Posts tagged preview
Fact #1: I am not going to make my self-imposed writing deadline this weekend due to work-related things.
Fact #2: I have started the Bruce/Jason mini series that explains their backstory.
Fact #3: It may be the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever written.
Fact #4: I can’t write a public Bruce Wayne without laughing.
Jason grinned when their eyes met; the pants and striped polo shirt Alfred had picked out for him that morning were torn and stained with dirt and blood. A darkening bruise on his left cheek gave his mentor a pretty good indication as to why he had been called out of the office on such short notice. Slouched in the chair, his arms throw over the side, Jason’s attitude was outwardly belligerent. He waved his hand.
The billionaire gave his slacks a small tug as he sat in the other chair.
“Jason. I’m pretty sure you didn’t look like that when you left home this morning.”
The boy snorted, swiping a hand under his nose. “I fell off my bike.”
The principal cleared his throat, resuming his position behind his desk. Jason spared him the barest of glances.
“I fell off my bike into a bunch of a-holes.”
Bruce was polite enough not to smile past the plastered playboy expression he’d worn into the room. But Jason could see the amusement flicker at the corner of his eyes. Shifting forward, he looked to the principal.
“So what appears to be the problem, Mr. Randall? My boy says he fell off his bike. Has he been to see a nurse?”
The best part of being a passenger with a borrowed laptop is the ability to type on the road. The best part of the modern age is the free wi-fi at every rest stop between point A and point B.
This is too cute. Hopefully, I’ll have it done for the weekend.
“Hey, can I drive?” he asked eagerly, meeting a few steps from the curb. Bruce pulled the keys from his pocket and Jason’s face lit up.
“No,” he replied, bypassing him completely and popping the driver’s side door.
Jason’s heart sank. “Aw, come on. You never let me drive this car. It’s not made of gold, or nothing—”
“Anything,” Bruce corrected, closing his door.
“—and it’s not even the most expensive one you own. What gives, Bruce?” the boy demanded, walking toward the passenger side as his mentor revved her engine. He grinned, hopping the door, landing easily beside him. “I’d treat her nice.”
“Seat belt,” Bruce said simply.
Jason fumbled with his belt. “So when are you gonna let me drive her?”
“When you learn to work a stick,” his mentor quipped a second before he manipulated the clutch, squealing out of the high school parking lot.
Oh my god. I’m actually in a hotel with hot water. And two beds.
And shampoo that smells like a Yankee candle. I blame that for writing more food into 81. Because the other alternative is that I’m food obsessed. There is no other explanation.
Why are they always eating? It’s true, isn’t it? The boys do nothing but eat and jerk off, don’t they? That’s earth 81—the eating jerk off extravaganza.
Wow. Ok. Well. I learned something new about myself tonight, I guess.
That, and I want pancakes. Because of Jason.
Oh, my god. Jason. This kid. I want to go out and by an expensive car as bait for a cute little orphan kid to try and steal my hubcaps. I knew I was going to love writing this, but…seriously. The kid is breaking my heart in all the right places.
I want one.
Jason followed his eyes. “The diner?” he asked, confusion evident as he unbuckled his seatbelt and vaulted out of the car. Bruce took the more dignified and traditional route, opening his door and standing. He shut it.
The boy arched a brow as they started to walk, looking behind them as they mounted the sidewalk. “You’re just gonna leave her here? In this neighbourhood? She’ll be stripped by the time we get back!”
Bruce looked down at his charge; amusement creased the corners of his eyes.
“Oh, yeah, sure,” Jason quipped, raising his hands and dropping them. “Crack on the street kid. I swear you set your cars up as bait and just wait around to add talented orphans to your collection, or something.”
The man actually laughed at that. “I thought you could use a little brother.”
Jason’s laugh was sharp and snarky. “I bet that’s what you said to Dick the night I boosted your caps.”
God, this thing is killing me…
It hurts so good.
If the writing bug sticks with me and I can continue to channel the snarky voice of Jason Todd, I just might have more 81 for this weekend. Fingers crossed.
Bruce looked up, blinking sleep out of his eyes. He frowned. “Jason?”
The boy smiled, waving a wet hand, sticky with juice. It dripped down his wrist and into the rolled sleeves of his shirt
“Hey, Bruce.” He smiled, wiping black hair out of his eyes with the back of his hand. Flour was smeared across his nose and over the fading bruise on his cheek. Taking another peach from the bowl of water beside him, he went back to peeling the fruit with slow, awkward deliberation.
Bruce’s brow dipped further. He drank deeply from his mug, then refilled it from the pot. Alfred hummed quietly to the jazz on his little black radio as he manipulated the rolling pin with an effortless skill.
The man blinked, running a hand through his tousled hair. Something wasn’t right. He drank more coffee, wincing as it finally hit his stomach. Sighing, he walked between the two bakers to the refrigerator, reluctantly lightening the coffee with creamer. The door fell shut when he released; he stared out the window at the bird feeder and drank. The sun crawled lazily toward its zenith.
Bruce lowered his mug and looked at his ward. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”
“Wow. Batman’s observation skills are crap after dawn, huh?” Jason joked.
“Bats, Master Jason,” Alfred said, transferring the bottom layer of crust to a glass dish. “Work best in the dark.”
“No kidding,” the boy said with a grin, putting down a peeled peach and picking up another. He caught the slippery fruit as it slid out of his hands, licking juice off his fingers. Bruce stared, the mug paused halfway to his lips. Shaking his head, he lowered it with a frown.
“Robin, why aren’t you in school?”
Jason’s brow shot up and he whistled. Even Alfred’s motions halted.
“Geez, Bruce. You’re not just tired, you’re a dead man walking. Why don’t you go back to sleep before you accidentally give the mailman the access code for the Batcave?”
Because you all were awesome enough to help a guy out, have some preview. I’m pretty confident this thing’ll be up some time this weekend. I love writing these two…
“Blast,” Alfred swore. Bruce’s grip loosened and Jason reclaimed his wrist as they broke their gaze. “A gentleman of my background and disposition is at a distinct disadvantage in this country. I do believe the colonies invented their own system of measurement specifically out of spite to the empire.” The butler squinted at the fine print in his cookbook, glancing at the pot simmering on the stove. “’Pour twenty-four ounces of the mixture into egg base’…bloody ounces. I suppose it would be far too much trouble to put this into good Queen’s English.”
Jason lowered his head, rubbing his wrist. “It’s a pint and a half,” he muttered. Bruce gave him an inquisitive look as Alfred turned. He shook hair out of his eyes, looking from one to the other. “Twenty-four ounces is a pint and a half. Or forty-eight tablespoons.”
The butler smiled. “Ah, very good, Sir. That’s most helpful.”
Bruce’s expression was thoughtful. “And if he made three batches?”
Jason didn’t blink. “He’d need seventy-two ounces, four and a half pints, or a hundred and forty-four tablespoons.”
First, I managed to slice my finger open making breakfast this morning so typing is a bitch. I apologize for not replying to comments right now, but I’ll get to them as soon as I’m able.
Second, how the hell is it that every time I go to write something into 81, the damn thing shows up on my dash? It’s amazing and creepy.
Here, have some preview of the next installment. It’s what I managed before the knife slipped.
Tim slid onto the stool, tugging the sundress into position with practiced ease. He tensed as Jason leaned over, putting a hand on his knee, moving under the slit that exposed his thigh. His fingers played with the knife Tim had strapped to his garter.
“What do you think, baby? Hey, give my lady something with an umbrella in it, would you?” Jason decided. “I’ll take mine strong and straight up.” He winked.
“Sure thing, slick,” the bartender replied, moving to comply. “Mai Tai coming right up.”
“Get away from me,” Tim commanded lowly when they were alone enough not to be overheard, his eyes dark and irate under the tastefully and meticulously applied makeup he’d laboured over that morning. Jason’s hand slid toward his inner thigh.
“We booked passage on the fucking love boat,” the other man murmured; Tim jerked when Jason’s free hand settled on the back of his neck, playing with the wisps of hair that had escaped the sloppy bun he’d pulled the wig into. “And you’re acting like a goddamn virgin.” His fingers tightened and Tim made a sound that could have easily been mistaken for desire by outside observers. Only Jason knew it for the warning it was.
“You need to lighten the fuck up, or we’re never going to find him.”
Tim grit his teeth and held his gaze. Jason’s normally blue eyes were coloured with brown contacts and his black hair was freshly dyed. Dressed in a bright white suit with a flashy red shirt, he looked like a completely different person.
Except the shitty little smirk that sat on the corner of his mouth.
The younger man didn’t resist when Jason raised his chin, though his entire body tensed. When their lips met, he closed his eyes and went through the periodic table starting numerically with the lowest atomic number.
Jason coaxed his lips apart and Tim didn’t deny him; the logical part of his mind knew the other man was right. They were there for a reason. They needed to blend in. Bruce was living on borrowed time. If kissing Jason Todd got them closer to their goal, he should have been waiting with arms wide open.
But he couldn’t get over the pesky voice in his head that reminded him that the former Robin had tried to kill him.
I would like to blame this on the music that I’m listening to. It may just be the maudlin mood I’m in tonight.
A preview for the fourth part of R&D. After Jason and Tim have adventures in cross-dressing.
“You know, it was so damn hot in Singapore, I almost forgot how cold it was in Gotham,” Jason murmured, shoving his hands further into his pockets. Even with his coat zipped all the way to the collar, the cold slipped beneath it, teasing the ends of the red scarf Alfred insisted he wear. When it was clear the butler wouldn’t be able to sway his mind from leaving the manor in his condition, the young man had relented on the accessory. It was the least he could do. The gun shot wounds in his chest weren’t healed; not by far. But standing no longer lead to fits of vertigo and he considered that a marked improvement.
“I always wondered what this looked like,” he continued conversationally when the man at his back didn’t answer. He glanced up as a snowflake landed on his frozen nose, staring impassively at the large, grey clouds that muffled the sky. “I wasn’t sure if you’d go for one of those large, phallic looking monuments or something simple.” His voice faded just a little. “Leave it unmarked.”
His gaze lowered. “The angel’s classier than I am, don’t you think? Did you pick it out yourself?” His mouth twitched, but it wasn’t a smile. “I bet it was Alfred. He always did give me too much credit.”
Snow began to fall, slowly at first. Like winter was waking up, still blinking back sleep. Jason raised his face to the sky and closed his eyes.
“Always makes me think of you, you know. Cold and quiet,” Jason whispered. “Deadly. Safe.”
He felt the man move more than he heard him; Bruce’s footsteps, ever soundless, did not betray him.
“Did you miss me, old man?” he asked. His voice was a traitor, thick and telling.
Bruce’s hands were firm. Warm through one of Dick’s faded denim jackets that didn’t quite fit him in the shoulders. His grip was tight.
Jason bowed his head as the snow fell harder. When Bruce’s arms wound around him, he found swallowing unexpectedly difficult. The man’s embrace was deceptively gentle and Jason was almost surprised his physical wounds didn’t register the pain of his presence.
But there were other wounds, older and harder to heal, that were excruciating.
“I won’t ask your forgiveness,” he said when he could speak past the knot in his throat.
There was a flash of pain as the arms around him tightened; Bruce made a sound like sighing, something low and gutteral that was lost on the wind as it blew the snow off the stone angel guarding the grave of Jason Todd.
“You already have it.”
This is for Neko as a thank you for battling my Tumblr and making it submit to her will. I love it; it’s awesome. You’re a great friend who deserves more than a klutzy bastard who
replaces all your electronics messes up your work station.
This is severely unedited. But it’ll give you a good idea of what to look forward to in Earth 86.
I hope you like it.
The address written on the back of one of his own business cards was easy enough to find, even in the depths of New York City. Superman stared at the tired building; it appeared to function as a recreational center. A cracked, fenced-in basketball court hugged one side while the other was open to the street. With a small frown, he walked up the few short steps and opened the door.
Room 3B was harder to find, located at the end of a long hallway with harsh fluorescent lighting. He stared at the crackle glass in the little window of the closed door and thought again about turning right around. It wasn’t too late. And no one would ever be the wiser.
Superman swallowed hard. His hand clenched around Clark Kent’s business card, crushing Nightwing’s neat, fluid handwriting.
It would alleviate his embarrassment, but little else. The other vigilante was right—he needed to talk to someone who understood.
Taking a deep breath, he put his hand on the shabby metal knob and turned.
Superman wrinkled his nose at the strong smell of black coffee and cigarette smoke that served as a welcome. Clearing his throat, he closed the door gently behind him and took in the room at a glance, recognizing many of the faces that curiously met his gaze.
The man turned at his name and smiled. “Diana.” He frowned. “What are you doing here?”
“Same as you,” Wonder Woman said as she poured coffee into a Styrofoam cup that looked tiny in her hand. Setting it down, she smacked two sugars against her palm, tore them and dumped them into her cup, stirring with a little plastic straw.
“Hera knows what I’d like to do to him, Clark, if the gods gave me even half a chance.”
Her eyes were hard, but kind, as she drank it down, crushed it in her hand, and tossed it in the wastebasket by the makeshift table.
Superman blinked with surprise. He was thankful when Nightwing’s clear voice called everyone to take a seat.
“I’d like to start by thanking everyone for coming—”
“Goddammit, Dickie, would you just shut the fuck up with all the touchy-feely bullshit, already?”
The Man of Steel frowned at the figure that perched on the fringe of the circle, the apparent source of the thick layer of smoke that couldn’t filter fast enough out the propped windows that lined the far end of the room. He couldn’t remember the vigilante’s name, but he thought it had something to do with the colour red, though there wasn’t an of it in his costume. In fact, aside from a domino that masked his eyes, he could have passed for a civilian.
Nightwing didn’t even miss a beat and remained standing as the others sat in a loose circle in the folding chairs provided.
“—and remind everyone that while we’re here we’d like to respect our anonymity by using our code names only.”
“Yeah, Hood,” Robin spat. “So shut your face before I make my foot do it for you.”
The Red Hood snorted, lighting a second cigarette off the first.
“I’d like to see you try.”
Robin jerked forward and Nightwing slammed him back down into his chair with a firm hand on the shoulder without even flinching. In fact, the blue and black vigilante seemed completely unphased by the display.
“Just not a Wednesday if a Robin doesn’t lose a few feathers,” the Flash said, zipping to his seat next to Superman. He nodded at the other man. “Hey, big guy. Wondered when we’d see you here.”
Feeling confident that the youngest cape wasn’t going to make another unwanted move, Nightwing clapped his hands together and offered a smile to the disgruntled assembly as he took a seat to Robin’s right.
“Burned by the Bat meets here every Wednesday to discuss specific issues with the current Batman.”
Robin stomped a foot as he settled in his chair, crossing his arms fiercely over his chest.
“He’s an imposter,” he hissed.
The Red Hood crinkled an empty pack of cigarettes and took steady aim at the kid’s head.
“He’s the fucking original, you brat.”
“Most of us are here because—” Nightwing didn’t skip a breath, latching onto Robin’s cape and hauling him back into his seat before his attack on the Red Hood could be completed. “—we feel that Batman has wronged us in some way. I created this group to be a safe place for us to share our experiences—”
“God, at least you didn’t say feelings—”
“—and perhaps take comfort in and learn from those experiences,” Nightwing finished. Robin struggled in his grasp, grabbing onto the arm that was locked around his torso, holding him against the taller vigilante. Superman was mildly alarmed that everyone ignored him like it was commonplace.
“We have a new member of the group tonight—” Nightwing’s brilliant smile turned toward him, and Superman glanced around uncertainly.
“Uh, sure. My name is Superman—”
“Hi, Superman,” the group chorused and even the Red Hood managed a wave.
“And I guess I’ve been burned by the Bat.”
A knowing murmur went around the circle. Nightwing’s expression was concerned and sympathetic.
“Would you like to share tonight, Superman?”
The man faltered. “Uh…I think I’d like to observe tonight, if that’s alright with everyone.”
Nearly everyone nodded. Nightwing smiled. “Of course. Would anyone like to start?”
Red Robin stood up almost immediately.
“I’d like to start.”
The Red Hood groaned dramatically and took a drag off his cigarette.
“Oh, here we go…”
Red Robin glared. “You can’t tell me you’re ok with it—he’s downgraded us—he’s calling us interns now,” he snapped.
“It’s ok, Red Robin,” Nightwing said with a gentle smile. “We all understand how you feel. Now why don’t you take a deep breath and tell us all about it?”
So R&D was only supposed to be four parts; by the end, at the characters’ insistence, it will have five parts and the annual that I posted last week. This is a preview of what I hope to have ready for this weekend.
“You are of no relation to me,” Damian said in Jason’s ear as they paused on the edge of route fifty-six. It was dark and the road was shiny and slick, but the rain that had greeted their ride into Gotham had quieted into a steady drizzle.
The entrance to the cave was barely visible from the road. For all intents and purposes, it was a rock wall framed with thick foliage three miles west of Wayne Manor, another three hundred feet off the paved and beaten path.
“Yeah, I heard you the first twelve times, ok?” Jason said, straddling the bike and walking it slowly off the road into the trees. He felt the boy’s hands tighten slightly at his waist as the natural incline rolled them forward, gaining speed.
“I’m not here to argue the definition of a family, kid,” he said, raising his voice to be heard over the branches that snapped under his tires, wrestling the handlebars to keep a relatively straight line with their destination. The smell of wet, rotting leaves was strong and tickled his nose.
“Now open the door, would ya? My secret decoder ring came with a lifetime warranty that I already used up.”
The body behind him shifted; a hand fisted in the back of his coat as the bike lurched unexpectedly to the side and they both cursed.
“Would you watch it,” the boy hissed.
“So says the kid in a bright blue bodysuit.”
“It wasn’t my idea,” Damian informed him, raising his arm. The remote was built into the wrist of his uniform. He touched the sensor that activated the voice control, and spoke the sequence of words that corresponded.
“I know,” Jason said with mock sympathy. He revved the engine as the plant life pulled back and the rock gave way. “Dickie’s always been a fashion victim and you were just the latest casualty. Trust me—I get it. You and me probably got more in common than you think.”
“I highly doubt that,” the boy sneered. Jason got a certain amount of satisfaction when the motorcycle pitched forward into the cave with a growl and the kid slammed into his back with a grunt.
Jason inhaled deeply as they passed the first set of perimeter checks that opened immediately upon recognition of Damian’s sensor. The cave smelled exactly as he remembered, of wet and cold and something sour. His body effortlessly recalled the motions as he bent the bike around the dangerous curves and turns of the catacombs in a way that quietly impressed the boy at his back.
He slowed considerably as they came to the second gate. His eyes picked out the cameras along the wall, as well as the weaponry that would activate if an intruder was detected.
“Hey, kid, work your voodoo magic again,” Jason called over the engine.
“I can’t,” Damian informed him, throwing his left leg over the seat to join his right and sliding to the ground. “Only the Batmobile has automatic clearance.”
“You’re saying you gotta ring the doorbell?” Jason asked with a laugh as the boy strode toward a speaker. Damian glared over his shoulder. The black stripe that ran along his back and down his arms did an eerie job of cutting him in half.
“Authorization?” an unfamiliar voice called over the intercom. Jason frowned.
“Let me in, Drake,” the boy said with obvious irritation. “Or I will disable it myself.”
“Damian?” Dick’s voice came over the line. “I thought I told you to stay in the Haven.”
“Well obviously I had no reason at all to disobey your direct order and am simply wasting your time, Grayson.” Damian shot the man behind him a long suffering look.
Jason began to chuckle.
So commission number two (Dick/Wally) is finished and awaiting orders before posting.
Commission number three (Dick + Tim) is for Neko, who requested that I tease her publicly with the first 5oo words of her 3000 word commission. And I always aim to please. ;)
So here’s your ‘sketch’. I hope you like it.
This is unedited and untitled.
Tim crept across the dark bedroom with a Robin’s trained stealth. Soft light from a high moon granted him just enough to gather his clothing from the floor; his pants and shirt were relatively easy to locate. His briefs gave him so much trouble, he was just about to abandon them for good when he literally stumbled across them. Tripping as quietly as he could, he balanced himself on the wooden dresser and cringed when the framed picture of the Kents fell to the floor.
He froze, eyes flashing to the bed against the far wall. Conner groaned, mumbling something in his sleep, and turned over.
Tim released a shaky breath and put a hand to his face. When he was able to move again without feeling like his legs would fail him, he made his way to the door. Pulling on each layer of clothing with a whispered prayer for silence, he put his hand to the knob and turned it with an agonizing slowness. Opening it took another eternity all together.
Guilt hit the pit of his stomach as he stepped outside his best friend’s bedroom; Tim bit his lip and glanced back.
His analytical mind couldn’t cope with what they’d done or what it could possibly mean. Conner had confessed to being with several lovers already—and how many of them had actually meant something to him?
Tim’s stomach twisted a little tighter; then one of the Kents coughed in their room across the hall and the teenager’s instinct whipped him into action. He was down the stairs before he could question his actions, or entertain alternatives. If it didn’t end up being a complete disaster, he could always tell Conner he’d been called away for an emergency.
Either way, he’d be lying.
It was Batman’s thorough teaching that made him think to grab his shoes from the mat by the front door.
It was the scared teenager that forgot everything else.
Tim fumbled with the phone on the porch, swearing softly when he didn’t get an immediate signal. Trotting away from the house, the dew from the grass wet between his toes, he headed for the road. Occasionally, he flipped it open and checked.
He was a mile away when a single bar registered on the face. Relief was so physical, he nearly fell to his knees. Scrolling through his contacts, he found the one he was looking for and dialed with both hands.
Despite the difference in time zones, the voice on the other end didn’t even sound tired. Tim swallowed hard; his hand clenched the phone.
“Hi, I know it’s late, but…can you pick me up? I’m….” He glanced up, down the road flanked by fields and farmhouses and knew from experience, there wasn’t a trace of civilization more than this for miles.
“I’m in Kansas.”
A tasty teaser before the main course. R&D - Allegiance will be up within the hour.
“So is that the first time you met him?” Conner asked, biting into a fresh-baked apple turnover. He held up a hand when Damian went to answer and his eyes fluttered shut. “Wait, wait, wait—oh, yeah.” The clone shook his head, chewing. “Oh my god, Alfred. You’re amazing. It’s like an org—uh—orchestra of flavour in my mouth.”
Damian arched a brow as the butler chuckled. He placed the remaining pastries one at a time onto a metal rack to cool.
“So happy you approve, Sir.”
Conner sighed, opening his eyes. He flashed the boy a lazy smile.
“Yeah, so. He went lookin’ for you?” The man held up the steaming turnover. “You should really try one of these.”
Damian blinked. Conner thrust the half-eaten pastry in his direction, waving it under his nose.
The boy narrowed his eyes. “I might not be able to maim you using traditional methods, but there are ways.”
The Kryptonian laughed, leaning forward. “Aw, come on. Is that any way to talk to your future brother in law?”
Damian scoffed. “Everyone wants to be a member of my family.” He snatched the turnover from the clone and took a spiteful bite. “Take a number.”
I’m working on something sexy and fluffy for 81. It’s Tim/Conner because they struck me. Hope to have it up in a day or two.
Tim frowned. ”But you said—”
Conner gave a grand shrug. “Yeah, I know. But I was the man, right? And it was, I don’t know, lame to admit it when you had all that experience with Steph and Jason and Roy and—”
His boyfriend’s lips parted in a growing smile.
“Are you saying I’m the only man you’ve had sex with?”
The clone sucked in a breath that puffed out his cheeks then exhaled in a rush.
“Yeah. I guess that’s what I’m saying.”
A spark kindled in the dark blue depths of Tim’s eyes; there was something distinctly predatory in the grin that split his mouth.
“Conner…take them off.”
Even when I write porn, it turns into a laugh riot. I wonder if this is a treatable condition.
“I didn’t think being in the Fortress of Solitude was going to be that much of a turn on for you.”
“What can I say?” Tim asked, his voice husky. ”Being surrounded by all that history and alien techology really got me off.”
“You know if Clark ever finds out, I’m going to the special hell, right?”
“You’d have to do more than that to get exiled to the Phantom Zone,” his boyfriend breathed, mouthing the cotton outline of Conner’s erection. His tongue worked under the open pocket.
“I don’t know,” the Kryptonian countered. He laced his fingers into Tim’s fine hair and pulled his head back. ”Fucking in his bed was probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”
I was just requested to post a preview of the fic commission I’m currently working on from the
mistress commissioner. I am only too happy to oblige. :)
This is rough and unedited. Pairing is Bruce/Damian.
Hesitant at first, music came like a reluctant conversation between the young man and his thoughts. A single key sounded a reluctant greeting; a chord continued the pleasantries, so long overdue. Then, like the best of friends, they picked up in the middle as though they hadn’t been apart for years, and the discourse quickened, rose and fell and trailed off only to be collected again.
There was never laughter. These conversations were rare and unwanted, a bitter remainder of a past that raised questions, a childhood that hardly was, and a lineage whose proclaimed love was harsh and painful. But between the relentless hours of training and schooling, there had always been this. Not just another perfect skill, the piano had spoken to him, had come alive under his fingers. It eased the ache that had been born within him and allowed him the luxury of absent thought.
For when his hands were on the keys, there was only this. It filled him and calmed him and seduced the demons to sleep.
With this, he could never be angry. He could admit to his mother’s failure—his own imperfections. And that fire, that hateful need that burned inside him would simmer and soothe and, just for a time, it would gutter and die to a low glimmer of embers.
There was much in his life he had to atone for, but the piano never judged him. It listened patiently as he railed against the world. Gave him space away from his confusion. Offered him a strange, safe sort of silence.
Damian leaned forward into the music; his closed eyes did not recognize the subtle beauty of the summer afternoon. He found it garish and uncaring. Like many things in his life, it was symbolic of everything denied to him. The work that he loved kept him confined to the dark, damp, unforgiving back alleys and high rises of Gotham. Happiness, such a bizarre, caging emotion, was everything like the sunlight coming in across the floor—evanescent and intangible.
But for one brief moment, he’d held that in his hands. Before the curtains were drawn again and everything had gone black.
As his fingers stilled and the music faded, a weight settled on the bench beside him; he shifted obligingly, though his eyes remained closed. He swallowed. A soft, familiar scent, clean, light, and masculine, touched his nose as he inhaled.
His next breath was not nearly as steady as the first.
Then the man beside him began to play the song again. Damian entered on the harmony and the conversation so often had with himself became a dialogue.
A steady start led into a hesitant question that Damian repeated back before blending into a rushed explanation that so easily conveyed the words he was unable to form. The other’s fingers were perfect in their timing and tempo and when the young man’s notes were sharp or coarse in their conveyance, they would temper him back into the song’s balanced rhythm.
And so they played. Four solid turns until they worked flawlessly and in tandem and as one. Until all that remained was the music. The words unspoken drifted, broke apart against the harmony and faded away with the last melodic chords that echoed throughout the ballroom and was, at last, quiet.
Damian reverently removed his fingers from the keys and rested his hands on his thighs, his head bowed. His breath hitched when the man beside him spoke and his eyes opened. The knowledge that it would be hard had been with him for days; hearing the sound of his voice again was everything warm that he couldn’t have.
“The office is quiet without you,” Bruce murmured. His tone was resonant and low. Arching his hands, he began to play alone, the tune soft and slow.
Damian’s throat tightened.
“You fired me,” he replied evenly.
“You deceived me,” the man countered quietly.
The young man turned his head.
“You kissed me.”
“More than that,” Bruce Wayne said, turning to look at his son. Damian met his gaze, a touch of bold defiance in his cold blue eyes.
His father’s expression was carefully impassive. He turned back to the piano, his fingers never pausing in their journey across the keys.
“You must have a reason.”
Damian nodded, mostly to himself. “Yes.”
Bruce’s tempo increased even as he kept the volume low.
“Tell me what it is?”