When your soul embarks
by Te
December 8, 2005

Disclaimers: Really not mine.

Spoilers: None, really. Toonverse.

Summary: You're laughing and wondering where your
breath has gone.

Ratings Note: Sexual content which dovetails neatly
with the content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: Petra said, "I think you should creep me

Acknowledgments: To Petra, Betty, Jam, Marcelo, and Ruby
for audiencing, encouragement, and a whole hell of a lot of
helpful suggestions.


You're caught by the sudden turns of his conversation and
mood. He's mercurial in a way you feel is entirely unsuited
to Gotham, which is a generally, genuinely stable -- in its
own terrible ways -- sort of place with predictable seasons
and predictable...

It's distasteful, to you, when you find yourself using words
like 'predictable' when you're referring to human beings.
Your father, who is wise, says this sort of thing is, in itself,
predictable, considering that you spend so much time
around criminals -- who are, after all, predictable to a fault.

There's no solution to this, however, and it doesn't quite
satisfactorily explain the ways in which you find *innocents*

Still, there's a part of you which finds it gloriously wrong to
be smiled at -- grinned at -- when you find your way to


Bruce has never precisely been agreeable (about anything,
at all) about the fact of your alien-ness --

("You peeked.")

-- and yet he has also been scrupulously tolerant. It's what
you expect from the human -- and once-human -- heroes,
in all honesty, and it's what you've been given, almost
without exception.


"-- and then the alien face-hugger thing totally freaking
*came* in the dude's mouth, and it was all --"

"Er... Tim."

"Yeah, Clark?"

"You do *remember* that I'm alien, don't you?"

The expression on his face is honestly bemused, with a
certain touch of 'non-plussed.' "Uh, *yeah*..."

"Just checking."

"I mean, unless you were planning to impregnate me with
chest-bursting -- and I do mean *bursting*, blood
everywhere, *guts* everywhere, and they totally got the
right color for the fat which --"

"So you enjoyed the film?"

And -- there.

You're expecting to be taunted in some respect for your
not-especially-deft attempts to change the subject.

What you receive is a shift, a *change*.

The smile on the boy's face is the sharpest of mockery, of
course, but only in the sense that all of Tim's smiles that
you've seen, thus far, have had an edge. Only to the
uninitiated -- something which you no longer are, quite.

It is, in fact, a rather gentle -- relatively -- smile. A
thoughtful one, and, when you chance a look through his
mask, you find his expression unfocused enough that you
allow yourself to stop panicking about the way the smile
itself had made you swallow.

"Yeah. I mean, obviously I have to know a lot of human --
and otherwise -- anatomy for this job, but it's kind of cool
to be able to use it to, you know, watch stupid horror

Which... makes a sort of sense you wouldn't have
considered. You are reasonably sure Bruce disapproves of
the boy's entertainment choices.

You wonder if he knows.

"You enjoy being able to... critique the verisimilitude?"

Tim snickers and the softness is gone. "Remind me to say
something like that the next time Alfred raises that
*eyebrow* at me."

"I'll do my best."


The first time he calls you (you want to think of it as 'calls
*to* you,' but you don't) -- ever -- he is neither in danger
nor even wearing his uniform.

He's rocking back and forth on his heels with his hands
shoved deep in the pockets of his -- almost shockingly,
though you know this is standard for him, from your
observations -- nondescript chinos.

He's standing on the roof of the manor, and you do not grab
him, even though the rocking motion is giving you a feeling
you suspect is not unlike what humans call vertigo.

He says, "it's my mandatory off-night. I know it isn't
*yours*, since you don't *do* that, but, I figured I'd say hi."

You blink like an imbecile, and that's when you notice that
his hair isn't spiked into its usual controlled chaos, because,
when he dips his head, it covers his eyes.

"Okay, so that was probably stupid. I mean --"

"No. I -- it's fine. It's... did you want to talk?"

Shift, and he's looking up at you from under his lashes and
the fall of his thick, straight hair. The pose is new. The
expression is not.

You've watched him hunt, after all.

This is when you realize a few of the truths behind your


Not all of them -- this sort of thing must, of course, be as
complex as possible. The alternative would be *laughable*.

You generally try to repress -- ruthlessly, if necessary --
your occasional desire to be arch, or cynical. It's not for
Clark, and it shouldn't be for Superman, either.

The night when he called (to) you, you excused yourself
for just long enough to change into your own civilian

He asked you, with a sort of desperately endearing doubt,
if there was *anything* you'd enjoyed about school, then
eyed you dubiously when you explained that you'd always
enjoyed the literature courses.

The expression was closer to grudging agreement when you
shifted your topic to biology.

This is part of the complexity:

You find you honestly envy Bruce his ability -- right -- to
tutor the boy.

The knife which is nearly always strapped to Tim's back --
and which made an appearance that night -- is easy
enough to imagine as a scalpel, slicing through layers of
flesh, fat, and muscle to reach the shamelessly gory truths
at the heart of haplessly formaldehyded creatures of various

You wonder why you never noticed the deftness of his


You take to flying lower over Gotham than is your usual
habit, just in case Tim is bored enough, unoccupied
enough, to look to the skies.

When he does, it's with the same smile which tends to give
you -- pause.

Even though Bruce is beside him, and the expression on
*his* face isn't even 'smiling for Bruce.'

Still, he doesn't *say* anything, and he turns his back when
you land.

Tim's smile is broad and guileless -- and false -- when he
says, "Just in the neighborhood?"

His smile when you respond with, "something like that,
yes," is entirely true and conspiratorial.


Suddenly, Bruce is a chaperone.

Suddenly, you realize he has been a chaperone from the
moment when Tim noticed the colors of your uniform in the
Gotham sky -- since Bruce had noticed you first.

"You okay, Clark?"

Just the same, even when you feel -- when you can't help
but feel -- Bruce's attention switch to you in a very
deliberate manner, it's not at all difficult to keep your own
focus on Tim.

"You look a little --"

"I'm quite all right." Rather the opposite of difficult, really.

There's something of a silent, glaring competition between
the gleam of moonlight on Tim's gauntlets and the gleam
of his smile.

"I -- is there... time for a visit?"

"Well --" Tim begins, at precisely the same instant Bruce


Tim rolls his eyes behind the mask, and then *looks* at
you. He wants to be absolutely sure you caught it.

You raise your eyebrow -- for Bruce.

For Tim...

You aren't sure, entirely, what to do. However, whatever
does make it into your expression is enough to make Tim
rock on his heels and snicker.

You realize:

If you were alone with the boy, you would kiss him.


Later, alone, you find yourself concocting an even dozen
scenarios which begin, 'and then I kissed him,' before you
can make yourself stop.

It takes almost no time at all to do -- in your *own*
reckoning of time.

You suspect it has something to do with the fact that you
hadn't before.

Even after he called to you.


It takes him nearly a week to call to you again, a week of
flying over Gotham and going unseen and ignored.

A week of watching Tim do really very painful-looking
things to criminals, watching him alternately doze (his
heartbeat grows nearly meditatively slow) through class
and blaze through it (he spins the scalpel over his knuckles,
he keeps his hand hidden beneath the desk), watching him
sleep, watching him fly.

You've begun to wonder if he will call.

You've begun to wonder if he enjoys being kissed on the
mouth, or if he prefers --

You've begun, and then he calls to you from the manor --
the inside, and you know those echoes better than you
would've expected from yourself -- and when you ring the
doorbell, you have a gift of several recipes for Alfred which
you'd been holding for your mother for several days.

And which won't be given today. The only heartbeats nearby
not your own or the boy's are from the bats below, and the
few animals which live on the Manor's grounds.

"You're alone?"

"Hi to you, too, Clark," Tim says, and grins. "And yeah, I

You don't kiss him.

"You get *twitched* when Bruce is lurking -- which amuses
the crap out of him by the --"

You kiss him, clumsy and much too hard. You hear the index
cards hit the floor, and the stutter of Tim's heart, and the
wet slide of Tim's tongue into your mouth, and his hands
aren't in your hair.

And then they are, and the first sound he makes into your
mouth is a small squeak of surprise when you lift him
against your body.

His chinos scratch and slide against the material of your
jacket, and it all sounds too --

You wish he were in his uniform, fleetingly, but when he is
naked in the foyer, you realize that it's perfect.

"Right *here*?"

"Yes," you say, and what you mean is 'anywhere.'

The expression on his face is precisely the same as the one
you've seen him use when he is taking the time to decide
how best to cause a large, incautious man pain -- lips
parted and eyes bright.

And then he shoves at you until you let him go, and drops
to his knees.

"If you *do* get me pregnant, Clark, I'm gonna Kryptonite
you," he says, and swallows you with barely a moment's
further hesitation.

You are too busy staggering to respond.


After you have made it to the couch in the study, after he is
settled enough between your lap and the cushions to
almost stop fidgeting, restlessly -- almost -- it occurs to you
that it would be a good idea to listen for Bruce and Alfred's

You are honestly unsure how much time has passed
between the first kiss and this moment, but the fact that
you're positive you could figure it out if you gave it some
thought is enough to keep the realization from being

You are not capable of handling more distraction -- it's
already too much of a sacrifice to focus on more than the
boy stretching, moving, and *shifting* right there.

Right here.

There are no signs of the others, and --

And Tim points the toes of one foot before stretching his
leg up until his thigh is pressed nearly to his own abdomen.
And then he does it with the other, grunting and sighing.


"Yes," you say, and you suspect you still mean 'anywhere.'

"You totally never play video games at all, do you?"

The tease in his voice is nearly bland to your ears, now,
without the edge of sexuality you now know in your bones.
And it takes some time to parse the sentence. Luckily,
you're accustomed to waiting at least several beats before
answering the questions of humans, so as not to seem
rushed or suspicious. "I did when I was growing
accustomed to my powers, but mostly as a dexterity

Tim nods as though you've answered any number of
unspoken questions, and then frowns thoughtfully. "Are
they too slow to be fun for you?"

"Generally," you say, and spend several beats considering
bending Tim in half again, just to be able to *see* it.

"Yeah, it's... well, there's this one game I used to like a lot.
Not really cool or anything -- it was actually *all ages*, you
know? -- but it was fun. And the first time I tried playing it
after Bruce let me be Robin, I beat it. In, like, an hour and
a half."

"It had been challenging before?"

Tim nods, dragging his head against Clark's thigh. "That's
*why* it was fun. You had to be so -- well, *fast*, just to
get your guy to survive level *five*."

You laugh, a little. "I've watched you face multiple gunmen
without getting so much as a tear in your suit."

Shift, and his frown is less thoughtful than impatient. "That's

"You want it to be different," you say. "I --"

*Shift*, and Tim is laughing ruefully and trying to catch at
the fabric of the couch with the toes of his left foot. "Yeah,
okay, it's probably fucking ass stupid to be whining about
not being able to turn the Robin-thing off at *you*."

"I -- I was going to say..." You know that you've trailed off
in a deeply noticeable way when Tim rolls his head on your
thigh enough to be able to look up at you, into your eyes.


You've realized that you are Tim's *friend*.


You stroke his cheek with the fingertips of one hand, and
watch his eyes narrow impatiently, and you have no idea
whatsoever how you're supposed to feel about that. "I was
going to say that I understood, that's all. I remember what
running used to feel like, before I could fly."

The flash of gratitude is brief and consuming.

You remember that you're listening for the others' return,
that you *have* to, but that's really the limit, because --

"My mouth is raw. Let me suck you again."

"Only if I can return the favor, this time."

His eyes are wide, and his teeth click shut on a hiss.

And both of you are distracted by the sharp, brutal motions
of his hand on his own penis.


Friendship... this is the one of the other complications. Or
rather, the fact that you're honestly unsure whether or not
it *should* be a complication makes it a complication,
whether it is or not.

You compromise with yourself, and watch more closely,
more judiciously.

You watch him charm the various adults of his civilian
acquaintance, you watch him ignore his fellow students --
save for the ones who show a sexual interest. The
dominance he shows is both surprising and not, considering

Everything -- as near as you can tell, there are no civilians
aware of how flexible Tim's body truly is, or even of the
ways his expressions shift when he has orgasms.

You focus -- refocus -- and realize you are his only friend
who is not his family.

You find no blood relations.


"Bruce," you say, when the two of you are alone on the
Watchtower save for Wally, who is on monitor-duty tonight,
"I'd like to talk to you about something."

"Would you."

It's a relief he's no more forbidding than usual, and an old,
familiar definition of relativity. "I... Robin's social life,

Beneath the cowl, Bruce's expression is entirely blank. The
sense of 'did you truly just say that out loud' comes entirely
from the cowl itself. It's as impressive -- and frustrating --
as it always is. You have never truly been surprised by the
ways in which Lois finds more -- far more -- common
ground with Bruce than she does with you. They share a
certain... perfection of mystery.

But this isn't about Lois. "It's just that he seems...
somewhat isolated."

Bruce blinks behind the cowl, frowns, and pushes it back
over his head. "You feel it's... altering the way he chooses
to relate to you."

You hadn't truly let yourself consider that. It's terrifying --
and so, of course, Bruce would understand it first.

"Clark." It's an order, as much as it's anything else.

"I -- Yes."

"It almost certainly is," Bruce says, clipped and even. "But if
*you* have more success than -- any of us -- have had with
convincing him to broaden his... *interests*, I'll be deeply


You watch him move almost aimlessly through Gotham one
Saturday, until he's within a few blocks of the Wayne
Enterprises building. And then his movements become

You wish -- you *wish* you wish -- that your
disappointment has less to do with the fact he didn't call to


You surrender to yourself while watching him restrain a
man with a freshly broken mandible, tibia, and several
metatarsals, and land -- slowly and obviously -- on the
highest rooftop nearest Tim's current light-post of choice.

His smile has no complications whatsoever.

You mean -- honestly -- to speak to him about the
possibilities you've discovered in the midst of juggling
secrets with a social life.

And then you realize the last time you spoke to Lana was
several weeks in the past, and that you are not even sure
whether or not Pete still lives in Alexandria. (You listen; he
does.) You remember that you have not yet asked Lois out
for coffee.

You tell him, instead, about John's failure to get Shayera to
enjoy baseball until he began crafting balls with the power ring.
Explosive ones.

"Explosive -- oh, *man*. How did they manage that in the

"After the explosive decompression in the storage locker,
they took to playing in open space."

His expression is an impressive blend of wonder and
fascination. You want to take him into space.

You... really want to watch him detonate something.

You wonder if it's a scent on you, or a 'tell' of some other
obvious-to-everyone-but-him sort, but mostly you watch
him shift, and narrow his eyes behind the mask, and bare
his teeth.

"I was wondering when you'd come visit, Clark," he says,
with a head-tilt which is as compelling as it's false.

You're so shocked -- bereft -- by the way he doesn't touch
you that it takes a moment to realize he's leapt from the

You chase him, laughing and wondering where your breath
has gone, until he stops flying. The flagpole is vibrating a
little beneath his feet with the force of his landing, and he
holds your gaze with perfect steadiness as he snaps both
legs out, at once, and drops to his hands.

He's not -- quite -- strong enough to keep the pole from
bouncing up and down between his legs. Or perhaps he
simply chooses not to try.

Your mind gives you a moment to register -- gratefully --
that the flagpole is attached to an entirely empty office
tower, and then --

"Nnn -- Clark. Fuck, this kind of --"


Tim closes his eyes and lets his mouth fall open. "Yeah.
God, I'm -- I kinda didn't count on getting this hard this

You have no idea what to say to that.

"Heh. It's making balancing kind of a *challenge*," he says,
and raises his eyebrows at you, inviting on a number of

"My mother always said we should strive to challenge
ourselves, Tim."

Tim laughs -- snickers, really -- and then his elbows buckle.
"Oh --"

You wait for long enough to watch the way the pole's
rebound makes Tim throw his head back, makes him moan
long and low, and -- no, he can't keep his balance.

You catch him and fly him to the roof of the office tower.

You say, "Tim, you're --"

And he kisses you. His cheeks are so flushed they almost
don't feel cool against your face at all, and you haven't
even managed to entirely land yourselves before he has
one strong leg hooked around the back of your thigh.
*Locked* there.

"Oh, wait --"

"No, like this, like *this*," he says, rocking against you.

You feel his jock far more than you feel *him*, and this is
terrible and more than a little unfair, and yet --

And yet, you know what he feels. What he *wants* to feel.
It takes a moment -- and far more concentration than you
*want* to give -- but you manage to both lighten the motions
of your hips and speed them.

You give him something like a living flagpole, and a part of
you marvels at your inability to laugh at the vibration in his
voice and the terrible *pun* of it all.

Most of you, however, is watching the shifts of Tim's face --
shock, joy, hunger, viciousness --

Ecstasy as he drags the leg he'd never managed to lock
down the back of your thigh, as his sounds spiral higher, as
he bangs his head against the roof -- because you are not
capable of releasing his hips to protect him.

You are terrified.

You are as aroused as you've ever been.

He breathes.

He smiles.

He says, "Um, *ow*," and laughs. "Okay, that wasn't bright."

"Are -- are you all right?"

"I'm gonna need to pad my jock for a few days --"

You wince.

"But I'm fine. God, Clark, I --"

"I'm sorry, I should've --"

He smiles wider, and opens his -- glittering -- eyes. "That
was really *perfect*."

It was.


You doze, as lightly as you can. For once, you're truly
tempted to sleep.

(For years, you have either been mostly wakeful or utterly
exhausted. Middle ground is luxurious.)

Your bed sheets are one of the shades of blue you favor,
but you think this will change. It's not really a color which
suits the skin of the boy sharing them with you.

Tim is asleep on his stomach, silent and calm. His back is
less a mass of scars than a detailed calendar of careless
brutality. You lack the sort of intimate -- visceral --
familiarity with human physiology to be able to tell which of
the latest injuries will scar, and you find yourself wishing
Bruce would find some reason to 'bench' the boy, just so
they'll have time to do what they will before Tim goes out

Of course, you know Tim would react to this extremely
negatively, and yet you can't help trying to think of various
ways you might distract him from his hypothetical -- and
ultimately implausible -- vacation.

You think of his short nails clawing at your shoulders as
you moved, you *pushed*. You think of his sweaty hair
falling in his eyes.

You think you are lucky -- unutterably so -- to have been
able to do *this* with the boy for the first time in a (your)

You want to sleep with him, truly sleep, but you don't quite
trust yourself to have the *will* to wake him in time to fly him
home to prepare for school. You don't trust yourself to wake
him at all, really.

But --

"Clark." The 'r' is slightly rolled, fuzzed with sleep.

"Rest --"

He takes a deep, quick breath and rolls on his side, blinking
at you. "Can't. You're awake."

He says this with the utter surety of logic in his tone, and
he's watching you patiently. Until he blinks again and
narrows his eyes.

"*Do* you sleep?"

"I --" It's a surprise to realize that you've never talked
about this with anyone save your parents. No -- it's a
surprise that Tim doesn't, already, know somehow. "I do,
sometimes, but I have reason to believe it's not... like
human sleep."

"That's -- that's *terrible*," Tim says, sitting up and
scrubbing a hand through his hair.

"I don't need it --"

He shakes his head, sharp and dismissive. "You should still
be able to... I don't know. Go away for a while, when you
want to." He shakes his head again, but this time it's more
canine than anything else. "Clark, I..."

His expression doesn't change when you stroke his face
with your knuckles, and this is how you know you've truly
upset him. "It's all right, Tim --"

"It's *not*," he says, and glares at you. "It's the truth, but
it's not *all right*."

You realize that he's teaching you, and you don't know
what to say, but he moves after another moment, shifting
close enough to wrap his arms around your neck and tuck
his face against your chest. You try to say it -- anything --
with your touch, but he's drowning you out.

He's drowning you in his skin, his scent. In the exhausted
clarity of his emotions.

You feel --

"I could..." Tim yawns, jaw shifting against your chest. "I
could tell you about the dream I had last night with Wonder
Woman and the U.S. Women's soccer team and the

"Diana herself might like to hear that one," you say, and
you consider sharing one or two of the stories Diana has
told you about the rites for and celebrations of Aphrodite,
when you asked her, once, to tell you more about her

"Oh... wow. Yeah. Keep talking like that," but his voice --
while fervent -- is already sinking back into the slight
incoherence of sleep.

You decide to save the stories for later, and you wonder
what you'll do if you ever run out of interesting things *to*
tell him. You --

You realize that you already were saving the stories for
Tim, perhaps as soon as Diana told them.

You realize he is your friend, now -- necessary and
comfortable both -- and ultimately you're unsurprised by
the fact that you had to realize you were in love with him


Tim says, "pass the salt, please."

And never have those words been spoken with more sharply
vindictive pleasure -- outside of an Albee play. Still, it
doesn't seem to give Bruce pause, and he passes the salt
with a raised eyebrow you're almost sure speaks of -- a
variety of -- amusement.

You are not at all sure you're *qualified* for dinner with
Bruce and Tim at once, and yet you're very pleased to be
here, just the same.

"Clark. Would you care for more milk?" The full force of
Bruce's regard is turned on you, now.

Tim, for his part, seems quite satisfied to continue attacking
the mass of salt, blood, and muscle tissue which --
apparently -- he feels is the perfect way to consume steak.

Bruce is drinking wine. But you --

"Yes, please. And thank you, Bruce."

You're quite satisfied with milk.