Life Lived Like A Mentos Commercial
Summary: A day spent at Disneyland brings out a new part of Kon's relationship with Tim.
Notes: The Cross-Dressing scenario
Robin has never done anything the normal way. He 'auditioned' for the role of Robin, he studied with a female assassin to become a better fighter, and he surrounds himself with more friends (in his night life) than any Bat ever has, while still being more withdrawn than Batman (in the rest of his life).
Robin never does anything the normal way, least of all undercover work. Mostly because Robin likes going undercover, though it's really more about becoming someone else than a love of tight shirts and tighter pants.
Though he does look very sexy in them, Kon thinks.
Alvin Draper, Mister Sarcastic (the name that went with that get-up was, apparently, Butch, which never fails to make Kon crack up. Personally, he thinks Sundance would have been more appropriate. And he really needs to stop watching bad 80s buddy shows with Pa Kent.), Freddie Malone. Whichever name Tim goes by, it's just another way to get out of having to be Robin around his friends, without sacrificing his secret identity.
Even if Batman doesn't necessarily approve, he doesn't disapprove, either. Obviously and/or overtly, anyway.
Kon knows all of this about Robin, and more, which is why when a scarily sexy girl – with more scars than anyone besides Lady Shiva should have – appears for breakfast one morning, all he says is, "So, Rob, what's the name that goes with this persona?" He's rather proud of being able to use one of those five-dollar words off his word-a-day calendar (thanks ever so much and Merry Christmas to you, too, Clark), and so misses Bart and Cassie's shock.
If Gar were here, he'd be laughing as a hyena. Vic would just smirk.
Tim smiles – and does that sexily, too – and says, "Robin Mansfield. Pleased to meet you." She takes one hand off the cup of coffee she's holding, and teasingly offers it to him.
"More like Robin Mannot," Kon jokes, accepting the hand – and kissing the back of it with exaggerated gallantry. Mostly because he wants to, and he can get away with it if he passes it off as a joke, but also because Cassie is still gaping at them from across the table, and he really wants her to snap out of it before she finishes unfurling her lasso against the 'intruder' in their midst.
Robin perches – fuck, daintily – on a stool at the counter. "Obvious, much?" he asks, raising a brow. And it's so much easier to see the tease in his eyes without the freaking mask in the way.
If it is a tease. Kon knows that a tease is basically temptation with no follow-through, but Kon's wondering if Tim really is trying to tempt him – or is just fucking with his head.
Knowing Tim, probably both.
"What the fuck?" Cassie blurts out, and Kon's head whips around to face her. She sounds almost angry, and Kon has no clue what that's about. Tim probably would, but Tim is being Robin Mansfield right now, and who knows what her personality is like?
Unless he's used this disguise before, not even Tim might know.
"Today is the day that Gar decided we were going to visit Disneyland, isn't it?" Robin asks, though it's less of a question and more of a statement.
This just seems to make Cassie madder. "Why does that mean you have to dress like m– like a girl?"
Kon catches her verbal slip and takes another, longer look at Tim. Yeah, he's wearing a V-neck belly-baring T-shirt (over what appears to be a fishnet shirt), and ripped jeans (over what appears to be fishnet stockings), but that's pretty much where the resemblance ends. For one thing, the jeans are black, baggy, and ride low enough on his hips that they show off a (presumably fake) silver bellybutton ring –and Kon does not want to know what he did with his…bits…to keep them from showing – not tight and red with gold stars on them. The belt he's got wrapped around his waist is a thick silver chain, not a thin braid of gold leather. The shirt is black cotton, not red spandex, and doesn't have Cassie's golden double W logo on it; it says 'Bitch Bitch Bitch' in sparkly silver letters. Tim is wearing scuffed black combat boots, not red knee-high boots, and the aforementioned black fishnet stockings. Instead of bracers on his wrists, he's wearing a plain black watchband, and a chunky pewter charm bracelet. He's got matching earrings, and his hair is spiked differently, yet still black, not the dark brown of Cassie's wig or her natural blonde. The overall effect is somewhere between gothic punk and rocker chick, which…really works well for Tim, in a 'Walking Sex' kinda way.
In Kon's opinion.
Tim looks nothing like Cassie, and Kon nearly says so, but catches himself in time. Once Tim starts speaking, he completely forgets about whatever is going on with Cassie.
"Batman thought I needed to get better at undercover work," Tim says, taking a delicate sip of his coffee – and keeping his gaze trained on Cassie, muscles tensed in preparation for fight-or-flight.
Only their years of friendship, and the equally long period of time Kon has spent trying to figure out Tim's mood just from the expressions in his eyes allow Kon to know Tim isn't telling anywhere near the whole truth.
But Cassie seems to accept it enough to refurl her lasso, and with disaster averted, Kon can breathe easily again.
It is at that moment that Gar yawns his way into the kitchen, Vic on his heels. Upon spotting Tim – rather, Robin – Gar blinks dumbly, apparently too sleepy still to shapechange and make fun of him. Either that, or he's just too out of it to realize that it is Tim.
Vic, as Kon predicted, just smirks before heading to the coffee pot.
"Are you planning to go to Disneyland like that?" Gar finally asks, and upon seeing Tim's nod, just shakes his head. "Man, you Robins are just freaky," he mumbles before beelining for the oversized cup of coffee Vic is holding out for him.
"I'm not the one who wore hot pants and pixie boots as part of my uniform," Tim said dryly.
"You probably could have pulled it off better than Nightwing did, though," Gar says between humongous slurps of his coffee. "Your legs look better in those stockings than his ever did in the hot pants." Seeing Vic's arch look, he blushes and adds something under his breath which makes Vic grin at him and give him a long kiss. Kon long ago learned never to use his superhearing to listen in on those two when they're being romantic, as Gar's idea of romance involves explicitly pornographic verbal images.
He's completely cool with the gay thing – and even the gay Vic/Gar thing – but it's eerily similar to what thinking about your parents doing it must be like for normal people. Normal people whose parents aren't the World's Greatest Hero and his arch nemesis (with added assistance from a bunch of unscrupulous scientists). Though thinking about Superman and Luthor doing it is so far beyond being squicky it gives Kon nightmares.
Cassie blushes and averts her eyes from the two elder Titans. She, though, has apparently still not quite gotten used to Vic and Gar's relationship, even though they've been together probably longer than Kon's been alive. Then again, it's possibly just that PDA bothers her – Kon remembers that when they were dating, she'd barely even hold hands with him in public. She drains the last of her orange juice, puts her breakfast dishes in the sink, and pads out the door, presumably to finish getting dressed – though Kon's not exactly a fashionista, so yellow pajama bottoms with blue and purple stars on them might be all the rage these days.
Bart, meanwhile, studies Tim's legs, goes, "Hmmm…" then blinks and goes, "Oh!" before zipping off who knows where.
Kon doesn't want to know, so he turns back to the situation at hand.
Having never actually seen Nightwing in his old Robin uniform, Kon was unable to agree with Gar on his assessment of Tim's legs – beyond the fact that they do look rather sexy in those stockings, the open weave somehow managing to obscure most of Robin's scars. However, the shapeshifter's words gave him the perfect opportunity to ask something he'd been wondering about since he first fully took in Tim's ensemble. "Yeah, dude, I don't think 'Wing would have ever dared to wear fishnets. Aren't those chafing?"
Tim – no, it's Robin, Robin Mansfield – gives a little half-smile, and for the first time Kon notices that Tim has a dimple in his left cheek. Cute. "I talked to Black Canary and got her to reveal her secret weapon for combating chafe while crimefighting."
"In exchange for what?" Kon asks, because from the tone of Tim's voice, he just knows this is going to be good.
Tim actually looks uncomfortable for a moment, so Kon knows he's right. "She wanted pictures," he finally admitted with a rueful smile.
"Well, you're really working the fishnets, man," Kon replies with a grin. It's just an excuse to check out Tim's legs – again. "Stockings are much better than the pixie boots."
"They aren't, actually, stockings," Tim says with a weird sort of emphasis, giving Kon a wicked grin of his own. He then proceeds to roll down some more fishnet cloth from under his shirt sleeves. They look like the mesh arm bands he's seen kids at clubs wear – only there doesn't seem to be a top to them; they almost seem to be attached to that fishnet shirt Kon thinks Tim is wearing.
Kon raises a brow. "Oh?"
"Just one stocking – a body stocking," Tim practically purrs, eyes flashing with…something almost seductive.
And…fuck. The image of Tim in nothing but that mesh bodysuit is absolutely blowing Kon's mind just a little bit extra right now. And also causes him to need some alone time. Like, immediately, if not sooner. He swallows against his suddenly dry throat and manages to choke out a not-entirely weak-and-squeaky, no really, "Oh."
Half an hour later, they're all gathered together in the rec room, waiting for Gar to find his keys so they can leave. When he finally appears, it takes Kon a beat or two to realize that yes, the blond-haired, blue-eyed twenty-something talking to a metal-less Vic is actually Gar. In that whole mess with the spreading of the Sakutia virus to all the kids of the world, Kon hadn't really gotten a good look at what Gar looked like without the green.
Dude, once you did get past the green, Gar is actually kind of…hot. And Vic is really just…built.
And Kon's going to think about that – never.
Meanwhile, everyone else has noticed Gar's lack of green and Vic's lack of metallic sheen. For all of nine seconds, the place is quieter than the time Kory 'forgot' to put on clothes before coming downstairs for breakfast. Then there's an eruption of inquiries from the younger members of the team. Gar holds a hand up in the air, halting the flood of questions. "Kord Industries is trying to invent an inexpensive portable holographic technology. This is the beta version." He shakes his wrist in explanation; on a plain black wristband is a silver watch-like piece of electronics with a bunch of buttons whose purpose Kon could only guess at. "I got Blue Beetle to loan me a prototype with the promise that I'd beta test it for him," Gar explains succinctly.
And that, as simplistic as it is, is that.
Gar and Vic aren't the only ones doing the secret identity thing. Mia is just going sans mask, but Cassie's pulled out her old wig and styled it into ringlets, and Kon is using his much-loathed civilian identity. Only not entirely, because while it is fall, there's no way he's wearing flannel outside of Smallville if he has any other choice. And the sun shines off the fake lenses in his glasses and blinds his eyes, so he ditches them. But the sunglasses he swipes from Robin's room work just as well for Conner Kent as they did for Alvin Draper.
And Bart's back, with Cissie in tow, both of them wearing over-sized skater gear. That is, apparently where he disappeared to – the Elias School for Girls. He zips off and returns with Greta a moment later, and then once more, taking a few seconds longer to bring Anita, who's wearing pigtails under a sparkly headscarf. They and Cassie spend a couple of minutes catching up with each other and squeeing and whispering about other girl-type stuff – dragging a not-entirely-reluctant Mia into their confab – before Gar herds them all out the door like he's a mother hen and they're his chicks. Gar's chiding tsks even sound like clucking.
That's…pretty much an accurate impression. But it's also a damn disturbing image, and one Kon is going to do his level best to forget, along with the time he accidentally got an eyeful of Bart naked in the locker room, and the time he walked in on Aunt Martha and Uncle John making out in the toolshed.
And anyway, it's time to load up the newly modified T-van and head out.
It's one hour, two migraines (Gar and Cassie, though she's probably faking since her powers don't let her get stress headaches), three food outbreaks (all Bart's, and he's now covered in fake cheese food from his Cheetos and slurping down yet another Zesti), and four threats of, 'If you don't quiet down, I'm going to turn this car around,' (from Gar, and he is so Mister Mom) later, and they're finally in the parking lot of Disneyland. They may have left early – it isn't even eight-thirty – but already there are tons of cars around, and Kon has to use his super-vision to see the gate.
They pile out of the car, the girls doing last-minute make-up and hair checks while Gar locks the car. Kon just has to put his sunglasses on. Tim – rather, Robin – already has a hold of Bart's shirt, and he's pouting about not being able to zip up to the ticket booth. "But no one will see me," he promises. "I can hold your place so we can get in quicker," he pleads his case to Gar, blinking wide golden eyes.
Kon worries for a minute that maybe they should have made Bart wear sunglasses, too.
Gar looks at Vic, and they exchange one of those married people speaking glances that convey an entire paragraph with one look – just like the ones that Ma and Pa Kent are so good at. "Alright," Gar finally allowed. "But make sure no one does see you, right, Kid?" he warns, purposely emphasizing his last word. All it takes to get Bart to curb in his impulsive behavior these days is mentioning that he's now Kid Flash. It only works when Bart's willing to be convinced, and the subject doesn't involve Wally, but it's a big help considering that it's Bart.
Bart nods not-quite-too-fast, Robin lets him go, and he zips away. Kon can barely even see him move, so most likely no one else will.
Five minutes later they all catch up to Bart, who's bouncing on his toes to try and see the beginning of the line. Luckily, none of the ticketers are new, and the line moves quickly – thought never quick enough for Bart. Soon, Gar has paid for their tickets (and how he managed to convince Batman that this was a good use of their expense account Kon will never be able to figure out), and is handing them out.
After everyone agrees to meet in The Enchanted Tiki Room at noon for lunch, they split up; Vic and Gar go off to enjoy a romantic afternoon goofing around the park (and avoiding their teenager charges), Bart zips off to try and find something that goes his speed, and Cassie, Cissie and Greta drag an only mildly protesting Mia along with them to have a girls' outing.
Which leaves Tim with Kon – just the way he wanted it. He couldn't have planned it better if he'd tried.
"So…where to, m– Robin?" Kon asks, remembering at the last moment to play into Robin's role. Whether or not they actually use it, he knows Tim probably has a plan for maximum efficient enjoyment of the park. Which basically translates into normal people speak as a way that they can pack the most fun into the afternoon, but Tim would never say that.
Tim likes having fun just as much as the next guy. It's just that Robin is severely repressed, and tends to bleed over into all other aspects of his life.
Tim – no, Robin – smirks at him, a flash of white teeth against crimson lips. "Why don't we just go where the mood strikes us?" he – no she – suggests.
Apparently Robin Mansfield is an incurable flirt.
Kon can so go with that.
So he and Robin wander down Main Street and end up in Frontierland. Space Mountain was interesting, but even Disneyland's largest rollercoaster doesn't stack up well next to being able to fly. They skipped the Indiana Jones ride because Kon had never seen the movies. Neither of them had seen the movie The Swiss Family Robinson, but they trekked through the treehouse anyway.
"Y'think we could make something like this out of those trees next to Kory's garden?" Kon asks, ducking under a fake palm frond in his path. Kory had planted her garden next to a thatch of oaks and elms, using the trees as a sort of privacy hedge so that innocent passersby wouldn't get into her troublesome, yet pretty, flowers. There were enough of them that he was sure using a few to build a little fort wouldn't thin them too much.
Tim considers the proposition for a moment, studying the construction of the treehouse intently. "Out of real trees?" He bites his lip in thought, and then shakes his head. "Not and have it stand up to all the roughhousing that goes on. And it would never support Vic's weight."
"But…" Kon prompts, since he knows Tim always has a solution for everything – and if he doesn't, will never admit it.
"But if we used metal beams instead of wooden ones, and only used the trees as camouflage, it should be doable," Tim obliges.
Kon files that away as a project he can use to entice Robin away from his work when he was being way too Battish, and cajoles Tim into trying out another rollercoaster with him. He figures that by the end of the day, Tim will be so sick of the chaotic rollercoasters he'll quit being so leery of going flying with Kon.
Kon doesn't know if Tim trusts him as much as he did before everything went to Hell in Luthor's handbasket, but he knows Robin would rather trust a known quantity than whatever technician is in charge of all the rides.
The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was actually pretty cool, but the riverboat ride was a let-down, and the Indian Village was obviously fake. Splash Mountain was way better than anything so far, simply because Tim-as-Robin-Mansfield looked even sexier when more-than-slightly wet. Kon is extremely happy that they are incognito at the moment, otherwise he'd feel compelled to use his heat vision to help Tim out.
Kon enjoys the Haunted Mansion more than he thought he would – mostly because the cheesy holograms pulling pranks and playing jokes on the passengers remind him more of Greta back when she was Secret than anybody who's actually dead and might come back to haunt him. But also because freakboy Tim really seemed to like the ride, for some weird reason.
He always did have a rather macabre, morbid sense of humor. Comes from being a Bat, Kon thinks. Though Nightwing always makes egregious puns, which Kon thinks is even worse.
By the time they get off the safari ride – which was actually pretty cool, even if it was so very clear that the animatronic animals were, well, animatronic – it's 11:44, so they hop on board the trolley to catch a ride to lunch. They get off outside Adventureland, and walk the rest of the way.
The Enchanted Tiki Room is even cheesier than all the volcano/totem/island-themed restaurants on the beaches back in Hawaii, but the food is good, especially for an all-you-can-eat buffet. He and Tim long ago worked out how to make sure Bart doesn't kicked out for eating everything at buffets by piling up their own plates and letting him eat the excess. Anita's the only one willing to touch the pepperoni, pineapple, and jalapeno pepper 'Volcano Fire' pizza, though, and it's completely unfair that she didn't even need a glass of water afterward. She could probably even down Green Arrow's (in)famous chili without breaking a sweat.
The hostess is dressed like Megara from the movie Hercules and Cassie seethes over revisionist history and how it happened nothing like that for almost twenty minutes. But seeing Bart do an impromptu – and oh-so-appropriate – tango with a bemused Tigger makes having to listen to her so worth it. Kon thinks it could only be funnier if it was the Martian Manhunter doing the mambo with Marvin Martian.
Everyone agrees to meet at the gate at 5:30 so they can get something to eat before heading over to Epcot Center. Kon and Tim just wander around Main Street for a while as they digest their lunch. They pass one of those stalls selling personalized mouse ears, and Kon goads Tim – Robin – into trying on a pair with one of the floppy red and white polka dotted bows. He – she – actually looks kind of cute, and Kon has never been more glad for Ma Kent's forward thinking, because Uncle Jonathan's new digital camera (yes, definitely, thanks, Clark; Kon had to program the damn thing because Pa hates computers) is out of his pocket and taking snapshots before Tim can remove the ears from his head.
He gets a teasing glare for his trouble, but the teasing is only for the other people around them, and the glare is telling him that anything he can use those pictures to blackmail with? Tim can so counter with something better.
"Just be glad I didn't buy you a pair, Robin," Kon says in his defense.
"Don't give Bart ideas," Tim chided with Robin's mirthful smirk. And yeah, that gust of wind that just went by? Probably not just the air-conditioning kicking on.
Especially since they're outside.
Once Tim gets through threatening to embarrass Kon in new and inventive ways under his breath – and Kon has never been so ambivalent about his super-hearing since the time he heard Aunt Martha and Uncle Jonathan… Ick. – they head for the nearest ride. Kon's borrowed camera is once again safe in his pocket, and he's going to make sure it – and the blackmailable pictures – stays safe.
For someone who's actually been in space, Tomorrowland is not really the exciting experience it is for other kids. Kon's barely five, and he's already blasé about so many things that most people will never get to do. But then, he's the bastard lovechild/science experiment of two men who are arch enemies; he's probably never going to know what normal is like, so he figures it's an even trade-off.
A callused hand on his arm – one with perfectly applied black nail polish, and half a dozen not-visible-at-the-moment scars – jerks him out of his musings. "C'mon, Kon, let's go on this!" Robin says, giggling as he – no, she – pulls him towards a bunch of giant, pastel painted…teacups?
Well, 'Robin' is his sort of date for the day, and going to Disneyland is a normal thing, right?
The Mad Hatter's Tea Party turned out to be loads of fun – and Kon thanks every deity he can think of and a few he makes up on the spot that you can only make them spin so fast, because Bart shows up to ride with them on their third go-round. He pouts when he finds out that unless you don't have a particularly strong stomach, you can't actually make the cups spin fast enough to make someone throw up.
Kon doesn't even want to know why Bart wants them to.
Tim and Kon escape from Bart when the girls show up to take a spin, and they end up near Cinderella's castle, so they get in line for the boat ride around the moat. There seem to be a lot of couples in line for it – must be a Disney version of the Tunnel of Love – so Kon drapes his arm over Robin's shoulders. He doesn't really need to – most people would assume they were together anyway – but opportunity is knocking, and he is damn well going to answer the door and invite it in for tea and crumples. Or whatever those weird croissant-type dessert things are.
Tim – rather, Robin Mansfield – doesn't even bat an eyelash, and actually cuddles up to Kon, which is really, really nice.
Kon knows that he likes Tim as way more than a friend. In fact, he knows that he kinda sorta maybe loves Tim. And since love is something not even the greatest intellects of their time can seem to define, it's a pretty scary concept, looming large and impossible in his mind. Tim isn't scary, though. Robin is, but more in a, 'If I have to kick your ass to keep you safe, I will,' way, which is actually pretty reassuring, considering what happened with the Evil Mastermind who acts like the President last year.
It's…comforting, in a warped way, to know that Robin looks out for them. That Tim does. He looked pretty good with a buzzcut, but for obvious reasons, Kon's trying to grow his hair out again. And he's facing scary concepts head-on now, simply because ignoring them has thus far proven to be a bad idea.
The little swan boats are small enough that Kon doesn't even bother making up a mental excuse for why they just have to sit close to each other. Close enough that they're a breath away from almost touching. Five minutes into the ride, Kon gives in, and sort of nudges Tim closer to him – into his arms – using his TTK. He tries to be stealthy about it, make the boat rock Tim into him, but the amused look Tim shoots him lets him know that in or out of costume, Robin knows everything.
And apparently doesn't mind snuggling with him, if the fact that Tim's leaning against him, his breath currently ghosting across his cheek is anything to go by.
Kon decides right then and there that no matter how hokey Disneyland is, the moniker 'Happiest Place on Earth' is so very true.
It's not until half-past eleven that they finally make it back to the Tower, because after Epcot, Bart had talked Gar into taking them to Baskin Robbins. They'd had this special on a sundae made with one scoop of all thirty-one different flavors of ice cream, and a serving of all the different toppings. If one person ate it by themselves, then they got it free.
Bart ate two, and after the management got through with their hysterics, they put his picture on the wall. He'd also bought mouse ears for everyone, as predicted, and had handed them out while everyone ate. He'd even been smart enough not to get Tim a pair with a polka dotted bow. Gar's pair, however…
Well, at least Vic seemed amused.
Kon hadn't even known they made them with green bows.
But now they're back at the Tower, and as Tim – Robin – brushes by him on his way to his room, Kon starts to think about how many – well, liberties – he's taken with Tim's person today. He's touched Tim more in the past six hours than he has in the past six months. And yeah, Tim's Robin, part of the Touch-Me-Not Batclan, but he's also the most laid-back Bat ever, the abnormal one of the colony, as it were, and…
They used to touch more. Pats on the back, punches on the arm, bumping into each other in the kitchen as they vied for the first cup of coffee, or brushing against one another while sitting on the sofa sharing popcorn and watching bad ninja movies.
And yeah, part of the moratorium on touching of late started as Kon's fault, because he couldn't handle being near anyone after the whole Luthor brainwashing thing – he gave Bart a concussion. He knocked Cassie unconscious. And he broke Tim's arm. So no, he's not getting over that anytime soon. – but while Kon eventually started touching people again, Tim…didn't. And Kon gets that that's because of the War Games things and losing his father and his girlfriend – ex-girlfriend? friend? – the Spoiler who was only Robin for barely a minute, but…
Tim's been pretty much letting Robin deal with all his problems. And the undercover disguise thing today was just more of the same.
Kon knows Tim. Robin. Whoever. He knows how he thinks (sometimes). But that doesn't mean he understands him, or why he thinks the way he does. And Kon's pretty sure that the only thing worse than Tim not returning his feelings would be Tim only going along with it because it means he wouldn't have to make a freaking decision about his own feelings.
So when Tim shows up at his room that night – Tim, not Robin Mansfield, or even just plain Robin – Kon is, quite reasonably he thinks, worried about his friend. Tim looks alright – but looks are often deceiving when it involves a member of the Batfamily.
Tim's wearing a pair of baggy black pajama pants with the Bat logo on them – a Merry Unbirthday gift from Bart after he got finished reading Lewis Carroll (which was probably why he was so enamored of the Tea Cups today); Kon's had been a pair of boxer shorts with the S-shield on them, and he didn't want to know how Bart knew either of their sizes – a black tanktop, and…
…Robin's jewelry? The earrings and the bellybutton ring, at least. And now Kon wonders if they are real, because he's knows you're not supposed to take piercings out for six weeks, and why else would Tim have left them in?
He had meta healing on his side, but the scientists had still insisted on the full six weeks for his piercing, which Kon thought was whacked, because it wasn't his idea to pierce his ear.
Though, it does look pretty cool.
And so does Tim.
"Hey, Kon," Tim says, jumping up a little to perch on his desk. His legs swing back and forth like Robin's did when 'she' sat on the edge of the observation tower at Epcot, his swaying slightly with the motion and making his shirt ride even farther up his stomach.
Is Tim trying to break his brain? "Hey, Tim," Kon says. It comes out really husky, and he clears his throat, trying to disguise his want. It's probably not going to work, but he has to try. "What's up?"
"Just…wanted to hang out," Tim says, and the lack of surety in his voice is all Tim.
"Cool," Kon says, because he really doesn't know what else to say, but he doesn't want Tim to leave.
Tim smiles slightly and hops up to sit cross-legged on Kon's desk. As long as Tim does things like that, Kon will never get a second chair for his room.
Tugging the first and only chair up to his desk, Kon sits in it. "Hey, are those piercings real?" he asks, because, well, he wants to know. And he can't think of another conversational topic that isn't at least subtitled: Why Are You So (Much More) Fucked Up (Than Usual)?
Even if Tim would answer, Kon's not entirely sure he'd want to know. Knowing means doing, and while he wants to make Tim feel better, he's never been quite sure how to go about that.
Meanwhile, Tim has given him that little mouth twitch that's half Robin's smirk, and half Robin Mansfield's coy smile. "Wouldn't you like to know?" he says teasingly.
But Kon has been dealing with Bart 'Literal, No, Literally' Allen for just as long as Tim has, and he knows how to handle this. "Yes, that's why I asked," he replies with Pa Kent's patented, 'Yes, indeed, city slicker, that there mooing bovine is indeed a real cow,' mildness.
Tim snorts, but otherwise remains silent.
"C'mon, man," Kon cajoles. He pauses a beat, and then mock-threatens, "Don't make me use my X-Ray vision on you."
Tim gives him a look, and sighs heavily, acting put-upon. "Yes, they're real," he admits with a pout. An innocent 'No, I'm really that harmless' pout that he stole from Bart, Kon is certain, and then wonders exactly how many of Tim's facial expressions are Tim's? He has the feeling the number is distressingly low, and not because Tim doesn't have many facial expressions to begin with. Tim does, it's just that most of them are made to work with a mask.
A mask which he isn't wearing right now, and Kon wants to take full advantage of that fact.
"Why?" Kon asks.
Tim shrugs. "I've had to go undercover as a girl before, and the clip-on earrings always pinched. And the ones that didn't kept falling off," he says, mouth twisting up. "So I decided to just get them pierced and be done with it."
Sensible, practical, and…so totally Tim. "And…" Kon gestures at Tim's navel pointedly.
Tim smirks, and this time it's all Tim. "That one was for me."
Kon squints at the little metal charm, and then his eyes widen. No way. Just…no freakin' way. "Dude, tell me that isn't a freakin' Bat in your bellybutton." Because if it was? No, just…no way.
Eyes widening slightly, Tim sputters for a moment, then says firmly, "No. It's a bird."
Kon smirks. "A bird, huh?" He hasn't got much control over the super-vision yet, but, yeah, what he thought was wings are actually a tail and a beak.
Tim smiles ruefully, looking almost embarrassed. "I think it's supposed to be a dove, actually, but I like to think it's a robin."
"So do I," Kon says, and then winces, because he really has no idea what he means, but it probably was a bit over the top for friends. He has no idea where this sudden temerity on his part is coming from. And yay again for the word-a-day calendar. Perhaps he should being trying out 'subtlety.'
Tim seems fine with it, however, just smiling slightly, in that way that's all about his eyes, and not about his lips. Kon thinks his lips are rather nice anyway, but that's probably just because he wants to kiss them. Kiss Tim.
And then those softly smiling lips thin and press together, a hard look coming over Tim's face. Tim's hiding again, not letting himself be himself for more than a few unguarded moments, and Kon…Kon wants Tim to be able to relax around him. At least as much as he ever does.
"Hey." Kon nudges Tim's foot with his knee. "Loosen up, okay?"
Tim blinks at him owlishly, his eyes the only part of him that aren't rigid from restraining himself. "What?" he asks, brow furrowed in befuddlement.
"You don't always have to be in completely control around me, Tim," Kon says. "You can just be yourself, you know?" Tim just stares blankly at him for a moment, so Kon sighs. "Quit jeopardizing the structural integrity of reality, and act your age for once, okay?"
Tim raises an eyebrow and says, voice dryer than Mars, "I think it would jeopardize the structural integrity of reality if I tried to act like a normal teenager."
"I didn't say anything about normal, just the teenage part," Kon shoots back.
Tim snorts, and actually allows himself to laugh, albeit softly. Kon can't help but join him, because Tim's never happy enough, and seeing him happy is…
It's good. Real good.
When their laughter finally dies down, Tim cocks his head towards Kon. "So, you want me to act like a regular guy?" he asks.
Kon nods. "Yeah."
"I'm not entirely sure I know what 'guy talk' entails," Tim admits ruefully, one corner of his mouth turning up. There's a look in his eyes that tells Kon he isn't really joking about that.
Kon just rolls his own eyes; there's no need to make a big deal out of something that really isn't. At least, compared to all Tim's other issues. "Well, how about you start by telling me what Black Canary's secret non-chafing formula is." He waggles his brows. "And did she show you?"
Snorting again, Tim says, "No, I haven't seen Black Canary naked, Kon." A small smirk spreads over his lips. "Although, I have seen her in her first uniform – the one that's only a leather leotard over the fishnets."
Kon fakes interest in that image and pretends to drool. It isn't that Black Canary isn't hot – especially for someone who's got to be over forty by now – but he's pretty much focused on Tim all the time now. That's how he knows he's got it bad.
"And I can't tell you, Kon; that's why it's a secret," Tim teases.
Kon pouts and makes eyes at Tim.
Tim shakes his head and tetches in response. He's obviously not going to give an inch; his word is his bond.
Kon sighs and gives up on the topic. Although, this does segue nicely into what he's been wanting to ask Tim all day. "Why did you decide to dress up like that today?" Kon asks. Because Alvin Draper, or even Freddie Malone would have worked just fine.
Mister Sarcastic would have been mucho overkill.
"To be someone I'm not," 'Robin' replies flippantly, with that little twitch-smile teasing around her lips.
Kon's own smile fades from his lips. Tim's always hiding. And maybe it's too much to ask him to trust his friends when he can't seem to trust himself, but… "Seriously, Tim," Kon says, leaning forward to lay on hand on his friend's shoulder.
For a moment, it's almost as if Tim has switched on the whiteout lenses to his mask, that's how much of his ocular expression is hidden. Then, like clouds scudding away from the sun, the expression is back – revealing nothing. "Are you aware of how you acted towards me today?" Tim asks, seemingly innocuously.
Tim's only half-using his Robin voice, but Kon is still compelled to answer immediately. As a bonus, he gets another chance to show off his new vocabulary. "I was trying to lend…er, verisimilitude…to your disguise," he says, trying to simply shrug off his attentive behavior that afternoon. He'd done the same thing any other time Tim had dressed up – admittedly, he'd been so thrown by Mr. Sarcastic there'd been some delay in his diversion tactics – and just because Tim looked like a girl didn't mean he was going to stop.
It's just an excuse, but a reasonable one.
Unfortunately, Tim knows that logical reasoning isn't one of Kon's better skills. Those sharp blue eyes bore into him, and Tim prompts, "Was that the only reason?"
"Well…no," Kon admits. He scrubs a hand through his hair and tries not to flush. "You never let anyone touch you anymore, Rob." It's true; after the whole Luthor thing, Kon pushed people away. After the whole War Games fiasco, Tim did the same. The only difference was, Kon eventually started letting people back in; Tim keeps trying to push them away.
"I don't want to get used to it," Tim replies, and only years of knowing the Boy Wonder lets Kon hear what Tim isn't saying: that too many good things have been taken away from him (his mother, then Robin, then Steph and his father…) for him to want to risk losing more.
"I want you to. I like touching you," Kon says, and only after the words are already out of his mouth does he realize how that sounds.
"And I like you touching me," Tim replies with gentle bluntness. "But Disneyland, while known as the happiest place on Earth, isn't known as the gayest place on Earth."
Kon felt like he'd just been smacked between the eyes with the goofy stick. He's never felt so…out of whack. Tim makes it sound like he did this just so it would be easier for Kon to touch him. But Kon knows that's not entirely it. "You mean you dressed up like a girl just so you wouldn't have to come right out and ask me to touch you?" That is…seriously fucked up. And just like Tim. Robin. Who-the-fuck-ever.
And Tim…blushes. Actually blushes. And fidgets, too, eyes skittering away from Kon's steady gaze. "Not…exactly," he said diffidently.
Kon isn't about to let him off the hook that easily. "Then what, exactly?"
A tense silence takes hold of the room, and Kon can hear a clock ticking – despite the fact that the one in his room is a digital, not an analog. Finally, even Tim's legendary patience runs out.
"I wanted to see if all that flirting you did with me was just because Cassie wasn't there and I was," Tim says in a rush, and Kon reels.
"Dude, I may not be a carbon copy of Cl– Superman, but I don't make a habit of lying to my friends," Kon says. He figures Tim probably already knows Superman's civilian identity, but just in case…
It's not that he doesn't trust Tim. It's just that lately, Tim doesn't seem to trust himself.
Tim turns befuddled blue eyes on him.
"I don't flirt with people I'm not attracted to – unless it involves a case or something," he adds as a qualifier, because really? That club selling Kryptonite-laced Ecstasy that Superman had needed his and Supergirl's help with? He'd had to make out with Kara for their cover. And while he isn't, technically, related to her? So very much not the point when it comes to figuring out his family tree and who he considers a part of it. Friends-family are different from family-family, though the lines keep becoming ever-more-blurred when it comes to Tim.
"You…really?" Tim asks, and for a moment Kon's ire is riled, but the tentative hopefulness in those blue eyes cuts it off.
"Yeah…really," Kon answers softly.
A few moments pass in a mostly comfortable silence before Kon's better judgment goes by the wayside and he speaks. "Tim, I'm sorry I wasn't more clear about the whole me and Cassie thing being over, but it's just… It hurt when it ended, and neither of us really wanted to make a big deal about it 'cause it would have made it hurt more, you know?"
Tim nods fractionally.
Kon brushes a hand back through his hair. "I mean, I sometimes still flirt with her because it's habit, more than anything. I didn't even know if you…y'know…liked me like that." Kon shrugs, once more uncomfortable with the prickliness of their situation. "If I knew it bothered you, I would have tried harder to stop, but honest to God, man, sometimes it's really hard to read you. I couldn't tell if you were envious because I flirted with her or just jealous of me spending time with another friend." Kon's also never been clear on what the different between jealousy and envy actually is, so that also added to the problem.
"I don't envy her," Tim says softly, and the inflection in his voice as he says it lets Kon know that it isn't because he doesn't have a thing for him.
But it doesn't let Kon know if Tim does, either. "Why?" Kon asks, and it isn't entirely out of curiosity. Tim's so still, so still and so tense. Tim only got that wound up when they were up against some supervillain that he thought they might not be able to take down.
Or right after his father died.
Tim's quiet for a long moment – a very long moment, and Kon almost thinks he isn't going to get an answer. "Did I ever tell you how I got this job?" Tim finally asks, one hand fisting on his thigh. "Being Robin, I mean?"
Kon shakes his head, and even though he wants to get Tim back on topic, he lets it go, sensing that Tim's about to reveal something big. Some that he needs to talk about, which was really the whole point.
"I met the first Robin when I was four," Tim says, eyes hazing over with the memory. "He wasn't Robin, then, of course, but he became Robin about a year later. By the time I was nine, I had figured out who Batman and Robin's secret identities were, and I spent my nights stalking them across rooftops."
Kon chokes back a laugh; Nightwing's nickname of 'Stalking Boy Wonder' now makes so much more sense. And it figures freakboy started being freaky freakishly young.
Tim smirks at him with his eyes. "Yeah, I was freaky even before I reached double digits." And he's apparently just as good at reading Kon's mind as he always is.
Tim's voice took on a nostalgic tone as he says, "I used to envy the first Robin. I wished I could be him. But then, after awhile, Robin stopped working with Batman – I found out later that he got fired – and I thought that that was that. Nightwing appeared in Bludhaven about two years later, and then… Batman picked up this kid who tried to steal the tires off the Batmobile – if he hadn't gone back for the fourth one he probably would have gotten away with it – and he became Robin." Tim pauses to let that sink in, and then says, "I really envied him, because I hadn't thought there was ever going to be a second Robin."
"Then what happened?" And Kon braces himself, because he just knows from the hollow look in Tim's eyes that it's gonna be bad.
He knows the first Robin went on to become Nightwing – Tim had just said as much – but there isn't another male vigilante in the Batfamily. Azrael doesn't really count.
"He got bludgeoned to death by the Joker," Tim says bluntly, though not uncaringly. "And Batman became even colder than he is now, and when I tried to convince Nightwing to go back to help him and that didn't work, I offered myself up for the job." He locks tear-frozen eyes with Kon and says, voice cold as an arctic winter, "And I never envied anyone anything ever again." The guilt in his voice gives away the fact that he thinks his words aren't quite true.
Kon shivers at the look in Tim's eyes. Not because of how cold they are – he's not so dense that he doesn't realize that Tim's trying to cover up the pain he's most definitely feeling – but because of how much pain Tim's in. "It isn't your fault, you know," he says, and has no clue where he's going – except maybe out on a limb.
Tim grows even stiller, not moving even a millimeter. "What?"
"Just because you envied Nightwing for having Batman around doesn't mean it's your fault that your father died," Kon says. If he's going to go out on a limb, he might as well jump off the branch. He knows Tim's father didn't know about Tim being Robin for three years. He also knows that Tim's father finding out was why he wasn't Robin for a while. He might be adding up the numbers wrong, but…
From the look in Tim's eyes, he doesn't think so.
"What about Steph?" Tim asks, voice cracking. A single tear trails down from his right eye, another following from his left. "How is her death not my fault? She only became Robin because I couldn't be. If I hadn't…she would still be…" He's actually crying now, and Kon's never seen Tim cry, not even when he told the team about his father's death.
Maybe this has been a long time in coming, then.
And Kon doesn't know if his assumptions about Steph are true – especially since he only knew her for barely two months – but considering how she talked about Tim, and how happy she was to be Robin… "And maybe the same thing would have happened if she was still Spoiler. But if she envied you being Robin even when she was in the suit, then I don't think it would have made much difference if it was still you, man," Kon says, laying one hand comfortingly on Tim's shoulder to soften the blow.
"Then why do I still feel like it's my fault?" Tim asks, and Kon can hear the tears in Tim's eyes. He's not sure what he'll do if Tim starts crying, but he'll do something.
"Because no one wants to blame the dead," Kon replies, sucks in a sharp breath after he says it, because those words just don't just hit Timlike a metahuman punch to the gut. He'd never wanted to think that maybe Tana should have been more circumspect in her relationship with him – he knows he could have been, and he's still kicking himself for that – but the fact of the matter is, there's always plenty of blame to go around.
It's just…only the living are there to take it.
"So what do I do?" Tim asks in a quiet, so quiet voice, and he sounds so small. Robin should never sound small.
But this is Tim. And Tim's…not dealing anymore. Maybe he never was.
Kon can't not squeeze Tim in a little hug. It's awkward what with Tim on the desk, so he pulls Tim closer – and closer ends up being into his lap. He doesn't know if he's doing it for Tim, or for himself, or…probably both of them, fucked up teenage superheroes that they are. "Just…mourn, and try not to blame yourself. Because they'd kick your ass for doing it if they could," he adds with weak humor. Well, Tana would have used that baseball bat she kept in her closet in case of prowlers to beat his ass, but the principle is the same.
Tim's laugh sounds broken, and Kon can hear the tears in his voice even as they don't fall. "Are you gonna kick my ass if I get too broody?" he asks, focusing wide blue eyes on him.
Kon shrugs, and yeah, that was basically what he just did – verbally, anyway. "Hey, man… What are friends for?" After all, Tim kicked his ass – and yes, literally, thanks much, he actually got bruises on his butt from that staff of his – after the whole Luthor brainwashing thing. Kon thinks he really needs to quit dwelling on that so much; there's really only room for one brooding superhero per team, and Tim's got that spot sewn up already.
And…the look in Tim's eyes grows sharper, harder. Though a little ray of hope seems to peek out from the edges. "I don't know, Kon. Why don't you tell me?" he says challengingly.
Kon feels like all the air has been sucked out of the room, because fuck, is Tim saying what he thinks he's saying? Only probably not, because Tim is really good at talking around the lines, but Kon's not nearly so good at reading between them. But Tim knows that, so…
"I think that…friends are there for you, even when you're brooding too much and avoiding everyone, or wearing black leather and fishnets," Kon says, and his words are flippant, but his tone of voice isn't.
"Or when you're acting like an idiot and blaming yourself over being brainwashed, or wearing way too many straps and buckles?" Tim offers, and his smirk is only in his voice, but Kon can hear it, damnit. And it wasn't like he'd designed his first costume, and anyway, it was much better than those hot pants and the pixie boots.
"Exactly," Kon confirms with a grin, one hand coming up to grip Tim's shoulder.
Tim moves subtly closer, so that they're chest-to-chest and smiles back. And the smile is small, and soft, and mostly in his eyes.
But there's more to this – whatever this is – than friendship, and they both know it. "So…Tim." His voice was reduced to a harsh whisper as his mouth went dry. He swallows hard against his fear and reaches up to toy with one of 'Robin's' earrings. This one has a little heart-shaped lock on it. The other one has a matching key. How fitting. Kon wonders if he has something similar inside him…for Tim's heart. "If I were to, say…ask you out on a date… What would you say?" And he tells himself he isn't holding his breath, but that's only going to work for about ten seconds.
"Only if I don't have to dress up," Tim replies promptly, smirking softly up at him with his eyes, even as his right hand comes up to clench Kon's shirt in a near-death grip.
"No worries, man, no worries," Kon reassures him as a small, slightly cheesy, yet heartfelt grin spreads across his face. "You can always be yourself with me, Tim."
And Tim…smiles at him, a real, no-holds-barred smile. It's sort of soft and brittle around the edges, which is how Kon knows it's real. Tim leans up and presses a soft, slow kiss to Kon's lips, making Kon's eyelids flutter closed, before whispering against him, "I…I know, Kon. I know."
Kon knows, too.