Tim's perched on the rooftop peering down over the ledge with infrared goggles when Dick arrives, and for a minute he sees nothing but Bruce in his pose. But as he drops down next to him, Dick changes his mind. Bruce in that position would be stone amidst stone, implacable and grim. Tim just looks old.
"Nightwing," he says as Dick crouches next to him.
"Hey, kid." Dick had been planning on saying more, but most casual greetings sound bizarre addressed to someone who buried his father only a few weeks ago. How are you? How's it going? Nice day, huh?
No wonder he and Batman never used to have these kinds of conversations.
He clears his throat. "I had some free time, thought I'd drop by."
"I hope you don't mind." Tim gestures down to the street. "I don't think Cheslin will be coming out tonight, but I don't want to take the chance."
Cheslin? He wasn't starting small. "No problem. It's not like we've never had a conversation on a rooftop before."
There's a long pause, and no conversation at all results. Dick wonders if he should have brought hot chocolate in a thermos or something, but it's a warm night.
"I wasn't really expecting you," Tim says finally. "Are you coming back to Bludhaven?"
Startled, Dick shifts his gaze away, to the tumbledown skyline. "There's not really a whole lot here for me anymore."
"You used to tell me how much you loved this city. That it might be pathetic, but at least it was yours. That's why--"
Tim cuts himself off, but Dick knows. Tim has always stepped in to do his job when he couldn't anymore. Tim was looking after his city, and Dick didn't even...
"He needs me, Robin. It's bad in Gotham right now, with the cops on our tail and Black Mask running the gangs. It's like we're back at square one."
There's another silence. Tim's knuckles are white where they grip the goggles. Dick starts to wonder if Tim thinks he meant that as a criticism, if he thinks Dick blames him for leaving. He's about to say something when Tim says, "Are you sleeping with him?"
His eyes are still fixed on the street below. "Just tell me, all right? I need to know, and I'm going to find out, and I'd rather hear it from you."
Tim's tone is dry, like he's trying to be sophisticated, detached, adult about it, but Dick hears the shake in his voice. And...he supposes Tim deserves to know, anyway. It's not like he could expect to keep it a secret for long. "It's not what you'd call a relationship."
"So that's it?" Tim finally slips the goggles off and turns to look up at Dick. This close, suddenly flushed, mouth trembling, he doesn't look like an old man at all. He looks like a lost boy. "He does--what he did, and people die, but you still--he just puts out his hand and takes you?"
Dick tries to smile. "He didn't take me. It was mutual. It was..."
He trails off. He doesn't have the words to say what it is, not to Tim, not even to himself. Maybe he never will. Tim isn't hearing him, anyway. "For himself. Away from--"
He clenches his fist in his green glove and presses his mouth into its back. Dick grabs his shoulder and rubs it. He doesn't--he can't do anything about what happened last summer, but this, he can speak to. "Hey, hey. Don't talk like that, Robin. He couldn't take me away from you even if he wanted to."
Tim looks up at him, eyes glistening and black. "Prove it."
If Tim wants him to jump off the building with him, help rescue babies from a fire or hijack an airplane of bad guys, he would be happy to. But he's not prepared--at least, not entirely prepared--for Tim to launch himself at him, knocking him backwards and pressing his mouth hard against Dick's own.
Tim is small, but when Dick's hands come up to catch him below his arms, he's compact with muscle, the solid feel that Dick likes. And Tim--God, Dick's pretty sure that Tim's never even been with a girl. He tries to disentangle them gently, pushing back until Tim's not quite in his lap anymore.
"Tim, wait. You should stop and think--"
"I have thought," Tim says fiercely. "I've thought about it and thought about it and now I want to know."
Tim's not really his type physically, too small no matter how muscular, but it's not like Dick never felt the giddiness that came from Tim's early hero worship, or the strange shiver of seeing Tim in his costume, called by his name, as if they were one. You'd think after all this time he'd be better at saying no. But this is Tim, the boy he let Bruce drag into the mess that's cost him family, friends, loved ones, until now he's as alone as he and Bruce were. He gathers Tim back to him, wishing briefly that he had a cape to cover them from the eyes of the city. He settles for sinking into the deepest part of the shadow of the ledge.
Tim kisses his throat and runs his hands over Dick's chest through the costume. He's all nervous energy beneath the discipline of his training, something he obviously can't will out of himself. It's strange to feel him being awkward and clumsy, not sure of what he wants. Tim's read all the books, Dick's sure, but for once they're not much help. Dick steadies him with both hands, stroking down his arms in long overlapping glides, and Tim takes a deep breath and gazes up at him. His eyes are little more than a glint, a deeper dark in the black, but it's too much, it's enough. Dick has never been able to resist the sense that he could plunge into someone's need and rescue them from drowning. Not in Gotham, and not here.
He surrenders, leaning forward to kiss Tim's cheek, then his mouth, slow and gentle. They can't undress here, much as Dick would like to soothe Tim's skin all over, and too much fumbling underneath heavily-armored costumes could cause problems, too, so he contents himself with mapping Tim's upper body with his fingertips, caressing the ridges of his abs and then circling his nipples slowly until he can just detect the hardness beneath the Kevlar. Tim gives a little choked gasp from the discovery of the odd, almost itching sensation of the discomfort of armor against stiffening flesh. Dick's always liked that feeling, enjoyed straining against it, but--"Is that okay?"
Tim nods, biting his lip. "Yes," he breathes.
His hands settle on Dick's shoulders, and of course he finds the bruises Bruce has left. Dick wraps one arm around Tim's waist and feels in the dark at his shorts with his free hand. Tim whimpers as he finds his cock, and then digs in with his fingers along the sore muscles of Dick's upper back. Dick accepts it, even savors it--someone has to pay for all this, it might as well be him--as he gets Tim free and curls his fingers loosely around him. Tim's already hard. Dick remembers himself at that age, working himself frantically in those brief, rare moments of guaranteed solitude when Bruce was at some social engagement, consumed with fragments of images--a tight mouth, a callused hand, a flare of black fabric--he never allowed to coalesce. It never took long, and the relief never lasted long, either. Tim has all the privacy he wants now, and Dick wonders briefly what he sees when he does this himself.
Dick doesn't want to rush it, but he doesn't want to make Tim wait, either. It seems too unkind when Tim has been waiting for years. So he only blows gently on the head for a few seconds before beginning. Tim rocks into his rhythm on his shaft, and soon they are moving faster and faster. There's just enough friction against Dick as Tim thrusts for him to be pulled into it as well, confusing his sense of just who this is for. Tim is so near, his second self, and so wanting, that it's perfectly natural to fall into the maelstrom with him. Tim is grunting faintly, and Dick groans louder, trying to let him know that it's okay, he can let go, Dick will cover him, always--and Tim comes hard in his hand, burying his face at the last second in Dick's shoulder to muffle his hoarse shout.
Half a second and an unbelievably long time later, he moves to pull away, but Dick is already there, holding him firmly and twining his fingers in his hair. "I've got you, Tim, I've got you," he murmurs in his ear, and kisses it, feeling the tenderness of the lobe against his mouth. Tim resists half-heartedly, then relaxes. Dick shuts his eyes and listens to the patter of his heart, waiting for it to slow. Waiting for them to surface together.
"Are you going to tell him?" Tim says finally.
"No." Dick makes little circles with his fingertips in his scalp. "It's not about him, Robin."
"Oh." Tim sounds surprised. He never thinks that anything is about himself. He shifts. "Are you...I mean, did you...?"
His hard-on is softening, but not gone. "Let me worry about that, okay?"
Tim laughs a little, thickly. "I didn't mean to be quite so demanding."
"I think you're entitled." Dick feels a twinge, thinking of how little this was to give him. Bruce had claimed so many other things Tim might have had a right to.
"I should--there are things--"
"Right." But Dick doesn't move until Tim peels himself away. They both have materials that will do for cleanup, even if they weren't exactly designed for it, and the thought of using space-age fabric for the chore makes them both chuckle at the same time, and meet each other's eyes. Dick's glad to see something like naturalness in Tim's glance.
"Are you going back to Gotham?" Tim asks as he gets up.
"I told him I'd be back before dawn."
He hesitates. "Will you come here again?"
Dick rises and grasps his shoulder. "As long as you're here, Robin, there's still something for me in Bludhaven."
Tim smiles, wanly. "Thanks, Nightwing."
"Hey." He cuffs Tim on the arm. "What are former Robins for?"
Tim watches as Dick climbs on the ledge and sets his line. He thinks of a large soft bed in a silent room, and Bruce's wordless embrace, and he lets himself fall.