by Te
April 17, 2005

Disclaimers: All belongs to DC.

Spoilers/Timeline: References the GK/TNBA episode "The
Demon Within," the JL episode "Twilight," and JL
Adventures #33. Takes place sometime between Gotham
Adventures and Batman Adventures v2.

Summary: It's nothing too out of the ordinary.

Ratings Note: Adults only.

Author's Note: Certain responses to "Shake and cough" --
especially Nonie's -- lodged in my brain and demanded I
write this, which is something of a prequel. Basically, the
question of who seduced whom.

Acknowledgments: To Jamjar and Jack for audiencing
and encouragement.


Mostly he's thinking, it's not a pass.

He's thinking about how much energy he really *doesn't*
have -- it was probably a bad idea to do his standard
patrol after running around with the Justice League, because
while Tim *is* in better shape than pretty much everyone
who doesn't have a 'Bat' or 'Night' to start off their names,
he's also the only one of them expected to put in a full
day at school five days a week. He's thinking about passing
*out*, and about the... *things* he's just spent the better
part of an hour avoiding and fighting, and how Blood --
definitely Blood now, no mistaking that for Etrigan --
seems pretty damned sure that it has *something* to do
with that *bigger* thing with Faust.

Definitely that, and also maybe a little bit about how it's
downright *weird* that Superman had just shown *up*
like that, rising up over the Gotham waterfront to lend a
hand and a few -- definitely useful -- laser eye beams, and
it's a little fucked-up that the only things (yes, *things*)
Tim has to attach zip-strips to are pretty much puddles,
but Blood is right there --

"Did you think you would bring Collectors to *justice*,

-- laughing at him, a little, and doing just about everything
short of blowing the non-existent smoke off his fingernails.
Which are really kind of long for a guy. Maybe the style was
different a thousand years ago.

A part of him -- the practical part which tends to make
Batman nod in grim approval and Batgirl settle into ignoring
him or doing her own thing -- is insisting that this is all to
the good, proof that he'd made the right call. The vigilante
equivalent of networking, or maybe 'outsourcing' would be
the better word.

The things he'd picked up from Faust's book had kept him --
and the League -- alive, but a) this is really *not* his area
of expertise, and b) if these *things* really had shown up
in response to his use (abuse?) of black magic, he kind of
wants to take it easy on using the stuff.

The last thing Gotham needs is for him to summon demons
or something.

Blood is looking at him like he knows exactly what he's
thinking and maybe *he's* thinking of being offended.
Superman -- *Clark* -- is just kind of looking. No, waiting.



Tim pulls on what's pretty much, at this point, his *other*
game face -- designed especially for dealing with allies --
and offers Blood his hand. "Thanks for the assist."
Everything's in there which is supposed to be -- the thanks,
the stress on the word 'assist,' and the dismissal implied
with everything from the tone of his voice to the pressure
he's putting on Blood's hand.

Just as if the guy can't turn him into a little red, black, and
gold toad where he stands. It's all about attitude.

Blood, for his part, gives him this funky little bow.

"At your service," he says, and starts to melt -- maybe
literally, Tim is *not* checking -- into the shadows. "Do
proffer my greetings to..." A pause for Blood to look at
Clark and measure him. "... your partner." Measure and
find him wanting.

Clark has a little smile for his boots.

Tim nods, and makes a command decision not to watch the
guy disappear. At this hour, in Gotham, it almost certainly
comes off as nothing more (or less) than professional
courtesy, which is... all to the good.

And *that* was definitely not a pass from Blood, not in any
way, shape, or form, which just brings Tim back to what
was originally on his mind, and the man -- the, heh,
*Superman* -- hanging out in touching distance.

And Tim knows how he *wants* to react to the guy's
presence, but he'd helped take down Felix Faust and save
Batman tonight, and while the *things* would've turned
him into a greasy smear if he hadn't had the foresight --
and ability -- to make the 'calling' part of Blood's calling
card in his belt really mean something, it'd still be a little
*much* to just stammer and blush again.

This is Gotham, not the Tower. "Air traffic a little stiff over
Jersey tonight, Superman?"


Tim sets his hands on his hips, and thinks about trying to
get his point across with a look, a la Batman. Maybe if
Clark *hadn't* saved his ass tonight. As it is... "You're
kinda far from the Tower. Or Metropolis, for that matter."

Clark blinks at him. "Ah. So I am," he says, and smiles like
he's the farmboy most people -- most *capes* -- actually
believe he is. "I was... in the neighborhood?"

It's the kind of thing which makes Tim feel like he ought to
have a little more experience, because it's a *familiar* little
social dance, but not all that familiar to *him*, yet. Two
capes in one cape's city. The really incredibly important
interpersonal *thing* which allows the League to exist,
instead of every hero having their own personal fiefdom.

He may be failing Civics, but he's kicking ass in History,
thank you, Alfred, very much. He definitely needs a nap.
He wonders if Bruce went home tonight. He doesn't think
so -- no matter *how* exhausted *he* had to be after
being Faust's mind-slave for a few days -- because if
he'd been in the area, he'd be here now.

And Clark clears his throat. "Am I... intruding?"

He knows what he wants to say -- it involves the blush he's
holding back by force of *will*. He knows what he
*should* say -- more of the social dance, with the
emphasis on how this is *Gotham*, and he's the ranking
Bat. "No," he says, instead, and lets himself laugh a little.
"Really not."

Clark smiles at him, looking directly into his eyes like the
mask isn't there, like he's actually using his X-Ray vision, and
that's never, ever going to stop being creepy, and never
mind the fact that Clark hasn't just seen him in civvies, but
in his fucking school *uniform*, and then smiles even
wider. "I'm glad. I stayed because we didn't really get a
chance to talk. Before."

And this is where that whole 'pass?' thing comes in,
because, on a normal night -- or a normally abnormal one --
*Tim* would've bet that 'I just want you to know, you're
welcome to visit the Tower *any* time. Or... or
Metropolis,' followed by his own smile and 'thanks,
Superman,' would've been, well, *enough*.

And everyone -- *everyone* -- knows Superman is friendly,
friendly enough that even the big, warm hand on Tim's
shoulder and how long it had *stayed* there would seem,
well, normal, but.

Clark is still looking at him. *Into* him. And Tim isn't
entirely sure *what* he's supposed to say at this point.

Or what he wants to. He clears his own throat, just to see,
and Clark... blinks.

Not like he's surprised or anything, more like he's just
*reminding* himself to do it, as opposed to just staring.

Tim raises an eyebrow. "Superman?"

"Yes," the man says, quiet and low, and, no, that had
definitely been a pass a few hours ago, and it's definitely
a pass *now*.

And maybe Tim's just tired, or maybe there's freaky black
magic residue clouding his mind or something, but, well,
it's not like he *doesn't* know how to respond to that kind
of thing. *This* kind of thing, with Superman looking at
him like he's thinking really, really hard about doing more
than looking. Interesting. Tim smiles. "So you'd like me
to... visit, sometime?"

For whatever reason, *that* makes Clark sort of... pull back.
Not *move*, or step or fly away, but definitely pull back.

But Tim doesn't really have time to regroup before Clark
offers his hand,

"It's late. May I offer you a ride back to the Manor?"

Tim stares at Clark's hand, mostly just *because*, for long
enough to watch Clark's fingers *twitch* just a little. No
need to regroup at all. Tim slaps Clark's palm with his own
and holds on. "Sure."


He doesn't really remember getting to bed this morning,
or, for that matter, getting dressed and going to school.
He's not really *awake* until third period, and while this
isn't especially rare, considering, it's all adding up to the
general feel of unreality of the past few days.

He's got one day's absence to make up for, and if he doesn't
spend the next three days busting his ass, he might get
benched this weekend for homework.

There's really nothing for it. He stays at school for lunch,
declines an offer to hit the locker room with the latest guy
his guidance counselor had tossed at him for the sake of
remedial tutoring -- and one day they're going to learn to
stop picking cute ones -- and gets on it.

Eight paragraphs into his lab report, he catches himself
writing up the Bat-standard report for last night's activities,
groans quietly enough not to disturb anyone else in the
computer lab, deletes, and starts over.

The worst part of it is that if he *hadn't* already written
the thing sometime before passing out this morning, there
would've been a small, subtle alarm going off on his 'watch'
all day.

He was probably rewriting whatever he'd actually submitted --
a sure sign that he's within one or two nights of
not-enough-sleep to actually get benched for *physical*
reasons. He'll have to be careful around Alfred until he's
back up to speed.


But Alfred is off doing some volunteer work with Leslie --
definitely *not* getting his mack on -- when Tim gets back
to the Manor, so there's nothing keeping him from
working out.

Well, after he checks the report he'd left for Bruce.
Surprisingly coherent, considering, though the bit about
'that demon guy wanted to say 'hey'' could definitely
stand a rewrite. He does, and hits the bars.

Somehow, it's night before he even realizes it, and Bruce is
ordering him to suit up and get in the plane.

Then there's that thing with the Ventriloquist, and even
though he manages to get home by two he's got another
hour of homework to do -- at *least* -- before he can

With everything -- and it really does feel like *everything* --
it's Sunday afternoon before he remembers that there's a
world outside of school and Gotham, and maybe possibly
an alien waiting for...

Well, what?

He's got -- *Bruce* has got -- all of Clark's contact
information carefully locked away from pretty much anyone
who isn't him or Babs, but how exactly is he supposed to
go *about* this?

He doesn't even know if there *is* a routine for this he
ought to be following, and even though Tim really doesn't
mind fucking with the rules, it's usually a good idea to
know what those rules *are* first.

And there's this part of him -- this really kind of *annoying*
part -- which keeps asking if he's *sure* Clark was hitting
on him, and anyway what does it matter if he *was*,
because he doesn't have to -- and it's not like --

There's that annoying part.

So he finishes his critical essay on The Sun Also
Rises, and actually gets within five hundred words
of the five thousand word minimum, and Sunday night?
Is dock night.

He and Babs bust up a coke shipment, and this includes a
bout of impromptu waterskiing, and the disappointing
proof that Babs' kevlar really doesn't get any tighter when

And the incredibly inspiring statement that the armor is hell
on her nipples. The part of him which is a good little
vigilante thinks about insulation and efficiency. The rest of
him really wants to go jerk off somewhere. It's another
twenty minutes before Babs heads off to do some solo
patrolling, and there's a half-burnt-out warehouse which
could use a deposit of his genetic material, except for
how Batman is right there, poking at a stain on the docks
which, at this point, pretty much matches the rest.

Except for how it doesn't, because they're on *this* dock,
and while there isn't really a smell or anything to help
remind Tim of just what had nearly killed him here, there
are... other things.

Kind of a skin-crawling sensation between his
shoulder-blades which isn't really doing a damned thing
to help the erection he's been sporting for an hour.

Batman isn't looking at him, but he says "Hmm" in Bruce's
voice and wipes... stuff off his gauntlets.

"You feel it, too?"

"Nothing," he says, and now he's looking at Tim *and*
using Batman's voice. "Your directions were quite good,

"Uh... okay?"

"I'm sending you to speak with Zatanna."

Tim blinks. "I thought we were just going to pretend that
black magic thing didn't happen."

Bruce's mouth twitches, but it doesn't really look like he's
*amused*. "I said 'speak' not 'train,' Robin. This sort of
thing is needlessly dangerous. As you should have
figured out by now."

"Well, *yeah*, but --"

"But the effects are lingering."

Eugh. Bruce is making it sound like an infection. "Blood
*did* say that it probably would."

This twitch *is* amused. "You'll like her. She has a
penchant for wearing fishnet stockings."



The scheduling works out so he catches Zatanna's show at
the Garden in New York City a few days later. He's not the
youngest person in the audience by a long road, but he's
pretty much the only teenaged boy with a box.

A woman somewhere between thirty and don't-ask gives
him the card for an escort service and a pinch on the cheek.
The usher assigned to his area disappears mysteriously
after the opening act -- some forgettable comic -- and
winds up replaced by a girl who's remarkably
well-informed about the controlling interests Bruce owns
in a couple of Manhattan theaters.

Better than *he* is, but it's always interesting to get hit on
by people who *just* see a Wayne heir.

It's an excellent opportunity to get free, no-questions-asked
drinks, but he *is* here on assignment. He lets the girl
shove a folder full of head-shots in his backpack and does
his best to try and figure out which tricks are illusions
and which... aren't.

There's a temptation to try and drum up that weird crawly
feeling between his shoulder-blades, but then Zatanna
sends a flight of doves directly at his *head*, and that
seems like more of a 'no' than a 'maybe.'

Backstage, it's cramped, hot, and incredibly hard to focus on
anything but the smell of Zatanna's sweat and her really
very *impressive* thighs, and the way the stockings kind of
look like really interesting bondage on those thighs right
up until she says,

"Eborp!" and jams him between the eyes with two fingers.

And then it's really hard to do anything but try to stay in his
own *skin*, because there are fingers -- hands -- in his
head, and eyes, and they're *looking* and seeing him
and everything's all pink and he knows the words to stop
that, he knows what he has to *do*, and even if it calls
up something -- something --

"Stop that, kiddo," Zatanna says in a perfectly normal
voice, and when Tim opens his eyes --

When he realizes they'd been closed and opens his eyes,
Zatanna's holding a mug of coffee and giving him a smirk.

Tim blinks and takes a sip of coffee. Lots of sugar, no milk.
"So. Uh..."

"Bruce really just throws you kids in the deep end, doesn't

There's a lot there he *could* protest, but mostly he just
wants his body to stop feeling like it's floating around the
ceiling, no matter what he *sees* it doing. He wants to
stop wanting to look up and check. He settles for saying,
"He didn't really have a part in... this," and drinking more

"So you just... what? Picked up a big, ominous-looking
grimoire and started reading?"

Tim frowns, but... well, yeah. He had. "It was for a case."

"And you didn't have *any* experienced magic users for
back-up?" She's rolling her wand over her knuckles like
she wants to beat him with it.

"We kinda didn't have a lot of *time*, Zatanna."

She snorts, gives the wand one last twirl, and lets it slip
back up her sleeve, and crosses her arms over her chest.
Under her breasts.

Tim honestly has no desire whatsoever to hit on her. She
might *touch* him again. "Look, I... well, what's the

Another snort. "The patient will live. The patient has just a
little too much natural talent -- and I'd dearly like to know
more about the patient's parents -- to go around using
powerful magics carelessly, because if the patient does,
the patient will get *burnt*. Possibly literally."

Right. "Well, I wasn't exactly *planning* on it --"

"Oh, no?" Zatanna crosses one leg over the other and cocks
her head. It's some other kind of magic that the top hat
stays in place. "So you *weren't* sending out a wave of
power at me while I was onstage tonight?"

Tim tightens his grip on the mug. "I -- I didn't really --"

"*Mean* to. Uh, huh. I get it. You just got this feeling like
maybe you *could* do something, and you picked up just
enough from -- do you even know which grimoire it
*was*? -- that you *could've*. And if I were a less trusting
soul, with less invested in keeping Bruce's friendship,
possibly I would've felt like it was necessary to do more
than just shock you out of what you didn't *mean* to do."

Tim winces. "Point taken."

"Right." Zatanna shakes her head. "Look, it's not your fault.
If the American education system were worth *anything*,
then you would've picked up on most of this just by the fact
that you could *understand* the grimoire. Certainly by the
fact that you could use the information *in* it." She
knocks the top hat off, folds it, and sets it on the vanity.
"You *are* still alive, which means some degree of
quick-thinking on your part in terms of avoiding the
creatures which *had* to have demanded a payment on the
loan of power they gave you to take on *Faust* of all
people --"

"I had help."

"You knew enough to *call* for help, which speaks well
for your chances. Look. Do you *want* this life?"

"*Fuck* no."

She pauses, one hand halfway through the fall of her hair,
and looks at him for the first time like he's actually there.
"That fast? That easily?"

"Y --"

"You don't want to know what your chances would be, or
ask me to be your teacher?"

No, no, and no. "Would I get my own fishnets?"

For a moment, she looks as though she's thinking of
ruffling his hair, and Tim can't -- quite -- hold back a
flinch. And Zatanna smiles.

"Ah. You're scared."

Tim frowns and stares at his coffee.

And he isn't fast enough to avoid the light kiss on his
forehead. "You *are* a smart boy... Robin. I thought I'd
have to work a lot harder to scare you off."


There's really no reason to stay in New York, especially
since he *knows* that the fact that Bruce wasn't able to
come with him just means that Alfred's probably hovering
somewhere nearby, waiting just in *case* he calls for a
pick-up, but he's also not really ready to head home.

It's not that he's freaked or anything. Not *that* freaked,

And it's not that he particularly wants to spend more time
in a city with Zatanna, either.


He hits a club that's all too willing to pay more attention to
the Wayne cachet than his age and just...

He never did this very much before he was Robin -- six
dollar drinks were just insane when you didn't have the
cash to pay for breakfast -- and he doesn't have anything
like the free time to do it a lot now. There's just something
*good*, something quieting inside to loosen his tie just so
and slip on the dance floor, to pretend he's just another
poor little rich boy with more money than responsibilities.

He dances with two girls who are probably stoned, one guy
who definitely is, and one person he'd need better
lighting -- or more contact than he's really looking for,
tonight -- to be sure of in any way.

The *eight* dollar drink is watered down enough not to
be cloying, and, by the time he leaves, he's worn out
enough to feel almost together, almost right.

Manhattan doesn't have gargoyles anywhere but the
tourist-trap churches, and these shoes suck for climbing,
but being on a rooftop is even better. Cool air and the sense
of being someplace close to where he actually belongs.

No matter what sort of... anything may be running through
his brain, or his blood.

A part of him wishes he'd asked if there was any way to
cut *off* the... the *magic*, but that's just stupid. If there
was, Bruce would've had Zatanna just *do* it. Or someone
else. He wonders, for the first time in years, what his
mother was like.

All he remembers is dark hair and the press of her ribs
against his cheek, really. He doesn't remember any more
now, and --


Superman is hovering just above the roof behind him
when he turns around -- he'd had to pause to give himself
time not to *whirl* around in surprise.

There's nothing on the man's face save for surprise at
seeing Tim here, which is definitely worth a little thought.
"What's up?"

"I..." Clark blushes. "I flew over Gotham tonight and didn't
hear... well. What brings you to New York?"

Because Tim had brought *Clark*. Really, really interesting.
"Hooked up with Zatanna for the night," he says, carefully
casual. "You were looking for me?"

"Zatanna...? I. Yes, well. I suppose I was." Clark lands,
light and strange as ever. "May I?"

When Tim nods, Clark crouches beside him and looks out
over the city.

"I was hoping..." Clark trails off, and stares at his boots.
Tim can see, barely, a rueful smile. "Did you have a good

Has it been that long? Hunh. "Busy, but okay. Nothing... too
much out of the ordinary. You?"

Clark looks up at him after a long moment, and his face is
mostly shadowed -- too much for Tim to really *see* the
man's eyes without the night-vision on the mask which is
still in his pack -- but he can still *feel* that look.

And it's officially kind of weird to just be... hanging *out*
with Clark, but maybe it just kind of goes with the
territory. All sorts of things do.

"Zatanna counts as 'not too much out of the ordinary?' You
lead an interesting life, Tim."

Tim snorts. "I guess."

"May I... may I ask?"

And Tim is blinking again, feeling slow and off, but he can
deal. If it was Bruce -- or anyone in his family -- they'd
already know, well, everything. But Clark doesn't, and...
yeah. "Just fallout from the Faust thing. The magic was
kind of..." He waves a hand. "Hanging around."

And then there's a hand on his face, and it's warm and Clark
is *close*. "Are you all right?"

"Uh... yeah? It's just..." And he doesn't really know what
he was planning to say there, since it's a little beyond him
to find the words for any of it. And also Clark is really

Because Clark wants... right.

It's New York, and there's no one around, and kissing Clark
doesn't feel any different from kissing anyone else,
including the surprised little noise Clark makes when Tim
slips his tongue in his mouth.

Of course, then it *does* feel different, because Clark's
mouth is hotter and *harder* than any Tim's ever felt, and
also Tim usually has no trouble marking the stretch of
time and movements between 'kissing a guy' and 'kissing
a guy from that guy's lap.' Clark's got one hand in his hair
and the other at the small of his back and Tim is seriously
wondering if it's possible to get your tongue bruised just
from making out.

If that's what he's doing.

"Oh. Tim. I..."

Yeah, that's what he's doing. "So I *did* call this right,

Clark is back to not looking at him again. "I --"

"Wanting to *talk* to me. Following me to a whole
*different* city -- ow."

Clark's hand is out of his hair again just that fast. *Almost*
like he'd never tightened his hold and *yanked*.

"Uh --"

"Sorry. I just." Hand back on his face, stroking his cheek,
tickling a little at his ear. "I know this isn't... appropriate,"
Clark says, and really shows no signs whatsoever of
moving the hand that's still on his back.

"You want me."

And it's still too dark to see, but... Clark is also too close for
Tim *not* to feel the way he's smiling. His breath tastes a
little like pretzels. "I think the better question is whether or
not you want *me*, Tim."

"Because if I do... you're right here."

Clark doesn't really *say* anything. Just breathes, and
strokes Tim's ear, and it's the kind of thing Tim can feel.
The kind of thing he *knows*, from one experience or
another. Because even though it's Superman, even though
it's *Clark*, the possibility of saying 'no' just seems pretty
unreal right now. Like a possibility which exists for some
other Tim in some other city.

And it's maybe a little freaky that one *kiss* would put him
here, but there's apparently a lot here on Clark's side of
things that he just hadn't been paying attention to, and
every fucking *second* that passes... "This is why you
wanted me to visit you?"

"Yes," Clark says, and now he's breathing against Tim's
throat, against the high, thick collar which really isn't there
at all right now, and he has to *say* something, even if
he's not really sure what he should.

"Kiss me again," works.

In a lot of ways.


It's not really a surprise that he can *feel* Bruce knowing
everything, or maybe just everything important, at
breakfast. It's just that he hadn't seen Bruce after getting
home this morning -- had, in fact, showered and passed
out with no sign that the man had gotten home from his
own patrol that night -- and it's not that he'd *forgotten*
Clark's hands on him, Clark's *mouth*, and his lips still
felt a little buzzy and sore --

It's not that it's a surprise, and it's *not* that he'd forgotten,
it's just that the last time Bruce had given him a look like
this at the breakfast table, he'd been caught making out
with a grateful not-victim-anymore while in his Robin suit.

And while he can sort of get how it probably seems like the
same thing... "I take it that Clark didn't show up
somewhere he was supposed to last night?"

"Zatanna mentioned his... surprising presence in New York,"
Bruce says, dry as his toast.

"He went to see Zatanna?"

"Apparently," Bruce says, sipping his fresh-squeezed orange
juice, "he was curious."

And this is where Batman says something that manages to
be both embarrassing and impossible to ignore ('Robin
has a reputation for many things. Taking sexual advantage
of mugging victims shouldn't be one of them,' would
work, just as an example), and then Bruce would smile at
him, and everything would fall into place.

It *was* kind of stupid and random to shove his hand
down Clark's tights, especially since all he'd really wanted
to do is crouch on a rooftop until he felt something like
normal again, and he actually has to *work* with the guy,
 although not all that often, and that actually might be a
little weird.

Weirder than the extracurricular activities in Dakota,
anyway, and that was already --

Bruce isn't saying anything, and neither is Batman.

Just... eating breakfast, while Tim eats his, and it's only
been a few minutes, but Bruce isn't even really looking at
him -- until he is.

Tim raises both eyebrows to keep from saying something
like "uh?" and waits.

"You might consider... a greater degree of conservatism in
your friendships, Tim."

Bruce is pretty much the only person in the world who can
make 'Tim' sound like 'Robin,' and also some variety of 'or
else,' but really... what? More conservative *how*?

But Bruce is already gone, and since it's a Bruce Wayne day,
it's a fair bet that Alfred is, too. And the Rolls.


School is school, which means that he feels like awarding
himself points when he doesn't collapse into hysterical
laughter during Civics class, or 'accidentally' injure any
member of the Brentwood ice hockey team. Alfred would
probably say something about how he should raise his
standards for personal behavior, but Alfred isn't around
for Tim to ask "what the *fuck*" about Bruce, so he
doesn't get to have room in his head today.

The Latin tutor's name is something short and whitebread,
like Rich or Brad. Tim can never quite remember, but it
doesn't really matter, because names aren't really
important to anything they do under the bleachers. As far
as the tutor is concerned, Tim's name may as well be 'Jesus.'

He uses five minutes of study hall to figure out where he is
in terms of his assignments, what he can slack on and
what he has to get done to ensure a good week's patrol --

And what *did* Zatanna tell Bruce? Was *she* spying?
With magic?

Is that something he could learn to --

And it feels kind of weird -- kind of *wrong* -- to slam
doors in his own head and *not* think about things, but
Tim's hoping he'll get used to it quickly. He doesn't -- he
really doesn't want to know.

And what the hell had she meant by *talent*?

In all honesty, the League *should* have someone like
Zatanna, if only so that he never would've had to...

Had he really *had* to, though? Wasn't there something
else he could've done? Some other way to take care of
business and get Bruce out of there and keep the League
from being magicked out of existence?

Once upon a time, he would've thought Batman would
*tell* him if there was anything like that, but even though
his training has never really stopped, it isn't *Bruce* who
teaches him these days, as opposed to just sort of pushing
him in the right direction when he leaves whatever path
he's supposed to be on, and... yeah.

He's in okay shape if he bails on Gotham for the afternoon.


Especially since a trip into Bludhaven just means a really
*intense* gymnastics workout before anything else. Tim's
pretty sure that *one* day Dick will actually trust that he's
doing his routines even with Dick out of town, instead of
making him prove it. For now, there's the fact that the
first hour of any given visit is devoted to him being perfect,
then more than perfect until his arms are shaking and he's
not really sure his legs are attached, and also there's hot
sand where his hips are supposed to be.

"Not bad, kid," Dick says, finally, and Tim sticks his
dismount for long enough to stagger off the mats and
toward a chair. If Dick wants to work him like a little bitch,
he can fucking well deal with sweat stains on his couch.

Though Tim's gonna stick to the damned leather. Again.

Dick brings him cold bottled water, helpfully dumping
some over his head first, and crouches in front of him.

"You're wiped. Talk."

Tim's also pretty sure that one day Dick will be convinced
that the interrogation techniques aren't *always* necessary
with him. Then again, that would probably involve some
therapy first. Tim sucks back half the bottle. "Dating.
Bruce." Tim waves a hand.

"Dating Bruce? Probably a bad idea. Also illegal. In *this*
state, anyway."

Tim snorts. "I was trying to be efficient, but clearly I
underestimated your capacity for stupid *and* disturbing

Dick goes into a graceful controlled fall kind of thing until
he's in a lazy half-lotus at Tim's feet. And smirking. "Better
work on that," he says, and drinks some of his own water.
"So did you bring home someone inappropriate? Maybe a

Tim rolls his eyes and heaves a nice, dramatic sigh. "I
don't know, Dick. It just makes me feel kind of cheap when
the Riddler says 'Robin' like that. I *know* he means you."

The 'sit and spin' is silent, but very much present.

Tim gives Dick a minute to make sure his point is made
before asking, "Are we done? Can you take me seriously

"Tough, tough call, kid --"


Dick punches his shin, lightly. "What's going on.

I hooked up with Superman, and now Bruce is being weird.
Kind of. Except that maybe I'm overreacting. Tim opens his
mouth, then closes it again. Somehow, he'd neglected to
pay attention to the fact that the whole thing might be a
little hard to put into words. "Um."

And Dick's giving him a narrow look.

Right. He can do this. "Just... most of the time Bruce doesn't
say anything when I hook up --"

"Except for when it's *wildly* inappropriate --"

Tim rolls his eyes. "I got it the *first* time, okay?"

Dick shakes his head and laughs a little. "If Bruce had ever
caught me fooling around with someone I saved in the
damned *Robin* suit, he would've... fuck, I don't even

Tim doesn't either, really. Something to never think about
some other never-happening day. "Anyway, most of the
time he doesn't say anything, and... I had reason to *think*
he wouldn't say anything this time, but..."

"He chewed you out?"

Tim shakes his head. "Not... not really. More like warned
me. Or something."

Dick's frowning at him.

"I *thought* he was pissed, but I can't tell who he's pissed
at, and I'm still not sure *why* he's pissed, or even if that
was a warning."

The frown stays on Dick's face for a while longer, and then
fades as he tosses his bottle from hand to hand. "So I'm
guessing there's a reason you didn't just say the... person's

Is there? What does he care if Dick knows? "Uh..."

Dick throws up his hands. "Hey, I'm not prying. It's your
life, no matter what Bruce says --"

"It's Superman. Clark."

Dick drops the bottle.

"Uh. I mean. We just... it wasn't serious," Tim says, and
watches Dick's water bottle roll across the hardwood floor
in order to focus on not babbling.

"You had sex with *Superman* and you're surprised Bruce
lost it?"

"He didn't really lose it, and it wasn't really --"

"Please, do *not* give me any of that Generation Z bullshit
about how it's not sex if you didn't wind up with a dick
somewhere other than your mouth -- God." Dick scrubs a
hand over his face. "And feel free to not elaborate. At all."

In a perfect world, Tim would be able to get to Dick's liquor
cabinet, fill his bottle with something flammable, and chug
it before Dick could stop him. Since it's *this* world, Tim
settles for nodding.

"You -- with *Superman*? Who's *how* old? Christ, Tim,
of course Bruce lost it."

And this is probably not the time to point out -- again --
that Bruce hadn't lost anything, really, and that was part of
the problem. Nor is it the time to point out that Bruce didn't
seem to have any problem with any of the other people
he's hooked up with, especially when he was being Tim
Drake, semi-dissolute Wayne heir, including the Braithewhite
twins' entirely useless nanny, who had to be at least thirty,
and anyway... anyway it's not the time. "Yeah," he says,
"you're right. What was I thinking?"

Dick snorts and shakes his head again and also punches
Tim's shin again. A little harder. "We need to get you a
bigger utility belt. The one you have now can't handle the
freaking *notches*."

Tim pulls on a good smirk.

"You spiked his milk, didn't you?"

Tim keeps the smirk in place.

"You've gotta be *careful* with these Leaguers, kiddo.
They're *fragile*."


The six-ten local back from Bludhaven is due in about
seven minutes, and Tim stops wondering if it's worth
shelling out for a paper with a blurry shot of Nightwing on
the front page when Superman -- Clark -- zips up beside
him in full Clark Kent gear, shoving those awful glasses up
on his nose even as all the tickets and trash settle after his

Tim checks, but no one's lost a hat. "Impressive," he says.

"The trick is to slip back under the sound barrier before I
enter the state."

Tim grins, a little helplessly. "I'll keep that in mind. What
can I do for you?"

"Ah, that is, well..." And the thing is, Clark had been doing
fine at the subterfuge thing -- folding his own newspaper,
adjusting his tie, watching for the train -- but now he really

If anyone were paying attention to them, it would be really
obvious that the moderately dorky guy in the terrible suit
was talking to -- *looking* at -- the underaged kid in the
rumpled private school uniform.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Except for how there apparently is, even if Tim's not
precisely sure what. And the expression on Clark's face is
somewhere between searching and horny. It shouldn't be
this easy to see that on Clark's face, even though he's kind
of wondering now how he used to miss it.

"Clark --"

"Yes. Tim."

"Hm." Tim makes a point of going back to searching for the
train himself before saying, "So how long was it?"

"I'm sorry?"

"That you wanted me." It's almost what he wants to ask.

"I've been attracted for quite some time. It's been... less
time since I admitted that to myself."

Tim nods slowly. "Bruce knows already, by the way."

"I --"

"Zatanna told him you were in New York last night." Last
night? It feels like a month ago. Except to his dick, which
thinks it was maybe a year ago, or some other really
ridiculously long period of time. And Tim can see Clark
blinking and adjusting his tie -- more -- out of the
corner of his eye.

"And that was enough...?" Clark chuckles softly. "Of course
it was. It would be a mistake to think he didn't keep...
close tabs on you."

A mistake for *Clark*, maybe. And anyway... "You don't?"

Clark smiles, rocking a little on his heels. "You have a
remarkably full schedule for... well."

A boy his age? Tim frowns, and tries to put it into some
kind of... no. For the most part, what he's *trying* to do
right now is decide whether he *wants* to try to put all of
this into some kind of context.

"I'm going to say something which is probably very
obvious," Clark says.

Tim nods toward the tracks.

"I came to see you. I wanted to see if -- I wanted to kiss
you again, and see where -- if anywhere -- that led."

"And see if maybe it was farther than *just* jerking each
other off?" And the words are so easy, so *clear*. They fall
right out of his mouth like it's *more* than just the words
that are easy, and Clark.

Clark is staring at him again, and he almost looks *angry*,
and it's really fucking difficult to keep up the pretense that
he's just one more commuter paying attention to nothing
at all, because Tim can *feel* that look.

He wants to turn around, if only so he can --

"You were working out. With... Dick," Clark says. And

And the idea of getting his bearings is just stupid and
maybe even actively insane, because Clark is smelling
him, and Clark is just...

It's something Tim was *used* to, or thought he was used
to. The way someone else being turned on could just flip a
switch in him, make him want it just as bad, if only to see
how bad *they* wanted it. How far they would go.

How far Clark will let *him* go.

Except that most of the time -- *every* other time -- Tim
knows how far it will go. This one wants to see if he'll say
something embarassing if she lets him inside her bra. That
one wants to prove that he's *really* gay, and not just
playing around, and thinks the only way to do it is to get
on his knees. This one will let him do anything, because
it's not like she's *his* nanny.

And that last is maybe *closest* to how this feels -- right
now, with the stink of the Bludhaven train station in his
nose and Clark's look burning (maybe *literally*) two hot
little holes into him, it's really hard to imagine Clark
saying no to anything.

It's just that it's also really hard to imagine saying no to
Clark. Superman.

Who really, really wants a piece.


It's funny, in a way. When Clark says 'Tim' sometimes, it
sounds like 'Robin,' too. Just in a completely different way
than Bruce does. "Yeah," he manages, and his throat is

"I don't. Want you to be uncomfortable."

The train will be here in two minutes, unless there's a delay
somewhere, and... and Tim turns and walks back toward
the steps leading down to the street, and he doesn't really
know where he's going, he just knows --

He just knows that it doesn't matter, because there's an arm
around his waist and some kind of fabric protecting him,
for the most part. They're in the sky and they're moving
*fast*, and even when they stop Clark holds him pressed
against his body, holds him still and *tight*, and it's hard
to breathe and that's as good an excuse as any for why
Tim *can't* breathe.

The kiss is a better one, because it's Clark's tongue opening
his mouth and the half-awareness that they're in some sort
of meadow somewhere, that there's no one around, that
Clark's fucking Tim's mouth with his tongue like a sneaky
thirteen year old and stroking Tim everywhere he can
reach like he hasn't done this before, except that it's not
like that at all.

Clark keeps saying his *name*, and also calling him Robin,
and Tim's going to maybe have bruises, because Clark
never holds on for long, but he keeps *squeezing*.

"Tim --"

"You want it --"

"I want *you* --"

"Oh, *fuck*, fuck --"

"Your *mouth*," and Clark is growling into his own, and
they're on the ground, and it's a little muddy under the
grass, and his clothes are gonna be shot, and that really
doesn't matter at *all* with Clark stripping him carefully
and licking him all over like some big cat.

And then Tim's hands are in Clark's hair, and Clark's licking
his dick, kissing and mouthing him and it takes about three
seconds to come. And about another five for Clark to just
stare at him.

Before he goes down again.


It doesn't really matter that his clothes are actually neater
than they were when he left Dick's place, and it doesn't
matter that it's his mandatory night off and so he *isn't*
late when he walks into the manor at eight-forty-five. He
can feel himself, and he can *smell* himself, and it
doesn't matter that Bruce is already gone for the night
and that Alfred doesn't really say... anything.

Tim showers, and does his homework, and passes out.


His cell phone is equipped with a panic button, and the
thing which *looks* like a battery is actually a small charge.
It was a present, as opposed to just something Bruce
decided Tim needed to have. Sometimes it can be hard to
tell the difference, because with Bruce, presents aren't just
for birthdays and holidays but, well.

A part of him is basically desperate for an excuse to use the
charge, because it *was* a present, and that means there's
enough explosive to do some damage.

He *knows* this.

It took weeks before the thing could ring without Tim
getting a little hard.

He's not sure why it's ringing *now*, but since he's in the
middle of his weekly bout of 'participate in class so as to
allay suspicion and unwanted attention,' he can't just whip
it out and check.

And then he has to convince Brad or Bill or whoever that it
would probably be a bad idea to come out, especially since
Tim hadn't really planned to attend the Winter Formal at all,
and then he has to use up yet another precious study hall
with the homework he didn't get done yesterday.

And lunch.

Still, there's no reason not to cut gym class.

He doesn't recognize the number in his call-back queue, but
the fact that it has a Metropolis area code is pretty damned

"Tim," Clark says, and Tim hadn't known that you *could*
hear smiles in people's voices. Still...

"So are we dating?"

Clark laughs, soft in his ear. "I had planned on asking if I
was being too... aggressive."

"You mean other than when you're licking me until I

Clark takes a breath. "I take it you're alone," he whispers.

Tim smirks. "I take it you're not."

"I have about fourteen seconds before this supply closet
gets visitors."

Tim snorts. "You ducked into a *closet*?"

"I saw your number," Clark says evenly. "I knew I'd want...

And maybe he's just going to go back to getting hard
every time this rings, but... "How *did* you get this

"I *am* an investigative reporter, Tim --"

"Oh, sorry, Mr. Kent! I... why are you in the closet?"

Tim doesn't recognize the other voice, but there *is* a lot
more noise in general all of a sudden.

"Why, Susan," Clark says, with a different and very *Kent*
smile in his voice. "That's private, don't you think?"

Tim covers his mouth to keep this laugh from reaching
whoever Susan is, and listens to the woman stammer.
And close the door behind her.

"Alone at last." The Clark-smile is back.

"Uh, huh..."

"I do have to go, but... think about what you want me to
do. How often you'd like to... see me."

It kind of makes his heart pound a little, because Tim
*knows* this isn't just a question of telling Clark to take it
easy on calling around dinnertime, or at least it should be.
For more reason than how 'calling' kind of has a different
meaning. But... "If I say 'anytime?'"

"Then I'll schedule things... accordingly."

Tim closes his eyes for a moment. "I'll keep that in mind,"
he says, and lets them stay closed. Notches in the Robin
belt. Right. "Bye, Clark."


Tim's mostly over the urge to strip and dive when he walks
along the cliffs -- he's *flown* over those rocks, and Bruce
still hasn't qualified him to steer the boat around them for
anything but dire emergencies -- it still feels pretty...

It's still *something* to be out here, especially at night. You
can smell a storm coming from miles away, *hours* away
out here, and it stops mattering that the manor is this huge,
hulking thing right behind him.

The ocean is right there, and the ocean makes everything
just as small and pointless and temporary as anything else.
Which is... nice, right now.

It's not that Bruce is giving him the silent treatment, he's
not Dick -- he *knows* he'd notice if Bruce *did*. They're
just not talking about *this*, and it...

It's the way working out in the Cave *feels* different, like
Bruce can look at him and tell everything he's been doing
with Clark, and it's just as reckless and unconservative as
he was worried about, even though Tim still doesn't *know* --

He thinks about it sometimes, trying to put it into words
Bruce can use, since he's nowhere near fucked-up enough
to try to put it into thoughts he would have. If Bruce was
a different person, maybe it would be something about
how Nina the Nanny is a woman, whereas Clark is... not.
It's closer to possible that it's about Clark being an alien,
or about him being, specifically, *Superman*.

Like maybe if Tim was having a long-distance-but-not-really
relationship with Green Lantern, it'd all be fine.

And there are other possibilities, too. Like maybe Bruce is
thinking about it in the same way Dick is -- he knows this
happens a lot more often than Dick thinks it does, he's
known that forever -- that it's *all* his fault, instead of
just a little.

When you have a superpowered alien being raised on a farm
by Norman Rockwell's wet dream of Middle-American
parents, you're not supposed to *expose* him to people like
Tim, less because the alien is fragile than because he'd
expect things. Expect more.

It would be easier, he thinks, if that was it. He *knows* how
to talk to Bruce about things like that, how to convince him
that he knows how to be good, because he does. Even
Gordon ruffles his hair sometimes, and there are still all
sorts of supervillains who underestimate him. But it's not,
because Bruce knows Clark as well as anyone.

Bruce had made a *point* of showing Tim the files about
the League's near-fatal trip to Apokolips that one time when
Brainiac and Darkseid teamed up, and the conclusions
sub-file was highlighted. Like, the entire thing. He hadn't
come out and *said* "always remember that Superman is
more dangerous than he appears," but he might as well

Sometimes Tim thinks that he never would've picked up on
Clark hitting on him in that not-really way if he hadn't read
that file. If he hadn't *known* that Clark had things about
him which scared Bruce. And okay, he knows that's fucked
up, but so's everything else, right?

*Sometimes*, Tim thinks that's how he would say it, if he
could ever figure out how to start. Just walk up to Bruce,
or turn to him in the car, or the shower, and say, 'it's better
that it's Superman, because you know him, and he knows
you know him, and so it's safer than anything. You wouldn't
have known about that coke ring at Brentwood if I hadn't
told you, or all the raves I let Gordon raid. You don't see
these people, and all of their stupid and criminal little
 secrets, not until you're in the suit and I am, too, and I
already know I'm not allowed to do anything then. It's
*okay* with Clark, because he's *good* enough for you.'

But that's not all that different from all the conversations
he's never had -- and doesn't ever *plan* on having -- with
Bruce which start with the words, 'so what, exactly, does it
mean that I'm your adopted son?'

Mostly because he doesn't know how to make sure Bruce
*understands* that it's not like he wants anything, that
Bruce gives him -- has *given* him -- all he ever needs, that
it's okay if it's just a good way to keep DCF off his case,
because being Batman's partner is way better than being
Bruce's son could ever be. It is.

But, you know, if Bruce *was* his real dad, then maybe...

"Red Robin, Red Robin, when will you come bobbin'...

Tim laughs at the sound of Babs in his ear -- he's
*technically* off tonight, but he wears his comm whenever
he gets the chance -- and opens the mic. "You want me?"

"Oooh, seductive Boy Wonder. No wonder you get all the
most eligible bachelors."

Babs, at least, has been cool. It's maybe a little girly to talk
about Clark like *that* with *Babs*, but, well. It's not like
he can brag in the locker room after gym. "It's the shorts,"
he says, and leans back on his elbows. "Seriously, do you
need me out there?"

"Well... oops, hang on."

Tim hangs, and listens to Babs beating up two or three
people who really should've known better than to interrupt
a phone call.

"Anyway. Nah, I don't *need* you, but Bruce is off-planet
again, and I thought we could lure Nightwing into town
and make a little noise."

"You got a cappucino with lunch, didn't you?"

"No! Yes." Babs sighs in his ear. "I'm restless. It's
*boring*. And it's not like I can just go bust up a meth
lab without back-up. Even though I *could*."

Tim smirks. "You got a cappucino with lunch *and* Bruce
stood you up."

"Hmmm. Is this where I say something bitchy about how
the only reason you're not already suited up and leaving
rubber in the Cave is probably big, blue, and --"

"Right here?" It's true. Clark's doing that slow landing
from high above thing which is all about pretending he
wasn't listening to your conversations three states away.

"Oh, you're *kidding*. God, you pint-sized *whore*."

And Clark is blushing. Tim smirks. "You realize he can
hear you, right?"

"Oh... shit. Batgirl out."

Tim toggles the communicator and smiles up at Clark,
gesturing to the patch of bare rock beside him.

"Only if you're not busy...?"

Tim pats the rock, and Clark lies down beside him, turning
onto his side and resting one big hand on Tim's chest.

It's warm and huge-*feeling* enough when Tim's suited
up. With just a t-shirt on, it makes it feel like every *other*
part of Tim's body is ice cold.

And Clark doesn't kiss him right away. Just... looks.

It's actually kind of hard to return those looks without doing
*something*. It's like he has a choice. He can either blush
and duck until he wants to throw himself off a cliff for more
than just the rush, or he can say something pretty much
guaranteed to lead to Clark fucking him right here,
stone-burns and all. Nothing else. Not just looking back,

"You're tense."

Tim shrugs, and feels the blush coming anyway.

"You have to tell me if you're uncomfortable, Tim --"

"Or else?"

Clark laughs. "Yes. Or else I'll be forced to spend three or
four hours being tense *because* you're tense, until I
feel the need to say something which will make both of
us wither and die from embarassment."

Tim gives up and stares at the hand on his chest. "Like
about how you *do* want to date me?"

"Mm," Clark says, stroking his way down until his fingertips
are toying with the waistband on Tim's jeans and his palm
isn't -- quite -- cupping him. "Or maybe something even
worse than that."

There's a part of Tim which wonders if maybe it isn't better
that he's just another teenaged boy when it comes to this
stuff, that he really *does* only have about two more
minutes before he'll be taunting Clark into taking it a
step further if only to keep himself from spreading and

Clark sighs. "I did warn you --"

"It hasn't even been three *minutes*."

"Well," Clark says and squeezes him gently, "I *am*

Tim gasps out a laugh. "I keep forgetting --"

"So do I," and Clark's voice is low and serious and scary in a
way that has nothing to do with the fact that, once again,
this thing between them has gone far enough that Tim
doesn't think he *could* stop it. "When I'm with you."

"Um --"

"When I first went to Metropolis, I thought I was finally
free. I didn't have to pretend to just be Clark Kent
anymore, I could finally show people everything I could
do, I could finally *help* people."

Squeezing him now, rhythmic and gentle -- for Clark. Tim
feels himself break out into a sweat and wonders if Babs
has any idea what this is like, if she'd ever imagined a
day when Bruce was holding her down with his hand
and himself, when he was taking over everything until
she wasn't sure if -- if --

"But there are things Superman can't do, Tim. Things
*Superman* can't have --"

"C-- Clark --"

"-- that I *can*."

And Tim hears his zipper going down, but Clark's already
holding him, jacking him hard and slow.

"Can't I, Tim?"

"I --"

Clark squeezes him. "Say *yes*, Tim --"

"I -- yes --"

Again. "Say -- say my name --"

"Clark -- *Clark* -- mm --"

Tim screams into Clark's mouth while Clark strokes him.
While he comes, shaking and scratching himself up against
the stone. He's not sure when his shirt came off.

He really isn't sure he cares.

And he comes back -- mostly -- to himself half-sprawled over
Clark's chest. Clark is hard beneath him, but breathing steadily
and evenly. It's actually one of the things that's a little scary
about Clark, because being rock hard isn't the whole of what
makes him lose control, when he does. It's always something
Tim *says*, or does, and that makes it even more difficult to
come up with coherent things *to* say after Clark makes him

Like the wrong thing will just get him, well, more than he
can handle. Or maybe it's the right thing. It's hard to tell,

"Are you all right, Tim?"

Tim stretches a little. "Yeah." He closes his eyes again when
Clark starts stroking his hair, but he kind of has to say
*something*. "Maybe... maybe it's because you *are*

"How do you mean?"

Tim laughs, and keeps laughing -- a little -- even though
Clark tightens his hold. "Well, I mean. Most people don't
even believe I exist. Most people *here*. It's not like
Robin doesn't have his own personality, and things he
can and can't do, but..." He pulls against the hold Clark
has on him.

After a moment, Clark lets go. Enough for Tim to straddle
his waist, anyway.

And trace a path over the shield on Clark's chest. "It kind
of has to make a difference when you're all primary colors,

"When Superman is," Clark says quietly.

Tim nods. Not even Bruce is paranoid enough to be
scared of *Superman*, after all.

"So you're saying I'm too... light?"

"Well. *You're* not, Clark."

Clark's eyes gleam in the darkness, just a little too redly
for comfort. "Good," he says, and smiles.

And pulls Tim back down.


.Shake and cough.