Crack the darkest sky wide
by Te
December 2, 2004

Disclaimers: If they were mine, I'd just be too smug for

Spoilers: Vague, vague ones for old storylines, in an
AU way.

Summary: He's always had all of them.

Ratings Note: NC-17.

Author's Note: Part of the Angels You Need series. Will
*not* make any sense without reading the others first.
In terms of timeline, this story starts toward the end
of "So I just race," continues concurrently through
"Reflect the sun" and "Can't look you in the eye," and
ends *before* "On top of the world."

Consider it something between a missing 'scene' and
a companion story.

Acknowledgments: To LC, Jack, Livia, and, of course,
Mary, for audiencing, encouragement, helpful
suggestions, and figuring out what goes where.

Dedication: I missed your birthday, Slod, but I sure
was *thinking* of you...


The manor doesn't smell like home, but Jason knows
that's as much a matter of 'yet' as of anything else.

There are a few structural changes, here and there --
zoning laws had, amazingly, *changed*, in, like, the
century since Wayne Manor had been built the first
time -- but, overall...

If he closes his eyes, he can still walk from his bed
(in which no one has slept but him), to the room
that used to be *officially* his in a minute or two
and a hundred paces. From there, he can hook a
left and eventually touch the door which Dick had
never been measured against, or a right and then
another, and touch the door to the room Babs
had never stayed in -- as opposed to staying in
just the once that he could remember.

Or *just* a right, eventually touch the wall where
Steph had -- hadn't -- banged her head once
during a game of tag with Tim.

And there's a part of him which wants to put up
all the old marks and scars (he'd only have to do
it lightly, because it's not like Alfred *hadn't*
repaired them), but there's also...

Right now, the place smells of new paint and wood
and sawdust from the few places which are still
unfinished. It won't last.

And even though it *does* feel more unnatural
than Robin's little tower, or even Helena's
apartment block...

*That* won't last, either. One day, he's going to
ask Helena to move in here, or at least give up a
little of her leash on Cassandra. Steph, for her part,
doesn't plan on living in Gotham forever, but she
already has clothes in her room.

Just hers.


Well, he's got faith. Tim is still out in Smallville, but...
heh. Faith isn't a part of it. The city's already feeling
the lack of a Robin, and the skels say things which
make Jason wonder how Bruce had *coped* after
Dick had left, and while he was still recuperating.
Tim will be back here *sooner* or later, and maybe,
just maybe, he'll be able to convince him to finally
*take* the room Alfred's always had waiting for him

The... only slightly different room, now.

And speaking of Smallville...

His hearing isn't nearly as good as Tim's -- it hasn't been
that good, period, since the explosion -- but he can
still hear the weird *patter* of leaves against his
window and know what it means.

And he's moving before he's even really *conscious*
of it and opening his window, because --

"Clark, whoa, what's up?" Clark is usually *way* more
careful than that.

"Jason. I'm... sorry about your elm."

And... right. It's looking a little stripped from here.
"Not a problem. Just..." He makes a little 'come on,
out with it' gesture and Clark frowns. At himself --
*for* himself -- more than for him, so Jason's
guessing whatever it is isn't strictly about him.

"I... have things I have to do, but Tim..."

Or maybe it is. "Yeah?"

Another frown. "He told me to tell you 'Code 47,' and
I thought you might want -- Jason? Is there a

After a moment, Jason manages to *stop* gaping
like a friggin' fish, but that's really no help at all,
considering. "He -- Tim told *you* to tell me 'Code

"Well, yes. I spoke to him several minutes ago, and
he seemed to feel it was something... something
important enough -- are you *laughing*?"

No. Maybe a little. Yes, yes he totally is. Jason
covers his mouth and snickers. "Yeah, um, it's
important, but... you totally need to come in."

"Jason, I'm sorry, but I have to --"

"Come in, Clark," he says, and the command-voice
comes out so easily he should probably be disturbed,
but it makes Clark focus on him -- as opposed to
whatever those superears are hearing. He softens it
with a different sort of come-on gesture -- closer
to the one he'd use when he was daring Tim to
attack him, way back when -- and Clark does.

And closes the window behind him with still
another -- he's on a roll, today -- frown.

"What's going on?"

"Jason --"

"Clark." He folds his hands over his chest and raises
an eyebrow.

The look on Clark's face is downright *stubborn*. "I
think you should at least tell me what 'Code 47'

And that's... well, if Tim had cared about Clark
knowing, he wouldn't have sent the message *this*
way, and Tim's pretty much the go-to guy in terms
of family security, as far as Jason's concerned, so...
Jason shakes his head. "Holdover from back when
Bruce was still around. The Codes are a shorthand
for action which needs to be taken." And...

The frown on Clark's face gets deeper. "And the
'action' in this case?"

Jason snorts and steps back to sit on the bed. "All
about you, my friend. So --"

"Wait. Just -- he's telling you that I need to be
watched? That I'm... somehow a matter of

Jason grins. "Mildly. We're not supposed to whip
out the Kryptonite until Codes 48-56."

For a second there, it really looks like Clark is going
to be *pissed*, but then he blows out a breath
and smiles ruefully. "I suppose I shouldn't be
surprised. Really, though, I'm quite all right."

"Uh, huh. 'Code 47 -- The most powerful being on
the planet is making an unbelievable stupid -- I'm
paraphrasing -- attempt to handle a potentially
dangerous situation alone. Convince him otherwise.'"

"I'm not --"


Another flash of anger, and this one looks close to
'whoops, the drapes are on fire' or maybe 'I
suppose I didn't *need* that wall.'

"Friends, Clark. Remember?"

The anger fades into a gusty little sigh and Clark pulls
a -- massively heavy, actually -- armchair closer to
the bed and sits down in it. "I'm *not* trying to
handle anything alone. Believe me when I say it
wouldn't be possible for me to do so."

"Because Robot Wonder already cut you off at the

"Yes." If there were any justice in the world that
didn't wear tights, Tim felt *that* glare.

"O-kay. So. Obviously there's something you *want*
to be doing, or Tim wouldn't have broken radio

Stubborn again. Right.

"You could kick the crap out of me with your little
finger, man, but that won't stop me from *trying*
to keep you here."

For some reason -- he maybe, maybe has a few
ideas about that -- *that* softens Clark right up.
To the point where he looks a little horrified.

Good enough. "Hey, I tell you about all of *my* drama."

And Clark looks west for a moment, but the frown on
his face is more *sad* than anything else, and...
yeah. *That's* a question worth asking.

When he gets a chance.

"It's... I told you about the trip into Metropolis Tim
took with... with Superboy."

And it *sounds* like he wanted to say something
else, there, but.... yeah. Jason nods. "Fallout?"

Clark stares at his own hands. "It turns out that the
trip was... business-related."

"Color me shocked. Oh, wait, don't."

"Tim... investigated Cadmus Labs. With Superboy.
*About* Superboy, and his... Tim had me fly a
blood sample over to the Titans for a full genetic
workup, and possibly other things."

*Probably* other things. But... "I'm still not sure
what the trouble is, Clark. You told me they'd
gotten close. Tim knows more about my DNA
than *I* do." Which, granted, isn't difficult, but...

Clark looks pained again.

"Clark --"

"I... he has reason to believe that Superboy was
created to be a weapon against me."


"By *Luthor*."

Really high levels of 'whoa,' right there, and a lot
of explanation. Maybe more than Clark intended.

"I just... I know how much you -- all of you -- have
studied Bruce's past missions, and the JLA's for
that matter, and I don't want to imply that any
of you might not understand the implications of a
given situation, but..."

No, *definitely* more. He lets Clark keep talking.

"... understand the scope of the man's evil, the
*subtlety*. It doesn't matter that we've always
been able to beat him, he always causes so
much *hurt*..."

And talking.

"... trying to clone me for *years*, and the
business with Bizarro -- multiple *times*, and
few people were hurt worse than the clones
*themselves* --"

"So Tim's got the Titans on this, you say?"

"Well, yes, but --"

"And he informed you as soon as he knew
something. As soon as he *thought* he knew

"Again, yes --"

"And he had you come to me -- knowing full well that
you'd give *me* the heads-up."

"Eventually, and -- well, that's the *subtext* of Tim's
actions, Jason, but --"

"But it's Luthor," Jason says, and leans back against
the headboard.

"*Yes*. He's... well, frankly, he's a *menace*, Jason,
and I don't care what he says about his past in
those... those *campaign* ads."

Jason nods. "You don't care, because it's Luthor, and
because you're *itching* to rush in and grab him
by the lapels and shake some answers out of him,
no matter what. No matter what kind of security he
has set up, no matter how much *Kryptonite* he
has laying around... "

"I... I know better than *that*, Jason."

"Sure you do. Look, let me tell you something about

Clark scowls a little. "Jason --"

He holds up a hand, and waits for the scowl to even
out again. "So I don't know how much you *ever*
knew about the man, but the short version is this --
before he got the acid to the face and lost his
mind? He was the D.A. in this county. More than
that, he was Bruce's *best friend*."

"He'd... mentioned something about that."

Jason nods. "I'm a little surprised that he did, but
not by much. Because Bruce *never* got over that.
Not once. And when it came down to it, when I
was still too injured to watch his back -- when he
was being a giant *prick* about *needing*
back-up -- Dick still went after Bruce to help.
Because he knew it didn't matter how good Bruce
was -- he wasn't *capable* of keeping a clear head
about Two-Face. About *Harvey*."


"And yeah, in the end, Two-Face *still* killed them.
*Both* of them. Because they needed even more
back-up than *that*. Am I making my point?"

Clark's staring at the floor, brow furrowed and hands
clenched together hard enough that he could
probably make a few diamonds if there was any
coal around. "It... *isn't* me Tim is looking to

And that's the other problem? Maybe. "Superboy."
Clark takes a breath and looks at him, and there's
so much in his eyes Jason isn't sure he *can*
detangle it.

"Tim's actions, in this matter, have been... very
logical. Very *business-like*, but... I feel there's
something... else. In terms of his emotions."

Something else. Right. "You know, I'm impressed
at the complete lack of irony in that statement,
Clark --"

"*Jason*. I... I haven't been... explicit, about...
about what I know --"

"They're sleeping together."

Clark reaches out, but stops when his hand reaches
the bed. "I didn't mean to tell you this way, but --"

"Clark... I knew. I mean, I didn't *know*, but trust
me when I say you haven't been real subtle, okay?"

"And I apologize for that. I know how much you
care about him --"

"It's not important."

"It *is* --"

"It *isn't*." He grabs for Clark's hand before he can
move away again and squeezes. "It's not important
because it doesn't change a thing about what *I'd*
do in a situation like this, or about what *Tim*
would do. What Tim *is* doing."

Clark stares at their hands and doesn't say anything.

"And you know that just as well as *I* do -- no
matter *what* you want to believe right now."

When Clark looks up, his smile is almost cold, but
it's more rueful than anything else. "You're right,
of course."

Jason squeezes his hand again. "And you know
I'll keep you in the loop."

"Tim already mentioned that... that was his plan."

Probably in the most insane-making way possible,
but... Jason nods and lets go, tapping Clark's knuckles
with his fist instead. "So. What else do I need to

"I'm not... altogether sure," Clark says, and the
coldness fades into confusion.

"You don't really get how Tim and I work, yet, do

"I was under the impression that you *didn't* -- I,
no, that wasn't fair, I'm -- and you're laughing again."

Yeah, pretty much.

"One day, Jason, I'd very much like to make you
laugh on *purpose*."

Jason grins. "Where would be the fun in that?"


He could just buzz Roy directly, but he's trying to be
reasonable about things. Whoever picks up the
Titans' general line is more likely to have been
updated on the Superboy sitch than just a random
Titan, and, well, it's a good chance that it'll *be*

"Cyborg here."

Except that it isn't. Jason grits his teeth. "It's Batman.
I understand you spoke to Superman earlier?"

There's a brief hesitation, but *only* a brief one.
"Yes. And this line is secure."

"Good to know. What's the status?"

"I've started the tests Robin wanted me to run, but I
won't have anything solid for at least a day. I take it
this is a rush?"

Like you need to chop something else off Tim before I
find out and beat you until you bleed something
other than *motor* oil. He grits his teeth a little
more. "It's Luthor," he says, "so, yes."

Another pause. "I was under the impression that
Luthor's involvement was only suspected, at this

Only -- no. "It's one of *Robin's* suspicions, Cyborg.
Which means it's the next best thing to a fact. He's
the best detective we have."

"He's a lot of things."

He has no *right* -- "Cyborg."

"Including a kid who seems to feel like he has
something to prove to you."

Tim has *nothing* -- "Is there something you feel a
need to say to me, Cyborg?"

This pause is followed by a sigh. "I'm not trying to
pick a fight with you, Batman."

He still *has* Cyborg's specs -- Tim hadn't always
tried to protect his systems from *them*. "No?"

"I'm just..."


"Tim considers me to be a friend, and the feeling is
entirely mutual. I understand why you have a problem
with me --"

"You *don't*."

"I *live* in this body, Batman. Every day. But I
*wasn't* born this way, and it's obscene what Tim
has chosen to do. What I've *helped* him to do. But
it *was* his choice --"

"He's a messed-up *kid*, you sonofabitch --"

"And how old were you, when you started making life
or death choices for yourself? For *other* people."

Garzonas falling. Taking a pair of scissors to Bruce's
cape before Alfred had taken over. Helping Alfred
design *Tim's* suit...

"Look, Batman... I didn't disagree with you about
the moratorium on new surgeries, and I still don't.
But sooner or later he'll be back on active duty
again, and that'll be *your* decision. How he goes
about it will be his own. Where his *head* is at
when that happens..."

Jason unclenches his fist and scrubs a hand back
over his cowl. "Your point is taken, Cyborg. Call me
when you have something useful."

"Of course."

"Batman out."


It's been some weeks since the Amazons had left --
en masse, and with a great deal of mutual relief
with the Gothamites they'd been working with --
and Gotham is *right* back to normal.

As these things go.

He talks a woman out of jumping off the Sprang
bridge, and that's as wonderful as it ever is -- it's nice
to have people to send to Leslie who aren't cut up
or worse -- but he's got to admit that it's even better
to break some bones.

He even stomps on a few hands, which is usually
Tim's signature. The number of semi-crippled
criminals had dropped dramatically since Tim has
been out of town, and that just seems wrong.

He spends most of the night alone -- after checking
that Huntress and Batgirl don't need his assistance
with Ivy -- and it *isn't* what he prefers, but he's
still a little... non-plussed when Spoiler melts out
of the shadows while he's busy with yet another
liquor store robber.

She doesn't say or do anything -- his target may
or may not have noticed her at all -- but it's still...

Jason uses a wall to knock him out and heads for
the rooftops. The only thing he can hear of
Spoiler's movement is the grapple, but that's not
a surprise.

"No Huntress tonight?"

"She thinks I should... spend more time patrolling
by myself."

Which makes sense. By the time he'd been
training Tim for this long, he'd started taking over
his own territories. He nods.

Spoiler... shifts. It's not a large movement, but it's
still very much on the "Cass" side of things in
ways he can't quite specify, even for himself. Still.

"What's wrong?"

"Worried about Huntress. And... you." She's looks
at the blood on his gauntlets like it's something
strange, and that's so bizarre...

It's not, actually, all that bizarre at all. He'd gotten
used to letting Tim do whatever brutalizing had
to be done -- it *had* to be good for the guy --
and it's really *only* recently that he's been more
of a Batman-on-the-street than a

She doesn't...

She's looking at him, curiously, having obviously picked
up at least *some* of that. "Spoiler..." He isn't really
sure what to say. "What's going on with Huntress?"

The clouds pass from over the moon, and it's enough
to see the shape of her frown beneath the cowl.
"Her... friend."

The 'kinda cute, for a guy losing his hair' person,
according to Steph. "Is he all right?"

"I think they... broke up?"

It's a question about the language, as opposed to
anything else. He nods at her again.

"Huntress... broke up with *him*. She said they
were not working. She was *lying*."

There aren't many people who take lying as badly
as Cass does, which makes sense considering the
fact that she always knows. "And when you
confronted her?"

"Sent me on patrol."

And that's... he doesn't know. Helena isn't exactly...
she'd never be able to match *Tim* for
uncommunicative bastardy, but she's still pretty...
Jason sighs and crosses his arms and paces a little.
The moonlight gleams black on his bloody gauntlets.
Blacker. "Have you thought that maybe she just
doesn't feel comfortable talking about it, yet?
Sometimes people just need time for things like
this, you know."

*Does* she know? Had she ever...?

"In any event --"

"That wasn't it. I... I *looked*."

She totally did. "What do you think it is?"

"I don't know," she says, and stares down at the roof
like maybe Jason had caught her doing something

"I didn't ask what you knew," he says, as gently as
he can, and waits for her to look up again. "When
we learn about people -- *learn* them -- a lot of it
is *facts*, but the rest?" He taps his chest.

And he can't see her eyes, obviously, but he can
*feel* her looking at him. And, well, learning him.

It hasn't stopped being disturbing, a little, and it
hasn't stopped being weirdly familiar. He'd like to
ask her if Tim's been in contact with *her*, but...
another time. "What do you think? What do you

"Huntress doesn't want anyone... close. Not even
us. Or..." Another frown he can see in the shift of
her cowl.

It's not that Steph's is all that different, but it's still
hard to remember how she'd looked in the Spoiler
one. It's Cass' now. "Keep going."

"I think she wants... to be *alone*. Again?"

A real question, that time. Jason nods slowly. "She
hadn't been on any team when Robin and I
recruited her. I... can't say I wouldn't *understand*."
Well, no, he could say that. It just wouldn't be
*entirely* true.

"Batgirl is leaving someday."

Jason sighs. "I try not to think about it."

He thinks she's smiling, a little, but it's hard to be
sure. And it fades quickly. "This is... different," she
says. "Less... correct."

"I'll talk to Huntress when I can, Spoiler."

She nods, as if it's nothing less than what she
expected, and then closes the distance between
them and brushes a finger over his arm -- no,
over the blood on his arm.

If Jason looks down -- and, well, *around* a few
buildings -- he could probably see the asshole it
belongs to snoozing painfully. He doesn't.

"Not you," Cass says.

He can't help but smile. "You didn't know me a
year and a half ago."

She shakes her head, sharply. But all she says is
"Not *you*."

"As opposed to?"


And... it isn't as though he wasn't *just* thinking
that earlier tonight, but... "Just because I can't be
exactly the same as I could back then --"

She reaches up and covers his mouth with one
hand, and pulls back her cowl with the other.

It's as shocking as it ever is to see one of them --
his *family* -- exposed to Gotham, but it's also...

It's Cass-trying-to-make-a-*point*, so it really isn't
that huge a deal at all. And then she pulls at one
of his arms until his gauntlet is in front of his face
and they can both look at it. The blood.

This close, he can smell it. Same as it ever was,
sick-making as it...

As it never really was. But *still* -- "Batgirl --"

"Not Batman. Not *you*. Other..." She growls
under her breath and lets go of his gauntlet,
backing off a step and tapping angrily at her own throat.

No words. He gets it. So... try again. "You know I
wouldn't ever beat someone so badly --"

She slashes at the air between them and glares at
him. The look is terrifyingly *normal* on her face.

He's pretty sure she never glares at all when she's
actually fighting someone. "Okay, so that's not it.
Is it about... Robin?"

A smile rushes over her face (and under -- it's in
her eyes) and she nods fervently. "Balance. He...
*balance*." She waves her hand, back and forth.

"'Batman needs a Robin?'"

It would be funny to see Cass -- *Spoiler*, for
Christ's sake -- actually *jump* with happiness if
she wasn't so right he could throw up.


He's had the e-mail program open for about two hours.
He had 'Dear Tim,' before he thought about Superboy
and the fact that he wasn't a girl and ditched the

And then he got all the way up to 'I know you don't
want to hear this,' before he started to wonder how
Tim would take not being called 'Robin' in a secure

He's been pretty much stuck since then, and the only
reason he hasn't given up is because it's barely three
in the afternoon, and the alternative is actually doing
some of the catch-up reading for History so he won't
flunk summer school in a couple of months. 

Batman is in serious danger of flunking summer
school. Look out, world of psychotic geniuses.

And speaking of...

No, he's got nothing for this e-mail. It isn't really much
of a consolation that Tim probably would delete it as
soon as he realized there was nothing official in it.
Maybe he could piggy-back it into some of the files
he *knows* Tim is downloading whenever he can get

"Essen is reorganizing the GCPD, with the MCU
getting much of their own staff in another building
which, is, actually, closer to the middle of Gotham
than Central. Montoya got the nod to lead the unit,
and also Cass thinks I've gotten too brutal without

The chirp of the Titans comm is the best sound
he's heard all day. "Batman."

"Cyborg here. Absent any close male relatives that
you might just not have dug up yet, Luthor *is*
Superboy's human donor."

"Got it. How do you have the others split up on this?"

"Roy had some contacts with CID, but he doesn't
think their information is to be trusted. They're in
bed with the Suicide Squad, and Waller, at least,
is in bed with Luthor."

Interesting image. "Cabinet post in it for her?"

"That's the word. The others are waiting for strike
orders, but at this point I can't give them a definite

Hmm. "Have you contacted Robin with this, yet?"

"Strangely enough, I was hoping to keep him on the
sidelines as much as possible. For now."

Jason pinches the bridge of his nose. The fact is,
Tim's the best one they *have* for ferreting out
this crap, since the rest of them pretty much only
use their computers for word processing and e-mail.

He hasn't even done a search for porn in... Jesus,
that's depressing.


"I'll think on the problem and get back to you. We've
got some time."

"Not much, I'd think."

"What else is new? Batman out."


It's almost dawn, and his chest hurts in that annoying,
no-actual-rib-damage way.

Tim's off-channel, and so there's nothing to tell him
to keep the comm *on*, but...

But it still takes a while to switch off.

He'd like to know -- *badly* -- what the hell the Kents
and Superboy had done to make Tim... to make him
*like* this, but...

The hell of it is, he can't even say "like he used to
be," because Tim had never... not even when they'd
*first* started sleeping together. Because a Tim
who could call him 'Dick' while Jason was fucking
him *and* look him in the eye after still wasn't a
Tim who could... who... ("I hurt myself.")

Three fucking words, and he'd been waiting so long
to hear something *like* them that he can't decide
whether he wants to shake in a corner for a while
or throw a goddamned party.

No. The *hell* of it is... he'd been planning on
calling Tim anyway, and the fact that it's about
Superboy -- what did he *do*? -- doesn't make it...

He'd flat out *said* he wasn't ready, and that... He's
given up a lot for this. He's asked them *all* to
give up a lot for this, and not all of the skeletons
are metaphorical.

He can't.

He heads for the Cave and turns on the monitor,
then opens a channel to the Tower, even though
he knows full well who's scheduled for monitor duty
tonight, and how it isn't Roy.

Except for how it *is*. Someone is laughing at him,
somewhere, though for once he's almost okay with it.

"You're getting way too good at the Grim Stare thing,
Jay," Roy says, and spins half-circles in his chair. 

Jason shakes it off as best he can. "Unintentional. I
thought Cyborg was on tonight?"

"He *was*, but I slept in this morning and Vic can
recharge anytime, so..." A shrug. And a smirk. "How
much do you seriously care?"

Jason thinks about pushing his cowl back, but he isn't
sure whether he wants to or not. *Some* of it has
to do with the fact that Tim had woken him up before
blowing his damned mind, but some of it is...
something else. He settles for shaking his head and
smiling. "How obvious have I been?"

Roy grins wider and spreads his arms. "Titans
*together*, 'mano. Nothing's sacred. You should've
 seen it when..." He trails off, smile fading for two
solid beats before it's right back. "Anyway, what's up?"

It's the difference between his family and the Titans --
maybe the only real one. If he *hadn't* started up
again, and if Tim hadn't come along to make it *real*,
maybe he still wouldn't be able to say Dick's name,
either. "Roy, do you need --"

Roy waves him off. "Not unless you're *actually*
calling from the Batmobile and have a six-pack with a
little mask on it in the passenger seat, Jay. Seriously."

And... he can go with that. "The mask was fine, it's
getting the cape to stay that's tricky."

Roy laughs softly, and then it's actually a snicker. "I...
man. I can just *see* Bruce winging a beer in a little
domino at some asshole. And, like, knocking the guy
out with it and sending him --"

"Flying into, like, the rest of his freaking *gang* --"

"Oh Jesus --" Roy snickers harder. "And then picking
up the little dented can and setting it upright and --"

"'Good work, Robin. Next time use a little less tab.'"

Roy chokes -- "Fuck, don't *do* that. You sound just
*like* him, man..."

He doesn't, but... that isn't the point. He smiles a little
ruefully, and a lot smug. "Sorry."

"Liar. Fucking *liar*." Roy shakes his head. "So how
are you?"

He doesn't have clue one where to even begin. It was
one thing when it was just the two of them on a
roof with wine and every memory of Dick they
could come up with and everything else that was just
*them*, but...

It's a little unfair, and way too fucking *scary* for
words. He remembers a time when Roy was the first
guy -- the only *person* -- he'd ever met that he
actually *could* talk to, and how they used to dance
around the fact that Roy was actually pretty low,
most of the time, and how that had nothing to do
with Ollie in the same way that the fact that *he*
was fucked-up and pissed-off and *confused* all
the time had nothing to do with Bruce.

But that was before Ethiopia, before *everything*,
and Roy...  Roy doesn't even know Tim's last *name*,

The smile on Roy's face is a little mean, but it's still
honest. "Next question -- why did you *really* call?"

"It's... it's family. That I'm not talking about, Roy."

The nod is impatient. "I'll get the rumors whenever
Gar does," he says, and waves a hand again.

The fact that they'll be at least seventy percent
accurate is both comforting and horrifying. Right.
"I... called because I do, actually, need to talk to
Cyborg." Vic, he nearly corrects himself, but he
can't do it.

Roy raises an eyebrow and stops spinning the chair,
all business again. "Luthor thing?"

"Nothing definite yet -- the *exact* opposite -- but
yeah. Could you --"

"Got it," Roy says, and punches a button that
probably electrocutes some small part of Cyborg's
brain. "What's the not-definite thing?"

"Robin's... still off-duty. I'm trying to see if I *need*
to call him back."

Roy frowns at him, and generally looks like someone
who'll add a lot more accuracy to whatever rumors
Gar brings back. "You're really worried about him.
I mean, everyone knows what a giant freak that kid
is, but --"


"Yeah, he's *your* freak." Roy shakes his head and
stands up. "Vic's on the way. Call me when there's
some..." He mimics shooting a bow, just as if there
*wasn't* a gun on his hip these days, more often
than not. "Action."

"Of course," Jason says, and sits back to wait.

It's one of the better things about wearing the cowl,
especially if he's *not* on the streets. He can close
his eyes and, as far as pretty much everyone but
Superman is concerned, he's just being Batman-like.

Sometimes it's a better thing.

He opens them when he hears the shifting series of
clanks that means Cyborg's sitting down.

"We're alone, Batman. Shoot."

"How badly do we need Robin's... abilities in order to
worm our way into Luthor's files?"

"I..." Cyborg rubs a hand over his chin, metal scraping
metal in a way that manages, somehow, not to set
Jason's teeth on edge. Practice. "You talked to him

It's an answer. "Not... about this."

Cyborg just looks at him for a long moment.

Jason looks back.

"Well, are you gonna tell me?"

He pushes the cowl back, deliberately, but he still
can't make himself smile. "I think you should talk to
him yourself."

He wonders if, when Tim blinks these days, it's
only a matter of one eye at a time. It's been too
long since he's seen him without the mask, and...

"Batman out."


He slips in through the roof access, tripping a few of
the lesser security traps to announce his presence.

When he gets in, he finds Helena working the heavy
bag and growling softly to herself. She's sweating
enough that her hair is curling at the roots -- which
usually means she's just about done -- but she
doesn't bother to look at him so he heads for Cass'
room instead.

The door's open -- of course -- and Cass herself is
seated cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by
photographs and smiling.


She nods, and pulls out a photo before handing it to
him with perfect -- and nearly exaggerated -- care.

It's -- and this no big shock, really -- one of Steph's
earlier ones. You can tell by the fact that things
are just a little off-center. And by the fact that Tim's
completely human. He's dodging a punch and
pulling something (tranq dart empties) out of his
pocket and grinning up at him like... like. He flips
it over and it's dated. In Tim's handwriting. "I
remember," he says, and Cass nods at him. "Any
with all of us?"

"Steph says 'not yet.'"

Probably better to get one that's accurate, anyway.
He hands the photo back, just as carefully. "Will
you be putting these up in here?"

Cass shakes her head and puts the picture over
one of her and Steph. He doesn't get a close look,
but he's pretty sure Steph is practicing nerve-strikes
on Cass with the hand she isn't using to hold the
camera in the right spot.

And... hm. "Did you... need an album?"

She stares at him, then points to the closet where
Helena keeps all of her... records. Right. "No, like
a book. For... photographs."


It isn't that it never occurs to him that maybe, just
maybe, they might not be the best possible choices
to socialize Cass, it's just that it doesn't happen
often *enough*. Man, who even... *Alfred*. No
*way* Alfred hadn't recovered the photo albums,
or had Clark do it. "We have some at the Manor.
I'll show you when you come back to the Cave."

"More photographs? Of..." Her eyes go solemn, and
Jason knows she's reading him. "The others. Who
were *before*."

Jason smiles ruefully. "Mostly. Though there are a
couple of that guy you say I'm not, anymore."

She nods, pulls the photos into one stack -- neat as
a Vegas dealer -- and stands, pulling a medium-sized
shoulder-bag up with her. "Let's go."

"Er... now? And... your bag?"

"You want me to live with you," she says,
matter-of-factly. "So does Helena. You have a

"Just a little one. Um..." Focus. Ride that pony. Go,
Batman, go. "Of course I want you at the Manor," is
what he goes with. "I was just hoping..." He nods
back toward where he can still hear Helena abusing
the heavy bag.

"She wants to be alone," Cass says. "I don't."

And if that *only* refers to the conversation Helena
and Cass may or may *not* have already had
about her moving out, he'll eat his cowl. "Right, give
me a minute," he says, and heads for the *other*
closet -- the one they use for spare clothes when
they show up here, since the only things Cass has
of her own -- or has ever seemed to *want* -- are
shoved in that tiny little bag.

Probably including that eight thousand dollar dress
Jason Todd had bought for her from <i>Monique</i>.

He strips down, changes into civvies, and puts his
suit in one of the other bags.


She *knows* it isn't now. She just doesn't want...
what? Him to talk to Helena? Jason frowns, and
Cass looks down. "A minute," he says again, and
heads back out.

He waits for a likely moment, and then moves to
brace the heavy bag.

"I'll be starting on kicks in a minute, Jason, so
you're just in my way."

"Take a break," he says, in his own voice. Just to

Helena's eyes flash and there's *something* --
covered when she dips her head, letting her hair fall
over her face for a moment. When she tosses it
back, she's blank as anything else. "I haven't had
the time to work on this routine in uncomfortably
long, so..."

Even, neutral, and Jason doesn't need to see Cass'
frown over Helena's shoulder to know it's a
complete lie. He's got the whites of her knuckles.
"Right. What's going on? No bullshit."

She narrows her eyes at him, and taps the fingers
of one hand on the bag, and then blanks her
expression again. "I've reached the limits of what I
can teach Cassandra, and time with you -- and
Stephanie -- will do more. You should consider
enrolling her in a high school with a good remedial
program. I'll work up a list of suggestions and
e-mail them to you."

Not even one *hint* of bitchiness about how he
and Steph are, actually, *bad* influences on
Cass. Not even. "Helena --"

"I need to get this done, and then I'll need at least
forty-five minutes of cool-down before I start my
patrol tonight, Jason. Now if you'll excuse --"

"Fucking *Christ*, Helena --"

"Don't use that tone with --"

"I'm *not* Cass," he says, "and I *still* know
you're holding out on me. What's going on with
you? Is this about that... that..."

"Andrew Billings."

"*That* guy," he says, and nods to Cass. "Look,
whatever it is, just *tell* me. Or Cass, or Steph,
or *Alfred*. We're your --"

"Associates. Allies. Reasonably friendly
*acquaintances*," Helena says, and her teeth show
for just a moment. "None of the above definitions
require me to discuss the intimate details of my
personal life with you, even assuming I wasn't
getting the job which you recruited me for done."

He could protest. He *should*, judging by the fact
that Cass looks like she wants to cry, but for the
life of him...

Who *did* she talk to? Steph had him, and Cass.
Cass had Steph, and Tim in some weird way, and,
of course, *him*. He... he's always had all of
them. But Helena...

"Okay, look, we haven't been as close as we could
be, but --"

"*But* that was always at least as much my
choice as your own, child. Spare me your
impression of --"


He hadn't even seen her moving, but Cass is
holding Helena's shoulder. Tugging on it, actually,
until Helena stops glaring at him and looks at
her. "I'm sorry," she says to her. "That was
rude." Another head-toss, and then Helena fixes
him with another look. "I have no need for
teenaged confidantes, and I don't mean that as
a slight."

Jason raises an eyebrow, and, for just a *brief*
moment, Helena's mouth twitches the way it
always did whenever Tim whipped out some
quote or another which proved that at least
*he'd* read a few books, somewhere along the

Or uploaded them. And...

The moment passes, and the blank look is back

"I've decided I need... a greater degree of
separation between my lives, at the moment, than
I can get with all of you constantly in and out of
my building."

The frown on Cass' face is... more confused than
anything else. Which means Helena's actually
telling the truth. In *some* way.

The look in her eyes when Jason turns back to
face her is almost nothing but patient. Almost.

"Helena... look. None of us have to be alone.
That's the whole *point* --"

"I was alone before you were ever born, Jason,"
she says, not unkindly. And then she turns to Cass.
"You have his bag? Excellent."

Cass is staring at the floor, and doesn't look up
even when Helena squeezes her shoulders.

"Sii forte, chiacchierona."

And then Helena waits for Jason to step away from
the bag... but doesn't wait for them to leave
before she starts punishing it again.

They head for the stairs.

Jason puts his arm around Cass' shoulders and
squeezes. "She was never... sometimes people
are just... difficult."

"Yes," she says.

"Even though they shouldn't be. And... well, it's
Helena," he says, and squeezes her a little. "She
had a *temper* before I was ever born, too."

A silent nod.

"You... do you think she doesn't care about you?"

"She loves us. All of us. Not enough."

Well, that's... all of them?

"Yes," Cass says again.

When they get outside, there's a siren just a little
too far away to be for them, right now. He waits
until Cass looks at him. "I'm going to need you
to do something difficult, Cass."

A nod.

"When we get back, and when Steph does, we're
going to put our heads together until we figure
out *what's* going on with her, okay? So I'll
need you to start thinking of everything you
can remember, no matter how minor it seems,
so you can tell us."

"Even the make-up," Cass says, and Jason
remembers working a case when it was *just*
he and Tim where the woman had put poison in
her sister's compact.

"Tim gave you lessons, hunh?"

Cass nods again, and walks with him through
Helena's pretty and scared-crimeless neighborhood.

Jason hits the button to call for a pickup and tugs
on Cass' hair.

"You're not... *just* worried. Also happy?"

Actually... "Yeah, pretty much. Tim called."

She stops and yanks on his over-shirt. "*When*?"

She's *not* asking about the time. "I don't know
yet, Cass. He still needs some time to get his
head on straight."

"He... *said*."

It's not a question. Jason starts walking again.
"Yeah, I was surprised, too."

"Sometimes he would..." she gestures at her ear.

"He'd call you?"

"In the mornings, when I was not-sleeping. No,

Meaning that freaky thing she did where she
looked just about dead -- or comatose -- but
was really just... hanging out in her own head.

"He never said anything."

Jason nods. He has no problem whatsoever
picturing Tim calling Cass just to listen to her
breathe and not saying anything.

Alfred pulls up in the Rolls -- pretty much the only
car Jason had replaced by choice, rather than
because he *could* -- and Jason opens Cass'
door for her, solely to get the wrinkled-nose face.

He taps her nose and moves around the other

"Master Jason, Miss Cassandra. I presume we are
to return to the Manor?"

"Yes indeed, Alfred. We're finally getting a
permanent room-mate." Steph still goes back to
her mother's house, sometimes.

"Excellent," Alfred says. "There will be *no*
sparring in the library."


Alfred has given Cass a north-facing room, which
means that even now, hours past sunset, the room
still smells like sunlight. Alfred had also been
exactly as twitchy-for-him and disturbed by her
lack of *things* as he should've been, so Jason
had gotten tapped to move in about six tons
worth of furniture Cass probably won't use, as
well as every piece of statuary she'd ever looked
twice at.

He's *not* shocked that Alfred had made a note
of all of that, but he misses Tim's backrubs like
crazy. Steph had somehow managed to arrive
about thirty seconds *after* the heavy-lifting.

"What? I was all the way down in Monolith Square
playing tag with bangers. Besides, I'm fragile."

Jason glares. Steph looks about as innocent as a
crime scene.

"And anyway, you *had* Cass."

"Told him where they all go. My *job*," Cass says,
and does that thing where she rocks a little on her
heels because she's too amused to stop moving.

It reminds him of Dick, and he'd pretty much give
anything to watch them laughing together. Jason
shakes his head and throws himself back on
Cass' new couch, moving it back a few inches
and glaring a little more when Cass looks like
she's thinking of pointing out that it's *wrong*

Cass sticks her tongue out at him, expression
pulled into an exact replica of one of Steph's.

"We *have* work to do, children," he says, in the
voice Bruce always used when he was pretending
to care about the food Jason ate.

Steph snickers and starts helping Cass decide
which pictures go where. They *do* have work to
do -- the real kind -- but they'll need Alfred for
it, and Alfred is still fixing them all a -- very -- late

And if Alfred comes back up *without* the old
photo albums, Jason will pretty much die of shock.
He rests his head against the back of the couch
and does a little not-sleeping, and a lot of

"What's this one?" Steph's tone is serious and
bright and a little lazy, like it's a question she's
used to asking and still likes.

"Jason is hungry and tired, and he thinks you
look very beautiful."

"Heh. I bet I was down to a sports bra. We'll put
it here. This one?"

"I'm laughing and laughing, and I'm telling myself
to remember. Jason is giving Tim a nookie over
by the computer."

"Hmph. *Probably* 'noogie,' but..."

"*Watch* it," Jason mutters.

"Watch *this*, Bats," she says. "And this?"

"Helena is worried. The Commissioner had asked
about her... responsibilities. To children."

"And *that's* totally going on the list -- Jase, do we
*have* a list?"

Jason digs through the pile of stuff he'd brought up
in the big vase Jason Todd had dropped fifty large
for, and finds the notebook and pens. "We do now."

"Cool," Steph says. "That one?"

"Not sure. No..."

Jason's pretty sure he can *feel* Cass shaking her
hand in the gesture which means 'movement.'

"Hmm... but you still like it?"

"*You* liked it. Enough."

"Heh," Steph says. "Guess I did. I like that light. You
don't get a color like that over anywhere but
Gotham, I think. Other cities get *different* weird
colors, apparently."

New York is way more orange, D.C. closer to
indigo, Addis Ababa is... is.

"What were you... feeling?"

"Well..." Jason can hear her taping the thing up
somewhere. "It was a *while* ago -- you can tell by
all the broken buildings, it's more important than
the date, you know? And it was early evening, so I
was probably not too tired, but also keyed-up,

She shifts on her feet, a little, and Jason looks up
to find Steph biting one of her knuckles and
frowning hard in concentration.

"Can I help?"

"No, I don't -- wait. You'd *just* called to tell me
about the corpse recovery effort by the Atlanteans.
I was totally skeeved and sad and pissed and
worried about my father and *pissed*, and I
wanted something pretty for that night. *Anything*.

"Even air pollution," she says, and grins at both of
them ruefully.

Jason nods, and so does Cass.

"Next up, oooh, another Helena. Lemme try -- she's
thinking about kicking me really, really hard. Man,
this is such a great shot of her *hair*. Heh. If I do
say so *myself*. Look at those freaking highlights,
dammit. Now *I* wanna kick her. More."

"She didn't want you to see, or... it's the scar on
her shoulder. That one, I think."

"Uh, huh. Jase?"

"Got it."

Alfred manages to knock on the door despite having
both hands full of a tray Jason's pretty sure he'd
tried to surf on at least once. It's *that* big. Jason
takes it from him and sets it on Cass' brand new
end-table, and Steph yanks off the covers

Two plates full of sandwiches and fruit, one full of...
photo albums.

"Awesome. Thanks, Al!"

He sniffs lightly and begins pouring the tea. "You're
welcome, I'm sure, Miss Stephanie. Perhaps you
might consider lending me of some of your other
photographs for more... traditional use."

Scotch-tape on the walls. Heh. "I think I have some
sticky-tack somewhere. There's this shot of you
glaring at Steph that really needs to go over the
dining room table. After we get it blown up, of

Alfred gives him about three seconds of a look
which could wither an entire tropical rainforest,
hands out the cups of tea, and then sits down on
the couch.

Steph and Cass pretty much immediately move to
sit on the floor in front of them.

"All right. The First Annual Meeting Of Dude, What
Is Her *Deal* will now come to order." Steph
snorts, but Cass just gives him a look which isn't
blank at all. "Sorry, Cass. We're all worried."

Cass looks at Steph -- who's being pretty obvious
about picking at a stray thread on her sweater --
but then nods.

Alfred crosses his legs and steeples his fingers
under his chin. "Jason has provided me with the
basics of this dilemma. I have only a few questions
before we begin in earnest."

Jason nods.

"One, does Miss Helena intend to continue associating
with all of you in her other guise?"

Cass nods sharply.

"Two, to the best of your knowledge, when did she
begin showing signs of... discontent?"

"Birth," Steph mutters, and then shakes her head.
"Sorry, I'm no good at this one. You know we've
never gotten along."

Jason remembers thinking, vaguely, that adding
Helena to the family would be *good* for Steph.
In more than just the fact that she knew all the
tricks for female fighters he and Tim just *didn't*.
Still, though... "She's been pulling you as a partner
for a while now. *Requesting* you."

"So she would not have to... speak," Cass says,
and stares at her hands.

Jason wonders if they're going to have to schedule
a First Annual Meeting of No, It's Totally Not Your
Fault and shoves it to the back for later. Possibly
they could've used one earlier. Possibly *he*
could've. "Okay, the first time *I* remember her
specifically calling in Steph was... a month ago. A
little more. We still had a bunch of metas to deal
with. Yeah?" They all nod at him. "Cass, can you
narrow it down any more than that? Maybe push
it back or forward?"

"Dates are... difficult." She frowns. "After she
began having sex with Andrew."

He can *see* Steph considering and rejecting
explaining the concept of 'dating' before just going
with "How many times had they uh... done it?" A
glance at Alfred, who appears to be studying his
teacup. "Um. How many different *dates*."

"Four," Cass says. "She said 'it's true what they say
about bald men,' but she did not explain."

The thing about being Batman is that there really
isn't any such thing as too much information.
"So... she was still *mostly* happy then?"

Cass nods. "I could see... something. But not

"It'll help," Jason says, and Steph squeezes Cass'
knee. "We'll just check the raw reports and comm
logs. There should be something there to help
us narrow it down." He makes a note. "Alfred?"

"Third, what, if anything, do we know about

"Thirty-two. Volunteered at a youth center before
the quake, started running it after. Hit it off with
Green Arrow -- who's funding the place, by the
way." Steph shifts a little and half-closes her
eyes. "Before that, he did some free-lance
reporting, mostly for the liberal papers. And,
uh... journalism degree from Hudson -- no frats,
no clubs, nothing spectacular grade-wise. Twin
uncles out in Keystone, a few cousins, grandmother
dead in the quake, no other family."

Jason looks at her.

Steph shrugs. "You know Tim has files on all of us.
I thought it'd be a good idea to *read* Helena's."

Probably as soon as Tim had uploaded it. "Right.
Okay. Anyone have anything else to add?"

Head-shakes, which Jason had expected. They'd
pretty much all gone with 'good guy, works with
kids, makes Helena stop scowling.' Except,
apparently, for Tim. "Okay, I'm making a note to do
more digging, just in case, but I'm pretty sure
we've got everything. You're up, Alfred."

Alfred nods, and looks at all of them in turn before
saying, "My last preliminary question is this:
What is the *goal* of this meeting?"

"Stop her before she does something *nuts*," Steph
says at pretty much the same time Cass says,

"Help her."

Jason snorts and scrubs a hand back through his hair.
He knows exactly why Alfred had asked the
question. And all of them are looking at him. "The
*goal*," he says, "is three-fold. One, figure out
what's going on with Helena and if it'll blow up in
our faces. Two, help her out, whether or not she
knows we're doing it or wants us to. Three -- get
her back *here*, where she belongs."

"Jase --"

"It's simple, Batgirl." Her teeth click shut, and it's
not hard at all to remember all the ways they'd
never done anything like this about Tim. "We
recruited her because we needed her, and even
though we're in better shape now than we were
then, *I* know exactly how fast that can change.
Also, when she agreed to join us, she became
one of us -- whether you like it or not, and
whether *she* likes it or not. Maybe it'll turn out
that we're all better off with her doing her lone
wolf thing, but if we're *not*... then she doesn't
get to play that way. Are we clear?"

"Positively crystalline, Master Jason," Alfred says,
and brushes invisible dust from his lapel.

Cass nods, and Steph... stares at the floor.

"Steph --"

"More than anything," she says, and looks up. "Even
fear. Right?"

He doesn't need to see Cass starting to reach for
Steph to know she's talking about more -- way
more -- than just the fact that she'd happily send
Helena to piss people off in Star City if she had the
option, and more than the fact that she doesn't.
"Yeah, Steph."

"Then we're clear," she says, and lets Cass' hand
slide down her arm. "What now?"

"Brainstorming, mostly," Jason says. "Like I told
Cass earlier, we don't have anything solid, really.
We've got suspicions, and whatever *else* is in
Tim's file, and we've got four really freaking
*nosy* people to dig."

Steph nods. "Okay, so... Helena's issues. I don't
think I should start on this one, I'm betting Cass
wants more time to put her thoughts in order --"

"She fears weakness."

"Or not." Steph snorts, a little.

"If you could specify, Miss Cassandra?" Alfred folds
his hands on his knee.

Cass frowns in concentration. "In *herself*. She..."
Abruptly, Cass jumps up and retrieves the file with
all of the photographs Steph had given her,
shuffling through them quickly before pulling out
two and returning the couch. She sits between
Jason and Alfred and puts the first on Jason's lap.
"This one."

It's a picture of Helena with a knife held loosely
in one hand while the other is midway through
pushing a lock of hair back over her forehead.

Steph leans in and frowns. "God, that's off-center.
I think I only included it because she's smiling.
And what is she looking at?"

"Jason," Cass says, matter-of-factly. "And Tim.
Alfred is about to leave. She's not thinking of him.
She is..." Another frown, this one of memory. "You
and Tim were punching fists, but she's thinking
about *sex*."

"Dude, *creepy* --"


"Shutting up now. She's thinking of Tim and Jase?"

"She does not like it." Cass frowns again. "No. She
doesn't *want* to like it."

Jason thinks about the cross Helena wears and nods.
"She never *said* anything about me and Tim,
but, well, she's pretty damned Catholic."

Alfred raises an eyebrow. "One would think such
an attitude would be somewhat at odds -- if not in
outright conflict -- with many of her lifestyle

Steph snorts again, but Cass claps Alfred on the
shoulder hard enough that he'd probably wince
if he wasn't Alfred. "Yes! Conflict! And she... she...
I... Tim can't stay. *Could* not stay, no *more*,
and --" Cass growls and looks back at Jason
pleadingly, reaching for her own throat like she
wants to tear it out and start over.

Jason frowns and thinks about it, but he can't

"Something about hurting herself, maybe...?" Steph
is up on her knees, resting her elbows on *Cass'*

Cass shakes her head impatiently, stops, and then
makes the 'yes-no' gesture and looks at Jason

Hurting herself, conflict, weakness... "We're maybe...
messing with what she believes in? What she wants
to believe in, what she thinks she *should* believe
in... how much of this *is* about religion?"

"I don't know!" Cass says, and beams at him.

Okay, then. Jason flips to the next picture. It's a rare
one in that it's a full-on frontal shot, and also at
least a little posed. Helena is wearing her Ms.
Bertinelli clothes -- save for the wire-rimmed
glasses dangling from her left hand -- and the
picture was taken in her apartment. Her mouth is
a thin line of disapproval.

Steph frowns and traces a finger over the shape of
Helena's bun. "I remember that day. I was pulling
Cass out of 'class' and saying something about
how that hairstyle was *way* more practical for
crime-fighting. The suit's lame. It's a little...
artificial, though, isn't it Cass?"

Cass nods. "She's lying. She's *really* asking you
to... look at her."

"Hmm. Miss Cassandra, do you know what she
wanted Miss Stephanie to *see*?"

"Who she really is. She's afraid," Cass says, and the
frown on her face has nothing to do with anger
*or* frustration.

Steph stands up and leans in, hugging Cass with
tight awkwardness. "We'll help her," she says,
and Cass buries her face against Steph's arm.

"I believe it's time for more tea," Alfred says, and
leaves them.


When he gets in from patrol -- him and Steph, who'd
gone back to her mother's, Cass working mostly solo,
Helena reporting in at *exact* two hour intervals --
he strips, starts to head for the showers, and then
notices the blinker going off.

He'd gotten a message, and whoever it was from
didn't feel like it was urgent enough to interrupt him
on patrol. But there really isn't any such thing as a
*non*-urgent message for Batman.

Jason shakes his head, sits down at the console,
grabs his cocoa, and toggles it.

The fact that it's from Cyborg gives him a moment's
discomfort about the fact that he's naked, but, well.
Not real-time.

"Batman. I spoke to Robin, and we've gotten access
to Luthor's files. *All* of them. Apparently, Robin
had devoted some of his processing capability to
extrapolating from and building *on* the security
information he'd picked up from Cadmus. He..."
Cyborg shakes his head. "There's a lot there *I*
need more data on, but he's not keeping anything

Jason nods. Tim doesn't do anything by half-

"We spent the better part of the evening info-
raiding, and we've agreed that he'll be doing the
grunt-work on everything you'll undoubtedly be
funneling to Superman, eventually. Because he's on
*vacation*." Cyborg smiles.

Jason swallows aspirin with his cocoa.

"As for the Superboy question... he has what he
needs, and there was nothing indicating Luthor
has anything planned beyond winning the presidency.
Legally. A few nasty-looking experiments in the
planning phases, but nothing going on right *now*.
No evidence of past wrongdoing -- that could be
taken to court, anyway, or even printed in anything
but a tabloid with a fat lawsuit budget. In other
words, short of a dramatic change in status, the
Titans are going back down from alert to stand-by
on this.

"What *you* choose to do... well, Robin will update
you, you will, undoubtedly, decide from there, and
you'll call us if we're needed."

On-screen, Cyborg reaches for his own toggle, then
pauses, and frowns, a little.

"You might want to know -- Robin has scheduled
some routine maintenance. He needs a new cap for
his arm. Also, we'll be working together on the
solution to Superboy's aging problem, using the
information we pulled from Luthor." The frown
turns into a rueful smile. "Robin seemed to feel
that information went without saying, but..."

Tim's fine. He won't do anything else, and... he's

"Cyborg out."

There's nothing else waiting for him on the official
channels, and a syllabus for his English course in
summer school waiting for him at the non-official
e-mail address.

The fact that he'd tested -- and charmed -- his way
out of Biology and Trig is, abruptly, far less of a
victory than it had felt like before. Maybe Tim can
upload a speed-reading course for him.

He knows Cass has gotten back by the sound of
her shoving his suit on top of his in the hamper,
and finishes off the cocoa.


"No," she says. "And no Helena."

Jason nods and turns, giving himself a moment to
enjoy the way the muscles move beneath her skin
while she stretches. "Steph's starting the Andrew-stalk
tomorrow. Just pictures for now, so you can give us
some ideas."

"Yes. You stretch... after your shower?"

"Yep. I'm better off. Alfred left cocoa for you, by the

Cass smiles. "Smell it."

Jason smiles back and stands, heading for the showers.
Cass stops him before he can get there, but only to
rub and jab at his back and arms. Primate maintenance
behavior. She's actually better at this than *any* of
them, but she always kind of leaves Jason feeling a
little abused, even though he's *also* about ten
thousand times less likely to wake up hurting
tomorrow. "Thanks, Cass."

Another smile. "Tim is home soon."

Cass knows he prefers Tim's rubdowns, but... Jason
wonders how Kuh-Superboy feels about primate
maintenance behavior, but that's a question for
another day, really.

"What's wrong?"

Mostly really. "Well... Tim has... he's..." Jesus. "He's
having sex with someone else now, and Superboy
might not be as comfortable with..." Jason scrubs a
hand back through his hair. "With the way we are."

"This... Superboy. He's... *with* Tim?"

Jason nods. Right now, probably.

"'He is one of us now, whether he likes it or not.'"
Cass beams at him.

*That's* going to be interesting.

Cass takes faster showers than he does -- and drinks
her cocoa while she does it -- so she's already
upstairs by the time Jason gets out and into a pair
of boxers. He does his own stretches, steals some
of the moisturizer Steph had left for Cass -- the
smell is pretty neutral, though he isn't sure what it
*is* -- and grabs the printout of the syllabus.

Alfred had had control of re-stocking the libraries,
and they probably already own at least seventy
percent of the books on the list. Whether he'll be
able to find them without Alfred's help is just one
of life's little mysteries.

He's halfway up the stairs by the time he hears
the throat-clearing. Masculine, in the Cave, *not*
Tim --

"I know I should have called first, but I heard your
voice, and..."

Clark. Jason turns and grins down at him. "It's fine."
Clark is fully suited-up, but there's no one in the
Manor but him, Alfred, and Cass, so... "Come on
up with me. Not an official visit, right?"

"Well, no, but if you were getting ready for bed --"

Jason waves a hand. "Moderate patrol, and I wasn't
going *right* to bed, anyway. C'mon, you can help
me find some of this stuff." He waggles the list of
Summertime Torture.

Clark smiles. "All right."

It *is* a little stranger-than-usual to have Clark --
*Superman* -- walking with him through the
darkened manor. It isn't that he doesn't spend the
vast majority of his life around capes, it's just that
it doesn't really happen *here*.

Most of the Titans have been in the Cave at least
once, and he knows Clark visited reasonably
often back in the day -- there are pictures -- but...

He thinks maybe it's the *actual* cape. They aren't
running, or even walking especially fast, but it still,
well... sounds like a cape.

He's pretty sure it's the kind of sound Alfred put
his foot down against as much -- if not more --
than sparring in the library, way back when.

Which is a shame, because the library has some of
the most open space in the house -- other than the
old ballroom, which doesn't count because Jason
doesn't think he's *capable* of doing anything fun
in there. The mellow gleam of the floor always
seemed a little reproachful of things like that, even
in the days when all he *did* was run through this
place in an attempt to find trouble.

When he was a different boy, and this was... a
different manor.

Clark clears his throat again, and Jason realizes he's
just kind of zoning out on the feel of the doorframe
leading into the fiction library.

Jason grins and shakes his head. "Sorry, just

"About? If you don't mind --"

"Do I ever?"

Clark looks at him for a long moment before saying,
"No," very seriously.

Seriously enough... "Definitely not an official visit?"

The seriousness fades into ruefulness in a heartbeat.
"Well, in our line of work..."

Jason nods. "Everything's official. Yep, I'm picking
up on that." He shakes his head again and lets
himself lean back against the doorframe, crossing
his arms over his chest. It's warm enough in the
manor, of course, that the fact that he's only in
shorts won't get uncomfortable until Alfred wakes
up and eyebrows at him. "Still seems strange, I


"That I'm warm." Jason snorts. "I was pretty much
either freezing or too wiped to notice how cold I
was for months after the quake."

"Ah," Clark says, and ducks his head on a smile.
"There were times when I just wished I could get
all of you to stop *moving* for long enough that I
could... well. I've been told I'm always... warm."

Jason holds up his hands in front of the 's' like Clark's
just a big, smiling fireplace for a second, and listens
to Clark laugh softly.

"Was that what you were thinking about? The

"Nope, that was just my incredibly clever attempt to
distract you."

"Jason, you know you don't have to -- I mean, if there's
something --"

"None of them remember the others, Clark."

"-- uncomfortable. I..." Clark closes his hands into loose
fists for a moment and Jason lets his smile get a little

"Yeah. That." Jason rolls his head on his neck and
closes his eyes. "None of them *knew* Bruce, or Dick,
or Barbara -- or even *Jim* -- so of course they don't
remember. Somehow it's still... it's different."

"Would you... would you like to talk? About them."

"Cass moved in -- that's the other heartbeat you hear,
by the way, in case you didn't know."

"It's remarkable. I've grown accustomed to... to
*knowing* people by their heartbeats, but hers is...
she's rarely agitated, it seems."

Jason grins. "She shows it other ways. You know
how you learned how to control your individual
muscles? She could totally teach you a few things, I

"I'd like to meet her, sometime. I'm... entirely unsure
whether she's awake now or *not*." Clark sounds
so utterly bemused that Jason has to look. He's
staring west and, well, *up*.

"Is she in bed?"

Clark blinks at him. "What? I... I wasn't looking."

"Just listening? Heh. Tim does that, too, apparently."

Clark has a fold of his cape between his fingers.

Jason frowns at Clark's hand and, after a moment,
it rests at his side again. He has the vague,
mindless urge to wrap Clark's fingers around the
cape again, and... He looks back up into Clark's
eyes. "Yeah. I... okay, we were looking at pictures
tonight, right? Photos Steph had taken of all of us."

Clark smiles. "May I see?"

"Yeah. Remind me sometime when we *know*
Cass is awake -- they're in her room. She's got
this... *thing* about photos. Candids, anyway."

"They can be very... well. Tell me."

Jason starts to shake his head again, and then
*shakes* it, rattling his own brain a little. "I can't
believe it's so hard to spit this *out*. I... okay,
here it is. She wants to see the old photos. The
ones of Bruce, and Dick... the old ones. She does
this thing with body language, and she can look
at a photo and it's almost like she's some kind
of... distance psychic. She'll tell you what the
people in the photo are feeling, what they're
looking at, even a little of what they're *thinking*.
And it's like you're right there, again. Even if you
were never there in the first place."

Clark nods at him. He's probably had to give a *lot*
of thought to the way humans move.

"And part of me... I don't know if I want to go back
there or not. If I.... If she looks at this old picture
Starfire shipped to us after Dick died, this one of us
just sort of freaking smirking at the camera and
acting like we were really brothers, instead... fuck,
I don't know."

"You..." Clark moves a little closer. "You're afraid to
know what he was truly feeling?"

Jason laughs, or tries to. It comes out more like a
bark than anything else. "Fucking terrified. Because
it's just as bad if it turns out to be 'hey, he's a cool
kid, after all,' as it is if it's 'god, I want to punch this
asshole.' Either way, he's still not here at all, and
I'm not *there*, and I'll never get to see his *face*
when Steph and Cass start wrestling and he has to
pretend it's not the hottest thing he's seen in his

Clark chokes and coughs, covering his mouth.

"Yeah, exactly. I just... I have this wonderful family
now, you know? And the best things I could've
given them..." Jason hears himself sigh and can't
really get pissed about it. He stares at his own feet,
instead. Crooked toes and scars. "I used to... Tim
*did* meet Dick, once."

He can pretty much feel Clark frowning in confusion.
"I didn't... I don't *believe* I've ever --"

"You didn't. Trust me on this. The introduction
happened when Tim was *three*, and then he spent
the next ten years stalking the guy, and, by extension,
everyone he was close to." When he looks up this
time, Clark looks frankly stunned.

"I... Bruce never...?"

"The only thing *I* ever taught that kid was how to
throw a punch, Clark. He was a Bat before his freakin'
balls dropped."

Clark blushes *and* smiles. "He's definitely...

Jason snickers. "Yeah, that's a word for it. Anyway,
every once in a while he'd ask me something about
Dick. About the others, too, but *mostly* about
Dick." ("Did he... did he ever touch you?" "Are you asking
if I ever fucked him?" "Yes.") Jason shakes it off,
internally this time. "It isn't -- wasn't -- like talking to
Roy, or even to you. It was like *introducing* him. It
was... fuck, I think I've spent the past year letting Tim
help me tell myself that one day I really *would* get to
do it."

"Jason..." Clark's hand is big on his shoulder, and, yeah,

Jason covers it with his own. "I know, man. We all deal
with grief differently, and anyway I've been *busy*."
He smirks and squeezes. "Trust me when I say I'm not
beating myself up or anything. Steph knows where I
sleep. I could wake up with a mullet at any *time*."

"All right. Then... what is it?"

Jason gives Clark's hand one more squeeze and then
lets go, finally moving into the library proper. He sets
the list down on one of the desks and throws himself
back on the couch that Bruce never kissed him on.

After a moment, Clark follows, sitting next to him
when Jason pats the cushions.

"You realize Superboy's coming back here, right? He's
*going* to be our token meta."

Clark frowns down at his own hands. Yeah, he realizes.

"Probably about five minutes after Tim started training
the kid... well, yeah. *He* might not know it yet, and
your *parents* might not know it yet, but, well, it's a
real good thing we've got so much space. Alfred'll
give Kon a North-facing room -- maybe the one next
to Cass' -- and maybe let me have the extra drapes..."

"You... well, you'd mentioned that Tim had other

Jason grins. "*He* might not know he's moving back
here, yet, but..."

Clark looks up and blinks at him. "You *want* them

Jason stares at Clark. "I... Jesus, Clark. It *kills* me
that I never got to live -- *really* live -- with any of
the others. This is where they *belong*."

"All right..."

"It's just that I'm a little slow on things. I never
stopped wanting nothing to *change* between me
and Tim, and that never *started* being possible. He
was the last connection I *had* to my past. The
last one I *could* have, because you stopped
treating me like the kid I used to be the day I put
on the cowl, and because Roy..." Still wants that
kid back. "I think it's finally over, Clark. For me. I
think I just figured out that it's *been* over."

Like a kid running home with a triple-decker cone,
too rushed to realize he's about to lose it until he
gets there, and all he has is the stupid waffle

Except that isn't it, and he *knows* it isn't.

It's that he used to have a house with too many
ghosts, and now he... doesn't.

And it's actually kind of a surprise that Clark
*doesn't* have his hand on Jason's knee, or his
shoulder, but... well, he's back to studying his
hands. "What's up, Clark?"

"I have to admit... this is more along the lines of
what I expected when I mentioned Tim's relationship
with... Superboy."

Jason blinks and thinks about punching himself in
the face. "Jesus, Clark, I can't believe I forgot to tell
you --"

"About Cyborg and Robin's discoveries?" Clark smiles
at him wryly. "Robin updated me... approximately
three minutes after Cyborg called you."

"I..." Jason snorts. "*Okay*, then."

"I did want to apologize to you for that. I shouldn't
have --"

Jason waves it off. "You're allowed, on this. I'm
pretty sure it's in the rule-book."

The smile gets even wryer. "You have a... very
comfortable rule-book, Jason."

"Yeah, well. I kinda had to make room." He punches
Clark lightly on the shoulder. There's give, and it
*almost* feels like the right amount, and it has
infinitely more to do with the fact that Clark had
made his delts about as paralyzed as they could be
in the split-seconds after Jason had lifted his arm
than with anything else.

Jason laughs a little helplessly and stares at his
own, bruise-free knuckles for a second before
resting his arm on the back of the couch.

"My reactions... Tim and I fucked it up. Royally, and
together. I'm always... he's my *brother*, but
maybe now we'll be, well. Brothers."

"And your Robin." The look on Clark's face is just a
little sharper and *deeper* than seems right.

Which is... Jason frowns to himself. "Do Robins get
to have meta-human partners? I don't know. That
conversation we had..."

"I... didn't listen."

Jason nods absently. "Cass wants Robin back at least
as much as she wants Tim. Steph's gonna be
psyched when I finally get to tell *her* about the
chat we had." And Helena will... what? "I don't know,
Clark. I don't think Dick ever really stopped being
Robin. Not for *Bruce*, anyway. I don't think anyone
ever does, completely. When I can see Tim again,
when he lets me look him in the -- heh -- eye,
when I see how it feels when we're *out* there

"Then you'll know?"

Jason smiles and leans back against the arm of
the couch, throwing his legs up on Clark's lap.

After a long moment, Clark rests his hand on
Jason's shin. Lightly.

"Did you want me to move?" He doesn't, Jason
knows, with the kind of sudden clarity that always
makes him think of muzzle flashes. He doesn't,
and he --

"No," Clark says softly, and strokes his leg. Once.

"Good." He *wants* me. He's... "What are you
holding back? About Tim."

Clark looks at him and his eyes are so *full* Jason
thinks he's going to explain that muzzle flash, but
all he says is, "He mentioned having doubts about
his role as Robin. I... suggested that other Robins
had seen it as a place to begin."

That's... Jesus. *Jesus*. "Are you *trying* to take
my Robin away? Jesus, Clark, *I'm* not jealous
of Kon, but I'm starting to think *you* are." He's
kidding -- mostly. And mostly because certain
things just *happen* when Robins have existential
crises around Superman.

But... there are too many expressions on Clark's
face to even *count* for long moments, and then
there's just one. And Jason... God, it's been too

"Say it, Clark. Say what you *want*."

"The first time you let me call you 'Batman,' I was
terrified. For both of us. And every time you told
me to tell you 'Jason,' it felt as though I was...
transgressing. You don't know what your name
feels like in my mouth, Jason."

Oh... *fuck*. "More," he says, and he doesn't know
if the growl is intentional or not.

"I want to make love to you."

And there's a part of him screaming about the fact
that it's *Superman*, and a part of him screaming
about how it explains so freaking *much*, and
also that it's *Superman* -- "Kiss me," he says,
and it feels like a fucking *compromise*.

And then it's just hot. *Warm*, because Clark is
over him, *around* him, and his lips are soft --

He's *making* his lips soft, and Jason growls
before he can even think about it, shoving his
hands into Clark's hair and biting.

"Jason -- oh, Jason --"

The first brush of Clark's tongue is just that. A
brush, a *tease*, and Jason wants to complain
about it -- *suck* on it -- but he tightens his
hands in Clark's hair and yanks.

Against *stone* for three thudding heartbeats
before Clark stops licking Jason's mouth. "I...
Jason --"

"This is why he did it, isn't it? Why he *sent* you
to me and... fuck. Set me *up* to tell you about
the Codes, and. God. Fucking --"

"Jason..." Clark's eyes are wide and hurt and
*ashamed* and so fucking hungry...

He *knows* hungry, from both sides, and smiles.
"Tell me you don't love that little freak. Just try."


"Fly me to bed. *My* bed. Not --"

Not Bruce's, not anymore, he was going to say, but
there's a rush of air and then just the familiar feel
of the duvet Alfred had chosen for him. Green
stretching under and beside him and Clark so
fucking *close*.

"Tell me how long?"

"Months," Clark says, and his eyes are moving just
a little too fast, a little too *alien* over Jason's
face and upper body. "I... I didn't know, I just... I
*felt* --"

"Give me another kiss, Clark. A *real* one."

The moan is sharp and low, and then it's sharp
and muffled with Jason's mouth, and Clark... his
mouth is as hard -- *harder* -- as some kind of
metal, but it's smooth and warm and his tongue...

Jason moans right back and yanks on Clark's hair --

Clark pulls back. "I -- I'm sorry --"

"Don't stop, don't, let me --"

It takes a minute for his brain to translate Clark's
moaning growl into his own name, and by then
Clark is kissing him all over. Only about half of
them feel like they'll bruise, but it's still...

He doesn't know where the hell his boxers are, and
Clark isn't straining, even remotely. He's using the
barest fraction of his own strength, and while
there's a part of Jason's brain that wants to know
why he's so fucking shocked, the rest of him is
just moving into it, *wanting* it. As little control
as either of them can fucking stand, because that's
the way it's *supposed* to be.

The first touch of Clark's tongue on his dick is
something like being *slapped*, and Jason jerks
and spreads and --

He can't hear himself, anymore, or maybe it's just
that he can't really separate out everything. The ache
in his nipple and the breathy *sounds* coming out
of his mouth which could be in any voice at all, and
the way that Clark is making this feel *exactly* like
having sex with *Clark*.

Motion and feeling and the fact -- *fact* -- that, at
any given moment, it really will be too much.

"You taste... oh, so *human* --"

It knocks a laugh out of him, and that's almost like
*focus*. Enough to let him detangle his hands from
Clark's hair enough to just touch his face.

Feverish-only-*not* heat, and no *give* even when
Jason touches his eyelids, and that wet, open
mouth. Jason's hips surge without his permission,
and Clark's nostrils flare and --

"Wait --"

Clark squeezes his eyes shut. "Yes," he says. *Pants*.

"Is this -- is this okay?"

Clark looks at him like he's speaking Tamaranian or
something, and *that* laugh lets him actually sit up
a little. Run his thumb over Clark's teeth and
watch -- *feel* -- Clark shudder, once, all over.

Jason breathes. "Jesus, Clark, I just..."

"I want you. So badly."

Jason strokes Clark's face without thinking, without
even... it takes forever (*years* in Clark's eyes, it
has to be --) to realize he's trying to soothe Clark,
cool him *down* a little, and another forever to
actually remember what he wants to *say*.

Especially since there's this small, terrifying *shudder*
somewhere beneath Clark's skin. Jason feels his dick
twitching and licks his lips.

"I need to make sure you're okay with -- what I want
from you --"

"Anything, Jason, I -- I'll do anything --"

"*Easy*," he growls before he just orders Clark to
fuck him. "I know how careful you are, and I *don't*
know all the reasons why, so... I need to know if
you're okay with me... pushing you."

"I..." Clark stares at him, at his body. Taking him
*in* for long moments before looking up at him
again. The smile on his face is *strained*, but it's
rueful and real. "Tim has been... insistent about
my lack of humanity. About... his impatience with
my pretending otherwise."

Of *course* he has. Jason nods and smirks and
spreads his legs. "Then give it to me, alien."
*Clark*. "As much as I can take."

The wash of red behind Clark's eyes makes Jason's
heart seize and *pound*, but there's nothing on
fire, and all Clark says is, "Don't let me hurt you."

And then he's *on* Jason, more bruising kisses
and the wet slap of his tongue, and it's *nothing*
like being punished, and it's nothing like play. It's
too much for that, too *fast* for that.

The scrape of Clark's teeth on his thighs that he
only knows is light when he doesn't feel himself
*bleeding*, the suck that knocks a breathy scream
out of him, the rush of sudden, incomprehensible
*air* --

And his face in the pillow. "Jesus -- fuck *yes* --"

Tongue on his thighs, his back --

"In me, Clark, God, it's been too fucking *long* --"

And it doesn't feel like there's any pause at all. Just
a smooth, blank transition between hot breath on
his spine and something slick and hard his mind
*refuses* to define as a finger pushing in. "Jason."

The bedside drawer is open, and... it *is* a finger.
Clark's... oh God.

"Jason, please, I need --"

He can't focus his *eyes* and he can't stop working
his hips and "Do it -- *do* it --"

The first real *thrust* makes Jason bite his tongue,
makes him pant and whine because there isn't
enough air for anything else.

"So good -- *Clark* --"

"It was Tim... the last -- I mean --"

Jason groans and *flexes*. "Yeah, Clark --"

But Clark *stops*.

Jason pushes himself up on his elbows and looks
back over his shoulder. Clark is blushing so hard it
looks almost painful. Jason frowns. "What is it?"

"I... I talk too -- I *listen* too much. To you, and
I want too *much* --"

"Pull out."

Clark does, slow and *gentle*, eyes squeezed shut
and mouth *tight*, and Jason isn't sure if he wants
to punch something or just beat his head against
the pillow. He settles for flipping back over onto
his back.

"Open your eyes, Clark."

Wide and blue and *desperate*.

Just like maybe Jason's going to *stop* this. "This
way. I want it like this."

Clark gasps. "Jason..."

Jason plants his feet and arches up with his hips,
more about feeling what his body wants -- wallowing
in it -- than anything else, but Clark's doing that
'take your whole body in every three nanoseconds'
thing with his eyes, and Clark is licking his lips and
reaching -- Jason catches his wrist and squeezes.

"In me again. Now."

"Oh, Jason --"

It *does* feel like a finger this time, but only for a
moment, and then it's hard and (alien) *right*
again, and Jason has to work not to close his own
eyes and *just* take this.


"He did it *hard*, Clark. He knew what I wanted.
What I *liked* --"

The spasm rocks him, makes him spasm and *jerk*,
but Clark doesn't pull out or try to make himself
feel more *human*. He just rests his other hand
on Jason's abdomen and strokes, and his eyes
are *narrow* with concentration.

"Fuck, Clark --"

Clark shakes his head. "You don't -- you don't have
to --"

But he's thrusting *faster*. "You want it. You --
oh *fuck* --"

Impossibly hard inside him and wet on his throat,
*heat* and pressure with Clark's tongue
*pressed* to his pulse.

And Clark is still *dressed*. "Clark --"

"I want everything from you, Jason. I want --" Panting
breath on Jason's throat. "Too much. Everything --"

The crook of something inside him that doesn't feel
like it should be *capable* of bending -- fingering,
Clark's *fingering* him, and Jason tosses his head
on the pillow and groans.

"*Jason* --"

Two fingers. Two and it's hard and wrong and
*killing* him. "He -- he -- don't *stop*, Clark --"

"Just... just my fingers --"

"*Yes* -- fuck, hot as fucking *blood* --" And Jason
bites his lip and *tries* to keep his eyes open and
gives up and *arches* into it, working his hips and
reaching blindly until he can get his hands back into
Clark's hair.

Clark -- Clark *isn't* on him, not really. He's fucking
*hovering* and tonguing Jason's throat like a
fucking *beating*, *licking* him --

"*Clark*. He studied me. He --" The sucking kisses
are just as -- Clark's *fingers* -- "Fucking
*studies* -- you know --"

"Yes." Breath on his lips. "Jason, you're so beautiful --"

"The first really --" Oh God oh fuck *hard* --
"Could've been an accident. He apologized. I told him
to do it again. Harder -- hard --"

And Clark crooks his fingers again and fucks him
almost *brutally* and Jason wouldn't be able to
stop working his hips if his *life* depended on it.
Too hard and too *much* and fucking *perfect* --

"*Please*, Jason --"

("You *need* me.") "Wasn't -- wasn't an accident."
Clark licking his *mouth*. "We both -- I think we
both -- oh fuck I --"

The kiss isn't any harder than any of the others, but
it just narrows Jason down to his mouth and his
ass, and the way Clark is fucking *both*. Clark
making him feel soft -- fucking *tenderized*.

Clark opening him *up*, and Jason whimpers into
the kiss and comes shaking.

"Jason. I --"

"*Yeah*," he says, and sucks in a breath, and Clark
*still* isn't on him. The sudden rush of oxygen is
shocking and *wrong*, and Jason *pulls* on
Clark's hair. "In me. On me. I don't care, just --"

The rush of air is powerful enough to move the
sweaty hair on his forehead, and then Clark is just.

"Holy fuck, Clark."

It doesn't feel like skin at all. It doesn't feel human
and it doesn't feel *normal* and Clark is
whispering in a language Jason can't --

Clark is talking dirty in fucking *Kryptonian* and
rocking the bed every time he *thrusts* against
Jason's stomach.

And suddenly Jason feels about fourteen, swept
up and swallowed and bruised and buried and --

"You're perfect, Clark..."

And when Clark looks up, there are a million things
in his eyes that Jason can't translate, and just a
few more he *can*.

"Yes," he says, and Clark's expression crumbles
into something pained and the come between them
makes Jason sweat.


"Jesus, that's good, Clark. I --"

The moan is just as pained as that last look on Clark's
face, but Jason can't read him anymore. He's got
his head buried against Jason's throat, and his hands
are digging into the sheets. Literally.

Maybe the mattress, too. Jason strokes Clark's hair.
"You okay?"

"I... didn't mean to..." Clark's swallow is audible. "Not
like that."

And it takes a minute to get his brain to work beyond
trying to figure out just *what* Clark's sweat and
come smells like, but... yeah. It makes sense. Kind of.
"You think there's something wrong with getting off
on me with Tim?"

Clark looks up, and it's another one of those
what-language-are-you-*using* looks. Which,

Is really pretty funny. He pushes until Clark rolls off,
then lies on his side. Carefully. "Come on, Clark --"

"It's *you*, Jason. I... I don't want you to think -- I
lost *control*."

Jason smirks. "Yeah. You did."

Clark frowns. "Jason --"

He strokes Clark's mouth, feeling it turn soft in
something that's probably a reflex at this point before
it goes back to being hard. *Right*.  Jason nods.
"I can't remember the last time I had sex and there
were only two people there. Not really. I don't think
I ever *have*."

The frown on Clark's face deepens, but he doesn't
speak until Jason moves his fingers. "I... it's not
supposed to be like that, Jason."

Bruce, and Dick, and Steph, and Tim... Jason shakes
his head and laughs a little, reaching down and
wrapping his hand around Clark's dick. "No?"

Clark gasps. "Jason..."

It's interesting. He can't actually tell by the *feel* if
Clark was still hard, or if he's getting harder, or if
he's just.... Jason throws his other arm around Clark's
neck and pulls until Clark leans in, and Jason can lick
his ear.

"Welcome to Gotham, Clark."

Or maybe just 'welcome to the family.'


Feedback lets me know you're out there -- and yes, I care about that. Feedback is how I connect to people, and how I make new friends and meet new lovers -- just ask the ones I already have sometime. Feedback makes all the hard work *more* meaningful, and *more* special, and *more* worthwhile. Feedback? Is the glue that holds my fragile sanity together, to be honest. Talk to me.

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