It started with a call from Batgirl. Cassie didn't bother to try and figure out how she got her unlisted number at Elias; she was a Bat.
All Batgirl said was, "Tim's in trouble," and Cassie was on her way, flying to Gotham like Kon had so many times before.
It made her heart ache to think of it, but she wasn't going to abandon the few friends she had left, no matter how much it hurt to see them.
When she showed up at the designated meeting point, landing on the roof of an old clocktower, Cassie didn't spot Batgirl immediately. What she was preoccupied with was Tim, and what could be wrong with him.
"I'm Cass," Batgirl said, pushing her cowl back and off her face.
Cassie blinked, wondering if they shared a name. "Cassie," she replied. "So…what's wrong with Tim?" She tried not to let her guilt get to her. She should know what was up with Tim, even if they weren't on the same team anymore.
Maybe she shouldn't have left. But the memories of Kon…
"Tim is…he's planning…" Batgirl sighed, obviously frustrated, and started again. "He got…equipment and he plans to clone Kon."
Clone Kon…? "Why?" Cassie asked, and couldn't keep the almost betrayed feeling of hurt out of her voice.
"Same reason you join cult," Cass said with a shrug. "To bring Kon back."
Feeling her face flush, Cassie forgot her confusion over Batgirl's unusual speech patterns in her own embarrassment and shame. "How did you–?"
"I read body language," Cass informed her, a bit of embarrassment on her own face. "Know what people are thinking."
Realization dawned on Cassie even as she was still reeling from having her own sins brought to light. "That's how you found out Tim is…" She swallowed hard, unable to finish.
Cass nodded. She paused a beat, then said, "You both need help."
Cassie turned away from her, not wanting to listen to someone else – Cissie, Greta, Donna… - tell her she should look into therapy. "What kind of help?" she asked from between hunched shoulders, staring out over a dark city made gloomy by the coat of smog that hung in the air like fog.
A hand reached out and turned her just enough so she could see Cass once more. "Comfort," she said, then shrugged. "Don't know what kind, but…misery loves company?"
A burden shared is a burden halved, is what Diana had told her when they were both mourning Donna. That a Bat had to say it for her to hear it… Cassie laughed. It was too ironic for her not to. Then the giggles turned into sobs, because oh God, what were she and Tim doing to themselves.
And would they be so badly off if they'd been mourning Kon together?
Those thoughts kept Cassie occupied as Cass led her to the rooftop entrance and down several flights of dingy stairs. Cassie didn't even notice that they were in a nicely furnished apartment – if one ignored the obvious structural damage – inside what she'd taken to be a derelict building.
She noticed, however, when a bright flash of red hit her eyes. Tim was there, working at a computer, and when he turned, presumably to welcome Batgirl, for one moment, he couldn't hide the surprise in his eyes at seeing Cassie there. "Wonder Girl, what are you doing here?"
"Same thing you are," she told him, feeling her lips twist up into something mean and mocking; probably aimed at herself as much as at him.
Tim's eyebrows knit together above his mask. "What do you mean?"
Cassie looked at Cass. Cass obliged her unspoken request and said, "This is an intervention."
If Cassie hadn't already spent her humor quotient for the rest of the year up on the roof, she might have laughed at the expression on Tim's face. As it was, she could only manage a weak, watery chuckle. It wasn't loud enough to drown out the almost choked-sounding noise that Tim made.
"How…how were you thinking that would work, Batgirl?" Tim finally managed to ask.
Cass grinned, alarmingly wide, and tugged something out from underneath her cape. "Get drunk!" she proclaimed, brandishing a bottle of Shiner Bock. "Talk," she added when the other two just blinked at her.
Tim looked to Cassie for help. Cassie just shrugged; it seemed like as good an idea as any.
That was how they found themselves, two hours later, draped across the never-used suede couch in the living room of an apartment which had seemingly never actually been lived in. It was certainly seeing some living now, even if it was of the more drunk and depressed variety.
Tim had unwound enough – with judicious use of nerve strikes from Batgirl – to get rid of most of his costume, save the tights, shirt and socks. Cassie had gotten rid of her bracers, shoving them and her lasso underneath a chair (along with her shoes) and trying to forget how even her Gods-given powers hadn't been enough for her to save Kon.
Every time she started to go down that mental road, Cass would speak up, and this time was no exception. It was how they'd passed the hours in between drinks: telling stories and memories of Kon.
"He was my first kiss," Cass said, and her smile was wistful and sad. "We weren't…" she waved a hand at Cassie, seeming to imply the romantic connection she and Kon had had with just a flick of her hand, "…but we were friends." She sighed, and turned to look pointedly at them. "I miss my friends."
Cassie had never actually met Cass before that day, but she knew what the other girl meant. "I miss Bart. Do you know, I don't even know what happened to him after he lost his speed?"
"I heard from Oracle…" Tim trailed off, seeming to realize that he knew barely anything about his friends first-hand anymore. "I heard he got his speed back. He's the Flash now."
Trying to wrap her head around the thought of Bart being the first of them to become a non-sidekick superhero was, Cassie could only say, "That's…wow."
"Yeah." Tim kicked idly at the leg of the coffee table. "It seems like nothing's the same anymore."
"Cissie is," Cassie said, and frowned at the slur in her voice. She wasn't that drunk, was she?
Tim snorted. "She isn't in the hero game anymore. Without that, it's easy to have a stable life. Just like Anita. And…well, and Hiro, I suppose."
"I haven't seen Hiro since…" Cassie sobered, and barely felt Cass move closer to her, offering comfort with a hand on her shoulder.
"I remember the first time me and…Kon…went to talk to Hiro," Tim said, forcing the reminiscence of lighter times to try and forget the pain, as he had been doing all evening. "He loved fighting in the giant mechs."
"Are you sure he didn't just love getting to destroy half of downtown Tokyo?" Cassie asked, though she didn't really feel the joke as much as she made herself sound.
Tim smirked, and it looked more like a smile than anything else he'd worn that evening. "I'm sure that the second time we went to talk to Hiro, and he ended up in a hot tub full of naked robots fashioned after the then-current roster of female Titans, that he loved that."
Cass couldn't help but laugh at that. "Like you didn't," she teased.
Cassie had more self-control, however, and faked disgust, shoving a finger down her throat and rolling her eyes at Tim. "Kon i– was a horny pervert. Do you remember that party he threw in the Fortress?"
Cass giggled. "I liked the karaoke."
"I thought you would have liked the charades best," Tim said, trying not to remember how Bart had blackmailed him into singing We Are The Champions with him and Kon, while Cassie cheered them on.
Lifting one shoulder in a shrug, her mostly bare arm brushing against Cassie's, she replied, "No challenge."
"What do you think Kon liked best?" Cassie asked.
They all grinned at each other as best they could, then chorused, laughter ringing their words, "The dancing." Kon had been literally bumping and grinding with any girl – or, in some cases, boy – he could get his hands on.
The silence fell after they stopped laughing wasn't heavy, but it was full of weight nonetheless. Cassie leaned forward rather wobbily, placing one hand on the glass-topped coffee table for balance. The only smudges on its surface were from the now mostly empty bottle of Jim Beam Cass had pulled out once they'd finished off the Shiner Bock. Cassie took a large swig from the bottle, grimacing as she swallowed, then fell back on the couch between Cass and Tim.
Cassie offered the bottle to Cass, who shook her head. Tim accepted, though, finishing the bottle. As he was twisting the cap back on, brooding expression in place once more, Cass said sadly, "Don't think it worked."
It took a moment for Cassie to parse those words, slowed down as she was by her alcohol-soaked brain cells, but finally she asked, "The intervention?"
Cass nodded, then made a soft noise of frustration. "Was supposed to make you feel better."
"Alcohol is a depressant," Tim said, sounding almost like a Drug Ed. teacher. "People tend to drink it when they want to wallow in their grief, not make themselves feel better."
Eyebrows knitting together, Cass leaned forward and asked, looking at them both, "Then why you drink?"
"We're already depressed," Cassie answered for them both. "And misery loves company, so I guess I thought it would be easier to remember with friends."
Tim pursed his lips, then blew out a breath, before asking Cass, "What did you think would happen tonight?"
Cass thought for a while, then said, "Talk. Remember. Cry, then feel better for it."
"Catharsis," Cassie said, dredging the word up from the melancholy mire of her mind. She shook her head slowly, more of a side-to-side shuffle as the back of her head was resting on the back of the couch. "I cried all my tears long ago. Then I started to feel angry all the time and now…now I just feel drained."
Tim grimaced, then sighed let his head loll back against the couch in a half-nod. "Me too," he admitted.
Cassie couldn't help but remember when Tim made admissions like that more often. Not frequently, but he'd opened up around his friends. Cassie thought about those better times, in Young Justice and their early days in the Teen Titans. She thought about how the only time she'd felt drained then it was a physical exhaustion, not this soul-deep weariness. She thought about, no matter how Kon had made her feel, mad, glad, sad…it was always with an undercurrent of life, of a world of possibilities to explore and try to make things better. Kon had been able to make her so angry one minute, and then the next she'd want to kiss him stupid.
Cassie certainly felt struck dumb when Cass calmly leaned over and kissed her. She blinked, reflexively closed her eyes and returned the kiss. It was only when her brain restarted at the sound of Tim's choked gasp that Cassie moved out from under Cass, huddling near Tim for safety. "What in…"
She almost expected Tim to complete her sentence, like they used to in the old days, but Tim looked stricken as he stared at the two girls.
Thankfully Cass was there with an answer for everything – at least, of that moment. "She's not Steph," Cass said, and Cassie spared a thought to the night Kon arrived at the Tower after trying to find Robin once he'd disappeared from the team. He'd said there was a new Robin, a girl, with blonde hair. The memory made her think of Mia, and Cissie, and other friends she didn't see anymore.
"And you're not Kon," Cass continued, reaching out to clasp Tim's hand, the both of them bracketing Cassie. "But they're gone, and we're here. We're here, and…" She took a deep, fortifying breath and finished, "…and we can be here for each other, if we just let ourselves."
"Be there for each other…you're not talking about…" Tim closed his eyes and shook his head. "You're talking about sex, Cass, that's not…"
"Not the worst idea in the world," Cassie found herself saying, holding Tim in place by adding her hand on top of his and Cass's. At Tim's shocked look, both eyebrows migrating into his hairline like Robins on the wing, Cassie did her best not to flush. "We are alive, Tim. But both of us…all of us…have forgotten that. We're not living anymore, just…existing."
Tim shifted, half-turning away from them both, though he still hadn't let go of Cass's hand. Cassie moved her other hand so she could turn him back around, a half-formed plan in her mind. When she saw Tim's eyes, she almost reconsidered, but Cass shifted closer to her, spurring her on.
Tim didn't kiss anything like Kon. Kon's kisses had been deep and hungry, legacy of his short life spent living every moment to the fullest and relishing every moment as he did so. Tim…Tim's kiss was almost studious, like he was learning everything he could about her from that one act, and storing it away in his brain.
Cassie didn't know, when she pulled back moments later, if it was a good idea to continue. They were all drunk, even in they were friends, and tomorrow morning they could possibly feel even worse.
But the possibility they could bleed off some of their grief with each other was enticing. And the idea was affecting Tim, too, visible in his clouded gaze and puffy lips.
Cass looked at him encouragingly, and squeezed his hand. "We're here, Tim. We'll try not to leave."
Tim's eyes clamped shut as he shuddered. When the shaking stopped, he opened blue eyes fill with pained hope, and, after giving Cassie an assessing glance, said, "Maybe…maybe it's not a mistake."
Cass nodded. "No mistake. Just…need."
"We need each other," Cassie agreed, looking back and forth between the two Bats.
Tim licked his lips and nodded, and pulled them both to their feet. "I…the bedroom's through there." He wasn't blushing, but he did appear more than a bit embarrassed and unsure.
Cassie wondered for a moment if he was a virgin. She was practically one herself, still, and would have been if not for her one night with Kon. For that matter, what about Cass? Maybe this was a mistake, if only because in their inexperience they might hurt each other.
But Tim's shy smile as he led the way to a bed, and Cass's gentle nudges to get them there, and the air of anticipation that hung heavy around them lessened, if not removed, those doubts from her mind. They were friends, and would take the problems as they came.
Cassie wanted things back the way they were. But that wasn't possible. All she had was the way things could be. And while they couldn't be as good as they used to be…maybe they could be better, in their own way.
At least the possibility was there.