When we all lived in the forest
by Te
August 22, 2005

Disclaimers: No one and nothing here is mine.

Spoilers/Timeline: Vague and not-so-vague ones for
storylines stretching from the YJ days up through "Fresh
Blood." Takes place some nebulous time after that.

Summary: Everybody loves a time machine.

Ratings Note/Warnings: Sexual content, as well as content
some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: A sequel to "To take up all my time,"
kicking off a few days after that one ended. Will not
make sense without it.

Acknowledgments: To Zee, Betty, and LC for audiencing,
encouragement, and many helpful suggestions.


He tells himself it makes sense.

He tells himself a lot of things, really, and most of them are
completely true. Certainly, *this* is.

It's Tim, and he's... Kon has known him since he was a few
months old, which means that he's known what it's like to
like somebody -- *need* somebody -- who makes no
sense whatsoever.

Worse, who makes you wonder about your definition of
'sense' so much and so damned *hard* that you just
have to --

You just have to, is all.

So he doesn't ask about any of the things he's not supposed
to ask about -- and he already knew what those things
*were*, because Tim's his best friend and, at this point,
Kon can *read* the big neon signs the guy puts up.

There's a dead father and a dead freaking --

(This is where he wonders, again and again and again, why
he hadn't even *tried* to talk to anyone about Tana. There
was all that stuff that had been going on with Cissie, and it
had been -- fucking *beyond* important, and it had been
easier to just go with it instead of thinking, but he hadn't
brought it up and no one else had, either, and that was
how it went down, even though it makes him feel like the
worst kind of asshole when he catches himself being *this*
close to just leaning in one day and saying to Tim, "I *get*
it, okay?")

There are big neon signs, and he's known about them for --
long enough, and he leaves them alone.

And he still does.

Even though now he knows that maybe it's kind of
fucked-up that he does. That he has. Because other

Because Clark doesn't.

At all.

And he's going to think about that -- he *has* been
thinking about that, it's just that mostly the thoughts have
boiled down to "oh Jesus fuck" and "let Tim do his thing"
and "what the hell did we just do" and "let Tim do his
*thing*." -- sometime after he can just... get past things

'Things.' Fucking Christ.

It's still early enough in the day that Uncle Jon and Aunt
Martha -- there are so many jokes about country living that
stop being funny after you've actually had sex with your
clone/"cousin" -- are asleep. It's early enough in the day to
be *night*, which means that Tim is probably still doing
his *other* thing back in Bludhaven, and...

Sometimes he wonders what it'll be like once he gets more
of Clark's powers. Tim had told him that there was no way
to be sure how many of them he *would* get, but there
are little signs, now, that he's probably not 'done' --
whatever that really means. He can do things like make
his own iced coffee, and he's never going to buy milk
from the Grahams' farm in the next county, because their
cows always smell a little wrong, a little sick.

His hearing isn't much better than it's ever been, though,
so it's not like he can tell what Tim's doing, for sure. (Clark

He might be busting heads, or he might be sparring with
Batgirl in some ridiculously sexy way on a rooftop
somewhere, or he might be...

He might...

See, the thing he hadn't managed to say to Tim after -- all
of that -- was that Tim had failed to say anything remotely
resembling "yeah, not gonna try *that* again," even though
he'd said all of the other (right) good things that let Kon at
least start breathing again and stop wanting to try to use
the TTK to put most of a wall through his own brain -- a
piece at a time, if necessary.

It was fucked-up, it was --

It was *completely* fucked-up, and he's never going to
forget the way Tim had looked when Clark was tonguing
("He likes it, Conner.") him, and touching him like it was
just one more damned thing he had a right to *do*, a
right to *take* --

"You know, Conner, when I was very young -- perhaps
younger than your... chronological age --  I would try to
get my parents to play with me instead of doing their
chores, and one day my father said something like 'those
cows won't milk themselves, son.' I don't think he realized
how disturbing that was."

The first thought in Kon's head is 'at least he's not with Tim
right now.' Most of the next several thoughts revolve
around telling himself not to try to see if he can *smell*
Tim on him, as if Clark couldn't (wouldn't?) scrub himself
sterile in a fraction of the time it had taken him to fly here
from... wherever.


After that, he's pretty much stuck with 'look up, dumbass,'
so he does, and of course Clark's right there.

He's not hovering too high -- just enough off the ground
that if Kon wasn't looking up he'd be staring at the
damned bright red boots -- and he's giving Kon that look
that he's pretty sure everyone else (except maybe Tim,
*now*, only Kon had thought Tim had known *before*,
that it was one of Kon's own neon signs) thinks is just
curious, or maybe concerned.

It's more than that.

"Um. Hey, Clark."

The smile he gets is kind of distractedly pleased, like maybe
Clark's hearing something interesting a few thousand miles
away. "Anyway, for a long time I couldn't *stop* thinking
about the cows, and how they *couldn't* really take care
of themselves. I didn't know much about farming at the
time beyond the little things Ma and Pa would say out loud
to explain why this chore needed to be done, or *when*
that chore needed to be done... so all I could think was
that the wild cows of the world had to be suffering, all the

Kon frowns. "That's... disturbing."

Clark nods, slowly. "Exactly. When I couldn't take it
anymore, I asked Pa about it. He explained it, of course --
after he was done laughing. He was pretty thoughtful about
things, afterward, though. It was always one of the first
chores he did -- or had me do, when I was old enough to
be *careful* enough -- after that."

There's something in Clark's voice that says "pay attention,
Conner," and Kon's pretty much helpless to that tone. It's
just that he's not sure what he's supposed to be paying
attention *to*. "Um..."

"Have you spoken to Tim... recently?"

He feels himself stiffening all over and there's really nothing
he can do about that, either. "How... recently."

Clark lands, and it's been dry enough this summer that it
kicks up a small -- *small* -- cloud of dust. It doesn't get
higher than their knees, and the fact that he's aware of
just how high the dust is reaching is a pretty clear sign
that he's not looking at Clark anymore.

"I mean -- we spoke. On the phone." Why are you asking?
What gives you -- we're not supposed to *talk* about this
other than you being proud and kind of surprised that I
managed to pull someone that --

"He's -- told me -- to stay away from you, Conner."

Kon blinks at the settling dust and -- yeah, he's not a
complete pussy. Yet. He looks up and he can't put a guess
to the look on Clark's face at all. It's a question and it's also
*amusement* and it's also just another Clark-face.

Like maybe it would make more sense if Kon had just a
little more room to fucking breathe.

"I... he told you."

"It was an order, yes."

"Uh... well. Jesus, Clark, it's your house --"

"And yours."

That, at least, is the same as ever. A little reminder that
Kon could stop acting like he'd been kidnapped by, like,
half-clone-slavers any day now, and really, didn't Kon
understand *family*? It makes him want to blush, and
he knows he probably is. He's just also still *waiting*.

Clark sighs at him pretty much exactly like Kon's History
teacher. And English teacher. "He... seems to feel that
I'm... less than a good influence on you."

You make me blink like some human with a face full of
flash-bangs and also we had really fucked-up sex, Clark.
He isn't saying it, though he kind of hopes his expression

"I wanted to know... your thoughts."

"You really don't," and Kon bites his lip but it's seriously
already too late.

It's completely different when Clark raises an eyebrow at
you than when Tim does, and it doesn't have a damned
thing to do with the fact that Clark doesn't have a mask

"Look, I... Tim and I talked, yeah, but..." See, this is really
the kind of thing Tim could've said something about
yesterday or the day before. Sure, they were just on the
phone, but... 'talked to C, told him to back off' would've
absolutely *worked*.

Sometimes it seems like the person Kon is inside his own
head has been trying to explain things like that to the
Tim who just isn't there for the better part of forever.
And Clark is just *looking* at him, and Kon swallows
and --

Flushes, again. He can feel it.

And he knows Clark can, too. "Conner," he says, and he's
reaching out slowly even though he doesn't have to, even
though he could have Kon down or back or *bent* or
however the hell he wants in the time it takes Kon to back
off a step and barely manage to avoid stumbling.

"Look, I -- Clark. He's... you know. You know Tim." He
does. He *does*. "He can be... really protective."

And there it is, Clark's hand on his shoulder. Heavy and
warm and -- not pushing. Not even a little.

Kon swallows and tries to decide whether it's better to stare
at the floor of the barn or to let Clark *see* whatever
fucked-up expression is on his own face, as opposed to
just letting him know it's there. Or -- there's no 'let' about
it. Not really.

"And he thinks you need to be protected from me?"

And the thing is... that probably shouldn't be as hilarious as
it is. He's almost *sure* of it, but he's still laughing, even
when the hand on his shoulder moves to his chin and --
there's the push.

He looks up and Clark's staring at him -- through him,
whatever -- like *he's* the giant no-sense-making
superfreak in this barn.

In this damned *life*. "Clark --"

"I'm inclined to follow Tim's... instructions. I have no doubt
whatsoever that he'd find some ingeniously terrible way
to back up the implicit threat. I'm just... confused, I

It's probably stupid that Kon's *this* aware of how
swallowing makes his Adam's apple bob just a few fucking
centimeters away from the tips of Clark's fingers. He
(probably completely fails to) covers it with a cough, glad
that Clark's not close enough (yet) for Kon to accidentally
spit on him or anything. "You don't know why he...

"You do?"

"We... I... we talked, Clark." Every time he moves his jaw,
he pushes against Clark's hand. Every fucking time. "We...
I..." He swallows, and this is... this is so fucking --

"Tell me, Conner," Clark says, voice so *gentle*, and the
thing is...

One of the things Kon never said to Tim is that sometimes
it seems like it would be *easier* to just be blowing Clark
all the time, like it would make more *sense*. And even
though he knows -- for *sure* -- that that's anything but
true... it still feels like maybe it could be.


Kon blows out a breath -- too fucking *hard* -- but Clark
doesn't retreat at all, even though Kon's breath probably
smells like stale coffee and whatever else he'd eaten last
night. "I... I wasn't. Comfortable," Kon says, and gives up
and lets himself squeeze his eyes shut just for a second.
Just a little --

"That does seem to match Tim's... implications. But
Conner...?" And Clark turns his hand enough that he's
*cupping* Kon's jaw.

"I... yeah?" It's stupid to keep his eyes shut, so he

"I wish you would believe that you *could* just talk to me.
I understand how... intense sexuality can be. Especially
when it's complicated by..." And Clark's smile is totally
rueful and honest and Kon can't deal. "Species concerns."

Species concerns. Right. Because it's totally and completely
the fact that they both had sex with the same *human*
that's making this all fucked-up, as opposed to --

"If you *do* want to talk, Conner --"

"I know. You're here. I mean... well. I know."

Clark nods, and smiles at him *again*, and... backs off.

And it's just... it's not like they're joined at the -- it's not like
they're constantly really *close*, it's just that when Clark
*does* back off, it usually means he's on his way up into
the sky and gone. As opposed to just...

Kon blinks, and watches Clark give him that really
*patient* look, and... gets it. Kon was uncomfortable --
fucking *understatement* -- with the sex, Tim gave an
order (or did he make a fucking *deal*?), and now Clark
is... over there.


"Okay, Conner?"

"Yeah, I... yeah. Uh." Maybe one of the cows will kick him
in the head if he waits until five-*thirty* to do the milking
and can drop his aura in time to make it count.

Clark smiles -- *again* -- and offers his hand, and Kon
watches his own get not-quite-swallowed-up and manages
to come up with a half-assed squeeze when Clark shakes
his hand.

And *then* Clark leaves, and it's just...

He doesn't know what it means that it's almost (totally)
worse now. He just knows that it is.

Because... because, apparently, Clark had been hitting on
him *all along*, and now he isn't.

Because he has someone else to hit on now.

Kon watches Clark fly away until he can't see him anymore,
and then until he can almost tell himself that he's out of

And then he does his chores.


It's Friday, and he can't smell anything on Tim but armor
and a few hints of the shower he must've taken right before
suiting up. Did he even go to school anymore?

There's a blanket folded on the couch really neatly and --
yeah, a pillow.

He can see it as clear as anything, even before he walks to
the bedroom and confirms to his own eyes that the bed
hasn't been slept in. He'd come in from patrol, crashed on
the couch, and now it's the weekend and time for him to
be a Titan.

It makes something seize up a little in Kon's stomach, even
more than the fact that he also can't stop himself from
looking for -- signs.


And it's not like he knows what he's looking for. It's not
like Clark would've pissed in the corners of Tim's freakily
*blank* living room or anything, but, well. Maybe there'd
be a freaking almanac on the bookshelves or something.
Maybe some of the blankets in the closet where he knows
Tim keeps his linens and stuff will be *plaid*.

"What is it?"

Kon snorts at himself and shakes his head. "Nothing, man.
I swear."

When he looks up, Tim is frowning at him in *exactly* that
way which Kon knows means 'I'm going to figure out
everything that's in your head whether you want me to or
not,' and it's a look that used to be a lot more fucking

Now it's just... It's just Tim, and it's so easy to get close --
two steps, pause for Tim to stop looking like he's trying to
figure out the best move to take Kon out, one more and
right... there.

Tim's face is warm under Kon's palms and his mask is
smooth and perfect under Kon's fingertips and his mouth
is small and hard and fucking *hot*.

"Are you trying to distract me?"

"Really just kissing, man. I'll tell you..." Anything,
everything, just don't -- "Give me a minute, okay?"

Tim takes that to mean 'curl fingers around the backs of
Kon's ears and kiss really hard,' which works pretty much
exactly as well for Kon as it always does. Everything...
everything on Tim is hard. His mouth, his arms, his
stomach, his legs. His damned *hair*.

It's hard not to feel just normal when he's kissing Tim,
even though if he's not careful -- and Tim isn't, either --
he could hurt him. Like -- badly. It still *feels* safe, and...
more than that.

"Kon, I..."

Terminal emotional stutter and all. "I'm worried about you.

And Tim's *really* hard everywhere now -- including the
look on his face.

Kon puts his hands up -- attack of the kid in red and green
tights, take about nine million and three -- and smiles a
little. "I'm not -- I'm not trying to get you to say anything
you don't want to. I know --" They don't work like that.
Not for the big stuff. "I just..." Kon nods back toward the
bedroom. "I know you passed out on your damned couch
last night -- this morning -- again, man. I *also* know you
have a damned bed."

The look fades into a confused little frown -- just a little
more than a negative twitch of the mouth. "That's... all?"

No. No. Really, no. He keeps the smile on his face by force
of fucking will. "I was programmed by some of the best
minds in Metropolis, Rob. Three out of four psycho
geneticists agree that beds are for freaking sleeping."

That gets him a much better twitch. "And couches...?"

"TV watching, dinner eating, and some make out


The trick with Tim is to ignore the armor -- all of it. Except
for the cape, and the fact that it's laying back over Tim's
shoulders now. It's not that all you can see is armor, it's
that you can see that the only thing covering Tim *is*
armor. "Yeah. *Sessions*."

"This is where I remind you that we'll be late for the team
meeting if we don't leave in fifteen minutes.

There's a voice in Kon's mind which is telling him how easy
this is, how nothing should ever feel this easy with a guy
who'd ever think it was a good idea to have a threesome
with him and *Clark*, that it can't be -- because what the
hell other insane ideas is he giving Tim just by *going*
with this?

The thing is -- everything *about* Tim makes sense to
him, even the parts which hurt his head and everything
else. Because a Tim who's too buttoned up and closed
down to do or say much of anything except when he's
having sex with Kon is also a Tim who, well, doesn't
put insane ideas in Kon's head.

And a Tim who bends one leg over the back of the couch
and the other up to his chest is -- is --

"Jesus, yeah --"

Is only, technically, stripping out of his boots, one at a
time, but boots lead to shorts lead to tights lead to Tim
leaving the jock on -- and everything above the waist,
and wham, instant porn movie, just for him. (Except --)

Especially since he's *seen* the old Robin suits and
knows if Tim's jock was, like, green or something -- and
probably if he wasn't feeling himself *up* through it
and staring at Kon through the blank white-out lenses
and --

There's a thought there. There's a *lot* of thought there,
but none of the thoughts are any better than the one that
lets Kon bite his way up Tim's calves and thighs until he
can smell soap and Tim and *Tim*.

Tim, who still has the damned *gauntlets* on, rubbing at
Kon's ears and hair and the back of his neck, rubbing and
teasing and *teasing* until he finally stops and pulls Kon

This is where being super comes right back to mind, where
it's a *good* thing, because he can shove his face right up
against Tim's jock and hold it in place until Tim's
whimpering for him and kind of working his hips in this
rough little grind which just feels like *sex*, because Kon's
not going to have to breathe until long after Tim's gonna
have to come.

"Kon -- oh -- *God* --"

The good stutter, the I-can't-really-breathe-or-talk-just-suck
-me-*off* stutter, and Kon pulls back enough to get the
jock out of his damned way and goes down, fast and hard
and sloppy.

Tim's not sweaty enough to make it really worth taking his
time to make it *really* sloppy, and anyway they're on --

He doesn't give a fuck about the schedule. He -- he *can't*,
because Tim's gauntlets are digging in and scraping Kon's
scalp (he is never letting his hair grow in again, ever), and
Tim's hips are pumping and his thighs are flexing under
Kon's hands and he can hold them down, or he can hold
Tim's hips still but he could also just pull off and fly away,
and all of the above is fucking stupid and also a lie.

He can't do anything but swallow Tim down and suck and
let his mouth get fucked (Tim's never made him feel raw
unless he had the control to keep his aura down) and
grind his own dick against the couch in a promise he fully
intends to keep.

"Oh -- oh fuck -- *Kon* --"

Just that, just *that*, and then it's just noise for a few
seconds (fucking beautiful forever) and then it's just
silence for fucking *ever*, shaking-flexing-*fucking*
silence and Tim is coming right down his throat.

Kon's good at this, and he knows exactly how to only
swallow a *little* and let the rest stay in his mouth and
spill back out over Tim's dick for him to lick it off slow
until Tim whimpers and --


He never pushes Kon away. Ever. Even though it hurts.
Even though -- fuck, Kon *knows* it hurts, because Tim's
thighs are shaking in a whole different way now and so are
his fingers in the gauntlets.

Kon licks slow until he can't stand it anymore and then
crawls up over Tim and kisses him, instead. Through the
shaking, through the tension, right up through where Tim
relaxes, where he gives it up and wraps his long, bare legs
around Kon and pulls him in close.

"Yeah, I... what do you want, man? What should I do?"

Tim kind of sighs against his mouth, and that's... that's
another few kisses right there, and at least a little
grinding until he remembers that he's still in jeans and
Tim's really *not*.

He pulls back -- Tim bites his lip.

He kisses Tim again, pulls back, and shoves his jeans and
boxer briefs down far enough that he can *move* against
Tim without, like, damaging him for the damned weekend.

"So... where was I?"

Tim smiles, close enough that Kon can feel it on his
bottom lip and chin. "You were asking me what I wanted."

Kon rubs his face against the smile until Tim opens his
mouth wide enough that Kon can kind of scrape Tim's
teeth against his chin.

"Kon," Tim says, and... Jesus. He'd never really thought of
how his name was kind of a *bite* before.

"Yeah. I was -- I am -- asking."

"I want you to fuck me, Kon. Just --"

"Oh *God*, yeah --"

" -- not here."

The thing is, Kon's pretty sure there's something there he
really ought to respond to with more than how he's kind
of kissing the hell out of Tim and grabbing the arm of the
couch to either side of Tim's head much too hard and also
rocking against Tim's long, lean thigh. It's just that none
of the words he's pretty sure (also) that he knows are
coming out of his mouth other than "God, I -- anytime,
anywhere, man --"

Tim strokes behind Kon's ears with his thumbs -- rough,
armor, *green* -- and presses *down* --

"Jesus --"

Actually kind of hard. Pressure point. Right, stopping.
"What...? I -- oh. Not here."

"Not here," Tim says again, and the lenses on his mask
are down and the smile is gone, but he looks open and
hungry and --

"Not... here? You mean on the bed...?"

Tim closes his eyes for a second, just long enough for Kon
to want them open again right now and -- "Not this...

Which, well... why? Part of him thinks that's maybe an
important question, but it's not a part which is connected
to his dick and the whole 'fuck Tim right now' thing. So.

"The Tower?"

And it's even weirder that it's a *question* as opposed to
a plan, but... "Sure, okay, I mean... wanna leave now? I
mean -- let's go now. I mean... damn, Tim do you have
any idea --"

"After I get you off," Tim says, and the smile is back on his
face again, small and so damned perfect as he sits up and
pushes Kon back to balance on his knees.

"Jesus --"

And he's getting over Tim jerking him off with the gauntlets
on pretty much never. Ever.

"Fuck -- *fuck*, Christ, so fucking *rough* --"


"Yeah, I --



They're twenty minutes late and pull PR duty as a
punishment. Well, if it was just him, the punishment would
probably be "write a twelve thousand word essay on the
tactical importance of Golden Eagle's skills and training to
the Titans of whenever the hell, and also include footnotes
and a bibliography," but since it's Tim, too, and since Tim
hadn't bothered to make up a perfectly reasonable and
believable excuse about how Bludhaven would've been
sucked into space or something if he hadn't been there...

Tonight, that boils down to making Kon put one of Vic's
old, tailored-for-a-body-that-doesn't-exist-anymore jacket
on over his t-shirt, letting Krypto lick his boots until
they're disgusting in a different way, and attending some
damned political fundraiser thing with...

"Who are you, exactly?"

"Robin," Tim says, and smiles. He's got a blond wig on
that actually *does* look more natural than his actual
hair, he'd found time to *bleach* his damned eyebrows,
Kon had no idea Tim even *had* dress clothes at the
Tower, and also his sunglasses are a weird color between
beige and pink that...

Probably makes perfect sense for the crowd. Jesus. "So I'm
calling you 'Rob' all night?"

Tim shrugs and gives him a look over his glass -- the
mandatory one and only -- of champagne. "You could start
making up names for me whenever people are nearby. It
would probably be an interesting exercise."

Kon snorts. "I'm thinking you'd make a great Michael Hunt.
Or maybe a *Dick*."

Tim doesn't really laugh so much as do that thing where he
sticks his tongue out a little bit in a way that makes it
really *clear* that he's trying not to laugh.

Score one for the guy leaving alien puppy spit all over a
damned ballroom.

It isn't too bad, as these things go. They let themselves get
lectured by the woman from the Public Works department,
and Kon doesn't mention how the bills would be a lot higher
if they *hadn't* been there to use a few buildings to aid in
supervillain ass-kicking, and the lecture goes on long
enough that Tim actually *does* mention how the
incidents put SF right up at the top of the list for funding
relief under some new fed program Kon has never heard
of, and also whips out a list of phone numbers for her to
call out of nowhere, and Kon gets them drinks.

The police commissioner introduces them to about six
hundred different people, asks Robin if he isn't supposed
to have black hair, nearly asks if he's supposed to be a
girl -- just enough that everybody heard the not-question --
and Kon replaces Tim's mandatory sparkling grape juice
with a completely out of bounds scotch.

Tim lets him, and the commissioner lady actually seems to
take a hint and switches to talking about some guy named
Gordon who they apparently both knew when he worked in

Kon gets the canapés and pronounces the word 'can-apes'
just loud enough for Tim to hear him until Tim deliberately
drops one of the meat ones on Kon's left boot, pretty much
guaranteeing that this pair will be dog chow whenever he
forgets to watch his damned closet.

Later, there are speeches and Kon says something awkward
about Titans, city thanks, legacy, thanks to the city,
friendship. It's the same thing as always, and he's heard
Kory and Vic give it enough times that he thinks he does a
pretty damned good job at faking it.

Tim spends the whole time staring at the room from just
behind Kon and to his left, though, so it's a pretty fair bet
that anyone who thought Kon sucked was cowed into

He catches himself thinking about cows, catches himself
thinking about Smallville, catches himself thinking about
Clark, and also does a damned good job of not setting
fire to the mayoral aide who keeps trying to grab Tim's
ass and getting a handful of jacket.

And then it's over, finally, and Kon's got about five minutes
to be bitter for missing whatever the hell he *had* missed
tonight at the Tower -- it could've been *cleaning* and it
would've been better -- before they're far enough away
from pretty much everyone for Tim to slip an arm around
his waist and give him that 'let's go' squeeze.

He's flying before he even thinks about it, shifting to keep
Tim braced comfortably against his side, and -- he stops.

"Yes, Kon?"

"Uh... isn't this..." Kon waves a hand between them.
"Kinda... public?"

"That Superboy likes blonds who wear their sunglasses at

Dry, dry, fucking dry and Kon does *not* dump Tim into
the Bay, and he also doesn't bother with the entrances to
the Tower. Any of them.

There's something just *right* about flying them into Tim's
room, even beyond the fact that Tim is stripping before
Kon even lets him go.

"Oh, *yeah* --"


Kon waits, listens to see if he can make out anyone moving
outside Tim's door, waits, watches Tim keep stripping --
and, like, *folding* -- "Why am I waiting?"

Tim doesn't really turn toward him so much as give him a
look that's narrow and *hot*. "I need my suit."

"You... why?"

"Kink purposes. Bear with me."

Kon... really can't say no to that. He moves to Tim's bed,
instead, eyeing it critically before just using the TTK to rip
everything but the bottom sheet off the bed, since the
alternative is pretty much just a mess waiting to happen.
More of a mess and -- "Tim, did you really -- I mean, do
you really want me to --"

And he was absolutely going to finish that sentence, but
Tim's back in the jock, the shirt, and the tunic, and it
makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but Kon has faith
that it will.

Sometime after he stops feeling Tim's ass up and tugging
a little at the elastic and -- "Wait, is this the same one you
were wearing earlier?"

Tim doesn't say anything, just kind of twitches a smile at
him and pulls back enough so that he can get Kon's hand
between them and move it over his chest armor until Kon
can feel --

"This is the one I *came* on? You -- I didn't even know
you brought this *with* you, man --"


And the thing is, sometimes he can't even breathe.
Sometimes he just --

There was a part of him which honestly believed that he
was doing this, giving up whatever he might have had with
Cassie, just because Tim had crawled into his bed one
night and completely failed to say anything but 'I need
you,' once, *after* he'd sucked Kon off and about five
minutes before Kon's brain came back online.

Because he'd *gotten* it, or thought he had. This was
something they were going to do because they were friends,
and because Tim's entire fucking world had gone down the
toilet and it was easier to imagine just being there for Tim,
for *anything*, than it was to imagine anything else.

Except it wasn't that at all -- not for him, and even when
he's not sure Tim *gets* that, *he* can't help but get it.
Every single damned time he does something just so...

And how would he even *say* that to anyone? 'My sort of
mostly boyfriend saves clothes I came on to wear again
before washing, and that means it's real.'

Who would he even say it *to*?

So he just stands there and tries to remember how to make
his damned involuntary system function until Tim frowns at
him and starts to back off even more, and --

"Kon, I --"

"No, just --"

It's also easier than anything else just to kiss Tim, just to --
fucking *hold* him, and kiss him all over, everywhere he
can reach skin and everywhere he can't, because he has

Because Tim's right there and just --

"God, Kon, I -- I love -- *oh* --"

And it's also, also easier to kiss Tim again than to listen to
him stutter.


He's got a water bottle in his hand, and it's cold, because
every room in the Tower has a stocked mini-fridge with
favorites and also necessities, depending on the occupant's
body chemistry.

It's weird that the stuff in Tim's fridge is the most
unrecognizable of any of the other Titans -- it may be weird
that Kory's is full of about thirty kinds of mustard, but it's
still *mustard* -- but Kon knows intellectually that it's all
terrifyingly healthy. And at least there's still water.

So he's got water, and he's...

Well, he's not really drinking it so much as staring at it to
avoid looking at Tim, but... he's got water.

And he's not...

Tim had told him to stay. He hasn't said anything else, yet,
but he still... Kon's staying.

And it's good that it's quiet, because that means he can
really start to *think* about all of this in more than just
little flashes that are all jumbled together so badly --

Tim's still-bleached eyebrows disappearing into his face
and making him look even more open than *open* when
Kon was fingering him --

That it was *stretching*, not fingering --

That the tunic was still on, even though Kon had rucked up
the sleeves of the undershirt in order to just *smell* Tim
better, taste him with everything but his tongue until he
*had* to --

That Tim was too wiped, too --

That Tim was smiling at him, sleepy and dazed-looking
and incredible when Kon took the tunic off and pulled Tim
up for long enough to get rid of his t-shirt --

That he'd kissed him through the damned tunic, again and
again, bitten down and tasted fabric and felt *armor*
when he came inside --

*Inside* --

And he's not thinking, not really. He can't. Because he tries
to think about the *bruises* on Tim's chest and his mind
runs the hell away to the sex, and he tries to focus on the
sex and his mind won't let him fucking forget --

They aren't bruises. They're *suck* marks. All along Tim's
collarbone -- *neatly* -- and around his nipples.

And the thing is, it totally doesn't matter that they both
know -- *know* -- that Tim really had meant the whole
leaving-the-tunic-on thing for Kon, as opposed to just
keep him from -- from *knowing*.

It's just that they also both know that the reason why he'd
kept the tunic on back in Bludhaven had nothing
whatsoever to *do* with Kon. Don't they?

"Kon --"

"It was Clark... right?" For about a half a second, he's really
waiting for Tim to lay into him, because it's a stupid
question for about a million reasons, but all he says is,


Which means that Kon needs to come up with something
else to say. Or Tim does. "What were you gonna say?"

"I'm not sure, actually," Tim says, and Kon gives up on
staring at the water bottle and stares back at the bed,
instead. At Tim, who's still naked, and staring at his own
hands, and still *naked*...

The sheets are flying from the floor toward Tim's feet
before he can stop himself. He holds them near the foot
of the bed and grits his teeth a little. "Did you... are you

Tim looks at him, eyes flat and... every damned thing so
hard. "Would you prefer it if I was?"

"Dammit, Tim --"

"Serious question."

And Kon thinks about being mad about *just* that for a
while -- it would probably be easier -- but he...

It makes sense, dammit. Because Tim probably isn't cold at
all, and he's used to being naked around fucking
*Batman*, because they're all freaks in a damned *Cave*,
and because he'd totally want to *know* if Kon wanted
him to cover up, because it would probably let him draw
some insane wrong damned conclusion --

"No," he finally manages to say, scrubbing his hand back
over his hair and beating himself in the damned head with
the water bottle and -- he crushes it into a big splash and
a little plastic ball and it isn't enough. Not by a long road.

Kon lets the sheets fall and breathes, and breathes, and
goes back to the bed.

"No," he says again, and clenches his hands into fists until
they stop shaking, and then covers Tim's shoulders with
them. Bony, smooth where they aren't scarred. Muscled
where they're not bony.

"Kon, you. I..."

"What," Kon says, and focuses on Tim's throat, on the
way Tim is swallowing. He concentrates, and he can see
the blood pumping in Tim's clear, healthy veins and
arteries and capillaries (he does fucking great on the
dissections, these days), and he can see it start to pump

"You don't have to. You don't... I know --"

"*What* do you know, Tim?"

And it wasn't loud or anything -- he's almost sure he'd be
able to tell -- but there's a little stutter in the rhythm of
Tim's circulation and then it's even faster. And just...

God, no. He squeezes Tim's shoulders and strokes down
his arms and feels goose-pimples rising up where he's
passed and he closes his eyes and when he opens them
it's just the outside of Tim again. Scarred and smooth and
only bruised where Kon's not looking. "What do you

Another swallow. "I know you don't want to touch me

He's squeezing too hard. He *knows* he's squeezing too
hard, but he can't not and Tim doesn't make a damned
sound, and --

"I just. I know. And it's... I should've..." Another swallow,
and another, and it feels like it's unfair to watch Tim like
this, because even without switching the X-ray vision back
on, Tim's pulse is fast and thudding and obvious. He likes
to kiss Tim there, and just hold his *mouth* there, and --

"Tim, could you just... I mean. You're *wrong*, first of all,

"Kon --"

"You're fucking *wrong*, Tim, I just -- I want to know
*why*, okay?" And it's hard to look up into Tim's eyes,
because he doesn't know what would be bad to see
there and what would be good, but he does it anyway.

Tim's looking at him like Kon had just asked him to explain
the concept of "blue" to a blind person, and dammit that
makes sense, too.

Of course it does, because it's Tim, and it's -- "You told me
he wasn't even your friend, so what the fuck *is* he?"

Once, not all that long ago, in a completely fucking
different conversation, Kon had said something *just* like

And Tim had said, 'between forty-nine and fifty-three
percent of your genetic makeup,' and gave him one of
those smug I-made-a-Tim-joke-which-is-very-funny-in
-my-world smiles, and Kon hadn't kissed him then because
it wasn't like that between them, yet, but he'd wished it

Now, Tim just says "I don't know," and it's flat and out
there and Kon would totally say something ass-stupid like
'what does he have that I don't?' if only he could be sure
that Tim would say 'between forty-seven and fifty-one
percent of your DNA' and smile like that again.

But he can't be sure, so he doesn't say it, and he doesn't
really have any damned thing to replace it with, nothing
good or smart.

There's this space between 'Tim is screwing Clark' and 'it
makes perfect sense, because Tim is exactly that kind of
freak and Clark is Clark' that Kon really needs to fill in
before he...

He doesn't even know. Which is kind of pathetic, but there
it is.

And all he can figure out how to say is, "does it make it
better for you in some way?" And he doesn't even add
'that I can't,' but it still makes Tim stare down at his own
hands again, and when *Kon* looks down, he just gets
caught on those bruises.

He can see it. He can see Clark *doing* it, and how he'd
be so damned careful because Tim is Tim and human and
Robin, and how all the bruises were still on purpose,
whether or not *Clark* thought they were.

Because... because.

And it's probably fucked-up that all Kon can figure out how
to do, right now, is pull Tim close until he can wedge a
thigh between Tim's own and hold on, but it's still...

Everywhere Tim is bony and tensed up and fucking
*difficult* is somewhere he can *feel* Tim, and know
he's there, and nowhere else.

"This is why you wanted me to... to fuck you."

"I wanted you... to be first," Tim says, and breathes out
against Kon's shoulder.

He wants Clark to be *second*. "This is why you didn't
want to do it in your own... your *place* --"

"It's not my home, Kon, I don't have --"

"Fucking -- fucking *tell* me. It's because of him. It's
because you had sex with *him* there."

"Yes," Tim says.

Is it why you don't sleep in your bed?

He doesn't know if he wants an answer to that or not, so
maybe he can just avoid asking the question. And he
feels... warm, or something, and he has no idea why
until he realizes that he's stroking Tim's back, and Tim's
just letting him --

No. Tim's pushing back against him on every down-stroke,
even though he's got his face turned away from Kon's and
pressed against Kon's shoulder tight enough that Kon can
feel the tension in his jaw. This is something Tim *wants*.
"Tim --"

"Don't stop -- I mean. I -- fuck, Kon, I don't --"

And maybe it's still the same, in some really fucked and
*fucked-up* way, because Tim breathes when Kon
squeezes him and Tim just wants him to touch him,
wants Kon to *want* to touch him, and it's not just sex,
even though the only thing Kon can be remotely sure of
is a damned come stain on one of Tim's spare uniforms.

But if he has to have this fucking conversation -- and he
really does, because that's just their damned *lives* --
then it's better to do it this close. It has to be.

"Is it..."

Tim exhales, long and a little loud, but he doesn't tense
up or anything else.

"Is this why you told Clark to... back off?"

"You... you shouldn't be there. In his house. Where he
can -- anytime --"

"But you *should*?" And that *is* too loud, because it's
right into the too-long hair above Tim's ear, but *fuck*
this. "What the hell does he *give* you, Tim? Can't you
at least tell me *that*?"

And Tim doesn't say anything for a long fucking time, and
when he does it's not really words. Just this quiet,
*old*-sounding laugh, and now that Kon's capable of
paying attention, he can feel the way the muscles in
Tim's arms are just kind of working against where Kon
has *his* arms wrapped around them.

When he looks down, he can see Tim twisting and pulling
at the bottom sheet. Not wildly or anything, not crazy or
anything, just once, and again, and again. He bets he
could pick out the rhythm if it wouldn't drive him crazy.
"Tim --"

"Her name was Stephanie Brown," Tim says, in a quiet
voice. "Spoiler. Robin... Robin. And I knew that, because
she was my girlfriend, but she didn't know my name,
because I was Robin, and because Batman refused to...
I couldn't risk the secret. You... you remember."

Kon swallows. "I... yeah."

"And she was in Gotham when we were in Happy Harbor,
and you were S.B. and Bart was -- and Cissie had never
tried to kill a man, and I'd never killed anyone -- whether
or not they got revived later --"

"Jesus -- Jesus fucking Christ --"

"And I kept wondering if I should offer Cassie any of my
wigs, or if she'd think I was... I don't know, being smug
or something. And Secret was Suzie. And Nightwing had
never killed anyone, either, and Batman was just... he
drove me crazy, you know?" Another one of those
fucking *laughs*.

"I... I'm listening."

"He drove me crazy, but that's just because he was *right*
all the time, so it was all... I don't know. Oracle lived in
Gotham, and she was my friend, too. And Huntress, even
though she wasn't supposed to be. Batgirl had never
killed anyone, either. Not that we knew about, anyway."
The thing about Tim's voice is that it isn't just quiet, it's...
steady and low and --

And it makes everything he's saying just sink in deeper, or
harder, or something. Everything he shouldn't have known
in the first place, because -- because, *Batgirl*.

"My mother was already dead, but my step-mother was
friendly and not institutionalized and my father. My father
still thought. My father... I don't know, Kon. I don't..."

Kon waits, and reminds himself to keep stroking, because
it's what Tim wants, and because this is the first time...

He'd *known* a lot of that stuff, but nothing like all of it,
and it's just a fucking sick fact of life that the only reason
he knows a lot of what he *does* is because Clark knows
exactly who Batman is, and that made secrets pointless.
Even big ones.

So he *waits*, but Tim just keeps not saying anything, and
he can't not hear the sound the sheet makes between
Tim's fingers, and he -- he can't. He fucking can't. "I just...
where does *Clark* come into that? Where *did* he?"

The sheet-sounds stop.

Kon -- Kon fucking waits.

"He didn't. At all, really. He was... Batman's ally and
Nightwing's other mentor and he kept trying to be my
friend, but he wasn't. He was just..." Tim's jaw tightens
against him, and, after another moment, he finally pulls
back enough to look at Kon again.

His face is dry and his eyes are clear and --

"He didn't," Tim says, again, and it's supposed to be an

Kon knows it is.


It's Saturday morning, Kon's on the roof, and he's all set
and ready to cope when the door bangs open. It's just
that it takes him too long to remember that the only time
Tim bangs open a door is when he's using explosives, and
he's not set and ready to cope with Cassie at all.

Just... not even remotely.

"Cassie, I... hi?"

She doesn't say anything, which is... just exactly as fair as
it's been for the last couple of weekends with her pretty
much only talking to him when she was telling him to duck
or get out of the way of her lasso or something. Work.

She's standing next to him, though, and that *feels* like
some kind of improvement, even though the only thing
she's looking at is the Bay. It's cool enough up here that
he can feel the heat from the lasso on her hip, and the
slightly lesser heat from her body.

He -- he can't stop thinking, at all, about how she didn't
kiss anything like Tim. Softer mouth, harder... everything
else. Stronger.

Even though the expression on her face makes it really
hard to imagine her kissing anyone at all.

Kon stares out at the Bay and catches himself starting to
hover a little and stops. If Cassie wants them to fly,
she'll... well, maybe she'll gesture or something, and
 anyway, he can wait.

"I miss flying with you." Or maybe he can just let his
stupid fucking mouth fall open. "I mean... shit."

Cassie snorts humorlessly and shakes her head, just hard
enough that her ponytail does that thing where it curves
into something like an 's' for a second.

"Yeah, I'll shut up."

"No, you won't, Conner. We should. We didn't really *talk*
before so much as you talked and I -- I fucking *cried*."

Kon bites his lip and stares down at the teeth marks on
his right boot. "Okay."

"You were never my friend."

"Shit, Cassie --"

"No, just -- Cissie was my friend, and Greta and Anita were
*our* friends. My other friends were at school, until I
'came out,' anyway, and I always wondered if Tim..." She
snorts again and stops. "You were the guy I had this giant
crush on, and every time I'd start to think you didn't
deserve it, and that Cissie was lucky that she was at least
hot for *Robin*, you'd do something, or say something,
and just..."

Kon keeps staring down.

"You know, it took her a while, and I'm not sure if she ever
told anyone else -- other than Robin, or maybe he just
*knew* -- but one day Cissie told me what you did for her
after Dr. Money was killed, and I just... I was the worst
best friend in the world that day, because I knew Cissie
needed me to be thinking about her, but all I was
thinking -- all I *could* think -- was that you probably
wouldn't have been there if you didn't want to get into her
pants, and that you were still, *still* so fucking awesome
and brave and *good* --"

"I didn't, I just --"

"Shut up. Just -- " Cassie looks at him, just for a minute,
and there's a line between her eyebrows that the goggles
would've covered, or maybe the bangs on her awful wig.

Kon nods, and shoves his hands into his pockets to keep
from balling them into useless fists.

"So she was talking, and she was crying, and I had my
back to this old stupid poster of you -- Jesus, you used to
wear *garters*, you dumbass -- and I couldn't stop telling
myself that I could feel you looking, feel you looking at
me, and maybe taking a moment to see me without *my*
dumbass old uniform, but also just seeing Cissie, and how
you hadn't made it better, and you would've wanted..."

Kon listens to her trail off and thinks about saying
something about how he didn't know, how the only
people who really did know were the girls, and Greta
(was still Suzie) only cared about Tim (Robin) anyway,
and -- he keeps his damned mouth shut.

"Look, I don't even know why I'm saying all of this. Just
that you're still... you're always going to be that boy who
I couldn't stop fucking -- fucking *loving*, no matter what
an asshole you were, no matter how *stupid* you were,
because you couldn't fucking stop being *good*, and
brave, and so..."

For a second, Kon thinks she's going to reach out, and he
wants to hug her so fucking bad he can already *feel*
her, even though they'd never really done much hugging
without kissing, and it wouldn't be like that at all. But --

Her hand stops, and drifts down to her lasso, and strokes.
"You're still that same guy, Conner, even if you have a
new name every time I turn around, even though Tim's
always been your friend and I never was. Because
maybe..." When she laughs this time, it comes out a little
like crying.

But she lets go of her lasso and holds up her hand in a
'stop' gesture before Kon can even take a step. "Cassie,
please, you --"

"Maybe it was my fault, you know? My fault, *too*.
Because you can't really be friends with the person who
wants you to whisper sweet fucking nothings in her ear,
and hold her, and... and look at her the way you never did
until I grew *tits*. Jesus, Conner. You know what's the
worst part?"

"Tell me."

"The *worst* part is that you were totally friends with
Cissie, and all those girls back at Cadmus -- I paid
*attention* -- and you were probably friends with Tim's
poor dead girlfriend, too, for all I know. And *because*
of that, all of them had a better chance with you than I
ever did. Than I ever could have, because..." She looks
at him again, and it's steady this time.

There *are* tears in her eyes, and Kon gives up and balls
his hands into fists even though he's just ripping up the
pockets in another pair of jeans.

"Because I never wanted to *be* your friend, Conner. And
I regret that now, I really fucking do, but it's not for any
of the right reasons.

"It's just because I can *smell* Tim when I walk past your
room here, sometimes, and you've left the door open. And
I can smell you on Tim. And I'm jealous, and angry, and I
hate every single person you ever wanted more than me,
and I'm pretty sure that makes me a bad person and I
don't *care*, okay? I don't. Fucking. Care."

Kon breathes, and just... "I don't. I don't know what to say,

She laughs again, short and sharp like something that
should be making her throat bleed from the inside. "Well,
that makes us even, I guess, Conner. Because I'm pretty
sure anything you *did* say would just make me want to
beat the shit out of you."

"I... yeah. Cassie, just --"

"No. No just. No -- " Cassie lifts off, a little, and stares out
at the Bay for a long moment before looking back at him.
"Leave it there for now, okay? Maybe we'll be really adult
and cool and talk about this stuff again, sometime.
Maybe -- heh -- maybe we'll even be friends one day, and
I'll be the person you can't not be perfect and brave and
cool for."

"You have to believe I wanted --"

She glares and the lasso crackles under her hand, enough
that Kon can feel every hair on his scalp try to rise. "I
don't *have* to believe anything from the teammate
who's not my friend, Conner, so just *leave* it.

"Because, for now? It feels really good to be *even* with
you for something. For once."

And then she takes off, and Conner watches until she's a
tiny red dot in the west, and until she's gone.

She's got her comm in her ear. She'll be back when...

When the team needs her.

And the thing is, it wasn't really a lie that he didn't know
what to say to her, it's just that it wasn't completely true,
either. He would've liked to say something about how he
used to have a lot of friends, but that the world -- their
world -- used to be a really different place, too.

One where he could afford to not have a friend like Cassie,
because Tim was Rob and never fucked anything important
up and kept a mask under his mask and always knew
everything -- or could figure out how to know everything --
and he never needed Kon any more than Kon needed

Kon closes his eyes and just breathes in for a while, trying
to filter out everything but the way last night's brief
rainstorm had made the Bay smell really good and natural,
like maybe there wasn't a Tower right here and a *city*
full of messy people right there and --

And he stops, because if it was really like that, then he'd
be alone. He's been having those nightmares for most of
his life, and he doesn't need them when he's awake.

And... and it's not that bad. It can't be that bad. It just...

It *really* can't, because he's *not* fucking alone and he
does still have friends, and possibly it's as much his fault
as anyone's that, these days, the only friend he knows
how to count on is the one who just... who can't --

He doesn't need to finish that thought, so he won't.

And Bart's asleep when Kon gets to his room, but he's Bart,
so all that means is that he spends about a second blinking
himself awake and then he's there. He's taller -- again --
and somehow it makes his hair look even shorter and more
wrong, and he gives Kon a *look* when Kon ruffles it
anyway, and then they're pretty much just kind of sitting
on Bart's bed not saying much of anything.

It's okay, because he's pretty sure Bart won't *let* him just
wait and brood, even --

"So what's up?"

-- now. Kon smiles, a little, and stops because it feels really
damned wrong on his face for no reason he (wants to) can
figure and bangs his head -- lightly -- against Bart's
headboard. "I... I don't know how to say it."

"Hmm." Bart crosses his legs into a little lotus thing under
his rumpled sheets and leans back against the headboard,
too. "You know, I kind of thought you guys would be
*less* fucked-up and antisocial and useless when you
started having sex. You and Tim, I mean."

The trick with Kid Flash -- with this Bart who just -- the
trick is to just assume, going in, that he's going to say
something that hurts your mind.

"Granted, this seems to be something that happens more
in genre-related fiction than real life, but, well. You guys
*do* have that World's Finest thing. You always did."

"That's just something people who don't actually know
any superheroes say."

"It works out more often that it doesn't -- I mean, look at
the Brave and the Bold thing --"

"Superman told me once that Green Arrow -- the older
bearded one -- pretty much hates every Green Lantern and
Flash who aren't, you know, the second ones. Or -- how
does that work with the Lanterns? The old one."

Bart rolls his head on his neck, setting off a series of pops
like a really quiet firecracker. "Magic, I think. I'm not sure.
Anyway, he still had *one* Flash and *one* Lantern, and
I think that's all that has to be in place for the formula to

"What about you?"

Bart smiles. "I'll get mine, I think. I mean... there's almost
certainly going to be a new Lantern corps. Maybe
Ganthet -- is that his name?"

Kon shrugs.

"Anyway, maybe someone will get chosen who'll match
me. And I like Mia, though she's pretty... not-talky for an
Arrow." Bart frowns. "Maybe it's a question of balance."

"I thought... I always thought we used to balance pretty

Bart nods, fairly slowly as these things go. "We did. But it
put you and Tim in a really parental position that... it
stopped working, even though you guys were *good*
parents, really."

("I'm not the mom!") "You weren't... I mean, how could
you be our kid?"

Bart shrugs. "You tell me. Dad."

"I..." There's so much there he wants to fucking protest,
but... he's fucking tired and Bart's fucking right. Still. "I
*wasn't* the Mom?"

"There's an interesting statistic in... I can't remember now,
I'm still half-asleep. Anyway, it measures North American
television against self-reported -- always a bit
questionable, but still -- anecdotes and stuff about which
parent -- in two-parent heterosexual households,
anyway -- actually provided more of the day-to-day
discipline. It was almost always the Mom."

Kon nods. He doesn't really have much context for it, but
it definitely seemed like Aunt Martha was more, well...
*together* about that sort of thing than Uncle Jon. Uncle
Jon gave you chores. Aunt Martha gave you chores she
knew you *hated*.

"Anyway, what is it?"

"Like I said, I don't know how to say it."

"Oh, I remember that. I was just seeing if I could trick

Seeing if he could... right. "You know, Bart, if we had this
conversation like a week ago -- or something like it, I
guess -- I would've been saying something about how
*you* should be the one dating Tim. Your brain moves as
fast as his does, and maybe you could... I don't know."

"But you don't think it could work now."

Kon narrows his eyes and turns enough that he can look
into Bart's freaky eyes. They're still the same eyes, even
though they don't seem as huge with more of his face
filled out.

They're still...

In the old days, they were unreadable because Bart was
*Bart*, and even if you were right about what was on his
mind, you were always wrong by the time you could say
something. It's different now, though. "You want Tim?"

Bart grins. "He's hot. But he's... focused."

Not that focused. Not... he can't say it. He can't. "He's --
he's your *Mom*."

"Not anymore. Dad."

"Dude, you need to stop that."

The most different thing about Bart now is his laugh, and
the way it *doesn't* make his whole body move, because
he won't let it. It's like he's forgotten how to let it, or


"You ditched Cassie for him, Kon. *Cassie*. And that was...
I feel like I should've seen it coming, because it was just so
obvious that it was never going to be a big *thing*
between you guys, but then again, I also never thought
you and Tim would. I mean -- you never would've hit on
him seriously. Right?"

Kon nods.

"So he did. So... *he* did. Wow. That's... wow. That's
actually kind of disturbing."

Kon laughs a little. "Gleaming white eyes in the dark,

"I didn't think you were allowed to use stealth ninja powers
for sex. Hunh."

"Or, you know, relationships." Kon swallows, and knows
he's being pretty obvious about not looking at Bart or
laughing, anymore.

"This is really messing you up? This is really messing you
up, which is obvious because you're talking to me about --
anything --"

"Bart --"

"We changed, deal with it. I did." Bart looks at him and --

Kon can feel him looking, mostly because he isn't saying
anything, and any time Bart (any Bart) was waiting for
something, you could feel it. So Kon looks up and Bart
nods at him and reaches out to squeeze Kon's bicep.

"I just want you to know, I'm not just waiting for the Arrow
and Lantern of my platonic and/or capital-P Platonic
and/or romantic and/or sexual dreams, Kon. I'm also...
well, I'm ready for you to remember that I'm the same
person. Any day now." Bart tilts his head at him. "Any day
at all. Really."

"I... I get that. I do."

"Do you?" Bart narrows his eyes like he's maybe got X-ray
vision. "I think you do. Or you think you do. One of those.
Or both. But it's just part of the larger... thing? With you
and Tim and maybe Cassie, too? But especially you and

Kon bangs his head back against the headboard again, on
the off-chance that it'll clear things up some. It doesn't.
"Is it cheating if you have sex with someone *with* the
person you're... dating, and then the person you're
dating has sex with that other person again without

"And the fact that you're not asking Tim this question...
says really a lot, Kon. I mean... a lot a lot. You know
that, right?"

Kon closes his eyes. "Yeah. I do."

"Okay, so... then I'd have to say yes, unless both people in
the original relationship agreed that the person who's,
well, screwing around *could* screw around and -- I
can't do this, Kon. I really can't. We're not the same
people we used to be, but you're just -- you're still you,
and Tim's still Tim, and I'm still me, and I can't act like
this is just some... some hypothetical question I can
throw book quotes at you for, because I can't even do
that for *Wally* and I *like* you guys, so really --"

"I can't, man. I just... I can't."

"Then what do you want me to do? What do you want me
to say? Who is he cheating on you with?"

"I didn't say it was Tim --"

"You didn't -- you didn't *fucking* have to, Kon, because,
Jesus, remember, I know you guys. Maybe better than I
did when we *were* friends, because now all I have to
do is *look* at you, as opposed to be with you, and that's...
that's *easier*, in some ways, which is why it doesn't suck
as bad as it could --"

"Bart --"

"What the *hell*, Kon? Don't you... don't you guys realize
how huge this is? How much it can fuck things *up*?
Cassie still has Cissie, yeah, but Greta's this whole
different person now, a human person, and *I* don't have
Cissie, anymore, and Anita's, like, this single *mom*, and
if I don't have you guys to wait for then I won't have
anyone because *you* don't have anyone --"

"Fuck, Bart, look, I know, all right?" Kon opens his eyes
and looks at Bart. "I was never the smart one, and I'm
*really* not now, but I know how important it is that I
don't fuck this up. That *we* don't fuck this up. I -- I
know, all right? That's why I'm *here*. One of the
reasons, anyway."

"Because I'm the smart one you're not fucking?"

"Because I don't want to be... because I'm scared. Like
always. *Always*, okay?"

Even Bart's hugs feel different now. They hit in different
places and they don't last as long and they're so fucking
hard, so fucking *strong* that there's no way Bart could
do it to Tim without either being really fucking scarily
careful or Tim being armored up. There's still that hum,

That heat and that *hum*, and Kon's missed it so much --

He didn't even realize he *had* missed it.

"What are you gonna do, Kon?"

"Try to understand."

"Kon --"

"Try to... fucking *cope*, okay?"

Bart pulls back and looks at him, and Kon knows he isn't
really staring at him so much as moving his eyes so fast
that even Kon can't see, but it was a whole different thing
back in the days when Bart would look you all over by
*moving* all over.

He can get used to it. He *can*.

"I gotta run."

"I --"

Bart's gone, and his room smells like burning dust and
cleaner and all the dry food he keeps stocked in the extra
cabinet he has where most of them just have, like, piles of
dirty laundry or decorations or something.

Kon steals a granola bar and waits.

He's halfway through it before Bart's back on the bed
and -- actually half on his lap.

"Whoa --"

"Superman? *Really*?"

Kon *doesn't* fucking choke, he swallows. Painfully. "He
*told* you?"

Bart shrugs. "He's really kind of fucked-up. I mean, you
knew that. You totally knew that, and that's how this all
started, because he needed you and that had to be
*really* fucking sweet and scary but mostly *sweet*
and you --"

"Christ, you -- you're not the fucking exposition, Bart --"

Bart grabs his shoulders and thumps Kon back against the
headboard. "No, I'm really not, I'm just thinking out loud
because if I didn't I would've just skipped right to the part
where I said, 'don't you think it kind of says something
that it's both *Superman* and, like, one of the few heroes
Tim didn't have some huge fucking connection to before'
and you would've had to catch up.

"Do you need to catch up?"

He wants to say 'yes,' really, really badly. He wants to go
back to the part where he was kind of maybe completely
making love to Tim, because Tim wanted him to and
because it was too good to stop or think even more than
that. "I don't need to catch up, no."

"He's scared --"

"I know."

"And he's just as... we're all so -- we're all in this Tower
every weekend and you're in his *bed* and we're acting
like it's not true and that's fucked-up."

"I know that, too."

"So we have to *fix* it."

Kon thinks about real live spiders in his spider roll and
feels like... he doesn't know how he feels. "He didn't
happen to say he planned to stop, did he?"

"Well, I -- no. Actually. And that's... Jesus, Kon. If I was
still stuck being you guys' kid, this would be really
fucking awful. I mean, you know that, don't you? You
guys are -- are -- dysfunctional. Like, officially, now.
Why --"

"I know," Kon says and stares at his granola bar.

"Why isn't he *stopping*?"

"Because he found the fucking Holy Grail, Bart. It's like
it's *okay*, because maybe none of all this bad stuff
really happened or something. Superman's *safe*."

"Is he?"

Kon gives up and gives Bart the bar and watches it
disappear. "For him? Probably. They're not... hell, you
brought up the fucking World's Finest thing, Bart."

"Kon... he's not... he's not *dealing*."

"Fucking *obviously*, man --"

"No, I mean --" And Bart's off his lap and pacing and Kon
wants to kick himself for every time he *didn't* try to
follow Bart's movements over the walls and the ceiling
and the floor and back again, because this doesn't last
*long* enough. "I mean, he's fucked-up but he's not
*dealing*. He's not -- he's not even really trying, is he.
Is he? He's not."

Kon scrubs his hands over his face. "I think he is. Kind
of. With me. Sometimes. I mean, I'm pretty sure that's
why we all -- with Superman."

Bart zips to the foot of the bed and crosses his arms
over his chest. His pajama bottoms are too short and
the top is smoking a little.

Kon blows on it, watches Bart shiver, and waits --

"Or maybe he was just trying to find the world's best way
to chase you *away*. Did you think of that?"

-- not long enough. "Yeah. I did. I think he was trying to
do that, too."

"But you're still there."


Bart frowns and pinches the few singed parts off his top.
There's the red of a burn which is already mostly healed
on his shoulder, and after Kon blinks it's completely

He wonders how many times a day that happens. How
much it *used* to happen, before Bart had control, and --

"For how long?"

Kon swallows and stares at his own hands, again. "What?"

"For how *long*, Kon?"

Kon lets the wrong smile onto his face. "Until he wins, I


The old, dead tree is exactly where it was when Clark
showed it to him, though it smells a lot like Krypto-pee
and it's kind of gnawed.

Kon sits upwind and waits.

It's not like he's been back here since Clark showed it to
him -- it's just another one of Clark's *places*, after all,
and they both know that. He knows they both know that.

He lies back in the grass and checks his watch.

It's eight-forty-two, which means that any given second,
the vice-principal's secretary is going to call the Kents to
ask about why he's not in school -- Smallville High is
*that* small -- which means that unless there's some
huge disaster somewhere --

"Testing boundaries, Conner?"

No disaster. "Not even remotely, Clark," Kon says, and
closes his eyes against the Clark-shaped shadow taking
all his light. It's bad enough that he's got a farmer tan, no
tan at all would pretty much just kill him.

"Then what? I'm still responsible for you, and I *have*
to --"

"Clark, I'm not skipping school to see if you're *really*
going to give me my space. It's -- it's about Tim."

"You... want to talk about that?"

The bizarre and really fucking -- the *thing* is that Clark
actually sounds hopeful. *Pleased*.

The other *thing* is, of course, that Kon's not really
surprised that he does.

"Yeah, I... yeah."

Clark lands and drops into a crouch which looks really
strange until he remembers that it's pretty much Tim's
default resting position when he's in uniform. It's...
really *not* Clark's, though maybe it's what makes
sense to him for 'Kon being communicative and

And maybe he can get through just one day without being
forced to analyze someone in his life.

"What is it about Tim, exactly, Conner?"

And he looks at Clark, and he thinks about the speeches
and potential responses to potential questions that Bart
had actually been really helpful in writing and helping
Kon memorize, and... he gives up. "You know he's
messed-up, right? All this... stuff. He's got this big empty
apartment and his Dad is dead and --"

"Tim has had a particularly difficult time, yes, I know."
Clark's smile is rueful and sad. "I've been hoping I could...

Kon nods and stares at Clark's knees -- and stares at
Clark's face. It really is easier when he's not close enough
to hump. "How do you think you've been helping, Clark? I
mean -- seriously. I'm asking."

"By giving him as much of what he needs as I can. I... I
know you've been doing the same."

Kon nods again. He'd seen that coming. "What if we're
just giving him what he *wants*, though? Two Supers,
no waiting, no -- no *questions*, and no --"

"Conner," Clark says, and starts to put a hand on Kon's
knee and stops. And laughs, a little. "Have you stopped
trusting his judgment because of... me? Am I truly..."
The laugh doesn't have any humor. "I... I know I haven't
been what you needed, and I'm beginning to understand
that my recent attempts have been, well, *attempts*.
But --"

"You'd never hurt him."

Clark nods.

"What if... what if he's hurting himself?"

Clark raises an eyebrow. "What if you're jealous?"

"What if you're --" A fucking *asshole*. No. No. "Why are
you letting him *hide* with you, Clark? *Seriously*. You
know the Bats -- more of them than pretty much anyone.
You know what they're -- what they're *like*."

The look Clark gives him is serious, and measuring, and
makes Kon thinks about Clark's hands on his own, forcing
him to hold Tim's hips still, and makes him think of Clark's
hands on his face, in his hair, pulling him in, and --

And Clark's eyes are just fucking *on* him, because he
knows, and he's not doing anything, he isn't. It's just that
Kon doesn't think he could really --

"Conner," Clark says, and cups his jaw, and Kon closes his
eyes long enough just to *feel* the big, warmer-than-his
thumb on his mouth and just lets himself deal with the
fact that Clark knows exactly how hard he is under his
jeans, which are new enough to fucking pinch in so
many of the right-wrong ways that this is just... just...

Just too --

"Conner," he says again, and pulls his hand away from
Kon's face.

Kon bites the inside of his cheek hard, drops the aura, bites
it *again* until he tastes blood, and then opens his eyes.
"Yeah. I'm... yeah."

Clark is smiling again, but it's all fucking *heat*, and Kon
focuses on not setting fire to the man's uniform.

"Clark --"

"They're not like... anyone else in Gotham, Conner. All of
us have our share -- our *shares* of grief, but none of us
were truly shaped by them. Not like Batman's family. We
were ourselves long before, I think, we had to pay for
the privilege of those identities. It... makes a difference."

"So you think it's healthy what he's doing?"

"I think it's... predictable. In some startlingly unpredictable

"Clark, *please*, you have to -- he's -- we're *all* worried,
you know? It's not just that I don't want you fucking my
boyfriend, okay?"

Clark nods slowly, and doesn't really blink, at all. Just
looks at him and keeps nodding.

"The Tim I know wouldn't have... not again."

"And no one is allowed to change, Conner...?"

"Jesus, Clark, *please*, I just -- I don't *care* if he winds
up *with* you in whatever fucked-up way Lois will put up
with. I just want him to be *okay*."

Clark looks away first, for a change, and Kon is just about
to think about congratulating himself for it when he
realizes that Clark is just watching him tear at the grass
with his left hand to avoid grabbing his fucking hard-on.
*Nothing* changes.

Not really.

"I've indulged myself in being... indulged in. It's not a
common pleasure, as I think you can guess, Conner." And
Clark is sort of smiling up at clouds, or maybe at where
the Watchtower used to be. "But you're probably right in
that I'm not being as helpful as I could. I... I won't let
myself be responsible for causing harm to someone you
care about, Conner. I won't."

Even if you maybe kind of really want to?

Clark turns the smile back on him, and it's abruptly and
terrifyingly really easy to see what Clark must have
looked like when he was a teenager.

Everybody loves a time machine. Right.

"Sometimes I wonder how you would've gotten along
with... Batman, if you had been allowed to know each
other in other circumstances."

Kon... blinks. "Um. Okay?"

The smile on Clark's face gets a little wider for a really
scary moment before Clark reaches out and claps Kon
on the shoulder. "Get to school," he says, and rises. "I'll
do my best not to let you down. Either of you."

Kon nods and watches Clark go, again.

And goes to school.


.Only rise.