Disclaimer: If I owned any of them, Tim/Cassie/Kon would eventually become the DCU's first officially sanctioned OT3. Seeing as the chances of that are slim even if Kon does come back, it's obvious that I don't own it.

Mere Mortal

Cassie forgot, sometimes, that Tim was normal.

Well, 'normal' was the wrong word. She knew, as they'd known since Young Justice, that, powers or no powers, Tim was probably the least-normal among them.

What she forgot was that he was mortal.

She and Conner were not, at least, they hadn't been while they were in love. Their bodies were invulnerable, their skin unbreakable, and their strength just close enough to equal that neither of them had to worry about holding back for fear of hurting the other.

With Tim, though, she sometimes forgot. And those 'sometimes' did hurt him. He never showed it to her, never mentioned it and never said a word to anyone, but she could see the signs: The ugly purple bruise that crept up over the collar of his cape, the sprained jaw he'd told the others had come from a blotched sparring round, the muffled wince when Eddie elbowed him in the side she'd been digging her hands into the night before…

The closer got, the stronger their brief moments of passion, the more often Tim got hurt.

And Cassie hated feeling like she was on the 'abuse' end of an abusive relationship.

It bothered her more and more as weeks went on, haunting her thoughts both inside and out of Titans Tower. Eventually, she decided to ask Donna for advice. She'd contemplated asking Diana, but as internationally beloved as the Themysciran princess was, her interpersonal relationships with 'mere mortal' men were limited, to say the least. At least Donna had managed to develop a few solid relationships with the men she'd dated, however badly they'd ended – or began – they had, at the very least, gotten physical enough that Cassie expected her to at least know how to be with a boy without turning him black and blue.

Donna's advice on the subject had been simple, but, if anything, it was even more confusing than the time she'd tried to get a prediction from the Delphi Oracle. Her 'older sister' had simply patted her head, given her a cryptic little smile and said, "Sometimes, a little pain is more than worth it. For both sides."

…Cassie was trying very hard not to think about ulterior meanings to that statement. She was very familiar with the Amazonian 'bondage tendencies' as Kara called them, but that didn't mean she was entirely comfortable with it.

Besides, Tim was too much of a gentleman for a kink like that.

At least, she was pretty sure he was.

Besides, that didn't matter anyway, because she knew that the kind of pain she was causing him now had nothing to do with that kind of playing around. This was very real, very serious and, possibly, deadly.

She had to hope she would find a way to fix it before that happened.

( - ) ( - ) ( - )

It had been your average, every-day, run-of-the-mill, airborne-and-rooftop battle across the skyline of San Francisco. The Villain-of-the-Week – the mere fact that Cassie had forgotten his name radiated the mediocrity of it all – had gotten cocky early on with the assumption that 'sidekicks' translated to 'easy targets.' They had been in the process of proving him wrong when a lucky shot had snapped Robin's grappling line and sent the Boy Wonder tumbling towards the street.

He'd fallen three stories before anyone realized that he was too far out to attach another line. Cassie had been closest, and fear had gripped her chest as she dove after him. All flying heroes were trained and well-practiced in the technique of catching someone in mid-fall, but her mind had flashed to the broken bodies that haunted her nightmares, and the rushing wind roared at her ears like a living beast ready to swallow them both and, in her panic, she jerked up the moment her fingers wrapped around Robin's wrist.

It took only a forceful pull, a cracking noise, and a strangled cry of pain from Tim to snap her back to reality, but by then the damage had been done.

Immediately after the battle, Robin had been hurried into the Titan's Tower medical bay with a dislocated shoulder, and Cassie decided that enough was finally enough.

Either she and Tim would figure out a way to be together that wouldn't hurt him, or they just wouldn't be together at all.

That was why she now found herself hovering outside the closed door of the Titans infirmary, her fist hovering over the metal door as she worked up the guts to knock. It took her a while – a long while – before her knuckles finally fell on the steel with two muffled little taps. An equally muffled voice floated from beyond it. "It's open, come in."

Cassie took a deep breath as she pushed the door open, only to suck in more with a pained gasp when she caught sight of Tim. Or, more accurately, Tim's back.

She'd seen him without his shirt before, naturally enough, but it had always been from the front and under the modestly dim lights of their well-hidden make-out corners. Now, even partially-covered by the layers of white gauze that cushioned and protected the strained muscles of his wounded shoulder, the bright infirmary lights brought out every detail of his war-torn body – every pock-marked crevice juxtaposed against dark, reaching scars. In some places, fresh wounds – the remnants of other battles and other villains – were slowly beginning to heal, while certain patches of skin were so worn with scars that they looked ready to tear open at any moment.

Tim turned at the little sound and smiled the moment his unmasked eyes met hers. "Cassie."

And he was smiling and welcoming her and Cassie hated it, because she'd pulled his arm out of its socket and he should hate her for it, but he didn't and she didn't deserve it and she was crying before she'd even realized that she wanted to.

"Cassie?" Tim's voice was worried now, concerned for her, and he crossed the room to put his hands on her shoulders. "Cassie, what's wrong?"

She rubbed her eyes with both of her hands, curing the moment of weakness. "I…I'm sorry…"

"Sorry? Sorry for what?" Tim blinked and touched the bandages thoughtfully. "This? Cassie, this is nothing to be sorry about! You caught me, you…"

"Not that!" Cassie insisted, and swore again when it came out as a sob. Tim fell silent, but his hands remained on her shoulders, caring and supporting.

All Cassie could think of was how small his hands felt compared to Kon's, how gentle his grip was in comparison, and how much worse it made her feel just for thinking that.

"You…You keep getting hurt."

Tim frowned at the soft words, his eyebrows knotting together. "Well…yes, Cassie, it happens. We're in a dangerous business, but you know you don't have to worry about me. I'm more than used to it."

"No," Cassie insisted again, her hands curling into fists at her side. "With me. You…I…I keep hurting you!"

Hiss eyes widened in surprise, bringing out the blue in his irises. "You're not…Cassie, you don't…"

"Don't lie to me, Tim," Cassie looked up at him, her eyes blazing dangerously. "You know I do. We both know it, and you can't hide it from the others forever."

Tim's eyes softened, his grip on her shoulders loosening. "Fine. I get a little bruised up sometimes. But it's not like you mean to do it."

She pulled her eyes away from his and looked to the side guiltily. "That just makes it worse."

Tim sighed and finally lowered his hands, letting the injured arm hang down as the other crossed his chest to hold onto it at the elbow. Cassie shivered a bit at the sudden lost of warmth and wrapped her arms around her own waist, nibbling on the inside of her bottom lip. A heavy silence hung between them like a weight dangling equally from bother of their necks.

Finally, Tim broke the stillness with a small sigh. "So, what are we going to do about it, Cassie?"

"I don't know," she muttered, staring at the floor tile beneath Robin's right foot. "I don't think that there's anything we can do."

"There's always something."

"Then what?" She gripped her own arms a bit more tightly. "What can we do? I'm too strong, Tim, and I can't control it all the time. If I forget, even once, I could really…you could end up…" Tears pricked at the corner of her eyelids and she dug her fingers into the flesh of her arms. "I don't want to hurt you anymore!"

Tim's good hand cupped under her chin, turning her head up again, and then he was kissing her. Tim almost never initiated their kisses, always holding back like a gentleman until he was sure of what she wanted, but this time he kissed her and it felt wonderful. Cassie made a little mewling noise in the back of her throat, protesting just a little before she relaxed, her arms unfolding to press against his bare chest, and leaning further into the familiar warmth that was Tim.

When the kiss ended almost three minutes later, Tim moved back, but only far enough that he could rest their foreheads against each other. He met her eyes and grinned the playful little grin that he never wore at the same time as his mask.

"That didn't hurt at all."

And then Cassie was crying again, but it was a happy crying peppered with giggles and laughter instead of sobs, because Tim was acting like Tim, not Robin, and he didn't care, and he didn't think she should either. And it was still a problem and they were still going to have to figure out how to make it stop, but for now it was better.

And all the struggles and all the frustration and all the pain they would have to put in to make it work would be worth it, in the end.

Because there was always something they could do, and once they figured out what it was, they would see it through.