thin skin begins to part under the blade. His breath hitches. He feels anxious and hot. “Everyone would know who you belonged to then, wouldn’t they?”

“You don’t own me,” Bruce slurs, even as his hips jerk unsteadily against Jerome’s thigh. Forming the words makes the blade cut a little deeper, and Bruce can feel blood start to well up. “And no one would start thinking that after you scarred my face.”

“My followers would.”

“I think that even your Maniax are catching on to your obsession with me without the scarring.” Blood is trickling from the corner of his mouth and tracing a warm path down to his chin. Bruce distantly thinks that Detective Gordon is going to look especially haunted by this wound, once he sees it. Alfred’s probably going to want to take him to Switzerland again.

“I’ll have to stake my claim in public, then?” Jerome draws the knife out of Bruce’s mouth, eyes glimmering. “I should have realized you’d be an exhibitionist.”

It’s no use telling Jerome to shut up, and Bruce does not want to listen to whatever gross thing that Jerome is thinking about that has his expression lighting up in sinister amusement, so he kisses him again instead.

Jerome laughs against him and presses his tongue to the corner of Bruce’s mouth, and it hurts enough that Bruce can feel tears start welling up in his eyes. Jerome’s hands come between their bodies, and he hastily undoes Bruce’s pants and pulls them down the few inches that he can with Bruce’s legs still spread wide by Jerome’s thigh.

The feeling of Jerome’s hand on his dick is almost enough for Bruce’s vision to white out—it’s unexpectedly better than he’d imagined during his moment of weakness, he wishes it weren’t—even though Jerome drags his teeth against torn skin at the same time.

He cries out in pleasure and pain, and he can’t even be bothered to be embarrassed by it.

“You’re so worked up,” Jerome hisses against him. “I bet you would have come in your pants eventually. I could have just left you to rut against me and you’d get there all on your own, wouldn’t you? You’d make such a wet mess of your underwear. I bet you’d be so mortified by it that you’d blush all over, wouldn’t you?” Jerome chortles. “What a precious boy. How would your friends feel if they knew about this? I bet they think I’m trying to bleed you dry right now. They must be so desperate to save you, but you don’t want that, do you Bruce?”

Bruce shakes his head, but that isn’t enough.

“Do you.” His grip becomes almost painfully tight. “Bruce?”

“No,” he keens.

“Such a good boy,” Jerome praises and mocks him all at once before he pulls back his leg and his hand, and Bruce can’t help the strangled sound that escapes his mouth at the loss of pressure.

“Shh, shh.” Jerome peppers kisses across Bruce’s burning cheeks. “Don’t worry darlin’, I’m going to help you out.” His lips skim across Bruce’s jaw, then down his neck. “But you can’t look away, Bruce. Keep your eyes on me.”

His hands grip at the bare skin of Bruce’s hips. It feels gentle compared to everything else he’s done, and his thumbs trace circles against Bruce’s hipbones in a way that’s almost reassuring. Jerome pulls back to look at his face and he seems pleased by what he sees there, thrilled that Bruce hasn’t immediately turned his head away just to pointedly disregard his demands.

He’s probably pleased by the shine of Bruce’s eyes, too, and the way the stinging pain has made them tear up.

“Gorgeous,” he says under his breath, his hands pushing the waistband of Bruce’s pants and underwear further down until Bruce’s cock is fully exposed. Bruce’s breath hitches and he tries not to squirm, but he wants Jerome to do something—anything—and he’s so close to the edge already.

One of Jerome’s hands lifts up to press two fingers against his mouth, and even though it’s humiliating Bruce parts his lips and hesitantly drags his tongue against the tips. He thinks he sees a tinge of red bloom on Jerome’s cheeks and it feels strangely good to know that his actions can make some sort of impact, too. When Jerome presses his fingers in Bruce purses his lips around them and sucks, not taking his eyes off of Jerome’s face.

Jerome stares back as ravenous as ever, like he can’t get enough of Bruce. Like he’s trying to commit him to memory.

Bruce’s heart does another odd little lurch in his chest.

“You want me to take care of you, don’t you Bruce?”

“Yes,” Bruce answers, voice muffled by Jerome’s fingers. Jerome presses down against his tongue and pushes back far enough to trigger Bruce’s gag reflex. He pulls out as Bruce coughs wetly, and he presses a biting kiss to Bruce’s lips before Bruce has the chance to catch his breath.

“Ask me nicely,” he purrs against Bruce’s mouth. “Beg for what you want.”

“Please,” Bruce pleads with a cracking voice, too far gone to care about the implications of giving in so easily. “Please Jerome, touch me. I need you to touch me. However you want, just let me come.”

However I want? Oh, darlin’, you are magnificent.” Jerome roughly presses his tongue into the broken skin at the side of Bruce’s mouth before he drops to his knees. “Remember, Bruce, don’t look away.”

As if Bruce could.

Jerome licks a wet stripe up the underside of Bruce’s cock and Bruce feels every muscle in his body go tense at the sight combined with the sensation.

He won’t be able to last long.

“Jerome, please.”

Jerome hums and one of his hands starts winding its way around Bruce’s hip, slick fingers grazing against his tailbone. He grins up at Bruce, eyes flashing, fingers trailing lower, and his mouth falls open to take in the head of Bruce’s cock.

And at the same time one of his fingers starts pressing in.

Bruce jerks, hands restlessly trying to find purchase on the wall on either side of him. The feeling of Jerome’s blunt fingertip inside of him is strange, bordering on uncomfortable, but his mouth—

Jerome drags his tongue against Bruce’s slit, and Bruce can’t keep his hands from drifting down to dig into Jerome’s hair. He can feel Jerome laugh as his fingers curl tightly into the strands, and it’s not as aggravating as it should be. Jerome’s lips seal back around the head, just holding the tip in his mouth while his finger starts to slowly drag in and out.

“Please.” He wants Jerome to move, or take him in deeper, or suck him off. He wants something more to offset the burn and stretch of Jerome’s finger. “I’ll—” He can barely keep his head from smacking against the wall as Jerome’s finger presses in all the way. Bruce feels stretched open and sore, and he can feel his entire face go hot as he mumbles, “I’ll be a good boy, Jerome, I promise.”

Jerome pulls away and Bruce’s hands fist tighter in his hair, unconsciously trying to guide him back.

“I know you will, Bruce. You’ll be my good boy.” His finger pulls out, and Bruce can feel him slide both of his slick digits against the rim in a lazy circle. “Right?”

“Yes,” he agrees, quick enough that he knows he’ll despise himself for it later, but he’ll worry about that when he’s safe at home and Jerome isn’t around to torment him.

Jerome takes him back into his mouth, dragging his tongue against him as he presses both fingers in. It’s too much, too fast. It hurts; a whole new kind of pain that Jerome is no doubt pleased to introduce him to that leaves him feeling weirdly full. His breath comes in shallow, quick pants as Jerome draws him deeper into his hot mouth, and then his fingers curl—

Bruce isn’t even sure what sounds or words fall from his mouth as he comes, clenching around Jerome’s fingers in a way that makes him ache even more, but whatever it is it’s enough for Jerome to wink at him before devotedly sucking at the head of his cock until Bruce is crying out from overstimulation. His hands leave Jerome’s hair to weakly bat at his shoulders, and when that alone isn’t enough to make him move away Bruce can’t stop himself from begging all over again.

“Please, please, Jerome, it’s too much.”

Jerome pulls back looking incredibly pleased with himself and Bruce finds himself sliding down the wall, legs too weak to support his weight. Jerome pulls apart his knees and looms closer, and Bruce can’t keep his eyes from drifting down to his pink, wet lips.

“You’re adorable,” Jerome tells him with a laugh, and he kisses him before Bruce can attempt to deny it. Then he pulls back to stand, and as Bruce’s eyes lazily move to track him he catches sight of the television and the bold words scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

The hostages have been tracked down.

It won’t be much longer until he’s found, too.

Bruce doesn’t have the time to parse out if he’s relieved or disappointed because Jerome is undoing his own pants and taking out his hard cock, and Bruce’s thoughts abruptly turn to static at the sight of it.

“You’ve been absolutely perfect, Brucie.” Jerome guides the slick head across Bruce’s lips. “My precious good boy. I knew you wanted this just as much as me. Open up darlin’, and remember; don’t look away from me.”

Bruce takes in a shuddering breath and obeys. He’s expecting something harsh and fast, like Jerome grabbing onto his hair and fucking his face all while saying the most humiliating things that he can think of. Things that will make Bruce’s stomach twist even if might also make him squirm for other, incredibly mortifying reasons.

“That’s it,” Jerome praises with something far too warm in his tone, and Bruce wonders if this strange fondness is meant to be a further manipulation. Probably. The head of his cock brushes past Bruce’s lips, and Bruce awkwardly runs his tongue along the underside in a mimicry of what Jerome had done to him. Jerome sighs, sounding pleased, like Bruce is doing a good job despite how he’s incredibly out of his depth, and something about that makes Bruce feel feverish as Jerome feeds more of his cock into Bruce’s open mouth.

His eyes start to water.

He doesn’t look away.

Jerome pets his hair and calls him a, “good boy,” and blood rushes into Bruce’s cheeks even as he starts to gag before he’s even managed to take half of Jerome in his mouth.

“Relax, Bruce,” Jerome croons as he pulls back just enough for Bruce to catch his breath. His fingers twist in Bruce’s hair as if he’s fighting with his own impatient urge to force Bruce into swallowing him down to the root. “Breathe through your nose, darlin’, that’s right.” His hips rock forward, cock sliding in and stretching Bruce’s lips until he reaches the point where Bruce’s shoulders begin to heave as he fights the urge to retch. “Swallow around me, doll, and keep breathing. Don’t want you passing out.”

Bruce swallows, and Jerome eagerly pushes further in, and Bruce can feel the corner of his mouth tear open a little more. He brings a hand up to wrap around the base of Jerome’s dick, his throat and mouth aching too much to let Jerome continue on exactly as he wants. He can feel more blood trickle down his chin and seep into his mouth, and he distantly wonders if he’s doomed to associate the metallic taste with Jerome from now on.

“You look so good with blood on your face, Bruce,” Jerome tells him with something akin to wonder in his voice, and he pets Bruce’s hair again. “But you look even better with blood on your hands.” His hand fists tightly into Bruce’s curls and he stares down at Bruce with something dangerous in his eyes. “I’m going to see that again someday, I know it.” His hips snap forward and Bruce’s hand instinctively tightens. He runs his tongue around him as best as he can, saliva starting to join the blood dripping down his chin, and Jerome moans. “I can see something dark and hungry inside of you. Saw it in that maze of mirrors. Wish I’d had more time to play with you then,” he pants. “You were so stunning when you wanted to kill me.”

That’s one of the most disgusting things Jerome has ever said to him. Bruce had seen what he looked like when he wanted to kill Jerome—he’d hated it. Hated everything about it.

Jerome’s intense gaze roves over his face, and he laughs softly at whatever tells he finds in Bruce’s expression.

“You’re stunning now, too.”

Bruce thought he was already too feverish to be able to flush more, but apparently that was just another thing he’d been wrong about. He probably looks awful; ruddy cheeks and glossy red eyes, spit and blood dripping down his chin.

“I’m so glad I didn’t follow after you to slit your throat with that mirror shard after you left me high and dry.” Jerome’s hands gently cradle the back of Bruce’s head and he thrust his hips forward, going as deep as he can with Bruce’s hand still limiting his range. Bruce almost gags anyways, and as he swallows he can feel Jerome shudder around him. “This is so much better than watching you bleed out,” his voice cracks as he shifts back, not even an inch, and drives forward again. The obscenely wet, slick sounds are almost enough to mask his softening voice. “Almost wish I had the patience to let you keep my cock in your mouth for—” His breath hitches, his hands wind tighter in Bruce’s hair, he pushes in deep and rolls his hips. “—for much longer than this’ll be.”

Bruce stumbles through an incoherent response. He’s not entirely sure what he means to say, but he knows that if he was able to speak it would have been shameful.

Because the idea makes something inside of him twist and the heat consuming him reaches a boiling point.

All of Jerome’s talking, all of the affectionate names, all of this, is making him hard again.

“I’d let you kneel between my legs and keep me wet and warm, let you get used to the feeling of it on your tongue, in your throat.” Jerome’s eyes fall shut briefly, and there’s even more colour high on his cheeks. His movements become jerkier. When his eyes open back up they’re hazy, not nearly as sharp as they usually are. “But you turn me on too much, baby doll. You and your pretty pink throat, pretty pink mouth, pretty pink dick. Is there any part of you that isn’t pretty, Bruce?” He pets Bruce’s hair again; strangely tender, almost loving, and Bruce makes a muffled, strangled noise at the unmistakable fondness. “Fuck. You’d even be pretty if I slit—” He cuts himself off with a low groan and Bruce can’t help but watch—has no choice but to watch—the way his facial expression shifts.

Jerome pulls out and grabs onto Bruce’s hand, roughly guiding it over his cock.

“That’s it,” he tells Bruce under his breath, even though Bruce isn’t doing anything except trying to catch his breath and form coherent thoughts. “That’s perfect, just like that Bruce.”

The praise doesn’t even sound like it has a mocking edge anymore.

Jerome’s fingers twitch overtop of Bruce’s and then his hand goes slack.

And then Bruce feels wet heat spatter over his face, painting uneven swatches on his cheeks and closed mouth.

“You look like you’re mine,” Jerome rumbles, out of breath, possessive, and far too pleased with himself. “Only mine. No one else will ever have you the way I’ve had you,” he says it like a promise. “No one else will break you apart the way I’m going to.”

Bruce takes in a shaky breath, and he squeezes his thighs together.

“You’re so,” he rasps, voice sounding wrecked to his own ears. Bizarre, insane, disgusting, none of the words seem like enough. “Weird.”

Jerome lets out a quick, startled laugh.

“Understatement of the century, Bruce,” he says, and maybe it’s just that he’s lax after getting off but he sounds more affectionate than he was before, and that makes Bruce feel— “Just wait until our next date.”

Internally Bruce is reeling at the possibility of even more after this—Jerome needs to be locked away, needs to stay away. Bruce needs time separate from him so that he can think clearly and be a rational person against because this, what he just let Jerome do, is absolutely insane. Even now he can feel something dark and loathing stirring up inside of him, telling him he should have fought more, should have bit, should have wrestled the knife from Jerome’s hand as soon as he’d noticed it—

But if Jerome is good at one thing, besides bloodshed and causing chaos, it’s turning Bruce’s body and mind against each other.

He squeezes his thighs tighter together in an effort not to shift around too obviously, and he bites his lip to stifle a cry. He can taste Jerome, and his breath stutters in a mimic of his heart.

Jerome’s eyes sharpen again, and they quickly dart below his face.

“Oh, Brucie.” He crouches down in front of him, smiling wide enough to show an alarming number of teeth. “You’re ready for more?”

He sounds excited, as if this is some kind of unexpected present.

“Look at you,” he breathes, eyes scanning over Bruce with the same intensity of an art collector looking over a new piece. “Aren’t you just.” His hand reaches out. “So.” He takes hold of Bruce’s cock, thumb toying with the head. “Precious?”

It feels good—it shouldn’t feel good, Bruce shouldn’t let himself be touched like this by anyone, Jerome least of all—and Bruce’s breath catches in his throat again as his eyes tear up. He leans forward to bury his face into the crook of Jerome’s neck and he can feel Jerome chuckle just as well as he can hear him.

“I told you that I’d show you what you need, darlin’,” Jerome drawls softly, turning his head to press a kiss to Bruce’s ear as his hand picks up speed. “Aren’t I good to you?”

Bruce doesn’t want to agree. Doesn’t want Jerome to stop. Doesn’t want to go home after this and remember what a disastrous mess he is.

Jerome, for once, doesn’t force Bruce to answer. Instead he threads his free hand into Bruce’s hair and makes low, soothing noises as if Bruce is some kind of delicate, terrified animal.

Bruce isn’t even sure when he started shaking. He heaves uneven breaths against Jerome’s shoulder and clenches his eyes as tightly shut as he can.

Last time when he’d touched himself he hadn’t wanted to. Hadn’t wanted to think about Jerome and feel good about it. It was a mistake. It was a one-off. Bruce had promised himself that it wouldn’t happen again.

He’s not sure he’s going to be able to resist breaking that promise when he’s all alone, cut off from the world in his mostly empty house, and the memories of this night come back to haunt him.

“Shh, shh. It’s okay,” Jerome whispers as he breaks Bruce open, leaving cracks and fissures that he’ll no doubt take advantage of later if he’s given the opportunity. “Let it out, Bruce, let it out.”

Bruce bites into Jerome’s shoulder to muffle his cry, and Jerome hisses lowly.

“Go ahead,” his voice is rough, like he’s getting stirred up all over again, too, “bite harder. I know you want to break skin, baby doll.”

Bruce clenches his teeth, and Jerome inhales shakily, and he can taste blood in his mouth again.

“Good,” Jerome sighs, “you’re such a good boy, Bruce.”

Bruce comes in Jerome’s fist.

“So sweet,” Jerome praises, fingers skimming against Bruce’s sensitive skin as he lets go. “So responsive. You really do want to be my good boy, don’t you? We’re going to have to explore that a little further, darlin’.”

Bruce’s mind buzzes, thoughts scattered like too many dandelion seeds in the wind.

There’s a wet sound, and Bruce pries one eye open to see Jerome licking his fingers clean. He slowly unclenches his teeth from the meat of Jerome’s shoulder and Jerome’s eyes flick over to him. He smirks as he laves his tongue against his fingers one final time, and then that hand, too, is threading into Bruce’s hair.

Jerome kisses him, long and easy and slow, he still thinks that they have hours at their disposal.

Bruce kisses back, grasping at straws.

He wants to—

What he wants is ridiculous.

He needs to distract. Distract Jerome for however long he could. The closer Jerome was to this location when the GCPD finally came the more likely it would be that he’d get caught, and Bruce would be free from this entanglement, and could focus on all of the things that he was supposed to be focusing on right now, and could try to forget that this had ever happened.

His fingers clench in Jerome’s shirt and his mouth falls open again.

Jerome makes a deep, pleased sound low in his throat, and Bruce’s heart flutters sickly at the sound of it. He presses closer, and—

A jarringly cheerful ringtone starts going off.

The kiss breaks.

“The GCPD,” Jerome says with a sneer as his eyes dart to his phone, then to the television screen, “are such cockblockers.”

Bruce’s fingers dig tighter into the fabric, and Jerome’s hands fall over his own as his gaze turns back to him.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Jerome tells him lowly, eyes greedily roving over Bruce’s face. Drinking in the sight of his flushed cheeks and the dried blood and tacky spunk on his skin and his teary eyes. His fingers rub softly against Bruce’s until Bruce’s grip on him goes slack. “But don’t worry, Brucie, I won’t leave you alone for too long.”

“Jerome—”

“Shh.” Jerome smiles, sharp as any knife that Bruce has ever seen. “I’ll be back.” He stands, adjusts his pants, and leaves the room, and Bruce—

Sits in a daze on the floor like he’s under some kind of spell.

Bruce is surprised to see Jerome again, having assumed his ‘I’ll be back’ had been an insinuation about another incident a few weeks from now. He’s even more surprised when Jerome crouches in front of him again and brings a warm, wet cloth to his face.

“You don’t have time for this,” he rasps, even though it’s foolish of him to remind Jerome that he needs to be moving on as quickly as possible.

“Sure I do. Besides, I don’t want any of your friends finding out about our little secret, at least so soon.”

Bruce’s chest lurches uncomfortably about the thought of anyone he was actually close with finding out about this, and the last time, and the time before that when Jerome had successfully broken into his bedroom right after the carnival.

Maybe Bruce should have come clean to Detective Gordon and Alfred about what Jerome’s intentions were. Maybe then this never would have happened.

He thinks it’s too late for the truth, now.

“I bet they’d never give you permission to go off with me alone ever again.”

Bruce bristles at the thought of needing to be allowed to do things and even though he shouldn’t answer, shouldn’t give Jerome any more attention than he already thoughtlessly has, he finds himself gritting out, “I make my own decisions.”

“Oh, I know.” Jerome presses the cloth to the cut corner of his mouth. Even though he’s—for some unfathomable reason—obviously trying to be gentle it’s still enough to make it sting. “Trust me, I know. We’re so alike, you and me.”

No we’re not, Bruce thinks, trying to keep his face blank.

“That's why we’re going to make such a great team.” Jerome presses a smiling kiss to the corner of his mouth. When he leans back his gaze is dreamy again.

Like he’s thinking about what Bruce will look like with someone else’s blood on his hands.

“Think about me often, darlin’,” he croons as stands. “I’ll be thinking about you.”

This time when he leaves the room he doesn’t come back, and after a few minutes Bruce is somehow able to fold his legs beneath himself and unsteadily rise to his feet. He passes the coffee table, and the pile of board games that Jerome had picked out, and the scattered gameboard and tokens that had fallen to the floor.

He finds a bathroom and uneasily looks into the mirror.

His eyes are rimmed in red, and his hair is a mess, and his lips are swollen, and his cheeks are still flushed, and the cut in the corner of his mouth is small but it aches. He reaches a shaking hand up to it, praying that it will heal without scarring.

He feels like he can still taste Jerome—his blood and his cum—in his mouth.

His breath hitches.

His heart pounds.

His eyes water.

Some dark, twisted thing inside of him feels… Satiated.

“There’s definitely something wrong with me,” he whispers to his reflection, gaze skittering over every little thing that he can find fault in; he looks weak, he looks cheap, he looks like a—

He curbs the sudden urge to punch a hand through the glass—an action that would likely leave him hurting and bleeding even more than the cut at the corner of his mouth—and turns away from the mirror instead.

Chapter Text

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.