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The Fire Inside

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“Come on, Tim!” Kon begged, gazing up at Tim from the floor and turning on the puppy dog eyes. It should not be as effective as it was considering how long the two of them have been friends, but Tim felt his hard line waver under the onslaught. 

“I said no, Kon,” Tim replied firmly. He pulled his legs up and curled them against his chest, pointedly continuing to play his game. Kon’s character died long ago. Perhaps he should revive him and give him something else to focus on besides this. 

“But it’s for a good cause!”

“I’m not saying it isn’t.”

“Then why won’t you do it? It’s not like you’ve got any other jobs lined up at the moment.” Kon’s lips sealed shut when he realized his misstep. 

Tim paused the game and resisted the urge to throw the controller at his best friend. “I’m on vacation.” 

A forced vacation perhaps, but a vacation nevertheless.  

Kon sighed as he stood and flopped down next to Tim. “Look, we all know what happened with your mom wasn’t your fault. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to sit here and sulk about it day in, day out. Seriously, when was the last time you’ve seen daylight?” 

“Yesterday. I went up to the roof and read in the garden.” Tim’s building was progressive and green, a rarity in Gotham. The rooftop garden was peaceful and quiet during the day while all his neighbors worked. Worked like he used to, even if he technically doesn’t have to, Drake heir that he was.  

“Okay, fine,” Kon sighed before pressing on. “I just don’t get it, Tim. You’ve shot pro bono events like this before. You’ve had a great time doing it too. So why won’t you do this calendar for us?” 

Kon was a firefighter. A firefighter with an extremely hot and sexy colleague who Tim often dreamed would put out the fires that burned inside him. Jason Todd was everything Tim found attractive in a man, plus a few things he didn’t realize he was missing out on. It killed him each and every time he had to interact with the man, which was more often than he liked since Kon was his best friend. The thought of photographing Jason as part of this calendar the firehouses in the district wanted to put out for their local charity was enough to turn Tim’s insides to Jell-O. He’d seen the man without a shirt on once and walked right into a pole as a result of it. 

Nope. He’s not doing this to himself again. No way. Even if the memory of all that tanned skin still kept him awake at night and fueled some of his favorite fantasies. 

Tim shook his head. “I have my reasons.” 

“Are any of those reasons about six feet tall, blue eyed, with thighs thick as tree trunks?” Kon asked shrewdly. 

Tim threw the controller at him. “No!” he tried, but it was too late. Kon was already grinning like the asshole he was. 

“I knew it!” he crowed in delight. “You’ve got a crush on Jason!” 

“What are you, ten?” Tim snapped as he tried to curl up tighter into his ball. 

“Seriously, dude. You do! Why did I not figure this out before?” 

“Because I was trying to hide it?” 

Kon smirked and shook his head. “This explains why you walked into that pole.” 

Tim cast about for something else to throw at his best friend. “Kon, please. Don’t say anything to him.” 

“Why? It’s not like he’s going to laugh in your face and tell you to fuck off,” Kon replied. “He’s a dick, but not like that. Besides, when I brought up your name as a potential photographer, he seconded it immediately.” 

That was unexpected. “Really?” Tim asked, perking up a bit. 

“Yeah, really. In fact…” Kon trailed off, thinking over his words. That never meant anything good was about to happen. Tim braced himself, but his friend suddenly shook his head, even if there was a devious glint in his eyes. “Never mind. Anyway, please do this for us, Tim. Please. It can even be my Christmas and birthday presents next year.” 

Tim knew his best friend too well to believe he was letting it go this easily. “What were you thinking, Kon?” 

“I said it was nothing.” 

“Nothing my lily white ass.” 

Kon grinned broadly and threw the controller back at Tim. “C’mon, Tim. We’re even gonna feed you. And you know you’ve always wanted to play with a firehose.” 

“Asshole.” 

~*~*~ 

Tim was weak. So weak. He thought he could collapse right here and might just do it if it weren’t for the fact that his rather expensive camera would be crushed. Instead, he sat his ass on the concrete floor of the firehouse and hid behind the lens, already trained and focused on the subject of this particular shoot. 

Jason. 

Specifically, a shirtless Jason in nothing but heavy boots and stained yellow trousers held up by a thick pair of suspenders. He hung off the side of the firetruck and grinned rakishly. “Like this?” he asked. 

Behind Tim, Dick Grayson, former underwear model and circus brat, was laughing as he tried to direct his friend. “You look like you should be on the cover of one of Cassie’s trashy romance novels.” 

Next to him, the blonde paramedic agreed. “Yep. Except I can at least dream about those guys sweeping me off my feet.” 

“Didn’t I see a cowboy on the cover of one of those recently?” 

“You sure did. And guess what? He was into guys too.” 

“Kinky. Can I read that one?” Jason called out. 

Tim ignored their banter and snapped more pictures. More than he needed, but they didn’t need to know. “You trying for funny sexy or smoldering sexy?” he managed to ask. Jason looked more natural than anything else, but that grin was already twisting his insides into knots again. 

When he found Kon, he was dead. So dead. 

Admittedly, the day hadn’t been that bad. Not really. There were over a dozen volunteers from the different firehouses in the district for the event, off duty, and all having a ton of fun with choreographing and ribbing each other on as the photoshoot progressed. Tim had already swapped out his memory card for a fresh one and was pretty certain he would be making an album of all the goofy outtakes for these guys to laugh over. 

Kon would still be a dead man though. 

Up on the truck, Jason laughed, rich and bright as he swung around. “How about both?” he said as his lightly stubbled face contorted into something that was definitely not sexy nor smoldering. 

“Flynn Rider, you are not!” Cassie hooted. “I don’t think goofy sexy is going to sell calendars.” 

“I told ya, all we need to do is put Dickie there in a Speedo and we’re set!” Jason retorted as he made another face that Tim quickly caught for posterity. The playful mood helped calm his nerves somewhat. 

“Hey, just because I used to flaunt it doesn’t mean I have to now,” Dick shot right back. “That’s why you’re in the money shot and not me.” 

Dick had asked Tim before they even started if he would put Jason on the cover of the calendar rather than him. He didn’t mind participating, it was for a good cause after all, but as he put it, the days where his body and junk were on display for the world to see were long gone. Tim immediately acquiesced and rearranged a few of the ideas he had arrived at the station with, even if working closer with Jason was starting to wear on him. 

Or rather, wear out his plethora of boner killer images. Tim felt like he’d been walking around at half-mast all morning. Sure, all the men and women around him were attractive and in great physical shape, but Jason seemed to eschew wearing a shirt at all today, even when he wasn’t in front of the camera. All the skin and muscles were getting to him, but right now, it was the faint trail of hair disappearing into Jason’s pants that kept distracting Tim the most. What was he wearing under those? Boxers? Briefs? Nothing? 

If he kept it up, Tim was pretty sure Cassie would be performing mouth-to-mouth on him before lunch. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Jason replied. “Okay, how about this?” He concentrated, schooling his features into a brooding pout and locked his eyes intently on Tim. 

Tim swallowed and kept silent, even as he snapped more pictures. God, through the lens, he could see Jason’s brilliant blue eyes so clearly. That was definitely a smolder. 

Still, something was off, and Tim was a professional. He lowered his camera. “Do you have your hat?” he asked. “You know, the big bucket shaped one?” 

Dick snickered even as the pout fell off Jason’s face as he started laughing again. “And to think Kon calls you his best friend.” 

“Just because he’s my best friend doesn’t mean I know what all your equipment is called.” 

“Gimme a sec.” Jason hopped off the truck and brushed against Tim as he walked away. 

Tim waited until he was out of sight to collapse against the ground, letting out a deep breath he didn’t realize he was holding. 

“You alright down there, Tim?” Cassie asked teasingly. She and Kon were an on again, off again thing, so Tim knew her pretty well. “If it’s CPR you need, I think I’ll refer you to someone else who would be much more willing to help you relearn how to breathe.” 

Tim flipped her off, which made Dick cackle in glee. He was such a dick, even if he did have a pretty face. “I’m gonna kill Kon.” 

“Nah, he’s blameless for once. Anyone with half a brain could figure it out.” 

Dick squatted down next to him. “Tim, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that’s not really secret to anyone who works here. Except maybe Kon. He’s special like that.” 

Tim cracked open an eye. “What?” he asked warily. 

“Jason likes you too.” 

Huh? Tim sat up quickly and blinked, his heart thundering in his chest. “What?” 

“You heard me.” Dick stood and offered Tim a hand up. “He’s had a thing for you ever since the little community carnival you helped out at a while back.” 

That was months ago. “If I’m so obvious, then why hasn’t he said anything?” 

Cassie snorted loudly as Dick pulled Tim to his feet. “Because he’s just as big an idiot as you are,” she said. “Now that you know, maybe you can do something about it.” 

“Wow. Okay. You sure?” 

“Positive.” 

Tim was still lost in a swirl of emotions when Jason jogged back over, carrying his helmet. Muscles rippled under bare skin and Tim’s mouth watered. Holy cow. If he didn’t somehow screw up, he could actually touch all that skin, or play with the pale nipples that peek out from under those suspenders, and, most importantly, find out exactly what that dark trail of hair leads to. 

Oh, who was he kidding? He was Tim Drake. He was bound to screw this up. It was practically his MO for relationships. 

“You okay?” Jason asked, reaching out to clasp Tim on the shoulder. “You thirsty?” 

Cassie rolled her eyes as she looked away, unable to contain her laugh. “Oh, he’s thirsty for something, alright.” 

“We’ll go grab some water bottles and check on lunch. I don’t know why we left Kon and Roy in charge of food.” Dick grabbed hold of Cassie’s arm and dragged her away. Neither quite made it far enough before they broke down in laughter. 

“What’s with them?” Jason looked between Tim and his friends in confusion. 

“I’m sure you’ll find out later,” Tim replied. Jason was still touching him. His hand was hot against the thin t-shirt he wore. The cool air of the firehouse grew warmer the longer it stayed in place, but that could also be the flush rising up the back of Tim’s neck. 

“Yeah, probably.” Jason squeezed Tim’s shoulder lightly before he let go. “So, uh, we gonna finish this?” 

Without the others around, things were surprisingly awkward. Tim bit his lip, debating about whether he should speak up or if he should just let Jason find out later after he leaves. His nerves were shot, and it didn’t help matters at all that he could feel the heat radiating off Jason, standing as close as he was. 

“Let’s do it,” Tim replied, shoving everything aside to focus on the task at hand. He had one job to do and that was make Jason look as incredible as possible for the cover of this calendar. He could do this. He was a professional. He had photographed some of the most beautiful people in the world for some of the biggest fashion magazines around, even if he privately thought none of them could hold a candle to the man next to him. 

Jason put on his helmet and got back up on the truck. He tried hard, Tim would grant him that, but everything felt off. The sizzling energy from earlier was gone and even Jason knew it. He slumped against the truck as Tim swiped through the photos he’d just taken, frowning. 

“I’m sorry, Tim. I guess I need to be razzed up or something and now that the peanut gallery is gone…” he trailed off, running a hand through mussed up hair. His helmet sat at his feet. 

Tim raised his camera just in time to catch the despondent look. Even like this, Jason was still photogenic. 

It was time to make a decision. He could either use one of the shots he’d gotten earlier without the helmet or he could help his subject find that special energy again. Tim glanced at Jason and caught him staring. 

The fire ignited once more. 

Tim found himself being drawn in closer like a moth attracted to the flame. He took another picture as Jason’s lips parted into that same sensuous pout from before, his eyes intense and brooding. 

“Do you have any idea what you’re doing to me right now, Tim?” Jason asked hoarsely. 

“Probably the same thing you’re doing to me,” Tim replied, taking one last picture. 

“Yeah? We gonna do something about it?” 

Tim lowered his camera. It was a heady feeling, knowing that he somehow turned this gorgeous hunk of a man on. Those were bedroom eyes, ones that he could feel stripping him down to his soul. “It depends,” he said, slowly striding forward. 

“On what?” Jason crossed his arms over his chest, drawing Tim’s eye to the spread of his shoulders and all the heavy muscle of his upper body. 

“What are the chances we’re going to get some actual privacy around here?” 

“Slim to none,” Jason replied. “We’re being watched, you know.” 

“Of course, we are.” 

“Just kiss already!” Kon’s voice erupted from the other side of the garage. “I got money on this, Tim! You owe me!” 

More laughter echoed out around from around them. “No, it has to be Jason!” Cassie shouted. “Do it, Jay! My money’s on you!” 

Jason’s head slammed against the side of the fire engine even as Tim’s cheeks blazed under the force of his embarrassment. So much for the moment. At least he had his picture now. 

Tim sighed and stepped away, but Jason’s arm snaked out and grabbed hold of him, drawing him close. His hands touched searing skin, and Tim barely managed to keep his camera from crushing into Jason’s chest. 

Jason took hold of the camera and carefully swung it around the strap so that it hung down Tim’s back. “Want to fuck up all their bets?” 

This was something Tim was very much on board with. “On three?” 

“One.” Jason cradled the side of Tim’s face in one of his large hands. 

“Two.” Tim reached up and tangled his fingers in Jason’s dark hair. 

“Three.” 

Their mouths met in a fiery clash even as hoots and shouts of encouragement and laughter rained down around them. Tim moaned under the onslaught and gave as much as he got, refusing to back down. It seemed to turn Jason on even more as his other arm wrapped around him, forcing Tim closer so that he could feel the solid wall of man and muscle pressed against every inch of him. Tim’s free hand dropped to Jason’s waist and traced the edge of the trousers that have been bothering him all morning. At the small of Jason’s back, Tim dared to sneak his fingers under the heavy fabric, wanting an answer to that all important question. 

Tim’s questing fingers found nothing but bare skin. 

Okay, so maybe Kon wasn’t so dead after all.