Just The Way You Are
The truly disturbing thing about Tim becoming a girl – and why that weird mage guy only targeted non-metahumans Bart would never understand, especially since Mia wasn't even with them – was how much things didn't change.
With Tim, anyway. After having contacted Oracle to ask Batgirl to drop off one of the girl Robin's costumes – and even if everyone was too busy freaking out to notice, Bart heard how much pain was in Tim's voice when he said Steph's name – and then changing into it, Tim went about business as usual. He updated the case files on their newest villain, checked with Zatanna to find out how said villain's magic worked and how this spell could be ended (the answer was that he'd have to be patient and wait three weeks, since apparently turning Tim into a girl wasn't what the mage had tried to do, and misfired spells of that type only wore off while performing a simple ritual under the light of the full moon), practicing his fighting moves in his newly-changed body, and doing his usual patrol of the grounds.
Everyone else was acting like they were the ones who'd undergone the spontaneous sex change, and avoiding Tim like the Clench.
But Bart had the advantage of subjective time – which was less of an advantage than that it was just that the video game he'd been brought up in hadn't really had much in it about predefined gender roles – and anyway, the 30th Century was a lot less uptight about stuff like that. So Tim had tits. Big deal, he was still Tim.
Well, she was still Tim, but that was only temporary. And, no, Tim's breasts weren't big, they were about a 30B, according to Cassie; apparently the girl Robin had been a 34C, so Tim had tried to borrow a bra from her and had ending up just going without since Cassie was a 38D.
But Bart digressed. That happened a lot, especially when it was just him and his thoughts. He mostly managed to stay on track when he talked.
And thinking of talking, he needed to find Tim. Tim had seemed absolutely despondent since this whole thing started – at least to someone who paid as much attention to him as he did – and Bart wanted to cheer him up.
But he couldn't do that if he couldn't find Tim.
Bart started at the top floor of Titans Tower and worked his way down. Not in any of the bedrooms (the ones that had doors open, and he only just peeked inside, didn't go in, because he did understand the concept of privacy and personal space, really, it was just that everybody seemed to think they needed much more of it than they really did, human beings being social animals and all, and most alien species, too…), not even his own, not in the rec room (probably because the others were in there watching a movie), not working out in the gym, or eating in the kitchen (but he stopped for a snack himself, because he was running low on fuel, yes, literally, pun intended), not in any of the storage closets, or the monitor room…
Bart then headed outside, thinking that maybe Robin had gone to check the perimeter (and surreptitiously check to make sure Kory's garden was still in the mostly harmless stage of growth), but no luck. He chanced to look up, and that was when he saw him – her – on the roof of the tower.
It made sense, in hindsight. Bats liked lurking, after all, and there were lots of tall buildings in Gotham city. Next time he'd remember to check the roof first.
Not even a moment and he was up there, too, making sure to purposefully make noise to let Tim know he was there, even though Tim was Robin and probably knew he was behind him/her before Bart knew he'd be coming up there.
"Bart," Tim said, and his voice wasn't really welcoming, but it wasn't really not. More of a 'Leave me alone if you plan to try and bother me' tone of voice.
Which Bart could completely understand; the others had been…not helping with their avoidance of Tim and general not-helpfulness. Zipping over to stand next to Tim, Bart bit his lip and then asked in a rush, "You doing okay?" He jittered in place to keep himself from reaching out and wrapping his friend in a hug. Tim needed it, but Robin wouldn't accept it, and that would defeat the whole purpose of the comforting gesture.
Tim sighed and crossed his arms over his chest – over her breasts – underneath his cape, causing the Kevlar fabric to rustle. "I'll be fine in approximately five hundred hours," he said, her slightly-higher voice wry and slightly humorous.
Bart quickly did the math in his head – that was how many hours it would be until Tim could turn himself back – and snorted. "Yeah, but what about in the meantime?" he asked, tugging pointedly on Tim's cape – the cape that was just a shade too long and covered up the uniform that just didn't fit quite right, no matter how many adjustments Tim had likely made to it.
Tim's lips quirked up, but there wasn't any humor in that not-quite smile. "You know me, Bart. I'll be fine," he said dismissively, pulling away from Bart's grip, the cape slipping from his fingers.
"Yes, I do know you," Bart replied, giving Tim an arch look. "Which means you'll act like you're fine, regardless of whether you actually are or not."
The look Tim gave him was measuring, and sort of darkly amused, but also with a weirdly glittery shine like Tim was thinking of battle tactics or possibly even porn, and now Bart totally understood why mysterious girls were supposed to be so sexy, because Tim was…
Repress, Bart told himself. He was trying to talk to Tim, not perv on him. Perving could happen later, when he was alone.
Tim sighed, and seemed to relax all over, before he dropped down to sit on the edge of the Tower, legs dangling over the edge. Bart didn't even need to see Tim pat the roof next to him before he was sitting down, too. "Talk to me, Tim," he said, and he was trying for serious, but it came out sounding sort of begging.
But it didn't matter, because Tim was talking, and that was the whole point. "Aside from our mentors, you're the only one who isn't completely freaking out about this," Tim said.
Shrugging, Bart said, "I had several days of subjective time to get used to the new you. The others just need the same in objective time."
"And you think they'll start acting normally around me again?" Tim asked. And it was weird in a way – not that everything about their lives wasn't – but he totally wanted an answer from Bart, because no matter how much time Tim had spent studying human/metahuman/alien/whatever interaction, there was always a part of him that wasn't really sure how people would act because he looked at everything logically.
Bart was never sure, either, but since he looked at almost everything illogically, it seemed to even out between them. "I think most of them will." He was, perhaps, being overly optimistic, but in this case he was almost certain he'd end up being more right than not.
"But Kon will still be avoiding me like Batman," Tim guessed rightly, slumping down and hunching over even further. He kicked disconsolately at the side of the building, and just generally radiated misery from his very being. It had been the three of them from the beginning, and considering that Kon dating Cassie hadn't been enough to break up the Three Musketeers…
Well, it would be bad – and stupid, to boot – if they lost Kon's friendship over something that wasn't even permanent.
Bart cringed on behalf of his friend – which one, even he wasn't entirely sure – and racked his brain for an explanation that would make Tim feel better. "I think Kon's acting weird 'cause he thinks you look hot and he doesn't understand that just because he finds you attractive doesn't mean he's necessarily attracted to you and it's fucking with his head," he said in his typical rush.
Tim blinked and turned his – her – face towards him. "That's…surprisingly intuitive, Bart." Which meant that he'd already figured that out, but appreciated having it confirmed by an outside source.
Bart shrugged. "Library," he said, as if that explained everything.
And, well, the reading of the entire San Francisco Library probably had explained most things – to Bart.
His face scrunched up in a frown, and Bart's voice warped into the register of chagrined. "Although, I probably wasn't supposed to tell you that." Kon would be mortified if he knew Tim knew that he thought Tim was hot as a girl – though Tim knew everything, so maybe it wasn't so bad.
"I promise not to let Kon know," Tim said solemnly.
Looking at Tim hopefully, Bart asked, "Really?" Tim hated having to keep secrets. Probably because he kept so many of them, and mostly from the people he cared about the most.
"I don't really see how it would ever come up in conversation," Tim replied drolly.
Bart snorted. "True." Face scrunching up in a frown, he continued, "But I really don't get why he's having such a hard time being friends with you, just because of that."
Tim curved an eyebrow like a question mark above his mask. "You don't?"
And while it was nice that Tim thought so highly of his intelligence, being intelligent was different from being smart. "Well, I mean, he was friends with Cassie before they started dating, and he's still friends with Cissie and Greta, and he doesn't even act so weird around Kory, so I don't know what his problem is." Bart pouted; he didn't like having to divide his time between his friends, but he liked it even less when he had to actually choose between them.
"There's a difference between people you like and people you like," Tim replied after a moment. "When the line blurs between the two, things get confusing."
"The line can't be all that blurry," Bart argued. "I mean it's not like you're a completely different person or anyth– That's it, isn't it?" he realized, staring with unseeing golden eyes at the Bay, before turning to Tim. "The others are seeing you as a completely different person, when you really aren't."
Mouthing twisting up into a humorless smirk, Tim nodded his agreement. "It probably didn't help that Gar insisted on having a barbeque around the pool, and Cassie insisted on loaning me a swimsuit." His regular swim trunks were too large, and, well, he did need to wear something on top. The suit she'd loaned him had been a plain black one-piece, with a zip-up collar, the kind worn by serious competitive swimmers, so that mollified him slightly. He – she – had actually looked pretty good in it, even if he hadn't filled it out quite as well as Cassie might have.
But Kon had been so distracted by the sight of Tim in that suit that he'd accidentally knocked Cassie into the deep end of the pool. That's when things started going downhill. Even when Tim put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, Kon had still been so weirded out he'd accidentally backed up into Cassie, the momentum knocking her – rather painfully – into a tree. By the end of the day, Cassie had stopped pestering Tim to let her paint his toenails, and had started glaring at him/her whenever he appeared.
And Tim had started avoiding everyone.
"I wonder how everyone would react if you wore a dress?" Bart asked, and he actually did want to know. But considering how Tim had complained when he had to dress up as a female medical student, Bart knew it would never happen; the little skirt on the girl Robin's uniform was as close as Tim would get to really dressing like a girl.
Tim eyed him with an odd mix of amusement at the question and disdain for the very idea. "Probably even weirder than they already are. None of them seem to understand one simple fact: I'm currently – and temporarily – female, Bart. That doesn't mean that I'm automatically feminine," he stressed.
Bart thought about that for a few minutes of subjective time. "Sex as opposed to gender?" he asked uncertainly, because he'd really just skimmed if not outright skipped over the psychology section of the library. None of the theorists agreed with each other, everybody had different ideas about what was 'right' and 'wrong,' and it was all very confusing.
Tim nodded. "Essentially." He sighed, kicked at the building and turned to look out across the Bay. "I find it odd that Kon was more…intrigued…by the sight of me in civilian clothes than by Cassie in her bikini." Despite the tightness of her Wonder Girl costume, Cassie generally tried to dress modestly, and whenever she didn't, Kon-El made certain he had a front row seat for the view.
"That's probably because Kon's already seen Cassie naked, I mean they have been having sex for–" Bart cut himself off, flushing redder than his Kid Flash uniform. "Oops… Er…I wasn't supposed to tell you that, either." Considering how Wonder Woman had reacted when she caught Kon and Cassie just kissing, if she knew what they'd gotten up to, Kon would soon find himself dieing a slow Kryptonite-laden death.
Tim just shook his head, amused. "Don't worry, Bart; I'd sort of figured it out for myself already." Cassie could be the soul of discretion – but Kon-El was still learning all the meanings and nuances of subtlety.
And he'd never really kept his guard up around people he considered friends.
Bart gave a long – subjective time-wise – heartfelt sigh of relief. "Yeah, I thought you might've."
A companionable silence settled over them for a few minutes, while Bart wracked his brain trying to come up with something to cheer Tim up. Robin was putting on a brave face, but Bart could tell that the whole situation still bothered him – and why wouldn't it? He, the 'human hummingbird on crack' as Gar facetiously called him, wasn't exactly at the top of anyone's list to be their own friend.
Even if maybe Tim was at the top of his list.
It was at that moment that Tim shifted slightly and turned towards him. "Do you–" Tim started hesitantly. "I mean, it's not that I'm not grateful that you're here, Bart, but don't you want to spend time with the others, too?"
Shrugging, Bart said, "Gar and Vic went to a movie, Kory's off at a photo shoot, Raven is trying to wade through Macbeth for her English class, Mia isn't here this weekend, and Kon and Cassie haven't unwrapped themselves from each other since they got here." He made a noise of disgust at this last, and kicked his boot against the side of the building. It wasn't that he wasn't happy for his friends, or resented their relationship taking time from his friendship with Kon way, he just…envied them their closeness.
Tim looked nonplussed. "Considering how mad Cassie was with Kon yesterday…" He shrugged. "I find that…odd…to say the least."
"Kon's being real mushy with her," Bart informed him. "To try and make it up with her, I think. I went by his room to see if wanted to play videogames with me, and you should have heard some of the stuff he was saying. Yuck!" He grimaced. "It sounded like he swallowed the Harlequin romance section of the library." After the first dozen novellas he'd read, he'd skipped over the rest of them. The plots – when there were any – just seemed to repeat each other and they were none of them very interesting to begin with.
Unable to hold back a laugh, Tim tried in vain to cover up the sound; most probably because with his new, higher voice it sounded like a girlish giggle.
Bart didn't mind; he liked making people laugh. Especially Tim; he didn't do it enough.
Finally managed to regain control of himself – rather, herself – Tim said, "It seems Kon's already learned the cardinal rule of relationships."
"What's that?" Bart asked curiously.
"'The girl is always right,'" Tim quoted, most probably Nightwing, considering.
Bart frowned as he thought back over some of the other things he'd heard from Kon and Cassie. "For Kon's sake, I hope not."
Tim cocked a brow at him in lieu of a question.
"Well, it's just that Cassie thinks you're better looking than her now, which I think is stupid, because I think you've always been good looking – you just look like a girl now, and– I'll shut up now." Bart bowed his head miserably, face flaming. So this was what it felt like to die of embarrassment.
Tim choked, and then smirked. "No, please, do go on. I don't get complimented nearly enough."
Well, maybe he'd just end up in a coma of embarrassment. And Tim was being sarcastic, but he also kinda wasn't. Batman certainly wasn't the kind of person to give compliments 'just because.' It wasn't like he could embarrass himself more by telling Tim, this…could he? "I…well, I'm attracted to you – though I was attracted to you before. But I still think you're hot." Bart flushed and vibrated in place at the flustered look on Tim's face. "I probably wasn't supposed to tell you that, either, huh?" he asked dejectedly.
Slowly, Tim smiled. "No, Bart. It's definitely okay."
Bart blinked, deliberately slow enough to see, and then a grin sprouted on his own lips. "Okay, huh?" And the girl was always right, right?
Tim nodded, lips curving upwards. "Very okay."
"Cool!" Bart zipped over and then Tim was being hugged, kissed, and generally lustfully mauled by a very eager speedster. Bart saw no reason to hold back now that feelings had been revealed on both sides, and he was making good use of subjective time.
When Tim finally managed to work his way out of Bart's grasp – not that he was trying very hard – he panted momentarily, then said, words tripping on his tongue, "But no more than kissing until I turn back into a guy. That would just be too weird." Especially considering how that kiss – those kisses? – had turned him on. He was not ready to deal with those parts of his new body on a more than cursory basis, and didn't want to ever be.
Bart twitched, startled, then he nodded, eyes sparkling, lips red and swollen. "I think I can handle that." He paused a beat. "Three weeks, huh?" he said, chewing pensively on his lower lip.
Tim smirked. Three weeks of objective time was an eternity for a speedster. However, he had certain mildly evil ideas involving his absent friends and a certain book Dick had gotten him for his birthday: 101 Playful Practical Jokes. "I'm sure that we can find something to do – especially since the others are still avoiding me."
Bart's confused look lasted only a split-second – if Tim hadn't been looking for it, he would have missed it – before his eyes gleamed golden. No matter that pretty much everyone said Tim was the freakiest of the Bats, he'd always be the coolest Bat in Bart's book – just for the simple fact that no one else liked plotting pranks as much as him.
And, well…Tim liked him just the way he was. That was even cooler.