“I hate everything,” Dick announces, flopping across the couch – and Tim’s lap – in full costume.
Tim hums and sets his book on Dick’s back, turning the page and finishing his paragraph before glancing at the end of the couch. “Rough patrol?”
“Yes,” Dick says, nodding into the cushion. “Rough. And bad. And long.”
“Any injuries?” Tim asks, tapping his thumb against Dick’s shoulder blade.
Dick shakes his head. “I scraped my left arm against the side of the Aparo building when my grapple shifted, but I’m not actually hurt.”
Tim frowns and grabs the business card he’s been using as a bookmark, settling it between the pages before closing the book and wedging it between Dick’s legs and the couch. “Is something wrong with your grapple? I can take a look if it’s misfiring.”
It takes a moment for Dick to work his hand out from beneath his body and wave it around in the space next to the couch. “Nah, it’s fine. I checked it when I made my landing. I think I just chose a bad spot for the hook.”
“Given how long you’ve been doing this, Nightwing, I very much doubt that you happened to ‘choose a bad spot.’” Tim folds his arms over his chest. “Unless, of course, you were in freefall as you shot.” Dick’s silence is answer enough, and Tim sighs. “N…”
There’s a snort from across the room. They both turn to face Miguel, who’s leaning in the doorway, smirking at them. “Oh, buddy, I am not sure who you are, but I do know that you’re in trouble.”
Tim shakes his head as Dick hums. “And why might I be in trouble, Bunker?”
“I am also not surprised that you do know who I am,” Miguel says, shaking his head. “Should I be? I feel like I should be surprised, but anyone allowed to get that close to Red Robin probably knows more about me than my own abuela does.”
Tim sighs. “Bunker, this is Nightwing. Nightwing, meet Bunker.”
Miguel waves. “Nice to meet you, Nightwing. To answer your question, anyone who makes the bossman use that voice is in trouble. It’s like a rule or something.”
Dick snorts and pats Tim’s knee. “Red, you’ve gotta be nicer to the new guys. Scaring them off makes more supervillains, remember?”
“Right,” Tim says, nodding. “Be nice, or Bunker will go crazy in the middle of the night and start monologuing at me.”
“I’ll save you,” Dick promises, bringing his arm back up and settling it under his head. “Can’t leave you to die of mono-anything.”
Tim groans. “That was terrible.”
“I like you,” Miguel says brightly. “Anyone who can keep the bossman from getting his broody pants on is okay in my book.” He raises an eyebrow at Tim. “Though you could have told us you were hiding a super-hot super-boyfriend in the wings, jefe.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Tim splutters.
Miguel’s other eyebrow joins the first. “Really,” he says slowly, dragging the word out for all it’s worth. “You mean to tell me that you bicker like my parents, but you’re not sleeping together?” He shakes his head. “All of the work, none of the fun. No wonder you’re always wearing the broody pants.”
“Can we stop using the phrase ‘broody pants’?” Tim asks, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“He’s not wrong,” Dick says, craning his neck and arching his back in ways that Tim doesn’t want to think about so he can look at Tim. “You do sometimes get broody, and you’re usually wearing pants. The two might be related.”
Tim dumps him onto the floor.
“So,” Dick says. He’s out of the costume now, lying shirtless on Tim’s bed. Tim is putting the first aid kit back into his bathroom, making a mental list of things he needs to restock. Dick’s “minor scrape” had turned out to be a seven-inch abrasion down his arm; Tim still isn’t sure how he managed to get it without tearing his suit.
“So,” Tim replies, shutting the cabinet in the bathroom and walking back into the bedroom. “Was there a reason you came all the way up here for a patch job that anyone back in Gotham would have been happy to do for you?”
Dick shrugs his right shoulder. Tim bites back a grin; he’d taped the left enough that it’s probably difficult to move without dislodging the bandaging. He congratulates himself on a job well done.
“I needed some Timmy time,” Dick says, reaching out and snagging Tim’s wrist. “I miss you when you stay away for so long.”
Tim raises an eyebrow. “I was in Gotham last week, Dick.”
“For work,” Dick shoots back. “Not for visiting. I wanted to talk to you, maybe hear you say something other than ‘duck’ or ‘look out behind you.’”
There’s a moment of silence before Tim frowns. “We really are the old married couple, aren’t we?”
Dick tugs until Tim walks the few steps to the bed and sits beside him. “Watch who you’re calling old, now.”
Tim hums. “Right, I’m eighteen. That makes you the old one in our non-relationship. I should have been more specific.”
“You wound me,” Dick says, grinning. “Have you ever thought about it?”
“Ah,” Tim says, blinking. “You being older than me? It’s a fact of life, not something-”
“Us. More specifically, us and a not-non-relationship.”
Tim blinks harder, but no, he’d definitely heard that right. “I… no? Not really,” he adds when Dick raises an eyebrow. “Idle wondering, sure, and I’m not detailing any dreams for you, but-”
“You dream about me?” Dick pushes himself up and sits next to Tim. “What, exactly, would it take for me to hear all about that?”
“No,” Tim repeats. “I know you can actually hear and understand the word, Dick.”
Dick pouts. “I’ll tell you mine if-”
“You dream about me?” Tim yelps. “No, shut your mouth, don’t even think-”
“Sometimes I dream about the way you move,” Dick says, sighing and leaning back. “The suit fits you so perfectly, and it isn’t hard to see all the work you’ve put into being able to do what you do.”
“Dick,” Tim protests. He can feel himself blushing.
Dick smiles at him. “Sometimes it’s your voice. Not the patrol voice, but the Tim voice, the one you used when we dug out Bruce’s original Nintendo system and played Super Mario Bros. until you broke your controller-”
“It was older than me,” Tim defends. “And there’s nothing special about my voice.”
“I disagree,” Dick says. “Anyway, not the point. Sometimes I think about your hands, how fast you can type, how hard you can punch. Occasionally it’s the way your hair falls in your eyes when you need to get it cut. Or how smart you are. Or how committed you are to-”
Tim kisses him mostly to shut him up. His cheeks are flaming red, and it’s not like he’s immune to flattery. He pulls back after a moment, and there’s no way to miss the smile spreading softly across Dick’s face.
“Wasn’t so bad, was it?” Dick murmurs.
There’s nothing Tim wants to do more than sigh. “Dick. No.”
Because, Tim wants to say, but he thinks about his answer instead of just blurting something out. He knows that Dick isn’t going to push the issue if Tim gives him a reason to back off.
“It won’t work,” Tim says finally. “You and me, we’re just – too alike, and too different.”
“That’s what makes things interesting,” Dick counters. He had backed away a little while Tim was talking. Tim can’t be anything but grateful for the distance, and the chance to talk things out. “We’ve got things in common, and things to talk about to keep it from getting boring.”
Tim frowns. “We don’t live anywhere near each other.”
“Long-distance is still a relationship,” Dick says lightly. “Gotham isn’t so far from New York anyway. Also, our family happens to own a plethora of cars. And planes.”
“A plethora,” Tim says flatly. “Forget my other reasons, I’m not dating anyone who uses the word ‘plethora’ in a serious conversation.”
Dick hasn’t stopped smiling. “My vocabulary turns you on. Don’t try to deny it.”
“You caught me. I want you so much right now,” Tim deadpans, rolling his eyes.
The look on Dick’s face softens. “Tim. Answer a question for me, okay?”
Tim nods cautiously. “I can do that.”
“Are you attracted to me?”
“Well,” Tim says, “um. Yes.”
Dick nods. “I’ll push my luck and ask another one. Are you afraid of trying something because it might end badly, or is there another reason?”
Tim glances away. There isn’t anyone in the world who can read him better than Dick can, and he knows that everything he’s thinking must be written all over his face right now. “Isn’t that enough?”
“If you want it to be, then I guess it is,” Dick says. Tim looks back, but Dick is staring out the window. “It’s not like I’ve been pining forever, Tim, but I’ve given it more than a little thought. I really do think we’ve got a shot, and I’d like to try if you’re willing.” He sighs and smiles a little as he looks back to Tim. “If you’re dead-set against it, though, I’ll survive.”
It’s a little hard for him to swallow past the dryness in his throat, but Tim manages it anyway. “You’re not going to melt into a puddle of tears?”
“Not today,” Dick replies. “Probably not tomorrow, either, but I can’t rule out unscheduled Ivy attacks after that.”
The laugh comes more easily than Tim had been expecting. “Understandable.” He takes a breath. “My turn to ask you something.”
“Go for it,” Dick says.
“If it all goes wrong, where does that leave us?”
“I can’t guarantee you anything,” Dick says after a moment. “But I’d like to say that we’d recover.”
He goes quiet after that, and Tim tries to pull his thoughts together. This isn’t a situation he was anticipating, so he doesn’t have a ready response. There’s a lot to consider, things to analyze, variables to wonder about…
But then again, there really isn’t, Tim thinks as he looks at Dick. There’s him and there’s Dick; there’s what he wants, what he’s willing to work for.
It isn’t too much to hope for, especially not if Dick is willing to meet him halfway.
“Okay,” Tim says.
“What’s okay?” Dick asks, focusing intently on Tim. “I mean, everything’s okay, at least for the moment, but I’m guessing you’re referring to something-”
This time Dick is expecting to be shut up with a kiss, or so Tim assumes from the way he smiles against Tim’s mouth. One of his hands slides up Tim’s arm and settles at the nape of his neck, tilting Tim’s head slightly. When Tim pulls back, Dick rests their foreheads together and squeezes Tim’s neck slightly.
“Okay?” Dick asks.
Tim can’t help the way the smile steals across his face. “Okay.”