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Title: First Shadow.
Rating: NC-17 but only just
Verse: Mended Wings. Previous chapters:
here.
Characters: Tim, Alfred, Bernard, Jason & Dick.
Disclaimer: No ownership, no profit and no offence meant. Everyone is of the age of consent in their country and period of history
Author’s notes: 100% organic. May contain minor flaws and imperfections that beta-treated slash wouldn’t.
Bingo card: H/C. Sexual extortion: to protect someone else.
Masterlist here.

A/N: For what I'm about to do, I blame Alexiel.

It started with small things – gag toys that shorted and caught fire or gave the user a shock. At first it was written off as faulty manufacturing. After all, so close to Christmas, all the cheap Chinese knock-offs were hitting the shelves; the perfect gift for that uncle you didn’t really like.

Gotham PD took note of the complaints and passed them on the Consumer Affairs. After all it was Christmas and they had their hands full with domestic disputes and drunken brawls. Who had time to worry about a cheap, crappy toy when the drunk-tank’s overflowing?

But it kept getting worse in the way small things can. Whoopee cushions that released a noxious gas, meant perhaps to simulate a fart but which left anyone near it nauseous and vomiting. Joke candies that too often landed people in hospital with chemical burns to their mouth and throat. Other’s that caused hallucinations and lead people to display uncharacteristically reckless behaviour.

Tim sat at the console of the cave’s supercomputer, watching the hospital admittance and police incident reports scroll across the screen, searching for a pattern. He looked up as Alfred set a plate of gingerbread and a glass of milk at his hand. “There’s something in it, Alfred. I’m sure there is. I just... I can’t find it.”

Alfred rested a hand on his shoulder, squeezing lightly as he looked down at Tim. The youngest member of the household had come in leaps and bounds since being freed from his mother’s tyrannical grip but Alfred still worried, as he did for all of them. The mission was a lonely one and through it drove them together, as tight as the bonds of family; it also drove them away from the rest of the world. “Were you not meeting your friend Bernard for dinner this evening, Master Tim?”

Tim gave a half shrug, his eyes never leaving the humming screens. “I’ll call him and cancel. He won’t mind.”

Given the number of messages young Bernard had left of late, Alfred doubted that very much. “Master Timothy, this research will still be when you return. If I might say so sir, a couple of hours out of the cave,” and in the blessed fresh air “will do you the world of good. And perhaps give you a different perspective from which to view the problem at hand.”

Tim ducked his head, accepting the admonishment. “Of course Alfred, you’re right. I just...I know there’s a connection. I just have to find it.”

Alfred squeezed his shoulder. “You’ll find it, Master Tim. You are brilliant detective and trained by the best.”

***

“What’s with you tonight, Drake? I don’t think you’ve answer a single question with more than two syllables.”

Tim ducked his head, hiding a blush. “Sorry Bernard. I’ve just...I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

Bernard kicked him lightly under the table of the coffee shop. “So spill. That’s what BBFs are for.”

Tim sighed. How could he tell his very normal and slightly flighty best friend that he thought there was a new villain in Gotham, that even the most benign of toys could be dangerous? “I’m just... still trying to process everything.”

Despite Bruce’s best efforts, Tim’s emancipation had made the news, though thankfully not the worst of it. The papers had reported it as a feud between the power-player of Gotham, a tussle for market shares between Wayne Industries and Drake Co. Some more sensational tabloids claimed that Tim was actually Bruce Wayne’s natural son from an affair with Janet Drake and the whole thing was some elaborate custody battle.

Bernard reached across the table to touch Tim’s arm, slightly amazed when his friend didn’t flinch or pull away. “But he’s treating you right yeah? Wayne I mean. He’s not...”

Tim’s eyes flashed, remembering the hurt Dick went through when Vicki Vale started insinuating such things. “Bruce Wayne is a great man who has been very kind to me. And I will not have anyone say otherwise.”

“Alright, alright. Simmer down Drake. I had to ask. Gotta look out for you.” Bernard placated. “After all, you’re doing a bang up job of it yourself.” He reaches out to brush the hair back from Tim’s face.

This time Tim did finch, trying to cover the mostly healed black eye that still showed as yellow bruising around his cheekbone. “I got mugged. I could happen to anyone.” He muttered, pulling away defensively. It had actually been the point of some thug’s boot as one stray kick got past his guard during a drug bust down at the docks.

“You should talk to that fancy-ass new dad of yours about some self-defence lessons. Do a bit of karate or something.”

Tim tried not to snort into his milkshake. Dick had fussed over the injury, Alfred had cleaned and tended it and Bruce had reacted by redoubled his training, working Tim twice as hard to make sure it didn’t happen again. “I’ll...I’ll suggest it to him.”

Bernard sighed and ruffled Tim hair as he got up to pay for their drinks. “Come on. Let’s get you home before you run the risk of getting mugged again.”

They wandered together down the promenade of Gotham’s shopping district, casually looking for a cab and Tim found himself instinctively watching the alleys and side streets. Less than a year ago, he would have been watching the skies and rooftops for any sign of Batman or Robin but now... he watched as Robin, seeing the streets with different eyes.

Eyes that caught the movement in the alley ahead and the flash of a face in the shadows. A slightly familiar face and one that made his pulse race.

“Hello titbit.” Jason drawled, leaning out so even Bernard could see him. “Late for you to be out.”

Bernard balked, half stepping in front of Tim to protect him but Tim caught his arm.

“It’s ok Bernard, I know him.”

Jason leered openly, leaning against the wall. “Oh we go way back, don’t we titbit?” The cock of his hip, the deliberate drawl of his words; every action screamed street walker, every action screamed danger. “Run along blondie, me and the pretty bird need to have words.”

Tim held tight to Bernard’s arm as the blond prickled with rage. “It’s ok. I know what I’m doing.”

“Do you, Drake? Cause I sure as hell don’t!”

“Just go.” Tim tried to sound soothing despite his own rush of adrenalin. If it came to a fight with Jason, he’d rather Bernard not see. “I’ll be fine.”

Bernard resisted for a long moment before sagging. “You call me. As soon as you get home. Let me know you’re safe.”

“I will, trust me. Just go.” Tim waited, making sure Bernard was well out of sight before turning to Jason.

“Smooth move ex-lax.” Jason purred, moving right up close inside Tim’s personal space. “Your pretty little boyfriend now thinks you’re into drugs.” He ghosted his fingers over Tim’s chin, forcing the youth to look up at him. “Or rough trade.”

“Better that than the truth.” Tim answered levelly, hoping his voice didn’t give away the pounding of his heart.

“That’s a pity,” Jason leered, stroking his thumb over Tim’s cheek. “I reckon he’s find it a turn on.” His touch smudged the concealed that hid the scar on Tim’s cheek. “He do this to you?” The dealer demanded and Tim knew they weren’t talking about Bernard any more.

“No.” Tim answered, trying not to swallow as Jason leaned in, his heavy male musk and the smell of leather enveloping him. “He protected me from the one who did.”

Jason chuckled darkly in Tim’s ear, pushing him back against the wall. “Daddy’s got a protective streak when it comes to his little boys, doesn’t he? Would he come for you, do you think? If I was to...touch what’s his.”

Tim’s breathing spiked as Jason pushed a knee between his thighs, pressing him into the wall. There were a dozen moves he could use to get free, first and foremost – driving his knee up into Jason’s groin but...

“Question is...” Jason purred, rubbing his leg slowly between Tim’s lean thighs. “Do you want to be rescued?”

This snapped Tim out of his trance and he twisted away, shoving Jason back to give himself room to move.

But Jason was faster, grabbing Tim’s arm and twisting it behind his back as he forced Tim face first against the stone. “Nice try. You’ve got fight Titbit, I’ll give you that.” He breathed heavily over Tim’s neck, grinding himself against the youth’s ass. “You gunna need it.”

“What do you want from me?” Tim growled, trying to sound far less frightened than he felt.

“Oh so many things.” Jason purred, rolling his hips to make Tim feel it. “But for now, a message. Tell Daddy dearest something bad’s happening on the streets. Someone pedalling killer shit they callin’ Laughing Man. It ain’t good and more people are gunna die.”

“What do you care?” Tim hissed, struggling against Jason’s hold. “You deal death every day.”

“My shit’s clean. And I like repeat customers.” Jason pressed his nose into Tim’s hair, pinning the boy as he breathed in, almost tasting Tim’s scent. “Whoever’s bringing this in is bad for business.” He slid his hand over the curve of Tim’s ass, pushing something into his back pocket. “Tell Daddy there’s a new player in town and he ain’t cute and cuddly like me.” There was a distant roar of an engine and Jason chuckled. “Looks like golden boy’s here to get you.” He spun Tim around, kissing him deep and rough. “Next time titbit.”

Tim sunk to the ground, too stunned to react until Dick was knelling next to him, stroking his hair and whispering for him to focus. Only then did Tim let himself breathe again.

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