A/N: I HAD A CRAVING it is not yet satisfied
The Detective never looks away, not once. Unflinching, unyielding, unashamed – it is both pleasing and comforting, amusing, in its own way.
"Eyes on me, Detective." The boy smiles, and something of it reaches his eyes.
Tim coughs, the old dilapidated building creaking and groaning around him as he picks his way through debris. Of all the times for communications to be down, Tim winces, pain shooting up his right leg. He taps his ear communicator again, gets nothing but static.
"Ah, there you are." Tim blinks, eyes stinging from dust. He considers saying, this is a private line or you shouldn’t be on our frequencies, perhaps something to the extent of what the hell do you want. He doesn’t. Instead, he sighs, resting his weight against a wall that he hopes won’t collapse and replies -
"Yes. Here I am. Please, send assistance."
He wonders if it’s in bad manners to refuse a gift. It’s an unwanted gift – but a gift, none-the-less. It’s a gift from an enemy. Granted, an enemy who he’s worked with and entertains a certain sort of…something with.
Tim pokes at the vehicle with the tip of his bo staff, and is only half-surprised when it doesn’t explode or release some sort of gas. He reaches up to the ear piece he’s kept on almost every night since Paris -
"Thank you, I think. I’ve always wanted…a lime green vespa."
Tim flushes, grabbing Ra’s by the wrist before anyone can notice either of their presences and pulls him out of Bruce’s line of sight.
"Are you insane?” He hisses through his teeth, ducking his head around the doorway to make sure that everyone is still caught up in entertaining the various socialites and media parties present. “I mean, great – you’ve just returned to your prime after your dip in the fountain of youth, but do you have to flaunt it in front of B?”
The older man (who looks to only be around Bruce’s age, maybe younger, now) blinks, like he’s completely innocent.
"Was it wrong of me to wish to see you, my beloved, and hope that my appearance would please you?"
"Your appearance only pleases me when it’s at an appropriate time and venue. How did you live to be so long when you have such horrible timing?”
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today –"
Tim’s face, covered by the veil, is pinched as he hisses under his breath. “Neither of us is even religious.”
Ra’s ignores him, listening to whatever it is the ninja is whispering in his ear while the vicar rambles on.
”- to join together this man and this…man in holy matrimony, which is – “
He can’t breathe in this dress. The next time Ra’s abducts him for elopement he’s going to convince someone about the practicalities of not putting him in a dress. Namely that he won’t feel like passing out mid-ceremony or feel like stabbing someone with a high heel.
Ra’s waves his hand, “Apologies, we are on a schedule. If you could move onwards to the end, that would be most appreciated.”
The priest looks nervous, looks to Tim like he has any say in this. Tim shrugs because the effort of breathing is getting pretty hard to focus on. He clears his throat, before nervously skipping forward -
"Who gives this…man in marriage to this – "
"Do you – "
The priest looks very disturbed at this point, and Tim wonders why he wasn’t disturbed at any point before this one. He turns to Tim, almost pitying and well, at least, someone understands how he feels -
"And do you – "
"Irrelevant." Ra’s cuts him off, Tim glares through his veil and snaps -
"Excuse me. Relevant. And yes.”
"That is rather surprising, beloved."
"I now pronounce you husband…and husband. You may kiss the…groom."
"Already done." Ra’s turns, swooping Tim up into his arms, ignoring Tim’s snapped protests, "Prepare the car."
As they leave the building Tim pinches the bridge of his nose, “I swear you only do this for the honeymoon.”
Gotham is bathed in the light of fire and flashing blue-red police lights, echoes with the sound of sirens and rushing helicopter blades.
But all the roaring tides of the ocean couldn’t drown out, wash out, the sound of Ra’s victory or fill the silence of Tim’s absence.
"I don’t need you following me around everywhere I go.” Tim holds the door closed against the ninja attempting to open it, mentally cursing Ra’s to every single torment he can think of. “I mean. I’m not going to slip and crack my skull taking a shower. I’m one hundred percent certain that I’m not going to be assassinated or assaulted if you just wait outside.”
The door knob continues to rattle. “Sir, if you do not open this door we have been given orders to break it down.”
Tim congratulates himself on not stabbing anyone with the hidden knives he keeps underneath the bathroom sink.
"Can we compromise? I’ll open the door, but you stay outside, don’t look in, and I promise to scream if anything happens?"
There’s silence on the other side before a ninja replies -
"The master will only acquiesce if you agree to cameras being installed to monitor you."
"For the love of –”
He carries his marks with his head held high, shoulders thrown back, calm acceptance on his lips. As he walks through Ra’s fortress, loose shirt that isn’t his draped over his shoulders, flowing black pants hanging low on his hips, he shows the colored marks on his skin without regret or embarrassment.
Because he knows that he has returned them upon their maker, two fold.
"I swear, sometimes I think your only goal in life is to give me ulcers or something. I don’t want to think about the or something. Stop looking at me like that. No – no, don’t pull that innocent look on me. You’re, frankly, too old for it to work. By definition, Ra’s al Ghul is incapable of pulling the innocent look. By definition. No – no, stop that. That isn’t an excuse for you to – “
Tim throws his hands up in the air as Ra’s descend on his hips.
"Fine. Whatever. I give up. Ugh. You are such a stubborn goat.”
There are many types of strength – and his Detective possesses several of them. Ra’s trails his fingers over Timothy’s side, raises an eyebrow at Timothy’s narrowed eyes. Timothy swings a leg over Ra’s hip, fluidly moving onto his knees and perching on his lap. Strength of form.
"You keep me up at night then you refuse to let me sleep in the mornings." Ra’s taps his fingers on top of Timothy’s thigh as the Detective crosses his arms, tilts his head. "I’m beginning to think this is a ploy to deprive me of sleep and make me go insane."
"I would think it would not be so simple." Strength of spirit and strength of mind. "You are much harder to break than that."
Timothy yawns, sliding off Ra’s and back onto the bed, eyes slipping closed. “Such a flatterer.”
He is called a murderer, a terrorist. But he does it for the sake of life.
What he does is – usually – illegal. Debatably immoral.
What does that make Tim?
"Your blatant disregard for my welfare is astounding." Tim declares as Ra’s makes himself at home in Tim’s home. “Someday someone – Bruce, Dick, I don’t know, maybe Cass, is going to wander in here. See you. Not see me, because when this day comes I will make sure to be as far away from here as possible. And they will probably flip the ever loving fuck out.”
"You aren’t my parent, and if you were that would be horrible of you to be fucking me. Anyway. After their initial flip out they will hunt me down and lock me up in the most secure location they can find and it will drive me insane. I repeat. Your concern for my wellbeing is fantastically lacking. Get out of my house.”
Is it wrong? Undoubtedly.
Does it feel good? Obviously.
Does he regret a single moment of this? Not until after he leaves.
Tim’s smile is one hundred percent fake, plastic, and manufactured when he tosses it at the flashing cameras.
"And who is this gentleman with you tonight, Mr. Drake-Wayne?" The hand on his hip slides lower before Tim pointedly removes himself from Ra’s arms.
"An acquaintance who hasn’t been in town in a very long time. We’ve just been catching up." Ra’s hand catches his wrist, long fingers warm and gentle as he raises Tim’s hand to brush a kiss along his knuckles. The camera flashes are blinding. Tim’s eyes narrow, though his smile doesn’t slip. "He’s foreign."
Lips press to the inside of his wrist, sliding the sleeve of his dress shirt and suit away to reveal more skin. There are spots in Tim’s vision from cameras and there are microphones being shoved in his face – Ra’s turns him away from them, arm sliding around his waist, leading him into a restaurant that Tim had no intention of going into, god he was just going home for the night – and addresses the media over their shoulders, eyes not once leaving Tim’s face.
"If you would excuse us, there is much that we must catch up on. My beloved and I, that is."
Ra’s holds his wrists, thumbs gently brushing over the pale blue veins that show through, gentle and almost absent minded as he raises Tim’s hands to his lips. Tim bites down on his lip to suppress the jolt of surprise when the man presses his lips to each digit, tongue sliding against Tim’s skin – hot, hot, hot.
He watches, fascinated, as the man worships his hands, takes the involuntary twitch of his fingers with a small smile, presses his thumbs to Tim’s bones, and tongues at the skin between fingers.
Tim wonders if he will be allowed to return the favor.
"It’s not like I knew he would do that!” Tim snaps, pressing his face into a pillow and repressing the urge to scream as the television blares about Timothy Drake-Wayne’s exotic, elder, boyfriend. “I was – I was going home and I didn’t – ugh.”
Damian is swearing, fluently and without pause, in at least four languages that Tim can catch, Bruce is giving him a look, and Dick is just staring at the television in slack-jawed horror.
Abruptly, Dick reaches out and grasps Tim’s shoulder, “Please tell me that you two haven’t actually – you know.”
Tim does not resist his urge to smack Dick in the face, scream of course we haven’t, then bring the pillow back to his own face and scream again.
Long fingers wind through his hair, gently tracing scar tissue, petting. He can’t distinguish the words – although he knows the speaker – that are being said, sung. But it sounds nice.
The hand readjusts the towel on his forehead, fingers lingering at his temple – the voice continuing to sing, hum. Tim tries to open his eyes, instead slips into deeper sleep.
The problem with this relationship, Tim thinks, is that Ra’s would make him into something he isn’t. Ra’s would take him and build him up into some sort of powerful being. Give him tools and training and means to stay out of the fighting, to becomes some sort of legend or person of fame and repute.
That would be nice.
But it wouldn’t be Tim.
Tim belongs here, in the dark and in the dirt. Getting his hands covered in blood and filth, getting dirty and mean right along with the criminals he puts behind bars. This is where Tim thrives – multiple faces, multiple voices, a thousand regimes at the touch of his fingers. Not up somewhere doing one on one battles, earning names and titles.
It’s here. Where names are nothing but layers of shed skin and titles are lies.
Ra’s would have him be word of mouth and shadow.
Tim is blood and bone. There is nothing special about that.
In the privacy of their bedroom, behind the drapes that shield their bed, trapped underneath the weight of Ra’s arms, pushed against the furnace of his blood and bone and skin -
Tim can admit, relinquish the truth, “Yes.”
Yes to everything Ra’s can ever offer, yes to everything Ra’s could ever ask, yes, yes, yes -
But here, and only here, can he say it. Out in the world – the world where he is more than his emotions, more than his needs – he would deny ever having said it.
And Ra’s would never ask.
(He is not the only one with appearances to hold.)
As they pass through the compounds halls, Tim thinks that there’s something fanatical in the absolute devotion displayed by Ra’s minions. Unquestionable, unshakable, unmistakable.
Tim follows at Ra’s side, eyes taking this all in, and laughing.
There are those who would kill to be in Tim’s place – in his position at Ra’s side, in his ear, and, of course, in his bed – but it is because Tim couldn’t care less that it is him who is here.
What is a god to a non-believer?
"Is there somewhere you need to be, Tim?" Bruce narrows his eyes at his middle child, who fidgets, fingers twitching inwards. When Tim gets anxious about time he doesn’t look for clocks or watches (Bruce knows that Tim’s internal clock is accurate enough to conduct trains with), his fingers twitch in count.
Tim looks pained when he answers, “Yes.” Mutters, like Bruce can’t hear, “Unfortunately.”
"Do you…need an excuse not to go?" For a second Tim perks up, then his face sours.
"That would be nice. It wouldn’t work. But it’d be nice." Tim slumps his shoulders. "Excuses never work on him."
Bruce is about to ask him? when Tim stands, straightens his jacket, and moves towards the door just as Alfred opens it, giving Tim a pointed look and Bruce a dry one.
"There is…a ninja waiting for Master Timothy outside. And. These." Alfred holds up a bouquet of tulips. "Were brought for you as well, young sir."
Tim looks like he’s going to be physically sick, but takes them anyway. “Thanks, Alfred. If I’m not back in sixteen hours, I want you to know that I really will miss your everything.”
Ra’s hands on his hips guide his movements, voice low as he counts the steps. Tim’s hands rest, uncertain on the man’s broader shoulders, brows furrowed as he tries to follow the movements.
"I don’t think I’m cut out for dancing."
"You dance very well, beloved." Ra’s replies, only a hint of a smirk in his voice. "Consider the ballroom another battlefield as you do our bed, and I assure you that you will be dancing beautifully in no time at all."
"This isn’t how I imagined dying." Tim declares as he stares at the ceiling of their bedroom. Ra’s hums, paging through a worn copy of Pride and Prejudice. “It’s a lot more colorful than I thought it would be.”
"If you were dying, beloved, I assure you that I would be behaving with much more urgency. Do I appear urgent, to you?"
"No. You appear like the smug bastard you always appear to be." Tim folds his hands over his stomach. "I keep expecting Batman to burst in through the window and rip my head off my shoulders while screaming something about the mission or whatever."
"That would be the high fever."
"I’m going to die."
"I never realized how dramatic you are."
"I think it’s the fever." Tim concedes. "Your skin is purple. Why is it purple? Oh, right. Fever. You put me on the good drugs, didn’t you?”
Without fail, Ra’s always finds the hidden latches on Tim’s costume. Someday, Tim is going to figure out how he keeps finding the damn things and why he doesn’t get electrocuted to hell.
Clearly, today isn’t that day.
"Hate you." Tim huffs as Ra’s lips ghost over his own.
Tim folds his arms over his chest, sheets pooling around his hips as he glares at Ra’s, the clothes he’s holding in his hand, and the guards at the door.
"I didn’t come here to be shown off as your pet.”
Ra’s raises an elegant eyebrow as if to say, your point?
"I have clothes."
"That were lost in the process of you dodging assassins and fleeing your burning hotel room. In the mean time – " Ra’s gestures towards the silks and gold and jewels and -
"Is there anything that wouldn’t make me look like Princess Leia?”
"Princess Leia?" Ra’s frowns, tilts his head. "Who is Princess Leia? I am not familiar with her, which royal family is she from?"
Tim stares, keenly aware of how his jaw has dropped and the way the guards are attempting not to do the same. He shuts his jaw with a small click, narrows his eyes.
"I’ll wear the clothes." Tim holds up a finger when Ra’s tries to respond, "But later this week, you are clearing your schedule and I’m commandeering a very large television. Then you are going to sit down, shut up, and become indoctrinated to the cult of Star Wars."
He hisses, the hand resting on his arm retreating at the sound. Tim clenches his eyes shut, the light – although it must be distant – hurts. The sensation of the cloth – whatever he’s lying on – hurts his skin. Everything hurts.
The voice, Ra’s voice, is low and Tim is certain he’s trying to be soothing – but it booms in his ears, sending sharp spikes of pain through his head. Ra’s barks at someone to shut the door, to turn the lights off, Tim whimpers at the volume. His own voice makes his head ache.
Ra’s makes a soft sound of apology, but the lights turn off and he doesn’t speak again. Nor does he try to touch Tim’s skin.
For that Tim is thankful.
"You are free to do as you wish, of course." Ra’s begins, slowly, as he surveys the room. "Although I must question your taste."
Timothy gives him a flat look before he resumes putting up framed posters of – various things.
"I must ask if you do recall where you are." Ra’s continues as Tim puts up a particularly large image of Superman, next to a picture of Superboy and Kid Flash. Ra’s eyes travel over the various posters and pictures, mostly merchandise that his beloved had bought – using Ra’s resources – and framed. There is even one that looks like a decent replication of his beloved from his days as Robin.
"Yes. As if the ninja checking in every hour and helping me make sure these things aren’t crooked weren’t a good enough reminder." Tim stands back, hands on his hips, tilting his head. "Speaking of, does the Superman poster look off center to you?"
"You enjoy this." Ra’s blinks as Timothy curls into his side, laptop on his lap and online shopping cart gradually filling with merchandise. "That color would not suit you."
Timothy hums, deletes the item in question from his cart, “You’re right, I should get it in a different shade of purple. And yes. I do vastly enjoy the irony of me buying merchandise of my friends and colleagues using your money to decorate your home with.”
"Why," Ra’s continues, as Timothy bites his lip and types in his credit card (Ra’s credit card) information. “Do you need five hundred medium sized, two-hundred large, one hundred and fifty-four extra large, five hundred and fifteen small, and one hundred extra small, men sizes Batman shirts?”
"Because." Tim replies, making a pleased sound when a confirmation page turns up in one of Ra’s email accounts, "It will match the four hundred and sixty five medium, five hundred and fifty seven large, one hundred and seventeen extra large, three hundred small, and one hundred and seven extra small, men sizes Superman shirts. I should probably mention that I am outfitting your ninja for the most epic of ninja training wars ever.”
"Only two sides?"
"I haven’t found an Aquaman shirt pattern I like yet. And I can’t decide on which Robin shirt to use. Don’t worry, I’ve got it all figured out. You can start taking bets now, if you’d like. Talia places three grand on Robin winning after all the groups except Batgirl and Robin are eliminated. Personally, I’m placing it all on Batwoman, just because."
"No one in my family has any taste!" Damian throws up his arms as Tim casually tosses the latest in a series of love letters off to the side to get burned. Tim rolls his eyes.
"Excuse you, you wouldn’t have been born if no one in your family had any taste.” Damian waves his hand.
"Not that side of the family. I meant this side of the family. Honestly? You choose my grandfather as your intended?”
"I didn’t choose him. He chose me and – ugh. I’m not going to talk about this with you. It’s none of your business!”
"It becomes my business if I have to start calling you my grandmother!”
Both of them cringe at the thought.
"Drake, in both our interests, I call a truce towards our animosity in favor of working together to divert my grandfather’s attentions." Tim considers Damian’s outstretched hand before taking it, solemnly shaking it.
"This is the world’s smallest violin playing for your hearing pleasure." Tim holds his fingers together, not looking as Ra’s glares holes in the back of his head. "Besides, it wasn’t like you were doing anything with the money.”
"Surely you have better things to do than toss my wealth around for sheer amusement."
"It’s not for sheer amusement.” Tim rolls his eyes. “It’s investing in WE stock and assisting with various WE projects. I am majority share holder, at the moment. Of course I would do whatever I could to make sure my investment is safe.”
"You are putting funds into the area of production that’s…off the table."
"I’m also Batman’s son, so – really. Really. You’re surprised by this?” Tim turns, shoots Ra’s an incredulous look. “I blew up three of your bases in the past twenty hours, started a civil-rights movement among your ninja, had them form a union, hid your sword, ran away to hide in a random city and hotel, and you’re surprised by this?”
The man sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. Tim inwardly preens. He earned that nose-pinch. It’s like some sort of trophy, a game, to see how many times he can get that particular reaction in a week without the consequences of what follows.
"You are…an anomaly, beloved."
"An anomaly who’s dragged you out of an endless slew of meetings and plotting and scheming to the most romantic city on earth in a very luxurious hotel."
Ra’s shoots him a dry look.
"We are currently on a cruise ship off the coast of Mexico, this room is smaller than your closet in my estates."
"Well." Tim folds his arms, "It’s always the thought that counts."