Just Like You: Part 5/?
Summary: Tim-as-Robin nearly kills a man on patrol. This is a story about repercussions.
Characters: Tim and Kon this chapter.
Tim wakes suddenly and silently, with the practice that comes from working with someone so paranoid as Batman. His eyes are still closed, his breathing still even– his heart barely skipped a beat. Only here, now, he is completely aware of his circumstances, hyperaware of every shift and change in the air.
There’s someone here.
The muscles in Tim’s fingers contract, minutely, bracing around phantom batarangs. He takes another moment, a split second, to feel sure of the position of his emergency knife before he’s rolling upright to lunge, lightning-fast, at his would-be attacker.
“Whoa whoa, Tim!”
He freezes, knife-point resting on the soft skin of a throat. The intruder lowers a defensive arm, teeth showing in a feral grin, and says, “Dude. You could’ve just said ‘hello’.”
Tim’s eyes widen. “Superboy?”
“Yeah, Rob, it’s me,” the meta says. Then, “Wanna do me a favour and drop the knife? Kinda afraid of making any sudden moves here, bud.”
Tim complies but doesn’t back off. “Why didn’t you just wake me?” he demands, less leader and more best friend who just woke up.
Kon raises his hands, palms-out. “I was about to, yeesh. I was trying to figure out how to do it without alerting your Bat Emergency Attack signal.”
“That worked well for you,” Tim says drily, and finally takes a step back, crossing his arms. “Want to tell me what the hell you’re doing here?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing. You know the Bat has some pretty sweet digs, right? And you’re slumming it in this… place,” Kon says, looking around and wrinkling his nose.
Tim shrugs, silhouetted against the window. “It has a roof. It’s relatively secluded. It provides me with ample warning if someone tries to sneak up on me.”
“You ever thought about going into real estate?” Kon asks, at the same time as Tim says,
“And you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Dude, none of those were close to an explanation as to why you’re sleeping in some dodgy Gotham warehouse instead of at home,” Kon says, hands on hips. Meeting his best friend’s gaze, his hands drop to his sides. He looks uncharacteristically hesitant when he asks, “He kick you out?”
“I kicked myself out,” says Tim. “Preemptively.” Unnecessarily, he adds, “We fought.” He would never usually be so upfront, even with Kon, but he’s exhausted, sore from sleeping in the cold on a hard floor, and he gets a gut-sinking feeling whenever he tries to think about the future.
Kon, usually oblivious, is looking at him appraisingly, and for one of those rare moments, Tim feels as though the kryptonian is looking right through him. To change the subject, and also because he still wants to know, he says, “Your turn.”
Kon shrugs. “You called me. Talking in your sleep, I guess.”
Tim frowns. “I don’t usually–” he begins, and breaks off with a scowl. It’s a goddamn stress response.
“Anyway,” the super says cheerfully. “Must’ve been a nightmare or something, you sounded scared as hell. I thought you were on patrol, so I was gonna heroically leap into the fray and save your skinny ass.”
The smaller teen stares for a moment then lowers his gaze, tries to sound nonchalant. “Well, sorry for the trouble. And, y’know, thanks.” He pauses. “It’s the thought that really counts in ass-saving.”
Kon doesn’t laugh.
He glances up after a moment, sees Kon’s stare and raised eyebrows in the pale moonlight. Tim musters up a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes (he misses his mask). “Sorry I interrupted your night, Kid. But as you can see, there is no fray. I don’t need any assistance, so you can–”
But Kon’s already picking up his backpack and stuffing his book back inside (muttering “you’re such a nerd” as he does). He slings it over his shoulder and steps closer to Tim.
“C’mon. You aren’t sleeping here.”
Tim knows the look Kon’s giving him, and he’s too tired to stand his ground right now. He gives a tiny sigh and drops his shoulders and Kon smiles and drags him out the door.
They’re somewhere up in the dark clouds, Kon’s hand warm and loose on his hip. Neither of them speak. For once, it seems, Kon appreciates the value of silence.
Tim is grateful, in an abstract way, but he’s too lost in his thoughts to go into it much further. He’s tired, weary deep in his bones, but his head is whirling with so many (–scenarios, disasters, what-ifs, batmanbatsdadbruce pleasedon’tsendmeaway–)thoughts, he feels he may never sleep again. He doesn’t want to, can’t, apologize (Bruce doesn’t want his apologies, that much is clear), but without Bruce… he’s nothing.
He realizes that he’s shivering, has been for a while. Kon seems to notice it too, giving a guilty start and drawing him closer, an arm tight across his back.
“Shit, dude, I didn’t even think,” he says. “I can fly lower if you want?”
“Don’t bother,” Tim tells him, but does press a bit closer, because Kon is a goddamn radiator. “Civvies aren’t as insulated as the uniform.”
Some indeterminate amount of time later, Kon’s whispering, “Dude, are you asleep?”
Tim pinches his side. Hard.
“Okay okay! You’re being more creepy quiet than usual is all, and you stopped moving. Anyway, should just be another couple minutes, hold tight.”
“Kon,” Tim says, after a few moments. “Are you seriously hugging me right now?” Kon’s arms had shifted, gradually, to wrap around him completely, and his head is tucked neatly under the super’s chin.
There’s a pause. It’s only a little awkward.
“You just… you look really sad!” Kon says defensively. “And you’re all… cold and shit. Like, I don’t think you get how pathetic you look right now. I’m talking kicked puppy, Rob.” And then, indignant, like he can’t believe he didn’t say this first, “An’ we’re best friends, I can hug you whenever I want!”
“Do you want me to pinch you again,” Tim says, not a question. Against his better judgement, he presses his face into Kon’s shoulder, gripping his shirt with one hand. He’s exceedingly grateful that his best friend doesn’t mention it.
(But Kon, unable to keep quiet for long, mumbles, “Bart hugs me,” and Tim pinches him again.)
Tim wakes in the dark, disoriented and muzzy.
“Time izzit?” he asks blearily, struggling to sit up. Then, “D’I fall ‘sleep on the couch?”
“Bit after 5, sorry I woke you,” Kon’s voice answers, from somewhere near the kitchen. “Got hungry. And if you want to be technical–” he talks through a mouthful. “You fell asleep on me during the movie. Which I didn’t mind, until you started drooling.” Conversationally, he says, “You know you’re a drooler?”
Tim blinks a few times in the dark, says, “Mmgf?”
He hears Kon snicker. “You know, Wonder Boy, you aren’t so sharp when you’re half asleep.”
Tim hums his agreement, squinting absently into the dark room. He and Kon had got here late– early, even, only a few hours ago, and Tim had immediately gone to the showers to rinse off the stench of Gotham.
(Kon’s jaw had dropped at his first glimpse of Tim’s uncovered throat, had just stared for a full minute. “Did… he do that?” Kon had asked, a horrified whisper, and Tim had stared back in bewilderment. When he realised what the meta was asking, he gave a genuine laugh out of shock.
“Batman? No. I get that you think he’s scary and all that, but you really think he’d do this to a kid?”)
Tim… hadn’t felt much like sleeping, felt too wound up from the weight of the world dragging on his shoulders, and Kon (had he always been this perceptive?) had suggested they watch a movie. Embarrassingly, he didn’t think he’d lasted through the opening credits before falling asleep. He blinks tiredly.
Kon flicks on a lamp by the couch, says, “C’mon, I think it’s bed time.”
Tim flops back down with a half-aware mumble, raising an arm to shield against the light.
Kon, dropping into a crouch beside him, puts on a mocking pout. “Aww, poor wittle soldier. Got himself all tuckered out. Need me to carry you to bed, kiddo?”
Tim huffs into the cushion, sits up in a sharp motion. ” ‘s no need to be an ass,” he says, and sleepily shoves Kon in the shoulder. He kicks off the blanket Kon must have covered him with and stands. “‘kay,” he announces, like it’s his idea. “I’m goin’ to bed.”
“Goodnight, Rob.” He can hear the smile in Kon’s voice behind him.
“G’morning, Kon,” he mumbles, and heads for his room.