After decades of priding himself on his control under pressure, Bruce can't force his hands to do what he wants. He can't force them to stop shaking as he touches Dick's skin where scars and bruises stretch across his lean frame.
"I thought I would lose you," Bruce confesses lowly, pausing in his slow exploration of Dick's body as he takes the time to try and gather his thoughts together. He looks up at his lover, feeling his brows furrow when he takes in the florid pattern of bruises that darken Dick's temple. "I thought I did."
Dick shakes his head.
"You didn't," he says sharply, no more comfortable with the recent reminder of his own mortality than Bruce is. He cups Bruce's face in hands that are warm and faintly damp from sweat, holding his head still as he looks into Bruce's eyes with a frown. "You didn't lose me and I'm okay. That's all that matters."
Bruce frowns. "But Owlman --"
Dick cuts Bruce off with a gentle peck on the lips, all but derailing his sentence.
"Owlman isn't here," Dick says once he has reclaimed Bruce's attention from the dark thoughts in his mind. Offering Bruce a small smile and a sigh that can only be classified as 'tremulous', Dick reaches out to brush the side of Bruce's jaw with the very tips of his shaking fingers. "But I am."
Dick kisses Bruce again, lingering a little longer than before when Bruce utters a quiet, needful noise against his mouth, and then pulls back. Settling into his perch astride Bruce's lap, Dick rewards Bruce with another one of those soft, almost sad smiles when Bruce reaches for him.
A moment later, he sighs at the touch of Bruce's fingers to his sides, shifting as Bruce's hands move to curve against his ribcage. Careful of Dick's aching and bruised ribs, Bruce lets his fingers trace patterns over his lover's skin, the touch calculated to relax rather than titillate.
"You don't have to treat me like this," Dick says after moments pass with Bruce staring at his skin in silence as though the fierceness of his gaze can erase all that has been done to him.
Bruce clears his throat, feeling awkward underneath Dick's scrutiny.
"How exactly am I treating you?"
Dick barks out a laugh that makes Bruce feel warm all over and then taps the very tip of Bruce's nose with one long finger. "You know how! You're treating me I'm going to break if you look at me too long."
Denial comes instantly to Bruce's lips. "No I'm not," he blurts out.
Rolling his eyes, Dick taps Bruce's nose again before resting his palm against stubble that is in need of shaving.
"You carried me in here," he points out in a dry tone. "I don't think my feet have touched the floor since we got away from Luthor and the rest of the league. Admit it, Bruce, you're being over-protective."
"Over -protective? Of course I am!" Bruce struggles to find the words that he wants so desperately to say to Dick. "After what you went through with Owlman, after how close I came to losing you… How could I be anything else?"
Dick's smile softens, taking on a tenderness that causes Bruce's hands to spasm against his skin as need whips through him. He strokes his thumb over Bruce's cheek, seeming to luxuriate in the scrape of skin against stubble, and then leans in to brush a kiss across that cheek.
"No one would believe me if I told them how sweet you were," Dick says, smiling against the side of Bruce's face as he inches forward so that he and Bruce are properly sharing the overstuffed armchair set off to one side of the master bedroom. "Next thing I know you'll be trying to get me to take time off before I figure out what I'm going to do after this."
Bruce feels his right hand spasm where it has slid down to palm at Dick's hip where the scars there are less prominent as they dip down underneath the waistband of his plain black sweatpants.
"I wish you didn't have to leave," Bruce confesses, even though Dick already knows it. He turns his head slightly to the side so that he can feel the tempting tickle of Dick's dark hair against his nose.
Dick sighs again. "That makes two of us."
They lapse into a comfortable silence, sitting close enough to each other that Bruce can feel the rise and fall of Dick's chest as he breathes. Bruce's free hand migrates, tracing a meandering path over Dick's bare back and sides as his thoughts race in an attempt to find some way to keep Dick here. With him.
Perhaps reading something in the tension of Bruce's shoulders where his face rests, Dick speaks up, effectively ending the stillness of their silence.
"But I have to go," Dick says quietly. "How long do you think it'll take for someone to put two and two together? How long do you think it'll take someone to connect Richard Grayson with the kid Bruce Wayne took in off the streets?"
Strong fingers fist in the front of Bruce's shirt. "I won't do that to you."
Bruce's chest feels tight. He shifts Dick in his lap, urging his lover to sit up so that he can just look at him a little while longer. There's so much that he wants to say, so many things that Bruce wants to outright promise Dick, but in the end, he settles for something a little less emotionally fraught.
"That's one more thing I owe Owlman for," Bruce murmurs.
Dick's answering smile, though wavering, is bright. "Tell you what," he says cheerfully enough. "Next time he shows his face, I'll let you get first crack at him. That work for you?"
"It'll have to," Bruce says, feeling somewhat sober when he watches Dick reach up to touch one of the worst bruises that cover his body. "Might not be much left of him when I'm through though…"
Laughing, Dick allows Bruce to come close to closing the distance between them. "I have faith in your self-control."