Actions

Work Header

Motivational Speaking for the Selective Listener

Work Text:

“Why does the paper say you're dating?” Dick asks, waving the Sunday edition in Bruce's face.

Bruce doesn’t let his expression so much as twitch. Dick can sense blood in the water the same way a shark can, and he knows Bruce far too well. “Does it?” he asks mildly.

Dick stares at him, suspicious. “You haven’t brought any dates home in months,” he says, wounded. “Damian would have told me.”

It’s mildly unnerving to think that his youngest son has a direct gossip-line to his eldest, and they keep each other informed of his activities. Also mildly satisfying, since that’s what Bruce taught them to do. Conflicted, he pauses for a moment, then decides to ignore it completely and preserve his sanity just a little longer. “He likely would have, yes.”

“It’s by Vicki Vale. She wouldn’t get something like that wrong,” Dick says, a plea for confirmation, rejection, any reaction at all. Bruce just raises a brow at him, because really, all of his children are detectives. If they can't ferret out his date, he failed them utterly as a teacher.

Dick stares. Bruce stares back, eyebrow inching higher.

Thankfully, Alfred clears his throat before the staring contest can devolve. “Master Bruce, there’s a call for you. Your secretary, I believe.”

She wouldn’t be disturbing him at home if it wasn’t important. With a sigh, Bruce sets down the stocks and rises, taking his cell from Alfred. “Thanks, Alfred. Dick, are you staying for dinner?”

“Are you going to tell me who you’re dating?” Dick counters.

“Who said I'm dating anyone?” Bruce asks mildly, then puts his phone to his ear, calls up all his charm, and says, “Laura! How nice to hear from my favorite lady. What? The reports? Oh, yes, I picked them up yesterday, you can just email me the corrections.”

Expression full of offense, Dick waves the paper at Bruce, who ignores him and wanders out of the room. He’s just in time to catch sight of the figure at the top of the main stairs, wearing Bruce's shirt, a brace of senbon, and not much else. At the sight of his raised brow, Bruce just waves a hand, letting him know there’s nothing wrong. Flashing a crooked smirk, he tucks a senbon between his teeth and vanishes back towards the master bedroom on soundless feet, half a second before Dick follows Bruce out of the kitchen, looking like he can't decide whether to go for wounded puppy or stubborn pitbull.

He’ll figure it out eventually. Bruce has faith in him.

 

 

There’s an alien warrior princess snoring on Bruce's couch, a manic archer slumped over the pieces of what was probably a pulse gun on the coffee table muttering to himself, and a trail of what could be either alien blood, plasma, or some kind of coolant leading from the front door to the sitting room. Bruce takes a long look at it and sighs, wondering how much he’ll have to pay the cleaners this time, and whether it’s just going to be cheaper to outright replace the carpet.

“So,” Jason says, determinedly uninterested as he sorts his throwing knives, “why’s Dickie convinced you’re shacking up with a supervillain again?”

“Because the papers say I'm dating someone and he can't figure out who,” Bruce says dryly. “Trouble in space?”

“Someday I'm going to punch Hal Jordan right in his smug mouth,” Jason mutters.

The warmth of fatherly pride is a great thing. “Get it on video,” Bruce tells him. “High definition. I want audio, too.”

“So you can make it your ringtone?” Jason asks, because he knows Bruce. Bruce refuses to confirm or deny, and Jason rolls his eyes and chucks a bent batorang towards Roy’s pile of parts. Deftly, Roy snatches it out of the air, almost too quick to follow, and throws it back. It bounces off Jason’s armored jacket, skids under the couch, and disappears.

“Make sure you clean up,” Bruce says. Jason, at least, can be trusted to do as he’s asked, and Roy will help. If Oliver’s had any influence on his cleanliness habits, Bruce thankfully can't see it.

Jason waves a dismissive hand. “Yeah, yeah. So who’s the lucky lady?” Another bolt bounces off his shoulder, and he hisses, head snapping up. “Harper, quit it, or I’ll make you eat that phase canon!”

“Oh, hey, I can't hear you,” Roy says breezily. “I can't hear you over the sound of no Roy I don’t need backup because I'm an idiot and also laserproof.”

Jason deflates, looking as sulky as a six-foot man with more weapons on his person than a lot of small countries hold can manage. “I was fine, Roy.”

Fine,” Roy says scornfully. “Yeah, that’s what I call it when I have a six-inch hole in my chest, too.”

“Jason?” Bruce demands, alarmed.

Jason scowls. “The aliens who weren’t trying to kill us fixed me, it’s nothing.”

“Nothing now,” Roy says, pointed. “Good thing you’ve got a nice comfy couch to sleep on for the next month, huh?”

“What?” Jason protests. “That’s a stupid fucking punishment, Kori is on my side here—”

“Kori is trying to sleep,” Kori says loudly. “And Roy is right.”

Hah,” Roy mutters, stabbing viciously at something with a screwdriver.

Anyway,” Jason cuts in, bristling. “New arm candy, who is she?”

“There’s no lucky lady,” Bruce says firmly, and is tell the whole truth. Deciding to get out while he’s head, he says, “Tell Alfred if you need a doctor, Jason. Roy, Princess Koriand’r, make yourselves at home.”

“Thanks, Bats,” Roy says cheerfully, while Kori waves one negligent golden hand and rolls over, her hair a spill of fire across the floor.

Above them, on the top of a bookshelf that’s entirely shadowed, Bruce watches their observer heft another of the bolts in his hand, head cocked. It takes effort not to smirk, but Bruce has had a lot of practice keeping his face straight, and he just glances pointedly at Roy and then turns for the door.

From behind him, there's a thunk, a yelp of protest. “Jason!” Roy squawks. “Fine, two months, asshole!”

What? You fucking—”

Bruce deliberately closes the door, turns down the closest hall, and takes less than twelve steps before there’s a shoulder brushing his. Genma is wearing more clothes this time, and Bruce can't decide if he’s disappointed about that or not.

“You're a menace,” he says dryly.

Genma smiles slyly. “Shinobi skills get rusty if they're not used often,” he says breezily, like Bruce didn’t meet him for the first time in the middle of an assassination just a month ago. He casts a glance back at the sitting room, though, and tilts his head. “From everything you said, I think was expecting more.”

“Relationship troubles,” Bruce says wisely, because Jason is usually sharper than that. So is Kori, for that matter. Roy with something to build in front of him is always a lost cause, though.

“Quite the relationship,” Genma laughs, then glances behind them and vanishes as simply as that, gone like the stray breeze that rustles the curtains just carried him off.

“Hey,” Jason says, leaning around the corner of the hallway. He looks suspicious, but then, Jason usually looks suspicious. “You're really not dating a supervillain?”

“No,” Bruce says wearily, and is pretty sure he can hear someone laughing at him. equal odds whether it’s Genma or Alfred, really. “I'm not dating a supervillain. Tell Dick to focus on his work, rather than my love life.”

“With pleasure,” Jason says, making a face, and then pauses. “Were you talking to someone?”

“Yes,” Bruce says blandly. “The rogue assassin I'm about to take out to dinner.”

“You could have just said no,” Jason mutters, and retreats.

By the time the sitting room door clicks shut again, Genma is lounging near the window, looking entirely pleased with himself. “You're taking me to dinner?” he asks, giving Bruce a look from under his lashes that works far better than it should. “Fancy.”

“Maybe we’ll even make it to the appetizer this time before Black Mask decides to interrupt,” Bruce says optimistically.

Genma laughs at him. It’s probably deserved.

 

 

“It wasn’t Black Mask, in my defense,” Bruce says, and Genma snorts, strips off his suit jacket, and tosses it over the gargoyle on the edge of the building.

“You still owe me dessert,” he retorts, slides a knife between his teeth, and flips off the side, slingshotting himself down and right through the nearest open window. There's no sound from beyond it, so Bruce finishes pulling on his cowl, then turns to meet the six-legged demons swarming towards him. leaps, light, across the swarm, and drops a flare right in the middle of them, making them screech and recoil and start to smoke.

“I thought magic-users were next week,” a familiar voice complains, dropping down on top of Genma's suit jacket. “Heads up.”

Bruce ducks, pulling his cape up to shield his face as a burst of fire detonates, washing over the rooftop. He gives it another second, then turns, letting the cape drop, and inclines his head. “Red Robin.”

Tim smirks at him, offering a lazy salute. “Morgaine le Fey?” he asks.

“This is the one time it would be useful to have John Constantine nearby,” Bruce confirms dryly.

“Isn't Jason Blood in town?” Tim asks, cocking his head. “There's some antiques show, isn't there?”

Bruce had been intending to make an appearance, maybe bring Genma along. He doesn’t have a lot of knowledge of the history in this dimension yet, but he’s got a good eye for potential trouble and that ability to manipulate his chakra into doing things Bruce would call magic under any other circumstances. “Tomorrow night,” he agrees. “Maybe Morgaine is after something there. I have tickets, so if we want someone on the inside—”

“Tickets?” Tim says innocently. “oh, were you planning to take someone with you?”

Bruce doesn’t need all of his years as Batman to sense the trap there. “Dick is a bigger gossip than any washerwoman in history,” he says.

“Who said anything about Dick?” Tim asks, and he’s probably trying for wounded, but it’s a little closer to smug. “I was just asking. If you’re dating another supervillain—”

“I'm not dating a supervillain,” Bruce says, and pushes the rooftop access door open, heading down into the demon-infested building.

“Minor villain?” Tim asks, following at his heels. “Morally grey vigilante? Dubiously law-abiding quasi-hero?”

There's no hired assassin in there, so Bruce feels justified in saying, “No.”

Tim squints at him. “Cute thief?” he tries.

Bruce levels a look at him, and Tim raises his hands. “I know, you haven’t seen Selena in months, but I had to ask.” Then he narrows his eyes, and says, “That suit jacket on the gargoyle up there—that wasn’t your size.”

“Must have grabbed the wrong one when I left the restaurant,” Bruce says, droll, and ducks a demon with wings. Grabs it by the tail, flips it hard into a wall—

The lights go out all at once, and then there's a crackling, humming whine that rises sharply, increases in pitch until Bruce has to clap his hands over his ears, and vanishes as abruptly as it began.

There's a long pause, and Bruce trades glances with Tim, then picks up a run. All the demons are gone, as is the flickering black dome outside the window, and when they burst into the penthouse it’s to a distinct lack of spells thrown in their faces.

Instead, there's a book full of senbon, the needle points stabbed all the way through the pages. A scorch mark decorates the floor in the shape of a ritual circle, and in the middle of it—

“I take it back,” Bruce says grimly, closing his eyes at the sight of a naked John Constantine bound and wriggling on a stone altar.

Tim snickers, and Constantine levels a glare at both of them.

“If one of you wouldn’t mind,” he says pointedly. “That ninja tosser couldn’t even be bothered to cut a rope before ‘e vanished, and I'm bloody cold.”

“I can tell,” Tim says, and thankfully he goes to deal with the sacrificial magician. Bruce pointedly turns away to survey the rest of the room, and catches a flicker of wind-blown hair outside one of the windows. When he crosses to it, Genma—stuck to the side of the building like some real-life Spiderman—gives him a wink and a grin, and holds up a medallion that glows with a sinister green light. Inside the gem, Bruce can just make out the tiny, trapped figure of Morgaine le Fey, and he snorts.

“Something funny, B?” Tim asks, and the window is abruptly empty, not even a flicker of movement to show Genma was there at all.

“Just Morgaine’s taste in interior decoration,” Bruce says easily, and Tim rolls his eyes.

“What, you don’t like Medieval Torture Dungeon chic?” he says. “But there’s so much iron! So much flair. Would you have the courage to use an iron maiden in your tasteful kitchen alcove? I don’t think so.”

“No,” Bruce agrees dryly. “Because I have taste.”

“I've seen how you decorate that cave of yours, Bats,” Constantine drawls. “I wouldn’t say taste’s the word for it.”

Bruce ignores that. “Morgaine?” he asks instead.

“Bloody ninja chased her off,” Constantine says, disgusted. “Didn’t even get my money back for the nice drink I treated her to, ‘fore I realized.”

“When was that?” Tim smirks at him. “When you woke up tied to an altar?”

“Not the first time it’s happened,” Constantine says, unperturbed. “I reckon it won't be the last, either. The birds can't keep their hands off me.”

“Only the ones that are spelled, hiding something, or want something,” Bruce tells him flatly.

“What other kinds are there?” Constantine reaches for a cigarette. “Blokes too, for that matter.”

“Get out of Gotham. Tonight.” With a sigh, Bruce turns, heading for the door with a sweep of his cloak. “Red Robin, help me sweep the building. I want to be sure all the demons are gone.”

“Right behind you, B.” Tim even gets the door for him, trailing him out into the hallway. Casts a sideways glance at him, and then says, “If you're dating Constantine, I'm definitely telling Dick.”

“If I ever date Constantine, you have my permission to hold an intervention and tell whomever you like,” Bruce tells him, and Tim laughs.

 

 

Stephanie’s phone keeps chiming.

A little bemused, Bruce finally lifts his head from the security footage he’s watching, turning to give her a pointed look, and Stephanie groans. “I know,” she says plaintively, “but I swore to Babs I would keep my phone on, so I can't stop him.”

“Dick,” Bruce concludes, and Stephanie slumps over the table, burying her face in her arms and nodding.

“He’s relentless,” she complains. “As soon as I said I was going to work this case with you, he decided to drive me crazy. And it’s working.” She gives her phone a nasty look. “Like he should be rotting his brain with those gossip rags anyway.”

“He hasn’t been able to find anything through normal channels, so he’s getting desperate.” Bruce turns back to his screen, restarting the playback, and settles in. The chime is still mildly aggravating, but ignorable.

Stephanie sighs. “He’s an asshole,” she says, then pauses. “You're not dating anyone, right?”

Bruce pauses the video again, leveling a flat stare at her, and she raises her hands. “Don’t look at me like that, Dick’s the one who’s convinced you’ve been brainwashed and controlled by some alien parasite set on world domination.”

Clearly, it’s time to have a talk with Dick about being an alarmist. Bruce sighs, rubbing his forehead, and wonders how long he can put it off before Dick actually takes his concerns to the League. Clark will either be worried or amused, and Bruce isn't entirely sure which is worse.

“There is currently no woman in my life,” he says firmly. “And if I was dating someone, don’t you think the press would have gotten a picture by now?”

Assuming, of course, he wasn’t dating a ninja and assassin from another dimension with a strong wariness of the paparazzi and skills at disappearing that put Lady Shiva’s to shame.

“Probably,” Stephanie says, though she’s still frowning faintly. The sudden, strident ringing of her phone makes her growl, but as soon as she grabs it, her expression clears. “Hey!” she says cheerfully. “Oracle, what can I do for you?”

Deciding she has it well in hand, Bruce signals that he’s going upstairs, waits until she waves him off, and then heads up, slipping out into the mansion. It’s quiet, close to midnight, and Alfred is already in bed, but when Bruce wanders towards the kitchen, there’s a light on and the smell of fresh coffee.

“Planning to stay up all night?” he asks, propping a shoulder against the doorframe.

Genma glances up from where he’s curled catlike on one of the chairs, then smiles. “Hey,” he says, unwinding himself. “Taking a break?”

“Oracle might have something for us,” Bruce says, and can't resist the urge to reach out, brushing brown hair back behind Genma's ear. Genma hums, leaning sideways into him, and just rests there for a moment.

“Those fake ninjas again?” he asks, wrinkling his nose.

“Please call them that to Ra’s’s face the next time you get the chance,” Bruce says. “Please.”

Genma snorts, rising to his feet, and the fact that he’s wearing Bruce's pyjama bottoms and one of his old tank tops is a lot more distracting than it should be. He looks comfortable, though, not much at all like the wild-eyed thing Bruce fought on a rooftop, fresh from an assassination, only a resident of this dimension for a handful of weeks. Some sort of accident, he’s said, but nothing more. Bruce hasn’t wanted to push.

“Your kids are cute,” he says over his shoulder as he refills his mug. “In a rabidly overprotective way.”

Bruce scrubs a hand over his face. “I’ll talk to Dick,” he promises with a sigh.

Genma just snickers, turning around to lean back against the counter. “You could always let him walk in on something,” he offers.

“I don’t think that would help his ideas about brainwashing,” Bruce says, because I can't tell if you're going to stay is a remarkably pathetic sort of thing to say out loud.

Even so, Genma's mouth softens, like he can hear the thought. “Well,” he says faux-thoughtfully, “I could always give him other things to worry about.”

“No tormenting Dick,” Bruce says firmly, then pause. “Unless he calls Superman,” he amends.

Genma laughs, and crosses the kitchen to kiss him. It’s easy to kiss back, to enjoy it, to know that his tussle with Genma was one of the first times in years someone’s beaten him at hand-to-hand, so he’s…safe. Relatively.

Maybe it wouldn’t be entirely bad to let the kids know. Even if this isn't forever.

(But Genma settled into his life like it might be, like he’s not planning on leaving, like there's nowhere else for him to be, and Bruce—

Bruce hopes, because he always does, because nothing in the world has been able to take that away from him yet.)

 

 

There’s a shadow on the rooftop when Bruce drops off his line, a slim figure seated back against the wall. For a moment, Bruce pauses, looking for any sign of injury, of impersonators, of a trap.

(It’s maybe slightly possible that Dick got at least a little of his paranoia from Bruce. Possibly.)

“Black Bat?” he asks instead, when he can't find anything, and Cass looks up at him, tips her head, waves once.

Faintly reassured, Bruce sinks down beside her, settling back against the wall, and asks, “Is everything all right?”

Cass nods, then raises a hand, opening it to show him the single silver senbon lying across her palm. She flips it up, catches it, then weighs it for a moment like she’s admiring the balance, and finally offers it to Bruce.

Bruce picks it up off her hand, running his fingers over the length of it for a moment. “Thank you,” he says. “I don’t know how many he has, but probably not enough to lose.”

Cass reaches up, tugging her cowl off to let her hair fall free, and cocks her head at Bruce. A question, and Bruce takes a moment to think of his answer as he turns the senbon over in his fingers.

“He’s not an enemy,” he says finally. “He’s already saved my life several times.”

I trust him, Bruce doesn’t say, because it wouldn’t be true. He doesn’t trust anyone fully. Can't, but—

He trusts Genma not to hurt him. Not to hurt his family. That has to count for something.

Reaching out, Cass touches his wrist, then smiles at him. “Good,” she says, and rises fluidly to her feet, pulling her cowl back on. Turns, offering Bruce a hand, and when he takes it she pulls him up, then taps her chest and puts a finger to her lips.

“Thanks,” Bruce says dryly. “I'm sure Dick will appreciate you keeping it a secret from him.”

Cass just shrugs, apparently unconcerned, and leaps off the side of the building, summersaulting several stories down before she sends out a grappling line to catch herself and drops the rest of the way to the ground.

Bruce closes his fingers tight around the senbon, then slips it into his utility belt. Genma's doing some poking around of his own tonight, so Bruce will give it to him when they're both home. Soon, probably; Genma had wanted to be back before morning, and Bruce is going to try to aim for the same thing. Usually he can't be bothered to keep to a schedule, but—

Having someone waiting isn't precisely new, but it still feels strange. Still feels like something he doesn’t want to take for granted, and even if the work comes first, he can still make an attempt.

Cass is waiting when he lands on the sidewalk, eyes trained on the bar facing the harbor. When Bruce joins her, she points towards the back of the building, then cocks her head, and—

A shout, a pair of drunks tumbling out the front door to land on their faces, screaming. A cloud of gas, a familiar voice, and then a whirl of wind, a breeze so powerful it cuts like blades and disperses the Fear Toxin all at once. Genma tumbles out of the bar, rises, and kicks one of Scarecrow’s men in the face in one smooth motion.

Well. Apparently Bruce will get to give him his senbon back early.

He does spare a moment to be glad it’s Cass with him, rather than Dick or Tim. It makes his life much, much easier.

 

 

“Father,” Damian says suspiciously. “Why is there a second pillow on your bed? And why does it look slept on?”

Bruce does not say because I grow two heads at night, no matter how tempting it is. Knowing Damian, he’ll attempt to check. He doesn’t ask why Damian was in his room, either—the fact that his son feels comfortable enough to cross boundaries is a good sign. Probably.

“I had company last night,” he says instead, and hopes that that will put an end to that line of questioning.

Of course, he always underestimates Damian’s fondness for Dick, and the influence that Dick has on him. Damian’s eyes widen instantly, and he demands, “You are dating, Father?”

“The papers certainly seem to think so,” Bruce says dryly, because the rumors are getting out of hand. It seems some photographers are taking it as a personal affront that no one’s managed to get a picture of Genma yet. Alfred’s chased three away from the gates already this morning.

“Does Grayson know about this?” Damian demands. “Why haven’t you told him? Is it a secret?”

“It’s a test,” Bruce says, and sets Damian’s tea in front of him. Alfred is restocking the medical supplies down in the cave. Bruce has at least half an hour before he’ll be subjected to Alfred’s disappointed looks for using the kitchen on his own. “I wanted to see if Dick could figure it out on his own.”

“Tch.” Damian looks away, slumping in his chair. “So it’s not a secret? How dull.”

“Well,” Bruce says, perfectly mild, and glances over Damian’s head to meet Genma's gaze as the other man pauses in the doorway. Genma’s eyes narrow warningly, and Bruce hides a smirk behind his own cup of tea and finishes, “Do you think you can figure it out, Damian?”

Instantly, Damian comes to attention. “Of course I can!” he says, affronted. “Grayson doesn’t even live here anymore. I clearly have the advantage.” Sliding out of his chair, he seizes his tea, then whirls and stalks out of the kitchen, calling back over his shoulder, “I’ll solve the case by dinner, Father!”

Bruce swallows a chuckle and sets a cup of green tea down in front of his vacated chair.

“You're going to pay for that,” Genma promises, slipping into the room. Bruce doesn’t have any idea where he hid while Damian was passing, but he’s used to that by now. “I was taking the day off.”

“Aren’t you the one who said shinobi skills degrade if you don’t keep them up?” Bruce asks, and laughs when Genma jabs him in the ribs.

Genma takes the cup of tea, though, and he kisses Bruce in thanks, so clearly he’s not entirely annoyed.

 

 

“I can't believe the paparazzi beat us to it,” Dick says mournfully, dropping the newspaper on the coffee table. The front page of the society section boasts a large picture of the city’s newest hero catching a swooning billionaire. It’s a nice picture, if Bruce does say so himself. Genma's quite photogenic.

“To be fair, I think you had other things on your mind,” Genma says, lounging back against Bruce's side on the loveseat. Bruce isn't about to object; he has his arm over Genma's shoulders, his ribs have stopped actively aching, and there’s popcorn within reach. “The dragon was a little distracting.”

“It burning the city down was distracting,” Jason says sourly. “That was my favorite rare bookstore. B finally coughing up his new flavor of the week was just disappointing.”

“Just because all of you bet on me dating a supervillain doesn’t give you the right to be nasty, Jason,” Bruce tells him reprovingly, and Jason huffs and rolls his eyes. he kicks his feet up on the table, too, but Bruce as learned to pick his battles over the years and keeps his mouth shut.

I bet you were dating Jason Blood,” Tim says. “Not a supervillain. In my defense.”

Cass hides a laugh behind one hand, ducking her head, and raises a hand.

“Cheating,” Stephanie accuses, though she doesn’t look overly bothered. The painkillers might have something to do with that. “How did you even find out? He’s some kind of overpowered ninja!”

“If you think I'm overpowered, you should know I'm only a tokubetsu jounin,” Genma says dryly. “Barely mid-level.”

Stephanie and Cass trade looks that are far too interested for Bruce's peace of mind, and Tim’s head snaps up. Damian is also suddenly paying far more attention to the conversation than to his sulking with Titus, ears practically perked.

“No,” Bruce says firmly. “No one is going dimension-hopping to learn from superpowered ninjas.”

“Besides,” Genma says breezily. “I'm pretty sure I'm dead back there, so me jumping back to that dimension to introduce you would probably end badly.”

Silence. Dick turns wide eyes on Bruce, and Bruce has to swallow before he can meet Dick’s eyes. he hadn’t known, but—

He curls his arm a little tighter around Genma, brushing a strand of hair over his shoulder, and says, “Well, I’ll admit I'm selfishly glad that you landed here, instead of in the afterlife.”

I'm glad you're here with us, we have a place for you, please stay. He could say that, but—the words just don’t fit right in his mouth.

“Me too,” Genma says, and smiles, sly as a cat. “Even if no one here’s managed to catch me yet.”

“Fuck you,” Jason says loudly.

At the same moment, Damian protests, “I would have if I had been prepared for a ninja!”

“I wasn’t even trying!” Stephanie levels an indignant finger at him.

“Challenge accepted,” Dick and Tim say as one, and then glare at each other.

Cass is laughing again. Bruce just sighs, and says, “This time, it’s your fault.”

“Payback,” Genma says, and leans up to kiss him. Bruce barely gets the chance to kiss back before he’s gone, only a whirl of wind to mark his disappearance.

There’s one half-second of absolute silence, and then Dick bolts to his feet. “First one to catch him gets to learn that trick,” he declares, and launches himself out of the room. Right on his heels, the rest follow, and within seven seconds Bruce is entirely alone in the room.

He sighs, but it’s very, very hard to fight a smile.