A Heart's Helping Hand

AU for sometime during OYL. Completely ignores current Titans canon.

"It won't work, you know."

The sepulchral tones echoing through the hidden cave come as a shock, but no surprise. He knew he'd eventually be found out; he just didn't know by whom.

Tim turns around, coming face to chest with Hal Jordan. Now is the time for shock. Forgoing questioning the other's presence, he asks, "Why?" He has a mental list with at least one reason for each failed attempt, for why that particular sequence didn't work. Eventually he'll come upon the right sequence to reclone Superboy.

He knows that's not what the Spectre means.

The cowled figure gestures towards the green glass tube, a frown curling his lips sadly downwards. "This is just the body; the soul is the true person."

And Tim knows this, has known this all along…but deep inside him there was a tiny spark of hope that nothing's been able to extinguish. It flickered and almost died out when he received the news about Kon's…death…but he's had this contingency plan in place for awhile, and falling back on his Bat-training has allowed him to soldier on.

With Superman out of commission, the world needs a Superboy. Or so he tells himself, when really, it is he who needs Kon.

The Spectre has appointed himself the harbinger of death and other such non-earthly concerns for the superhero sector, however. If he's here, saying this to him now…

Tim's breath catches in his throat as he feels the rest of his heart break.

…Kon's never coming back. He can't bring him back.

No matter what he does.

Confronted with irrevocable evidence to the futileness of his mission, Tim crumples to the cold stone floor of the cave, his new cape almost cloaking him from view, but unable to hide his very palpable hurt, or the tears sliding one by one down his distraught face.

He doesn't know how long he cries; long enough for all the tears he's held in since forever to fall, it feels like. Great, hiccupping sobs wrack his too-thin body, and Tim has to tear the gloves from his hands to wipe the salty traces from his face. All the hurt that he's kept bottled up inside – because Robin has to be able to work while enduring any pain – has finally been set free. And it's too much. He isn't strong enough, not without help. Not without…Kon.

"All hope is not lost," the Spectre says, and the timber of his voice pulls Tim from his grief. He opens red-rimmed eyes to find the former Green Lantern eyeing an empty petri dish on the lab table with a sort of sorrowful wonder. Hal places a hand on the dish with the current crop of cells, and a soft, smoky silver light encompasses it. He then turns to Tim, and the last Robin feels as though he's being weighed and measured by what Power runs the universe itself.

At least an angelic messenger of the Powers that Be.

"Kon-El's body is dead," Hal Jordan states calmly, though not unkindly. Tim can't help but feel his broken heart lurch in his chest. "But the soul…never dies."

A niggling sense of anticipation starts building in Tim's gut. He can barely manage to keep up his unconscious need to blink. The Spectre has to be here for a reason beyond trying to talk sense into him…right? He'd originally dismissed the idea as fanciful, though he'd hung all his hopes on it, but could Raven really…

"You, Timothy Drake, have been chosen to receive the greatest gift one being can give another." Hal's eyes glisten with tears, unexplainable sadness etched across his every feature as he reaches into his robes and withdraws a bright, shining light.

Barely able to breathe for fear of this dream ending, Tim accepts the radiant globe with utmost reverence, staring at it in wonder through tear-laden lashes.

Long after the Spectre has ghosted away, Tim stares at the glowing orb held in his cupped hands, mesmerized by the flashing images of Kon's life within.

The sandy beaches of Hawaii at sunset.

The Rayban sunglasses Kon used to wear everyday, rain or shine.

The leather straps of his second uniform.

An image of the Kent farm from the air.

A Wendy: The Werewolf Stalker marathon that he missed out on two days worth of sleep to watch.

A race with Bart, that he loses, though not by much.

Kissing Cassie, and how her lips taste like cinnamon.

The feel of his tactile TK wrapped around Tim as he rescues him from falling.

A group hug, when all the former members of Young Justice gather at Anita's house for her parents' joint birthday party.

Talking with him, late into the night, about his problems. Feeling better just because Robin had listened.

The lingering image of a worn black leather jacket with an S shield thrown over a coffin, and the feeling of tears in his throat, spurs Tim to his feet. He carefully places this most precious piece of Kon inside the indestructible case with his Superboy uniform. Souls are eternal, but this is Kon's, and he's not taking any chances. With one final long, lingering look, Tim turns on his heel and heads to the computer banks, and towards try #66. The number is traditionally the beginning of a bad omen, but Tim has a feeling that his Hell on Earth is about to end, and soon.

He has the most important component. Now all he needs to do is create a body to house the heart.

His heart.