"What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for you." Bruce was quiet and matter of fact. He sat in Kyle's living room, holding a cup of coffee and a book as if he were, indeed, just waiting for Kyle. As if it were normal for him to do this, to be here.
Kyle collapsed on the couch next to him, too tired and heartsick to do more. Bruce poured him another cup of coffee from a familiar silver thermos. "Thanks. But. You're taking a huge chance."
"I'm not. Not tonight. And. I'm supposed to be here." Bruce stopped and stared at his coffee. "I watched you today. You and Alan Scott and...and his daughter. Saving all those people."
Kyle took refuge in his own cup. "We didn't save all of them. We didn't save anyone in the planes." Four planes, loaded with fuel and passengers, used as weapons.
"I know. There was no way you could have. There was no time."
Kyle looked at him. "How do you *know* that? How *can* you know that? I should have been *here*, Bruce. I should have been in New York, in my own bed. Maybe I could have done something. Maybe I could have stopped the second plane, or *something*. But, nooo. I had to be..." He took a look at Bruce's face. He'd grown skilled in the past few months in reading the small signs of emotion Bruce let through. "Oh, no, no. It's just. I was in Gotham. I was so happy, in Gotham, with you. It's just." He touched Bruce's shoulder. "I feel like I betrayed my city."
"You love this city." There was even less emotion in Bruce's statement than in his face.
"Not the way you feel about Gotham. Hell, not the way I feel about you, but, yeah. I didn't know I was a New Yorker until I moved here. And I let it be attacked."
"Kyle. No one knew which planes were going to be crashed. They deviated only seconds beforehand." Bruce's face twitched, almost as if he'd smiled. "I spent a long time sitting on the George Washington Bridge playing with scenarios. Even if Clark were in New York, he couldn't have done anything for any of the planes. Even the one in Pennsylvania. And you did save lives."
He'd streaked out of Bruce's arms and bed when he'd heard about the crash from J'onn, and got to Manhattan in time to see the second plane hit. Jade showed up then, and Sentinel - his exgirlfriend and her father, and the three Green Lanterns managed to get everyone off the upper floors of the Towers before they collapsed. All around him, superheroes flew into the building or around it, trying to stabilize it, to rescue as many people as possible. Even a few supervillains, boiling mad at whoever would attack their country, joined in, applying their own cold or heat or strength to help.
"I know. But there were so many others." He squeezed Bruce's hand. "After we evacuated the top floors, after the buildings collapsed, we had to...we had a choice. We couldn't save the top floors and the buildings. And there were people in them. We tried. Diana and Donna kept flying in and out. But it wasn't enough. I spent. I spent the rest of the day helping to pull survivors out. And to rescue rescue workers. And." He bit his lips.
He shrugged Bruce off and started pacing. "Those guys were heroes. They ran into danger, and they didn't have powers or toys or *anything* to protect them. The people on that plane in Pennsylvania. None of them had metapowers. They were just. Heroes. And I call myself a superhero, but those men. Those women. God, Bruce. All I am is a cartoonist with a ring on my finger."
"You saved *lives* today. I told you. I was sitting on the GWB for hours. I ran scenarios. I ran several for worlds without metas. The buildings collapsed with the people in the top floors. In one, people jumped. From 100 stories up." Bruce stood behind him, stilled him. Wrapped his arms around him.
"I know. But that's what I do. And I didn't get a scratch. My ring. Doesn't let me get hurt. There were... I pulled out some metas, too. Not every meta is invulnerable. God, Bruce. You're not a meta. You run into deadly danger every night with nothing but your training and your brains. How?" Kyle turned around and wrapped his arms around Bruce. "How can you stand to touch me? I feel like a coward."
Bruce held him closer. Bruce was comforting him. It felt damned awkward, but that's what he was doing. "You? Green Lantern?"
"I know, I know. All the Green Lanterns. Picked because they don't have fear. But I *wasn't*. I was just a guy who happened to be in the wrong alley at the right time."
"And yet you became Green Lantern, with no help, no guidance. Nothing. And. I've seen you without your ring. And you still ran into danger."
"I was scared to death all those times."
"Good." Bruce almost smiled again. "Because I used to watch Hal and Guy take stupid chances. You wouldn't. And I'm glad. Because now I have you."
"Oh, God." And all of it came out. All the fear and the anger and the despair and the grief. Kyle buried his head on Bruce's silk shirt and sobbed while Bruce traced awkward circles on his back. Eventually, he stopped crying and started hiccupping.
"Feeling better?" Bruce fished in his jeans' pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. Kyle took it and blew.
"Yeah. Oh, God. This is monogrammed." He looked at the expensive piece of cloth.
Bruce shrugged. "So?" He looked at Kyle. "You're shivering. Have you eaten?"
Kyle had to think. "They passed out sandwiches a few hours ago. I snagged one, and shared it with...with someone else." With Jen, his exgirlfriend. He wondered if she knew about him and Bruce. The League knew; Batman's household knew. Did anyone else, like Nightwing? God, Nightwing was what? His stepson? He was a couple months younger than Grayson, too. He sat down on the couch, dizzy.
"You need food, then. Luckily I came prepared. Um. Want to take a shower while I cook?" Bruce stood, looking at him.
"You? Cook?" Kyle had to grin. "Shower sounds like a good idea." He could wash off some of the dust.
Was that a ghost of a grin? "All right, I'll heat up the food Alfred made for us, according to his precise instructions. If you need any help..." Bruce practically ran into the kitchen.
The shower felt nice. It didn't wash away his memories, but it made a difference. He dried himself off with a real towel and found an old t-shirt and a pair of sweats. He could smell good things from the kitchen.
"Dinner almost ready?" He walked in to find the table neatly set, with bowls of food steaming upon it.
"Just waiting for you." There was that ghost of a smile again. They didn't talk much. Kyle just shoveled in the food, and then helped Bruce toss out the paper plates.
They walked back to the living room. Kyle took deep breath and forced out the words he'd been rehearsing all night. "You want me to take you back to Gotham now? It's about time for your patrol." There. Nicely nonchalant.
"I'm not going back tonight. I...." Bruce swallowed. "I would like to spend the night here. With you."
Oh, yes! "Bruce. What about your city?" Idiot, he wants to stay.
"As I was told this morning by my butler and my bodyguard, Gotham will be fine tonight. The girls and Robin will patrol, Oracle will keep an eye on things. And most of the crooks are watching television and swearing vengeance against who ever did this. Except for the Joker, who is probably jealous, but he's in Arkham right now. And. You need me."
Kyle looked at Bruce's eyes. They were hopeful. "I do." He couldn't speak above a whisper.
And Bruce smiled, and there was something good on that day. "Then I'm here." He gathered Kyle into his arms and then began to kiss him. Kyle melted into him, letting Bruce's mouth and body ease the pain of the day into bearable levels, letting Bruce lead him into his bedroom, where he undressed them both clumsily before taking Kyle into bed and holding him still tighter.
Bruce was hard. So was Kyle now. He didn't expect that. He expected a night of cuddling and nightmares. He was tired and Bruce was...Bruce and Bruce was still having difficulties. Except tonight it didn't matter.
"I have supplies." Bruce bent over the bed and picked up his jeans. There was a tube and a couple of condoms. "I wasn't sure if you'd have any."
Kyle didn't. He'd only ever slept with Bruce in Gotham. No point in having stuff in NY. He took them and held them for a moment. Then he decided. He gave them back to Bruce, and kissed him. Bruce stared at the material in his hands.
"Are you sure? I've never...We've never..."
Kyle smiled and pressed them into Bruce's palm. "Make love to me, Bruce."
Bruce was not very good. He was tentative at first, using too much lube and not enough finger, but Kyle urged him deeper and rougher, and then he was too rough for a little, and he lost his erection once, but playing with Kyle brought it back, and eventually, Kyle on his side and coaching, Bruce made it inside. And for a few minutes, it was heaven. Bruce found a good rhythm all on his own, and reached around to pleasure Kyle in a way he knew very well, and it was wonderful.
But Bruce couldn't last, not this first time, and Kyle understood when he heard the gasps behind him and it didn't matter, even as Bruce's hand stroked him to completion, as Bruce murmured apologies to the back of his neck. It was still good, and still what he wanted, and he curled up and managed to forget the horrors of the day in Bruce's strong arms.
Bruce was still there when he woke up the next morning, watching him sleep in the brilliant September sunlight. Kyle cooked them breakfast, Bruce set the table again and even made a decent pot of coffee.
"I wish we could do this again." Kyle poured himself a second cup and added the cream that Alfred had sent along with dinner.
"We can." Bruce finished the last of his toast. "Why can't we?"
Kyle stared. "Because this morning it's probably okay. This *week* it's probably okay, but you'll have to go back home tonight. Eventually, someone will write a story about Bruce Wayne and his...his boytoy."
Bruce didn't change his expression at all. "They probably will. Will this be a problem for you?"
"Won't it be a problem for you? I mean, what will it do to Bruce Wayne's image?" Yeah, Terry would be pissed because Kyle had lied, and some of his friends would tease him, but Kyle would be fine.
Bruce shrugged. "Probably improve it."
"And. The Bat?" Kyle sipped his coffee.
"He's not in this discussion." Bruce began clearing the table.
"Of course he is. Kyle Rayner going out with Bruce Wayne. Green Lantern going out with Batman - and I don't know why I even bother wearing a mask, given that everyone calls me Kyle anyway. Most people will put it together. Bruce, it's too risky for you. I could survive being. Outed. You can't."
He sat down. "I've thought about it. The only people who know we're a couple already know I'm Batman, and they're very good at keeping secrets. Even Dick doesn't know. Does Alan?"
Kyle shook his head. Alan Scott was the elder statesman among past and current Green Lanterns, and Kyle had dated his daughter for some months. He was the closest thing he had to a father or a mentor as a superhero. But it wasn't his business. "Dick doesn't know?"
"I've. Put off telling him." Bruce wouldn't look at him.
"You coward." Kyle had to smile. And then he kissed Bruce hard.