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Unsnarled

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"You deal with this one," Kon tells him, putting both hands on Tim's back and pushing him toward the hallway. "This is a job for Robin."

Tim sighs. "And you won't tell me what this job *is*."

"It's -- really no. Don't make me think about it. Just go fix it, okay?" Kon shoves again.

Tim rolls his eyes behind his mask and goes. Cassie is leaning against the wall opposite the suite that Bart has claimed and Suzie is floating next to her. "Robin, thank you," Cassie says. The door to Bart's suite is ajar. "I didn't want to leave him alone, but I, um."

Suzie swirls worriedly in the air. "It seemed kind of private," she says.

Robin pinches the nosepiece of his mask. "I don't suppose either of you are willing to tell me more than that?" They both shake their heads frantically. "I didn't think so."

"Just," and Cassie flaps one hand in an unusually helpless way towards the door, "help him, okay?"

"Of course," Tim says, and pushes the door open carefully. There's a muffled thumping and a frustrated noise from the direction of the bedroom, to the left. Tim pushes the door most of the way closed behind him and calls out, "Impulse?"

There are a couple of more enthusiastic thumps, then Bart calls back, "Robin! You can help me." He sounds hopeful, but there's something strange and rough in his voice.

Worried now, Tim presses up the open doorway and, when it sounds like there's only Bart in the room and he's staying to the side, swings around fully into the room. He's not sure what to expect --

-- this isn't it.

There's no one else in the room; even in the windstrewn clutter which is Bart's natural habitat, that's easy to discern. Still, someone might have been and left again, so Tim asks, "Were you attacked?"

Bart twists around until he can look mostly in Tim's direction, although "twists" is a bit of a misnomer when actually what Bart does is shimmy back and forth until his body rotates far enough. "Attacked? What?" he says, and Tim sighs. "No, I saw this thing and I had just the absolutely perfect rope -- well, more like the perfect yarn, but really you just have to keep braiding it and braiding it until it's thick enough to be called rope, it's really a very arbitrary division -- but anyway, I thought I could try it but it's getting all tangled and now I'm not sure exactly what's going where and I kind of want to just vibrate out and run away but that would be giving up and also I'm not sure which direction I need to vibrate in --"

"Bart," Tim says.

Bart blinks. "Yeah, Robin?"

Tim sighs again. "What 'thing' did you see?"

"I've got a book right over mmph ugh um you see it's oof," Bart says, rolling sideways until he's halfway into a distinctly ungraceful somersault over his right shoulder.

There's a book open on the floor by the foot of the bed, and Tim holds it up in Bart's line of sight -- approximately a fifty-five degree angle up from the head of the bed -- to ask, "This book?"

"How'd you know?" Bart says.

Tim flips through the open chapter. It's -- well. Huh. Interesting. Where did Bart get this? And why do the patterns on pages 167 and 194 look so familiar? "I didn't know you could read Japanese," he says idly as he continues reading.

"Not very well," Bart admits cheerfully. "I have to look things up a lot."

"Hmm," Tim says, setting the book down. "That might explain your current...predicament."

"Oh!" Bart says. "Oops! Did I get something wrong?"

Tim reaches toward the knots across Bart's chest, then pauses. "May I?" he asks.

Bart's breathing slips up to a rate that sounds more terrifying than it actually is for Bart's speedster metabolism and then, remarkably, steadies again. "Yeah," he says, and clears his throat. "Um, please?"

Tim's pretty sure his own cheeks are red. He keeps his focus narrow, slipping two fingers between Bart's bare collarbone and the rope. The braid is neat and even here, and the knot just to the right of Bart's sternum is quite nice. It splits there into two strands which meet the ropes wrapping around Bart's ribcage from behind, and Tim bends down to look into the darker area formed by the arch of Bart's torso off of the bed. Here the knots are sloppier and off-center, and Tim runs one finger down until the rope dissolves into twists of thin yarn which tangle Bart's legs, holding his left ankle against his right thigh just below the hard curve of his buttock, which is the last rope-free part of his body.

He stands up again. "Were you braiding as you tied?" he asks, running the tip of his index finger's gauntlet over the knots across Bart's chest.

Bart nods, which destabilizes him enough that he starts to roll again. Tim catches him with his other hand and props him up, which makes Bart's breath catch again. It's getting somewhat unavoidable that Bart's cock, or what's visible of it through a thorough coil of rope, is dark and full and twitching every time Tim moves.

Tim says, "I've thought about tying you up so you couldn't run, of course, but never quite like this," which is pointless babble to cover his nervousness, so he shifts the hand which was holding Bart up by the arm until he's holding Bart up by rope instead. It digs into his shoulders and sides, but not dangerously; Bart had braided it until it was safely heavy, although it stretches enough that he'll have to be cautious of it pulling tight. "Why braid your own?" he asks.

Bart blinks a number of times and says breathily, "I really like this yarn. Like, really like it." On the far side of his bed, Tim can see that his knitting bins have all been dumped onto the floor.

Tim twists his hand, watching the effects on Bart's skin. "It is very nice yarn," he says. He doesn't know much about yarn despite -- or perhaps because of -- Bart's occasional attempts to teach him knitting or to get him to wear oddly-shaped sweaters, but it's a beautiful color against Bart's complexion. "Hm. Stand up."

"Um," Bart says apologetically, "I can't. That's why I called Kon for help."

Tim pauses. "Do you want me to go get him."

"No!" Bart says. "I mean, unless you want to? I figured he'd be the one to hear me, is all. And he'd go interrupt you even though you said we shouldn't."

"He did, yes," Tim says, and puts his hands back on Bart's arms for a safer grip. "I'm going to lift," he says. "Wiggle until you get your feet under you."

Bart grins. "Wiggle? This is the technical Bat-term for it?"

Tim ignores him, pulling Bart off the edge of the bed and bracing himself to hold him up. Bart's relatively small but Tim's leverage is poor, especially with Bart wiggling away like this. The ropes are twisting around him but they're tightening too much as they go, and Tim frowns. "Stop," he says. "I'm going to lift you a little higher," and he hikes Bart up and gets one arm wrapped around Bart's hips. Bart makes a high-pitched noise and his movements lose all sense of purpose for a moment, but Tim now has a hand free and can tug Bart's ropes and knots back more or less into place. "Why did you tie your hands behind you?" he asks, wishing that he could attribute his own breathy voice to the physical exertion instead of to the strong urge to grab the knotwork over Bart's stomach in his teeth. It would do nothing to provide any leverage.

"Hnnnnnnnmph," Bart says, his stomach flexing. He -- oh. The ropes around his cock are catching against the decorative lacing on Tim's tunic every time either one of them move. Bart's moving a lot. Tim should have reasons for setting Bart back on his feet which are kindly, or at least fastidious, and which don't revolve around not wanting to fully untie Bart just yet. "Oh," Bart says a little sadly as he gets a bit of his balance.

There are ligature marks on his thighs where the yarn had tangled. Tim kneels and places his hands over them. He can't feel the texturing through his gauntlets, but it doesn't seem quite right to remove them while Bart's still so naked. Or -- something. He can't really be expected to make sense --

"Turn around," he says, acknowledging the hoarseness in his voice, and Bart goes up on the balls of his feet and swivels, rocking back and forth a little until Tim steadies his thighs again. There are more marks here, deeper against the backs of Bart's knees. Bart's forearms are bound in coils of rope which echo the binding around his cock, but the ends of the ropes fray into yarn strands which Bart has wound around his fingers and clutched so hard that his knuckles pale despite the softness of the yarn balled in his fists. Tim finds the knots which should be holding the ropes smooth against Bart's buttocks and loosens them. When he pulls them into position and tightens them again, Bart's hands release and clench spasmodically. "Tell me if," and Tim pauses. Pain doesn't seem like the right concept here. "If there's a pattern you'd prefer," he finishes.

Bart's laugh is barely audible. "I notice you don't," he gasps, "say whether you'd change anything."

It's probably best that Bart can't see the teeth Tim's baring in something like a grin right now, all things considered. There's an area along the base of Bart's ribcage where the lines are hopelessly muddled; Tim can see how they should be framing Bart's muscles, but he isn't going to be able to retie them to do it. It's frustrating -- but, if instead he crosses this one and pulls -- yes, that's it. And then in a mirror against his shoulder, and now what's framed is the leanness of his torso. He's going to have to stay arched a little, but. Tim runs his hands up Bart's arms for the pleasure of feeling the two loops which hold his upper arms away from his back. "This is...very nice," he says, and Bart shudders against his palms.

He walks around instead of making Bart turn again, inspecting the effect from the front. Bart's slight arch and the ropes which Tim shifted upward make knots dig in just underneath Bart's nipples. His head is tipped back and his eyes are closed, but he opens them again as Tim stops. The gold is a razor halo against the black of his pupils, and the flush to his skin looks just as lovely against the rust color of the yarn as his paleness does. Tim reaches out and pinches nipple and yarn together with both hands, and Bart's mouth falls open soundlessly. When he lets go, Bart rocks on his feet.

Tim can't wait any longer; he wraps one hand around Bart's rope-wrapped cock and squeezes hard. "Aah!" Bart says. He squinches his eyes shut and pants.

The rope under Tim's fingers is nubbly and fascinating. There is a line of knots up the underside and a criss-cross over the top, and he runs his fingers up and down before squeezing again. Bart yells louder, and louder again for Tim's next squeeze. For the third he screams, and pants with little crooning noises when Tim eases up again. He sounds -- safe, happy. Like a little kid screaming with delight on a playground swing. Tim doesn't think he's made a noise that carefree since he was very, very young. He didn't think you were allowed, once you were an adult or a hero. He twists his other hand back into the ropes across Bart's chest and works his hands in counterpoint until Bart is shrieking and rocking in his grip. His skin is red where he's flushed or bound and the ropes are growing darker with sweat.

And he's still not climaxing. Why isn't he? Tim squeezes harder, grunting with the effort, but Bart only gets louder. Then he sees -- there's another loop under the coils around Bart's cock, a tighter one with a quick-release knot --

Tim drops to his knees, holding his grip across Bart's chest and cock, and gets the knot-release in his teeth. The yarn rope is softer even than Bart's testicles against his cheek, but when he tugs the loop free Bart howls, a full-body howl that would knock him off his feet if Tim let go, and his cock almost hums against Tim's hand before shooting come up and up across his own chest where it soaks into the ropes and across the back of Tim's hand where it stays in wet stripes.

"Ooh," Bart says, and Tim almost lowers him to the floor before remembering that they're beside the bed. He stands up and pulls Bart sideways, tipping them both across the mattress. Bart groans again and his eyelids flicker.

Tim kneels over Bart's hips and turns Bart on his side to that he can take the yarn out of Bart's hands. He unwinds it slowly from around Bart's fingers, then his wrists, then works his way up Bart's arms and begins untying his shoulders. It's meditative, and Bart, for a wonder, lies quietly while he does it. He shifts enough that Tim doesn't think he's fallen asleep. Slowly Tim works his way down Bart's chest and then his stomach. Bart's come is still wet on the back of his right gauntlet.

When he reaches Bart's hips, he unwinds the loop around Bart's testicles and the whole coil falls free into his hands. Bart's lose again, but he's still sprawled underneath Tim just smiling and breathing. Tim can see the marks tracing up Bart's body, but it still feels wrong to touch with his bare hands -- and then he realizes how he can touch.

There's a clear imprint of the rope's braid against Bart's left hipbone, and when Tim presses his lips there he feels like it's transferring to his mouth. He follows it upward with his tongue until Bart is twitching too rapidly for Tim's mouth to track.

"Sorry," Bart says, "I'm sorry, just -- ticklish!"

Tim grins and shifts himself upward. "I apologize," he says, and puts his tongue into a knot-mark over Bart's pectorals.

"Mmm," Bart sighs, and he rubs his hands across Tim's hair. "Oh, is it okay to touch you like this?" he asks.

Tim considers it. Ordinarily no, but this isn't exactly an ordinary feeling. "I might make you stop later," he says.

"Mmm," Bart says again, and strokes from the collar of Tim's cape to the top of his head.

Tim licks Bart's bared nipple, then a rope-mark, then the line of Bart's bared collarbone. "Mmm," he agrees. "Mmm."