Chapter 1: Ebb
Bruce wasn’t really thinking when he offered Dick the mantle of crime fighter alongside him. He doesn’t blame himself for that most of the time, there was nothing else he could have done in the face of his own haunting past staring back at him from the eyes of this young orphan. Bruce could see the crack forming right in front of him and he couldn’t allow for one more broken boy.
If Bruce noticed how beautiful Dick was in those early days, if he was aware of what a handsome man this boy will someday grow up to be, well, it couldn’t have possibly mattered that much as he was hardly more than a child himself at the time.
They trained together. People will say that Batman trained Robin, but Bruce knew better. Sure, he taught Dick how to fight, the different battling methods he had mastered, he taught the boy how to adapt all of their studies to the field, he instructed him in the art of detecting. But at the end of the day, when it came to fighting as a duo, they trained together and they learned from each other, constantly.
Bruce wasn’t really thinking when he made Dick into Robin, but there was more than one occasion when he thanked his lucky stars for not having stopped long enough to think back then. Without Dick, his life would not only have been emptier, but he’s pretty certain Batman would have met a much earlier demise.
He doesn’t really blame himself for his decision except for two types of cases. One is those instances when Dick is in grave danger. When his well being or life is on the line, there’s no stopping Bruce’s thought from going down a self-blaming route. The first one to guess that is always the boy wonder himself. When he’s lying down bandaged in his bed in Wayne Manor or, when a fight has gone particularly wrong, when he’s in the Batcave sick bay, Dick looks at his mentor and tenderly, but determinedly, thanks Batman for having made him his Robin. It doesn’t quite resolve everything, but afterwards Bruce can’t help but feel his breathing become less effortful.
The other case materializes as Dick’s puberty starts hitting them. Oh, it definitely hits Bruce as well. Dick is not just beautiful. He starts oozing something else too, some undefined thing that unsettles Bruce and keeps him awake and unnerved when he should be asleep and resting. It’s in Dick’s body, in the way that he moves, an invitation that wasn’t there before; it’s in his eyes, ever so subtle, but Bruce feels it, tangible and frightening. He feels his own desire and he doesn’t know what to do with it.
That it’s wrong is beyond doubt. That he can’t help himself is also becoming clearer and clearer. Bruce finds himself privately orgasming to the thought of Dick, of his lips alone, the ghost idea of what they would feel like on his manhood, and the self-hatred that washes over him afterwards is justified but still not enough to keep his thoughts at bay.
It becomes increasingly straining over time. There’s one Wayne ball when Dick looks especially alluring. He’s all grown up and playing host. Bruce watches Dick, follows him as he moves around the party, takes in how he smoothly glides from one guest to another, charming them all. My ward, the words flash in his mind, and Bruce has to watch others flirting away openly and freely with him. There’s a fire in the pit of his stomach and this is new, because wanting Dick is one thing and maybe he can get over that, but this possessiveness that he feels, the way his animalistic drive kicks in and has no intention of trying to fight his desire but rather pushes him to give in to it, to claim the dazzling young man in front of everyone, that’s something else and at that moment, it’s too much. He’s not sure he can win this battle and keep this side of himself under control. Bruce has to distance himself from this, so he steps out to the small pavilion garden, a humble inner court built in a circle around a couple of white rose bushes planted by Martha Wayne herself following the occasion of her son’s birth. No guests are allowed there, so he’ll be able to just breathe deeply, calm down and once his head is clearer, he’ll try figuring things out. He stands in the moonlight, taking in how it plays off the rose petals and lets it all drape him in a sense of deep-seated loneliness he hasn’t fully felt ever since Dick came into his life. The music that filters in after him into the garden isn’t helping either. It’s romantic and moving, perfectly capturing his longing. He carefully touches one of the rose petals, admires how frail they are and how flawless.
There’s a hand on his shoulder and he doesn’t need to turn around to know it’s Dick. He should resist this, but as the young man steps in front of him without ever removing his hand, Bruce’s breath catches. The moonlight must have been created for no other reason but to illuminate these features, to highlight their refined majesty, the delicacy of the lines composing Dick’s face, the mystique of his big, soulful eyes, the temptation present in his assured smile…
“Won’t you dance with me, Bruce?” And it can easily be an innocent enough request, after all it was Bruce who taught Dick how to dance when he was younger, aware of how important it would be when throwing those infamous Wayne social affairs. But it’s not. They both know it, there’s tension between them, another question that’s not quite hiding in Dick’s eyes. This is when Bruce should be turning to the Batman persona for his resolute strength, for his ability to stare down any danger, to overcome all challenges. He doesn’t, though. His hand slips into the one offered up by Dick, their bodies move closer, align and Bruce can now feel the heat rising from his partner, surrounding him. His own arm comes to encircle Dick’s waist and when they dance together, it feels deceptively right. Bruce is going to blame himself for not truly thinking this time, but later. Later. Dick lays his head in the crook of Bruce’s neck and there’s no other course of action for the untameable playboy millionaire but to let go, close his eyes, lean his cheek against the soft, moonlit black hair and inhale Dick’s scent.
When the music stops and the magic of the moment is broken, Bruce at least manages to step away quickly enough, before Dick will look up to him, expectantly. If that were to happen, a kiss would probably occur and with all the risks Batman and Robin have taken on, this may be the biggest peril of them all. He softly whispers something in the way of ‘good night’ and withdraws back to the safety of the noisy party.
It all influences their crime fighting too. Of course it does. They’re having trouble with their synchronization and it only gets worse after the ball. It endangers them, and anything that risks Dick is unacceptable. That leads Batman to try and rely as little on Robin as he can, keeping him away from the most brutal parts of their battles as he can. This doesn’t go over unnoticed, nor is it well received. They find themselves arguing practically every time they go out on patrol and increasingly more in between. It gets especially bad after the night Batman decides to go after Bane on his own upon learning that the criminal has teamed up with Poison Ivy and her plant-goons. In that moment, when he made the decision to go out alone, Bruce actually convinced himself that it may make things better. Dick wouldn’t be there to witness how he’s being kept at arm’s length, away from Batman and the heart of the fight. He should have known better. Back in the batcave, staring at that beautiful face all twisted up in anger, Bruce knows it was the wrong call. “What were you thinking?” Dick seethes, “Bane alone could have broken you. You keep forgetting that you’re not untouchable, but it could have happened and what then? You’d be done for without backup, Bruce!”
The utterance of his name gets to him. It was spat out in fury, demanding, but Bruce could hear a tinge of desperation there too and he wants to calm his partner down, to assure him that nothing bad is ever going to happen to Dick, not even losing Bruce, but he knows that kind of reassurance is untrue, that it very much is a possibility. What’s worse, wrong or not, he can’t even assure either of them that he’s seen the error of his ways. If the events of this evening were to be replayed, there’s a good chance it would have all gone down the same way. Bruce will always choose Dick’s safety over everything else. “I didn’t need any backup tonight. It was fine, I handled it,” he says and it’s Batman’s calm that has taken over and delivered these words, and no, no, that’s not what he meant or should have said, there’s no recognition in there of any of the pain he knows his partner is feeling, but it’s out and Dick’s betrayed, hurt look leaves no room for doubt. Something has been broken tonight.
“You don’t need me, then.” It’s bitter. “Fine, no point in me staying around then, holding you back with my redundant help.”
Dick storms out in the blink of an eye and Bruce is shaken to his core. He could run after the man he’s been yearning for, he’s trained well enough for his instincts to be able to catch up quickly, but he decides against it. Maybe they do need the distance, some space between them to put Bruce back in his proper place. To make him ache less. He stays put as he listens to the noises around the manor and mentally follows Dick as he’s packing his things to leave.
He moves out as the early hours of the morning start chasing away the darkness of night. The world was already changing shape within a matter of just a few hours. Dick doesn’t need to go too far, though. Between the Wayne money and his own accomplishments, he has already managed to secure an early spot at Gotham College and now he cashes in on the option of living at the dorms. Bruce can’t help the pang of pain he feels when he looks at Dick’s emptied bedroom, but then he squares off his shoulders, waging a silent war on his own emotions. It’s the right thing. It’ll protect Dick.
The following night, the first one in years that Bruce can remember where he’s in the manor but Dick is nowhere in sight, he wanders the place that now feels a little less like his home. Alfred has already turned in early, his own wordless way of communicating his disapproval of the current situation between the young masters. Truth is, Bruce doesn’t need Alfred’s unique form of chiding him anyway. The way he feels is enough. It’s as if a small part of his heart has been torn away from him and is out there, on its own in the world, tugging on the string that connects them to the point of physical pain. After the long corridors and empty rooms, Bruce finds himself in the pavilion garden. Of course, he thinks, though he’s only spent one significant evening here in practically a decade. Despite his better judgment, here he can’t help but allow himself to truly feel it all, the pain and emptiness, the hope and longing, the unabashed desire that cost him so much. He trails the outline of one of his mother’s roses. He can’t cry, hasn’t in so many years that something in the mechanism has permanently failed, but this… this is as close to that as he can get.
The tip of his finger tingles weirdly and, suddenly, though he can’t rationally explain why, he’s absolutely certain that Dick is going to try and go out tonight, fighting crime on his own.
Chapter 2: And Flow
As Bruce is hurriedly changing into his Batman costume, he knows he’s furious and should calm down before he goes out to see Dick, but he has no time for that. If he searches his mind, that weird certainty hits him again that he will find his ward at the docks. Dick has been suspecting that a squad of smugglers had been operating there lately. There’s no reason Bruce can give for why he’d follow this particular wild hunch, but he does so anyway. Bizarrely, he also becomes convinced on his way there that Dick will anticipate his coming. That’s why he’s not surprised when he gets to the southern entrance to the docks only to find Dick waiting for him there, on the roof of one of the warehouses. Where he isn’t surprised, he is irritated as all hell.
For some reason, his own irritation seems to be augmented by the anger he knows Dick feels. Maybe because it’s not just an intellectual form of knowledge. No, Bruce feels that rage that is directed towards himself and it’s so mixed up with his own annoyance at Dick for putting himself in the line of fire that he can barely tell things apart and it’s all so infuriating, so intense that yeah, he’s like a powder keg about to explode.
Dick starts speaking and his breathing through the first word is so labored, it’s like he too can’t contain his anger and can barely bring himself to finish what he’s saying. “You… asshole.” It’s not the usual eloquent Dick, but it’s real and raw, in fact Bruce knows just how raw, how much strength it took to utter these words, to separate and cut them out from the storm of overwhelming rage inside his ward. He knows because he’s similarly struggling to put what he’s feeling into a verbal reaction, as he’s trying to make sense of how he can be both so incredibly pissed off at Robin for having risked himself in this careless manner and at himself for having pushed his partner away, for not seeing Dick as an equal and forcing him to take this course of action. He’s less successful in his attempts than the other man, however, as instead of speaking he ends up grabbing Dick by his shoulders and for a second Bruce is not sure if he’s about to shake him in a desperate attempt to bring him to his senses or violently kiss the living daylight out of him. Before he has the chance to do either, Dick lands in a fist, right on Bruce’s chin and somehow, he knows they’re both equally stunned by all of this.
For a moment the thought fleets through his mind, it’s shock that Dick hates him. How have they come to this? But a split second later it’s replaced by a disbelief that he would ever think Dick could, in any reality, hate him. And it’s a disbelief that doesn’t strike him as coming from himself.
There’s a sound that Bruce’s vigilant senses picks up on, coming from right behind him and from below. This takes over his mind and pushes out everything else. All that’s left is a cold assessment of what needs to be done now. Dick looks towards the point Bruce estimates the noise originated from and instantly Batman knows he’s facing six goons in black hoods, wielding knives with only one of them, the guy standing furthest to the right, being actually equipped with a gun. It’s instantly clear to him that he’s going after that one, the man on the right, and that Robin is going to start picking off the other men, going left to right. Without turning around, with an accurate estimation of the distance he has to cross, Batman takes half a step and flips back to close the gap between himself and the gun-carrying criminal. Even half way through the air, before he’s landed, he already has a firm idea of how stunned the goon is, letting him know this course of attack was not expected and that the guy has nothing to offer in the way of resistance. As he knocks the man to the floor and then proceeds to kick the gun out of his hands, Bruce is acutely aware that Robin has already proceeded to take down the first of the remaining five men. One of the other gang members uncontrollably yelps in terror and he and two of the other fellows still standing take an instinctive step back. The guy now last on the right tries to go for the gun by going through the man that took it out of the equation and, though Batman’s back is turned to this scene, he still knows exactly where the hoodlum tries to connect. He swings around just in time to catch the man’s fist, grabbing it so hard that the sound of a bone being cracked can be heard despite the labored breaths coming from all of them. He then twists the goon’s arm, forcing him to his knees just long enough to be handcuffed. Even before Batman looks back up, he is sure that Robin has overtaken another one of the gang members. This is going to be easier than it should have been, and Batman has to be grateful for that. He and Robin then take perfectly opposing stances around the remaining two men and in less than fifteen more seconds, the fight is over. The six cuffed and roped figures they leave in their wake on the docks are a pathetic looking bunch and Gotham police should have no problems picking them up once they notify the cops of the goons’ exact whereabouts, the nature of their attempted crime and where their gun can be found.
En route to the campus of Gotham College, Batman informs the police on all they need to know and it’s only after he cuts off communication that he reflects on what they’ve just been through. He knew things he shouldn’t have. He has no way of explaining that. He’s seen plenty of weird things over the years of his crime fighting career and he’s certainly adept at estimating what his opponents will do in a battle, but this night he didn’t estimate. He knew. More specifically, he was aware precisely of what Robin would have been able to perceive. Bruce senses his confusion mixing with Dick’s and he pulls the batmobile into one of several hidden parking spots he has scattered around the city.
“Bruce…” comes a whisper from his passenger exactly when he knows it will and a theory forms in his mind. “But it can’t be…” Dick insists, yet they both feel these words are the last, dying signs of protest in the face of what has happened to them. Their minds have somehow become interlinked. Dick wants to further test this, but he can’t dream up a more appropriate exam than what they’ve just been through. Desperate, he pulls his right hand behind his back and into an imperfect fist. “Three,” Bruce says and that’s indeed the number of fingers they both know Dick was holding. It’s a still test, it could possibly just be a coincidence but it’s in the way that they experience it that they find the proof for that theory. They share an acknowledgement of defeat, that they can no longer delay the necessity to adjust to their new reality, that they can both sense everything that the other one feels and thinks now. Bruce tries to concentrate on comforting thoughts, maybe a vague promise they can fix this, undo it, but the very effort they both sense that he is putting into it indicates that he doesn’t quite believe himself, indeed, that he doesn’t perceive himself to be too good at this sort of thing, being comforting. It’s ok, though, because the very moment he makes room for his own ineptitude in his consciousness, Bruce can feel Dick’s amusement at this, as well as his gratitude for the very attempt. And then, like sunshine tearing apart the clouds of a storm with its glow, Bruce can feel Dick’s love.
God, can he feel it. It takes him over completely and causes him to choke up, it’s so glorious. As beautiful as Dick has always been, this may be the most beauty Bruce has ever experienced when looking at him and it’s almost overpowering. He wonders if Dick can now feel Bruce’s love, as well as his desire, and he’s ashamed, deeply. But then he senses Dick’s joy, the tears that hang in his eyes... His gratefulness for not being alone with this attraction after all.
Every bit of shame and guilt Bruce has ever had over his lust retreats in the face of such brilliance and is replaced with a new determination to never let Dick feel so alone ever again. Before he knows it, they’re kissing. He’s not even sure which one of them initiated the kiss, but he can feel it through both of them. When his tongue slips into Dick’s mouth, when he holds onto the back of this precious man’s head in order to draw them closer and deepen the kiss, he gets to experience what it’s like to have this kind of physical intimacy with Dick while also feeling what it’s like for the man Bruce is holding in his arms. It’s intoxicating. He’s tingling all over, doubly so. Dick’s pulling him into an embrace and their bodies are deliciously coming into friction all over. Bruce experiences the length of his own lust, its hardness, through Dick. Turned on doesn’t quite describe how they are feeding off of their own and each other’s sensations and their kiss becomes more urgent, desperate even.
Dick pulls Bruce closer and then on top of him, and it occurs to them both that they are about to do this in the small space of the batmobile, behind its darkened windows as it’s parked in its hidden location. There’s a note of hesitation from Bruce, but he’s immediately reassured by Dick’s feeling that this spot, where they’ve shared so much of themselves on too many nights to count, this spot is just the right one. Was always meant to be. Their kissing resumed, Bruce starts pulling up Robin’s costume, feeling the skin beneath it, grazing the sensitive nipples, then he pinches one. Dick’s moan fills his mouth and the young man’s pleasure - his mind. Bruce doesn’t hesitate in where to move to next, it’s all mapped out for him within his own thoughts, no need to ask any questions, and he never could have guessed that there can be such total satisfaction as he has in knowing that he’s giving Dick exactly what he wants and needs. Bruce is undressing them both, aided here and there by the man he loves, the man he was meant for, and they’re so in sync in this that he can barely believe any of it. The way they move together. The way they fit. The way they keep anchoring each other with their kisses, their touches, their shared perceptions. Their deepening passion is constantly enhanced and Bruce starts thinking he may fall apart from all of this, when Dick’s certainty overtakes him, that this kind of falling apart is worth it.
Bruce doesn’t have any lube on him, so they improvise with some of the hand lotion Dick keeps in the batmobile’s glove compartment. When Bruce is pouring some of it over his fingers, his partner’s anticipation sweetening the moment, Dick brings his hand up, their fingers intertwine and Bruce’s breath catches. They reach down together, Dick guiding their movement, then his eyes roll back and close as together, they breach him. Bruce breaches him. It’s unfathomable for both men. Dick gasps and his impatience burns in Bruce so hotly that there is no choice but to move faster, harder, just as is being demanded, and he removes his fingers. Dick is beyond aware that there is more to follow, yet there’s no way to stop the groan of dissatisfaction that escapes his lips at the sudden emptiness and Bruce feels it too, so keenly that it almost, almost serves to slow him down. He’s too eager, though, and so he positions himself at the entrance to Dick’s body and they both move at the exact same moment, Bruce pushing in, Dick wrapping his legs up around his lover’s hips, pulling him further in, deeper than intended. They gasp and groan, their sounds mixing together, because there is no way to contain all of this, Bruce’s awe, Dick’s heat around him, the fullness of having Bruce inside, the sweet pain of being precisely where one has always belonged. Dick reaches up and kisses Bruce as he again forces the man further in, and then again, greedy. He shakenly kisses an eyebrow, a cheek, the neck where it curves and Bruce moves inside Dick, thrusts deeper, they can simultaneously feel the act of penetrating and the sensation of being penetrated, they share the feeling of being whole. Dick is consumed by all he’s sensing, is over-flooded with so many different impressions that he can’t keep track of everything anymore and his orgasm hits him almost as a surprise. His muscles clench around Bruce and it’s through him that Dick feels how tight he’s squeezing and it’s also through the other man’s ears that it becomes possible for him to realize that he has been practically howling through all of this. Just then, Dick becomes aware that he’s about to be filled with the essence of the man he has loved for as long as he could remember. When it happens, he just tries to concentrate on breathing through the utter bliss. When Bruce is about to collapse on top of him, Dick firmly holds his body, grants him the possibility of letting go. They caress each other as their bodies calm down, every touch doubly experienced. Neither one can put any of the things they’re thinking into words, but they remain connected in all of them and as weird as it should be, it feels right.
Dick opens his mouth and even though Bruce’s head is turned away, his finger is instantly right there, sinking in as another one traces the lines of Dick’s upper lip. They’re as content as they dare believe anyone can ever be. Bruce is taking it all in and, surrendering to a wave of gratefulness that washes over him ever so powerfully, he finds, to the amazement of both of them, tears falling from his eyes.