And throwing it away, and making more [Title reference]
by Te
September 29,2006

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers: Vague and/or AU-ized references for storylines
up through "Under the Hood."

Summary: "I think I'm going to need you to talk about

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which does and
does not dovetail neatly with content some readers may
find to be Kryptonian. Also contains content some readers
may find to be Tim/Kon.

Author's Note: Eighth in the Three red words series. Kicks
off not long after #4, weaves in and out of the others. Will
not make sense without the rest.

Acknowledgments: Much desperate love to Petra, Betty,
Jack, Mildred, Zee, and Katarik, all of whom helped
immensely with various parts of this story. It wouldn't just
suck without them -- it would never have been *finished*.
All remaining flaws are all mine.


It's completely irrational to believe he can taste anything but
the Zesti-Ade and energy bar he'd consumed on his last
break. If there was anything else, it would be the coffee
he'd had *before* patrol. It's --

It wasn't even that *hard* a kiss, for all that it felt more like
the man -- like Bruce was trying to *brand* him with...
whatever the hell had been on his mind. No.

No, he knows. He's known --

When he was *sixteen*, Tim had been able to tell himself
that it would all boil down to adrenaline. He'd needed --
they'd *both* needed that particular spar. It had seemed so
at the time, and it still does now. Despite the fact that, in
retrospect --

In retrospect, the *act* is not very much clearer to him
than it had been at the time. There had been anger, there
had been a need to *prove* something, there had been
a sense that that need should've seemed both old and
familiar, even though it had seemed like nothing of the kind.

They had been nowhere near the Case when Bruce had
pinned him that last time, and -- he remembers this
distinctly -- he had not thought Jason's name until Bruce
had moaned into his mouth.

There had been -- other things -- before that, and, by that
time, thinking of Jason had simply been another part of
what had let him not push Bruce away, not deny him with
any more than the vestiges of control he'd managed to

And then those vestiges had gone, and Tim had been left
with only the fact that he had not actually screamed
anyone's name at all once Bruce began fucking him for --
somewhat dubious -- comfort.

As first times go, it really might have been worse.

Where retrospect becomes more useful -- or at least less
distasteful -- is in the *after*. There had been no
ambiguities in his words or his tone. It wasn't what he
wanted from his relationship with Bruce. They wouldn't do
it again.

After *that*... it doesn't matter.

Of all the things Bruce had done on his little *visit*, the kiss
had probably been the most useful -- as far as the man's
own agenda.

The others had been picking at it like a scab, and while both
of them claimed to be willing to leave it at 'it didn't work the
first time,' the truth is...

The truth is that none of them would be who they are if it
wasn't for Bruce. Most of the time, this boils down to the
fact that none of them would be *here*, which is different
enough in meaning --

Connotations, yes. It will -- settle down. It *will* get back
to what's become normal for them, because they neither
have the choice for otherwise nor the option of *believing*
they have that choice.

Until then, it's enough that their two-and-one tonight had
let *him* be the one alone, and that there's less than no
reason for him to go straight home, now that his patrol is
done --

Bruce's mouth had tasted far too little of anything more
tangible than lingering hints of *Alfred's* coffee. Tim
frowns, stops, stands, and shudders at the way the wind
seems to *yank* on his cape. It's heavier than the one he'd
worn as Robin, more demanding of strength and a kind of
muscular sureness if he's to keep it moving *correctly*.

The longer he stands here, alone and obvious, the more of
a target he is.

«Kal-El. I would...» There are any number of ways to
finish the sentence, of course, even within his own -- still --
limited vocabulary, and even within the limits of what
would both be honest and something he wants to say
*right* now.

It's easier to avoid worrying about exactitude when Kal-El
is already here -- or he is already *there*.

«I would take rest in your presence, my companion.»

«And where would my presence suit you best?»

The voice is in his ear, but not the comm -- yet. A quick
glance reveals that they're no more than half a mile above
Bludhaven, and -- in truth, there's no way to be sure that
Kal had heard his first words, come closer, and then
*stopped*, waiting for Tim to speak again -- but...

The smile on Kal's face is all the proof he truly needs,
however ambiguous.

«Far. I -- plead.»

The smile becomes something rather more solemn
(Superman) in the moments before a cape is wrapped
around the entirety of his head.

He won't be smothered. The cape smells like -- what it
always does. Unbreathable sweetness, polluted by the
*breathable* air he's pulling through -- he's accustomed
enough to this to resist the urge to hyperventilate, and --

«You must -- there is no space between companions for
*beseech*», Kal says, through the comm, and flies.

Tim waits -- it's never very long -- until they've landed,
until the breath he takes is at that marvelously alien --
and perfect -- level of oxygenation.

It's never especially obvious just *how* polluted the air is
within and around the Bludhaven-Gotham-New York
corridor until he is here. Even --

Even Kansas had nothing on Kryptonian air filtering -- and



Tim smiles, and knows it's something of a tease, however
welcome, however -- allowed. There's a rightness to this
place which is almost horrifying, really. It's only a Fortress
in the sense that there are very few human weapons which
could even scar the thing -- on the outside.

It's a home, more than his own, for all that it's far less...

«Your thoughts would be welcome, Tim Drake.»

«It had only occurred to me, my companion --» The
epithet is, actually, one of the simpler ones to pronounce,
though there's really no telling whether it would be/had
been so for an actual Kryptonian. It... rolls off the tongue,
casual and faintly lacking in -- he's not sure. «'Orders'
also have no place between companions. Or have my
studies been lacking...?»

«'Orders,' Tim Drake? I'm not sure what you mean...»
And this -- the way Kal's motion makes Tim's cape snap,
since Kal's own is still in his hands -- is as ritualistic, as
*measured* as anything else. «Ah,» Kal says, just as
if the press of Kal's palms to Tim's own had imparted
some greater degree of knowledge. «My use of the
word 'must.' There are excuses for passion, Tim Drake,»
Kal says, and the tug on Tim's hands is merely -- suggestion.

«Certainly, my studies have suggested certain passions
remain wholly within the purview of companions. Not...
all,» and to take the suggestion is... something entirely
impossible to resist. There is a tease here, but rather more
of a puzzle.

«Nor even most, it is true.»

Kal's interpretation of the Socratic method has been...
fascinating. «And the passions there, my companion?»

«Tim Drake, does it seem I've transgressed?»

Ah. A -- very -- specific tease. «I am alien, Kal-El --»

The laugh is neither lessened nor intensified by the slide of
Kal's fingers between his own. The -- inevitable -- stretch.

«Your ways are beyond my grasp --»

«When the xenophobia of the monitor-servant is not?
That is a curiosity.»

It's somewhat -- derailing, in the sense of... there's much
about the whole of this relationship which makes Tim *feel*
the bird in his chosen name, and its attraction to... shiny
things. The Fortress AI doesn't -- wouldn't have had -- any
less (and perhaps would've had somewhat more) status than
a particularly useful indentured... servant. And 'xenophobia' --
the word Kal had used is recognizable enough, of course, but
there's something *about* the language, or the quality
thereof -- «I -- xenophobia? There is something not --
Kryptonian.» Or, perhaps, he simply means 'not *correct*.'

«It's a word reserved for aliens, of course. The fear is one
unworthy for -- the people. I assure you, Tim Drake, the
monitor-servant has already chastised me for using it.»
Kal's hands flex, and flex his own. «I would have you
continue. My ways...?»

«The act of grasp -- reach/strive -- I sully by my very --

Kal nods -- the word and structure were correct -- and pulls
his lower lip in just *so* (Clark) with his teeth. «You
shame your species with the attempt, of course.»

«Of course,» Tim says, and smiles. «And yet, when
you speak of transgression --»

«Oh. I do so speak.»

Tim bites the tip of his own tongue -- lightly -- and has to
look away from the *flare* in Kal's eyes. It's simply too
bright for comfort, sometimes. Though not too bright for
this *particular* game. «I find, my companion, the
concept to be -- alien.» There is no reason to look up,
at this point. Kal can see every nanometer of Tim's smile.

«Has your impoverished species no law,
bright-rising-one?» Flamebird, in its *most* formal and
archaic form. The only one Kal uses. «That is most

Just -- *impoverished*. He wonders at the brightness of his
own eyes. His expression -- can't possibly be anything but
the honest advertisement of his own increasingly desperate
need to laugh.

Kal lifts Tim's left hand to his mouth, and then the right.
There are no kisses, as there can *be* none save for those
to his mouth. The rest of his skin -- and Kal's own -- is
rather more dangerous.

It's possible he truly means 'rarefied.'

«Please, my companion. You -- should -- continue.»

Gentle correction. Of course. «While my species has some
meager -- ambition --» The word is difficult *and*
difficult to say. Perhaps predictably? « -- toward
civilization in terms of law, there is little which could...
encompass one...» Superman. Heh. «One so... high.»

The kiss is immediate, brief, breathy with Kal's laugh -- and
then breathless and far less brief. There are questions Tim
could ask about the quality of Kal's kisses. Their --
appropriateness. This is almost certainly not the time. Yet.
There is something faintly mineral in the taste of Kal's
mouth. Almost more of a scent than a taste --

Tim has grown accustomed to a certain degree of delirious
synesthesia as being part of the price and reward of a sexual
relationship with someone who, in terms of power, has far
more in common with any number of cultures' -- human
*and* Kryptonian -- conceptions of *god* than with himself.

Still, one does what one must --

And there's something almost soothing about the utter
wrong of hearing *Alfred's* voice in his head at this
moment. «Kal-El...»

«Please. *More*.»

«There is little more to... I am unsure. Your...
excitement --? You are distracting, my companion.»

«Companions live to please, and be pleasured by same.»

There's -- *something* there, both in Kal's words and tone,
and he can't touch it. He doesn't *know* it, though it
triggers something just beyond long-term memory. He
*knows* far more of this language than he can *use*, at the
moment. For a lot of reasons.

However, even though Kal has come to know his more
specifically linguistic moments of confusion, even though he
must know *now* that Tim would appreciate some
clarification ... he chooses not to teach, this time. Which is...
definitely *interesting*, if it turns out to be about more
than the... *kink* Tim had accurately predicted the man
would have for the sound of Kryptonian.

All of which -- along with the rather avid expression on Kal's
face -- suggests that Tim should just... continue. Well.
«There can be no transgression, with -- *from* -- you. In
my... estimation.»

«Has the monitor-servant mentioned some of the accepted
punishments for subversion...?»

In detail. Tim flexes his own fingers --

And gets kissed.

«I spoke only the truth -- however limited-flawed my
apprehension --»

«You are one who --»

The word Kal had used was 'playful,' but the construction
makes it -- he *thinks* the construction makes it into
something far closer to 'dangerous.' Which is -- the rules for
this are not, actually, the ones proscribed by Kryptonian law.
While there are words and phrases companions may not
use with each other, there are no prohibitions on *language*.

Certainly, there were any number of Second Age plays and
poems (and the word 'poem' was somewhat inadequate,
while 'epic' was entirely inaccurate) which, well, *played*
with the idea of young, reckless companions who used the
freedoms inherent in other languages, other *dialects* of
other languages --

He does not need the flex of Kal's fingers to tell him he is
losing the thread. He is --

«Tim Drake --»

«If I am *reckless*, Kal-El...»


«Much would be explained about the actions of -- » 'Tim
Drake' is strange enough when surrounded by Kryptonian.
The stresses *alone* -- 'Bruce Wayne' would be a little
much. «... the one who would be my mentor.»

The crinkle of Kal's eyes has surprisingly -- amazingly, really --
little to do with Clark. There is -- very little sense of age to
it, and less of experience. Tim can almost *hear* the AI
explaining, in small concise words for the human, that, of
course, Kal-El has never had a companion before.

«I --»

«Is it -- is mentorship truly what that one wished to have
with you, Tim Drake?»

The amusing thing -- «By which culture's definition of

Without further context, Kal's half-growled «*playful*»
as he pulls Tim even closer by their linked hands is nothing
that *shouldn't* be taken at face value.

However --

«Am I truly pure of transgression, Tim... Drake?»

There are contexts within contexts, and layers of *meaning*
in every pause, every perfectly correct *thing* about the
ways in which the only parts of their bodies which are
touching without the protection of clothing are their hands
and faces. In the hesitation which might have been merely
a breath --

«Speak. Please do speak -- »

-- if Kal required anything of the kind. «Of transgression?»

There had been any number of artistic representations of the
physical intimacy allowed between companions, all of which
the AI had been entirely -- admirably -- thorough about
providing Tim access to. There had been, in retrospect,
curiously little *textual* description of the sort of kisses,
the sort of --

«'The touch of breath,'» he begins, and the quote is
from what Tim strongly suspects was the equivalent of a
middle school *health* textbook, but --

There is no breath here, no --

He wonders, more idly than he would were he not currently
being all but *fed* on by this kiss, if the rules hadn't
eventually reached a point of 'we know it when we see it.'

Would this kiss, in artistic representation -- Tim is quite fond
of the transitional art between the Second and Third ages,
the experimental freedoms of --

Would it have been brushstrokes? *Could* it have been?

This kiss, for all of its adherence to letter and, yes,
*language* --

«Kal-El --» It's more of a gasp than anything else, and
thus perhaps more of a -- a *sin* than the wrench of his
face away from Kal's own. The true transgression, of
course --

«I -- there are many ways in which I must tender
apology --»

«You are only ever 'Kal,' in my mind.»

The sound is less of a snap than a flutter of wings -- the
comfortably heavy atmosphere of the Fortress when
considered in conjunction with the cape which has, all by
itself, increased Tim's base-level strength in his neck,
shoulders, *and* calves. The fact that it's simply *easier*
to think 'Kal' than it is to think 'Kal-El...'

No. Tim knows... exactly what he had said, and what he had
said to *Kal*.

The mattress beneath his back is nothing of the kind,
because the curves of its edges are too perfect, and have
nothing to do with wear and everything to do with the
desire -- expressed by Kal at a speed and register Tim could
never be privy to -- to enfold him. Both of them.

Enclose --

Companions are allowed but little privacy.

«Kal-El, I -- I *beg*.» He knows what he's *asking* for.
And while it's important to *know* the extent of Kal's focus,
important to *test* --

«And if I do the same...?»

Kal has one hand on his face, and there is -- startling
potential in the proximity of his cheek to his own throat, to
the catches on the cape. It would only be a moment to
remove it -- far less if Kal did it himself -- and he would still
be acceptably *covered*. He would -- «We both --

«But I thought I could do nothing of the kind...?»

«I am only a human, Kal-El. I am -- terribly limited. If I
were better taught --»

«I may not be your teacher, my companion.»

It's not that Flamebird doesn't *ever* blush. It's that
Flamebird spends far too much time in high temperatures
to notice anything but encroaching burn. Flamebird is not --
this is, in any event, far more of a flush, the illusory
connection between cheek and spine, the roll of his own
hips -- «And yet you are the source. The --
knowing-one --»

«I may never guide you, I may never coax or plead or
command --»

He could -- with the AI's help -- almost certainly argue 'coax,'
and yet now is really not the *time*. He has to know. He
has to -- «And yet you must --»

The shift is torturously slow in Tim's own perceptions, and
while some of that is the fact that he has -- consciously and
not -- grown accustomed to the instantaneous in Kal's
presence, the rest is merely -- no.

It's Clark in the way Kal is moving on him, in the way every
individual shift and flex is noticeable, *tangible*. The grace
is a -- perfect, of course -- simulacrum of human.
«Kal-*El*.» He is, ultimately, unsurprised by the fact
that he sounds honestly scandalized, even to his own ears.

Flamebird is never shocked.

«Kal-El, you must --»

«You compound every --» The word is not, actually, the
one for 'crime.' But only because 'crime' is a word which
*cannot* be spoken while skin is touching skin, while flesh
is exposed however modestly --

Unless the word is spoken to a criminal, to one already
stripped of status, position -- there's a certain degree of
confusion, a temptation to consider it in terms of
'untouchability,' but it's more and less than that -- «Would
you break our companionship? Would I be...» Again, the
words are difficult, as most of them should barely be
*thought* between companions, much less spoken aloud.
«Would you have me be one unworthy?» Kal...

«I would have all you -- suggest, for all I make myself
unworthy with this desire.»

Ah. It's not quite a quote, though it's surely a suggestion,
and perhaps something of a test -- Tim had, in fact, read the
AI's version of Cliff's Notes on that particular late Second
Age tragedy, and it gave him the powerful and ultimately
useless desire to be back in school, *any* sort of school,
if only to write what he suspects would be a truly brilliant --
and subversive -- essay about, say, conceptions of
romance, and what might have happened if the Capulets
and Montagues would simply execute their more wayward
children *before* they made messes.

Granted, fictional twelfth century types had very little access
to creche technology, and so children were at least somewhat
more valuable in themselves than in their behavior --

And Kal is waiting, obviously so, with a sort of calm
amusement which doesn't -- Tim's reasonably sure -- have
very much at all to do with patience.

«I -- I retain my responsibilities.» A different paraphrase --
a father/head of household's last words to the son about to
be vaporized for the good of the family/state.

Tim wonders, not for the first time in the last several
months, whether or not the AI had spent the intervening
years of Kal's upbringing yearning in some not-quite-sentient
way toward the formerly Communist nations.

«I -- Kal-El --»

He still hears -- Kal's laughter in English, which is one of
those things which makes almost too *much* sense after
one of their dates. Still, it *is* a very Clark sort of laughter --
a variety of rueful a somewhat wire-crossed part of Tim
wants to insist is entirely tangible. Perhaps as a complicated
shift in internal temperature --

Or the temperature between their bodies -- their *clothes* --
when Kal whispers something (it's an exhale, little more, to
Tim's ears) which makes the not-mattress flatten, and the
room *grow* into something closer in size and furnishings
to an amphitheatre than to a bedroom.

The kiss, this time -- is a perfectly correct touch of breath.

The fact that still another part of Tim wants to call it a
*tease* -- is something which he could read just as easily in
everything behind Kal's eyes.

«You're -- dissatisfied.»

«I have felt no loss of pleasure in your companionship,
Tim Drake.»

Which -- feels entirely honest, despite everything including
the what his own surname has become, despite the question
that hasn't been answered --

He's made, by setting the rules of their relationship, his
last name into something of a linguistic *chastity* belt --

«I have felt no loss of pleasure,» Kal says, again, and
un-self-consciously brushes at the frown lines Tim hadn't
felt, before then, on Tim's forehead.

He needs *clarity* -- «I am aware of no -- tauntingly
complex familial relationship between the concepts of
pleasure' and 'satisfaction,' Kal-El. The differences are no
more subtle than in my own --»

«Unworthy tongue? Could you ever have such a thing...?»

Unworthy... tongue. Well, *that* question is settled -- at
least a few of those kisses were absolutely out of bounds.
It shouldn't be quite this... thrilling, considering, to be
grateful for his own relative lack of fluency -- especially
since the gratitude has more to do with the fact that he has
no real *idea* how to say 'you're just a little too terrifying
for me to be anything but *trepidatious* about the idea of
being more than your companion, even were I absolutely
sure it would involve neither problematic concomitant acts
of totalitarianism on your part nor actually winding up
married to you' without using any number of words and
phrases which would just, well, compound all of this... tease.

«You -- I have a need which I believe you have the power
to ease, my companion.»

«Ah -- yes, Kal-El?» And Tim reaches, between them --

But Kal doesn't even let Tim's hand reach his waist before
catching it, moving both of them once more until they're
side by side, and bringing Tim's hand to his mouth.

Kal is -- it's not a kiss.

«I would have you know, as you know your name and
family -- »

The most formal of constructions.

«I would have you know that I would do nothing to risk
the loss of your companionship.» "And less to risk our

At some point, he's going to have to examine, in detail, the
reflex which causes him to wince, now, whenever Kal
speaks English. Perhaps he could limit it to whenever Kal
speaks it to *him*. «I -- Kal-El.»

"I would seduce, and behave criminally, and transgress, and
*subvert*." The tongue against his knuckles is slick, wetly

There's some disagreement within him about whether he can
blame that or that same palpably rueful *smile* on Kal's
face -- *Clark's* face -- on the fact that he has, abruptly and
acutely, a certain *need*.

"I would have everything... Flamebird."

Which -- is the sort of clarity which should be gratifying,
even though he hadn't planned on asking *those* questions,
at all. The fact that 'gratifying' is not the word Tim would
use for it is -- somewhat -- irrelevant. «'The all' would --
'the all' refutes the definition of companionship.»

"Do you truly prefer the letter to the spirit?"

He prefers -- he would prefer to have a clearer sense of the
time, in the very recent past, during which he had no
trouble whatsoever imagining the sound (*shape*) of his
name, just his *first* name, from Kal's mouth without -- a
flood of attendant imagery, possibility --

The perfect privacy of -- the perfect freedom of privacy.
There is no sentient being within hundreds and hundreds
of miles. More -- far more -- depending on the activities of
certain polar research concerns.

«Both -- both are -- seem. I -- Kal-El --»

"To be fair, there is little conceptual difference between the
two within the -- framework -- we've been using."

«I would prefer a foundation to a framework --»

"Even though, taken to its logical conclusion, I would begin
a systematic pacification and destruction of human
civilization to replace it with something... more *correct*?
Bright-rising-one... I have my doubts."

Flamebird -- still doesn't blush, and all attendant heat is
merely -- it could, all of it, merely be another level of play
between them. This, he thinks, is what Kal (*Clark*) is
trying to express. «You would demand things I can't
give --»

"No. I -- *no* --"

«We have no confessor but ourselves, Kal-El,» Tim says,
tugging until Kal releases his hand and slowly, deliberately,
licking Kal's (*Clark's*) saliva from his knuckles.


God. Just. «We have -- no confessor. And so, despite the
inevitable, regrettable, *additional* level of transgression,»
and the kiss is too fast to feel like more than a stolen breath,
save in the lingering tickle along the roof of his mouth which
speaks of yet another unworthy swipe of tongue. «I must
confess to you a wish -- occasional/temporary -- that I
*could* give you those things, Kal. And -- there are things I
would *take* which would be theft-crime, my companion. I
cannot -- »

"You *can*. *We* can --"

For a moment, Kal's mouth beneath Tim's palm is merely
warm and soft -- a *mouth*. And then it isn't, save for
imprecise fact. Every relaxation of control, for Kal, is an
increase in impossible *hardness*.

An unbreachable inhumanity which is... desirable in the
safest possible ways.

«My companion -- I would discuss this with you in more
depth -- detail/truth -- at another time. For now -- I have a

Another moment -- almost certainly a conscious *eternity*
for Kal -- and his eyes invite yet another flood of image and

Tim wonders, rather helplessly, just *when* Kal (*Clark*)
will choose to listen to every message Tim *knows* his
body is sending as opposed to the words, but... well.

Kal's hands don't linger on Tim's thighs or hips when he
pushes the Flamebird tights down, Kal's palm is slick with
nothing more suspect -- or intimate -- than the admirable
lubricant the not-mattress provides within the -- deeply
sudden -- bowl *beside* Tim's left hip, and --

There were a lot of reasons why he had no problem
whatsoever with this particular exercise in total --

«Kal-El, I -- *pleasure* --»

«Always, my companion.»

-- immersion.


As it happens, he could've prolonged his -- date -- for at
least another hour -- judging by the relative degree of
wakefulness in Dick and Jason's postures (and expressions)
when he climbs in through their living room window.

Which would explain nearly all of the *content* of the look
on Kal's face after he'd unwrapped Tim from his cape on
the roof. Nearly.

Tim's mouth is faintly sore from the number of -- wholly
acceptable -- kisses Kal had taken (he'd *given*) while Tim
had stroked him to three different orgasms. It's always
more -- irrationally so -- obvious when Jason is looking at

Dick's expression --

Has nothing whatsoever to do with *Kal's* kiss.

Tim raises an eyebrow. "I assume I didn't miss anything
particularly exciting?"

Jason's snort isn't as much of an answer as he probably
thinks it is.

Dick... Dick's expression shifts so quickly, so *strangely*,
that --

"Well, unless you consider phone-sex with Talia exciting...

-- it takes a minute to catch up. Still, there's something
undeniably therapeutic about watching Jason's casual sprawl
tighten up into something rather closer to a sulk. "It wasn't
*phone* sex, dude --"

Dick -- ruffles Jason's hair. "My little wing is *all* grown up."

"Oh -- motherfucker."

"*Technically*, you got your adoption papers first, and --"

"Oh, don't even fucking *start* --"

" -- I've never actually had sex with -- or been resurrected
by -- any of *Dad's* exes," Dick says, smiling. "So I think
you'll find..."

As a rule, one or both of them should be -- encouraging
this. Dick being a *dick* was infinitely better than an infinite
number of Bruce-related alternatives. Still, Jason's really
just gaping at this point, and, if he's honest with himself,
Tim isn't doing much better.

"I --" Dick's laugh is honest enough, but the hand he has in
Jason's hair is less about a ruffle than a grip. "What *is*
the accepted waiting period for questionable humor about
our -- love lives?"

"Well, uh..." Jason twists -- gently -- out of Dick's grip,
snags the remote from between Dick's hip and a couch
cushion, and shuts off the sound on what the local station
laughably calls 'news.' "I'm pretty sure we're totally allowed
to rip on *Flamer's* love life."

Tim crosses his arms over his chest -- after taking a moment
to flip the cape back. It's really a bit de rigueur. "Is that --"

"Ya think so, little wing...?"

Which -- the thing is, Dick's current expression is pretty
much a not-quite-static *impression* of 'are you okay?'
Tim just --

"I mean, I'll *stipulate* that little *brother* makes things
easier than most..."

He hasn't really grown accustomed to the habit Dick has
developed of sending *mixed* messages. Still, all of this --

"Then again, if we *do* start on Tim --"

Jason snorts. "Is this where I point out that the couch is
Flamer's fault? *And* the coffee table? Because I can."

All of this is, perhaps, its own variety of necessity. He has --
they both have -- Dick's own estimates on how close he'd
come to breaking under Bruce's strain, but. More is (always)
necessary. "You're absolutely right, Jason. If only I'd
stopped you from punching me across the room, the coffee
table wouldn't have been reduced to a series of splinters
slowly working their way out from under my skin."

"This is what *I'm* saying. And anyway, there were only
four left, last time I checked."

The couch actually is his fault -- and that of Jason's
sometimes excessive-seeming muscular weight in
conjunction with basic aikido throws. As for the splinters...
in all honesty, there are none. The prohibitions against
gratuitous skin-contact between companions were lifted
for matters of medical assistance. The Kryptonian concept
for "playing doctor" wasn't very alien at all -- at least not
in the transitory period between the Second and Third
Ages. "Oh dear. I suppose we'll have to work harder...?"

He misses most of the move which leads to the remote
being back in Dick's hand, but not -- of course -- the hard
toss of the thing which necessitates a dodge *and* catch.
"Not until I get full access to your trust fund, kiddo."

"Trust fund. Jesus. *About* that --"

Tim dutifully wings the remote at Jason's head. "Don't
worry, Jason. You're making up for your pecuniary failures
in trade quite wonderfully."

Dick's hand is back in Jason's hair again -- but Jason just
spreads his hands. And his legs. "I've been told it's good
to know your strengths. Though, you know. It's probably
not *healthy* to have you denigrating your own, Flamer.
I mean -- you deserve at least an honorable mention or

Tim uses one of his older smiles -- and watches Jason
tense. "You've always been a role-model to me, Jason."

Dick's laugh is breathy, brief, and a little -- surprising. Tim
isn't entirely sure how he feels about *all* the ways Dick
has found, just lately, to command attention.

"I -- God, you guys make my mind hurt," he says, standing
and pinching the bridge of his nose with what may or may
*not* be a modicum of additional drama.

Jason kicks at the back of Dick's knee -- lightly. "You're the
one who lets him dress himself every day, Dick."

"I --" Dick's smile is quick, serious, and entirely for him -- in
the seconds before he spins into a kick which misses
knocking Jason unconscious (and, perhaps, into a moderate
concussion) by a solid inch. "I've learned to accept the
lifestyle choices of my family, beloved-I-mean-little-wing."

"It was just a *call* --"

"Uh, huh. And I'm just -- going to bed," Dick says, and
moves toward his bedroom. "Decide the watch between
yourselves and the quivering remains of my furniture."

"Sleep well," Tim says, and winces internally at the
obviousness of his tone. And Dick...

Dick's smile is honestly tired, less honestly several other
things, and -- just possibly -- remains on his face even
after he has his back turned to both of them.

There's something -- yes, *dutiful* -- about the feel of
turning, and turning his attention -- and a raised eyebrow --
to Jason, but it's entirely possible that he's just spent a
little too much time playing himself tonight. Jason...

"So what's up next, Queen Wonder?"

Jason almost certainly knows exactly what that feels like.
It's not enough to keep him from using this particular smile,
though. "If you call me Hippolyta the next time you fuck
my mouth, I'm afraid I'm going to have to insist you buy
me a nice wig first."

The eye-roll is less an answer than a counterpoint to the
way Jason almost *rolls* up and off the couch, moving
casually into Tim's *space*, and -- really, it's pretty much
entirely a dare for him to either move back or strike.

Tim knows, intellectually, that there are differences between
'rhythms' and 'roles,' but -- there are times when the
knowledge doesn't go any deeper. There is -- perhaps in
consolation -- however, the excuse of the fact that Jason,
for reasons he's yet to share in any way beyond the
compellingly physical, seems entirely pleased with the fact
that they haven't gone more than thirty hours without
getting each other off in one way or another since... that

At the moment, Jason is rubbing his mildly stubbled lower
jaw against Tim's left temple.

"Is there something I can help you with?"

Every once in a while, Jason's laughter (for *him*) doesn't
seem to fit within either their rhythms or their roles. It's a
little too soft, too -- *quiet*.

The feel of Jason's fingers hooking under the belt of the
Flamebird uniform is, qualitatively, nothing at all like the
way it felt when Steph had done the same, whether Tim
was in civvies or the Robin suit. The fact that he suspects
that the sense of difference is as artificial as any coping
mechanism *can* be is... something he can't really do
anything with. Still. "Jason...?"

"You tell me. Did Big Blue leave enough for the rest of the
class, this time?"

"Sharing *is* -- ah."

For a moment, Jason's knuckles dig in *hard* against Tim's
armor, but it's rather less important, abruptly, than the fact
that he really should've considered --

There are no secrets between companions -- the part of the
definition which demanded *alliance* precluded any such
thing -- and so, even though he and Kal hadn't precisely
discussed his sexual relationship with Jason...

Kal knows all about it. And knows -- even though Jason
*doesn't* -- just how many *things* Tim does with Jason
which are simply, and explicitly, forbidden.

Jason knocks his chin against Tim's forehead -- not
especially gently. "Hey, where'd you go?"

Tim burns a small hole in Jason's jeans with the wrist-laser
on the suit --

And Jason manages to get in a jab *as* reflex makes him
jump back, but it isn't a very good one.

In the end, they put two new holes in the wall and a crack
in one of the little entertainment center's legs. Tim makes
a note to use the wood and crazy-glue on it --

Tim knows he's smiling -- *grinning* -- by the feel of Jason's
teeth closing on his cheek, and can't really stop. It's not --

This would all feel a lot better without Tim's jock in the way,
without --

Really, he suspects this was at least *most* of Kal's
*point* --

"Fucking Christ, I will *cut* this open --"

"You really won't," Tim says, but Jason has his wrists before
Tim can activate one of the smaller charges on his belt.

"I could really get used to the way you always kind of *jerk*
a little when I do this --"

"The fact that you haven't already --"

"Speaks *poorly* for me. Yeah, I know, I -- nngh *fuck*,
get your knees up --"

He doesn't really want to dig his knees in against Jason's
ribs, but -- he's had some time to 'get used to' the way
*that* tends to make Jason shift the motion of his hips
from a snap to a grind -- "Don't --"

"Don't *what*?"

Rolling them would be easier if he shifted his knees back
down at least a little, but it would also give Jason a little too
much warning.

As it is, the move is only partially a success. Jason can't get
nearly enough leverage to *shove* his forearm against
Tim's throat with them on their sides, and it's -- it's not
really the point.

Jason doesn't quite manage to break Tim's finger when
their hands knock together at the catches on his belt, and --

"Fuck, sorry --"

Tim blinks. "'*Sorry*?'"

"Oh -- fuck *you*, get these *off* --"

There's something either very wrong or very right about the
fact that the skin of his hip knows the feel of Jason's palm
better than it knows Kal's. *More* than it knows Kal's --

"God, fuck, I *love* this scar --"

"Good to know." It's one of Freeway's, though he was too
drugged at the time to know precisely how the man had
given it to him, as opposed to being able to place it at
(roughly) the time between *being* drugged and getting
out of that little hideout with too many new bruises. He'd
like the chance to meet Freeway again.

He makes a note.

He --

"*Jason* --"

One hand on Tim's dick and the other on his cheek --

The other *cupping* his cheek, and --

"Like that...?"

And he could be forgiven, he thinks, for not getting it
*right* away, just as, perhaps, Jason could be forgiven for --

Jason traces the curves of a mask Tim won't be wearing
again with his thumb, and, "this is when he told you you
were beautiful, right?"

He'd been -- distracted. It feels too good. He hadn't put up
enough of a *fight*. Whether or not Jason knew he was
thinking about *Kal*... he had to have known Tim wasn't
entirely here. Tim already knows --

"In that --" Jason's laugh is low and quiet and *rueful*.
"That *tone* he uses sometimes. The one that *used* to
just feel like 'good job, Robin,' except it didn't anymore.
Not after this, right...?"

Jason doesn't react *well* to certain varieties of distraction.
Tim's almost sure that Jason thinks of it as more of a
character flaw than he does. Certainly, Tim's been given
more reasons to have somewhat conflicting reactions to
what Jason *does* with this quirk than Jason has given

"After this... it always felt just like what it was," Jason says,
and, at this point, it doesn't seem to matter whether Tim
says or does anything (other than taking it) at all. The first
stroke is a little abortive --

("I -- *Tim* --")

The second doesn't start until the grip Jason has around
the base of his dick is firm and solid and sure and probably
not actively *designed* to make Tim's dick feel both
laughably small and desperately important.

("I think -- is this what you like?")

"The thing is, I used to be dead sure -- before -- that he'd
watch me sometimes. In the shower or whatever. And
then -- I was dead sure he didn't, because... well."

The strokes are slow and hard and -- perfect for definitions
of same that he didn't want to think about then and doesn't
want to think about now --

"*You* know what I like --"

"Jason. You -- this isn't --"

("Sometimes I believe you've shown me everything --
*given* me everything -- but your pleasure --")

"Jason, *don't* --"

"Heh. You sure?" Jason's thumb is on Tim's *mouth* --

(Not the first kiss. Not the fifth -- the first kiss which made
Tim wonder when the rest of him had decided this was
*okay* --)

The press isn't perfect, or even close. Jason's naked thumb
is nothing like Bruce's mouth, the slide of it in his mouth
and over his tongue is nothing like --

Like --

"He didn't *say* he needed you..."

(The Case, looming behind the broad and too-possible lines
of Bruce's shoulders. The smell of sweat and the feel of his
own hands in Bruce's -- Bruce's fucking *hair* --)

"But you knew he did. That's -- God, fuck, yeah, thrust --
like that, like --"

("*Please*," and it's impossible to tell whether it's supposed
to be an order or an accusation --)

It probably says something about both of them -- and
possibly their personal shared universe -- that Jason does,
actually, loosen his grip on Tim's dick once Tim gets his
foot on Jason's chest.

Enough so that kicking Jason away is less tragic than --
bracing. It still takes a little too long to make it to his feet,
but since Jason isn't coming for him, it's a bit more
important that he can't seem to fix his own expression.

"Heh. That's *kind* of like an answer."

"Jason -- what the *fuck*?" That didn't sound very much
like Flamebird. And --

In response... Jason looks over his shoulder at Dick's --
closed -- door.

It's not much of a response.

Nor is the way that Jason scrubs a hand back through his
hair, says, "I -- fuck," and then walks into his own bedroom.

And closes the door.

Still, a moderately painful erection -- not much of one, as
the pain actually lessens once Tim gets himself tucked
*away* -- is just the sort of thing to make *sure* one stays
awake for one's watch.


«Tim Drake.»

He hadn't known he was actually awake. Though he
suspects the realization wouldn't have taken much longer --
he's already on his side, as opposed to his stomach.

Somewhere, within range of his nose, there is coffee.

The quality of the light through his blinds suggests it's
somewhere between ten and ten forty-five. Perhaps
eleven. They all let each other sleep the maximum
amount of time. He isn't sure whether or not the others
feel as -- gratuitous about it as he does, and --

And Kal had known he was awake by the sound of his
heartbeat, or breathing, or the way his limbs were moving
on the sheets, or some -- combination of all of the above.
Perhaps he'd been watching Tim's neurons fire from space.
Tim smiles. Kal is -- above all else -- waiting. It has been...
a few days.

He strokes the comm in his ear, and whispers, «My
companion. Daylight suits my... knowledge? Sense? I
would have your forgiveness, Kal-El. I am -- not at my

«Of course. And I do have a certain fondness for

«Of a certain... kind,» Tim says, and rolls fully onto his
back. Kal's pleased hum is terribly *inadequate* through
the comm. And --

It's not that Kal has ever been *inside* their home, but it
does seem strange that there isn't a familiar shadow
outside, or perhaps just the teasing flash of red, or blue,
or the shield of El, for that matter.

And then it doesn't, because... because. «You -- have
given me much to consider, my companion.»

«Your thoughts are always welcome. And... there are
other things I would discuss with you, as well.»

In English? With Flamebird or...? «I... require additional
time, Kal-El. My thoughts are not yet... fully realized.»

There remains no -- *sign* of Kal within the admittedly
limited range of his senses, and it's more than a little
disconcerting. There is a particular variety of insecurity
which Tim suspects is more common than not in terms
of... romantic relationships, and yet it has not been... he'd
had. He'd had so much, once.

«Kal-El... I have not discussed, with you...»

«There are, of course, allowances to be made for your
relative lack of facility with the language.»

It's another one of the fascinating and predictable aspects
*of* the language that the phrase 'the language,' translates
*best* to 'the true language.' It isn't that Tim believes his
more... metatextual thoughts about this sort of thing
wouldn't be just as agreeable/attractive to Kal as everything

It's that it's not the sort -- it's *another* sort of conversation
he can't have with 'Kal-El.'

And the question of whether he *should* be conversing
with anyone else...

«Tim Drake...»

«Kal-El, I am... there is a loss within me. A confusion
which is and is not bound by our prior discussion of
appropriate framework, my desire for foundation --»

«I would have you know that all of your desires are
welcome as nothing *else*, Tim Drake --»

"Clark," he says, and for a telling moment his confusion and
conflict shifts to the strictly physical: his body is insisting
that Tim should be in a ready-position, or perhaps already in
that precise sort of flight whose designated landing zone
was precisely in the center of some deeply sensitive part of
another body. His body is a literalist.

And Kal is silent.

Tim nods, once, and knows that Kal is seeing it -- or perhaps
simply hearing the various things which would paint the
picture for him. Kal's reasons for offering -- tempting with --
Clark were as poorly thought-out, as poorly *considered*
as his own reasons for... being tempted. «My
companion,» he says, rising to dress, «I do not think it
would be wrong for me to suggest that I am not the only
one with much to consider.»

«Tim Drake --»

«We will speak again, my companion. I -- I am.» Tim
closes his eyes, and doesn't ask himself any more loudly
than usual when he will have certain conversations with
himself. *Any* of those conversations -- the Titans,
*Steph* -- if he could just talk to someone else *first* -- if
he could just -- «I have a -- I am. I need. I need, Kal-El.»

«I remain at your pleasure, Tim Drake.»

His *need* -- no. There are other concerns.


Over the comm, Nightwing is explaining to a group of young
urban entrepreneurs why, despite appearances, Bludhaven
truly wasn't the definition of 'location, location, location.'

Nightwing -- Dick -- has always been more inclined to do
that both verbally and physically than most of the vigilantes
of his acquaintance. Even Jason -- even *before* -- had,
more often than not, let his actions do the talking.

Besides -- while the sound quality is, in fact, the very best,
it's much easier to follow the conversation (at this point, to
be fair, it's more of a monologue) than the blocking. He
can't really think of a better way to pass the time on his
designated rest-period.

"Man, that's just porn."

Jason apparently feels the same. Tim hums a little, and lets
himself... shift.

"I mean, he was always kind of big on the not-shutting-up-
ever thing, but --"

"There's a difference when he's explaining why, just as an
example, a certain value of 'you' will have to learn to be

Jason punches his shoulder lightly. "He totally got that from

"Mm. The collarbone thing, though -- all you."

Jason sketches a bow -- and then they're both rolling further
into shadows and dropping into defensive crouches.

"I'm going to have to make that alarm a little less shrill --"

"Really fucking not -- your boyfriend knows better than to
come in at anything but his top speed, right?"

Tim frowns and pulls his palm-top to check the messages
from their base. Flyer, standard humanoid size and shape,
speed... "Don't be insulting. Of course he --"

"Flamebird. Jay. Report," Nightwing says, and --

"We've got a flyer, ID unknown, and --"

"We're closer than you are, Nightwing. Flyer came in from
the southwest, and is coming straight for us," Tim says.
"Suggested protocol: observe, quantify, neutralize, remove."

"Agreed," Dick says. "I'm finished enough here, and I'll be
moving in at level two speed protocol."

"Good enough for me, Big Bird. Jay out," he says, and turns
to Tim.

"Noted. Flamebird out." He knows who the flyer is. He -- he
knows that speed and that search pattern and he -- "We
double-back, I think, Jay."

"Get 'im from behind, yeah. R-point six-two, I'll come in
from east."

Tim nods, and waits --

Tim waits for the way to say -- anything which needs to be
said, and doesn't do it, and watches Jay fly.

There's nothing he can say which would change the protocol.
They all have people in their lives -- Jason is, perhaps, some
variety of something which could be considered "the
luckiest." He would doubtlessly find that amusing.

Tim heads for his bike --


And blinks *while* reopening the channel. "Here and
moving, N."

"New priority -- your palm-top isn't good enough. How
close are you to getting feeds we can *all* use without
hurting our ability to follow comm and radio signals?"

"We have an... ally who can have us there already -- with
certain adjustments. In terms of strictly hardware -- you
tell me which mode on which to prioritize research."

Nightwing's laugh isn't -- quite -- swallowed by the wind.
He's moving. "The... non-invasive one. For now."

"Done. Anything else?"

"Not at this time, little brother. Out."

"Was that convo what I think it was? The hell are you
*doing* in that Fort --"

"Jay. Possibility that the flyer has enhanced senses."
Probability. Truth --

"Consider it *tabled*, but not forgotten. Out."

They both know he's on his bike, but they don't have to
know how quickly he's moving. They don't --

He could be wrong about this. He could.

«Kal-El. I require --»

«It is Conner, my companion. He should be at home.
Shall I --»

«My thanks. And -- not at this time.»

«As you say.»

One of the first things he and Kal are going to have to
discuss is that 'Conner' *thing*. It's --

For a moment, it's almost difficult to *see*. He's scrambling
for the sense of himself, for his body in space, on the bike,
moving --

They are never going to have that conversation. Tim had
already... ruined that. He has. There is.

He sets the comm to receive only priority transmissions
directly -- all other transmissions would only announce
themselves, as opposed to opening the channel on both
ends -- and takes the bike up over one hundred. He's going
to get there first.

There's -- there's a *possibility* that this could all boil down
to the more strictly personal kind of complication. He isn't --
Kon is his -- no. All of this remains to be seen. While there
is, of course, the usual benefit to considering as many
potential scenarios as one *can*, he lacks the time for this,
now, and he had already done... *most* of it. He will not be
a Titan again.

If he'd left aside the more personal concerns, the topics one
can and cannot discuss with one's companion, when those
topics touched on outside relationships, on. The nature of
half-breeds... half-castes? It's... possible.

Of course, the topic is entirely open -- *feasible* -- for
conversation with Clark, for -- just for the sake of example --
mutual education and the less gentle varieties of

He doesn't want to know what expression is on his face, at
the moment. It's simply another one of the things he
doesn't have *time* for. He doesn't --

There are so many things which need to be *done* with
the world, which need to be straightened, neatened,
*corrected*. He had always hoped that Kon.

He just needs a little more time.

He parks the bike, forces himself not to check the twenties
of his partners, tucks the helmet away, doesn't check the
twenties, climbs for the roof -- the distance between
himself and Jay is certainly far enough to mask the sound
of a grapple, and this is r-point six-*three* -- but there is
no reason to be incautious --

Once on the roof, he -- can't see Kon. Of course. In Gotham,
at the altitudes Kon prefers, the lights would pick him out
as a suspicious absence in his latest 'uniform.' Here, it's not
bright enough for that.

Kon would.

Kon would blend at least as well as Jason does. Far better
than himself. He could -- Kon --

He checks the palm-top, and the tracers have Jay and
Nightwing converging on six-two at the correct speeds. He
has -- he has time. They will be well away even when they
*reach* the point... where Tim won't be.

Standing on the water tower -- standing *straight* -- is only
slightly less difficult... feels only slightly less *wrong* than
it would feel to pull off his (Dick's) mask while anywhere
but their base or the Fortress.

However, it gives *him* the altitude needed to let the wind
help him fling the cape out and back.

It's not gold -- certainly not the one Kon knows -- and the
impression of heat-shimmer created by the addition of the
reds and oranges would be -- *must* be -- entirely
unfamiliar, but --

It doesn't take very long at all before there's an entirely
different sort of wind playing with his cape. And Kon is...

"Fuck. *Look* at you --!"

It's difficult not to smile. And then it isn't, because the last
time he'd been this close to Kon, he'd been moments away
from introducing Kon to his. His father. And Kon isn't
wearing... there is no 's' on his t-shirt.

"Just -- you don't even *tell* me you're back in the game,
you don't -- God, I'm flying around here looking for some
brutalizing *asshole* trying to look like he's on *fire*
instead of Robin, instead of my best --"

"*Robin* is in Gotham, Kon. Where she belongs."

"Robin belongs with the *Titans*. *You* belong --"

"I don't. And those are two different things, besides."

The amazing thing is how sudden it *feels* to be flat on his
back on the top of the water tower, given everything he
knows about the relative power levels of Kon and... Kal.

There's a part of his mind which is honestly invested in
figuring out how best to translate "you need to stop going
easy on me" into companions' Kryptonian, but that's the
part which would rather be doing nearly anything other than
having this conversation. Than...


"Kon." Kon's fingers are splayed over his chest armor.
Despite the fact that most of the people in their line of work --
both sides -- should know better than to even try to touch
that part of the body without a great deal of superhuman
speed and a lack of vulnerabilities, most people still try. But
he's not -- Kon hasn't given him a reason to *electrocute*
him --

"Don't -- you don't -- I got the word on you. What you're
doing.  What -- freaking *Nightwing's* doing. I wasn't even
gonna *come* here, it was too -- I figured the rest of the
Bats would figure it out, that they were working on it -- I
wasn't gonna *come* here, but now I've seen the pictures --
fuck, now I've seen the *video*."

"Then you --" Are with them. "You know."

"*Fuck*." Kon's hand isn't on him anymore, and Kon has his
back half-turned, besides. However, it's Kon, and... Tim
has had quite a bit of time to come to know him, and to
know him when he's... upset.

He doesn't sit up any farther than his elbows. "You sought
me out. When I quit."

"What -- of *course* I did --"

"You left before I could... fully explain, and I --"

Just that quickly, Kon is standing over him again, glaring
down at him. Tim wonders how much control he's gained
over his heat vision. "Explain *what*? That you were
taking some time off to figure out how best to go *evil*?"

"There are -- you don't know how many -- I've wanted to
talk to you, Kon. I just. I haven't had time --"

"Yeah, noticed that. God, you know something, Rob? Back
in the fucking *day* we were all scared of you. Except for
*Secret* --"

He knows. Whether or not Kon knows what he'd just called

"-- who was scary enough in her own goddamned right. The
thing is? The only thing in my head right now is how much
fucking *sense* it all makes."

... is something else entirely. "That's what I'm trying to
*say*, Kon --"

"Because, see? If *anyone* was enough of a manipulative
*bastard* to turn Superman -- *Superman*? It'd be you."

That... isn't what he was trying to say at all. Tim doesn't
close his eyes behind the mask. Kon's X-ray vision had also
been kicking in, after all.

"God, I don't even fucking know why I'm *here*."

He wonders if Kon realizes that Bruce is almost certainly
monitoring his presence and vitals, if not every word which
is being said.

"I just -- you know, most of me just wants to beat the shit
out of you right now and *go*, Tim. I've got -- I've got
things to *do* now --"

"I'd still. Like to talk to you."

"There's nothing to --" Kon kicks lightly at Tim's boot with
his own and uses the contact to use the TK to drag Tim to
his feet. He can't move. "You can't *explain* this. You can't --
god fucking *dammit*, Tim, we were right there in that
fucked-up future. We *saw* what we could become --"

"I'm never going to be Batman --"

"Yeah, see? *Once* upon a time, I loved hearing stuff like
that from you. But at least *Bruce* understands that it's a
fucking problem to go around crippling people -- go around.
I... Jesus, Tim, *why*? Some of these people -- they're
never going to use a damned *pencil* again, or they'll
have to walk with a cane, or --"

"There are people who are dead, or maimed, or *worse*,
Kon. People who *wouldn't* be if people like *us* had
stopped trying to pretend there was a difference between
a 'good' vigilante and a 'bad' one. As opposed to a
*trained* --"

"He trained *you*, he -- God, Steph says you used to *live*
with him, you and Nightwing *and* that fucking murdering
*Jay* freak."

The thing is, they all have certain reflexes. Certain... one of
the most important lessons Bruce had taught him was that
there was no freedom, no luxury, no *friendship* so great
as to justify one friend not knowing precisely how to take
the other down. And so he tenses, and grunts, and *twists*
as much as he can, snarling with 'pain' --

"Fuck, Jesus, your new uniform --"

And the TK grip is gone, just like that. Enough for Tim to
get -- relatively -- out of range.

"Oh, you fucking --"

"I'm not going anywhere, Kon. I just didn't particularly feel
like being restrained for our conversation. You should
consider asking *Bruce* about that habit sometime or
another. For now? All I can say is that I remember that
future as well as you do. I got to spend a great deal of
*time* with my future self. With -- *Batman*. And I'm
never going to be that --"

"You *couldn't* --"

"Listen to me. Just -- for one more *minute*, Kon --"

And Kon squeezes his eyes shut. It's. He'd like to explain to
Kon that he'll be a long time earning Bruce's... that that
*moment* will be enough for him (them. Steph --) to decide
that Kon can't quite be trusted. That there'll be more secrets,
and more lost chances to fucking -- *communicate*.

He wants.

He wants, more than anything else, to give Kon the answers
he wants. To say the right things, to *be* the person, the
*Robin* who has been Kon's best friend for most of Kon's

And there's a part of him which wants to tell the rest just
how to make that work. How he could talk about what it
was like to watch Steph leave him for Robin, to watch
Steph become the person he was always a little afraid of.
The one who wouldn't -- wouldn't ever *need* him. That
it had been a *kindness* for Bruce to flinch away from
everything familiar in Steph, everything impossible for him,
for *both* of them not to *need* --

"Well? What is it, *Flamebird*?"

He could talk about friendship, too, of course. A wholly
different (truer) sort of companionship, and the memory of
Kon's hand in his own. The memories.

"God, you just -- are you just gonna fucking *stand* there?"

He could move closer, he could reach out, and do it again
when Kon pushed him away. A hand on the 's' which isn't
there. His face tilted up. There are languages within
languages, and there always have been.

There was so much Robin couldn't have which Flamebird
could. Which Flamebird *can*.

"You -- I'm sorry, Kon. You're right. There's -- there isn't
any way to explain."

Kon's frown is broad, and feels irrationally as though it
encompasses his entire body. It isn't at all comical. "What --

"This is my life. You disapprove. There's nothing you can --
there's nothing we can say to each other. And, since you.
Since you've made your decision... there's really no
reason for you to stay."

"You --"

"Get out of my city, Kon. You don't belong."

And even now, there are a lot of things he could do, or say.
Kon isn't... if Kon could see his eyes right now, if he were
looking. If --

The thing is, Kon *is* still looking at him, just -- standing
there and staring, and it's all the proof Tim could've ever
needed that *some* part of him wasn't sure, hadn't been
*convinced* of Batman and Robin and Gotham and
everything that had been the closest thing Tim had had
to *religion*...

Right up until he was Robin himself. A bit after. There's --

There's still so much he could say and do to make this...
something else. In the end, however, it's easier to cross
his arms over his chest -- the cape is still back -- and cock
his head.

The pose is deeply offensive, of course, and, chances are,
the next time he uses it with Kon, he'll wind up punched
through the nearest wall. For now...

For now, Kon is flying -- gone. For all the things Flamebird
*could* do...

"So are you gonna explain that, Flamerbird?"

He'd only ever wanted to be Tim, with Kon. That's all.
"Kal-El informed me of who our visitor was." After I asked.

"You broke protocol, little brother," and it's Nightwing's voice,
but it's Dick's hand on his shoulder. It shouldn't remind him
as much of Bruce as it does.

Perhaps you can't really be good, *natural* at that sort of
thing --

Perhaps it only comes easily when you believe in what you're
doing -- as opposed to merely finding your own actions
sensible -- enough to make everything else automatically less

Jason blows out a breath. "So -- right. What's the deal?"

"Batman's changed the rules." Tim searches for the moon
until he can find the shimmer of a crescent in all the
pollution. It's earlier than it feels. "There'll be at least one
meta in Gotham."

Dick tightens his grip on Tim's shoulder. It's still hard to be
sure in terms of this armor, but Tim suspects it would be
painful without it.

The expression on Jason's face, when Tim looks, strongly
suggests that Tim isn't the only one thinking about Bruce's
most *recent* visit, and Dick's... reactions to same.

They all have their weaknesses.

"Flamebird --"

Tim can't make himself twist out of Dick's grip. "I've already
uploaded what I know of Superboy's... specifications to our
systems. There is one thing which I haven't added, however."

"Do tell," Jason says, and he's not looking at Tim so much
as at Dick's hand.

He's being obvious again. He's... "Not until I'm as sure as
we can be that we're not monitored."

"You kept a secret from B?"

"We all have our strengths, Jay. And our hobbies, as well.
For now -- patrol?"

Jason nods and looks at Dick.

"I'm taking little brother. Jay, you back-check Superboy's
path, get a feel."

Flamebird doesn't blush. "I'm reasonably sure he didn't --

"I need better than that. You know that," Dick says, and
pulls his grapple.

"Noted," Tim says, and pulls his own.


It's -- standard, in its way.

Nightwing prefers to patrol alone, and that's sensible
enough -- he'd left his mark on Bludhaven, and now he has
to erase it and leave a new one. However, he and Jason had
been trading off on having his back a little more assiduously
since Bruce's second visit, and Dick knew it, and they all --

It's standard to feel as much watched as *partnered* right
now, even though it's their third *full* patrol together since
Kon's visit. It's only to be expected, especially since it hasn't
been very long at all, all things considered, since the last
time Dick had... *teased* him about Superboy. About Kon.

He'd found it -- *it* -- amusing, and doubtlessly reassuring
in terms of what it meant to be a Titan, even though he
wasn't one himself, anymore.

They are both different now, but, perhaps, not all that
different. Possibly, Dick's just checking to make sure Tim
has changed as much as he has.

It would help to know -- to be sure -- just how much that

It's something he hasn't quite been letting himself focus on,
and not just because of the need to focus on other things.
He and Jason had been worried about Dick's relationship
with Bruce, and how it would affect Dick now, but it's entirely
possible that Dick had been far more worried about his
resolve than they had been.

It's probable, because...

Tim's reasonably sure Dick doesn't know what he *looks*
like now. That he doesn't really see or feel the way he
moves, and the ways he doesn't.

The -- essential showmanship remains as he releases a
jump-line high enough up to make his descent into this
particular alley actively *brutal*, and certainly Dick
doesn't *smile* any less on the street.

And it's not -- it's not that it's Bruce's smile when Dick
kneecaps the courier and strings him up just in time for Tim
to land and begin the process of interrogation.

It is, in all honesty, *Batman's* smile, bright and slick and
sharp and *avid* just beyond his peripheral vision -- at the
moment -- but not beyond that of the young man currently
having a very bad night.

However, Batman's smile was far more armor than anything
else, and while Tim's reasonably sure that Dick would refer
to that smile as being Nightwing's... it isn't.

There's a freedom in it, and a depth *to* it, and both of
those things belong to Dick.

Neither of those things frighten Tim so much as they make
him... unsure.

When they pause at yet another r-point, there's nothing to
tell him that he shouldn't slip back into the old rhythms,
*their* old rhythms, but there's also nothing to tell him he
*should* be crouching this close, that he should be leaving
himself this open -- available -- for more reason than to just
reassure Dick that *he's* being himself.

The hand on the back of his neck, the fingers scratching idly
at the even-shorter hairs...

It's not the same as the arm around the shoulders he'd
come to find routine, once upon a time, and more than a
little needful. It's not --

"I think I'm going to need you to talk about it, little brother,"
Dick says, and the apology in his tone does not drown the

It's not the same. "I could say something, at this point,
about the number of things which you haven't spoken about
in any detail."

Dick's fingers tighten on the back of his neck.

"But I'm going to assume you'll take it as read."

"Flamebird --"

"Kon -- He wasn't the first -- real -- friend I ever had. That
was... the Case," Tim says, and offers Dick one of
Flamebird's smiles. Just to be sure the point is made.

The wince on Dick's face may or may not seem more
reflexive than it is. The nod is... Nightwing. "Give me a read
on your status."

"I could've -- probably -- turned him. The idea made me
sick to my stomach. Which strongly suggests that I was
down below 50% before either of us said a word to each

"And never mind the fact that there was never any chance
he would turn *you*...?" Dick's laugh is quiet and rough, but
entirely real. Admiring.

Tim frowns. "That was -- well, you said it. It couldn't have

"Of course not. Because if it *could've*, you wouldn't have
manipulated things to have time alone with him."

"I -- I'm not sure what you want me to say, Nightwing."

"I *want* you," Dick says, shifting until they're nearly facing
each other and moving his other hand to Tim's mouth. "I
want you to understand that I trust you even more than I
need you, little brother."

"Because -- because I need you even more than I know
you, now...?" Flamebird can say things like that without
much difficulty.

And Nightwing... Nightwing can laugh in a manner which
has, to date, made three different people urinate on
themselves and still expect it to be *shared* between them,
expect it --

Dick knows --

Dick traces his fingers over Tim's mouth, one indigo finger,
one deeper indigo. It's less of a smile than a notification --
as if Tim needed one -- that his own mouth was a little too
*tight*. For Flamebird.

"We're gonna be okay, little brother. Let me do the believing
for both of us."

You are the last thing left I believe in, Dick, he doesn't say,
and pulls Dick's hand away from his mouth. He also
neglects to mention that Dick had been the *first*, as well,
but that...

The man Dick has become knows that, too. It's in the way
he smiles at the way Tim's hand is still wrapped around
Dick's gauntlet.

Tim takes his hand away, as deliberately as Flamebird does
everything -- even 'casual' -- and raises an eyebrow. "It
seems to me that that sort of thing has gotten us in trouble
in the past."

"For certain varieties of 'us,' yes. However," Dick says, and
brings his hand *back* to Tim's face, "you need to
understand that I wouldn't be nearly as sure without you.
Without you, and Jay, and your fucked-up interpretation of
bonding --"

"You really shouldn't talk --"

"And," Dick says, squeezing Tim's jaw. "This. I trust you. I
believe in you. And I know that you'll be faithful, be
watchful, be careful, be -- fucking *steadfast* even when
Jay and I can't. Right up until the day I fail you, at which
point you'll sit, and wait, and when the better option comes
along..." Dick smiles, and lets go of Tim's neck -- not his
jaw -- and snaps his fingers behind Tim's head. "Just like
you did with Bruce -- though, chances are, you won't bother
leaving loose ends."

He's not. It isn't. It -- *wasn't*, not really -- "Nightwing --"

"I know exactly what I have in you, and I *love* it,
Flamebird. I'm not going to fail as long as I have you. And
I'm never going to lose you until I fail. Right, Tim?"

Flamebird doesn't -- Tim doesn't -- "Right," Tim says, and
brushes Dick's hand away from his jaw.

Dick lets him do it. "Good," he says, and stands, stretching.
He is tall and perfect and -- *sure* against the Bludhaven
sky. He's darker than that sky, and he's wilder, and.

He's Dick. Tim stands, as well. "Shall we?"

"Absolutely," Dick says, and it's one of the older smiles --
wolfish and knowing. It makes Flamebird --

"I don't suppose we can find something or someone to set

"Hope springs eternal, little brother."

It makes him.


They've each swept the area around their home twice. Kal-El
has done it more times than Tim is comfortable considering,
really. They've left the phones tapped, because there was
simply no reason to do otherwise, considering how easy they
are for -- the others to monitor.

In all honesty, Tim would like to set off an e-m pulse, but, in
the end... in the end there aren't just two people he needs to
share Kon's secret with, there are three.

And the Fortress is the most private place on the planet.

It doesn't, actually, take longer for Kal to get all of them to
the Fortress than it does for him to say it. It doesn't --

It takes far too short a time to say it, out loud, for the way
it turns Dick's expression avid and -- *intrigued*, for the
way Jason nods, curtly, filing it away as though it was
simply one more piece of potentially vital data. For the
way --

«Companion occasionally mine.»

Kal's tone is carefully even, and doesn't seem to register
strangely to the others. They have no reason to know the
*warning* of it, or that the construction is one which speaks
of breaking --

"Oh, I -- can't actually listen to. Sorry, Clark, um. No
offense." Jay runs a hand through his hair and -- blushes.

Dick is laughing at Jason, silent and *full*. At any other

«It was a secret for the one I was, companion-please.
Not -- for the one I am.»

«And yet you --»

"Seriously, I -- hate to interrupt, but --"

"Actually, Clark, we really do need to get back. Trade you a
little brother for a lift?"

"My apologies, both of you, I -- of course you should get
back. Are you sure I can steal you for a time, Tim?"

The surprise isn't in the layers of meaning in that sentence,
or even in the fact that he's so well and truly *Clark* right
now that not even Dick... Jason's busy enough apparently
looking for a way not to touch the Fortress even with the
soles of his boots that Tim's willing to give him something
of a pass. Dick, on the other hand...

All of them are looking at him now, of course.

Tim steps deliberately closer to Kal, and smiles somewhat
sharply -- at Jason. He's reasonably sure this is how it's
supposed to work.

Jason puts his hands up in something that's closer to 'no,
thank you' than to 'surrender,' Dick covers his mouth to (fail
to) hide a small, quiet snicker, and Clark blushes -- if not on
cue, then certainly in a timely fashion.

Subjectivity has its rewards, though Tim isn't really sure he
wants to know what thought or image Clark had used to
make himself blush.

«I will await your return, and the continuation of
conversation, companion-please.» The construction isn't
quite 'I'm showing you my underbelly,' but it also is --
because it's the strongest construction *allowed*.

«All conversation, bright-rising-one...?»

"I -- seriously. I'm pretty sure people are. Dying. Elsewhere,"
Jason says.

Once, when Jason was still dead, Dick had described a
conversation with Jason during which he had explained,
with perfect sincerity, that he had nothing whatsoever
against aliens... or giant squid, for that matter. Kory was,
of course, "different."

«All, you-who-are-highest,» Tim says, and deliberately --
daringly, considering the language -- rests the palm of his
gauntlet against the back of the hand Kal has at his side.

The shiver was almost certainly too fast for the others to
see, as the only reason Tim notices it is because he has
become familiar with the feel of a lingering buzz on his
skin. And Dick is.

Dick is looking at him, but Tim isn't sure how to read it, or
what to do with it beyond nodding.

At which point Dick grins at -- Clark. "I'm pretty sure Jason
can wait for the grand tour -- I know you've redecorated
since the last time he was here."

The punch Jason throws at Dick's kidney is abortive, but
heartfelt. There's a bit too much white showing around his

"Of course," Clark says. «I will return at speed,» Kal says.

There is a moment in which he gets the image, disturbing
and gone, of Jason and Dick as upright mummies, and Kal
actually gives him enough time to yank his left gauntlet off
and begin the process of bringing his still buzzing hand to
his mouth.

He doesn't make it before Kal returns, before Kal strips off
his own cape and tosses it to the floor, before Kal closes the
distance between them --

There are messages Tim is sending with his body which he
can do nothing about. Not fast enough.

«Tim Drake -- you *fear*?»

The scrape of his teeth over his own palm -- is a variety of

«I -- you. This is not a pain you suffer, normally.» Kal is
cupping Tim's other hand.

Kal is crouching before him --

Kal --

«It is -- not pain. I. Kal-El --»

The exhale against his palm is sharp, harsh. «I have grown
accustomed to you simply allowing yourself to *feel* my --
it has been too long.»

Yes. «There was much --»

«To *consider*, yes, my companion,» Kal says, and
*presses* Tim's palm to his mouth, and looks up from over
Tim's fingertips. «And yet it appears I would spoil my
opportunity to partake of you, your conversation, with harsh

It really is simply a sign of everything Tim had already
known that it had taken this long -- for him -- to realize that
*Kal* had had quite enough time to think things -- Kon's
*secret* -- through. In the time Tim had spent trying to
scrape the feel of too much power from his skin.

«My companion... for such things -- such *insults* -- there
is room for beseech. I offer my own.»

And Kal is correct to do so, even though it doesn't feel that
way. «There is -- there is no need. You should be
aware --»

«Please tell me,» Kal says, and the breath on Tim's
fingertips is feverish and not quite damp enough. Wind in
the desert. *Correct* --

«It was... decided. He would either join with my brothers
and myself, and explain to you his... lineage --»

«That is not the correct word in this instance, my

Tim bites the inside of his lip, and searches Kal's eyes, and
doesn't -- doesn't. «His... 'siring,' of course, Kal-El.»

The nod is solemn, but not -- unimpeachably so.

«I am... I can never be comfortable with thinking of... him
as merely an animal, Kal-El.»

The wince on Kal's face is... perfect enough. «I
understand. I speak -- only -- of... language.»

Do you? «I... have a fondness for the language, my

«Complexity, opacity, mystery... Tim Drake,» Kal says,
releasing Tim's hand and rising to stand before and above.
«I cannot help but believe that the *language* has a
fondness for *you*.»

If he waits -- no. He has clenched his hands at his sides. Were
he to open his fists, Kal would press their palms together,
spread Tim's fingers with his own...

There's a *lack* here, and while he is not so unaware that
he can't point to the lack within *himself*, it's also... here,
in this place which is a home, even though the man it was
a meant to be a home for...

«Kal-El. I am teased-enlightened, I am aroused by --»
Tim waves a hand, taking in the room which seems like
nothing but a particularly sterile *foyer*, at the moment,
but could be absolutely anything with less than one of Kal's
*breaths*. «This.»

«My people. My --» Kal doesn't wait for him to unclench
his fists, and one of Tim's knuckles crack with the strain he's

He can't classify the sound he makes.

«Kryptonian -- *Krypton* -- is surely as worthy a
foundation as any upon which to build.» The only reason
it's a question... it has nothing to do with structure, or

It has everything to do with the fact that the expression on
Kal's face -- Tim doesn't close his eyes. "Certainly," he says,
"it's an excellent framework. There is... a beauty, and an.
Impression of freedom."


"But you would have --" Tim laughs, quietly, and stares at
the 's' which isn't -- which *is*. For certain values of the
two of them, and the space between. "I have a need --
which you could fill. If you wished."

Clark's hands are still against his own, and his fingers don't
clench against or between Tim's own. His smile is... almost
certainly as sad as it should be. Clark -- has responsibilities.
It's just that the smile is also as hungry as it should be. "If I
wished to transgress...?"

"You already have, Clark."

It's... more than a little frightening when Clark lets go of his
hands, and while there's a part of Tim's mind which insists
that it *shouldn't* be less so when Clark starts tracing his
way over Tim's uniform, starts *touching* --

"And I -- I have, as well. Clark --"

"You said..." Clark sucks a breath in through his teeth. "You
said there were things you would have from me, that you
would *take* --"

"Yes. *Yes*," and his fingers are thick, clumsy -- the
*gauntlet* is, the one that's still on, but it peels off easily
enough with his teeth -- "*Clark* --"

Clark's tongue on his palm, Clark's teeth finding the place
on his *right* hand which hadn't been buzzing before --

The cape is strangling him, and he knows how to *undo* it
with one hand, he does, it's just that it's not working --

It's on the floor, and the Fortress is *freezing* when Clark
pops the catches on his chest armor --

He's cold everywhere Clark isn't *touching* him, everywhere
the armor was chafing, Clark's hands aren't big enough,
Clark is whispering, saying, touching --

The belt's on the floor, and the floor is white --

The floor is blue --

The floor is red and gold and orange and Tim laughs,
«Bordellos are rather closer to First Age --»

And Clark's teeth on his lower lip are terrifying and gentle,
terrifyingly *gentle*, and it stops being amusing when Tim
starts to think, really *think*, about the fact that he can't
be sure if they're in a different part of the Fortress or if it's
just changing *around* them.

As opposed to all the other things it is. «This -- This is --»

«Tim Drake, Tim --»

He knows what he wants to say. He knows the *thought*
that's been in his head since the first time. This place's
potential, this place's --

If he says it in English, he has all the plausible deniability he
*can* have -- if not all he might wish. He might simply be
incoherent with -- with Clark's tongue on his neck, on his
chest, tracing the shapes of Jason's bruises, tracing --

«My brother -- I --»

"I *know*," and the sucking kiss is *painful*, and then it's
Clark's tongue and teeth, it's the color of the bruise -- the
color of the walls -- the taste --

«This place -- this place, Clark --»

The moan makes his hips jerk, turns the pain of the bruise
from a color to an itch to a pain to -- another sort of buzz,
a hum under his skin, reaching down through him --

Every place he still isn't touched.

«I would. Oh, Tim Drake, I would have you anywhere --»

Clark and Kal, Kal and Clark --

"I can't. I --"

"Don't stop," Tim says, and it's not quite like watching an --
*alien* hand to see his own fingers curling into Clark's hair,
his knuckles whitening as he *pulls*. It should be Jason.

It should --

«This place is -- is home. Kal-El, it's your home --»

«And so it is yours, my companion,» Clark says, and
stabs at Tim's navel with his tongue, driving in, making
something else inside him fail to decide if it wants to itch or
simply yank at the nebulous *something* surrounding his
spine, coiling at the base of his spine --

«Mine -- I -- no --»

"Yes, oh, Tim, say *yes* --"

«I *plead* --» He's jerking, *twitching*, coughing out a
scream --

"I *command*."

Those were Clark's teeth, bites up over his chest, his throat,
his -- cheek. Jason. *Jason* -- "You -- Clark, I --"

Clark's hands don't go all the way around his thighs, but
they should, it feels that way -- and moreso when Clark
spreads him, rises over him in purely human ways, stares
down *into* him --

"You *watched*?"

"I have need, bright-rising-one -- and so do you."

He can't move his legs, he can't -- and then he can, and
digging his knees against Clark's ribs makes him moan,
makes him cup Tim's face --

The blur is a kiss -- kisses. Soft and fast, wet and fast, soft
and *wet* -- «Your home. You are *home*, Tim Drake --»

"I have a home," and whether or not he's ignoring all of the
meanings *Clark* had intended, whether or not it's ridiculous
that it comes out so *steadily* even as he's curling one knee
over Clark's *shoulder* --

«You have another, my ally, my brother, my freedom,
most-desired --» "-- my *friend*."

And Clark's strength is not inhuman, not really, when he
slips his hands under Tim's ass and lifts him against himself,
and his whispers are not --


"Yes," he says, and he can -- he can have anything, truly,
right here. In this place. That is --

That's what home means.

"Anything -- You would do anything for me --"

«My lover,» Kal says -- Clark --

And the first slide of Clark's naked dick against his own is
anticlimactic, but Clark's groan -- isn't.

«My -- vicious one, dangerous, lovely -- so bright --»

And his mind wants him to know that it's Kal, that the foot
that isn't over Kal's shoulder is dragging on the mattress
that isn't, that he doesn't know when the mattress appeared,
that the mattress isn't *there*, that they're floating above --

Kal is moving him, holding him, and his thumbs are ticklish
in the hollows of Tim's hips, avid and curious, possessive --

No moreso than his own hands, the sight of them clawing at
Clark's shoulders -- warm, *skin* -- before the feel registers
as any more than warm, right --

The sound of himself crying out when Clark holds him still,
when --

"Oh -- *yes* --"

When he starts to *thrust*.


They are --

They are awake, and in something which feels more like a
bed than it looks like one. The room is hot and close, but
the scents are no more obvious than the ones in, just as an
example, Tim's living room several hours after he and
Jason -- after.

Kryptonian filtering.

It's an invitation, suggestive and coaxing and *taunting*, to
turn toward, to move closer, even though Kal's hand is on
his chest and Kal's leg is spreading his own, holding his
thighs apart.

Even though Clark has not stopped tracing random, soft
patterns on his skin since they'd gotten into this position.

Even though some of Kal's tracings are letters.


«Are you...» He doesn't know how to finish the
sentence -- no. It's quite simple. 'Are you troubled-hurt.'
During the more turbulent dynasties, it was a standard
greeting between companions.

These are not those times, and he is no more Kryptonian...
than Clark Kent.

When he laughs, Kal's fingers find his mouth, and hold it
still for Clark's hungry mouth. Hungry --

He is. He's.

«Kal, I --»

"No," Clark says, and doesn't resist when Tim pushes him
away. When Tim crawls on top of him, and stares, and
breathes -- he's panting again, just that fast. Clark shakes
his head, and there's no clarity in it, not with the feel of
Clark's warm, smooth palms cupping his cheeks, of his
own teeth failing to do anything *like* sinking in against the
skin of Kal's fingertips.

Clark cups the back of Tim's head, and Tim closes his eyes
and sucks hard until Clark stops resisting and slides his
fingers to the back of Tim's throat.

Thickness and tickle, *itch* --

Weight and the safety of Clark's palm, the stretch of his own
mouth --

«Lover,» he says, "there is so much -- and so much


"And yet I am soothed by the mutuality of our transgression,
bright-rising-one, Tim Drake, *lover* --"

Yes, Tim thinks, and yanks on Kal's wrist until he pulls his
fingers back out, until Tim is empty, obvious, animal --

Until he can scrabble and crawl down between Clark's thighs.

«My lover,» Tim says, «this -- I --»

Flamebird doesn't growl, but Tim does as he bends his head,
and as he goes down, and down, and down until Kal chokes
his growl into near-perfect silence.

«Most -- most-*desired* --»

As perfect as they can get.


"You've said about five words to me in the past week that
weren't 'fuck,' 'harder,' 'don't,' 'stop,' and 'suck.'"

He's not counting patrols, of course. "You shouldn't forget
'me,'" Tim says, and doesn't look up from his work-table.
The trick isn't perfecting a wireless mask-feed -- Oracle had
shown him her early work on it years ago.

The *trick* -- now as then -- is to make one which can stand
up to the usual punishment and 'translate' information into
something which can be integrated on the fly *without*
something human back at the base and an audio-link.

He's beginning to become reasonably sure that there was a
reason -- other than lack of time/forethought -- why no one
really had anything of the kind without the cybernetics he's
still supposed to be avoiding --

And Jason is still there.

It makes the soldering goggles on his face feel more like
thick glasses, or perhaps the first part of a very cheap 'Grey'
costume. "I -- I could point out a similar lack, Jason."

"Hunh," Jason says, and slips his fingers between the back
of Tim's chair and Tim's... back. It's a reminder that he isn't
wearing any armor save for the gauntlets currently
protecting him from the occasional shock.

It takes too long for his body to decide whether Jason's
fingers are warm or if he's simply cold.

"Guess I'm a hypocrite," and Tim's chair begins to arc back
and forth and back under Jason's hand.

"It's good to recognize your faults." It has, of course, been
just about a week since they all visited the Fortress.

Jason... flicks the back of his neck. With his fingers.

Tim raises an eyebrow under the goggles. "I have a bra that
might fit you -- mix-up with the supplier -- if you want me
to snap the straps."

Jason snorts and spins Tim's chair all the way around, until
Tim is facing...

For a moment it seems strange that he hasn't sucked Jason
off in this position -- Tim is fond of the 'chairs' the Fortress
provides, as Kal has yet to convince the AI that not all
humans actively *require* constant, perfect lumbar
support -- but then Tim remembers that he's fond of *this*
chair, and that it probably wouldn't survive the process.

"*May* I be of assistance, Jason?"

"Yeah, I was thinking maybe *noogies*, but, you know,
that's more Dick's thing."

"What's more my thing?" Dick is standing in the doorway,
and has been for... some desperately indeterminable period
of time.

Jason stands straighter, removing the ambiguity of his
slightly spread thighs. Tim pushes back the goggles.

"Noogies," Jason says, and it sounds a little like there should
be a 'sir' in there.

It's not an unfamiliar sensation, these days, in terms of either
Jason's conversations with Dick or his own. Tim doesn't
resist the urge to sit straighter, even though it's Flamebird's
smile he puts on. "I believe Jason was considering an act of
brotherly bonding, Dick."

"Man, totally more than one."

Dick looks at both of them for -- just -- a little too long, and
then his smile is nearly wide and bright enough to make the
time seem irrelevant. "I really don't know what I'd do
without you guys," Dick says, and his smile gets --

As bright as a good-bye, apparently, because he's moving
away from the doorway again. And closing the door behind

"Fuck," Jason says, "if you'd told me Dick would *ever*

Tim could've. He would've, given the opportunity. Granted,
that opportunity would've had to include the time for Tim
to explain it to *himself* beyond the comfortably fictional
bounds of his sixteenth birthday manifesto...

Had Bruce ever read it? The fact that Tim hadn't explicitly
*given* it to the man was no barrier, truly, and...

And there's no reason to keep staring at the door. He.

He turns back to his desk, and smacks Jason's hand away
when he reaches for Tim's goggles, and doesn't when he
reaches for Tim's shoulder.

Without the armor, Jason's hand is warm, rough, and
nothing like Kal's. Tim breathes. "I wouldn't mind a...
spar. When I'm done."

Jason is silent with everything save his gaze. It makes Tim's
jaw feel tight, and the space between his shoulder-blades
almost *hurt* with itch, and.

And he's not sure. When he looks up, Jason is looking at
him, of course. It's just that it's not a look he knows. It's
something he'll have to...

Have to.


The blankness of Jason's expression is a question now, but
Tim is.

Tim thinks he may have developed a fear of answers. And,
after a moment--

"Yeah, I could go for a spar," Jason says, and the smile on
his face is Jay's, sharp and (vicious, dangerous, lovely).

"I -- good. That's --"

"Yeah. It's --" Jason snorts and scrubs a hand back through
his hair. "Find me at the Gamestation, man."

«Yes,» Tim thinks, and nods.