Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.
Spoilers/Timeline: Vague ones for various older storylines.
Takes place in the early days of YJ.
Summary: Lie back and think of the earth.
Ratings Note: Sexual content which dovetails neatly with
the content some readers may find disturbing. Also
content some readers may find to be Tim/Kon.
Author's Note: Everyone's fault but mine. Jack gave me the
original terrifying bunny, and, upon sharing it with Betty
and Zee, it proceeded to *mutate*.
Acknowledgments: To Betty, Zee, and Jam for audiencing,
encouragement, and very many helpful suggestions. Betty's
also responsible for a few lines.
"I've seen how you watch me," Clark says, and the smile
on his face is...
Well, in a way, it makes it quite a bit easier for Tim to
appropriately -- at least somewhat, he hopes -- to the actual
words Clark had just said. Certainly, swallowing once
shouldn't be too... untoward. Considering.
"And how is that...? Precisely." Please, do be as precise as
you possibly can.
In response, Clark closes the -- already not especially great
distance between them and cups Tim's cheek with one
broad, unnaturally warm palm.
As ever, it takes a moment to remind his senses that it
isn't -- precisely -- wrong that Clark's skin is so spectacularly
(again, considering) smooth and unblemished.
"Tim," Clark says again, but this time he manages to turn
Tim's name into an entire paragraph chock full of gentle
chiding and... less gentle innuendo.
"Clark," he says, and it's something of a reflex to put the
full weight of his Robin-voice into it. This isn't the first
time he's been in a situation with someone both much
larger and more amorous than he. It isn't even the fifth.
It isn't even the fifth this *week*, because Poison Ivy had
broken out again on Monday, and that sort of thing always --
And it's just that it's the first time that the reflex may
well prove to be the incorrect one.
Clark is frowning now -- a little.
("You won't have to work very *hard* to gain the target's
trust, Robin. You may, however, find it a challenge to keep
it.") Tim bites his lip, enjoying/loathing the doubling in his
mind -- it's both the reaction that feels most natural *and*
the one which is probably most appropriate to this
moment. Working undercover --
The smile is back -- in Clark's eyes *and* on his face. "Ah.
Definitely the most appropriate response. As these things
"There's no rush, Tim. Please tell me you understand that."
"I... I do."
Working undercover never fails to be... illuminating.
On a number of levels.
"You've told me in four different ways -- with four distinctly
different phrasings -- that the mission needs to be aborted,
Tim. What you've failed to tell me is why."
Which is... true. It's just that he's reasonably sure that he
can't possibly be *blamed* for hoping that this time, this
*once*, Bruce would let him off easy. Except for how he
"He --" Tim squares his shoulders, takes a breath, and
stares bravely at a space just beyond Bruce's left shoulder.
"The target has come to believe that -- that I've been
attempting to seduce him."
To Bruce's credit, there is, in fact, a noticeable hesitation
before he says, "Sexually."
"I need. A little more than that, Batman."
Tim loses -- a little -- control of his facial expression for
moment. He hadn't realized that it could be painful to open
one's eyes very wide, very quickly. Lessons learned. The
pain is enough to allow him to control his voice, though.
"Yes. Yes, I do."
"Fine," Bruce says, and it only takes a moment for Bruce to
shift just *enough* for Tim to be absolutely sure that it's
really Batman. "The mission's parameters may -- *may* --
have changed, but the reasons for the mission have not."
He knows. "I --"
"The most powerful creature on the planet -- in the *solar*
system -- has been observed behaving in a manner which
suggests emotional distress of some sort. We do not know
why this is happening now. We do not know if it's a sign of
some larger disaster."
Tim stares at the floor.
"We *do* know that should something happen to cause the
creature to lose control -- to *wish* to lose control -- the
effects could be akin to a nuclear holocaust. And we know
that this? Is unacceptable."
"Now. Do you have a *reason* why you won't be able to
continue your mission of directed surveillance?"
Tim... Tim doesn't bite his lip. "Perhaps you might. Offer
suggestions as to how I might steer future conversations
to less... fraught... areas."
It's less of a laugh than a wordless expression of disbelief,
and Tim looks up -- right in time to see the purely honest
*smile* in Bruce's eyes.
"You've thus far proven more adept at deflecting the...
attentions of your various *suitors* than anyone else in
*my* inner circle, Tim. I would recommend that you trust
And, if necessary, lie back and think of the earth...?
It's not worth saying aloud.
Really, he should count his blessings.
Or maybe the better phrase for it would be that he should
treasure the... specific advantages at his disposal.
He's Robin, which, to the vast majority of the world, means
that he's quite often the most trustworthy 'adult' in any
given room. He has *access* that others simply don't, *to*
others that the vast majority of the world doesn't.
Even when considered against other vigilantes and
superheroes, he's quite sure that it's likely that he *still*
would've been the one chosen for this particular assignment.
Especially if those -- hypothetical, of course, because
*only* Batman would be giving this sort of mission *out* --
other capes had as much background information on
Nightwing as what's at both his disposal and Bruce's.
Nightwing is -- and has nearly always been -- far too close
to the subject for any reasonable expectation of objectivity.
He may be Robin, but he *is*, also, fourteen years old. The
rules of access and identity -- and certain blindingly
obvious physical realities -- mean that Superman knows
this very well.
They sit together on Clark's (red) couch, eat (vegetarian)
pizza, watch (foreign -- German, because, once, Tim had
mentioned a wish to improve his grasp of the language)
movies, and, after a few hours, Clark takes his hand in
"Is this all right, Tim?"
It's warm, and smooth, and dry, and --
"I would never -- you'd let me know if you felt pressured,
in any way?"
Tim is fourteen years old, and a virgin. Tim is watching his
fingers slip between Clark's own. Tim is...
There is no Tim Drake who would find it especially
inappropriate -- or even ill-timed, considering -- to hold
hands with Superman. Certainly not... this one. Tim smiles
Clark smiles back. And squeezes.
If anyone had ever asked -- if he knew anyone who
*would*, other than Stephanie Brown, and he's reasonably
she's not supposed to count -- if he thought he'd find the
Young Justice headquarters to be a good place to think
when they first began...
Well, he probably wouldn't have laughed *aloud*. Still,
there would've been some measure of amusement.
And yet, even with Bart playing catch with himself in what
appears to be an angle-perfect trapezoid with Tim at its
In all honesty, there's a certain predictability to it, even
beyond Bart's own quite impressive speed and dexterity.
It's... soothing, in a way.
And Tim has come to treasure *every* opportunity for
that sort of thing. A chance to put his thoughts in order.
Well, really, even Bruce has acknowledged that Tim's
detection abilities are far above the average. It's something
he has -- for long years, and for good reason -- had
His mission may be more about observation and experiment
than about inference and conclusion, but...
Well, he *has* a great deal of information, doesn't he?
Really, there simply *aren't* too many reasons why a man --
or a reasonable simulacrum of same -- in his thirties
would choose, with nothing resembling hesitation (much
less dutifulness), to spend the vast majority of a weekend
with one *particular* person.
When one considers other facts in evidence -- Lois Lane on
long-term assignment in crumbling post-Soviet Europe,
Jimmy Olsen's apparently serious relationship with a young
woman currently attending Metropolis University, Pete
Ross' meteoric rise in political power in Washington...
Is it so much to assume -- no, *infer* -- that Clark had
simply been lonely when he began snapping at his fellow
Leaguers and damaging supervillains with a trifle more
verve than usual?
After all, Bruce's files are quite clear on both the fact that
Clark does *badly* when left on his own and that several
of the aforementioned Leaguers could be... difficult,
when considered socially.
Clark needs contact -- human contact, in particular.
This is neither new, nor a surprise.
Surely the mission is complete *enough*...?
"So is he meditating or what?"
At some point, Kon has joined them. He seems perilously
close to poking Tim in the scalp.
"I'm not sure. Aren't you supposed to not look like... *that*
when you're meditating?"
Bart waves a hand in front of his face.
"Well, I *think* so, but this is Rob we're talking about,
"And," Tim says, smiling mostly easily, "if I *had* been
meditating, the results would have been mixed at best."
He raises an eyebrow enough to tug the mask out of
Bart looks -- instantly, of course -- apologetic. "I --"
Kon snorts, rolls his eyes, *and* crosses his arms over his
chest. "And if you *were* meditating, you wouldn't be
doing it in the freaking common room. *Right*?"
Kon is, as ever, an entirely different story. Tim smiles a
little wider. "I move in mysterious ways...?"
"Good work, Robin," Bruce says, and it's possible that it's
the first deep breath Tim has taken since handing the man
the disc with his report.
"Establish your conclusions as definitively as possible,"
says, and saves the file -- in toto -- to his own files.
He remembers -- Tim distinctly remembers a time when
Bruce doing things like that filled him with something
uncomplicated, warm, secure --
"Was there anything else?"
"I was thinking..."
Bruce turns the chair until he's facing Tim.
Tim was *thinking* he could be taken *off* this assignment,
or at least be able to hand a somewhat -- radically --
modified version of it off to Dick, Clark's *friend*.
Bruce raises an eyebrow.
Tim doesn't bite his lip. "There's nothing. No."
And he's reasonably sure that the amusement in Bruce's
eyes is *supposed* to be reassuring.
In a way. Really, they've developed something like a
*rhythm*, and --
"I -- *we* -- have no reason to doubt your conclusions,
Tim," and Bruce's voice is actually a little...
It's actually almost *gentle*. Tim -- Tim doesn't swallow.
"I... it's the Wonder Woman incident. Isn't it?"
Bruce nods, slowly. "Superman finding reason to upbraid
Green Lantern -- or even the Flash -- is one thing."
Wonder Woman... is something else entirely. Of course.
"Of course," Tim says, and turns for the stairs.
"You're doing well."
"Thank you, Batman."
Oracle alerts him of Kon's presence in Gotham and of
So does Batman. Twice.
He finds a comfortable-enough spot on the dust and
leaf-choked roof of what used to be, by all reports, an
excellent planetarium, and waits for Kon to find him.
He'd like to point out to -- someone -- that assuming Kon
is here for him is precisely the sort of premature inference
that *he's* not supposed to make, but then, there are a
lot of things he'd like.
Sometimes Leslie's attitudes can be a bit difficult to take,
but Tim has always had something of an amused fondness
for one of her favorite sayings:
You're old enough for your wants not to hurt you.
He smiles to himself, and Kon is a splash of over-bright
color on the horizon, and, soon after that, simply himself.
"There you are. Man, you'd think the yellow on that cape
of yours would make you *easy* to find, at least in freaking
"It's a reasonable assumption," Tim says, standing and
folding his arms beneath the cape. "What -- is there
something I can do for you?"
For a moment, Kon almost looks a little shocked, and it
takes a moment to remember -- to remind himself -- that
he'd only responded in the way he was supposed to.
He's almost sure that's going to start... meaning what it
*should* in terms of his team any day now.
And it only takes another second or two for Kon to shake
his head and snort -- derisively. "Man, you're really a piece
of freaking *work*, sometimes."
Sometimes, when he has time free to woolgather, he tries
to come up with something resembling a coherent
philosophy about the educational theories of Kon's
creators. Why 'a piece of work?' Specifically?
"Let me guess -- it's bad freaking *form* to show up to
check on your team-mate, according to the Big Book of
Tim blinks behind the mask. "Check up...?"
"Right, forget it. You just decided to bail early the past two
weekends, but that's fine, because --"
"Kon, I -- I had -- work. I thought... I assumed YJ would,
Kon scowls a little -- more -- but it's somewhat less
serious. "Yeah, we all *figured*, because you're *you*,
but you could've said something, man."
Tim nods. "Was I... is everything all right?" Oracle would've
said something if she'd picked up anything, of course,
"Oh, so *now* you're asking?"
But he's supposed to ask. "Kon, I -- I apologize. You're
right, I should've mentioned that I was... on an additional
assignment. I'm sorry."
And he's close -- very, even -- to thinking that he's found
the right note, but for some reason Kon looks
Pissed-off is better in a lot of ways. There's something...
Kon has a way of making his discomfort felt, in several
different irrational ways.
"No, I... Jeez, man, we *know* that you're freaking
*always* doing your thing, it's just that we were, you
know." Kon shrugs and stares -- glares, perhaps -- at the
street below. "Anyway, everything's cool with the team,
and everything's cool with you, so..."
So why does he have to be something *separate* from
the team? No, he knows why. He frowns at the roof.
"So, are you, like, done?"
Kon snorts and looks as though he's considering punching
Tim in the shoulder. He doesn't, though. "With your
mysterious Other Assignment, Wonder Boy. Jeez."
Oh. He should be. He really, really... "Not... yet."
Kon rolls his eyes. "Right. Are you gonna come hang at all
this weekend, or...?"
"Sure," Kon says. "Anyway, I should --"
Kon pauses, hovering what may be exactly three feet above
the roof. He has a certain perfect instinct for that sort of
"I... thank you. For checking up."
And Tim thinks that still must be the wrong thing, because
the expression on Kon's face looks almost...
Pained? Confused? Both of those, and maybe other things,
too, and he just -- it's so much easier to be *alone*, and
he doesn't --
And then Kon smiles at him, and the word 'smile' is just as
inadequate as all his other guesses at Kon's emotional
state, and that's...
Tim smiles back, and watches Kon fly.
Batman apprises him when Kon has made it out of the city
The lunch... calling it an 'appointment' would really be
painfully, shamefully euphemistic, and Tim has to start
over a little, in his head.
Going on a lunch date with Superman is, by necessity,
*going* to be somewhat different than going on a lunch
date with pretty much anyone else. This is a statement
Tim is more than comfortable with making within the
privacy of his own mind, despite his lack of practical
Granted, they're only in a diner, but Clark had picked him
up from one of the more private glades in Grant Park three
minutes ago, and the diner they're in is on the outskirts of
The food smells quite good.
He's trying very hard to focus on those smells rather than
on the fact that the diner is all but *wallpapered* with --
signed -- photos of more vigilantes and superheroes than
even Tim has files on, and thus he's reasonably sure that it
would've been better if he'd been suited *up* when Clark
picked him up.
Because the look on the counterman's face is pretty much
*all* about trying to place the teenaged boy Tim Drake
had thought he was supposed to be this afternoon in a
mask, and that's...
Well, that's *stressful*.
"You're... what's wrong, T -- oh. Oh, dear."
To Clark's credit, the problem has clearly become obvious
to him. "I..."
"I'm so sorry," he whispers, leaning in and bathing Tim in
a quick wave of heat and chagrin. "It's just... I was able to
bring Dick here once, and I..." Clark blushes. "I wasn't
thinking. I... I can only assure you that the proprietors are
*very* discreet, and --"
"And the sandwiches are excellent...?"
Clark has the remarkable ability to laugh entirely naturally
while also blushing. Or...
It seems remarkable. Tim thinks it must --
"As a matter of fact..." The hand covering his own has
gained its own breed of familiarity. It's own... normalcy.
"I don't suppose Dick *mentioned*... this place?"
Tim isn't at all sure about his own ability to smile and blush
simultaneously, but the brush of Clark's fingers over his
knuckles seems... encouraging enough.
"A-ha," Clark says, in a teasingly obvious variation of what
Tim has come to think of as his 'Clark Kent' voice. "The
"Well, I... Dick didn't precisely mention... this *place*. In
so many words."
And Clark's smile... Tim *knows* the smile isn't -- *can't*
be -- for him. It's just that convincing his actual senses of
this fact is a little difficult.
"I was... able to... infer," Tim says, and wonders if it's
possible to sustain serious injury from blushing.
Clark doesn't seem worried, though. "Should I be
Tim blinks, knowing it's obvious, knowing it's *correct*.
"Well. I seem to be having a sort of... theme," Clark says,
and raises an eyebrow which manages to be both rueful
A very particular sort of invitation, to be sure, but.... but.
Tim lets himself wet his bottom lip with his tongue, and
look away from Clark's eyes. "I imagine," he says, as
quietly and calmly as he can, "that anyone who truly
knows you wouldn't be... terribly shocked."
"Is that so?"
Certainly, *Bruce* wouldn't be. "I..."
"Would you know me, Tim? Truly?"
And -- there *is* a tease, there. The continuation of *the*
tease, even. It's just that.
It's just that there's nowhere near *enough* of one, as near
as Tim can tell given the last couple of weeks. Clark isn't...
Tim isn't sure Clark is talking about sex at all, anymore.
Which is... he isn't sure what it is, beyond something Bruce
would have him exploit for all it's worth.
"Yes," he says, to the smiling anthromorphic corned beef
sandwich on his placemat.
"Yes," he says, again, looking back up into Clark's eyes and
The first kiss is, surprisingly, also the last kiss for the
Clark pushes him *away* when he leans in again, and
It's intriguing, really. It's a smile that seems as though it
*wants* to be merely ruefully gentle, but doesn't -- quite --
"Slowly, please, Tim."
"I -- all right." That's... that's good. That -- why is he
*kissing* the man? How --
"For my sake, if I'm being... truly honest."
It's entirely correct for the confusion -- all of it -- to be
Tim's face, right now.
It's just that it doesn't do any *good* if Clark won't look
"I... would you like me to... should I go?"
Clark's hand on his face is... Clark's hand, and for a
moment -- long enough? -- Tim isn't sure which role he's
playing when he lets his eyes close almost all the way.
"That... you have this wonderful habit of asking the very
best questions possible, Tim. Have you ever considered a
career in investigative reporting?"
It's probably less than a good sign that he's beginning to
*only* love the doubling in his mind. Right now, it feels
more like being, well, *singular* to smile the way he
wants to. The way he should. "It might be a better
question to ask if I'd ever considered a *career*, Clark."
"I'm not so sure about that," Clark says, softening the
Is it really 'softening' to have Clark's hand in his hair?
"I rented a film last night. Would you stay and watch with
"Yes," Tim says, and pauses internally, and slips his hand
into Clark's own.
"Hey, you made it!" Kon's smile is broad and welcoming
and entirely un-self-conscious.
It's a little like what he imagines diving into freezing water
without an insulated uniform -- must be like, and then it
isn't, because whatever's on his face makes Kon shift his
expression with the sort of speed which would be funny,
Maybe it should still be funny. He doesn't know.
"Uh. I mean. I wasn't -- we weren't expecting you. You
know. Your..." Kon isn't really looking *at* him, anymore.
Kon nods. "So is it... you're all done?"
"I... it isn't my call. To make."
Kon snorts -- at the incredibly thoroughly abused carpeting --
and shakes his head. "That's gotta be... I can't even imagine
having someone controlling every damned minute of my
*life*, Rob. How the hell do you even --"
"It's not. Every minute."
And Kon's looking at him, which is -- it feels like it's an
improvement, even though his expression is full of curiosity
Tim can't possibly satisfy.
Life's little paradoxes. "I... it's not every minute," he
again, and he wonders if there are points awarded for
merely sounding lame, as opposed to cryptic.
Kon's expression doesn't offer any clues whatsoever.
Sparring with Arrowette is really one the best things about
being a part of Young Justice.
Her fighting style is actually quite similar to his own --
somewhat less extensive -- which means that it's a very
comfortable-seeming amalgam of everything she knows,
and everything she knows will *work*.
There's also something just... pleasant about sparring with
someone who he doesn't actually *need* to teach (or be
taught by), because Arrowette really is *that* good with
He considers, not for the first time, getting Dick to
introduce her to Arsenal -- Oliver Queen's death would
surely make that less fraught than it would've otherwise
*had* to have been, wouldn't it?
Or -- perhaps it wouldn't. Perhaps... he doesn't know Roy
Harper, and he doesn't know enough *about* him to be
sure that he wouldn't simply find Arrowette's -- Cissie's --
existence a painful sort of reminder --
And he'd barely managed to dodge that kick.
"Your flexibility is impressive," he says, meaning it entirely.
Arrowette grins at him, and pushes her hair back behind
her ears. He knows that one, he thinks -- she's pleased
Arrowette is one of the few people he's met who has near
Oracle-levels of control over her actual facial expressions.
And when he raises an eyebrow behind his mask, the smile
on her face gains a sharp sort of ruefulness.
He hopes -- and he has reason to believe -- that this
means they know each other very well.
He gives her a come-on gesture.
The way Kon says it, it seems to have several extra o's. Tim
raises an eyebrow. "Yes, Kon?"
"You and Cissie?"
It's entirely confusing for a moment, but only that. Kon's
attraction to Cissie had been both obvious and immediate.
Tim smiles. "If she ever had to give up the bow, she could
be a very talented martial artist."
"Yeah, no *shit*. Man, the two of you today...." Kon shakes
Tim... considers. "You were watching?" What did *you*
see? He can't ask that question.
"I... uh." Kon's blush is thorough and rapid, starting at his
hairline and continuing on until it disappears under the
collar of his jacket. "Just, you know, for a while."
Tim nods. He likes to watch others spar, when he can.
"So I... I'm not prying or anything, man, I just... are the
two of you..."
Kon's gesture... Tim supposes it was his *turn* to blush.
"I... no. We're not. I'd like to be her friend."
It manages to be a relief and... pretty much anything *but*
when Kon looks at him again. This time, his expression is
pure, locker-room skepticism.
"I have..." Does he really *have* Ariana anymore? "I'm
not -- we don't --"
Kon's eyebrows go even higher.
"That is to say -- I. Kon. Er."
Somehow, Kon's eyebrows go higher *still*, which is really
kind of ridiculous -- and that's what it is. Ridiculous. Tim
crosses his arms over his chest and scowls.
"Oh, man, you were totally *stuttering*!"
Tim glares. A little.
Kon sobers impressively quickly... and then grins at him
And punches his shoulder.
He's in the middle of doing a credible job of torturing
himself into something like a meditative state on the bars
when Bruce announces his presence by...
Well, Tim is reasonably sure that most people *can't* really
announce their presence simply by shifting the definition
of 'silent' with the force of their grim looming, but, well,
Bruce is basically the apotheosis of 'not most people.'
Tim shifts from free-form into one of the briefer routines,
dismounts, and waits.
For a moment -- a long one -- Bruce seems to content to
wait for *him*, but he frowns just in time to keep the
silence from becoming actively painful.
"I was expecting your latest report, Robin."
Ah. "It's incomplete."
Bruce raises an eyebrow at him.
"There are -- you were correct, I believe, when you
intimated that... that I was probably missing other factors.
In terms of the target."
It actually is a question. "I don't... I don't currently have
theories I feel comfortable sharing."
"Robin, your assignment was *observation*."
Which... ah. That would... also explain it. "I can... I can
offer observations," he says.
The smile in Bruce's eyes is so perfectly rueful it's almost
"I... should I?"
"You feel your report would be incomplete without the
"Well... yes, Bruce. Batman. I mean --"
Bruce raises a hand.
Tim raises an eyebrow.
"Keep me posted."
The thing is, he'd been expecting Clark to call -- in one
way or another.
The fact that he hasn't...
Well, certainly there was a lot *he* wasn't altogether sure
of in terms of their last date. Or... a lot he shouldn't be
sure of. That some part of him... that...
And in any event, it was a mistake to get into the habit of
expecting one's surveillance targets to do all the work.
The receptionist at the Planet puts him through to Clark's
desk without so much as asking for Alvin Draper's...
anything, but Metropolis truly is --
"Alvin...? To what do I owe the pleasure...?"
-- different. And the smile in Clark's voice is palpable. "A
habit of circumspection," Tim says, and hopes the rueful
apology in *his* voice is at least a fraction as noticeable.
"That seems... the word 'euphemistic' seems, well,
Tim dislikes phone conversations. It seems as though the
smile on his face right now ought to be more than whatever
brand of audible he can manage. "Well... I. I just wanted
you to know that I was free. This evening."
Clark... takes a breath. "Are you..."
And the pause is... Tim isn't sure what it is, really. And
There are a lot of reasons -- good reasons -- for that to be
problematic. And it seems nearly criminal that Clark can't
actually see him biting his lip, though undoubtedly the
man's senses --
"I will be. Free, I mean. I... Tim."
"As soon as I can," Clark says, and his voice, this time...
is precisely correct.
For some definitions of --
He isn't sure.
"I -- all right."
He isn't sure.
The kiss is --
It seems like a lie to think about the kiss as more than how
he'd experienced it, and there have been --
There are times when it seems as though the number of
lies in his life will bury him. Certainly, there are nightmares,
and it's not like he hadn't had them -- many -- when he'd
been living with Bruce and Alfred. It's just that there are
more of them now that he's in his father's house again.
Not that he is, but --
He suspects they -- he and Clark -- are hundreds of miles
away from his father's house before Clark kisses him
again, and this time it's something --
There's the powerful pull of the wind everywhere Clark's
cape -- and Clark's body -- isn't protecting him, and
there's the way he can't quite keep himself from opening
his mouth, from moaning when Clark moans *into* his
They're close enough -- and it's still light enough -- that
Tim can read Clark's lips forming his name, even though
the sound of it has been torn away from *his* hearing.
His heart is pounding and he doesn't know --
He can feel himself sweating, beneath his collar and
everything else, and he can't blame Clark's heat and he
doesn't know --
"Tell me again, Tim --"
He doesn't -- "Clark --"
"Would you know me?"
"Yes," he says, and the fact that he should mean it doesn't
mean anything against the fact that he *does* mean it, or
He doesn't know what he's doing, anymore.
He wakes up --
He wakes up when he realizes he's dreaming, and can't
immediately place the event within the sleep schedule
he'd given himself for the coming week. It's the sort of
thing which hasn't happened since early on his training,
and he can feel his heart rate increasing (again), and --
And then there's a warm, broad hand on his chest, and
it's not... it's not Bruce at all, because he's naked, and the
sheets are blue, and...
"Oh God," he says, before he can remotely think, but at
least he manages not to --
"Good morning, Tim."
-- wince. Much. He's... he's a lot less sore than he could be,
and he needs to *focus*. "I -- Clark, I..."
The kiss is, actually, something of a reprieve. It's even
gentle, which his mouth is assuring him is a good thing.
They hadn't even -- all they'd *done* with his mouth is
But it's Superman. Perhaps some part of him should find
this amusing. He'll consider it later.
For now, Clark is pulling away and smiling at him. It's --
a soft smile, and it's...
There are other words for it -- Tim's almost sure -- but it's.
It's a good smile, and it's all right for him to return it.
Or -- there's something like a shadow in Clark's eyes, all
of a sudden, and he would've thought for sure --
And it's gone again. All right. Then he just has to... go with
this. Right? He smiles a little wider. "Clark, I... I find myself
no longer very sure why I... was afraid."
And the smile on Clark's face becomes very -- sharp. Sexual?
Tim reaches out to touch it -- and has his hand caught.
"You know, Tim... Lois is very much looking forward to
Tim... the blink has to be all right, doesn't it? "I --"
"To *knowing* you," Clark says, and closes his hand around
Tim's own. "The way you know me."
"I -- I. Clark, I don't -- I don't think --"
He doesn't think a laugh is the way Clark should really be
responding to... well, to his response. Certainly --
probably? -- not that kind of laugh.
"Clark, what... what's... amusing?"
And for a moment, it's *only* the laugh, and Tim feels...
he's not sure how it's possible that he could feel cold,
considering -- everything, but he does.
But then the laugh stops, and there's only the look on
Clark's face. The... really very *focused* look on Clark's
It probably isn't remotely appropriate for him to have
pulled Robin on, but it's not --
"There you are," Clark says.
-- it's not really something he can help. He raises an
"So, we *could* discuss the possibilities of a threesome
with my wife. Or..."
The smile on Clark's face is sharp. The man's own raised
eyebrow is... less so. "*Or*... we could simply discuss
certain ethical lapses of a mutual... friend of ours."
Tim closes his eyes behind the mask he isn't wearing, just
for a moment. "Just *his*?"
"Well," Clark says, releasing Tim's hand, "you *were* 'only
following orders,' correct?"
An interesting, investigative reporter-worthy question,
really. He doesn't -- precisely -- have an answer. Still...
"And when did *you* know?"
Clark smiles at him again, gently knowing.
"That," he says, "would be telling."
A part of Tim's mind wants him to have this moment, to
*know* it, such as it is, and it's not really a part he has
any resistance to, even now: Clark is smiling. Clark's scent
isn't remotely human, given this much of a concentration
in the somewhat stale air. Clark is... Clark isn't angry, and
Tim isn't cold, anymore.
Not even when Clark finally rolls away, onto his side. "Will
you tell me why?"
Another part of his mind is viciously -- perhaps even
violently -- opposed to the very idea, and is completely
uncaring about the fact that there's really just no point
It's only a small part, though.
Tim rolls his head on his neck, and puts the hand Clark had
been holding in front of him. "One," he says, letting his
index finger straighten, "you have been -- *had* been --
behaving erratically. Two, you're the most powerful being
on the planet. Three... I have -- had -- a job to do."
Clark's smile doesn't slip in any even remotely noticeable
way. "And have you done it?"
"My report, as of mission-abort, is that you're no more of a
potential danger than you've ever been, save that your
capacity for deception is... something that shouldn't be
Clark hums a little, not quite under his breath, and his
attention shifts to the ceiling above them. "I've been
acting all my life," he says, quietly.
Ah. Of course. "I... understand --"
"Yes. You do."
"-- that. Now. Uh. Perhaps I should go."
Clark still isn't quite looking at him, but the smile on his
It's for him. He can't... he can't not know that.
"You don't have to, Tim."
A part of Tim's mind -- yet another -- believes quite
strenuously that Tim should find that statement deeply
confusing. Enough so that he actually has a moment of
wondering why he doesn't, and if, perhaps, the amount
of residual endorphins in his system from... everything
might not be having some sort of harmful effect.
It's not, actually, a small part.
It's just not the most *correct* part. "You're not... you
weren't lying very much. Were you?"
The ruefulness in *this* Clark-smile is familiar enough to
be almost vertiginous, considering. "What is it they say
about the best lies...?"
Tim imagines his own smile can't be very much better.
"Yes. I suppose so."
Abruptly, Clark sits up and then leaves the bed entirely,
turning the act of standing into a casual stretch that...
A part of Tim's mind is right back to, 'well, it's
and Tim can feel the smile on his face broaden.
"You *don't* have to go," Clark says, from over his
shoulder. "I really would like the opportunity to get to know
you through more than just the *particular* lies you choose
It really is an excellent way to get to know another person,
at least in terms of efficacy -- a question of the use of
negative space. And he would like the same. And there
weren't that many -- "Perhaps. Another time."
Clark's smile broadens, as well. "All right."
Tim gives Bruce a full five minutes after handing him his
report disc -- plus the additional two he would need to
read and re-read it -- to say something, and then he nods
to himself and heads for the free-weights. He doesn't get
nearly enough time with them, these days.
He makes it through two and a half sets on the bench
before Bruce clears his throat.
He nearly through the last one and half before Bruce
"You might consider thinking of your mission as one with
somewhat different parameters than those you were given."
Interesting. "Perhaps a question of 'contain and repair'
rather than 'observe and evaluate?'"
"Some would say you could replace 'rather than' with 'and.'"
"*Some* would have far too generous a view of my initial
"Initial evaluations, Robin, are there to be revised."
And there's -- calling it a 'part' of him is both accurate and
ultimately awful, ultimately *wrong*. He knows Bruce,
better every day. The reasonable *deduction*, based on
everything that's come before in terms of the two of
them, and Clark, and Clark's relationship with Dick, and
Bruce's assumptions about the differences between Dick
and *himself* --
Bruce is apologizing, and that would be... horrifying enough,
without the manner he's choosing. Without Bruce's
attempts to *soften* this rather spectacular failure. Never
*mind* that it's the manner Bruce knows, never *mind*
"You *will* do better next time."
Tim blinks, despite himself. That's... that's better. That...
was an order. "Yes," he says, "I will."
To think, 'Kon looks at his watch' is something of an
To think, 'Kon makes a *show* of looking at his watch' is
something of an understatement.
A *statement* would be more along the lines of, 'Kon turns
the act of looking at a wristwatch into something nearly
Wagnerian in scope and melodrama.'
"Dude," he says, adding several extra u's.
"You, my Wonder Boy Wondering friend, totally made it
through a whole weekend with the team."
Ah, Tim thinks, and smiles at a dent in the wall shaped like
Cassie's skull. She'd been playing tag with Cissie, earlier.
"So I did."
Kon grins at him and makes a reasonable attempt to hit Tim
in the head with a balled-up piece of paper.
"So does this mean Mystery Assignment is over?"
I had sex with your progenitor for, ultimately, no practical
reason at all. I.
I had *sex*, and it was -- there was --
Tim pulls the smile back onto his face, and into something
like a rueful configuration.
Kon snorts and rolls his eyes. "Right. Can't talk about it.
"Sorry," Tim says, and considers throwing the paper back
at Kon. It might not be inappropriate.
Kon waves a hand at him as he flies for the door. "One day,
dude, we're gonna know all your secrets *anyway*, and
I'm just saying -- if you're not hella interesting, I'm gonna
"Noted," Tim says, and watches Kon fly away.
.The home of silence and heat.