“Tea?” Nightwing offered, holding out a blue mug that boasted the Super shield. It was stained on the inside and chipped along the rim. “It’s decaf.” His smile was sincere as the speedster accepted and he took it as an invitation to join the older hero in standing against the stone wall of the old JLA conference room that Young Justice now called home.
“All things considered, I think it went better than expected. What do you think?” Nightwing asked, cocking his head as he observed the other parents and mentors scattered in loose groups throughout the room.
Max Mercury glanced sideways at the younger vigilante, taking a hearty sip of his tea. Swallowing, he sighed with something like appreciation and lifted the mug to eye level. He stared contemplatively at the emblem.
“How’s the boy doing?”
Nightwing cleared his throat, thumbing the black edge of his own cup, the dark taste of coffee hot on his tongue.
“It’s magic. He feels sicker than a dog now, but he’ll be fine. Superman’s half his genetic code, after all.” He flashed a reassuring smile that the aging speedster evaluated in stride. The younger man took an occupying drink, averting his gaze.
“It’s really not Impulse’s fault, Max. Not entirely. We all know the risks when we go into battle--“ Nightwing paused as a light chuckle infiltrated his pep talk.
“You’re trying to make me feel better because you think I have some kind of unresolved guilt over the way I’ve been training Impulse?” Max’s tone was amused. “I’m not running for father of the year, Nightwing. I do everything I can for him, but it’s not just up to me. His team leader needs to understand that when you give the boy orders, you better use more than words.”
Nightwing stared at the silhouette of the bat on his mug and shook his head. “You’re saying Robin’s responsible?”
Across the room, Red Tornado did a poor job of making conversation with Wonder Girl’s mother while Bonnie Jones stood off to the side aggressively nursing her second pack of cigarettes. Both men watched as Superman and Dubbilex made polite small talk; everyone in the room pretended to ignore the tension between them.
“I’m saying they’re all young,” Max replied, turning to his companion. “How much did you learn through trial and error?”
The younger man considered the depths of his coffee.
“You’re right; there’s no manual for this hero stuff, is there? I guess I just got so used to being Batman’s star pupil, I forgot others actually have to work at it.”
Max laughed quietly under his breath. “Maybe you should pass some of that humility on to your successor.”
Nightwing smiled good-naturedly, gesturing loosely with one hand. “Hey, my arrogance is well earned. I’ve screwed up plenty of times and learning to work with Wally was like learning a motor skill my brain wasn’t naturally wired for.” His grin broadened as Max smiled behind his tea. “You speedsters aren’t always a walk in the park, you know?”
“We tend to take the road less traveled,” Max admitted. His blue eyes were clear and laughing behind the red of his mask. “And we rarely walk it.” Nightwing snorted.
“If that were true we’d have an easier time setting up roadblocks to slow you down. You disregard the road altogether--high, low, it doesn’t even matter--and make your own.” He drained the last of his coffee and leaned forward, setting it on the old JLA table. “That makes it not only impossible to navigate, but incredibly hard to direct.” Nightwing crossed his arms over his chest. “And I’m saying that as a leader who’s had to deal with it for nearly a decade.”
Max took a leisure sip of his tea as the younger vigilante marveled at the collected way in which the speedster moved. So unlike the Flash. So drastically different from Impulse. It was almost impossible to believe they were all connected to the same power source.
“Yet somehow you managed,” Max said at last, setting his empty cup down beside the other. “Hm. Not bad for decaf.”
The younger man pulled away from the wall to better face his companion.
“You drink caffeinated tea?”
The speedster smiled indulgently. “Actually, I prefer coffee.”
“Are you serious?” Nightwing sputtered; his arms dropped to his sides in shock. “I gave Wally coffee once when we were kids. He was doing laps around the world for days.”
Max chuckled. “I’m older than I look, youngster. Takes more than caffeine to rev this old engine.”
The younger man shook his head. “Still.”
The old speedster shrugged amiably. “And when your brilliant plan to expose someone connected to the Speed Force to a stimulant backfired, you found a way to bring him back to earth, didn’t you?” His distinguished features wrinkled under a grin. “Oh, wise and wonderful student of the Bat.”
Nightwing’s mouth opened in indignation. His expression faltered in the next second and he started to laugh.
“Yeah. I guess I did.”
Max Mercury nodded.
The younger man knit his brow. “You’re saying Robin needs to learn how to ground Impulse.”
Max’s broad shoulders rippled in another shrug. His handsome expression didn’t change as the voices across the room grew suddenly in both volume and intensity.
“Is it better to restrain energy or direct it?”
“You really are like some kind of Zen Master,” Nightwing stated. There was a trace of awe in his tone that he made no attempt to mask.
Max arched a brow, tilting his head as Bonnie Jones snubbed her cigarette into a tray already overflowing and promptly gave her appointed nemesis another piece of her opinionated mind. “Have you ever actually practiced Zen?”
The vigilante smirked, then cringed as the harmless coffee pot crashed to the ground, a victim of the woman’s irrational rage.
“No,” he said. “The boss likes to stick us on mountains in Tibet where we don’t just contemplate our sense of non-existence, we nearly die trying.” Nightwing sighed. “Dammit. There goes our drinking rights. First the food, now the coffee. Red’s going to start making us take these parent/teacher meetings in the hangar, isn’t he?”
Max’s laugh was genuine.
“I can see why so many follow you into battle.”
“Right,” Nightwing scoffed benignly. “My ineffable charm.”
The two men took a simultaneous step backward when Arrowette’s mother’s tantrum took an unexpected turn and the glass of water she had meant for Wonder Girl’s mother hit Superman instead. Shaking liquid off his hands and out of his hair, the Kryptonian turned.
“I can’t imagine why the kids are having such a hard time listening to each other,” Max commented dryly.
Nightwing’s laugh was a poorly camouflaged cough into the back of his hand.
Max gave him a sidelong glance.
“If only they’d had the benefit of being trained by Batman.” He shook his head. “Our drinking privileges wouldn’t be in danger and I wouldn’t be missing Jeopardy.”
Nightwing pursed his lips together and nodded knowingly.
“The horror, Max.”
A smile tugged at the speedster’s mouth. “Lead by example, Nightwing,” he imparted sagely, clapping a hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“The youth of today are counting on you and your superior training.” Max winced sympathetically as the angry Kryptonian’s voice rang out across the room.
“In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re crying out for it.”
While the acrobat tended to conceal his missteps and failures under a calm façade of surety and bravado, he was hardly a stranger to the taste of failure. Learning to work with Wally had been one of the most trying challenges of his career heading the Teen Titans. If he’d had so much trouble with the self-made speedster, why hadn’t he realized that Tim would be faced with an even greater problem with Impulse, a boy who thought it wasn’t that he moved too fast, but that the whole world moved too slow?
It was almost a good thing that Superboy had gotten hurt; it would have been a harder lesson to learn if someone else had taken that kind of damage. A member who couldn’t bounce back so quickly.
Nightwing straightened his back and stepped up to the threshold, waiting as the retina scan ascertained his identity.
Now was the perfect opportunity to point out Robin’s complacency. The teenager would take it easier from the man he considered brother.
“Better me than Bruce,” he murmured as the scan completed. The computerized voice announced his presence.
“Member: Robin. Access granted.”
Shaking his head, the man passed through the entrance as it clicked, opening with a soft hiss of compressed air. The automatic clearance he’d had as Robin had carried over into his adult persona. No one had thought to update the computers after the Justice League of America had abandoned its stony halls, a fact he’d really have to bring to Batman’s attention. If, for whatever reason Arsenal decided to drop by, he really doubted the archer would enjoy being so casually reminded of his time under the Green Arrow.
Shifting modes effortlessly from light to dark, his lenses adapted to the dimmer lighting, allowing him to take in the room as the door closed behind him.
Once an intimate conference room for the founding members, it had been converted to what amounted to a recreational space. A tattered couch sat midway between the doors and a large screen T.V. that Nightwing could only imagine had been smuggled into the budget via Tim’s connection to Wayne Enterprises. He nodded appreciatively. The cleverness of the current Robin made him proud. It was time to give that inherent intelligence a new direction.
Coming slowly in the room, Dick began to smile. The emblems of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman were faded and cracking on the opposite wall. The Flash insignia had been added to the lineup with a bold red marker. The top of the suspected artist’s head came into view the closer he got to the couch, widening his smile. He rested his weight on the back and crossed one ankle over the other.
Sensing his presence, the speedster wrapped up the video game he was playing and leaned forward, shoving a handful of potato chips in his mouth as the winning screen played out its victory.
“Sorry, Rob,” Impulse said, chewing distractedly; he crawled forward to change the cartridge. “I did that meditation thing with you for, like, an hour. Then my foot fell asleep and I got hungry.”
Nightwing’s attention traveled away from the young hero, over the broken bags of snack food and the half-eaten gallon of ice cream that was already melting. Impulse’s buffet of junk food was presented on a set of overturned crates that sufficed as a makeshift table. Robin must have blown his budget on the smuggled television.
“So that’s where you should be?” the man asked. Bart was on his feet in an instant. The controller clattered against the table as the catchy music for the new game began to play.
Nightwing grinned. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you. I was actually looking for Robin.”
Bart’s confusion was evident. He craned his neck to look around Dick’s lounging form toward the doors.
“You’re not Robin.”
Dick nearly laughed. He knew Impulse mostly from reputation. When the boy had been in Wally’s care, his best friend had complained constantly. Based on that biased perspective, he had suspected an entirely different, mostly annoying, first encounter.
“Not anymore, no. And neither are you, apparently.”
Impulse blinked. He was a handsome kid; the open cowl that he wore to conceal his facial features was down, exposing his wide, uncertain expression. Little lightning bolts that accented his mask stuck out from his back like tiny gold wings, further eliminating the misconception that he put the demon in speed demon. Thick brown hair flopped over one eye. He cocked his head.
“I got bored. You’re not gonna tell him, are you?”
Dick arched a brow. “You really don’t think he’ll notice?”
There was a rush of air that Nightwing recognized as movement. The speedster reappeared at his side a second later.
“He hasn’t noticed yet.”
Smiling, the man looked down into an incredible set of amber eyes.
“You go back every few minutes to check, huh?”
The teenager nodded. “Yup. Want a snack? I was just going to beat the new Wendy the Werewolf Stalker game. You can watch if you want.”
“Sure,” Nightwing agreed. In the time it took for the man to straighten, Impulse was already back on the floor and tearing into a new bag of candy. Vaulting over the back of the couch, Dick plopped down behind the speedster, his knee near the teenager’s shoulder. When the kid twisted toward him, he accepted the offering of food.
“It’s my favourite,” Bart confided, his mouth full of the little chocolate treats.
“These?” Dick clarified, shaking the bag and reaching in for one. “Or everything that’s on the table?”
Retrieving his controller, the speedster accessed the opening level and the music spiraled before settling into game mode.
“Chocolate. It hasn’t changed much in the last thousand years.”
Dick smiled at the back of Bart’s head. “Reminds you of home, huh?”
Swift hands paused on the controller for the briefest second.
“Yeah, sometimes. I guess.”
“I feel that way about peanuts,” the man said, sucking on a piece of candy and loving the way it dissolved on his tongue. Bart’s little character raced across the screen decimating supernatural creatures along the way. “I grew up in the circus and I used to feed peanuts to the elephants.” He looked down at the colourful bag in his hands before leaning over to put it on the table in front of him. “They’ll always make me think of home.”
“Why’d you leave?” Impulse asked. He looked up suddenly and was on the couch at Dick’s side in an instant. Used to super speed, Nightwing didn’t flinch, adjusting without comment to the new proximity.
“Was Batman in the circus?” the speedster asked, his eyes wide.
Dick turned his head and smiled. Smaller than Robin, Impulse had a runner’s build, lithe and wiry. Hands and feet that were awkward and large on his slight frame confirmed the fact that the growing teenager wouldn’t stay that size for very much longer.
Intentionally making him wait for a reply, the acrobat noted the way Bart’s foot started to bounce. A second later, his attention darted toward the television screen.
“You have a hard time sitting still, don’t you?” the acrobat asked casually.
Impulse frowned, immediately wary. “Did Max send you?”
Nightwing laughed. “No, he didn’t. You just remind me a lot of Wally.”
Bart wrinkled his nose. Dick blinked and the teenager was up and on the opposite side of the room pouring himself something to drink out of a two liter bottle too big for his hands.
“I’m not like Wally. If I was, he’d’ve made me the next Flash when we were fighting Kobra.”
“Hey, mind pouring me one of those?” Nightwing asked, settling back into the couch. Impulse nodded, coming back to his side with speed the likes of which would have been unfathomable if Dick hadn’t spent his entire adolescence acclimating to it. Taking the cup from the teenager’s hand, he leaned forward and planted a chaste kiss on the top of the speedster’s nose.
Bart’s entire body froze. Even after the man pulled away, he didn’t move. Dick rested the glass against his thigh and grinned.
“Wally doesn’t have a lot of patience, either, you know. That’s why he can’t train you. But you still have to learn.”
Impulse blinked, coming back to himself.
“And Batman once passed me over when it came time to pick a successor, so I wouldn’t sweat it.”
The speedster was blatantly skeptical. “Really?”
Dick nodded, putting his cup on the table untouched.
The teenager made a soft, contemplative sound before draining his beverage in a single gulp. The glass was replaced as the bag of candy reappeared in his hand and he resumed eating his chocolates. His gaze jerked to the screen just in time to see his game character get mauled and devoured by little pixilated wolves. Anticipating flight, Dick reached out and put a hand on Bart’s shoulder, feeling the muscles beneath his fingers relax.
“I’m really not like the Flash,” Impulse said quietly and unexpectedly, staring down at his hands; he licked chocolate off the fingers peeking out of his partial gloves. “He doesn’t let his friends get hurt.”
Nightwing exhaled softly. His hand traveled over the ridge of Impulse’s shoulder blade and onto the back of his neck where he fingered the ends of his hair.
“Yeah, that’s tough. When we do things we think are right and they cause pain to people we really care about.”
The boy’s eyes widened. He turned his head to look at the older hero and Dick was struck by the intensity of the colour.
“Stuff you’ve done has hurt people?” Bart asked. “Like, not bad guys, but good guys?”
“Yeah,” Nightwing admitted humbly. “I’ve made some really dumb decisions that hurt members of my team.”
“But you led the Teen Titans,” the speedster stated, shifting to face him a little better. “And the Titans.”
“Yup,” the acrobat agreed. “And sometimes, even I do stupid things.”
Bart straightened, openly skeptical. Dick’s hand dropped.
Chuckling, Nightwing nodded. “Oh, yeah. All the time, in fact.”
Impulse heaved an exaggerated sigh. Shifting his foot, he toed at the controller on the floor.
“I didn’t mean for Kid to get hurt,” he confessed, fiddling with torn top of the bag in his lap. “I don’t want to get kicked off the team.”
Dick went back to stroking the teenager’s back, admiring the sleek combination of toned muscle and sinew. The speedster settled under his touch and his hands and feet stilled.
“I think everyone knows you never intended for it to happen,” the man said. “But it did.”
Bart hung his head. “Yeah.” He glanced sideways through the curtain of his hair. “Is he gonna be ok? I mean, he must have been hurt pretty bad if both his dads showed up.”
Dick stifled a laugh.
“He’ll recover. It’s only magic--most spells have a finite life, anyway. Once it wears off, he should be good as new.”
“Do you think he’ll be mad at me?” the teenager asked hesitantly, looking away and scuffling the floor with his boot. “Robin’s really mad.”
Nightwing frowned; his hand paused. “Robin’s upset with you?”
The speedster nodded. “He yelled at me for not being able to focus. That’s why we were meditating.” Bart shrugged. “He said if it worked for Batman, it would work for me.”
Dick sighed quietly. After a few seconds passed, his companion started to fidget again.
He could only imagine Robin had been trying to help--but comparing a kid like Bart to a legend like Batman was ridiculous. Sure, meditation helped with things like impulsive rage, but dealing with a metabolism that put you somewhere near light speed? It proved Max’s theory a little too well. Maybe Robin did need to be shown the finer points of leading as diverse a team as Young Justice. His successor tended to be over cautious and well-intentioned. Not always a winning combination when trying to wrangle in teenage meta-humans.
“It’s true you need to work on your focus,” Dick admitted slowly. “But from what I can see, you’ve come a long way under Max’s guidance.”
Bart shot him a disbelieving look. “Not according to Max, I haven’t.”
Nightwing’s smile was sympathetic. “Do you think Batman ever told me when I’d done a good job?”
Impulse scoffed. “I worked with Batman once. He was all rules and do this but not that--“
“Kind of like Robin?” the man offered.
Bart seemed to consider it.
“It’s not just you who needs to learn,” Dick continued. He gestured widely. “Leadership doesn’t dream itself into existence. Sure, there are born leaders, but it still takes effort on the part of the leader and patience on the part of the team to make the whole thing work.”
The speedster groaned, flopping backward against the couch cushions. His legs splayed, knocking a bag of pretzels off the table; one hand landed on Nightwing’s thigh.
“Does that mean I need to slow down?” he whined, turning his head. His lower lip stuck out in a comical pout that Dick wasn’t sure was unintentional.
“Maybe a little,” the older hero said. He put a hand nonchalantly on Bart’s head, brushing bangs back from his face. The speedster looked at him curiously as Dick ran his fingers through the teenager’s thick hair.
“More than slowing down, you need to think about how what you do affects other people.” Nightwing swallowed a triumphant smile and raised his arm as Bart shifted, curling into the man’s side. His hand settled back on his wild brown hair. The speedster’s unusual amber eyes slid shut as Dick continued to soothe him and the vigilante watched the tension physically leave the boy’s shoulders.
“Mmmmm,” Bart made a low sound of agreement that was muffled against Dick’s chest. “Yeah. Other people.”
The acrobat smiled with self-satisfaction. It seemed the laws of speedsters were about as universal and constant as those of physics. A few kind words and a comforting touch went a long way in making everything better. Dick was naturally affectionate in ways the new Robin shied away from. If this was really all Impulse needed to keep from being so, well, impulsive, then it was a lesson the leader of Young Justice was just going to have to learn.
A hug a day kept catastrophe at bay.
Dick had been living by that mantra for years. Not only did it help form cohesion within his team, it kept him from wanting to kill certain members when they did things he considered incredibly stupid.
Nightwing laughed quietly under his breath as the teenager nuzzled into his touch. He threaded his fingers deeper into Bart’s hair, moving to the back of his neck, encouraging another soft sound.
“That feels nice,” Impulse murmured, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he hadn’t moved in well over a minute. Nightwing changed tactics slightly, stimulating the speedster’s scalp with his fingertips.
“I know,” Dick agreed, keeping his voice low and soothing.
Bart drew his feet onto the couch. Dick moved brown hair out of eyes that were a half-lidded, deepening gold.
“You have the prettiest eyes,” Nightwing said softly, resting his hand on the speedster’s back.
“You like to touch me,” Bart replied, scooting closer to the older hero. Dick smiled.
“It helps calm you down,” he confessed. “Keeps you from fidgeting and feeling like you need to run.”
Impulse nodded, raising his head. Putting a hand to Nightwing’s face, he traced the contours of his mask with his fingers. The scent of chocolate followed the movement.
“You’re pretty, too,” Bart said with a grin. “Like Robin.”
The man laughed quietly. “Really.”
Nodding, the teenager’s hand traveled down his cheek; his fingertips paused over Nightwing’s lips and a spot of colour flashed across the pale plane of his nose. It was the only warning Dick got before the teenager pressed their lips together.
“You taste like Robin,” Impulse’s laugh was a whisper against his mouth. Nightwing smiled gently, his surprise superceded by the speedster’s cheerful commentary.
“What does Robin taste like?” he asked, continuing to run his fingers through the younger hero’s hair.
Bart smacked his lips thoughtfully, then leaned up and engaged him again. When a wet tongue flicked against his mouth, Dick relaxed obligingly, surprised at the confident skill behind the kiss. It was obviously an activity he had practice with.
They broke apart with a wet sound that lingered.
“Coffee,” Bart said decisively. His gold eyes glittered and he grinned. “You both taste like coffee.”
“You’ve done this before with Robin,” Dick said, caressing the teenager’s lean back.
Bart shrugged, settling into him again. He played with the edge of Nightwing’s costume where it met his throat.
“A few times.”
The vigilante arched a brow, looking down. “What else have you done?”
The speedster laughed. “A few things.” He glanced up again. “You’ve done this with Wally?”
The acrobat cleared his throat. “I may have a soft spot for speedsters,” he admitted.
Impulse’s red fingerless glove was a sharp contrast against Nightwing’s blue chevron as it slid over his chest, resting on the man’s muscled abdomen. There was a devilish spark in his eye as he arched a brow that made the man pull a sharp breath.
“A soft spot?” Bart asked suggestively.
Dick’s laugh was breathy. “Not so cute after all, are you?”
“You think I’m cute?” the teenager asked, inclining his head.
Nightwing sat up a little; the speedster shifted to compensate.
“I think you walk a fine line between fucking adorable and--“
“Adorably fuckable?” Bart smirked.
Dick’s eyes widened and he jumped as the computerized voice chimed from the door.
“Member: Robin. Reader error--access denied.”
Straining his neck, the man glanced over his shoulder. “We really need to get that fixed,” he muttered before raising his voice. “Override code 4673Delta.” He looked down at Bart who met his gaze evenly and didn’t move.
“Code accepted. Access granted.” The door clicked open.
“Bart, are you in here? I thought I told you to--“ Robin pulled up short as he rounded the couch in a flurry of flushed anger. His cape mirrored his irritation, snapping behind him before settling around his shoulders. He faltered at the sight of his older brother.
“I--Nightwing?” He indicated the door with a short jerk of his head. “I thought everyone had left.”
Dick gestured broadly with both hands, stretching his arms along the back of the couch, his side suddenly cold and vacant.
“Thought I’d stick around a little longer and see how you guys were doing.”
“We’re fine,” Robin said tightly, stepping carefully around the table, seemingly immune to the disaster spilling onto the floor. He looked back at his brother.
“Have you seen Bart? I--umph!” the teenager staggered as Impulse tackled him from behind, wrapping his arms seamlessly around Robin’s waist. Blushing deeply, he clamped a hand over the pair at his waist and made a vain attempt to pull his teammate off of him.
“Bart! Come on--“
“I think what we have here is a serious case of slacking leadership,” Nightwing commented with an exaggerated sigh. He gestured as Robin’s eyes widened in indignation. “I mean, look at him--he obviously doesn’t respect you.” The man shook his head. “It’s kind of tragic, Timmy--“
“Dick!” Tim cried. “Batman’s going to kill you for using civilian names!”
Bart peered over Tim’s shoulder. “Your name’s Dick?” he laughed.
“Shut up, fleet feet,” Nightwing shot back with a smirk. “Con artists like you don’t get to make comments on my name.”
Impulse’s countenance turned coy. He unlocked his hands, laying them flat on Robin’s torso where they blended in with the red of his tunic.
“I wasn’t conning you,” he replied. “And it wasn’t a trick. I never said I didn’t want to kiss you.”
Tim jerked, straining to make eye contact with Bart.
“What are you--“
Nightwing’s eyes narrowed when the speedster silenced his brother with a kiss. The scarlet flush on Robin’s cheeks blossomed toward his arched throat. That Tim didn’t pull away immediately spoke volumes on the nature of their relationship. That he seemed to anticipate and know the ebb and flow of Impulse’s momentum was more than telling.
“Definitely a problem with respect,” the acrobat reiterated, pushing to his feet. “You shouldn’t have let it go this far, Robin. Letting a speedster get his way is just asking for problems later on.”
Tim’s breath was short and erratic when Impulse finally released him. He lowered his head in embarrassment, wiping his mouth with the back of his gloved hand. Bart rested happily against his back, beaming at Dick as the man came to stand before them. The little wings on his back no longer looked so angelic.
Robin went to stutter an angry denial, shaking his head as Impulse laughed. Nightwing smiled gently and raised his brother’s chin with his hand. The teenager’s complexion was stained with awkward agitation and he tried unsuccessfully to tug his face out of his grip.
Closing the distance between them, Dick silenced Tim’s surprise with a kiss.
“Cool…” Bart breathed quietly, lessening his hold. Tim pitched forward with the unexpected release, into his brother’s arms. Nightwing took the opportunity to deepen the kiss.
Laying a hand on his hip, Dick steadied his successor; Robin clutched his bicep as Nightwing slid an arm around his waist, gathering him tightly against his chest and pulling him close, out of Impulse’s grasp entirely.
Tilting his head, the man coaxed his brother’s lips apart; Tim’s breath hitched against his mouth before he complied. His tongue was hesitant, but curious, wet and warm and strong when it met Dick’s, twisting and tasting before pulling back. The teenager took a shaky breath, opening his eyes slowly. They were dazed and uncertain.
Swallowing hard, he furrowed his brow.
“Shhh…” Nightwing murmured, kissing him again. “He needs to learn. Follow my lead.”
Robin nodded hesitantly. “Are you--“
“Shhh. Take off your gloves,” the man commanded quietly.
Tim withdrew his hands and stared at them. Meeting Dick’s eyes, he tugged them off one finger at a time and dropped them to the floor at their feet.
Nightwing gathered his brother to him again, rewarding his compliance with another long kiss.
The teenager moaned at his retreat. He blinked back to himself with a soft sigh. Nightwing held his gaze, his lips curling in approval.
“Good,” the man murmured. There was a subtle shift in his tone that only one trained under the Bat would have heard. Robin flushed at the praised. Nightwing’s attention moved to the speedster at his back.
Robin licked his lips. Taking a deep breath, he straightened and inclined his head slightly, pitching his voice behind him.
“Impulse,” he said firmly. “Take off your gloves.”
The speedster was beside them in a second. Grinning, he leaned forward on his toes, his hands clasped behind his back.
“I like it better when you take them off me,” he whispered, nudging the other teenager’s nose with his own.
“Robin,” Nightwing reminded him quietly.
Tim turned his head, breaking contact with his companion. His voice hardened.
“I said take off your gloves.”
Frowning, Bart’s gaze darted from one stoic figure to the other.
“Ok, fine,” he relented with a sigh, undoing the buckles on his wrists at lightning speed. They joined Robin’s gauntlets a moment later.
“Go on,” Dick urged gently.
Tim nodded, mostly to himself. Bart’s eyes were wide and curious when the other teen touched his hip, feather-light. Then something in Robin seemed to click and his fingers found a firmer hold. He pulled the speedster to him, claiming his lips and an unexpected fervor.
Impulse’s eyes fluttered shut and he clutched Robin’s cape. Nearly a full minute went by before the brunette was released, breathless and panting.
Robin took a deep breath, maintaining his composure. It only shook a little on the exhale.
“Good,” he echoed, moving his hand to Impulse’s lower back.
Bart nodded happily. “Yeah,” he agreed dazedly. “That was good.”
Nightwing smirked. Reaching out, he flipped the clasp on Robin’s cape with an expertise that came with intimate practice. It slid off his shoulders and fell heavily to the floor, a shapeless mass of gold and black. The uncertainty remained at the corner of Tim’s eyes, but there was assurance there as well. Impulse’s docility seemed to fuel his confidence. Dick needed to make sure that fire was stroked before it went out.
Max was right; it was best to lead by example.
“Your boots,” he ordered.
Without lowering his gaze, Robin toed down first one, then the other, kicking them off his feet and to the side.
Dick’s smirk was seductive when he beckoned his brother forward with one finger. Matching it with increasing ease, Tim complied.
Bart made what might have been a whimper when the arm around his back drew him into their embrace. Pressed against them, Impulse could only watch the flash of pink between their mouths as they kissed. Nightwing’s hand ran down his brother’s back, over the shapely muscle of Robin’s ass. Tim jerked as he was squeezed, intensifying the kiss of his own accord. Impulse fidgeted impatiently, one of his hands on each of their arms.
To the speedster, an eternity passed before they separated.
The man smiled. “Excellent.”
Robin blushed brighter; then, without being told, he looked at Bart.
“Take off your boots,” he commanded.
Impulse had them off in a heartbeat. They collided with the table behind them, displacing another open bag.
The speedster moved forward expectantly.
Tim put a hand on his chest to stop him. Bart’s brow knit in disappointment.
Robin swallowed and shook the tension out of his shoulders.
“Not me. Kiss Nightwing.”
The acrobat’s fingers tightened approvingly on his brother’s hip as Impulse turned into him, raising up on his toes to account for the difference in their heights. He met the teenager’s eager mouth with controlled temperance, tasting chocolate and something uniquely Bart.
The speedster grinned as his heels hit the floor and they broke apart.
“You really do taste the same.”
The man chuckled lightly.
“Excellent,” Tim repeated obediently. He looked to Dick, awaiting his next instruction.
“Robin,” he said, meeting Impulse’s excited look with one of amusement. “Take off his suit.”
Tim’s fingers stilled on the front of his own tunic as the words sunk in. The top two clasps were undone, folding over and obscuring the R emblem on the front.
“Come on, Robin,” Nightwing teased when his brother hesitated. “After seeing you two go at it tonight, I’m certain you know how.”
Tim cheeks coloured and he nodded. “Right,” he whispered. Facing the other teenager, he started from the top and worked his way down.
Bart’s open cowl was the first item to be removed. Casting it aside, Tim worked his hands under the top of the cream and scarlet suit, stretching it outward from the speedster’s collar until it fit over his shoulders before tugging it down. Impulse didn’t begin to react until it had cleared both his wrists and Robin’s hands were traveling south on his torso, easing the material toward his narrow hips.
Nightwing cupped the speedster’s cheek, drawing his attention upward while Robin worked the rest of the costume off his body. The teen blushed a sharp shade of red when he stepped out of his suit.
“You’re hard, aren’t you?” the man asked with a smile.
“Well yeah,” Bart complained in a low whine. “Tim’s hands are soft.” Beside him, the other teenager laughed under his breath. The speedster glanced down at his uncovered erection and turned the most endearing shade of pink.
Nightwing arched a brow, following his gaze. Flushed with blood, Bart’s cock arced proudly, poking his stomach. The head glistened.
The man quelled the urge to finish off the tempting little speedster prematurely, instead pulling him against his hip as he turned back to his brother.
“You did a good job,” he said. Tim licked his lower lip, teeth catching and holding it. Taking his brother’s hand, the acrobat drew Tim forward against his other side. The speedster pressed closer to him, arms wrapping around Nightwing’s waist and Dick laid a patient hand on his back.
The kiss between them was sloppier this time, proving that even Dick’s endurance wasn’t without limitations. The man’s hand didn’t rest on Tim’s waist, but eased forward over his brother’s abdomen before teasingly making its way down to stroke him through the protective fabric of his suit.
Tim moaned and Bart harmonized with another quiet whimper.
“Justtellmewhattodo,” the speedster pleaded as the brothers separated, his amber eyes hazy with want. Nightwing didn’t remove his hand and Robin was forced to steady himself on the man’s arm as he was taunted and fondled.
Tim’s eyes closed briefly and his mouth tightened against a low groan.
“T-take these off me,” he said. While the authority in his tone had noticeably slipped, it wasn’t entirely sacrificed to the weight of his increasing need.
Impulse froze as Nightwing’s arm constricted around his waist.
“Not everything is better done at light speed,” the older hero murmured.
Bart’s bright eyes flickered from the man to his brother. He swallowed hard; his body hummed with excitement against Nightwing’s side.
“How slow?” he asked pathetically.
Dick stayed intentionally quiet, forcing the speedster to defer to his leader while Tim did an impressive job of gathering what remained of his dignity.
It took a moment, but Robin was able to step away from Nightwing and stand on his own.
Bart worried his lower lip. The other teenager’s strained countenance softened. “I’ll let you know if you go too fast,” he said, drawing the speedster to him and putting Impulse’s hands on the remaining clasps that held his tunic closed. The brunette nodded.
Nightwing crossed his arms over his chest, content to watch the naked speedster remove his brother’s clothes. His own desire was a familiar ache in his groin that he dutifully ignored.
There’d be time for him later. Right now it was more important that the two younger members come to an understanding.
Yellow was the first colour to go; the acrobat arched a brow when Bart was able to remove Robin’s belt without instruction, silently impressed as it was reverently laid aside, so differently from the other articles of clothing that had been so carelessly discarded.
Red was the next colour shed. For each item painstakingly removed, Tim rewarded Bart with a kiss. Clad lastly in the bottom half of a green bodysuit, Robin put his hands over those undressing him and assisted, slowing the descent down his legs. Impulse eased the fabric over Tim’s erection, over the hard definition of his thighs, and down.
He paused, crouched before his team leader, holding the bunched-up material in place as Robin stepped out of it. Looking up, cheeks flushed with poorly contained excitement, he smiled, then placed a kiss on the sharp bone of Tim’s hip as he stood.
“That was very good, Impulse,” Robin said, his words sincere. The kiss he bestowed on his lips was deceptively innocent and barely there. Before the speedster could voice his disappointment, he jerked, falling forward, hands gripping Tim’s shoulders. His mouth went slack though he made no sound as the other teenager slowly stroked his cock.
“Very good,” Robin whispered in his ear.
Inwardly proud of the bold maneuver, Nightwing nevertheless shook his head. The lesson wasn’t over.
“Unfortunately, you won’t have his full attention on the field,” he interrupted. Tim’s brow furrowed. Bart groaned.
“He’s never been this cooperative,” Robin said in his partner’s defense. His fingers were persistent in their appreciation of the speedster’s hard anatomy; Impulse moaned louder, leaning heavily on the other teenager’s shoulder.
Nightwing smirked, kicking aside a mass of tangled and discarded clothing. Robin tilted his head with frank curiosity as the acrobat moved to take a position behind the occupied brunette.
“That’s great. Will he still listen to you when he has a distraction?” the older vigilante asked his brother.
Tim frowned, glancing at the shuddering figure pressed against his chest.
Dick grinned and gave his last command.
“Don’t let him finish.”
The man dropped to his knees. He laid his hands on the perfect roundness of Bart’s ass, fanning out his fingers. The black and blue of his bodysuit was ironically counter-symbolic to the incredibly gentle way he slowly spread him apart.
Impulse’s breath caught. “R-Robin…”
“Look at me,” his leader commanded. “You’ve got to focus, Impulse.”
The teenager nodded, clutching him tightly. He cried out in surprise as Nightwing’s thumb slid down the inner cleft, pressing against his tight ring.
“Have you ever done this?” Dick asked, admiring the colour, a darker rose against the speedster’s natural pallor.
“Fingers,” Tim confided quietly.
“But no tongue?”
Nightwing was certain his brother shook his head, though there was no way to see it from his vantage point.
“Not there, no.”
“Youcan’twanttodothat--“ the speedster rushed. Robin held him tightly in place from the top while Nightwing’s hands had a firm grasp on his hips via the soft flesh of his ass.
“Let me be the judge of that,” Dick murmured. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply of the musky, sour scent he found strangely erotic, before touching his tongue to the muscle that clamped around the tip of his thumb.
Bart squirmed and groaned and cried and shook. Tim held him upright with one arm while his opposite hand grew firmer in its handling of the speedster’s cock.
“Tell me when you’re close,” he commanded gently. Impulse nodded and shook his head, his fingers clenching and unclenching against Robin’s back.
“I c-can’t,” he protested. “It’s too much!”
“You will,” Tim reiterated, nudging the other teenager into a kiss that muffled his moans.
Nightwing shifted, spreading his knees and relaxing back on his heels for better access. Flattening his tongue, he encompassed the sensitive area, pushing inward with his thumb to open it up to him. It was moist and soft, the taste strong and familiar and not altogether unpleasant.
Bart’s shaking intensified until Dick was concerned he’d start to vibrate. He was about to pull back when Tim showed himself an apt pupil and, reading the same signs, albeit a bit slower than his more experienced brother, reduced the speed of his hand.
Impulse broke the kiss with a gasp for air that dwindled into a frantic, animalistic whimper.
“I’m c-close,” he whined, burying his face in his companion’s neck. “I’m close…I’mcloseI’mcloseI’mclose--“
“Wait,” Robin demanded.
“But I can’t!” Impulse cried.
His leader coaxed him out of hiding and looked him in the eye.
Bart bit his lip, eyes frantically searching Tim’s for any ounce of sympathy he could possibly exploit. When he didn’t find any, he nodded quickly.
“Okokok. I’ll wait.” He squeezed his eyes shut and groaned as Dick’s lips pressed against him, mouthing the rosy skin in a long, slow kiss.
Tim took a shuddering breath, not oblivious to his own cock, hard and dark and untouched against his stomach.
“Dick…” he whispered. “I’m not going to last much longer, either.”
Nightwing sat back, licking his lips. “Jerk him,” he said, twisting his thumb a little deeper into Bart’s body.
“Yes,” Robin agreed with a sigh of relief. The speedster’s moans followed the quickening rhythm of his leader’s hand, gaining in pitch and volume.
“Yes. Yesyesyesyes--Robin…mmmmm…can I?” he asked hopefully. When Tim nodded he kissed the other teenager’s face frantically.
Stroking hard and fast, Impulse lasted less than a minute before he tensed and trembled, cumming across Robin’s stomach in thick white spurts. Retrieving his thumb, Nightwing caught the speedster’s weight as his legs failed him; together, he and Robin lowered him to the floor where he collapsed, panting, between the man’s knees. He rested back against Dick’s chest, straining to catch his breath.
Struggling with his own erratic breathing, Robin looked down at the other teenager at his feet, hand moving to his thick, wet cock.
Dick smirked. One arm he looped loosely around the speedster’s waist. His other hand occupied itself in the thickness of Bart’s hair, pushing it affectionately out of his face.
He saw Tim’s breath hitch and his fingers tighten around his shaft.
“Do it,” Nightwing prompted. Robin’s gaze flickered up from its intense study of Impulse’s red lips and lidded eyes. “You want to cum on his face. So do it. Actions speak louder than words, Robin. ”
“How can you stand it?” Tim asked his older brother hoarsely, shaking his head as he began to jerk; his head drooped and his hair fell forward into his eyes.
“I almost finished just teasing him,” he said, clenching his teeth as his orgasm rose in his groin. “How--?”
“He’s magic,” Impulse mumbled, yawning widely and smiling up at Nightwing. He didn’t seem the least bit concerned about taking Tim’s load face first.
“No,” the man said with a soft laugh as Robin came with a short cry. He shifted, his cock demanding attention as he watched his brother paint Impulse’s angelic features white.
Breathing hard, Tim joined them on the floor, his hands on his knees, his erection softening. He looked up at his brother through dark, damp hair.
“You have to be magic,” Robin panted. “There’s so other way you could last that long.”
Bart wiped cum off his nose. “I told you.”
“Seriously. It’s not magic. I’ve just had a lot of practice. I’ve led a lot of teams.” He grinned. “And taught a lot of lessons.”
Tim frowned. “I don’t buy it.” There wasn’t a trace of the insecurity that had entered the room with him. His eyes narrowed.
“Impulse. Take off his clothes.”
The speedster perked up immediately.
“Like a dervish.”
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