Waiting In Place


The only time Kon ever gets called to Gotham is by Robin.

It's just that, before, it had always been Tim. Not…this girl. Whoever she is. Kon thinks her name is Stephanie, but he only really knows that she used to go by Spoiler.

He wouldn't have come if he'd known it was her. When he'd gotten the message on his Titans communicator – NU ASAP, for a non-urgent situation that needed him as soon as possible – Kon had hoped that it was Tim, warning him that he needed to get there as fast as he could before his parents returned. Or something. That maybe Tim was finally going to sit down and explain all this crap with that girl taking his place and…

…and everything.

Kon had hoped for that, but he wasn't entirely surprised to land on the roof of Wayne Towers – his and Rob's preferred meeting spot – and see her there. The costume is so similar, especially with the fluttering cape covering the skirt, and then he gets shocked out of his memories by the flying blonde hair, and…

And she doesn't look pissed like the last time they'd…run into each other. She looks sort of hurt, and hopeful, and…worried?

Has something happened to Tim?

Kon tells himself to be polite, even if he can't manage nice, and asks, "What's up?"

"I needed to talk to you," she says. "About…" And she waves a hand towards Gotham harbor, and Kon wonders if that's where Tim lives. Probably not; she's probably been told by Batman not to let 'the clone' know anything about Tim's life.

She isn't Batman, and wouldn't lie to Batman and still secretly drop little bits of information around like that.

"What about him?" Kon asks gruffly. His resolve to be nice is being severely taxed.

Steph – he refuses to call her Robin, even if she is the fourth to wear the name – shuffles her feet. She wears boots almost like Batman's, black with hard rubber tread on the bottom. Tim wore those stiff black ninja shoes inside dark green boots with steel toes and heels. "I, um…I need you to go check on him for me."

Kon blinks. She didn't seriously say what he just thought she did…did she? "What?"

Steph sighs, a sound that's both frustration and embarrassment mixed together. "Batman won't let me… Tim's sort of…grounded. Since this whole thing." She waves a hand again, this time on the other side of the building from the harbor. "And his…parents…won't let me come over. Won't let anyone come over."

Kon's never really been in a position to pass love notes to and from people during class, but this sounds suspiciously like a prelude to being asked to play mailman for just that purpose. He scowls and asks, "Why don't you just use your new toys to sneak into his house?" It's a little mean, but he doesn't even know where Tim lives, and it's all Batman's fault. Well, Oracle's doing, probably. Every time he's tried to search for the whereabouts of a Tim Drake in Gotham City online, his computer crashes. And Tim's phone number is unlisted.

Now Steph's angry, too, and also a little hurt. "Because Tim asked me not to. He's…his father knows who Batman is and won't let anyone in the cape and tights crowd near Tim. And Tim's afraid that with his father knowing who Batman is that if he sees me, he'll figure out that I'm…and then even when Tim isn't grounded anymore he wouldn't get to see me."

That makes sense; Tim wouldn't want to risk exposure. Or whatever. "And what does this have to do with me?" He has to get up and do chores before going to school in less than five hours, and it'll take half that time just to fly back to Kansas. If Kon was talking to Tim like he used to, Tim wouldn't be beating around the bush.

If Kon was able to talk to Tim like they used to, he wouldn't even be here right now.

"His father…his parents don't know you," Steph says. "You could show up in whatever you wear as a 'normal boy' and say that you're his…his temporary lab partner and need to talk to him about your chemistry assignment or whatever."

"What if Tim doesn't take chemistry?" Kon asks, all the while thinking that yeah, that makes sense. If Conner Kent showed up at the Drake's front door, his father probably wouldn't be too suspicious.

As long as Kon managed to do his farm boy routine and not fuck it up.

Steph snorts. "That's why you show up when his parents aren't there. Then you can tell him the cover story, and Tim can invent a better one before his parents get back."

Which, yeah, would probably happen no matter how good the cover story. Tim's anal like that. The idea sounds good, but…but Robin was always the one that came up with the ideas. Steph's not…Kon doesn't know if she's any good at the detective stuff.

But she does care about…Tim.

"Tim's…I know he doesn't talk to you, either." Steph looks away, and the anger's gone, only the hurt remaining. "He hasn't talked to me since he told me to stay away; but it's been months, and I…" Her eyes are focused on him again, and if she still looks hurt, she's not weak. She's determined to say whatever it is she has to say, or damn well die trying. "I miss him. I know you do, too. If we could just get him to listen, to break curfew or– or sneak out of class or something, we could see him."

And the idea is tempting. So tempting. But… "What's this 'we' crap?"

Steph sighs, and it's the exasperated sigh of 'Stupid boys' that he's heard from practically every girl he's ever been on a team with – and with good reason. "If we work together, we might actually get to him. Working separately has gotten us nowhere."

And, well, true. Kon hates to admit it, but Rob– Stephanie is right.

Just like Tim always was. Is. Will be again, someday, maybe. "All right. So what do you want me to do? Even if his father wasn't all freaked out, Tim still wouldn't go back to being Robin because you're wearing the suit now." He can't quite bring himself to say that she's Robin now, even thought she is. It's enough that Batman put her in the suit, but just like Arsenal always calls Nightwing 'short pants,' Tim is always going to be Wonder Boy to Kon.

Steph growls, and looks more than hurt, almost wounded. "I know I'm not going to be a better Robin than him," she spits out. "Hell, I'm not even going to be as good as him." And that's what's hurting her; it reminds Kon of back when he was trying to live up to the name Superman, before he accepted – albeit reluctantly – being Superboy. "But he asked me to and I can't not do this."

Kon snorts. It always comes down to Batman. Everything in New Jersey seems to revolve around him. "So just because Batman says jump, you say how high?"

She growls at him. "Not Batman. Tim. Tim asked me to take his place."

And that revelation completely rocks Kon's world. Why would Tim do that? He knows the other Titans won't really accept her; he's their Robin, and…

And Batman needs a Robin. Right? That's what Tim thinks. Knows, more likely.

Tim didn't ask Steph to take his place with the Titans. He asked her to for Batman.

Which does not make this situation suck any less, at all. Tim didn't ask Batgirl to join up with the Titans or anything, to maybe take messages from his friends to the third ex-Robin and put them in Tim Drake's mailbox. Hell, he even deactivated his Titans email account and turned in his communicator.

Kon scuffs a boot across the roof and tries not to sound as sad as he feels. "Yeah, okay. So what do we do?"

But Steph obviously knows where Tim lives, and she'll tell him, and he can go talk to Tim, and…and Kon has no idea what will happen next, but he can't just keep waiting.

Steph smiles at him, bright and wide, like Tim never did even when he wasn't in uniform. But maybe…yeah, she can't take his place, but maybe she can make her own.

And Kon's glad she called him.


THE END