Tim has stopped -- almost entirely -- waiting for
someone to notice. The fact that Janet Haywood dresses
more conservatively than she used to, the fact that she
tends to speak rather softly when she does so at all,
the fact that she has developed a fondness for broad,
tight chokers, the -- the *fact*.

The fiction is far more attractive -- perhaps he means
'compelling' -- even here in Metropolis, and the only
thing the people at this party are looking for is some
sign that Brucie is growing tired of her. Perhaps this
will be the night when some paparazzo gets a shot of
him in a corner with some other woman, or perhaps they
will see it, themselves. Perhaps she'll be a blonde,
this time, or a redhead.

Perhaps Janet will make a scene. Tim knows she won't --
there's enough of that when he dances with Bruce, and
when Tim's makeup faces the challenge of a long, messy,
and very public kiss -- but... still. The eyes on him
are the equivalent of a circled crowd around some
brutal, back-alley brawl. They lack the intelligence
of wolves. It's... enervating.

This, perhaps, is the reason why Janet is smiling so
broadly at the hopelessly unfashionable reporter, if
not why she's quite this close. Bruce is too good a
catch -- no one is expecting *Janet* to slip. Tim
pats a lapel a bit too broad for the season -- and
the party -- and simpers over the rim of a champagne
flute. "Did you get any *good* pictures... oh, where
*is* your name tag?"

"Ah -- it's Clark. Clark Kent. I don't -- I'm afraid
I'm not a photographer. Miss."

Janet pouts. Tim rolls his eyes. "What good *are* you,

"I hope I can capture this party for the Planet," he
says, earnest as a knitted sock. Except for his eyes,
which are both wide and searching. "I -- don't believe
we've been introduced."

"No, we haven't," Tim says, and Janet looks back over
one shoulder, stretching just enough to show the
choker to good effect, as well as the line of her
throat. "Brucie usually does this sort of thing *for*
me," Tim says, and Janet gazes up into Clark Kent's
eyes. "You don't know me?"

"I -- I have to admit you look familiar," he says,
and brings a notebook up between them, flipping
through bent and torn pages covered with notes,
doodles, sketches. "If you would just give me a

Janet is distinctly non-plussed. Tim is... not.
"I'm Janet Haywood," he says, and crosses his
arms -- carefully. Janet doesn't have Tim's
biceps. "Don't you people know *anything* out

"Oh, I -- Miss Haywood, yes. I believe I'd heard...
you and Bruce Wayne are together?" The pen seems
to hover over the notebook, and Kent's eyes are
eager things. He actually thinks he's getting a
*scoop*. "Er... how long? If I may ask?"

Janet frowns her distaste. "It's been *forever*.
Weeks and *months*," she says, and gives in to
the urge to look for Brucie, again. "You'd better
get it right."

Clark blinks at him, and Tim thinks even Janet
would notice the surprise. Brucie is dancing with
the lieutenant *governor*, of all people, and
Janet will not let some dried-up old political
hag steal *her* thunder.

She turns to go, dismissing the useless reporter
with a wave --

"Oh, please don't," Clark says and catches her by
the *elbow*.

"*Excuse* me," Janet says. Tim can do nothing
about the smile behind his eyes.

"Oh, I'm -- terribly sorry," he says, but he
doesn't let *go*. It would be horribly, *awfully*
obvious to tug.

"You -- take your *hand* off me," Janet whispers,
anger letting her voice deepen just a little.

"I'd only like a moment of your -- of your time,"
Clark says, and changes his grip to more of a cup,
careful and marginally correct. "I'd really like
to... the article should be as accurate as
possible, Miss Haywood."

Janet -- is not averse to publicity. The Planet
is no tabloid. And... she's heard the name 'Clark
Kent' before. Not as much as 'Lois Lane,' but --
still. Janet tightens her mouth.

"Please? I -- an exclusive with the young woman
who's been taking *all* of Bruce Wayne's attention
would be quite a coup."

It would, in fact, cause a great deal of wailing,
and perhaps more than a little gnashing of teeth
in a certain portion of Gotham -- and New York,
and Metropolis -- society. Janet's smile isn't
very different from Tim's own. "Well... I suppose,"
Janet says, and deliberately relaxes, tilts her
head back --

"Oh, thank you *very* much," Clark says, and --

And then Janet is somewhat confused. She had *been*
at the party -- if in the ghetto of the press --
but somehow, now, she's on a rooftop? The lights
of Metropolis are somewhat *dizzying* -- "Oh. I
think I may have had too much *champagne*," she
says, and walks very carefully to the edge, where
she places her flute.

"Oh, have you? That can be very dangerous," Clark
says, and closes much of the distance between them.
"Very -- well. Risky, even."

Janet laughs and pats the man on his -- rather
*broad* chest. "Life without risk is *so* dull,"
she says, and closes her eyes a little at the feel
of the wind ruffling her hair. The wind is stronger
up here, and Tim wonders about the integrity of his
look. Clark --

Clark catches his elbow again. Hers. "Tim..."

Predictable. Janet smiles from under her lashes.

"You," he says, and taps on the choker rather

Well -- all right. "Not -- like this," he says, and
rolls his shoulders. His outfit is more of a suit
than anything else, loose and flowing, suggestive
rather than openly conversational. The wind is
teasing at his calves and ankles, but the person
who would shiver and clutch at herself -- hinting,
strongly, that a warm arm would not be amiss -- is
not wanted here. "For the most part, in any event."

Clark shakes his head. "You -- you and Bruce."

"It's not that I expected you to be aware of every
detail, but..."

"I -- they were only suspicions. When you were
biologically female, he became... rather difficult
to reach. As did you."

Tim nods and resists the urge to push a hand through
his hair. It would only make it worse, and -- "It's
too easy to imagine the events in Gotham becoming
known in other places, but it's true that we mostly
keep our gossip to ourselves."

"Gossip. Is that -- Tim, what are you *doing*?"

"In terms of this?" Tim gestures at himself, taking
everything in for Clark's nod. "Enjoying myself,
for the most part. The rest -- enjoying *Bruce*
enjoying himself. With me."

"Dick -- you were involved with him, weren't you?
That part, at least..."

"Leaked. Via the Titans, I imagine. Different --
he wasn't enjoying himself," Tim says. "I -- I
don't think I'll have any answers for you, Clark."

A light touch on the arm of Janet's inadequate
jacket, trailing down the arm. "Do you have
answers for yourself?"

"I --" Clark is looking back over his shoulder.
"What is it?"

"I should have known he would come *directly*
here," Clark says, frowning, and Tim doesn't need
anything else to confirm that they're on the
rooftop of the same building *as* the party,
just as he doesn't need to *see* Bruce to know...

"An assignation, rose hips? *Without* me?"

"Oh, I would *never*," Janet says, and rests a
hand over the shield which is currently quite
well hidden behind Clark's shirt. "Don't be mad,
darling, please."

"You --" Clark stares at both of them -- and
gently removes Janet's hand. "Please stop that."

It's a surprise when Bruce does, of the sort
which makes Tim question his reflexes. Tim pulls
his hand from Clark's grip and thinks about
invitations -- lost chances.

Choices, when Bruce moves close enough to rest a
hand on Tim's shoulder. Tim covers it with his
own. "It's nothing for you to worry about, Clark."


"No," Bruce says, and reaches with his other hand
to grip Clark's forearm. It's a request neither
of them -- none of them -- are making aloud, and,
perhaps, it's better this way.

If Tim goes back to the party now, alone, any
number of rumors will spread -- especially if he
doesn't do much to his hair. It's the sort of
thing which keeps people talking to Bruce -- and
to Janet, to a lesser extent -- and that sort of
conversation can lead to a great degree of useful
information. And, of course, it's the sort of
thing which makes people absolutely sure that
they know everything important about Bruce Wayne.

Safety, of a different sort than the feel of Bruce's
hand tightening on Tim's shoulder as Tim twists and
moves away. Clark sees everything, of course, but --
Tim pulls Janet a little tighter around himself
with every step, until --

"You *don't* have to go."

Until Bruce's voice is an accident of the wind, the
champagne, the night itself. "Boy-talk is *boring*,
Brucie. You know where I'll be."

Janet twiddles her fingers in the laziest possible
wave for the reporter, and heads toward the elevators.

Bruce will undoubtedly have *something* to say about
his conversation with Clark, but whether or not it
will be of interest...

It's of no moment to Janet.