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Tim was pretty sure that Conner's eyes were blue. In fact he knew they were- the problem was that he had never seen the exact shade of blue that was Conner's eyes. So yeah, he knew they were blue. But the blue they were was completely lost to him and that led Tim to think that maybe they weren't really blue at all. 

He was openly staring at him from over the counter. His head resting on the flat top of his hands as the blonde with Connor giggled and leaned in to smack his chest again. They didn't notice him. No one noticed him. It was like a secret superpower that activated on its own anytime he was out in public that allowed people to pass by him without a second glance. Stephanie was convinced that he could rob a bank and the security guard would open the door for him on his way out-- that is if they saw him at all. But Conner had noticed him. At least as much as you could notice the guy that made your coffee. He would smile at Tim and greet him by name and in return Tim would make his order without him having to ask and try not to be too losery when he handed it over. He watched as Conner brushed a strand of hair off of the blonde's face and wondered if she thought his eyes were blue, but Stephanie tapped his shoulder to pull him out of his misery and handed him a napkin. 

"You're drooling," she told him with a smirk. "You better wipe it up before you cause a flood."

"Let me drown," Tim groaned and pushed himself up when Conner leaned in to whisper in her ear. "Better yet, hold me under and make sure it happens."

Stephanie grinned at that. She was the only person who ever got his melancholy sense of humor. Probably because she was the only person he ever really spoke to. Having one friend made life a lot easier. When he needed to go somewhere he took Stephanie. When it was time to apply to schools, he applied where Stephanie applied. When he needed a job he thought sure, I'll work with Stephanie, not knowing the pure torture he was going to put himself through having to watch stupid beautiful Conner and his Perfect Match. 

The Perfect Match program was government mandated. It didn't used to be, but after the high success rates of the program lead to a decline in poverty and crime, it became required to get registered in the program when you turned 18. All of the girls in school had talked about it constantly, how they would graduate and get matched with some rich guy and not have to worry about anything ever again. Tim just saw it as an inevitability. There was no point in being upset about it because he would have to do it either way. Most people got multiple matches anyway and then he could choose who he wanted to be miserable with for the rest of his life. Maybe he'd luck out and get Stephanie. Then they could at least be miserable together. 

Stephanie was older than him and had gone to do her match testing just before their graduation. She'd been so excited when she went down to the testing center in Metropolis knowing her Perfect Match was only a few months away. Tim, who had turned eighteen just a few weeks before, still had his summons unopened on his desk letting him know he only had a couple days before they would take legal action to force him to complete his testing. 

"Hey, Edgar Allen Poe." Stephanie nudged him and nodded towards the door. "Look alive." 

He took his place at the register before he noticed who was walking in and immediately went pale. Bruce definitely had blue eyes. Tim only knew his name from his coffee cup, but he came in almost every day and got the same thing. Black coffee with barely a drop of milk that Tim was positive there was no way he could actually taste. But the reason that he knew the exact shade of blue that was Bruce's eyes was because he had looked straight into them yesterday morning as he dropped his not black, black coffee all over his impeccably tailored suit. 

"Switch with me," he told Stephanie while Bruce was still looking at his phone.

"What? No. We aren't supposed to use each other's tills!" 

"Steph," he begged her. 

" Tim, " she mimicked with a smirk and before he could say anything else, Bruce slipped his phone into his pocket and approached, sharp gaze bearing down on him. 

"Coffee, black with a splash of milk," he ordered just like he did everyday, his card already out before Tim could give him his total. Tim gave him his receipt silently and tried to ignore the brush of his fingers against his, the slight annoyance in his expression all too apparent. He moved down to the end of the counter. Bruce smiled at Stephanie and Tim tried not to gawk in awe, but when he turned back to look at Tim, he dropped to hide behind the counter like the losery loser he was. 

Stephanie walked up next to him and watched the door. "Okay, he's gone. The coffee made it with him this time." 

Tim shoved his head into his hands. "Can you seriously just let me drool myself to death?"

"But if I did that, you would miss your appointment tomorrow," she reminded him with a little nudge with her toe. She laughed when Tim groaned again and pulled him back up to the counter. "It's not bad, I promise. And who knows? Maybe you'll end up with Mr. Tall, Hot, and Black Coffee." She grinned at the closed door. 

"Right." Tim rolled his eyes. "Like that would happen."

-

The Perfect Match program was created by Lexcorp and their associates. A long time ago Tim's family company had been one of those associates, but the business had failed after his grandfather had died and done a lot of damage on the way down. The secretary at the front desk looked from his name and back up to Tim twice before she picked up the phone and dialed the Match office. He watched as she nodded and responded in clipped and short answers before finally hanging up and smiling in a sticky sweet way at him and handed him a key card. "Top floor," she told him. "They are expecting you, Mr. Drake." 

He got into the elevator and shoved his hands into his pockets after using the key card to punch the top floor. The lobby room was fairly empty for a Saturday morning-- not that Tim really knew how busy a Match office was supposed to be. But there was only a half dozen nervous looking teenagers waiting for their names to be called, hands and feet twitching. 

Tim barely sat down when the door opened a set of familiar, blue, but not blue eyes found him and called, "Tim Drake?"

He didn't even have time to think that it was hardly fair that he had just gotten there but was already being called as he scrambled over to him. 

"So you're a Drake, huh?" Connor asked as Tim followed him down the hallway filled with doors. "Never would have guessed it. You just seem so-"

"Awkward and strange?" He offered. 

Conner laughed and pushed open a door at the end of the hall. "I was going to say cool. But yeah, maybe a little strange." He grinned at him and nodded him into the room. Tim was all too aware that he was in a closed space with one of the prettiest people he had seen in real life as he slipped onto the examination chair. 

"Alright," Conner said, pulling a tablet off of the counter top and typing something into it. "I know this seems like a lot, but it's all basic information. Mostly you just check yes or no or mark the things that apply. While you fill this out, I'll get started on your bloodwork." He handed over the tablet but Tim didn't look away as Connor pulled a tourniquet and some gloves out of the drawer. 

"I'm sorry," Tim shook his head. "But aren't you a little young to be a doctor?"

Conner laughed again, rattling the nerves right out of him. "Yeah, a little young. I'm just a med student. I go to school at Gotham University, but my Dad runs the place so I come help on the weekends." He shrugged like he hadn't just admitted he was Lex Luthor's son. "Don't worry, I've done this a hundred times, I won't hurt you," he promised, wrapping the tourniquet around Tim's arm. He nodded and tensed when he saw the needle, focusing on the questions on the tablet as he stuck him.

He bit down on his lip at the pinch and let it go immediately, eyes darting up to Connor but he wasn't paying attention, just filling the vials and labeling them before placing them in a case. He answered a few more questions stealing glances here and there before he hesitated on sexual preference "So you go to GU?" He asked mostly so that he couldn't force his heart rate down and he checked male and moved down. 

Conner nodded. "Going into my junior year," he said distractedly and wrote on his last vial. 

"I start there next month," Tim offered squinting at a few of the questions that got more weird and personal as he went. 

"Any chance you are premed?" Conner asked in good nature. 

"Business," Tim muttered and then typed it in as the same question came up. 

He looked up when Conner laughed and he immediately held up a hand. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh," he told him and actually looked like he meant it. "Just with your family and all…"

Tim didn't need a reminder. His father had never been meant for business. He had shown up to school and gotten the grades he needed to get by, but never retained anything. He messed around until he got a match in his mother that was high enough that he had no choice but to take it. And then out of resentment he tried to change everything Tim's grandfather had built. The business hadn't lasted long after that. And as soon as it went under, his parents started to travel for long stretches of time, going where they needed to go so they could save face and make it seem like they hadn't been affected. Of course if it wasn't for his mother's trust and inheritance the money would have run out a long time ago. Not that that stopped them from throwing it away as they continued to try and save the Drake name by presence alone. "Yeah well, I guess I'm a glutton for punishment," Tim finished lamely and handed the tablet back when he finished the survey. Conner nodded and offered a smile before pushing forward. 

Connor poked and prodded at Tim for another half hour. Taking samples of his spit and pulling a few of his hairs before he went into a practical physical exam. His face was heated when they finished and he was allowed to put his shirt back on, unable to look Conner in the eye as he packed everything away. "Okay then, that's it," he said simply. "Your results should start to come out in a couple of months, but finding the right match for you could take up to two or three years." It sounded like he was reciting a script. "As you know, common matches are usually at around a sixty percent, and most people have at least four or five at that level. Perfect Match will set up dates on your behalf and have mixers for people with multiple matches. The system only lets you match with a person within five years of your own age-- Yadda Yadda yadda." He waved his hand and grinned at Tim who couldn't help but smile back. "Any questions?" 

Tim's mind immediately shot to his parents stuck in their unhappy marriage now that divorce was outlawed. He thought about all the meet ups he saw at the coffee shop of people meeting potential matches for the first time and the break ups he had witnessed when people got matches that weren't their significant other. He had to ask. 

"Does it really work?" Conner blinked at him, obviously not expecting that question. "Are you happy with your match?"

"Oh," Conner flushed slightly and rubbed at the back of his neck." I actually haven't found the right match yet. Most of mine are in the forties," he admitted with a shrug and a smile. "It was nice to officially meet you. I'll see you at the coffee shop?" He asked almost sounding hopeful. Tim mouth was too dry to do anything but nod.

-

He dreamed about Conner that night when he got home. About how crazy it would be if he ended up matched to Conner Luthor of all people-- but that was the last time he gave the Perfect Match program much thought. He spent the next month working and preparing himself for September, saving as much as he could so he could take some time off once classes started. Stephanie was going to GU as well and had begged Tim to get a place with her-- but Tim didn't see the point. His parents were always gone anyway, living at home was basically like having his own place, only better because he didn't have to pay for it. 

He got signed up for all of his classes and bought most of his books second hand. He had lucked out on his English book because most of the quizzes had been filled out and checked off already. Other than that he tried not to freak out. He tried to remember that college wasn't high school and he wouldn't have the same issues that he'd had growing up.

And by the time his first day rolled around, Tim almost believed it, walking onto the campus with Stephanie and only almost feeling like he wanted to throw up. His phone buzzed in his pocket and he frowned at the random Metropolis number before hitting ignore. They had been calling him for the past couple of days but he didn't have time for the spam.

 "Maybe you should answer it?" Stephanie shrugged. Again. Always trying to ensue chaos upon his life for her pleasure. 

"I'll check the message later." He waved it off and promised to meet her in the library after his third class. The first two weren't so bad even though his phone wouldn't stop buzzing and he could feel the people sitting on either side from him glaring his way. He shut it off between periods without bothering to glance at it as he rushed not to miss his English period. 

Most of the seats had been taken by the time he'd gotten there so he ended up next to a taller boy who looked around his age with a dyed gray streak in his hair. He looked about as unamused with Tim's offered smile as Bruce was. And Tim tried to let it fall but it was stuck there, like that sort of really horrible fake smile you gave overly friendly old ladies on the subway. He pulled out his notebook silently and the professor came in and did a quick roll call. The boy next to him frowned at Tim's name and looked him over before his eyes widened and he pulled out his phone. He looked at the screen and back to Tim and he raised an eyebrow at him before the Professor called their attention and went about talking about their syllabus for that semester.

The boy rushed off before Tim could ask him why he was being so weird. He shrugged it off and headed to the library where he was supposed to meet Stephanie. He beat her there. He took out his phone and turned it back on, shocked to see how many notifications he had. He had seventeen new friend requests on BookFace, seven more missed phone calls from the Metropolis number. A call from his parents. A call from the family lawyer and four new texts from Stephanie. He opened their text chain first as he slipped into a table in the very corner of the hall. 

 

SB: Holy shit, Tim! You should have answered your phone this morning. 

SB: That call was from Perfect Match and you-- fuck Timmy!! 

SB: [eggplant emoji]

SB: No wonder you are such a puddle around him!

 

Tim's heart jumped into his throat and he immediately thought of Conner. Had they matched? Was his dream actually some weird stress related premonition?  His thumbs were shaking as he opened his browser and typed in his own name. Perfect Match popped up after it after just the first letter and his heart jumped into his throat. He was trending. Just what exactly had happened while he was in class? He opened the first article he found and skimmed it, heart beating too loud for him to really concentrate but he got the gist. 

Previously the highest match ever recorded was an eighty-three percent. Most everyone got a match somewhere between a sixty to a seventy. And anything above that was considered rare. 

Tim felt all the blood rush out of his face when he saw his own picture, a horrible highschool senior photo that his mom had posted on BookFace next to a picture of Bruce from the coffee shop. Only now his name was sitting in full under his photo and ninety-eight percent Match. There was no way on earth this was happening. There was no way that he had matched that high with Bruce Wayne. 

"Fuck," he barely managed to get out, and flinched when a strict looking woman walking by shushed and glared at him. That was, before she shopped to stare like everyone else. 

Tim covered his face in his hands and wished that he could vanish. There was no way this was real.

---

"You look like shit."

Bruce looked up from his desk. He leaned back from where he'd been staring down at the report in front of him. He pushed the papers across the desk and closed his eyes as he looked up at the ceiling. He heard the low whistle and winced. "That's a big number," Selina said. 

He opened his eyes and looked across at her. "And a very small one," he added. 

She looked back at the page. "You matched with an 18 year old? But that's impossible." 

"It should be," he agreed. Selina's eyes went back to the report. He followed her black nails as she slid them down the sheet. She flipped the page and pulled his own profile apart and looked at them side by side. He'd done the same for an hour before texting her. 

"He has worse matches than you. I didn't think that was possible either." 

"There is a 20 year old that got a 36%. That's not terrible." 

"Bruce. You got a 98%."

"He's eighteen." 

"So what? You dated that 18 year old a few years ago. That went well." 

"Getting dumped for a higher Match is going well?" 

Bruce didn't like to think about it. Because Selina was right, it had gone well. Even though they had only been a twenty-seven percent match, he had promised himself that he'd at least message everyone he matched with. When the alert had first come through and he'd seen the name, he'd been confused, then even more when he saw the strong jaw and the shaggy curls. LexCorp had apologized when he called them to ask why they had matched him with a guy. He'd been told that an intern had been working on a report trying to figure out why the system had jumped. It adjusted five hundred profiles. The match couldn't be removed, but since it was so low they informed him that he was under no obligation to contact him. When they asked him if he would like to change his preference back he let them leave it. He was no longer eighteen and terrified of the feelings he'd just started to have. He knew that he could have changed it before then, it was just a quick setting change on the app. But he hadn't, and it didn't look like changing it had opened up an entire new world for him. He'd gotten one more match, still too low. 

They'd talked for four months then finally met in Metropolis. Then talked for another two months before dates started to pop up randomly on his calendar. Then a few months of dating. A little over a year after they'd matched he'd woken up to smiling blue eyes and three words he had given up on hearing. Four months after that a message came through the app, 'I got a 75% match.' and that was that. He didn't bother saying much more than hello to any match after that. He knew that they would get a higher match and move on. 

"That won't happen this time. I don't even think his clone would get higher than you." 

"He's still eighteen." 

"He won't be 18 forever."

"That's-" 

He was cut off by his cell phone ringing. 

 

LEXCORP CORPORATE OFFICES

 

He sighed and answered the phone as he laid his head back and stared at the sprinkler head above him. "Bruce Wayne."

"Bruce." He held up a single finger and thumb. Selina whistled again. He'd gotten the big boss. "Have you gotten your alert?" 

"A few hours ago," Bruce answered. "I like the changes to the app. It's been a while since I've used it." In fact, it had been two years since his match list had finalized after he turned 24 and the system could no longer match him.

Lex let out a heavy breath. He knew what was coming, the non-apology that Lex was so good at. "We ran every diagnostic. There is nothing wrong with the system."

"Other than the fact that I got matched with someone new?" He had to let go of the age. They'd matched. It was done. 

"Yes," Lex admitted, though it sounded like it pained him to do so. "We've reran the algorithms on multiple systems, and Kord out on the West Coast ran your samples on their system as well. They don't change. The highest variance was a point 2 percent drop." Lex paused, maybe he expected and argument or a comment, but Bruce didn't have any words. "We're announcing the match in two hours." 

"Why not wait for prime time news?" he said sharply and gripped the bridge of his nose. 

"Because every news outlet will be clamoring to get the two of you on their prime time segments if we announce it beforehand." 

"Have you at least notified him?" 

"My team is doing it now." He could hear Lex' smile. It didn't matter to him. He was about to get the entire country's attention simply because of a percentage. He would pull the boy off the street and throw him in front of a camera if he had to.

"I'm not meeting him on air." 

"Fine," Lex ground out. "Do try and smile." 

-

Mercy smiled as she opened the green room door for him. He shot her a glare and stepped through. There were two people sitting on the couch. One had his head between his knees while the other rubbed up and down his back. The girl looked up. Her eyes widened and she whispered something. He saw the tension sing through the boy's back. 

"Hi," Bruce offered. He wasn't really sure what he should have said, but it felt wrong. 

"Hi, I'm Stephanie. You can call me Steph though. This is Tim. He's having a bit of a crisis right now." 

"I know you," he realized. A weak noise came from the boy's knees. "You work at the coffee shop across from my building." 

"We do," she said and smiled. He looked down where her hand was still rubbing. They both-- He thought back to the photo and the faces he'd seen at the coffee shop. Stephanie grinned when the realization hit him. 

"My dry cleaner yelled at me for twenty minutes." 

"That's not my fault," the boy replied into his knees. "You could have caught it."

"You threw it at me." 

"I did not!" He was suddenly graced with the spark of steel blue eyes and a shaking finger. "I handed it to you. Then let go," he finished and dropped his hand. "I can't breathe." 

Stephanie's hand went back to the soothing movements. He moved and sat down in the chair next to the couch. Stephanie looked over to him then down at Tim, her eyes clearly saying 'fix this.'

"Well, it's nice to meet you, when you aren't ruining a thousand dollar suit." Stephanie turned and her mouth dropped open. That apparently was not how she wanted him to fix it. "I'm Bruce." He held his hand out. 

Tim turned his head and stared at his hand. He blinked twice then took his hand and said, "Tim." He had a nice handshake. When he let his hand go Tim sat back on the couch, his chest no longer heaving in its breaths. "Are they going to want me to talk?" Tim asked. 

Bruce was startled by the break in the silence. "Lex is going to be here. He'll be doing all of the talking. They'll probably ask what you think about getting such a high match. So I'd have an answer for that."

"What are you going to say?" Tim asked. Bruce looked at the two of them as they waited for his answer. They were both so young. Eight wasn't such a big number, but in this case it was huge. 

"The match was a surprise, but I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes," he answered like he'd rehearsed. Selina had told him it sounded fake the first time he'd said it so he practiced until it sounded real. Now, he could almost believe it himself. 

"You are?" Tim asked. 

"I don't really have a choice, do I?" 

A producer came in and started going over the plan while fiddling with Tim's suit and hair. Bruce grabbed her hand when it looked like Tim was about to pass out if she didn't stop touching him. 

"He looks fine," he told her and she pulled her hand free. 

He was right. They walked on the set to Cat Grant and Lex's smiling faces. He took the seat closer to Lex. He knew his back would block the camera, so he waited until Tim had sat down and didn't look so faint before sitting. 

Lex talked about the progress that LexCorp had made since they had gotten the government contract over two decades ago. He talked about the previous record holders and the happiness that they shared together. It sounded hollow to Bruce. Lex didn't care about happiness, he cared about the money, and the science. 

"So Bruce," Cat said with a smile. "Now that I've got you here, why haven't you settled down with any of your matches yet?" He ran down the list. It had gotten shorter over the years. The twenty-five percent went first, married to a fifty-eight. Thirty was next, she married a sixty-two. It went on and on. The twenty-seven dropped off the list sometime after Bruce had stopped looking, engaged to his seventy-five. 

"I did not have many high matches." He did not have any. "It seemed prudent to wait." He had planned to wait until he hit the mandatory limit, and hope that there wasn't anyone left. Part of him wondered if Selina had been doing the same. But he knew that her sixty-one was out there probably waiting for her to find them. 

"And now?" She smiled, clearly she wanted him to say something damning of the system. 

"I think I made the right choice to wait," he said and looked over at Tim. His eyes were locked on the cufflink on Bruce's sleeve. He looked back to Cat. Her smirk as she looked at Tim made him want to move to block her from him. 

"What about you?" Cat asked. 

Tim startled and looked up. "Huh?" he croaked. Bruce winced. 

"What do you think of your match?" 

"He's nice?" Tim answered. 

Cat laughed, her eyes softening as she looked at him. "You just completed your assessment, correct?" 

Tim nodded and glanced at Lex, then quickly away. 

"Were you happy to get a match so soon?" Cat asked. 

"The match was a surprise, but I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes," Tim said, his eyes narrowing at Bruce as he finished. Only a lifetime of being in front of a camera kept his smile on his face. 

"I think we all are as well," she said and smiled. Tim looked back down at the cufflink. Lex answered a few more questions and then the segment was over. He drew Tim away from Lex by his elbow before he could get Tim to agree to more of these. Tim pulled his arm free once they were off the stage. They walked back toward the green room where Stephanie was waiting. 

"Why don't you drink black coffee?" Tim snapped. 

"What?" 

"You can't even taste the milk. Why do you even bother?" 

"I know it's there though," he answered. 

"That makes no sense," Tim replied and frowned up at him. Stephanie was waiting in the doorway, her eyes flicked between them. Tim grabbed her arm and tugged her down the hall toward the exit. She turned back and waved at him. 

"I'll see you tomorrow, Bruce!" 

He waved back.

---

The apartment was still empty when Stephanie walked him back to his building, not trusting him to walk five blocks on his own. He was glad for it as soon as they walked outside though into the throng of photographers shoving cameras in his face. She managed to pull them out of it and told Tim to keep his eyes forward and not to talk. They followed them for a few minutes but after all of the silence they turned back to try and catch Bruce on the way out. 

He was glad that his parents hadn't come home. He'd just managed to catch them before they hopped on a plane after reading the news and insisted that they should stay in Europe a little longer. His mother was a mess but his father agreed that Tim could handle things on his own which launched them into another fight. Tim pulled off his jacket and tie, tossing them on the back of the couch before he fell on it too. He knew they would be back sooner rather than later and want to stick their noses into every part of this match. His phone rang as if they knew he was dreading it and Tim watched it ring until it went to voicemail. When the screen cleared he opened his phone and stared at the app that one of the ladies from Lexcorp had downloaded for him before the show. 

He pulled out the sticky note that she'd scribbled his credentials on and signed into his Perfect Match account. The app made a little twinkling sound as it loaded his personal profile and Tim blinked in surprise when his own photo greeted him. He wondered who had chosen the picture. It was nice, from after graduation. He was laughing at something stupid that Stephanie had said and he almost looked like he wasn't an awkward eighteen year old. He was almost glad that Bruce had met him before hand so that he wasn't expecting whatever Tim the photo portrayed. 

He scrolled down and saw his basic information. Full name, age, height, that he was a student at Gotham University in the business course. It showed his parents and their Match Score and the Match Score of both his grandparents and then it moved onto a horoscope. Tim had only ever paid attention to his horoscope when Stephanie was reading trashy magazines and making his fill out quizzes with her. It had a list of strengths and weaknesses that weren't his, just a generic list of Cancer preferences. And a list of signs he would be compatible with. And under that were his matches. 

Tim was surprised to see that he had three, seeing as he had been too focused on the ninety-eight percent that was sitting in the top of his list in gold. He scrolled past it, wanting to look at the others first and then instantly regretted it. Sitting at the very bottom of his list was Conner Luthor at a whopping twenty-three percent. All not-blue eyes and smiles like a tease that he would never get to have. He clicked on the picture and it brought up Conner's profile. It looked exactly like Tim except he was an Aries. And under his zodiac portion there was a complete analysis of how barely compatible they were. He wished that he had never gotten matched with him in the first place because reading the list of reasons they shouldn't be together was excruciating. There was also a list of Conner's other matches underneath. He didn't have anything over forty-five, but Tim was the lowest at twenty-three.

He backed out and moved up to the next match. It was a little higher but not but better a thirty-six percent on Jason Todd. The name looked familiar and when he clicked on it he recognized the boy from his English class. He was a Leo, and tall. And Tim might have actually enjoyed reading his profile if it wasn't for the next one looming in the back of his mind. He backed out. But not before he stopped to notice that he was the highest match on Jason's list. 

Then he came to Bruce. 

 

Bruce Thomas Wayne

26 years old. 

Six foot, two inches.

CEO of Wayne Enterprises.

 

Bruce was a Pisces. And apparently that meant he was empathetic and intuitive. Tim wanted to mark that out and replace it with intimidating and scary but he kept going. Bruce had a number of matches, but other than Tim not one of them was above forty percent. The percent in question was a very pretty woman named Selina Kyle. She had a higher match. A sixty-one. All of Bruce's matches were beautiful women and all of them had higher matches of their own. The only other boy on the list was Clark Kent, a twenty-two year old writer in Metropolis, but his account was pending deletion due to a recent engagement to his seventy-five percent match. 

Tim scrolled back up to the top and looked at Bruce's picture. It had been taken from some event because he was standing in front of a trifold that had the company logo on in. He wasn't smiling, but his eyes looked light like they had caught him a little off guard. He stared at Bruce for longer than he had meant to until the app buzzed and alerted him that he had a new message.

 

Message From: Bruce Wayne account # 226189

SEPTEMBER 9th 2019

I put milk in my coffee because it's less boring than black coffee. It's an icebreaker. Gives your date something to ask instead of sitting there awkwardly.  

 

Tim read it twice and dropped his phone in his lap wondering how he had done that. Made himself seem more human with just three sentences. 

-

He was dreading going back to work. He'd taken five days off so that he could focus on school but Friday came around too soon and the message still sat unanswered in his inbox. 

Tim knew that he couldn't ignore it forever. Any match that was over a seventy was required to marry. Sooner or later he would have to talk to Bruce. He would have to marry him. He would have to… his stomach hurt to think about it. He also knew that if he didn't ask him or accept a date from him soon that Lexcorp would do it for them.

But Bruce hadn't sent another message. So Tim focused on school until Saturday came and he met Stephanie out front of the coffee shop. 

The morning rush was the same as it always was, people meeting friends or going shopping and in need of a pick me up. There were a couple of students coming in to study and by the time that noon rolled around, Tim had pretty much given up on the idea that Bruce would he coming in to find him-- until he did. 

He had never seen Bruce out of a suit, but he looked just as much a powerful CEO in his dark jeans and black turtleneck. Tim watched him approach with wide eyes, forgetting completely to try and get Stephanie to switch with him. He didn't look angry. Frustrated and maybe a little flustered, but not mad. 

"Where have you been?" He asked when he reached the counter instead of saying hello. 

Tim blinked. "I started college this week. I took some time off to get settled." 

"I left my number with your friend." They both looked over at Stephanie who busied herself mixing a drink. "And you never messaged me back."

Tim felt himself flush. "I was busy with school. And… I didn't know what to say." 

Bruce's eyes narrowed, but Stephanie placed the coffee he hadn't ordered in front of him and the fire went out in his eyes. "I know this situation isn't ideal. But if we put it off, they'll set things up for us. Is that what you want?" Tim swallowed and shook his head. "Give me your phone." Tim handed his phone over to Bruce and watched as he typed in his number very carefully before he opened the text app and sent himself a message. "I'll pick you up tomorrow at seven."

"I work until eight." 

"Eight then." Bruce amended with a small exhale and pulled out his card for the coffee. 

"What are you doing?" Tim asked. 

He raised an eyebrow, "Paying for my coffee."

Tim shook his head and swatted at his hand. "Put that away."

Bruce rolled his eyes. "I don't take handouts."

"Fine," Tim told him doing a quick calculation and manually typing in a number. "38 cents." Bruce seemed confused and Tim deadpanned. "Special 98% discount." 

And for a second Tim swore he actually saw Bruce almost smile.

-

He let Stephanie pick out his outfit for the next day. He wasn't exactly sure what they would be doing and therefore had no idea what he should wear, but Stephanie had known immediately and pulled it out for him. He took the outfit with him to work and hid it in the breakroom but it still ended up smelling like coffee by the time eight rolled around. 

Tim ducked into the back to change, looking himself over in the rolled jeans, collared shirt, and red sweater that he'd thrown a grey tweed-ish jacket over. His mother would have been so proud. Tim had never had a sense of style and seeing him look smart was one of her favorite things. He pushed the thought aside and let Stephanie rub some kind of product into his hair before he was shooed out front and found Bruce waiting for him. 

He was relieved to see that Stephanie has assumed the right outfit. Bruce was in the dark jeans he'd worn the day before, white button up tucked in and a tan suit jacket rolled up to expose his forearms. Objectively Tim had always known that Bruce was attractive, but there waiting for Tim, with his hands in his pockets--he felt a warm swell in his stomach that ran all the way up to his cheeks. Bruce looked him over, but his expression did nothing to let on what he thought, unlike Tim's that was all over his face.

"Are you ready?" 

"Y-yeah," Tim agreed and looked back at Stephanie who gave him the thumbs up before he walked up to Bruce and they left the shop together. 

People watched them as he walked with Bruce the few blocks to a restaurant downtown. It was the kind of restaurant that his mother would swoon over anytime they passed and tell his father they needed to try it. He never thought that he would be having dinner in a place like that-- but Bruce seemed right at home. They were lead to a quiet corner by a window and Bruce helped Tim out of his jacket before he sat down across from him. They sat quietly looking over the menu until they ordered their drinks. It wasn't until their tea had been brought to them that Tim spoke. 

"You don't drink?" He asked. 

"No," Bruce told him easily. "I had a few too many misadventures in my youth. It's something I prefer not to indulge in now." He said it so casually that it was almost shocking. "And you?"

"I'm eighteen." Tim told him, and then felt bad for sounding so… so. "But I don't think I will. Honestly I don't get why people like it so much? You get dizzy and then you get sick. It's hard enough to walk without adding something else to make it harder, you know?" Something sparked in Bruce's eyes, Tim wasn't sure if it was amusement or confusion but it made him speak. "You have really nice eyes."

Bruce blinked at that. Mouth opened slightly surprised by the statement and Tim's face felt hot. He couldn't stop. "I was thinking about it for a while trying to figure out the right color for them. And I had it all narrowed down to maybe two or three different shades of blue-- but I'm having a hard time remembering what they are now. They are nice though," he finished lamely and pulled at the collar of his shirt, taking a drink of his tea to make himself shut up. 

"You have nice eyes too," Bruce replied. A dusting of blush sat high on Tim's cheeks as he looked up at him. It made his eyes brighter even in the dim light of the restaurant. When Tim gave in and looked back down to the menu before him, Bruce took that time to study him. He looked older. The oversized sweater he'd worn on Cat's show had made him look small, and young. But in this, he could see the man that he'd grow to be. Tim tucked a loose strand of hair behind his ear and looked up. Bruce didn't look away and Tim's eyes darted away when he realised that Bruce had been looking at him. 

"Do you know what you're getting yet?" Tim asked. 

Bruce looked down at the menu. He ordered the same thing every time he came. He set it aside and looked at Tim. "You pick." 

"What?" 

"I'll eat whatever you choose. So what am I eating?" 

Tim stared at him. Then a determined look crossed his face and he looked down at the menu. 

"Do you like seafood?" Tim looked at him and he kept his face blank. 

"So no calamari then," Tim replied with a small smile. He hummed and wondered if he had made a face. "What about tartare ?" Tim asked and made a face. Bruce tried not to react, but from Tim's grin as he looked back down at the menu he knew that he'd failed. "You don't like raw meat?" Tim asked. 

"Humans were given fire for a reason," he answered. 

"So I'm getting the calamari," Tim looked at him, eyes narrowed for a few seconds. "You want the bolognese." His voice lilted at the end like he wanted to ask if he was right, but had held back. He didn't respond and Tim smiled to himself as he looked back down at the menu. 

"Wow, you picked a place with a lot of fish options for someone that doesn't like seafood."

"Who said I didn't like seafood?" he replied. 

"Your face did. But this lamb dish does sound delicious, so maybe you come here for that? Or the pork?" Tim mumbled to himself as he tried to decide. He set the menu down and looked at Bruce. Before he could say anything their waiter returned and Bruce watched with amusement when the waiter barely hid his surprise as Tim ordered for both of them. "So how did I do?" Tim asked. 

"Normally I get the lamb not the pork, but you were right on the first course." Tim smiled. 

"I thought so, but I didn't want to order the same thing in case you didn't like the lamb. I can switch with you." 

"It's fine." He waved him off. "So you're at GU?" 

"Go Knights?" Tim offered with the least enthusiastic cheer. He coughed on his tea and Tim's smile brightened briefly. 

"What are you studying?" 

Tim looked down at the empty place before him where his menu had been. He glanced back up and mumbled, "Business." 

"Do you have Houser?"

Tim looked up in surprise. "Yes."

"Make sure you write down everything on his power points. He pulls his test questions verbatim from them." 

"You went to Gotham?" 

"Yes."

"But you're--you could have gone anywhere." 

"My mom got sick a few weeks before my high school graduation. It didn't feel right leaving Gotham. And our Business department is top 10 in the nation."

"Any other tips?" They talked until their first course came about professors and their habits. He was a little surprised that most of his professors were still there, though it did feel strange when one of the people he had graduated with turned out to be one of Tim's professors. The only advice that had popped up in his head was that he was terrible at beer pong. Tim had laughed at that. 

"So what do you do when you aren't at school or throwing coffee on people?" He offered a lopsided grin. 

"I didn't--" Tim started then stopped and let out a slow breath. "I mostly hang out with Steph. She drags me out with her." Tim fiddled with the edge of his napkin and didn't meet Bruce's eyes. "I like going to museum exhibits. There is one uptown about Doctor Seuss that opened yesterday." Tim glanced up then. He could see how badly he wanted to ask, but couldn't make himself say the words. 

"I don't know much more than Red Fish Blue Fish and Green Eggs and Ham, but we could go." 

"O-okay," Tim said. "I'll send you the hours later." 

"What kind of exhibits have you been to?" 

Tim answered telling him about his favorite, a few that weren't as interesting as he'd expected, then started on the story of the strangest one he gone to. He liked watching Tim talk. His hands moved as he told the story, drawing scenes out with the shapes of his hands. He also lost the nervous energy that has been radiating off of him since he'd picked him up. He finished with a quiet laugh at the comment the man had made and Bruce felt himself smiling at him. Tim looked startled like he had just realized how much he'd said. 

"What about you?" 

"What about me?" he asked back. The server set their second course down and he looked with envy at the lamb on Tim's plate. 

"What do you do when you aren't running your company?" 

He took a moment to think as he cut a bite free. He didn't have much time between work, work dinners, fundraisers, and parties there wasn't a lot of time for him. 

"I read." 

"Really?" Tim seemed pleasantly surprised. "What do you read?" 

"Crime dramas mostly. Some westerns."

"Westerns? Like Louis L'Amour?" 

He nodded and looked down at his plate. "I have his entire-" Tim looked downright gleeful when he looked at him. "What?" 

"My grandfather loved those books." He stared at Tim. And blinked once as he felt the passage of time weigh heavily upon his shoulder. Tim laughed and snorted. He covered his face with a horrified expression. His eyes were huge as he stared at Bruce and he couldn't help himself. He laughed. 

Tim's hands slowly dropped as his horror was replaced by amazement. Bruce's laughter slowed. "No. Don't stop," Tim said in a small voice. He shook himself and looked down at his plate. 

"My grandfather was the one who introduced me to westerns. They were his obsession. He even had this giant black hat." He scoffed, remembering the photos of him standing with the rest of the family in a tux with the hat still firmly on his head. "I wanted to be a cowboy when I was little. Then I saw a horse." 

"Not a fan?" 

"Have you seen a horse? Like up close?" 

Tim shook his head. 

"It's better that way." He shuddered. 

"So what got you from cowboy to CEO?" Tim asked. 

He looked at Tim. He'd been asked variations of that question plenty of times before. He had a bland response ready, but looking at Tim he didn't want to give that. He wanted to give a little of the truth. 

"My dad. He never wanted to run Wayne Enterprises. He always wanted to save people. His dad pushed him into it after he'd matched with my mother. They matched two weeks after my mother's 18th." He looked at Tim. He was watching him with an unreadable expression. "Then when my mom got sick, I watched him sit next to her hospital bed on his laptop, or on the phone. I changed majors and let him retire. They deserve to spend time together."

They had pretty much finished with the main course when Tim put his fork down. Listening to Bruce talk about his parents making his stomach twist in a little knot. "Are you alright?" Bruce asked. 

Tim nodded and waited until he felt a little steadier before he raised his eyes to meet his. "Can I ask you a personal question?"

Bruce raised an eyebrow but looked to actually consider the question. "I don't see why not. We should probably be as open with each other as possible. Seeing as this match is…" he trailed off but he didn't have to finish. There was no way either of them would have a match higher than a ninety-eight. 

"Still, if you don't want to answer, you don't have to," Tim told him and waited for Bruce to nod. The waiter came and cleared their plates while another placed two delicate cups of coffee down in front of them and dusted the crumbs from the table with a little brush. It was ridiculous and Bruce seemed to agree because he was barely holding back his own smile when Tim could make himself look back at him. And looking at Bruce make such a normal gesture made his question feel a lot less heavy. "Your parents." He started when the waiter left. "What is their match percentage?" 

It was a rude question, but Bruce didn't seem to be bothered by it. He easily answered, "They have a 79%."

"And they are happy?" Tim asked. That part seemed to surprise Bruce. "I mean, they are in love… right?"

Bruce's eyes scanned his face before he nodded and said, "Very much so." Tim nodded and fiddled with the cup in front of him until Bruce cut through his thoughts. "Is it alright if I ask why?" 

Tim nodded but didn't look up from the perfect leaf in the foam of his cup. He was pretty sure that he could do that at the coffee shop if he practiced it hard enough, but it would just be covered by a plastic lid. A total waste. "My parents have a high match," Tim explained. "It used to be outrageously high, until now I guess." He half smiled up at Bruce before he went back to staring at the cup. "An 83%. They both had other matches, good ones. My mom had a 75% that she had been seeing for years before my dad aged in and then just, poof. That was it. Higher match. And they hate each other." He almost laughed but Bruce wasn't smiling when he looked back up at him. "I know this is really bad first date talk. At least I think it is, I've never been on one. And I want to believe that this system works, but I have spent my entire life watching how it doesn't?" 

That sat between them for a moment and Tim felt his anxiety rolling back up his spine. He was about to apologize and see what he could save of the light conversion they had going before when Bruce asked, "Is this really your first date?" 

That surprised him. "I, y-yeah," he said with a nervous laugh as the anxiety pushed out of him in a breath. 

"And you let me take you here?" Bruce asked looking almost embarrassed as he looked around at all of the waiters in their suits. "I must seem like a total ass."

Tim actually did laugh then. "Not at all," he assured him. "It definitely beats getting groped in a movie theater." He shrugged and Bruce groaned. Tim bit his lip and before he could freak out, he reached across the table and put his hand over Bruce's. "Thanks." He breathed and smiled at him. Bruce's answering smile did something to his chest.

Chapter Text

Tim thought that he wouldn't see much of Bruce on week days now that he'd switched to working evenings because of school. But he stopped by three times that week on his way home from work, asking Tim how his day had been and accepting the coffee that Tim refused to put any milk in. 

When he stopped by on Friday, Tim was at a table in the corner, his math assignment spread out in front of him with a cup of whatever evil Stephanie thought was important for him to try that day. He looked up with every ring of the little bell over the door feeling like an idiot each time. He knew that he could just text Bruce if he wanted to see him, but they had had such a good date and they had another one planned for Saturday morning. He didn't want to come off as a clingy loser before Bruce got the chance to realize that on his own. He'd pretty much given up on the idea that Bruce would stop by when the bell rang and he was standing in the doorway frowning at the counter when he didn't seem Tim there. Stephanie grinned at Bruce and pointed to the table Tim was sitting at. Tim clambered to look busy doing his homework, his heart racing as the chair in front of him pulled out and Bruce sat across from him, watching him. "Hi."

Tim bit back his smile. "Hi," he replied, a little butterfly in his stomach doing a loop. "What are you up to?" 

Bruce opened his mouth and looked up. He puffed out a laugh when he knew he had been caught and his eyes were bright when he looked back at Tim. "I have some paperwork to do," he said finally. 

"Ah, paperwork." Tim nodded, totally serious and erased the line he had been working on. "Of course."

"And," Bruce continued, "I thought I could look at you from time to time as I do it." Tim bit his lip, face getting hot with the honesty of Bruce's admission. "Is that okay?"

Tim didn't reply. He just pulled his books more toward him to make room and Bruce smiled and pulled out his portfolio before he went to grab his own coffee. 

-

He changed his clothes five times before Bruce came to pick him up. Stephanie had given him instructions, telling him that he needed to accentuate his small frame rather than bulk it up. But after trying for over an hour he just gave up, pulled on his favorite jeans an oversized grey turtleneck. This was fine. He reminded himself that Bruce had to go out with him legally to get through the bumps in his chest. He pulled his shoes on right as his phone buzzed to tell him that Bruce was outside the building, asking if he should come up. Tim looked around his parents apartment thinking about how his room looked like a tornado had just gone through it and shot back that he would be down in a minute. 

Bruce looked amazing. Dark pants and a double sweater combination that looked like it was made for him. Tim was just thinking that maybe he should run back up and change again when Bruce caught sight of him and smiled. Tim forgot to turn back around. He was surprised when he handed him a paper coffee cup from his work and told him that Stephanie made it so he wasn't sure what it was. Tim took a sip and made a face. 

"What is it?" Bruce asked. Tim offered him the cup and he took it after a brief hesitation and took a tentative sip. Tim laughed when his face twisted. "What is it?" He demanded again. 

"No idea." Tim laughed and drank it anyway. If it was possible, Bruce was even more disgusted that he continued to drink it. He berated Tim about his usual coffee choices all the way to the museum. 

It was less crowded than Tim expected on a Saturday morning so they took their time walking through the exhibit. Tim was shocked to find that Bruce hadn't been lying when he said he only knew the two stories, his butler had read him other stories like the Little Prince and Madeline. In French. Which Bruce spoke fluently. It was very difficult for Tim not to stare at him when he slipped into it and recited some passage he'd always liked. He made a mental note to pick up a French course next semester. 

Bruce seemed content enough to let Tim tell him about the stories though. It was extra fun when Bruce started to guess the story first. His version of Horton Hears a Who would be something Tim would pay to see. But they spent a little extra time in the Tuffala trees. "Is it cotton?" Bruce asked reaching up to touch a tuff. 

"Its Tuffala Tuff," Tim told him. When Bruce raised an eyebrow, he shrugged and explained, "You use it too make Tuffala stuff." 

"You've been here too long and now you're rhyming."

"I've just always been good at timing ," Tim teased and Bruce nudged him making him laugh. "You have to rhyme in the land of Seuss! Try it, I promise you'll like it, Bruce ." He grinned wickedly and Bruce gave him a look that Tim was sure he wouldn't ever find a word for. 

Tim spent the rest of the time in the exhibit rhyming. He stumbled a few times and made the same face each time, his nose scrunching as he frowned. It made Bruce smile every time. As they walked out after learning more than he ever thought he'd want to know about Dr. Seuss, he realized that Tim hadn't shied away from eye contact once. He almost commented on it, but caught himself. That would only make it worse. 

"Do you have any plans?" Bruce asked as he checked the time. "We could get lunch?" 

Tim seemed startled and shook his head. "I'm free. I know a place," he offered in a quiet voice. 

"Lead the way." 

 

BW: Can I meet you at 3?

 

SK: Ooh. Date went well then. ;)

SK: 3 is fine. Any later than that and I'm stealing your card and buying the dress myself. 

 

BW: Fine.

 

"Who are you texting?" Tim asked and he slipped his phone back in his pocket. 

"A friend. We have plans this evening." 

"Oh. If you-" 

He took Tim's hand and his mouth snapped shut. "I don't," he answered. "I think that the fox would win." 

Tim looked up at him from where he'd been staring at their hands. "Oh. Ye- wait. No! Cat in the Hat. He'd slaughter them all."

"But the fox has socks."

"And he'd fall! You know what's in that hat right?" 

"Murder tools?" he asked with a laugh. 

Tim held up a finger and paused. "Yes, but also a big brain!" 

"The fox followed that guy everywhere he went with a plate of green breakfast foods. It was like reading a Halloween movie. But instead of death you got eggs." 

Tim blinked at him. "Okay so maybe the fox is a little terrifying. But the Cat would still beat him."

"Because of the socks." 

"Yes!" Tim touched his nose with a big grin. 

They walked to the end of the block and Tim looked up then around. "Oh crap. We passed it." 

Tim tugged him back down the street and into a small hole in the wall. He could smell something roasting and immediately decided he liked it there. Tim dragged him off into a corner booth and slid in. Bruce let him get settled before he sat down. 

A middle aged woman walked out, she looked like she'd walked straight off of the set of grease. 

"Hey honey. What did you learn today?" 

Tim smiled at her. "Dr. Seuss." 

"I could ask Edgar to toss some food coloring in if you want some green eggs and ham," she said with a laugh. Tim waved her off with a laugh. "And who's your friend?" 

"Oh. Uh. This is Bruce?" 

"I'm Gertie. It's nice to finally meet one of Timothy's friends," she said with a smile. 

"It's nice to meet you too," he replied. "Whatever your making back there smells great." 

"What can I get you two to drink?" She asked after thanking him. 

"Just water for me," he answered as Tim chimed "Two Cokes" with a smile. 

Gertie came back with two glass bottles of coke with bendy straws. Tim grinned at him. 

"It's better in the bottle." 

"Gertie!" A gravelly voice shouted from the kitchen. 

"Excuse me for a moment," Gertie said and darted to the back with a yell in response. 

"So you're picking today, right?" Tim asked with a smirk. 

He looked down at the menu and then back at Tim. 

"I know I'm getting whatever smells that good." 

"I think you want…" he trailed off as he looked down. "A plate of spaghetti and meatball." Tim blinked at him. "That's a typo right? One meatball?" 

"Oh no. It's one. We've got the best meatballs in the city," Gertie said. "So your regular then Tim? Extra sauce." Tim nodded and stared at Bruce. 

"Was I right?" He asked with a laugh. 

Tim nodded with a fake angry face. He laughed and told Gertie to give him whatever that smell was. She told him it was the roast before heading back. 

"I was right?" 

"How did you guess that?" Tim asked. 

"I just picked one." 

When she came back he had a plate of roast beef loaded with vegetables. And Tim had probably the biggest meatball he had ever seen, sitting on top of a mound of spaghetti. 

"You can't eat all of that," he said. 

"Watch me," Tim said with a glint in his eyes.

On their walk back Tim grabbed his hand and stared at the ground. Bruce smiled and kept telling the story. After a few minutes Tim glanced up at him and smiled crookedly. 

-

Selina was sitting in his living room with her heels hanging from her hand. She glanced up from her phone. 

"You're late." 

"It's two thirty," he replied. 

"Oh. It is. Well, you're early then." 

"I thought we were going to meet there?" 

"We were, but I was already out when you texted me and I didn't feel like going all the way back home." 

He held the door open and she slid her shoes back on and glided past him. 

"So how was the date with your 98?" 

He had to fight a smile when she rhymed. "It was nice." 

"Nice?" Selina pressed and eyed him. 

"Very nice?" he offered with a raised eyebrow. 

"Bruce." 

"I don't know what you want me to say. I had fun. We talked a lot. Held hands." 

"Scandalous," she gasped. 

"Selina," he warned. 

"Oh I'm teasing you. I think it's sweet. And that boy is lucky he matched with you. I would have ravished him as soon as he told me he'd never been on a date before." He hadn't really thought about that. This could have gone so wrong for Tim. He'd heard of bad matches before, though those had never been high matches. 

Selina dragged him around store to store as they looked for the perfect dress for dinner that evening with the AGC. 

"You know you could have brought your 98. I would pay to see what response she came up with." 

"I wouldn't subject him to Talia," he replied. She met his eyes over her shoulder. "Plus I wouldn't rob you of your fun." 

"She is so fun to rile up." She looked at her reflection. "I think this is the one. It's a perfect amount of slutty and classy." He looked at the dress, it was black and while it reached high around her neck and fell past her knee, it was backless and the skirt split from mid thigh. He shrugged. She pouted at him, but he knew she had made her decision and it didn't matter what he said. 

A camera flash went off as they walked out. Selina barely looked up from her phone to glare at the photographer. He recognized him, he'd been one of the one's outside the studio that yelled questions as he followed him down the street. 

"That's going to be trouble," Selina said once they'd turned the corner and couldn't see the man anymore. 

"You work with me." 

"I'm also your second highest match," she looked over to him. In the heels she was wearing, she was almost his height. 

"It'll be fine," he said. Selina tutted at him and went back to her phone. 

-

Bruce scoffed. He heard the slide of his door across the carpet. Selina walked in. "Guess what I just bought." She set a stack of papers down. It was pictures of them, walking store to store. Nothing looked wrong to him, there were a few where he'd touched her back as she walked through the door he held open for her or he leaned to whisper something about the people standing in front of them, but they were tame, friendly. 

"We should be careful," she said. "I think he knew that he wouldn't get any money from the reputable papers with these, but the next one might be more desperate." 

"What happens if they get published?" He asked. 

"One, no one believes them, but photographers follow you around trying to find better proof. Two, everyone believes them and you have the government breathing down your neck. Three, one person believes them." She looked at him. He knew that she was right. 

His phone chimed. 

"Ooh is that loverboy?"

"No," he replied. 

 

SB: If I were to 'accidentally' stab someone with a coffee stirrer in the eye 50 times would I go to jail?

 

BW: Yes. 

 

SB: Even if I did it 'accidentally'? 

 

BW: Putting quotes around the word accidentally hurts your claim. 

 

SB: Boo! You should come today. Tim's been all mopey.

 

BW: You just want me to bring you McDonald's. 

 

SB: No! I just care about my best friend. 

SB: But I also want McDonald's. Feed me. I'm poor.

 

BW: Fine. But stop giving Tim weird drinks. The last one tasted like playdoh.

 

SB: *Young Frankenstein it's alive gif*

 

"Who is Steph B-rizzle?" Selina asked from behind him. 

"Tim's best friend."

 

SB: Never!!! 

 

"That explains the emojis. You know those are dicks right?" 

"What?" He looked up at her then back down at the emojis following Stephanie's name. "She said she liked purple." 

Selina laughed. "Oh man. I love this girl already." Selina pat the photos. "You pay me to take care of stuff like this. So listen to me when I say that we-" she waved her finger between them "-could be a big problem for you. So go do stuff with your 98 and make sure people see you." 

-

"One large coffee with a quarter teaspoon of milk please." Tim turned around while shaking a tea. 

"Oh I'm sorry sir. We're out of milk today," Tim replied and turned back long enough to pour the tea and hand it to the girl that was waiting. She looked at him then back to Tim then fled.  "I could pretend to put some in it if you'd like?" 

"Where is it?" Stephanie shrieked. "I can smell it." He held the bag out to her. She grabbed it, smiled at him, and ran back into the back. 

"I feel like I just fed a velociraptor." 

"Apt analogy," Tim commented. He slid him over his cup and took the dollar Bruce offered him. Tim handed him two cents back. They'd argued enough about him paying for his coffee that Tim had finally given in and agreed to him paying 98 cents for it, instead of the 38. 

"You look like you're having a good day?" he offered. Maybe Stephanie had been wrong. 

"Oh no. My day sucked." Tim started cleaning the back counter as he talked. "I think I failed a test. I lost my favorite pen. And one of my professors made me talk in front of the class." And yet Tim was smiling when he turned back to him. Bruce was looking at him funny. "What?"

"You're smiling," Bruce told him, his lips peeking up on the side slightly. He leaned on the counter and Tim felt his face heat. 

"No. I'm not," he insisted touching his face. But Bruce was smirking at him now, he totally was. He cleared his throat and moved over to clean the already clean cappuccino machine. "Well, I wasn't until you…just…"

"Until I what?" 

He stared straight at the machine as he said, "I just like seeing you," and wiped at nothing. He kept his eyes forward waiting for Bruce to laugh or ask him to repeat himself but instead he just sighed. 

"Well, I fed the beast and you seem busy. Now I have to get back to work." He pushed off the counter and waved at Tim as he left. It was surprising just how fast his good mood fell when it shut behind him. Tim sighed and walked over to the register ready to mope away the rest of his shift when he noticed a little folded napkin in front of it. He frowned and folded it open and felt like his heart might just beat out of his chest. 

 

I like seeing you too. 

-B

 

-

"He's way too cool for you," Stephanie told him later that evening. She was laying upside down on his couch holding the napkin note in front of her. 

"I know," Tim said miserably. He was sitting on the ground next to her head, leaning back against the couch. "I feel so stupid around him. Like I literally can't think around him half the time. I have a 4.3 GPA and I can't string words together. And he's just so...so--"

"Cool," Stephanie repeated laying the napkin down on her chest. 

"Yeah." Tim sighed. They sat there quietly for a minute before another miserable thought hit him. "Do you think he sees me as a kid?" 

"You did take him to a Dr. Seuss museum." 

His face felt hot. "Everyone loves Dr. Seuss!"

"Well what's the next date?" Stephanie asked ignoring his comment. 

Tim stole the napkin off of her chest and stared at it again, looking at Bruce's neat handwriting making him more excited as he said, "We are going to an Ice Bats game? It's opening night and Bruce has season tickets." He smiled a little remembered him asking after their lunch date. "He seemed really excited about it."

Stephanie rolled her head and stared at him. "You know the least about any sport out of all the people I have ever met," she told him and then she made a face. "Also who the fuck named that team. Were they high?"

"Steph…" he groaned. 

"Look, don't worry about stupid hockey now. What you should be worried about is the big kiss."

His heart dropped like a stone to the bottom of his stomach. "What big kiss?" He asked slowly. 

Stephanie rolled her eyes. "You know. The third date."

"That's a date, not a kiss."

"The first kiss is always in the third date. If you are respectable, that is. It's not like you can't kiss before that if things are going well. But always by if not on the third date."

"Where are all of these rules?" Tim demanded feeling like his face had just come out of a volcano. "And how does everyone know about them except me?"

"This wouldn't be such a big deal if you'd made out with Jen in high school like I told you to."

"Okay well I didn't and now I have to have my first kiss with the most gorgeous man I've ever seen in person."

"And the coolest," Stephanie amended. "Definitely the coolest."

"Steph!"

"It's okay! We have time to prepare for this," she told him and struggled to pull herself up. Tim watched as she rolled pathetically off of the couch and crawled over to the entertainment center. She pulled out a stack of his mom's movies and put them on the table and then jumped up and ran to Tim's bedroom. When she came back she had a teddy bear that he'd stuffed in his closet in her hands and she shoved it into Tim's lap before she pulled out the first disc: Never Been Kissed. "Get ready for your crash course Timbo," she told him and hit play.  

-

He didn't get to see Bruce again until their date on Friday. He didn't own any Ice Bats gear, so Stephanie had told him to go casual and wear a lot of black. He ended up in blue wash jeans, sneakers and a black sweater that he threw a leather sports coat with cloth sleeves over. And overall he actually didn't think he looked that bad. He headed down to the curb when Bruce texted him that he was almost there. A black Bugatti that looked like it had rolled right off the lot stopped in front of him and the door opened to let him in. He just kind of stared at it for a minute, taking in all of its glory before he could actually bring himself to pull the door open wider and get in. 

Bruce on the other hand was all casual. He had on jeans too and an Ice Bats Jersey that fit him way too well. Tim had never seen anyone look that good in any sports paraphernalia. It just wasn't fair. He focused on the car. 

"I feel like just being in this car is diminishing the value," Tim said by way of hello. "I don't want to touch anything, but I also want to touch everything," he said feeling like a total child but he couldn't care right then. 

Bruce beamed at him, like actually gave him a one thousand megawatt no holds bar smile and Tim was so baffled he was afraid he would never be able to speak again. 

"Touch whatever you want," he told him and pulled back into traffic so smoothly that Tim had to stare out the window to make sure they were moving. 

The parking garage was already full when they got there but they let them in without any question and they left the Bugatti in a reserved space before heading to the stadium. The thicker the crowds got the more that people started staring, watching them as they walked by and trying to place them. Bruce grabbed his hand when they got to the doors and Tim let him lead him through security and into the building, winding through people until they stopped in front of a merch stand. 

"Here," Bruce told him pulling a hat of the rack. He put it in Tim's head and smirked. "You can't go to a game without showing your support."

"I've never watched a hockey game before," Tim admitted and grinned when Bruce stared at him. "What? Baseball is our national pastime." 

"But hockey…" Bruce shook his head and let it lie. "You'll see," he promised. And they headed around to the other side of the building. 

Bruce's seats were right on the glass, or boards or whatever Bruce had told him when they walked up to them. It was cold and Tim was kind of confused by all of the rules that Bruce was trying to shove into his brain before the game started, but he liked how his eyes lit up when he talked about the players. And he held his hand the entire time. He stood with everyone else and clapped when the players came out, Bruce pointing out the ones he had mentioned as they whizzed by. A lady came out and sang the national anthem and before Tim even knew what happened the game had started. 

It surprised Tim when Bruce started talking into his ear, explaining things as they happened so that it made more sense. Tim had expected him to be too into the game to pay much attention to him. But Bruce seemed to delight in Tim's questions, and he gave him that crazy beautiful smile when one of the defence players took a bad hit and Tim jumped to his feet. 

He liked hockey. And not just because of Bruce, though he would happily sit there for a hundred hours just to have him talk into his ear. The first period ended with a tying goal that had the whole stadium on their feet. Tim barraged Bruce with questions until they got back to their seats with two obnoxiously large sodas covered in the Ice Bat's faces. The second period was even more tense. Neither team scored the entire time and he was on the edge of his seat when they battled for the puck right in the crease. 

He was exhausted when they went into the second intermission, sinking into his chair next to Bruce who seemed just as on fire. "Okay, I get it," Tim sighed. "Hockey is the superior sport." 

"I'm glad you came to your senses," Bruce said formally and ruined it by slurping his obnoxious soda. Tim grinned at him and turned to watch the highlight real.

The third period started and the battle was crazier than ever. They had to take a break to clean the ice and the jumbotron started scoping the crowd. He looked up when everyone started cheering and noticed that the camera had taken on a heart shape and zooming in on couples. He watched a little family of three as the mother and father both kissed their son's cheeks as he grinned. He watched an older couple, the man had on a big black cowboy hat that he took off before kissing his rosy cheeked wife. He watched two bashful teens that barely made it through a kiss on the cheek without combusting. And then it was his own face on the screen next to Bruce. The Tim on the screen blushed and he looked over to Bruce as he looked over at him. His lips were parted like he wanted to say they didn't have to do it, but his eyes ducked down to Tim's mouth and something warm curled up in Tim's stomach as the crowd cheered them on. He grabbed the front of Bruce's jersey and pulled him down to meet him, standing in his toes to bridge the distance. Bruce was stiff for a second and Tim thought that maybe he hadn't paid close enough attention to Stephanie's class. But the kiss changed before he could finish that thought. Bruce's head tilted slightly and his bottom lip slid perfectly between Tim's. And it was like the warm coil in his stomach had exploded and all that he could hear was the rapid thump of his own heart as Bruce's hand spread up his back holding him closer still. 

The sound of the cheering crowd crashed around him again and one of the guys behind them shook them both by the shoulder pulling him out of it as he yelled what a cute couple they were. Tim let go Bruce's jersey and let out a breathy laugh as he dropped back onto the flat of his feet. Bruce looked just as bewildered as Tim felt but the game resumed and pulled them back in. Tim bit his lip feeling like Stephanie and Drew Barrymore would be proud.

Chapter Text

"If I knew ultimatums worked this well with you I would have used them years ago." Selina walked in with an arm full of papers. She dropped them down on his desk and spread them out, disregarding the work that he already had there. It was the same picture on every paper. Tim's hand gripped in the middle of his jersey, pulling him down. He remembered the blush on his cheeks, but the determination in his eyes as he looked up at him. 

"We already had planned to go to the game," he answered as he pulled the Gazette to him. It was a useless fluff article that talked about them and the match. "I didn't plan this." He tapped the photo. 

"Bruce," he looked up and Selina had a concerned look on her face. "I was joking. I know you. I know this wasn't a PR stunt." He sighed and set the paper down. 

"There are a lot of people claiming it is." He'd spent his entire walk into work reading the comment sections of some of the articles. 

"Well the important people know it wasn't," she said and gathered the papers back into a stack. "I think it's sweet. Was it really cold or were you blushing there a little bit?" She teased as she pointed to the poor color on the newspaper. 

"You're seeing things," he replied and looked back at his screen. 

"This kid has broken you," Selina said with a laugh. "When are you going to let me meet him?" 

"What?" he asked, his voice squeaking. Selina's eyes narrowed immediately. 

"You were going to introduce us right?" she asked. She tapped her nails on his desk as she leaned forward. "Please tell me that you were planning on introducing your best friend-" She touched her palm to her chest. "-to your sweet little 98." 

"Eventually," he admitted. 

"Aka never. Maybe I should just go by the coffee shop one day." 

"Selina," he said and looked at her. "Let me introduce you. He's…" He hesitated. He didn't know how to explain the worry that he had. The dread that filled him any time he pictured Tim and Selina meeting. "He's just getting used to me." 

She held up a paper. "Yeah he is." He sighed and she spun and as she slipped out of his door called back, "I want to meet him, Bruce." 

-

Stephanie took the bag he handed her with less enthusiasm than normal. Tim wouldn't be there for another half hour, but he was already around and didn't feel like going back to the office just to come back. 

"Why do guys suck?" Stephanie asked after the last person left. 

"Because we're all a little stupid. At least that's what I've been told." 

Stephanie looked up at him and her smiled wobbled. Her voice wobbled too as she said, "You're really cool. I didn't get matched with any cool people. My highest match is a douche." 

"Matches aren't everything." 

"Says you. You have a flipping 98. All of mine are in the fifties. All of them." He hadn't met many people who had only mid range matches. Most of the time they had one stand out, then mids. 

"You're only eighteen. You'll get more matches." She scoffed. No teenager ever liked being reminded they were young. Least of all one who was living on their own. "One of my friends got her highest match on her last year." 

"Maybe I would be the cool one then. I bet I'd be like super awesome as an adult. You feel like buying me one of those fancy cars? Which by the way, Tim loved. He talked for an hour about all of the buttons." And like that Stephanie was back to her normal bubbly self and they talked about Tim until he walked in looking tired. He smiled as soon as he saw him though and Bruce felt something weird in his chest. 

"Norm!" Stephanie called. Tim shot her a flat look. "What." She looked at him. "Tim loves Cheers. We spent an entire week watching the entire show." 

" Stephanie loves Cheers and kidnapped Tim and forced him to watch it for an entire week," Tim replied as he walked behind the counter. 

"He stayed after season 2," Stephanie whispered loudly as Tim walked into the back. 

"I was invested!" Tim yelled from the back. 

"My Grandpa loved Cheers," Bruce deadpanned when Tim walked back out. Tim snorted as he started laughing. 

"In front of my salad?" Stephanie said pointing down at her mcnuggets. 

Tim ignored her. "Did she get you your coffee yet?" 

"No, because he doesn't come here for coffee ," Stephanie said with a big smile. 

"Yes he does. It's a coffee shop." 

Stephanie looked at him, then pointed to Tim who was making his coffee and rolled her eyes. "This kid." He stifled a laugh.

"Thanks," he told Tim and took the cup. "So how was your day?" 

"It was," Tim looked up, like he was searching for a word. "It was," he said and nodded with a crooked smile. "I talked to-" Bruce's phone started ringing. He checked the contact. 

"I have to take this. Hold on." Tim nodded and he stepped away as he answered the phone. He stood by the door watching people walk by on the street while the problem was explained. There was a moment before the intern finally asked if he could come into the office. "I'll be right there." 

"I have to go," he told Tim. "I'm sorry I couldn't stay." 

"It's okay," Tim replied. "But take this!" Tim called and shoved a folded piece of paper into his hand. "I'll see you later." He nodded and looked down at the paper. He put it in his pocket and hit dial on his way out. 

It wasn't until he had gotten home a few hours later that he had a chance to look at the page. It was a note. Tim's scratchy handwriting filled half of the page while doodles filled the rest. 

A cartoon bee floated across the top of the page. 

 

B,

As far as sucky days go this one wasn't as sucky as it could have been. There was a doodle of a cartoon vacuum sucking up a sun under that. I tried making a friend today, but I don't think I did it right. He stared at me and walked away. The stick figure looked in shock at the outline of where another stick figure had stood. There is a movie coming out this weekend. I was hoping you'd watch it with me. 

Under it was a man in a big hat riding a horse with the speech bubble shouting "Two if you're coming by car! One if you're not coming." 

 

He smiled and folded the paper back up and set it in the bowl by his keys. 

-

"Sir?" He looked up over his desk at his assistant. "Are you okay?" 

"Why do I not have any pens?" He asked and kept digging through his drawer. He had emptied the top two. 

"I have a pen," she said. He looked at her and she shrunk away. He held his hand out. She darted forward and handed the pen to him. 

"Thank you." 

"Yes sir," she fled and he saw her pick up her phone as soon as she left. 

He stared at the page in front of him. He had almost messaged Tim the night before that of course he'd go to the movie, but had stopped. Tim had written a letter it wouldn't hurt to write one back. Only now that he had committed to it, he couldn't think of how to start. 

"Do you need a vacation?" Selina asked. He knew she'd be coming soon. 

"No."

"Then why are you scaring Emily?" 

"How do you start letters?" 

"What?" 

"Letters. How do you start them?" 

"Who are you- oh." Selina smiled and sat down across from him. "Let's see. My dearest 98, I have missed you like the sun misses the flower. Like the sun misses the flower in the depths of winter-" 

"Isn't that from A Knight's Tale?" he asked. She looked over to him. 

"He won't know that," she replied. 

"This is stupid," he said and set the pen down. 

"Why are you writing him anyway?" she asked. 

"Because he wrote me," he said. 

"That's not stupid! It's sweet." She picked up the pen. "Write that boy the best letter in the history of letters." 

He wrote Tim's name on the top of the page. Then thought of the little bee and stopped. This wasn't him. He'd never- he stopped and looked down at the page. 

 

Tim,

I think this is the first letter that I've ever written someone. Since I don't have many firsts left, this is for you. I'm sorry I didn't get to hear about your day. My own day wasn't much better after I left you. 

Here is also the answer to your question and the first horse that I've ever drawn.

-B 

 

He drew the same picture Tim had drawn, even though his horse wasn't much more than a circle with four legs and a head. The man was holding two lights in his hand. He covered the drawing before Selina could see it and folded the page. 

He stopped by the shop long enough to pick up his coffee and give Tim his letter before retreating. 

---

They exchanged notes a few more times that week. He got cut from his shift in Thursday and since his first big test was coming up he had to leave his note with Stephanie before he ran home. He was elbow deep in calculus notes when she finally texted him. 

 

SB: You should have seen his stupid smile when he saw the little bee on the front of it.

SB: I tried to get a picture. But he caught me.

 

Tim grinned and pulled open Bruce's text thread. It was pretty small, just eachother address and a few 'I'm here's.' He hesitated on writing a message and after a minute he backed out of it all together, setting his phone on his lap. He knew that he was probably being stupid but it felt like if he texted Bruce then the notes would stop-- and the notes were… He looked at the top drawer of his desk where he had been putting the notes, Bruce’s first one at the bottom telling Tim that it was his first. One of his few firsts. It felt important to hold onto that. 

-

He overslept and almost missed his exams, but he made it and managed not to feel completely hopeless since the last test he had thought he failed he had ended up acing. The rest of the day was relatively easy, mostly chapter reviews and one lecture. Tim was actually starting to feel like maybe college wouldn’t be that bad when someone hit his shoulder hard walking by him in the commons. 

He stumbled and fell, scraping his palm as he caught himself on the concrete, the contents of the binder he’d had in his hand scattering around him. His shoulder ached and he scrambled to grab his notes before they flew away, the note he had been writing to Bruce already sliding across the ground. He reached for it and a shoe stomped on it, holding it down until the hand it belonged to pick it up. Tim looked up and a blond boy smirked down at the open letter, making his chest ping in anger. “Hey, give that back,” he said and shoved himself up but the boy just held the letter up higher, his eyes still skimming. And to Tim’s total humiliation he started reading it out loud. 

I don’t know what it is, but there is just something about writing it down, like actually writing that makes it easier to say. ” Tim jumped for the paper, but the boy shoved him back and kept going. “ And I know that I was hesitant when it came to the match, but you’ve made it all so easy, Bruce.” The boy turned his gaze on Tim, his eyes hard and distant. “Yeah, I’m sure it’s so hard to have a sure thing with a goddamn millionaire. He probably thinks it’s really cute, you playing all innocent.” 

Tim’s face was burning red and a small crowd of people had stopped to watch and no one was saying anything. “I don’t even know you. What is your problem?” Tim demanded. 

The boy’s mouth twisted into a grimace. “Does it matter?” He asked crumbling up the note. “Just stay out of my way.” he said, tossing it in the trashcan on his way passed him, shoving Tim into a column. 

He didn’t stop by the coffee shop on the way home, there was nothing to give Stephanie now that his note had been tossed into half of someone’s lunch and he would be seeing Bruce that night anyway. The scrape really wasn’t so bad and it had stopped bleeding before he’d even left school. He held it under cold water, letting the dirt run off of it and looked at himself in the mirror. He looked disheveled. He had gotten too comfortable and let his guard down, but he should have known that this would start happening again eventually. People didn’t change just because they got older. Once a target, always a target. He ran and hand through his hair and shut off the water, patting the cut dry before he went to get changed. 

Once he was dressed he headed to the theater close to the coffee shop. It was a good halfway from Tim’s place and Bruce’s work. Tim felt anxious as he stood in front of the theater waiting. He shoved his hands into his pockets and looked at everyone who walked by waiting for one of them to look at him and decided they wanted to put him down just because. He jumped when Bruce came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder, but relaxed as soon as he realised it was him. “Hey, sorry I’m late.” he said, the smile on his face faltering the longer he took in Tim’s stance. “Are you okay?” 

“Yeah,” Tim agreed easily, smiling a little too widely if Bruce’s face was anything to go off of. He grabbed Bruce’s hand and lead him into the theater. “I heard the movie sucks though, so prepare yourself.” 

They didn’t get to find out if the movie sucked or not. They had barely gotten through the credits when the power flickered out and the screen darkened. There was a murmur through the crowd and a manager came in to let them know that a storm had rolled through and they weren’t sure when the power would be back on. They walked out with the rest of the theater and stood under the awning for a moment watching the rain pour down. “We could go back to my place.” Bruce offered after a beat of silence. “It’s right across the street, and I have a decent movie collection.”

Tim swallowed and tried not to sound as freaked out as he felt. “Okay.” he nodded and left it at that. If he spoke monosyllabically then he had less of a chance of going all squeaky or stuttering. 

Even with the apartment just across the street, they were soaked by the time they made it into the lobby. The doorman nodded at Bruce and smiled when he saw Tim with him. He smiled back, feeling his cheeks burn again, and kept eyes forward when he followed Bruce into the Elevator. He expected him to punch a button but instead he pulled out a key and stuck it in a slot at the top of the control panel. He turned it and the elevator started moving. Bruce looked over at Tim nervously as the elevator slowed and then opened onto the penthouse. Tim swallowed as he followed him out. 

It looked like a magazine spread. Everything tucked away and clean and new and just… perfect. Like it had been untouched. He knew that his mouth was hanging open but Bruce was trying his hardest to look anywhere but Tim. He cleared his throat, “Let’s go find you something dry to change into.” He offered and Tim shook himself, following Bruce through the great space over to a second elevator. It only had two buttons, up and down and it took them up to a second floor that opened directly into the master suite. It was probably as big as the entirety of Tim’s parents' apartment. They walked through the sitting room that had and into a second space that was the actual bedroom. This felt more comfortable. He could see little pieces of Bruce in there, a bookshelf with books that looked like they had actually been opened, little trinkets from places he’d been and an art printed movie poster for True Grit. There were papers on the nightstand and a book laying open face down like he had just barely managed to put it down before going to bed. Tim walked over and picked it up, reading the page he’d left off while Bruce rifled through drawers and disappeared into his closet. 

“Tim?” He looked up from the book and Bruce was looking at him strangely. 

He felt his first real smile all day push at his lips. “I like your room,” he offered and put the book back where he found it. 

The look shifted slightly but Bruce looked more relaxed so he figured it was a good thing. He handed Tim a soft looking tshirt and some lounge pants. “Bathroom is through here," he said nodding to his left. “We can throw your clothes in the dryer while we watch a movie.” 

He took his time changing, running a towel through his wet hair before he came back out. The shirt Bruce had given him was old and fit him almost perfectly, but the best part was that it still smelled a little like Bruce. An almost vanilla spice scent that made Tim smile as he slipped it on. Bruce had changed too while he was in the restroom in black sweats and a dark grey henley. Tim didn’t think it was possible for Bruce to look any better than he did in a suit, but this Bruce, the dressed down one that no one else got to see… Tim’s stomach did a somersault as they headed back to the main level. 

“All the movies are in the cabinet,” Bruce told him as he took Tim’s wet clothes to the laundry closet. “Pick whatever you want.” 

Tim padded over the too clean carpet, surprised at just how soft it was and opened the entertainment center. Bruce had an overwhelming number of movies. He shifted through them feeling almost daunted until he reached the back and turned on Bruce with a grin when he came to join him in the living room. “What is this?” he demanded pointing to the endless stack of Disney movies. 

Bruce’s face went almost completely blank. “My friend… she thinks it’s funny to… Well she bought them all and I couldn’t--” Bruce sighed and shook his head, and for a second Tim could have sworn he was blushing. “I like Disney movies.”

Tim bit at his lip wondering how one person could be so incredibly attractive and completely adorable all at once. “Which one is your favorite?” Tim asked. 

Bruce nodded for him to get up and took his place as Tim sat down on the couch, popping a movie into the player. He sat down right next to Tim, not giving him a second to worry about how close they should be or if he should scoot over as the pop up menu for Tangled started playing. Tim grinned at Bruce and he managed a small smile back before he hit play, throwing his arm over the back of the couch. Tim leaned into him and they stayed like that for a while as they watched Rapunzel sing about her life beginning in contentment. But something about it hit too close to home. And the unwelcome thought of the blond boy from school pushed at the back of his mind. 

“Hey, B?” he said quietly. Almost too quiet. There was a small part of him that hoped that Bruce didn’t notice, but he answered. 

“Yeah?” 

“Does it bother you?” Tim asked and looked up at him. “That I’m a…” he swallowed and rephrased. “That I haven’t... done anything?” 

"At first it did. But now?" He looked over at Tim and smiled. "It's nice to do these things with you. Though there is some pressure to try and make sure that things go right." Tim raised an eyebrow. "I would have preferred our first kiss not to be on the jumbotron. But it's not bad." 

"How would you have had it go?" Tim asked, his voice quiet in that way it got when he was really nervous about hearing the answer. 

"Like this," he said and turned his face. He watched as Tim's eyes closed the closer he got. He could feel the thrum of his heartbeat under his hand. He kissed him, the barest brush of their lips. Tim leaned forward and he kissed him again. However inexperienced he was, Tim was a quick learner. When Bruce leaned back, Tim's eyes opened for a second before pulling him back in and over him as he leaned back against the couch. He braced himself on the arm as they kissed. Tim held on to his neck like he was afraid to touch anywhere else. He moved, pulling Tim with a single hand on his knee. Tim looked up at him from his back, but before he could say anything he was sitting up and kissing him again. He knew that Tim was small. He knew the numbers, knew down to the inch how much taller he was, but laid out beneath him it felt like so much more. Tim's hands moved down his shoulders and Bruce sucked on his lip, encouraging him to keep going. He got a muffled noise and a single hand trailing down his back. 

Tim's face was flushed when he pulled back and he sucked in a few big breaths. 

"That was some first kiss," Tim said, his voice cracking. Bruce laughed and rested his head on Tim's shoulder. "Wonder what the second will be like." 

He turned and kissed his neck. Tim audibly swallowed. "You'll have to wait for the next date," he said and pushed up. Tim frowned and looked like he wanted to do anything but that. 

He looked back to the TV and Flynn was having his breakdown about her hair glowing. 

"Oh. We missed my favorite song," he said. Tim sat up and looked like he wasn't sure if he was supposed to sit next to him still. He motioned him over and pulled him back in. Tim settled as he rewound to the Snuggly Duckling. 

They argued over the best movie and eventually Tim won and they watched Hercules. Selina used to say that she was Meg. 

"Did you look at my profile?" he asked. Tim nodded against his shoulder, and kept humming zero to hero under his breath. "So you saw my other matches?" Tim's humming stopped. 

"Yes," Tim said and glanced up at him. 

"I don't know how to say this," he said and leaned his head back on the couch. Tim sat up and turned. "So my top match the 40%, Selina is-" a thought popped in his head and he scoffed. "Selina is my Steph. I've been putting off introducing the two of you, but I know if I don't soon she's going to take things into her own hands." 

"Do you not want me to meet her?" Tim said. 

"She's a lot," he replied. He looked at Tim, could see the unease and decided not to elaborate. He didn't want Tim doubting himself anymore that he already was, and he worried that meeting Selina would do just that. 

"Like Steph?" Tim said with a crooked smile. 

"In six inch heels," he told him. "And literal claws."

Tim looked at him for a long moment then turned back to the screen. "Steph stabbed me with a fork in the face once. I couldn't imagine Selina being any worse." 

He smiled to himself and let Tim settle back against his side. 

Tim wouldn't let him take him home. He insisted that he could walk, and that it was stupid since he was already home. It took to the front door for him to be convinced and Tim looked up at him, then tugged on his shirt and popped a short kiss on his lips. 

"Goodnight," Tim said and darted out the door. 

He texted Tim goodnight twenty minutes later, when he should have gotten home. It took another three for a smiling emoji to pop up on the screen. 

-

Tim's next letter was mostly a rant about busses and people with stupid hats. He couldn't tell how they were connected, but it was amusing to read. He spent half of his lunch break replying. Emily was watching him from the doorway when he finished. He immediately regretted the lopsided Bee that he'd drawn, but it was in pen and he didn't have time to rewrite the entire thing. 

"Your father is on his way up." 

"What?" he said and looked at his calendar. 

"Kate said she could move to tomorrow, you had an empty spot at 9. Let me know if I need to push the meeting with Knight."

"Bruce!" His dad walked in and Emily slipped past with a fond smile. Everyone loved his dad. He shoved the letter in his desk and moved around to accept the hug. 

"What are you doing down here?" 

"I had lunch with Leslie. Thought I'd stop by and see my son." 

His dad ushered him back to his desk and he sat down. "So how are things?" He answered about WE and all that they were doing, but he knew that wasn't what he was asking. Thomas listened, responded a few times about people he knew, and let Bruce stall. He'd told his parents half an hour before Lex had announced the match. His mother had cried loudly. He had been pretty sure that they were tears of relief. He remembered her crying on his birthday when his list finalized with no high matches, the first Wayne in the history of the system to not have a match above 75. "And your match?" His dad asked when he'd finally run out of things to say. 

"It's going well I think. He's young." 

"Why don't you tell me about him so I can tell your mother? She's been talking about having the two of you over for dinner. I think that some details might delay it for a few weeks." 

Bruce spent the rest of the hour talking about Tim. He didn't even know he had that much to talk about until Emily was knocking on the door telling him that his next meeting was ready in the conference room. His dad hugged him again.  

"Bring him over when you're ready." 

"I will. Tell mom hello for me?" Thomas promised and left.

Chapter Text

Tim blinked. 

He hadn't remembered inviting Bruce over to his parents' apartment. He hadn't remembered letting him in. He wasn’t even sure that Bruce knew what his apartment number was--but there he was, leaning over Tim in his bed like it was something he did every day. Tim swallowed, his eyes wide as he realised he was just in his boxers and Bruce's shirt that he had worn home from their date. He instantly felt embarrassed, but he had been wearing it to bed for the entire week. The smell of him was barely there. Tim thought that he should probably explain that he wasn’t a weirdo. Maybe he could convince Bruce that every other shirt he had was dirty-- but he knew that would just make him look weirder and sadder. 

So instead, he opened his mouth to ask what Bruce was doing there, pulling up on the blankets to cover his already covered self. But Bruce caught them and pulled them back to where they had been resting on his stomach, putting a hand over his mouth to quiet him before he slowly pulled it away and back up to his own face. He held a finger to his lips and looked over to the door that was just barely cracked open. There was a light on just past the hallway and noise coming from the living room. It sounded like his parents talking. But when had they gotten home? 

Tim was so confused, but his heart was beating so hard he thought it might burst from his chest like Alien. Bruce pulled the blankets down further and almost too gracefully to be real he climbed in next to him, rolling so that he was in between Tim’s legs and grinning at him with a secret smile that made him feel wonderfully dirty. And then Bruce kissed him. Hard. No preface of sweetness like they had on their date, easing him in with little encouragements. His tongue pressed into Tim’s mouth with confidence and need and he knew Bruce’s intentions without him having to say a word. 

He felt possessed by it. Almost like he was drowning in the feeling of him, forced out of his body and stepping to the side to watch what was being done to him. That wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to be a part of it. He wanted Bruce to feel as overcome by him as Tim was of him. 

His hands ran up Bruce’s back and back down, pulling his shirt tails out from his jeans so that his hands could grip at the warmth of his skin. It felt like fire in his palm and when Bruce moaned into his mouth, Tim was pretty sure that he had died from how his pulse spiked. But he had made Bruce moan. Tim had done that to him. He wanted to hear it again, to feel the vibration against his tongue. His hands were more confident when they pulled at Bruce’s belt until it was off of him and lost in the blankets next to him. He had to remind himself to stay quiet and bit at his lip when Bruce nuzzled into his neck, nipping at his shoulder before he kissed his way back to his mouth. Tim popped the button on his jeans and pulled at the zipper, pulling his pants down just enough so that they were off his ass and he could see Bruce straining against his underwear. Tim felt his breath catch in his throat as he openly stared down at it, but Bruce didn’t give him time to panic before his lips were back on his and he was grinding into Tim’s lap. 

A noise flew out of him before he could catch it and Bruce’s hand flew up to cover his mouth again, continuing his slow and wonderful assault on his erection. His eyes fluttered shut as he panted into his palm, barely able to get out a muffled, “Bruce!” before he was coming into his waistband--

 

Tim sat up straight in his bed, panting like he had just run a race. Sweat had Bruce’s shirt sticking to his back and his lap was wet from where he had just cum, untouched and dreaming. He gripped at his chest willing his heart to slow down as he focused on breathing until he could make himself get up feeling frustrated as he yanked his sheets off his bed and pulled his clothes off. This was the third time that week that he’d been forced out of bed in the middle of the night by some dream making him cum himself awake. He didn’t know what was wrong with him. It was like he was in middle school all over again and Stephanie had shown him yaoi for the first time. 

He took his sheets and ruined clothes through the still empty apartment to the laundry room. He took a sadly look at Bruce’s shirt as he threw it in with the rest of the things and started the load. He hoped it still smelled like him. It had gone away a little after every wash, but it was still slightly there. Maybe if he would stop being such a weenie he could ask Bruce for a new one, maybe something he’d worn not that long ago. 

His dick twitched at the thought of that and he glared at it, walking back to the hall so that he could shower. He took his time, indulging the fantasy that woke him up, pretending that it was Bruce’s hand on his dick as he panted with his hand braced against the tile. 

It was time for him to get up by the time he got out. He moved the laundry over and set the coffee maker, putting his mug directly under the spout until it was full and he switched it over to the actual pot. He drank it fast and black knowing that he wasn’t going to enjoy it anyway, pulling on a pair of jeans and Bruce’s shirt when he pulled it out of the dryer. It was warm and he pulled the collar up over his nose until he caught the briefest hint of Bruce still lingering there. He smiled and piled his books back into his bag before he pulled on his jacket and filled his thermos with the rest of the coffee, topping it with the ridiculous unicorn creamer that Stephanie had made him get so she could use it one time because it was going to go bad soon. 

He met Stephanie on the corner just down the street that separated their apartments by half. She was grumpier than usual, grabbing his coffee from him as soon as he was close enough and making a face when she drank it. “Why is that so awful?” she demanded. 

“It’s that unicorn creamer you made me buy,” he said taking it back. 

“I would never ," she told him pulling it away before he could drink it again. She dropped it in a trashcan as they walked by and Tim made a disgruntled noise for his lost thermos. “C'mon, we have time to get better coffee.” 

“You just threw my thermos away,” he whined but she refused to listen as she pulled him around the corner into their work. 

He probably shouldn’t have been surprised to see Bruce at the counter. It wasn’t like he only came into the shop to see Tim, he did drink coffee and it was right across the street from his work. Tim hesitated in the doorway but Stephanie pulled his arm and said, “Hey hot stuff!” in a loud and horrible impression of Tim's voice. He put a hand over his face and Bruce turned around but Bruce was smirking at them when Stephanie pulled it away and they walked over to talk to him. Stephanie stepped up to the counter to grab their coffee and Tim stopped in front of Bruce whose eyes drifted down to his shirt. His smile grew. 

“Nice shirt," he muttered just loud enough for Tim to hear. He was standing pretty close, close enough that if Tim were watching them he would assume that they were a couple. He cleared his throat and forced himself to retain eye contact. 

“Thanks,” he said almost completely unapologetically. “I stole it from this guy.” He shrugged casually. 

Bruce was grinning at that. “A guy?” he asked. “Should I be jealous?” 

“Very.” Tim nodded solemnly. “He tried to have his way with me. But don’t worry, the only way he's been having has been in my dre-” Fuck. He stopped clamping his lips together. 

Bruce’s eyebrow quirked up. “Have you been dreaming about me, Mr. Drake?” a thrill went up his spine when Bruce said his last name and he swallowed as his dream from the night before flashed back to him. “Because if you were, I would find that very interesting.”

“Interesting,” Tim repeated, meaning to ask a question but the inflection wasn’t quite there. 

There was a mischievous glint in his eye, it looked exactly like Tim had imagined it when dream Bruce covered his mouth to keep him quiet. “Usually before I sneak into people’s dreams, we have a meeting to discuss the ramifications of the transaction. I’m sure you understand, it just insures that all parties are consensual and that I have full knowledge of what my spectre has done in the event that it happens to be unsatisfactory.”

His face was burning but Tim forced himself to buck up and stand tall as he looked up at Bruce. He was a man of business. He could stand up in front of people and speak his mind. He thought about the moan that he had swallowed in his dream and determination crept up his spine. He could do this. 

“Well Mr. Wayne, seeing as you had not made me aware of this arrangement, the damage has unfortunately already been done.” He hitched his bag further up on his shoulder and weirdly felt more confident. “Perhaps we can reach an arrangement. Schedule a time that we could look over any paperwork regarding such clauses and make adjustments until you feel that we have a fair compromise. Until then, my lips are sealed.” He shrugged and tucked his hands behind his back and for a tiny second he swore that he could see Bruce calculating the fastest way to get into Tim’s pants. 

“Okay, if I ever had any doubt that you two were a 98% match, it’s gone now,” Stephanie said from close enough next to them that Tim jumped slightly. He hadn’t even noticed her and it seemed like Bruce hadn’t either because he actually looked a little embarrassed. She handed Tim his coffee with a look of disgust and looped her arm through his. “I’m taking Timmy to school before your eyes do more inappropriate things to him.” She grinned when Bruce frowned at her. “But you can see him later tonight when you bring me my nugs.” 

“Actually I have to work late tonight,” Bruce said, like he was actually regretting that he couldn’t bring her McDonalds. “I have an important meeting to prep for tomorrow morning.”

“I could stop by," Tim offered before he could think about it. Stephanie looked at him in shock and he forced himself not to look at her or he would take it back. “I don’t work tonight and you are always coming to see me… so I could… if you wanted me to?” he ended lamely. 

Bruce’s eyes were warm when he nodded softly at him. “I would like that very much.”

Stephanie made a barfing sound and pulled Tim out before he could say anything but an okay over his shoulder. “That was seriously disgusting. I think I have a sugar high.” She grunted and rolled her eyes before she fixed him with a naughtly look. “So tell me about this dream.” 

Tim groaned, but knew there was no way out of it. He told her everything.

-

He had mostly lecture classes that day so he was glad that notes kept him too preoccupied to worry about going to see Bruce after school. But between classes he could feel himself starting to dread it, wondering what they would talk about and if he would actually have to tell him about what he had been dreaming or if that was just part of the banter. 

“Do you want to tell him about your dreams?” Stephanie asked when they were in the library on their one free period that actually lined up together. “I mean I think it would be pretty fun to see what his face looked like when you told him-- but if you don’t actually want to tell him then all this worry is for nothing.” 

“I mean, I would want to know.” Tim shrugged. “If Bruce was dreaming about me I would want to know what it was about. But I don’t know. It all just feels so inappropriate!” He groaned feeling frustrated and confused. “I mean yeah, he’s my match. But he’s not even my boyfriend yet. This feels very much like a boyfriend kind of talk.” 

“Well why isn’t he?” 

“What?” Tim asked barely pulling his head out of his hands. 

“Why isn’t Bruce your boyfriend?” Stephanie asked him. “You’re the highest match in like… history. So you are going to have to get married before he turns thirty regardless. And you’ve been seeing each other for just over a month. It feels like it’s time to DTR.” Tim just looked at her blankly to show that he didn’t understand her weird made up terms. She sighed and rolled her eyes at how hopeless he was. “Define The Relationship, Timmers.” 

“But how?” 

“You say, ‘ hey Bruce, how about let’s be boyfriends.’ and he says,” She cleared her throat and fixed Tim with a blank stare making her voice as deep as she could, “‘ Why Timothy, I thought you would never ask.’ Then, you know, suck face.” 

Tim blinked at her until she finished the long drink of her second coffee. “You are the least romantic person on the planet.” 

“Well you are a love-baby,” she chirped him back, “And I am the wise guru who needs to sculpt you.” She waved a hand to stop him for poking back at her. “Anyway, you didn’t seem all bumbly and weird this morning. So whatever you did, just do more of that. He obviously likes it.” She checked her watch and made a face. “I’ve got Calculus,” she sighed and kicked her chair back. “Don’t stress about it. I’ll see you after class," she said and pat his head. 

Tim watched her walk away as he thought about what she’d said. She was right. He hadn’t been so nervous to see Bruce that morning, he’d actually been looking forward to it. It had felt easy and fun to flirt with him… if that was even what he could call the conversation that they’d had-- but that’s what it felt like! He pulled out his laptop and opened a fresh word document looking down at the clock. He had time to do what he needed before his next class. He sat back and started typing. 

-

He stood in front of Wayne Enterprises with a coffee carrier in his hand for a little longer than he needed to. He could feel the guard at the front door staring him down waiting to see if he would drop his bag and leave or something alarming like that. He adjusted his bag just thinking about it, thinking about the document he had printed at school and stuffed into a folder and how embarrassing it would be if anyone other than Bruce read it. He took a deep breath and made his way to the doors, the guard only looking at him a little strangely when he walked past him. 

The lobby was large and full of people walking briskly around like they were late for some unknown thing. Everything was neat and in different shade of white and grey and the people running by him were all dressed in suits and dresses that probably cost more than his college tuition. He pulled his jacket in a little bit feeling self conscious about how he was dressed, but he was already there and if he went home to change he would be back at seven and that felt way too late. So he made himself walk over to the secretary that was at a large round desk in front of the elevators. She was very pretty, in a simple white blouse with her hair pulled into a sleek ponytail as she answered the phones, putting people on hold. 

Tim stood there for a moment waiting for them to stop but when it became apparent that the phones would keep ringing until the way the building fell, he leaned over the counter and did his best to smile at her. 

“Um, hello,” he offered and she pulled her bored eyes up to his. “I’m here to see Bruce Wayne.” 

The woman raised her finally plucked eyebrows skeptical as she answered the phone again. “Thank you for calling Wayne Enterprises. Please hold.” She pressed an already blinking button and looked back at him. 

“Do you have an appointment with Mr. Wayne, sir?” she asked him in an overly polite voice. 

“Uh, no," he admitted feeling like a child. “But he knows I’m stopping by?” 

She pressed her lips together and put another call on hold as she looked down at a large calendar on her desk covered in sticky notes. “What was your name sir?” 

He swallowed wondering if he should have just texted Bruce and had him come meet him in the lobby. “Timothy Drake,” he told her and her eyes flew up to his face as she jumped up out of her chair. 

“Mr. Drake, of course, I am so sorry.” She shook her head looking embarrassed. She took off her headset and set it on the desk, letting the phones ring as she walked around the counter. “If you’ll follow me,” she asked and started walking towards the elevators. He trailed after her, half jogging to keep her pace and stopped next to her at the elevator in the back. She pulled out her ID badge and swiped it over a scanner on the panel where the buttons should be. “I’m sorry again for the confusion Mr. Drake, but I’m sure that you wouldn’t be surprised the amount of people vying for Mr. Wayne’s time.” She smiled more kindly at him as she commiserated. Tim didn’t really know how to tell her that he really didn’t know much about Bruce at all. “I’ll call up to the top floor and let them know you are on your way. And we’ll make sure to get you a badge of your own before you leave today so you can go up without having to stop by reception every time.” 

The doors opened and she ushered him in. Tim barely had time to thank her before they closed. 

It was a very short elevator ride for nearly a hundred floors, completely uninterrupted as he watched the numbers tick by. When the doors opened he was startled by just how different the top floor was from the lobby, all rich dark woods with black staining, though the woman smiling at him in front of the reception desk could have been the twin of the woman downstairs. She didn’t seem to have any questions as to why Tim was there, instead she stepped forward and met him in between the desk and the elevator. 

“Mr. Drake, what a pleasure it is to have you here," she said breezily. It made him uneasy, like he was in the stepford wives. “If you’ll follow me, Mr. Wayne has been looking forward to your visit.” 

He followed her across the floor, past a handful of large offices made mostly of glass with men and women on phones and typing away on computers. There was also a grand looking board room with all the chairs tucked in just waiting to be used. They stopped at the very end of the floor in front of double oak doors, the title, Bruce Wayne. CEO , carved into them and the receptionist knocked lightly before she opened the door and stuck her head in. “Mr. Wayne, I have Timothy Drake here to see you.” He heard a grumble of a response and the woman nodded for him to enter. She closed the door behind him. 

Bruce’s office looked more like a study than anything else. One of the large walls was covered entirely by a bookshelf that had to have a thousand different books in it. There were also trinkets. Little colorful toys he didn’t have a name for, and pictures of his family and a few friends. The other wall had a large hand inked blueprint of Wayne Manor. It was absolutely breathtaking and framed in an ornate deep blue cast that Tim never would have thought Bruce would pick out. The back wall was one huge window looking out over the Gotham skyline and in front of that was a large dark desk spread out with papers and a very stressed looking Bruce behind it. 

He had seemed so pristeen that morning that it was a stark contrast from the man before him. He had taken off his suit jacket and rolled his sleeves, hair falling just slightly out of place and his top button was undone, tie loose. He looked up at Tim and he could see that he was tired. He wondered just how long he had been looking at those papers when he came around the desk to meet him. 

“Hey,” Tim offered meekly and held up the carrier. “I brought the goods.” Bruce let out a hard laugh and took the carrier out of his hands, setting it on the desk behind him so that he could pull him in. He hugged Tim hard, burying his face in Tim’s hair and Tim took a moment to take in the smell of him wondering if it would rub off on him the longer he held on. “Bad day?” Tim asked softly. 

“Just very long,” Bruce assured him when he pulled back, his hand moving up his neck and cheek. “But it’s better now," he told him and leaned in for a kiss. It was nothing like the one in his dream. For one it was much softer, more innocent. And he didn’t feel like his heart was going to break out of his chest. But he could feel some of the tension leaking out of Bruce’s shoulders, down his arms and into his shoes, just far enough away that he could not think about it for a while. And it felt just as good to know that he did that as it did to swallow his pleasure. “How was your day?” Bruce asked when he pulled back looking more like himself. 

“Incredibly boring,” Tim told him promptly. “I should have skipped school and gone home to put on a suit or something. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a building so full of expensive people or things.” 

Bruce grinned at him, it was a smile he only ever really saw when they were alone and knowing that nearly killed him. “I like what you are wearing," he told him simply. “You look soft and comfortable. And seeing you in my shirt is oddly satisfying.” 

Tim flushed with pleasure. “Maybe I’ll steal some more,” he offered coyly. 

“I would like that,” Bruce said through a sigh and then smirked at him, “But first I believe we had a contract to discuss?” 

A nervous knot tied itself in Tim’s stomach and he looked at all the papers still on Bruce’s desk. “We do,” he agreed. “But aren’t you tired of looking at contracts. You’ve been working all day.” 

“I am always ready for your business,” Bruce insisted and stepped back from him. He straightened his back and offered him one of the comfortable blue suede upholstered seats that were in front of his desk. “Please take a seat, Mr. Drake,” he told him, waiting for Tim to oblige him before he walked around his desk and took his own. “So I understand that you have been using my image in a few non-contracted dreams-” 

Tim held up a hand and Bruce raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m afraid that I am not at liberty to discuss that just yet,” he told him trying to look as dignified as he could in an old band shirt and a jean jacket. “There are a few other points that we should go over first.” 

He waited for Bruce to stop him but he waved him onward. “The floor is all yours.” 

Tim cleared his throat. “Right, thanks.” He nodded and reached into his bag, pulling out the folder. “Seeing as these dreams are… of a personal nature,” he cleared his throat again and could see Bruce trying to keep his face blank. “It feels… right to forgo expressing those more intimate details until we are, in fact, in a more… intimate standing.” He pushed the folder across the desk to Bruce who was now watching him very curiously. Tim stayed on the edge of his seat as Bruce leaned back in his, casting one last wary look at Tim before he opened the folder.  His shoulders felt tight as he watched Bruce's eyes skim the papers. It was short and honestly stupid. He regretted it with each second that ticked by but he couldn’t take it back when it was already in his hands. 

He was relieved when Bruce smiled, full on beaming down at the paper before he looked back up at Tim. “You made me a Boyfriend Contract?”

Tim felt hot as he scratched the back of his neck. “Obviously it’s not actually legally binding,” he said as though that weren’t extremely apparent. “But I couldn’t think of a way to ask and I thought it might be funny…” 

“C'mere,” Bruce told him placing the folder on the desk as he pulled open his top drawer. Tim walked around the desk and stood next to him as he signed his name in elegant script. He handed Tim the pen and he hastily scribbled his own and Bruce stood up just looking at it for a second before he put the pen and the contract in his drawer and turned to him. “I’m going to kiss you now,” he told him very seriously. Tim nodded and bounced up onto his toes to meet him part way. 

Bruce’s hands were strong on his back and in his hair, moving Tim exactly where he needed him and against him as the back of his legs hit Bruce’s desk. Tim pulled at Bruce’s belt loops, his hands still feeling fumbly but he knew that he needed him closer and apparently Bruce liked it cause he hummed into his lips. 

And maybe it was the noise or just the vibration of it, but before Tim could think too much about it he pushed Bruce back and into his chair. His bewildered look was almost enough for Tim to apologize but then he realised that this was his boyfriend. Bruce was his and he was Bruce’s, that meant that he didn’t have to apologize for having dirty dreams or wanting to kiss him… right? 

He pushed himself forward climbing into Bruce’s lap before he could change his mind, pushing his fingers into Bruce’s hair and let his tongue lick into his mouth. He felt panicked for a moment, moving too insistently, but Bruce put his hands on Tim’s waist and ran them slowly up the back of his jacket and back down, setting a pace for him to follow. His heart calmed a little as the tempo slowed, but that made the heat between them more intense. He felt like he was on a rollercoaster that was constantly climbing, the only way off to take the plunge. But the climb was really nice. 

He pulled at Bruce’s tie until it came off and he dropped it over the arm of the chair. Bruce thumbed at the skin just under the hem of his shirt. He felt that he might go crazy, but the moment didn’t last. 

One of the doors opened without a knock revealing a gorgeous woman in stilettos and a deep purple pencil cut dress with a pixie haircut. 

“Have you had a chance to go over those statements yet?” She asked and looked up from her phone to see Tim still in Bruce’s lap, his lips too swollen to even attempt to deny what had just transpired. Bruce didn’t let go of his waist as the woman grinned at him like the cheshire cat, green eyes blazing. “You must be Tim," she said delighted. “I’m Selina.” She seemed very happy to see that he recognized her name as she approached and held out her hand. 

“I… it’s nice to meet you,” he told her wondering just how much blood would have to run into his face before the rest of his body withered away into nothing. 

Selina's eyes flicked down and Bruce saw her grin grow sharp. She raised an eyebrow at him, he glared at her. His grip tightened on Tim when he moved like he was going to get out of his lap. He didn't think Tim was aware of how affected he was, or that he was practically sitting on Bruce's erection. 

"I'll bring them down to you in ten minutes." 

"Only ten?" Selina teased. 

"Selina," he growled out. 

She laughed and backed toward the door. "I'm going. Bye Tim." She waved and Tim waved back. He let go of Tim's waist as Selina stepped out. 

Tim turned back and it was in that moment that he looked down. Bruce watched as his face went red. He caught his lips before he could do anything like apologize. He didn't want to hear that. He pulled Tim closer by his hips and Tim swallowed back a whine when he felt Bruce's dick beneath him. 

"This better not be another dream," Tim said as Bruce kissed across his jaw and neck and held on to Tim's hips as he rocked in his lap. He didn't seem so sure of his movements, but didn't stop. 

"Is this what you've been dreaming about?" he asked. 

"Y-yeah," Tim panted when Bruce started moving with him. He popped the button on the front of Tim's pants and felt him jump and gasp. 

"This isn't a dream," he said as he pulled the zipper down. Tim was straining against the fabric of his boxers. There was already a damp spot on them. He rubbed his thumb over it and Tim curled in on himself as he bit his lip. Bruce lifted his head and kissed his lips until Tim's tongue brushed against his. He slid his hand into Tim's boxers and swallowed the noise Tim made. "What do we do in your dream?" he asked as he pumped him slowly. Tim's cheek rested against his as he panted. "Tim," he called. "What do we do?" 

"This," Tim said and let out a whine. "We kiss. You t-touch me." 

He thumbed over the head and kissed Tim. "Nothing more?" he asked. Tim shook his head and his hips jerked. He held him in place as he kept his slow pace. 

"Good," he said, letting his voice drop low as he bit at the red skin on Tim's neck. He quickened his pace and Tim's gasps and noises grew louder. He let his hips go and Tim moved harder chasing his finish. He pulled Tim back and looked him in the eyes. "I want your first to be with me ," he growled. Tim's eyes rolled back and he captured his mouth in a harsh kiss as he came. His hand kept moving through it until Tim groaned. Bruce pulled his hand out of his boxers. Tim's eyes were fluttering shut, not quite back from his bliss, but they widened when Bruce sucked one of his come covered fingers into his mouth. Tim whined, a low noise in the back of his throat. Bruce pulled his finger out and tugged Tim in for a kiss. He pulled his pocket square out of his jacket pocket as Tim broke off their kiss to breathe. It would be ruined, but he didn't care. 

Tim slumped his head against Bruce's shoulder and sighed, "That was better than any dream." Bruce tucked Tim back into his pants and kissed him again. 

The intercom chimed and Tim jumped. 

"Mr. Wayne? Ms. Kyle wanted me to remind you that it's been nine minutes." 

He pushed his hand down on the button. "Thank you Emily." 

"I-I should go?" Tim said as he slid out of Bruce's lap and straightened himself. 

"Stay," he said as he moved the chair up to his desk. He flipped through the last of the statements and signed off on them. "I have to take these down to her." 

"I'll come with you," Tim offered. 

Bruce pulled his jacket off his chair and slid it on as he stood. He buttoned it with a grimace and motioned for Tim to go ahead. Emily was smiling at her email as they walked out of his office. He touched Tim's back to turn him toward the elevator. 

Selina was sitting behind her desk with her feet up on the corner. She was on the phone with someone when they walked in, but smiled and hung up before the door had shut. 

"Hello again," Selina said. 

Bruce dropped the stack of papers on her desk. She grinned up at him. "No need for the grumpy face." Selina turned and asked Tim, "Does he do that to you too?" 

"I don't make a face," he said. 

"I don't know, there is a face happening," Tim said. Bruce looked over to him, surprised by the betrayal. Tim grinned back. 

"Shouldn't you be working?" Selina asked and cocked her head at him. He couldn't even find anything to say. He grumbled to himself and stepped toward the door. Selina's voice cut in, "Why don't you stay here, Tim? Bruce is just going to be reading contracts. It'll be boring. Me and you can chat." Tim looked up at Bruce, and he wanted to tug him along. 

"I'll come get you when I'm done," he offered. Tim gave him a small unsure smile and he looked one more time at Selina who looked like she was up to something before opening the door. 

Tim didn’t like the way that Selina was looking at him, like a tiger waiting to pounce or a cat that liked to play with her food. He wanted more than anything for Bruce to drag him out of her office after him, but he left with a small glance backward frowning when the door shut him out. Tim turned back to Selina, her head propped up on her hands as she examined him. 

“Why don’t you come sit with me, Timothy?” she cooed at him. He swallowed and took a few wobbly steps toward the chair in front of her desk but she tutted at him before he could sit. “Don’t be shy,” she told him, “Bring it over here.” She scooted her chair over to make room at her desk and Tim very reluctantly dragged the chair over to her and sat on the edge of it, hands balled into fists in his lap. 

Selina stared at him some more, not shy in the slightest about her open examination. She even reached out and took his chin in her hands and turned his head. “You are kind of pretty," she told him when her assessment was completed. “Handsome for sure, but also pretty.” She narrowed her eyes like she wasn’t sure how she felt about that. “How old are you?” 

“Eighteen," he answered too quickly. 

Selina smiled and licked her bottom lip like that was a delicious age. “I hope you don’t mind, Timothy. But Bruce is very important to me,” she said turning to open her desk drawer. “I’m sure he has told you about our past?” Tim nodded completely unable to believe that he matched with Bruce when the goddess that was Selina got such a low score. She pushed forward. “Don’t worry, I’m not salty about your match. I just want to make sure that Bruce is taken care of, and that is extremely difficult to do when his perfect match is so…” she frowned slightly as she said, “young.” 

Tim was pretty sure that he should be offended. This woman that he didn’t even know was almost blatantly telling him that she didn’t think that he was a good enough for Bruce. And maybe he wasn’t, but that wasn’t for her to decide for him. She set a manilla folder on her desk and pulled out a few papers, the top one looked like his Match profile. 

“Timothy Jackson Drake," she cited from the top. “Only child of Jack and Janet Drake and heir to Drake Industries that has been in a financial ruin for ages.” Tim felt a little burn of rage ignite in his stomach but Selina just turned the page. “Studying business at Gotham University, on an academic scholarship. Your professors think you are brilliant," she offered to him without really meeting his eyes. “ But fails to excel socially. Which is an important part of business.” She cleared her throat and continued. “Five foot seven, so a little on the short side and… you’re Korean?” She asked like she hadn’t gotten that far. 

“A quarter,” he barely gritted out still trying to figure out how he was supposed to feel about that. 

“No past known relationships, no friends willing to talk about you, couldn’t even get in touch with your parents.” Selina set the papers down and leaned back in her chair as she looked at Tim. “Isn’t that just curious, Timothy?” 

“What’s curious?” He asked her, hands trembling as he bit back on the hurt swelling in his throat. 

A little gleam lit up Selina’s too green eyes, “Curious that an aspiring businessman ends up matched to one of the most successful businessmen in the world," she said it off-handedly like she really did think it was an interesting coincidence, but her face held an accusation. “Curious that the heir to a failed company somehow landed a free ride back to its former glory. And curious that Bruce would get landed with such a talented programmer on an apparent glitch after he had already aged out of the system.” Tim blinked at her. “I forgot to mention I got in touch with your technologies teacher from the academy. He’s very fond of you, seems to think you have a gift when it comes to coding.” 

His mouth felt dry when she finally seemed to be finished with her spiel. He swallowed and sucked in a deep breath through his nose. 

“Are you accusing me of faking the match?” he asked her in a low voice. 

Selina matched it. “I’m not accusing you of anything, Timothy,” she assured him. “I’m only stating the facts that I was very easily able to find doing very little work.” As she said that her eyes lightened, the hardness that had been there just moments before was completely gone and there was a sympathy in her posture that made Tim feel suddenly very fragile. “It is my job to find the things that people will grab onto and exploit and teach Bruce and the other board members how to deal with them. And by the looks of you, kitten, I’m not sure you’re ready for that. And I think it’s very unfair that you have to be.” She grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze and when she smiled it was kind. “C'mon. We are going to bond. And you need a drink.” 

“I’m… uh, only eighteen," he reminded her. 

She laughed and pulled him up, towering over him as she slipped back into her stilettos. “You let me worry about that, kitten,” she said with a wink. He had no choice but to follow after her. 

Selina drove a little black Mini Cooper convertible and she drove it fast, weaving in and out of Gotham traffic like a getaway driver. Tim tried not to wince but he found himself pressing at brakes that weren’t there when she slid to a stop at a light and then trying not to close his eyes when she sped off again. He was relieved when they stopped at the tower in the middle of downtown, throwing her keys to the valet before she positioned Tim in front of the building and took a picture of him awkwardly waving. 

“A little scavenger hunt for Bruce," she told him then tucked her arm into his. “Let’s get that drink.” 

They took an elevator all the way up to the top floor with a couple that were dressed to the nines. Tim felt extremely out of place in Bruce’s System of a Down tshirt and jean jacket. But Selina didn’t let him back out, insisting that he was adorable and you were only as underdressed as you felt. They were shown to a booth at the back, along the window so that they could look down at Gotham as Selina ordered for both of them. And just like she had said, the waiter didn’t ask for his ID or even really look at him, just nodding to Selina and bowing away. 

“So, Tim.” Selina purred when the waiter came back with two sidecars and left them to their own devices. “How does it feel to hit the jackpot?” She asked taking a sip of her drink. 

Tim twirled his in his hands and thought about that. He knew what he should say, that it felt amazing and he was the luckiest guy in the world. And all of that was probably true, but he also felt like if he lied to Selina that she would know, or worse tell Bruce about it. 

“Honestly?” he asked and dared a glance up at her. “Extremely intimidating,” he admitted. “I think Bruce is amazing and the more I get to know him, the more I really like him-- but I can’t help feeling like a bumbling idiot around him. And he’s just so grown up and I’m…” he sighed not bothering to finish, but Selina seemed to understand. “I never considered Bruce as an option. I guess I never really thought about anyone as a real option. And then I ended up with Bruce… I just don’t want to fuck it up.” I don’t want to end up like my parents, he amended silently. 

Selina pushed his drink closer to him and waited for him to press it to his lips. He took a sip and was pleased to see that it was sweeter than he thought it would be, even if it burned on the way down. He took another and Selina seemed appeased. “I remember what it was like to be eighteen. Bruce was only twenty when we matched, and believe it or not he was awkward too. And a little weird. Definitely not at cute as you are.” She grinned devilishly and Tim smiled despite himself. 

“That doesn’t seem possible," he said shaking his head, mind taking him back to how confident he was as he moved against him and making him a little too aware of the cum that was drying in his underwear. 

“He likes you,” Selina told him and took another long draft from her drink. “ Actually likes you. And he doesn’t like most people.” she told him. She seemed so sincere that he wanted to believe her. “Just keep doing whatever you're doing and don’t push yourself. But-” she held up a finger, devious smile back in full form, “Don’t be afraid to let yourself enjoy him.” She winked. “That man was made to be enjoyed."

Tim swallowed and laughed with her if not a little nervously and took another drink of his sidecar. This time the burn made him cough a little and Selina chuckled. 

Bruce found them not long after Tim had finished his first drink, having been bullied into finishing all of it so Selina could make him try something new. He sipped at the second one, an old fashioned, but he didn’t really care for it that much and his head was already a little hazy from the sidecar. Bruce was frowning deeply at Selina when he dropped into the booth next to Tim, handing him the bag that he had left in his office that he tucked onto the other side of him. 

“Really?” Bruce asked her like this was something she did all the time. “I turn in a statement thirty minutes late and you kidnap my boyfriend?” 

“Boyfriend?” she hummed and winked at Tim who bit back on the laugh that the alcohol was trying to push out of him. “You’re boyfriend was a willing participant. We are bonding, Bruce. Do you not what your best friend and your boyfriend to get along?” She demanded defiantly. 

Bruce turned his glare away from her to examine Tim. And he wasn’t sure if the drink was just making him feel weirdly heightened but he swore that he could see his eyes zero in on the flush of his face and his glassy eyes. “Selina…” he started. 

“Don’t," she pouted, “Don’t ruin the fun.” 

“He’s eighteen.” 

“Eighteen year olds drink. Are you going to tell me you didn’t have your first drink until you were twenty one?” She said and there was something in her eye that felt like a story that Bruce clearly didn’t want told. 

“I’m fine.” Tim sighed in content and pushed his old fashioned over to Bruce. “This is gross, but I’m fine.” 

Selina laughed at him. “See? He’s fine," she told Bruce and looked around for the waiter, but the lounge had become more crowded. “I’m going up to the bar. Don’t be pouty when I get back," she he warned Bruce as she got up. 

Tim watched her disappear into the crowd. A few men close by watched her walk away in her tight dress, but other than that no one noticed he and Bruce alone in their booth, tucked into the corner. Bruce looked back to him again, letting out a hard breath. He took a drink of the old fashioned and made a face that Tim wanted a picture of. “Are you really okay?” he asked, “After what happened in my office?” 

He grinned at him and pulled Bruce down so he could kiss him, his tongue running over Bruce’s teeth as he thought about how much better the horrible drink tasted on his tongue. He hummed when Bruce got over the shock of it enough that he could lean more into him. “I’ve been thinking about what happened in your office,” he said very seriously. Bruce frowned at that and Tim smiled, ruining the effect. 

“What were you thinking about, exactly?” he asked, his voice low and smooth and Tim wanted to drink it. 

“You said,” he swallowed, a little of his nerves breaking through the alcohol induced confidence. “You wanted my first time to be with you,” he reminded him. Bruce frowned at him clearly confused but he nodded. “All of my firsts?” He asked a little breathily, looking up at him through his eyelashes. Selina had told them they were his greatest weapon and spent a good half hour teaching him how to wield them. At first it had been weird, her sharing her seduction techniques with him, things she had used on Bruce and what had worked the best over all. But then it was mostly fun and so enlightening. And Tim had to admit that he felt a little powerful at the way Bruce’s lips parted at his words. 

“If you want to give them to me," he muttered back, his tone too serious. 

“You didn’t…” his face felt hot and not from the booze, but he didn’t feel as embarrassed as he knew that he should when he said, “You didn’t get any relief when we were…” he didn’t know how to say it. Humping? Grinding? Were either of those sexy? His hand that had been sitting on Bruce’s knee slid further up his thigh. 

Bruce caught his hand before it could reach him. “You don’t have to do that,” he told him. 

Tim frowned at him. "Do you not want-"

"That's not what I said," he cut him off but his words were soft and Tim could see that was exactly what Bruce wanted. That Bruce wanted him, for whatever reason he could ever want him, and Tim wanted so badly to make him feel the way that he'd made Tim feel not hours ago. 

"My very empty apartment isn't that far from here," Tim told him in what he hoped was a casual voice, but he didn't think that he could pull that off sober. Bruce still didn't look convinced. Tim sighed. "I guess I could just wait until I dream about it," he prompted making Bruce's lips twitch slightly. "Or I could take care of you here," he whispered biting his lip, the thought of it excited him. 

"I don't know…" Bruce said a little gruffly still holding onto his wrist. He liked that he had this kind of effect on him, made him question if his pleasure was worth getting caught for. 

Bruce released his wrist when Selina walked back up to the table, offering Tim a new cocktail that was bright red in a martini glass. It wasn't sweet or bitter instead it was a weird mix of both. He sipped it again and settled that he didn't care for it, but he didn't hate it either. Selina zeroed in on Bruce and they started talking about work and the meeting they had in the morning. Tim was content to listen to them speak, feeling the low rumble of Bruce's voice through his leg where they touched. He placed his hand back on his knee and Bruce laid his arm on the back of the booth along Tim's back. He leaned into him happily and wished that they were back at his place so he could fall asleep like this. 

But thinking of sleep just made him remember his dream. His fingers flexed on Bruce's knee and his hand moved up his thigh again. He expected him to grab his wrist like the last time, maybe ask him what he thought he was doing. But he didn't pause his conversation with Selina, just opened his legs a little wider, inviting Tim further up. 

He worked hard to keep a straight and innocent face as his palm met Bruce's very large and fully erect penis in his slacks. He took a drink of the Manhattan and pressed against him, moving his palm very slowly up and down and then around in slow circles until he felt hot against him. Selina finished her drink and went back to the bar and as soon as she walked off Bruce's mouth was on his, engulfing him and overpowering him and Tim wanted more. 

"Go to the bathroom and wait for me there," Bruce told him very seriously, his eyes dark. 

Tim nodded and stumbled over him pushing his way through the crowd of people toward the back hall by the bar, earning a couple of stares along the way. There were three bathroom doors on either side of the hallway, each of them opening into a private restroom for either sex. He found a door that was unlocked and slid inside feeling his heart beating a mile a minute as he waited for Bruce to come find him. 

It all felt so strange. Just that morning he had been a bumbling mess, he still was, but just having Bruce agree to be his boyfriend had changed something. He wasn't so nervous anymore. He was still completely terrified of doing the wrong thing and humiliating himself. But thinking about doing those things also excited him. 

Maybe it was the dream. Maybe it was the alcohol. Or maybe it was the adrenaline high of doing something dirty in public, but while he paced the bathroom floor he didn't feel that scared at all, just ready to try something new. With Bruce. 

There was a small knock on the door and Tim cracked it open just barely peeking out before Bruce pushed inside and shut it swiftly behind him, hitting the lock on the door. And then Tim was off the floor, pressed into the wall behind him as Bruce ground against him, sucking Tim's bottom lip into his mouth. 

"You are driving me crazy today," he breathed against his lips and bucked against him. Tim barely managed to wrap his legs around him as he moved again. 

"You," he bit his lip as Bruce moved torturously slow, "let me-" He gasped. "Opened your legs."

"How could I deny you?" Bruce asked wistfully soft against his neck and then he was pulling Tim away from the wall. He set him on the marble counter that was next to the sink. It was nearly big enough for him, probably meant for a woman's purse as she washed her hands or freshened up. There had been a bottle of hairspray there and a bottle of unisex perfume that he knocked to the floor where it shattered but neither of them cared enough to stop. Besides the scent was pleasant. 

Tim pulled at Bruce's belt throwing it carelessly away from him and he heard it crash into the trashcan. He tried not to be embarrassed, but his face was flushed anyway. That didn't stop his hands from popping the button on his slacks. The zipper fell open on it's own under the weight of the strain that Bruce's erection had put on it. Tim stared, his mouth feeling dry as he slowly pulled at Bruce underwear until it was resting just under his penis. 

Bruce didn't push him, he stood with his hands on either side of the counter where Tim sat, letting Tim take his time and explore him. Tim bit his lip and ran his hand down it, not sure why he was surprised just how warm it was. He took it in a loose fist and pumped it, Bruce letting out a noise that startled him. He dipped his head down and kissed him. It was hard and wet and demanding. 

"Squeeze tighter," he told him and Tim obliged squeezing as he pumped him again and again until he found a slow rhythm that made Bruce groan and drop his head onto Tim's shoulder. Tim moved faster and Bruce kissed his neck, "just like that baby," he told him and Tim kept moving but it wasn't enough. He wanted Bruce to need him, to moan for him. 

And he had absolutely no idea what he was doing as he slipped off the counter and kneeled in front of him, but he did it anyway, not giving Bruce a minute to breathe as he sucked him into the back of his throat. 

Tim choked and pulled off with a cough. Then a few more as his hand rested on Bruce's thigh. He bit back the amused laugh. "Go slower," he told him. Tim looked up at him, his cheeks pink and his eyes so blue. Had they always been that bright? He took Tim's hand and wrapped it around himself. "Hn." Tim sucked hard on him as his lips slid down to brush against their fingers. Bruce let go and Tim started to move his hand. 

"Use your tongue," he said when Tim had gotten into a rhythm. Tim did, moving it around as he went. Bruce felt him watching him, his eyes closed when he pushed his tongue up under his head. Tim made a small noise and did it again. He sighed and ran his hand through Tim's hair. 

"There." Tim's hand and mouth were moving in perfect sync and he felt himself losing control. His hips rocked forward and Tim let out a startled noise, but he didn't pull away. Bruce joined the rhythm and Tim hummed randomly as his eyes closed. 

He could feel his orgasm coiling in his spine until each slick slide of Tim's tongue or the twisting grip had him grunting and fighting not to tighten his fingers in Tim's hair. 

"Tim," he said and tugged. Tim either ignored him, or didn't hear him. With his last ounce of restraint, he pulled Tim off. Tim's eyes locked on his. 

"I want to. Please?" Tim looked back down and licked around his head. Bruce's hold slacked as he let Tim go. 

He felt Tim swallow around him as he came, then heard the coughs and reached for his dick as he felt Tim pull off. He missed some and Tim made a surprised noise. Bruce's hand was covered when he was done. He leaned against the wall as Tim looked up at him, a small splash had hit his cheek and Bruce's dick twitched. 

"Oh fuck," he mumbled. Tim grabbed his hand and sucked a finger into his mouth and Bruce swore he could go again in that moment. Tim looked at him, a grin in his eyes and Bruce dropped to his knees. He picked Tim up out of the perfume and laid him against the opposite wall in one swift move and pulled his pants down. 

Tim's fingers spasmed in Bruce's hair as he sucked him down. The little noises Tim made had him wishing that he'd done this first. He listened to him cry out and whisper his name like a prayer. He pulled off, his hand pumping as he watched Tim falling apart. He leaned over him and caught his chin before kissing him. Tim moaned into his mouth. As they kissed he could feel his own name on Tim's lips. 

"Are you going to give me this too?" Bruce asked. He kissed Tim's hip and looked up at him. 

"Yes. Yes. Please," Tim cried. 

He swallowed him down and Tim's fingers jerked in his hair as he came for a second time that night. 

-

"Nice hair," Selina said as they got back to the table. Tim touched his hair, then looked up at Bruce and his face went red.

He just smirked at her and touched Tim's hip. Someone bumped into them. He heard Tim's cry of surprise and pushed the guy off of him. When he turned back, he realized that the guy's beer had spilled down Tim's back. The guy didn't look too happy that Bruce had pushed him when he turned around. 

"We should go," Selina said. She took Tim's arm and started walking him away. He glared at the asshole and followed after them. He could see his friends trying to calm him down. 

"Are you okay?" Bruce asked. Tim nodded and pulled his jacket off.

"You can't fight everyone," Selina said. He looked over to her. 

"I wasn't going to," he replied. Tim was looking forlornly at his jacket as he smelled it. 

"You say that, but you know if he'd said anything you would have." 

"And?" 

Selina rolled her eyes. 

"Can you take me home? I don't want to walk smelling like this," Tim asked. Breaking the stalemate between him and Selina. 

"I was planning on it," he said with a hand on Tim's back. 

-

Tim asked him if he wanted to come up with a pout and a bat of his eyes. He had seen that look before. But he still couldn't say no. Tim pulled himself up with his hands on Bruce's neck, his body arched against his front as they kissed while they rode up to Tim's floor. He pushed him back against the wall and leant down to capture his lips in a crushing kiss. The elevator dinged and Tim blinked up at him, eyes dazed. He didn't think it was from alcohol this time. 

Tim grabbed his hand and pulled him down the hall. He fumbled for his keys then held it up to him like it was the sword of destiny. Bruce grinned and kissed him. Tim melted against him for a second before pulling away and tutting at him. 

"That's weird. I know I locked it," Tim said when he put the key in. Bruce pulled him back and pushed the door open. They made it a few steps in before a man walked out of the kitchen. 

"Dad?"

Chapter Text

Tim froze in his place as his father looked between him and Bruce, probably taking in just how completely debauched they both were. Bruce's hair was still wild and Tim's mouth felt hot and swollen. And worse than that he was flushed and reeked of the beer that was spilled down his back and the broken perfume bottle he'd kneeled in. For just a second Tim's stomach dropped thinking that he was about to get the telling off of his life-- then his father reminded Tim that he could have come in getting fucked out of his mind as long as Bruce Wayne was there. 

"Bruce Wayne," his father said with a too cheery smile as he stepped forward to grab Bruce's hand. The same hand he had cum into not an hour before. Bruce had the decency to look ashamed, but Jack Drake didn't notice. Tim's father wasn't a smiley man when he was just with his family, but no one else would know that. He'd always been the life of the party and great at blowing smoke. That's why everyone was so shocked that Drake Industries went bankrupt, Jack was just so likeable. "Couldn't believe the news when Tim told us."

"I didn't," Tim offered but his father ignored him not taking his eyes off of Bruce. 

"Still can't believe it, can we Janet?" He called back to the kitchen where Tim could hear his mother banging around. "Our little Tim is going to be a Wayne!"

"I thought you guys were coming back next week?" Tim asked his father who barely glanced in his direction before pulling Bruce further into the apartment. Tim trailed after them with a heavy sigh, "Did something happen? Or…" he trailed off his eyes going wide when he caught sight of his mother. 

She had always been very beautiful, small and curvy with straight, thick black hair. She had the bluest eyes, eyes that Tim had inherited, though hers gave no doubt of their heritage. Tim had always thought that she could be one of those pretty moms who didn't have to try to be beautiful. Picking Tim up from school in an old sweater and loose jeans, nothing on her face but a smile. But she had been made a Drake. And that meant appearances mattered. She had gotten work done here and there over the years. A boob job. A face lift. And the newest useless beauty modification staring him in the face was her large, very red lips. Tim blinked at his mother as she posed on the counter, little black dress that she probably changed into as soon as the door opened making her look like she'd been out all night instead of on an eleven hour flight. 

"Oh!" She put a delicate hand to her face. "I didn't know we had company. Tim!" She walked over to swat at his arm playfully. "Why didn't you tell us you were bringing a guest home?" She laughed like it was a terribly funny joke and Tim could feel his face turning red. 

"Um… I thought you were coming back next week," he repeated. 

She laughed again and pinched his cheek. "That's our Tim," she told Bruce shaking her head, all the while not looking at her son. "All the brains in the world, but can't keep track of time." She smiled too wide as she squeezed Tim's shoulders, nails digging into him. "Would you like a drink Bruce? We just got back from France and have the most wonderful wine-"

"I… no thank you, Mrs. Drake," he told her, his words were polite but his eyes were hard. 

"Please," his mother laughed, "we are inlaws now. Call me Mom." 

Tim cringed at her words wishing more than anything he could convulse far enough into his embarrassment that he would cease to exist. His parents didn't notice as they laughed jovially, but Bruce did. He cleared his throat. "I really just came up to make sure that Tim got back okay. I apologize for keeping him out so late," he told them a little stiffness to his tone but his father shook it off, patting Bruce's shoulder. 

"No need to apologize," he said good naturedly, a little mischief in his eye, "men will be men after all, am I right."

Bruce stared at his father, face completely unreadable and then he pursed his lips and stepped out of his grip. "Tim?" He asked. And he knew that he was asking him a lot of different things by just saying his name. If he was okay? What was going on? If this was normal? What he wanted him to do? 

Tim sighed and stepped forward to grab his hand. "I'll walk you out," he said regretfully and Bruce went with him easily. 

"Leaving so soon?" His mother asked at the same time that his father said, "You'll have to come for dinner some time next week."

"Sure," Bruce said barely paying attention to them as he followed Tim out the front door. 

The elevator ride back down to the lobby was no where near as sexy or fun as the one going up. Tim stared at the doors feeling heavy knowing that Bruce was watching him. He didn't say anything until the doors opened and they stepped back out. The lobby was almost empty, save for a few people checking the mail and the doorman. None of them paid attention to the couple against leaning against the wall next to the elevator. 

"They are just excited that we matched," Tim said after the silence became dense. "They've always really admired your family. And you're…" He smiled slightly as he looked up at Bruce. He'd meant to tell him how attractive he was but having spent that night figuring out just how beautiful Bruce was he couldn't help himself. "Well, gorgeous." Bruce bit back a smile despite himself. "They'll be more normal...eventually," he told him and Bruce grabbed his hand giving it a squeeze. 

"My dad asked about you last time we talked," Bruce offered taking the tension out of Tim's shoulders. "My mother is dying to meet you. I was hesitant then, but now that you're my boyfriend..." he bumped his arm and Tim grinned. "Maybe you'd like to meet my family."

"When I'm not covered in beer and thoroughly fucked?" He asked.

Bruce chuckled. "When you aren't covered in beer," he amended and leaned down to kiss him. 

They stayed like that for a while until Bruce really did have to leave. And if his parents noticed how ruffled Tim's hair and shirt were when he came back up, they were too busy planning dinner with Bruce to notice. 

-

Bruce walked out to the car. He couldn't shake the strange feeling that he'd gotten. He looked up at the building. Tim had looked resigned when he'd offered to walk him out. Like they were always like that. He frowned and slid into his car. 

 

BW: Send me what you have on Tim's parents.

 

His phone rang before he'd even closed out of his messages. 

"What makes you think I have anything?" Selina asked. He could hear water running in the background. 

"You always have something on everyone," he replied. There was a pause and he started the car. Selina never hid anything, if she found it, she shared it. But for whatever reason she was holding back what she'd found on Tim. He didn't know if he liked what that meant. 

"Come over. I'll give you what I have." 

He turned toward her house. 

Selina answered the door in a fluffy robe that he knew had a hood and cat ears. Her hair was still damp from her shower. She looked him up and down as he stood on her stoop. "You look pitiful," she commented and let him in. 

"What do you have?" he asked, ignoring her comment. 

"Why do you want it?" 

"I met Tim's parents tonight." He could still feel the slime of Jack's voice as he said ' men will be men .' He couldn't have made a worse first impression on them, yet they didn't look like they had cared. He looked over to Selina where she was leaning against her kitchen counter. There were three folders sitting in front of her. She pushed the folder closest to him across the island. He took it and started reading. 

"Their apartment was nicer than mine," he mumbled. He looked up at Selina 

"They'll be out of it before Tim even graduates." 

He kept reading. Selina had their match profiles, he set them beside each other. Tim looked like his mother. This version of her. She was smiling, a little crookedly, at the camera. Her eyes glinted with amusement. She had a long list of interests and plans. She had high matches, all of them above 60. He looked over to Jack's. Jack was frowning, his jaw clenched as he looked just to the right of the camera. Tim had his jawline, but that was it. There was nothing special about Jack Drake's profile. His matches were mediocre, but then there was Janet his 78. Selina pointed to a name, the one just below Jack's. 

"She had been dating her 75 for three years. They were high school sweethearts, then matched high. They were living the dream, then Jack Drake stepped into the picture." 

"Tell me more about him," he said. 

"He barely graduated. I'm sure that his father pulled strings. When he graduated he interned at his father's company. And lived in his shadow pretty comfortably. They had Tim a few years into their marriage. Only child." Selina slid the middle folder over. "Not a happy marriage." He opened the folder and closed it as soon as he saw the first picture. "Jack Drake Senior died before Tim's fifth birthday. And by the end of the year the company is hemorrhaging money and the Drakes' bank account is dwindling." 

"How are they still traveling?" he asked as he saw the bank statements.

"Janet's grandfather died. Left a substantial amount of money to her, but like I said. That will only last them so long." 

He finished the folder, knew the middle was only pictures of infidelity. 

"What is that?" he asked. 

"Bruce," Selina said. He looked at her. 

"What did you do?" 

"I didn't do anything." She put a hand over the folder, but didn't stop him from taking it from her. He could feel her watching him as he read the pages. When he was done he set it down and looked at Selina. 

"It's not true."

"Bruce."

"It's not true!" He snapped and slammed a hand down on the folder. "You do this every time." 

"It's my job," she said, her eyes taking on a hard look to them. "I protect you. Protect your image." 

"This isn't true," he said and shoved the folder at her. "Even if Tim-" he shook his head. "It's impossible. I helped write the security program. Lex doesn't even have access from outside Lex Corp." 

"Unless he had a way inside," Selina said. She opened the middle folder and showed him a single picture of Conner Luthor leaning against a counter smiling as Tim handed him a coffee. He could see that same wide eyed appreciation that Tim had held for Bruce when they had first met. His stomach twisted. "They matched too." 

"Then why not match with him?" Bruce asked. 

"Why match with the son and wait for daddy to retire when you can have your money with a guaranteed payout within two years?"

He looked at the photo, could see Stephanie's ponytail in the background and knew what security camera it had come from. 

"You know it's not true," he said. 

Selina looked at him. She leaned forward and took his hand. "You really like him." He frowned at her. "Tim didn't do it. I showed him the same thing earlier and he looked as panicked as you did when we broke that egg." 

"That egg was-" 

"Expensive, yes. You've told me. Many times." 

"If you know--why show me?" 

"I wanted to see your honest reaction." 

"What?" 

"You react like nothing phases you when the media breaks stories." She put the papers that had slid out of Tim's folder back in and straightened it on the counter. "This phased you."

He stared at the folder as she tapped her nails against them. 

"What's next?" 

"You get Tim away from his parents."

"What?" 

"Have him move in with you, with that feisty blonde, the dorms. Just get him out of their house. Because while I know Tim didn't do any of this." She put a single pointed nail on the other folder. "I have no doubt that those two would sell their son to keep them in the life they've become accustomed to." Selina's voice when haughty at the end. Bruce thought of pleased expressions on their faces when they'd seen him and Janet's smile as she said Tim would be a Wayne . "And I don't think the media will be able to separate the two."

-

Stephanie inhaled the bag of McDonald's he brought her the next day while he drank his coffee. There was a rare line at the counter and he watched Tim. Between every customer Tim would look over to him and smile. 

"You two did it," Stephanie said as she sucked the salt off her fingers. 

"What?" He handed her a napkin that she just looked at, then nodded to Tim. 

"That is some serious ogling you've been doing, but Tim hasn't look flustered at all. Tim, who two months ago threw a coffee at you because your fingers touched."

"Is that why-" 

"You're not denying it, which means it's true." Stephanie grinned at him like she'd discovered some huge secret. She looked over to Tim and her smile faded. Another group of people walked in and she got up. She leaned over the table and Bruce couldn't look away. "He's my best friend. You take care of him, okay?" She held his eyes until he nodded. 

Bruce worked until Tim's shift ended. Tim shifted from foot to foot as he packed up his bag. He tugged him in when they walked out of the shop and kissed his temple. 

"You smell like coffee." 

"Coffee is my natural scent now," Tim replied. "It has fused with my DNA. I will forever reek of burnt bean water." He chuckled. "So what are we doing tonight?" 

"I thought we'd watch a movie?" 

"I need to stop by my house and change. The overwhelming coffee smell you're inhaling is actually an espresso that I spilled." Tim pulled open his hoodie to reveal a stain on his light blue shirt. 

"I can loan you one," he replied. He didn't want to go back to the Drake apartment. He didn't want to think about the folders in Selina's desk or the fake smiling faces. He just wanted to be with Tim. 

"Okay," Tim said a little too eagerly. He tried not to smile, but failed and saw Tim blush as he started talking about the latest thing they were going over in class. They talked for the rest of the walk and the wait at the Thai place. It was nice to talk about the fundamentals again. 

He sent Tim to his room to get changed and went to put the food onto plates. Tim had teased him in the elevator ride that the to go boxes unfolded into plates for a reason, but it felt wrong. When he got back to the living room, Tim was crouched in front of the DVD player in Bruce's college lacrosse shirt. His name and number were on the back. Bruce sat down and stared. The shirt was huge on Tim. He stood and it fell to mid thigh. Tim settled down next to him and took the plate with another teasing jab at how ridiculous it was. He heard the movie start, but between eating and staring at the line of Tim's collarbone he didn't know what it was. Tim finished and put his plate down. He turned to say something, and Bruce kissed him. He could hear the surprise and swallowed Tim's words. He never did figure out what movie they were watching. 

---

He saw Bruce everyday that week. 

It wasn’t uncommon for Bruce to come by when Tim was on shift at the coffee house under the guise of needing to be caffeinated so that they could smile at each other from opposite ends of the room. But that was usually it. They exchanged notes and secret smiles and planned the next date. But it was different now. Bruce wasn’t just coming by the shop, he was waiting for him. Waiting for Tim’s shift to be over so that he could take him to dinner or persuade him back to his apartment. And when Tim wasn’t working, they were texting. Stupid comments about their day. Boring meetings that Bruce was in, and doodles of Tim’s professors as they lectured. Sometimes he would just send Bruce a picture of a bee to let him know he was thinking about him. And then Bruce would invite him to his office after school just so they could study and work in the same place. 

Tim was by so often at that point a few weeks in that he had the main lobby receptionist, Alexandra's, coffee order memorised. She would wave him off every time he brought it in, but always accepted with a silent and desperate air of gratitude as the phones just kept ringing. Emily, Bruce’s assistant wasn’t a coffee person, but she always loved the weird tea mixes that Tim brought her before slipping past the double oak doors that housed his CEO boyfriend. 

And that’s what it was. 

Bruce felt like his boyfriend. Before when they were just dating, Tim could barely contain his anxiety, wearing it on his skin and letting it keep him from being fully present, always second guessing himself. Now he could walk into Bruce’s office and kiss him hello without thinking about it. Even when he was on the phone with whoever from wherever. He just didn’t care. 

But that didn’t stop him from being surprised when he and Stephanie were walking off campus on Thursday. Tim was planning to follow Stephanie to her shift before he eventually went to check in with Bruce-- when he found him waiting at the curb leaning against his Bugatti. Bruce was on the phone, looking every bit the gorgeous billionaire god that he was in dark jeans and a deep blue corded sweater that hung just the right way that you could tell just how beautiful that he was underneath. He had on a pair of Raybans and a small crowd of people was lingering to get a good look at the ridiculous car. Tim wasn’t positive Bruce saw him until he smiled the smile that was made just for him and Tim swore all the girls around them sighed. 

“You better go claim him before someone else does.” Stephanie grinned and pushed him forward to take a few steps out of his shock. Bruce quickly ended his call when Tim managed to get past the group in front of him and greeted Tim with an easy kiss. 

He could feel the envy of everyone behind him and squirmed a little in both discomfort and pride, glad that Bruce was his but not sure he wanted to share that with anyone else. “Shouldn’t you be working?” he asked Bruce by way of saying hello. 

“I took the day off.” He shrugged and opened the door for Tim to climb inside. 

“Are you allowed to do that?” He asked quizzically as he ducked in, trying to get his awe of this new space car out of the way before Bruce walked around the other side chuckling. 

“I was encouraged to," he told him and started up the engine. Tim watched at the crowd outside erupted in excited murmurs before they pulled out. “Not that I can call this much of a day off. But at least I get to spend it with you.” 

“Where are we going?” 

“We are meeting Selina downtown," he told him and the easiness of his expression fell away slightly. “Don’t be mad when we get there.” 

Tim pulled his brows in and stared at Bruce who kept his eyes firmly on the road. “Why would I be mad?” he asked. Bruce didn’t answer so Tim just sat in silence until they pulled up outside of a boutique. Tim had never been to this part of Gotham before. He’d never had a reason too. He had heard his mom talk about it time and time again, all of the cute shops and the society that developed there, just by walking down the street. It was lined with shops and restaurants and booming businesses that had some of the best dressed people Tim had ever seen walking out of them. Bruce gave him a moment to stare, walking around the car and opening the door to help him out before he gave his keys to a valet and tucked his number into his pocket. 

He held Tim’s hand as he walked them a few shops down letting him quietly stew in the overwhelming brightness of it all before they ducked into a store called, ‘ The More You Sew, ’. He probably would have found that funny if he knew why they were there. There was no one in the store other than Selina, a small woman who he assumed was the shop owner by her generally snooty air and sleek black dress, and a boy that looked around his age who looked nervous and eager to please. 

“You’re late,” Selina scolded Bruce. 

“Tim had class,” Bruce reminded her like it was something they had already discussed. He wondered just how often they spoke about him. 

“Late is late," she reminded him unwavering before she grabbed Tim away from him and pulled him into a hug. “Hello again Kitten,” she grinned her cheshire smile before she pushed him forward to meet the scary woman in front of her. “This is Madame Minsk, and she is going to be your new designer.” 

“My what?” he asked turning back to Bruce who offered a wrinkle of his nose in commiseration as the small, yet severe woman walked a circle around him, studying his every angle. 

Selina continued, pulling a tablet out of her bag and scrolling through it, completely unbothered by the examination. “It seems that as the days go by, you, Kitten, are becoming a trending subject with gossip blogs and magazines. And… how do I put this delicately?” she pursed her lips as she looked up at him. “Though, they seem fascinated by your general level headedness-- your style, or lack thereof, is a tad concerning.” 

Tim frowned and looked down at himself. He was in his jean jacket again and a pair of black sweatpants that were frayed at the bottom. He was glad for the jacket at that moment though because there were holes in the sleeves of the old Doors tee that he’d found at a thrift store four years ago. “Oh.” 

“It’s not that I don’t love you and the hobo chic that you have going,” Selina told him, her voice was kind but her face was all business. “But the board and I have had a discussion-” 

“A secret discussion,” Bruce added displeased. 

She continued as though she had not been interrupted, “-and we believe that it might be best to refine your image ever so slightly.” She offered him a reassuring smile and gestured to Madame Minsk again. “Madame Minsk has agreed that a photo of you in her clothes would be a great boost to her line, and would like to be signed as your personal stylist. So today we are going to try a few looks and see where it goes from there. Okay?”

“Okay?” Tim parroted back. 

Selina beamed and clapped her hands together. “Great!” She breathed and then Madame Minsk took over. 

The boy with her was apparently some kind of assistant. Any direction or little wave of her hand that she gave him he ran to do and was back at her side within seconds. She lead the group up the stairs at the back of the shop to a small dressing area where there was an actual pedestal that she instructed Tim to stand on surrounded by a curve of mirrors. Bruce and Selina sat in front of him, Selina looking amused for the both of them as Minsk and the boy spoke quickly and softly to each other and started to pull off Tim’s clothes layer by layer. His jacket was deemed acceptable once properly cut for him and weathered to make it less stiff. Everything else had to go. They stripped him down and Madame Minsk came back with new underwear and some plain white shirts for him, insisting that he had to be redone from head to toe. He stepped into the small dressing room off to the side and changed, red-faced when she had him come out so Selina could approve. He avoided Bruce’s eyes and ran back in as soon as she let him, new outfits in hand. They tried a couple of things before Minsk seemed to settle on a style that she liked, grungy and haphazard-- kind of like how Tim had been when he came in, just better. She threw strange things to him as well. A wide brimmed hat and a couple of brightly colored bright striped rompers that Tim had to admit looked kind of awesome on him. She only seemed satisfied when Tim had more than enough clothes to fill two suitcases, but insisted that he come back in a few weeks for newer items. 

“Don’t we need to pay?” Tim asked when she shooed them out of the shop, Tim in a pair of new black pants, a grey sweater and black leather jacket lain over it. 

Selina didn’t look up from her tablet. “You are about to launch her career," she told him. “That is all the payment she required.” 

They stopped at the valet who took the bags from them to put in the car and then Bruce wrapped his arm over Tim’s shoulder as they followed Selina to their next stop. He could feel people watching them, but for the first time they didn’t throw him looks of confusion or annoyance. Now when they saw him go by under Bruce’s arm they just looked curious. Interested in him, like he had always been there they had just never noticed him before. He had to admit that it felt nice, almost like he belonged there. He tried hard not to feel like a phony and just enjoy spending the day with Bruce as he slipped his hand into his boyfriend’s back pocket. 

The next stop was apparently a beauty salon that was bustling with business already. They sat Tim in a chair immediately and a woman was in front of him pulling at his eyebrows with tweezers as Selina spoke to the hair stylist behind them. Bruce and her had a small argument over changing Tim’s hair and he couldn’t help but smile when Bruce drew the line. He liked Tim’s hair, he wouldn’t see it changed and Selina eventually gave up trying to push him on it. So they plucked his eyebrows and buffed his nails, scrubbing at his feet and his face until he was sure he was as smooth as he was when he was born. Selina had to keep pulling his hands away from his face to Bruce’s amusement when they finally left two hours later and headed towards their last stop. 

“The Wayne Foundation will be throwing a fundraiser next week for the Gotham Museum of Fine Arts. You, kitten, will be expected to accompany Bruce as his date. We are going to take this opportunity to introduce you to Gotham society and hopefully get ahead of whatever the media has been scheming to release any day now.” She opened the door to a suit shop at the end of the street and let them in ahead of her. 

He didn’t bother paying attention to what Selina was saying to the tailor that was there, he knew very little about style and was more than happy for them to direct him. Selina pulled out a few options and Tim tried them on, while Bruce waited out in the shop. Selina didn’t let him see anything until she finally settled on an almost silk suit in blush with a floral design scattered over it. 

Bruce stared when he walked out, like actually stared at him. Like a scene from a movie when the nerd finally takes off their glasses and the jock realises that they were pretty all along. “So?” Selina asked impatiently. “What do you think?” 

“Good,” Bruce barely said sounding a little out of breath and cleared his throat when Tim grinned at him. “Yeah, it’s good. Perfect.” 

“Great!” Selina sighed in content, “Then the rest of the day is yours, my work is done.” She ushered Tim to change and the tailor promised to call the next day when the alterations had been made so that Selina’s assistant could come by and grab it. Selina left them just outside the shop and then it was just him and Bruce walking back down the street looking for once like they actually belonged together. 

“Sorry,” Bruce finally told him when they were waiting for the car. “I tried to sway her against it, but Selina is a force of nature. Just for the record, I have always liked the way you dress.” 

A swell of pleasure ran up his spine but he decided to play put out… which he actually kind of was. He didn’t understand why people pampered themselves like this when it was so exhausting. 

“I’m glad to hear that. I put a lot of effort into my clothes,” he told Bruce very seriously. 

“I don’t know why.” He shrugged without looking down at him. “You look so much better out of them.”

Tim’s face lit up bright red and he pushed Bruce, barely managing to move him which just made him laugh at the attempt. 

There was a picture of them online the next day. It popped up on his web browser without even being prompted. It felt weird seeing him glaring up at Bruce while he grinned down at him captured from across the street. Like they had been intruded on… but it also made him see that Selina had been correct. People were watching him. More so than they had ever been from his own family’s small claim to fame. And what he did and wore wouldn’t just affect him anymore, It would now affect Bruce too.

It was a sobering thought, one that made Tim want to crawl back into bed and stay there. But he had class. So instead he showered and put a drop of whatever he had been given at the salon into his hair before he let it dry and got dressed carefully in high waisted pants, a black knit tee with two stars on the shoulder and a red stripe going around the neck-- and before he could second guess himself he slipped into the tan suede boots that had been pushed on him that had a slight heel too it. 

He stared at himself in the mirror trying to figure out how he felt about his new look. Part of Tim felt that he shouldn’t like it. It was so different from anything that he’d ever done, but also it really wasn’t. The more that he thought about it the more he knew that when he dressed, it was for comfort. Nothing else. Well, he was still comfortable, now he just also looked good . Like actually good. He shook that off and grabbed the leather jacket before he walked out into the living room and into the kitchen where his parents were discussing their day. 

He told them good morning, but they didn’t take much notice of him as he filled a mug with coffee and sugar. He knew that Stephanie would just drag him to the coffee shop on the way so he didn’t pull out a thermos- still he knew that he needed caffeine before he left. So he leaned against the counter and pulled out his phone to scroll through the news again as he drank his coffee. He didn’t realise his mother was staring at him until he was half done and he frowned at her. “Everything okay mom?”

“You look... good,” she said like it was surprising. 

Tim turned to the sink to wash out his mug as he shouldered the snub. “Thanks,” he muttered as he turned back. 

“No really.” She pulled on his father’s arm. “Jack, look at him.” His father looked annoyed when he glanced away from his phone. Then his face slid into a smirk.

“Bout time you started dressing right," he said and looked back at his phone. “You nab a Wayne, you’ve gotta keep him interested.” 

Tim flushed and immediately regretted getting out of bed. “Yeah, okay. I’m going to school,” he told them but neither responded so he marched out the door, throwing his bag over his shoulder.

Any lingering discomfort that he felt from his parents immediately evaporated when Stephanie saw him. She practically ran to him from where they usually met at the end of the block and held Tim out at arm's length so that she could look him over. “Who the fuck are you and what have you done to Tim?” She demanded with a grin. “Holy shit, Timmy! If I had known they were going to Pretty Woman you I would have abandoned my shift to come. You look--”

“Silly?” he offered, sightly flushed at the attention.

“Awesome," she corrected with a little bump  of her hip as she grabbed his hand and wound her arm through his. “Respectable and cool," she continued. “Like my freaking hero.” 

“Shut up,” he told her, smiling despite himself and she pulled him down the street toward the coffee shop. 

-

People stared at him all day. In class and between classes, it was like the news about his match had come out all over again and they couldn’t get enough. He kept his head down and focused on his classes. A few girls offered him compliments throughout the day and when he sat in his English class, Jason was full on staring at him. He looked back to the teacher before Tim could ask him if there was a problem, but when he gathered his books to leave he stopped and turned back to Tim offering a quiet, “You look nice.”

Tim was baffled. He had never actually talked to Jason before. Of course he knew him, he had been sitting next to him for over a month and he was one of his matches, but Jason seemed like the kind of guy who wanted to keep to himself, so Tim was normally all too happy to let him. “Uh, I… thanks.” he stumbled over himself to put his books away seeing as Jason seemed to be waiting for him. 

“Why the sudden change?” He asked as they walked through the glass doors out to the courtyard. “I’d just grown accustomed to the sweat pants.” 

He flushed somehow feeling like admitting a PR specialist had pushed him to step up his game felt pretentious and stupid. “Just felt like it was time to do something different… I still might bring back the sweat pants though. I’m not sure I like the attention.” 

Just as he said that the blond who had crumbled his note to Bruce walked into him, hard enough that he probably would have fallen over if Jason hadn’t caught him. “Nice clothes, cocksucker,” he called over his shoulder making the guy next to him laugh. 

“Fuck off, Machin.” Jason yelled back and helped Tim right up. “You okay?” Tim nodded, still looking after the pair laughing. “Don’t listen to Lonnie, he’s a tool.” Jason looked down at his watch and sighed. “You look great, seriously,” he told him and hurried off as Tim muttered his thanks while watching him go. 

-

He stopped by the coffee shop to grab the usual order before he headed across the street to see Bruce. He had been unusually quiet all day, most of his responses short as he went into meetings, but insisted he still wanted Tim to come by. Alexandra did her usual dance of declining and then guzzling her coffee after a pause to take him in. She buzzed Emily to let him know Tim was on the way up. Emily was at her desk talking and giggling at Bruce whose back was to him. Tim grinned and walked up behind him, ducking under his arm and slipping his hand into his back pocket as he looked up-- 

--Only to see that it was very much not Bruce looking back down at him. He immediately pulled his hand back out and grabbed the coffee carrier with both of his hands so tight that he thought he might break it, hiding his bright red face between the cups. “I am so, so, so, so sorry," he told him sounding choked. “You just… I thought you were my boyfriend… from behind. I… sorry!” 

The man looked like he was unsure of whether or not he should be upset or if he should laugh, or if he should tell Tim to breathe before he passed out. Emily took over to bridge the awkwardness, a look of awe in her eyes. “Thomas, this is Timothy Drake,” she offered kindly, and Tim set the coffee carrier down on the desk. 

A light lit up in the man’s eye and in that second he looked so much like Bruce that Tim wanted to climb into his shirt and stay there for the rest of his life. 

“Tim Drake,” Thomas Wayne said offering his hand to him. “I wish I could say I’ve heard more about you. Bruce seems keen to keep you to himself. Let’s change that soon, shall we?” 

“Yes, sir,” he told him shaking his hand, “Mr. Wayne,” he corrected and his face got redder as he squeaked, “Sorry,” again. Thomas laughed and pat his shoulder before he waved to Emily and took his leave.  They both watched him until the elevator door shut and then Tim looked back at Emily whose eyes were so wide he doubted they would ever close again. “Will you kill me?” he begged her. 

“I can't,” she whispered back. “I already let Mr. Wayne know you are here,” she told him apologetically and bit her lip to keep from laughing as he let out a long sigh of fucks and handed over her tea. 

The walk to Bruce’s office felt like it was in slow motion, each step setting in what he’d just managed to do. He had let himself get too confident. He’d felt too good and made an ass of himself. How on earth was he supposed to act like a normal human being in public when he couldn’t even do it privately?

“Hey,” Bruce said when he opened the door, typing quickly. “Let me just finish this email,” he muttered, his brow furrowed looking beautiful as ever and exactly like his dad. Tim stopped right in front of his desk, face eternally red for the shame he had just put upon himself as he waited for Bruce to be done. He stopped typing and clicked his mouse a few times before he finally looked at Tim and frowned. “What-” he started. 

“I just grabbed your dad's ass,” he blurted. He couldn’t hold it in. He was like a shame fountain. “He was standing at Emily’s desk and I only saw him from the back so I thought it was you and…” he put his face in both of his hands and groaned a groan for the ages. So deep and so pure that he was sure there would be songs in testament to him, the most unfortunate soul to ever live. And Bruce was laughing. Not just chuckling at him, but full on tears in his eyes laughing at the idea of his boyfriend grabbing his father’s ass on accident. “Doooon’t!” he whined at him, but Bruce couldn’t stop. 

“I’m sorry," he said and attempted to catch a breath. “But seriously… Tim…” and he was laughing again. Tim glared at him until Bruce was able to get a hold of himself and he walked around his desk so that he could hold him. “I’m sorry,” he told him again. “But eventually you will see that this is very, very funny.” 

“For now I just want to die," he grumbled into Bruce’s chest. And he chuckled again, squeezing him a little tighter. 

-

Bruce convinced Tim to come back to his apartment with him, promising that he wouldn’t mention the humiliation that he had put upon himself again if he would let Bruce feed him. Dinner turned into them watching The Office when Bruce admitted that he had never seen it and eventually the awkwardness of Michael Scott made Bruce break his promise to tease Tim about it again. Which turned into a very heated discussion about Bruce’s ass that lead to-

Bruce moaned as Tim's mouth sank down on him, taking Bruce all the way to the back of his throat and a little further. He swallowed and Bruce bucked up ever so slightly causing Tim to gag and pull off, a long trail of spit still connecting them. His eyes darkened as he watched Tim and Tim felt his own arousal burn across his stomach as Bruce guided his head back down. 

He was getting better at this. Most every night he had spent with Bruce, which recently was almost every night, ended up with them sprawled across the couch, kissing and teasing each other. But on really good ones they always came back to this. Tim clumsily rubbing at Bruce’s pants until it didn’t feel so clumsy anymore or Bruce losing himself in the feeling of Tim and taking over. Tim liked the feeling. He liked the power that it gave him. Having so little in everything else, the thrill of providing Bruce with pleasure was almost enough to get him off without being touched at all. But Bruce was just so beautiful. Everything about him exuded sex to the point where Tim could not deny Selina’s words. Bruce was made to be enjoyed. And Tim was going to learn how to enjoy him properly. 

He took him in deeper this time, grabbing at Bruce’s hips to push further, the lack of air oddly helping him to relax and open up. “Tim… fuck.” Bruce muttered, his hand on the back of his head holding Tim down for just the smallest moment, testing him before letting Tim pull off again. 

This time he didn’t let Tim go back down, but caught him in a kiss before he could even get a full breath. He was seeing black spots and fireworks and glorious stars when Bruce pulled Tim into his lap so easily that it sent a wave up his spine and Bruce drank in his moan. He pulled Tim out of his pants confidently, not a second's hesitation. Bruce knew exactly what he was doing and Tim pulled back to watch him. He watched, mouth agape as Bruce took both of them in one hand, his dick still hot and slick from Tim’s spit and gave a slow hard pull. Tim gasped and fell forward, catching himself on Bruce’s shoulders. Bruce’s free hand grabbed at his back and pulled him closer, guiding the way Tim was involuntarily rocking his hips into his fist. Against him and surrounded by him Tim thought that he might go crazy, his spit giving him friction enough that the slide made Bruce gasp out too. 

“Keep doing that,” he begged of Tim and fell back against the couch again, letting Tim lean over him, grinding into where he surrounded them. 

Tim could feel the heat of his orgasm start to pull from the back of his head, moving up his neck and around his ears until he rasped out, “B… B… I’m…” and Bruce yanked him down into a kiss as he came across Bruce’s chest, Bruce not far after him. 

They stayed like that for a moment, Tim with his eyes closed as he lost himself to the feel of Bruce’s tongue against his, completely blissed out. He didn’t know how he had ever gone without this feeling and he couldn’t help but wonder if this is how sex felt with anyone or if this was only a feeling that he could get here- in Bruce’s arms. Bruce let him go and sat up, helping Tim out of his lap. He got up and trailed off toward his bedroom to grab a towel to clean up. 

Tim sat back on the couch not really taking much in until he saw the clock on the cable box. It was almost two in the morning. “Why are you frowning?” Bruce asked when he got back and Tim was straightening himself back up. 

“I have to head home,” he sighed unhappily as he stood up and tucked his shirt back in. 

“You should stay,” Bruce insisted. He had insisted every night, no matter the time that Tim left, that he should stay over at his place. With him. In his bed. Together. And every time, Tim insisted it wasn’t a good idea. 

“If I get home tomorrow morning, my parents will want to know where I’ve been.” 

Bruce made a face. “Tell them you were at Stephanie's.” 

“B…” 

“Why don't you want to stay?” he asked a little softer, stepping closer, catching Tim at his waist and holding him against him. Tim bit at his lip but Bruce just brushed the hair out of his face and urged him on. “You can tell me.” 

“It’s stupid…” Tim muttered. 

“Tell me,” Bruce said again softer still. 

Tim was tempted to lean his head into Bruce’s chest and just tell him he would stay to avoid further embarrassment that day-- but he didn’t. He made himself keep eye contact with Bruce as he sighed and said, “I just don’t want to go too fast.” Bruce looked confused and maybe a little amazed seeing as just a minute before Tim had been fucking his hand and rubbing against his dick on the couch. His face turned a little red but he shook it off. “Like, I know we are having sex and I like that. I want to keep doing that, but… staying over and, like, sharing a bed together, that is real intimacy. And I want that with you, but I want it at the right time.” He pulled his brows in and pressed his lips together. “Does that even make sense?” 

Bruce kissed him instead of answering. It was soft and warm and genuine making Tim instantly regret his decision to leave. He let out a long sigh when Bruce pulled back from him, a little spark of humor in the man’s eyes as he asked, “Is grabbing my dad’s ass not intimate enough?” 

Tim groaned in frustration and shoved him back as he grabbed his jacket on the way to the door. “I think I actually hate you.” But he didn’t. Not even a little bit did he hate Bruce. In fact, Tim was almost positive that what he felt for Bruce Wayne was the exact opposite of hate. But even with that weighing in his chest, he managed to let the door shut behind him and headed back down to the lobby

Chapter Text

"That's an empty bed," Selina said as soon as he answered the video chat. 

"It is," he replied and rubbed his face. He shifted the laptop off his lap. He'd been trying to get some work done before heading in, but that wasn't going to happen. 

"Why am I not seeing Tim's adorable bed head?" 

"He went home." Bruce set his laptop on his bed and walked around the room getting ready for the day. 

"Why didn't you stop him?" 

"What do you want me to do? Tie him up?" 

"I think Tim would be open to that with the right persuasion," Selina purred with a grin when he looked back at her. He rolled his eyes and she laughed. "You have the dinner with them tomorrow?" 

"Yeah," he grumbled and changed shirts. "Tim's oddly calm about it." 

"You look nervous," Selina said. "Silver," she said as he debated ties. 

"I've never had dinner with anyone's parents before. Our first meeting didn't go the way I would have planned it. I want this to go well. Even if I also want to shake them and ask them what's wrong with them." 

Selina was looking down at her phone when he got back to his laptop fully dressed. "Emily told me that Tim had an interesting encounter with Thomas."

Bruce chuckled, thinking about Tim's expression when he'd told him. "Continuing the trend. I think that my parents are somehow arranging these things. They've caught and met my girlfriends while we were making out, in the middle of a fight over cheating, skinny dipping-" 

"I still can't look at pool floaties without laughing," Selina said. "And they met your boyfriend while you were in the middle of-" she stuck her finger through the ring of her other hand and whistled. 

"Ugh. I had repressed that. I can still hear my mom's scream echoing in my ears." 

"I don't blame her. I'd scream too if I walked in on my only son getting," she clapped her hands and grunted. 

"You have such a way with words this morning," he said flatly.

"Did you tell Tim about that?" 

"No," he sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Please don't."

She was already typing on her phone. "You're going to be late," Selina commented. She smiled and ended the call. 

-

Tim and Stephanie were debating strategies to win an octopus plush from one of the cranes at the movie theater. They'd already spent $20 on their attempts. Stephanie tried one more time and rested her head against the glass as it's legs slipped free from the claw. She looked pitiful. Tim swiped the card again and Bruce stepped up. 

"Hold my icee." 

Tim took his icee and Stephanie brightened as he maneuvered the claw over the octopus. He picked it up, something the other two hadn't been able to do. Stephanie ran in place as the crane moved over to the drop zone. It shuddered as another kid hit the cranes and they all rocked. The octopus fell and landed on the edge of the glass. He stared at it as Stephanie and Tim turned to glare at the group of kids who had ruined everything. 

They had spent another $20 before Tim managed to get the damn thing out. 

"My life is complete," Stephanie said with a sigh. She had her arm wrapped around Tim's arm while she hugged the plush with the other. 

"We could have bought five of those for the amount we spent," Tim mumbled. 

"But we earned that," Bruce said and squeezed Tim's hand. 

"Exactly. Bruce gets it." Stephanie grinned at him. "What should I name it?" 

"Ollie," Tim offered. 

"Udon," Stephanie said and wiggled the plushes legs. 

"Edmund," he told her. 

Tim laughed and looked up at him before repeating the name. 

"It looks like an Edmund," he told Tim with a shrug. 

"I love it. Edmund it is!" Stephanie took a selfie with all three of them and Edmund. "Don't let Bruce name your kids, Tim. No child deserves to walk around with a name like Herbert." 

"I prefer Edgar," he replied in a superior tone that had Stephanie giggling. "Or Persimmon if it's a girl." 

"Like the fruit?" Stephanie asked with a disgusted look. 

"You wanted to name Edmund- Udon," Bruce replied with a scoff. 

"Edmund is a stuffed octopus. You can't name your child after fruit!" 

"Watch me. Meet my daughters Clementine and Olive and my sons Quince and Jackfruit." 

"Jackfruit?" Stephanie laughed. "Does he go by Jack?" 

"No. Jackfruit. Only Jackfruit." He kept his face blank as he answered her. 

Bruce realized Tim had been quiet and glanced at him as Stephanie continued laughing as she added vegetables as their middle names. Tim was smiling, but he didn't look like he was actually paying attention. He squeezed his hand and Tim's eyes darted to him looking a little panicked. He smiled brighter, but it only emphasized the panic in his eyes. 

When they dropped Stephanie off he drove a few blocks before pulling over. Tim still looked stressed. 

"Are you okay?" Bruce asked as he put the car in park. 

"Yeah, I'm fine." 

"You don't look fine," he told him and rubbed his hand. 

"You want kids?" Tim blurted, eyes meeting his. 

"Eventually, yes." Tim stared at him. "I've always wanted kids. Do you not-" 

"No I do!" Tim's eyes dropped to his lap. "But like later. Way later. I still don't really know how to take care of myself. And I want to be a great dad. Not like my-" Tim swallowed and looked up at Bruce. 

"That's fine," he said. "I'm in no hurry." He pulled Tim's hand up and kissed it. "Plus I like having you to myself."

"You do?" Tim asked with a grin. Bruce unclicked Tim's seat belt and crooked his finger. 

Tim giggled as the horn went off, and Bruce failed again at convincing Tim to stay over. 

-

Tim was waiting for him in the lobby when he got to the Drakes' building. He was in one of his new suits. Bruce put his hands in his pocket to keep from touching him as they rode up the elevator. Tim closed the doors of the elevator as soon as they opened on the correct floor. He looked at him, but Tim was staring at the door. 

"I'm sorry in advance for whatever they say," Tim mumbled. He turned and looked up at Bruce. He tilted his jaw up and kissed him. 

"You don't have anything to be sorry for. I'm only here for you." 

Tim nodded and let the doors open. 

Janet asked him four times if he wanted a drink, but he shook her off each time. Jack asked him about Wayne Enterprises. Then asked for more information on things that Bruce couldn't talk about. They made comments that had Bruce looking over to Tim. Tim who was quiet throughout and only spoke when he was asked a direct question. It reminded him of the time they had first met, but worse. They were guided to a large dining room. It was ornate, and clearly meant for entertaining. He complimented them on the decor, an art piece he recognized from a show a few years ago and an antique tea set that was clearly meant to be a conversation starter because Janet went on a long spiel about it as soon as he mentioned it. 

The first two courses were spent in polite conversation. He managed to get Tim to talk more, though his parents didn't seem interested in what he had to say. Bruce could feel his temper building with each second spent in their presence. But if anyone asked him why he was angry he wouldn't have been able to point at an exact reason. 

"So when are you two getting married?" Janet asked when their entrees were set out. He didn't know why they were spending money on servers for the four of them. 

Tim coughed and Bruce pat his back before smiling at Janet. "We haven't talked about that yet. It's only been a few months since we matched. We're still getting to know each other." 

"You have a 98% match. What more do you need to know?" Jack asked. Janet looked at her husband and he saw a small frown. She clearly disagreed, but wasn't going to speak up. 

"I guess I'm a little old fashioned. I prefer to get to know my matches."

"I think we all know how well you've gotten to know my son," Jack said with a leer. Bruce felt his body go tense. 

"But you're matched. It's inevitable that you're going to get married," Janet said with a stiff smile. "Why not do it sooner?"

"We have time. I know how important school is to Tim, and my memories from college are some of my best. I want Tim to have that too."

Jack scoffed. "We all know that Tim's not going to do anything with that degree." Bruce stared at Jack. "You're a multi-billionaire, he's a kid. You'll get married and as long as he keeps spreading his legs for you, his life is set." 

Tim stood up and without a word walked out. Bruce watched him walk out before he turned back to Jack. 

"I'm not an idiot. I know what you see in my son, but don't be cruel and let him think that he's going to be anything other than something to hang off your arm at parties and stick your-" 

He punched him. Jack shouted and stumbled back clutching his broken nose. Janet rushed to her husband's side. 

"How dare you? If you don't change your attitude then you don't deserve our Timothy." 

Bruce scoffed. "You said it yourself. We matched. He's already mine. And if you come near him I have an entire firm of lawyers waiting. I think I might have them check the provenance on that first," he nodded to the tea set. Her face went pale. 

Tim wasn't in the apartment. He found him outside the building huddled in the corner trying not to shiver as the chill bit at him. Bruce pulled off his jacket and wrapped it around him. 

-

He should have canceled the dinner before Bruce had even gotten there. His parents had been set on putting on some kind of big production and he came home from work to find a service staff setting up in the kitchen, a team of chefs prepping away as his mother barked orders at them in hair rollers. 

Tim dropped his bag in the doorway and looked around at the extravagance of it all. 

"Mom, what is all of this?"

She turned around and blinked at him seeming confused by his uniform until she remembered that he had left in it that morning. She frowned at him. "Timmy, don't leave your bag there. And go get ready! We have a guest coming!" She said cheerfully like he didn't already know that. 

"Mom." He followed her out of the kitchen and into the dining room that was all set in ridiculous china. "I thought we agreed that this would just be a normal dinner?" He asked to remind her of the conversation they'd had that morning. "Bruce is really down to earth and I don't want it to look like you're putting in a show?" He offered with what he was sure was a very forced smile. 

His mother just smiled at him and pinched his cheek. "It's not a show Timmy," she told him and turned back to the table. "We need your future husband to see how you are accustomed to being treated. So that he knows that we expect nothing less for our boy." She smirked down at the table cloth as she smoothed it, letting Tim know that how he was accustomed to being treated wasn't really for display that night. 

He showered and changed into something comfortable until his mother saw him and made him change into a suit. He felt ridiculous. But he watched as his parents fussed about dressed in their finest until it was half an hour until Bruce would be there. It was then that his mother finally seemed to actually notice Tim. She took his face in her hands and looked at him, eyes looking misty. 

"Oh, Tim… I'm just so proud of you." She sighed and pulled him in for a hug. He was shocked, unable to remember the last time his mother had been proud of anything he had done. They had been away when he graduated. They had been away when he got accepted into Gotham University. He hugged her back when she didn't let go and his throat felt a little tight until his dad walked over with a smirk. 

"Always knew that brain of yours would come in handy," he said straightening his cufflinks. 

Tim frowned and let his arms go slack. "What do you mean?"

"Well the match sweetie," his mother said as she stepped back. "You obviously faked it." 

Tim didn't say a word as his parents laughed with each other and looked at him with such pride about something so horrible. 

"I… I didn't fake anything," he said so softly that he would have thought they couldn't hear him at all if they hadn't laughed again. 

"Of course you didn't Tim." His father chuckled and pat his shoulder hard. "I need a drink. Janet?" His mother agreed and followed him to the kitchen. Tim tried to shake it. He went down to meet Bruce and even gave him a warning, hoping for the best as he lead him into the lion's den. 

He should have known better. 

Bruce found him outside, sitting on the curb that faced the alley, away from the busy road. He felt his jacket wrap over his shoulders and Tim looked up at him with a horrible mix of relief and embarrassment. 

"I'm so sorry," Tim told him and Bruce's face twisted. "He was drinking before you came over and I should have canceled. He just… when he drinks he says things."

"Tim. Stop," Bruce told him. Tim pulled his eyes from his chest up to his face not knowing what to expect, but it wasn't what he got. Bruce looked angry. And Tim did stop because he didn't think he'd ever seen Bruce actually angry before. But even then, his touch was soft, soothing the tension in his shoulders before he ran his hands down the collar of the jacket he had put on him. And pulled him closer. "You're coming home with me," he told him, his voice low and seething. 

"But… what about-"

"You can sleep in the guest room or I can sleep on the couch. I don't care. But you aren't going back upstairs tonight. And if I have anything to say about it, you won't be coming back." Bruce waited for Tim to fight him on it, but when he just stared, Bruce grabbed his hand and pulled him to the garage where he'd parked. 

He turned the heat on as soon as they got in the Bugatti and Tim leaned into the seat, staring out the window as the city went by. He didn't know what to say. He thought about telling him what Selina had found, what his parents had assumed, so that he could make sure that Bruce knew he wouldn't do that. He couldn't. But what if telling Bruce only made it worse? What if he thought Tim faked the match too? Then what would happen? Neither of them said a word when the reached Bruce's building or even on the way up to his apartment. But he could feel Bruce watching him and Tim knew that there was something brewing just behind his lips. 

Tim chewed on his as he followed Bruce through the front door watching the storm in his shoulders. He stood just in the living room as Bruce dropped his keys on the counter and he paced back to him before pursing his lips and walking the path again. He was slower on his way back to Tim and when he stopped in front of him the storm was ready and wild in his eyes. 

"You are so smart," he told Tim who was expecting anything but that. "And funny. And kind. And you have the means to do whatever you want in this world. And when you are ready, you will be a force to be reckoned with." Tim's mouth was dry and his heart was caught in his throat. He didn't realize that he was crying until Bruce's thumb caught a tear before it got to the end of his cheek. "And yes, you are beautiful," Bruce admitted. "But before that you are all of the other things about you. And I would never dream of trapping you in a cage."

And he knew that he was about to say something. But it wasn't what he thought was coming up. He would tell him, eventually Tim would tell Bruce about Selina's file and tell him that even his parents didn't believe that this could be real. But at that moment this was more important. 

"I think I'm in love with you." He swallowed as Bruce's expression frosted in place. "I don't need you to say it back. But… I just… I love you." 

He brushed another tear away and kissed Tim. Bruce had been in love before. He remembered being 17 and swearing that he was in love with his first serious girlfriend. He'd told his mom that they were going to match and stay together when she warned him not to get too attached. It had been this new huge feeling that he'd never felt before. A few months later they had broken up and she hadn't even made it onto his list. Bruce wouldn't be like his mom. He wouldn't tell Tim that it was too soon, that it was just new and exciting. Because for a moment when Tim looked up at him through his tears he'd felt it too. And that terrified him. 

Tim made a hurt noise when they parted. He pulled Tim against his chest and held him. Tim's fingers dug into his back as he pulled himself tighter against him. He rested his cheek on the top of Tim's head. 

"Are you hungry?" he asked. Tim had barely picked at the food they'd had at his parents'.

"I want pizza, pepperoni. Extra sauce, extra pineapples." Tim propped his chin on his sternum and looked up at him. "Like a whole pineapple." 

"Okay. I'll order it. Go get comfortable." Tim wandered up to his bedroom. As the pizza parlor answered the phone he heard the shower kick on. 

Tim was still in the bathroom, though the shower had turned off when Bruce walked into the room with the pizza. He changed into more comfortable clothes and settled in bed. He flipped through the channels before finding a shark movie and tossing the remote next to his legs. Tim looked tiny and pink when he walked out of the bathroom. He'd stolen another one of Bruce's shirts. He climbed into bed and pulled the pizza box to him. 

"Satisfactory?" he asked as Tim hummed. 

"You know sauce is the best part of pizza. If the sauce is bad, then the whole pizza is bad. But people focus too much on the cheese." 

"I like crusts myself," he said before he took a slice. He wasn't the biggest fan of pineapple, but he wasn't about to tell Tim that as he stole cubes from another piece and piled it onto the one he was eating. He did pick a few off and give them to Tim though. 

"Crust is important too," Tim admitted. "But a good sauce can make up for a crust that is so so." They ate pizza and watched people run and scream. Tim curled up in his lap as Samuel L. Jackson gave his speech. He brushed his hand through his hair until he felt him fall asleep. 

-

"That is not an empty bed," Selina said from the doorway. Bruce looked up from where he'd been watching Tim sleep. He grabbed his pillow and threw it at her. She caught it and smiled at him before stepping back out. 

"Tim," he shook him softly and Tim murmured and tucked closer against him. "Wake up." 

"Can't I just sleep forever?" Tim mumbled. 

"You can go back to sleep, but I have to get up. So I'll need my arm back." Tim grumbled and rolled over, pulling the blankets around him and over his head. He chuckled and slid out of bed. "You know that key is only for emergencies."

"Gossip and mimosas aren't emergencies?" She asked twirling his spare key around her finger. "Dinner went well then," she said with a nod to the bedroom door. 

"It was a disaster, but he stayed with me." He offered her a wan smile. 

"What happened?" 

"I punched his dad." 

"Oh shit. Hold on, I need a drink for this." 

By the time Tim stumbled out in the same shirt he'd fallen asleep in, Selina had finished her drink and Bruce's and had retold the entire story. Tim seemed surprised that Selina was there, but still just leaned against Bruce and asked what he had for breakfast. 

"It's lunch time, Kitten."

"What do you have for lunch?" Tim asked. 

"Do you want to go get something?" Bruce asked. 

"I want nuggets and Stephanie." 

"We can get Stephanie and nuggets." 

Tim huddled up against Stephanie's side as soon as she got in the car. She took one look at him and asked 'parents?' Bruce nodded and she frowned as she hugged him back. Tim and Stephanie finished two 20 pieces between them. 

"I have work," Tim mumbled while they watched the Office. Stephanie and Tim had argued over whether they had to start at the beginning since Selina had never seen an episode.

"Bruce will go with you," Selina said shoving Bruce half off the couch. He shot her a look. "He needs to get some work done." 

"We'll see you guys in a few hours," Stephanie said with a wave. 

Tim's outfit was half of his suit from the night before and one of his uniform shirts that he'd left at Bruce's. For most of his shift Tim avoided the register. He make orders and cleaned everything, by the end of his shift he didn't look as tense and even smiled when Bruce took his hand. 

When they got back, Selina was talking Stephanie through the proper way to dice an onion. Tim mumbled about changing and headed back to the bedroom while Bruce went into the kitchen. 

"Steph?" Tim called. She was already smiling when she turned around. He was holding a stuffed dog in his hand. It looked like dirt and love was all that was holding it together. "What did you do?" 

"Selina and I went and got your stuff." 

"From my parents'?" Tim asked. 

"They weren't home." 

"And the maid didn't seem to mind when we told her we were your friends." Selina's smile made him think that wasn't the complete truth. "Plus you need your clothes. We just got them for you." 

Tim looked at Bruce. 

"Do you want help putting them away?" Tim looked surprised, like he had expected Bruce to be upset. "I told you I wanted you to stay," he said softly and kissed Tim's head as he passed him. They had dumped all of Tim's things on the bed. Luckily most of it was still in the original bags, the rest he went through. Tim snatched a pair of underwear out of his hands and was blushing furiously when he looked up at him. 

"You know I've seen those on you." 

"I know that!" Tim said in a high voice. "It's different." He smothered a smile as he went back to stacking the shirts. 

It wasn't that much, most of the stack was the bags of Tim's new wardrobe, some well loved shirts that he'd seen Tim in multiple times, probably Stephanie's doing, and Tim's coursework. His laptop was plugged in on the nightstand. His phone charger was there too. 

"Are you sure this is okay?" Tim asked. He was fidgeting again. 

He took his hands and made Tim look at him. "Yes, I'm sure. But if you want to go back, you can." 

"O-okay," Tim replied. "I think I'll stay here for a few days."

"Okay," he told him. Tim set the rabbit in the drawer on the nightstand. He saw Bruce watching him when he turned around. "His name is Elvis. I've had him since I was a kid. I don't sleep with him or anything," Tim rushed to say. 

"I used to have a nightlight. It broke when I moved into the apartment. I'd had it since I was three. It took me a solid month to get used to sleeping without it." 

"Really," Tim asked. He nodded. 

"Don't tell anyone though." 

Tim smiled. 

-

A few days turned into the rest of the week. Bruce liked waking up to Tim's face. He liked watching him rub at his hair while trying not to let Bruce look at it. He liked seeing Tim's books spread randomly through the house. He liked coming home to him singing along to the music blaring from his laptop as he cooked. He liked falling asleep with Tim in his arms. 

-

Tim flopped down onto the bed with a heavy sigh when he got home. Bruce looked at him in the bathroom mirror. 

"You okay?" he asked. 

"Just tired. Do I have to go to this?" 

"No, but I do." 

Tim looked over to him. "Are you going like that?" 

Bruce smirked and offered him a lighthearted 'no'. Tim had choked on his coffee the other morning when Bruce walked out in only his boxer briefs to grab a cup. He didn't seem so startled by it now. He went back to shaving and watched Tim's eyes roam over his bare back in the mirror. He wiped off his face and headed out into the room. 

"Could I convince you to come?" Bruce asked. Tim looked confused, like maybe Bruce actually thought he wasn't going. Bruce rubbed a hand up Tim's thigh and thumbed open his pants. He saw Tim's eyes widen. 

"You'd have to try really hard," Tim replied, his voice already breathy and strained. 

"I've found that I can be very convincing." He pulled Tim's pants down over his slim hips and licked a stripe up his quickly hardening dick. 

Tim's fingers immediately slid into his hair. He sucked and licked until Tim was hard and moaning as he writhed on the bed above him. He pulled off and bit Tim's thigh as he lifted his leg. Tim's yelp twisted into a moan as Bruce licked past his balls. He pushed Tim's legs up and over his shoulders as he licked further in. He looked back up when he stopped hearing Tim's noises. His mouth was covered as his head moved against the bed. He reached up and pulled Tim's hand away. 

"I want to hear you," he said and kissed his hand. 

Tim looked down at him. His eyes were lost to his lust. Tim whined as his tongue circled his hole before pushing back in. He heard the sharp cry that he'd started to notice meant Tim was close and sucked as he grabbed Tim's front. Tim's legs tightened around his head as he came with a hoarse cry. Once Tim let him free he pulled himself free and crawled up. He sucked a mark on his neck as he slid against the slick of Tim's stomach until he came. 

"I don't know if that made me want to ever leave this bed," Tim sighed after a few minutes. 

"Well too bad," he pushed up and pulled Tim up with him. "Time for a shower." Tim shrieked as he tossed him over his shoulder.

-

"What happened to you?" Selina asked when she got to the apartment. Bruce adjusted the sling around his neck and didn't answer. Tim was bright red. "Nevermind I don't want to know. At least it's black." She adjusted his tie and then pushed a strand of Tim's hair back. "Bruce Robert Wayne! What is this?" She pushed Tim's head to the side revealing a faint red mark. Tim grunted his disapproval at the rough handling.

"His shirt hides it," he replied. Selina let go of Tim's head and poked Bruce hard in the shoulder. He hissed and moved away. 

"You better hope so." Selina fixed Tim's hair again and smiled. "Are you ready for this?" 

Tim looked over to Bruce. He smiled and Tim turned back to Selina. He took a deep breath before nodding. 

"Okay. Let's go." 

Selina looked beautiful. She always did, but in her emerald fitted gown with a long slit up the side that her perfectly bronzed leg slipped out of as she walked, she belonged in a movie. It made her eyes look stunning, and sitting next to Bruce the image was complete. Tim knew they had dated, but he had done what he could to avoid actually thinking about it. He almost wished that he had thought about it a little more. It wouldn't have felt like such a punch in the gut seeing these two beautiful creatures that looked so perfect for eachother as he sat between them wondering how he was supposed to fit in. 

"Drink this," Selina said pushing a glass of champagne on him staring down Bruce to dare him to argue with her. "You are too tense, and I can't work with that."

"Why do we have to work at anything?" Tim asked and took a sip that turned into a gulp when Selina pushed the glass up by the stem. "I thought this was just a fundraiser," he choked out, eyes watering at the carbonation trying to come out his nose. 

Selina looked all business despite the glamorous disguise. "Kitten, there are a lot of people at this fundraiser. Pretty much anyone who is anyone in Gotham is going to be here. And a lot of anyones from outside of Gotham-- and every single one of them is going to be watching you." Tim blinked and shook his head not knowing why anyone would be interested in him, "Look. Tim, to be frank, the way your family ran their business into the ground was spectacular. And now you, their only child are matched-- the highest match in history-- with one of the most successful business men in the world. Some people aren't happy about it. And a lot of them are going to be rooting for you to fail. But you won't."

"I won't?" He asked, his mouth dry. 

Selina shook her head and pushed the glass up again until he finished it. "You are going to blow them away. Because you are Tim fucking Drake. You are the smartest eighteen year old I have ever met. And that dopey smile you put on Bruce will make the whole crowd swoon," he added making Bruce do that dopey smile. It actually made Tim feel a little better. "It also doesn't hurt that you look amazing," she added as a little pat to herself as the limo slowed. She looked out the window and took Tim's glass away. "Alright," she said looking between the two of them. "Game faces. And Tim make sure you stand on Bruce's right, I want him to be able to touch you." Then the door to the limo opened, letting the sound of a hundred people and flashing lights in as Selina stepped out and the door shut again.

"This is a horrible idea," Tim told Bruce as soon as the door closed. "I suck at people. Notoriously so. And there are reporters… and cameras and-" 

Bruce put his hand over his mouth and Tim let out a hard breath through his nose. "It's only a few yards to the doors. We just have to walk. Three minutes and then we are inside and you can freak out about the next thing. Okay?" 

Tim nodded and Bruce moved his hand so that he could lean in and kiss him before the door opened again and he slid out into the roar of the red carpet. Tim swallowed hard but Bruce held his hand out to him and more than whatever fear was rolling around in his chest, he couldn't leave Bruce wanting. 

He took his hand and as soon as he stepped out and up next to him the roar was wild. People were calling his name from all around, cameras flashing at him making everything look blurry and bright. He looked up at Bruce who made a face at him and he felt a smile working his lips despite his nerves. Bruce put his hand on Tim's back and they took their first steps forward. Most of the questions people asked were surface questions. Very light. They asked who he was wearing. They asked how tall her was. They asked how it felt to be dating Bruce Wayne. He smiled off all of the questions as Bruce ushered him forward it wasn't until they were almost inside that someone called out, "So how did you hack the system?" 

They stopped on the steps and looked to the voice but it the face it belonged to was lost in all the flashes. Tim's heart was in his throat and he felt Bruce's hand go rigid on his back. The voice called again. "Did you have inside help?" But they didn't hear anything else. 

"No more questions," Selina said with a wide smile before she pulled them both into the banquet hall and the voices and the flashing were lost. She didn't let them go when they got inside, walking them briskly into a secluded corner away from the guests walking in. "Okay." She breathed, pulling her phone out of her clutch. "We don't know how bad this is yet," she said mostly to herself as she typed quickly into her phone. Bruce pulled Tim closer into his side like he could protect him from whatever was coming but they just waited and watched Selina's lips press harder together. 

"Well?" Bruce asked when she tucked her phone back into her purse. 

"It's bad." Selina nodded. "The Planet published half an hour ago, just enough time that it would be out before the event. Remind me to scalp Lois Lane."

"What does it say?" Tim asked not sure if he really wanted to know. But he didn't think he could deal with the dread of not knowing. Selina just looked at him and he knew it was exactly what she had feared. He looked up at Bruce, "B-"

"No. I know," Bruce assured him and kissed his forehead. "I know you couldn't do that," he promised and to Tim's surprise that was all the assurance he needed for the opinion of every else to fall to the wayside. It was still there. Just not as important. "How did this get out?"

"We'll deal with that later." Selina said and the look she gave Bruce was a sharp one. "But for now we have to show face. There is a show to put on and we are going to play our parts and get the hell outta dodge." She shifted her gaze down to Tim. "Can you handle this?" 

Tim knew he didn't really have a choice. "I'm fine," he told her sounding much more confident than he felt. 

She smirked at him and straightened his lapel. "Good kitty." She took his free arm as they walked back to the foyer to step back into the flow of people coming in from the outside. 

Selina unlinked her arm from Tim's when they got closer to the hall. Stepping in front of them to get her photo taken and move forward down the stairs. He grabbed Bruce's arm as they stepped forward and the photographer took their photo, and they they were following Selina down into the ballroom. It was beautiful. Everything covered in twinkling lights and white marble that just reflected everything back up and off of the countless jeweled gowns on numerous beautiful people around them.

They were all watching them just like Selina had said they would only now it turned Tim stomach in an entirely new way. It was easy enough to shake it off though as the waiter at the entrance handed them both a glass of champagne and they were led into the crowd. Bruce was pulled in conversation almost immediately by an older couple demanding to know what happened to his arm and to be introduced to his match. They were nice enough to his face even though Tim knew it was fake. He just focused on answering their questions and laughing when Bruce did and soon enough they were passed on to the next group and then the next. He was relieved when they got pulled away from a bunch of foundation people by a young man with ink black hair who looked almost like he could be Bruce's brother if not for his olive complexion. Bruce hugged him and winced when he hit his shoulder, surprising Tim when he answered his inquiry with a shrug and, "sex injury," but the man was delighted. 

His blue eyes shifted to Tim and looked at him like he had this great secret that he wanted to know. "I can tell by the horrified look on your face that Bruce hasn't told you anything about me." He sighed and held out his hand. "I'm Dick Grayson. My mother runs the museum. So unfortunately Bruce and I see a lot of each other." 

Tim grinned and shook his hand. "Tim Drake."

Dick pulled him in closer when he had his hand and gave Tim a twirl. "Damn B, you want to trade?" He asked as he looked Tim over in appreciation. 

And as if she had been summoned, a red headed woman in a structured black high low dress walked up next to him and smacked his head. "Keep your hands to yourself," she warned him, but he could tell that she was mostly amused. She turned to Bruce with a smile. "B!" she hugged him tight before she made Tim spin around to examine him as well. 

Dick and Barbara had been matched right off the bat. They were the same age, so as soon as they met each other they were done and got married only a few months after to get out of the system before they got anything higher. Their percentage was only 38, but that didn't seem to bother them in the slightest. They were in love. Like big full wonderful love that just radiated out of them. And they delighted in all of the differences that society told them was wrong and Tim loved watching them move around each other. 

"Oh it was terrifying." Barbara nodded when Tim asked. "I mean, who is ready to get married at eighteen? But I didn't want to risk it." She looked over at Dick who was talking animatedly at Bruce who actually openly laughed at whatever it was. "I mean, a guy like Dick tells you that you are his forever girl and then everything just feels like it's going to be okay. I believed him. And he hasn't ever let me down." Tim bit his lip and followed her gaze, watching the way that Bruce spoke to Dick, his eyes bright and slight in a way they usually weren't. And he remembered how he felt when he first met him. Terrified by just how stunning and intense he was. He wondered if they could have gotten to the place that Dick and Barbara did. Would they have wanted to? 

"But what about you?" She asked with a little twinkle in her eye. "How is it dating Bruce? Intimidating?" She nudged him. Tim laughed, the half empty glass of champagne in his hand making him feel a little light. 

"Actually no," Tim told her looking back at Bruce again. He knew he was smiling like an idiot but he couldn't stop. "Bruce has made it really easy for me. And I'm sure it's frustrating because I'm so young and this is all so new… but he's been patient and kind." Tim shrugged and looked back at Barbara whose eyes were all soft and shiny. "I'm pretty smitten," he admitted and she grinned but it instantly fell when she looked over Tim's shoulder. 

"Isn't that sweet?" Came a deep and accented voice from behind him. He turned to see a deeply tanned woman in a deep purple gown with jewels at the shoulders. Her hair was down in long elegant curls and the dress hugged every bit of her. She was looking down at him with a high arched brows and eyes so green they would give Selina's a run for her money. "Timothy Drake, isn't it?" She asked extending her hand to him. 

"Just Tim, but yes," he told her as he shook her hand. "And you are?" 

The very question seemed to offend her and she waited like the longer he stood there the more likely it was that he would figure it out. Barbara stepped up next to him. "Tim, this is Talia Al Ghul," she said flatly. "Her and Bruce go way back."

"You're friends with Bruce?" Tim asked wondering why he hadn't heard of her. 

But Talia chuckled, "I wouldn't call us friends. It's something a little more… intimate than that." 

His skin crawled at the way she said that and a bitterness that he had never felt before ran up his back. He took his hand back and forced a smile at her. 

"Oh." He nodded. "What a pity that had to change," he offered and the way her face fell was satisfying but not as satisfying as when he waved as he walked with Barbara back over to Bruce and pulled at the lapels of his jacket. He bent easily down to kiss him and Tim could feel the ire coming from Talia's direction.

They were passed around a few more times until they ended up back in the group that Dick had found them in. It was mostly the same people except Bruce's father had joined while they were gone. His smile was tight when he locked eyes with Tim and nodded and Tim's stomach tightened up again. He was pretty sure that this wasn't about what happened at the office the other day. He'd left that in a good humor about it and Bruce assured him that he'd been making jokes. But now his eyes were hard. There was no humor there. He had read the article. 

"Are you okay?" Bruce asked just soft enough that only he could hear it. 

Tim forced a smile. "Yeah, I'm great. I just need to find a bathroom," he told him and excused himself from the group to head back toward the entrance. 

Eyes followed him the entire way there, back to the corner that Selina had pulled them into when they came in. He found the men's room thankfully empty and pulled his phone out of the inner pocket of his jacket. He pulled up the Daily Planet's website. He didn't really want to read the article, but he had to know. If Bruce's father was going to look at him like that, he had to know why-- but it was difficult to get past the headline. 

 

Match Made In Coding : 98% chance of rain in this paradise.

 

Tim swallowed and hesitated for a moment. He knew just from that exactly what he would find there, everything Selina had predicted and maybe more. He bit his lip and made himself push forward. 

 

Everyone is talking about the match of the century, but has anyone actually stopped to look at the couple inside it? Bruce Wayne, billionaire, businessman, eligible bachelor. A prize that anyone would be happy to win. And then there is Tim Drake. 

It's a name that strikes a familiar chord, although the Drake family has been out of the spotlight for some years now since Jack Drake ran his family's business into the ground. Jack and his wife Janet have shown up here and there on the society page, making small splashes and causing scenes… so how is it that their only son has somehow landed a first class ticket back to the top? After some snooping I have uncovered evidence that this "one in a million match," may not have been so miraculous after all. 

On the outside Tim Drake is a normal student, studying business at Gotham University. All of his professors agree that he is a bright boy with a great future ahead of him. But if you look back a little further, you will find that Tim wasn't always dead set on business. He is actually an extremely gifted programmer. 

"Tim was always good with computers." His mother told me via Skype interview not hours ago. "Always had a mind for code. Not like his father and I, he's never been good with people." A statement that I dreamed true after speaking with a few of Tim's former teachers. Janet Drake continued, "But you know, I wouldn't be surprised if Tim found a way around the system. He's always really admired Bruce Wayne. Talked about him all of the time, even before the match was made. Said he wished he could get a match like that, give him the life he was accustomed to-"

 

Tim stopped reading. He didn't need to look at the rest to know why people believed it, his mother had said it all right there. Every horrible idea that she'd tried to put on him was staring at him through the screen with his name next to it. He wanted to scream. He wanted to hit something. He wanted to know what he had ever done to his parents to make them want to hurt him like this besides existing-- which he hadn't asked for. But he couldn't do any of that right then. He had to go back out to the party and face all of those people, face his future father-in-law, knowing they all hated his guts and act like he was unaffected. 

He swallowed past the frustration trying to drip out of his eyes and watched himself in the mirror until he looked almost normal again and then he forced himself back out. He marched back into the party with his head as high as his height would allow. He found Selina as Bruce and his father stood next to a woman that Tim assumed was Dick's mother towards the back, taking pictures after the speech he had missed. 

-

"Talia hasn't talked to me once tonight."

"Maybe she's saving it up for some big scheme," Selina said. 

"Oh, Tim put her in her place earlier." He looked over to Barbara. 

"What?" he asked and looked at Selina. They had both been watching for Talia to start something with Tim, it had happened with each match he'd dated. He hadn't seen anything. Selina looked just as surprised as he was. 

"She heavily implied that you were romantically involved and Tim basically said 'bitch he's with me now'. Her face was amazing. I would hang it on my wall." Barbara smiled.

His attention was caught and he moved over to stand with his dad as their host stepped up behind the small podium. 

"Is mom okay?" he asked. He had wanted to ask as soon as he saw that his father was alone, but he wouldn't draw attention to her absence. He remembered when there wasn't a single event that she missed. But that was years ago, she rarely left the manor now, but she had told him that she was excited to come to this. 

"She worked too hard in the garden yesterday. The roses are being stubborn." Thomas put a hand on his shoulder. "But we'll see you on Sunday for dinner." It wasn't a question. 

"I'll check my calendar and send you a time." They smiled and Thomas waved away the applause. They were guided over to a photographer and between pictures he looked around wondering what was taking Tim so long. He saw him and his smile faded. Selina had been standing next to the photographer and turned with a frown to see what he was looking at. She said something to the photographer and made her way through the crowd. 

He saw Tim smile and answer whatever question Selina asked, but he looked stiff and uncomfortable. He was trying though and he didn't think that anyone else would notice the change. They finished with the pictures and Thomas turned to their host. 

"Excuse me," he said and pat his dad on the back. 

"Sunday," his dad said with a serious expression. 

"Yes sir." 

Selina had a stiff smile on her face. "You're going home."

"No. I can stay," Tim replied. 

"My shoulder is bothering me. If we're talking about making our escape my vote is for home." He put his arm around Tim as he interrupted them. Tim glanced up at him, he could see unease in his eyes. 

"If you're sure," Tim said. 

Selina pushed them toward the door. "I'm sure."

Tim kept the same smile on his face as they walked through the groups of people saying goodbye to a few of them. He stayed by his side, smiled, was polite and no one noticed the way he watched the people around him or the tight grip he had on Bruce's hand as they finally left. 

Tim rested his head against his shoulder. Bruce wished he could touch him, but the sling got in the way. So he held onto Tim's hand and listened to the quiet jazz floating around the car. 

They rode the elevator up in silence. Tim stood a few feet away from him. His eyes watched him like he was preparing himself for something terrible. He followed after Tim. He hadn't been lying, his shoulder was starting to ache, but he still had an hour before he could take another pill. So he headed for the bedroom, to get changed and ready for bed. 

"Our match isn't a fraud." 

Bruce's hand stopped on the door handle. He looked back over his shoulder. Tim was standing at the foot of the stairs with his jacket in his hands. 

"I know that," Bruce said softly. 

"Selina showed me all these things. But they aren't true. Well they are true, but they aren't. I didn't do this. I know that our match is impossible, it's too high, you shouldn't have been in the system. We shouldn't be together. And I'm good with computers. Coding is easy. It makes sense. But that doesn't mean I like it, or that I am suddenly able to break into, like, the most secure server on the planet - I had to create a new email last year because I forgot my password."

"Tim."

"And then there is you. Gotham's most eligible billionaire who happens to have low matches. And if I matched with you, I'd have all of this," Tim gestured around himself. "Which matters to me, apparently." 

"Tim," he caught his face in his hands. "I know that you didn't." Tim's eyes were wide. "I have been rich my entire life. As you pointed out, I have also been very publicly available with no match high enough to hinder any one's chances at a relationship. I know what someone who only wants me for my money looks like. They are not shy. They do not write me letters. They never want Selina and I to ever be in the same room. They don't give me discounts on my coffee from their minimum wage job. Or pay when we go to the movies and refuse to let me buy the concessions. They ask to stay the night, they don't say no for a week straight."

"But-" 

"Stop trying to convince me that you did something I know you didn't do."

"But how? Everyone, the media, your father, my own parents. They all believe it. It even makes sense to me. Why don't you?" 

"Do you remember when we first met?" 

"At the coffee shop?" Tim asked. 

"In the green room. You looked like you were going to pass out. Or maybe throw another coffee on me."

"I didn't throw-" 

"You were nervous and just as blindsided as I was. You were nervous talking to me for weeks. You were nervous on our first date, nervous when we kissed." He tilted Tim's chin up to kiss him lightly. "I know that I'm your first match, but Tim. You're not mine and this-" He gestured between them. "I've had relationships with my matches. None of them have ever been this easy. So ignore those people out there, let them be jealous. Because I know that this is real. And if they felt this, they'd know it too."

Tim hugged him, shoved his face against his shoulder earning a hiss and didn't let go. He held him until the throbbing got to be too much to ignore, then watched Tim build a wall of pillows so that he didn't accidentally roll over onto his shoulder. Bruce just smiled a lazy smile as the medicine works its magic.

Chapter Text

Tim's bed head popped over the top of the pillows. Bruce was pretty sure Tim was hoping that he was still asleep because he sighed when he saw him on his phone. Selina had sent the article to him as he fell asleep with the subject, 'She won. I don't know why she can't be happy.' He didn't know either. It had baffled him since the pattern had first appeared. Lane had gotten herself a husband and he'd gotten a broken heart. But apparently that wasn't good enough for her. 

"Do you want to talk about the article?" Bruce asked. 

"We talked about it?" Tim said, but pulled the pillows away and laid on Bruce's stomach. 

"I didn't know that it was your mother that provided the quotes," Bruce said and ran his fingers through Tim's hair. 

"I don't know why I was surprised. You heard what they thought about our match and my future."

-

Tim looked like he was preparing for war as he got dressed. He'd called Selina and talked to her for half an hour that morning trying to pick out the perfect outfit. He'd smacked a kiss on Bruce's cheek before heading to work. When he'd gotten back Bruce was half dressed and trying to decide if he should shave. He didn't think it was worth the trouble, it was only his parents. But it also felt like something big. It was important to Tim that they liked him, and they were already at a disadvantage. He'd told Tim that'd he'd talk to his parents, and make them understand, but Tim had told him that he wanted to show them who he really was. 

The car dropped them off at the gate. It had been acting up for the last few months, but his dad insisted that he could fix it. Maybe he could, but he still hadn't gotten around to it. Bruce pulled Tim over to the small gate and across the lawn. 

"It looks like a normal house from the road," Tim whispered. "But you grew up in a castle. Why would you ever leave?" 

"The silence. And I like my apartment now. It's big enough for two," he squeezed Tim's hand which was a little sweaty. He knew Tim was worried, but he looked calm. He wanted to comment on it, but he didn't want to risk ruining the calm Tim had managed. 

He felt anything but calm as they walked up the lawn towards the manor where Bruce grew up. He had gone through every possible thing he could wear with Selina and compared them with what Bruce was wearing until he ended up in black fitted pants and a grey and white striped short sleeved button up. Selina had convinced him that it was casual and appropriate-- but when a butler answered the door to let them in Tim wanted more than anything to run back out onto the lawn and see if the car would take him to change.

But Bruce was smiling at the man at the door, pulling him in for a one armed hug the best he could with his taped shoulder and Tim clutching his other hand. 

"It is wonderful to see you, Master Bruce," the man told him, straightening the collar of Bruce's shirt before he pat his cheek. 

Bruce smiled at him like a kid seeing his favorite uncle before he pulled him forward to stand closer to him. "Alfred, this is Tim. My boyfriend." 

Tim waited for the judgment that he was sure was about to pour out of Alfred's eyes, but he took Tim by the shoulders and stood him square in front of him so that he could fully look him over. He held his breath, waiting. Wanting more than anything to step back up against Bruce and hide there, but he made himself stay still. He didn't breathe again until Alfred finally smiled. "Seems a very handsome match indeed Master Bruce." 

Bruce chuckled and put his arm around Tim's heaving chest. "Are they in the parlor?" 

Alfred nodded. "Tea has just been set," he told them and turned to walk further into the beautiful Victorian home. The further they went the more he appreciated Bruce's apartment. Yeah it was beautiful and grand and a literal fairytale palace, but Tim didn't think he could ever live in a place like this. With all of its rooms and halls and breakable things. 

They stopped in front of a set of grand double doors that were ornately carved and Bruce thanked Alfred, letting him know they could handle it from there. Alfred bowed and wished Tim good luck before he turned and left them in front of the doors. Tim felt like he was on the verge of a panic attack. The last time he'd had a panic attack he'd had to go on TV, but this felt so much bigger. 

"My parents are only intimidating because they are famous," Bruce tried to reassure him. "But other than that they are just really dorky parents. That's it. Just be yourself and I'm sure they'll love you." He didn't give Tim any time to second guess it before he pushed the doors open. 

There was an echo of Bruce's name through the beautiful room but Tim couldn't take in anything but Bruce's parents. It was like someone had hit mute in his brain as he watched Thomas and Martha hug and fuss over their son, saying things he couldn't process. He had seen Thomas before so he knew that he was handsome, but Martha wasn't quite was he expected. She was beautiful but she was so small, both in height and general size. Her dark well kept hair was very thin and her wrists were so small where she held Bruce's face. But more than how they looked, he couldn't help but notice just how happy they were to see Bruce. Their son. Who they obviously loved very much. 

His throat felt tight but he forced a nervous smile onto his face when Bruce squeezed his hand and pulled him into their circle. It was hard for him to keep eye contact, but he managed it. It was easier when he noticed that Martha's eyes were the exact same color as Bruce's. His eyes shifted between Bruce's parents as he held both of Tim's shoulders in front of him. "Tim, you've met my father, Thomas. But this," he stepped forward making Tim do the same. "Is my mom. Martha."

Tim took a staggering breath with the weight of her kind eyes on him and offered her his hand, "It-it's a pleasure to meet you ma'am," he told her wishing that his voice didn't feel so tacky in his mouth. 

Martha smiled and took his hand in both of her's, giving it a squeeze. "You must be terrified right now," she tutted shaking her head before she pulled him into a warm hug and gave him a squeeze. Tim could have melted and he wasn't entirely sure that he didn't let out a noise of relief. If he did, Martha was kind enough not to say anything. When she pulled back she fixed him with a firm gaze and the same smirk he had seen on her son's face. "Don't worry honey, we've been in this business for a long time. And we know better than to believe everything we read." She shot her husband a very pointed look. "Isn't that right, Thomas?" 

The man who was now standing right next to his son looking almost his clone blinked in surprise and then embarrassment. "Yes. Right," he agreed as he cleared his throat.

Martha seemed appeased by that smiled brightly at her son, keeping Tim under her arm. "I think he might be prettier than Selina," she said in absolute delight. She pulled Tim to the sofa and pushed him down next to her, close enough that she could reach out and grab his knee throughout their conversation that got easier and easier as they went on. 

Martha was not shy. She asked what she wanted to know and she didn't tiptoe around it. She asked about Tim's past boyfriends. His job. His classes. She asked about the dates that they had been on and was completely delighted to hear he went to the Dr. Seuss exhibit. Bruce told her about Tim talking in rhyme the whole time. Even Thomas smiled at that. Both of them seemed weirdly happy that Bruce was Tim's first boyfriend and they kept looking at Bruce and then smiling at eachother. Neither of them said anything about his parents and whether Bruce had warned them before their arrival or they'd decided themselves to steer away from it. Tim was just grateful he didn't have to think about them. 

Thomas shook his hand at the door with a genuine smile this time and Martha hugged him again demanding that he bring Bruce by more often. He gave in easily and she hugged him again. He swore that Alfred winked at him as he showed them out. Tim leaned against Bruce as they walked back down the lawn to the gate and the car feeling relieved and exhausted. But he knew that as soon as they got back to the apartment he wouldn't be able to stop himself from climbing Bruce like a tree. 

-

The Waynes came out with an official statement about a week later that they were choosing not to acknowledge the article written by Lois Lane, and that they were thrilled with their future son in law. This caused a lot more commotion. Some of the media were insisting that the Waynes were just unwilling to admit the fault in a system they helped create. The other half were thrilled with the prospect of a proposal. 

Paparazzi were waiting for Tim outside of work and school to the point where his boss could hardly keep making excuses to keep him with the press scaring the customer's away. 

"I think I'm going to get fired," Tim sighed when he got home two Saturdays after their dinner at the Waynes. Bruce was watching a video on his laptop showing him how to properly baste the chicken he had on the island in front of him. Tim dropped his hat and keys on the counter not sure when it became a habit, but he didn't even think about it anymore. He jumped onto the counter opposite of the island and Bruce frowned at the chicken as he continued to follow what the video told him. 

"How could they fire you?" He asked, "Your smile brings in half of your customers." Tim tossed a piece of chopped onion at him and Bruce grinned. "What happened?" 

"The press were outside again." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "No one wanted to go in with them yelling at me through the doors." 

Bruce put the chicken in the oven and talked up next to Tim to wash his hands at the sink next to Tim. "Selina wants to talk to us about that." Bruce sighed like he was hoping that they could have not talked about it until after dinner. Which was weird because he was usually very straight forward. "She has some… ideas about how we could get the press to back off." 

Tim raised an eyebrow. "What kind of ideas?"

"Intimidating ideas." Bruce smirked and pushed his legs open so that he could walk between them. He ran his wet hands over Tim's work shirt and he gripped him as Bruce pulled him forward by his belt loops. "She seems to think that all of this could go away if we got married." Tim yelped as Bruce kissed his neck and laughed. "I told her no," he promised him with a grin.

Tim pushed at him, his face red. "That was mean." 

"We do need to do something though," Bruce sighed into his jaw, lips moving back and forward. "I don't like that they followed you to school. Maybe a bodyguard…"

"That's the last thing I need," Tim promised him. 

Bruce pulled back and fixed him with a mischievous smile in his eyes. "I could convince you." 

Tim locked his legs around Bruce's waist and let him pull him off the counter. "You can try ."

-

Stephanie thought that Tim's new celebrity was hilarious. They had somehow both managed to get off work the next Friday, probably due to the shop owner wanting to get rid of the press, and Stephanie demanded Tim's attention. He was happy to give it to her. Bruce would be working late, they had a big presentation Monday morning and he was trying to cram all of his left over prep into one day so that he and Tim could spend the weekend together. 

They spent most of the afternoon at the mall going through joke shops and trying on ridiculous clothes while eating pretzels. They sent a picture of themselves in matching yellow overalls to Bruce who immediately sent back a screenshot of it at his new phone background and Stephanie cheered like she had won something. Tim stopped at the geek store in the shop when he found a comic book adaptation for an old western movie that Bruce had made him watch a few weeks before. He bought it, grinning at the thought of surprising Bruce with it later. 

The mall had been so relaxing and fun that Tim had almost forgotten about the press until they headed for the entrance and saw them crowded there. Stephanie grabbed him and took him around the back entrance, bragging about her sneaking skills when the door shut and locked them out of the mall in the mouth of an alley. They started walking toward the end of it where three people were leaning against the wall in a tight circle. He didn't even bother looking their way until one of them said his name and he recognized the blonde boy from school, Lonnie. Tim looked down and kept walking but one of the guys with him stepped in the way. 

"Where are you off to, Drake?"

Stephanie grabbed his arm. He pulled her in closer as the other guy with Lonnie pushed off the wall. "You're pretty," Lonnie said as he took a step closer, looking at Stephanie. "You got a match yet sweetheart?" 

"I sure as fuck haven't matched with you," she growled at him. 

Lonnie grinned. "Haven't you heard? That's not a problem anymore. Drake learned how to hack the system. He'll hook us up." 

"Fuck off Lonnie." Tim barely got it out he was so angry he'd heard it from so many people that it hardly bothered him anymore… until he said it. 

"What's that?" Lonnie asked getting close enough that Tim could smell the weed on his breath. "Oh, right." He laughed. "You only help homos, right?" 

It all happened so fast. One of the guys pulled Steph off of his arm while she shouted at him as the other goon shoved Tim down to his knees. Lonnie stepped forward and grabbed a fist full of his hair before he smashed Tim's face into the zipper of his jeans. 

"What about now?" He asked humping into Tim's face as he struggled to get away from him. "Gay enough for you to set me up with your friend?"

"Fuck you! Let him go, you ass!" Stephanie shouted somewhere behind him. 

"Calm down," he grunted at her and used both of his hands to smother Tim's face into his jeans. "He likes it." He pulled back on Tim's hair until he was forced to look up at him, red faced and furious. Lonnie grinned at him and then his friends. "Think I should give him the real deal, guys?" The guys cheered and Lonnie popped the button on his pants, pulling out his half erection. 

Tim only had a moment to feel dread when he was pushed forward again, barely able to turn his cheek to him so that Lonnie's penis smacked against his neck. Lonnie growled at him and grabbed his hair again, pulling him forward and Tim gave one last hard pull and managed to get one of his arms free. And before they could grab it again he clocked his elbow back and punched Lonnie straight in the dick. 

It was a horrible noise. The sound of his fist colliding with Lonnie's erection and the sound that fell out of his mouth. He stumbled backwards and fell into and then down the wall, holding his crotch as tears streamed down his face. But Tim only had a moment to enjoy it. A fist collided with his face and the world went into slow motion. 

He fell to the ground and a foot hit him in the gut knocking the air out of him and then another on to his back. He tried to curl in on himself but he kept getting hit. In the face, stomach, his arms, his back. He could hear Stephanie shouting above him but the hits just kept coming until a new voice came in. There were grunts around him and Tim stayed as small as he could until a big and careful hand touched his shoulder and he heard Stephanie talking to him. He uncurled with a groan and saw Stephanie and Jason burrily above him. 

Jason was breathing hard and had a red mark on his face. Stephanie was crying hard. "Oh fuck, Timmy," she sobbed when she saw him so he knew he probably look as bad as he felt. She pulled out her phone and stuck it to her face turned his face with a grimace. 

"Think you can move?" Jason asked gruffly. 

Tim nodded and groaned as Jason helped him sit up slowly and Stephanie cursed and hit dial again. "Why isn't B answering?" 

"He has… a meeting." Tim just managed before he started coughing. 

"Is he close?" Jason asked Stephanie.

She wiped a hard hand across her face and pulled off her scarf to shove it into Tim's lip that was pouring blood at this point. "His office is two blocks away. Can you…?"

"Yeah, just help me get him up," Jason told her and they got Tim to his feet. 

Lonnie was still against the wall sobbing as he held his dick and one of his guys was in the ground out cold. The other was nowhere to be seen. Tim hissed as they moved him and they went slow. The blood from his lip and his nose was turning Stephanie's scarf red very quickly so they went a little faster. 

The lobby at Wayne Enterprise was fortunately almost empty, but as soon as Alexandra saw them she hissed, "Oh fuck." And pulled her head set off. She led them back to the elevator and swiped her card for them, telling the trio she would call up to Emily right away. 

He hadn't been expecting Selina to meet them on the top floor, taking in the three of them with dangerous eyes. She marched them back to Bruce's empty office and sat Tim in his chair, slowly pulling the scarf away from his face. "Oh kitten…" she sighed and shook her head, but the softness was gone in an instant. "Emily, I need the first aid kit now," she snapped and the girl went running from the room. Then she turned to Stephanie. "There is a conference room the floor below this one, Bruce is in it. Get him." Stephanie ran out without a word. Then she turned to Jason, "Now, what the fuck happened?"

---

His phone buzzed next to the folder in front of him. Bruce silenced the alert and waved a hand for Ryan to continue. He frowned at it. It was odd that Stephanie was calling, but he'd gotten enough butt dials from her that he didn't think anything of it. 

That was until he saw her running down the hall through the glass of the conference room wall. He was standing up before she'd even reached the door. She was crying, or had been, half of her ponytail looked like it had been yanked free. He excused himself, everyone's eyes followed him as he walked her back out of the room. 

"Tim," she said and pulled on his good arm. He thought he saw blood on her hands, but she didn't give him a chance to ask. He followed her up the stairs to his office floor. 

All he could see was blood when he walked in his office. A scarf sat a few feet away from the chair, it was mostly red. Tim's mouth and neck were covered in blood and the front of his shirt was splattered with it. Selina was holding a ball of gauze to Tim's eyebrow. 

"Tim?" he asked. Tim's eyes started watering as soon as he saw him. His teeth were red when he opened his mouth and said his name. Bruce touched his hand, but Tim hissed, the entire right side of his hand was swelling. 

Selina had pulled the gauze away and a steady stream immediately started flowing. She put another one on and Emily held up the trash can for her to add the gauze to the small pile already in it. "We're going to the hospital," he said.

"Stephanie come here," Selina said. She made Stephanie put on gloves and then hold the gauze. "I have something I have to do. I'll meet you at the hospital." She grabbed the guy that Bruce had barely noticed by the arm and dragged him out of the room. He helped Tim to his feet and even though his shoulder was screaming at him, he helped him walk to the elevator. Emily handed Stephanie keys and sent them to the parking garage. 

Tim tucked himself in his lap in the back seat. Stephanie asked if they were buckled up in a high voice. He pulled Tim closer and told her to go. Tim looked like he had fallen asleep as they sat in traffic a block from the hospital. Bruce changed gauzes, and when he checked Tim's eyes were open as he stared straight ahead. He moved him so that he could look at his face and pulled the first aid kit closer. He wiped carefully at the blood drying on Tim's neck and jaw. Tim watched him work, but didn't say anything. Bruce didn't know what to say. He couldn't stop thinking about Tim jokingly saying he didn't need a bodyguard just the day before. 

He waited until they had taken Tim down to get xrays to ask what had happened. Stephanie relayed the story, her voice cracked as she said what they had tried to make Tim do. He tugged her in and she leaned against him, her breath shaky and quick. 

"He'll be okay," he said. Stephanie pulled her legs up and laid down with her head in his lap. They'd admitted Tim immediately, forgoing the ER. He knew it was his name, and the fact that it hung on a wing of the hospital that had Tim skipping a few steps in the process. Bruce couldn't say he minded, but it also meant that they couldn't see him. He stared at the single door that kept them from Tim and wanted to push past it. He wanted to find Tim and hold him. 

Selina walked in with an officer. She looked murderous and for a second he wondered what she'd done. "Stephanie he'd like to speak with you." 

It was hours until they let them back with the promise that they could take him home. Tim had gotten stitches in both his eyebrow and the inside of his lip. His eyes were swollen and bruised, making the blue of them so much brighter. His hand was in a bright orange cast. He had bruised ribs, and a wrap around his ankle. 

Tim leaned against his shoulder as they waited for Selina to bring the car around. Stephanie had gone home with the boy from earlier. He wished he'd asked who he was, but the doctor had walked out the door as they left. 

"We're a pair right now," Tim said pulling lightly on the fabric of his sling. 

"You look-," he hesitated and touched the side of Tim's face. He looked good, but he didn't like the bruises on his skin. He didn't want them to ever be there again. 

"I look like the woman from a lifetime movie." 

"That would be a great headline," he replied flatly. He could see it now plastered on the front page of every newspaper and the top talking point. And right after the fiasco of the Lane's article...His skin crawled. He tugged Tim closer until he was tucked into the crook of his shoulder. 

"Let's get you home," he said as Selina stopped in front of them. 

Tim moved around the apartment slowly, limping on his ankle. He couldn't seem to decide where he wanted to be. Finally he stopped at the end of the bed and looked at Bruce. 

"I want to take a bath," Tim said making a face, then wincing at the way it pulled. 

"I can get one started." He was careful as he adjusted the temperature of the water until it was just the side of too hot. He didn't know how Tim still had skin, but he knew how hot he liked his showers. Tim was struggling to tie a plastic bag around his cast. He finished it for him before helping Tim to the tub. They didn't need him falling as well. 

Once Tim was settled in the tub, cast propped comfortably on the side he stood to give him his privacy. Tim caught his arm. He looked up at Bruce. "Will you stay?" He nodded and sat back down on the edge. "You can-" He couldn't tell if the pink of Tim's cheek was from embarrassment or the heat. "Join me."

He kissed Tim's hair and got out of his clothes. He climbed in awkwardly and slid behind Tim. As soon as he settled Tim laid back against him, his head resting on his uninjured shoulder. 

"I don't know why someone would do that," Tim said, his eyes were still closed.

Bruce pressed their heads together. "I don't have an answer." Tim ran his good hand up and down Bruce's arm where it was wrapped around his middle. "But I'm glad you're okay."

"I punched him in the dick," Tim said. He felt his chest shake. He turned to look at him and realized Tim was laughing. "The way it moved." He could hear Tim's laughter clearly now. 

"Selina said he threw up," Bruce commented. 

"My first broken bone was from punching a dude's dick." Tim chuckled, then went quiet. Bruce rubbed a hand down Tim's arm to the edges of the cast. 

"I can teach you how to throw a punch so you won't break yourself," he said and pressed a kiss to Tim's cheek. 

The water started to grow cold and Tim kicked on the hot water again. He ran the shampoo through his hair, careful not to let it sink down onto his face. Tim looked up at him as Bruce rinsed out the suds. He maneuvered Tim so he was facing him as he laid back against the opposite side of the tub. He washed his feet, and kissed the faint bruise of his swollen ankle. He moved up his calf and was gentle over the bruises and scrapes on his knees. He forced himself to stay calm as he moved up Tim's thigh. He brushed the rag over his stomach and carefully washed his chest. Tim's breath hitched as he brushed over his bruised ribs. Dark bruises had already formed on Tim's pale skin. He worked down one arm, then the other, careful with the cast. Tim's eyes were lidded when he reached his shoulders. He shifted him so that he was sitting closer and he rang out the rag. He tilted Tim's head back carefully and wiped it across his neck. Tim's eyes closed. There was still some flaky blood on his skin. He kept his touch light. When he was done he dropped the rag back into the water, and pushed Tim's hair back from his face. 

"You're so beautiful." Tim's eyes cracked open. Bruce rubbed his thumb over his cheek as he looked at him. "And brave." Tim's hand covered his. "And strong." 

"Kiss me," Tim whispered. He didn't make Tim wait. He leaned forward and their lips brushed against each other. Tim made a noise. He moved so that Tim was sitting in his lap, their lips moving lazily against each other. Tim's hand trailed down his arm before he pulled Bruce's hand down beneath the water. He pulled away and looked at Tim's face. His eyes were focused on him and his mouth was swollen. "Please," Tim said. He kissed him again as he wrapped his hand around Tim. He moved slowly and accepted every gasp and noise that Tim placed against his lips. "I love you," Tim breathed. Bruce swallowed those words and flicked his wrist. Tim cried out as he came and felt the hard whack of the cast against his shoulder. He made sure that Tim was clean as he laid boneless against his chest. Bruce watched the water drain. Tim mostly walked on his own back to bed after letting Bruce get him into a shirt and some underwear. He crawled in after him and wrapped Tim up in his arms. 

-

He made every breakfast food he could think of the next morning. Tim limped out and sank onto the kitchen stool and watched him as he flipped the last pancake. 

"Are we having visitors?" Tim asked looking at the array of plates. He set the last of the plates down and sat down next to Tim. 

"No." 

Tim looked at him, then slowly smiled. "You went a little overboard," Tim said and tugged him in for a kiss. "But thank you." 

They barely ate half of the food before Bruce had to head to work. He offered to stay and work from home, but Tim told him that Stephanie was going to come over and they were going to finish eating all this and watch some trash TV. 

Selina had left copies of the police reports in a file on his desk. He read through them before shoving them into a drawer and focusing on his email and not the burning rage under his skin. The Gazette had posted an article about it before he'd even left for the day. He read through the article, it was simple and only held facts. He made the mistake of scrolling past the end and he read the first comment. 

 

Unknown User:

"How convenient that he's attacked a few days after facing the accusations that he faked his match. Trying to play the sympathy card?" 

 

There were comments underneath it, a few furious that they'd say that. A few that agreed. He was fuming by the time he left, and his anger had barely cooled any by the time the driver was letting him out in front of his building. 

Tim was curled up in a blanket asleep on the couch when he got home and the anger flared. He didn't know how people could be so heartless. 

He opened his phone to send Selina a message about the comments he saw, but the link to the Planet's article sat at the top of the screen. 

He closed out of the thread and scrolled up. He hit call and stepped into his office with one last look at Tim. 

-

Tim's professors were understanding when he reached out to ask if there was any way that he could take his finals early. It was only the middle of November, but they all agreed. He knew that it had been the school's decision. They'd had to increase security to keep photographers off the campus. Stephanie had told Tim all about it, then told him about her date. Bruce had tuned her out when she started sighing about how tall he was.

Tim's bruises faded. He got his stitches removed. The scar in his eyebrow was Bruce's favorite spot to kiss. Tim stifled a laugh against his chest every time. He still wrapped his ankle, but barely limped. 

Bruce replied to an email and set his phone down when Tim threw his hands in the air and cheered. 

"I am officially done with this semester. My last paper has been submitted. Dobby is free!" Tim cooed and flopped back onto the bed. The laptop slid precariously close to the edge, but Tim grabbed it and swung it to the floor. 

"We should go somewhere and celebrate." 

"Like dinner? I don't think anywhere is open right now." 

"No, like away. Let's go on a vacation. Get away from all of this and reset. Spend some time together not worrying about anything, just getting to know each other better," he said and trailed a finger down Tim's chest. He watched him blush and kissed him. 

"Somewhere with no phones. No wifi," Tim said with a sigh as Bruce pulled his shirt over his head. 

"I was hoping you needed to be convinced," he said and bit at Tim's stomach. Tim huffed a startled laugh. 

"Oh. You mean somewhere with no phones or wifi? That doesn't sound like heaven at all," Tim replied. Bruce laughed against his hip.

Chapter Text

Tim laughed as he dragged Bruce down the street. "You know it will bother you if you don't take care of it. The whole point of this vacation is to get away." 

"It'll take five minutes," he promised. Tim rolled his eyes and held open the door for him. Tim shooed him off to the elevator and stayed to talk with Alexandra. 

"That was the longest five minutes of my life," Tim said as he walked out of the elevator. His five minutes had turned into fifteen and would have continued if not for Emily telling him that she could finish the rest and to leave or she'd call security. 

"Time flies when you're running a multinational company," he answered jovially and held open the door for Tim. 

He saw a blur out of the corner of his eye before his shoulder was getting shoved and a stack of papers was pushed into his face. 

"What is this?" He recognized the voice. He pushed the paper away and glanced at Tim who looked startled. 

"You can ask your lawyer," he replied and took Tim's hand. 

"You're suing me?" 

Tim was watching him, waiting for any of this to make sense. He stopped and looked back at the woman. His lawyers had told him not to talk to her, but she wasn't going to give up, they had three blocks before they got back to the car. 

"You know that I am," he told her and tapped the pages in her hand.

"You're so petty," Lois hissed. 

"Me? I'm petty? I'm not the one harassing my husband's ex. You went too far this time." 

"You know your match is-" 

"Lex Corp and Kord Industries have both confirmed that while yes our match was caused by an error that kept my profile in the system it is a confirmed 98% match. You're aware that my match with Clark was the product of a similar error." She looked furious when he smiled at her. "Tim lost his job, had to test out of his classes for the semester, and that isn't to mention the physical damages that your article directly caused. So no, I am not being petty." Tim squeezed his hand. "Excuse us, we're running late." 

Lois was at a loss for words for probably the first time in her life. 

"It was nice to meet you, Ms. Lane," Tim said. Bruce shot him a disbelieving look as they walked away. 

-

Tim didn't ask about Lois Lane. He didn't have too. Clark had still been on Bruce's list when they got matched pending deletion, he guessed, on his marriage to Lois. And at the time Tim didn't care about that because there was no point. He stared out the window and waited until they made it out of Gotham to bring up their encounter. "You didn't have to do that," he said softly. Bruce kept his eyes on the road. It had started to snow when they got out of the city and he was determined to make it to the cabin before it stuck. 

"I did," he told him curtly but not harshly. "She has been after me ever since she got her match. And that's fine. But I'm not going to sit back and let her keep writing if it means you'll be attacked again." He pulled Tim's still casted hand to his lips and kissed the fingers that weren't trapped together. "I won't lose you because of her propaganda."

Tim was quiet for a minute, letting Bruce stew in his thoughts until finally his curiosity got the better of him and he had to ask, "What happened? With you and her match?" He didn't like the way that Bruce was watching the road. His shoulders were too stiff and his mouth too think. He wished that they were out of the car so that he could rub his hands down his back and work the tension out of him. But Bruce was still holding his casted hand. He squeezed with his free fingers and Bruce eventually sighed. 

"Our match isn't the first time the system glitched on my profile," Bruce admitted into the snow, letting Tim watch his sharp features without interruption. "A little over three years ago when my matches weren't getting any better, Clark popped up on my profile. It was only 27 percent and I had only been pursuing heterosexual relationships so I was surprised, but Clark was handsome and he seemed intelligent, and his matches were as bad as mine. So I reached out. And we met." He stopped and cast a sideways glance at Tim like he was uncomfortable talking about this. And as much as Tim wanted to be okay with all of it and let Bruce talk, the way he had started felt so different from all the others Bruce had told him about. And the fact that he had never mentioned Clark before at all… it made Tim's stomach turn slightly. He nodded and looked down at their hands. 

"We took our time, but he was still so young. I was five years older and he was just starting school in Metropolis so I was pretty sure it wasn't going to go anywhere. But he kept calling. And making trips to see me. And so I would go see him. And it really started to feel like maybe that would be it for us, maybe we would just be low matched like Dick and Barbara, but then Lois aged in. And he sent me a message to tell me he had a 75 percent."

Tim swallowed in the mess of feelings swirling around in his chest. "Do you…" he cleared his throat. "Still talk to him?"

Bruce shot him a perplexed look and said, "Not once after that message. I hear he's a reporter now. And I saw his and Lois wedding announcement in the Daily Planet."

But something didn't feel right about that. He couldn't help but think about all the malice in Lois' voice when she threw the papers in Bruce's face. Why would she be so angry if Bruce was completely out of their life? What if Clark still talked about him? If he came back what would Bruce do? 

Jealousy was a stupid and ugly feeling in the pit of his stomach that made the three hour drive feel much longer than it should have. They were mostly quiet after that and Tim stared out of the window stewing in ugly thoughts unable to shake the image of Clark Kent's beautiful face next to Bruce's. And how they could have been happy together if they had pulled a Dick and Barbara and got married on the spot. 

The snow was just starting to stick when they pulled up to the cabin. There was a fire raging inside already, and as soon as they opened the door, the warmth washed over Tim like a blanket. There was a note from the caretaker that told them that the fridge was fully stocked and everything was clean and Tim stood in the entrance just looking at everything while Bruce went to put their bags in the bedroom. He took that time to look around and try to shake the jealousy that was still in his stomach. Clark had been exactly like Tim. An accident. Young. Only their match had been so low that Bruce had to have wanted to pursue him. Not forced to because they'd had a record breaking match.

"Are you okay?" Bruce asked startling Tim out of his head. He was standing next to the fire watching the little licks of blue in the center. 

"Yeah," he assured him and pushed a smile, reminding himself that he was excited to be there and be alone with Bruce for once. "I'm just cold," he told him and shivered for good measure. 

"I could warm you up," Bruce offered with a little smirk, walking over to meet him. He kissed at Tim's neck and a new tightness in his stomach reminded him why he had been nervous about the trip before the ride. And the shop that Stephanie had forced them into before they left. 

"I-I think I want to take a shower?" He said hating the way his voice cracked. "Just give me ten minutes?" He scurried off to let the warm water beat out his panic. 

Bruce watched Tim run away from him. He had been surprised when Tim had sat down across from him and said, "I want to have sex with you." It wasn't the fact that he did that surprised him, it was that he was saying it outloud. Tim had crawled into his lap while he was working more times than he could count now, but any time Bruce asked him what he wanted Tim's skin blossomed with blush and he wouldn't meet his eyes. He had dropped his spoon back into his bowl of oatmeal and had stuttered out an 'okay'. Tim had smiled, then frowned as he looked down at his hand. By the end of breakfast Tim's face was red and they had a single thing they knew that they were doing during their vacation. Bruce had taken Tim's hand and smiled at the bullet list that covered palm. He knew that Tim and Stephanie had to have practiced the conversation. He kissed his palm and told him that if it didn't work out then they would find another time and Tim had nodded and the wild look in his eyes had eased. 

He moved around the cabin trying to remember where everything was. It had been a while since he'd come out. It was an old property that his grandfather had used for hunting. His dad had never had a taste for it and Bruce hadn't either, so they rarely used it. But the land was beautiful and when his mother was feeling good he knew that they'd come up and enjoy the fresh air. 

Bruce started making dinner and when Tim walked out he still looked less tense than he had when they had first gotten there. He walked up next to him and spied on the pot like he always did. Bruce hugged him to his side and kissed his still damp hair. "I thought I'd make some soup to keep you warm." 

Tim tugged on his collar and Bruce leaned down and Tim popped up to kiss him properly. He showed Tim around the cabin while the soup was simmering. 

Tim stopped him when he headed back downstairs. 

"What is this?" he asked pointing to a framed photo on the wall. "Is this you?" It was Bruce in camouflage holding a fish with a disgusted expression.

"Oh. Yeah. It was the first time I came up here."

"You look miserable," Tim said. "Do you not like fishing?" 

"My grandfather wouldn't let me talk and we just sat on the boat for hours. It was boring and the fish was slimy." Tim laughed. 

"Your mom is gorgeous," Tim said. The picture next to it was his parents when his mom was pregnant with him. They were laughing and his dad was covered in mud. "They look so happy." Tim's face went soft. He took his hand and tugged lightly to get him moving back down the stairs. 

They ate and Bruce let Tim pull him to the bedroom. They kissed until yawns broke them apart. Tim looked tense again when he got back from the bathroom. He crawled back in the bed and pulled Tim closer. 

"We're not going to do anything you don't want to," he said and kissed Tim's hair. 

"That's not-" Tim paused and shook his head as he settled against his side. Tim hummed and tucked his head against his chest. 

"What's wrong?" Bruce asked. Tim's hand clenched the fabric of his sleep shirt and if he hadn't already thought something was wrong this would have confirmed it. "Tim. If this isn't-" 

"Do you want to be with me?" 

"Yes," he breathed. "Yes," he repeated and rolled over to look at Tim. "Why would you think I didn't?" 

"You never said anything about Clark. I thought that maybe you still-" Tim cut himself off and looked up at Bruce. He could see the vulnerability and doubt that he had been trying to hide. 

"No," he whispered. He wanted to kiss Tim, to show him how much he wanted him, how much he cared, but he thought he'd been doing that the entire time. He thought Tim knew. "I should have--I'm sorry," he kissed Tim lightly. "You know my parents were a high match. They wanted that for me too. I think it hurt them that I didn't have any. I was eighteen, so I didn't really care. I had doubts, like most people do, that this whole thing even worked." He brushed Tim's hair away from his face. 

"Then I met Selina. She changed everything. I thought I had been in love before, but it was nothing compared to her. My parents hated her, they thought that I was going to make what was a mistake in their eyes and settle for a low match. I think I loved her the moment I met her, even before we'd matched. But even with the strength of that emotion it wasn't enough to overcome how different we wanted our lives to be." He offered up a half hearted smile. "I want a family more than I've ever said before." 

"Is that why?" Tim asked his voice quiet. 

"She has her reasons and I wouldn't want to change her mind. To force into something she didn't want just to make me happy." He hugged Tim. "But I-" Bruce hesitated. "I was lonely. So I messaged my matches. I knew that there would be something that ended the relationship, but even then I didn't want to give up on trying. I got my best friend out of my highest match maybe I could find another. Then I got matched with Clark right after my 22nd birthday. I already told you how that ended." He sighed. "It hurt. More than I'd expected. I think it was because I had let myself believe that the system was wrong. That I was happier than I'd been before and Clark and I-" He chuckled it felt hollow in his chest. "We argued all of the time. Little things, unimportant things. Sometimes I think we argued just to do it. It wasn't until we broke up that I realized how tired I was all the time. I didn't want to fight every time that we ate dinner. Or over what damn tie to wear." 

"I stopped trying after that. I only had a year left in the system. So it didn't matter. I knew as soon as I aged out that I would wait until I hit the deadline and I would marry whoever was left." 

"Selina?" Tim asked. 

"We never talked about it, but probably."

"So I'm whoever was left?" Bruce sat up at the hurt in Tim's voice. 

"No. Not at all." He took Tim's face in his hands and waited until he looked at him. "If I'd been a few years younger, even if our match had been low, I would have wanted to meet you, to date you. I still would have fallen in love with you."

Tim felt like his chest was about to rip open, the blood rushing to his face making it roar behind his ears and he could barely breathe as he asked, "Y-you love me?" 

And Bruce kissed him hard, the face that he made looking almost painful. "Of course I love you," he said against his mouth and then kissed him again. "I think I loved you since the first time you wrote me a letter. I saw that little doodle of a bee and I was done for. I was so lost on people for such a long time and then you threw that coffee at me-"

"I did not throw it at you-"

"-and pushed your way into every part of my life that was empty." Bruce finished as if he hadn't been interrupted. "You made my world feel full again. And fun. And easy. And I love you, Timothy Drake." 

Tim kissed him. He had too. His heart felt too full for words that he knew wouldn't be enough. He thought that maybe that was why people wrote songs. Because even though he knew his voice was absolutely horrible, in that moment Tim felt like he could sing. 

"I love you," he whispered each time that he came up for breath until he could feel the vibration of Bruce laughing against his chest, racking up his own exhilaration. 

His heart was thumping when they broke apart, Tim looking into Bruce eyes that were almost perfectly azure blue. He had never been as sure of anything as he was in the color of Bruce's eyes. Eyes he knew better than his own. Eyes he could read from across a room. He wanted to look at those eyes for the rest of his life as long as they were looking at him like this. His hands were shaking slightly when he pushed at Bruce's shirt until his fingers were on his skin and it was sliding upwards. "Tim…" Bruce muttered in question. 

"I want to," he told him. Tim bit his lip. He wanted to so badly that he almost felt sick in anticipation. 

Bruce didn't let him stew in it. The next kiss was soft, sucking Tim's bottom lip between Bruce's as he slowly built their way back into the heat. He pulled Tim's shirt off and tossed it away, his hands moving down to his ass so that he could grind Tim against him. He bit hard on Bruce's lip, surprised by the friction and Bruce made a noise from deep in his throat before he turned Tim into the mattress. Tim chased after him when he pulled away. He kissed down his body, skipping over the spot that Tim most wanted his attention. He let out a groan and Bruce scratched down his legs, taking his boxers with him. He kissed his inner thigh and pushed Tim's legs apart. 

Tim's chest was heaving but he pushed himself up onto his elbows to watch as Bruce wet his lips and pressed them against him. He fell back, warmth and climbing up his spine in an instant. They had done this enough times that he knew what was coming next and he was practically panting in want of it. Bruce pulled away from him and Tim sat up as he watched him climb off the bed and walk over to his bag. He pulled out a small bottle and popped it open, squeezing lube into his palm before he dropped it back into the bag and and strutted back over to him. 

And Bruce's lips were over his again, his hand running up his dick, making him hard as a rock in two easy pumps. Then his hand moved lower. He pushed at his ass, one finger going in easily and slipping back out again over and over until Tim was rocking back against it. Bruce added a second finger and Tim gasped when he brushed against his prostate making his vision spot black with the stars in his eyes. 

"You are so beautiful," Bruce said, looking down at him, Tim holding onto his shoulders as the third finger went in. "Beautiful and mine," he almost growled and Tim's stomach twisted as he pushed deeper. His back arched off of the bed and he clung to Bruce when the fourth finger went in. It stung but the sting felt so good. And he-

"Ah," he gasped against his chest and pulled his face down to meet his again. "B, I need you. Please." 

Bruce bit down on his lip and looked down at his own erection, rubbing his slick palm over himself. He pulled Tim up and settled him into his lap, looking up at him through his long lashes. "I love you," he told Tim. And Tim believed him. As easily as breathing, he believed that Bruce loved him, because he had shown him. In every thing he had done, in every touch he had given he had shown Tim how much he loved him and Tim needed to say it back but there were still not words for exactly how he felt. So he pushed up into his knees and let his hands reach down for him. He found him slick in his hand and pulled him up until he was pressing against him. "Go slow," Bruce said kissing his forehead. Tim nodded and slowly pushed down. 

It hurt. More than he would have thought with how much preparation they'd had-- but Bruce whispered reassurances into his hair as he clung to him. Telling him how good he was doing. Reminding him that they could stop. When he was all the way down, he sat there panting for a moment, Bruce was biting his lip as he tried not to move. Tim moved up just slightly and back down and Bruce let out a groan that was unlike anything Tim had head from him. It made him move again and again until Bruce bucked up involuntarily and brushed against him in the most perfect way. Tim yelped and clung to Bruce, so he did it again and this time the stars were back and even though it still hurt he didn't care. Bruce moved into him, kissing him loving him until neither of them could take it anymore and they came apart in each other's arms. 

They spent the rest of the night talking. About everything. About the life that they wanted together, both of them surprised with how well their futures seemed to match up even though a computer had pretty much guaranteed it would. They talked about how many kids they would have. Where they would live. Bruce told Tim that he could come work for his company, they could run it together and he'd have his own assistant to throw coffee at. And of course that turned into a fight that they both laughed through. Neither of them relented. 

And even three years later when Tim was on his knee in front of Bruce waxing poetic about the fated day that his coffee fell through his fingers-- Bruce was still convinced that he threw it at him.