Under Duress

By: Haiku

Fandom: Legion Reboot

Character(s): Invisible Kid, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Kid Quantum

Pairing(s): Brainy/Lyle, Cos/Jazmin

Rating: T

Summary: Brainy gets stressed, Cos is way too pushy, and Lyle accidentally confesses his true feelings. This could be… good?

Under Duress

It's a bad idea to push Brainy this far. The whole Legion should know by now that the Coluan is super smart but that doesn't make him all-knowing. Brainy hates to be presented with a problem he can't figure out, and he hates it even worse when the Legion is putting their faith in him and he knows it will end in failure.

Lyle struggles to help Brainy with this latest task while keeping well out of range of Brainy's throwing arm, because Brainy has already thrown several different tools in his frustration, one of which nearly clocked Lyle in the jaw. Another, one of Brainy's wrenches, went crashing into Lyle's workbench, destroying several months' worth of research and nearly lighting the lab on fire when it turned over a vat of highly dangerous chemicals onto a console board.

It doesn't help that other Legionnaires keep hanging around, trying to make Brainy work faster. Lyle can sympathize with Cosmic Boy and Kid Quantum– he's been team leader before, he gets the stress and all. But there is simply no possible way Brainy can work harder than he already is.

"Seriously, Brainy, we need this yesterday," Cosmic Boy says, like Brainy and Lyle don't already know that. He has his hands on his hips, that authoritative scowl on his face. Kid Quantum's the current leader, sure, but she has Cos handle the really jerky stuff. She's just standing behind him serenely. "You told us you could do it."

"I told you that I would try," Brainy snarls back at him, and he raises the screwdriver he's holding threateningly. "This is the third time in the last hour that you have been in here, telling me you need this damn machine done, and I know you need it! I know it's important! But you can't rush this kind of thing. I have to do it at my own pace."

"Well, your pace isn't fast enough! I'm telling you, do it faster, get the stupid thing done! I am so sick and tired of you acting like you're the end all, be all of this team and completely falling through when we really need you."

"Oh dear," murmurs Lyle.

Brainy looks like he's about to implode. It's quite possible that this is the most pissed off that Lyle has ever seen him. He jumps down from the machine they're building, brandishing his screwdriver.

"You stupid sprock!" Shit, Brainy's cursing, it's definitely really bad. Brainy never curses unless under extreme stress. "I am SO MANY TIMES smarter than you that I don't even know why I bother trying to get anything through your sprocking skull! But if you think this damn machine can be built any faster than Invisible Kid and I are building it, you can do it yourself! And another thing! You are not the boss of me! If your girlfriend has something to say to me, she can say it herself instead of hiding behind your sorry ass!"

Not good, not good, Lyle has to figure out how to diffuse this situation fast. It's going to escalate and then they're never going to get anything done and the U.P. is going to tear them a new one about it.

"You will not talk to Jazmin like that!" Cosmic Boy snaps, defensive of said girlfriend. Everything starts to go downhill. "I realize you've got no interest in women, Brainy, but that doesn't give you the right to abuse them!"

"Cosmic Boy, your damn machine isn't getting done fast enough because you gave me an impossible deadline! You're not going to get things done the way you need them because of poor planning! The planning is poor because Kid Quantum doesn't have the guts to be a real leader and you're trying to make her feel better about herself and drive from the backseat! And none of this has anything to do with the fact that I'm gay!"

Brainy lobs the screwdriver at Cos, and it's lucky the other boy has the powers that he does and can stop the oncoming tool because otherwise it likely would have gone through his eye.

The screwdriver clatters harmlessly to the ground and both Cos and Jazmin stare at it dumbly for a moment. It's not the fact that Brainy threw something at them that has them shocked speechless. It's that very important little fact Brainy just let slip.

"I… Umm… Are you?" Cosmic Boy asks, flustered. "Because I did not mean to insult your sexual orientation, I swear-"

"How is my orientation more important than my intelligence?" Brainy is a mess now, sweating and eyes blazing with anger. "It's okay to tell me I'm a failure at my job, but it's not okay to pick on me for liking men? Sprock you, you self-righteous prick!"

Lyle jumps down and grabs Brainy's arm. "Hey, easy does it," he tries to urge his friend. "Seriously, if you get any more worked up, you're going to break something. Like your head, maybe."

"I don't care! I'm sick of this shit!" Brainy is inconsolable. "I work, and work, and work, and no one appreciates what I do! It's always, 'Brainiac 5, fix the toaster, Brainiac 5, make us a time machine, Brainiac 5, build a warp drive that moves faster than Shikari in less than 12 sprocking hours!' None of you give a sprock that I haven't slept in three days!"

Suddenly, Brainy is wavering, like he's about to collapse from exhaustion. Lyle grabs hold of him as the Coluan's knees give out and slowly sinks down to the floor with him.

"Not fair," Brainy mutters feverishly. "I'm so sprocking tired, it's not fair. I can't do it right, damn it."

"You're doing your best, and that's more than the rest of us are capable of, do you hear me?" Lyle rubs Brainy's shoulders soothingly. "But I think you need a break. You can't possibly work anymore until you've had some sleep and something to eat."

He shoots a nasty glare at Cos over his shoulder. "Are you going to help me get him over to the bed or what?" he demands.

"Of course," Cosmic Boy replies quickly, moving to help. He and Lyle support Brainy over to the exam table and lift him up on it, despite Brainy's muttered objections that Lyle can only barely understand.

Brainy curls up on his side, shutting his eyes tight. "Stupid Brainiac 5 can't get it right," he whines, clutching his head in his hands. "It was easier at the Time Institute. No one bothered me there. I should really go back."

Lyle is glaring daggers at Cosmic Boy. "You know the Legion would be lost without Brainy. Why do you still insist on being such a nass to him? He's sensitive about his work!"

"It's either piss him off and get results, or be nice to him and never get a damn thing out of it," Cosmic Boy insists irritably. "If he's a member of this team, he has to pull his weight!"

"He more than pulls his weight! He keeps everything and everyone on this planet running!" Lyle knows he shouldn't be arguing with Cos like this but it's just gone too far and he has to put his foot down. "And he's right, you know; why is it okay to treat him like shit when it comes to his job, but it's not okay to say anything about his sexuality? Personally, gay jokes don't bother me all that much but if you told me I was a crappy spy, I'd tell you exactly where you could shove your unwanted opinions!"

Jazmin tries to step in finally. "Boys, I think this is getting a little out of hand," she says. "Obviously Brainy is overworked and we're not going to get the results we need until he's rested. Rokk, just let it go. You've said enough."

"Damn straight he has," Lyle growls.

"Why are you so defensive about this?" Cos wants to know, despite Jazmin's attempt to smooth things over. "I didn't insult you, anyway. Brainy's an ass to the rest of us on a regular basis, and so what if I give it back to him now and then? He's the smartest person in the universe, according to him, and he's supposed to be able to handle stuff like this!"

"Obviously, he can't! You're pushing him too far, Cos!"

"Again, why do you care?"

"Because I love him!" Lyle blurts it out before he has time to think about what he's saying. A moment later, he's blushing bright red with embarrassment, but he's not going to back down now. "He's my best friend and I love him more than anything and if you know what's good for you, you'll back off now."

Cosmic Boy takes a step back, caught off guard by Lyle's declaration. "I… I see. Well, I… seem to have made an utter ass of myself. I'll… be going. We'll check in again in a few hours. … Take care of Brainy, then. You're probably the only one suited for it."

"I'm still here," Brainy suddenly reminds all of them. "Or did you forget?"

Grife, Lyle didn't think it was possible to blush more than he already was, but he can feel the heat in the tips of his ears now. "Uh, Brainy, about what I just said…"

"I'm honestly too tired to process your admission of love, Lyle," the Coluan cuts him off. "Talk to me again in about four hours."

"Right, well, later then…" Lyle mutters.

Brainy opens his eyes again and stares at Cosmic Boy and Kid Quantum. "Goodbye, Rokk," he says mock-cheerfully. "Goodbye, Jazmin."

Jazmin basically drags Cos out of the lab. One problem solved, at least.

"Alright, Lyle, come here." Brainy props himself up and beckons Lyle over with one finger. Lyle obeys immediately, keeping his distance at first but leaning in a little when Brainy just keeps crooking his finger determinedly.

Abruptly, Brainy grabs hold of Lyle's collar and pulls him in for possibly the most intense kiss Lyle has ever experienced. Brainy closes his eyes and deepens the kiss, but Lyle is completely shell-shocked and wide-eyed, and Brainy has pulled away by the time Lyle thinks to respond to it.

"Where did you learn that?" Lyle asks breathlessly. He never expected something like that out of Brainy – and he'd been fairly confident that Brainy completely lacked experience when it came to such things. Sure, maybe Brainy knew how a good kiss was supposed to go, but he'd kissed Lyle just now like he knew exactly what he was doing.

The Coluan smirks at him rather smugly and lays back down. "Well, obviously I'm the smartest person in the universe and I know these things. But if I'm perfectly honest with you, there was a beautiful blonde in the 21st century who provided me with a little hands-on experience."

Lyle blinks, confused. "So… you're not gay?"

"Bisexual would be a more appropriate label," Brainy replies casually. "Although despite my infatuation with Andromeda and that little run-in with Supergirl, I'm more attracted to men with brains."

"You got kissed by Supergirl?" Lyle splutters.

"Oh, don't worry," Brainy says dismissively. "She was gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but after I kissed her, I was no longer interested. I think it was the idea of the perfect, unattainable woman that I was more interested in. The whole thing helped me put Andromeda behind me."

"So, you are gay." Lyle's brain is struggling to catch up with his mouth and failing.

Brainy shrugs his shoulders. "That's what I told Cosmic Boy, but I'm still more comfortable with bisexual."

"Okay. So, that kiss just now, that was…?"

"Me telling you that even though I am completely exhausted and would rather we talked about sappy things like feelings and long term plans when I'm a little more coherent, you really shouldn't have an anxiety attack about it because you are, quite frankly, the smartest, most interesting person that I know. I like you, a lot, and when I wake up and we finish this damn machine, please feel free to take me out to dinner. Somewhere nice but quiet, and don't tell a lot of people about it."

A happy grin spreads across Lyle's face. "You are so hot, you know that?"

"Of course I do," says Brainy. "I know everything."