David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

FIC: "Training" (DCU)

Title: "Training"
Author: David Hines / hradzka
Author's Note: thete1 is one of my oldest friends in the fandom, and I love her to pieces, so I decided to write her a gift fic. This turned out to be a far more interesting exercise than I'd anticipated, because Te and I occupy very different ends of the fanfic spectrum. I am very much a genfic guy. Te, like many of my friends, is a ginormous pervert.

So, um, I... I wrote porn.

Well, I tried, anyway. This fic is kind of a weird animal; basically, I tried to write a Te story, or maybe imagine what I'd write if Te and I swapped interests -- sort of a pre-emptive remix, if you will. So it comes to you from an alternate reality in which Te is writing emotionally intense stream-of-consciousness Jim Gordon genfic, while I'm over here trying to get Tim Drake laid. This is the first time I've put out a story that has... in which there's... er, details of, you know... yeah, I'm really too gen for this kind of thing, and I won't be doing it in public again any time soon, so enjoy the novelty. I was planning on just giving this to Te, but she told me I should post it, so here we are. Tim/Cass, het, the mildest NC-17 I could get away with, and as much pressing of Te's id-buttons as I could conceivably fit in. So, Te, this one's for you.

Summary: Cass pounces. Tim accepts the inevitable.

by David Hines

Tim Drake pressed his hands flat against the tile wall, bent his head forward, and let the shower beat down on his shoulders.

Every time he interrupted a gang initiation beating, he reflected, the initiation always turned into "Let's attack the kid in tights." Which meant that twelve gang members got beaten up instead of one. Maybe they saw it as a bonding experience. The new kid tonight had almost seemed to enjoy it. He'd grinned through a split lip at Tim, toward the end. That had been Tim's cue: "Welcome to the Burnley Town Massive."


It was a Robin tradition. Dick, who'd invented the shtick, had advised Tim very carefully on the timing. Feed the line. Get thanked. Wait two beats. Cue right uppercut. "Now *quit.*"

As Tim pulled his head free of the running water, he realized the opposite shower had started up. The Batcave showers were built like an old high school gym: two rows of shower nozzles on opposite walls. No stalls, no curtains. It wasn't as bad as it sounded. He ignored Bruce, and Bruce ignored him.

Bruce, Tim realized, didn't usually hum in the shower. And if he did, it wouldn't sound like --

Tim risked a cautious glance over his shoulder. He and the other party were facing in almost opposite directions, but he glimpsed enough to be sure he wasn't hallucinating. He saw long hair, and an arm, and the outer curve of --

Tim turned away. He reached for the soap and began to mechanically scrub himself for a second time while his brain processed the situation.

It wasn't Bruce.

It was Cass.

She was naked.

So was Tim.

Tim locked his face to the wall and rinsed off the soap. Then, cautiously, he began to sidestep to the hook where he'd left his towel. He reached it, wrapped the towel around himself, and left the shower. He didn't look back.


The problem with being a teenage superhero, Tim thought, was that it made for a distinct lack of brooding time.

It wasn't that he wanted to brood, exactly. But he wasn't sure what to make of Cass getting into the shower with him, and he wanted to spend some quiet time figuring it out. It was hard to do that when --

"Robin! Watch it!"

-- a meter-thick metallic tentacle flashed through the space Tim had just occupied and bit into the ground with a thunk.

As Tim rolled for cover, he was dimly aware of Superboy haranguing him from the air twelve feet above Tim's right shoulder. Tim risked a quick glance and saw that Superboy was hovering in space. He'd told Kon not to do that in combat. It made him too exposed, too vulnerable.

"What the hell are you doing?" Kon-El's look was incredulous. "You're not invulnerable! If that thing hits you, it'll -- oof!"

Tim didn't wait to watch Kon go flying. He vaulted a rock, grabbed a branch, and swung up into the trees. When he reached the ground again, he glanced around. By the time Kon recovered, Tim might be able to put this thing out of action. If he could find the control unit --

-- if the tentacle that had just torn through the underbrush in front of him didn't tear his head off first.

As the tentacle reared up to strike, Tim tensed himself to move. Then he heard something. It was faint, but getting closer. He recognized Kon's voice a split second before Kon dropped from the sky and plowed into the tentacle at full speed.

" 'Yaaaaa?' " said Tim. "Your great battle cry is 'Yaaaaa?' "

"What were you expecting?" said Kon. He propped himself up and brushed his hair back. Kon's body had produced an impressive dent in the side of the tentacle, the length of which was now partially buried in the ground. The grasping end of the tentacle twitched feebly as Kon jumped free and dusted himself off.

"Careful," said Tim. "There are still -- "

A second tentacle grabbed Kon's ankles from behind, lifted him into the air, and began slamming him repeatedly. After dashing Kon against the ground, a tree, and a rock, it tossed him into the air, whipped around, and hit him as if he was a baseball destined for the cheap seats.

"Okay," Tim dimly heard Kon say as he sailed into the distance, "now I'm mad."

Tim pulled a batarang and looked for a target of opportunity. His other teammates were well-engaged in the fight. A quick glance to his right revealed Wonder Girl grappling with yet another tentacle. As she bent back, her muscles straining, Tim felt a strange sense of disconnect. For a moment, he remembered the glimpse he'd caught of the skin at the small of Cass's back. Where her body curved in, then out, on the way down to her --


Tim threw his legs out to the side. Dropping into a full split, he ducked forward as far as he could, letting the tentacle whistle over him. When it bit into the ground again, he'd have a moment before it could get free --

The tentacle didn't bother to get free. It simply dropped until its length lay on the ground. Except for the part that rested on Tim.

Tim opened his eyes again when he felt a shadow cross his face. Squinting, he looked up at the silhouettes surrounding him. He gave a perfunctory strain, met no results, and accepted the inevitable.

"Go on," said Tim. "Get it over with."

The laughter hurt, but not as much as Tim's chest. He gritted his teeth and endured the laughter and pointing fingers of his teammates as they gathered around the patch of ground where Tim lay underneath Cyborg's latest training device, with his crotch and torso flush against the ground and his legs at ninety-degree angles to his body.

"Wow," said Kid Flash. Grimacing, he twisted his neck. "Does that hurt?"

"Hurts me," said Kon. "And I'm just looking at it."

Tim growled.


The locker room at Titans Tower was smaller than the Batcave's, but it did have the advantage of being much more convenient to the whirlpool bath. Also, there was a half-wall between the shower and locker room proper, which was good for modesty and for having a place to put shampoo.

The other side of the shower was a full wall that Tim had found was very good for banging his head against.

He lifted his head from under the water and felt a strong sense of deja vu. A cold knot settled into his stomach as he realized that someone else was there.

Please, God, he thought, don't let it be Wonder Girl.

"Dude," said Kon, "did something happen to you or what?"

Tim breathed a sigh of relief. He turned off the water and looked over his shoulder. Kon was fully dressed. He was leaning against the doorway and holding a towel, which he tossed to Tim.

Tim wiped his face and then tucked the towel around his waist. "Sort of," he said.

Kon rolled his eyes. "'Sort of.' Look, I'm supposed to be your friend, right? Why don't you just for once try to actually tell me what's going on?"

Tim stepped out of the shower area and grabbed his shampoo. "Batgirl got into the shower with me last night," he said.

Kon blinked. He picked up Tim's conditioner, knotted his brow, and then blinked again. "What?!" he said. He stared after Tim for a moment, and with a burst of super-speed was beside the bench where Tim was sorting through his clothes. "Dude, that's awesome! ...wait." He frowned. "My Batgirl?"

"She's not your Batgirl -- "

"I dated her!" Kon protested. "For, like, a week. Sort of. We smooched... twice..." Tim pulled up his underwear, dropped the towel onto the bench, and stepped into his pants. " -- and you saw her naked!"

Tim pulled his shirt over his head.

Kon gripped Tim's shoulder. "I want details."


It was a measure of how Tim's day had gone that he was relieved to be prowling the rooftops of Gotham for the sole reason that being in costume meant nobody would be sneaking up on him while he was naked.

In the few off moments of his patrol, he found some time to think.

He'd told Kon that he hadn't looked. And he hadn't. Much.

Kon had told Tim that he hated him. But he didn't. Much.

Kon had seemed jealous, but proud. That felt odd to Tim, who hadn't been anxious to talk about what had happened, or Cass's body, or his reaction to it. He'd talked about girls with Dick, before, but whenever the conversation had turned towards... appreciation, it had always been general and theoretical: Poison Ivy vs. Catwoman. Dick had never asked him if he'd been getting it on with Steph, and what noises she made; when Dick and Babs were on, Tim never asked how the sex-with-a-paraplegic thing worked, anyway, or exactly what Babs's breasts looked like.

Kon had wanted a description of Cass's body, down to skin pores.

Tim thought he'd had been joking about the skin pores. Maybe.

He knew guys were supposed to talk about girls crudely, at least sometimes. In theory, anyway. None of his friends who weren't superheroes were particularly successful at getting dates, and most of those who were superheroes still weren't, so they never had anything to talk about. Okay, Dick had those French acrobat cat-burgling sisters who kept chasing after him, but that was Dick, and he was actually embarrassed by it.

The little detailed talk about sex Tim had heard made him feel awkward and embarrassed. The thought of talking, bragging, that way himself didn't sit well. It would be like being at a stakeout, only on the wrong end of the parabolic ear.

Really, the way some people were obsessed with sex was just... ridiculous.

So why did he keep remembering the way Cass's damp hair had clung to her back? And why did his brain stubbornly persist in flashing back to the outer curve of her right breast, when he'd only caught the teeniest glimpse of that, and hadn't really seen it at all?

It demanded serious mulling over, but there were three muggings, two burglaries, and an attempted kidnapping, so Tim didn't have the time.


The Batcave was quiet when Tim returned. That was all to the good. Tim grabbed a towel from the rack near Batman's desk. He draped the towel over his shoulder. He could shower quickly and leave before --

There was a soft thud behind Tim. The kind of thud that was made when somebody came in through an upper cave entrance and didn't use the staircase, but dropped fifteen feet to the floor just for the fun of it.

Tim turned slowly to see Cass pulling off her mask. Her forehead was damp with perspiration. She tugged her gloves off with her teeth, then pulled her scrunchie loose and shook her hair free.

Cass looked at Tim, and at his towel.

Tim hastily put the towel down.

"Um," said Tim, "I'm just going to. Er. I think -- I'll shower at home. Gotta -- " He pointed aimlessly off into the distance. Somewhere else. "You know."

Cass shrugged.

As Tim sighed in relief, Cass pulled her shirt off and tossed it onto the desk. Her sports bra came with it.

Tim turned away a split-second too late.

He stared at the desktop and tried not to look away from it. Especially when her pants and boxer briefs landed next to her shirt.

Tim locked his gaze on the computer keyboard. He wouldn't look. There was no reason to. He'd wait until Cass was safely in the shower and then he'd go home and he'd never think about this again. He wasn't imagining what he'd see if he just turned his head a fraction as she went by, naked, trailing the odor of exertion and something else that he'd never figured out but smelled spicy and clean at the same time and just smelled like Cass --

He looked.

It was only an instant before he turned back, and Cass had already passed him. But the glimpse was burned into his mind, and as he closed his eyes he could still see her long, smooth legs and golden brown skin, gleaming with sweat --

Tim lowered his head to the desk and began beating his forehead against the surface.


"There has to be some explanation," Kon said.

"Maybe she's evil!"

Tim and Kon turned their heads and stared at Kid Flash. After a moment, Tim turned back and looked at Kon. "I still can't believe you told Bart," Tim said.

"Dude," said Kon, "I'm telling everyone."

Bart bristled. "She could be evil," he said. "It's possible."

"Yes," said Kon. "Bart's right. She is an evil, foul temptress, and she isn't doing this to me." He picked up a large wood chip from the flower bed and launched it at Bart with a wrist-blurring motion. By the time Tim had finished blinking, Bart was standing next to him, having caught the chip and found the time to whittle it into a passable but extremely unflattering bas-relief of Kon, with "Superdork" carved underneath it. Tim wondered if Bart had a pocketknife, or if he just used a fingernail and lots of friction.

"No," said Bart. He tossed the wood chip back to Kon. "When superheroines go bad, they always redesign their costume so they're wearing less clothing, right? Less clothing means evil."

"That's stupid," Kon said. He began ticking off points on his fingers. "Starfire. Huntress. Black Canary..."

Tim said, "Supergirl?"

Kon was considerate and threw the wood chip slowly enough for Tim to dodge it.

"Read the Justice League histories, guys," Bart said. "Unexpected nudity rarely leads to anything good." He reached up with one hand and scratched his scalp. Tim wasn't sure how he even found it under his mop of hair. "Maybe she's possessed!"

Tim shook his head. "I admit the sudden nudity is puzzling. And the whole shared shower aspect of it. But Batgirl does strange things sometimes. I don't really understand her." Tim picked up a pebble between thumb and forefinger, then snapped his wrist and watched the stone bounce across the grass. "Maybe it's one of those things where she's trying to be more like Batman."

The silence that fell alerted Tim to the fact that he'd said the wrong thing, and that his friends were taking an extra moment to decide on the worst possible way to razz him.

After another moment, he realized they weren't paying attention to him at all.

Tim took a deep breath and turned around.

In the covered archway behind him stood most of the female contingent of the Teen Titans, who were staring at Tim as if he'd just grown another head.

"Batman showers with you?" said Raven.

"Never mind," said Tim desperately.

Mia grinned. "Sounds kinda hot, if you ask me."

"Never mind!"

Wonder Girl's eyes bulged. "Does he ever scrub your --"



There were times, Tim realized, when panicked flight was an entirely acceptable course of action.

As was climbing a tree to get away.

From thirty feet up in the branches of one of Kory's alien botanicals, all of Tim's problems seemed a little smaller. He just needed to be alone for a while. To think. Tim was good at thinking through things. He could manage that, if only people would quit sneaking up on him.

"Hi, Kory," Tim said.

From behind him came Kory's musical tinkle of laughter. "Just like Nightwing!" she said. "He does the same thing. How do you learn to do that?"

"Spend time with Batman," said Tim. "You pick it up." If you wanted to preserve any sanity. Although it actually had more to do with spending time with Alfred, who was even sneakier than Bruce when he wanted to be. Bruce blended into the night. Alfred blended into the furniture.

Kory floated around in front of him. "How long have you been there?" she said. She sounded concerned.

"About twenty minutes."


Tim waited. Kory was still smiling, but there was something nervous about it. Tim felt a cold knot growing in his stomach. "Why?" he said.

Kory hesitated. "You can still move, can't you?"

Tim blinked. He tried to turn his head and felt the slightest pressure under one ear. Carefully, he lifted a hand and found a long, thin branch pressing against his skin. He was sure it hadn't been there twenty minutes ago. "Kory," he said, "am I sitting in something that's going to try to kill me?"

"No, no," she said. "It's only a Mobian valvort. They just get a little clingy." She craned her neck to look. "It hasn't gone under your skin yet, has it?"

"Would I have noticed?"

"Probably not. It's a sly little thing. Come here."

Kory stretched out her arms. Carefully, Tim put his hands on her shoulders and slid out of the tree. The branches let go of his cape with regret. "You're terribly light," Kory said cheerfully. "Even lighter than your brother."

She meant Dick, of course. They'd almost gotten married once. Tim still hoped that Dick and Barbara would work things out, but Kory wouldn't have been a bad sort-of-sister-in-law. A woman who was beautiful, tall, friendly, and could pick Tim up as though he were the size of a small cat.

A small cat who was face-to-not-face with Kory's abundant cleavage.

"Kory, could you hold me a little higher?"

"Oh. I'm sorry."


"Come on," she said, smiling. "I think it's safe for you to be on the ground again."

They drifted downward slowly. Kory kept a firm grip on Tim until his feet rested firmly on the earth. Hers did, too, which meant that Tim was back to looking at her cleavage again. He craned his neck and looked up into her irisless green eyes. "Thanks for the rescue, Kory," he said.

"Maybe you should pick another tree next time you want to brood," she said gently.

She sounded sympathetic, even for Kory. And she knew he'd been brooding --

Tim sighed. "You've heard the story, haven't you?"

Kory blinked. "About you seeing Batgirl naked?" she said. "Or about you and Batman showering together?"

Tim winced. "There are separate nozzles," he said weakly. "Really, there's absolutely nothing untoward about it -- "

Kory put a hand on Tim's shoulder. "I wouldn't see anything wrong with it if there were."

Tim groaned. He turned his face to the alien tree and rested his forehead against the trunk. It felt cold and a little slimy, but he didn't much care. Kory's voice was gentle and supportive, and there were some things Tim really didn't want to be supported in.

"Careful!" said Kory. "Valvorts love nostrils."

Tim jerked back. He felt a soft pressure against his shoulderblades, realized it was Kory's breasts, jumped forward, and nearly fell into the tree again before Kory grasped his shoulders and turned him to face her.

"You're not usually this jumpy," she said, sounding concerned. "You must really be worried."

"It's been a weird couple of days. I saw Batgirl naked, people keep walking in on me in the shower, an alien tree wants to molest my nostrils, and it seems like every time I turn around, there's somebody behind me."

Kory's brow wrinkled. She bent forward and peered over Tim's shoulder. Her eyes widened.

Tim whirled around. No one was there. He turned back to see Kory smiling again. "Kidding," she said.

Tim sagged against the trunk, taking care to keep his nostrils out of harm's way. "I just don't know what any of it means," he said. He ran a hand through his hair.

Kory frowned. It was an odd look to see on her face. Tim was only used to seeing her either cheerful or full of wrath. "It means she trusts you," Kory said. "It's difficult for many humans to be comfortable naked in the presence of another. Even if that other is a friend."

She said that as if it were unusual. Well, given the costume Kory usually wore in public, for her it was. "I... guess..." Tim said slowly.

"Would you feel comfortable with me if we were naked right now?"

Tim looked at the ground and shook his head. He tried to hide his smile. "Kory, that question offers pitfalls on so many levels."

Kory patted his cheek reassuringly. Her skin was warmer than a human's, and despite her strength her touch was gentle. "If I were you, I wouldn't worry about it," she said. "She trusts you. Trust her back." She smiled at Tim and took a step back. "Although I will say all this talk of showers gets me thinking one would feel nice about now. Would you like to join me?"

"No," said Tim in a strangled voice. "That's all right."

Kory smiled at him and winked. "Kidding," she said.


There were nights when Gotham City was alive with crime. Nights when shots in one part of the city were answered by shots in another. Nights when supervillains launched mad, complex schemes to terrorize the innocent and bring the city to its knees.

Tonight, an aggressive patrol Tim had developed based on a comprehensive GIS survey of Gotham's most dangerous neighborhoods had netted him two lousy crooks.

They weren't supervillains, henchmen, or even most wanted material. They were petty burglars. He'd had them on the ground, unconscious, and hogtied inside of twenty seconds. Ordinarily, he'd have left them immediately after contacting Barbara and letting her notify the police. Tonight, he'd hung around for five minutes hoping some of their friends would show up.

The streetlights were out, but through his starlight lenses Tim could see the deserted sidewalks up and down both sides of the street. He checked the likely avenues of attack: alley openings, doors of buildings. Rooftops and windows, for would-be snipers.

In the distance, headlights flashed. Tim gripped a batarang and assumed a ready stance.

The headlights dimmed as the car turned off onto another street.

Tim looked down at his handiwork and hoped that one of them would struggle a little.

In his ear, Barbara was softly singing. She had a nice voice, but she never sang when she knew anyone was listening. Must be using the sound-activated mike tonight. Tim could hear the clink of her spoon against the side of the mug as she stirred her tea. It was a homey sound, and strangely comforting.

"Hey, Oracle," he said.

"What's up, Boy Wonder?" she said. "Need some information?"

Tim grinned. "Actually, I was going to request 'Girl from Ipanema.'"

"Oh, look," Barbara said cheerfully. "Every college in the United States has decided to reject you." Tim heard the clatter of keystrokes. "...ooh, and Europe."

"Where am I going to get in?" Tim said. "University of Shanghai? Ouagadougu State?"

"McMurdo Station Community College."

"Antarctica," said Tim. "Nice."

"Mmm! Though you'll have a hard time flying there, now that the names on all of your passports are on government watch lists."

"You only know about the ones Batman gave me."

"I know you've got three more."


"You're bluffing," said Barbara. She paused. "Six?"

Tim laughed.

"The cops are on their way for those bad guys," Barbara said. "Looks like a slow night. Might as well get back to the Cave, get to work on whatever plans you have."

Tim looked down at the result of his long hours of homework. He could spend some more time on the computer, refine the pattern. He could look up other suspiciously quiet areas in dangerous parts of the city, try to identify new consolidations of gang power or supervillain hideouts. He could review cold cases, see if anything in the files jogged his memory or had parallels in recent crimes.

"Actually," said Tim, "I think I'm just going to take a shower."


Cass was working a training dummy when Tim got back to the Cave.

He remembered, watching her, how she'd frightened him at first. Sometimes she still did. The spare beauty of her blows made Tim flash back to thirteen and his first frantic fight with Two-Face, when he'd seen his naive confidence in all his childish fantasies and preparations evaporate because he'd faced a supervillain and had found out just how far he was from good enough. The physical side of Robin's work had never come easily to Tim, the way it had to Dick. But Dick was a natural athlete. Cass was just... unnatural.

He'd avoided her a lot while he was coming to terms with that. She'd grown up fighting, not speaking, and body language was her native tongue. She would have read Tim's jealousy in the stillness of his jaw. She'd have read other things, too. That had given Tim another reason to stay away. It didn't seem fair for somebody else to know how he was feeling when he usually didn't know himself.

He stood at the edge of the practice mats and watched her move.

"Hi, Cass," he said.

Cass grunted.

"Well," said Tim. "I'm just going to. Hit the showers."

Cass trapped the dummy's arm, worked up it with a series of wing chun punches, and landed a fast one-two to the head.

"Um," said Tim.

He stepped away from her until he was standing where she'd been standing the night before. His towel was there; Alfred was always reliable. Tim pulled the tunic off, and his boots.

She trusts you, he told himself. Trust her back.

Tim took a deep breath and dropped his pants. He threw them over the chair at his desk, then stripped off his shorts without giving himself time to think about it.

He started to wrap the towel around himself. Hesitated. Then, carefully, he threw the towel over his shoulder and walked deliberately to the showers.

The Batcave floor, he realized, was very cold. He didn't look back over his shoulder at Cass, to see if she was looking at him. He just kept walking, one foot in front of the other, and tried to project an image of complete calm. He had the feeling he was failing miserably, but he tried anyway.

The shower itself was a relief. He was still naked, but at least he was alone.

He'd just gotten the water where he wanted it when he felt another presence. Tim stepped under the water and let it run through his hair and over his back. He didn't look away from the tile wall on his side until he heard the opposite shower start. Tim glanced over. It was the same view he'd had the other night; Cass was facing mostly away from him, and the curve of her breast was visible as she lifted her arm to smooth back her hair.

Casually, Tim turned his shower to cold. When his teeth were on the verge of chattering, he turned the water back to lukewarm, turned around and soaped up.

I'm your friend, he hoped his body said. I'm naked and I have no weapons and I trust you. The problem with being a teenaged male was that he ran the risk of his body saying something else entirely.

It wasn't the scenario he'd expected. Cass wasn't even looking at him. Maybe that was best. She had her face down and her hands in her hair, scrubbing away. Little bubbles of Johnson's baby shampoo trickled down behind her ears and over her shoulder, and Tim casually watched them flow, as if they were an abstract pattern in a lava lamp. It wasn't so difficult, he thought; Cass wasn't making a big deal out of things at all. Maybe Kory had been right.

Then Cass turned to him as she threw back her head to rinse her hair.

Tim could see everything.

She had small, firm breasts with dark nipples. Her belly button was an innie. Her body hair was very light, but there was no stubble anywhere he could see. There were scars on her abdomen, and on her arm, and high on her shoulder; the ones on her back, Tim knew, were the worst. She looked graceful and sleek and soft and deadly, and Tim couldn't remember what he'd wanted his body to say.

He blinked, and realized that Cass had finished rinsing out her hair. Now she was rummaging about in the recessed soapdishes on her side. There didn't seem to be any soap. She checked one, then another.

Tim hesitated, then extended his arm.

"Here," he said, holding out his bar. "I'm done anyway."

For the first time, Cass looked at him.

As Tim held his breath, Cass stretched out her hand. Tim extended his elbow. She reached out for him. Then her hand passed the soap and kept going.

Cass's fingertips brushed Tim's skin, and then her palm pressed into his chest. She pushed. Surprised, Tim stepped back. There wasn't far to go. Cass pressed him up against the tile wall. The tile was cold against his skin, but it didn't register as strongly as the pressure of Cassandra's hand. She pushed him into the wall, held the position, so he stayed.

Then her hand slid down his chest, over his belly --

Tim felt an instant of sheer, brain-jarring panic.

His mind rapidly searched for a possible explanation. There could be a bomb taped to his testicles. One he hadn't noticed yet.

Cass's hand encircled him.

Then Cass -- did something. He didn't know what. It must have been her ability to read body language. She was watching him and she knew what worked and --

When Tim's brain cleared, he found himself sagging against the shower wall. His vision was blurry, and he knew that if he blinked a few times there would be only one of Cassandra again, and that one would actually be in focus. He blinked slowly. It was harder work than he'd remembered. As he practiced, Cass plucked the soap from his nerveless hand. She held her other hand under his shower and rinsed it off.

Then she turned away and went back to washing.

Tim huddled under his own shower for several seconds. He opened his mouth and tried to speak, but he couldn't think of any words so he gave it up.

Tim walked out of the shower on unsteady legs.


Kon yelled, "She did WHAT?!?"

It was a beautiful day at Titans Tower. Tim and Kon were on a bench by the water, well out of reach of Kory's botanicals. Tim wasn't sure, but he thought the valvort had been somehow paying extra attention to him recently.

Tim didn't say anything in response to Kon's outburst. He locked his eyes out on the water, where the wind whipped up little whitecaps. Near the shore, a fish was plucked from the water by a bird and whisked out of its element to an unexpected fate. Tim could empathize.

"You know her," Kon said finally. "What does that mean?"

"I don't have a clue."

"How, exactly, can you not have a clue?" Kon said. "She climbed -- naked! -- into your shower, stole your soap, and jerked you off!"

"She didn't steal my soap. I gave it to her."

"And then she jerked you off! What is that? Is that how they say 'thank you' on her planet?"

Tim didn't think there was any planet where people said thank you that way. Well, maybe Kory's.

"You realize," Kon said, "that although I am duty-bound to hate you, you are now in fact a sex god." He hesitated. "So, um, what happens now?"

Tim said, with heartfelt honesty, "I have absolutely no idea."


The next time Tim saw Cass, he was on his way in from patrol. It was happenstance, more than anything. It wasn't as if he'd been monitoring Oracle's communications channels and estimating Cass's route from her transmissions so he could plot an intersecting path, timing his arrival to coincide with her hogtying the last bad guy she'd pummelled.

He been thinking about it, true, but he hadn't done it.

Not intentionally, anyway.

As Tim swung overhead and prepared for his landing, he glimpsed a flicker of motion. Cass's former opponents had friends, six real bruisers, coming out of the alleys.

One of them had taken advantage of Cass's distraction to get close. Too close.

Tim cut his swing short and let go of the jumpline. He dropped down behind Cass, ready to block the thug's blow and take him out. As he landed, Cass's arm blurred and her torso arched as she swung around with a backfist.

Tim dropped to a crouch by sheer reflex. The blow flashed over his head and into the thug's jaw even as Cass kicked another attacker in the chest. As the first attacker dropped, Cass rolled over the back of the second, landing a kick on the third, knocking him into the fourth, then brought up her heel into the face of the second, who was still clutching his chest and uttering wheezing groans. The fifth rushed her, and a simple trip and throw sent him face-first into the pavement. The sixth stayed well back, but Cass, her cape billowing with the movement, rolled into range and, from her knees, landed a brutal uppercut to his testicles.

Tim stood up very slowly.

Cass glanced at him, then went right back to flexicuffing the thugs. Most of them weren't conscious any more. A couple were, but the fight had gone out of them. The man Cass had punched in the crotch was white-faced. When Cass cuffed him, he shuddered and made a little whimper.

"Sorry I landed too close," said Tim. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"You didn't."

Tim frowned. "Wait," he said. "You knew it was me?"

Cass shrugged. "You didn't attack."

"And you still swung?"

"I knew you'd duck," she said.

That was a big sentence for Cass. And a joke, too. Tim grinned at her. It was probably a stupid grin, he realized. It felt odd, but given the circumstances he was probably entitled.

"So," said Tim. "Um. Listen, do you want to do something later tonight?"

"Training," said Cass.

Tim hesitated. He had no idea what the etiquette was in this kind of situation. Every scenario he'd ever envisioned that involved a woman doing what Cass had done had involved them going out on many dates beforehand. He wasn't sure how to ask out someone who had already demonstrated interest by bringing him to orgasm in the shower.

In retrospect, he should have started planning for these contingencies after the morning he'd woken up to find Shiva sitting on the foot of his bed and telling him it was time to "enter a new world."

She'd meant combat training, of course, but for a good few seconds he'd thought she meant something else entirely.

It should have been a warning.

"Other than that," he said.

"No," Cass said.

The last of the thugs secured, Cass stepped back and pulled the grapple from her utility belt. She stretched up an arm toward one of the buildings.

Cass fired her jumpline and was gone, leaving Tim open-mouthed on the street below.

"Dude," said the thug at his feet, "that was pathetic."

"Shut up."


If Cass didn't want to do anything other than training, Tim thought as the water beat down on him, the least she could do was not get so naked.

Actually, on further reflection, the least she could do was not get so naked *right next to him.*

He'd turned his back on her as soon as he'd entered the shower. She was clean enough, he thought, so he didn't know why she was still there. Cass loved her showers, sure, but there was a limit. If she hadn't been there, he wouldn't have to look at her, or think about what had happened. He wouldn't have to diagnose his reaction to the muscles of her legs, or imagine how her skin might feel, or remember how good she was with her hands when she -- no, none of that.

How had his default had gone from total lack of anything to the assumption that further handjobs would be in his future? It didn't make sense. He hadn't wanted anything like that in the first place. So now why was his mind obstinately refusing to think of anything but --

Tim spun around. “Look, Cass,” he said, “I don’t know what -- "

Cass stepped forward and kissed him.

She kissed the way she fought. Gracefully, fluidly, but with power. Startled, Tim reflexively gasped, and Cass took the opportunity to kiss more deeply. Her tongue brushed over Tim’s own, and her breasts pressed against him. Her toned arms pulled him close, and then pressed back. For a moment, Tim thought she was pushing him away, and then she followed, so that she was pressing Tim against the tile with the length of her body and Tim’s arms were full of naked Batgirl.

Tim stopped thinking and kissed her back until she hooked his leg.

He broke the fall instinctively, but couldn’t roll with it; he didn’t have anywhere to go. The shock of hitting the tile hard broke the spell for a moment, but only a moment before Cass was above him, and on him, and -- and, oh God, around him.

For a moment after she settled onto Tim, her face held a strange expression. It wasn't pain, or discomfort. Awkwardness, unfamiliarity. It seemed out of place on Cass, who was always so at ease in her body.

Then the expression disappeared, and Cass began to move.

She slid her body along him, moving back and forth, and then moving her hips: in a small circle at first, and then beckoning with them, and -- just when Tim thought he'd got enough of a handle on things to move with her -- reaching down and behind her with her fingertips to brush his thighs or the area between them, making his vision swim. In a brief moment of clarity, he saw her watching him: looking from the point where their bodies joined, moving up, taking in the tremors of his ribcage, the movement of his shoulders, of his face. As he watched, her movement changed, and her eyes played over him again.

She reads you, you idiot, he thought. She knows exactly what you're feeling. What you're thinking. What you want --

Cass grinned at him. And flexed.

Tim closed his eyes and accepted the inevitable.


When Tim could make sense of the world again, Cass's weight wasn't on him anymore.

He opened his eyes cautiously and glanced down his body. Legs were next to him. Cass legs. They were standing. Cass was standing. Tim was not standing. Or thinking very well.

A gentle finger traced the borders of Tim's jaw.

Tim looked up.

He saw Cass's face, and her arm, and felt something that must have been her hand. Cass was standing, but she had bent over, and she had reached out to touch him. He could feel her, the way he could feel the little drops of water from the two showerheads that bounced off the tile and the puddles and onto his cheeks.

Cassandra’s fingertips traced the borders of his face.

She looked down at him and smiled. Cass, Tim realized, had a sweet smile. He'd never noticed it before.

Cass touched him gently, and smiled at him, and brushed his hair from his face.

Then she stepped away from him and went back to showering as if nothing whatsoever had happened.


"I feel enraged," said Kon, "yet strangely pitying."

There were dark circles under Tim's eyes. His hair was a disheveled mess. It had been two nights since Batgirl had swept his leg, pinned him, and deflowered him on the floor of the Batcave shower. Since then, he hadn't slept for more than an hour at a time.

"I don't understand," Tim said. His hands tugged at his hair. "At all. Why is this happening to me?"

Kon shrugged. "Dude, I'm asking the same question. Every night." He shook his head. "Sometimes three or four times..."

"Maybe somebody's going to break out of Arkham soon," said Tim hopefully.

Kon stared at him. "You'd rather track down a psychopathic supervillain than have strenuous, athletic sex with Batgirl?"

"It's less confusing."

"Wow," said Kon. He frowned. "Has anybody ever told you that maybe you need to get your priorities adjusted?"

"You, constantly."

"Then there's no need to repeat myself," said Kon. "I'm only going to say three words." He raised his hands theatrically. "Batgirl. Naked. Showers."

"I thought you were enraged."

"Yeah, but I'm living vicariously through you now." Kon hesitated. "Seriously... what was it like? What was she like?"

Tim thought about it. "Aggressive," he said.

Kon said, "You lucky bastard."

Tim thought, am I?


It was a relief to walk into the Batcave and see Bruce.

Tim was starting to suspect that something was wrong with him. Admittedly, his life wasn't that of the typical teenager, but he had a strong suspicion that none of the other teen male heroes would have hesitated to go on patrol due to the increasing risk of seeing an attractive woman naked, or even getting laid.

He was so focused on Bruce that it took Tim a moment to realize Cass was there, too. She'd taken her mask off, but was still in her uniform; Bruce, who had an appearance at an after-hours club to make tonight, so he could be linked with some young starlet who really preferred other women but needed some gossip-column publicity, was fresh out of the showers and in his dressing gown. His hair was wet and tousled, and he looked like he needed a shave, but he still projected Batman. Tim admired that.

He'd come in on the tail end of things. Cass reached down to the printer, then handed something over. It looked like a surveillance photo, a printout from the new cowl-cam Oracle had been experimenting with. Bruce looked at it briefly, smiled a little, then put a hand lightly on Cass's shoulder for a moment. "Good work, Batgirl," Bruce said.

That was the most praise Bruce usually gave. He wasn't free with it, but he wasn't exactly stingy. He said "Good work" from time to time, when it was deserved. It always gave Tim a warm feeling that he hadn't ever been able to quite analyze. It wasn't pride or happiness, but it was a little glow of something. Tim tried to respond the way Bruce would like him to, so when Bruce said "Good work" to him he just acknowledged it with a little nod.

Cass's whole face lit up.

Tim was close enough now to the desk to see the photo when Bruce put it down. The Mayor's new choice for the Police Commission, shaking hands with the Penguin, in the Penguin's club, with topless dancers on either side of him and a pile of cash on the table. He wasn't looking at the camera, but the Penguin was, and the anger on Cobblepott's face made Tim grin, in spite of everything.

"Tim," said Bruce. "How are things?"

"Quiet," said Tim. Behind Bruce, Cass stepped away; she was heading for the costume vaults or the practice mats. Tim wasn't sure which. He cleared his throat and stepped a little closer.

"Bruce," said Tim, his voice lowered, "has Cass seemed strange to you recently?"

Bruce Wayne blinked. Looking up from the photograph, he slowly turned to face Tim, a carefully blank expression on his face.

Tim added, "More than usual."

Please, please, please, he prayed, don't make me elaborate.

"Why do you ask?" said Bruce.

Dammit. "No reason."

Bruce frowned. He looked at Tim's face, and Tim hoped for a second he'd say something useful, like "Yes, I have, and by the way, did I mention the Mad Hatter is on the loose again?" or "She has an evil twin," or "Cassandra has the flu and I asked Superman to replace her with a robot duplicate. Why, is it that obvious?"

But Bruce didn't. He just looked at Tim, and frowned.

"Looks like you've had a rough night," Bruce said.

Tim nodded.

"Well," said Bruce, drawing his robe around him and making for the stairs, "go hit the showers."


Cass was there, of course.

She hadn't fought her way out of the Penguin's club without incident. There was a fresh bruise on her shoulder, and another, smaller, one on the side of her jaw. The dark colors stood out against her skin. Cass could get hit -- not all that often, or easily, but it happened, especially when she was fighting multiple opponents. Sometimes Tim had seen her take blows for the fun of it, or to get a better angle of attack. He'd done the latter himself: take one, give back two. Cass usually gave back around six.

Tim tried not to dwell on the fact that he found her bruises arousing.

The advantage of having had sex with Cass was that he was now reasonably certain that he had tacit permission to look at her when she was in the shower with him and naked. This simplified matters; he didn't have to slink away, or look at the wall, or any of that. The disadvantage was that he still didn't know what was going on.

"Hi," said Tim.

Cass ran a loofah over her shoulder, over the bruise. She craned her neck, looking at the mottled blue and purple.

Tim cleared his throat. "Want me to... um, get your back or something?"

Cass said, "No."

Tim said, "Okay."

After a moment's hesitation, he turned away.

As post-sex conversations went, it left something to be desired. He was fairly sure that he should be doing something demonstrative for Cass by this point in their... relationship? Was that what it was? He wasn't sure. They hadn't even had a date. Unless you counted crimefighting, which Tim wasn't entirely sure he shouldn't. Maybe Cass didn't know, either.

Tim turned away from Cass and let the water work its magic on his shoulders. He pushed his head under the water and shook, loosening the gel and brushing out Robin's double curl.

When he pulled his head out from underneath the water, something seemed off. A moment later, Tim realized that the sound of the water had changed. The water behind him, under Cass's shower, was louder, falling harder, as if nothing was in the way, and the water in front of him was making softer sounds.

Tim opened his eyes.

He glanced down just in time to see Cass take him into her mouth.

Tim's fingers stiffened in a convulsive jolt. He pressed his hand into the wall for balance. His other hand cupped the side of Cass's head -- not the back, he thought dimly, don't push. Her jaw opened and closed under his hand, as she adjusted the angle and as he grew; he could feel her muscles working, and the thought of that added somehow to the sensation. He brushed his thumb over her cheek, and his fingertips, gingerly, over the bruise on her jaw. Cass made a small sound and put her hand on his own; for a moment, Tim was embarrassed at what he'd done, but then she squeezed his fingers and pressed them into her jaw, hard.

When Cass pressed his fingers against the swollen skin, she tensed, but she didn't let him go. He slid his hand under her chin, cupping her jaw, and squeezed that way. In her throat, Cass made a sound that was harsher, deeper, and she pressed her mouth harder onto him. Tim found himself moving, going faster to meet her mouth; he had to be careful; he didn't want to choke her. Cass eased back on him for a moment, then put her hand over his again and slid forward until -- God, Tim thought, should he even be this deep in her mouth? how could she breathe, it wasn't safe --

He reached down, bending until he could grasp her under her arms, then tugged until she was on her feet again. He pressed her against the wall and kissed her mouth, her jaw, her neck. He played his tongue lightly across her swelling jaw, and the bruise, and she hissed before pulling his head back and kissing his mouth. Tim cupped a breast in his hand and brushed a soap-slickened thumb across her nipple while his other hand pressed gently on her thigh to move her legs apart. When he had room for what he wanted, he dropped to his knees and buried his face between her thighs.

Cass helped him. She was good that way in a fight: she’d give him a look, or exaggerate a posture for a split-second, just enough to cue Tim as to what she wanted. Now she let him know with the angle of her hips, a touch of his head, pressure on his shoulder. When she tugged on his hair, Tim stood and wrapped her legs around his waist. She pressed her back against the wall and arched into him. He slid into her, out and back in again, matching the movements of her hips with his own.

He tried to listen the way she did, to take in her motions and postures, her little looks and involuntary jerks and the way her hand clenched on her shoulder, the way she bit her bottom lip when Tim moved just so, the way she clenched when he moved deep, the little gasps and shudders and sighs, all of it to see what her body said.

It said yes.

Afterward, when Cass detached herself and went back to showering, Tim did the same.


Tim said, "I think I'm getting the hang of this, and it's scaring me."

Kon nodded absently. "Go over the part again where you did her standing up against the shower wall."

Tim stared at him. "What're you going to do, jerk off thinking about it later?"

After an awkward silence, Kon cleared his throat.

Tim buried his head in his hands. "Oh, Christ."

"Look," said Kon, "face it. You are living one of the great jerk-off fantasies of the male teenaged superhero. Superceded only by Wonder Woman and the original Batgirl -- "

Tim's mind's eye chose that moment to serve up a vivid image of Barbara, surrounded by her computer monitors and wearing only her glasses and a predatory smile. "You're not helping," Tim said desperately.

Kon shrugged. "Dumb Bunny, of the Inferior Five?"


"Okay, not a great conversationalist, but have you seen her legs?"

“Kon, I’m really not in the mood to discuss the relative hotness of superheroines -- " Kon opened his mouth " -- and yes, that includes Kory's breasts. Batgirl's taken an interest in me. I don't understand. But I'm not upset to be having sex with her. And I don't know why." Tim looked over at Kon. "And you're thinking I'm gay, aren't you?"

"Well," said Kon, "being surprised at not being upset to be having hot shower sex with a beautiful, competent, extremely dangerous woman would tend to indicate that." He shrugged. "On the other hand, if you were gay, I figure I'd have been sodomized by now."

Tim blinked.

Slowly, he turned his head to stare at Kon, who looked dead serious. "Wait," Tim said. "You mean you -- "

"No!" Kon yelped. "No! God, no! But -- dude, I know how your mind works. You’d come up with this complex, intricate plan, with a million contingencies in place to defeat any possible countermeasures I might attempt, and before I know it – boom!” He paused. “Hell, you’d probably even make me like it." Kon shrugged. "Of course, I'd probably just be a cog in some larger plan. Like, you'd just be using me as practice before you moved on to Nightwing...”

"Okay!" said Tim. "I'll listen to anything you say, just stop!"

Kon grinned in satisfaction and raised his hands to the sun, like a priest giving thanks to a pagan deity. "He promises to listen!" he said. "And so my plan bears fruit." Kon frowned. "I think this means I know you too well. That was way too easy."

"Does this mean I'm going to get sodomized?" Tim said.

"Ha," said Kon. "No. Although I fear for you if somebody explains to Batgirl the concept of the strap-on. I just have one question." He turned to Tim. "Do you like the girl?"

"We fight together," said Tim.

Kon rolled his eyes. "Stop thinking like she’s a frigging asset in combat. You’re not your boss, okay? I don’t mean, ‘can you tolerate her company.’ I don't mean, 'can she kick your ass twelve ways from Sunday, and do you find that strangely sexually appealing.' When I say ‘like,’ I mean, 'like' as in, 'do you like me? Check this box.' "

"Kon," said Tim, "we fight together." He paused, looking for the words to explain. "My parents were never home. I didn't have much luck making friends until I was in high school. I spent my childhood obsessed with urban legends. They were my best friends in the world, and until I was thirteen they didn't know I existed. I spent a lot of time without a lot of friends." No, thought Tim. That wasn't right. "I spent a lot of time alone."

It felt strange to put it into words this way, as if he were describing someone else; he'd never considered himself as a subject of investigation this way, and wondered if Bruce ever did.

"I got used to being alone. It's the way I like to be. I don't open up to people, I don't talk about myself, I don't tell people what I'm feeling because half the time I don't know and I don't think it matters. Maybe that's not normal. But I don't spend time with people unless I have a reason to. And I do." He shrugged, and tried a little smile. "We fight together," Tim said. "There's not a higher compliment."

Kon hesitated, and Tim wondered if he was in for another lecture on relaxing. Then Kon shrugged and spread his hands.

"You know," Kon said, "you and I fight together, too."

Tim raised his head and looked Kon evenly in the eyes. "Yeah," said Tim. "We do."

After a long moment, Kon laughed. He picked up a pebble and casually snapped his wrist, the way Tim had before. The pebble streaked out of sight. A long whitecap along the water announced its fall a quarter-mile away. Kon looked at Tim and shook his head.

Kon said, "All I'm saying is, it could be love."


"Slow night," said Tim.

"Yes," Cass said.

They were twelve stories above downtown Gotham. The roof of the old Thompson's Department Store was above the on-ramp for the William Finger Expressway. The streetlights below showed the on-ramp, and part of the Finger, and the surrounding streets. Batman had heard a rumor that the Burnley Town Massive was going to have a cocaine shipment coming through, and that the Young Turks, one of the smaller, hungrier syndicates, was going to make a move on it.

An hour into the stakeout, Commissioner Gordon had happened to mention to his daughter over a late dinner that the Massive's shipment had been impounded two counties over, after a highway patrolman pulled the courier over for a busted tail light. Barbara had waited five minutes, then excused herself and called Batman from the ladies' room.

Tim and Cass had waited around, just in case the other crew showed up with their firepower and made trouble. Oracle had been skeptical of that possibility. By now, so was Tim.

Tim sat back in the shadows. Cass crouched on the edge of the building like a gargoyle. Nothing happened on the street below.

Nothing had been happening for three hours.

Tim's earbud chirped. That meant Barbara was calling in on her cell phone. He saw Cass's head lift, so it must be coming in on her earbud, too. "Hello," Barbara said. "On a scale of one to ten, how bored are you guys right now?"

"Let me guess," said Tim. "Nobody's coming to the party."

"Dad got a call right before the dessert cart," said Barbara. She kept her voice light and chatty. She must have been calling from the table. "You wouldn't believe what happened to this gang, the Young Turks. GCPD beat cop looked in the window of a car parked outside their leader's house. Saw a grenade on the passenger seat."

Tim said, "Oh, you're kidding me."

"Hand to God! The whole bunch is under arrest, and ATF and the Army both want to sit in on the interrogations. Dad's out on the phone with ATF now. Something about stuff being stolen from the National Guard. Can you believe it?"

Tim pinched the bridge of his nose. "Thanks for telling us," he said. "Hope your evening's going better than ours."

"Oh, it's great. We're at l'Unicorn Joli. Nice place. Ever been?"

"No," said Tim.

Cass said, "Good breadsticks."

"I should run," said Barbara. "Dad's coming back. I think we're getting the check a little early. Night, guys. I'll be home in a few, if you need me."

As the call disconnected, Tim leaned back against the wall. Lightly, he beat his head against the brickwork. Then he looked over at Cass.

She was back in stakeout mode already and looking over the edge of the building. The corners of her cape, dangling over the edge of the building, rose and fell gently in the breeze. Cass had pulled the cape over her left shoulder and down in front of her. It didn't hide her form. When Tim looked at her, silhouetted against the cityscape and the moonlight, he seemed to see all of her at once: the grace, the strength, the curves, the pointed ears of her cowl and the scars beneath her uniform.

Tim felt a rush of something he didn't understand, and couldn't entirely control.

Tim said, "Come here."

Cass turned to face him. "Why?" she said.

Tim had never felt more transparent in his life. She didn't need to ask. She already knew, and he knew she knew. He felt suddenly embarrassed, and it was worse for knowing he couldn't even cover it with small talk. He couldn't dress it up, or hide it. Pretend to be less of the stereotypical male. Say anything that would mean she wouldn't know what he wanted. What he was thinking. Come here. Please. I want you.

"I want to hear," Cass said. "What you'll say. If it matches."

"Because I want to kiss you," said Tim. "Even if I don't understand."

Cass nodded thoughtfully. "Close enough," she said, and pounced.


The problem with mad rooftop sex, Tim realized once they were back in the Batcave, was that it meant you got bits of roofing tar in your underwear.

He adjusted his crotch as best he could, and checked to make sure no one was watching. No one was. The cave was empty. Alfred had left a tray of sandwiches on the console. One had two bites out of it; that meant Bruce had pretended to eat long enough for Alfred to decide honor had been satisfied and go to bed. Tim and Cass had the cave to themselves, at least for now. He thought about experimentally taking Cass's hand, but when he reached out to do it she stepped away from him and walked over to the Batcave computer.

Something felt strange. Tim wasn't sure what it was. Other than the roofing tar.

He rummaged in his waistband and pulled a few chunks free. He suspected he'd still be finding them in the morning. He looked at the bits of tar, shook his head, and let them fall to the floor. "That was different," he said.

"Yes," said Cass. She looked down at Bruce's sandwich thoughtfully.

Tim had the strange feeling again. It happened when Cass moved. Something had changed since they'd gotten back to the Batcave. He hadn't felt it on the rooftop, before, or during -- or afterward; she'd even stayed in his arms, stayed with him in her, for a short time after they'd done. Tim had been surprised that she hadn't gotten dressed again immediately, and again when she looked down at him, her mask still half on, and smiled. She'd kissed him then, the softest, sweetest kiss she'd ever given him, and cupped his face in her gloved hand before she pulled away.

Things felt different, now.

Tim frowned. "I wish I could read you the way you read me."

"You can," she said. "A little."

Tim frowned. "Enough to know that there's something... odd."

As Cass smiled gently at him, Tim felt a strange sense of disequilibrium. Something was wrong, but he didn't know what. He tried to approach the problem from the other end, the rational end: decide on a list of things that could be wrong, and see which one matched the available evidence. Experience had led him to always conside mind control and alien invasion first, but they were also the first possibilities to be discarded. Cass seemed in good health, and he knew from her medical records that her contraceptive implant was still good. She seemed happy when she was fighting crime with him, and he'd gotten the impression she enjoyed the sex. If she wanted to know if he loved her, she only had to look at him, and she'd know before he did. None of it made sense. He didn't know what it could be.

And then he did know, but he still didn't understand.

"You're dumping me, aren't you?" Tim said.

"Not exactly," Cass said.

"Yeah," said Tim. "I know. It wasn't really..." What was it? What had it been? He hadn't known at the time, and now he still wasn't sure. "It was shower exhibitionism, and then unexpected handjobs and intercourse and eventually rooftop sex that I think Oracle was probably listening to... but you weren't trying to build something with me, were you?"

"No," said Cass.

It was disappointing, but almost a relief. Tim didn't have to wait for the other shoe to drop anymore. "Then why?" he said.

Cass looked at Tim as if he were a couple of bricks short of a load. "Training," she said.

Tim blinked.

Even as his world shifted around him, he could feel the pieces dropping into place.

It made sense, in a Cass-like way. She and Tim were training partners, after all. Nightwing was in Bludhaven these days, and Steph wasn't inclined in that direction (although for a brief instant Tim had a disturbingly intriguing vision of Cass and Steph, naked and wrapped around each other), and Bruce -- no, Tim didn't want to think about that, but Bruce had made it clear he didn't want Cass with Superboy, either, so if she wanted training in that particular... skill, where else would she go?

Hold on, Tim thought. Training. Training for what?

Cass grinned at him and nodded at the computer before she walked away.

Tim's gaze followed her gesture. The computer was dark, and the desk was clear. Bruce's cowl and cape were discarded and folded over the big chair. The costume was on the rack for cleaning, and Tim could hear the water running. Bruce must be --

Cass draped her costume over the console and walked, naked, into the showers.
Tags: dcu, fic

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