The Mirror Before You
by Te
June 23, 2005

Disclaimers: Not even close to mine.

Spoilers: None.

Summary: You are compromised.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Adults only, extra disturbing, way too much

Author's Note: Toonverse. Some vague relation to Shake and cough
and Primary, but I'm frankly not sure whether it's necessary or not
to read those first. Mainly because the connections between these
stories are often incidental at best.


You think: This is when I know myself; this is how --

In the soft, desperate cries of the boy beneath you, you are shaped. In
their rising, terrifying spiral, in their meanings neither of you can deny,
you are written.

In truth -- and you know this -- this is when it ceases to matter that you


He frightens you, though not in the way he thinks he does, and not in
the ways you know the boy is accustomed to frightening others.

(This is a distraction, this tangent. You still believe you are allowed.)

At sixteen, you think, one should be beyond the descriptor of 'precocious.'
Even humans. Just the same, there is an alchemy of appearance, here,
within the boy. He is small, and retains many of the half-conscious (and
worse) markers of childhood --

The width of his eyes, in comparison to the rest of his face.

The habit of swinging his feet when restless or bored.

Other things.

The boy invites -- helplessly and consciously, you know this -- the belief that
he is still a child. He does this for fun. When this belief is fully-formed within
some hapless observer or another, the boy begins a systematic destruction.
A disillusionment -- you've seen him do this -- that is, perhaps, at the base of
all thoughts of precocity.

And fear.


The boy frightens you. He holds a mirror before himself and dares you not
to see your self. You are large, you loom and hulk (around, above, over),
you are monstrous, brutal.

You are a monster, say the bruises around the boy's wet, smiling mouth.

You are a monster.

You are.


You are almost positive this was easier once. Simpler, perhaps because of
the boy's own lifestyle, and the way Bruce --

(You say how he looked. How he was -- had been -- dressed. How he walked
and talked and smiled. Everyone did. He's had so many lovers. Everyone
knows --)

He wasn't a child. He was a 'boy' more to give you and your colleagues a
way to distinguish yourselves, yes?

A way -- even -- to give meaning to your greater heights, ages, and muscle
masses. The boy is less than half your age, but has just as much experience
in the work, the neverending battle, as you did. More, if you counted the
life he had apparently lived before Bruce found him.

(Did you hear him say the boy was older than both of you? Was that a

The boy -- the boy is sixteen, now. Even human law --

And at what point does explanation become rationalization?


What you've done...

It was always an explicit break with your own rules of respect and independence.
Theirs, that is.

You'd made those rules years agio, for reasons like the way Lana had stopped
smiling for three whole weeks after finding the Chapman boy in the bushes
outside her bedroom that summer, and like how just being able to watch them
(and listen, and smell them) without their knowledge (and never mind your
other powers, never mind) made them a... them.

There were limits, of course. You can't deafen yourself. (Did you ever really
want to?) But you can still (pretend) respect their privacy. Especially that of
those close to you.

Long before you met the boy -- before Bruce had -- these were your rules:

Never to listen when you could merely hear. Never to watch when you
could merely see.

It was always a break, this thing you do with the boy, always wrong to
monitor him, no matter how many rationalizations for it you came up with.

It's just that the first time you met him, he was about to be killed, with Bruce
nowhere around.

It's just that it scared you -- appalled you -- to hear that Bruce had such
a partner -- that he wasn't even the first.

It's just that you knew everything about the boy -- you had to -- before
any of your colleagues had to say a word about him, or you had any
excuse to go to Gotham for yourself.



You realize, of course, that your periodic confessions to the boy about just how
much of a voyeur you've become don't make it any better.

The boy's scandalized titillation (and it is, it is) is a very poor substitute for


Anything could happen to the boy, the way he lives, the way he works.

Just -- anything.

There's a sick sort of consolation in that, as there is in the many tracers and
alarms Bruce has placed on -- and in -- the boy's uniform. He worries, too.

The boy has no privacy for you to steal. No freedom for you to impinge upon.
Not like other humans.



He asks you about your other lovers, more often and more seriously than he
used to do.

The boy is not the first to assume your virginity, and of course not the first to
be somewhat rudely shocked by your truths.

There was a time you treasured those moments, those times when you could
nearly taste your lovers' realizations about the... breadth of your experience.

Now they make you resentful.

The boy wants to know, of all things, about his competition.

(You have not given him any greater degree of confidence, have you?)

The boy wants to know who else you've hurt.

The way you hurt him.


If anything, you think, you should have more lovers now. You should be paying
attention to the sweetly familiar undercurrents when Lana calls you at work to
let you know when next she'll be in Metropolis --

(The two of you never -- quite -- finished the process of breaking up, not even
when she began seeing Pete semi-seriously. She is, and will always be, one of
Clark Kent's best friends, if not one of yours.)

If anything, you should be spending the nights you can't have the boy with
some superhuman (or alien) lover or another.

Physical reasons alone -- the boy can't give you what you need. Not all of it. You
starve in his embrace; you are so very, very hungry sometimes.

You starve even as he... feeds you.

(Those spiraling cries, the desperation and desire of your boy, your generous boy.)

You starve.

You like it.


There is no sense whatsoever in letting the boy believe you are still seeing other
people. It's pathetic, vindictive, and, perhaps, cruel.

Certainly it would be a cruel thing to do an average boy. A child.


You wanted to see what he would do. This is what you began telling yourself.

At some point.

You wanted to see what this jealousy of his, this... this childish insecurity would
drive him to.

(Haven't you always held him?)

And now you know. Now you watch, and listen. You open your mouth and
taste -- smoke and pollution and far too much human effluvia to distinguish
the taste of your boy -- your boy -- from the rest of Gotham, and this man
who you can't quite believe was ever a Robin, even though, of course, he
was the first.

You can't quite credit the way they laugh and joke together about nothing
consequential, and the way the boy doesn't scream. Once.

Later, he tells you, "It's not like it was serious, Clark. I knew you were

And what does that mean? Doesn't it beg the question of what he might do --
have done -- if he hadn't known?

It's a sort of watershed thought, a dam breaking, a flood of possessive drive
which blinds and chokes you, wraps your hand (so huge, monstrous) around
the boy's throat, makes you squeeze as you thrust, strikes you dumb and
shocked at the splash of his semen on your chest, even though none of this
is new anymore.

You do it again.

And again.

Later, he tells you (in a hoarse, beloved whisper, with a cracked, beloved smile)
that he isn't sure whether this was supposed to be negative or positive
reinforcement, and you know -- you know -- that he is, finally, truly asking you
what this means, that he wants to know.

'I love you because all of your jokes for me are deadly serious,' you think of
telling him. You want to.

You want to so very badly.

It's almost out when the boy coughs and speaks again, his voice quiet and

"Say it again. Please," he says. You know what he means.

What the boy wants and needs seems so easy, so simple, only, of course, if
it was...

"I love you," you say, and you've lost track of the number of times you've
done so.

The boy curls against your side, pretending to believe.



If it was the pain which made the boy doubt, could you stop hurting him? You
were always gentle with Lana and the other humans you've been sexually
involved with, after all. It doesn't require much more concentration than
anything else you do to move through this fragile, fragile world. Certainly
you've always managed to avoid injuring the boy.

If it was the way you tease him that made the boy fear, couldn't you offer the
facts of your existence to him, the fact of your singular obsession? You never
toyed with the others.

Never never.


"There is no one like you," you tell the boy one day, feeling weak and
compromised by the compromise. "I don't understand what you do to me."

The boy cocks his head, somewhere between skeptical and honestly confused.
You're not sure how he can do that, either, and you memorize the look of him
for some time when you won't have the boy himself within reach. After a
moment, he parts his lips as though he'll say something to you.

You wait.

And then he smiles, slowly and almost softly, and drags your hand to his mouth.

And defines the shape of your thumb with his lips, his teeth.

His tongue.


Note: Um... I wrote this longhand, actually. I was right *by* a computer at the
time, but it would've taken too long for it to boot up. I had to write it right then
and *there*.

I've since been trying to figure out *why* it was so urgent -- beyond the usual,
familiar drive to clarify a particularly difficult (read: cracktastic) pairing for
whichever readers decided to follow me down the rabbit hole -- and, in the end,
I've got nothing.

Tentative theory: In BATMAN ADVENTURES v. 2, Tim is *at least* sixteen years
old. They just keep *drawing* him as being the size of a small cat. (Thank you
*ever* so, Mary...) For that matter, he's also portrayed as having no more --
and no *less* -- (in)appropriate sophistication as he had when he was thirteen.

Enter Timmy, frozen in amber. Or armor.

.Learn how to dance.