... and the other's gold
by Te
April 19, 2008

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: Vague references to various older storylines, meant to take place sometime before "War Games."

Summary: Clark spends a little time with his friends.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content which does and does not dovetail with the content some readers may find to be disturbing.

Author's Note: When Petra visits, random plot bunnies often appear. This is a direct result of a past visit. The fact that it's also something of an 'answer' to One is silver is just one of those things -- and no, you don't have to read that one first.

Acknowledgments: Petra, Pixie, Katarik, Mildred, and Jack have all seen various bits and pieces of this, and have all had a hand in making it better. All must hail.


There were any number of 'meteor showers' on Earth the month he'd landed. For the most part, Clark had dealt with the aftermath of those showers -- certainly, he has several distinct memories of doing so -- or.

He's reasonably sure he'd *had* several distinct memories --

There were definitely memories --

Clark sits up in the bed. He has a *very* clear memory of shopping for this mattress with Lois. The look in her eyes as they'd tested one after another after another --

("I just don't know if this one is *sturdy* enough, Smallville...")

He has an erection. He -- oh. Lois is right --

Here. She's snoring a little -- Lois sleeps very deeply -- and resting on her side. She nearly always sleeps on her right side, and -- they're *married*. Clark smiles and reaches out. His hand looks strange, somehow (there's something he's supposed to *remember*), but nothing feels more right than shaping it to the curve of her hip. She's --


He leans in to kiss her shoulder -- his arm looks a little strange, too, but he can't really put a finger on it --

The first time he'd made love to Lois -- who is his *wife*! -- he'd wanted to just kiss her for hours and hours. Lois didn't have the patience for that -- Lois is never especially *patient* -- and doing other things had, he has to admit, been even better.

Lois, he thinks, and tugs gently until she rolls onto her back. She's wearing the simple silk negligee he'd purchased for her... somewhere. He can't remember, but he knows it's something he'd picked out. The color brings out the faint hints of violet in her eyes, and he's going to see them again, soon.

She's waking up. Clark presses a kiss to the almost elegant stretch of her collarbone -- everything about Lois has *always* been so fine, and yes, so *elegant* -- and does it again, and again --

"Mmm," she says, yawning and arching. The scent of her rises around them both, and it's a lighter caress than the one she gives his cheek. "Good morning, *starshine*," and her hand is in Clark's hair, and --

She's not really stretching, anymore, as opposed to sliding her hip against -- oh, against him right *there*. Clark moans --

Lois laughs, low and sharp and soft all at once. "Mm, let me guess. You've been *waiting* for me to wake up."

Her eyes aren't open, yet, and it feels a little like a tease. Or -- there's something he's missing here, he thinks. There's something telling him to slow down, or that he *should* slow down. Should want to?

Be able to?

It's impossible to listen to, or even really *credit*. The smartest, strongest, most beautiful woman in the world is in *his* bed, and, and -- likes him. *Wants* him.

His wife --!

He moves until he's on top of her, and feels clumsy and a little hopeless --

She laughs, again, and reaches for him, cupping his shoulders and squeezing them -- she sits up, shifting her hips and thighs -- they're so smooth against his own, and the skin is so soft, and just a little cool --

"Oh, Lois, I --" Love you, he was going to say, but there's something *very* strange about his voice. Something almost --

Lois opens her eyes. "Oh -- Clark, you -- oh my *God*," she says, and *shoves* him. At least, she tries to --

He's supposed to move. He -- "Lois, you want me to --" What's wrong with his *voice*?

Whatever it is, it's wrong with all of him, and also he apparently hadn't been moving *fast* enough, because Lois pushes back, brings her legs up, and *kicks* him.

Of course (of course?), all of that had been slow enough to see, and understand, but it's so strange, so *wrong* -- "Lois, please, what is it?"

Her eyes are wide and almost wild, almost *scared*, and for a moment Clark's convinced that he'd turned into some kind of monster, or -- he does seem to look different. His hands are -- smaller? Than they should be?

"Lois --"

"Get *out* of this bed and go look in a mirror *right* now," she says, and pulls her knees back again --

"Are you going to *kick* me again?"

"Are you going to get out of this bed?"

Well -- that, at least, *sounds* like the Lois he knows, loves, and sometimes -- fears. Or -- yes, Lois wants him to go away --

He doesn't want to, at *all* -- no. Lois wants him to go away, and the bathroom is... well, it has to be nearby.

He gets up, and looks at Lois again --


He winds up in the kitchen on his first try, but it doesn't exactly take long to find the bathroom, and he looks in the mirror, and -- well, it's him. Same eyes, same nose. Same too-big jaw and shoulders that don't seem to match the rest of him. He's got pretty decent muscles from working on the farm -- or maybe from being a Kryptonian and he doesn't like to think about *that* -- but he has to admit he's a little... gawky, maybe?

Lois is his *wife*. She has to -- doesn't she like him?

He thinks about it -- and then he *thinks* about it. When had he left the farm? When *did* he get married?

He remembers *that*, of course -- the happiest day of his life! Only... hadn't he had to bend down pretty far to kiss Lois? He's not... well, he's not short, but he's...

And there's something about the meteors... or. Had there been something?

He hears Lois moving in the bedroom, and -- it definitely sounds like she's putting clothes on. The face in the mirror frowns pretty dramatically, but he has about as much control over that as he does over his erection.

Lois is probably taking off the silk thing now, and she -- she's going to be *naked*, at least for a moment or two, and he's pretty darned fast. Maybe if he just zipped past the bedroom...?

No, Lois wouldn't want him to do that. The trouble is, he doesn't know what Lois *does* want, except for him to be bigger than he is. No -- older. Something must've happened to make him young again, and that's all there is to it. Lois is --

Lois is supposed to be *his* age, only she's a grown woman, and he'd never known her as a teenager -- it's really pretty confusing. But. "Lois...?"

"Stay *right* where you are."

"Okay, but --"

"And remind me where you keep the JLA communicator."

The -- okay, there are memories. There's -- well, there's Batman -- Bruce. And Diana and J'onn and all the others. The *League*. It's the most important thing he's ever done. That he does. Did -- "Um. The what now...?"

Lois... Lois says a lot of curse-words. She seems quite comfortable with that sort of vocabulary, and he sort of remembers...

Don't they have something like --

"And don't you *dare* mention the mother*fucking* swear jar, you -- you -- Oh, thank God."

"Er -- yes?"

Lois tosses a robe out of the bedroom in the vague direction of the bathroom. It's very -- well, it's very big, and there's no way in the world that he's not supposed to put it on.

He puts it on, and -- the belt doesn't *quite* go around twice. And it's not *entirely* falling off of him. And it only drags on the floor a little. And --

It's a little too soft and *good* on his private parts right now, considering Lois' state of mind -- she'd been naked in there. *Recently* -- but there's nothing he can do about that, either.

"God, where *is* that thing?"

Clark eases back to the bedroom door and peers around the corner -- and gets hit in the face with a shirt. When he pulls it away, he gets hit with a pair of jeans. The button hits him in the eye, and that kind of stings. "Lois --"


Clark frowns, but, well... "Maybe I have a... secret compartment? Somewhere?" It certainly seems reasonable for that sort of thing.

Lois' eyes are... he thinks the word "gimlet" wouldn't be going too far. He's read all sorts of books which seem to describe eyes like Lois' right now, and that's the word which gets used, more often than not. Well, in the more descriptive ones, and --

"Or -- or I could go back into the bathroom...?"

"Do. That."

He goes. It sounds like Lois is demolishing their bedroom, which probably shouldn't seem like so much of a metaphor, but it does. Clark puts the seat cover down and sits on the toilet. There are crashes, more sounds of clothes flying, a thumping noise which is probably the mattress being moved at speed -- which is impressive, but Lois has always been...

Lois has always been many things, actually. Strong and determined is just a part of it.

There's the sound of glass shattering, and the smell of Lois' perfume is suddenly *everywhere*, but she doesn't seem to be cursing any more than she was before.

Clark waits, and eventually there's a knocking noise. All over -- all around the walls. Ah, she's looking for a hollow space. That's a really good thought. He thinks about telling her so, and maybe offering to help, but... no. Probably not a good idea.

The knocking goes on for a while, and Clark settles for trying to listen for especially hollow sounds. It's a little difficult, because the morning traffic outside is just gearing up, and there are a lot of birds nearby, and there are three cats in the building, and there's someone screaming very far away -- "Lois, do you know where I keep my... my uniform?"

"Oh, don't you *dare*," she says, and in a moment she's in the doorway, pointing at him and glaring --

"I only meant -- I mean, that is to say, I heard --"

"Do you --" Lois puts her hands on her hips. "Are you even sure what you can and can't do right now?"

He can -- he can *help*. "I'm strong, and I -- I can run really fast, and --"

"And if you lose your temper you might set fire to someone with your eyes by mistake...?"

Set fire... he can *do* that? That's something he doesn't -- "I --"

"You're not going *anywhere* until I can get someone from the League here to *fix* this -- *God*. Okay, here's what's going to happen. Are you listening?"

"Yes --"

"You're going to come back into the bedroom with me, and -- stop *looking* at me like that!"

"Sorry! I mean, you -- ah. The bedroom?"

"You're going to help me find this secret compartment, and then you're going to take a trip to the moon." She claps her hands once, sharp and *set*. "Let's go." She turns and goes, and --

And the robe she's wearing fits perfectly, which means it kind of swirls around her legs, and the muscle of her calf is curved and sleek, and -- and he follows her. The moon?

It goes quicker with the two of them, especially since there *is* a hollow spot just above and to the left of where the mattress *used* to be.

"Lois, I think I --"

"*Open* it."

"Er..." He gives it a push and nothing happens, and he knocks on it three times, and he scrapes around it a little --

"*Punch* it, Clark."

He does. The wall kind of crunches and crumbles around his fist, and suddenly he's brushing some kind of metal with his knuckles. And some kind of plastic with his fingernail. "Oh, I think I --"

And then Lois is there, wobbling a little on the debris on the floor, snatching the plastic thing away and shoving it in Clark's ear. And glaring at him.

"I -- how do I...?"

Lois squeezes her eyes shut and tries to punch the wall next to the hole. Clark is only *just* fast enough to catch her hand, and he braces himself for her yelling at him, more, but all she does is shudder and twist her hand free of Clark's own.

Then she reaches up and taps something on the thing -- the *communicator* -- in his ear that goes click, and --

"*Talk*, Clark."

"Er -- this is -- this is Clark -- Superman. Um. I'm trying to reach the League?"

Lois pinches the bridge of her nose, and --

"Voice identification: Failure. Please clear this channel."

The voice through the communicator is artificial, but there's something strange about it, just the same --

"Well?" Lois has her fists on her hips again. "Did you get anyone?"

"It's saying something -- it says it can't identify my voice --"

"Voice identification: Failure. Clear this channel or else."

"Er -- Lois, now it's threatening me --"

"What? Give me that," she says, and rips the communicator out of his ear and puts it in her own.

There is nothing sexual about the act, even though Lois' ears are shapely and somewhat pointed and she'd touched his skin. Several times, now.

"Listen. I don't know who the hell is listening up there, but if you don't have *my* voice on record --"

Without the comm in his ear, the computerized voice sounds different, even stranger, somehow, as it says, "Voice identification: Lois Lane."

Lois blows out a breath. "That's more like it. There's a problem here, and I don't know how secure this channel is --"

"At the moment? Very," says the computerized voice, and --

That was really rather responsive for a computer, Clark thinks, and the look Lois shoots him says she feels the same. But then Lois frowns, taps her teeth with one fingernail -- "Oracle?"

"At your service, Mrs. Lane. What can I do for you?"

For a moment, Clark can't help but feel somewhat relieved -- Lois is *smiling* -- but then he notices what sort of smile it is. It's the one she tended to reserve for people who either upset her or upset her by not telling her things -- he remembers this clearly --

"You should take it as a measure of how serious a problem it is that I'm --"

"Calling on *this* channel?"

" -- not demanding an interview," Lois says, and her smile fades. "That *was* Clark."

"That was a boy between the ages of approximately thirteen and sixteen years of age, Mrs. --"

"Clark, how old are you?"

"Fifteen, m -- Lois, um -- "

Lois holds a finger up. It's quite peremptory -- "He says he's fifteen, Oracle. And he *looks* it. I've seen pictures."

"And you're quite sure it's Superman?"

Superman. Superman? He doesn't *feel* like Superman, but it's still extremely uncomfortable to see Lois looking so *doubtful*. Clark folds his arms over his chest -- and feels the robe starting to slip off his shoulders. Better to hold on to the thing, and just --

"No. I can't be sure. He doesn't remember -- there's a lot he doesn't remember."

Clark frowns. "I remember *you*, Lois."

Lois' finger is still up. "And he just came very close to referring to me as 'ma'am.'"

"I see," Oracle says, and there's another pause.

He knows the name Oracle, or -- possibly he'd *known* it. It's just that there aren't any images which come with it, as opposed to a vague sense that he or she works with both Batman and the League. Something about red hair...? Though when he thinks of red hair, mostly what comes to mind are images of a boy not too far from his own age with a camera.

It doesn't seem strange for Oracle to be on this channel, but he can't really trust that feeling. It hadn't, after all, seemed strange for him to look the way he does, and --

And then Batman is right there, and Lois is rolling her eyes, and there's a somehow terrible green light --


When he wakes up, he's lying on a bed, or -- possibly he means *in* a bed. It's more like a very high-tech sort of plastic tube than anything else. It's not uncomfortable, but it is a little intimidating.

Possibly this is because his robe is nowhere to be seen.

"Er... Lois?"

"Not here." Batman's voice comes from the speakers that seem to be to either side of Clark's head, but it feels like it comes from everywhere.

"Okay, I -- where's here? Exactly?"

It's possible that the grunt is supposed to be an answer. He -- yes, he remembers Batman, but, if anything, the memories are even more confusing than the ones about Lois. He feels reassured that Batman is on this case, *his* case, but that's not everything he feels.

Batman is his friend, against all possible evidence. His -- best friend? Closest friend. All right. Maybe he should just go with that for --

The light somewhere behind his eyes can't seem to decide whether it's a painful blue or an even more painful white, and he can't seem to stop his arms and legs -- all of himself -- from jerking.

He's making a noise.

Batman grunts again.

"Er -- did you just electrocute me?"

"Ten thousand volts," Batman -- Bruce says.

"That -- that seems like a lot?"

"I was hoping you wouldn't feel it," Bruce says, and, after a moment, a section of heretofore blank wall zips in on itself and becomes a door. Bruce walks through it and comes near -- not very near, though.

"Hello again. Do you know what happened?"

It shouldn't be possible for Bruce to look more forbidding than he already does -- his uniform is very dramatic -- but his mouth tightens into a hard line. "What's the last thing you remember before terrifying your wife this morning, Clark?"

Well, that's an easy question. He'd laid out his clothes for school on his desk and gone to bed -- hm. He's thinking of his parents' house in Smallville, only -- he definitely hadn't woken up in Smallville. "I -- I think... that's not an easy question."

Bruce nods. "Think carefully. Do you remember anything about meteor rock?"

"The green ones hurt pretty badly...? Hey, did you use one of those on me?" Clark frowns. "You know those hurt, Bruce."

"A necessary precaution --"

"I wouldn't --" Clark sits up, remembers that he doesn't have any clothes on, covers himself --

Bruce's frown gets even more... frowny. Well --

They *are* both guys. It's okay. "I wouldn't hurt *you*, Bruce."

Below the cowl, Bruce's expression doesn't change. *Behind* the cowl, Bruce is blinking a little more than necessary -- oh goodness.

"I can see beneath your -- your cowl!"

And now those eyes -- a rather cold shade of blue -- are narrowing. "You can remember my name and, apparently, our -- relationship. But you can't remember that you have X-ray vision."

"I certainly don't think I had it *before*, and -- is *that* what I call it? Do I use it to see if... if people have broken bones?"

"I've never asked you what you used it for on a day-to-day basis, Clark. I didn't plan to start," Bruce says, and turns one hand over.

There's something there which looks a little like an especially small and futuristic remote control, and, when Bruce presses a button, the arch over the bed folds back. The room isn't any colder than it was a few minutes ago, and he has nothing to be ashamed of, and --

And Wonder Woman -- Diana -- is walking in and looking him up and down.

"Um --"

"Hera, he's small. I always knew he'd had to grow *into* the Clark we know, but... well, at least the blush is the same."

Bruce raises an eyebrow behind the cowl. "You don't think it's more intense at the moment...?"

"Ah -- could I have... um."

Diana stares at him. Stares *down* at him. "What is it? Speak *up*, man."

It feels like his face is burning, and Clark closes his eyes just in case this is what causes the fire-from-the-eyes thing that Lois had mentioned.

"What's *wrong* with him, Bruce?"

"At a guess? Adolescent body shyness," Bruce says, and Clark catches himself searching that low, flat tone for any hint of amusement. There's a part of him which thinks it must be there, but he can't seem to find it.

Clark opens his eyes. A little bit. "I don't suppose I could have... clothes?"

Diana makes an affronted noise. "The way you raise your children in this world should be *criminal*."

"The way I raise mine -- is," Bruce says, and there *is* amusement there, but he's also leaving the room -- oh, the robe!

Clark opens his eyes all the way and looks hopeful. It's the same robe Lois had handed to him, and it's too big, but the only thing that would feel better right now is...

Jeans? His... uniform? He isn't sure. And, once he has the robe on, he feels a bit more qualified to look up at Diana. "I know the two of us are friends, and I can remember that, but I'm afraid I don't... it's all very vague. Like something that happened to someone else."

Diana's frown cuts itself a little deeper onto her features. "Clark. You... you really think of yourself as being an adolescent?"

"My -- my mother knitted me a very nice sweater for my fifteenth birthday a few months ago. And my father lets me drive the truck around almost whenever I want."

Diana crosses her arms under her -- her -- Diana crosses her arms. "Did you... have you started using your powers to help people?"

His powers. His -- they know he's not really like other people. They know he's an *alien*. And while that might not matter to someone like Diana... he looks over his shoulder at Bruce, who -- well, it honestly doesn't seem as though Bruce has *stopped* looking at him --

"Answer her, Clark."

"Right, I --" And then he has to stop, and think, because there's a *rope* around him, glowing and -- it doesn't seem very thick, but he can't budge it even a little. Wonder Woman's *lasso*. "I -- I wasn't going to lie to you, Diana --"

"Just the same. Answer the question."

"Well, I... I'm not supposed to. I have to keep it a secret, and my parents would probably be pretty mad -- you won't tell them, will you?"

"Your secret," Bruce says, and moves until he's within Clark's peripheral vision, "is safe with us."

"I -- sometimes there are fires, and I -- I can get people out and away from them, and sometimes I can blow them away from the fields so people don't lose their crops. And I can run really fast, so sometimes I can keep people from getting into car accidents. And I saved a little boy who was drowning in the quarry, but he might have seen me. I hope he didn't."

Diana nods, and her frown isn't quite so hard. "What else can you do?"

"The -- apparently I have X-ray vision! That's pretty new -- oh goodness, I can see your --" Clark closes his eyes, but -- "I can *still* see your -- wait, now I can see your bones. That's -- wow. You're really very well put together, ma'am -- I mean, Diana!"

Bruce makes a sound like a very sharp hum. Diana makes a slightly strangled noise -- and then the lasso isn't around him, anymore.

Clark stands up straight and pulls the robe around himself a little better -- he can still *see*. He looks at the floor, instead, and he can see -- rock. A lot of rock. Clark takes a deep breath.

Diana -- sighs. "He doesn't have anything resembling control over his powers. We can't let him out there."

"Agreed," Bruce says. "Zatanna checked him earlier -- there are no signs of magic. Until we can retrace his movements yesterday, the working hypothesis is that he had a run-in with either red Kryptonite or some other Kryptonite we simply hadn't yet come across."

Diana crosses to him and places two strong fingers under his chin until he looks up -- at her skull. Clark tries squinting -- he can see her brain.

He tries blinking -- her face. Her frowning face, but still her face. He takes another deep breath. "Sorry about that. I -- I'll work on. Um. Fixing that."

"Of course you will," she says, pauses, and then pats his cheek. "Do you understand why we can't simply allow you to go on as you have been?"

"Because it's too dangerous?"

Bruce cups his shoulder. "It's no longer a question of just protecting your secret, Clark. You've spent much of the past fifteen years becoming as much of an icon as a hero. Your enemies -- and you have many -- would go after you with a quite literal vengeance. And you would not be able to face them as you are now."

Enemies? A lot of -- Luthor -- but Lex is just a kid, like him -- or. He isn't, anymore. No one is. "Should I... will you send me back to my parents?"

Diana shakes her head. "We need you somewhere we can keep an eye on you. As to whether or not you inform your parents what's happened..." She looks at Bruce.

Bruce squeezes his shoulder. "There's a window of between twenty-four and seventy-two hours, after which, if it *was* red Kryptonite, you should be back to normal."

"If the gods are kind," Diana says, and steps away. "Will you take him with you to Gotham, Bruce?"

"I've run out of tests I can perform here, but there isn't very much more I can do back at the Cave," he says, and squeezes Clark's shoulder again before letting go. "We could keep him here."

Keep him -- *tests* -- "Er -- how long was I unconscious?"

"Three hours," Bruce says. "You --"

"Bruce," Diana says, and clips her lasso to her belt. "You are by far the one of us most qualified to deal with this."

Bruce frowns. "I already *have* a Robin."

"All the better," and Diana begins walking out. "Clark could probably use someone his own age to speak with."

Robin... Robin. Bright colors and laughter. Strength and warmth and -- "I think I'd like to speak to Robin, Bruce," Clark says, and smiles. "Is he home?"

Bruce looks at him. Clark isn't sure how to translate that look, but smiling at it doesn't make it any worse.


The transporter makes him feel like he might not have as many parts as he did before he stepped into it, but Bruce doesn't seem to be affected in any way, and the Cave...

He remembers the Cave, but not that it was this big and *dark*. There are lights near all of the working areas, but the Cave seems to go on for miles past those areas, and the shadows -- they seem too solid to *be* shadows.

Clark shivers, a little --

"Are you cold?"

Bruce is looking at him like he's maybe thinking of electrocuting him again. Or -- something else with *tests*. "Oh, no! Just... do you spend a lot of time *here*, Bruce? I mean, I know it's your... your headquarters, but..."

"What you do and don't remember... hm. Perhaps we should talk about that," Bruce says, and then turns away and walks over to his computers. There's a console area there which, now that Clark looks at it, seems to be designed precisely for Bruce's ease.

It makes sense, of course, but -- is the whole Cave like that? Does he really prefer it that way? "I -- well, I remember you."

"Yes," Bruce says, and starts typing.

"I remember -- it's a little like... I can remember the first time you touched me, but not why. Just that it was a first, and that it was very important."


Clark looks around for somewhere to sit and decides on the balance beam. It's not very comfortable as a seat, but it's not very far away from Bruce, and it's kind of comfortingly warm. The wood is smooth from hands and feet -- Robin's hands and feet, always tucked away in bright green. Only... there's more than one.

There are -- he looks back over his shoulder, and there's something like a... well, it's a memorial, and then he remembers the first time -- the only time -- he ever saw Bruce cry.

"Oh, I... I don't think I remember Robin as well as I thought I did."

Bruce stops typing. "Tell me what you do remember," he says, and he doesn't look back at Clark, but it still feels like he's staring. Or -- watching.

"I remember Dick," Clark says, slowly, and he realizes he's waiting for some memory to attack him. When nothing does -- "I remember that we're good friends, best friends like the two of us, only something happened with the two of you --"

"What else." Bruce's voice sounds -- sharp and hard, but also like the weapon in it is aimed at himself.

"I remember taking Dick flying, and --" And kissing him. Kissing him and kissing him and *kissing* him, because he could, because he wanted to, because Dick is so very *beautiful*, because every time Dick calls him 'Superman,' he really means 'Clark.' And it wasn't the first time, or the second, or even the -- the *eighth* -- "Oh. Oh -- goodness."

"You just remembered that the two of you are lovers."

He's probably blushing hard enough to melt anything and everything he touches, but he doesn't smell any smoke, and Bruce isn't looking at him. Just -- that word. Lovers.

*Lovers*. The two of them -- over the *years* --

And he remembers, and he can't *stop* remembering, that Lois has a Robin suit. There's something -- her laughter, her -- acceptance? But how does that even *work* -- "I cheat on my *wife*. I'm not -- that's not right!"

Bruce makes that little humming sound again, and -- turns around. And walks toward him. And -- stops.

Close, but not very close. Just close enough for it to seem strange, because Bruce is his friend, but he's not that sort of -- of --

*This* memory is fuzzed around the edges, and Clark wants not to trust it, but --

"Bruce --"


"You -- you were -- there was some kind of drug, and I remember that you seemed all right, that you were -- we caught the -- the bad guys --"

"Ivy. Working with the Toyman."

Clark nods, and remembers more, the faces -- two brilliant, twisted *minds*, and then -- then -- "You collapsed. You -- you told me to bring you back here."

"I was feverish," Bruce says, and takes another step closer. "Confused," he says, and the scuff of his boot on the mats seems like the loudest sound in the world.

"You didn't -- you told me not to go," Clark says, and suddenly he can feel it. The fear, and the need to berate himself. How had he missed that Bruce was so *affected*?

"I told you how to prepare the antidote. You gave it to me."

The skin of Bruce's arm had been warm enough that it hadn't seemed cool at all to Clark's touch, his pupils had been dilated enough that there was barely a ring of blue, and he -- He had shaken when Bruce had done so, because he could smell -- "I could smell you. You... you were very -- I knew you were *aroused*."

Maybe even painfully so, and he knows how that feels, only he remembers that it all seemed so much sharper, so much more *immediate*. He remembers feeling frightened and helpless -- Bruce is *human*, and he'd seemed almost wild, seemed to almost have to *fight* to stay still on the gurney --

And maybe -- maybe Bruce knows that Clark is aroused right now. Maybe that's why he's not any closer, or --

"You *kissed* me."

"You failed to stop me," Bruce says, and the corner of his mouth twitches. It's -- it's just the one movement, but Bruce's mouth doesn't seem hard, right now. It's not soft and wet, not like then, but it's not *hard* --

"Bruce, I -- I can't remember, I can't -- are we lovers, too?"

"No," Bruce says, and takes the last step closer. "We aren't," and a part of Clark wants to congratulate the rest for paying attention to the words, but the rest is caught by the feel of Bruce's gauntlets on his cheeks, and the way Bruce is leaning in slowly, so *slowly* --

"Oh, I --"

The kiss burns the memories to ash. Less than ash -- ash is something you can feel on your skin, something you can *smell*, and there's nothing Clark can feel, right now, that isn't Bruce.

Bruce's mouth moving against his own, Bruce's gauntleted fingers sliding into Clark's hair, Bruce's *tongue*, a little cool and sharp, slick and sleek -- Clark moans, and does it again when he feels his penis twitch. He's still only wearing a robe, and that could come off so *easily* -- no, he can't think about that right now.

He can't think about anything but this *kiss*, because it's important, because he knows that Bruce is entirely *sober*, that nothing is driving him to do this but himself -- Bruce pulls away and Clark can't keep himself from gasping --

"I didn't want -- I never want to lose *control* with you, Bruce --"

"I know, Clark," Bruce says, and Clark nods, and breathes.

That's -- important. It's important that they understand each other, that they don't do anything which would hurt their friendship, and their working relationship, and --

And Bruce pulls the cowl back over his face and lets it fall against the cape, and Clark can't really remember what's important and what isn't. Or -- his body can't. It's all he can do to stop himself from throwing his arms around Bruce once he's jumped down from the beam, once he's moved close enough -- God, everything he can smell, and --

And then he can hear the thud of their hearts beating, and Clark wants them to be synchronized, together, he wants to understand what makes Bruce do this, be here like this, right now, with him. He wants -- he wants --

"Clark. Tell me what you want."

"You -- you *know* what I want," he says, and blushes more, but it's true. He *knows* it's true, and that it's always been true, and that one of the hardest things he'd ever had to do was stop kissing Bruce that day, stop tasting him and the faint hint of the human poison which was coming out through his sweat, and his -- oh, his penis, too --

"You have to say it, Clark," he says, and it seems wrong that his voice is so gentle, because it's not -- it's just not very *nice*.

Clark reaches for him -- and Bruce catches his wrists. Bruce can't hold him that way -- Clark *knows* he can't -- but it's still. It's not *more*. "We -- we *should* be lovers."

"Should we?"

And he wants to flinch for that, or at least not have *been* here to hear that, but -- but Bruce's thumbs are pressed against his palms and rubbing, and it's not soothing or anything but a suggestion -- no, it's *suggestive*. Everywhere he could be touched. Every *way*, and maybe that's enough. "Yes," he says, and he knows the look on his face is the one his mother calls "muley," but he's not the one who's stopping them --

"Even though you're a married man...?"

He's not a man, right now. Or -- not a grown man, and Lois doesn't want -- no, that's just an excuse. Lois wants everything from him, and he knows that because of everything he can't quite remember her saying. It's in her eyes, and it's in her smile -- so sharp, so slow and sly --

("Tell me everything, Smallville. Or else.")

"I -- it's not right. It's still not -- not what it should be --"

Bruce squeezes his wrists, and it feels like he's about to let go, and -- maybe that means he shouldn't be hugging Bruce tight, or maybe that means it's exactly what he should do.

Bruce -- *grunts*, and his scent changes just slightly --

And Clark remembers that he doesn't want to *hurt* Bruce, and it still takes another moment before he can stop squeezing. He doesn't understand, and it's scary and confusing and -- oh, it's all right *here*, again, so sharp and somehow all over him, all over his *skin* --

"I want you, Bruce. I want --" Oh. He *wants*, and Bruce is right here, and even though he doesn't understand why -- he can *smell* Bruce, and it's important that he's this close, that he's *letting* Clark smell him, letting Clark *know* -- "I want to have sex with you, and we can do it here, or -- or -- anywhere you want." 

Bruce cups Clark's face again, just one hand, this time, and --

Bruce wants more. Wants him to *say* more, and -- but -- "Bruce, why did you kiss me?"

The hand on Clark's face tightens, a little -- "It didn't bother you."

"Well, I -- I was thinking about *sex*, and we were talking about -- and I know some people say that men shouldn't kiss other men, that a lot of people do, but it's okay, it's really *okay*, but -- did you want to kiss me? Or were you... making a point?"

"Yes, Clark. I wanted to kiss you," Bruce says, and raises an eyebrow. Humor there, Bruce *likes* -- but --

It's a question. It's -- Bruce wants to *know* what he wants, and that. That's sex, *too*. Clark takes a shaky breath. "I want you to take -- take the armor off --"

"Are you sure you can control yourself enough for that?"

Clark squeezes his eyes shut and doesn't run and doesn't squeeze Bruce and doesn't -- Bruce *knows*, all about him, because they're friends and because Bruce is *Bruce*. He knows -- "If you -- if you touch *me*, then I won't -- be able to mess this up."

"Let go."

"Bruce, *please* --"

Bruce's thumb is hard enough on Clark's mouth that Clark is reasonably sure it should be painful. The part of him which has trained and practiced and *struggled* to look normal is telling him to wince, to make a sound, but -- it's Bruce, and he knows everything. Just -- everything.

Clark closes his eyes, lets go, and even takes a step back --

"Take your robe off."

Oh -- Bruce wants him *naked*. For a moment, a part of him is a little stuck on that. The robe has been from Metropolis to the moon and now *here*, and it seems a little strange to see it puddling around his feet in the *Batcave* --

But there's nothing strange at all about Bruce pulling off his gauntlets -- the scent of his sweat is higher now, sharper and better and cut with the smell of plastics, and Clark thinks he might ejaculate right *here* if Bruce actually takes off the *suit*.

And he's afraid that he won't, that he'll just get harder -- "Bruce, I -- it hurts, I'm so --"

"Aroused. Too aroused?"

It's an honest question. Every sense he *has* is telling him that it's an honest question -- from the raise of Bruce's eyebrow to the faint rumble of his voice on its way up from his chest, out of his throat -- It's just that his body can't quite *believe* it. "Bruce, I don't -- I don't know what you want me to *say* --"

"Tell me," Bruce says, and -- cups him. Squeezes and strokes him --

"Oh -- *oh* --"

"Tell me if you like this," and it's -- not slow, but not as fast as Clark does it --

Hard and -- so -- so good -- "Yes, oh -- yes, please, Bruce," Clark says, and grabs Bruce's wrist -- and yanks his hand away just in case Bruce thinks Clark wants him to stop --

"You can touch me, Clark. I -- trust you," he says, and his voice makes it sound like a joke, but his eyes are serious, looking at him and maybe through him, and no one has ever *done* this for him before --

Except that he remembers soft skin and sharp, painted nails, and rougher skin, a smaller hand, damp with nervous sweat --

("Oh, *Clark*! You're so *big*!")

It's real and it isn't, it's tempting and it's nothing and meaningless against the feel of Bruce -- one hand on Clark's shoulder and the other stroking him harder, faster, *better*, and it feels almost like Bruce's pulse is thudding through him when Clark shifts his fingers a little, like this is just one of the ways Bruce can make love to him.

Clark closes his eyes and lets himself feel it, reaching back with his free hand until he can brace himself on the balance beam --

"Don't break it, Clark."

-- and remind himself not to squeeze too hard. "Okay, it's just -- your hand --"

"Are you going to... come for me?"

And Clark means to say yes, and maybe to keep saying it until Bruce understands that he means it more than he means anything in the world, but all that comes out is a moan, and now he can't keep his hips still, or even really find the rhythm that Bruce is using on him. It doesn't matter -- it's better this way, more ragged and *real*, and --

"Open your eyes."

Clark does it, and Bruce seems even closer than he was before, larger than life and -- 'handsome' isn't the word for it. 'Beautiful' isn't, either, and Clark doesn't feel smart enough to find the right word, as opposed to smart enough to just keep staring. He's so --

Bruce is so --

He doesn't know, and he wishes he did, but he thinks, maybe, *not* knowing is a part of what makes being Bruce's friend as thrilling as it is. He's so smart, and so strong, and so driven and focused and -- and *strong*. Having someone like this in *his* life -- and he's still married to Lois, too -- he must be the luckiest adult in the world.

"Clark," and the sound is another stroke, caressing and *perfect*, and Clark has just enough time to realize that he's going to come *now* before he's doing it. All -- all over Bruce's *hand*.

Clark watches himself do it, watches his penis twitch and spurt as Bruce squeezes over and over again --

And he knows Bruce is *watching* him watch, and while he doesn't know for sure that it's turning Bruce on, it's turning *him* on enough that he almost doesn't care about the answer.

Maybe too much. He's already hard again, and he's barely *finished*. "Um -- you could --"

"I know you want more," Bruce says, and takes his hand away. And uses his clean fingers to tilt Clark's face up.

"I -- yes. Please. I could -- I remember having you in my *mouth*, Bruce."

"So do I," Bruce says, and slides his thumb over Clark's lips before letting go -- and cleaning his fingers on a wet-wipe from his belt. "You're not as warm as you were then. Perhaps I'll find it easier to control my responses."

"I -- really hope not," Clark says, and blushes, because that's not -- well, that's not very nice of him, at all. But Bruce --

There's a smile in his eyes that's so clear and obvious and wonderful that Clark can't quite figure out why it *hasn't* reached his mouth. Perhaps he should kiss Bruce again. That might --

He doesn't really care about the smile. He has to admit that, if perhaps not as much as he has to wrap his arms around Bruce again and lean up --

"Yes, Clark?"

"Kiss me --"

At the touch -- the *contact* -- Clark remembers that he wants to get Bruce out of his clothes, as naked as he is. It would be nice if he had any helpful memories of how to detach Bruce from his uniform, but all he has is a memory of tingling at the feel of a shock that would probably knock him unconscious at this point.

It's better to focus on kissing, and on the feel of Bruce's hands moving over and over his back. Sometimes they pause, and sometimes they squeeze, and -- um. "Are you *examining* me?"

"Would it make you feel better if I told you that there was a high degree of prurience in my interest?"

High degree of -- oh. Oh. "You -- like the way I... feel?"

Bruce's answer is a hum and -- also some sort of move that ends with Clark on the floor, and that's supposed to hurt, right, he has to --

He has to try not to *stare* at Bruce as he unhooks and loosens and all of the other things that eventually lead to -- oh. "You smell really good, Bruce."

"Do I."

"Yes, like -- I don't know," Clark says, and rests on his elbows. And breathes as deeply as he wants to. "I can smell your -- your armor, and it just makes the scent of your sweat seem -- um. Better." Clark shakes his head. "I want to taste you -- again."

Bruce -- pauses.

Clark swallows. "Please?"

"You're more demanding than I -- expected."

And there's a lot in that sentence that Clark would *like* to think about, but it's hard enough trying to keep himself from sliding his hand down to his penis. He's that kind of hard which has always seemed kind of *sneaky* -- his body is lying to him, telling him that he'd be okay, that he'd feel better if he just stroked himself a *little* bit, maybe one or two squeezes -- Clark digs his fingers in against the mats.

"Perhaps I should say 'hungrier.'"

"I -- I love you. You're my *friend* --"

"Clark --"


"Hm." Bruce pulls off his boots and goes back to -- *releasing* himself from the armor at his jock and the tights.

Clark licks his lips and sits up all the way, because it's too slow, and because once he can *see* Bruce's thighs he has to touch. The hair is ticklish against Clark's palms and the scars are the wrong sort of smooth. Clark knows that Bruce lives his life very dangerously, and he knows that Bruce has to, it's just that -- that --

It's just that kissing Bruce's thighs makes his lips feel tingly, makes him blush more -- demanding, yes. Hungry -- *yes*.

And it's easy to roll up onto his knees, almost like he'd done before, or -- no, he'd *dropped* to his knees that time, that *one* time, because Bruce's scent had been impossible to ignore, Bruce's arousal too much, too *perfect* even though he'd been drugged --

It was *wrong*, but -- this. This isn't wrong.

"You shouldn't try to -- convince yourself of anything. Clark --"

That's *not* what he's doing. Is it? Bruce is right *here*, and it's all right to touch him. Every part of himself Clark can *reach* is telling him that this is important and necessary, that stroking up the backs of Bruce's thighs is one of those things which has to be done when there's a chance to do it.

He's not married to Bruce. He doesn't get to have this --

Bruce's hand in his hair makes him think of Lois, of all the times she's wanted him to go faster, touch harder, make love with as much of himself as Lois can *take*.

It has to be all right that the feel of Bruce tugging makes him open his mouth, makes him take Bruce's penis inside himself --


It's just his name, but it feels like so much more than that. His senses are telling him that Bruce likes what Clark's doing, that it's making him more aroused even though Clark is barely even sucking -- would Bruce want to do this to him?

It's too much to think about if he wants to keep from squeezing Bruce's thighs too hard. His thighs, his buttocks -- the shallow dips of Bruce's pelvis -- oh, Clark wants to touch Bruce everywhere, but this is a good start. A good -- the weight of him on Clark's tongue!

And Bruce's hands aren't still at all. They're mussing Clark's hair and stroking down over his cheeks, and for a moment Clark wonders if it would be better for Bruce if he had -- oh, a beard or something. Something to make him look older, if not the *bigger* everyone seems to miss.

Thinking about that makes it hard not to focus on his hands, and how they probably make him look both too small *and* too gangling -- Clark shivers and moans and distracts himself with the feel of Bruce in his mouth, with the human and somehow *rich* taste of him, powerful as everything else, and --

And Bruce wants this from him. Bruce had sent him down to the floor and hadn't said or done anything when Clark got to his knees -- Bruce *wants* this, and Clark can give it to him.

This time, moaning makes Bruce tug a little harder, and sort of *push* with his hips. It's gentle, and it's only once, but the slide of Bruce's penis over Clark's tongue feels like the best idea in the world.

Clark tries working his head back and forth, pulling against the hold Bruce has on his hair -- and wondering what this would be like if he was just human, too. If this would hurt, and if the pain would make it better, or maybe just make it *mean* more. He doesn't know, and he's probably never going to know, but --

He can pretend.

Clark opens his eyes and looks up at Bruce, and he knows that his expression must be the most *pleading* thing ever, that it probably looks like he's about to cry, or at least tear a little --

Bruce grunts and -- this push is more like a thrust, all the way to the back of Clark's throat where Clark feels tight and clumsy and hungry. He can keep himself from coughing, but he can't keep himself from groaning, and from closing his eyes again so he can focus on the *feeling* --

"No, Clark -- open. You --"

Oh --

"Look at me. Let me -- let me see you."

He'd like to know *what* Bruce is seeing, but he thinks, maybe, it would be a little too much. He can feel how flushed he is, and how much worse it's getting every time Bruce thrusts. There are no good words for what Bruce is doing to him now, and even trying to think the curse words makes Clark feel like he's both pretending to be someone he's not *and* making an idiot of himself.

It's just that he doesn't think he has a choice about -- it. Bruce is *fucking* his mouth, stroking and petting his hair and -- one thrust after another after another, and Clark can't keep himself from trying for more, even though he wants to cough.

It's easy enough to hold it back -- he'd learned how to control things like that years ago, because he always wound up sitting next to old Mrs. Merriman in church, and she'd always worn *far* too much perfume --

He can hold it back, and keep taking this, even though it makes it harder to breathe. He can go without air for a long time, though, and if it makes Bruce feel --


If it makes Bruce sound like that, Clark can do anything, *be* anything, look right up into Bruce's eyes and think about everything he wants to do, everything he wants Bruce to do --

Starting with having him *grip* Clark's head, hold him still, right here, right -- here, and now every thrust is an even thing, *precise* even though Bruce is breathing heavily -- almost panting, now, and Clark isn't sure if the sounds coming out of Bruce would be heard by a human in this position, and so it all feels like a secret present. A *gift*, just for him.

Special -- not just different.

Clark rests his hands on Bruce's hips and rides the motion and holds on, and keeps looking until Bruce closes his eyes --

And then he has to close his eyes, too. It's too much, and too perfect, and he's just about ready to try to bargain with the universe to make this go on forever when Bruce stops breathing, stills all over, and ejaculates in his mouth.

*Comes* in his mouth, and he thinks he likes that word better. It's softer, and more intimate, and Bruce tastes like salt and something deeper. More animal. More -- *more*.

Clark swallows and sucks, and --

Bruce pushes back. Okay. He can -- he can *wait*, even though he's very hard again, and now the whole world seems to smell like Bruce and *sex*. Bruce stops a few paces away and -- breathes. Evenly, just as if he hadn't been holding his breath before. He's Batman, and he can do that, even though Clark is having a hard time not gasping and he has powers.

Clark watches him stand straight, tense, and then very visibly *relax* -- "Bruce...?"

"Yes," he says, and opens his eyes, and -- Clark's really glad he hadn't tried to stand up. That expression --

There's too much there. He can recognize pleasure, and something which is probably what happiness looks like on Bruce (it is, he knows it is), and -- and he doesn't know what else. It's an *important* expression, and Clark thinks he'd like to remember it.

He doesn't really understand why he remembers some things and not others, but he has to believe that if Bruce had ever looked at him this way he *would've* remembered it. And --

"Can we... could we do... more?"

"That depends," Bruce says, coming closer and dropping into a crouch in front of Clark, "on how you define 'more.'"


He *wouldn't* have defined it as anything which involved Bruce putting on one of the more heavily-armored gauntlets and -- and *fingering* him with it on, but Clark has to admit that he's spent most of the last hour really *thinking* about it. It's not that Bruce had hurt him -- anything but -- but he'd never really considered that sort of --

Well, it's not like he'd considered very much. He'd only just barely realized that a lot of the words and feelings the other guys described when they were talking about girls *also* described how he felt about guys, and -- he knows that it's not just because he's an alien. Bruce doesn't even seem to think about it very much, and -- he has all of those memories.

Lois hadn't used her fingers.

He'd squeezed too hard for Dick to -- to *continue* --

And if he keeps blushing his way through the nice lunch that Alfred had made for him, he's going to feel pretty silly. And feel some other things, too.

It's just that Bruce has gone back to *working*. He's even wearing pants, again, and it doesn't matter that Clark is, too. The pants are too long *and* a little too tight in the hips and thighs. The t-shirt is tight on his shoulders, but fits all right in other ways --

He's wearing Dick's clothes, but they don't smell like any of his memories. That may be for the best, considering --

("Relax for me. Breathe... good, Clark. Very -- hmm.")


And considering the fact that he'd finished all of his sandwiches and started in on Bruce's without even thinking. Clark swallows. "Bruce --"

"Eat them all," Bruce says, without turning around.

"But -- what about you? You should really eat something after -- um."

"All of that 'exercise,' Clark...?"

He wasn't really going to say anything like that. Was he? Clark stares at the avocado and sprouts sandwich. It doesn't have any answers for him, but it's easier to look at than the back of Bruce's head, right now.

"I'm reasonably certain that Alfred intended for you to eat the lion's share of those sandwiches, Clark. I'm not a vegetarian."

"Oh. All right. But -- I'm a vegetarian?"

Bruce stops typing. His scent changes, but Clark isn't sure how to translate that into information he can use, or even fully understand.

"I mean -- I will *be* a vegetarian? Do you know why?"

"Hm. You don't see auras, do you," he says, and it's better that Bruce turns around for that -- Clark just can't seem to make himself comfortable with the extremely limited amount of eye contact Bruce seems to expect -- but the question is still kind of incomprehensible.

"You mean... lights? Around people?"

"People, animals -- all living things," Bruce says, and steeples his fingers. "You're not seeing one around me."

"I -- I think I'd notice. Sorry?"

Bruce nods. "Perhaps not the thing to worry about at this time."

It's definitely something to consider. If he could see... well, he already sees more of the world than humans do. It's mostly something he tries *not* to think about, but... he thinks it must be beautiful, what the man he's going to grow up to be will see.

The world must be so -- so *bright*.

Clark smiles to himself and goes back to eating. After another moment, Bruce turns back to his computers.

He's most of the way through a tomato and cheddar sandwich when the sound of an engine sort of pulls away from the background hum of Gotham and starts getting closer. He remembers that the manor has neighbors, but they're all quite far away -- if not so far as his parents' neighbors. It's the first engine he's heard this close for almost two hours now, though he supposes it's possible that it isn't coming here --

And then two of the monitors above Bruce's head switch to an outside view, and Clark watches a red motorcycle zoom past. Is it -- "Is that Robin?"

"You tell me, Clark."

"Oh, I -- I didn't get a very good look --"

"Size, body language... style?"

He starts to say he can't really be sure, but -- he already knew that he processed information faster than humans. The sound of the engine is getting closer, and he knows it's Robin, it has to be Robin, it's just -- "He's very -- he's smaller than I am. And very -- he didn't seem very relaxed, but he also didn't seem tense, as opposed to focused."

"Hm. Anything else?"

"I think -- well, I can't be sure, but I think he was enjoying himself. Or -- it seemed as though... there was something. I'm not sure. But I'd be surprised if he wasn't at least a little bit... pleased. About something."

Bruce doesn't stop typing this time, but -- "Perhaps the pleasure of the bike itself...?"

"Does Robin -- the current Robin -- does he like to drive?"

"You don't know him very well."

"I don't? Or -- was that a question?"

Bruce doesn't answer him right away, and this is an excellent excuse to finish the sandwich. There are only two left, and -- he'll leave one for Bruce. He might not be able to make him eat it, but -- or maybe Robin is hungry? He remembers -- there was a diner. Or maybe -- there is a diner, and he'd gotten to take Robin there once -- only that was Dick.

Hm... "I don't think -- I remember --" A bright smile and a hand swallowed in his own. A sharper smile and a larger smile. Red, gold, and -- green. "I remember being introduced to Dick, and to Jason, but not to... to. I don't know his name, Bruce."

Bruce makes a sound like he's been hit. That really seems to be the only way to describe it. "I never -- you were never formally introduced."

Oddly, that makes him feel a little better. Clark picks up what looks like a mushroom and mozzarella sandwich. "*Do* I know his name? I mean -- is it okay for me to know it?"

"Yes. And -- yes," Bruce says, and stands up. He walks toward the other vehicles, and, after about a minute, Robin pulls in -- slowing enough that the bike rolls to a stop exactly within one of the empty spaces.

He pulls off the helmet, and Clark takes the opportunity to just look at him. There's a superficial resemblance to Dick, but it's as much of one as there is to Jason. He moves more like Bruce than either of them had as he gets off the bike, and his eyes have a hint of grey in their blue.

His cheekbones are sharp, as is the line of his jaw -- and it seems like barely a second has passed before Robin's looking *right* at him.

"Company," he says, and his voice is quiet and precise and more than a little questioning.

He doesn't look at Bruce. Clark puts the sandwich down -- a little regretfully -- remembers to wipe his hands on a napkin as opposed to on Dick's pants, stands up, and hopes nothing will rip before he can walk closer.

"Tim," Bruce says, and *that* makes the other boy look at Bruce. It's not that he narrows his eyes, it's just that it looks like he wants to.

Clark manages to bump into two of the cars on his way over, it's just that -- it's just that it's Robin, even though the only bright color on him is the red of his jacket. It's -- it's *Robin*, and Clark thinks he might be smiling too widely.

Especially because Robin starts to take a step back -- Bruce squeezes his shoulder. "I'd like you to meet -- Clark Kent."

Robin -- will he get to call him Tim? -- stiffens, but the motion of his head as he turns back to face Clark is almost too smooth. Just as the expression in his eyes is too hard. In his mind, Clark knows that Tim is just examining him the way everyone else has today, but it's still a little hard to look at directly.

Looking at Bruce is -- easier. Especially since he's saving all of his attention for -- Tim.


"Not that Zatanna could discern," Bruce says, releasing Tim's shoulder and -- it seems like he's giving him room.

Tim brings one hand up to his own chin and *actually* narrows his eyes. "I wasn't aware of any Kryptonite which could have this effect, save for the rather disconcertingly random red. Hm. Clark, do you remember --"

"I -- no. I remember laying my clothes out for school last night, and -- I woke up this way. Could I call you Tim?"

Tim blinks. Twice. "You -- yes. Your memories are... spotty? Or do you have memories of being an adult at all?"

"I --" Clark looks at Bruce, but now he isn't looking at either of them. It occurs to Clark that one or both of them are being tested. Probably both. "Spotty. Vague -- kind of... strange," Clark says, and reaches out. "It's nice to meet you, Tim."

Tim takes his hand and squeezes it. His palm is dry and his hand is small, hard like Dick's had been, and -- "Likewise," Tim says, and blinks again, and smiles.

It's not a very big smile, and it doesn't seem very warm, but it's still the first smile he's seen all day, and the fact that Clark knows his expression is a little ridiculous won't let him control it very much. And -- "I've always admired you, Robin. Very much."

"Inasmuch as you remember... Robin," Tim says, and takes his hand back.

"Well... yes."

And then there's a moment which is a little strange. Tim seems to examine Bruce, too -- Bruce stands still for it -- and then he turns back to *him*, and --


"We should find you better-fitting clothes... Clark."

Somehow, it seems as though Tim knows -- something. Or perhaps everything. It's in the second glance he gives to Bruce, and it's in the tightening of the smile on his face -- still amused, but now amused very *specifically*, and --

"I'll need you to stay here with Clark, Tim. Bruce Wayne needs to make an appearance at WE."

"I presume we're not letting him operate in his current state...?"

"No," Bruce says, and the look he gives Clark is... completely unreadable. Which doesn't seem right, considering everything, but then, maybe, Bruce doesn't want *Tim* considering everything? Or... he's not sure.

It's all he can do not to shuffle his feet, and it's worse when Tim nods and moves away from them both. *He* doesn't bump into the cars, and he heads straight for the lockers. Clark tries looking at Bruce again, but --

"It's all right," he says, and squeezes Clark's shoulders. "You've always enjoyed spending time with Robin, Clark."

There's a joke in his voice, and another that seems to be hidden in the set of Tim's shoulders when Clark turns to look, but it doesn't really feel as though they're laughing *with* him. "I -- all right? Will you be back soon?"

"Sometime before dinner, if all goes according to plan," Bruce says, and turns to walk toward the stairs. Clark follows.

"There will always be someone with you, Clark."

"Oh, I --" Clark blushes and yanks the t-shirt down, and -- it's not his shirt. He stops. "It's not that -- I don't need a *babysitter*, Bruce --"

"I didn't mean to imply you did. We need to have you under observation, however, and Tim won't be able to stay for very long." He looks at Tim.

Tim doesn't look back over his shoulder, but he seems to feel it, just the same. "I need to be home at six-thirty," Tim says, and pulls off his jacket.

"Noted," Bruce says, and starts up the stairs. And doesn't say anything else before he's gone.

Tim seems to be changing into workout clothes, and -- and Clark doesn't have to watch him do it. He probably *shouldn't* watch him do it, even though they're both guys. Both -- kids. Clark frowns and goes back to sit at the small table with the sandwiches.

And -- looks.

His shoulders aren't as broad as Dick's were when he was that age, and maybe they won't ever be very broad at all. He's -- he's almost *skinny*, even with all the muscle... though that doesn't seem to make people believe he isn't fit to go out and help people. Of course, he knows it's not about size as much as it's about control, and training... hm. "How long were you in training with Bruce?"

"I still am," Tim says, and crouches to tie his trainers. "Formally, though... a year," he says, and stands up until he's on his toes, rocks on his heels, and bounces. Jumps. Quite high, actually, even though it seems as though he's testing the fit of the trainers more than anything else.

Robins can *fly*. So can he, apparently -- or, he will be able to, and -- that still seems very strange. *Wonderful*, but strange.

After another few jumps, Tim stops and -- stops. He seems to be thinking, and Clark's a little nervous about what he's thinking about. What if Tim is Bruce's -- lover? Bruce doesn't seem to have the same... the same *attitudes* about that as he does.

Not that Lois does, either, but...

Clark reaches for the last sandwich -- chopped tomatoes and what smells like basil and other spices. Maybe some balsamic vinegar. The bread is fresh and -- no. He's not *very* hungry, anymore. "Tim? Are you -- there's a sandwich," he says, and looks up, hoping --

He's not sure what he's hoping for. What he gets is -- well, it's a look. There's a smile on his face, but it seems distant, like maybe it has more to do with something amusing Clark can't possibly know about than anything here in the Cave with them.

"I -- did you have lunch?"

"A quick one. But if you're not hungry," Tim says, and walks over. It's another chance just to watch, to see, to -- he should have more memories, more thoughts than just the realization that Tim doesn't wear the same uniform. The way he moves...

It's not so much like Bruce, anymore. It doesn't seem tense so much as very deliberately *not* tensed. Definitely not relaxed, and -- when Clark looks up Tim is looking at his face. "Um. Sorry --"

"Don't be. I'm someone you're absolutely sure you *should* know, and your memories aren't being very helpful at the moment. Right?" Tim puts out his hand, palm up --

Clark squeezes it -- and then remembers that he was supposed to give Tim a sandwich. "Sorry," he says, again, and grabs for the sandwich. The fact that he manages to neither drop it on the floor or crush it into a delicious paste feels like a victory. Tim is right. Clark *should* know him, if only because Bruce is his best friend, and Tim is Bruce's -- partner.

That much, at least, he can be sure of.

It's a surprise when Tim joins him at the little table and just -- starts eating. Maybe he means it's disconcerting -- Tim is still looking at him. "Um."

Tim raises an eyebrow, and there's something almost soothing about it, actually. If it was Bruce, there wouldn't be quite so much *light* in the eyes.

Clark straightens up in the chair. "Bruce -- he said I was allowed to use your name... before. Even though we were never introduced."

Tim nods. He isn't blinking enough, and -- okay, Clark can just *ask*.

"Would you tell me why?"

Tim swallows and puts the sandwich down. "I told you to. I -- you probably don't remember No Man's Land."

He doesn't, and the explanation is boggling. Governments don't *work* that way, and heroes don't -- no, he's stuck on boggling. "I didn't stay?"

"Your methods weren't very... effective," Tim says, leaning back in the chair and tapping the table lightly and rhythmically with his fingertips. His hands look more like Dick's than anything else about him. "Still, you were welcome enough. You brought supplies when you could. And you were very warm to stand next to."

Clark frowns, and -- doesn't reach for the sandwich that Tim's currently not in the process of eating. He has no hope whatsoever that Tim didn't see him thinking about it, which makes it a relief when Tim picks it up and takes another bite. "It just doesn't seem... we've never... worked together?"

"We've worked... parallel to each other, Clark, but no. We've never been a team."

"Oh. Would you -- did you ever want to be?"

Tim's smile, this time -- it still doesn't show any teeth, but it's there and it's. Clark thinks he wants to call it 'welcoming.' "Of course. And there's something of a tradition... part of me has always assumed it would happen someday. Team-ups are unpredictable in their timing and content, but happen predictably often, just the same."

Clark nods. That's -- that's a little better. He watches Tim eat and wonders if they'll still be able to talk while Tim is training. Will there be anything he can help with? Probably not. If there was, then Tim wouldn't be planning to train alone, and Bruce has probably trained Tim to the point where he could make all kinds of *observations* about Clark even when he's doing other things. It's just...

Tim dabs his mouth with a napkin. "Yes, Clark...?"

"I want to know you. You're -- you're Robin. I'm pretty sure that means --"

"That we should be friends?"

"Well..." Clark shifts a little. It isn't that the chair is uncomfortable -- he realizes that he's fidgeting and frowns at himself.

"Clark --"

"I think so. I mean -- yes, it does. We should all be friends, or at least know each other well enough that we could be," Clark says, and makes himself meet Tim's eyes again. He looks -- well, he still looks like he's studying Clark more than he's doing anything else, but Clark's just going to have to get used to that. Maybe if he studies Tim right back.

"You're reminding me of your -- hm. Never mind," Tim says, and takes another bite of his sandwich. *He's* not fidgeting, but there's a definite sense that he could be.

"My what?"

"Trust me, Clark. It's a conversation we don't need to have at the moment."

"That's --" Clark puts his hands on the table and frowns at Tim. "I'm really -- really sick of that. I'm not a baby, you know."

For a moment, Tim just keeps eating. He doesn't seem to be looking at anything right now -- definitely not at *him*, and that's really -- he doesn't like that. "Tim --"

Tim makes a small sound and pushes the chair backwards until it falls over and he can roll off.

"What --"

"Your eyes are glowing, Clark," Tim says, from under the table. "How much control do you have over your heat-vision, exactly...?"

"Heat -- what are you -- can I really set fire to things with my *eyes*?"

"I'll take that as 'none whatsoever,'" Tim says, and reaches up to tap on the table. "Close your eyes."

"I -- why -- they're closed," Clark says.

He can hear Tim moving, quickly and quietly, and after a moment Tim's behind him.

"What are you --" Clark starts to turn --

"Please don't do that. Unless -- are you feeling more relaxed than you did before?"

"Well... *no*," Clark says. "I really -- do you really think I was going to set you on *fire*? I wouldn't ever --"

"On purpose," Tim says, and places his hands on Clark's shoulders. "I'm aware of that. Think of this as an exercise in caution, as opposed to one of mistrust. What can I do to improve your mood?"

Clark probably shouldn't be thinking of Bruce's mouth on the back of his neck, and all the different ways he'd *made* Clark want to be open, ready, *everything* -- "Ow."

Tim squeezes his shoulders. "'Ow...?'"

"My eyelids -- well, they're. It feels like. They're very warm."

"Hm. Stand up. I'm going to lead you somewhere you can't cause much damage --"

"This --" It shouldn't be that difficult to just stand up, but he manages to kick the chair. And the table. "I --"

"You're used to using your rather prodigious vision, but you have other senses, Clark," Tim says, and Clark listens to him move -- in front of him.

He wants to *see*, but --

"Put your hands on my shoulders."

It takes a moment to find them, as opposed to Tim's back and arms. He feels smaller, even, than he looks -- he's not sure -- "How old are you?"

"Sixteen," Tim says, and begins to walk. "And you think of yourself as being...?"

"Um, fifteen," Clark says, and thinks about it. Tim is smaller than Lois, even, and so he must be used to Clark towering over him. It's just that it doesn't seem to be throwing him even as much as it's throwing Bruce. They *must* not know each other. "I just -- I don't want you to treat me like -- like some kind of lab rat."

"It's tempting to say something along the lines of me wondering how you haven't started becoming accustomed to that treatment with Bruce, but... well," Tim says. His pace is steady and even, and... it's not that bad. If Clark thinks about it, he has a pretty workable map of the Cave in his mind. He just has to stop thinking about the Cave in his *memories*.

The first time he'd been here, the place had been much emptier --

"Slight rise," Tim says, and steps up -- onto the mats.

"All right. And -- Bruce did a lot of tests. Mostly I was unconscious. He'd used the green Kryptonite on me."

"Mm. Your resistance to it must be very, very low."

"I think so," Clark says, and keeps walking. "Where are we going?"

"About another three hundred yards in this direction. The damage from the 'quake was too extensive to make it worth repairing."

"I -- I could've helped." If anyone had *let* him --

"Yes, you could've," Tim says. "Perhaps you still can, someday."

Clark -- doesn't trip. It's a near thing, but he manages. "Really?"

"Yes. And -- what do you want to know about me?"

He's not going to say 'really' again. "Well -- what's your last name?"


Tim Drake. Tim -- "Do you have a middle name?"

"The ceiling drops here," he says, and pauses. "And no, I don't. Yours is... Jerome, yes?"

The question seems more polite than meant, and somehow... "You know everything about me," he says, and ducks. He feels the rock brushing against his hair.

"I know a large number of *facts* about you. It's not the same," Tim says, and moves to the side.

Clark lets go. "I -- here?"

Tim squeezes his arm. "Go ahead."

Clark opens his eyes slowly. It's dark over here, and there's something a little thrilling about that. They must be inside one of the thick shadows of the Cave, some place not remotely designed for human occupation. It feels a little like being, oh -- maybe in Bruce's bedroom, or somewhere -- he's not sure.

And he's not burning anything.

"Um --"

Tim hums. "You're feeling better. That's good."

"I --" He's not disappointed. He's really -- really not. "I really thought -- I mean, I didn't notice when it -- stopped."

"You also didn't notice when it started, but I did. Shall I say something annoying?"

"Please don't." Clark frowns and stares into the... the dark isn't complete. He can see tumbled stone, and he can hear, from somewhere behind it, the steady drip of water. The echoes suggest... Clark slides one foot forward and pretty much immediately finds a drop. "Are we -- is this a cliff?"

"Useful for test detonations. I -- according to the files, there's another way to trigger the heat vision. I'm just not sure how to... approach it."

He'd been thinking about Bruce, and --

He can still see -- he can see better than he had before -- it's just that the world is washed with red, and full of the scent of burning dust. "Oh -- goodness."

"Hm. If you don't mind my asking...?"

It would be a terrible idea to turn to face Tim, as opposed to continuing to burn *through* the large stone partially blocking the other side of the chasm. "Um. Bruce. And -- Bruce."

"Noted," Tim says, and there's a sound of fabric, skin on skin --

"What -- what were you doing?"

"Hmm. Folding my arms under the cape I'm not wearing, actually."

"Oh." The stone begins to run. The sight makes Clark wish he hadn't eaten quite so many sandwiches. What possible good could come from a power like this? The rest of the thing is riddled with cracks, and the inside of his head feels... not smoky. Not really. Something else warm and dry and wrong. "I don't suppose... I mean, is there anything in your notes about how I turn this *off*? I can't walk around with my eyes closed every time I get an -- um."

"Considering -- ah. You don't think your earlier frustration is playing as much of a role as sexual arousal?"

There's absolutely nothing sexy about the way Tim had said that. He knows, he would've noticed. It's just that he's Robin, and standing right there, and he's Robin. Grace and competence and -- hope. Something like it. Even though Tim's voice is making him think of film-strips and the kind of embarrassment which only gets worse when you notice that the other seven boys are squirming, too.

"You should probably try blinking," Tim says, after another moment, and that reminds Clark that he hadn't *been* blinking for rather a while, and that he really doesn't want to.

He narrows his eyes, instead -- and another hunk of half-melted rock falls down into the chasm. Clark gives up and closes his eyes, and immediately feels like he's stabbing his own eyelids while also burning them. "This -- this really stings, Tim."

"It's really quite curious that it didn't happen before --"

"I wasn't *angry* before," and Clark realizes that he is, now. He would've said frustrated, or confused, or --

"Yes. Your body is out of your control --"

"*Yes*," Clark says, and balls his hands into fists.

"None of us are being exactly helpful --"

"You don't -- you keep teasing me with everything I don't know about myself, like -- like it's some kind of *game* --"

"You weren't allowed to speak to your parents...?"

"They'd only *worry*, and I've already made them -- they put up with so much --"

"And we're not letting you help people. And it's not the first time and it probably won't be the last," Tim says, and his voice is a terrible thing, grating and quiet. *Calm*, just as if it doesn't mean a thing that Clark's entire life is wrong, and the inside of his *head* is wrong, and --

And. Clark loosens his fists. "I wasn't thinking about all of it before."

"Bruce can be quite distracting. When the mood strikes him."

"And then he just *left*, and you're not even --" Clark bites his lip. "I'm --"

"I'm not the right Robin, no. I am, in fact, a walking, talking reminder of that which you've -- lost."

"I --" Clark knows he's facing the right way. "You should -- you should duck," Clark says, and gives himself just one more *moment* -- and opens his eyes. Everything is red, grey shapes within a bright, burning *mass*. He's expecting the melt, disturbing as it is, but the rocks he's looking at start to shake -- "Oh, no," he says, and closes his eyes and dives to cover as much of Tim as he can.

It's less of a boom than a giant, intimidating *crack*, and then Clark's being hit with what feels like hundreds of mostly small, warm rocks -- Tim hisses, once, and maybe the rocks are more than just warm. Clark huddles over him more, and wishes he could just be *bigger*.

"I'm *sorry* --"

"I'm not --" Tim coughs, and it sounds harsh and a little frightening, but Clark knows that coughs always do. He can hear *everything* going on inside Tim's body, and he can feel some of it. The air smells burnt and wrong, and --

"I'm going to --" Clark runs them away from the choking cloud. The mats are the softest place here, and that's not really soft *enough*, but Tim braces himself on them, breathes sharply, and then breathes deeply.

Clark backs away enough that he can stroke Tim's back, and arms -- there's a shift in the temperature of the skin of his forearm, and, when Clark looks, he's already blistering, a little. Clark frowns and runs upstairs for ice. By the time he gets back, Tim is settling into a crouch and examining the wound himself.

He takes the ice without a word and hums at the feel of it. Clark checks Tim over as much as he can for more wounds, but he can't see anything. Maybe if he --

Well, it's *kind* of nice to know that there's nothing wrong with his bones other than the fact that several of them have been broken over the years. Clark reaches out to touch the hand with the most old breaks, and blinks until he's just seeing pale skin with a layer of dust.

"Are you all right?"

Tim looks up at him from under his lashes. It's not... it's a smile that isn't broad enough to reach the rest of his face, and it's a little more than that, too. "Exciting," he says.

"I'm -- really sorry."

Tim tilts his head to the side. "For letting me work you up until you had to release some of the... tension?" His eyes are still very bright.

"Is that --" Clark wraps his arms around himself and -- stops. He keeps his hands at his sides. "You did that on *purpose*?"

Tim rolls up onto his feet and presses the towel with the ice in it harder against his arm. He doesn't wince. "To a certain extent. Let me tell you why."

Well, that -- "Please," Clark says, and catches himself nodding -- he doesn't need to nod. It's just that --

"You've been training to keep yourself under quite rigid controls since you began understanding English, Clark. That sort of thing has... hm. Side effects," Tim says, and steps closer. He's only a few inches shorter than Clark is, but when he's this close...

When he's this close, it's hard to focus on things other than his heartbeat, and the way it's just a little bit faster than it was when he'd arrived at the Cave. It's actually a little soothing to know that he *isn't* as calm as he seems to be, and -- none of that has anything to do with what Tim had actually said. "Side effects?"

"When was the last time -- before a few moments ago -- that you were angry?"

"I..." The ice is shifting in the towel, and it only takes a moment to tie it tight and press it back against Tim's skin -- gently.

Tim looks down at his arm after he's done -- and then smiles up at Clark. "Thank you. And I'm going to go ahead and assume it's been at least several months."

Maybe more like a year. Or -- maybe more, but --

"The circumstances are extraordinary, of course. However there have still been occasions when you could've become angry, could've allowed yourself to *feel* the emotion, but -- you didn't. You were afraid you'd... show your hand. Your speed, or perhaps your strength. You swallowed it back, instead. And did the same the next time, and the next, and the next --"

"I had to, Tim. I can't let anyone -- know." And of course that's ridiculous *here*, but -- how *had* he decided to share everything with Bruce and the rest of the League? How could that have ever happened?

"When something... frustrates me in my civilian life, I have an outlet. It's potentially dangerous to think of it that way, but it would be even more dangerous not to allow it to myself."

"You -- you were giving *me* an outlet." Clark rubs his palms on Dick's pants and -- puts his hands in his pockets. They're much too tight for that, though, and he feels a stitch let go. He yanks his hands back out and --

Tim catches one of Clark's hands with his free one and squeezes it. His hand seems very strong. "You've had your eyes open for quite some time now, Clark."

Oh. He -- he *has*. "I... you think I should have *less* control?"

Tim... laughs. It doesn't last very long, and it's very quiet, but --

"That's two," Clark says, and smiles.


"You were the first person who smiled at me today, and now you're the first person to laugh because I've said something funny."

"Hmm," Tim says, and brushes Clark's knuckles with his hard, callused thumb before releasing his hand. "Don't get me wrong, Clark, but that's somewhat disturbing."

Oh, well... hm. "You're not very... demonstrative, usually, are you?"

"Not as a rule, no," Tim says, stepping back and removing the makeshift ice-pack. "I'll have to bandage it for tonight, at least -- don't apologize again."

Clark stops with his hands raised. He's not sure what he was going to do with them, in all honesty. "I -- it's possible that I wouldn't have said that, as opposed to --"

"Mm. For certain very narrow values of possible, yes," Tim says, and the expression on his face somehow looks like an even better variety of laughter than before, even though he's silent.

Perhaps Clark's hands had seen that coming and had been preparing to touch. "I like you."

"I like you, too," and then Tim turns away and walks toward the part of the Cave which looks like a chunk of a well-stocked emergency room had, somehow, grown itself up out of the stone. Clark follows, and watches Tim apply some sort of ointment to his arm.

It doesn't have very much of a scent even to Clark's senses, which is probably -- "Most of your medicines are odorless...?"

"Whenever possible," Tim says, and flexes his hand back and forth on the bad arm.

"Because you don't want the criminals to think about the fact that you can be hurt," Clark says, and nods when Tim does. "I -- you can probably bandage yourself without any help."

"Yes. But I was still planning on asking." There's a little... extra? It's not that Tim is blushing, but there's a hint of it, and slightly more heat when Clark reaches up to -- not touch.

Not quite. Just -- he has such sharp cheekbones, and his features are even and... neat, somehow. Clark wants -- "Will you tell me what -- do you and Bruce ever just talk? Or... hang out?" Make love?

Tim pulls out gauze, tape, and scissors and lays them on a small tray. "It's my understanding that Bruce and Dick sometimes watched films together... there have been times when I've watched a movie down here while Bruce was working. And it's always rather companionable when we're both, say, doing our cool-down exercises."

In Clark's mind, Bruce and Tim are stretching in a strange sort of tandem, silently rhythmic and... silent. He pulls some tape away from the roll, and Tim nods when it's the right length. "You're not... you're not friends?"

"I wouldn't say that," and Tim flexes his arm again and frowns -- stops. "It's really not that painful, Clark. I was just considering what sort of effects scar tissue here might have."

Clark pulls a second length of tape. "This time I really wasn't going to apologize."

"All right --"

"I was just -- he seems different, somehow."

Tim raises an eyebrow and lays the gauze flat on his arm. "From the man in your memories?"

"Yes. No -- there are things I *know* that don't really feel like memories as opposed to like... I don't know. Things I believe?"

"You're taking a lot on faith...?" He holds his arm up, and there's plenty of space between the end of the bandage and the actual burn, but Clark still feels like he has to concentrate.

Tim's arms are as lean as the rest of him, and the skin is as thin and vulnerable as it is on any human, and Clark has to admit that this sort of thing is made up of far more theory than practice. Still, he doesn't cause any more pain taping the gauze down, and, when he's done, Tim nods at his work.

"This should get me through tonight's patrol. Though I'll have to come up with an excuse for my parents tonight."

Parents. That -- for a moment, Clark wonders if Tim thinks of Alfred as his mother, but that would involve thinking of Bruce as his father, and -- no, that doesn't seem to work at all. "You -- you're not an orphan?"

"My birth mother was killed a few years ago. I have a father and a stepmother, and I live with them," Tim says. "And if you keep making that face I'm going to start feeling very strange, indeed, Clark."

"I -- well..." Clark watches Tim head for the weights and thinks about it. If Tim doesn't live here, that would maybe help explain why he's not as close to Bruce as he could be, or...

Maybe Bruce just doesn't want to interfere in Tim's life? There's something about the later, vaguer memories of Dick in his mind which makes that thought seem better and more plausible.

Something had happened, there, and while he can't be sure about this, it would definitely make sense for it to be something he wasn't allowed to have a part of. He's only ever been their friend. Clark nods to himself and moves to put away the bandaging materials -- but Tim has already done so.

And now he's lifting weights, breathing evenly while he does so. He's stronger than he looks, but then he would almost have to be. Clark had stopped trying to measure how much he could pick up the first day he'd caught himself lifting the tractor to jog it a little, and convince one of the barn cats that it didn't really want to sleep in the engine.

That sort of measurement has no point -- it's not like he's ever going to have someone to brag to -- but he thinks, maybe, it has to be different for Tim. He has people to measure himself against every day, and maybe it's something he's supposed to do over and above not being able to avoid it, and --

It's possible that he's just supposed to go find something to do -- there must be a library upstairs, somewhere -- and leave Tim alone, but Clark kind of has to *see*.

There's another one of those tiny smiles when Tim looks at him, and that's enough of a reason for Clark to take one of the empty benches and just... hang out.

Of course he spends time with Pete -- he'd *spent* time with Pete, and Clark isn't sure if he wants to know what Pete is doing *now* -- but then he'd always had to be careful. Tim knows everything and then some, and Robin -- this is another *true* thing -- is allowed to have fun even when he's working.

"Why don't you tell me what you like to do for fun, Clark...?"

Clark curls his fingers around the edge of the bench and smiles, just for himself.


Bruce gets back just a little after six, which means Clark had pretty much just enough time to get used to the idea -- the threat -- of Bruce and Tim talking about him as if he wasn't there before it happens again.

They talk about his heat vision, and Tim shows Bruce the damage. At one point, Bruce catches Tim's injured arm, and it feels like both of them are very *loudly* not looking at him, or maybe at each other. It's impossible to tell, and Bruce doesn't touch the bandage before letting go.

After that, they talk about how they're going to patrol for the evening, and that's much easier to tune out, especially since their speech is peppered with a lot of pretty seriously incomprehensible codes.

All the while, Tim is changing back into his street clothes. He hadn't worked up much of a sweat while working out -- and Clark has to wonder what his *real* training regimen is like -- but he also hasn't showered.

Tim smells a little like salt with the faintest *edge* of something Clark's come to identify as pain, though it's probably not enough for Tim to be fully aware of it. Combined with Bruce's scents -- cologne, the plastics of the utility belt under his shirt, himself -- it's all a little bit... Clark thinks this is what the word 'heady' is for.

Certainly, it's something nice to focus on while he waits to find out who's going to be watching him next. Maybe it will be Batgirl. He never really knew Batgirl -- he's sure of that -- but she's young, too. Maybe they'll get along -- Tim's coming back.

Clark slips down off the gurney and smiles -- and Tim smiles back.

"Just in case Bruce... forgets to tell you before he leaves, Dick's coming over from the 'haven."

"Oh! I haven't seen him... I... I'm not sure."

Tim's smile turns crooked, and somewhat lopsided. "Knowing Dick, he probably won't be entirely sure, either. But that sort of math isn't exactly a productive use of one's time. Tell him I said 'hello.'"

Clark nods and thinks about it and -- takes Tim's hand in his own. "Are you sure you can't stay?"

"Positive," Tim says, and looks down at their hands. "I had a good time today."

"I did, too. Maybe -- well, if I'm still here, tomorrow, I mean..." Clark squeezes Tim's hand gently. "Maybe you could show me around? I mean... outside?"

"Clark, if I get more than three hours of direct sunlight per week, Bruce puts me on punishment."

"I --" Bruce is stripping out of his suit and apparently not paying any attention to either of them, which probably means he's making note of absolutely everything, but. "Well, you're not very big," Clark says. "I could sort of... shadow you," and Clark lets go of Tim's hand and raises his arms above his head in his best impression of a very friendly tree.

Tim nods very seriously. "It could still be dangerous. You could... hm. Sneeze."

"Maybe if I ran you between patches of shade. While also covering you."

"Of course, I'd have to wear a burqa."

Clark lowers his arms. "Is that something that covers you from head to foot?"

"Oh, yes. I'll have three to nine layers of sunblock on beneath it, too."

"That sounds... slippery."

"Proper precautions are an important part of the Mission, Clark," Tim says, and heads for his locker.

"Of course," Clark says and only follows close enough that Tim's scent doesn't dilute itself much in the air of the Cave. A faintly more powerful wave of it comes when Tim swings his jacket back on, and it's...

Well, it's something he remembers from before pretty much everything else. It doesn't *feel* strange to be able to smell people so clearly, even though he knows it's not the same for humans. He's been doing it for as long as he can remember. It's comforting, and it's always somewhat warm in ways he can't figure out how to describe.

It's another kind of closeness, and with Tim, perhaps, it's another kind of touch. Tim hasn't hugged him, after all, and maybe he just doesn't like it as much as Dick does. This is something Clark can have.

"What are you thinking, Clark?" Tim zips up his jacket.

"Oh, just -- about closeness. Being close to someone." Like you.

Tim narrows his eyes slightly, and his expression slips into something like a thoughtful frown. And then he steps close, for just a moment, and raises both eyebrows. Clark thinks --

All he can really think, for what feels like much too long, is that Tim is close enough to kiss. Really -- maybe --

Maybe Tim will assume he's blushing because of something else. Or --

Or maybe he'll just look into Clark's eyes just like this, and search and search like he could find everything, *see* everything. Not just all the things that Clark is trying hard to push to the back of his mind. Clark takes a deep breath -- and smells *new* sweat. Not much. Not --

Tim steps back, again, and Clark knows that if he were to reach out, now, he'd feel the heat building again beneath Tim's cheeks. There are other places to feel heat, too, and he can -- they could --

"Tim --"

"I'll see you tomorrow, Clark," Tim says, and it seems like he might say something else, but he doesn't before he turns to head for the vehicles, and the fact that Clark has been following Tim around the Cave all afternoon... well, there's really no excuse to keep doing it now.

Clark watches him go, and then he listens.

When the bike's engine fades into the sound of all the other engines, he takes another breath, and turns, and -- Bruce is right there. And watching him so -- so *heavily* that Clark doesn't even jump.

Well, not on the outside. And he has no illusions that Bruce didn't see him do it on the *inside*. "Um."

"You're attracted to him," Bruce says, just as if that's *nothing* --

"I -- he's very --"

"I'd wondered," and then he tilts his head to the side very slightly. "That's not entirely accurate."

Clark scrubs his hands against his pants -- Dick's pants. He remembers that he can't use the pockets and he crosses his arms. Loosely. Mostly loosely. "What isn't -- it's not?"

"I couldn't be sure how... specific your attraction was. As opposed to being quite sure that you continued to be fascinated with Robin."

That's -- Clark's not sure if that was supposed to sound like an insult or not, and he knows that the look on his face is probably pretty obnoxiously stubborn. "I didn't -- I know I didn't know him before."

Bruce strokes two fingers over Clark's forearm. "And you know him now?"

*That* sounds like an invitation to trip himself up on his own ignorance, like there's something obvious Bruce is thinking about that Clark just isn't. But... "He's funny. And he's very smart and he didn't -- it didn't seem like he was spending time with me just because he had to."

"Have I made you feel that way? That I'm only with you from obligation?"


Clark shivers and... it's not really another trap, even though it seems that way. "You're my closest friend --"


"Whether or not you act like it," Clark says, and watches Bruce's eyes widen just a little bit. His scent doesn't really change, though, and Clark doesn't know what to make of it beyond that something he'd said -- or maybe how he'd said it -- had been enough to make Bruce stop testing him for at least long enough to *look* at him.

"I wonder what your memories of this time will be like when you regain your correct age and form." Bruce cups Clark's face, but it feels more serious than anything else, like maybe Clark wouldn't pay close enough attention without the touch to reinforce it. Or --

Or something. It's Bruce's hand, and it feels cool and just a little rough against his cheek. Impossible not to rub against.

Especially because Bruce makes a sound like something big and *controlling* has loosened inside him. Like the very beginning of a moan -- "Clark, you should be aware that my only concern with regards to taking you in was that we'd wind up in just this sort of... position."

There are all *sorts* of positions they could be in, but. "Making love?"

"I think you can agree that it would be pleasant if that sort of thing could occur without even a hint of one of us taking advantage of the other," Bruce says, and starts stroking Clark's mouth with his thumb. Back and forth and back, over and over until Clark's mouth feels both tingly and a little too dry.

When Clark licks his lips, he can taste the oils from Bruce's thumb, and that's an excellent reason to lick Bruce's hand, instead. As much as he can, and -- yes, also hold that hand still, at least for as long as Bruce doesn't try to move away from the touch.

It's Bruce's hand, and he remembers the first time Bruce had wrapped it around his forearm, remembers the strength of that grip and how it had felt like an offer of so much more than simply contact.

He *knows* that, he knows Bruce, and everything he could hide from Clark, could *keep* from Clark -- Clark shifts Bruce's hand and sucks two of his fingers into his mouth. More of the taste, that basic human -- *something*, that thing which he's always known by its absence within himself. Maybe when he's older he actually has words for it, but he hopes not. Words would take something away, and he never wants --

"Did you want to do this with Tim...?"

He didn't, but he doesn't shake his head. He wants to *now*. Tim's hands are small and hard, with far less flesh than Bruce's hands, and sex is such a big and important and *needful* thing. It's a relief that he remembers it being just this way, but he also remembers having no idea, and -- Tim's hands are Robin's, and he only has to think about them a little to remember the feel of them in Clark's own.

Bruce is stroking him with his other hand, Clark's shoulders and the side of his neck, a thumb brushing over his jaw -- "Do you think he'd let you?"

Clark moans and tugs until Bruce's fingers are just barely touching his lips -- "I don't know. I don't -- what do *you* think? Is he attracted to me, too?" He is. He *is*, but --

"You could consider asking him," Bruce says, and presses the edge of one short fingernail against Clark's mouth. "Hm. Soft, but you're not controlling that, right now."

"What? I --" Clark kisses Bruce's fingertips, and then does it a few more times because he can. "Bruce, would you really... would it really be okay?"

"To ask...?" Bruce kisses him, and it's a messy thing with his hand right there, and with Clark's basic inability to figure out where, exactly, he wants to put his tongue. He doesn't want it to stop, but he doesn't really know how he can make that work other than by continuing to *reach* for the kiss even as Bruce pulls back --

And kisses him again, quick and hard. "Bruce --"

"When did you realize you wanted him?"

That shouldn't be a difficult question, but it is. Clark thinks about his fingers curled around Tim's shoulders, thinks of the raise of his eyebrow, thinks --


"I -- I'm not sure. I just knew... he was so close, and I could've kissed him, I --" Clark shakes his head and leans up and in for another kiss, and another, and Dick's pants are much too tight. Bruce is wearing a t-shirt and suit pants. His feet are bare and he still smells like that wrong cologne and --

"Did my presence stop you...?"

Had it stopped Tim? "I -- I couldn't just -- but I wasn't really thinking. About you," Clark says, and he thinks there's more he could say, things which could've come after that, but Bruce's mouth is wet and red. And Bruce --

"Understandable," and Bruce is moving him, and it's tempting to just stand where he is, to stay still and let Bruce *push* against him, but it's even better to move this way, to *let* his body move exactly the way it wants to. A little too fast, a little too easily.

He's being *noticeable*, and whether Bruce is seeing it or seeing it and how much Clark is *enjoying* it -- it makes Bruce smile in that space behind his eyes. He's used to it, now, or *enough* used to it.

It's a look which makes Clark want everything, all at once, and so it has to be a look Bruce hadn't *given* him before, even though they'd made love when Bruce was drugged, even though --

"Am I safer this way? As a... teenager. Is it -- is it easier?"

"Yes," Bruce says, and pushes Clark until he's sitting in Bruce's *chair* -- "and no." And then Bruce is crouching, pants pulled tight over his thighs. If Clark tried to do that right now he's pretty sure he'd tear Dick's pants even worse, and also it would hurt enough that Clark would probably make a noise.

Even the stroke of Bruce's hands up over his thighs is torture. Clark wants to be naked again, and -- "Oh, yes, please, Bruce --"
Bruce hums and opens Clark's fly, hands moving with an easy quickness that manages to be both wonderful and frustrating. Bruce doesn't *feel* the way he does, or maybe just isn't feeling this the way Clark is.

Either way, it's wrong and it hurts, and it isn't enough when Bruce makes Clark lift up enough that he can tug the pants and the tight briefs down and out of the way. It's a cold feeling, or at least a lonely one, and it's worse when he can't stop himself from moaning.

It's not *enough*.

"Please, Bruce, I need -- I need to make *you* feel good. Let me -- can I suck you again?"

"Imminently," Bruce says, and just -- swallows Clark, all at once and perfect and -- *perfect*. Too much, and better than that when Bruce just keeps swallowing.

"I -- I'm -- oh, do you want me to -- to come in your mouth?"

And then Bruce looks at him, and Clark understands why Bruce hadn't wanted him to close his eyes. Looking at Bruce's eyes is like *seeing* this as much as he's feeling it. Clark still wants to make Bruce feel crazier, if not as crazy as *he* feels, but this --

He doesn't know exactly what Bruce wants, but Clark thinks he can see all of it right now. Bruce's eyes are so deep, so active and full of -- of *thoughts*, and there's a creaking, cracking sound -- the chair. He's squeezing the arms of the chair too hard, and he can't make himself let *go* --

Until one of them snaps right off.

"Oh God, I'm sorry, I'm -- oh goodness, Bruce, your mouth -- you -- oh, *please* --"

And Bruce makes another of those humming sounds, only it feels like what he's really doing is making love to every part of him which can feel, or hear, or -- something and everything and *Bruce*, and maybe it looks really silly to be hugging himself right now, but --

At least *this* way he can squeeze as hard as he wants, and also keep himself in one piece no matter how good it feels, how right and warm and -- maybe some kind of safe.

Even though the look in Bruce's eyes is anything but. Even though the look in Bruce's eyes makes Clark want to never blink again, just so he can see how *hot* those eyes can be, how focused and sure --

"Bruce, you look so good, and so sexy, I --" Clark squeezes himself, and squeezes harder when he feels himself shaking --

And yells, hoarse and loud, when Bruce cups his hips and yanks him forward. It's not that it lets Clark get any deeper, it's just -- what it is. Was. What it did, and how it feels --

Would Tim do this? Would he want to?

Can Bruce see that, *too*? And -- Clark doesn't know anymore. It's easy to just let all the words *go*, and then it's something bigger and better than easy.

It's the bundle of *feeling* at the base of his spine, and the way he's hurting himself with his own grip, and Bruce's *eyes*, taking in everything and knowing --

The cry shocks Clark on the way out of his throat, and it's not enough of a warning of the orgasm that makes him shudder all over and cry out *again*. Bruce tightens his hands on Clark's hips and swallows, over and over. It's like being teased in the worst way or tortured in the best, and Clark hears himself panting and groaning and knows he's not going to stop anytime soon.

Bruce doesn't pull *back*, and there's a little semen -- he can see it spilling out of the corner of Bruce's *mouth*, and Clark has to squeeze his eyes shut against that. Just --


When he can, he stops hugging himself, and manages to keep himself from doing it again when Bruce pulls back. He wants more, and he wants to make Bruce want more. He also wants a hug, and sliding off the chair onto his knees gets him closer to it.

Wrapping his arms around Bruce and squeezing makes Bruce grunt, but, after a moment, Bruce strokes his back. It's not quite enough, but it still feels good. And better -- and different -- when Bruce rocks his hips against Clark's abdomen. Bruce feels gratifyingly hard, and he makes a soft, *good* noise when Clark pushes closer.

"That was -- oh, you're -- that was really, really good," Clark says, and pushes as close as he can.

"I'm glad you found it so," and Bruce kisses him, slow and deep and not really soft, at all.

If he was human, a kiss like that might hurt a little, and he wonders if it's hurting Bruce -- but Bruce bites Clark's lip when he starts to pull away, and it's better to do his wondering while he's kissing. The way Bruce is stroking his back and -- down to Clark's *buttocks* -- makes Clark think that Bruce will probably be able to recognize him by touch, if he ever had to.

Parts of him, anyway, and it still feels more thoughtful than sexy -- not like that time in his memory -- but it's maybe sexy *enough*. Especially once Clark starts moving against Bruce, against the thickness and heat that's Bruce's erection --

"Would you... maybe you could rub it on me?"

Bruce kisses the corner of Clark's mouth, exhales -- for a moment the only thing Clark can smell is *himself*, and that's distracting and wonderful and *very* sexy --

"Bruce --"

"Would you like that, Clark?"

He thinks he *will* like that. Or that he'd already liked it, and wants to go right back *to* liking it. Only, the images in his mind are mostly of Dick, and the way something like... like a kind of physical *abandon* always came over him, the way he would cling and rock, urge Clark higher into the sky, thrust and *smile* --

Bruce probably wouldn't do it that way, and that's a sad thing, but it's also a thing with a question in it. How *would* he do it? And it's a little hard to even wrap his mind around the question, but his body doesn't seem to need any help with it -- he's already shuffled back on his knees enough to get to Bruce's pants. He can feel the utility belt under Bruce's shirt, but he knows better than to touch that.

It's more than enough to open the pants, to slip a little on the material of Bruce's boxers before his fingers find the slit --

Bruce hums, and it probably shouldn't feel anything *like* words, but it does. It feels like a whole speech on why Clark should slow down, look at him, and do all sorts of things which would distract Clark from the way he's gripping, stroking --

Clark swallows. "You feel really good in my *hand*, Bruce," he says, and he sounds like he's begging to his own ears, which must mean that he's all but groveling to Bruce's own, but he really has to --

"This -- isn't what you wanted."

That's true. That's definitely true. It's just -- "I change my mind...?"

"Do you."

Never have two words sounded so -- so darned *ominous*. Ominous enough that Clark almost looks up, but then there's a little bit of liquid shining on the head of Bruce's penis, and that's more important than everything. Clark shakes his head, stops -- Clark licks his lips and squeezes his eyes shut for just a moment. "I want to make you -- come."

"Did you think I wouldn't with the other, Clark?"

The way Bruce says his *name*. Like he's everything he's ever wanted to be and other things, too. Scary things are in there, and strange -- alien -- things, and it feels like Bruce is branding him with every single one of them, making them true and real.

Making it so everyone who ever looks at him from now on will see him the way Bruce does, or -- he doesn't know, but he definitely *cares*, and he wishes he knew how Bruce likes to do this to himself.

He wishes he could be sure Bruce would *tell* him if he asked --

"Clark --"

"Just -- please?"

Another one of those *hums*. Maybe Bruce likes it when he says 'please.' It seems like a silly thing to like -- Clark thinks he's been using that word more than any other with Bruce -- but maybe it's like how sexy it is when Bruce sighs like this, like he's giving in to something he really enjoys, or...

Clark risks looking at Bruce's face and immediately feels like it's going to be impossible to look away. There's a scary and hard sort of smile in Bruce's eyes, and it feels like it's going to change him as much as the way Bruce says his name. It makes Clark feel much too young for anything, and inexperienced, and maybe a little foolish, too -- "Bruce...?"

"You don't have to be quite that gentle. Clark."

"You -- oh."

"Did you know that you shiver, just a little, every time I say your name when we're touching?"

"It's -- I --" Clark bites his lip and squeezes Bruce's penis, and does it again when Bruce grunts. "You don't say it like anyone else. You --"

"Not even the way Tim does...?"

Tim, like this, hard in Clark's hand and watching him, close -- close enough to *kiss*. Clark shakes his head like a dog and realizes that he's closed his eyes -- he opens them, and that *smile* is still in Bruce's eyes, and it feels like -- he doesn't even know anymore, but -- "No, he -- he says my name like a question he hasn't asked, yet. You say my name like you already know everything."

"We've been friends for quite a while," Bruce says, and twines the fingers of one hand in with Clark's own around himself. And hums again.

"Still, you -- you don't know me *now*. And -- I don't think you know. Everything."

"Do you think I'm making -- hm. Incorrect assumptions about you...?"

It's more that he's assuming at *all*, but Clark doesn't know how to say that and have it come out the right way. "I don't. I don't know. Tell me how to make it feel good?"

Bruce shakes his head, just once, but he also forces Clark's hand to stroke faster, and he squeezes himself on every downstroke --

"Oh. Like this? Like -- you're so *slick* --"

"You make me very aroused, Clark."

And... Bruce's voice is so even, so natural and normal, and Clark feels himself blushing, anyway. Or maybe blushing *because* it sounds so calm. "Have I -- always?"

Bruce's answer really *isn't*, but the smile has made it to his mouth, at least, and that's -- it's not better, but it *is* sexier. Hotter, like maybe Clark is even warmer than usual under the skin. Certainly, there's a temperature difference between the skin of his palm and the skin of Bruce's penis.

Does it feel good?

Would Bruce tell him if it didn't? Clark shakes it off and makes the stroke faster, and the squeezes a little harder. The pre-ejaculate is a steady trickle, shiny on Bruce's penis and their fingers, and, when Clark looks up again, there are two spots of color high on Bruce's cheeks and his lips are parted just *slightly*.

"Bruce, I think -- I think I must think about you when I'm masturbating. At least sometimes. And I think I'd think about doing this, maybe more than anything else."

"Fascinating," he says, hard and a little *dark*, and absolutely like he means it.

Bruce's expression is a little different now. It's almost *angry*, and it's making Clark salivate and want -- more. More of everything, more of *anything*, so long as he can make Bruce flush like this, and feel how hard he is.

For *him*. But --

"Or -- may I take you in my mouth again --"

"Do it."

Oh. That --

Clark feels himself kicking the chair as he lays himself flat on the stone, feels himself flinching at the cold of it against his own skin and wonders when he got so sensitive.

Maybe this is just a part of the sex, a part of what makes it all so wonderful and irresistible --


Clark can't make himself let go, but Bruce is still holding on, too. Bruce -- Bruce's hand is *shaking*, and it's only a little bit, but it makes Clark salivate more. There's spit running down Clark's chin even before he gets his lips wrapped around the head, and the only consolation is that Bruce probably can't see it --

Except that Bruce's other hand is on Clark's face, and his thumb is spreading the saliva *around*, and maybe Clark was already blushing enough that a little more doesn't matter.

Maybe he can be that good for Bruce, that -- oh, but he already knows Bruce *likes* this, and he's not so horny right now that he can't think. It's good to be touched while he's doing this, and it's even better when the touch becomes a hold on the back of his head.

He won't go anywhere.

And if he was human he wouldn't be able to hear the way Bruce's heart is beating faster, the way his breathing is hitching, those two little noises which sound like a moan broken right down the middle.

Clark sucks as hard as he dares, wishing he'd thought to pay attention to *everything* he'd done before and glad that he gets to do it all over again. It would be terrible to find out that flicking his tongue against the head like this doesn't really do anything for Bruce, considering how good it feels -- and tastes -- to *him*.

When Bruce pulls his hand away, it's the best signal in the world. Clark pulls his away, too, and goes down as far as he can. He wants to *swallow* Bruce, to hold him and have him --

And then the head of Bruce's penis is *lodged* in his throat, and it's such a surprise that he coughs -- but it's not enough of a surprise that he doesn't feel the way Bruce's hand tightens on the back of his head. Clark tries it again, wondering why he hadn't thought of it before -- and he *keeps* trying.

He's not sure how many tries it takes, but Bruce moans *twice* while he's doing it, and once he's *in* again it's all Clark can do not to just *grip* Bruce in triumph. Still, focusing on not coughing and not swallowing too hard and keeping his teeth right where they are --

Bruce *groans*, and Clark feels his own penis twitch against the stone, and now there's nothing cold in the whole world. Or maybe he means that there's nothing he couldn't warm, or -- or maybe it just means that Bruce is going to come in his mouth *again*.

It should feel obscene, or at least intimidating, but it's Bruce. It's -- he's safe, and it's okay, and maybe once he's back to being the person Bruce thinks he is they'll be able to do this all the time.

Clark shifts until he can hold Bruce's hips --

Bruce pushes his hand into Clark's hair --

Clark licks him as much as he can, trying to get all around, trying to make this perfect --

And it's *enough* of a warning when Bruce tightens his hand in Clark's hair for Clark to swallow, and keep swallowing until there's only a little bit of semen left in his mouth and Bruce is pushing him away.

Clark pushes himself up into a sitting position and watches Bruce force his breathing to slow down. It sounds harsh and a little painful, but Bruce's breath is back to being even and slow just as fast as before --

"Clark," he says, and the smile in his eyes is a little bit softer.

Clark hugs Bruce again and tries to make himself ignore the back-patting which feels *exactly* like a request -- order -- to let go. He can't do it. Clark swallows back a sigh and sits back and pulls his knees up. "You have to get ready for your... patrol."

"Yes," Bruce says, and stands up. For a moment, he just looks down at Clark, but then he pushes his hand back into Clark's hair and strokes.

That's better -- *warmer*, and --

"You should go upstairs. Alfred has been working on dinner for you."

Clark nods and watches Bruce walk toward the showers. He could go, too, but he's not that dirty, and he has a really solid image of Bruce pushing him away. It's not a memory, but it's a really good theory. He can't handle that.

Clark goes upstairs.


Dinner turns out to be eggplant parmesan, manicotti, and a big salad with a lot of different kinds of lettuce and other things, too. It's all very good, even though it isn't his mother's, and there's a *lot* of it, which is even better. Clark doesn't say that out loud, but he thinks Alfred hears it, anyway.

Alfred also lets him eat in the kitchen, which, even though it's huge and shiny and not at all *lived* in, is still a lot less intimidating than the dining room, which looks like it could comfortably seat at least a hundred people.

Clark searches the memories, but he still has no idea whether or not Bruce or any of the others actually eat there. He kind of hopes they don't, but it's possible that it would just seem normal to them. (He hopes it doesn't.)

Dessert is a big, wonderful-smelling rhubarb pie. Alfred gives him a small plate and a fork, but he *also* gives Clark the pie-knife, which is the most wonderful thing ever. Sometimes his mother makes Clark a whole pie or cake for himself, but it's only ever for birthdays and holidays.

"Oh, wow, thank you, Alfred!"

"You're very welcome... young sir. We have had some measure of experience with the appetites of young men in this house."

Clark blushes. "Ma always says I'd eat my own weight if left to my own devices."

"Hm. I have my doubts. Just the same, you will find a bowl of mashed potatoes in the refrigerator, as well as several ears of corn, a rice pilaf, and another salad."

"Wow. I -- I mean, I know Bruce is very wealthy, but are you sure that's... I mean, is it all right?"

Alfred pats him on the shoulder. "Master Bruce would be quite disturbed if you didn't eat it all, young sir. As would I. And, of course, if you require anything else, you need only ask."

He's really tempted to ask for a chicken, or maybe a nice roast, but it's possible that he'd feel guilty about eating that kind of food when he got to be his own age, again. And he'd be *really* surprised if Alfred wasn't thinking just that. He nods, instead of saying anything stupid, and once he turns to the pie he can't really think about anything else.

The crust isn't as perfect as his mother's, but the filling might be *better*, all warm and spicy and sweet. He's never going to say anything like that to *her*, of course, but it's a wonderful treat.

And a pretty distracting one, too. When he looks up, Alfred is nowhere to be seen, and Clark has to concentrate in order to zoom in on his heartbeat somewhere above Clark and to the northwest.

And when he looks up again --

Well, to be fair, he'd been assuming that Alfred would come back this way to check on him at some point, and so the heartbeat must've just faded into background noise, and -- it's a very good pie.

It's just that it's also Dick, sitting across from Clark and resting the side of his jaw on his fist. And staring at him with his mouth open a little bit.

Clark swallows and looks at the pie. There's still about a third left. He pushes it across the table -- Dick holds up his other hand. And keeps staring.

And -- licks his lips and keeps staring.


"You recognize me. That's -- a really good thing. A weird thing. But a good thing. Er." Dick drums his fingers on the table. "How much time do I get to have to be a little freaked out?"

Clark thinks about it. "Are you going to kick or electrocute me?"

"I... no. At least I'm pretty sure I won't."

Clark nods and goes back to the pie. "Then you can freak out as much as you want."

"No, not that much," Dick says, and drums his fingers on the table again. "I'm taller than you."

Clark swallows another bite. "You're five feet eleven inches tall. I remember you showing me the wall in Titans Tower with all the marks on it."

"Ohh... wow. That was years... I was still wearing..." Dick shakes his head vigorously enough for the motion to catch Clark's eye. And then he stares at Clark's face again, and seems to be searching it -- "You... remember me pretty well?"

"You, and Bruce, and Lois, most of all."

"That's pretty flattering, you know." Dick's smile is crooked and warm and -- warm.

Clark can't help but return it. "You -- you're my other best friend."

"Ohh... wow. Can I tear you away from that pie long enough for a hug?"

Clark stands up -- and, by the time he's pushing the chair back with the backs of his knees, Dick is holding him -- and knocking him back a little. It's a pretty impressive hug, even though his mind wants him to know that Dick's arms should be around his neck and Dick's legs around his waist --

And then Clark hits the kitchen wall, and Dick's knee digs in against his hip, and it feels just right. Especially once Dick laughs. "Okay, so even looking at you wasn't quite enough to convince me that you're *smaller* than I am..."

"Your -- your pants don't fit me right."

"Mm. Different shape. God, Clark... how are you?"

That -- that. Clark squeezes Dick and pushes his face against Dick's shoulder and maybe he's being really obvious, but the scent in the air is the one which has always meant some variety of comfort, and flight, and the perfect warmth of a friendship which had always, always made *sense*.

"I'm going to take that as 'suddenly fifteen years old and surrounded by people who won't settle down into being strangers *or* friends...?'" When Dick pats his back, it doesn't mean 'let go.' Clark remembers that, but he also just *knows* it, and -- it's Dick.

"I'm okay," he says, and doesn't let go.

"Uh, huh. You know, Tim sent me an update on you earlier..."

Is *that* what he'd been doing on the computer? "He did? What did he say? Oh -- and he wanted me to say hi, but -- what did he say?"

"He said that you were doing really well, considering, and that you might want to avoid the Cave for at least a little while," Dick says, and there's something in his voice which doesn't quite sound like the *whole* truth, but... hm.

"Do you think I'll get to see Tim again?"

Dick pushes back and grins at him. "I *knew* you guys would get along. Okay, so it's a little fucked-up that you're getting along like *this*... it can't be that you guys are about the same age, right?"

Clark frowns and tugs a little bit at Dick's t-shirt. "I don't... think so. He's very... I liked him. And he said he liked me."

"Really? In actual -- like, he used the words, and everything?"

"Well, I..." Clark bites the inside of his lip. "I did say it first."

"Still," Dick says, and moves them until he has an arm around Clark's shoulders. And then he steers them away from the kitchen and toward... somewhere else in the manor. "Anyway, he's definitely concerned for you."

"I --" Clark watches the floor, and their moving feet. "I burned him accidentally."

Dick whistles. "Yeah, I -- I guess your heat vision's kicking in? Suddenly?"

"Do you have any idea how *weird* it is to suddenly find out I have all these powers that everyone knows more about than I do?"

"Not even a little bit," Dick says, and keeps guiding them. "All I can say is that I sympathize. A lot. As weird as this is for me, it kind of *has* to be infinitely more bizarre for you, and even though I'm technically here to keep an eye on you, I'm also here to try to make it a little easier."

"You -- you always do."


Clark feels himself blushing and decides not to worry about it. "Make things easier, I mean."

It's dim in the hallway, but Clark's pretty sure it would have to be darker than... than *dark* for Dick's smile not to be as visible and wonderful --

"And you have a great smile. I don't know... I'm not sure if I've said that. You know, before."

Dick reaches across with his free arm and ruffles Clark's hair, and it seems like the most natural thing in the world to just hug him again. They're in a hallway, and there are paintings lining the walls where there aren't fragile and important-looking little tables and things, and Dick is hugging him and turning them around and around.

"Dick, I think -- I don't want to knock anything --"

"You pretty much *had* to be an incredible kid, *too*, didn't you?"

This blush is a little more uncomfortable. "I'm just -- a kid."

"A kid who manages to be sweet and kind and loving even when his life is kind of a *mess*. Why don't you trust me about how that makes you wonderful, hmm?"

Dick is also really, really handsome. More so than Bruce, or maybe he means in different ways. His eyes are just like the sky back home on the best possible summer days, and there are deep grooves at the sides of his mouth from all of those smiles. And Dick is looking at him from under his eyelashes, and it's not like Tim at all.

Tim had been... with Dick here, now, Clark's pretty sure that Tim's smile like that had been inviting *something*, if not necessarily kisses. Dick's smile just is. He's happy and okay and he wants Clark to be happy and okay, too.

That's a *kind* of invitation, but it's also -- different. He's not sure.

And he's not sure how they got to this room -- there's an entertainment center even bigger and more full of *things* than the one at Pete's house, but Clark's not sure any place this big and sprawling could be called a living room. He's not sure how they'd made it with Clark staring into Dick's eyes like that, but they did.

Clark looks around for some part of the room which actually looks like people are supposed to settle there --

"This okay, Clark?"

Dick, for his part, has vaulted over the back of the couch into the little pit in front of the entertainment center. It probably has excellent acoustics or -- something. Clark walks over and sits on the couch --

And Dick slides his arm behind Clark's legs and rests his head on Clark's knee. "Something told me you'd already spent *enough* time in the Cave."

Clark frowns. "You -- I think you told me once that sometimes you thought of the Cave as your *real* home."

Dick bangs his head lightly against Clark's knee and laughs -- it's more like a cough than a laugh, really.

It doesn't sound comfortable.

"That was a long time ago."

"Oh. I'm -- I'm sorry."

"And this," Dick says, squeezing Clark's legs before letting go and turning to face him. "*This* is where I wonder how much about me you remember. Or maybe -- how much about *Bruce* and me you remember."

"Well... I know something... something bad happened, and that you weren't Robin, anymore. I remember..." Clark frowns. It's very confused in his mind, like if it were words instead of images and sounds and scents, the words would be in multiple languages and punctuated strangely. "I remember you showing me a new uniform. Nightwing?"

Dick bites his lip, pushes up on his hands, and swings back and forth before settling back down again. "You don't remember what Nightwing means?"

Which means it should mean something, to *him* if not to both of them, but... "It's a very good name...?"

Dick bites his lip *harder* and -- stops. "Let's talk about something else."

A part of Clark wants to point out that Dick had brought it up in the first place, and maybe also that he's *tired* of everyone having secrets about *him*, but --

"Okay...? I just don't want to... there's a lot you don't know about yourself that could really throw a *spanner* in the works if it doesn't turn out to be a dose of red K."

"If I have to grow up all over again, you mean."

Dick nods and reaches to squeeze Clark's knee. "I promise we won't keep you in the dark forever."

Clark nods. He doesn't really *want* to, but it's not Dick's fault. And nodding makes Dick smile at him, again.

"I used to think about it, you know."


Dick's smile turns into something sly. It's still warm, but now it's a little like something sharp worn close to the body. "I was always the youngest. The *much* youngest. Sometimes I used to think about what it would be like if we were *all* my age."

"You didn't imagine yourself as our age, instead...?"

"Heh, well, that's the thing," Dick says, and sort of falls slowly and gracefully back onto his elbows. He puts his feet up on Clark's lap. "I didn't spend all that much time, back then, thinking about being an adult. I wanted -- never mind, but --"

"No, wait, tell me?" Clark squeezes Dick's feet. He's wearing socks, and Clark has no idea where his shoes -- boots? -- may be. "I mean -- please?"

"Getting to know me, Clark? I thought you already did." Dick's gaze is a solid, *sharp* thing, and could just as easily be on Bruce's face. Or Tim's.

Clark squeezes Dick's feet again and thinks about it --

("Oh, kiss me *again*, Superman!")

And blushes. "I do and I don't. I mean... um. I remember. I remember that we -- the two of us -- er."

"There is no way in *hell* that it's right that I feel like a dirty old man right now, but I choose to believe that it's just the way the universe has to work, sometimes."

Clark smiles and squeezes Dick's feet again. "You could come up on the couch if... if you wanted to."

"*Really*," Dick says, moving his feet and curling himself in -- up. His elbows are on Clark's thighs. "Remember all *that*, do you? Are you going to *seduce* the answers out of me?"

Answers? Oh -- Dick had stopped himself from saying *something*. "Well, I... to be honest, Dick, the only thing that's really made perfect sense today is all the sex."

"All the..." Dick blinks. "Did you and Tim...? I guess he *really* liked you -- and you liked *him*, which is good, you two should be friends, but --" 

"I -- no, I don't. I mean, I don't remember, but I also mean... it wasn't Tim."

"You -- I." Dick squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head, hard and fast. "Uh. Wow. And this would be the same Bruce who you told me would barely even *talk* to you after that thing with the weird pollen --"

"I -- um. I remembered that, too. And he -- we -- Dick, are you okay?"

"Uh." Dick pushes off and stands up -- and sits next to Clark on the couch. "I'm pretty sure -- it's just that Bruce doesn't -- " Dick waves his hands in the air, gestures something... he's sketching curves and lines in the air, sharp angles. He's gripping for something neither of them can *see*, and Clark thinks he knows what Dick is trying to say, but he also doesn't really want to guess.

"He's been very --"

"Oh, I'll say he's been *very*. *Jesus*," Dick says, and lets his hands fall -- and raises them -- "You -- all *day*?"

"Well, he had to leave for a while --"

"And then you picked up where you left *off*. Does Tim know? How freaked out was *he*?"

Clark rubs his ears. He's *exactly* that kind of embarrassed where it feels like they're on fire -- "Do I have any powers I should know about where things come out of my ears, Dick?"

"Uh -- what?"

Clark covers them with his hands just in case.

"I mean -- no. No, you don't. You're safe. We're all safe. Except for *Bruce*, holy *hell*."

And that's -- he really wouldn't have expected -- he *hadn't* expected Dick to react this way, at all. They're all friends, and Bruce had been... well, he can't really call it *casual*, but he'd known about Dick, and hadn't Dick known --

Clark still has his hands over his ears. He folds them in his lap, instead, and looks at Dick, and --

Dick is so, so handsome. He hadn't really been -- well, he'd been more *beautiful* when he was Clark's age.

Younger than that. And --

It has to be okay that he's blushing this much. Dick is, too, and -- Clark has to know. "You -- did *you* talk to Bruce about what happened... with the pollen?"

Dick coughs out another of those uncomfortable-sounding laughs.


"I --" Dick's hand on Clark's shoulder is warm and firm. "Don't get me wrong -- I *offered* to try talking to Bruce about it when you talked to *me* after it all went down, but we both agreed that there probably wouldn't be much point. Bruce wasn't much good at talking about things even *before*."

Before what? But -- he doesn't really have to think about it. The Cave had probably stopped being a home at around the time it had started to be... well, not really a graveyard, but... something like it. Maybe even before then, too, if the frown written all over Dick's face is anything to go by. "I thought... I didn't think it would be that way. When I -- when I told you."

Dick squeezes Clark's shoulder, lets go, bites the edge of his thumbnail --

"I mean -- I didn't want you to be... uncomfortable."

"Oh, Clark -- I know that. I really, really --" Dick turns on the couch, reaches and pulls until they're facing each other. "It's not about you."

"Shouldn't it be? I mean... a little?"

Dick frowns a little harder. "No one should get stuck in the middle. *Especially* not you. We're just not always very good at... things we *should* be good at."

Well, he can understand that. Everybody has fights, sometimes, and everyone has times when they can't talk to the people they most need to, but. "Shouldn't -- I mean, if I could talk to you about... about having sex with Bruce, and if Bruce can talk to me about the two of us --"

"Since *when*?"

It's Clark's turn to blink. Possibly it's been his turn for a long *time*. "Um -- earlier? Today?"

Dick looks like a very handsome... fish. At least when he's making that face.

"We were -- he asked me about the things I remember, Dick, and then he could just *tell* that I was thinking about you, and... and the things we've done. Um. Was he not supposed to know...?"

"I -- uh. It's more like -- hm." Dick squeezes Clark's shoulders and rubs his arms up and down and up. "No, I -- well. I didn't think he'd ever bring it *up*. Er -- what did he say, exactly...?"

"Well, he -- 'you just remembered that the two of you are lovers,'" Clark says, making his voice a little deeper and harder --

"Okay, it's officially *really* disturbing that you can already do that with your voice. I mean, considering everything."

"Sorry --"

"It's okay. It's -- um. Well. Jesus. Did he say anything else?"

Clark shifts and -- it would be a really bad time not to meet Dick's eyes. "Little things. Comments about how I always enjoy spending time with Robin, and... he seemed amused?"

"Amused? *Amused*." Dick seems to be trying to make the word fit in his mouth, or maybe within the situation in his own mind. "Of all the things he could've been... I mean, after a while, I just assumed he didn't want to know, or even think about it..." Dick taps his fingers on Clark's shoulders.

"Maybe... not?"

The laugh starts out like another of those coughs -- those *chokes* -- but, after a moment, it gets a little softer and easier. Closer to the way Dick should always laugh.

Clark shrugs Dick's hands off carefully and takes them in his own. They're hard and lean, graceful as the rest of him. He knows that Dick uses his hands to hurt people, but they don't feel like he does. Or -- he's not sure. They remind him of craftsman's hands, or the hands of some deeply physical *artist*. Wonderful and --

The first time he'd held one of Dick's hands in his own, they had been flying, and Dick's hair had whipped and fluttered around his head like the wings of a bird, and Dick's smile had been so perfect, so beautiful and open and perfect.

Clark rubs Dick's hands with his thumbs and thinks about kissing them --

"Still with me, Clark?"

"Oh, yes. Er -- I mean --" He means something, but it's hard to know what that is, because Dick's eyes aren't at all the way they used to be, but they're still open and beautiful and focused on him like he's beautiful, too.

"Clark, I..."

"*Yes*," Clark says, because it's either that or lean in and try to kiss Dick, try to pull him close into another one of those hugs, only better, more -- Dick's pants are so *tight*.

"Is it wrong that part of me wants to know what you *did* with Bruce? That I... God, I don't even know --"

"I'll tell you --"

And sometimes Dick can move as fast as someone with superpowers. He remembers that, but he *knows* that with the feel of the kiss, with the driving force of Dick's body, moving and pushing against him --

Clark lies down, and Dick's fingers are twined with his own. Dick is holding Clark's hands up and back against the arm of the couch, and Dick is *on* him, over him -- *against* him, and knowing that also lets Clark know that he's rocking his hips up against Dick's abdomen, that he's moaning --

Too loud, once Dick breaks the kiss. Dick's hair isn't as long as it used to be, but it's hanging down and tickling Clark's face, making sharp little shadows and catching the light. And Dick's breathing is a little harsh.

"Oh, Dick -- kiss me again?"

"I -- vertigo. Wow, I..." Dick flexes his fingers in Clark's own, and Clark remembers not to do the same, even though the feel of them --

He'd never really thought of the sides of his fingers as a sensitive place on his body, but... "That feels -- I like the way that feels."

"Mm, I -- my hands? Or the way I'm kind of -- *only* kind of -- holding you down?"

"Yes. I mean -- please?"

Dick closes his eyes, and it looks like he's thinking really hard about something, and there's a part of Clark which wants to be impressed at that -- he's not really thinking about much of *anything* -- but he also wants Dick to *stop*.

"Dick, I -- I really want --"

"I did, too, didn't I? When I was... younger than you are, right now." Dick laughs again, and it moves him a little more, makes it feel like they're closer, more, *something* --

"I always -- you were always so *beautiful*."

"I remember..." Dick laughs again, but this time the motion of his body is sleek and purposeful and just a little *hard*.

Clark tries to match it, but it seems clumsy and jerky compared to Dick. And it feels wonderful, and he can't quite seem to *stop* -- "What -- what do you remember?"

"You were standing -- no. You were hovering just above the rooftop, staring off into the distance, maybe listening to things happening so far away I'd barely be able to imagine it. You were so *tall*, in every possible way, and I thought to myself -- I'll just hug him. He likes it when I hug him --"

"Oh, always, I -- Dick, I can't --"

"And I bent my knees and kind of *leaped* for you, wrapping my arms around your neck and digging my knees in on either side of your chest -- and I thought..." Dick smiles at Clark, and kisses him --

Too fast. "What did you think?"

"I must've surprised you, because you felt so *hard*. You had ways even then of making yourself seem softer, easier to touch, but my forearms and the insides of my thighs were stinging from -- from the *impact*."

"I'm sorry -- oh --" And also *mm*, because that's another kiss, and Dick's fingers flex between Clark's own again, and this time Dick's tongue slips in between Clark's lips, and it's just like the first time -- no. He remembers -- "I turned to -- to look at you, and your eyes were so wide, and so *full*, and then you closed them and kissed me, and I thought... I knew I should push you away --"

"Never, Clark. *Never* --"

"I couldn't. I could smell your sweat, and I think -- I could tell you were at least a little afraid, and when I raised my arms it felt like you belonged right there, and I knew that I'd wanted you right there --"

"And you opened your mouth against mine, and pushed your tongue in so -- hmm."

And the kiss is a little awkward, but then Clark realizes that he's supposed to close his mouth, supposed to kiss Dick the way Dick had kissed *him*, and it feels strange to do it that way, and it makes him shiver all over, and --

Dick hadn't moaned like this when Clark had opened his mouth, but his heart may have been beating -- thundering -- the way Clark's is right now, and Dick's tongue is slick and warm, slick and *good*, and --

Clark shakes, and tries to keep himself to the things he remembered Dick doing -- he remembers *knowing* that it was Dick's first kiss --

He frees his hands and wraps them around Dick, spreads his legs in the too-tight pants and tries to make a space for Dick, make *room* --

And Dick cups Clark's face and holds him there, holds Clark still for the slide and flick of his tongue, for the kiss he's always wanted, or --

He doesn't know, and he can't think, and he wants *more*. He remembers flying them into the sky, higher and higher until Dick's hair had become damp from the clouds and his heart had started beating even faster.

Dick pulls back, and Clark can't even moan for it -- and he realizes that he hasn't been breathing for a while. He sucks in a breath --

"You know, Clark, I always used to wonder if you could ever *know* what that kiss felt like to me..." Dick's smile is sly again, warm and sharp and perfect, and the only thing Clark wants more than he wants to just keep *holding* Dick this way is to maybe get his pants open.

"I think -- I'll know now."

"Good," Dick says. "Of course, I don't think I'm physically capable of just kissing you until you come in your pants..."

"Good. That's really good, and also, I'm sorry --"

"I'm not. I was never sorry. You know that, right?"

He does, and it's something else that's warm, something else that's as good as holding Dick, as the fact that Dick will *let* him hold on. Clark nods -- and then he just moves his head, because Dick's touching his mouth. It's soft and slow and just hard enough to not be ticklish as opposed to really *good*.

And it's slow *enough* that he can catch Dick's fingertips between his lips, he can kiss them and suck them, lick the salt -- *Dick*. Dick pushes them in, then, and it's not very deep, but it feels so *good*. Tasting Dick, and having the pressure of those fingers against his tongue -- oh, he wants to suck Dick, and maybe swallow him, too, and just have -- everything. *Everything*.

It feels like he's a step closer to that everything when he wraps his hand around Dick's wrist, when he looks up and Dick is almost frowning with concentration, or maybe the arousal that he can feel, and smell --

How is he ever going to be *around* people he can tell are aroused? What if he has to go back to Smallville like *this*?

"Clark, it's okay, it's -- I'm not going to stop --"

He *will*, sometime, and then he'll leave, and go back to... he doesn't know where Dick lives, now, but he knows it isn't here. And he knows that he's sucking too hard on Dick's fingers, and -- he can stop. He can --

"Clark --"

He stops. "I'm sorry, it's just -- the way you feel, and I just want --"


"I -- yes."

Dick nods, and Clark nods right back -- and then Dick's slick fingers trace lazy little patterns over Clark's cheek, over his lips and chin --

"Dick, please, I'll do anything, I want -- I want you so *badly*."

And then Dick leans up, but he immediately reaches for his pants. Clark sits up and forces himself not to help -- and remembers that he can take his own off, or at least get them out of the way --

He rips them. "Dick --"

"It's okay, I didn't like those very much, and more importantly," he says, and pulls Clark's penis out through the slit. "Access is *key*, and -- I love the way you feel. You know that, right?"

"Oh, I -- you -- I love you --"

"I love everything about you, Clark. I always have, and pretty soon you're gonna let me love the way you *come*."

That *word*. It's such a good word, and he must've known it when he was older, and maybe he was comfortable using it as Dick is, as the other guys back home...

None of them are like Dick. *No* one is like Dick, and it doesn't feel like -- he can't possibly deserve the feel of that hand on him, and Dick's other hand sliding up under Clark's shirt -- Dick's shirt. He's surrounded by Dick, covered and held by his scent, by the fact of this --

Lovers. They're lovers, and that means he can spread himself as wide as possible, brace his feet and push into that touch, over and over as he watches Dick watch him. See him, and everything about him.

He wants to be the man Dick wanted as his lover, but he'll settle for just being himself, right now, especially if --

"You look amazing like this, flushed and a little out of control -- you know I've always loved doing this for you. Doing it for *myself*, really..."

And Dick laughs again, and it's as wonderful and warm as everything else, absolutely everything. Dick's squeezing him so *hard*, and it's not as hard as Clark squeezes himself, but it's better, because it's human strength and skill... "You're so -- you've always been so perfect --"

"Shh, no, that's *you* --"

"Dick, *please* --"

"Come for me, Clark. Come on, all over my hand. I want to lick you clean. I want to suck you and taste you --"

"Dick, I --"

"*Do* it," and he has to, just --

And it feels like *almost* everything is spurting out of him, and he has just enough of himself left to *guess*, to squeeze his eyes shut -- and feel them getting hot -- "Oh God, I can't -- my eyes --"

"Oh, Clark, you -- mm. You just keep those eyes shut and let me take care of you," Dick says, and Clark hears himself groaning, and trying to stop just makes the sound come out as a whimper.

His eyes are betraying him, and it's even worse because he can't *see* what Dick's doing, as opposed to hearing it -- Dick's licking his fingers, licking Clark's *semen* off his fingers -- "Dick, I can't --"

"Yes," he says, and then that tongue is *on* him. "You can. And you will, because you're just a little too wound up right now, and I can help. And you're going to *let* me help -- God, you taste good."

He doesn't taste like Bruce, and he doesn't taste like Dick. He isn't sure if he tastes human, but he hopes he does. It's not that he wants to make love to anyone who doesn't know everything about him, it's just that he wants to --

To --

Something. He wants to -- he wants to *live* in the feeling of Dick licking them both clean, because he doesn't think he'd managed to get soft, this time, and this is just... making it better. It's also making the inside of his head feel like there's a fire inside it somewhere, that he has to let it *out* --

But he *doesn't* have to. He just has to feel this good, this right --

"I'm going to suck you now, and -- mm. Why don't you do me a favor and think about the fact that I wanted to do it even before I really understood what sex *was*, Clark."

After Dick had kissed him on that rooftop? Before? He can remember the kisses -- he thinks he can remember *all* of the kisses, but the memory of Dick's mouth on him is too vague. It's like a dream, and it shuffles between hairstyles and uniforms and everything else.

Right now, Dick's mouth is wet and soothing and all over him, wonderful on him, perfect --

Clark doesn't *trust* himself enough not to keep one hand over his closed eyes, but he has to reach out with the other, has to find Dick's face and trace over the smooth skin, the fine bones, the stubble on his cheeks that he could feel with one thigh --

The *hollow* of that cheek as Dick sucks him, and works his head up and down --

"I want to *see* you."

Dick hums around him and Clark shivers, shudders -- wants *more*. Somehow, with his eyes closed, he feels more exposed. It's a little ridiculous to be half-naked on -- on Bruce's *couch*, but he can't really do anything but take it. And maybe what he *should* be remembering are all the times he'd taken Dick in his mouth, and the sounds Dick had made that one time -- were there other times?

There had to be other times. His voice had been so *high*, and he'd balled his hands into fists and punched his own thighs once, twice -- and Clark had covered Dick's hands with his own --

Dick twines his fingers between Clark's again --

Clark had held Dick's hands still --

Dick squeezes --

Clark had kept sucking, and licking, and doing everything, maybe, that Dick is doing to him right now. The smell of Clark's own sweat is a *distraction*, a strange and unimportant *thing* compared to everything of Dick around him now. The feel of him, and the wet, perfectly *sexual* sounds of what he's doing.

He wants to touch Dick's face again, to feel if there's any saliva slipping out of his mouth, to -- oh, just to *feel* him, but when he starts to move his hand, Dick shoves it back against the couch and holds it there.

"Oh, you -- holding me *down* -- "

Dick hums assent, and Clark can't decide whether the sound or the feel is better. He's close again, just that *fast*, and not even the realization that having an orgasm might not make the fire behind his eyes go away makes it any less true.

"Dick, *please*," he says, and he doesn't know exactly what he's begging *for*, but saying it feels so *good* -- "Please, please --"

Another hum -- no, this time it's a moan, and the scent of Dick's arousal is stronger and sharper. He's hard *now* if he wasn't before, and Clark knows it, and it's a strangely incredible kind of torture to know that Dick *doesn't* want him to do anything about it, yet.

He has to wait for it, and just keep taking this, and -- it's what Dick wants. Clark doesn't know if he's wanted it all along, and he doesn't know if he *wants* Dick to have wanted it all along, but it's what he wants right now.

It makes the part of him which can still think want to hide, or try another of the apologies that no one here seems to want, but the rest of him --

He's pushing up into Dick's mouth, now, and he *can* keep himself from doing it too hard or too much -- he knows how to keep himself *still*, but --

Every time he does, every time something sparks and flares inside of him because the head of his penis is brushing against the back of Dick's throat, Dick *moans*, and squeezes his hand, and somewhere around the fifth push Clark gets that Dick is communicating with him, telling him that he likes it, that Clark should do *more* --

And then he has to fight with himself to keep from thrusting too fast, or too hard, and it's like he's working *with* Dick to tease himself. Every push could go *deeper*, every slide could be faster and better --

But this is, maybe, what Dick can take. It makes him feel human to do it this way, and it makes something at the base of his spine tighten and burn like the space behind his eyes.

He knows he's making his own noises now, and he can only hope they sound as sexy as the ones Dick is making, because he knows he can't stop. He can't -- not any of it. And then Dick shifts and his other hand is cupping Clark's sac, squeezing and stroking it --

"*Dick* --"

And Clark has just enough time to think about how he hadn't thought he *could* come just from this, from this *tease*, before he's gasping and shaking and spilling right into Dick's mouth, over and over, *harder* than before --

He can *feel* Dick coughing, but it just makes him whimper and beg without any words --

And rip his hand away from Dick's before he can squeeze.

Eventually, Clark realizes that he can -- that it's physically possible -- for him to stop moaning, and he does it. And -- the heat's gone behind his eyes. It's possible that he's just getting used to it, though -- and that thought is enough to make him start to soften -- so he doesn't open his eyes until he's *sure* that Dick's not in the way and that his hands *are* --

Nothing. Clark takes a deep breath.

"All better?"

"In all *kinds* of ways," Clark says, and sits up. Dick is kneeling at the end of the couch, hands on his own thighs and -- his mouth is red and swollen even more than Bruce's had been, and his penis is hard and dark in his hand. His *moving* hand. "Oh, Dick..."

"That's -- mm. That's me. And -- wow, I really can't wait right now --"

That probably hadn't meant that it was a good time for Clark to hug him, and it almost certainly hadn't meant that it was a good time for Clark to hug him so aggressively that they both tumble to the *floor*, but -- he had to.

"Jesus, Clark --"

And he can feel Dick's hand still working between them -- "I just -- I want to be -- please stay close?"

"Oh -- God, yeah, I --" Dick kisses him, quick and hard, bites Clark's lip -- "Touch me. Jerk me off, right here --"

"Oh -- *oh*." Clark gets his fingers between Dick's own, again, and the rhythm is short and sharp. *Hard* strokes, because Dick is too close right now for anything else, and -- It's not like it was with Bruce. It's -- well, they're *closer*, and Dick has his free arm wrapped around Clark's shoulders --

"Oh, yeah, Clark -- like that. Like -- mm. You. God, your hand is so -- here, let me get my hand *over* yours --"

Dick's shaft is slick and warm enough that it almost doesn't feel cool, at all. He's *hard*, the head pushing out from the foreskin, which slides so easily it makes Clark *groan* --

"Oh, you -- you almost never did this, Clark. I almost never *wanted* you to --"

"There was always -- there were always so many other things --"

"Mm, yeah, Clark," Dick says, and nuzzles Clark's face. His stubble is sharp and rough and wonderful --

"Dick --"

"*Good* things. Hot things. Hard and wet and *sticky* things," and Dick is laughing, but it's breathy and low -- "You should absolutely reach behind me and play with my ass, a little --"


"Oh -- fuck. Or maybe not. Jesus, you're too young for this. Or I'm too old for this. One of us is definitely too something, and I'm too horny to *think* -- oh, fuck, I -- yes, Clark, come on -- oh *God* --"

It only took a moment for the memory to kick in, and then -- and then he remembers all sorts of things. He wonders, a little, if it might not be a little wrong to have so many memories about another person's rear, but it's -- not Robin. It's Dick, and -- not Robin.


The skin in Dick's cleft is slick with sweat and feels thinner than anything should. Everything is close to the surface, and Dick --

"Oh -- Clark. Clark -- *Clark*, please, stroke me faster, push in, *something* --"

He does, and he doesn't really have a rhythm -- and then he has even less of one, because Dick is thrusting back and forth, pushing back onto Clark's finger and into Clark's fist. Clark tries a squeeze --

And Dick throws his head back and makes choked noises. The tendons stand out on either side of his neck, and -- and he's very *tight*, and warm and -- Clark is *inside* Dick, and --

Clark closes his eyes, just in case. They're too close now to *risk* it, and this... he still wants to *see* Dick, but this close he can do everything else. Absolutely everything.

The manor is so *quiet* everywhere but right here, and the room smells like sex, and Dick feels vulnerable and strong all at once --

"Please, Dick, I -- keep making those *sounds*."

"I -- nn -- anything you -- say -- oh fuck, God, your finger is so *hard* --"

"I wish I could make it harder. Or -- I don't think -- I think -- I can only remember being inside you a *little* --"

"*Clark* --"

"Yes, tell me, show me -- or --"

"Faster -- *fuck* --"

And Dick's hand is trembling over his own, and Dick's squeezing Clark's shoulder with his other hand -- and then he goes still, all over. "Oh, Dick, you're so *beautiful* --"

"*Clark*," and Dick spills over Clark's hand, and gets a little on Clark's shirt -- Dick's shirt --

And there's a flash, fuzzy and much too vague, of Dick straddling Clark's hips and touching himself, stroking himself until he ejaculates right on Clark's *chest* -- but that can't be any sexier than Dick's hitching moans and jerking hips. It's -- he's right *here*.

Clark loosens his grip and waits for Dick's breathing to even out again --

And then Dick is hugging him, and kissing his cheek, and his ear, and his forehead -- Clark's finger is still *inside* Dick.

"Oh, should I --"

"Stay right where you are and only do the kind of changing that leads to you being the right age again? Absolutely," Dick says, and smiles at him.

Clark smiles back. "I -- but should I pull out?"

"No," Dick says. "Or -- yes, you should, because there's no way you have the control to fuck me stupid without tragedy --"

"I could try -- mm."

This kiss lasts a long time. He can taste himself in Dick's mouth, and Dick has a hand on Clark's rear, squeezing and petting, and the kiss gets messy and slow long before it stops.

Clark licks his fingers and smiles at Dick again, and for a moment Dick seems to be searching his face for something, and --

"Okay, *now* you can pull out."

Clark does, guessing that slow is probably better. Dick's jaw tightens a little, but it doesn't seem to be *much* pain. Clark crawls a little closer on his knees -- it's awkward with the pants around his thighs -- and hugs Dick. Dick hugs him back and then pushes and pulls until Clark gets that Dick wants them to lie down.

From the floor, the ceiling of this room is shadowed, though not as much as it is down in the Cave. These shadows are *dim*, not thick and black. Nothing can be all that dark with Dick next to you. And -- hm.

"I think I got along better with Bruce once you joined him, Dick."

"Yeah? How so?"

"Well, he didn't really seem... 'human' probably isn't the right word," Clark says, and shifts a little. Dick takes his hand in his. Both of their hands are more than a little sticky, but maybe if they wait long enough Dick will want to shower *with* him. 

"Well, most of the criminals around here are pretty sure Batman *isn't* human, which is just the way Bruce likes it, but... I know that's not what you mean."

Clark nods. "He was just so cold and so... well, *mean* sometimes. But then you came along, and it's not like he suddenly became friendly overnight, but, well, I guess anyone who could get along with you couldn't be all bad."

Dick turns his head and grins at Clark a little. "You had your doubts, before...?"

"Definitely. Or... I think I did, anyway. It *feels* like I did."

"Different from the memories?"

Clark nods. "Some things and people I *just* have feelings about, like how I feel good about people like Wally and Kyle."

"And not so good about people like Luthor?"

"That --" Clark shifts and thinks about sitting up -- Dick squeezes his hand. "I... that's very difficult. He's just a kid. He's my *age* --"

"Yes and no, at the moment -- and I'd totally forgotten that you grew up with him. Damn."

"I guess... I guess I could go back to Smallville as my own cousin or something. I could make new friends."

Dick blows out a breath and -- lets go of Clark's hand.


"Uh. Yeah, about that. You -- already have a cousin in Smallville. Actually, you have two. Um."

There'd been something Tim was going to say, and -- he hadn't said it. Clark sits up and thinks about hugging his knees.

"You -- Clark. This is going to be really hard to explain," Dick says, also sitting up and cupping Clark's shoulder. "And... I can definitely see why neither Bruce and Tim *did* explain. And -- how sure are you that you *want* me to explain? I mean, I know you know that you're an alien."

Clark hugs his knees. "It's... my cousins... Are they aliens, too?"

"Yes and -- yes and no. Kara is your cousin and her ship kind of got... lost on the way here. She's your age, thereabouts. Nice girl. And then there's Kon. Conner. Er."

"Did his ship get lost, too?"

"What? No -- no. Not that. Um." Dick frowns and squeezes Clark's shoulder again. "How much do you know about cloning?"

"You mean like science fiction?"

"Yes! Exactly like that. Only it's more science fact. Of course, no one's really sure why it worked, or how it worked, and -- well, he's not your *exact* clone... exactly."

Clark stares a little bit. That's... there's a lot in there that he should probably be able to deal with. This is what Tim hadn't wanted to tell him, and it's what Bruce -- had Bruce deliberately steered the conversation in other directions? "Is he... he's a hero."

"Yep. Goes by Superboy. His clothes would probably fit you a lot better, though he is a bit bigger than you are."

"Oh. Is he... older?"

Dick's frown looks kind of pained. "Yes and no...? I mean, physically he's -- his body is older. And he thinks of himself as a teenager, and --" Dick gestures a little, but Clark has no idea what the gesture is supposed to be. "Who is probably a little older than you -- you should probably ask Tim about him. He's three. Almost."

He reminds Tim of -- the clone. Conner. Kon? "He's almost three what?"

Dick scrubs a hand over his face, and then he does it again. "He was... decanted. About three years ago. As a sixteen year old."

That *almost* makes sense, or -- at least as much as it can, Clark thinks. He was born -- does he think of it as having been born? -- as a teenager, and he's a hero, and nobody stops him from helping people and -- "Are we -- is he my friend?"

"I think. Ah. Hm. I think you're more of a mentor...?"

That almost makes sense, too, though it's not like he can imagine being anyone's -- Clark stands up and paces a little. "You don't know...?"

"I never really... I've only met him a couple of times. Tim's worked with him a lot."

But never with *him*. And -- maybe he shouldn't feel like this. It's not like the clone had asked to be a clone, and it's not like he'd taken anything from Clark by *existing* -- "He looks like me?"

Dick waves a hand back and forth. "A little in the jaw and the nose. His eyes are different, he wears his hair differently, and I think you'll be taller than he is when you're -- physically the same age. Or -- I think you were taller. Had been taller. Um. No one's really sure why he doesn't look more like you."

Clark nods. That, at least, is a little better. He's not a mirror, and he's not exactly like him. They can be different people, even though he'd kind of thought of -- *he's* Superboy. Not officially or anything, but that's what a few people around Smallville had said, kind of --

"He's really very friendly."

"Like me."

"Yes -- and no." Dick rocks a little and stands up. "Are you seeing what I mean about it being difficult to explain, Clark?"

"He lives with -- my parents. And Kara does, too."

"Yes, but Clark --"

"Then I don't really have a home, do I?"

Dick winces at that, and it's really an answer. He knows exactly how many guest rooms there are at the farmhouse -- one. Which means one of them has *his* room --

It's the clone. And his mother cooks for him and takes care of him -- them. He can't just expect them to take care of *him*, too. Clark crosses his arms to keep from hugging himself --

"Hey, Clark, you shouldn't --"

"*No*," Clark says, and he knows that doesn't make sense and he doesn't care. It's not -- it's not *fair* --

"Clark." Dick's voice isn't anything like Bruce's, but that doesn't mean they can't sound the same.

He doesn't have to listen -- Dick catches him by the shoulder and tries to look into his eyes, and -- it's probably really stupid to just keep trying to look at the walls and the floor, but it feels better --

"*Clark*. Your *home* is in Metropolis, with Lois. And I already know you remember her."

Would she wait for him to grow up? How old would he have to be before she loved him again?

"And if we can't fix this -- we *will*, but *if* we can't --"

"I don't belong here," Clark says, and deliberately looks at Dick. "And I don't really -- I don't belong anywhere right now."

Dick -- shakes him. "You belong wherever you think you belong. Home is where you find it, and -- I wish to God you could remember telling *me* all of this once upon a time, but you *did*, once. You were right, then, and I'm right now."

"I want." He wants to go home.

"We all want, sometimes. For now... you've got us, and we *are* all your friends --"

"I barely knew Tim at all, and -- what about Batgirl? And -- Oracle?"

"Well, you weren't really *around* to get to know them, Clark," Dick says, and wraps his arms around Clark's waist. "You're here now. And I'm going to have to go back to the 'haven pretty soon, but everyone else... you already got to spend some quality time with my little brother. Why *not* everyone else?"

There's a little stab at that. More than one. He doesn't *know* why he doesn't know the others. There's nothing in his memories to give him even a hint as to why, and 'too busy' is never a good answer. But also... "Did I know that Tim was your little brother?"

Dick's smile for that is a little distant, but not cruel or anything -- "Oh, yeah. You knew."

"Why are you smiling like that?"

Dick shakes his head. "You were always -- and Tim has always been... I like it when my friends are friends with each other, Clark, and somehow I've never been able to make that work with you and Tim. Which just -- isn't right."

"He was... busy? He said he wanted to work with me..."

"Yeah? *Good* little brother. It's *wrong* that it took this to do it, but -- heh. All my little plans are falling into place," Dick says, steepling his fingers and waggling his eyebrows a little.

Tim is close to his *clone*, and maybe never wanted to be close to him, too, or... he doesn't know. "I think I should... spend time with. Conner."

"You gave him that name, you know. Both names, actually. He was going by *just* Superboy for a while."

It doesn't seem as strange as it could. He would've wanted -- *needed* -- the clone to be called something that didn't have anything to do with *him*. He already needs the clone to have *more* things that are different. Clark nods and lets himself step closer.

Dick's smile is just right.

"I'll try not to brood," Clark says.

"I promise to help in *any* way I can," Dick says, and lets go for long enough to lift Clark's arms until they're around his neck.

Any way he can sounds really, really good.


In the end, they don't head back down to the Cave for hours. They watch a lot of music videos for songs with a lot more bass than Clark remembers being popular, but it could just be that he didn't listen to a lot of popular music.

Dick likes the ones with a lot of dancing in them, and points out which dancers have had obvious acrobatics training. Clark finds all the sharp cuts distracting, as there is usually a kind of physical narrative in all the bodies which winds up being chopped to ribbons in the interest of making the video tell the *other* stories, which generally aren't as interesting.

Dick also helps him finish the pie, and that involves a lot less actual *eating* than Clark would've expected. They spend a lot of time in the shower after that, and, after *that*, Clark helps Dick clean up the...

Well, call it the entertainment room. That's easier.

Once they're in the Cave, Dick strips down to shorts, tapes his hands and ankles, and goes right into a routine on the parallel bars which makes all the dancers from before look like clumsy amateurs. He swings and moves and twists and every flex of muscle looks necessary and important. Beautiful -- and he smiles at Clark every time the routine brings him around to a position where they can face each other.

It's a reminder, though, of everything he's keeping Dick from, right now. And everything all of them are keeping *him* from -- will they train him if he doesn't just go back to being the right age and knowing all the incomprehensible things he knows now?

Did everyone from his planet have superpowers?

Clark waits for Dick to dismount --

And catches himself watching Dick's bones move perfectly, gracefully -- a little disturbingly. Dick has even more old breaks than Tim does, especially in his hands and feet.

"Hey, that was a dismount worthy of the big time, Clark! Why are you frowning?"

"I was -- I could see your bones."

"Hm. X-ray just switching on and off on you?"

Clark shrugs. "It seems to happen whenever I'm trying to watch closely. You -- don't your bones *hurt*, at least sometimes?"

Dick's smile is crooked, and he raises his hands between them and waggles his fingers. "I didn't have the kind of armor Tim does, back when I was Robin. I figure I have maybe five to seven more years before I can start predicting the weather at least sometimes."

Clark winces and tells himself to never, ever look at Bruce's skeleton unless he absolutely has to. He'll just have to remember to never try to concentrate on him, or... something.

"Hey, there's a familiar frown," Dick says, and taps under Clark's chin until Clark looks up. "Let the crazy humans do their crazy and sometimes physically damaging things."

"I -- did I ever try to stop you?"

Dick's expression seems stuck between a smile and a frown, but not uncomfortably so. "It's more that you tried to... help."

("Your methods weren't very... effective.") Clark does his best to bite back a wince. "Can you -- do you think you could make me better? Better able to help, I mean?"

"I -- you know, I *want* to say that you're just not suited for Gotham," Dick says, and sort of walks himself back up onto his hands and then around the bars, "but I think it's more that you *weren't* suited for Gotham. I'm a little terrified by the concept of you *becoming* suited for Gotham --"

"Why? I should be able to... if I'm just going to keep getting more and more powerful, I should be able to help anywhere." It's a little tempting to grab Dick by the ankles and make him stop moving, or maybe just to try steering him, or maybe just a lot of other things, but --

"No, Clark, you need to be able to help everywhere *and* anywhere. Which means that if we screw up and somehow make you *too* suited to just Gotham, we'd be doing a large chunk of the galaxy one hell of a disservice." Dick flips back up onto his feet so neatly it doesn't quite seem possible and grins at Clark. "You've got your own style."

"I -- I'll *have* my own style."

Dick tilts his head a little and frowns a little more. It's probably the nicest frown Clark has ever seen, since it seems more thoughtful than anything else, and also like Dick had just run out of ways to smile before he ever had a need for this expression.

"I mean -- I don't, really --"

"You do."

"But --"

"So what do you think you would do if you were faced with a cousin who fell out of the sky and another teenaged boy who just happened to have at least some of your DNA, two nice kids who only wanted to help people, but didn't have anyone -- or any*where* -- of their own?"

"Well, I --"

"Don't think about it," Dick says, and cups Clark's face. "Just tell me."

"Well, but I'd have to think about it! I don't really know... I mean, I'd have to talk to my parents. They understand a lot, and they know how to... I mean, it would be a lot to ask, but I'd have to bring them home, and then Ma and Pa would help me... figure it all out."

"And then you'd kick 'em to the curb? Maybe find them jobs and apartments far away from you --"


"Well, but, your home is your *home*, Clark. You can't just let someone take that away from you, right?"

"No one can take that away from me! It doesn't -- I'm not -- and they're -- you... oh. I brought them home," he says, and it's not a question. He doesn't need it to be. 

Dick rubs Clark's cheek a little. "Family is important to you."

"Of course it -- is." They're his family. His family? He's only ever had Ma and Pa, and... and he'd always wanted more than that. Always. But -- "That's not any different from the way you do things... the way it all works out *here*."

"I -- well, Bruce -- the definition of 'family' -- hm." *This* expression is a frown, and it seems like Dick's whole body is involved in it. "You have a *point*, Clark, but..."


"Gotham is still *different*," Dick says, and slides his hand down to squeeze Clark's shoulder. "There's a lot about this city -- and the way we do things -- which has nothing to do with the way you handle things in Metropolis, and the rest of the world, for that matter --"

"Why not?"

Dick blinks rapidly for -- for a human. He looks almost stunned, really. "Well, it doesn't *work*. Not really."

"But --" Clark frowns, too. "You have to know that that doesn't really explain things."

"I..." Dick lets go. "Give me a minute," he says, and moves to the computers.

Clark follows him, and watches him type, and watches the screens -- after a moment, there's a picture of a blond man with a beard, a bow and arrow -- "Ollie. That's -- Green Arrow? Right?"

"Uh, huh. He's an ally, just in case you don't remember him clearly."

Clark thinks about it. He has a very vague sense of someone who his parents wouldn't entirely approve of, but who is still definitely a hero. Also -- "He's part of the League, too, right?"

Dick drums his fingers on the console. "Yes and no. Sometimes. When he feels like it. I brought him up for a reason, though. See, he's really *good* with that bow. There's probably no one better."


"He *shoots* people with it. All the time, really."

"Oh. But --"

"Yeah. *But*," Dick says, and smiles at Clark from over his shoulder. "Thing is, though? It works. He doesn't often actually kill people, and the police let him do his thing, and he saves people. He helps people, in uniform and out."

"Killing -- but -- heroes don't *kill*, Dick!"

"*That* one does. Or he has. Batman doesn't. Batman just puts people in the hospital pretty often. So do I, for that matter. So does Tim, and so does Batgirl -- whose name is Cassandra, by the way."

"But... you... I mean, you don't mean to... do you... mean to?"

Dick's smile... it's not that Dick's smile looks anything like Bruce's, or even like Batman's. It's that it would be easier if it did. As it is, it sits on Dick's face *comfortably*, like it's just something else that's a part of him.

A part of him Clark doesn't think he knows, or wants to know -- "Dick, it's not right. You should always try --"

"Not to hurt people. It's true. And I have to admit, there have been times when I've been able to just look at people and have them tell me what I needed to know. Most of the time, though, the people that happens with are the ones who were standing *next* to the ones I hurt very badly, indeed, Clark."

"I --" Clark shakes his head. "Dick, I don't think... are you *sure* I just -- put *up* with this when I'm older?"

"It *does* seem kind of funny when you put it that way," Dick says, jumping up on the chair and balancing on -- the one arm that's still there. "I'm not going to ask when you did that. I mean, I can imagine it just fine. And, anyway, I was saying -- it seems pretty weird right up until you think about it."

Clark frowns a little harder. "I *am* thinking about it --"

"There aren't a lot of human criminals for you to deal with in Metropolis who aren't Luthor, and even he got a bit more global after a while... anyway, you get stuck with the invaders, and the metahumans with impossibly great powers -- that sort of thing. Bank robbers, muggers, and drug dealers just don't seem to find much *success* in your adopted home town."

Adopted. There's a word. "And I'm too... busy dealing with the other sorts of criminals to help the other cities --"

"Pretty much," Dick says, switching feet and starting the chair moving back and forth. "You can bend the streetlights the more mundane sort of criminals like to lurk around into pretzels to get their attention. The rest of us need to resort to other methods."

Which -- that makes sense, but he doesn't want it to, and anyway -- "Then -- the laws should be different. It should be harder for the criminals to keep getting out of prison, and then maybe there'd be fewer of them to deal with --"

"Oh," Dick says, and smiles that really kind of *mean* smile again. "Laws. You don't want to get into talking about laws, do you?"

A part of Clark wants to take a step back, but he also wants to protest, and -- in the end, he stands where he is and waits.

"See, if you start talking about laws, you start thinking about how some of our freely elected politicians are worse criminals than the ones we beat up every night. After all, the muggers need to rob one person at a time. The politicians rob neighborhoods. Cities. States. *Countries*."

Some of the things his Ma said about the governor... "I... well, sometimes. Sometimes they *do*. And -- worse."

Dick nods. "They make the laws, and then they turn around and break them every chance they get. And if we were *really* heroes, well, wouldn't we do something about them? Wouldn't we drag them out of office and tell the whole world what they're doing wrong?"

"Well -- don't you?"

Dick smiles. "Every now and again we can find proof, and a good police officer or two. Or an especially driven investigative reporter -- heh. We pass along the evidence and hope."

Clark nods cautiously. It still feels like there's something he's missing --

"Of course, sometimes -- a lot of the time -- it all falls apart. Sometimes the wheels of justice just don't roll fast enough, and the politicians and fatcat-types manage to get away clean -- clean as anyone like them can get, anyway," Dick says, and jumps down -- and into the chair, itself. He rests one elbow on the arm of the chair that's still there, and rests his cheek against his fist. "There's nothing we can do -- unless, of course, we put them under the kind of surveillance we usually save for the gang bosses, wait until they dip their hands in the cookie jar again, and then come in, beat 'em up a little bit, and tape the evidence to their faces."

"Well, I -- maybe without the beating --"

"We take the *law* into our hands every night -- and day, for some of us," and Dick nods at him. "Why shouldn't we keep going? After all, don't the civilians deserve to know that the people they elected are bad guys?"

It sounds so... clean. So good. It makes so much sense, because heroes are supposed to make the world *better*, however they can. But -- Clark doesn't need Dick to spell it out for him.

Sooner or later, another criminal will get elected, and another one, and maybe they would start getting better guards for their criminal activities, and maybe there'd be no way around beating up the bad guys, who happen to have been elected.

And maybe then they'll start picking their own candidates, and discouraging -- in one way or another -- the bad guys from running, and maybe...

Maybe, in the end, they would be the ones in charge. Making the laws and forcing people to live by them. Dictators.

Dictators aren't heroes. Clark frowns at his feet. "It's still not right. It's still... it ought to be more important than... than *style*," he says, and balls his hands into fists.

"You're right," Dick says, "and... I shouldn't have been flippant. It's just that, not all that long ago, the American people in their great wisdom decided to elect Luthor *president* --"


" -- and we all had to take a metaphorical stiff drink and deal with it. Well, Ollie's probably wasn't metaphorical, but -- you get what I mean, right, Clark?"

He doesn't want to. He really, really doesn't want to, at all -- "Yes. Everyone -- we all do what we can to help, and try not to overreach, and just try to help as many people as we can."

Dick nods and fiddles with the broken part of the chair. "And, you know, when a good cop comes along, or a good... a good DA..." Dick trails off, frowning, for some reason, at something further into the Cave.


"We all do what we can, and some cities call for different approaches, and... I don't know, Clark. Maybe the world would've been a different place if you'd grown up here." He looks at Clark again. "I'm not sure I'd like it as much, though." Dick stands up and gives the chair a last spin. "Why don't you show me what you were doing with Tim in terms of the heat vision?"

It's not much to show. He thinks about being locked up here, and he thinks about Bruce's eyes, and he thinks about Dick's mouth, and nothing at all happens.

He has a suspicion that that has a lot to do with how looking at the melted and shattered rock *also* makes him think about the burn on Tim's arm, but he doesn't really know what to do about it.

It's easier to make the X-ray vision pop up, and while it's not exactly a lot of fun to look for all of Dick's bruises and scars -- there are a lot of nice things to look at on his *way* to all of the landmarks.

This leads to kissing, mostly because, after a while, Clark can't seem to make himself stop *fixating* on the fact that Dick is right there. It makes Dick smile at him -- and maybe also leer -- and kissing that sort of expression is a whole different sort of kissing.

It's kissing with a purpose, and with intent, and also it's kissing that's messy and wonderful, especially once Dick lets him guide them both away from all the broken and melted rocks and back to where there's light.

It's not very *warm* light, but it's bright, and that means something Clark can't quite define, with Dick right there -- holding him and stroking him and touching him. The shorts Dick had found for him don't really fit any better than the pants had done, but the elastic at least makes them *feel* better. Well -- they *had* felt better.

Now they feel like they might creep up his thighs enough for Clark's erection to pop right out, and that would just look silly if it didn't look obscene. Clark skins them off and Dick makes a pleased sound and grabs Clark's rear with both hands. There's still a moment when Clark wonders if he also looks silly with just a t-shirt on and no pants at all, but then Dick starts squeezing and petting and --


This kiss has a lot more of those good things like intent in it, and, as far as Clark's concerned, all of his powers can just go away for a while. Everything he wants to focus on is -- right here. He's probably smiling a little goofily when Dick pulls back, but Dick smiles right back, and -- looks down between them.

"Mm. You're going to get my workout clothes all sticky," he says, in a voice so exaggeratedly dismayed that it makes Clark laugh a little.

And then he winks, and takes off his shirt, and presses close enough that Clark's penis is trapped between them, and, oh, rubbing against all the muscle of Dick's abdomen. "You feel so *good*."

"Mm. You wouldn't, by any chance, remember that time when you... ah. Expressed your appreciation for my form all over my chest?"

It takes a minute -- it's not his *fault* it takes a minute -- but then Clark thinks about it, and there's a fuzzy image of a suit in robin's egg blue and gold and a deeper blue, and the golden-pink *expanse* of chest -- "Nightwing," he says, and blushes --

"*That* makes you think of Nightwing? Really? Clark, you have a filthy, dirty, horrible mind and if you ever try to clean it up I will *cry*," Dick says, and kind of --

Well, he *moves* against Clark, but that's not nearly a good enough description. There's a shimmy to it, and maybe a grind, and a lot of other things which make Clark think of the dancing from earlier, and also maybe the stuff on the bars, and also just *Dick*. "Oh," Clark says, because nothing else seems to be coming out, and because he thinks, maybe, Dick should be given some warning before Clark grabs him and hugs him tight like this.

"You don't want me to move?"

"Yes -- I mean, no, you could -- you *should* move, it's just -- um."

"You want to hold me still *while* I'm moving...?"

Clark blushes and starts the process of making his arms loosen a little, if not necessarily let go --

And Dick catches Clark's arms and holds them against his sides. "Nuh-uh. That makes perfect sense. Trust me on this," he says, and starts moving again, flexing and pushing, rocking a little in the tiny space Clark is leaving --

Clark feels himself getting slicker, hotter, *harder*, and yes, this is exactly what he wants. It can't possibly be any better than this --

Except that Dick trips him, and they hit the mats, and Dick kind of *bounces* on him a little, and exhales the faint scent of rhubarb pie, and smiles, and -- oh, *slides* over Clark, and back again, and it feels so incredibly good that Clark decides he was wrong before. This is definitely better, and also it can't *stop*.

"Dick, are you... oh, I think you should -- come on me."

Dick breathes against Clark's jaw and sort of... *undulates* against him, only that's a very flat and practical word for something that feels like the absolute *definition* of sex. The feeling had been more intense with Dick's mouth around him, but Clark can't really say that it was *better*. Certainly not better than this --

Except that Dick kneels up -- and doesn't stop moving -- and for a second that just means that Clark's looking at all the aging bruises and scars that Dick had him pointing out -- why hadn't he noticed them before? The pie hadn't been -- there hadn't been that much pie --

Dick's grinning at him, and it looks almost like a question, which means that it's a perfect time for Clark to open his mouth and let the moan out.

"I *always* like doing this, in case you don't remember..."

"I think maybe a part of me remembers, or -- well, it's definitely convinced that it's something *to* remember --"

Dick's laugh is brief and happy and somehow *clean*, clear and open and untouched by all the things that have hurt him over the years, and even, maybe, by the things they were talking about before. It feels like some kind of magic trick, only 'trick' is the wrong word for it. It's too small, and --

And, anyway, the question in Dick's eyes has become one about the jeans Dick is wearing, and -- "That can't -- I mean, you're not really *asking* me, are you?"

"Well -- it's just that I'll have to -- for some measurable period of time -- have to stop moving *on* you, Clark."

Which is a difficult question, and one that's not going to be answered by the feel of his palms on Dick's strong thighs, and the sleek skin of his stomach, and the hard little points of --

"Mm. Which is not to say we can't table the discussion for a *little* later -- oh. That's -- oh, just -- the sides of your thumbs --"

"Okay --"

"And also -- also maybe just *one* hand, and you can kind of give my little friend down there a hello squeeze -- *fuck*, yes, that's --"

"Dick --"

"Right here, Clark, and --" Dick comes back down, shifting and moving in ways that aren't quite perfect, but then Dick's hands are between them, and Clark realizes that the incredible *tease* is just Dick working on his pants, and so, really, it's *entirely* perfect.

It's not that Clark isn't fully aware that it would all go much faster if Dick were to stop rocking and grinding and generally making the whole world -- or at least the Cave -- into a better place, it's just that it's stopped seeming possible or at all right-thinking for him to do it any other way --

Especially since, when Clark puts his hands on Dick's hips and squeezes him there, Dick shuts his eyes for just a moment and groans, low and -- and *sweet*, somehow, even though the only thing Clark is tasting is his own saliva. He licks his lips and starts pushing a little on Dick's jeans --

"Not quite -- mm, almost --"

The sound of the zipper is broken by what feels like a thousand really *long* pauses as Dick moves, and so Clark winds up moaning again when the jeans finally *do* move. It's not that -- he wasn't going to tear them off Dick or anything like that.

His hands are just shaking because -- oh, *because*. And Dick still has boxer briefs on, but there's a moment when Dick's knuckles are kind of digging in against Clark's thigh, and then -- skin.

Warmth, just a hint of slickness that isn't his -- and then it doesn't matter, because they're sliding together, and --

"Yeah, that -- that's -- just get a hold on both of us, loosely --"

"Are you sure?"

Another laugh, but this one trails into a moan -- "Oh, Clark, I love your hands so much -- yeah, I'm sure, because --" Dick kisses him, slow and wet and so *good*, but it doesn't seem to answer any questions. Neither does the way Dick grabs his free hand and moves it until it's over Clark's head, but...

Something about the way Dick pushes his fingers between Clark's own and squeezes and *pushes* until Clark's hand is digging in against the mats makes the idea of questions kind of meaningless. Clark bucks his hips --

And then Dick *drives* against him, hard and fast and -- hard and *fast*. The motion almost causes Clark to let go, especially since he's hardly holding on at all, but -- the feel --

It's uneven and teasing and a little harder than he wants it to be in some places and lighter in others, and the only real constant is the *slide* of Dick's penis, the motion of his body -- Dick breaks the kiss and pushes up on his hands and *looks* at Clark.

It's like being told something important, or maybe just *ordered* in some way. He can't understand the look with anything but his body, and then it doesn't seem like he can do it *well*. Dick's rhythm keeps *changing*, and it's not too fast for *Clark*, or --

It *shouldn't* be too fast for Clark, but it is, and the only thing Clark can do is just keep pumping with his hips, keep trying to reach, trying to touch --

"Dick, I need you --"

"Clark. Oh -- Jesus, sometimes I think your skin is *too* smooth --"

"Sorry --"

Dick laughs again, moans again, tilts his head back until every muscle and tendon seems to stand out as perfectly as they would on a statue carved by someone -- someone *hungry* -- "This. Just -- this --"

"Please," Clark says, and squeezes once. Dick stiffens, all over, but he doesn't *stop* --

"And maybe that, too -- yeah, just -- keep *letting go*," Dick says, and moves a little faster, a little *wilder*.

He stiffens every time Clark squeezes, and it's so incredible to watch that it's almost hard for Clark to focus on how it feels to *him*, beyond the sense of it being a kind of starburst flash at the back of his brain, the base of his spine --

"Let go --"

"Oh, I -- Dick, I --"

"That's it, that's -- oh, you're so *good*, Clark --"

Clark shakes his head. He isn't, he can't even -- he'd never imagined that it could ever seem so complicated to just squeeze and relax and squeeze and relax, over and over, but his hand keeps insisting that it could be *stroking* Dick, and that flashing thing, so bright and still so *sweet* --

The tension all over Dick's body --

The scent of his sweat --

And then Clark *can't* make himself let go anymore, even though holding on like this means Dick can't move as much, even though -- oh, Dick *growls*, and looks at him again, and --

"*Please*," Clark says, and something hardens in Dick's expression for just a moment before it becomes soft again, open again --


That hardness, that -- just -- another moment when Dick didn't look like Bruce, but rather like someone else who Clark *didn't* know, and he can't -- he still can't make himself let go, and the thing at the base of his spine feels like it's too big for his body, like something which could swallow him whole, or burn him away -- "You feel -- I can't -- it's too good, too --"

"Then come."

"*Dick* --"

"*Do* it," he says, and squeezes Clark's hand again, and smiles -- wide and wet and *sharp* --

The first spasm makes Clark's whole body jerk, and he's dimly aware of biting his own lip hard enough for it to *hurt*, but he can't really --

He can't --

He gasps, and feels himself spasming again, and Dick's watching him and still moving, still *doing* this to him -- Clark hears himself crying out and has a faint sense of the back of his head hitting the mats, and then the world starts coming back.

Dick makes up most of it, since he's still working his hips and holding Clark's hand against the mats --

And when Clark tugs his other hand from between them, Dick grabs it and brings it to his mouth, sucking two of Clark's fingers in and closing his eyes and -- Clark's not actually going to soften at all, this time. He just isn't. He *can't*.

Dick's eyes are closed, and his lashes are two dark sweeps, and his cheeks hollow as he sucks, and his mouth looks like he'd bitten his lip, too. Clark thinks he'll remember Dick looking like this forever, and he's terrified that he won't.


Dick presses his tongue up against Clark's fingers for a moment and then lets them slip out of his mouth. "You might as well come out here," he says, and -- winks at Clark.

Clark blinks. Come... out? "I --"

"I would've heard you come in," Dick says. "If I hadn't seen the car flash by on the monitors, Bruce."

Clark blinks *harder*. He hadn't heard -- but he hadn't really been paying attention --

"Did you want me to watch."

There isn't really a question in Bruce's voice. There isn't really -- there's hardly any *Bruce* in Bruce's voice --

"Watch --" Dick laughs, and it doesn't sound like a real laugh at all -- "Does what I want matter...?"

Silence, but -- not really. Bruce's heartbeat doesn't have the same rhythm of either of theirs, and Clark can hear him breathing. And, after a moment, he can hear Bruce's footsteps.

He's not sure if Dick can or not. There's a faint smile on his face, but it's distant enough to seem like it doesn't have anything to do with anything in the Cave, at all, and his eyes are closed. Not squeezed shut, just... closed. "Um."

He has no idea what comes after that, and Dick is -- slowing down. Not really stopping, and he's -- he's really *hard*, and Clark can hear Bruce getting closer, and closer, and --

Bruce stops. He can't be very far behind Dick, but, in this position, all Clark can really be sure of is his shadow. "I..." He still doesn't know what comes next, and -- it's too *quiet*.

Neither Bruce nor Dick is saying anything, and they're both breathing evenly -- or almost evenly, in Dick's case, and the only sounds are the bats and the whisper of Dick's skin against his own. He still hasn't *stopped*, and --

And Clark has to admit that the *weirdness* isn't going to matter for much longer -- Dick feels too good. Dick looks -- that distant smile is still on his face, but it looks harder, somehow -- "Bruce," Dick says.

Clark waits, and -- he's not sure what he's waiting for. He just knows that it's more than the quiet, than the perfect calm of Bruce's heart rate and breathing. It feels like there's a wire inside Clark's head, being stretched and kind of *sawed* on at the same time, like maybe when it snaps it'll cut him to pieces -- "Bruce...?"

Nothing. Just -- Clark thinks about pleading, thinks about the way it's getting harder to concentrate on the others with his own heart pounding -- Clark swallows --

"You haven't asked Clark if he wants me here," Bruce says.

"Mm." Dick opens his eyes and -- they're not as distant-seeming as his smile, but that may be because they have a kind of *wildness* in them which is, well, *immediate*. Clark knows that he's staring more than looking, but blinking doesn't even make him suddenly see bones.

Just -- Dick.

"Do you want Bruce here, Clark? With us?"

Clark resists the urge to bite his lip again and tries really hard to make himself focus on *thinking* about the question, but it feels like he's barely made the question make sense before Dick grinds down and moans, low and -- and *quiet*. "Dick, I -- Bruce --"

Dick sits up and back, pulling his hand free of Clark's own, and -- settling it on his face. "He's your best friend, Clark --"

"Like you, and I -- I don't..." Clark swallows and tries and fails to look up past Dick to *see* Bruce -- as opposed to hearing him back away. "Bruce," Clark says, and -- it feels like a kind of victory to be getting really tired of not knowing what comes next, but it's not a very *big* victory. Clark sits up --

And Dick wraps his arms around him. Not tightly, but -- it's still a hug. It was probably pretty obvious that he needed one, and -- and Bruce isn't *behind* Clark, so that space between his shoulder blades should really stop itching and tingling. Dick strokes him there, and -- maybe a lot of things are obvious.

To everyone but *him*, anyway. Clark frowns, and reaches out --

And Bruce drops to a crouch behind Dick and takes his hand. The cowl is still on, but there's something about the expression on the rest of his face -- there's *something*. The twitch at the corner of Bruce's mouth is probably a smile, but there's a tightness behind it, a sense of something waiting, or maybe just riding there.

Waiting there, and probably not for him. Clark can't see Bruce's other hand like this, but it seems like it's really important to know what it's doing --

"Ah," Dick says, and shivers -- Clark holds on with the hand Bruce isn't holding, and --

"What -- Bruce, what are you doing?"

"I'm testing --"

"If you say you're 'testing a theory,' Bruce, I'm not going to be in a very good mood," Dick says, shivering again and -- closing his eyes.

It feels like --

"Hm. How necessary is that, exactly...?"

It feels -- Bruce's voice is a little teasing, but it's still not quite *Bruce's* voice, but -- it's Batman, and Clark isn't going to say that, and there's not enough to *look* at with Dick's eyes closed. "I --"

Dick laughs, and --

Maybe it's a Nightwing laugh. Or maybe it's some kind of other laugh, entirely, and -- Bruce's hand is between them, now, moving, sliding... the gauntlet is too smooth and too cold, and maybe that's why Dick is shivering -- shuddering. Clark thinks about trying again, saying something -- it would have to make Bruce look at him, or --

No, it would be better if Dick looked. The *cowl* is still on, and --

"You could -- either or both of you -- tell me what you want," Bruce says.

And the thing is -- it *seems* like an entirely reasonable question. It's just that Clark isn't sure how he'd answer that, and also the tone of Bruce's voice --

"You're really not expecting an answer, are you," Dick says, and his eyes are still closed, and it makes the smile on his face even stranger, or darker, or -- he tilts his head back. "Kiss me."

The tightness behind Bruce's face gets even -- there's something about it which makes Clark think of drought conditions, and the way sometimes there was nothing either he or his mother could say to make the tension leave his father's shoulders. Clouds and no rain, heavy air and the stink of too much ozone -- "Bruce, Dick, both of you, you're really --"

"One moment," Bruce says, and --

The kiss doesn't look hard, or painful, or -- punishing, he guesses. Clark thinks, maybe, that was what he was looking for, but it's not *there*. It's just that Clark can't say, for sure, what *is* there.

Bruce and Dick are two of the handsomest men Clark has ever met, and they're kissing each other, and it looks really -- Clark can feel himself getting harder, and wanting to -- to do *things*. But there's also something scary about it, something a little *wrong* about the feel of Bruce's gauntlet between his body and Dick's own, and the slow caress --

Is it a caress?

"Oh," Clark says, and leans in, and thinks -- he thinks, maybe, he can --

Not fix it. You have to know where something is *broken* in order to fix it, but -- neither of them had been like this with him, and maybe he can remind them, or -- Clark kisses the hard line of Dick's jaw, and does it again, a little more forcefully --

And then Dick spasms, tenses -- Bruce's hand is moving a different *way* between them, and -- maybe he'd pinched Dick's nipple? Dick breaks the kiss, and his lips are a little wet, and so are Bruce's --

And then they're both looking at him. Clark feels himself pulling back -- but Dick holds him tighter, and, when Clark blinks --

Bruce's eyes don't tell him much more than the blank lenses of the cowl, and that's -- he can't really -- Clark closes his eyes and tries to *will* himself to see normally again.

"Oh, that's..." Dick touches Clark's face. "Hey, it's okay --"

Bruce hums again. "Is it?"

Dick is -- shifting against him, moving -- he's still hard, and Clark opens his eyes, and -- they're both still looking at him. Dick's lips are parted just a little, and Bruce -- it's just the cowl, again, and Clark knows that right now it probably doesn't make a difference --

Not *enough* of a difference --

He reaches out and pushes at the cowl, the sharp and unforgiving line of it against Bruce's cheek --

"If you'd like," Bruce says, and pulls it back over his head. And then he looks at Dick. Dick doesn't turn away from Clark, but he tenses again, shudders again -- it makes enough of a difference for Dick, and maybe that's...

Clark nods, and he doesn't know exactly what he's agreeing to, but he knows it makes the tension change, and he isn't thinking about Smallville at all, anymore. That has to be obvious, too, or -- it's possible that Dick had just wanted to kiss him right then. His jeans and briefs are down around his thighs, and Clark doesn't remember telling his hands to go there -- when had he let go of Bruce? -- but he thinks it was a good decision.

He can feel Bruce's hand moving between them again, and there's something a little scary about that, but -- there are wet sounds, soft sounds -- kissing sounds that don't have anything to do with what he's doing with Dick. He pulls back again and Bruce is kissing Dick's neck and shoulder.

There's something *precise* about it, something almost measured about the way Bruce drags his mouth over the tendon and -- bites down. Dick exhales on a sigh that doesn't *quite* sound like Bruce's name, and, when Clark looks, his eyes are half-closed, distant again --

And then clear and *sharp* when Dick stands up, and -- Clark blushes at the realization that he hadn't let *go* of Dick's jeans and shorts, but Dick only twists and pushes them the rest of the way down. Clark looks at Bruce, and Bruce is staring at him again.

The smile behind his eyes is the one which is getting familiar, and it makes it really clear and kind of *important* that Clark is still wearing a -- sticky -- t-shirt. He pulls it off and tosses it aside, and -- they're both looking at him again. It's -- naked is a *good* idea for this, but Bruce is still suited up in his uniform, and somehow that makes Clark feel more naked than naked. Dick is -- Dick seems comfortable in his own skin, resolved and beautiful and, while Clark watches, he slides one hand down to his erection, squeezes himself, and then reaches down to cup his sac and squeezes *that*, and that means the important thing is that Dick isn't right there, anymore.

Clark starts to stand up --

"Don't," Dick says, and --

"Stay there. Please," Bruce says, and closes the distance between them, and -- it's not that Clark didn't see every move he made, it's just that Dick is standing there watching, and Bruce's gaze is too sharp and too focused --

And then Bruce is kissing him, and Clark can taste Dick's sweat and smell Bruce's own, smell the armor -- feel it against him --

Bruce's gauntlets on his face -- it doesn't seem like --

Dick laughs again, and this laugh is closer to being something that doesn't make something in Clark's spine want to *seize*, but -- "I'm even more predictable than I thought I was. I actually want to *talk* about this --"

Bruce makes a soft sound that Clark can't translate and kisses him harder, and Clark can't really -- he opens his eyes, but Dick isn't looking at him, and -- Bruce's tongue is thick and mobile. Clark would like to suck it, at least a little, but it feels like Bruce is making a space for himself in Clark's mouth, and it's easier and better just to let him --

"Oh, I didn't mean *now*," Dick says, and Clark can hear him moving... behind Bruce. "Sometime in the future. Maybe one of us can be drugged or horribly poisoned," he says --

That sound is Dick's hands on Bruce's uniform, a faint scrape, a whisper -- the sound of things being unbuckled, opened --

"Or maybe one of us could, hmm, where's that little trap -- got it. One of us could say something incredibly insensitive -- that would be *you*, by the way, Bruce, and then --"

Clark isn't sure what cuts Dick off, but then, after a moment, Bruce slips his tongue out and Clark finds himself kissing a smile that doesn't twitch. "Um --"

"Perhaps," Bruce says, leaning back and spreading his arms to make it easier for Dick to remove the armor, "you could punch me in the mouth."

"Er -- that doesn't really sound like -- Bruce, Dick, you --"

"Oh, that *does* sound like something I'd do -- did you know, I hardly ever use those sorts of punches on the street?"

"I'd noticed," Bruce says, and Clark thinks about saying something else, but then Bruce tugs his gauntlets off, and Bruce's thumb is on his lower lip, and -- not very far past his shoulder, Dick is winking at him.

"In any event, those are the punches that tend to *end* a conversation --"

"Which is not to say that you don't tend to get a fair amount of... emphatic speech in beforehand."

"I'm a talker, it's true," Dick says. "It just wouldn't *feel* right if I didn't pretend you were paying attention, every now and again --"

"I'm always listening," Bruce says, and -- Dick pauses. There was *more* in Bruce's voice than the continuing -- and kind of awful -- tease, and it makes Clark want to hide, a little. The 'more' didn't have anything to do with him.

"Maybe I should --"

Get kissed, again, by Bruce. More and more, Clark's feeling convinced that Bruce *had* been... steering their conversations, if not actively nailing down a path in Clark's mind where he was allowed to go, with big walls put up for all the places he can't --

Clark bites Bruce's lip. *Lightly*, but still. And he remembers to open his eyes --

Just in time to see *Bruce's* eyes narrow for a moment before opening normally again.

Dick lifts the chest armor away and sets it aside. "Ooh, I think that was dirty pool, Bruce."

Bruce pulls back against the hold Clark has on his lip, and -- he can't really say anything, or do anything -- he can't just keep biting down. Clark lets go, and fights back the urge to apologize --

"'Dirty pool,' I was thinking, would be to ask Clark if he'd like to bite Tim's lip that way --"

Dick coughs -- laughs --

"But," Bruce says, and presses his tongue against his lower lip for a moment, "I have to admit that things seem to have... progressed, since last I was here."

And Clark's really glad he hadn't apologized, but mostly he's wondering why he doesn't have the superpower which will allow him not to blush. "You... I don't know why you're both being like this," he says, and crosses his arms -- too tightly, too obviously --

"Hey," Dick says, moving from behind Bruce to crouch beside Clark, "I think Bruce was just trying -- in an *incredibly* unhelpful way -- to express that we all have things that we're not good at talking about. Though... Tim?"

"It's possible that Clark doesn't want to talk about that right this moment --"

"Bruce, are you seriously being impatient right now? Is *that* what you're doing?"

"Dick," Clark says, and uses the empty space that comes after that to grab Dick's arms and squeeze.

"Right here, and -- too much?"

He -- he'd really like to be able to say 'no,' to that, because 'yes' has a lot of things attached to it that would maybe involve them all getting dressed again. If nothing else -- and there's a lot more than nothing to be considered -- he thinks if he had to pretend that none of this was happening, or had almost happened, it would probably drive him pretty much entirely crazy. But. Clark nods.

Dick nods back at him, and he's looking at Clark -- *studying* him, it feels like, but that's a lot better than all of that *distance*. "I can absolutely shut the hell up," he says --

"Oh, I -- I didn't mean that you couldn't talk at *all*, Dick --"

"Though I would listen to that, as well," Bruce says, and Clark winces -- he thinks maybe Dick will *have* to say something else about that, and maybe then all of the punches and things that were being discussed would be real --

But Dick only -- sighs, shoulders dropping out of tension Clark had been too wound up, himself, to notice... "You..." Clark bites his lip for a moment. "The two of you haven't -- made love."

Dick raises his eyebrows and says, only a little pointedly, "No."

Bruce doesn't say anything at all, but he does stand up, and he raises his eyebrows. It's a question, and it probably has a lot of importance for this particular moment, and it's absolutely unclear until Bruce rests his hands on the waistband of his uniform shorts.

"Oh -- yes," Clark says, and he'd like to say more than that. He'd like to tell them both that he loves them, that this is something he remembers *and* something he knows, and that 'lovers' is such a strange word to use when you don't mean it with every part of you, or maybe something about how the word doesn't *work* if you try not to let it mean everything it should. But --

They'd let him set the rules, or -- it seems like they have, anyway, and that means that he has to do something. He'd like to kiss them both, and touch them, and hold them, and just -- everything that would be even a little bit safe to do with his powers and all of the things they...

He doesn't really think it can *get* any easier than this, and probably that's something else Bruce had meant by what he'd said about Tim, as if Bruce thought that the best way to deal with the fact that Clark loves him and Dick is to scare him about it, or -- something.

Clark shakes it off and watches Bruce take the rest of his clothes off. It feels like he's doing more than that, just like how it feels like the way Bruce is looking at him is, in fact, a way for him not to look at Dick. Certainly, Dick has that distant smile on his face again, and maybe it doesn't really matter if someone is your lover or not. You still don't get to understand everything -- and that feels like a message his older self had left for him.

Maybe a warning -- but Bruce is so tall, and so broad and muscular. There are a lot of scars, but Clark thinks he might not look like himself without them, or maybe he means that the world wouldn't look like *itself*, and that's probably closer to the truth.

He's hard, but not as much as either Clark or Dick, and right now that just means that it would be incredibly easy to get him into his mouth --

"Come down here," Dick says, and Clark realizes that he'd just been sitting here with his mouth open --

And Bruce isn't entirely on his knees before Dick is kneeling up and taking Bruce's face in both hands, and -- he's not saying anything else, but he doesn't have to. *This* kiss looks like all of the things their other kiss didn't, and maybe neither of them have to say anything at all for Clark to feel confused and a little alone. This isn't really -- he moves back, a little, and Bruce catches his arm --

And pushes Dick away with his other hand.

"What -- oh. God, you'd think I was never a Titan," Dick says, and pushes a hand back through his hair. "Clark... you should come here and help me find useful things to do with my mouth."

Bruce lets out a quiet grunt, and Dick tenses again -- but he also smiles. It looks like the smile is at war with the tension, and, after a moment, it looks like the smile wins.


"Clark, you... maybe you just *forgot* that I had a lot of issues...?"

"I've often found," Bruce says, and tugs -- lightly -- on Clark's arm, "that Clark's optimism is a force unto itself."

"Yes, but..." And Dick strokes his way up over Bruce's arm until he's gripping Clark's arm just *beyond* Bruce's fist, "don't you think it's something to try to live up to? In terms of acting like sane, reasonable people, I mean."

Clark looks at their hands, their bare arms leading to -- "Oh, I think... I think you two could give it a try."

They look at him. Their eyes are smiling so... and Clark remembers, as clear as anything, looking down on the loud and brilliant sprawl of Gotham, and looking closer, because he could hear their heartbeats, and that they were a little fast. They were surrounded, then, by men with guns and knives, and they shifted, at once, until they were back to back.

And they were smiling, just like this, solid and together and -- together. The way they should always be, maybe, and -- 

He'd known they hadn't needed him there, and probably wouldn't have wanted him there, and he'd left them. He still feels like it would be better in some ways if he were to leave them *now*, but --

He doesn't have to.

Clark smiles at them both. And tugs.


Clark dreams the way he always does, half-aware of himself as something and someone slightly other than the Clark he's watching and occasionally being. The world inside of him is full of people and things and sights and sounds and smells, tastes and feelings, and when he drifts too far into knowing everything, all at once, there's a breath or a screech of bats --

The bed, beneath him, is too soft, and too quiet, and much too big. The room is too dark -- his eyes aren't open, but he knows this, in the same way he knows, from memory, that there are too many trees just outside the windows for the moonlight to get in.

This makes him uncomfortable, but he can't put a finger on why, beyond the fact that he isn't *home* --

And then all of the sounds he'd heard/is hearing fill themselves in. The city is so close, and seems to pulse itself at him, beat like some strange heart, arrhythmic and vital --

Engines are everywhere, purring and growling, and he isn't home, and none of them are in the fields, none of them are dangerous, none --

The birds aren't singing, but they had been, moving through the trees, and he can hear the faint clap of the leaves slapping against each other, pulling free and falling, scratching and sliding against the walls of the manor --

And then he's watching himself moving through the manor, and he can feel the short hairs on Dick's arm prickling and tickling the back of his neck, and he wants to be closer to that --

And the sweat on Bruce's forehead had tasted a little bit like armor, but mostly of salt --

And then everything is skin, bodies, warmth -- heat and sweat, and how it was so easy to have his hands full, to be close, to be held and touched --

You should always be like this, he thinks, and he hadn't said it, so it echoes throughout the dream until Clark is aware of his real mouth whispering the words, and of his real hands clutching at the sheets --

Always --


Clark sleeps.


The sound is so simple and normal that, even though it's loud, it doesn't really penetrate so much as irritate, a little. Clark rolls on to his back -- and feels the sun on his face, and wonders -- oh, he's going to be late for *school* --

And then he actually *hears* the phone ringing, and he knows he doesn't have a phone by his bed --

And he knows where he is. He just still doesn't know why the phone is still ringing -- he picks it up. "Hello...?"

"There you are," a computerized voice says. "I thought you farm boys were supposed to wake up with the sun."

"Um... I..." There's no *tone* to the voice, but the words make him look for one, anyway, and when it's still not there... Clark doesn't get headaches, but he thinks he maybe wants one right now. "Who..." And then he remembers Lois, and -- "Oracle?"

"The one and only. It's nearly ten. Don't you think you should go for a nice long run?"

A run... oh, that sounds really -- but. "I don't think... I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to stay here," Clark says, and wonders what Gotham air would feel like against his face, and... there's pavement here. Everywhere. He might not even kick up much of a dust cloud. "Or -- maybe I can?"

"Oh, you can. You need the fresh air. You need the sunlight. You need to come see me."

"Oh, I do. I mean... I do? I mean... I'd like to get to know you," Clark says, and wonders if Oracle calls people like this all the time, or -- The sound is grating and loud and regular -- and he realizes that it's laughter. He winces and holds the phone a little away from his ear --

"I keep thinking I should modify that sound, but it's always amusing to watch reactions to it," Oracle says, and it takes a moment to sink in, but --

Watch. Clark hadn't *seen* any cameras, but he hadn't been looking, either. He's -- really not home. "Um. So. I don't know --"

"I know it's not the best option, but there are more of Nightwing's workout clothes downstairs. On the uppermost monitor, you'll find a map of your route. Is there anything else?"

"Er... no?"

"Good. And goodbye," the voice says, and then there's the click of the line being closed.

Clark stares at the phone for a moment after hanging up, but it really does seem to be just a phone, and it doesn't ring again. Well -- okay. Clark gets out of bed -- and pulls Bruce's boxers up.

The bed is just as big as it was last night, but it's just a bed, and it's not hard to make it up again. And then there's just the matter of walking through the manor in a pair of Bruce's boxer shorts. It's a strange feeling to be both absolutely positive that he's *late* for things, but that it's also too early to be blushing like this.

He wonders what Lois is doing right now.

He wonders if she's thinking about what *he's* doing. It doesn't seem quite real that he has a whole life in Metropolis, anymore, even though the memories aren't any more vague than they were before, and he doesn't feel like he's exactly *used* to life in the manor.

Did Bruce even have dinner last night?

And -- there are closets here. Maybe there's a robe, or something he could put on over the boxer shorts --

There isn't. There isn't even any *dust*. Even the old closets at home will have a little dust, maybe a spider web or two... he's going to have to walk through the manor in boxer shorts.

The fact that he'd done it last night doesn't mean anything. Last *night* he'd been happy and tired and his skin had still been buzzing from... everything. All of everything. Also, Bruce had been guiding him through the manor to this room, and -- well, it's not like he'll get lost. He's always had a very good sense of direction, and anyway, he'd only have to follow the sound of all the bats. It's just that it's *day*, now, and he really should've asked for his robe back. He's not even sure where it is, right now.

Well, he can do it fast. Not too fast -- he doesn't want to hurt the carpets -- but definitely fast. And the fact that he kind of wants to close his eyes... well, his grandmother has been dead since he was ten, and his Ma and Pa are in Smallville, and that means that there's no one here to give him a Look for walking around like this.

He takes a deep breath and goes for it, slowing down enough not to break the clock in the study, and -- clothes. Clothes are somewhere. Running around is challenging when you're also trying to hold on to a pair of boxer shorts, but the clothes are definitely *somewhere* -- lockers!

He knows where the lockers are, and -- Bruce. Right there, leaning against the lockers, wearing a suit that looks more perfect on him than any suit has ever looked on Clark. Clark stops, rocking in his own wake. Bruce has his arms folded and there's a little smile on his face, and --

"Good morning."

"Oh -- good morning, Bruce. Um. I think -- um." He'd definitely planned on leaving without saying anything, just in case Bruce said he had to stay. He hadn't known until just this moment that this was the plan, but now he -- definitely knows. It's definitely too early to blush.

Bruce looks at him. And -- looks. Just looks, not *Looks*, but it's still -- it's Bruce.

Clark makes a very sincere effort not to stare at his feet. He just -- he wants to be *outside*. "Bruce, I... um. Oracle --"

"Oracle informed me that you were planning a visit to the Clocktower."

A clock tower? That's where Oracle lives? Had he really thought about where she... is he sure that Oracle's a she? Red hair -- but that's not very helpful --

"Memory difficulties, Clark?"

"Oh, I was just -- trying to -- yes. I... was going to leave a note?"

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "Of course."

"It's just that... I don't know Oracle, and I -- I think I should." Clark rubs his hands on his thighs and immediately feels the boxers start to slip. "I mean --"

"I wasn't planning on stopping you, Clark. You're going to need to be as discreet as you can, however. The route Oracle suggested will help with that, the rest is up to you."

"I -- oh. I can do that. I wasn't planning to... I mean, how much crime is usually going on here at this time of day?"

Bruce hums and stands up straight. "I try not to consider questions like that too deeply. I... Clark," he says, and pauses for a moment before putting a hand on his shoulder. His palm is cool and dry, and the pressure seems... different. Or -- maybe it's the expression on his face?

Clark isn't sure, but covering Bruce's hand feels like a good plan, and it means that he'll carry Bruce's scent with him for at least a little while, and... no, it doesn't look like sex. "Bruce?"

"Last night... hm." Bruce raises his eyebrows again. "Dick and I spoke more after you went to sleep, and it occurs to me -- in a vague and somewhat untrustworthy way, that you might want to talk, as well."

The thing is -- he really does. Last night had been -- all of *yesterday* had been -- he's not a virgin anymore, at least not with guys, and that seems like... well. He'd always been afraid to get too close to any of the girls back home, and none of the guys had ever seemed...

He'd never seen any of the guys *look* the way he sometimes caught himself looking, and he can't really count the number of times he'd used his speed to keep himself from getting caught doing that. And --

Bruce wants to talk to him. Or -- thinks he *should* talk to Clark, and that seems like a really large and important thing, and Clark doesn't know how to even begin. It's -- it's *Bruce*.


"I... I'm not sure I can, really. I mean, it's all... part of me feels like everything that happened yesterday was exactly right, that it was all supposed to happen just that way, or -- almost that way." Dick's *tension* -- Clark shakes it off. "The rest of me is still kind of... surprised? I don't know if that's the right word, but..." Clark shrugs, a little. Not enough to dislodge Bruce's hand.

Bruce's expression shifts, and for a moment it's a really *hard* look, but it seems to be less about Clark than whatever Bruce is thinking about. Still --

"I mean... did you want to talk? About... um."

"When you find yourself in doubt about your desires, your motivations, does it ever seem..." Bruce trails off, squeezes Clark's shoulder, and lets go, sliding his hand out from under Clark's own.

Clark doesn't really know what Bruce was going to say, even though it feels like he should, and -- There's something in Bruce's expression which makes Clark want to reach out, but there's also something -- it's like a tension which doesn't need to stay *within* Bruce in order to exist. And it still doesn't feel anything like anything Clark can understand, or even pretend to. "Bruce, I'm -- I'm okay."

"You are... entirely yourself," Bruce says, and the tension breaks with a smile that doesn't make it to Bruce's mouth. "Third locker. There's breakfast for you near the console," he says, and walks away.

It isn't long before Clark hears Bruce's footsteps on the stairs, and then he lets the boxers go. They don't *immediately* fall down around his ankles -- they wait until Clark tries to take a step. Clark gives up on them and opens the locker.

Inside is a plain white t-shirt and -- another pair of green shorts. He already knows they're going to be tight, but... discretion. He's *supposed* to move fast enough that people won't see him, or see much, so it won't matter if the shorts are so tight that they're... tight.

Somehow it mattered less yesterday. Or -- well, he's going to *meet* someone new. Or relatively new. The fact that he's covered more than Dick or Jason used to be when they were Robins... isn't really enough. He gets dressed, and checks the map. His route is marked off in blue, and it does seem to skirt around the city as much as go through it. Those must be the parts of the city which aren't very well-populated, or... hmm. Places where most of the population leaves to go to work, maybe.

Breakfast is a really *big* bowl of oatmeal studded with raisins and dates, several pieces of toast, a cantaloupe, a carton of orange juice, and a carton of organic milk -- both of the latter in ice buckets. When he's done, he feels really wonderful -- even though the milk isn't as good as what he gets at home -- and also like maybe he should've eaten something else before he'd gone to bed. He hadn't thought he was *that* hungry.

He takes the tray and buckets up to the kitchen, washes them, wishes he had any *idea* where to put them away, leaves them to dry, and then heads back down to the Cave. He takes one last look at the map, but he already has it memorized.

He runs.

And stops almost as soon as he's outside, because it feels like it's been years since he's been outside in the sun. He *remembers* standing in the early morning sunlight the day before yesterday, waiting for the school bus, but...

Maybe it's because he knows that wasn't, really, the day before yesterday, or maybe it's something else, but it doesn't feel *real*. He knows, in his bones, that if he suddenly developed the ability to fly, he would just go up and up and up, as far as he could go, holding his breath if he had to...

It feels like his whole *body* is breathing. He wonders if there's something they haven't told him about the sun --

And then he stops. The real question is whether or not they didn't tell him on *purpose*. Maybe Oracle will tell him.

He runs, as fast he can until he gets near people, and then he slows enough to keep from knocking people down. It *is* easier in a place like this. He doesn't have to worry about ruining anyone's crops, or doing anything worse than mussing people's hair. The ground feels too hard, of course, but it doesn't *hurt*, and --

In his wake, where the sound is shifting and strange, he hears people shouting about the Flash, and he realizes that there are *two* people who that name belongs to in his mind. It's just that the other one -- the first one? -- is only an impression of friendliness, the scent of chemicals, a glimpse of blond hair -- *loss*. There are so many people he needs to *know*, and he's beginning to figure out how he could be too busy.

The world is full of heroes, real *heroes*, and there's something so wrong that so few of them have left the kind of marks that not even this spell or meteorite poisoning or whatever it is can erase. It frightens him, and makes him want to run faster, *learn* faster --

Maybe, when he's older and more powerful, he won't have to sleep so much. Maybe...

It's -- it's *something*. It's not a very detailed or clever plan, but if he's stuck like this, and Bruce and Dick and the others have to train him until he's good enough to help people again, then at least he'll be able to do things with his time to make his memories as solid as they can be.

He smells the waterfront before he gets there -- and then there are ships and lot of warehouses and very few people. The shadows, though... there seem to be a lot of them, and there are women who don't seem to be wearing... oh. He doesn't slow down, and but he still isn't fast enough not to see how dirty the actual water is, how full of trash and skimmed with oil... it's not right, though he'd known intellectually that the water around cities had to be dirtier than the water in other places.

It's still not right.

He's on the part of the route that curves jaggedly back into the city center now, and sometimes he has to cut through traffic to avoid running into people. It's loud, here, and his wake is full of voices that are just distorted enough to make Clark strain to understand. He wants to slow down and *listen*, to see if the noises are the same as they were in Metropolis, to see if he'd be able to see and hear the differences Dick had talked about, to see what made Gotham into the sort of place where Clark didn't belong.

He wants to know *why* he wouldn't be effective. There are people here, just like everywhere else, and there are baby cries and the sounds of people selling things, and that thrumming *rhythm*...

He shakes it off and runs the final few blocks and just a little beyond, zipping into an alley and then walking at a human pace out of it. This means he has to spend half a block walking around in very tight shorts, but -- discreet can mean different things at different times, and most of the time when he gets that feeling that someone is staring at him he's really just being nervous and shy.

Except that, when he checks, people really are looking at him. Part of him.

Clark walks a little faster. And the clock tower -- the way Bruce had said it made it sound more like Clocktower, in the same way the cave was really a Cave -- is just another building on this street, though if you look closely you can see it's much older, and had maybe once been the tallest building around. It seems... *central*, somehow, even though it's not that way on the maps.

A part of Gotham that --

"You could ring the doorbell."

The voice -- female, low, and nothing like Lois' -- is a whisper compared to all the noise on the street -- and also it comes from a speaker above Clark's head. He looks up --

"The camera is further down, but that's a lovely view of your throat."

"Oh, I --" Clark thinks about it. "Only one camera?"

"Hmm. Just for that you don't have to ring the bell, after all."

The door clicks and swings open slightly, and... "What would've happened if I had rung the bell?"

"That would be telling," Oracle says, and -- doesn't say anything else. Clark takes a breath and walks inside. It's dim after the sunlight, and the hall seems narrower than it should be. There's another door at the end of the hall, but nothing at all along the sides. It's an artificial sort of blankness, and Clark wonders what's behind those solid-looking walls. Maybe he'll find out.

The door at the end of the hall turns out to be an elevator, and the button looks a lot more ominous than it should --

The doors open without him pressing it, and Clark walks inside. At this point, he can't help but look for the cameras. He finds two before the elevator stops, but he's pretty sure there were probably more. The cameras are probably the least of it -- there's something about this building that almost screams *secure*.

He walks out of the elevator into what looks like an apartment with a lot of extra computer equipment -- though there's something strange about the proportions. A lot of things seem... lower than they could be?

He concentrates, looking for something other than the mild hum of electronics, and heads right, toward the sound of heartbeats -- two different ones, and one is familiar, somehow. Maybe he knows Oracle better than he'd thought? And maybe the other one is Batgirl. Clark pauses and tugs at the thighs of the shorts and winds up dragging them a little too low. He sighs and pulls them back up.

The apartment seems to almost *flow* into something else. There's gradually fewer homey things and more computer equipment. It's also very cool -- air-conditioned, and there's far more of a scent of artificial things than there is of woman. He catches himself hunting for hints of it in the air, and that's probably why he winds up nearly walking right past Tim.


Tim's crouched on what looks like a worktable, wearing a red t-shirt, jeans, and a strange pair of gloves that seem to be shot through with wires and other metal things. And he's smiling. "Tim is fine, Clark. I'm off-duty, after all."

"Oh, of course. Tim. I didn't expect to see you." The smile on Tim's face is small, but feels -- very bright, somehow. Clark smiles back, and -- Tim's rocking a little on his toes.

"I like to be surprising. And -- I have a present for you."

"You didn't have to -- I mean, I don't have anything for you, and --"

"Oh, I think I probably had to," Tim says, and looks Clark up and down with raised eyebrows before reaching behind himself for a shopping bag and offering it. "I thought about wrapping it, but..."

The present turns out to be a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans, both of which look just enough *bigger* than what he's wearing now that they'll probably neither fall off nor strangle him. Parts of him.

"Oracle probably won't mind if you change in her -- er," Tim says, and Clark knows that the hug is probably a little too much, but it really does feel necessary.

He'll let go in a minute.

Tim hums, quietly, and strokes Clark's back. And pats it. "You're welcome. Although, I'm curious about what the *front* of the t-shirt... well. You should... look," he says, and pats Clark again.

Clark lets go, and dutifully turns the shirt over, and -- blinks. It's the same symbol that was on the inside of the ship he was in, and for a moment a part of him wants, very badly, to *panic* -- But then he remembers that Tim already knows, that his whole family knows, and many other people, as well. Clark breathes. Still -- on a *t-shirt*? "I... I don't really --"

"But the symbol itself has some meaning, already," Tim says, and taps the table between his feet. "I thought it would. And -- Dick told me the two of you spoke about... your cousins."

"This... these belong to Conner? Kon."

"He prefers Kon, unless, of course, he's being forced to be a civilian." Tim's smile briefly becomes wider. "He's not one for much... difference, between the two."

Clark nods. It seems... the memories he has of *himself* in uniform have been a little hard to credit, even though he knows all sorts of people dress really very... *very* when they're fighting crime. In a lot of ways, *this* uniform looks more practical. There are even trainers at the bottom of the bag. They look a little beat-up, but still wearable, and it will be nice to stop stuffing socks in the toes of Bruce's trainers -- he looks down. The run hadn't been very nice to them. Hm.

And Tim is watching him patiently and -- a little cautiously?

"When -- um. When did you speak to Dick...?"

The smile flashes wider again, and -- maybe gets a little rueful. "He stopped by my parents' home before heading back to Bludhaven this morning, actually. Which gave me plenty of time to be... definitively *awake* to call Kon."

There's more there than what Tim is saying, but Clark is pretty sure he knows what that 'more' is. When Bruce had led him up the stairs to bed, Dick had been crouching next to the broken chair with some tools, and he'd still been very, very naked. And he's blushing again.

Maybe people who have to keep as many secrets as Bruce's family do just don't have *time* to keep the sort of secrets other people do. It would explain the cameras.

Somewhat. Clark clears his throat. "You said I could change... somewhere?"

Tim nods. "There's a bathroom right through there," he says, pointing. "I'm going to go back to helping Oracle program my avatar," and he spreads his oddly-gloved fingers, "and... well. See you in a bit?"

Clark nods and heads toward the bathroom. He's reasonably sure Tim is watching him go, and there's something about it which feels like he's being tested, but it also seems... friendly.

The bathroom turns out to be rather more utilitarian than he would've expected, but it's not like he'd formed any especially *solid* expectations. There are bars all around the walls, and that makes him think, a bit, about the proportions in the other rooms, but he can't really make that thought solid, either. Both the t-shirt and jeans are a little bit loose, but only comfortably so after the shorts. The trainers fit perfectly, and, when he looks in the (kind of low and oddly tilted) mirror...

He's not sure. He sees himself, really. The symbol makes him feel kind of horribly exposed, even though he knows that it's a symbol that's familiar to large portions of the whole *world*, but that doesn't mean it isn't also kind of... comforting.

Maybe there's a safety in it -- of course they all know who and *what* he is, but now he's wearing it on his chest. No one can be surprised, or disgusted, or...

Or he's spending too much time in the bathroom. He washes his hands and splashes some water on his face for whatever dust he didn't just run off his skin and walks out again. Tim's nowhere to be seen, but... well, the scent of woman is stronger.

Tim's helping Oracle with a project, so they're probably close to each other. He turns a corner into a space with even more monitors than Bruce has for his computers, and she's sitting right there. Her hair is red, fairly long, and loosely pinned up at the back of her head, and she's typing rapidly, and, if anything, the scent of her here is far more powerful than it is in her bedroom. And... older, somehow.

She spends a lot of time here.

"Um... hello?"

"Clark," she says and smiles -- at the nearest monitor. "Welcome. Have a seat."

Her voice is low and natural, of course, but the rhythms of it are quite similar to the artificial voice she uses for... business. Sharp. Clark nods and sits at what seems to be another work table -- he can't really begin to guess what all the components are for, but the tools are mostly recognizable. "It's nice to meet you, Oracle."

"Hm. Likewise. Again. And you can call me Barbara."

Barbara. One of his mother's friends and fellow quilters is named Barbara, and so Clark has always thought of it as a warm name, and perhaps somewhat soft. "Oh -- all right. Thank you."

"You're welcome," she says, and turns away from the monitor for a moment to look him up and down. "Hm. It would have, of course, been easier just to buy some clothes in your size, but..."

"Oh, I don't mind borrowing!"

"Of course not," she says, and narrows her eyes behind her glasses. It's an odd and kind of intimidating expression, but then she... hums, a little. It's a laugh. "And it gave Tim the opportunity to enact a bit of... symmetry."

"Symmetry? You mean with me and Kon. Conner."

She tilts her head and narrows her eyes in a different, more thoughtful way. "And, perhaps, with the universe."

Clark's not sure what that means, but Oracle -- Barbara -- has already turned back to the screen. There's something strange about her chair. Clark looks down and --

Wheels. Oh. The proportions of everything in the apartment -- the bars in the bathroom -- *oh*.

Clark looks up quickly and fights back another blush --

"So that's something you didn't remember. Interesting," she says -- more to the monitors than to him -- and puts on a headset. "Ready, Boy Wonder?"

"And both willing and at least moderately able," Tim says, and -- he has to be somewhere nearby, but Clark can only hear him through Barbara's headset. The soundproofing must be impressive... there. There's a space which should be open, but isn't.

And -- this was something he'd known about Barbara, because he must've met her before, and... "I'm sorry," Clark says. "I should have noticed."

"You're not the only one who's missed the clues by a long road, Clark," she says, typing something short and leaning back. "And I recommend talking about something else."

It feels less like a recommendation than an order, really, but, well, it's not like there aren't other things he could ask. "What are you and Tim doing?"

"Mm. Something of a continuing project of mine, actually. I take information about various heroes and villains of my acquaintance and use it -- with certain technology your older self shared with me a few years ago -- to program avatars to be used for training."

"I... I know a lot about computers?"

"Begin," Barbara says into the microphone, and, after a moment, the entire room is washed in pale green light, strobing and flashing -- all but three of the monitors have been taken over by a green sketch of a small human figure currently in the process of fighting... nothing. Shadows?

It's very quick, and seems less graceful than measured and precise. Every several seconds, red text scrolls down the right sides of the monitors. The figure tucks down, rolls, and comes up punching -- kicking -- spinning and dropping, moving, striking out more and *faster* -- "Who... is he fighting... avatars?"

"At the moment, he's fighting his own imagination," Barbara says, and lets her head fall to the side. "At a guess, he's currently in the process of brutalizing, hm... a gang. Ten subjects, Tim?"

"Nine," and Tim's voice is very flat and calm. "Three have martial arts training."

"My mistake. And I was never sure how... comfortable with computers you really were, Clark, beyond knowing that you had... access to one of the most powerful systems on the planet."

"Really? Do you know where I got it?" It would have to be something to impress Oracle -- he knows that just by looking *around* -- though he guesses that technology probably advanced a whole heck of a lot since what he remembers from Smallville -- and the figure on the screen is moving a lot more tightly now, not leaving a space which must be only a couple of feet wide. The strikes are coming even faster, and the kicks are narrow, sharp and kind of brutal things. There's also less text showing up on the screen, for whatever reason --

"Hm." Barbara frowns and taps her short nails against the edge of a keyboard. "I've got all of this, Boy Wonder."

"But the Tenth Street Kings just sent in their heavy hitters. I'm --" A brief grunt -- "surrounded," Tim says, and it sounds like he *should* be laughing.

"Whoops. They've all just mutated into... oh, let's say carnivorous tentacle beasts. Short ones."

And then the figure on the screen is leaping up into something like a backflip -- no, it ends with him rolling, and then springing back up to his feet, flinging his arm out -- throwing something? Clark can't be sure. Even though it's *not* too fast for him to watch, it's all very *new*. He's never seen anyone fight that way before, or -- he guesses that he *has*, but he can't seem to remember anything like it. And there's more text scrolling now... hm. "The text on the screen -- it's measuring what Tim's doing against... some sort of baseline?"

"Got it in one," Barbara says, and Clark can see a smile tugging at one corner of her mouth. "Tim's the only one of us who is actively in the process of growing stronger and faster --"

"Better, one would hope," Tim says, and the figure on the screen leaps into a split kick which makes Clark want to cross his legs.

"Some increases in speed and flexibility. Don't get cocky --"

"Perish the thought," Tim says, and the figure on the screen is holding some sort of staff, spinning and twisting it through strike after strike. Every one of the longer strokes makes text scroll -- hm.

"Has his reach increased since the last time you measured him, Barbara?"

"Yes. Very good," she says, and leans back in her chair. "I would guess he's grown about another half inch since August --"

"Clearly," Tim says, making his avatar quick-step across the monitor's field of view and ending with a very vicious-looking jab of the staff, "due to your nurture and care, Oracle."

Barbara smiles quite widely and -- presses a button. The monitors blink over to showing Tim -- not just a figure -- sweeping the staff down low --

And Bruce jumps over it easily, landing in what looks like a ready-stance.

"Oh," Clark says, standing up helplessly and reaching --

And then it *is* almost too fast to watch -- no. He wishes it were too fast. Tim doesn't seem to have missed a step between fighting shadows and fighting "Bruce," but "Bruce" is powerful and fast and seems just as huge and solid as the real thing. Solid enough to send Tim flying backwards after an abortive attack --

Tim tucks, spins in the air, and lands perfectly, but then *Bruce* is attacking, driving Tim back with every blow --

Tim's blocking, and every retreat seems at least as much measured as desperate, but Clark can't keep himself from tensing up, balling his hands into fists -- "How -- how real are the avatars, Barbara?"

"They wouldn't be any good for training if they couldn't pack a punch, Clark," she says, and starts spinning her chair back and forth.

Oh. "But -- couldn't Tim be hurt?"

Barbara shrugs. "Not if he remembers all of his lessons like a good boy. Well. Not *much*."

That isn't very comforting at all, and -- on-screen, Bruce is backing Tim into a corner -- no. Tim manages to land a blow with the staff that makes Bruce miss a step, and then Tim is leaping over a jab --

Mostly over. This time, Tim's mid-air spin is too fast, too uncontrolled, and Tim lands on his toes *and* the fingers of one hand --

And then Tim's up again, using the staff to keep as much distance between himself and Bruce as he can --

The staff gets yanked away, tossed --

Barbara leans forward --

Tim is blocking steadily, fast and precise, but it's clear that he's getting slower. Is he hurt? He -- all of those blows *look* like they must hurt, even though Bruce, here, is just a computer program --

"Time," Tim says, and Barbara hits another button. Bruce stops, steps back, bows, and disappears.

The text appears on the monitors again, scrolling fast for a moment before stopping --

Tim blows out a breath. "Twenty seconds longer than the last time?"

"Twenty-two," Barbara says, and types something that makes two of the monitors switch to a view of the green sketch of Tim, labeled with various blinking numbers and codes and the third to Tim himself, smiling against the room's grid. "But it only counts if you called time soon enough to keep yourself street-ready for tonight."

"Tomorrow night -- I'm off. But yes, I did," Tim says, folding his staff back into something which looks small and innocuous and smiling ruefully at -- a camera. "You know I never... take Bruce lightly."

"Hm. Come out here. I want to see your arms."

Tim salutes, tucks the staff in a back pocket, and then he's stepping through a door so neatly cut into the wall that it was almost invisible before it opened. His scent is sharp with sweat and that same small *something* which Clark knows means pain -- more of it than when he'd gotten burned. He smiles at Clark and strips off the strange gloves, flexing his hands and shaking them out before offering them to Barbara.

She strokes and presses her way up Tim's forearms, not avoiding the bandage, and Clark feels himself wincing when Tim does. He keeps himself from pushing Barbara's hands away. He knows that she's just examining Tim, and -- anyway, it's not that he could help, but -- he keeps himself from doing it.

He shoves his hands in the pockets of the jeans he's wearing, instead, and tries not to look like he's staring.

After a few really long-seeming seconds, Barbara stops and lets Tim go, and Clark can breathe a little more easily --

Barbara frowns slightly. "Is something wrong, Clark?"

"What? Oh, I..." Tim's looking at him, one eyebrow slightly raised as he keeps flexing his hands into small, brutal-looking fists. Clark bites his lip. "That was very -- intense. I mean --"

"Certainly, I'll feel it for a few days," Tim says, and tilts his head to the side. "You have no memories of watching us -- any of us -- spar."

Clark shakes his head. Even when he tries, there are no thoughts or images to call on. He's not sure if he really *likes* the idea of his friends doing that to each other, much less doing to each other as a matter of course -- had he ever really thought about *all* the things they had to do for training?


Tim is looking at him like the head-shake hadn't really been enough of an answer, and Barbara... Barbara just looks really *curious*. She's resting one arm along the back of her wheelchair, and Clark feels... really on the spot.

Really a lot.

"Um -- I just." He's blushing again, and -- he takes a breath. "It was just really hard to watch, that's all. I mean, it was exciting, and you looked really... you're so *skilled*, Tim, and I..." Clark gives up and gestures toward Tim's arms. "You're going to have bruises. I can tell by the way your skin looks -- um."

"Here, too," Tim says, reaching back to pat a place just above where his kidneys would be --

And Clark can see his skin there, too --

And then he can see the muscle, and the way the blood is moving in the wrong ways, *settling* -- Clark closes his eyes and covers his face.

"Clark --"

"Just -- um. The X-ray vision," Clark says. "It's okay. I think I can get it to stop if I just... blink. A lot." He can see his own bones, and beyond them, and deep into the machinery of the monitors -- and then just his hands. And when he moves them away from his face, both Barbara and Tim are still looking at him, though Tim's expression has become...

He honestly isn't sure. It isn't the same I'm-studying-you look as before, but Clark can't really say for sure that he isn't still being studied. Barbara looks like she's taking notes.

"The mechanism is a blink?"

Clark puts his hands back in his pockets. "I... don't think so? It feels more like blinking lets me control something... else. In my brain. I'm not sure. I don't -- do I do anything *useful* with this power?"

"Quite often," Barbara says, and looks to Tim, who is nodding.

"You've helped thousands with it, Clark. Imagine being able to look through the results of a cave-in to see *exactly* where miners are trapped, or being able to see precisely what violent criminals are doing just beyond a wall..." Tim waves a hand. "You *will* gain control of it."

He sounds so sure, and -- Clark guesses he has reason to, but -- "Does Conner -- Kon. Does he have these powers, too? And Kara?"

Tim looks at Barbara, who nods *slowly* --"

"You can't -- you're not thinking of not telling me, are you? I mean, Dick told me about them, and I'm not... I don't think it's *dangerous* --"

"Mostly, I was wondering if Barbara wanted to field that question," Tim says, raising his hands and his eyebrows at once. "I'm not interested in making life difficult for you at the moment, Clark."

Clark frowns. Everything he can sense is telling him that's sincere, but --

"You have to understand," Barbara says, and turns her chair to face him. "We are -- all of us -- in the business of secrets. It can be somewhat... disconcerting to operate as though it were otherwise."

And that makes sense, too. Clark closes his hands into fists -- and opens them when both Tim and Barbara tense. "Sorry, I -- sorry," Clark says, and looks at the floor for a moment. "I'm just... really *very* tired of being treated like --"

"A potential temporal anomaly...?" Tim's smile is very sharp, and -- attention-grabbing. "We really can't know, for sure, that you're not going to wind up in the past with too much information than is remotely healthy for the fate of the universe."

That's -- that's *terrible*, but -- "Tim, no, I have all of those memories. You *know* I do, and -- I wouldn't have them if I was just from the past, right?"

Tim spreads his hands. "While all of us have some degree of experience with... glitches in the space-time continuum, there's still quite a bit we simply don't understand -- *can't* understand. Who's to say that the universe isn't simply somehow trying to make you *fit* here as well as you can?

"Who's to say you're *not* simply picking up especially powerful echoes of events and people who've affected the universe powerfully?"

"You..." Clark starts to wrap his arms around his chest. "You sound like a really *scary* science-fiction novel, Tim."

"It's my job -- part of my job -- to come up with these sorts of possibilities and to do my best to inoculate the world against them. I... I'm sorry, Clark, but I think it would be too much to ask us -- any of us -- to stop worrying about this sort of thing at least until we're out of the seventy-two hour window."

The length of time it will take to be sure he hadn't just -- "just" -- been affected by a kind of Kryptonite that he hadn't even *known* about, and... for a minute it all feels unfair, again. *Too* unfair. All he wants is to live his life, and help people as much as he can, but even here, like this, with people who care about him... "I hate the idea that I can be... that I'm dangerous."

Barbara's expression is serious and somehow quiet. Tim's -- Tim's expression seems a little sad, and --

"We can tell you about the others. And -- if you do wind up going back in time, it will be --"

"Another secret I have to keep, maybe even a little from myself?"

Tim frowns and nods. "I know you're familiar with that sort of thing. Too familiar, in some respects."

For some reason, that makes Barbara look very *sharply* at Tim, but -- he gets to know something *more*, and Clark can't really make himself focus on anything else. "Oh -- I'd be very grateful --"

"Why don't the two of you head up to the roof," Barbara says, and she's still looking at Tim, but now there's a small smile on her face that seems... loving. Friendly.

It's a reminder that, no matter how *weird* things got last night, he's still staying with a *family*, with people who care about each other, and are concerned for each other, and mostly don't deliberately do or say things that are hurtful or... strange. It's enough to *make* Clark focus a little more, to watch the way Tim returns Barbara's smile with one of his own --

"That's an idea, but... done with me so soon?"

"Oh, I'll never be *done* with you, Boy Wonder," Barbara says, and that sounded almost like *flirtation*.

It makes Tim's smile a little wider -- "Good to know. And I was thinking Clark and I might leave the city for a few hours."

Oh -- "Really?"

Barbara raises an eyebrow --

"Not far," Tim says. "It occurred to me that Clark might appreciate a little... nature."

"The sky is so *small* here," Clark says before he can stop himself. "I mean -- um. I know that's an east coast sort of thing, but... maybe more trees?"

"I *could* suggest a trip to the park at this juncture," Barbara says, sighing and turning her chair back to the computers. "But I trust you both to remember your responsibilities."

That sounded like something between a question and an *order*, but Tim only nods and rests a hand, for a moment, on Barbara's shoulder. And then he turns to Clark and smiles.

Without his mask...

Without his mask and *with* that smile, Tim finally looks like he's Clark's age, almost like a normal teenager, unless you look really closely at his hands, or at the way he moves -- when he moves close --

"Okay, Clark?"

"Oh -- yes! Thank you! And thank you, too, Barbara. It was really nice meeting you."

"Likewise," she says, putting on a headset and -- not turning again. Everything about her body language says she's *working* now, and -- well. She's Oracle. Maybe she'll be handling communications for the League again, or something else staggeringly important.

And Tim is still smiling at him. It's such a small smile to be so affecting... maybe it's *because* it's a small smile. Tim's lines are all on his forehead, with nothing marking his cheeks for a propensity to smile *or* frown. Clark catches himself reaching out for it --

Tim looks at Clark's hand and raises his eyebrow again, and -- oh. Yes. Clark blushes. "Sorry. Um. Lead the way?"

Tim's smile *shifts*, becoming briefly sharper and -- a part of Clark insists -- more *interesting* --

And then he's turning away and moving through Barbara's apartment. Clark takes a breath and follows.

They take the elevator down below ground level -- Tim opens a hidden panel and punches in a code -- and... they're in a garage. There are a few vehicles, but Tim takes them to a motorcycle -- Robin red. He's *seen* motorcycles on television, of course, and also in the Cave, but never really one up *close* like this.

It looks almost more like some kind of animal than a machine, something dangerous and... very, very cool.

"Like the bike...?"

And the smile in Tim's voice seems a little sharper than the one on his face, but only until Clark looks into his eyes. "Oh, it's really -- it's really *awesome*, Tim. You -- I've never ridden on a motorcycle before."

"I don't anticipate doing anything particularly fancy. You just focus on holding on and leaning how I do, when I do."

That doesn't sound too complicated and -- *he* can't be hurt too badly from doing this. He just has to make sure he doesn't do anything to cause Tim to have an accident. Clark nods and takes the helmet, waits for Tim to get on, and then settles himself behind.

It's -- snug, and --

"This bike isn't technically designed for company much larger than myself, but it should be fine."

"Oh -- okay. *Have* you ever ridden with a passenger?"

Tim puts his own helmet on. "Mostly I've *been* the passenger," he says, and there's an echo -- there's a radio in the helmet. A great idea, really. Tim must have already switched Clark's on.

"I think -- I can probably hear you even when you're driving, Tim."

"But I won't be able to hear *you*," and the bike starts with a sound somewhere between a growl and thick fabric being torn. It *thrums* between Clark's legs --

"Oh, wow, it's already so... I don't know."

Tim hums a little and it feels like a laugh -- "Just wait."

And the ride...

Well, Clark is reasonably sure that Tim isn't breaking any laws, but the way he drives --

Clark is a little frightened by the thought of how Tim would define 'fancy,' since this apparently perfectly normal ride involves Tim expertly weaving through traffic at speed, leaning and *moving* and generally seeming to treat the bike like an extension of his own body.

Clark feels *very* extraneous and -- exhilarated. It's not as fast as he can *run*, of course, but the way the engine thrums and growls, the way the world passes by *just* slow enough for Clark to be able to easily pick out details of the cars, the faces, the buildings --

"This is *wonderful*, Tim!"

"There aren't very many things I love more," and Tim picks up speed once they reach the highway. There are fewer things to see, but Clark can *feel* so much. The wind, of course, and the engine, but also Tim. The moments of tension as he prepares himself to move for a turn, but also just Tim's body, lean and hard against Clark's own --

He wants to tell Tim that he likes him, again, and knowing that it would sound extremely *silly* isn't enough to convince a part of him that he *shouldn't* say it. Tim had *brought* two helmets, just as if --  oh, but he can *ask* --

"Did you *mean* to take me for a ride, today?"

"Hmm. One day, you're going to be able to fly, and you'll think absolutely nothing of offering flights to people like *me*, because you're just that generous. That *open*," and Tim's tone is almost fervent, serious under the simple enjoyment of this that Clark thinks he can feel all over his *skin* --

"Oh, I -- and it's like that? You wanted to...?"

"Right now... I was thinking you might appreciate the feel of it, yes. And I... I told Oracle that you might appreciate a little freedom, earlier," Tim says, and it sounds like there's something else he wanted to say, or maybe something to add to the rest.

"All right. I -- I really appreciate it, Tim. It feels -- well, I can't imagine that flying would feel much different, but. Have I ever taken *you* flying?"

"Unfortunately, no. There's never been... heh. I really can't imagine ever feeling as though I could simply call you and say, 'hey, Clark, take me for a spin around the sky?'"

"But you *could*. I would love to -- I mean, I can't now, but maybe when I'm back to... to what you all think of as normal?"

"I... you're really very busy much of the time, Clark."

That makes sense, he guesses, but -- "So are *you*. There have to be times when we're both not doing anything, and... we could hang out! More, I mean. And... Dick's your *brother*, and we could all do something together. I think -- I mean, would you like that?"

"Yes, I... really would."

"Then -- then *okay*. Right?"

Tim shifts -- there's no turn coming up that Clark can see. He's just shifting, a little. Moving his body against Clark's own. Oh.

"Oh, that feels. Um."

"Sorry, Clark, I. I'm used to... communicating with Dick, this way. Ah -- yes. We can all hang out sometime, if we can get the scheduling to work." Tim sounds flustered, and --

Communicating with Dick -- Dick is very physical, and probably would do all sorts of dangerous things with his body if he had Tim pressed against him -- oh, that's... that's really. Clark feels himself blushing and -- he *can't* pull away. Tim can feel --

Tim *has* to be able to feel Clark, even though he only has human senses. They're just too close for anything else, and -- maybe the jeans are thick enough that Tim can't tell? They're loose on him, and Tim has to concentrate on driving, and maybe --

But Tim *is* attracted to him. He knows it. He's almost *sure*. And he'd wanted to be alone with Clark, wanted to take him somewhere away from everyone else. Maybe he wants to... he *also* can't scoot any closer to Tim than he already is. And Tim hadn't been lying when he said he talked to Dick with his body, and this could all just be... a lot more innocent than the thoughts in Clark's head. Clark clears his throat --

"All right?"

"Oh, yes. I was just -- where are we going?"

"A park, actually," and Tim sounds like he's smiling. "I've never been, but the website had some nice-looking pictures. Lots of pines. Birds, deer. The occasional black bear. I know *forest* isn't exactly like home for you, either, but..."

"It sounds wonderful. Quiet. I always like to... well, I like to be surrounded by living things. *Growing* things."

"Understandable. Though I have to admit that I tend to get... restless in those sorts of surroundings."

"The Robin is an urban animal... I *think* I remember Dick saying that once. Though it might have been Jason. I don't really... I think I only got to meet him once."

"Once can seem like quite a lot," Tim says, quietly, and -- oh.

Clark winces. "I'm sorry. I'd forgotten that you never got to meet him."

"It's all right, Clark. I have... I think I have a good picture of him from the memories my family has shared over the years. Perhaps when you're back to normal you could tell me yours."

"Of course! But -- I was going to say that you should have more than a picture. He was..." What? He should *know*, but all he has is the image of a sharp smile, and a much clearer image of moisture slipping out from beneath Bruce's cowl in the moments before he wiped it away... "I know how important he was," he finishes lamely, and wants to move away again.

At least he's not thinking about sex, anymore.

They spend the rest of the ride in a silence that's mostly comfortable, especially when Tim takes an exit off the highway and starts *tearing* down back roads that wouldn't look out of place near Smallville. Well, nearer to Kansas City than to Smallville, but still.

There are trees, and Clark can smell green, growing things, and wild creatures. They're driving *through* the park, or at least a part of it, and Clark has a fleeting moment to worry about what would happen if a deer stepped onto the road before Tim's slowing down.

It feels almost like they're landing instead of just slowing down, and Clark promises himself that one of the *first* things he'll do when he's an adult again is to take Tim into the sky. He'll fly as fast as Tim wants, or as slow, and --

Tim stops the bike in a small wide spot in the paved path. A parking lot. It's quiet and very dim, here, and a bird calls out as he pulls off his helmet. Clark steps off the bike and takes a *deep* breath.

He almost can't smell the highway from here. Clark smiles. "How big is this park?"

Tim stows the helmets and waves a hand. "Not too big as state parks go, but we could definitely get a good walk in, if you wanted to."

Clark thinks he's probably grinning like a *idiot* -- a smile like to split his *face*, as his Pa would say -- but Tim only smiles back and nods, and --

He can feel himself relaxing as he walks. The paths here are well-worn, but they're narrow enough that Clark can brush against *something* living with almost every step -- mostly Tim. Tim doesn't say anything, and Clark really can't tell if he's enjoying himself or not.

He *seems* really relaxed, and there's the smallest possible smile curving at the corner of Tim's mouth, but he could just be happy that Clark is happy, which definitely seems like something Tim would be. And that... hm. "Would you tell me what sorts of things *you* like to do for fun?"

Tim's smile gets wider, though it looks private. "Other than ride motorcycles and play with Oracle's equipment?"

"That was... that was fun for you, today?"

Tim gives him a curious look. "Of course. Did I seem... uncomfortable?"

"Well... no, actually. Now that I think about it. It's just that you seemed to be working very hard."

"On the *street* I'm working very hard. I have no control over what I see, and very little control over what I have to do. In the playroom --"

"You call it a *playroom*?"

Tim laughs, softly, and ducks under a low-hanging branch. "*I* do. Sometimes Barbara does, too. Anyway, in the playroom I have the opportunity to try anything and everything, and I never have to worry about hurting someone else too badly -- or getting very badly hurt, myself."

"It looked like... those hits the Bruce avatar was giving you..." Clark frowns. "You're going to *bruise*."

"I get new bruises and cuts and everything else every night I'm out there. At least, for this, I'm learning new things and getting to do those things for *fun*. And, of course, I'm also improving the accuracy of the program."

"That still sounds more like work than *fun*, Tim."

"What can be better than enjoyment which also provides the satisfaction of an important duty well performed?"

And Clark really wants to frown more for that -- *he'd* just talked about dances and running really fast and playing with the barn cats and things like that. But... "You're very serious."

"Hmm. I prefer to think of myself as being wired to enjoy things other people don't. I'm hardly... ah. Grim."

"Well, no, but..." Oh. He was hoping... oh.


"Oh, nothing, it's not -- tell me more about things you enjoy?" And he knows it's not going to work before he's even finished *talking* --

Tim stops, and rests his hand on Clark's arm. "Tell me?"

"It's not important or -- bad or anything. I just got a little --"

"Please, Clark. We should..." Tim smiles ruefully. "We should be friends. And we're working on that right now. Aren't we?"

Clark -- can't help but smile. "Okay. But it's embarrassing."

"I won't laugh," Tim says, and it sounds like a promise.

So *much* like a promise... "I guess I was hoping you'd say you enjoyed doing things... things we could do together," Clark says, and looks down at where Tim's hand is on his arm...

Tim doesn't pull away. And when Clark looks up... Tim is smiling at him. "Like walking in the woods together?"

*Yes* -- but. "You said this sort of thing made you restless."

Tim squeezes Clark's forearm and lets go. "I admit that too much time in a place like this will have me wondering if I'm about to be attacked by something large, hairy and decidedly non-native-to-Gotham, but... I'm enjoying myself."


"It's a warm day, there's no one screaming nearby, and I'm with someone who is enjoying... being with me."

"Oh, I -- I really am," Clark says, and reaches for Tim's hand. So small and hard, so *talented* -- 

"I'm glad," and Tim lifts his other arm -- checks his watch. "And we should have company pretty soon."

"Um. Company?"

Tim's smile is sly. "I did have other reasons for wanting us to be out of the city. And you have questions that really should be answered."

Questions, yes, and he'd almost forgotten. Someone is going to come who can *answer* his questions, and it's wonderful that Tim had set that up, but... he was enjoying just spending time like this. Ma has never called *him* woodenheaded, but he feels that way just the same. Tim is giving him what he *wants* --

"Clark, what's wrong?"

Clark squeezes Tim's hand. "It really *is* nothing, this time. Do you think... how much time do you think we have, today?"

Tim looks -- openly -- suspicious, but he nods after a moment. "I give us another two hours out here before we have to start heading back to Gotham."

Two hours really isn't a lot, but... Bruce.


He can do a lot in two hours, if he can just figure out *how* -- and there's a strange sound in the sky. It's not at all like a plane, but it seems to be moving very fast.

"I think you hear our guest."

Oh. In the *sky*. "They're flying in?"

Tim nods. "And only about five minutes late. Impressive, really."

It takes Tim another two minutes before *he* can hear the approach, and then -- oh. There's a boy in the sky, wearing the same clothes Clark is. Kon-El. Conner.

"Dude, you seriously made me fly out here *twice* today *and* you made me track you through the damned woods. Do you know how *much* you owe me?"

Tim smiles for him and slips his hand away from Clark's. "I'm sure you'll tell me. Kon, meet Clark Kent."

"Clark -- whuh. Dude, *what*?"

The boy is the same height he is, but bigger through the chest and thighs. His hair is cut *very* short, and his eyes -- his eyes are different. Closer to Tim's than his own, and -- they really are just staring at each other. Clark rubs his hands on his jeans -- Kon's jeans. He swallows --

"Dude, no *way*. You look just like -- I've seen *pictures*. What the *hell*, Tim?"

And the boy isn't looking at him, anymore.

Tim spreads his hands. "The current theory is a run-in with red Kryptonite. He doesn't remember where he was when it happened."

"Well, *shit*," the boy -- Kon says, and turns back to him. "You -- um. Are you okay? Bats treating you all right?"

Clark nods and -- blushes really a lot. "I'm... um. They say I'm your... mentor?"

"Mentor. Well... kinda, I guess. I'm supposed to grow *into* you --"

Tim coughs, and Kon rolls his eyes --

"I'm supposed to grow into myself," he says in a sing-song tone. "Nobody is expecting me to be someone I'm not. Except for *everybody* --"

"Kon," Tim says, and his voice is *hard* --

And Kon turns to glare at Tim a little, but -- "Fine, yes, I *hear* you, sir, Robbie, *sir*. Can we get back to where Clark's suddenly *my* age? Though -- wow, that high alert thing Starfire passed on suddenly makes a lot more sense."

"The League has been as on top of this as they could be pretty much from the jump," Tim says, "but there isn't much they could do other than run some tests."

Some very *unpleasant* tests -- Clark rubs his arms and focuses on Kon. He looks like a football player, like one of those kids who've never had an awkward moment in their *lives*. And -- he's a superhero. No one stops him from using his powers, or -- anything.

And Kon is looking at Clark like he's horrified --

"So, you're just kind of... a kid?"

Clark nods.

Kon blinks rapidly and scrubs a hand back over his hair. "I... wow. I don't really know how I can *help* you. I mean, I always -- you've always been *you*, man, the guy with all the answers..."

Answers. *That* would be nice. But. "Do I... help? You?"

Kon looks away for a moment. "You -- do your best."

That didn't sound like 'yes.' Clark frowns and tries to imagine what he could've done... not done?

"And I'm really grateful, and you let me crash with your parents, which was really cool, but... um. I always kinda thought that you didn't... ah. I was kind of a *surprise* for you." Kon shoves his hands in his pockets and looks at the ground. He doesn't seem so confident, anymore.

And that... Clark thinks about how he'd reacted when Dick had told him about Kon and Kara, and how he'd been really... Clark frowns harder. He was an *adult* when Kon was... created. Surely he'd been able to react better than *that*. Hadn't he?

Why isn't Kon in his *memories*?

Tim looks at Clark and raises an eyebrow. Oh, yes -- "I had. I had questions. About you, and the powers we... share?"

"Oh, man... *that* makes sense. This has all gotta be kinda new for you, now," and Kon shakes his head and blows out a breath. "Okay. You *don't* have the TTK -- that's tactile telekinesis, but --"

"Doesn't... um. Doesn't telekinesis mean you don't *have* to have... anything tactile?"

Kon frowns at him.

Tim coughs again -- no, that was a laugh. And Kon is blushing now, too --

"*Anyway*, the TTK is all mine -- and *very* cool, and if Tim coughs one more time I'll demonstrate it on *him* -- but, well, there's the strength, and the speed..." Kon raises his eyebrows.

Clark nods. "I'm -- I've gotten used to those. But there always seems to be... more."

Kon grins. "Great, isn't it? It's that yellow sun. It just feeds us and feeds us and *feeds* us --"

"The sun? I -- I *thought* there was something about the sun, but I wasn't sure --"

"Man, the Bats didn't tell you *anything*, did they? Figures," Kon says, and wraps an arm around Clark's shoulders. "Look, the *first* thing you've gotta know -- are you listening?"

Clark looks at Tim, but Tim has settled into a crouch by a tree, and doesn't appear to be paying any attention, at all --

"*Don't* mind him. He will totally speak up when I screw up or something -- that's just the way he *is*. Anyway, I was saying -- the first thing you gotta know -- Bats are always hiding *something*."

Clark frowns. "They did... Oracle said they live their lives that way."

"Twenty-four seven, dude," Kon says, and pats Clark's shoulder. "The other stuff... well, *you've* been helping me get control of the heat vision. Apparently, it's all about staying *clear* in your head and... with your emotions and stuff. Anyway, it doesn't kick in all that often, but it's pretty scary when it does."

Clear in his mind. Calm? That does and *doesn't* sound like the kind of control Tim was talking about before. The kind of... having *outlets*. Hm. "It doesn't... I mean. Doesn't it happen when you get... um..." Clark lifts his hand, but he has no idea *what* gesture he was going to make.

And Kon looks confused.

Clark sighs. "When you get really... aroused," he... 'mutters' is really the only word for it.

"Hunh. Clark said -- *you* said it *could* happen when I got horny, but so far, so good. Cassie'd be *pissed* if I set fire to her clothes some time when we were on a date. But... man. Has it been *every* time you popped wood? 'Cause that would *suck*."

Popped... Kon isn't blushing, anymore, but Clark's wondering if blushing too hard can set it off --

"Hey, you're all red. Are you okay?" And Kon squeezes Clark's shoulder.

"Oh, I'm... just. You're very *direct*."

Kon grins. "That's me. I save the so-subtle-you-can't-even-*see*-it stuff for Rob over there."

And Tim has a very small smile on his face when Clark checks --

"Hey, I know I said all Bats are crazy secretive and *annoying*, but that doesn't mean you can't trust Tim with anything -- and I do mean *anything*. Uh -- yeah. He's really cool."

"I... I noticed. I. I like him a lot."

Kon sort of *rocks* him back and forth before letting him go and clapping him on the back -- hard enough that it feels... well, like being clapped on the back. Kon's strong, like *him*.

Clark grins --

"You've already got good taste, then. Tim will take care of you, no matter *what*."

This time, when he looks, Tim is actually blushing, a little. Kon doesn't seem to notice, however, and he's -- flying up, hovering just a few feet above the ground. "Wow. Would you tell me what that feels like?"

"Flying? I -- I've been doing it my whole life. Which, since I was decanted at sixteen, means you probably won't have to wait too long before it starts happening for you. I don't know if I *can* describe it. It's... I don't know. Kind of like who I *am*," Kon says, and flies up *fast*, looping around in midair before coming back down. "Wanna try it out?"

Has he flown with Tim? He must have -- it seems like they're very close -- and Clark... he isn't sure if he feels jealous or just *excited* --

"You really should," Tim says, quietly, and dances a small stone over his knuckles.

"I'm not..." Too big, which is obvious and *stupid*. Of course he isn't -- Kon is as strong as he is -- probably stronger, since he's older, and the sun... *why* does the sun's color make a difference? But --

"Dude, yeah, come on. Do you have any idea how awesome it would be to give *you* your first flight?"

Mentor. Or -- whatever he is to Kon. Clark smiles. "How do you want me?"

And Kon immediately slips behind Clark, grabs him by the obliques --

Oh. Just --

Oh. They're going so fast it feels like the wind will rip him right out of Kon's hands, flying up and up and *up* --

"Just tell me if it's too much," Kon says, and he's not shouting, because he knows Clark can *hear* him, and --

Everything's so *small* down there, like that one time he'd been on a plane, only completely different. He can look all around, and there's no plastic in the way -- "This is *incredible*!"

"I know, right? Man, I have no idea how often *you* fly around just to blow off steam and have fun, but I do it as much as I *can*," Kon says, and flies them higher still -- into a *cloud*.

"I -- I *must* do it a lot. I like -- it feels --" Clark shakes his head and tries to see more than mist that looks faintly grey, feels cold and *wet*, but looks --

It seems like he should be able to catch it in his hands, shape it, or --

And Kon flies them out again -- flies them *fast*, until it seems like the wind is *battering* him, and Clark realizes that Kon can fly faster than *he* can run, which is just --

Clark whoops because he has to, pushes his arms out straight to pretend *he's* flying them --

Kon laughs and flies them the directions Clark points, and that means that he has to go faster, pick wilder shifts and changes --

Clark whoops again and laughs with Kon, pushing his arms out straight again --

Kon squeezes his obliques. "Faster?"



And now the wind almost seems like a solid thing, something he could break with his body --

He can't stop *smiling* --

They fly through another cloud, and another, and --

Now it's too fast to be sure of anything but *movement*, of *flight*, and nothing could ever be this good, nothing could ever --

Oh, he almost doesn't *ever* want to leave the sky, but he can hear Kon's breathing start to change. It's only a little bit -- Kon must have *incredible* stamina -- but it's still a reminder.

"Maybe we should land again...?"

"Oh, hey, no, man, I can totally keep going! Here, wait just a sec..."

It feels so *good*, and Kon's touch is weirdly light -- and then it doesn't seem to be there at *all*. It's just Kon's fingertips, and *something* --

Oh, it must be Kon's *power*! Clark whoops *again* and pretends to jet through the air with one knee bent, flying circles and loops --

"Kon, you're *amazing*!"

"Aw, man, Clark, I'm just..." Then there's something squeezing Clark, a tight but comfortable band around his chest, holding him steady and still -- "One more thing and *then* we'll land."

"Okay -- *oh* --"

They're flying in a tightening spiral, faster and faster until it almost seems as though Clark should be able to see the blur of himself --

And then they're *spinning* in the air like some strange tornado, whipping the clouds around them --

Kon flies them *up*, once more, and when Clark looks down, the cloud itself is a spiral in the air, rough and rapidly dissipating/reforming into something that seems more solid --

Oh, Tim should be able to see that from the ground! "Kon, that's *beautiful*."

The strange band of nothing squeezes Clark again -- "Aw, man, you're *easy*. You should see what I made for Batgirl when she came to see me out in Smallville that one time."

There's a part of him which wants to be jealous -- Kon knows Tim *and* Batgirl, and... well, who else? But -- "I don't -- I don't think I know her."

"Oh, you *gotta* meet her, or at least see her in action," Kon says, and starts flying them down. "Tim is a freaky little *ninja*, but she's somethin' *else*. Plus? Total hottie."

Has Kon had sex? He must have. He seems so *comfortable* with it. So unashamed and... easy, while Clark just gets more and more confused. And hungry. That, too. "Everything... you make things look so easy," Clark says, and tries to keep his doubts out of his voice --

"Easy?" Kon barks a laugh and flies them in a slow loop. "Some things are. I mean... some things are just *there*, and you kinda have to go with them. Like these crazy senses. Every time I look around I can *smell* something else, and let me tell you --"

"It's not always pleasant. I know. I -- your senses haven't always been strong?"

"They were pretty good right out of the tube, but not like yours. Tim thinks they'll probably get to your level as I get older, but... I'm not really sure I want that. *You* can hear things all the way on the other side of the world."

Clark blinks and tries to imagine that, tries to -- he's used his hearing to help people as far away as in other *states*, but... the whole *world*? Dick had said the world needed him to be who he was. What... what is he missing right *now*?

"Hey, you okay? You know, you shouldn't worry that the world will fall apart while you're stuck as a teenager. The alert went out from the League -- everybody's stepping up and staying pretty focused. We'll be okay, and *you'll* be okay soon enough."

Is he that transparent? Or does Kon know him that well? They're landing in a clearing that doesn't look the same as the one they'd left -- oh, Tim's in one of the trees, smiling at... both of them? "Kon, are we friends?"

"Uh... you mean 'we' like the two of *us*? You're kind of... well, you're a *lot* older than I am, you know," and Kon sets Clark on his feet and -- flies up a few feet.

"I think... I don't think that should matter. Because you're really great, and -- and I was friends with Nightwing when he was Robin, and... um." Pockets are good. Pockets in pants that are loose enough not to rip are even better and -- he uses them.

"You... uh. Want to be buds? With me?"

Clark looks up from under his hair -- maybe he should get his cut like Kon's? He looks up and Kon's looking down at him. He looks surprised, but not... upset or anything like that. He looks *pleased*. "If you -- yes. If you wanted."

Kon's smile is bright and wide. "Hey, that's -- that's *really* cool," he says, and lands again, and punches Clark's shoulder.

It's just a little hit, but it knocks Clark back a little -- someone as strong as he is! And -- Clark grins back at Kon and punches *his* shoulder --

"Awesome! So, uh... did you have any other questions? Best places to use your X-ray vision so as to maximize viewing *potential*?"

Oh, he'd almost *forgotten* -- viewing potential. That's -- Clark blushes and looks down again --

"Hey, you've got the power, everyone *knows* you've got the power -- you totally might as well use it."

"That sounds like the introduction to a very interesting discussion with Wonder Girl, Kon," Tim says, and -- he's still in the tree, watching both of them with a smile on his face.

He looks so still, so comfortable, and -- 

"Dude, the freaky *freakshow* who bugged the damned Tower six ways from Sunday does *not* get to tell me who I can and can't watch with my brand spanking new superpower."

"Kon. Those bugs are for our safety. I only supplemented Cyborg's own."

"Supplemented my *ass*. How am I supposed to get in a decent prank if the whole place is wired? Did you even *once* think of that?"

The anger in Kon's voice is absolutely exaggerated, obvious even without the smile that he's trying and failing to hide --

"I might have just been thinking about documenting your... works. For posterity, even," Tim says, and nods at Clark. "Do you have any advice about controlling the X-ray vision for Clark...?"

"What? Oh, heh." Kon turns back to face him, and the smile now looks a little... sheepish. "I'm not really sure if you *knew* my X-ray vision was coming in, Clark. We hadn't talked about it."

Clark frowns. "But..." But. Clearly, he hadn't spent nearly enough *time* with Kon, with this... had he just *ignored* him? What had he been thinking? Clark -- doesn't kick at the dirt. He *looks* at Kon, watches him waiting, eyebrows up and a look of almost helplessness on his face... "I'm sorry," Clark says, and reaches to take Kon's hand in his own.

It's not cool to the touch, at all. It's a little bigger than his hand, broader in the palm --

"I'm really -- I should've been better. More like... maybe more like how Batman is with his Robins."

Tim coughs. Kon looks at him like he's crazy --

Clark squeezes Kon's hand. "I mean it! Batman... Batman keeps a *close* eye on them, and helps them, and teaches them --"

"And makes them sneak into the damned woods just to see their best *friend*," Kon says, and squeezes Clark's hand back before letting go. "Look, it's great that you want to... um. Have a better relationship --"


"You don't have to use Batman's methods for that," Tim says, and slips down out of the tree. "What works in Gotham --"

"I'm *tired* of hearing that, Tim --"

"No, dude, seriously -- uh. I'd be kinda creeped out if you suddenly started watching my every move. By which I mean I'd be *really* creeped out," and Kon flies up again. "Just, you know, when we *do* see each other, we can... I don't know. Hang out?"

That sounds like... it sounds like what it is. Clark really, really wants to fight it -- it shouldn't be so -- but Bruce *doesn't* have everything perfect in terms of his relationship with his family. Dick had been so distant, so *cautious* in so many painful-looking ways, and Tim had felt like he had to deceive Bruce in order to do just *this* -- and Tim has his hand on Clark's forearm.

"You can do a lot just by spending more time with the people you care about, Clark."

That's... right. It doesn't feel like enough, but it's right, and Clark realizes --

He's afraid. He's. "I'm afraid I'll forget all this when I'm an adult again. That I'll just go back to... messing up. Not doing this right, or anything --"

"Dude, *Clark*," and Kon flies around Clark once before hovering in front of him, again -- "You have no idea how weird it is that you're smaller than I am -- uh, that's not what I was going to say. You do the right thing -- the *best* thing all the time. Just because we're not best buds doesn't mean you were doing something wrong. And -- um. All you said about the X-ray was that it was a focus thing. That if I feel it coming on when I didn't want it, I should deliberately kinda 'widen my field of view.' Which works. What you say *always* works, and -- we're okay. Okay?"

"But we have so much in common, Kon. We *should* be -- I should've been *desperate* to know you, and be with you, and just --"

Tim -- it's not a squeeze of his forearm so much as it's pressure applied to very specific points. It doesn't hurt, but it's very attention-grabbing --

"If you forget," Tim says, "I'll remind you."

A promise and a -- threat. Especially considering the smile that's on Tim's face right this moment --

"Dude, he totally will. *Look* at that eyebrow. That's the eyebrow of whup-ass."

Tim turns the eyebrow in question on Kon --

"No way, man, I have to get back to Smallville in time for dinner -- oh, hey, maybe I should take Clark...?"

Tim tightens his grip and the smile -- slips, a little. It makes Clark's skin feel interestingly tight and very, very warm. Possibly that's the blush. "Oh -- um. No. I think I should stay here, Kon."

"Yeah? It's chicken night, and you know -- wait, sorry, you're a vegetarian. I keep forgetting. Still, it's not like Ma won't make enough mashed potatoes to feed an army, especially if she knows there'll be a guest."

A guest. That's what he would be, for all intents and purposes. No matter how much -- no, that's not his home, now. He *has* a home, and... so does Kon. Clark smiles. "It's okay. They're feeding me pretty well over at... Batman's."

Kon -- looks at Tim and then looks back at Clark. Suspiciously.

"Really! Though Tim doesn't seem to eat much."

"Heh. Do you know I've seen him order a *single* scoop of ice cream? And not even finish it?"

"To be fair, Kon, we were interrupted by giant alien cockroaches --"

"*Not* the point," Kon says, and flies up a little higher. "Hey, you can *make* him eat more, Clark. That can *totally* be part of your mission."

Clark grins at Kon and then turns it on Tim, who has his eyebrow raised again. "Maybe we could go for a milkshake before we go back to the Cave."

"See, *that's* the idea. Don't look at Clark that way, dude, it's totally for your own good."

Tim looks up at Kon -- "Goodbye, Kon."

Kon... gestures "Heh. Enjoy the milkshake," Kon says, and flies up -- "Later, Clark!"


Clark listens to Kon fly away, and keeps listening until he has to strain to separate the sound from those of jets -- and, of course, all the sounds of the park and nearby highway. When he can't do it, anymore, he looks down -- Tim is still holding his forearm.

And is watching him with the slightest smile on his face and an openly curious look in his eyes. He pulls his hand back --

Clark catches it before he can think about stopping himself, and watches Tim look down at their hands and slowly -- so *slowly* -- look up again.


Clark opens his mouth to say -- something. And realizes that he hasn't taken a breath in a *while*. He does so, and swallows -- "How much time? Do we have?"

"A little less than an hour. I..." Tim's breathing isn't even. It's -- it's not *even*, and his cheeks color while Clark watches. And --

"I want to thank you. I -- you've been so nice to me, and you gave me something -- something *huge* --"

"To be honest, it was for Kon, as well --"

"No, I know --" Clark nods and squeezes Tim's hand carefully. "It was just... you didn't have to, and I know Bruce will probably be mad at you for not keeping me -- keeping me *quarantined*, but I'm really glad, and -- I'm glad."

This time, Tim's smile is almost soft -- and he strokes Clark's hand with his thumb. "I'm glad, too. It was... good to see the two of you having fun together. And that spiral you made... very nice."

Clark -- Clark thinks he's probably grinning like an idiot, and he *knows* he's too close -- he makes people too *warm* when he's this close, but --

Tim's breathing *hitches*, and he steps closer --


He strokes Clark's hand faster, and he's lifting his other hand, placing it on Clark's shoulder --

"Oh. Um. I really want --"

"Do it," Tim says --

And Clark doesn't think he's doing very well with this kiss at all. He knows he's not supposed to do it so hard he pushes the other person back, and he doesn't really know if Tim *wants* Clark's tongue in his mouth, and also his palms are sweaty, and that can't be pleasant against Tim's cheeks, his face --

He's so *small*, and he's *Robin*. He tastes so human, and the scent of him -- arousal. Clark moans and kisses Tim harder -- no, it's already too hard, he has to ease off a little, pull himself *back* --

Tim licks Clark's tongue, slow and -- *slow* and Clark forgets everything, just -- everything. He kisses Tim, and keeps kissing at the feel of Tim walking backwards -- oh, is he moving away?

He -- he *sucks* Clark's tongue --

Clark moans *again* and follows Tim, he's supposed to *follow* -- and then Tim's back is against a tree, and the smell of green things briefly overpowers everything else --

Until he pushes his hands into Tim's hair and Tim *bucks*, and his scent, oh -- "You smell so *good*," Clark says, and kisses Tim again, licks his mouth, licks his cheek until he can get to Tim's ear --

"Clark, I --"

"Oh -- please?"

Tim shivers, all over, and it makes Clark want to press closer, wrap himself *around* Tim -- he licks Tim's ear because it's there and Tim shivers *again* --

"Do you like that? Or -- should I..."

Tim laughs, softly, and strokes Clark's shoulders, down and over his back --

"Please, Tim, I've wanted -- you're very attractive, and I've been thinking -- the things Bruce *said* --"

Tim stiffens and turns his head, pulling back until they can look at each other's faces. "Bruce said...?"

Clark licks his lips. "I -- almost as soon as you left yesterday. He could tell... he could tell I was attracted to you, and he kept asking me these *questions*, like if I wanted to do... certain things with you. And when I realized I wanted you... um."

Tim... Tim looks like he *should* be wearing a mask. His expression is that far away, that *distant*, and --

Clark doesn't even know for sure if Tim *liked* the kisses with more than his body, and -- "Tim...? Was that... was that okay?"

Tim blinks, and smiles. "I really -- I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't been thinking of kissing you."

Clark feels himself relaxing and realizes that he'd stopped breathing again. "Oh. Well... good."

"Yes. I just -- hm. When he was asking you those questions and making those... comments."


"What were --" Tim blushes harder. "You were making love. At the time."

Clark nods.

"And he was... talking about me. Bruce was. Um. That's a little. I." Tim's heart is beating much faster now, almost *too* fast, and he looks... scared? Clark breathes deep --

Arousal, so much. But -- fear, too. "Tim, are you... I know you're... freaked-out? About something?"

Tim laughs again, and this time it's very sharp. He squeezes Clark's sides and -- lets go.

"Oh, don't -- I mean. Let go. If you want to. I just --"

"I'm sorry, Clark, that's just -- it's a little distracting. Do you think he *wants* the two of us to... um."

"Distracting... was a really good word for it. I mean, I was with Bruce, but he kept making me think of *you*, and I would've thought about you, anyway, but not then, and -- I don't know."

Tim nods, and he's very clearly thinking hard, lips pressed together in something that isn't quite a frown --

"Are you... I mean. I don't think it's *important*, Tim."

Tim looks at him again, eyes so *sharp* -- "What isn't important?"

"What -- what Bruce wants. For us, I mean. As opposed to what *we* want."

Tim's smile is small and kind of -- very -- old. "Spoken like someone who doesn't have to work with the man. I was -- he cares about you very much."

"He's my best friend, and Dick's my other best friend, and -- maybe *he* wants to be with you, too."

Tim makes a sound -- it's a little strangled, and Clark kind of has to -- stroke Tim's neck. Pet him a little bit --

He has a nasty scar on his throat --

"Clark --"

"Oh. Um. Sorry. You -- you're all right?"

Tim catches Clark's hands in his own and -- pulls them away from himself.

Clark frowns --

And Tim sets Clark's hands on his hips. "I'm fine. I'm just... ah. Images. Of Bruce and -- that. Wow. I never... um." If anything, Tim blushes even *harder*, his face getting alarmingly close to the color of his t-shirt.

Clark squeezes Tim's hips because he has to, and that's where Tim had put his *hands* --

"And that -- ah. You're very attractive, Clark. I mean, you were before -- truly -- but you also are right now, and I think --" Tim licks his lips, quick and apparently completely oblivious to how *good* that looks --

Clark squeezes again --

"I think I'm thinking about too many things. Right now. Ah -- kiss me again?"

Clark smiles and does it, and he probably didn't have to pull Tim's hips against himself, but he also really did --

Tim makes a *sound*, right into Clark's *mouth* --

Clark reminds himself not to squeeze Tim's hips too hard and kisses Tim over and over, catching his lip and sucking, licking, *tasting*, because Tim only barely tastes like coffee, because there's something *sweet* there, like Tim had eaten candy somewhere Clark couldn't see --

And the image of it almost *blooms* in his mind, something small and brightly-colored between Tim's fingers, his mouth opening, a smile --

"Oh, Tim, you're so -- I like you so *much* --"

"Clark, I..." Tim shakes his head and wraps his arms around Clark's neck, tilting his head back --

Another kiss. It has to be okay -- it *is* okay, because of the way Tim smells, the way he tastes and feels as he rocks his hips against Clark a little. Just -- oh. "I want -- could I. Lift you?"

"Yes," Tim says, and he's panting, searching Clark's eyes --

Clark lifts Tim, holding him away from the tree bark so he won't get scratched, and -- Tim wraps his legs around Clark's waist --

"Like this, Clark?"

"Oh, it's like -- so many of my memories of *Dick*, and -- you feel so *perfect*, Tim --"

Another kiss, and another, and there has to be *room* in his world for this, for kissing Robin, always *Robin* --

How could he have not *known* Tim? How could he have not *tried* -- and, he has to know. He really needs to -- "Tim, I --"

"Clark, you -- you're so warm against me. I --" Tim licks his lips again, *searches* him more --

His lips are red and *wet*, and he's holding on with his arms and legs, and Clark feels ten feet tall, strong as anything, but. "Didn't I *ever* try to be with you, Tim? You're so smart and strong, so *sexy* --"

"I'm not. I --" Tim shakes his head again. "You're just -- you like *Robin*, Clark --"

"*Yes*, but you're Robin, now, and it's all different but still so *wonderful* -- oh, please tell me I don't grow up to be stupid, Tim, that I could *see* how good you are --"

"You. You invited me back to Metropolis, once. Just to -- I think you wanted to talk about the Titans, or... I'm not sure, really. What you wanted. Um." And Tim leans in, eyes starting to close --

Clark kisses him again and thinks about flying, about what it would feel like to be able to lift Tim into the air with him, to take them through cloud after cloud until Tim is wet and shivering against him --

Had he done that with Kon? Had he liked it?

Had Kon ever *kissed* Tim like this?

He can see it -- he can almost *feel* it. Kon so cheerful and happy, so *easy* and confident that Tim would just need to kiss him, touch him and hold him and feel his warmth --

Clark moans again and strokes Tim everywhere he can reach, slipping under his loose t-shirt to feel skin -- scars like Dick, like Bruce --

They're all so *beautiful* --

And Tim pulls back gasping, shaking his head and gasping more -- and smiling. "Clark..."

"Have you ever... have you ever been with Kon?"

Tim raises his eyebrow. "No. The two of us... are just friends."

"Oh, I. Oh."

Tim unwraps one of his arms from around Clark's neck and touches Clark's cheek with his fingertips. "You're... disappointed?"

"I... it's just that you seemed very close, and -- I don't know. I think. I think it would've been like *I'd* been with you, at least in part."

Tim nods -- and stops. His expression is distant again --


Tim bites his lip. "Sorry, I -- I was thinking about Bruce, again. And -- yeah. Distracting."

"Do you ever... think about Bruce?"

"I... I don't think any Robin can avoid that sort of thing," Tim says, and smiles ruefully. "Mostly, I try not to."

Clark rubs Tim's hips and then slowly moves his hands around to Tim's rear. And watches Tim open his mouth and narrow his eyes. It's very -- well, he's hard. And he can *feel* that Tim's hard, too -- "He's very handsome. And sexy."

"You're -- in an excellent position to judge."

"He... well, he's *Bruce*," Clark says, because that should say everything, and -- it doesn't seem to.

Tim frowns and shakes his head in a completely different way. "I can't -- I. The fantasies -- they're less fantasies than things that *happen* to me when I can't keep my mind under tight enough control. I don't really... ask for them."

And that's -- that gives him another. Calling it an image would be really *narrow*, because he knows what Tim smells like when he's aroused, knows the texture of his skin and the way it feels when he sticks his tongue out, a little, between his soft lips --

Tim on his back, nude and with his knees up as he touches himself, as he calls Bruce's name and strokes faster, harder --

Oh, that would be --


"*Yes* -- I mean. Um. Sorry. I was just thinking about... er. Something."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "It looked like an interesting something...?"


"Oh. I... do you... sometimes I can't stop myself from thinking about things. Um. Sex things."

Tim strokes the back of Clark's neck with his thumbs and smiles. "I can't say that's never happened to me. You could... I wouldn't mind knowing what you were thinking. That is... if you wanted to tell me."

Those *thumbs*. So hard and small, so -- Clark closes his eyes and pushes back against the touch -- "Oh, I really, really like you, Tim --"

"The feeling is entirely mutual --"

"I was thinking about. About you -- touching yourself," Clark says, and opens his eyes just in time to see Tim part his lips in a little 'o' and blink again, *blush* again -- Clark has to kiss him. Just -- has to.

He tries to shape his mouth to match Tim's own, but it's too hard to focus on that, as opposed to on how it feels to slip his tongue in that small opening, to *push* in until Tim opens wider and presses his lips against Clark's own.

Pressure --

It's a reminder that their hips are together, that they could rub against each other --

Dick --

Tim, and Clark hopes so much that Tim likes it, that he enjoys the feel of Clark thrusting against him --

Tim tightens his grip with his legs and sucks on Clark's tongue again, bites it just a little --

Clark groans and shifts his hands back to Tim's hips, holding them *tight* and moving them against himself, grinding them against himself --

Tim laughs and pulls back, tilts his *head* back --

"In my -- in my fantasy, you were thinking about Bruce, Tim, about -- you wanted him to touch you --"

Tim tenses, but he doesn't stop moving, doesn't let *go*, and Clark feels like he's flushed all over, like it would feel a million times better to just strip himself completely naked and rub *all* of himself against Tim -- he can settle for leaning in to kiss his throat --

And gets lost, a little, in the feel of Tim's pulse against his lips, the sense of it as being almost a solid, separate *thing*, as opposed to a phenomenon caused by the flow of blood -- Clark sucks, not hard --

"Oh -- oh, Clark, we should -- I think we should --"

Clark kisses Tim's throat hard, makes love to it with his tongue -- Tim had said something, something that could mean he wants more the way Clark does -- he pulls back. "What -- what should we do?"

And for a moment Tim only pants, head still tilted back -- no, he's looking at Clark again, searching and smiling. "You should -- ah. We should put me down."

It's not. It's really not what Clark wants to *hear*, which means he absolutely shouldn't be squeezing Tim's hips more.

"I mean -- um. Clark --"

"You don't want to have sex with me?"

"Oh, I -- I really do. It's just -- ah. I haven't, before, and I don't think -- we need to head back to Gotham *really* soon."

It hasn't been that long. It *can't* have been that long -- "Are you sure?"

Tim moves his arms from around Clark's neck and rests his hands on Clark's shoulders. Squeezes. "I'm sure. And I -- I don't want to get us into an accident on the highway because I'm too hard to *think*.

Practical things. *Good* things. And -- it's good that Tim is thinking like that, because someone definitely has to. And probably Tim has to get ready for patrol, tonight -- no, he's *off*, and they could... no, he has to go home to his parents. Tim unfolds his legs and Clark sets him down on his feet.

He can't really make himself let go of Tim's hips, or back away, or stop leaning in -- he can taste Tim's *breath* when he's this close, and he can smell all of that arousal on top of clean male, beautiful *male* --

"Tim, I... I'm sorry."

"You have nothing to apologize for. I shouldn't have -- I knew we didn't really have the time to be *with* each other, and I still..." Tim frowns and pushes a hand back through his hair, mussing it.

Clark reaches to straighten the thin strands of it, feel how soft and *sleek* it is compared to his own thick mop --

Tim is smiling at him, again. "We can -- we'll find the time. I'll find the time, if you don't -- ah. If you don't mind waiting for me."

Clark nods and touches his own mouth. He doesn't bruise and swell from kisses the way Tim has, but he just needs to touch himself there, and feel all the kisses he's not getting -- he touches Tim's mouth, too, and watches Tim close his eyes *almost* all the way --

Tim drags his mouth against Clark's fingers -- and shivers.

"Oh, Tim..."

"I know. I --" Panted breath against Clark's fingertips, and Tim's hand wrapped around his wrist. "I just -- I." Tim drags Clark's hand down to his chest --

And Clark places his palm flat to it, just over Tim's heart. The pound of it makes *Clark* want to shiver, makes him want to touch and hold -- "Robin --"

Tim laughs. "I don't feel -- I don't feel very much like Robin, right now --"

"Oh, but -- you do. You really. You're so sure and so smart, so practical even though you're so aroused it's driving me a little crazy --"

"Clark --"

"I *must* have wanted you when I asked you to come to Metropolis, I must've wanted just this. I..." Clark strokes down, feels Tim's abdominals jump and flex a little --

"God, Clark --"

"Please, just -- you have to *drive*, and I really want to -- we don't have to do anything else, just please let me make you come?"

And Tim moans, just like that, echoing in the still air -- and he's backing up, backing *away* --

Clark can keep himself from following. He can -- he doesn't have to *assault* Tim, and --

And Tim stops when his back is to the tree again, reaching for his pants --

"Oh -- Oh, Tim..."

His eyes are squeezed shut and he's biting his lip *hard* -- but he's opening his pants, and Clark can't help staring. And can't stop himself from moving close, reaching *out* -- no, he doesn't want to tear Tim's pants, and he doesn't want to *hurt* Tim in any way, and the fact that his hands are shaking is telling him that he might do both.

"I can't -- please, Tim, please let me see you --"

Tim makes a small sound, high and sharp -- he's not biting his lip anymore. He's panting, and he's shoving his pants and briefs down and out of the way, and he's so *hard*, dark with blood and curving, slick at the tip.

Clark licks his lips and drops to his knees --

"Clark -- oh God, I just -- I was just -- your hand is enough --"

"No, it's *not*," Clark says, and touches Tim's *skin*, strokes his hips and his abdomen and his lean, hard thighs --

"Then -- then *please*. I need -- Clark, I need you and I can't -- *oh* --"

The taste of him -- Clark licks Tim all over, pushing his penis up against his abdomen so he can easily reach Tim's sac and lick *that*. The salt of sweat and the indefinable taste of Tim's skin, the feel of it so *soft*. Clark squeezes Tim's penis --

"*Clark* --"

Clark sucks on Tim's sac and strokes his penis, thinking -- he just wanted Clark's hand, he likes this, he wants this --

*Tim* --

Tim moaning and jerking his hips, whimpering --

"Oh, please -- *please* --"

Clark pulls back and opens his jeans and just -- watches Tim *arch* away from the tree, watches his hips pump -- "Sorry, I just have to --"

"Clark -- I can't -- I need --"

"*Yes*, I -- oh, Tim --" With the jeans open he can pull himself out, *squeeze* himself and reach for Tim's penis again, get it lined up enough that he can take it *in* --

"Ah -- so -- you're so *warm* -- oh God --"

Tim moans for him, for the feel of what he's *doing*, and Clark shivers and sucks as hard as he dares, rubbing the flat of his tongue against the underside and just --

Oh, Tim's in his *mouth* now, just like Bruce, just like Dick all those times, all those wonderful *times*. *Robin* in his mouth, Robin needing him to give pleasure, and maybe to make the world go away for a little while, make everything sweet and good --

Tim moans again and pumps his hips once, twice --

"Oh, please, Clark, please --"

Clark hums and wishes he could make himself let go of his own penis, wishes he could just stop stroking himself for a *minute*, just to tell Tim to keep going, to not hold *back* --

Oh, Tim feels so *good* in his mouth, so right and perfect --

He's shaking, he's trying to hold himself *still* -- Clark moans around him and works his head, trying to *urge* Tim, trying to lick him all around --

"Clark, *please* --"

*Yes*, he tries to say with everything he's doing, with the way he's stroking himself so *close*. He wants -- he almost wishes they were indoors for this, somewhere small and close where he couldn't smell anything but Tim. The smell of all the green is a distraction from this, the blend of it with Tim's scent so heavy and heady -- no, it's good, it's *wonderful* and he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

He wants to roll around with Tim in the pine needles and see if Tim laughs, he wants to press Tim down with his body and make him warm all over, make him sweat just like he's doing now --

Clark sucks -- and remembers that he could be swallowing, that he could use his other hand for other *things* --  Clark lets go of Tim's penis and goes all the way *down*, swallowing --

Tim yells and *bucks*, and doesn't stop, doesn't --

Oh, Tim is *fucking* his mouth, hard and fast and good as he moans, as he cries out --

Clark opens his eyes and looks up -- Tim's eyes are closed and he's shaking his head, almost tossing it as he gasps and seems to beg without words. Tim *likes* this, and oh --

He likes it, too. He wants --

Clark squeezes Tim's hip with his free hand and strokes up under the t-shirt, finding sweat-damp skin and scars, everything his to *touch*. He reaches up further, trying to find Tim's nipples --

He doesn't know if Tim *likes* that, and it seems unfair. He can't know, for sure, if the image he has in his head of Tim *playing* with his nipples as he touches himself is *accurate*, and he really *needs* that information, and --

He touches, brushes his fingertips against the hard little nubs --

Tim opens his eyes and his mouth, staring down at Clark -- he looks shocked, almost dazed --

Clark moans --

And Tim *narrows* his eyes -- "Clark. Clark, you should -- pinch. Please --"

He does and Tim's knees buckle, he starts to drop --

Clark can hold him up, but it's so much better to ease him down to the ground, hold him tight and kiss his abdomen, his penis and his sac --

Tim groans and arches up -- and whimpers when Clark presses him back down to the ground --

"Sorry, Tim, sorry, I just --"

"No, please -- please don't stop --"

"I like you, I really -- please say we can still be friends even when I'm an adult again --"

"Yes, Clark, yes -- we can -- you'll take me flying and we -- God, *please*, I'm so -- so *hard* --"

"So *beautiful* like this, flushed all over and I can smell you, and the earth, and the pines, I --" Clark shakes his head and goes back down, sucking hard and finding his own aching penis again, using his free hand to stroke over Tim's chest -- no.

Tim likes his nipples pinched, held and maybe twisted --

Tim makes a sound like something tortured, loud and so --

It goes right through Clark, burning him and making him *need*. He's going to come like this, with Tim's penis in his mouth, with the birds singing and jets flying high overhead --

Clark moans and strokes himself faster when Tim starts to thrust, trying to find the same rhythm and failing utterly and not *caring*, because --

"Clark -- Clark, I'm going to -- you're going to make me -- oh *please* don't *stop* --"

He won't. He won't *ever* if he can make Tim see that it's okay that they'll be late, that Bruce trusts Tim and so it's *okay* if they're late --

"*Clark* --"

And Tim starts to spasm, thrusting jerkily -- coming in Clark's mouth. Down his *throat*. Clark pulls back enough to catch it in his mouth, enough to feel it splash against the back of his throat. He holds down the urge to cough and tries to suck *rhythmically*, pressing and holding Tim's penis with his lips --

"Oh God oh *fuck* --"

Clark groans and feels his penis twitch *hard* --

"Please -- ah -- let go, let me --"

Sensitive. He's -- Clark pulls back and swallows, licks his lips and crawls until he's over Tim a little, half-on and half next to him --

"God, Clark, you -- do you want me to touch you?"

Words. He can't -- when he opens his mouth he *groans*, and he reaches for his own sac --

And Tim pushes him --

"I -- sorry -- oh, *please* --"

Pushes him over onto his back and oh -- hands on him, hands on his own hands, rubbing and trying to --

Clark shakes his head and *tries* to let go of himself, to make *room*, but he's too close and his body won't *let* him stop --

"It's okay, Clark, I just -- here," Tim says, and pushes his fingers between Clark's own on his penis, and his fingers are small, delicate, he has to remember -- even though they feel so good and *strong*. And Tim follows his rhythm, squeezing hard --

Oh, he must be squeezing as hard as he *can*. Clark lets go of his sac to touch Tim's forearm, to feel the muscles working --

And Tim cups his sac and squeezes *that* -- "Clark, you look incredible like this. You -- I just want to touch you as much as I *can* --"

"You can, you -- you could touch me anywhere, oh Tim, Robin --" Another squeeze and Clark gasps, moans and starts to *shake* --

"We can... maybe another time we can just... take our *time*, Clark, and --" Tim laughs -- "Maybe in a *bed* --"

He's never -- not in a bed, and that seems *really* strange, only he can't think about that, can't really think about anything but Tim's hands, his -- "Your hands, I love them, I won't be able to stop thinking about them now -- oh please, oh *please* just hold me, squeeze me --"

And Tim growls low in his throat and squeezes even harder, muscles flexing and Clark thinks he could come just from that, just --

If Tim would just keep holding on like that, and his expression -- his eyes so narrow and his lips pressed together -- if Clark can just keep feeling this, keep *seeing* this --

But then Tim forces Clark to start stroking himself again, just -- *drags* Clark's hand with his own and he has to follow, has to just -- "Clark, come on, you... I want to see you come --"

"*Tim* --"

"Please --"

"*Please*, Tim --"

"I won't stop -- I won't stop squeezing like this, I promise, I just -- oh, Clark..."

It's not that the orgasm was a *shock*, it's just that he hadn't realized he'd gotten that close again -- but --

Oh, he can't even *see*, and he wants to, he wants --

It feels like he's spilling out everything *inside* him, and he wants --

Wants --

"Clark, that was *amazing*, I -- you should tell me when to let go --"

Clark shakes his head hard and opens his mouth -- sobs on a gasp, and another, another -- he'd stopped breathing again, and now he's paying for it, painless explosions happening behind his eyes, somewhere, making him spasm more, jerk --

"It's okay, Clark, it's -- I've got you..."

Yes, that. Just -- *that*, and somewhere in the midst of all the gasping, Clark realizes that the reason why he can't see is that he'd squeezed his eyes shut. He opens them, and Tim is looking down at him, lips parted and eyes so *wide*.

He's still *squeezing*, and -- it almost hurts. Almost.

"I don't -- I don't want you to let go, Tim. Your hands... it's like I can *feel* them more, now, feel them... deeper? Maybe?"

Tim nods and closes his mouth... tilts his head. "I could always touch you in other ways -- oof --"

That was probably more of a tackle than a hug, but Tim is laughing under him, and he's wrapping his arms around Clark, and that's -- Clark presses down against him and buries his face against Tim's neck. Sweat, aging and new. Clark licks --

"Oh -- I. We really do need to *go*, Clark --"

"I know. I -- just for a few minutes?"

Tim strokes his back and -- relaxes, all over. "A few minutes."

"Tim, I... that was *wonderful*."

Tim sighs and squeezes him. "I agree. I never thought..." Clark can feel him shaking his head. "Did I scream? I think you made me scream."

Oh, Tim's *sounds* -- Clark kisses Tim's throat. "It was. Um. More of a yell."

Tim laughs, softly. "Okay. I didn't really expect that. At *all*."

"I like... I really like having sex," Clark says, and feels very, very stupid and lame. "Um. That sounded deeper in my head."

Tim strokes him. "I think I really like having sex, too."

"Then... we can do it again, sometime? The two of us?"

Tim strokes up to the back of Clark's head and -- tugs his hair. Lightly, but -- Clark really does have to listen to that. He shifts until he can look down at Tim -- at Tim's smile.

It's not soft, at all, but it seems like it *should* be, and -- Clark kisses the smile, kisses Tim until Tim kisses him back and he can lick into that mouth --

Tim makes a surprised noise, and Clark realizes that Tim's tasting himself in Clark's mouth --

And then Tim shoves his hand into Clark's hair and licks Clark's tongue fast and kind of *hard*, and -- more? Could they...?

Clark holds still for the kiss -- for the *tasting* -- and braces himself on one elbow so he can stroke Tim's side. His t-shirt had gotten rucked up a little by the tackle, so there's more bare skin Clark can touch, *examine* with his fingertips...

Will his sense of touch get stronger? Will he be able to note changes in texture and tone?

Would it make this better?

Tim breaks the kiss and Clark leans in for another -- Tim *grips* Clark's hair. "Sorry, I. Um. Did you like that? Tasting yourself?"

"Yes. And I wanted to say -- we could do this almost anytime you wanted to, Clark."

Clark grins. "Can we make the 'almost' go away?"

"Not really, no," Tim says, and curls his fingers in to scratch against Clark's scalp --

"Oh, I -- that feels really good. Maybe you could do that the next time I... take you in my mouth."

Tim sighs again and kind of rocks beneath him, pressing closer for a good, *good* second before relaxing again. And raising an eyebrow.

Clark wants more, even if it's just more holding each other... and then he remembers that he'll be able to hold Tim all the way back to Gotham on the bike. Clark smiles and stands up, reaching down to offer a hand to Tim. He can compromise.


The drive back to Gotham is *definitely* a compromise. On the one hand, it feels wonderful to be pressed against Tim and not have to worry about getting too aroused and making Tim uncomfortable -- it's *warmer* this way. On the other hand, Clark knows that Tim probably isn't going to stay at the manor for very long. He has a family, and he's been away from them all day, so the drive is really kind of a long goodbye.

But --

"Will you be around tomorrow?"

"I -- hadn't been planning on it. There are things I have to do at home, and. Do you want me to come over?"

"Yes! I mean, tomorrow is when we find out if I'm going to just change back into the Clark you all know, and... anyway, I would like it if you were there."

"Then I will be," Tim says, and goes back to driving silently.

He's very clear and *direct* about things, if in a completely different way than Kon. It's another warm thing, especially after Bruce's kind of *twisty* conversations and Dick being so unsure about so many things... he doesn't know, and he doesn't...

Well, it's not really being disloyal. Tim is one of them, family, and -- he's one of them. And now he's *always* going to be in Clark's memories, no matter what.

Clark holds on a little tighter -- and Tim shifts against him just slightly. Communicating.

"Tim, do you ever... think about Dick?"

It's only a little swerve, but it's there.

"Sorry --"

Tim's laugh echoes, a little bit. "Yes, Clark. I -- often."

"Oh. Oh, really? Even though he's your brother?"

"Sometimes I wish he was more than my brother. Or -- it's possible that I mean less. And Clark... um. I don't really. I mean, it's okay for you to know that, because of who you are and -- you would know it *anyway* if you ever spent time around Dick and me, but... I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell."

A *secret*. Tim trusts him with -- *Robin* trusts him with a secret, and Clark realizes that he's nodding like an idiot. "Yes, sure, I won't tell --"

"Thank you."

But -- "Um. What if *he* thinks about you that way?"

"I *am* his brother, Clark. I don't think... no, he doesn't. I'm not just his brother -- I'm his *little* brother. He talks to me about girls, sometimes, and teases me... no."

About girls? "Does he know that you *like* guys?"

"I can't imagine -- um. Hm. It's never come up in conversation, but I think I've been pretty obvious about it."

Clark tries to think about Tim being obvious about something when he's not actually at least a little bit naked and also having sex. He tries *really* hard -- "Um. If you're sure..."

"Well, I'm mostly sure."

"I mean -- I can smell you, and see when you're not quite blushing, and... other stuff. But Dick can't."

"Dick is an excellent detective, and I'm a teenaged boy who gets sexually aroused several times a day."

Oh. Just -- the Tim in his head is touching himself *for* Dick now, and Dick is watching and reaching out just to feel him, maybe his leg or his arm, and Dick is smiling and Tim has his eyes *almost* closed --


"Um. Heh. Guess you can feel that."

Tim laughs again. "I'm not sure if it would be safe for you to tell me what you're thinking about, but you should know that I'm definitely curious."

"You. And Dick. Ah... In my head, Dick is touching you. While you touch yourself."

"Oh... Clark." And Tim slows the bike down to take the exit for the city, or maybe just to be safe...

"It would be really sexy, Tim. I'm just... um. It looks really nice in my head."

"It looks really nice in *my* head a lot, but I don't think it'll ever happen."

What if he could *make* it happen? Will Dick come back from Bludhaven again? Or... was last night too weird? Clark frowns. "I wonder... can I talk to you about last night? With... me and Bruce and Dick?"

"Dick... brought it up. He seemed rather. No, I'm not sure there's a good word for his mood. He almost seemed like he was in shock...?"

Clark squeezes Tim. "Um, yeah. He wasn't... it was *weird*, Tim."

"I imagine... Bruce and Dick have had a somewhat tempestuous relationship. That almost had to show up when they were making love, and when they were making love to *you*."

Clark -- he's nodding again. He stops. "Yeah. Dick seemed so *distant*, like he was trying to hold himself back from everything that was happening. He wasn't like that at *all* when it was just the two of us."

Tim shifts against him. "No, of course he wasn't. The two of you -- he's always been... You're very important to him. And -- I can see why."

Clark smiles and squeezes Tim again --

Tim shifts again so *slightly* --

But. "*Bruce* is important to him, too, and -- I could tell that he *wanted* to be with both of us, that he. I mean, he *started* it," Clark says, and feels like a *kid*, but --

"When we talked about... it. Ah. I think it would be important to remember that Dick has wanted to have sex with Bruce for a really long time, and he also spent a really long time convinced that it would never happen, that Bruce would never... um. I think it would be a good idea for *you* to talk to Dick about it."

"Yeah, I... you're probably right. I just never really thought sex could be so *stressful* and still be so good."

"Heh. Me... I was pretty sure sex would *always* be stressful."

"Oh... did you... was it okay --"

"You proved me wrong, Clark. You -- really, seriously, *thoroughly* proved me wrong," Tim says, and laughs again. "That was... I'm going to be thinking about that for a *long* time."

"*Good*. Because I will, too, and... I really want us to do that thinking *together*."

Tim hums and shifts again --

Clark lets his fingers splay, a little bit, and maybe he can just rub Tim a *little* --

"Ah -- careful."

"Sorry -- um. Okay, I'm not *really* sorry, but I understand that I should be," Clark says, and feels his face heat --

But Tim laughs again, and everything is really okay.

The Cave is empty when they get back, and Tim goes straight to the computers to check for instructions. Apparently, there aren't any, so Tim just strips down and -- pauses, naked.

Clark remembers not to squeeze the beam too hard, but -- "Tim...?"

"I need -- a shower. But I was planning to train and -- hm." Tim strokes down over his chest and makes a face.

Clark could probably use a shower, *too*, especially *with* Tim -- those showers are *big*. "We could -- um."

"I really *do* need to train, Clark --"

"Oh, I know -- I just. I'd like to... like to watch you. Getting clean."

Tim looks back at him from over his shoulder -- and looks Clark over. And *smiles* --

Clark jumps down off the beam and strips as fast as he can, careful not to tear Kon's clothes, and -- okay, he's hard, but he's not *very* hard, and Tim's already walking toward the showers.

Clark feels a little like an overexcited dog as he follows, but he doesn't trip over anything, and he manages not to *run*, and Tim turns on the water *right* next to his and -- it's nice. Lots of hot water and good pressure, and Tim's naked body right *there*.

He's -- he's perfect, but in a different way than either Bruce or Dick. Everything is proportioned just the right way, every muscle is just big enough, or just lean enough, or -- he doesn't know.

And Tim keeps looking over at him while he gets clean, searching his face or -- maybe looking for whatever is behind Clark's eyes. Clark can't imagine hiding, and --

Tim shifts closer, and it's only a little bit, but Clark can shift closer, too, and Tim turns, and tilts his head back --

"Oh --"

"I think," Tim says, quietly, "that Bruce is back."

Clark nods and leans in, and -- tries to think. Something. About something other than that one drop of water sliding down Tim's face from his temple, or about the soft hair currently plastered to Tim's scalp, or about how his mouth will taste like water --

"You don't care. I..." Tim shakes his head. "Clark, you're amazing --"

"You are. You --"

He has to kiss Tim again, because that makes more sense than any of the things in his head, and is also *much* less embarrassing -- especially once Tim wraps one arm around the back of Clark's neck and rests the other hand on Clark's chest.

Tim's palm is pressed to Clark's nipple, and that feels -- would he like it if someone played with his nipples? Tim's *hands* --

Clark cups Tim's face and makes the kiss deeper, slipping his tongue in and listening for Tim's heartbeat, the rhythm of his breathing --

His heartbeat is a little faster, but his breathing is normal, and all of a sudden Clark wants them both back to where they were in the woods, wants Tim to be *excited* for him, and -- oh, Tim's close enough now that Clark's penis is brushing against Tim's abdomen, and he's going to be *very* hard very soon.

Very --

Tim sucks Clark's tongue and teases it with his own, presses even closer --

And he stiffens when Clark moans, but he doesn't stop kissing, and he doesn't move *away* -- which means that he stumbles when Clark tries to chase him. Clark catches him before he can fall, and lifts him a little --

And Tim laughs into the kiss. "Clark --"

"Sorry, er -- I'm *almost* sorry -- mm --"

Tim kisses him *hard*, and rubs his palm just a little, and Clark *knows* Tim doesn't want to have sex again right now, but Clark can feel him getting harder, can feel his *heat* as something separate from the heat of the water pounding down on them, and he wants --

He wants to lay Tim *down* in this, hear the sound of his skin sliding against the wet tile, hear his moans and cries *echo* --

And Tim starts to slip his tongue in and out of Clark's mouth. Just -- it's *slow*, but Clark can't help thinking about what it was like to -- to *go down* on Tim, how he'd tried not to thrust and Clark had been able to make him do it *anyway* --

Clark moans again and lifts Tim higher, tries to beg him with his body to wrap his legs around Clark again, his lean, strong legs, so scarred and hard -- but he doesn't. He keeps *kissing*, keeps touching, but he doesn't --

He wants to train, and Bruce is here, and Clark needs to accept that, so, when Tim does pull back and raise his eyebrow, Clark sets him down on his feet again.

Tim smiles and strokes down over Clark's arm to his hand -- and twines their fingers together for just a moment.

Clark squeezes, and Tim lets go -- and steps back under the spray. And turns it to *cold*.

Clark winces at the drop in temperature and actually gets a little softer himself.

A little.

Clark finishes his own shower quickly so he can walk out with Tim, and they both grab towels.

Clark thinks about going for one of the robes, but Tim is drying himself off right there, and... and maybe he'll just get *used* to being naked around other people -- and Bruce is watching them.

Just -- standing there, not far from the Case with his arms at his sides and his chin down a little bit...

Clark has no *idea* how to read the expression in his eyes, except for how he's completely positive that Bruce knows about him and Tim. He's wearing most of a business suit -- the jacket and tie are gone -- and --

He can't. He doesn't know.

Clark looks at Tim, but there's almost a *negative* expression on his face, like actual expressions would fall into it and disappear. Clark frowns and finishes drying off. His clothes are -- folded by the showers.

He blushes and starts to put them on, and wonders why Bruce had moved his clothes, but not -- no, Tim had put his clothes in the hamper, and Bruce probably didn't know for sure whether Tim planned on training or just going home to his family. Tim moves toward the lockers --

"Did you enjoy meeting your clone, Clark?"

Tim doesn't stiffen or stumble, but he does pause, just slightly, before continuing.

"Um... I really did, actually. He's not just like me, and he's not weird or anything. He's really friendly, Bruce, and nice, and good, and I don't know why you didn't want me to see him, or know about him, because I think I haven't spent enough time around him as it is."

Tim makes a small sound --

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "You liked him."

Clark pulls on his t-shirt. "He's Tim's best friend. Is it..." Clark narrows his eyes. "Why don't *you* like him?"

If anything, Bruce's eyebrow gets higher --

"I wouldn't mind an answer to that question, myself," Tim says, and he doesn't look up from where he's taping his hands and wrists -- he's still *naked*, and it seems like... it seems as though he's glaring at Bruce, *anyway*.

"My likes and dislikes -- and the reasoning behind them -- aren't relevant to this discussion --"

"All right," Tim says, and moves to his other hand. "He's young, and often thoughtless. His affections and need for same often get in the way of his caution. He's incredibly powerful with every sign of becoming more so, and he has no real controls -- beyond, of course, his basic decency and need to be considered a hero."

Clark frowns harder. That didn't really sound like the way someone would talk about a friend --

"Those needs could be subverted. Used to the advantage of someone with problematic motives, Tim --"

"Assuming, of course, that someone came between Kon-El and Clark. Was *able* to come between them."

Bruce is silent for a moment, and Clark feels a little trapped between them. He doesn't... Bruce doesn't like *Kon*, and suddenly it makes more sense that he's the only one who hadn't even mistakenly brought him up, but it's very uncomfortable. Kon is going to be his *friend*, and while he knows that not everyone can get along... He shakes his head. "Bruce --"

"A moment please, Clark. Are you saying that you took Clark out of the city and brought the --"

"His name is Kon-El. Or, if you must, Conner," Tim says, and sits down to tape his ankles.

Bruce doesn't quite *rear* back, but he does tense. "Did you do it to improve their relationship?"

At *that*, Tim turns to look at Bruce. His own eyebrow is up and his features are hard. "Your own reports on Kon are quite clear about your feelings regarding his relative lack of 'appropriate' connections."

"Tim --"

"You've never approved of my friendship with Kon, Bruce, and ultimately I don't need you to do so. However, you *will* treat him with respect, or we'll have a problem."

Bruce blinks and -- "You've never --" He briefly clenches his hands into fists and then walks over to Tim. He doesn't pause by Clark, but he does squeeze Clark's shoulder.

It's an acknowledgment Clark really *needed*, because this is starting to feel like Bruce and *Dick*.

Clark watches Bruce crouch by where Tim's sitting, watches Tim watch Bruce *warily*.

"You're right. It was wrong for me to... speak disrespectfully about someone you care about."

Tim's heartbeat speeds up, but his expression doesn't change -- "All right. Kon's relationship with Clark isn't -- wasn't -- nearly as good as it could be. It shows very clearly that Clark had never had a partner or sidekick. It seemed like the perfect time to let them know each other as equals," and Tim stops and looks at Clark. "And it was also past time to get Clark out of the city."

Bruce looks at Clark, too, and then reaches for the roll of tape.

After a moment, Tim hands it to him, and Bruce starts taping Tim's other ankle in silence. It's --

*Something* has changed, but Clark isn't sure what, beyond that it's very large and that Bruce and Tim don't seem to know what to do with it, either. It's in the way Bruce kneels and rests Tim's heel on his thigh.

It's --

It's in the way Bruce touches Tim with just his fingertips, and the way Tim is tensed and so *watchful*.

Clark reaches for the jeans and just... holds them for a moment. He wants to move closer. He wants --

"Spar with me, Tim."

"I really need some time on the gymnastics equipment, Bruce. It's been --"

"Please," Bruce says, and covers Tim's ankle with his hand. It looks *huge* there, covering most of the tape...

Does he make Tim feel small? Is it a good feeling?

"Are you sure..." Tim slips his tongue out between his lips and pulls his foot back away from Bruce before standing up. "Are you sure you don't want to just talk to me? Or maybe to Clark?"

"I want all of those things, Tim," Bruce says, and stands, as well. "I am... willing to settle. For the time being."

Tim nods and moves to the mats, shifting to a ready position...

Clark puts on the jeans and wonders where would be the safest place to watch from. Something about the way Bruce is moving onto the mats suggests that there might not *be* one --

And there's no pause before Bruce is attacking. He's not kicking, but his arms and hands are moving so quickly that it doesn't seem like it should be possible for Tim to block the strikes as well as he is. *He* doesn't have super-speed --

But he's moving the way he had in Barbara's chamber, quick and neat, fast and *sharp* --

And now he's attacking, too, dipping under Bruce's strikes and aiming for his thighs, flipping backwards -- no, he just got his hands under him and *kicked* --

Bruce dodges it easily, but it gives Tim time to get back up again, and *Tim* is using all of his kicks, getting blocked hard time and time again --

He's so *flexible*, and his expression is so *blank*. This, at least, doesn't look like fun. Bruce is *intent* on what he's doing, and is probably cataloguing every move Tim makes --

Clark shakes his head. He wants to separate them, move them apart until they can stop *fighting*. He knows they're well-trained, that Bruce would never *hurt* Tim, but --

He *can* hear the blocks they use, the thud of flesh on flesh, the sound of their heartbeats getting faster as they work --

Tim leaps into the air for this kick -- and Bruce catches and *throws* Tim down --

Tim rolls with it and gets to his feet, immediately defending himself from a flurry of blows, moving faster -- no, he's trying to kick Bruce's shins or maybe stomp on his feet --

And Clark realizes that Tim's still naked except for the tape, and that Bruce is still wearing that *suit*. And *that* --

They're talking, somehow. *Communicating* with each other through *this*. What are they saying? What does this *mean* --

And Bruce throws Tim again, and this time he throws himself down --

Tim rolls --

Bruce catches Tim's arm and pins it *down* -- and then moves on top of Tim and pins his other arm -- and his legs, too.

It's --

Tim is panting, and his heart rate is up. Bruce's heartbeat is almost calm in comparison -- but his breathing is rough and hitching.

And Tim blushes *deeply*.


Oh. Bruce's voice. Bruce -- and the way he's looking at Tim is so.

Clark realizes that he's hugging himself and *stops*, but -- now he doesn't know *what* he wants to do, because he can smell both of them, arousal and exertion and excitement and *fear*.

"Bruce, you -- should think about this," Tim says, and shifts under Bruce, flexes his wrists --

"I have. Extensively."

"Bruce --"

"Clark," Bruce says, and never looks *away* from Tim. "When you made love to Tim... was he silent? Reserved?"

And Tim blushes even harder -- "Bruce, don't. Please."

Clark shivers. "I. I don't know what to say."

Bruce nods and firms his grip on Tim's wrists, and Clark moves closer because he has to, has to be *sure* of what he's seeing and sensing and just -- is Tim physically uncomfortable? Does the suit -- the suit has to feel different from what Bruce normally trains in, but then it's also a lot lighter and softer than the uniform --

And Tim is barely blinking. Clark can smell his sweat, smell his arousal -- Clark swallows and coughs. "Tim... are you okay?"

Tim laughs. "Yes and no, Clark. I -- don't think it's anything to worry about. Is it, Bruce?"

"I hope not," he says, and leans closer. "Tim..."

"Bruce, you -- Clark told me that you've been... asking. About me."

Bruce takes a slow, deep breath. "I've been curious, Tim. I still am."

"Curiosity is something which can be dealt with relatively easily --"

"Oh," and Bruce smiles. "I doubt that it would be easy."

Tim shivers and Bruce squeezes his wrists --

Clark winces and moves onto the mats -- and they both look at him. There's amusement in Bruce's eyes, but he can't quite read Tim's. He doesn't look like he wants *help*, necessarily, but -- he can't tell. "Tim...?"

"I..." Tim closes his eyes for a moment -- opens them again and smiles ruefully. "The last time I was this close to one of Bruce's erections, he was drugged and technically unconscious, Clark. I'm afraid I'm at... something of a loss."

Bruce hums and turns back to Tim. "The last time you were this close to one of my erections --"

"Oh, dear. You're about to correct me in a way I'll find horrifying. I -- can we take it as read?"

Bruce's scent seems to grow or -- possibly Clark means *flare*, and --

"Tim. I'd like to kiss you."

"I... I'd had my suspicions about that. It's just that -- I'm not sure it's the best possible choice for our relationship, Bruce," and Clark thinks he can *feel* Tim's blush, now --

But that could possibly have something to do with the way both he and Bruce are staring at Tim right now. Clark doesn't think *he'd* be able to manage anything quite that coherent if Bruce were on top of him and hard and also he was *naked* --

Clark shakes it off and tries to focus on looking for the places that will bruise on Tim after that spar -- and his X-ray vision kicks in. He can see that Tim is *trying* to shift his legs, and that Bruce is perfectly still, and --


Tim is asking, and there's *concern* in his voice -- "Oh, I -- X-ray vision. I'm trying to do what Kon said."

"All right. Just -- hmm. Try to look at the Cave as a whole?"

He wants to -- "I want to look at *you*, at both of you --"

And Tim's legs -- the bones of Tim's legs -- *still*, just that fast -- no, he's looking at the Cave, and all the trophies, and the computers, and --

"Okay, I -- my vision is back to normal, and I --" He -- something. Bruce's face is *close* to Tim's own, and he's... nuzzling. Not quite nuzzling. He's -- "Bruce, are you trying to smell Tim?"

"Yes," Bruce says, and doesn't stop --

And Tim's eyes are so *wide* -- "Bruce -- I. About our *relationship* --"

"I trust you," Bruce says, and drags his nose over Tim's cheek, "to always remain clear, in your mind, about where the lines must be drawn."

"That's -- reassuring, in its way, but Bruce -- I'm reasonably sure the lines are drawn somewhere to the left of *here*."

Bruce hums and pauses -- and pulls back, kneeling up in a straddle of Tim's thighs.

Tim sits up on his elbows, and -- Clark has to stare. He's hard, and his breathing is uneven, and he's blinking very fast, and Clark -- can't.

He moves to crouch beside Tim, and touch -- just his shoulder, but Tim sits up further and covers Clark's hand with his own.

"Tim --"

"I'm all right, Clark. I'm... Bruce. We should absolutely talk. And it occurs to me that you might find it easier with Clark *right* here."

"Oh, I could -- I could go upstairs, if you'd like --"

"Clark's relationship with Dick and now, with you..." Bruce's smile is sharp and hard, *old*. "A blessing and a goad. He has always been someone I could trust absolutely, someone with whom I could ease my own needs, wants..." Bruce lifts his hands and folds them into fists --

And Tim nods and squeezes Clark's hand. "Your closest friend if not -- quite -- family."

Clark knows he's blushing, but there's nothing he can do about that. Just -- the two of them, and the scent of arousal is so *high* -- how long has *he* been hard?

Since the bike. Tim's body against his own, Tim's kisses -- oh, he doesn't know what he *wants* --

"At the same time, Tim, it was always a -- vivid reminder of what I could not have -- or what I couldn't allow myself to have," Bruce says, and rests his hands flat against his thighs.

"You've -- obviously -- changed your mind. Did Dick make you feel as though your reservations were problematic?"

And Bruce smiles again, almost softly -- "It is... kind of you to offer me the opportunity to pretend I am not, simply, greedy."

Tim frowns and... looks at Clark. "Are *you* all right?"

Tim. Tim is *so* -- "I -- yes? Both of you... you're saying so much, but I can *smell* what you're not saying, and it's driving me a little crazy."

"I'm sorry, Clark --"

"My apologies," Bruce says. "But he is beautiful."

Tim closes his eyes and shivers, again, pulling his knees up -- stopping, and looking at Bruce almost angrily before settling on his own knees.

"Tim... I tried to see you through Clark's eyes, through the eyes of a stranger, but Clark is already... fond of you."

It's probably *not* the time to try to hug Tim, but he's upset, and Clark can feel that with all of himself, can *taste* it -- and Tim stops Clark with a hand on his chest.

"I only ever wanted to be seen -- I only wanted *you* to see me, Bruce. But I gave up on that sort of thing..." Tim shakes his head. "You're asking me to rewrite a large chunk of my personal history."

Bruce lowers his head for a long moment -- and Clark can hear him steadying his breathing, and it almost seems as though he's slowing his heartbeat down, somehow -- and then Bruce looks up again. "Right now, I'm asking you to... forget."

Tim shakes his head once, opens his mouth -- closes it again. And nods.

And Bruce starts to stand, and Tim does, too, and -- no. "No, the two of you -- you can't *forget* that, you can't --"

"Clark," Bruce says, and frowns --

"It's -- it's all right, Clark," and Tim is turning to face him --

Clark spins Tim the rest of the way and kisses him, stroking his back a little hard until he can feel Tim relax against him, until he can just wrap his arms around Tim and *hold*, and change the kiss into one of the ones Tim had given him. He teases with his tongue until all the fear scent is gone, until it feels like Tim is just -- surrendering, giving him everything --

He smells so *good* again, and maybe Bruce can't smell it, but he can *see* it --

And when Clark pulls away, Tim is panting, and his eyes are tracking back and forth behind the lids, and Tim's color is high. The warmth from him... Tim opens his eyes and Clark nods, swallows, and walks to Bruce.

He has to *pull* Bruce into the kiss, but he *can*, and once their lips are touching, Bruce doesn't fight him, anymore. He *takes* Clark's mouth and pushes a hand into Clark's hair, and strokes Clark's back, and Clark opens his eyes --

Bruce's eyes are open and he's *not* looking at Clark --

And Tim makes a sound, behind them, and Clark has to close his eyes and *just* kiss Bruce, suck his tongue and clutch his big, perfect shoulders --

And hold on, for a moment, when Bruce pulls back. Air. He should breathe. He really should --

"I." Tim's voice sounds shaky, and -- Clark's gasping a little bit, and he doesn't want to *miss* anything, so he tries to control his breathing the way Bruce does, the way they *all* do --

And Bruce strokes his back. "I don't think -- Clark, I understand what you're trying to do, but --"

Clark pulls away from Bruce and turns to look at Tim, and -- Tim's looking at the floor, fists clenched -- "Tim..."

He looks up, and his eyes are calm. "I. I won't forget."

Bruce takes a breath. "Tim, I -- I shouldn't have. I don't have control. You were right --"

"Bruce -- stop," Tim says, and -- smiles. It's small, and it barely seems to reach his eyes, but it's there, and Clark smiles, too --

And Tim is only looking at Bruce. "I'm still not..." Tim licks his lips, opens his hands, and closes the distance between them. He holds Clark's hand, and pushes his free hand through his hair -- and reaches for Bruce's hand, bringing it up to his face --


"You're not just curious, Bruce, and I don't think -- I don't think you really *know* what you need, from me or from... any of us. But that doesn't change anything," Tim says, and opens Bruce's hand until he can rest his cheek against Bruce's palm. "Do you have any idea how long I've wanted to feel that? Without a gauntlet in the way?"

Oh, that's... Clark has *felt* those gauntlets, and he really has to wince, but -- he's not going to interrupt unless he absolutely *has* to, because Bruce's breathing is uneven again, and he can smell fear, but only a *little* --

"Clark's methods are... interesting, don't you think, Bruce? I was all set to go with the fact that I would have new fantasies to be ashamed of, and maybe a few new nightmares of failing you --"

"No, Tim, never that --"

"*But*," and the smile on Tim's face gets a little wider. "Instead, I'm thinking about how the two of us failing to come up with anything other than denial to deal with... that which is *between* us would affect Clark. Who cares about us."

"Very much," Clark says, squeezing Tim's hand and grabbing Bruce's free hand with his other. "You shouldn't... you were about to *hurt* each other, and I think... I think it would be a mistake to think that anything you do *doesn't* affect other people. Especially because of who you *are*."

And Bruce looks at them both silently, and then does -- something with the hand he has on Tim's face.

Clark can't see, but it makes Tim close his eyes and inch closer --

And Bruce's lips part -- "I want the two of us to be closer."

"I -- I know that."

"And I want, very badly, to believe that any sexual activity the two of us do or do not engage in will not have some effect on the larger world," and Bruce smiles --

And Tim laughs, quietly. "Perhaps it's a question of *how* we engage in those activities."

Clark thinks -- "Okay, now you're both making fun of me, and that's a little mean, but at least you're doing it together."

And they both turn to look at him -- smile at him with their eyes. And then Tim turns back to Bruce --

And Bruce leans in and kisses him, slowly and softly and so *carefully*. Tim makes a sound and squeezes Clark's hand kind of hard --

And Bruce pushes his hand into Tim's hair -- Clark knows what that *feels* like, and oh -- he *tugs* on Tim's hair, and maybe that's a warning, because he starts kissing Tim harder --

Tim moans and shifts -- and his free hand is on Bruce's shoulder, *clutching* Bruce's shoulder as he kisses back, breathing through his nose and squeezing his eyes shut.

The scent of arousal sharpens, almost seems to *renew* itself, and Clark breathes deep. And leans in to kiss the side of Tim's throat. Tim jumps and makes a higher-pitched noise, but he doesn't pull away. He relaxes, all over, and Clark can't stop himself from kissing over and over, licking and tasting the way Bruce is maybe doing it, the way...

He thinks about Dick, and the way Bruce had kissed him, and the way Dick had seemed to swallow back every noise, to *fight* for silence even as he clutched at Bruce and kissed him harder, right in front of Clark's *face*.

He thinks about Bruce's hands on Dick, the slow touches that Dick had made faster, harder --

And when Bruce had taken Dick into his mouth, Dick had clutched *him* so hard Clark was worried about his hands, and demanded kiss after kiss as he gasped and struggled --

Tim isn't struggling at all, and his hand is shaking in Clark's own... Clark lets go and moves behind Tim, pressing close and reaching until he can hug Bruce and Tim both as they kiss --

And Tim shifts against him, just like he'd done on the bike, only better because -- because of a *lot* of things, starting with the fact that Tim is naked, and he can --

Clark strips off his t-shirt and presses close again, just feeling Tim's skin. He gives Bruce's sides a squeeze and then touches Tim, strokes his sides and down to his hips, so slim... he shifts his hands between them so he can cup Tim's buttocks, lift him a little --

Bruce groans --

Tim *shivers* --

And Clark moves his hands to Tim's hips again and lifts him for real until Tim wraps his legs around Bruce's hips and Clark can stroke Tim's thighs, cover the caps of his knees and stroke back around to his buttocks, which is now in a really *good* position for Clark to -- push against, just a little. And he doesn't want --

That's a lie. He *wants*, but he knows it's too much to ask for, too crazy and incredible, but -- what would it be *like* to be inside Tim? To do it while Bruce is touching Tim, kissing him -- making love.

Clark kisses Tim's back, everywhere he can reach, licks for the taste of fresh sweat, tries to kiss the pound of Tim's heart and the sharp sound of his shallow breaths --

And Tim is panting. Clark looks up -- Bruce has broken the kiss, and is now kissing all over Tim's face and throat, *sucking* there --

"*Bruce*, I -- I don't --"

Bruce pulls back. "Too much." It is and *isn't* a question, and Clark feels it in his hands and his *penis*, and he's shaking his head before Tim says --

"No, I -- it's just. Very intense."

Clark exhales and strokes Tim's thighs again, presses close and rests his cheek on Tim's back. "You feel so good, Tim. You *taste* good, and -- I really hope we can do this."

"We can. I -- I think we can. I'm. I'm a little... confused, or... I'm not sure I know the right word for how I feel, right now," Tim says, shaking his head. "I want... Clark, could you touch me --"

"How. Just tell me and I'll -- you feel *really* good, Tim, and I -- oh..."

Tim's blushing so  *hard*, and Bruce is staring, mouth open and lips wet and a little red --

"Tim. Tell him what you want. Tell -- tell *us*. Please," Bruce says, and covers Clark's hands on Tim's hips, strokes Clark's hands --

"M-my. My sac. Um -- ah -- ah, *please* --"

So soft in Clark's hand, so vulnerable and so *soft* -- "Tim, tell me how. Should I squeeze, a little?"

And Tim nods, fast and with his eyes closed --

And Bruce kisses him again just as Clark's squeezing, and the sound Tim makes is muffled and *high*, sharp into Bruce's mouth --

Clark licks his lips and kisses Tim's shoulder blade, mouths it and wants more, even though the feel of Tim's sac in his hand -- that Tim had *asked* for this touch --

Clark squeezes rhythmically and Tim starts to shake all over, little tremors that last a few seconds and stop --

Tim moans *loudly* and they must've stopped kissing again, but Clark can't look up from Tim's back to check --

"Oh -- Bruce. *Clark* --"

No, he *has* to look, and Bruce is sucking Tim's throat in a ring, or -- or a *collar*. "Bruce, are you -- are you going to *mark* him?"

Bruce pulls back with a wet sound. "No. No, I..." Another kiss, another *suck* -- "Certainly, I'm going to try to avoid it --"

"You can. I -- low. Low on my throat --"

"Tim --"

"Please, I -- your *mouth*, Bruce --"

And Bruce growls and *bites* Tim at the place where his neck meets his shoulder, and Tim cries out so *loudly* --

Oh, Clark is squeezing again, and he doesn't think it's too hard but -- Tim shakes again when Clark releases him, and now he's moving his hips, pumping --

Just like when he was in Clark's *mouth*, and Clark swallows back saliva and licks a stripe up Tim's spine, wants more -- "Bruce, I -- please, I want to touch Tim other places --"

"Oh, God -- oh -- Clark, squeeze me again, or -- I can't -- Bruce is biting, he's --" And Tim sobs on a breath, another --

"Clark," Bruce says, "let go..."

Clark does and hears himself whimper -- Bruce drops to his knees and lays Tim down. There's a deep red mark on Tim's throat -- and Bruce sucks him right *there* while Clark watches --

Tim kicks out one leg --

Clark gets down on his knees, too, leans in as much as he can and kisses Tim's mouth. It feels softer, swollen and *warm* --

Tim groans into Clark's mouth and reaches up to cup his face, rubbing Clark's cheeks and pushing into his hair. There's something different about kissing him in this position, about doing it here in the Cave.

It's -- Tim's on his back, and he's *naked*, and Clark is over him -- and Bruce is right there, close --

And doing something that makes Tim cry *out* into Clark's mouth. He has to *see*. Clark pulls back --

"Oh -- oh *God* --"

Bruce is playing with one of Tim's nipples and sucking the other, pinching and twisting and *sucking* --

"Clark -- Clark, help me, I don't -- I don't want to be *loud* --"

*Dick*, but -- not quite, not *this*... Clark shakes his head and kisses Tim again, and Tim immediately starts moaning again, over and over, and he can't be getting much air...

Clark strokes over Tim's throat, finding the bite mark and just rubbing at it, a little, pressing just to see --

Tim arches up into the touch and sucks Clark's tongue *hard*, and Clark wants to touch Tim everywhere, all at *once*.

Wet sound -- Bruce is switching nipples, kissing his way across Tim's chest --

"Please, Clark -- oh please don't stop kissing me, I -- I'm so *close* --"

Bruce *grunts* --

Clark leans in --

"Wait, Clark --"

"Bruce -- ah -- Bruce, don't -- don't make him wait --"

"Tim... I want to suck you --"

Tim shakes his head and clutches at Clark, and Clark thinks of Dick, thinks about what it would've been like if Dick had just let go -- "Please, Tim, he's -- he wants to so *much* --"

"I -- I'll come. I can't -- I'm too close --"

"I *want* you to come, Tim. I want to taste you, feel you --"

"Oh -- Oh, *God*, Bruce, do it, I can't -- please --"

Bruce growls again and shifts and just -- *swallows* Tim, all the way down in one move, just like --

It looks amazing, it -- Bruce's cheeks are so hollow. He must be sucking *hard*, and Tim is just gasping, eyes squeezed shut --

He's beating his fists against the mats, and Bruce is holding him by the hips, lifting him and holding him right there, and Clark just -- has to.

He lifts Tim against him until Tim is sitting up, pressed against Clark's chest. He's tensed and shaking, and he smells so good Clark's mouth waters. Clark kisses Tim's temple and does it again, again -- "Tim, can I -- I want to play with your nipples --"

Tim whimpers and *twists*, almost struggling -- and when he opens his eyes they're wide and wild, the blue almost completely lost. His hands are shaking -- all of him is shaking as he reaches up and back --

But he's holding Clark close, *encouraging*, leaving himself even more open --

Bruce opens his eyes and looks at Clark, and Clark isn't even close to being able to read that expression, but it's possible that Tim is reacting to it -- moaning for it -- as much as he's moaning for what Bruce is doing with his *mouth*.

"Oh... Tim, the way you sound, and -- I know this has to be really, really -- it has to be a *lot*, but it's really sexy, and." Clark swallows and strokes Tim's chest, letting his fingers play over Tim's ribs and higher until his fingertips are just *barely* brushing Tim's nipples --

Tim nods and licks his lips, closes his eyes and lets his head fall back against Clark -- oh --

"You must be... you decided to just... give into it? Or -- is it *okay*?"

"P-please. I --" The groan is almost a growl, and Tim bucks his hips --

Bruce closes his *eyes*, and the scent of them -- he can smell himself, and the rest of the Cave, but mostly he can smell *them*, and he wants to know how *long* Bruce has wanted to do this for Tim, *to* Tim, and he wants to keep holding Tim until he can calm *down* a little, but mostly he wants --

He pinches Tim's nipples and licks his own lips and watches Bruce *move*, watches him just -- oh -- he's *fucking* himself on Tim, fast and just -- just --

Tim yells and starts to twist, and now he really *does* seem to be fighting, but he's still clutching at Clark -- one hand. The other is scratching at Bruce's scalp, shaking and trying to *clutch*. Tim's eyes are squeezed shut and his legs are spread wide --

He bends them up and *arches*, but Clark already knows how strong Bruce can be, how *determined*, even for sex -- or maybe especially for sex, for every opportunity he has to *touch* -- "Bruce. Oh... maybe you should --"

"N-no. I -- Clark, he's just -- it's just right," Tim says, panting until the sounds are more like gasps, and then he starts shaking his head -- he's blushing more. The heat is barely noticeable against everything else, and it's not like Clark will be able to stop playing with Tim's nipples...

"Okay. I... I just wanted -- to be sure," Clark says, and his mouth feels dry and empty, neglected -- he licks his lips and kisses Tim's temple again, presses against the thin skin until he can feel the blood moving below, the pulse -- "I want... I want so much I can't even -- was it like this when I was -- when you were in my mouth, Tim?"

Tim opens his mouth and -- groans, long and loud, arching again. He shakes his head and Clark resists the urge to hold it *still*. It's better to just keep pinching and pulling at Tim's nipples, to feel them so hard and vulnerable against his fingertips --

"I wish -- sometimes I think I want to be doing this all the *time*," he blurts, and feels silly right up until Bruce opens his eyes again --

The amusement there --

Clark swallows and gives in to the urge to just *hold* Tim, wrap his arms around him and squeeze a little, enough that it feels like *he's* shuddering when Tim does it, that the scent of his arousal and fear -- still *fear* -- becomes Clark's whole world. Clark closes his eyes and rocks Tim a little bit, and it's possible that he's trying to offer comfort, but it's much more likely that he's just -- wallowing.

"I -- I. So warm. So. Bruce, you have to. I'm going to -- oh --"

And that -- Clark opens his eyes just in time to watch Bruce closing his own again, watch Bruce releasing Tim's hips and just stroking them, his thighs and abdomen --

Tim shouts and clutches at Clark's arms, digging in with his fingers --

"Tim -- Tim, should I --"

"Don't -- don't let go. Don't let me *go* -- oh, *fuck*, I -- I --"

And there's a shift, scent and feel and seemingly everything Tim is --

And then Tim throws his head back and gasps, over and over -- he's coming in Bruce's mouth, Bruce's hungry mouth --

Bruce shudders all over and the angle is just good enough to let Clark see him swallowing, throat flexing -- Clark hears himself moan and can't keep himself from rocking his hips against Tim a little, just --

Just enough to make this even better, to make Tim tense and shiver and moan so -- so *helplessly*. Clark tries to stop, but it's -- really hard to do. Harder when Bruce pulls off and eases back up onto his knees, licking his lips and opening his eyes again --

He's still wearing that *suit*, and it looks completely wrong on him, almost... almost *obscene*, though Clark isn't sure what he *should* be wearing, instead. Maybe... maybe just his own skin. And. He's still holding Tim, but Tim's still holding *him*, so it has to be at least a little okay. It's --


Clark squeezes Tim just a *little* -- "Um. Yes, Bruce?" And when he looks up this time -- he's not really sure when he'd decided to look down again, and it really is *difficult* -- on a number of levels -- to look away from the splay of Tim's legs, from the shine of Bruce's saliva on Tim's penis -- Bruce is smiling. At the corners of his mouth, in his eyes. Clark smiles back, and it's his turn to feel a little helpless.

"I should have known you'd grow... attached," Bruce says, and rests one hand on Tim's shin. "Given the opportunity."

"I --"

Tim shudders again, letting go and opening his eyes. He looks absolutely dazed, save for a little *something* about the way he's holding his mouth, as if he *wants* to smile, and not in the most friendly possible fashion --

"Tim," and Bruce strokes down to his ankle -- still taped.

"Ah -- yes. I... that was. Deeply intense," Tim says, and shifts --

Clark should probably let go, but Tim's moving against him, and Clark... Clark feels like he's been hard for a very, very long time. He manages to loosen his grip, a little -- Tim turns and smiles at him before turning back to Bruce --

"You realize there's going to have to be some measure of conversation about this, right? I mean, the idea had occurred to you --"

"Yes," Bruce says, and strokes Tim's ankle, the top of his foot --

Tim curls his toes and straightens them once more. "Although -- hm. I suppose it wouldn't really be... fair. To demand that conversation take place right now."

Bruce raises an eyebrow. "I'm at your disposal, Tim."

Tim blushes and now really doesn't seem to be the time to nuzzle close enough to feel that heat on his face, but -- maybe just a little closer -- Tim sighs when Clark kisses his ear, and Clark can't see Tim's face from this position, but he can't make himself move and -- Tim reaches up to cup Clark's face and stroke, a little. It's okay.

It's --

"You... won't always be at my disposal," Tim says, and it sounds a little like a question --

"The future is difficult to know," and Bruce sounds like he's laughing, somewhere inside himself, and they're both just generally making Clark feel like a big, stupid *hormone* on *legs*, but --

"I... Bruce," and Tim pushes back against Clark, shifts and moves a little like he'd done on the bike.

Communicating, welcoming, it -- he *likes* Clark, and maybe he likes the feel of Clark's kisses, if not necessarily the erection pressed against his back. It -- Clark can feel Tim's *sweat* --

"Bruce, I... I don't know if I can. If I can handle this kind of relationship with you without... um. I actually don't know *what* I would need to make it work in my head, and I don't want to just throw out some random thing, or... I don't know."

Bruce makes a small sound, low and soft, and Clark wants to be at least a little better than this, a little more capable of *not* burying his face at the join of Tim's neck to his shoulder and breathing *in* --

"Clark, that feels. Oh..."

"He enjoys your scent -- your scents. Sometimes, I find myself jealous of that power," and Bruce is shifting -- so is Tim. Clark manages to stop nuzzling and look up in time to see Bruce kneeling closer to both of them, his hand resting lightly on one of Tim's bent knees. "Sometimes I'm grateful to have nothing of the kind."

Tim strokes Clark's cheek more and he's calmer now, breathing close to regulated and heartbeat slowing down. The tape feels like a tease, like something holding Clark away from the *feel* --

"Bruce, I... will you tell me how *you* want this to work?"

"I'll never..." Bruce sighs and shifts again -- leaning away. "I'll never pressure you, Tim. It's enough that you know this about me, and that your choices regarding myself will be... informed."

Tim swallows and Clark tries and fails to bite back a moan. "Sorry, sorry, I just --"

"It's all right, Clark," Tim says --

"Clark. What do you need?"

Clark squeezes his eyes shut and holds Tim a little tighter, just a little --

"Oh. I..." Tim's heartbeat starts to speed again, and Clark can *feel* Bruce watching him, and Tim wants to... he doesn't *know* what Tim wants, he can't think, can't really make all the words he'd said make any kind of sense he can hold on to. It's just --

He wants --

"Please," Clark says, and his voice sounds thick and slurred to his own ears, and Tim is shifting again, starting to pull *away*. "Oh, I'm -- I'm really sorry, I just --" He squeezes one more time and *forces* himself to let go, push back a little --

If he could just breathe without feeling them, tasting them, *knowing* them -- Clark balls his hands into fists and -- he'd pushed them, forced them into this when they were only going to -- he doesn't *know*.

A hand on his arm -- small and hard. Tim --

"Clark, open... you don't *have* to open your eyes, but I'd appreciate it," Tim says, and his voice is quiet and reasonable and impossible to ignore.

Clark opens his eyes and has to moan again, because Tim is on his knees, and he looks so perfect, so at *ease* with his body, even though he's naked and *has* to be at least a little confused --

"You want... do you want me, right now?"

"Yes. Yes, but. I know you didn't really want to have more sex, and you're... I can tell you were uncomfortable and I don't want to make you more uncomfortable, and um. I'm fine."

"Clark..." Tim squeezes Clark's arm, strokes it --

"Please, Tim, you should -- you shouldn't really --"

"I want to," Tim says, and moves closer, graceful even on his knees, and something loose and a little wild in Clark's mind insists on picturing Bruce training Tim *this* way, and --

His own moans sound so *loud*, now, and how had Tim been able to stand it? How had *he*, before?

"You're making me..." Tim shakes his head and laughs a little. "I definitely understand not wanting to be... a burden. But you're not, and it's really not your fault that I picked such a bad time to try to *negotiate* my relationship with Bruce, and furthermore..." Tim lets go of Clark's arm, opens Clark's jeans, and wraps his hand around Clark's penis and *squeezes* --

"*Tim* --"

"I don't really... I can't really understand why you want *me* right now, Clark, but I'm very, very grateful," Tim says, and bends down --

"Oh, don't, you don't -- please, oh, Tim, your *breath* --"

"You smell... a little like growing things. A little like... just. I've never done this before, and I'm probably going to do a terrible job, but... let me?"

Tearing sound -- oh, he's ripping the mats, and when he lets go there's nothing to touch, nothing -- he doesn't want to -- Tim's hair is so *soft*, so fine and soft --


Tongue. Tim's *tongue*, and Clark knows how that feels in his mouth, but now it feels sharp, like something which can cut him, break him -- "*Please* --"

Tim's scent shifts -- sweat and arousal, again, and Clark presses against the back of Tim's neck -- no, he doesn't want to -- Bruce won't pressure and he won't *either*, but he has to hold *something* --

Bruce catches Clark's hands and twines his fingers between and that's *dangerous*, but --

"It's all right, Clark," Bruce says. "I trust you."

And Clark hears himself moaning even louder and can't seem to *focus* anymore -- his eyes are rolling back in his head, a little. Oh, Tim -- Tim's kissing him, over and over, wet and soft and so good, so *good* --

"Tim -- Bruce -- I -- I'm sorry, I can't --"

"You *can*," Bruce says, and squeezes Clark's hands just as Tim opens his mouth and takes in the head. *Just* the head, and it feels like a tease and it feels like the best thing in the *world*, because Tim is warm in there, hot and soft and wet --

Tim makes a *pleased* sound, licks him, and Clark doesn't squeeze Bruce's hands, no matter how big and strong they feel, and he doesn't lift himself up and thrust, and he -- "Please. Oh -- *please* --"

Tim starts to stroke him, and Clark wonders if he can feel Bruce so close, wonders if Bruce is looking at him or at Tim, wonders and wants and *needs* --

More at the feel of Tim sucking. So much *more* --

"I want... oh, Tim, I want you so *badly*, I need you, don't stop, please don't stop --"

And Tim's other hand is moving on him, feeling him -- his hand is so --

His *mouth* --

"Clark. Please tell me," Bruce says --

Tim moans --

"I won't touch him now. I won't *take*. Just -- please," and Bruce squeezes Clark's hands again --

"I -- oh, Tim, please, I'm sorry, I have to -- *oh* --"

Tim's sucking him *harder*, holding Clark tight between his lips, and he's *inside* Tim, inside Robin the way he must always want to be, need to be --

"Bruce -- oh, Bruce, he's aroused again, just... just a little. He likes this. He -- I can tell. I can *smell* --"

"More, Clark --"

"So wet and warm, so -- and the way he's touching me with his other hand, the way he's feeling me. Stroking me -- his hands are like *yours*, Bruce, only smaller, and I -- oh, please, Tim, please take -- just a little more, I only --"

Tim moans and Clark gasps and shudders, tenses all over because it's so *muffled*, so -- he's quieting Tim with his own penis, and he never wants Tim to be quiet again, he thinks, but --

Oh, does he like the taste? Does it make him -- "Deeper. I -- I'm deeper, and I don't think I can -- oh. Oh, he's -- it feels --" Clark shakes his head and deliberately straightens his fingers, holding them in that position until he's sure he won't squeeze by accident.

Tim is pressing against him with his tongue, his lips -- he's sucking hard and moaning so quietly, so much more quietly than the noises Clark is making, and Clark *knows* that it's not really that Tim has more control -- he's *seen* Tim, and he knows what it looks like when Tim *doesn't* have control. It's just that it seems like a very intense kind of unfair that Tim can do this to him and only have to moan a little --

He doesn't know, and he wants to *touch*, and a part of him resents the hold Bruce has on his hands. He only wants to touch, and hold, and stroke, and make Tim feel like this, like everything he is has been reduced to the way he can't stop gasping, can't answer the questions Bruce seems to almost be *beaming* at him, can't do anything --

His hips rock without his *permission*, and Tim makes a surprised sound around him, all through him --


"Feels -- I feel -- I don't --"

"He'll never forget this, Clark. This *gift*..."

Another sound vibrating through him, and Clark's shaking now, shaking his head and just *shaking* --

"He's flushed now, Clark, but not... I don't think it's all embarrassment. I believe he's remembering the way you did this to him, for him. It's not difficult to imagine his pleasure, right now --"

"*Bruce*, I -- oh, it's different, it's always *different*, and I don't think -- I don't want this to *stop* --"

"The only thing which would've been more pleasurable than the feel -- the *taste* -- of Tim ejaculating in my mouth would've been the opportunity to continue pleasuring him --"

Tim's moan is *loud* this time, and Clark can smell fresh sweat, Bruce's and Tim's, his own -- he's going to come. He's so close, and he wants to touch more, wants to feel this -- he tugs his hands away from Bruce and can't focus on the sound Bruce makes, or on anything but the way Tim *relaxes* when Clark cups his head, strokes his cheeks and around to his working lips --

"Clark, be *sure*."

An order, and -- yes. He's sure, he can do this, he can *have* this. He nods -- he can't stop nodding, and he can't keep himself from stroking Tim's mouth, and his slick chin -- oh.

He brings the hand to his mouth and sucks it clean, tasting Tim's saliva and a little hint of himself, and this is better, this -- fingers in his mouth and one hand *touching* Tim, holding him right there as he sucks --


Bruce --

Clark blinks until he can focus and Bruce is. Holding himself through his pants. *Gripping* himself, and his lips are parted and there's *color* in his cheeks --

"Oh --" Muffled with his own fingers, but he can't make himself pull them *out*, and Tim is working his head up and down and --

Too much --

He's tensing, shouting --

And coming feels like being blasted with something, like losing everything in one *moment*, and a part of him knows that he's still touching Tim, that he's *biting* his fingers, but --

So *good* --

Except that Tim pulls off and starts *coughing*, and that's the best possible reason to stop gasping and shivering and *move*. Tim's face is red and he sounds a little choked, and -- Bruce is already rubbing his back.

Clark bites his lip and cups Tim's shoulder, strokes it a little and listens. The cough sounds terrible to his ears, but he knows it's not even as bad as the time when his father had had that nasty chest cold. Tim's okay -- and Clark can't help but grin when Tim stops coughing and smiles at him. "That was really *great*, Tim. I wish I hadn't been so... um. Maybe we can do it again sometime?"

Tim's smile gets wider and he -- looks down. Bruce is staring at Tim like he has all the important answers in the *world*, and even if Tim hadn't seen it, he has to be able to feel it --

"Um. That is -- if you want to. Or --"

"I want to. I -- really like the way you taste."

Oh... "Me, too. I mean -- I like the way you taste, not that I like -- um. Well, it's not that I haven't -- or. I think I'll stop talking now."

Tim looks at Clark from under his lashes and reaches up to cover Clark's hand on his shoulder. "I -- got the gist. I think. I should -- I should really... I don't actually know what I should do, just now."

Bruce sighs quietly -- and Tim doesn't *quite* tense, but the possibility is there, like maybe he's doing everything in his power to *avoid* tensing --

"Stop," Bruce says, and cups Tim's other shoulder, "worrying about being... fair."

Tim blushes, sudden and thoroughly. "Bruce --"

"I assure you that I wasn't concerned with anything of the kind, Tim."

If anything, the blush gets deeper, but, after a moment, Tim squeezes Clark's hand and then stands up. "I -- then I'll just. Go home," he says, and turns to walk toward the showers -- no, the lockers. He pauses. "I will, of course, be available tonight if I'm needed."

"Yes," Bruce says, and curls the hand that was on Tim's shoulder into a loose fist. "Rest tonight."

"I -- noted," and Tim doesn't turn around, or pause, and when he sits down to remove the tape on his wrists and ankles he *still* doesn't turn around, and --

Bruce's hand is on Clark's shoulder, now. Clark swallows and turns --

"Let him," Bruce says, quietly enough that Tim almost certainly didn't hear it.

It -- he doesn't *want* to. The adult he'd been had wasted years in not getting to know Tim, and Clark has barely gotten to really... Bruce squeezes his shoulder, and when Clark looks... he's smiling. It's not one of his usual smiles -- it's a lot *softer*...

Maybe Bruce feels like he's wasted time, too. And Tim hadn't squeezed *Bruce's* hand before getting up. That had been a *promise*, he knows it, and the fact that it had also been a good-bye...

Maybe if he's stuck in this time and doesn't become an adult again he can visit Tim at his parents' house, sometime. Does Kon ever do that?

And Bruce is stroking Clark's cheek with his thumb, but that's Tim's zipper going up and -- Clark swallows. He can't tell by looking if Bruce had heard that or not. Would he look so calm if he had?

And... Bruce is *hard* under that suit. It's not that he'd forgotten, but he'd still... Clark turns and kisses Bruce's thumb --

Bruce raises his eyebrows. "Are *you* thinking about being fair, Clark?"

It's a little like the way he was this morning, not really distant, but not really *available*, either, like maybe the way Bruce's pants are *tented* is an illusion, or... well. Like maybe Clark is the only one thinking about *sex*, as opposed to other ways of being close. He shakes his head -- "I don't mean to... I think I got really distracted," Clark says, and tries not to listen *hard* to the sound of Tim moving toward the bikes --

"He's very distracting."

Yes. Yes, but -- "Why didn't you ever..." Quietly. He can do quietly --  "I mean, you were always close to him --"

"Only," Bruce says, and goes back to stroking Clark's cheekbone, "in proximity."

Clark frowns. "But -- he's your partner, Bruce, and --"

"I did everything in my power to make him *Batman's* partner, and he allowed it. I... we met at one of the worst points in my life, and I failed in many ways. I don't expect Tim to forgive me for that, and of course he would never forget...." Bruce sighs again and shakes his head. "Thank you, Clark. For allowing all of us a moment to be together, to *connect*."

"I didn't really --"

"You did," Bruce says, and tightens his grip on Clark's face and seems to *will* Clark to believe, to accept --

And... no. Bruce and Tim *wouldn't* have managed to make love even as little as they had if Clark hadn't helped, even though he thinks he was really just being *greedy*. "It's not... it's not something you have to thank me for, Bruce. You're my closest friend, and --"

"Friends help each other?" Bruce's smile makes it to his mouth this time, but it's a lot more present in his eyes, and around them as the skin crinkles... Clark reaches up to touch Bruce there, to feel the way the skin folds against itself.

"Sometimes... when I was an adult, did I ever just kind of... um. Get lost? In the way you smile?"

Bruce hums and pulls Clark's hand away from his face with his other hand, strokes hard circles against the palm. "If you have, I've never been able to catch you at it."

Catch him at it -- "You -- you make it sound like a crime to be attracted to you."

Bruce hums again --

Engine. Clark turns because he has to, but of course Tim doesn't look back before driving out of the Cave. "How... how do his parents feel about him riding a motorcycle so often?"

"There's a small garage not far from their home where Tim parks the bike before taking a bus," Bruce says, and... that makes sense -- more sense than the alternative, really, considering how incredible the bike *is*, but...

"Wow, I... they don't know that he's Robin. I -- I think I must have figured that out, but..." Clark shakes his head again.

"It's difficult for you to imagine. I... understand. The lies he must tell wear on him, sometimes, and there is nothing I can do to ease things for him."

"He must... rely on his friends. The other heroes who are his age or close?" Kon...

Bruce's smile is sharply wry. "The two of us have... disagreed on just how much information Tim should share with... people like Kon-El."

And -- he'd gotten to see at least a little of that, he thinks, but really... "It's important to have people you don't have to lie to, Bruce. You should -- you *know* that."

"My family has taught me much," Bruce says, and rests his hands on his thighs. "You have, as well, but... I think, perhaps, that it must be some other variety of greed to wish that my family would keep themselves *to* themselves."

Clark frowns again. "That's not... I mean, you have a big family, as these things go? But I don't think it's enough, especially since everyone is so spread *out*."

Bruce makes a deeply non-committal sound. "Perhaps it is as you say. I only know that I've often found it more stressful than not to have the truth about myself as widely known as it is."

"Well, just -- your family and the League, right? A few other people like Alfred. That's not very *much*, Bruce," and Clark reaches out to cover Bruce's hands, hold them again --

"Dick's Titans, as well. Clark, you... perhaps you'd like to eat again? I know that Alfred has been preparing something for you."

Oh, food. *Alfred's* food, and there won't be any meat in it, but it will still be *delicious*, and Bruce -- is changing the subject. And distracting Clark from *sex*, too -- "Bruce --"

"I'm not... in need, Clark," and Bruce squeezes Clark's hands and pulls his hands away once more.

"No, I know, but I really don't want -- um." He's blushing, but at least he can keep looking at Bruce while he does it.

Even though Bruce is only raising an eyebrow.

Clark knows -- he thinks he knows -- that the eyebrow thing is just another way for Bruce to keep himself separate from this, from all the sex they're not having yet. It doesn't feel like a memory so much as one of those things that Clark just *knows* is true. Clark deliberately takes Bruce's hands in his own *again*, bringing them to his shoulders this time. Bruce doesn't squeeze or even *cup* them, though -- "*Bruce*. I don't want to... to *waste* a chance to be with you --"

"You might consider it a matter of allowing me time to... recover."

Like Tim? Or -- if it was a physical thing, Bruce wouldn't be so *hard*. Still, though... "*Is* it like that? Or are you just trying to... be *magnanimous*?"

And Bruce doesn't laugh or even hum, but the smile on his face seems impossibly large -- almost *normal*. "You've never been inclined to let me stay within myself --"

"Well, *no*. That's not... that's not the way friendship works, especially since we know each other's secrets and so few other people *can*, Bruce."

"For this..." Bruce strokes Clark's shoulders and then up to his face. He *cups* Clark's face, and -- "For this, you're entirely sure. You have no doubts."

And that sounds... the way Bruce says it makes it sound huge, and dangerous, and a lot of other things which make a part of Clark want to be running out in the sunshine again, but really... "Why would I?"

"Why, indeed," and Bruce leans in slowly, but he doesn't pause before kissing Clark, hard and very, very seriously. It's a kiss Clark wants to pay *attention* to, but it's hard to focus on more than just the taste of Tim in Bruce's mouth, the taste of need and satisfaction -- *sex*.

Clark moans and pushes closer, cupping Bruce's sides through his shirt and tilting his head back so Bruce can make the kiss deeper and just -- push everything *into* Clark. He'd like to be smarter than he is, or possibly just better read. He'd like to have words to describe the way it feels when Bruce pushes his hands into Clark's hair, better words than just wonderful and perfect and *sexy*. There's so much Bruce can *do* to him, and with him, and for him --

No, it's Bruce's *turn*, and while Clark wouldn't be entirely *surprised* if Bruce could get some kind of *enough* pleasure just by driving Clark crazy, Clark doesn't really *want* that, which is more than enough reason to pull back a little once Bruce starts kissing his way down over Clark's throat, kissing hard and scraping his teeth, sucking a little --

He's *going* to pull away, but he doesn't think he'll ever get tired of the way Bruce can make him feel like something which can be *devoured*, completely consumed. It's -- Bruce *wants* him, and maybe always has, and if this way is easier for him, then Clark's going to take every minute of it he can *get*. He squeezes Bruce's obliques, strokes them and fumbles a little until he can get his arms between them and start working on Bruce's --

Okay, he ripped that button off, but Bruce has a lot of shirts, and probably knows how to mend them, too. He manages to get the second button open without tearing --

Bruce *bites* Clark, and that sound was two buttons hitting the mats. "Oh -- sorry, I --"

"Don't stop," Bruce says, right against his *skin*, and his breath feels cool against the saliva he'd left there, and Clark shivers and has to just stroke a little. Bruce is wearing an undershirt, but Clark can still *feel* Bruce under it, feel the places where the smooth skin is interrupted with hair and scars -- nipples.

Clark pinches them a little --

Bruce bites him *again*, and it feels nothing like no or stop or any of those things, especially once Bruce starts *licking* Clark's throat, and oh -- Clark is sweating, and Bruce must like the way he tastes --

Bruce's mouth on him, Bruce's heat, deep inside where Clark can *reach*, push and *thrust* --

Tim moaning around him, Tim making *pleased* sounds around him -- Clark is hard again, and he'd known that would probably happen, but he'd thought he'd have more *time*.

Clark laughs a little and pinches Bruce's nipples again, rubs them between his fingers and thinks about strength, power and determination and *ruthless* intelligence --

Batman, touching him and wanting *his* touch, and he's never going to give this up, not ever, and if Bruce makes him fight for it, then he'll *fight*. Clark manages the last few buttons and pushes the shirt open, tugs up the undershirt and -- Bruce, solid and more real than anything else around him, more *important*. He wants --

Clark shifts and leans forward, tugging at the grip Bruce still has on his hair until they're facing each other again --

Bruce looks so *pleased*, and so *hungry*, and maybe he's still thinking about Tim, but that's *okay*, because Clark already knows Bruce cares about him.

Loves him. Clark grins --

"Tell me."

"You're my best friend, Bruce, and that -- it really makes me *happy*. Even when you *are* weird and wrong about all the personal things."

Bruce hums -- and kisses Clark hard, kisses with his whole *body* until they're laying on the mats. Bruce slips his tongue into Clark's mouth so *slowly* -- and pushes one leg between Clark's own, nudges and *rubs* at him --

Oh, the material of Bruce's pants is an *incredible* tease, especially with Kon's jeans also in the way. Smooth and cool and rough and familiar --

He really doesn't want to get Bruce *dirty*, which means that it's the perfect time to go for his belt, his fly --

"You're so *hard*, Bruce --"

"I'd had my suspicions," Bruce says, and kisses Clark's jaw --

"You're laughing at me, but I think -- I think it's impressive in the *bad* way that you're this hard and you were still trying to make me *stop*," and Clark squeezes Bruce through his boxer shorts, feels them gap a little against his palm --

Bruce groans and licks Clark's jaw, his cheek, and then back into Clark's mouth, and that's not really a response, but Clark can't actually complain, because --

*Because*. He can still taste Tim, and a part of him is still in that park, and the rest of him is right *here*, touching Bruce, twisting his hand until he can pull Bruce's penis out through the slit --

"Clark..." Breathed against Clark's mouth, low and rough and *good* --

"Do you... what do you want, Bruce? I -- please tell me..."

Bruce just keeps breathing for a long moment, staring down into Clark's eyes with his lips parted --

Clark is going to *have* to start stroking soon. Just -- the way he looks, and the way he *feels*, warm and solid in Clark's palm --

"I..." Bruce smiles, sharp and *gleaming* --

Clark feels himself *twitch*. "Bruce --"

And Bruce rolls them until Clark is on top -- "Thrust," he says, and pushes one hand back into Clark's hair --

Oh -- *oh*. Clark fumbles again, forces himself to let *go* of Bruce so he can shove the jeans down and off and brace his hands on the mats so he can -- "Oh..."

"Don't hold back, Clark. Let me..." Bruce hums again and tugs *hard* on Clark's hair. "Let me feel you."

Clark shudders and groans and does it, thrusts and grinds and -- not too hard, he can still *hurt* Bruce, but he can -- in this position he can *control* it, go as hard as he dares --

"And *don't* close your eyes."

"Oh -- *Bruce* --" He's digging his fingers into the mats again. He's -- he can't *help* it, because Bruce's undershirt is rucked up and Bruce is so hard, so -- it's his own heat as much as Bruce's, his own --

He's sweating, and every drag of his penis against Bruce's own is so *slick*, more perfect than anything. He has to --

He drops down onto his elbows, presses closer -- and Bruce kisses him, and his eyes are open and so demanding, or -- no, he's seeing everything, and so is Clark, and *everything* feels like something coiled at the base of his spine, something that just gets tighter and tighter with every thrust, every *grind* --

Bruce is fucking Clark's mouth with the same rhythm Clark's using, one push after another, so *wet*, and Tim's taste is buried under everything else now, subtle and teasing --

Oh, to do this with Tim would be -- he's so hard, all over, in a completely different way than Bruce is hard, and Bruce is --

Bruce gasps and moans, pulls back and bites Clark's *lip* before letting himself fall back, loosening his grip on Clark's hair and stroking Clark's arm with his other hand. He's -- he's flushed, and there's sweat at his temples, and even though Clark can *see* him blinking it doesn't seem real. Nothing can be as real as the way Bruce is looking at him, like he wants even more than this, like --

"Oh, Bruce, I wish -- I want --"

"Say it, Clark. Please --"

"I think -- I want to be inside you, and I want --" Clark shakes his head. "I don't think I *can* --"

"No, not..." Bruce sighs and it turns into panted breaths. "You don't have the control, right now. But you will."

Clark groans and thrusts *faster*, just -- the press of their bodies, the heat and slickness -- "I can imagine it, I can -- oh, Bruce, I love you so much --"

"Clark, I..." Bruce groans and *rolls* his body beneath Clark, thrusting up against him, changing the rhythm --

"So good. So -- oh, it feels --"

"My friend. My... always my *friend*," Bruce says, and pulls Clark down to him, kisses him again, again --

Again and it's getting messy, difficult to catch and hold to anything but the feel of them together, the heat and *rush*.

Clark pants against Bruce's cheek, licks him there and catches himself thinking about what it would be like to lick Bruce's abdomen now, to taste his pre-come mingling with Clark's own, with all their *sweat* --

Clark groans again and --

"Open. Keep your eyes -- Clark --"

"Sorry, I -- oh, Bruce, I always want you, I remember always *wanting* you --"

"Like this? Or --"

"Yes -- no. Everything, I have to --" Clark stops and moves, turns until he can lick Bruce, feel the muscle jump beneath his tongue, taste the salt and somehow *thick* taste of sex --

"*Clark* --"

Take Bruce *in*, once more, suck hard and swallow, hold -- *hold* him there, inside, grab his hips and make Bruce *thrust* into his mouth, over and over until he can't stop thinking of Tim --

Of Dick --

Bruce, inside him, where he *belongs* --

"Clark, you -- oh. Harder. Please."

Clark *sucks* and feels himself twitch for the sound of Bruce's grunt, for the feel of him tensing, all over and all at once, arching up to try to get *deeper*, even though Clark's lips are pressed to his mound, grinding against his mound --

The scent --

Bruce's boxers are blocking the feel of his hair, and Clark rips them away --

"Clark, *yes* --"

Always yes, always *Bruce*, and there's no sound in the world other than Bruce's gasps and the pound of his heart, no taste other than the one making Clark salivate and shake, nothing but *Bruce*, here, and all the pleasure Clark can give him in this moment --

"It feels -- Clark. I know you'll never let *go*..."

Never, never --

"I know --" Bruce grunts again and shudders, pushes his hands back into Clark's hair -- "This -- this pleasure, Clark, this freedom, I --"

Clark groans inside and holds *on*. Until Bruce stops making words and starts making sounds, soft and harsh at once --

Until Bruce digs his knuckles in against Clark's scalp --

Until Bruce tenses so hard Clark wonders if it's *pain*, and --

The flood and heat of him in Clark's throat, on Clark's tongue when he pulls back and swallows, over and over, sucking until Bruce gasps again and *yanks* Clark's hair --

Clark pulls off, kneels up, and gasps, watches Bruce's penis twitch and moans -- keeps himself from lunging for it with an act of *will*. He looks up and Bruce's eyes are closed and his mouth is open. He's panting and flushed, beautiful in a way Clark doesn't know how to *touch* with more than just his own clumsy, needy body.

"Clark..." Bruce *smiles* and Clark groans, long and loud.

"I -- please --"

Bruce sits up and *grips* Clark's penis without a word, squeezing hard enough that the muscles stand out on his arm before stroking him hard and *fast*.

"Bruce -- *Bruce* --"

"Take this, Clark. Come for me," Bruce says, and presses close, rests his mouth against Clark's temple, and --

Clark can't. He -- he grabs for Bruce's shoulders and holds *on* --

"My friend," Bruce says again. "Whatever you need. Anything you need --"

"*You*. You and your -- your hand, your mouth -- oh, anything, Bruce, I can't, I can't --"

"You always can," Bruce says, and kisses Clark softly, again and again until Clark can't count them anymore, can't think or do anything but squeeze Bruce's shoulders as gently as he can *manage*.

Bruce's hand --

"It's all right, Clark. I've got you --"

Bruce -- Clark whimpers and *shakes*, thrusting up into Bruce's fist until it feels like it's the only thing his body knows how to do, the only thing *possible* for this moment, this --

Bruce is still *kissing* him, and the tightness at the base of Clark's spine won't let him go, won't let him do anything or say anything -- he's whimpering more, because his body is insisting that Bruce is stroking him *too* hard, *too* perfectly --

Clark squeezes his eyes shut --

"You have always been... so beautiful..."

Oh --

"You must never think I've ever wanted you to be anything other than yourself, Clark. You -- you must know that that is the perfect thing, the only thing --"

"*Bruce* --"

"Show me your pleasure, Clark. Please," and he kisses Clark's temple again, seems to squeeze even *harder* as he strokes --

"Oh -- oh, Bruce --"

"*Please*, Clark --"

And it feels like being shocked, galvanized and broken down to the core of himself --

"Oh, perfect, perfect --"

The sounds he hears himself making -- he's almost keening, and there's nothing he can do about it, no way to *stop* -- he's squeezing Bruce's shoulders and he has to stop, has to --

Bruce grunts and Clark rips his hands free, hugs himself and shakes through the last of his orgasm -- tries to. Bruce tugs Clark's arms away from himself and pulls Clark close, and -- Clark groans again, wraps his arms around Bruce and holds *on*.

He doesn't know how long this will last, but -- every moment. Every one.

Bruce pets Clark's back in long strokes and tucks his chin down against the top of Clark's head. Clark can feel his breath against his scalp and he can feel *Bruce*. It would be better if Bruce were naked, but this...

It feels like he's been wanting just this forever. He squeezes Bruce a little tighter and rubs his face against Bruce's shoulder, breathes him in -- the scent of sex is almost too distracting for this, but it's anything but *bad*. Has Tim ever had a moment like this with Bruce? Would he want it?

He wants it *for* Tim, and for Dick, too, and -- he doesn't think he's ever been more sure that Bruce wants the same thing. His heart rate is slow and even, his breathing is steady, and there's a scent, under all the sweat and sex... something Clark can't name, but it makes him *sure*, and more than a little happy.



"The... the things you said --"

"I meant them, Clark --"

"I know. I -- I can tell," Clark says and presses a little closer. "I'm still glad you said them."

Bruce hums and keeps stroking.


Bruce hasn't been gone for his patrol for even five minutes before Alfred comes down the stairs with a covered tray. The sight of it makes his stomach rumble, and a part of Clark wants to thank every god there is for the man's perfect timing -- but he knows that it's part of Bruce's determination that Clark shouldn't be alone.

Dick is taking a short patrol in Bludhaven and he'll be here in a couple of hours, but -- yes, Alfred *is* taking out cleaning products and moving around the Cave *purposefully*, when he could just as easily be working upstairs.

Clark smiles to himself and focuses on the rice dish which is probably a risotto. There are a *lot* of roasted vegetables to eat with it, and juice that tastes like cranberries and pomegranates. It's possible that he'll get tired of being watched all the time pretty soon, but he thinks it would be a lot worse to be *alone* here, like some fairy tale character in an enchanted castle.

Well, *manor*.

When he's done -- and has used every scrap of the fresh bread to mop up every last lingering bit of risotto -- Alfred lets him help out with the dusting while he does other things, including working on the mats -- which is something Clark just isn't going to think about.

The food makes him feel warm and full and actually a little strange. A little like the descriptions of being high he's overheard, and -- hmm. Maybe he's allergic to the kind of mushrooms that were in it? He's not allergic to *anything*, so far, but it would probably be stranger if there was *nothing* on earth that could affect him badly.

He does his best to shake it off and continues dusting the monitors. Some of them are really high. It would be easier if he could fly like Kon -- and then the ground is rushing away from him and he doesn't even have time to make a sound before he's slamming against something hard that knocks the breath out of him -- the ceiling. The -- top of the Cave, and at least he hadn't smashed into one of the stalactites. That could've --

He can fly. He can --

He grins, and tries to test it out, pushing away from the stone and trying to will himself to move down a *little* --

The ground rushes up at him, and that's terrifying, but it's nothing against the feel of his skin, which is suddenly too tight for all of him, and --

Memories --

Lois --

Hal and Barry and Ollie and Dick and Bruce and Lois and Dinah and Oracle and Jimmy --

He *slams* against the stone, and something cracks, but he remembers, he remembers everything, and everyone, and his whole world --

Conner, not Kon, but -- that's wrong, isn't it? That's --

"Master *Clark*, sir, are you quite all right?"

Is he?

When he stands up, there's a moment to wonder how the ground -- the stone is cracked in the rough shape of his body -- had gotten so far away...

But it's only a moment. And Alfred is there, looking up at him --

"Oh, my. Why don't we find you some better-fitting clothes?"

Lois... Lois is alone, right now, and that slight creak -- she's at their kitchen table, reading a magazine and eating dinner. Alone. Clark smiles. "I think I know where to find some, Alfred. But -- thank you. For everything."

Alfred smiles and rests a hand on the towel over his arm. "I assure you that it was my pleasure. You mustn't feel as though you need to leave immediately, sir."

"Oh, I'm afraid I... well. If you could just step back for a moment?"

Alfred raises his eyebrow and does so, and it's the work of a moment to take a large block of stone from the pit at the far end of the Cave, bring it back to the *wound* he'd left in the floor, and then superheat the stone until it settles evenly, once more. He's tempted to say something about how even Bruce wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but of course that's ridiculous.

When he's done, there's a smell of burning dust, but it's a simple matter to move the air around until it has passed enough to be unnoticeable to human senses. He can smell...

Oh, he can still smell all of them, and he remembers --

Clark closes his eyes and lets himself rise into the air. "Again, thank you, Alfred."

Alfred inclines his head.

Clark flies -- and lifts Lois into his arms, plucking the magazine from her fingers gently and kissing the taste of Papa Gino's lasagna from her mouth -- she'd gotten the vegetarian variety, which means... "Did you miss me?"

"I -- oh, thank *God*, Smallville." Lois wraps her arms around Clark's neck and kisses him much, much harder than he had kissed her. If she's not careful, she'll bruise her lips --

Lois often eschews care entirely. Clark smiles into the kiss and lifts them enough that his hair brushes the ceiling and Lois' lovely and impractical shoes fall off her feet.

Lois makes a noise of *clear* protest, but doesn't stop kissing him -- and wraps her legs around Clark's hips. It makes Clark deeply aware of the fact that he's still wearing Conner's --

He prefers Kon --

He's wearing Kon's clothes, and approximately one deep breath from ripping them to shreds. He's not, precisely, uncomfortable in them -- he'd have to be more vulnerable for that -- but he must look absolutely ridiculous. And when he moves to set Lois down, she growls.

Clark smiles a little wider and flies them -- slowly -- into the bedroom. Lois hums and bites his lip very, very hard -- he can feel the muscles of her jaw working when he reaches to touch her face --

It's absolutely a reward, and -- he's been trained. He lays Lois down on the bed and covers her completely, pressing her down against the mattress until she sighs gustily against Clark's mouth and begins to scratch at his scalp --

Tim --

Oh, the memories, both immediate and *distant*, somehow, as if everything really had happened nearly twenty years ago. Clark shakes them off internally and focuses on the way Lois is tilting her head back, baring her throat in a message Clark will never, ever ignore.

She never wants to be *marked* there, but --

He licks her hard, stroking down her arms until he can twine their fingers together and push them down just *so* --

"*Good* boy."

"I do try," Clark says, and presses his tongue to her suprasternal notch, tasting the astringency of her perfume, the day's faint sweat --

"Ooh -- just. Press --"

"Yes," and doing so makes her almost gurgle. Of all the powers he has at his disposal, Lois is always most pleased by the strength he can bring to bear with just his fingers -- or his tongue.

He licks her with the flat of it, over and over until she begins to flush, pores opening for the sweat that's not quite present.

"I missed you --"

"I *know*," she says, laughing and scratching more. "Oh, Clark, don't *do* that --"

Clark smiles and stops licking. "This...?"

Another laugh, a slap to the back of his head -- "Don't go around being a *teenager* when I *need* you, Smallville --"

"Oh, *that*," he says, and nuzzles the side of her throat until she tilts her head back even more. "I'm terribly sorry, dear."

Lois snickers and slaps him again. "What -- how did that even *happen*?"

"I was easing the pressure in an active volcano in Hawaii when I released a buried chunk of red kryptonite. I'll be informing the League about it... soon," and he presses down just a little harder --

Lois groans and twists one hand free to dig her nails in against the back of Clark's neck. "Soon, eh?"

"It's very important that I keep the right people informed, of course."

"Oh -- oh, of *course*, Clark. It would be -- mm -- irresponsible for you to do anything else with your time."

"I've *always* thought so," and her cheek tastes like the cruelty-free makeup he'd convinced her to start using, powdery with a certain peculiar spice which has come to mean *Lois* to him --

"Still, there are *other* things you could be doing. Possibly *should* be doing," she says, and squeezes Clark's hand, scratches his neck --

"Oh, I -- I wouldn't want you to be disappointed in me for *shirking*, Lois."

Lois bites her lip. The sound is unmistakable, muffled wet and the soft, soft *press*.

Clark catches her earring between his teeth and tugs lightly --

"I think -- I think I'd be able to forgive you."

"I wouldn't want to cause hardship --"

"Once. Possibly twice," she says, and rolls her body beneath Clark's own, rubs and *pushes* --

("My friend...")

Clark thrusts and Lois makes a sharp sound, a bitten off yell -- "Maybe --maybe more than twice, Smallville. You'll have to be... convincing."

Clark licks the line of her jaw and up into her mouth. She bites his tongue immediately, holding it while he thrusts, in and out. This always makes her --

She shivers once, all over, and Clark can't wait, anymore. It takes much too long to strip himself bare, even though Lois doesn't notice until he thrusts a second time. It *always* takes too long, each microsecond without her touch piling themselves onto each other to build a tower of *waste*. But this is always --

Always --

Her blouse is silk, her suit linen. He'll steam the wrinkles out later, remove every stain, but now --

"God, *yes*, let me *feel* you. I still -- I had *nightmares* of that tiny teenaged body of yours, Clark --"

"I'll wipe them away. I'll -- oh, Lois --"

"*Strip* me --"

Yes, *yes*. Slow enough that she can feel his touch at every moment, fast enough that she moans aloud, tenses and struggles to keep herself from trying to help. Naked, she is perfect in every way, from the hair tangling at her shoulders to her one crooked toe, a poorly healed break from her judo training. He kisses her there, lifts her leg to lick to the back of her knee, scrape his teeth until she kicks --

"*Clark* --"

She wants to *feel* him -- he covers her again, wraps his arms around her and rolls them into the air until gravity holds her against him --

And her smile makes him want to watch her with Bruce, if only for a small handful of moments. A touch of their hands together, the blades behind their eyes -- his penis wants him to know everything there is about the slight roundness of her abdomen, the small colorless hairs that rub against him, torture him as she sits up so slowly, sliding her body against his own until the only contact is the palms of her hands, the sleek insides of her thighs and the damp hair between her legs.

She strokes him slowly, with as much force as she can, measuring the shape of him with her palms, *claiming* him --

"Oh, Lois --"

"*Right* here," she says, and scratches down from his collarbone, veers to catch both of his nipples against her nails -- and gasps when Clark thrusts up against her. Her scent rises sharply and he has to thrust again, *move* her --

Watch her breasts bounce and feel her scratching at him, *clawing* at him -- "Lois, *when* --"

"Oh, fuck, I love it when you're *greedy*, Smallville --"

"I was -- oh, I was living in my own past, I thought I'd lost you --"

"*Never*," she says -- *growls* -- "Get *in* me --"

"How --"

"On my *back* --"

She grunts when she hits the bed, spreads her legs as wide as she can, and oh, she's so wet for him, so hungry for *him*, and every time feels like the first, feels like the moment, bright and deadly, when he'd known, finally *known*, that he was the one she truly *wanted* --

"Clark, oh -- oh God, yes, *in* me --"

Sweetness, pure and --

Slick and nearly as warm as he is, slick and *tight* around him as she works her muscles there, squeezes and *holds* him, and always, always there's a moment when he wishes she would ever want him to know the lovers she'd had before him, when he only wants every part of her, past and present, future --

"*Lois* --"

"Don't -- don't stop after I come, don't stop until I *tell* you --"

"*Yes*," and he pulls her legs around himself, leans down enough to kiss her, use his own heat to *make* her sweat --

"Oh baby, oh honey -- Clark, don't *wait* --"

No, but -- just enough to get his arms under her shoulders, pull her *close* to him for the first thrust, for her groaning sigh, her *clench*.

The smell of the sea, of life and heat and *woman*, vital and fresh and seemingly all around him. And the bed -- the bed smells like the two of them, like Lois had never tried to kick him out of it at all.

His *wife*, now and forever, and its instinct to move to the rhythm she wants, the one she'd taught him with impatience and raw *desire* --

("I know you can give me what I need, Smallville. You just need to be *taught* --")

"Clark, oh -- make me *scream* --"

And that's just a matter of thrusting a little faster than he wants to, a little faster than she'd be able to take if she weren't so wet, so ready for him, so open for *him* --

"*Clark* --"

Her head's tilted back again -- she's banging her head against the bed, and he already knows she wouldn't appreciate it if he took the time to move a pillow there. It's still hard to watch, hard to *feel* as each impact against the mattress shakes her against him just a little, just enough to make things better for her, *more* for her --

The flex and clench of her muscles is arrhythmic now, involuntary, and the sounds she makes --

The sounds are shamelessly loud, *open* things, and their neighbors tend to give Clark very, very dirty looks, and at moments like these -- he doesn't care. He *can't* care. For this to please her as much as it does, for this power and freedom and *pleasure* --

"I never want to pull out of you, Lois, I never want to *stop* --"

And the groan sounds like his name wedded to a curse, and she's clawing Clark's shoulders again, tossing her head --

Would Bruce be so abandoned? Could the two of them ever be together *enough* that the trust was so great? Would he want --

She growls his name again, seems to almost *choke* on the sound, her own breath --

"*Yes*, Lois, I love you, I won't *stop* --"

And Lois is rigid in his arms, shouting and growing even more tense, even more *hard* --

And her orgasm rocks him with a wave of scent, a rush of *sensation* as she shakes and gasps, croons and punches him nearly hard enough to hurt herself. For this --

He rolls them again, holding her hips still for his thrusts as she slumps. Her eyes are closed and her mouth is open -- she licks her lips and struggles against his hold --

She smiles, broad and lazy, and holds on to Clark's shoulders --

"Good *boy*..."

Harder now, because she's so slick, flexing open with every breath and clenching *tight* -- The sounds are wet things, obscene and as beautiful as the dark fall of her hair, as the way her lipstick is smudged around her wet, red lips. And when she opens her eyes --

When she smiles even wider -- "You know what I *want*, Smallville."

"Oh -- anything. Everything. Lois --"

"Come for me. Come *in* me. And I'll think about forgiving you for leaving me *alone* --"

"Lois, I --" Always so difficult not to squeeze too tightly, to keep himself from thinking about how her eyes would flare if he ever bruised *accidentally* --

"That's it, Clark. That's -- mmm. My great big country-boy..."

Always hers, always --

"My loving husband," she says, sighing and smiling wider, licking her lips again as if Clark is the most appetizing meal she's ever seen, as if there's nothing in the world she wants more than *this* --

"Lois, I -- oh, I love you, I love you so much --"

"Let me *feel* it, Clark --"

"Lois, please --"

"*Do* it," she says, and perhaps marriage means only this: to know, with all of oneself, that the best thing to do -- the *only* thing to do -- is to give in to the coiling knot of pleasure and *thrust* until the woman you love more than anything else closes her eyes and *shouts* --

He's hurting her, just a little now. She'll be raw inside for a few days -- but will only *feel* it for a little less than a day.

She --

She will --

"Oh, that's just right, Clark, just -- *mmm*..."

And the only thing to do is watch her pleasure, the satisfaction she takes in his own, as if the fact that he could easily please himself without hurting her is irrelevant, or something less than that, something *lower* --

Bruce's hands twined with his own, squeezing --

Dick biting his lip with a smile, always a *smile* --

"Stop holding yourself *back* --"

"*Lois*," and it sounds like he's protesting because he is, because he only wants this moment to last, this fire and *sweetness* --


He gives in, finally and utterly, releasing his internal controls until --
Until --

It's always the warmth that brings him through, the sense that the whole world is no colder than he is, than the rush of blood within him and the *rush*, stuttered and wonderful, perfect -- "*Lois* --"

And the growl of it makes her shudder around him, *clench* enough that the orgasm seems to last just that slightest bit longer, brings him that much closer to the best madness imaginable.

And then Clark lets himself gasp, lets the scent of the two of them together fill him, *drug* him until Lois digs her nails in against Clark's shoulders. He doesn't have to open his eyes to know that she's waiting for him.

He floats them down to the bed and prepares himself --

Lois shifts, wanting to move -- "I don't suppose I could convince you to let me stay inside you for just a little bit longer...?" He opens his eyes --

And her smile is small and fond and just a little tired. Hm.

He reaches up and brushes his fingertips over her cheek. "You've been working hard?"

"Nothing big," she says, and shoves a hand back through her hair, clearing tangles by the simple expedient of ripping them free.

He knows for a fact that she causes her stylist professional *despair* --

"I *may* have been pushing harder on smaller assignments to keep from thinking about you being a damned *teenager*."

Clark smiles ruefully and squeezes her hip lightly. "I suppose it's too much to hope that Bruce was keeping you informed?"

"Oh, he kept me informed. Every fucking twelve hours. 'No change, Lois,'" she says, and her growl isn't even close to Bruce's own, but --

He gets the gist. Clark strokes up to her shoulder and tugs, a little --

"Oh, and *now* you want your cuddles. What about *my* needs?"

Oh, that sounds like... "I'm very interested in them. But -- I thought you might be too... tired?"

"Too *sore* -- no, that is *never* a complaint, you lummox. But I wouldn't mind..." She taps his mouth.

"Your wish..." And yes, slowly enough that she laughs as she hits the bed, quickly enough that the discomfort of him pulling out is impossible for her to truly *feel* --

"Oh, that's -- I want your tongue *in* me, Clark -- *ah* --"

The taste of them together -- he has always been curious about this, wondering if the overwhelming flavor of Lois' female humanity would take something of the edge off his own for another person, if it would *only* taste human to someone else, someone...

Oh, someone like *Bruce*, and --

("You are so damned *cute* when you're being a pervert, honey.")

"What -- what were you *doing* out there in Gotham --"

Clark feels himself beginning to blush and does nothing to stop it. It's better to *feel* too warm for this, to nuzzle Lois and lick, *thrust* --

Lois laughs and gasps -- "Oh, *really* --"

Clark hums something like an admission --

"Oh -- ooh. Do that again --"

Of course, and it's telling that she doesn't just want him to lick her clitoris with the flat of his tongue until she comes, that she wants a little... misdirection. Clark spreads her wider --

"Oh, mmm. Any girls in that vacation of yours? Maybe -- mm, maybe that *Oracle*..."

She isn't supposed to know that Oracle is a woman, but --

"*Don't* tell me that's not -- not a woman. *Only* a woman would work that hard to disguise her fucking -- fucking *gender*, oh, *fuck* me --"

Oh -- absolutely. He shifts his hands until he can just tease her opening with his thumbs, press down on the swelling --

"Fuck, fuck, *fuck* --" And Lois may or may not drop a bill in the swear jar tomorrow, but if she does, she'll make sure he can *see* her do it. It's not that he hadn't been willing to compromise for the sake of sex -- for the pleasure she *takes* --

But Lois likes to curse for this, even more than she *needs* to. She likes the way he blushes, she likes playing the 'dirty old woman,' she likes --

"Oh, mmm, now I remember why -- why I *keep* you --"

Clark hums against her and pauses to nuzzle her clitoris, test its slick hardness, the raw *proof* of her arousal --

"Do it, just -- do me, you know what I *want* --"

One finger inside, not nearly as far as he'd like to go --

"Oh, you made me so *raw* --"

And his tongue, hard against her clitoris until she starts to shake, starts to --

"That -- *that*, and --"

And his thumb, rubbing her anus just so, teasing her, teasing them both --


It won't last. It never *lasts*, and so it can't possibly be wrong to use his speed to nuzzle the whole of her sex between licks, to paint himself with her, with both of them --

"Nn -- oh -- know what you're *doing* --"

Certainly, she would have her suspicions --

"Fucking -- oh -- *please*, Clark --"

Faster. *Harder*, and she's shaking constantly, now, thrusting up against his face until he has to use some of his speed just to follow her, just to --

"Always -- always so fucking *good* --"

Give her this, and everything else, anything she asks, and now he's losing the taste of her to the taste of his own saliva, the knowledge that he's painting *her*, marking her, however fleetingly --

Oh, sometimes she lets him suck her ring finger, test at the simple band with his *teeth* --

A moment to lick her inside, feel her and taste her --

"N-no. No, Clark --"

And back to her clitoris, and the sound of her hitching breaths, the feel of her hands as she reaches down to hold him by the hair --

The knowledge, deep and warm within him, that Tim had held him just that way to taste himself in Clark's mouth, that he'd needed to do it, and hadn't hesitated for even a moment. Oh, such --

He remembers thinking that his life must be as rich and full as anyone could want, but the reality of it is striking him all over again, working him like a strong hand, holding him close and loved --

Lois cries out sharply, nearly wails, desperate and lost to her own pleasure even as she *yanks* at Clark's hair. He can imagine her frightening other lovers, hurting them, even, but he can take everything she can give, and the fact that she wants him to...

He smiles as he licks, using the flat of his tongue until he feels her becoming a little too dry, then doing it just a little more gently until she yanks again, cries out once more --

And again, and again, the sounds getting higher and louder as her orgasm rolls through her. He presses with his thumb, not quite *in* --

Lois chokes and screams, sharp and high, and Clark keeps licking, the taste of her rising once more, the scent of her staggering, perfect...

And it doesn't last for nearly long enough before Lois pulls *hard* on Clark's hair and he really has to stop --

But he doesn't have to *move*, per se.

"*Jesus*, Smallville, if you *did* schtup any Bat-girls, I might have to get myself a fucking bodyguard."

Another blush, and Clark raises his head enough to let her see it. "I didn't -- ah. I only spent a brief time with Oracle, and I never got to see Batgirl."

Lois raises an eyebrow and pulls her knees up, planting her feet -- and tugging until Clark leaves the sweet humidity between her legs and lies beside her.

Clark sighs. "You never let me --"

"I'm sorry, Clark, but if you made me direct my comments to my own snatch, I'd have to kick you out of the bed again."

"Ah -- noted," Clark says, and rests a hand on her chest.

She hums and covers his hand with her own, pressing it hard against herself --

Her heart rate is still quite fast --

And then she drags Clark's hand to her breast and rolls onto her side. "Now. Who *did* you get up to?"

"Bruce. And -- Nightwing. And Robin."

"The not-quite-so-new-anymore Robin who turned you down flat when you invited him back to Metropolis?"

Well, yes, but... "It was more that he seemed to be... ah. Focused. On his mission, at the time." And on Conner -- Kon.

Lois' smile is deeply skeptical.

"All right, yes, he gave me the equivalent of a 'that's nice' and went back to ignoring me. But we... the two of us had the chance to talk -- mainly because Bruce refused to let me have any time alone the whole time I was in Gotham --"

Lois laughs and pets him --

"And we seemed to have -- we bonded, to at least some extent. He -- he's very..." Loving. Open, given opportunity and motivation. Distracting, ruthless, hints of sensuality heretofore *denied* in himself --


Ah. Clark smiles ruefully. "I really do hope that it wasn't just the fact that I was his age which made him... attracted."

Lois' laugh is a more of a hum than anything else. "If he didn't want Superman, don't *give* him Superman, husband o' mine."

Is that what he'd done? He hadn't really behaved any differently with Tim than he had with Dick when Dick was that age, and there were far fewer opportunities for that, but... no, of course it would be a mistake to treat Tim like Dick. The two of them -- the way they kiss him, make love to him...

Tim had been both desperate and sure, where Dick had been, at that age, both exuberant and curious.

Clark shakes his head. "I believe you have a very deadly point, Lois."

"I *always* do. And Nightwing...?"

Clark smiles and thinks of an arm around his shoulder, a pie used for purposes not originally intended... "I have reason to believe that Nightwing was quite taken with the idea of being older than me."

"Mm, got a little of his own back...?"

"I -- I wouldn't put it *that* way, Lois --"

"But that's the way I would put it, and we've already established that I'm smarter than you, Smallville," she says, and arches enough that her breast moves against Clark's palm.

"Oh, feel free to do that again --"

"Maybe some other time. The two of you have always been close. He was... hmm. Protective?"

Clark nods and brushes a ring around her aureole with his thumb. "Robin was more so, however."

"*Interesting*. How did that work?"

"As a theory," Clark says, and kisses the line of impatience that appears on Lois' forehead --

"Clark --"

"I really didn't have all that much *time*, Lois. And none of the experience which would've led to me asking the right questions --"

"Excuses are *deeply* unbecoming, Clark," and the hand on his wrist is a warning she doesn't actually *mean*, but...

All right. "As a *theory*, I believe Nightwing was more inclined to see me as the man I grew into, while Robin had no difficulty whatsoever with seeing me as a teenager -- and not very different from... Kon."

She frowns. "Conner's involved in this?"

"Did you know that he prefers Kon? *I* didn't. There's a lot I didn't know about him -- Robin briefly broke me out of confinement and had Kon meet us in a park so that the two of us could speak."

Lois squeezes Clark's wrist. "I know you haven't always been able to..." She sighs and her smile is wry. "I never had a problem understanding why *you* had problems with Conner. Kon. And all *I* have is a *sister*."

"It's still unforgivable. Robin helped me see that. And Kon himself did, as well."

"Mm. More Sunday dinners in Smallville, Smallville...?"

Clark smiles again and squeezes her breast lightly. "I think it might help. Of course, I'll be going on my own whenever I can."

"If I'd had a family like yours..." Lois laughs, softly and doesn't finish the thought.

She doesn't have to. If Lois had had a family like his own, she'd be an entirely different woman, and perhaps not the love of his life.

"So," she says, and rubs her cheek against the pillow a little. "Robin did a little social engineering -- in the middle of all that *bonding* -- and taught you a lesson while he was at it. I think I either like him or hate him."

Clark's turn to laugh. "It occurred to me that you'd feel that way, were you ever to spend time with him... socially."

"Was that a pause of 'I've thought about it, and I find the idea deeply intriguing,' or a pause of 'I've thought about it, and I find the idea *deeply* intriguing?'"

"I *hadn't* thought about it, but, I... well, yes. Perhaps the next time I invite him to Metropolis he'll be more interested in the idea."

"Mm. And you won't do *anything* to try to convince him, of course. Certainly not involving you fucking him stupid," she says, and shifts until she's resting her cheek on the hand she doesn't have wrapped around his wrist.

Hm. He can't see anything wrong, but -- "Is your cheek bothering you?"

"Superspit is *drying* on it, honey, but I can live with the trauma. *Bruce*."

"Who still found the time to inform you that I was still a teenager despite... well."


"Ah... I think he might have been *more* attracted to me as a teenager than he ever was... ever."

Lois blinks and purses her lips. "Oh... dear."

"Certainly, he was more inclined to do something *about* it than he ever was before."

"I... but. There *was* that time when the two of you had sex --"

"He was drugged. Hardly my finest hour," Clark says, sighing and twisting his wrist free so he can bring Lois' hand to his mouth.

"Hardly *his*. I -- wow," she says, and her laugh is a little troubled. "It would be one thing if the two of you had *been*... I always assumed --"

"Lois, I would have *told* you," and Clark squeezes her hand --

"Yes, I *know*, but I also know how close you and Bruce are, how much you *mean* to each other..." She looks wry again. "I understood. I *thought* I understood. He seriously never...? Until *now*?"

"He'd explicitly turned me down on a number of occasions. *This* time... he very explicitly made... ah. The first move."

Lois whistles and turns onto her back, giving Clark the opportunity to let his hand drag over her chest to her other -- neglected -- breast.

She looks down at his hand and snorts. "Oh, Clark."

"I'm merely trying to be fair, Lois."

"Uh, huh," she says, and turns to face him again. "What are you going to *do* about Bruce?"

Anything he can to get that *touch* again, that open-ness and want... "I'm... not entirely sure. I mean, I'd like to get the two of us to a point where we can be easy with each other, *love* each other freely, but I'm not sure it's possible. It's -- more frustrating than I ever imagined to finally *know* what it is that would make him *be* that way with me."

"You made *love*."

"Once -- no. Once when I could *tell* that was what we were doing. I think he was making love to me the whole time, though..." And Clark thinks about it. That first kiss, the feel of Bruce's gauntleted fingers inside him, so *strong*. The way he had *spoken* to Clark about things he never would've thought Bruce *would*, adult or teenager... And Lois is watching him. She seems troubled, but mostly patient -- which means she's troubled for his sake. Clark smiles ruefully. "I never did think anything would go *smoothly* with Bruce, Lois."

She nods, slowly, and covers the hand he has on her breast with her own. And then she smiles. "Now tell me *exactly* what you did."

Oh... yes.


Oracle takes the report of the red Kryptonite's location and immediately shunts the matter to the nearest hero -- and welcomes him back. He thanks her as warmly as the communicator will allow, and she accepts his thanks with a smiling 'you're welcome' which her voice scrambler turns to something blank and more than a little off-putting.

It's not as easy as he would like to ignore the echo -- especially when she cuts the communication with a simple, businesslike 'Oracle out.'

The truth is that he knows her no better now than he ever has, and the fact that she hadn't seemed especially interested in *getting* to know him when he was a teenager...

Well, the fact is itself, and perhaps she's simply not interested... period. It doesn't have to be a tragedy, for all that it feels a little like one. He only wants...

He only wants more. More than he has, and more than he has *taken* for himself. To that end, he invites John to play a game of chess with him, and asks to see some of his architectural designs. He shows Kyle an abandoned monastery in Tibet with some of the most breathtaking views he's ever seen, and promises to fly him there again if he ever needs Clark's speed in order to maximize his time there.

He *really* doesn't care for unnecessary fighting, but he takes Diana up on her offer of a spar, and they work each other until they're both sweating, until Diana is panting and they're both aroused. They make love in the Watchtower's gymnasium for a couple of wonderful hours, after which Diana looks at him much the way Lois tends to -- but then there are enemies to fight.

After *that*, he brings Wally to a rather excellent diner in Butte which gives the largest portions Clark has ever seen in his life and buys him a late -- very late -- dinner.

He makes love to Lois in the sky about Metropolis, high enough in the air that she never quite catches her breath. He makes love to her in their bed, and on their couch, and against their ceiling.

He visits Titans Tower, and watches what had begun as a casual and fun-looking game of volleyball become something very much like training. Starfire never meets his eyes without a glare and -- he leaves. Tim wasn't there.

He flies over Gotham far more than could ever be necessary, and Bruce never calls him, even to poke at him for being too -- present.

He brings Lois to Smallville for Sunday dinner, and takes a flight with Kon and Kara. They talk about their powers, and Clark offers what help he can. Kara has homework and begs off a longer flight, but Kon -- he calls him Kon assiduously -- decides to go with him.

It's clearly a *decision*, and Kon has not been subtle about watching Clark for cues and clues for the whole evening. He asks Kon to pick the destination -- if there's a destination he has in mind -- and Kon takes him to Hawaii, his first home. Kon leads them into the heart of a vast Pacific storm, and they find a fisherman who vastly appreciates being flown back out of it.

Clark remains quiet -- and what he hopes is inviting -- but Kon doesn't say much other than to ask him if he's all right 'after that whole wayback thing' and to jokingly offer to 'kick some ass' in Gotham if he wasn't treated well. Clark assures him that he was, and, after a while, Kon stops flying and merely looks down at the ocean rolling beneath them.

Clark hovers in front of him, and waits.


"Yes, Kon?"

"Heh, you... yeah, I like that you're calling me that, now."

Clark nods.

"But -- um. You know, you really don't have to... do this. Hang with me."

"I want to --"

Kon stops him with a look so skeptical...

He can't imagine ever looking quite like that, and he has to reach out. Touch, just a little. Feel the slightly cooler temperature of Kon's skin, the line of his jaw that's nothing like his own --

And now Kon looks more surprised than anything else. Clark smiles ruefully and lets his hand drop to his side.

"Tell me how to be a friend to you, Kon."

"Well -- uh. You're serious about this."

Clark nods and folds his hands together --

"You're *too* serious about this, actually. I think -- I mean -- oh, man, don't even listen to me --"

"Kon, please --"

"Heh, now you sound like *Tim*, only he never says *please*, but -- okay. Okay." Kon sighs gustily and scrubs a hand back over his hair. "Okay. Um. You're too serious. I mean, you invited us all for a flight, but you didn't even do any tricks or loops in the air, and so *I* couldn't exactly do any --"

Clark frowns. "Why not? You *love* to fly. It's -- it's something you've always had."

"Heh, right outta the tube, yeah," he says, and makes a swooping gesture -- that loops before it ends.

Clark smiles at Kon's hand. "When I was your age -- oh, dear, that's a terrible way to start a sentence --"

"Heh... well." Kon punches his arm cautiously. "It really was, but, you know, you can't always get past those reflexes right away."

Clark lets his smile become rueful. "I like that you're trying to be open with me, despite my apparent best efforts to -- I don't actually know what I'm doing."

"I kinda think...." Kon clutches his hands together, looks at them, looks at *Clark's* hands -- and snorts. "Oh man, talk about genetic freakin' legacies. Um -- anyway. I think you're maybe trying to... be my Dad...?"

Oh dear. Just -- really *not*, he can't, that could never *work* --

"Or, you know, maybe not, I'm just guessing here," Kon says, raising his hands --

Talking about the 'old days' in *that* way. Monitoring his schooling. *Scolding* him --

"It's... um. I'm sure it's something else --"

"It isn't," Clark says, sighing and flying up slightly farther so he can look down on -- oh, *hell*. He flies back down and shakes his head. It isn't anything else. "You're absolutely right, Kon, and I'm frankly not sure how to think about that."

"Well... uh.... it's not like it's a bad thing? Really? But it's gotta kind of get in the way of us being *buds*."

His father had stopped being his best friend when he was *four*. And -- he doesn't need Kon to be his best friend. That position is filled by the most difficult and frustrating and disturbing --

That position is filled. It's just that...

"Kon, I -- I'm in no way *qualified* to be a parent to you. I -- that's *why* I wanted you to move in with *my* parents." Isn't it? Yes, it is, and there were other reasons, too, perfectly good *reasons* that had nothing whatsoever to do with getting Kon to be *Conner* and stay in one safe place where Clark would only ever have to see him on his own terms. Clark covers his face with his hands.

"Uh -- Clark? You... it's okay, man, it really is. I mean, other heroes probably have to deal with this kind of thing with *their*... well, I'm no one's sidekick, but --"

"Kon --" No, he has to look at Kon for this. He moves his hands -- "It's not... it would've been one thing if I wanted you to be my son, but I think... I fear that I was only treating you that way because it was the easiest thing I could think of."

"Oh. Well." Kon stares down at the ocean and flies just that slightest amount *away* --

"Kon, please don't --"

"Hey, you know, sometimes you *have* to take the easy way out, because there aren't any other real options, or options that you want to take. You know?"

He's not *looking* at Clark, anymore, and that... Clark closes the distance between them and rests his hands on Kon's shoulders. "You're a wonderful person, a valuable and important hero, and -- and I've been... small. The *best* I can say is that I've been small."

"Hey, no, Clark, don't do that --"

"Listen to me, just for -- just for another moment. Please?"

"I -- sure, Clark. I'm listening."

"You mustn't ever think... the problems I've had with you ultimately have nothing -- *nothing* -- to do with who you are as a person."

"I -- no one ever actually *wants* a clone of themselves running around, I *get* that --"

"Please don't talk about yourself that way, Kon. Please don't ever think..." Clark frowns and thinks about pulling Kon into a hug... but that would have far more to do with his needs than with Kon's own. "Your name... you *are* a gift, not just to the house of El, but to the entire world."

Kon blushes hard. "Jesus, Clark, you really *don't* have to --"

"The way Tim feels about you... did you know that he took Batman to task for not speaking of you with enough respect?"

"Man, I *knew* that guy hated me -- oh... dude. Really? Tim -- Tim has to work with Batman all the *time*. Oh, man, is he *okay*?"

Is he? He has other things to deal with when it comes to Bruce, and... "I think so. We haven't spoken since I've been -- ah, cured."

"Yeah, he had a lot of stuff to do in Gotham this past weekend according to the e-mail he sent me... um. You and Tim spent a lot of time together? When you were my age?"

Clark smiles ruefully again and squeezes Kon's shoulders. "Not enough. I -- you have excellent taste in best friends."

Kon grins. "Yeah, I know, right? Tim's the best. And just -- well, you know, being his friend is the best, because I know if *he* thinks I'm worth spending time with, it doesn't really matter... um. You know. Never mind."

"It doesn't really matter if I treat you like more of a curse than a gift?"

"I -- really didn't say that, Clark --"

"You really didn't have to. I'd like... I don't deserve the chance to start over with you, but I'd like to have it, just the same. I'd like to know what you find special about this part of the world, and I'd like to show you the areas *I* find special. I'd like you to show me what you did for Batgirl in the clouds, and I... well. What do *you* want?"

"I..." Kon frowns and reaches up to grip Clark's wrists. It feels like another tragedy that Clark doesn't know if his grip is any stronger than the last time they'd seen each other, that this part of Kon -- and so many others -- are a mystery.

"Please tell me, Kon... and -- should I let go?"

"No, it's okay, I'm fine, I'm just -- thinking. I do that sometimes, heh."

Clark nods and squeezes Kon's shoulders --

"Okay... okay. Maybe... ease back on the parental throttle? I don't really need -- I never had parents, and *getting* them at this point in my life..." Kon shakes his head. "I know it's important to you and people like you, but I'm a *clone*. Sometimes it makes me feel bad, but most of the time? I'm just fine with it. I *like* it, it makes me different, and that's kind of cool."

Oh, that's... "Thank you, Kon. Thank you for sharing that."

"Yeah, well... Tim worked *hard* to beat that into me, and if you tell him he finally managed it he'll be too smug to *cope* with, so, you know, keep it between us?"

"I'd be honored to share your secrets, Kon."

"Heh, okay. Another thing -- just... be cool. I mean, I know you have to spend a lot of time being all -- *earnest*, that it's part of your cover and everything --"

"I believe I may also be pretty... earnest just in general, Kon."

"*You* know what I mean. You're not always 'Clark Kent, Dorkmaster Supreme' with Lois, or even your *parents*. I *know* there's a Clark in there who doesn't have anything to *do* with that, okay? The fact that I don't get to see it... well, I've been living with that for *years*, now, but if you want things to change...."

Clark smiles again. "You're right, I *haven't* been giving... all of myself. Some people... do you ever find it difficult to *be* yourself, Kon?"

"Uh... no? It's way more difficult to try to be Conner freaking *Kent*, Clark. Just,  you know, so you know."


"Oh, hell, that came out wrong. Look, I know you did this so I could have a normal life, and I'm grateful --"

"You've never wanted a normal life. Have you?"

"Well... *no*. Or -- the heroing stuff, being a Titan... that *is* my normal life, and it always has been."

It's... it's hard. Kon is telling him nothing but the truth, and it makes *sense*, given everything else, but giving Kon the identity of Conner Kent, bringing him back to Smallville... he'd been trying to do something good for him, trying to make things *better*.

It's just that he'd done it without even telling Kon about it ahead of time, much less *asking*.

"I -- I'm sorry, Kon. I'm sorry for all of this."

"Clark --"

"I... all I can say is that there may come a day when having the identity of Conner Kent could be *useful* to you. You may decide you want a civilian career, or a civilian lover, a partner... who, of course, you'd want to know everything about you." Clark laughs softly. "I really didn't *think*."

And Kon... looks uncomfortable. *Deeply* uncomfortable, and Clark thinks he understands that, too. How would he feel in Kon's position, forced to admit that a gift given to him by his progenitor, the man who's supposed to be his *mentor*...

"It's *not* your fault, Kon. Please don't ever think that. You are who you are, and it's certainly not wrong that you can't just pick up stakes and be someone else." He squeezes Kon once more. "All right?"

Kon nods slowly, watching Clark's face... is this how Bruce feels every time he realizes anew the *limits* Tim has placed on his trust?

Clark sighs internally and releases Kon, fighting against the urge to clench his hands into fists, however loosely. His palms will just have to be cold.

"So... um." Kon flies up several feet and back down again, smiling shyly and pointing to a large cloud.

Clark smiles back and gestures for Kon to lead the way -- and then just watches Kon take off into the deep sky, fast and sure and so obviously pleased -- pleasured by the feel of the wind, the fact of flight --

Yes, *this*.


"Claaaark. Clark, you've gotta come see me. I still have the image of you wandering around in my clothes stuck in my head, and --"

Clark flies into Dick's apartment fast enough to make papers rattle -- and to ruffle Dick's hair. Dick has his eyes closed, and a smile on his face --

"There you are," he says, and opens his eyes, turning his smile into something dazzling and beautiful.

"Here I am," Clark says, and cups Dick's face for just long enough for Dick to feel it, acknowledge it with a lazier, sharper smile...

He lets Dick catch his hands, and sighs at the feel of him kissing the fingers of both hands. "Clark. How *are* you?"

"Better now -- not that I was in any way, ah, bad?" He raises an eyebrow --

Dick raises both of his and tugs them back toward his couch. "Sit down, stay a while -- can you?"

Clark listens -- most of the terrible things he can hear are being handled by other heroes -- civilian and otherwise. The earth itself is quiet, and there doesn't seem to be anything happening around the Watchtower. "I can."

Another dazzling smile -- and Dick doesn't sit so much as he lets himself fall back on the couch, throwing one leg over the back. "So how did it happen? The change?"

Clark waves a hand. "I felt a little strange, enough to wonder if I was in some way allergic to something in Alfred's excellent risotto, and then I was slamming against the top of the Cave, and then my memories came back in a flood. Sometime before I hit the stone, once more --"

"Yeah, you can see the scars on the stone," Dick says, wincing --

"It didn't precisely *hurt*, but... yes. The next thing I knew I was myself again, and remembering where the red Kryptonite in question was."

Dick nods and pokes Clark's chest with one bare, graceful foot. "And then you hightailed it back to Lois, who I'm absolutely sure was thrilled to see you."

Clark lets himself blush and rubs his upper lip, looks up at Dick through his lashes. "You might say that, yes."

"Oh, I do, I *do*. Have I mentioned how much I love the fact that you're married, Clark?"

Clark raises an eyebrow. "I don't believe you ever have in so many words, no, Dick."

"I'm serious -- you're *Superman*, and yet you have the full complement of a normal life. An apartment without too many secret compartments, a beautiful wife who doesn't just know what you *do*, but who has her own civilian life *with* you..." Dick shakes his head. "You're proof that the holy grail *exists*, Clark."

Clark smiles. "I don't believe I ever thought of it that way, but... yes. I'm very fortunate."

Dick sighs and stretches casually, resting his legs on Clark's lap. "Man, I -- is it wrong that I feel so *good* about the fact that you *had* to spend some quality time with all of us? I honestly couldn't wait to get back to the Cave and see you, maybe play with you, maybe *play* with you a lot..." Dick laughs. "Give it to me straight -- am I a terrible person?"

"Oh, reprehensible," Clark says, and gives himself leave to massage Dick's feet a little --

"Ooh --"

"And you're a terrible, terrible friend --"

"God, *yes*, and -- I don't know how you put up with me."

"Constant hardship. Really, I think of it as something like a penance," and Clark finds the pressure points easily --

"Nrgh. Flibble. Jesus, Clark, if I lose any more tension I will be a *puddle*. Nightwing is *not supposed to be a puddle*."

"I'm sure I can borrow a wet-vac from one of your neighbors," Clark says, and... there.

"Ooh *God*, it's been *forever* since anyone -- and man, you should've *seen* what a mess I was the first time Bruce did it to *me*."

Bruce. Dick... "I... can imagine, I think."

And Dick -- winces. Beautifully, but it's still a wince.

"Dick --"

Dick tugs his feet out of Clark's lap and sits up. "Oh, do we ever need to talk about that. Wow, like... deep-seated needs here. Needing. Happening." Dick covers his face with his hands, *scrubs* at his face --

"Dick, it's really all right. I mean, yes, I *do* want to talk about... that, but it can wait."

Dick groans and pulls his knees up -- flips back over the arm of the couch and starts pacing, still with his hands over his face. "Oh -- God."

"Dick --"

"No, I actually -- okay, *part* of me wanted to call you *because* we needed to talk about -- that. The rest of me just wanted to see you looking like *you*. And maybe -- I bought a pie."

Following that... the trick, with Dick, is the same as it has ever been: seize on one thing and hold on to it for dear life. "A pie?"

"It's -- um. Peach? I think it also said something about lemon zest. Sure, it's store-bought, but it's a really *good* bakery. Organic ingredients, lots of stars," he says, leaping over an end table and continuing to pace.

"You might consider removing your hands --" No, focus on one thing. "Did you want to eat the pie with me?"

"Yes, I absolutely *did*," Dick says, and moves his hands into --

It seems to be a mime of eating the pie, but it also seems to be a lot more sexual than that. They'd done terrible, wonderful things with the pie Alfred had made for them, and it's certainly tempting.

"It's just that I think -- I can't handle the pie."

"You --" Clark tries not to frown. "You... the pie is too much for you?"

"Not the pie qua pie, per *se*," and Dick leaps onto the arm of the couch nearest to Clark.

Clark looks up. "The... perhaps the implications of the pie?"

"*Yes*, that's it exactly," Dick says, and walks across Clark's thighs before settling back into -- more or less -- the same position he was in to start. He crosses his ankles on Clark's lap. "Got it in one."

Got *what*? "Dick -- ah. Perhaps you could...? Something?"

"Hmm? Oh, yeah, making sense. I feel like I made a big, bad, *big* mistake -- pushing for that threesome. God, we had a *threesome*. With *Bruce*. The last time I did anything like that, it was Kory and *Jason*, and that was kind of mind-blowing, but -- oh, that looked like you were getting lost in the images. Heh."

"Ah -- well. I wish I'd been paying *attention*, Dick."

"It *was* pretty hot -- and I think you were off-planet at the time," Dick says, wiggling his toes. I honestly think... I think there's probably something *wrong* with the fact that I never felt closer to Jason than when Kory was riding him to *glory*, but..."

Clark tries -- no, he doesn't try. The images in his mind are beautiful, warm things. "I was never... Jason was never particularly interested in my company, but I'm glad the two of you were able to... ah."

"Connect?" Dick snickers and sighs. "Yeah, it was... Kory *always* wanted the two of us to spread our love *around*, as it were and *indeed*. Sometimes I regret not listening to her more."

Clark nods and rests his hand on Dick's crossed ankles. "With Bruce and I... it was far more complicated."

"God, yes. Just -- I have no *idea* how I'm supposed to work closely with Bruce, now, and I never thought... well, that's just it. I never *thought* about this."

Clark raises an eyebrow as gently as he can.

Dick laughs again, and it sounds -- tired. "Or, to put it more accurately, I never really thought about what would come *after* that. I mean, I pushed him so *hard*, Clark. Hell, I pushed *you*, and -- hell, *are* you okay about that? You weren't exactly having the easiest time of it."

Clark squeezes Dick's ankles. "The hardest part of it, by far, was knowing how much you were hurting."

"Oh... Clark," Dick says, and sighs. "I just... part of me never thought he would do it, I think? I expected him to shut me *down*, the way he did the one time I ever... I never told you that I kissed him once, when I was oh... about sixteen. Fifteen years, eight months, nine days."

Clark winces. "I -- I'd always assumed that there'd been... something of that sort."

Dick nods. "It had to be obvious, I think. And it wasn't that he was *cruel* about it. He just explained to me that it was inappropriate, that it wouldn't happen again, that sometimes our desires --"

"'Have nothing whatsoever to do with what's best, or needed.'"

Dick -- freezes. "Jesus, Clark. He -- he gave that speech to *you*?"

"I'm paraphrasing, but... yes."

Dick whistles and lets his head fall back against the arm of the couch. "Jesus. So how are *you* coping with the fact that Bruce -- changed his mind? Took a vacation from the Bat? Generally did a *lot* of non-Bruce-like *things*?" Dick looks up again, openly, honestly *questioning* --

Clark sighs and shakes his head. "I'm still not sure what I'm going to say to him, when the time comes. I wish... I think, in the end, we truly *changed* our relationship --"

"Well, *yeah* --"

"And I think -- I *think* it's for the better. It *feels* like it's so much better, like it *could* be, even if we never made love again --"

"*Yes*, that's it, that's it right *there*," Dick says, sitting up again and wrapping his arms around his knees. "But what the *hell* does Bruce think?"

Clark smiles wryly --

"Yeah, really. God, can we make Tim ask? He *likes* Tim. Tim *never* tries to get in his pants or get a damned hug or -- anything *like* that --"

Oh... dear. "Ah -- I believe Tim is having his own difficulties with Bruce, at the moment."

"What -- what does *that* mean? What the hell happened *there*? I mean, Tim's never been the most trusting of little Robins, and he's had *issues* with Bruce, but -- I thought things were mostly okay?"

Is it his secret to tell? Could anything like that *be* a secret with the lives they all lead, the tangle of their relationships?

"Clark --"

"Ah... as it happens --" No, that's a terrible way to start the sentence.

And Dick is looking at him *impatiently*. All right.

"Bruce... admitted to being attracted to Tim. I'm honestly not sure *how* they managed to communicate that, being as how they were *sparring* at the time, *brutally* --"

"Jesus. Jesus. All those little comments about you and Tim... were Bruce's way of trying to... oh, *Jesus*. Do you think -- did he only -- was he only with me because Tim wouldn't -- or --"

"Dick --"

Dick swings his legs over the couch and stands up and -- doesn't pace. He's still, all over, tensed enough that it seems impossible that he could *remain* so still without pain --

"Dick, I think -- no. I was *there*, with both you and Bruce. Whatever he was *thinking*, he wanted you badly. Your reactions, the way they made *him* react --"

"Clark, you really don't have to -- and you *shouldn't* --"

Less than a moment to stand and take Dick's shoulders in his hands -- no, his jaw, to make Dick *face* him. His eyes are so very bleak under the blue, but still *hopeful*. "Dick, I was too young to understand all of what I was seeing and sensing, but I remember everything with perfect clarity. I promise you."

Dick opens his mouth -- closes it again. And nods. "What *happened*, Clark? I mean, okay, they were sparring, Bruce pinned Tim and -- what? Kissed him?"

"Not -- at the time. I had to convince them -- I *believed* that I had to convince them not to just ignore their attraction to each other --"

"*Tim* is attracted? But he doesn't even *trust* Bruce a lot of the time --"

"His attraction seems to have a lot of fear tangled in it... I. I'm not sure how much of that I should tell you, as opposed to leaving it to Tim to share with you." The two of you have more than a little to talk about which has nothing whatsoever to *do* with Bruce, he tries to say with his eyes, with the pressure on Dick's jaw --

"Yeah, I -- God. The last time I talked to Tim I was blurting out what happened with you and Bruce and generally not paying attention to *anything* he might have been feeling or even *saying*. Jesus, what a thing to lay on the kid --"

"He's hardly a child, Dick. And... I know how very important you are to him."

"He... he talked about that?"

Clark nods.

"My little brother. Just the best..." Dick sighs and twists away from Clark easily, gracefully -- he sits back down. "You know, it's not that Bruce and I *didn't* talk a little after you were down for the count -- and can I just say that it satisfied something small and *important* inside me to be a part of wearing *you* out, for once?"

Clark smiles ruefully and sits back down beside Dick. "I -- imagine so. What did you and Bruce talk *about*?"

"He asked me about the 'haven, if I thought I was making progress. I talked a little about my long-term projects..." Dick waves a hand. "He asked me if I was all right. It seemed to really... he had a hard time getting that out."

Clark nods. "The next morning... he seemed to want to talk to me about the doubts he felt with regards to his own desires, about acting on them... I was in no position to give him what he needed."

"Yeah, but what about what *you* needed?"

"At the time..." Clark smiles and covers one of Dick's hands with his own. "At the time I was somewhat replete. For all that you seemed so hard on yourself, so careful not to lose control... it... eased something in me to see you make love with Bruce."

"Is that what we did? No -- no. We did. I just... tried not to. I was trying not to *lose* it, Clark, not to beg Bruce to tell me he loved me, that he would never let me *go*... you know what the hell of it is?"

"Tell me."

"I'm not even sure what I *want* from Bruce right now, other than acknowledgment that we can't go on the same way we've *been* going."

Clark nods. "I feel... pretty much entirely the same way."

"And -- he's never going to pick up the phone and call me about it."

"Or call my name the next time he has a few moments to speak."

Dick smiles ruefully. "Are you *sure* we can't get Tim to do this? He'd be so *good*. Make up a whole powerpoint presentation, little bullets for the individual thoughts and moments of Bruce, what the *fuck*. He might even wear a suit. He looks really *good* in suits, you know."

"It does seem like he'd wear them well, for all that he doesn't seem averse to casual wear."

"Heh. He wears t-shirts like Bruce wears disguises, Clark," Dick says, twisting his hand so he can squeeze Clark's own. "Spend a little more time with him and you'll learn."

"I do hope we get the chance to. I -- he took us to a park outside of the city. He'd arranged to introduce me to Kon --"

Dick whistles again. "Sneaky little brother."

"We -- after Kon left, we made love right there, in the woods..." Clark sighs. "He tried very hard to ignore his desires, and it just made me... I *believe* I'd have more control now, but I have my doubts."

"Oh... wow. You and Tim -- and it was his first time?"

Clark nods.

"Of course, it wasn't like *you* were all that experienced at the time --"

"I did have a lot of memories -- and ah. Enthusiasm."

Dick snickers. "Oh yeah, no one *enthuses* like you, Clark. You blew his little mind?"

Clark rubs his upper lip again and smiles. "I did my best."

"And *then* he brought you back to the Cave and had a really *interesting* spar with Bruce -- damn, he has to be going a little crazy, even if nothing *did* happen with Bruce --"

"Ah -- something happened. Somewhat. Tim left before we could all..." Clark gives up and tries waving a hand --

And Dick nods as if that explains absolutely everything. "He definitely must be going crazy. I really *can't* go see him tonight --" He squeezes Clark's hand again. "Seriously, he knows Bruce *wants* him, he's not sure how he feels about that, and also he just lost his virginity to *Superman* --"

"I wasn't very Super at the time, Dick --"

"Go see him for me? Tell him -- tell him that I'm going to come see him as soon as I *can*, and we'll talk about more than just my giant issues."

You could *call* -- but, no, that's never been Dick's way. It's never been the way of *any* member of Dick's family, but it's still different for Dick. He won't feel satisfied until he can *touch* Tim, and hold him --

And he remembers, sharp and devastating, the image he'd gotten of Tim touching himself while Dick was there to see it, encourage it and *touch* --

And it leads relentlessly to the memory of his taste, the faint salt of him, the feel of him licking the taste of himself out of Clark's mouth, the sight of him opening his pants against that tree, opening *himself* --

"Whoa, *you* just went to a happy place."

"I -- hmm. I was already planning to -- I was hoping Tim would call me."

"Because of *course* it's not enough that he gave it up for you and -- man, that just has a lot of images attached to it. Wow, I --" Dick blinks and shakes his head roughly. "Anyway, it's not enough that he already was *incredibly* brave for a kid so shy he still blushes when he *thinks* about cursing -- I have *seen* this for myself --"

"He might have had other reasons *to* blush, Dick --"

Dick waves a hand. "Go to him. If you *must*, tell him that it's *just* for me, and that you would *never ever ever* think about pressuring him or pushing him, but yes, by the way, you enjoyed yourself *immensely* and you hope you can enjoy yourself with Tim again *really* soon."

"Dick --"

"*Do* it, Clark. For me? Because we're going to have a lot to talk about, and I want to skip past the part where I have to reassure him that you *really* find him attractive, yes, even now that you're not fifteen."

Clark blinks. "You don't really believe he would --"

"Yes, I really do. Because *I* used to be the Robin who wanted into your tights, *Clark*."

"He really never seemed interested in *me*, Dick. I don't think... he never really said that he was attracted to me as an adult --"

"Well, did you *ask*?"

Clark smiles ruefully and -- gives up. Pulling Dick half onto his lap and into a hug is the best possible use of his time in this moment, if only because he's never been able to *win* with Dick, not for things like this --

He's never wanted victories like those.

"I'll go," he says, while Dick is still laughing against his shoulder.

Dick squeezes him hard and pulls back just enough to kiss Clark, slowly and seriously.

Clark cups his face and kisses him back, allowing himself fleeting images of peaches and sugar -- if he concentrates, he'll be able to smell the pie.

There are better things to smell.

After a time -- never long enough -- Dick pulls out of the kiss and hugs Clark again. He's definitely not ready for the -- pie.

And he won't be until after he speaks with Bruce, however that winds up progressing. It's a regret, but only a small one -- Dick will always be his friend.


Clark pauses over Gotham, but both Bruce and Tim are readying themselves for patrol -- miles apart.

In a moment of purest coincidence, Tim is gluing down his domino at the same moment Bruce is pulling the cowl over his -- blank -- features. Tim sighs and moves into a kata on the roof of his parents' brownstone. Bruce moves for the car.

Clark flies.

The night is a quiet one. A few large fires -- none of which seem to be arson-related -- emergency repairs of a poorly-maintained cruise ship in the Caribbean, a few hours on the Watchtower filling in for J'onn, who has a troublesome case he doesn't want to take all his attention from, and then he can spend his time helping to rebuild flood breaks in Thailand, making them strong enough to see through -- hopefully -- much of the typhoon season.

Several villagers offer him a very large and healthy-looking ox for his trouble, and he gratefully refuses.

Lois is asleep when he gets back to their apartment, and she'd ordered him an artichoke and mushroom pizza from Papa Gino's.

He eats quietly, and then tests the *depth* of Lois' rest by stroking the fall of her hair against the pillow. Her snores begin to seem pointed, but she doesn't actually move into a shallower level of sleep.

He kisses her forehead and flies back to Gotham in time to see Bruce drop a young man with a large number of tattoos into a bleeding heap of himself. Bruce strides out of the alley --

Bruce pauses and looks *up* --

Bruce shakes his head, and mouths 'not tonight' at a patch of sky not especially far from the one Clark is occupying.

Clark sighs and looks for Tim, instead. He's wearing a pair of old sweatpants and working on his computer -- smiling. Clark looks closer and he's chatting with someone named Rollergrl57. Oracle? He has no idea whether or not he should interrupt --

Dick wants him there, and *he* wants -- badly.

Clark scans the rest of the apartment -- Tim's parents are sleeping. Everyone in the building *seems* to be asleep, but that's no reason not to be careful. He finds Tim's family's frequency on the communicator currently resting on Tim's desk. He calls it --

And Rollergrl57 tells Tim that Superman wants him. Definitely Oracle. Tim blushes and raises an eyebrow. Oracle asks him if he's going to pick up, and -- yes, when Clark looks, she's smiling.

Tim puts the comm in his ear. "Ah... Superman? What can I do for you."

"I was hoping we could speak," Clark says, and watches Tim wet his upper lip with the tip of his tongue, listens to his heart rate speed --

Oracle tells Tim that she'll speak to him later, looks up, and mouths 'be good,' before returning to, presumably, her work.

Clark lets himself blush and turns back to Tim, who is running his fingers over his keyboard restlessly without typing a single character -- "I... Robin. We don't have to right now. It's only --"

"No. No, I -- it's fine. I mean, I'd like to -- ah. Perhaps you should -- I'm not sure."

"We could go somewhere -- I could take you somewhere --"

"Yes, that would -- yes," Tim says, standing and moving to his window, opening it and the screen, as well.

Clark lifts him out gently and quickly, flying them up into the sky.

Tim gasps and seems to try to place himself against his surroundings, even though the only landmarks are clouds. Perhaps it's a reflex.


"Ah... Clark. Hi," he says, and smiles -- at Clark's jaw.

"Are you sure this is --"

"I'm sure. I..." Tim rests his hands on Clark's shoulders, takes a deep breath, and looks up. "Hi. Again. Where did you want to go...?"

To *bed*. "Well... did you have any preferences?"

Tim smiles, and it's small and shy and instantly familiar, instantly --

Clark doesn't kiss him, even when Tim curls his fingers against Clark's shoulders -- he's not leaning *in*. "We could... anywhere, Tim," Clark says, and suspects that was far too fervent.

Especially when Tim's blush gets deeper and he starts to look down, again -- this time, at Clark's mouth.

Oh --

"Pick somewhere, Clark. I'm afraid I'm... drawing something of a blank."

"Then -- a moment." Clark wraps Tim in his cape --

"Oh --"

The island is small and unpopulated by humans. It's technically a United States territory, but, as of yet, there hasn't been so much as a weapons test here. It's pure, for certain values of same, and the sun has only just set. Most importantly, it's warm enough that Tim shouldn't be uncomfortable... Clark takes a moment to smell the fleeting hints of Tim's scent on his cape before he lays it out on the sand. A bird exhorts them to leave *immediately*, judging by its tone, and everything else is the sound of the sea, the wind in the palms --

And Tim's brief, pleased laugh. "Beautiful," he says, and digs his toes into the sand.

"I'm glad you like it. It's... I've wanted to bring someone here for quite some time," Clark says, and takes Tim's hand in his own. "Sit with me?"

Tim nods and does so, stroking the cape with one hand once he's down, tilting his head back and closing his eyes. "There's no one here."

"Only the two of us, and some rather stunned wildlife," and Clark covers Tim's hand with his own.

Tim looks down at it for a long moment. "Clark..."

"I should say... I'd understand if you didn't want to... ah. I'm not sure I'm your... type?"

Another laugh, quiet and a little shocked. "Oh... that's not something. Um. You are," Tim says, and curls his fingers up under Clark's palm, strokes with his knuckles -- "Clark."

"Yes, Tim?"

"Is this... is this what you wanted to talk about?"

*Yes*. "One of the things, yes. There were... there were others. Dick wanted me to make sure you were all right, and to let you know that he plans to come see you himself as soon as he's able."

"Dick..." Tim wets his lip again and looks out at the ocean. "I'm not at all sure if I'm 'all right,' but it doesn't feel... I don't think I'm... troubled. Certainly not by you," and he smiles again.

Clark squeezes Tim's hand and reaches with his other to touch the corner of Tim's smile. "You fascinate me."

Tim blinks and his heart rate speeds a little more. "I don't. I'm not -- I'm really not all that *interesting*, Clark --"

"You're brave enough to stand up to Bruce, kind enough to think of others even when you feel terrible, sensual enough to enjoy the taste of yourself in someone else's mouth --"

"I -- oh, Clark --"

"And yet you're shy, unassuming, *often* frightened -- and you're willing to laugh at yourself. Your humor is dry and sometimes cruel, you find things pleasing which would bore or even horrify others, you... you're Robin."

"I. I don't know what to say. Right now," Tim says, and starts to tug his hand away --

Clark lets him, but gently -- as gently as he *can* -- turns Tim to face him. "I'm only saying the things I was thinking when I was fifteen and *confused*, Tim. I could never -- it frustrated me to only be able to say I liked you without being able to express why."

And Tim is looking down -- his breathing is rough, uneven. "I... I think I understand that feeling."

Clark sighs and presses his thumb against Tim's lip -- pauses. "May I?"

"Yes. I -- yes."

"Thank you," Clark says, and smiles as he strokes Tim's mouth. Slim lips, hard mouth. Not unlike Lois' really, though Lois prefers to disguise the harder lines of her mouth with lipstick, liner... "I've been thinking of you --" Clark laughs. "Perhaps that's clear?"

Tim smiles again, and it drags his lip against Clark's thumb. "I'm -- I think I'm getting the gist."

"Oh, good," Clark says, and leans in slowly. He can't keep himself from tugging Tim's lips apart with his thumb, but he can go *slowly* --

"Oh -- Clark, I --" Tim leans forward and kisses him, holding Clark's lower lip between his own -- sucking *hard* before pulling back to kiss him again, and again --

"Tim, you --"

"Sorry, I -- sorry, is it... wrong?"

"It's wonderful. You're making me... let me," Clark says, and waits --

"Yes -- yes. Mm --"

Clark kisses Tim slowly, and just a little hard, just hard *enough*, because Tim moans into Clark's mouth and reaches for him, fumbling until he can grip Clark's shoulders and hold *on*. Clark slips his tongue into Tim's mouth --

Tim makes a sound and pulls *back* --

Clark manages not to follow. "Tim?"

"You -- don't taste the same. As you did. Ah. Sorry, I was just surprised."

"You remembered the way I tasted?"

"I remember everything," Tim says --

"Oh, Tim. The things I want -- please. Tell me what *you* want."

"I'd like to. I enjoyed... sucking you. You were so... it felt like you *needed* me to suck you, and I... ah."

Clark smiles and thinks of Tim's mouth, Tim's tongue against him and Tim's hand wrapped around him -- "It was wonderful. It feels somehow problematic to speak of need for such things, but -- yes. I did need just that," Clark says, and kisses Tim again, just his lower lip, then his cheek, then the soft skin beneath his eyes.

"Oh. What do you... would you tell me what you need now?" And Tim squeezes Clark's shoulders and tilts his head back --

"This, for now. Your scent, your taste..." Clark licks Tim's throat and Tim jumps, parts his lips -- he doesn't gasp, but his breathing... "Would you..." Clark pushes, gently --

"You -- you'd like me to lay down?"

"Very much, but only if you don't mind...?"

Tim's smile is both rueful and wry. "I think you can tell how much I -- don't mind."

Clark looks down and smiles. "It's true that your physical responses are all clear to me, but that much was true... before. Knowing what you *want* is something else, entirely," he says, and strokes through Tim's hair --

Tim sighs, and Clark looks up and watches Tim's eyes narrow and his lips part, listens to the soft sound of it, a kind of gentle breaking... He strokes Tim's mouth with his other hand, even though there's nothing to soothe, nothing to *fix* --

Tim kisses his fingertips, closes his eyes and does it again, again... "Tim..."

Tim shakes his head and smiles once more before opening his eyes. "I'm hardly being mysterious."

"You don't think so...? I've *seen* you deny your desires and walk *away*, even though they must have been making you *ache*, Tim --"

"Those desires..." Tim shakes his head again. "They can hardly compare to -- this. You've done nothing but be -- my friend. You've given me nothing but pleasure --"

"Oh, that sounds... that's *precisely* what I want, your pleasure --"

"Ah -- then." Tim wraps his hand around Clark's wrist and squeezes once, hard enough that his knuckles show white --


"Just..." Tim tugs, and Clark lets his hand be moved -- down. Tim pauses at heart level and Clark presses there, lets his fingers splay --

"It's a touch, the rhythm of your heart. It feels like you're already moving for me, already..." Clark breathes deep, and the scent of Tim's arousal is musk, animal-sweet, *uncomplicated* --

It would be terrible to forget that the boy himself is anything *but*, and so Clark focuses, reads the small, soft smile on Tim's face as permission, the fact that he's closed his eyes again a small tragedy --

"Where else would you like me to touch you, Tim?"

Another squeeze -- does Tim want him to stop? Move more slowly? He's still sitting *up*, even though what tension Clark can see seems mild, and possibly only related to arousal.

"Or... please. We can do anything you wish."

"If... if you would... continue. I want... the feel of your hand, moving on me..."

"Oh, yes. That would be..." Clark smiles, and kisses Tim again so he can feel it, even though he can't see it.

"Clark -- mm, I --" Tim sucks Clark's tongue and pushes the hand not wrapped around Clark's wrist into his hair, rubs at Clark's scalp -- releases Clark's tongue and *opens* against Clark's mouth --

"You'd like to be... tasted?"

Tim shivers. "I -- if you --"

"The answer is yes, Tim. It's always -- I'll show you," Clark says, and this time when he pushes, Tim lies down, pulling one knee up until he can rest his bare foot on the sand. Clark wants to ask if Tim likes -- "I... do you like it here?"

"It feels a little like a dream, a story..." Tim smiles again and opens his eyes. "It's hard to believe that places like this exist outside of romance novels."

Clark raises an eyebrow. "Oh, are you *very* close to swooning?"

"I'll keep you posted," Tim says, and reaches up to touch Clark's face, stroke the line of his jaw --

Has he ever -- no, Clark knows he's never done this with Kon, never been *this* way, and he can't help but wonder if he's taking something which shouldn't ever belong to him -- a feeling he grew more than accustomed to with Dick. It's enough that he can have it, that Tim's here, and desires him...

Clark leans in and kisses Tim, deeply this time, and not especially slowly. Tim's moan makes Clark's skin feel alive and almost separate from the rest of himself, like something which could and perhaps should be soothed, quieted with a touch --

Tim wants to feel his hands, and that's absolutely possible, and wonderful. His skin is sleek and smooth save for where he's scarred, marked by the life he'd chosen, his unstinting heroism. The small, colorless hairs are a wonderful stroke against Clark's palms, his nipples are hard and tempting --

Clark pulls back and Tim gasps, opens his eyes wide --

"Clark --"

"Tell me... do you like to play with your own nipples? May I?"

"No. And -- yes. I mean. They're somewhat sensitive, but not enough to... ah. Make me divert my own... attentions."

Clark nods and rubs at one with his thumb. He's hovering on his side, slightly enough that Tim might not notice he's doing so. Just enough that he can continue to cradle the back of Tim's head in his palm, and watch...

Oh, *watch*. Tim isn't quite panting, but his breaths are shallow, relatively quick things as Clark rubs and strokes. He doesn't *close* his eyes again, but it seems that his eyelids are heavy things, slipping *nearly* closed even as Clark watches. His eyes...

His eyes are a blue that says nothing of the warmth he's capable of, and Clark wonders if Bruce is ever driven to change the look of them, to make the blue get lost in the black of desire, passion...

"What -- what are you thinking. Right now?"

Clark smiles ruefully. "I'm thinking about how lucky I am to be able to have this, with you."

And Tim looks... skeptical, which makes Clark wonder what *exactly* had been on his face...

No, he can't abide Tim's mistrust. Not here. "I was wondering what Bruce thought about when he looked at your eyes, Tim. If he wanted, like I do, to make them show only passion, abandon..."

The blush is far better than the skepticism, and Clark leans in to kiss it, feel it with his tongue -- Tim moans again and shifts --

He's arching his hips. Oh... "Tim --"

"I haven't -- I haven't decided. What I'm going to do about Bruce, now that I know... what I know."

Clark nods. "It's something... you should definitely take your time."

That gets him a very *sharp* smile. "But not with you?"

Clark smiles again. "I *am*... willing to wait. You shouldn't feel..." Clark moves his thumb from Tim's nipple and rests it against a small scar, instead. "The fact that I want to make love with you has nothing whatsoever to do with what you *should* do."

The smile on Tim's face gets softer and Tim closes his eyes again. "The difference between the teenager and the adult."

"I like to believe I've developed... patience, over the years."

Tim nods and tugs on Clark's wrist again. "You don't need your patience here. You -- you don't. I don't know exactly what I want, but I strongly suspect that I could be convinced in any number of directions."

("Oh, Clark, *please*, do what you *want* --")

Freedom, nearly absolute -- but he can't forget that Tim had wanted to feel his hands on him. All over him? Clark slides his hand down over Tim's abdomen and lets a finger slip beneath the waistband of Tim's sweatpants. Tim shivers again, opens his mouth --

"I -- yes. Yes, please --"

A moment to slip the loose pants off of Tim's body and set them aside, another just to *look* at Tim. It's not a loose-limbed sprawl by any stretch of the imagination, but Clark knows he could *make* it so, he knows *how* to make it so, and the lovely arch of Tim's penis is only a potential starting point.


"My hands, Tim. I..." Clark strokes Tim's legs, squeezes the lean, runner's thighs and pushes gently until Tim spreads them wide, planting his feet. "Beautiful. Would you tell me how my hands feel?"

Tim nods and licks his lips --

Clark catches the point of Tim's tongue against his fingertip and brings it to his own mouth.

"Oh, Clark. You..."

"I needed to feel your tongue again."

"I -- noted. Your hands... they're warm, of course. I have to keep telling myself that you're not ill, that *I'm* not ill. The size of them..." Tim laughs. "I'm reminded of Bruce, and I -- oh."

It may not have been the best time to cup Tim's hips and lift them, squeeze -- "If it helps, in any way, I wanted to do this with you before I saw Bruce do it."

Tim's exhale is shaky and he nods. "It feels. The power at your disposal makes me feel -- small. Containable. It's a little intimidating, something closer to... to what I always imagined when I thought about sex."

Clark presses his thumbs into the hollows of Tim's hips. "You always assumed you'd be afraid?"

Tim sits up on his elbows and opens his eyes again. "There's a difference between intimidation and fear, and while the line can become very thin in terms of -- *some* of my fantasies... I don't know. I think... I think, perhaps, I have a close enough relationship to fear to know it when I see it."

Far more of an answer than he'd expected and deeply satisfying. Clark strokes up Tim's sides to his shoulders, presses lightly against his throat with his thumbs, and imagines the three-dimensional representation of Tim within him becoming yet more solid, yet more real and part of *himself*.

"Oh, that feels -- I like the way that feels. Your thumbs --"

Clark presses harder and watches Tim lean his head back -- and then lie down, once more. It's a beautiful and terrible image, making Clark irrationally positive that Bruce will appear at any moment to Kryptonite him for daring to *assault* his partner. "I -- are you *sure*, Tim?"

Another sharp smile. "I'm reasonably sure you won't slip and strangle me to death. Superman."

"Oh, not --" Clark laughs. "I don't believe I've ever heard that name used quite that mockingly in a situation similar to this one."

Tim laughs, too -- and blushes again. "Sorry, I -- I've been told my sense of humor is rudimentary --"

"I love it," Clark says, and presses down with his thumbs --

Tim arches his hips again. "Oh... oh God, Clark --"

"It's really -- it's very difficult to look at you like *this*, Tim --"

"Then stop. I -- before I want you to do. More. Um." Tim tenses hard --

And it's necessary, vital to stroke him all over, long, *soothing* strokes --

"Oh -- oh, Clark, I -- I can't really separate the feelings to describe them when you move that quickly, move *me* --"

"It's all right. It's only -- I want you to only be comfortable --"

"A warm, moonlit beach and an extremely attractive man who seems to want to make love with me --"

Clark gathers Tim up against him and kisses him again, stroking his back and cupping one buttock, so very lean and hard -- wonderful when Tim moans and wraps his arms around Clark's neck, holds *on*. They're facing each other on their knees --

Clark sits back on his heels and urges Tim to come to him, to spread his legs over Clark's thighs and *press* against him --

Tim pulls back. "Clark, would you --"


Tim laughs. "Oh, I thought I'd have to work much harder to get you to put on that tutu."

Clark makes sure his blink is slow enough for Tim to see it.

It makes Tim smile *widely*, for the first time Clark has ever seen --

"Oh, beautiful, beautiful..." Clark kisses Tim the way he kisses Lois, a little harder than feels entirely comfortable to *him* --

It makes Tim *thrust* against him, grind and thrust *again*. Clark slides his other hand down to Tim's buttock and squeezes with both hands, spreads Tim just a *little* --

Another thrust and Tim pulls back and pants, turns his head --

"Please don't do that. Your breath --"

Another *moan* and Tim turns back, searches Clark's face, licks his lips --

Clark licks them, too, licks his way back into Tim's mouth, warm and wet for him, welcoming -- Clark pulls Tim against him, forcing Tim's hips to *only* grind, and Tim shakes and groans, sucks Clark's tongue and groans again, and the vibration makes Clark want to  -- "I'd like to lick you *everywhere*, Tim."

"I -- oh. I don't know if I could -- I think that would probably drive me. A little crazy, Clark."

"Would you tell me what you wanted before I... interrupted you?"

"You -- I. I mean. I'd like for you to be naked."

It only takes a moment, but it feels like much too long, and it feels like something quite large. Tim had been attracted to him as a gawky, gangling teenager, and while he shows no signs of finding his adult form displeasing --

"Oh. Clark..."

Tim is still on his knees, reaching for him... "Tim... I can't tell you what a relief it is that you still find me attractive."

"Your body is..." Tim licks his lips *again* and shakes his head. "You... I'm not sure how you don't know that you're perfect, but I'm willing to put the time in to convince you."

Clark smiles and moves close again, pulls Tim into his lap again -- "Sometimes -- only sometimes -- you remind me of Dick."

Tim blushes *intensely*, looks away...

"And I know -- I think I know why that would make you feel so shy, now, but -- I love the way you look at me, Tim."

He can see the smile almost hover at the corner of Tim's mouth -- he kisses Tim there, pulls back, and watches Tim turn to him once more.

"Oh... like that."

"I -- what do you see? In my expression."

"Desire, wonder... to have you look at me that way feels like a gift, Tim. Something to be enjoyed with great -- hm. Deliberation."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "That sounds... serious."

"Ah..." Clark cups Tim's hips and pulls them closer, close enough that for a moment he can feel nothing more important than Tim's hardness against his own.

"Oh... Clark, I..." Tim moves in his hands, grinds against him and -- nearly -- closes his eyes.

"You enjoy the way that feels."

"I -- very much. I'd like to -- I think I'd like to feel you thrusting against me."

"Then let me..." Clark holds Tim still and moves against him, slow and, yes, *seriously*, and he thinks the color in Tim's cheeks may be more of a flush now. His moan is a long, low thing, and after it's done he keeps his mouth open, perhaps tasting Clark's scent on the air the way Clark is tasting Tim's own. "Like this?"

"I -- yes. I mean. I think I'd want -- faster. After... not very long."

Clark nods and keeps moving, dragging against the length of Tim, his human warmth and desire. He's circumcised, like so many of the men Clark has been with. There have been times when Clark has wondered if his parents had wanted *him* to be circumcised, and had only stopped because his strength even as a baby would've been too suspicious. He's never asked.

It's enough to know -- *feel* -- that Tim likes the drag of his skin against him, that Tim is panting again, that the flush is flowing down his throat, over his lean, strong chest --

"In case... ah. In case you weren't sure, this *is* what I wanted when I invited you to Metropolis, Tim -- "

"I -- oh. You didn't. You didn't know me."

"I knew that you were a hero, that you had a brilliant mind and dedication to the work, that you were intriguingly *serious*, a leader in your own right."

"You -- you're making me feel a little *drugged*, Clark --"

"I assure you, none of my bodily fluids are psychotropic."

Tim laughs and then gasps, twice, when Clark begins thrusting *harder*, if not faster --

"It's true, though. You're right that I didn't know you *enough*. It would've been too shallow if I didn't know the things I know about you now. I would've been unsatisfied, jealous of those who *did* have the chance to know you, to make you smile, to hear you *joke*..."

Tim shakes his head and seems to be *trying* to say Clark's name --

"Oh, please tell me --"

"C-Clark. Faster, I -- I think I'm very. Close."

"Tim, *yes*, please --" Clark thrusts faster and Tim *grips* Clark's shoulders, eyes squeezed shut and body shuddering.

"Oh God. Oh -- oh that feels -- feels so --" Tim shakes his head and groans. "I can't describe -- just. So strong. So big and *hard* --"

"You made me *feel* large when I was with you before, Tim --"

"I know. I know I'm small, I just -- oh, fuck that *slide* --"

"No, it was your pleasure, *this*. You made me feel like I could do anything --"

"You *can* --"

Necessary to kiss him again, and keep kissing him even when Tim starts being too overcome to return them. He's moaning into Clark's mouth, shaking in his hands -- the sensation against his penis is so very sweet, so *perfect*.

He understands why Dick hasn't noticed Tim's love for him, *need* for him -- Clark *loves* Dick, but he can be blind to such things when they're not thrown in his *face*. What he *can't* understand is why Dick had never wanted to take this for his own, to touch his little brother, please him and make him loud. Clark pulls back --

"Oh -- no. I'm too loud, I can't stop moaning -- *please*, Clark --"

"I'm the only one who can hear you, Tim, and I want every word, every *sound* --"

And Tim is struggling against Clark's hold on him, and it's hard to be sure whether he's trying for more contact or trying to get *free*. "Tim --"

"Clark, I, please faster, harder, don't *stop* -- *oh* --"

Necessary, too, to lay Tim down on his cape and lift his legs around Clark's waist --

"*Clark* --"

Not slowly anymore, not *gently*. Not ever for Robin, who always has to struggle so hard, work himself so *hard*. Clark pushes Tim's shoulders down and holds them there while he thrusts, watching Tim toss his head and shake, frown and cry *out* --

And the splash of Tim's semen against Clark's penis and abdomen is wonderful, warm and *slick*. "Oh, Tim, so perfect like this, so beautiful..."

And Tim is punching the sand and gasping, eyes *squeezed* shut -- Clark stops thrusting and moves to Tim's side, leaning in to kiss his chest, to lick the stray spatters away, *taste*.

Just like he remembered, just as right on his tongue. There's a little more on Tim's penis, and Clark forces himself to lick it away quickly enough that the sensation won't be too much for Tim, then drags his fingers over his own abdomen and brings them to his lips --

Tim opens his eyes. "Oh... Clark."

The blue is almost lost, and Tim looks dazed with his own pleasure. Clark sucks his fingers clean and keeps watching Tim --

He narrows his eyes -- he's almost wincing.


"I -- that's. Incredibly sexy. Um."

Clark smiles and gathers more on his fingers before offering them to Tim, who smiles and turns on his side before gripping Clark's wrist and dragging it closer to his mouth, his red lips -- he'd bitten them.

He sucks Clark's fingers *deep* into his mouth and shivers once more before humming, licking and sucking --

"Let me see your eyes again, Tim..."

Tim opens them, and they still seem dazed, but now there's humor in them, and Clark -- he pulls his fingers free. "Tell me the joke...?"

"Ah -- just the idea that anything I could do could ever be as ludicrously affecting as... everything you do."

"I disagree," Clark says, and licks Tim's saliva from his fingers. "At the moment I'm feeling deeply affected."

He watches Tim look at his erection, watches the flush deepen -- Tim doesn't lick his lips again, but he does touch his tongue to his upper lip --

"Would you like to suck me again, Tim?"

"I -- yes. Yes, I really... I'm not sure. How much I can take."

And that -- it hits Clark *hard*, and comes attendant with a flood of images of being *inside* Tim, having him on his knees, his stomach -- he's not as flexible as Dick, but very few humans *are*. Tim could be on his back if he wished, he could let Clark *see*... Clark moans and grips himself, strokes once.

"Clark? Oh, that's --" Tim sits up and starts to move closer --

Clark covers him, thrusts against one long thigh --

"*Oh*, I -- I suppose I better start getting used to that --"

"Please do. Please... Tim."

"Would you... tell me what you were thinking?"

"Being inside you, making love to you *that* way..." Clark sighs and kisses Tim's forehead, *licks* beneath Tim's eyes, tastes salt and *wants*. "I am still patient. It's not something we have to do now, or ever --"

"I've. I've thought about -- it."

Clark feels himself tensing and deliberately relaxes as much as he can before pushing his face against Tim's throat. His pulse is rhythmic, pulsing deep *within* Clark --  "Tell me. Let me hear you."

"After you... after you left, and I -- it was hard to stop thinking about being in the woods with you, feeling you over me, like this -- I. I knew that it would be even more overwhelming, even more -- ah. Could you -- could I have more of your weight?"

"Tim," and lowering himself down feels a little like slipping into something -- no, not that, not *yet*, but Tim is moving beneath him, reaching for Clark's shoulders again, stroking them... "Tell me more..."

"It wasn't very... I wondered if I would be able to -- handle you. If it would hurt too much, or if you could stretch me *enough* -- mm --"

This kiss is much too hard, much too *much*. It's the way he kisses Lois when she curses him especially vividly, when she claws at his back and *squeezes* him --

Tim is pushing up against Clark, trying to give more attention to Clark's penis, and it feels like he's struggling for more, *fighting* for more -- Clark pulls back --

"No, please, kiss me again like that. That was -- you're going to make me hard again very *quickly* --"

And Tim moans into his mouth this time, wraps his arms around Clark's neck and holds on tightly, fervently -- he'd *thought* about having Clark inside himself, he'd wondered, wanted -- Clark pulls back again --

"Clark --"

"Were you touching yourself when you were thinking about me, Tim?"

"*Yes*, I -- for some reason I thought that would've been clear."

Clark laughs and it feels like he's giving himself something -- maybe both of them, by the way Tim is smiling.

"I do -- try to be clear."

"It's one of your most attractive traits. I... I wish I'd been watching you, then. I would have... oh, Tim, would you masturbate for me, sometime?"

"You'd... like to watch?"

"Oh, yes."

"Then -- yes. Or you could. Ah. It's fair to say I do it fairly *often*, Clark. I mean, you could... you're certainly capable..."

Oh... "Are you saying I'm welcome, Tim?"

"Always. I mean, it's not like I'm not under surveillance -- *oh*, that -- I. Didn't expect that -- bite."

Clark pulls back. "I'm sorry. It's just that you seemed -- your throat --"

"No, it's -- do it again. Please?"

Clark does, carefully. He's received no permission to mark, not like Bruce -- and the bruise seems to taunt him, teases him with memories, scents and sensation... Clark licks the bruise and sucks on it. Tim is already marked there, and he won't -- make it worse --

"Oh, that feels good. That feels -- Clark, I really -- ah, your *teeth* --"

("Oh, Clark, do you want to give me a *hickey*?")

"I mean, I -- your hands were amazing there, your thumbs, but I -- I think I might be very sensitive there. And I never imagined  -- God, *Clark* --"

Over Tim's throat in a ring, a *collar*, and Lois tends to find the sensation of Clark licking her throat more irritating than anything else, and Dick always laughed and urged him elsewhere, but there were others, and Tim is --

Tim moans when Clark bites the other side of his throat, scratches at Clark's shoulder when he sucks -- he shouldn't *mark* --

He pulls back and pants. "Tim. We should -- no. I'm very aroused."

"You were going to let me suck you --"

"You never have to *ask*, Tim, I..." Clark sits up and pulls Tim with him, revels in the slide of his penis against Tim's abdomen for a moment before cupping Tim's face and kissing him again, as deeply as seems remotely pleasurable, and Tim brings his hands down to Clark's sides and strokes, squeezes and rubs everywhere he can reach.

*Touch* me, he wants to say, but that would involve releasing this kiss long before he's ready to do so, and Tim doesn't seem to need direction for this. His palms seem rough compared to the rest of his skin, dry and harsh, punished and punishing things, hijacked, perhaps, for Clark's pleasure.

Tim seems almost to be *measuring* Clark with his hands, testing at every muscle of his back, reaching and scratching even as he breathes harshly through his nose while Clark *takes*.

And then he brings his hands back around and works them between their bodies, and squeezes Clark's nipples -- oh, he must be doing it as hard as he *can*, and the sensation is impossible to separate from the thrill, the pleasure of an aggressive lover.

Clark pushes Tim out of the kiss and forces himself to wait until his eyes are open. The blue is still almost absent, and his lips are even redder than before, slightly swollen, eminently tempting. "Do," Clark says, "what you *want*."

He watches Tim's eyes widen, and then they almost seem to flare from the inside -- Tim smiles and pushes Clark -- "Lie down?"

Clark smiles back and does so, deciding to ignore the usual feeling of slight ridiculousness which comes from being on his back and *this* erect --

Tim is *staring* at Clark's penis and rubbing Clark's thighs, pushing up between to cup Clark's sac --

"Let me feel your *strength*, Tim --"

"I -- I'm not going to question how much it could possibly matter, because... because you feel incredible in my hand and I --" Tim squeezes hard, pressing down with his thumb. Clark sits up and watches the muscles work in his arm, wincing inside at the small and fresh burn scar -- he'll have to remember that, *hold* to it as a reminder of how important it is to keep to his control.

For now -- for now there's pleasure, pressure and human power --

Would Bruce ever do this for him? Would he say anything while he did?

Tim is silent save for the harshness of his breathing, eyes tracking over Clark like a project, or perhaps an especially unruly Gotham neighborhood. Clark *has* watched Tim in action, seen his particular brand of brutal precision, his power and skill --

"Tim... Tim, please, more -- *oh* --" Short nails digging in against him, teasing him and making him *want*, and it's terrible when Tim lets go, but he only does it to move closer, to stroke Clark's chest and lean in, press himself down and *bite* Clark's nipple, make a sound somewhere between a growl and a hum.

Clark cups Tim's head and closes his eyes, reveling in the feeling, the sound Tim's jaw makes as he works it as hard as he can -- no, he has to touch, has to *feel* --

And Tim lunges to take Clark's fingers into his mouth again and claws at Clark's nipples, sucks and watches Clark as he -- oh. He's working his mouth on Clark's fingers, back and forth and back again -- "Your teeth, Tim --"

Dragging them against Clark's fingers and going down to the *knuckle* --

Tim moans and Clark thrusts -- too hard. Tim loses his balance -- gasps when Clark catches him, holds him --

Tim sucks *hard* on Clark's fingers and pulls back, bends down to kiss Clark again -- no, to bite Clark's lips. His eyes are still open and -- oh, he's biting his way over Clark's cheek to his ear, now, so hard, and Clark has to drag his slick fingers over Tim's face, *feel* the muscles working --

"Tim --"

"I think -- I wish I had something charming or at least sexy to whisper in your ear, but the only thing I can think of is how incredible you're making me feel, how much I love *touching* you --"

"Then please don't stop, please don't ever feel you *must* --"

"Clark, I..." Tim bites Clark's earlobe, and this time Clark manages to get a hold on Tim's hips before he bucks again.

Tim hums and sucks Clark there, breathes against him --

"I can't... I have to taste you, feel you... I wish we'd spent more time making love before so that I'd *know* what you like --"

"Everything you're doing --"

"Guide me when you're in my mouth, Clark, show me how Dick does it, or Lois, or..." Tim shakes his head and tries to move, but Clark has to clutch him for just a moment more, and Tim shifts to look at him. "Clark...?"

"The feel of you... like a blade of flesh in my hands, a weapon... you make me feel as though I could cut myself on you, lay myself open. Will you let me keep touching you even after I come, Tim?"

"I -- oh. I have to get home, Clark --"

"Just for a little while."

Tim smiles and touches Clark's face. "A little while... I'd have a hard time saying no to that."

Clark smiles back and releases Tim, and he immediately shifts to kneel between Clark's legs and take Clark in hand --

"You feel so perfect, Clark, I -- I'm honestly having a hard time imagining not wanting to touch you this way every time I *see* you --"

"Oh, I -- promise to let you know if it ever seems inappropriate --"

Tim laughs and bends down, breath puffing against the head just before Tim licks him there, moving his tongue in a rough circle and making Clark groan. "Clark, just this makes you -- oh, God, I think I *need* --"

Tim takes in the head and moans around him, muffled and faintly obscene, and Clark wants to know what he tastes like to Tim, if it's better or worse than when he was young, but he can't bring himself to say or do *anything* that might make Tim take his mouth away.

It's so cool around him, so wet and soothing even as it makes Clark feel like he's burning. Clark lets himself sweat for this, and Tim moans again, perhaps for the scent -- Tim begins to stroke as he sucks, slow and *hard*, and it's wonderful, but --

"Faster, please --"

Tim nods and does it, sucking even harder and -- oh, his teeth --

Clark closes his eyes and gives himself leave to cup Tim's head, to move it once Tim nods, pull him *down* just a little more. Tim is *focused* on this, concentration leaving a deep groove on his forehead. He wants Clark's pleasure, and Clark would like to tell him that he'd have that no matter what he did, but he has to admit --

The feel of Tim's hands on his hips, the press and slide of his tongue, his lips --

Clark pulls him off just to hear Tim gasp, feel Tim's cool breath against himself --

"Clark, please --"

"Yes, always for you -- oh, when you shiver like that I only want to hold you *down*, Tim --"

"You -- ah. I liked the way that felt. When -- when Bruce did it, too."

"Mm. You said it was just right. Just... what you wanted, Tim?"

"I -- all of the thoughts, the fantasies I tried not to have... there was always some degree of -- bondage. However... casual."

And that... "Thank you for sharing that with me --"

"I -- it seemed. You like to know these things --"

"To have them, *think* about them and dream..." Clark laughs softly, and it sounds breathy to his own ears, a little desperate -- And Tim is pushing against the hold Clark has on his head. Not struggling, really, but... testing? Clark makes his grip more firm and Tim shivers again. "Oh -- lovely. I --" Clark sits up and tugs until Tim is looking up at him, mouth open and reddened, slick... "You make me feel wonderful, terrible..."

"Why -- why terrible?"

"I feel *greedy* for having this with you, for having you here, so far from your home and family..."

And Tim smiles, wryly. "Yes, I -- I'm entirely at your mercy, Clark. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. O, help. Help."

Clark laughs. "Not *quite* what I meant, but yes, there are many places I could -- would -- take you... have you ever wanted to see the Fortress for yourself?"

And Clark can *feel* Tim's blush deepen, making Tim warmer to the touch, more wonderfully *sexual* --

"Oh -- please say yes to me --"

"Yes. Yes, I would -- want to. Clark, I want to taste you again, I want -- you came in my mouth, before --"

"You liked that?"

"I felt -- intriguingly taken. Perhaps I mean marked -- oh --"

He pulls Tim's head back down slowly, carefully -- a tease for both of them, and a very particular pleasure. Dick enjoys being guided like this from time to time, and Lois does, too, in entirely different ways, or --

No, the smile on Tim's face may not be precisely *predatory*, but it's sharp, knowing and *sharp*, and that --

Clark honestly can't decide if seeing it was better or worse than the feel of Tim taking more of him in, trying to reach his fist -- succeeding even as Clark has to shudder for the flutter of Tim's throat. "Tim, *yes*. Only -- only relax yourself, open for me --"

Tim moans and nods, swallowing almost convulsively and *pulling* against the hold Clark has on him, trying to take him *deeper* --

"Beautiful, perfect. I -- Dick sometimes... he likes it when I thrust into his mouth --"

And what comes first? The sharp and high sound or the rush of Tim's renewed arousal, his desire for *more*. Difficult to be *sure*, and something Clark will enjoy musing on later. For now...

"He makes such sounds, and has no care for himself, for the possibility of being hurt. It's heedless, and he loves for me to grip his hair, Tim..."

More swallows, and Tim is sucking hard once more, sliding his tongue back and forth --

"When... oh, Tim... when his hair was longer, I would wrap it once around my fist --"

And Tim grips Clark's hips hard, digs his nails in and scratches, claws --

"Would you like me to... work your mouth?"

A nod, and it feels like the best sort of loss to lift Tim's head, slide him almost all the way off before pulling him back down and holding him still once more while he moans and shakes --

Clark doesn't wait for him to still. It would be too much to ask, perhaps for both of them. He does it again, and again, and *then* pauses, moving one of his hands to Tim's stretched open mouth while he tugs a little with the other at Tim's hair.

The sounds Tim is making seem urgent, but Clark can tell that he's getting enough air. It must be another sort of desperation, and Clark wants to know what it *is*, but... more. *More*.

"The first time Dick took me in his mouth I came almost immediately, making him cough and gasp. He'd begged me for it so sweetly, so openly and honestly -- I believe he'd found some... some *pornography* --"

Tim groans and pushes up against Clark's hand -- yes, again, and faster --

A pleased sound, cut off with the bump of the head against the back of Tim's throat. "You mustn't think this is somehow *less*, Tim. Your control is beautiful, that which you want me to take is even more... even more lovely. I -- I'm holding myself *back* --"

Another sound, and it sounds like 'why' and it sounds like '*don't*.'

"I want more of this. The feel of your lips, your sharp teeth -- *ah*, yes, drag them, let me *help* you," and Clark laughs again, breathlessly, and perhaps it's the sound that makes Tim almost *whine*.

It's always so hard to imagine that it's pleasure in the act, for all that Clark himself would happily do this, just this --

*This* -- "I -- would you be this aroused for Dick, Tim? Would you like... I'd *talk* to him for you, I know that he would understand, would want to please you..."

Tim shakes his head almost violently, and it's necessary to take a firmer grip on his head once more, to hold him still, and just --

Oh, there's *fear*. "Think about it for me, please -- oh, you've already done so *much* for me, Tim, and I would never do it without your *permission*. Do you know... when Bruce was holding me by the hair for this I felt so attractive, so *necessary*. Is it like that for you? Can you feel the way I need you?"

Tim's moans are constant things now, each one making the muffling seem even more obscene and *troublesome*.

"I want... oh, I want to tell you everything, and have you do the *same*, Tim. I want your fantasies and your dreams, even the ones you don't care for. I want to know *everything* about you, the way I've known Dick. I --"

Tim is shaking again, and Clark realizes he'd stopped working Tim's *head*. He can't do that to Tim, he *can't*. He moves Tim's head faster, and he doesn't *stop*, especially not when the scent of Tim's arousal seems to become almost *bladed*.

"I want to penetrate you with my tongue, Tim, and my fingers -- it always gave Dick so much pleasure, always made him almost *writhe* for me, for both of us --"

And Tim's sounds are hitching things, now, and he's having trouble breathing. He -- Clark doesn't want to stop, and he doesn't want this to *end*, but -- he has to. There will be other *times*.

Clark lets go, all over, carefully keeping himself from thrusting even though now it seems that the air itself is stroking him, that Tim is forcing all of nature to conspire with him, to make Clark lose his *mind*. "Tim... Tim, it won't be -- won't be *long* --"

A nod, and Tim's palms are sweating against him, and Clark can see beads of sweat forming all over Tim's back. Most of them will reabsorb, but the scent will be there, the *taste* --

"Tell me I can *have* you, Tim, that you'll let me taste you --"

Another nod, and Clark lets his head fall back and smiles. "Thank you, thank you so -- oh, I -- *Tim* --"

The orgasm feels like a blast of perfect sunlight after a year underground, it fills him and empties him at once, makes Clark feel endless and more powerful than could be remotely *possible* --

He has enough of himself to let go of Tim's head, and enough to keep from grabbing for it again when Tim pulls off to gasp and choke --

Oh, not choking, not --

Clark pulls himself *back* and reaches for Tim, tilting his head back to open the airways and stroking his chest, his back --

The choke becomes a cough that sounds terrible but is really minor, and Clark absolutely does not stop stroking. The feel of him so slick with sweat, the scent of him -- and he's so very *hard*, aroused and ready for him, pre-ejaculate beading just at the tip. "Oh, Tim, you're so *beautiful*..."

Tim smiles and keeps coughing for another moment before drawing in a *deep* breath and -- sighing. "I don't feel especially -- ah. Was that --"

"Wonderful. And you're so flushed with arousal, your voice is hoarse and your lips, your *mouth*..."

Tim turns and leans up and in for a kiss Clark gives with all of himself. Beautiful he says with his tongue, with his lips and with the force of his kiss. *Beautiful*, and he lays Tim down and covers him, slides his slick penis against Tim's thigh --

Tim rubs against it and Clark smiles into the kiss -- Tim smiles, as well, and the kiss becomes a messy thing, awkward and slick, wonderful, wonderful --

Clark presses down against Tim, giving him his weight, and listens to Tim's breathing hitch and stutter, feels Tim arch up as much as he can, and oh --

"You're so aroused, Tim. It's wonderful, flattering... I think I would do anything to make you this way, *keep* you this way..."

"It wouldn't be -- oh, I. It wouldn't ever take *much*. I think -- just the sound of your voice --"

"Would you like it if I called you some night, whispered into your comm all the things I'd like to do with you? To you and *for* you --"

"Oh -- God. Clark. Maybe not -- during patrol. But I often wear my comm when I sleep, and --"

"I'll do it, Tim. I'll... hmm. Lois would be deeply amused, I think."

And Tim... blinks. "You... she knows?"

"She's my *wife*, Tim," Clark says, and kisses Tim's nose. "Dick was surprised as well, at first. For all that we'd known each other for years before."

"It's not that... I mean, I assumed that she *knew*, it's just that... ah. Details? It seems... a lot."

Clark thinks about it... hm. "Does it bother you...?"

Tim smiles ruefully. "I'm honestly not sure. I'm having a little trouble thinking clearly just now."

"Oh, I think you're always very... very *sharp*," Clark says, and licks Tim's mouth for the taste of himself, and -- yes. He hadn't remembered *before*, but his taste has definitely changed since he was a teenager. It's... perhaps less human? "Tim, the way I taste, to you --"

"Ah -- sweet and mineral at once. There's a... an undertone of almost something like oranges. Very -- curious. But I hardly have much to compare it to."

Clark smiles. "I only wanted to know if you enjoyed it."

Tim raises an eyebrow. "If I hadn't tried to get fancy and catch more of you on my tongue, there probably wouldn't have been quite that much choking."

"Oh -- good. And bad. Don't *do* that to yourself, Tim."

Tim's smile is lazy and broad. "I'll definitely consider avoiding it in the future. Deeply, even."

Clark hums and rolls them until Tim is on top of him, thighs spread over Clark's waist. There's sand stuck to the side of Tim's thigh, and a bit more over his ribs. Clark brushes it away quickly and gently --

"Oh -- thank you."

"You're welcome. Are you comfortable?"

"I'm... rather more than comfortable. Clark, the things you said you wanted --"

"I do, Tim. I -- everything. I know I can't be your *closest* friend, but... well."

"Certainly you'd be..." Tim shakes his head. "I've never had anyone I could talk to about these things, Clark. About -- sex."

Clark frowns. "But -- hm. I can see how talking to Dick about these things would be -- ah -- problematic, but what about Kon?"

"Kon..." Tim smiles and shakes his head. "I've thought about it. He's certainly never held back with *me*, but I... I've always been attracted to him, and it would be difficult to really... and then there's the fact that I'd have to talk about it with codenames for the most part. And the fact that the last thing he needs to hear from me is how I'm attracted to Batman. And Clark Kent."

Which... all right, there's *sense* to that, but... Clark strokes Tim's thighs --

"I like -- I like that."

"Oh -- good. But -- why didn't you ever act on your attraction to Kon, Tim? He cares about you deeply."

"I... for a long time, Bruce was the problem. It was like having a wall between myself and the world outside of Gotham, Clark. After that... well, he became involved with Cassie very quickly after that. He cares for her, and I would never -- I would never."

Clark nods slowly, and considers having a talk with Diana about Wonder Girl's... sexual politics. Another time.

"It's just that there's never really been anyone in that position I *could* talk to about this sort of thing and I... it's a little mind-blowing, actually."

"That I want to hear it?"

"That I can tell you," Tim says, and strokes a line between Clark's pectorals. His smile has become shy and small. "That it feels this good."

Oh... Clark squeezes Tim's hips and strokes up his sides, down again. "Tim."

"Yes. It's -- yes."

"If I'd known how little chance you've had... I never would've pushed. *Demanded* --"

"I liked it --"

"I'm so glad," Clark says, sitting up to kiss Tim, press them together -- Tim tenses, perhaps at the brush of his penis against Clark's abdomen. And then he relaxes all over and wraps his arms around Clark's neck.

The wind is picking up, playing with Tim's hair and his own... Clark smoothes Tim's hair down and lets his hands keep going down his back, over his shoulder blades and into the slight dip in the center.

After a moment, Tim pulls out of the kiss and rests his chin on Clark's shoulder. His breathing is more calm, but still with some of the speed of arousal. He's relaxed now, *almost* loose-limbed -- and open for Clark's touch...

Clark smiles again and kisses Tim's cheek while he strokes Tim's buttocks, spreads them and strokes between --

Another moment's tension, another sigh and release.

"Do you touch yourself here?"

"Sometimes. I... I've considered buying myself a -- toy."

"Oh, that would be... I'd love to watch you. The AI in the Fortress could give you a full-body scan and craft one to your specifications."

"Oh. Oh... I think. Um. Wow." Tim laughs and shifts until he can rest his forehead against Clark's shoulder. "And you'd like to see me with it. Touching --"

"Pleasuring yourself. You've used your fingers?" And Clark strokes Tim's cleft, up and down, edging closer to his hole...

"I... yes. I can -- three fingers."

Clark shivers and Tim gasps, softly -- "And when you do it? Do you think about Dick?"

"Yes. Most of the... um. That time you invited me to Metropolis... I thought about you."

Clark sighs and kisses Tim throat, his ear -- licks his ear and breathes against it. "Was I gentle with you, Tim?"

"S-slow, not gentle. You weren't sure... you weren't sure."

"But I *am* sure, Tim. I'd like to be inside you, feel you holding me there where your body is the most warm..."

"God. Clark -- I. Touch me. Touch me there --"

Clark strokes Tim's hole over and over. Always, there's a sense of it being too small for anything of the kind, too firm and *tight*. And Tim's fingers aren't large, but... three of them. And -- "Like this?"

"Harder. I -- Clark, I need -- I think I need --"

"I didn't -- I wish I brought lubricant. I could get some if -- it wouldn't take very long at all --"

"Oh -- please. I want. I want to feel you inside me --"

And knowing the flight is *fast* isn't enough against the voice inside him which is telling him about the beautifully naked, beautifully *open* boy waiting for him. Tim had been so *close* to him, pressed to him and enjoying it --

The Fortress provides what he needs quickly, but it's not enough, and it *can't* be enough until he's back to the island -- nearly. He slows enough when he's still fifty miles out that he doesn't cause any large waves, any storms of sand --

And Tim is there on his knees, and doesn't hesitate to straddle Clark's thighs once more, to rest his head against Clark's shoulders --

"Ozone, I..." Tim breathes deep and kisses Clark's shoulder, licks it and shivers. "*Now* you taste -- alien."

"I'm sorry --"

"Don't -- don't be. I think I feel somewhat... thrilled," Tim says, and shivers again. "Clark, please --"

"Yes," and this time Tim doesn't tense at all when Clark spreads him, and he moans when Clark touches his hole with slick fingers. "Oh, Tim, yes?"

"Yes. Yes, I... really didn't expect it to be *warm*," and Tim laughs and then moans again at the feel of Clark slipping one finger inside -- "Clark, you feel. Your finger is so *hard* --"

"You like that --"

"*Yes*, I -- oh, just. Keep talking to me, Clark, keep -- asking questions, or --"


Tim clenches around Clark's finger and laughs again, breathless as he shifts on his knees, presses *closer* -- "Could you -- be more specific?"

Clark smiles and kisses Tim's jaw, licks back up to his ear. "When you touch yourself this way, do you ever imagine it's him? His fingers --"

"Gauntleted. And -- never bare. Never --"

"So *cold*, Tim, he would never wish to --"

Tim shakes his head. "It's more... it would be easier. For me. I know what it feels like when he touches me with them on. He used to be so... when I was in training, he would touch me sometimes for no reason, and -- he was gentle, more than once, and I... I think I could take it, that way. Um."

Clark sighs and nods, pushing deeper --

"Oh, Clark --"

"And in your fantasy he was gentle this way, stretching you open..."

"Not slow but -- yes. Carefully. Thoroughly. Like -- like this oh oh -- please --"

Clark crooks his finger *slowly*, feeling Tim shake, feeling the shaking get deeper, somehow, more intense until the pressure on his prostate is enough --

"Clark, *please*, please just -- more, or -- I don't know what I want, right now, and I --"

"It's all right, it's... you feel so good, Tim. I never want to stop --"

"*Don't* stop, please, I -- in the fantasy. Bruce doesn't stop, even when I'm r-ready for him, even when I'm begging --"

"I'll never make you wait --"

"Oh, but -- it's good, even when I. It makes me *hate* myself that it's so good, and I always -- the orgasm is always very *intense*, Clark, and I --" Tim shakes his head and *bites* Clark's shoulder, growls --

"You should never -- *pleasure*, Tim, it's about your pleasure, and the pleasure I take -- that *Bruce* would take from seeing you open for him, desiring him --"

Tim pants against Clark's shoulder and pulls out of the bite. "Clark, he doesn't *want* -- oh. Oh, God, I'd *forgotten*..."

Which is amusing, but Clark will never, ever laugh. It must be staggering for Tim, even though he should know how attractive he is, how *tempting* -- "I could... would it be easier to stop talking about Bruce?"

"I -- I think so. At least... right now," Tim says, and rubs his face against Clark's shoulder.

"Then tell me about Dick," Clark says, and crooks his finger again --

"*Oh*, that's so -- it never felt this *good* --"

"You're making *me* feel wonderful, Tim. You're making me want you more and more. The time it took to fetch the lubricant, the time without you pressed against me, without your scent in my nose..."

"Clark, I --" Tim flexes his hands on Clark's shoulders and kisses him, over and over --

Clark starts to *thrust* --

"Oh, *please*. I... Dick, I want -- he's never gentle, never *soft*--"

Faster then, harder --

"*Clark*, you -- you're making me crazy, and I -- Dick does, too. He can't stop, he won't stop. He -- he sees how much I... how much I love it, and he wants to, he *wants* to --"

"Little brother..."

Tim shouts and *thrusts* against Clark, and the voice is easy, so easy to *give* --

"I love you so much, Tim, anyone would love you, need you --"

"Dick -- *please* --"

"So beautiful, warm against me..." Clark presses his lips against Tim's ear. "You don't know how much I've always wanted a little *brother*, Tim..."

"Oh God, Clark, Clark, you can't, not like this, not --"

He *can*, and if it makes Tim feel this good, makes him writhe and grind for *more* -- "Please tell me you like this, little brother, tell me you want more --"

"I always -- always *you*, and I can't -- oh, please..." Tim's rocking back on Clark's finger, and -- yes, his eyes are squeezed shut, he's biting his swollen lip --

"Don't do that, Tim, let me *hear* you --"

A gasp and a yell, Tim's head thrown back and a flush spilling down his chest like good wine--

"That's it, that's -- oh, that's so *right*, Tim, little brother, *my* little brother, I'll make you feel so *good* --"

Tim digs in with his nails -- rips his hands away and shakes his head --

"Tim --"

"No -- *no*, I can't -- it's not. Clark, it's -- please. Stop."

Fear, something that seems like *hurt* -- no. Clark stops thrusting and kisses Tim's cheek. "I'm sorry."

"You... I recognize -- I must have seemed --"


Tim laughs and shudders and -- opens his eyes. His smile is rueful and his eyes are -- they're not *clear*, still hazed with arousal, but they are *focused*. "Yes, that. It would be... it would be easy to let you -- do that. For me --"

"Anything that pleases you, Tim. You -- you have to realize how *much* your pleasure means to me," and Clark strokes Tim's buttock, squeezes it and raises his eyebrows.

"I'm here with you, Clark. For -- more than one reason," Tim says, and shakes his head. "It's not that I don't believe that you didn't... mind doing that, it's that *I* minded."

Clark frowns and squeezes Tim again. "Your scent..."

"We've already established that you can't, exactly, know my mind."

It's a truth he doesn't want, when the alternative is feeling Tim become so wild, so lost to his own entirely *comprehensible* desires, but... Clark sighs and nods. "Then tell me what I *can* do to make this as perfect for you as possible. Tell me how to make you... make you mine, if for only a moment?"

Tim opens his mouth, but doesn't speak. He's looking into Clark's eyes, and perhaps seeing a truth there...

"Please, Tim."

"You... you're already *making* me -- yours. I don't -- no one else has ever --" His flush gets deeper, and he brings his hands back to Clark's shoulders, touches and releases -- touches and settles.

"Yes, hold me, Tim --"

A grip, and Tim's smile looks a little shaky and unsure, and Clark does his best to look reassuring, welcoming -- Tim clenches around his finger and his eyes lose some of their focus --

"Yes, Tim?"

Tim nods with his mouth open, closes it and closes his eyes. Clark watches them track behind the lids, watches that line of concentration appear on Tim's forehead --

He wants to wipe it away. He wants to know what Tim's thinking and *then* wipe it away -- enough to have this touch, to start thrusting again, picking up a little speed with every one, because Tim wants it that way, wants -- "Tell me more, Tim. Anything, something..."

"I like -- I like being touched. Casually, incautiously. I like the assumptions about me that those -- those touches *imply* --"

"Shall I tousle your hair?"

A gasping laugh. "If you'd like."

Clark smiles and kisses Tim, pulls back and smiles wider at the sight of Tim following for more -- yes, another kiss, and another, and when Tim starts moving again, Clark feels himself *need* --

"I -- oh. Your mouth, Clark. It's -- it's so hard, but still so... like a mouth?" Tim laughs again and groans. "I'm not... articulate. Not for this --"

"You have nothing to prove to *me*, Tim."

Tim opens his eyes and they look deep, *full*..."

"And to touch... I'd rather rest a hand on your shoulder, let you feel its weight, perhaps the warmth through your clothes..."

"Oh. I. I think --" Tim pushes closer and gasps again, presses his face against Clark's shoulder once more --

"Are you hiding?"

"Perhaps. A little. Ah -- do you mind?"

"With the feel of you pushing against me, rocking back onto my finger? With every memory I have of your expressions, the way your eyes *change* -- no, I don't mind. Hide yourself in me, Tim, be -- comfortable."

And another laugh, and almost a gurgle. "Clark, you... I never dreamed you'd be so..." Tim shakes his head against him, kisses... "I feel like I could tell you anything --"

"Oh, please do..."

"Kon. I've always wanted to taste him. Even... even when he *infuriated* me. Sometimes especially then. I wanted to know how he'd enjoy the feel of my gauntlet wrapped around him --"

"Oh, Tim --"

"Wanted to watch his shock as I told him -- every dirty thing I could think of, everything I could beg for -- *ah* -- oh, *God*, Clark --"

"I'd love to watch the two of you together, Tim. It would... I believe I already said it would be like having you, myself --"

"Clark, you -- you're nothing *like* him --"

"I know. But just the *same*," Clark says, and thrusts harder again, jabs at Tim just a little --

"I can't -- I want you to fuck me, Clark --"

"*Tim* --"

"Not -- not now. I have to go *home* --"

"Not yet, not *yet*, Tim, so beautiful --"

"But -- sometime, Clark. In my bed, or your bed... anywhere you'd like, anywhere, because this feels incredible and I know what would feel *better* --"

Necessary to stop holding Tim spread with his other hand and pull Tim close again, feel the coolness of his skin, make Tim feel Clark's own *heat* --

"Just -- please don't *stop* --"

"Never," Clark says and kisses Tim's forehead -- Bruce --

Bruce, perhaps, lost his chance to have this years ago. Clark won't risk such a thing. He'll give Tim nothing but pleasure, show him everything, taste him every chance he *gets*.

"Tim, I want you to come for me, I want to feel you ejaculate *on* me --"

"*Yes*, Clark, but -- another finger. I want -- stretch me --"

"Happily," Clark says, and kisses Tim's forehead again, tastes the sweat there at Tim's temple, inhales the smell of sweat and the same conditioner Bruce uses -- so different in combination with Tim's other scents --

"Oh -- please. I'm ready, I want --"

"Yes," and Tim moans when Clark pulls almost all the way out, bites his lip when Clark starts to push with his middle finger. Tim's tension is building once more, making him seem tighter, less welcoming than Clark *knows* he is -- why hadn't he ever *watched* Tim pleasure himself? It would be so much, so *right* to have those images in his mind now, for those images to be *real* --

Does Tim bend himself in half to do it? Does the stretch ever distract him from the other sensations?

Like this, Tim has to do nothing but *feel* Clark, and Clark wonders -- this is Tim's first time with another person doing it for him. Is it better? Strange?

Tim opens his mouth and pants --

"Please don't try to be -- please let me hear everything, Tim, I want to, you sound so wonderful..."

"Your -- your fingers. In me. I. I feel so *open*, Clark, so -- obvious and I. Can't quite tell if it's a good thing or --"

"It's perfect. *You're* perfect, Tim. You can feel how hard I am once more, how aroused you make me. Perhaps... perhaps you can smell...?"

"Yes -- yes, oh, *please*, Clark --"

"I won't stop until you've come for me, Tim. I won't let you *go* -- oh, yes --" Tim's biting Clark's shoulder, moaning and crying out as he works his hips, sweats more and shudders -- "You're so tight around my fingers. If I wasn't... experienced I'd wonder if I was hurting you, it would seem --"

"N-no. No, don't stop, don't --" Another bite, and Tim starts licking Clark almost frantically as he works his hips, as he pushes himself against Clark over and over again --

"Oh, your tongue, your... mm, I feel your breaths, Tim, hear them --"

And this cry sounds almost strangled, desperate, and Tim is clutching Clark's shoulder with one hand and stroking Clark's working arm with the other, feeling him --

"You feel the way I'm moving --"

"Taking -- taking me. Oh -- oh, God -- so good --"

"*Yes*, Tim -- faster?"

Tim stops licking him to nod, rapid and fervent, and Clark thrusts faster, makes his strokes a little longer, a little *more* --

And Tim turns to face him, eyes wide and almost *lost* -- "Clark..."

Impossible not to kiss him, to hold him tighter for a moment before letting his free hand slip down to catch Tim by the hip --

Tim groans into Clark's mouth --

Clark moves Tim with his rhythm, and Tim isn't kissing him back, anymore. He's only licking at Clark's lips and tongue, tasting him --

Throwing his head back --

And his scent becomes deeper, more *compelling* as he tenses all over, opens his mouth --

And cries Clark's name as he comes, warm and slick between them. The feel of it makes Clark's penis twitch, makes him need to lean in and bite Tim's throat -- gently. Carefully --

Tim sounds almost as if he's being beaten, each breath catching on a low note --

The sight of Bruce *throwing* Tim down before covering him -- Clark bites a little harder and stills his fingers, presses his tongue against Tim's pulse point and waits.

After a time, the feel of Tim squeezing his shoulders becomes less convulsive than merely firm, and Tim takes a deep breath. Clark forces himself to stop biting -- the skin is reddened, but almost certainly won't bruise -- and kneels up, once more --

Tim tilts his head forward and smiles. "Clark..."

Clark smiles back. "Tim."

"I -- ah. Wow? I think I'm going to go with 'wow.'"

"I'm glad," Clark says, and resists the urge to start thrusting again, resists the knowledge of Tim's youth, how fast he *could* recover given the right stimuli, a reason...

"You... what can I do? How do you -- want me?"

*Resists* -- "Ah... perhaps your hand, Tim?"

Tim raises an eyebrow and his smile becomes... knowing. "Are you sure about that?"

No. Tim's *mouth*, and Clark's fingers are still inside Tim, holding him open, some variety of *ready* --

"We could... ah." Tim touches his tongue to his upper lip. "I think it's fair to say that I'm feeling very... open. Still -- *mm* --"

Kissing Tim again is a compromise with all of himself, as well as a chance to taste his beautiful mouth again, feel the sharpness of his teeth against Clark's tongue, find hints of himself while Tim cups Clark's face and kisses him back, freely and willingly, so *sweetly* --

Clark pulls back and kisses Tim's cheeks, his eyelids --

Tim laughs -- "Clark --"

"Let me pull out of you while I can still remember that you need to go home tonight, Tim."

"I -- oh. Oh... yes, all right," Tim says, and takes a deep breath. He winces at the feel of Clark pulling out, and -- is there regret in the lines of Tim's face?

Clark doesn't trust himself quite enough to be sure. Enough -- *enough* -- to gather Tim against him again and take another kiss, and another, and another --until Tim starts actively working to get his hands between them. He pulls back and catches those hands in his own, brings them to his mouth just to feel them, the calluses and scars. Robin.

And Tim is watching him curiously, steadily -- he's still quite flushed, and so it's not possible to tell if he's feeling at all shy, at the moment. Clark hopes not -- it would be at least a little disappointing, if not strictly wrong. He *wants* --

"Touch me. Please."

Tim nods slowly and twists his hands free of Clark's own before stroking over Clark's knuckles, stroking Clark's wrists and arms. The touches are firm and sure, and Tim never looks away from Clark's eyes.

His mouth is closed, curved in a small smile as he touches Clark's chest, traces the shape of muscle and makes Clark feel -- vast. In a very good way. The touches are *also* deeply appreciative, and Clark can't keep himself from smiling back. "Tim."


"You look like... you're enjoying yourself."

"Immensely, Clark," Tim says, and squeezes Clark's penis on his way to Clark's thighs, between --

"Oh, the feel of you --"

"The feel of *you*. You're incredible, staggering. And now I know how you make love. How you... I'll never forget, Clark. I won't be able to..." Tim laughs softly and squeezes Clark's sac. "I'll have difficulty thinking of anything else."

"Would it be... mm. Terribly selfish to say I'm glad?"

"Eminently forgivable," Tim says, and brings both of his hands to Clark's penis, squeezing the base with one hand and rubbing at the head with the fingers of the other. "Do you like this?"

Clark smiles and thrusts -- carefully -- into Tim's hand.

"Oh -- feel free to do that... often," and Tim is probably squeezing as hard as he can.

The pressure of it is as important as the slide of Clark's penis into that fist, that strong and wonderful *fist*. -- "Please don't let go."

Tim sighs and manages to squeeze even harder, and that --

Clark lets go of himself and feels heat, touch -- Tim is stroking the head *deliberately* lightly, and it's important to keep that feeling, to not thrust too fast, too precipitously -- of course Tim would guess that Clark could still *feel* the lighter touches, that he would enjoy them -- "Wonderful, such a wonderful *tease*, Tim --"

"You're making my fingers slick. I... I want to lick them, lick *you* --"

"Oh -- no, just -- just your hands, Tim. I don't want to -- ah. Perhaps you've guessed that I'm having a difficult time not begging you for... more?"

"It's a curious feeling, really. I... I've never really thought of myself as an object of... desire."

"Never an *object*, Tim --"

"Yes, I -- I didn't mean it that way. Exactly. But -- do you see what I mean?"

He sees Tim, laid out on his cape in a meadow, shielding his eyes from the sun and smiling, spreading his legs for Clark and *smiling* -- "I see... forgive me, Tim, but I need --"

"Oh -- sorry. I. Probably not the time to have a conversation," and Tim's laugh is rueful and his *hands* are perfect, hard and *perfect*, squeezing him and touching him, teasing him --

"You -- you shouldn't think I'm uninterested. Tim, I want -- I want so much *more*."

Tim moans and Clark smells fresh sweat again. Tim isn't quite aroused again, but it's *possible*, doable -- the *potential* --

"You make me *hungry*, Tim --"

"Clark, I'd like to... I want to do everything with you, *try* everything --"

"Good, so -- I'm so glad, Tim. I'll show you everything, tell you... oh, stroke me, please *stroke* me --"

"Yes. Yes, I..."

Clark opens his eyes and Tim's shaking his head a little, the concentration-line back on his forehead as he visibly struggles to keep the strength of his grip up even as he starts to -- oh, yes, "*Yes*, Tim, I -- I'm not -- I'm letting myself feel all of you that I can, and your scent is stronger, the sound of your heartbeat --"

A little faster as he -- thinks of Clark's senses? Enjoys the feel of Clark in his hand?

"Like this -- like this I'm always so *close*, Tim, the pleasure is always so great. The scent of the wind, of the birds on this island, and the sea, the living sea..."

"Clark, tell me, don't stop -- don't stop."

Clark laughs breathlessly and grips Tim's wrists, presses his thumbs to Tim's pulse points and seizes inside at the thrum of them against him, the feel -- "Perhaps... perhaps the last power I... developed. Oh yes, Tim, yes -- I'd been 'turning the volume down' on my senses since -- since long before I was aware of doing anything of the kind. The ability to *release*, to *accept* -- ah --"

"It must be overwhelming --"

"All of my senses Tim, you're in all of my *senses*. It's -- close to how I felt as a teenager, but *more* --"

And the sounds from all over the world, easy to let himself only register the moans and cries for more, for love, for touch --

"Don't -- say something, Tim --"

"Clark, I... I don't think I've ever been more attracted to what you can *do*, as opposed to who you *are*. It's a little *disconcerting* --"

"My apologies. I assure you -- I -- something, oh, Tim, I can taste your *surprise* --"

"Then -- then taste my wonder, my -- my admiration, my lust --"

It wasn't what he was going to say. It -- "*Tim* --"

"Come for me, Clark, show me -- show me this is good, that I can give you what you -- what you *need* --"

Motion -- Tim is pointing Clark's penis at himself, and Clark has to thrust faster, give up more of his control --

Tim's sharp, even breaths --

Lois' deeper, sleeping ones --

Bruce's heartbeat --

Oh yes --

And this time the orgasm seems to ride him, take him far outside of himself, push him higher, *higher* --

Until he's aware that he's floating, that Tim is moaning at the feel of Clark's semen on his skin, that Tim is still squeezing him, begging -- no, it's only his heartbeat, only his touch...

Clark pulls himself *in* as much as he can, shuddering hard, closing off everything until the scent of himself, of Tim and the love they've made --

Until it's only powerful, as opposed to everything important. He releases Tim's wrists with some effort and pushes his hands away --

"Oh, but... you're not... too sensitive?"

"No, not that. I only -- I have to let you go, soon, and I want to feel your arms around me," Clark says, opening his eyes to see Tim blush and yes, smile once more.

He crawls close once more, wraps his arms around Clark's neck -- and raises an eyebrow.

"Yes, *just* like that," Clark says, and lifts them into the sky --

"Oh, I -- pants, Clark --"

"Not far, I promise," and Clark kisses Tim's cheek and flies them slowly to another part of an island. It's more of a energetically burbling trickle than a waterfall, but the pool at its base is cool and clean, smelling faintly of green.

"Clark, I... I'm not really sure how I feel about using a place like this to *wash*. It's too beautiful --"

"And the flow of water is constant. We won't cause much in the way of pollution," and he lets them hover just above the surface of the pool. "Please?"

Tim looks up at him and smiles ruefully. "The full experience, Clark...? Maybe a 'cloud shower' next time?"

Clark kisses Tim's forehead. "When I was flying with Kon, I couldn't help imagining him taking you for a flight, making you breathless, happy... damp."

It's less of a smile than a very mild moue. "There are showers any number of places. Many of them pre-bugged for your convenience. But... ah. I'm not. Protesting."

Clark nods and lowers them into the water, wonderfully cool against his skin, clearly not so cool that it makes Tim uncomfortable.

"I -- I can't remember the last time I took a bath, or swam anywhere other than a sewer --" Tim laughs and slips his arms free, dunking himself for a long moment before popping up again with a gasp -- and the rest of the laugh.

His hair is plastered against the curve of his skull -- he pushes it back from over his forehead -- and his smile is a little devastating. Bruce should *see* this smile, should know this about his partner...

No. This is his, as well.


He spends the rest of the night doing small things around the world. Saving who he can from a fire in a vastly unsafe factory just outside of Caracas, speeding the efforts at planting a crop which, if successful, will help stave off hunger for thousands, flying out -- and out -- to divert an asteroid's path to one which will take it into the sun.

When he looks, Bruce is studying views from the three cameras with a view of Tim's bed. Tim is sleeping peacefully on his stomach, and... it's Bruce. It's late -- the sun is rising over Gotham -- but Bruce has stayed up much later than this countless times.

The fact that he's still suited up in the uniform -- he hasn't even pushed the cowl back --

Clark doesn't know. He'd *said* not tonight, but he really does need to -- he needs to. He taps his comm. "Batman --"

"Superman. Is there a problem?"

He never looks away from the monitors. There's a lot Clark could say, but not over a comm. "We really do need to talk. *I* need to talk."

Bruce doesn't say a word for a long moment, and while that's better than an outright dismissal, it still isn't very good. He checks --

Dick is sleeping somewhat restlessly on his own bed, the sheets tangled around his hips and his body canted at a diagonal. Dick should never sleep alone. "Batman --"

Bruce shuts the monitors down and stands. There's something in his hand -- a sketchpad. He closes it and sets it down, and then he pushes back the cowl. "Come."

On you, perhaps? No -- he doesn't know *what* mode of communication will work -- or if one will -- but humor probably won't be it, no matter how much he'd like it to be so.

He lands gently in front of Bruce, considering and rejecting the urge to catch Bruce's cape in his hand when it flutters around their legs. "Bruce."

"Clark. How... tell me what you need."

Clark raises his eyebrows and reaches reflexively -- Bruce's expression is hard and closed, if not precisely *cold*. He sighs and lets his hand fall back to his side. "Would you tell me why it was easier to be with me as a teenager? I was so... ignorant, Bruce. So clumsy and --"

"*Don't* belittle yourself, Clark. I..." Bruce's expression almost seems to crack at its edges, and there's something behind his eyes which could, by some deeply liberal definition, come close to being defined as something almost like a smile. "You were yourself."

Clark frowns. "It *wasn't* only that."

"No, it wasn't. I've been --" Bruce's mouth firms, and he almost seems to be holding himself at *attention*, as if Clark is someone he has to *report* to --

"Bruce --"

"I've put myself in a position where I'm forced -- deeply belatedly -- to come to turns with certain aspects of my sexuality. I'm attracted to you, Clark, and I care about you deeply, but I found your younger self..."

"*More* attractive?"

This time, it truly is a smile, but not one Clark can take any pleasure in. "*Less*... possible to ignore." Bruce shakes his head once and takes a step back, making Clark *feel* every millimeter of space between them, and -- no.

Clark catches Bruce's hands in his own, reflexively searching for the human heat beneath the slick cold of the gauntlets. "Bruce, I can never be... I'm hardly angry at you for not finding me attractive *enough*, but I'm deeply confused about where you draw the lines --"

"And why I draw them -- yes, I know. I have nothing to tell you, Clark. There's nothing I can say to explain, or excuse myself --"

"I don't *want* you to, I don't need you to --"

"Then what *do* you need, Clark?" 

The desperation in Bruce's voice -- Clark shakes his head and squeezes Bruce's hands. "Please tell me that we can talk about this, and share it... you have to know how important you are to me, Bruce, how much it means we can connect and how much it hurts when we *can't*."

And Bruce looks at their hands -- Clark squeezes just a little harder in the hopes of convincing Bruce not to break the contact. Bruce smiles, slight and rueful. "Part of me wants to blame you, Clark, to point out that..." Bruce looks up again, and there's something almost pleading in his eyes. "There's so much that never would've happened, that I never would've *done*..."

Bruce is thinking about Dick, about Tim... "I can't -- I can't negotiate your relationships for you, or even change how those negotiations *happen* --"

"Can't you?"

"Bruce --"

"No, Clark, I know. I'm hardly about to try to make you take responsibility for my own weaknesses," and Bruce twists his hands free and brings one up to his face, turning it in the harsh, fluorescent light. "I used to spend so much time using opportunities like this one to try to study the oils from your skin, the composition of your fingerprints..." Bruce's laugh is soft and a little bleak. "Trying to deconstruct the miracle."

Clark -- it's not a question of letting himself blush, not now. "Bruce, I'm really not -- I'm just a man."

The smile on Bruce's face seems more private than anything else he's seen, but it's still... it's a *better* smile.

"If I wasn't... Bruce, what if they aren't weaknesses at all? What if --"

"Strengths, Clark? The... *wreckage* of my romantic relationships hardly speaks well --"

"Of *you*, Bruce. They speak badly of *you*, not of themselves. It's -- it's never wrong to *love*," Clark says, and moves close again. "It's only that you don't ever let yourself be open, and -- and vulnerable. You don't let them -- let *us* see what we can do to make your life better, and you don't let us *try*."

"Jason," Bruce says, flat and -- *daring* argument. Even a year ago Clark would have had to leave it there, walk *away*, but --

"There's a difference between being open and being -- being obsessed."

Bruce meets his eyes, and... there's anger there, but so much grief, so much loss and hunger and need --

"Oh, Bruce, I know you loved him. We all -- I *knew* you loved him, and that he loved you. But I think... I've seen more of you, now. I've felt you, watched you with Dick and Tim..."

"Tell me, Clark. Just -- say it. Please."

"You lose yourself so beautifully, Bruce. You..." Clark shakes his head and smiles. "But they've come to know you in other ways, come to *trust* you to be someone else, entirely --"

"An excellent argument for controlling myself --"

"Wait, just -- wait. All right?" Clark rests his hands on Bruce's shoulders and squeezes, just hard enough that Bruce can feel him through the armor. "You have to be there for them in other ways, you have to let them know how much you love them, admire them, *need* them -- it has to be more than just when you're making love."

"Clark, I -- I let them know --"

"You let *me* know. I... you know I was with Tim tonight."

Another flare of hunger behind his eyes, but it's small against the way his heart rate speeds, just a little -- "Yes."

"He told me... one of the things he told me that I feel *comfortable* telling you..."

Bruce nods.

"He says you never used to touch him without being suited up. That you would sometimes come to him when you knew he was hurting -- that you were gentle with him, loving and giving -- and utterly closed off, all at once."

And Bruce -- shows his teeth, briefly, before turning away, moving away --

"I know how much that realization, that *knowledge* hurts you, *shames* you. I can read you in so many ways... oh, Bruce, you're the only man I know who *makes* me need my powers, as opposed to just my ability to be a *reporter*."

"Clark, I -- he said. He said he'd been waiting to feel my *hand* -- I. And you remember that, which is why you felt comfortable. I'm not... I've put so much into..."

"Bruce --"

Bruce raises a hand -- and then raises it to cover his face, just for a moment.

Clark waits, listens to Bruce calming himself, his breathing and his own *heart*, and it has always been unnatural, terrible --

His younger self had been awed, and perhaps the Robins had all felt that awe, as well. Perhaps Dick and Tim still do, and that's why they strive to model their own behavior after that, strive to be *controlled*. He --

Clark has always needed to take them away from that, to teach them that there's no wrong, no weakness --

"I've taught them..." Bruce closes his hands into fists, tight enough that his knuckles show white. One of them cracks and Clark winces --

"Bruce --"

"I've taught them control, Clark. The control that allows them to stay alive, and to keep *others* alive. I drilled them with it, hammered it into them... it's so important, Clark," Bruce says, and the plea is still in his voice. "I only... there's so little I can do to *protect* them."

"It's not -- they know you care. They *do* know, Bruce --"

"Not enough. Not... it's something *else* I've hidden from myself for years, I..." Bruce laughs, low and full of *hurt*, before turning around once more. "It's so very easy to tell myself that they understand all the right things, all the *important* things..."

Clark nods and clutches his hands together to keep from reaching out --

Bruce looks down at Clark's hands and smiles, wryly. "And what have I taught you?"

He -- all right. Clark moves closer again and slowly lifts his hand to Bruce's face, keeping his eyebrows raised --

Bruce turns, quickly, and presses a kiss to the center of Clark's palm. "I love you."

And what can Bruce really *know* about Clark's physical reactions, as opposed to what he can deduce? "I know. It's still good to hear."

"Do you think... I'm trying to imagine myself just -- spilling all of myself for Dick, for Tim. I'm trying to imagine them not trying to knock me out and strap me to something, actually."

Clark smiles ruefully and cups Bruce's cheek. "I think... perhaps if you parceled the revelations about your emotional state out, over time."

Bruce raises his eyebrow. "Perhaps over the course of a decade or two?"

"I'm confident you can find some workable compromise, Bruce. Though you could just try restraining *them* first."

Bruce closes his eyes and smiles, sharp and -- promising, really --

"Ah -- I *was* joking, Bruce."

"They're both more than accustomed to me lecturing them while they're fully restrained, Clark. It's possible Tim, at least, would find it comforting. Something familiar to ease the transition."

Tim's head in his hands, Tim's smiles, open and willing, *relaxed*... his relationship with Tim is not Bruce's own, and this is something to be glad of. "Bruce..."

"I'm almost entirely joking, myself, Clark. I -- don't plan to make this any harder on them than... than it has to be."

*Has* to be, *yes*. Clark nods and moves his hand to Bruce's shoulder, and watches Bruce search him, read him... "It always seems you must know everything about everyone, that your most bizarre and hurtful actions have *reason* behind them..."

Bruce reaches up to cover Clark's hand with his own. "I am only a man."

"Ah -- touché."

Bruce inclines his head. "Tell me -- did you take him to the Fortress?"

Clark smiles and imagines the smell of the sea, the way Tim had taken a fistful of sand without a word before raising his arms to let Clark carry him back to his home.... "A deserted island. Moonlight, crashing waves... I couldn't really help myself."

"You didn't *want* to help yourself."

Clark sighs and smiles wider. "That, too. Tim didn't seem to mind, as these things go."

"He always surprises me," Bruce says, and leans in. "I wish I could smell him on you, Clark. That I could taste him on your breath..."

"Oh... Bruce..." Arousal is never a choice, but now it feels like even less of one than usual, or -- it feels like *Bruce's* choice. The promise is still in Bruce's eyes, the force of his sexuality -- suddenly more present than Clark would have guessed *possible* --

"Perhaps someday you'll allow me that. A hint, a suggestion..." Bruce smiles. "As a young man, you were so *willing* to feed my hungers, every one of them I could bring myself to *admit*."

Tim's mouth on him, and the sound of himself telling Bruce everything he felt, everything he could *sense* about the boy Bruce would not bring himself to touch any more than he already had. Bruce -- "My friend..."

"Always, Clark. No matter how much effort I put into trying to be anything but," Bruce says, and now they're close enough that Bruce has to be able to taste Clark's breath, able to *feel* Clark's tension and need --

"Bruce, you -- are you *sure*?"

"Tell me -- will you forgive me once more when I need to pull away from you again after this? Will you *understand*?"

Bruce's scent is *complex*. The night's exertion and the smell of pain, ignored and clearly irrelevant as far as Bruce is concerned. Desire and hurt of a different sort, something Clark has always thought of as *need*, humanly acid and sharp -- "I won't -- I'll try, anyway. And keep trying --"

"Yes, you... you always *push*, Clark --"

"I need to, *you* need me to," and Clark squeezes Bruce's shoulder and tugs at it -- Bruce takes the last step closer and pushes one leg between Clark's own -- "oh, Bruce --"

"Kiss me --"

*Yes*, and he says it with his body, with his mouth on Bruce's own --

Coffee overpowers the other tastes, but only for a moment, and Bruce allows Clark to explore, to lead the kiss into something deep and as fervent as he *feels*. If this can happen --

And Clark is suddenly stricken by the realization that he doesn't know what Bruce was *doing* on patrol tonight, if he was, perhaps, exposed to something that lowers his inhibitions, or...

There's nothing Clark can pick up with his senses, and Bruce hadn't seemed... Clark pulls back and searches Bruce's eyes, wonders whether the dilation of his pupils is more than could be expected, considering --

Bruce doesn't frown so much as draw himself slightly *back*. "Should I be asking you if *you're* sure, Clark?"

"I -- despite everything, despite *years* --"

"This is our *first* time. Yes, I... I've spent a great deal of time considering it," Bruce says and reaches for Clark's face -- stops and pulls the gauntlet off.

"Thank you --"

"There... there is no hardship for this. Not truly," and Bruce's palm is damp against Clark's cheek, his fingertips almost soft as they drag over Clark's cheekbone, tease at Clark's ear -- "And I'm not drugged, this time."

"Bruce --"

"I'm assuming... much. The way you've looked at me over the years, the need you've never felt inclined to *hide* --"

"Not from you, Bruce. I would never -- I *could* never. You know how much I..." Clark laughs and lets his fingers find the catches of Bruce's cape. "You said it first. It should be easy --"

"I know you love me, Clark --"

"I want to *say* it. But even with this..." The cape falls to the floor, puddles around their feet -- there's still so much *armor*, so little of Bruce he can reach with his fingertips --

"You say it every time we meet, every time we *speak*. I -- perhaps I should try to emulate you. No one you love could ever doubt, ever fear --" Another laugh. "Well, perhaps that's going a bit... far."

Fear. This place has always been full of it, always -- every trophy, every piece of equipment -- he's getting lost in himself, in every argument he's ever had with himself after another *failure* with Bruce. It's -- they're getting in the *way*, and Clark can see Bruce thinking about moving away, giving Clark space --

"Clark --"

"It's -- I think. I think I was expecting rather more of a *fight*, Bruce."

Bruce's smile is lazy and sharp -- but there's enough regret in his eyes that Clark has to squeeze his shoulder again.

"I mean -- you *always* --"

"I have no arguments left, Clark. I... have you ever wanted to question the nature of inevitability? The *feel* of it, within yourself?"

The feel -- "Dick," Clark says and gives his hands leave to seek over Bruce's chest armor, find the points at which it *can* open --"

"Do it. Please."

"Oh, I..." This time, kissing Bruce *is* just something that has to happen, something warm and satisfying in and of itself, if only for the fact that Bruce doesn't hesitate, doesn't break or pause before licking Clark's tongue into his own mouth and pushing his hand into Clark's hair.

They stand together like that for a time, kissing slowly and not very softly, *kissing* --

And then Bruce presses the palm of his other hand flat to Clark's back and strokes down and down, cups and squeezes Clark firmly -- Clark opens his eyes, and Bruce may have never closed his own.

It's something he could've checked for himself, could have *tested*, but it's better to know it this way, to take the mild surprise and let it add to everything else, to the taste and scent of *desire* -- Bruce pulls back.


Yes -- yes. Clark opens Bruce's armor and Bruce immediately shrugs out of it, the scent of him rising, seeming to sink deep *within* Clark, to twist things within him until for a moment he can only touch, only stroke and *know* Bruce --

Bruce sighs and allows it -- no. His eyes slip nearly closed and the scent of his arousal *specifically* becomes... *becomes*.

"My touch --"

"Intoxicating. Tempting."

Clark feels his own eyes narrowing and can't stop himself from seeking out Bruce's scars, and the places he will bruise after tonight. He rubs those places carefully, easing the flow of pooling blood --

Bruce grunts and raises an eyebrow -- Dick.

Dick. "The first time I saw him -- I'd waited, of course, until I knew you wouldn't be there --"

"I've always found that curious."

Clark raises his own eyebrow. "I *wanted* to make sure that he could speak to me *freely*, Bruce."

Bruce hums. "Of course you did. Go on."

Clark strokes up to Bruce's nipples and wishes he had calluses, something to make the rub of his thumbs as wonderful --

Tim --

Clark shakes it off. "He was so professional and brave... I could tell, of course, that he found meeting Superman somewhat overwhelming --"

Another hum --

"But he didn't let it stop him or even slow him *down*. He was vibrant, exuberant -- I realized, later, that it was *banked*, that he was toning himself down for 'company,' as it were..." Clark shakes his head. "His joy when I took him up into the air... I knew that I would fall in love."

"Before... before it happened."

Clark nods and leans in to kiss Bruce's throat softly, taste sweat and armor, salt and far more complex compounds. "I distinctly remember being shocked at myself for thinking anything of the kind, and pulling myself *back*... but it wasn't long before you were allowing the three of us to work together and, well. *That's* what inevitability means to me."

Bruce sighs and cups the back of Clark's head, tugs him closer -- "Tim... he would have much the same definition, I believe."

And that... Clark licks Bruce's throat and sucks gently where the carotid sits so close beneath the skin, and Bruce's soft sound is almost a distraction against his own surprise, but still -- not quite. "I don't know why... of course you know how Tim feels about Dick."

"He has never been... it's something he's never even tried to hide from *me*, to the best of my knowledge -- mm."

And that for the pinch of his nipples, for... "Do you even like this particular touch? Or is it... ah."

"I like the fact that you're touching me. Seducing me."

Clark lets the blush out, all of it -- "I've dreamed... Bruce, you must know what a beautiful man you are. Just -- on the most shallow levels --"

Bruce's laugh is something between a hum and the prelude to a growl. "Shall I pose for you?"

"You should --" Clark kisses Bruce's shoulder, licks his way to and over Bruce's throat, his chin, kisses Bruce's mouth, quick and hard. Again, again...

"Yes, Clark...?"

Clark strokes down to the belt and raises his eyebrows.

Bruce smiles. "I trust you'll return the favor...?"

Clark -- leaves his suit on Bruce's chair, the boots beside the base, and returns to Bruce --

"Ah -- too fast. I would've liked to see you walk to me, like that..." And Bruce steps back and looks at Clark, expression avid and almost private. "I begin to understand why both Diana and Lois were horrified by your change."

This blush -- this blush he can hold back, at least to a certain extent. At the *very* least -- Bruce knows it *would* be there. And -- "This is hardly the first time you've seen me naked, Bruce."

"Context," Bruce says, opening his belt and toeing off his boots, "is everything."

"It can't possibly be so... different. For you, I mean."

"Both of them had grown accustomed to making love to you as the man you are, Clark. To be faced with a teenager -- an *amorous* teenager --"

"I was hardly -- I mean, not with Diana."

"You perhaps didn't notice fixating on her... torso," and Bruce sets the belt down on a work-table carefully before reaching for the waistband of his trunks and tights.

And it takes a minute to -- oh. "Oh... dear. I did that? I -- don't remember doing that at all."

Bruce's smile is almost vicious. "To be fair, I believe you were having difficulty with your powers. You remembered nothing about being her lover...?"

Clark shakes his head and moves close once more, deliberately at human speed --

Bruce looks him *over*, *pausing* with his thumbs in his waistbands, and *that* --

"May I?"

"Mm. Only if you plan on enjoying it."

Clark laughs and watches Bruce search him again, or maybe -- possibly, it's less of a search than an act of memorization. "Oh... Bruce."

Bruce closes his eyes for a moment, and when he opens them he's looking only at the floor. "It seems... this seems so much to *ask*, Clark, after everything I've said and done..."

Clark sets his hands on Bruce's hips and squeezes, leans in to rest his forehead against Bruce's own, breathes *deep* -- "Did you know... Lois actually thought that the two of us had been making love all along. After *everything* I've told her about my sexual experiences, after *telling* her everything."

"That must have been painful."

"I was a little too... distracted to really think about it deeply at the time, but now it's something I can't forget. She thought the rules were different for the two of *us*, somehow. Because she could tell how much I loved you."

Bruce pulls back and then kisses Clark hard -- briefly. "Point taken. And -- feel free."

He lifts Bruce into the air to strip him, catches him and lifts him higher kissing him all over his face until --

"Clark --"

He has to kiss Bruce's mouth again, feel him, let their *bodies* kiss and touch, drag and shift. Bruce pushes his thigh between Clark's own and nudges at him, rubs and pushes as he strokes down to Clark's buttocks and squeezes, almost massages, and Clark wants to be just a little more human for that, wants to be moved, pressed -- everything for this man, this brilliant and frightening, fearful and beautiful --

Bruce bites Clark's lip and thrusts against the hollow of Clark's hip. The heat of Bruce there is a tease when taken against his own, a whisper, a *hint* --

Clark pulls away from the bite and licks Bruce's lips and teeth and considers flying them somewhere other than the Cave, somewhere *else*, but -- "Here, Bruce?"

"My bedroom...?"

Oh... "Are you --"

"I'm sure," Bruce says, squeezing Clark's buttocks again -- "And I ask you again if *you* are."

The best answer is to take them there, being as careful as he can with the mechanism of the clock and with his own wake. Acceptable to make antiquities rock, *not* to make them fall.

And Bruce's bed is turned down, and it's tempting to slide Bruce in under the covers -- just for the opportunity to *do* it -- but he doesn't really want to play that sort of game, and he *really* doesn't want to encourage Bruce to find a way to get him *back* for it.

He lays Bruce down, instead, and settles beside him. The scent of Bruce here is both strong and a little *soothing*, a bit like living inside Bruce, being welcome... Clark rests a hand on Bruce's chest and smiles.

Bruce narrows his eyes in his own smile and reaches to stroke Clark's jaw, press his thumb against Clark's chin and move his head until they're facing each other perfectly. "Clark."

"I... am very happy to be here."

"Hmm. Did you know..." Bruce manages to seem rueful even though he's showing his teeth in something entirely unlike a smile. "You're the first lover I've had in this bed since I lost Jason."

He'd known that. He'd *known*, but... Clark presses down on Bruce's chest lightly and pushes closer, needing to share heat, intimacy --

"I think... do you think that would stop Dick or Tim, Clark? Would it make them need to distance themselves?"

"Only if... only if that's what you seemed to want, I think... they both long to make things easier for you, Bruce, to be whatever you need."

"Tim --"

"*Tim*," Clark says, and throws one leg over Bruce's own. "It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't phrase it quite that way within his own mind... but it also wouldn't surprise me if he *did*."

"I don't deserve them."

"I can't say I've never had that thought, Bruce, but..."

Bruce's laugh is low and honest --

"You *have* them, and treating them well is the only thing you need to hold on to, need to *do* --"

"And how do I treat *you* well, Clark?"

"You have been. You... I don't think I've ever felt this *acknowledged* by you --"

"Clark --"

"Believe me," Clark says, and strokes Bruce's leg with his own, "when I say it's intoxicating. I'm tempted to talk to you about my job at the Planet, the latest amusing things Lois has said to break the spirit of others --"

"Always entertaining," and Bruce strokes up into Clark's hair and pulls him in for another kiss, slow and hard and everything wonderful, everything *Bruce*.

He'd loved these kisses as a teenager, but he hadn't had anything like the proper context for them, the knowledge that would've allowed him to *revel*. This is the most brilliant man he's ever met, the strongest and the most frightening, and all of that is in the stroke of his tongue against Clark's palate, the slide of it against his own.

Clark sucks as lightly as he can make himself and knows that it's still harder than he wants -- than he wants to want --

Bruce hums and thrusts into Clark's mouth, speeding things a little, making everything a lot more *urgent* than it had seemed a moment before -- the inevitable result of being in someone's bedroom, as opposed to a neutral space: it's easier than Clark has ever understood to lose the scent of arousal, as opposed to the scent of sleep.

Though Lois has always done a very... she's been very thorough about making sure nothing of the kind happens with *her*. Clark smiles into the kiss and sucks a little harder on Bruce's tongue, forcing him to *work* a little for those thrusts --

Bruce's hum this time sounds like purest pleasure, encouragement -- does he want this to be challenging? Would that make it easier to let go of the memories of Jason -- no, it couldn't possibly, and perhaps Bruce doesn't *want* to let go. Clark pulls back and watches Bruce breathe, listens to it -- a little fast, but not strictly uneven, and...

And Clark doesn't know what he wants other than everything, stretched out over as long a time as possible.

"Bruce... tell me what you want me to do. Want *us* to do."

"I would enjoy just speaking to you -- without it being necessary for you to teach me about my various failings -- some other time, Clark. For now..." Bruce slips his hand down to Clark's shoulder and pushes until Clark is flat on his back, and Bruce can --

Kiss his throat, his shoulders, his collarbone -- the kisses are brief things, hard and *wet*. Bruce is tasting Clark as he goes, and that -- "Do I seem -- my taste --"

"Strange," Bruce says. "Less immediately *male* than..." A sigh. "He was so very young, and it's something I could never see until he was killed."

Clark winces internally. "I didn't mean to --"

"You didn't, save by being here, with me..." Bruce licks a long stripe up over Clark's sternum to Clark's throat, kisses there and begins moving back down.

"I love -- oh, the way you *feel* --"

"Feel free to elaborate."

Tim... "Your breath is warm enough that the cool of your tongue -- a wonderful surprise, every time. I can't seem to make myself want to brace against it --"

"So much of your control is instinctive," and Bruce licks Clark's nipple with the flat of his tongue, does it again and again --

"Bruce, please, that --"

"A bite?"

"Yes, please --"

Bruce does so, sharp and quick, pulls back and does it again before moving to Clark's other nipple. The sensation --

It feels like being stung by something with a mild and friendly poison at its disposal, the slight pull each time Bruce pulls off like something designed to connect Clark's nipples directly to his genitals, and also to the base of his spine. It's tempting -- very much so -- to let go of himself, to feel this with as much of himself as he can manage --

Bruce had said something about *control* --

"Bruce, I -- the control you speak of..."

"Tell me," Bruce says, and licks his way down to Clark's navel, licks Clark there *thoroughly* and breathes, cool and sweet, teasing --

"Oh, like my skin is tightening on my body, making itself raw --" Clark shakes his head and reaches down to stroke Bruce's hair, learn and re-learn the shape of his skull -- "The control is something I hold all the time, something... I let it *go* for this --"

"Not yet," and Bruce kisses his way back up -- and up until he can lick his way into Clark's mouth again, and --

Yes, *kiss*. The hardness of Bruce's kisses have caused his lips to begin swelling, just a little bit. Enough for there to be a sense of *softness* along with everything else, a *give* that makes Clark want to only stroke with his fingers, press gently --

Bruce bites Clark's lip hard and pulls back -- "That *wasn't* an order."

"Ah -- a request?"

Bruce smiles. "Not that, either. Unless... would you prefer to hold yourself back? Is there something you'd like to do which would require it?"

Oh. *Oh*, but -- "*You* were supposed to tell *me* what you wanted, Bruce."

The smile gets wider. "I'm sure I don't know how I forgot such a thing."

Clark frowns and sits up on his elbows --

Bruce moves back and -- straddles Clark's waist. The feel of him -- the warmest place on Bruce that Clark can -- currently -- feel. He's hard, but not very slick. And the drag of his sac against Clark's abdomen --

"Don't -- don't tease me, Bruce. Not -- this time."

Bruce's lips part and his eyes narrow, brighten, somehow. "I may have merely been enjoying your body," he says, and splays his hands against Clark's pectorals, slides them up to his shoulders. "You're beautiful."

"And you're -- deeply disingenuous. Were you like this with Jason?"

"Sometimes. His curses could reach ecstatic levels of articulation."

"I --" He can imagine that. *Vividly*. Clark licks his lips and gives himself leave to think about it, about the way it would look were that powerful body to *writhe*, the toss of his head...


"You must've... was it like being drugged, Bruce? Did you --"

"Every time. Every moment. And, of course, there was never a time when I could keep myself from giving in to *everything* he asked."

And that -- to release just a little bit of his control, to open himself just enough that Bruce's scent floods him --

There's a moment, sharp and *pure*, when it seems as though that scent is flowing inside him, spearing him and making him want to *twist*. Clark's penis twitches and Bruce's lips part --

"Bruce, I want --"


Impossible not to kiss Bruce, to wrap an arm around him and roll them until he can press Bruce to the bed and *thrust* against him once -- twice. Again.

*Again* --

"Bruce, I will -- there isn't much I wouldn't do to hear you tell me what *you* want --"

"To make love with you until I'm too exhausted to do more than let you move on me, like this --"

"More. *More*, Bruce --"

"I'd like to taste you, have you fill my mouth again -- did you give that to Tim again, Clark? Could you feel him love it?"

"Yes, oh -- yes, " and he *can* stop thrusting, the possibility is available to him, something he can *touch*, but Bruce has raised his knees, is digging them in against Clark --

He can feel how *hard* Bruce is, and he's *making* Bruce slick, marking him and taking, taking *him* --

"He was so beautiful, Bruce, so -- mm. Sharp, like you, but *happy* --"

"You've made him care about you. You've *taught* him this pleasure --"

"I felt like I had stolen something, but I couldn't -- I would never give it *back*, Bruce --"

"And that, more than -- more than *anything* else, is why I never protested your relationship with Dick, and would never -- I'll never try to come between you and Tim, Clark --"

"Oh --" He can *stop*, and he does, if only to make it easier to lean in and kiss Bruce again, to tell him, show him -- "They should *know* how much you love, Bruce, how *well* you love --"

"*Kiss* me --"

Yes, and this time he can control how much they're touching, he can press himself down and know that Bruce can take all of his weight without effort --

Does he wish it *did* take effort? Would that ever be something...

Something almost wild now, because there's Bruce's scent and then there's Bruce's *lust*, a sharper scent than mere arousal, desire -- there's a sense of *covetousness* to the way Bruce is stroking Clark's sides, the way he digs his fingers in before stroking down to Clark's buttocks and --

Oh, *biting* Clark's tongue --

Lois -- oh, Lois would love the way Bruce touched, for all that she might kill him if he ever teased. There's nothing gentle about it, nothing cautious or careful --

There's something almost selfish about the way Bruce is squeezing him, spreading him so that the air is another touch, another goad for Clark's skin --

And Bruce gasps once when Clark pulls back, smiles and slides his fingers into Clark's cleft -- "*Yes*, Bruce --"

"Perhaps you should consider that a... suggestion," Bruce says, and circles Clark's hole with his fingertip, and it's not --

"Not -- conducive to *thought*, Bruce, what --"

"Clark," and Bruce's voice is almost *chiding*, most definitely challenging --

Clark shakes himself and focuses -- "Bruce, you want me to --"

"I want you to cover me, I want --" Bruce sucks in a breath and licks his *teeth*. "You've given this to Dick."

"Taken it, wanted -- oh, *inevitability*, Bruce --"

"And you wanted to, with Tim --"

"He told me -- he'd taken himself with his fingers --"

"Countless times, Clark... will you be watching the next...?"

Control, just a little more than he has now, just -- if he could pull himself *back* --

"Don't, Clark, let me see you *feel* this --"

"*Dick*. The sounds he makes when I'm inside him, the way his scent changes, deepens --"

"The way he moves...?"

Clark groans, long and loud, and he's thrusting against Bruce again, not even -- he can't even make himself move enough to thrust against Bruce's penis. He's -- he's working himself against Bruce's hip, sleek skin and terrible scarring, beautiful *scarring* -- "So beautiful, Bruce, and sometimes -- sometimes he'll throw his head back and *shout*, shameless and pleased, pleasured --"

"Give it to *me*, Clark. Let me -- please, let me feel you --"

"*Bruce*, I --" Clark *stops* himself and floats up, just a few inches --

And Bruce rears up, grabs Clark and *pulls*, and there's no way to resist that, no way to even try. They roll together, and Bruce is thrusting against him, now, biting at Clark's throat and gripping, clawing as they roll --

Clark keeps them from falling off the bed and pushes and pulls Bruce down onto his stomach, bites the back of Bruce's neck and gasps when Bruce groans -- *control* --

Except that Bruce doesn't want that from him, Bruce either knows that Clark won't hurt him, *can't*, or --

"I trust you, Clark. Even when I didn't want to. Even when --" Bruce groans again and Clark realizes that he's licking Bruce, that the salt he tastes is Bruce's sweat, that he's gripping Bruce's forearms and holding them against the *bed*.

Clark pants and wonders if it feels too warm, if that's what's making the small hairs rise, tease his tongue -- Clark sucks and thrusts against Bruce, feeling muscle and skin he's making slicker. "Bruce, I want -- I want you so *badly* --"

"Take," Bruce says and pushes his neck back against Clark's mouth, "what you want."

Clark pants more, tastes Bruce and briefly gets lost -- he's trying to *think*, because surely there has to be some reason to protest this? Some -- some *reason* --

"The lubricant is in the top drawer, Clark."

Clark hears himself whine and thrusts *harder* --

Bruce grunts, and there's something sharper in his scent, pain -- Clark's gripping Bruce's forearms too hard. He lets go and reaches for the drawer, scanning it reflexively until he can catch the bottle on his first try. He can't --

There *must* be something, but he can't think of what it might be, can't think at *all*, and the frightening thing is that he's still holding on to some of his control, he's still banked, dampened --

"Clark, it's all right --"

"I need -- I *need* --"

"*Do* it."

And the first thought -- the *only* thought -- is that this wasn't what Bruce had asked for, that it wasn't what he *wanted*, but --

But Bruce's hole *clenches* when Clark spreads him, and the scent of him is so strong here, so musky and *dark* --

"I *need* you," Clark says, and kisses Bruce as deeply as he can --

"*Clark* --"

Kisses him, loves him and needs him, and maybe he can tell Bruce how much this way, make him feel and understand --

Bruce groans and *bucks*, and Clark begs him not to fight this with his tongue, spells out every secret wish, every plea Bruce had never let him utter. Just -- all the times Bruce had turned *away* from him, every time Bruce had all but shoved him *away*.

And now Bruce *wants*, and it feels like everything, feels like --

Oh, one day he wants to do this while Bruce is *inside* Lois --

Dick --

*Tim*, and he hasn't showed this to Tim, hasn't taken it for himself. Would he like it? Bruce --

Bruce is shaking, shuddering all over and punching the *bed* --

"Clark, you -- slow. Slow down, I --"

Clark moans and pushes *deep*, holds his tongue there --

"Let me *feel*, Clark. Every thrust. Every..." Bruce growls and *twists* in Clark's grip -- oh, he's pushing back against Clark's hands, still shuddering --

Dick never lets him do this unless Dick is already holding on to something. Lois lets him do this in the shower, but nowhere else.

Bruce is beginning to sweat again, body almost seeming to *sigh* out the fresh, clean scent, and the contrast of it with his scent *here* --

Slow, yes, he can -- he can *manage* slow, because he wants Bruce to feel everything now, wants him to remember every moment of this and *want*. He starts thrusting again, spreading Bruce wide with his thumbs and occasionally pulling out to lick Bruce's cleft, to drag his teeth --

"Clark. Clark, I -- the feel is almost. Almost liquid. Filling me, opening me. I haven't -- this is. I've never --"

Clark moans and grips Bruce tighter for a moment, tries to wrap his mind around -- never?

"Don't --" Bruce laughs, breathless and low -- "don't *stop*, Clark --"

He won't. He -- long, even *thrusts*, and it's possible that it's not as slow as Bruce wants, but Bruce moans again --

"Is this -- ah, I could never keep myself from this with. With Jason --"

Clark hums and kisses, pulls Bruce back against his face, tries to get *deeper* --

"He would gasp, his breaths would come out sobbed and -- and desperate. Clark. Clark, I don't -- I'm not sure I -- I never understood why he didn't want to come this way, but now..."

The images -- oh, he can almost *taste* Jason, feel his oils against his tongue, feel the tension in Bruce as he licks and thrusts and yes, *takes* --

"So liquid. So... you're making me feel like something which can flow, be changed into another shape..."

Never change him, never... Clark moans again and Bruce tenses hard --

"Ah, God, *Clark* --"

He wants Bruce to keep speaking, he wants to have Dick and Tim here with them, let them *see* this, and perhaps move aside for them to have a turn to taste Bruce this deeply, to take him inside themselves --

"I've had... dreams of you taking me, forcing me into a pleasure that *consumes* --"

He wants Lois to watch him like this, to understand why it's so important, so necessary --

"Clark, I think -- ah -- deeper. You're -- I *need*, Clark --"

He can't manage deeper, but he can thrust harder, make his tongue feel stiffer, harder --

And Bruce shudders again, reaches back and *grips* Clark's hair --

Oh, no, please, he doesn't want to *stop*. Bruce is clenching around his tongue now, holding and releasing -- Bruce has to realize how much his body is enjoying this, has to *let* Clark --

"In -- inside, I..." Bruce swallows and gasps, over and over --

Clark groans and pulls his tongue out enough to lick in a constant ring, feel the slight ridges of the pucker against his tongue, his lips --

"Stop. You -- *stop* --"

Clark whimpers and *stills* himself -- no, he has to shake, release some of the energy within himself, breathe *deep* --

Bruce pants and tugs on Clark's hair. "Inside me. Penetrate me. *Fuck* me, Clark --"

And Clark is moving before he can think about it, twisting free of the hand in his hair and -- he'd been holding the bottle all along. He'd never used this brand with anyone -- it's unlabeled -- and for all he knows, Bruce had come up with the formula himself.

Perhaps for Jason. Perhaps -- oh, and it feels like being engulfed, *taken* to slick himself with it, it feels like being made love to in another way, because it's Bruce's, and because Bruce wants it *on* him.

And Bruce is on his elbows and knees, breathing harshly and *waiting* for Clark, and he can't possibly tease, not either of them. He flips Bruce over onto his back, ignores the brief surprised sound, and pushes in with one finger just to *test* --

"You -- you're nearly. As tight as Tim was --"

Bruce grunts, flexes and tenses -- "What. What did he do when you penetrated him, Clark. Please, I --"

"He clutched my shoulders. He -- he hid his *face* against me, blushed and licked at me, moaned so wonderfully --"

"When he takes himself --" Bruce groans and clenches around Clark, and Clark wants to know how *much* Bruce has watched, if he resents Clark taking Tim away more than he resents the lovemaking itself --

No, there's no question. Bruce has built a life around only having his family close by monitoring them, *learning* them from a distance that's never quite *too* far -- and oh, Bruce's eyes are closed, seeking behind the lids. "He told me -- he *does* think about you, sometimes, Bruce, you must know this --"

"When he was -- when he was younger. He would -- call my name, from time to time. Call for *Batman*..."

"That must've been wonderful to hear. Terrible, too --"

Bruce shows his teeth and spreads his legs wider --

Phenomenal flexibility for someone with a body like that. He'd *known* that, but seeing it here -- Clark shakes his head and starts thrusting because he *has* to. "What. What would you have done if he'd ever called out *Bruce*?"

"The same, perhaps, as I'd done when Dick would... when..." Bruce sighs and groans again. "For a time it was almost easy to pretend I'd heard nothing of the kind, to tell myself -- to tell myself that it was only adolescent hero worship, nothing to encourage, nothing to *take* --"

"It changed..."

And Bruce is silent for a time, save for the hitch of his breathing, the faint and deadly sound of his skin moving against the sheets as he pushes into Clark's touch, desires --

The *scent* -- "Bruce --"

"Dick -- Dick started to have more control, but by then I could tell how -- how he would touch himself when he wanted... Clark, I started to listen, to *need* --"

"He needed *you* --"

"*No*. By then there were others, other loves..." Bruce laughs again, almost tosses his head on the pillow -- "You have to understand that I was *relieved* as much as I ached, as much as I *wanted* --"

"Oh -- I think. I think I do, but Bruce, you deny yourself so *much* --"

"Not here. Not *now*. Clark --"

"Yes, I -- please tell me when you're ready for two fingers, Bruce, let me -- oh, I want you *open* --"

And Bruce growls, shows his teeth and clenches his fists, *rocks* against Clark's hand -- "*Faster* --"

Yes. Yes, *that*, and it feels so good to do, so perfect to be moving inside Bruce, feel him so smooth and *strong*, even here, and he wants this for Dick and Tim, too, wants it because he knows Bruce would love it, give everything for it --

For all that Bruce loves him, for all that Clark *knows* it, he knows that part of why he's here is because he's the only one that Bruce has allowed, as opposed to the only one Bruce *wants*.

And Bruce --

His breathing is so rough, his body tense with motion, and perhaps it shouldn't be so easy to follow the rhythms Bruce demands, keep to them even as they change and stutter, but Clark thinks it may be *all right* to be inhuman for this, to be this --

Bruce has dreamed of being *consumed* --

"I want so much of you, Bruce --"

"I *know* --"

"Never -- never *enough* --"

"*Two*, Clark --"

Clark kisses Bruce's thigh, leans in and licks next to his finger, in *beside* his own finger --

Bruce cries out and shudders like something earthen, more solid and *deep* than any human could truly *be*... but it's Bruce, and the possible has always been fluid around him, vast and ever-increasing, a spreading pool, something --

Clark doesn't know, and in the end it doesn't matter. It's *enough* to be touching this Bruce this way, to be the *one* --

And perhaps this is what Lois had pictured, what she'd imagined for them, what she'd always known was -- again -- *possible*. Lois is a brilliant woman, and Clark wonders if this happiness could hurt him, somehow, leave him broken and vulnerable to its loss --

No, Bruce had *said* he would probably pull back, and had acknowledged that Clark would push, had welcomed that, loved that about him --

"Clark, don't -- don't make me *wait* -- *oh* --"

A rumbling moan as Clark licks a stripe along Bruce's perineum, a *jerk* when Clark's tongue reaches Bruce's sac, when Clark licks and sucks and -- pulls almost all the way out and pushes in with two, ignoring the tightness around him, the pressure rejecting him --

And the noises Bruce makes are getting louder, becoming almost wild, almost *abandoned*, and Clark wants their positions to be reversed and he wants to never stop, wants them to be a loop of themselves, an unbroken chain of pleasure --

He's losing himself rapidly, even without consciously letting go of more of his control. His body *remembers* Bruce's hands, Bruce's teeth and Bruce's *skin*. He's sweating with it, and his own scent is mingling with Bruce's, folding in against the living pressure of everything Bruce's scent is doing to him to become something even stronger, something --

"Clark --"

"It feels -- it *smells* like we're already entwined, Bruce, like we've already made love somewhere I can't reach --"

Bruce grunts -- "A tease. For you. For -- ah, *open* me, Clark, don't let me --" Another growl, and Bruce is gripping at the sheets, yanking them toward himself --

Trying to cover? "Bruce, you're so... there aren't words for how you look right now --"

"Desperate. Needy. Demanding --"

"Hungry, *open*, *pleasured* -- oh, the way you're moving, almost fighting me for *more* --"

"I *want* you," Bruce says, and it's the most dangerous threat Clark has ever heard, more meaningful than the Kryptonite in the Cave, and he will never forget this, never lose a moment.

He'll describe it for Lois in as much detail, the *finest* detail he can, and he will live it again while he's doing it, and then again every chance he *gets*. He'll kiss it into Dick's mouth and stroke it into Tim's skin, this potential, this *power* -- "You make me feel as though I could do *anything*, Bruce, and I know it must -- it must sound ridiculous, but --"

"You -- to be desired by a miracle --"

"*Bruce* --"

"In me, Clark, no -- no more *waiting* --"

And the part of his mind which wants to protest, *needs* to, is in no way connected to his hand, sliding out of Bruce --

He wants to taste Bruce once more, separate out the complexity of his flavors from that of the lubricant, he wants --

He wants to have watched Jason do this, to live in his scarred skin as he lifted himself above Bruce --

As Clark rises and takes himself in hand --

To feel Jason's wonder as he nudged and pressed against Bruce's hole, to be able to curse so fluently Bruce was left with no protest --

And Clark pushes in, hears himself shouting and tastes the lingering cool brush of ghosts, the perfect sweetness of connection, love --

"Oh, *Bruce* --"

Bruce has no words for this, and that's perfect, as well, each low noise more humbling and arousing than the last --

Inside --

Oh, *inside* --

The physical realities are *not* meaningless. He has to -- he has to *remember*, to hold on to how *tight* Bruce is, to know that it doesn't matter how slick Clark's penis is if he moves too roughly, too quickly --

And then Bruce opens his eyes. They're dark, wide, almost -- almost *young*, and Clark knows, with all of himself, that this fear is the one Bruce has lived with from the first moment he understood *Dick's* desire, this fear of causing hurt, causing *damage* --

"Bruce. Bruce --"


But --

Oh, maybe it's perfect to shake for this, to lower himself, cover Bruce and brace himself on his hands. He can't fly, can't move --

Can't *think* -- no. He's here, in this moment, and nowhere else. Thought is still -- still *available*, he just has to reach for it, struggle the way Bruce is struggling against himself, clenching so *tightly* around Clark and still gazing up into Clark's eyes.

His lips are parted and there's such color in his cheeks, such flush and warmth --

"Bruce. Beautiful. So -- oh, please don't close your eyes again, please let me --"

"Clark," and the sound is strangled, breathy --

It's still a command, and impossible not to follow when Bruce *does* open his eyes again, when he looks --

Pleads *wordlessly* but not silent, not -- oh, the *feel*.

The thrust and slide, so slow, so -- he can't seem to --

It's hard, but Bruce is telling him it's not *too* hard with every hitched breath, with the pound of his heart so close to Clark's own. Clark has to *touch*, and he brushes Bruce's face with one hand --

His hand is *trembling*, and the sight makes him moan, and the feel --

Bruce turns and sucks Clark's fingers *in*, bites them and sucks harder, moans around them -- it feels like the vibration of it will shake Clark apart, like --

He's thrusting faster and he can't *stop* himself, and Bruce's eyes are squeezed shut, now, as he sucks, licks and moans *rhythmically*. It seems impossible, *perverse* that he's pushing those sounds out of Bruce, that he's making him -- taking --

"Oh, *please*," Clark says, and realizes that his own eyes are closed now, tries to look through them and sees a jumble of furnishings, the Cave, stone and soil -- "Bruce -- Bruce, help me --"

Bruce opens his mouth around Clark's fingers and groans once more -- and grips Clark's shoulders, squeezes what must be *brutally* hard before wrapping one arm around the back of Clark's neck and pulling him in --

Shouting into Clark's *mouth*, licking and kissing, biting --

Shouting *again*, and Clark knows it's *harder* now, too, that control is a thread, smoke --

His body is a machine someone else has programmed, the command is *this* --

Bruce throws his head back and swallows, gasps and cries out again --

*Again* --

The pleasure -- the *pressure* --

The coiling pull at the base of his spine, tighter with every thrust, with every moment he can watch Bruce's throat work, watch the images flash and change because he's lost control of his vision entirely. Squeezing his eyes shut is meaningless, blinking --

Oh, he *wants*, and part of him can't believe he's having this, and part of him feels as though it has always been *just* this, that the memories are illusions, that every carefully formed belief about Bruce's control, Bruce's *reserve* --

It's all a *lie*, and he has the proof, and he's not -- he won't --

"*Bruce* --" And he means it to be a warning, or -- something, *please*. He's close. He's -- he bites his lip and tries to slow himself down, ease back, take *hold* of himself --

And the physical memory of pushing in hits like a blow, forces him to cry out again, and he can't hear *Bruce*. He has to be quiet, has to take every moment --

Every --

And Bruce tenses hard, jerks beneath him -- and the splash of his semen against Clark's abdomen -- the sound of his groan --

"Oh -- oh, no, I don't *want* to --"

"*Clark* --"

"Bruce -- Bruce, *ah* --"

It feels -- he's being hammered with sensation, blasted by his own senses -- the clench of Bruce around him, the sound of their hearts beating, the taste of the air, faintly humid and *thick* with sex --

Voices raised across the world, the sound of Lois shifting in her sleep --

He can't stop and he can't hear himself, only feel himself shouting desperately, feel something gripping --

Bruce grips him by the hair and pulls him into another kiss, *moans* for him again, for the feel of Clark driving in -- oh --

And this blast has no sound, no image or scent, no -- only pleasure, blinding and powerful, and there's no control he can take, no resistance possible to the way he's spilling himself inside Bruce, losing everything and needing to wring himself *dry* --

What seems like eons later he's aware of Bruce kissing him again, making love to the whole of Clark's mouth with slow and thorough *care*. It's far more than a kiss, and Clark feels almost unqualified to return it. It's too much, and he still feels more than a little shaky, lost to every *touch*.

Bruce seems to feel Clark coming back to himself and cups Clark's face in both hands. The kiss is shallower now, slow and necessary to reach for a little -- Bruce is letting his head sink into the pillow a little, now --

He's in Bruce's *bed*, he's in *Bruce* -- Clark moans and feels himself twitching --

Bruce sighs and licks Clark's tongue before pulling back.

"Oh... Bruce. I --"

"I concur," Bruce says, and the smile on his face starts out small and a little sharp, but gradually widens and loses some of its focus --

Clark leans in and kisses it -- starts to, but Bruce winces. It's been a long time for -- *had* Bruce made love to Jason this way? To anyone? "Bruce -- should I pull out?"

"I'm... somewhat conflicted on the matter," Bruce says, chuckling softly and stroking Clark's face with both hands. "I -- a moment."

Clark nods and lets himself feel Bruce's tightness, his heat, the small changes in texture inside which mean Bruce is at least a little *raw* -- no. He pulls himself *back* and shivers at the loss of so much all at once --

"Clark. Was control really necessary for you now? I -- can't believe I just asked that question." Another chuckle and Bruce drops his hands --

"Oh, I... believe me when I say that I'd rather not have... pulled back. But if I hadn't..."

"You would've needed to take me again," Bruce says, nodding and closing his eyes. "Pull out."

Clark does so slowly, watching Bruce's face to make sure he doesn't need to stop or slow down --

*Wanting* to stop or at *least* slow down --

Bruce's expression doesn't shift, however, and then Clark is out and hovering a little. Bruce pulls one knee up, plants his foot and reaches up so he can rest his head on one forearm.

He is... "Bruce, you are... stunning. Perhaps somewhat literally."

Bruce raises an eyebrow with his eyes still closed. "I suppose this *does* count as a pose."

"You will take a compliment and you will *like* it, Bruce --"

"Or else...?" Bruce's smile is lazy -- and absolutely vicious when he does open his eyes.

"Oh... I think I've lost my train of thought," Clark says, and traces Bruce's mouth with one finger, allowing himself time just to watch the motion, the way the slight pressure causes the flesh to bow inward, a little... Bruce's lips are quite swollen --

"Hmm. Come here," and Bruce pats the bed beside him.

Clark does so, lying on his back beside Bruce and letting their arms brush, their feet... Bruce has always been much hairier than Clark is, and the tickle and scratch of those hairs just make this even more bogglingly real, even more -- "Bruce, I -- I'll understand when you need to pull away from me for a time, but I'm really going to be quite... I believe Lois would describe it as 'pissy.'"

"Pre-emptive objections noted," Bruce says, and drags the hand he's not resting on through the mess on Clark's abdomen.

"That feels wonderful..."

"Yes, it does."

Clark moves his own hand near Bruce's, and then just watches their hands slide and almost dance around each other. The visual makes Clark think a little about ice-skating, and it's possible that he's either had too much sex lately or not nearly *enough*.

"Yes, Clark...?"

"Amusing myself with my own idiocies. Lois has another term for when I'm like this..."

"Jason tended to call it being 'fuck-dumb.'"

Clark laughs. "You know, I never thought *before* that Lois and Jason would get along, but perhaps I was just being small-minded."

"It happens to the best of us," Bruce says, and catches Clark's hand in his own, grips -- "I need to rest."

"I know that, Bruce, and to be honest... to be honest, this is already more than I expected --"

"But not more than you wanted," and Bruce brings Clark's hand to his mouth, licks it and kisses the knuckles. "Some... it seems dangerous to speak of 'other times' for this, but I promise to be more accomodating some other time, just the same."

"Oh, Bruce, you've already been *wonderfully* accommodating --"

"All right, I've changed my mind," Bruce says, and *bites* Clark's knuckles.

"I -- ah. Blame years of Dick's friendship...?"

Bruce hums and pushes Clark's hand down until he can rest it against his own abdomen --

"You feel so wonderful under my hand, Bruce. Perhaps... would you be able to sleep if I simply stayed here quietly for a little while...?"

Bruce shakes his head once. "I -- I'm sorry, Clark."

A disappointment, but only small. He can watch Bruce sleep from a distance, and still have the scent of him in his nose, the feel of him in his memories. "It's all right. But thank you for the apology."

"Practice makes perfect," and Bruce squeezes Clark's hand before patting it... goodbye.

Clark nods to himself and zips back down to the Cave to wipe himself down with a cloth and suit up before moving back to the bedroom and being struck *hard* by the scent of the room, so *rich*.

And Bruce is still just lying there on his back, looking like the world's most serious *pin-up* -- "Bruce, I'm -- I'm *here*."

Bruce nods.

"No, I'm *here*. When you talk to Dick and Tim, when it does or doesn't go well -- please remember that I'm here?" And -- he knows that Bruce had heard him the first time, and that repeating himself will do nothing to make his point stronger, but --

Bruce inclines his head, and seems content to leave it at that.

Clark --

Clark feels a little as though he's watching himself from the outside as he moves back to the bed and rests his hand on Bruce's abdomen, but -- no. He can keep himself from sitting down.

"I won't forget, Bruce. I won't -- ever." And it sounds like he's *threatening* Bruce, but --

It makes Bruce smile at him again, warm and more than a little dangerously. "Noted, Clark."

Not Superman. He *could* drag this out a little longer, but... Bruce won't rest with him here. That -- perhaps that will happen another time. Clark nods and goes, pausing to look down on Gotham, on Bludhaven...

Bruce doesn't move for several minutes. Dick and Tim are still sleeping --

He goes.


He spends the rest of the night in flight, chasing the darkness and looking for places where he can help, people who might need him. A part of him feels unfinished, as if there's something else which needs to be said or done within his personal life, someone he can touch *personally*, as opposed to professionally.

It's an illusion, however, and a familiar one -- he's never more restless than after making love to someone who -- for whatever reason, good or bad or indifferent -- doesn't want him to stay as long as... well. It's never long enough. There can never be such a thing as long *enough*.

He's surrounded every day by the most fascinating, brilliant and curious people. People with deep hurts that drive them to ease the pain for others, people so full of joy that they can't help but impart that joy to others. People who have, in one way or another, sacrificed large parts of themselves to do the sort of things Clark himself can and does often do without effort or thought.

They're all so *different*, from himself and from each other. They're all human in the best ways, the most frustrating and *compelling* ways --

He wants to know them, and his younger self had honestly believed that was possible, that he would grown into someone who could absorb and understand, and had just somehow failed to *act* on that ability. That boy was right to some extent, and if Kon wasn't sleeping so deeply, Clark would go to him right now, drag him out and up into the sky, higher and higher until the colors change, until they *have* to use their powers just to survive -- thrive -- in the radiation, the rarefied air...

Yes, to a certain extent he *is* capable of such things. It's just that for the most part he isn't. Dick has always wanted a partner for him, and Clark has always known that wasn't possible -- and that it had nothing to do with the vast gulf between Clark's powers and those of countless other heroes.

No. It's who he is, and who he isn't. It's the fact that, every day, he chooses which screams to respond to and which to ignore. It's the fact that he can know a million details about a person and nothing about their minds, what drives them and what makes them risk themselves, day after day and night after night. He has the basics, and he understands them well enough -- these are all such wonderful *people* -- but.

In the end, there are moments like these. He can stave them off in the arms of his wife or one of his other lovers, but not forever. Everything is momentary, fleeting, and sometimes no more tangible than an emotion expressed only behind cold blue eyes. He can't *sleep* the way they do, and he doesn't ever dare to lose himself entirely, not even with Diana.

It's too much, and it has been too much for as long as he can remember. But it isn't always a melancholy thing, not by a long road.

His powers, his alien-ness -- they allow him to do the things others can't, they allow him, perhaps, the freedom and power to *give* himself to as many of these people as he can, to take from them, to live in them for more -- always more -- of those brief moments.

He can *taste* what it means to be human, he can learn and grow and become something larger than himself, someone who, perhaps, will one day deserve the many staggering riches this planet has gifted him with. He can give pleasure, relief and *release*.

He can love, desperately and openly, and make that love felt. He can wrap them all in his warmth, and sometimes he can even do it without taking something for himself.


Clark smiles ruefully and looks at his hands. He can give while taking, as well, and that, too, is something to be grateful for.

Oh, but for someone to hold right *now*, until he must become the Clark Kent which is suitable for public consumption --

It only takes a moment to be back in the bedroom he shares with Lois, and another to brush a lock of her hair from her cheek.

He can *love* --

And he does.


And a little bit of a missing scene. The context: I fought *hard* to keep Kon out of this story, as I wanted to keep it wholly Clark and the Bats. However... 

Pixie: Are you absolutely *sure* you don't want to have Clark meet Kon? (also I want to KNOW what Tim said to Kon in order to get his clothes!!!)

"R to S."


"I need a set of your clothes."

"I... yeah? What are you planning to do with them, hunh?"

"Give them to someone else to wear."

"Is that someone else kinda short and scrawny and freaky and quiet and weird and also not as hot as me?"

"... no."



"I mean, I'd understand, dude. You only get to see me a couple days a week, you start to get a craving, a little jones for the Kid goin' on..."


"I will not judge you if you hold the shirt up to your nose and take a deep, slow breath, your eyes closed, a little color in your cheeks -- we all have needs, Rob."

"I see. I don't suppose you know why one of my spare capes is missing...?"


"I also seem to be missing a mask."

"Well -- uh."

"No ideas come to mind, Kon? Perhaps I should give you some time to... think about it. Deeply."

"Dude, it was Bart's idea."

"I see."

"And anyway -- anyway you have a *lot* of those things."

"It's true."

"It's not like I have them in some creepy little shrine or anything."

"Of course not."

"And I didn't get them dirty!"

"Perish the thought."

"Dude, just -- okay! I'll give you my clothes. Dammit."

"I appreciate it."

"Rassa frassin'. Least you could do is steal 'em like a normal freakboy."

"Perhaps next time, Kon."

"Yeah, right, whatever, see you in an hour or so."