Summary: The meaning of names, the meaning of friendship, and the meaning of love.
Notes: The Alien Heritage scenario. The meaning of Kon's name comes from the fic The Value Of Restraint (www. livejournal. com/ users/ (two underscores) marcelo/ 73731. html) by Marcelo (www. jlaunlimited. com/ eFiction1. 1/ viewuser. php? uid (equal sign) 361). Everything else is my own invention.
Kon seethed and stomped his way into Tim's room, slamming the door behind him so hard it almost came off its hinges.
Tim blinked up at his friend. He could plainly see the frustration on Kon's face, even from his awkward position; hanging upside down from a tubular steel bar positioned across the closet doorway. It was all part of his training to increase his physical endurance. First on his list – practicing his fighting moves while dealing with the vertigo caused by having all the blood flow to your head.
It appeared as if he'd have to postpone his training.
Robin flipped neatly down from his perch, paused a split-second to regain his balance – he definitely needed to increase his training regimen – and walked over to his fuming friend. "What's up?" he asked dryly.
"I just… He's so… And who the hell does he think he is!" Kon burst out.
"He who?" Tim asked, though he was pretty sure he knew.
"Superman," Kon spat out from between gritted teeth.
Assumption confirmed. "What's he done now?" Tim asked, plopping down on his meditation mat and starting his stretching exercises. Half the time whatever Kon was upset about wasn't Superman's fault – but the other half of the time… And either way, it took awhile, and Tim thought he might as well get in some of his workout in case Kon's bitchfest was interrupted by a supervillain – again.
Growling, Kon said, "He just…I don't know why he'd do something like that, I… And why did he have to tell me, man?"
Tim shrugged, despite knowing that Kon couldn't see him, glaring as he was at the wall opposite him. "What exactly happened, Kon?" he asked, making sure to inject a bit of his command voice into his tone to help Kon calm down enough to actually have this conversation he seemed to need.
It worked, too. "You know he gave me my name, right?" Kon asked, giving him a questioning glance.
Tim nodded, and bent his left leg backward around his neck. "Both of them, right?" Though Kon had always felt similarly about being 'Conner' as Clark had about being 'Kal,' which was one of the biggest rifts between the two Kryptonians.
"Yeah, well, he took me up to the Fortress today, me and Kara, some kind of field trip to learn about Krypton…" Kon rolled in his eyes, managing to express, 'As if I give a fuck' without actually using the words. "And while we were there he gave us both lessons in Kryptonian, which Kara was really into…" he ducked his head and blushing, muttered, "And last time I wandered off in the Fortress, I kinda ran into this…thing…from his zoo and got glued to the wall with some sort of green goo, so…" He shrugged abashedly. "I stayed put."
Tim nodded, allowing his smirk to descend from his eyes and lurk around his lips as he switched his left leg for his right.
"Anyway, we somehow got onto the topic of names, and…" Kon's hands clenched into fists at his side. "And you know how 'El' means 'of the House of El,' right?"
Tim nodded – perfunctorily, since his neck was prevented from moving by his knee. He did know. Of course, Kon hadn't told him – he'd read it on the Batcave's computers – but Kon was right in his assumption that he did know.
Kon nodded absently and went on, "Well, Kara's name means 'She who is joyful,' which, well, it fits her, and 'Zor-El' means 'aligned with the House of El.' 'Kal' is, like, the Kryptonian equivalent of 'Alexander,' which means–"
"Defender of mankind," Tim broke in, removing his leg from around his neck. How…very fitting, in a maudlin sort of way.
Kon's nod was sharp, quick, and full of anger – much like his words when he was talking about Kal. "Only in this case it's Kryptoniankind…or whatever." He bit his lower lip, hard, hard enough to break the skin, though it healed before the blood could do more than well up.
"What does 'Kon' mean?" Tim asked carefully, stretching his arms out above his head. He had a feeling the answer would illuminate why Kon was so upset.
Making a noise like that of a rather pissed off panther, Kon kicked gently at the wall in frustration. "It means, 'He who is a gift,'" he said angrily. "And not just any gift; it's like, supposed to be, 'He who has made a gift of himself,' like, like…a slave to his master or something!"
Tim was never more thankful that he was a quick thinker than when Kon was upset (or when Bart was living up to his old codename of 'Impulse,' but that was happening less and less of late). "Or like a student to his teacher?" he offered, arms stilling at his side. He needed to devote more of his attention to Kon, considering how upset he was.
"But Clark's never taught me anything!" Kon exploded. "Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, and bubkis!"
Which was the real8 crux of the problem, Tim knew. The lack of time Superman spent mentoring Superboy was nothing compared to the lack of father-son bonding time Clark spent with Kon.
"He didn't even tell me anything about how to deal with my – with his – powers," Kon continued, pacing angrily across the floor. He kept having to dodge around furniture, though, so finally floated off the floor and started 'pacing' there. "Uncle Jon, or Aunt Martha – or hell, Kara one time – had to do that. It was always someone else in the family. Not him."
That it should have been, at least in some instances, was left unsaid, but still understood.
"Superman is very busy," Tim said diplomatically, though inwardly he agreed with Kon about Kal's lack of paternal ability. Clark Kent had had one of, if not the world's best role-models for such a position and should have done better with Kon, despite being weirded out by his origins. "Your Aunt, Uncle, and…cousin…are less so." And Kon lived with the elder Kents, with Kara visiting every weekend, while Clark, caught between his work with at the Daily Planet and his work with the Justice League, was lucky to make it to Smallville once a month, if that.
Kon deflated, descending slowly from mid-air until his feet hit the floor, then slumping until he was sitting against the wall next to Tim. "I know, it's just…Aunt Martha always says that you make time for the important things, and I just…" Kon's sigh was heavy, gusting out in a disappointed breath. "I guess I just wish I was important to him."
That Superman was important to Kon was nearly palpable. Superman was who Superboy had always wanted to be. Had been created to be.
Tim…didn't know what to say to that. What could he say? Nothing; at least, nothing that would make Kon feel better – without being a blatant lie. "Well, as a superhero, you are a gift to everyone you save." He could, however, try to cushion the blow. Try being the operative word there.
Kon toed half-heartedly at the carpet, stopping with a grimace when he saw that he had accidentally started to dig yet another hole in it. That happened every time he came to bitch to Tim about Superman, and Tim's carpet now resembled Swiss cheese. "Yeah…I guess." He turned pained blue eyes on Tim. "But I still think it's whacked that he calls me a gift when he doesn't even want me around."
Tim just looked at Kon; he knew what to say now. "Well, you were the best gift I ever received," he said softly.
Kon blinked at his boyfriend, dumbfounded. "Huh?"
Rolling his eyes, Tim's lips quirked up in a half-smile, and he said bluntly, gently, "I love you, Kon."
"Oh! Um… I…" Kon swallowed and licked his lips, a blush blooming like roses on his tanned cheeks. "You too," he finally blurted out. "I-I mean, I love you, too."
Tim gave Kon the other half of the smile and pressed a long, lingering kiss to his lips. "Best gift ever," he reiterated in a murmur.
Kon's expression was almost goofy in its happiness. "You too, man. You too."