Exhaustion weighed Bruce down like an anchor that shrieked and dug deeper into the ground with every step he took. It didn’t help that he was physically weighed down by his armor and an unknown amount of water that had seeped into the material. He wore an expression of nonchalance while, with the help of Alfred, he peeled off his water-ladened suit.
Arthur chuckled as he leaned against one of Bruce’s worktables. Water dripped from his hair, but unlike Bruce, who probably looked miserably drenched, Arthur looked vitalized.
“I’ve heard of looking like a drowned cat, but I’ve never heard of drowned bats.” Arthur laughed like his comment was the funniest thing he’d heard in decades. “You should look in the mirror.” Arthur grinned. “Assuming it doesn’t break.”
“You speak from experience, I suppose?” Bruce said calmly. His brain was fatigued from a long and tiring battle that had only lasted a few moments on land before taking an aquatic turn. He was thankful to have Arthur by his side for the fight, but he would never say it aloud.
He was fond of Arthur, and he was certain Arthur returned the sentiment, but their repertoire didn’t hold many direct claims to fondness. Bruce would almost liken it to sibling competitiveness. Underneath the insults and the one-upmanship, there was loyalty, reliability, and certain amount of caring between them. They also had their rituals. Most of their rituals revolved around bickering, but some of them were more companionable, such as Arthur following Bruce home after every battle.
The first time it had happened, Bruce had assumed Arthur was too tired to return to his home, and that Gotham was the most convenient place for him to rest and heal. When it became inconvenient for Arthur to journey to Gotham with Bruce, and Arthur still insisted on going to Gotham, Bruce found himself raising a metaphorical eyebrow at his teammate.
It was an odd request, but Bruce couldn’t find it in himself to turn down his teammate and friend.
Arthur smirked, delight shimmering in his Atlantean eyes. “Batty has still got some fight in him.” Arthur made a show of rotating one his arms and flexing his muscles. “How about we go a couple of rounds then? Looked like you could use the practice out there.”
“Personally, sir,” Alfred interjected, “if you have the energy to fight your friend, I think it would be best if you used that energy to call up a lovely lady and go out on a date instead.”
Bruce internally groaned as Arthur snickered.
“Aw, Bruce, having a dry-spell?” Arthur taunted.
“A curse, really,” Alfred answered.
“Alfred,” Bruce used Alfred’s name firmly. “Thank you for your concern. I’m tired though. For now, how about you enjoy the rest of the night on your own? See a movie or read a book. I’ll be taking a warm bath then sleeping, so I won’t need you for the rest of the night.”
“Not going to let the old guy draw you a bath?” Arthur teased.
“Is there a reason you are so invested in my bathing habits?” Bruce countered.
“Yeah, I gotta smell ya, and some days you reek.”
“You don’t smell like a field of flowers most days either.” Arthur smelled of salt water and sometimes of dirt or alcohol, depending on what Arthur had been up to. After arduous battles the scent of sweat, musk, and sometimes even blood permeated from him. The musk was overpowering, and often times Bruce was tempted to cover his mouth to avoid breathing in the smell.
“Perhaps a night to myself would be a good idea,” Alfred said. His eyes shifted minutely from Arthur to Bruce. There was a moment of consideration on Alfred’s face followed by a cordial smile. “Yes, I believe it would be best if I allowed you your independence for an evening, sir.”
The corner of Bruce’s mouth quirked with amusement. “Allow me my independence, Alfred? It sounds like you still think of me as a child.”
“Some days I do, Master Bruce.” Alfred’s eyes twinkled. He finished helping Bruce put away his armor then gave a polite parting nod. “If you change your mind, contact me.” He pivoted then strode out of the room.
Bruce watched Alfred depart. His stomach churned. He loved Alfred like family, and like family, Bruce sensed that Alfred was up to something.
“Must be nice having someone to wait on you,” Arthur quipped.
Bruce cocked his head. “Aren’t you a prince?”
Arthur scoffed. He shifted his stance from laid back and watchful to a full stand. He grinned as he gestured at the door. “After you, Bruce.”
“Still need me to lead you to your room? I would have thought you learned the way by now.” Bruce took the lead.
“Maybe I’m just hoping you’ll give me an upgrade.” Arthur stretched and crossed his hands behind his head. “Rich guy like you can’t give me a room with a pool? Plus the view is shitty.”
“It’s the best view in Gotham.”
“And it’s of Gotham.” Arthur grunted. “Shitty view.”
Bruce shook his head. He wasn’t the least bit surprised by Arthur’s insult. He supposed to most people Gotham didn’t radiate beauty. Still, it was his home. He cared for every part of it. Perhaps that’s why he was able to see the beauty where so few could.
Bruce’s thoughts sank into reflection, only to be sucked out by Arthur speaking.
“So the playboy is living a life of celibacy.” Arthur looked around the dimly lit corridors of Wayne manor.
Arthur had seen the manor plenty of times now. Bruce knew in his bones that Arthur was purposefully avoiding looking at him—most likely it was an attempt to avoid a sense of intimacy. Despite the intimate topic, Arthur was striving for distance, nonchalance, and flippancy.
Arthur’s blue gaze slid away from the walls decorated in works of art to Bruce. As Arthur’s lips curled in amusement, Bruce realized he’d been caught staring.
“What happened, Bruce? Lost your touch? The ladies no longer liking the Son of Gotham?”
“Arguably only a few ever did. Many of the women I dated barely knew me, and while they were nice, I can’t say I was always interested in getting to know them either.”
Arthur grinned so wide, it showed off his pearly whites. “That’s just fancy talk for saying you got game. Or had. So what’s wrong? Piss off Clark, and now the Daily Planet is running a smear campaign? What’s driven the ladies away?” Arthur’s enjoyment increased. “Or are you lookin’ for a man? I won’t judge.”
Arthur said the last part so cheekily, Bruce wondered if Arthur was sincere.
Nonetheless, Bruce stopped and mulled over Arthur’s question. In truth, he’d been preoccupied with his life as Batman. The thought of touching another person was tantalizing. In fact, thinking about it caused his body to ache with a yearning for contact. He supposed a one-night stand could solve the problem. It was just a matter of finding someone—a challenge that could be a lot more difficult than usual for most.
He had many who would clamor for the chance to have sex with him, but he still needed to use caution and be selective.
Arthur stepped in front of Bruce, and bent down so he was in Bruce’s face. “Yo, Bruce, you in there?”
“Sorry, I was just thinking. To answer your question, either or would be fine. I would just need to make sure they are someone I have at least a minimal amount of trust in.”
Arthur blinked. His eyes widened. “Seriously?”
Bruce scowled. “Besides sexually transmitted diseases, I have to worry about potential enemies attempting to get close to me. Even as just Bruce Wayne, I have several people out to get me.”
Arthur held up his hands like a shield. “Whoa. Chill out. I just… I wasn’t-”
“Expecting me to be anything but straight?” Bruce raised an eyebrow. “Or were you more thrown by the fact that I didn’t try to hide it from you?”
Arthur paused. Frown lines marred his forehead. “Both?”
Exasperation rankled Bruce. He took a deep breath in through his nostrils. Unfortunately, Arthur was not the first to have such a reaction to Bruce’s sexuality, nor would he be the last.
Bruce squared his shoulders and pushed on through the hallway. “Come on. Your room is not that-”
“So are you looking for someone to fuck?” Arthur asked.
Bruce whirled. He tried to keep his face neutral when inside he was seething. “If you think just because I am interested in men that I am-”
“Jeez, calm the fuck down.” Arthur rolled his eyes. He cocked his head, sending his hair over his shoulder. “I don’t give a damn about sex or gender. I’m just down to fuck. You’re a good looking man, Bruce. So yeah, if you’re up for it, or just need to let off some steam, I say let’s jump in the sack. If you don’t want to, then fine. I don’t expect you to want to jump my bones.” He smirked then gestured to himself. “Although, who could blame you? Look at me.”
Bruce did. He wasn’t blind. Arthur was a damn good looking man. He couldn’t deny the temptation was there, especially now that he knew Arthur was open to the idea.
Bruce scoffed. “You’re arrogant.”
“Last I heard, so are you.”
Their eyes met again, and Bruce knew in that instant exactly what he wanted to do.
There were a number of reasons why he shouldn’t sleep with a teammate, especially one who got under his skin as much as Arthur. In that moment, Bruce didn’t care. He was tired, frustrated, and in need of physical contact that wasn’t his fist slamming into someone’s face, or someone grabbing him and flinging him out a window.
Bruce moved to close the distance between them, and Arthur met him halfway. He wasn’t sure who grabbed whom first. He just knew that the moment his hands touched Arthur’s arms, he felt something electric, something that satisfied a basic need that he had been ignoring for too long.
Their mouths clashed, and Bruce strained to add finesse to his kiss while also craning his neck so far back, the muscles there ached.
A large hand seized Bruce’s buttocks and yanked him Arthur’s body. Bruce gripped what he could for balance and slung his arms around Arthur’s shoulders. His fingers dug into long, unruly curls and massaged the scalp underneath.
The kiss tasted of the sea, a romantic concept, but in reality, the taste was a little more potent than Bruce would have liked. He wondered if the kiss would taste better if Arthur had been given time to grab a bottle of alcohol and drink it like he breathed it.
They broke apart from their sloppy kiss, chests heaving.
The moment of air was just what Bruce needed to make sure they could continue their liaison smoothly.
He unwrapped his arm from around Arthur and grabbed his wrist. He tugged. “My room. Lube and condoms there.”
Arthur chuckled. “Glad to know you’re always prepped. Boy Scout.”
“Don’t talk about kids when we’re about to have sex.”
The journey to Bruce’s room felt longer than usual. His skin tingled where Arthur had touched him, but the sensation faded away with every second they spent marching through the manor to get to Bruce’s room. Once they finally made it, Bruce had to contain a sigh of relief as he reached for the doorknob and opened the door.
Bruce had thought Arthur might take a moment to look around, to get a sense of his surroundings, but Arthur did no such thing. The moment they stepped through the door, Arthur was on Bruce like a starving man.
Bruce couldn’t say he minded.
Bodies pressed together, and hands roving, Bruce guided Arthur to the bed, groaning as Arthur’s interest rubbed against his encouragingly.
They fell on the bed. With fumbling hands they grasped each other’s clothes and clumsily removed the articles until there was nothing between them.
Bruce basked in the sensation of rubbing and touching. Their movements were a mess, neither knowing what the other wanted, but eager to find out while chasing their own pleasure as well. For Bruce, the simple act of touching was more than enough to light his nerves on fire.
When Arthur touched Bruce’s member, Bruce let out an animal like sound and crushed their mouths together. Exhausted as he was, the jolts of pleasure Arthur sent through him filled him with enough energy that his movements became laced with aggressive want.
Arthur met his desire with equal fervor.
In the haze of their pleasure, Bruce grabbed the condom and lube from his nightstand. Once prepped, the two bodies collided more intimately.
Arthur came first with a shudder.
Assuming that Arthur would be too tired after his climax to finish Bruce off, Bruce moved to do so himself.
He was delightfully surprised when Arthur swatted him away and finished the job with his mouth.
Bruce lay in his bed and breathed deeply. His blankets and sheets were in disarray and covered in sweat and semen. Just as was Bruce.
Arthur flopped himself down on the pillow next to Bruce. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Staying the night?” Bruce asked neutrally.
Arthur chortled. “Just takin’ a minute, then I’m going to get my ass out of here and clean up. You probably should as well.” Arthur smacked Bruce’s hip. “Or was that supposed to be an invite? Someone a fan of cuddling?”
At the moment, Bruce would not be opposed to more contact, and so cuddles were very tempting. However, despite having had sex, Bruce was under no misconceptions that Arthur would enjoy an afterglow cuddle with Bruce. Perhaps if Bruce were someone else, then Arthur would. However their relationship was still built on barbs and lacked emotional vulnerability. Cuddling, which was physically and emotionally intimate, was beyond their current status.
“I’m just wondering when I will get my bed back.”
Arthur huffed. “You kidding me?” He gestured at the bed. “You could sleep four people in this thing and still feel comfortable.”
Bruce smirked. “Five.”
Arthur paused then burst out laughing. “My man.” He punched Bruce in the shoulder.
His evening was not the romantic date Alfred had wanted for him, but Bruce was happy with how it turned out, nonetheless.