Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara



by Mara

Summary: Where words fail, a simple touch may succeed.

CONTINUITY: Somewhere in current Teen Titans comic continuity, but really all
you have to know is that Kon is Superboy and Tim is Robin. No spoilers here.

NOTES: In a weird way, this was inspired by Te’s stories “Dangerous to Reason”
and “And Talk Me Down Again.” Thanks to Illmantrim for helpful suggestions 🙂

* * * * *

When the battle was over and they’d straggled back to Titans Tower, Robin gave
the team his usual stern lecture, Starfire pointed out problems in their attack
pattern, Beast Boy cracked a few horrible jokes, and Cyborg left the wrap-up
early to go replace a chunk of his leg blown off by a particularly nasty laser.

Kon slumped against a wall behind Kid Flash, trying to look attentive and not at
all annoyed with the way Bart kept interrupting people and fidgeting and
generally being bratty. Try to be subtle, he told himself. Casual, even. It’d
probably be good to toss one of Beast Boy’s jokes back at him, keep up the
reputation. Joke around with Wonder Girl, who was fiddling with her lasso and
looking bored.

But his eyes kept straying back to Robin’s bruised left side. The visible
portion of the bruise stretched from his forehead down to the collar and from
what Kon had seen of the blow Robin took, it probably went farther. It looked
awful and he tried to imagine what it felt like.

It wasn’t as if he’d never been hurt, but…what with the whole Superboy thing,
he only had two modes: nearly indestructible and catastrophic injury. He had a
tendency to get knocked unconscious, but it wasn’t like any old villain could
cut him or blow him up. So it was hard to imagine the kind of injury that let
Robin walk and talk and pretend that half his face didn’t look like raw meat.

Robin and Starfire were arguing over whether the team should have spread out
more during their last attack and Kon folded his arms, looking around at the
others. Everyone else was practically unmarked–okay, there were some uniforms
that were going to need repairs and Cassie claimed fighting was hell on nail
polish, but basically the rest of them were okay. Even Cyborg’s injury, which
looked terrible, wasn’t really that serious. Hell, Kon had seen Vic fight with
what looked like half his face blown off.

Robin *acted* just like the rest of them, which made them all forget how easily
he could be hurt. Even now, with the ugliest injury Kon had seen that didn’t
actually involve blood on the outside of someone’s body, nobody seemed to even
notice. It was as if Robin was so talented at ignoring injury that he could make
it invisible to others. But that didn’t work on Kon. Not anymore.

Thanks to the intervention of Raven, Starfire and Robin finally agreed to
disagree and everyone dispersed to do whatever it was they did when the
adrenaline wore off. Robin watched them leave, then turned to Kon. “Yes?”

Face warm, Kon remembered that Robin always knew when he was being watched.
“Just wondering how badly you were hurt. You know, if you needed help or
anything.” Yeah, smooth. Real smooth. Here’s where Robin would smirk at him,
make some crack about nursemaids, and take off to beat the crap out of

But he didn’t. Instead, Robin tilted his head and stared at him for a very long
moment while Kon tried to decide if he was in trouble.

“You busy?” Robin asked. When Kon shook his head, Robin turned sharply and left
the room, Kon following a step or so behind.

Kon was watching the unusual sight of Robin limping, so it wasn’t until they
were halfway to his own room that he realized that was their destination. He
managed to get his surprise under control by the time Robin pushed the door

No surprise that Robin didn’t take him to his *own* room, though. At least Kon’s
room had personality–a picture of Superman and Krypto, a couple of CDs he’d
borrowed from Gar, stuff like that. Even Robin had to find his own barren space
somewhat gloomy at times.

Robin’s limp got worse once Kon had shut the door behind them. “Are you okay?”
Kon asked. “Should you be in the infirmary?” Bouncing on the balls of his feet,
he was ready to carry him if necessary.

“No. There’s no treatment except rest and more ice later.” Robin pulled off his
gloves and placed them on the dresser. Wincing, he unclasped his cape, folded it
with great care, and put it behind his back as he sat down on the bed and leaned
against the wall.

Kon dithered, then sat down on the bed, trying not to jostle him too much. Robin
took a deep breath, eyes shut, and became Tim. Kon couldn’t quite explain how he
knew that, but it was something about the almost ritual stripping of gloves and
cape and the lower level of tension in the room.

The silence was uncomfortable, at least to Kon. He suspected that Tim wasn’t
bothered by it at all, probably because nobody could do uncomfortable silences
like Batman. Everyone else was just an amateur.

Kon opened and closed his mouth a few times. “What does it feel like?”

One eye opened and narrowed. “What?”

A vague wave of his hand. “Getting hurt. Your face. I don’t know. Never mind.”

Still leaning against the wall, Tim turned his head to look at him, both eyes
open now. “I don’t know how to explain it. It just hurts. It’s kind of a dull

“Oh.” Kon found himself staring. The bruising looked weird, mottled, not one
solid color. He knew it was blood pooling under the skin, but the more he
stared, the worse it looked, swirls and bumps and different colors–purplish-
red, green, sickly yellow. Like little alien things under Tim’s skin, eating
away at him.

He swallowed, his hand reaching out and brushing Tim’s cheek, feather light down
the bruised skin to where the colors faded into the collar. Tim didn’t move.

Using the backs of his fingers, Kon stroked down the uninjured cheek next,
finding it several degrees cooler. Tim didn’t even blink, watching him with that
unearthly stare that meant you couldn’t predict what was coming next.

It was nice to just touch him–it made Kon feel not quite so alone inside his
skin. He started to drop his hand, embarrassed by the thought, but Tim caught
it, bringing it back to his right cheek.

Kon wanted to say something, but he wasn’t sure what. He concentrated on the
different sensations–how Tim’s fingers felt rough against his own, how the tiny
hairs on the back of his hand tingled where they brushed against Tim’s cheek.
His hand was warm where Tim clasped it, sweating, but neither of them let go.

It was an awkward position, his right arm stretched around, but Kon was afraid
to move, afraid Tim would notice that he was *touching* someone and run away.
But Tim didn’t. Closing his eyes, he held Kon’s hand and sat very still.

When Tim did let go, he didn’t open his eyes, just rolled his head back so he
faced forward again. Emboldened, Kon turned and scooted over so he was leaning
against the wall next to him.

Tim shifted so their shoulders touched lightly.

Kon responded by moving his leg so their thighs touched. The nerves on his right
side flared and it seemed as if he could feel every one individually as they
concentrated on Tim’s solid presence.

It felt momentous and Kon thought that was kind of odd, until he considered how
little touching there was in his life. The folks at Cadmus Labs hadn’t been big
on the nurturing thing, even his friends. Clark occasionally gave him a filial
pat on the shoulder or back and Ma Kent hugged him when she could, but that was

Who hugged Tim? Certainly nobody hugged Robin.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Tim’s eyes were still closed. Maybe it
didn’t count if he wasn’t looking. But even Robins were allowed to need comfort
now and then. Right?

Robin looked out for them, made sure they trained and were as safe as possible
in their crazy lives, and Tim was there when people freaked out, his calm
certainty soothing teenage angst. (Kon wasn’t certain anybody else could see the
difference, but even with the mask on, it was always Tim who dealt with the
emotional stuff.)

He kept them all from losing it, but never asked for any help in return. Kon
thought he probably wasn’t capable of asking, except in the most sideways twisty
Robin kind of way. Like now.

Kon stared at Tim’s left hand, which sat inches away from his own, resting on
Tim’s thigh. Reaching out, he picked it up and brought it to rest between his
own hands, Tim’s elbow tucked under his. Tim twitched, but didn’t take the hand

Gently, Kon began to rub. First brushing over the skin on the back of Tim’s
hand, then turning it over and doing the same on the palm.

Tim shuddered once all over and Kon stopped, listening to the sound of their
breathing, their beating hearts.

“You haven’t got any superpowers,” Kon said, his voice sounding loud to his own

“No.” Tim’s fist clenched and Kon wrapped his hands tighter around it. The
tension ran all the way up his arm and Kon could feel Tim vibrating like a low-
budget Kid Flash.

He held on, waiting for whatever was happening to pass. When the fist relaxed,
Kon resumed stroking, now running his fingers down Tim’s arm from the elbow to
the fingers. It was weirdly soothing, like petting Krypto, if Krypto could ever
sit still this long.

It was even more like meditation, everything narrowing down to the sweaty warmth
of Tim’s arm, the plastic smoothness of a long-healed scar, the fine hairs, the
way his elbow dug into Kon’s side.

With each careful and deliberate sweep, he tried to tell Tim the important

Don’t get hurt.

Don’t get killed.

The team needs you around.

I need you around.

Tim didn’t talk about stuff like everyone else did. He didn’t complain about
school or his parents or even Batman, and nobody would have blamed him if he did

All that mess had to be piling up inside somewhere, like the blood clotting to
form Tim’s newest bruises. Kon imagined every worry and bad thought and stress,
each one a hard knot of ache under Tim’s skin.

With each push of fingers along the muscular arm, Kon wished he could force all
of it out. For all his superpowers, there wasn’t a damned thing he could do for
his friend.

Couldn’t keep him safe.

Couldn’t heal his injuries.

Couldn’t make everything right.

Couldn’t even say this out loud.

Tim’s heartbeat and breathing slowed and Kon looked at him. Tim was asleep, his
jaw hanging open, face relaxed.

Maybe that was the best possible answer to everything he’d been trying to say
with his hands.

Tim trusted him, felt safe with him. And at this moment…that was enough.


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