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Knight After Night

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Knight After Night
by Jane St Clair

He dreamed that someone in cape and cowl came to him after a battle and stood over him, but instead of Midnighter, it was Batman. Cape, cowl, moulded rubber armour, the whole deal. The gloves had spikes on the sides, but they were only leather. The grip that helped him up was almost as steady, but the eyes behind the mask tried to push him back down. Huge intimidation factor. Like the man wouldn't be anything if the world didn't cower at his feet.

Batman said, "You've got a serious attitude problem there, chum."

He thought seriously about throwing back something really childish, like *Takes one to know one.* Possibly even, *I know you are but what am I?* Very mature. Absolutely the sort of thing to set Batman shaking in his boots.

Up close, Batman smelled like rubber and leather and something smoky that reminded him of high-air pollution. Ozone and hydrocarbons. He had very wide, thin lips.

They were already on a rooftop. Rubble down below and some unidentified human remains splattered on the asphalt. The city whimpered a little, like the aftermath of a really good night of S&M.

Batman said, "Them. It bothers you."

Meaning Apollo and Midnighter. The former of whom was currently perched on a pile of bricks somewhere down below with the Midnighter at his feet. Any brick he threw off the edge of the roof would knock at least one of them stupid. He thought about it. Didn't try it.

He wanted to say that it didn't *bother* him exactly, but it didn't come out like that when he said it. It came out more like, "Do they *have* to?"

"Be gay?"

"Kiss. Cuddle. Make sweet, messy, noisy love."

"At all?"

"In front of me." And didn't *that* sound pathetic. Nobody loves Jack. Just because his eyes glow in the dark and he eats heavy metals for breakfast and inanimate objects talk to him. Even Angie had horror in her eyes the first time he stepped out of a wall and pushed his hand through some asshole's throat.

"They're not allowed to kiss in front of you."

"Preferable yes."

"You're a very repressed man, Jack."

"And I'm sitting on the roof of the British Exchange in Jakarta talking to Batman. And I spent most of my childhood being abducted by aliens. Repressed is a very small problem in the great scheme of my psyche."

Batman grins at him. It's a strange look, complete with pale lips and a lot of almost-pointed teeth, and some wrinkles around the eyes that are almost invisible under the rubber. "I'll allow you that mental health is overrated. But you might want to consider catching queer sometime."

He choked on that. Almost woke up for a second. He had a flash of his room on the Carrier, of his couch, of little legless, huge-headed creatures outside who were dancing with spiders. His brain simultaneously declared *this is very bad, you were better off dreaming* and *hey asshole, you don't sleep*, and the shock pushed him back down.

Batman was still staring at him. "You seem to be attention-deficit as well. You might want to consider medication."

"You think I should *catch queer*?"

"It has its moments." Batman glanced over the side of the building. Below them, Apollo and Midnighter were listening to Jenny rant. Apollo was wrapped almost completely around his partner, white light over leather, like some twisted holy symbol. Jack bent over to see what Batman was looking at and got an eyeful of Apollo bending down to kiss the Midnighter softly just behind his ear. Of Midnighter raising an absent hand to stroke the back of Apollo's neck. Jenny's rant didn't break stride and the chaos of the world kept moving around them.

Jack said, "Look, don't take this the wrong way, but aren't you supposed to be the big, butch superhero? I mean Superman, him I could see. It's just the whole Captain Underpants look taken to its logical conclusion. No straight man would have put that outfit together. But, um . . ."

"Jack, you are the only person left living who thinks my relationship with Robin is platonic."

Jack sputtered.

"Jack, grow up. Please. Go out, get laid, loosen up. Go clubbing. Dance. Get high on car exhaust. Something. The drug-induced superheros of the world are asking you nicely."

Jack thought harder about dropping a brick on the now-necking Sun King and Night's Bringer of War. "I'm never letting the Doctor near my drink again. What the hell did he give me?"

Batman put out a gloved hand and caught the back of his head. Pulled him in. Kissed him. Very soft lips and more than a hint of stubble -- five o'clock shadow times three o'clock in the morning. Tongue in his mouth. Wet, messy. Mouth open on his mouth, teeth meeting, leather cowl cool and sexy against his face. One of his hands came up and rubbed the back of the hood, feeling stitching and the leather's memory of thousands of nights. If he had to rub his mouth raw to curl his toes this good, he'd make the sacrifice.

Batman pulled back and left Jack panting, half pushed forward to straddle one rubber-clad knee.

Soft, growling voice that said, "You *are* desperate." A gloved hand snaked out, rubbed Jack's crotch where the erection was a noticeable force, and then came up to stroke his short (receding, if he admits it) hair.

He looked over the edge at Apollo and the Midnighter, whose kissing was rapidly involving the loss of clothing. He looked up and Batman leapt off the other side.

He woke up. His couch had underwear lying across the back of it, and there were a lot of clothes on the floor of his room. He decided that in case he let himself be drugged asleep ever again, he was going to have to get a bed to crash on.

He should have spent the night in Sarajevo.

The inside of his mouth tasted like leather. The things outside the window stared in at him. Laughed. Kept dancing with their spiders.