by Te
February 20, 2004

Disclaimers: Still so very not mine, dammit.

Spoilers: Vague AU ones up through Teen Titans #8.
Dances through the "Hush" storyline a bit, too, and
works in the Planetary/Batman crossover "Night on

Summary: Dickens says: "Change begets change."

Ratings Note/Warnings: NC-17. Content some
readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Fourth in the Black Sky series.
Kicks off directly after "As absolute as death." Not,
actually the end.

Acknowledgments: To Jack and lcsbanana for
audiencing and many, many helpful suggestions.


This Kon... isn't what Tim would have expected.

Which may very well be the most mind-bogglingly
idiotic thought he's ever had, really, because why
*would* he be?

He hadn't given a lot of thought to how the people
in his life would react to his death, beyond it being
something to make him try *harder* in terms of
Batman and his father. There's just too much there,
too many things that could go wrong, and his death
would just mean that there'd be no way he could

He knows himself well enough to know pretty much
where all of his huge, impossible-to-deal-with issues
are, and there's just no reason to dwell on them.
There are too many --

He can feel Kon's -- *this* Kon's eyes on him, and
that's another stupid thought. The car Oracle had
sent is designed for just that. No real passenger
*side*, just a place in the back for the sidekick or
the prisoner and Bruce really should've given it a
partition. Something.

Every time Kon exhales particularly strongly Tim
can feel it on the back of his neck, and there are
so many reasons why he doesn't need that right

(You're not allowed to be afraid anymore)

He hadn't *finished* that damned letter. It wasn't
even a letter. It was... it was a *diary*, and he
knows *exactly* how much trouble a diary could
get a person into, and he'd trusted Alfred to

He'd trusted Alfred to make the best judgment he
could with the letters and everything else. His
letter to *Alfred* had included the express
permission to make any edits he felt would be
helpful, but he obviously, *obviously* hadn't. And
understanding why doesn't make any of this any

He stares at the console and calls up the traffic
indices, hoping to need to make a course
correction, but there's nothing. Even Gotham
streets empty out by three in the morning. He
bites back an incredibly irrational sigh and tries
not to shift. It's hard enough to keep his hands
from his mouth. His sore and kind-of-swollen-feeling
mouth, because they'd *kissed* and he'd never

He takes a deep breath. Maybe if the main controls
were in the back the car's design would be easier
to --

"Are you working or brooding?"

"Both," he says without thinking. Because it's Kon,
and he'd had way too much time to get used to
doing just that. Not thinking. Thinking too much
around Kon would get him in trouble, after all. And
he hadn't wanted to. He hadn't wanted anything to
get in the way of their friendship.

Not even him.

"I think I should be telling you to try to stop
brooding, but..."

Tim smiles at the smile in Kon's voice. He can't
help it. "You know me too well for that."

"That and I've missed it. Man, I missed watching you
*brood*, and I can't even think that's pathetic,
because --" Kon's hand ghosts over the back of Tim's
head before settling on his shoulder.

Tim can't breathe.


"Don't. We have to --"

"You have to know I -- God, I keep trying to tell
myself that you're *not* him, but you are. You are,
and I've spent the past six *months* thinking about
how many times I could have been kissing you --"

"That isn't all you were doing."

"What...?" And Kon laughs.

It's the same laugh, except for how... Tim doesn't

"You're trying to throw me off. God. Of *course*
you're trying to throw me off."

"No -- I -- you were working with *Oracle*. This is
something worth talking about." And it's the
absolute truth, no matter *how* weakly it comes

"Yeah. I guess... this must be weird for you."

Tim forces himself not to squeeze his eyes shut,
because... "Both of us."

Kon squeezes his shoulder, and that's enough,
that's *enough*, but then he presses his thumb
to the back of Tim's neck and starts to stroke. Up
over the collar of his cape and into his hair.


"I used to think about this. Just this. Giving you a
backrub or just a neckrub or something."

"Oh God --"

"You would get so *tense*, but you were also just
so *contained*. I was never sure if I *should* try
to touch you..."

Tim grabs for Kon's wrist, just meaning to pull it
away or... he can't let go. Or even move it. He has
to focus on breathing.

"Yeah. I know the answer to that, now." And Kon's
laugh isn't especially unkind, or even sardonic.

And that's an odd thought to have, even if he
*could* hold on to it.

"I know I should say something about how we
should talk about this -- about *us* --"

Flinching just makes Kon start rubbing his neck

"I don't think I'm going to be able to talk when I
get you alone again. And I will. We -- *you'll* do
your report to the others, and they'll do their
thing in figuring out what's going on, and then
we're going somewhere. Just us."

"This... isn't a conversation I ever thought we'd

"Tell me something I *don't* know. God, Tim... you
know, that -- that *other* me is slacking off in
Smallville right now, and the only thing that's
keeping me from being fucked up about *this* is
the fact that he might -- *might* -- not be thinking
about touching you right now."

Tim flinches again, but manages to pull Kon's hand
away from his skin. Kon *lets* him pull it away.

"Yeah, I don't know. Maybe it makes it worse. I
should probably care more."

"Kon --"

"We're here." And he slips his hand out of Tim's hold
and waits for Tim to set the canopy to retract.

Right. He's probably been *in* this one before.

Tim shakes it off and tries to get his thoughts in
something like order. By the time they're out of the
car, he can feel Batman moving beyond the range
of the lights. It's not like the Cave is *ever* all that
bright, and he isn't *surprised* that Batman would
have shut down everything but the bare necessities,

This would be easier if it was anything *but* Kon.

Who is looking at one exact spot in the shadows
and... it's a weird, twisted kind of smile.

"Man, you haven't looked at me like that since...
well." Kon shakes his head and tears off the mask.

Tim winces internally. Of course he doesn't need
the solvent. Batman steps out of the shadows, cowl
up and in full explain-this-right-now-or-die-trying
mode. Tim takes a breath. "The anomaly Oracle
mentioned tonight. The call she got from the
Watchtower. It was... um. I think it was... him."

"The clone."

Kon snorts beside him and leans casually back against
the car. "*Right* down memory lane."

Tim makes a concerted effort not to rub his temples,
and takes Kon's communicator out of his belt, tossing
it to Batman. "The Kon *we* know is back in
Smallville. This... He had this. Check the frequency."

Batman examines it with what probably only *looks*
like cursory attention before slipping it in his own
belt and looking at Tim again."

What else, right. "He was trying to get in touch with
all of us. All of *you*." Kon shifts beside him, and
it's an effort not to reach out. "He had our call-signs
and codes. Everything."


The question *isn't* directed at Tim, and Kon raises
an eyebrow. Tim expects a look, a question,
*something*, but... doesn't get it.

Kon straightens up and looks at Batman. "Because
in *my* universe, Luthor killed Tim and the Kents.
And after... you took me in, Bruce."

Tim watches Batman tense and swallows hard. "He
knew about... there are these letters I wrote. For...
Alfred has them."

Long, hard pause. "I know about the letters."

Right. "Um."

Batman turns and walks back into the shadows.
"Lights full. You... Superboy. Tell me *exactly*
what happened with Luthor."

And *now* Kon looks at him, but... Tim can't read it,
entirely. A question? An apology? "How much does
he know about Snapdragon?"

"I. You... I haven't told anyone."

"Because I told you not to."

"I --"

"*Now*," Batman snaps.

Tim watches Kon snap to attention, watches him turn
and follow Batman to the computers.

"It started the first time we were all at Titans

Tim closes his eyes behind the mask and leans back
against the car, listening.



"I can't decide if it's freakish or not that the room he
chose to put me in is the same one he picked back...
back home."

"*I* can't believe he's letting us patrol together." And
Tim really, really doesn't want to think about the rest
of it.

Kon grins, but not really at *him*, crouching a little
lower at the edge of the roof and scanning the
streets. "He *did* train me himself."

"And Batgirl, and Oracle, and Nightwing... Christ.
How did you *manage* that?"

Kon blinks. "You... I mean, weren't all of them...?"

"Well, yeah, but... not together. Not on *purpose*."

Kon is silent for a while, tracing random patterns over
the surface of a gargoyle. "I think... I mean.
Whatever happens, *don't* freak out and delete
those letters. I don't really know everything you said
to the others, but... I think they made a difference."

Tim snorts. "Good to know. I'll just walk in front of
a bullet and --"

Kon's on him just that fast, holding on with his hands
*and* the TK and glaring down at him. "Don't even
*joke* about that."

"Kon, hey --"

"You said you hoped that I didn't have a letter for
you. Well, I get that. Because you have no *idea*
how much that letter fucked me *up* --"

"I think I'm catching a clue."

Kon doesn't even crack a smile, face blank
everywhere but -- maybe -- behind that too-familiar
mask. Even the fact that it's red doesn't really
change how creepily *close* it is to his own.

At least he isn't wearing the cape tonight. "Kon."

"Yeah, you want me to let go. But I need to say
something first. The reason why those letters helped
everyone *else* is because you had everything you
*would* have had with them. Your family. Your
letter to me just made it really *fucking* clear that
we weren't finished."

"Nobody gets to finish."

"At least they get to *start*." And Kon leans in and
kisses him, hard and slow. *Too* hard right up
until Tim opens his mouth.

And then it's just slow and wet and deadly. Kon
tastes like Alfred's coffee and his tongue makes Tim
groan, makes him remember standing just inside
Kon's door -- of course he always left it open -- and
watching him sleep. Remember wanting to just
crawl in beside him and --

No. His Kon isn't the one kissing him.

But he still can't stop until Kon pushes him back,

"And that's the *other* reason why Batman has us
patrolling together. Theoretically, if we have
something specific to do I won't spend the whole
time trying to get you naked."

Patrol. Right.

Kon wipes Tim's mouth with his thumb, and Tim
does not catch the glove in his teeth and rip it off.
"Let's hit it."

Tim nods, shoots his line, and jumps.


It isn't the first time they've worked together, or
even the first time they've worked together in
Gotham. Officially, sure, but unofficially... there
had been any number of nights when he'd stopped
back at the Cave and gotten a *look*, either
because someone had told someone else that
Superboy was flying around the city and the news
had gotten back to Oracle -- and from there to
Batman -- or because Batman could just *smell*
it on him.

Whatever. Maybe he'd been smiling too much.

And anyway, it *feels* like the first time, because
this Kon... he's better. *His* Kon is good, but
*this* Kon is better, and it's obvious even *before*
they run into anything that needs them to stop it.

His body knows the feel of Kon's proximity (even
better now don't think about it), and he never once
*loses* it. Kon's flight pattern is always exact,
always *above* him, and he never...

There isn't even the *hint* that he might be
thinking of sky-tag, or anything else. It should be
a relief. It isn't.

Tim has to yank the armed robber's shoulder back
in place after he jabs too hard with his staff. There
probably won't be much soft tissue damage, but...
he's usually better at pulling his hits.

Kon watches him over the shoulder of the other as
he zip-strips the guy, but doesn't say anything until
they're moving again, and then only through the

"Are you all right?"

"Tell me that isn't a serious question."

"Don't fuck around, Robin."

"You..." Sound like Batman. Of *course* he does.
"It's nothing. I've got it."

"Good. Out."

And he's absolutely right, and Tim thinks it might
kill him. He *doesn't* make mistakes like that.
The reasons why... are just excuses.

The rest of the patrol is basically routine. Kon uses
his TK to *yank* a jumper back to the waiting arms
of a policewoman -- and he's going to ask about
*that* -- and Tim doesn't damage anything on the
mugger but his gun-hand. Oracle sends them to
help Huntress with what looks like the beginnings
of a nice little turf war, and the look she gives Kon
is priceless.

"Long story," Tim says, and Huntress snorts at him
before pulling off on her bike. "I need to remind
Batman to talk to her," he says, mostly to himself.

"It seemed to help."

"Right." He shoots off another line and heads east,
Kon flying above and behind. Watching his back.
It's easier when Tim doesn't have to look at him.

"Special projects tonight?"

"A couple of pros wound up at St. Michael's with a
few too many bruises."

"Going after the pimp?"

"Mostly seeing if any of them are willing to testify."

"Got it. Out."

They aren't. This isn't a shock. The pimp in question
is big enough that Tim would actually have to
*hurt* him to get him to listen to reason, and the
fact that it's tempting is just one more reason to put
it on his to-do list for Batman. But.

He watches Kon flirt with one of the pros and thinks
about it.

It doesn't take long for Kon to notice the look, and
he joins Tim in the alley. It's more than a little
reassuring in an entirely fucked-up way when Kon
slips his hand under Tim's cape to rest at the small
of his back and starts to lean. And when Tim has
to say, "wait. It's not that."

Kon's grin is the perfect mix of annoyed impatience
and affection right up until it isn't. "Business?"

"How much of the intimidation-without-actual-
violence stuff has Batman taught you?"

"For the pimp? I don't know. A lot of people still
don't recognize me back... home. I'd probably have
to smack the guy around some to get him to take
me seriously. Which is tempting, but --"

"Too tempting. All right, we'll leave it for Batman."

"Cool. Come with me."



"Kon --"

"*Our* patrol is over. And we still aren't finished."
Kon lifts them into the sky and flies them northeast,
and that's all Tim can tell because they're moving so
fast that Tim has to bury his face against Kon's suit
to protect himself from windburn.

He knows it's intentional. Kon hasn't done that --
*his* Kon hasn't done that for a long while.

And he's willing to bet *this* Kon doesn't do much
that isn't intentional anymore. If he ever did -- no.
That isn't fair.

They touch down on stone, and Tim looks around
to see... a graveyard. *This* graveyard, where
Bruce's parents are buried and Thomas Elliot isn't.
And where...

"This is where they put me, isn't it?"

"Not the most romantic place in the universe, but...
I wanted to see you here. I wanted to see you
*alive* here."

Tim crosses his arms under the cape. "Don't tell
me... don't tell me *exactly* where my grave is. I
don't think I really need more reasons to be

The look Kon gives him... Tim thinks it'll seem in
character in another day or two. He knows
himself -- it won't take much longer for his instincts
to catch up with his intellect. Kon's different now,
and that's just the way it is.

"I *did* want to talk to you."

"The stuff I can do now with my TK? Tell him... tell
Superboy that the more he works out *without* it,
the more control he'll have. The more *power* he'll
have." Kon shrugs and looks away. "Solar energy
recharges me like Superman, but it's not entirely
the same. The aura is the recharge-able battery, not
*me*, exactly. Keeping it up expends the energy.
The longer it *is* up, the less I can do."

"Batman had you training with the aura down."

Kon grins at him over his shoulder. "Batman's given
me more bruises than... anyone. Ever."

"That sounds about right. Kon... what do you call
yourself now?"

Kon looks away again. "Noticed that I called *him*
Superboy, did you? Color me shocked."

"Your call sign is 'K,' but..."

"They... the "family" calls me Kon. And they call
me 'K' when we're out on patrol, if they call me
anything at all. Everyone else... the reporters still call
me 'Superboy.' Batman says it always takes a while
for them to catch up. On the street... sometimes
they call me 'Robin.' I'm mostly past getting the
shakes when that happens."

Tim clenches his fists together to keep from
reaching out, and then remembers that he doesn't
have to. And then remembers that he maybe
*should* and... settles for moving closer. "I want
to apologize."

"For what?" It's a serious question.

Tim takes a breath. "For everything I ever did that
hurt you."

Kon shakes his head. "That isn't what you want to

And Tim has just enough time to tense before the
fist-of-nothing that's Kon's TK has him, lifting him
and turning him and Kon grabs him out of the sky,
cupping the back of his head and the back of his
*thigh*. And bending Tim's leg up around his own

"You were so keyed up you nearly crippled that
guy. Tell me this isn't why. Tell me you don't *want*
me so I can finally figure out whether I want to
punch you in the face or not."

"It *isn't* why." Tim covers Kon's scowl with his
hand. "Wait. I've been working with you for years.
Do you really think I haven't figured out how to
cope when I'm hard for you?"

Kon growls and pulls him in tighter. He isn't armored
the way the rest of them are, and he feels...

Tim closes his eyes behind the mask and gives
himself a three count. He has to *say* this. "You...
you're *different*. *That's* what's freaking me out,
because you're Kon and you're *not*, and that
takes some getting used to."

"You need time."

No. I don't know. "Yes."

"Don't lie to me. I swear, you will *not* lie to me."

"Why the *fuck* do you think this should be easy
for me?"

"Easy doesn't have anything to do with it, Tim."

"I didn't mean to *die*, dammit!"

"Fine. Then just tell me you were going to make
me fly you up to the roof of the barn or something
that day. Tell me you were going to stop fucking
around and pretending we were just a couple of
*really* good friends. That day. Or the next day.
Or a fucking *year* after that."

"I --"

"Tell me that you were planning to spend this
weekend fucking *him* at the Tower. He *wants*
you to. He's probably jerking off about it *right*
now and *hating* himself because you're the best
friend he ever had. Tell me you didn't *know* that."

"Let me go."

"Give me *one* reason to think that you're not just
doing your best to find another way to fucking
repress and *deny* and I will never touch you

Tim hears his breathing go ragged and can't do
anything about it. The best he can do is *not*
struggle against the hold Kon has on him, because
he knows it won't do any good. Because he knows
how good it will feel. Because. "I don't know who
you are," he says, and it comes out plaintive and

"Touch me."

He gasps and cups Kon's cheek. And kisses him to
keep from gasping again, but that just means he's
groaning. And Kon's grip doesn't get any gentler.
It just *moves*, and he thinks there'll be finger-
shaped bruises on his ass tomorrow.

And other bruises, too, if Kon grinds any harder.
He wants him to. He *wants* him to, and he cries
out into Kon's mouth and squeezes with his thighs
and --

Kon drops the TK. Drops the *aura*, and gravity
just makes Tim fight harder to hold on, biting
Kon's lip when he tries to pull away.

"Easy --"

"*Fuck* you --"

"Exactly." And Kon drops to his knees, grunting
once and laying them down on the roof of the
crypt. "Bite me again. *Touch* me --"

Tim hears himself whine high at the back of his
throat and tries and fails to get a good grip on
Kon's hair. Shoves him back and *off* him long
enough to get his gloves off. And Kon's hands are
expert on the cape and barely less so on Tim's
suit -- not so different from his own -- and the
night air is cool and damp and irrelevant.

Kon's mouth on his throat and Kon's gloved fingers
on his nipple, twisting it hard and *biting* him.

"Kon --"

Another kiss, and Kon pulls at the tunic until it's
hanging off one of Tim's arms and shoves up the
t-shirt, and Tim doesn't *know* Kon's suit, but
that's just another reason to touch him all over.

His skin is hot on Tim's hands, sleek over hard
muscle and it's good. It's almost --

Kon's tongue deep in his mouth for a second that
makes Tim want to choke, and then he pulls back,
hands sliding down Tim's arms, pushing the tunic
the rest of the way off and settling hard on his
wrists, pulling them over Tim's head and pressing
down hard.

"I thought you wanted me to touch you."

"You don't *know* what I want." And Kon's voice
is almost *strangled*, but it's absolutely clear.

"Show me."

And Kon shifts his grip on Tim's wrists to one hand
and brings the other down to his tights, and Tim
has just enough time to lift his hips before Kon
yanks the tights down with his shorts. He's gentler
with Tim's jockeys, but not much.

And then he just... stares.

"You said you wanted to show me everything. I
know this isn't what you meant."

"Not entirely."

"Don't move."

Kon lets him go and crawls backward on his knees,
pulling everything down to puddle around Tim's
boots and pushing his legs until Tim can plant his


"Oh God."

"*Do* it."

And Tim lets his knees fan open, biting his lip and
fighting not to close his eyes. "Take your mask off."
He wants to see this. He wants to see the *right*
face, even though it's not. Even though this is good
for all the wrong reasons.

Kon breathes out, and there's that weird sense of
*distance* that doesn't have anything to do with
motion. The aura is up again, and Kon rips the mask
off without a word, dropping the aura again and
stripping off his gloves. And sucks two fingers into
his mouth while watching Tim with a hunger that
makes it hard to breathe.


"Show me this, too."

And the first push knocks the breath out of Tim's
body, and the second makes him bite his lip hard
enough to taste blood, and the third is *deep*,
and Tim arches and whimpers --

"Don't fight me. Please don't fight me --"

"*Kon* --"

And Kon licks the palm of his other hand and wraps
it around Tim's dick, stroking him hard again and
then just *stroking* him, and Tim bucks into it. He
can't keep his eyes open. He can't --

"Oh God --"

Kon *twists* inside him and it burns and it hurts
and it's so good that the words fall apart into
shouts. "I want you so *bad*, Tim."

He presses his cheek against the cold grit of the stone
and works his hips, faster when the pain starts to
fade, and then just because it's too good. Kon's
hands. Kon's hands on him and in him and he can't
keep his own hands down anymore.

Has to reach out, has to *touch* Kon, trace the
bones of his face and the shape of his mouth. And
then there's wet heat around his fingers, and Tim
opens his eyes to see Kon sucking them. And
watching him.

He comes all over Kon's fist and shakes, grunting
when Kon pulls out and *yelling* when he slips
back in with his *other* hand, slick with Tim's
come and ruthless.

And he *has* lubricant in his belt, and he's willing
to bet Kon does, too, but this... he almost doesn't
want it. Because the more it hurts... no. He needs
to be healthy more than he needs this to hurt.

He slips his fingers out of Kon's mouth and reaches
for his belt, fumbling because Kon doesn't *stop*.
Twisting and stretching him open, or maybe just
fucking him because he wants to do it with *more*
than just his dick.

He gets the pocket open and Kon's free hand is
right there and Kon's barely *blinking*, mouth set
in a hard line even as Tim squeezes the slick over
his fingers.

And then Kon pulls out and switches hands *again*,
and even knowing that he would doesn't make it
less hot, doesn't make the feel of that slick-sticky
hand high on his thigh anything less than incredible.

*Possessive* is the word that comes to mind, and
he doesn't know whether to run screaming or beg.
He doesn't know if he even has the option, and it's
nothing like a surprise to feel himself start to
harden when that hand wraps around his dick

"Tell me you're ready, Tim."

He isn't. He won't be. "Do it."

Kon crooks his fingers hard, making Tim grind his
face into the stone of the crypt. "You used to be a
better liar."

"You just didn't know how... how to read me. And
I didn't lie."

"You didn't answer the right question."

Tim breathes, staring out at the gravestones.
There's a stretch of empty space not too far from
here, and he wonders... "I don't want to be ready
for you."

And Kon... pauses. "You really mean that. You --"

"Please don't stop."

Kon rubs his thumb along the underside of Tim's
dick. "And you mean that, too."


Kon starts stroking him again, slower this time, and
picks up the rhythm with the fingers in Tim's ass. It
makes him hot beneath his skin, prickling all over
until sweating is a relief.

And when Kon slips out this time, Tim forces himself
to breathe, forces himself into something like
steadiness, and doesn't try to hold back the moan
when Kon pushes in. Blunt and hot and *big* in him,
and the angle would be better if his pants weren't
around his ankles, but it's still...

"Tim," Kon says, quiet and hurt.


"You..." And Kon rocks his way in, slow and hard and
steady, rubbing hard circles over the head of Tim's
dick and lifting Tim's ass with his other hand until
Tim's half-settled over his thighs.

And then he's *in*, but there's no real pause before
Kon starts thrusting. Just a few shifts until the angle
is as good as it can be, and Kon settles his free hand
on Tim's hip and holds him still.



And Kon growls again and squeezes Tim's hip hard
for a moment before letting go and leaning in,
shifting the angle enough to make Tim gasp and
bracing his hand by Tim's face. "Look at me."

Kon's face is blank everywhere but his eyes.

"I..." But Kon kisses him instead of finishing, licks
his way into Tim's mouth and rocks his hips and

Tim cups Kon's face and Kon moans more, thrusting
hard enough to make Tim gasp again.

"Tim, please --"

"Harder --"

"I don't want to hurt you, Tim, I -- oh *God*."

Tim flexes around him again, and Kon stills and
shakes over him. Again and Kon gasps out
something that Tim can't translate. Again and Kon
bangs his fist against the crypt and pulls out
almost all the way before *slamming* back in.

"Damn it -- damn you --"

And Kon stops trying to stroke Tim's dick and just
braces himself above him and *fucks* him, hard
and fast, and every thrust makes it harder to
breathe, harder to see anything but this Kon
who's so beautiful, so perfect now, and so, so

I love you, he wants to say, and he wishes it
were *more* of a lie. Because then it would be
easier to *not* say it.

He settles for "Kon," and strokes his thumb over
the hard line of Kon's mouth.

And Kon whimpers and stills inside him, coming.

Tim strokes his cheek, but Kon jerks his head back
and doesn't look at him while he pulls out.

Tim stares up at the sky for a moment before
standing up, wincing at the ache in his ass and
the come on his thighs. Wanting... he doesn't
know what he wants.

On the upside, he's pretty sure *this* Kon won't
ever doubt that again.

It's not funny.

He dresses as quickly as he can, and by the time
the tunic is fastened Kon is holding Tim's cape.
Not holding it out to him, just... Tim swallows
and reaches out, and Kon hands it to him without
a word.

"Kon..." And what the hell is he supposed to say
here? What *can* he say? He's smart enough to
know that an apology would get him deservedly
killed, but that's about it.

"We should... get back to the Cave."

Tim nods, and watches Kon press his mask back

And when Kon lifts them into the sky, Tim holds
himself still.


Batman gives them the blankest possible look when
they get back, and the lack of comment just makes
Tim *feel* every bit of grit and dust on his cape. He
can't tell what Kon feels.

Tim clears his throat and very carefully doesn't
shuffle his feet. It's enough to cross his arms
beneath the cape.

"Anything I need to know about?"

"A pimp out by the docks needs a talking-to, but
that's about it."

Batman looks at Kon, but Kon doesn't add anything.

"Fine. We haven't gotten any more word on the
anomaly that brought you here, Superboy, but
Oracle is searching the League's database. Is
there anything you can think of that might help
narrow it down?"

"I... I'm not sure? I mean, there wasn't even
anyone on the street, and everything *looked*
normal. I didn't even know I wasn't... in my
universe until I saw Tim."

Tim drags his gaze up from the floor. "You said
your aura went strange for a moment."

Kon jerks beside him, but doesn't look at him.
"Yeah. It felt like... I don't know. The closest
thing I can come up with is the way it feels
when I work out for too long without it, and it
starts to come back on-line whether I want it to
or not, but... from the opposite direction, I

Tim frowns. "It *could've* just been a reaction to
whatever happened --"

"Or the aura might have triggered it in the first
place. Superboy... what *do* you know about the
aura? Is there anything about it in your training
that you haven't mentioned?"

Kon scrubs a hand back over his hair. "I... hell. I
send it *out* more. I use it as kind of an early
warning system when I can't see everything around
me. And then if I'm just patrolling and everything
looks quiet, I kind of... probe with it. Most of the
time these days I don't even realize I'm doing it
unless I hit something weird."

"Hmm," Batman says and turns back to the console.

"I'm here."

"Focus your search on metahumans with extra-sensory
awareness of some sort."


"Possibly not. I want a list of people who would
notice, in one way or another, if another metahuman
were reaching out *without* trying to touch

"You think the kid's aura set somebody off? Give me
some time. I swear, there are more of these people
every day." The blank mask turns. "No offense, kid."

Kon snorts and waves it off.

"Oracle out."

Tim shifts. "Maybe Manhunter might know

"He's already on it."

"Oh. I always --"

"Do you need me?" Kon isn't looking at anyone but
Batman, who doesn't -- quite -- pause.

"No. Get some rest."

Kon heads for the stairs silently, stripping as he
goes. Tim goes back to watching the floor, and
listens to Batman type for a minute.

"I... think I'm going to head home."



"I'm... not going to ask you what happened."


"But... Tim." There's a tension in Batman's shoulders
that Tim's come to associate with 'I'm pretty sure I'm
supposed to hug you, or something else unbelievably
awkward.' It settles out after a moment. "If you
can't work with him right now, I need to know."

Tim hugs himself harder under the cape. "He's not...
I don't think working with him will be a problem."

Batman stops typing, but doesn't turn around. "He's
Robin now."


"Are you..." Batman pushes the cowl back over his
head and looks at him with Bruce's eyes. "Get some

Tim nods and heads for his bike.


"Mmm, hello?" Kon's voice is thick and low with

"This line isn't secure."

"Give me a second to remember how I'm supposed
to respond to that... Tim. God, what time is it?"

Tim smiles against the receiver and shifts on the
bed enough to lean back against the wall... and
winces. He's going to have to be careful sitting
down for a while. "You don't want to know."

"Right. Of course not. So what's up? Are you

"Yeah, I'm... it's nothing important."

Kon yawns in his ear. "Good, because I'm not
actually awake."

"I just..."


"I wanted to hear your voice."

Tim listens to Kon breathe. It's easier than the
pound of his own heart.

"I'll... uh. I'll let you sleep."

"Tim, wait."


"Is there something... going on?"

I just had sex with the alternate version of you
from a universe where one of your biological
fathers killed me. "Something, yeah."

"I can be there in ten minutes."

"No, don't. I-- " Tim pinches the bridge of his nose
and tries again. "I just... it's complicated. I'll tell
you this weekend."

"Are you sure?" Kon doesn't sound asleep at all

I'm not sure of anything. And if he says that, Kon
will be at his window in *five* minutes. "Yeah, I'm

"Okay. I... hey, does this mean I can call you up in
the middle of the night when I want to hear *your*

Always. "Assuming I'm home..."

Kon laughs, open and bright. "Right. Maybe I'll just
page... your boss and tell him I need cuddle."

Tim manages his own laugh, but the thought is a lot
less funny than it was two days ago.

"Tim, man... you know you *can* call me anytime,
right? I want you to."

Tim bites his lip and holds the phone away from
his face until he can get his breathing under
control. His lip is sore, too.


"I'm here."

"Yeah, well... so am I, okay?"

"Okay," Tim says, and then just listens to Kon
breathe, because he can't think of anything else
that isn't too fucked up or just too true.

Eventually, Kon's breathing starts to slow, and he
listens a little longer.

"Good night, Kon," he whispers.


Tim hangs up the phone and stares at the ceiling,
waiting for sleep.


He makes it to the Tower on time, but Kon -- his
Kon -- doesn't. Kon... pretty much never does. Still,
their first official meeting isn't until after dinner this
weekend, and he knows Kon will come looking for
him when he *does* show up, and he knows Kon
will look for him here, sooner or later.

Tim walks a little further into the sunshine and
closes his eyes behind the mask, tilting his face up
into it and wondering if he should go ahead and
switch the lenses to UV protection and enjoy

He doesn't think being here should feel like as much
of a vacation as it does. Maybe the mayor will call
up with another supervillain for them to cart off to
Alcatraz and he can feel like he's doing something
other than running away.

Batman had sent him out with Batgirl last night. And
gone out with the other Kon *himself*. He hadn't
known whether to be relieved, jealous, or

He still doesn't.

At least Cassandra -- surprise -- hadn't wanted to

He knows that's probably why Batman did it.

There's a shadow at the edge of his vision, and Tim
feels himself wanting to smile. He lets it out.

"Detention again?"

"Detention. I haven't even been to school since...

Tim's eyes fly open behind the mask and he winces
at the glare. Kon -- the *other* Kon is there
hovering above and looking down. "You," he says

Kon smirks. "Me." He looks out at the Bay. "I haven't
been here since then, either. I'd forgotten how
pretty it is."

"Kon --"

"I wanted to talk to you."

"All right."

"I wanted..." Tim watches him clench his fists *hard*
and tenses, but when Kon lands, he keeps his

Just... watches him. And Tim watches right back.

"You're waiting for him, right?"


Kon nods and crosses his arms. He still isn't wearing
the cape. "I passed him a few minutes ago. He'll be
here soon."

"Did he --"

"See me?" Kon shrugs. "I doubt it. I'm faster now,
and I don't think he was paying attention."

Tim swallows. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Oracle tracked down a guy named John Black.
Opens localized holes in reality. I hadn't even heard
of him in my universe, and he's been quiet for a few
years here -- he lives in New Haven -- but... a few
years ago, he had an apartment down on Tenth."

"Where it happened." Tim pauses and thinks about
it. "You think he still lives there in your universe."

"Yeah. Chances are, I hit him with my aura and he
freaked out and zapped me. It makes as much
sense as anything."

"Do you... I mean..."

Kon stares hard at him for a long second. "You
were always, always quicker on the uptake than I
was, and you still are. Don't pretend different,

"You're going back."

"If I can. I'm headed up there with Batman when I
get back to Gotham."


"Don't apologize. Don't --" Kon scowls and turns
back to the Bay, and when Tim walks up and
touches his arm, he flinches.

But he doesn't pull away.

"I wanted you to know... I did it for you. Took the
Oath, put on the suit. I wanted to be closer to you,
and I wanted to *honor* you."

"You did."

Kon gives him a hard smile. "I know. And I figured
something out last night, when I was out there
with Batman. Wanna know what it is?"

No. "Yes."

Kon laughs. "Liar. I should stick around long enough
to warn *your* Kon what a fucking liar you are."

Tim doesn't flinch. "Maybe you should."

"Fuck, don't -- Don't do that, either." Kon turns and
cups his face in one hand. "It doesn't make a
difference. It *won't* make a difference to him."

"Then what --"

"Look. I..." Kon brushes his thumb over the lower
edge of Tim's mask. "You never took it off."


Kon nods slowly and sighs. "All right, I'm just going
to say it: Last night, when I was patrolling with
Batman, I figured out that somewhere along the
way that *this*, this whole thing with my mask, and
this suit, and everything else... it stopped being
*about* you."

Tim breathes around the hurt. "I think... I think
that's always the way it works."

Kon strokes the mask again. "Yeah. And
somewhere along the way I stopped being the
guy you're in love with, and somewhere along the
way I stopped... I love you, Tim, and I always

"But you died, and I... didn't. I was always going
to go back."

Crying behind a mask is painful, awkward, and
uncomfortable. He won't do it. "I know."

"Yeah. When did you figure it out? No, don't tell
me. You *were* always quicker."

Tim stares into Kon's mask. This close... this
close he can feel Kon's heat.

And when Kon kisses him, it's soft and slow and
tastes like Alfred's blueberry muffins.

"I love you," he breathes.

"Save it for *him*."

He blinks, and looks past Kon's shoulder to see...
Kon. Hovering just past the edge of the roof and
*staring*. "Oh, fuck."

"Yeah. Just try to be denial-boy *now*." Kon
smirks again. "I'll tell the family you said hello."

And then he's gone, up and out and fast enough to
be out of sight before Tim can catch his breath.

"Tim...? Was that...?"

Oh. Fuck.

Tim drops into a crouch and covers his face with his


.A bright blinding gift.