Only rise
by Te
November 9, 2005

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here belongs to me.

Spoilers: The timeline for this series stopped before
Countdown. So.

Summary: "How close are you to wringing your hands,

Ratings Note: Sex, as well as content some readers may
find disturbing.

Author's Note: Third in the Easy People series. Won't make
sense without the others. Starts concurrent with "When
we all lived in the forest" and proceeds from there.

Acknowledgments: To Betty, LC, Jam, and Petra for
audiencing and encouragement.


There's nothing of Conner in this place -- Tim's apartment,
if not his home.

To be fair, there's little enough of *Tim* here for the
casual -- or serious -- observer. There's almost certainly
something whimsical about how many of the security
controls are hidden behind a panel which is, in turn,
situated beneath a decidedly old-fashioned wood-cased
clock, but the whimsy would be ambiguous -- perhaps
even accidental -- to any sort of observer at all.

As would this moment.

There's nothing especially provocative about the way Tim
is standing -- neither facing Clark nor giving him his back.
Tim is also fully-dressed -- save for the cape puddled on
the couch.

There is nothing to tell anyone -- nearly anyone -- that the
two of them are here for anything but a 'business'
discussion. Or --

Certainly nothing more than a conversation.

It's only that Tim had called him -- called to him -- from
this place where he is alone. This place where he first
touched the young man in more than friendship, however
intimate -- and these things are always relative with
Bruce and everyone numbered in Bruce's family -- that
friendship had become.

It's only that the voice Tim had used to say his name --
and only that -- was not the one he tends to use when
wearing the suit.

It's only that Clark has been aware for a very long time -- as
has Tim -- that referring to himself as an 'observer' would
be laughably inadequate.

And so he allows himself several more fractions of a second
simply to enjoy being here, to enjoy knowing what's to
come, before saying, only:


He's not entirely sure whether the way Tim stiffens is a
response to the word or the hunger Clark isn't even
trying to keep from his tone, but it's still enough to give
him pause.

"Tim --"

"I -- I'm not sure. Entirely."

The word, then. Clark flies the handful of feet to Tim and
rests his hands on Tim's shoulders before allowing himself
to land, to feel this *particular* floor beneath his feet. "I
would be lying if I said I lacked suggestions."


The laugh is pure Bruce, and Clark is reasonably sure that
he will never have the opportunity to say anything of the
kind unless and until this aspect of their relationship
comes to an end. Clark settles for smiling, knowing their
positions will allow Tim to see it clearly with his admirable
peripheral vision.

"You could..."


"You could... share. Your suggestions."

He would like, very badly, to know whether or not a list
would make Tim more comfortable -- or perhaps simply
aroused to the point where 'comfort' became an
irrelevancy. But there are other things he would like even
more, and so Clark leans in close enough that saying
anything at all would make his lips brush against the
skin of Tim's ear.

"A whisper, Clark...?"

"If you'd like." The words are irrelevant, of course -- proven
by the way Tim shivers, just once. Clark has had a great
deal of time to... observe the way Tim never allows his hair
to brush his ears if he can at all help it, and to observe the
way Tim always, always stiffens when Conner -- no one
else -- moves close enough *to* whisper. The hallmarks
of a particular sensitivity.

"Clark --"

He exhales, purposefully, and lets himself stroke Tim's arms,
from the shoulders to the rough fingertips of Tim's
gauntlets. "Most of my suggestions involve the removal of
your clothes."

"Only most...?"

So sharp, so -- *sharp*, despite the pound of his heart that
Clark knows that *Tim* knows Clark can hear. Feel. He
feels the smile on his face shift to something even more
obvious and uses his right hand to reach up to Tim's chest
and stroke over the 'R'. The bladed portion feels
somewhat thinner than the rest. Colder in a way that Clark
can tell himself is a forgivably human absurdity. There is,
of course, no temperature shift. "I'm not immune to
iconography, Tim."

"Hn. So I've... deduced."

"Should I find the fact that you *are* still in uniform a

"I think..."

The pause is a maddening one, demanding the question of
whether or not Tim is aware of the precise *degree* of
temporal relativity Clark shares with the world's speedsters.
He *suspects* so... Which only leads to further questions.
The nature of a 'tease' when considered against Tim's
relative lack of sexual experience versus his extremely
extensive experience in comparative psychology.

"... not," Tim says, finally, and twists out of Clark's grip.

And begins to strip. Clark watches, openly --

And Tim blinks and lowers his own gaze. "Feel free," he
says, "to help."

And not to look...?

It's a question for another time, for some moment when he
hasn't been given explicit permission to strip Tim naked
and --

Well, he hasn't, actually, received explicit permission for
anything else, but there are no half-measures where Tim
is concerned. Only decisions made and held to, against
all emotional concerns. Even fear.

Perhaps especially fear.

The observation was originally Bruce's -- an answer to
Clark's confusion over why there could be another after...
after Jason. As such, it remains as purely correct as it
was three years ago. And it only takes a moment for Tim
to begin leaning into Clark's touches.

His eyes aren't fully closed -- even when Clark lifts him and
flies them both to the conveniently bare wall where some
other sort of person might have placed a television, or
photographs of loved ones. His mouth is open on one cry
after another, already almost impossibly incoherent and
heated, even though Clark has barely so much as stroked

"Why did you *wait* to call me, Tim?"

"There's -- oh *God* -- something to be said for internal
certainty -- *Clark* --"

He hears himself laughing and he hears himself saying
'yes,' and recognizes that his own capacity for coherence
is falling rapidly.

And when Clark pushes Tim's left knee up to his chest, Tim
responds by hooking the right leg around Clark's waist
and squeezing. A decision made.

Internal certainty.

There's a small and shameful -- and ultimately perverse --
part of Clark which wants to say or do something to
*shake* that certainty, to respond to the confusing mix
of fear and lust he can *feel* with something to give him
a higher ratio of one or the other, but the fact that he's
almost certain that he would be more likely to increase
Tim's fear than his arousal combines well enough with
the fact that Clark isn't entirely sure how well he'd cope
with losing the opportunity for this that he can use his
mouth for other, more useful things.

The sweat in the hollow of Tim's throat -- the sweat from
the patrol he had done and the sweat from *now*, *this*.

The terrifyingly powerful pound of Tim's pulse against his

His mouth.

His --

His *mouth*.

"You could consider letting me kiss you in a way that won't
*hurt* you --"

"No -- *more* --"

Tim's mouth won't bruise. Beyond that --

Beyond that is the undeniable fact that it feels wonderful
to kiss Tim *just* like this, to relax the controls he's used
almost constantly since he'd lost his virginity. His tongue
is moving too quickly in Tim's mouth. The force is too
great. The power is -- obvious.

It's not even a surprise that Tim prefers it this way. Tim is
never more closed to him than when Clark is doing his
level best to ape humanity. It's as suspicious to Tim as it
ever was to... Bruce.

He kisses the boy again and squeezes his shin -- a physical
reminder for both of them of their precise position, the
pornographic *necessity* of this, the intimacy and --

And Tim twists that leg free, trusting Clark to brace him
for long enough for Tim to get the leg over Clark's shoulder.

He does. He -- "Tim --"

"Just -- your hands. Your fingers. Please."

And Tim closes his eyes fully and the question of whether
or not it's trust or some other form of surrender is only
another goad.

The lubricant in Tim's belt is entirely adequate, and the
reflex to leave Tim braced and bent against the wall while
Clark retrieves it at speed is one Clark feels no reason to

The slickness of Clark's fingers makes Tim's eyes open
wide -- but only for a moment. When he closes them again,
there's a small and darkly amused smile on his face. The
only consolation is that it isn't nearly as bladed as a similar
expression on Bruce's face would be...

To a casual observer.

And it only takes a few short thrusts for the expression on
Tim's face to shift and melt into something softer and --
Clark suspects -- addictively open. He remembers,
helplessly, a number of times when he had overheard
Conner saying something terribly obvious -- and obviously
*fevered* -- about the acts which Tim enjoys. Their
number and breadth, their --

He wants to say it, too.

"You like this. You --"

Tim beats his own head on the wall and curls his fingers
into Clark's hair. The moderately tattered bandage on
Tim's left index finger scrapes Clark's scalp, and Tim bites
his lip --

"I like it, too --"

"*Clark* --"

"Quite -- a bit --"

"Hn -- God -- *fuck* --"

Tight --

So very --

"Tim --"

"Don't -- don't fucking *stop* --"

"After you come --"

"Don't *please* --"

"-- I want to taste you --"

Tim comes with a sudden violence that speaks of shock
and -- he doesn't know. He can't know anything especially
complicated right now. It's enough -- almost too much --
to see Tim holding his breath throughout the orgasm, to
hear the *silence* of the boy's orgasm from this close,
in this *place*.

Clark pushes and *moves* Tim, lifting him against the wall
until his penis -- still very hard -- is close enough to Clark's
mouth that he only needs to lean in.

"You're going to have to tell me when the sensitivity passes
enough for me to... indulge."

Hours. It's hours -- days --

Minutes. No more than two -- he knows this, inside, where
he has had decades to internalize human conceptions of
time -- before Tim says,

"Now --"

Warm. Salt. *Thick* --

"C -- Clark --"

Tim's thighs are shaking on Clark's shoulders, but his
hands aren't in Clark's hair anymore. It's a growing sort of
mystery, the question of where they are. One that gains
in relevance even as Clark can feel Tim getting closer --
*closer* -- in his mouth. Or perhaps it's just the desire to
tease that makes him pull off just *then* --

And just in time to see Tim begin to drag his fingernails
along the wall in a helpless sort of clawing scrape that
quickly becomes fist-pounding.


"I don't -- I'm not sure -- what I want --"

There could be a great deal there, if Clark were to allow it.
It's just that doing so would force him to stop, and that --

When he goes down again, Tim tightens the hold he has
on him with his thighs and punches the wall again. Both
hands and -- yes -- the thrust of his lean, hard hips.

Rising cries and sudden, jarring silence and Tim comes in
his mouth, arched and shaking.

Clark wants... much more.

"God, that -- that was --"

"Let me take you to bed, Tim."

Clark listens to Tim's breath hitch and he can almost --
almost -- feel the rush of conflicting? Thoughts through
Tim's head. He cups Tim's bottom and squeezes.

It makes Tim laugh nearly openly. "I'm going to need
another few minutes, you know."

"I'll strive to embody the virtue of patience."

"Any other virtues...?"

"I wasn't planning on it, no."

"Good to know," Tim says, and begins folding and twisting
himself enough that he can drop to the floor gracefully --
as soon as Clark moves.

He does.

After a moment.


There's some question of how to broach the subject with
Lois, even if there's no question whatsoever that it *will*
be broached, and tonight.

The first time -- the first time had left some degree of
question that there would be another time, after all. Even
with the pointed way Tim had... set the boundaries of their
new relationship.

An order to back away from Conner, with no explanation
as to why, followed by the deceptively simple touch of
Tim's hand on his own. In his heart, he had known that
Tim *would* eventually call him again, and call him,
specifically, for sex.

Still -- the ambiguity had to be acknowledged. He had done
so, and now that's over. Now --

Now he's begun something with Tim which, while it defies
easy classification is still something that cannot be kept
from Lois.

He just has to figure out *how* to say it -- or at least
begin the conversation. There has to be --

"How close are you to wringing your hands, Smallville?"

Clark blinks. Lois doesn't see it -- she's reading those parts
of today's Planet she had no part in crafting -- but it would
be fair to say she's fully aware of it. "Pardon?"

"You're dying to tell me *something*, Clark. I can practically
*smell* it."

"Are you sure your senses aren't telling you something
about the attempt at stroganoff, last night...?"

Lois grunts, shakes the paper out with a practiced flick of
her wrists, and folds it before leaning on the stack and
looking at him. "Clark."

"There's something --"

"You have to tell me. Yes. I *get* it. Now what is it?"


"Bruce *told* me where he keeps the Kryptonite ring, you

Clark narrows his eyes. "Lois --"


"I -- I'm sleeping with Robin."


"I -- just thought... I mean. You know that I don't like...
that we shouldn't..." He waves a hand, perhaps somewhat
feebly. "Secrets. Between us."

The expression on Lois' face is somewhere between
exasperated and fond. It's one he's been able to see in
his sleep for years, now.

"It's just -- I mean. You know that I --"

"That you love me, that the happiest moment of your life
was the seconds directly following the words 'pronounce
you man and wife,' etc., etc.?"

"Yes, and --"

"And that there's a Robin suit in my size in the back of
your bottom drawer?"

"I -- Lois -- it was just that one *time* --"

"And that the only *possible* response to this revelation I
could have *other* than 'and' is 'finally bagged one? Good
deal, Smallville?'"

"Finally -- you -- I mean -- Lois. You should know --"

"So you *did* with the first one?"

Clark feels himself blushing. "Well it was. I mean. It was a
very complicated time in both our lives --"

"I.e., before we started dating, which is why you *didn't*
tell me."

"Well. Yes."

"Even after the aforementioned 'just one time' with you
calling me 'Robin' while I was on my hands and knees."

"How much -- precisely -- are you enjoying this

The smile on Lois' face is sharp and -- and he's been told, in
the past, that he has a very specific 'type.' It wasn't a
surprise even then.

"I think you'd like him, actually," Clark tries.

"Is this where you tell me you've been harboring quiet little
Clark-fantasies about a threesome, Smallville?"

"I -- could you pass the Spotlight section?"

The smile gets that much sharper before she does.


There's a strange sort of familiarity to being around Conner
now. Beyond the visceral recognition of their biological --

'Similarities' is a laughable understatement, but, beyond
that, and beyond the ways in which his body *knows*
Conner's now, there's something else. Something which
has quite a lot to do with the rules placed on their
relationship -- and the fact that those rules came from
neither of *them*.

His life is being -- at least in part -- managed by a sixteen
year old high school dropout with an impressive amount of
martial arts training.

When he considers the matter, it's neither more nor less
strange -- or obscenely fitting to the lives they all lead --
than the fact that he shares a terribly obvious mutual
attraction with his clone.

One that he won't act on, no matter how -- he'd made a

The familiarity is hopelessly entangled with the surreality.

The familiarity is all in the way he feels both restless and
satisfied with Conner near, as though Conner were merely
just another close -- intimate -- ally in their never-ending
battle, as opposed to... everything else. Everything *less*.

It should be pathetic that sharing Tim with Conner has
made him feel so much closer to the boy. Certainly, their
mutual helplessness before Tim's curious and curiously
addictive methods of social control is a much better
reason to *feel* the intimacy.

Clark knows it isn't the reason, however, and that makes
him feel...

He isn't entirely sure. There's a lightness to it, however,
even with the seriousness of the conversation. None of
this -- none of this between *them* -- would exist if Tim
weren't far more injured, emotionally, than anyone
save Conner has been brave enough to notice, and speak

It isn't that Clark *hadn't* known ("Would you like to speak
to me about your father, Tim? Or St --" "No."). It's only
that he knows other things now, as well.

The taste of Tim, and the peculiarly sharp pleasure of
watching Tim move to protect *him* one night when one
of their rooftop conversations had been interrupted by
three fleeing armed robbers who had chosen precisely the
wrong escape route. Other things.

He promises Conner that he will do his best to help Tim,
as opposed to merely enjoying him, and it's both the truth
and something which allows the tension visible all over
Conner's body to relax.

He doesn't reach to touch before he leaves, nor does he
allow himself to so much as hint at how very aroused he
became listening to them make love in the Tower, or
about how very impatient he is for his own chance to be
inside Tim, or about how he certainly wouldn't mind if
Conner were there at the time.

He flies east, instead, and *up*, and then begins lazily fast
circuits of the globe, looking for ways in which he can help.

And waiting.


"I really *could* put on the Robin suit again if you wanted
me to, Smallville."

He has a moment to wonder if Lois had felt there to be
something 'off' about his most recent performance --
certainly *he'd* felt as passionate, as *grateful* as ever --
but when he turns to look into her eyes, that *particular*
variety of her very sharp smile is both on her face and
dancing behind her eyes. "Lois --"

"So I'm *curious*. Sue me."

"You're... curious? You've never... I mean, with my other...
er. That is to say..." He trails off, and waits for his cue.

She rolls her eyes at him, but the effect is somewhat
marred by the softly satisfied humming sound she makes
when she turns on her side to face him. "Years, Clark."


"Of *obsession*. Extremely obvious obsession, I might add."

"But -- you really want to *know*?"

Her response to this is merely a very pointed look, which,
when he gives the matter some thought, is entirely fair.

"All right. *What* do you want to know?"

"How *is* it?"

Clark cups Lois' cheek and indulges himself with the sort
of caress which she'd be utterly impatient with were she
not in the midst of interrogating him about something
rather very private, indeed. Marital compromise --

"Clark --"

-- has just as many limits as other forms of compromise.
"Intense. Surprising. Surprisingly intense. I..." He shrugs,
a little. This *is* new, and he's not sure how much detail
he's actually capable of. For a moment, he tries to
imagine the mirror to this conversation with Tim, but his
mind skitters away from the implausibility at around the
same time that Lois begins to frown at him.

"If you didn't think it would be good, then why did you *do*

Of course Lois knows him well enough that it would be
enough detail. "It's not that -- quite. It's just that there's
far more of a divide between Robin's... personality when
one isn't actively having sex with him than there is
between Robin's behavior in the uniform and out of it."

Another frown, but this one is thoughtful. "It was *his*
father who was murdered this summer. Wasn't it?"

"I... yes."

She nods slowly, shifting until she can rest her cheek on one
fist while tapping out a familiarly random pattern of rapid
consideration on her long, sleek thigh.

If he looks very closely, he can see the barest hint of her
most recent waxing growing out. He'll convince her to stop
doing that to herself at around the same time that Lois
retires from investigative reporting to take up baking as
a full-time occupation. He settles, as ever, for the small
and slightly petty satisfaction of his alliance with her
much-abused follicles.

"You don't think that -- *that* has anything to do with the

Clark thinks, for a moment, about the way Tim is -- and
has always been -- with Conner since their physical
relationship had begun . It's a transgressive moment, since
his relationship with Conner is something....

It's separate from everything else. Certainly from his
relationship with *Lois*.

"I... I have reason to believe it isn't."

"Then --"

He stops her with a hand on the curve of her hip. "If that
had been the case, I... I also have reason to believe it
would've happened *sooner*. And with a great deal less...

Lois snorts. "You make him sound like *Bruce*."

"I did *mention* that I thought you'd like him."

She swats him on the chest hard enough to sting her own
palm -- she gets very angry when he softens his muscles
to make such actions less painful for her -- and then
laughs. "You're a pervert, Smallville, and I love you."

"The feeling -- the feelings, even -- are entirely mutual."

She falls asleep the way she often does when they're
together, laughing softly in his arms. Clark kisses the part
in her hair, breathes her in, and focuses as much of his
hearing as he can on the small and human rhythms of her
body. The rush of blood in her veins, the slowing, steady
beat of her heart, the brush of skin on skin as she shifts
in her sleep.


The secret, private part of Lois he'd had no right to for so
long he thought he would lose his mind. It's something
he'd told her about not long after they began planning
their wedding, something *else* she knows about him.
She wouldn't be at all surprised by how very much he and
Dick had discussed her before making love, or that it had
been nearly as much as they'd discussed Bruce.

He smiles into her hair and closes his eyes.

And listens.


"I have to admit..."


The expression on Tim's face is so quietly, determinedly
serious that it almost demands a mask.

Clark traces a line entirely lacking in innocence over Tim's
cheeks and waits for him to finish the thought.

"The files -- Bruce's files -- on your relationship with... your
wife are as extensive as all the others."

Clark smiles. "I wouldn't expect anything less."

Tim nods, half-absently. "My observations gave me no
reason to contradict either his own or the conclusions he
made. And yet."

"And yet...?"

"You had sex with Dick at least once," Tim says, not even
bothering to watch for Clark's confirmation.

"Yes." If it's petty that he doesn't point out that it was
before his relationship with Lois truly existed -- let alone
grew serious -- then he will simply have to accept that
about himself.

"There've been... others?"

It's mostly a question for the sake of politesse -- this is
practically engraved in the casually confident set of Tim's
limbs, and the lines of his face -- but it's still a question.

Another nod, but the absence disappears entirely when
Tim scratches idly at his chest -- and at a bruise Clark had
left. The shift of expressions is more amusing than Clark
will ever, ever admit -- surprise followed by a narrow-eyed
sort of speculation followed by the complete absence of
expression, as Tim undoubtedly reminds himself that he's
naked, bruised, and, most importantly, *not* alone.

And Clark knows that the only reason that progression was
visible to the naked eye is that he has very little
compunction about using his powers around those people
who refuse to allow him even the semblance of humanity.

After a moment, Tim hums to himself in a brief,
self-directed laugh and then turns to look Clark in the eye.
"She knows?"

"Of course."

"Those files could use some adjustment."

"I'm sure Bruce would be grateful for the -- no, I can't
actually utter that sentence with a straight face."


Clark watches Tim shift and settle on his back, apparently
content with both the conversation and Clark's continued
presence... despite the fact that it's been nearly an hour
since they'd last had sex.

"It leads to another question, however. Another... theory.
Which could use confirmation or denial."

*Only* apparently. "Oh?"

"Does she know about you and *Conner*?"

It isn't the first time Tim has used Conner's human name
with him, and it's precisely as pointed as it's been every --
every -- other time. Clark closes his eyes.

"Hnn. Good to know my deductive abilities haven't
atrophied *entirely*."

"There is -- as you know -- nothing *to* know about my
relationship with Conner."


Touché. "Yes."

Tim nods, and inhales deeply -- and with an intriguing


"Would you mind if I... theorized a little more?"

Clark places his palm flat on Tim's chest and holds it there
in a primitive, half-conscious desire to steady and slow
the beat of his *own* heart. And then he gives up on
that and merely touches. "I could mention something
about how I've had fantasies along those very lines."

"Nudity and excessively personal questions?"

"We all have our kinks, Tim."

The smile is brief, deadly, aimed nowhere but the ceiling,
and entirely honest. "So we do."

"Go ahead," Clark says, unsurprised to hear a certain
increasingly familiar low roughness in his own voice.

"You're never especially Kryptonian with... your wife."

And you have no desire to say her name. "Oh?"

"It has no place within the boundaries of your relationship
with her. It's something which makes her uncomfortable --"


"-- or, perhaps, something which makes *you*
uncomfortable." Tim nods again. "Yes, that seems more
likely. Your wife wouldn't shrink from anything about
someone she cared about. Or much of anything at all, I
don't think."

"She'll be pleased to know of your admiration."

The shudder is brief and gratifying -- and a reprieve that
only lasts for the barest moment. "The question becomes
*why* you'd be so very hesitant to give that to her,
when you've clearly given everything else."

"And if it isn't a gift...?"

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Isn't it? Really, Clark, the idea of
*me* lecturing *you* on the importance of intimacy is
something which may very well turn the sky *green*."

"Then perhaps you should be careful." And he didn't want
to say anything like that aloud, but it's much too late.

The sharp *cold* hasn't left the lines of Tim's face, but
there's something very different in his eyes. "Perhaps I
should shift the topic to the question of why you've
apparently never had sex with Bruce? It seems less fraught,

Clark laughs ruefully. "You could forgive me for finding
myself known so well...?"

"Of course."

Something loosens inside Clark, releasing guilt and a sort
of hungry regret. There are many reasons why encouraging
Tim to talk about anything he's willing to is something
needful. Some of them aren't even selfish. "Continue with
the earlier topic, please."


And the question becomes: How to turn back the clock to
a bare two minutes ago without making Tim feel

The answer isn't difficult.

"I was neither lying nor exaggerating when I spoke of this
as being one of my fantasies, Tim. The fact that you're
even more... perceptive than I'd imagined doesn't make
me change my mind."

"You have a specific kink for me needling you?"

"Is *that* what you're doing?"

The exaggerated innocence makes Tim sneer with his
mouth and laugh with his eyes.

The sneer is remarkably easy to kiss. Thoroughly.
"Continue," Clark says, again, and watches Tim narrow
his eyes in a certain sort of *speculation* when Clark
doesn't soften the word into a request.

"All right," Tim says.

Do you want me to hold you down?

"As I was saying, the question becomes why you wouldn't
want to offer your wife such an integral part of yourself.
The theory I'm currently most satisfied with isn't that you
have any wish to deny her intimacy -- even though that's
what you're doing -- but that it's very important for you
to be *Clark* with her, and no one else."

"And why would that be...?"

"I... I was only ever allowed to be Robin with Stephanie for
a very long time, Clark."

It's not the offering of *that* name which makes what would
be a very ambiguous statement into an answer, but it
does add a rather large amount of emotional resonance.
Tim... understands. "No one is immune to self-doubt, I
think," Clark says, and remembers endless and far too
brief flights with Lois in his arms -- in *Superman's* arms,
remembers the desire to have her *know* him and the
fear that she would do just that. "It took some time for
me to believe Lois loved more than Superman."

Tim nods agreement. "But... I don't think that's the whole
of it."

"It would, of course, be terribly simplistic if it were," Clark
says, but this time Tim seems immune to his sarcasm.

"'Superman' isn't Kryptonian, either. I --" Tim blinks. "Does
Kon know that 'Conner' is meant to add *distance*? I
mean -- he knows, but -- does he. Does he understand...?"

"I... I think it's fair to say that you would know the
answer to that better than I."

Tim frowns, brushing Clark's hand away, sitting up, and
crossing his legs into a lotus position which manages to
look far more reflexive than calm. "Having Kon-El in your
home, in your school, in your *place* would probably be
somewhat intolerable, certainly goading. Control could
become... difficult. 'Conner Kent,' on the other hand...
he's never spent very much time in the Fortress."

It's not a question at all. "Tim --"

"Tell me something... Kal-El."

The arousal he'd dutifully banked after ejaculating in Tim's
mouth flares and rears with frightening intensity. "Yes," is
all he says.

"How much time," Tim says, turning a mocking --
*teasing* -- smile on him, "would *I* be allowed there?"

"That depends," and Clark sits up and tosses the sheets to
the foot of the bed before pulling Tim onto his lap.

There's an undeniable tension in Tim's lean, scarred
thighs -- but Tim only squeezes Clark with them. "Depends
on what, precisely?"

Clark places one hand back on Tim's chest to hold him
just so and slips the other between Tim's legs. And

"On -- on *what*?"

"On how much you'd like," Clark says, and slides two
fingers along Tim's cleft.

The hiss suggests pain. Tim's expression is nothing but

"Tim --"

"Fuck me."



It's been more than a week since he'd last spoken with any
member of Bruce's family other than Tim, and so, after
using speed and a satisfying amount of mathematics to
redirect a tidal wave near Hokkaido, he flies purposefully
low circles over Gotham.

This doesn't always lead to being contacted -- especially at
times like these, when Bruce's family is hurting so badly in
so many ways -- but it does often enough to make it a
useful tactic.

The fact that it's Bruce himself who eventually calls his
name almost certainly has as much to do with the family's
diaspora as it does with anything else.

It's gratifying, just the same.

"Batman," he says, landing on the roof Bruce has chosen.

Bruce grunts something which could, conceivably, be
considered a greeting and continues to crouch on the

The fact that Bruce isn't demanding a reason for Clark's
presence means that Bruce has something *he* wants to

Clark is reasonably sure he knows what that is. And they've
been friends for far too long for him to pretend he doesn't.
Not for this. Not after everything. "It would be wrong for
me to say that Robin is doing well... but I think he's

Bruce grunts again, and Clark pretends he's not looking at
the way Bruce closes his eyes behind the cowl.

It would be idiotic to even try to believe that Bruce isn't
fully aware of Clark's relationship with Tim. He imagines
Tim would find quite a few changes in the files on Bruce's
computer, were he to access them. Assuming they hadn't
simply been better censored -- better *secured* -- than
Tim had thought all along.

The fact that Bruce has neither said nor done anything
about it could almost certainly be filed under one or both
of those forbidden names. Bruce's most recent dead.


Clark remains unsure whether or not Bruce is aware of that
night with Dick -- they've certainly never discussed it.

And with Tim... there are other things.

"He misses you, you know."

Buried deep within the boy, driving, straining for
control against the cries, the pleasure Tim sees no reason
to hide from him, the abandon that feels so very much
like *trust*.

"Oh God, *Batman* -- I -- *shit* --"

"Shh, it's all right, it's all *right* --"

"No -- *no* --"

Muffled yells against his palm and explosive orgasm and,
not very much later at all,

"It's not -- it's not like *that*. I wouldn't -- not with him.
Not this."

"All right."

And Bruce is watching him, blank and remote.

Clark smiles ruefully. "I have reason to believe Robin feels
some degree of... conflict about that *particular* emotion."

Bruce grunts again and turns back to the city, but there's
humor in the eyes hidden behind the cowl.

And Bruce knows that *he* knows it.


Tim hesitates for a moment -- for the first time -- when
Clark kisses him. It's only a moment, but it makes it
extraordinarily necessary *not* to simply fly them both
to Tim's bed and have him immediately.

"You seem... surprised?"

The smile on Tim's face is rueful and freely offered. "I
didn't think you'd be quite so... eager. Again."

It's a rare -- singular -- and precious invitation for Clark to
lay Tim bare, something which Conner would undoubtedly
believe he should take. But... not yet. He pulls an especially
Clark Kent-ish expression onto his face, instead. "Really?
And here I'd been thinking of it as an opportunity to make
you wear one of Lois' teddies. I could have it in a

Tim actually pales for a moment before laughing in a way
that sounds precisely as hoarse and unfamiliar as, he
imagines, Tim's tears would.

Later, with Tim spread-eagled on his bed, on his stomach,
Clark uses the boy's refractory time to lick the sweat from
his back, to trace his tongue over scars and bruises. The
latter speak more of sex than of Tim's variety of
vigilantism, and thus speak very loudly indeed about the
boy's priorities.

And his kinks, of course.

The suck-marks are nearly all Clark's own. The fingertip-
shaped bruises, however...

And Tim, of course, knows precisely when Clark's tongue is
tracing one of the latter, as opposed to the former. It's in
the tension.

Clark lets it stay -- build -- between them for just long
enough to be sure that *Tim* won't say anything to break
it, if not to be sure of why. And then he says, "you make
him lose control."

The sigh releases far more of the tension than Clark would
have imagined. Abandon. "When he does... I do, as well."

"Desirable on a number of levels," Clark says, and lets Tim
feel the faintest scrape of his teeth.

"As you've probably guessed."

Clark feels the scrape become a smile. "I shouldn't be
surprised by how very *different* your... desires are, when
it comes to Conner and myself."

"I've never had the slightest bit of difficulty distinguishing
between you, shockingly enough."

"You've always been a remarkable young man, Mr. Drake."

"It's part of my charm, Mr. Kent."

"Indeed. Will you get on your knees for me?"



Tim looks back over his shoulder. The smile in his eyes is
both honest and humorless. "Does the choice of position
have anything to do with the fact that I managed to call
out 'Batman' at yet another inopportune moment?"

"Pillow-biting *can* be gratifying to watch..."

Tim snorts, but there's still no humor in it.

"But it's really just because I've wanted you this way for
quite some time."

Tim raises an eyebrow -- a request for confirmation.

Clark responds by sliding one hand up the center of Tim's
back until it rests with pointedly unambiguous possession
on the back of Tim's neck.

"I -- fuck, Clark." The terrible smiles are gone entirely,
just that fast.

"I have no problem whatsoever believing you when you say
that it *is* me you want in this position, Tim -- despite
certain distinctive moments to the contrary."

"Clark --"

"I am, however, going to want to discuss those moments...
eventually," he says, and squeezes.

"That seems -- fair..."

"I'd hoped you'd think so," Clark says, and doesn't make
either of them wait once Tim is on his knees --

"God --"

Once Tim is *ready* for him --

"*God* --"

Once Tim is -- growling with careful incoherence into the
pillow and nominally his own.


Clark has known for rather longer than he'd care to admit
that he need fly no closer than, say, South Dakota to be
able to hear clearly not only every word of one of Tim's
discussions with Conner in the Tower, but all of the
tantalizingly ambiguous background noises, as well.

And he's... curious.

That's only *somewhat* of a laughable understatement.

"... feel like such a fucking *girl* when we do this, man."


"*Just* kiss."

"Hnn. Well, I have to admit I'd had some hopes about later
on in the evening, but I'm open to exploring your feminine
side, Kon."

"God, you're such a fucking --"

Wet sounds -- more kissing -- and the slight creak of an
increasingly abused mattress. One of them had just
climbed atop the other. He can't say for sure which of
them --

"Oh yeah, yeah, just -- let me look at you, man."

Ah. It had been Tim.

"We've been working together all *day* --"

"You *know* that's not what I mean."

"I -- yes. Kon."

It's almost precisely the way Lois says his name, those
times when he's flown beyond her range of vision -- if
nowhere even remotely near to the range of his hearing.

"Yeah? What is it?"

Which makes it almost maddening that Conner can never
seem to *hear* it correctly. It's not the first time in recent
weeks Clark has wondered whether the order to give
Conner his space in terms of sexuality referred to *all*
aspects of the boy's relationship with Tim. Loopholes
could be very useful.

"I -- it's nothing, Kon. It's just... I --"

"Oh. *Oh*. God, Tim, I love you so fucking much. You
know that, right?"

He probably doesn't need to make use of it.

"Kon --"

"Tell me you *know* it."


"I do, Kon. I do."

To the east, a certain key turns in a certain lock, and Lois'
heels click across the tile of their entryway. And then
there's the precise sound of fine wool sliding over finer
silk before falling to the floor.

" -- sexiest thing I've ever seen, Tim, always, just --
*always* --"

" -- better be saving a *lot* of lives, Smallville."

Clark smiles and flies to Metropolis, devouring the precise
moment when Lois registers the feel of a hand cupping her
breast --

And the moment when Lois knows it's his own.

In the early days of their marriage, Clark had found it both
difficult and endlessly arousing to make love to Lois
against their front door. It had taken some time for the
intellectual knowledge that the door's city-standard
thickness made it impossible for anyone who wasn't actively
leaning against the door's other side to know what was
happening a bare handful of inches away to sink *in*.

Lois had been able to see the discomfort in his eyes, of
course, and had responded -- perhaps predictably -- by
goading him further.

Open shades, full lights. Packing picnic lunches for
various state parks around the country and eschewing

In some ways, her program of conditioning -- and torture --
had worked too well. A part of Clark misses being

The rest of him enjoys, as ever, her wildness and passion.
The moment -- so familiar and so perfectly wonderful --
when he can see precisely how *surprised* she is by
how much she enjoys him, yet again and even now.

And when she finally slows her hips -- long after the last
of her orgasms -- she laughs the same way she always
does at his stamina.

"One day, Smallville. One *day*."

"Lois..." This, at least, has not lost its discomfort. Every
human lover he has been with more than once has
expressed some variety of the same thing -- the desire to
wear *him* out, if only once.

The lovers he'd kept had, of course, been the ones who
were less frustrated than amused, but...

There was always some degree of frustration. Even with

"It's all *right*, Clark," she says, thumping his shoulder
with the heel of one palm and simultaneously doing her
level best to grind her sharp and lovely knees into his

"It's just --"

"Think of it this way, Smallville -- if I *could* keep going, I
could be having more great fucking sex *right now*."

"I --"

"I'm being *selfish*, you idiot."

Clark blinks.

Sometimes, Lois' laughter bears a striking resemblance to
the call of some predatory bird. He's never going to say
that out loud. It would only encourage her. "Did you
seriously *never* consider it that way?"

"Well," he says, shifting to allow Lois to stand again, "now
that you mention it..."

"Let me explain something to you, darling thick-headed
husband of mine."

"Yes, dearest viperous wife?"

Lois laughs again and throws her arms around Clark's neck,
tossing her hair -- damp and fragrant with sweat -- back
over one shoulder. Then she nips his chin.

"About the idea of 'again...'"

"What I was going to say, Clark, is this -- jealousy? Is for
women who aren't helplessly aware of the fact that their
husbands catalog every single beat of their *hearts* --
not to mention every appreciative glance tossed toward
some lovely young specimen of the male variety. My
glances, that is."

Clark scowls, mildly.

Lois raises an eyebrow at him.

For once, however, she loses the battle of their face-off as
her expression becomes rueful. "Of course, it *does*
make me wonder why you think I *should* be jealous --"

"I *don't* --"

"Or *would* be. I --" She stops, and just looks at him for a
moment long enough for Clark to wonder how welcome his
hands really are, just now, on the curves of her hips.
"Clark," she says, with exasperated love.


"You really *haven't* spent quite this much time with any
of the others, have you?"

Something else he hadn't considered. None of the others --
friends all, of course. He couldn't imagine making love to
anyone *not* a friend. -- had ever retained quite this
much appeal. It doesn't take much thought, however, to
figure out just why the length of this affair might give
Lois -- even Lois -- pause. "He reminds me of you."

"Just with a penis."

"I --"

"*You* said he reminded you of Bruce, Clark."

"He does."

This makes Lois blink -- a dubious victory, at best.

"I mean -- that is --"

"*I* remind you of Bruce?"

"Just... occasionally. Um."

Lois thumps him again. "I'm getting a Robin suit made in
*your* size, Smallville."

He can't say the thought had never crossed his mind.


"... given the question of my... more uncontrolled
exclamations some thought."

The voice is disorienting, considering both that Clark had
been *deeply* asleep for the first time in nearly two weeks
and the fact that his senses were still filled -- rightly --
with Lois, who is asleep beside him -- if no longer curled
in his arms.

The voice is, of course, Tim's.

Clark awakens, and considers flying to the panel where
he hides the various communicators he uses for
Superman's life -- and for all long-distance conversations.

And then he reconsiders, because the fact that Tim is
talking to him right now -- with Clark several hundred
miles away -- is about as much of a coincidence as Bruce's
emotional problems are simple.

He settles back against the pillows instead, and waits.

"I don't think anyone gets to be Robin without feeling at
least some degree of sexual and/or romantic attraction to
Bruce -- and I'm not an exception. Disillusionment on
one level doesn't always -- or often -- lead to a lessening
of emotional... intensity."

Certainly not in Clark's experience.

"Just the same... it's nothing I want from him. It wouldn't
make things between us any better, and whenever I try
to imagine actually having sex with the man, I wind up
feeling infinitely more queasy than aroused."

Even if Clark were there, he still wouldn't say anything at
all resembling the phrase 'familiarity breeds contempt.'

"Just the same, not even *I'm* good enough at denial to
believe there's nothing significant about calling Batman's
name while you're fucking me."


"It's just that it's equally significant, I think, that I don't use
the name 'Bruce.'"

Clark nods, slightly. Not enough to wake Lois, who, as
always, sleeps like a soldier.

"I -- it's... I think you can imagine how difficult this is, for

He can.

"But I owe this. And -- and I think you're also fully aware
of the fact that the slight, *slight* possibility that you're
not hearing every word is, at least, moderately helpful."

If he were there, he wouldn't be able to stop himself from
telling Tim that one of the things which Clark attracts the
most is the boy's ruthless inability to deceive himself,
given any chance whatsoever not to do so.

"So -- here it is. The relationship I had with my parents
before I began training to be Robin wasn't an especially
deep one. I didn't have any especially deep relationships
before then. None that existed outside of my own head."

One of the many goals Clark has is to get Tim and Dick in
the same room and keep them there until they, at the
very least, yell at each other a little.

"After my f-father came out of the coma, after my mother
was dead, this changed. But Bruce -- *Batman* -- was
still the first person who ever really knew me. And I...

"You know me very well, Clark. Whether you think you do
or not."

And how many people have you tried and failed to convince
of that fact, Tim? Clark stares at the ceiling, struggling
against the desire to focus even closer. Failing. Tim's
heart is pounding precisely as hard as he'd imagined. And
then there's something of a stutter, a hitching breath it
only takes a moment to recognize as aborted laughter,
and then --

"You know, the fact that I might as well be screaming
'Daddy' or something is extremely telling about both of

Clark bites his tongue viciously against the somewhat
hysterical laugh trying to escape.

"As is the fact that it would probably be *less* disturbing."

Very, very true.

"Good night, Clark. Give my regards to Lois... if you feel it
would be appropriate."

Clark listens to the sound of naked skin on cotton, and
doesn't find it remotely difficult to visualize the image of
Tim determinedly finding the position he finds both most
comfortable and most therapeutic to his tortured
muscles, determinedly closing his eyes, and determinedly
falling asleep.

With the depth and blamelessness of yet another soldier.

He listens to Tim breathe. For a time.


"Can I talk to you? When you get a chance."

The reflex to check his watch to see just how many
classes Conner is cutting in order to call him is something
he knows Conner would be utterly unsurprised by. And
which would doubtlessly goad Tim into the sort of 'needling'
which was far more reminiscent of having vital organs
pierced by dull knives than of anything else.

Still, neither of them can see him just now.

And he's alone in his new, vastly inferior 'office.' Again.

He finds Conner near the old, petrified tree, as he'd

And even though he really wants to say something about
the fact that Conner is cutting his last period, even *he*
had cut gym class every now and again. And if Conner
*isn't* aware of that fact, he has Tim to point it out.
Instead, he says, "You can always talk to me, Conner,"
and wonders when the boy will believe it. If he ever will.

"So... so, yeah. I think Tim's... he *is* chilling out a little
bit, I think. I mean, he's still fucked-up, but I'm starting to
figure out that that's kind of permanent."

"Some would say it was a prerequisite to Tim's *particular*
lifestyle. And family."

Clark has never been sure how to tell Conner how much
he enjoys being able to make him laugh, now and again.
This almost certainly has a lot to do with the fact that
Conner's laughter has always been one of the things
most viscerally familiar to Clark -- and thus most viscerally
disturbing, not long enough in the past. He settles for
smiling mildly.

And waiting.

"So... yeah. Whatever you're doing with him -- *don't*
tell me -- is totally working. I guess he can talk to you,
and that's good, because he apparently still can't talk to
anyone else about any of the shit that's -- *fuck*. He's
getting *better*, okay?"

"Conner --"

"But I'm *not*."

"I -- oh." Clark forces himself to take another -- *another*
step back.

"Yeah, man, '*oh*.' I've been trying to tell myself to just
deal, that it's not like Tim had ever made any promises
like *that* to me, that Tim *loves* me, even though he
can't fucking say it without -- without --"

"Conner, don't --"

Conner punches the tree once, twice. The fact that it
doesn't snap in two speaks volumes about the boy's
increased control. And his pain.


"How the fuck is this supposed to work, Clark? I *love*
him. I'm *in* love with him, and I'm an asshole and an
*idiot* for not figuring that out until *after* we were
already sleeping together -- after he made the first
fucking *move* -- but I still *am*, but he's fucking you.
He's fucking *you*."

"He's making love to you."

"I -- god fucking *dammit*, Clark --!"

It's a broken promise to reach out to Conner like this, to
pull him close and just hold on, but Clark thinks it might
just be a forgivable one.

"I'm not -- I'm not gonna fucking *cry* on you, Clark,"
Conner says into the material of Clark's uniform.

"I didn't think you would," Clark says as mildly as he can.
That's not what they do, and it's not what they have.

"I *know* he's making love to me. I *do*.

"It's just that it's fucking killing me that he doesn't *talk*
 to me."

And that he does talk to him. "You... if you could just give
him more time, Conner --"

"I *know*! I know that -- I know that, too, sometimes. I.
Shit." Conner pushes out of the hug and turns away,
scrubbing a hand over his hair.

Clark waits.

"Do you really want me to give him more time, Clark?"

("You really have no idea how much you underestimate
*Conner*, Clark.")

"Fuck. Does *he*?"


There's a certain entirely conscious lassitude that settles
into Tim's body after they have sex. The consciousness is
less about the physical than about the fact that Tim is
allowing him to see it, after so many months of smiles
hidden in shadow and touch reserved for thank-yous and

There is nothing Clark wants more, in this moment, than
to simply enjoy it. It's another sort of victory, after all,
and it's so very easy to see Lois' satisfaction in the
boneless drape of Tim's arm over Clark's abdomen. And
Bruce's eyes in the cut of Tim's lazy half-smile.

But there are other concerns.

"I... I spoke to Conner earlier," he says.

The smile grows -- unsurprisingly -- sharp. "Did you."

Clark closes his eyes for a moment and breathes. "I spoke
to Kon-El."

Tim actually blinks at that, and all trace of lassitude is
gone. "Tell me."

"I --"

"No. You don't. You don't have to." Tim closes his own
eyes. "I'm hurting him."


"I don't think I know how... I don't think I can stop."

Tim knows, of course, *precisely* how. "I... thought it
might be something like that."

"I was hating myself yesterday. Would you like to know

Clark fights back a wince and turns on his side to face
Tim, even though his eyes are still closed. "Tell me."

"Because just for a moment, I found myself thinking that
this -- all of it -- would be so much easier if the only
problem were that my father and my ex-girlfriend had
been murdered."

"Tim --"

"If the only thing wrong with *me* --"

"Don't do this --"

He's stopped by the look in Tim's eyes when he opens
them, hectic and wild. "Don't tell me it never crossed your
mind. I won't *believe* you."

That *what* crossed his mind? "I don't --"

"Don't you ever think there was a moment -- a long, long
moment -- when Bruce was ten or eleven years old when
he might have done something with his life which *didn't*
involve death, pain, and our old friend self-denial?

"Or maybe even a moment when Lois' father might have
decided to stay home for *just* long enough to drop a
hint -- a little one, even -- that there was something
about her which was intrinsically loveable? Something
which had nothing whatsoever to do with her power, her
intellect, *or* her tenacity?"

It's probably the first time since this has begun that Clark
has honestly not been even slightly sexually aroused in
Tim's presence. "And what all of the above might say
about me...?"

It's enough to soften the look in Tim's eyes, if not the tone
of his voice. "But you're just like us, Clark. Or are Jor-El
and Lara kicking back in the Fortress in *non*-holographic

Dull knives and desperately vital organs. Always.

It's a relief when Tim finally turns away from him again, if
not an especially proud-making one. "Kon has no idea how
lucky he is that his parent was a fucking test-tube. And I
hope to God he never does."

Clark lets the silence sit between them for a while.

"In short, stage two of the grieving process is coming along

Clark laughs helplessly. "Glad to hear it."

The smile on Tim's face is small, but true. "You're... really
remarkably easy to be around, Clark."

And I'm glad to be your friend, as well. "It's an integral
part of my charm."



He feels terribly silly in the Robin suit right up until Lois
stops smiling and tells him to bend over.

And then he feels something else entirely.


.Interlude: Let seed be grass.