TITLE: The Balance of Male and Female
CONTINUITY/SPOILERS: This fic stubbornly avoided being placed anywhere in continuity. So there. Put it wherever you like.
NOTES: Written for Fanfic100 prompt 85, She and Psych30 prompt 22, Libido. Thanks to Merfilly and Amarin Rose for the betas.
Cass kept one eye on Tim as she moved through her training routine. Strangely, although she'd seen him doing stave work a thousand times, today was...different.

She couldn't concentrate, her attention drawn to the caped figure, a strange shudder passing through her body when he got a move exactly right. She felt warm, a little tingly in her belly. Maybe she was sick?

This called for a visit to Barbara. She would know what was wrong. She knew everything.

Sliding through a final kata, Cass disappeared, leaving Tim wondering where she'd gone.

Barbara listened patiently to her halting description of the symptoms, but even though she didn't crack a smile, Cass could see that she was amused.

"This situation," Barbara said, "calls for ice cream."

"Chocolate?" Cass asked, bouncing out of her chair.

For some reason Barbara thought that was funny, too. "Definitely chocolate. Lots of chocolate."

Cass stepped back to let Barbara enter the kitchen first, then Cass got bowls and spoons while Barbara retrieved ice cream and whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Away from Tim, things seemed more normal, but Cass still wanted to know what was wrong. Experience with Barbara told her she would have to wait.

"Sit," Barbara said, waving an ice cream scoop at her. "You're making me nervous with all your hovering."

Cass sat in the corner and let Barbara dish up ice cream. There was one pause, when Barbara had to stop and assist Superman.

"Yes, I said Acapulco." Barbara scowled in the direction of the Watchtower, banging the fudge sauce spoon onto the side of the bowl with such force that little spatters of fudge hit the wall.

Cass wiped them off surreptitiously.

"I have no idea what Major Disaster is doing in Acapulco, but that's where he was last seen. No, I don't know why he doesn't have a comm with him."

Cass held a bowl under the spoon, which now threatened to drip onto the floor.

"Fine. Let me know if you can't track him down." Barbara rolled her eyes as she hung up. "I swear, the JLA would be lost without me. Literally. They'd fly around, wondering where Australia is."

Cass nodded, showing no overt signs of impatience.

"Right." Barbara handed her a bowl. "Okay, from what you've described to me, I can say categorically there's nothing wrong with you."

"Not sick?" Cass smiled and ate some ice cream, carefully apportioning ice cream, whipped cream, and fudge sauce onto each spoonful.

"You're not sick. In fact, you're healthier than you've been, I'd say."

Cass paused in her eating and waited for an explanation. Barbara was amused, the little twitch in her cheek said, but also very happy, her movements loose and wide. There was some nervous too, good nervous, excited nervous.

Barbara stared into her bowl. "I don't quite know how to explain this. Um..." She took a breath. "Do you remember we talked about birth control and you said you didn't need it?"

Cass nodded.

"Look, all the training you did as a child and well, some of the other things your father did, they set you back. But now that you've been exposed to other things, I think you're catching up."

Cass blinked.

Sighing, Barbara stared up at the ceiling. "You're horny, Cass. Uh, sexually aroused. You're interested in boys. You want to have sex. With Tim, apparently, which is both cute and slightly disturbing."

"I don't want a baby," Cass said, grasping onto the only fact she could as she assimilated the rush of words.

Barbara rubbed her eyes the way she did when Nightwing was making her mad, but Cass could see she wasn't mad at her. One deep breath and Barbara leaned forward. "Didn't I, didn't anyone talk to you about sex?"

"I read a book. It took a long time."

"Oh god. Okay. See, sex isn't just for making babies, it's also for fun. And when you are physically mature enough, uh, your body tells you so by giving you these feelings."

Cass thought for a while. "Feel like this all the time?"

"No." Barbara took a huge spoonful of ice cream. "No. Some times of the month, and when someone you want to have sex with is nearby, they're stronger. And you get used to it."

Cass ate some of her half-melted ice cream. "Should I have sex with Tim?"

Barbara's spoon dropped with a clatter and she scrabbled to pick it up again. Fear? "Most people your age," she said, "they're too young. You...I don't know." Fear melted into worry and concern, her voice slowing. "In some ways you're younger than them and in some ways you're older."

"Oh. How do I decide?" Cass was worried. In her limited experience, people had some strange ideas about how to do things.

Barbara grinned for an instant. "Be sure you check with Tim. But, well, I don't know. I didn't exactly have the most normal teenage years either."

The ice cream was now a puddle and Cass stirred it, occasionally slurping the sticky liquid off the spoon. Barbara was right. Chocolate helped.

"Cass?" Barbara waved a hand. "You okay?"

She nodded. "Thinking."

Pursing her lips, Barbara put her empty bowl on the table. "Don't rush into anything. Well, not that you tend to do that. But just...sometimes when the physical attraction is strong, it can make you think it's more important than it is."

"I want..." Cass thought. "I want to touch him."

Barbara put both hands over her ears. "Please, no details. But believe me, I understand. Just talk to Tim. Tell him you find him attractive."

"I find him attractive," Cass repeated carefully.

Barbara rubbed her eyes and muttered something about the universe and karma. "I think he'll know what to say after that. He's had a girlfriend or two."

Cass nodded. Tim was very smart.

"Any other questions?" Barbara leaned slightly toward the door, a sign she hoped the answer was no.

Shaking her head, Cass put the bowls and spoons into the dishwasher. When she turned, Barbara was biting her lip.

"Better now," Cass said with a tiny smile.

"There are other boys your age, you know. Even other boys your age in the business."

"Something wrong with Tim?" Cass tilted her head.

"No. It's just that Batgirl and Robin is kind of a bad omen." The corners of Barbara's mouth turned down, her whole body sagging. "I hope your story turns out differently."

Cass frowned, not liking to see Barbara sad, especially about Nightwing. "I am not you."

That got a smile. "God, no. Just remember: If it doesn't work with Tim, I've got the whole cape and tights community on speed dial. Maybe Kid Flash would be interested."

But Cass wasn't listening. "Oh!" She wiggled her fingers, looking for the words. "Superboy. I went to see him. Kissed. But nothing happened."

"You kiss--" Barbara shook her head. "Never mind, don't tell me. So you kissed him, but you didn't feel anything."

Cass nodded.

"Well, if it happened when I think it did, it was a while ago. Maybe it would be different now, but some people will make you," Barbara shivered, her eyes looking at someone who wasn't there, "tingle. Some people won't."

A clock ticked in the background and a computer beeped several times. Barbara listened to it, before turning her attention back to Cass. She bit the inside of her lip. "Remember, the tingle just means you're interested. It doesn't mean it's a good idea. You need to think about it, about the consequences."


"Batman killing the boy."

"Oh." Cass thought for a second. "Yes."