Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

World’s Finest

World’s Finest

by Mara

Summary: When Tim leaves the superhero life behind, Kon and the other Teen Titans decide to track him down.

CONTINUITY: This diverges from current continuity just after Tim gives up the
Robin suit.

NOTES: This story is the result of an off-hand comment I made while sending
feedback to Te. The title is from a Spanish proverb: “Life without a friend is
death without a witness.” Thanks to Ozchick and Illmantrim for copious help and
suggestions that turned this from an amorphous blob into vaguely coherent fic.
You guys rock!

* * * * *

It took all of Kon’s recently-acquired restraint to not smash in his monitor the
first time he read the note. And the second time. And the third.

“To: thesuperkid@secure.tt.net
“From: birdguy@secure.tt.net
“Subject: I guess this is goodbye

“Please don’t try to find me.

“I’m not sure if you’ll have heard the news by the time you get this, but my dad
found out I was Robin and he freaked. A lot. The upshot of which is that I’m no
longer Robin. There will be a new Robin coming out to the Tower, someone I know
and trust. Don’t pick on her, because none of this is her fault.

“In fact, she’ll need your help, since she doesn’t have nearly my experience or
skills. If you won’t help her for the sake of the team, help her for me, okay?

“I promised my dad I’d make a clean break and I owe it to him to at least try,
as penance for all the lying I’ve done over the years. In fact, my e-mail
account will be deleted by the time you get this message, so I guess this is
goodbye. Tell everyone I’m sorry. I’m sorry it happened this way, and sorrier I
didn’t get to say goodbye in person, but we both already knew life’s not fair.

“I’ll miss you. Take care.”

Kon didn’t even have to look at his computer screen anymore; he’d read the note
so many times, he knew it by heart.

Lying in his Smallville bedroom, he stared at the ceiling, bathed in the glow
from the as-yet-unscathed monitor. Once his anger had drained, Kon was left
feeling empty.

He’d just gotten a Dear John letter from his best friend, for heaven’s sake.
Even for someone with a life as surreal as his, that had to be a new low, right?

Tim was gone. A few sentences over e-mail and he’d just…disappeared. Without a
last name, Kon didn’t even have any way to find him. He stared at the cracks in
the ceiling, numb.

He’d thought they were friends. But if Tim could drop him so easily, what had
their friendship really meant?

Tim said not to look for him, but he couldn’t let it end like this. If he didn’t
want to be friends, then he’d have to say it to his face. Which left the problem
of how to find someone when you didn’t know their last name. And couldn’t even
be entirely certain the first name you knew was the truth.

Kon decided he hated his life. A lot.

* * * * *

By the time Kon got to Titans Tower that Friday, things had gone downhill.
Starfire thought her authority had been overridden again, Bart wanted to talk to
Tim *right now*, and Kon couldn’t figure out *what* Cassie was saying.

“I take it you’ve heard,” Cyborg said to him, taking a break from arguing with
Starfire.

“Robin sent me an e-mail.”

“You got an e-mail?” Bart nearly ran him down and everyone else stopped
shouting. “What did he say?”

“That he’s sorry.” Kon knew his voice sounded flat, but he couldn’t do anything
about it. “Take care. Help out the new Robin.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

Changeling sidled up to him as everyone else went back to shouting. “You seem
remarkably calm about this.”

“Do I?”

“Hmm.” Changeling shrugged. “Just don’t do anything stupid, okay? At least not
where I can see it.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“That’s what I’m here for.” He morphed into a parrot, flapping his wings to
Cyborg’s shoulder, where he squawked in counterpoint to everyone else.

* * * * *

Kon cornered Bart in a remote hallway. “We gotta find Tim.” His words echoed
against the metal walls, making him jump.

“Yeah, but how? I mean, I can run all over Gotham, but…”

“If Batman catches you, you’re dead meat, I know. Same with me if I fly. Let’s
go talk to Cassie, maybe she’ll think of something.”

They found Cassie on top of the tower, knees pulled up to her chin, baking in
the sun reflecting off the light-colored roof. “Lemme guess,” she said without
turning around. “You guys have got some hare-brained scheme and you want my
help.”

Kon grinned, floating in front of her. “Close. We were hoping *you* could come
up with some hare-brained scheme to find Tim. Without Robin, we’re short a
strategist.”

Half an hour later, they had hare-brained schemes galore–Kon was particularly
proud of the one involving the personals ad and the giant lizard–but nothing
that resembled a viable plan.

“Maybe we should ask for help,” Cassie said, sounding hesitant.

“From who?”

“Whom,” Bart said.

“Shut *up*, Bart. No more grammar books for you.” Kon rubbed his forehead harder
as a twitch developed over his left eye. “Who should we ask?”

“The JLA.”

“Oh yeah, I’ll just get Oracle to patch me in so I can ask for Tim’s address.
Maybe she’ll tell me Batman’s shoe size while I’m at it.”

“No, seriously. We could ask Wonder Woman. She takes the team thing pretty
seriously.”

“Umm, she doesn’t like me much.” Kon winced as he remembered his and Cassie’s
abortive kiss and subsequently being thrown halfway across San Francisco Bay.

“She’s so over that.” Cassie rolled her eyes. “Diana loses her temper easily but
she forgives. C’mon, let’s go talk to her.”

Bart skidded to a stop, gravel flying. “What about training? Aren’t we supposed
to be in the gym now?”

Kon waved his hand. “We’ll be back soon. Besides, this is important. It’s team
stuff.”

Bart cocked his head, eyes wide behind the goggles, then shrugged. “Okay.”

“Follow me,” Cassie said, lifting into the sky.

* * * * *

They found Diana coming out of a meeting in Chicago. Bart and Kon hung back as
Cassie convinced her to talk to them.

Wonder Woman examined each of them as they walked through a small city park
toward a lake, and Kon tried not to shuffle his feet. For some reason, she
intimidated him more than anyone else except Clark. Maybe it was her complete
self-assurance. Or her large and carefully-displayed chest. As a teenager, it
was difficult to tell.

“How can I help the Teen Titans?” she asked, sinking down onto a park bench.

Cassie and Bart looked at Kon. Thanks, guys, he thought. “Well, um, you’ve heard
that Robin had to stop being Robin?” Oh yeah, real eloquent.

“Yes, I did.” She waited patiently for him to get to the point, a light breeze
stirring her hair.

Kon took a deep breath. “We want to find him.”

Wonder Woman tilted her head, eyebrows raised. “You don’t know his identity?”

“No, just his first name,” Cassie said. “And he must live in Gotham. But that’s
not enough.”

Wonder Woman looked into the distance. “I don’t know his identity either, even
if I wished to tell you.”

Kon stepped forward. “But you know Batman’s.”

Wonder Woman turned her gaze on him and he gulped, hoping she wasn’t going to
throw him across the city again. “I do know his identity,” she agreed, “But I
certainly would not reveal *that*.”

“No! No, I meant you could use that to find Tim for us.”

“I believe that if the young man wished to be found, he would have let you
know.”

“He sent me a note right before,” Kon said. “His dad told him to not contact
us.”

“Then I would not wish to interfere in his family’s affairs. As you may recall,”
she said to Cassie, “that was my concern about your joining the Titans to begin
with.”

Cassie bit her lip. “Diana–”

“I’m sorry. When he is of age, he can choose to rejoin the team. Or perhaps
Batman will succeed in convincing his father.”

“Batman’s not even trying,” Bart said. “He’s already got a new Robin.”

“Ah. In that case, I doubly would not wish to interfere.” Wonder Woman stood,
smoothing her costume. “If you can provide a reason why you need to see him,
then let me know. Otherwise, I’m afraid there is nothing I can do to help. I’m
sorry.”

Cassie hung her head. “Well, thanks for listening.”

“I *am* sorry, child. I really must be going, however, as I have another
meeting.”

Kon and Bart mumbled farewells and Wonder Woman strode back through the oak
trees, leaving three dejected teens to stare at each other.

“What about Flash?” Kon asked. “He used to be a Titan and after Nightwing gave
him that lecture, maybe he’ll be feeling guilty enough to help.”

“It’s worth a try,” Cassie said.

* * * * *

It took half an hour to find Flash in Denver, and twenty minutes to help him
rescue people from a burning housing complex.

Leaning against the side of the fire engine, Flash looked wearier than any
speedster had a right to. “I wish I could help, but…it was the kid’s
decision.”

“And you’re afraid of Batman.”

“Damn right I’m afraid of Batman.” Instead of being angry, Flash was amused. “If
you’ve got a brain, you’re scared of him too. Look, I’m not going behind the
back of the Dark Knight without a damn good reason. If you find one, call me.”

“But Tim’s our friend,” Cassie said. “We just want to talk to him.”

“Sorry. Thanks for the help. Now you’d better get back to San Francisco.”

And Flash was gone, burger wrappers and abandoned newspapers stirring in his
wake. Kon grabbed the back of Bart’s collar before the boy could take off in
pursuit. “He’s not gonna help us. Let’s get back to the Tower.”

* * * * *

Kon spent the entire 20 minutes while Cyborg and Starfire were lecturing them on
responsibility trying to figure out the next step in finding Tim. But there was
no time for him to consult with the others, as Cyborg immediately set them to
sparring and Kon was too busy trying to keep Starfire from blowing his tail off
to even think. Which was probably the idea, he thought as he hovered in the far
corner of the gym trying to catch his breath.

It was hours before the conspirators could gather again, this time in Kon’s
bedroom. Cassie slumped against the far wall, head tilted back, Kon perched on
the bed, and Bart vibrated his way between the window and the bed.

“I can’t believe they’re both afraid of Batman,” Kon said, banging his head
against the wall, hoping an idea might shake loose.

“Isn’t everyone?” There was no appreciable irony in Cassie’s voice.

“Tim isn’t.”

“Point.”

Bart skidded to a stop at the foot of the bed. “It’s your turn.”

“Huh?”

“We need to talk to Superman.”

Kon groaned. “We’ll never get out of the tower to find him now. They’ll be
watching us.”

“Then you’ll have to talk to him during the week,” Cassie said. She stood,
dusting off her pants, and Bart nodded, then zipped out the door.

“But…” Kon said as the door shut behind them. “You mean I have to ask him all
by myself? Thanks, guys.”

* * * * *

Kon chickened out on Monday, coming up with a variety of excuses in his own
mind, but (un)luckily for him, Clark came by the farm late Tuesday afternoon.

Chores done, Kon was lying on the roof staring at approaching storm clouds when
Clark floated up to sit next to him. The cape fluttered a bit in the wind and
Clark tucked it under his knee. “Ma tells me you’re pretty upset over Robin
leaving.”

Kon yearned to say ‘What was her first clue?’ but decided sarcasm wasn’t
entirely constructive. Look, the clone learns how to think before he speaks.
“Yeah,” he finally said. “Um, I wanted to talk to you about that.”

“Yes?”

Kon sat up and stared at the Topeka skyline, watching a plane landing at the
airport. “Well, we didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye, Kid Flash, Wonder
Girl, and me. We were kind of hoping you’d help us find him.”

“Find him?”

“He just vanished.” Kon’s throat felt oddly thick.

Clark was quiet for a few moments. “Conner, I–”

“No, lemme guess: I should respect his decision, even though his dad made it for
him, it’s not your place to interfere, oh, and you’re afraid of Batman just like
everybody else.”

Kon found himself shouting. So much for thinking before speaking. Now he
*really* couldn’t look at Clark, so he just kept staring at Topeka and
hoping that a stray supervillain might try to kill him. Maybe even succeed.

The silence was uncomfortable, but it was a minute before Kon could trust
himself to speak again. “I’m sorry,” he said, cursing himself for destroying any
slight chance of getting help.

“Sounds to me like there’s more than just a friend leaving the team. What’s
wrong?”

Slowly, he turned. Clark’s brow was furrowed, his square-jawed and earnest face
filled with concern. “I just…I didn’t know how important his friendship was
until he took off. All I want to do is ask him why he left.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Yes, it is! Tim is–was, whatever–Robin. Fuck that, Tim is *Tim*! If he’d
decided he wanted to stay, he’d have found some way to do it. He’s our planner,
our brain. He can do anything.”

He wanted to pound his fist on the roof for emphasis, but in his current
agitated state, that might leave holes. Instead, he crossed his arms.

Clark nodded once, his expression now unreadable. “If you saw him, what would
you say?”

Breath caught in his throat, Kon stared. “D’you mean you’ll–”

“Hold on. What would you say?”

“I, um, I guess that we miss him. I’d ask why he didn’t want to stay.”

“Mm-hmm.” Clark was oddly intent. “What else?”

“I don’t know.”

Clark looked at him for a moment, then lay back on the roof, obviously mimicking
Kon’s earlier pose. Hesitant, Kon lay down next to him and they stared up at the
clouds.

The storm had reached Metropolis and Kon could see the heavy raindrops as they
fell on the city. There was a smell in the air that said the storm was heading
their way.

“Going behind a teammate’s back to contact his protégé, even a former protégé,
is a serious matter.”

Kon gritted his teeth.

“Before I agree, I would need a good reason.”

“That’s what Flash and Wonder Woman said.”

“I know.”

“What?” Kon sat up, aghast.

“They’re my teammates. What did you expect?” Clark tucked his arms behind his
head and smiled at him. “Did you think JLA members never talk to each other?”

Since that was exactly what he’d thought, Kon lacked a clever response. “Does
Batman know?” He looked around the farm wildly, as if the other man might attack
him at any moment.

“No, he doesn’t. Yet.”

“Hey, wait. If you’ve talked to them, then you already knew what was going on.”

“But I wanted to hear it from you.” Clark paused. “I wanted to hear your
reasons. Wally and Diana agreed that you had instigated this and were pushing
the hardest. It got me curious.”

“He’s my friend.” Kon crossed his arms, feeling on the defensive.

“And Batman is my friend. It’s lovely symmetry, don’t you think? In any case,
you have other friends.”

“Not like him.”

“What’s different?”

Kon’s mouth opened, then closed. There weren’t words to explain it, at least not
in his vocabulary. “I…he…I mean, he’s Tim,” he said.

Clark sighed. He seemed to be thinking seriously about something. “You know,
Batman once asked me what I saw in Lois, and I said something similarly
incoherent. Batman laughed at me, as I recall.”

“Uh…”

“I guess what I’m asking,” Clark’s face turned red but he kept his eyes locked
on Kon, “is whether you’re in love with Tim.”

“Uh…” Kon’s world spun and he would have fallen off the sloped roof if Clark
hadn’t grabbed his arm.

“It’s okay. I’m not upset but I need to know.”

Kon sputtered, finally managing to ask, “Why?”

“I told you. I need a good reason. That would constitute a good reason.”

“No, I mean why would you think I’m…I mean, that I…oh, shit.” Kon buried his
face in his hands, not sure what he was trying to say.

“Does Tim know how you feel?” Clark’s voice was so soft and sympathetic, Kon
wanted to die. Was it was possible to die of embarrassment?

“No.”

“No, you’re not in love with him, or no, he doesn’t know?”

“Um. The, uh, the second. At least, I don’t think he does.” His face felt like
it had burst into flames and his stomach churned. He was definitely dying.

“Okay. That’s good enough.” Clark patted his shoulder gently. “I’m sorry I had
to ask you but I needed to be sure before I took this step.”

“What step?” Kon looked up.

“Do you trust me?”

Kon’s jaw dropped, but it was apparently a serious question. “Yes.”

“Okay. Then please leave this alone.” Clark held up a hand to forestall the
inevitable protest. “For now. Give me a chance to see what I can do without your
interference. Please.”

“Yeah.” Kon pulled his knees up to his chest. “I’ll stay quiet for now. I’m kind
of out of ideas anyway.”

Clark patted his shoulder again. “It’s going to be okay, I promise.”

Everybody knew that Superman didn’t lie. Kon’s heart felt lighter as he watched
Superman fly toward Gotham.

NOTES: This is a sequel to “Life Without a Friend.” Thanks to Ozchick and
Illmantrim for copious help and suggestions that turned these stories from an
amorphous blob into vaguely coherent fic. You guys rock!

* * * * *

Tim stared at the computer screen, mouse hovering over the send button. He’d
rewritten this particular message twenty times. He had to send it now or he’d
lose his chance to do so without giving away his identity, but there were so
many things he couldn’t say, so many…damn it. He hit send.

“To: thesuperkid@secure.tt.net
“From: birdguy@secure.tt.net
“Subject: I guess this is goodbye

“Please don’t try to find me.

“I’m not sure if you’ll have heard the news by the time you get this, but my dad
found out I was Robin and he freaked. A lot. The upshot of which is that I’m no
longer Robin. There will be a new Robin coming out to the Tower, someone I know
and trust. Don’t pick on her, because none of this is her fault.

“In fact, she’ll need your help, since she doesn’t have nearly my experience or
skills. If you won’t help her for the sake of the team, help her for me, okay?

“I promised my dad I’d make a clean break and I owe it to him to at least try,
as penance for all the lying I’ve done over the years. In fact, my e-mail
account will be deleted by the time you get this message, so I guess this is
goodbye. Tell everyone I’m sorry. I’m sorry it happened this way, and sorrier I
didn’t get to say goodbye in person, but we both already knew life’s not fair.

“I’ll miss you. Take care.”

* * * * *

The following days were a blur for Tim. Vague memories of staring out his
bedroom window at the dark streets, lunches where he had nothing new to hide
from Bernard, the odd feeling of being completely uninjured.

Tim couldn’t remember the last time he’d been without a single bump, bruise, or
bleeding gash. The worst danger he faced now was a paper cut or a school bus
accident, and it was the worst feeling he’d ever had. He caught himself thinking
how easy it would be to start a fight with a football player.

His dad could barely speak to him and Dana didn’t know which way to turn. He
caught both of them giving him odd looks over dinner and it made him want to do
something bizarre–a one-armed handstand while juggling or something.

But he didn’t.

He went to school, came home, did homework, ate dinner, and waited for things to
make sense. They didn’t show any signs of doing so.

The evening news was the worst.

Tim winced as the brunette in the olive green suit chirped the latest. “Pamela
Isley, also known as Poison Ivy, staged her third escape from Arkham Asylum this
afternoon. Police and prison officials say…”

Plans unrolled in his mind–protocols, contacts, usual hideouts, associates to
question. He couldn’t stop it, so he watched the automatic workings of his
brain.

He felt eyes on him and focused his attention outward again. Both his dad and
Dana were trying not to look at him. Tim realized he was clenching and
unclenching his fists, as if checking the fit of gauntlets.

Resting his hands on his lap, he stared at the television, barely registering
the ad for paper towels with its dancing trees. A small part of his brain made a
note to see if Ivy had ever attacked paper product companies. He winced.

Probably he shouldn’t watch television news, but it would take too much energy
to come up with something else to do. And he couldn’t quite give up this last
connection. Sometimes they mentioned Batman or even Nightwing, describing a
criminal’s capture or some citizen seeing them. It was all he had, and if it
ripped his heart out a little bit each time, well, that was the price he’d
agreed to pay.

The news ended and he trudged upstairs.

* * * * *

Tim lay on his bed, counting cracks in the ceiling. Out of the corner of his
eye, he could see the last rays of the sunset coming through the window, and he
tried to decide what to do now.

He’d spent much of the last two weeks in bed, catching up on several years of
accumulated short sleep. Also, sleeping was a good way to avoid dealing with his
dad. Or the empty hole in his life.

When he wasn’t sleeping, he was studying or doing homework. His was undoubtedly
the best-researched and most thorough examination of the causes of the Civil War
ever in the history of Louis E. Grieve Memorial High School.

Bernard called at least once an evening, but Tim could barely handle speaking to
him at school, let alone now. Now, when he should be gearing up to head out…

Tim closed his eyes, wondering how many hours of sleep a teenager could get if
he really put his mind to it. Maybe he could take up tranquilizers and give his
father something new to worry about.

Steph had stopped coming around days ago. Between his dad’s rude behavior toward
her and the knowledge that she’d taken his place, their conversations had become
awkward.

It hurt that their relationship was over just like that, but it was really his
fault, not hers. He didn’t want to resent her for taking over as Robin, but damn
it, he was human. And she’d just hopped into the new Robin suit and expected him
to be thrilled for her. It hurt that she understood so little about him.

Tim wished he could call Dick and ask him how you dealt with being an easily
replaced cog in the machine that is Batman’s world. Hell, he wished he could
call Dick and talk about basketball or the upcoming presidential election.

Then he’d get on AIM and shoot Kon a line or two, maybe tease him about telling
Clark his secret. Or he’d send him outlandish suggestions on how they could
annoy Starfire, try and make him spit-take on the keyboard.

Might as well wish for the moon, he told himself, ’cause it’s not gonna happen.
No more IM with Kon, no more trips to Titans Tower. That part of his life was
over and the sooner he got used to that, the sooner he stopped missing…well,
the sooner, the better.

The doorbell rang and Tim groaned. It was probably Bernard, even though he’d
told the other boy at least a hundred times that he was grounded for life. But
Bernard was nothing if not persistent when he smelled interesting gossip, and he
hadn’t bought Tim’s excuse about breaking curfew one too many times. The funny
thing, of course, was how close to the truth it was.

Tim sat up in bed, listening. There were several voices, all too muffled for him
to hear clearly, but none sounded like Bernard. That was his Dad and that was
Dana. Another female voice and two male. Who the heck?

He was just considering opening his bedroom door to eavesdrop when the door
swung open. Dana stood in the doorway, face pale and shocky.

“What’s wrong?” He jumped off the bed, heart in his throat as he imagined the
thousands of possibilities.

“Your dad and I have had some…visitors. You need to come downstairs.”

“Are you okay?” Tim asked.

“Yes. Just come down. Please don’t argue, Tim.”

Every sense alerted, Tim followed her down the steps. His fingers itched for a
smoke bomb, a batarang, anything to use on whatever awaited him.

“Hello, Tim,” Superman said with a broad smile. “Superboy says hello.”

“Urgh,” Tim said, frozen at the bottom of the steps. A costumed Superman stood
next to his father, a grinning Flash and somber Wonder Woman just behind them.
They were splashes of color in his earth-toned life, as if an artist had thrown
globs of color into the living room and called it art.

Dana walked to stand beside Jack, who was also looking pale. His face
alternately went white and red as he looked at his son. “Come in here,” he said
with some irritation.

Still speechless, Tim made it down the last step and into the room. The three
superheroes stepped forward to shake his hand, looking incongruous against the
normalcy of the room.

“Uh, it’s good to see all of you, but…”

“What are we doing here?” Flash finished, still grinning like a loon. “It’s kind
of complicated.”

“No, it’s not,” Wonder Woman said, shaking her head. “Your teammates, especially
Superboy, are eager to speak with you and they asked our assistance to find
you.”

Tim felt dizzy and he groped with his hand until he found the wall, focusing on
the slightly rough feel of paint until everything stopped spinning. They’d
*found* him? How…why…

“Maybe we could all sit down,” Superman said.

Jack nodded and everyone found a seat. Tim managed an internal chuckle as he
watched Superman subtly influence the seating arrangements so that Tim was
seated near him. Everyone thought Batman was the only tricky one, which was just
the way Superman liked it.

Dana didn’t notice, but Jack did, his lifetime in business making a power play
obvious even when it happened in his living room. He scowled for an instant, but
couldn’t quite manage to maintain an angry expression in the face of Superman’s
bonhomie.

Nonetheless, he tried to take the initiative. “I thought I made it very clear in
my conversations with Bruce Wayne that we were to have no further contact with
the vigilante community. I’m a little surprised he’d send you three here.”

Wonder Woman looked like she wanted to say something, but she pursed her lips
and deferred to Superman.

“Batman has no knowledge of our visit. We are here on behalf of the teenagers
who work with us, just as Tim worked with Batman.”

Flash leaned forward. “Kid Flash is just that, a kid.” He shook his head. “He’s
having trouble understanding why his friend is gone.”

“His friend?” Dana asked. She went slightly paler when all eyes turned in her
direction.

“Friend and teammate,” Wonder Woman said. “You *did* realize that Robin was a
member of the Teen Titans, didn’t you? And previously the leader of Young
Justice? He has worked with much of the superhero community at some point.”

“I didn’t really think of it,” she said. “We were so focused on the danger, on
Gotham.”

Superman looked at Tim. “Did you tell them about your part in saving the world
when it split in two?”

“Which time?” Tim managed to dredge up a cheeky grin.

“He’s got a point,” Flash said, laughing.

“Insolent pup,” Superman said in a credible imitation of a supervillain, then
laughed as well. “I was referring to when you, Superboy, and Impulse reunited
the world of children and grownups.”

Dana stared at him as if his skin had just turned blue. “You? You were involved
in that?”

Tim sighed. “Yes.”

“The JLA was very impressed with his work and leadership, that’s why we allowed
the formation of Young Justice,” Wonder Woman said.

Jack frowned. “I’m sorry, but none of this changes the fact that my son lied to
me for several years. Bruce Wayne put my son in danger I can hardly conceive of,
without my permission.”

Tim looked at his hands, letting the familiar rant wash over him as he
considered what the visitors’ presence might mean. His ruminations were derailed
as he replayed Superman’s words (“Superboy says hello”) and Wonder Woman’s aside
(“especially Superboy”).

He’d *told* Kon not to look for him. But when had that idiot ever listened to
what was best for him?

“Mr. Drake,” Superman began. Tim looked up, recognizing Superman’s ‘let’s get
down to business’ tone. “We are not here to convince you to let Tim return as
Robin. Among other things, only Batman could ask that.”

Even though it was no surprise, Tim still felt a stab of pain in his stomach at
the words. He concentrated on breathing steadily and not getting his hopes up.

“Then why are you here?”

“Jack!” Dana whispered. From the look on her face, she was horribly embarrassed
to see her husband growling at three superheroes. Tim thanked the universe that
she hadn’t been there to see her husband point a gun at Batman.

“I have told you already,” Wonder Woman said, tapping her lasso and eyeing Jack
Drake with a less-than-friendly expression. “Our protégés wish to speak to their
friend and we ask that you release Tim from his vow to avoid his former
teammates.”

Tim held his breath: To see Kon and the others…hell, even if he only got to
talk to them. It would hurt, but if he was honest, he missed them. There were so
many things he’d never gotten to say to them.

Everyone was looking at him and Tim kept his face expressionless. His dad looked
uncertain.

“Jack?” Dana said quietly. “Say yes.”

“You too?”

“Aren’t you the least bit proud of what Tim’s done?”

Tim blinked, Flash coughed, and Jack stared at her in astonishment. “What the
hell does that have to do with anything?”

“Tim may have been wrong to not tell you, but what he’s done these past years is
incredible.” She turned to look at Tim. “I wish you’d trusted us enough to say
something.”

“I couldn’t,” he said for the thousandth time. “It’s not just my secret. It’s
Batman and Nightwing and Oracle and everybody. I couldn’t put them in danger.”

Flash cleared his throat. “I’m afraid it’s the nature of the superhero business.
When you know one identity, it can lead you to others. My identity isn’t secret
and at my wedding, my best man had to come in disguise–the most hideous blond
wig you’ve *ever* seen.”

“I’ve seen pictures,” Tim said. “It was pretty bad. I’m glad he’s gotten better
at disguises since then.”

He shared a moment of amusement with Flash over Dick and his terrible wigs, then
remembered he wasn’t allowed to see Dick. No more sparring sessions, big brother
teasing, or bad advice.

“How is he?” he asked.

“He misses you too, kid.” Flash looked sympathetic. “You know how badly he takes
change.”

“Tell him…” Tim swallowed. “Tell him to be careful. He gets careless when he’s
upset. Make sure Batman and Oracle are keeping an eye on him.”

“I will.” Flash nodded.

Tim remembered he had an audience and glanced at his dad. To his surprise, Jack
Drake’s expression was now thoughtful.

Dana’s expression was hopeful as she looked between her husband and stepson.
“Another friend, dear?”

“Nightwing,” Tim said, not taking his eyes off his father. “He’s been like a
brother.”

“And Superboy?” she asked.

“He’s my best friend. He’s matured a lot since he was The Kid.”

“His maturity is due mainly to your influence,” Superman said.

Jack looked away as Tim blushed and ducked his head at the praise.

“Wonder Girl and Kid Flash are your friends as well?”

“Yeah.” Tim was hit by a memory: a warm hand in his as they flew across the Bay,
trusting Kon to carry him safely to shore; Bart beneath them, his feet splashing
icy water as he sped across the surface; and Cassie flying above, practicing
with her lasso and nearly hitting them with an errant loop.

“You just want to see them?” Jack asked, staring at Tim.

Trying to not get his hopes up, Tim nodded. “I promised you I wouldn’t be Robin,
but I do miss my friends. I…” He shook his head, unsure what else to say.

“I can assure you,” Wonder Woman said, “that we would not abet any further
deception.”

“I don’t know.”

Tim held his breath.

“Mr. Drake, I haven’t always been the best father to Superboy, to Kon-El, but he
asked me for his help. I don’t want to let him down.”

Superman and Jack Drake looked at each other and a wordless understanding passed
between them. Tim thought about them–two men with sons they didn’t entirely
understand, who they’d failed in the past.

Jack nodded. “Okay.”

Dana hugged him and Tim let out a slow breath, the empty place in his heart
filling up again.

* * * * *

Tim sat on the roof of the brownstone, enjoying the light breeze that brought
him the familiar smells of Gotham. Stars twinkled above him as he waited. A
speck in the distance rapidly became a black and red blur that swooped to land
in front of him. The familiar move made him feel simultaneously nostalgic and
happy.

“Hey, Kon,” Tim said. “I heard you wanted to talk to me.” It didn’t sound as
funny as it had in his head.

The other boy looked uneasy, scrubbing his hand through his short hair. “Yeah, I
did. The note was, man, the note was unfair.”

“I know.” Tim sighed, looking down at his scuffed sneakers. “I didn’t know what
else to do.”

Kon came to sit next to him and for a while they just watched the stars.

“Bart came by earlier,” Tim said when he couldn’t take the silence any longer.

“Yeah, he told me. Said you looked shorter out of costume.”

Tim snorted. “I talked to Nightwing too. He’s got a stakeout all this week, but
he’s coming by on Sunday. So, um, thanks.”

“I missed you,” Kon said, not looking at him.

“I missed you, too.”

“I kind of wondered. I mean, what our friendship meant if you could just leave
and not say a real goodbye.” His face was so still, it looked like stone.

Tim groaned. “I didn’t want that. I just couldn’t handle prolonged goodbyes
making everything harder. I had to go. I promised my dad. We had a deal.”

“I know. Well, I get that now. I was pretty pissed there for a while.”

The stars twinkled, a pigeon croaked nearby. Tim sighed. “So, you went to the
JLA, huh?”

“Uh-huh.”

“To find me.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I can’t decide if I’m flattered or terrified.”

“You should be honored. I faced down Wonder Woman for you, man. I tempted the
wrath of Batman for you.” Kon turned to look at him, his old cocky grin hovering
around the corners of his mouth.

Tim’s gut clenched in a wave of homesickness, wanting everything back the way it
was. “I’m touched,” he managed to say.

Kon looked away again. “I didn’t know they were going to show up on your
doorstep. Clark and I talked about stuff and he said he’d take care of it and
the next thing I know, I got your message.”

“That’s the difference between Superman and Batman, I think. Superman always
takes the direct route, the shortest distance between two points, while Batman
has to sneak around the edges of a problem.”

Kon chuckled. “Like superhero, like sidekick. I’m just glad it worked, ’cause
most of our other plans involved major property damage.”

Tim shook his head. “Jesus. What are you guys going to do without me bringing
the common sense?” It was meant to be a joke.

“I don’t know.” Kon was utterly serious, frowning at Tim as he said it, making
him look down.

“Kon, I can’t come back. I promised.”

“Maybe your dad will change his mind?”

“Maybe. But…does Batman even want me back?”

“How the hell can you even ask that? Of course he does. You’re the best damn
Robin ever!”

Tim laughed, although it wasn’t all that funny. “Nightwing might take exception
to that.”

“To hell with him!” Kon seemed to realize he was yelling and he turned away,
frowning. “Just don’t talk like that.” He stared up at the sky.

Tim waited for Kon to look at him, but Kon continued to stare up, shifting
position uneasily. “Kon?”

“What?”

“There isn’t something else you wanted to tell me?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Oh, I dunno. Maybe because as Superman was leaving, he hugged me and whispered
‘Welcome to the family.'”

Kon’s head whipped around, his eyes so wide they looked like they would pop out.
“Oh. My. God. He didn’t.”

“He did.”

Head dropping into his hands, Kon groaned.

“So, *now* is there something you wanted to tell me?”

Kon looked up, face like a deer in headlights. “Uh. No?”

Tim couldn’t help grinning, his face feeling like a Joker mask. “Then maybe we
should just skip the words.”

Leaning over, he pressed his lips to Kon’s, running a hand over a broad
shoulder. When Kon didn’t respond, a knot formed in his stomach. Had he
misunderstood?

Just as he was ready to jump off the roof in embarrassment, Kon grabbed his head
and smashed their lips together. Tim laughed into the kiss, holding onto the
roof with his other hand. He nearly lost his balance, though, when Kon pulled
back to lick him, a damp tickle across his lips that made him gasp.

When they finally separated, Tim’s lips felt sore, but he was still laughing.

Kon rubbed his forehead against Tim’s, both hands on the back of his neck,
holding him in place. “Welcome to the family?”

“See? Direct route. Batman wouldn’t have been *nearly* that obvious.”

Kon blinked several times. “No no no no! Bad enough Superman is meddling in my
love life, don’t make me imagine Batman getting involved too. I’ll have
nightmares for months.”

Tim laughed harder. “What, it isn’t bad enough you got Superman, Flash, and
Wonder Woman involved?”

“Geez, I hadn’t thought about that.” Kon stared at him, face turning red. “My
god, that’s how he…”

“How he what?”

“Flash and Wonder Woman, they…I mean, we asked them to help us first and they
said no. They said they’d need a good reason to go behind Batman’s back.”

Tim felt his own face getting warm. “Do you mean that Superman told Flash *and*
Wonder Woman that you…that I…that we…”

“I think so.”

“Oh god. That means the entire superhero community knows by now.” Tim groaned,
imagining the ribbing he was going to get from Dick.

“Well, I suppose it’s possible that, say, Captain Marvel hasn’t heard yet.”

“Are you sure?”

“No.”

“We are so totally the gossip of the month. Oracle’s probably disseminating the
memo even as we speak.”

“Shoot me now,” Kon said with a whine.

“We’re already doomed, so how about if we kiss some more instead?”

“Good idea. See, this is why we need you back as Robin, ’cause you’re the clever
one.”

“Fuck you.”

“Promise?”

NOTES: I just couldn’t end this without writing Batman’s reaction.

* * * * *

Clark sat atop the highest building in Gotham and waited. It was a clear night
and the stars twinkled in a merry fashion–always slightly incongruous in
Gotham. But even Batman couldn’t insist that the stars be less cheerful in his
city, although the image of a scowling Batman waving his fist at the sky was one
that would amuse him for days.

Lost in thought, Clark didn’t see Bruce until the other man was nearly there,
sliding onto the roof with the grace that so often made him look superhuman.
Bruce crossed his arms and glared, the full-on Batglare usually reserved for the
Joker or Darkseid.

“Save it for the people who are afraid of you, Bruce.”

“Maybe you *should* be afraid of me.”

“Don’t start, I’ve known you too long. I came here so we could discuss this like
the adults we purport to be.”

Arms still crossed, Bruce relaxed fractionally. “I can’t believe you conned
*Alfred* into giving you Tim’s name. What the *hell* did you think you were
doing?”

“Something you couldn’t. And probably wouldn’t, but that’s another matter.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“I was helping *your* former sidekick. Tim’s father would never have listened to
you, but he was won over by three squeaky-clean superheroes sitting in his
living room.”

“So you thought it would be *helpful* to give Tim’s identity to three
*teenagers*?” His voice was icy cold and Clark sighed.

“To Tim’s friends, yes. To the people he needs to help him survive this
transition.”

“He *needs* to move on with the life he’s chosen.”

“That his *father* cho–no, I’m not getting distracted from my point. He’s
supposed to move on without his friends?”

Bruce snorted. “How many times do I have to say it?”

“As many times as you like, but I’m your friend anyway. Besides, Tim isn’t you
and thank goodness for that.” Clark stopped, listening to a strange noise until
he identified it as a leaky pump at the Gotham water treatment plant.

“Tim is a survivor, but I can’t believe the three of you would do something this
idiotic. What the fuck possessed you to show up in my city in costume and
blithely agree to let the children come for a visit?”

“Love.”

Even without x-ray vision it would have been obvious Bruce’s eyes had narrowed.
“Love?”

“Yes, Bruce. I love Kon as if he *was* my son. It took some time to recognize
it, but it’s true. He needed my help to find his friend. And they needed each
other.”

“What about Flash and Diana?”

“Ah.” Clark smiled broadly. “They required a bit more convincing. But love
worked for them as well.”

“If you think you’re being subtle, farmboy, you’re sadly mistaken. Out with
whatever has you so pleased with yourself.”

“I told you: love.”

Bruce growled low in his throat, a sound that usually preceded serious mayhem,
and Clark decided to stop teasing. “I guess you never really watched Tim and
Conner together. And here I thought you were the observant one.”

Bruce went so still, he almost disappeared into the gloom. “But…the–”

“If you say ‘the clone,’ I swear I’ll dislocate your shoulder.” Clark let his
own anger show.

Bruce took a step back, probably more in shock than concern. “Tim…they…”

“Are in love, Bruce. Keeping them apart would have been wrong. Not to mention
pointless. They’d have found each other somehow and almost certainly caused a
great deal more noise and havoc in the process. Did you really want Superboy
flying all over your city looking for Tim?”

Bruce made a strangled noise and leaned against the half wall behind him.

“Are you okay?”

“Just rearranging most of my brain. Nothing too serious.”

Clark grinned. “Well, if you can be sarcastic, you’re going to be fine.”

Bruce looked up. “Tim’s gay?”

“I don’t want to know any details, do you? Besides, I couldn’t ask him that in
front of his father–they’d all had enough shocks for one day.”

“Yes.” Bruce stared down at the gravelly roof. “So, the Teen Titans are going to
be visiting my city.”

“Yes. But they’re under strict instructions to keep out of trouble.” Clark was
particularly proud of saying that with a straight face.

“You know, very few people know that Superman is a smartass.”

“And fewer know that Batman has a sense of humor.”

Bruce sighed and rubbed his jaw. “Love?”

“Most definitely.”

“And his father’s given him permission to see his friends.”

“Actually,” Clark paused, still unsure how to phrase this part, “he has
permission to speak to Nightwing and Oracle and pretty much everyone. Except
you.”

Bruce’s flinch was so small, most wouldn’t have seen it, but Clark knew where to
look. “Ah,” was all Bruce said.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t want to push our luck. But I’m sure in time Mr. Drake will
change his mind.”

“I see.”

“Tim looked much better when I left,” Clark offered. “And I, ah, passed by on
the way here. He and Conner look happy.”

Bruce didn’t respond.

“Do you have a message I could pass to Tim for you? Greetings, well-wishes?”

“He…there isn’t anything. He knows…how I feel.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” The cape swirled and Bruce was gone. Clark could have found him with some
effort, but it was unlikely to change anything. He wasn’t going to solve Bruce’s
problems–or the rest of Tim’s–this evening.

With a last look around the gloomy city and the cheerful stars above, Clark
lifted off the building to head back to Metropolis. Lois was waiting to hear the
latest installment of “As the Bat Turns” and she’d complain if he was late.

At least his meddling had resulted in a partial happy ending. In the superhero
business, you learned to take your victories where you could.

Besides, next time he saw Bruce he got to tease him about being unobservant. And
they were some kind of superhero in-laws now. Life didn’t get much better than
that, did it?

–end–

NOTES: I didn’t intend to write another story, but
I realized after I was done that I’d left one plot thread dangling. So, here’s a
conversation that had to happen eventually.

* * * * *

Bruce looked up as Alfred entered the drawing room, then dropped his newspaper
at the shocked look on the other man’s face. “What’s wrong? I thought I heard
the doorbell.”

“You have a visitor, sir.”

“A vis–”

“Hello, Bruce.” Alfred stepped aside, and for a moment, Bruce almost didn’t
recognize the unsmiling black-haired teen who entered the room.

“Tim?” Bruce was glad he was already sitting down.

“I’ll just make some tea,” Alfred said.

Tim still moved gracefully, Bruce saw, although he’d lost some of the muscle
tone. Tim hesitantly sat in the chair opposite Bruce’s loveseat.

They stared at each other.

“How…how are you?” Bruce asked. “Clark’s kept me up-to-date, but…”

“I’m okay.” Tim didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get to the point of his visit.

“That’s good.” Bruce cursed the fact that society didn’t prepare one for this
kind of conversation. Etiquette was really lacking in the area of ‘talking to
former sidekicks who left when their secret identities were revealed to their
fathers.’

Tim sat back in the chair, relaxing a little. Whatever he was looking for, he’d
found it. “Kon’s been pushing me to come see you for a while now.”

“It’s been a year.” He tried to make the sentence as neutral as possible.

Tim frowned. “My dad’s still pretty angry at you, but I probably could have
talked him into this any time in the past few months.”

“Why did you come now?” It came out sharper than he’d intended, but Tim just
studied him.

“I’m here because Kon insisted I needed to talk to you.”

“Oh.”

“I strongly suspect Clark’s been working on you.”

Bruce didn’t respond, but he saw that Tim still knew how to read a slight twitch
of his lips. Indeed, Clark had barely shut up over the past year on the subject.

“How’s Steph?”

“Coming along. She took down a smuggling ring by herself last week.”

Tim nodded. “Good.”

The silence was awkward and they both looked up with some relief as Alfred
bustled in, placing a loaded tea tray on the coffee table between them.

Tim smiled. “Thanks, Alfred, I’ve missed your cookies.”

“You could have had some at any time, you know,” Alfred said.

“Alfred!” Bruce winced as Tim ducked his head, face flushed.

“Of course, sir.” Alfred turned. “I’m sorry, Master Tim. I’m very glad to see
you here.”

Tim managed a grin. “And I’m glad to see you’re just the same.”

Alfred bowed and left them alone again.

“He’s right, though.”

“Hmm?” The nostalgic grin slid off Tim’s face and he turned back.

“You’d have been welcome here at any time.” And I missed you, Bruce didn’t say.

“Really?” Tim looked down and picked up a chocolate chip cookie. “I’m not so
sure.”

Bruce swallowed. “It’s true. After all, I’m not the one who asked you to leave.
You left of your own free will.” And that thought still hurt, he admitted to
himself.

Scowling, Tim shook his head. “I left under duress, remember? I didn’t see you
exerting any real effort to keep me, and you certainly replaced me fast enough.”

Bruce felt his stomach drop. “Is that what you think?”

“Of course! You let me go without a fight and Steph was Robin before my suit
even got cold.”

Bruce covered his eyes, searching for the right words before he looked at Tim
again. “You always said you didn’t want to be Robin forever. I thought you
wanted to go. But you’re the one who said that Batman needs a Robin.”

Light dawned on Tim’s face. “I thought you didn’t want me as Robin anymore.”

“We’re a couple of idiots, aren’t we?”

“Yeah.” Tim shook his head slowly, his grin coming back. “Kon’s been trying to
tell me this for a while now.”

“Clark too.”

Tim ate his cookie, obviously struggling to keep his grin under control, and
Bruce poured himself a cup of tea.

“So,” Tim said, wiping his mouth, “maybe we should start over. Hello, Bruce, how
are you?”

“I’m fine, how are you?”

“Just peachy. Still trying to get used to civilian life.”

“Do you wa–”

“Bruce.”

“I’m sorry.”

Tim hung his head. “The answer is yes and no, I guess. Part of me would do
anything to come back and the other part is just getting used to not being in
mortal danger on a nightly basis.”

Unsure how to respond, Bruce waited.

“Dick asked…” Tim paused, looking him in the eye. “He asked me to work with
him in Blüdhaven. The Titans want me back too.”

“Steph never found a place with them.”

Tim ran a hand through his hair. “I know. I tried, but…”

Bruce nodded–he knew how emotional and irrational teams could be about these
things. “It would be good,” Bruce fumbled for the words, “if you were back on
the streets. Here or in Blüdhaven.”

Tim understood, as he always had, and they drank their tea. They’d always
communicated so well, Bruce thought. How had this total misunderstanding
happened?

When the silence became awkward again, Bruce fell back on social convention.
“How is Kon?”

Tim’s small smile lit up his face. “Good. We’re good. Have you forgiven Clark
for interfering yet?”

“I suppose so.” His lips compressed. “Although strangely, Lois found out about
poker night.”

“Did she?”

“Now she insists on playing. And she nearly always wins. Flash is annoyed with
me.”

Tim snickered, then went back to staring into his teacup. “It’s weird.”

When Tim didn’t go on, Bruce prompted, “What’s weird?”

“Being on the other side, the civilian waiting to hear if anyone’s died.”

“Hmm.” The sound was surprised out of Bruce, who hadn’t expected that.

Silence fell again, broken by the clinking as Tim idly played with the sugar
bowl, unconcerned by Bruce watching him.

Bruce sat back and drank his tea, watching and thinking, remembering the past
year and the years that Tim was Robin. “You’ll need a new uniform and code name
then.”

“Yes.” Tim didn’t look up or seem surprised. “I’ve been thinking about that.”

“I thought you might have.” Bruce felt a grin tug at his lips. Tim was a hero.
Even if he wasn’t Robin, he had the drive, the skills, and the need to use them.

“It’s going to take some more time to convince my dad, of course.”

“Of course.”

“But I’ll be back.”

“In Gotham?” Bruce held his breath.

“If you’ll have me.”

“Gladly.” Bruce reached across the table and Tim shook his hand, finally meeting
his eyes. In Tim’s steady gaze, Bruce saw a hint of sorrow, but a greater sense
of rightness.

Bruce had to agree: All was now right in his world, or at least as right as it
ever got.

–end–

* * * * *

Final author’s note: In case you’re curious, the comment that started this saga
was in response to Te’s Tim/Kon story “And Take Me Worlds Away.” In my feedback,
I said, “I totally agree that Tim’s never gonna get rid of [Kon] now. Even if he
tries to disappear, Kon will have every non-Bat superhero in the world looking
for him. (Hey, a lot of ’em are closet romantics. They’d totally do it. C’mon,
tell me you can’t see Flash and GL and Superman helping him.)”

Te responded: “*bahahahhaaa* oh God. They WOULD. A bunch of large, ripped men
and women trying to be inconspicuous in their civvies, showing up at the
Drakes’… ‘Can Tim come out to play?'”

So, it’s her fault for encouraging me, right?


Comment Pages

There are 5 Comments to "World’s Finest"

  • Amalthia says:

    I had a blast reading your story!

  • Mara says:

    Thanks!

  • The Best Damn Person says:

    Wow. I was laughing my head off throughout the entire fanfic. This must be continued, I loved this. You have a gift for writing. Also, maybe you could add a Rose/Steph pairing in there? Rose as in Wilson, and I suddenly love the pairing despite little or no fanfiction for it. I absolutely loved having Kon being the one who was pining, unlike the majority of other focus I have seen. Well done.

  • StarWindDancer says:

    “You know, very few people know that Superman is a smartass.”

    “And fewer know that Batman has a sense of humor.”

    This comment is what makes this story doubly wonderful and great and I just love it! The story is great, yeah, but these two sentences has me thinking of a T-shirt. Though, I like the new ending and all, I kept thinking that the JLA could have purposed that, if they did want Tim back, they could have compromised with Jack & ask that Tim be Oracle’s side-kick. Since Tim is one of the few people Oracle trusts with the equipment & he’d be out of line-of-fire. (sorta) I still like this though. Kon has to face Wonder Woman. & you get to see the Teen Titans & their mentors. Not allot of fanfics cross over like that. Which is what makes yours so wonderful. That and Tim/Kon.

    Thank you for such a wonderful story to come back to. Its been on so many req lists, which is why it mystifies me why there are only 3 comments. This is one of those classic Tim/Kon’s that deserves space on those req lists.

  • Mara says:

    Thank you so much! D’you know, I don’t think I realized it had been recced a lot. That’s nice to know 😀

    I totally love the idea of Tim as Oracle’s sidekick. I’m not sure why I never wrote *that* fic!

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