Batman knows when he’s being watched.
A sense of awareness of his surroundings has saved his life on too many occasions to count. So when his spine tingles and his shoulderblades itch, he knows he has to find the source of it.
Superman is still talking, not sure what about anymore. They aren’t in any danger, here in the Watchtower, and they’ve upped their security since the last villain incursion. Besides, no one else is behaving as though they are under attack.
Batman shifts his gaze, glad that the lenses hide his eyes from Superman who would be offended that he doesn’t have Batman’s full attention.
He scans the room, noting each hero present, until he finds the source of the observation. It is The Flash, currently standing with Nightwing and J’onn, but his attention is on Batman. His own lenses may hide the direction of his eyes, but Batman can read his body language all too well.
Wally is frowning. He’s tense, something guarded in his posture. He’s all but glaring in their direction, which is a curious thing because Batman can’t recall anything he’s done that might have upset the speedster.
Superman coughs. “What did you do?”
Batman returns his attention to the Boy Scout. “What makes you think I am the one at fault?”
Superman gives him a long, accusing look. “Experience.” He folds his arms over his barrel chest, arching an eyebrow.
“I have done nothing,” Batman retorts and half-turns, enough that The Flash is no longer in his immediate vision.
“Then why are you getting Flash’s version of a death glare?” Superman asks, though there’s humor in his voice. “Granted, it’s more cute than it is scary, but still.”
He honestly doesn’t know, and Batman is not a fan of not-knowing. He schools his expression, or his lower face at any rate.
“We have more important matters to discuss,” Batman says stiffly.
Superman blinks at him and then his grin becomes obscenely wide. “Sure, sure. Whatever you say.” He leans in close, almost conspiratorially. “But if you get banished to the couch tonight and need a place to crash, let me know?”
“I’ll get a hotel instead,” Batman retorts in a bland tone.
Superman chuckles. “You know what I mean.”
He does. But he’s also not going to acknowledge it either.
“Let’s just get back to work.”
“Whatever you say, Bruce.”
Superman is right about one thing. The Flash had been acting strangely and it is something that Batman cannot let slide. If he can not be discreet, then this relationship cannot continue, no matter how much they’ve invested in it.
Batman – and Bruce – would be sorry to see it come to an end. But sometimes, needs must.
Aside from that, there is a mystery here, and Batman does not like mysteries. Or at least, mysteries he hasn’t solved.
Bruce refuses to bow to convention.
Perhaps Flash expects Bruce to come after him and ask questions. Perhaps he expects Bruce to investigate. Therefore, Bruce does neither. Instead, he retreats to the Batcave, mask retracted, and gets to work.
There is always crime to be found, petty or otherwise. There are always criminals, thieves, murderers, especially in Gotham. The life of a vigilante is never a quiet one.
“There you are!”
Ah. Patience comes to he who waits. Especially he who has no intention of giving chase.
“Where else would I be?” Bruce asks as a red blur flashes into existence by his right hand.
Wally is currently in civvies, his red hair wild from his run, and his smile even brighter than his freckles. He crosses his arms over his chest, hip leaning against the console.
“Good point,” he says, and scratches at the side of his nose. “So you skipped out of the Watchtower early.”
“I have work to do,” Bruce replies. His fingers move over the keys, but if anyone’s paying attention, they’ll see no real progress is being made.
“You always have work to do,” Wally drawls with a roll of his eyes. “But I’m pretty sure we had an agreement about how long you should spend not engrossed in your work.”
“Mmm.” Bruce makes a noncommittal noise, his gaze focused on the screen.
Wally fidgets. The red blur moves from Bruce’s right to his left, all the better to fill Bruce’s peripheral vision as his global tracking program is to his left.
“So, uh, what did I do to get the Mr. Freeze treatment, huh?” Wally asks, leaning in close.
Bruce presses a few keys with a loud click and then tilts his head toward Wally. “You? I was under the impression that I had done something to offend.”
Wally blinks. “Huh?”
“You were glaring.”
Wally sucks his bottom lip into his mouth and takes a step back, nearly tripping on the chair behind him – Tim’s chair, though he’s out on patrol right now. “Oh, right. That.” He rubs the back of his head. “I wasn’t really glaring, I was just, um, looking really hard?”
Bruce refuses to dignify that with a response.
Wally sighs audibly and ducks his head. “Okay, so you’re not going to believe that.”
“Didn’t think so.” Wally drops his hands and shoves them into his pockets. He hunches his shoulder, face darkening red behind his freckles. “Look, it’s not really you, it’s me. It’s my problem and–”
“Wally.” He doesn’t raise his voice or speak sharply, but it is still a gentle interruption. Wally has a habit of running off on a tangent. Sometimes on purpose as it serves an excellent distraction. Other times accidentally as he forgets himself.
“Right. Get to the point.” Wally’s gaze wanders away, past Bruce’s shoulder. “So, you and Superman are really close, aren’t you?”
Bruce’s eyes narrow. “For certain definitions of the term. Though close is a strong word.”
Wally exhales audibly. “Does he know that?”
Bruce is quite certain he doesn’t like where this is going.
“We are friends, of a sort,” Bruce replies, shifting his weight so that he faces Wally directly. “We have a professional respect for each other as well. I do not have enough fingers to count how many times I have saved his life.”
Or the other way around, if Bruce is being perfectly honest.
“But if you are asking whether or not there is a connection between us of a romantic nature, the answer is ‘no,’” Bruce adds before Wally can sidestep directly asking again.
Wally fidgets. The color in his cheek darkens further. “Like I said, the problem’s mine. Not yours. I’ll, uh, make sure I’m not glaring in the future.”
One should not reward immaturity. Yet, Bruce feels compelled to offer comfort. There is something about the slump of Wally’s shoulders, the dim cast to his eyes, that can’t be ignored. Wally is meant to be full of energy and life.
“Yes, I would appreciate if you were more circumspect in the future,” Bruce says as he reaches for Wally, cupping the younger man’s face with his hands and urging Wally to look at him.
Green eyes slowly lift. Tension, however, lingers.
“Barring that, however, I would prefer if you came directly to me with your concerns, though I can understand why you might be reluctant to do so.” Bruce is more than aware how he can come across at times.
Dick has told him on more than one occasion that he can be a cold bastard too often. Bruce has been making an effort to take Dick’s advice to heart.
And now Bruce is as loquacious as Wally because he can’t seem to stop talking. Wally has noticed as well, his eyes getting brighter and rounder, the tension easing from his body second by second.
“What I mean to say is that yes, Superman and I have a friendship that is built upon understanding, but you are the only man who has ever shared my bed.”
The blush spreads to Wally’s nose. “I guess I’m pretty lucky, huh?”
“If you want to look at it that way, I’m not going to stop you.” Bruce’s lips twitch as he fights to conceal a small smile.
Wally chuckles and his shoulders relax. His hands free themselves of his jean pockets, moving instead to Bruce’s hips. He registers their weight, but little else through the thick weave of his suit.
“Then I will.” His smile widens, cheeks pushing at Bruce’s gloves. “But I mean, I’m not gonna say that I won’t be jealous in the future. I’m only human.”
He’s so much more than that, but Bruce will not voice such aloud. Wally’s ego is through the roof enough as it is. As adorable as it is when he struts around, so very proud of himself, Bruce has allowed himself a small break.
He’d like to make the most of it.
“As are we all,” Bruce murmurs instead and pulls Wally into a gentle kiss, a brush of their lips together, and he feels the heat of Wally’s face against his fingers.
Two years into this relationship and Wally still blushes. It’s an adorable wonder that Bruce half hopes he never loses.
Along with Wally himself.