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On the Edge of a Burning Light

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He doesn’t expect to, but he dozes. Bruce’s arm is heavy and warm, the stars outside are distant and serene, and in his room the only sounds are their breathing and the occasional rustle of cloth as one of them shifts. Hal napped earlier, but he’s both satiated and drained, and lying here against Bruce is like quicksand, drawing him down into drowsiness. He can feel Bruce’s fingers lightly stroking his hair as his eyes close.

“Hey,” Bruce says softly, some time later; Hal doesn’t exactly know how long. “I’m going to let you sleep.”

Hal struggles up from half sleeping, half waking, and blinks a couple of times. He was actually asleep, much more deeply than is typical for him up here. He looks at Bruce, and Bruce looks back. “You don’t have to,” Hal says. His voice sounds froggy. “Go, I mean.”

“I sleep—”

“Naked, I know, you said,” Hal interrupts before Bruce can go on. “It’s fine. I just—I’m not going to be able to do that.”

“Whatever you want,” Bruce says, and Hal scrutinizes him.

“You’re still serious,” Hal finally says, after a couple of seconds.

“I really don’t care what you wear to bed,” Bruce says. “Nothing is fine. Boxers are fine. Pajamas are fine. A nightgown and a mud mask are fine.”

Hal rolls his eyes and lets his hand slide down Bruce’s spine, over the vertebrae and musculature. “OK,” he says. He actually can’t remember the last time he slept in the same bed with someone, and he’s not sure how this goes. Should he give Bruce some privacy? But Bruce has never been especially shy with people he knows, people in the League—it’s not a huge secret what Bruce looks like naked. Whereas Hal can count on his fingers of one hand the number of people who have seen him—with his permission, anyway. “I need to, uh, brush my teeth,” he says, and fumbles his way to standing and flees into the bathroom. Well, whatever. Bruce already knows he’s fucked up, and if for some reason that hasn’t penetrated the thick Batskull, he should get a reminder.

Hal does, in fact, brush his teeth; then he strips down to his boxers and undershirt. It’s what he usually sleeps in, but he also usually sleeps by himself. He could go back out into the bedroom and get a pair of sweats out of his dresser, but Bruce is out there, and that would be weird. Hal isn’t completely sure why it would be weird, but he’s confident that it would be.

With determination, he opens the door, shuts off the light, and walks into the bedroom.

Bruce is still there, right where Hal left him, lying on his back under the covers, with his arm under his head. It’s nearly the same position he was in before, except that he’s clearly not wearing a shirt now, which would imply that he’s not wearing the other clothes he had on earlier, either.

He and Hal look at each other for a passage of seconds.

“You naked?” Hal asks.

Bruce’s smirk is slight but present. “Yes.”

Another few seconds pass.

“Let me see,” Hal says.

Bruce pushes the covers aside, leaving space for Hal to get in bed—and leaving himself bared. He’s beautiful, which isn’t a surprise. Hal already knew, from the long years of their acquaintance and then from their earlier abortive attempt at sex, what Bruce looks like shirtless: the breadth of his shoulders, the topography of his biceps and pectorals, the plane of his belly. Now he sees the cut of his hips, the latent power in his thighs, and, of course, his cock, nested in dark hair. It’s flaccid but no less impressive for it, and now that Hal knows what it feels like in his hand, its width and heft, he wants to touch it even as he wants to climb in bed and sleep.

Hal raises his gaze to find that Bruce is looking back at him, unabashed and unashamed. Hal sits down on the bed and runs a hand down Bruce’s body, collarbone to navel. He’s pretty sure that if he kept going, wrapped his fingers around Bruce’s cock, Bruce would like it, would watch with those avid eyes as Hal did whatever he wanted. And isn’t that an image.

But instead Hal pulls the covers up around them both and turns off the bedside lamp. He and Bruce spend a few moments settling against and around each other, finally coming to lie face to face, with one of Bruce’s legs between Hal’s. In the quiet dark, Hal can’t stop touching him: his hands want to learn the silk of Bruce’s hair, the exact span of his back, the nape of his neck, the curve of his ass. Hal kisses him, and one of Bruce’s arms finds its way around his neck while the other cups the back of his head. They’re completely pressed together by the end of it, and Hal isn’t hard yet, but he could be in another couple of minutes, no problem. Bruce pulls back, though, and outlines Hal’s jawline and the shell of his ear with a fingertip. “Sleep, right?” he says.

Hal sighs, a little regretful, a little relieved, and says, “Yeah, right, that was the agreement.”

Bruce kisses him again, gently, and says, “Good night.”

It is.


Hal wakes up not slowly, not quickly—feeling actually rested, which he almost never does in space. Bruce is asleep beside him, stretched out on his stomach, bared to Hal’s eyes after having kicked the covers off himself while he slept. Bruce is spread out like a feast, like a victory, and Hal wants desperately to touch him.

Unable to stop himself, he sifts his fingers through Bruce’s hair, then lets his hand make its way down: across his shoulders and down his back and onto his ass, which Hal’s fingers fit perfectly around. Bruce moves then, and turns his head to look at Hal. He’s fully awake, and probably has been from the moment Hal’s hand alit on his skin, but his smile is lazy.

“Can I,” Hal starts, and his voice cracks a little.

“Yes,” Bruce says, and his body relaxes, his legs part, just a little.

Hal lets himself touch randomly, without a plan, whatever he feels like in the moment. He bends down and kisses the tendon that connects Bruce’s neck and shoulder; Bruce sighs, and the kiss becomes openmouthed; he gasps, and Hal sucks a bruise there. He does it again, lower, and Bruce says, “Fuck.”

Hal uses his teeth on the soft skin of Bruce’s ass, and Bruce arches up like he’s begging.

“Sometime I’m going to rim you,” Hal says conversationally. “Eat you out. What do you think about that?”

“Fuck yes,” Bruce says.

Hal thinks about doing it now, thinks about blowing gently to tease, then licking and sucking until Bruce is nice and relaxed for his fingers or maybe even his cock. Hal’s got fewer direct associations with that, but even so—no. Hal pushes the images back down where they belong and takes a breath. Then he put his hand on Bruce’s ass and curls his fingers lightly around, just inside the crack. “But I want to do this instead. Now tell me what you think about that.”

Bruce spreads his legs in welcome.

Hal is careful: Bruce is hot and seemingly adventurous, but Hal doesn’t actually know his specific practices with every partner, so as much as he wants to dive in and milk Bruce to a climax, he doesn’t. He rubs his cheeks and his asshole gently, setting up a steady rhythm, until Bruce is thrusting up against Hal’s fingers and down against the sheets. Hal peppers his back with kisses, keeps up the steady caresses with his fingers, until Bruce gasps, “Fuck, Hal, tell me you’ve got some lube in here.”

Hal has to pause to think about that. He’s never been in the habit of having sex in the Watchtower, and he doesn’t think he brought any up for himself. It’s not really a priority, and not necessary for his usual habits of masturbation. “Lotion,” he says. “Not lube. No need for it here.”

Bruce gives him a look that’s part frustration and part disbelief.

“What, so you’re telling me you’ve got a red room of sex on board a fucking spaceship?” Hal says.

“I don’t know whether I’m more disturbed by the fact that you just quoted Fifty Shades of Grey at me or that you’re apparently chafing yourself raw.”

Hal ignores the first remark and goes right for, “Jesus, Wayne, how much do you actually jerk off? Because normal people do not usually need goddamn lube just to take care of business semiregularly.”

“So now it's your turn to lecture about what’s normal? Go get the damn lotion and put your fingers in me already.”

Hal leans down and says, low, into Bruce’s ear, “I should give you my belt for that,” and Bruce’s hands fist in the sheets and he breathes out, “Yes.”

But Hal’s mostly talk today, and they both know it. Hal gets the lotion from the bathroom—he keeps it on hand because the air is so dry in the Watchtower—and sits back down next to Bruce. He coats his fingers, coats Bruce’s asshole, and starts shallow—just one finger, not far inside, just enough to let Bruce get used to him. But Bruce is greedy, unsurprisingly, and he arches up for more. Hal pushes him down and holds him against the bed with a hand to his back; he keeps fingering him, then adds a second when Bruce is loose enough and gasping, “Fuck, Hal, more.”

Hal thinks for a second about fucking him: he can’t imagine that Bruce would object. Can imagine only that Bruce would enjoy taking his cock as much as Hal would enjoy giving it. But Hal likes this: likes having Bruce spread out naked, hard, and vulnerable for him, likes giving Bruce pleasure as much as Bruce is enjoying receiving it.

He fucks Bruce with his fingers instead, firm and insistent against his prostate, while Bruce’s ass flexes up against his hand, down against the bed, in sinuous, urgent thrusts. Hal can picture what Bruce would look like fucking; like a phantom sense, he can almost feel how slow and deep Bruce would go, how that cock would feel inside him. That’s definitely for another time, but maybe a time less far in the future than Hal would have thought.

Bruce comes with a groan, shameless and rich, clenching around Hal’s fingers as he shudders in climax. Hal keeps rubbing him inside until Bruce sighs and collapses, his long body pliant and satiated. Hal wipes his hand on the sheet—the bedclothes are all going to need changing for sure—and lies down alongside Bruce. He strokes his back, can’t seem to stop touching him, and then sighs despite himself when Bruce rolls into his arms. Bruce is warm, flushed with orgasm, and Hal pulls him closer.

“This seems inequitable,” Bruce says after a moment. “I haven’t done anything for you.”

“No,” Hal says. Bruce’s pleasure, his trust, his care—Hal has seen all of those things now, has seen them, has felt them, has learned them, has known them. Knows them.

“Yes,” Hal says, because that makes more sense. “Yes, you have.”