Disclaimers: Profoundly not mine.
Summary: *points to title*
Ratings Note: Mostly harmless.
Author's Note: I blame the moving stress.
Acknowledgments: To Ruby, Betty, and LC for audiencing
Shock and awe
At least he won't be wearing a dress.
As consolations go, this one has only been somewhat
effective in the last few weeks, but 'somewhat' is nearly
always better than 'not at all.'
And Dick is...
"I know we agreed on tuxedos, little brother, but this one is
just so -- well, okay, it's a *lot* of lace, but I'm sure Alfred
will be able to --"
"Dick." Dick... is Dick.
And grinning -- no, beaming -- at him from across the table
and over the latest copy of Modern Gotham Bride.
Someone -- perhaps someone with a wheelchair and a nasty
sense of humor -- had acquired a subscription for him.
Someone was going down hard.
Just as soon --
"I know, Tim, I know. I just..." Dick shrugs, and, somehow,
the beam on his face increases in intensity. "I'm just so
Just as soon as Tim finds a way to stop... reacting... to that
sort. Of thing. The way he does. "Me, too," Tim says, and
sets about reminding himself that he has knees. Because --
Because it shouldn't be possible to make out over the table
without disturbing any of their breakfast items *or* staining
their clothes, but...
Well, Dick just keeps *doing* that sort of thing, and --
And he won't be wearing a dress. That's definitely --
"Mmm, oh," Dick says, breaking the kiss. "Don't forget --
tonight's the bachelor party. Well, *my* bachelor party.
Yours is next weekend."
Tim winces internally.
He won't be wearing a dress to that, either.
And he isn't. Neither is the stripper doing a surprisingly
good job of dancing her way over the console in the
Outsiders' control room in six inch heels.
The stripper currently doing a very athletic job of pretending
Grace is a pole *had* been wearing a dress, but Tim's
Tim is reasonably sure that Kon's forays into Roy's 'punch'
have at least as much to do with the fact that he's taking
the other stripper's example -- and Grace's other side --
as they do with anything else.
Perhaps he should start drinking.
Bart, despite lacking psychic powers, hands him a red plastic
cup full of something whose fumes could be used to strip
paint, if the ventilation was right -- or wrong.
"I still can't believe you're getting *married*. To
"The attitude seems to be going around," Tim says, taking
a sip. His tongue goes numb nearly instantly, which is
probably for the best.
"Hunh. Really? I mean, the older Titans and ex-Titans didn't
seem very surprised. I mean, isn't it kind of Nightwing's
*thing*? How many times has he been married? And
almost married. And --"
"I meant -- I meant more... my family."
Bart looks at him steadily. And then disappears.
Tim takes another sip.
Bart reappears. "I wasn't able to track down Batman, but
both Batgirl and Oracle said it was only a matter of time
once you started having sex --"
"Okay, I'm just saying. Where *is* Nightwing, anyway?"
"Roy drugged him and put him in the cake."
When Dick wakes up, he's apparently sober enough to
realize where he is. This is a conjecture, as Tim is
reasonably sure that an entirely sober Dick would not
respond to this realization by dancing -- and stripping --
his way out of the cake.
Roy -- Dick's best man -- is currently swinging Dick's uniform
top over his head in a manner which can only be
Kon -- Tim's best man -- is consoling the strippers.
Tim catches Dick's pants. With his face. He manages not
to slosh his drink.
"So I can totally gin up a few of my 'special' darts for the
Tim looks at Roy. After removing the pants from his face.
Roy shrugs. "I'm just saying."
He's thought about this.
He's considered the timing, the phrasing, the number of
potentially dangerous weapons in range of the area he's
set aside for the conversation -- he'd removed several
pounds of C4 Dick had been storing behind his shoes --
his capacity for successfully conducting difficult emotional
conversations, and his capacity for successfully conducting
difficult emotional conversations with Dick.
He had, of course, considered the idea of saving the
conversation for some time when they were patrolling
together -- it *is* Dick -- but, in the end, the chance for
inopportune distraction was just too high.
Now or never.
"Hey, little brother, what's up?"
Should you really be getting married to someone you
think of as a sibling, Dick? Wait, no, he wasn't going to
start with that. He --
"Are you feeling okay?"
I'm really not sure -- I mean, of course we've known each
other for years, and loved each other, and I -- wait, no,
that isn't it, either.
I -- he really hates that nickname. Hates it like -- like a
flamethrower aimed at his *jock*. Except, of course, when
Dick uses it while doing something to Tim with his hands.
Or his... well, his mouth should really be considered, and --
And Dick is hugging him. "I know, it's been *insane* around
here, lately. You're really feeling the stress, aren't you?"
"Why don't you come back to bed with me? I'll give you a
backrub and you can catch a nap before patrol. Hey, are
you in Bludhaven tonight or Gotham, anyway?"
Just -- just because he feels -- "I love you," is what falls
out of his mouth. It may have something to do with the
way Dick persists in smelling, looking, acting, speaking,
and existing exactly like everything Tim has ever wanted.
"I love you, too, little brother. Forever."
All things considered, it's not a bad dress.
"So, are you Mr. Nightwing, now?"
"Mr. Nightwing-Robin? Robinwing...?"
One is silver (toonverse, You'll Get Used To It In Time)
"Holy... man, I *remember* these robes from when Kal's
parents got married. I was, like, *four*!"
Kara seems... pretty excited, really. For her, it has to be
kind of like a Very Special Mock U.N. Day. Or... United
Planets Day, maybe.
United *something*, anyway, and Tim has to admit,
watching Kara bounce -- and fly -- around in uncomplicated
happiness is a lot easier to deal with than... well.
It's possible that he's hiding here in the Fortress.
It's possible that he's *been* hiding since, say, that last
conversation with Bruce.
He's got the wincing internally thing down. Mostly.
"Hey, you okay?" Kara ruffles his hair -- he can't quite
make himself whip out the product while he's staying
with the Kents. The gloves feel rough and good on his
Good enough for Tim to grin at her. "I'm good."
Kara's own smile is rueful. "Bats'll come around. Don't
She *would* think that. Tim just keeps smiling. "Sure."
"And, you know, so what if he doesn't come to the -- damn,
what's the word for it again? I don't actually say it *during*
the ceremony so I haven't got it memorized --"
Tim can't, actually, make his throat pronounce the word. He
can spell it, though, and he does -- sketching out the letters
he can't say between them.
"*Right*," she says, snorting and starting to strip out of her
Supergirl uniform. "It's kind of embarrassing that you're so
much better at Kryptonian than I am, considering. I just
haven't gotten the chance to *use* it enough in the past
Tim shrugs and enjoys the casual nudity.
"Then again... guess you got reason, hunh?"
His own robes are kind of comfortably basic, black because
he isn't -- yet -- a member of the House of El. Clark -- no,
Kal now. Kal from now *on*. Kal had explained, seriously
and earnestly, that they could -- probably *should* --
consider it as a matter of him marrying into the House of
Drake, too, but that's...
That's a world of no in more ways than Tim knows how to
Even with... Kal.
"Anyway," she says, fastening the headpiece she'll be
wearing since she'll be acting as both the Officiator *and*
Kal's familial witness, "so what if Bats doesn't show up?
*Babs* is here, and she's much better, anyway."
Tim grins a little wider and leans back on the couch-thing
the AI had prepared for his 'apartments' here. "Do tell."
Kara sticks her tongue out at him.
"Shouldn't you be wiggling that a little...?"
Kara snorts, reaches behind her, and pulls out a conveniently
soft chunk of Fortress 'wall' to throw at him.
He ducks enough that it only grazes his hair.
The Fortress knows him well enough that it doesn't grip.
It's interesting that she knows she can do things like that,
considering the fact that Tim's pretty sure this is the first
time she's been here for more than a few hours at a time,
"Kara, is the Fortress... is it like the house you grew up in?
Before, I mean."
She frowns a little. "How so?"
Good question. "The... well, the materials, I guess. The..."
He waves a hand at the 'wall' -- which has already filled
Kara grins again. "Yeah, kinda. Just... okay, imagine one of
those brownstone things back in Gotham, and then
imagine... I don't know, some crazy billionaire's mansion.
Jor-El was *loaded* compared to my parents, and this
place..." She shrugs.
"So I should be thinking of Kal as a crazy billionaire...?"
"Well... more like an heir, I guess."
Somewhere, Bruce should be doing that thing where he's
smiling even though he doesn't really mean to, because it's
just that funny.
At least it's funny enough to make up for the fact that
Bruce totally isn't.
And they're both ready.
He thinks the word for the way Kal looks is probably
something like 'resplendent.' Something kind of distant,
kind of unreal. The smile on his face is entirely personal
It's not a Clark smile, of course.
Sometimes Tim thinks this -- this *wedding* means less to
Kal than the fact that Tim is *calling* him Kal now.
Sometimes Tim thinks -- sometimes he's dead fucking
sure -- that Kal is just as fucked-up about all of this as he is.
It's just that Kal does 'fucked-up' differently than most.
It's easier to look at Babs, for a lot of reasons. She's wearing
a Batgirl uniform he'd never seen before -- there's real gold
around her Bat, and the boots have high, narrow heels.
They both know why she'd chosen to skip the Kryptonian
gear, and they both know Tim will love her for it pretty
much forever. And the gold... it's like having Alfred right
here, even though he isn't.
He's breathing easier before he realizes that he wasn't,
Kara shivers when the AI throws up a podium in front of
her -- between her and them -- with what's almost
certainly a Book of Rao on it.
"Wow, I -- wow. Okay. I..."
"You're good, Kara," someone says, and he doesn't realize
it was him until he can feel Kal looking at him.
Smiling at him, a little like...
The thing is, Kal has always had this one *particular* smile,
something that makes being pleased into something kind of
dark, kind of old and quiet and...
And the thing is, it's never been a Clark smile. Not really.
And it's always been.... it's always been a very familiar smile.
Bruce may not be here, but Batman... well, Batman kind
of had to be, didn't he?
And Tim knows the smile on his own face is one of the
ones that gets Kal a little twitched. It's not a smile for him,
Tim can feel Babs giving it right back to him.
As near as he can tell, Kara gets the ceremony perfect. She
stumbles a little at the beginning, but she's got it. He
knows Babs had been helping her practice for weeks back
There's really nothing for he *or* Kal to do -- other than
kneel when Kara places her perfectly dry, bare palms
against their foreheads. Kneel and just...
Most of these things were -- according to both Kal *and*
the AI -- arranged matters. ("Technically, I could be... well,
the closest word for it is 'excommunicated' for having
touched your bare skin before now. But I think... I think
my mother would have understood.")
He hadn't been talking about Mrs. Kent, of course.
Tim smiles at the floor, shifting to get the robes better
situated under his knees. It would be easier if he were just
wearing the black bodysuit he has under the thing, but then
the ceremony would be one which would *sell* him to the
House of El, and...
("Sometimes I think you'd *prefer* the cage.")
Whether or not the wedding means as much to Kal as he's
playing it, Tim knows if he did or said *anything* which
suggested the bodysuit-only thing as an option -- even as a
joke -- there'd be some variety of hell to pay.
Certainly he can save it for another time. Another --
Another day, he was thinking, except that just right now
he's feeling a little derailed.
He's *feeling* something on his forearms.
He jerks them in front of him and... there. A two-inch wide
band on either arm, flickering from red, to blue, to gold, to
simple white. He has no idea where they came from, but
when he looks there are identical ones around Kal's
There's no sign of where they open.
There's no sign of *how*, and --
And Kara's done, smiling with the color high in her cheeks,
and Babs is pelting them both with rice she'd had stashed
in one of her belt pouches somewhere, and Kal is cupping
And there are *things* on his arms.
"Tim," Kal says.
"Kal, what --"
The kiss is normal enough, which means that it ends with
Tim sprawled over and straddling Kal's thighs and his jaw
feeling slightly abused. Kara has stolen some rice to
sprinkle on both of them. However --
"Kal. These... what are they?"
"You've seen them before," Kal says, and he's using the 'it's
all right, don't be afraid' voice that Tim's pretty sure still
works on civilians. "On my parents. They're --"
And Kal says the words which translate to something like
'bands of family,' and yes, Tim *has* seen them before, it's
just that he'd thought they were made of fabric, as opposed
He can feel them *moving*.
"Kal, are they *alive*?"
The smile on Kal's face is rueful. "Depends on the definition.
The technology is most similar to... hmm. Nanites...?"
"How do they come *off*?"
"Ooh, I know this one," Kara says, flying over to place
individual grains of rice directly in Tim's hair. "If you ever,
you know, get, like, a divorce? The bands are programmed
to dissolve. It might scar a human, though," she says,
"Don't worry. They're designed to... well." Kal whispers a
phrase that translates into something like "hide" and
something like "sin" and the bands go black on Tim's
forearms. And gold on Kal's.
But he can still feel them.
"I'll help you practice saying it aloud."
He thinks he can feel them in his spine.
"Tim Drake," Kal says, and the old, old smile is back in his
Tim snorts and rolls his eyes. He really does have an
*interesting* definition of 'not a cage.' Tim can't say he's
particularly shocked. "Kal-El."
Ringu (The Fools Who Do)
It isn't, actually, large enough to dent the pillow. It just
seems that way -- really, an understandable bit of emotional
Additionally, the light bouncing off the diamonds -- there
are three -- isn't truly blinding.
Very few of the... reactions he's having to the sight of a
diamond ring on his pillow are entirely real and rational.
What *is* real is the fact that he's been standing beside the
bed for at least a solid minute, a bit less than halfway out
of the shift 'Janet' had worn to accompany Bruce Wayne to
Hudson General's annual glitz-ridden fundraiser. Also, Bruce
is -- judging by his senses -- almost entirely through the
Tim had intended something like a game -- different, more
casual than their usual -- along the lines of 'how naked can
he be before Bruce appears to help.' Bruce tends to find
that sort of thing both frustrating and amusing.
So does he.
There's a ring on the pillow.
There's a --
"Hm," Bruce says, quietly. "Too soon?"
Tim can't quite decide whether to take the shift the rest of
the way off, or just let it fall back into place. Both actions
would send --
"Bruce," Tim says, and strips the shift off the rest of the
way. "You can't be..." Serious. He was actually going to
Bruce doesn't say anything. Quite loudly.
Of course Bruce is serious. Serious as a *heart attack*, and
Tim has always wondered why it couldn't be "serious as a
gunshot wound to the frontal lobe" or "serious as pissing
off Superman." Really, it could be... it could be --
Bruce clears his throat.
To be fair, Tim *is* just staring at the thing. The ring. On
his pillow. With diamonds. On the pillow. Glittering at him.
"It isn't booby-trapped, Tim."
"You want me to *touch* it?"
The laugh is the sort of hum which Tim has come to view --
and react to -- nearly entirely positively in recent months.
This may have to change.
The ring glitters.
"It was my mother's, you know."
"Of course it was."
"The intriguing thing," Bruce says, finally moving close
enough that his breath ruffles Tim's hair slightly, "is that I
didn't have to have it resized at all."
Tim narrows his eyes.
"Though I suppose I shouldn't rule out one last growth
spurt on your part."
"There's a small explosive charge taped to my thigh,
"I taped it there myself."
"Just making sure you recall."
"I suppose I should cancel the caterers."
Tim does not make a strangled sound. Certainly, he doesn't
make it very loudly.
"And the minister."
"*Minister*? What -- what *denomination*?"
Bruce doesn't say anything. Irritatingly, it's one of his more
opaque silences, and it's necessary to actually look at him.
Bruce's expression is... blandly innocent. Tim considers
narrowing his eyes, but ultimately doing so any more than
he already is would result in blindness, albeit of the
Bruce puts his hands in his pockets -- ah. A Bruce Wayne
gesture. Best to respond in kind:
Tim cocks one hip, raises both eyebrows, and purses his
"Janet," Bruce says, "sometimes you're no fun at *all*."
Janet wouldn't nerve-strike Bruce. Certainly not very
effectively. Tim blows out a breath. "Fine. Point to the man
who, apparently, does not require sex this evening."
Bruce smiles with his eyes. "We do have patrol."
Tim snorts and mentally checks himself over. The gaff is
one of the more comfortable ones -- the Girl Wonder might
as well fly tonight. And if it's a slow patrol, he'll almost
certainly have time to come up with an appropriate
response to --
Tim pauses on the way to the hidden elevator to the Cave.
Bruce is holding the ring between his right index finger and
thumb. "Definitely too soon...?"
Tim does not shudder.