Three Years Later
"Is this love?" When he first said the words, Tim, nearly smacked himself for quoting a cheesy eighties pop song.
Mostly, he was trying his best not to hyperventilate. His decision to forgo his obsessive Bat training where his and Roy's relationship was concerned – such as not planning out conversations/arguments/discussions with said lover – had worked for him so far, but apparently it had finally worn out. He definitely could have chosen a better time – and a better venue – for this…little tête-à-tête.
Roy was blinking at him from across the breakfast table as if he thought Tim had lost his mind. Lian had just scampered off to get dressed for school; they had about fifteen minutes before they all had to leave, Tim to take Lian to the bus stop before he teleported up the JLA Watchtower and then to the Clocktower to relieve Barbara for his shift as Oracle (2.0), Roy to the Outsiders HQ to go over the quarterly accounts, and then an afternoon training session with the rest of the team.
The chain of events Tim had just set into motion with his words could not possibly be resolved in such a short time.
"What…exactly…do you mean?" Roy asked carefully, as if he was picking his way across a minefield.
It was, of a sort: one wrong move and this conversation Tim had planned could blow up into a huge argument.
"I just…" Tim paused, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. Having centered himself, he opened his eyes and focused on Roy. "We live together. We work together. We raise your – our – daughter together, and do all that PTA stuff together," Tim said. They also had some pretty spectacular sex, but that wasn't really the point of this conversation. "There isn't a single part of our lives that we don't share in some way with each other. We're a…well, we're a we, Roy." That's why he had had such a hard time with his realization last week – when Dick congratulated him on his upcoming anniversary – that he and Roy had never told each other 'I love you.' They did love each other…didn't they?
Roy nodded to show that he'd understood; but the expression of confusion on his face still hadn't gone away.
"And we've been doing it for three years, Roy. But we've never said the words." And Tim was sure that it was all his fault. Roy had a lot of self-confidence when it came to archery or debauchery, but his self-esteem was sadly lacking; it had more ups and downs than Dick and Bruce's relationship. Roy obviously hadn't felt like he could say it unless Tim said it first, and Tim hadn't, so…
Tim was just starting to work himself into a good brood when the silence from across the kitchen table caught his attention and snapped him out of it.
Roy gulped. Guilt flickered across his face, and Tim's heart sank, before he ruthlessly suppressed his anguish. He didn't know anything…yet. "Um…actually, I have said it," Roy admitted softly.
Tim blinked, shaken from an intense feeling of vertigo. He felt like he'd been walloped over the head with one of Harley Quinn's mallets. "… What?"
Roy bit his lip and shoved himself out of his chair, not meeting Tim's eyes. "You know how I…all that Navajo I use when we…when we make love?" Even with only being able to see his lover's profile, Tim could tell that Roy was blushing redder than his hair. Roy always got either embarrassed or defensive whenever anyone brought up his Navajo heritage, as if he felt like he was one step away being ridiculed for his differences.
Tim softened a bit, at least around the eyes; over half a decade of making facial expressions so they could be seen around a mask hadn't gone away now that he had a quote-unquote 'normal' job as one of Oracle's operatives. "Yeah, I remember." He didn't know what any of the words meant – he was, understandably, a bit preoccupied the times they were spoken and never remembered enough of the sounds to be able to look them up – but the emotion in Roy's voice had always been clear. And now it was apparent why. Roy did love him, and there wasn't a problem – except for a lack of communication.
Roy cleared his throat, eyes flicking up to meet Tim's momentarily before focusing on someplace to the left of middle distance. "I…I kinda say it…then. I mean, I know I should've used English, or one of those other languages you know, I just… It should've occurred to me you wouldn't understand, and why the fuck you'd ever say it back I didn't ever expect…" Roy started babbling, and like loving Tim, it was something he couldn't stop, even if he thought it'd just end up in a train wreck, causing him to hurt more.
Tim was so full of emotion at the moment, he felt as if he would burst. Roy loved him; everything else didn't matter, and what did could be worked out later. He grabbed Roy by the shoulders and stopped the flood of words with his lips. Once Roy's mouth softened into his and he started kissing back, he pulled back. "I love you, too, Roy," he murmured.
Roy grinned at him, and was just leaning in for another kiss when an imperious, "A-hem!" came from the doorway.
Standing there, arms crossed over her purple corduroy pinafore and white T-shirt, scuffed sneakers and slouching socks on her feet, Lian Harper looked nothing so much like a pint-sized version of a mother who'd just caught her kids with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar.
Lian turned expectant, demanding eyes on her two fathers. "Daddies, are you fighting?" she asked, both worry and peevishness infusing her voice in a mix that she must have learned from her 'Granma Canary.'
Up until that moment, Roy hadn't realized that, with the way their arms and legs were positioned, it could look like they were about to punch each other instead of kiss each other.
Looking down at the raven-haired child who possessed his lover's eyes and held his heart, Tim could only speak the truth: "We were, but not anymore."
"You made up?" she asked, giving them both a shrewd look. She wasn't quite seven, but extremely astute for her age. And she always knew when something was wrong, even if the adults in her life didn't.
Roy nodded and smiled. "We sure did, pumpkin."
"Then you should kiss," Lian pronounced.
Tim and Roy both blinked at her, so she elaborated, "When you fight, you're supposed to kiss and make up. Granma Canary said so last time she and Auntie Oracle had a 'disagreement' over Granpa Ollie's chili." Lian said that while sketching air quotes, with an expression on her face that underlined the fact that even at six years of age, she knew 'disagreement' was just a more polite way of saying 'fight.'
She was full of the righteous indignation only a child could have while berating her parents for being so stupid – and she looked adorable.
Roy coughed and covered a smile. Tim just huffed a laugh and did his best not to burst out into giggles at the thought of what had most probably occurred during that 'disagreement.' Dinah hated Ollie's chili; whether because she'd eaten so much of it over the years or because Ollie still thought her relationship with Barbara was a 'phase,' not even Babs knew. Babs, on the other hand, loved spicy food, the spicier the better. And it didn't get spicier than Oliver Queen's 100-Alarm Chili.
Tapping one sneaker-clad foot on the tile floor, Lian prompted, "Well? I'm waiting, and I have to get to school."
Tim and Roy exchanged mirthful, disbelieving expressions, and, resigned to their fates, leaned into each other, arms wrapping around one another, and kissed. Chastely, because of the young eyes watching them. When they pulled back, they looked at Lian.
Lian was smiling brightly, and nodded in satisfaction. "Good. Now, I'm goin' to go and get my backpack so you two can really kiss, and then Daddy Tim will take me to the bus stop," Lian said, before turning straight around and heading for her room.
"We have the best kid," Tim said, smiling at her retreating figure.
Roy's eye softened and he smiled. "Yeah, we do," he agreed, pulling Tim into another kiss. This one wasn't chaste at all.