Kris would rather be chained up in Mr. Mayhem's secret lair than sit through another Super League meeting, but it's not like he gets a say about it. So he sits in the meeting like a good little sidekick, trying not to roll his eyes as the superheroes gossip and whine about their jobs. God, they're worse than his mama's sewing circle.
The Raven Queen is complaining about the puns in her headlines, and Fire Man's pissed about his latest sexual harassment suit, and it's all so unbelievably privileged. Kris has to tune it out so he doesn't lose his temper and tell them all what for. He spends the meeting flexing his hands around a Starbucks cup—boiling and flash-freezing the coffee over and over until the flavor's completely ruined—just to keep busy. And to keep his eyes from straying down the other end of the table.
Inevitably, the conversation turns to sidekicks—a favorite topic at these meetings. Kris grits his teeth as the heroes laugh about their weaker-halves, always in need of rescuing, only good for comic relief or target practice, belittlement ad nauseam. He can almost feel Time Zone's eyes boring into him from the end of the table. But Kris keeps his head down and smiles like he doesn't mind the jabs at his absent peers. He's the only sidekick in attendance because Titanium can't be assed to take notes or keep his own calendar; which means Kris has become his superhero's personal secretary in addition to crime-fighting partner. (Partner. Hah. What a joke.)
He's inured to the Super League's general contempt for sidekicks, but it's still a shock to hear his own alter ego trashed.
His head jerks up as he replays Delilah's comment, something about Celsius's run-in with the sinister, sewer-dwelling toad men. Kris had handled the situation just fine: no damage to city property; the trapped utilities crew evacuated without injury; and he hadn't needed any help—or rescuing—thank you very much. But no, she's laughing about the photo plastered across the front page of the Metro Reporter, the one of Kris climbing out of a manhole, his red and blue costume covered in brown sludge.
His ears flush.
And then Titanium pounds him on the shoulder and says, "Thank god it wasn't me. Can you imagine? That's why I keep Celsius around; someone's gotta do the dirty jobs…and the dry-cleaning."
Titanium's stupid jokes at his expense are nothing new, and Kris takes this one like so many kicks to the ribs: suck it up; soldier on; lick his wounds in private.
But a low sound comes from the other end of the table, and Kris has to check. Time Zone has an elbow on the table, rubbing his fingers together in an overly-casual manner, and he's glaring covert switchblades at the other superheroes' backs. The way his finger slides against the pad of his thumb makes Kris shiver with anticipation, but he catches Time Zone's eye and gives a small, firm shake of his head.
Don't do it.
Time Zone holds his gaze, his customary smirk fading into something grimmer, determined.
No, Kris signals again, and turns away before anyone notices their silent conversation.
The superheroes couldn't care less about Kris, though. Titanium's jabbing a rock-solid elbow into Fire Man's ribs, guffawing over some other sidekick's public humiliation, and Kris bites the inside of his cheek so hard he tastes blood.
And then he hears the SNAP.
The next sound is silence. The hum of the air-conditioning unit, the rumble of the subway tracks just beyond the walls of the subterranean sanctuary, the jeers, the mouth breathing, all gone in an instant. Kris takes a loud breath and turns to glare as Time Zone shoves his chair away from the table, metal legs scraping across the concrete floor.
He keeps his eyes on Time Zone as the superhero rises to his full, imposing height and stalks past the frozen league members. Coming straight for Kris. He moves with the swagger of the tall and broad-shouldered—a character flaw shared by too-many superheroes, all assuming just because they're bigger they'll get their way without a fight.
But Kris can melt manacles with a touch, can freeze a concrete wall to absolute zero and crumble it with a tap. No one intimidates him—not superheroes, not villains, not anyone.
"What are you thinking?" Kris demands, pushing his own chair back to meet the seething superhero. "Not here!"
"Why the hell not?" Time Zone growls. "It's not like they're gonna know."
"It's forbidden! If they even suspect you've messed with them, they'll ban you from the league. You know this!"
"Fuck them," he grits out, advancing into Kris's personal space. "They don't get to talk about you like that, like you're not even here."
Kris grabs Time Zone's purple trench coat and jerks him close. "Yes, they do, Adam." From this angle, Adam's snarl looks more like a pout. Good: a sulking superhero is less dangerous than a pissed-off one.
"They're all assholes. I'm embarrassed just sitting in the same room with them. I should crash Titanium's next press conference, write DICK across his forehead between one frame and the next and see how many cover photos that gets him."
Kris wants to laugh, because yeah, that sounds like a dream come true. But when Adam's in this mood the last thing he needs is encouragement. Kris shakes him a little. "You know you can't. Don't even fantasize about it if you can't control your temper. I can handle a little trash talk," he adds, gentling his tone.
Adam's still glaring around the table. "You shouldn't have to listen to this."
"I'd rather they do it to my face than behind my back."
Adam's glare lands on Titanium, face caught in a rictus of unattractive laughter, his nostrils flared wide, mouth gaping open as he rocks back in his chair. "But from him," Adam snarls. "He's supposed to be your partner, damn it. He's supposed to have your back."
Kris rolls his eyes. They're seriously having this conversation? Again? Adam isn't just stopping time; he's stuck in a time loop. Kris cups his hands on Adam's cheeks, forcing him down to meet Kris's gaze. "My contract's almost up—"
"You shouldn't even be a sidekick! With your powers, you deserve to be a full-blown superhero already. Screw Titanium, screw the sidekick contract—you should be working for yourself. Or partnered with another superhero, someone who respects you and what you can do." Someone like me is the rest of that tirade, and Kris wants that, too, is counting the days just like Adam.
"Eight more months before I can upgrade," Kris reminds him. "Even you can't make that time pass any faster. If anything," he leans back against the table, dragging Adam with him, "you're making it slower."
"We should be," Adam insists, refusing to be derailed. "We'd be the best super-duo this city's ever seen."
Kris slides his cool hand behind Adam's neck, tracing an icy chill along his hairline. Adam shivers but doesn't drop the subject.
"Eight months is too long, Kris. Not if I have to keep listening to them—"
Kris shuts him up with a kiss, warm hand drifting down Adam's throat to tug at his collar. Adam sighs and leans further over him, bracing his hands on the table on either side of Kris's body. When Adam rolls their hips together, Kris moans and lets Adam lick his way inside, exploring Kris's mouth at his favorite, torturously slow pace.
This is perfect, Kris thinks, arching into Adam's leisurely caresses. Perfect, and unprofessional, and a well-earned fuck you to Titanium, frozen just inches away. Kris can't help glancing at the empty eyes around them as they grind against each other, in full view of the entire Super League. If they had any idea, Kris thinks dizzily, his blood running hotter at the risk. If Adam's control slipped for just a split second….
Adam has broken out in a sweat, Kris's hand inside his coat burning eager warmth up Adam's spine, heated silk turning damp under his palm. "Love your hands on me," Adam gasps, and snaps his hips when Kris finds a nipple, teasing him with a shock of careful cold. "C'mon, take it off," Adam begs, tipping his chin down at his costume. "On my skin, come on."
Kris leans up for another kiss, another, heady with the power he has over Adam like this. God, they really are perfect together. But he eases his hands away. "Not here," he pants. "We're not having sex in the secret sanctuary."
"Why not? They'll never know."
"They'll know; they'll smell it. Or we'll break a chair, or knock someone over. And then you're completely fucked."
Adam grins. "Don't you mean you're completely fucked?"
Kris shoves at his shoulder. "Nope. You're the one who stops time. I'll be sitting right where I was, looking totally innocent. And we both know you aren't gonna take me down with you."
Adam pouts at Kris's presumption before catching Kris's hands and tugging him away from the table. "Fine. But soon. Tonight. Where are you patrolling?"
"The south wharves," Kris says, and then mentally kicks himself for giving it up so easily.
He'd been looking forward to an uneventful patrol and a good night's sleep for once. The hours of marathon sex on whatever roof, fire escape, or public sidewalk Adam finds him on really take their toll—even if all the clocks claim they never happened. Titanium looks baffled every time Kris comes back wrung-out and sore from his patrols. They don't need that asshole getting more suspicious of their stolen time together.
"I'll find you," Adam promises and kisses him again, languid and deliciously thorough, and there go Kris's best intentions to get some rest. Having a secret boyfriend—one who literally has all the time in the world to get him off—is a burden Kris is all too happy to bear.
"Now," Kris says when he can catch a breath, "let's get this meeting over with, okay? The less I have to look at his ugly face, the better."
Adam grumbles but releases him, and Kris's hands miss Adam immediately. Kris takes his seat and wraps his fingers around the coffee cup, trying to remember what expression he'd been wearing. Adam settles into his chair and waits for Kris to meet his eyes. "Ready?" Adam asks, fingers poised to snap.
Kris double checks his posture, runs his fingers through his hair to fix any mussing, and shoots Titanium a glare he can't wait to give to the man's face. Adam's right; eight months feels like eternity.
"Babe," Adam says, but Kris doesn't answer. He leans down to check the placement of Titanium's feet, how far back he's tilted his chair. And he always tells Adam no, always restrains Adam's mischievous impulses, but maybe this once…. With a wicked grin, Kris grabs one of the chair legs and hauls it up another few inches, just past the tipping point.
When he settles back into position, Adam is beaming at him.
"You're amazing," Adam tells him, and Kris knows he means I love you.
"You, too," Kris says, and then schools his face into a solemn expression. He takes a deep breath. "Ready," he says, and waits for the SNAP.