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The first time Damian calls him Richard instead of Grayson, it’s an inexplainable feeling to Dick. Somewhere between pride and unbridled joy. It’s a pure, innocent affection. Platonic, non sexual, non romantic adoration and appreciation for how far he’s come.

Something changes. It’s an invasive procedure. Damian probed inside him years ago, only he never escaped. He stayed inside and multiplied. Mutated until he consumed him. A chemical change he couldn’t possibly foresee. A silent, invisible sovereignty in his mind.

What makes Dick notice it isn’t a specific moment of clarity. It’s not when Damian’s half asleep, stumbling in the kitchen to feed his pets before school, not addressing Dick once as he sits, interrupted from the previous silence at the end of the dining table. It’s not even after that, when Damian fills his coffee while he gets himself a cup. It’s not the adorable patch of drool on his sleeve Dick had perceived, from where he leaned on it and fell asleep prior to Alfred coming to get him.

It could have been the evening on patrol Damian actually laughed at one of his jokes, for nearly a minute. He called him an idiot, told him to be serious, but Dick could barely hear it around the sound of Damian’s laughter imprinted on him, the precious juncture kept safe in his brain. It wasn’t the night Damian slept at his apartment and came in his room in the middle of the night, voice coarse, and Dick, repelling the sense of lechery he felt looking at Damian’s too red eyes and mouth swollen from biting on it, and the flush to the scars he could envision beneath the oversized shirt Dick lended him, where his collarbone peaked out from his shifting, asked him to stay. Damian had fallen back asleep within seconds, his cheek against his shoulder, and Dick wondered what sort of person he is, hoping to comfort Damian in an entirely different manner than he ever would have thought of before.

It was unsafe. Hazardous territory being in his apartment alone, with Damian who loves him and can’t say it, but shows it in ways more meaningful than any confession by anyone else could ever be. He was treading in a perilous position where he wants from Damian what he would never ask him to give.

Not even when Damian nearly died from a close call on a risky mission, had he realized it. Dick was beside him, helpless and hating himself more than ever, for questioning if he wasted the last of their time together bothering himself with trivialities like what exactly the label of their relationship is, and how much it aligns with what he hopes it as.

It was a pang at first. A muted pain he could avoid with diversions and distractions. Staring at Damian, bruised and losing consciousness, all he could do was hope and promise that if Damian stayed alive, he’d stay away from him. He’d never have the thought again. He wouldn’t soil this more than he already had.

On the medical table in the cave, blood escaping him with his breath, Damian, eyes lidded and glossy, losing life, mumbled, lucid to Alfred, “Grayson hit his head.”

Dick felt his heart sink, drowning in the guilt he submerged it in. Alfred softly gazed at Damian, exerting his attention to stopping the bleeding. He huffed, “I think you should be more worried about yourself, sir.”

Damian responded, delirious and confusing his tongue like he would when he was tired or compromised, and weakly furrowed his eyebrows, “Hayati… bidunih, la 'astatie albaqa' ealaa qayd alhayat.”

There’s no exact translation for the endearment Damian used to refer to him. It means life as a synonym to love. Hayati is life—the source of all things. As in he needs him; he is the reason; it is meaningless if they are apart.

He is my life. Without him, I cannot survive.

Dick wished that Damian’s tender words were in one of the languages he didn’t understand. It ripped him apart. It still does. Adding to that was Damian passing out, only after Alfred promised to examine Dick once he was finished with him.

In the end, Damian was fine. He survived like he always did, and Dick’s concussion left him to stare at Damian the entire night. Nothing mattered then. He held Damian’s hand, thinking to tease him when he woke up about his admission, and squeezed. All that mattered was they were alive. Both there and alive. His neck had stiffened, but he didn’t care, moving his fingers up the length of Damian’s arm, watching his fingertips dance over Damian’s skin, contrast to the lighter shade of his.

He didn’t know then and continues not to, if that’s when the puzzle happened to fit together, or if that was the last piece to complete it. Desires were bellowing in his head. From the moment Bruce came down to bring Damian a blanket, and lovingly stroke his cheek, to when he disappeared up the stairs after telling Dick to get some rest of his own, Dick fissured, and from him oozed an ache he couldn’t name. A thirst unable to be satisfied.

To do something similar to what Bruce had, watch him adoringly. To lay with him, shoving his nose into his throat and melt there. Or to kiss his hand, up his arm where his fingers moved, to the special tranquility of his face where he was sleeping, and feel the verisimilitude of his lips pressed onto his.

It was impolitic. Ill judged. Improper. An unbecoming fit of fervor. An infatuation, possibly. Like he was notorious for doing, he had a rush of feelings from the circumstance. It was nothing but that.

Because Dick loved Damian, they couldn’t. And because he loved Damian, he never would.

In those moments there was a hint of it, a warning under his skin, staring at Damian, in complete awe of him. He convinced himself it was that simple. Went home and continued living, persuading himself out of what refused to stay silent in his head. It was just once. A one off. An inappropriate thought, but it was fleeting. Damian is attractive. He’d have be blind not to notice the color consistency of Damian’s eyes when he’s really paying attention versus when he isn’t.

There’s a glimmer in them, when it comes to him. His thick, curly eyelashes framing the unbridled attention Damian gifts him. Dick would have to be blind, or mad— or perhaps he is mad— how deranged he is, desperately configuring Damian’s image in his head, the full, bewitching pink of his lips, smirking or filtering scorn and censure; the slope of his jaw to the wavy, rich, soft dark hair he rarely worries himself with, the angry arch of his brow telling Dick whenever he asks him.

In bed, he often wakes up, sweating, his head deluged with Damian, even with weeks behind him endeavoring to spend as much time apart as possible. Regardless of how much Dick misses him, and how much the ghost of his old feelings haunt him.

Dick never thought to ask Damian if he was seeing someone, or where his preferences swayed. His blood heats if he lets himself imagine it. He doesn’t want Damian to like anyone. Not then; he was too young. And not now; because now Dick wants him all to himself.

The creeping desire to protect Damian is still inside, and he’s in the midst of full frontal assault at the center of his brain. What he always wanted to do for Damian is keep him safe, and give him a chance in a world that didn’t. He didn’t expect to like the kid who made a threat on his life in the first place. He didn’t expect the kid who claimed he’d dethrone him and replace him, mercilessly, to admire him so much. To love him the way he does. To trust him; a personal first.

He’s not sure what’s worse. Is it that he’s his adoptive brother, his family? Or that he’s his Robin, his protege? Or that neither of those seem significant, juxtapose to the depth, to the perpetual fondness he feels for him?

Dick knows they’re close. Perhaps too close. Tim told him before— chided him about how strange and doting he was, and continued to be even while Damian’s voice deepened and he gradually became less stiff. 

Thoughts wander in the adrenaline fueled life they live. Dick has heard it before. How he looks, how others see him, the useless control he has over some because of his appearance. He hates the idea of being a thing, a physical manifestation and nothing else. He hates being looked at as a body rather than a person.

However, he’s dying to know what Damian thinks about the subject. If he’s ever looked at him like that. Like this. If he’s ever yearned for him, if he ever looked at his mentor—his Batman—and wanted.

That half thought combined with his hand always sends him over the edge. Damian looks up to him. He has for years. He doesn’t even realize how absolutely undeserving Dick is. Someone who can’t help himself from thinking it, indulging in it, and simmering inside the concept as his own personal ecstasy. Someone who lays in his apartment, cities away, imagining his little brother completely wrapped around him and gives in. Because no one but him has to know. The guilt is his.

He can handle that. It’s ok if he thinks it. Acting on it would make him wrong. He can’t blame the intrusive thoughts. Undesirable but sickeningly appealing. That he’s hoping Damian looks up to him still. That he wouldn’t care. That he’d like him even unprincipled. That he’d follow him no matter how deep he sunk.

The problem is not the lust, or the more concerning love. It’s the cognition that he’d break the rules for Damian. He’d give it all up if he asked him.

Nevertheless, Damian is young enough he’d change his mind. He’s young enough if they did somehow manage to be together, Damian would experience more, meet someone else, and forget all about him.

In that tricky spot between wicked and simply selfish, Dick finds himself lingering. What he doesn’t do is stay in Gotham. What he does is the rational, morally righteous thing. Stays away and swallows it.


 

The holidays mean an increased need for networking and business deals. Since Christmas, and into the new year, Dick has been coerced into the role of Bruce Wayne’s convivial and noble ward. Despite doing everything he can to avoid Damian and what he means to him, Dick is forced to spend vast amounts of time with him. Even in a crowded hall, a room full of the grandest and most exemplary inhabitants of Gotham, Dick can’t help his gaze from falling back to what he considers the sole fascinating person here, almost five feet five but could never quite make it, and hiding a sneer.

Normally, Bruce hates having these events at the manor, but he was roped into this one, and couldn’t find a way to get himself out of it without revealing what he can’t. Tedious hours of performance someone of even Dick’s caliber finds himself exhausted after, and Bruce calls him over and tasks him with what seems to be the worst assignment he’s been designated— locating the subject of his turmoil.

“Why me?” Dick bites back to him.

Bruce scowls to tell him his response is obvious enough it doesn’t need to be bothered with words. He slips away from him and into the crowd.

Dick runs a hand through his hair. To find Damian. To find Damian because Bruce asked him to. Because said person keeps disappearing. 

Endeavoring on the journey he’d rather go without, he gazes at faces around the room with no luck. His search leads him to the kitchen, to the dining hall, to the bathroom.

The second bathroom he checks he finds Damian in. He’s sitting on the sink, slumped back against the wall, staring at his phone in his hands. In his mouth is a lollipop, something Damian finds himself indulging in when he’s nervous or focused. Since Dick was the one who introduced him to candy, he knows what flavor he likely has; he hates all of them but the pink ones. He regrets that decision as he watches Damian mindlessly swirl it around in his mouth, unaware of his presence.

The dimples on his tilted face inform Dick he’s grinning at something on the device. Dick’s lips curve upward, a natural reaction to seeing Damian smile.

It withers in seconds. Dick’s mind flashes with why. Who he’s talking to. Who Damian likes enough to be smiling down at.

Damian’s head follows his eyes up as he notices him the very second Dick wants to disappear and spin on his feet to exit. “What?” he asks, yanking the stick from his mouth. He slides his phone in his pants and stares across the small space of the bathroom.

“Apparently you lack the ability to stay put,” Dick scolds him. “I was tasked with the very important mission of locating and returning you.”

Damian clicks his tongue and hops down from his spot on the sink. Walking to the trash, he tosses in the remnants of his candy and plants himself in front of Dick. “Father is infuriatingly tense from having strangers in his house,” he jeers, “I was only gone for a second.”

“You know better than anyone a second out there is like hours.”

“I wouldn’t be here at all if it was an option,” Damian states, blandly, shrugging. “I bored of this a while ago.” He raises an eyebrow. “Even you must grow tired of conversation devoid of any meaning.”

“Just means I don’t have to think too hard about my answers,” Dick jests, mouth curving into a smile. He takes a step back and sits on the edge of the sink. “I know you despise it, but you still have to play nice and participate.” He lifts his hand and pinches the skin of Damian’s cheek, the same way he’d tease him when he was younger. The touch involuntary turns to a caress, his fingers lingering far after they should.

Damian’s annoyance at his behavior turns to a muffled shock. It’s subtle, indistinct enough Dick perceives it solely because he has memorized each of Damian’s expressions.

He stares for a moment, undecided. “I’ve never been very nice.” Before Dick can dodge him, or move to a safer position, Damian places his body right up against his. “Nobody here knows that you aren’t, either.”

Dick’s mouth parts. He’s about to dispute Damian’s claims, or make a joke about the insult, but Damian lays his flattened hand on his chest. They both stare at it’s spot over his suit. Dick’s glances at Damian’s hair inches below him.

Shifting his head, Damian meets his eyes. They’ve been this close before, in combat. During a spar. Sleeping beside each other. But not like this. Not close enough for Dick to smell the champagne Damian must’ve snuck on his tongue. He can’t think about anything but that. The scent of alcohol, muted by a sweeter one, combined with his cologne. The taste he must have—

The reeling thoughts in his head disappear. It goes blank except for the details in front of him. Damian blinks, staring at his adjacent mouth, and flickers his eyes up to him. “Do you want to kiss me?”

If he thought his mind was blank prior, hearing Damian’s sincere inquiry turns it into a barren, hollow void where some enlightenment should be helping him. He gapes at Damian, waiting for a sign. A hint. An ulterior motive from him, and gets nothing but his green eyes, studying him patiently.

Dick is shaking, nerve to nerve, head to toe, his voice following suit. “You’re not seriously asking me that,” he tries, the sound wavering so much it has to be obvious.

“If I’m not, does that make this easier?” Damian instantly responds, a dulcet layer to his goad. Even exposed like this, Damian can’t help himself from challenging him. Daring him for answers Dick isn’t prepared to provide.

Either way, Dick will have to confront him. Damian has placed him in an impossible spot. “I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but this is definitely not why I came in here.”

“I’m not trying to do anything,” he pauses for a long moment, searching for the answer. His eyes dart sideways, then back to him. “It’s the rational next step to our relationship.”

Dick’s loses whatever sense he had floating around. It’s the what to our what?

“Definitely not,” Dick snarls. He fully stands to shove him off, but Damian moves with him. “Come on, Damian.” Damian keeps his arms wrapped around his neck, staring up at him, leaning on him. “I’ve known you since you were ten.”

“I’m not ten anymore,” he says. “I’d also argue how much I was then.”

Dick doesn’t say anything. He’d not sure what to. It’s not that it’s unexpected, but the candidness, the place, the moment in time, steals away what he planned to say if this outcome ever came to fruition.

“Age of consent is sixteen in Gotham,” Damian adds.

Damian isn’t even sixteen anymore. He turned seventeen in the fall. That wouldn’t be a problem, if Dick himself wasn’t going to be twenty nine in a few months, when winter ends and spring dawns. He’s nearly half his age.

Dick feels a strange remorse. Sixteen is probably when he first considered it. When his affection melded, irremediably. It wasn’t intentional. Initially, it had been veneration, pride, and overprotectiveness. Succeeding that, the protectiveness Dick felt over the boy he took in swelled and converted into possessiveness; an envious, deprived need he can’t rid himself of.

Dick grimaces. Damian’s diligent and observant. He must have noticed. Of course he figured it out. He knows Dick better than he knows himself.

In order to do what’s right, Dick has to destroy it. Squash it at the source. “While that is more than mildly concerning, it in no way dispels me.”

He scoffs. “Will anything?” The hands on his body are dangerous, teetering from a tease to a threat. Damian’s eyes burn. “This isn’t even about me.”

“Who else would it be about?” he says, too aggressive, refusing to look at Damian regardless of their proximity.

“You.” Dick finally risks a gaze, incapable of looking away. “Do you know why you are unable to be satisfied with your romantic entanglements? It’s because you never ask for what you really need.”

“You seem to think you know everything,” Dick pushes back against him, not allowing him to win. “What is it you think I really need?”

“You hide many parts of yourself. You are very skilled at it… You make those you are with, even these people, think they know you, but you fail to reveal anything about yourself that’s uncomfortable. Real.”

Dick huffs, glaring. “That’s a facile assessment.”

“It’s a view, not a fact. I want you to answer the question like you would if you were thinking only for yourself, rather than for every other person.” Damian slides his fingers in his lapel. “It’s just us,” he says. “You’re insistent about the importance of honesty. Do those rules not apply to you as well?”

Dick frowns. “Damian… Of course I’d be lying if I said I’ve never thought about it— but that’s just a thought. It doesn’t mean I should…”

“Act on your desire?” Damian softens his voice, whispering. “Your intentions are very noble… but a lie is a lie regardless of its constituents.” He briefly stops. “It’s not like anyone would find out.”

“That’s exactly the problem. If it’s something to keep a secret, from them, from everyone, it isn’t something we should be doing. If no one can know, it's not right.”

“No one can know I’m Robin, or you're Nightwing, or that Father has probably at some point helped half the people here. Does that mean it’s wrong?”

Dick feels himself getting angry. What did he expect with someone as stubborn as Damian? “Completely different. They can’t even be compared. This type of lying would be for my own selfish reasons. Reasons that I know better than to even indulge in. It’s unjustifiable.” He removes himself from Damian and takes a step back. “We aren’t doing this. We aren’t ever going to. Please tell me you understand.”

He crosses his arms, scowling at him. “It’s not that I don’t understand, Richard, I disagree.”

“Well, you’re still underage and also have been drinking, so you no longer have the right to an opinion.” Dick turns around and keeps his back to Damian. He glances at him over his shoulder. “And don’t scold me like you’re not hiding just as much as I am.”

He leaves Damian there, keeping the door open so he has no choice but to return.

 

It’s close to an hour later. The event begins to come to an end, guests dwindling and engagement waning. Even with the self reproach gnawing inside him, matched by the disgrace Dick feels tainting his every word and reaction, Dick can’t stop his eyes from traveling back to Damian. He watches him plod over to his father, speak with him for a couple minutes, then walk towards the entrance to the stairs.

Losing his motivation to be surreptitious, Dick copies Damian exactly, telling Bruce he’s going upstairs to talk to Damian, and following him up to his bedroom. The door closes by the time he reaches it. He opens it again without knocking.

Damian turns to him and says nothing. He looks a bit unsteady. The jacket of his suit is already off, his tie missing with it.

Dick says equally nothing. They stare at each other as Dick closes the door, locks it, and steps into the room.

Surprisingly, it is Damian who breaks the silence. “I miss you when you’re gone,” he says, hushed. “I wish… you had a reason to stay. I think I messed up. You now have another reason to go instead of the opposite… That was not my intention.”

Fuck, he likes Damian, likes him so much, too much, that what he claimed was a fleeting thought earlier, is instead a series of them, a continuous what if— a turbulent confusion and confession, eating the inside of his brain. Their link, their partnership, their confederacy has become harder and harder to define over the years, and now it’s incomparable to how it was. It’s his fault for not being clearer. For not setting boundaries. For not ensuring Damian understood this was not an option.

“I always miss you. All the time,” Dick says, in peril.

Damian glares at him. “It’s your fault. You’ve been distant lately. I had assumed…” Damian doesn’t continue. He flusters for a millisecond. Dick thinks it’s impossibly adorable. “You are confusing… I incorrectly judged the situation.” Damian fiddles with the cuff of his sleeve. “I believe it is best I found out now that you don’t feel the same.”

Against Dick’s unfluctuating, determined morals, he divulges what’s close to an admission.“It’s not that I don’t, it’s…”

Dick sits on the bed. Damian stays put, feet away. Dick stares at him. He can’t read Damian. For the first time in his life, he has no clue what he’s thinking.

“Well… something changed,” Damian says. He’s set on getting an answer of some kind. He observes Dick closely, for disparate reasons, but he discerned instantly his change in attitude. “I thought perhaps… it was the same as it was for me.”

“What do you mean, the same?” Dick asks, needing confirmation.

“Are you going to make me say it?” There’s a lour on Damian’s face. “Have I not been foolish enough?”

“You haven’t been foolish.” Dick can’t say it. Don’t say it. He can’t devote himself to Damian, Damian who has earned the world and not his strain of venom. For driving Damian to be so genuine and defenseless, it proves each of his concerns, his fears. It’s evidence of his corruption. “I never… realized.”

“I wasn’t going to tell you, if you didn’t—” Damian’s face reddens. A faint hue tints his cheeks. “Why did you come up here?” he asks, defensive.

“I’m sorry,” is Dick’s cheap next response. “I’m not…” he stutters, trying to make up his mind about how truthful he’s going to be. Contingent on the resolve Dick has to not let this happen, rivaled by the need to not destroy things with Damian entirely. “I’m not supposed to be an option.”

Damian doesn’t move or converse back to him. The stillness of the air is serpentine as Dick inhales and it enters his respiratory system. He can feel the blunder. Crawling all over his body. The wrong utterance. Implying Damian is incorrect for feeling when he spent years urging him into it.

“You get it… right? I’m so much older than you. Bruce is like my—”

“I get it,” Damian forces out. He clenches his jaw. “Please don’t feel obligated to continue.”

“You’re young,” Dick lands on. He hates what he says next, knowing he shouldn't as it comes. “You’ll meet a girl or something and forget about me.”

Damian is persistent, keeping his impassioned gaze on him. “I don’t like girls,” he states, definite. Dick wants to know every single detail of how he reached the conclusion.

“A boy, then,” he growls. “It doesn’t matter who. I don’t care who. Just not me. It can’t be me.”

Damian stops responding. He doesn’t speak until Dick shifts, indicating he’s about to move. “I’ve never wanted to kiss anyone else,” he confesses, his eyes glistening at him. “No one is worthy." The shine to them is pure, absolute vulnerability. Dick’s chest aches. Why does he have to look at him, like that, when Dick loves him so much he won’t be able to stop himself?

Dick is powerless against what he feels for Damian. He always has been. “This would be so wrong of me,” he blurts out. “That I’m even considering it means I’m not worthy of you at all.”

The small disclosure urges Damian to move closer. He stands in front of where Dick is sitting. He has to tilt a bit to see his face. “Because history assumes you would bed who’s appropriate? Tt.”

Damian smirks a little. Dick is unable to stop himself from grinning, despite the tension in the room. He chuckles, partially a sigh. “It has nothing to do with bedding you.”

“You aren’t breaking the law,” Damian replies, “Though when you do, you seem much less worried than this.”

He slowly breathes. “That’s because I’d rather kill myself than ever hurt you. This feels…” He hesitates for a second. “Close.”

“There is one thing I am certain of… The one thing that has never wavered while everything else did… I know you would never hurt me,” he says, so intense it neighbors a growl.

It’s undeniable. Damian loves him. Dick exhales months of stress. Damian trusted him enough to ask to kiss him, to know even if he truly had rejected him, he wouldn’t be brutal in his execution. Damian trusts him just as much alone in his bedroom, staring at him, not afraid of having the room stay silent. And in the backwards, roundabout way of his, Damian is saying he wishes he trusted himself as much. Because he has no doubt. Unconditionally, Damian believes him and believes in him.

Dick studies his silhouette. Damian is remarkable. Miraculously special. He traces up the length of his arm like he had when he first began to realize this was inevitable. He pulls Damian closer, urging him to sit on his lap. The intention is simply to hold him. To tell him it’s fine. To show him he cares, regardless of his stringent excuse.

Damian does what he wants, placing one knee on the bed beside his thigh, the other sliding against his outer hip. He’s less precise than usual as he slumps onto him and meets his eyes. As soon as the virescence of his irises stay on Dick’s, stocked with a raw, delicate, adoration, Dick identifies his lapse of rational thought. He can feel Damian’s hand, gently on his neck, keeping them close. “I thought you said we weren’t doing this.”

“Maybe I’m changing my mind,” he mumbles, grasping his legs, wrapping his hands around the bottom of his thighs. Control, he thinks, Bruce’s voice that’s turned to his, but he lost control the second he let Damian within touching distance. Dick hasn’t been able to ever control his hungry fingers, moving before his head does.

Tilting his head, he stops staring at his hand and instead focuses on the skin of Damian’s throat where his pulse must be going mad like Dick’s is. It must taste marvelous, the warm, soft area between his collar and jaw. Dick is dying to put his teeth there and find out the exact tang his blood has and kiss the dribbling substance from the shallow wound, making up for the fact he has to hurt him just to love him this much.

It’s so tempting. The evenness of his breathing. Movements of his shoulders as he exhales and stares at Dick in as far as he can tell is impassioned, the way it burns his cheeks so badly.

What Damian is staring at Dick, while Dick takes Damian in a different way, is what Dick feels like; a lovesick teenager. Damian can’t stop staring at the man below him, watching his face move. He’s tied between wanting to read it and figure out his thoughts and not caring to, just to look at him, his features, the curve of his nose, the deep, plush color of his lips, and yearn for who he loves like he can’t love another person. He tries not to hope, because that’s never gotten him anywhere.

“Or maybe I just want to sit here for a second,” Dick says. He knows it’s a lie as soon as it’s out.

The interval of lunacy every other part of Dick’s brain is trying to convince himself out of, doesn’t cease. It stays, solid, turning conjecture into something concrete. His heart is beating. He hears it in his ears. The warmth of Damian’s skin pacifies him, while leaving him helplessly overwrought, eager for more. Dick doesn’t dare to kiss him. With Damian sitting so close to his crotch, centimeters from feeling all his lies from the bathroom, he’s terrified. The idea of straying from safety, from his control on this situation makes him uneasy, a twinge coursing in his blood; faint regret overshadowed by stronger sentiments. His bottled feelings he’s been endeavoring to completely annihilate— since the one day looked over at Damian and he realized the devotion he has to him is unlike the ostensible kind he has for any other person— run over, and dislodge from the back of his heart, hidden there. The cognizance of the scale of his feelings for the kid he was trusted to protect, the one he still wants to, even as their noses brush, and he can practically absorb the edge of the fierce taste of his lips as they breathe together, he refused to let fester in his mind. He pushed down the thought. Damian’s had enough disappointments, enough let downs, he didn’t need to deal with finding out his Batman loves him in the way he’s not supposed to.

Having Damian on his lap and waiting for his move is symptomatic suicide. He’s terminating himself, slaughtering the part that would have destroyed who even dared to lay their gaze on the muddled ten year old suffocated by pressure. No one down stairs knows. They could not even comprehend it. Not Bruce nor Tim nor the many other guests and allies willing to attend this event. They would be enraged, seething by just the sight of Damian on him, close to touching, but not quite. Just the concept would be appalling to anyone else but the two of them. They would never even expect Dick to be committing a murder of his own in Damian’s bedroom upstairs, killing himself willingly for Damian.

In front of him, he can’t see that imperious, indignant kid, because he’s gone. The fear was shedded, fading in slow layers, as Damian has let himself become accustomed to being part of a group, of a team, of a family. At this moment, he’s still so assured, even with the prickles of doubt Dick sees in his eyes, the initial apprehension he’s never been able to rid himself of when it comes to opening up. That mouth of his hasn’t changed, that greed and that drive, and Dick is reveling in his presence and each of the special fragments that make up the unearthly being sitting above him, watching as his thumb caresses his face, moving before he consciously exhorts himself to.

It’s undeniable how much Dick hates himself. The same, unquestionable intensity forms his affection, and what’s winning is ardor and months of repression, shame, and doubting his sanity, loosened and molded back into what he has tried to hide since the glimpse, the tingle under his ribs to inform him that his attachment to Damian is less platonic than it was and he tried to keep it as. But they adapted to the circumstances, to the situations, to the hells they’ve lived in, and came out on the opposite side of what was innocent and kind with a completely different type of tenderness. It has to be this way. It was meant to. Meeting Damian all those years ago, working with him, fighting with him and loving him this whole time, seems like fortuity; a lucky set of accidents and impediments that structured their extraordinary, intricate link. And Dick knows then, seconds from tilting forward to increase their proximity, that he loves Damian more than he could ever hate himself for it, or either of them for chasing this rare and unrivaled feeling.

“This is quite unfair to do if you’re still attempting to reject me,” Damian says.

Dick stares at Damian and thinks he’s even more beautiful on his lap. He digs into his bottom lip with his teeth. What he wants is immeasurable. More and more each day. More each passing second he sits here on edge. “I think I’m being unfair either way.”

Damian is enraptured by the movement of his lips as words come out. Even as a sinner, his voice is divinely sweet. Damian conjectures he’s always going to be bad, because by the mistake he made falling for Dick, he must ruin him to get what he desires. “I don’t.”

Dick tilts forward, hearing the slight change of respiration when he kisses his cheekbone. The feel of Damian’s flushed cheek under his lips triggers a grim need from Dick. It’s not as if he wants Damian. If he did, he could stop himself. If it was desire, simple attraction or a succinct moment of passion, he wouldn’t be here at all. He would have had a responsible talk with Damian, tucked him in, stared at him too long like he always does, and went back to the party, using the sense he seems to have misplaced.

It’s a need. It’s a starvation. He’s been yearning for this intimacy from Damian, hoping he’d one day reach a place where he can be vulnerable with someone like this. He would never have imagined the person Damian would be baring himself to as him. This isn’t what he wanted. Not at all. Though so close to him, he can’t stop, the color of Damian’s lips reminding him it’s less of an impulse than it is ineludable.

The way Damian fits against him is as if they were crafted for one another and forced into this crazy world that makes him yearn for Damian this intensely, while failing to find a coherent, cerebral reason why he’s unable to stop himself from being selfish and taking what is being offered.

“I wish there was nothing else,” Dick says, cradling his face. He holds his head with his hands, keeping him level. Damian’s eyes pin him like the tip of a sword. Dick can’t help the emotion swimming in his own. “Just me and you.”

He leans in. The anticipation is glorious and unbearable. A breath separates them. He moves closer, his rectitude faltering. For a moment, they stay there. Breathing against each other, lips parted, simmering in the prolepsis. Damian stares at his mouth and he stares at his.

When they kiss, they move in tandem, Damian shifting the second he does. It’s a soft connection, a gentle pressure between them. He pulls back to tease and Damian chases him, tightening his hand around his nape.

Damian is inexperienced, and Dick languidly coaxes him into a deeper kiss. He’s perfect despite his nescience. Dick craves him so wholly. Damian is the only one who can satiate him.

Damian’s eyes stay closed as he recedes. Forehead to forehead, Dick can feel Damian’s eyelashes fluttering open ahead of his.

“Richard,” he tries, breathless. “I…”

“I know,” he says for him. He kisses him again.

Urgent, carnal heat manifests between them. He slowly slides his tongue beside Damian’s. Unhurried, he kisses him, consumed by it, biting at his lower lip, licking into his mouth.

The fabric of Damian’s suit jacket constricts in Dick’s hands when he squeezes down the thin, muscled permitter of his waist. He follows the shallow curve to his hips, and groans. Groans the second he notices his hands can wrap all the way around his hipbones and over, even with his slacks and belt impeding him.

Dick tightens his hands around his body and forces him forward, letting Damian finally feel how much he causes him to react.

A hand grasps his shoulder, followed by a shaky, almost silent moan. “You’re not indulging me,” he murmurs, querying.

“No.” Dick shoves him closer a second time to grind up into where Damian’s body converges with his. He nearly grunts. His lips brush Damian’s as they move in the shape of words. “Can’t exactly do this on command, either.”

The muffled giggle leaving Damian’s mouth has Dick needing like he never has before. “Then you were just pretending to be uninterested for the sake of being defiant?”

Dick kisses his jaw, follows the bone to his throat, beneath his ear, and places his tongue there. “I was trying to do the right thing.” He starts to suck a mark, retreating with his teeth. “Yes,” he groans. “I want to kiss you. I never want to stop kissing you. I don’t care how wrong it makes me. I surrender.” Dick beams against his mouth. “Be mine?”

“If you think I ever haven’t been yours, and you mine, you aren’t paying attention,” Damian says. “There’s only one man I will allow to touch me.”

“Oh?” Dick smirks. “And does he happen to be here? In this very room?”

“You wish.” Damian hides his burning cheeks in the slope of Dick’s neck. “It’s obviously the Senator. He came all the way from city hall to salute father for his altruism. I heard he just turned seventy.” Damian leans back and meets his eyes, glistening with mischief. He shrugs. “Too bad he’s married. You’re actually rather young for my usual tastes,” he leers at him, “If you ever reach seventy, I’ll let you penetrate me.”

“Jesus, Damian.” Leave it to Damian to say the word penetrate and not have it be unusual or uncharming. “I can’t wait that long,” he simpers, “How about sixty?”

Damian’s amusement illuminates his face. It slowly disappears as he speaks. “I’m aware how much younger I am than you. I’ve lived lifetimes. I don’t feel young. I never have. And I’m not and never have been naive. I’m not going to change my mind. There’s no one,” Damian’s hands travel up into Dick’s hair. “Not another person in the world.” He leans in. “And there never would be.”

Dick pulls him closer, though there’s barely a space between them. He kisses him as he shifts. “You’re very romantic, you know,” he muses, “Does that come natural, as a little prince?”

Damian softly sinks his teeth into Dick’s bottom lip. “It’s in my blood.” He runs his tongue along where his teeth were and leans in again.

Dick can’t get enough of Damian, seated on his lap, a bulge in his slacks from where he’s anticipating. The hands on his hips trace the length of his belt. They meet at the middle, and Dick gets it undone, slowly fingering at the button.

He takes his time unzipping his slacks. As he shifts, he rubs the outline of Damian’s erection, then shoves his hand in his open pants and curls his palm around the protrusion in his briefs. There’s a dark spot on the fabric, from where he’s already so eager.

Damian gasps at the contact. Dick makes a similar sound. Fingers impatient, Dick slides his hand out to breach the layer. He shoves the waistband of his underwear down and pulls him out, marveling at Damian’s size. He’s perfectly fit for Dick’s hand. The glistening tip peaks out of his fist as he grips him. He’s aching in his palm. He can tell Damian could shoot off any second. He feels Damian pulse in his hand as he rubs his thumb over it, and begins to stroke him.

“So perfect,” Dick doesn’t even realize he mumbles. He places his mouth on his neck. Damian’s hands run up his back, over his shoulder and down his lapel. He tugs on it. His cock brushes against Dick’s shirt.

Damian’s other hand slips into his hair. He leads him away from his throat, to his mouth.

“I want to feel you,” he speaks into his lips. Dick doesn’t think Damian realizes just what he does to him. He’s turning him on like he’s studied for each of his weak points, even though there’s no way he could know except the instinct he’s always had when it comes to him.

“Can I...” Damian starts to ask, resting his fingers over his waistband, waiting for his permission.

“Yeah,” Dick whispers, unable to find his voice. Damian doesn’t move. The restraint he’s showing is impressive, regardless of being so desperate, practically to the point of pleading. The face adjacent to his is attentive, not expecting denial or encouragement, but wanting, needing, his answer. Dick can’t help but throb at how sweet Damian is being. “Shit,” he mumbles, tightening his grip around his legs. “Whatever you want.”

Damian wastes no time, having his pants undone and his hand moving within seconds. Leaning away to watch, Dick see’s Damian’s eyes widen at the gift waiting for him. His hand feels so different from his. It’s soft. The smaller grasp moving up and down on his cock drives him insane.

Dick begins to unbutton Damian’s shirt, with Damian’s scorching eyes on him. He makes it to two when he loses focus and melts into the sensation. He rushes through the rest of the buttons, splaying his hand on his abdomen. His fingers languidly run down the bare skin he can’t resist acquainting himself with. 

Hips jerking, a noise escapes between Damian's clenched teeth. He fists his hand in Dick’s shirt for some sense of control.

Dick wants him to lose every ounce— needs him slackened and succumbing to pleasure. No masks, no lies, no distance, no space that separates them. As he moves his hand back up, drops reach his finger, exhorting him to harshly wrench his hand, just to tease.

Damian lets go of him. Fevered, he laps at the skin of his throat, subsequently nibbling on it, undoing his tie. He yanks Dick’s shirt from where it’s still trapped in his pants and slips his fingers between each of the buttons, undoing all of them. Dick holds his thigh and jolts up toward Damian’s warmth.

Damian grabs Dick’s hand, leading it away to place it on his hip. Dick moves his fingers side to side on his thigh in a carress. Damian wraps his fingers around him, leaving a small gap where he places his own cock. With no space between them, they sit shaft to shaft. Dick has a few inches on him. Right as he does, Damian notices the proportional difference and his breath catches.

His hips roll. He thrusts into his hand, over Dick’s arousal. The heat of Dick’s cock pulses up against his. His dick twitches, spasming back to his abs, spreading a streak of precum over them.

Using his own precum, he rubs his hand back down over the both of them, giving his grip a heavenly, slick sensation.

“You leak so much,” Dick states, enthralled, delirious. He feels himself start to drip, leak onto his own abs in anticipation. He normally doesn’t, but Damian has him on the verge of cumming just from staring at him. He can’t even recall when he’s felt this way before.

He’s loving for the first time with Damian. A new strain.

Dick’s thoughtless mumbling incomprehensibly works Damian up. His calm, careless voice, unfiltered, makes Damian’s eagerness evolve into needy, fiery desire. Damian grunts, gravely, continuing to grind forward as he strokes. Nodding, he massages their aching connection, and makes a sound mirroring a mewl.

Dick’s next utterance is a whisper. He grins, endearingly cloying. “Are you that excited to cum for me? I’m curious…” He drawls. “How many times have you finished,” his rapid breathing speeds up even more, “thinking of me?” The hand on his hip journeys up the side of his back. “Right here?”

Damian’s entire body is on fire. It’s not the stimulation, but the teasing that sends him over the edge. He rubs himself over Dick, pressing the head to knead his. He stops looking at Dick to watch himself ooze. Dampness trickles down the side of his cock as the foreskin shifts. He roughly humps the accumulating puddle, desperate to give Dick what he wants.

Cum dribbles out from the slit. Dick feels the pulse of Damian’s orgasm and throbs. Another wave spurts up to his sternum, Damian’s soft whimper of satiation echoing in the room.

Dick’s hands go to his back, caressing him through the euphoria. Damian tenses and keeps his hand wrapped around him, not moving.

Awareness hits him. It’s new territory for Damian and he has expectations about how it should go. Dick isn’t as shocked at how fast he came. Damian hasn’t touched another body before, felt another cock, and he’s as sensitive to touch now as he was when Dick would hug him and he would protest, but to his dismay, lean into the warm, positive contact.

“Stop teasing me,” he mumbles into Dick’s throat. His cheeks are burning at such a high temperature, he determines they must be severely flushed. “I can’t…” control myself.

“I really can’t bring myself to regret it right now,” he says. “How do you feel?” he asks, stroking his back under his shirt.

“Like I’m making it mortifyingly obvious I haven’t done this before.”

Dick chuckles. “That’s ok,” he reassures him. “Trust me when I say I couldn’t care less about myself right now. Nothing—seriously nothing feels better than just having you here,” he grunts. Damian squeezes, slowly lifts his wrist and repositions it on his chest. “And you’re even more irresistible now that I know how sensitive you are. I wonder how many times I could make you cum if I had you to myself all night.”

“You can,” Damian murmurs.

“Woefully so, I didn’t make my absence downstairs permanent. I’ll have to return,” he tells him, disgruntled. “Soon.”

“Soon,” Damian repeats. “But not yet.”

“Not yet,” he says.

Lifting Damian, Dick spins them around on the bed, and lays him over the mattress. A quick succession of hungry hands undress each other. Dick slides Damian's button up off his shoulders, tossing it away, and sinking his fingers into his waistband. The layer between them is restricting. He tears his pants from his legs. His hands stray to his ankles, travel up his calfs, and to his knees he holds and forces apart.

Damian’s hands journey down the back of his suit. They continue slivering from his lower back to the curve of his ass, under his unfastened pants, above his underwear. Damian pulls him closer by the soft grip of his hands fondling the firm muscle.

Shifting with him, he sits up and peels his shirt from him, clutching his biceps as he goes. Dick stands up to remove the rest. He instantly drifts back to him, his lips leading the effort.

Damian reclines back on the pillow, his wavy hair relaxing over the material. Dick slides his fingers in it. He traces the strands up to his skull, buries his fingers in his hair and tugs.

It’s a dream, Damian being here. The sensation of his smooth skin, his soft hair, softer lips and a delicate, avid cast to two gleams of bronzed jade; unfathomable.

Neck bared and craned, not only does Damian allow him, but leans with his pull. Dick cradles his head and forces his burning gaze to stay on him. He angles his head his way. He kisses him. He kisses under his jaw. He kisses each sliver of skin on his throat.

Dick lays himself in between his legs. He humps him, ruts forward toward the shape of his cock like he’s feral. Damian has barely lost his erection, partially hard even after finishing once.

The motions turn aggressive. Damian’s hand slips between his legs. He wraps his hand around him, thumb and forefinger encasing the base. He rubs from down up, curling his fingers to cover his girth, moving his hand up and and back down.

Dick grunts, then sinks his teeth in the side of his neck. “Tell me you’re mine,” he begs.

Damian keeps his stroke gentle. He applies just the right amount of pressure, has just the right grip around him. “Cum on me,” Damian says, instead.

He’s been Dick’s forever. He was the first person he belonged to. He was the first person he didn’t mind dominating his entire life.

Damian shifts a little harder, a little needier, a little meaner. Dick accepts him as he is, and moans at his grip, rather than scolding him for it. Dick is the only person he can’t live with letting down. To Damian, disappointing him is a worse punishment than death.

He’s loved Dick since he realized that was the strange feeling that made his heart emptier than it ever had been before, but also fuller. Once, it was respect. Simple admiration.

Dick’s muscles flex as he wavers between tense and unable to suppress shaking. The strain releases from his body, while pleasure reigns and he no longer holds himself back.

Damian is tantalized. He stares at his face, handsome and valorous on the outside, but the inside has scars Damian has memorized. He likes the bad as much as the good. He always has. He likes the in between. The middle. The anger he’s watched Dick reel himself in from, so many times. The raving desire in the drill of Dick’s hips toward his hand. The part he knows, trapped inside him, that can’t help himself from feeling guilty for doing what is improbable of his character. Damian loves that, too. Every single part. His soul and his mind, and the amalgamation of the two, to carve the overworked, powerful physical being above him.

“You’re—” Damian gasps, speeding up his movement. Dick stops stroking his leg to squeeze it. Damian watches his long, pretty eyelashes flutter as his eyes fall shut for a moment. He listens to Dick’s deep, needy moan and mumbles. “You’re so sexy." His cheeks flush as he stares up in awe.

“Yeah?” Dick goads. The flash of teeth from his smile has Damian’s squirming on the bed.

“Yeah,” Damian says, grunting. “I swear,” he adds, “more so every time I see you.” He yields to his arousal mindlessly, and jolts up toward him. “The thought of anyone else ever having you makes me want to kill who even dares to look at you.” He’s almost panting. “I don’t want anyone to see you," he tremors, “I don’t want you to look at anyone but me.”

“I won’t,” Dick promises. “I couldn’t possibly—”

“I want you to belong to me back,” Damian says. He finally admits his apprehension.

“Mm...” Dick mumbles, “Is that what you want,” he bites his lip. His eyes roll back. “To posses me?”

“Haven’t I yet?” The playful look in Damian’s eyes has Dick in a frenzy. “Is there something else I can do to convince you?” he softly murmurs, a steady tug on his cock.

“Keep moving your hand just like that,” Dick utters, closing his eyes.

Damian slows down, just to prove he can. Just to prove he has as much control here as Dick does. They are equals here, as well.

When Damian speeds up again, Dick swears he could crush Damian’s hipbone under his hand, as he hopelessly digs his fingers into the flesh. He keeps biting until Damian curses under his breath and yanks on his hair for him to stop.

He moves to the other side and sucks. He tongues at the heated flesh and works on forming a hickey. Damian’s intoxicating; the scent, the sight, the need. Even the iron in his blood tastes saccharine. He can’t imagine wanting anything else after this, and hates thinking of Damian ever not being right here, his heart thumping beside his as he lays with him, in passion.

The thought of him doing what Dick urged him to, taking his advice and moving on, makes him enraged. He is jealous from merely the words he uttered earlier— someone else. No one else could mark him like this. No one else could be trusted to be this close.

What’s better is he doesn’t even want them. Damian wants him. He wants to be his. It’s unbelievably special to mean something to him at all.

Dick doesn’t know why, in a world of anyone, of every other person, Damian would choose him. Dick can neither answer that question for himself. Why he can’t even be satiated now, with Damian below him.

No arguable facets are significant enough. There’s no excuse. There can’t be one. No reason has any sway anymore. Now that’s he’s had a glimpse, he’d be deprived his whole life if he went without it.

Dick pulls away and watches Damian. It’s absolutely necessary to look. He has to stare at him while he falls apart.

He jerks himself off, hand chasing the feeling emerging in throughout his nerves.

Damian is his.

No time passes. The hot, slow tingle makes its way through his veins, consuming his whole body when he moans and cums onto Damian’s stomach. The hard, taut plane of Damian’s abs become painted with milky lines of his rapture.

He continues to stroke himself through it, hand tightening in the bedsheets beside his waist, where Dick has bent over him, going after himself. Damian lays there, willing, a stunning picture; a beautiful canvas, glimmering, snow colored sparkles on caramel brown skin.

Dick collapses into the mess, whining at the sensation of it, muffled behind his closed mouth, pressed against him.

It takes a few minutes to fully recalibrate. Their heaving chests are joined, their legs curled together.

“I’d break all the rules if you asked me,” he admits. Leading up to this moment, his other exposures seem shallow. This is more of a confession.

“All of them?” Damian asks. He has to. He couldn’t not dare to.

“That’s what scares me,” he says. “I’d never let anything hurt you. Never again. Not even me. I’d hide it forever if you never showed interest.”

“I also would have. For a while I wondered how stupid I was for hoping you’d forget about everything else and somehow want,” he pauses, inhaling, “to do this.”

And Dick was worried Damian couldn’t match him. He was worried Damian didn’t love him the same amount, the same way, the same strain.

“I’m always convincing myself into it. Telling myself that I want what I don’t. That enough work and compromise would change it into what it was supposed to feel like. So many times, I’ve thought there was something wrong with me. That I’m broken, or I can’t love right, or something like that. I think I was wrong. I know I was.” He stops, starting again with the same ardor. “With this, I have all the reasons not to and can’t stop myself. I love you like every time was wrong but this one. I have never loved anyone like this. From the inside of my fucking bones.” Dick laughs about it because it’s absolutely insane, but makes him think the world is instead, for the various obstacles impeding him thus far. He sits up and stares at Damian below him. “Even when I endeavor to avoid you, I wake up with your name and your face, the first thought in my head.”

Damian glowers at him. “I knew you were avoiding me.”

“No attempt at being subtle seems to gets past you. I don’t know how it is you read me better than I can.”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“Can you say it, regardless?”

Damian’s eyes flutter open, the curl of his eyelashes framing the intensity. The world has faded away except Damian’s outline on the muted sheets. The features of his face are crystalline. The dim light of the lamp in his bedroom contours the edges of his body, the sharp line of his jaw, the arch of his cheekbones, and the sinew of his trained, slender shape, smeared with their combined climax.

Damian stares up at him, and whispers, tender, “'Ahbik. Laday dayimana.”

I love you. I always have.

“That’s the first language I learned it in,” Damian continues, color on his skin darkening. “I never said it before.” He never said it there, Dick knows he means.

Dick tastes the words on the rosy cushion he attaches himself to. He yanks him closer, even though there isn’t one, and breaks the kiss to smile. He has passed happy. If there was a close explanation for the sensation, it would be giddy and delirious, high off the vow and addicted to it. “Me tut kamav,” Dick tells him, using the tongue he learned beside english. He hasn’t said it to someone since he meant it. Since him and his parents would switch to match the outside world, but relent in the closed space of their home in one of the many places it travelled. “I always have. Just a different shape it takes now…”

Faintly, the heated kiss turns to a gradual grind toward each other. It increases in speed and exertion. Light prickles of pressure build into pleasure.

Feeling Damian go from semi hard to fully erect gets Dick hard again within minutes. The barely there grind of Damian’s hips, rubbing against his abdomen, the rest of him molded to him, captivates him.

He angles Damian’s legs to rest above his, positioning himself directly over him. His balls rest against Damian’s, the underside of his dick adjacent to his. Dick puts them both in his hand. It fits around them better than Damian’s did.

They both follow the friction. Dick clutches Damian’s legs, letting go to hold both his thighs and put his cock in the gap. He fucks up into his thighs, dirtying them with a combination of cum and precum. Then, he spreads them again to fuck up against them, lips fastened to Damian, tongue sliding around his.

It’s a sensual, impatient but not rushed, hurdle toward bliss. Cock to cock, making out, learning the sensitive parts of Damian’s body, the ones that make his fingers clench in his hair; Dick can’t believe anything this glorious can be wrong.

Dick cums from the feel of Damian spasming, and Damian gets there solely from the heat of them, pulsing together. Damian’s panting heavy. Dick is chasing his own breath as much as he’s chasing Damian’s. The skin of their chests stick together. In the part of their lips, Damian is whimpering, and Dick is making an analogous sound.

Convulsing from the intensity, Dick goes limp on Damian. Neither of them can formulate words. Neither of them can speak, nor move, except panting, and a listless, sleepy caress.

It has to have been hours by the time Dick is able to get up. Damian trembles, suffering through the desperate, needy pain of the aftershock of his brutal destruction. It’s likely only been one hour, possibly even less since he came up here, which is long enough but not to the point it’s out of place. He has to slowly unglue himself from Damian before he decides he’s better without it and never moves.

He stands up and goes to Damian’s bathroom. He grabs a towel from the small cabinet above the toilet. He wettens it under the faucet, turning the handle and wiping the mess from his stomach and dick, patting himself dry.

Trekking back to Damian, he loiters over him. Damian is beautiful. He’s all red; a splotchy blush down his chest, Dick’s love bites marking up the sides of his neck, his swollen, slick mouth, Dick can’t keep his off of.

He’s filthy, but absolutely divine. Dick cleans his inner thighs off, his chest and groin, and walks to throw the rag in the dirty laundry.

On the way back, he opens the closet to find something to dress Damian in. It’s still too cold to sleep without clothing. He sifts through his closet to find something. His eyes still on a sweatshirt. It’s an old one. A familiar one Dick thought he lost. It left his mind until the second his gaze lands on it.

It’s worn. Damian has definitely used it in the past. It’s probably been years since he gave it to him. Dick grabs the pile of his pants and underwear, pulling them on and up as he reaches the bed again. 

Reaching the edge of the bed, he already is crawling over Damian, back for another taste. They kiss, Damian gripping his back and shoulders, Dick shifting to drink him up, until they are completely wrapped around one another, touching every place possible.

This time, Dick helps him get dressed, tenderly pulling the sweatshirt down over his head, missing the eager fervor his earlier touch had. Damian doesn’t mind being doted on. He leans on him and lifts his arms to assist him.

Dick runs his hand down the material. He plays with the string of the hood with his other hand. “This is mine.”

Damian’s expression melts to placated, sated in every sense. “You never asked for it.”

“I like it better on you.” Dick kisses the marks he left, worshiping the discoloration. An idea exhorts him, forces him, aggressive on his skin as he smiles into it and fidgets. “Have you ever touched yourself while wearing this?”

“I’d never—” Damian has the sweet flush back to his cheeks. “I’d never defile myself in someone else’s clothes.”

“I don’t know about defiling,” he teases, “What if I asked nicely?”

“I wouldn’t,” he says. He’s lying. If he asked nicely, he knows Damian would get on his knees for him right now. But Dick would never misuse the privilege.

“Just paint me a picture,” Dick says, mind reeling. “How long did you know?”

“Not that long. I didn’t realize it at first. I didn’t want to.” Damian pauses. “I had these dreams. We’d be on patrol. I’d just be talking to you, or we’d be fighting, but then you were close. Nothing else, you were just close, and warm, and smelled good.” His fingers don’t stop their movement. The rest of the world stops instead. “I woke up sticky.”

Dick doesn’t hold back his groan of a breath. “I despise myself for thinking that’s the hottest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“And I despised myself for my infatuation with Nightwing,” Damian mutters.

“What about me?” Dick sighs. “Sixteen years old and I thought about it.” He releases a shaky breath. “Sixteen years old and imagining you as I fuck my fist in the morning.”

The change in his respiration tells Dick he got to him. After coming twice, he’s still worked up, too. Dick is tingling everywhere, even though he can’t get hard again. Of course Damian would have to drive him wild, here, as well, as if he doesn’t in every other way.

Dick starts to laugh. He remembers what Damian said. In the bathroom. Hours ago, and a different set of rules governing him. “The rational next step to our relationship, I suppose.”

Damian snickers at his own series of jibes earlier. He leans forward, lolling against him, nosing at his jaw. “I wasn’t sure what else to say to make you realize this isn’t as horrifying as you think.”

“I don’t think it’s horrifying,” he says. “I never wanted you to feel like you owed me something. Or that you were responsible for me.”

“Neither did I,” Damian says.

Dick melts against him. “Well, are you still fond of me as I lack my moral integrity?”

Damian smirks against him. He nuzzles into him. He’s slow in his mumble as he is in the stroke of his fingertips over his skin. “More. I like every side of you, Richard. Not just the ones you think you must show the world.”

There’s nothing Dick can articulate. Over Christmastime, before January melded into February, Damian beat him in a spar, no weapons, no cheating, just hand on hand combat. Dick wasn’t holding back. Damian pissed him off. He was trying to win and Damian had him on the ground in seconds, his face shoved into the mats, and the bratty voice of his protege insulting him in the gifted way he does.

This is much like that. Damian has surpassed him. Damian skipped the part where he’s miserable. He skipped the part where he refuses to be selfish. Damian’s been living everyone else’s lives until this point. Now that it’s his, he won’t waste it. Now that it’s his, he’s even more ravenous than he was when he first came here. Now that he knows what love is supposed to feel like, he can’t settle for less.

“What if I want to be selfish?” Dick asks, stroking his back, working down the knobs of his vertebrae.

“I think you can be a little selfish,” Damian responds. “If anyone has earned it...”

He slumps back on the mattress, and Damian does the same. Damian creeps over to him. Dick puts his arm around him as he lays above his heart.

His cheek is warm on his chest. He can feel the tickle of his eyelashes as he blinks. In a daze, Damian watches his own hand move over Dick’s chest, tracing the shape of his pectoral muscles, to the aperture separating his ribs.

It’s a hazy moment. Dick's low, tired eyes go to the messy hair on top of Damian’s head. He bends his arm to brush his fingers through it. Above his forehead, he places his lips, the edges of them curving up as he kisses him. He loses the expression while he tilts to lay his cheek against his head.

Damian speaks before he gets the chance. “Another minute.”

At some point, Dick has to return. Completing the impossible task of separating himself from Damian. Get up, redress himself and make a second appearance. For now, he listens to Damian’s even breathing, smells his scent wafting in the air, suffused onto the sheets, and doesn’t want to ever do anything else.

He can spare one more.